Grove Creek backpacking with the kids

Last year, I took Katelyn and Megan backpacking up American Fork canyon. This year, we brought Jacob and Claire along with us too. We were also joined by the Rowberry family. My Uncle Greg and I were out talking one night and he expressed some interest in exploring the trails just east of the Pleasant Grove bench.

We had been up Battle Creek canyon before, rappelling for a family home evening, but I hadn’t been backpacking up either Battle Creek or Grove Creek, nor the valley that connects those two canyons behind the “G” mountain.


We planned on camping up at Indian springs (GPS Coordinates 40.3941925, -111.704204). Since we started later than we had planned, we didn’t have time to dilly-dally, but we couldn’t pass up on some of the incredible views of Utah county.



As the lone rookie backpacker in our family, Claire did great. Just like the other girls did last year, Claire insisted on packing up her stuffed animal (“Lammy”). The trail was tough and steep, but Claire did great.


We passed a pretty good camping spot in the pines, but decided to press on another half a mile until Indian spring even though it was getting dark.

Unfortunately, when we got there someone was already occupying the spot we had targeted, so we had to try to find some semi-flat ground and set up our camp in the dark. But, when we awoke in the morning we found we were in a pretty nice spot.


We hiked back down after cooking some breakfast and filling our water bottles at the springs. The kids had an activity they had to be at by noon.


It was another successful backpacking trip with the kids, even though this one was significantly more difficult than last year.


Lessons learned:

  1. If possible, scout the location beforehand, especially if bringing new backpackers
  2. Leave stuffed animals at home
  3. Leave plenty early to avoid setting up camp in the dark
  4. Avoid the rush; allow for more unstructured time
  5. Brian said mid-May is an ideal time for that hike


Jake’s summer business: Lawn Rangers

In the summer of 2014, Jake started his own business. He started edging lawns and got several neighbors interested. So, Jake plunged in.

We had an old edger that Manina bought from a yard sale. But Jake knew from edging our own lawn that that machine just wasn’t an option for a commercial lawn care business. So in April 2014, he secured a $400 loan from his grandpa Mike with the promise to pay it back in August with $5 interest. He researched a few models and ended up purchasing a McLane 801 edger and Hitachi leaf blower from Amazon. He also invested in a hand edger for curves and tricky-to-reach spots. He worked hard that summer and had no trouble paying back the loan.


Jacob has worked hard the last couple summers, slowly adding more clients. He takes pride in his work and loves to drive by his customer’s lawns and point out how good they look.

For this 2016 lawn season, Jake purchased a new weed whacker and a new self-propelled lawn mower to add to his equipment. He’s offering full-service lawn care and has even talked a friend into working with Jake on some of his bigger jobs — his first “employee”.

He has a bunch of clients around the neighborhood and seems to add new ones all the time. This keeps him plenty busy during the summer.


For Jake’s birthday, we made him a couple T-shirts with a logo we had designed by his Uncle Matt Thurman (thanks, Matt!).


I’ve had more than one of his customers come up and tell me what a great job Jake is doing. Even the owner of Bunker Lawn Care (Jake’s biggest competition) came up to me and told me how proud I should be of how hard Jake works. People are taking notice and it’s starting to pay off.

Keep up the good work, Jake!

Big 16 for Jacob!

Can you believe it?! I have a 16 year old! I have a third driver in my household! This is a long time coming. I had many grandiose ideas about a big party for Jake, but he made me promise that I would not do a surprise party and that I wouldn’t do anything elaborate. At first I was disappointed but I appreciate how he just wants to keep it simple and be with our family. All he wanted to do was go to lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, get his driver’s license, and have an ice-cream cake. We did just that!

He woke up to a bedroom filled with lots of balloons and we served him waffles and strawberries in bed. After getting ready for the day we met up with Seth for lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. Yum!



After lunch we headed to the DMV. Of course something had to go wrong. We waiting in line for 30+ minutes and when we got to the counter the guy told us they recently added a new online test you have to do before you can get the license. It was basically four videos you have to watch and then answer 10 questions. Ugghhh! So he started his videos while I ran and picked up the cake.

Once completed we had to stand back in line. Of course this time it was about and hour long. So by nearly 4 pm he became officially licensed. He was so excited and luckily his ice-cream cake hadn’t melted in the hot car.


After dinner, the Rowberrys came over to help us celebrate. They brought Jake a shoebox full of his favorite things. It was super sweet.




It was a simple day and exactly what he wanted. Although Jake can test my patience at times, I love him more than imaginable. He fills our family with lots of “firsts” (first kid, first to ride a bike, first to go to school, first to drive…). We are grateful for the sweet young man he is becoming and excited to see what the next couple years bring. Happy Birthday Jake…now go find yourself a first date! 🙂

Diagnosis: MRI


SPOILER ALERT: Jacob is just fine. Totally healthy and nothing to worry about.

Jacob went in for his annual medical physical exam this week. He came out with some disturbing news.

We’ve been going to the same pediatrician for several years, and he’s always been a doctor we could recommend to others.

The doctor went through the usual battery of tests. He was wrapping things up and marking things down on Jacob’s chart and casually asked if there were any other problems.

Jake said, “Nope. I feel great.”

Then Manina jumped in, “Well, he does get some headaches…”

She then proceeded to tell the doctor about the (handful of) headaches Jacob has complained about (very rarely). The doctor jumped at the chance. He didn’t seem interested that the headaches Jacob experienced over the summer seemed to be the day after an all-nighter with his buddies, or after working out in the sun all morning and not drinking any water. He seemed in a hurry to prescribe some serious action: Jacob needed to get an MRI as soon as possible.

He was very insistent at the appointment, and he even called our home phone number an hour or two later to encourage us to get an MRI. You’d have thunk the doctor owned stock in MRI machines or had to fill some quota of referrals by the end of the month like a used-car salesman.

Unfortunately, that put us in a very awkward position as parents. We’ve never considered something to be wrong with Jacob, other than he typically doesn’t handle pain or discomfort very well. Yes, this caused us to misdiagnose a broken foot a while ago, but we were pretty sure his headaches were just that — headaches.

But, here we have a doctor pretty much insisting on an expensive procedure for a problem that was quite literally an afterthought. Should we? Or shouldn’t we? Is it a total waste of time and money? Could we live with ourselves if we didn’t do something now only to find out even worse news later?

With some serious reservations, we decided to schedule the MRI. We shopped around and went to Wasatch Imaging, where we wouldn’t get charged hospital prices.


They gave us back a shiny CD with a bunch of pictures of Jake’s head. Like this one.


Isn’t that a good-looking brain? At least we’ve learned one thing from this process—he does have a brain. His doctor, well, we’re still not so sure.

I wrote this entire post before the doctor phones us back with the results, I was that confident that this was a bogus diagnosis. But, yesterday the doctor got the images and he called us to give the good news: Jake is fine. There aren’t any huge tumors in the back of his brain causing occasional headaches. But, he does look like he has a sinus infection and should probably get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids for the next couple days.

Watch Out! Jake is Driving!

Jake turned 15 in June. It wasn’t but a couple weeks later that he was bugging me to get his Driver’s Permit. Here in Utah you don’t drive, even with a permit, until you are 15. Then you can drive with your parent(s) in the car until you are 16. Once you are 16, have forty hours of driving under your belt, and have taken Driver’s Education, you can drive on your own.

He is well on his way to 40 hours. I am guessing he is already upwards of 15 hours now. If he is in the car, he is driving. I have been impressed with his desire to learn and to learn to do it right. I won’t pretend we didn’t have to nudge him often in the car with reminders (or should I say scream as loudly as I can to keep from crashing into the car in front of us), but he is really doing great. Many youth are intimidated by driving on the busy roads and although he was a little hesitant at first, he is getting more and more comfortable taking on these challenges.

Truth be told, Seth is a far better driver than I am so I always encourage Jake to drive with him. I figure to be the best, you have to learn from the best. I won’t pretend that I am not a little excited to have a third driver around here in the next year!