Monday, July 25, 2011

Missour Trip - Days 5-8


After Neil & Amy's wedding on Saturday, we stayed over with Neil's sister, my other cousin, Sarah.  They've got a beautiful new house and we basically had an entire floor to ourselves.  We were slackers and were so exhausted from the day/night before that we didn't wake up on time to go to church.  I would have loved to have gone because that's the ward I was in when I was first baptized 8 years ago.  There were many people I would have loved to see.  Alas, I couldn't drag myself up.  And if I had, the boys would have been on their worst behavior considering how tired they were.  That's not the impression I would have wanted to leave my friends with.  So we slowly got showered and dressed and headed back up to my mom's.  It had been a shorter drive to get to Sarah's late at night, and everyone else was at a hotel all night, so it just made sense to stay there with them. 

On our way back up to Mom's, we stopped to take THIS picture:
Isn't that fun?  Being a Ginger who has had Gingerbread items gifted to me for years, I have come to love them!  And wouldn't you just want to travel down this road to see if you'd find a happy little house made of sweets?  Anyway, I'm silly and I liked it, so we stopped to take a picture.

That Sunday night, my mom went out to mow "the back 40" (it's really 7 acres and a lot to mow, even on a riding mower) and the boys ended up riding in the little trailer behind her with blankets.  They enjoyed it so much that, even when Mitt started falling asleep, they didn't want to go back inside!  It was adorable!

That night, as we lay in bed, there was one heck of a storm!  You've all enjoyed a nice lightening storm every now and again, right?  Yeah, well, this was NUTS!  There were some tornado watches and warnings across the northern part of the state where we were, and the lightening was constant.  The wind was blowing at 70+ mph according to the weather reports, which sounded like it may as well have been a tornado trying to blow the house away.  And the lightening, really... it was so constant that the sky stayed lit an interesting blue color more often than it went to the dark black of the night sky.  It went on for hours.  In the morning, we found large branches broken off of trees and blown far away from where they came from.  It looked like the edges of a tornado had ripped through.  It was absolutely crazy.  There were even shingles from the roof blown off the house.
 As we were surveying the damage, Mitchell had come into our room and cuddled into the bed with his borrowed stuffed animal... a bear that he called Monkey.  Isn't he cute?

Monday night was crazy, too!  I had about a 5 hour nosebleed, very similar to the one my mom had a month or so before.  Hers was so bad that they had to cauterize it and pack it tightly for several days to make it stop bleeding.  I had Ben give me a blessing, and it slowed and finally stopped after that.  Guess it's time to start taking my Floradix (iron supplement) again.  I was glad that it hand ended on time for us to leave Tuesday morning!

 After saying goodbye to the kittens and cats....
more goodbye's to Grandma after having a large and delicious breakfast...
 it was time to hit the road with some very sleepy boys.
One more goodbye to Grandma...
 and a big goodbye to the tiny town of Mooresville.  Yes, it really is as small as I've told you it was.
 Old Chicago in Nebraska for lunch...
 and a dead bird on the front of the car later...
and we finally were in Wyoming for the night at a hotel.  We spent a little time eating dinner and talking/playing with Ben's family before quickly getting to sleep.  We had left early, early, early since the last time we made this trip was the day we had the big flat blown out tire.  We wanted to be sure we had plenty of time to get there and play with family.
 The next day, Wednesday, and we were ON THE ROAD AGAIN!  I absolutely LOVE having the DVD players in the car, and especially the headset so that we didn't have to listen to their movies over and over again.  Instead, Ben and I listened to "Ender's Game." 
And because I think it's adorable, here is my van full of sleepers!  All 3 of them!  I adore them so much!
Well Grandma, Ashley, Elizabeth, Aunt Mary, Neil, Amy, Sarah & Family, Philip, Sarah, and little Lilly...  It's been fun!!  Can't wait to see everyone again!  I'm not excited about the drive, but it's not so bad that I wouldn't encourage you guys to drive on out sometime!!  We loved seeing you and the boys begged for you days and days later.  It was a great visit, a great REASON to visit, and made some wonderful memories for us and the kids.  Thanks for making it great!!

Missouri Trip - Day 4

The Jones Wedding!

Saturday was my cousin, Neil's wedding!!  Neil and I have birthdays just 3 days apart.  I've always thought of him as my late first birthday present!  He's always been a wonderful guy, hence why I think of him as a gift!  I'm so happy that he has found such an amazing woman to marry!  I know they're going to make each other very happy!

So, it was a good long drive to get there, but it was worth it!  They asked that you take loud/crying children out to the "cry room" so Ben, Keith, and KIERSTEN stayed in the chapel while I took MITCHELL to the cry room!  Yes, the 5 month old stayed and was wonderful the whole time.  The 2 year old, not so much!  He has no volume control.  He shouted "PRETTY!" throughout most of the service.  And the speakers weren't turned on in the cry room, so I didn't get to hear any of it.  But, the view was lovely!

Afterward, we took some family pictures at the church before heading over for the reception.
This is me with Kiersten, Ashley with Elizabeth, and Philip with Lilly.  3 girls in 4 months!

Next, we headed to the reception.  It was BEAUTIFUL!!  The meal was delicious, the tables were lovely, it was all very wonderful!  Keith stayed surrounded by girls most of the night.  He actually told his Daddy that he wanted to be "old like [Daddy]" so that he would be old enough to mack on girls!  Yes, my 5 year old is in love with women already.  Oh, that's going to be just great as he starts school this year.

Centerpiece, lit from below
The Cake

Groom's Cake - Neil works in... "animal genetics."  He artificially inseminates cows for a living.  Hence, the cow cake!  His job was actually featured on "Dirty Jobs" once.  Growing up with a dairy farmer father probably got him used to the idea, but I'm sure it's paying off now.  Dirty Jobs are generally well paid, right?

Mitchell giving his sister kisses!
My sweet baby girl!

Aunt Sarah dancing with Keith & Mitchell
Keith dancing with Amy's college/sorority friends!  Really, this went on ALL NIGHT LONG!
All in all, it was a very lovely day!  Neil and Amy... congrats again!  We were so glad that we could make the trip to be there for your very special day!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Missouri Trip - Day 3

 ADAM-ONDI-AHMAN is a place of historic significance to those of my religion.  I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS but more commonly known as Mormon.  Ben and I have been to this site before, I usually insist on going when we're in Missouri since it's a mere 45 minutes from my mom's house.    I love being here.  I love the feeling I have.  I love the knowledge I have of it's importance.  I love just everything about it. 
First, we went left to the Valley Overlook.  You can't really tell by the picture below, but it is a big cliff overlooking a valley of corn.  Yep, corn.  The entire state is covered with CORN. 
 Click on the picture below to enlarge it and read what this marker at the Valley Overlook says.
 My mom went with us this trip.  She's never been before.  We pulled in and she thought that it would definitely be full of vehicles with Utah plates.  Boy was she wrong!  Ours was the only one!  There were California plates and I don't remember the others, but from all over the country.  One of the wonderful people stopped there offered to take our picture for us.  I love how friendly LDS people are!  Running across each other in places other than Utah brings out some of the best in us. 
 I rarely have many pictures taken of myself, but this one with me and Kiersten in her sling (as mentioned on Day 2 as we walked to Dairy Queen while our tire was being replaced) was just pretty darn good!  She's such an adorable 5 1/2 month old little sweetheart!
 I knew the kids were pretty young to have an understanding of why we were at this big open place with no toys and no stores.  So I asked Ben to tell them about it in words they could understand.  As they walked off in front of me and my mom, I heard him start out by reminding Keith of Jesus Christ that we read about in our scriptures every night, and whom we pray to so many times each day.  Knowing he was talking of our Savior as he walked holding the hands of each of our boys, it just makes this picture so moving and touching.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love my husband?  He's amazingly spiritual and loves to study the gospel.  He's wonderful at personal scripture study each morning, and we've finally made it a habit to read together as a family at night, too.  He's an amazing father to all 3 of our kids.  I really admire and adore him. 
Next, we went right to Spring Hill (not much to take a picture of) and the Tower Hill Lookout.  The man in the picture was just an elderly man who happened to be looking out as I took the picture, but I think it's amazing anyway.  Again, it was a big cliff with this time a grassy valley below.  This is where “Preacher Rock,” where the Prophet is said to have stood and taught, is located. There is even a marker to show the spot where Lyman Wight’s cabin once stood.
Day 3 was also filled with other activities, like shopping for groceries and I went by where my sister works, which was really awesome!  They take some plain baby and children's clothes and make them unique!  Look through the pictures on the link and you'll see some of their stuff.  I'm amazed at the stuff my sister has learned to do as she's become an adult!  Then, of course, we also spent time with family.  We met my sister's baby girl, Elizabeth (below), who is just 2 months older than Kiersten.  Very sweet to see the girls together!

Missouri Trip - Days 1 and 2

The first day was the short day of driving, only 7 hours.  It was a fairly easy day.  Ben noted soon after we left that we hadn't checked out a spare tire since we bought our van.  The kids did well watching movies and snacking on apples and such the whole time.  We stopped at a McDonald's along the way for lunch and let the boys play.  We got to the hotel (Comfort Inn in Cheyenne, WY) fairly early.  At the hotel, we ate deli sandwiches we brought with us.  Overall, a very good day.

I miscalculated the time change, thinking we were gaining an hour instead of losing an hour.  And it was our long day of 10 hours of driving.  And there were road closings to deal with.  Ugh!  So our late start did NOT help. 

A few hours into it, and about a mile or so from the North Platte, NE exit, we had a tire blow out.  I heard something hit under the van so I checked the mirror to see what it was and saw tire pieces.  Several.  I thought we must have just run over pieces of someone else's tire.  Ben was passing someone and as he was switching lanes, he realized that something was wrong.  He held control very well the whole time as he pulled us over.  The tire was shredding! 

We pulled out the van's manual and found out where the jack was located and where the spare tire was located.  Yay!  We had what we needed!  Or did we?  We got out the jack and it was MISSING A PIECE!  The bar that you stick into it to raise it up was gone!  We searched through our stuff and didn't have anything to use.  So, how did we get it fixed?  We called...

Nebraska State Trooper C. O'Brien to the rescue!!  THANK YOU, MA'AM!  She helped us get back on the road and told us where to find a tire store.  I want to point out real quickly that, although it was just a tire issue, it was kind of scary!  When we moved Ben to Missouri after we got married, we'd had a flat tire around 4am and had to empty out the entire stuffed-full trunk to get to the spare.  That wasn't so scary.  But when it's during the day and you've got a carload of the most precious little people in the world inside while monstrous semi's and other vehicles go whipping by at no less than 75mph, all a mommy can think about it the hopes and prayers that none of them are drowsy enough to allow themselves to swerve off the road and hit my van of children.  Back to my story:  An hour after the tire blow out, we took it to a Goodyear store and then walked to a Dairy Queen (thank goodness for my RING SLING to carry Kiersten in, carrying her in my arms or in the car seat/carrier would NOT have been friendly) and had lunch.  It was just after noon by then anyway, so it was time. 
(of course, Kiersten is looking away in the only picture where all of the boys are looking at me)...  We stopped at Wal-Mart after we picked up our van, just so we could get a screwdriver so we'd have something to use with the jack if we needed to change another tire. 

Once all was said and done, the stop took us 3 hours and we finally left North Platte, Nebraska.  After running late and the tire fiasco, we were running SO late!  I thought we'd have been to our destination by 6pm and that just wasn't the case anymore! 

Our next stop was in Beatrice, Nebraska.  It was a good 7pm or so already, so the small town's KFC was pretty empty.  Empty enough that I let the boys run around instead of demanding that they stay seated at our table.  There was one elderly couple in the store, and they were VERY friendly!  As they snickered a bit about the boys running in circles and then running smack into each other (don't worry, even the boys laughed, no one was hurt), I thanked them for being so kind as to let them run after having been on the road for two days.  They chatted with us a bit about how they had twin boys and a daughter of their own, and how they remembered the days of wild toddlers.  Before we left, even the staff back in the kitchen began to play with the boys.  As they ran into the hall with the door to the kitchen, they'd open the door and say "boo!" and the boys would giggle and change directions.  It was so sweet and wonderful and I'm so thankful for friendly people who allowed my children to be wild after being in the car for so long. 

At long last, after a good 14 hours or so on the road, we arrived at our destination:  Grandma's House!  It was about 11:45pm and the kids were all asleep.  Keith was NOT very happy about being woken up.  But Grandma cuddled him and said hello to Kiersten for the first time in person.  Mitchell was still asleep enough that he went straight to bed, with Keith quickly behind him.

Sleep claimed us quickly but we were excited to get out and about the next day!  It was sure one heck of a trip to get there though!