Friday, July 16, 2010

Born to be Wild

Today, we're going to....   (you just have to sing along with  this)

Get the motor running.
Head out on the highway.
Lookin' for adventure,
And whatever comes our way.

Yeah, Darlin', go make it happen.
Load it all in the Sienna.
Hitch the trailer up behind us
'Cause we need some more space.

With a dog and three kids
And lots of DVD's;
Racin' with wi-ind
Until the next rest stop we see.

Yeah, Darlin, go make it happen.
Hope the trailer lights work now.
They'll ask, "Are we there yet, Daddy?'
You'll say, "Stop kicking my seat!"

Just to see family,
We will drive, drive and not fly.
We gotta drive so far
Before we stop this car.

Born to be wild
Born to be wild

Got the motor runnin'
Drivin' down the highway.
Lookin' for a rest stop
For a child who just can't wait.

Yeah, Darlin' go make it happen.
Pass the fruit snacks and don't spill.
Three days, three kids, and a dog:
Whose idea was this?

Just to see family,
We will drive, drive and not fly.
We gotta drive so far
Before we stop this car.

Born to be wild
Born to be wild

Somehow, that makes the long drive across the country with three kids, a dog, and too many fruitsnacks squished into the upholstery so much cooler.  The soundtrack makes the movie, baby.

It's time to hit the road, my friends.  Happy trails to all of you....let's hope our Swagger Wagon can handle the wild times.

By the way, here is a video of the Bionic Man and I figuring out how much our trip is going to cost.  (Just kidding.....a little bit.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Birthday Cake

We were soooo busy today, doing last minute errands and appointments before our trip.  The children, the dog, and I left the house before 8 A.M., hurrying off to get Hunter a couple of shots he needed before our trip.  Then it was off to the groomer's, to clip Hunter's nails.  I had just enough time take Hunter home, pay a few medical bills, and serving an early lunch before dropping the kids off to play with friends while I got a haircut.  Picking up the kids, we hurried off to turn in our library books and keep one more doctor's appointment, the last follow-up from my sinus surgery (everything looks great!).  Stops at Target, Kohl's and the mall were next.  A sudden downpour drenched us as we ran to our parked car.  We made it just before closing time to the tailor shop.  Somewhere in all that were two separate trips to ATM machines and a stop for gas.  Our final stop was at the grocery store, where we--dripping wet, all of us--picked out a birthday cake.

Because we weren't too busy to remember that today, July 15th, was the day we met Lily for the first time.  Her birthday!
You can read more about Lily in this post and this one.  She's our fourth baby.
Lily celebrated her first birthday just a few weeks before she died.  That birthday was one of our best days as a family, ever. 

In fact, it was so good, that we keep celebrating Lily's birthday, even though she's only with us in spirit, now.  I let Endeavor, Justone, and Superkid plan the parties.  They are good party planners.  Last year, we were in Utah with our cousins on Lily's birthday.  I don't remember the specifics of the party, but there were more helium balloons than we could handle.  Since we were so busy today, my event planners kept it simple this year, with a birthday dinner and cake.

Carrot cake, because Lily loved carrots. 
We lit three candles on the cake, because this would be Lily's third birthday.

Once, some well-meaning person asked if it was "appropriate" for us to keep celebrating Lily's birthday.  After all, they reasoned in hushed tones, "She passed away."

I flippantly answered that if we could celebrate the birthdays of dead presidents as national holidays, it was perfectly appropriate for our family to celebrate the birth of our Lily.  Honestly, some people just don't get it.

We, on the other hand, got Lily.  On July 15, 2007.  And though we may have only held her in our arms for a short time, she gave us so much love.  She taught us so many things.  She made us complete.  We are so grateful that Lily is a part of our forever family.  And we will be thrilled to see her again.

That will be a party! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Family Roadtrip

For the next few weeks, my blog postings will be sporadic.  I have to pack for four people and a dog.  I have to figure out what we are going to eat in the car that won't stain the freshly cleaned upholstery.  I have to clean my house in case someone breaks in while I'm gone, so they won't trip on the laundry baskets on the way to look for valuables that they won't be able to find (unless they consider Polly Pockets and Legos to be of value).

Because.....we are about to trek across the country to visit our families.  It will be a three day drive.  Oh boy!  See my big smile!  Last year, we made it interesting by making lots of touristy stops along the way.  We saw the Corn Palace, Winter Quarters, Mt. Rushmore, the Black Hills, Yellowstone, and the Tetons.

This year, we are just trying to get there.  I'm still smiling, brightly!

We'll be driving past here:
Across this:
Stopping along the way here:
Until we finally see this:
And then we'll arrive here:
For a family reunion with this crazy bunch:
Who, as of this year, have all grown up and got married and have families of their own.  My kiddos are excited to see their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.

Before we leave, we'll have to sample some of these:

from here:
and then we'll drive through this gorgeous canyon:
until we come to the valley where I grew up:
How rude!  They built houses where I used to sit and look over the valley and think about my future....
and where the Bionic Man used to land his paraglider. 

Pretty soon I'll be back in my ol' stompin' grounds, hiking up here:
And having fun with all my big brothers and sisters and their kids:

What?  There isn't a picture there?  That's because no one in my family likes to pose for pictures.  We're like snow leopards....we might exist....but there isn't any photographic evidence.  (Notice how I carefully avoided comparisons to the Sasquatch and Loch Ness monster?  I love you!)  Also, we are all too busy having fun together and seldom remember to break out the cameras.

Before we know it, we'll have to tell all our grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends and the horses at Aunt Lena and Uncle Boyd's farm goodbye.....

......and drive across Kansas:
(Which never looks this good from the freeway.)

And, the day after we get back, I have to take this sweet thing--who I SWEAR was just barely born, like, three years ago--to middle school orientation.  Middle school.  
(Sniff, sniff.  Gulp.)  You might be able to guess from some of the pictures that my internet service will be sporadic.  But maybe I'll be able to post pics sometime of the amazing activity books Endeavor put together for her siblings.  Totally unprompted and unassisted.  She's amazing.  No, she doesn't have a blog.  Yet.  (That was part of the agreement we made in the settlement with Martha Stewart.  I kid!)

Go forth and enjoy your summer!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oh, the Places I've Been!

Remember that Dr. Seuss book that people like to give graduates?
It's full of nuggets of wisdom, like this:

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. 
You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

As you know, I've been very sentimental this week, due to it being the fifth anniversary of our move to Indiana.  Early this morning, as I loaded the dishwasher and tried to clean up my kitchen--which was a complete disaster due to three batches of homemade bread and a batch of bar cookies, yesterday, and don't even get me started on what happened with my oven--I was thinking deep thoughts.  About Dr. Seuss's words and my own life....and how I ended up in suburban Indiana, instead of a remote sheep ranch in Montana. 

I'm going to share, because I have a blog.

Sometime between the ages of 15 and 20, I came up with a life plan.  It went something like this:

1.  Go to college.  Graduate.  (The course of study and degree were always different, depending on my interests at any given moment, but usually it was something to do with music.  Or theater.  Or musical theater.)

2.  Travel the world.  Learn several languages.  (It was unclear whether I would be doing this as an opera singer, a missionary, or tourist.)

3.  Meet a wealthy rancher who shared my passion for music, theater, adventure, and travel.  Fall in love with him.  Marry him.  (I'm totally not kidding.  A rancher.  Where did this come from?  One childhood trip to Montana to visit my brother, who was working on a sheep ranch one summer during college, and quite possibly the very tame Harlequin novels my mother and grandmother loved reading about romance on New Zealand sheep ranches.  There, I admit it.)

4.  Move to the rancher's remote ranch, which was going to be in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, South Dakota, or....New Zealand.

5.  Become a really good cook, because I'd have to feed all the ranch hands.  And get really good at riding horses, because that's what rancher's wives do, right?  Ride a horse all over the ranch to rendezvous with her ruggedly handsome rancher husband......

6.  Have lots of babies, there on the ranch.  Approximately 6-8.  Homeschool all of them, because our ranch would be so remote.  (I had several handy lists of names.  One list was of names that all started with the letter B.  Another list was of names that were inspired by L.M. Montgomery's books; the twins were Matthew and Marilla.)

Have you heard of Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman?  Call the police!  I think she stole my life!

I kid, I kid. (But's kind of suspicious, don't you think?)

Well, I got off to a good start with my list.  Thank goodness that the first thing on my list was "Go to college," right?  (And thank goodness my parents never took me to Disney World, because if I'd had any idea I could make money dressing up like Ariel or Tinkerbell, or singing and dancing in the streets, I might not have made it to college.  Whew, that was a close one!)

1.  I went to college.  I started out as a Music Therapy major.  I switched to Vocal Performance.  Then I switched to Musical Theater.  Then I changed my major to Interior Design.  At this point, something dawned on me: roughly 98% of the men I met in those majors were not interested in me.....or any other woman, for that matter.  While the plan was to graduate and see the world before I got married, I still wanted to have a social life.  So I changed majors again.  To instructional technology.  (Whaaaaat?)  That was short-lived.  Then there was a brief stint in elementary education.  By this time, I had spent more than two years in college and gone through six majors.  I decided to finish college as quickly as possible and move on to traveling the world and learning several languages.  So, I majored in English.  

Because writing long essays has never been a problem for me. 

Also because by that time I'd developed a strategy for fulfilling step #2 in my life plan, "Travel the World."  

I was going to become an English teacher and teach for the Department of Defense at overseas military bases.  Which would make it affordable to see the world.  Also, my wise father thought his flighty youngest daughter might be improved by some time as a missionary, so, with his encouragement, I was aiming for that, too.

Did I mention that I attended a university that was known for its agricultural school?  You would think I might have actually met a rancher, there.  Au contraire, my friends, au contraire.  (See?  I learned a little French.  About that much.)

I did meet two nice young men that grew up on a ranch, but they were majoring in business and physical education.  And, they were also the Bionic Man's roommates.

Bringing us--somewhat prematurely--to step number three:

3.  Meet a wealthy rancher an aerospace engineer who shared my passion for adventure and travel (paragliding, anyone?)--and tolerated my passion for music and theater.  Fall in love with him.  (No problem....somehow the lack of a ranch was not not a deterrant.)  Marry him.  I did!  
And, by the way, check out the length of that veil.....
By this time, I'd really got off track from my list.  I attempted to get back on track.

First, I graduated from college.  Part of #1.

1.  Go to college.  Graduate.
I'd like to take this opportunity to assure you that I was not fifteen when I graduated from college.  Despite the photographic evidence otherwise.....I was actually twenty-two. 

Then, I set off to see the world, with my new husband, the Bionic man.  This fulfilled step #2 and part of step #4:

2.  See the world and learn several languages German.
4.  Move to the rancher's remote ranch wherever the aerospace engineer could get a job.  Which ended up being the East Coast and Europe, for a few years.
As you can see, I was off to a good start with #6:

6.  Have lots of babies.  Even though none were born on a remote ranch, I did manage to have three prenatal appointments in Munich, Germany.  Impressive, eh?  And I did have three children in four years.  As I said, a good start!

Um....I'm still working on #5.

5.  Become a really good cook.  At this point, I'm willing to just let the Pioneer Woman handle all that.  Ranch hands on a remote ranch in Montana or Colorado should be very grateful that I fell in love with an aerospace engineer, instead of their boss.  Very grateful, indeed.

Somehow, I really never got past the list of baby names in my life plan.  And four babies to name has been enough.
Some of the places I've been definitely never got listed with my other youthful aspirations.  Because, when a seventeen-year-old girl makes a list of her life plans, she just can't imagine some of the places she'll go nor how she'll get there.  Case in point:  Indiana was not on my list.  Hospitals weren't on my list.  Neither were cemeteries. 

And....there’s a very good chance 
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. 
There are some, down the road between hither and yon, 
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. 
On you will go though your enemies prowl. 
On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. 
Onward up many a frightening creek, 
though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. 
On and on you will hike. 
And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

So....where am I, now?  I'm glad, for one thing, that I don't have to cook for ranch hands or homeschool my kids or smell cows all day.  And I'm blessed to be the daughter of a Heavenly Father who knew that I could handle a different variety of experiences than the ones I aspired to as a naive teenager.  I'm grateful that He's sent me to places I never dreamed of, let me learn to love so many wonderful people that I met along the way, and given me so many opportunities to grow and stretch in ways I never imagined. 

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains!’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!
 -Dr. Seuss

For this journey to great heights is not any ordinary journey....And how shall we scale this mountain? One faithful step at a time." - Elaine L. Jack

Thursday, July 8, 2010

We Moved to Indiana

As I mentioned in my last post, five years ago this week we moved to Indiana.

I've been feeling really nostalgic.

I loved my little cottage in Connecticut.  It was the first home we purchased, and we worked soooo hard to make it just right.  That sweet little house sold in two weeks.  By owner.  And off we went to find another house in Indiana.

I just came across my files of pictures from our house hunting trip.  Want to see?  Oddly, we have very few exterior shots.  Sorry about that.  But don't you love to see the interiors of houses that aren't yours?

This was the very first house we looked at.
See Superkid in this next picture?  We left the other children with babysitters in Connecticut, and took little Miss Superkid on the househunting trip with us.  You can imagine how enjoyable that was for a not-quite-two-year-old.  
I think it was a bank sale.  It was empty, so we were able to have a great view of the shiny, black marble tile in a funky pattern that was EVERYWHERE.  I'm not kidding you, the entire basement was tiled like this.  The basement.  The windowless basement.

We then went to another house in the same neighborhood.  I totally fell in love with it, and didn't want any other house but this one.  For the entire househunting trip, I was stuck on this house.
I liked how the stairs turned.  In my mind, turning stairs mean your child can't fall all the way down.  

This bathtub had me at hello.  Now, do I EVER take baths?  No, I'm a shower-only kind of gal.  But I wanted this tub.  And these shutters.
This house was beautifully decorated.  I think I overlooked a lot of its flaws simply because I loved the way everything looked together.  For instance, that dining area was only about 7 feet wide. had this gorgeous sunroom just beyond it!
And, just beside the family room, there was a very nice den.
The basement recreation room had to be seen to be believed.  There was a model train track going around the ceiling!
And...they still had their Christmas tree up.  This was late June.  I don't feel so bad about our Easter tree, now.

Okay, this cracks me up.  In the next picture, just beyond our realtor, there is a HUGE wine cellar (Superkid and I are checking it out).  What, I ask you, what is a Mormon family supposed to do with a wine cellar?  (In case you haven't heard....Mormons don't drink alcohol.)
I think, during the process of talking the Bionic Man into making an offer on this house, he asked me that question.  I believe I told him I would use it for scrapbooking.  Funny.....I'm not a scrapper!

The same day I found my dream house, the Bionic Man found his.
He really, really, really liked the porch, the yard, the landscaping....everything about the exterior.
I thought it was fine, too.  And then we went inside, and were met by this.
Wallpaper.  Lots and lots of ugly wallpaper.  Up and down and all over the two story home.
I had just spent the last three years getting rid of wallpaper.  I wasn't about to spend the next thirty getting rid of more.  Because that is how long it would have taken me to get that wallpaper off the walls in that two story foyer.  Needless to say, we didn't make an offer on this house.

Then there were the houses that for various reasons were slightly less appealing.  Oh, my goodness, there are some crazy rooms in crazy houses, out there!

Tell me, what in heaven's name is that curtain doing in the loft?
Then we have the cotton-candy pink master bedroom and bath.  Sweet.
Everyone needs a room in their house for drumming, right?  If that is your philosophy, this is your house.  Love the egg crate foam mattresses stapled to the walls.  They add such texture.  (You know I'm kidding, right?)
The drum house had a dog that barked viciously the entire time we looked at the house.  Luckily, we didn't look long.
I had high hopes as I approached the door of this house.  Great curb appeal, right?
Unfortunately, Rustic Country Angels had taken over the interior.
Not only was this staircase steep, but I have to wonder if it went anywhere?
Oh, here's a good one.  This was an upstairs bonus room.  You could access it from a second staircase that was near the main floor laundry room.  OR you could enter it through the upstairs bathroom.  Seriously, the bathroom was like a hallway to the upstairs bonus room.  I found it a little weird.
Speaking of bathrooms, I guess that is the best place to put Pooh.
Winnie the Pooh, that is.  On the master bathroom?  Why?

Note the fabric on the ceiling of this bathroom.  Hmmm.  I have to wonder what that fabric is covering up.  And do you take that fabric down and wash it?  I must compliment the lovely draping of the fabric, but really?  Fabric ceiling?  Were they hoping for better accoustics in here?

Something that surprised me on our househunting trip was the number of homes we saw decorated with antiques.  I'm not sure why it surprised me so much--maybe because most of the homes we looked at were less than 15 years old?--but I was surprised.  Some homes had more antiques than others.
Enough with antiques.  Let's see something modern, edgy, and full of teen angst.  Perhaps a SOLID ORANGE bedroom?
Same house, down the the MUSTARD master bedroom.  The woman in that doorway is the sellers' realtor, trying to convince me that this color of yellow is "flattering" and "matches with everything."  Yeah, if you are decorating with hotdogs.
After looking at lots of pre-owned homes, we actually went and looked at some builders' models.  That was fun, but ultimately the Bionic Man and I decided that building would be too stressful.  It takes us months to pick out paint colors, we just couldn't imagine having to sit down and pick out all the components of a house in a matter of days.  I stuck this picture in because it illustrates how very helpful Superkid was on our househunting trip.  She was so good at checking to make sure all the plumbing, lighting, and electrical sockets were in working order.
Okay, I'm almost done.  The house we eventually purchased was the third house we looked at on our househunting trip.  The first time I looked at it, I hated it so much I wouldn't even let the Bionic Man take pictures.   (Remember, I already wanted to buy the second house we looked at.)  Eventually, 65 houses, one offer that was outbid, and an impending first day of school later, we went back and looked at the house again.  I walked in and said, "This is my house!"  I think the Bionic Man and our realtor had some serious eye-rolling to do.  The house we bought was far from perfect, but it was the right one for us.  I have to admit, though, the dining room really threw us for a loop.
Now, I just know that some of you are saying, "What's wrong with that?  I like it!"  Well, good for you.  But the picture simply doesn't do it justice.  That is three shades of orange faux painted on the walls there, folks.  And no masking tape was used during the process.  But, the homeowner did practice beforehand, on the basement stairwell.  (Cue the scary music.)
Now, isn't that lovely?

Well, this little exercise had made me decide to quit being nostalgic and get busy.  I need to walk around my house and look at it as if I were thinking about buying it.  What crazy colors or decorating decisions would have someone else laughing or walking away without making an offer?  Do I have anything--like Country Angels--that is dating my decor or home?  What cluttered corners can I eliminate?  What can I do to make my home more appealing?