Thursday, July 25, 2013

Canada Recap pt 2

While in Canada we did get to do a few things outside the cabin.  Only a few, since it rained so much the entire time Eric was there.

On Eric's last day the sky was finally not drenching us so we called up and asked if they were doing rides.  They said to hurry before it started raining again, so we raced over.  In the 10 minutes it took us to get in the car and drive there it started raining again.  We headed back to the town site, where it promptly stopped raining.  So we jumped back in the car and drove to the stables.  I think they felt sorry for us at this point because they said they would take us out, and gave us all raincoats to wear.  Livi is finally old enough to go on the ride herself, so she was super excited.

Of course she got a giant horse.  I would have been more scared if they didn't make her be lead by one of the guides.

You can barely tell, but Ethan is the one in green with the striped hoodie and Eric is the one in yellow.  We were a very stylish group!

A few days before it was actually a very nice morning.  Eric wanted to go on the hike to the sand-dunes which I grumbled about but reluctantly went on anyways.
It was a very pretty walk, but the humidity was killer and the path was covered in water from the recent rain.  All our feet got completely soggy, but luckily we only got a few bug bites.

Livi immediately dove into the sand and started building sand castles, because her first impulse to seeing any sand, even muddy-ish sand, is the get down and dirty.

Ethan also thought it was like the beach, and started crawling down the dune on his stomach.  I just had to take a picture and then turn away so I wouldn't freak out.  He is probably still finding sand in interesting places from this excursion.

Some of our group in front of the newly remodeled cabin.  Also one of the 2 photos taken of me the entire trip.  Jes was unable to make it in the photo since she was upstairs dying of Cholera, or West Nile, we still aren't sure.

Because Jes was so sick I had to finish the worlds largest puzzle all on my own.  I did finally finish 2 days before we left, but the whole trip we had to cover the table in plastic before every meal so I could keep the puzzle going.  For some reason Mom wanted us to eat at the table instead of all over the living room.  It's like she didn't want to have to clean up after 15 people eating on their laps or something.
The day after Eric left the weather got better which means he had incredibly bad luck, or magic was involved somehow.  It looked overcast, but the kids had a great, warm day to play on the water part of the park.
We have seen lots of animals in the park; deer, sheep, ground squirrels, Steeds, but this year we had a new visitor:
There was a whole fox family, including kits, in the park.  The dad (or mom) would pass by our cabin frequently.  He'd trot by and then a few minutes later trot by with a ground squirrel in his mouth.  The poor thing was constantly being bombarded by the craziest crows, and a few times I wanted to go out and yell at them for him.  He seemed pretty relaxed about it all, and even though he was pretty mangy looking he was amazingly graceful.  I'd still rather be an otter.  If anyone asked.  Or cared.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Rewind, or Livi's "Graduation"

I didn't have time to write about this before we left and I kind of, sort of, forgot to after I got home.

There are somethings about Scottsbluff I doubt I will ever get use to.  One of those things is the mass hysteria surrounding any type of school function, but more specifically school "graduations."  I put that in quotes because I was kind of under the impression a graduation was a big move, a change, to another school or opportunity.  Here it seems to mean you finished a year.  But that doesn't mean that you celebrate less because you do it so often, in fact it means you celebrate MORE!!!

Ethan's kindergarten graduation was my first dose of this phenomenon.  I know a lot of places do kindergarten graduations, so no biggie, but I wasn't prepared for entire extended families bringing balloons and giant gifts to the "graduates."

School music programs are crazy too.  Literally ever member of the extended family comes to the programs.  It is one grade at a time, but if you don't get there at least 45 minutes early then don't expect to get a seat.  It has gotten so bad that the poor principal has started locking the doors and not letting everyone in until 20 minutes before the program so people can't save a block of three rows.  It does lead to more running and shoving, which is equally repugnant to me.

Livi's "graduation" (ridiculous because she still has another year of preschool) was like both squared.  Great Uncle Abner and every third cousin twice removed was there.    There was standing room only by the time it started, and gifts could be seen for the little "graduates."

It was a very cute program, they sang songs and were adorable, but then after the intermission there was the whole Pomp and Circumstance with our little graduates coming out and getting scrolls.  If I had rolled my eyes harder they probably would have gotten stuck in the back of my head, but Livi had fun, and I guess that is what should count. 
Livi with her best girl friends, Sophia, and Bristol

My favorite song, but of course my phone ran out of memory half way through. I'm still not sure what rhymes with "turtle" or "elephant" but it was cute to watch.
All the little "graduates" lining back up.
Looking tired, but happy it is over!
Here is the video of the last time the kids would sing their good-bye song together. Kind of a sad moment for me. She is growing up too quickly.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

And The Rain Came Tumbling Down, or Oh Canada pt 1

I don't know if anyone in the US noticed, but in June there was crazy rain and flooding in Alberta, Canada.  We happened to be there when it happened, and it actually started the day Eric got there, so Canada, you can blame Eric for bringing crappy Nebraska weather with him.  It rained like crazy for over 48 hours.  We woke up one morning and they had evacuated the campground by our cabin.  Turns out it rained over 220 millimeters in 36 hours (yeah, I don't know what that means in real terms either), which means it rained half of the YEARLY average in just over a day.  There was flooding everywhere, and it even destroyed and entire town.  CRAZY.

We were lucky to be in Mini-Versailles (my new name for the cabin) and stayed warm and dry, but by the end I think we were just on the verge of voting someone out of the cabin, hokey ceremony and all, just to alleviate the cabin fever.
We were on a walk when we saw this beautiful site across the lake.
Ethan was a good sport about going on this long walk...of DEATH

We ended up getting stuck under trees while literal sheets of rain came down.  Eric had to drive over from the cabin just to rescue us.

The change in the park was remarkable:
Little waterfalls came down ALL over.  Even in the road.

Cameron Falls before
Looks more like Willy Wonka's waterfall, after

The river from the falls to the lake, before
Red Rock canyon normally has a river actually flowing through it with deep parts throughout.  Normally you can't make it anywhere near the top without getting soaking wet.
When I went with the kids after there was so much silt and tiny rocks that had been brought down that there were just a few inches of water across the now flat bottom.

Normally the waterfall is quite the site...

Now the bottom is much higher and the waterfall is no more because...

There is a hole punched in the back of the cavern from the force of the water.
The wonderful slide we go down...

Now merely a small dip into a tiny pool.

On-the-bright-side the kids were able to go down the new, tiny water slide all by themselves.
or with a little help in Livi's case.

All in all, I didn't suffer loosing my house, or worldly possessions, but we definitely lost something special in that flood.

Sandwiched In Between, or Ella's Baptism

It isn't really fair for something as important as a baptism to get sandwiched in between two other things, but in order for family to get to come out and see the girls dance that is exactly what we did.  The girls performed Friday night, got back around 11:00pm and woke up bright and early (to me) for her baptism at 10:00.

It was a family affair since so many of our family were able to come out.  She was baptized by her daddy:
Her Grandpa Alan conducted, Grandma Joan led the music, Aunt Cheryl gave a talk on baptism, Ella and Uncle Jared sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth," Grandma Sharon gave a talk on the Holy Ghost, Grandpa Rulon confirmed her, Uncle Ryan gave a prayer, and I played the music.  Whew. 
After the baptism we went out to the restaurant of Ella's choosing to celebrate.  Ella picked Perkins, which is basically like a Coco's or Shari's and known as a hot spot for the over 83 crowd, but she loves getting breakfast whenever she can so off we went.  The girls and I had to leave a little early to get ready for the 2nd showing of the recital.

Other fun things:
Livi enjoyed having her soul mate, Cheryl, here to boss around.
All the kids loved having uncles around who don't have their own kids so they can be talked into doing things like push-ups with little girls on their backs. 

We are so proud of Ella and her decision to be baptized.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Unlucky Number 13, or I hate to ask how my year can get worse

I ran a google image search for "scary number 13" and what popped up was kind of...odd.
Okay, Maleficent IS scary, but "13"???

These clearly Canadian-TV-kid's-show monsters? Creepy, yes.  Scary or 13, no.
Google is clearly losing it...

Pancakes and chocolate milk? Health advocates may shake in their boots, but what about my stupid search for "Scary Number 13"????

At least it is a 13.  More of a "dirty, dilapidated, and fuzzy 13" but I'll take it.

To preface, I know how lucky I am.  There is LOTS in my life that is great.  This post is more about the impossibly unlucky week, and year that I have had...SO FAR!!! (maniacal laughter here)

I am not a superstitious person.  I don't avoid ladders, or throw salt over my shoulder (after a recent Dr Who villain I will make a point of NOT throwing salt over my shoulder).  I don't believe numbers or dates can be in-and-of themselves bad luck...well, I didn't.

2013 has not been a stellar year for me in anything.  We reached our health insurance co-pays by the second week in January.  My mind, body, and metabolism seem to have all broken.  The kids have been sick a lot, and I will never live down the marshmallow incident.  I have had weird interactions with people which just make me crazier, making people seem even weirder to me.

We had to replace a few things around the house, get a new lawnmower, but honestly, financially things didn't feel too bad until...da duh DUH...Eric's car died.  

It was very sudden, but not totally unexpected.  The car was over 15 years old and had a lot of wear and tear.  Still, we were hopeful to get a few more years out of it, but then the shaking started.  It would shake like a tiny purse dog, and then not shake, and then shake even harder, all in the course of one drive.  It would idle high and then impossibly low.  We took it in and got the bad news: the car was in critical condition.  Basically everything that wasn't the motor or the transmission needed to be replaced URGENTLY.  The poor mechanic looked at Eric and said "if I were you I wouldn't even bother."  Wow, when the mechanic tells you not to dump money into a car you know it is bad. 

We debated what to do, but eventually decided to use the money we would have spent fixing it as a down payment on a new (to us) car.  Although I think a little piece of Eric died not getting the truck he wanted, we were able to get a great used 2012 Toyota Camry for $4000 less than blue book. 

 Still, we muddled through.  We depleted all our resources, but we made it work.

This week has made the rest of this year seem like child's play (or jello, because jello seems nice, quiet, easy going, and generally non-upsetting). 
-On the 4th of July our front door broke.  Some of the framing split and the door wouldn't all.  Eric and I managed to man handle it back in place, but then it wouldn't open.  At all.  Luckily we have a garage that we go through most of the time, so we started looking at replacement doors to order.
-On the 6th my vacuum stopped working.  It turns on for a while, doesn't suck, and then over-heats and shuts off.  
-On the 8th we were just going in the house when we heard a large bang and the garage door seemed to fall.  Turns out IT is now broken.  I was afraid we would have to enter and exit by the front windows for a while but Eric managed to rig the front door using unsightly screws so the door opens now (who knows for how long).  
-On the 9th Eric noticed our sprinklers are having major problems (but he managed to fix most of that).   
-Today...I came home from buying a new garage door opener and the lights in the garage wouldn't turn on.  Yep, something funky is going on.  After much jiggling and crying they came on.  I hope it is just the unusual heat, but I know in my heart it will be something crazy and expensive with our electrical.

I am not sure if I want to know what is next so I can prepare, or if I just want to be turned into an ostrich and put my head in the sand. All I know is I probably should go on a plane or buy any lotto tickets right now.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ella In Review, or Ella Looking Like A Teenager

I just thought this was a fun comparison:

The Busiest Weekend, EVER... or It's Dance Time Again

There are a lot of jokes I could make about dictators, feeling like an incompetent ninny, and probably a knock knock joke about a donkey and a chicken, but honestly, seeing what the girl's dance teachers were able to pull off I have to give those women some serious recognition. Not only do they put in 1,372 hours, they have to organize all of the dancers, the annoying parents, and they pull off a pretty good show. There were 3 shows this year, with each girl dancing in 2 (or all 3 for some unlucky parents). Since Ella turned 8 and was going to be baptized this year anyways we decided to do it the same weekend as the dance extravaganza so everyone who traveled out here for the baptism could go to the recital as well. 9 birds 1 stone type of thing, or to quote a better blogger than me "Twice up the barrel, once down the side."

This year was a "high" year, meaning that our bills were very high.  Ha ha.  No, what it means is that the costumes (and sometimes props) are more elaborate, which in turn means our bill is very high.  This was Livi's very first year which made it extra exciting for her, and Ella was in 4 dances herself, so between the two I felt like half the show was my girls (slight exaggeration, but for the time we spent preparing it sure seemed like it).

 I vowed this year that I wouldn't be a behind-the-scenes stage mom, like previous years, because it stresses me out, and I always end up getting yelled at.  I can handle a lot, but being yelled at by another adult is not one of them.  I tend to cry, as is the family tradition.  As the show got closer and closer no one signed up for Ella's classes so I decided I could help with ballet.  Ballet was 1st in her show order so I could help at the beginning and then pass the girls on to the next set of moms.  Less stress, right?  Well the last week of dance and still nobody had signed up for Jazz.  I should have just walked away, but I would worry more about Ella backstage with no one to help, than about being yelled at.

So I ended up being a stage mom for ballet, jazz, and for the left-over girls in the finale (not like put in a fridge left-over, just not with a big group).  It was slightly more than I had wanted, but I want the recitals to go well for the girls almost as much as Miss Kathy.  Almost, but no one cares more than Miss Kathy. On the bright side I was the stage mom for 3 dances but only got yelled at twice.  My percentages are getting better!

With such beautiful costumes I had to take lots of pictures, so rather than have lots of scrolling I pre-digitally scrapbooked them (are those even real words).