We built a swing set!

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A certain seven-year-old sister of mine recently outgrew the kiddie swing set in the backyard. This wasn’t just a minor inconvenience but a real calamity, since the swing set was her therapy. Whenever she was emotionally overwrought my mom would send her to the backyard; she’d sing her lungs out and swing for a couple hours and then come back inside a new creature.

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Swinging wasn’t just her therapy; in her words, “Swinging is my best talent. I’m going to be a swinger when I grow up.” So there you have it. Her healing balm, her talent, and her calling and vocation.

Mark and I had drawn her name for Christmas, and I really wanted to get her a swing set big enough for her. But real backyard swing sets are ridiculously expensive. So I decided that we were going to build one.

Mark warned me that it would be a long, involved project. “No, it won’t take that long!” I told him.

He was right. It was a doozy. I guess I underestimate how long and intense things will be—like the high Uintas backpacking trip we did with 4+ feet of snow on the ground last summer, or the 500-mile camping road trip on the bullet bike the summer before. Or buying and remodeling a decrepit 60-year-old house on a shoestring student budget.

But the best feeling in the world is biting off more than you can chew and chewing it anyway, right? It was an involved project. But the wonderful man I’m married to stuck with me and didn’t complain or remind me, “I told you so.” We finished the swing set on Christmas Eve, just in time for a little sister’s Christmas present (and just before a three-day blizzard hit).

And the effort was all worth it every time we see this happy swinging face!

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Westwater Canyon, the Jordan River, and Summertime Water Adventures

Logan (age eight), Evan (age six), and me (age ten) on top of Mt. Timpanogos

Logan (age eight), Evan (age six), and me (age ten) on top of Mt. Timpanogos

The same way I spent my childhood camping in the Uinta Mountains, hiking through southern Utah’s red rock canyons, and eating tinfoil dinners “because if you’re going to eat dinner anyway it might as well be over a campfire,” Mark spent his childhood at the Pacific Ocean.

Mark and his brothers at the Ventura Pier. Photo by Michael Sears.

All the brothers at the Ventura Harbor. Photo by Michael Sears.

Growing up only four blocks, and later eight miles, from the beach, Mark inherited his dad’s love for the ocean, for surfing, and for beach volleyball. Family fun meant body boarding, tossing a frisbee or aerobie around in the sand, and catching waves. And whenever we go visit the California folks, it still does.

Photo by Michael Sears.

Photo by Michael Sears.

Photo by Michael Sears.

Photo by Michael Sears.

Now that Mark is here in my landlocked country to stay (at least for the next few years), he’s been having some water recreation withdrawals, so we do our best to find summertime aquatic adventures.

We love the Mona rope swing…

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The water park that’s only five minutes from our house…

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And the Payson Grotto with the siblings.

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Last summer we decided to go whitewater rafting for Mark’s birthday. We piled our camping gear on the motorcycle and drove 235 miles to Moab, where we set out for Westwater Canyon.

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Westwater Canyon is a seventeen-mile stretch of the Colorado River that features class IV rapids and otherworldly terrain. It’s a black volcanic rock canyon inside of a red rock sandstone one, so when we weren’t paddling as hard as we could through the rapids and trying to stay in the boat, we got to float and take in the gorgeous scenery.

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And this year for Mark’s birthday we found a good deal on an inflatable paddle boat! We’ve already taken it on some grand adventures: to the Spanish Fork Reservoir with friends and on a seven-mile journey down the Jordan River, where we saw amazing wildlife (a beaver so big it looked like a baby bear, among other things) and felt like we were in another world.

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Feast your eyes!

…On the photos I took at the Payson Scottish Festival!

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The Scottish Festival is a longstanding Brown family tradition, and one of the things that makes summer great. We all love the traditional fiddle and sword dancing performances. We never miss the Highland Games (our favorite events are the caber toss and sheaf toss). The kids love the sword and weaponry booths. And the genealogist in me loves to explore the clan booths as my heart swells with contentment at seeing so many people getting geeked out on their Scottish heritage.

Of course, the very best part is when all the pipe and drum bands march in the grand parade and then unite to play “Scotland the Brave.”

And here are a few highlights from Scottish Festivals of summers past.

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Practicing her sword dancing on the grand stage

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Highland dancing at its finest

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Logan and Mark watching the parade

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Elihu suited up for battle

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On the battlefield

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Natalie vanquishes her foe

Happy summer! Long live Scotland!

 

It’s summertime bike-riding season again!

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…And I couldn’t be happier. Especially since Mark has a month-long medical school rotation in a hospital an hour and a half from our house, so we get to stay with my family for a month! Right at the mouth of the canyon, in the foothills of the mountains with the prettiest sunsets in the world.

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