Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back to School

 We were sad to see summer come to an end but the kids were exited to start a new year.

 My Middle Schoolers - Andrew 6th and Mack 7th

 Kate in Mrs. Miller's 4th grade  and Emily in Mrs. K's 1st grade.  Her last name is long and complicated for 1st graders (or bad spellers like me) so they just call her Mrs. K.  Lily and I miss our Emmy but she is loving her 1st grade.

Believe it or not Natali is in High School -crazy.  She is loving it so far.  

For Labor Day weekend we went up to McCall.  I spent the Friday and Saturday with just the little girls.  The other kids and Greg had comitments.  We had such a blast.  It was cold but we still swam in that wonderful pool for hours, took a lot of walks, and watched the rain from the balcony.  I love that place.  Sunday evening the rest of the gang joined us and we enjoyed a fabulous hike.  It sprinkled on us and Lily still has some "peeing in the woods" experience to gain, but since she managed to find huckleberries to eat while we walked all the wetness was forgotten.  My Macky boy has been growing his hair out.  Most of the time I really like it but early morning, pre shower hair can be pretty awesome.
One Friday after school Greg and I were determined to do something fun with the kids that didn't involve lots of $ or the TV.  We have lived near the Snake River for 10 years now but most of the kids had never floated in it so we decided to remedy that.  We had a lot of fun for the first hour, but then it started geting old, and getting darker and darker.  A few of the kids got swept away for brief moments ending up out of their tubes...lets just say by the end we were all SO happy to be done.  Everyone was cold, scraped up and exhausted.  I figured everyone would cry the whole way home and complain about how awful it was.  But I was surprised to hear them talking about "next time".  They even jumped at the chance for a family photo in the car on the way home.  (Yes I look ridiculous - maybe someday I will figure out how to look normal in a selfie, but don't hold your breath).

Monday, August 1, 2016

Random but Fun

The following post is a compilation of pictures from Greg's phone.  Which often means I wasn't there.  These pictures are out of order and I can't remember which thing happened when but we had fun and don't want to forget that we do have fun sometimes.

The kids and I had a silly stiring war one day when Greg was out of town and that inspired us to host a neighborhood Silly String War.  We had four families show up and we had a blast.  The clean up wasn't even so bad with that many hands.  The kids want to make it an annual event...we'll see.  It would help if I could remember when it was...

 For Memorial Day Greg and the three oldest signed up for the Bubble Run in Boise.  I was signed up too but hurt my back so had to opt out.  They thought it was fun and loved being messy - at least for a little while.
Mack and Greg golfing in the rain.
Our soccer boy and his little pal.
Natali's first stake dance.

This summer Mack was working on an emergency kit for scouts.  We decided to put some of the kids old glass in the kit just in case.  Lily found them and got creative.  And who doesn't love a one eyed pirate tiger? Lily keeps us laughing.

Natali and Mack went to do baptisms with Greg.  I can't beileve how old they are getting.

Okay this doesn't qualify as fun but here it goes anyway.  We had a big problem with wasps this summer.  The good news was I was the only one who got stung (4 times for me).  The bad news was that my reactions were pretty terrible.  One sting on the finger ended up sending me to the doctor.  My hand was red, hot, and swollen so much I could hardly bend my fingers.  As we sat in the waiting room the swelling moved slowly up my arm.  I don't know if these pictures capture it but it was an unnerving experience.  And unfortunately my kids are way more afraid of wasps now!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Week In My Favorite Place

This summer I was determined to enjoy an entire week in McCall.  As luck would have it, our designated week was a cool one and the pool was broken.  Inspite of that we still loved it.  We played in the sand, ate huckleberries, played tennis, took lots of hikes, hung out downtown, and just enjoyed being together.  Life really is better here!

 Our friends met us up there one day and enjoyed the beach and berry picking.  In spite of the weather the kids still managed to get plenty wet.  It was less than 65 degrees outside - burr.

 Like the little mermaid?

 The kids all set some summer goals and each goal had a prize associated with it.  Emmy met her reading goal and got a date to Ice Cream Alley with Mom.

 My most frequent hikers.
For about an hour all 6 of them were working together on this sand structure.  I love those moments.

Greg joined us for the weekend and took us on a hike - unfortunately we never found the right trail.  We ended up traipsing through the forest being consumed by mosquitos.  The littler kids had the worst of it becasue the brush was over their heads half the time.  This picture shows Kate crawling across the river; it doesn't capture the moaning.  This little avdenture ended in tears and lots of itching but they all brightened up when we went to Ice Cream Alley for lunch.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Cahokia Mounds- What?

While planing this trip I was talking to a friend who used to live in the St. Louis area and he told me I had to see the Cahokia Mounds.  I was like "The what?"  I started to research and learned that Cahokia is the remains of a huge ancient Native American settlement that covered more that 6 square miles.  They built huge mound out of earth.  The park has 80 of these mounds.  I decided I wanted to go see them.  

The day we went to the park it was 100 degrees and humid.  The museum was really cool (Kate especially loved it) but to see all the mounds we had to endure the heat.  We grabbed an ancient cassette player and started the tour.  The largest mound, Monks Mound, is the largest earthen structure in the Americas and the largest pyramid north of Mesoamerica.  It is about 100 ft high.  The hike to the top was brutal in the heat (Kate stayed at the bottom).  

 Here are some pictures from the top.
 Can you see St. Louis off in the distance?  It was so hot but it was pretty amazing from the top.  There was a lady running the stairs to the top and I think she was crazy!
Overall it was pretty cool but the heat definitely detracted from the experience.  Everyone was happy when we finally left.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hannibal and the Confluence

Greg and I couldn't resist the chance to see the birthplace of Mark Twain so we visited the Samuel Clements museum and his childhood home, as well as the homes of Becky Thatcher and Huckleberry Finn.  I had required the kids to listen or read at least one of Twain's short stories but other than that they hadn't had much exposure to his work - they still loved it.  There were quotes all over the displays in his childhood home and I wish I would have taken pictures of some of them because I was snickering the whole time.  Such a gift with words.

Here they are by a river boat and painting the fence ( I told Andrew not to get any ideas).

 Tom and a Becky who's eyes were a little sensitive to light.
We also got to go through the Mark Twain caves.  Our tour guide was awesome and we had a blast walking through the dark caves.  I was horrified to think of little kids playing in those caves with nothing more than candles and lanterns.  It was a cool 50 degrees in the caves - a nice break from the stifling humidity.

Greg and I had such a hard time keeping this road trip to only a week - so many cool things to see.  We had really wanted to go see Springfield but couldn't fit it in, next time I guess.  We had a bit of a drive that night to get to Saint Louis area but as we were driving that I realized we would be going right past the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.  I decided I had to see it.  I started looking for how to get to the best spot and started using the word confluence in every sentence I possibly could.  What a great word.  The kids were getting antsy and bickering a lot and  it would seam that looking for the confluence (and my silly enthusiasm) was getting on their nerves.  However, by the time we got there the silliness had caught on and everyone (except Kate) was super excited to see the now famous confluence.  My kids think I'm weird but I love the moments when I can just be silly and get them laughing - need to do it more often.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On to Nauvoo

Nauvoo, Illinois was a city built up by members of the Mormon church after they were forced to flee from Missouri.  They turned swamp land on the Mississippi River into a beautiful town.  At one point it's population rivaled that of Chicago.  The church has preserved and rebuild many structures that you can visit to see what it would have been like to live there in the 1840's.  My kids loved the bakery (they got free cookies), the blacksmith shop, the gunsmiths, and the family living center where they got to make rope, shear sheep, and make (taste) homemade bread.  We also got to see Joseph Smith's grave and many other significant buildings from when Joseph was alive.  We even got to see a cute musical show put on by the missionaries serving there and the kids loved that.
 I have been to Nauvoo a few times before but this home was new and was so awesome to visit.  This is where my great-great-great-grandmother lived as a young girl.  As a child I learned stories from her life history, my favorites were about when she crossed the plans and the significance of her death.    
If you can't read the plaque -  she had long red curly hair that attracted the attention of a Native American Chief while she was crossing the plains.  It was only through promptings from the spirit that her mother was able to keep her from the persistent chief.   My little red head loves that story.  

It was wonderful to visit the home and share what I knew of this special woman with my kids and to see them humbled by imagining all of us living in that small one room house.  It was a great experience.  Then as we were leaving a missionary sister started talking to us.  When she learned I was a descendant of Mary she taught me more about being "The Last Leaf".  Apparently, in General Conference they used to have a special area set apart for those who had met Joseph Smith.  These members would bare their testimony at conference.  As the years passed the number of those who knew Joseph grew smaller and smaller.  They started calling the group " The Last Leaves"  Eventually Mary was the last person able to bare testimony that she had personally known Joseph Smith; earning her the title - "The Last Leaf".  She died at 107 still testifying of the truth of the gospel.  I love her story and loved being able to visit her home and learn more about her.
Before leaving Nauvoo we had to walk (Mack had my phone and took a ton of selfies and Lily pics) the "Trail of Hope" that leads from town down to the river where they began their trek west.  Along the way there are dozens of quotes that tell the thoughts and experiences of different individuals who took that path.  It is humbling to read of their faith and hope in the mists of the persecution, violence, and hatred that forced them to leave their beautiful homes.

I remember coming to Nauvoo as a child and seeing a big empty field where the temple stood before vandals burned it to the ground.  I love to see the temple standing there again; it is beautiful.  

We had a great day in Nauvoo but it ended in tears - Kate's eye got worse and worse and spread to the other eye.  We called her doc, bought eye drops (which of course she refused to try), and used a lot of hot rags but she wasn't feeling very well.  Then the dreaded dinner hour.  Finding a place to eat that makes everyone happy is nearly impossible.  We thought Chinese take-out would go over okay - not so much.  After 15 solid minutes of screaming we started praying Emily would cry herself to sleep.  No luck, but she eventually stopped and ironically ate lots of rice and sweet and sour chicken for dinner.

The next morning we went to  Carthage Jail where Joseph was killed.  Greg met Elder Bowler, a senior missionary, who we learned knew Greg's dad and uncle.  It was a little tender mercy for Greg to get to talk with him.  

 There is a special spirit in Carthage.  I love to listen as they retell the story of what happened there and to feel the witness that it is true.  Joseph was killed because he was a prophet of God; he gave up all to follow the direction of the Lord.  
 The missionary closed the door and took a picture of our family through the bullet hole in the door.  I hope my kids remember the feeling they had here.

We loaded up and headed to Hannibal...