The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
November 2013

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Trip South

I was pretty excited to get done blogging about Halloween so I could get a move on to November and eventually December but then I just remembered that I skipped an event that I want to get on to this record.  Back in mid-October the state of Utah had its annual UEA weekend and we had a few days off of school. Troy and Chase were otherwise occupied but the girls and I decided to make a weekend of it in St. George. However, along the way, I really wanted to make a little detour to a little town in central Utah called Spring City. It's this amazing place where I believe the whole town is on the national historic register, and many artists make their home there. One of these artists is a cousin of mine, Joe Bennion.

I think it was back around high school or so when I started hearing a lot about this person. My mom, in her usual way, was very excited about connecting with her cousin - she had been a flower girl at the wedding of Joe's parents long long ago when she was five or six, and had grown up knowing him. Joe had become a potter, and has become quite well known. In fact, mom found out that someone had made a documentary about him called The Potter's Wheel. Mom and Dad made it a point to drive to Spring City once or twice a year to say hello and purchase some pottery. Slowly over the years our home began to fill with lots of fun (and heavy) items like giant salad bowls, 10" tall mugs, pitchers - amazing stuff. I think it's great how my mom showed her love of her cousin and of the arts by continually collecting so much pottery.  Another cool thing about Joe is that he's married to an amazing artist - Lee Udall Bennion, who works in oils. She is also definitely on the map in the art world. I love her paintings so much. Google her.

I always felt an interest in the Bennions and was excited and grateful to have this connection, but every time I joined my parents in a trip to Spring City, they never happened to be around. But I always felt connected anyway. In the years since then Joe has taken an interest in social media and does a lot of posting on Facebook and Instagram. I was tickled to touch base that way, and have really really enjoyed learning more about this amazing couple through his posts. More and more I felt strongly that I wanted to get to Spring City and meet them myself and somehow get to be more personally friendly. Well, when my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and as she steadily became more and more ill, Joe actually reached out to me, especially near the end of her life. We chatted a bit via email and such. I again felt a strengthening desire to build my own friendship with him and Lee. 

In the summer, when mom passed, the Bennions were set to be out of town during her funeral and we were both disappointed that they'd miss the funeral as well as meeting one another. I let him know I'd make a visit as soon as I could, but the summer proved a challenging time to connect as he is often taking groups of folks on river trips. However, October finally ended up being the right time and I was so happy that my girls were game to make our traveling day a rather long one. 
We had to fight some traffic getting out of town of course but eventually got to the countryside southwest of Nephi and really enjoyed the beautiful views. We found our way to Horseshoe Mountain Pottery and were very happy to finally meet Joe. Sadly, Lee was not around that day, so I guess I have to go back.

We chatted in his studio for a while - I was nervous that I'd really want to talk but would have nothing to say but Joe is an amiable guy and we didn't run out of conversation at all. I was so grateful to my girls for not once asking to leave or getting impatient. They really knew and respected how important this was to me. We picked out some treasures - a honey pot and a couple of little mini drinking vessels that I keep on the counter because there is just something about them that totally sparks my joy. We then strolled down to the local cafe, Das Cafe. I was so pleased when Joe suggested going since half of his posts seem to happen there as he meets with friends. I had always wanted to try it and was so happy he was willing to spend some time with us. The girls were cute and took a couple of pictures as we walked along.

Then we took a few pictures at this lovely little German cafe. I of course went with a bratwurst lunch with potatoes and sauerkraut, but the girls were grateful that breakfast was served all day.

The real treat for me was that after lunch Joe offered to show us his wife's painting studio - that was just magical for me. We drove a few blocks away - Lee's studio is in the upstairs of a very old barn they have restored. Their horses live below, and their house is across a few acres on the lot. I just loved being in that lovely creative space. I didn't feel like I could take pictures in there - seemed kind of sacred. I dream of having a space like that - bright and clean, full of creativity. Loved it.

I was so happy to finally get to Spring City. I just need to figure out how soon it's polite to go back and what else I can do to foster a real friendship. Don't ask me why this cousin-hood feels closer to me than so many of my mom's other 100s of cousins (literally) but it just does. I feel like these are my people I want to be more like them.

Getting out of Spring City caused me problems because I forgot to go back quite the same way I came in so our continuing trip to St. George was extra scenic, but that's ok. The girls and I had a lovely day traveling together, listening to music and getting treats. I just loved this day so much.

St. George was a treat as always. We filled our days with visits to the park, late night trips to get Sonic fries, and also we had this great afternoon in Sheri's parents' back yard. There's a climbing wall there and both of my girls were really hesitant to try it out and I could tell they both were going to feel really bad if they didn't try but were quite scared to climb it. I was very grateful to Sheri's dad who was calm and so supportive of them. They both climbed to the top and once they summited the first time they wanted to go about 20 times each again after that. Gordon was excited that they were excited and was happy for them to climb the wall as many times as they wanted. I was thrilled that they felt so successful. 

Oh yes and also we went and had dinner with my dear friend Marsha who moved to St. George like four years ago. I really love her! It's so funny, we hardly stay in touch but when we see each other its so happy. Our girls get along so well, even though they don't really stay in touch either!! We just had burgers and Marsha was super nice and invited Peter and Sheri too - Peter teaches her son cello so that's awesome.

Another fun activity was taking a morning to see Siena and Cara compete in a Jr. Triathlon - wow. That's so foreign to our family. They were awesome!

A memorable weekend. I'm grateful for that weekend. And NOW can I start blogging about November?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Halloween Hits Again

You know what was completely AMAZING about this Halloween? Emma had decided all the way last year what she wanted to be for Halloween. And she didn't budge from it for one single second! I can't believe it. My older kids, in the grand tradition of all children at Halloween, generally changed their minds once a minute as they planned their costumes, which planning usually started around October 31st at 9:05p.m. each year. I usually have to set a cut-off date by about October 10 and tell them that they absolutely can not change their minds after that. Of course that game plan hasn't worked out perfectly in the may remember the great Romney-Costume disaster of 2015. I totally caved. Romney laughs about it now but it's still a little too soon for me. So yes, I was super impressed that Emma picked out her idea a full year in advance and stuck to it, never wavering. She wanted to be a raccoon. (Praise her for her simple wish.) The big kids had some various ideas and switched around a bit here and there but luckily they were both pretty simple. Romney started out wanting to be Jeremy from studio C. Her hair was just the right length that with a fake mustache and some glasses she looked alarmingly like him. It was so funny. However, she had one event early in the month and her costume wasn't ready yet. (It took us a long time to find just the right mustache and even when she got it she found it to be horribly uncomfortable. I was very afraid of a repeat of 2015 and a last-minute refusal to wear the costume we prepared for her.) The day of her early party she decided to just throw together a witch outfit and ended up liking it so much she stuck with the witch for all of her Halloween events. Chase wavered less than usual on his plan. During the summer he had coerced me into making him a sweatshirt modeled after the costume of a favorite anime character named Naruto. When the sweatshirt was done it was the dead of summer but that didn't stop him from wearing it pretty much constantly. All summer. And all fall. And now that Halloween is long over, he's still wearing it basically daily. I pry it off his huge teenaged body about once a week to wash it. He wanted to be Naruto for Halloween, and it was easy enough to track down some matching orange sweat pants and a headband. The biggest challenge for Chase's costume was the fact that he wanted his hair to look like Naruto's. Long and crazy spikes. He refused to get his hair cut for like three months. That kid has a head of hair thicker than a bear pelt. It got seriously shaggy and didn't cooperate all that well when it was time to spike it up and I attacked him with gel and hair spray. But I think it got the point across.

Our Halloween events included joining in the pumpkin carving evening at our church. Chase....tried to sculpt a Naruto face into his pumpkin. It didn't go quite the way he planned but I still think it came out really cool. Emma went with a spider web which I basically did. I feel guilty - I should let her do her own pumpkin. But when there was something specific she wanted to do but just didn't have the muscles or precision to do it I had to do most of it. Romney went with the classic jack-o-lantern and did it all herself. Fun.

Like I mentioned previously, the Halloween events crashed landed on Chase's birthday weekend. However, now that he's a freshman in high school, he's outgrown most of Halloween. Pretty much everything but the trick-or-treating. So on Friday night I took the girls to the school carnival. Romney still wanted to go, even though she's in middle school now. It was helpful to have her take Emma around so I could do my PTA thing. In a strange and sudden burst of festivity I decided to dress up. I went with fortune teller/gypsy and kind of had a great time. That's not like me. My mom must have been the Halloween angel on my shoulder.

On Saturday, after Chase's birthday celebrations, I again took just the girls to the neighborhood trunk-or-treat while he had friends over at home to watch a movie. We didn't have quite the awesome turn out that we did last year, but I'd still say it was really fun and successful. It was great sitting in the back of my car with some girlfriends chatting with me and handing out horrifying amounts of candy to many many cute children.

On Halloween itself we hosted a soup on the porch event for many neighborhood friends. We had a lot of people here. I kind of wish I had invited even a few more. It was a really fun night. I love our neighborhood and all our neighbors. We eventually needed to get going on the actual trick or treating though. Chase, despite his maturity and distain for childish things took no issue with staying out with friends gathering candy to his heart's content. I took Emma and Romney with  my friend Ruth to go hunt down some houses of some favorite teachers and friends before heading back to our own neighborhood to pound the streets a bit. I'll say that one person we ran in to had an alarming enough costume that I will remember it forever. It was the dad of a little family and he was dressed as a terrifying clown. He was also wearing stilts that made him about four feet taller. My mom would have loved him. I felt like I needed to get away from him quickly and not let my girls get a good look at his face. After our candy gathering we headed in to Ruth's house for a few minutes of candy counting and warming up. It wasn't that late and the only real challenge was getting home and getting Emma's extensive makeup off her face. She had blackish eyebrows for several days. It was a really fun year for sure.

The kids don't wear costumes on Halloween itself but Emma had a good time picking out Halloween colors and wearing her Oma's spider necklace

Visiting the house of the beloved Jane, the girls' sewing teacher