Thursday, August 27, 2009


It isn't easy to think of fun things for the kids to do with Great Grandpa that don't require a lot of activity on his part but enough to keep my kids entertained. Especially when you are in a foreign town. But I have to have a plan. There has to be activities for the kids to remember and build memories from. So after thinking about it all night the night before, I decided that our last day in Provo with Papo would be spent bowling.

The kids had been taking turns spending the night with Grandpa. They watch a movie together and have some kind of dessert. They love to do it. Grandpa is patient with giving them this one on one time.

So on our last day of our visit we picked Grandpa up and went to the Wilkinson center (my first time) to go bowling. We did a lot of talking about BYU that day. And about what a good school it would be for the kids to try and aim for. Chase is totally convinced now that he wants to be a cougar. Let's hope he gets great scholarships....
Anyway we had a wonderful afternoon. We bowled one game. There were a few victory dances like this...
Some high fives and celebratory slaps like this...
And the score ended up looking like this...
Yes, bowling is not my strong suit. But the kids and Papo had a really great time practicing their moves. Obviously Grandpa's are the best.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Catching Hummingbirds

This is one of the strangest things I have ever done. And I would have never even imagined trying if my Aunt Kathy hadn't told us it was possible. We were spending the afternoon with her while Papo took a little rest and the kids were enjoying all the humming birds that come to eat at her house. She has this wonderful home in the canyon on the river with beautiful plants and lots of humming bird feeders. As soon as Chase heard that someone could catch them barehanded he was up for the challenge. We spent the next few hours trying. Chase caught one almost right off the bat and then didn't have anymore luck. After about 30 minutes of trying I caught one and Emily came close so many times but never was fast enough.

We stood there with our hand right under the perch waiting for them to land and take a drink. You had to be still as a statue. And then the humming birds would start to get more and more comfortable with you. Then when they least expected it you would close you hand around them and if you were lucky, really lucky...this was your reward.

Papo's Birthday Party

We celebrated Papo's birthday up in Provo Canyon at Aunt Kathy's house. It was a beautiful evening. Kathy had yummy pizza's for dinner. Missy and one of Grandpa's friends brought delicious salads. (I will have to get my cousins' salad recipe. It sounded really easy. But I can't remember. It was really good) And then Kathy and Krissy had slaved the day away to make Grandpa's favorite cake, Nut Tree cake. Just imagine - a whole pound of butter. It is so rich and scrumptious. The great grand kids made birthday posters. This is McCall (I hope I'm spelling her name right) and Chase's sign.
Katie gave Great Grandpa a special birthday outfit by putting B-Day confetti on all of his buttons.
Here is our special birthday guy with most of his Great Grandchildren. My sisters kids weren't here. But I think he looks pretty handsome with all those cute kids around him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Papo's 8oth Birthday Surprise!

This was the moment we had been waiting for. The picture we had in our minds. The lasting image we wanted to create that was wroth driving for 15 hours. Totally surprising Great Grandpa on his birthday!

My Aunt Kathy had invited Papo (that is his new name given to him by little Sara) to have a birthday breakfast. She went to pick him up at his condo and Uncle Lane drove us to the restaurant to get ready for the big moment.

We barely beat him. I was just getting out my camera a and shooting off some test shots to get the lighting just right (I always forget that I have a flash for taking great indoor shots). So there I was monkeying around with aperture and stuff when the kids spot him coming through the window. I barely had time to get out of the camera menu before he was walking through the door. The kids jumped up from their hiding spaces behind a booth. Poor Papo had to lean back against the windows for support and hid his face in surprise. I barley managed to pull of a shot of this special moment we had all been waiting for. The kids are just a blur but you can see we clearly surprised poor Great Grandpa.
Here everybody is getting a big squeeze. they just love him to death. Ever since his visit this spring the kids have been aching for another visit. I went back and worth considering whether or not to make this trip. It was poor timing. Right after a camping trip and right before school starts. But I am sooo glad we did.
We are the most delicious breakfast ever. I am totally addicted to Magelby's now. I wish they would expand their franchise outside of Utah. We had the best french toast and the yummiest syrup I have ever had. In fact we went back two more times during our stay. I think that we will always associated Magelby's with Papo now. It will be super sweet in our memories for two reasons!
After breakfast we went back home with him to watch a movie. Afterwards we went to the Creamery at BYU for ice cream. It was so fun to be with Papo again. He is so good to us and we love him so much!

Monday, August 24, 2009

If It's Not One Snake It's Another

These snakes were treasures that we found along the way to Idaho somewhere in Oregon. What...where are they now, you say to yourself????

Well in the spirit of spontaneity and totally "lost your mind" kind of craziness we got this itch to go visit Great Grandpa in Utah for his 80th birthday and Boise is just the most perfect pit stop along the way. So on the weekend before school starts we found ourselves on yet another big adventure without poor Dad.

We had to make a bathroom stop somewhere in Oregon in the middle of the night. I sent the kids in and stayed out in the car with sleeping Sara. Five minutes later the kids all come running out shouting about some amazing find. Ends up they discovered the world's longest gummy snake! We had to buy one for us and one for the McArthurs our gracious halfway hosts!

I am a total fan of these little guys. I drunk 1/2 of one at 7:00 Sunday night when we left home and made it all the way to Boise at 4:00 am. I wasn't tired at all. It was awesome. I feel like a total sinner though. I have always been one of those no caffeinated drinks kind of Mormons.

So as I was saying...we pulled up to Sallie and Ray's driveway at 4:00 in the morning. I had expected to spend the night in a hotel along the way for the night and get to Boise in the afternoon, so they were not expecting us. I couldn't just go knocking on their door at such an unreasonable hour. So I had Emily and Chase sleep in the reclining captain's chairs up front in their sleeping bags. Kate slept in the middle row captain's char. And then I put the back seat down. Set up Sara's port-a-crib and then I slept in my sleeping bag besides her. It wasn't too bad. Except that at 6:00 in the morning my nephew Aiden looks out his window and sees our suitcase out on the curb. (no room for it in the car) He went in to tell his Mom that there were robbers. So out they all came at 6:00 to welcome us. Not much sleep...but oh well.

That morning we hung out with them and got to see Aiden off to his first day of Kindergarten. We all had good times holding one of our newest nieces, little Aubrey! She was so playful and good natured. After Aiden returned home the McArthurs treated us to a very fun float down their section of the Snake river.
The weather was perfect. We borrowed swim suits from Sallie's friends which I forgot in the car. So once again this summer my kids were swimming in their clothes.
Katie was a little nervous about these little waterfalls. They weren't too rough. But they sure were soakers!!!! The first little waterfall and I was totally soaked. Good thing the camera is "water resistant". Chase managed to stay dry the whole time until Uncle Ray maneuvered just right to make sure that on the last bit of rapids Chase took the brunt of the white water. Sure enough he went flying and lost his tube all together.

So it was a really great day. First we got to eat the world's longest gummy snakes together and then we floated down the Snake river. And when we got back in the car at 4:00pm the kids were nice and tired and I got to listen to Mommy music most of the way to Utah.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Trail of Two Forests

This little loop trail is so cool. You walk along a board walk along a part of the forest that was once covered in a lava flow. The lava ran though the valley toppling the trees. Once the lava cooled the trees slowly decayed leaving tunnels in the ground. Then there are pits were the the trees burned all the way down, roots and all leaving giant holes in the earth. It is pretty awesome. The kids all loved climbing in the tree tunnels. That is everyone except Sara. Thank goodness you can't see her face in this picture.
She was SOOOOO mad. And I felt in the end like the worst mom ever. She is such a little monkey I honestly thought she would enjoy crawling through the tree tunnels and coming up the ladders. Like a "good" Mom I went with her. But then like a "bad" Mom once she lost it and started wailing in protests when it got dark I made her keep going forward instead of retreating.
For every step I helped her crawl, by the time I started crawling forward she had scooted back. It was a nearly impossible task. She screamed the whole time making it just that much more frustrating. By the time I made it out with her she was fiercely mad and I was sweating with frustration and embarrassment for being a "bad" Mom and I still have a horrible collection of bruises to pay for it all.
The best part of the trail was that the girls found this Alligator Lizard. He was very patient and let everyone hold him and play with him. I made these girls come to tears too though when I refused to let them bring him home. What an afternoon!

Ape Caves

On our third day camping we loaded up the cars and headed to Mt. St. Helen's. It had been at least four years since we came here last with the kids. I don't think they had any memory of it. So I was really happy to take them again. I knew they would love it even more now that they were older. Ape cave is the longest continuous lava tube in the continental United States. It was discovered in the 50's by a group of Boy Scouts. The cave itself is 2.5 miles long. I am not sure how much of the tube is traveled by tourists. It felt like it took forever though. The ground is so uneven because of the lave rock. And this time we only had head lamps instead of lanterns so the lighting was poor. I also made the mistake of holding Sara instead of bringing the carrier. She wasn't very interested in being held and so she fought me the whole way. We called it quits a little before the end of the route and headed back - very slowly!
Here is our group. Karin headed back early too and so she and a few of the kids are not in the picture.
The kids had a great time finding little caves and crevices to climb in.
They also had a great time standing on this ledge and turning all the lights on and off.
I was just glad to be back to the car. I have come to realize that some things are just way more enjoyable with the men in your lives. You know, someone to carry the burdens....

Takhlakh Lake

I was so brave this last week. The weather this summer has been so perfect. We have been trying to squeeze every bit of fun out of these last few months as reasonably possible. So in the spirit of having more good times I loaded up the car and took the kids and the dog camping all by myself. We went with our camping friends the Bakers and Huillets and we were lucky enough to have my good friend and Emily's best friend Judy and Kaityln come with us. This was our destination - Takhlakh Lake. The most beautiful lake I have ever been to. It was perfect. Just the right size (small enough for me to swim out and rescue Kate when her Kayak capsized). Beautifully tree lined. Clean, calm and remote and you just can't beat that beautiful reflection of Mt. Adams! We camped here for three nights. Just kicking back and enjoying the scenery and company.

Here is the group of kids: Rachel B., Hunter H. w/ Rebekah H., Rachel H., Adam B., Emily w/ Sara, Emily B., Chase, Sarah B., Kaitlyn F., Katie and Levi H.

Little Joshua H. was taking a nap and missed out on the photo. The kids had a blast with each other.

They fished. Emily caught a fish, watched Adam clean it and then it was cooked over the fire and Emily ate it all up. YUCK!
They leisurely kayaked and canoed around the lake all by themselves.
Even Katie got over her fear of water (this summer has been huge - more of that later) and enjoyed the boats. Mom was enjoying watching her too, until her kayak tipped and I had to swim out and bring her back to shore!
Sara and Chase really enjoyed all of the wild blueberries and huckleberries growing along the lake. One day we decide to take a break for the leisurely lake side life and went on a hike. Adam and Karin had found a trail that led to an old lava flow. So off we went letting the dogs have the fun of the forest. It was so cool. Almost prehistoric feeling. Here we all were walking on the top of this huge lava flow with burnt toothpick trees all around us. It was totally cool. I didn't get a great shot of the amazing view. You will just have to trust me that it was pretty spectacular. We could see Mt. Adams, St. Helen's, Mt. Rainier and even Mt. Hood off in the distance.

I just love Washington wilderness. I am so glad we have such wonderful friends to share it with and that we have had wonderful weather to enjoy it all in this summer.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sara Strikes Again and Again and Again!

I feel sometimes like some of my "wifely" duties are a joke. I know a "good" wife is supposed to keep a clean house. But then many women have daughters like mine. (OK...I know probably most of you) It seems Sara has been particularly feisty this month. Here she is decorating my fridge. My other children know that they are supposed to draw on paper and then put their art on the fridge. Sara is all for getting rid of the middle man. Who needs pesky paper? Here she is attacking the fruit bowl. Poor produce. There were pesticides to protect it from pests all the way along until the poor fruit came to my house. No pesticide to keep them safe from Sara. She now is climbing up on my counter tops. Every piece of fruit had at least one bite.What I didn't get a picture of was her artwork on my brand new computer screen (twice) -thank goodness for magic erasers!

I also missed out on her attempts at beautifying our poor kitten Nacho. She have him a Vaseline hairdo. His poor fur didn't recover for at least a week.

She also got into my make-up who knows how many times until we finally put a lock on the drawer. I think she destroyed two lipsticks, my powder compact, one eye shadow, a handful of chap sticks (I' have several because I am addicted) and dumped out half of my foundation (which is fortunately the same color as our carpet).

There is never a dull moment in this house. But why clean when I have this little Tasmanian devil to deal with!?!?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Trail Of Dissappointment

For a year we have been planning a totally awesome bike ride with our friends the Bakers and the Huillets. We tried to get it all together last year. But it was too late in the season and we never had good enough weather. Finally the day came. Mind you it is no small feet to get several large families all together with bikes, gear and food! Our destination was the Iron Horse Trail, an old railroad trail that has been converted to hiking and biking paths. It is 110 miles long and goes all the way to the Idaho boarder. We chose an 18 mile section between Hyak and Ollalie State Park. We would bike through the Snoqualmie Tunnel 2 1/2 miles of pitch black on bikes with flash lights. There would be tressle bridges to ride over, lakes and mountains. It was going to be fanstastic. Unfortunatly after a 1 1/2 hour drive and another hour of getting everyone ready to go in the parking lot...this is what we rode to...

Folks, that is one very closed off tunnel and one very dissapointed group of bikers! I guess during all the flooding last year parts of the trail were washed out and without any money in the budget the repairs have had to wait. I swear that if we hadn't been with our law-abiding friends I would have jumped that fence! I was so bugged (not bummed-bugged implies frustration and a pinch of anger). I hate when plans that I feel responsible for go haywire! So we sent out the men as runners to try and find an accessible part of the trail. No luck. After sitting in the parking pot for at least another hour we all piled into our vehicles, drove down to where we were going to finish our bike ride at Ollalie State Park and had a picnic dinner to beat all picnics! Check out our spread!

We couldn't go home without having some fun. The kids all improvised and found a pretty little river to jump in. I have to say that I was really proud of all the kids. There was hardly any complaining! We stayed for a while just hanging out and letting the kids swim in their clothes.

We will be back Iton can count on that!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Soccer Champion

Chase was so glad to hear that British Soccer Camp would be coming back to Dupont. It was part four of his perfect summer. First Cub Scout day camp, then Nisqually Nature camp, A visit to his friend Ryan in Georgia and last but not camp.

We were able to talk his friend Hunter into signing up with him again this year. They weren't lucky enough to be on the same world cup team though. They were able to train together though under coach Paul. There were lots of fun drills and games.
But it really all comes down to who wins the world cup! The kids played several matches throughout the week and were able to earn points for team spirit and good sportsmanship. At the end of the week they had their final tournament. Chase was goal keeper for his team. And they played really well but lost to Hunters team. Fortunately they had so many extra credit points they won the cup. So Australia take courage...maybe your luck in the big leagues will turn!
I am sad that we will have missed soccer sign ups near our new home. Chase really does love soccer and has never been on a team. Maybe next year...

Monday, August 10, 2009

A New Plan and a Sneak Peak

After two weeks of agonizing "what do we do nows?", after our Battle Ground plans fell through we have decided to move to Puyallup. There just aren't any other opportunities that sound good to us right now. So we are moving to Puyallup where Dave will continue to work for Graham Family Dental Care. He is happily to looking forward to a shorter drive. Hopefully we will have him home more often instead of forfeiting our family time to the freeway. It has all kind of been a whirlwind. After a week of looking all day long on the Internet at homes and then two days out and about with Carolyn, our real estate agent from Vancouver, we found a house.

It was really hard. There were so many good options in Puyallup. None of them perfect but at least four of them had something really great and unique to offer. In the end I chose this house. I am still not sure Dave is as on board as I would like him to be. It is hardly what we were looking for.

The lot is slopped and there is no grass and running room. It only has three bedrooms. The garage is in front (YUCK!). The curb appeal leaves much to be desired. But I look at it and see how wonderful it could be with some money and TLC.

So we put in a bid. And they excepted! So this will be our home come the middle of September. I would share the MLS page but it is worthless. The listing agent did it such a disservice. There are only 7 pictures, 5 of which are pictures of plants. So you will all have to wait in horrible suspense until we move in... is a sneak peak. I love it, it's like a blog cliff hanger;-)

Grandma DeWitt Is In Terrible Peril!

Ever since Kate found out that Grandma DeWitt is taking a special vacation to go to the South Pole, A.K.A. Antarctica, she has been very worried.

First she was worried that her airplane would crash because there weren't any airports.

Then she was worried that because..."Grandma is going to be on the bottom of the world"...she might fall off.

Her newest fear is that she is going to get burnt by the sun. (apparently she thinks that when the sun goes to bed in our neck of the woods and sets in the horizon it rests on the South Pole.

Poor Grandma, sounds like you are in for a pretty big adventure.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grandma DeWitt Becomes One With Nature

I still can't believe that I convinced my Mom to go camping on her visit with us. I never thought, honestly, that the carrot of really cool places to visit would be enough to sacrifice a bed for. We did take a few wilderness vacations when I was a kid. But twice a full scale spa and resort were involved, another time a bed and breakfast and the worst we ever had it was sleeping in a cabin with cots in Yosemite. My Mom always refers to that trip to Yosemite as a camping trip. I think she thinks it deserves that designation because we slept in sleeping bags, didn't have running water and had to walk to the bathrooms.

Our kids were so excited that they were the ones that would get to take Grandma on her very first legitimate camping trip. I tried to sooth her nerves with the fact that we were only going for one night and that she could sleep on our air mattress. But then 15 minutes into setting up camp there was no more air mattress. We pumped it up. And then pumped it up again. Then we patched the hole with duct tape and pumped it up again. I kept taking sideways glances at my poor Mom as the air slowly leaked out of her night of comfort. She never let on to the turmoil that was undoubtedly going through her head. I wonder what she was thinking. Probably that the two hour drive home was looking really good right about then. I had this horrible guilt weighing on me. Here I was responsible for taking my Mom on her first ever camping trip and making sure that she enjoyed it enough to do it again. And I didn't have a bed for her. Kids have bones young enough to absorb all the bumps and discomforts of sleeping "al natural" on the ground. Us adults we need padding...So Dave and I gave my parents our new sleeping rolls. (I have used them since...the are luxurious!) My poor Mom was so brave and never said another word about it.

So here we are camping at Kalaloch. It was so fun to sit around the fire with Grandma and Grandpa. Everyone had fun telling funny stories about each other. We did a few mad libs, had a easy camp dinner of roasted hot dogs, made smores and put on a traditional Wilcox light show.

We had a huge roaring fire thanks to Chase. Dave sent him out to gather firewood. After he had been gone for a long time (maybe 30 minutes), poor Grandpa started to get worried. He went out after him. A while later he returned with Chase in toe carrying this crazy log that was just as tall as him and probably just as heavy. As we all sat around the campfire Chase treated us to a story that had us all laughing. I wish I wasn't so behind in my journaling. I would remember it better. But it went something like this:

Dave had dropped Chase off at one of the trails to the beach to get drift wood for our fire. But on his way up, with this huge log Chase had forgotten which path to take to our part of the camp. He kept hiking down the beach to try and find it. He crossed a river (which he hadn't crossed to get the would think that would have tipped him off)and kept going. He finally arrived at a small "village" (his words) where everybody was "old" (also his words). He asked one of the old ladies where our camp was and she told him a couple of miles back the way he had come. (mind you he is still carrying that ginormous log) When my Dad stumbled upon him he had made his way up the right trail and was dragging the big old log behind him.

We were all laughing so hard. I asked Chase to pick the log back up after he had stumbled into camp, let the log drop to the ground and told us his story. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. But he was a good sport!

Katie had been waiting all day to teach Grandma how to make smores. I think she was shocked to find out that Grandma had never made real "fire" smores. She helped put my Mom's marshmallow on the skewer, showed her where the best place in the fire was, taught her how to turn the skewer and really got into the whole ins and outs of putting the smore together (you know graham cracker, chocolate, melty marshmallow). Grandma was a good sport letting Kate be the teacher. Here they are enjoying their tasty treat.
After the campfire fun we were visited by not really we just had fun teaching Grandma and Grandpa how to put on a light show. This one is my favorite!