Sunday, December 31, 2017

Utah Vacation (Catch Up Post)

I keep coming back to this picture. Every time I look at it I feel a strange collision of past and present and future all tied up into one big feeling. That tree up there is my parents' tree. And while it wasn't actually the one that we had in our home during my own childhood it somehow feels like the one because it was still set up and decorated by my parents' loving hands; it holds their hearts and it stands in their home and because of that it brings wonderful memories of my childhood straight to the surface. Memories of being home for Christmas. 

And in front of the tree from the past, my children are captured sitting in the present, and I can see that in the future they too will have those memories of home. But of my home. And that is a beautiful thought. 

Right after Christmas this year, we packed everyone and everything up and drove to Utah to spend much of the rest of our vacation with our families.

It's a fun thing to do because Utah not only has our families, it also has snow. And where there is snow, there are snowmen.

And there are snowball fights.

And Throw Each Other In The Snow fights.

(Which, let's be honest, aren't really fights when it's Dad pulling you into the snow. Dads are strong.)

I'm guessing one of my kids' favorite memories as they get older will be of Poppy pulling them behind his four wheeler through the snow on a bouncy tire.

He's gentle and careful with them, and somehow knows just the right speed to give them a thrill and keep them safe.

And then he ramps up the intensity with the adults and we find ourselves flying off the tubes around the corners and banging into fences.

This year, as I sailed through the air into a rather unforgiving fence post, it felt for a brief moment like I was back out on the family boat as a child. My dad was my favorite boat driver, mostly because he was crazy. I'd grip the fabric handles of the tube with all of my strength, I'd grit my teeth and resolve again that this time I'd stay on the tube. But, inevitably, I'd catch the wave my dad created himself and I'd fly through the air, skipping across the water on my life vest like a smooth pebble as the tube sailed away from me.

It felt like that just before I hit the fence post.

Then, admittedly, hitting the fence post felt a bit different.

But the laughter was the same.

Dani was fun to watch in the snow. She felt delighted by all of the excitement of it.

Snow hats! Snow coats! Gloves! Boots! And pants that crinkled when you walked.

Miles wasn't quite as delighted at the newness of it all because, well, it wasn't new for him, but he was just as delighted at the fun. Here he is decked out in his gear, popping that perfect, freckled nose out of his marshmallow coat.

One evening we headed over to the Midway Ice Skating rink to dust off our ice skating skills.

Of which we have many. 

Actually, no, we really don't have ice skating skills unless you count 'not falling' as a skill. I'm pretty good at that one.

Another day we went up to Malad, ID to see Great Grandpa Alder. His health is not great, so we let the kids visit inside for just a little while, and then kicked them all outside. Great Grandpa enjoyed watching us play from his window, and the snowman the kids built in his yard kept him happy and accompanied for days and days after we left.

Dani was a natural in the art of snowman making.

Most of the pictures I have of this snowman building process include Timothy in some form.  And, granted, he did help, but mostly it was Dani and Miles who crafted him. They worked together and laughed and laughed with each other. Miles has such a soft spot for Dani in his little heart.

McKenzie and Carson decided they'd rather use their skills to make a snow fort, which they did.

A cat fort, turns out. Or maybe a ghost fort? Well, anyway, it was quite creative and a very fancy fort, but I'm not sure it would be a good protective fort with those giant holes in it.

Towards the end of our stay in Malad, Dani asked if I could please, please, please take some pictures of her in the snow?

And with her snowman.

While Timothy entertained himself on the swing.

When it was time for us to leave, we traveled back to Grandma and Grandpa's house and shortly thereafter I found Eliza snuggled up in Grandpa's lap with a story. She didn't stay there very long because an eight month old always has more important things to do, but it was a cute moment while it lasted.

Another fun moment while it lasted was this one, the one when many of my best high school friends got together to visit and catch up on each others' lives. 

All these pictured here are living in Utah, so we try to get together around the holidays when I'm in town. I love these people. They were good friends for me then and they're good people now.

Next up on our list of to-do's, bowling with the Alders.

Timothy felt quite accomplished having knocked so many pins down through the course of his game. If only we could all have used that giant ball-director thing he owes most of his points to.

Or, at least if only I could have used that giant ball-director thing. I'm a terrible bowler.

I was much better at walking around Temple Square looking at all the beautiful lights and talking to Dani about what it all meant to me.

The other kids were too busy running and exploring to sit and listen or talk, but Dani wanted to hear everything. She always wants to hear everything. She is a listener, and she loves to hear about what makes those around her behave in the ways that they do. And the temple and what it represents is probably the biggest influencer in my life when it comes to doing what I do.

It was special for me to be able to share it with her.

Eventually the very last day of 2017 arrived and we gave it a celebration, of course. My parents brought out the pinata and the kids all took their best shots.

Dani found the pinata to be much better at taking shots at her rather than she at it.

Nana found she was best at entertaining little Eliza and keeping her away from the swinging bat.

Timothy found a hat as the pinata progressed in its demise.

And Brian found the inner strength needed to bust the whole thing open. To the childrens' delight.

Happy New Year!

Scrambled Thoughts XXVIII (Catch Up Post)

1. How come when they're nervous it makes me nervous? 

Miles competed in his very first swim meet and I'm pretty sure he felt like he was going to vomit all over the place before he jumped into that pool.

But you know what? He did it anyway.

He swam his little heart out and I was so dang proud!

2) Brandy is the sparkliest!

Another birthday celebration down in the books. This time for Brandy. She's been going through a terribly tough time with a divorce and wanted a quieter night of love and friendship. So we took her to Charlies to get her something sparkly, to a restaurant named The Sparklings,

and to the sparkly drive through Christmas lights show at the race track.

It was a good evening and we sure love our Brandy.

3. Everyone loves McKenzie 

She was invited by her teachers to attend a leadership conference in California where she went and had fabulous time. I love that her teachers are seeing what I know her to be... she is a leader through and through. When they got back we had a special luncheon with the kids who went and they all got to thank the Rotary Club for sponsoring their trip. She is amazing.

4. Also amazing, Carson.

Look at that bright smile up there! He is such a good kid and won a Cobra Kid award for being an outstanding leader. I love to see him shine - and I love that his teachers are seeing him, too.

5. Aaaaaand he won a giant stocking.

On pajama day, no less.  Honestly it was full of a bunch of junk, but the big teddy bear down at the bottom seemed to be a hit. *shrug*

6. You can call us international

Because Miles and I had a terrific international lunch with the third graders. He brought Brazilian brigadeiros and they were a smashing hit. Of course, sweetened condensed milk with chocolate in them? How could they not be a favorite?

7. And now you can REALLY call us international.

Because sitting around our dinner table are kids from Colombia, Japan, Italy, Spain, Norway, Brazil, and America, all enjoying burgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill, and speaking English to each other in their various accents. It was one of the best nights... I love that Dani has thrown us into this world.

Foreign exchange students rock!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Day (Catch Up Post)

Anyone else feel like this on Christmas morning?

Remember those years when waking up on Christmas morning was a delight? And you couldn't sleep in even when you tried?

I remember one Christmas morning I woke at 3am and started jumping on the beds. I woke all of my siblings up (who were sleeping in the same room as I was), and we partied hard until my mom came into the room haggard and upset that we were not only awake, but that we were making so much noise. She told us to go back to sleep, and we tried. But it was CHRISTMAS MORNING!

That didn't really happen for me this year.

It might have had something to do with the trampoline that we had to set up in the middle of the night, that we set up wrong the first time, so had to take it all apart and set it up again, keeping Brian and I awake far later than we were hoping for. But, thankfully, the night was warm and the stars were out and the whole night felt wonderful.

It was just the morning, right when I opened my eyes and realized that I had to get out of bed that felt a little... less-than-wonderful.

But then I saw these lovely faces and decided that I was excited about Christmas after all.

They were very good and patient about waiting until I sprayed some water on my hair to calm the bedhead, and then they raced downstairs and started tearing into their stockings.


At one point, farther into the Christmas morning than I would have expected, McKenzie looked through the windows and spotted the trampoline that Nana and Poppy had given to them this Christmas. All the sudden there was a mad dash outside with squeals of delight.

And they played and played and played before remembering that there were still other presents to be opened.

So we went back inside to finish, and oh how I wish I'd been sitting at a different angle to capture this picture below - just look at Carson's face as he discovered that Santa brought a hover board in response to his request for one!

We spent the rest of the day in our pajamas, playing with all the new toys and spending time together. This is one of my new favorite pictures of Miles and Brian ever.

Surprisingly, there weren't very many arguments over the hover board. They all shared so well and gave each other plenty of turns. I was so proud of them. McKenzie picked it up really fast, even though she is so tall. She figured out that it was easier for her to bend down low for a little while, but eventually she was zipping around on that thing like it was no big deal.

Eventually Eliza woke up and wanted to join the party. She has been fighting with a cold lately, so she's been a bit grumpy. But she still shared her smiles and love through it all.

Carson has the softest spot in his little heart for that baby and spent a lot of time playing on the trampoline with her.

He also spent a lot of time up in the air without her.

And my little Timothy... what a sweetheart - he looks at me with those eyes and I can't help but melt.

Dani felt a little down, which was to be expected since she was so far away from family. But the kids surrounded her with love and she powered through it and kept looking at all the blessings in her life.

And Miles! Oh my goodness his little toothless smile just kills me!

Whenever he feels full of joy and happiness I just eat it up.

Another Christmas success full of all the things I love most in this life.