Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Autumn Leaves

Over fall break I took some of the kids up the canyon so we could get outdoors and enjoy the colorful leaves and perfect weather that come with the change of seasons at this time of year.

The almost glowing brightness of the aspen trees was seriously breathtaking. I kept wanting to pull over and take pictures because around every bend was another burst of color. I fought the urge to load a bunch of the fallen leaves into the back of our suburban to scatter around our yard at home.

When we arrived at Cascade Springs we were surprised to see how crowded the parking lot was! Everyone was out enjoying the colors and the crisp air. We were a little disappointed to find that half of the trail was closed for repairs, but the boardwalks were open so we explored for a while, took a couple of pictures and then headed toward another canyon to take in the vibrant views there as well.

I love living in a place with changing seasons and autumn is by far my favorite of them all.

I don't know if it's because it's my favorite time of year that it seems to be so short, just a beautifully orchestrated colorful afterthought sandwiched between summer and winter. It's confusing at times with the heater kicking on in the early hours of the morning but welcoming that same crisp air into our home through open windows later in the day. Yet every year, before I realize what's happening, the winter cold creeps in and autumn... leaves.

We're going to enjoy the beauty of the earth in autumn and this awesome weather while we can.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Random Thoughts

Thanks, Curly. I needed that.

I was sitting in a line the other day when I overheard a conversation between two women. I didn't feel too bad eavesdropping because they were talking loud enough for everyone in the line to hear without even trying. One of them mentioned that she loved the idea of trying to say 'yes' to your children as much as possible. I started to think about that and I realized that I say 'no' to my kids far too often. I tend to be overprotective and, to be honest, lazy. Because usually when I say no it's because my involvement is required to do the thing they are asking. So last week I tried saying 'yes' more often and I noticed that my kids were (pleasantly) shocked by my response a lot of the time. Saying 'yes' does require my time and attention, but I think it's good for all of us in moderation.

Little O asked me if we could all go swimming and I said, "we'll see". I then overheard Curly whispering to him, "When Mom says we'll see or maybe that means no".  So I guess I need to work on not saying every form of no in my vocabulary. And I should probably get over my extreme discomfort over wearing a swimsuit in public as well. So much to work on! Baby steps.

I have no idea why, but at one point in my day last week I had an overwhelming desire to be walking along a beach with warm sand between my toes and a salty ocean breeze blowing through my hair. I went outside and walked up and down the block with Little X. But concrete sidewalks are nowhere close to sand and mountain winds, although exhilarating, are not salty breezes. ((Sigh))

Little X can sit and play with our plastic box full of toy cars for hours. He lines them up from the kitchen to the front door, races them across the slick kitchen floor, sorts them by color and creates conversations for them to have with each other ("You not a speedy car, Mis-toe Bwue!" "Well, I say-ud turn and go up and up but you dinnit yisten. So I AM a speedy car. Dwive away!")  All-a-Boy left his Lego collection upstairs for about a week and that kept X happily entertained for entire days, too. I love watching him effortlessly use his imagination.

Just over a month ago, I started texting. I can definitely see the benefits of it but I can confidently state that I prefer real conversations. Well, most of the time. There are some people that it is easier to just text with when I don't have the time for a long conversation. The sad thing is, I'm THAT friend. The one people would probably prefer to text with. If you've ever tried to call me for a quick conversation you know what I mean. So, win/win?

I don't know what it is about this time of year but it always makes me feel unsettled, like there's something I'm supposed to be doing that I'm not. I don't know if it has to do with the change of seasons or some repressed childhood memory or what. It's harder for me to fall asleep. I am constantly counting my children to make sure they're all there. I keep checking my calendar for missed appointments. I become overly sensitive and even easily offended. The only way I can think to describe it is that something feels just not quite right and I don't know why or what I can do about it.

Out of nowhere the other day I had a thought enter my mind: why do most people wait until they know they are dying to really make the most of every minute of life? I mean really, we're all one step closer to dying with each moment we're alive, right? I thought right then that I should always be doing the things that would really matter most to me. And when I thought long and hard about what those things were it all came down to spending time with my family and close friends, making happy memories and creating a legacy of love. I'm making a real effort to be better about how I spend my time.

When Little X asked if he and I could eat the rest of the pumpkin pie for lunch, I said yes right away. Baby steps!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Born To Be A Scout

For the last 17 years or so Allen has continuously been involved in our local scouting program.  He has been a scoutmaster, a Varsity Team leader and Venture Crew advisor, our local unit's Chartered Organization Representative, a member of the scout committee and has attended Wood Badge training. He is a counselor for a good variety of merit badges and has attended every annual week long summer scout camp since becoming involved, either as a leader or a father or just because they needed more adults there.

Allen is not only involved in scouting, he lives it. Have you ever heard of the Scout Law? It says, A Scout Is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent. That pretty much sums up how Allen lives his life. He is all of these things and then some. He has to be one of the most service-oriented, generous and unselfish people I know.

Because of Allen's dedication to the scouts he works with and to the scouting program overall, he has received a couple of awards, too. He is never excited about getting these awards because he is definitely not in it for the recognition, but he is very much deserving of them. He has received the District Award of Merit, the Provo Peak Award and, most recently, the Silver Beaver Award.

I know what you're thinking. What the heck is a Silver Beaver Award?

The Silver Beaver Award is the council-level distinguished service award of the Boy Scouts of America. Recipients of this award are registered adult leaders who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the council.The Silver Beaver is an award given to those who implement the Scouting program and perform community service through hard work, self sacrifice, dedication, and many years of service. It is given to those who do not actively seek it. (That last sentence is an overstatement as far as Allen is concerned.)

The award ceremony was held on a Saturday afternoon in September. Allen was planning to be there but he had also committed to go on a backpacking trip with Cowgirl and a group of young women from our church that weekend. The plan was that would make it home in time for the ceremony but eventually we realized he wouldn't be back in time. 

I didn't want to skip the award ceremony altogether, so I told All-a-Boy to get dressed in his scout uniform and we'd see if he could accept it on Allen's behalf.

They were happy to have him do so and he enjoyed wearing the Silver Beaver Award until Allen came home later that afternoon. Unlike Allen, All-a-Boy loved the attention.

I have mentioned before that Allen is a much more private person than I am. I hope that if he is reading this he is not embarrassed by all of this. However, because this blog is where I write about the goings-on in our family and it is the only organized record we have, I thought that this was important enough to be included. Also, I am kind of proud of all the good he does and I love that he was recognized for it.

Besides, it's not so bad to have to own your awesomeness every once in a while.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jokes For Kids: Halloween Edition

Halloween is definitely a favorite holiday around here. That means Halloween themed jokes in lunches for October! Here are our favorites.

Q:What is the problem with twin witches?
A: You never know which witch is which.

Q: What do you call two witches that live together?
A: Broom mates.

Q: What's a witch's favorite subject in school?
A: Spelling.

Q: What did the witch do when her broom broke?
A: She witch-hiked.

Q: Why didn't the skeleton go to the dance?
A: It had no body to go with.

Q: Who won the skeleton beauty contest?
A: No body.

Q: Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?
A: He didn't have the guts.

Q: Why can't skeletons play music in church?
A: They have no organs.

Q: Why did the skeleton cross the road?
A: To get to the body shop.

Q: Why can't ghosts tell ies?
A: You can see right through them.

Q: What does a ghost call his mom and dad?
A: His transparents.

Q: What do you get if you cross Bambi with a ghost?
A: Bamboo.

Q: Why don't ghosts like rain?
A: It dampens their spirits.

Q: Why do ghosts like to ride elevators?
A: It raises their spirits.

Q: What happens when a ghost gets lost in the fog?
A: He is mist.

Q: What do you get if you cross a vampire with a snowman?
A: Frostbite.

Q: Why was the vampire hard to get along with?
A: He was a pain in the neck.

Q: Why did the vampire flunk art class?
A: He could only draw blood.

Q: How are vampires like false teeth?
A: They both come out at night.

Q: What's a vampire's favorite fruit?
A: A necktarine.

Q: What kind of girl does a mummy take on a date?
A: Any old girl he can dig up.

Q: Why do mummies have so much trouble making friends?
A: They're all wrapped up in themselves.

Q: Why don't mummies take vacations?
A: They're afraid they'll relax and unwind.

Q: Why do mummies make excellent spies?
A: They're good at keeping things under wraps.

Q: Why is there a gate around cemeteries?
A: Because people are dying to get in.

Q: Why are graveyards noisy?
A: Because of all the coffin.

Q: How do you fix a broken jack-o-lantern?
A: With a pumpkin patch.

Q: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter?
A: Pumpkin pi.

Q: Why did the cyclops close his school?
A: He only had one pupil.

Q: Why did the scarecrow win the nobel prize?
A: He was out standing in his field.

Q: What happened to the cannibal who was late for dinner?
A: They gave her the cold shoulder.

Q: Why do you always find demons and ghouls together?
A: Demons are a ghoul's best friend.

Q: Why wasn't there any food left after the monster party?
A: Because everyone was a goblin.

Q: What happened to the guy who couldn't keep up payments to his exorcist?
A: He got repossessed.

Q: Did you hear about the zombie that lost his left arm and leg?
A: He's all right now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Bear

I think that the majority of the posts I write about Hubba have to do with his shenanigans. I wanted to make sure that the good things he does are equally represented. Take last week for instance... after a year of hard work (okay, mostly fun for a 9 year old boy), he earned his Bear badge in cub scouts.

When I asked what his favorite part of being in the Bear den was, he said that he loved day camp, especially making their own foam swords. He also loved having a Mentos party, where the scouts all got to make geysers with Mentos and soda. Hubba was excited to pass off the entire Family Fun section on our family trip this summer. The hardest thing he could think of in earning his badge was having to walk to scouts instead of getting a ride. That cracks me up since his scout leaders both live about a block from our house! He couldn't think of one requirement that he didn't enjoy - and I credit his awesome scout leaders with that.

Way to go, Hubba! We are so proud of your hard work!

 Does everyone do crazy cheers at pack meetings? We do.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our Little Free Library: Z Library

I heard about Little Free Libraries a couple of years ago and immediately knew it was something I wanted to do. I researched how they are built, how they work and where they are located (all over the world!). The more I discovered about them, the more I loved them. I especially loved the thought of having it be in memory of my friend Jason who was an amazing teacher with a contagious love for learning and books.

My sweet husband was the designer, architect and master builder of this beautiful piece of art that now stands in a corner of our yard. When I let others know that I was going to do this and mentioned that book donations were welcome, the response was overwhelmingly awesome. There were so many people who dropped books by or mailed them to me and I am so thankful to each one of you for your generosity and thoughtfulness! I ended up with 14 boxes full of a wonderful variety of books for kids, teenagers and adults.

Our friend Marc created, printed and donated book labels for every book. Whenever I told him we had run out of labels he would print more and bring them over. Thank you Marc!

Once Allen saw how many books were donated for the library he decided that two shelves were not enough. Instead of the typical library he designed a library with shelves in both the front and back.
I took pictures of it along the way, although not as often as I wanted.

And here's the view from the back of Z Library:

The only thing the library was lacking was a bench to make visitors feel even more welcome. Well, last week, by a series of small coincidences that could be a post in itself, we were given a bench for free by a total stranger. Allen has refinished it and it now sits beside the library for people to sit and peruse the books when they come to visit.

If you live nearby, please come visit our Little Free Library! Take a book, leave a book when you can, and don't forget to sign the guest book so we know you've been here. If you live not-so-close, we would love to have you come visit when you are in town or join the Z Library group on Facebook to stay updated on what's going on with our Little Library.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Idaho Times Two

Julia recently left us to attend college. The thing that makes her departure different from Allen the Younger's and Elle's is that she left the state. I'm proud of her for gaining some independence and leaving everything she knows and is familiar with but a teeny part of me just wishes she was still around to quote movies in every other breath and bake us cookies every other day. Okay, maybe a huge part of me. It was like taking her off to kindergarten all over again... but not really. Words aren't working right now, so let me tell you about our trip(s).

Julia had never been to BYU-Idaho, so Allen, Julia and I made a weekend trip to get familiar with the campus and community before the whole place is swarming with students. And I'll tell you what, THAT PLACE IS FANTASTIC. I want to go to school with her!

We were having such a grand time that I forgot to take pictures of the campus with its gardens and beautiful buildings and apple orchard and open spaces. But I came around once we were headed back to Idaho Falls for the evening.

We were told that we needed to go get some of the world's best ice cream at Reed's Dairy, so we did.  And it was.

We decided to take the long way home the next morning...

so we could see the Tetons...

and travel through a place that is dear to our hearts - Afton, Wyoming.

We had to stop at a playground behind a school where Allen's grandma used to live so he could play on the merry-go-round that has been there as long as he can remember.

I sure love these two!

Everything about the drive just spoke to me of the beauty of this earth. The weather was perfect and the scenery was gorgeous.

About a month later, Julia, Little X and I packed our 15 passenger van with her boxes, bags, suitcases, groceries and bike and made the 4+ hour trek once again. This time for real. My cousin Brenda let us sleep at her home that evening so we could get to the dorms first thing in the morning. It was so great to just sit and visit with Brenda and her daughter Katie and ask questions about what to expect for the first day, week and year at BYU-I.

I love both of these pictures of Brenda and I for different reasons. We both look nice here.

But this one fits our personalities better. I could just sit and laugh with her all day!

The next morning we fought the traffic heading into Rexburg (HOLY COW!) and found a parking spot about 2 blocks from her dorm. It all worked out for carrying everything in to her new place because there were so many random people just wanting to help! Little X and I got to meet Julia's roommates and their parents, help her with unpacking for most of the day and then turn right around and head back home. When it was time for her to go she gave me a hug, told me she loved me and then said, "Don't cry, Mom!" as she walked away. Well if that wasn't going to get the tears going I don't know what would!

And now, here we are with life continuing to happen all around us.  Julia's doing awesome and totally taking on life as a college student with all that she's got and loving every minute. She's an amazing human being who is a light everywhere she goes and I am a lucky, lucky human being to be able to call her mine.

Rock it, Julia! Remember to make each day your best day, ever.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Truth Is Out There

I love shopping at our local thrift store.  I especially enjoy finding interesting things there - vintage dresses, unique picture frames, books from my childhood or... Sasquatch.

You read that right.  A few months ago, Sasquatch was hanging out at a thrift store. He just stood there, frozen, not sure of what to do with all of these gawking locals.

If he was just going to just stand there, we did what every person would do with such an opportunity! We took pictures.

And then, to help him feel welcome here in our hometown, we found some props and did a little photo shoot.

We left him with some company when it was time for us to head home.

When we went back the next day to bring him some cookies, he was gone.