Feb 28, 2013

Running Like Crazy

My days and weeks are completely crazy lately! Just a rundown of today to give you an idea.

I woke up at 6:30 this morning after tossing and turning until almost 3:00 AM because my legs hurt from playing basketball until 10:30 and because I finally decided that Baby Doll had nursed her last drop. She was unhappy about that too, so neither of us slept very well.

My sweetie took the first school runs and let me doze back off. Then Gamer took my last group of elementary kids so I didn't really have to crawl out of bed until the phone rang around 8:30. I tried to sort out some last minute details on our basketball tournament that starts tomorrow and ended up talking long enough that I didn't have time for a shower but barely got Curly ready for school and out the door by 10:00.

I dropped him off and then took 33 boxes of cookies with me to Curves to deliver. (I know, it's a conflict of interest...). After working out I headed for home. Then Princess and I delivered about 10 cookie orders before it was time to pick up Curly at noon. Then it was time to take Burrito to school.

I had planned to go to Parent/Teacher conferences right at 12:30 but someone else called wanting their cookies and we eventually delivered about half a dozen more orders mostly outside of our neighborhood. Then Teach called to say she was celebrating and brought home Little Caesar's Pizza for lunch.

After food, we finally made it to the high school. We finished with moments to spare for Princess to get ready for her dance class and then for me to load up another 3 dozen boxes of cookies to take to the elementary school. Crafty, Scout, and I got almost all of them delivered before 4:00, but then it was time to take Prima Donna over to the middle school for her parent/teacher conferences.

We finished at 5:25 with five minutes to get to the dance studio to pick up Princess. I had 10 minutes to print an address and gather another cookie order while Princess changed before she had to be at the church so she could attend the Jazz game with her YW group. After dropping her off, Crafty and I delivered the order and then I dropped her at her meeting at 6:00.

Back at the house I had 10 minutes before Teach and I headed out the door for Tupperware training. We both got some fun and amazing prizes! Then it was a 20-minute drive back home. We arrived about 8:30, grabbed leftover soup from last night's Blue and Gold banquet and settled for about 10 minutes before one of my scout moms came over for more cookies. She is also my assistant for basketball so she brought me more paperwork to be signed before our first game on Friday. I tried to arrange for those signatures but by then it was after 9:00 so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Homework and scriptures for the younger kids took until after 10:30 and then I finally got 10 minutes to talk with my sweetie about all the happenings of the day. Then it was time to help the Dog Walker finish up his homework and help Bossy plan a trip via email.

At 1:30 I sent the Dog Walker to bed (BTW he got a job at WalMart today, moving freight on the graveyard shift). That was one of the many good things that happened today. He won't start for a couple of weeks, probably about the time Teach leaves for her mission.

I almost went to bed, but then I remembered how much I love talking to you guys so I took a few minutes to share my day. It will be well after 2:00 before I turn off the light. I really need more sleep and fewer cookies, although the piles get smaller every day.

And tomorrow I have to cook! No more leftovers. At least we have the Kindergarten Operetta to look forward to...they are doing Peter Pan and Burrito is an Indian Warrior. We can't possibly miss that!

Feb 27, 2013

Guest Blogger-- Blue and Gold Banquet by Dog Walker

 I have to guest-blog for my mom, because she was a little exhausted from the Pack Meeting Blue and Gold Banquet we did. And speaking of that, I actually like to talk about what happened at it. We were planning a Blue and Gold Banquet as a ceremony about the plans were doing for the next Pack Meetings for 2013. By the way, I am the Assistant Cub Master with my Dad. That is an amazing job, since that I was the Awesome Autistic Boy Scout on the news. Anyway, the other night, Mom and I had to make sure everything was ready before the next day. We were so on schedule and that we had to make sure the fliers were delivered and that we had to set up tables and chairs for the banquet. Mom was so worried that we would never be able to set up all the tables on time before the banquet started. The other days, Teach had to make a special slide show about the cub scouts and the other fun activities we did in 2012. With some guys from their volleyball practice, when they were done using the gym, they helped us out on setting up tables and chairs and it lasted for a few minutes to make sure that all the tables and chairs were set up for everyone to sit and eat the soups that they brought especially when we brought with us, our home-made turkey noodle soup. After we ate the dinner and passing out awards, we did tell them about what Pack meetings were about to do for the rest of the year, especially a promise to do Cubmobiles. Cubmobiles will be a lot of fun for the Cub Scouts. I hope we keep that promise for them.

Feb 26, 2013

Kiylee's Christmas - Chapter 7

This was the hardest chapter to write. Please leave comments and suggestions for improvement.

Chapter Seven – Christmas Eve

Baby Curly's first ride in a truck.
    The rest of the summer passed quickly.  I started eighth grade in September.  I liked my teachers and my classes.  I was elected as a student representative for the Parent Teacher Student Association and I was chosen to be a member of the Junior National Honor Society.  Kiy had her first birthday and she grew her first four teeth all in one week.  Nathan started school again in September too.  He was learning to speak, even though he was still way behind all of the other kids his age.  It was weird, it was like he and Kiy were the same age.
    In November, Mom and Dad told us that we were going to have another baby.  We were all excited.  I was sure that it would be a boy since we already had four girls and only two boys. 
Mom had her second doctor’s appointment on Christmas Eve and Dad decided to go with her since the doctor had promised that they could have a look at the baby on the ultrasound.  They left about 9:30 in the morning and I was still tired.
    I was lying in my bed feeling lazy, after all, it was the Christmas holidays and I deserved a break from getting up early.  I knew that I was baby-sitting and responsible, but Kiy was asleep on Mom and Dad’s bed and Nathan was downstairs watching cartoons with Kinsey and Kiyna.  When I heard the water running in Mom and Dad’s room, I figured that Neal was in their shower, so I let it run. As it turned out, Neal had heard the water too, but he thought that I was the one in the shower.  He had just gotten a great present from a friend, root beer and a huge candy-cane and he was anxious to show them to me.
    He ran up the stairs and yelled, “Kira, are you modest?”  Hearing no answer, he opened the door to Mom and Dad’s room and Nathan ran out.  Nathan was naked and wet and Neal knew that Nathan was not allowed to shower alone.  It only took Neal a second to know that something was wrong.  He ran into the bedroom and saw Kiylee floating face down in the big green tub.  He threw the presents on the floor and grabbed her blue little body out of the ice-cold water. 
    Suddenly I heard him scream, “Kiylee’s dead! We killed Kiylee!”  He pounded on my door and handed her to me.  He was hysterical and crying.  I grabbed her and said, “Neal, go call 911!  Tell them we have a baby that we found in a tub, and stay calm!”
    Neal ran down the stairs and called 911, while I sat on the stairs and cleared Kiy’s throat.  She was so cold!  I had learned CPR in school and in scouts, so I knew what to do, but something deep inside me shriveled into a tight little ball of fear as I started listening to her chest and automatically doing the things that had to be done.  What if she died?  My parents would never trust me again.  What would I do without my little sunshine?  She was my baby.  I’d spent almost as much time cuddling with her as Mom had.  I felt for her pulse and again pushed my fingers into her mouth and throat. 
    I was getting ready to start chest compressions and real CPR when she started to throw up and poop everywhere.  There was some on my shirt and all over the stairs, but I didn’t care.  Kiy was the most important and even though she was still blue, now at least she had shown some signs of life.
    Neal yelled for me to come downstairs and sit by the telephone, so he could give me instructions from the dispatcher.  I ran downstairs with Kiy in my arms and told Kinsey to get a blanket and clothes for Kiy.  I told Kiyna to go get my glasses and then to keep Nathan in the family room.  It wasn’t his fault.  He had put Kiy in the tub and we all knew it, but he didn’t understand that what he had done would hurt her.  He just wanted to give Kiy a bath.  They had baths together all the time, but never without someone making sure that nothing bad happened.
    I told Neal to tell the 911-dispatcher that Kiylee had a pulse and was breathing, but she was horribly blue and cold.  Meanwhile, our next door neighbor who is a paramedic, was pulling out of his driveway when he heard the call on his scanner.  He flagged down another neighbor who is also a paramedic.  She happened to be driving in front of our house right when we needed her.  Together, they began stabilizing Kiy within a minute of Neal's call.  The South Jordan paramedics arrived about five minutes later and kicked us out of the kitchen.
    We knew we had to call Mom and tell her what was going on.  I knew she would be upset.  She had worried that something would happen in Yellowstone, but she thought we were pretty safe in our own home.  I knew she wouldn’t blame Nathan; she would blame me.  I was supposed to be baby-sitting.  I was supposed to be responsible.  Kiy was so tiny and sweet and I had let her be in danger.  She might even die and it was all my fault!

    Neal called Mom and tried to tell her what was going on, but he ended up crying hysterically.  Mom was trying hard to stay calm, but she lost it when I told her we found Kiy in the tub.  I couldn’t tell her if Kiy would live or die, but I knew she wasn’t dead yet.  I tried to tell her that they were life-flighting Kiy to Primary Children’s Medical Center, but Mom was so hysterical that I don’t think she understood me.  A paramedic came in just then and I gratefully handed him the phone.  He told her to calm down and carefully drive to the hospital because she would probably get there before Kiy.  I stayed nearby during the entire conversation, but the paramedic didn’t tell them anything that I didn’t already know about Kiy’s condition.  He told them that she was still breathing, but that was all.
    I went back into the living room where all of my brothers and sisters were lined up on the couch.  They were crying and upset.  Neal was struggling with Nathan.  He didn’t want to sit quietly; he wanted to watch TV.  Neal was trying to put some clothes on him, but he wasn’t having much luck.  I took Nathan’s hand and he settled down.  I mechanically pulled on his Levis and t-shirt and slipped his arms into his coat.  I knew that the helicopter was on its way and I didn’t think that they would let us stay there without my parents since we had already had one accident.  I just wasn’t sure where we were going to go.  I knew the paramedics didn’t want us to see them stick IVs and breathing tubes into Kiy.  They also didn’t want us to know if she suddenly stopped breathing. 
    After a few minutes, our next door neighbor, Janice, took us all to her house.  They wouldn’t even give me time to change my shirt.  We sat on her living room window seat and we watched Kiy go down the street on a stretcher.  They didn’t dress her and she was covered with all sorts of tubes and wires.  The helicopter had landed in the middle of the street a couple of houses from ours.  The policemen had put up a tape-line so that none of our neighbors could get in the way. 
    We watched the life-flight crew load her tiny body into the helicopter and then we saw the helicopter take off.  All this time, our neighbors were gathering.  By the time Kiy’s helicopter was in the air, about 50 of my neighbors had gathered at our mailbox.  A neighbor organized a prayer circle and they all pleaded for a miracle.  Most of the people were crying and hugging their own children.  I think everyone thought that Kiy would probably die.  Why would they life-flight her if she could have ridden in the ambulance?  Besides, she was so cold and blue.  How would they ever get her temperature back up to normal before it damaged some of her body parts? 
    I was scared.  I looked at Neal and I could tell that he was scared too.  By then, I didn’t care if Mom and Dad grounded me for the rest of my life, as long as my little Kiy lived.  I just wanted to hold her in my arms and tell her everything would be OK, but I couldn’t.  It was Christmas Eve and we really needed a miracle.

Feb 25, 2013

Dare to Dream

I told you yesterday that I was boxing up old VHS movies to go into storage since I couldn't bear to part with them yet. Did I mention that some of them were Disney movies? Well, Prima Donna happened to come in while we were sorting and she nearly had a fit when we put Hercules into the box. Why is it that the girls are so enraptured with Disney?

Why do they identify with the Princesses? Every one of my girls have chosen their favorites. Want to guess?
Bossy - Ariel
Drama Queen - Belle
Teach - Pocahontas
Princess - Tiana
Prima Donna - Megara
Crafty - Rapunzel
Scout - Cinderella
Baby Doll -  Snow White

Me? I like Mulan. We loved the last Disney on Ice show because we got to see so many of our favorite traditional princesses, but I have to say that I'm really looking forward to the Dare to Dream show we are seeing next week. The previews look like it focuses on three specific princesses, all from our list...Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Tiana.

I hope you can all join us at that show in Salt Lake City. Our tickets are for opening night, March 6, and remember to use the MOM code when you buy your tickets to save a bunch of money!

Which Disney Princess do you like the best?


** I am a Feld Family Ambassador and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I received these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine. **

Feb 24, 2013

Lots of Movies

I don't know why, but we have hundreds of movies at our house! It didn't seem like an obsession. I was in high school when the first VCRs came out. We were fascinated with the idea that we could choose a movie we really liked, plunk down $3 for the movie and $5 to rent the VCR and then take the whole thing home and plug it into our TVs. It was amazing!

It was pretty expensive for everyday use, remember it was the early 80s, but for a party or even a date it wasn't too bad. We didn't have a VCR of our own until we lived in Logan in 1987 and then they were still very expensive. I'm sure my sweetie would disagree, but I'm thinking we paid three or four hundred dollars for our first one.

One of the first movies we owned was a copy of my graduation from the University of Utah. My sister made it for me and we didn't even have a VCR at the time to watch it. If I were really talented I'd figure out how to share a little footage with you. Maybe Bossy can do that.

Anyway, that was 25 years ago and now we have so many movies we don't know what to do with them all! And we have donated boxes full in the past. I just don't know what to do with all of these old VHS movies. The kids don't want to part with the Disney Princess movies because even though we have replaced many of them with DVDs, quite honestly a DVD doesn't have a very long shelf-life at my house. Half a dozen times in the DVD player and they are scratched beyond use.

Then there is the cupboard full of movies that we have only watched once. I don't know why we keep them. My sweetie says we paid too much for them to just get rid of them so they fill the cupboard and spill out onto the shelves. We just boxed up two large Tupperware boxes full of VHS movies to put in the storage room until we can bear to part with them.

 How do you deal with this problem?

Feb 23, 2013

Nothing But Cookies!

I spent the better part of my day loading and unloading, counting and recounting Girl Scout Cookies. My troop sold 312 cases of the tasty little beauties, but now comes the hard part...the delivery!

We are supposed to see a big storm tomorrow and I just know the girls are not going to want to go out in it. March Madness for me means not having a living room for a couple of weeks because there are cases of cookies stacked everywhere. It only dawned on me yesterday that I would likely still have cookies all over when the family comes on March 17 for Teach's farewell. Not sure yet how I'm going to deal with that yet.

But I do know that we will be loading up the van tomorrow right after building a little Grave Digger Monster truck at the Lowe's Class and making all of our neighbors happy. If you are one of them, quick find your checkbook and we'll see you in the morning!

Feb 22, 2013

Girls' Night Out

Last night Teach and I had the opportunity to go to the University of Utah Health Care "Girls Night Out" event. I had to work it in around basketball games and it was difficult but worth it. (Let me just say that Princess and Crafty each made 4 points in their game! It was the first points Crafty ever made in a YW game so she was really excited.)

Teach put together dinner while I was at the game and she put it on the table right before the two of us headed out the door. We had heard that there was to be some food at the event, so we took our chances and we were not disappointed. As soon as we walked in the door we were greeted immediately and invited to enter a drawing. We were each given a fold up makeup bag as a gift for coming and a glass of sparkling grape juice.

There were people everywhere to help us find what we were looking for, but since we missed dinner, we started with the food. It was awesome! We filled our little plates with meatballs, stuffed mushrooms, ham-wrapped asparagus, and skewers of chicken, tomatoes, and cheese. Then we found the dessert table loaded with cookies and tiny cake bites.

After we finished, we discarded our plates and moved to the nutrition area. The nutritionist handed out healthy recipes and explained the sugar and fiber content in dozens of foods. We were then able to sample a delicious pasta.

Our next stop was to head upstairs. I was mostly interested in speaking with a dermatologist. I have been blessed with clear skin and I rarely have trouble with acne, but my children are not so fortunate. So we spent most of our time listening to the various options and entering the drawings for free prevention kits. They gave us a trial- sized powdered weightless sunscreen and a mini bottle of soap! If we had more time we could have even gone back in the office and had our skin "read" under black light to see where the most sun damage had occurred. The services they offered were awesome!

They had lots of free drawings and we put our names in as many of them as we could. We listened to several doctors and learned a lot about being a woman. They had different booths for mental health, infertility, high-risk pregnancy, and so many others we didn't even get to see. We were still upstairs when Mary Nickles was speaking so we missed part of that, but we did hear her talk about her personal experience with cancer. At the very end we waited with bated breath as we held onto our tickets for the grand prize.....wait for it..... We didn't win. But we were pretty close! Hopefully we'll be getting a call soon with winnings from one of their other drawings though.

Teach and I had a basketball game at 8:00 so regretfully we had to leave at 7:30. I would have liked to visit a few more tables and taken a self-defense class. The info on menopause started at 8:00 so I still don't know anything about that, but we did win our basketball game. Teach made the first shot of the game with only 4 seconds ticked off the clock. I eventually ended up with 6 points and going up for a rebound I wrenched my left knee a little. I'm having a hard time walking without a limp this morning.

Maybe we should have stayed at Girls' Night Out.

To learn more about Girls Night Out you can click here.

***I was compensated for attending this event and posting a review.***

Feb 21, 2013

Guest Blogger: Mission Update - by Teach

Today marks the one month before I leave for Texas. My emotions behind that statement really can't even begin to be summed up because they range from bursting with excitement to curling up in the fetal position.  I guess you could call it an emotional roller coaster! Thanks to my wonderful parents I almost have everything I need for my mission and I even have a good handle on the packing already.  Thus I'm left with time on my hands. Usually this time is spent watching Psych with Baby Doll or other various children. We are pretty much hooked on at least one episode a day.  My dad keeps saying I should be breaking myself away from things that I won't be able to do on a mission, but my theory is I might as well "fill my canteen" right? It's crazy that I'm down to one month left of my life as I know it.
Yesterday Curly called me over to play a game of chess with him. I found him sitting there with all of his pieces and I was given one queen to move around the board. It reminds me of how in life sometimes we might feel alone, but we are never alone. We always have someone there to help us. Curly helped me put all of my pieces on the board and we commenced.  In the end I won that game, but we all need help every once in a while. So don't be afraid to ask. (:

I'm excited to go to Texas. I will surely miss my life here, but this is the greatest thing I could be doing at this point in my life. (: I know that it is the right thing, and that it will change me and my family forever. I'm sure you'll be hearing from me again in the next month! (:

Feb 20, 2013

President's Day of Service

On Sunday morning I asked my sweetie what he was planning to do on Monday. I knew he had taken the day off so we could spend it with the kids, but as far as I knew, he had yet to make any plans. Like usual, he threw the question back at me, but this time I was ready with an answer. "I think we should do a service project," I announced.

He looked a bit surprised, "Really?" I was a bit offended by his response. Our family often did service for others so this wasn't really a strange answer. "Well," I defended, "I was thinking maybe we should go visit your mom and see if we can help her with anything."

Now he really looked surprised. "That was exactly what I was thinking!" So the plan was born. He called his mom and got a feel for some of the things she might need done and then we gathered some tools and packed a picnic and early Monday morning (ok, it was ten, but it felt early to us) we got on the road. I even convinced the kids that our little army of helpers should wear their blog shirts so we all looked like a team.

We arrived at Grandma's house just before noon and the Dog Walker immediately got started cleaning up a bunch of deer poop that was trailed along her sidewalk. Apparently the deer were not a bit timid about wandering through her yard.

After greeting Grandma, everyone settled in to work. The kids cleaned cupboards and bathrooms, wiped cabinet fronts and washed windows. The Dog Walker changed out a bunch of burned out light bulbs that required a ladder. My sweetie fixed a cupboard door and put away boxes and Christmas things in the garage.

We ate sandwiches for lunch including some fabulous Terrel's doughnuts, and then started Round 2. There was sweeping and mopping and Grandma wanted some hand-sewing done on her curtains. That took me, Princess, and Drama Queen several hours to complete.

Some of the little ones got bored and brought out games and Legos. Sport made an awesome pair of glasses from basic blocks. Baby Doll loved the I-pad and Crafty and Scout played Mancala. By about 4:30 we finished all the tasks on Grandma's list. The kids put away their games and gave her a hug. I herded them all to the van while my sweetie vaccumed his way right out the front door.

We made the 2-hour drive and arrived just in time to grab dinner at Village Inn. (I love coupons!) We fed 10 of us for $36. Then we drove home so we could clean up our own house before we started the new week.

Did you do anything fun for President's Day?

Feb 18, 2013

Kiylee's Christmas - Chapter 6

Random pic of me and sweetie. Cause every post needs a picture.
It's Monday night and time to post another chapter of my never-before-published children's novel. Again, please hit me with your best ideas and comments.

I appreciate your honesty!

Chapter Six – A Family Trip

     We had never been on a vacation before.  Yeah, we’d been out of school for Christmas and summer, but I mean we’d never really gone anywhere.  We sometimes made plans, but when it came near time to leave, Mom and Dad would change their minds and say they didn’t have enough money and maybe we could go next year.  But this time, they weren’t making the arrangements. 
     Jim was getting married!  He was 36 and he had never been married before.  He is Mom’s oldest brother, but he gets mad at us when we call him “Uncle,” so it’s just Jim.  His wife was also 36 and she hadn’t been married before either, so Grandma and Grandpa wanted to have a big family thing to celebrate.  They planned another wedding reception just like Aunt Deb’s, except that this time Mom didn’t have to make the dresses.
     Anyway, Jim lives in New Zealand and his wife, Naimah, is from Singapore.  So they got married in Singapore and then they came to Utah for another wedding and reception.  They said their vows in Aunt Laurie’s backyard and the wedding reception was at a church near Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
The reception was pretty much the same, stand in line, shake hands, smile and pretend we’re having a good time.  That wasn’t the part I was excited about.  Back in December when Jim announced that he was getting married, he also invited the entire family on his honeymoon.  I know that sounds weird, but he thought that we all should get to know Naimah while she was in the United States since they would be going back to New Zealand and we wouldn’t get to see them that much.
     I didn’t care about that part, but the idea of a real vacation sounded great.  Jim put Aunt Laurie in charge and she started making arrangements for everybody.  She wanted money in January for all the rooms, so I knew if Mom and Dad paid up front, they wouldn’t back out at the last minute.  We were going to Yellowstone first; then we would go to Wyoming and spend some time in the Tetons and Jackson Hole.
We were supposed to leave the day after the reception and drive all day.  Then we would get to Yellowstone late in the day and spend our first night there.  It started out kind of fun.  Grandma rode with us and some of my other aunts and uncles traded cars so we could spend more time together.  We stopped at a rest area just before we left Utah and Nathan’s shoe fell out.  Dad picked it up and set it on top of the van.  That was the last time we ever saw it.  Don’t ask me why he didn’t just toss it back in the van!  Mom teased him about it for the rest of the trip.
     We played the license plate game and the alphabet game until we stopped in Idaho Falls for lunch.  By then we were getting tired of riding.  Kiy was just learning to crawl, so she hated being stuck in the van for that long.  Luckily, we bought a little TV and VCR that kept Nathan entertained, but the rest of us were pretty tired of watching Barney. 
     We wandered around the Idaho Falls LDS Temple for a while and watched the water slide off the edge of the embankment.  It was really cool.  It wasn’t really like a waterfall, because the water just kind of dropped off the edge and down into the canal.  Mom was really nervous because Nathan liked the water too much and she was afraid that if we let go of him for even a minute, we’d never see him again.  In fact, Mom’s little paranoia at the temple set the stage for the entire trip.  I don’t know, I guess she just thought that one of us would die somewhere along the way.  First it was the temple, but it got worse when we actually got to Yellowstone. 
      The first night we stayed at the Canyons.  The rooms were pretty small and our family and Grandma squeezed into two rooms.  Since we didn’t want to spend very much money, we also took coolers with food and drinks and stuff.  We didn’t want to attract any animals to the van, so we drug all of it into our room.  We didn’t have much room anyway, and having to trip over coolers and boxes just made it worse.  We were so crowded!
     But I was excited too!  We finally went somewhere on a family trip and it was even better than just our family.  We had everyone with us.  Mom has seven brothers and sisters and they were all there with their families except Gary, who wasn’t married and lived in Japan, and Aunt Deb and Uncle Layne.  They didn’t come because their baby was due any time and the doctor didn’t think that they should leave town.
Anyway, we had a pretty big group.  Our new aunt was nice, but we didn’t really get to spend much time getting to know her.  She rode the whole time with Grandma and Grandpa in their car and other than a little bit of time in the evenings, she and Jim stayed in their room.  I think she was tired.  She had that huge wedding in Singapore that she planned all by herself.  Then she came to Utah and went through another wedding and reception.  Then she got in a car and listened to Aunt Amy gab for hours.  She must have been exhausted!

     We got up that first morning after finally sleeping for a few hours.  I was staying with Grandma in her room about 30 feet from Mom and Dad’s cabin.  We opened the door and when we got about half way over to the other cabin, we noticed three buffalo standing about 50 feet from us!  Neal was scared, but he wouldn’t admit it.  I had read books on buffalo, so I knew how fast they could move.  I started walking faster, and I sort of pushed Neal in front of me.  We finally got to Mom and Dad’s door and I don’t think those buffalo even glanced at us.  Mom and Dad had the door locked and we finally roused them out of bed about ten minutes later.  Those buffalo could have eaten us in the amount of time it took for Dad to find his glasses and step over coolers and boxes to get to the door.
     Kinsey and Kiyna were very excited to see the buffalo, but Mom and Dad made us keep our distance.  Then Uncle Randy came over from his cabin to see what all the fuss was about.  He started walking toward them like they were in the zoo and there were iron bars to keep him safe!  He’s lucky they didn’t gouge him in the stomach.  We finally got him to move away from them and we all piled into the vans and cars for our first real look at Yellowstone.
     I think Mom’s first real look at Yellowstone was enough!  We drove a few miles to see one of the waterfalls.  I don’t know what she was expecting, but she put Kiy in the backpack and grabbed Nathan’s hand.  We all kind of skipped ahead on the path and Mom and Dad followed.  The path was well used, but the walls were short and really wouldn’t keep anybody safe.  The cliffs were high and they dropped two or three hundred feet to the river bottom.  That was the good part.  By the time we got to the waterfall, I thought Mom was going to be sick.  She wouldn’t let us get close to the wall to look over at the water.  Nathan’s hand was practically purple because she was holding it so tight.  Mom took one peek and hustled us all back to the van. 
     The second place we stopped was at the geyser basin.  Grandma helped Nathan into his stroller and started down the path.  Mom was changing Kiy’s diaper and she told all of us to stay put until she was finished.  It took us about ten minutes to realize that Nathan and Grandma were too far ahead and we weren’t going to catch up with them before we entered the basin.  Mom was terrified of the geysers and the pools of burning water that always went with them.  I thought she was going to faint when we couldn’t find Grandma and Nathan.  Grandma never remembered to fasten the seat belt in the stroller and Nathan liked to climb out whenever and where ever he wanted.  Because he couldn’t talk and understand things, “danger” was not something that bothered him.  Most of the time, “HOT!” didn’t even mean anything. 
We took the short path through the basin.  Mom had Kiy in the backpack and I could tell that Mom’s leg was bothering her.  She was very upset and after about 100 yards, she found a bench and sat down.  We waited there for about 15 minutes.  Dad found Uncle Glen and asked about Grandma.  They hadn’t seen her either.  Aunt Laurie’s family joined us on our bench and we all waited.
     Finally, we heard Grandma coming before we saw her.  Mom sent me down the trail to make sure she was OK.  She still had Nathan in the stroller and she was patiently pointing out things to him as they passed.  Nathan was looking around, content as could be with his little tour of the geyser basin.  As soon as we reached the rest of the group, Nathan climbed out of the stroller and started to run.  Mom grabbed at him and caught him, but luckily, Uncle Glen was close by, because as she grabbed for Nathan, Kiy nearly fell out of the backpack. 
     Of course we left the geyser basin right away.  Mom was a basket case.  I think that was the last time she got out of the van to look at anything.  When we stopped at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone I heard her ask Dad to please bring us all back.  She stayed in the van with Nathan and Kiy.  I think one of the reasons Mom was so upset was that at one of the bookstores, Grandma bought a book called Death in Yellowstone.  It talked about all these kids who had been mauled by bears, fallen into the geysers, or toppled off the cliffs.  Most of them were just plain stupid, but it was kind of scary how quickly something can happen.  I read the book too, and I remember one story about a guy who had his dog with him.  He was supposed to keep the dog locked in the truck, but he didn’t and the dog fell into a geyser.  The guy was stupid enough to jump in to try to rescue the dog.  Of course he and the dog both died.  The temperature was way above boiling. 
     Another story told about a mother who was standing there with her five-year-old son watching Old Faithful when the boy took one step backward because he was scared by the spray.  He fell off the boardwalk into a geyser pool and was scalded and died instantly.  That’s the one that scared Mom.  I think that ever since she found out that Nathan had problems, she just knew that something bad was going to happen. 
     As it turned out, the only injury anyone suffered on our vacation was a bite from a vicious buffalo gnat.  It got Neal right on the upper lip.  Within an hour, his lip was so swollen; it looked like he’d been in a boxing match and lost big time.  He could hardly eat and his lip cracked and bled.  We didn’t know why his lip was swollen until we were in a grocery store and a lady who had had a similar problem told us what to do for him. 
     The Tetons were more enjoyable.  Mom relaxed a bit and we were all able to have more fun.  We took a boat ride around a lake and we drove into town to a cowboy ranch for dinner.  Our cabins were much bigger and more comfortable.  Mom even said that we could come back to the Tetons sometime if we just skipped Yellowstone.
     We made our way home through Jackson Hole.  We had lunch there and then we shopped at some of the tiny stores.  Dad bought us doughnut holes from a street vendor who made them right in front of our eyes.  We also saw all of the elk horns stacked up at the park. 
     The ride home seemed even longer than the ride to Yellowstone.  Everybody was tired and ready for a nice hot bath.  It was late when we finally got home, so we just all kind of fell into bed.  We didn’t even unload the van.  Mom didn’t care, she was just glad to be home with everyone still alive.  I didn’t care, as long as I could sleep in my own bed and listen to my own music.  Nathan was just glad that he didn’t have to wear clothes all the time and Mom was so tired, she even let Kiy sleep with me.

Feb 17, 2013

Why I Need a Basketball Court

Sport's Dilemma
Note from Sweetie.. Last year we set a goal to finally build a basketball court in the backyard. (It had been planned into our original landscaping almost 20 years ago.) We moved the garden and then spent too much on vacation and new shingles. On Friday we got an estimate of our tax refund. Saturday I was at work and got a two-word text from Sandy. It simply said, "Basketball Court??" She was sitting at Sport's last Jr. Jazz game, so I didn’t get it...  
Then Sandy and the kids went and shot hoops at the church on Saturday night and Scout made her first 10-foot basket! And then this afternoon Gym Rat came in and said Sport needed some help...  Either I’m being manipulated by an organized sneaky group of co-conspirators or I really need a basketball court...
OK, so now I have to tell you about our 1/2 hour at the church! Sport wanted me to move all the cars off the driveway and block the balls from rolling in the street so they could shoot some hoops. I was busy in the house so I told them if they would gather all the trash from the front yard (we finally had most of the snow melt so we could see the damage) that I would run them to the church where they could really play.
Sport, Scout, and Curly thought that would be awesome, so they started working. About 20 minutes later they came in and announced that they were finished. After a quick inspection, I had to agree that they had earned their prize. They each grabbed a basketball and I cautioned Drama Queen against letting Burrito's birthday cake burn and we headed for the church.
I reminded them that we might not be able to get a court, but since my keys fit all three buildings, we would try. We stopped at my regular hangout where the women practice once a week and we were a little discouraged by the number of cars in the lot. I sent Sport inside and he reported back that a birthday party was in full swing.
He climbed back in and we headed for the second building. It only had a half court, but I figured that would be good enough for us. Apparently some other kids thought the same thing, so we pointed the van toward the stake center. I guessed the odds were pretty slim that we would get the opportunity to play, but I had promised to try. 
There were only a couple of cars in the parking lot, so we all got out and headed for the door. As soon as we got into the hall, I could hear a ball bouncing in the gym. Undeterred, Sport decided to investigate anyway. 

There were some teenaged boys practicing at one end of the floor. I asked them if they minded if we shot for a few minutes at the other end of the court and they graciously agreed. We each had a ball and spent the next few minutes tossing them toward the hoop. 

It wasn't long before Curly got discouraged and climbed the stairs to the stage. There was no way he was going to be able to shoot that high. Scout gave up too, but she decided to start chasing the ball and passing it to me so I could shoot. At least then she could get credit for an assist.

After about 10 minutes of that, she decided to include Curly. She grabbed my pink ball and tossed it to him so he could toss it to me. Since he was still sitting on the stage, I was outside the 3-point line and then I would turn and shoot. After I made two three-pointers in a row that way, he got down off the stage so he could participate a little better. 

We shot from all over the floor and they were running and giggling and chasing the ball. Then I announced it was almost time to go. Sport kept saying, "Just one more shot!" Scout grabbed her ball and started trying to make one last shot of her own. After numerous valiant attempts, and a few that actually hit the rim, I consoled, "Don't worry, soon your arms will be strong enough to get it up there."

With that bit of advice, she took a deep breath and threw the ball with all her might. It hung for a moment on the top of the rim and then gently fell through the hoop! We started yelling and high-fiving. Curly looked a little sad as he slipped on his jacket. He was the only one who hadn't made a shot that day.

My sweetie cleared the driveway so they could play.
I leaned over and suggested, "Want me to ask one of those boys to lift you up so you can make it?" He looked over at the boys who were having their own half-court game and then shook his head. "Really," I said, "I'll ask them for you." Again he shook his head and clutched his ball tighter. So I did what any mother would do...

"Hey, would one of you guys lift my little guy up so he can make a basket?" They stopped their game and one of the tallest boys walked toward us. He lifted Curly high over his head until he was about two feet under the basket and then


First time. All the boys cheered with us as we headed out the door. 

Yeah, we need a basketball court, we already have a couple of tall big brothers and lots of people who love basketball.

Feb 16, 2013

Guest Blog: Monster Jam!! by Sweetie

So thanks to my wife’s awesome blog we got to try a fun family activity we hadn’t done before.   We went to a Monster Truck event, and not just any event, the top dog of monster truck events... Monster JAM!  At the last minute we got 4 rather than 2 tickets.  After a bit of drama with who got to use the tickets, me, Sport, Scout, and Curly headed off to the Energy Solutions arena.
After stopping off real quick at my work to get the fourth set of ear protectors.. yes, I have noise earmuffs at my desk (let’s just say the guys behind my cube like to talk).  So I was driving into downtown and about 30 seconds before we got to the parking lot, I realized I had two small boys and one small girl on a 4-plus hour adventure and no one to go into the restroom with Scout. Maybe she  wouldn’t have to go. Just then a small voice begged, "Daddy, I need..."

We picked up our tickets at will call.  I headed for the stairs.. and as I handed the tickets to the usher he said the sweetest words I heard all night.  "You're on the suite level. That’s two flights up...A suite? Really? Suites have their own bathrooms.  Problem solved!  Ironically, the suite used for the bloggers normally belongs to my employer.  Didn’t think I would ever see the inside of that one or any suite for that matter.   

After settling in we got to watch some awesome street trucks race around before the main event. Then there was a very cool opening where police officers, firefighters, EMTs, service men and women were all recognized. Then it was time for the trucks. The kids were fascinated for the first 20 minutes, then Scout started exploring the suite. 

Curly started to doze off and the grin on Sports face was replaced with a seriously concerned look. Intermission and some amazing motorcycle tricks had Sport back into it and Scout even stopped getting yet another ice water and started watching again. Curly peacefully slept.

Overall the freestyle was their favorite. That’s probably why it was last. As we were leaving I asked each of the kids what they liked and didn’t like, so straight from the most honest critics, here you go.

Pros:   Trucks were cool.  Drivers were nice and gave away their trophies.  The motorcycles were cool and some of the jumps were amazing. The cutest truck was the Dalmatian and it has a girl driver! The steam from the bull's nose is cool. 

Cons:  Too slow. Only squished cars. Tricks weren't as cool on the website. The don’t  throw free stuff into the suites. Didn’t understand the rules (that is what had been stressing Sport.. he didn’t understand the rules and he didn’t like being confused). Batman, and Superman trucks weren't there.
So overall as a parent my thoughts.
1.  I was impressed by the detail to fan and driver safety.  There are numerous officials with  emergency controls (shut off and brakes I believe). If a driver is getting into a dangerous situation, they shut down the truck. 

2.  Small arena monster trucks is a bit lame compared to the highlights of the outdoor stadiums.

3.  If you're taking small children, invest, buy, borrow earmuff-style sound protection.  We had a way easier time than the parents trying to keep disposable ear plugs in their small children's ears.

And last but not least.   Don’t take the kids to a monster truck show  if you hate hearing things like "Best night ever!" "We've got to do this again!" "Can we go the Vegas and watch the Nationals?"  Oh, and for what I thought was my best idea of the evening (packing the Hot wheels Monster Jam trucks for them to play with), I’m sure they will play with them tomorrow, but tonight they would rather watch the real thing!

My wife sent me a text saying take lots of pictures...I only ended up with 307...digital photography is so cool for those of us who remember paying for and developing film...
Thanks for the amazing show!

** I am a Feld Family Ambassador and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I received these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine. **

Feb 15, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

So how was your Valentine's Day? I wasn't feeling very well yesterday or today, but I wanted to do something special for the kids so after lunch I whipped up a batch of pink cupcakes. Teach brought me home some heart-shaped chocolates and I added those to make them a bit more festive.

Meanwhile, she had a valentine idea of her own. She pulled out all the heart-shaped cookie cutters and she was helping Baby Doll and Curly make little pizzas for after school snack. She even used tiny fondant cutters to cut the pepperoni into heart shapes! Although I think Baby Doll ate about half the pepperoni before it ever got on a pizza. That big one was for Dad.

After the got home from school and ate their pizza, we took the extra cupcakes to some of the neighbors and the kids delivered their valentines to their neighborhood friends. My sweetie came home in time to go to Princess and Crafty's basketball game and he brought me a box of chocolates and a heart-shaped balloon. Yeah, I got a good one!

We got home just in time to make Hawaiian haystacks for dinner and quickly clean up the house. The Dog Walker had registered a Just Dance party for the One Billion Rising event. He learned about it in his Humanities class. The organizers were trying to get 1 billion people to stand up and say they were tired of violence against women. Honestly, when he registered his event on the website, we only expected it to be a family affair. Then we got a response from someone saying they were coming with 6 of their closest friends!

I immediately panicked and we all madly cleaned the house for an hour to make it a bit more presentable. When the Dog Walker took off for his basketball game at 7:00, I sent Teach to the store for some cookies. If people were coming, I didn't want to send them away without a treat.

We started the dancing promptly at 8:00 and by 8:30 we decided these random guests weren't really coming. So the 11 of us stood up again violence and then we all ate cookies. Just what we needed, a little more sugar.

I hope you all had an amazing Valentine's Day full of love and chocolate!

...and dancing.