From Sunday: A Clearer View

Sometimes I get completely overwhelmed.
Like this morning.
As I was trying to get everyone ready for church.
And I mistakenly thought it would be a good time to have the girls clean out the homework cart.
I was walking around the house, gathering towels and headbands to use as Nephi, Abinadi, and Alma costumes for my Primary class.
And I was also trying to clean up after the kids.
And my husband.
And my brother.

I wished I would have done everything yesterday, but my Saturday didn't go the way I had planned.
We tried to go to the BSA Ropes Course Challenge with two other families for RAMP Summer Saturdays.
Steve even went with us.
The sign on the fence said RAMP Saturday was last week.
Well, not according to the calendar.

Lucy went to Layla's house and Rachel went to work with Steve.
I cleaned the kitchen, put away the laundry, dropped Adam off at a birthday party, and drove out to Debra's house.
Kaleigh was so very excited to go play, but she fell asleep in the car.
So I picked up some awesome hand-me-downs, visited with Debra, and left.
And then Kaleigh woke up, crying for Keira.
I might have told her she wasn't home.

I wanted to mow the lawn, but I couldn't find the key to the shed anywhere.
After an exhaustive search around the house, I finally called Steve.
The key was in his truck.
The truck was at Acapellastock at the Ogden Amphitheater.
Which grossed $128 in taco sales and ended up being a royal waste of Steve's time/effort.
Steve drove the key home to me and ended up mowing the lawn himself.

I went on a late-night shopping trip to WinCo.
I had just put the green peppers in the cart when I realized I had no wallet with me.
Steve brought me my wallet.
It's a good thing we now have two vehicles.

Back to Sunday morning. . .
How in the world did Adam grow out of his church shoes already?
They are only a few weeks old.
His white shirt is already too short for him, and he still needs a haircut.
And speaking of haircuts, it's been a solid eighteen months since I've had a haircut.
Lucy was squealing because she thought I shrunk her new dress.
(It's polyester. And I washed in cold and hung flat to dry, so I don't think that's even possible.)
Rachel was yelling at me that I left the shed doors open all night.

Who turned off the church music? There is always less yelling when church music is playing.

I escaped to my room.
Made my bed and said a prayer.
A long prayer.
A plea-for-help prayer.
Because there are so many other troubles on my mind.
"Mom, Mom, Mom! Mom? Mom? MOM!"
Rachel was walking around the house looking for me.
I was still praying.
Even though I felt like my head was about to explode.

The phone rang.
It was a hotel broker.
She wanted to know if I would be interested in selling their mattresses.
Curiosity got the best of me so I asked a few questions.
But seriously?
Used hotel mattresses?
I wanted to say "No way!"
But instead I politely said, "No, thank you."
I will stick to selling new mattresses for Sam.
Or not.
Steve really wants to reclaim our garage.

We have a mullet house.
Business up front, party in the back.
But not a party, just a cluttered garage and a dead lawn.
Two things that prevent me from actually having any parties.
I supposed I should be relieved that we weren't chosen to appear in SelectHealth's next advertising campaign.
We would have needed some sod.
And haircuts.

I sent a text message to the PTA president and told her I was sorry, but there was no way I could start a new project right now.
Someone else would have to be in charge of the school newsletter this year.

"The tooth fairy came! The tooth fairy came!" squealed Adam.
That was the lone success of the morning.
And I don't know if you call losing a tooth on a Tuesday and the tooth fairy finally coming on Saturday night much of a success.

Lucy looked me square in the eyes.
Lucy: Is the tooth fairy real?
Me: No.
Lucy: I knew it! So it's really just your parents?
Me: Yep.
Lucy: What about Santa Claus?
Me: Just your parents.
Lucy, with a twinge of disappointment: Really?
Me: Really.
Lucy: So you are the one who gave me that iPod?
Me: Yep.
Lucy: Awesome!
Rachel, from the other room: Don't forget to tell her about the Easter Bunny!
Lucy: I already knew about that one.
Quick talk about importance of not telling other kids ensued.

The kids were making messes faster than I could clean them up.
Adam and Kaleigh were taken to their room with a stack of books.
And forbidden to get off their beds until it was time for church.

It's no secret that Sundays aren't always my favorite day of the week.
Plenty of reasons for that.
And I never seem to feel well on Sundays.
"Taking it easy" is easier said than done.
Because there are always kids that need to be lifted up and hugged.
And heavy boxes from Costco that need be carried.
And grapes that need to be planted.

We got to church.
Five minutes early.
We hadn't even finished the opening hymn when I realized that Adam wasn't wearing any underwear.
He told me that it was my fault.
"You didn't bring me any!"

Steve texted me from the stand to ask for an update on a family in our ward.
Which quickly put my problems into perspective.
Her mother is dying of cancer.
Her teenage sister will be moving in with her.
And she is pregnant.

Has everyone seen this?

Immediately after the sacrament, I drove Adam back home for some underwear.
We returned to the chapel to hear the second half of Matthew Godfrey's talk on parenting.
It was inspiring.
And certainly inspired.
He got advice from Elder Summerhays once:
"Do what the church tells you to do and trust the process."
Say your prayers, read your scriptures, have Family Home Evening.
And be willing to make sacrifices.

A young missionary was the second speaker.
He was humble and capable.
And I thought he was going to share something that must have been very personal.
But he kept it in.
He asked us:
"Do we have the desire to share the gospel with other people?"
Because that is how we know we are truly converted.
I need to be more converted.

The closing song was perfect.
And I was reminded why we go to church.

Hymn #14 Sweet Is the Peace the Gospel Brings

Sweet is the peace the gospel brings
To seeking mind and true.
With light refulgent on its wings,
It clears the human view.

Its laws and precepts are divine
And show a Father's care.
Transcendent love and mercy shine
In each injunction there.

Faithless tradition flees its pow'r,
And unbelief gives way.
The gloomy cloud, which used to low'r,
Submit to reason's sway.

Steve brought a few blank pieces of paper to scriptures at the kitchen table.
After we finished reading, we went around the table and said what we had lost.
Yes, you read that correctly.
I was the scribe.
And then Steve went around the house and helped us look for the items.
Because he is awesome.
He found the battery cover to the wireless keyboard and Lucy's iPod.
We are still looking for his Sonora Grill hat, Paul's 3rd Gen hat, and my green CamelBak water bottle.
(Lucy's iPod is back on the lost list again.)

He put the kids to bed.
And then we had a long, late-night talk about our role as parents.
A talk about how we need to try to understand more and change less.
About how our Heavenly Father has a plan for us.
And for our children.
Our role is to teach and guide.
And love.

I went to bed.
Very late.
With a much clearer view.


Pineview Reservoir

My kids were heartbroken at the thought of switching locations for our annual Malouf Labor Day Weekend. So before school started, I texted a bunch of friends and planned a little day trip to Pineview Reservoir. The stars must have been aligned because almost all of them came.

Nine ladies, thirty kids, and my cousin, Matt.

We rented this inflatable "Jungle Joe" playground from Club Rec. It was fabulous. 

I wish I would have taken more pictures, but I might have been having too much fun playing. 

We also rented a paddleboard. (You were right, Lindsey, I totally want to buy one.)

Some kids got buried in the sand: 

While others built forts out of sand: 

I thought the rain clouds were beautiful, but some of the kids were frightened by the lightening.

 We had to practically drag some of these boys away from the beach.

And then we got caught in a bit of a sandstorm. Good times at Pineview Reservoir. 

Why I Love Ogden #154

Last month, we participated in the Ogden Pioneer Days Children's Parade. These four kids rode their bikes: 

And these three girls rode on the float with the Ogden City's Summer Recreation Program: 

I was just certain it was going to rain, so I dressed for Alaska weather. Instead, it was hot and muggy, which left me slightly miserable. We were told to be there by 8:30 am for a 9:00 am start time. But the parade didn't actually start until 9:30 am, so there was a lot of waiting involved.

I was looking forward to a nice leisurely walk with Adam, but of course he decided to be fast for once and kept pace with the truck. Which was driving way too fast for any of the adults, who were all on foot. So I had to run to make sure that Adam didn't smash his bike into the back of the truck. 

Did I mention it was hot? I should have brought my bike. Or my Segway:

Here is the group shot after the parade. Look how much older they look than our first children's parade two years ago.

Immediately after the parade concluded (and we had collected our free tickets to the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo. . . yes, that is one of the reasons that we go), we hustled over to the Salomon Center.

As part of Fat Cats' Five Year Anniversary Bash, they were offering five dollar helicopter rides. I hadn't ever ridden in a helicopter before. And you can't beat five dollars. We called Steve, who gave us the update that there were only a handful of people in line. (Only a handful? Lucky for us, but, seriously, what is wrong with people?!?) We didn't want to miss out, so we ran the two blocks back to Sonora Grill, ditched our bikes, and hurried over to claim a spot in line.

We stood in line with about a dozen other people for 45 minutes before Fat Cats even opened. There were some funny things that took place in that line because nobody really knew exactly what the rules were and some people were very eager to secure a ticket. One woman passed around a piece of paper and made us all sign our names, to prove that we had been in line.

This photo makes it look like it was a pleasant wait, but it wasn't.

The kids raided the free newspaper bin and littered the sidewalk with their newspaper fans. And they went back and forth to Sonora Grill to get water and go to the bathroom approximately fifteen times.

But I've decided it's good to teach kids to wait for things. Especially when I have candy to keep me the little one from driving me crazy.

We bought our tickets and then waited another hour or so inside, with air conditioning. We let another group go in front of us so we could all ride together in the limousine. Yep, that's right. It wasn't just a helicopter ride, we also got to ride out to the airport in a limousine:

Gretchen was cautiously excited: 

Lucy was I-can't-believe-I'm-in-a-limo excited:

And then the kids started to get a little out of control:

They were sure to leave their fingerprints on every single glass and other fancy item in the limousine: 

Rachel goes, "These windows are tinted, right? So they couldn't even see if I was picking my nose. Look, world, I'm picking my nose, and you can't even see me!"

The limo ride was only a few miles long, which was good for our sanity. The driver dropped us off at Whirlybird Helicopters

And he was even kind enough to pose for a picture with the kids:

Adam was so excited. Because helicopters are so cool.

They are also very windy:

Group #1: Lucy, Angela, Gretchen:

Up, up, and away: 

I was in Group #2 with Adam and Jake. It didn't take long for Adam to realize he had a microphone: 

Jake sat up front with the pilot:

We circled around Ogden and then landed back at the airport. 

Gracie, Rachel, and Mike were in Group #3: 

It was so windy that they had to put on the doors:

We played charades while we were waiting for the limousine to come back: 

Gracie did some hula-hooping: 

Gretchen did some vacuuming:

 Nobody could figure out what Kaleigh and Adam were doing, but I guess they knew?

Or maybe not?

And then we had to go eat at the Best Mexican Restaurant in Utah. . . so we could tell Steve all about our day:

Bike parade + limousine ride + helicopter ride + lunch at Sonora Grill = 7 extremely happy kids

I love Ogden. 


Alaska Road Trip: Day 25 (The Final Chapter)

We arrived in Bellingham, Washington just before 8:00 am and quickly packed up our belongings. 

The disembarking process was painfully slow. Tightly parked vehicles on the car deck are not conducive to loading luggage. The passengers all seemed agitated and tempers were slowly rising. These kids were hungry.

But at least they were happy.

It was, however, another we-are-not-ready-for-a-trip-to-South-Africa realization.

We stopped at a gas station with doughnuts and bananas and drove towards Seattle. Although we were originally scheduled to spend two full days and two nights in Seattle, Steve was suddenly very anxious to get home to return to work. Sonora Grill's magnetic forcefield didn't reach us while we were in Alaska, but Seattle is, apparently, within range.

I convinced Steve to at least let us stop at Pike Place Market. Because I love fruit. And because the kids had never been to Seattle and everyone who goes to Seattle needs to go to Pike Place.

Suddenly, amidst the busyness of the city, those four kids seemed so small.

We admired the pretty flowers: 

And the brightly colored vegetables:

We bought some delicious peaches. . . and strawberries. . . and raspberries:

We watched guys at the Pike Place Fish Co. throw some fish: 

And then, amongst the thousands and thousands of people at Pike Place Market:

We looked over and saw these guys:

I wish I had an audio recording of Sam. It went something like this: "What? What! What? WHAT!"

We didn't know they were in Seattle, and they didn't know we were in Seattle. It was wild.

Of course, I quickly asserted my position that we needed to stay in Seattle for the day. Because that's what you do when you run into your brother and his family when you are eight hundred miles from home. Sam is one of Steve's favorite people in the whole world, so I knew I had some bargaining power. Steve was completely focused on getting home, but he reluctantly agreed that we could go to the Space Needle with them.

We walked back to our vehicles and couldn't believe that we were parked seven cars away from their Pilot. 

We (narrowly) made it to the Space Needle without losing any of the kids. 

Sam didn't stop talking during any of the five pictures I took of the group. 

Blue skies and warm temperatures made for a ridiculously long line at the Space Needle. And none of us could successfully download the program to let us pre-buy our tickets from our phones. 

So Sam and Kacie saved the day by letting me and the kids use their city passes to go up without them. (Steve refused to go up to the top of the Space Needle, saying it was the lamest tourist attraction ever.) 

Kacie quickly took India to the mall. Sam and Steve stayed with Fred and Finn. And I took the four kids to the top of the Space Needle. Lucy wins the prize for the best facial expression: 

The views were pretty amazing: 

This is what Sam looked like when a man came up to him and Steve and offered to take a picture of "their family". It's too bad that they instinctively said no because a picture would have been awesome. 

After all of that waiting, Steve decided that we needed to go eat at Paseo.

Because they have the best Cuban pork sandwiches ever. 

The small seating area inside the restaurant was already overflowing with customers, so we decided to take our food to the Fremont Troll Bridge. It was, quite possibly, one of the worst decisions of our entire trip.

There we were, with bags and bags of to go boxes. (Because sometimes Steve wants to order the entire menu.)

The food was fabulous:

But it was not the right atmosphere. Because the Troll Bridge is actually disgusting. 

 Some of the adults (and one of the kids) were good sports and dug right in:

Some of the kids wished they had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich:

Some of the kids thought the thick layer of dirt was just as good as a sandy beach: 

And some of the kids were completely grossed out. I can hear Rachel's voice, "There are homeless people who live under this bridge and they go to the bathroom outside. So this dirt is has poop and pee in it. And you just laid down in it."

All while we were trying to enjoy these amazing sandwiches:

How did we forget that the Troll Bridge was so dirty? 
It was not a good place for food. 
Or kids. 
Which made it a horrible place for food and kids. 
At least we had good company. 

Steve took the little kids back to the car, took their clothes off, and gave them baths with bottled water and baby wipes. 

Rachel and Lucy bribed Sam to tell them the story of the time he and some friends dumped thirty gallons of pig poop on Union High School as a prank. The prosecutor wanted to make an example of them, so they were punished punitively, stripped of scholarships, and charged with felonies. (The charges were lowered after years of fighting in court.) 

Rachel thoroughly enjoyed the story:

But Fred was the most entertaining to watch: 

We said our good-byes and started driving. We drove and drove and drove. Actually, Steve did all of the driving between Seattle and Ogden. When Rachel and Lucy were tiny, I drove them to Portland by myself. I had no idea that, since then, Steve had felt like he had something to prove in the driving department. (I would have been more impressed if he had held his bladder for six-plus hours like I did on my trip.)

I do a whole lot of the driving in our family. Partly because it gives Steve time to work on other things and partly because I am a nervous passenger. . . or maybe Steve makes me a nervous passenger?

Me: You are way too close to the side of the road.
Steve: How many miles have we driven together?
Me: A lot.
Steve: And have I ever run into anything?
Me: Just think of all of the times I've stopped you.

The kids slept through the night in the car, and Steve and I had such a good chance to talk. Somewhere around Malad, Idaho, as we were pushing through the night, we planned next year's road trip . . .  to Mexico. Which has since then evolved into Panama. . .

We arrived home at 6:18 am. Our official trip mileage was 6530 miles.

Steve unloaded the sleeping kids. Check out his white beard:

He admired the landscaping that Jared Bradley with Los Gringos completed while we were gone:

And then he trimmed all of the weeds. Because apparently, that's what you do at 8:00 am when you have just returned from a twenty-five day road trip.

I love my husband. 
And I loved our Alaska adventure.