July 6th marked Dwane's 70th birthday. Since we were there the week before, Mom decided to have his party a week early. She spent weeks racking her brains to think of something special to do to celebrate and came up with hot air balloon rides. So REALLY early in the morning (5:30am!) on Wednesday we loaded up in cars to pick up the balloon guy and go to the launch site out in Washington Fields.
It was really cool watching them get the balloon unpacked and set up for rides. They used two smallish fans to blow up the gigantic balloon. I would not have believed it would be so easy. Although it did take them a long time to get the basket unloaded from the truck and ready to go. By the time the balloon itself was ready to take off we were all wishing we would have stayed in bed for a while longer.
The balloon guy (never got his name, sorry) said he could do three "hops" with three adults each and then a couple of tethered rides for the kids. Dwane went up with Casey and Chad for the first hop, Keri, Tim and Paige took the second and Mom, John and McKenzi went on the third. The trick for those of us on the ground was to follow the balloon so we could be there when it landed to switch the passengers. We felt like storm chasers. There was this line of 6 or 7 cars that were making u-turns and cruising down rutted dirt paths trying to catch the balloon. It was very Twister-esque. And very fun!
After the third hop, they anchored the ballon to the ground with a rope and did two quick up and down rides with Sam and I and some of the cousins on the first one and then Mike and Rebecca and some more kids on the second. The kids were not huge fans of the rides, mostly because it was super hot and loud. The fire they use to make the balloon rise combined with the fast increasing temperatures of St George was painful. I enjoyed the ride but didn't get much of a chance to look around. One of my little nephews was in tears so I was on my knees holding him for most of the ride.
The rest of the day was spent resting, swimming and recovering from the early morning- after we had cupcakes with Grandpa that is.
Day four was our first day in the recording studio. First up: the kids singing the song Lisa and Keri wrote as well as another primary song. The kids were excited to be in a studio. You should have seen Henry (11 years old, brilliant and in love with all things electronic) when he walked into the booth where our tech was sitting. His eyes where the size of plates and his fingers were just itching to push a button or 12. It took a while for the recording tech to set up so I entertained the kids by playing hot potato with a (clean) diaper. (It was all I had!) When they were finally able to record, getting them to hold still when they were singing was another matter altogether. I think my nephew, TJ, only holds still when he sleeps (and even that is debatable) and he was not the only one that had the wiggles, just the biggest.
After the kids, Mom and I and Keri were up. Mom really wanted to sing a solo. For my entire childhood, my mom was almost completely tone deaf. She would sing all of the hymns at church off key despite our best efforts to teach her otherwise. On school days she used to threaten us with her singing if we didn't get out of bed. By the time I left for college, however, she was starting to find her way musically and actually joined her ward choir. Lately she has even been taking voice lessons. However, she is not 100% comfortable singing on her own yet. Mom called me about a week before we were to arrive to see if I would sing her solo with her. I agreed, but with the arrangement she was using we ended up adding Keri in for the fourth verse so the solo ended up as a trio... until we started recording. We recorded it once and were preparing to rerecord the third and fourth verses when Keri suggested that Mom try the third verse (her favorite) on her own. Mom was so nervous I actually held her hand to help calm her. She did a beautiful job and although tenuous at the beginning, ended strong. I can't wait to hear how it sounds on the cd! I am so proud of her!
Once Mom and I were finished, we took the kids back to the house for lunch and to get ready for the water park. Everyone else who had a solo prepared stayed at the studio to record. The water park we went to was built just a few years ago as part of the Washington Rec Center. ( Washington is a suburb of St. George- although I use the term loosely.) The water park had a hydrotube, lazy river, infant area and some smaller slides and other fun water toys. The best part is that it was shallow enought that Sam could touch the pool floor everywhere so he just took off with his cousins and didn't need a life jacket. We spent a couple of hours swimming and sliding and floating and generally having a great time. It was a great way to relax and enjoy the kids before our looooonng recording day on Friday.
Stay tuned... (get it?! Ha! I crack myself up!! Ok, maybe I shouldn't blog when I am tired.)