Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mt. Saint Helen's

When the volcano blew in 1980, my Justin was just about to celebrate his 6th birthday.  It was postponed by a couple of weeks because our home town was buried in ash.  Being 3 at the time, I only remember glimpses.  Still, it was a major event in both of our lives (since, of course, it didn't only encompass just the one day).  

33 Years Later
I am a firm believer in visiting a place.  I know visiting an historical site isn't always possible, practical or wise.  When it is--possible, practical and wise--visiting a place can give perspective and understanding that can be effectively learned no other way.

They have done such a great job with the Mt. St. Helen's Visitor's Centers.  They are kind of spendy so we just picked to pay for one--the one at Johnston's Ridge.  

It is devastating.  It is hard to over-state how mind-blowing the size and proximity of the volcano.  

The area immediately around the mountain was covered in an old-growth forest.  When I say old-growth, I'm not kidding.  The trees were over 500 years old with trunks 8 feet in diameter.  They were blown completely off and became part of the blast.  Massive trees that left only a few shattered trunks.

Don't ask.  I wouldn't know what to say.
A once VERY alive landscape is covered in pumice and little vegetation.  

It has been 10 years since our first and only other visit.  The last time we came, our oldest was five and we only had three children.  My, oh, my.  How times have changed.

There are quite a few wildfires in the western states right now.  It was smoky!

If you ever get the chance, it is a worthwhile trip.  It is not on the way to anywhere and it is a fairly long drive, but it is a place that needs to be experienced!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Justin's Design Aesthetic

I've designed most of the Someday House.  It is my office, so to speak, and I know better than anyone the needs and wants, and the don't needs and don't wants of the family.  I know what will improve work flow, what things need homes and which children "go" best with which children.  I also have a pretty strong opinion on colors and style.

My good husband has patiently listened to me flesh out design ideas for about eight years.  We had to make several compromises during the planning process due to budget, but in most ways, I am getting the house I want.

This is not to say that Justin hasn't chimed in and it isn't to say that I haven't taken his advice--this has been the case many times.  We've been married long enough and re-done enough rooms together over the years, that I know pretty well what he likes or doesn't like.

With that said, I will not paint anything "tan" or "beige."  There are some areas where I can't budge.  No, really.  I can't.

Keeping in mind that our basement won't be finished for some time, there is, nonetheless, a plan for the basement.  A large portion of it will be devoted to games, movies, and general family togetherness.  I'd like it to look like this:

Justin wants a full-on 70's Rec Room:

I wish I was kidding, but I'm afraid this may actually happen.

He wants dark wood paneling.  
He wants a pleather wet bar.  
He wants thick, shag carpet 
and I'm pretty sure he would be okay with some of that shag carpet
finding its way up a wall or the front of the bar.
Avacado, Harvest Gold, Mushrooms, Owls, the big wooden forks, all of it.

Who knows.  The whole 50's drive-in, Coca-cola themed game rooms have come back in a huge way, so maybe there is room at the top for the 70's Rec Room.

We may be going for it.

Post Script:  My oldest daughter was reading this post over my shoulder.  She is ALL for it.  
I may soon be in the minority.  *Sigh*

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quiet! The Baby's Sleeping!

He must be the sixth child.

Here, Eliza pounds out The Entertainer 

and the baby

Friday, August 23, 2013

Child's View

I found this on my camera when I downloaded the pictures yesterday.  Don't ask me why the camera was on at church--it is obvious that I wasn't looking at this particular child.  While I wouldn't have approved of the girl taking a picture during the hymn, I'm glad she did.  She captured a moment that I couldn't have, doing something that we have no pictures of us doing, even though we do it every single week.

It's a regular thing, nothing special or memorable.  

I forget to take pictures of our regular things.

I'm glad she did.

Parade of Homes

Last weekend was the Parade of Homes in our town.  Unlike years past, this year, I was actually shopping during the tour.  While I wasn't shopping for one of the houses, I was shopping for materials and sub-contractors.  When it was time to go, I made the announcement to the kids, "Get your shoes on!  We're going to the Parade of Home!!"  Their shoulders slumped and the looks on their faces pleaded, 
Please, no, Mom.  

"What?  You don't want to go?  I'll be gone for most of the day, are you sure?"  

General rejoicing ensued.  
I delightedly sneaked out with only my baby in tow.  
It was so much fun!

I looked at pretty paint colors:

I looked at pretty closet doors and other inspirational wood:

I looked at flooring (and got more excited about that than any other thing!).  When you are looking at a sample in a showroom, you get to see an 18 inch piece of the flooring.  This way, I was able to see not only an entire floor, but I was able to see it on a high-traffic day.  Several flooring options were ruled out during the Parade because it was too loud or showed footprints altogether too easily.  

I was introduced to new products like the Slate appliances.  They are gray, but not high-maintenance stainless.  Unlike white which stands out and black which looks so cavernous, slate sort of disappears into the cabinetry.

And I looked at great landscaping ideas.  These are real wood trunks made into fountains.  Cool, huh?

Builders, please hurry up and get back to us with your bids!  I can't wait to get started!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Boat Ride

At the work Christmas party, all the Medicine Man employees received gifts.  The first name pulled from the hat got spatulas and the gifts were each a little spendier or more exotic.  More and more names were drawn until, at last, Justin was the sole employee whose name still sat in the hat.  Out came a giant basket of fancy schmancy wine.  
Don's face was priceless and the entire crowd erupted with laughter:  
Justin is the only Mormon (teetotaler) of the crew.
There are probably several things we could have done with the wine, but we passed it around and traded "gifts" with someone else.  
We finally cashed in on our traded gift.

It was for a day on the lake.  Don and Kathy (the owners of Medicine Man) have a pontoon boat.  I have to say, I never saw the attraction of those until he took us out.  It was so relaxing and comfy.  
As Eliza and I lounged about, she said, and I quite agreed, "I could do this all day!"

He took us on a lovely ride and parked us in the middle of the lake for lunch.  He bought sandwiches from a local shop.  My fancy girls LOVED them because the toothpicks were fancy.

After lunch, the kids jumped off the boat and swam around to cool off a bit.  Again, so easy on the big floating dock.  

Removing the tomato.
Don and Kathy are a couple of the nicest people in the world.  We count our lucky stars that Justin gets to work for them.  In fact, one of the things that gets the most under Justin's skin at work is when his co-workers are lazy.  It makes him mad that anyone should take advantage of Don.

Our captain.
After the boat ride, he took us back to his place where he had blown up a bunch of water toys for the kids.  The rest of the afternoon was spent jumping off the dock, pushing each other in and laying around on the floaty toys.

I think I need to add pontoon boat to my wish list.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Family Hike

Having our whole family home is such a delight.  We had an entire list of things we wanted to do this summer, but couldn't bring ourselves to do it without all of our children.  I tried to schedule camps and other activities for the girls so they wouldn't feel like their summer was slipping by, but August is really prime time for us!

The first big activity was a hike to a gorgeous mountain lake.  

We've been hiking together as a family since the beginning.  We were finally to the point where no one needed to be carried!  
Then we had a new baby.  :)

Good thing he is so cute!

The lake, as usual, was COLD.  It felt so good after our hot hike.  

King of the mountain.

We could not have asked for more perfect weather and the lake was clear and emerald. 
Just breathtaking.

Me and my little hiking buddy.  Isn't he getting so chubby and squishable?

We discovered this meadow of huckleberries last year.  Justin was more excited about this than any other part if the trip.  We brought home a pretty good load.

The hillside was very step and every one slipped at least once--sometimes for a long time.  It scared me so baby and I stuck to the bottom, picking whatever I could reach.

The reason we found this place last year was because of this little guy.  I was barely pregnant in fact, I didn't even know I was expecting yet.  My heightened sense of smell found the huckleberries a year ago.  Now, he is here in my arms.  Oh, joy!

Purple lipped and sliding off the hillside.  Home to make huckleberry milkshakes!
What a great day.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Annual Baseball Game

Justin's boss buys tickets to our local minor league team for his employees and their families every year.  This is the only game our family ever watches, so it is something we look forward to.

This year's game was mere hours after our Isaac came home from his many, many weeks away.  None of us could get enough of him!

It took him no time at all to be up to his old antics!

We got Justin balls, bats and mitts for Father's Day this year.  He has been playing with the girls in the meadow so they actually had a bit of an idea of what was going on on the field.

Eliza and Dad enjoyed each other--while watching the game.

 After a while, the others were not really paying attention to the game.  They found their own ways to entertain themselves.

Medicine Man also provided a traditional ball park dinner of hot dogs, chips, potato salad sodas of all kinds, and Cracker Jacks.  Dinner was more popular than the game, I'm afraid!

Baby Boy was mostly a very good sport, but it was hot and he was tired.  Sometimes Big Sister just doesn't cut it when you're hot and tired.

 It was a breast cancer awareness day, so Medicine Man provided everyone with pink t-shirts.  When pink started coming back in for men, I asked Justin if he wanted a pink shirt.  He said, "I did my time in the 80's."  Breast cancer fundraisers qualify under a different category.

It was a fun family affair!
Thank you, Medicine Man!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A New Journey

Isaac has always been dancing--even before he was born.  As a young boy, it looked like he was reenacting a scene from Star Wars or Spider-man, but when we look back, we see that he was dancing.  When he was 8, he opted to join his sister’s ballet/tap class with Stacy Landon.  He loved it--a little boy making noise with his feet.  I have long been a Gene Kelly fan so having a boy in dance was great by me!  Over time he gravitated more and more toward ballet and, through a series of events, we enrolled him in the Brindusa-Moore Ballet Academy.  At the age of 11, he began to study classical ballet in earnest.

During the first year with Brindusa-Moore, Isaac was cast as Fritz in the Nutcracker.  it was after that initial performance that Beth and Sergiu explained that he was exemplary.  Having never danced myself and having no experience with ballet, I figured this was the kind of thing teachers said to every parent.  Beth and Sergiu had a lot of convincing to do; their trained eye saw something the rest of us couldn't see--yet.

Each time I watch my son dance, I see dramatic improvement.   I’m beginning to see what his teachers could see three years ago.  His movement exudes emotion and his audience feels it.  Words from judges and others “in the know” have confirmed what his teachers have been saying all along:  Isaac is a special talent.

Isaac is a quintessential family man.  If he is not in the studio, he most wants to be home.  Until four months ago, Isaac was my only son.  He respects and honors me.  He is a careful protector of his four sisters and is his father’s comrade.  When the long-awaited brother arrived, Isaac was caught hook, line and sinker.  Living away from his family is a definite trial and we would not pursue it except it were a worthwhile life-long endeavor.

It has been a singular pleasure to watch Isaac develop as a dancer.  He has forgotten how to walk; he dances.  He doesn't know how to stand unless he is in position.  He doesn't sit; he stretches.  Dance is in every part of him.  So many times I have wished he was just a mediocre player on his junior high basketball team.  But even I can see that he was destined for something else.

My son, through his God-given gifts, will make our world a more beautiful place.

Please visit for more.

The MotherShip

Friday, August 9, 2013


Isaac has been invited to attend the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow, Russia.  This is an incredible honor--only a handful of Americans are ever invited.  Besides my mind being completely blown and my heart being torn to shreds, I am so excited for this boy and his life prospects.

It is a state school, so all Russian students attend the Bolshoi for free (or for the price of taxes their parent's already paid).  However, they do not offer scholarships to international students.  The costs of tuition, education and room and board is very high (not to mention travel, more dance clothes, international immunizations, etc.).  Although individual contributions would be welcome, the expenses are a little beyond that.  

Does anyone know of a foundation or organization that offers grants or sponsors artistic aspirations of young people?

We only have about one month to secure funding so any tips would be super helpful in narrowing down our search.

Thank you, friends!
And congratulation, Isaac!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Of Love and Trust

I made a reference earlier to the fact that our four girls were in a theater camp all last week.  It was an all day, every day thing and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  At the end of the week, the group put on a musical for the families.  The girls all had lines, songs and dances to memorize and three of them had a solo. It was so important, they had made pointed invitations to extended family--sometimes calling a few too many times than was socially acceptable, but who cares about those kinds of rules when you are 9?   After all, it promised to be an amazing production.

Parenthetically, Grandma, Aunt Mollie and two of the cousins were able to come.  As I sat in the lobby waiting to meet them, I thought, This is why we moved home.  The family never could have come to see this if they were a full day's drive away, but 30 minutes?  No big deal.  

My pictures turned out crappy because they performed in front of a large bank of windows.  The production was supposed to be in an outdoor amphitheater, but rain forced them inside.
They each did such a fantastic job and I could go on and on in my motherly way, but that is not the point of this post.  The point I want to make has more to do with mothers and daughters.

As each sweet girl took to the stage, they looked around at the whole audience--for a moment.  They looked at their grandmother, aunt and cousins briefly as well.  But, really, they only had eyes for their mama; for me.  Each was so proud of their remembered choreography, completed lines, perfectly-pitched song, they were checking to make sure I saw it, I heard it, and I noticed.  

There are so many times when I feel like a big fat failure of a mother, when I'm sure I've messed up and ruined my children.  I don't know if all mother's feel this way, but I pretty much constantly feel guilt of one degree or another; guilt that I haven't taught them to work, that they don't know their math facts, that I'm not giving enough attention to one or the other, that I'm giving too much attention to one or the other, that I yell once in a while, that I give in too easily, that my tactics are weak, that the shirt is stained or the pants are too short, and on and on and so forth and forever.

But that random Friday afternoon, in a cramped conference center, something clicked:  
I am NOT messing up oh so terribly.  
I need not feel guilt at all times and in all places.  
My children love me.  

This isn't to say I am doing it all right, but I am doing what's right.  Their little eyes and bright smiles were seeking approval from only one person in the audience: their mother's.  This doesn't make it any less important that the others were there.  In fact, it was vital that others were there because the girls needed me to see that the whole audience was clapping for them (or that they were brave enough to speak/sing/dance in front of that whole audience).
Mom, did you see who came to watch me in my play?
Mom, did you hear everyone clapping after my solo?
Mom, did you notice how loud they laughed at my joke?
Does that ever go away?  I don't think so.
I always want my parents to be proud of me in much the same way.

The second gentle reminder of the afternoon was that I have a great responsibility to these beautiful children to always be trustworthy.  At their ages, they will believe everything I tell them.  I must be careful to always tell the truth--the good truth and the hard truth.  

Oh, how I love them.  
My heart
is full
to bursting.

I was showing our house plans to a friend today.
He said, "In a few months, you'll be in your house and you'll be happy and fulfilled."
I kindly replied, "I am already happy and fulfilled.  I just need more bedrooms."