Friday, July 30, 2010

Denver Trip

Mike was headed to Denver this past week for his fourth out of town trip this summer. We decided very spur of the moment to tag along. I've never been to Denver (or CO at all, actually), and it wasn't what I'd envisioned. I thought it was mountainous. Hmm. Anyway, Denver turned out to actually be quite a fun trip. The middle of the first night there found me thinking how we should have never come. I'd been sick most of the weekend and was still feeling a little crummy. That and the packing for seven, eight hour car ride with a little fella who cried and plead to be let "out" for most of it -- and who isn't particularly interested in or distracted by toys . . . or movies . . . or books, getting kids all to be quiet and actually go to sleep when we arrived (around 11:00pm) at our hotel, and then Jesse spending half the night not sleeping all coupled together to make me question the wisdom in our spontaneous decision to accompany Mike.

But the following two days proved our decision a good one. The kids all think a hotel is a super exciting place to be. So even just watching cartoons on hotel beds, playing some of the games we brought or coloring in our room had them pretty dang happy, but when it was discovered that our hotel (which wasn't a fancy one by any means) had a pretty great little free breakfast, a pool that was half outside and half in, and prairie dogs everywhere you turned -- the parking lot was mostly surrounded by empty lots, all of which were literally teaming with the little critters; well, the kids were convinced the trip was a complete success.

My favorite part was just strolling around the main "16th street Mall" in the middle of downtown Denver. The whole street had such a fun atmosphere. People were everywhere walking up and down the sidewalks. The busses that run up and down the street (stopping at every corner) are all free. So we let the kids experience standing in a bus holding onto bars to keep from falling. The middle of the street is set up with benches, fountains, and other random things -- blue painted bulls, brightly painted pianos (Goldie was pretty excited when we let her put a dollar in a hat by one that was being played), etc. There were horse carriages, and tons of little taxi bikes pulling little carts. A number of them stopped to see if we needed a ride up to the Rockies game at Coors field (though, if we had, I haven't the slightest idea how a family of seven would have fit on the small seat they pulled along). It would have been nice to have shopped a little, but it seemed fun just to walk and look around and stop for a shake. There was also a large fountain that, while it didn't allow "wading," had wet stony paths through it. The kids deemed walking on those to be different enough from wading to be OK.

I also took the kids to the Denver Zoo one of the days. One of the other guys at the training with Mike said his wife and kids had gone and weren't impressed, but they must have been pretty spoiled by the zoos wherever they live, because I thought this one was pretty great. It had all the animals our local zoo has plus a number of other fun ones -- sea lions, seals, polar bears, eels, okapis, etc. The only not great thing about it, in my book, was the fact that it was 90 some odd degrees (which, I suppose, wasn't the zoos fault), that Penny was extremely tired and grumpy, and that Jesse, who was very good natured, has become extremely earth friendly and at nearly every moment was presenting me with junk off the ground as he dutifully proclaimed, "garbage." It was cute watching him try to fit these never before seen animals into his animal knowledge base though. He was super excited and a bit shocked when he saw the giant "doggy" that the rest of us considered to be a giraffe. And he was nearly as intrigued with the fascinating "fish" that didn't even live in water . . . and had legs (a komodo dragon).

After three times in one month, I wouldn't mind having no cause to pack and unpack all seven of us any time in the next little while. Then again, I've gotten pretty adept at it, so maybe bring on the trips? Maybe. I really am glad Mike thought to bring us all along. I think we made some pretty good little fun memories. . . . And, of course, a few sad ones . . . like Daisy accidentally erasing the video footage she'd captured of the sea lions and seals showing off. Whoo. That was a cause for some tears.
Oh prairie dogs, we brought you some old biscuits! Quit chittering your little danger call and nervously peaking your heads out and come and get 'em!
Hello polar bear. You guys always seem so silly and pleasant it is hard to believe you'd rather eat me than play a nice game of fetch with me.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lemonade, Anyone? . . . Anyone?

For months the girls have been pleading to have a lemonade stand. On Saturday Mike decided he'd help it happen. Rather than just your boring old cups of lemonade, he took them to the store to buy cans of soda pop and ice. They borrowed a card table from Mike's parents, let the cans cool in the freezer, set them up in a cooler with the ice, colored a sign, found their camping chairs and got everything all set for business.

For some reason this image made me laugh and then nearly cry. Not the kids. The chair. I had told them to get my camping chair out too so I could be out there and make sure they were safe. Notice where Goldie put my chair? In that spot of shade? It just seemed like the saddest and cutest little gesture to put me in the one patch of shade in the yard. Look how big the patch is. Here Mike and Abe help with lemonade stand set up.
And finally, here the girls are all sunblocked up, set up, and ready for customers. Don't you like how they have the beverage options on display? We live on a fairly busy street -- several cars pass by each minute -- so, even as I tried to take this picture, they were getting nervous that I better hurry and move so the customers could start coming.
Initially they would wave eagerly at each passing car. After twenty minutes of fruitless waving in the 90+ degree weather, they simply sat and patiently waited.Still waiting.At one point Abe went out and bought a soda. A little later I did. And, bless their grandma Gayle, she drove all the way over and bought two sodas well above the asking price. But other than that not one car stopped. They waited patiently for an entire hour -- their little faces growing redder and hotter by the minute. As I said, several cars passed by each minute. Initially they had been discussing how much they'd make if all their cans sold. 40 minutes in, they would have been so happy and excited if even one unexpected driver had stopped. I used to always stop at lemonade stands. Lately I've been less good at it -- assuming plenty of other people are already stopping, but I have recommitted myself to stopping at every sad little stand I ever come across.
P.S. It wasn't a total bust. After the first sad little hour, Mike had them put the cooler in our little red wagon and go around selling soda to our neighbors who, perhaps because they were cornered right on their doorsteps, were more than happy to buy a few cans.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chickens All Grown Up

Some of you (well, probably most of you) have been near to tears of late for want of a chicken post. So, a chicken post is what you will have.

Here the little critters are -- all grown up. Well, mostly grown up. As you can see, those little gray chicks didn't turn into either of the varieties we thought they might -- rather a kind of pretty and sissy little chicken. The one in the next picture that is staring right at you as if he might peck your beady little eyes out -- no wait, your eyes aren't beady; his are -- still, the one giving you the look proved himself most grown up of all by beginning to crow this past week. Mike thought he was the best looking of our chickens and so was sad about the discovery of his roosterness -- our neighbors won't be hip to his crowing jive, so he will have to leave us. It's just as well for me. Mike was out of town this past week so I was in charge of sneaking up on the fella and grabbing him, putting him in a dog carrier, and shutting him in a room in our basement each night so our neighbors wouldn't wake to his lovely calls in the early morning. Something like grabbing a hold of a rooster "just firmly with a hand over each wing," as Mike tells me, is nooo big deal to my husband, but it gives me a minor panic attack every time I have to do it. The other day Jesse was heading out the back door. Daisy was nearby so he called, "Daisy, bye!" to her. Then, as an afterthought, he paused and added in a serious and informative tone, "Daisy, bock bock." Which was cool because we both knew exactly what he was telling us -- which was, "Daisy, goodbye. I'm headed outside, and if anyone should need to know of my specific whereabouts, I will be paying a visit to the chickens."
Here he is feeding them some nice dead leaves. Chickens love to eat leaves. (Chickens do not love to eat leaves, but no matter, they never learn -- they simply continue to grab for each leafy offering, entertaining my kids for hours, in hopes that it might be something of a more grainy variety).Here Jesse and Goldie are "feeding" the chickens. They've both had their fingers pecked good and hard, but it hasn't stopped them. I'm glad my kids can have a nice healthy farmy upbringing on a normal city block.

Abe and Daisy Interactions

Abe and Daisy can be as enemy-ish as anyone -- angry because one wants someone to do something the other isn't interested in, upset because someone, "Can't take a joke," and what not. In fact, lately Abe has often specially requested that Daisy be punished for this or that.

But, they can also be such fun and great pals, and, when they are, our home seems like a very great place to be. When they were very young, they would spend countless hours "playing guys." This basically meant that they pulled out all the small figures they had -- from Winnie the Pooh figurines, to Matchbox cars, to toy dinosaurs, to Batman, Ninja Turtles and random Happy Meal things -- and created small little scenarios and interactions. They loved doing this and truly spent some of every day playing guys. I loved seeing their creative little minds at work. I loved listening to the scenes their random characters would act out.

They have, to a fairly large degree, grown out of this type of play. If, for old times sake, they pull some of their little guys out to play along with Goldie or Penny, much of the play appears to be in jest and full of laughter at the ridiculous things they can make up.

It makes me sad to see them outgrow things, but it's alright because those things are replaced with different types of fun, and when they are getting along, I seriously love watching and listening to the interactions between the two of them. They have a kind of relaxed and easy teasing that is more grown up than "little kids," and even makes me laugh.

(Here Abe is giving Daisy an impromptu violin lesson early the other morning)
Yesterday we were outside weeding. I'd warned them we were going to spend the morning weeding and told them I expected their full participation. Daisy was a champion weeder. I like to picture her taking great care with her own little garden some day. She shoveled and dug and pried out deep roots. She got down in the dirt on her knees when necessary and simply pushed aside the sweat on her brow before reaching down to lift and carry armloads of weeds to our collecting spot.

Abe and Goldie, on the other hand, found weeding to be . . . well . . . frankly, quite boring. Before ten minutes had passed, Goldie had gone inside and was playing blocks with Penny. And Abe was wandering about doing everything but weeding. I was a little too busy to really force them back, and I had my dutiful Daisy, so I mostly let them be. However, before long Abe kept trying to distract us by doing silly things with the shovel, pretending our outdoor broom was a guitar, and making ridiculous claims about the good he was doing. At one point, when I noted his obvious lack of weeding, he said, "Well that's because I'm entertaining you guys. It wouldn't do any good for you to die of boredom."

"Oh Abe," Daisy replied good naturedly, as she labored over a patch of Morning Glory, "How many exscuses will you come up with?"

"I think I prefer a different word," Abe said, "I'd actually call it three words -- 'Li-fe Saving.'"

"Uhh, Abe," Daisy laughed at his silliness, "I believe that's actually two words."

From there the cheerful banter went on between them.

For Daisy's birthday back in April, she got her very own little camera. I hadn't loaded her pictures on to our computer, so today, when I finally did, there were 558 items on there. I put them all in her own little folder and told her she could go through them and delete the ones she didn't want.

Here she and Abe are going through them.

I just loved seeing and listening to them laugh about what pictures were obviously too blurry, suggest the "fix red eye tool," remember the moment a certain picture was taken, or mimic a funny pose from another shot. There were a number of photos that she'd taken at the zoo. At one point I heard Abe say, "I'd delete that one. Unless of course you want a picture of a prairie dogs bum." Daisy giggled and I looked to see that yes, that was pretty much what the picture was.

It really is quite enjoyable to see not only their own little personalities grow and mature and evolve, but it is just as enjoyable seeing the way their interactions with each other develop and change. I posted yesterday about how well the siblings get along in my family as well as in Mike's. I hope so much that my kids will be getting together and laughing and enjoying each other even when they are gone from home, even when Mike and I aren't around to encourage it -- just because they love each other and want to be together.

Searching for the Lost Banshee

When Mike and I first saw this small video clip, we laughed so hard.

First of all, because we had no idea of the films existence til I happened to load our camera pics onto the computer and noticed a bunch of photos and videos that I had never taken. (Goldie, it turns out, was the camera girl).

Second, because it showed us a side of Penny we had never witnessed first hand. A side that was both hilarious and disturbing.

And thirdly, because for all the world it reminded us of some low budget, independent, monster search documentary.

Watch and judge for yourselves.

First the camera crew comes upon something that appears to be a small child -- alone in a dark and strange place -- a swamp maybe. They slowly approach the child only to have it turn upon them and reveal itself to be a horrid monster. A banshee maybe? They back away slowly, but then the creature rushes them. In the ensuing panic, the camera shakes and there are sounds of terror as the camera crew scatter and run for their lives. Just when it appears they may have lost the strange swamp creature, she pops up in front of the camera again. There is more screaming and we are left last with the faint image of the wee thing running off into the distance never to be seen again. But the proof this team uncovered will keep monster seekers filming and searching in the area for years to come.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Family Family Everywhere!

As most of you know, Mike and I both come from very large families. Eleven kids in my family and eight kids in Mike's. We had reunions with both sides back to back this July, so there has been lots and lots of cousins and siblings and fun. I already showed a few pics of the reunion my side had in Soda Springs.

The next week we were up at Bear Lake for the reunion Mike's side has. I've mentioned before that we grew up spending a lot of time at my grandma's little lake side trailer at Bear Lake. We had the place til I was in college, so Bear Lake has always been a significant place for me, and I love that Mike's parents have had a few reunions up there so that my kids are also developing happy Bear Lake memories.

The lodge Mike's parents rent is incredible and makes the reunion so nice. Usually it is a little stressful trying to fit and sleep kids with so many family members around, but this lodge has 15 bedrooms! It's just a walk down to the beach and so amazingly fun. I don't have the energy to decide which of the many photos from the trip to put on my blog, so they will just go in my photo album, however, all this reunioning made me want to put up some pictures of our families from the reunions.

I stole the ones of my family off of my sister Shannon's camera. I stole the one of Mike's family off of his brother Jeff's camera, and the ones of the couples in Mike's family were all taken by his sister-in-law Rhonda. Thanks all of you for sharing your photos!

Starting off with the folks on my side.

My parents with ten of their eleven kids. (Amy left a day early and missed picture time. Booo).
Back row: Me, Chris, John, Mark, Aaron, Rob, Tony.
Front row: Kathy, my dad, my mom, Shannon, Megan.
All of us with our spouses. Once again no Amy and Alan. We didn't even attempt a full one with grandkids.
We are forever taking sister pics. This time, we thought, "Why not brothers for heaven's sake?" And so we did.

Now on to Mike's side of the family.
Oh, speaking of Mike, here he is with his own little family.
And, with his wife -- that would be me. Oh, look how much we like each other. And how big his arms are.Here is Mike's entire family. I tried to crop it so you'd be more likely to see individual faces, but there are just a whole lot of people.Here are individual shots of the couples in the family. Starting with Mike's parents then in order from oldest to youngest (well, Mike isn't in these ones since I just showed us -- but he's second to youngest). Anyway, the pics go (with his actual sibling listed first out of each couple): parents Alma and Gayle, Becky and Troy, Jeff and Elyse, Kimberly and Tom, Marnie and John, Dave and Jaime, Lisa and Dennis, Greg and Rhonda.

Anyway, it is great how much everyone gets along and how much our siblings all love to be together.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Our local parade. Goldie and Daisy waiting for candy to start being thrown their way. Carnivale!! (Please say that with a Spanish accent and an air of excitement). Yes, it was the annual carnival/fireworks celebration in my sister Amy's neighborhood.
This might be the only picture existing of all seven of us. I need to do something about that. Shan's friend Mary, Shan, and brother Rob.Mike and Abe after going on a ride that left them both feeling a bit out of sorts.Stef, Me, nephew Christian and his wife Sara, Shan's head poking up behind us, and other family off in the background.Amy rented a cotton candy making machine. It was quite a hit. Here Goldie gives it a try.Three of my messy little cotton candy makers.
Mom and Dad.Birthday Girl has a birthday. Miss Goldie turned SIX. (She was much happier about it than this picture lets on).Maybe I do only have Christmas wrapping paper. What of it?A Day Trip to Bear Lake with Shan, Megs, Shan's friend Mary, and loads of kids.Soda Springs Reunion. Yes, there were about a million people there and a million things besides 4-wheeling going on, but this is about all I got as far as pictures go.
Daisy all set to ride.Cousin Layla and Penny thinking about heading off on their own.Goldie, me and Penny
Anywho, off to Mike's family reunion tomorrow, so don't go thinking the fun is all over.
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