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Archive for August, 2007

Busy weekend ahead

I promised in my last post that I’d explain what a pony meet is.  Basically, it’s a gathering of My Little Pony (plastic toy with comb-able hair) fans and collectors.  Pony collectors in Utah wanted to get together and meet each other in person (we all belong to the online pony community mlparena.com) so I volunteered my back yard.  It was a long and tiring day, but actually pretty fun!  We had a pony-custom contest, guess the flowers on the cake contest, buying/selling/pony trading, displays, lunch, talking, pony poetry contest, and fakie shooting.  🙂  We had about 13 people come from as far north as Ogden and as far south as Provo.  I couldn’t resist and bought some G1 ponies, some for the kids for now and some for Christmas.  (G1 stands for Generation One, which basically means the first MLPs made from 1981-1988 or so.  G2s were a hideous revival that didn’t last long in 1996, and G3s are what are out in stores now, which are different but very cute and my kids probably have at least 110 of them or so.  But they all wish they could have G1s like me, since I’ve saved all my childhood ponies, so I buy them when I can find them at garage sales or DI or whatever.)

This week I’ve spent mostly trying to deal with a very bad cold.  I think I’ve turned the corner now and it’s starting to get better but I’m still very much feeling nasty, tired, coughing, congested, etc.  I’ve really got to get better fast because tomorrow we will be moving Kaari’s stuff all day long–she found an apartment on the east side!  That is great news and she’s really happy to get an apartment, but it will take a lot of hard labor to get everything moved.  Kimi has done tons of work on the phones and in person to find her this place and get everything arranged–big pat on the back to you, Kimi.  My dad, Kavi, Kaari, and Kaari’s two boys were supposed to leave yesterday evening to drive out here but because of various delays they didn’t leave till 10 this morning, Wisconsin time.  Kaatia and Kimi have arranged to do a joint baby blessing for Jasmine and Levi tomorrow afternoon at Kaatia’s house but now we don’t know if the Wisconsin crew will arrive in time for that.  It will be very sad if they don’t.   We will be praying for them all day today that the car will work with no problems or accidents, that Ethan and Joshua will be good, and that they won’t suffer too much from the heat (no air conditioning and it sure does get hot across those treeless, windy prairie states).  Also that they get here in time.  

I’ll be spending as much of the day as I can today on packing up Kaari’s stuff to help with the move tomorrow.  Hopefully everything this weekend goes well! 

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Pictures, finally

siblings-at-the-airport.jpgtrees-at-eagle-lake.jpg4 of the sisters with Kav at Eagle Lakebadlands.jpgMy sister Kirah on her first horseback rideCiara on Rajcounty-j-3.jpgcounty-j1.jpg county-j2.jpg

Top pictures: Kavi and his sisters at the airport, gorgeous trees at Eagle Lake, and 4 of us girls with Kavi at Eagle Lake.  Middle pictures: John and the kids at the Badlands, Kirah riding her first horse, and Ciara on Raj.  Bottom pictures: the gorgeous drive on the local road to Minocqua, County J.  You can click on each picture to get the larger version.

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Settling back in

Who knew recovering from a vacation could be so hard?  Here’s what my week has been like since I got back:

Sunday: church.  It’s supposed to be a day of rest but with all the meetings and such, somehow I always end up feeling more tired.  I will enjoy it quite a lot when our 1:00pm church time switches to 9:00am next year.  It’s harder to get ready on time, but all over by noon and then ah, sweet nap! 

Monday: The kids and I were at the zoo till mid-afternoon.  They had a special show with Rachel, Alex and Leah from Signing Time there.  We went last year and loved it, and the show this year was wonderful, too.  It was lots of fun to meet Rachel again and get pictures with her.  She is accomplishing so much good for children and families.  If you haven’t seen her DVDs, check out Signing Time at the library or on channel 9 for Utah folks, Mondays and Fridays.  Anyway, we were very tired after that show, a picnic lunch, the bird show, and some walking, so we came home.

Tuesday: This was DataMark’s annual Lagoon day where they pay for all the employees and their families to go to Lagoon, enjoy a catered dinner, and have prizes.  This year John got some more free tickets so we took our friends Josh and Susan with us (and their two sons).  It was a lot of fun and this year for the first time the kids and I went to Lagoon-a-Beach.  The kids thought it was beyond cool and loved playing on the water swings, water slides, tunnels, caves, etc.  John showed up and we changed and did some more rides, then went to dinner.  Bran was all upset that he didn’t get to do any roller-coasters yet…last year he’d tried them for the first time and loved it, much to my chagrin/worry.  He did really enjoy going on the big pirate ship and the Centennial Screamer, my favorite ride, and the Music Express with Ciara and me.  Oh, and the big swings.  Susan stayed with Nia and her boys on the kid rides while we did those, and Josh and John were off together.  That new roller coaster “Wicked” looks very scary!!

After dinner (someone got so green from scary rides that he threw up in the bushes…I won’t mention names, but it was an adult and not John 🙂 ) Ciara was brave enough to try the Bat, and she said it was fun.  Then Josh and I watched the younger kids and Ciara while Susan, John, and Bran went to ride all the scary rides.  By the time 8pm rolled around I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open.  It had been non-stop action for weeks and I hadn’t had a day to rest.  On the way home (Susan and all the kids were in my van, Josh and John in our car) I was either too tired or too busy talking (or both) and missed the exit off I-215 to get on highway 201 and accidentally ended up in Midvale.  Consequently, we didn’t get home till after 11.  It was a fun but very tiring day!

Wednesday: cleaning/unpacking all morning, yearly midwife check-up in the afternoon.  Susan so kindly offered to watch the kids and I was so grateful that I made dinner for her family when I got back (she even cleaned my house, too!!  What a friend).  Don’t you just love it when you drive half an hour to get to the doctor, arrive a few minutes early like you’re supposed to, and then you sit and wait for an entire hour past your appointment?  At least I had my phone and was busy sending and receiving text messages from my dad, Kaari, Kaatia, and two friends.  Between that and the magazines, I didn’t get too bored. 

Wednesday night I also went on visits with the Relief Society presidency.  I feel bad that I wasn’t much of a conversationalist towards the end–my vacation tiredness was catching up once again and I felt my eyelids drooping by 8pm.

Today: delivering some things at 10, then a much-needed trip to the library.  We stocked up on books and movies.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love the library?  It is one of my favorite things about living in Salt Lake.  They have awesome libraries with a terrific system where you can order just about any book, movie, magazine, CD, etc. and it will be delivered right to your closest library.  It’s beyond great.  If I could go to the library every day, I would.  (I feel the same way about bookstores.)  I’d had to return everything before the trip to Wisconsin in case something came due and I couldn’t renew it online, so we were sadly in need of books. 

[Quick interjection here: speaking of books, if you like fiction, particularly young adult or children’s novels like I do, you should read the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer.  The first one is Twilight, the second is New Moon, and Eclipse just came out two weeks ago.  I haven’t read it yet (shocker!) because I was in Wisconsin, but John ordered it for me from Walmart.com Monday night and I can’t wait till it arrives this weekend or next Monday.  (If you go to Barnes & Noble you’ll pay about $19 but Walmart is offering it online for $9.97 plus a small shipping fee.)  These books are about vampires and–wait, before you dismiss them, give them a chance!  They are SOOOOOO good, and the author is a BYU graduate and has good, clean books–they are beyond exciting, romantic, etc.  They have it all.  I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love them after reading one.]

 So anyway, back to today: we got home from the library just in time for me to make Bran wheat-free waffles as he’d begged for and feed the girls, then pick up Nia’s friend to spend the afternoon here.  Tonight I’m sure I’ll crash again at 8 and go to bed early.  Tomorrow we have absolutely no plans so it should be a nice, relaxing day.  Saturday there will be a “pony meet” here so we need to clean up the back yard and mow the grass in preparation.  In case you are wondering what on earth a pony meet is, stay tuned!  🙂

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Home again

We are finally back in Utah….we arrived home last night at 5:45.  When I got out of the RV I saw how overgrown the weeds in the flower beds were and immediately attacked them.  Then I decided I’d better mow the front lawn, too, before people wouldn’t be able to find our house in the long grass.  🙂  After all that and two days in the RV, we all really enjoyed taking baths and showers!

The drive home was very long.  The kids were all pretty well behaved for the most part but we were all just so tired that it seemed to go on forever.  Thursday and Friday night John and I would drive till about 12:30 or 1am, then pull over at a rest area (I grew up calling them “waysides”) and sleep till 6 or so.  We were glad we left Thursday night because it was nice to get about 5 hours of driving in and be south of the Twin Cities before we stopped that night.

Friday morning we were on the road again by 7 or so, and enjoyed our drive straight south to the bottom of Minnesota where we got on I-90.  We stopped for lunch at noon and let the kids run around at a wayside, then piled back in and were soon in South Dakota.  It isn’t much to look at along I-90–hundreds of miles of straight prairie everywhere you look, with no houses or anything.  The towns along the freeway are few and far between.  We did see several miles of sunflower fields, though–that isn’t something I remember seeing before.  Maybe we’ve all eaten sunflower seeds from those fields!  🙂

I wanted to write a blog entry from South Dakota but the internet connection wasn’t cooperating.  It would’ve been titled and started like this:

Trouble Along a Windy Road

We’ve been attacked by robbers!  As we pulled over to let the kids run around, masked bandits galloped up on their horses and demanded our valuables at gunpoint.  They made off with the digital TV and cameras, all the cash in John’s wallet, and our bag of magnetic rocks from Arrow Gift Shop in Eagle River.  Luckily, though, Kaatia just happened to be sitting on a pillowcase full of the REALLY valuable stuff–our supply of fresh Wisconsin cheese. 

🙂

Just kidding.  What actually happened was that John was taking a nap in the back while I drove and Kaatia talked to me to keep me awake.  I’d noticed the needle on the gas gauge edging toward the empty side but the sun was glaring off the gauges so badly that I couldn’t see it very well, and we also hadn’t passed any gas stations for the past 100 miles or so.  There was seriously nothing but prairie as far as you could see.  (I wish we could’ve visited Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home town of De Smet, South Dakota, but it would’ve taken 3-4 hours we didn’t have.) 

So there we were, rolling merrily along, when all of a sudden the RV gasped, coughed, and died.  I said “Oh no!” and steered it over to the side of the freeway which wasn’t easy because it’s a heavy vehicle and hard to slow down even when it actually has power.  We managed to get it off the road and then woke up John, who took one look at the gauge and said “You ran it out of gas!”  He was not a very happy camper.  Luckily, thanks to Brother Wade, John had modified the generator to pull gas out of a separate gas container instead of the engine gas, and we still had about two gallons left in there.  He told us we had to get the RV farther off the road so the cars and trucks and semis whizzing by at 75+ miles an hour didn’t hit us, especially since the gas tank was on the same side as the road.

John got in to steer while Kaatia and I went behind and pushed.  (And the wind almost pushed us over.  Boy, was it ever windy!!)  We were sure we wouldn’t be able to budge it an inch but to our surprise, we moved it several feet!  My shirt got lovely brown stains all over it from the spare tire mounted on the back but at least we got it farther off the road.  It took about 20 minutes to siphon the gas out of the container into the tank, and when we got back in I held my breath, hoping and praying that it really was just a gas problem and not something major.  Sure enough, it started up right away, and in answer to our prayers we found a single gas pump next to a tiny casino in the middle of nowhere a mile or two away. 

After that little hiccup we drove several more hours without a problem.  We stopped at Prairie Dog Town (usually loaded with prairie dogs popping out of their holes to eat unsalted peanuts out of your hand, but this time there weren’t very many and they wouldn’t come over to us) at the start of the 40-mile Badlands Loop road and decided to pay the $15 for a pass through Badlands National Park.  The Badlands are very unique and quite different from most other things I’ve seen in my life.  I think anyone who’s been to some of the national parks in southern Utah will have seen similar rock formations, but the Badlands are still very cool.  The kids loved climbing on and around them and we got some great pictures.

The Badlands Loop ends right at the famous town of Wall, home of Wall Drug, a several-blocks-long store that started out 100 or so years ago as a pharmacy.  Supposedly they survived the Depression by serving free ice water to people passing through, and now they are several stores full of touristy stuff plus restaurants and cafes and picture galleries and a fun place in the back outside called the “Back Yard.”  They have all sorts of fun stuff for the kids like a jackalope statue for kids to sit on, covered wagons and stagecoaches, a caboose, a teepee, and a giant T-Rex head that roars every 12 minutes.  It was quite fun to watch–I’ve got it on video and the kids made me play it for them 3 times today.  It’s got flashing lights, smoke coming from its nostrils, lightning, the head moves and the dino rears up and shows its claws; the works.  Kaatia’s youngest two got scared.  It was extremely entertaining to watch all 6 kids’ faces as they saw this big thing rear up and roar.

By the time we got out of there and had some dinner it was getting pretty late, and we had to face the fact that we weren’t going to make it to Mount Rushmore that night.  If we stayed overnight and waited till morning that would make our journey several hours longer, so we opted to continue driving.  We got the kids all ready for bed and they all went to sleep while John and I drove to Rapid City and then left I-90 and turned south to go around the Black Hills.  Right after we got on the highway, maybe ten miles from Rapid City, we ran into a major traffic jam.  It was 10pm and pitch dark with a line of cars and trucks stretching two miles at least.  We sat there for 45 minutes while all sorts of emergency vehicles raced past on the shoulder, including Search & Rescue and some other weird ones.  When the line finally got moving we were extremely annoyed and wanted to know what caused all the commotion, but never saw anything!  It was really weird.

Finally about 12:30 that night, shortly after crossing the border into Wyoming, I prayed that we’d find a wayside.  Both John and I were on the point of falling asleep every second.  Not five minutes later we saw one (the only one we’d passed or would pass the next day for a few hundred miles) and very gratefully pulled in and went to sleep.  Unfortunately, we had to park on a slant and poor Kaatia had a terrible night’s sleep because she felt like she was falling off the bed all the time.

Saturday we were on the road again by 7 and after a very long, tiring day and 11 hours of driving, pulled up at our house.  We were all so glad to be done with all the driving!  I didn’t sleep the best last night because I kept dreaming that we were still driving and I had to wake up soon and take my turn.  🙂  It’s good to be back!  I have lots of terrific pictures and will post some tomorrow, if I have time.  I’m going to the zoo with the kids and some friends and we’ll see if I have any energy when I get back. 

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Heading West again

Well, it’s over–the best vacation of all time.  Even our kids were crying before we left because they loved Wisconsin so much and didn’t want to leave.  Kaari decided to stay behind for a couple of weeks and come out with Kavi when he comes for college at BYU-Idaho.  Consequently, 9 people in the RV instead of 12 gives us a lot more room!  We left last night around 7:30 and made it a few miles past Minneapolis before pulling over at a rest area to sleep for a few hours.  We were on our way again by 7:20 this morning and are about to enter South Dakota.  Since we left yesterday, we have time for sight-seeing stops and so we’re going to see Mount Rushmore and Wall Drug/prairie dog town, among other things.  Oh, and probably the Badlands.  We should make it back to Salt Lake later tomorrow night.

Wednesday John spent most of the day and evening working on my parents’ computer and got their situation all fixed up nicely.   Our old friend Charles came over and we had a lovely time talking to him all afternoon.  I haven’t seen him for 11 years!  That night after the kids were in bed we watched Napoleon Dynamite, one of Kavi’s favorite movies, and it was fun to see my parents’ faces as they watched it and laughed at all the strangeness and silliness.  My mom also had made two blueberry pies from blueberries my dad had just picked and they were delicious.

Yesterday we mostly spent in packing and doing laundry…I felt like a pioneer, hanging clothes on the line to dry.  🙂  Of course I took every opportunity to send my siblings and dad plenty of text messages. Lots of fun!   It was so sad to say goodbye to them and to the beautiful northern Wisconsin scenery, though…the RV was almost foggy with all the crying going on.

It’s great to be able to text on the way, get news, and tell them where we are.  I hope you’re all having as nice a day as we are!

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Wow.  It’s been waaay too long since I wrote here…too much to write about now.  I’ll just hit the highlights:

Sunday:

Terrific, wonderful, awesome day.  We got to hear Kavi give his homecoming talk.  We sang a special number (all 20 of us), “I Am a Child of God,” with all the grandchildren and Kirah singing the first verse alone.  My dad talked.  And Kirah got to get baptized! 

For years she’s wanted to and been told no by church leaders.  With her Downs Syndrome, they had to be careful that she could fully understand the covenant she was making and the responsibility to be accountable she was taking upon herself.  Last week in church the bishop received a strong impression that she was ready, so the missionaries quickly taught her the 6 discussions, very much simplified (since she’s over the age of 8), and Kavi baptized her Sunday after church.  It was so neat.  Kirah cried for at least 5 minutes after it was over because she was so touched by the Spirit.

Monday John and the kids and I drove to Minoqua to check out the boardwalk stores, then came back and we all went swimming for several hours at Sugar Camp Lake.  It was so much fun!  No one wanted to get out.  John even came in and played “Monkey in the middle” with a football with all of us. 

Today Kaatia and the kids and I spent the morning in Eagle River visiting the cool touristy shops (we spent money, naughty us, and only made it to two shops), then met everyone except Mama at Pizza Hut for a lunch buffet.  (Yum, and what a good deal…a little over $5 for each adult and every kid ten and under was free!)  After that, Kaatia and John and I and the kids, and Kimi and Olivier’s family, went back into town to check out the rest of the shops.  We spent way too much money and got Eagle River T-shirts, caps for John and Bran, sandals, jewelry, and other touristy things.  We all had a blast.  Just wait till you all see John’s shirt.  Especially you DataMark people.  🙂

My dad has had a cell phone for a year and yesterday he drove to Appleton when he was picking up his new computer and spent several hours in a Sprint store, signing Kavi, me, Kaatia, and Kaari up on a family plan with him.  It’s only $10 a month per phone, plus a few dollars for our minutes, taxes, insurance, and unlimited text messaging.  I can’t believe John got me a cell phone!  I never thought I’d have one.  We charged them all day today and tonight there was quite a hilarious scene as Kaari, Kaatia, and Kavi figured out their phone features and ran around snapping pictures of each other for the caller ID feature, entering in numbers, and trying out various ring tones.  (I didn’t get my phone till later because it needed to charge more.)  Every minute or so, someone’s phone would go off, and they’d sit there for a little while trying to figure out how to answer it and read the text message or talk or whatever.   Even John said watching them with their phones was “pretty amusing.”  I finally got mine and spent all my spare time during several games of Mafia (Mama and Daddy played with us…cute!) trying to figure it out. 

Unfortunately the dude at the Sprint store did something wrong because my number isn’t working, so hopefully we can get that straightened out in the morning.  It’s way cool to have a phone, though.  I especially like the changeable covers.  🙂

Our friend Patti also came over tonight to visit.  She is SO hilarious!!  Our old and dear friend Charles is coming over tomorrow and that will be so awesome to see him again.  Tomorrow we also have to do tons of laundry, clean the RV and dump garbage and waste, and pack everything up again.  I think we’ve pretty well decided that instead of leaving from here on Friday morning we’ll go up to Lake Superior Thursday morning, spend the day there and at Lake of the Clouds and Bond Falls, then say our sad goodbyes and start heading west early that evening.  This way we’ll still get to party at Lake Superior all day, but also have enough time to take it slower on the drive home, stop for a motel if the girls want to, and let the kids run around every few hours.  We can even get some sightseeing in!  I really don’t want to think about leaving, though…if I could I’d move here.  I really don’t know how I could have ever left these trees.

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Tonight after the kids were all in bed John and I hopped in Kimi and Olivier’s car  to head to one of the many, many restaurants in northern Wisconsin that do Friday night fish fries.  We went to the Hiawatha Supper Club, where they had a small salad bar and chicken and freshly-caught fish.  Mmmmmmm!!!!  While we ate we looked out at the lovely view over one of the area’s hundreds of lakes.  When we got back Kimi and Olivier came into the RV to watch X-3: The Last Stand (the third X-Men movie) with us.  It sure is fun to watch it on a digital TV.  🙂

Last night was so great.  We spent most of yesterday trying to get children to rest, taking turns occupying children, talking, and checking the internet for Kavi’s flight status.  He tried calling during his Milwaukee layover but never managed to connect to anyone.  At 9:40 we took off for the Rhinelander airport and when we got there, we spread posters and markers on the floor and tables and the kids decorated them while we paced around and worked out a place to hide as well as our surprise strategy.

We settled on hiding behind a large vending machine wall and split into two groups, one to come out on one side and one on the other.  Kaari was the lookout with Joshua on her back in a backpack and we kept whispering to the kids, “Be quiet, guys!  Kavi’s coming!” 

Finally Kaari whispered “I can see him!  Here he comes!  He’s hugging Mama…let them have a moment…okay…Ready…Set…Go!”

Screaming “Kavi, we love you!” like banshees, we (17 people) ran out of our hiding place holding our posters high.  We had to run about 30 feet and he was just standing there in total surprise.  He looked beyond exhausted and the expression on his face was like he couldn’t grasp, understand or believe what he was seeing.  I hugged him and he hugged everyone, almost automatically, and then said in total shock, “What are you all doing here?”  We all laughed.  Kirah was so cute–she hugged him over and over and kept saying “That’s my bruvver.  That’s my Kavi, he’s home!  I love you, Kav!”

The best part was when she told him she is finally going to be baptized on Sunday.  Tears came instantly pouring down his face and came even harder when she told him that he was going to baptize her.  They hugged and hugged.  A few minutes later she said to me, “That’s my bruvver.  I’m so excited!  I’m crying” and wiped her eyes.  What a cutie.

Well, some tears, lots of hugs and many pictures later, we got into our separate vehicles and drove home.  We finally put the kids down at about 1am or so and everyone else went to bed reluctantly at 2.  Today we really didn’t get to see Kav much because he was so tired and still recovering from culture/language/mission shock, plus he had to leave early this afternoon for Kirah’s final set of missionary discussions for her baptism and for Kavi’s appointment with the stake president, 2 hours’ drive away, to be released. 

It’s nearly 1am now and he still isn’t back.  Poor Kav!  He must be so tired.  I guess Daddy took them out to eat afterward and then did some shopping or something.  I hope he gets home soon and gets some rest tonight!  It sure is great to have him back, though! 

Tomorrow we’re having a ward party at Eagle Lake to welcome Kavi home, and for anyone else who was friends with us growing up and wants more of a chance to talk than in church.  Maybe after the party we can watch one of Kavi’s favorite movies, “Napoleon Dynamite,” with him.

Oh, and by the way, Greg: I tried my hardest to get John to write an entry but he refused.  He said he would give you “his version” when he gets back to work.  Sorry!  🙂

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