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

Monday, December 22, 2014


Look at this woman.

Isn't she gorgeous?

But she is more than just a pretty face.

She is a mom to four incredibly awesome kids.

She is a faithful wife (and has been for almost 20 years!).

She is a rock climber.

She is a musician.

She is a student.

She is a teacher.

She is a bicyclist.

She is an artist.

She is a reader.

She is an explorer.

She is a writer.

She is a muscle machine.

She is the kindest auntie in the world.

She is an amazing cook.

She is a skilled bargain shopper.

She is a yogini.

She is a home decorator.

She is ridiculously organized.

And . . . because I got incredibly lucky . . .

She is my sister.

Collette is seven years older than me,  so she was always my idol. And she, who had waited seven long years for a little sister, took her role as big sister very seriously.

She taught me how to read. She taught me the proper way to hold a newborn kitten. She taught me how to play the piano. She taught me to love rainstorms. She taught me how to draw floor plans for houses. She taught me how to wear makeup. She taught me how to make a man sit on the pot without bending the paper. (<---inside joke.="" p="">
When she was in college, she wrote letters to me about her roommate and her professors and about the spider that lived in her dorm room. When I was in college, she wrote about her kids' antics and clipped the police log out of the Shelley Pioneer, highlighting her favorite entries and adding humorous commentary.

Once for my birthday, she surprised me with a picnic by the river.

We have taken many a long, giggle-filled walk together, swapping stories and worries.

Yes, there was that time that she paid me 5 cents to remain completely silent during the drive from Pocatello to Idaho Falls.  There was that time that she permanently kicked me out of our shared bedroom. There was the time when I completely freaked out because she had accidentally thrown away my half-eaten dinner. There was that time that I said something jerky and insensitive and totally hurt her feelings (well, actually, that was lots of times.)

But for the most part, sisterhood has been good to us.

When Liam had his tonsils removed in May, I found myself sitting alone in the hospital waiting room. My baby had just been wheeled into an operating room filled with strangers. I had just received a text informing me that Soren had thrown up on the way to school. My parents were out of town. I was sitting there, trying to hold myself together, when my phone rang. It was my sister. I heard her voice and I was a goner. Tears streamed down my face. Between stifled sobs, I told her how worried I was about Liam and how sad I was that I couldn't be there to take care of Soren.

She knew just what to do. She validated my worries about Liam. She picked up some popsicles and Pedialyte and took Soren to her house, so he would get the kind of attention only a mom can give to a sick kid. She brought dinner to our house that night.

I felt loved and safe and cared for.

My sister is my angel, and I am so grateful to have her be a part of my world.

I love you, Clee!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

New Hampshire Visit: 2014

Our trip to New Hampshire this year was the best. It was so nice to spend time with my in-laws (weird thing to say, I know, but true). Abe's brother Tanner, his wife, Holly, and their three boys were visiting as well, so between their family and the New Hampshire cousins, there were lots of kids to play with. I hardly saw my boys (save for the occasional story time). 

The weather was perfect. I loved hanging out my clothes to dry in the sunshine while songbirds made a joyful noise. We had lots of time to play outside in the lush, green grass and woods. 

And we got to see many people that we love--Abe's parents, of course, and his Nana, and his "other" family, the Irwins (we met his friend Jared's adorable baby boy), Six of the eleven kids in the family were there at some point. 

Also! We went to Santa's Village, the Christmas-themed amusement park where many of Abe's younger siblings worked as teenagers. It was truly a delight. 

I can't capture the joy of this trip in a blog post, but I'll try to compensate with a few pictures, 99% of which were taken by Abe's sister, Lara. (Thanks, Lara!) 

In which we visit people: 

The boys with Nana, Abe's grandmother.

Playing at Nana's house.

We had dinner at Quentin's house.
Here are Soren, Auntie Tailour, and Oliver.

We ate dinner with Lara and Nathan, et al. Here are Nate and Abe being all playful.

After dinner, we went for a stroll.
L-R: Maya, Abe, Nate, Lara, me, Soren, Liam

Abe and Soren enjoying the lovely New Hampshire evening.  

Me and Abe enjoying the beautiful New Hampshire evening.

                                                                We must have found something awesome.

    I couldn't resist the sweet tree house.

Yep. This pretty much sums up these two. 

(Though this was how they interacted 6 years ago.)

In which we spend the day at Santa's Village:

Liam sleeping en route.

Soren emerging from the spinning drums of the little drummer boy.

Waiting for the bumper cars (both above and below).

 Soren contemplating the magic of the wishing well. 

Me and Soren water racing. After a traumatic experience on a ride called the Flume (it's Splash Mountain-esque, Liam didn't want anything to do with water rides). 

        Ferris wheel! Liam yelled at me every time the car rocked. "Stop it, Mommy!"

There was an awesome water park portion inside Santa's Village.

                    This ride made my tummy sad.

Lara's remark here was that she thought the reindeer was a bit "dainty" for Abraham.

Chase and Maya on some Christmasosaurs. 

The Chimney Drop made me and Soren laugh hysterically. Chase and Lara liked it, too.
(P.S. My calves do not usually look that massive.)

In which we frolic in the water at Beaver Brook Falls:

L-R: Tailour, Maya, Soren, Me, Liam, Chase, Holly.

Building a dam. 
Sistas-in-law: Tailour, Holly, and me (above) or Lara (below)

Yes, Lara's hair is blue! Isn't it fabulous?

I love these ladies. 

In which the children do a lot of playing:


A very serious game of chess. L-R: Samuel, Chase, Liam, and Auntie Ivy

Uncle Caleb was a favorite playmate when he could be found. He and the kids created a "Hideout" in the woods. They all wrote their names on the sign. 

They were all VERY excited about having their "own" fire in the hideout.

In which Abe's and Caleb's birthdays (36 and 26, respectively) are celebrated

Abe sitting with his mama. 

Sharing a joke.

Birthday dinner! There was so much delicious pie.

In which various people demonstrate their affection for one another:

  Quentin resisting Abe's brotherly affections.

B and Gramps being adorable. 

Caleb, Gramps, and Abe.

The boys giving each other piggy back rides. (Quentin is hoisting Caleb while Abe looks puzzled.)

Maya is actually five months younger than Soren, but she can heft him easily!

L-R: Chase, Ethan, Soren, and Maya

Tailour and Quentin. 

Lara and Nathan.

Caleb with the kiddos. L-R: Chase, Soren, Liam (concerned about the crying baby), Oliver (also alarmed by the crying), Isaac (crying), Samuel, Maya, and Ethan

Caleb playing well his role as Pied Piper. 

Liam looking hale and hearty. 


Six of eleven. L-R: Caleb, Lara, Abe, Quentin, Tanner, Ivy 

Reading to some kiddos. The listening crowd grew from here. In the end, even Gramps joined storytime. No idea why I felt compelled to poke my leg out like that. 

Breakfast club! It was so fun to get out and have some "girl time" with these ladies.

Liam shows his love for his Uncle Nate by pretending to shoot him.

 This is called "mad scientist hair."

The apple and the tree.


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