Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Baby B turns one!

We had the family over and started out with fish tacos and rice for the celebratory dinner.

I made one giant cupcake for the birthday boy and covered it in lots of messy frosting. You can see he is already on the verge of tears... this is gonna be bad.

We all gathered around and stared at him, waiting for him to put on a great show. He seemed a little apprehensive, and would only touch a bit of the frosting as he looked around suspiciously at everyone.

Then grandma shoved his hand into his cake, and that was it - he was done for the night.

Wow, Lori, you made this picture of the gifts a real keeper!

I debated whether or not to open the gifts, but the kids were itching to do it, so I let each one of them open one gift, and I told them to act like Brandon when they did it.

We had paper throwers...

Clothes being put on heads...

Gift wrap eaters...

Toy eaters...

And kids who tried to eat the whole box!

I don't know if you can see this, but Natalie threw Brandon's monkey as soon as she opened it.

And Paige was throwing the bow and wrapping all over the place. The kids had a ball, and once all the gifts were open, they went crazy and threw everything that was on the table onto the floor. What a mess!

A couple of days later, Brandon got to try his cake again. This is the before picture.

He was slow at first...

But it didn't take long for him to realize...

cake is awesome!

This is after.

Squishy, squish. Playing with your food is so fun.

Want some?

After catching up on his sleep, he realized it's good to be one! I can't believe it's already been a year since I was holding my newborn baby Brandon in the hospital, showing him the rising sun, and telling him all about the world, the plants, the clouds, etc. It's been a year since I gasped a breath of relief as the enormous pressure he was putting on my body was suddenly relieved, and I marveled at the new life before me while the timer on the warming table showed that he was only a few minutes old. Those memories are sweet, but the time went too fast.

Now he is a busy kid, learning about the world by shoving everything he can into his mouth... even that worm looking thing that he found on our kitchen floor and the used Q-tip. Nothing is too gross. He opens all the cupboards now, too, and loves the clanging sound that the glass dishes make when he bangs them on the floor. Nothing is too fragile or too precious to be used as a drum stick! I'm afraid this kid will be my most curious, most adventurous, and most mischievous kid... but he's wonderful, and I'm so glad he's mine.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Payson and Fossil Springs

One thing we did for my mom's birthday was go on a family road trip to Payson and Fossil Springs. First we stopped in Payson to grab a big bucket o' chicken, and then we headed to a pretty little park shaded by ponderosa pines (you may recognize this park from my blog about our new year's eve trip to the snow).

"Faster, faster!" they yelled (I guess dizziness and nausea is appealing to the kiddos).

The general store manager opening it for business.

Paige organizing the merchandise at the general store.

Kass is always one to go her own way...

Brando was having fun, too.

And here's some very special mother/daughter time - oh, the love!

When lunch was over, we headed up to Strawberry to get to Fossil Springs for a short hike by the river. The road there is kinda crazy. You could literally drive off the edge of the mountain like Toonces the cat... and someone did. On our hike, we found an axle on the trail and saw the body of an old car caught in the trees and bushes above. I think we violated our rental agreement by driving on an unpaved, pothole filled, rock covered road - at one point, I totally expected a flat tire. I was having flashbacks of our Yellowstone trip where my dad totaled the rented minivan when he hit a giant block of concrete. That was fun, right Jill? Memories!

I have lots of pictures like this, but with different backgrounds and different babies.

Doesn't he look like an angel?

The "trail" to the falls was muddy, slippery, steep in places, blocked with boulders in others, and generally difficult to traverse. With all those kids, the going was very slow. Then there was the bent over tree that Kallie was so carefully trying to pass under when her uncle Chad stepped on it and conked her on the head! In his defense, he pretty much took care of her after that.

Once we realized that we didn't have time to make it to the falls, we decided we'd just stop to have some river fun.

"The water is perfect!" Kass said. "Okay, that means it's cold, but we won't die," we all thought.

My dad was the first one to brave the river.

We got into the river, and it was cold, but not deathly cold. Natalie kept grabbing huge handfuls of river moss and putting it on me - nasty! Overall, I'd say the river was too high adventure for the kids. When Lucy got in, Russ let go of her hand, and she started floating downstream. I grabbed her right away when I heard him yelling, but it was kind of stressful trying to keep all the kids from getting washed away. There my dad was, instructing the kids to keep their feet out in front of them if they get caught in the current. Awesome. Russ hadn't planned on getting in, but he had no choice when he lost his footing, getting a nasty scrape on his shin in the process. The current was so powerful in places that I couldn't even turn my legs around to get the leverage I needed to get myself out, much less the kids. It was crazy! Paige was freaking out because she felt unsafe, and then when she fell face first into a pool of moss, she was totally done. I think we all had some scrapes to show for that fun little adventure!

This pic is for Annalee - proof I was there!

On our way out, my dad had this bright idea to take a short cut straight up the mountain. You know this usually ends in some kind of adventure, and it did. We found a place that was not too steep, and we started climbing up the leaf covered mountainside, with Kallie whining all the way. She had had too much fun already. Everything was going fine until we got to the very last part, which was steep, slippery, and blocked by thorn bushes. My dad blazed the trail, only to find a fence at the top. Turns out, the fence and thorn bushes were put there purposely to deter people from blazing trails - it was a restoration area. Oops. Luckily, the fence wasn't too long, and we were able to walk down a ways to get around it and discover Jill blazing a separate trail and grabbing onto a stranger's walking stick to help her make it all the way up. There were a few people walking on that road because it turns out that the road was part of the trail to the falls - the EASY way - and we were just the weird group that came up from behind the fenced off area (what is wrong with those people?).

But it was super fun, and once our pants dried off and the kids fell asleep, it was all good. Oh wait - Brandon cried so much near the end of our drive that he puked. What a fabulous end to our day! Car seat barf is the best.

Goin' Buggy

Just a couple of pictures from Paige's "Bugs!" musical. She was a firefly.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thanks, Papa J, for giving us a reason to take a mini vacation

A couple of weekends ago, we set off to California, mostly to attend the funeral for Russ' grandpa, Papa J. But is it so wrong if we had a lot of fun?

My very excellent cousin, Shannon, let us stay at her condo, and we went to the beach in Ventura the next morning - cold because of wind, but the sun was shining, and the sand was heavenly warm.

Brandon is always good for free smiles, no matter what the occasion. But what is Russ watching? You'll see.

Shannon brought her awesome kite, and I tried so long to get a shot with both her and the kite in it. I thought if I took the shot at an angle, I'd get the kite in the frame, but it was so bright out that I couldn't really tell where the kite was, and my picture ended up like this.

Once it crashed, it was easier to get it in the picture :)

Success at last! I think the angled shot would've been cooler, though.

I have never seen ladybugs at the beach before, and for some reason there were a ton, both alive and dead, on the beach that day. The girls were thrilled, and Kallie was just so sure her ladybug loved her.

Of course, there was much playing in the sand.

And for some reason on that particular day, there was also a lot of death on the beach. I decided to make a montage to document this strangeness.

When I was showing these pictures to my grandma, she shrieked in horror and turned away from the screen. If you know my Grandma Bev, you can just imagine this. She thinks I'm demented. Maybe you do, too, so here are some nice photos of shells to help you feel better.

After the beach, it was on to the funeral.

First up is Russ' brother, Ian. I know, he looks like a mountain man - maybe the Brawny man? This is why I had to take a picture and name it "lumberjack.jpg."

Here is his son, Patrick, or Patty, as I like to call him. I especially like to call him Patty Kirkpatrick because his mom's maiden name is Kirkpatrick, and there's a female news anchor in Phoenix by that name.

Okay, Kallie playing by the pool. I wish they wouldn't make their chlorine holders so enticing to children! She was giving me repeated heart attacks.

Listening to a bunch of old people tell old stories about a dead person was just too boring for this little one (and most of the other children), so she fell asleep on her Aunt Beth's lap.

The next day, we took a drive on a beautiful highway from Ventura to Santa Clarita. Seriously, this highway was picture perfect with orchards and tailored fields, mountains covered in greenery, a perfectly blue sky, and farmers' fruit stands along the side of the road selling strawberries, avocados, and oranges. We thought surely it couldn't get any better until we saw people dirtbiking in the foothills and a sign pointing to the lake. Then when we found the Costco in Santa Clarita, I could officially say it was paradise.

The reason for our trip was to visit the homes where Russ' family lived when he was a wee little tyke. First, it was 19690 Newhouse, where they lived when he was born.

And then it was 28115 Foxlane, where they moved when he was one or so. They moved to Oregon when he was two, so he has no memory of these homes. It was fun to imagine the family living there, though.

We also had gone the night before to see the hospital where Russ was born, but it had been demolished and replaced with a high school that is set to open next school year. We pointed to the ball fields and told the kids that was where their father came into this world. I wonder if that was confusing to them! :)

After visiting those homes, we headed for our home, all smiles. A little relaxation, a little family time, and a little nostalgia made for the perfect little mini vacation.