Monday, July 20, 2009

Whirlwind Yellowstone Trip

We took advantage of the free National Park weekend to drive up to Yellowstone and introduce our kids to its wonders and beauties. Unfortunately, Yellowstone is impossible to see in 1 day but that is all we had so raced around trying to get a taste of Yellowstone and maybe next year we can go back for some feasting.
We started at Madison and signed our kids up for the Junior Ranger Program. It is awesome. They get a newsletter filled with info and activities that helps them learn all about Yellowstone as you go around the park. After completing certain requirements they earn a Jr Ranger patch. Here Abi and Tal learned about the 3 dogs in Yellowstone from Ranger Bob. Just ask, they can identify a red fox, a coyote and a grey wolf.
If you see a traffic jam in Yellowstone, it is because of the wildlife. We spent more time in traffic because of people slowing down to take pics of animals that we did for road construction. But then here we are taking pictures of the big bull elk as well.

Norris Geyser Basin: Abi and Tal laughed and giggled that it smelled like "cow poop" or other things we won't mention. Tal didn't like the steam from the fumeroles spraying onto him.

Mammoth Terrace: We hiked down and around and back up again. There are 131 steps going up: we each guessed and then counted. It was a great incentivizer to make it back to the top. It's just amazing to see what water and minerals can make.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone: Leah was asleep by this point so Kris hiked to the overlook with the kids. It's OK, I've been before. For one of his activities, Tal wrote a poem about the canyon and waterfall. Just gorgeous.
We saw a whole herd of bison in the Hayden Valley. This guy crossed the road and few cars in front of us and then was just posing for pics. I stayed in the car but there were of course other crazies who tried to get close.
Abi and Tal earned their Jr Ranger badges and were presented with them at the Old Faithful Visitor's Center. They worked hard and learned a lot, I'm proud of them.
Old Faithful: Our last stop and everyone's favorite. Both Abi and Tal described it as "Awesome". By this time we were all exhausted. After a quick trip to the gift shop we grabbed McDonald's in West Yellowstone and were on our way home. We arrived just before eleven o'clock, tired but happy.

Day at the Spray Park

For Playgroup last week we drove up to Rexburg to visit the Spray Park at Porter Park. The weather was a little chilly but the kids had a blast anyway. Leah loved the little bubbling fountains but DID NOT want to share with any of the other babies. She would stick out her leg as if to push them all away. She also liked to stand in the pools at the bottom of the slides but then would shriek as she was splashed by the sliders coming down.
Abi and Tal loved the slides and the bucket dumping on them. Our cousins came to play with us and so they all had a great time.

Splash down!!! Tal has always been a little bit of a daredevil.

Big Changes and Blessings

Have you ever stopped and thought to yourself, " You know, life is pretty good right now?" If you haven't, DON'T. Heavenly Father always want to stretch us and for some reason he doesn't want us to get too contented and comfortable. What am I talking about? The first counselor in our bishopric was moving out but I felt very confident that they wouldn't move Kris out of the Elder's Quorum Presidency. Until........ I got the phone call on a Tuesday night from the Stake Executive Secretary inviting both of us in at 8:15 on Sunday morning to meet with the Stake President.

Well, I got off the phone, promptly called my mom and bawled about why this was not fair and that I was not ready to sit by myself on Sundays with 3 kids. As good moms do, she listened for a minute and then set me straight. Thank you mom. :) After that I took her advice to heart and decided to be grateful that my husband is worthy, willing and able to be called into the bishopric and that I need to saddle up and be willing and ready to support him. And surprisingly, I have been blessed with a feeling of peace ever since. Consequently, Kris was called to be the 2nd Counselor in our ward and was ordained to be a High Priest by my dad and then set apart. Wonderful members of our ward have offered to sit with us and we made it through the last 2 Sundays.

On a separate note I was called to be the Activity Day Girl's Leader. Yipee!!! I am really excited to get to spend this fun time with Abi and the other girls in our ward.
Blessing # 1: Callings that make us grow.
Blessing #2: A Heavenly Father that watches over us and knows our every need.

Dresser Rehab

One of my projects for the summer is to redecorate Tal's room. He has picked Star Wars for a theme and his favorite color is red. After some online shopping, I think I have a plan worked out. The first step was to rehab his old dresser. It's actually a dresser that my mom had when she was a girl that I had stripped and painted for Abi before she was born. As we didn't know whether she was a boy or girl before birth we decorated her nursery in Winnie the Pooh and so the dresser was a turquoise blue and sunshine yellow. I've been following Kimba at for a few months with all of her furniture rehabs and love of spray paint and caught the bug. My friend Becca is also a great inspiration with her creativity and style, everything she touches turns out sooo cute. So I took the plunge.I washed the whole dresser down with TSP substitute and then sanded it with my handheld electric sander. I had to to a little hand sanding but it was mostly just to rough up the finish to help the primer stick. Then I primed it with Rustoleum primer from Home Depot. The doors and drawers are sprayed with Rustoleum's Colonial Red in Satin. The white is Valspar from Lowes. I love how it turned out so crisp and clean. We added new pulls and hinges and it's almost like new. In fact, my dad thought is was. Nope, I just painted the old one. I love that it's oil based so it dries harder than when I hand painted with a latex paint. I'll post more pics of the room when I'm done.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is Kris's favorite holiday and I think aside from trying to get our annual pic, it was a great one.
On Friday night we went to Kris's mom's house where we grilled brats and hot dogs, stuffed ourselves with watermelon and chips and then lit off our fireworks. If my husband weren't a lawyer, his dream job would to be a pyrotechnic engineer. It think that will be his retirement. Leah liked her sparkler but kept trying to grab the flame.
Abi and Tal loved dancing about with their sparklers as well. Our favorite fireworks were the Killer Bees, Happiness Fountains - because they made us happy, and our grand finale The Jellybean Fountain.
Saturday morning we were up bright and early to catch the parade. After lunch and a little stroll along the Greenbelt we drove out to Menan for another parade. The Menan parade may consist mostly of every Central Fire District fire engine spraying the crowd with water ( good thing there weren't any fires), antique farm implements, kids on 4 wheelers and bikes, and the odd business here and there but Menan has the best treats. Everyone gets chocolate milk, otter pops and loads of candy. After checking out the festival in the park we went to Nana Fifes for a little rest and a BBQ. Then we went back to Menan for the fireworks. It brought back fond memories of me as a kid lying out on the blanket with my siblings and cousins, eating popcorn, to watch them shoot off one or two aerials at a time. Not much has changed, they shoot off a few more, the finale is bigger but my kids "Ooohed" and "Aaaahed" ( especialy little Leah) lying on the blanket and eating sticky popcorn. ( Smile)
Leah sports her new shades she got at the parade. You know they only stayed on long enough for this picture.

Oh what do you do in the summertime?

Oh we sit on our porch eating ice pops and cookies and watch all of our neighbors go by.
Oh we hike up the Cress Creek Nature Trail and have a picnic. ( PS we hiked it on July 3rd, 2 days before the Post Register profiled it.) It is a great little hike outside of Ririe, near Heise. It's only about 1 1/2 miles and has little signs that tell about the topography, plant and animal life.
Here we are enjoying our picnic by the creek. It was a beautiful, cool and shady spot.
Oh, I work in my gardens and pull lots of weeds. My dianthus are blooming a profusion of pinks and whites. My bleeding hearts are still going and the geranium and lobelia are starting to take off. My hostas looked really great but we had a big hailstorm which punched big holes into the leaves.
This is my butterfly/hummingbird garden which unfortunately hasn't had many visitors. My wiegela in the middle suffered some transplant shock and dropped all of its blooms but it seems to be perking back up. I also have purple salvia, magenta Sweet William, Bachelor's Buttons, a peony that didn't bloom but it is it's first year, a pink ( yes I said pink) coneflower that is just getting a good start, bee balm, blue delphiniums and pink yarrow which haven't bloomed yet, and some red hot salvia that will hopefully bloom soon. I also planted parsley at the back to attract the butterflies. Of course I am already dreaming of the additions I can make next year.
And sometimes I even like to lay on my back and watch as the clouds go by. Is that what you do?

Catching up with Leah - 13 months

Our little Leah is growing from a baby to a little girl. She is developing an adorable personality. She likes to be right in the middle of everything. Here she is "helping" me wash dishes. Mostly she just drinks from the cups, eats the bubbles and pours water everywhere. But it keeps her happy and entertained and I can get a few dishes washed. ( This is her signature crazy hair because she always pulls out the hair pretties I put in.) Every morning I set her on the side of the sink while she "brushes" her teeth and I do her hair. And every morning I say "Ooooh pretty" and she will smile and touch her hair. And every day she ends up looking like this, ah well.
Leah adores being outside. She will scoot over to the front or back sliding glass door and bang on it, to be let out. She loves to crawl around in the grass, pull on my plants and play on the trampoline. But she absolutely loves swinging on the swings. Here she is at my mom's just happy as a clam. She will laugh and squeal as the breeze ruffles her hair swinging back and forth. On the bigger swings I have to hold her and we can't swing as long because mommy gets motion sick.
Yes, Leah can climb onto the trampoline by herself. Abi taught her how. However, she cannot climb off - she just scoots over to the edge and looks over so that a frightened parent runs to her and picks her up. Then she will squirm out of our arms into the grass, scoot over to the ladder and climb back up. You can tell she just knows that she is soooooo big. And while she loves to climb ladders, stools, boxes, onto the couch, stairs, you name it - she still isn't walking. It's not that she can't; she just won't. She took her first steps on June 16th. And she will walk well in between 2 people, even 6 -8 feet away from each other. But she won't just take off and walk around by herself. She's a little chicken. :) If I do stand her up and point her off to walk, she says " No," and sits right down and scoots. I guess that scooting is faster.
"No" ( or "Nooo") as Leah says it is her favorite word. Sometimes no means yes though. But I think her favorite use is when she does something she knows that she is not supposed to be doing and she says "Nooo" to herself. Like when she goes over and pulls the leaves off my plants, "Nooo." This afternoon she scooted right over to the strawberries, pulled the netting up and started picking them and stuffing her little mouth. Leah LOVES strawberries. Here she has at least 2 in her mouth and one in her hand. But we have a great crop this year of big, sweet strawberries so I guess there are plenty to share.
Leah is starting to say several words and understand many more. She says "Yes, No, Ball, Baby, Mommy - which means I want something, Dadoo, Abi, Ju - juice, Uh-oh and What." She loves it when I sing this little song about a pet hippo and will sing "Oh yes" at just the right time. Leah loves to dance and clap to music, she just lifts herself up onto one knee and one foot and bounces along to the music. We are down to one nap a day from about 1:00 to 3:00 pm. She is getting much better as sleeping now that most of her teeth are through. She has 14 now and 2 lower eye teeth starting to work through. She can eat just about anything and has a particular talent for sniffing out Abi and Tal's candy stashes. She like to look at books and turn the pages but only for a minute. Mostly, Leah is a girl on the go and looking for adventure.