Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Project B.S.E. Week Four - Tuesday

More driving today, although it wasn't as exhausting as it would have been with kids in the car. Ryan has this way of not constantly demanding that I find things he's dropped on the ground, he doesn't fight with anyone sitting next to him, he doesn't decide to hate a movie when everyone else in the car wants to watch it, he doesn't wait to announce his full bladder until just after we pass the only gas station for forty miles. In short, Ryan is an excellent driving companion.

We left Kalispell and drove about half an hour or so to the west entrance of Glacier National Park. We decided almost immediately after we got there that all of the driving was totally worth it--the place is stunning. There's really no way to describe how pretty it is, so I'll just shut up and show you the pictures. (Which don't do it justice, by the way, and also you can't smell how the whole place smells like pine and wood smoke. And occasionally diesel. But mostly pine and wood smoke.)

Project B.S.E. Week Four, Monday

New week, big plans. I was awarded a research fellowship for the summer and part of the award was money to help me go to the Mormon History Association conference in Calgary. Ryan decided to come with me, so this week we're driving to Calgary via Glacier National Park in Montana. My brother Tim gets to have special uncle time with the kids. Lucky him!! (No, really, lucky us!!)

So Ryan and I left Utah for a 10 hour drive to Kalispell, Montana. I've never been further north in Utah than Lagoon so I was interested to see what northern Utah and Idaho look like. Turns out, the two or three hours north of Salt Lake are pretty much identical to the two or three hours south of Orem. No red rocks, but lots of brown rolling hills. Idaho started to get greener and cooler as we drove north, but the real green showed up in Montana. Man! That place is pretty! Outside of Missoula we hit real mountains, covered in pine trees. Every time we turned a corner, one of us would say, "Oh wow! Look at that!" And it'd be more trees, or more mountains, or some water, or whatever. Eventually we got to Polson and that's where the real scenery started. I was really wishing that this whole area was about five hours closer, so I could come back with the kids. It's really gorgeous.

While we were doing all that driving, Tim got the lucky job of taking Darcey to the Princess Festival. It's this event at Thanksgiving Point where little girls dress up like princesses and walk around the garden grounds and meeting grown-up princesses and hearing them tell their stories. She went last year and loved it--one year older and her appreciation of the event was even greater. Tim was nice enough to send me some pictures.

 How does a girl learn to pose like this?? Look at the way her feet are pointed. So cute!

Again with the posing. Sheesh! Quit being so adorable when I'm not there!

Darcey (and her father, incidentally) love these pictures where you stick your head in a cutout. I'm pretty sure we have the same ones from last year's event.

She did some face painting and got her hair done as well.

Project B.S.E. Week Three

Coming off of two fairly busy weeks, week three was time to take a breather. My dad's theory of good traveling is three days on, one day off. Maybe the day off is a travel day, but after two or three solid days of sightseeing, touristing, or whatever vacational merriment you do, you need to regroup for a day and get your energy back. And then you can dive in with reckless abandon again. So this was our week of regrouping.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Project B.S.E. Week Two

The train started going off the rails this week. Okay, it went off the rails pretty seriously. The problem was overscheduling. As a rule, I generally do not schedule the kids too heavily, not because I'm worried about burning out my kids at a young age or stressing them with the rigors of an adult-type to-do list, but because it stresses me out to have to get them everywhere. The kids all get to do a sport or a class or a musical instrument, but usually one per kid at a time. It usually works out great--Ryan or I can attend every game or performance or whatever and no one feels unduly burdened. But this week was the perfect storm of extracurricular activities: Darcey had her final dance performances (Friday and Saturday, plus a dress rehearsal on Thursday), Zack had two baseball games (and one was picture day), Brad had three baseball games and round table for scouts, and Ryan was with Noah in Los Angeles to watch the DC Street League Pro Skateboarding Tour.

By Sunday, anyone with a Geiger counter in my vicinity would have been alarmed at the level of nuclear meltdown I was going through. I was an absolute wreck. Fortunately, my brother Tim was around to shuffle some kids to some of their places, so no one missed being anywhere they needed to be. Except me, maybe. I should possibly have been in a padded room. Because they still needed to eat dinner and have clean clothes and it's possible that Zack went four days without a bath...There's no way to do it all, and the idea that parents should sacrifice themselves on the altars of their children's interests  is dangerously unhealthy. Okay, rant over. 

Fortunately, this is the only week in the whole year where all four kids' things collide, and we all survived it, Zack eventually bathed and Darcey eventually got to sleep earlier than 11 pm, Ryan eventually came home and I eventually stopped shooting lasers from my eyeballs when people ventured into my line of sight. Needless to say, this is a blip in my Best.Summer.Ever. plans, but that's okay. We'll survive this too.

Despite the chaos, I managed to take some pictures:

 Zack's 8th birthday was June 10th. He got a lot of Legos. This made him quite happy.

He requested an ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins. This cake came with two mini-cones on top. I asked the Scoop Master behind the counter if he'd consider selling me two more mini-cones, so as to avoid bloodshed at our son's birthday party. He obliged.

And it worked. See the lack of tears? Amazing.

This is Brad in Ryan's Biker Scout costume. He's still a couple of inches shorter than me, but not for long.

A bird flew into our screen door. It was cute and tiny and we rushed outside to take it's picture, only to discover that it pooped on the porch before it hopped away. Stupid nature.

Now this is a sad, painful story. Brad parked the riding lawnmower in the garage but forgot to take the bag off to empty the grass clippings. He reached over to remove it, and accidentally leaned his knee against the hot motor. The other knee got burned too as he used it to push away from the searing metal. This would have been just another kid-who-hurt-himself kind of thing, except that the next day at his baseball game he stole home and had to slide into home base. The bandage protecting his burn was scraped off his knee, along with most of the dead skin covering the burn. I have never seen a kid try so hard not to cry as Brad did that night at his game. But no, he toughed it out, we re-bandaged it, and he went back in the game. He scored twice that night, and the team won 9-7, so it was worth it. I think.

The kids got bored one day (during the fifteen minutes that we didn't have three places to be) and decided to play with the camera. The above picture and this one of Zack are courtesy of Brad.

Then Zack got the camera and took a bunch of pictures of his Lego men. I included this picture because of the band-aid on his finger. Zack went to cub scout day camp and bought a pocketknife. He immediately came home and cut two of his fingers. Add this to the cut on his hand from his brother's cub scout pocketknife, and I determined that maybe Zack isn't quite ready for weapons yet.

Darcey's turn with the camera. I love her toes in this picture.

The inside of an empty cup.

The obligatory, nose-enhancing self-portrait.

That's me, stuffing envelopes for the Star Wars sticker business.  Surprisingly, I don't hate this picture.

Darcey's Father's Day present, which she made a month ago at preschool and hid in her room. It was so special that she took it out of its hiding place to take a picture, but then forgot to actually give it to Ryan on Father's Day.

Tim's tablet, which she calls a tiblet, and now we call a Timlet. She loves her electronics, although I think she's an Apple girl at heart.

Brad's caught the vision of Project: Best.Summer.Ever. Following a long tradition of stingy mothers, I generally ignore the siren song of the Ice Cream Truck. (Although one friend of mine told her children that when the truck plays music, it means they are out of ice cream. Brilliant. But I'm not that hard-core.) Brad heard the music and said, "Mom, it's the Best.Summer.Ever. We have to get ice cream from the ice cream truck!" I handed him $5 and told him to help Darcey buy something.

Did this Bratz-head popsicle make this the Best.Summer.Ever? Possibly.

Darcey at the dress rehearsal. How do girls know how to pose like this, for maximum cuteness?

The dress rehearsal was kind of a mess; the girls seemed to only vaguely recall the dance they had been practicing for the last three months.

But these Mexican Princesses were sure cute.

I don't have pictures of the actual performance, but whatever kinks Darcey had in the rehearsal she totally worked them out before the final show on Saturday. She practiced at home with me many times, so I spent both performances muttering "Shuffle-step. Now go back. Open, close, open, close. Pick up your hat. Don't twirl! It's not time for twirling!" I guarantee I was more nervous than she was.

Zack's baseball team photo. Okay, well, half the team. He doesn't know any of the kids on the team, so I didn't feel obligated to buy the actual team photo. I only care about the one kid, the cute one on the front row. :)

If I linked this correctly, then beneath this text is a Youtube video of Darcey's dress rehearsal. Like I said, not as polished as the final show, but in all, not too shabby. (They actually danced two numbers; the first was a fiasco at the rehearsal, so I'm not posting it. Just in case she ends up on So You Think You Can Dance in thirteen years, I don't want this video from when she was five and forgot to move to her mark and another girl had to shove her out of the way to be part of the retrospective on Darcey's dance career. She can thank me later.)