Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig!

Well, we're home! The way home was a blur! We left California last Thursday morning and headed to Utah. Michael had a little run-in with the law in Nevada; they seem to think that 85 in a 70 is too fast. In Utah we spent a quick night with my brother and his family. It happened to be Whitney's birthday so it was fun to see my baby sister on the day she turned 25!

Driving from Utah to Colorado we took a detour to drive through Arches National Park. Wow! Are those huge red rocks amazing and beautiful or what? In Colorado we stopped for two nights to stay with Michael's sister, Flora, and her husband who live in the beautiful mountains SW of Denver. We also got to quickly visit Michael's brother, Dan, and his family (who were unable to attend the reunion) as well as some other relatives of Michael's.

After church Sunday morning we hit the trail to Iowa; we didn't get in to Iowa City until midnight. After a night's sleep we were on the road again to Ohio. Monday was the hardest and longest day of the trip for me. Two driving days in a row + no time in between for the kids to get their wiggles out = one testy mom. Getting to Ohio early in the evening was a nice treat. We let the kids run through the hose and just go crazy outside before putting them to bed.

To celebrate his 6th birthday, our kids' second cousin, Logan, wanted to take our kids to Build-A-Bear. We spent this morning playing outside until it was time to go for Logan's party. My kids had never been to Build-A-Bear and were instantly enamored with the store. They all hugged their toys the whole six hour drive home and are in their bed with them now as I type this.

It does feel quite good to be in my own home. I am so glad we took this trip an
d saw so many loved ones, but there really is no place like home.

Here's a brief overview of our vacation: Our Trip By The Numbers

Days on vacation: 26

Miles driven: 7126.8

Days spent driving: 11

States driven through: 13

States slept in: 6

License plates of different states seen: 46

Trips to urgent care: 2

Books on tape listened to in car: 7

DVD's watched in car: 29

Hubcaps lost: 1

Pounds of M&M's consumed in car: 9

Speeding tickets given: 1

Photographs taken: 446

Memories made: countless

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Well, we did it. We drove to California. From Maryland. With four young children. And honestly, it wasn't bad. Mackenna did cry for about 10-15 minutes solid in the car for the first time around Lake Tahoe, but all things considered, that's not bad, is it? Overall, this trip has been surprisingly pleasant.

My best friend from my BYU days, Melissa, lives just north of Sacramento. We've made sure to see each other every year or two since we've both left Utah and this time the ball was in my court. When I was planning the drive to Boise and saw on the map how close we'd be, I thought this would be a great way to get our whole families together. (The last time my whole family went out to California to visit her was when Mason was a baby; the last time she brought her entire family out east was when Maia was a baby.) She kept telling me I was crazy and her husband, Brad, kept waiting for us to call and cancel the last leg of our trip. Of course, we didn't cancel and happily I can report that the extra day in the car was well worth it.

Sunday night we enjoyed some delicious grilled chicken and then got the kids in bed. Maia and Jessie slept out in Jessie's playhouse; those two were inseparable! I was more than a little surprised that Maia was willing to sleep so far away from the main house, but she quite enjoyed it. She and Jessie spent quite a bit of time out at the play house for the three full days we were there. They totally organized all the toys, swept the floors and did other housework characteristic of “Cleaning Talent Fairies.” When they weren't wearing their wings themselves, they were playing with fairy figurines or fairy dolls. Two peas in a pod, just like their mothers! Melissa and I could watch them play all day.

Monday morning Melissa took us to an old granite quarry where the kids ran from marker to maker discovering treasures like a century plant and an abandoned well.

It was quite hot outside so from there we went to a splash park for the kids to cool off. After the playing in the water, we went to lunch where Michael had his first In-N-Out burger (“very fresh!”). My kids ate those fries endlessly; I've never seen them consume anything like that!

Monday night we loaded up Melissa and Brad's boat and took it out on Folsom Lake. Since their boat only holds seven, we had to make two trips out from the dock. Brad and I took some kids out for the first trip. Brad chose to enter a little secluded inlet to drop off me and the kids before returning to pick up Michael, Melissa and the rest of the kids. Well, when we entered the little cove I said, “It looks like we're interrupting something.” I could see a mass up on the hill a little ways away. Brad looked up and laughingly said, “You're right!” Soon the mass started to disentangle and we could discern two separate bodies (one dismounting the other!). Anyway, that is probably already more detail than anyone needs to know; suffice it to say that that little area will always be referred to by us as “Coitus Cove.” After the lovebirds left and our entire group was reunited we took turns going out to be pulled by the boat on an inner tube. To my amazement, Maia actually tried it; however, she promptly fell off the tube and announced that she would never do anything like that ever again. Mason did it and liked it. Michael and I also took turns. I must take a moment to say that I had a rougher ride than Michael and at one point even got a couple feet of air—and still held on! OK, I'm done being a braggart now.

After we got home from our boating expedition we put the kids to bed and had a Harry Potter reading fest. Michael had finished Sunday night but Mel, Brad, Jared and I were still plowing through. Anytime anyone started to say anything (or gasp and make a face) about the book, I quickly stopped them by chiding, “You've said too much!” It quickly became our catch phrase until I (the last one) finally finished the novel.

Tuesday morning we had to scratch our original plans because all the kids slept in too late! I think three weeks on the road is finally getting to my kids. Instead, we imposed on Melissa' s dear friend Robin and used her pool for an hour or so. My little Teensy was giddy to see the diving board and quickly went from jumping feet-first to diving to doing front flips off the board. She is a maniac in the water, that one. I don't know how she'll go back to the pool behind our house with no diving board!

After coming home for the little ones' naps, we got a couple of babysitters to watch the seven kids while the four adults went to the movies to see Hairspray. I quite liked seeing a good musical and laughed at the hilarity of John Travolta and Christopher Watkins singing a love duet. I'll be singing “Good Morning, Baltimore” for a long time.

After the movies we ran home to inhale some delicious roast beast and potatoes (my smart Mel had put them in the crock pot that morning) before loading up all the kids and heading to the ward Pioneer Day activity. Melissa and I allowed our husbands the pleasure of finishing the sawing job we started on a log. Maia, Mason, and Teensy all loved getting rides in a handcart (Kenna's screaming indicated she was meant to be born in this century). Mackenna liked walking around watering the grass and drinking the homemade rootbeer. Teensy also got rag curls put in her hair by some sweet woman who couldn't believe we'd driven the whole way from Maryland. The activity was at their stake park which had huge rocks all around. The kids climbed on those boulders until well past nightfall.

Wednesday we took the kids to Pump It Up! Then we came home for lunch and naps. Melissa and I made a quiet exit while my dear Michael watched the kids. We took my car through a car wash (boy, did it need it!) and then to get an oil change (ditto!). Right across the street from the car place was a strip mall with a little place called Nails! You can clearly see how we were the victims in this tale. We walked across the street and passed the time waiting for the car by getting pedicures. We let those chairs massage our backs while the pedicurists made-over our feet as we read People magazines. I won't lie: it was heavenly.

After our pedis, we picked up the car and headed home to rejoin Michael and the kids. Michael, my own personal Robin Hood, had had the clever idea of making his own bow and arrow set. He walked all over Mel and Brad's property and found the perfect stick for the bow. He started to carve it and the knife slipped. When Melissa and I got home we saw the gash on his hand and insisted that he take a trip to urgent care. This time Mel got stuck with kid duty and I went with Michael. The people at the urgent care facility were very kind and gave Michael the required five stitches to close the wound and a tetanus booster for good measure. Never a dull moment on this vacation, let me tell you!

For our final night in California we took the kids to a place called Incredible John's. It's like Chuck E. Cheese's but 100 times bigger with better food options and even small carnival-type rides in addition to the video games. At Brad's prompting, Michael tried the Spicy Peanut Butter Pizza (he said at first it tasted odd, but got more and more delicious with each bite), but I stuck with a Caesar salad and Hawaiian pizza. Marlee's favorite ride was The Frog Hopper; I think she went on it three or four times. Mason and Michael braved the bumper cars while I chased the more timid Maia and Mackenna.

I am so glad we spent the extra time in the car to go to California and visit our dear friends. Mason got to play Nintendo Game Cube a ton with Jared and Ryan. Marlee loved tagging along with Maia and Jessie wherever they went. Michael liked catching up with Brad and discussing the world of project management. I absolutely loved just being with my friend, laughing with her, watching Overboard and just visiting. It'll be hard trip home :(

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Family Reunion

Well, the whole reason we embarked on this great expedition across the country was to attend Michael's family reunion in Boise, Idaho. Mission accomplished. And what a genuinely fun mission it was!

But let me back up to our trip from Utah to Idaho. This would have been our shortest leg of the entire journey had we not opted to make a couple of extra stops en route. First, we wanted to take our kids to Temple Square in Salt Lake City. I think, despite their grumpiness from over-exhaustion, they really enjoyed seeing the sites. One funny moment occurred when I was trying to help Maia remember that she can ride escalators. Anyway, she really wanted to go in the basement of the Visitor's Center where her dad, Mason and Marlee had gone, but was too afraid to go down the escalator. (Side note: about a year ago we actually paid for some psychotherapy for her so she could overcome her anxieties—including riding escalators. After meeting with the psychologist, I took her to the mall where we practiced “The Relaxing Breath” and eventually conquered this fear by riding up and down escalators for a couple of hours.) Well, there was no way I wanted to go back to our too-afraid-to-ride-the-escalator days. I calmly reminded Maia that she could do it and then said, “Look, let's watch the rhythm of the steps as they come and then step on. One...two...three...step!” She remained frozen in place with a frustrated look on her face. “Mom, they move too fast! What do they think we are—cheetahs?” Ah, my sweet daughter. The good news is that she did eventually get on and ride down where there were no less than six smiling missionaries cheering at her success.

After temple square we stopped in a little town called Corinne, Utah to visit our old home teacher and his family. When Michael and I were newlyweds we were in a huge Provo ward where we felt like no one knew us and no one cared to...until we met our home teacher, Kurt. He and his wife were expecting their first baby around the same time as we were expecting Maia and we just bonded. Stopping by their house was the best pit stop of our whole trip. They have a farm with tortoises, ostriches, emus, pygmy goats, chickens, and a pig (I'm probably forgetting some animals, too). Mason was running around not knowing where to go next. I think he thought he was born into the wrong family. He loved all the animals and was in their pens most of the time. Marlee and Mackenna loved the tiny leopard tortoise most and, after spending the better part of an hour refusing to exit the car due to the presence of said animals, even Maia put a tentative finger on the tortoise's shell. Sweet Larissa wouldn't let us leave without giving us some new books on tape, an emu egg and and ostrich egg (which she opened with her power drill and emptied before our very eyes—that's one BIG egg). Anyway, it was great to see this fun family after so long.

The road in Idaho was plagued with multiple construction zones (shut down to one lane) and even a brush fire. Finally, we got to the Boise area and went straight to my friend Carmen and Brian's house. I lived with Carmen in the dorms my freshmen year (We met Brian lived there, too—we were all great friends. They started dating and now have the perfect Mormon love story). Anyway, Carm and I had our first babies three days apart so it was fun to see how big they are now! She and Brian look the same as they did when they were 18. We had a great barbecue with them and let all the kids get their wiggles out in the park right behind their house.

After the reunion with my freshmen friends, we went to the hotel to greet our family for the start of the family reunion. Michael and I chose not to stay in the hotel for the entire duration of the reunion because we had a free house offered to us just ten minutes away. Michael's mom offered up the extra bed in her room and Maia and Mason were thrilled to spend the next two nights in the hotel with Grandma Margaret. We took the little girls back to our house and got some shut-eye.

Thursday morning a bunch of us went to Zoo Boise. Michael's aunt had procured 60 free passes for the zoo (children 3 and under are free anyway) so a huge horde of us went together. It was a grand time to see all the little great-grandchildren running and playing and looking at the animals together. Highlights for us included Michael obtaining a porcupine's quill and walking through the butterfly garden.

After a quick lunch in downtown Boise we headed back to the hotel where I took Mackenna up to Margaret's room for a nap and Michael took the older three down to the pool with the rest of the crew. After nap time, Mackenna and I joined the merrymaking at the pool. Soon, it was dinnertime and the whole fam-damily went to a little Chinese restaurant around the corner from the hotel. To get the idea of how our family filled this restaurant you have to understand that Michael's mom is the second of eleven children. This reunion was for Michael's grandmother, her eleven children/spouses, their forty or fifty some-odd children and their spouses and their children. Did that make any sense? The point is...it's a lot of people (even when some couldn't come). So, we packed that restaurant and had a nice meal together.

Friday was Riding the River Day. Michael took Maia and Mason with countless relatives to go tubing down the Boise River. I am so proud of Maia and Mason for having the courage to try this new activity! They both returned with smiling faces and endless tales of splashing fights and “falling” into the river. I stayed back at the hotel with Esther, Jessica, Chuck and Marilyn on baby duty. Together, we watched all the little children deemed too young for the river expedition. Esther and I took some kids to the park for a minute, but we mostly hung out at the hotel and enjoyed a pizza lunch. After lunch, I took my girls and my niece, Savannah, back to Margaret's room for naps. It was so cute to watch Marlee and Savannah together; they are first cousins and only three months apart in age, but they rarely play together. At family dinners, they ignore each other most of the time. I don't get it because I always wished I had a cousin my same age to play with but they don't seem to care. OK, they are still pretty young. I'll get over it. My point is that I was so happy to see them playing together all morning and when we went down for naps they were in the same bed, laying on their sides facing each other and giggling. It was so cute!

Grandma Betty hosted an open house to show us all her cute house in Boise. She's got pictures of her descendants everywhere. It really shows how she treasures her family.

Michael attended a family meeting Friday evening while I took our kids back to the house and put them to bed. My childhood friend and daughter of the woman whose house we were staying in, Emily, came over to visit me for about a half hour. We grew up together with our moms as best friends so it was nice to sit and chat about our families.

When Michael came back from the family meeting, I had to wake myself up and go back to the hotel. Christy and Lori, a couple of Michael's cousins, and I had made a date to go buy the new Harry Potter together at midnight. We recruited two more cousins to join us: another named Michael, and my old college roommate Kimber (the gal who started it all for my Michael and me). The five of us set out on our quest. We searched for a Barnes and Nobles on the GPS and headed over. WOAH! The bookstore had already met is maximum capacity of 1200 and the parking lot was filled with shoulder-to-shoulder humans awaiting entrance. After deciding it just wouldn't be right to knock over some people with our car to snatch their books from them, we did another search on the GPS and looked up Wal-Mart. We were there in less than five minutes and greatly encouraged by a parking lot full of cars and not human beings in a queue. There was a twenty- or thirty-minute line and that's all. We laughed and joked while we waited for our turn to buy books. The beauty of the Wal-Mart book-buying excursion was that we were still able to see die-hards in costumes (our favorite was a Prof. Trelawney with giant glasses) but also buy Michael the new deodorant he so badly needed! It was a win-win!

Saturday we had a massive photography session at the Veteran's Memorial Park. Enter reunion t-shirts. Each child of Grandma Betty and that child's descendants had a t-shirt color; ours was “funshine yellow,” as I like to call it. We got all kinds of photos—grandkids, great-grandkids, families by color and then the giant group photo of all of us. I don't have a copy of that one yet since every one of us was actually in the photo. After the photos, we fought swarms of wasps to eat a nice picnic lunch. Then, we played silly games like a relay, egg toss and wacky hair-style competition. After several hours at the park we headed back to the hotel for some more family time poolside.

This time Michael took a turn at nap duty and I got to relax and chat at the pool with our fun relatives. I am so lucky to have so many great in-laws. Of course, I love that I get to see my fun friend/old roommate Kimber at any and all family reunions. You just can't beat marrying your dear friend's cousin for a guaranteed good time at any extended family gathering. Through my friendship with her, I knew Grandma Betty and various other aunts and cousins long before I met my Michael. I enjoyed my hours by the pool chatting with the many family members, especially my sisters-in-law. Each has such a uniquely pleasant personality. I managed to supervise the kids for about four hours and never once got thrown in the pool. Let me tell you, with this crowd that is quite an accomplishment.

After picking on picnic leftovers all day, we didn't feel the need in our guts to go to dinner, so we just got the kids out of the pool long enough for a twenty-minute break before heading to the YMCA. Our family had rented the entire pool area at the local YMCA for more water fun. And what fun it was! There was a very large kiddie pool with a little dragon water slide for the babies and toddlers. Then, there were two larger slides for the rest of us; one was very twirly and curvy and the other was a short, steep drop. I couldn't believe that Maia tried the steep one, but she did. Maia and Mason both spent the hour and a half in constant water slide mode. At first, Michael and I were taking turns watching the little girls, but when we learned we could take them on our laps we gave that a try. Both of them loved the slide (the steep one was off-limits for the littlest kids) and suckered both their parents and their Uncle Chris and Aunt Meredith to take them down repeatedly. It was a great finale activity for the whole family!

People started leaving early Sunday morning, but for those of us who stayed a little later, we had a nice family breakfast at the hotel. It was lovely. In our big family, there are just so many interesting and diverse people who have one important thing in common (other than their DNA): they know how to have fun! I look forward to the next reunion in 2012.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Rest of Utah

Sadly, my time and trip are both getting away from me and I am a over a week behind in chronicling our adventures.

Last Sunday we went to church with my brother Joel and his family. I got to go to Joel's Gospel Principles class. It was a wonderful lesson on prayer and the Spirit truly touched my heart as I watched my big brother bear testimony of the miracles prayer can perform. It was a wonderful lesson.

After church we came back for some more time with Whitney and Jared's family. Mason was sad to see Jared's boys leave later that afternoon, but they had to head back to Vegas. I'm so glad they made the effort to come and visit us for a day and a half.

After Jared's family pulled out, we loaded our kids in the car and headed up north to visit our friends Lori and Barton. We hadn't seen them for three years since they moved from Maryland. Their little boys are now huge and we wer
e thrilled to meet their two-month old daughter, Ally. She is a really doll. Lori even remembered Michael's favorite dessert (angel food cake with fresh strawberries and whipping cream) and had that waiting for us.

A side note on our first trip up I-15 in nine years: there are houses everywhere! It was so strange to see houses all over the point of the mountain. Everything is built up so much that you actually have to look for temples as you drive. Strange.

Anyway, Monday morning we went to a park in American Fork to meet my dear friend Amy and her three kids. What a treat! Alissia and Mason were best friends in preschool. Cead ("The Cead" as Teensy called him when they were little) has grown so much he was unrecognizable! Little Mina was only a few days old when she moved from Maryland so she's grown the most. It's always funny to see other people's kids. You always see your own so you don't get the dramatic effect of their growth, but when you see someone else's kids after a couple of years you can really see the passage of time. It was nice to sit and chat with Amy and watch the kids enjoy themselves at Discovery Park. I miss having Amy around to call me on a moment's notice and get together with the kids. What a fun friend she is.

Monday night for Family Night we (Joel's family and mine) went to Thanksgiving Point for a very fun activity put on by my very own baby sister, Whitney! It was called "Harry, Hagrid, and Hogwarts" and it was so FUN! All over the Gardens, there were stations set up centered around a Harry Potter theme for the kids to do little fun activities. My favorite was the wand-making station where we helped the kids stuff their wands with things like unicorn hair and phoenix feathers.

Oh---after the acivity was over, Michael and I got to ride all over the beautiful gardens on Segways. We now know how we want to spend some of our retirement money. We plan on being Gramps and Gram Segway! Those things are so fun.
Tuesday, we spend the morning at Thanksgiving Point again. This time we went to the dinosaur museum. Again, the kids really enjoyed the activity. Their favorite parts were playing with little dinosaurs in the sand and water and then going on a "dig" to unearth dinosaur bones.

While we were at Thanksgiving Point, Michael and I just had to go to the spot where we got engaged almost ten years ago. We used to go there for picnics often when we were dating and it was on one such picnic that Michael popped the question. Thanksgiving Point has grown quite a bit these past nine years, but we were happy that we could still revisit "our spot."

Tuesday evening, after a quick tour of BYU for our kids and a cougar-wear shopping spree in the bookstore, Joel watched the seven kids while Whitney, Kim, Michael and I went to Los Hermonos. Michael and I used to go there when we were engaged/newly married with our friends Melissa and Brad. It was always a fun treat to slurge and spend the $6 each to get our favorite meal. We always all got the Smothered Burrito. It still tastes the same! Actually, it was even better because we weren't spending our last $15 until payday to eat it! Michael also enjoyed drinking a non-alcoholic Sangria--
something he has not been able to find in all our years in Maryland. The four of us had a great time laughing and talking and stuffing ourselves sick.

While I did the clean-out-the-car and repack routine, Michael, Mason and Joel went on a long ride up in the mountains on the four-wheeler and motorcycle. They were gone so long I started to worry. Mason came home so happy to have just had a manly adventure with his dad and uncle.
(This picture is actually of Mason and my brother Jared on an earlier, much shorter four-wheeler run.)

Well, that is the end of our Utah time. There were plenty of tears when it was time to leave, both from our kids and their cousins. We tried to tell them we'll be back to spend one more night on our way home, but that didn't appease them. Idaho was calling, and it was time to hit the road for the next leg...The Family Reunion.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Up in the Mountains

Well, here we are in grand old Utah. On the way here, our kids had their first complaint about being in the car. It came from Mason and passed quickly enough; he merely observed that we have been in the car quite a bit. All complaints were forgotten when we reached my brother's house and they got to reunite with cousins!

We haven't seen my brother Joel's family for two and a half years so it's really
wonderful to see them again. Maia has just been in heaven with her cousins Courtney and Aubree. Courtney is just 5 1/2 months older than Maia; Aubree is 9 days older than Mason. Anyway, the three of them are doing make-up, playing Littlest Petshop, and pretending to be puppies and ponies.

Mason's biggest delight came when my brother Jared brought his crew up from Vegas. His oldest son, Cole, is just 8 1/2 hours younger than Mason and Mason also really gets along with Dylan, who is just 20 months younger.

Truth be told, Marlee keeps saying she wants to go back to Sydney's house. She misses having a little girl to play with. The big girls don't seem to want her around because she's so little and the cousins her age, Easton and Brock, are happy to have each other. I think I am making sound worse than it is. She's still been having fun, don't worry.

This afternoon we all loaded up in the cars and drove up Santaquin Canyon into the mountains for frolicking and a cookout. We had a great feast and the kids all played until they were filthy beyond description. We had a fabulous time in such a beautiful setting (I quite enjoy the aspens) and were extra happy to share this time with our friend Jamie. The kids were so excited to be reunited with their old babysitter and I was thrilled to see my sweet Laurel.

The three older girls pretended to gather and grind wheat to make bread on their "fire" while the boys all gathered wood for their own "fire."

We are looking forward to seeing a few other friends while we are here. I'll post on all that in a few days. In the meantime, know that it warmed my heart to see the "Y" on the mountain after nine years. I can't wait to take my kids to the BYU Bookstore and deck them out in cougarwear!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Colorado Leg

We got on the road a little behind schedule. We ended up having to wake up Maia, something never before needed in her 8+ years of life. Anyway, we hopped on I-80 West and were on our way. Again, I must state how impressed Michael and I are with how well our children are doing in the car. We did a pit stop while still in Iowa and then didn't stop again until a late lunch in the middle of Nebraska. Maia just wasn't eating her food. While this might be normal behavior for her when given average fare, it didn't seem quite right when she had before her a banquet of french fries and "ketchup on a bun" (her favorite vegetarian alternative at fast food joints). I asked her why she wasn't eating and she told me that it felt "weird" in her throat. I reflexively placed my hand on her forehead and felt immediate excess heat. Can this really be happening? Does Maia now have strep throat?

To make a long story short...YES! I gave her Motrin on the road and took her temp the minute we arrived at Stacey's; it was 101.9. More Motrin. By Tuesday morning when she woke up, it was 103.9 and we ran her to the Urgent Care where the rapid strep test was "very positive"--a direct quote from the doctor. We got started getting antibiotics in her a half hour later. She slept that whole first day we were here but is now feeling quite herself and is wondering why she still has to take the meds. I am so grateful that we were able to get a quick diagnosis and treatment. I wonder what ailment she's going to come down with in Utah--Lyme's disease?

Anyway, back to our fun visit here in Colorado. Tuesday morning was pretty much eaten up by breakfast, a doctor's visit and getting the Rx for Maia. The rest of the day was pleasantly passed by just playing. Mason pl
ayed countless games of dodge ball on the trampoline with Blake and Tanner; Marlee dressed in Sydney's clothes and the two of them painted nails, played Playdough and danced to princess music. We all went that evening to Blake's baseball game (with two doses of her antibiotics in her by then, Maia's fever was already broken) and then to Chic-Fil-A for dinner.

Yesterday was a great pool day. Stacey and Mike's neighborhood here has some really great pools. The one we went to yesterday had a diving board and a couple of water slides. I'm not sure if Mason was ever not in line for or going down the one slide. He really loved that. Teensy was enamored with the diving board--if she jumped off it once, she did it a dozen times. That girl is a maniac! Of course, Michael and I were in the 10 ft area at the end of the board treading water, just waiting for her to jump to us, but each time she jumped away from us! She loved it. Maia has always enjoyed the pool and tried a little of everything. Mackenna was really unhappy at first, but discovered the large baby pool and was happy as a clam to play there with her new friend Courtney.

After swimming, we came home for showers and an early dinner before heading out to Tanner's baseball game. Right after the game, Stacey and I went and picked up Ashley, a friend who was in the RS Presidency with us in the Laurel Ward like 6-7 years ago. Ironically, she lives about a mile from Stacey here now. The three of us went out for dessert at the Cheesecake Factory and then to a movie. It was so fun to sit and chat with these old friends. We reminisced about our old presidency meetings (and missed Jill who was our absent member) and they quizzed me about who is doing what in Maryland these days.

In eight years of friendship with Stacey, I think I've gotten two photos with her and her eyes are closed in both of them. I thought this trip would be a great time to get one where her eyes are actually open. Well, we had our server take a photo of us at the restaurant and let me tell you it was no small task. It took ten shots before we got one with Stacey's eyes open! By the end, the three of us were laughing so hard; tears were rolling down Stacey's face. I was talking to the waiter but still trying to smile at the same time and he clicked the last photo. I'll just have to love it because Stacey's eyes were finally open. There's gotta be a name for that kind of syndrome where your eyes shut so fast upon seeing a flash that it's almost impossible to photograph you with your eyes open. If there is such a thing, Stacey's a text book case!

This morning we loaded up the kids and went to a super fun museum called The Wildlife Experience. It was a great way to spend the morning. It was very kid-friendly and hands-on. We walked through exhibits on various animals and elements of nature. Before coming home we watched an Extreme movie about Beavers on a giant movie screen. I don't know which my kids enjoyed more: the movie on the big screen or the rarely-enjoyed treat of having popcorn and soda while they watched.

For our last night we went to Stacey and Mike's stake musical, 1856: The Musical. Maia was captivated by the pioneer story. The little ones were...monsters, but what do you expect?

It's just been wonderful to see our dear, dear friends. It feels like not a day has passed between us. I just wish Colorado were a little closer to Maryland.

Quotation of the Month

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.

-Jill Churchill