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.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Moving Day(s)

We awoke St. Patrick's Day morning feeling lucky, so after some green smoothie and green yogurt-topped pancakes, we herded the older kids off to school and brought the three little boys to the Choteau Title Office, where we signed our names about a 100 times, handed over a fat check, and POOF, became real homeowners again!

We dropped those little boys off at my generous friend's house and started moving in right away. With a huge tarp placed oh-so-carefully atop the livestock residue in another generous friend's horse-trailer, Aaron got right to work and had all of the couches moved over in record time, with just a little physical help from me (and a kind passing stranger) and a lot of really helpful advice from me. I have good ideas. Though some unnamed individual may feel my ideas and communication of said ideas just slow him down when he's in his impressive get-'er-done zone.

Soon the extremely generous J&C Stott family arrived and we really started to get 'er done. I feel such a debt of gratidude to them; they sacrificed their whole weekend for us--all day Friday and all day Saturday--despite it being their daughter's 17th birthday on the 17th in 2017 and everything. After school, their older kids came over and helped, too. Since Kaleb had spent most of the morning screaming at my friend's house, I was so grateful that their dear birthday girl had the touch with Kaleb! She was such a blessing to me!

Speaking of after school, that was probably the craziest part of the day. Xander came home to the old house, and was under the impression that his sisters were right behind him. But they weren't. I waited and wondered. And called. But Aaron, being in get-er-done mode, wasn't answering his phone to let me know if they had come home to the new house. When there was still no sign of them and it was nearly time for Elodie to go to piano lessons, I hopped on my bike and zoomed the five blocks to the new house, where I found both girls' bikes and eventually the girls themselves. With all the back and forth we were doing with loads of stuff, this scenario played out several times. Having two homes may seem luxurious, but when they are within easy walking distance even for young children, it gets very confusing very quickly! When the generous horse-trailer loaning friend dropped pizzas off at the old house for dinner, we rounded everyone up at that house and headed over to the new house, which required some people walking on foot and being carried in arms since car seats and strollers were at the other house, and others driving to get another load of stuff over. But by the time we got to the new house, Aaron and the guys had already left to get another load from the old house; I think it took an hour to get everyone gathered for dinner! Hectic!

As we finally sat and stood on the back deck of our NEW HOUSE eating pizza, I was quite impressed with everything we had already accomplished--most of my kitchen stuff was not only moved, but also put away and organized in its new and improved cabinetry.

Aaron even managed find enough energy past bedtime to get mattresses in place to satisfy everyone's wish of sleeping in the new house that very night! And, miraculously, Oliver did an amazing job of staying in his new big boy bed for the first night ever. Lots of change and he handled it without a bump. (Saturday night was a different story. In our exhaustion of trying to finish up a few last things to get the house ready for Sunday, I got to tuck the little cutie in 5 times and Aaron 3. I guess we both needed a little test of patience that night. I actually had to excuse myself at one point when I had gotten so desperate I was begging. I told Oliver I'd be right back, I just needed to go upstairs to eat some dinner--it was 9ish and I'd only had a few canned mandarin orange slices that I'd found in the old house fridge around dinner time--to help refuel my patience.)

This was my biggest St. Patrick's day surprise.
Green. Bright green. My master bedroom has two vibrant green walls. the shocking part was not as much their color as the fact that I did not notice this color the 3 times I had come and looked at the house! How could I miss such a not subtle color?? I just thought the whole room was this fun, pretty shade of blue.
Apparently, I am not the most observant kid on the block. But I think I'll learn to like the vibrant colors. (I'm definitely not the most eager-to-paint kid on the block. Y'all can have your HGTV reno plans and projects, I'm just happy to have a move-in ready house at this busy stage of life!)
Today, I was just so thankful for some generous friends who had invited us over to their house for a delicious dinner and pleasant company! It was a peaceful, rejuvenating way to spend the Sabbath!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Count down to close

I truly am grateful that we found this little rental house in Choteau when we needed it. Really, I am. It is conveniently located and has technically fit all of us and all of our stuff, which no other rental we saw could have done. Yet, I admit, I am eager to move on. Many of you reading this may have come to take certain luxuries for granted. Perhaps soon, I'll forget they are luxuries and be tempted to take them for granted as well. So now I document them lest I forget.

When I stand in front of a sinkful of old dirty dishes, or find myself trying to cheerfully motivate a child to face the mountain of dishes, or attempt to wash dishes with a baby on the hip, or even look at a "clean" kitchen with a huge heap of clean dishes spilling out of the dish drainer and across the counter to dry, I get so excited about having a dishwasher again!





When I step on the sharks and boats in the bathtub as I shower, I get so exciting for having a master bathroom all to ourselves, with our very own shower! Talk about luxury!

When I am vigilantly following Oliver around the front yard (since the back yard is barely existent) to keep him out of the puddles just off the sidewalk in the busy highway, I am so excited for a fenced yard on a quiet street at the edge of town.

When I trudge out into the snow, back and forth between the house and the car with the little boys and the groceries, I get so excited for the ease of an attached garage!

When we're all sitting at the dinner table and I realize I forgot the salad dressing, so I ask Hazel and Max to move so I can open the fridge, or Elodie literally climbs over Oliver to get to the sink to get herself some water, or we invite company over and squeeze them around the table, I get so excited to have plenty of space for our family and friends to not only fit around the kitchen table, but to comfortably get in and out of our seats.

When Xander is getting upset with a younger brother, AGAIN, for destroying some irresistibly amazing Lego creation while he was at school, I get so excited for Xander to have his own bedroom, with an actual door!

When Kaleb wakes up in the middle of the night and I really think he doesn't need to eat, and would probably just fall back asleep if I let him fuss for a few minutes, but then one of his dear roommates, Hazel or Elodie, comes in to beg me to just please get him and feed him so they can SLEEP, I am grateful that in the new house, he can sleep in the office and have his "own room" with a door!

When I trip over coats, backpacks, and shoes as I'm trying to walk downstairs to the basement, or hear Max ask me why I put his boots in the freezing room again (our truly arctic entryway), I get so excited for a spacious, heated mudroom!

When I wedge myself into the little closet-sized laundry room to stuff the clothes into the dryer, I get so excited for a beautiful, custom, well-designed laundry room.

When I walk into my bedroom and it's covered with a heap of partially folded laundry, again, I get so excited for the simple laundry basket shelf in the new house that will help me to prevent the mountain from ever forming in the master bedroom.

When I bump into the exercise bike squeezed into our bedroom, I get so excited for the basement family room with ample room for a little spin bike.

Needless to say, I'm counting down the days. Five. Yes, 5 days until closing and moving day!