More Montana 2016

The rest of the week was jam packed. Did I mention that the Dehaven’s came to visit? They always bring the fun. And Jeff shared his pictures too!

 

We rodeo’d in Livingston…

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We creeked…

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Which lead to a lot of this….

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Do you see the fish right in front of Baylor?!

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And after taking a year off from our last Yellowstone Park visit, we again braved the winding roads with all 7 of us. This trip went far better and we even made it all the way to Old Faithful without murdering each other and only one person vomiting. Success!

Stephanie studying the warnings carefully…

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The amazing Grand Prismaticsimg_4923

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I’m so bummed – the colors of the pools are amazing – but it was barely 32 degrees and so the steam made it hard to see.img_4962img_4987

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A tourist died earlier this year jumping into one of these pools. It’s so hot, by the next morning, they could only find a few bones….img_5086

We also got to see the Beehive Geyser. It’s less predictable than Old Faithful, erupts for a shorter period of time but is as intense. Plus you can get a lot closer!

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And the Old Faithful Lodge was fantastic. At 112 years old, it’s seen some amazing history. Also I’m sure it’s haunted.

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And it wouldn’t be Montana without visiting the Long’s for some horseback riding lessons. The girl’s favorite, Duke, was donated to a school to be a therapy horse. They get reports once in awhile about how happy he is to be ridden every day! Thankfully the ladies were happy to give Heidi a try – and they now have a new favorite.

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Auggie is still not sure he’s a fan

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Auggie with the safety checkimg_9918

And we drove kids and a dog around in a gater. While taking selfies. This looks safe, right?

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Montana; Water, Parading and Celebrating

A little catch up from earlier this year…!

When we finally landed home in Arizona, I realized how physically exhausted I was…but how refreshed my brain felt! I think that sums up a good Montana vacation – physically hard, mentally great.

We packed a LOT into our two weeks!

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I don’t think anyone enjoys the river as much as this fur faceIMG_4853IMG_4864IMG_4867IMG_4861

How pretty is Chico Hot Springs? The water in the pool is fed by a natural hot spring – the water is about 103 degrees. It’s strange to swim in a hot tub but a good strange.

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The Fourth of July Parade in Livingston is one of my favorite things. Seriously, how cute is this town?

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This guy’s style is so on point. He is obsessed with Baylor’s hand me down boots.IMG_9690

Patiently waiting.IMG_9712IMG_9699

Less patiently waiting.IMG_9713IMG_9746

There’s either a firetruck, ambulance, forest service vehicle or farm machine coming…IMG_9733

This guy lassoing these crazies was hilarious. I think I need one. IMG_9742

They even made the local paper! This was the picture on page 7 of the Livingston Enterprise.

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Children wait along Main Street for the next float handing out candy during the Livingston Roundup Parade, Saturday afternoon.

We spent the 4th at the lodge celebrating with all our friends and family. And of course, we have our annual flag picture.

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Gorgeous sunsets waiting for fireworks.IMG_9839

Baylor is not a fan of sparklers.IMG_4846

But Auggie is!IMG_4848IMG_4875

Auggie got to go on his first rafting trip down the Yellowstone! It was with our friends at Wild West Rafting and as usual, it was a boat full of fun. IMG_4714IMG_4717IMG_4724

Easter 2016

As we drove to mass this morning, Baylor and Auggs each told us what Easter meant. They talked about how Jesus died because He loves us so much. How He opened the gates of Heaven and then how He rose from the dead. It was so sweet to hear them speak about our faith so perfectly.

After yet another amazing brunch at my mom’s, we headed over to her friend and neighbor’s house. Joyce offered up her yard for an egg hunt. It was like being in a secret garden!

IMG_9217IMG_9231IMG_9220IMG_9229IMG_9242IMG_9245IMG_9248IMG_9251 (2)Happy Easter!

Rockin’ and Rollin’ 2016

When you live near the Rock and Roll Marathon route, you can either try to get around the marathon, run it, or find away to enjoy it! We chose the last option and joined our friends, the B Family, for their annual water station. They are literally on the route so they are blocked in – which is a great excuse to hand out water and turn it into a party.

We rode our bikes over to their house and realized that this was a well oiled machine. Tables with cups and a system for filling and then refilling the water jugs was in place. Not to mention a great spread of breakfast and bloody marys for the volunteers. It wasn’t long until the first few runners came by, then the big waves came. It was so neat seeing the various kinds of runners – everyone was working hard. The sweetest thing was that so many runners not only slowed down, but some stopped to take the water from the kids and thank them for being there to cheer and hydrate. It was so cute to see the excitement on the kids faces.

Cutest helpers ever

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The waiting

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Someone has to drink the champs and bloodies

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Working hard!

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Towards the end, the kids handed out little candies too. It was a very sought after position

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Congratulations to everyone that ran! And thank you to all the runners who took time to say thank you, you made a lot of little kids very happy!

More Christmas

I want more Christmas. I want more nights snuggled on the couch, watching holiday movies. More cinnamon candles. More holiday parties. More Christmas cards. More excuses to make and eat a lot of sugar cookies. I’m not ready for it to be over!

And here’s why…we had a great Christmas season:

We visited Santa’s workshop

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Rode the camels at Zoo LightsIMG_2701 Someone insisted on going by herselfIMG_2699Braved the lines at the Train Park with our friends, the D family, for the 4th (we think…) year in a row!

(I swear those kids were happier than they look in the picture…apparently waiting for an hour to ride the train took it’s toll…)

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Made some super awesome cookies for Santa. Note the difference in Baylor and Auggie’s decorating technique.

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And celebrated with the whole family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

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FullSizeRenderI know by the end of the week I’ll be ready to pack it all up and be ready to be done. But for now, I’m soaking up every last minute.

Thanksgiving Prep

I think for the last two Thanksgivings, someone in our house has been sick. And this year, sadly, is no exception. Baylor started running a fever over the weekend and it is still going. Now Auggs has decided to join her. I’m currently spraying them and their room with Lysol while they nap and simultaneously popping zinc.

All the care taking and a lack of recovery from Peter being gone for SEVEN DAYS (more on his hunting trip later when I’ve recovered from my adventure in solo parenting) has left me with a little less zeal for Thanksgiving this year. It kind of feels like it’s snuck up on me. And I can’t summon the excitement I usually have for entertaining. However, the show must go on and as Peter pointed out, you can’t reinvent the wheel on Thanksgiving, which should make it easier to tackle. None the less, there’s still a very long list of things to get done before our 18 hungry guests arrive. Here’s what I’m doing to keep the urge to say screw it and open a bottle of wine for some day drinking:

1. Scale Back

We typically have dinner outside at the great table PW built for me a few years ago. But getting the patio, plants, table, table cloths, string lights, heaters, etc ready is a lot of extra work. So we decided to move inside. This might prove to be a terrible idea later, but it’s allowing me a lot less work on the front end so that’s a good thing. Prioritizing your to do list and or editing it is essential.

2. Create A Lot of Lists

I’m a list person any way, but the holidays call for many more lists and a lot more detail. I started a spreadsheet last year with tabs for each topic: guests, food, grocery list and a few recipes. That way I only have to amend each tab instead of redoing all the work. Keeping them each separate allows you to separate your thoughts and print each one individually.

3. Schedule 

I start a schedule about 2 weeks out based on how much work I need to do. I try to divide all the tasks so that I can do a few each day. This leaves a lot of room for last minute stuff and GASP! maybe even some down time. Starting ahead on cleaning votive holders, stemware, locating serving pieces, ironing napkins, etc is all essential to not loosing your mind the day before.

4. Ask For Help

Everything from some child care to bringing various dishes, ask for help. Most guests like to participate so let them bring their favorite dish. Just be sure to prioritize oven space and time for baking off vs reheating. Use crockpots for things like potatoes, sweet potatoes and green beans.

5. If You Can’t Ask, Buy Some Help

It’s often worth not only your sanity but your time to pay for some help. Yard maintenance, house keeping, professional laundering of linens, window washing and even store bought dinner are all great ways to make everything come together AND actually enjoy yourself!

 

 

Halloween Recap

Better late than never, yes? Totally worth it when you see Auggie in his Olaf costume.

Trunk Or Treat was bigger and better than ever! We had the “party section” with an extra space for chairs, pizza and umm, we’ll call it juice.

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It was 90 degrees so Olaf was not happening. Good thing his Fireman costume from last year still worked (with the hem ripped out anyway…).IMG_8019 IMG_8021 IMG_8014The C Family haunted truck!

IMG_8016 IMG_8026It’s such a bummer no one was dressed as Elsa…

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Too much juice

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Actual Halloween was cooler…but still involved me cutting Olaf’s sleeves off

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I always get really excited to carve pumpkins. Then the reality hits when we sit down to get to work and realize that the kids can’t use the knives. Thankfully B was happy to sort out the seeds for roasting.

If I was a nicer mom, I would let them draw something and then I would carve it. But how can they deny me when I have such talent?!

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Happy Birthday Auggie!

I can’t believe that this guy is already TWO. The saying goes that the days are long and the years are short and that couldn’t be more true with this guy. It feels like yesterday that I was dropping B at school and heading to the hospital.

We celebrated the birthday boy with a fra-mly party with a construction theme and I have to say, it came out pretty awesome. I think the birthday boy wasn’t the only one who had fun!

Who knew blue prints made such cute and easy table cloths.

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Fun party favors

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Ready to par-tay!

IMG_7866CHEEEESSSEEEEE!

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His home made cake didn’t turn out too shabby

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It’s too bad they don’t look like us….

IMG_7895Happy birthday Auggie boy! You are such a crack up and bring so much happiness to our lives. Please stop growing so fast!

Yellowstone Adventures

Our Yellowstone adventure as a group of 7 looked more like the Griswalds headed to Wally World. We were packed into our rental SUV…but still, 7 people is a lot to squish into one vehicle. Not to mention Auggie was a particularly unhappy camper that day. We also imposed a “no electronics rule”. No iphone or ipad games. We were in nature, dammit. And everyone was going to look out the window and enjoy it by God.

We also had a loaned “Audio Tour through Yellowstone” CD. It. Was. Awesome. Mostly because for every feature that it described, it usually included a cautionary tale that was less cautionary for us and much more hilarious. It went something like:

And that brings me to the story of little Andy Shmandy from Portland Oregon and his dog Moosey. While visiting Noris Gysier, Moosey left the boardwalk and jumped into one of the boiling pools. Andy, defied those around that were trying to restrain him and jumped in after Moosey. He was able to climb out, but was severely burned over 90% of his body. While first responders were removing his clothing, his skin came off with it. He was transported to Salt Lake City where he later died. His last words were “that was pretty stupid, huh?”. 

No really. I’m not making it up.

The stories were so gruesome, they were hilarious. We were sure to remind each other often about each victim often. Stay on the boardwalk kids! You don’t want to be the next Andy Shmandy!

Warning: picture overload ahead

I love that you immediately see elk when you drive into the park. They are really really close to the cars and you realize how big these guys are.

(Side note: run fast little elkies! Please don’t come home to my home in the stuffed form!)

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First stop: Noris geysers. But first, a warning illustration. Who the hell draws these?

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Everyone of these pools is hotter than the boiling point of water. But they don’t bubble because of the altitude. The color comes from a special form of bacteria that only survives in super hot water.IMG_7278It’s like the surface of the moon

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IMG_7303 IMG_7305 IMG_7318We caught one of the geysers going off

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The Griswalds Do Yellowstone!

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Not the happiest camper….

IMG_7291  But he does like a camera so that helps – take a look at his shoes. He loves them because they look just like “dada’s”, but he wears them between his second toes!

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“Pose in front of the boiling hot water!!”

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The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is amazing. The only problem is that it never looks real in pictures. The dads win parent of the year award for carrying each girl UP the 200+ steps from the bottom of the canyon. Jeff still can’t feel his shoulder. Auggie fell asleep in the car so someone had to hang back and nap with him. I was happy to fill that position.

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These two kill me.

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Can you see the lip gloss on her eyes??IMG_7332

We did pretty well with the wildlife sightings. This guy was just off the road scratching his head on a tree. It was awesome. IMG_7264 IMG_7269
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We passed a horse drawn wagon. Some go out for tours, others for overnight camp outs and they are original to the park.

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The wildfire devastation is still very visible. Some is very old – from the fires in the late 80’s. Some is more recent.  I was really surprised to learn that they don’t thin the forest to prevent large fires. They found after the “Summer of Fire” that a lot of the pine cones will only open when introduced to the extreme heat of forest fires, thus self regenerating the forest. IMG_7355 IMG_7365

Baylor and Morgan had the way back seat to themselves. They are fold down seats so they were a little isolated in the back. At one point they asked the moms for lip gloss. We made the mistake of not asking for it back. Eventually we looked back and realized they had “done” their hair and used some of the lip gloss as eye shadow. Then they passed out.

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Traveling Friends

My friend Beth M always catogorizes friends into three groups: friends, good friends and friends you would travel with. The last group is the biggest complement because it means that you like your friend enough to spend tons of time together for days on end.

We are so lucky that we have lots of friends that fall into that last catagory. And this summer, we were lucky enough to have our friends, the D family, came to visit us in Montana. As if we couldn’t love this family more, after sharing a glass of wine in Big Sky Country really put it over the top.

One of the best parts of having them visit was that their daughter, Morgan, shacked up in Baylor and Auggie’s room each night. And they. all. slept. Like all night. So clearly we have to move in together.

We did a little of everything – rafting, hiking (well, tried to, that’s a long story), Yellowstone Park, roamed around Livingston, and just enjoyed laughing with each other. It was a fantastic week!

I can’t stand this picture. It kills me. The girls are THRILLED to be playing the hardest game of Go Fish (no numbers, only names, they can’t read. You get the picture.) ever and Jeff is physically in pain over it. I’m laughing as I type.

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 I’m not sure what this is about…but I like it

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 Someone finally finally won the game and put poor Jeff out of his misery

photo 3 (43)More to come on our Griswald-esk trip through Yellowstone National Park.