Friday, August 27, 2010


Brandon has been monkeying around with our computers, trying to extract this and sync that (I don't really know what he's doing and I try to stay out of it), but in the process I now have a gajillion more pictures in my iphotos - including a bunch of his disgusting work photos.  I will spare you the grossest, because they really are obscene, but I thought I'd share this one little gem just to give you an idea of the depth and breadth of urology.

Most people think urologists are just good for UTI's (bladder infections) and kidney stones, but the truth is, urology is one of the broader specialties covering all sorts of interesting stuff.  Prostate cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, penile cancer, kidney stones, bladder stones, female incontinence, ED, vasectomies, and infertility just to name a few of the things most people would recognize.  Then there's the weird stuff.  Weird stuff.  You can't even imagine the variety of conditions associated with bladders, kidneys, prostates, and especially the male reproductive system.  And urologists cover all that weirdness. 

Take for example this carrot extraction.  Foreign objects are always a matter of great entertainment in the O.R. I am told.  In fact, during residency at the University of Iowa, the residents had a special shelf in the residents room where they kept their "trophies".  There was a old championship bowling ring, electrical wiring from a fish tank, various sorts of writing instruments, straws and other non-perishables.  In the case of this picture, that would be a carrot at the top of the scope Brandon is holding. 

I hope this isn't TMI.  I'm just always surprised at how little people know about what a urologist actually does.  I sure didn't know.  

It is a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.  (And you don't want that guy from "Dirty Jobs" showing up for your surgery.)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to School (sort of)

Editor's note: One of these days I'm going to read Sarah's tutorial on blog headers and figure things out once and for all.  In the meantime, I know things are smooshed. Oh, well.

Yesterday was Kate's first day of middle school.  She was nervous, but not as bad as I thought she would be - considering.  The school was nice enough to plan a private first day for seventh graders, so they could do all their fumbling around - schedules in hand - without worrying about upper classmen pointing and laughing at them.  Isn't that nice?  Then the 7th graders stayed home today while the 8th and 9th graders had their own first day.  The elementary school started today too, so that's two first days in a row for me, with two "Back to School" events yesterday as well.  One from 2-4, the other from 5-7.  We've been a little busy here.

After getting Kate off yesterday, I had the strangest morning.  It was so . . . normal.  I unloaded the previous night's dishes and cleaned up breakfast, did a load of laundry after picking up a bit, finished getting ready, ran some errands with the little kids.  It felt strangely familiar, like my old life before the move.  I kind of liked it!  A life with some semblance of routine and order.   Ahhhh.

I was still at the "Back to School" event at the elementary school, trying to get Will set up for orchestra, when Kate called to say she was ready to be picked up.  I was SO relieved to hear she had a good day.  She is such a little Hermione.  I have been so worried about her not having any friends and thinking how hard that would be starting Jr. High.  But that's because I was a social butterfly, and certainly not as comfortable with myself as Kate is with herself.  I was always looking for validation from other people based on all the shallowest of things, and it's a wonder I did as well as I did in school considering how much my brain was focused on myself and how I looked, who I was hanging out with, etc.

But not Kate.  When I asked her how her day was, she said "great!" and when I asked her why, she said it was because she has really great teachers and she found her way to all her classes.  That's it.

Sometimes we transfer way more of ourselves and our issues onto our kids than we should, and I find I do this with Kate more often than not. And Kate is NOT me. Kate is her own perfect self.  Here she is heading out yesterday morning:

I also got a picture of her working on opening her locker, but she made me delete it! (She's not totally immune to insecurities . . .)

After a little break, we turned around and went to Kate's "Back to School" thingy where we got to meet all 8 of her teachers, see her locker, sign up for more stuff I don't have time for (that happened at the elementary school as well), and then because of the time of day, we went to Barbacoa for dinner.  (I'll never complain when we go out to dinner, even if I do like to cook.  It's the clean up that bugs!)

The BEST part of the day was when Kate, Will, Elizabeth and I biked about three miles round trip past the middle school and back home again, the sun setting on the mountains, crickets calling, sprinklers going off and shining in the sun everywhere, kids out playing in the streets, American flags flying all over the place, people waving to us from their cars.  I hate to admit it, but it really does feel safer here.  Safer, slower, saner - like life in America 50 years ago, but with ipods and Vans.  Kate and Will took off ahead of us about half way back, and I didn't even think twice about it.  Every place has it's issues to be sure, but there's a "niceness" here I can't quite put my finger on.  (Could it just be all those darn Mormons?)

Today wasn't so "nice".  Well, it started off nice.  Brandon and I walked the two middle kids the short distance to the elementary school for their first day.  Everyone seems to have really great teachers and the facilities at both schools are phenomenal.  Having grown up in the mid-west going to school in ancient brick boxes, these schools are amazingly nice and new.  Here they are in their first day duds:

(Other than Elizabeth's shirt that I picked up at the mega-grocery store, no one had any new shoes, clothes, or backpacks to speak of.  I don't know what is happening to me as I get older - am I getting lazier, less sentimental, or just more practical?)

Brandon took Will, and it turned out he didn't need any "tucking in", so neither of us got any other pictures of him, but I couldn't resist peeking into Elizabeth's room while she was lining up outside with her class.

Once those two were settled, I was feeling the "Back to School" love and whipped up a batch of Rice Krispies for an after school snack before Kate, Rachael and I took off to go do the dreaded deed: jean shopping. Kate hates shopping even more than I do, but since she is growing up and doesn't always fit or like what I bring home, I told her she HAD to go with me to try the dumb things on.  What a day we had.  In addition to the joy of mall culture (man, do we love making fun of the LAME expressions on the models faces!), the highlight was when she was standing over a toilet getting ready to throw up while I was using the teeny tiny toddler potty in the family restroom we were using.

Now it's 11pm, and poor Kate is here in bed next to me after throwing up TWELVE times today!  Brandon gave her an oral anti-naseau medication which she threw up, so he called in and picked up another type of anti-nauseau medication taken the OTHER way if you know what I mean.  (Serious perks to a doctor in the house.)  Kate was so desperate she did it.  That was about 2 hours ago, but she still threw up about 15 minutes ago.  I feel so bad for her.  Tomorrow is the first "real" day with all three grades and I'm sure TONS of information from the teachers, but there is no way she can make it.  She is going to be so weak and tired tomorrow. Poor girl!

But we did score some great jeans at Express for only twelve bucks . . .

Monday, August 23, 2010

Last Day of Summer

It might not seem like it, but this picture represents why I am TOAST tomorrow morning - the first day of school.  We are on a really late schedule at our house right now, and it doesn't help when this little cutie has a sleepless night of nightmares and ends up snoozing in my bed until 9:30am!!  (That's when I took this picture.) To make matters worse, we stopped by the elementary school last night to see the class and schedule posts, and it turns out my kids will be schedule A: 8 AM start time . . . YIKES!!!

See that cute little blue eye peeking out from Elizabeth's cheek?  That's my vintage 1978 Sindy doll, recently unearthed in the move, and Elizabeth has fallen in love with her.  I wish I still had some of the furniture and cute little outfits.  Sindy beats the tar out of Barbie in my opinion.  Cuter and WAY classier. (Check out this classic commercial of Cindy Brady selling the Sindy doll!)  I'm tempted to get another one on ebay as a Christmas present - one that hasn't had her hair put in a high ponytail for the last 30 years, making it impossible to do anything but stand straight up in a bun.  Elizabeth doesn't seem to mind though.  It's so fun to have little girls.  Speaking of which, next picture please . . .

Could she be any cuter?  I'll admit, letting her manuever her own cart around the store while I'm trying to do serious grocery shopping takes a bit of time and often causes a tantrum or two, but this time around she was very mature about her responsibility.  She was taking her job VERY seriously, throwing stuff in left and right, with a look on her face like she was THE STUFF!

No cute picture, but since I'm talking about the girls, now that Kate officially starts middle school TOMORROW we did the unthinkable: we got her a cell phone.  And I have to admit, I'm so glad we did.  Just today, three cute girls in the neighborhood came by and invited her to walk about a mile and a half away to get shaved ice at Snoasis (my new favorite treat - can't believe I've lived almost 39 years without trying this stuff!), and we had some friends coming by "soon" from California, so guess what?  I CALLED her once they got here to let her know I was on my way to pick her up, and to make sure she was still there and not on the road.  Nice!  I do wish there had been cell phones around when I was a teenager.  There were gobs of times when I would have been thrilled and relieved if I'd had the ability to call or text my parents, and I'm sure they would have been as well!  (Then there's that nice little GPS feature in case the phone gets "turned off" accidentally . . . not too worried about that yet.)

I've had that usual end of the summer feeling: bittersweet.  Every new school year means my children are growing up and away, and with Kate going to middle school, and Elizabeth going all day as a first grader, it's an especially bittersweet year.  It will just be me and Rachael for the next FOUR YEARS until she is an all day first grader.  Wow.  (You know that's bittersweet too.)  I thoroughly summertime when all my little munchies are under one roof - making our own plans, being on our own schedule, bonding with each other in ways we don't during the school year.  This summer has been especially sweet that way.  Since they haven't really made any new friends yet, and we've spent so much time "on the road", they've really learned to rely on each other for friendship.  Despite their age differences, I've watched them work and play together all summer long, and I've been holding on to every single minute, wondering when it's going to come to an end.  I'm afraid this might be the year.  I mean, can a 13-year-old middle schooler really still have fun with her 9-year-old brother?  I hope I'm wrong.  I thought it would come to an end after the summer she was 10, so maybe they really have built bonds to last through the teen years.  We'll see, I guess.

This last week has pretty much pushed us all over the edge, though.  The kids have been gravitating way too much to the screens, complaining of boredom, it's getting harder for me to get myself (let alone them) motivated to have both fun and productive days . . . it's time!  Today really cinched the deal: a botched trip with all four kids to the shoe store coming home empty handed, and getting lost and being a half hour late to the county health clinic for Hep A shots complete with tears, screaming and complaining about "arm cramps" for the next hour.  

Tomorrow there will be a collective sigh (and probably a few tears) from mothers all over Utah County as our dear little darlings start another blessed year of public school.  

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Power of Moms Retreat

Remember that Power of Moms Retreat I went to back in June?  (I wrote about it here.)  Well, there's going to be another one in September and it's going to be in a pretty amazing location: on the beach at Dana Point.  (Click here to find out all about it.)  I'd be there in a heartbeat if it weren't for the fact that our family desperately needs to stop moving around for awhile, and - more importantly - it's the weekend of my oldest daughter's 13th birthday!

So if you can, set some money aside, get a friend, and get yourself there.  April is going to be debuting her ultra M.O.M system (Mind Organization for Moms), and let me tell you, it really is the ultimate in organization for moms.  It's based on the best selling book, "Getting Things Done", which I've read and it's a great system, but April has tailored the concepts in the book especially for moms rather than business people, AND she's condensed it down so that it's super easy to implement and follow.  She even came up with a one page visual for the entire system which I think is pretty impressive considering all the moving parts.  (Maybe she doesn't want me to share this, but that visual was born on the bathroom floor early one morning at the last retreat.  She and I were rooming together and she woke up super early with this picture in her head and wanted to write it down without waking me up.  When I did get up, I found her with a notebook and pen on the bathroom floor of our room.  Great ideas really can be born anywhere!) April has even become a guest blogger for the "GTD" website.

Long story short, if you're into getting organized, getting away for a little break, getting inspired and motivated by other great moms trying to be even better - go to the retreat!!

P.S.  There's another retreat in New Hampshire in October if you're interested and live in that neck of the woods.  One of my favorite cyber friends that I hope to meet in person someday will be there, Sarah, from Clover Lane.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thank Goodness for Digital

This is what you get when you let a six-year-old girl play with your camera:

Junk Food
The good 'ole epiglottis 

Monday, August 16, 2010


Today we actually unpacked for the last time in about 2 months.  After packing up and moving out of our old house and into Grandma's, out of Grandma's and into Park City, out of Park City and into our house here in Highland (in stages, over and over again), and then lastly for this past weekend's family camping trip, we officially no longer need our car top carrier, our toiletry bags, a big stash of diapers and wipes - we are "home" for good.

I'm not sure how long it will be until I take those quotation marks away.  Brandon feels even less settled than I do since he got in town Thursday night and we left on Friday for an extended Reynolds reunion, camping style, at Yuba Lake until yesterday. Let me tell you how fun it was to go digging through unpacked boxes to try and put together camping gear for six.  But you know Brandon did the worst of it - he's the gear man, I just do the laundry and gather the food.  Man, am I glad he's back.

(About feeling unsettled, I told Brandon that Stockholm Syndrome sets in on about day 5.  Just kidding, Utahans.  I'm liking it here.  I'm sure I'll like it even more once we start putting down some roots.  I'm so impatient, it's ridiculous.  We haven't even finished unpacking, haven't started school or work, haven't been to our church here more than once.  What do I expect?  A neighborhood party just for me?)  

Blogs are interesting things, because no one goes out of their way to post bad pictures or write about the boring or even depressing parts of their lives. Personally, I like to blog because it forces me to focus on the positive things in my life, even if it's just the things I learn from the hard stuff, or the one happy moment in a really rough week.  

So keep that in mind as I post some dreamy pictures from beautiful Utah over the last week or so.  90% of my life these days is endlessly moving STUFF from one spot to another with four bored children who gravitate to screens like flies to poop.  (And I am ABSOLUTELY cutting the cable again now that we've had it for a grand total of two weeks.  Honestly, as long as there is hulu and netflix, why pay for that garbage and risk exposing your kids to the trash that is on around the clock!  And if it's not blatant trash, it's mindless, shallow, pop culture idiocy.  Ask me how I really feel . . .)  

So, here are a few pictures from some of our recent adventures.  (But I still haven't found the cord to my nicer camera so I'm afraid some of my pictures will end up stuck in the abyss of iphoto once I finally get around to uploading them. Especially some of the better ones from last weekends camping trip.  The sunrise pictures, the campfire pictures, the group family pictures . . . oh, well.)

(Could I put anymore things in parentheses?)

I took the little girls to a storytelling of 'Robin Hood' at the dinosaur museum last week while the older two ransacked the gift store.  I don't know who was more surprised, me or the storyteller, when 2-year-old Rachael raised her hand to go up and get outfitted as Will Scarlet.  Look at this expression:

Elizabeth as Maid Marion in disguise.  Of course, she held out for that part. 

The dinosaur museum (Museum of Ancient Life) is actually part of a larger 'park' called Thanksgiving Point, and I must have been really desperate to avoid unpacking that day, because I talked the tired kids into going over to 'Farm Country' to see the animals and all the rest of it.  It was much more extensive than I thought, but we all had a great time with the help of a little ice cream. 

That teenage girl back there is raking up horse poopy.  I was walking through there in my flip flops, and let me tell you, I needed to do some serious shuffling through the grass afterward. 

Helloooo!  It's Iowa, but with mountains, dry air and no bugs!  What's not to love? 

This picture is not staged - I just happened to catch it.  He had no idea that llama was there.  

We've decided when we do buy, we want enough land that we could get some of these 'Japanese' chickens.  Along those same lines, Kate just about has us convinced to buy a Newfoundland when we buy a house too.  First it was, 'we will never, ever get a dog', then it was, 'maybe a cute little Pomeranian or Maltepoo' and then tonight I caught myself reluctantly agreeing that a big, cuddly, protective, loyal Newfoundland might actually be kind of nice.  

Next thing you know, we'll be listening to country music. 

I gotta get me one of these for the unfinished basement: 

On to the Yuba Lake family reunion and my dearth of pictures, held hostage in my other camera. 

Couldn't resist a tent picture since most of my waking hours were spent in there!  Actually, the first night Brandon gave me some Tylenol PM, cousin Jalene gave me earplugs, and I also had the forethought to bring my prissy eye mask. That little combination made it hard for me to think straight until about 10am.  I rarely take any kind of 'drugs' at all, so apparently two Tylenol PM is too much. 

The next and last night I opted out and enjoyed staying up late with Kate, Will, Brandon and some cousins around the campfire, looking for shooting stars.  Southern Utah is pretty "middle of nowhere", so the Milky Way was thicker than I had ever seen it. 

Cousin Tim had all the little girls on a 'train' making choo choo noises. 

Not sure what Elizabeth is doing here, but it's got Tim on the alert.

Kate, Jane, and Helen on the boat.  

Me and my munchie.

Elizabeth, Pen (Penelope - her "new best friend") and Helen

Bathing beach beauties: 

Brandon's dad has one brother with ten children and gobs of grandchildren, and a sister with four children and a bunch of grandchildren.  Most of them made it to the reunion.  A few came and went during the weekend, but at most we had 60 there at once. Highlights of the family reunion: 

Seeing everyone, catching up, the large group meeting on Sunday morning together.
Star gazing.
Fishing. (Will and Kate)
Sleeping to the sound of crickets.
Surprisingly clean and light camping showers and bathrooms.
Water fun, namely the rented wave runners with Kate and tubing with Elizabeth and Will on my lap.  (I basically ate their life jackets the whole time.)
Jalene's homemade buttermilk syrup, three varieties: original, coconut, and amaretto.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!  That stuff was unbelievable and she sent the leftovers home with yours truly, I think simply because I couldn't stop raving about her amazing sauce. 
The strange feeling of driving north to go home, instead of south. (Brandon)

So even though we've put away our traveling gear, I feel like it's time to start living like a tourist again.  It's no L.A., but there really is a lot to see and do around here.  

And we're all getting excited for a real fall again. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Breakfast Perfection

Of the make-it-yourself-at-home-on-an-ordinary-day variety:

(And since this is not a food blog,  I have no super cute picture.  It usually looks messy anyway.)  

One extra crispy sourdough english muffin, toasted with a SMIDGE of butter
Apricot Simply Fruit (or the kids' high fructose corn syrup jam, if you must)
Lightly salted scrambled eggs on top (and please make them with some milk so they are light and fluffy!)
Sprinkle the whole little open faced sandwich with parmesan.

Breakfast perfection.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vacations Schmacations

While we didn't have a "real" vacation this summer, we've been living out of suitcases for almost 7 weeks.  Doesn't that sound fun?  

We officially moved out of our house in CA on June 25th, and as of today, August 13th, we are finally out of our suitcases for good.  (Except for that family reunion camping trip this weekend, but I think we'll take our duffle bags.)  

As I hear about other people's fabulous family vacations, I have to remind myself that I loved summer as a child and we never went ANYWHERE.  (Well, our annual day trip to Six Flags Great America near Chicago was always a highlight . . .)

This summer was about moving, and really, we've had more "adventure" than most families could handle.

The first week of summer was spent de-junking, packing, and otherwise getting the house ready for moving day.  Not so fun. 

For the next three and a half weeks we stayed at my in-laws home while we continued to figure out where in the heck we would live. The kids liked sleeping in their sleeping bags, there was a pool, and we enjoyed a lot of "lasts".  That's fun, right?  (For the kids anyway, that time was extremely stressful for me.) 

After the pain and agony of figuring out where we would live and of saying all our good-byes was over (whew!), we went  to the very gorgeous Park City where we have been staying off and on for the last  three and half weeks.  At first it was because we were waiting on the moving company, but then it was because it was a nice place to go back to when we were sick of living in a choatic house with four kids.  (Brandon and I have taken turns doing the single parent thing during this time while I was at education week and while he went back to CA to wrap up his practice.)  It's been a slow process moving into our rental. (I like to emphasize that it's a rental, because it indulges the martyr in me who wants to remember that I get to do this all over again in the next year or so.)  Part fun, part not so fun - for obvious reasons.

But as of yesterday, we officially moved all of our belongings out of Park City.  For the first time in seven weeks, we are completely "home".  (Not sure how long that will take until it feels real.) 

We had a good thing going up there in Park City.  We had gorgeous views from our room, we had housekeeping (need I say more?), we rode the gondola up the mountain where we picnic-ed and hiked, Brandon took the kids to go watch the high jump skiiers practice jumping into a pool of water at Olympic Park, we swam in the pool, we did the Alpine slide.  The kids ate too much sugary cereal, watched too much TV, and stayed up too late almost every night.  They weren't bothered by having only one parent, or by driving back and forth one hour each way every few days to unpack more boxes.  From their perspective, it really was a vacation!  (And in most ways it was for us too - especially the housekeeping!)

And we can't short change the adventure of moving into a new house and neighborhood.  The kids have had a lot of fun opening boxes, setting up their rooms, sliding on paper piles down the stairs, and making an elaborate fort in the unfinished basement with the boxes.  They've made some neighborhood friends already too.  

Sometimes I forget that happy memories, learning and adventure don't necessarily come through elaborate and expensive family vacations.  Like when I was growing up.  I could not have been more happy than when I was romping in the plastic pool in our backyard, metal swing set slide attached, hose at the top of the slife.  Or playing outside for hours on end at my grandparent's farm in Iowa.  I just wandered - for hours - looking, climbing, thinking, playing.  

So even though I didn't make (let alone check off) my usual "summer bucket list" this year, and we didn't go on any formal family vacations, I think it's been as good of a summer as it could have been.  

Life in general is more than enough of an adventure for young children. 

And we've had a big helping of "life" this summer.

Gonna miss those views . . .

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It's 4:39 am and I'm awake.  Have been since around 3am.  (Unfortunately, this doesn't happen infrequently.)

Even though I got myself completely ready for bed to "set the stage" (no small feat for me when Brandon is out of town - more often than not he has to put me to bed like one of the children), took some melatonin, put on my eye mask, etc. . . I find myself awake for no reason.  

Maybe it's hormones.  Maybe it's because I haven't exercised regularly all summer long due to moving craziness. (There are other undesirable side effects from this as well . . .)  Maybe it's because I haven't had a minute to myself for a week and a half due to everyone's crazy sleep schedules and Brandon being gone so my sub-concious is waking me up saying, "It's quiet!  You're alone!  Enjoy!"  Maybe it's because our sleep number bed isn't working properly since the move and one side is stuck at 30 (too soft) and the other at 100 (too hard).  Maybe it's because Elizabeth is sleeping next to me, grinding her teeth and putting her feet in my side.  Maybe it's because my brain is on overdrive worrying about:

everything that still has to happen to make this house feel functional and comfortable,

all the school supplies and clothes I haven't purchased,

the last loose ends to complete school registration (like those darn shots!),

how my hair keeps getting thinner and why in the world I got that bad color job in Park City right before Education Week,

whether or not my kids will make good friends in their new schools,

how in most ways this summer was "a wash" for our kids as far as summer reading goals/self-improvement/hard work/fun vacations,

if we will ever have some semblance of order and routine in our life again . . .

Whatever the reason, if this plays out as usual I will go back to sleep in the next hour or so.

Right before Rachael wakes up.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Long day, good night.

What a day.  We got up late as usual, I miraculously found the files containing birth certificates and immunization records, and I headed off (with Rachael) to the kids' schools for new student registration.  I left Kate and Will in charge of moving all the packing paper from the living room to the basement.  Not sure what we're going to do with it once it gets down there, but I'm sick of looking at it every morning and I want Brandon to think we actually worked up here when he arrives on Thursday!

The elementary school registration was no problem, except that  it turns out the five billion shots required in California are different than the 5 billion shots required here.  Hep A - all my kids need the Hep A shot.  And I had JUST told them I was certain they wouldn't need any shots this year since we had SO MANY done in California.  Kate surprised me by saying she wasn't worried about eating lunch alone or finding her way around that big Jr. High building -  she was worried about getting that stupid shot.  (That led to a discussion about how shots compare to childbirth, and that pretty much ended the conversation.)

Off to the Jr. High.  I ended up waiting for over an hour to talk to the counselor about Kate's electives and all that good stuff.  I didn't know that was going to be part of the process today or I would NOT have brought Rachael.  At one point I shamelessly asked another mom for 50 cents so I could get Rachael a Rice Krispy treat from the vending machine.  (It brought on a sudden flashback from my own days at Washington Jr. High when a certain group of girls would always stand near the exit at the end of the school day and shamelessly ask for "fifty cent" to get Now and Laters - remember those?)

Long story short, I've still got some business to take care of before everyone is squared away for school in a week and a half - the biggest being finding a pediatrician and getting those lovely shots.

The second half of our day was MUCH more fun.  Our good friends from California, the Newtons, are at Aspen Grove family camp this week and called to invite us up for the evening.  We had our Reynolds family reunion there last year and fell in love with the place, so when I told the kids we were going up there to see the Newtons they were pretty psyched.  We had dinner together, participated in "Frontier Night" (which has too many fun things to explain in detail here but, what a blast!), did some painting down in the craft tent, consumed WAY too much sugar, and I tried my darndest to squeeze in as much adult conversation as possible while still having a good time with my kids.

The added bonus?  April Perry and her family just happened to be there too - my Power of Moms friend that I just spent four days with up at BYU Idaho Education Week.  (She's actually the one that got me to apply.)

Triple bonus, Julie Newton's whole family was up there, including her twin sisters - the master minds of MMW (MormonMommyWars), and I had fun chatting it up with one of them too, the one who just got back from Haiti where she was teaching square foot gardening.

More than sleeping, more than making and eating homemade cookies, more than curling up with a good book, I love spending time talking with good, thoughtful, fun, happy people that have interesting stuff going on in their brains.  So it was a really good night.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Big Stuff

Just in case you thought so, it's not all rainbows and mountain picnics around here.  

Well, it is about mountains, but of a different variety: 

I've got to keep the motivation going or we'll all poop out (like today - long story that started at 12:30am when Rachael finally went to sleep!), so we take rewards whenever we can get them: 

(I'd better bring that wobbly hand rail to the attention of the owner!  Ah, the joys of renting . . .)

This particular day we did end up going to the largest dinosaur museum IN THE WORLD (really!) to reward ourselves after a long day of unpacking.   Partly because it is really close (15 min. at the most), partly because it was open until 8pm and we are on a messed up sleep schedule and got off to a late start!  It really was pretty amazing: 

I have to admit, I'm into bribery and rewards these days.  I bought three boxes of cheap candy (Junior Mints, Dots and mini Charleston Chews if you must know) and some cheap grocery store toys as incentives on some of the long unpacking days we've had here without Dad.  Of course my kids wanted the candy first, but tonight they remembered the toys, so after a very long day (good, but long) the kids played for hours with a pair of uber cheap handcuffs (nothing like taking your sibling off to jail) and those balloons used for making balloon animals.  I found some instructional youtube videos and they went to town.  Here's a sword and helmet:
Total drama queen.  Look at the hand in back:

It took Kate ten tries before she could do the curly cue:

Rachael heading off to jail.  (Man, if I could have put her in jail last night I would have!)  I love the look on Elizabeth's face.  Kind of, "I really don't want to have to do this to you, but . . ."

More next time on the crazy, but meaningful part of the day with family.  We had a mini Reynolds reunion, with Marc and Emily in town from Texas to bless their baby, and most of the California Reynolds in town as well.  Poor Brandon was home alone at his parents house in CA. Aw!  

Friday, August 6, 2010

Flight of the Canyons

**Note to self: "add a caption" option under the pictures messes things up . . .

Here we are on our way up the mountain earlier this week:
Running to catch up. 
Kate has been my right arm with Brandon gone. 
Isn't it pretty? Even through the scratched plastic?  Right after I took this picture, we went up over a deep canyon and I freaked out.  I wish I had kept the video rolling because little Rachael started to try and calm me down by saying, "We're not going to die, Mom!"  

Once off the gondola we rode the lift up a little higher, planning to picnic and hike our way back down.

My little lift buddy.  Lifts freak me out.  Especially since Elizabeth jumped off one a little too early when she was just four and rolled backward down the mountain in snow skis.  Yeah.  She was fine, but that's the kind of thing that permanently scars a mother's psyche. 

Finally at the top, ready to find our
 picnic spot.

I don't know WHAT they are constructing up there in the middle of the wilderness, but it put a little damper on our quest for peace and quiet.  It bugged some of us more than others!
This is where we had our little picnic, right by the bridge and stream below. 

Once back "home" at the apartment we suited up to go for a swim, but not before Elizabeth put on quite the window box performance - it was pretty funny.

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