Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Do you Twilight?

I do. I resisted for a long time, I really did. My cousin would bring them up to me, knowing how I love to read.

Cousin: You should read them, Candy! They are so good.

Me: I'm not going to read them.

C: Why not? You read Harry Potter right?

Me: Yes, and I loved Harry Potter. But that's different.

C: How do you know?

Me: I am NOT reading a teenage vampire love story!

That would end the conversation until the next time I saw her, and she'd start back in. I love her to death, or I probably would have strangled her. After a few months, she backed down and we both forgot about it. I would see and hear people talking about "Eclipse" and "Breaking Dawn" but I had no idea that it all meant Twilight and would still ignore it.

Fast forward to last summer. One of my daycare moms and I always talk books. I mentioned one day when she picked up her kids that I was between books. The next morning, there was a large, hard cover book in the diaper bag with a Post-It note on the front.

"Candy, Read this. Honestly, just give it a try and if you don't like it after a few chapters, give it back to me."

I looked under the Post-It and saw it was Twilight. *sigh* Another person trying to convert me. That book sat on my desk for 4 days before I finally gave in and read some of it. I told myself I'd read 2 chapters that day and see how I felt. I read 200+ pages. Yes, in one day. With 6 kids around me. Lets say nap times and movies were my dear friends for 7 days. That's how long it took me to read all 4 books, totalling over 1700 pages. I couldn't get enough of them and I felt so lost when I finished the last book! No more Edward or Bella or Jacob! What?!

I rented the movie and LOVED it. Andy watched it with me and said that it was much better than he thought it would be, considering how I went on about it before I read them, how I acted while reading them (absent, basically) and how I went on after reading them. He admitted that he actually liked it and would probably see the other movies, too.

New Moon came out last November and while I didn't see the midnight show, I did see a special fund-raising screening that our library did only a day after it opened. It was for women only and had prizes, gift bags, etc with the whole theater open just for us. I went with my two girlfriends and we were giddy, I tell you. We couldn't contain ourselves. The screening was at 10:00 and afterwards we went to Subway. While at Subway, we decided to see the 1:00 show as well! (Honestly, it was opening deer season and all our husbands were hunting and the kids were with sitters. What else was there to do?) I even talked Andy into seeing it with me the night before Thanksgiving. So yep, I saw New Moon 3 times in the theater. LOVED it.

Eclipse, the third part, opens tomorrow. I have my ticket for tonight (or tomorrow morning, however you want to look at it) at midnight. I cannot wait. I've been listening to the soundtrack, trying to see if I can pinpoint parts of the book with certain songs for the corresponding movie scenes. I've been watching the trailers on-line and I stop everything when I see one on tv. I am obsessed I tell you. I need an intervention. But it's soooo good!

Now I'm the one that says, "Really, you should just read them. They're excellent." I converted a few people, and my copies of Eclipse and Breaking Dawn are both out on loan right now. If you haven't read them, you should. Really truly. They are amazing.

Only a few hours to go...counting...counting...getting closer...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Camping Etiquette 101

We went camping with our very good friends this weekend. It was a lot of fun, even with the storms at night and incredibly annoying neighbors. We spent our time eating, hiking, riding bike, swimming, playing cards and super-heroes, and complaining about our camp neighbors. It was a good time that prompted this post in my head. I give you...Camping Etiquette 101

1) When park quiet hours start at 11 pm, please don't drive in at 1 am with your radio blaring rap-crap, windows open, talking above the radio. I'll just say that it's a good thing it only woke me, not the kids.

2) I know I'm going to sound like an old fuddy-duddy when I say this BUT...quiet hours start at 11 pm. That does not mean that you can still party and swear--loudly--as long as you stay at your campsite. That means that the radio is turned down, the voices stay at a talk or quieter, and you try to keep noise to a minimum. I do not care to know that your friend is a "#$@#(*& idiot for taking back her boyfriend."

3) When you are leaving the park at 5 am (we're assuming to sneak out before the ranger finds out you stayed with friends without paying--maybe the car that came in so late perhaps?) please know how to drive a manual transmission if that is your vehicle of choice. Revving the engine to the point of waking myself, my husband (which is like waking the dead!) and our middle daughter, then killing it, then revving again and taking off in the wrong direction on a one-way street is not cool or funny or quiet.

We are pretty sure 1-3 apply to a group of college-aged kids a few sites down from us. I know, I sound like such a prude but honestly. The next few pointers are for the people directly behind us. Here is a little map for your viewing pleasure. It's crude, but gets the point across. We are in site X, they are in site Y, restrooms are R, TT means some trees, and __ is the street, which looped around in a 1-lane, 1-way circle.

__ Y TT X __ R

4) If you have to go to the bathroom and it's across another site that does not belong to you for the weekend, please at least walk to the edge of the site to get to the restrooms. It is not appropriate to walk directly through the middle of someone else's site, when 10' to the right will take you only 1 second longer and around the edge of our site and behind our vehicles. The invisible tripping rope almost got erected for the weekend.

4 (b) Pertaining to #4, when your child has to go to the restroom at 5:30 am...take them. Do not come halfway into another site (ours) and then stand a few feet from the tent door to watch your child walk across the street, then yell at her to not have an accident and to hurry up because she's hesitating going to pit toilets by herself in the semi-darkness at 4 years old. I'm 29 years old and I don't like going by myself to pit toilets in the semi-darkness.

5) If you have a small child that does nothing but cry (and by that, I mean scream) you may want to consider a sound-proof camper vs a tent, or not camping until the child is older and able to properly vent and relate his frustrations. Trust me, it's better for everyone.

6) If said small child needs a nap, please don't just throw him in the pack-n-play in the tent and walk away. I understand that sometimes they just need to cry it out. I get it, I've been there. But never in a million years would I subject an entire campground of mostly tents to my child's blood-curdling screams for 10-15 mins each at every nap (2 a day) and a good 30 min at bedtime. At least sit in the tent with him or something. And if you can't do that, maybe wait until baby has gotten the hang of going to sleep on his own before you go camping. Just saying.

7) Please be considerate of general situations around you. If your entire family is awake at 6:00 am but you see no one else in the campground moving about, please do what you can to keep quiet. I understand with kids it's sometimes hard. But honestly, besides Baby Screamy McScreamerson, the person I heard the most all weekend was Mommy Talks with a Bullhorn. She either has a severe hearing problem or has been struck with the spell from Harry Potter to amplify your voice for Quidditch matches.

I am very proud of myself that I didn't make a scene or even say something to this family. I probably should have, but I knew if I started I wouldn't have stopped until the rangers were called and people were crying and we were all banned from the State Park system for a few years. So I kept quiet. But, if you ever find yourself camping next to a family with a blue Caravan and three children named Kenzie, Ben and Adam...RUN!!! Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Just get the heck out of Dodge.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Horse Camp

Last week, my mom watched the girls and did daycare for me while Alayna and I went to Horse Camp. It was through the 4H and such a great experience for Alayna! She was able to ride for several hours a day, with sessions including Trail Class (getting your horse familiar with various "scary" things they may encounter on a trail-ride) showmanship, games, etc. Mixed in with the riding sessions were horseless sessions about caring for your horse, judging horses, general veterinary care, etc. She had a blast. While she was doing all that, I was relaxing in our borrowed camper, helping prepare meals for 100+ people and watching what I could of her riding sessions. We both had a great time and are ready for next year!

Alayna and her horse, Chloe
Trying to get Chloe to walk over a tarp. They circled several times before she finally did it!
Coming off the bridge in the trail class
Alayna during Horse Bowl (quiz bowl with horsey questions)
Alayna got 2nd place and a silver medal for her age group (23 kids) in horse judging!
**I have posted more today in a bit of blog-keeping, so look below for more of what's been happening!

Look What Mikayla learned!

video

She doesn't have the legs down yet, but she gets the job done with her arms! She'll be our little body-builder if she keeps it up and soon pass Daddy up in the guns (bicep) department! Mikayla is so happy to be able to swing on her own, and we are so happy to not have to push her constantly.

Brace-Face

Alayna got two brackets put on her front teeth a few weeks ago. This picture is even old compared to how she looks now. It's amazing how quickly things can change. Her expander (the pink things you see on her molars) was turned nightly for a month, slowly expanding her upper jaw to make room for all her teeth. The expander is now just holding space for a little while longer, to make sure that her jaw doesn't move right back. She has the two front brackets to pull her front teeth together in order to allow room for her missing tooth to finally move in. Well, it has and is now peeking through her gum...9+ months after she lost it.

She's no longer our Snaggle Tooth! The snaggleness is gone and she's really looking great with her teeth in some semblance of order. Like I've mentioned before, I know what she's going through and how much better it feels in the long run to have nice, straight teeth. And I keep reminding her of that when she complains of not being able to eat caramels, or chew gum, or have chewy candy. I can't wait to show the completion pics!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dog Lovers, Read Up

I don't know how many of you pay attention to the links list on my side-bar, but I just added a new book that I read while camping over Memorial Weekend. My mom had read it for her book club and immediately told me I had to read it. She knew I'd love it, and I did.

"The Art of Racing in the Rain" is a book that I think everyone should read and will enjoy, but especially animal and dog lovers. It's the typical book review of "I laughed, I cried, I rejoiced..." it's all true.

Seriously, you need to read this book. It's told from a dog's point of view, as he looks over his life while he's in the process of dying. Not only will you never look at your pets the same way, but you will also stop at least once and marvel at the intelligence and depth of some of the dog's statements. Honestly, you forget that it's really a person writing from the dog's point of view. Fab.U.Lous. It's in my top 10 of favorite books ever read, I think. And I've read a LOT of books. So if you're looking for an easy read that will touch your heart and make you think, this is it. For realz.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We have a graduate on our hands!

Lilly flashing us the "I Love You" sign

Lilly graduated from her 4K program last week. It was so cute to see her up there with her class, performing their little program and accepting their diplomas. She is so sad to not see her friends for the summer, but she Can. Not. Wait. to start kindergarten! Congrats Lilly!

Mountains of Pics

Or should that be pics of mountains? Either way, it's applicable. I have a mountain of pictures to share in this post, so sit back and enjoy. I also have a legitimate excuse for not blogging for almost 2 wks. First we went camping Memorial Weekend. I forgot my camera, but it was a great time. We came home late Monday afternoon, scrambled to do laundry and mow the lawn and put things away. Tuesday was a regular day. Wednesday Andy and I...

...went on vacation! We bought a truck down in Phoenix, AZ, so we flew out and drove it home. It was Andy's first time on a plane, his first time seeing the mountains, first time seeing a lot of things. It was only my second time with most everything on the trip, with a few firsts for me as well. We had a great time.

We started in Phoenix, landing early Wednesday morning. We got checked into our hotel, which was right by the University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play. We walked to a local outdoor mall, did some shopping and ate some fabulous scones. Then we hung out at the hotel, took a nap and went back to the shopping center for a late lunch/early dinner. That night we met with some friends of mine for drinks and some wonderful garlic french fries!

Thursday morning we hung out at the hotel's outdoor pool, and basically marvelled at the 87 degree temp at 9 am. The truck was delivered to us shortly before noon, so we headed to Sam's Club to buy some groceries and a cooler for the drive home. Then we were on the road. We went northeast out of Phoenix, towards Holbrook AZ, where we hooked up with I-40. We took I-40 to Gallup, NM, then headed north to Durango, CO. We saw so many beautiful sites, with some pretty funny ones sprinkled in (like the people who were pulling a U-Haul with a Ford Ranger and looked completely perplexed that they jack-knifed on the winding roads!) We decided to stay in Durango for Thursday night.

Friday morning we were up with the sun, so we headed out early. We drove through the mountains, which were amazing. At times we were on very steep grades or super sharp corners, there was still snow in the higher elevations, and the traffic was very limited. We loved it all! We met up with I-25 in Colorado Springs, then took that north through Denver and exited onto Hwy 85 just north of Cheyenne, WY. Hwy 85 was quite the road, with very limited gas stations and towns, almost costing us an empty fuel tank! Thankfully we made it to a station and eventually to Custer State Park in South Dakota, where we had a campsite for Friday night.

Saturday morning we were again up quite early, so we packed things up and headed off on the wildlife loop through the southern part of the park. We saw buffalo, pronghorns, "wild" burros (they were once domesticated, then released into the park) and lots of turkeys. Both Andy and I were hoping for an elk or mountain sheep sighting throughout the entire trip, but between Custer and the mountains, all we saw were signs warning to be cautious for each. After the wildlife loop, we did Needles Highway and continued on to Mount Rushmore. We got to Mount Rushmore shortly before 8 am, so we had the entire place to just Andy and I and another couple in their mid-50s. By the time we left 20 mins later, there were probably 100 people milling around! In Rapid City we got onto I-90 until Wall, SD. Of course, we had to stop at Wall Drug, then drove through the Badlands before again getting on I-90 to head east into Minnesota. We made it as far as Andy's cousin's house in the southern Metro, where we stayed the night. We debated heading home, but from that point on we would have been in different vehicles (Andy's car stayed there when we came down for the flight) and not able to keep one another awake.

Sunday morning we were up about 8 and left to meet my mom and the girls after church. It was so nice to be with the girls and see how excited they were to see us! They loved the truck and immediately began asking when they could ride in it. So we loaded them up and headed home. When we got home, the dogs didn't know what to do! They saw Andy's car, with me driving, following that unfamiliar truck into the driveway, so they kept looking back and forth, not knowing it they should bark or not. They decided not to bark, until Andy opened the truck door. Then both started barking wildly, until they realized it was Andy. They tucked their tails, dropped their heads and looked incredibly sheepish for barking at their dad! It was too cute. As soon as we said hello to them, they started jumping up and down, and Marley did 3 hot-laps around the house. I think they were excited to see us, too.

All in all, we had a great trip. It was our first vacation away from the girls, so it was different and nice, but we were very glad to be home, too. We're already planning when we can do it again...this time with 3 girls in the backseat.


View from the plane
Heading north out of Phoenix

Cactus-we've never seen them before!

Sunset in New Mexico

Mountains outside of Durango, CO

Somewhere near Silverton, CO

Awww, this was so amazing

The view and the road

The view, with a sign saying how steep it was

Storms over Eastern WY

Burros in Custer State Park

Momma & Baby Pronghorn

Oh give me a home, where the Buffalo roam!

Tatanka

Andy and the truck on Needles Highway

One of the tunnels on Needles, 8'4" wide

Suck it in!!

Mount Rushmore, in case you didn't know

Badlands

The Badlands were near the top of the trip for Andy