Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Family Reunion 2010

My family rocks. That's all there is to it. Words cannot express how profoundly thankful I am for the family I come from. They're the best. These people all make appearances on my blog from time to time, but I thought it would be fun to do some formal introductions. Last month we were able to spend a weekend together at a rental cabin in Island Park and we got a lot of great pictures, so this is a good chance to do it.

These are my parents.

My daddy is a nuclear technician at the INL. He is a fishing afficionado and outdoor enthusiast. He is a also a repair guy extraordinaire. He loves walking, bicycling, listening to and playing Mozart (on the piano), the History channel, shooting, and learning about early American explorers. He is singly devoted to his life as a husband, father, and grandfather.

My mom taught elementary school for almost ten years before she got married and started making babies. She is very vivacious and loves music, literature, cooking, and learning about new things. She enjoys watching professional tennis and all BYU sports and does so very passionately-- there is always a lot of whooping and screaming when Mom's sports are on. All I want out of life is to be the sort of mother my mom was for us.

My parents are both active members of the LDS church.

These days, with the kids out of the house, Mom and Dad love to go on trips together, generally exploratory expeditions of the surrounding mountains, rivers, streams, and lakes. During the summer, they'll frequently load up the camper and take off for the weekend. While they travel Mom reads aloud to Dad, they listen to music, they play card games, they fish, and they talk and laugh. After almost 35 years of marriage, they're still best friends.

They are also the best grandparents. Soren spends several hours a day at their house most days of the week and LOVES it there. My sister's kids (more about them later) often spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's.

This is my sister, Collette, her husband, Marty, and their four kids (l-r: Calysta, 11; Arielle, 14; Tessa, 8; and Marty, 10). Best. Family. Ever. I practically fall over dead from the cuteness of this family every time I go to their house. Collette and Marty are freakishly good parents and have done a really great job of fostering their childrens' natural curiosity and creativity. It seems like the kids are forever learning about new things, coming up with games, reading books, and making fantastic artistic creations. Also, they all love each other, play with each other a lot, and genuinely enjoy each others' company. During a recent visit, Tessa was sneaking up behind people and sticking "Hug Me" and "Kiss Me" signs on their backs.
That's the Smiths.
It should be sickening, but somehow it's not.

Seth is my oldest brother and Karen is his wife. They were made for each other. I'm not going to lie....I'm not entirely clear on what they do professionally. Seth does stuff with technical things in a supervisory fashion. He's currently working on a Master's degree in school counseling. Karen also does technical work with things. Outside of work, they spend a lot of time fly fishing. Karen is also an amazing cook. They love each other lots. I would go on, but I think you should just read Karen's blog. It rocks my world.

This is my brother Scott, his lovely wife, Amanda, and their adorable baby, Charlotte.
Scott is a cool techno guy at Exxon in Houston, Texas, and Amanda stays home to nurture Charlotte and their myriad pets. They are cat people. They also love each other lots. Also, Charlotte is really really ridiculously cute and smiley and adorable.
I also wish they didn't live so far away, the jerks.

And this is me! The baby of the family! And my family! Ya'll are probably fairly familiar with us, so I won't go on much.

Everybody now!

And now for some pictures from the trip. There was an excursion to Mesa Falls and another to Yellowstone National Park.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Success!

After two years in a row of Halloweens gone awry, we finally had a Halloween go right.

I really, really wanted to make this Halloween work, so I started worrying about it weeks in advance. The worrying didn't churn out too much in terms of productivity, but it did motivate me to drag the husband and children out into the local U-Pick Pumpkin Patch. This visit was mildly pleasant, though Soren was afraid of both the straw bale maze and the mini train rides and wanted to be carried the whole time. I decided to go ahead and count that as a success.

For Family Home Evening the following Monday, we decorated the pumpkins, lazy people style. Soren LOVED this.

So things were off to a good start.

Then, today, Saturday the 30th, we were invited to my sister's house for some good old-fashioned pumpkin launching.

This is the kick-butt trebuchet that my niece and her dad made last year for a school project. They're donating it to the North Bingham County park, so this was its last hurrah on the home front.

The masses turned out to watch. (l-r, My niece Tessa's friend Brylie, niece Tessa, my mom holding Liam. Behind them is my newphew Marty; the half person in the front is their "other grandpa")

(l-r, my niece Arielle dressed as a fortune teller, niece Calysta dressed as a photographer, Arielle's friend Alexis wearing 19th century lady's garb, and their cousin Steven wearing camo, as per the usual Southeast Idaho custom.)

Me holding Liam, who is throwing a fit. Mom holding Soren, who was being really sensitive. Hey, what's a holiday without some emotional angst?

After the pumpkin launching, Collette fed everyone homemade doughnuts, cider, and caramel apples. Mmmmmm. Then Abe and I snuck away to take a quick walk through the crisp fall afternoon.

When we returned, it was time to get ready for the ward Halloween party!

The ward party was nice, the food was tasty, and the boys rounded themselves up a lot of candy loot in a short amount of time. Abe and I even won the adult portion of the costume contest with our awesome impromptu costumes.

So there were no major catastrophes, everyone had a moderate amount of fun, and we WON. Halloween can't get much better than this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New England Conclusion

So that's the end of my New England series. I could go on and on, I love it so, but I've got a pending rant that I'd like to complete and post soon, so I'm going to move forward.

New England Friends

Whenever we travel to New England, we always spend some time visiting with Abe's second family, the Irwins.

This is their beautiful house.

And these are their beautiful faces:


and Susie

(Please note that these are file photos...Gilly, the baby pictured with Brother Irwin, is now in five years old. Soren, the fetus I've got a protective arm slung over, is now three and a half.)

Abe hung out a lot with their son, Jared, all through his growing up years. He also worked for Roger on his dairy farm. I'm very very grateful for the love that Susie and Roger have for Abe and for all the patience, time, and farm equipment they put into helping him grow and mature. It is always wonderful to visit their cozy home and catch up with them. This last visit I had the opportunity to visit with their daughter, Lynn (pictured above in another file photo from 2006), who is now one of my favorite human beings of all time. She's converted half of the Irwin's old farmhouse into the most charming (and organized) dwelling of all time, and she, her husband, and their three adorable children are currently living there. Lynn and I commiserated over the raising of spirited children (her oldest, my oldest) and she gave me some children's books, so I'm pretty much bound to her forever by the sacred links of motherly suffering and Ahlberg illustrations.

We also got to visit with Mark and Rachel Mailhot. Mark is another one of Abe's adolescent compatriots and another honorary family member. While Mark can be somewhat questionable at times, all is forgiven because he is married to Rachel, who is every bit as lovely as her name. During this last visit, we got to meet their new baby, Liahona, who was just a few weeks old. She was a super duper sweetie pooh.
(This picture does not include Lia, as it is is another really really ridiculously old photo. 2005, I think.)

This is a picture of me driving Brother Irwin's tractor in 2006. This was the first time I'd ever driven a tractor. It was the time of my life.

Irwin horses. (Er, I mean 'hauses.')

Irwin Chipmunk

A little photographic excursion in 2006. (Brother Irwin is a photographer.)

On this last trip, Soren and Liam made a new friend. Eternity is a little girl that my mother-in-law watches a couple days a week. She was SO CUTE and Soren played with her much more nicely than I've ever seen him play with anyone. It must not have been too nicely though: after we left, Eternity asked Abe's mom, "Where did that naughty boy go?"

Eternity loved taking care of the baby, and Liam loved having a 3-year-old to play with who didn't periodically conk him over the head or try to gouge out his eyes.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

New England Nana

This is Abe's mother's mother. She is lovely.

Nana lives in a beautiful little home on a hill about fifteen minutes from Abe's parents. When they were growing up, Nana would have Abraham and his (ten) siblings take turns coming to spend the night. She always fed them white bread and cookies and let them watch television.

As we were looking at these pictures (of Nana with Soren and Liam and a little girl named Eternity, whom my mother-in-law watches three days a week--for free, because she is also lovely), Abe remarked, "Oh, I love Nana. She's everything a Nana is supposed to be!"

"She's comfortable,

and wise,

and funny,

and nice."

Now that most of her grandkids are scattered hither and yon, Nana still makes sure to spoil them. She remembers everyone's birthdays (including in-laws and great-grandkids) and always sends a card (and birthday money). She'll also send cards for Christmas and other special occasions. And she usually closes her cards like this:


Nana in the little house on the big hill in the woods."

Saturday, October 02, 2010

New England Mom and Dad

I love these two.

(And yes, my poor private mama-in-law is WRITHING in HORROR because I put a picture of her on the internets. But I couldn't do a series about New Hampshire without her! My papa-in-law, by contrast, is probably saying something like, "Hey! Look! We're famous!")

New England Scenery

New England is gorgeous. Again, it's so hard to capture everything that makes it beautiful. I love the way it smells, for one: loamy and green. And the towns have lots of character, with narrow streets and cheerily decorative store fronts. The neighborhoods are made up of little two-and-three story Victorian houses. Trees grow like weeds everywhere, and where they've been cut back you can see rolling hills, fields, barns, and old farmhouses. The lovely Connecticut river runs along the New Hampshire/Vermont border and there are ponds everywhere. Whenever we visit, I start fantasizing about buying a farm, raising goats and sheep and chicken, making cheese, churning butter, knitting socks, and quilting.

These are some pictures taken on and around Abe's family's property when we were visiting in 2006. (We were super slackers and took approximately three pictures this last visit.)

Driveway and chicken coop. Sadly, the chickens no longer reside there.

That little building is the "garbage house." Cutest dang place I've ever seen for storing trash.

The house.

The "four-wheeler trail."

A little meadow off the four-wheeler trail.

The view from the meadow.

Friday, October 01, 2010

New England Accent

Heartbreakingly, my husband and his family do not have a New England accent. However, many people from the area still do. And let me tell you: it's adorable. ADORABLE. I love to go out and about just to hear the people talking. Abe and I will leave a store and I'll immediately start trying to imitate the way the clerk said things. On the way back to our car I'll be trotting along, mumbling under my breath, trying to say something the way the clerk said it. "Weahout," I'll say. "Weeaahhhout." "Weeout." "WeAHout."

And Abe will be all, "Woman? What in the world are you doing?"

So I'll explain, "I'm trying to say 'we're out' the way that lady said it. Did you notice how she said it? It was SO. CUTE. Weeout. We-aw-out. Weahout."

And he'll say, "Did she have an accent?"

And I'll say, "Weeeout. Weahout. Weaout."

I was curious about the linguistic properties of the New England accent, so when we got home I looked it up. There's a descriptive essay here that you could refer to if you were REALLY curious, but the essay basically says that the Northern New England accent comes down to a unusual usage relationship with the letter "r." The "r" is usually omitted: instead of "car," New Englanders say "cah." Instead of "horses," they say "hahses." Instead of "here," they say "heeyah." But sometimes the "r" is added to the ends of words that it has no businesses ending: "I live in Americer," they'll say, or "that was a fine symphony orchestrer." There is also a tendency to cut the "ng" sound down to a plain 'n." So a New Englander might say, "I'm goin' to pahk the cah over thayer so we can go an' ride those hahses."

This accent took me almost completely by surprise the first time we visited New Hampshire together. I'd heard about those "Hahvard" chaps who said things like, "Weah at Hahvard," but I'd never considered that people might talk like that in the whole of the New England area. So when I met Abe's Nana, who speaks like a New Englander, I was immediately and completely charmed by what struck me as her half-British/half-Southern use of the English language. I thought maybe that was just how Nana talked, but we went out and all kinds of people were playing around with their "r"s. Abraham had never mentioned such a thing to me...and that's because he honestly doesn't notice it. In fact, I'll bet he's reading this now and saying, "Nana has an accent? Nana does not have an accent." But she does, Babe. She does.

New Hampshire 2010: Introduction

We recently spent some time visiting Abe's family in New Hampshire. People keep asking me how the trip was and all I can really say is, "It was lovely! So lovely!"

And I want to say more. But I don't know what to say. It's hard for me to find the words to describe how much I love visiting beautiful New England and the delightful conglomeration of family and friends who live there.

That's why I've put off blogging about it, I suppose. Because I can't really find words and pictures to encapsulate the experience. But I want to try to describe it all. So I'm going to do a series of vignettes describing bits and pieces here and there.


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