12.27.2013

I've been missing in action

After I finished the Ragnar in November, everyone in my van was ecstatic. Bouncing around, laughing, (of course they napped like I did too) but still I felt exhausted.  Happy, yes, but exhausted. And I had to go to the bathroom all the time. I probably used 100 port a potties in 24 hrs. (Ok, i'm exaggerating, maybe 98). The next day was Sunday and I literally slept all day long.

The next few weeks, it seemed as if I had been run over by a semi.  "You can never run another one of these relays," Ty said,  "if you are going to be this tired afterwards! I was pretty offended, everyone is this tired after one! Over the week though I would see my friends, and they were fine. I was going to bed at 8:30pm for 2 weeks afterwards. And Zumba seemed to be killing me. What was going on?

And then, I was late.

Long story short, the most unplanned pregnancy took place at our household and we were in complete shock. The circumstances surrounding it had us starting out with a 50% chance of miscarrying. Not so good, so we decided to not tell anyone for awhile, especially the kids. They still don't know btw, so thanks for not saying anything. ha. I had to take it easy immediately (no high impact=no zumba) and still am until things are making a little more sense.

Everyone kept asking us about signing up for the Tough Mudder in Vegas this spring. Nope, pregnant. And fun Ragnars this spring and summer! Nope, pregnant. But we couldn't tell anyone, so it was hard to act casual. I even ran into an old friend and she asked, "So are you done?". Ha! How do you answer that one when you are semi/pregnant?

That next week we went out of town and I knew something was wrong. An ultrasound 3 days later confirmed, there was no baby anymore. We were devastated and relieved all at the same time. It was a tidal wave of conflicting emotions. I had to keep getting my levels checked because I wasn't miscarrying "normal". Whatever that means. And a week later my numbers jumped up (this still makes no sense, even after the fact) and I was told I hadn't miscarried, I in fact was still pregnant! And it was ectopic. Insert frowny face.

Alone, with all four kids in the car I had to turn around, drive back to the hospital and get a shot to end the pregnancy. Talk about fun.  I thought I had fun before but this topped it. Actually, the kids were perfect for me, despite an emergency trip to the bathrooms at Cedar Pocket in the gorge. Merry Christmas you old Building and Loan!

Christmas day was, despite everything, wonderful,. I was exhausted from the shot, but not in any pain and the kids had a magical day. Blessing of all blessings!  Actually, I had no idea how wiped out the shot would make me, I thought we were nearing the end of this, whatever it is, and now I'm a pathetic mess. It isn't very fun. I didn't get my crafts done, I didn't make cookies plates, I didn't attend any of the kids' plays or parties, I basically haven't visited with anyone or been social for 4 weeks.  Saying it has been difficult is an understatement. It has been very trying on Ty and me both. I pretty much stay at home sleeping or playing with the kids.

I don't write this for pity, or for help (luckily we have lots of family and friends who have helped a ton). I don't write this to win the "Olympics of Suffering", as my family always calls it. I definitely don't win that. They are so many friends and family members that are suffering through trials every day. I think everyone has "hard" things they go through throughout our lives. We are lucky, I know this trial will end and we have been lucky nothing serious came out of it, other than some fertility problems. Honestly, another pregnancy was very far away (if at all) in our plans, but this has pushed it even further away.

I do feel as though it is an answer to many prayers I have had over the last year about priorities, and plans and the children. A very clear and distinct answer that I am grateful for.

I have an amazing and faithful husband who works hard for our family.  I have 4 beautiful children who have the capacity to be faithful and kind adults. I have a wonderful home, a good vehicle that gets me back and forth and back and forth and an ocean of family and friends who care for me, even when I don't deserve it. We have experienced the most tenderest mercies over the last month. Small acts of kindness that have spoken clearly that my Heavenly Father love me and knows my needs.  And that has meant so much to both of us.

12.21.2013

non refundable fun

Back in early November I called my sister and told her we HAVE to go see Nutcracker. We had taken the girls in Utah, but hadn't gone since then. It had been 4 years!  And so, we purchased the tickets (yikes!) and planned the date.

Things have been a little off here at the Leavitt house lately (largely due to me) and I was not feeling up to going, but guess what? You don't really have a choice with theatre tickets. So I put on my spanx, a dress and heels and we went.

Of course, it was wonderful. I loved watching Abby's expressions as she didn't remember ever going before.  The Smith Center, again, was impeccable and breathtaking. This time I took my camera and got a few shots.

We love going to the Nutcracker, and I didn't tell the girls about it until last night! They keep complaining that all their friends have seen "frozen" and other movies a ton. And I just kept saying, "someday, someday". Well, it was well worth missing out on movies for a few months for sure.

I can hardly wait to take Phoebe for her first time next year, she was still too young to go. Rodney? Yeah, he's  not going for a decade. ha! That boy,  I swear.

Thanks to my wonderful mom and sister Sarah for going with us, it's a fun tradition I hope to keep going. I'm always amazed that Heavenly Father gave us these amazing bodies, and the beautiful things that artists and athletes can do with them.  My favorite part of the night was the girls putting on our Nutracker soundtrack and doing all their favorite roles.

It definitely helped with our Christmas experience this year, so thank you non-refundable tickets!









12.17.2013

Christmas and trials

Something about Christmas time and trials, sounds wrong to me. As if the two should be as far away from one another as possible. Today I've been grateful that the hard things that we are going through right now actually are during this beautiful and peaceful time of year.

A time where we remember the gift that was given from Heaven. A Savior that came to earth, to suffer all of our sins and afflictions, and give us eternal life.  It helps me remember why I am here, and where I am going, and how to make choices in a confusing world that has a myriad of good choices obscuring the best choices.



As we reflect on the gift we have been given, and focus on giving to those we love and those in need, if you are experiencing trials and hard times right now, I hope these words can give you peace also. 
This talk spoke to me this morning:


"Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.
This should be our purpose—to persevere and endure, yes, but also to become more spiritually refined as we make our way through sunshine and sorrow. Were it not for challenges to overcome and problems to solve, we would remain much as we are, with little or no progress toward our goal of eternal life. The poet expressed much the same thought in these words:"
Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.Douglas Malloch

12.08.2013

complaining

I found this quote via design mom today and it stuck with me:


Complaining Does Not Work as a Strategy 
“If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out… Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture


Oh the days of time i've added up complaining. And about what? I have a great life, I am blessed beyond measure. What a joke that I fall into that trap so easily. Good job, Satan. Good job.

Another one of my favorite quotes about complaining, or bitterness (which are usually one in the same around here) is from my friend Kathryn Bolton:

If you stop saying it, you will stop feeling it. 

Amen and amen!

This year I did switch out our advent calendar, and instead of a teeny gift each day I put in a service activity. Oh, you should hear the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. I keep telling them they'll thank me in 20 years for this.

11.30.2013

Christmas time

Thanksgiving was a whirlwind, a fun and relaxing whirlwind. I was getting set up to host my first Thanksgiving here, and then the realization that I have 10% of the things that I need to host something like that hit me. "I don't even have a gravy boat!" I exclaimed to Ty. "Or enough table cloths!" Things you just don't think about.

Luckily my mom sensed my desperation and hosted it at her house.  Someday it will be my turn, and this year is not that time. We had a laid back and relaxing day with both sides of our family. Dinner at my mom's was wonderful and we always have a great time visiting with the Leavitts and skeet shooting.

Overall I felt very blessed for all that I have been given and blessed with. My problems that I complain about instantly felt very minuscule compared to the grand scale of life ahead of me. We are so lucky to be by family and enjoy their love and watch them take care of nurture our children.

Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

My social media break was wonderful and I tackled a lot of projects in the house and payed attention to my children. Facebook had easily overtaken my life, and I'm glad to have a break from it.

On another note, I'm am still very much missing my baking. I don't have sugar or flour in our house, so I borrowed some to make some pecan pie bars for the day. I am rusty at baking! And it felt so fun to really bake again. Still trying to find a balance between healthy baking, or just regular baking on a very rare basis. Where is it? How do you balance it? Thoughts welcome.


And another, another note. Christmas music is in the house! It's been on for a week now and I love it. I can feel my blood pressure lowering every time I turn it on. I keep trying to broaden my listening horizons, but I just can't stomach anything more than the classics that I grew up with. My all time favorite Christmas singers, Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby, Singers Unlimited, Dean Martin, and many more people who you probably don't even know exist. ha! 

But my crowning parenting moment last night was when Abby exclaimed, 

"OH, I love Perry Como!" 
Love that girl.



11.25.2013

Thanksgiving week

I am thankful for many things, and I enjoy reflecting on them. Yesterday in primary I was reminded that  if we are thankful for something, we can show it by taking care of it. So this week I am going to refrain from social media (this is a tough one for me) and take care and nuture my husband, my children, my family, my home, my vehicle, my clothes and even my shoes.  I haven't purged in a long time and I feel like our home is bursting with non essentials and not ready to celebrate a peaceful Christmas season.


Last month we said goodbye to cousin Mady who is leaving for Japan in a month! We are excited for her, what an adventure. I always wished to go on a mission, but marriage came first. We are supposed to be missionaries all the time as members, but with my "personality" I honestly don't say much about my faith. I guess I get lazy and figure if someone wants to know they will ask right? hehe. Also I've been told I give too much advice as it is, and that gave me a complex where I don't say anything about anything very much. Which means I still say plenty about what I've learned so far as a parent and woman. My sincerest hope is that people see through my life and actions that the gospel brings me peace and happiness and guides me through life's tough choices and trials. Right now our little children tax our minds and bodies of energy and intelligent thought. But as exhausted as Ty and are, we wouldn't change a thing. I love every spirit that has come to our family and teaches me humility and selflessness. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to partake of the sacrament each week and start over with my journey towards eternity. 

My lent from social media spurred from this quote:
...some addictions or predilections, while not inherently evil, can use up our precious allotment of time which could otherwise be used to accomplish virtuous objectives. These can include excessive use of social media, video and digital games, sports, recreation, and many others. -Elder Cook

11.20.2013

a pet's paradise

Monday night the cat didn't come in to the house. This is unusual. Every night, we call her and she trots in with her jingle bell ringing and happy to eat mice all night. Monday night? no cat. I worried all night and kept going out until midnight calling for her. "Heeeeeeeeere kiiiiiiiiiiityy! Heeeeer kitty kitty kitty!"

No cat.

Early Tuesday morning.

No cat.

I ran out to the road before the kids were up to make sure there was a cat, but stuck to the road, if you get my drift.

Thankfully, no cat.

The girls didn't seem to mind at all. In fact at the bus stop Abby nonchalantly says, "Look for any furry bumps on the road." Gah!  Lucy's all, "Yeah, it got eaten by coyotes."

I'm raising wolves I tell you.

By Tuesday afternoon I'm sullen. I just started to like that cat, darn it.

At 4pm, we all go to get into the car. As I reach for my keys to unlock the girls scream "THE CAT!!!". And sure as shoot, there it was, trying to crawl up and out the windows when she saw us.

We locked the cat in the car, all night long. And was I relieved that fluffy Lilly cat was alive? NO! I was so mad at that dumb cat for crawling into the car. ha.

After having a good laugh, Lucy reminded us of all the other places we have misplaced cats. Namely,

the fridge.

and

the dryer.

No animal was seriously harmed in either instance.

They say you should have pets for a few years before having children.  I think they might be spot on.


11.16.2013

a few pics

 This was Rodney just minutes before I left for the weekend to run the Ragnar, sick and feverish. Yuck.
 This was my van (minus Tara!). These moms are all amazing and fast.
 I was grateful to get to know them all better.
 Rory and Amanda passing off to each other. The day went from cold, to hot, to cold, to HOT
The Veteran's day parade never disappoints down here. This year it was the best I've seen in a long time. The only thing missing was horses and horsemen. You'd think in our little town we could have half the parade of horses, but nope, not a one. I was disappointed, but everything else was great.

I had a long week of catch up with sick kids and laundry and then the walk a thon at the school Friday. I taught a few zumba songs to each class and it was so much fun. Exhausting, but fun. I love dancing and that I'm able to teach it and still do it.

11.11.2013

Would you like to run a relay race?

I ran my first Ragnar. I know, total groupie right? I wondered before why everyone was so crazy into it, and never understood the car stickers. Who cares? 13.1, I've ran half marathons and never felt the need to boast about it on my car.  26.2, ok, that is an accomplishment but I still didn't get it. And then the ragnar stickers are everywhere!  Before the Ragnar I kind of felt this way about it:



But my friends kept telling me how fun it would be, and I have to admit, I hadn't had a girls' weekend in over 2 years!

I packed up and gladly left the house and kids to Ty, (which included two vomiting monkeys) Thursday night. I had a blast getting to know my van better and hearing all their stories. I'm positive that they are all regretting having me on board now. I talk a lot when I'm tired, I mean, a lot more than usual which is, a TON. Poor girls. Between the 6 of us there was 26 kids we were running for on our team "49 kids and still running". We laughed, we cried, we peed in 800,000 port a potties (well at least I did). We drove and drove and drove and ran and ran and ran. And, I would gladly do it again next year.

Crazy right? But I had a lot stacked up for me in favor: I like camping. I don't mind using port a potties. I don't mind wipey baths for a few days. I don't mind sleeping in a car with smelly socks and clothes. I love exercising and especially with groups.

It didn't hurt that my van was full of experienced athletes and runners who know how to suck it up and just get the job done. I've never ran so fast in my life! I was so nervous to fail them that I got sick to my stomach before each leg. Luckily that turned into adrenaline and I never walked once! I was pretty proud of that considering the toenail i'm losing and the ginormous blisters from my first downhill run of 5.5 miles.

It was awesome, I loved it. But I'm happy it's over and to get back to lifting. I loved seeing all the different people from all over the country all running. I wanted to stop all of them and hear their story. How did you start running? Where? When? Why?  I love stories.

Out of 500 teams, only 18 of them were women's only.  Out of the 18 we placed 7th. Not too shabby considering all the bad luck we had on our race. Poor van #2! They got the worst of it. The worst to us was I drove into oncoming traffic (sorry amanda!) and the sprinklers that turned on while we were sleeping in the park. I've never moved so fast in my life. ha.

I'm still hobbling like an old man. But I'm proud of myself and that I did it.

And my car has a sticker to prove it.

11.03.2013

A birthday and a gift

Today is my birthday! I'm happy to say that it already has been amazing. Ty gave me one of the best gifts I've had in a long time, tickets to go see the ballet. We were severely underdressed, and arrived early. But oh! It was worth it.

We attended the Insights preview, where you sit down and have a short Q&A and demonstration by Cynthia Gregory. Yes, that was right, Cynthia Gregory. It's hard to describe how much I watched and read and envied about the Cynthia Gregory. And there she was, in person, showing us technique and talking about Nureyv, Peter Martins, Agnes Demille, Margot Fonteyn.  I've obviously been under a motherhood rock because I didn't even know she worked for Nevada Ballet Theatre. When we first moved here my mom would drive me in 3-4 times a week for classes at NBT. They had a little studio in Summerlin. I danced a few months there and the commute became too much, I decided to take a break from dancing until college.  It worked out, I still have great friends from high school and BYU let me dance there despite my affinity to snickers bars.

NBT now is class act all around. The costumes, setting, choreography and technique were all breathtaking. It was majestic.

 Ty scored major points, he only fell asleep the last half hour and didn't snicker at any dude's solos.  I had a wonderful time, and it was worth it. At first I had some guilt at clothes I could buy with the same money, or needed exercise equipment etc. etc.  But that experience meant more to me than anything I could wear or carry or have.

The birthday day was spent sleeping in, a 5 mile run, a huge fatty nap, dinner I didn't have to make (or clean up!) and watching Planet of the Apes with Ty under a blanket. That Charlton Heston, what a drama queen. ha.



*If you live in Las Vegas or surrounding areas, you must go to the Smith Center! Beautiful, amazing architecture, lighting, ambiance, everything was impeccable. The tickets were worth it for the beautiful building alone. And luckily for us, it's just a hop, jump and a skip away (really easy to get to).


11.01.2013

smell my feet

Happy Halloween! We had a wonderful day full of costumes and candy and cranky mom syndrome!  Or as I call, CMS. CMS can affect you at any times, but most frequently around holidays when you have children who want absolutely every minute of their holiday to be perfect.

But guess what? Every holiday is exactly 24hrs long and I can survive that.

We actually did have a great day, except that I boycott the annual Halloween "parade" at school.  In the middle of the day, right during nap time, every mom drives down to the school. Helps their child put on their costume and makeup that they are going to be wearing all night long with their parents. And then takes pictures of them walking around the playground at school.  Um, I'm going to pass.

I bet it's really cute and fun to see all the kids. And I bet I am ruining my reputation by not going. And I know for a fact that my oldest thinks I'm a complete failure for never going (I"m running on 3 years strong). But hey, I made COOKIES. That totally makes up for it. They may have been a mix and overcooked and I may have left them out for trick or treaters (because we never get any), but hey, cookies! I never do that.

Phoebe and Rodney had a blast and wanted to wear their costumes all day long. Rodney sat in his crib for 3 hours swashbuckling his stuffed animals and asking for his boots. 3 HOURS.  And 20 minutes before dinner he had a blowout in his pirate pants. Hooray!

 We hope you had as fantastic as a day as we did.


10.29.2013

chapters

My mother often referenced the "chapters" in her life book. And just like a book, when one chapter ends, another begins, and it goes on and on and on. My first chapter, was new (frazzled, stressed out, neurotic and perfectionist) mom. Second chapter new mom with two children who thinks she knows everything. Third chapter, mom with preschooler and two at home who still thinks she knows everything. Fourth chapter, mom with elementary school children and little children at home and no clue what's going on.

I know the chapters will keep ending, and changing. There are a few that I am a little timid about experiencing. Namely, and not in any particular order, "Middle School", "Dating", "Puberty (Hello, 3 girls)" and "Empty Nester without grandchildren."

Right now I feel as though one chapter is closing on us, and that is having all of our children "little".  I think I will often look back at these as the golden chapters. They all still adore us, and want our attention 24/7. They all want us to hold them and praise them and read to them and tuck them in.  As exhausting as this section of my book is, it is a dear one to my heart. All the characters are developing quite nicely and it is humorous enough to keep me going.

But my role in it is confusing. It's as though the older ones are needing me even more now. A fact I thought almost impossible after trudging through getting the swine flu post partum and nursing a newborn with same said swine flu (true and horrific story).

Now we have sports this year. To be honest, I kind of dreaded starting the "sports" chapter that is a very long one. Even though I always loved sports growing up, and so did Ty, I disliked the schedule and driving and night games. But once it started? It was lovely. We loved going as a family and watching Lucy play and learn how to work with a team. It didn't hurt that her first season her team went undefeated either. I helped out a little with the coaching and remember how much I love soccer, my first love. And I enjoy teaching it too.

I'm sure I'm not the only mom that feels like taffy being pulled everywhere, and I know I could ask everyone how they do it all and how they choose to keep it simple and I would receive a million different answers. For now, I'm going to figure it out and try to keep choosing the right path in this chapter, and the ones to come.

The Blue Dolphins! and their awesome coach Jenny.


10.23.2013

a guessing game

Most of what our kids do either passes by us without notice, makes us laugh (like when Abby sang to the floaties in her cup at dinner for a good two minutes), or puzzles us. 80% of the time is puzzling.  For example, Rodney has been "sliming" everyone for over a week. He runs up to you, clobbers you (with his face only) and runs away giggling.  Add in his runny nose and you get the slime part.

Ty and I are so unfazed by stuff now we ignored it. Until I was helping Rodney put his shoes on the other day. I pulled up his shirt and gave him a big zurbert (sp? anyone?). Just like you were given growing up. Your parent presses their lips into your tummy and wiggles their face around making a horrible sound. Yup, zurberts.

And just after Rodney, of course, laughed and then "slimed" me. He doesn't wriggle his head, or know how to make the sound (trust me, i've noticed him trying since then) he just sticks his head into your leg, or tummy or neck, and pulls away with a string of goo attached to you.

I called Ty as soon as I realized it.

"Hey, you know how Rodney has been doing that thing with his face all week and sliming you?"

Ty: "yeah, weird"

"He's giving Zurberts!! I just figured it out. My dad gave him one last week"

Yup, Rodney's first introduction to Zurberts was from my dad. Which is so apropos it isn't even funny. Or it's really funny. Whatever it is, it's insanely adorable and I don't mind the boogies. Scratch that, it's super gross.

10.21.2013

a child's prayer

Yesterday the girls and I participated in the annual Primary Program. For an hour the children sing the several songs they have memorized and recite scriptures and gospel principles for the congregation. I've always loved the primary programs, those 3 year olds! But participating was a whole different ballgame. It is so hard to sit still for an hour if you are a little body.

 But they all did so well, and did their parts perfectly. My favorite song from primary (and always has been) is A Child's Prayer. It is a duet sung by a child and a parent (or leader). I wanted to share the words that never fail to humble me and bring tears to my eyes.

Heavenly Father, are You really there?
And do you hear and answer every child's prayer?
Some say that heaven is far away. 
But I feel it close around me as I pray.
Heavenly Father, I remember now.
Something that Jesus told disciples long ago:
"Suffer the children to come to me"
Father in prayer I'm coming now to Thee.

Pray, He is there.
Speak, He is listening.
You are His child. His love now surrounds you.
He hears your prayer;
He loves the children.
Of such is the kingdom, the kingdom of heav'n. 


You can download this version for free Here
Or other versions on itunes Here

10.16.2013

Birthday girl

Something about your oldest's birthdays really gets me. Maybe because it's the first one each time. First one year old. First 9 year old. First teenager etc. Or because maybe because you see time fleeting faster than you can grab it. Whatever it is, it's different than any other birthday.

Last week as I lay awake I marveled at how much has happened in these last nine years of our family. 

All the wonderful, and hard and those few black empty spaces where I blocked life out. They are all there filling up what is our life.

And I'm grateful for it all and for this beautiful, smart girl that started it all.


10.13.2013

a little change

I have an awesome hairdresser. She is young and vibrant and gorgeous and talented. Oh! I wish I had the energy she has. She is also brave. I am pretty brave, but not when it comes to my hair color. My only rule is NO GRAYS! I've been battling grays since freshman year of college. The girls noticed mine for the first time this week ( I was overdue for a color). "Why do you have grey hair?" Abby asked. "You're not even old!".  Sweet, blessed Abby.

Growing up I was hair challenged, and clothing challenged, and just girl challenged all around. Mix together the fact that I couldn't brush or braid my own hair (or anyone else's for that matter), liked boy clothes better than girls and was the last of my friends to physically "mature" you've got a good recipe for frumpy girl syndrome.

I did not consider myself cute or pretty. I did think I was beautiful, but because my parents told me so. Beautiful never meant pretty or cute to me. It meant something that I just was and always would be. Note to self: Keep telling the girls they are beautiful.

As a woman ( I feel funny just writing I'm a woman!), I still have the same thoughts as I did as a child. I'm just a normal, regular person. I'm not cute or pretty and definitely not the girl on the homecoming float. I'm the soccer player with stinky socks and the ballerina that could do a triple pirouette en pointe. Those were the things I identified with, and I guess still do.

Beauty? What is that? I mean, I definitely try on Sundays and date nights to look my best. But I always feel like the old woman from Princess Bride will run out and yell "BOO! BOO!" and everyone will see me for the impostor that I am. I can't be the only woman who feels this way. If I wear heavier eye makeup than regular or spruce up my accessories I feel extremely out of place.  Anyone else like this? Or is it just me?

Back to hair. I decided to give my hairdresser full reign. "Do what you think would look best" I told her. And just sat back.

You guys, I have trendy long hair. I have hair that is in style.  This has never happened to me in my life.

It feels fun, and young and totally ridiculous all at once. Who am I to have trendy hair?

 I mean, really?

*post edit* both of my curling irons died yesterday. Blast you karma. 

10.07.2013

baby girl birthday

Our baby girl turned four last month. FOUR. She wanted a "swim" party. We acquiesced, despite the windy and cold weather. It was a blast with all of our family.

Phoebe and cousin Evelyn

Trucks and their sounds are important
 Grandma Curtis and Lucy
 Uncle Roger and "Uncle" Jed
 It was a full house, these kids have so many grandparents!
  I hope they realize how magical a childhood that is.
Phoebe, my little firecracker. WE LOVE YOU!

10.03.2013

Our family trip

Tyson had a hunt coming up in Wyoming during his birthday. He is always hunting on his birthday. Fun for him! Lame for us.

Then he told me how close his hunt was to Yellowstone. We've been wanting to go there since we married. We've wanted to take the kids there since they were old enough to remember it.

"It's only 3 hrs away!" he said.
"It will be easy!" he said.

Let me say right now: The trip was very worth it!
Was it easy? NO.
Was it only 3 hrs away? NO.

But we went a different route that I can't imagine us ever being on again, and we saw beautiful back country that was to die for. Wyoming, I love you!  I've decided that something wonderful must have happened in that area and that is why God blessed it with an abundance of beauty and wonders.

We were not prepared for the forecast change, and we bundled up in 3/4 layers. We were the only family there with more than two children. We were in a sea of retirees, wealthy hippies, Europeans and Asian tour buses. We stuck out like a sore thumb. The Yellowstone Inn was breathtaking! Well, what we saw for the 3 minutes we were in there before two kids had a meltdown and we dragged them out kicking and screaming. And we were right next to a tour guide explaining the natural wonder and history behind the architecture. Lovely.

We used the priceline app to bid on hotels just minutes before checking in and got smoking deals on beautiful rooms with breakfast included. For our family that saves us lots of $$. We pretty much cleaned out every buffet. You should have seen Phoebe and Rodney on the cantaloupe platter. Ravenous wolves I tell you what.

I will let the pictures do the talking.
 Oh, and the forecast changed every so wonderfully for us and went from a high of 70* to a high of 51*. YIKES! We were layered and freezing the entire time.
 Carrie Smigelski and I watched Austin Powers here in college, memories.
 Our DVD player is non-functioning, so these rascals entertained themselves for hours upon hours.

Lucy was extremely embarassed taking this photo.

reality
 Old Faithful lodge, the littles and I watched from the warmth of indoors
And the Europeans watched Phoebe feast on mac n' cheese like a monkey
 Old Faithful Inn for 3 seconds
 Because of the temperature, you could spot geysers and hot spots miles away, pretty neat.

 Upper falls on the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, just gorgeous. The snow made it a unique sight.
 Our marriage survived through my navigation skills. That is saying a lot.
 Don't the kids look excited?

 Lucy's wish came true and we saw every animal she wanted. Black bear,
 Elk, antelope, a wolf, Trumpeter swans. We were very lucky.
 The Grand Tetons are hiding under the clouds.
 There is a mother Moose and baby moose in this picture, I promise.
 
 Cold girls.
 Dragon's mouth was exactly what you would think. Deep, dark, stinky, gurgling, spewing and moaning. The gasses rise up and get stuck in underground caverns and it was really a sight. It was Ty's favorite, and mine too.
 Lots of bison
Lucy and Old Faithful (he was faithful for us)

Rodney was a time bomb. Everyone kept a distance from him, considering he went 5 days without naps he was a champ.

It was a wonderful trip. I am absolutely exhausted and apologizing to the kids for yelling at them from Cedar City to home non-stop. But hopefully the "good" memories theywill hold on to and pass on the tradition of exploring the beautiful parts of our country with their children.

It saddens me all those people that were there the next day that had to leave and all the people planning to go. Yellowstone is once in a lifetime for most people and families, the fact that it is shut down is just maddening. We were there the day before the shutdown, thank goodness. When it reopens, I highly recommend you place it on your list of family vacations. We cant' wait to go again (when the kids are all older!)
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