While in California, Mom pointed out the fact that Jackson and Henry were set to get baptized on the same day...Amanda and I had talked about it but didn't even realize it would be a problem. Ha! Since the drive to the beach had been so awesome, it didn't take long for me to form the plan of driving to Denver over Labor Day weekend to go to Henry's baptism, and on the way stop in Moab to visit Arches.
Britt had told me that all 4th grade students can get a free pass to all of the National Parks, and so instead of renewing our year pass in Montana at Glacier, waited until September 1 so Lily could save us some money. We left after school on August 31 on an AWESOME ride where we didn't stop ONE TIME. It was AMAZING. Sure I was driving with the gas light on for the last 28 miles on the pitch black side road to Moab, but we made it! After getting some gas and snacks at McDonalds, we drove to our Motel 8, which I had paid a very low price for and was crossing my fingers it wasn't too ghetto. Sure there was a police car and some belligerent customers in the lobby, but no danger!
The next morning we got up bright and early and after breakfast and printing off Lily's free pass, drove up to Arches where the entry woman informed us Lily was the first 4th grader card of the year! Lily was super excited, she was quite proud of the fact she was saving us lots of money.
After some time spent in the Visitors Center (such neat exhibits, the older kids were so excited), we went to the Balanced Rock, then off to the Sand Dune Arch. This was the favorite by far as the walk included walking through sand in the shade of a slot canyon. So so so nice. Perfect temperatures, the kids were so happy in the sand, it was wonderful.
The kids all wanted separate photos on this rock that I really didn't want Ada to climb alone, but she is more stubborn than me, although I was able to stay pretty close to her and help her down.
The next two (1 1/2) walks it was getting hot and although everyone was still super excited any time they saw an arch, it was definitely getting time to get on the road to get to Denver.
But not before a bathroom break. Remembering how Lily tortured me on her first camping trip when she refused to use an outhouse but refused to wear a diaper....yes I totally waited with my camera ready for her to come out. We had a good laugh over that face!
After tempting the kids with Cafe Rio and a huge park at a place 1.5 hours away, we were in the car again! And then again went with no stops all the way to Denver, again driving the last 20+ miles with the gas light on until we were close to Amanda's. Such good travelers! Although I'm sure they got the sense pretty quickly that I was not going to put up with any errant behavior without yelling at the top of my voice, so for the most part things were pretty peaceful. The kids were SO EXCITED to get there, and I was so excited to not be driving anymore.
The next morning we headed over to the Children's Museum, which was even more awesome than we remembered. Lots of super fun exhibits, the favorite being the climbing one where the kids climbed up like 4 floors or something. They did it 3 times. Unfortunately I had left the apples in the car, and Isaac got to a point where the bowl of Cocoa Puffs he had for breakfast wasn't cutting it, and he lost it pretty bad, just cried and cried, saying he wanted to go home. Instead of grabbing an apple for the one boy, I forced everybody to leave even though they probably could have been happy for another 2 hours if fed. But lesson learned I guess. Adam flew in that night and it was very nice to not be a single parent anymore.
Henry's baptism was the next morning, and I was lucky enough to give the talk on baptism. Practicing that helped me stay awake on that long drive. Even after all of the sharing times and lessons given, I really don't understand why it's so hard to get up and speak. It was a fun day and after the big luncheon afterwards we basically rested. Mom and Dad and Tyler's parents were around as well, it was just a really nice group to spend time with. Tyler took the time to play Splendor with Jackson one morning while I was still sleeping. Tyler's parents made sure to watch Lily's gymnastics routine with lots of compliments. And of course it is always nice to be around Amanda. Time with her is a treasure for sure.
We drove home Monday, a much quicker trip with another adult. Unfortunately for my future travel plans, the kids did NOT do well with making up the 3 missed days of homework. Isaac likes to take about 80 pictures a day with my phone, and this shot is a pretty normal occurrence.
This one too - giving choices for food. Not that he ever goes along with that. I regret so much the practices I instilled or the genes I passed on to these kids that make almost every meal a struggle.
Since we had to wait for the free National Park pass, we also had to wait to go on our annual Back to School Narrows hike in Zions. But it was still beautiful weather and it is always a treat to spend time with the older kids without the craziness that the littles sometimes bring into the picture.
We had to park the care outside of Zions, so we walked through the entrance. The line for people with passes was much empty compared to a very long one that needed to pay. Lily walked up first with her card and the man made a big deal about her being a 4th grader. She had the biggest smile on her face and didn't mind a bit thinking everybody was looking at her. After waiting in a 10 minute line to get onto a bus (SO BUSY), we were off. We saw a few dear, wild turkeys, and really it was just so neat answering their questions and looking at things they were pointing out. Although it took a while to get used to the chilly water, it really is such a neat hike. The kids were so excited about this waterfall, and the gorgeous views are just stunning.
The kids took a while to get into that little nook. The walk back it was getting pretty warm, and Lily struggled to finish without whining, which she got teased about quite a bit, but overall it was a wonderful day spent with two wonderful kids. And that we got to finish off with wonderful Pizza Wagon pizza - bonus!
Also school starts in August! Which was like being thrown a life raft after wading in the middle of the ocean for 2.5 months! I was really starting to lose it, and the quietness that comes when two out of four kids are being taught and taken care of by someone else...is beautiful and magical. 2nd and 4th grade. So crazy.
Grandma and Grandpa bought Jack a ticket to Tarzan, and I got mine, so the four of us went out to Tuacahn for the night. So fun! He seemed to enjoy it and even said quietly "Don't do it!" when the bad guy is trying to get Tarzan to show him where the gorillas are.
Ada loves stuffed animals, and has inherited tons of lightly used ones from her siblings who were never really into them. So she is usually cuddling one or another and loves to have a friend in the car.
I think Isaac misses his other car seat, it was a little easier to fall asleep in.
8 years old. I just can't believe it! This kid was hoping for a fondant cake in the shape of an X-box controller....yeah. I finally told him that I am just not capable of doing something like that, and gave him the option of a two layer chocolate cake with mint frosting and Andes mints too. He was very supportive and didn't want to watch me make it and afterwards said he loved it. So much sweetness. We got him a little Ipod shuffle and luckily Zach got him pink earbuds (he told me later he doesn't really tell people he likes pink but he actually really likes it). After everything was all done he told me he didn't need anything else, he was just so happy. With the overwhelming amount of whining we dealt with on the vacations that was SO NICE TO HEAR.
This summer I was able to get into a routine of running some days and riding my bike on others. I bike up airport hill and on my birthday there was a gorgeous sunrise. Love the clear air and the fact that I am healthy and strong at 34.
I woke Lily up one day and she came upstairs a few minutes later excited to show me she had put on a matching outfit! I realize these types of things will cease before I know it, so we had Jackson take a picture.
Jackson's 2nd cake for friends. That would have been a crazy day notwithstanding my super unorganized doings, and I made the decision that I will not do birthday parties for kids over 8. Most of that came from me leaving Jack on the street at Liz's after he whined about not wanting to double buckle, not knowing or asking if she was willing to only bring him if Zach and Chase continued to refuse to come, with me driving away with all of the other birthday goers in my car. So hopefully Isaac and Ada will enjoy their last few.
Also hopefully they will go to the bounce house every year, as it is super cheap for kids under 8 (and yes that was part of my decision making).
Jackson was SO UPSET to miss Cannon Beach. He cried and cried (and of course cried and cried if we ever tried to take him away from the lake, but nevermind that) and complained like crazy. So I got the idea that I could take the kids to visit Britt and give them some beach time. After taking Isaac to the wound clinic here in St. George to make sure they weren't 3rd degree burns (nope!) and getting the instructions that he should wear socks to protect him from the hot sand and sun, we were off!
We made the trip in about 5 hours....yes I think about that a lot and it's hard to not want to go every few weeks. It was such a fun trip, even though I was STILL on edge from Montana and my temper would unleash at about anything, and I threatened to drive home like 12 times in the three days we were there....especially when Jackson whined about not spending ENOUGH time on the beach, even though it was over 5 hours each day the two days we were there.
It was honestly so hard to choose which pictures to post. Britt took a ton and they were all wonderful and they make me so happy to look at. Ada wanted nothing to do with the water back in February, but this trip she loved it as long as she was with me (thank heavens - some of those tides were pretty strong). Here she is eating my nose, thinking she was pretty hilarious (it was).
Britt formed Isaac into a walrus, he thought that was pretty cool! She also showed him how to catch the little burrowing crabs when the tide went out, and he caught so many and was so excited. She directed them to a lot of fun things!
We did spend one morning at Trader Joes, but other than that we were at the water.
Lily got a lot better at boogie boarding this trip. Eleanor and Gregory had an early out day and then Britt took them out early the next day. The kids loved the company!
Love that face.
And that one. If you look closely you can see his sand covered socks. He wore them faithfully even though they and the bandages would get bogged down with water and sand. He would run and look like he had flippers on.
The kids would just go back and forth from the water to the sand. Seriously one of the best vacations ever.
Britt basically made it so I had valet parking - she would either drop me off with the kids to go and park somewhere, or when we had to do the super skinny parallel parking she parked her car, then switched me places so she could park my car. Ha! She is a pro and I can barely pull into a parking spot straight anymore. I think Costco has spoiled me.
Jackson threw huge fits every time we would leave, and go sprinting back into the waves. He and Gregory would go so far out and just dive down into them. It was so fun to watch. After time in the water they would head back to dig dig dig. They would get covered from head to toe with sand and then head back for the water. He was in heaven. For no reason whatsoever he flung his swim shirt off on the second day when we got to the beach, and got his first taste of a sunburn later on. He slept next to the fan with his shirt off, and squealed so loud if anybody touched it.
Ada loved how the tide would sweep her away with me holding her arms. She started copying me saying "It's a big one!" and point to the oncoming wave. So super cute. She was pretty lucky that Isaac didn't want me to hold him as much as she wanted to be in the water. The few times I went out with him she would stand back and cry, waiting for me to come back.
The last night we were there Kurt watched all of the kids while Britt and I took the convertible out to Balboa Island for a nice long walk on the boardwalk. Hopefully I won't take advantage of their hospitality - Britt cooked and Kurt would do the dishes every night. It was awesome and I will gladly repeat how excited I am to go back soon.
When I think about June these pictures come to mind. At least before it got too hot, basically every afternoon when the kids would get bored and ask to watch a show or play video games I would say "Let's go swimming!" And they would spend the rest of the day in the pool. Isaac once got out to sit with me, fell asleep, woke up a bit later than got right back in.
Adam actually pointed out after a while that he never got to go swimming since the kids had gotten out by the time he got home after being in for 3-4 hours. It was nice to have tired kids! Jackson did swim team so after a while he wasn't too excited about our pool though.
One night Jackson was very frustrated about something, I can't remember what, probably video games and the lack thereof (in his opinion). We had gotten home at about 9 pm and I told him to get his running shoes on, then we went out and ran a mile. I talked about how sometimes getting all of the frustration and negative energy out would be helpful for him. Then I got determined to get the older kids out of bed early to either go running or biking. It worked with Jackson a handful of times but Lily was getting her bum kicked by gymnastics (3 hrs 2x a week). It was fun while it lasted and I love having time with the kids to talk about whatever. Maybe someday if the kids do no summer camps/activities then they will have more energy to go out with me!
Lily did a coding camp with her good friend Emma. Kind of strange to see her doing such technical things.
Father's day! We love Adam, and he loves french toast, sausage and orange juice. I actually got a verbal affirmation that it was one of his favorite meals! Score! He is a tough one to please, and his favorites totally depend on his mood.
Lily sometimes gets bored in the car. I have quite a few more interesting faces....
When Nathan and Amanda were here we spent a day at Fiesta Fun. Isaac was so excited to do laser tag and it was beyond awesome how he moved stealthily around the course shooting people. The first two times he stayed very close to me but the third time he ventured out a bit on his own. He looked so cute in his oversized vest.
Some fun swimming time as well. By now we weren't in our pool as much, as it was like jumping into a huge hot tub.
I was able to snag some pretty good pics of the kids before cousin Sasha's blessing. Ada's a tough one to catch with a smile on her face! She usually just wants to do exactly what she wants to do, and it usually doesn't include smiling for a camera.
Isaac mimicing Adam. Ha!
Lily attempting a lemonade stand in 110 degree weather. She and her friend were trading places inside and the stand pretty constantly. It was soooooo hot!
We spent quite a few nights at the park, starting at about 8 pm so the kids could have some outside time. Yes it was late but once the sun went behind the houses it was quite pleasant. One night I walked down with the kids and Jackson biked home and then carried a blanket back so we could sit on it. Then Lily did it another night. Very peaceful to lay under the sky.
And off to Montana! Adam's family whipped up a family reunion within a few weeks time and so last minute we changed plans from Cannon Beach to Echo Lake. It's always neat to visit new places!
After church on our first day we went to Glacier National Park. Such clear water! I love how long kids can throw rocks into water. Jackson is trying really hard to learn how to skip stones. Adam skipped quite a few larger rocks which was super impressive to all of us.
Me and my kiddos.
All of us.
We went home to take a little family canoe ride. So beautiful and perfect weather!
I really do love my in-laws, they are wonderful people and a very positive presence in our lives.
We shared the Hill House with the Hansens, Hendershots, and Ben and Peggy. Ada and Isaac had so much fun with Ashley's kids, it was so fun to watch! Here is Ada and Roam, born 2 days apart.
I loved the Hill House, it was nice to kind of be away from the center of things. And it was nice to never be short a workout for the day, because only about half of the steps are shown in this photo!
Sparing the gruesome details and additional glaring evidence of me not have the mental strength for basically anything, Isaac stepped on hot coals from the dutch oven dinner and burned his feet so bad. So along with going up those steps a handful of times a day, for the majority of the week I was carrying this little peanut, and sometimes his little sister too (makes me tired remembering it).
While I was worrying my brains out about third degree burns vs. second degree burns and constant dressing changes, the kids were having an awesome time out on the water.
Jackson loved the jet skis and knee boarding and the couch tube. Lily was loving spending time with cousins Belle and Flora.
By Thursday I was more than done carrying Isaac everywhere and got Adam to take us to Glacier again. This time we drove much farther in and got to see some gorgeous sights.
Even though the mountains probably didn't even compare, to me they seemed as impressive as the Alps. So gorgeous and my fear of heights was very evident, to the amusement of the kids. Although I didn't need to force them to stay inside the car and stay away from the ledges.
Ada loved spending time in the water. She would fight us to not put on her life jacket, but luckily she finally understood that there was no wiggle room on that one. Unlike the rest of her life, where we are major pushovers.
Ada and Cora.
There was always a handful of kids waiting in line to have a chance to ride the little 4-wheeler around the house loop. Here is Jack trying to show off but really just getting into trouble because it wasn't okay to ride on the grass.
Although Isaac went swimming a few times with his socks and bandages on, I unfortunately didn't get him in a canoe until the last morning. I also waited until the morning of our departure to enjoy myself in the water. I was just too high strung and traumatized to do it before then. Adam had gotten me on the couch tube a few days prior and I felt like I was going to die; the last day I had so much fun being on there with Isaac and Jack. Makes me excited for next time.
Normally Ada clung to me or Ada when swimming, but this time she was so happy. Adam was playing a game with her where he would disappear under the water and come up, and she would just burst out laughing. So cute.
When Nathan and Amanda were here we got a big family picture! And our individual one done. I love it but it is hard to not give Jackson a hard time about smiling!!! Did he really have to make that face?? I'm kind of laughing but not as much as I will someday, I'm sure.
Britt came through and reminded me how crazy it is that my kids will get food this way. Ada will as well, she just needs to use the lower drawer as a step.
Still friends. This trip they attempted to run away. They left lots of notes for us, went all the way to Little Valley Elementary, then turned back because it was cold. Us adults hadn't noticed. The runaway notes are priceless though!
The older I get the more amazed I am that I was lucky enough to become and stay friends with this wonderful woman.