Tuesday, May 12, 2015

ISU Graduation

My younger brother, Aaron, graduated from Idaho State University last Saturday. He sent us an invitation and when we got it I was in the mood for a road trip. When the date came around some stuff had changed and our road trip ended up being less than 24 hours. But! We got to see Grandma Peggy and Grandpa Bob's handiwork in their basement, Bridget got to play American Girl Dolls with Grandma, the boys and Bridget got to sleep in Grandma's basement, we sat in the mini dome (Holt Arena in Pocatello) for hours, and we had an amazing celebration lunch. Totally worth it. For real - we've missed so many big things in my family, I like it when we can work it out to be there.
My Dad would've been in this photo, but he was the back-up name announcer and he couldn't leave his post. As soon as Aaron had walked across the stage, he (and we) got the heck out of the mini dome. The highlight, besides finally getting to cheer for Aaron, was the announcer declaring that someone was getting a Master's in Accountability instead of Accountancy. :) I thought for sure Dad would get called up to do the rest of the ceremony after that. Hahahahaha!
Cousin Macey with her college-graduate parents. (Lori graduated last year from ISU.)
Uncle Rob and Cousin Ian joined the party, too. (He he he - my Mom multi-tasking.)
Don't worry, this ended well.
This is how ISU alumni relax - Bengal socks.
Aaron's father-in-law, Bob, is holding Macey while Aaron cuts the fancy cake. Mostly I just like this photo of Brian. And you can see the board and batten (right?) my parents have done in their basement.
 Soon after the cake, the boys started loading the car back up. Ian is carrying three Gordons in this photo.
Traditional porch picture - all three of my kids have their eyes closed, but at least Bridget has her good gloves and jewels on. :) Lori and her family left to give Macey a little relief. 
Now one with Uncle Rob and Cousin Ian. That was the best we got of Ian. My boys in this photo. Ha! My Mom says her door is red. I say purple. And I didn't doctor this photo at all. ;)

What a pleasure it is to celebrate accomplishments like graduating from college. It's a big deal. Good job, Uncle Aaron.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Early Mother's Day with Grandma

Now that we have a missionary in Brian's family, we had to move our Mother's Day celebration to the first Sunday in May. (Dena's got to be home for the big phone call!) It turned out pretty nice - I think we have a new tradition. The men did a pasta dinner for us again and it was a lovely day outside. To the photos...
Bridget and Grandma - both so pretty.
Grandpa held a bucket of candy and the kids flocked to him.
This swing set never had it so good.
Hal, Kyle, Denise, Dena, and Brian.
Harold likes to move rocks. Wait, he likes to have Brian move rocks. :)
The big boy cousins let the little boys steal their hats.
Abby and Bridget made smoothies. Here's Colin telling Abby he needs more smoothie.
Aiden was not having this photo op. Our kids slept like... rocks that night. :)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Itty Bitty Spaceball

Emil and Colin both call baseball "spaceball," which I love. Pretty much everything they do makes me laugh... and drives me crazy. They spent the last two weeks doing itty bitty baseball (they did football and soccer last year). I am WISE to the photo taking ops now and I only brought the camera one of the six times they went. They do the same thing every time - let's not go crazy here, people.
Funny warm ups.
Good...good...eyes are on the ball.
Look at this. Not the shoes. Look at that swing! 
Never takes his eyes off the ball. And he's always by the girl on the team. :)
I love the dugout in this photo. Belly scratcher.
As always, the boys' skill sets are totally different. Emil could catch the ball every time, but he was not great at bat. Colin could not catch the ball for anything. My reaction was to chuckle and listen to my book. TJ's dad's reaction was to yell, "RUN, TJ! GET THE BALL, TJ!" Three year-old TJ apparently couldn't hear his dad, so his dad got up and went over to yell at his son at close range. Um, remember that photo of the dugout a moment ago? Yeah. 
When we got outside I asked the boys to do a baseball pose for me. (I took 75 pictures of them inside and the ones I've posted are the only ones that even remotely worked. BAH.) Thank you, Emil. Always.

There you go! Soon we will use these photos for a retrospective of a fabulous career - and it all started at the local rec center hitting a ball dangling from a string with a red plastic bat.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

At the Dunes

A few weeks ago we went to the sand dunes near Holden, Utah, for a post-Easter party with Brian's family. It's the same place we went for our picnic on our family history tour, but this time we had more family and ATVs. And more food (bonus). The kids played and played, hunted for Easter eggs, played some more. Right about 3:00 in the afternoon the wind started blowing so hard that no one could endure it any longer. So! Here are some pictures. :)
Colin giving Daddy a ride.
Emil is so efficient.
Nate was the project manager on this castle.
He wants six towers, not five!
Soon after the sixth tower went up, Colin walked right through it. Like it was sand.
Brighton took people on rides a lot. Here she is with Auntie Janessa.
Then Brighton took her Daddy, Jed, for a ride.
Then, the HUNT!
Kalvin was a great Egg Hunt mentor.
Yes, Emil brought a wagon for his collection.
And I ended up carrying it back for him.
Sweet Bridget.
And Colin. 

It was chilly, yet sunny. I'm glad Colin had long sleeves on. Brian and I came home with burned necks. Mine peeled later and I neglected all my responsibilities to peel it every chance I got. Ew. Easter has been sufficiently celebrated, I think, now that we've had an egg hunt in the sand dunes. :)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spring Break Staycation

The day after our family history tour in Delta, we began our staycation. The boys counted down the days. From eight. Emil would wake up every morning and tell me the number of days left. Math homework; check. The kids all packed their bags (and then I re-packed Emil's and Colin's bags) and our first stop was the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point. Bridget wanted to read everything and look at all the displays. I've only ever brought kids under six years old to that museum (we get a pass to Thanksgiving Point almost every year), so it was weird to be with someone who wasn't running. Not so weird to be there with two boys who were running.
After the Dinosaur Museum, we went to the big gardens at Thanksgiving Point. It happened to be the first day of the Tulip Festival, which is one of my favorite things. I cannot think of a time that Brian has been to the gardens with us. WHAT?! How can that BE? But it's true. Because it was the Tulip Festival, they had a scavenger hunt for facts about tulips. That hunt ended up making me feel kind of bad. Did you know that 300 years ago (or something) one tulip bulb was worth a TON of butter? And there we were looking at millions of them in one place. And it was just another day.
They had food trucks parked near the water falls, which was perfect since all of us were starving. Brian, Bridget and I got some Korean food at Cup Bop and the boys got waffles at the Bruge's truck. (Bruge's has a truck now!) We sat at the top of the amphitheater and ate and some of us rolled to the bottom between bites. 
There we are. In love and on vacation. :) I had to crop out a bum from this photo. It should be noted that I started feeling a headache come on right about this time. Foreshadowing.
The kids in the Secret Garden. There was a line of people waiting to get photos of their kiddies on this bench, or I would have tried harder to get Emil to stop being weird. Yes, he's in winter boots and Bridget is wearing flip flops. Right after Thanksgiving Point we went to Target and bought Emil shoes. His feet are growing right now. They never stop.
I love Camperdown Elms. We slaved over that scavenger hunt for hours and the kids were rewarded with a tootsie roll. A small one. Not cool, Thanksgiving Point. Once Emil had his seasonally appropriate shoes, we went to Little America in Salt Lake. (Bridget asked me during the week before we left, "When are we going to Tiny America?") We had a lovely room. I looked out the window for a minute and when I turned around, the contents of both the boys' suitcases were on the floor. Ha!
Bridget and Colin ready for the pool and relaxing. Bridget's feet are filthy. This is how I found out.

We took the kids to the pool, which was pretty full and mostly cold. I took the boys to the bathroom (separately) and spent most of my time in the hot tub with Colin. And other kids. (Public pools with kids are kind of the worst, aren't they.) Bridget had a great time, thanks to Brian doing her bidding and then staying there to really swim after I'd taken her complaining brothers back to our room. :) By the time everyone got back from the pool, I had a full-blown migraine. Brian took the kids to get dinner and go for a little train ride to Temple Square. As a family. Without Mom. :( I puked and puked and puked. At one point I thought I was going to die in a hotel room alone. But I didn't. The next morning we went to a fancy breakfast in the hotel.
There's my Sweetheart Lovie. The kids took their place mat art very seriously.

After breakfast it was another train ride to the Clark Planetarium. We wandered around and looked at the cool stuff while we waited for the movie, which was happening in the dome theater. Anyone? I kind of feared for my life when I saw that the screen was surrounding us and I was still shaky from the night before. Luckily Brian and I were able to take a nap during the odd movie. We were home in time to play with friends and do laundry. Success!

The kids are still talking about how much fun they had at the hotel and the museums. Cheers to living close to cool stuff!

P.S. We recently drove by a food truck round-up and Bridget noticed Cup Bop. "Mom! Remember Cup Bop?!" Yes. Yes, I do. It's still too soon to talk about it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Family History Tour: Searle and Clark Families

A few months ago when my mother-in-law, Denise, was telling a story about The McCornick House (a place I've often heard of), I mentioned that I'd like to see it and take pictures of it before it falls over. The McCornick House is legendary in Denise's family history. Her grandmother and grandfather, Carrie Nielsen Clark and Lawrence Clark, bought 40 acres in McCornick in 1919. Some shady land developers convinced dozens of recently married LDS couples in the surrounding area that McCornick was the next big thing. Plenty of water! Crops will grow and you'll be rich and happy! Almost 100 years later, the Clark home is pretty much the only thing (barely) left of McCornick. 

Last Thursday, April 9th, we took a drive to Delta and McCornick to see the legendary cabin. On the way there, I read Brian the 16-page history Denise gave us.
"[Carrie's son] L. Nielsen and her brother, Rex Griffith had dug a cellar five feet deep and twelve feet wide by fourteen feet long, making a roof over it with cedar posts and boards then covering it with dirt. They hung their bedsprings from the roof of the cellar, making beds for the boys and a place to store their food, clothing, and some light furniture.

"Then, When Carrie and the girls arrived, they took their huge canvas wagon cover and built a lean-to on the side of their wagon, boarding it up - which served as a kitchen and dining area. Here they set up their kitchen range, table, kitchen cabinet and chairs. Carrie wrote: 'It was fit for a Queen!'"

Okay, let's stop here for a moment and reflect on our lives.
This is Carrie Nielsen Clark and four of her children (from left to right: Denise, Nola, Edra, and Niels). My mother-in-law is named after her Aunt Denise. Edra (the five year-old on the right) is Denise's mother. Don't they look clean here? :)

"The next day after the girls and I arrived (10 April 1919 being my Mother's 53rd birthday and Easter Sunday), we went half a mile from our farm to a sandy knoll up by the canal bank and had our Easter party, taking our lunch with us and hiding eggs." One of the Easter traditions in Brian's family is going to the sand dunes for a picnic and hunting Easter eggs. I've always wondered why they think that's normal, and now I know! :)
Denise and Bridget walking up to the Clark home in McCornick, April 2015.

In May 1919, more families had moved in, crops were growing, dreams were coming true. Carrie Clark: "This beautiful day the last part of May 1919, we had just sat down to our noonday meal when all at once we heard a roaring noise. We all looked at each other, so bewildered - we had not had time to think. One of the men said the banks of the canal must have given way. We all looked up and there, not a half mile away came the surging stream of 200 second feet of water headed right toward us. There was not one thing we could do but get out of its way.

"It came rushing on but thanks to the leveled ground when it first came out of the canal, it cut a deep gulch and washed twenty feet deep and some fifty to sixty feet wide and a forty-acre field long before it commenced to spread out. So by the time it reached our camp, the water was three feet deep in some places. four and five feet deep in other places. We were stunned. For a while no grownup or child made one sound."

In August 1921, the crops looked great. On the 14th of August Lawrence went to Delta to get twine so they could finish cutting the grain crop. Everyone else was at church. Carrie Clark: "It commenced thundering and lightning and just like a cloudburst - a real hard rain in the town site and all the other farms. But when we went back home, a hail storm had hit our three forties [acres] (Mother's, my brother's, and ours) and five other farmers. Just took a strip two forties wide and four forties long. Threshed out every bit of grain on the ground. We had had another lovely garden but the tomatoes and melons were shot full of holes as if they had been shot with a twenty-two. Cabbage and lettuce were stripped of their leaves. Our turkeys and chickens were lying dead all over. 

"So there was no need for the twine."

I can't even write this down without losing it! Brian and I laughed/cried at all the things we think we've suffered after reading his great grandmother's words. Carrie's mother, Margaret Bridget Allred Nielsen Griffith, had come across the plains and now she was dealing with all this bad luck in McCornick along with the Clarks. (I loved finding out that we had inadvertently named Bridget after such an amazing ancestor. Margaret was a nurse and a pioneer.)
Standing: Carrie Nielsen Clark, her mother Margaret Bridget Allred Nielsen Griffith. Sitting: Enid and June Nielsen (or Griffith?)

Denise with grandsons; Nate, Colin, and Emil at the Clark house in McCornick.
Grandma showing the kids the very stairs she went down to sleep in the basement as instructed by Grandma Carrie Clark. (The family spent summers in the McCornick house after they moved to Delta in 1930 so the kids would have somewhere to go to school.)
Grandma Carrie would lead Denise down the stairs, snuffing out the black widow spiders as she descended. 
It was fun to stay at Grandma's house, but kind of scary, too. :)
Bridget and Grandpa collected pretty glass near the... kitchen, I guess?
Emil, Bridget, and Colin sitting on the edge of what I think was the grainary. Beyond them is some of the 40 acres the Clarks owned.
Grandpa found a lizard and tried hard to catch him. The boys (except Nate) cheered him on.

In 1930, Lawrence and Carrie Clark moved to Delta. Most of the other farms had been foreclosed (not enough water for all those farms), so there was nowhere for the Clark children to go to school. We actually saw the Delta house first on our tour, but I'm putting those photos here. (Denise was born in this house, by the way.)
Carrie and Lawrence Clark in front of their home in Delta, 1930.
Eighty-five years later - those trees really grew up! Back row: Brian, Debbie, Hal, Harold, Denise, Dena, Kyra holding Brighton. Front row: Bridget, Nate, Emil, and Colin.

We didn't hear as many stories about the Searle family on our tour, but we did visit the old home of Delbert and Ruth Searle in Delta.
Denise's father is Donald Searle, Delbert and Ruth are his parents. This is their home in Delta.
Harold and Denise with grandchildren (and great grand child) in front of the Searle home.

We've had the wedding portrait of Denise's grandparents, Del and Ruth Searle, in our front room for many years. It was very cool to see where they lived and raised their family.
Back row: Del, Donald (Denise's father), Alta, and Ruth. Front row: Archie, Sidney, and Arda.

If you're like me, you're wondering what happened to Del's hair. Denise said he had blood poisoning and it turned his hair completely white within a very short time period. I love having that wedding picture where I can see it all the time. Such a handsome couple. 
Del Searle, Don Searle and Harold doing their favorite thing - fishing.

Just like our ancestors, we headed to the sand dunes after our tour for a picnic and a Junior Arrowhead Hunt (Harold brought some of his chips and dropped them in the sand where the kids could find them). I was inspired not to complain too much about having to use a sagebrush for a bathroom. Carrie Clark was a queen in a castle in a lean-to! I can do anything.
Emil and Bridget, Brighton, Colin, and Nate.
Oh, man! So dirty. The shoes were almost done, this was a fitting farewell.
 Brighton perfectly accessorized for the sand dunes.
Sweet Bridget burying herself in the sand.

I want to take this kind of tour with all my grandparents! I can't put into words how special this was - I'm glad we have these stories to share with the next generation.