Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Medieval Times

Sometimes having fun friends helps keep life fun for Allen and I. For example, would we have ever planned a LARP (Live Action Role Play) party with a medieval theme and invited a bunch of people to get dressed in full character and join us? Nope. But our friends the Arnolds did and it was such a blast!
We got invitations well ahead of time and then found out our characters soon after. I was dreaming of the fancy dress I'd get to wear as a princess or duchess or something and then saw my character card in my email: a scantily-clad witch, with a note that said, "You don't have to dress exactly like this". Thank goodness! Because not only would I feel extremely uncomfortable, I think everyone else would have felt the same. So I went to a local theater to rent costumes for Allen and I. They had something for Allen right off the bat but they had to get creative with me.

This was a night filled with awesome friends, delicious food, jousting, knife-throwing, love-letter writing, laughter and fun. I didn't bring my camera but thank goodness others did! I'll just let the pictures do the talking... 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our Little Free Library: Z Library

I heard about Little Free Libraries a couple of years ago and immediately knew it was something I wanted to do. I researched how they are built, how they work and where they are located (all over the world!). The more I discovered about them, the more I loved them. I especially loved the thought of having it be in memory of my friend Jason who was an amazing teacher with a contagious love for learning and books.

My sweet husband was the designer, architect and master builder of this beautiful piece of art that now stands in a corner of our yard. When I let others know that I was going to do this and mentioned that book donations were welcome, the response was overwhelmingly awesome. There were so many people who dropped books by or mailed them to me and I am so thankful to each one of you for your generosity and thoughtfulness! I ended up with 14 boxes full of a wonderful variety of books for kids, teenagers and adults.

Our friend Marc created, printed and donated book labels for every book. Whenever I told him we had run out of labels he would print more and bring them over. Thank you Marc!

Once Allen saw how many books were donated for the library he decided that two shelves were not enough. Instead of the typical library he designed a library with shelves in both the front and back.
I took pictures of it along the way, although not as often as I wanted.

And here's the view from the back of Z Library:

The only thing the library was lacking was a bench to make visitors feel even more welcome. Well, last week, by a series of small coincidences that could be a post in itself, we were given a bench for free by a total stranger. Allen has refinished it and it now sits beside the library for people to sit and peruse the books when they come to visit.

If you live nearby, please come visit our Little Free Library! Take a book, leave a book when you can, and don't forget to sign the guest book so we know you've been here. If you live not-so-close, we would love to have you come visit when you are in town or join the Z Library group on Facebook to stay updated on what's going on with our Little Library.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Idaho Times Two

Julia recently left us to attend college. The thing that makes her departure different from Allen the Younger's and Elle's is that she left the state. I'm proud of her for gaining some independence and leaving everything she knows and is familiar with but a teeny part of me just wishes she was still around to quote movies in every other breath and bake us cookies every other day. Okay, maybe a huge part of me. It was like taking her off to kindergarten all over again... but not really. Words aren't working right now, so let me tell you about our trip(s).

Julia had never been to BYU-Idaho, so Allen, Julia and I made a weekend trip to get familiar with the campus and community before the whole place is swarming with students. And I'll tell you what, THAT PLACE IS FANTASTIC. I want to go to school with her!

We were having such a grand time that I forgot to take pictures of the campus with its gardens and beautiful buildings and apple orchard and open spaces. But I came around once we were headed back to Idaho Falls for the evening.

We were told that we needed to go get some of the world's best ice cream at Reed's Dairy, so we did.  And it was.

We decided to take the long way home the next morning...

so we could see the Tetons...

and travel through a place that is dear to our hearts - Afton, Wyoming.

We had to stop at a playground behind a school where Allen's grandma used to live so he could play on the merry-go-round that has been there as long as he can remember.

I sure love these two!

Everything about the drive just spoke to me of the beauty of this earth. The weather was perfect and the scenery was gorgeous.

About a month later, Julia, Little X and I packed our 15 passenger van with her boxes, bags, suitcases, groceries and bike and made the 4+ hour trek once again. This time for real. My cousin Brenda let us sleep at her home that evening so we could get to the dorms first thing in the morning. It was so great to just sit and visit with Brenda and her daughter Katie and ask questions about what to expect for the first day, week and year at BYU-I.

I love both of these pictures of Brenda and I for different reasons. We both look nice here.

But this one fits our personalities better. I could just sit and laugh with her all day!

The next morning we fought the traffic heading into Rexburg (HOLY COW!) and found a parking spot about 2 blocks from her dorm. It all worked out for carrying everything in to her new place because there were so many random people just wanting to help! Little X and I got to meet Julia's roommates and their parents, help her with unpacking for most of the day and then turn right around and head back home. When it was time for her to go she gave me a hug, told me she loved me and then said, "Don't cry, Mom!" as she walked away. Well if that wasn't going to get the tears going I don't know what would!

And now, here we are with life continuing to happen all around us.  Julia's doing awesome and totally taking on life as a college student with all that she's got and loving every minute. She's an amazing human being who is a light everywhere she goes and I am a lucky, lucky human being to be able to call her mine.

Rock it, Julia! Remember to make each day your best day, ever.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Truth Is Out There

I love shopping at our local thrift store.  I especially enjoy finding interesting things there - vintage dresses, unique picture frames, books from my childhood or... Sasquatch.

You read that right.  A few months ago, Sasquatch was hanging out at a thrift store. He just stood there, frozen, not sure of what to do with all of these gawking locals.

If he was just going to just stand there, we did what every person would do with such an opportunity! We took pictures.

And then, to help him feel welcome here in our hometown, we found some props and did a little photo shoot.

We left him with some company when it was time for us to head home.

When we went back the next day to bring him some cookies, he was gone.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Bicycle Lesson

clipart from here

I got an extra assignment at church recently. Now, in addition to working with the leaders and young women age 12-18 in the stake I get to help plan fun activities with the girls who are age 10 and 11 in our ward. A couple of weeks ago we took the girls on a bike ride.

Everything started off great. The girls all showed up with their bikes and we rode in a mostly single-file line toward the lake. After a couple of blocks one of the girls, who had started at the head of the pack, was falling behind. "We're going too fast!" she would tell me. "Everyone needs to slow down!" 

When we first gathered I had noticed the nice road bike she was riding. It was a little old school, but it definitely looked like a more serious bike for riding than the mountain bikes and beach cruisers that the rest of us were on. As I watched her ride I began to notice that her feet barely reached the pedals and she was really having to work to make the bike move. So when we stopped in order to re-group I suggested that she and I could trade bikes. I moved the seat on my bike to the lowest position to fit her better and I could comfortably reach the pedals on her bike. Problem solved, right?

As we started to ride again, she was thrilled. "This bike is so much easier to ride!" she told me. "We should go faster!" And now I was the one falling behind. Not just behind, but a substantial distance behind the rest of the group. The pedals were difficult to rotate. The brakes felt like they were constantly on and the gears were stuck in one position. It felt like I was riding through thick tar.

We eventually ran into the other leader's husband, who was able to completely disconnect the rear brakes for me. We thought this would solve the problem, but there was no change. I didn't want to make everyone return home because of this one bike, so I kept telling myself that I could stick it out. The girls were so excited about this bike ride and I felt like I would be the one to ruin it if we had to turn back so I kept saying that everything was fine and worked like crazy to keep up with the pack.

When we finally returned to our neighborhood I was able to ride my own bike back home from the activity. I was amazed by how easy it was to work the pedals, how quickly I could accelerate. It almost felt like flying, the difference between the two bikes was so extreme. I thought, why did I stick with riding that bike? In the beginning, when it was obvious there was a problem, it would have been so much easier to just turn around and find a different bike to ride. I was so worried about disappointing the girls that I had held on to something when it would have been so much easier to just let it go.

I had a thought just then about how much that can be a parallel with life.  How many of us carry burdens and weaknesses with us when it would be so much easier to just let them go? Why is it so hard to let go of things that we know we would be better off without? On the other hand, how many of us see others struggling along with something that appears to us to be easy and make a judgment when we have no idea of the whole story?

Let's be willing to ride a little slower if we need to so that no one gets left behind. Let's offer a hand when we see someone with a loose chain or a flat tire. Let's not make assumptions on why someone is lagging behind - we need to remember that there are often things going on that we can't see. If we each do all that we can to be kind and offer support and encouragement to others then it will be that much easier for everyone to enjoy the ride.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quick Quips

(on the way to dropping kids off at school) 
X: Can you play Boots and Cats really loud?
me: Boots and Cats isn't on the radio, just the internet.
X: Just find it! I need some bootsncatsnbeesbeesbees to dance to!

(In case you're not familiar with Boots and Cats, here you go! Elle shared it with us before she left on her mission.)

(Car conversation with All-a-Boy)
Me: I'm going to stop at the store really quick before we go home to see if they sell those super-absorbent underwear with plastic on the outside.
A-A-B: Wow, Mom. TMI, but okay.
Me: Wait, I'm not buying them for ME, they're for X! For potty training!
A-A-B: That suddenly makes a lot more sense.

One day when I was using my wheat grinder X covered his ears and then went out in the garage and brought back two sets of ear-protection and told me, "Put on yours headphones mom! Your ears is breaking with that noisy!"

X: Mom, can you sit under my lap?
Curly: I asked Little O what time it was. He looked at my clock and said, one hundred. (It was 1:00.)