Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cooke City 10th Anniversary

10 years ago our dear friends, Mark and Malinda DeBry invited us up to his family cabin up in Cooke City, Montana near the NE entrance of Yellowstone.  Since then, every summer we make our annual trip up to "The Cabin".  I think this is the one of the most consistent family traditions we have.  We always look forward to it and it is probably the highlight of our summer.  It is especially important since our families now live in different states and this is our chance to reconnect and spend time together.  Feels like family.

We were supposed to drive up on Ken's birthday, but he had some work things come up.  He worked about 30 hours almost straight.  We finally got on the road about 5:00 in the afternoon.  Now it is an 8 or 9 hour drive up to the cabin, so we weren't totally sure if we would stop somewhere or drive most of the night.  We ended up driving through (after a birthday dinner stop in Casper at the Poor Boys Steakhouse) and got in at 4:30 am.  Long night.  Pretty lousy birthday for Ken.  But on the bright side, we didn't hit any cows this time but there was plenty of deer, a coyote, and even a bear that crossed right in front of us.  It was nice to sleep in that next morning.

This year we went horseback riding, shot bb guns and slingshots, the kids played in the creek, played games, late night converstions, and the adults did our traditional lunch out to the Beartooth Cafe.  The boys had a big project this summer.  They built a very nice railing for a new staircase that goes up to the loft playroom.  We were so inspired that we spend one of the evenings cleaning out and rearranging the upstairs family room.  Usually it was so cluttered with toys that there wasn't much room, but we took a lot of the toys up to the new playroom and made new conversation areas.  It was also exciting for the room to be opened up more with a bunch of floor space.  The kids tested it out by playing a rousing game of duck duck goose. :)

Oh how we LOVE the cabin!

I love this picture of Robert reading to the little boys!


Our group is a ton bigger than 10 years ago. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The day after.

Yeah, I'm totally bummed.  Still numb from the shock that Mitt was not elected president last night.

For the last year and a half I have been living and breathing presidential politics.  Reading hours of articles and blogs almost everyday.  Watching hours of news and opinion shows.  And then in the last several months, volunteering, going door to door, and going to rallies.  I've had countless discussions with Ken and my friends.

And now?  I'm tired.  I'm disappointed.  Ready to detox myself from the constant input of news.  That and I can't bear to listen to all the armchair quarterbacking when my heart feels like it has been squashed.

I still believe that Mitt is a man made for this moment.  He has spent his entire life working hard and trying to make things successful.  He knows finance, budgets, and business like few other men understand it.  If there was anyone to go through our federal budget line by line and make the tough choices that would keep us from becoming Greece, it was Mitt.  I fear, by the voice of our people, we, and our children and grandchildren, will be crushed by our debt.  I believe our freedoms will be eventually be reduced because of the trillions we owe to others and a government becoming bigger and more intrusive.  I know Mitt could have gone a long way in turning some of our big problems around.  He has the skills.  He has the experience.  And we passed on the next Reagan.

All I know is that it will be a while before I am ready to take my Romney bumper sticker off my van.

I don't want to forget how many friends reached out to see how I was doing.  My friend Ashley delivered a starbucks carmel apple cider first thing that morning.  She said she thought I needed one.  She is so sweet.  I had friends from all over the country call and text to let me know they were thinking of me.  I even had nice conversations with some of my democrat friends that said they were worried about me.  Everyone was so kind and gentle with my crushed spirit.   Thank you friends!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Before and After


Almost 9 years!  We have lived in this house almost 9 years and it was time for a makeover.  I never really knew what to do with my big wall between the siding glass door and large window in the family room.  Ken was out of town and I made up my mind to do something about it.  I took a trip to Hobby Lobby and Michaels and got things that I thought would work out.  I spent several hours mixing it all up, trying different frames, and finally finding something that I was happy with.  I got it up on the wall and did a little jump for joy!  I never feel like I am very good at this decorating thing, but I was really pleased with how it turned out.  It helps finish the room.  I love it!



On top of the world

Whenever Ken's parents come to town we try to do a fun Colorado activity.  This summer we decided to head down to Colorado Springs for the day.  We met in the amazing Garden of the Gods.  I am embarrassed to say that even though we have lived in Colorado for a decade, we had never been there.  It was a stunningly beautiful day.  Clear azure skies and bright sunshine greeted us as we got on the path to hike around.  I loved taking pictures and was thoroughly enjoying the beauty all around us.  We for sure want to go back and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.

After walking around Garden of the Gods, we grabbed a quick lunch at Chick-fil-a.  We were nervous when we pulled up to the restaurant because apparently it was "cow appreciation day" and there were a gazillion people there.  We decided to try it anyway and were really impressed how they had prepared for the day.  They had a ton of people working and were able to order and get our food quickly.  Great service even though the place was PACKED!  Well done Chick-fil-a!

We took off toward the famous cog railroad that goes up to the top of Pikes Peak.  We all enjoyed the train ride and the views were impressive.  At the top we walked around and enjoyed the view.  Absolutely incredible views -- truly felt like we were on top of the world.  I was glad to be able to see the view from a fourteener without actually having to climb it.  We were all a little light headed up at that altitude, especially Ken's folks from Arizona.  I think my favorite thing was seeing the plaque with the words from America the Beautiful on it.  It was these "purple mountain majesties" that, in part, inspired the words to that beautiful hymn. 

Great Colorado adventure!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Trouble with the law.

Our road trip in June was absolutely delightful with one exception.

One morning my mom and I decided to take the kids to the post pool.  We all got in our suits and drove onto post.  While we were driving past the some of the cliffs on post, my mom was telling me the legend of Geronimo jumping of the cliffs while the US cavalry was chasing him, and I momentarily got distracted.  My foot got a little heavy on those back roads.  I quickly put on the brakes to slow down, but it was too late, a post police officer was turning around to pull me over.

I was mortified!  I had never been pulled over for speeding before and I am normally very careful about my speed while driving.  Now I have a very healthy respect for authority, so I was very respectful and even tried to be charming as I explained why I had gotten distracted.  However, the officer was not impressed and was borderline rude to me. (I actually wondered if the Romney sticker on the back of my car had anything to with his rudeness.) He took my license and car registration back to his vehicle and to assess the threat that a mom, grandma, and four kids posed to the public good.

It is here in my tale that we hit a major problem.  My drivers license was expired.  I never even really thought about it.  The officer came back to my window and, in a very condescending and rude manner, pointed out the expiration date.  I apologized, somewhat expecting just a warning, considering that he had just seen my stellar driving record back in his patrol car.  Instead he started harassing me and threatening to impound my van.  I understand that I was in the wrong, but I had not been combative in any way and I was shocked that he would be so rude to me.  He said he would not allow me to drive, so I got out of the vehicle so my mom could drive and my mom started walking around to get in the drivers seat. He would not allow her to get in the car until I had "officially given her permission" to drive and then insisted upon taking her drivers license to "check her out".  (Is that even legal?!?  She had done nothing wrong!)

By this time, we had been sitting there for about 30 minutes in the hot van and we were getting the feeling that he was making wait there on purpose to intimidate us.  No kidding.  We could tell he was thoroughly enjoying having power over us.  The fact that he was enjoying bullying a mom, grandma, and four kids who were on their way to the pool was beyond pathetic.

After another 15 minutes or so he came to give me the ticket.  He had chosen to give me a citation for having no license.  He seemed to revel in this because I had already pointed out that I was from Colorado and going to court in Lawton would be very difficult and the this ticket did not have a fine, but a mandatory court date.  I also pointed out that I was sure there was a difference between having no license and an expired license and I would like that difference to be noted on the ticket.  At this, he began threatening me again by saying he could impound my van and that if I missed my court date a federal warrant would be issued for my arrest.  Yes, I am a true menace to society.

By this point, I was getting downright angry.  I did not like being bullied and threatened by this guy.  I took off my sunglasses and stared at him.  Not just a stare, but a mix between my teacher look, my mom stare, and looking a bug a want to crush.  I have to admit that it was nice to see this man that had been harassing me for the last 45 minutes to visibly flinch, fumble the papers he was holding, look down, and stumble over his words for a minute when I glared at him.  Even my kids sensed how awful this man was to both me and my mom.  It is pretty sad when you have to explain to your kids that the police officer was not representative of all police.

When I got home both my mom and I were pretty steamed and told my dad what had happened.  Of course, my dad scolded me for having let my license expire, but he also agreed that being treated like that was not okay.  Well, it turns out that one of my dad's golfing buddies is the commander over all the police enforcement for Ft. Sill so dad sent him an email.  I was fine with accepting the consequences of my speeding and expired license, but being treated with such hostility and rudeness when I had done nothing to warrant that was not right.  Dad told his friend of his concern on how this officer had treated us (of course I had made special note of his name and badge number).  Within minutes, dad's friend responded that he would address the issue and it was a serious problem if one of their men was behaving this way.  It made me feel a little bit better that Officer ________ would get his.

So I returned to Colorado without knowing if I would have to return for court in Oklahoma in just 2 weeks time.  The next morning I headed out the the DMV and got my license renewed.  About time, huh? :) 

I wrote a letter, very well written, if I do say myself, to the judge requesting leniency so that I would not have to return to Lawton and if needed that I could appear in a Colorado court.  I pointed out how I had excellent driving record and that within 24 hours of returning to Colorado, I renewed my license. I sent it registered mail and prayed that the judge would give me a break.  I didn't hear anything back for about a week and a half.  I finally called the court. I asked the clerk about my letter and then asked about the possibility appearing in a Colorado court.  "We don't do that," she said.  My heart sank.  It sounded like I would have to return to Oklahoma.  I did not have the time or money to make the trip back.  The clerk told me to wait a minute while she check my file. 

When she finally came back on the phone she told me that the judge was impressed by my letter and that he would allow me to simply pay the $50 fine instead of having to appear in court.  $50!!!!  That I could do.  Phew!!!  Such an answer to prayer!

So. Lesson learned.  I will never let my license expire again.  Now I can't guarantee that I will never, ever get a speeding ticket, but I certainly will be more careful.  I still get angry whenever I think of that jerk of a cop and it was very disappointing that my biggest interaction with a police officer was this negative.  I can't help but think what goes around will come around for that guy.  And be forewarned.  I am a menace.  At least according to that jerk.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Summer Road Trip

We got the invitation for my niece's baptism for June and we really wanted to be there to support her.  We hadn't been down to Houston for several years and I knew it would be more fun to be able to take our time.  When I presented the idea to Ken we decided that he would stay home and earn the money while I would go and spend it.  Seemed like a good idea to me. :)

The welcoming committee when we arrived in Oklahoma.

The kids and I took off for Lawton to spend the night with mom and dad.  13 hours later we got to their house really late, unloaded some sleeping bags, and tried to get some sleep before leaving the next morning for Houston.  It was fun to be able to caravan with my folks down to Codi's house.  My mom drove with me and we brainstormed about the upcoming family reunion.  Morgan and Trevor kept my dad company as we traveled across Texas.

We were so excited to get to the Long's beautiful home!  Codi and Coby chose an awesome floor plan and have decorated it beautifully.  There was enough space that we all had room to spread out.  the next morning my gorgeous niece, Aedan, was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It was so special to be there as she committed to follow Jesus Christ.  I was proud of her decision and she was beautiful in her white dress.

After the baptism, Codi and Coby hosted a luncheon in honor of Adean for many of their friends.  It was a really nice time and it was so fun to meet their friends.  The (many, many) kids ran around and played while the adults visited.  It was great to put names to faces as Codi had mentioned many of them to me before.

On Sunday we attended church with Codi and Coby's family.  Afterward, we had a nice lunch and then decided to explore some of the model homes in the area -- and there are a TON!  Coby drove us to an area that was like "model home row".  Seriously, it has dozens of model homes all in a row.  there were some amazing houses and I fell in love with some of the floor plans.  On the way home, Coby was trying the hard sell to get us to move down to Houston.  When we got back to the house we took the opportunity to go through Codi's closet.

In the last 6 months she has worked really hard and has lost 30 pounds! 30 pounds!!!  She wanted some help going through her closet.  Codi is a t-shirt and sweats kind of gal and she wanted some help with what to wear.  We went through her closet and got rid of over 5 big garbage bags.  Most of her clothes were way too big or way out of style.  I am nothing of a fashionista, but even I could see that we needed a big shopping trip.  Coby was so excited that she was willing to go clothes shopping and gave her a generous budget.

Mom and dad had real life so they left Monday morning to get home, but the kids and I got to stay a few more days.  So we let the kids play at home (and have a Phineas and Ferb marathon) while Codi and I went shopping to find cute clothes for her cute, new figure.  We headed to Kohls where we did some serious damage!  We both went through the store filling carts and then headed to the dressing room.  More than once she tried something on and I would have to go get her the smaller size.  She also had to rethink what styles she should wear.  I chose a few things for her where she thought she couldn't wear it.  After I talked her into trying it on, she would realize that it looked really cute!  I was super excited for her!  She ended up getting 3 dresses, 12 tops, and 6 bottoms -- a whole new wardrobe!!!  That evening she did a fashion show for Coby and he was so happy that she had found things she liked.  I thought she looked like a million!

The next day we promised would be the kids day.  Of course they wanted to go to the pool.  We put on our suits, made some lunches, grabbed the pool toys and headed out to the pool.  Sadly, we were only there an hour or two before a big thunderstorm rolled in and the lifeguards sent us home.  We returned home, got everyone showered and dressed, and then headed out to Bass Pro Shop for their kids craft activities.  All the kids had a blast with painting fish, shooting with bows and arrows, and casting a fishing line into a bucket.  The rain continued to fall while we headed to Jason's Deli for dinner.  Everyone was a fan of the all you can eat soft serve. :)

Cooper loved seeing the fish in the giant aquarium at Bass Pro.

It was with sad hearts the next morning when we left Houston and traveled back up to Oklahoma via a short visit to Cyle and Athena's home in Killeen.  We meandered up through the back roads of Texas.  Of course, we stopped at the Blue Bell ice cream factory for a tour.  What a great break from the car. :)  In late afternoon we got to Cyle and Athena's house.  I was so excited to snuggle with my new nephew, Kingston, and hear all about Athena's birth experience.  Kingston was not quite 2 weeks old.

Spending time at Cyle and Athena's home did my heart good.  I love them so much!  It was a treat to talk with them late into the night.  In the morning, Cyle brought Kingston into my room  so that Athena could sleep.  Kingston had kept her up much of the night.  Cyle and I talked and talked while I got to snuggle with that super, sweet baby.  That time together, in the quiet of the morning, was a highlight of my entire trip.  It seemed all too soon when it was time to pack up the car, take a couple pictures, say our goodbyes, and continue on to my parent's home.

We all scream for ice cream!!!

Love this picture of the Cyle Coopers!

We were all so excited to meet baby Kingston!

Love this super cute Kingston boy!!!
 It was nice to have a couple of days together with my parents in Oklahoma.  I know it is not my actual home, but being with my parents there always makes me feel like I have come home.  I love watching my parents with my children.  We went to the pool, fed the ducks and catfish in Medicine Park,  went to town to see the new movie Brave, and the kids got plenty of time up at the tree swings.  I was grateful that mom watched my kiddos for me for awhile so I could go to lunch with my friend, Veronica.  I love that girl!!!  We talked and talked and it was hard to finally say goodbye.

That evening we headed to Medicine Park for ice cream.  It was a beautiful evening and we walked along the river.  A restaurant sold some crumbs for duck food so we bought some and the kids had a great time feeding the ducks, geese, and even some huge catfish.  It was crazy watching these huge fish jumping out of the water and fighting the geese for the food.  We all had a wonderful time!

Something about getting away from home makes life slow down a bit.  I was able to totally focus and my kids and family that I was visiting for close to two weeks.  I love road trips!!!

The Colorado Springs fire on our way home. :(

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Days at the lake

Even with all the fun things that we had planned for the summer, the number one thing my kiddos kept asking was, "when are we going to go to the reservoir?"  For the past few summers our Wednesday activity is to go to Union Reservoir.  We pack a lunch and spend the day swimming, building in the sand, playing at the park, and soaking up the sun.  The kids stay happy and I love being able to read or visit with friends as I watch the kids play.  It has become our family summer tradition and we all look forward to Wednesdays.

Come join us next summer.

May Recital(s)

As a music teacher, I love when my students get to show off what they have learned and worked on throughout the year.  This May we hosted two different recitals; one for my group class and a combined recital with my voice students and Ken's piano students.

It is fantastic to hear and see the progress that these students had.  And as a mom, I was especially proud of watching my kiddos.  Trevor and Peyton sang with their class and each had the opportunity for a solo.  They sounded great!  Even though Trevor will tell you he hates to sing, that boy sings ALL THE TIME!  Peyton loves to perform and was really excited to have an audience.  Morgan and Trevor both performed on the piano at the combined recital.  (Sadly, I did not get a video of Trevor's song.) They did a great job.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"School's out for summer!"

You just sang that in your head, didn't you? :)

The kids had a wonderful year at school.  Their teachers were all fabulous and I am so thankful for all the time and effort they put in to teaching my children. We have loved all the teachers and administrators at the school and I enjoyed every time I would go in to volunteer.

Morgan missed the last couple days of school to go to Oklahoma, and I was sad that we missed her "continuation" as she will be leaving Prairie Ridge to go to Coal Ridge Middle School.  (She didn't miss it at all.)  We were able to go to Peyton's kindergarten program and the picnic at the end of school celebrating all the kids.  It is always a fantastic way to begin the summer break!

Kindergarten program showing off what they had learned.

Peyton and Katie with their ceftificates.

Peyton with Mrs. Dreitz

Trevor with Miss. Doughty