Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hair cut #2

I was noticing the other day that Calvin's bangs were getting pretty long and that maybe...JUST maybe... it was time for his first hair cut. We had to run to Fred Meyer for a few things Monday afternoon, so I swung into Great Clips next door to see what their wait time was. About 2 minutes. So we waited and I signed Calvin up for his FIRST hair cut. And for the record, it had nothing to do with the fact that he's been pronounced an adorable little girl for the past month or so. Nor does it have anything to do with the fact that he's been nicknamed Billy Ray Cyrus or Fabio or Mullet Man or that other nursery parents in church keep asking: who's the new kid with the mane? Nope...his bangs needed trimming, so we went for it.

I haven't had a "first hair cut" in almost 5 years. Karcyn is 4 and has never once had her hair cut, not even a trim. Though she's been begging to after watching Calving get his done. We waited until Cooper was almost 3 to cut his and it was more out of fear for our personal safety. It had to be quick because he had to be held down to get the job done. How a 25 lb. kid can be stronger than two adults is beyond me.

I hoped and even believed that Calvin would do good for his hair cut (you know how the saying goes: hope for the best, expect the worst, take what comes) but until we did it, I wasn't sure what we were in for.

My heart leaped with joy and pride when Calvin climbed up on that booster seat and sat like an ANGEL. I told Ruby, Calvin's stylist, that it needed to be short all over...super short. If we were going to do this, we might as well do it so we wouldn't have to be back any time soon.

Before Ruby started cutting, she looked at me knowingly, made sure I was looking square in her eyes and once she had my full attention she said very slowly..."Do you realize how much of a big boy he's going to look like if we cut it short?" I assured her I did and although I didn't need the clarification, it was nice of Ruby to prepare me for what was to be coming. (Once she saw the other three kids sitting in the waiting area and discovered they were mine she said more to herself than me, "Oh, you've been through this before.")

And then she began. Calvin didn't freak out at the water being sprayed on his head. He didn't squirm when Ruby started combing and snipping with the scissors.

He didn't say a word. He just sat there.

Ruby and I showered Calvin in praises for being such a little man. Then she called him "Mr. Serious." Which is funny to us, considering this post from his early baby days.

I don't have a picture of it, but Ruby got out the trimmer, er "tickle machine", and showed it to Calvin before she used it and he continued his perfection and sat so still.

10-15 minutes later and voila!

I had a NEW CHILD!! Who WAS this kid??

Oh boy...

Fortunately, I was sooooooooooo proud of Calvin for being Mr. Awesome that it overruled any sadness I might have had for the loss of the locks. (Ruby was kind enough to save the first curls she cut in a little memory pamphlet for me.) When we went to Fred Meyer I bought him a whole bag of cookies as a reward. I wish I could have done more. He deserved it!

I thought it would take some major getting used to, but I'm okay with the new look. Except that now, he looks like he should be potty trained!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Family time

Over the past year, the last 5 months especially, this Hough patriarch and matriarch have pondered a LOT about our little family and all the distractions that can pull at us...even the ones that are "good" but not necessarily "best" for our eternal benefit. We're still trying to figure it out as we go, but one thing we have omitted this spring that was a huge obligation and thief of our time and energy, is baseball. It was a tough choice and one we discussed with Jake, who would have been playing competitively again this year. But he announced in January that his goal for the year was to get his Arrow of Light award in scouts. We made him aware of the fact that also participating in baseball could really complicate and even interfere with that goal as you have no idea when practices, games or tournaments are during the week or which weekends. So he felt letting go of baseball would be the better choice to make. And we couldn't have been MORE proud of Jake. There are some ADULTS who can't even distinguish between "good, better, best" and prioritizing. It's not that Jake couldn't do it all. He's the kid that is totally capable of jumping from one thing to the next and doing it well. The questions is: WHY? Why put yourself and your family through months of crazy chaos when it's not necessary. I don't want my kids to grow up thinking they have to do everything. He just turned 10. There's a quote I heard once that I like. "The Lord is not frantic and he does not wish us to be." We have nothing against sports (hello? Jared got his first Masters in Sports Medicine) and I'm not completely convinced this is the end of sports in our family (maybe recreation instead of competitive) I said, this is a work in progress for us...taking it one year and one child at a time...and I'm pretty sure it's going to get harder before it gets easier, yet it's liberating to know that we've taken that first step outside society's ring of "over scheduled families" and are spending more time focused on not just one member of the family, but the family unit as a whole. It's tricky with our callings (Jared's more than mine) and we wouldn't have it any other way. However, this is why we have felt we need to be EXTRA careful in how our time, outside of serving the Lord, is used. Time cannot be recycled. When a moment is gone, it's gone forever. I consider myself highly efficient and organized. I don't waste my time. Which is why this is so eye-opening to me and Jared. Even without baseball or any other competitive sport or major time/travel commitment for that matter, it is super difficult in finding a free Saturday or half of a free Saturday to spend together. But we're hoping to make it a monthly priority, in addition to the "outing-with-Dad" that the kids (Jake and Cooper so far) each get once a month to spend time alone with Jared, because that guy is a man in demand these days.

Okay....soap boxes aside....Last month we took the kids to the home of a single sister in our ward who spends all her free and not-so-free time caring for her aging mother in another part of town. Her yard has fallen by the wayside so for her birthday gift, we took our family to her home and we worked to cleaned up her front and back yards. We went to the tulip festival later that afternoon, which was a first for us.

Last week we went on a hike at the Hoyt Arboretum. It was a perfect day for hiking and we took Jake's scout book and identified trees and other forest plants for his forester badge while we were there. Fortunately the trail was such that we could take a stroller. Calvin was out like trout shortly after we started. I wonder if there are backpacks for kids over 2 years old. I would have carried him but our backpack is more suited for the little babies up to a year. Calvin is in that in between stage....too big for the backpack, but not quite big enough to keep up with us and we want to go on more hikes.

Look at these TREES!!! The kids got to see redwoods, cedars, and giant sequoias for the first time.

It was one of those days where both the sun and shade felt good on their own merits. You could almost feel the sun pumping invigorating shots of energy through your body when it hit your skin, totally recharging you. Then the shade felt good after you'd been warmed by the sun. Not too cold. Just right.

Along the way, I even made up new lyrics to the Primary song "Sing, Sing, Sing".
"Hike, Hike, Hike.
I like to hike.
I like to hike a trail.
Hike, Hike, Hike." And we sang it in rounds.
Whoa! Stop the presses! One cannot find artistry at this level every day (thank goodness, right?)

And one cannot pass up a super stump on which to sit and have their picture taken.

Karcyn was a champ. She didn't complain ONCE about being tired or hungry or anything else during the two hour expedition. Nor did she ask to be picked up. She hung in there to the very end. The last five minutes Calvin woke up and wanted to walk, so we got him out of the stroller. That's when Karcyn asked if she could sit in the vacant spot. She totally earned it.

Before we got home, the kids perused the book-of-hikes and took turns picking out their requested hiking destinations for next time. And now we feel one hike closer to our kids than we were before.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The weekend of 13 years and 13 miles

Friday May 7th marked 13 years of our marriage. Wow...lucky 13 ;) This was also the night of the ward Father/Son camp out. Jared couldn't go last year because we were in San Diego. Jake got to go with friends, but Cooper didn't. I really wanted them to go, but was sad that meant I would be going to the half marathon alone. I suggested maybe they could meet me at the finish line. They had til about 11:30 before they needed to be there. Jared agreed and I was satisfied with that because I knew it would be a sacrifice for Jake and Coop. Leaving early meant they wouldn't be able to play 18 holes of frisbee golf! The camp out was in North Plains, not too far from here, which was good. Due to a high adventure prep hike on Sat. 22nd when Jared has call again, he switched with Dr. Hicken this weekend because there won't be cell service available at Silver Falls and Jared really needs to go on that hike. The pager and phone would reach North Plains no problem.

Fortunately I was able to have my friend Kahli (a good friend in her first year at Pacific University) come spend the night with me, watch a chick-flick, have pizza and be here in the morning with the little kids while I ran.

I sent the men-folk off for their camping adventure around 5pm and picked up the pizzas and met Kahli here at 7pm. We had started watching TV and had a slice or two of pizza when I heard the garage door open at 7:35pm. What the?

It was Jared. But no boys.

Turns out, his pager DOES reach North Plains, but the camp ground is down in a valley and there's NO cell service. If he got paged, and he doesn't NOT get paged on a Friday, he wouldn't be able to call anyone back. They hadn't even set up camp yet when he realized this and Jared was really bummed he'd have to ruin the boys' weekend. He figured he'd take them to a movie so the night wasn't a total loss for them. Jared started explaining to Cooper what it meant for him to be on-call. Jake piped in and with a face longer than the Mississippi River and said "I know what it means. It means we have to leave." Apparently word got around and one of the dads who had a 12 man tent (and not that many boys) and 3 pizzas offered to "adopt" Jake and Cooper for the night. What a sweet and touching gesture!

Personally, I think this was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father to Jenn. I HATE going to things ALONE...especially things with BIG groups of people I don't know. Makes no sense, but it's true. It was like that even when I was little, huh Mom?

Jared went and bought anniversary milkshakes for me and Kahli and himself and we watched some TV before turning in for the night.

I wasn't nervous about running this half marathon. I just wanted it over with. Why on earth was I running it then? Good question. My friend Bev emailed me and a few others last fall and asked if anyone wanted to do this with her. I figured, I've run a 10K, a half marathon is the next step, I guess if Bev is going to do it, why not? Misery loves company after all. Bev told me you have to register at midnight though because it fills up fast. I had casually told Jared the night of the registration that if he was still awake at midnight, could he try to sign me up.

He went online a couple minutes after midnight and got me registered. I guess there is a perk to him being an "insomniac". But there's also a drawback...Bev didn't get in. Major bummer. But I was committed and wasn't going to back out. I didn't get to train for it like I wanted to because life happens and there are other bigger priorities in my life, so my only goal was to run it without stopping. (Minus potty stops because those don't count!)

I was sooooo grateful to have Jared with me. He has been my biggest fan and cheerleader. It was so fun to talk with him on the way to Champoeg State Park and to navigate where to go and to get my number on and to wait for the race to start with someone other than me, myself and I.

Jared wanted to take a "before" picture. So here I am...all fresh and perky and eager to get it behind me! (#395 and registered just minutes after midnight!) Speaking of behind...I saw the back of a lady's shirt that Jared entitled "A Runner's Prayer" or maybe "A Wanna-Be Runner's Prayer." It said, "Dear God, please let there be someone behind me to read this." I told the lady not to worry, it would probably be me.

Jared snapped a picture after the crowd started going and managed to get me in it!

I saw a few people donning shirts that said, "Courage to start, Faith to finish." Although, a little over halfway through this endurance test, I decided it takes faith to start and courage to finish. Doesn't have quite the same ring to it, but that's how it felt to me.

Another poster being waved at us as we passed said "If you're legs hurt, it's because you're kicking butt." Yeah...I liked that one!

The first 8 miles were actually okay. I did take my one and only quick pit stop after mile 8. My bladder actually raised it's hand to get my attention shortly before mile 2, but I tried ignoring it and went as long as I could. I passed Jared the last time right at mile 9 (see below). Wow, and I even managed a smile. It was the last. My real test was coming up...after mile 10 when I would hit unknown territory. I was only able to train up to 10 miles.

I was keeping an 11 minute per mile pace, which saddened me. I had been training at 10 minutes per mile. But...I just wanted to do it without stopping so I tried not to let my pace frustrate me.

Miles 11 and 12 were BRU-TAL!!! I slowed down to just over 12 minutes a mile as I figured I would. But I was having pains like never before. Figures. It was grueling and every time my feet pounded against the ground, I wasn't sure if my body would be able to keep me upright. I think it did help knowing I wasn't the only one out there...that--and going to my happy place. I'm not even sure where that is.

I marked my time on my watch when I completed mile 12. And then a few minutes later it dawned on me to check my total time. 2 hours and 19 minutes and I had been working on mile 13 for 4 minutes. I realized that if I kicked it up a notch, I might ACTUALLY come in under 2 1/2 hours. Totally slow but faster than I thought I'd be.

Out of NO WHERE...seriously, I still can't explain it, my legs started propelling my body forward at a faster pace. Where the heck did that come from?? It was almost as if my lower body were disconnected from my upper body. It was weird. I kept chanting to myself "go, go, go, go, go..." I swear running long distances is just as mental as it is physical. My body was screaming at me by this point, but it was funny because it was like it was throwing a tantrum. It would scream and I'd hurt and feel pains I didn't know I could have and then after a couple minutes, it stopped..."silence". And then it would throw a tantrum again a few minutes later.

I hit mile 13, pushed the button on my watch and I had to literally choke back tears. Omygosh, Jenn. Are you really crying?? How embarrassing. Deep down, I don't think I believed I could do it. I didn't want to approach the finish line with tears streaming down my cheeks, so I started to choke them back. Then I began having trouble breathing and that led to me hyperventilating a little bit. I was so close to being done, so I put my head down and ran as fast as I could across the pink mat that was tracking the timing chip on my shoe and there was another one, so I ran across that one too, full speed ahead. Jared said I came in SO fast, he practically missed me.

I realize now why people were yelling at me. They weren't cheering for me. They were telling me to stop. I ran right past the guy who was handing out the finishers' necklaces and finally stopped when I was well beyond free and clear of the crowd.

Fortunately it didn't take long for Jared to get to me. I just wanted to collapse. I just wanted to sit. He had to hold me up and wouldn't let me sit. He made me walk around. I couldn't walk. I think I was whimpering. We got my necklace (I really wanted a medal and how dumb is this...even the "hippie chicks" who did the quarter marathon--isn't that pretty much a 10K?--got necklaces too. Figures we'd all be winners the year I decide to do a half marathon. Am I being petty? You betchya!) Jared grabbed a couple of orange wedges for me to suck on and I kept whining about how I wanted to sit. There was a pancake breakfast for all the runners, but I told Jared, I just wanted to go home. Because then I could sit. So we did.

Oh and my time: 2 hours, 28 minutes...even. I did it and I did it WITHOUT having to walk to rest. I competed against myself and I won.

We were going to go to ward temple night because that evening appeared to be our only shot for our monthly session together. But Jared was on call, so there went that option. Since we already had a sitter, we decided that we would go to Olive Garden to help replenish some of the calories I had burned off and to celebrate our anniversary. What a novel idea.

The babysitter took this picture of us before we left. This was me after a shower, 800 mg. of motrin and a much needed nap.

I couldn't have done it without Jared...helping me train, encouraging me, giving me perspective and hope and for cheering me on the sidelines. Ironically and as a record, he never got paged Friday night. Heavenly Father knew I needed him more than our boys did.

Jared, I'd rather re-live the last 13 years of our life together than run another 13 miles!

What my son does on his day off...

I'm not sure whether to be worried, impressed, exasperated, or grateful for the innovation & ability. What really scares me...This is nuthin'--and I've got 2 more boys to follow!

Species confusion

I recently posted about there being some gender confusion with people when they encounter Calvin. Fortunately he's very aware he is a boy! All boy.

With warmer weather around the corner, we decided to have our kitty, Madras, get a summer shave yesterday. We'd never done this before and thought we were doing her, and us, a service by getting rid of that thick fur she has, for a couple of months.

She has BEAUTIFUL coloring and is soooooooooooooo soft. Here's a picture of her peacefully sleeping in the corner of the living room before I so rudely disturbed her to take her to her grooming appointment.

This is a picture of her after we first got her last year. She's put on a couple pounds of weight, but that's the only difference.

Jared went to pick her up after work. He informed me that the groomer had warned him & all of us, not to laugh at Madi. (Okay, this is an animal, people. Not a child--though the groomer did refer to Madras as my "baby" when I dropped her off and I assured the gal I had 4 babies of my own in the car and Madi was my pet. I'm sure she thought I was heartless.)

When Jared took Madras out of the carrier, I was shocked!!

Ohhhh Madi!! What have we done???

You look like a......a.....RAT!! Ugly. Somehow that's NOT what I was envisioning. I don't know about Jared, but I'm not sure I'd do it again either.

Poor thing. She probably feels totally violated and I wouldn't blame her one bit. We tried not to laugh at her, but it couldn't be helped.

Karcyn looked at her and said, "Madi got a hair cut!" Then she added, "Why is Madi brown?" She looks so different and...scrawny sick. There's not much to her when you take the fur off. Though we were at the vet a month ago and the vet confirmed she's a healthy 7 lbs.

Well....Madi....what's done, is done. And as some people try to console others regarding hair cuts gone bad--it'll grow back. However, it will be interesting to see how her fur grows back in. I've heard the coloring and patterns can change. Time will tell.

Apparently Madi's shaved fur will be donated to help in the oil spill clean up efforts. I'm sure her fur will be a monumental contribution. Instead of "locks for love", it's "fur for favors". And hopefully she will remember she's a cat and not an overgrown, fluffy-tailed rat.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May Day--unlike any day

Calvin's birthday this year was a jam-packed and somewhat dreaded day as we anticipated it and it became one for the books once it got here.

May 1, 2010.
5am...the youth met at our house for a 6am temple trip.
8am--noon...there was a combined service activity with the Farmington (our ward) and Hazeldale wards cleaning of the church building, inside and out.
9am-11am...I had to run 10 miles for my last long run in training.
3pm...Jared had a stake priesthood leadership meeting in conjunction with stake conference.
7pm...we had the adult session of stake conference, oh yeah, and I was speaking.

We knew we wouldn't be able to celebrate Calvin's birthday ON his day so we opted for Sunday. We didn't celebrate his first birthday until the 5th of May last year, so why start now?

We hit the ground running on Sat. 1st. After Jared got back from the temple trip, I got ready for my run. Unfortunately, we missed the service project at the church, but I couldn't not train. It was my last 10 mile run before my half marathon.

After my run, I was still getting over my cold and totally wiped out from that and my run. I tried to choke down lunch, but nothing sounded good. Then I realized I hadn't gotten Calvin ANYTHING for his birthday from us or my parents as they had instructed me to. Fortunately (but don't tell Calvin) we were using leftovers of the cake that was made for my birthday for his party the next day. It was after 1pm at this point and knew I had to get going if I was going to go shopping before Jared's meeting. I was also going to take advantage of not having any children and vacuum out the suburban.

On my way out of the driveway, my mom called from Scotland to wish Calvin a happy birthday. I talked to her for a little bit since Calvin was sleeping. She wanted to talk to the boys so I left my cell phone with them and left.

I got my shopping done and was cutting it close with the time, but decided to clean out the burb anyway because if I didn't do it then, I was going to regret it. I figured Jared would leave Jake in charge for the few minutes when he had to go before I got back. I would have called him to let him know I wouldn't be much longer, but I left my phone at home.

I drove up to the house at 2:55pm only to see the van was still there. I found Jared fast asleep on the bed, in his casual clothes. He fell asleep (a combo of being sick and being up at 4:30am) and figured I'd just wake him up when I got back...of course he assumed I'd be back to give him enough time to get ready for his meeting. He practically jumped off the bed and got ready in record time. I apologized profusely. I hate being late to meetings. He was very gracious about it all...mentioning something like "that's what opening songs are for." I asked him if he'd pick up a pizza on the way home for the kids to eat for dinner so that I would have one less thing to think about and he said he would.

While he was gone, I wrapped gifts, bathed the kids, got the house tidied up, practiced my conference talk one last time and got ready to go.

Jared came home around 5pm but without pizza. In his rush to get out of the house for meeting #1, he forgot his wallet. So he jumped online and ordered a pizza from Papa Johns to be delivered. The babysitter arrived and we gave instructions regarding the pizza and tip and bedtimes and left around 6:15pm so I could get to the stake center for the prayer meeting.

All went well during the adult session. I was actually one of the first speakers and was glad to get the talk over with so I could focus on the others who followed. I noticed Jared got up twice after I spoke. He was on call, so I wasn't surprised.

When the meeting was over and I finally made my way up to him, he said we had to go home and repent to our children. Jake called (one of those times Jared left the chapel) at 8:20pm (bedtime was 8) and told Jared that the pizza STILL hadn't shown up. It should have been there by 6:30--at the latest. I didn't even want to know why they were just now calling about it. Jared told Jake to tell the sitter that we approved of them having cereal for dinner and then they needed to go to bed. Jared told me, in his haste, he must have forgotten to select the option of "delivery" when he ordered the pizza.

So we hustled out of the crowd quickly to go find our kids' dinner. It was there alright, awaiting "carry out". I'm just glad they were still open. When we got home, I found out my babies (Karcyn and Calvin) went to bed at 7:30 like I had asked, but with no dinner. I was heartbroken. I've never put my little ones to bed without eating. And poor Calvin...on his BIRTHDAY no less!

After we took the babysitter home, I told Jared I was waking all the kids up so they could eat. We got Jake up, but Cooper refused. He had eaten anyway, so I wasn't concerned about him. I was able to get Calvin up but Karcyn was OUT like TROUT, man. We brought her out in the light and did everything shy of dumping cold water on her to wake her up and she would not do it. So we laid her back down and hoped hunger wouldn't wake her up in the middle of the night.

This is how Calvin ended his 2nd birthday. Pizza at 9pm.

Look at that FACE! So sweet and forgiving.

I wish I could say that was the END of our May 1st. But it wasn't. As we were finishing up our pizza, we suddenly realized we couldn't find Madras, our cat. She has been an indoor cat since day one over a year ago. She's never been outside before. We scoured our house, high and low just to be sure and she wasn't in "her" spots. She usually comes as soon as she hears you or her food and neither were being effective. And if she's stuck in a room or closet and wants out, she'll start meowing and pawing at the door. We were stumped! How could she have gotten out? The pizza guy never came. Jared called our babysitter who said they saw the cat not too long before we got home. A short time later, Jake recalled that the two little kids got outside in the backyard undetected for a while. The babysitter got them back in, but that must have been when Madi got out. So we went out back and called for her and looked in a couple of places for her. No Madi. I was already in my PJs but went out front and called for her out there. I walked down the street in both directions calling for her. Two cats came when I called, but no Madras. She's such a sweet kitty that I figured someone must have taken her in.

When I got back inside, Jake said he wanted to say a prayer. So we had him offer it. He prayed that Madi would be alright and that we would find her quickly. We sent Jake to bed and put Calvin back to bed and I wandered into the kitchen to shut everything down. I stood at the back door one last time, perplexed about the whole situation. I left the back porch light on for Madi, just in case. That's when I saw 2 "shining" eyes staring at me from behind the new shed we just got across the yard. I opened the door and called, "Madi?? Is that you?" The cat came towards me slowly. Then stopped. I called her to come. And then she started running. It was her!! We couldn't believe it! We had been in the backyard several times already. Maybe she wasn't there when we were. Who knows. Regardless, it was super cool that Jake's prayer was answered, just as he asked that it would be. And we were finally able to go to bed, at peace, to end a very long day.

Gender confusion

So for the past 3 weeks, Jared and I have both been complimented on how cute and adorable our baby girl is. *sigh* Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, usually green, gray or blue, with a red jacket & brown shoes...our 2-year-old is NOT a she, he's a he! I don't care how long his hair is, I'm NOT cutting his curls.

Does he REALLY look like a girl??

He's just barely 2. We didn't cut Cooper's curls until he was a month shy of 3. But that was because he scared us. Calvin would probably be really good for his first hair cut. I'm just not ready to go there yet.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tulip festival newbies

I know, I know. We've lived here as students for 2 years and as employed citizens for 3 1/2 years. And we almost didn't make it to the tulip festival this year. Our weekends are substantially busy and when Jared and I calendar a month or two in advance, I can't help but see my life flash before my eyes when you look at it in terms of weekends!

On this day, I had 9 miles to run in preparation for the much dreaded half marathon I'm doing in two days. I had only gone 8 miles twice before attempting the 9. Then we had plans to go do yard work for a single sister in our ward who is caring for her aging mother and never has time for herself, let alone her yard, and it was her birthday the next day. So that was my gift to her...our family yard service.

After that, Jared was off on a two hour bike ride with friends, planning to get back with just enough time to shower so we could head down to Woodburn. My friend Stephanie mentioned taking family pictures we could put in our family frame on the wall that haven't changed since last March. That was the plan. Pictures stress me out as it is, though, and I worried that Karcyn wouldn't cooperate. When you need her to face the camera is when she avoids it the most. It's uncanny.

Right before Jared got home, it was hailing and a huge downpour came through the area. Weather was not on our side for this trip south. But in Oregon, you just have to go and can't let the weather stop you. So we loaded up the rain boots and jackets.

We got poured on in a couple spots on the way down, but once we got there, aside from being very windy and a little chilly, the weather was great. There were a few large standing puddles in the fields but we just walked around them. Unless you're Cooper and then he gets as close to the edge as possible hoping he doesn't fall in. Which we later spoke to him about and compared that to the people in Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life. The people who can't hold on to the iron rod because they're too close to the edge and flirt with the danger of falling into the river below.

Stephanie graciously took pictures of our family first. The fields were HUGE and so pretty.

People have since told me there was a lot of variety to the flowers this year than in years past. It was still pretty windy but the sun was out and it felt good. Unfortunately for the Hough family, Karcyn wasn't the problem this year, it was Calvin. Good grief. If it's not one of them, it's another. I think we're just going to skip family pictures from now on and just go with individual shots. These are pictures we took with our own camera.







We took pictures of Stephanie's family and all the kids among the flowers. I think it ended up being too sunny for the right lighting for fancy schmancy pictures, but what Stephanie doesn't realize is that we're NOT picky! I can't wait to see how her shots turned out.

We walked to the other side of the field towards the exit but had another haul back to the parking lot. My butt and leg muscles were starting to speak to me and they weren't saying nice things. Jared's bike ride was making him a little sore too. So...Jake flagged down a cart that goes between the field and parking lot and asked the operator if he had room for 6 (Steph and her family were still in the field). He did and Jake and Cooper even got to help drive it!

We met the Morgans at Burgerville for dinner on our way home and then parted our ways. And now we can say we've been to the tulip festival!


Jake has been on a dragon kick for a while...since reading the Eragon series when school started.

Recently he got the idea of drawing a dragon in sections. More because he only had access to regular sheets of paper. He somehow landed himself a long piece of paper that became the dragon's breathing fire first and the rest of the dragon he drew in 9 more pieces.

Jake showed his principal and voila! The dragon ended up on the wall at school.

Well, monkey see, monkey do. Cooper had to do the same thing. So he did. And voila! His lands on the wall right next to Jake's.

The librarian told me that as often as the boys are going to share their talents, the school is going to showcase them. I thought that was sweet. But I told her to watch out! That's a risky open invitation. Especially for my overly confident boys.

Road trip

Jared decided a while back that he would need a break in March but managed to swing it the beginning of April. He planned to drive down to Utah with Jake and Cooper. They were going to visit Jared's brother and family in Lehi and go to General Conference for the first time in the Conference Center. Jared was taking Thursday through Monday off and with that much time, I thought about crashing the road trip so we could all go, but that contemplation lasted only about 10 seconds. It would be good for the boys to be with just their dad and each other and their cousins without the little ones dictating how long or where we did something, traveling arrangements, etc. I wanted this to be a break for them too. Jared also figured he would be taking the suburban and didn't exactly ask me. He acts like he owns it because he's paying for it or something :) I of course let them take it because apparently a suburban IS the road trip. I'm not THAT controlling, people!

They left early April 1st. At 5am. I had 5 miles to run so I stayed up to see them off but it was so early and I didn't NEED to be up so I actually debated about crawling back in bed. As the garage door lowered, I walked into the kitchen and saw Jared's cell phone charging on the counter. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Then I freaked out and ran to the front door to try and flag Jared down but he had just passed my line of sight. And my heart sank mightily as I watched him drive off without any way to contact me or his family while traveling. I was pretty upset, mostly because there was nothing I could do. Not one thing. I racked my brain for the first five minutes trying to think of ANYTHING I could do to help or send him a signal. So I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to CONTACT JARED, to make him notice that he forgot his phone and if it was convenient to let him know sooner rather than later so he could still come back and get it. And because my adrenaline was pumping, I couldn't go back to sleep even though I wanted to so I painfully got dressed and started the dreaded 5 miles on the treadmill. Forty-five minutes into my run, near the end, I was startled by the opening of the garage. And smiled gratefully and relieved. Jared said he was on the other side of Portland when he started thinking about calling me later and realized he didn't have his phone with him. I was much lighter after he left the second time. It seems silly, since we grew up without having cell phones, but when you're traveling on the road and in different states and for FIVE days, it sure puts this wife at ease.

On Friday, Jared took the boys up to Salt Lake City to Temple Square.

They saw the temple.

And though this platform is used primarily by newly married couples, I thought it was sure cute. Not only do my boys have their arms around each other, they are sporting genuine smiles.

They saw the Christus statue in the North Visitor's Center. Jake actually called me in an excited whisper to tell me where they were at the time (yea for cell phones!)

They visited the Tabernacle--where Conference used to be held in the good 'ol days.

And from the Church Office Building they were able to see the State Capitol from above.

In addition to the amazing Conference Center

and one more view of the temple.

Jared forgot the camera in the car when they went to the Sunday afternoon session of conference, but the boys had an amazing experience and that's all that matters. They also loved spending time with their cousins. Easter was a bonus. Back at home, I had a delightfully low key and super conference weekend with just the babies. No commercial Easter celebrating here. Karcyn and Calvin would never know the difference! And less work for me.

The boys made it back Monday evening and my baby, I mean the 'burb, was still intact and unharmed, and Jared's cell phone was accounted for!