Monday, September 23, 2013


Normally, I have no problem with bees.  
And when I say bees, I really mean wasps, hornets and yellow jackets.

Usually, I have a leave them alone and they'll leave you alone policy.

Our week of camping was a bit different.  
We fought, those bees and I.  
They kept attacking my family!

We have had a bad year for bees, but we were hoping that we were going camping late enough in the season that the worst of the problem would be over.  Not so.  
That is, if they were lessened, I would have hated to see them in August!

Our baby spent much of his time in the tent.

Good thing he is such a remarkable baby and so happy!

I actually did do some food prep in the tent, but most of the time, I just had to deal with the swarms.

Dear Family,
I hope you appreciate me.
Your Mother

Sunday, September 22, 2013

End of Season Camping

First we had to wait for Isaac to come home from Connecticut.  Then we had to wait for my good husband to be next in line for vacation hours.  At long last, we finally got to have our long camping trip of the summer.

I am about to blast you with a bunch of pictures!

This lake is just north of us, just south of the Canadian border.  It is one of the most beautiful places on planet earth.

And we had it to ourselves.

These beaches are usually full during the summer, but two weeks into the school year and they were virtually deserted.

In some ways it was a little freaky (big bear country), but in most ways it was delightful!

The weather was absolutely perfect.  Absolutely.  Cool in the mornings and evenings--perfect for hot cocoa and sitting around the campfire--and hot during the day.  

The kids were well behaved, helpful and not whiny.  My dream come true.

I was actually feeling quite bad going into the week.  
We have to raise $25,000 for our son to go to Russia.  
We are trying to build a house.  
It was the first big week of school stuff and we were missing dance, art, piano, church stuff and a home schooling group kick-off park day.  
I was trying to keep so many plates spinning and had to leave them all to go off the grid for the week.  

The first day, it was difficult for me.  I felt like I was being irresponsible.
Then, I decided to stop.  There was no cell service, no web access.  I had to put it all away.
So I did.

And I began to relax.  And I had fun.  And I forgot about all of my neglected plates.

It was absolutely medicine for the soul!

His soul, too.  He works so hard for our family and doesn't receive a lot of the reward.  
This week was good for him.

I am a lucky lady to be loved by a man such as he.

So, anyway, we had fun.  

We spent much of our time on the white sand beach and in the crystal clear water, but that wasn't the only way we spent our days.

The children also did a lot of this:

 I learned 14 years ago that I wasn't going to read when we went camping.  I still try, but rarely succeed.  
It is alright.  I'm delighted to provide for my children so that they can read.

One of the best parts of camping is the food.  A whole lot of cooking going on . . . and foods Mom doesn't usually prepare.  I love camping food, too!

This poor little girl had a rough week.  She was stung five times and, at one point, while running from the bees, stepped in the fire.  To add insult to injury, her chair broke and she had to sit with her bum on the dirt.
She still had fun.

A mother's job never ends.  Baby Boy and I did a lot of this:

In all, it was a great, great week.  We were rested, we had fun, we were together, together, together.
Every night we talked about our favorite things that had happened that day.  
Most of those favorite things involved the being together.

I LOVE my family.  I loved getting away from all the distractions so I could look at them and be with them and listen to them.  
It was good.

Last day, good friends.

He is going to be gone for a long, long time.  I can never regret any time taken to be all together.

One final, worst job of all:
securing the kayaks to the top of the Suburban.

YES!  Mission accomplished.
No children died in the packing of this vehicle.

When I got home, I had 16 phone messages and 84 emails.
Who says a mother doesn't work?
Good thing I had a healthy week of recharging so I could tackle it all again.

Friday, September 20, 2013

All About Isaac

As Puck in Midsummer Night's Dream
I think most teens think the world does (or, at least, should) revolve around them.
Unfortunately, in Isaac's case, he's mostly right (except for the literal earth revolving around him part).
You see, we are frantically scrambling to raise enough money for him to attend the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia.  We are talking to everyone, presenting to groups, having a spaghetti feed/performance, utilizing the internet and its many wonders and even manning a booth at a local street fair.

We have many incredible friends and generous sponsors, however we are still only about 1/4 of the way there.  An acquaintance recently took Isaac for the day and, together with other volunteers, created these videos.  I know there are more to come, but I thought these were so amazing, I had to share them with my readers.  

Go Team Isaac!  :)

To learn more or to donate, please visit

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Neighborhood Preparedness

For months and months, I have been wanting to have a meeting with my neighbors.  I read in the paper about a woman who had invited her neighbors over to talk about how they would self-sustain in an emergency situation--especially one where the public response team couldn't get to them right away.  I thought it was a great idea, but put in on the back burner because I couldn't offer a meeting place.

In the summer, I thought.

Summer came and it was a busy one.  I decided to have the meeting at the end of July.  But then the hornets came--in waves.  We couldn't have our meeting in the back yard or we would have been swarmed.  Toward the end of August, I finally decided to just do it!  There would always be an excuse because, truth be told, I was nervous about it.  (People often move to my part of my state to get away from nosy neighbors!)

One of the things I'd read along the way was a story that convinced me to grit my teeth and get over my nerves.  There was a terrible firestorm in 1993 that burned hundreds and hundreds of homes in Washington and California.  The fire department ordered quick evacuations of large neighborhoods.  Even with this, many people lost their lives.  One among them was an 84 year old woman.  Her son said, "If our neighbors had talked before the fire the way we talked after the fire, my mother never would have died.  They did not know she was there!"

We have many elderly on our street, some of whom don't drive.  Imagine how sick we would be if we were suddenly evacuated and we didn't know our neighbors needed help!

I made up fliers and Justin and I walked around inviting our neighbors, many of whom I'd never met, to a pot luck, get to know you type of first meeting.  To my surprise and great relief, everyone thought it was a great idea.  The dinner was supposed to begin at 6 PM.  It rained all afternoon.  I knelt by my bed and offered an earnest prayer that the rain would stop so that the gathering would be successful.

The rain stopped at 5:50.

We had many of our neighbors show up for the pot luck and we enjoyed good conversation and lots of getting to know you.  After the meal, I explained why I'd wanted to have the meeting.  Not only do we have many elderly, but I have a house full of young children.  If I was at the grocery store and there was a 5 minute evacuation order, I sure would like my neighbors to know my children could need help!  We explained 72 Hour Kits and I handed out pamphlets from the American Red Cross.  That was the end of what I had planned, but our neighbors wanted more.  They initiated a discussion about block watch, food storage, water storage, skills and resources. They even suggested we make it a quarterly event and that we rotate houses.  It was an encouraging meeting and I felt like it was a resounding success.

The rain started right back up as soon as I had the food cleared and the chairs put away.

The next day, a terrible lightening storm blew through.  It struck this tree which is mere feet away from the picnic table where food was served.  It was pretty freaky!

We were spared from a forest fire this time because of the heavy rains the day before, but it seemed like the Almighty was giving us a pat on the back for making the effort to be prepared--and giving us a stern reminder that preparation is necessary!

From the very beginning, I felt the Lord's hand, encouraging me to carry on.  It is a testimony to me that, just like Nephi of old, when Heavenly Father asks us to do something, he does not abandon us.  He will help us all along the way.

1 Nephi 3:7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I awill go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no bcommandments unto the children of men, save he shall cprepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Birthday Boys

We celebrated birthdays for these two last weekend.  It is fun to have birthday's for them because they are so excited about everything.

We were planning to go out after cake and presents, so Mom had Daniel well covered.  He still got chocolate cake on his clothes, but not as badly!  

This is one of the realities of special needs family members:  they don't blow out candles well.  Mom held up the candles so the rest of us could enjoy the cake without being totally grossed out.
I love how she is leaning back as far as she can.  Even off the cake, blowing out the candles can be grody.  :)

So many adoring fans.  This is just a portion of our family.  We love our "boys."

Cutie nieces and nephews.  They love Uncle Zach and Uncle Danny.

I think every gift was food.  They could not have been more thrilled!

After the cake and presents, we went to a club.  They had a couple of guys called the Dueling Pianos.  They take requests.  We tried to get there before the crowd so we could request Disney, Music Man and other favorites.  They were DELIGHTED with this.  
And you don't know delighted until you see these two being serenaded.

All of the over 21 family went to the bar together and danced.  There were a few great strangers who asked the boys to dance and their night got even better.

Danny and I dancing together.  My buddy.  We were singing Journey to each other.  They kid can't find one note from another, but he knows every song.  

I had mixed feelings about the night.  It was fun to dance with the boys--I got to dance with my dad, too, a thing I haven't done in a long time.  But, it was still a bar.  In most ways, I felt uncomfortable.  The songs we didn't request were not always wholesome.  I was mad at the musicians for singing those lyrics while my very innocent brothers were in the room.  (I do recognize that we brought them there and that the blame was technically on us.)  Next year, I think we'll ask Eliza to work up two dozen Disney songs and we can dance in the living room.  You know, 13th Article of Faith* and all.

I love these brothers of mine.  Counting my blessings.

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Zoo!

We live about five hours from the best zoo in the nation, at least in my opinion.  It is the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and if you are near it, you must visit.  They have done an excellent job of making large, happy enclosures for the animals that allow them to live comfortably, but also allow guests to view them.

Here we have elephants.  Not elephants in a small, dusty barnyard, but elephants in a lush, green environment.  I don't know why she is making that face.

Next up, Orangutans.  The primates are always entertaining.  I could sit for hours watching them.  Sometimes it seems like they are watching us, too.  What must they think of the gawking creatures on the other side of the glass?

Most of my shots from that day are worthless.  The glass was too shiny, the kid's backsides are not that interesting and none of my pictures can even kind of capture the animals in any great way. 

Pretty soon, I began to realize that the reflection was the picture.  
Here we are looking at penguins, but the picture captured us, together, at the zoo.
With some bald dude.

And my family, all lined up, watching God's creatures in a way that no other age of mankind has known.  Simply amazing!
(Well, the baby may not have been so impressed.)

It is a team effort to take such a large group of children to the zoo.  We went on a Wednesday, thinking the numbers would be down.  We were wrong.  Every daycare/preschool in Seattle was at the zoo that day.  It was crazy and my husband hates crazy.  But, he was a good sport and helped carry my little load around.  I am grateful for both of them.

I had some great philosophical mumbo jumbo worked out in my head earlier.  Now, there is nothing.  
So just go to the zoo, okay?  
And when you see the long-necked, freckled giraffes, think of me.