Friday, July 31, 2009

The Farm

I know. I know! I am a liar and a cheat (name that movie), and a total blog slacker. But I do have a good excuse for the first 10 days of lying. I wasn't planning on going, but a day after I wrote the "Montana Teaser" promising more, I hopped in the motor home with my family for a little 9 day jaunt up the California and Oregon coast. So there's that. But since I've been home from that trip I have struggled to find the motivation to go through the hundreds of Montana pictures, upload and then write about them. Maybe it's knowing that after all these I still have hundreds of newer pictures to sort through and blog about the more recent trip. At any rate, here I am, and here are the (very, VERY narrowed down) highlights of a trip to The Farm.

My parents have a motor home (you know that by now). It is seemingly plenty large (at 36 feet), but please try to imagine thirteen bodies crammed in that amount of space for two solid days. We were a little concerned that we may all go crazy, but really, it didn't seem that bad. We all kinda found our own little space (Grandma and Grandpa in the front seats, Baby G in the other upright seat so he could be strapped in, my mom, Kim, Madeline, Rach, and Ems in the front portion, and the big kids, Ben, Hannah, Josh, and Jake in the back room), and it worked out nicely. Looking at these pictures does make me a little claustrophobic, though.

Mom, Kim, Mady, and I taking a nap.
At least 6 (there may be more hidden in there somewhere) of the kids playing on the back bed.

Pulling into The Farm feels a little bit like going back to your childhood home, equal parts nostalgia and warmth. As I walked through Aunt Sandi and Uncle Tom's house for the first time this trip I just kept thinking about how there is something so comfortable and happy about places that never change and people that manage to seem kinder and sweeter than they were  before, though that can't really be possible. They have all always been so good to us. There are a few things about The Farm that really make it "The Farm" for us. I'll highlight some of those things.

There are always 3-5 dogs running around. Sometimes they are the same as the last year we were there, but usually there is at least one new one. 
The Farm Dogs-- Jake, Tuffy, Harley, and Sophie
Uncle Rick with the dogs.
Jake the boy laying down with Harley. Jake the dog watching.

Checking the fence
The last couple of years Uncle Rick has taken us on quite the journey to check the condition of the fences on the parts of their land that they cannot get cars or 4-wheelers to. That means the terrain is incredibly rough and steep. We haul equipment with us to fix broken fence posts along the way, and it's always an adventure. Last time Uncle Rick bludgeoned a rattlesnake with a hammer while we all watched in a little bit of horror, and this time Kim brilliantly gave Emma some Benadryl right before we left so that she would be extra sleepy and not want to walk AT ALL. It was pretty exciting.
Kim proudly showing off her farm jeans and shirt.
Most of the crew setting off on the trail.
See the steepness? My 70-something year old grandpa did this with us (he's probably in better shape than some of us). On this particular slope he said, "This is almost as bad as the 17th hole at ValleyView." He's a golfer.
Apparently we have a thing for tie-dye in my family. When I realized how many of us had tie-dyed shirts on that day I decided it needed to be documented.
Josh, Mady, Jake, me, Ben
The real farmer doing the hard work.
The whole group of us at the end. We were tired and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.

We always go to The Farm in the summer. Three of my mom's children celebrate birthdays between July 18th and August 16th. That means that we have all had a birthday at The Farm at some point. I know I have celebrated at least two birthdays there, and I always love being there for my birthday. We always go into town and order an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen. So this year when I realized we would be celebrating my son's 2nd birthday on The Farm I was happy that he was going to get that experience (and a little sad that his daddy wouldn't be with us). 
2 year old Baby G dancing over his Dairy Queen Ice Cream Cake special.
All the people that were there to celebrate with him. He felt so special and kept asking everyone to sing to him again.

When I was young I remember my mom wanting to get pictures of us in the wheat fields. I wanted to get a few pictures of my baby that could only be taken on The Farm. I took a bunch but will only post two. You are welcome.
Playing in front of some hay bales.
On one of the hundreds of red dirt paths surrounded by green fields that don't stop. 

Riding Horses
Many years back we would spend hours and hours a day on the horses for the Trail Ride. We haven't been there for the Trail Ride for quite sometime, but Uncle Rick still saddles the horses up for us to go for rides.
This picture is so classicly "Farm" to me. The old trucks in the foreground, the skies that go on for miles, and some of us on horses on the horizon.
Baby G was pretty happy to be on the horse.

Chasing (or checking) the cows
One of the very best things about The Farm is going to check cows. I love that Uncle Tom will come running into the house saying that a cow got out somewhere and we all hop onto 4 wheelers or load up in the back of the pick-up and race over to find it (or not find it, whatever the case may be). Watching the dogs move the cows to the right pasture is really a sight to behold. We love checking (and chasing) the cows.
A classic cow checking picture.
Uncle Rick being brave and getting the cows to turn the other way.
Uncle Rick wasn't nearly as effective in getting the cows to move as the dogs were. It is amazing to watch those dogs herd the cattle.
Sophie looking very fox-like chasing the cows.
I love this one of Jake biting this bull's hooves to get him moving.
If you look closely you can see three of the dogs chasing the cows up the hill.
Dreamy, no?
Baby G had fun riding in the Gator while we were checking cows one of the times.

The Food
Aunt Sandi makes the most delicious food. One of the very best things about The Farm is how well we eat there. Steak Rice and Carmel Rolls are two of the things we request every year and Aunt Sandi never disappoints. It was so much fun this year to help cook and to learn how to make some of the delicious things that I usually only get on The Farm.
Aunt Tami, Kim, Mom and Grandma cooking up some goods. Aunt Sandi isn't in this picture which is really sad because she is the brain behind all the deliciousness.
Aunt Sandi pouring the ooey goodness on the dough for Carmel Rolls.

Playing Cards
All of my Farm memories include nights of staying up late playing cards around the kitchen table. Oh how I love that tradition.
The gang playing Phase 10. This particular game lasted at least 5 nights.

Cain's Grove
This was actually the first year we have gone to Cain's Grove. It is near The Farm and is filled with all kinds of rock formations and caves and cool looking stone. We had fun exploring and making the adults (I know that I am technically an adult, but I am considering  myself among the children here) nervous by jumping off of big rocks.
Hannah and I catching some air up on a tall rock.
Josh and Jake are competing in the 2012 Olympics in synchronized rock jumping.
Many yoga poses were struck on high rock formations.
All of us almost falling off. Scary, huh?
Only at The Farm...
...can the little girls wake up, run outside and immediately busy themselves making mud pies for hours
...can we catch large garter snakes and scare the pants off Aunt Sandi.
...can we make ourselves feel like dorks when we realize that while attempting to close the fence behind us we locked Kim on the other side. We like to pretend we're real farmers, but clearly we're not. I love how hard Kim is laughing upon realizing what they had just done and I love Uncle Tom in the background chuckling to himself about these city folk on his Farm.
...can you get this classic picture of your son with wheat in his mouth, and hands in his pockets. Little farm boy. Cracks me right up.
...can a junky old truck look so good. My grandpa is a handsome farmer.
...can you look out the window and see the boys and men on the roof of the old chicken coop putting tin on it.
...can you experience the elation that comes with rain (no irrigation here-- the crops depend on precipitation and it is a happy day when some comes), followed by the anxiety of hail that could potentially destroy the crops.

Farm Scences
The following pictures show some of the beauty and serenity that surrounds us on The Farm. It is truly one of the most picturesque places on the earth.
The old Sunday School building where my Great Grandma is buried.
Farm truck and farm dog. One of my favorite pictures of the week.
Farmer out by a pick up. Love this of Uncle Tom.
Horses, hay bales, sky, land. So beautiful.
Windmill blowing strong in front of farm house.

The memories I have of The Farm are precious to me, and I am so grateful to have a place like that to escape to once in awhile. I am now so grateful that I can continue to share this magnificent place with my family. It was a picture perfect week on The Farm, and we are already planning our next visit. 

The only hard part about it is the looong drive back. The drive there is more manageable because you have The Farm to look forward to, but going home is always a long drive. But this year Baby G and I got so, SO lucky. At the last moment we were able to steal a buddy pass from my very generous Grandma and hop on a plane. We were home in an hour and a half. I think it may have been one of the happiest moments of my life when I got on that plane. Thanks again, Grandma. 

Friday, July 17, 2009

montana teaser

We just returned from a glorious week on The Farm. The Farm (which belongs to my mom's aunt and uncle) is a place with such sweet memories for me as we have been making the 16 hour long drive to north-eastern Montana select summers since I was a young girl. I will report with many more details (and pictures, of course) early next week, but for now here is a little glimpse to whet your appetites for all things peaceful, lovely, and picturesque:
Emma and Rach spinning in one of the hundreds of wide open, going-on-for-miles fields at The Farm.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

my brain unloaded


Today he is two. Two whole years old. I have been reliving those past years in my mind for a couple of weeks now. My body seems to remember that two years ago at this time I was preparing for a grand change, and my mind can't seem to stop churning over the details of him. Of his life. Of who he is. Of what he has done and learned. Of the miracle that he is a perfect combination of his daddy and me. There have been so many times during these reflections where I feel my heart swell, my eyes brim, and a lump of love grow in my throat. Of course there are not words for this love-- you all know it too, if you are lucky. Or you will. But I wanted to try to catch a measure of what this boy means to me in writing. One day when basketball practice, ACT prep, school dances, and first dates fill up our lives I want this little boy to know that there was a time that we were together all day every day and that it was my joy. That taking care of him was never a chore, that we called each other "best friend" and that we meant it. That waking up to his sounds never got old and that his daddy and I lived for him and each other. So today, on his second birthday, I am going to take a little trip in my memories and write down some of the precious things I remember about his first two years.

I couldn't wait to get pregnant and I tried on and bought maternity clothes long before I knew he was coming. When I did get pregnant I was lucky enough to be able to see him in many ultrasounds (my dad is an OB/GYN (not mine though) and you better believe that we spent many a Sunday down at his office taking peeks at the babe). I remember seeing him hiccup and hearing his heartbeat and realizing that the miracle I had been waiting for and preparing for my whole life was finally happening. I remember that each time I would feel him kick I would take a second to rub my belly and tell him I loved him because I knew he was awake and would maybe hear me. I remember going to sleep one night when I was about 25 weeks along. I hadn't felt him move a whole ton that day and I fell asleep with a little worry in my mind. I woke up startled at about 4 AM and panicked that I still hadn't felt him. I said a prayer that everything would be okay and that I would be reassured that my baby was fine. After about 20 minutes of lying still I felt three little pokes come from him. I knew he was okay and I felt grateful that he was already obedient, even in the womb :).

The night before his birth and the day of his birth were so special to me. I have been working on writing the story of my labor and delivery, but I'll save those for another post. Those moments were nothing short of sacred, though, and oh, how I treasured those first few days with him so fresh from heaven. I remember crying the last night we were in the hospital because the next morning he was scheduled to have his circumcision. I couldn't bear the thought of doing that to him and was irrationally telling his daddy that I wouldn't let them take my baby away and do that. Kind of funny to me now, but at the time I was dead serious and absolutely heartbroken by the idea of my new baby being in pain.

I remember him crying for the first two nights we brought him home and desperately wanting to know how to help him. I remember the relief that came when my milk came in and he was suddenly so content, and started sleeping for hours at a time at night.

I remember holding him on my shoulder when he was about 3 or 4 months old and thinking that surely that must be the best stage-- he was still tiny enough to just lay and cuddle with me, but was starting to get interactive, smiley, and so much fun, too.

I remember him starting to get scared of a few select strangers when he was 4 months old. There were only about 3 people that he did that with, but he took one look at them and started screaming hysterically. One of those people was the mother of a girl that my husband liked in high school. I was secretly smiling at my baby's reaction to her.

He hated laying on his tummy for the longest time. When he learned to roll off his tummy he was a happy boy.

He's always been chatty. He babbled constantly when he was little, and if I didn't know better I would have sworn he said "hi" at 6 1/2 months. His first words came at 9 1/2 months when he said, "uh oh."

I remember having dance parties with loud music in his room in the morning when I got him dressed. I remember when he was almost 7 months old and I could see him starting to feel the beat. He was slamming his chubby legs down on the floor to the music and had a huge grin and I remember being overwhelmed by how BIG his spirit was to me in that moment.

I remember his first time fishing, and all the fishing trips since then. I can't believe how content he is to freeze his little feet off in rivers with his daddy. Those two boys must've been made for each other because I get tired and ready to go long before either of them do.

He has been a lounger his whole life. When he first got control of his limbs he would push the sun shade of his car seat down by his feet so he could lift his legs up and rest them on it. He still likes to randomly just come up and lay his head down on my shoulder or lounge back on pillows. I love that about him-- such a little cuddle boy. He has never been a go-go-go baby. He sits back and thinks. He stops playing to lay on his blankie. In large groups of little kids he does a lot of observing. He is very personable and social-- he says "hi" to strangers constantly-- but I think he is like his dad and gets a little overwhelmed by lots of people. He would rather be with the people he is close to and loves.

I remember the many (many, many) hours I have spent nursing him. The joy that that simple act has brought to us is truly immeasurable and I truly feel so blessed that nursing has been such a pleasure. I remember how we used to link hands and I'd kiss all his little fingers while he nursed. I remember when he first started to communicate verbally and he would have to stop nursing every couple of minutes to blurt out a new word he could say. So so many happy nursing memories.

I remember how he used to scoot in circles and get so frustrated that he couldn't get to all the places he could see.

I remember all the books that were read to him early in the morning in our bed by his daddy. Waking up to them reading together was always such a sweet blessing.

His love of all things boy is not a singular memory, but rather an overarching theme of his first two years. Tools, dirt, balls. I honestly am still surprised by how much he loves those things.

I can't believe what a treasure it was (and continues to be) to watch his language and communication expand. His memory is truly incredible (totally gets that from his dad) and he will talk about people (by name) and places that we haven't brought up in weeks. I can't believe that a week after we went out to dinner he randomly brought up our waiter's name (Bob) and remembered that he had brought him ice cream.

I hope I will always remember his tender heart and I hope he will always have it. Yesterday we went on a little walk in the sprinkling rain barefoot. He collected little treasures (rocks in one hand, flowers in another) and stepped in the puddles that were starting to form. He slipped in a puddle and stepped on an ant while trying to regain his balance. As soon as he realized he had done that he got a sad look on his face and said, "Oh, sorry buggy ant. Sorry buggy ant." He has always been soft and sweet and I hope he always will be.

So many precious memories that make up the two years we've shared with our boy. I've just shared a few, but it seems futile to write more because I really can't seem to find a way to write about just how much this little person has added to our lives since his arrival. He is a special little soul. And he's only two. Lucky us. Happy birthday, little boy.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I just realized that the title of my last post might seem as though I am saying that the pictures I took of Baby G are so lovely that they are "eye candy." Lest you think I am that conceited, let me correct myself. What I was going for was that pictures on blogs are what most people want anyway, so as a reward for reading my ramblings, I would give you some pictures. Make sense? Just didn't want anyone thinking that I was that in love with myself :).

a dilemma and some eye candy as a reward

So my child is a little bit making me crazy. His sleeping schedule has been kind of off ever since he was sick. For the two-and-a-half weeks that he was actually sick, he slept fine. But once he went on the antibiotics things started to go downhill. I guess the medicine leaves a really yucky metallic taste in your mouth. I didn't know this at first, but once I found out I realized that that must be why Baby G seemed so ravenous-- he constantly wanted food in his mouth to try and get rid of the lingering taste of metal. At night when we put him in bed he would cry and beg for pink cookies and popsicles. When that didn't work his wish was for a new glass of water. And then another one. And another one. We catered to these needs because we knew the reason for them. However, since he has been off the medicine (over 2 weeks), the bedtime routine has been the same. It is one thing after another to delay him being left in his room alone. It is making me crazy because he had seriously been the easiest kid to put to sleep before-- he would ask for his bed, even tell us to leave the room and go shower (don't know why he said that), and then quickly and quietly fall asleep. Where did that easy sleeper go, and will he ever come back? Tonight we started bedtime at 8:15, but after the yells of "another water in the PINK cup, Mommy!" and "My feet are hurting, Daddy!" and "I want to hug you, Mommy! Give you doggy kisses, Mommy!" it was at least 9:30 before he was actually asleep. We have been going into his room to remind him it is bedtime every so often (and make sure when he claims his feet are hurting that they aren't stuck between the bars or something), but now I am thinking that is counterproductive. Just please don't tell me I am back to the beginning of letting him cry it out. We are thinking that if we can just get him back on a schedule of getting enough sleep at naps and at night (the last two weeks have been kind of all over the place--summer is tricky), maybe he will fall back into the routine. Any of you have any experience here? The frustrating thing is that we are going out of town for a week on Saturday so it seems like all our scheduling efforts will be in vain anyway. But I really am not loving this yelling from his bedroom for an hour. Any suggestions would be very welcome. :)

I'll leave you with a few photos of this naughty little sleeper. We go running on the Jordan River Parkway by our house every morning and it is lovely. I was admiring the light there one day and decided to come back that night with my camera and see if I could get any good shots. Here are some of the better ones (and NO, I certainly am not aiming to be an actual talented photographer here-- just a mom who likes to take pictures of her child).