Thursday, November 29, 2012

When Cousins Get Together

When cousins get together, they play all day.  All day!  They color pictures and draw cartoon characters.

When cousins get together, they make schedules just to make sure they don't forget which fun activity comes next.  (I'm especially fond of #7: random stuff.  That must be what is pictured at right.)

When cousins get together, they spend most of the day outside--especially if you are one of the boy cousins.  They play lots of basketball and football and think it's the most fun they've ever had, even when certain cousins don't show their finest sportsmanship.

When cousins get together, they play games like Lover's Leap.  We lined them up in height order and partnered a big cousin with a smaller one.  This game may have been my favorite cousin moment of the whole weekend.  I laughed hard.  And it was just too perfect with the numbers and sizes of our cousins.

Caleb didn't quite get the right "Lover's Leap" hold on Owen.  Thank goodness Owen loves Caleb enough to tolerate the wedgie.  

"chicken on a roof"

"bunk beds"

"Eiffel tower"

"Typewriter"and "Fire hydrant"

When cousins get together, they also play games like Spoons.

When cousins get together, they pose for pictures; which means that they link arms around shoulders.  It's kind of like an unwritten rule.  Wow, these boys are getting big!

When cousins get together, they eat.  A lot!

They eat guts...

 How adorable is Ian?

...and spaghetti.  They all love spaghetti!

There's just no dainty way to eat it.  You gotta just slurp it in.

And they eat Dilly bars, too.

Is there anything better than getting together with cousins?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions

Tradition says that we go to Montana for Thanksgiving.  I like traditions.  I like going to Montana.

The feast is wonderful every year and the noisy crowd of cousins is music to my ears.

Tradition says the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning will be cold.  Really cold.  Christopher and I have done the 10k two years in a row.  I guess you could say that's part of the tradition now.  It's the only 10k I run all year.

Tradition says that our Thanksgiving dinner has all of the trimmings.  And we eat 'til we're stuffed.  Stuffed!

The big boys ate at the adult table because the other 10 cousins filled the "kid table" to capacity.

Tradition says that the variety of pies will accomodate everyone's favorite.  Mine is pumpkin.

This is the pie-maker (and roll-maker and pretty much most-of-the-meal-maker):

I sure appreciate her efforts.

Tradition says that Grandpa will make hotcakes every morning for breakfast.  Unless you're Caleb or Maureen and you prefer french toast.  He'll offer you your choice of breakfast beverage, too.  And if you're Caleb, he'll even put ice in your cup.  The hotcakes are special and the syrup is piping hot and thin as water.

It's funny that all of my pictures of Grandpa show him sitting down.  That's really misleading because tradition says that he cleans up all the grandkid messes and does a lot of dishes and cooking.  He also takes the kids to Exploration Works.  And plunges toilets.

Christopher helped a lot with the dishes, too:

He's kind of a Mr. Fix-it.  He helped replace the forty-year-old thermostat.  Or was it even older than that?  Here's Mr. Fix-it's wife modeling the relic:

Tradition says that I go shopping.  I'm not usually a shopper but with sales tax-free shopping opportunities, shopping is a must!  I've never braved the stores on Black Friday, but on Thanksgiving night, the kids were off swimming and Jon and Christopher went to the movies, so Emily and I decided to "just go see" what was happening at the stores.

(the contents are blurred so that no surprises will be ruined.)

We stayed out 'til midnight and bought sacks full of goodies.  Such fun!

Tradition says that the cousins will have the time of their lives and build fond memories together.  

Many more cousins pictures to come...

Tradition says that we put up the Christmas tree right when we get home from our Thanksgiving trip.  

And that's how we do Thanksgiving.  Because tradition says so.  And because it's just the way we like it.

Monday, November 19, 2012


He came home from church and hung his truck keys on the key rack.  Then he instinctively searched his suit pockets for his church keys before remembering that those Bishop's keys--both physical and spiritual--had just been passed to someone else.

It was an emotional day for sure, a closing of a major chapter in our family's life.  But after nearly 5 1/2 years of diligent service, the time had come for Jon to be released from his calling as Bishop.

The growth we experienced as a family is remarkable, truly an amazing blessing.  Those five-and-a-half years held some of our family's most difficult trials, but we learned a great deal about faith, prayer and the love of our Savior.  Our young children grew older as their father grew to become an amazing leader.  He carried a mighty heavy mantle with such faith and humility.  I'll forever be grateful for the example he showed our children of willing service in the Kingdom of God.

Our children were so young when Jon was called, they scarcely remember life before Dad was the bishop.  On the way to church, Natalie said, "I'm excited to sit by Daddy at church.  I haven't done that my whole life!"  But they loved seeing Dad on the stand.  The older kids loved that interviews with the bishop were interviews with Dad.  His office felt like home to them.  They'll miss that.  However, we all look forward to more time with Dad, especially on Sundays.

It was a long and most wonderful journey.  We each feel privledged to have had the opportunity to travel it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Birthday Wrap-up

It was quite the birthday week.  With two posts already devoted to our special days, adding another might seem like overkill--and it probably is--but these are moments that need to be captured.

I must admit that it warmed my heart that Alyssa would choose my cooking over any restaurant for her birthday meal.  It might just be that her special diet has made eating out a little less enjoyable, but when the menu is hers for the choosing, the decision is easy: Mom's clam sauce.

(And GF Oreos for dessert.)

She was pretty spoiled this year with some new clothes from us, money from her grandparents and a new iPod touch from her other grandparents.

As for my birthday, Jon did a really great job.  (How sweet was that birthday post?)  He is a thoughtful man, but often at random times.  His thoughtfulness doesn't necessarily coincide with special occasions.  This year, however, he coordinated his thoughtfulness and my birthday beautifully.

We had lunch at my favorite restaurant where he then presented me with a new iPhone!  I was perfectly content with my Stone Age flip phone, but I will admit that it's been fun to have something a little more "modern."  Our waitress--who is practically a good friend now because we are her regulars--saw me open my phone and said, "Oh good, you're not dumb anymore."  (Although I must still be dumb because it took me a minute to get that she was implying that my new smart phone would make me smarter. :))

I tried out my phone's camera right away:

Later that night, Jon and I got to go on a youth temple trip with Caleb and Alyssa.  Caleb's long had a love of the temple and Alyssa now understands why.  She can't wait to go back.

 My birthday fun continued on Friday night, when Jon took me into the city for an authentic Italian dinner followed by an authentic Broadway show.  See what I mean? So thoughtful.  So awesome!

And for the grand birthday week finale, we had Alyssa's birthday party with a few of her favorite friends.  It was rather difficult to schedule since she is at the gym every night, but thanks to Veteran's day, we were able to have her party during the day on Monday at Trampoline Nation.

The girls had a blast!

Hailey K., Alyssa, Trinity and Jasmine with Karlei doing tricks in the background.

Church friends: Rachel, Linsey, Emily and Lydia

Nat doing flips

Lys with buddies from the old gym--Hailey and Jasmine.  Love these girls!

Amari, Linsey, Emily, Rachel, Jasmine, Hailey C., Karlei, Alyssa, Hailey K. and Trinity.  Natalie and Lydia were off to get a drink

Lys chose purple and black for her colors.  I got to the party room to set up and was delighted to see that the walls were purple.  How perfect is that?

We had pizza and an ice cream sundae bar.  It was a perfect birthday party!

I think it's safe to say that we've both been sufficiently celebrated.  Two very happy birthdays, indeed!