The Family Reunion

We had an awesome family reunion this last summer. It took place in Iowa at the end of July. Smack dab in the middle of the heat and humidity. But I loved it! I even loved our drive to Iowa. I miss the Midwest and the gorgeous scenery. I used to think Nebraska was flat and treeless. Then I moved to Utah. Talk about flat! And treeless! Utah has mountains but other than that it's pretty flat. And the trees aren't much taller than a single story home, unless they're cottonwoods along a river.

Once we finished out marathon drive and got to our hotel the boys helped bring up our luggage. When Olaf found this and took it to our car the boys got all kinds of excited! I think Baby even said, "I didn't know these were real! I thought they were only on Suite Life of Zac and Cody!" Apparently we don't take out kids to hotels enough.

The next day we started by having lunch at an old favorite from when I was a kid. Although it was just usually Mom and Dad that went, us kids were left home with a sitter. This place was huge! And they were set up for kids.

While I perused the menu I was shocked at the prices. Probably 90% of the food was under $10! But Middle Child kept choosing items from the 10% expensive menu. He wanted ribs and I wasn't paying that price. Finally we met in the middle with this meal that came with a few ribs, quarter of a chicken and two sides. I even got everyone drinks. We all ate good meals, had an appetizer, and a dessert and after tip only spent $50!

Here's the whole family! All 29 & 1/2 of us! One of my sisters is pregnant.

That evening we had a birthday party for my Mom at Brother Accountant's house. Him and his wonderful wife were hosting this little shin dig. They were so gracious to let some people stay with him and host several dinners and activities at his house. Thankfully he has a large home and there was plenty of room.

Brother Accountant also found these cool glasses depicting the different states. He got my Mom a glass from each state she had ever lived in!

I love how the grandkids are gathered around my Mom to see what's going to be opened next!

The next day Olaf and I took Baby and his Cousin D on a tour of the State Capitol. It's a fantastic building with the largest gold dome. It's beautiful. But the best part? The cannons out front!

The boys thought the steps were pretty impressive. You have to go up all these steps just to get to the second floor.

And to get to the third floor you can ride the elevator or take this iron spiralesque staircase. Baby didn't really like these stairs but we made him walk down them. He was nervous the whole time!

Here are the boys walking along a hall enjoying the grand murals.

The next day we visited John Wayne's birthplace. Olaf and Baby love John Wayne and when I discovered it was so close to Des Moines, it was a must see on our trip.

John Wayne happened to be born in Winterset, Iowa, smack dab in the middle of Madison County. Yes, that same Madison County where the torrid illicit affair happened in the book The Bridges of Madison County. So we decided to visit several of the bridges. There are six but we figured the three closest were good enough for us. Remember, it's hot and humid. And all the bridges kind of look the same.

This bridge had been moved to a park in town, easy to find. It was really pretty and the kids ran through it from one end to the other. Yes, they were little sweatballs by the time they were done.

Here is me, my Mom, Sister Accountant, and Sister-in-Law Farmer posing carefully. None of us wanted to get too close to each other and actually touch cuz we were all sticky!

The next bridge we went to had been burned down by arson several years earlier. But it had been rebuilt and we could drive right on through!

This is what the inside of it looks like when driving through and looking out your bug infested windshield.

This is that same one and it was quite pretty. Middle Child was with us on this whole trip but chose to be a teenager at times and sit in the car and miss valuable photo ops. He thought sitting in the car in the heat was better than standing outside in the heat. Not sure which is worse.

The last one we visited was in it's original spot! Right over a river! At first the kids didn't understand why there were bridges over nothing. But know they know their real purpose, getting over water safely.

On our long trek home we stopped at The Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles. It was a huge museum full of all kinds of vehicles. The kids even got to climb around in a few of them. We got our fill and stayed a while. Got us out of the car for a bit and that was nice.

We had a great family reunion. It was so good to see everyone. We were only missing my Baby Sister and her Hubby, he was away on training. I had looked forward to this reunion all summer and it didn't disappoint. I only wish it could have lasted longer. I was really sad to see about half the family leave Sunday to head back home to jobs and school. But we will do this again in two years and I think people are voting for Denver!

I am missing pictures of our little trip to Pella where we got Dutch Pastries. The best! And then the evening on the Farm. SiL Farmer's family was so gracious to host all 29 of us out at their farm. There was so much fun to be had! But you can catch all of that at SiL Farmer's blog!


What Everyone Else Didn't Learn in Kindergarten

There has been major construction on the local Highway here. It's barely half over. And it's a major inconvenience because to go anywhere out of town (which is most of the time) I have to get on the Highway. And people have forgotten how to be civil, or they never learned how. Here's the list of things the people I share the road with every day didn't learn in Kindergarten, or maybe they missed Driver's Ed.

  • Share
  • Wait in line with everyone else
  • Play fair
  • Don't cut people off so you can get ahead of everyone else
  • Wave Thank You when someone lets you in when you felt the need to race up to the front of the line in front of everyone else
  • Don't text on your damn cell phone
  • Pay attention
  • The Fast Lane is the Fast Lane, don't sit in it driving the speed limit
Someone help me cuz we've got almost a year and a half of this construction left and driving in it is driving me crazy!


Where I Sew

There's this blog I follow. Every week they spotlight someone's Sewing Space. They are all pretty fancy stuff. Some of them look like a designer came in and decorated. I thought I would join the trend and show you where I sew.

I get to sew under this gorgeous tree. When we first bought this house a long long time ago Olaf's aunt and cousin came and painted this tree just for Calvin. He asked for a Hole in the Trunk and a Squirrel on a Branch. And over time we added Glow-in-the-Dark stars and moons on the ceiling. I made these simple curtains for him, they are muslin edged in leaf-decorated fabric. Calvin moved out of this room four or five years later but we kept this awesome tree. And when I look at it, it reminds me of my sweet little boy Calvin, not the older Calvin.

And then Olaf shot an antelope and hung it on this wall, long before I started sewing for real and needed a Space to sew in. When he hung it up Boomer the Basset Hound didn't like it. He would wander down the hall and peek in the room. He'd look up and see the antelope head and start barking. It was the funniest thing ever! He made us all laugh so hard with his barking at the dead antelope head, as if he was afraid it was going to take his place.

When I started writing this I meant to make fun of the fancy rooms that all these other sewers have and show them that sewing could be done in any kind of room, no need for fancy wall decorations that need dusting, pretty table covers, and other totally impractical things that would only get in the way of sewing. And instead I found out why my sewing room is so special to me.


Adventures in Shopping with Teenage Boys Part 2

The other day I was happily wandering around Target all by myself. There is a Heaven on Earth. I was looking at socks. I was deep in a debate inside my head about whether Baby needed men's socks or boys socks. He's on the cusp of wearing men's shoes. I don't think my budget can afford that but his feet aren't listening.

Right in the middle of the debate on what size socks to buy Baby a Mother and her Teenage Son walked up to the Men's Underwear Wall. Standing right in front of all that underwear the Mom turned to her Teenage Son.

"What kind of underwear do you like? You like this kind right? The boxers, not boxer briefs, made out of t-shirt material, right?" She sounded a little exasperated, frustrated, and frazzled all rolled into one slightly loud statement.

The boy, probably 13 or 14, was completely mortified that his Mom had brought him to the Men's Underwear Wall and was talking to him in a voice loud enough for anyone to hear. He answered her in a low mumbling voice, trying not to bring any more attention to himself than she had already brought. I looked around. I was the only one anywhere near them. I tried to look like I was completely absorbed in the debate about sock sizes for Baby. And while I felt a little sorry for the Teenage Boy, I totally understood his slightly exasperated, frustrated, and frazzled Mom. It was all I could do to not laugh, not at her, but  with her, not that she was laughing, but she will one day. Maybe not for 20 years when he tries to buy underwear for his boy, but one day she's going to laugh at the day she stood in front of the Men's Underwear Wall with her Teenage Son.


Adventures in Shopping with Teenage Boys

Sometimes shopping with Teenage Boys is wonderful. You're in, you're out, you're done! Hallelujiah! If it wasn't for the grocery bill boys would be the best!

And then there's the times you need to find certain clothes for the Teenage Boys. Teenage Boys don't do well shopping. Most of them abhor the whole ordeal. And so do their Moms. But there's no choice!

I took Middle Child back-to-school shopping last week. It was the highlight of my week. If I was rating it according to the lowest point of the week.

We got to the store. I had scoped the store out a few days earlier. When we came in I was excited that the sale prices had dropped even more! Wow!

And then we tried to find clothes that he liked. We were searching for shorts because after our family trip I realized he didn't have near enough to make it a whole week between wash days. That's my goal in life, to have enough clothes to make it a whole week between washings. Of course he is very particular, only plaid shorts. We searched high and low. Once we found the things he liked we tried to find them in his size. That's where the luck ended. Apparently not only do I have the most common shoe size but he has the most common waist size, severely limiting both our choices.

Finally we had a handful of clothes to try on! We headed to a fitting room. I sent him in. Another mother with her teenage son was right behind me. Middle Child headed in and I didn't see him for a minute or two. The other boy came right out.

"There's no rooms in there, there all full!" he said.

"Is there people in the rooms?" she asked.

"No, there just full of clothes."

"Well, that's just because no one puts their clothes away. They're empty rooms."

"No they're not!"

"Trust me, the rooms are empty." Which was true. There were no boys or men milling around modeling clothing for their Moms, Spouses, Girlfriends, Mistresses, or anyone else.

The boy hung his head and reluctantly went in a room. I was kind of proud of Middle Child for already figuring this out since he hadn't come back out yet.

Apparently I thanked my lucky stars a moment too soon. He came out right after this exchange with the same complaint. Before we could have the exact same conversation he headed to another fitting room. After he came out making the same complaint we then repeated the exact same conversation with the same conclusion.

We spent a good half hour trying on shorts, shorts, and more shorts. Finally we found a few he liked. After all the shorts trying on we didn't have the patience energy to try on shirts. The first Friday of school is picture day and I was hoping to get the shopping for this crossed off my list. No such luck. I was just happy to round out his shorts to an even seven. Now he can go a whole week between washes!

Stay tuned for more Adventures in Shopping with Teenage Boys.


Boy Pants

While searching around different sewing blogs I came across these.

These lovely pants came with a whole tutorial so you could make them for your kid. The saddest part? These were on a little boy.The second saddest part? They're not jammy pants. I felt so bad for him. There comes a point in your life when you need to pick up new sewing projects and quit sewing "cute"things for your kids.


Free Summer Entertainment (Almost)

Remember when we got new chairs at work?

And I brought home those HUGE boxes?

And I said I would let you know what the kids did with them?

Hours and Hours of sawing and cutting and taping later...

This is what has been concocted.

The best summer entertainment only cost me a roll of duck tape. Take that Corporate America with your Deep Pockets!