Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Triple Surprise

The Plan: Quiet weekend alone with Dixon while Mike and the girls camp at Tony Grove with Matt & his girls.

The Reality: Impromptu 13 hour drive with 5 children to The Dalles, OR, where 27 people (18 of which were mostly small children) were crammed into a 3 bedroom, split level home with a two-tent overflow in the backyard.

Emily had flown to Mom & Dad's for a couple of weeks, and after Matt had to cancel the camping trip, we decided to take advantage of having a little time off and surprise everyone in Oregon. So what was supposed to be my quiet weekend was anything but, but I wouldn't change it for anything!

Because I had SO MANY pictures that I wanted to post,
I figured putting them in collages was the way to go! Officially on our way on Wed. morning!
I have a quote on my wall from Pres. Hinckley that says, "In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." Normally I'm pretty anal about not stopping and just getting to my destination as fast as possible, but I decided to take that advice to heart and take it easy this time and enjoy the journey. We made several stops along the way (mostly for peeing and nursing), but it was really one of the nicer trips we've been on. It "only" took us and extra 3 hours to get there, but thanks to a nice man who asked the girls to pet his dog, lots of grass to run around on, Walmart's $1 aisle in Mountain Home, ID, and Redboxes along the route, my blood pressure never once got close to causing an aneurysm.

I *HEART* surprises!!!!

So we kept it our little secret that we were making the trip to Grandma & Grandpa's. In fact, the day before we left, Emily and the kids had a layover in SLC, so she asked Meredith & I to meet her for a visit since we hadn't seen each other in a couple of years--plus she needed to meet the new babies. We left with wishes that we had more time to spend together, and questions about when we'd see each other again. Imagine her surprise when we arrived on the doorstep the next night! We pulled into The Dalles at about 7pm, and that's when our plan went into action! Mike quickly put Dixon on the front porch and rang the bell, then we ran around the house to the garage and snuck in from the basement. Bria was the first to get to the door, and after opening it yelled, "There's a baby at the door! There's a baby at the door!" Dad came next, looked around and said, "Okay, Amanda, where are you?" Then we all came up the stairs and yelled, "Surprise!" Mom was gone visiting teaching, but saw our SUV on the way home. She said she noticed the door logo and thought someone else had a logo like ours, but after she walked inside she put two & two together. Emily, of course, was ecstatic and a little mad that we had tricked her. I was proud of my girls for keeping such a great secret!

Secret #2 came on Friday morning when I let the Lowe family in at 5 am. They had planned on coming up with us, but had some work issues to iron out. Mom woke up first, thinking it was my kids making all the noise, but had to do a double take when she saw Meredith, Tyler and the boys sitting in the living room with me. Dad's reaction was even better as he had to physically lift his jaw off the floor! Emily came out--again, mad that she was duped--but so happy to see everyone there!

Secret #3 came when we were congregated in the kitchen and Mom told Dad he needed to sit down...he looked at Emily pleadingly, but Julianne dashed any hopes he had with one little smile, announcing she was expecting #8. I think his heart actually stopped, and I know he stopped breathing for an extended period of time. Good thing that was it for surprises--I don't think he could've survived another one! (But I sure enjoyed it!)
The Garden of Weedin'

John Deere Green

Dad decided that his lawn was 1/8" too long, so he'd better get the tractor out to mow before it looked too scraggly. The kids, of course were THRILLED when Grandpa let them take turns driving. They all lined up on the retaining wall, eagerly awaiting their trip around the yard. Wes was totally in his element, though he told Grandpa he wanted to use the push mower instead.

Kings' Got Talent!

We had a family talent show on the back lawn the last night we were there. This was the most animated I think I've ever seen Dad, and it was fun that the adults got in on it, too.

Kids' Got Talent, Too!
Talents ranged from ballet & gymnastics, to Karate-ish stuff and a back-walk. We also heard poetry, singing, joint popping and some really cool techno-jamming! Popcicles were mandatory and the evening was BEAUTIFUL!

The Way Home
We had a great time on our impromptu surprise visit to Oregon. The trip home was good, with lots of stops and even a sit-down meal. Wish we could've stayed longer, but now it's back to Utah where I get to do laundry, laundry, laundry! My favorite. Maybe next time I'll get a surprise of my own & the laundry fairies will get it all done for me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Yesterday, All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away

Yesterday was a great day. Despite the fact that I was running on about 4 1/2 hours of sleep (thank you, my son), I didn't really start to get ornery until it was the girls' bedtime which is my normal ornery hour. So, considering all I packed into the day, I'd say it wasn't too bad!

I started off getting out of bed at 6:30. (Notice I said "get out of bed" not "woke up"--again, thank you, my son.) At 6:45, I hopped in the car to pick up my friend, Jen, who was taking me to my first produce co-op called Bountiful Baskets. Ironically, my sister Emily told me about it in an email the same day Jen told me about it, so I was intrigued at the thought of paying $15 for about $50 worth of fruits and veggies. It actually turned out to be more than $50 worth, as we got a head of lettuce, 5# of potatoes, broccoli, carrots, onions, apricots, nectarines, bananas, tomatoes and about 3 lbs. of Rainier cherries. The cherries alone would have cost about $10 in the store, so I'm thinking it was a pretty good deal! The only downside I see is that the prduce is all the same stuff you'd get in the grocery store, so it's not the quality of a real farmer's market. However, for only $15, I figure I can supplement with the good stuff from my garden. Thanks for the suggestion Jen & Em! I was pleasantly surprised.
After returning home I started to get myself and the kids ready for the drive to Lehi (Mike had to stay home to answer phones). Thanks to Facebook, I was able to get in contact with a lot of college friends and roommates from my days at King Henry, and we'd planned a reunion at one of their houses. Paul and Cindy Hancock have a gorgeous home and were so gracious for letting us invade them for the afternoon! The kids especially loved the pool & hot tub, and my fishies Maggie and Brooke couldn't go down the slide or off the diving board enough times to satisfy themselves!
Katie & Bridget spent most of their time in the "little pool."
Maggie & Brooke preferred the "big pool."
But the best part of the day, other than dinner being made by Arby's instead of me, was being able to see my friends again! I can't even tell you how great it was to see everyone after all these years! It was almost surreal to look around at all the faces of these people that had truly become my surrogate family during college. Some of us were a little plumper, others a little balder, but for the most part everyone looked the same and it was such a comfortable feeling. I wish we could've spent more time visiting, but it's difficult to try to keep four kids from drowning, take care of a newborn and have converastions with long lost friends all at the same time! I guess that means we'll have to plan for another get-together soon!

Heather Zahn Gardner, Jen Knips Hiser, Sue Troxel Allen w/Dixon, and yours truly.

Sue & Jen

Jen, Dixon & me

Paul Hancock (party host) and Troy Runnells

Even though I forgot about the free Slurpees for 7/11 and had to stay up late to finish typing the Sacrament Meeting program, I was grateful to have had such a great day with well-behaved kids and great friends. Maybe next time I'll not be multi-tasking so much that I don't take all the pictures I'd like, because days like this just don't come around very often.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Life (for the last 3 weeks) in Pictures

My blogging neglect is in no way reflective of my activity level for the last few weeks. I wish I'd had the energy to write more consistently, but as you'll see I've been busy doing lots of things, as the following photos reveal....

The cat decided that a sleeping Bridget made the perfect bed for her.

Fourth of July fun with a smiling Katie.

Mom got the white shirt for the messiest girl...go figure.

Maggie in one of her now standard photographic poses.

Brooke, showing off her new short hair from the front...

...and from the back.
Mom didn't do too bad for learning how to cut her hair off a YouTube video.

And of course, the spoiled boy, who HATED the fireworks, so he & Mom went inside while Dad & the girls had at it in the driveway. (Also why there are no pics of those festivities.)

My sweet little man, finally not looking like a red, wrinkled alien. Isn't he handsome?
Butter Lettuce ready to eat!
Aphid-infested broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. We couldn't salvage any of it...bummer!

The morning's harvest...Romaine lettuce, Butter lettuce, Sweet Spanish onions
& new Red Norland potatoes. Did I mention I love gardening?

After harvesting the cool crops, this is the newly double-dug bed (that took me all morning) ready to be planted with green beans! I think I'll wait until morning when it's not 90 degrees...

Corn in the back bed, Paul Robeson tomatoes in the foreground. Lots of blossoms, but no tomatoes yet...c'mon already!

The hybrid tomatoes we planted for my in-laws are already producing tomatoes. If they don't come to visit soon, we'll have to eat them ourselves before they go bad.
The things we do for our parents.
So that's what I've been doing for the past few weeks, and here's a little of what I have NOT been doing:

Cleaning my room.


Organizing the office.
...And no comments about having time to photograph my mess instead of cleaning it.