Wednesday, August 26, 2009


If I could plan a perfect day, it would look very much like today. It was hot and sunny. The kids were finally free to use their bikes after a week-long grounding (earned by taking a bike ride when it was time to go to the eye doctor). They rose early, dressed, and went off to have one last great day with friends. Meanwhile, a soon-to-be new friend of mine arrived. I had agreed to teach her to can peaches and while doing that task, we learned that we both love books, we both try to cook as naturally as we can, we enjoy wild game, raw milk, fresh fruit. We are both annoyed by "kids these days" or rather by kids not raised to respect their elders. After the peaches were canned and the kids came home for lunch, we took a spontaneous trip to Bogert Pool. We had attempted this trip last Friday but lightning spoiled the fun (I wasn't too excited by the outing that night anyway.) We used our rain checks and had a great time. The BEST part was Bubba learning to swim! He just refused to wear the life jacket and insisted on staying in the shallow pool with mommy. After several slides down the duckie slide, we began practicing the kicking and doggy paddling back and forth across the pool and back to duckie (with mom holding under the armpits). After doing this routine many times, I watched him go down the slide and then just STAY under. I looked closely, not feeling alarmed, and saw that he was paddling arms and legs ferociously. He wasn't making much progress but his effort was grand. After much praise and adoration, we practiced and practiced some more until he was ready to call the "big kids from the big pool." They also praised with all the love and pride in their big kid hearts and jumped in and played with him for over an hour. I love to see my kids loving one another. We returned home to a quick dinner and back-to-school night for BigStack. He has a big locker all to himself, a kind teacher, and an excitement for school that I have never seen before. We left feeling very encouraged. LadyBug's back-to-school night, which we attended yesterday was equally exciting. We decided that a trip to Dairy Queen was in order and we allowed the kids to get more than just a cone.... a whole big sundae. Then off to the store for lunch-box goodies and home for a father's blessing. Once the kids were in bed, I prepared lunches and made zucchini bread to have for breakfast. I am glad I have this blog. I have decided on a few back-to-school traditions:

1. Swimming on the last day of summer vacation, weather permitting.
2. Dairy Queen for real sundaes the night before school.
3. Home canned peaches and zucchini bread for breakfast on the first day.

I regret that I still have no camera to capture this.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dangit, this blog is about to get boring....

So, on Saturday, Shakey was off on a business trip, so I took my kids to the Museum of the Rockies. I went off with camera in hand and took several fantastic pictures of the kids looking for treasure with metal detectors, lounging by antique vehicles, and being "eaten" by the larges T-rex head in the world. Well, that T-rex shot was the last to be taken by my trusty Kodak. No idea where I sat it down or if it fell out of my purse during the awesome planetarian show, but after doing the whole museum a second time, and checking the front desk over and over, no camera. I was unable to take a picture of the kids panning for garnet stones, dressing in antique clothing, contemplating the use of a cold chamber pot, smelling heirloom flowers, standing in a giant teepee, playing hoop games in the farmhouse yard, nada. I am crushed. Maybe Santa will bring me one for Christmas.....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two new adventures

Ever since we moved to Montana, and LadyBug started seeing horses from the freeway, she was in heaven. This is certainly horse country and she thinks she needs one. Well, since our yard is currently the size of a postage stamp,we told her she'd have to be happy with other people's horses for a while. Shakey's boss has 5 horses and a 13 year old who knows how to care for them so last Friday we all went over to ride horses and watch the fights. LadyBug and Bubba both got to ride and thoroughly enjoyed it. Bubba says he doesn't like horses. He just likes to ride on them. LadyBug shocked us all when riding WITH Stoney. We were getting instructions on how to turn the horse this way and that, and how to stop the horse when LadyBug says, "I think I know how to get him to go fast" and soundly smacked her heels into poor Mo's sides. Sure enough, that IS the way to get him to go fast. Did Stoney remember how to STOP the horse, yes, she did. After a few panicked seconds, a good yank on the reigns and a stern "WHOA" stopped old Mo. Whew. LadyBug will be receiving lessons on grooming, feeding, saddling, and riding Mo through the fall. Best thing that ever happened to her.

The next day, we went off-roading! About a week after arriving here, Stoney and the kids attempted a trip to Fairy Lake. We soon learned that, even in June, there is enough snow in the mountains to make this trip impossible. So, we tackled it again, with Shakey at the wheel, thank goodness. 7 miles of muddy two-track later, we found her. Honestly, it is the most beautiful, pristine little lake you could wish for. The water was clear and turquiose and snow was STILL visible, in early August! We wished we had brought warmer clothes and matches to build a fire. We'd have stayed much longer than we did. Manageable wooden stairs lead down to the lake and a fairly easy hike takes you all the way around. It was the plan for ALL of us to eat our lunch (a philly steak sub prepared at home, which was still warm when we stopped) and then hike around. Bubba (our hiking leader) had made it about 1/3 of the way around when he found the ONLY puddle within 2 miles and fell face first into it. It was too cold for him to continue so Shakey took him back to the car to strip down and put on Shakey's XL sweatshirt. Stoney, BigStack, LadyBug, and LucyDog continued. We all managed quite nicely except for LucyDog who we feared wouldn't make it back up the wooden stairs. Other hikers actually laughed at the "menacing" Rottweiler panting and gasping all the way.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My beautiful sister's beautiful family

My brother-in law (let's call him Jerry Jeff for the sake of the blog), several of his siblings, and my niece (pictured in green) have a genetic condition, called Polycystic Kidney Disease. Jerry Jeff recieved a transplant several years ago. When his sister needed a kidney, my sister (Mowsh) volunteered but was not a match, so she decided to pay it forward. She offered her kidney to anyone who needed it. In two weeks she will be going to Birmingham, Alabama to donate her kidney to a 71 year old woman. She figured, "I'd give it to my mom, why not someone else's mom?" Incidentally, Jerry Jeff's sister has already recieved her kidney. I love this story and I love my big sister.

LadyBug's sleep problems........

So.... a few weeks ago, LadyBug came to Shakey at about 11:00 PM telling him that she "couldn't take it any more." Our home is right by the freeway. Although the rest of us got used to the road noise pretty quickly, LadyBug, our light sleeper did not. The next day, Shakey swapped the office for LadyBug's room, so she could be on the backside of the house. Problem solved.....until it got hot, and we let them all go to bed in our room for one night (we moved them once it cooled down). So, now any slightly warm-ish evening has requests to sleep in our room because it is "too hot." Sigh. Alas, last night LadyBug touched the heart of her father with her plea that "I just can't get comfortable." So, he let her sleep in our bed, to be more comfortable. Here, is "comfortable" LadyBug in our bed.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lewis and Clark Caverns

Bigstack got to be a part of the tour. The tour guide let him hold a flashlight and explain things as people walked past.

and so did LadyBug

It is so hard to capture the grandeur of this place. It is truly miraculous that it even exists.

It took us 30 minutes to hike to the caves. We spent 1.5 hours inside, deep underground. We had to slide through narrow passageways on our bums and climb stairs chiseled out of rock.

For waking up on a Saturday morning with nothing to do, we were so blessed to take part in this natural wonder, just one hour from our home

We even got Montana license plates. Do you believe it??

It isn't THAT surprising that my car ended up with Montana plates. After all, my car has always complied with the law. I have had Michigan plates, Idaho plates, California plates, and now Montana Plates

Shakey, on the other hand, has had the same Idaho plates on this Tiburon since it was purchased in 2004. Since then, we have lived in Michigan and California. Apparently neither of those places felt "right." I am HAPPY that he is content with Montana. Geesh.

LadyBug's 7th Birthday party

When the guests arrived, Shakey led the kids in a rousing game of Digital Candyland. We decided that the kids are now too old for this game and it isn't as fun as it once was.

After the game, we ate LadyBug's favorites: homemade macaroni and cheese (but she has decided that next year she wants me to buy it from the Walmart Deli, 'cause it's better), fresh strawberries, and brocolli and carrots with ranch. The blue punch is strictly theme-oriented.

Pin the fin on the dolphin was great. As usual, the birthday girl cheated, and we let her.

Then we walked to our neighborhood park. This is the scene we witness as we walk there, almost daily.

The pinata experience, though fun for the children, was heartbreaking for Stoney, since she MADE that gorgeous dolphin over the course of several days.

This cake was also hard to cut, though Stoney learned a new technique and it wasn't as hard as it might look.

This sweet angel-faced girl was more than worth the effort! Happy Birthday LadyBug.

4th of July in Idaho Falls

Our kids plus Kayla and Gracie

BigStack playing cards with Vanessa

All the Curtis kids plus our kiddoes

Bubba with John's new bird dog, Sadie.

Now that we live so close to John and Colleen (just 3.5 hours) we plan to see much more of them. It sure was fun to join them on the 4th. Traditionally, the Curtis family gets together on the 3rd to play a game of Cops and Robbers. WE were happy to have the opportunity to join them. After dark, parents and kids alike strike out to try to make it from the Curtis home to a location in town. The dark-clothed runners are the robbers. The object of the game is to avoid the cops, or a van with an adult in it, out to find the robbers. We teamed up and ran. Colleen, Layne, and I got caught several times but kept on going 'cause it was fun! The next day, we went to the street fair and pitched tents to wait for the fireworks. It was a beautiful day, despite a short rain shower. The fireworks were better than any I recall seeing since I was 16 and in Washington DC!!

Palisades Falls

Jack and Connie (Shakey's parents) came to visit and we wanted to show off our area. We went to Palisades Falls, which was magnificent. The drive there was beyond our expectations and then the falls were amazing. We were even more convinced that moving here was a good choice. It was rainy to begin with and then misty at the falls so these pictures aren't great.

We moved into the perfect house for us

So, after 3 days of searching, no no avail, we had settled on a too-small condo and a storage unit. We had paid a small holding fee and began making move-in plans when we got a call from a property manager whom we had met in Wendy's, of all places. She had overheard us talking and told us to call her. We did, but she didn't have anything we were interested in. We were thrilled that she found us a HOUSE with a YARD. And it isn't just A house, it is a floorplan made for us. If we build in two years, as we hope, we will build this house all over again.


After 2 months. We have had lots of experience with turning around a sad looking yard.

This is the living room that you walk into from the front door. It is small but it works just right for us. The closet you see there is deep and under the stairs. When we build, we will eliminate this closet and make stairs to a basement.

This is a different angle of the living room.

First floor master bedroom. It is right next to the living room.

Another angle of the master bedroom. Can you see how that closet is just as deep as that bathroom. I guess I need to do some shopping because we can only fill about 1/4 of it.

This is the hallway that leads to the stairs, then the kitchen/dining, laundry, and garage. The first door is a nice big coat closet for Montana winter clothing. The second door is a tiny 1/2 bath.

Kitchen. Laundry room is through the door you see there. Door to the garage is in there.

Dining and the door to our tiny backyard.

And the view from our front door. See the yellow truck? Yeah, that's the FREEWAY. We do not sit on our front porch (cute as it is) and chit chat. We'd have to yell. This is why we need to build the house in a different location.

We moved to Montana

We got the video players running while we loaded up the last of the stuff. It was 105 degrees at 10:00 am when we left on June 3, 2009. We were happy to say goodbye to California summers.

This is at a rest area someplace. We took some time to just get out and rest. This drive was long for everyone.

BigStack rode with Shakey in the Uhaul. Bubba and LadyBug rode with Stoney in the 4Runner. That 4Runner did not enjoy going over the mountains pulling that car. Whew!

Finally in Bozeman, LadyBug and Bubba slept hard. Aren't they cute??

LadyBug plays Little Red Riding Hood

LadyBug was honored to play Little Red in her class play. My dad always told me that I was the most talented child on the stage. He meant it. I now know how it feels to be on that end of the story. She was a delight to watch. I think she may have found her niche and her momma couldn't be more proud.

Pictures to come....

BigStack's 1/2 Birthday Party

In November, things were hectic and we didn't manage to pull off a birthday for BigStack. We told him that the weather in May would be perfect for a birthday party and we'd do a 1/2 birthday for him. Such a good idea, huh? Well, it was, at the time. Had we known we were moving to Montana and would be deep in the throes of packing and arranging the move, we would have certainly opted for the last-minute November party. As it turned out, things were fine. BigStack invited some buddies from school to go to Chuck E Cheese's. It was a boy's only event, so Jake took them. They were given cups of tokens and allowed to run wild and have pizza. Stoney, LadyBug, and Bubba stayed home and made a chocolate Butterfinger cake with Butterfinger ice cream. After Chuck E Cheese, all the boys returned to our home for cake, ice cream, presents, and some fun in the yard and on the Wii.

Pictures to come....

Cub Scout buddies

From May of 2007 to May of 2009, Stoney was the Wolf Cub leader in Paradise, CA. I was lucky enough to have BigStack as my Wolf Cub from November '07 to November '08. Gabe is now a Bear cub. Here are some pictures of the people we worked and played with. Pictured here are other fearless leaders we want to remember. Too bad there isn't a picture of me in my uniform. That color does wonders for me!

More Ponderosa Pictures: LadyBug's friends