Sunday, December 17, 2017

Merry Christmas 2017!

With the Christmas season clipping merrily along and the daily demands of a young family, I realized that the only way to get some semblance of a Christmas card out was to work together! So here is our semblance of a Christmas letter.

To start out with, Dad is awesome. We went backpacking together on my 12th birthday. He carried my pack for some of the way--I love him for that! He took me hunting this year and we were successful at harvesting white-tail deer. He makes the best hamburgers. Since Dad switched jobs, he is not weighed down by being on call--he's happy, fun, and relaxed. He is happy to be raising his family in good old Montana. (Written by his eldest son, Xander)

Our wonderful mother is the best!! She is so happy to be in this house that we got this year. She has a big kitchen that she loves to cook and bake in. Her eggrolls, pot stickers, and ravioli are my favorite meals.😋 I love baking with her. Mom turned 38 this year and is a great leader. (addition to Dad)  She is a great example to not only our family, but also the whole community. She is not afraid to start a conversation, or talk to someone she doesn't know! Thanks for what you do for our family! I'm so glad you're my mom! (Written by her favorite oldest daughter, Elodie)

Xander has participated in tennis, swimming, and basketball with tennis being his favorite (like father like son :)) this year. He also earned some extra money moving lawns this past summer and has been very service minded. Xander and I went backpacking to Renshaw Lake up at Benchmark in the Lewis and Clark wilderness just south west of Augusta, MT.  He did great and it was so fun to have him go up the mountain being 11 y/o and then came down the moutain 12 y/o and transitioned into being a young man. He was ordained a deacon and has been doing a fine job passing the sacrament and magnifying his calling. He has progressed to a first class scout and will go up to a Star scout at his next court of honor Jan 2018.  We also went hunting together and harvested deer together. Xander loves engineering and is active in a robotics club in 4-H, It is exciting to have him become such a capable outdoors man, athletic, academically capable, and well rounded young man. I am very excited to see what becomes of him in 2018! (by his very proud father)

Elodie shares a room with me. She usually sleeps in the top bunk, but once she fell asleep in my bed with me. Elodie is a great sister. I love her. Elodie LOVES to read. And she loves to take care of Kaleb. She is good at playing the piano and she's learning to play the flute. Elodie played tennis. I bet she likes it a lot. And she loves to make treats like cookies. She once tried selling cookies--she made a lot of progress. I love it when Elodie makes treats--they're really good! Elodie loved it when her cousin Corinne got to spend a week with us in Montana this summer. (dictated by her one and only sister, Hazel)

Hazel plays with me a lot. She is really good at making stuff. Hazel is really good at singing and sings in music class and at home. She splashed in the water at the swimming pool in the summer (she was on the bubble blowers swim team). She really likes to play house with her baby dolls. She does really good at school. She's a Dahle. (dictated by her little brother, Max)

Max is my best friend. He plays with me a lot. I'm glad he's my friend. Max is learning how to swim. It's fun seeing him swim. Max is funny a lot. Max is in school. He really likes kindergarten. He likes his teacher, Miss Rowley. Max is really good at making projects in school. Max is 5. Max loves to play Legos. He loves to dress up like a knight and play battle with Oliver. Max is such a playful, kind, lovable guy. (dictated by his big sister, Hazel)

Oliver is a 3-year-old with a big personality. I love the time I get to spend with him everyday. He definitely misses having older siblings around now that Max is in school all day, so he is constantly trying to recruit me to play with him--bedtime tigers, dinos, and trucks being some of his favorites. He is a goer and when he knows we're going somewhere, he can hardly wait to get out the door. He's got some definite leadership skills in there, though they may need a bit of refining. "No, mom! Don't do a job! Get your shoes on and go to the mini-park!" When I try to reason with him about how we'll go as soon as I ____, he tries a different approach. "I am not staying here!" and he walks outside. He's a determined little fellow. Many times I have heard his cute little voice say, "No, I'm not hungry for dinner, I'm hungry for cookies!" I usually win that battle. But bedtime, whew, bedtime. I'd say he is winning that battle night after night. Currently, he will only go to sleep if I (or occasionally Dad) stay in his room until he falls asleep, which takes him around an hour. Poor Max can usually fall asleep through Oliver's antics, but sometimes, when Max is looking exhausted by dinnertime, Aaron jokes that Max is The Goob from Meet the Robinson's. Oh, I am capturing a bit of Oliver's feistiness but not his absolutely endearing cuteness. "You're the best, nice mom! I love you really much!" and "We're having the best day together, right mom?" are just some of the exuberant, loving phrases I hear from him. He simply adores helping me cook and bake and knows the names and locations of many cooking utensils. He's an adorably helpful little assistant, sometimes even anticipating my needs for a "spatula" or "cookie sheet." And he gives the best, sweetest, most sincere, timely, unprompted apologies. Last week, when he was doing a slumped-shoulder pout that he learned from Max, I knelt down and started talking to him heart to heart. He immediately said, "Mom, I'm sorry I did bad shoulders." Melts my heart all the time. Watch out, Primary, here he comes!! (I am currently the Primary President, so I'll get to see first-hand how that goes! Well, I'm getting close to a thousand words here (which is why I needed my less verbose family to help me lest I never get this done!) so I'd better just include a picture and call it good.

Kaleb is a very sweet soul. We are all very grateful for the newest addition to our family. He has blessed us with his sweet, lovable self! He has a fever, and we all are very sad, we hate to see him cry. His first word was ball(that's his favorite toy). He can also say pumpkin, (he pronounces it pumpen) Mommy(muh-ma) Daddy(dah-da),and uh-uh. He loves to eat, sitting at his tray way past breakfast begging for more cereal!😆We love our little man!!💕(Written by Elodie)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Kaleb's Been Around for a Year?!?!

Kaleb is ONE! He has one little tooth, which broke through about one week ago, and he can stand up on his own for about one second. We think he is one delightfully precious little guy.

 Elodie enjoyed showing her love by baking him an exceptionally delicious chocolate zucchini cake with chocolate whipped cream. (Thank you and our dear friend who delivered this cake to us and introduced us to its wonders last year just after Kaleb's arrival.)

The first thing he noticed was that it was really fun to stick his finger in that fluffy stuff. He unselfishly offered the finger-full of whipped cream to everyone in his vicinity before even tasting it himself.

Being a baby, it didn't take long before he stuck it in his mouth. When he realized how amazing it tasted, he really dug in.

And then he just kept going and going. He had already eaten a huge heap of birthday curry, but that didn't prevent him from stuffing a remarkable amount of whipped cream and cake into his cute little face. He kept the crowd delighted with his classic chocolate beard and 'stache.

And even when we decided that the wise thing to do was to remove the huge cake from his tray because we couldn't see how a guy his size could fit another bite, his sweet pleading look as we pulled the cake away did convince us to leave a small piece on his tray. Kaleb is good at what he does--he found ways to remain the center of attention even while everyone was enjoying their own delicious slice of chocolaty goodness. (Elodie made an additional 9x13 cake that was undefiled--we did have company over, after all.) He started clapping out of excitement and LOVED it when everybody joined in clapping for him.

Then came the individual shout outs to his fans--the single-handed point.

 And the double.


The drawn-out, squinty blinks. Removing his bib and throwing it in a heap. Oh this kid was a ham! Sheer delight. 10 out of 10, Kaleb. Well done.

We couldn't have asked for a more enjoyable first birthday party! We sure love this wonderful little addition to our family and can hardly imagine our family without him!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dabbling in Dog

We continue to live this summer to the fullest. Piper was the highlight of this week for the kids. Some friends asked us if we'd watch their dog this week, and since Aaron completed Oliver's fence a few weeks ago, we were able to welcome a dog into it. Just minutes after this sweet, elderly dog arrived, Elodie insisted that we take her to the park with us where all the kids enjoyed her immensely.
 Oliver has loved having a buddy to go visit when he heads out back. "+I want a go outside and see, ummmm, that dog." (He can't seem to remember her name.) What a patient dog! Any dog that can handle Oliver's hugging, ear exploring, snuggling, and general antics is top in my books. It was so sweet to watch Oliver cuddle her and say, "I love you, dog."
While the older kids, including Hazel, were at a swim meet, Max was excited to be the one to walk Piper. He was confident and started off down the road. He got in for a little more than he bargained for and soon Piper was running full speed and Max's legs were flailing as he tried to keep up. He couldn't.  Piper yanked the leash away and kept running down the road. Max began screaming. I was still in front of the house waiting for Oliver on his big wheel, which he is not too speedy on since his feet don't quite reach the pedals yet. I quickly decided to ditch Oliver and Kaleb in the stroller and ran off after Piper, calling her name once I'd narrowed the distance. I was mentally planning on how a teenage neighbor I saw riding towards me on his bike could come in very handy should I be unable to catch this runaway dog. Gratefully, that proved unnecessary since this sweet lab is so obedient. As soon as she heard me call her name, she turned around and trotted right back to me. I was so proud of Max who decided to try again. We looped the leash safely around his wrist and he held on tight, calling to Piper to low down when needed. He did great!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Busy and Blessed

Science Fair, Piano Recital, Baseball (that was gratefully mostly rained out), Band concert, Scout Campout, friend's birthday party, play date, and all of the normal daily needs of six kids made for a very busy week around here!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spring has Sprung

As Aaron's mom used to say, "Spring has sprung, the grass is ris', I wonder where the birdies is?"

Well we haven't spent too much time looking for birdies this spring, but we sure have devoted a lot of weeknights to baseball! With Xander, Elodie, Hazel, and Max all participating in baseball/softball/T-ball, we're spending a lot of time at the fields. Oliver couldn't be happier. Because, naturally, the fields are outside. And Oliver's motto seems to be, "why stay inside when you could go outside?" The ball park in our town is the best because this beautiful spot is right behind the fields.

On Tuesday night, Xander's game and T-ball practice for Hazel & Max were on neighboring fields just up from the creek. I didn't watch much of the baseball action, but I enjoyed watching Oliver throw huge rocks into the creek. Elodie is that pink dot in the background, having a good time trying to build a bridge with a couple of her friends whose brothers were also playing ball. When her friend cut her foot on a stick and Elodie was carefully bandaging her up, I chuckled when I overheard her friend tell her parents that Elodie was "practically a doctor" because her dad is. 😉

After the game, Xander's friend got to come home with us while he waited for his mom to get back from watching his brother play baseball in a neighboring town. Xander and Matthew headed right over to the empty lot across the street and got a lot more hitting action than they did in the actual game. When Matthew left, Xander kept playing ball with Elodie until I begged and finally convinced them to come inside at nearly 9:00. The weather has been gorgeous; when it feels this much like summer, its hard to believe it's a school night! After a losing game where he struck out his only time at bat and got no action in left field, Xander said that playing Sandlot style afterwards was way more fun than the game had been.

I don't know if he would have said the same thing after Thursday night's winning game. There was much jubilation in the bottom of the last inning when a teammate hit the ball way into outfield, brought a player home, and broke the tie. The dug out erupted in cheers and all the boys went home feeling like champs. Good times.

We have made the most of the beautiful weather and the beautiful place we live by going on short little explores. We can see horses out of our window, which has often helped Oliver overcome a tantrum that he just can't quite shake. This dark brown horse here is the friendliest of the three that live just across the street from our house, behind the vacant lot. When we approach the fence to visit, this horse meanders over to the fence to say hello. Max has discovered how much he loves feeding horses. As he was yanking out long handfuls of grass to feed the friendly horse, he told me he wants to be a farmer when he grows up so he can feed horses all the day.
Just a bit further down the road, Max found this cool little bridge across the creek. What could be better for a little boy than pretending to fish with some sticks over the side and throwing rocks into the water? 

Imagine Max's excitement to find another horse just on the other side of the bridge! And this horse ate grass from his hand, too! Truly ideal childhood adventures right here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Idaho Falls Temple Open House Family Adventure

When what could be a once-in-a-childhood opportunity comes along, you try to make it work. So even though we couldn't find an ideal 3-day weekend to drive the 5.3 hours to Idaho Falls for the temple open house, we decided to just make it happen on a regular 2-day weekend. The first miracle was that we actually managed to drive off at 6:04 on Saturday morning. Thanks to the Prince Caspian audio book, a banana and a big bro who's great at feeding his baby bro in the car, a husband who loves going for drives, and some great little travelers, the ride went by fairly quickly and we actually arrived ahead of schedule. I had the great idea to walk down memory lane and enjoy the taste of college by hitting up a Maverik for some frozen yogurt du jour. How great was my disappointment to discover that Maverik was no longer selling the creamily delicious frozen confection by the ounce. We left empty-handed, promising ice cream after the temple tour. After driving circles around Idaho Falls, we finally arrived at Parking Lot D and we boarded the shuttle bus with great enthusiasm on Oliver's part. The primary song aptly described the beauty and sweetness of entering the temple.

I love to see the temple.
[I'm going inside today]
To feel the Holy Spirit,
To listen and to pray.
For the temple is a house of God,
A place of love and beauty.
I'll prepare myself while I am young;
This is my sacred duty.
It was especially neat to see the sealing rooms and to wonder with the kids which one their Grandma and Grandpa Dahle got married in over 57 years ago. I am so thankful that we were able to make this experience happen. 

When we finished the tour, it was just after 3:00. Aaron noted that if we just drove straight back home we could actually make it by 9:00pm. How crazy would that be to squeeze such a long trip all into one day? But we had promises of visiting the zoo and overnight camping and ice cream cones to keep, so we decided to prove our integrity to the kids and not let them down rather than go the practical route. (Overall, I am glad we did, although in a moment of weakness in the wee hours of the morning when I was awake in the car in my snuggly sleeping bag with a screaming Kaleb next to me, I did call that decision into question.) After we divided and conquered, with Dad heading up the zoo/playground fun and Mom heading to Winco, we drove to a nice little mountain campsite just off I-15. Xander and Elodie were a great help in getting the two tents set up. 

We ate a delicious dinner of hamburgers, broccoli, and rice, though most people were so tired by the time camp was set up and dinner was ready that they couldn't enjoy it too much. Our children were actually begging to go to bed before we even had a chance to do the fire and s'mores. Oliver slept like a log, not waking up once in the middle of the night and getting up Sunday morning after everyone else had finished breakfast, after 8:00. Impressive little camper. I think his favorite part of camping was that he never had to go inside! Back home, this little outdoors-lover is known to put up quite a fight every time someone insists that he comes back in the house.

Thanks to Aaron's excellent survival gear, we all stayed cozy warm even though remnants of winter snow spotted the campsite. It got down to 34 degrees, nearly freezing, so the roaring fire Aaron built in the morning and the gourmet hot chocolate--Mexican or Mint truffle--were just what everyone needed to feel excited about getting out of their cozy sleeping bags. 

After the make-Aaron-a-happy-camper breakfast with heaps of sausage links, fried eggs, and biscuits (I wanted to serve the far simpler oatmeal but was overruled in the planning phase), every capable hand pitched in to take down camp and load up. At a rest stop up the highway, we washed up in running water and changed into our Sunday clothes. Still smelling mildly of campfire, we tried to get the timing of going to church en route just right. We just missed sacrament meeting in Lima, were disappointed when we discovered that Butte didn't have a ward meeting at 1:00, and felt truly blessed when after hightailing it to Helena and arriving at 1:15, we were just in time to partake of the sacrament. That tender mercy was a direct answer to prayer as we were doing all that we possibly could to honor the Sabbath. Sacrament meeting was a delicious spiritual feast. 

The drive home went so smoothly, with peaceful travelers happily enjoying the tasty Winco bin snacks and learning from CS Lewis' insightful allegory. We passed the little town of Augusta and cheered that home was just 20 minutes away! And then Oliver suddenly threw up all over himself and screamed incessantly. Tender-hearted Hazel had to join in the weeping and wailing because she felt so bad for Oliver.  Being so close to home and having no shoulder on that stretch of country highway, the only reasonable choice was to  just push through and get the kid home! The last 20 minutes were definitely CRAZY, but that just made us all the more grateful for HOME when we arrived! And really, what's a family weekend adventure without a little vomit?

Sunday, April 9, 2017

New Territory

On Monday, we had planned to walk to the park but were derailed by some unexpected snow (OK, unexpected because I hadn't paid any attention to the weather forecast and just expected MOTS) and gusty wind that made the expedition not very Kaleb-friendly, despite my attempts to shelter him in the stroller. So instead, we took a walk around the block to give Oliver and Max a chance to realize that adjusting our plans would be wise. They decided it would be plenty of fun to build a snowman in the yard. the Montana winter was not wasted on these little boys--they showed their independent snowman building skills as they rolled those snowballs across the yard and successfully enjoyed the snowball effect in the wet spring snow.
Oliver rolled that middle section all by himself. But he had a hard time getting the ball up there because it just kept collapsing every time he grabbed and lifted with those short little arms. After rerolling the midsection a couple times, he was willing to have my help in placing it atop the bottom snowball.

In the sun he melted, melted, melted, by the end of the day, but he was fun while he lasted. We enjoyed milder Montana spring days for most of the week. Friday the wind got so crazy gusty it was reminding me of contact adventures in Blackleaf Canyon with Melayna.

Saturday we decided to drive 80 miles northeast to support Xander in his first track meet in Cut Bank. (His first track meet would have been last Saturday, conveniently at the home track, but Xander chose to participate in General Conference instead of track or going to a big scout Merit Badge college that day. I could see the track meet going on out my bedroom window as I changed diapers during conference.) Not even Aaron had been to that exact bit of Montana, and we enjoyed exploring new territory, even if it was even windier up there and felt a bit like a test of endurance at times.

Watching a kid in a track meet was also new territory. It's not at all like watching him play hockey or basketball or even tennis, because there are all these different events going on at the same time, and you're constantly asking, "where is Xander?" and looking at this approximate schedule and trying to figure out where they're doing the mini-javelin throwing or triple jump. We had the most fun cheering for him in the 100 meter dash. I think Xander was kinda confused by the whole experience, too, with no coach telling him when to be where. They don't baby these big kids anymore. It was a good out-of-your comfort zone kind of junior high experience for him at times, but he enjoyed it and we were really proud of him for stepping up. We convinced him to come home with us rather than on the Bulldog Bus with the promise of letting him pick any fast food restaurant in Cut Bank, since Choteau has no fast food restaurants unless you count the gas station. I was pretty pleased when he picked Subway over McDonald's or Pizza Hut. We took it to the park for Oliver's benefit--that kid cannot get enough of the great outdoors. When Xander showed Dad how his toe was popping out of his running shoes, Dad suggested taking a significant detour to Great Falls, especially since Elodie hadn't had any luck in finding a suitable Wax Museum costume in Choteau and the deadline was approaching. After a couple thrift stores and just one store in the mall, everyone had what they needed and we hauled a very tired gang back home, arriving just after 7:00! It was a busy but blessed day all together as a family.