Monday, July 30, 2012

Big Family Update

The biggest news about Tyler is that he can now ride a bike without any training wheels! I'm so proud of him for conquering his fear, and figuring it out. He is also so proud of himself! It was so neat to watch that accomplishment take place over the course of a week. I had to take the kids to the church parking lot so that we didn't have any cars to worry about, it was a big, open area and the girls could play around while I (or daddy) worked with him.
His summer soccer season just ended last week. He had a great time and improved a lot. The funnest part about watching him is how hard he works. He runs twice as much as any of the other kids he's playing with. This boy's a hustler, he just never gives up and keeps going after that ball. I love watching his enthusiasm.
His reading is also improving so quickly and that makes me sooo happy! I've waited for this day for a long time because he's such a book-a-holic and it will be so nice for him to be able to read to himself, and to the girls.
He and his dad had a fun project that took them a couple of weeks. They built a birdhouse! One weekend we all went to pick up the wood, the next weekend they built it. A few days later Tyler painted it, and now it's hanging in our backyard in a tree. Each side is a different color, he took it very seriously. :) He had fun working side by side with his dad, too.
He likes to assert his independence with little things like going to the bathroom or getting a drink by himself while we're at church, going to class by himself after sacrament meeting, ride his bike around the neighborhood square without me, etc. He's growing up so quickly and is a fantastic helper.

 Below: Tyler watching while Kenny sliced open some salmon he caught earlier that day. They had printed off a picture of the anatomy of a fish, and they were cutting it open to see where everything was.

 Brynlee: Bryn is so fun to have around because she just loves life. She makes being a girl seem like the most fun and glamorous thing you could be! She loves nothing more than dressing up in all pink, or very fancy and being a princess. She refers to herself as "your pinkalicious daughter" or "Princess Brynlee". Every single day, she puts on her ballerina outfit, or a princess dress-up, and asks me to do her hair pretty, or in a Rapunzel braid. She spins and twirls around the living room and watches her tutu poof out.
She shows so much love to everyone and is so sweet. She tells me throughout the day how much she loves me. I love her positive comments like "you're the best mom ever!" Or, "I'm growing up to be a mom just like you!" Or when I do something like wash her ballerina outfit so she can wear it again she says, "I'm so proud of you!" I'm not sure she understands the meaning of the word proud, because she's proud of people for lots of different reasons :).

She has recently started to love showers. I showed her how I wrap up my hair when it's wet and she thought that was pretty neat.

Fell asleep with gum in her mouth and woke up with it in her hair. We were lucky it was near the bottom, and underneath so it was hidden well when I cut it out.
 Madison is almost 20 months and she thinks she's just as big as Ty and Bryn. Her vocabulary has improved dramatically and it's so nice! We just switched rooms around this last weekend. Before, Tyler and Brynlee shared a room and Madi was in her own room. Now, Madison is sleeping in a big-girl bed, and sharing a room with Brynlee. She loves it!! The first night she just couldn't stop smiling. It was like, "are you seriously going to let me sleep in here?" haha she was so cute about it. Now Tyler is in a room by himself, but we plan to move Kelsey in there with him in a month or less.
She loves to play dolls more than anything else and is a great mommy to her little babies :).

 She occasionally likes to run around in the nude :)

 These kids love to splash in the puddles after it rains whether they're wearing their rain boots, or not.

 Kelsey: Turned 5 months old yesterday! She makes great efforts to escape her bumbo by leaning out, or arching her back so hard that I swear she's going to pop out of there.

 She gets lots of love and attention from her siblings, (obviously Brynlee with the crown) and she handles it all pretty well. We still call her the volcano, but I think her spitting up is improving a little. She's started sleeping so much better, around 10 hrs., and it's amazing how good life can be again! :)

Kenny: Enjoys going fishing every opportunity he can! I have never known him to love any hobby as much as he loves fishing. It is hard for me to understand, but I don't have to I guess :). He goes with guys from work a lot and they have a good time. Last Thursday his company had a barbecue that we went to and I got to meet everyone he works with. I always enjoy being able to put faces with names and stories he tells. After speaking with everyone I realized Kenny is exactly the same at home as anywhere else; he teases everyone ruthlessly and is sarcastic to a fault, but he works hard and they all had high praise for the things he does there. :) I really am proud of him, and grateful that he is able to support our family so well so that I can stay home and raise our kids. Because that's exactly where I should be, and want to be.
Me: I only got to go to one day of girls camp because of the kids, but I had a great time. I really wish I could've been there with them the whole time. They are great girls and I really do love them. It makes me so happy when I see them improving their lives and strengthening their testimonies. Young Womens is keeping me busy (on top of having 4 kids, of course) but I love being a part of it.
I am on week 2 of going to boot camp every morning. It's my last big effort to lose the baby weight before my brother's wedding! I am dying to see my family again and can't wait till I fly into SLC on Aug. 16th! I go to either the 5:30 a.m. or 6:10 a.m. class. I found this great deal on Groupon and it turns out it's exactly what I needed to drag my bum out of bed and workout!! It feels great!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fishing Day 2 - Big Bear Halibut Charter

Tuesday, July 3rd. This charter was out of Homer, AK.
Captain Lance, another helper guy, Grandma, Kenny, Grandpa, Andy, Eric, Jeni

The island they went out to for fishing. Looks a little eerie doesn't it?

They put neon stuff on these fish to use as bait

Jeni caught the biggest fish of them all! A 65-pounder!! The rest were between 20-35 pound halibut

They filet those suckers right there on the boat

These were all the fish they caught. Everybody went home with some fish, and our freezer (and deep chest freezer) is now FULL of fish!! If you like to eat fish, please come over and help us, or rather, help Kenny :).

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fishing Day 1 - Salmon Charter

Monday July 2, 2012 out of Seward, Alaska

Sea Lions sun bathing

Bowhead whales

the lone mountain goat

Grandpa Weston

Grandma Weston


Kenny and Eric (only fisher not pictured is Jeni, who was behind the camera)

As luck would have it there were absolutely no salmon. So they caught Rock fish instead.

Friday, July 13, 2012

4th of July

Independence Day came and went without much of a hoorah. In fact, it was somewhat depressing how uneventful it was. Kenny was gone fishing with his family on Mon-Wed. (more on that later) so they didn't get back until 6:00 that night, in time for dinner and a few poppers--because fireworks are illegal here. Go figure, they have no restrictions on carrying firearms, but fireworks?? Out of the question.

It hit me as I was doing laundry and cleaning bathrooms just like it was any other day of the year, that I am still pretty lonely here. I was aching to be with my family for the reunion in Utah. I wanted to go to the hot air balloon show, or the freedom run, the parade, and have a barbecue with so many people I couldn't even talk to them all. I wanted to eat popsicles and wipe sweat off my head because it's July, and it should be hot! Maybe go swimming and get a tan line. I wanted to see fireworks and do all the other fun traditions that used to be my 4th of July. Yet I was here in 55 degree weather, alone in Alaska. My adjustment to living here has been slower than any other place we've lived, but it's getting there. I told Kenny once he got back that I will be happy here. I believe you can choose to be happy, so I will make this a good experience for myself and my family. But this will never be home.

The day wasn't a total downer. I still wanted to do some fun things to make it good for the kids. I blew up some red, white, and blue (plus a few pink) balloons to celebrate America's birthday. My kiddos get excited about any birthday :). We talked about the significance of this day and what it means to us. We made a flag fruit pizza and colored some flags too.
I really do have such a love for this great nation and I feel so blessed to be an American!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Part 5: That Time My Pride Was Bigger Than A Glacier

Before delving into this story, I need to give some essential background details. They may or may not have weight when you judge me after reading this.

Friday (June 29th) had been a busy day. We were out the door by 10 a.m. with an hour drive down to Alyeska (which took much longer because of the fun stop at Beluga Point). After spending hours there, we drove the 1.5-2 hours up to the reindeer farm. Once the tour and reindeer feeding was through, it was around 5:40 p.m. by the time we were leaving the parking lot. I had allergies that were making me irritable, and I was getting sick of the car (and keeping kids happy in the car). Kelsey does not sleep well in her car seat, and hadn’t slept 30 minutes straight the whole day. She was very fussy, and I was anxious to get her home and in her own bed. We were running out of clean diapers and snacks, but I felt good that I had prepared just right for our scheduled activities, and now we could go home and relax. Boy was I wrong.

Kenny comes up with this idea to go see a “nearby” glacier. He was sure it was “just 20 minutes away”. I was immediately opposed to it, knowing how exhausted the kids were already. In my mind, we had already had a very full day, and we still had plenty of days left to go sight-seeing with his family. I said no, but he kept pushing it. He really wanted to go. I felt so betrayed. I didn’t want him to put me in that position. Of course they have to get the okay from me, because I’m the mother of the 4 little kids we tote around with us. The kids would be the only reason we wouldn’t go, so they needed me to be on board. He knows I like to make plans and prepare ahead. Usually, he has all the great ideas, and I plan them out. And usually, we make a pretty good team that way. I think about all the details of what we’ll need, and I make lists and get addresses and directions and times down to a T. I don’t do well with spontaneous things like that, only because kids don’t do well with “flying by the seat of their pants”. They take a lot of work, and that always comes back to me. But it’s my in-laws and I hate being the witch-y wife. So off we went.

I tried talking myself into it on the way there. “It won’t be that big of a deal. We’ll just walk down some paved path, touch the ice, take a few pictures and go home.” I obviously had no idea what we were in for. The problem was, nobody had a clue what we were getting ourselves into. It soon because obvious that the “20 minute” estimation was WAY off; it ended up being another hour and a half, not counting our dinner stop. The winding canyon roads were making me car sick, and my head was pounding.

On the way, we stopped to take pictures at this beautiful pull-off spot.

The scenery the whole day was just gorgeous, and this view was incredible. But there was a chip on my shoulder and I wasn’t about to get rid of it. While we were stopped I changed the girls’ diapers. I was a little late on one of them, as I discovered that Madison had peed through her pants, and they were soaking wet. So I took them off of her and let her just be in her diaper. We finally got to this Glacier Park pit stop place and found out it cost $15 bucks a person. We also had to fill out and sign all these liability waivers. I started wondering what the big deal was. Oh, and it was 8:00 p.m. when we were filling out the paper work. Now it was cutting way into my kids’ bedtime. Another thing I take very seriously. I know I sound like such a Nazi about everything. But like I said, I was letting my pride take over and each infraction I could find was making it onto my mental check-list of crimes, with my husband being the convicted felon.

We got down to the parking lot and started to unload the cars. Suddenly, the fact that Madi has no pants on becomes a big issue. It’s cold and windy, so we can’t very well let her run around in a diaper. We improvise by getting one of Brynlee’s extra jackets, and stick her legs through the arm holes. We zipped it up and felt satisfied that it at least covered her, so she wouldn’t be too cold. I get the baby out of the car and bring a blanket to block her from the wind. Thankfully, Kenny’s mom offered to stay in the car with her, since she didn’t want to walk down there anyway. I was also glad that we had extra uncles there to help out with carrying the kids and helping them out.

Remember that paved path idea I had in my head? There was no such thing. What I did see, were people with those special shoes, walking sticks with pokers at the bottom for the ice, and backpacks full of supplies. Here I was in my cute, (new!) brown flats, not even tennis shoes, with absolutely no traction. It hit me that this would have really been one of those places you plan for before just showing up. At first it was just muddy, then we got to the glacier. You’re just walking around on ice, and sometimes rocks when you’re lucky. There are lots of little streams of freezing cold glacier water at different random points that we would have to cross. It was getting more and more difficult the further in we got, but Kenny just wouldn’t stop. I kept worrying about Kelsey that we had left back in the car with my mother-in-law. Was she still screaming? I didn’t even show her where the stuff was to make a bottle—I honestly didn’t think we would take very long. I tried to remind him that for as far as we go in, we still have to go all the way back. But he just kept forging “onward, ever onward”.

Have I ever mentioned that I call Kenny, “Captain”? Whenever he starts to lead our little family off on some expedition, I call him Captain. I think he missed his calling in life; he would have made a great explorer of uncharted territory. He is always up for an adventure and his curiosity and thrill of the “new and exciting” get the better of him.  

I wanted to have a great time too. I just couldn’t let it go. It was like the movies where you have the two voices on your shoulders, one good, and one bad. I knew I was in the wrong, but there was no way I could admit that. Kenny wasn’t intentionally trying to ruin my night. He didn’t know that it would be so far away, or so tricky to do, especially with 3 little ones. But he was making the most of the situation. We were already there right? So why not just relax and revel in this incredible experience?! It was honestly one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to in my life. It was seriously breathtaking how beautiful, and unique it was. I was feeling so sad and angry at myself that I couldn’t just let my pride go and enjoy this with Kenny. A love of this beautiful earth, a gorgeous sunset, or just any pretty nature scene—that’s something we have in common and love to share together. Geographically, this was at the top of our list, and I was being a grouch.

My husband is probably one of the most stubborn people I’ve ever known in my life. (Obviously I give him a run for his money, but still.) Sometimes it works to his advantage, and sometimes it does not…this was one of those times. Looking back, I realize I should have just turned around and walked back myself. It’s not like he was dragging me along against my will. But I didn’t want to be the one that left. I still had three kids there to look after, and I wasn’t even sure I knew my way back.

Tyler was the first one to slip and fall in the water. That made me even madder. Now he would be wet the whole way back, and it was cold. We finally reached a point and I put my foot down. Madi was starting to get really fussy and mad that we wouldn’t let her walk around by herself. But it was PURE ICE and she didn’t even have pants on! Even if we were on normal ground, she would trip and fall on the hoodie that was dangling between her legs. On the way back, I also slid down the ice and into the water. I had cuts on my hands and my leg, and my blood started to boil. “This was ALL Kenny’s fault!” I thought. I was hurt, and embarrassed, and he was going to pay!

I don’t think I have ever been so mad at any one person, as I was at this time. I stormed ahead with Brynlee, desperate to get away from him and get back to my baby in the van. I felt awful for making them sit in the van that long waiting for us. My heart was racing I was so upset, and if I wasn’t so dang prideful I would’ve burst into tears. Kenny rushed after me, trying to see if I was okay from the fall. But all I could say through gritted teeth was, “Please don’t talk to me for at least 24 hours.”

Once we got back to the van, I was able to see what time it was. We had been gone an hour and a half! Thankfully, Kelsey was asleep at that time, but she sure hadn’t been Miss Pleasant while we were gone. We still had a 2 hour drive back home. We got the kids to bed quickly, around 11:30 p.m.

On the way home I was able to take a few deep breaths and “cool my jets”, if you will. I thought to myself, so what? So what if the kids are too tired one day, and go to bed too late one night. That was one of the coolest dang places we’ve ever been to, and I nearly ruined it for everyone. I still feel awful about my poor attitude, and bad example to my kids. This is a public apology, and will now go down in record for my future posterity of how they should not act! And now for some pictures of that amazing place that I will definitely never forget.
The glacier from the road, on the way there

Kenny drank out of this little water pocket

Uncle Andy with Bryn on his shoulders, then Aunt Jeni and Grandpa

Captain Kenny charging on ahead with Madi in one arm and holding Ty's hand in the other; Andy with Bryn