Monday, February 20, 2017

Our visit to Hardware Ranch

Although March is right around the corner, I need to jump back a few weeks to when our friend Michael came to see us! I feel like, at this point, he doesn't need an introduction. To those faithful few who still visit our blog (bless you, friends!), you will remember that he is Mia's Dad. He was our neighbor in Germany 10 years ago when I first began writing on my blog! I can't believe my blog is almost 10!

He was in town and, lucky for us, set aside a Saturday for us to spend time together. Andrew had the idea to head North, toward Logan, Utah. Michael has been to Utah many times, but this was his first time traveling north of the Ogden area. We stopped and walked around the Logan temple and then headed to a place called Mortys for lunch. Morty's was recommended to us by friends and I have to say that we all loved it. Jumping back in the car, we made our way to Hyrum, Utah and then up toward Hardware Ranch.

I mentioned this on instagram, so forgive the repeat, but when Andrew and I were dating we would sometimes drive up various canyons in search of elk. Andrew loves to observe wildlife; elk being his favorite. Hardware Ranch is a place designed to keep the elk fed during the winter time. It initially began as a way to keep the elk from migrating down into farming territory and grazing there. So if you can, imagine Andrew's joy when we arrived and saw 700 elk together in one place!

I have to say I was surprised at how many people were there! Who knew that a sleigh ride into a field of elk would appeal to so many people! I owe my surprise to the fact that this experience costs money and also requires a rather long wait in line for the sleigh ride. I am sure if you arrived earlier in the day, the wait would be minimal; but for us, we stood out there for an hour and a half. By the time we made it on to the sleigh, we were popsicles.  Looking back, I shouldn't complain. The kids were well behaved and half way through the wait, Andrew surprised us all by busting out a thermos of hot chocolate.

The only hiccup came when I noticed that Forrest needed to go to the bathroom. When I suggested that he go with his dad to find a bush, he resisted. As I said, it was cold and I don't think he wanted to go through the hassle of taking off each layer. Also, the crowd of people might have made him think there would be zero privacy. We were nearing the front of the line and I had a feeling that if he procrastinated going to the bathroom, he would declare an emergency just as we were getting onto the sleigh.

Suddenly I had a thought. "Forrest!" I said with excitement. "Guess what will happen if you go pee pee on the snow?" He stopped fussing as he looked up at me with sudden interest, "What, Mama?" Smiling down at him I shamelessly explained, "It will make the snow turn yellow! Do you want to see that happen?" That's all it took. He and Andrew walked off to find their special spot for him to turn the snow yellow. Knowing that we had avoided a real problem, I was likewise "relieved." Ha, get it?

Finally, it was time to climb into the sleigh! It was interesting to learn about the ranch and the elk. I enjoyed cuddling up with the kids as we took our ride talked about our observations. Having had weeks of serious snow storms, we felt lucky to have enjoyed this outing on a lovely, clear day.
On our drive back home, we stopped by Cafe Rio (one of Michael's favorites). After eating dinner at our house, we played Pie Face, listened to Michael play piano, Henry play violin and enjoyed a game of charades. Michael is more than our friend. We do our best to emulate Michael and Johanna. Their advice and opinions matter a lot to us. Any opportunity we have to be with the Auras family is a real blessing. Looking back these past ten years, it's a small miracle or a tender mercy, if you will, that our families have been able to stay close.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monster Snow Storms


Here she is, in all her frozen glory. Our backyard!

I spy, with my little eye, a pretty horse!

"Hey you want to build a snowman?"
Andrew has been busy creating some of the best memories of his children's childhood.
When he is in this mode, I do my best to give him room to create, 
try and ignore the giant mess 
he sometimes usually makes
and see what I can do to make myself useful 
(such as: I document said memories and make the hot chocolate).

In case you missed my last ten posts,
we are in the midst of enjoying an incredibly snowy Winter. 
When these storms coincide with a weekend,
magic happens (while household chores/projects go undone).

First came the sledding hill.
Following that, came the igloo.
Each activity required hours of his time.
The days following their completion, he continues to make adjustments...
We cover up his true motive by saying what an adoring and doting Father he must be.
But really, what I think it is (wink, wink); Andrew never grew up. :)
(which is why Daddy and Forrest get along so well!)

Up first is the sledding hill:

If the snow is fresh and fluffy, the kids aren't required to wear helmets.
On days when it's icier, they are. 
Off topic for a moment,
last week we had a big storm.
Henry came home from school and, without being asked,
volunteered to shovel the driveway. 

Love him.

I have no idea where his work ethic comes from.
Oh wait, yes I do. 
This past Saturday, Andrew decided to gather the dozen moving boxes
that he felt inclined to save (we have had them in our basement for five+ years)... 
to help him create an outdoor igloo.
It makes him happy when his hoarding tendencies evolve into something cool.
It wasn't long until he ditched the coat and was working in short sleeves.
He was drenched by the time he finally came in. 
Since then, he has removed the boxes and all other "supports" because it's frozen solid.
He assures me it is super safe. 

We don't mind January too much, eh?
A quick note about Eliza:
This girl mailed in the money earned from this year's bear sale.
She raised $525.00
Her Aunt, Liz Green, showed her video to her activity day girls in NYC.
They decided to do a fundraiser to help send kids to school too.
Their combined totals was enough to send 19 kids to school!!
As I said on instagram,
Many thanks to those hands that helped us sew,
for those who purchased bears and cheered us on another year.

And last but not least,
I have to highlight one Henry's best friendships.
Scarlett has been his pal since Kindergarten.
This year, they have become even better friends.
They spend most every recess together.
He keeps me up to date on Scarlett's life:
"She was checked out early today to go skiing, Mom!" or
"She got braces. I hope they don't hurt her too much."
They exchanged Christmas gifts this year too.
It is so sweet.
When she accepted our invitation to come sled, Henry was all smiles.
The doorbell rang and as the younger kids announced  that she was at the door,
he couldn't even go to greet her because he was struggling to wipe the goofy grin
(read: the cutest smile I have ever seen!)
off his face!

Despite his younger siblings fighting for her attention,
I think they had a total blast.

Also, Scarlett has a super cool Mom.
She is so great and I feel lucky that I get to visit with her while they play.
It's a win/win situation, if you ask me!

Here are a few videos of some of these crazy, winter productions:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Chasing those January Blues Away

There will likely come a point where I grow weary of winter. Some people are already there. They are done with the cold and are in pursuit of a sign of Springtime. And while I understand where they are coming from, I am still enjoying the beauty of the snow. I check the weather forecast throughout the day, keeping my eye on approaching storms. I plan my grocery trips around them and other family outings. To be clear, I hate driving in the snow. If I had to commute in it, I would be singing a much different tune. 

While passing through these cold months, I prefer the beauty of the snow to muddy, wet brown hills and soggy patches of grass. This season has been good to us. The children have had ample opportunity to outfit themselves in their winter gear and play until they've frozen themselves into human popsicles. I feel that January has a bad reputation so my intention today is to highlight some of the fun things we've been up to.

Forrest had the opportunity to bring home "Little Lamb" for a few days.
It was his job to keep his preschool pet entertained and cared for.
He was eager to give Lambie a ride around our backyard. 

They also had story time inside of Forrest and Lottie's tent!

Another positive from January is that we had a five day weekend because
the end of the school term coincided with Martin Luther King day!
That weekend, Aunt Katie and Bubba invited us to go to Utah's Natural History Museum.
It isn't a billed as a "children's museum" so I didn't know know what to expect. 
We nearly didn't go; which would have been sad because everyone had such a great time.
It's a neat place with lots of cool things to see and do. 
Thanks to Bubba and Aunt Katie for inviting us.
It's always fun to make memories with cousins.

A few weekends ago, I dropped all four my children off at the church for a
Primary pancake breakfast party!
It was surreal to drive home by myself.
I find myself alone in the car more and more.
To be honest, I am not sure if I love it or hate it.

Eliza will be in young women's next year,
so yes, I am trying to enjoy this sweet chapter of having the four of them in Primary together.

We said "Goodbye" or I guess I should say, "Aloha" to our sweet neighbors
Miss Nancy and Mr. Scott. They left to serve a mission in Hawaii! 
We already miss them a lot. 
They are such a special part of our community and ward family. 
When my water broke with Forrest, they were the ones we called until our parents could arrive.
The same thing happened when Andrew was in his car accident. 
They love our children so well and will be dearly missed!
We found Forrest asleep with Henry's Tweedle Dee hat on.
It gave us a laugh.
I like this picture because he looks like he is having a happy dream.
Eliza's instagramming more and more.
I liked this photo she took from the back seat of our car while on her way to Nana's house.

Speaking of Eliza, her love of Harry Potter hasn't dimmed since completing the books.
While going through my mail the other day, I found this tucked in between the envelopes. 
If you can, enlarge the photo and read her headlines. 
They look intriguing, yes?! Ha ha!

I also discovered Henry's New Year's resolutions for 2017.
If I had to choose one word or phrase to describe Henry it would be,
"Pure in Heart." 
He is an incredible son.  

And here's another one of Eliza's recent photos from insta.
She is likewise so special.