Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The day has come...

Thanks to the hard work of my husband (and lots of sacrifices on his part), the clever way I've saved money (like making us eat food past the expiration date much to Andy's dismay or cutting my own hair as my friend LeAnn mocked me for this morning), many nights of not eating out when Andy was dying to go to Roadhouse, Andy's incredible brother who has advised us and ran a marathon to boot :), fasting and praying for the ends to meet up when they didn't seem to, family members who have spent money on our behalf or sent it to us when it was needed, serving the Lord and using our incredible talents to bless the lives of others with the money he has blessed us with (like feeding the missionaries, donating to worthy causes and making meals for those who we feel need it), Instead of dates meaning dinner and movies (in who knows how long) we were content with long hikes, sitting in the free seats at the Muny, missing Wicked at the Fox, etc..etc..I could go on... IT HAS FINALLY HAPPENED!

Tonight we made the final payment on our final student loan. We still have other debts to pay, but for once, during General Conference, we can listen to the get out of debt talks and feel confident that the Lord has blessed us in so many ways to make this happen.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Mammoth of a Party

Every year about this time I think...do I really want to do another theme party? And yet, every year I send out the invitations, plan and prepare and swear this will be the last year. But here we are again, almost a decade of theme parties to our name with a giant Mammoth ready to be killed in our back yard.Andy and I set up most of the games and the backyard and it seemed like it was going so well. I sent Andy off to play Volleyball and I went to the store for last minute items for the games and then spent some time praying for the rain from Gustav to hold off long enough for us to have the party. And my prayers were heard.
The cave men and woman arrived in true Caveman Spirit. We had everything from archaeologists, to silky leopard jammies, to the couple dressed as Geico business cards. From the geico caveman himself, to the Flintstones and the Rubbles. And as always, I'm reminded of how much fun adults can have when they let down their hair and let loose for a few hours. The teams were made, the laughter commenced and the memories began...And another year is done...and who knows, perhaps next year we'll do it again.

I apologize that from here on out the pictures will get darker, but I didn't account for it getting so dark, so soon. Here the contestants had to eat a chicken drumstick down to the bone and then try to chuck it into a red ladybug sandbox. You might think this sounds easy...but the bones were slippery and bounced quickly out...some never even came close to going in. I always tell Andy that we never get pictures of me since I am always running the show and then taking the pictures. So this year Andy took them and while he got some of me, we didn't get any of him. When will we learn?
Passing the Neanderthal skull around in our version of Hot Potato was a hit. I never saw those heads go flying more than when these adults thought they might end up with them and get out. It was fierce (perhaps only to be rivaled by our Musical Flower game at The Ugly Bug Ball when Andy's sister tackled a pregnant lady to get one of the last remaining spots).
Here is our hairiest chestiest Caveman throwing his spear through the Mammoth's Belly.
And here is our littlest caveman who decided that he didn't want to be with the babysitter watching Ariel's Mermaid New Beginning and so crashed the party repeatedly.

Fred stood out as one of our most cartoonish caveman. Along with his wife, Wilma (Amy), they reminded us why we loved being kids. The Parks have decided to move to Oregon. They will be missed for more than their ham :) ! We have enjoyed being around this zany duo who love to do just about anything we can dream up and never complain. We wish you the best of luck
Here is our archaeologist taking her turn at spearing the mammoth. Go Cathy. The celebration dances commenced with every style and action known to man. Who was I to judge what was the best. They were all unique and fun.
I wondered though with this team as they dragged their woman off the stage...

And as all cavemen will be cavemen, one team tackled and dragged out Trent Sigler and then did their hunting celebration dance with him being the catch.
In the darkness, the team members competed to draw the most items from the primitive caveman pictograph that was drawn on the cave wall overlooking the food. The we had what I considered to be the hardest game. The teams raced to put together a puzzle which told them to go to the dinosaur sandbox to uncover eggs. Once the eggs were open they struggled to put together a dinosaur without speaking...well, they were allowed to grunt. And as LeAnn, Brianna and Amy showed us, their grunts could be quite loud, quite primitive and definitely got the point across that someone was standing in their light. Definitely not an average submissive cave woman!
Here our resident daddy Caveman looks on while debating if he should grunt his wisdom to help this team along. After all, the Elder's Quorum leader stole the other eggs, lied about it and gave them a slow start :)
And when all was said and done, only one caveman was left. Our tribute to the modern age. One caveman who just couldn't understand why his cave woman was grunting so much about this task...until he tried to do it himself. What a fun night!
then the party ended and the backyard became just a backyard once again.

Men with their power tools

The day started with Andy saying "What? You want me to cut these down?" But yes, alas the trees were moved to make room for the cave man party. These beautiful natural trees that have fallen and grown over with vines and poison ivy are coming down. So how exactly do we do this? We call up our dear friends Dave K and David A and they arrive with eye wear, power tools and the ability to jump fences (Dave never ceases to amaze me...).
And the boys go to work. A few pina coladas later we have a wonderful walkway.

so as I did my part, note I wasn't invited into the whole power tool aspect, I was the leaf picker upper....anyway I began to scream as something slithered through the pile I was picking up. I'm not much of a screamer, but I was impressive. Even the next door neighbor came over to See if I was okay. Now after saving my poor little bunnies that got flooded out (see previous posts) you would not expect what I did next. I quickly told Andy to get a shovel and take care of it. And my manly husband did just as I asked. Off came the snake's head and several body parts. Actually, I was upset that we killed this creature and yet oddly fascinated that despite having no body parts connected, he continued to slither and move for several moments.
And finally, it was just good ole weed whacking time. Down came all the bushes (formally known as tall spindly weeds gone wild) and lo and behold,
We could once again get to Katie's house. Not bad for an afternoon of fun and hard work...off to the pool we go.

I spy, with my little eye...

One of my daughters favorite pastimes in MO is to collect frogs. While we slave away at making the Garden a bliss complete, the kids quickly scamper up and catch anything they can get. So far, we have hosted frogs (including one that sat in my nephews pocket until it was washed in the laundry machine...a story for another time but sadly did not end well for the frog, or my nephew), blue tailed skinks, and not to mention a few snakes... Once these treasures are found, they are always quickly brought up to me and I assess whether they can observe them for a while. I have found the solution being an old outdoor planter that is so high they can not escape, but on the ground so we can all enjoy their antics. Of course I allow observations for only a couple hours and then the animals must be let go. I can't let them be apart from their froggy mommies and daddies can I? But on this particular day, Katie and Baker were very successful so I agreed to document their finds...so how many did they find? Is your eye good enough to tell? You can double click on the image to enlarge it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A fun dinner

Today we invited over a family whom we've long admired. At the last minute I also agreed to drive my good friend to the airport. And then Andy told me he had to go collect fast offerings. So I rushed home from church with all my kids and Baker's best friend Abbey. Fed them, layed them down for a nap and then ran around to make dinner. We didn't have the bread or tomatoes I needed and Andy didn't feel that the ox was that much in the mire, so with no real time, we hurried and made our own baguettes, borrowed tomatoes from the neighbors garden, cooked the chicken, measured out the rice, jumped in the clean car (thanks Andy) and headed off to pick up my friend. Left instructions for Andy to clean the house (which he did fantastically well, Shelby would be proud of his company cleaning) and directions for all the food. Ran to the airport and arrived home minutes before our guests arrived. Quickly threw dinner together, steamed the veggies while we ate everything else and began to talk with this fantastic family. And guess what? This classy woman said she reads my blog. So I'm thinking I need to step it up a bit. But seriously, how about that for validation? Sometimes it turns out that people you think are fantastic and wonderful and beyond approach are just well, normal. (well, not really, they still are the "jocks" and we're still the "chess" people) but really, they are amazing.

And they continue to be among the ranks of those I could learn so much from.

Today I am satisfied being myself and who I am. Baker and his little friend Abbey had massive breakdowns in Sacrament meeting over a half of a crayon, (which was great because Brother Keetch stood up and said in his testimony how children, even if they are crying, are music to his ears. Not missing a beat Andy stood up and said, "If Brother Keetch thinks crying babies are music to his ears than my family provides him an entire symphony. After that, no one could really say mean things to us). Katie learned a new little "angry eyes look", Griffith decided to cry throughout my caveman theme party instead of being with the babysitter, Baker taught the nursery kids that Jesus wants to eat them, Katie slammed her door so many times and told me what a rotten mom I was all week because I make her do homework, I drove a great friend to the airport and then drove away with Baker screaming he missed his best friend and wanted to be with her instead, cried myself to sleep after a minor breakdown earlier in the week, BUT, I also got to experience the power of the priesthood as my best friend and most comfortable other, who I would trust with every low point of my life (aren't I truly lucky?), gave me a blessing and I was able to feel the comfort and power and protection of the Lord and for a moment was completely enveloped in safety. And for that...I would serve any way I can. So for all of you who have asked me this week how I do what I do? This is how and this is why. For those moments when the spirit gives back peace and safety. And that comes through putting yourself out there and serving even when you don't see how you can keep going. And the sad thing is, I realistically could do so much more.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Griffith is eating!

So Griffith has finally joined the ranks of eating children. This is in memory of his first meal.