Sunday, June 25, 2017

Washington D.C

Summer week five June 18-24

Rustin is the president of the Idaho Optometric association this year.  It has meant a lot of traveling (Boston, DC, New Mexico, Portland, Boise...) and he has put in a lot of work.  We decided to tag along to his Washington DC meetings this time.  Austin has been working on the JunpCo play Guys and Dolls so he stayed home with Jackson (at grandmas house) and Jenna and Benson came with Rustin and me.  We had such a great week!  There is no way to describe everything we learned or did but I'll put in a bunch of pictures and maybe a few highlights.

We rode in trains, metros and cars.  The taxis were definitely my favorite! Every driver we met had a story to tell.  And they were all so kind!  One man from Morocco invited us to his house for dinner.  But then he told us his wife is due to have a baby in less than  week and I just couldn't see us barging in expecting dinner so we didn't go.  But I REALLY wish we had.  Home cooked moroccan food? How did we pass that up?!

We met a 20-ish man who was a farmer in Ethiopia who is working three jobs and trying like crazy to have enough left over so that he can send some $$ home to his wife so she can join him here.  He sounded discouraged.  I wish there was some way to help him.  His one bedroom tiny apartment is $1100 per month.  I told him to move to Idaho... :)

Another driver from the middle East has been here for more than thirty years.  He is so proud of his children who have both gone to college and have great jobs.  

I left feeling so grateful that we have such a wide variety of people in our country who all do there best with what they have.  

DC is amazing.  It definitely is't a relaxing vacation but we loved every minute.  We walked until we could barely move.  Poor Rustin was in meetings all day but by the time he got done Jenna, Benson and I were so tired we just wanted to lay down and read!  We did  have all day Tuesday with him so that was good.  

The Spy museum was surprisingly awesome. I could read about spy's and their stories all day.  

We also went to Lincoln's theater.  Likewise, I could have stayed in there and read about the politics and subterfuge that led to Lincoln's assignation all day long! 

The highlight of our first day was our trip out to Arlington cemetery.  We bought a tour bus pass and it was awesome.  The cemetery has a calming and serene feeling about it.  And the magnolias were blooming!  The sweet lemon-y smell of magnolias take me right back to our days in Memphis!  The thick, hot humid air made me feel like I was home in Memphis again too.

We spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday exploring the museums and monuments.  There is a lot more space between the museums and monuments than you would expect!  We were pretty much hot and sweaty the whole time. 
I have learned that I love reading about history.  I could have stayed in the American History museum all day long!  I love reading about all the wars and battles and leaders and nurses and clothing and food...

In case anyone is wondering--the Shake Shack is as good as all the reviews say.  YUM!

We were able to eat breakfast in the hotel every morning (except when we accidentally slept in until 10:45...). We found a few food trucks to try for lunch and we found some great affordable restaurants near the hotel.  One night Jenna, Ben and I accidentally wandered down to Chinatown in a seriously sketchy area. It got dark before we realized how late it was and we were definitely out of place.   I pulled the kids into a restaurant off the street when a fight broke out right in front of us.  The police were there almost immediately and everything calmed down quickly but we completely were out of our element.  Funny think is that the kids didn't really notice.  Benson was just moseying along like there was nothing to see... I think he thought it was all awesome.  

We ate one crazy fancy meal that was paid for by the state Optometry board. I couldn't even come close to eating enough food to make it worth it but everything was so pretty I enjoyed every second!  And I have a bunch of ideas of food to try--creamy polenta with mushrooms and tomato risotto and cauliflower rice with truffle and fish en papilotte.  Rustin ordered beef Wellington which was delicious and so pretty. 

The monuments/memorials were touching.  The reflecting pools are beautiful.  There was a nurses' monument kind of tucked out of the way and it really touched me.
The expression on their faces--it reached my soul. For some reason the Vietnam memorial also really touched me--I was realizing that some of those names on the wall were my parent's friends.  I appreciate their sacrifice so much.

Jenna and I were really impressed by a story from the Holocaust museum.  Most of the stories there are horribly sad--its easy to feel angry at people who were so cruel. One story, however,  was a light in the darkness.  A survivor told the story of a guard she grew to love.  She said when they first arrived at their camp the guard was outside barking orders.  She said she had never heard a person that sounded so harsh and literally barking.  She thought, " this is going to be terrible." But it turned out that that guard was a decent woman who saved many of their lives.  She encouraged them and kept them in line so they wouldn't get in trouble by any other guards.  One day the survivor said she was sick with a high fever so she had stayed in the bunker instead of going to work.  But that day a really mean supervisor came to inspect the camp.  The kind guard went in and helped her and two others get dressed and go to the factory where they worked on looms.  The guard knew how to operate the looms so she got everything set up and got it started for them and she said, "today is life and death, you must not look sick." She saved their lives.  I think there are a lot of good people in the world.  Even in the midst of terrible things.

I have a whole list of things I want to read more about after our visit--the Mexican-American war, Lincoln and his role in the Civil war, pretty much all of the war stories...I'm fascinated by battles and strategy all the little things that played such a role.  I want to read about spies and some of the early spies in our country. Spies played a huge role in the wars! I want to read about the enigma machine and how they broke the code... There are also so many stories of innovators/inventors that are just fascinating.  How do people think of such amazing things!? What type of life and environment do they have that encourages such creativeness and such inquisitiveness?  I took pictures of just about an entire floor in the American History museum!

I haven't even touched on the art museum.  I will just say that I love Rodin.  His sculptures of beautiful women with full thighs and pooch-y tummies were refreshing.  And truly beautiful.  Artists are amazing. There was a super popular Da Vinci painting at the museum but we really loved the American and French artists best!

Overall I came home with gratitude for those who have gone before me and with a desire to learn more about the amazing things in our world.  But more than anything I am grateful that I got to go with Jenna and Benson this year and Dallin and Landon last year. And Rustin of course.  I'd say we are all pretty lucky.

Summer week #4

June 11-17

Our schedule is going to be packed from now until after the fourth of July.  It makes me a bit anxious when I have to leave my house for long periods of time because I know there are so many things waiting for me to do when I get back!  This week was no exception... 

The best part of this week was our Patterson reunion up at Harriman State park (right next to Island Park).  Spencer found this awesome bunk house/cabin that slept 40 and has a great big kitchen and dining area.  We had a blast.  My favorite part was  the canoe ride.  We went just before dusk and we paddled five miles down river.  The sun was in it's perfect golden hour coloring and we saw moose mamas and babies and we saw so many different birds and fish.  It was absolutely serene.  It will forever stay in my mind.  Idaho is beautiful.

We also loved seeing all the kids together.  They make up games and they play and tease each other.  They took pictures of license plates when we went into Yellowstone Park for the day.  The got all 50 except for Mississippi I think? I don't know but they had a blast.  There's nothing like cousins!

The cousins all wanted to watch a little movie one night so they crammed on one bunk, and when they ran out of room there they laid on top of the partial walls around the bed.  

 Jesse took me for a walk.  It's a good thing my sisters have babies and toddlers for me to play with! 

Yellowstone was cold and rainy but stunning as always. 

As soon as we got back to Twin Falls the Robinsons brought out their hammocks and we hardly saw the kids on the ground again...

We missed Kendra and Ryan and family because baby Cora was still hanging out with her {exhausted} mama. 
 And Trevor was home working on tractors and cutting hay.  See you in the winter Trev!!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Happy Anniversary!

June 4-10

Happy anniversary to Rustin and Me!
We've been married 22 years.  We ran off to Boise for a quick one night escape.  It is so nice to get away from the regular schedule sometimes.  Austin and the kids do really well without us.  We really are in a great stage of life!!
Last week we were driving in the car and my phone died so one of the kids pulled an {ancient} CD out of the visor above the drivers seat and turned it on.  I probably haven't seen it for more than ten years.  It was a CD that Rustin made for me when we had been married a couple of years and he titled it  "love songs for my love." At the time I thought it was a great little CD with familiar songs that I liked.  I didn't think much of it really. Rustin asked me many times if I liked his CD and I replied with something totally un-romantic like "yeah, sure, it's great! Thanks."  Well this time when that CD started playing I heard it in a different light.  Eighteen years ago I don't think I really knew Rustin.  I don't think I realized then that when Rustin listens to a song, he hears (and remembers) every word. Seriously, every word.  After twenty-two years of marriage  I know that when Rustin made me that CD he did it carefully and intentionally.  The words of those songs, if taken as a literal declaration of love, are amazing and sweet and so thoughtful.  It really touched me to hear them in a completely new light.  I feel like I want to go back to the young thoughtful Rustin and be a little nicer and a little more appreciative.  Thanks honey for being kind and thoughtful back then even if I didn't really appreciate it.  I appreciate it now!

Penny delivered puppies on Thursday of this week.  She had twelve (!!) babies but two were still born.  It was a long drawn out delivery which is exhausting for everyone.  The first stillborn puppy (congenital deformities) really slowed things down and poor Penny had three hours of laboring/waiting for the little one to deliver.  I'm not sure what happened with the second but I'm afraid it may have been too much time in the birth canal, slowed down by the one that was before.  Delivering puppies doesn't always go perfectly.  By the end Penny was so tired her head was bobbing as she fell asleep in between contractions.  She wouldn't lay down and relax (can't blame her...) but she could barely hold her head up!  Once the last puppy was delivered she tucked them all in and they all went to sleep.  I supplemented her with calcium during this delivery because it was so drawn out.  She covered really well and is a super momma.  We have been really blessed with the puppies since the boys left for their missions.  Just as one litter goes home the next litter is born.  We couldn't have asked for better timing.  The Lord knows what we need!

We also added chickens to our chicken coop!  I'm so excited for fresh eggs again!!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Summer week #2

Summer week #2
May 28-June 3

This week has been awesome!  None of the summer activities (swimming, clogging, piano etc.) have started yet so we have just been taking the week off!  It's been crazy toasty hot.  I don't mind!

Jenna had her Clogging performances this week.  Both Friday and Saturday nights were packed!  It is so fun to watch clogging--kid of like watching a drum line.  I love the rhythms!

We have been pretty laid back this week.  I figure we will have lots of time to be busy but this week we don't have swimming or piano lessons or any other practices.  We did set up our job assignments for the summer.  But other than that we have been reading and playing and hanging out.  Rustin loves it when we are lazy...

I finally planted PERENNIALS in the flower beds.  I went to Lowe's one day and they had racks of really great perennials on sale for $3.  I brought home a bunch and now I can't stop!  I want to make flower beds everywhere!  Rustin is making me finish the projects I have started before I get going on another but I haven't been this enthusiastic about flower beds for years.  It's a ton of fun! I'll have to take before and after pictures.

And we welcomed new little chickens.  And planted our garden in the first time in three (or six...) years.

The most exciting news of this week--the lawnmower quit working after I had Benson fill it up with old, yucky gas.  We didn't have two weeks to wait for the repair shop to have time to look at it so---I looked it up on YouTube and I cleaned out the carburetor!!  All by myself!!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

First week of Summer

May 21-27

I love summer!  It's so nice to have a little slower schedule and to have the kids here with a little more free time.  It has been toasty HOT already which is a crazy contrast from the long cold winter we had this year.  No complaints from me though!

Okay, first of all.  Look at Sadie.  She is spayed.  These puppies are Annie's puppies not Sadie's but she can't resist nursing them.  The crazy part is that she actually has milk.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?! I love natural mothers...

I am so happy to have kids home!!

I have tried to figure myself out--why do I feel so much more balanced with the kids home?  It wasn't always this way for me.  When everyone was really tiny and I was nursing babies and not getting nearly enough sleep it was really stressful to keep kids occupied with something that wasn't fighting, TV or video games.  I didn't always succeed.  We used to have to have a seating chart for the car just to keep kids from killing each other as they tried to get to the front seat first.  Yikes.  It was super worrisome then but now I find it oddly charming.  I miss those days when I regularly had a car packed with six kids.

As the boys got a little older, they started driving themselves and making their own schedules.  It wasn't long before Austin was in all the same activities as Dallin and Landon and suddenly I only had three kids in my car!  It's crazy how fast that happens.

I've really enjoyed having older kids as well as younger.  It's a different type of parenting with 16, 17 or 18+ year olds.  I enjoy more of a support, encouraging and re-directing role.  There are definitely the moments where choices have potentially long reaching consequences that are terrifying for a parent. But those moments have also bonded me to the Savior more than almost anything else in my life.

So back to the nuts and bolts of summer.
We have the same system that we figured out when the twins were about 12.  Everyone gets a zone.  It used to be just a room when I had five kids who needed assignments.  But now we have zones.  Front room, entry, dining room and hall.  Kitchen.  And back family room (that includes puppies).  Jackson has the bathrooms and he's actually really excited about it.  I think we'll just keep him with the same assignment all summer!

So how is the system working? So far Jenna earns an A+ for always doing a great job in her zone.  Benson is a C+ and Austin isn't even on the grading scale yet.  He gets his jobs done but requires constant reminding. That kid is ridiculously busy! He has his Jump Company play and football workouts and young men.  I'm really hoping we can find a way to have him participate more in Young Men next year.  It feels like he misses everything. We need to have a good, better, best discussion...

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Last week of School!

I love it when kids get out of school!  This year was no exception.  I am seriously the worst public school mom ever.  We limped across the finish line for Jackson in Kindergarten this year.  Jenna and Benson went to three classes each at the middle school this year and they barely managed to get through the last week also.  

First day of school--cinnamon swirl pancakes. 
 Last day of school?--the last hotdog bun left in the bread drawer.

This is Jackson and I three minutes before the starting bell.  Still in our pajamas... (we did make it to school eventually...)

Last day of school for the big kids?  I didn't even try to make them go--I just gave everyone their summer chore assignments.  :) 

Jackson 'graduated' from kindergarden.  This was the best smile he could muster.  I don't exactly know why but he wasn't super excited to sing the cute little songs!  He did sing and smile for most of them but one particularly ridiculous song was just too much for him (too-ta-taw-ta-too-ta-taw-ta-toot-a-taw-taw) and he stood completely still and refused to sing or do any of the moves. Kindergarden was fun but I just can't--for the life of me--get excited about homework or IRI reading goals or timed number tests.  I'm sure they can provide some helpful information to teachers but it's really not been helpful for Jackson.  But the friends and activities and recess were great!

This last one's a public service picture for everyone who says they wish they have my hair.  Because I really want you all to feel content with your own awesomeness.  
This is just minutes before I left to {finally} take Jack to school.  Thank heavens for hair bands.

Happy last week of school! 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shakespeare and stuff

The kids performed a fantastic play--Taming of the Shrew--for their Shakespeare class this year.  During the first semester they studied Julius Caesar and watched/read 14 different Shakespeare plays! They also did presentations about Shakespeare's time with awesome things like blood sucking leaches and strange medical masks. The second semester the read Taming of the Shrew and then prepared for the play.  All the lines were perfectly delivered.  The younger kids did a fun 10-minute version of the play so the audience would know the plot.  It was fantastic.

The best part was the really great kids they got to hang out with.  Such fun kids!

Jenna had national clogging finals at Lagoon which was also super great. Jackson is big enough to ride all the big kid rides and he loves them all!  This is the first time at Lagoon that I haven't spent the day in kiddie land! No complaints from me...

The water going over the falls this spring has been absolutely stunning.  Normal summer water flow is 200 CFS and this spring it has been 20,000! The highest water ever!  Our crazy snowy winter has filled the reservoirs and made all the farmers happy. We went out to Cauldron Linn which was also amazing.  There is no way pictures or words can capture the power of that much water pouring through that small gap in the canyon.