Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Precious Ordinary Day

Just hanging out with Grandpa on a Monday afternoon.

Grace, meet Jason (the bird).

Jacob conquers the monkey bars for the first time.

Good luck, Dad. Our thoughts and prayers are with you today.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Swing Voter

So, we were driving to Grandma's for family dinner last night, when we heard a quiet voice from the back seat:

"I'm boting for Varack Obama."

Say, what?

{We encouraged Isaac to study the issues first before making his final decision.}

For the Birds

On Friday, the kids and I decided to check out a local wildlife refuge with some new friends of ours. The refuge has a very interactive visitor's center with lots of kid-friendly activities: building blocks, animal skins and skeletons, crayons for nature rubbings, books, and Grace's favorite - toy birds that play authentic birdcalls. My favorite was the observation room overlooking the lake, which included a telescope fixed on an osprey nest.

It's so much fun to play tourist in our own town and discover these little "hidden" treasures.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Pioneer Day!

Pioneer Day is a Utah state holiday that commemorates the arrival of the first group of Mormon Pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

Last year we were very blessed to have the opportunity to “trek” with the youth of our ward on this day. Marty and I traveled to Alcova, Wyoming where for three days we wore homemade pioneer clothing, pulled handcarts for about thirteen miles, read the stories of actual pioneers, and visited sacred sites like the Sweetwater River crossing and Martin's Cove.

Each of us was given the name and story of a real pioneer from one of the handcart companies, for whom we would be trekking. I trekked for Elizabeth Cunningham, who was 12 years old when she crossed the plains. (Interestingly, I found out later that my pioneer and I share the same birthdate. And Marty’s pioneer, William Wignall, actually had an infant daughter named Grace.)

We took Grace with us. Long story short, we worried about taking a five-month-old infant into the desert in July, but after much prayer and preparation, we knew it was the right thing to do, and that she would be alright. And she did marvelously – she was happy and healthy, and barely fussed the entire trip. What a story we will get to tell her when she is older!

The Trek was an incredibly spiritual experience for us, and one we will never forget. All of my life I’ve been taught about the pioneers – their struggles, their faith and determination, and the miracles they witnessed.

But to walk where they walked, to reenact some of their greatest trials, to stand in the place where 56 people lost their lives waiting for rescue in a severe winter storm... well, it is impossible to describe the awe and respect we felt for them.

We are so grateful for their legacy of faith and courage. May we live up to it.

Our trek "family" pulling the handcart to our campsite.

Crossing the Sweetwater. We had it easy. When the pioneers crossed it, it was waist deep, 100 feet wide, and bitter cold with chunks of ice floating in it.

{Photographs by Brett High}

Quote of the Day

In the van on the way home from Walmart:

Isaac: "I'll tell you my best friend. It has a green shirt, white pants, and Spiderman sandals."

Jacob: "It's me!"

Isaac: "Yup!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Arachnophobics, Beware

I should know by now that when the boys come running in full-speed from outside exclaiming "Mom! Look what we found!!!" I should turn and run the other way.

"You don't have to be afraid of it, Mom. It's already dead," Jacob said comfortingly.

Family rule #82: No bugs in the house. Alive OR dead.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Wet 'n Wild

This week we renewed our status as Idahoans by attending the annual rodeo. Favorite events this year included bareback bronc riding, tie down roping, and as always, the bull riding. The boys' favorite part was the clown act "when the ambulance tipped over and made a firework." That and the cotton candy.

I like reading the names of the bulls on the program. Really, who wouldn't like to have a pet named "Extremely Flammable"?

On Thursday, the boys got their first water park experience. They went nuts with all the fun attractions there. Jacob and Marty loved the wave pool (reminds Marty of the ocean,) and Isaac monopolized the dolphin slide. Both boys enjoyed the numerous child-size inner tubes, riding them like bumper cars. Jacob and I bravely took on one of the "big kid" (read: scary) rides, in which one shoots through a pitch-black tube in a five-person round raft, going who-knows-how-many miles per hour, and ends up four stories lower than where one started. It was a memorable experience. My favorite part of the afternoon was the dinner conversation as we sat around a sunny table eating pizza.

Jacob: I want to try that ride over there. (Even scarier than the one I just described.)

Mom: I think that one might be a bit scary.

Jacob: I know, but I won't get freaked out because I'm only part human.

Mom: Oh really, what else are you?

Jacob: My other parts are a secret.

Mom (thinking): Hmmm... I wonder which side of the family he got these "other parts" from.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What Makes You Happy?

Our Family Home Evening topic this week was "joy." (Family Home Evening is a special time we set aside every Monday night to study the gospel in our home, to learn together and play together, and build faith and unity in our family.) As part of the lesson, I asked each family member to list three things that make him/her happy.

What makes Jacob happy:
1. motorcycles
2. airplanes
3. turtles
(I have no idea what the train of thought was there.)

What makes Isaac happy:
1. my family
2. floating boats (see previous post)
3. our trip to Utah (which he talks about on a weekly basis, even though it was 3 months ago)

What makes Grace happy:
1. reading books
2. kitties
3. chocolate chips (uh-oh, she is her mother's child)

What makes Mommy happy:
1. music
2. being with my family
3. developing talents

What makes Daddy happy:
1. sunny days
2. playing with my children
3. good food

A nice snapshot of what our life is about right now.

Bon Voyage

One thing we love about our neighborhood is the beautiful stream and walking path that run through it. The stream is the perfect setting for paper boat races. Marty helps the kids engineer their watercraft, complete with ballast, and then we launch them from a bridge and see whose boat makes it to the stream first. We take along a skewer (the kind used to roast marshmallows) to free the boats when they get stuck in the "rapids." The kids think this is the coolest thing ever, and they are constantly updating their designs trying to improve their chances of winning. (This time Jacob covered his raft entirely in masking tape to "waterproof" it.) Each of our boats took its turn in the lead, and each sunk several times and required a Coast Guard rescue, but I believe Isaac's ultimately won this time.

We cherish these simple evenings together.

This was Marty's boat. If you look carefully, you can see the two flies that rode as passengers until the boat swamped.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It Must Be Genetic

These photos were all taken in a period of less than three minutes.

'Nough Said

So, Marty and I were making dinner when Jacob came out of his room to show us the project he had been working on:

Jacob: "Mom, Dad, look! I made two puppets! This one is a farmer. See, I made his overalls and everything. He's a farmer and he works hard."

Mom: "Wow, that's terrific! ...and what's the other one?"

Jacob: "This is his woman. She's just a mouth."

Lakefront Property

Friday night we enjoyed a ward picnic and swim at a nearby lake. Jacob's focus was on creating real estate. This particular property features "big long hallways, a flag, a dam for collecting drinking water, and a tower." Anyone interested?

I had thought Grace would be timid around the water, but to my surprise she waded right in and refused to come out. She stood there, knee-deep in water with a fistful of mud in each hand and an enormous grin on her face.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Swim and Sun

This is what summer is all about - 95 degrees, sunscreen, and a lot of water. Since work is really slow, Marty took the day off yesterday, and we headed to the local pool. It's very toddler-friendly, with a sloped walk-in entry, and lots of giant pool toys and fountains. Jacob has gotten brave and spends most of his time in the "deep" end (3 1/2 feet) jumping off the side and practicing his crawl. Isaac swims in the shallows with his hands touching the ground, and likes to shoot people with the elephant-shaped squirt gun. Grace just runs laps around the outside of the pool and practices her entry. Funny girl. She is fascinated by the fountains and tries to pick them up.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Summer Sweets

A kind neighbor brought over a bushel of perfectly ripe cherries last week, so I did some unplanned canning after making use of the photo op. The boys helped me pit them, laughing each time they got sprayed with juice, and watched curiously to see just how much hot syrup went into each jar. "Grown-up" jobs really interest them at this age. I hope they will have fond memories of these simple days when they are older.

Signs of Spring?

We had very little spring here this year, with winter seemingly merging right into summer. I guess the weather fooled the robins too - three baby robins hatched just a couple of weeks ago in our crabapple tree. The boys find the whole thing fascinating, and I admit I do too! It really is the little things that matter most.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Happy Fourth of July Wiikend

We celebrated the Fourth in true American style with a family barbecue at Uncle Danny's house, fireworks in the street, and...

...some Mario Kart action on the Wii.

Danny grilled his famous Hawaiian burgers, Kelly made an awesome patriotic cake, Marty got a hole in one playing Wii golf, Mom and I learned how to play Mexican Train, and Jacob managed to captivate an audience with a game of animal charades. (No cat or dog for him - he acted out "humpback whale" and "amphibian.")

The boys tolerated the fireworks fairly well, especially Jacob who is finally into noise this year. In between every firework, there was a chorus of "Is THAT one loud??" (Danny and Marty went to great lengths to buy "quiet" fireworks.) Thanks, everyone! We are very thankful to live close to family and be able to get together so often.

By Way of Introduction

Hello! Welcome to our family blog. We are: Christine (me), Marty (supportive husband who prefers to be called Superman), Jacob (omniscient soon-to-be first-grader), Isaac (our peacemaker), and Grace (who answers to "Shnuggle"). We currently have no pets and will be keeping it that way for at least the next 20 years, or until the kids learn to clean up after themselves, whichever comes first.

I hope this blog will be an entertaining way of recording life's daily trials and triumphs. A way to keep in touch with family and friends. A great repository for embarassing stories which will be brought up when the kids begin dating. And most importantly, a way to count our blessings and cherish the little moments. The daily story may be humorous, frustrating, exhilarating, saddening, inspiring, or boring, but at least now it will get told.