Saturday, September 12, 2015

Abby's Baptism

    Today was a good day; a beautiful, sunny, perfect day for a baptism.  Abby was baptized this afternoon and it was such a happy occasion.  This evening she said, "I wish you got to have two baptisms, because I want to do this day again." I know the feeling.  Days like todays are the ones you want to pull out of your memory on the not so good days and just put on repeat.    

It seems like just yesterday we were posing in this exact spot for Carson's baptism, but Mason was the two year old and Elliot asleep in his baby carrier.  It's crazy how fast it goes!

With some sweet friends. 

With Great Grandpa E and Great Grandma Billye. 

With Great Grandma D.  We missed my grandpa, but felt lucky to be able to have two of Abby's great grandparents in attendance.  

With Grandpa and Grandma D. 

Grandma and Grandpa R. 

Cousins who were able to make it. 
With Mom and Dad (and of course my little attachment peeking out from behind). 

Oh how we love this girl and her sweet, strong spirit.  Before the baptism, every child being baptized that day was spotlighted (I had filled out a questionnaire beforehand).  Below is a little bit about our Abby...

Five things that you love about your child or make them unique:  
1.  Abby has three brothers and no sisters.   Although they may drive her crazy at times, when you ask her who her best friend is she always immediately answers her brothers. She is especially patient with her "baby" (two year old) brother; she takes the time to play with and read to him even when he is not the most cooperative. 
2.  Abby loves to do art.  Sometimes she will just disappear into her room and come out with a picture or a creation she made.
3.  Abby has a quiet determination and strength.  She can do anything she sets her mind to.
4.  She has a fun sense of humor and loves to laugh. 
5.  She wants to do what is right.  She has been looking forward to her baptism for months and is excited to take this step in her life. 

  What does your child love doing in their free time?
         Abby loves to do monkey bars, art, play Legos with her brothers, and play with her dolls. 

 Favorite Scripture: When I asked what her favorite scripture was, she said she likes all of them and that she couldn't choose a favorite.  
    Favorite Primary Song: I Love to See the Temple

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sunriver (Thursday-Saturday)

Thursday:  Thursday morning we headed to the High Dessert Museum that had animals native to the area and the history of the high desert.  I love museums, so I knew it would be an enjoyable morning, but I think it exceeded everyones expectations.  There was something for every age and the time passed quickly.  

My little pioneers. 
No, Mason is not wearing a bonnet.  It's a hip do rag sort of thing (all the rage in the mid 1800s).  It has nothing to do with the fact that there were no more hats and he was the one most easily persuaded to not wear one.  
Grandma and Grandpa.

Practicing their penmanship on a chalkboard. 

     Right in the middle of the museum they had a cool playground with an eagles nest, fake rocks, and everything you need to pretend like you are a desert animals.  The kids loved it.

This exhibit taught about forest fires; Mason and Elliot pretended to be firefighters and put out the fires they saw in pictures. 

There were several outdoor exhibits including a little interactive farm where people were dressed up like pioneers and answered questions about what it was like to live on a farm in the 1800s.
There was a cabin that was a replica of a cabin that a family of seven lived in.  This was the parents' bed and then all five kids slept in a little loft area.  The whole thing was probably about 200 square feet.  I kept trying to picture the six of us living in it.
I wonder how long it would take before doing these chores for real would lose their novelty...I'm guessing about twenty minutes. 

    We also watched a reptile exhibit where we got to learn about and touch a snake and a turtle.  After the turtle was pulled out of the first tub, Elliot pointed to the next one and kept insisting that a tiger was going to come out of that one. 

      After booking our trip, we saw that the weekend we were leaving is a big sports festival weekend with several different races.  The adult races didn't work with our schedule (they were on Saturday and we had to be checked out that morning), but we were excited to see that there was a kids mini triathlon for ages 3-12 so we signed the three big kids up.
     The race was called the "Splash, Pedal, and Dash and consisted of a little water obstacle course, a short bike ride (1/2 mile for the younger ages, slightly longer for 10 and up), and a half mile run.  
     The race was in the late afternoon, so we biked down to the village in the morning to get packets, tshirts, numbers, etc.  The village was packed with vendors, samples, people, and free activities to do.   Music was being piped throughout and it was the perfect set up for a fun family morning.  Except for the heat.  It was in the high 90s and we were dying. We got the kids their race stuff, half heartedly looked at some of the vendor booths, and discovered free, not crowded bouncy houses.  The kids tore off their sandals and the little boys both started crying the moment their feet touched the surface of the bounce toys.  As I comforted a crying Elliot, I noticed I wasn't the only parent carrying a crying child away from the toys and realized why the toys were almost empty.  We bought everyone a snow cone and crowded into a spot of shade to eat them, and bought enough tickets for the big kids to do the bumper cars and the boys to ride a little train around the village and everyone was much happier (until we had to get back on the bikes and ride in the heat...)
     After some down time at the house, we headed back to the village for the race.  When we got to the starting area, we found that instead of meeting outside, a building was allowing all the kids and parents to wait in an air conditioned conference room instead because of the high temperatures.  There was some drama with our children when they had to separated into age order (Abby doesn't always love new situations and wants to know what to expect at all times), but we managed to get everyone where they needed to be.  Parents were allowed to help with the 3-4 year olds so Mike stayed with Mason and Elliot and I went to find a place on the course to watch (Grandpa and Grandma Ricks had found shade spots at the finish line).
     It was so much fun watching my kiddos run and they all said it was one of their favorite parts of the trip.  They got medals at the end and there was a whole post race area with water misting and free drinks for the participants.  When I told Mason how proud I was of him (he biked hard and  ran the whole half mile) he hesitantly told me, "Mommy, I only did it because I wanted the medal at the end." I think he thought I was disappointed that he didn't love the actual racing part.  Buddy, most adults are out there racing for the "medal" (or the feeling at the end of the race) also.  

Mason was the only child allowed to have a parent with him, yet he was the least nervous of the three.  He has his things that he is stubborn about, but I love his laid back attitude about a lot of life.  


 Abby (on left) getting ready to start.
 Mason warming up.

    The race ended half a mile from the water park and we were SO ready to jump in.  Unfortunately just as we got there, they closed it down because there was a danger of thunder and lightening storms.  We were disappointed and decided to stick around for a little while.  After about twenty minutes, they allowed those who had stayed in the indoor pool (the outdoor one never opened up again that day) and we swam for a little while before heading back to the house where Mike proceeded to bbq in the pouring down rain which was soon followed by thunder and lightening.  It was fun to be indoors watching the storm and it cooled everything off which was nice. 

 They were so excited about these medals.

     Saturday it was time to pack up and go home.  We snapped a couple of pictures, said goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa and then hit up the village for a little bit to get some lunch and enjoy the festivities without the heat of the previous day (everyone had a much better time of the bouncy toys this time around).
      We stopped in Portland again and had dinner with the Stokers and arrived home late Saturday night.  We were sad to see the week end, but feel blessed to have had such an enjoyable time together and look forward to going again next year. 

 Despite how he looks in this picture, Elliot did a great job the week we were there.

     While we were on the hike, Mason and Carson were playing a game where they collected "chi" (from a Lego cartoon they watch) for energy.  The chi were pine cones which Mason carried in his sun hat. He was running all over the trail collecting the best and the biggest ones.  When we were packing up the car, Mike found the hat with the pine cones still inside and got a little emotional and had to snap a picture.  It may sound silly, but something about those pine cones stuffed in a sun hat captured perfectly the stage our little boy is at.  We know that in a year, he (and all the kids) will be older and perhaps not wanting to run around with pine cones in a sunhat and that can make a parent's heart a little sad.Of all the myriad feelings and emotions that accompanying being a parent, bittersweet has to be one of the most common.  Sometimes I wish I could just hit the pause button for a little bit and enjoy where we are for a little longer before moving onto the next stage. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Oregon/Sunriver Trip

    We kickstarted the summer with a week long trip to Oregon where we saw cousins in Portland and went to Sunriver.  This is the third year in a row we have went to Sunriver and it is becoming a very much anticipated family tradition.  
     Saturday:  Our goal was to make it out of the house by 7:30 Saturday morning and so when we were on the road at 7:45 so we pretty proud of ourselves.  Mike and I had everything ready to go and then woke up the kids and gave them water bottles/sippy cups and pop tarts in the car.  The kids were thrilled with the treat of pop tarts, but the three older ones quickly discovered that the pictures of the frosting covered pastries on the bright boxes look a lot more yummy that then actually are. Elliot, however, said “Ohh cookie!” and thought it was pretty delicious. 
       We met up with the Stokers in Portland about 10:30.  We spent some time on the waterfront and the highlight was definitely when each family rented the six person bike.  We took it on a two mile loop, which took close to an hour (with a little drink break) to complete.  Those things are a beast to pedal!  The only kid out of the eight that was big enough to reach the pedals was Carson so basically the adults were doing all the work.  It was a beautiful day and everyone really enjoyed it though. 
       We then walked down the waterfront to a Saturday market to get some lunch.  This sounded like a fun, “cityish” thing to do, but it was a little crazy.  Abby had twisted her ankle a couple days before and was supposed to be taking it easy so she was in the stroller while Mason took his time and Elliot kept wiggling out of our arms trying to look at the geese and boats (which is great and part of the experience and the joy of being two, but there was a lot of geese, buoys, and boats and it was a mile long stretch and we were hungry…)  Isn't it funny what a little time can do for your perspective? As I typed that I remember how we were all hot and hungry and the mile long walk seemed forever, but now that I am not hot and hungry, that memory of Elliot's face lighting up and pulling me to see everything is precious.  "Mama! MAMA! Yook! Quack Quacks!" and then pulling me towards the water, "Mama! Yook a boat! Mama! A school bus boat!" (it was a yellow boat).  Although it can take forever to do things with a two year old, I am sure treasuring this sweet boy and then fun stage he is at.  
      The food stands were jam packed and all the yummy food had 15 minute plus lines, so after pushing through the crowds, securing food for eight kiddos and finding that literally the only place to sit was in little corner next to the recycling bins with a couple chairs to sit on (while the rest of us stood, sat on the ground, or in Carson's case sat on top of the recycling bin much to my dismay), adult food was basically chose by which line was the shortest.  It wasn’t the tastiest lunch, but it was an adventure. 
       After lunch, we went to a quiet park and let the kids play for a little bit before heading back on the road. 
       The kids did a great job in the car (I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that all normal limits on screen times are absolved and we basically let them morph into technology junkies when we travel :). We stopped in Bend to load up on groceries for the week and finally pulled into Sunriver about 8:00.
 Mason and Elliot ready to go.
 The big kids in the back.  Carson was a big help pedaling.

 Our sweet girl.  Abby twisted her ankle Wednesday night and we were worried that it would affect her vacation, but this was really the only day that we had to push her in a stroller/carry her a little bit.  It felt a little better every day and by Monday her limp was gone.  We have had our share of injuries this year and we were all so grateful that it was only a sprain (when we took her into the doctor before leaving, I was so worried she would be sent home in boot).

 Cousins are the best.

I love this picture. 

       The only picture I snapped Sunday was of Abby with a puzzle we did in the afternoon.

     Monday:  Monday the kids were dying to go to the SHARC (a little water park within the community).  Mike and I both did a little run in the morning and then we got ready and headed to the SHARC.  They have a huge sledding hill outside of the water park that you can go down on tubes  that we went down first a couple of times.  You have to be four to go on it, so Elliot didn’t qualify and he was heartbroken.  We tried to placate him by pulling him around on a tub on the grass at the bottom of the hill, but this just made him scream louder.  Eventually, Mike took him to a nearby playground where the older kids and I met them when we were done sledding and we all had a snack lunch together before heading into the park.  It’s not a huge water park, but it is perfect size for our family.  There is a big outdoor and indoor swimming pool, a lazy river, two bigger water slides (one tube, one single rider), a wading pool, a sand area, and a little water slide for kids under 48 inches.  Elliot fell in love with this little water slide.  Years ago, I dropped our brand new camera in water and have since been hesitant to take pictures near water, so I have no pictorial evidence to capture this obsession, but I hope to never forget it.  Our little boy, in this puddle jumper climbing up the short staircase and then sitting down at the top of the slide.   He would wait a minute giggling at the top and then slide down to Mike or I’s waiting arms.  Mike had him that first day and he would let him drop into the water and then scoop him up.  Elliot would surface, dripping wet and with a smile ear to ear.  Almost before he could even wipe the water from his eyes, he would say “again, again.” Mike said he must have went thirty times in a row that first day.  The big kids lasted a couple of hours in the water, but the little boys were done and shivering not long after Elliot’s sliding ended.  This is where the big sand area came in handy.  It was basically a huge sand box with toys and little pumps with water.  Every day the little boys would end there water park time here warming up in the sand, with Mason building and Elliot making “food” for whatever grown up was watching them that day.

        After swimming, we headed back to the house and got changed and then headed to Bend to go out to eat.  Mike is in love with Bend and would probably move there if there was a job for him and his wife was willing (it is beautiful, but it is too far from family for me and I’m not a fan of extreme temperatures).  We ate at a Red Robin on the river and as far as atmosphere goes, it was the best Red Robin we have ever ate at.  We ate outside literally feet away from a path that went along the river.   Elliot was good, but after a busy, napless afternoon he was a little restless and cranky.  Mike and I took turns walking him along the river which kept him happy. 
      After dinner, we all walked down the riverfront and over a cool bridge.  It seemed like the whole city was out walking, running, bike riding, inner tubing, paddle boarding, or rafting.  It was a beautiful night and we enjoyed just walking around with no schedule to worry about.  It was glorious.  We stopped at a couple of shops and Mike got some new biking gloves and we let the kids pick out some candy from a candy shop that was basically a child’s dream come true.
       When we got back, Elliot went to bed and the three older kids hit the hot tub.  

Rock climbing. 
The Deschutes River. 

Elliot would not get out of this rocking chair camping chair we found.  Every time one of the other kids wanted to try it we would scream, "No! Mine!" 

While walking around REI, we found a kit called a "Carson Kit Adventure Pack" so of course we had to get a picture of it with our Carson.  He's actually not trying to look mad in this picture, he's going for the tough look.  Watching this oldest baby of mine transition from childhood to tweenhood (is that a word?) is very bittersweet for my mama heart.  We sure love him and are enjoying seeing the person he is becoming (strong opinions and all).

Below are our attempts to get a family selfie (which I suppose if it has six people in it would not technically be a selfie, so this our family's attempt to get all six of us to fit in the screen while Mike holds the phone as far away from his body as he can).

 We finally got all of our faces in it!

     Tuesday:  Although it is beautiful, the main reason Mike wants to live in Bend is because it has world class mountain biking.  He tried out some trails last year and loved them and was anxious to go again.  Tuesday morning, we headed back to Bend and while Mike enjoyed the trails, the kids and I went to see “Inside Out.”  It was a really cute movie and what was the most exciting about it was that it was me taking ALL FOUR of my kids to a movie by myself!  This is a huge milestone. The thought that I can take all of my kiddos to a movie or that we could go to a family movie is incredibly liberating and exciting! We don’t even go to very many movies, but the point is that now we can.  This is exciting stuff here.

      Elliot sat through most of the movie in his own seat and then with me for the last 15 or so minutes.  He loved it and did talk loudly a few times, but considering it was 11:00 in the morning and the only other people in the theatre also had children it was fine. 
       After the movie, we headed back to the house where Elliot took a nap and the big kids played around outside of the house.  After naps, it was time for the SHARC where we repeated the fun from the day before.  Basically, every day at the SHARC Elliot would go down the baby slide while Mason swam around (with his puddle jumper) and an adult took the big kids on water slides.  At some point, we would all end up in the lazy river which was Mason’s favorite.  He didn’t ever want to get on a tube, but simply let the water carry him around and around while he floated in his puddle jumper.  When the little boys were cold, one of us would take them to play in the sand while the other stayed with the big kids until we got hungry and then we would drag all of the children away from the park home from dinner. 
      We had told the big kids they could stay up late Tuesday night, so after getting Mason and Elliot to bed, I took them on a bike ride.  We went six or seven miles and it was a lot of fun.  I often feel pulled in so many different directions with my kids and worry that I am never giving any of them all the time/attention that they need.  I especially feel this way with the older ones sometimes, since they are at school and the younger ones (especially E) can be so demanding and time consuming.  I always treasure the chance to spend time one on one with any of my kiddos and although this bike ride was actually 2 on 1 it was a lot of fun to just ride and talk and not worry about any bike trailers or younger kids.  When we got back, Mike and I and the two of them got in the hot tub and then we let them stay up and watch a House Hunting show that we found on HGTV.  They loved staying up with and we loved having the time with them. 

My big guy at the movies.

       Wednesday morning we told the kids to put on their swimming suits, shorts, and good shoes to go on a hike in.  We had heard of these waterfalls that you could slide down.  There is a group that does mountain bike tours and they stop and the patrons slide on them.  We had heard from more than one person, however, that you did not need to pay for these tours (and Elliot was too young to do the biking anyways ) and that there was a campground that you could park at and hike to a couple of the falls.  Both Mike and I scoured the internet and found very little information other than the bike tour stuff.   We did find the name of the campground and some general direction, so we set off on a adventure.  We parked by what looked like the trail described in a blog we found of somebody who had found these elusive waterfall slides without the biking tour.   
      We started the hike excited and happy.  The longer we walked, the hotter it got, the more the kids whined and the less sure of ourselves we became.  We turned back after about 1.5 miles (making it a 3 mile round trip hike) and later ran into some people who said it was about two miles up.  The way back was a little hard as Elliot screamed in the backpack and we convinced the older kids that just the hike was a fun way to spend the morning.  We did play in a creek at the campsite before leaving which cooled and cheered everybody.
       We continued driving to a look out point which was 7,900 feet about sea level.  It was one the windy, rocky, no guardrail road on the way up that we discovered that Carson has a real fear of heights.  He had to actually close his eyes.  While Mike focused on the road and I tried to talk Carson through this fear I didn't even really know he had, Mason's little voice piped up.
      "Hmm, well I know what would happen if our car fell off the cliff.  We'd die." And then he calmly continued looking out the window.  This did nothing to help calm Carson.   Even with the bumpy drive and the upset brother, Elliot fell asleep so all the pictures we got at top don't include our little guy. 

Mason has a reputation in our family for being a bit of a dawdler, but he did awesome on this hike.  Mike was asking him about this recent speed he has acquired and Mason responded, "I found my walking legs and I just snapped them on." 

There are two possible captions to the picture.  
1:  Happy family standing in front of amazing view (who just happen to have their swim suits on complete with goggles around their necks in case they feel like cliff jumping into the glacially cold lake in the background).  
2:  Parents who promised natural waterfall/waterslide hike and swimming, over an hour hike that didn't deliver that promise, a tired two year old, disappointed older kids,  a twenty minute drive up a windy hill to snap a quick picture,  and then finally getting to go swimming at the pool five minutes away from the house where we started.  

Proof that Elliot was with us on the peak also. 

That evening Mike's parents arrived to spend a couple of days with us.  Even though our day didn't go exactly as planned and we had some rough moments, it was still fun.  The kids pulled themselves together pretty well and everybody ended the day on good notes.  Although when you end a day with grandparents, a water park, hot tubbing, and ice cream on a deck past bedtime is there really any way to not end it on a good note?