Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jogging your heart out

I'm just about to wrap up my involvement with something that has consumed me since July--our elementary school's big annual fundraiser. This is the second year that I have been highly involved in helping put this event on. Alex brought home his Junior High fundraiser stuff the other day and I said that I wasn't planning on buying any thing from him. I got the "all you care about is the jog-a-thon!" from Alex. I honestly responded, "Yes, I guess you are right. I can only focus on one school right now." I've been involved in everything from designing the posters, to getting sponsorships from local and corporate companies, buying loads of prizes for the kids, designing water bottles and "thank you" postcards, etc... We have had a great little committee that has volunteered tirelessly for the school.

The physical therapy clinic that Birch works for is one of our top sponsors. Birch was able to come with two of his assistants to lead the kids in some warm up exercises before they started there twenty minutes of jogging.
After the warm up exercises many parents let off a bunch of balloons while the kids were lead by a wonderful teacher who ran holding a torch. I literally had to wipe away some tears as I saw this site. I think it was a combo of having put in SO many hours to this very minute and then being united together in a good cause.
There goes Tyler---top runner for the school.
Alysee loved being apart of the jog-a-thon.
We had all sorts of mascots from around the community to cheer on the kids. Nate is such an amazing mini-runner.

Tomorrow we will wrap up the event with a prize assembly and then the "thank you" cards need to be written. I certainly have a greater appreciation for the PTA (somehow I got wrapped into being co-vice president this year) and for the community in pulling together to help put kids first!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dripping with OSU pride

One of Tyler's special presents that Birch had arranged was for him and Alex to get to go to an OSU vs. Huskies football game in Seattle the day after Tyler's birthday. I'm not sure who was the most excited to go to the game--the daddy or the boys. The whole idea ended up growing with all of Birch's brothers going and one brother-in-law and each of their oldest sons.
They all met at a favorite Mexican restaurant in Seattle and filled up their tummies with these gigantic burritos.
Then they parked their cars at a mall and loaded on the city bus to ride to the stadium.

It was a crazy game, which went into double overtime. Alex loved watching the marching band and was wrapped up in every minute of the game. Tyler enjoyed watching the game and just being part of the whole event. Birch was in heaven being with his brothers and watching such a close game.
They stayed the night in Seattle at Birch's brother's wife's grandparents' house (did you get that?). They left early in the morning on Sunday to make it back in time for church. It certainly was a memorable game (34-35 OSU lost in the second overtime)!

Birch's brother made this fun video about the whole day together:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tyler, man of the house

Hard to believe this kid is already ten years old! Tyler is a really sweet boy. He is excelling in school and is so well-liked among all the school. I was at the school recently for an assembly and his name was being called for being on school patrol the kids went CRAZY cheering him on like he was an in-house celebrity. Sure made this momma proud! Tyler was pretty excited about his gifts this year. His favorite present was a custom-built skateboard from a local skate shop. Boy, was that an experience making a "transaction" with the skate shop owner. I was wishing that one of my little brothers was with me to translate all the cool lingo he was saying. After the store owner would say something I had to come back with something like, "So what you are saying is this deck is really 80's and that is awesome?" Needless to say it was quite an experience. Tyler is such a caring person! He loves babies and is the first to ask to hold his little cousin Mila. Tyler and Chloe have a special bond that I hope stays strong forever. Love this kid!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Party On

While Alysee and I were partyin' it up in Utah, Birch and the rest of the kids went to Spokane for the weekend to celebrate...
cool Uncle Kelly's 30th birthday. They filled their days with trips to the park, delicious food, and watching General Conference together. Alex was wishing this was a real motorcycle. Chloe was all over having new toys to play with. Coop loves being around his cousins and Grannie. I hear that the party action went late into the night...each night. Daddy came home one tired boy!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

8 Year Old Tradition Lives Strong

Many moons ago Birch's family started the tradition of taking their child who turns eight years old to General Conference in Salt Lake City. We have carried on this tradition with our kids. This time I was the lucky mom that got to accompany Alysee to conference. Outside of a little help from my sister, Emily, Birch was able take most of the time off of work and spend it with the kids. Birch actually took the kids to Spokane for most of the time we were gone.

Prior to leaving I had a million and two things that I needed to complete. I was feeling a little (way) stressed and had a mouth full of cankers (my lot in life). I was REALLY nervous about driving to the SeaTac airport and then all the big city driving in SLC. Gratefully a good friend lent me her GPS---a total lifesaver. I honestly don't know how I would have survived without it.

Wednesday Late Afternoon
Alysee ready to board the plane. This was her third airplane trip but she really had few memories of her other two trips. We arrived into SLC late at night and picked up our rental car and drove to my brother Matt and Jessica's house.

Thursday morning we woke up early and ready to conquer the day. After a delicious breakfast Alysee and I hopped in our midnight blue Malibu car and programed the GPS for "This is the Place" park. What a cool attraction this was! Alysee and I boarded the train that took us around to our first village stop. Alysee is at a Navajo hogan. Then off to pan gold...Alysee got a little frustrated with her whole two minutes of searching for gold and not finding any. Not sure she would be cut out for gold panning if she were a pioneer woman. Finally (after two minutes) she found several pieces. We then walked to the Banker and traded in several of her gold pieces for two piece of taffy. Outside of the flies that would not seem to leave Alysee alone, she enjoyed her pony ride. Then we walked to an old time bed and breakfast and Alysee made an Indian arrow necklace and decorated a little fabric pouch. The leather maker was next in line for a visit. Alysee pounded some metal stamps into a piece of leather and then used a leather punch to make a necklace. Alysee and the ZCMI wagon The CRAZY barber, the banker, and the leather maker all serenaded Alysee by singing "Happy Birthday." Ahh...a picture of me in front of one of the first Relief Society buildings. Alysee pretending to go to school in the old red school house. Our final stop was to take a picture in front of the "This is the place" monument. I really am looking forward to bringing back the rest of the kids to this educational and really fun park. Next we headed across the street to meet Jessica, Sofi, and Lizzie at the Hogal Zoo. Alysee loved spending the morning with two of her favorite things...Sofi and the gorillas. I'd have to say that taking only one child to the zoo (or anywhere) is so much more relaxing than taking six. We said "goodbye" to Jessica and the girls and then programed the GPS for a surprise stop at... GREAT CLIPS! Alysee has been begging me to get her hair cut for years. I had a hard time the first time we cut her hair several years ago but I knew it was something that she really, really wanted. I thought what better way to remember this special trip than to do something you have always wanted to do. Her hair turned out super cute! After Alysee's hair cut we headed to the mall for an exhausting couple of hours to try and find a new dress for her to wear to conference. We topped the night off with going to the Mayan Restaurant in the Jordan Commons. It's such a cool restaurant with live divers that do a diving show while you are eating your Mexican food. Those that have gone in our family have all LOVED it! Next stop was my sister Leah's house in Mapleton, UT. We got there just in time to tuck our tired bodies in bed.


Friday morning we enjoyed taking the morning a little bit slower and saw Isaac and Lucy off to school. We then got ready for the day and headed to find a good spot to take a little photo shoot of Alysee with her new hair du.
So full of energy!
Love this girl! Doesn't she look so cute with her haircut??!! Alysee - 8 years old
After we picked up the kids from school we went to BYU for some bowling.
Friday night Uncle Geoff and the kids looked for black widow spiders, ate pizza, and watched a movie WHILE...
Leah and I feelin' the love! I never knew it was possible to be infatuated with church music.

Saturday morning Alysee and I woke up and while I loaded the car Alysee and her cousins made a delicious weed salad. Alysee loved every minute with her cousins. Then we were off for the BIG surprise of the weekend. A planned stop to IKEA was how I unveiled the surprise visit from Alysee's best friend Hannah that had moved to Pocatello, ID two years ago. Hannah's mom and I met up in the office department at IKEA. I asked Alysee to go check out an office chair for me that was right next to Hannah. When Alysee saw Hannah they immediately ran into each others arms and embraced in the biggest, tightest hug I have ever seen. We spent the rest of the day together and these girls never stopped talking (a million miles a minute). After IKEA we drove to Fat Cats arcade/bowling alley. The girls had fun running around together and collecting tickets for all the silly little prizes they earned at the end. Then we went to a park and ate lunch together. Next stop was my Grandma's condo to unpack our stuff and then head to the pool. The girls swam for a little bit and then we were off to watch a movie at the movie theater. Even though it was 10:00 pm by the time we got back from the movie we didn't stop. My Grandma who was actually out of the country on a cruise had made arrangements for Alysee and I to go on a Temple Square carriage ride. What a treat!!! We all loved it (even though it may appear that I was sleeping). These were two tired girls! They snuggled up to each other and enjoyed seeing all the lights on Temple Square. The girls were delighted to have a sleepover at Grandma's condo (especially since we do not normally approve of sleepovers). Our view from the carriage ride.

Sunday morning we excitedly got ready for the whole reason we were taking this wonderful trip together...general conference. We were so lucky to get great tickets to the Sunday morning session. I'll never forget this time together. I had come prepared with a little scrapbook, pictures of our trip thus far, and stickers for Alysee to work on while she was taking notes of the talks. I was totally impressed with the wonderful notes that Alysee took while she was listening. The beauty queen outside the conference center. Mommy/Daughter Anita and Hannah Ralphs -- boy do Alysee and I miss these two ladies After the morning session of conference we hopped in the car and drove over to Matt and Jessica's house for a tasty lunch and the afternoon session of conference. Alysee and I got to meet our newest niece, Isla. My little sister Laura gave birth to her three weeks ago so she was still such a tiny ball of love. My Utah family - Matt, me, Luke, Laura (um, does she look like she had a baby three weeks earlier?), and Leah (who is five months prego--crazy I know). Sofi, Alysee, Lizzie, Uncle Geoff, Lucy, and Isaac I could just eat up this little girl! Matt and Jessica recently had the privilege of adding to their family through adopting sweet Lizzie Jane. She is growing so fast and I'm so glad that I have gotten to snuggle with her twice since her birth.

Monday morning we packed up our stuff from Grandma's condo and plugged in one last address in our GPS--Build-a-Bear. My Grandma had sent Alysee some money to make a special purchase while she was on her trip. Though we have never been to Build-a-Bear I knew Alysee would love it. It took Alysee a while to pick out her bear "skin." After she decided which bear she wanted we went through a series of touching (gag me) procedures of kissing the bears heart, rubbing your heart, filling the body with warm fuzzy love stuffing, etc... Alysee ate up every minute! Somehow I got totally suckered into adding a heart that beats AND an outfit. I was planning on being to strong and taking home a naked bear. "Coconut" was just the perfect companion for Alysee on our flight home.

The GPS took us safely to the SLC airport and then again home from SeaTac. I sure felt like queen of the road having done such big-girl things all by myself. The whole flight home Alysee finished gluing in pictures from the trip (we made another stop to Walmart's Photo Center in SLC) and writing about each thing we did so when we arrived home she was able to share about each day using her homemade scrapbook. I'd have to say that was the best ideas I had while on the trip.
As you can tell we PACKED each day full of adventures. There is not one thing that we didn't do that was on our list. We were able to spend quality time with family and best friends, historical sites, feel the spirit while at conference, and most of all make wonderful memories together! I'm not sure that I can hold out for Chloe to turn 8 years old for my next Mother/Daughter trip!