Ransom Family

Random Ramblings and Happenings

Exciting August

Not really, but it WAS full and it was fun! Ok, some things are pretty exciting!  Read on to find out what!

We finished up with one last family reunion for the Ransom side.  We went to the Columbia Gorge by Bonneville Dam.  Normally we’d join everyone camping, but this year we didn’t because I couldn’t get rid of my shifts at Kohl’s AND because Andy gave his two week’s notice at his job the day before we were supposed to go camping and he wanted to finish up some projects first.  That’s right, new job for Andy after 18! years at PLCs Plus.  It’s kind of bittersweet because he really likes his boss and has a lot of perks there, but it was time for something new and that’s going to be with Schneider Electric.  It’s strange for Andy to go from a company with three people (including the owner) to a company with over 150,000 worldwide, but he’s enjoying it so far. And as a bonus, we have way less expensive health insurance, a retirement plan, a business car allowance, and a raise to look forward to.  We plan on using ‘extra’ to work our way out of debt much faster and then we can save more.

Back to the reunion fun.  We headed down early on the Thursday of the reunion and met up with Andy’s parents at the campsite, but no one else was there yet, so we decided to go hike Beacon Rock while we waited for Andy’s sisters to get there.  Elizabeth and Olivia didn’t want to come, so they stayed with Andy’s parents and Andy and I took Vincent and Abby.

It was WAY more steep than I could do easily.  I had to keep taking breaks just to catch my breath.  Partly because I’m out of shape and partly just to control my breathing.
But we made it to the top!
Andy brought it binoculars to check out the view and shared.
A lady at the top took our picture for us.
We picked up some lunch and went to a park to eat it in Cascade Locks and then saw a barge, so we headed downriver to see if we could watch it go through the Locks.
We watched the water rise in the lock to match the water on the side the barge was coming from.
And watched the gates open and the barge come in.
It was actually about four barges and they tied them all together to come through.
When it got to the end of the lock, it stopped while the water lowered to match the water on the other side.  It’s like a barge elevator.
It was really cool to watch, even though it did take a long time.
Then we headed to the Fish Hatchery in Bonneville where Andy’s grandma Flora used to count fish for her job.
Vincent keeps losing teeth and looks more and more like a jack-a-lantern every day it seems.
We met up with the whole family at a park where the kids played and we ate dinner and had a meeting/program.
Andy’s dad with his siblings.  Youngest to oldest.
Abbie Ransom met Abby Ransom again.  They met before three years ago but I don’t think we took a picture.
The following weekend was our ward campout and talent show.  We didn’t feel like camping, but we went out for the dinner and talent show.  Andy showed his Rubik’s Cube talent.
The following week one of our Primary Activity Day girls planned a Primary Ice Cream Social and asked everyone to bring a favorite ice cream topping.  I added a few extra kids to the fun with Christian, Rory, and Kilaina.
Olivia’s hamster Minty liked our summer squash.
Olivia planned out a fun visit to Andy’s parent’s place for her birthday.  She went the week before her birthday and took Elizabeth and our neighbor Ally.  Andy dropped them off on the Monday before Olivia’s birthday and they came home Thursday morning.
George and Shirley bought a fun new toy side-by-side to ride around in on the mountain.
They went out to dinner at a pizza place.
And they did a lot of crafting and playing.
Olivia had a really fun time and so did the other girls.
They even made a cake and decorated it.
My parents brought Olivia a new camp chair for her birthday.  We love visitors!
I love watching Vincent and Abby read together.
Andy and I took Olivia out to Famous Dave’s for her birthday dinner.  She wanted to go there and have ribs!
I gave a talk in church.  I think it went well.  Nothing would come together until about 11pm the night before, but I figured it out and the things I liked from the THREE talks I was assigned that I’d added to a Word document during the week helped a lot.  I deleted some and those ended up being the exact quotes the High Councilor used after my talk.
This little girl turned 11!
On her birthday my cousin brought her three girls over to play while she went to her college classes that morning.  When she got back we went to the park to play with them.
Olivia liked her baby.  I think the feeling was mutual.
Abby and Vincent had a good time with the older two girls.
And then I begged a friend to let us swim in her pool….
Abby is getting better all the time!
Most of the swimmers.  We took Ally around with us again for Olivia’s birthday.
This game was Olivia’s favorite.  They called it a color game.  The kids on the other side each have to pick a basic color and when the person who’s it says it they have to jump in and when the person who’s it hears a splash, they try to catch them and tag them.
They ended the fun with a Chicken Fight!  The three older girls put the younger kids on their shoulders and they all tried to knock each other off balance.
Next up. back to school!
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July Fun

 We had our annual Ward Fourth of July Breakfast that I LOVE!  Primary was asked to provide some games.  I asked a cub scout leader if she could be in charge of that and she found a large Jenga set and a yard quilt checkers game.  The kids had a good time.
Vincent with one of our friends from his primary class.
Abby liked the bubbles.  (The checkers quilt is in the background.)
After the ward activity we headed to Walla Walla for a BBQ with my parents and sister.
Happy Fourth of July!  Abby wanted to take some pictures with my mom’s camera.
So patriotic.
My mom finished putting the finishing touches on Elizabeth’s and Olivia’s quilts and has them ready for the fair in Walla Walla.  Elizabeth’s is the bigger quilt.  They had a great time making them with my mom over spring break.
My sister just moved and was headed home to make her kids organize their rooms and my older girls jumped at the chance to go help.  Olivia helped Jacob.
Elizabeth helped Jackson.
Their new place is nice and big and will be a great home for them.
My parents and I walked over to the park for the big community booths and food and fun, while Andy and Abby rested.
Vincent had a good time looking around and liked this big old limo.
Free Slurpees from 7-11 on the eleventh of July.  We went to two different stores this year since we had a few errands around town.  Elizabeth was babysitting, but I picked her up with the boy she was watching and took them with us to one stop.

A friend’s kids and the girl she babysits came over one day while she was taking care of her grandma at the hospital.  The kids all did great eating lunch and playing.
Olivia decided that she’d play music during the tea party that they dressed up for.
We spur-of-the-moment ran to the movies with some other friends.  We watched “Secret Life of Pets” and it was really funny and cute.  Abby liked the tiny white, fluffy dog most.
Olivia came with us too, but felt a little too old for a picture.
Andy went on a hike with the 14-17 year old boys in our ward (pictures below) and while he was gone, a friend of mine said she was headed through with her kids and wanted to crash at our house for the night.  She lived here for a summer when Vincent was a baby and it was fun to catch up.  She took selfies of us in her snapchat and sent them to me.
Thanks for the fun Janae!
I helped take the scouts up to their hike.  They started at the top of the Eagle Creek 13 mile trail.
It’s just a little ways from Mount Hood.  It was beautiful driving down the hill.
Wahtum Lake
At the bottom of the trail, where Eagle Creek dumps into the Columbia
One of the waterfalls you can see along the trail.
Different view of same waterfall.
They ate MREs (army food) along the trail, but the campsite host took them into town to get regular food, which was quickly devoured.
I helped pick them up Saturday and we all went to Burgerville to eat dinner on the way home.
I finally had a chance to get back in my garden.  I hadn’t done an initial weeding since planting and it was wild.  The whole thing looked like the middle part at the beginning with even bigger weeds at the back, but I chipped away at it over a week or so and got it cleaned out (15 hours later…)
Fresh and clean! But not many plants survived my neglect.  I’ve since purchased some tomato plants that were already big.
Andy built this sprinkler for the garden this year which has made a big difference.  We’ll be able to take it out at the end of the year to rototill and reset the garden.
Along with outside progress, I’ve finally got a little start on some inside jobs I’ve been wanting to do.  I took down the big ugly wooden valances above the door and window in the family room and the curtains and all the other odd things screwed into the wall that were no longer in use.  (Andy did have to finish a few things I wasn’t strong enough to get…)  Next up is filling in the holes and repainting before we replace the carpet for wood.  I’m still trying to decide what color to paint the two side walls that are currently a cream color.
Andy’s parents sold their home in Kennewick and moved up to their mountain home full time.  We’ll miss this house they lived in for almost 30 years, but I think it’ll be a good move for them.
We said goodbye to these leather couches that have put up with nine years of abuse in our family room.  Andy took them to the dump with the wall stuff that we took down.
We moved our couch and chairs from the living room into the family room (that we bought about 12 years ago for $125 from an ad in the Giant Nickel.  The recliner is one my mom bought at the thrift store just before Elizabeth was born that I recovered several years ago.)
AND Andy’s parents dropped off their living room couch and love seat for us while they moved.  So much nicer (and cleaning the carpets is on my to-do list.)
Abby cut her hair up to her ear on one side, so she had another drastic haircut when we went to visit my cousin Danette to fix up our hair the other day.  Danette told Abby she’d give her a buzzcut like Vincent’s if she cuts her hair again.
I had about four inches cut off, but I look the same.  Elizabeth had a full comb out (which took up most of our time…) and a trim, Olivia had a trim, and Vincent had a trim.  Then we headed to a cousin’s wedding reception.
I’ve been super busy with work since I opened up my availability to anytime other than Sundays and Wednesday nights.  I’m hoping to switch positions soon.  Elizabeth and Olivia have earned quite a bit of babysitting money watching Vincent and Abby while Andy and I work, but they are doing a great job.  They like earning some money to buy things they like.
Every time I see Elizabeth wearing my old shirt for pajamas, I think of the old man who was so rude to me about it when I was little.  He told me that this would never happen.
 My mom bought this shirt  for me in 1993 and I loved it.  It’s Dennis the Menace’s nemesis Margaret who always bossed him around.  I just wish the current woman candidate for president was worth voting for so I could be more excited about this possibility.
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Crowther Coast Reunion

My parents invited their posterity to join them at the Oregon Coast in Lincoln City last week for a reunion.  They arranged two big houses for the 31 of us who came to stay in (just missing Jeff and his son).  We stayed three nights and it was wonderful to spend so much time together visiting, laughing, and letting the kids play in the dirt.  That said, here’s a LOT of pictures because that’s how I have fun, taking pictures of the fun (but I had real fun too!)

First night at the ocean.  We didn’t play that night because we didn’t have much time.  We headed to dinner at La Roc Mexican Restaurant between Lincoln City and Newport for fantastic food with my mom while everyone else went to Mo’s for seafood.  Andy and I went to La Roc about five years ago when we went to the ocean alone.

My sister likes to take selfies.  We had a nice walk by the ocean the first night.

Abby’s first time at the ocean!  She’s been excited about visiting the Pacific Ocean for over a year.  She used to say Atlantic Ocean.  One day we’ll visit there, but probably not until she’s 12 (the plan is to go to NYC then and do Temple Baptisms in the NYC Temple.)
Loved spending so much time with my family, especially these two hard workers.  So grateful to them for putting the plan in action and inviting us.
The first morning we were there we went on a drive in the backroads between Lincoln City and Newport.  We saw a sign that said “Boat Slide” and had to turn around to see what it meant.  And then we tossed a few rocks off the bridge into the river below (which at least one of our kids mentioned was their favorite part of the trip when asked on the way home.)
Picture of the Boat Slide.  There’s a pulley attached at the top on the bar that is tied to a boat to ease it into the river while someone walks along beside it down the steps.
Vincent picked up some trash to do his Cub Scout duty (and because I told him to and I control the snacks…)
I don’t know if you noticed yet, but Andy’s always loved bridges.  We walked down to the Newport Bridge too.  No rocks thrown from that one because it’s much busier there.
There was a little welcome center info building that we stopped in at to learn more about the old bridge and the designer and other interesting facts.  The designer created bridges all over the world.
After this we had lunch at Subway since the kids wanted to go there the night before and it sounded good to us non-seafood people.
Kids jumping picture (we haven’t ever done this before…maybe you can tell.)
Kites on the beach!  Olivia helped me pick out kites at Dollar Tree a few weeks ago and they were well worth the $4 spent.  They held up much better than the ones I had growing up with the wooden dowels that always broke.  The wind was so strong they didn’t even have to work hard to fly their kites, but that was fun for them.
Elizabeth’s kite had a storm trooper from Star Wars.
Vincent’s kite had a minion.
Olivia’s kite had rainbow chevrons.
Abby wanted to find shells before flying her kite.
Vincent LOVED running along the beach with his kite.
Look, a picture of me, taken by Andy.
Cousins and an aunt came to join us at the beach after a bit.  Did I mention there were NINETEEN kids there?  Some babies were sleeping during the main water playing time.
Abby finally asked to fly her butterfly kite.  She liked to show it to everyone walking by.
Vincent discovered that if you dig a little hole deep enough water fills it in and it’s warm.  The ocean sure is pretty, but it’s COLD!
Janessa and I teamed up for dinner this night.  We made chicken alfredo with marinara sauce as an option since some kids don’t like alfredo and one is allergic to it.  We also had corn, french bread, watermelon, salad, and popsicles.
The next day we went towards Newport again, but with a brother and his family along.  We stopped at the Yaquina Lighthouse which is a National Park. We paid $7 to get in and then spent a few hours at their kid’s museum area, walked to the lighthouse, and down at the tide pools.  There were even seals sunning on rocks further out.
Vincent and Abby with me by the lighthouse.
My brother with three of his five kids down at the tide pools.  I opted to sit further up on a big rock to take pictures instead to walking down the big slippery rocks to the bottom because I didn’t want to sprain my ankle.
Andy took Abby down to check things out and find all the creatures that were left after the tide went out (and to make sure she didn’t hurt any of them or bring them home.)
Olivia liked looking at everything down there.
Elizabeth was Vincent’s buddy.  I really enjoyed the break sitting and watching them.
My brother’s family wanted to stop at a beach on their way back to the houses and have a picnic, so we moved along to Izzy’s Buffet for lunch.  It was yummy there.  They had a soft serve ice cream machine and baby ice cream cones to put it in that I think was our kid’s favorite thing to try there.  This is the view from the restaurant.
We went back to the houses and then headed down to the ocean to play some more.  My parents came down to find us and my dad joined Olivia getting soaked by waves.  It was really funny to watch them.  Olivia looked like a surfer.
Abby even gave it a try with Grandpa Paul.
Our family at the ocean.
All nineteen grandkids who were there (just missing one who lives in Ohio.)
My oldest two brother’s families were in charge of dinner the second night and made meatball subs.  Then we headed back down to the water for campfire s’mores.  I love s’mores!
Many of the grandkids played football in the sand.  Some were already back at the houses having bathes or going to bed.
Gorgeous sunset!  These seagulls were only there because there were two or three homeless looking guys feeding them microwave popcorn sort of close to us.

My mom brought a craft for everyone to participate in.  Details on her blog. We each decorated a fabric square that had an ocean shape on it (sea star, octopus, seahorse) and when the paint dries, she will take the shape off to show off our decorations and she’ll make it into a quilt.
We played games one of the nights for a little bit and had ice cream with just the grown ups both nights.  My nephew turned sixteen on the first day of our trip and was ordained to the office of a Priest the last night.
After packing our stuff and cleaning up a bit, we went to Tillamook Cheese Factory for the self-guided tour with my oldest brother and his family who were headed up to see Andy’s parents on their way home (and we decided to take them there and visit for a bit too.)
Tillamook cow cut out.
Olivia wanted a turn to be a mooing cow too.  Doesn’t she look content?
Hanging out above where the cheese is packaged.
We had the cheese samples and got some ice cream. Olivia and Vincent both chose Mint Chocolate Chip.
Andy had plain chocolate, Abby chose strawberry, and Elizabeth had blueberry.
I had Mudslide and it was terrific.
We had a quick lunch after getting through Portland’s traffic and then checked in with my brother who said they were about an hour behind where we were so we detoured to the old highway to see some waterfalls and stopped at the Vista House on Crown Point.
And then my brother told us he was at the meeting point twenty minutes further from where we were because he told us the wrong town that he was passing through initially. We hurried to catch up and then called him and told him to go when we were turning off and ended up just two cars behind him at the turnoff to head back to the Washington side of the river.
The kids played with the four-wheelers for a bit and on the playground set and George and Shirley fed us hotdogs for dinner.  My brother is going to be rebuilding their deck at their new place and adding more soon.  They sold their house in Kennewick and will be up there full time the end of July.
What a fun trip we had!  In a few years, we are thinking about everyone going to Wallowa Lake for another reunion.  Seven years ago we went to a house outside of Boise.  We are also thinking about an adults only cruise in five or so years.
Back to laundry, dishes, and jobs….
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Cub Scout Day Camp and Girl’s Camp

I headed to Cub Scout Day Camp with Vincent on Tuesday.  Day Camp was Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
A lady in our ward (and in the stake primary) taught the scouts some knots.  Vincent got all frustrated when he couldn’t do it perfectly the first time.  The teacher told me he wasn’t the only boy to cry about not being able to do it at first.  He caught on just fine after a few tries, but is such a perfectionist with things like that, that it’s frustrating to everyone around him.
He enjoyed the BB gun time with his pack.  He used to get frustrated with that because he wasn’t quite strong enough to cock it easily, but now he’s figured it out.
Aiming.
The boys in our pack did a good job at camp, but I was so tired and impatient by the end of the day….
Elizabeth’s Girl’s Camp Started Wednesday morning.  We dropped off her supplies before our other trip so she was all ready to go with just a pillow and backpack.
The theme this year was based on “The Wizard of Oz”.
There’s plenty of hard work involved at Girl’s Camp, but it’s also a lot of fun.  Elizabeth spent most of her rec time at the slip and slide.
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Summer Trip #1 and #2

We filled up our June with several trips this year.  We had a reunion set to start just after my birthday/anniversary, so we decided to go visit my brother’s family the day before a few hours from the reunion so we wouldn’t have to travel on my birthday and we hadn’t seen their new place yet.  Their kids were out waiting for their ‘buddies’ to arrive.  They all jumped right into the fun.
Vincent slept in this little toddler bed under the stairs in a little Harry Potter room one of the two nights.  He doesn’t normally sleep in such a tiny bed, but he liked having his own space.
Thursday the 16th was my 34th birthday and our 15th wedding anniversary.  We headed out on a ‘little’ hike to a lookout above their house in Wyoming near Jackson Hole.
This is my little brother and his littlest (for now) kid.  He’s a great dad and takes good care of his family.  He’s a school teacher, teaching Spanish in an elementary school and coaching sports most of the year, so they do a lot more together during the summer.
This was the pretty, pretty view from the top of the lookout we hiked (straight up!) to.  My brother’s house is down there in the middle of the picture a little ways from the edge of the reservoir in a new development.
My four kids and my brother’s five kids.  They were all troopers on the hike.
This niece of mine was everybody’s buddy.  She’s adorable.
Abby and Vincent found a caterpillar on my brother’s hiking backpack when we got to the top.
This girl loves dirt and bugs.
We started a fire at the top to roast hotdogs for lunch.
Olivia carried her cousin down the hill most of the way.
So much cousin fun!
Then we decided to go over to the very cold reservoir to let the kids swim.
Burr!  I opted to take pictures instead.
Water is water to these kids.  I think they’ll swim anywhere.
We left all the kids with my oldest girls while we took Brant and Tina out for dinner and ice cream for my birthday dinner.  It was a lot of fun.  We played games with them before bed too.

This little guy cozied up to Andy watching him play a video game on his old DS.
The following day we headed out to Island Park for the reunion with Andy’s mom’s side of the family.  Elizabeth jumped right into this awesome ATV for a ride with Grandma Shirley and her baby brother.
Uncle David liked driving everybody around.  Andy and I took a turn driving it too and it was really, really fun.
Abby found a kindred spirit in Andy’s cousin’s son.  They ran around all afternoon picking flowers and grasses for the horses in the pasture next to the ranch and had a great time playing and playing and playing.
Later that night they played in the wood scrap pile and took a bunch of packaged snacks over there to squirrel away (see them in the bottom right near the broom?) We made them bring them back.
Olivia hurt her leg and bandaged it up and then tried out the bbgun.
Andy found this cow bone on his four-wheeler ride. Pretty sure it’s from the backside of a cow, but we thought it made a pretty good mask. =)
Elizabeth loved these smaller size four-wheelers.  She’s so confident in her driving, but careful too.
I finished the jean quilt for the family auction.  This year they did a silent auction instead.
Andy’s Grandma Ellen is so full of life still at 88.
They had a Chinese auction for each day where we could put raffle tickets in a cup corresponding with the number on the item.  Vincent put all of his raffle tickets from the first day in the cup for this awesome pocket knife.  He won and was super excited about it!
Andy and I took Vincent and Abby with us into Yellowstone (on a Saturday in June….It was crazy busy!)  We were stalled going about 5 MPH for 5 miles on the way in.  We did see some bison (which we think was the holdup because they had just finished crossing the road.)
We saw Old Faithful.
Andy with Vincent and Abby after we saw the geyser.  It was a little windy, but plenty warm.
We stopped off to see another attraction on the way out of the park so we could get back to help with dinner.
We made fry bread scones to go with the bbq pulled pork and twice baked potatoes.
Andy’s aunt’s family owns this ranch and just built this huge new house with about seven suites, a game room, and so much more.  There is another little house and house with a loft with queen beds at the top along with a big garage with a cowboy flat.  We had spots for everyone to sleep.
We headed home Sunday morning so we could get back home for more activities to start bright and early Monday morning.  We were all exhausted, but Andy waited to sleep until after he drove us safely home.
One more June trip to come soon!
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End of School Year Fun

We went up to Andy’s parent’s place for Memorial Day to visit with the family and play.  Grandpa George gave Ezra and Vincent a ride on the four-wheeler and the other kids rode too.
Hanging out inside after they got tired.
An aunt took a lot of kids for a four-wheeler ride too.
We left Abby at the mountain with her grandparents so I could go with Olivia’s marimba group the following day for their rehearsal for the district mallet showcase that night.
I could watch these kids play marimbas all day.  They have such a fun time!
Olivia in the front during the practice.  During the real show I was videoing with the school’s IPad for the music teacher.
The week before school was out, PTA awarded the Outstanding Educator Award and Golden Acorn (Volunteer) Award.  The music teacher, Mrs. Lydeen received the Educator award and they gave me the Volunteer award.  It was very sweet.
Vincent’s been practicing his piano playing.  He’s getting really good at “Praise to the Man” and can even sing while he plays.  The trouble is that he only wants to focus on one song until it’s perfect and won’t practice the rest of the stuff on his list.  We are done with lessons for the summer anyway, so they are just practicing to keep up their skills.
Abby and I enjoyed a Tumbleweeds lunch for their customer appreciation day.
Abby and her cousin were ready to do their ballet rehearsal and recital on some of the hottest days of the year.
They are so sweet!  They’ve really enjoyed being in class together.
For the real performance, the ballet studio puts a headpiece and tutu on the kids.  (Abby ended up with her bangs pulled back a few seconds after this picture because she was too hot.)
They had one boy in their class, so he was their little ‘prince’ who helped them with turns in the center of the stage.
And at the end, Abby made sure to clap for herself. =)
In the fall I think we are going to just do all day kindergarten for her.  I think signing up for anything more would be too much to handle after a whole day of school.  We’ll see if we decide to add it back in when she’s a little bigger.
Olivia was in the 4×4 relay for her class.  They had to race each other before they picked the four fastest girls from each class to represent them.  Her team won (mostly because of the last runner who made up a lot of time).  She also won the 200 yard dash and got third in hurdles.
Olivia’s new violin came back from the guy we dropped it off with to repair it and she’s getting used to playing a full size violin and is practicing often. It’s beautiful!
She likes to pretend she’s Lindsey Stirling playing outside (but not too much-our neighbors might not appreciate that.)
I know this post is kind of all about Olivia, but she’s been busy!
She had a little fifth grade moving up ceremony on the last day of school.  She had quite a pile of awards.  Her field day ribbons, President’s Education Academic Award, National Physical Education Award, Excellent Attendance Award (she only missed 3 days this year), a Diploma Certificate for finishing Elementary School, and certificates for both Marimba and Advanced Orchestra.  Good thing during the ceremony they just have the kids stand where they are and pass them out in class later!
Friday was the last day of school, so while Andy and Vincent went to the Father-Son Campout, I watched a movie with my girls.  We had M&M’s and popcorn and had a good time.
After I sent them to bed, I put together the top of the jean quilt I’m making for this year’s McClellan Reunion.  We always have a family auction to raise some funds for the following reunion.  My jean quilts typically raise over $50, so I’ll keep making them until no one wants them because they are pretty cheap to make and they are fun.
 
I still need to sew the back on and finish it in the next few days.  The blocks were already cut out so it was pretty easy to whip up the top.
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+++SO MUCH+++

Abby joined her ballerina sisters on the fridge of fame. I love these magnets.
Andy and I went on a date one day and checked out my old boss’s new store in the mall. He and a friend started this company that sells trendy clothes he goes down to Los Angeles to pick out for women and kids.  I tried on some things they suggested and chose this flowy top.
We did the Clot Trot again this year.  We walked/ran the mile.  This is the ninth year and I think we have been to all of them.  Andy’s boss’s son started the Clot Trot to bring awareness to  blood disorders like Hemophilia.   He has Hemophilia which prevents blood from clotting.
We went to a Richland High School play, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”.  It was fun, but not very well attended.
Abby enjoyed posing with the characters after the show.  Charlie Brown was one of our former Cub Scouts.

Olivia had a concert with all the elementary and middle schools in Richland orchestras.  I like to take pictures at the rehearsal during the day when I volunteer to chaperone because then I can enjoy the concert more.
Olivia really enjoys playing the violin.
My reign as PTA President is almost over and maybe I’ll have time to really blog again…. I went and bought donuts for Morning with Mom a few weeks ago and I even got to hang out with my kids to eat them because we had enough dads helping serve them this year.
Olivia was in an invitation only Honor Orchestra for Richland School District students.  It was for elementary and middle schoolers.  They had three levels and Olivia played well enough to be in the middle group.  She met with this group every Monday for an hour, but didn’t start until February when we heard about it.
A mini miracle happened this month.
I paid my tithing from my job at Kohl’s on the first Sunday of the month like I normally do, even though it only left about $50 in my account for groceries (I deposit my check in a separate account from Andy’s check and use my check for household things, groceries, and music lessons, etc.)  I was a little worried about only having $50 for the week and considered just waiting a week when I’d have a little bit bigger check, but paid it anyway.
Monday morning I had a knock at my door from a man who works for our city.  They come every two years to trim our tree out of the powerlines in the backyard.  He asked me if I was the one who was begging him to chop down the tree a few years ago.  I sure was!  And since then, huge branches fell onto our house and did quite a bit of damage, barely missing our kids who were playing outside at the time the branches fell, so I wanted it out!  He said they could take it down (and the tree growing in the fence that has grown back a few times after getting chopped down) in the next few weeks for free.  HOORAY! (The tree had been chopped out of the powerlines, but that left the rest of the tree hanging over our house.)
I came home the following day from an errand to men standing in my front yard talking about my trees.  They asked if they could come over the next day to take it down and the day after that to finish it up.  Absolutely!
Here’s the tree before the big cut and the littler tree behind it in the fence.  The space in the middle that’s skinnier is where the branches were that fell a few summers ago.
The Wednesday they started cutting down the tree in the back.  Our front yard trees have grown a lot too!
After it was chopped down, we had quite a bit of wood to get rid of (they warned me and I am still trying to unload the last bit of it).  Just so you can tell just how big the tree is, here’s Abby on a section of it.  The green on the stump behind her is so it won’t regrow (and it’s since faded in color).
Olivia braided her hair the day before this and Abby wouldn’t let me take it out.
Vincent had to try it out after school too.
Olivia stayed home from school about a month ago because both of her ears were plugged up for some reason.  I took her to the doctor to find out why and the doctor said she had thick, thick ear wax plugging both ears.  She tried to use a special water hose rinse to flush it out and it wouldn’t work.  (She said this time was only about the second time it hadn’t worked for her in all her years as a pediatrician).  She recommended ear wax softener drops once a day for a week and then had us come back in to try again. It STILL didn’t work the second time, so she had us make an appointment with a specialist who would be able to get it out easier with different tools.  That appointment was about a month out so I hoped our doctor would still be able to get it.  Finally on the third appointment, it did come out.  It was like the top of a pencil eraser in size and super hard.  I was able to cancel the specialist appointment which was great because we have lousy insurance and pay out of pocket until we hit a high deductible. The day of the appointment our doctor got the earwax out was also the Monday the tree guy came.  I’m calling it a tithing blessing for both.  Taking the tree down ourselves would have cost at least $5,000 and I assume the specialist would have been a few hundred.  HUGE blessings!
We will miss the shade from the tree, but that’s about it. I won’t miss cleaning up leaves year-round, all the stupid sycamore balls all over the yard, or worrying the tree was going to fall on our house everytime the wind blew, which it does very often here!
A super nice lady in our ward offered Olivia her violin that her dad bought her in 1950 when she was in elementary school (the same one my kids go to).  Olivia and I went over to check it out and she sold it to her for just $25.  It’s been sitting under our friend’s bed for 50 years now, since she stopped playing after high school so we need to get it fixed up, but we found a connection and are hopeful that it will be well worth it.
A newspaper clipping that was in the case:
A man in Richland made the violin and Ruminoff, a famous violinist, played it!
Our school carnival, that includes silent auction, bake sale, concessions, and SO many booths and fun games was this past weekend.  It was a little bit crazy for me that week making sure all the people in charge of each of those categories were taken care of and seeing where I needed to help, but they all did such a great job, I just had to go buy the food for concessions and I helped with ticket sales on the night of the carnival (I finally gave up being in charge of bake sale after six years.)  It was a successful carnival and a lot of fun!  I love that I can count on our awesome PTA team at our school to do what they say they will.
Saturday I hosted a free House Party for Bertolli.  They sent coupons for their pasta sauce and some cute basil plants.  I decided that we’d have a pasta sauce tasting party.  Abby ate FOUR plates full of the pasta with red sauce.
Vincent loved the red sauce too.
Unfortunately, the only people available out of all the ones I invited to attend was our neighbor and her daughter, although we had a really fun time with them!
The kids planted their basil plants in the tiny containers and are watching them daily.
I like seeing these lined up in my kitchen window.
Olivia had a spring concert at her school for strings and marimba this week.
She was way in the back for the first part with the whole group, but then the advanced kids (who have been playing for two years) came to the front to play three songs too.
Watch the Indian Dance song here.
Our neighbor girl came with Andy and I.  We left Elizabeth home to babysit Abby and Vincent since they don’t always behave the best at concerts.
Olivia had two turns to play the fun drums for the marimba group.  They all dance and bounce around when they aren’t playing and it’s really fun to watch. Watch one song here.
Olivia had turns playing the real marimbas too.  They have to shift around for each song since they have so many kids in their group.  They get to play again next week with ALL of the marimbas in our school district, so that should be really cool.
The music teacher at our school is moving to the school where her kids go next year.  We are going to miss her so much! She has kids coming to her five mornings a week for orchestra and choir and the marimbas practice four days a week at lunchtime. She goes above and beyond for sure!
In other news, I finally got my garden planted.  It’s only the end of May, so maybe by July or August we’ll have some produce, more than our strawberries that take care of themselves every year.  That’s okay though because June is crammed with stuff and we’ll be too busy to garden a lot anyway.
Elizabeth is making some good friends in middle school and is excited for summertime when she can read more.  She was assigned a book by James Patterson (Maximum Ride) for a class at school and asked to read 30 pages over the weekend out of the 400 pages in the book.  She finished the whole book that weekend and asked for the rest in the eight book series.  She only has one more to go before she finishes the whole thing.  It’s only been two weeks and all the books are about the same length.
Vincent’s practicing piano more and enjoys when he’s improving, but gets a little frustrated trying to learn new things.  He loves Cub Scouts and all the things they get to do there.
Abby’s still my little helper and I’m hoping that she’ll be all ready for all day kindergarten in the fall.  We skipped preschool with her because life was so busy this school year and I just couldn’t fit it in.  She is doing ballet and goes to church with kids her age and speaks fairly clearly (other than her r’s) and in full sentences. She’s a smart kid.  She is going to struggle with taking turns and following directions though, I think and she doesn’t write much yet, but she’ll catch on quick.
Andy’s enjoying the Teacher’s at church and planning summer campouts and activities for them.
I’m getting through the rest of the school year as PTA President plus Primary President plus working plus all these concerts plus plus plus.  I’m looking forward to retiring from PTA for a bit, although I still plan to help here and there.  In the fall with Abby in school all day, I should be able to shift my work schedule to work while they are at school and be home in the evenings and I’m looking forward to that.
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The Christ-Centered Home

I was able to be part of a review group for this new book by Emily Belle Freeman (who I LOVED listening to at TOFW in Spokane!)  It’s titled “The Christ-Centered Home: Inviting Jesus In”.  With a title like that, how could you NOT want to read it???!!!
I really, really enjoyed this book. It had great thoughts to dig deep inside me to contemplate how I’m doing in each of the categories and find things I can do to improve both my own spirituality and the spirit in my home.
I don’t normally like to write in books, but I HAD to write in this book just to make sure I didn’t lose my thoughts. It’s set up with questions and lines to add your own ideas. I even wrote in the margins!
Favorite parts of the book:
“I have learned to pay attention to when bread is introduced in a chapter of the scriptures; I know that I am about to learn more about Jesus.”

‘Daily we are faced with choices that either increases or tear down faith.”

“We can’t just wish for the words to be in our heart. Rather, we must take action to help the words find a place in our hearts.”

“We decided that our job is to always wear the armor of God and then to remember that the Lord has our back.” (talking about Isaiah 58:8-“Your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”)

Emily Belle Freeman takes us to twelve different homes the Savior visited and through the lessons learned there about what our homes should be to invite Christ in.
This is a wonderfully put together book that’s good for all Christians of any faith to delve deeper and make their home more Christ-centered.

I’m trying to change little parts of how I do things in my home and read more out of the scriptures personally.
I also decided to start a mother-daughter journal with my 13 year old daughter where we can talk to each other about our concerns and ask questions and give answers.  It’s a secret journal, so I can’t tell you much, but I can say that when I told her it was in her room on her pillow, even though she was headed out the door to play, she turned right around with a grin and ran to her room and wrote me right back!
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Spring Break

We decided a little visit to Lacey/Olympia was in order this spring break and had the incentive that Andy’s sister’s family moved there to push up that visit to our State’s capital (which NONE of us, although mostly raised in Washington, had been to!)

We drove over on Sunday and listened to a little General Conference on the way and stopped at a park to have a hoagie and other snacks and then we had delicious taco soup with Sara.

Sara took us to a super cool park to let the kids play for awhile.  There was a fun teepee that spun kind of like a merry-go-round, but not as fast.  Andy loves these things.

There was a HUGE set up of ropes to climb on that they kids really enjoyed.
There was even a cool zipline.  You should have seen Abby fly at the end of that.  Good thing she knows how to hang on tight!
Even Elizabeth tried out the rope structure.
Daphne LOVED this thing!  She was all over it, especially when her mom asked her to come a little lower. ;)
This little teacup sat crooked and spun fast.  And faster with a little help…
Vincent made the funniest Popeye face.
After the park we went back to Sara’s for yummy strawberry shortcake.
Monday morning we went into Olympia to the Children’s museum since Sara has a family membership and had a few extra passes.  There were so many fun things there.
Abby liked looking at x-rays in the doctor’s office area.
I think this area was a favorite for all of the kids.  They put fabric and puff balls into the tubes at the bottom and they shot out the top.
Baby Emma liked hanging out with Andy a lot.  She’s so adorable!
We waited for a rabbit petting zoo to start and lined the kids all up.  They all had a really fun time!
After that fun, we stopped for lunch and then headed to the State Capital building in Olympia.
There was marble everywhere.  Cute kids on the steps!
We walked around and looked at the big room the legislature votes in when they’re in session (but it finished last week, so no one was there.)
We stopped in to the offices where our Richland representative’s offices are, but they were already back home.
Next we had a quick snack and headed to Tumwater Falls.  I wanted a picture of the kids by the totem pole.  They all did really well on this trip.
Upper Tumwater Falls (and Vincent).
Olivia with Ezra at the Falls (and wearing Sara’s jacket since she didn’t bring one.)
There are two sides to the Upper Tumwater Falls.  It’s really pretty to look at.
Abby loved all the plants everywhere, especially the moss.
Sara was brave over this bridge since she’s afraid of heights.
All the kids, except Emma by a small waterfall.
We had such a fun trip to visit family and saw so many fun things!
Tuesday morning we were going to visit a friend who lives about 2 hours away from Sara, but her kids were sick, so we headed to the Washington coast to see the Pacific Ocean.  We haven’t been to the coast since Vincent was about 2 years old and Abby has never been there.  They wanted to get out and see it.
Vincent took a picture of Andy and I for me.  I had a bit of a cold/allergy stuff going on all weekend, so I was sleeping a lot in the car.
 We took Wednesday to recuperate and rest and then I took the girls to make quilts with my mom in Walla Walla.  I dropped them off about two pm on Thursday. Pictures of the girls working on their quilts are on my mom’s blog here. Finished quilt tops here.
They made all the blocks that first night and sewed the tops together the next day.  SO quick and beautiful and they have learned great skills from Grandma Mary.
They got to hang out with Grandpa Paul too.
While they were away, I took Abby and Vincent to Food Truck Friday at the Pasco Farmer’s Market to try out a few new foods and some cupcakes from a friend who owns a baking business (and she was helping cook at Camp Wooten with me.) I think Vincent and Abby liked the cupcakes.
Abby made herself a snack Friday afternoon before dinner.
We picked Elizabeth and Olivia up and got everyone ready for family pictures in Walla Walla Saturday afternoon.  Captured By Tessa posted the pictures she took already!
I love the pictures.  We had a really great spring break this year.  Most years we just have a nice relaxed week at home, so this was a nice change.
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Easter + Camp Wooten

Our youth at church filled plastic eggs and hid them for our primary kids to find the Saturday before Easter.  I love that they do that. It makes everything so easy and fun for both the youth and the little kids (and parents too!)
Abby and Vincent especially had a good time finding eggs (and eating the candy.)
I invited my buddy Ally and her family to join us.  I had an overnight at work and got off at 6:30am that morning, so I’m a little red-eyed and tired here… We’ve been friends for nearly ten years and I’m SO glad!
The Easter Bunny brought some treats (which were pretty much all eaten before I even woke up…)
       
The next morning Olivia and I headed off to Camp Wooten in the Blue Mountains about an hour and a half away.
Olivia’s fifth grade class went up for Outdoor Education with their teachers from school.  This is between the 35-40th year of this camp for our school.  One of the teachers has been running it all that time and it gets better every year.
I went up as a cook like I did with Elizabeth two years ago.  It’s a TON of work (like 6am-10pm every day-about 60 hours total for the week.)  It’s a good thing I enjoy it and there was a good group this year again which makes it even more fun.  We do get to take little breaks to go see our kids do good things.
 
They have regular class time for the whole normal school day time and then the afternoon is full of special activities like archery, bb guns, hiking, geocache, kickball, crafts, and even Amazing Race this year.
I caught up with Olivia at her archery and her craft time.  She went on hikes the other days.  She loves to hike.
We cooked three full meals and a snack each day.  It is so busy! We feed 80 fifth graders, counselors, TA’s, and teachers of all the different classes, so we cook for 130 and plan for more like 160 (the bonus of working in the kitchen is at the end of the week, we get to take home some delicious food leftovers.)
One day at lunch we had soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Three people on the grill working on that, and the rest of us cutting and putting them into pans to stay warm and doing dishes (luckily, there’s an awesome sanitizing machine that does a lot of the work.)
One day we dressed up the staff’s creepy camper doll and left her out in the dining room.
I also was able to go to Olivia’s cooking class (and helped a little).
Mr. Manners (one of the head cooks who plans the meals and orders each year) taught the group how to make an omelet and then they divided into groups of two to make their own.  Jane and Olivia did a really good job.  Their omelet was second place in their class.  The winning team from this day and the previous day had a Top Chef cookoff the following day which was pretty cool.
 Abby had playdates at two different friend’s houses and with Grandma Shirley while I was away.  Elizabeth did a great job walking Vincent home from school and picking up Abby along the way and taking care of them until Andy got home from work.
We are enjoying springtime!
Vincent had his first Pinewood Derby in March.  His car got fourth in our Pack.  He had a great time and loved it.
On the way home from the church, Vincent asked me not to post a picture of his car on Facebook.  I asked him why not and he said, “because then I’ll get arrested and go to Juvie.”  I asked why he thought that and he said because it was copyright because his car was a Bulborg from Pikmin’s video game.
Here’s a good side-by-side so you can see what he meant.
He cracks me up.  Life is fun!
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