D.J.'s Christmas Party

Friday, D.J. had his class Christmas party. Maddy and I came to visit and help out when needed. They made candy trains (as pictured) and gingerbread men decked out with gooey gumdrops, frosting, m&m's, and red-hots. They played Candy-Bar Bingo, where each student brought in a full-sized, gift wrapped bar to win. It was fun to watch and listen to the second grade kids burst out in spontaneous song while cleaning up the mess.

I happened to be there just in time to watch D.J. take his spelling test. I noticed that he twirls the front of his hair in deep concentration and asked his teacher if he usually does that and she responded with a smile and a little laugh, "Yes." It apparently works, he passed with 100%!

Once There Was A Snowman...

(Hi-Ho the Dairy-oh the Farmers in the snow.)

(Devin and his new best friend.)

(D.J. made him all by himself.)

(Someone smaller that Maddy can boss around.)

Sisters In Stitches

On Tuesdays you'll find myself and a lot of other sisters in stitches, quite literally. We started making humanitarian quilts after Thanksgiving and have so far stitched every week since. We've completed four double-sized quilts, two singles, and have six ready to be tied after the holiday break.

It's not very hard work but somehow I've managed to prick my finger on every single one. Blood, sweat, and tears for sure. The kiddos play in the gym and each sister brings a snack to share for lunch. I like to think of it as a playgroup with purpose.

Spending the time with these girls has been a blast, they each bring they're own brand of humor to the group. We can give advice if asked for or vent if needed to a sympathetic ear. I understand the importance behind why the ladies of the past started such groups; stitching friendships along with quilts, binding and tying lives together.

Each of the quilts are made from donated fabrics. It's usually a mixed bag and we do the best we can. Today I'll be turning in these four quilts to the Humanitarian Center in Boise just in time for Christmas.

Oh What Fun It Is To....

Hit it boys!

"Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg..."

D.J. and Devin trimming the tree.

Maddy loves all that sparkles.

D.J. was disappointed in his lack-luster bauble.

Christmas Farmers. I think they ran a dairy as much as they 'cheesed' these pictures.

It's not so much brotherly love, more of an opportunity to slime your little sister.

About ready to throw my camera out! Fuzzy, grainy pictures and for that I apologize. I'm hoping I can work some of my photoshop magjc and at least come up with an 'artsy' version.

In Remembrance

Childrens Christmas Party

(Devin, D.J., Mrs. Claus, Santa, Maddy 12/3/2007)

The company my husband works for throws an annual Childrens Christmas Party for the kids of its' employees at no cost. They rent an entire dome/stadium and fill it to the top with games, rides, and activities. This was our second year and the kids had a ball.

We arrived fifteen minutes early and found ourselves in a short line. Our mission was for the boys to go with me to the Laser Tag arena first and Maddy and Dad were to hit the 'BIG' slide before the lines got too long and we were to meet back at Santa's.

Unlike last year, Maddy didn't scream at the site of the jolly, red-suited old man, though it did take a minute or two to convince her it was alright to sit on his lap and to tell him what she wanted for Christmas.

Dinner consisted of tater-tots, mandrian oranges, pretzels, olives, and carrots- all finger foods and all kids' favorites. The kids frosted cookies, played as many carnival games to their little hearts content. Devin and D.J. harnessed up on the bungie/tramp jump without batting an eyelash and proceeded to do front flips, back flips, and with the assistance of the workers, fly like Superman. Maddy spent a lot of time in the jump house or climbing the kiddie obstacle course.

It was a perfect way to spend F.H.E. Monday night and have plans to attend again next year. It's nice to work for a company that cares about their employees kids.

Only A Mother

(Maddy's Misery)

'It's the most wonderful time of the year'... or not. Wednesday, Maddy was hit with the flu of all things. Beating chills she would bury herself in a pile of blankets one minute and the next, taking off all her clothes. Her tummy hurt and I would sit and rub it just how she likes; small, soft, slow circles. Since Maddy was crashed out on the couch, I took the opportunity to clean my recently bombed house or so you would think it was bombed, raided, and left in ruins.

And of course, when all the world is fast asleep, the worst of it happens. The up and down multiple times a night for more belly rubs, a nibble of toast here, a sip of water there and enough potty visits to decimate a double roll of Charmin. It was after coming back from one of those visits things got ugly, and I mean ugly.

It has always been a mystery to me when a small child, who hasn't eaten anything of substance all day, can still projectile vomit massive amounts of goo all over you, the bedding, and the carpet. I was sitting square in the cross-hairs, taking a direct hit to the chest and though the big, red bowl was sitting in my lap, I was helpless.

In the split second that I had to react for round two, Maddy, knowing what else was coming, tried to get out of bed and get to the bathroom which of course would be a great idea but her stomach nor her bowels could wait. Therefore the carpet took the next barrage, launched from her daybed and the bed, which I just took off the noisy, plastic cover. got the 'other' mess.

I just sat there, looking between her, my soaked nightshirt, the splattered cream quilt, and the beige carpet I doubted would ever been 'fresh' again. "It's okay, Iz. Let's get you cleaned up."

One measly snore later, it was time to wake Devin and start my day. Only a mother could deal with goo and poo, not a wink of decent sleep, and greet the early morning without looking- or behaving- like a demon zombie raised from the depths of His Most Evils' brimstone paradise. Okay, I didn't look too pretty I admit but for the record, I wasn't nearly as grumpy as hubby who survived the chaos from the warm comfort of bed. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

Only a mother.

Good new is, Maddy is back to being chipper two days later and the rest of the farmers are just as feisty, dodging that oh-so-fun bug.

Progressive Dinner

(The Christmas Wish Box)

Our RS Progressive Dinner was this last Tuesday, the 4th of December. We had three sisters who opened their homes for the sit-down dinner which was lasagna, a wonderful green salad full of nuts and fruits, and french bread. Their homes were beautifully decorated for Christmas and the atmosphere was cheerful. Like most progressive dinners, we had a large turnout.

In an effort to help those who may have needs, temporal and spiritual, these Christmas Wish boxes were placed on the tables. Each sister had the opportunity to write down a 'wish' and place it into the box for either themselves, their family, or someone the knew. Those wishes would then be placed on the Giving Tree I'll be setting up in the lobby. That way those who want to help can help those who need it, anonymously.

After the main course, everyone met up at another sisters house for dessert. Cheesecake with a to-die-for raspberry and chocolate sauce. We ended the night watching the Church's video presentation of The Nativity played simultaneously with Amy Grant's Breath of Heaven. It fits perfectly and is very touching; reminding us for the true meaning of Christmas, of Christ's birth.

It all, it was a success and well worth all the stress and work of making it happen. I have come across a different version of 'Breath of Heaven' on YouTube. The video is from last years movie, The Nativity Story.

The Root of the Matter

(D.J.'s first lost tooth at nearly 8yrs. old.)

D.J. lost his first tooth, finally! A few weeks ago, he came to me and said that he had a loose tooth. After opening wide and showing me his pride and joy, I saw that his permanent tooth was breaking in from behind. A trip to Dr. B - our dentist- was needed.

Dr. B's assistants numbed his gums with a topical paste followed by a few shots. We waited for it to take effect, laughing as his plucked at his lips. Dr. B came in and asked how he was doing.

"Is your mouth all tingly?"

"Uh-huh, I didn't like the shots though," still plucking at his bottom lip.

"That's how we make it numb."

"I know how to make your legs go numb." D.J. sat up a little straighter in the chair, Dr. B. wasn't the only one who knew something about the subject.

"How's that?" Dr. B. gathered some supplies from the cabinet.

"Sit on the toilet a really, really long time." He said with conviction like expert with experience.

I nearly died trying not to laugh; trying not to cry. Dr. B. happens to be a family friend as well so I would have to live with the embarrassment longer than the semi-annual, 30mn. trip to the office.

"Yeah, I know about that." Dr. B. said without missing a beat, "That happened to my brother once, he had to fall of the toilet because his legs wouldn't work."

And that was the beginning of a conversation I'll never forget.

A few minutes and a few more shots later, D.J.'s monster tooth was out. The front root had not absorbed and made it virtually impossible to fall out on it's own. The Tooth Fairy was extra nice, $1.25.

More proof organized chaos.

Power to the People

The week before Devin's concert, I opened my daily newspaper to find a front-page headline that read, Half-way home to house 13 cons. I continued to read the article with shock and anger. This proposed half-way house was not 600' from my kiddo's elementary school and park. The said house was being rented by a individual who wanted to place the convicts in a single-family neighborhood. (Murders, rapists, child molesters, drug dealers, etc. etc. except for arsonists, because that would make his insurance premium go up.) Word spread throughout the ward like wild fire.

I gathered my pitch fork and torch and took up a petition with informational flyer's and canvased our subdivision. I was amazed by the fact that nobody knew of it or if they did, had no clue it was so close to where their children walked to school or played at the park. Taking action was the only way I could handle my outrage that somebody would be so irresponsible in placing sex offenders near young families, a park, and an elementary school and that because of a loophole in the law, would be perfectly legal to do so.

The night of Devin's concert was the neighborhood meeting with city officials, the renter, and a representative from the IDoC. The newspaper and local t.v. news crews were covering the story to spread the word to other communities where this is and could happen in other neighborhoods as well. We attended Devin's concert, which was ultimately more important, and watched the coverage on the news. Over 250 people showed up and the debate was hot. Finally, the renter caved and said he would look elsewhere. The petitions were noterized and turned into the city with the hope of closing the loophole and keeping our children, our families safe.

Power to the People!

Over the Hills and Through the Woods

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving early with the McCoy's. Mom usually works on Thanksgiving day so in an effort to beat both the snow and the schedule, the turkey was stuffed on the 11th of November.

While we waited for the bird to pop, my sister Mindy introduced us to 'Little Bit'.

The kiddos had so much fun and waited impatiently for their turn to ride. At least Little Bit was patient and took the all chaos in stride.

The smell of the alfalfa, the aged leather of the saddle, and horsehair brought back a flood of teenage memories and the times I spent mucking out stalls and riding Frosty. It had been years since I had groomed or saddled a horse and despite the lack of practice, Little Bit was ready to go in no time.

By six o'clock that night, everyone was stuffed with all the comfort food Thanksgiving dinner provides. Pumpkin pie was just an afterthought. The next morning we got up, packed and started back home. Eighteen hours of driving in forty-eight hours time, it was a quick visit to say the least. WDoT reported snow at 3,000' and with Chinook pass at nearly 5,500' we opted for Snoqualmie Pass to the north which topped out at 3,200'. The kiddos were excited to see the snow and faked an emergency potty stop just over the summit for the chance to touch it.

A Belated Birthday and Early Christmas Present

Finally! I finally got my parlor grand and couldn't be more excited. After searching for almost a year and a half, I found what I was looking for and the price was just right. I stumbled on this 5'8", 1921 piano in the online edition of The Statesman classifieds. I did a reverse lookup on the contact number to see exactly where the piano was located and was surprised to find it not more that five miles away.

I told Dave about it- not expecting much- but he agreed to go and take a look that afternoon. The lady who was selling it was once a piano teacher and due to the size of her livingroom which was rather small, a kitchen in the middle of being updated, and her husbands recent stroke, bought a clavanova and officially listed her grand.

The room was dark, even with the lights on and the draperies pulled open, but I was able to get a good look at everything. The soundboard and cabinet was covered in dust and household grime but was in overall excellent condition, only suffering the bumps and bruises that come with age and various moves. The key tops had been replaced and I was given a copy of the technicians' receipt from January when it was last tuned. It played well and I liked the mellow tone it produced.

We left and went to dinner, all the while mulling it over in my head. Dave said that since I was the one looking, I knew what about it would be worth and what else was out there for the same asking price. This was above the mark and he gave me the okay with the stipulation that I could no longer bring up the fact that he missed two of my birthdays (completely forgetting one altogether) and our last anniversary, This makes up for all of that, and Christmas too."

I arranged to have it delivered the following Tuesday, after waiting until Monday to haggle the price and buy it. Once it was home, I started to clean it up using a method I found online for bringing back antique finishes. Apparently Dawn dish washing liquid is good for a lot of things. I buffed the brass, dusted the soundboard, washed the cabinet with Dawn and applied two coats of Old English for dark wood. (Hid all the little nicks like a charm.) I need to work on it some more before its completely clean. I even padded and reupholstered the bench.

The following week my old 1869 Hackley upright was sold and moved to its new home. A Christmas present for a 10 year old girl in Boise, I could not have let it go to a better place.

The Halloween Hunting Party

"Why did the ghoul, the pirate, and a snow-fairy princess cross the road?"

This Halloween crept up on me like a thief in the night. I was not at all prepared. After changing several times, going through her entire trunk of dress-up clothes, Iz decided to be a snow-fairy princess. Devin had last years' ghoul costume stashed away in his closet so his was also an easy fix.

Poor D.J., we had to start from scratch with him. We tried the traditional 'sheet' ghost to no avail, next was the 'window scarf' mummy that ended badly, and finally after much desperation and rummaging through my closet, we came up with this gypsy-pirate ensemble complete with earring and facial hair. He was happy in the end and that's all that really matters. Well, that and how much loot they could get.

Luckily it wasn't as cold as it was last year so we didn't need to work around thick coats and an extra pair of jeans. We set off at seven with the intent of only knocking doors in our subdivision. An hour later the buckets were overflowing and our route completed.

Our snow-fairy princess was the only one to deliver a trick.

"Trick-or-treat." The kiddos sang as the door opened.

"Oh, a pirate... and what are you?" the stooped, white-haired woman asked.
"A ghoul, I think." Devin politely replied as she dropped a full-size Snicker into his sack.
"And a princess too!" She had moved on to Izzy's bucket, "How pretty you look."
The princess crinkled her nose and stated matter-of-factly, "You look very, very old. You're gonna die soon."
The woman lost her smile for a moment and said, "I hope not too soon, Happy Halloween." and shut the door.
After picking my jaw up from the sidewalk and explaining how she had made the nice lady sad, Dad marched Iz right back to her door to apologize.
The woman was nice and accepted the tear-filled and sniffled sorry, "I've been called a lot worse."
Out of the mouths of babes, right?

Got Tagged?

I'm not sure how the game is played, but thanks to Lora, I guess I'm it?

Six Habits: For Better or Worse.

1. Once Bitten: Disgusting as it is, I pick, tear, and bite at my nails. Mom said that I would die an early death due to the fact that there would be a large ball of half-eaten fingernails rolling around, riddling my stomach with holes. Well Mom, I don't eat them and I'm still alive.

2. Open and Shut: I have to shut, close, or lock up every door, cabinet, or lid I find left open. It drives me nuts if I don’t!

3. You’ve Got Mail: Whether I have the time or not, I always check my email. Sometimes it’s the most adult conversation I get all day, however one-sided it may seem.

4. The Need for Speed: Lucky for me the local police haven’t noticed yet. If I’m listening to an upbeat song while driving, chances are I’m a little upbeat on the speedometer. Kenny Loggin’s Danger Zone from Top Gun always pushes the needle past the "suggested" speed limit.

5. A Blonds’ Ambition: I really do have a brain, I really do! For some reason, as my hubby has pointed out numerous times before and after each situation, when meeting new people or put into an uncomfortable social event, I go from savvy brunette to ditzy blond faster than a bottle of hair bleach in the hands of the local drag queen at La Coif salon. Nerves; sheer, unaltered, my brain fell out my rear, nerves! I believe that habit number one precedes and follows habit number five; the ‘oh-my-gosh-I’m-so-nervous’ to ‘oh-I’m-such-an-idiot or they-know-I’m-an-idiot’.

6. These Shoes Were Made for …. : From sun up to sundown, I have my Nike’s on. Stacey and Clinton from What Not to Wear would have a field day with me. Besides my preferred footwear, I don my daily uniform of jeans, tee, and a light-weight, zippered hoody and a good pair of socks makes all the difference. I wish I could say that I am athletic or intend to be at some point during the day, but the fact is I’m not.

Twenty-Eight Trumpeters' Trumpeting

The end of October, just before Halloween, the middle-school bands performed their fall concert. Starting the night off with a bang, NHS Marching Band- fresh off a regional sweepstakes win- entered the gymnasium with a full drum battery (which of course D.J. was enthralled), four drum majors and a gaggle of tall flags.

Each student dressed in full regalia, applettes and then some. They performed 'In the Land of Dragons' as best they could in the cramped quarters between the massive 6th grade band, 7th grade concert band, and Jazz band sets. The power behind the music was substantial. The final movement included a fire-breathing, beast of a dragon which drew a standing ovation from the crowd until the last student, marching in cadence, exited through the red double doors to the parking lot. D.J. summed the experience up best, "That was awesome!"

The Jazz Band was swing'in and the 7th and 8th grade pieces were full of flavor with everthing from a Spanish-inspired Bull-fight to a Native American ceremony. Devins' 6th grade performace was next. (video to be added)

I'm so proud at the progress Devin has been making on his trumpet, he occupies 7th chair out of 28 in beginning band. There is no need for me to remind him to practice (except for the occasional word about posture). We all look forward to the winter concert!


Tote; placemat. Cover; napkin. Both from World Market.

Our Super-Saturday was in the middle of October this year and there was plenty to do. Attendance was high and the atmosphere was laid-back and enjoyable. Some of our projects included F.H.E. board, tiles, and signs, all of which involved vinyl letting of some kind. There was a workshop on beading earrings, necklaces, and bracelets as well. I taught a growing class on glass etching and scripture totes/covers. It was a long day but in the end it was well-worth the effort.

Great and inexpensive was to personalize a wedding or holiday gift.

Serving Others

Johnny Appleseed has nothing on my farmers.

Our ward was assigned a row or two of Red Delicious apples at the Caldwell Orchard to pick for the Bishops’ Storehouse. David and I decided that it would be a good experience for the kiddos to learn about agriculture and serving others.

Finding our way on a hunch, we arrived at the hilltop orchard around six in the evening. The view of the Snake River winding through the golden fields below as the setting sun kissed the peaks of the Owyhee mountains made the trip worthwhile whether we picked any apples or not. The crisp air, laced with the musky smell of fallen leaves and fallen apples, officially declared that summer had waned into autumn.

We trudged down our assigned row with two picking baskets and an aluminum ladder, looking upward to find where the last family had stopped picking. Maddy was constantly scooping up apples from the ground and putting them into my basket as we walked. I had to keep telling her and the boys that if it’s on the ground, you can pick it. Once we found our spot, they weren’t interested in what was on the ground.

The gnarled trees were laden with ripe, red apples the size of Texas Grapefruit. You had to be careful not to pluck one from a clump just above your head or you’d get bonked on the noggin a la Newton. Needless to say the baskets had to be emptied at regular intervals into the loading crates placed here and there along the trees because the apples were so large and plentiful.

D.J. and Devin enjoyed climbing the ladder to reach the topmost apples and more importantly, they enjoyed watching the rest of us on the ground dart between the branches to avoid being hit by incoming a-bombs.

We stayed until it was too dark to see what you were picking, gleaned a few apples that had just fallen from the trees and made our way home, around the lake we spent so many hours on this summer. In the month that followed, we made two more treks out to the orchard, the last visit ended with a promise to come back next year. In each of the kids rooms, you’ll find a Styrofoam cup, potting soil and an apple seed, “We want to grow our own orchard.”

(pictures to come)

Pinch a Penny

Back in the day, when I was bean-pole and had enough energy to power a small village in Botswana, I was a flier. No, not of airplanes, helicopters, hang gliders, a Gumby-like trapeze artist or anything else quite as fascinating. A cheerleader, more specifically, the one who went 'up'.

Keeping your balance while standing atop of two pairs of outstretched hands while yelling and flailing your arms about in a somewhat purposeful manner with pom-poms to boot does in fact, contrary to popular belief, require skill and concentration... pinch a penny. I don't need to go too far into the genius of such a concept to make the point and will leave the rest up to imagination.

Oh, how times have changed!

Nowadays I'm excited to pinch a penny in a completely different way but nevertheless it gets my adrenaline pumping. I have discovered a trick to my budget balancing act through pinchingyourpennies.com and my Sunday paper.

It seems like a waste of time and more trouble than it's really worth. I would hear the first-hand accounts of getting this or that for an unbelievably cheap price or for free and figured it was one of those housewives' urban legends. Next thing I know, all those goldfish I flushed throughout the years will come back to haunt my commode with clinking scales and ghostly 'glubs' of horror all through the wee hours of the night.

Armed with my pinchingyourpennies.com printout from Albertsons, my Prefered Card, and a wad of coupons I set out to do the seemingly impossible. I gave myself $100 to see what and how much I could get. At check-out I watched the amount due climb higher and higher, well past the $100 allotment and worried that either the checker or the people in line would kill me the second I dropped my stash or I would have to bear the embarrassment of having copious amounts of items removed from my purchase, which would end, undoubtedly, in my demise as well.

With the last coupon scanned, my total amount due was $105.12! It doesn't sound nearly as impressive without the hand-wringing, original balance of $253.96! And I received a $10 cash gift certificate off my next purchase! Whoa!!! I was so excited. I had to tell someone what happened before I burst into 'the crazy lady'. Yes, now everybody else can look at me with those doubtful stares and rolling eyes, contemplating their own goldfish poltergeists circling the white, porcelain hell from which they came. I don't care, I just saved $148.84!

Unfortunately, with such a rush, I've gone a bit berserk and now have a binder-filing system and spread sheets matching every flier from local stores. Now I just point, click, and get the best price.

I loved pinching pennies then, I love pinching pennies now, and I don't mind the company of Bob, Bill, Fred, George, Spotty, Jolly, Roger, Harold, Willy, Wally, Jack, Adolph, Crush, Orang-cicle, Marshmellow Puff and the beloved Scurvy.


The Sound of Chaos

What is the sound of chaos? Blood-curdling screams of terror, the bone-rattling percussion of nearby explosions, a seven year old with a full drum set.

( Give me a beat! D.J. and his drums.)

Last week D.J. burst through the front door out of breath and grinning from ear to ear, trying to tell me why it was, in his own words, the "greatest day ever!"

"I found one hundred dollars! I found it! On the road- a hundred dollars!" He pulled the crinkled wad of green from his pocket and quickly smoothed it out in between his little fingers for me to see. "One hundrend dollars! It's the greatest day ever!"

At first I thought it was play money and felt the pangs of guilt that I would have to crush his excitement by telling him the truth. "Let me see," I asked, and he handed it over proudly.

Watermark, check. Fiber band, check. "It is the greatest day ever!"

After explaining the principle of tithing and giving him his choice of paying it or not (which he decided to), David and I asked what he planned to do with his new found wealth. The first words out of his mouth were, "I want drums."

"You mean you don't want a new video game?" I tried to hide my surprise, "Transformers for the Wii?"

"Can I have both?" His eyes doubled, "I have that much money?"

"One or the other, D.J. but not both."

His smile never faultered and neither did his answer, "I want to play the drums. The Cat in the Hat song."

(Hey Pachuco by The Royal Crown Review... The Mask soundtrack http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product=3821288&JRSource=nsa&nsa=1
It has an awesome drum solo. He hasn't seen the Cat in the Hat for ages and only the once, but I do have the song on my iPod under my soundtracks playlist; I have to admit, it's a swing'n song!)

The next morning we decided that the best place to look for a drum set within his budget would be a local pawn shop. I had purchased Devin's trumpet from a very clean, well-run store with a large selection of insturments two months earlier and thought it was worth a try.

Everything on the floor was too big and too expensive. We had almost talked ourselves- and D.J.- into buying a snare drum to start with, when the music department employee found a smaller set in the back, just his size and just his price. He threw in a kicker for the bass drum, which it was missing, and D.J. proclaimed it once again 'the greatest day ever'.

I will never forget his expression when another employee, who happened to be a drummer for a local rock band (he was very nice despite the tats and peircings) played for D.J. and explained how to hold the sticks etc.

One week, an empty bottle of Tylenol, a trip to the music store to order practice pads and D.J.'s rock'n the house... and he's pretty darn good!

Off With Her Hair?

Well, I did it- chopped it off. I really wanted to try and keep in long, but as the stylist was halfway through straightening it, I had a change of heart. Not wanting to look like the psycho-wench Linda from The Wedding Singer movie, I opted to go shorter. I'm still getting used to it and heaven help me if I let my natural curl run rampant.

Summer Fun!

(First time Devin tried wakeboarding, 8/07)

We had so much fun on the lake this summer. I'm so proud of all the kids and how far they have come. Our first time out, nobody wanted to go faster than 5mph on the tube and no bumps were allowed. Two months later and we've bounced them off, 360's on the kneeboard, and Devin is even wakeboarding! Launching and loading the boat is a piece of cake and backing it into our garage has become an artform. Unfortunately, the lake is extremely low so I'm not sure if we'll get back on it for an all-day, last-time lake trip of the year.

An Ouchie on My Nose

This was one of those moments in life that makes all the chaos living it worthwhile. David and I were trying so hard not to laugh at the situation and to take her 'injury' seriously, after all she had taken care of the problem herself. Maddy's reaction to Daddy asking her to take the band-aid off was priceless. Video was taken 2/07.

Rocky Mountain High

Three days after returning from the coast, we packed up the recently unpacked car and headed south-west to Utah for Davids' family reunion. Our first day was spent at Lagoon amusement park in Layton. We arrived as the gates opened and hit the first ride... Wicked.

The ride is a dual LMSs powered (Linear Magnetic System) that launches you instantly to 55mph and 110' up a tower, pushing you back into your seat and what feels like all the air out of your lungs. Once over the top, it's straight down again before heading towards the twists, turns, and a spiral loop. In all the ride lasts roughly 45 seconds, a drop in the bucket compared to the hour-long wait.

Midway through the ride, our oldest son Devin, half-laughing half-screaming yelled, "This is wicked!" It was the favorite ride by all who were old enough- or tall enough- to enjoy it. D.J. and Maddy were daring in their own right and rode every ride offered to them.

(Left to right: Maddy, Devin, David, Stacey, D.J.)

I have always wanted an old-fashioned picture of our family to hide amongst the antique photos of great-great grandma's, even greater grandpa's, and every obscure relative in between on my walls. As you can see, my kids didn't have a hard time understanding 'don't smile' from the photographer. It took a little over an hour to get into our clothes and positioned in the little western shack the studio was housed. It was at least 95 degrees outside and with just a few oscillating fans inside... well, no wonder everyone was sporting down-right dirty looks at the camera.

The next day was spent boating on Pineview Reservoir in Huntsville. Between four boats, everyone who wanted a ride got one. The boys are much more daring with their cousins and tried a few new tricks on the knee board and that extra 'bounce' on the tube.

My brother-in-law Dennis, introduced me to wakesurfing and I'm proud to say that on my first attempt, I was up. It took awhile to find my 'sweet spot', the area of wake just off the stern that will keep the board in perpetual forward motion, but once I did, it was a whole lotta fun! Wakesurfing is easier than wakeboarding in my opinion. If you crash, you crash. No board to smack your head on or enough speed to clean you out better than the prep for a colonoscopy. Yeah, you know what I mean. I'm slightly disappointed that our boat is not a full inboard, which makes wakesurfing without the rope virtually impossible. I have no desire to chum the water.

Our third and final day was to hike up to Ben Lomond and Willard Peaks. Grandma and Grandpa, back in the day, rode horseback up to the peak where Grandpa then proposed and began building the 26 member-strong family that we are now.

The older kids and adults left Grandma behind to watch the littlest of farmers while we hiked and were to meet us a Maddoxs' burger stand in Brigham City around one o'clock that afternoon on our way back down.

There are not a lot of physical things that scare me beyond rational reason, but I will admit that the severely primitive 'road' we traveled on brought me to tears, literally. Our caravan consisted of a full-size, quad-cab truck, quad-cab 1/2 ton, and three Yukon XL's- one being a brand new Denali. By no means are these vehicles small and though they fall into the off-road, SUV category, I never want use my Yukon to 'its full potential' again.

Starting off as a decently maintained, one lane gravelled road, my nerves were calm and there was no need for the 'holy crap' bar that was primarily used for hanging air-fresheners on the dash and the upper left of the windshield. A few bumps turned into a lot and what little width there was dwindled as we climbed above the tree line. Instead of circumventing the major obstructions (rocks, tree stumps, and more sharp rocks) it became a case of which one would cause the least amount of damage to our undercarriage and keep us from rolling down the side of the mountain.

On the widest sections of trail, we would carefully pass gawking four-wheeler enthusiasts which made me feel even better about our mode of transportation. My father-in-law inadvertently made matters worse my saying things like, 'this road looks like hasn't been taken care of in years', 'they haven't been grading this... I remember a much better road', and the best line of misguided comfort, 'I don't think cars are supposed to travel up here anymore.'

I kept hearing how close we were, that there was a parking lot and we would hike the rest. HA! With each crest of mountainside, I hoped to see pavement (this would be the irrational part) and that the worst was over; unfortunately, those winding, twisting trails had no end in sight. Forget the 'holy crap' bar- forget the car- I'll walk back down, thank you very much.

Reduced to tears, completely helpless in the situation, I waited for the end of it. We reached Willard Peak, the highest of the two at 9,764' and tried to appreciate the view of Willard Bay and the Great Salt Lake to the west, Cache Valley to the north and Pineview and the surrounding small towns from which the trek started, to the southeast. There was still more to travel and still more tears fell from the thought of it.

By the time we reached the so-called parking lot (a wide dirt patch on the saddle of the mountain) it was time to stretch our legs and walk the remaining distance to Ben Lomond Peak (9,712'). Not only have we ventured to the home where the deer and antelope play, shabby-white mountain goats were frolicking along the rocky cliffs as if it were the local Playland at McDonalds.

(D.J. and Maddy at the trail head.)

(Ridge line trail to Ben Lomond Peak)

(Looking southwest to Salt Lake City, Ogden directly below)

When we returned to the car and ate what snacks we could find (it was well passed 1:00) my sister-in-law noticed that our front, drivers' side tire was as flat as the mornings' pancakes. After a lot of direction from multiple supervisors, the spare was securely in place and the caravan set off down the trail.

I closed my eyes, plugged my ears, and held my breath; waiting for the familiar smooth ride of asphalt. Another flat tire, a hole in our washer fluid tank, thoroughly melted brake pads, and an hour and a half later, sweet-industrialized civilization.

We had planned to head back to Idaho after family pictures, but considering the days events we extended our stay for one more night. In all it was a great trip and we look forward to next years' reunion at Lake Powell.

Just Better Together!

Peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies- you can't really have hot chocolate without the marshmallows. Somethings are just better together- like you and me. I got the best birthday present I could ask for this year- to see my best friend Lora! There wasn't a better way to spend the day or end our vacation to the coast. Thanks Quillan, for letting me visit so late, your beautiful girls have grown up so much. Miss you all, ~Stace


Just before you reach Lake Quinalt on Hwy. 101, there is a span of road I call the 'Hall of Trees'. The pavement stretches out like an asphalt river through a dark sea of towering evergreens. Only a thread of sky lights your way from above. If I could describe the view with music, the opening of Loreena McKennitts' Dante's Prayer comes to mind. http://hardmp3ss.com/track/87/4418/44974/

Once we've navigated the hall, I know I'm close to coming 'home'. I scan what I can see of the horizon for low, lingering clouds that hug the first mile or so of coastline. This year, it was warm, bright and beautiful. Those few hours and the proceeding sunset were the best of our three day stay; it was enough.

Having camped at Kalaloch since I was a knee-high farmer myself, I knew that the morning would be damp and misty- I also knew that the chances of decent weather were still pretty good. Since our trip was rather short this year we opted not to put up all the usual shelter; keeping us from looking like a homeless tent city, we were able to see the blue of sky and not the blue of tarps and twine. How wrong was I. Mist turned into sprinkles which became showers and all that was damp was absolutely drenched within minutes. With a few odd, dome tent poles and 'just in case' tarps, we made a decent amplitheater-like shelter to hide under to keep the fire burning and our hope dry. I had never been so grateful for a Cup o'Noodles or a steaming bowl of chili.

Grandma and Grandpa, aunts and uncles, and all the cousins were confined to less than 200 sqf. of polyethylene sanctuary. It was a struggle to keep the kids at least two quarts shy of sopping. Passing the hours as best we could, having exhausted every genre of book, movie, video games and t.v. I polished off at least half a magazine worth of Fill-in's and David carved a walking stick for each of the kids. The idea being that each year we return, another symbol would be carved on the stick. When the sky briefly stopped falling, beachcoming offered up plenty things to poke and prod. We stumbled across an area riddled with the cartilage remains of mud sharks, bits and pieces of crab, kelp, razor clam shells and Spongebob's best mate, Patrick.

The next morning brought wind, a little rain, and a smattering of blue. And not unlike the childhood fable of the Three Little Pigs, our houses of straw and sticks came tumbling down. All I could do was quote the origional Merry-Miss Sunshine and say "Let's go fly a kite."

That evening David and I stole a chance to walk the beach at sunset, just the two of us. Too much cloud cover prevented a spectacular, fiery display but it did give off an interesting, steel-blue haze. As we stood knee-deep in the surf, just in front of a grouping of rocks, we watched an otter enjoying his evening dinner of crab. He would look at us looking at him and go back to munching on a claw as if he didn't mind the intrusion.

Our final morning brought more rain and by this point, staying a few more hours huddled under the one remaining canopy was not enticing to say the least: Hope was officially soaked. Within an hour everyone was packed and ready to go. I took one last look off the edge of the bluff, climbed in the car and drove away, already anticipating the next time I come 'home'.

Those Winding, Twisting Paths

Despite the chaos planning, preparing, and packing for summer vacation, when all the pre-potty stops are made and the tires hit the proverbial pavement, there's an almost tangible excitement for the unexpected.

We have traveled over Chinook Pass too many times to recall, but each jaunt up and over the Cascades has been either in the dark, in the rain, or more than our just our heads were in the clouds.

This time, however, we could not pass up such a treasure. We walked the trails around the crystal clear lakes and took in the 'purple mountians' majesty' crowned with wildflowers of every color.

Though it was mid-July there were patches of deep snow and even Mt. Rainer peeked briefly out from underneath her veil, just enough of us to get a glimpse of how beautiful she really is.

(D.J., Me, Maddy, & Devin: Mirror Lakes, top of Chinook Pass, Mt. Rainer WA 7/14/2007)

Old News Is Good News... Right?

Guest Opinion

With Patience, Locals Will See Cycle of Benefits

By Stacey _______

Commingle. It's not a word used frequently in my daily vocabulary, but as a stay-home mother of three, I have witnessed it by definition.

Sometimes I find a misguided fork in the spoon slot of the dishwasher, or perhaps a lone and once very dark sock in a recently bleached load of whites. My boys have been up in arms over the fact that from time to time their militaristic action heroes are found alongside a certain platinum blonde with a disproportionate figure, at which point I start to question my housekeeping skills and, on second thought, parenting style as well.

I have heard not one good response concerning the newly implemented recycling program. Rounding off the list of compliants is the separation debacle, the brilliant blue tubs and paying for it whether you recycle or not. The latter I won't even begin to address. I have been through all of this before, and let me tell you, commingle happens.

A few years ago in another town- in another state- a similar recycling program was started, and not unlike my children and their action figures, the townspeople were up in arms with the same objections.

On one particularly rainy morning, I sloshed down the muddied and potholed lane to find a large, wheeled, grey can with the arrowed, triangular symbol emblazoned on the front where my fire-red tubs once sat.

Oh happy day.

My trash, which is charged by the gallon, was reduced by two-thirds and ultimately put more green back into our penny-pinching single-income budget.

The way people go about their daily lives is hard to change. If you are not used to taking the 4.8 seconds to recycle instead of chucking a used item in the trash bin, you won't- especially if it means three paper bags and lugging to the curb an extra carton while shuffling a stack of broken-down cardboard underneath your arm in the snow, and uphill both ways.

Start small, piece by piece, and it will make a difference. The more people who recycle, the more cost-effective it will become for those who provide the service and, in turn, the easier it will be to recycle. See the connection?

For now, however, I will continue to make a conscious effort to be more mindful of the utensil tray, dark socks and fraternization in the toy box.

And as I take those extra seconds to recycle, I'll imagine my paper, margarine tubs and milk jugs as a well-used park bench where I can sit and watch my children play while getting to know this community a little better.

Commingle happens.

Silver Quill winners will be honored in early 2008

This is the guest opinion I wrote back in April which won the Silver Quill Award given by the newspaper.

Into the Great Beyond!

Like all epic journeys, this one begins with your average, everyday character in an ordinary place and during a time of no real great importance.

There will be ups and downs, lefts and rights, with twists and turns that are wholly expected and yet altogether surprising moments of organized chaos.

I have never written a blog before or for that matter, read one. Thanks to Lora, I've set out to do the seemingly impossible- keep in touch. At this point I have no idea what could be so special about mundane life to write about, why anyone in their right-mind would want to read it, and my ability to string together more than three words in one, comprehensible sentence. And with that, my first post, I'm off into the Great Beyond.


(Picture taken just outside of Yakima, WA 8/06. There was an
unusual, circular cloud formation that I thought was interesting. Lower right off-enter of the picture.)