Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Parties

Happy Halloween!
So we have been doing one party after another! What a fun time! I love Halloween. Every year we have a traditional pumpkin carving party at our house. Here is some of the gang out in the garage decorating their pumpkins.
Look at how seriousy my two boys are! Can you tell who Calvin looks like?
And here is Martin- he is just happy to stick his hand in and get all goopy! He was having so much fun!
Belive it or not we got most of the kids together for a big picture of all their pumpkins. We just love our neighborhood! There are so many amazing kids in our neighborhood.
Then we had our ward trunk or treat. It was a blast. We decorated our trunk like a pirates treasure trunk. Josh did something so we could use our plugged in stuff. We had spider candle lights and a cauldron. And of course we had the skeleton flag. Martin and Cal had a blast. They got tons of candy. Cal was red spiderman for this party and maybe will be black spiderman for the next one. Do you like my neclace? Cal picked it out when we were in a tribal village in the Amazon Jungle. It is boar's teeth. And my earrings (they are covered with my hair) are Anaconda snake ribs. Who knew that I could get my Halloween costume accessories in the middle of the jungle!
We hope everyone has a Happy Halloween! I will post more pictures tomorrow of the rest of our Halloween parties as well as trick-or-treating tonight! YIPPEEEE!!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Central America- the Book of Mormon Lands

In September Josh and I (we left the kids at my mom's house) went to Guatemala and Mexico City. We had a wonderful time. It was fascinating to learn more about the sites from the Book of Mormon. The areas we visited were so green and lush. It was beautiful. When Joseph Smith wrote about the Book of Mormon he wrote about many places in Central America he knew where ruins were that no one knew until John L. Stephens went down to investigate after the Book of Mormon was written. He wrote about rivers, mountains and many temples, etc. that were built. It all matches up. If anyone is interested- I have a few extra maps that I could send to you that places the Book of Mormon sites with the cities now in Guatemala, Mexico and Belize. Just let me know if you want one! It is fascinating!! We went to Mexico City first. Here we are at Teotihuacan. There are many different ruins, but the most famous are the Temple of the Moon and the Temple of the Sun. Here is the Temple of the Sun. Josh and I both climbed it. For those of you who don't know what the Book of Mormon is- it is a book translated by Joseph Smith in 1830's. They are records from people who left Israel in 600BC and traveled to America. It is about their life here in America. If you have questions- let me know!
Here is an Ulmec head. The Ulmecs were the first civilazation here in South America. For those of you who have read the Book of Mormon they are a candidate for the Jaredites. The Jaredites arrived exactly when the Ulmecs arrived (convenient don't you think?) These huge heads are all over certain places in Central America.
Here we are in Tikal. These are impressive ruins. At the top of this ruin is a very famous carving called the Tree of Life. There are two very famous Tree of Life scenes in Central America. One we nicknamed the "mormon" tree of life because it deals with Lehi's dream of the Tree of Life. This is in the Book of Mormon in 1st Nephi. It has Lehi, his wife Sariah, and his sons Nephi, Laman, Lemual, and Sam in the carving as well as the rod the tree etc. I don't have a picture of this yet, I can post it later. But this carving was of the Mayan Tree of Life. It has Quetzekatl (which is the white god and a feathered serpent) on the carving. Another fun thing is there are many symbols all over and one of them means "and it came to pass". This is fun because "and it came to pass" is all over in the Book of Mormon.
More ruins in Tikal. By the way- I am not trying to be preachy about the Mormon religion. I am just telling you what I learned while I was over there.
This is where the carving of the Mayan Tree of Life as well as the "and it came to pass" symbol was at the top of that temple. The picture didn't come out to well. I am going to try to find another one and I will post it later!
Again- Tikal. Isn't it beautiful. It was surrounded by a rainforest. Gorgeous!!!
When we got to Tikal we climbed up a temple and this was the view. Isn't is impressive? The ruins sticking out of the top of the jungle. We loved the jungle while we were here. We heard Howler Monkeys, saw tarantulas crawling around- but I can tell you we couldn't wait to get out of the humidity and heat!!!
It started raining when we got over to this ruin. We climbed all the others, but it was raining pretty hard so we didn't climb it because limstone turns to slimestone when it is wet!
Here we are getting absolutely drenched in the rain. It was a blast!!! We loved it!
After the ruins we went to go on the zip line over the jungle. There were 8 different zips. We were zipping past monkeys as well as toucan birds, etc. I let go of the rope and hung upside down. What a thrill. It was one of our best days on the tour visiting Tikal and doing the zip line!
We did quite a few different boat rides on our tour. Here we are going down the river to see some ruins. All the houses along the river looked like this.
Here are some young boys fishing.
These big carvings were in quite a few different places in Central America. It is quite impressive to look at because of the intricate carvings.
Can you believe how much she is carrying on her head? This is how everyone carries things in Central and South America. Crazy!!! Anyways- she had a bunch of really beautiful handmade things to sell. She is LDS and is in the Relief Society presidency and her brother-in-law was the Bishop. We thought how fun it was to meet her!
Well, all good things must come to an end. We had a great trip. I hope to be able to do it again!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

An adventure in Peru

So I know it has been many months since I have posted. I apologize but we have been gone so much over the last few months. I need to get caught up. However I thought I would begin with my first adventure and then I will post the other places we have been exploring.
We just got back on Monday from Peru and Bolivia. And boy was it an adventure. We began in Lima. We spent a few days touring and then flew to Cusco. This hit 11,000 feet and so we felt a little sick from the altitude. However the next day we took a train ride back down to 8,000 feet to Machu Picchu. This I highly recommend because then when you go back to Cusco you aren't as affected.
I must say that out of the many sites I have seen in my life Machu Picchu is up there in the top 10 sites to see!!! Here is me and Martin tramping around the site. This is also listed as one of the 7 wonders of the world and I understand why. We took a bus up to the top of the mountain and from there we hiked in. It was absolutely beautiful. There were alpacas and llamas running all over the place and they were very nice. Here are a few pictures of this amazing site!
Here we are at the top of one side of the mountain. There is a little tiny house up there called the guard house. This is such a fun place to hike to for pictures. I can't tell you how tired I was after today. I was carrying Calvin or Martin the entire time. I really need a massage!!!!
Cute little alpaca. They look like llamas but they have smaller noses. They are all over Peru!
When we got back to Cusco we went touring around. This lady had to sweet little lambs on her lap. She was very intrigued with blonde little Martin and of course he was very intrigued with the lamb. She let him hold one of the little lambs. He had a blast, although he screamed and yelled when I tried to pull him away! I told him to ask Santa Claus!

Cal was playing with these little girls in Cusco. Aren't there little outfits adorable.

I love having my kids with me when we travel. Not only because they are seeing the world, but also because the world seems to let us in more. Everywhere we went on this trip (as well as most other trips) they see my children and know that I am a mother just like them. We know the importance of motherhood and although we may be different in many ways- we are most important above all- mothers! Mothers from all over come over to talk to me or shake hands with me or even smile with me because we are mothers. Isn't this baby so cute?

By now we all had headaches and were pretty tired from the elevation. Martin sat down and didn't want to move. A few minutes later about 15 kids came over and kept touching him and trying to hold his hand. It took me about 20 minutes to get him to leave that position.
This was another highlight of the tour. We flew up even higher elevation to 13,000 feet to Lake Titicaca. I love it here! We took boats out on the lake to find these human made reed islands. The people build these islands out of reeds and then they live on them. I couldn't believe that people still live like this. All of the people in the town and on the islands dressed similar to these styles of clothing- although not always so brightly colored. They were so nice to our family. It was amazing to walk around on these islands. If anyone goes to Peru do not miss Titicaca.

Here is a picture of their houses on the reed island. When Calvin got on the island he asked where our house was. I told him that our house was very far away and that we needed to take a plane to get to our house. He asked me whose house was this? I pointed to the children nearby and told him it was there house. He then said- mommy their house is so small and our house is so big. I told him you are right. We are very lucky and I hope you never forget it!!!

Here is Martin with the kids. Everywhere we went on this tour everyone would follow him around, especially the kids. They loved his blond hair and blue eyes. But they would also follow Calvin around as well. I don't think they see many young kids from America in these areas.

So, we left the high altitude and the cold weather and headed into the Amazon. We flew into Iquitos a city in Peru. We then had to board a boat for 2 hours to get to our hotels. They were out in the middle of nowhere on the Amazon River. They were superb! I loved it. Here is a picture of how the local people live on the amazon. However, not all of their houses are as nice as these ones. There is a lot of poverty in this part of the world

We stayed in these fun bungalo's. We would do hikes through the jungle during the day. We saw monkeys, tarantula's and all sorts of huge insects!!!! It was beautiful to walk through!

Calvin was in heaven with all these bugs. Check out this millipede! Disgusting! But I did hold it.

There were some cute animals in the jungle. The monkeys were really cute and this little baby Tapir was darling! Cal loved him. He just hung out where the different little bungalo's were. We would see him, these miniature deer, macaw's and some other animals. The place we were staying had banana's hanging all over the place. You could just pick them and eat them. Cal loved to feed the little tapir banana's. He really liked Cal.

We also got to go fishing for paranna on the Amazon. Both Josh and Cal went fishing. Unfortunately they didn't catch anything but they were certainly biting. They kept stealing the little pieces of steak we put on there for them. Hungry little suckers. I was very careful not to fall in!

Here is Josh fishing. They just use sticks for poles. And the hooks weren't that good. I would have to do that every day for food for my family. How am I so lucky?

Isn't he funny? This is a baby sloth. He belonged to a little boy from a tribal village we went to. He moved so slow it was really quite comical. He was hanging onto me pretty hard

We took a boat ride about 45 minutes from where our hotel was and then walked about a mile from shore into the jungle to visit this tribal village. Aren't they beautiful children. Some of the women were topless or they barely covered themselves with the straw hanging down. The kids were so sweet to Martin. They all played with him the entire time we were there. He loved them and was sad to finally say good-bye.

These men are the tribal chiefs. They still use blowdarts for hunting. Josh and I were able to try out the blowdart. They put up a piece of wood and we each took a shot blowing out the dart. I got it on my first try and Josh got it on his second. What a difficult way to hunt.

This made me so sick. Do you see the black thing she is holding? That is a huge ant. Well the kids were playing with these when suddenly she twisted off the back part of the ant and popped it into her mouth. The other kids did the same. Sick!

Here is Josh with the kids.

All in all this was a wonderful adventure. I feel so blessed to have been able to visit such a beautiful and amazing place. Peru is incredible. I hope to be able to go back again and visit. It is a great reminder for me as well to know how blessed I am to have a home, running water, food in my fridge and the too many countless blessings above and beyond my needs. We are so lucky to live here in America!