Monthly Archives: November 2011

Giving thanks in Houston

This year we spent Thanksgiving in Houston with my Aunt Mary Ann and Uncle Keith. Both of their Texas-dwelling kids and their families were in other states for the holiday so it was up to us to fill the grandkid void. (Raine took the role seriously and made sure that Aunt Mary Ann’s M&M bowl was empty before we left!)

We had a fabulous turkey dinner outside on the patio, watched football, and gorged on scrumptious pie. The kids had a blast playing with all the old-school Fisher Price toys that Mary Ann saved from her kids’ childhood. Carter quickly became a pro at going up and down stairs — our one-story house doesn’t provide an opportunity to learn — and he doesn’t even have any bumps or bruises to show for it!

On our way out of town we stopped to see Shannan and her family for a few minutes. They had just gotten off an all-night flight from Hawaii so we didn’t stay too long, but it was fun to see them again.

Family Portraits

We had family photos taken last week along the Las Colinas canal. It rained on us, but we got some goods ones despite my frizzy hair. My favorite will be on our Christmas card, but here are a couple others.

Someday I’m gonna miss this

I’m gonna miss Raine always wanting to share my chair while we are eating. She insists on sitting on whatever chair I’m on even though there are five other identical EMPTY chairs around the table.

I’m gonna miss Carter keeping our kitchen floor covered with tupperware and mixing bowls AT ALL TIMES. Resulting in the need to re-wash them each time I want to cook or put away left-overs.

I’m gonna miss Raine’s explanations for why she did or needs to do something that I told her not to do. Like the other day when she explained that she had to eat all of Carter’s orange M&M’s “so he doesn’t drool orange.” (Apparently only orange drool is a problem, not red or blue.)
Or her constant need to “help Carter” climb onto furniture that he shouldn’t be climbing on in the first place. I finally decided that the best thing I could do was teach him how to get down safely, because there was no way I was going to stop him from getting up there as long as Raine was around.

I’m gonna miss the un-ending questions from Raine. “Mommy, why does that boy have a pony-tail?” “Mommy, what do rhinos say?” Or the one she asked while we were at the urgent care in Seattle. I was filling out papers at the desk just outside the room when I heard Raine calling to me. I thought she needed something important, so I hurried in there. “What Raine?”
“Mommy, how many feet do ostriches have?”
That girl’s mouth is always moving and 98% of the sentences out of it start with “Mommy, why…?”

I’m gonna miss Raine getting herself “dressed.” Today it included her tutu, princess shoes, boa tied around her waist, two other scarves tied around her waist, one necklace, a bracelet, two ribbons tied around her legs, and three baby-doll blankets tucked into her boa. This girl makes Punky-Brewster look like Plain-Jane.

Carter’s response: “This is the only accessory I need!”
I’m gonna miss his chubby baby belly and how excited he gets when he shows it to you.

I’m gonna miss putting Raine to bed. After reading a few books and scriptures, she says her prayer — it is always enlightening to hear what she prays about. Then she climbs into bed and insists that I lay by her. She makes sure that I have plenty of room and am sufficiently under the covers; then she wraps her little arm around my head and falls asleep with her sweet baby-face just inches away from mine. I love it!

One thing that I’m NOT gonna miss is making emergency bathtub evacuations due to hazardous waste contamination. We had one today, right after I got the tub filled and both kids in it. Usually Carter waits until the end of the bath, but this time it was before I could even get them wet so we had to drain, rinse, and refill. And if that wasn’t enough drama for one bath, when it was time to get out we had a little hazardous waste of the other variety. I had gotten Carter out, wrapped him in his towel, and set him on the mat. Then I turned back to get Raine out. As I was wrapping her up I heard the pitter-patter of rain — except it was sunny outside. I turned around and Carter was standing there with a little yellow puddle on the floor in front of him. Sheesh! This is why bath-time is normally Daddy-time!!

Ward campout

This weekend was the Ward camp-out at Lake Grapevine. Since Carter was starting to get sick it turned into a father-daughter outing. They had so much fun together.

Raine and Kaiden climbing around the cave in the rock cliff.

Vacation part 4 – Seattle

Saturday we rode the bus downtown and visited Pike Place Fish Market. Here is Odessa, Ada, and Raine sitting on the bronze pig.

Ada and Raine holding hands.

After some of Seattle’s best clam chowder, we rode the mono-rail to the space needle and let the kids run around. Ada was very attentive to Carter.

Then we walked over to the fountain at the Seattle Center. Daddy ran under the water spouts with the kids. However, when he attempted it with Carter the water pattern changed as soon as they got under it and they got soaked! Too bad I didn’t have the camera out for that one.

That evening we went to the Ward Halloween party. Raine was a “dancin’ kid” and Carter was a dalmatian.

Monday morning we drove around West Seattle and then took a ferry to Vashon Island. Carter was asleep in the car so Daddy stayed down below with him while Raine and I explored the upper decks with Aunt Tara and Ada. (For clarification, Tara is not Raine and Carter’s aunt, she is their first-cousin-once-removed. So for obvious reasons we just refer to her as Aunt Tara.)

We wandered around the shops in town and came across a little bookstore. The owner had a dog in the store and Raine was in heaven as she sat there feeding and petting it. The owner asked if we had seen the bike in a tree, she gave us directions so we set off to find it. The directions were typical small-town directions, “Go down to the second stop sign and it will be right there behind the building.” But with a little help from Google we found it. Nobody knows exactly how it got there but it has obviously been there for a very long time.

That evening we drove to Magnolia for trick-or-treating in the village. They closed the road and each of the shops handed out candy — it was so much more efficient than going door-to-door!

Here are the girls and Carter in their costumes.

Odessa, Ada, Carter, Aunt Tara, Franklin, and Raine.

The next morning we packed up and headed back to the airport. We had a miserable flight home with Carter throwing a sleep-deprived fit most of the way — yep, we were those people.

This was such a fun vacation for us. The kids loved playing with their cousins and we were able to see some great sites along the way. I think we will have to do this again soon!

Vacation part 3 – Vancouver, British Columbia

After spending the night in Seattle, we crossed the border into Canada and made our way up to Vancouver. Our first stop was Grouse Mountain, on the north side of town. We took a gondola to the top of the mountain and the clouds lifted just long enough to give us a spectacular view of the city (in real-life it was spectacular, in this photo it is not).

We hiked around the resort — in the SNOW!!! — admiring the impressive views and wood carvings.

Then we wandered over to the bear enclosure. We didn’t know if we’d be able to see them or if they would be holed up somewhere for the winter . . . so imagine our delight when we saw them out wrestling in the snow. It was awesome to watch.

The bears were so close and so active. This guy was holding his feet up to see how long he could balance on his backside, just like a little kid. He lost his balance and rolled onto his back, with his hinder-end in the air — it was just like something DJ would do.

We checked into our hotel and found that we had a great view. We could see Grouse Mountain where we had just been, Stanley Park where we were going the next day, and a near-constant stream of seaplanes taking-off and landing in the water. The kids loved watching the planes — in fact, Carter even started saying “ah-pah” each time one would go by.

The next morning it was raining. We bundled up and drove into Stanley Park, to the aquarium. We saw the standard assortment of fish tanks . . .

. . . and play areas.

But we also saw some really fun, new things too. Like a two-toed sloth in the rain-forest area, butterflies emerging from their cocoons, trainers feeding the seals and sea lions, . . .

. . . and a tank full of beluga whales.

But the best part of our visit was the dolphin show. I don’t have any photos because it was raining, but those dolphins were jumping, racing, waving, and standing up out of the water just like you’d see in any dolphin show. This photo of Carter watching the dolphins — from below, where it was dry — was taken earlier in the day. It was a great aquarium!

After leaving the aquarium we drove around Stanley Park to see the totem poles and other sites.

We made a quick stop at Tim Horton’s — Daddy’s favorite doughnut shop when he was working in Ottawa — then we were on our way back to Seattle.

Vacation part 2 – Silver Falls

We left Harrisburg Wednesday morning, heading for Seattle, and stopped at Silver Falls State Park. It is a temperate rain forest nestled in the Cascade Mountains. We hiked part of the Trail of Ten Falls and saw some very impressive waterfalls. The first one is South Falls and was 177 feet tall.

The trail wound behind the falls so we could see it from all angles.

This is the real reason that Boy Scouts are forced to hike with fifty-pound packs on their backs . . . preparation for fatherhood!

Upper North Falls, a mere 65 feet tall.

Vacation part 1 – Oregon

It has been a long time since we’ve seen my sister Sara and her family. They live in Harrisburg, Oregon so it is a little out-of-the-way. They just welcomed a new baby girl into their family, and we have never visited the Pacific Northwest, so we decided to take a family vacation.

My cousin Tara lives in Seattle and we were going to spend the end of our vacation with them, so that is where we flew into and out of. Our flight arrived Saturday afternoon and we immediately hopped into our rental car and headed to Oregon. Well, I shouldn’t say that we “immediately” hopped into our rental car. There is a Seinfeld episode that depicts what our experience with the rental car company was like, you know the one, “See, you know how to
TAKE the reservation, you just don’t know how to HOLD the reservation and
that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding.” In our case, they reserved us a “standard” size car but when we got to the garage to pick it up, they only had mid-size and full-size cars to pick from, no standard-size. They upgraded us to a full-size Dodge Charger and we eventually loaded all of our junk and hit the road for Oregon.

Sunday we went to church and then spent a leisurely day with the family.

Uncle Daryn, Carson, Aunt Sara, Raine holding baby Adelynn, and Logan.

Logan teaching Raine all about the chickens. What did Raine think of the chickens? “It’s stinky!”

Carson and Carter playing ball.

Carter riding the scooter.

Monday we went to a farm to find some pumpkins to carve for Halloween. We took a hay-ride into the field where the kids could search for their perfect pumpkin.

“Mmmm, popcorn.”

It wasn’t easy for the little ones to maneuver the dried vines and pumpkins. But eventually, we found the right one.

While at the farm, the kids had fun feeding the goats and petting the animals.

They also loved running around the hay maze.

That evening we carved our pumpkins while Aunt Sara whipped up some tasty, made-from-scratch caramel to dip our gigantic, fresh-from-the-farm apples in.

Carter was relegated to the floor with a colored pencil while the big-kids were on the stools carving but he sure didn’t seem to mind. He was working hard at that pumpkin.

The finished products . . . minus Carter. Raine insisted that her pumpkin have a “happy face” so that turned into the theme for all the pumpkins.

Tuesday we all piled into Aunt Sara’s Suburban and took a tour of the area.

We ended up at the “beach” where there is an endless supply of rocks to be thrown into the water.

Daddy was the designated rock-thrower. The kids would find the biggest rock they could carry and bring it to him to throw as far as he could into the river — making as big a splash as possible, of course.

We had so much fun visiting the Hicks family. Raine and Logan were like two peas in a pod. Every waking moment they were doing something together — “camping,” hiking, taking care of the chickens, making a “salad” with leftovers in the garden — you would have thought these two were twins separated at birth. I was pleasantly surprised how well Carson and Carter played together as well, given the 14-month age difference. We all enjoyed loving on cute little Addy. And of course, I loved being able to spend time with my sister. We don’t see each other very often these days so it was fun to live her life for a few days.