Monday, June 29, 2015

June Birthdays and Father's Day Style

We celebrated Father's Day at the beginning of the month (it worked so well with Mother's Day) with Brian's family. When June started, it was pleasant to be outside - and it's always fun to be at Grandma and Grandpa's house with all the cousins.
Dena found a newspaper article from Harold's football days in Springville and had it printed for him. She chose this article in particular because it refers to Harold as "The Bruiser." :)
Grandpa and Bridget, kind enough to stop eating and pose together. Bridget injured herself on her scooter the day before this party.
In addition to Father's Day we were there to celebrate these two being a year older. The two most handsome birthday boy and girl in all the land.
They got what is now their traditional Caramel Cake. Grandma provided ice cream so that we actually had a piece of cake to take home for Brian and Bridget's breakfast. :)
Not only did Brian and Bridget request the cake, but Brian asked for extra frosting in the middle.
We were recently home from Yellowstone and we had to show everyone the video of the kids seeing Old Faithful. 
Janessa pitched to Bridget and Emil and sometimes Colin, when Colin wasn't busy throwing that bear (his "stuffy") and teasing Nate.

Bridget wanted some practice because she had a softball camp in June. It was two days with the local high school's girls softball team. They've been state champions for two years in a row! Bridget is trying as many things as she can so that we can find her people and her thing. You know what I mean.
Even with a friend there (Sami, right next to Bridget), this was Bridget's face for softball camp. I should have taken an after picture, though. All smiles.

Also at the beginning of June, Brian took the training wheels off Emil and Colin's bike. Emil took off, wobbling and crashing all the way down the street, but always getting up. Colin crashed once and was d-o-n-e with that nonsense. After just a few hours of practice, Emil was turning and riding up on the curb of the driveway. His grin almost came off his face, he was so proud of himself. He even went to a few neighbors' houses and told them to come out and watch him on his bike. We have kind neighbors. :)

For Brian's birthday, the kids spent the night before at Grandma's house with Nate and Abby. Brian and I went to an early movie (Avengers: Age of Ultron - you see one building blow up, you've seen them all, amIright?), then out to eat, then home to watch the Netflix DVD we've had at our house for three months (Draft Day - skip that one for sure, if you haven't already). I'm glad it's not our normal life - it used to be when we were trying to have a family for ten years - but it was kind of nice to just do that stuff without someone having a meltdown. (I did have to use the restroom during the Avengers movie. I didn't miss anything.) The next morning, Brian's birthday, I made him open his present - a new phone - then go back to sleep while it charged. We went to the temple before going back to pick up the kids from their tired grandparents.

Six days later it was Bridget's birthday. She asked for a dog and a tablet. My heart is forever hardened against getting a dog. It will not happen. I don't care how cute the kids are with a dog. She did get a tablet, though. Her brothers gave her an instruction book for doing her doll's hair and a body board. Grandma Peggy made her an apron and Annalee an apron. She got some fancy pens with feathers on the ends and two journals from her birth mother, and a jewelry box from her birth mother's parents. It was a pretty sweet haul.
We planned a pool party for the next day when the three friends she invited could all be there, so this was Bridget for most of her birthday:
Fine by me! For one day, anyway. It's been unbearably hot the last week or so and this is secretly all I feel like doing too. On Friday, though, we were definitely in the heat at the local pool. Public pools are a faithful nemesis of mine. Especially when they're crowded. More proof that I will do anything for Bridget. Except get a dog.
These four were so adorable playing in the pool. (Through the magic of cropping you can't tell how crowded it was.) They made up routines for me to judge. Then we went to Pizza Pie Cafe for dinner with Daddy and the brothers.
It was the day of the mini float parade here in town and luckily Bridget is friends with Clara and Clara's mom is up to sitting on the curb in 108 degree heat to watch a parade. We left Bridget with Clara's family to enjoy the parade while Brian, the boys and I collapsed in air conditioned comfort back at our house. The two-day celebration ended in perfect happiness for Bridget. She's nine now!


Friday, June 19, 2015

Milestones

The nieces and nephews on both sides of our family are starting to hit important moments in their life. I remember well the weight of All the Decisions. Where to go to college, to go or not go on a mission, whom to marry. AH! A few months ago Katy sent me some of her oldest daughter, Eliza's, T-shirts to make her a quilt. I've mastered the T-shirt quilt, guys. It's not a problem anymore. :) Eliza's is made up of Youth Conference shirts, percussion and music shirts and Spartan race shirts. I love how individual a T-shirt quilt turns out. This can only be Eliza's quilt. I put cozy minky on the back - it's the only way to go.

On the other side of our family, Janessa is getting ready to go on a mission to Peru and she took out her own endowments at the Payson Temple last week. Was that really only last week? It was the fourth day the Payson Temple was operating, so there were lots of newbies working. Brian was chaperoning Youth Conference and couldn't come, but I was so happy to be there to cheer Janessa on.
I had my camera to take photos afterward, but this one I took with my phone is my favorite. I love the view from the Payson Temple - seeing the farms feels very right. :)
Here is Janessa with her new friend, also going through the temple for the first time that night.
Janessa with Grandma and Grandpa.
Janessa's sweet work friends were there too. These are the ladies who work in my pediatrician's office. It was nice to see them out of context.

Next, this is not really a milestone, but I'm putting it here anyway. I had my piano painted! While we were at it, we decided to get the desk painted as well. (The desk was Brian's grandma's and it was in pretty rough shape.)

Before.
After of the desk. Bridget and I picked out the knobs. The third one down on the right broke off when we tried to twist it in. Nuts.
It's Annie Sloan "Louis Blue" chalk paint. A woman named Angie painted both the desk and the piano. She came back again to do another coat on the piano and a shiny polyurethane coat on the piano, too. She said she couldn't sleep knowing it could look better. Nice. :)
 To me it feels like the piano takes up less room now. We've moved it to a different wall and the new paint in the room makes it brighter in there too. Ahhh. Fun for everyone. Except maybe Brian. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Where Us Going? Yellowstone!

Brian and I really wanted to take the kids to Yellowstone National Park for Spring Break this year. I called and booked a fun room at the Three Bears Lodge in West Yellowstone for a few nights in April. Just before we concluded the phone call, the woman helping me said, "You know the park doesn't open until April 18th, right?" No. I did not. We changed dates to the end of the school year since we like to take off on that day and go somewhere overnight as a family.
The boys were coming out of their skin with excitement. They packed their suitcases for "Lellowstone," then I added pants to Emil's bag and shirts to Colin's. (I thought Colin had forgotten to pack underpants, but he unzipped a front pocket to reveal ALL the underpants. He was covered.) We stopped in Pocatello to eat breakfast with Grandma Peggy and Grandpa Bob, which was perfect. (I saw a yellow Volkswagen Beetle and called out "Beetle Bop!" in Pocatello. Colin said, "Hey, that car is like the stone." What stone? "Lellowstone.") I think we were somewhere near Brigham City when I realized I'd left my camera battery charging at the house. NOOOOOOO!!!! So we did some ridiculous shopping in Idaho Falls - one place for a battery and another place for a charger. Booo. But, who goes to Yellowstone without a camera?

We got to West Yellowstone at about 4:30pm, just enough time to go to the Visitors' Center and get paperwork for the kids to become Junior Rangers and find out where the bears are before dinner. (Side note: the boys never, ever stopped asking, "Where us going?" One would get tired and the other would take over. It must be the worst to never be in charge of where you're going, but also, it is the death of me.) The park ranger put the fear into the kids and Colin held my hand like a good boy every time we got out of the car. (We saw a baseball cap near a hot pot at Old Faithful and Brian told the kids that guy must have melted because he got off the boardwalk. Hahahahahaha! Only funny to me - the kids' eyes bugged out of their heads.) We decided to start with Old Faithful after dinner. 
We turned the corner for our first glimpse of Old Faithful and it was going off. That meant we had an hour and a half before the next one and the sun would be setting. We had time to walk around on the boardwalk and find a Christmas ornament and get some ice cream. Pretty nice. :)
Just when it seemed that all hope was lost and Emil would never stop begging to get back in the van and go to our "hotel home," it started:
I can count on one hand the perfect moments we had on our little road trip - moments where everyone was happy. Old Faithful erupting was the first one. Brian recorded it and you can hear Emil asking questions and Bridget and me ooh-ing and ahh-ing. Then Colin piped up, "Is Jesus coming?" :) Everyone around us who heard him started giggling. He wasn't afraid, just curious. 
Nature is the best show. And I love that we got to see Old Faithful erupt as the sun was going down. Otherwise our seats wouldn't have been so good. On our way back to the hotel we had to stop several times for the buffalo heading home from their swimming party. 
We left the windows down so the kids could hear the hooves clicking on the road and the grunting. One of those huge animals turned toward our van and looked like he was going to put his face in the window, so I rolled up my window and Emil's window in a hurry. After we got by the first wave (there were several more to come) Colin yelled, "THAT WAS SUPAH COOL!" Emil still talks about it. :) Perfect moment number two.

The next morning we decided to look for animals and find a Junior Ranger class for Bridget. (She had to fill out most of the booklet on her own, but one of the requirements was to stop at a Ranger Station for a 20-minute class.) We discovered that if a lot of cars were pulled off the road, there was probably a bear to see. Sure enough, someone had spotted a Grizzly Bear and everyone had their telephoto lenses out trying to see him. (Next time, we bring Brian's fancy binoculars. For the love.)
I know - it's out of focus and he looks tiny. It's a Grizzly Bear, you guys! And he's not in the zoo! So cool. We found out later that it's pretty rare to see a Grizzly Bear. :) Here's what we did see:
Finding the animals was the most fun for Mommy and Daddy and Bridget (she bought binoculars at the gift shop with her own money). The boys mostly wanted to know, "Where us going?" So we got out a few times to walk around and to check out the Artist's Paint Pots.
It probably goes without saying, but this is my favorite. Even with the pile of poo next to them. (It wouldn't have mattered where they were, there would be a pile of poo. Nature!)
 
After the paint pots, we headed to the Madison Ranger Station for their 4:00 Junior Ranger Class, "Who Loves a Carcus?" Because, of course that would be the class we made it to.
There's a buffalo right over there - no big deal.
Emil has my heart, you guys. He knows how to make me laugh.

After we learned about the circle of life (yikes), it was time to get back to the "Sister" (that's what Colin kept calling the nice Ranger who gave the boys their paper with the animals on it and Bridget her booklet) and show her what we learned. But first, a U-turn to get a photo of the kids by the sign:
And then we had to wait for a family in front of us. And then wait again for the Rudest Brits in America. (Seriously, they practically stepped on our toes butting in front of us in line.) The boys finally got their stickers, even though their papers were mangled and they were INSANE while we were waiting in line.
I don't need to tell you there were tears very soon after this photo was taken. It's a roller-coaster of emotions when you're circling the drain.
She did it! Something about Bridget getting that badge makes me want to take her to all the National Parks. She was very thorough. When she was helping me at home Monday, she had me pin the badge on her shirt. Because she is adorable.

It rained as we tried to find a pizza place for dinner. The boys had lost their minds and insisted on sitting on either side of me in a booth. So many elbows. I saw an older couple watching us and smiling - not the first people to do that on our trip. I've decided the smiles are from people remembering this time of life that we're in right now. The kids are small and they love to be with us having an adventure. This is the dream, isn't it? A happy family on vacation. (There were also people who were not smiling - like the guy in the booth behind the boys and me who was bobbing up and down as Colin jumped on the bench. SIGH.) The next morning, we had our second free breakfast at the Three Bears Restaurant, then checked out the museum.
We watched a video about the fire in 1988, which Brian and I both remember. That was a big deal. Emil and Colin only wanted to know one thing while we were trying to watch that video; "WHERE US GOING?!" 

We stopped in Rexburg, Idaho, and showed the kids where Mommy went for her first two years of college. We also got out and walked around the temple there.
Colin and I went to a bathroom and this is what Bridget and Brian were doing while we were gone:
Funny. Hey - American Girl should totally have a National Parks get-up for their dolls. That would be right up Bridget's alley. 

Whew! As always, a road trip totally worth every moment, even the hard ones.