Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Joy of the Season

I think my favorite moment of the season is our Christmas Eve Nativity program. Xander and Elodie were so eager to be Mary and Joseph, and of course Aaron made a great donkey.We had nine adults and our two little kids at our house for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, which means Xander and Elodie got plenty of attention and plenty of presents. Xander and Elodie can't get enough of their aunts and uncles. We were especially glad to have Mitchell and girl Erin come into town to celebrate with us.Another unmatchable part was watching my kids' pure delight on Christmas morning. I just loved hearing their shouts of joy as they came downstairs and saw what "Santa" had given them. Both of them are very excitable children to say the least! Xander's exclamations were just as exuberant for his 10 pack of socks as they were for his space shuttle with rocket boosters. And Elodie's excitement over the candy in her stocking surpassed any of the gifts she received. I love how easy it is to please little children.
We certainly felt the joy of the season this year! Our knowledge that the Babe of Bethlehem is the Savior of the World has been deepened and reaffirmed. The gift of His Atonement blesses us daily. We are so grateful for our little family and for our large and loving extended family! Thank you all for your examples, love, and support!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Take your Hobby and Run with it!

I love cooking.
I love baking.
I love Christmas treat making.
I just finished making candy cane cookies to eat with hot chocolate after Christmas caroling. We've gone to Melayna's twice to use her stove (because our stove is acting rather unpredictable of late) to make peanut brittle and carmels.
I've made two batches of toffee on our own stove (it needs high temps and our stove still does that; it's medium and low that the units are periodically boycotting).
We've rolled peanut butter dough into buckeyes.
I've rolled and dipped coconut balls.
I baked Mexican Wedding Cakes.
We've covered the carmels and a pecan in chocolate to make turtles.
And I have all of the ingredients waiting to be turned into a few other Christmas goodies.

I've been enjoying my kitchen hobbies so much that Aaron had to make this rather reasonable suggestion one morning. "How about we get the house all clean and hold off on making any more treats until that's done? And then we can clean up the mess from candy-making right after, and the house will still be clean." Not a bad idea. Any hope of cleaning becoming as much of a hobby for me as baking?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

NOT The Man of My Dreams

Last night, in my dream, Aaron was a full-time missionary. We were married, but he also had a missionary companion, as missionaries so often do. We were at his parents house down in Texas. He got a phone call that his dad was stranded somewhere, so he and his companion left to go rescue him. While I was at home, awaiting their return, I began making dinner with Rachael Ray, of course. She was showing me how to make her favorite chicken enchilada bake. We mixed in the cream cheese and salsa, and it looked so good that I couldn't wait to taste it, so I grabbed a big spoonful and popped it in. The sauce tasted great, but I had popped a chunk of raw chicken into my mouth, so I spit it out, disgusted. Rachael Ray seemed not to notice my mistake, since she was busily pulling some strange looking things out of the freezer. They resembled Antarctican Birds, but surely I must be mistaken? She layered them in a huge pyramid on a baking dish and poured the chicken enchilada mixture over them. When I asked her what they were, Rachael Ray was suddenly Samoan, and she couldn't remember the word in English. "Are they...penguins?" I asked. "Oh, yes, penguins, yes, yes," she confirmed as she put the concoction in the oven. Hmm, is that a Samoan delicacy? The so-called chicken enchilada bake was almost done, but still no sign of Aaron. It was only supposed to take a few minutes; where could he be? I was getting pretty annoyed that he was so late and hadn't had the courtesy to call, so I gave him a call and it went straight to his voicemail. Just for me, he had recorded a special greeting, telling me where he was. "Some guy gave us these awesome tickets for the football game tonight, and they are second row seats, so we couldn't pass it up! Don't expect us home; we'll be at the game." I was livid! Missionaries are not allowed to go to football games! And especially not on a Sunday, which it was! How could my husband think that this was remotely OK? I tried to calm myself down by convincing myself that he was kidding. It must have been his idea of a good joke to get my goat. Just then, Aaron called me back and sincerely denied that it was a joke. He completely ignored my reminders about it being Sunday, assuring me that if he had asked, he was sure his mission president would have said it was OK, that it was really no big deal. Which, of course, made it a very big deal indeed. At that point, I woke up, still feeling irritated at my sweet husband, who was sleeping innocently beside me.

For some reason, Aaron is almost always a jerk in my dreams. That's why I lovingly tell him when I wake up that I'm so glad he's not the man of my dreams.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ho, ho, ho it's Christmas!

As we were decorating the tree, Elodie found this little Santa suit and tried it on. It fits pretty well, doesn't it?
Here's Baby Xanta in it at 6 months old!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Texas Take Two

We drove down to Texas for the second time this year. Xander and Elodie should get blue ribbons for Excellence in Traveling by Automobile. Seriously, they're champs!

For some reason, Aaron associates Thanksgiving with hunting, so he got this notion a few months ago that we should go down to Texas for Thanksgiving break so he could hunt wild boars with his nephew (AKA brother) Ryan. They did hunt for hogs, they did find some hogs, but lucky for the hogs, no harvesting (as Aaron so humanely likes to call it) took place.

Xander and Elodie had a GREAT time at playing and relaxing at Ryan and Keira's house. They bonded with their cousins Jaxon and Logan a bit, but it's Skippy and Peanut that Elodie tells me she misses. I'm not too worried about the kids begging for our own dog, though; when anyone asks Xander if he's going to get a dog someday, he says, "no, because my mom is allergic."

(And I hope you enjoy Elodie's post-braids fro as much as we did.)

There are too many kids in this tub.
There are too many elbows to scrub.
I just washed a behind, that I'm sure wasn't mine.
There are too many kids in this tub.
Aah, good ol' Shel Silverstein! And why is Xander such a blur of motion, even in the tub?

A huge group of relatives gathered at Aunt Tina's house for Thanksgiving dinner. We were mostly able to just chat with family and enjoy ourselves while cousins and uncles entertained our kiddos. Uncle Ron was a great horse for the kids' one horse open sleigh. It was fun to see the soft "Grandpa" side of Aaron's oldest, tough-guy brother!

We are so THANKFUL for our wonderful extended family!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

His Father's Son

Dad, what if I saw your blood cells and your heart? That would be interesting!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


On a Sunday afternoon in September, we piled in the Excursion with Grandma and Grandpa and Aunt Melayna and Uncle Milan and Aunt Rachael to go visit Dexter's grave. Aaron and I were the only ones who had been since the headstone was placed. Isn't it beautiful? I think it's just the perfect memorial to little Dexter Joseph. I don't want to let anyone's right hand know what someone else's left hand may have been up to, so I'll just say that we are so very grateful for and humbled by the generosity of dear family who encouraged us to select just what we wanted and provided the means to make it happen. Thank you!

The past couple days I have been working on turning the blog entries that I wrote during Dexter's life into a physical book, and it has given me a great chance to reflect and remember what I learned. In some ways those memories seem so surreal and so long ago. Yet we've talked about and thought about Dexter every day since he passed, and it just seems normal for him to be part of our family. Just today, Elodie was throwing a fit about something and I sent her to her room to calm down until she was ready to talk about it. When she came back downstairs, she declared, "I was just sad because Dexter's not with us." To which Xander replied, "I thought you were sad because you had to go to your room." That's a perfect illustration of how the current physical absence of Dexter is an accepted, normal part of our day-to-day life. I sometimes wonder if it's too commonplace; my kids don't realize that losing your little brother isn't as common an occurence as getting a new little brother. Yet, how it could be otherwise for little children without avoiding the issue and causing them to forget? And I wouldn't want it to be otherwise; in fact, the way they accept death as simply as they accept birth is profound. With innocent children, you can't call their attitude about death irreverent, can you? I was thinking of including this picture as the last page of the book, but I can't decide if it's almost irreverent or if it's just cute and classic kid. What do you think?
I mean, come on, Xander. What's up with that goofy face? How about a serene, angelic smile? Or at least a little respect? And yes, Elodie is climbing on the stone barefoot because, well, she's 2 and gets in anti-shoe moods. I dunno. Maybe I'll go for one of the options where one or both of them aren't looking towards the camera. This one might not fit the tone of the book. Or does it?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cousin Buddies

Xander and Elodie had so much fun when cousins visited for a whole week! Xander especially loved the nights that they slept over at our house. He was quite the gentleman and let Kendall sleep in his bed while he slept on his floor in a sleeping bag. (Although the fact that he slept on his floor for the five nights after Kendall left seems to indicate that personal interest was a factor in making the noble offer). Elodie bonded especially well with Berkeley, so she asked Berk if she'd sleep in her room on the floor. Berk is such a sweetie; she was happy to comply. Being East Coasters, Kendall and Berkeley woke up rather early in the morning, and my kids were happy to wake up with them and chat and giggle in their beds until the sun came up. They were having so much fun playing all morning that when it was time to go to "preschool" at his friend's house down the street, Xander protested with, "But I don't want to leave my cousins!"
Then more cousins appeared on the scene and Xander was excited to have a boy cousin to be crazy with, especially a cool 8-yr-old who got baptized while they were here. Xander followed Tyler around and they wrestled and jumped off furniture and played goofy games. And Elodie had Eden, who is only 4 months older than her, to play with. I thought of how I got to be great friends with my long-distance cousins through periodic visits and family reunions over the years. We got so close that I roomed with my cousin Rachel during our Freshman and Sophomore years at BYU. (And then we served missions at about the same time, got married within a year of each other, and have had all three of our kids within months of each other. Now that's close!) That could be Elodie and Eden someday! I'm so glad my kids had the chance to bond with their cousins and build the foundations of eternal friendships!

One of the sweetest moments of the visit was watching Xander, Kendall, Berkeley, and Tessa sing "Baptism" together at Tyler's baptism. Elodie didn't want to be left out, so she stood up there with them just looking cute. It was wonderful to feel the Spirit together as a family. Thanks for making the trip, Meredith and Marliese!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Is it Christmas?!

It has snowed 3 times this month. And every time, when Xander has woken up and seen the blanket of snow, he has asked me with excitement, "is it Christmas?!" I've had to explain to him that it sometimes snows in the fall here; that it's really almost Halloween; that Christmas is not for a long time; that it's only October and November still has to come and go before we get to December. I really thought he was catching on. But Tuesday morning, it was a REAL winter snowstorm, not just a soggy fall storm, and Xander was completely convinced that it must be Christmas. After I re-explained to him that it can snow on days other than Christmas, he was still doubtful. "I'm going to go downstairs and see if there are any presents." He checked; there weren't any presents; and THEN he believed me.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Funny Kiddos

Elodie screamed (again) because Xander teased her in some way.
Me: Use your words, Elodie.
Elodie: (shouting) Xander, if you ever do that to me again, I'm going to be super mad, and I'm going to hit you! (calmly) And then I'll say sorry.
She definitely knows how to use those words. Hmmm.

But Elodie also has a super sweet side. Over breakfast, I was telling the kids about a very random dream I'd had. Apparently this prompted them to "remember" their dreams.
Elodie: I dreamt about marshmallows, and cake, and princesses, and Melayna.
Sing with me now,"These are a few of my favorite things!"

We were talking about how my birthday is coming up and I told them that I'm going to be 30.
Xander: Your cake is going to have to be huge to hold all of those candles!
Thanks, Xander.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Happy Fall, y'all!

All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide for our wants to be supplied.
Come, ye thankful children, come! Raise the song of harvest home!
Aaron is definitely one of those thankful children. When a volunteer squash was taking over our back garden, he just couldn't yank it up because he saw it as a gift directly from God. And when we harvested all of this plus a couple buckets more from the squash we didn't plant, Aaron did not regret that decision. His gratitude for this abundance is so sweet and childlike. "Just look at all of this food!" We are definitely enjoying the bounty of fall. We hope all of you are feeling abundantly blessed this season, too!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Smack Talk

Imagine sitting at dinner with us, chatting about the day, when this little high-pitched voice chimes in."Mommy, I'm gonna beat you." She gives you that look that let's you know you've been challenged and starts shoveling her food in. (Eating races probably aren't the best table manners, but it sure helps her finish all of her dinner!) "Mom, you're toast." Where did she learn to smack talk? Now it seems that "you're toast" is not quite enough for her. She took today's dinner smack talk to the next level: "You're burning toast." You think you can take her?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wonderful Washington

As we were leaving Oregon Saturday morning, Xander asked where we were going next. He was not happy to hear of our boring destination: HOME. Lucky for us with the summer travel schedule we've had, our kids love to GO. But unluckily for them, summer was over and Dad had to get back for school Monday morning. Xander begged to go back to Isaac's house instead of home. He had such a good time there! Isaac was quite the train fanatic at Xander's age, and was kind enough to humor Xander with hours of trainset fun.
Isaac also taught Xander and Elodie an elaborate pretend game that he called Elephant Slayer. In case you haven't read Isaac's current favorite library book, an elephant slayer is an extinct tiger-like creature with teeth that could tear through elephant skin. Luckily, the game was more like house played on all fours in a cave than chasing and slaying elephants. In fact, it sounded like this particular family of elephant slayers actually preferred bacon to elephant. Elodie, the mom, kept retrieving pounds of pretend bacon from the toy chest to bring back to the cave. Elodie loved playing with Isaac, (I wish I had caught a picture of Isaac giving her a hug before bed; he was so sweet to her!) but she did occasionally try to play with Camryn, too, who is almost 11-months younger. Yes, they do look the same age, but the just-learning-to-talk barrier made Elodie think she was so much older than her "little" cousin. The next time they see each other, they will likely be caught up to where they seem the exact same age. And it'll be so fun to see them interact even more. Camryn has such a sweet personality!
Aaron and I had loads of fun, too. We went to a free lunch concert in a Puyallup park with some fiddle-playing Irish-dancing sisters who were actually extraordinarily talented.And afterwards, the kids had a blast splahing around in the wading pool. Xander usually remembered the only rule that the lifeguards made every kid repeat before letting them in: No Running!But I think that my favorite part of staying with Ben and Mary Ann was just sitting down after the kids were settled and talking until the wee hours of the morning. (Although I did feel a little guilty for wearing out my dear pregnant sister-in-law! We're so excited for the new addition to their darling family!) I learned so much from both of them. They are so wise and such great examples to us! Thanks again to Morgan and Ashley for the much-needed excuse to get to the Northwest and reconnect with family!

Be Fruitful

Mystery Squash--defying the law of the harvest. Reap what you sow, and then some.The camera isn't playing tricks on you. That dark green one really was about twice the size of Aaron's head. After disecting the squash and analyzing its seeds and flesh, we've ascertained that Mother Nature created a unique zucchini/pumpkin hybrid just for us. But it was too much just for us and so Aaron the shredmaster reduced it to an enormous heap of bakeable goodness, and we got down to baking. After a double batch of chocolate brownies, streusel muffins, and classic zucchini bread, all concocted in the Stephenson kitchen in Oregon, there was still a normal-sized zucchini's worth of heap remaining, which we bestowed upon Aaron's sister, Nancy. Aaron just felt so grateful for the lush volunteer squash that he couldn't leave its fruitfulness behind in Colorado to deal with (I mean, enjoy) when we got back from gallavanting across the Northwestern region. And we only tackled this mega squash after enjoying the normal-sized ones daily in the Ben Dahle kitchen in Washington--sauted, grilled, and baked in a cream cheese filled chocolate roll. Let's just say that this thriving jungle of volunteer squash is pretty serious about being fruitful and replenishing the Earth. And so are we.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Toilet Training Woes

I keep thinking that Elodie is just about there. And she's not. And I start feeling exasperated and start using less effective parenting techniques such as begging like this.

Me: (pleading, begging, nearly groveling) Elodie, please don't run around naked!

Elodie: OK. I'll just walk.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Spatial Intelligence

I have no sense of direction. Sometimes I can use my memory to fill the gap, but I definitely don't know what it feels like to just sense which way is what way and what way is which.

And then there's Xander. I think he knows how to get more places in this town than I did when I was 17! I remember finally getting my driver's license and realizing that I had to ask my parents for directions before I went anywhere by myself because as a passenger, I had never really paid any attention whatsoever.

Monday afternoon, Xander was riding with me to pick up two boys I started tutoring after school. He had been with me once to this charter school, a week before. As I turned right on 1st Ave, Xander piped up, "Mom, this is not how you get to Arthur's school." I assured him that although it wasn't the same way we'd gone last week, it was another way that would get us there. Just a few feet further down the street, Xander said, "No, Mom, this is the road you go on to park and wait until it's dark and watch fireworks." How in the world did he remember that this road takes us to the CCA parking lot where we watched fireworks on the 4th of July--in 2008? I was quite impressed. But Xander was less than impressed with my skills. When we turned onto the next street, Xander declared quite confidently, "Mom, I don't think you know where you're going."

That time I did know just where I was going, but back in June, Xander's sense of direction and attention to detail got us unlost in the backcountry of Texas and back safely to Grandma and Grandpa's house. He's got the sense, so I've learned to listen to the boy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Finally Finished

Whew--I took my Linear Algebra Final this afternoon! And while it would feel a bit better to have aced it, it feels plenty good to just be done with it! That procrastination factor sure made it pretty all-consuming the past few weeks!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Always Good for a Laugh

(Me, trying to find the eigenvalue of matrix A using the characteristic polynomial.)
Xander: Mom, do the funniest word ever!
Me: (distractedly) What's the funniest word ever?
Elodie: Stinky!
Elodie and Xander: (confirming that she's right) Giggle, chuckle, giggle.
Me (muttering to myself, unaware that anyone is listening): Now, how do I find the eigenvector?
Elodie: (bossily) You tan't find the eidenvector.
Personally, I think the word eigenvector, coming from Elodie's high-pitched, well-enunciated little toddler voice, is far funnier than "stinky." But maybe that's because I've grown numb to the funniness of "stinky" due to severe overuse around here!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pack, Unpack, Repack

The middle of May, Aaron finished finals and began his relaxing summer "break." Pack. Fly to San Diego. Come home. Unpack. Do laundry. Repack. Go on an 11-yr-old scout camp out. Come home. Unpack. Do laundry. Repack. Go to Sterling for a week and live in the dorms. Friday night, come home. Unpack (i.e. throw it all in a laundry basket). Do laundry. Madly repack. Leave for Texas Saturday morning. Come home Saturday night (two weeks later). Unpack. Mow the jungle of a lawn. Do laundry. Repack. Thursday morning, drive to Utah for a family reunion. Come home Tuesday night. Unpack. Do laundry. Replace a door. Mow the lawn. Repack. Fly to Alaska Saturday morning. Come home Thursday morning (nearly three weeks later). Unpack. Wait for it to stop raining so Aaron can mow the jungle of a lawn. Do laundry.

The question is, should we leave the suitcases in our bedroom or stick them back in the crawl space while we enjoy our luxurious two weeks at home before we get to repack and head west for Morgan's wedding?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Use it or lose it

I should be carefully writing a proof of one of the following statements right now.
The action of a linear transformation T: U → V is completely determined by its action on a basis B = {u 1, u 2, ..., u n} for the domain U. OR
The range of a linear transformation T: U → V is a subspace of the codomain V. OR
The linear transformation T: U → V is one-to-one if, and only if, ker T = {0}.

Decisions, decisions. Which statement shall I prove? Unfortunately for me, my brain is more used to decisions like which of the following recipes shall I make for dinner tonight, or which of the following parks within walking radius should we visit today. My poor brain hasn't done higher level mathematics since, oh, let's see, 1998. These proofs are making me wonder if that part of my brain has atrophied!

Regardless, I must prove what the online Linear Algebra course tells me to prove, for I seem to have NOT lost my procrastination skills that I had perfected in high school. This online course that you have a luxurious year to complete expires in a month and I'm not wasting my $411! Plus, I really do LOVE math and I'm excited to go back to teaching math at some point in the future. At which point I want to have a teaching license.

So my kids have gotten a little less attention and watched a few more videos from the library in the last week, which apparently put our TV over the edge. I think it's fritzed out for good. (So much for my free babysitter!) That's why Xander is begging me to play Cootie with him instead of being mesmerized by the What's in Space? show I so lovingly selected for him.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Princess and the Helicopter

Xander and Elodie were making some pretty elaborate plans as they sat in the double stroller on the way to the grocery store this morning. We saw two helicopters flying at the same time, which was pretty mesmerizing. Naturally, Xander declared that he wants to fly a helicopter when he grows up. Elodie took this opportunity to repeat her future plans. "When I drow up, I want to be a princess." I was curious about what she thinks that entails. "They dance at the ball," she informed me.

Xander: "Elodie, I can take you to the ball in my helicopter!"
Elodie: "You tan? Tan I dance at the ball?"
Xander: "Yeah. And you can eat dinner on the helicopter. You fold down the seat, and then you put your dinner on it, and then you pull down the thing, and you can watch a movie. Elodie, You. Can. Watch. A movie. While. You. Eat." (He punctuated each word as if that was the most unbelievable thing.)
Elodie: "Oh."
Xander: "And I'll pick you up in my helicopter after the ball. But you can't marry me, because I'm your brother. And you can't marry Dad. No. ... You can marry Cooper. (He's a cute little 3-year-old from nursery.) Do you want to marry Cooper?"
Elodie: "Um, yeah, I do."

Don't you wish you had a helicopter pilot for an older brother? Talk about first class.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Did I hear that right?

I was just chatting with my survivor man who's currently in Middle-of-Nowhere, Alaska. Before we got cut off, I do believe he said that while the beauty and feel of Alaska is everything he'd built Alaska up to be, he wasn't quite as set on moving our family up there due to the cost of living. Was I really on the phone with Aaron? I guess we've become more unified than I realized over these last 6 years! He's putting practical and frugal over wide open spaces and hunting seasons!? And the funniest part is, when he said that his heart isn't quite as set on Alaska as it was, I felt a little let down. I've been gearing up for an Alaskan adventure for years--I think I was starting to get excited. But with that little reality check, our life-after-medical-school suddenly seems so completely up in the air. Although the cell phone reception was pretty shaky. Who knows what he actually said.

Update: Aaron just called from Anchorage, where cell phone reception is quite clear. The first words out of his mouth were, "I really do love Alaska!" He told me he read this post and that his response was, "What have I done?!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

North to Alaska

Today, Elodie woke up from her nap with some exceptional bedhead. She had taken out the darling princess hairdo (thanks to my niece Alyssa for teaching me another way to do her hair!) which resulted in some gravity-defying craziness off to the sides. I told her that she looked like a mad scientist. "No, I'm a happy scientist," she informed me. I realize that this story would be cuter and funnier with a picture, but our camera went North to Alaska. With Aaron, who is so alone up there in the Last Frontier that he has to take pictures of himself. Here he is in front of the Alaskan Native Medical Center where he is doing a clinical rotation in surgery. Yesterday was his first day, so he just observed. But since today was his whopping second day, he actually got to assist in surgery. I kindly (bluntly?) asked him if these surgeons knew that he has no idea what he's doing. Aaron assured me that you're fine if you just follow their instructions to a tee. Wow--he's definitely getting some good experience! The top-notch surgery department and unmatched hands-on experience offered by these Alaskans is definitely a huge plus, but I'm pretty sure that the main reason Aaron is up in Alaska is to convince me that living there will be a dream come true for the whole family. This is the home where he's currently staying. Our bishop hooked us up with some friends of theirs in Anchorage and they've offered him a couch--and food--at no charge. I'll admit, this house could be a dream come true for a large family. I love the wrap-around porch! Aaron is also trying to disprove my notion that Alaska is all glaciers and tundra. You can actually grow a garden up there, believe it or not. Check out the size of their rhubarb!And he claims that these raspberry bushes are taller than he is. Maybe this IS a dream come true! YUM!Every time I talk to Aaron he tells me how gorgeous the views are--mountains jutting straight up from the ocean's edge, with a glacier nestled right in between. Of course cameras aren't very good at capturing spectacular--he assures me that this view is awe-inspiring in person. Which means that all of you will just have to come visit us when we move up North to Alaska so that you can see the views for yourself!

Tiny-Town Texas

We spent the second half of June in a tiny town called Bowie, Texas. That's where Grandma & Grandpa Dahle live these days. While Aaron learned oodles in his rural family practice experience, the kids and I enjoyed the pace of small town life. The biggest adjustment for me was no internet access or cell phone reception--for two weeks! One of my favorite parts was watching Xander bond with Grandpa Dahle. Xander loved to just follow Grandpa around. With all that space, there were plenty of interesting places to follow--to the pond in the corral, to the garden to pick vegetables, even to the driveway to check fluids in the Jeep.
Xander and Grandpa especially loved picking berries together out behind the horses' corral. Unfortunately, Xander liked those berries so much that the bowl always returned to the house as empty as it had been when they left. Grandpa just chuckled, but, hey, I never even got to taste one berry! Grandpa was also Xander's favorite because he knew how to fix the chain that kept breaking on the pedal-powered John Deere. And Grandpa helped Xander make his idea of hauling the wagon behind it a reality. Xander's little cousin (technically, first cousin once removed, but who wants to be technical?) Jaxson was happy to be hauled behind the tractor.And he was equally happy to hop out and help push when the tractor got stuck. They had a blast together!Jaxson and Elodie bonded, too, although Elodie only considered Jaxson and Logan and Braxton and Zach and Cody Xander's cousins, since they are all boys. There were no little girl cousins in Texas, but she was excited to have her "tousin" Tanielle, who's 13, sleep in her bedroom one night. But Elodie really did play well with Xander's cousins, too! Grandma Dahle and Aunt Marj generously threw Xander a Texas birthday party. He came away with numerous new trucks, one of which was a John Deere with various attachments which he informed me today is his best truck. We all had loads of fun with Ryan and Keira's cute little family, even though Ryan and Aaron's hog-hunting plans never quite materialized. (Awwww, shucks!) We really enjoyed the time in tiny town Texas, mostly because we got to really reconnect with people we love most!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Won't my daddy be so proud of me?

I'm cookin' up a pot of garden weeds.
Won't my daddy be so proud o' me?
'Cause I'm cookin' up a pot of amaranth!
Yum! That smells good!

I'm eatin' up a pot of garden weeds.
Won't my daddy be so proud o' me?
'Cause I'm eatin' up a pot of amaranth!
Wow! That's yummy!

Ya know when you come home from vacation and you have no produce in the fridge? Ya know how you come home from vacation and you have GIANT weeds in your garden? Put them together and what do you get? Bippity, boppity, boo! A delicious side of greens! Believe it or not, I heard these exact words out of Xander's mouth when he finished his serving of amaranth" "Yum, may I have some more greens? Those are really good." I think that moment was the highlight of my day! Having greens for dinner really was quite a novelty. Growing up, we generally had them as a midnight snack since my mom (the dinner chef) wasn't nearly the edible weeds enthusiast that my dad (the midnight snack chef) is. If only I'd made a frozen-banana-powdered-milk-honey-milkshake, the experience would have been complete. Mmm, just thinking about it makes my mouth water. It's been too long! I think I'll have to break tradition again and serve it for breakfast this week.

Back Together for the Jamboree

Lowe Reunion Days! Please pass the ketchup! While we were together drinking homemade root beer and gobbling down the homemade ice cream, we wondered why our old family reunion song didn't say "Please pass the root beer." I'm sure Grandpa Lowe had his reasons! With nearly all 100 of the Nola and Julian posterity there, we sure had a blast! Elodie thoroughly enjoyed the chance to play with HER cousins. She calls the boy ones XANDER'S cousins. Elodie even got some chances to dote on "tute baby Haley."Evan and Grant are so good at including Xander as one of the big guys. He idolizes them both! I believe his last words to Evan before we drove off were, "You're awesome!" Personally, I think Jill is rather awesome. I even honored her on the Fourth by making it "Try to be like Jill day."
Unfortunately, I don't think it worked. Her cuteness simply can't be copied. Trust me. I tried.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Happy Birthday to Xander, Happy Birthday to you!

Not to be forgotten

Elodie enjoyed Sterling, too. Here's a quick snapshot.

Playing "titchen" with the farmer's daughter in a cute little playhouse on the farm.

Testing out the old farm machinery at the musuem.

Playing with baby Erica in the car.

And driving the tractor at the NJC "playdround."