Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Good morning Mr. Sunshine

Much earlier than I thought such a thing might have happened, Alexander has started pushing toy cars around. He loves things with wheels!

This morning he wouldn't stop driving his car around to have breakfast, which meant that I got to play the role of roadway. Anytime he dropped his car (or if I ever tried to take it away) he'd stop nursing so that he could retrieve/find it.

He also cruised along the entire length of the bed this morning without falling over. In the past when he's tried walking along the furniture either his top half would get over ambitious and he'd reach too far (causing him to tip over) or his bottom half would get antsy and he'd start bouncing and jumping (causing him to tip over). Today he just walked along the the bed like it was normal.

Mischief managed

Summer vacation will be over in three weeks and I finally screwed up enough courage to take them all to the public pool just a few weeks ago. I wouldn't have batted an eye at taking them to our neighbourhood pool back in Eno Trace, but a public pool is an entirely different matter. A public pool is so big and it's difficult to have your attention (and limbs) be pulled in five directions at once (especially around water; I can never quite relax when I'm around water with my children).

But it really ended up being just fine. There are paid lifeguards at the pool, so that's a nice backup (though they're just kids themselves!). Rachel and Miriam mostly went off on their own because they are big enough to swim on their own and go on the slides and that sort of thing. Technically Benjamin is big enough to swim on his own (though he's not big enough for the slides yet) but I don't like him getting too far away (unless his sisters know that he's their swimming buddy for a given amount of time). He's really a pretty good little swimmer and the pool really doesn't get very deep, so that really only left me with Zoë and Alexander.

I was holding Alexander and Zoë was paddling around nearby while Benjamin was diving down to the bottom of the pool ("to the Mariana Trench!" he told me). Suddenly Alexander started screaming bloody murder.

"I didn't mean to do that!" Zoë said, visibly surprised.

"What didn't you mean to do?" I asked, quickly checking to make sure nothing was horribly wrong with my baby.

"I didn't meant to do that," she repeated.

"What did you do?" I asked.

She simply hung her head in shame.

"Did you...bite him?" I asked after wracking my brain for a minute.

"Yes," she admitted. "But I didn't mean to!"

"Where did you bite him?" I asked but I never quite got a solid answer from her so we did a few laps around the lazy river while I soothed the poor baby. It was only when I was drying him off at the end of our swimming session that I found the bite mark on his arm—it lasted for days.

Later Miriam was giving Benjamin a ride on her back and their heads collided and he split his lip open. Oh, and Zoë got a bloody nose, too. I can't even remember how she did that!

But no one even came close to drowning so I'll consider that run to the pool a success.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Make it sew!

Not last week but the week before, Grandma signed Rachel up for sewing lessons from a young woman in our ward. She had four one-hour lessons, finishing up with her project (a skirt) on her birthday!

She wore her skirt to church today and looked lovely doing so.

Grandma took the big girls out to the fabric store so that Rachel could pick out this material for her skirt and to help pick out quilting fabric for Arwyn and Alexander's baby quilts. She said they were in fabric heaven, which I totally believe. They were in awe of how many beautiful (and how many nerdy (Doctor Who, Harry Potter, etc)) fabrics there were. 

Hopefully there will be more sewing in this house in the future!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Pizza Party at Red Ledges

We went out to Red Ledges for a pizza party picnic this evening and this time we knew exactly where to go to find the arch (and everyone laughed about how difficult it had been for us to find it the first time we came). We set up our picnic right below it and the kids wolfed down their dinner so they could go play. Dinner went relatively smoothly. Only one piece of pizza ended up on the ground (Gavin dropped his slice before he'd even taken a bite) and I only dropped, like, three cups of water (so it's a good thing we weren't at home or I'd have been mopping up water all evening).

Rachel's 11!

Despite all my protestations, Rachel turned 11 last Friday. We saved the real celebration for the next day (July 21) so that Auntie Emily could attend, since she so rarely gets to come to family gatherings, but we went ahead and opened a few presents on her actual birthday (because sitting around watching people open books is somewhat boring). She mostly got books, which probably comes as no surprise.

When she opened The Confidence Code for Girls, Andrew excitedly blurted out, "It's peer-reviewed!"

Rachel thoughtfully acknowledged this with an, "Oh, awesome!"

And Grandpa just about died laughing over how nerdy our family is. But that's okay. Rachel has been going through the book, doing the exercises in a little notebook (and I have noticed that she's been more open to taking risks, so that's nice).

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Grassylake: The farm (July 1)

I wasn't 100% sure I was going to add a trip out to Grassy to our itinerary until Patrick told me that Michelle was going to get there on Sunday. He and Josie had gone up to the farm early so that they could help with the bees (my cousins raised bees over the winter this year so they could set them out to pollinate their crops—so they had to assemble all these little bee house-tent things) and everything seemed really busy so I didn't want to impose or anything. But Michelle was my tipping point. We had to go the farm now (and I was very happy about that because the farm always feels like home).

Blah, blah. Monday, Monday.

Let me start by reassuring you (or myself) that we're going to be fine. We're hurtling on to the end of this cliff (Andrew's contract ends in August) and, all our hopes and dreams effectively quashed, soon we will nestle into Plan B (which honestly is probably more like plan Q by now) quite comfortably.

Once we figure out health insurance, that is.

We will soon be kicked off our current employer-based health insurance plan and only then can we browse the marketplace for a new plan. We can't set up new insurance before our old insurance ends so there will necessarily be a gap in coverage. I have been trying to tell myself that it will be fine. We're generally healthy people.

And then Alexander spiked a fever of 103°F this morning, reminding me that even generally healthy people still need to call their doctor every once in a while.

But I'm sure we'll figure all that stuff out.

We have adjunct work lined up for the next year, which will provide an income stream trickle (we'll be taking a major pay cut), and we have a roof over our heads (thank goodness for Andrew's parents), so we'll be fine.

On Monday we got word that Andrew was, yet again, not going to get a job he'd applied for. He was, we were told, at once over-qualified and under-qualified for the position. How that is even possible is beyond me (in short, we were told: his research/publication record was too stellar for an R2 school and he didn't have quite the amount of teaching experience they were looking for).

Not getting this position was a little soul-crushing. Devastating, even.

It was our final hope of having an actual job for next year.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Pioneer Day

Part of the reason I wanted to be all caught up on our Alberta trip posts was because the last thing we did before coming home was visit with Auntie Emily and her family in Idaho, which would have been the perfect segue into talking about Emily's visit to us here in Utah, right? 

Unfortunately, I have not yet finished writing about our Canada trip and Emily is already here!

So I wrote about meeting up with her in Idaho and now I'm going to write about Pioneer Day (because I may as well be timely about something in my life). 

Last night for family night Emily and her kids went with Grandpa to help supervise Sarah's visit with Riley, so we took the kids to Pioneer Village in Provo, specifically to see the Haws' cabin (but also to see the rest of the village, of course). I think the schoolhouse was everyone's favourite place because (although I took no pictures) we got to play with stilts and climbing bears and so forth, which was quite a lot of fun. After we'd finished playing at the school house we went through the rest of the village, trying to find everything on the scavenger hunt paper we'd received at the front gate.

Here's the blacksmith shop (where I wouldn't want to work in was hotter than hades in here):

Hell's Half Acre (July 3)

We spent the night in Idaho Falls on July 2nd. It was quite the rush to get down there after leaving the Canada Day parade in Raymond, but we made it around 10:30 at night...except we made it to the wrong hotel! Apparently there are two Best Westerns in Idaho Falls and we'd set our route to the wrong one. The other one was just down the road, however, so the lady at the desk gave us directions and we were once again on our way.

"Cotton Tree Inn. Cotton Tree Inn," Andrew said. "We're looking for the Cotton Tree Inn."

"There it is!" Benjamin squealed. "It's behind us!"

"No, it's not," Rachel seethed (her patience was just about gone at this point in the trip). "Shut up!"

"No, it's right there!" Benjamin insisted. "Cotton Tree Inn! Dad turned left and he should have turned right!"

Thank goodness for little readers! Benjamin had indeed found our hotel and we got checked in as quickly as possible so that we could get our little brood into bed.

They were all excited for hotel breakfast in the morning (fruit poops! DIY waffles!) before setting out to meet Auntie Emily and her family for a little pit stop at Hell's Half Acre (the rest stop at mile marker 101 on I-15). Or at least at what used to be called Hell's Half Acre. Now it's called the "Lava Trail System," which is a much more boring name. But whatever it was called, these little cousins were excited to get together again.

Auntie Emily with Maren on her lap, Rachel with Zoë on her lap, Gavin, Benjamin (with his arms pulled into his shirt because it was a little chilly for our taste), and Miriam

Playing at the Sheep River (June 30)

My wonderful cousin Heather is doing us the favour of living in her parents' house with her family of seven for the second year in a row simply to make us feel better about living in Andrew's parents' house with our family of seven for a second year in a row (or it could be she's doing it because the economy sucks and even though her husband has a full-time job (as an airline pilot) their family can't yet afford to buy a house (let alone import their vehicle from the states (they moved up to Alberta from Texas last summer)). 

Anyway, her parents have a sizable house (large enough to squeeze in a family of seven at least) that backs onto the Sheep River, so she and her children spend a lot of time exploring in the woods and playing on the river bank. We followed them to one of their favourite spots and then watched in sheer panic as Sadie led Miriam to us along the bank (they'd decided to take a different way to get to the river, which was quite high and swift due to spring runoff). They made it without falling in (which would have been perilous), thank goodness.

Where we were, the river was a little lazier, or at least shallower.

Anna, Taya, Zoë, and Cecily

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Big Rock (June 30)

I had a goal to be completely finished chronicling our trip to Canada by tonight, but I fear that won't likely happen at this point. Life just keeps on happening. I either have to find a way to write faster or have life slow down...

Benjamin was hovering beside me while I was writing about the trip Rachel, Miriam, Alexander, and I took to visit the Okotoks Erratic (back in May) and the number one question he had was, "When did I go to that place?" followed up with, "Where's the picture of me there?"

So naturally when he realized that he'd be coming to Canada with us this time around he immediately began pestering me about visiting Big Rock. We finally got around to it on Saturday afternoon (after the Canada Day festivities). My cousin Heather came along again, bringing her kids and Sara Beth's Anna along with her. We had a blast!

Friday, July 20, 2018

A Visit to Vulcan (June 29)

With a population of 1,917, Vulcan is no bustling metropolis, so I don't recommend it as a destination vacation. However, its small town charm is—dare I say?—out of this world. It was perfect for a little afternoon fun!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Piper's Graduation (June 29)

"So, how was graduation?" my friend Kaly asked me. 

"It was good," I said. "The weather was perfect. Beautiful, really."

"Huh," she said. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said about a graduation. I was expecting you to say long and boring! Good, perfect, and beautiful aren't words someone usually uses to describe a graduation."

Perhaps that's true, but the most recent graduation I attended was Andrew's PhD ceremony and although that was also a good, beautiful, proud day it was also hot, long, and boring. Compared to that Piper's graduation was a walk in the park...literally.

École Secondaire Highwood High School traditionally holds their graduation at George Lane Park and the graduands (not a typo (rather it is the intermediary status of having completed the requirements for your degree but have yet to be awarded the degree (and it's typically only used in the Commonwealth))) marched to the park from downtown. 

The day started out a little chilly, but soon warmed up to a tolerable 16°C/60°F (much nicer than the 33°C/92°F on the day of Andrew's graduation). Here are a few shots of everyone waiting for the ceremony to begin...

Auntie Josie let Zoë play some games on her phone (so Josie's the new favourite):

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Our FHE ledger

I'll admit I scoffed a little when I found out my progenitors kept a ledger of minutes for their family home evenings. How formal of them, I thought, to have kept such a detailed record of such an informal event.

And then I remembered my blog...

Now, I don't keep minutes of family night, per se, but I think I've discussed enough family home evenings in great enough detail to be guilty of the very thing I was scoffing at, and, truthfully, only part of me was laughing about the family night ledger. The other part of me was ecstatic and grateful to have this glimpse into the past.

So without further ado, I will give you a glimpse into our FHE for the past couple of weeks.

Tonight we took things easy. I pulled out the illustrated Book of Mormon Stories book, had all the kids pick a number between 1 and 30, added those numbers up, and opened the book to 53, which was the story of when "The Sons of Mosiah Become Missionaries." That particular story is only one page long, however, so I backtracked a bit and assigned the children the story "Alma the Younger Repents" as well.

Then I shooed them off to the basement, telling them to set the timer for twenty minutes and then to read the story together, assign roles, pick out costumes, rehearse, and come back to perform it for me and Andrew.

It was the quietest family night we've had in quite a while!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Alexander at nine months

At nine months, Alexander is...

  • Ginormous! He had his well-child check today and was 19 lbs. 12 oz! So he's basically huge, though still only at the 50th percentile. At 27.9 inches, he's on the short side of things right now, but I'm sure that he's saving up his girth for future upwards growth spurts.
  • Teething like a maniac. He's had his two bottom teeth for a while and has added his eye teeth on top. They broke through the first week of July (one while we were up in Alberta and the other once we'd gotten back to Utah). His two front teeth have been giving him plenty of grief but have yet to make their appearance, so he's a little vampire baby. A whiny, drooly, chewing-on-everything vampire baby.
I also had fangs when I was nine months old

George Lane Park (June 28)

Communication is a beautiful thing, especially when it saves you a forty minute drive into the city (only to have to turn right back around again). Frustratingly, we made the drive from High River to Calgary to meet up with my niece Amy at Fish Creek Park, but she texted my mom while we were en route to say that she wouldn't be able to make it, which we obviously didn't find out until we had arrived. Fish Creek Park is rather large and I suppose we could have done some hiking, but we were really hoping to let the kids play at a park and the only playground within the park is fenced off and you have to pay to get in (we're all quite positive that it was free when we were living there).

Both Alexander and Zoë had fallen asleep, however, so we decided to just head back to High River to play at George Lane Park (a park is a park is a park), rather than wake them up and have them be grumpy and still have to make the drive back to High River later.

A couple good things came of our pointless trip, however. One was that we finally saw a tow truck. I had made up some travel BINGO sheets for the kids, which only Rachel and I really got into. She and I were racing to see who could get a blackout the fastest. It didn't take us long to see a speed limit sign or a horse or even a limo but we could not find a tow truck. We were on the road for a thousand miles over three days and we hadn't seen a single tow truck!

Finally on the way up to Calgary we saw a tow truck, and not just any tow truck. We saw a tow truck on a tow truck! The tow truck being towed away was burnt to a crisp (there were also firetrucks on the scene). I don't know what happened but it must have been pretty wild. At least we got our blackout.

The second good thing was a drive-by spotting of my...eighth?...childhood home (I'm pretty sure it's #8). 49 Deerpath Road, quite near Fish Creek Provincial Park—a duplex unit just on the other side of the field (only when we lived there they were yellow with brown trim; now they're a gentle blue):

My house is...not actually visible in this picture
Seeing Amy would have made the trip all worth it, but as it was it wasn't entirely a bust,  guess...

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Harriet Jarman Layton's song

I learned today that when my great-great grandparents instituted family home evening in their house (August 3, 1921)  they (1) kept minutes* and (2) gave everyone a calling, such as class leader, organist, chorister, and treasurer. They needed this last position because (3) they charged weekly admission—5 cents (in 1921, which is worth about 66 cents today), to be used "for some good purpose." Granted, by the time this particular notebook of FHE minutes began, the children in the home were mostly grown (my great-grandfather, Russell Layton, the youngest, was 18 years old; his oldest sister Verna (who was the scribe for the minutes) already was married), so this was more of an extended family FHE.

Inside this book is a song that my great-great-grandmother wrote in March of 1936 (after immigrating to Utah in 1882 as a 12-year-old girl):

The Lord a work he has commenced, its greatness none can tell. 
To gather up the righteous in Zion for to dwell. 
We are his sheep and know his voice. We'll follow none but him. 
To Zion he will gather us, his praises for to sing. 

To Zion we will go, will go. To Zion we will go. 
We'll leave this old sectarian world. To Zion we will go. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A laundry confession

Way back in January I put up a post on Facebook about sorting laundry with Zoë. She was helping me decide whether items were light or dark and did just fine until we came across Andrew's black and white checked shirt, which just about broke her brain because it was light and dark.

It got 33 comments, people. 33! Who knew people were so passionate about laundry?

My cousin Sara said, "I think the whole sorting-lights-and-darks thing is a big conspiracy. I wash all my clothes together all the time, and no one seems the wiser."

My friend Aubrey said, "I also wash all my clothes together on a cold cycle. Done."

My friend Crystal said, "I sort....but sometimes when I'm feeling super lazy I just throw them all together."

My cousin Wendy said, "I wash everything on cold delicate, so... I never sort mine either. Not a problem."

My cousin Michelle said, "I only wash whites and jeans separately (well, and towels and bedding of course). Everything else together, unless it's a dark color that's brand new. But once I know it's done bleeding it goes in with everything else. Anything to make it easier! (We have way too many clothes!!)"

My cousin ArLene said, "I wash towels and whites separate from everything else with warm and hot water. Everything else just goes in together and I wash with cold water."

There were a few die-hard sorters—my mom, my cousin Jenna, my friend Tamsin—but by far the majority of commenters were set on convincing me that sorting my laundry was a huge waste of time. Hallelujah, we live in the age of colourfast fabrics, right?!

I have remained a dedicated sorter these past six months or so but today... Well, today I had the privilege of going to the temple to support my niece Rosie, who took out her endowment. It was my first time going to the temple since Alexander was born and it was a doozy of a day to attempt such a feat. He stayed up screaming his head off until the wee hours of the morning and then we had to leave the house before 8:00 in the morning (ugh). I was so tired (Andrew probably was, too) but Andrew and I survived the session and were so happy to be there for Rosie!

The kids survived without us (and I think Reid and Karen survived the children), but we were anxious to get home, where I knew I had a pile of wet, stinky laundry (and a fussy baby) waiting for me.

Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump (June 28)

On the morning of June 28 we headed to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump to meet up with my parents and visit the interpretive center there. Andrew was rather excited to go when he learned that it's a UNESO World Heritage site, due to it being "one of the oldest, most extensive, and best preserved sites that illustrate communal hunting techniques and the way of life of Plains people." Other buffalo jump sites were, to put it politely, prematurely "excavated" (read: raided) by settlers who didn't care about preserving a record for history (or about allowing the aboriginal people access to their hunting lands). Often railroads would run along cliff sides, which is where the jumps occurred. Head-Smashed-In, however, was a more remote location so it remained untouched—and in use—until about 200 years ago.

I didn't take many pictures, but that's alright because Benjamin thoroughly enjoyed the experience and has obsessively been drawing pictures of it ever since. Here we are getting our wrist bands at the entrance to the museum:

heDsmahst ni bafulo jump

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Across the 49th parallel (June 27)

Crossing the border for us was relatively easy. I think we were the second car in line or something. My poor parents, however, were stuck in line for quite some time when they reached the border hours later. There was a long line of cars and they were stopped both while exiting the United States and when entering Canada, so I'm glad we crossed the border when we did.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Chip Pizza

We'd had a rather big lunch on Sunday afternoon—some very tasty fajitas, before Richard and Diana hit the road—so dinner only needed to be a small supper. We had plenty of leftover rice and beans (I think Andrew thought he was feeding a small army) so Andrew decided he'd make some bean dip that we could have with nachos, which Zoë helped him make.

They spread the chips out on a cookie sheet, topped the chips with cheese, and broiled them in the oven.

It was quick, it was simple, and Zoë was so proud to have been chef's helper, even though she evidently had no idea what she had been helping to make.

On Monday when I was floating around ideas for dinner, Zoë said, "How about chip pizza?"

"Chip pizza?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. "I'm very good at making chip pizza."

"What is chip pizza?" I asked.

"Oh, you know," she said.

"I really don't."

"I made chip pizza with Daddy last night!" she said, affronted.

I thought back to Sunday evening. What had we eaten...?

Oh. Nachos. Chip pizza.

It's almost poetically descriptive, really.

Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center (June 27)

We stopped by the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls before driving up to Alberta and were immediately greeted by an enormous Newfoundland dog, which is the same breed of dog Captain Lewis purchased to accompany their Discovery Corps on their expedition. This particular dog, I was told, weighed 204 lbs and was as gentle as could be. He seemed to love the attention he got from Benjamin (who loves dogs) and Zoë (who loves to do everything Benjamin does). 

Don't you love the way his jowls are melting all over the floor?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Celebrating freedom (June 30–July 4)

History, to quote the Arrogant Worms, "is made by stupid people." 

My cousin Craig was remarking on Canada Day about how the Pax Romana Period was, theoretically, the most blissful time on earth (at least within the Roman Empire and its intended conquests). That would be hard to prove, however, because compared to other more volatile periods of history, little is known about Pax Romana. There were five "good emperors," none of whom achieved remarkable fame due to the peace and prosperity of the region during their reign. 

It's like in the Book of Mormon when years are summarized by the laconic phrase, "they did have continual peace in the land." 

In other words, it was very boring. And boring, as my father-in-law has reminded me on more than one occasion, is how you want life to be. Probably because boring is peaceful and exciting is...entropic. It's danger and near-misses. It's broken arms and stitches. 

Exciting can be exhilarating, but it very often also leads to pain and sorrow. 

Boring may be boring, but it's also good. 

And so begins the reason of why we celebrate Canada Day. My father-in-law asked this question over dinner on the Fourth of July, because every American knows why Independence Day is celebrated, right? It's to commemorate the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress declared their independence from Great Britain and dramatically went about asserting their newfound freedom with the Revolutionary War. 

Rockets glared red, bombs burst in the air, there was havoc of war and confusion of battles. Or so I've been told. 

So what is the reason for Canada Day?

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Words are all that he has to take my heart away

"You're my favourite," Andrew told me last night.

"Favourite what?" I asked.

"Favourite everything."

"Favourite everything?" I challenged.

"Yup. Favourite wife, favourite..."

"Flavour of ice cream?"

"Mmmhmm. Yes, that," he said. "But not a lot of places carry that flavour so I always have to get cookies and cream instead."

I may have had to roll my eyes at many, many pick up lines over the last 12.5 years of marriage (ranging from, "Do you have a scripture marking system?" to "Your hair is the colour of old wood."), but finally, Andrew came up with a line so smooth that it at least had me laughing. 

Sidewalk chalk and cookies

"You will never get caught up with blogging," Andrew warned me, "If you keep visiting with people and doing things!"

I know. It's true. Life has been very rich lately, full of friends, family, and fun. Today, for example, we took the kids up to Salt Lake City, on a whim, to visit the Church History Museum (which was fantastically designed) and to see the Christus statue (which we skipped when we took the kids to Temple Square at Christmas because the line was a mile long (almost); there was no line today). We also schlepped them up to the Capitol Building for a little tour. And then we came home and the girls played a game (Pirate's Cove) with Richard and Michael. And then the grown ups stayed up and visited.

And here we are, even further behind than I was before.

But instead of getting caught up today I'm just going to write about Benjamin because he's so sweet.

As an end-of-the-year present, his teacher gifted each student a piece of sidewalk chalk and a booklet of games to play with the sidewalk chalk. It sat ignored in his backpack (along with everything else he'd brought home at the end of the year) until we were packing for our trip to Canada. I couldn't find the backpack Benjamin usually packs in (it was in Miriam's closet—I found it after we got home) but I did find his school backpack so that's what he had to pack in. We had to empty it out first, however (don't judge), which is when we found the forgotten gift.

Finding a forgotten treasure (like a $5 bill in the pocket of your winter coat...or a gift your teacher had given to you a month previously) is as good as receiving something brand new, so Benjamin was all excited about his gift again.

Today he wanted me to play a game with him and since Zoë was out shopping with Andrew and the girls were both occupied at the piano(s) and Alexander wasn't letting me get any work done, anyway, I figured I could take some one-on-one time with Benjamin.

So I said, "Sure, buddy. We can do that. What game do you want to play?"

"This one," he said, flipping to a page titled Follow the Path.

There was a little illustration of stepping stones, which looked easy enough to replicate, so I said, "Great. Let's do it!"

"Okay, first we have to make some cookies."

Friday, July 06, 2018

So many cousins!

We have had so much cousin time lately; the kids have been in heaven. "I didn't know we even had this many cousins!" one of them exclaimed to me. And they honestly may not have known it even though I was well aware of the plethora of cousins out there.

My kids—at least my older kids—don't have many cousins their age (on my side of the family the cousins are doing things like graduating from high school and getting married, while on Andrew's side of the family the cousins are mostly just babies) so they really enjoyed meeting their extended family. 

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Lewis and Clark Caverns (June 26)

We left quite early on Tuesday morning so that we could make it up to Lewis and Clark Caverns with enough time to go on a tour and make the drive to Great Falls (where we had a hotel booked). The children were really wonderful little travelers. I mean, sure, we may have plied Zoë with fruit snacks and screen time...but she didn't scream the whole way so it was well worth it!

The other kids had their fair share of treats and screens as well, but we also played some car games and read books and looked out the window. But, man, those screens are as good as having a divider between the children. No fights broke out in the backseat at all!

When I wasn't tossing snacks at the kids in the backseat, I mostly busied myself by watching the prairies and mountains roll by my windows. I always bring a book to read but am also always far too fascinated by the scenery to do so. 

We were stopped for a while, waiting for a pilot car to lead us through some one-way construction mess, and all these birds started congregating on the fence (having watched Hitchcock's The Birds, we were all a little worried.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


Before I delve into the 1685 or so pictures we took on our trip to Canada (and that's no exaggeration (and does not include however many we snapped with our phone cameras)), I'm going to take a minute to brag about Andrew.

Not only did he drive me and our handful of children up to my home and native land—and then back down again—he woke up with the baby this morning and took him out to run errands. This was Alexander's first errand run with Daddy while Mommy slept in.

I had about 100 ounces of breastmilk that I'd pumped and frozen while we were on our trip and it was considerably thawed by the time we arrived home yesterday so I needed to find someone who could use it, like, today. My go-to gal said she didn't think she'd be able to use it quickly enough so I set out to find someone who could. I was messaging people for quite some time last night, checking out milk exchange boards and so forth. I messaged the dad of the little boy whose mother had passed away (but didn't get a response) and tried to contact a few other people before I finally stumbled upon the sister-in-law of a friend on one of these milk-needing forums.

So I messaged my friend (because I knew my message wouldn't go to her spam folder, where I'm assuming most of the other messages I sent went to) and she called her sister-in-law and, long story short, Andrew went to drop the milk off for this other baby to use this morning.

On the way to deliver the milk he stopped at the grocery store to pay for the fireworks that he'd noticed he hadn't yet paid for. He had run to the grocery store last night to pick up some Independence Day celebration goods (corn on the cob and fireworks and the like) and upon reviewing the receipt before going to bed he noticed that the trip had been much less expensive than he imagined it should have been. As it turns out, the big box of fireworks he thought he'd purchased hadn't scanned properly—so it wasn't on the receipt and our total was about $30 less than what it should have been.

He had gone to the store to pay for the fireworks because, as he told me (jokingly, yet not jokingly) in a text message (I had texted him to ask where he and Alexander were), his soul "is worth more than $29.95!"

I'm a pretty lucky lady.

This morning words from The Sound of Music are running through my mind as I think about my wonderful husband: somewhere in my youth or childhood I must have done something good...

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth
For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good
Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good