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?