Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

More from Spud-ville

Next time we take a trip
I will have a rule:

No hurrying to the next place.

The morning after our Yellowstone adventure we got up early and cleaned the cabin stem to stern.  The dryer at the cabin (that may have been used by Methuselah) pooped out, so while the girls and I took a stroll down the lane by the cabin with Heidi and her family, my menfolk went to the laundromat and back to John's Sack's cabin.

The Laundry Shed, one of the many wonders in Idaho

I miss Heidi, she is a soul sister, and home isn't the same without her there. She and I used to walk every day around our neighborhood, and there was something so familiar and peaceful about walking along beside her now, the cool air on my face, and her sweet voice in my ears.

As we walked we stumbled upon a fort on the edge of the woods that was the work of a future rocket scientist or his dad.  It was cool and gruntingly manly.  The kids should have spent at least a day playing in it, but alas, it was time to go.  Guy's sister would be waiting with dinner for us on the other side of the state.

Time to say goodbye.

I cried.  I always do when I leave Heidi.  Plus it was just plain wrong for the kids not to sprinkle a little bit of their magic and maybe tiny particles of their DNA in the same woods where their daddy played as a boy.  I picture them now, playing the way woods were meant to be played in (when schedules and hurrying are only grown-up concerns), and there running into a little dimple-cheeked, red-headed boy with a stripped 70's shirt and a stick in his hand.  They would have played together all afternoon.

My buddy, Eli.

The sign hung above the cabin door since the beginning of time.

As we headed for Boise, the kids called “Bye bye cabin!” and Guy and I felt so sad that we hadn't stayed there longer.  We needed several more days there to really find that peaceful, happy place that we all have inside of us somewhere, and get reacquainted with it.


So off we went to Kathy's in Boise.

The nice thing is that once we got there, we were swept in to Kathi and Jim’s happy arms and welcomed with some slammin’ good homemade burgers and other Idahoan delicacies.  Like watermelon.  Forgotten were the sirens that called from the roadside, though someday I will go back to see Bear World, I swear.  Guy’s Aunt Mada was there waiting, as was his niece Renee and her little family, and the evening sun went down unnoticed as we visited away.

When asked, the big boys had two favorite times on our trip, and this was one.  While Guy and I took the Littles and Middles to the park with Kathi and Renee, Jim took the big boys riding in his charger and on the back of his motorcycle - and the main event- to a firing range where they tried out riffles and pistols with some pretty good kick.  They loved it.  Dude-ville all the way.  


(Now calm down!  These are legal in Idaho.  Also, please note the awesome baby fingerprint on the lens that made a smokey ambiance in about 20 of my pictures.  Sheesh.)

Aunt Mada, otherwise known as "the Goodie Grandma" for her massive table of goodies that is always well stocked, just for little visitors!

This was Jonah's compromise: he would be in the picture, but he would NOT let us see him.  Closing your eyes makes you invisible, you know!

Amaya and Natalie.
Um, so here's Guy's sister's daughter's daughter, and Guy's daughter.
Second cousins, or first cousins once removed?
Who cares.  They're cute.


Our next and last stop (She's almost done!  Hurray! )
 was a hop, skip and a jump away,
but that will wait just one more day! be continued in one last post, or two, if I get lazy.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Clouds and Silver Linings

I contemplated not finishing the posts of our trip or just doing a "summing up" post, because I'm falling a bit behind.  Then I thought about how forgetful I am, and how I can't remember much more than a few glimpses of our trip 3 years ago, and how this blog is for my kids and our family history, and I concluded that I must torture you a wee bit more and finish out this travelogue (if you had anything better to do you'd be doing it anyway and not sitting here reading this blather, right?).

Near the cabin Guy's grandfather built is a spring where giant fish are supposed to gather.  It was a place Guy had always gone as a child on summer visits to the cabin and he has fond memories of feeding dozens of mammoth fish from the bridge.  We set out to recreate that memory for our kids, but it was pouring rain on our heads, the fish we hiding, and everyone was getting distinctly crabby.  Words spoken were taking on sharp edges and expressions were being tossed about that could put an eye out.  We noticed a little cabin behind the spring, and because it would get us out of the rain, we headed for it, dragging our grumpies along with us like a useless bag of rocks.

I think when I look back at this trip this day will stand out in my mind as the most inspiring time, and a moment that helped turn the day around.  First you need to know about this little cabin.  The cabin's builder was John Sacks, a little man of only 4 feet 11 inches, but in 3 years he built a beautiful, well appointed cabin.  It sits on the edge of a giant spring that bubbles 120 million of gallons of fresh water a day into a pristine pool just below.  He made a waterwheel that powered the water pump and electricity for the cabin, which is in itself impressive.  But the thing that impressed me most was that, with only hand tools and local materials, he lined the walls of the cabin with lovely, hand smoothed panels, and created inlaid furniture and beautiful frames, all simple but very handsome.  The little ceiling fixtures were fitted with decorative hand cut moldings and embellished with contrasting colors of wood in a Frank-Lloyd-Wright meets Charles-Ingalls sort of way.  The wood of the floor was set in intricate patterns, and tiny diamonds in star-burst designs turned small tabletops into works of art.  Every corner of the cabin was considered for its utility without neglect of aesthetics.  Both a wall and the picture frame hanging on that wall seemed to take on a relationship.  In fact, everything in the cabin, and even its placement over the spring, was designed to be enjoyed for the inherent beauty that was already there, either in the scenery all around or the materials themselves.

It made me want to approach my days differently; to invite the objects I use each day to fill more than the measure of their function, but to bring joy in their use.  To make more effort.  Period.

A close up of the craftsmanship.

Something else happened right around this same time.  As I mentioned we were getting a bit crabby, and everyone was soaked.  When we got back to the cars we were faced with a choice; go back to the cabin and spend the day dry but indoors, missing out on our plans to see Yellowstone National Park, or plug along in the rain, come what may.  Guy was open to a change of plans, for which I was proud of him.  He and I both can have a hard time switching gears mid-anything, so his openness was welcome.  But somehow, inspired I think, by that magical little cabin, and knowing that this was our last day in the area and our only chance this trip to see Yellowstone, we went for it, rain be darned! 

First, we stopped by the cabin to get outfitted better for the rain.  Apparently there are more effective forms of rain protection than the trash-bag rain-slickers I had fashioned for the kids.  We found several raincoats in a back closet in the cabin, one even being Guy’s grandfather’s.  We ate.  Food always helps.  Then we headed back out with a goal to make the best of the day.  This is another thing that Guy and I both struggle with.  Once things get crabby it sometimes takes us a good night's sleep to turn things around.  But we decided to exert a lot of self control over our attitudes,

 and, lo and behold...

it stopped raining.  Now, I am not saying that our sunnier dispositions changed the weather, or that a Divine Creator with a whole cosmos to run took the time to worry about our saturated situation with a discontinued deluge, but we spent the rest of the day dry and warm.  We enjoyed the mud pots, geysers, springs and steam vents.  We didn't even let that farty old egg smell of sulfur vents get us down, though I admit that souvenir shopping with Tessa caused my very soul to shrivel a little (oh, the agony of an 8 year old with too many choices!).  Old Faithful was true to his name, and at 5:36 we enjoyed a spectacular show as the geyser erupted.  We toured the rustic, old hotel, and it made us want to stay in it someday.  Dangit, we had fun, despite our earlier plans to have epic tantrums and ruin the day.

We dragged in, happy and tired, at 10pm, sleeping kids with lolling heads carried one by one into the cabin.
Happy and tired.
What a great combination.

(Just a few more days!  To be continued....)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ya gotta have friends

... continued
After visiting mom's grave we got "out of the rain" and spent the evening at the Green Canyon Hot Springs, an ancient (circa 1950’s) indoor swimming pool fed by a natural hot spring.  

Let me take you there: It's cool and drizzly out, and rather perplexing for August.  You step into a doorway and are met with a blast of warm, wet air and the echoed voices of children.  A musty, woody odor hits, smelling like a run through the sprinklers.  A teenager behind the snack counter points down the narrow hallway to his right.  There, a cutout window in the hall opens to a tiny room hung with mesh bags on old wooden hangers.  The woman behind the counter moves and speaks like she works in a subway booth; she takes your money and hands you one of the bags.  You follow the cement corridor around to the ladies (or men’s, for my two male readers) changing room.  The wooden dressing stalls have just a skimpy curtain to change behind.  The wooden stalls are worn from decades of use, and random cement patches make a grey patchwork quilt of the uneven floor.  A dozen layers of peeling paint reveal as many colors as the decades in which they were painted.  You step into the indoor pool area that feels like one of those old Turkish bath houses you see in National Geographic, and lower yourself into water that is a cozy 90 degrees.  An outside pool fed directly by the hot spring is a scorching 110 at least.  Next to it is a freezing cold dipping pool fed by mountain runoff. 

Ultra-modest Ellie would have none of the changing stalls.  She fussed and hid and complained, certain that someone was lurking to sneak a peak at her, and finally found a hiding place to change into her suit.  We eased into the bath like pool spent the afternoon bobbing about and watching the babies play on the long steps.  Heidi’s baby, Lincoln, is just one day younger than Natalie, but far more agile and balanced.  The menfolk headed out to the hot pool and the cold dip. 

I did not. 

Guy did.  He is crazy that way.  It reminds him of his mission in Finland where they sat in a 200 degree sauna (SOW-na, if you care to say it properly.  It is a Finnish word, after all) and then rolled in the snow.  Preferably naked (you heard me). He likes that flesh-searing-heat followed by toe-curling-cold experience.  I have given birth, so I don’t need any more excitement for this lifetime. 

As I hung out with Heidi, the days that have accumulated between us melted away until I forgot that I don’t get to see her whenever I want.  I realized that we were just sitting there in silence, side by side, watching the babies play. 

“Oh, my goodness! Look at me just acting like we get to see each other all the time!” I blurted, “Quick!  Tell me everything!”  She laughed.  

But then I made her tell me everything. 

 It dawned on me how much I have missed, and how much I miss her. They say that the friendships you make are for a season, a reason, or a lifetime.  Heidi is definitely a lifer in my book.  I met her just after the terrible loss of her first baby boy, Andrew, whose little body just couldn't support life.  We have walked together, painted together, cleaned and cried and worked together.  We served in church as the leadership in the young women's organization, and have studied Parenting with Love and Logic together as well.  I was at her second baby's birth, and because our younger kiddos are paired in age, we have booked a lot of hours nursing together.  There is very little that we have not shared.

Now we also share distance.

It is so hard when friends leave us.  I have lost contact with many friends over the years, but there are a precious few that I have held on to.  Even though my friendship with Heidi started with a "reason", it has definitely grown into one that I believe will last beyond this lifetime. 

 I was reading in the New Testament today about Jonathan and David, and the friendship they had that was so close, "the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (1 Samuel 18:1).  One of my greatest blessings in this life has been to have such a friend, a few, actually.  I think that God, in his wisdom, gave us friendship, "bosom friends", as my dear friend Jackie says, or, - as Ellen calls them- "soul buddies", because He loves us.  He loves us and He knew this earth-walk would be hard, so He gave us kindred spirits to lighten the journey.  I am so grateful to live in an age where the voice or even the face of a dear friend can cross hundreds of miles, and be right there.

What an amazing time in the history of the world to be alive.

Ethan, hiding behind his mesh bag.

Jonah won't let me wash his hair at home 
and is freaked out by laying down in the bath. 
 Go figure.

Eli and Jonah-boy, all swum out. 

Tessa models the latest in travel wear and wet hair.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Next Rest Stop 76 Miles

Jonah in the van, 
somewhere in the middle of Idaho:

“Mama, gotta’ go potty.  
Peepee and poop.”

(Long pause)

“Mama, I just needed to fahwt,
 and now I need just pee.”


Wanna hear something cool?  My blog has had 100,086 views.
 Wowzers.  I mean, its seriously cool, but you may wanna get a hobby or something.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tending Stardust

The door knob on the shed of the cabin property
built by Guy's grandfather Darwin Rider Holman

August 4th-7th

On Monday we made tracks north for Mack’s Inn, Idaho, to the cabin Guy’s grandfather built back in 1965.  We arrived well after dark, but squeezed in a Nerf-gun war and listening to Guy read from his grandpa’s life history before bed.  The kids had a ball running around in the cabin, and though that usually makes me nuts, I didn’t mind because for the first time in recorded history, ALL OF MY CHILDREN WERE PLAYING TOGETHER.  Well, Natalie was happy to watch, but seriously, I wanted to call CNN or Guinness or somebody.  I think the magic here was that Ellie didn’t like being hit by the darts, so she played a very good Sweden, collecting and returning darts to whomever needed them.  Jonah’s laughter was like bubbles, and Ethan and Adam played very nicely for the big brutes that they are.

Window art - Artist Unknown

Next day we woke to rain, and the cabin felt cozy and warm.  We got settled and then drove back to Rexburg to have lunch with dear friends Heidi and Mike.  We drove then, to the tiny rural cemetery where my mother is buried beside her grandfather in his family plot.  I have only been there three times, including the day she was buried, and all three (though two have been in summer) were blustery and cold. 

Mom's grave

Now, here I must tangent a bit.  Last week I was watching a documentary about the formation of the universe, and it poetically spoke of how every atom in each of us was once a part of a star.  That we are all made of stardust.  I thought about those words as I left flowers from my dad on mom’s grave.  About how strange it is that we tend and fuss over tiny parcels of land with headstones and grass and flowers, when the person, the actual soul that we loved and lost, is no longer anywhere near.  Just the specks of stardust that they once occupied remain tucked away in the earth; dust to dust, literally.  Their spirit, their soul, the part of them we most miss, is then perhaps mingled with the stars, or wherever it is that spirits go.  Still, even knowing she wasn’t there, it felt strange to leave, to get into the car and drive away from that little hill under the heavy clouded sky, leaving her stardust behind.

Sure do miss her.

Storm clouds hide the Grand Tetons

Our scoreboard keeping track of animal sightings

We shared our apples with the horses in the next field.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cookies and Chlorine

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Green fields that are straddled by giant metal irrigation systems looking like giant insects to me, blast by on either side, and rolling brush extends to the grey horizon.  We have been gone a whole week and the van has become our little rolling world.  It feels like we have been gone months.  

We loved our visit with Melissa and Kevin and their family.  Kevin said that seeing Guy and I sitting in their living room was natural, "just as it should be".  Our visit was painfully short, but in one day we packed in a stop at the Provo Farmers Market, a barbeque and a trip to a giant rec center that the kids loved. 

We stopped by to see Guy’s nephew, Jack, and his spouse Brian, to sample their amazing Macaron cookies (no, not Macarooooon, silly, Macaron, like in ‘gone’, which they were in only a few minutes). They were crisp on the outside, with a thin shell that collapsed into a chewy soft but delicate center when you bit in, then swept you away with delicious cream filling.  Brian is the baker extraordinaire, and Jack does the awesome photography and artwork to promote the business.  Please, if you live in Provo, Utah, go see them on Saturdays and buy some.  These guys deserve to have their business soar!

Oh, my, I started talking about food there and got completely distracted.  Food does that to me.

Oh, yes, the rec center.  It is a really big swimming/waterslide place with a lazy river and nice warm water.  The boys even talked me into going down the scary slide and jumping off of the rock cliff, which I hated, but when Ethan asked if I was going, I couldn't say no.  I want him to remember his mama as fearless.  No, not fearless, because there are a lot of things I am afraid of.  I guess Brave is the word, because you can be afraid and brave at the same time.  I stepped out on the ledge and just kept going because I hate the feeling of pending doom.  I stepped off the edge and felt like I was dying for about 3 seconds, and then hit the water.  Did I mention I hated it?  Ethan will never know.

Clockwise from top left: Ethan, Ellie, Adam, Adam and me, The Pink Blur of Fear.

As we made our way about town, we found ourselves in the old neighborhood where Guy and I started out our two decades of marital bliss.  Though the house has changed, the memories are clear as ever.  We lived in the unheated basement apartment, and kept each other warm through our first winter together (now we have a whole bunch of sweaty kids to heat up our place!).

The next day we went to church with Melissa’s family and then after lunch we cried out our goodbyes.  I hate leaving Melissa.  It rips out a chunk of my heart and rolls over it with the car.  Go out in the driveway, Melissa, and scrape up my heart, please.

Next we headed North to visit Guy’s cousin Katie and Aunt Penny.  I have to stop here for a moment and say how much I like them.  Penny claims to be somewhere in her seventies, but is so cheerful and active and spunky, I call her 65 just to giver her a senior discount.  Katie is kind and sweet, and we spent an evening telling stories and laughing.  We spent that night with Aunt Penny, and in the morning after a tour of her impossibly beautiful gardens and Uncle Wayne's art and woodworking studios (yes, two studios) and a breakfast of fresh fruit (from their trees) and homemade jam on toast (from, you guessed it, their berries) we hit the road for Rexburg, Idaho.

 There my sweet Aunt June waited with a meal all ready, courtesy of Uncle David.  My Aunt gave me a quick look at all of the genealogy I will be inheriting.  I hope that woman lives a long, long time and gets most of it all done!  It was an entire room-full. She showed me pictures of ancestors and rattled off their names like they were old friends.  She is a gold mine of connection to the past; my past.  Now that my mom is gone, she is the only connection left. 

This was my view for most of the 2000 plus miles.  The glorious sky, from dash-board to rear-view mirror, and my silly elevated foot.  Not to worry, we stopped every two hours to walk around and keep my blood pumping.


More mad-capped mayhem (or maybe just a little bit of car sickness) to come.
To be continued...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tripping Out

We rolled into the driveway a few hours ago, after traveling 2,505 miles on what we hoped would be a grand, family-memory-making road trip.  I have tried to distill our trip here on the written page in a way that will hold onto those hard earned memories for me, and be slightly less boring than a 1970's slide show for you.  I will post in chunks, one chunk a day for a few days, so just know that the suffering will end some time next week and you can stop reading until then if you like (unless you are one of the people we visited, in which case you may want to stay tuned to see if I painted you in a flattering enough light, and to make sure any photos of you do not expose your secret double chin).  Away we go!

Day one...

August 1, 2014

“Mama, when you move to a new state do you have to get a new license plate?” Tessa asks.

“I got Washington!”  Ellie blurts out, checking the license plate off her US map. 

“I got Wassington!” Jonah echos.

We are on the road.  The kids are chattery after a good breakfast (by the way, the Quality Inn in Winnemucca had a really nice room and free breakfast of bacon and eggs or giant stacks of mondo-pancakes. And twern't no puny egg platter neither: five,-count 'em- 5 strips of bacon; it was awesome.  Also, the big room was enough for all 8 of us.  Nice, huh?) (oh my gosh, there's 8 of us.  Still flips my gourd to see it in writting).  We are now leaving Winnemucca, making tracks for Idaho.  

(Well, technically Utah.  But shhhhhhhh.  Don't tell.)

I begged Guy to add the extra 150 miles to our trip so that I could see Melissa, who I haven’t seen in many, -too many-, years.  Okay, three.  But they were very loooooong, trying years of great difficulty, so it felt more like seven.  Or twenty.

The last time we had a big family road trip we spent the entire time visiting loved ones in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah, and felt frazzled at having to cram in so many short visits, always longing to stay a little longer, always late to the next visit.  So Guy swore next time we would take the states separately as different trips.  This year the coin landed on Idaho.  Utah, and all of our dear ones there, will get the next turn.

(We will seriously only be there about 5 minutes.  Well, maybe 10, but some of that will be spent sleeping.  Please don't be mad.  I already have guilt.  Lots of guilt.)

And now that we are close to Utah, I’m sad we won’t be seeing everyone there. 

“We in Wassington!”  Jonah calls from the back seat.

“No we’re not. We’re in Utah.”  Tessa corrects.

“No, we in Wassington.”

Well, at least if anyone asks Jonah, he won’t be able to rat us out for having been in Utah.  As far as he knows, we went to Washington.

Adam's travel buddy.  He has made this trip with her so much easier.

Packin' up at the motel!

(Shhhh.  We were never here)

No,  Not snow in the distance.  
That is a massive expanse of SALT. 
 Yes, people.  Salt Lake was not just a cute name.  I'm thinking the Mormon pioneers got there and said, Well, we will either do really well here, or we will die.  And if we die, they can pickle us with salt.

To be continued...