Monday, June 30, 2014

getting it done: dry river bed

 1 visit from Kent's parents, to help us with a house project. (Their very generous and very appreciated Christmas gift.)

5000 + lbs of rock purchased, lifted, moved, and placed. Which seems crazy after all the work we did to remove the rocks that were there before.  But this was the plan all along, believe it or not!  

 Three trips to visit the mumbling clerk at the "Rock Store." (Yep, there's really a place where you can just buy rocks, and yes, he was very hard to understand!)

 Trench dug, weed barrier laid, rocks arranged, wheel barrow purchased (we're big kids now), and load after load after load of river pebbles hauled from the driveway where they'd been dumped.

Plants bought, weed whacker gifted (Happy Birthday, Kent!), plants planted,
more rocks added and arranged

Looks great!  
Next steps:  leveling and filling in the dirt wedge on the left there with grass, adding more rocks at the end by that pine tree to build it up higher like a faux waterfall, more plants, and a sweet little footbridge across the middle.

But for now, we're resting our sore muscles and enjoying it.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, Grammer and Papa, for helping us make a river!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

family reunion: the pool

Photo by Shannon
Yep, the pool was incredible.

We pretty much spent every single unscheduled hour playing out here.
photo by Shannon
It had the neatest little zero-entry section, which was perfect for the littles.

photo by Shannon
Ellie wasn't really into swimming in the deep part, but she loved the ledge. All day, every day, she was asking us if she could "touch the water, please? Just one little touch?"  

And of course, one little touch always led to more...
photo by Teresa
 All she wanted was to stop taking pictures and just give the water "one little touch."

photo by Teresa
Nicholas swam his little heart out on this trip.  The first day he was hesitant and wouldn't get in the deep part without one of us holding onto him (even with his life jacket.)  The second day we took him out there, tried to help him relax and swim on his own, and finally just had to step back and let go of him to prove that he could float.

A brief moment of panic, then, 
"Hey! I'm swimming!"

From that moment on, he was almost constantly in the pool.  He'd float around (yay for Puddle Jumpers!) and paddle his arms and legs a million miles per minute, yet barely inch forward.
We'll work on efficient swimming techniques later.

Aside from one scary moment when he got into the pool thinking he had his "floaties" on when he actually didn't (thank you, Bree, for saving his life!),
he loved every minute he was in the pool, and he'd stay out there for hours, until we finally forced him to come inside because he was shivering and his lips were turning purple.

Audree (3) waiting at the bottom of the waterslide.

And to prove that Kent and I thoroughly enjoyed the pool as well:
photo by Teresa
Kent and his brothers, waiting to see how long it took Teresa to come take their picture. (about sixty seconds)

Photo by Shannon
Nicholas and me in the cave.

Nicholas has asked me every single day since then when we'll be going back to the "beach house" so he can swim in the pool.
It sure would be nice, Buddy.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Nicholas and Alene

Nicholas loves babies.
And babies, apparently, love him.

Mason and Jessica (Kent's youngest brother) have a precious little two-month-old, Alene.  She's darling, and the sweetest little thing,
and anytime Nicholas was nearby, she'd lock her eyes on him,
and smile and smile away, refusing to look at anyone else as long as she could see Nicholas.

Nick was overjoyed.
"Alene really likes me, Mom.  She always smiles at me!"
It was sweet to see. She really did adore Nicholas for some reason.

Nicholas was also very very sweet to little Cole (1 year.) He'd follow Cole around, helping him reach things, picking up balls Cole dropped, and being his little buddy.
photo by Shannon
photo by Shannon
What a sweetheart.
How did I get so lucky to be his mom?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

family reunion: fun at the house

While we were at the family reunion last week, we had many hours with nothing planned; we could have gone out and done our separate things,
but we all chose to pretty much just stay at the house, be together, and make our own fun
(which wasn't hard with the house and the pool!)
I'm very glad we did. These unscheduled hanging-out-together hours were some of the best.

As I mentioned before, Ellie's favorite thing to do was climb in the waterfall.  We spent lots of time up there with her, listening to her little songs:

I like to climb. 
I'm a good climber.
First on this rock,
then on that rock.
I love rocks.  

And so on.
Photo by Shannon
Ellie has never been fond of big groups of people. Even people she knows and loves, 
so a house full of lots of slightly unfamiliar grown ups was not a comfortable place for her.  I spent most of my time with her whining and clinging to my hip.  We did our best to help her though,
even when that meant letting her take late naps and then eat cereal for dinner safe on Daddy's lap.

Photo by Shannon...we were wrangling our sad girl
We attempted to take a grandchildren picture.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7...9, and 10 were awesome. 
Number 8? Screamed like we were abandoning her instead of simply trying to get her to stand with her cousins.   

Ellie does not like crowds.  Next reunion (in three years) we're hoping she'll have grown out of this, at least enough.

Her cousins, (or her "best friends," according to her) Carlee and Anna, both 8, were some of the only people she felt comfortable with. These darling sweet girls let Ellie tag along with them, and even came down to our room several times to play with Ellie in the quiet where she felt more at ease.  
Kent's siblings raise some seriously incredible kids
They're the kind of kids I want my kids to be like in a few more years.

Another big hit for our Ellie were the many "Papa Hats" that Kent's parents brought for the kids--hats from the Nut Company.  Ellie liked to see how many she could fit on her head at once.

I was excited for this trip because I love every chance I get to spend with my incredible sister-in-laws.  Late night chatting, deep thoughts, giggling, crafting, and getting to know them all even better.  I love these women, I feel inspired and encouraged and loved when I'm with them, and I always wish I could be with them more often.

Photo by Shannon
Nicholas was in little boy heaven this trip.  He had an awesome pool, rocks to climb, boys to play with, an endless supply of sno-cones (we had our own sno-cone maker and syrup station....this got some pretty heavy use,)
And every night included dessert,
Movies (he was introduced to the wonders of Star Wars IV, V, and VI,)
And second (third? seventh? ...we ate so.many.sweets) desserts: 
S'mores from the firepit.

Some nights even included some late-night swimming/hot tubbing. 
photo by Shannon
With glow sticks.  
Nicholas didn't want to get in the water, so he took his glow stick to the upper bridge (over the waterslide) and circled it around in the air over and over again.  
It was a precious moment for me to observe from my warm spot in the hot tub-I could tell he was utterly, completely happy, waving his glow stick, in awe of the lights and the night.  

Throughout the week, Nicholas giggled, ran around like a wild thing, laughed about silly things the cousins said, and generally fit right in with his older boy cousins (13, 11, and 6.)  

I think in this moment he's laughing about something Payton (11) said about a kabob.  So goofy. So happy.

The morning that everyone left, as we waved goodbye and finished up our packing, 
with the big house suddenly quiet and empty, 
Ellie burst out of her shell and was the real Ellie.  Singing, bouncing, talking up a storm, and finally, for the first time that week, willing to show her affection for Grammer and Papa.  
Better late than never, right?
We had a perfectly happy time there.  
Thank you, Grammer and Papa for the fantastic week in a beautiful place!  

Friday, June 20, 2014

June date

Our Year of Dates started out strong, with our Reenact Our First Date January and the Art Museum in February,
but March, April, and May...
well, plans changed, babysitters fell through, kids got sick.
Life happened, and those dates either didn't happen or got replaced with simply going out to grab a dessert after we shop Home Depot, etc.

That's just what season of life we are in right now; and I'm okay with that.  The time will come that our babies aren't babies and we can go on dates without hiring a babysitter.  Until then, we'll just enjoy our babies and remember to be flexible.

But, for our date in June, I bought tickets to the Parade of Homes here in our valley, and although it almost didn't happen, my dad was working in the area and stayed at our house on Thursday night.  
He commutes nearly two hours every day for work, and on nights when he works late and has to start early, sometimes he stays at our house. He doesn't have to drive as far, and we get some time with Grandpa. Win-win.

The kids were delighted to have Grandpa stay with them,
and we were just so happy that a date night was finally working out!
 We walked through four homes last night,
some of them were massive. 
Like 15,000+ square feet.  Really, really big. 
Big enough to have an actual arcade room.
I think Kent kinda forgot what we were doing as he played. After several minutes I had to gently peel him away and remind him that we had the rest of the house to see.

 Climbing wall and fireman's pole. In the bedroom. So cool.

 Naturally, Kent's favorite part of all these homes were the theater rooms.  One home had actual movie props from the Harry Potter movies. We may have spent a good twenty minutes in there like complete nerds, amazed that we were standing next to the real Harry Potter broomstick.  

 This is a tiny door in the garage wall that opens directly to the floor of the pantry.  
So you can unload your car and slide your food right into the house.  
Genius.  Complete genius.

We admired the homes, oohed and ahhed at the details, explored hand-in-hand, and both wholeheartedly agreed that we really don't care to ever live in houses that big.

After we finished touring the homes, we stopped at our favorite cupcake place.
Kent purchased the very last Tres Leche Cupcake they had,
and he was a happy man.

We sat in the perfect summer night air, just talking. Just being together, being friends, just us.
 And that's the best part.