Ransom Family

Random Ramblings and Happenings

July 2017

We went up to Andy’s parent’s place for a visit on the 3rd of July and stayed the night so we spent the 4th of July with them. We attended their ward’s breakfast and played most of the day.  We also went up the Saturday before so we could see Andy’s sister and family who were in town for a few days.  Home again Sunday to do our callings and back up.

It doesn’t seem to matter to Abby if it’s a day to play outside.  She still wants to wear skirts all the time. She’s holding a little rubbery fish her grandparents found in the Bahamas when they went with Andy’s sister in June.

Airheads and Sprite.  Vincent was quite color-coordinated.

Elizabeth with Grandma Shirley and Olivia.

Andy with two of his little sisters.

Fourth of July breakfast flag ceremony.  These scouts did a great job!

I like to get a picture of the mountain each time I go up to the mountain.  I zoom in a lot to get this shot from their porch.

We went home on the 4th to play games with friends and then made popcorn to eat while we sat on the front lawn to watch the neighbors shoot off fireworks.

They were a little crazy this year.  When they started teasing each other with fireworks, we decided it was time to take the kids inside….

Free Slurpees at 7-11 on July 11th.
Olivia went off to Beehive Camp.  She’s not 12 quite yet, but had special permission to attend since she’s in the same grade as all of the other first year girls and turns 12 this summer.  We had Stake Beehive Camp because our stake had trek this summer.  They just had some YCLs to help for the older girls this year.  She had a great time!

Olivia next to the A frame our girls stayed in.

One day Aunt Torrie came by to pick up whoever wanted to go play at a park with her girls.  She even took some pictures for me.  I couldn’t go because I had other plans that day. =(

Looks like they had a good time!

Olivia has been fixing Abby’s hair all summer and takes pictures sometimes.  I think she likes having her own little doll to play with (at least when Abby holds still!)

Cute braids!

We were invited by a friend to crash a neighboring ward’s party at their pool and park.  They were playing Slip and Slide Kickball.  The bases were blow up pools and there was a slip and slide along the third base to home side.  The kids liked it a lot!

Vincent was the first one to try out the slip and slide.  It had to get wet first. (They used a hose from a ward member’s house on the other side of the fence.)
We are lucky to have friends we can call when we NEED a swimming afternoon.  Elizabeth often wants to stay home where it’s quiet so she can draw or read or just relax without everyone here.  All the girls who were in the pool piled onto the blow up alligator and were tossed over a few times.

Abby is starting to get more confident.  She is able to swim a few feet without floaties now and even keeps her face in the water.

When we stop by the library Vincent and Abby always want to play chess.  This day I let them.  They did pretty good for beginners.


 Olivia came with us to the elementary school library a few times.  Sometimes she’d even walk Vincent and Abby over if I was busy with other things so they could return their books.  She and Vincent played some checkers and she creamed him.  They have arranged several chess/checkers tournaments this summer at our house.
My Uncle Derlyn passed away this month.  He is my mom’s older brother.  It was unexpected, but without suffering.  He was always so fun and nice and ready to go and do things.  He used to be a firefighter a the Grand Coulee Dam and would take us on tours there in the summertime when we were little and then we’d watch the laser light show overlooking the side of the dam.  We’d go tubing behind his boat and one summer we were there for the Fourth of July and my oldest brother brought a suitcase full of fireworks to light off and joined up with everyone else’s stash of fireworks and it was fun to watch.

He did a lot more in his life than I had ever heard about until his funeral because I wasn’t around for most of his life and didn’t get to hear all of the other stories.  He was good friends growing up with a man in our ward in Richland and he was able to speak at the funeral about him.  They kept in touch all of these years and even spoke just a few days before he passed away.  Really cool.

He requested one last ride in a fire truck.  The fire department did a little ceremony and took him on his last ride.

Andy and I bought tickets to a Jack Johnson concert for our anniversary.  It happened to be the same day as the funeral was so we made a little road trip of it and left the kids at home.  It was hot, but a lot of fun.

John Craigie opened the show.  He’s from Portland and is a songwriter.  His songs were fun.

The Avett Brothers were the next opener.  I hadn’t heard of them before, but liked their music and instruments and songs.

The sunset at the Gorge in George is so pretty!

The Columbia River is right behind the Amphitheater.  Gorgeous!

Jack Johnson’s concert was awesome!  I’ve never been to a real concert before (I don’t count the time I went to a Barry Manilow concert with my mom using the tickets she won from a radio station when I was 15…)  I’ve seen a few performers passing through the fair, but don’t really count those either.

I like several other singers/bands more than Jack Johnson, but I do NOT like that so many of them have songs that are cleverly edited to be on the radio so the swear words are cut out and I didn’t want to hear that filth, so I chose Jack Johnson knowing his songs are clean and fun and not full of stuff I don’t like.

SO much fun to listen to his music!  Love his Hawaiian roots approach and fun sounds.

I made up a Powerpoint game for my sharing time the 23rd of July (luckily I made it the Sunday before so I was all ready even after the day trip.)  Elizabeth helped me make it better since she knows how to animate things on Powerpoint.  I came up with 8 questions based on the game “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.  I changed Millionaire to Pioneer.

I asked a lady in our ward to dress up like a pioneer (I took a bonnet, apron, and long skirt for her to add to her church clothes) for “Ask a Pioneer” instead of “Phone a Friend”. We had a Poll the Teachers instead of Poll the Audience.  I changed money to miles as well so it would be more appropriate for Sunday and pioneers.  I had everyone raise their hands to choose the right answer instead of putting one on the spot.  It worked out really nicely and they learned some new things.  I shared it on a facebook group I’m a part of that shares ideas for Primary so people all over used it in their pioneer sharing times too.  Loved it!  Once in a while I come up with clever ideas.

Olivia started a little violin boot camp with a friend learning from a friend of ours who is a sophomore this year and an excellent violinist.  We will meet with her several times in August so Olivia and her friend will be more ready for seventh grade orchestra and they can ask any questions they have.  We are paying the high schooler friend too so she’ll get some good experience with this and it’s worth her time. 

We are looking forward to the last month of summer and don’t have too much planned to finish out summer since we did so much in June.  We didn’t have any official out of town family reunions this year, but have a few next summer.  The kids have enjoyed playing with Legos, drawing, reading, watching too many movies, and hanging out with neighborhood friends.  Andy has been gone on work trips several weeks this summer, so we are having dinners that are easy and things he doesn’t like.  I’m working through my reading pile and even cleared out enough downloaded books on my kindle to do a factory reset to clean it up (couldn’t do what I needed to do without doing it that way unfortunately.) I still have tons of real books to read and hundreds of kindle books in the stash, but the downloaded ones I got other places are almost all off of it.

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Richland Stake Trek

It was forecast to be up to 107 degrees the first day of trek when we looked the night before.  I posted on FB for some prayers for us that we could do it safely and that the meteorologists would be wrong.  I actually said that if they go outside and feel hot to say a prayer for us on trek. When we woke up Monday morning the weather forecast had changed.  It gave a 20 percent chance of precipitation and the temperature was forecast to go down to 98 degrees instead (I’d take that over 107!)  When we went outside, the grass was wet with dew, so we thought that could be all the precipitation we got that day already done.

Cottonwood Ward Youth 14-18 headed out to the Trek. (Elizabeth’s in the front in the bright orangeish shirt.)

Andy and I headed out to the church owned property where the trek happens (Bing Canyon).  It’s on a part of AgriNorthwest, a church farm.

We collected all of this stuff because we are Pa/Ma and needed to have a lot of things ready for our family.  They told us we could have up to ten kids, so we opted to bring kind of large tents to make sure there would be plenty of room.

The carts all lined up and ready to be loaded up for the next several days.

Ma and Pa Ransom ready to go (and still clean and not super hot yet.)

The wards started showing up with the youth from the stake.  130 youth participated in the trek this year!  Elizabeth with her cute pioneer outfit.  She and Grandma Mary made the apron the week before.  She got the bonnet and skirt from our ward and I found the shirt at a thrift store for her to match her skirt.

All of us together before we were assigned our families.

After we were assigned our ten children, we headed around to different stations to collect some supplies in Iowa City.  At the hospital we all got babies.  The three families in our group (one from each company-including ours and Elizabeth’s) all got twin babies.  Other groups had babies with broken arms, some with colic, and another set that was adopted babies that they had to take to other families to feed them. Mostly I took this picture because that lady is super awesome and I helped a friend paint the canvases behind the shade in Iowa City.  She traced everything out and we had a painting party one morning.  It was great.  (I painted the sod roof on top of the hospital).

Our Ransom Family.  Six girls, four boys, and newborn twins.  We were ready to go!

Elizabeth’s family photo (don’t have an official one yet.)

Our company was the last one to leave, but eventually we headed out on our journey.

We had a flag to design.  One of our girls took charge of that when we had a few minutes to sit and rest.

We pushed, pushed, pushed the water with our kids.  The clue on the sole of my hiking boots that I bought before the trek four years ago melted due to the hot sand!  That’s how hot it was!  Andy guesses that the sand was close to 200 degrees.  There was duct tape holding shoes together all over the trail and we even passed by a few soles at the start.  Crazy!
I had to duct tape my left shoe together because the sole was starting to come loose.
Took shoes off at a rest stop to duct tape them and let my feet rest.  Had a little leaning party with my trek daughters so we could all rest our backs.
The first afternoon of Trek on June 26th when Richland and surrounding areas were experiencing a pretty terrible storm, with a lot of rain, hail, wind, broken branches, house fires from lightning, and flash floods, we were out on the trail with our families. The company Pa and Ma Ransom were in the green company which was assigned to be the last company of the day. We were down in the bottom of a canyon (best place to be when there is lightning) waiting out the storm.
Picture taken when we were at the bottom of the canyon with the other three carts in our company at the top just before they made them come down.
Our family got out a tarp and rested and talked about things and watched the sky.   We started to see lightning flash all around where we were.  The other carts that hadn’t come down to the valley yet were left at the top to get the kids down to safety.
Andy resting on the tarp.
One of our trek sons curled up a few inches away from Andy.  It was kind of cute.  He fell right asleep.  He was tired!
We were experiencing a lot of heat earlier in the day so the cloud cover was welcomed, but the storm didn’t seem to be hitting close to us. We looked up at the clouds and couldn’t even see ANY cloud movement above us. We were watching lightning strikes all around us, but missing where we were, right in the middle. We had more family time with our ten kids resting and talking and getting to know each other and also talking about faith. Other groups in the green company opted to do a more formal Family Home Evening and had their buckets out, sang songs, which was just what their family needed right then.
Some of our girls resting and waiting out the storm.
Eventually, they gave the signal that the rest of us could go up the huge hill, which the cart had to be tied with a rope and hauled up pulling on the rope like a tug-of-war, and the rest of us climbed up.
At the top of the huge hill after everyone was up, the wind started up again fiercely. Our family had to hurry and get out tarps for cover because the rain pounded down on us along with the dirt! It was wild!
Sorry these pictures are blurry.  The wind was too fast to make the camera focus.

After dinner I was shown a picture of the weather radar map that someone from Richland had sent to another trek mom that showed a donut looking shape of storm surrounding a hole in the middle directly where we were.

I know that we were protected from the storm with all of the prayers from those in Richland and beyond praying for us to be safe and protected. We did see a hill that seemed to be a long ways away that was on fire and there were trucks up there taking care of it. The next day we actually passed that fire while we were hiking. We heard that our Stake President, Don Powell was very busy with phone calls from concerned Richland Stake members worried about our youth out on trek because of the flash flood warnings and adverse weather conditions in Richland and the area. We were protected! What a miracle!
Wonderful week full of spiritual experiences: planned and unplanned.

That evening brought a beautiful sunset!

We set up camp when the wind settled down a little bit and made dinner in the back of a huge truck along with everyone else.  Dessert was a bundt cake that was steamed in a larger pot.  Ours turned out okay, but my friend’s didn’t.  She said it was terrible.  The water kept getting into her pan and making it a gooey mess.  I took her the rest of our cake that our kids didn’t want anymore of and they loved it.

Cooking breakfast the next morning in the huge truck.  It had been very windy all night.

Due to the fire danger in the area, this was the only place we were allowed to cook.  The rest of our meals were delivered to us.

We had someone take another family picture before we headed out Tuesday morning.

We came across a ‘rancher’ who happened to have a field of watermelons he wanted to share with us.  I think the food stops are the best.  Fresh, juicy watermelon is SO refreshing!  It was really hot this day too!

I like seeing when the wagons are all spread out.

A friend in our ward stopped by our house and picked up my tennis shoes for me so I could hike the rest of trek with a little traction instead of duct tape on the bottom of my hiking boots.  She was coming back for activities, so I switched out my shoes at lunchtime.

Another stop was ‘milking’ Bessie.  They had several stops that would determine what kind of lunch was given to each family the next day.  This is Elizabeth milking Bessie actually.

When we stopped for lunch, Elizabeth’s blue company was just leaving.  We snagged a picture of Elizabeth.  She was working hard and having a good time with her family.

We walked past the fire that happened the previous day.  So crazy!  So blessed!

Elizabeth at the end of day two.  Andy went around and made sure he had pictures of all of the kids in our ward for our ward newsletter.

We had a speaker who talked about choices and all about pioneers.

I didn’t take many pictures on the third day, but I did get some of my favorite part:  the steep downhill part where we turned the cart backwards to steer it down the hill.

They actually tell the Pa/Ma that we don’t need to help with the cart, but I wanted to help with this part.  Our oldest boy was helping with a backpack water sprayer for our company and another boy went home the first night because his feet that were already hurt from something else were hurting too bad (but he didn’t complain or even mention them the entire day and worked really hard all day!)  Anyway, I wanted to jump in and help here.

We had five of us across the bar and it was so much fun!

We took the cart across the ‘Sweetwater Crossing’.

And made it to Zion on Wednesday night.  Our green company and yellow company came into Zion together.  They wanted everyone to wait and come in together, but the blue company was struggling and was way behind us so they sent us in.

We parked our carts and went to wait on the grass for the blue company to come in so we could cheer for them.  Instead, one of the company leaders said that whoever wanted to was welcome to go and rescue the blue company who were struggling so much.  Nearly ALL of the kids jumped right back up and ran out to help.  At that point over 100 kids were on the trail trying to help with five carts.  They were so quick to jump up and help each other and I loved seeing that enthusiasm and love of each other.

Blue company heading into Zion.

Elizabeth’s family cart was the first one in for blue company.  She was right there in the front with some boys and they were running as they passed the gate.  I thought it was so wonderful that she was ‘running into Zion’!  She said they were pushing so hard that the kids in front had to run to keep up, but I like it anyway. She said most of the time she was up front with the boys in her family pulling the handcart.

There were several people in the blue company who were really hurting.  One had a super swollen knee that she’d had surgery on the previous year, a Ma had blisters all over her feet, another had a hurt ankle.  A few were super close to being sent home because they weren’t feeling well.  I’m glad they were able to stay and made it to Zion with their families.

That night we set up camp in Zion and had a feast!  The activities committee set up a pie eating contest for the Pa’s.  The Ma’s had to be behind them to help them wipe their faces afterwards. (There were a few stand ins because one Pa wouldn’t do it and another has diabetes), but Andy did it and nearly won.  If you are looking for us, I’m in the brown shirt.

They had a hoedown that night and a few moments of reflection as well.

The next morning we had a morning-side devotional. They shared some stories and then divided us into groups of two families to share testimonies before coming back to have the rest of the devotional.  It was wonderful.

Picture of Elizabeth next to her trek Ma on the last morning.  As soon as they got into Zion, both of Elizabeth’s Ma and Pa came over to Andy and I and told us how awesome she is.  I’m so glad she had this experience!  

We survived!  It was kind of nice to get home before noon since mostly Thursday morning we just had to break camp and put everything away.

It was hot.  It was hard.  It was tiring and exhausting.  But it was WORTH IT!  Every bit of it.  The messages received, the answered prayers, the service rendered, the testimonies built, the friendships made.

I decided that four years ago I was in better shape physically and this time I was in better shape spiritually.  I spent quite a bit of the two months before trek reading all about pioneers in my own family line and others.   Andy and I read talks about the subjects that each day was going to be devoted to learning about on trek.  We researched our own ancestors and learned things we didn’t know before.  I rewrote a few histories so they would be easier to read and understand and with one compiled several different accounts of her life that I found because they asked each person to come with the name of someone they could walk to honor.

I learned that no matter how slow you go, if you have faith in every footstep, you will get to where you need to be.  Life isn’t a race.  Head in the right direction and you’ll be okay.

I learned that children really are sent to the right families.  We had a few daughters who told us that some other kids thought our family wasn’t a very good one to be assigned to and they were trying to convince them otherwise because they thought our family was the best and I just told them that the people who assigned the families prayed about it and sent them to the right one for them, just like their real family is the right family for them.  And it’s even better if you believe that YOUR family is the best one.  Loved all those kids!

We really did enjoy hot showers on Thursday afternoon though!  I expect that the city water people were trying to figure out why there was so much dirt going through the pipes all afternoon and extra water usage.

I got all the laundry started, including sleeping bags, started washing the kitchen stuff and boxes we took because everything was covered in dirt, and got the things we borrowed ready to return.  Andy and Olivia went to the store and picked up a little treat to deliver with thank you notes that Andy and I took around before going out to dinner.

And now Andy’s mustache-less.  Thank goodness!  I don’t like facial hair at all, but put up with it occasionally when there’s a real reason for it like trek or a Halloween costume.

Elizabeth had a great experience too and says she will remember it the rest of her life and now has lifelong friends in her trek siblings.  When we returned a bucket to a member of the Stake Presidency with a treat on Sunday night with Elizabeth, he asked her if they should continue to have trek and she said that they absolutely should because it builds their testimonies and strengthens them and that she had a great time and made lasting memories.

A HUGE thank you goes out to Grandma Mary who watched our other three kids for the days we were on trek.  It was so nice to know that they were taken care of and would be safe.  We didn’t worry about them at all knowing that she was taking care of them.


Cape Disappointment

We were invited to go to a friend’s 10th anniversary camping party with their family and friends the last weekend in June way back in September when the spots were open for registering a spot.  We registered for all four days; Friday-Tuesday and kept having to cross our fingers that the school date changes due to snow wouldn’t affect trek.  They did though.  We ended up having to adjust our camping reservations and drive home on Sunday instead so we could start the Trek on Monday.  It all worked out.

We left early Friday morning to go to the Washington Coast.  Cape Disappointment is just on the Washington side across the Columbia River from Astoria, Oregon.  Although we had been to Astoria several times since we got married, we hadn’t been to Cape Disappointment.  And we weren’t disappointed.

On the way there, we came to a standstill and waited for probably 20 minutes at a stop along the highway.  Eventually a police car, firetruck, and then two ambulances came past.  We decided to turn around and try to find another way to where we needed to be.  We couldn’t find the right turn off and turned around again and got back in the standstill line on the highway much further back from where we were initially.  We discovered later that we had passed the turn off we had been looking for and took it and never did quite figure out what had happened ahead of where we had stopped.  This ended up adding at least an hour to our trip.

We played some car games, MadLibs, Alphabet Animals (like if the first person says, “alligator”, the next says an animal that starts with the letter B and it continues), and Alphabet Train where if you start you say a word like “Coast” and the next person has to start their word with the letter T and so on.  This was really good for Abby especially to be able to sound them out, figure out which letter it was, and then think of the right thing to say.  We also played a guess-the-character game the way you’d play 20 questions.  So one person thinks of a character and then tells us to start asking questions.  We can ask if it’s a cartoon character, from a tv show, movie, color of the character, if they are in more than one episode, etc.  Pretty fun.

The car was LOADED (actually I finished packing for trek Monday and packed and loaded the car Tuesday with everything I could for the coast so we could relax a little the rest of the week.)  Elizabeth is back there next to the pile of stuff.

We were stopped next to this pretty flower some of the time as we waited for the accident.

When we got to the coast we unpacked into our Yurt we rented (permanent tent with wood floors, a high ceiling, heat, electricity, and lighting, plus a twin/full bunkbed and a full futon).  Elizabeth opted to not share a bed, so Olivia and Abby shared the top bunk twin and Vincent slept on the futon still in couch shape.  We brought a foam mat for Elizabeth to sleep on the floor (her choice). Some people brought their trailers, others brought tents, we had our yurt, and my friend’s parents stayed at a B&B close by (it’s their anniversary too!)

We headed over to our friend’s trailer spot to see if they needed help with dinner (we were eating all the meals there together), but they were still waiting on the chili for the fritos-banditos to get there in his parent’s car, so we headed down to the beach to check it out.

The kids played in the little circular driveway that was separate from the main road that was shared by each set of ten campsites.

Ready to play at the beach!  (Elizabeth opted to stay in the yurt and draw.  She’s working on some projects.)

Found some tide pools to play in.

So, so sad that this picture turned out blurry… =(

View of the lighthouse from the beach.  It’s actually under construction right now so we couldn’t go inside.

Some of the tidepools were pretty deep!

Abby found some pretty shells she needed to save.

Abby and two friends to play with.

Me and my buddy Ally.  So glad they invited us to go on this campout with them.  We had a good time hanging out with them and their family and other friends.The next day we had breakfast with our friends (bagel sandwiches-egg, canadian bacon, cheese and fruit to eat) and then our family headed out to do a little bit of touristing.  We visited the Astoria Tower and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse (and Fred Meyer, but that’s hardly a tourist visit).

Vincent at breakfast.

Abby helping walk our friend’s dog around with her buddy.

Abby found some wildflowers to share.
Olivia ready to go!  The sooner we could finish errands and tourist visits, the sooner she could play at the beach!


Vincent waiting for us outside the yurt.

Vincent, Abby, and Luke checking out the yurt from the screen window on the side.

Vincent by the yurt.

Astoria Column.  There are 164 stairs in a spiral staircase inside that leads up to a small overlook at the top.  We all climbed it and the kids tossed a little balsa wood airplane (purchased for $1 at the gift shop) from the top. There are different main parts of the area’s history wrapped on a mural all around the column.

This is what it looked like from the top.  To the left of the walkway, by the man in the red shirt, is one of our planes flying down.

Abby, Elizabeth, Vincent, and Olivia at the top.

Andy and I at the top of the Astoria Tower.

This photograph looks like a painting to me.  Beautiful view!!!

A little depiction of what the inside looks like.  That’s a LOT of stairs!

Photo of the HUGE bridge connecting this part of Oregon to Washington. You can hardly even see that on the far side there’s another big bridge closer to Washington.  We liked going over this.  Our friend’s mom said she didn’t know what she was going to do because she might have to stay at the campsite and have her husband visit her there because the bridge freaked her out so much.Related image

Love to see the ships and barges in the river!

We hiked over to the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse after we got back to Washington.  Had a little photo op there too.


Elizabeth was our photographer most of the day.  She took this picture of all of us except for her close to the lighthouse.

And a little snapshot of Elizabeth with Vincent.

And all of our kids together!

Another shot of us on a bench.

We stopped by a gift shop at the lighthouse and there was a bird’s nest with baby birds to peek at.  So tiny and cute.

We got back in time for sandwiches for lunch and went to the beach again.  We forgot to pack sunscreen but didn’t notice until after we had already gone to the store, so we skipped it.  I got a bad sunburn on my chest… and because of the wind pulling my shirt collar, it’s not even even.

These three most wanted to play in the waves.  Andy and Elizabeth went out exploring by the jetty for a bit.

Vincent at the ocean.

Abby posing by the ocean.

Olivia LOVES the water at the ocean!

Abby wrote her name in the sand.

And Abby flew her kite for a little bit.  The wind was CRAZY strong!

Vincent and Olivia jumping waves.

When Olivia got bored of jumping waves, she sat down and let them come to her.

Vincent flying his kite.

We walked down to another part of the beach and ran into Andy who got back from the jetty.  He kept Vincent with him because Vincent wasn’t done playing on the beach yet and I took both girls back to the yurt to change.

Some of the group playing games in the afternoon.

Ally and Jason with the crabs they bought.  Happy 10th Anniversary!

Ally made some Red Lobster cheddar biscuits.  They were delicious!

Abby ‘started’ the fire.

Abby sweet-talked Ally’s brother who gave her a clam to try.  She ate it and saved the shell.  She didn’t like it much though.

Vincent tried the crab meat.  He wanted to try the clams, but they were already gone by then.

Vincent liked the crab meat.  Saturday evening was the planned big dinner crab dinner.  Most of the people (30!) went and bought some crabs locally to bring back to cook.  We opted to just eat the side dishes for dinner since we don’t like seafood.

It was great to go camping with one of my best friends!  We always have a good time together.

The whole group who was there on Saturday night.  SO much fun!

Andy and I headed down to the beach to watch the sun set.  It was beautiful!

There were some thin clouds on the horizon distorting the sun, but I thought it looked really cool.

Gorgeous waves!

And after the sun set, it was still so pretty!

When we got back to the campsite (we left our kids there with our friends) they had added some vitamins to the fire to make fun colored flames.

Sunday morning we packed up our yurt and stopped by our friend’s place for breakfast. We had pancakes, bacon, and eggs with hot chocolate for breakfast before heading out for home.

When we got home we took all the camping stuff out of the car and immediately reloaded it with all of the trek stuff that I had set aside ready to go.  I went over to my neighbor across the street who was outside watching this to explain a little why we were reloading as soon as we got home and chatted for a bit about what the trek is and why we are doing it along with a ‘pray for me. it’s supposed to be 107 degrees Monday…’ and I mentioned my sunburn and showed it to her.  She came over a few minutes later with some miracle cream that took all of the sting of the sunburn right out and made me comfortable again.  I am going to need to buy some of that.  I used it twice on Sunday night and once Monday morning and didn’t need it again!

Our friends are thinking about making this an annual tradition.  Sounds fun to us, but we’ll see if it works on years we have family reunions.  This year is an odd no reunion year so this was pretty much our only summer trip.

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June 2017

Our trip to the Pacific Ocean and Stake Pioneer Trek will be separate blogs.

Because of the nine snow days this winter, school was extended to June 15th.  Early in June The Reptile Man came to visit the students with an assembly and had an evening show families were invited to as well.  Abby and Vincent really liked it.

Abby with the giant tortoise.
Vincent and Abby with a friend and the huge python.

The kindergarten classes had a fun concert full of Mother Goose songs.  Abby really got into it.  She’s a little dramatic.
This one is my favorite.
Luckily, they had a daytime performance because the evening show was during one of my last shifts at work.  You read that right.  I gave my notice at Kohl’s and had my last shift there.  I needed less stress and a break from all the frustrations there.
Olivia, Vincent, and Abby had a successful lemonade stand early in the month.  Vincent rode around advertising it and they made quite a bit of spending money.
Andy and I hiked Candy Mountain three times this month (maybe once last month is in that count.)  Nice hike to get us ready for Trek.
Pretty view from up on top.
Our Stake had a special Stake Conference with Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visiting along with Joni Koch of the Seventy.  The talks were so great and the spirit was felt.  Truth was taught.  And the kids remembered many of the things that were taught there too, even weeks later!
The dentist recommended that both Olivia and Vincent have checkups at the orthodontist to see about getting braces.   It’s kind of a mess.  Some baby teeth are still working their way in, others don’t have room to come in, and many of the teeth coming in are coming in crooked.  The plan is to start him with a brace on the roof of his mouth for six months to see if that will give him more room and make his other front teeth come down and then start braces after all of his permanent teeth come in.
This is Vincent’s x-ray of his mouth.
The plan for Olivia is to wait six months until her last permanent teeth come all the way in.  Luckily, our new dental insurance will cover some of the orthodontist cost.
Before school got out, I hurried to finish a project I’ve been wanted to do.  I sanded and painted the base of our family room cabinet under our long bar counter.  My friend Ally came over to help and the sister missionaries stopped by too.  We got it all done before the kids got home on the last day of school.  We painted THREE coats of black paint.
I kind of love it!  I’m going to work on the top of the counter next.  I think we’ll find some texturing paint to just cover what’s up there already.
The little doors are covering the skinny cupboard that is really there just to have access to the plumbing for the kitchen sink on the other side.
On the last day of school Olivia’s sixth period class was invited to a laser tag party by a boy in her class whose dad just started this business.  We paid the $10 and dropped her off in the rain to play for a few hours.  She loved it.  She said it was her new favorite sport.
Pretty good group of kids to play laser tag in the rain.  Even her teacher came with two of his kids to play.  So fun!
We had a chance to go and watch a cousin play baseball when we had a free afternoon and it was close by.  Vincent and Abby used some of their lemonade stand money to buy a treat while they watched.
One of Abby’s friends had a birthday party.  They had a wonderful time playing and crafting and running around.
The school library is open twice a week so we went to check it out and check out some books.  It was well attended and there were friends to do things with there.
We spent a few afternoons swimming at a friend’s pool since it was so hot!
Our neighbor across the street came over and invited us to pick raspberries in her backyard.  Abby and I picked enough to make some delicious freezer jam.
I celebrated another birthday!  After quitting Kohl’s I had a solid week before the kids were out of school to get some things taken care of.  One day I went shopping with a friend at the mall and helped with the yearbooks at the school.  Another day I went to the Temple with a few friends and then out to lunch (where they told them it was almost my birthday so they sang to me and brought over a treat.)
Andy was gone on a trip until the evening of my birthday/our anniversary.  We went out to eat at Olive Garden.  Very good!
My parents stopped by to drop off a birthday gift too.  So nice!
My first ever best friend Desi came up for a visit.  She and I were best friends starting in kindergarten until I moved away to Burbank.  We were penpals after that and never lost touch.  So great to catch up with her.  We visited all day and then Andy took us out to eat at Red Robin for dinner.
I scanned some old pictures and made them into a collage for fun.  This one is from when we were little.
And this one is from after I moved away, plus the one from her visit.
The friend who went to the mall with me helped me pick out this yellow skirt so I found a blue shirt to go with it.  I thought it looked pretty nice.
We bought Andy a giant light up Rubik’s Cube for Father’s Day.  He seemed to like it.
Grandpa Paul invited Elizabeth to go and help him with Walla Walla’s Cub Scout Day Camp.  Grandma Mary picked her up early enough to put the rest of her Spring Break quilt top together.  Looks great!
One of our former cub scouts got his mission call to Bangkok Thailand. So excited for him!
Elizabeth finished a summer goal of painting her siblings like her self portrait she made at school this year in art.  She wants to make more for other people and sell them.  If you are interested, contact her at easyransom@gmail.com
I love how they turned out!  I need to frame them and find a place I want to hang them.
Still to come from our June-Coast Trip and Trek.
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May 2017

The quilt Olivia made over Spring Break with Grandma Mary was in the quilt show in Pendleton this month.  It’s SO pretty!  She did a great job and is lucky to have a talented Grandma to teach her useful skills.
My mom and I went to an author signing about an hour away to meet Wanda Brunstetter.  She writes a lot of Amish romances, which are clean, spiritual, and fun to read.  My mom started reading her books because there were some set in a quilt shop and lent that series to me and since then I’ve checked almost all of her books out at our local library.  It was a fun little roadtrip.
I had another road trip to see my cousin to cut my hair this month.  She did some highlights for me and thinned it out a little so it lays nicely and chopped off several inches.  I’ve been wearing it straight more often this month.
My mother in law had a big crafting party at her mountain home the day before Mother’s Day.  Andy drove me up there and then took Vincent and Abby with him to go and see some sites and drive around.  I made these HOME letters that have a different O for each season (Snowman/Flower/Watermelon/Pumpkin) and they each even have another little seasonal thing to go with them.  I made it for my buddy Ally.  She was going to come, but has been under the weather a lot of the last few months and just couldn’t do it.
George made a delicious lunch for all of us crafty ladies.
I had a nice Mother’s Day morning.  Elizabeth made me some breakfast and Abby and Vincent helped her.  They all gave me nice cards and little gifts from school and church.
The youth took Primary over for the third hour so our teachers and presidency could go to Relief Society.  We had an excellent lesson all about the Savior.  I decided that if I could only go to one RS lesson a year, that was the perfect one!
We ate an early dinner and headed to Walla Walla to visit my mom.  
One of my brothers brought his three kids and my sister came over with her two boys.
It was a little too much for the living room at my parents and most of us ended up at the park a block or so away to let the kids play.  It reminded me of playing baseball in our backyard as a kid on Sunday evenings when the weather was nice.
Elizabeth said she’d play if I batted too.  I think I surprised her when I agreed.  I hit the first pitch even in my dress and without playing for a few decades.  Unfortunately, it was a fly ball right to my nearly professional nephew who caught it, but I hit it!
A nice picture with Grandma Mary and nine of her 21 grandchildren.
The elementary school had a volunteer breakfast the morning of the PTA Carnival.  The classes all made signs that said thank you and I found the hand Abby colored.
They had a photo booth that we had to try out.
And then I went home for a half hour nap before going with a friend to pick up ALL of the food for the concessions at the carnival.  It completely filled my Hyundai Veracruz. I made all of the back seats flat and Amanda even had the nacho cheese cans by her feet in the passenger seat at the end.  I helped in the concessions during the carnival.
Olivia has been practicing “Love at Home” with three other girls (two violists and two flutists) and a young lady who accompanied them on the piano.  They shared their song at the rest home when our ward was in charge of a Sunday evening service.

I know you want a video.  Go HERE to watch it. (This is with just two practices all together.)  They also played the last Sunday in May during Sacrament Meeting at church.
I thought that it would be fun to go on a hike as a family on a Monday evening since Andy, Elizabeth, and I need to make sure we are ready for the Trek this summer.  I heard that Candy Mountain trail was new and a little easier than Badger Mountain’s hike (which is mostly hard for me because one of the sides starts with a HUGE section of stairs).  We parked where Google said the trailhead was and started up.  We quickly figured out that this wasn’t quite as easy as advertised and actually wasn’t even the right trail!  The path we went on was a service road that firetrucks use if the mountain catches on fire or to do other maintenance at the top.  We forged on anyway.  Vincent, Olivia, and Abby are fast little hikers.
When he could see the top metal satellite/radio tower sticking up and we were close to the real trail, Andy told Olivia we’d meet them at the top and to wait there.  We took the winding path that led us mostly to the other side of the mountain (and lost Elizabeth somewhere along the way because she didn’t keep up and didn’t know where we went when I thought she was going to just give up and walk back to the car).  When Andy and I got to the top, no one was there and we couldn’t see the kids.  I thought I spotted Elizabeth at the car, but when I zoomed in with my camera, she wasn’t there.  Andy went back down the steep path (and I should have too!) to check on them (they were all at the car when he got down and they were just fine.)  I decided I wanted to try out the real path, so I went down the other way.  It took longer even going down because of all of the switchbacks and distance.  Eventually I shot out at the parking lot and started walking along the road to meet up with Andy and the kids and the car.  I left my phone at the house charging so it was just me and all peaceful and beautiful, but I wished I’d had it so I could call Andy and tell him where the parking lot was.  I walked a few more miles before I got to a gas station (where they wouldn’t let me use their phone) and borrowed a phone from a nice guy who was buying something there.  Andy and the kids had been waiting at the car for about 45 minutes for me to get there assuming the parking lot was closer or that I’d be there soon.  Needless to say, this was not the most successful hiking trip and everyone was GRUMPY when I got back to the car.
Andy and I hiked the real trail the next day without the kids and it was a nice, smooth, gradual climb with gravel trail and good weather.  My legs were sore though since I hiked so much the previous day.
And Wednesday the Young Women in our ward had a 5K Color Run to celebrate their Personal Progress.  They invited parents to come and Olivia threw some of the color along the path.  Elizabeth asked me to walk with her (and then ditched me for two other walkers and they were just ahead of me). This is the before picture when everyone was fresh and clean.  I don’t have the after one yet.  Everyone had a great time though!
Vincent is doing well in 3rd grade.  He and a buddy of his from church/cub scouts both memorized all of their multiplication facts.
With this nice weather comes a lot of testing for third graders.  As a treat their teacher did a bunch of fun things for them in the afternoons.  They each got sunglasses one day, outside chalk time for math another day, and reading outside.
We went to Rollarena for a school skate night early in the month.  Vincent and two of his friends hung out a lot there.  He’s getting really fast!
Another funny Vincent thing was that he wanted to give some of his donation at church to the Dearings (a family we know).  That’s not quite how those work… but I had to take a picture and send it to them.
Elizabeth and Abby were both featured artists in a school district art exhibit held at Washington State University Tri-Cities this month.  Their art teachers decided which works to add to the show.
I asked Elizabeth to stand next to her self portrait and try to make the same face.  She’s quite the artist!
She drew this portrait of Chief Joseph too.  I liked her detail.
Abby drew and colored the fish WAY up at the top of the area designated for our school.
Close up of the cutest fish ever.
We had Rory with us to go out and check out the art from students in our school district.
Abby was the only one who wanted a picture by the WSU in flowers.  I teased on Facebook that the clover in the front of the WSU sign spells out Cougars (their mascot).  Look really close!
No, no it doesn’t….
Abby’s kindergarten class had ladybug day.  The older three kids all had the same teacher, so I kind of know what to expect.  Elizabeth’s Ladybug Day HERE. Olivia’s Day HERE.  Vincent’s Day HERE.
They sang cute songs about ladybugs and showed a bunch of things they learned about ladybugs and then had a little snack and Abby and I read an adorable Ladybug book.
Abby REALLY liked singing!
Saturday I took Vincent and Elizabeth to the local library where they tried out for a local fanfilm of a Zelda story the son of one of my friend’s wrote.  I’ll let you know what comes of their audition sometime this summer.
Monday was Memorial Day.  I went to work in the morning and in the afternoon we headed over to Pasco where the traveling Vietnam memorial wall was set up.  I had no idea how many names were on the wall.  I thought each line was one person, but each line is several people!
I love this country and I’m so grateful to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
Some cool military trucks were set up.  Abby pretended to drive this one.
We are in front of a medic van.  The big black things between Abby and Vincent are walkie-talkies.  They are very big!
There are Veteran Memorials all around the park here.
One of our kids said they felt sad seeing all those names on the wall.  We told them that what they are feeling is a good thing because that means they know that it’s important to remember them and appreciate them.
We dropped off a bag full of Hot Wheel cars and Polly Pockets to a friend’s house on the way home.  She has a nephew on a mission in Africa and the missionary sees kids playing with Hot Wheels in the dirt there, sometimes even without wheels!  What happy little souls he must be meeting there.  Anyway, they are collecting small toys for the missionary to give away to kids while he’s out so we went through all of our small collections and found a lot to give away to kids who need them.
And after all the good stuff, we headed to Jason and Ally’s for a Birthday BBQ Swimming Party.  It was a great day for swimming.  I like their pool because in the afternoon there is a part in the shade and part in the sun, so if you get too hot in the sun you can move to the shade (mostly for me with fair skin since I don’t want to burn.)
Vincent can do little backwards somersaults now in the pool.
Elizabeth and Olivia played a bunch of games together and were laughing and having a good time.
Abby isn’t super confident in the water so we borrowed a swim float for her to wear to kick around the pool.
Happy birthday, Jason!  Thanks for the BBQ Ally!
Olivia likes their dog Demi.  Demi doesn’t like the pool much.
Last week I took the kids over to Ally’s pool to swim one day after school when it was really hot.  I got the kids all sunscreened and blew up the giant shark a neighbor gave us and when Abby tried out the shark, it tipped her right off.  Olivia and Rory were on one side of it and couldn’t get to Abby (who wasn’t wearing the vest then) so Ally jumped in to rescue her.
We decided the whale needed more air and a spotter to help steady it.
Abby even tried again a little later.  Rory helped her out with her special horse trainer skills.
In other news, I’ve given my notice at Kohl’s.  I’m too stressed out there and I’m frustrated by a lot of things and a part-time job shouldn’t be this hard both on my body and well-being.  I’ve decided to stay home with the kids this summer and reevaluate in the fall what I want to do/if I want to work.  I’m excited to play more this summer with the kids and be together!  I just have a few shifts left before I say, “Adios!” to Kohl’s (at least working there.  I’ll still shop there because I love the deals!)
Olivia had a final sixth grade orchestra concert tonight (the last day in May).  She was in the middle in the back though so I couldn’t see her during the performance this time, just her bow moving as she played.  This is the most I saw of her face just before they started.
I caught her afterwards.  They did a great job!  She’s always improving.  We have arranged with a high schooler we know to teach her and a friend this summer once a week.  She’s excited about that!
Video clip of the first song HERE.
Second song HERE.
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April 2017 Part Two: 2 Weddings and a Funeral + Reunion

I’m super sad that these went together.  Like shocked and still cannot think very hard about that last one without crying, but I’m grateful for the beautiful reminders of the blessings of the Temple Sealing promises that helped me so much this month.

Andy’s cousin on his mom’s side was married Easter Weekend in the Columbia River Temple (a cousin’s son was married the previous day in San Diego as well).

Congratulations to Sammi and Donald! (We weren’t actually there when they came out because we had to hurry to the Easter Egg Hunt for our ward).

I did get a nice picture of Andy and I in front of our Columbia River Temple though.

There was SO much fun dancing at the reception.  Three of our kids danced nearly the whole time.
Andy and I joined them too.
Felt pretty good to be out there dancing!
So many people having so much fun doing big group dances.

Andy’s cousin on his dad’s side was married in Logan, Utah Temple the following weekend. My mom was kind enough to come over and hang out with the kids for Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday so we could get away without the kids. She blogged a little about it here.

I left the kids each a little list of chores to do while Grandma was here.  They didn’t do much of it, but they got a good report from Grandma.  (I made them finish the chores over the next few days after school.)

Andy and I went over to the Logan Temple early on Saturday morning to do a session before the sealing.
Gary and Tricia have eight children.  This is their picture with ALL of their kids, spouses, and grandkids so far.
Congratulations to Jason and Jennie!
We drove home the Sunday after the wedding.  It was pretty rainy during parts of the drive, but Andy and I had a good time visiting and singing along with the songs on the stereo.

One of my sweet cousins who was only 25 years old passed away due to complications with pneumonia.  I’m still confused about how that happens to someone so young and full of life, but regardless, it happened and her husband and three beautiful daughters under five years old are left without their wife and mother.

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people sitting, child and stripes

One time our Crowther family went bowling. I can’t remember why or when, but I know we had a good time.  I always had fun anytime we were able to hang out with our cousins.  Picture below with Brenda and Shannon (I’m that young one in the striped shirt.)

Shannon was so talented.  She excelled in sports and music and was an excellent seamstress.  She made her own wedding dress and also made dresses for her daughters on many occasions.  These sweet dresses were made for Easter just a few weeks ago using the same fabric for each, but a different pattern. I think these girls are so beautiful and sweet and my heart aches for them.

We had a Crowther reunion planned for the last weekend in April since last November.  We met at a local park and ate lunch and the kids played and played while everyone caught up with each other.  One of the benefits of having 25 grandchildren in your family is always having someone with a kid the same age as your kid.
One of my cousins brought water bottle rockets.  Elizabeth helped out the younger kids by holding the bottle down while someone else pumped so it could fly farther, even though that meant she had most of the water shot at her too.
Vincent on the pump.
An audience.
Abby made good friends again with Shannon’s little girl.  We had them over on Olivia’s birthday last summer while their mom went to a college class and then hung out longer at a local park.  I asked the two older girls if they remembered coming to play at our house and at the rainbow park and they both acted like they remember.  I really hope they remember things from this stage in their lives.

There were open tennis courts at the park too.  That kept the kids busy.
There are 25 grandkids on my dad’s side.  18 are pictured.  One was at a ball game for a child just a few miles away by the time we took the picture.  Others weren’t able to get away this weekend.
But we did leave a space for Shannon, who I’m sure was there in spirit.  We lined up in age order, just like old times.
April 30th is the day Grandpa and Grandma Crowther were married which is why this weekend was chosen. Picture of everyone at the Crowther reunion.  Quite a crew and this probably isn’t even half of our big family now.  We always miss those who aren’t able to make it though.
Just for fun, I cropped this picture my aunt took of a group because I like how cute my husband is.
I have LOVED being in the Temple often this month.  Twice for weddings and two others for ordinances.  In the midst of trials, the spirit of the Temple can bring great joy and peace.  I need to spend more time there.
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April 2017 Part One: Track and Crafts and Easter and Clot Trot

Don’t those go together?  No?  Okay… Too much going on in April to make just one post. Even divided into two, this will be kind of long…

Elizabeth started track at her middle school this year.  She is able to sign up for four events at each track meet.  So far she is sticking with shot put, discus, high jump, and the 100 meter dash.  She is learning a lot and trying her best, but mostly just having a great time with friends on the team.

I may have said the same thing on the post last month, but these are new pictures.  She did get a track sweatshirt and I bought her some leggings.

Throwing the discus.  Her discus coach is behind her on the field.  Luckily, she didn’t hit him.
Trying out the high jump…still hasn’t made it over the bar.
I took Vincent and Abby with me to Elizabeth’s track meet the end of April and she offered Abby a piggy-back ride.

Elizabeth and Olivia were able to spend the second part of Spring Break visiting Grandma Mary at Grandma Quilting Camp. My mom designed the blocks and taught them how to make them.  They chose fabric from her collection and arranged the blocks on the quilt in their own order. My mom’s blog about it here and here.

Olivia was quilting the whole day before quilt camp started making four patch squares to be added to a larger quilt later.

Olivia finished the top of her quilt and even helped Grandma start quilting it.  It’s going to be at a quilt show the first week in May.  Elizabeth decided to make extra blocks, so her’s isn’t quite done yet.

While the older girls were away, we had a playdate with some friends. We met them at a park and they played for a few hours. It was awesome.

And then Abby came home and decided to start a flower stand in the front yard where she can sell flowers.  She likes to make up songs too.

Olivia helped to arrange an Easter Egg Hunt for our Primary kids to fulfill one of her Faith in God requirements.  It was on the Saturday before Easter and was pretty well attended. Several Primary kids came over Tuesday afternoon to help fill the eggs and some showed up early to help hide the eggs as well.  I even invited the missionaries to help with that. Olivia planned a few games too.  (This is NOT all the kids who were there.  We had about 40 kids.)

Abby with one of her Easter Eggs.
The Easter Bunny left baskets for our family.
After church we fed the sister missionaries.  I made them special Easter Baskets.  One of them said at her house their baskets were always hidden and they had to find them and she asked if we could hide it for her.  The kids hid them outside before dinner. We took a few pictures too.  Since it was after church, we aren’t all still in church clothes.
Andy would like me to mention that if he’d known we were going to take a family photo, he would have put his tie back on.
Our sister missionaries with their Easter Baskets.

We were able to attend the TENTH annual Clot Trot.  We have been to all of them since they started and because of that, Sam Smith (Andy’s former boss whose son started the Clot Trot as a Boy Scout Eagle project), asked us to be on the news with him the day before.  Andy was gone on a trip for work and couldn’t join us, but I took the kids (SO early in the morning).

The news station wanted us to meet them at the park at six am.  Then there was an emergency, so the anchor who was set up there ended up having to pack up and hurry to the more important story and we went to the news station (we didn’t go to the park first though since Sam sent me a text).  She asked me why we do the Clot Trot each year and I babbled about something like to support Sam and his son initially but also because it’s fun and we can learn more about blood disorders like Hemophilia which is what Aaron has.  Then she asked Abby which race she was going to run: the 10K, the 5K, or the mile.  Abby told her she didn’t know what any of those were.  I answered for her that we usually do the mile.

Miss Washington was at the news studio for a piece that morning too.  We were able to meet her and chat for a little bit before it was our turn.  She’s very nice and is busy with a lot of different things: college, work, and pageant stuff.  She just competed for Miss America and got third runner up.

Just for fun I made up a little timeline of all of our Clot Trot pictures through the years.

I think Andy and Abby are the only ones who haven’t been to all of them.  Some years one or the other of us aren’t pictured, but I think Andy missed two: one due to work (that Sam sent him on) and the other because the run was on a Tuesday and so was mutual.  Abby hasn’t been to all of them because she wasn’t born yet when it started.  Vincent was an infant the first year, but we don’t have a picture of that.

We always like seeing the fire truck Sam owns.

Andy and I drove that old truck in a county fair parade when we were first married and had a local cheer group behind us doing a M-I-C-K-E-Y cheer for hours.  And it was very hot.  Anytime we were too sick of them cheering, we’d pull the siren.

Our family picture for the tenth Clot Trot.

Just the kids in front of the fire truck.

I took Olivia and two of her friends from orchestra to an orchestra concert for Barrage8.  They are a fun band of violins, viola, bass, and guitar along with drums who dance while they play beautiful and fun songs.  They sing as well.  It was a lot of fun to take these girls to the concert.
Vincent’s still taking piano lessons.  I took this photo during one of them.  Audrey Clark is an excellent piano teacher.  He’s learning a lot and sounding better and better all the time.
Morning with Mom at Jason Lee Elementary School.  We had donuts and juice.  So fun.
Our elementary book fair had a fun family event last week.  They had face painting, a book walk, fishing pond, guessing jars, and a few giveaways along with the book fair.  The kids had a great time and brought home several new books each.
The house of our neighbor who passed away last year has been sold.  We are looking forward to meeting our new neighbors soon.
Because Andy and I have been asked to be Pa and Ma on trek again this summer and because of back pain and chiropractic rehab, I’m trying to be better at getting outside and walking more.  Olivia is always quick to be my walking buddy, especially if I tell her we’ll have time to watch “The Voice” on Hulu afterwards.
Between all of that was plenty of school, work, and church callings and the rest of the story which is in Part Two coming up.
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March 2017

*Birthday*Walking*Track*Orchestra*Pinewood Derby*Lost Tooth*

SO much going on in March!

Andy had a birthday.  I found some fun Star Wars pictures to hang on the wall in the family room and a cool apron for him to go along with the kid aprons I found.

We made him a cake.  Vincent tried to blow out the candles first. (See picture below.)

But he missed some, so Andy was able to finish them off after he made his birthday wish.

We bought a triple bunkbed this month and built it in the girl’s room, which now includes Abby.  They all get to share a room and are getting used to different bedtimes.
Abby lost her first tooth at church and another just after church.  Our other kids were all in first grade before they lost their first teeth.
Olivia had a middle school orchestra concert. I was able to slip in just as the orchestra teacher started introducing her group.  Work is BUSY! Olivia played beautifully and we had several friends and family members there to support her.
She also sold some popcorn for an orchestra fundraiser and delivered it this month.

I took my two older girls to watch Beauty and the Beast’s remake.  It was beautiful and I thought it was well done.  The girls enjoyed it too.

Belle was in the foyer before the show.

We had two of Abby’s friends over after a half day (before parent-teacher conferences) to make some sugar cookies.  Abby was sad to miss a birthday for one of them because it was on a Sunday, so we invited her and another friend over to play.  They had a fun time.  I made the dough and frosting the night before.

Vincent and Abby had good reports at parent-teacher conferences.  Abby needs to work on learning to read more, but is doing well.  Vincent is doing great and just needs to make sure he turns in his homework.
Here’s a little story about Abby in kindergarten:

Abby was telling me about a boy in her kindergarten class and how they have crushes on each other.
I told her about how long it will be before she needs to worry about crushes and how she doesn’t need to hold hands or kiss or have a boyfriend yet.
She asked if she could hold his hand if they were running from zombies….
I told her that you’re more likely to fall if you hold hands and that she shouldn’t do that, even if they ARE running from zombies. (That’s a game the kindergartners play at recess apparently.)
Luckily the report after school today was that he was on the wall the whole recess as a punishment for something. (Great, a ‘bad boy’ too….)
Oh, dear! I’m going to have my hands full with this one!


Abby drew this picture of me on Vincent’s teacher’s dry erase table.  Looks about right.

Our Cub Scout Pack had our Pinewood Derby. Vincent made a green car with a tri-force on the front.  He’s loving Zelda/Link lately.

We combined with Duportail ward again.  They were in charge of the awards and one of their leaders made cute twinkie/oreo treats for each of the scouts.

I started walking again.  I’ve needed to for a long time.  I miss how nice it is to be outside, especially when the weather is still a little bit chilly.

We’ll be out walking a lot more now that Andy and I have been asked to be Pa and Ma on the Youth’s Pioneer Trek this June.  We went four years ago and had a great time.
Olivia went on a walk with me the other night to test out our new tennis shoes.  It’s nice to have a walking buddy.
I started a Facebook group for women in Richland who want to walk.  The idea is that if someone wants to walk, they post there and someone can post that they can walk at that time too and then they get out there walking.  Since my schedule varies so much, the times I’m available shifts too.
I ordered all of this awesome stuff from Hollar for around $20.  Stuffed animals, organizers, a scarf, bra, cool towels with Lego Mixels on them, a mug, silverware organizer, bag, plus a Morse code clock.  Really awesome prices. Click on my link above and sign up and you’ll get free shipping plus a $2 credit and I’ll get $2 credit too.  Those stuffed animals pictured were just $1 each! I placed another order just last week and I’ll let you know which treasures I found next time.
Elizabeth started track at the middle school.  She had her first meet the end of March at a middle school in Kennewick.  It was super cold and windy that day and I wasn’t the one in shorts!  She did the shot put, discus, high jump, and 100 meter dash.  She’s learning a lot and having a great time with her friends.

At least *I think* she’s having a good time.  A girl from our ward was smiling back at her on the other side of the line before their race.

They had a spirit week at the middle school before Spring Break.  Elizabeth worked hard on this costume of a character from a video game for Villain Day.

Check out the detail on that shield!

Vincent had some excitement the other night.  We were playing games on a Friday night and he mentioned that he had put an airsoft pellet in his ear earlier in the week.  He told us which ear hurt and I messaged a few nurse friends to ask for advice.  One was out of town, but gave me an idea and the other had a son bring us a baby suction bulb over to our house.  Andy worked on the ear Vincent said hurt for about 15 minutes and then Vincent said, “Maybe it’s actually in the other ear”.  It was.  Andy could see it in that ear and it was a much faster retrieval process.  The hook from my knitting loom set was what helped the most, but it made us nervous.  I told him to look sad for the picture.

Work has been busy for both Andy and I.  He’s spent quite a bit of time out of town traveling all over our region helping the salespeople and customers.  His work is picking up with the nicer weather since he can travel more now.

My work has been busy (always is and never seems to slow down because there’s always another truck and another area to dive into and clean up more, plus we do ‘sets’ that are for all Kohl’s stores for each month/season.  This one is for spring in purses.  There’s one area that is all white purses from all brands.  

That mannequin was added too and it keeps making me think there’s a customer there.  It looks easy, but it always seems to take too long to get things done because by the time I move what was in the spot back to where it goes, clean where it goes, and put it out, and then shift the next product out, take breaks as required by law, backup at registers, cover other people’s breaks, help customers, and do the job I’m supposed to do, it seems to take all day.

Once in March I was DONE with ALL of my freight.  It was amazing.  I took on this intimates and accessory job in August/September last year and I’ve never been totally DONE.  There’s always one more cart or one more bin when the next truck comes (which I take out first usually on truck day so it’s still getting done), but one day it was ALL DONE!  And the next day was truck again…. Constant process.

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February 2017

This little girl had a birthday!
Elizabeth is now 14 years old!  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.
To celebrate we went out for ice cream after dinner.
The MiaMaids decorated our door the first Sunday after her birthday to welcome her to their group at church.
Happy Birthday, Elizabeth! It helps to have so many kid birthdays all at once when you get to use the birthday coupons for free stuff all at once. =)
Vincent liked his ice cream too. Olivia picked a mango flavor.
Abby’s ice cream.

It just wouldn’t quit snowing.  Vincent took a turn to scrape the sidewalks.Andy

Andy took Olivia, Vincent, and Abby on a trip on President’s Day to visit his parents and then they drove the long way home.  (I was working and Elizabeth had laundry duty since she wanted to stay home. After I was done working, she helped me grocery shop and we went to dinner too.)

Speaking of work, guess who they chose for Associate of the Month?  Me!  My department is actually performing amazingly well compared to others in our region/district.  At the time of this award, my department was #2 in sales for our whole store, just behind men’s.  This is my 4th associate of the month award in 3 1/2 years (October 2014, October 2015, October 2016, and February 2017).

Olivia asked for makeup for Christmas and has been trying things out at home since she can’t wear it outside of the house yet.  She practices on Abby too.

Vincent needed to decorate a cake for the Blue and Gold Banquet for Cub Scouts.  He chose to decorate it with Yoshi’s world.

Grandpa Paul and Grandma Mary came for the Pack Meeting.  Abby loves to color and even got Grandpa Paul to help her. Grandpa Paul had his 63rd birthday this month too!

Vincent earned his WOLF badge.  His leader was amazing and had nearly everything taken care of in the weekly den meetings.  (I know what a feat that is since I was a Bear leader for 3 1/2 years!)  Amazing!  We actually only had to help him with one requirement and that was only because scouts was canceled due to the snow the day they were going to do it.  (We helped him with others, but that’s the only one we had to really do.)Mom pin. =) Celebrating 100 days of school!  The kids in the elementary school were invited to dress up like they were 100 years old.  Initially, Abby told me that she didn’t want to dress up because she didn’t “want to look ugly”.  I told her she’d still be her, just what she imagines she’d look like when she’s 100, so we picked out some things for her to wear and she was happy with them.  She wanted a cardigan “because old people are cold and like cardigans”. (Yes, she really used the word, ‘cardigan’ and no, we don’t use it normally.)

I went shopping at the mall last week and found some great deals.  These adorable size 1 skinny jeans were just $7 on clearance and fit Olivia really good (just a little long).  She really likes them too.

Olivia is going to start a baking business soon.  Her plan is to have monthly subscriptions for a dozen treats for $5 a month.  (My parents have a boy who lives near them who does this sort of thing, but his deal is 2 dozen cookies for $11 a month.)  She’s been practicing and invited Rory over to help last week.

They made Amish cookies and they were tasty!While they were baking, Andy was picking up this triple bunk bed in Yakima for our girl’s room.  Abby will be moving there once it’s built.

Olivia was making crepes the other day when I came home from work. She just got out a recipe book and went for it.  I headed back out to the store to get some toppings.

They were thicker than normal crepes, but still tasted really good.  She’ll need to experiment some more another day.

She was pretty satisfied with her creations and Abby and Vincent loved them too.

Fun February.  Onto March!
But first, here are a few Chuck E Cheese’s pictures from a friend’s birthday party at the end of January.

Abby and Olivia.


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Back to School

Looks like I didn’t post this….. Oops!
These FOUR kids went to school this year!  Hooray!
Elizabeth’s in Eighth Grade.  Olivia’s in Sixth Grade. Vincent’s in Third Grade. And Abby’s in Kindergarten.  So I have two Middle Schoolers and two Elementary kids.
They had a Back to School Popsicle Social meet your teacher night at the elementary school.  Abby ‘met’ her teacher who was also ALL three of her sibling’s kindergarten teacher.  (And she had just had a baby five weeks prior to this picture and came back to school with the kids-her husband is home with their two kids.)
Vincent with his teacher.  She likes Star Wars too.
Olivia actually started the day before everyone else because they had just the sixth graders come in early for orientation and classes.
Olivia quickly found a few friends.
Elizabeth and Olivia had their pictures taken on the day they picked up their schedules the week before school started for their ID cards and yearbook pictures.  They turned out really nice, I think.
  We went to the Walla Walla County Fair with my parents to see our girl’s quilts.  My mom blogged about it here. She included all their ribbon info.  They did great.  I like going to the fair to see the things people enter and getting free stuff from booths.
Abby and Vincent learned about water safety while Elizabeth and Olivia bought a few things from the Avon booth.
Then we all headed over to the rides.  We are too cheap for armbands (and we didn’t have a lot of time), so we just bought a book of tickets and did a ride.  Abby was actually too short for this spider ride (I still call it the octopus-It’s my favorite ride!)
These kids were super nervous about the ride.
Some of them screamed for nearly the whole ride while Andy and I couldn’t stop laughing (at them and just having fun!)  They finally decided they liked it for the last 30 seconds….
Vincent tried roping a steer in one of the free activity booths.
 Abby was able to ride a kiddie swing with Vincent in the kid area and was a little disappointed that it didn’t do more, but she’ll grow and join us on fun rides soon enough.
I had to work on Labor Day, so Andy took the kids up to the mountain with his parent’s to hang out for the day.  They had a good time.
Love these people!!!
Abby finally had a day in the classroom the Friday after school started with half of her class and then everyone was there the day after Labor Day.  She was SO ready and excited.
She’s loving it so far!  No tears from her.
Abby made this little picture at school.  She wants to me a mom when she grows up.  She said she is the one in the rainbow dress with two of her daughters next to her.  She said she wants to have eight children.  WOW!
We headed down to Hermiston to go to a craft fair for fun last Saturday.  My friend Desi was there selling some crafts. I hadn’t seen her in ages.  We were best friends in kindergarten through fourth grade and then exchanged letters clear through high school and went to each other’s high school graduations. She came to visit when I had Olivia and I’ve seen her some other times too, but not super often.  She travels quite a bit (and is planning a world tour in less than a month-jealous!)  It was really good to see her. (You might be wondering why I’m all bundled up.  It was rainy with a chilly wind that day).
 Elizabeth got her BRACES OFF!!!  She’s super excited about that.  She had them on for nearly two years.  They look great and her teeth that were growing in on top of each other evened out.
Oh, I did get a promotion at work this month too!  I’ve been one busy girl trying to learn a new department and figure out what’s expected of me.  I’m the supervisor over Intimates and Accessories at Kohl’s.  It’s still part-time, and no, I don’t have to do bra fittings, but I do have to hang bras and underwear on tiny hangers and try to clean it up constantly and get all the product that comes in from the truck out to the sales floor where the special book tells me it belongs and help with fitting rooms, recovery, and other departments during truck days.  It’s kind of a lot, but I do have a little raise too and I’m learning fairly quickly, I think.
Vincent pulled out a science suit he picked up as a freebie at a kid’s fair thing the Cub Scouts went to last spring.  He and Abby tried it on and thought it was a lot of fun.
Speaking of Cub Scouts, at this last Pack Meeting we had a guy in our ward come and talk about his job as a paramedic.  The Cub Scouts were VERY interested.  It was great.
Vincent had a turn checking out the front seat of the ambulance with a few buddies.
I think I mentioned I had a talk last month.  I took a selfie before I left my house.  I think it went well so I thought I’d post the talk I wrote.  I didn’t edit it for my adlibs, but this is pretty much what I delivered.

I was asked to combine three different talks given in general conferences to help form my thoughts for this talk.  One of those talks was the “Good, Better, Best” talk given by Dallin H Oaks in October 2007.  I can think of plenty of Good, better, best things to say, but most of them are jokes and I shouldn’t. Wait, here’s one:

It’s good to agree to give a talk.

It’s better to prepare early to give your talk.

And it’s best to be finished giving your talk so you can hope you are done with your turn for a bit.

(Maybe you thought I was going a different direction with that… See, plenty of ways to think about “Good, better, best.”)

Of course when Elder Oaks gave his talk he was talking about choices we make and how we can choose the good (which IS GOOD!) or we can choose the BEST, which is obviously much, much better than just good.


Elder Oaks said, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”

I think that’s the end goal for the majority of us here.  We want to make good choices so we can develop faith in Christ and strengthen our families.  That’s what this life is all directed at.  That’s why we are here.  Faith and Families.  That’s what the gospel is all about.  The HOW we do that is the hard part.

Elder Oaks says, “Most of us have more things expected of us than we can possibly do. As breadwinners, as parents, as Church workers and members, we face many choices on what we will do with our time and other resources.”

He continues, “We should begin by recognizing the reality that just because something is good is not a sufficient reason for doing it. The number of good things we can do far exceeds the time available to accomplish them. Some things are better than good, and these are the things that should command priority attention in our lives.”

When Andy and I were first married and we’d both come home from work and I’d make some dinner, I’d ask him if he liked it and he’d always just say it was, “good.”  I thought that meant he didn’t like it that much because I was used to using many more adjectives to describe yummy food, so I thought maybe I should try harder or something until he told me that he really did like it (again with the lesser adjectives to describe!) and he ate two platefuls, which should be enough to show me he thought it was “GOOD”.  I like to think I’ve improved in my cooking skills since then, but that’s still the answer I get, but to him, Good is GOOD!  I just had to learn that although that’s his answer, that’s about the highest it goes on his food rating scale.  Gross, tolerable, good.  That’s about it.
Do we settle for only good, when we could have the BEST?  Do we do that with our faith?  Do we do that with our families?  Are we doing all we can to make our faith and our families hit that best line?  Or are we barely reaching the good line?  How can we improve that?  I know I have work to do in all areas of life, especially those two areas.  I’d give examples, but we all have areas to improve and each family has different strengths and weaknesses.

President Gordon B. Hinckley has pleaded that we “work at our responsibility as parents as if everything in life counted on it, because in fact everything in life does count on it.”

Elder Richard G Scott added, “Remember, don’t magnify the work to be done—simplify it.”7

It is hard sometimes to decide to simplify work.  One thing I started doing a few summers ago when I started working was to give my kids areas of the house for a week for them to be in charge of.  They’ve been able to take ownership of those areas and while it might not be done to the “BEST” standard according to me, they are getting their jobs done and it’s less on my plate, which makes life more simple.

I told a friend just this week that the only way to get things done when you’re overloaded with things to do is to delegate, and then I started thinking of if maybe I could delegate my talk so I didn’t have to do that. (I decided I must have needed to reread these inspired words of guidance from our church leaders though.)  But really, delegating or eliminating or simplifying things that aren’t top priority are the key to being able to put the things that are more important at the top and keep them there.

“Elder M. Russell Ballard warned against the deterioration of family relationships that can result when we spend excess time on ineffective activities that yield little spiritual sustenance. He cautioned against complicating our Church service “with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. … The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify. … What is most important in our Church responsibilities,” he said, “is not the statistics that are reported or the meetings that are held but whether or not individual people—ministered to one at a time just as the Savior did—have been lifted and encouraged and ultimately changed.”8

We just had a new chorister called in primary and she’s doing excellent!  One of the first things I told her was that we like doing things simply.  I knew that she’d recently had a baby and she has other children and I don’t want her to stress out about making a perfect sign that she’ll use for a week to teach a song (unless she really loves doing that!)  I love what she did to help the primary children learn a song about the Temple this month.  She gave groups in both junior and senior primary a line from the song and a paper to draw how they imagine the phrase and she uses that each week to remind them of the words.  Simple and effective.
Another talk I was asked to prepare with was the talk given by Larry R Lawrence of the Quorum of the Seventy in the October 2015 General Conference titled, “What Lack I Yet?”

I especially liked the way he talked about the “New Testament account of the rich young ruler. He was a righteous young man who was already keeping the Ten Commandments, but he wanted to become better. His goal was eternal life.”

When he met the Savior, he asked, “What lack I yet?”3

“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and … come and follow me.”4

The young man was stunned; he had never considered such a sacrifice. He was humble enough to ask the Lord but not faithful enough to follow the divine counsel he was given. We must be willing to act when we receive an answer.”

The young ruler wasn’t willing to do that last step to be better than just good.  He was willing to ask what else he could do, but wouldn’t do it.

I think many of us have been there too.  Of course there are things all of us could change if we tried harder at it and things we could improve.  I know I have MANY, MANY things I need to improve, but haven’t yet.

Elder Lawrence says, “If we are humble and teachable, the Holy Ghost will prompt us to improve and lead us home, but we need to ask the Lord for directions along the way.” He also said, “The Spirit can show us our weaknesses, but He is also able to show us our strengths. Sometimes we need to ask what we are doing right so that the Lord can lift and encourage us.”

I also think it’s important to not just pick at ourselves and think about all the ways we could change or things that we aren’t doing well.  We need to play the “Glad Game” like Pollyanna and think of all the good things about whatever it is.   When I think I’d like a bigger, nicer place to live, I start thinking about how nice it is to only have to clean the house we have and how plenty of people would be overjoyed to have ANY house, let alone one I complain about sometimes.  It’s that way with pretty much anything.  If you play the “Glad Game” you can find something good about anything and it helps you appreciate what you already have or what you are already doing.  One thing I’ve heard said about the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it adds another layer of understanding to what you already know.  If we continually build those layers, we’ll be “strong and immoveable.”  Our faith and our families will have the strength needed to weather the storms of life.

Joseph Fielding Smith said, “Be persistent, brothers and sisters, but never be discouraged. We will have to go beyond the grave before we actually reach perfection, but here in mortality we can lay the foundation. “It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today.”9


The way to find out what things in your own life need adjusting, much like the sails of a boat, is to pray about it.  Listen to the promptings that come to you, and ask on them.  It’s not good enough to just sit in the boat and say you’re safe from the ocean.  If you don’t have guidance and direction, you could easily sit in the boat until you run out of food or something worse happens, like hitting something you shouldn’t.  If we go back to good, better, best, it is better to be in the boat working and it’s BEST to know where you are heading and what to expect on the way there so you can choose the best route to get you safely to where you want to be.

President Eyring spoke of prayer and faith in his talk in October 2015, he said, “You can treat those moments of inspiration like the seed of faith that Alma described (see Alma 32:28). Plant each one. You can do that by acting on the prompting you felt. The most valuable inspiration will be for you to know what God would have you do. If it is to pay tithing or to visit a grieving friend, you should do it. Whatever it is, do it. When you demonstrate your willingness to obey, the Spirit will send you more impressions of what God would have you do for Him.  As you obey, the impressions from the Spirit will come more frequently, becoming closer and closer to constant companionship. Your power to choose the right will increase.  We need that constant help from the companionship of the Holy Ghost.”

I know that I have had many promptings in my life to change the direction my boat was taking.  I’m grateful for the companionship of the Holy Ghost to help me along my path to return to live with Heavenly Father.  Many of those adjustments happened for me while I was in middle and high school. Many more happen often as an adult.  You are never too young to start!

I know that we are led by a living prophet on the earth today and that if we follow his teachings, which are the same as the teachings of Christ, we will eventually hit that best mark even on the things we struggle with if we are consistent in trying to improve and following the direction of the Holy Ghost.  I’m so thankful for the Gospel and the way it helps me to see what’s really important in life and the way we are encouraged to always improve.


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