Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Jayden's First Big Game Hunt!

Jayden is a proud kid this Fall. Last year he turned twelve just a little too late to do any hunting, so he has looked forward to this all year. Carter took him up by Stanley. I can't give you much of a narrative, but I know they braved some seriously cold weather and did LOTS of hiking.

Carter said he was a great shot. In fact he shot both the deer and elk right through the heart. Here is the hole in the elk heart to prove it! Congratulations Jayden! I'm sure this is just the first of lots of neat memories with your dad.

Halloween 2010

We hope you all had a fun Halloween! We all love dressing up. We had mild weather for Halloween night, which is always lucky. And Carter and the kids trick-or-treated through the neighborhood with our cousins, the Breshears. So Fun!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


We were so blessed to be able to take a family trip this Fall - to Disneyland! We've been looking forward to this for a LONG time. And it was wonderful! The drive to California was just fine, which restored my faith in our family unity, since the DVD player didn't work. We were thankful to be able to stop and spend a night with my sister's family in Sparks, Nevada, and also get our first glimpse of her sweet new baby, Aiden. And our extremely shady Craigslist/blackmarket source for discount tickets didn't get us killed or kicked out of the park. (Whew! That's a good story, though)

It was pouring rain our first day at Disneyland. Luckily we'd seen the forecast and came prepared. It ended up being terrific because we started out riding a bunch of indoor rides, like Peter Pan and Toad's Wild Ride. Within a few hours the rain had stopped but the park was still relatively empty so we ran from ride to ride with hardly a wait.

We were so preoccupied with the rides we didn't put much effort into finding characters or standing in line for pictures. But a couple of them found their way to us. Jayden REALLY wanted to get a hug from Princess Jasmine, too, though he wouldn't admit it.

There is a new ride since we were there last, all about Buzz Lightyear, and we get to shoot lasers at targets as we move along. It keeps your score and it is unexpectedly fun. Although it would be hypothetically embarrassing to a dad to find out his son soundly beat his score. (Not mentioning any names...)

Jayden took Brennan under his wing at Disneyland and was kind enough to help haul him around when his little feet got tired. It was so nice not to worry about keeping a hand on my little guy every minute.

Captain Jayden Sparrow.

The Mad Bubba Hatter.

The Happy Hatters.

A nice guy in California Adventures offered to take a picture of our family for us, which would have been a great shot except that he cut poor Shaylie's face out of it. Maybe he thought we had too many kids.

I am in love with all things Disney. Disney movies, Disney music, Disney characters, especially Minny Mouse. I can't get enough. I was in Disney Heaven, but I wasn't the only one. The whole family had a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious time! I asked them to tell me their favorite rides and/or memories. Jayden and Makenna's favorite ride was Space Mountain. (Carter and I agree!) Since we were there in October they "Halloweenified" it with a cool and very scary fiery demon creature that chases you through space. Speaking of Halloween, one of my highlights was the way the whole place was decorated for the holiday, with giant pumpkins carved like Disney characters, and even costumes on a few of the characters as they walked around! Kyler, Shaylie, and even Brennan insisted their favorite ride was the Matterhorn. This surprised me since Brennan cried the first time he got off, and Shaylie would only agree to a second ride if I covered her eyes every time we came to the red-eyed abominable snow monster. But for some reason they couldn't get enough and rode that a dozen times more. Shaylie also loved Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. She called it "That Fast Choo Choo." The kids also mentioned the highlight of seeing the Darth Vader performance, driving their own cars with their own drivers licenses in Autotopia, and Soaring Over California. One of my favorite parts of the day was the Aladin stage performance. The family kindly humored me because I really wanted to see it, but afterward they all agreed it was phenomenal! And I've never laughed so hard as when I watched my wobbly-kneed and scared spitless family make their way out of the Tower of Terror! Holy Cow!! Carter mentioned the 4-D Bug's Life Show, which was also a hoot. But we left there feeling like we needed to check our britches for bugs! And how could I not mention the classics - Pirates of the Caribbean, It's a Small World, Indiana Jones, the Finding Nemo Submarine Ride...Oh! I love Disneyland. When can we go back??

I LOVE this picture! This is how you know you've had all the fun you can stand!

Next we spent a relaxing day playing at Huntington Beach. It was pretty windy, but not enough to discourage the kids from having some fun in the waves. There is a cool pier we walked along, and there was a cute little craft fair to check out.

Kenna found a real, live clam!

The last day of our California Adventure we spent at Sea World. There is nothing like Shamu!

And Sharks...

And incredible shows!

The first time we watched Shamu the kids were so excited to sit right smack in the "Splash Zone." They learned that they weren't bluffing, and that evening when we watched the night-time rock 'n roll Shamu Performance they chose to sit at the top of the stadium! There was also a water rapids ride which involved more water than we expected. I thought Carter was so sweet and generous to stay behind with Brennan, who was too short to ride. But two hours later when he smugly grinned as we were still dripping and shivering, I decided (and I'm quoting Carter here) "I'm not as dumb as I look." If you are heading there anytime soon, my suggestion is that unless it's August, skip Shipwreck Rapids!

One funny moment came early on in the day at Sea World while we sat admiring Shaylie's favorite - the flamingos. I have to preface this by explaining that poor Brennan was terrified of the sights and sounds surrounding Scary Space Mountain, and he spent a decent amount of time waiting out there while we all took turns riding it repeatedly. I explained to him that there was not a real monster in there, it is just "remote control," like the dancing children in Small World or the pretend pirates on the boat ride. That was a concept he could understand and it seemed to comfort him a little. After Brennan thoughtfully watched the flamingos a while he asked me, "Mom? Are these animals all remote control?" Hee, Hee!

I took almost two hundred pictures on this trip, and I've had a hard time not including them all in this blog post. Sorry if it is out of control long. But I couldn't end without the most hilarious ones of all. Remember Splash Mountain? Happy little log ride? Cute story- scenes of Briar Rabbit bunnies and animals? BIG drop? Apparently Carter had forgotten about the drop...

Let's see that a little closer, shall we??

Sorry to tease you, Carter, I couldn't resist. We think you are terrific! Thank you so much for taking us all on this wonderful trip!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Election Prep 101

The more experiences I have in life, the more grateful I am for the tremendous blessing of living in this great country. The privilege of voting to influence the leadership and policies of our nation is something most of the world can only dream of. I can understand the cynicism that causes some people to abstain from voting, when they see yahoos doing dumb things in office and they feel that their vote really doesn't make much difference. But I would be ashamed of myself to join that "silent majority" of good men who stand by and do nothing while evil takes root. I can't change the world, but I can do something. This week that little something is to vote.

But I have often been frustrated as I try to be an informed voter and do a good job of researching the candidates. It doesn't always feel like I can find unbiased, truthful information. I have spoken recently with a couple people who expressed these same feelings, so I want to share a few websites that I found really helpful. If you are still working on solidifying your opinions about candidates I encourage you to take a look at some of these. This website has a bunch of great info, but my favorite was an awesome tool called Vote Easy. It allows you to answer questions on twelve basic topics, and then it shows you which of your local candidates' views are similar or different from yours. Snazzy! It also did a really good job of giving a breakdown of those confusing ballot measures, what they mean in plain English, along with some argument statements for and against each one. This one is more national and not specific to Idaho, but it had a Truth-o-meter which was really fun to read. It researches comments by leading politicians and measures them with the truth-o-meter, giving lots of them a "pants on fire" rating. It also has a running campaign promises kept/broken list. Kind of fun. This one gives nice general info if you need to figure out your voting district, etc. And it also has links to the official website for each candidate. I don't find these as helpful because anyone can make themselves look great on their own website, but is is nice to be able to read their own platform statements.

Best one of all! They do a local voter guide which allows you to compare the candidates side-by-side as they answer questions on all the pertinent issues. You can then create your own personal ballot, marking your preferences for each office. I print this out and take it with me sometimes.

If you subscribe to the paper, there are ongoing articles about issues, debates, candidates, and stuff. It is hard to find the time to pour over everything, though, and that's why I like the websites that condense it for me and lay them out apples to apples. I normally ignore the Opinions page and try to focus on facts.

Can you believe I made it through all that without telling you who to vote for?! I hope everyone will take the election seriously, research the candidates, and get out there and vote. And if you happen to be interested in my opinion, just ask - you know I'll tell you.*smile*

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Carter's New Hobby - Dumpster Diving

Here is my handsome husband in his slightly rumpled church suit. Kind of a funny story... Jayden is thankful it has a happy ending.

Getting ready for our big Disneyland trip our family held a garage sale to earn some extra money. We were able to sell most of the stuff, but there are always the odds and ends left over which need to be packaged up and sent to D.I. The kids and I took on that job one afternoon. As we were bagging and boxing, Jayden came across Carter's good suitcoat mixed in with D.I. clothes. I said, "Whoa! What's that doing out here? Take it into the house right away!"

Now fast forward a couple days... We were getting dressed for my nephew's baby blessing and Carter asked me, "Have you seen my suitcoat? I can't find it." I gasped. All the blood ran out of Jayden's face and he looked like he'd seen a ghost. I said, "Jayden, please tell me you brought that coat back into the house and didn't bag it up." His response, "Ummmm." Ironically, that very morning we had delivered the donation to D.I. When I called over to explain what happened and ask if there was some way to retrieve the suit, the guy just chuckled and said, "I guess you could look in the clothes bin, if you want to..." His tone clearly indicated that there was no chance. Well, after the blessing Carter booked it over to D.I. He said they showed him where the clothes go, and he proceeded to climb down into a gigantic dumpster as big as our bedroom and waist-deep with clothes. When he emerged waving his suitcoat, the employees came running and cheering. They never expected him to find it. He claims, "Where there's a will, there's a way." I claim he lives under a lucky star. He catches planes he should have missed, he finds things he should have lost, and he NEVER gets the speeding ticket. Ah, well. As for the suitcoat, it was due for a dry cleaning anyway.

Shaylie's Birthday

Shaylie turned five this summer and we celebrated by taking her and her cute cousin Hailey for a family adventure at PoJo's. We all had so much fun and I found lots of great photo opps, so I decided to make a slideshow. We love you Shaylie!

My New Washing Machine

This spring my good ol' washing machine finally croaked. We had been expecting this for a while so we had budgeted a chunk of money to buy a new one. I did a lot of research on prices, features, brands, stores, etc. Then one day I happened to notice something for sale on Craigslist that I had been wanting for a long time...something that we couldn't afford. A swimming pool. So I made a plan. I continued to look around on Craigslist and found a used washing machine for half the price we had set aside. Then I used the remainder which was just enough to buy the pool. Sometimes you have to get creative. But I was so excited. I can just picture years of summertime memories and fun centered around this pool. I have to admit that it required a lot of work and some more expense to get the silly thing all set up. We only had two weeks of hot weather left to enjoy the pool this year, but that's okay. We are already dreaming about next summer. And just look at the happy faces on my family. That's better than a fancy washing machine any day!

New Cousins!

We love our cousins!!!

My kids are lucky to have a whole bunch of the best cousins in the world, from both sides of the family. And in the last year they have been joined by three new cuties.

This summer we were so happy to get to spend a few days with Camille and get to know her new baby. They were visiting from Dubai. This is little Evelyn.

She is such a sweet, adorable little girl.

Brennan couldn't get enough of her, and asked to hold her every chance he got. Evelyn seemed entertained by the craziness of all the kids all around her, and she was a good sport. We look forward to their next visit.

Next came little Logan. These are newborn pictures - he's already a whole bunch bigger than this now, and so cute!

And my sister Amy had her fourth baby (first boy) last month. Last week they drove up to Idaho to bless him. We were thankful to be able to be a part of it! This is Aiden.

I love that little half-smile. And below are Amy and Grandma, too.