Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Pioneer Trek

We survived!  And we loved it.  It was a great experience - and, as one of our "children," Kyle, said today, we're homesick for it.  :)

Now not all of it was fun of course - I mean, pushing a handcart on a sandy trail in the hot, hot sun is not fun exactly.  But worth it.  And overall the trek was definitely fun.  Just being around those kids was fun.  Just listening to them talk, tease each other, etc.  It was great.  Seeing their friendships develop was awesome.  Hearing their testimonies of the trek was neat.  Being with Ben was fantastic.  Trekking the same ground where the pioneers had been was special.  And so forth.

I'm going to write about each day for my "journal" and memory.

We met at the church at 5am.  Which didn't seem so bad since it was originally to be 4am.  I felt lucky!  We left by 5:30 and then picked up more kids in Delta.  From there we began the long journey to Wyoming.  On a school bus.  No, I'm not kidding.  It was . . . miserable.  I got pretty sick and about twice thought I was going to throw up.  But I didn't.  At our lunch break the "families" were announced.  We found out who our children were - one came from our ward, the rest from the stake.  We knew a good handful of them.  We finally got to our destination by around 3:30 or so.  We had some orientation, gathered our supplies, got a handcart, and began our trekking.  It was about 3 miles to our camp - on a sandy, windy trail.  We got to camp, set up our tents (go girls in always being the first to set up their tent - yeah, it was totally easier than the boys'!), and had dinner.  We then had a contra-dancing activity and that ended up being totally fun.  I could have done it all night.  :)  It was especially cool when I was paired up with the tallest boy (and probably male) there - maybe 6'6 or more?  He was practically on his knees.  Awesome.  We then had a fireside by one of the senior missionaries serving there.  Then we went back to our campsite and had a little fireside for our own family.  Then bed.  Ben and I slept great that night!

We got up and took down our camp and ate breakfast (our meals were all provided and made for us - we were totally spoiled, I know).  We trekked over to Martin's Cove and had to listen to another missionary share a pioneer story.  I was miserably bored.  But that's how I get when I'm bored:  miserable.  :)  But, seriously, it was just sooooooo long.  And most of us had done some research of the pioneers and had known most of these stories anyways.  And it was hot just sitting there (walking created a breeze).  As you might can tell, Tuesday was rough for me.  We'd trek, then have to listen to a story, trek, sit and story, trek, sit and story.  I think we all just wanted to go and DO.  Not sit.  We did the sweetwater river crossing - but had quite the opposite emotions of the Willie and Martin Pioneer company.  We were looking forward to getting wet and cooled off!  I joked that I might just "accidentally" trip and fall in to the water.  The water was also only inches deep.  We finally trekked back to our starting point on Monday, cleaned up the carts, loaded the buses, and were off to another part of the trail.  Again, I felt sick on the bus and when getting out in the hot, hot sun.  I got no relief from the heat.  We had an orientation to the "Rocky Ridge Trail" and then rode the bus to our campsite for the night.  We set up camp, had dinner, the kids hung out for a bit, then we went to bed.  Ben and I slept so-so that night.

This was our big trek day along the Rocky Ridge Trail.  It was about 15 miles or so.  Prayers were answered as we had a cloudy day - we even got a big rainstorm on the trail!  It was a fantastic day.  I loved it and I think the kids did, too.  Our family just stuck together and had some really great times.  We did the women's pull - where the men all leave and go up the trail and thus leave the women to pull/push the handcarts on our own.  It was a neat experience, yet, for me, I couldn't get over the fact that we had 6 women pulling/pushing and we only did it for like 1/4 of a mile.  Next time I would suggest doing it for longer to make us suffer.  :)  But it was pretty sweet to see all the men as we got to the top of the hill.  It was a really special experience for the kids, as most of them mentioned it in their thoughts and testimonies that night.  The rain storm was pretty big - the rain pelted us.  We got a better glimpse of how cold it could be up there.  A glimpse, a very small glimpse.  After 10 hours on the trail, we made it to camp.  It was a beautiful spot and we had a beautiful sunset there.

We were so impressed with our "kids."  They were just great.  We didn't need to direct them or anything - they took care of it themselves.  They really banded together and usually they were all either pushing or pulling.  We had Kyle, a young man with cerebral palsy, in our group and so we had one handcart and one rickshaw where Kyle sat.  So all of our family was needed pretty much at all times.  These kids, and not only just ours, are just neat.  I am impressed with their goodness - they had good, clean fun.  They were goofy, made up the silliest nicknames for each other, teased each other - but it was all good, clean fun.  I loved it and they seemed to, too.  Most of them didn't really know each other - but they became really good friends.  They were super helpful with Kyle, too.  Two girls in particular, Kellie and Alyssa, really befriended him and took him everywhere in his rickshaw.  They were awesome like that.

Anyways, after our trek we went to camp and set up our tents.  We had dinner, another fireside by some missionary couples, then we went back to camp and the kids got letters from home delivered to them.  After they read them we went with another family and had a testimony meeting with them.  It was great hearing the kids share their thoughts.  They all really spoke about the many "spiritual" experiences they had had and how they loved it and all that good stuff.  Quite a few of the kids mentioned Kyle and the impact he had on them.  It was great.  Then we had s'mores and the kids just hung around and chatted.  By 11 we rounded up our kids and had them get to bed.  The girls' and boys' tents were pretty close to each other and it caused for some funny stuff.  Alyssa started saying, "Brian,"  wait maybe 10 seconds, "Brian,"  wait 10 seconds, . . . until Brian finally replied, "What?!"  "Tickle Quinn."  "No, he's asleep!"  "Brian,"  wait 10 seconds, "Brian," wait 10 seconds, . . . "What?!"  "Have Hayden tickle Quinn."  "No, he's asleep!"  This went on for a bit.  It's probably one of those "you had to be there" things, but it was so funny.  Ben and I were just laughing in our tent.  But finally I had to say, "Alyssa, keep your talking inside your tent, please."  To which the boys yelled, "Thank you!"  Fun stuff.  But Alyssa is super cool and mature and so when I told her sorry in the morning, she was cool with it.  :)  Ben slept really great that night; I slept pretty good.

We got up early.  Starting packing up, eating breakfast, etc.  We then had another missionary thing (I'll try and hold my comments) and then another stake testimony meeting.  Truthfully, I didn't think we needed another testimony less than 12 hours after the one from the night before. . . but kids got up and so, of course, it was a good thing.  But I must be a little anal and take after my dad somewhat because I was all anxious that we were late.  And we did end up leaving over an hour late.  Which was fine, but I had also had hopes of getting home a little early and maybe seeing some of our kids.  But the trip home was a long 11-hours.  Though I had fun, played some games with the kids, and didn't get sick.  Wahoo.  We got back to the church around 10:30 or so.

Then we came home and visited with Jim for a bit.  Then showered.  Then bed.  Luckily Ben didn't have to leave for work until 9:30 so he got to see the kids - which was good because he had a late day at work and didn't come home until close to 7pm.

As for things here at home, all was well.  Or at least that is what Jim and Diana said.  :)

I definitely missed my kids and being around them and just talking to them.  But it was also definitely okay and was even nice to get away.  I think it was a nice break for Ben and me, as well as for our kids.  I'm not so sure it was a nice break for Jim and Diana - but we sure appreciated it!

Here are a few pictures I took of the trek:
 Our family from left to right:  Hayden, Katie, Jacob, Ben, Brian, Alyssa, Kellie, Quinn, Kyle, Josie, and Sara.  A pretty fantastic bunch.

 A cool full or almost-full? moon.

 On Tuesday we took turns riding with Kyle.  My turn.  It was nice, but I also felt bad having them pull me. But Kyle enjoyed having buddies, I think.

Some of our might trekkers.

Yes, I think it's something I would do again in 4 years.  We'll see!

A first!

On Friday, while eating snack, Emmy started crying as she bit in to her food.  I just assumed her tooth ached and maybe she was getting a cavity (she's been given lots of candy lately . . . to encourage her to use the bathroom when she needs to . . .).  But a few hours later she came in from outside announcing that she had a loose tooth!  Oh she did and it was pretty loose!  So fun!

By Saturday afternoon Emmy was ready to get her tooth out.  I guess Ben tried and couldn't and so I told her to go get some TP and I'd do it.  And did it I did.  :)  It was quite simple and she didn't wince at all (she prayed she wouldn't cry  :).  Yay, so fun!  The tooth fairy even remembered to come!

Emmy was real excited for the tooth fairy. . . we had some of our bestest friends from here over last night.  Our friends are moving on Wednesday and so we were in no rush to have them depart.  By 9pm Emmy told me she wanted to go to bed so the tooth fairy could come.  She got her PJs on, brushed her teeth, pottied, and then I read her a book.  Even with the noise of the other 9 kids, she feel right asleep . . . so cute.

My expensive run last week . . .

I had just started my long Saturday run and ran past people setting out stuff for a garage sale.  I noticed a bed I thought looked pretty cool, but didn't stop to check it out.  Instead, when I got back, I sent Ben out to look at the bed, as a possibility for Emmy.  He liked it and bought it - along with an antique dresser and a super old sewing table with a built-in, flip-out Singer sewing machine.  That works.  Pretty cool stuff.  Here is Emmy on her Super BIG Bed:

Miles a little dirty . . .

Unfortunate for neighborhood appeal, but fortunate for my kids (especially my boys, and even more especially for Miles), my neighbors' yards are just dirt.  This is the after-effects for Miles:

Indeed, a shower was in order . . .

the Elders, in particular, Elder Koyle

We finally got a picture of our two girls with their first crush, Elder Koyle:

Elder Koyle, Emmy, Lucy, and Elder Black.

And here is just a silly video and what love makes young girls do:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ma and Pa

And so the trek begins . . .

Well really it begins tomorrow morning at 5.  Wish us luck!

And wish the grandMa and grandPa luck, too.  :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Jonas' last baseball game . . . kind of.

This was supposed to be Jonas' last game.  But due to two other games being canceled and rescheduled, he still has two games next week.  But Ben and I will be gone on trek, so this was our last game to watch him.  It only lasted about 30 minutes before the rain, thunder, and lightning came.  But in those 30 minutes Jonas was up to bat twice, had 2 great hits (finally he's getting it!), and 1 score.  It was grand.

 Batter's up!

 He hit it on the first pitch and was oh so proud.  Yay Jonas!

 Second time up he had two strikes. . . bummer.

 But he had a great hit on the 3rd pitch - wahoo!

And here he is coming home.  Sure, he didn't quite step on the base (we made him go back and do it), but it was still exciting and awesome.  He's definitely improved.  It must be the new baseball pants we got him.

How does your garden grow?

Ours is a little out of control . . .
 Those tall plants are tomatoes.  I had meant to prune them before I left for Littleton, but I didn't get to it.  Then I came back and they were/are crazy.  The rest of the garden is squashes of some sort or another - spaghetti, zucchini, and pumpkins.  We've already harvested over 30 cups of basil.

I am not sure how I'm even going to find anything in there!  We cut back our watering, but nature has provided us with a lot of extra this past week.  I just hope we grow more than just leaves . . . We'll see.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Musings

We had the elders (missionaries) over for dinner this evening.  Now, not only does Lucy have a total crush on Elder Koyle, but Emmy, too.  I was worn-out just from watching them and being around them as they played all their little games with Elder Koyle.  Lucy - after being prompted by Miles - eventually just laid it all out and declared to Elder Koyle, "I love you."  To which he replied, "I love you, too."  He's a good man like that.  :)

Anyways, we were in the kitchen cleaning up and Emmy said something like this to Elder Koyle, "I wonder why me and Lucy fell in love with you?"  I think he said something like, "Well I don't know . . ."  And then Emmy simply stated, "Go look in the mirror and you'll know."

HAHAHA.  I told Elder Koyle that her flirting skills far beat mine!  Wowzers, where did she come up with such a line.  It was hilarious.  Good thing Elder Koyle is such a good sport.  His companions have been great sports too and always say something like, "He gets this a lot."  I need to get a picture of Elder Koyle and my girls.  I think it is the first crush for both of them (besides Emmy's Luke Skywalker, but this one is a real person  :).

This is a fun picture.  The gal in the middle is Lovely Lindsay.  She lived with her sister and brother-in-law, who are in our ward, for a few months.  She decided, while here, to go on a mission and so she worked a lot with Ben - filling out the application forms and all that good stuff.  She was called to the Kiev, Ukraine mission and leaves in a couple of weeks (she got her mission call months ago and so had time to go back to BYU-I and do another semester.  She came down this weekend for a nephew's baptism and also gave a talk in sacrament meeting today.  Then she goes back to BYU-I for finals next week!  Then the MTC.  Crazy!)  Anyways, she's such a sunny personality and it was fun to see her again today.  She's our ward's first missionary!

P.S.  Oh yeah.  I'm totally standing on the steps and almost make it to normal heights.  :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pioneer Trek

So I made my first pioneer bonnet yesterday.  It turned out way better than I expected since sometimes I wasn't quite sure what I was doing . . .

 She's so beautiful!  Even though it's huge on her, she looks way better in it than I do.  :)

 Do I look like a Ma?  :)

Yesterday we hit up our local thrift store and came away with 2 shirts for me, a perfect brim hat for me also, a pair of pants for Ben, a vest for Ben, and hiking shoes for Ben.  All for $0.00.  Awesome!  (We have some credit at the store . . . lucky us).

Oh, maybe I should have started out by saying that Ben and I are going on our Stake's Pioneer Trek.  In 12 days.  Crazy.  I hope it's fun and good and a learning experience and all that good stuff.  I hope Ben and I can have fun being together without our kids . . . but with 11 other "kids."

I hope our "other kids" behave better than my current ones.  :)

Monday, July 08, 2013

Littleton over the 4th

So there were a couple of reasons I decided to go up to Littleton (without Ben, boohoo):
1.  To see grandparents.  It's great to be with family and the kids just love, love, love it/them.
2.  To see the Okee Dokee Brothers preform.  We love the duo and saw that they had an "open to the public" show in some school in Denver called Most Precious Blood.  Free shows are just my price.
3.  To see one of my best friends, Csilla, who moved to Fort Collins - about 1 1/2 hours from Littleton.

Pretty good reasons, huh?  We had a really good time and accomplished all the reasons why we went up:

 The Okee Dokee Brothers.  If I was a little girl, I think I'd have a crush on them.  They are just soooooooo cute - oh, and good, too!  Seriously, I think they are great.  I adore their music and their style and think they are great for kids, too.  It was a fun, 45-minute show and I think the kids liked it, too.  They seemed a little reserved kind of, but it was a neat thing to see them live.

 We were happy to have Grandpa Max come with us!  Fun, fun.

 So this was a totally bizarre event:  this night the boys made up little contraption-fort thingys.  The boys would go in one end and then something would happen while inside and then they'd come out the other end.  What usually happened is that an item of clothing came off.  What!?  Seriously.  These are the same 2 boys that will hardly let me or Ben be in the room when they change their shirts.  It was most weird, slightly entertaining, as well as slightly embarrassing - for me.  I'm not sure what Jim and Diana thought.  :)  Miles, at one point, had only one item of clothing left on (his skivvies, of course) and threatened to go in the "machine" again.  I said no and luckily he listened.  Such crazy boys.  I blame it on the donuts they had consumed earlier on.  :)

The 4th of July!  While on my morning run I noticed this flower garden - in the design of the American flag!  So cool!  So I got home and after breakfast I took the kids to the path and we walked to the house.  While we were taking pictures from the path, a man came out and welcomed us to come on in to his backyard to get a closer look.  

 It might be hard to see, but he had 13 rows of red and white stripes.  At the top left corner he had his patch of blue flowers, mixed in with 50 white flowers.  Crazy, huh!?  Even crazier:  he said he planted 2,000 flowers.  Wow.  He also said 1.  He should have done the Japanese flag!, 2.  He spent 2 full days of weeding that week, and 3.  He'll probably never do it again.  So I'm glad we saw it!

 I saw this on pinterest who knows when and tried it out on my girls' hair.  It turned out okay - next year I'll know how to do it better, though.

 I painted the girls' nails - they loved it.

 Jim and Diana's neighborhood was doing a "Street Parade" and so we got to join in on that fun.  Here the girls are in the wagon as we head to the "Parade Street" as my kids now call it.

 The girls opted to have Jim pull them up and down the street.  There are some more parade-goers in the back. The kids were given little bags of candy to toss to the spectators.  That was fun!

There it goes!  Can you see the old car in front?  It's awesome.

 The neighbors then held an ice-cream social afterwards.  My picture isn't so great, but I still love it.  The kids ate ice cream and cookies and drank juice and all that good stuff.  They enjoyed themselves!  Jonas even found a friend and wanted a play-date with him.  :)

 My girls loved the swing in the backyard, too.  It was a fun start to our July 4th.

I don't know what we did in the afternoon - played with the hose in the backyard, watched 1/2 a movie, etc.  We had dinner and Grandma Dee came for that.  It was a nice dinner outside.  After dinner the boys went fishing with Grandpa Max.  Miles caught a crayfish, but nothing else.  There was some remote-controlled boat that Jonas was pretty excited to tell me about - they even got a turn driving it.  They came home for a few minutes and then the boys extended their "boys night out" (as Jonas kept calling it) and went and saw the fireworks.  They loved it and had a great time with their grandpa.

 The boys couldn't wait for me to leave with the girls - that's how much they love us.  :)  In fact, Miles helped me fill up the water bottles, etc.  Ha!  We left and got to Fort Collins and went to Csilla's house.  We hung out for a bit there and then went out to lunch.  After that we went to this fabulous park - splash pad and playground stuff galore.  Everyone loved it.  The picture above shows Emmy and Levi.

 Lucy loved playing in the water!

 So fun.

 There I am holding Csilla's newest sweetie:  Lexi.  She's a cutie and such a good baby.  Although she greatly despises car-rides and brothers spitting on her.  Smart girl.

 Lucy still lovin' the water.  She spent most of her time there - and just a little bit on the playground.  Emmy was probably more on the playground and scooter.

The clouds started coming and so we decided to head back before we got rained on.  I think we left at the perfect time.  Csilla drove me through "Old Town" and it started pouring, pouring, pouring!  The streets were flooding - it was awesome!  Right before we made it back to her home there was a big flash of lightning and then immediately after the biggest CRASH of thunder I think I've ever heard.  It was neat - but a little daunting, too.  Another reason (among the many!) to move to Fort Collins:  afternoon showers!

We hung out a little more at Csilla's house.  Just visiting and playing and enjoying ourselves.  It was grand.
Here is some of the group:  Levi, Csilla, Kyle, Emmy and Lucy.  Emmy and Kyle are within 10 days of each other and Lucy and Levi are a little over a month apart.  Pretty cool, huh?  They all had fun playing and I just loved my time with Csilla.  She's great.

I got lost on the way back home - I missed my exit and then had no idea where and how and what and all that stuff.  After turning around and missing another exit, I finally made it all the way back to the original exit I had missed and made it home.  Lucy thought it was totally funny that I was lost.  She told Ben all about it.

The boys had hung out at home for most of the morning and early afternoon.  Jim had a funeral to attend. Diana even had an appointment and so one of our great friends, Leanne, came over to watch the boys during that time.  Although I haven't seen her since, I do believe that Leanne survived.  I sure hope so.  :)  Jim came home mid-afternoon and took the boys to the graveside service of the funeral he had attended in the morning.  And then the boys got to see Monsters University.  They seemed to have enjoyed the movie.  We (the boys and the girls) ended up arriving at home at the same time.

Saturday we kind of just hung out, went to a park for a bit, then drove home.  They all wanted to stay, of course - Jonas was particularly MAD about leaving.  But as soon as we got home, all was well.  All was even better when Ben made it back from his temple trip.  It's good to be whole again.  :)

But we all had a wonderful time in Littleton!