In between

Random pictures from this summer that never made the blog. . . till now.

My fridge right before we left for Utah
There was NOTHING in this house when we got back. I spent 3 days going to our favorite grocery stores to stock back up.

Sadie's haircut
I know everyone knows she got a haircut by now, but it's so cute and I'm so happy everything's the same length.

The Tyler's were in town when we got back which meant we got to see all our old neighbors a lot. We got to go out to dinner with all the old crowd and had a fun game night at our house. Brody and Sadie came over to play after church.
While the girls were playing Sadie turned to Sadie T and said, "It's fun being Sadies together." We can't wait for them to move back down the street!! One more year. . . One day Amy had all of us over for a swim day. I think there were something like 22 kids running around.

So yeah, I typed this up over a month ago and never published it. I guess I was going to write more? But I just need to get it up. I'm going through some weird nesting urge where I want to purge all the extras in my life and finish all my unfinished projects. Hopefully I'll get back to blogging more and get around to reading every one else's blogs now that summer is officially over.


The end of Vacation

I know it's been a month since we got back from vacation, but I joined the library so I spend pretty much all of my free time reading now.

On our way back from Utah, we stopped in Provo for 4 days to see Casey and Sarah (Dustin's brother and wife) and some of our old college friends. I'm a horrible person and I didn't take any pictures, so you get what I stole from Holly's facebook account.

While we were in Provo we did a lot of eating and shopping: Cafe Paesan (eh -- I'll give it a 3 out of 5), Tai Pan Trading (must go back when I wouldn't have to kick my kids out to fit everything I wanted into the car), BYU bookstore (where we spent enough money to fund an entire full ride scholarship), Chef's Table (where LaVell Edwards ate at the table next to us), Guru's (my kids were on vacation overload by this point) and my favorite of all, The Chocolate. You all know how I feel about dessert, so this place was pretty much heaven. We got dessert there THREE nights in a row. Slightly embarrassing, but it's a good thing don't live there. I'm so in love with the Kitty Katrina cake. So much so I had my sister overnight me some. I seriously need an intervention.

We also saw Toy Story 3, watched Sarah teach her class at BYU, went mini-golfing (only approved for children 5 & up we've decided), met up with Dirk and Vanessa at their loft, and played games with Casey and Sarah late into the night every night. My favorite game: Liebe & Intrige. I'm pretty sure someone will make a Jane Austen version of this game a make a fortune.

We always have so much fun with Casey and Sarah and I'm sad they're moving all the way to Texas :( It's always been fun to spend some time with them when we're up in Utah. I guess they'll just have to come to Arizona more often.

Friday night our friends the Casabars got babysitters for all 8 of our kids who then had a sleep over and the next day we got ready for a big BBQ with some of our old friends from the Union Square days. We had the most amazing friends right after we got married and we're all still friends today. The Stohls and Casabars both live in Utah, but our trip happened to coincide with the Pauls trip out from California. I was so excited because we haven't seen them in probably 3 years.

The girls (Sam, me, Holly and Megan)
Our handsome husbands (Damon, Dustin, Sean and Matt)Seriously, these people are *the* best. We had such a great time in college and I'm so lucky that we're all still friends. The best part is that our kids all love each other too! Future BYU roommates!
All of our kids
When we all get together, there is someone for everyone. I'm already trying to figure out a way to get us all back together again soon.

Needless to say, we didn't want to leave, but we needed to start the long drive back to Arizona, so we left in kind of a rush. Turns out we left Ellie's shorts, Nate's shirt annnnnd. . . Luke's blanket. That was fun to discover when we pulled into our hotel in Page at 11 pm. Nate was sweet enough to give Luke his blanket, but Dustin ended up sleeping with him in a chair all night. And by all night, I mean until 5:45 when he woke everyone up. At least we got an early start to the day. I think everyone was so exhausted they all passed out again in the car. We made it all the way to Anthem before we had to stop to use the bathroom. I should also mention our air conditioning stopped working somewhere along the way as we drove into the 110 degree heat and Dustin had to leave on a business trip the next day. But at least we were home.


Wide Open Spaces

Yes, right after we drove from Arizona all the way to Idaho (with a few fun stops on the way), we got back in the car and headed to Wyoming. We're crazy, but it was totally worth it.

My mom and Kristine have a childhood friend, Dee, who has a raft and offered to take our families down the Snake River. If you've ever gone rafting out of Jackson (Hoback Junction) you'll know what I'm talking about.

The first trip down the river was Dee, the big kids, me, my bro and sis and our spouses, while my parents and Aunt and Uncle stayed with all the babies (a 3 month old, a 5 month old and a 12 month old) and Sadie and Allie (I think we owe them big time). All the kids ready to go! Nate did not like the strap that went through is legs, but SAFETY FIRST.Here I am demonstrating to the kids what to do if they fall over and need us to rescue them. After last year's parasailing incident, we've learned to prepare for "This will never happen. . ." situations.

The kids did really well, especially at first when the rapids were pretty tame. As we started hitting some bigger ones and taking in water, Nate got a little scared. We switched him from the front, where he was getting the full force of the water, to the middle and I'm so glad we did. Right after that we hit lunch counter and we hit it hard. My brother was in the front and almost, fell out, Nate bounced back and my sister in law Amy grabbed him on his way out of the boat all the while the rest of us were trying to paddle us out. I think that scared him pretty badly, but he managed to put on a brave face for the rest of the run.

After we finished, we switched off and the moms stayed with the little ones, plus Nate who decided he didn't want to go down again. I couldn't blame him. So off we sent the next group Meanwhile, we had set up camp in a nice shady spot where the kids could run around and play while we ate.Nate decided to go "hiking." He left a juice box in case he couldn't find his way back. Unfortunately he left his juice box right by where we were sitting and really did get lost back in the woods and couldn't find us.

After the last group went and everyone had eaten we decided to head home via Jackson. There was a really bad accident so the traffic was horrific, but we did manage to hit the Alpine Slide.
I was surprised none of my kids freaked out going up the ski lifts since they've never been on one before. I really need to get those kids skiing! Nate was mainly concerned about losing his shoes -- which is funny because I remember worrying about the same thing as a kid.

We finally made it home just in time to pack up the cars and get everyone ready for Yellowstone the next morning. After a few too many days in the car and not enough naps, I decided Luke and I should stay home for him to get some sleep, so I don't know much about what happened up there.

They spent the night in cabins right by Old Faithful
Allie and Sadie were in love with the little bear soaps and made little houses for them out of tissues.
Fishing on the Shoshone

Plus the normal Yellowstone fun, like stink pots and wild life! One morning they got to see a wolf come and kill a buffalo, and then a mama bear come and scare the wolf off so she could feed her little bear cubs. Not many people can say they've seen that!


Feels like Heaven

Pulling into my Grandparents' house in Idaho is what I imagine arriving in Heaven will feel like. There is so much peace and love in that little corner of Idaho. My Grandparents have both passed away, but my Aunt Kristine and Uncle Dave have done the most amazing job making it feel just like the place I visited every summer of my childhood.

Some things that are constants in Idaho:

The hot tub
Unfortunately, one night we were out there with Kyle and Kathleen when we noticed the water level was freakishly low. There was a break in one of the pipes, so our claim to fame is that we broke the hot tub.

Paper dolls
Kyle worked and worked on a doll house for them, including a shingled roof over the bay window, which Luke destroyed. So there's no pictures.

The Trampoline
The tramp we grew up with is long gone, so we were begging my mom to get a new one. My parents refused, but my Aunt and Uncle had a surprise for all of us.

Amazing fireworksWe do fireworks almost every night, including tank wars.

Lots of old family friends
Ellie got to take tennis lessons from the State Tennis Champ (and someone I've known since she was a baby), Meg Matsura. Cutest ball boy ever:

Zach, Matt, Allie, Livy, Sara. . .we love you!

Painting rocks
As always Kathleen comemerated the summer with a Nate rock. Last time it was Cheesey Worms, this summer was Nate's bum crack. Nate was a little over tired so he didn't think it was as funny as the rest of us. This will hopefully explain why there are no pictures.

Family pictures
Zebra and hot pink -- we weren't going for classic -- but AHHH! Those kids are so cute.
Lots of good food
Every morning Dave would make a feast for breakfast and the most amazing dinners. Square steak (family tradition), Thanksgiving dinner, burgers. . . and Luke's favorite: ribs. f you've ever done a large family vacation, you know how nice it is to have some one who WANTS to cook dinner every night.

Sadie and Kyle eating some of the 240 cookies I made (on top of all the other sweets: s'mores, brownies, gooey butter cake, ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, rice krispie treats, root beer floats. . . ) My Grandma always had the cookie jar stocked and I didn't want to disappoint. Next time I'll have to squeeze in cinnamon rolls and Bonnie Butter cake.

Sadie was not a fan. She preferred driving the 4 wheeler.
Food from the garden
Sadie was in heaven! Radishes, onions, lettuce, carrots. . . Nate loved salad straight from the garden for dinner.

Plus all the extra stuff: Taco Wagon, El Mirador, croquet, the park, sidewalk chalk, sleep overs at my parents cabin across the street (thanks for having all the big kids at your house), walks to the cemetery, runs by the lake. . . Does this not sound like heaven?

And this year we added some extra fun activities: Yellowstone and White Water Rafting (which will get their own blogs)

I'm so grateful to Dave and Kristine for all the effort they went to to make this trip magical and for hosting us all. And I feel so lucky that everyone in my family makes it a priority to get together every year and make these fun family memories. We love you guys (and can't wait for the beach next year)!

Back to School

Quick break in the vacation blogs (which I now have pictures for) to put up some pictures from the beginning of the school year.This year we started on Monday, July 26th. When I was a child, I probably would have died if you had told me that I only got 7 weeks of summer, but it really seems to work out here in Arizona. The kids gets lots of playing, we travel and then right before boredom and being sick of each other sets in, the kids go back while we all still like each other.

Nate started Kindergarten and he was incredibly aloof about the whole thing. He didn't talk about it or act scared or excited. At Meet the Teacher he sort of nodded at her and walked aimlessly around the room. He would ask Ellie things like, "What if I can't find the bathroom?" And he did mention he was scared everyone would forget his name, but he knew he had 2 friends already in his class, so that eased a lot of fears.

The actual first day was a different story. You could tell he was really nervous in the pictures. As my sister puts it -- he's not actually smiling, just showing his teeth. Example:
On the way to school
When we got to school he was very quiet and I left him with Dustin so I could go take Ellie over to her line.

Ellie was having fun as she saw all her old friends, like her BFF Lindsay,until I told her I needed to go back to Nate. That's when the water works began. I felt so bad leaving her, especially since she didn't really know anyone in her class, but (her other BFF) Hailey's mom let her come stand in line with them until school started.
When I got back Nate was grinning and running around playing. I guess he fell and hurt himself and came to Dustin crying, but then he saw Jackson and everything got better. He was much more confident and helped him figure out where to put his back pack and then they took off playing. They had all the parents leave the Kindergarten area a few minutes before they went in, hoping for less waterworks and it worked for us. Nate just walked right in without a tear. I even managed not to cry knowing he was so happy. It probably helped that instead of coming home we had a jam packed day (grocery store, Back to School Brunch with friends, lunch/naps, the gym).

The second day went much better, even though poor Ellie had homework starting the first day. Nate s doing great not crying or whining about going to school, but he did have to pull a stick on the third day (for touching someone in line) AND the fourth day (for not paying attention). Friday was a better day and hopefully everything will go smoothly next week.