Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What did we do for the three weeks that Grace "tracked off" of school? (that's me trying to use year-round school lingo...)

We spent every single day of her break visiting grandparents. It was a loooooong vacation, but it was great. (and sadly, although my camera was out constantly at Reid's parents..I only busted it out twice at mine... I hate when i do that.)

In Wyoming:

We built sand castles....
Check out that sandbox that Reid's dad built!!

We fed the horsies...

We rode the horsies

I know that props should go to my girls for being brave enough to do this...but could I get a little pat on the back, too? That horse could have eaten Eliza!

We swam. We swung (swinged?swang?). We played

We jumped on the neighbors trampoline.

And we bribed the girls into posing and being happy for a few hopes of getting one awesome picture. Eliza's still not quite ready for full-fledged bribing, so she was the hardest one to work with. But they still turned out pretty cute (although i wish i could go back and take out abby's not-so-little flower...)

Reid's family is awesome. Hanging out with them is always a good time. We loved every relaxing, sun-soaking, camp-fire cooking moment with them!

Heading to Provo was hard. It was the first time going there knowing I wouldn't see my mom. I don't know how, but I miss my mom more now than ever. I guess it's getting easier in some ways, too, but not in the 'missing' department. I miss her lots, and it sucked pulling up to the house and knowing she was not there. I found myself talking to her several times while I was there. She is everywhere in that house. Which is wonderful and hard.

So we kept busy. We spent just about every free second at cabinet shops, granite yards, flooring showrooms or Lowes. My parents' kitchen has needed a little updating for 3 decades now, and my dad finally decided to do it! I was more than happy to swindle deals and find the best price on everything for him :) The remodel won't take place for a few more weeks, so there are no before-after pictures yet. But we did remove all the (25 year old!) wallpaper in the dining area.

the top picture is the "before" and the others are "during." My dad's still working on
some of the glue left on the wall, so no "after" picture yet.

I had two wonderful friend "reunions". I love getting together with my life-long bff's (and i'm pretty sure we all secretly believe that we invented that term). We had so much fun, i couldn't stop smiling for days. I know i've said this before, but I really have some amazing friends. And sadly i don't have the picture that Grace took of all of us--it's on one of their cameras (hint hint, to whichever of you has that photo!). Grace captured us from our chins down. It's awesome.

Both my niece and Reid's sister started their freshmen year at BYU. It was awesome being in Provo while they were there, and getting settled in. But going to their dorms and meeting all their roomies made me feel ooooold. Not that 32 is old. cause it's not. But I just kept thinking that surely I was sooooo much older than they are when I was a freshman. And thinking like that--well, that makes me feel old! I'm so happy for them, though. They're both loving college life already. And i love that they can (and have!) head over to my Dad's for quick visits anytime.

Eliza turned TWO while we were in UT. She is changing so much, even I am seeing it--and constantly shocked by it. She has turned into this sweet, adorable, funny, clever and chatty little girl. I am loving this phase she's at! I think I was too overwhelmed and tired to enjoy Grace or Abby at this age. So i'm just soaking in every sweet thing Eliza says and does--cause it turns out that 2 year olds are actually REALLY fun when they don't have a baby sister stressing mom out all day :)

She still gets a little shy when she's around new people. Or when a group of people start singing Happy Birthday to her. Like in this photo. She was happy at the first of the song until she realized we were all singing to her...then she put on her shy face.

We didn't do a party or anything, but I don't think she noticed. My dad picked some plums from his tree and made the best homemade ice cream I've ever had! She had 3 servings. I'm pretty sure that's better than anything i could have bought for her. She LOVES fruit, and she LOVES ice cream. She must be related to me and Reid!

We drove back home on Labor Day. Which left us with one day to unpack, etc, before Grace "tracked on" and Abby started preschool!
Abby on her first day of 2 mornings/week preschool

One day at home was MORE than enough. My girls have been fighting so much lately, and we've all been having frequent battles with one of them in particular. So, i welcomed the start of school with open arms. Abby's in the mornings, Grace is in the afternoon. And keeping them apart as much as possible seems to be key to keeping the peace in our home. Nothing makes me happier than when they get along. Nothing drives me crazier than when they fight.

Eliza's in a little "joy school" with a few friends. It started today, at my house. There were seven 2 year olds here for two hours. It was actually not as bad as I'd anticipated, especially 'cause i don't have to do it again until the end of October :)

We're staying put for a while now. Three+ weeks away from home is a long time. It was awesome to be with family. And it's good to be back

And now we're off to parent-teacher conferences--our very first one!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Julia, Melanie and I had an absolutely wonderful trip to Indiana to visit our sister, Cynthia. The last time we were all together was in 1998!! So, i'm really glad we finally got our butts in gear and got out there!!

We had quite the list of objectives going into this trip. Mostly, we wanted to do things that could lift a small bit of the load that Tom carries, and uplift our sister, whose life is ruled by her Multiple Sclerosis. And although we didn't actually have a list before going there, these were the things we discussed, planned, and hoped to get done while there:

1. Spend as much time as possible visiting with our sister, Cynthia, and her hubby, Tom.
2. Empty out the abundant boxes in, and put back together, their guest room and study.
3. Clean out the garage, which also acts as Tom's guitar workshop, and their only "storage" in the house.
4. Have a garage sale in order to a) raise funds for a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for Cynthia, and b) help them de-clutter!
5. Survive the cats. All six of them. By "survive" i mean not let my asthma get so bad that I have to go to the E.R., or our eyeballs get so swollen that we can't see.
6. Cook and freeze 35 meals for T & C to eat throughout the school year (7 different recipes to make 35 meals) and organize their kitchen cupboards.
7. Photograph the FOUR new guitars Tom has handcrafted this summer!! (thank heavens he has a hobby he enjoys this much!!!)
8. Visit Lake Monroe, a lake near their house that they go to as often as they can and that Cynthia's been raving about since they discovered it a few years back.
9. Play games with Tom and Cynthia--specifically Trivial Pursuit....which my sisters and I ALWAYS lose, yet keep coming back for more.
10. Have a Memorial Service for our mom--something for Cynthia to participate in, a chance for her to sign the guestbook, hear the hymn we sang (the one my mom composed that all her children sang at the close of her funeral), read some of my mom's poems, and have an experience together that could help fill the void that Cynthia feels from missing our mom's funeral.

Now, Cynthia's aides, friends and husband didn't think we could do it all. But you know what?

We did.

All of it.

We were amazing. I could try to be modest and say that we just did what any sisters would have done....buuuuuuuuut...


We were amazing.

1. We enjoyed every minute of visit-time with Cynthia that we could. Her M.S. makes it difficult for long visits, but we had enough work to do when she was unable to visit--it actually worked out really well.
2. We cleaned and organized and de-boxed more books and stuff than you could imagine. They had a small house-fire before Christmas. The insurance company basically dumped all their belongings into these two rooms... and since "free-time" doesn't exist in Tom's life these rooms were full of random parts of furniture and 100's of boxes (mostly full of books) stacked to the ceiling. PLUS there was cat hair on every single surface. And of course there was cat dander in the cat hair. No amount of clariton was gonna keep our allergies at bay. But i suppose it helped some.... Of course i didn't get a SINGLE before picture!!! And the after one isn't great since the only 4 remaining boxes in the entire house are in this picture. But please use your imagination... and tell us, next time you see any of us, how awesome we are.

3. Tackling the garage on Day 2 was way easier than the bedrooms on Day 1. I think we'd all take saw-dust and spider webs over cat-dust and hair! And it was fun to help make Tom's workspace a little more workable! Again, no pics!
4. The garage sale was a huge success! We got tons of donations from neighbors and church friends, we met the most interesting people and have some great stories from it. We got rid of almost all the stuff, and raised over $600 for T and C!! The local bagel co. donated their bagels, we sold bottled water, handmade hairbows and we had AMAZING weather--not humid, not rainy, not hot--just awesome. It turns out that it's a huge pain to get ready for a garage sale, and i've vowed NEVER to do one again....but this one was worth every minute!!
5. The cats were....catty. Day 1 just about did us all in. But after that, I think that all three of us found our allergies weren't as bad as we'd anticipated, and for the most part, the cats left Melanie and me alone...although they loved Julia :) Is it just a coincidence that she disliked them the most out of all of us? probably....
6. Chimichangas, lentil soup, Veggie burgers, minestrone and more--all frozen, all awaiting those busy evenings when Tom doesn't have a minute to cook. I'm so glad that this objective actually happened. And while Melanie cooked, I photographed instruments, and Julia tackled the cupboards. We were amazing.
7. Just look at these guitars!!! Seriously. Tom makes these! from flat pieces of wood!!! it honestly blows my mind, it really does. And they sound absolutely AMAZING, too.

Guitar #1

Guitar #2Guitar #3

Guitar #4
If you know anyone who would love an amazing handmade guitar for Christmas, a birthday, or just ' sure to let Tom know!

8. The time we spent at Lake Monroe was actually the highlight of the trip for me. It was the most peaceful time of our 5 days there. The Multiple Sclerosis that rules their life, that is a part of everything they do, just disappeared at the lake. It was just us. It was a miracle that Cynthia had the energy to get out of the house, and last for so long there! We watched boats and boaters and talked and listened to waves. No M.S. No worries. No cats. No objectives. It was a beautiful moment--the kind you thank God for because it so easily could not have happened. And i brought the girls back some awesome souvenirs from this lake--a bunch of geodes to crack open! My girls LOVED them (as any Princess and the Pauper fan would!)

9. Tom and Cynthia are the King and Queen of Trivial Pursuit. You'd think it wouldn't be fun to play with them...but it is. In fact, they're my favorite people to play with...and not just 'cause the game goes by so quickly :) And this time we actually got a few wedges of our own!
10. The memorial for our mom was nice. It was cut short, so some things were left out. But we had time to read some poems and talk about our mom--all the ways we're like her, the ways we're not, and all the things we miss about her. Our brief little memorial could never make up for the fact that Cynthia missed the funeral, and didn't get to say goodbye to my mom in person. But it was something. And it always feels good to do something.

The whole trip went by so fast. I barely had time to miss my hubby or my girls. It's nice being at a place in life where I can leave them and do something like this.

Thanks, babe, for letting me have a little sister-time.

And thanks, sisters, for a wonderful weekend!!!