Archive | Family RSS feed for this section

Things I Have Survived

20 Sep

My First Summer Working Since Having Kids

I got a job. Have I mentioned that? I’ve been working for nearly a year at a small family-owned plumbing company. I do office stuff & it’s perfect. Super flexible, great co-workers, and it’s interesting. I had thought working during summer vacation would be a drag but it really wasn’t. I left for work each morning by 8:30 and was home by lunch time. That meant the kids had 3 hours to not do their morning chores and scramble to get them done before I got home so we could go about our day. I was still able to take our long family vacation but this time, when we got home, I got to escape all the togetherness for a few hours.

Summer Vacation

This year we headed west. J~ has been working on our Yellowstone trip since January and it showed. We had great campsites, interesting hikes, fun activities, and great weather. We hauled my dad’s new house on wheels. Having grown up with camper envy,  we traveled all over with a decrepit pop-up, it was strange to pull in to the campgrounds with one of the nicest campers rather than one of the worst. My favorite campsite was Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming. I’d love to go back there and explore some more. Such interesting topography and great trails. I’d highly recommend a stop there if you’re ever in southern Wyoming.

A Breast Reduction

I’ve been dreaming of this for a solid decade. I finally did it. The only regret I have is waiting so long. Surgery went well. Recovery was relatively easy. The worst part was and will always be finding bras to fit my freakishly small ribcage. At least now my cup size is in the first third of the alphabet rather than the middle third.

E~’s First Car Accident

Picture it: J~ is out of town, I am volunteering for a band function, E~ was left in charge of taking G~ to his percussion lesson. Around the time I’m expecting E~ to show up at band, I get a panicked call, complete with yelling and crying, that he was in an accident.

Just typing that I can still feel the panic and fear.

He was fine. Gavin was fine. The other driver was fine. E~ was on a very busy road, a mere 3 blocks from our house and didn’t leave himself enough room to react to a driver who stopped short. He rear ended the car in front of him. He wasn’t on his phone. He wasn’t speeding. He was just too close. The car he hit will need a new bumper. E~’s car was totaled. He was devastated.

In the end though, there was much good found in this accident. The driver he hit was super calm and kind. She even hugged E~ before she drove off. Because the accident happened in our neighborhood our village showed up. A friend was a few cars behind E~ and saw the boys and pulled in to the first driveway and stayed with the kids till I got there. Another neighbor saw the accident and came up to stay with the boys too. Our car guy neighbor came and helped get the car home to our house. Both E~ and I were getting texts all night long from friends who had seen the accident aftermath and wanted to check to make sure we were all fine. We ended up replacing E~’s car with the same type of Saab, just a year older. While we were working all that out, I was driving a rental and thoroughly enjoying driving an updated vehicle. I felt it was unfair E~ kept getting nicer cars than my van while I was driving my annoyingly fine minivan. There was nothing wrong with it, it was just old and clunky and loud and annoyingly fit to drive. So J~ and I decided to explore trading in the ol’ Trusty Toyota and getting something new.

Car Shopping

I had my heart set on a Volvo XC90. Used obviously. I’m all about safety now. Volvo’s are always first in safety and their older vehicles have features newer cars are just getting. The XC90 seats 7, so it would fit all of us and a couple of friends. And then we drove a couple. Not a fan. I really, really wanted to like it but driving them, they felt squishy. Plus for some reason, the only safety feature not standard in the models we were looking at were back-up cameras. We also looked at a couple of Subaru’s. We kept coming back to the Outback. It has some punch to it (helpful when getting on the highway after work. The road my office is on joins the 4-lane highway just after a corner. More than once I’ve felt like I was going to be eaten by a truck in the minivan), it was roomy, it wasn’t squishy feeling, it sits surprisingly high, and I could get the features I wanted in a price I could afford. The downside is it only seats 5. Since we figured we’re just about out of the family hauling business anyway, seating 7 wasn’t a deal breaker. If we’re all going somewhere long distance, we usually take J~’s truck, the extra kids I usually haul moved north, and if we have any vacations with the 5 of us, we can rent a bigger vehicle. So we bought an Outback and I love it!

Will We Survive:

J~’s Master’s Finish? We’ll know by Dec. 1.

Stay Tuned!





Lamenting the Passage of Time

27 Jan

Recently, J~ & I took E~ to the high school for an informational meeting on freshman registration. So many big feelings about this. I kept looking at him thinking “how are we here already?!?”

This kid is now 14. He can legally drive in our state (due to archaic rules that won’t ever be changed because RURAL RULES! How will we survive if our pubescent children can’t drive big, heavy, people-killing machines to school while texting friends they will see in a few short minutes if they happen to arrive at school safely??). Where was I? Getting older.

Do you remember the long days with your littles? The days that weighed so heavily on your hands? The days when you couldn’t wait for nap time. The days when all you seemed to do was clean up messes, feed little people who made more messes, & try to find enjoyment in those messes? Do you remember wiping yet another butt & long for the day when no one will need you to wipe them? Do you remember teaching your kid to ride a two-wheel bike? The first day of preschool? How much you cried on the first day of Kindergarten?

And now here we are. Preschool & Kindergarten are long gone. The two-wheeled bike sits in the garage barely used because it’s cooler to walk. Butts get wiped by their owner & occasionally even get clothed in fresh undies. Messes still get made but now they clean them up on their own, unless you count the prompting 😉 Days rush by between school & activities & lessons & homework. Now we rejoice when we can all eat supper together more than 3 nights a week.

I find myself aching with nostalgia for those long days of littles. But more than that, I find myself grasping at the current days, wishing they’d stay just a little longer. High School will be over in a blink of an eye. Way before we’re ready, our house will be empty. Go ahead, roll your eyes because my oldest is only 14. Or you can take this as your warning! Your kiddo will be 14 soon enough & you’ll find yourself fighting the urge to grab that mom in Target with her cartload of littles, & tell her to enjoy it because *sob* before she knows it, they’ll be in high school.

I’m going to be a mess on the first day of high school & pretty much all days after that.


South Canada

20 Aug

It’s time for vacation pictures!

Never again will we vacation the week before school starts. We need at least a week to decompress from our vacation. Maybe school is the vacation??

Our trip started in Homestate’s Capital. We needed to pick up J~ from a conference there. While we were waiting, we toured the capital building.


When J~ was done we headed north to South Canada to see my sister. While we were there, the kids jumped on the trampoline


Built a hay fort


And slept in a treehouse


We also visited a WWII plane museum. E~ was thrilled. He is our resident WWII air craft expert.

J~, E~ & I had all read a book this summer called A Higher Call & the plane featured in the book was also on display at the museum. We were pretty excited to see it.

German Air Force Messerschmidt

German Air Force Messerschmidt

You should really read the book. It’s an incredible story & from a perspective we don’t often see. Seriously good book.

Way too soon, it was time to leave South Canada & head north to Northern South Canada. We visited some more family, played with toddlers, rode a mule, & taught E~ some basic driving skills.


On our way farther north, we picked up Uncle Jim & headed to our final destination – Canada.



When Mayo Calls

4 Feb

And wants to study your brain, how do you say no?

I just wish they wanted to study my brain because it’s so awesome rather than because it’s a grenade.

These guys


are the reason my sister B~ & I will make a yearly pilgrimage to Mayo for a PET scan & an MRI. We will do this in hopes that they won’t have to watch their mothers fade away & that they themselves will never fear losing who they are way before their time.


All Better!

16 Sep

I’m no longer dying. I just had bronchitis.

I spent most of Wednesday on the couch, was in bed by 8 on Thursday & by 9 on Friday. I’m still lacking some energy, but I can now walk up the stairs without feeling winded. Yay me!

I realized as I was casting about for something to blog that I have not yet finished the Alaska trip. So let’s hop into the Way Back Machine & set it for Mid-July & finish up the Alaskan Adventure!

After Glacier, it was time to make the final push towards home. My dad had a house to vacate & 2 solid weeks of traveling with G~ & T~ next to each other in the backseat of the truck, was no longer a good idea. We left Glacier early on Sunday morning & drove & drove & drove & drove & drove & drove & drove across Montana.

Montana is a large state. We drove 500 miles that Sunday & never left the state. We finally stopped for the night in Glendive. There’s not much to do in Glendive. Or many places to stay. Which was okay because all we really wanted to do was eat some supper, play some cards & separate T~ & G~.

The next morning we made it to North Dakota. We made a stop at Theodore Roosevelt Nat’l Park outside of Medora. G~ had done a research project on TR for school in 3rd grade & he was really excited to see some TR history. We toured his hunting cabin,


Drove the grounds of the park in search of Prairie Dogs,

Keith! Keith! Keith! No, wait. That's Steve. Steve! Steve! Steve!

Keith! Keith! Keith! No, wait. That’s Steve. Steve! Steve!

And buffalo.

Found some!

Found some!

The scenery in the park was like nothing I’ve ever seen in North Dakota.


Next we headed to Bismarck where we made a quick stop at the capital


before heading to my aunt’s house for the night.

We were on the road early the next morning because, come hell or high water, we were going to make it to my dad’s house! We made decent time. We stopped at my sister’s to dump the camper & pack as much as we could into the bed of the truck. We offended my sister’s in-laws by not visiting with them before we left. Oops. I feel bad about that. It was quite a trip & we could have taken 20 minutes to give them the highlights. But we were all so focused on getting to Med City, USA, to sleep in beds & be 3 hours closer to home. Reason, sense, & politeness had left us.

We made it to Papa’s house late but in one piece. We slept in, my dad took care of some errands, & then it was time to strike out for HOME!


It was an epic journey. I’m so thankful we got to experience so much. It was truly a trip of a lifetime!


I Think I Might Be Dying

9 Sep

Of a head cold.

Not to be too dramatic or anything. My nose is stuffy, my neck is stiff, I can’t breathe without help of some stinky junk smeared under my nose which then gets wiped off every time I sneeze, which is often. Plus the headache & the general malaise. Thankfully it’s Monday & the kids are at school so I can take a nap. Which I will do as soon as this blog post is done.

Prepare for the Ultimate Randomness!

The weekend was jam-packed with family & moving. My parents closed on their new house on Friday morning & the rest of Friday & a little bit of Saturday was spent moving their stuff from my house & the storage unit to their new house. We had a ton of help. My uncle & a cousin came from South Canada to help move. Uncle J~ was the uncle that went to Alaska this summer so G~ & E~ (especially G~) were so very excited to see Uncle J~ again. They had a long drive & didn’t arrive until almost 9 on Thursday night. G~ was beside himself that he might have to go to bed without seeing Uncle J~. He was crying & saying things like “You don’t know what it’s like! I spent 6 weeks with Uncle J~ & I haven’t seen him for so long. You don’t know what it’s like to miss Uncle J~! He’s coming here right now & you are making me go to bed!” Thankfully Uncle J~ & Cousin T~ arrived just before lights out & they were able to get the hugs due to them. I do think it’s really great that G~ loves his Uncle J~ so much. He’s a neat guy. The more bonds my kids have with great people the better!

Friday night my sisters arrived. That added another layer to our party. Cousins & South Canada family! It just keeps getting better! We had an action packed Saturday for them. Not only was there moving & unpacking, there was Cross Country for E~ & soccer for G~.

E~’s first race went very well. He ran 2 miles in 15:05. He was pleased with his time & was very happy to get the race season started. I felt the same. Only more so 😉 I have been looking forward to being a cross country parent for a long time. I love XC. The meets, the teams, the camaraderie, the atmosphere. It’s a wonderful sport! I’m going to take up where my dad left off & try to never miss a meet. It’s the least I can do for a sport I love. And my kid 😉

G~ did quite well at his soccer games too. He had a double-header. It was miserable out. I think the high was 498° out & humid. G~ played goalie & did a great job. He still has a hard time remembering that he can use his hands but he still managed to make a few saves.

The rest of the weekend was spent unpacking, putting furniture together & eating. Lots & lots of eating.

One more random bit of information before I take my nap.

We watched “42” a week ago with the kids. Yes it’s PG13 but we felt like the kids could handle it. I didn’t really think T~ would stick around for the movie. She’s not a big fan of “Talkies”. But she did. And she seemed to like it too. On Friday, about a week after we’d watched the movie, T~ & I were picking my mom up from daycare. The daycare had put in “42” to pass the late afternoon. T~ was almost as hard to peel away from the building as my mom was. As we were leaving, T~ said to me “Mom, do you know what comes next? The part where the bad coach says “Hey Nugget nugget!” It took me a minute to process what she had said. Apparently instead of hearing the “N-word” in the movie, she heard Nugget. Probably made much more sense to her than the other word.

I’m off to take my nap!



Misc & Museums

26 Jul

One of the first things we explored in Juneau was the Treadwell Mines. It’s an old abandoned gold mine on Douglas Island.

Since we’re surrounded by water & it was somewhat warmish, we spent a bit of time at the beach:


Emma is crazy about water & fetch. She would swim in circles in the water, whining until someone would throw her a ball. She was insatiable.

The mine ruins were pretty cool. There were signs posted explaining what everything was. We saw abandoned carts, buildings, & lots of pilings to climb on:


The whole reason we came to Douglas Island? Because my aunt & uncle had dentist appointments. This is the dentists office:


Their dentist sails to Alaska from Washington once a year & visits a bunch of the little communities on the barrier islands in Alaska. He & his wife live on the boat & the front room has a dentist chair & all the equipment. I can think of worse places to have an office 😉

We also spent a bit of time at a few of the many museums in Juneau.

Our first stop was the Alaska State Museum. They have one of 6 interactive globes in the country. There are actually 2 in Juneau. One at the museum & the other at the NOAA office in Auke Bay. The globes change every few minutes to show different things like tides or glacier movements.


Then it was off to the State Capital where we’re pretty sure they were mining for something underneath it 😉


The capital is a pretty nondescript building but it still had the usual capital trappings:



This part of the trip will come in very handy next spring when G~ will start State Fest at school. He’s already picked Alaska.

Up Next: The Trip Home – starting with the Alaska Marine Highway.