Sunday, July 9, 2017

Dog Days of Summer

Phew!  Boy is it the dog days of summer--it sure is hot hot hot out there!  But that hasn't stopped us from jam packed fun.  Eric's sister, Hillary, and her family came our for a visit.  We did our annual Parade of Homes tour with just the ladies, swam at Jessica's pool, had a BBQ, and went up to Salt Lake City.  The adults and "almost" missionary Nathan, went through a session while the rest of the (old enough) kids did baptisms.  It was really neat.  I'd never been through the Salt Lake Temple so it was pretty cool.  So much attention to detail inside and so much history.  Then, of course, Kneaders French Toast for breakfast rounded out the trip nicely!


 We've been working like dogs in the yard trying to get grass growing, trees planted, mulch spread, and on and on and on and on.....  It feels like it will never ever be done!  The grass in the front is doing well but the backyard not so much.  It is really struggling to get going.  It's actually pretty depressing.  So we thought planting some trees would help make the yards start coming together (shrubs and flowers come later--baby steps here).  We planted about 45 trees (!!!!) Most went in pretty easily (assuming they don't die in this heat), we did have to do some pick-axing and I've got lots of blisters and a MAJOR farmer tan to go along with it all.  But we've had a few snafus as per usual when doing this kind of stuff.  First snafu was the horses--we tried planting a couple aspens in the back of the yard by the corrals but look who decided to snack on them....
 Argh!  Oreo and a few other horses decided they had a penchant for Swedish Aspen and ate the entire middle sections of each tree, including the bark.  So they are both dying.  Sad.  So we got some electric fence wire and strung it up along the corral fence.  They don't bite at the trees anymore (zap zap--Eric "tested" it to make sure it worked) but we will have to replace them.  Ugh.

Second snafu was when we managed to get an auger to dig a few of the tree holes.  We were sure to be super careful and make sure we didn't hit any of the electrical lines or plumbing going out to the barn...but we were lifting the auger out of one hole and wrapped around it was a length of........sprinkler pipe!  Of course, the sprinkler we had just put in only a couple weeks before.  We dug right through the spot where the main line goes into the yard--and we knew it was there, but it just totally slipped our minds to make sure we weren't digging into sprinkler pipe.  Duh!  What do-do heads.  Well, it ended up only being a minor crises and easily fixed.  It turns out we only hit the pipe that held the wire for one of the zones and tore the wire.  We must have missed the main water line but millimeters because they were in the same trench.  It was one of those tender mercies!  Easy fix--we just got a remote timer for that zone and once we figured out how to set it, it has been working great.

Snafu three was because I was trying to be a good wife.  Eric really wanted an Austrian Pine tree but the place we normally get our trees didn't have any.  So while he went to Priesthood session of conference I went to a different nursery.  They only had bigger ones that were kind of pricey.  I wasn't going to get one, but they were having a Father's Day sale 20% off and since I'm such a kind wife (and since I didn't get Eric anything else for Father's Day) I decided to get one.  It was big and heavy but we had a borrowed Bobcat at our house I thought would make it easy work.  So once Eric got home we dug the hole (and it was big--the root ball was about 3 feet wide and 3.5 feet deep).  It took both of us heaving our hardest to get the dang thing in the bobcat bucket.  But we managed with a little elbow grease and sweat.  Then we got the tree to the hole, dumped it in and......the hole was too shallow.  Ugh.  So now to get the tree out.  .   .   .   .   yeah, it wasn't coming out.  We broke a rope trying to lift it, could not even budge it.  So, what did we do?  We dug another hole right next to the other one and rolled the tree into it!  Ha ha.  It was a lot of digging (and now filling) but we managed to get it in.  Now it better not die!!!!

After we installed the sprinkler system we were having trouble with dry spots and puddles so we spent a lot of time fiddling with the heads.  Eric had to leave for scout camp a couple days after the hydroseed was sprayed so I was worried about getting it all worked out and ready to go.  We had spent all day outside and in the evening noticed one more head that needed to be switched out.  So we switched it fora different type of head and turned it on.  It just sputtered water and didn't spray.  Then we realized we needed a little plastic insert to make it spray the correct way.  We had just seen them the day before so went to the barn to get one......they were gone.  No where.  Seriously.  We looked EVERYWHERE in the barn (where they had been and where all the sprinkler stuff was).  Every box of sprinkler supplies (and there were like 20), we moved hay to see if they got covered up, every garbage can, the garbage pile.  Then we thought maybe the kids grabbed them, they said they hadn't seen them.  We checked the house everywhere--every garbage--even went dumpster diving in our big outside garbage can.  We must have looked for an hour.  Then by that point we figured it was useless--no where left to look.  Plus it was dark and getting hard to see.  The next day was Sunday, then Eric was leaving Monday morning for scout camp.  But we figured we'd just have to figure something else out the next day.  So we turned off the barn lights and started back to the house.  Eric was ahead of me and the whole time I had been saying those little prayers to help us find these little blue plastic things.  But it seemed that it wasn't meant to be.  But then, as I walked back to the house, I saw out of the corner of my eye a little something literally glowing on the ground, in the middle of all the rocks. I looked at it...and you won't believe, it was ONE of those little plastic things we needed.  Just one.  (They came attached to a strip of plastic as a set of 10).  It was seriously like manna from heaven for me.  We put it in quick and it worked like a charm.  When I found it I seriously looked up at the dusk sky and felt like God winked at me, as if to say, "I've got you.  Don't worry."  It just made me think about how God is in the details of our lives, and even something as eternally trivial as a sprinkler system He knows about.  And even though I KNOW He doesn't care about a sprinkler system, I know He cares about ME.  I'm telling you we walked over those same rocks at least 10 times between the two of us.  And it wasn't until after it all that I found it.  Sometimes God lets us dig through the trash a little and get a little dirty before He gives us the answers--but it will always be for our benefit.  It seems like a silly thing, but to me it was actually a neat spiritual experience.


So anyway, back to summer fun--we got a picture of the tallest/oldest and shortest/youngest grandkids on the Swenson side.  Look at that difference!  Joey just loves Nate, it is so funny, because he hasn't spent a lot of time with him. But Joey talks about him all the time--usually about how tall he is and how he never eats any sugar (Nate had to set him straight that sometimes he does eat a little sugar, ha ha).
 Eric and I took our kids up to temple square one evening, just to take a break from all the yard work. We went to eat at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, then walked around temple square and the visitor's centers.  It is such a beautiful place, and so calming.  I remember going there when I was a little girl when we'd come out to Utah for reunions, but I am pretty lucky to live so close to it.  It is impossible to feel negative there because I realize in all the ways that really matter I am so so so blessed.  It was a nice respite from the day and stress.

Swimming lessons were a must for Maggie and Joey--my last 2 who still need lessons.  Maggie is my little Coppertone girl.  Blond, tan and loves the water.  She loves to swim and did awesome at her lessons this year!  Best in her class.  Joey, well, he almost got kicked out the pool the first day, (yikes) but by the end of the week he was hugging his teacher at the end of class.  So things must have turned around!


And it wouldn't be summer without another injury, and it wouldn't be the Swenson's house if Joey wasn't getting stitches again.  My goodness, this boy is going to be like Frankenstein.  This time he was running while holding a tuna can lid.  I had told him to throw it away because it was sharp.  So of course, he runs to the kitchen with it, and in the process bumps into Maggie and it gouges him in the chest.  It wasn't huge but it was pulled way apart and you could see the fat and stuff under his skin.  So I took him in to Eric and he stitched him up (gave him some happy gas--which makes Joey like a zombie...I love it).  Ended up with 6 nice stitches.  This boy!  He certainly keeps me on my toes.

 After a break from yard work for a few days, we were back at it, installing a garden fence.  Of course it can't go smoothly (when does it ever, right?).  So this time as we were drilling with a hand auger we rented, we broke a sprinkler pipe.  I know what you are thinking--how could we forget to think about sprinkler pipe AGAIN!?  But this time we had, and there really wasn't a pipe where we were digging...I guess, except this one.  But you can see we just hit the edge of it.  It was so close of a miss!  And of course we didn't realize it until the sprinklers came on and Eric and I were not home.  So after the backyard is a gurgling flooded mess, Tyler notices and call us.  For Pete's sake.  It was a muddy sloppy MESS.  SO SO SO much water had come out.  Back to the store to buy more parts.  I think they will know us by name there soon.  At least we got it fixed, and eventually it did dry out (after like 3 days).  Here's the culprit...

We managed to get the key to go up to the top of tower mountain.  We took the ranger up and had a nice time.  It was so hot at home, but WAY cooler up at the top.  If you haven't done this, the first half is really rocky and bumpy and you can't go too fast--especially because one side is a drop off down the mountain.  As as you get higher, so does the drop off!  It makes me nervous at times but I try to remind myself that Eric doesn't want to drive off the side any more than I don't want him to drive off the side.  But still, I was white knuckled for a lot of it!  Here's me and Jake keeping a brave face!


 But then you get to the top and it is so cool.  Beautiful views, nice cool air, and green trees and plants.
 You can tell we don't take many selfies--we haven't mastered how to not look weird in them....
 The kids were having fun too.


 Look how pretty!  And yes, Maggie has pink hair.  We got her a little pink hair wash shampoo.  It washed out after a couple washes but it is fun for summer, and she loves it (shocking).
 At the very top there is a radio tower and a big helicopter pad you can go up on to.  Views of the entire valley pretty much.  The kids think they are awesome, which they are (because they take after their mother).
 On the way down we stopped at took a peek in the actual Dream Mine (if you don't know the story you can look it up).  It is a pretty crazy story and it is a pretty crazy building!  It is spooky--it looks like one day they just walked away.  The machinery is there, many tools, parts, etc.  It was really cool, and it was even cooler because I got to make up a story about how it is haunted by some miners who died in a cave-in.  Bwah-hah-hah (my evil laugh).  I must not have been very convincing though because they didn't believe me.
 We came up here with my sister too and she said how this entrance/sign looks like something from a Disneyland ride.  It totally does!  LOL.  "Responsible."  Love it.
 After we had gone up and down the mountain with my sister it was soooo hot and Eric had the brilliant idea to jump in the canal and swim down a ways and I would pick him up at the road by our house.  Well, he jumped in, and promptly got out!  It was freezing!  No matter how hot it was outside apparently it wasn't so hot as to make him want to swim in that cold water!
 Here we are riding up with Carrie and her family.  Such cute girls!  Wish they lived closer!
 I got to drive this time (which I found I actually prefer because i feel more in control) but I think Dick could have been happier staying home--he's afraid of heights!
 We borrowed a 4-wheeler and rented a side by side to get us all up there.  After a few over-heated stalls we made it!  It was fun and we had a nice picnic at the top.  Look behind Eric--you can see one of the trees we planted!
 We took them to check out the dream mine too.  I didn't try to scare her girls though.  I'm not THAT mean.

 While they were here we also took Becky on a horse ride (Carrie wasn't feeling well).  It was beautiful, cool, and a great ride....until for some reason Becky's horse decided to jump over a tiny stream and made Becky fall off.  I was so surprised the horse did that!  It wasn't a place where you'd think they would.  I felt so bad.  Becky took it like a champ and got right back on and didn't complain, but I've fallen off a horse and it is scary and hurts!  So props to her (I told her Carrie would never have gotten back on, ha.  Take that, Carrie).
 What is a week with cousins without a sleepover!  One night at grandmas (just for Maggie though)... and a night at our place.  No sleep but lots of giggles.
 We went one afternoon to Funtopia, a place with a bunch of climbing walls for kids.  It is really fun and the kids had a blast--especially on the giant slide!  All my kids made it to the top and came down.  Joey made it on his third try--and his look of terror as he first let go was priceless.  I wish I could have captured it on camera!


 The week with Carrie, Becky and the girls was so fun.  My kids love her girls so much.  I keep telling her to move closer!  C'mon guys!

I realized I forgot to post about my Mother's Day cards in my last post.  I got some great stuff.  I got a monster heart card from Maggie.  Tyler wrote me a poem:
Moms love you
Enough to correct you.
They hug you and kiss you
And when you're gone they always miss you.
When we have fallen
She stops us from bawlin'.
And when someone hurts her cubs
Mama bear starts maulin'.
I'm running out of room
So lets go out with a boom...by saying I LOVE YOU!

Jacob made me an awesome card designed like a pro.  He said I am the best mom he could ask for.  Nice.

But my favorite was Joey's.  He made a card at school where they filled in blanks about their mom.  He knew how old I was and said we like to cook together.  Here's a few snippets of my favorites:
Mom likes to say:  "I love you"
My Mom really loves:  Me
My Mom's job is a:  Doctor (maybe because I always put bandaids on his owies)
Mom is really good at:  Being a Mom

and my favorite...

If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we'd go:  To a gas station.

HA HA!  Remind me not to take a trips with Joey!  We would only make it down the block to the gas station.

It's been a crazy summer and I can't believe it is half over.  Wish me luck with the grass and we will keep plugging away!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Work Hard, Play Hard

So far this summer we have been living the mantra "Work hard, Play hard."  There've been many long days outside working in the yard, hauling hay, spreading mulch, setting up trampoline pits, installing metal edging, and more!  But we've spent a lot of time partying it up--swimming, playdates, bowling, grandma's house fun, hooray!  A couple days ago we went to lunch with my mom and then bowling after.  Now, I may possibly be the world's worst bowler.  Not that I try to improve my skills--if I go bowling once a year that's a lot.  But even within the same 10 frame game, I'll get 3 gutter balls, and then a strike.  Eric will always say to me, "Do what you did for the strike again, keep your hand straight, look down the lane...."  Well, the problem is that I feel like I am doing the exact same thing when I bowl a strike as when I bowl a gutterball.  Nothing feels different (except my elation or disappointment at how many pins go tumbling).  And most of this game with grandma was no different.  I think by the end of the 8th frame I had 60 points.  I'd never broken 80 bowling anyway, but I was having a particularly bad game.  Last place the whole way.  (The kids did have bumpers though--maybe I should consider bumpers!)  Then by a stroke of luck I got a spare in the 9th frame.  So pressure was on for the 10th and last frame of the game.  I gave it a whirl and lo and behold got a strike!   Couldn't have been better timing!  So I got another roll since it was a strike--ANOTHER STRIKE!!!  2 in a row!  Knocked down about 7 my last roll and ended up handily winning the whole game--WITHOUT BUMPERS!  I ended up with a 97--my highest bowling score ever!  Needless to say I was pretty proud of myself (kidding).  But it was fun the make such a great comeback!  The kids loved it too.  They all cheered for each other.  Maggie was in first place for a lot of the game but her luck ran out (or got stolen by me) and ended up losing.  She'll get us next time!

 Joey was always eager to take his throws and once threw it too soon and hit the big black thing that comes down to set the pins, set the game board off, so we had to have the counter lady come fix it AND retrieve his ball stuck in the middle of the lane.  Oops, typical Joey.  He can find (cough: make) trouble like no one else.  Just last week he drew with pen on the walls and my white cabinets, and that some afternoon threw a remote at the downstairs tv and shattered our 55" plasma tv screen.  .......   It was one of those things where it is so bad you don't even get mad.  Seriously, I find myself more mad at the pen on the wall or spilled messses they leave than the big huge stuff--almost because I didn't even know how to react.  I left it at this--the tv is still on the wall (the glass didn't shatter but the screen inside did...it's hard to explain...) and I told the kids that was it for that tv.  They asked if I was going to buy a new one.  Nope.  I don't care.  I never watched tv there, and it was mostly the video game tv and I hate video games anyway.  So no skin off my back!  Anyway, Joey had a good game bowling, and he sure used those bumpers!
 A couple weeks ago, Eric had a conference in Washington DC, so we told Tyler if he got good grades he could go.  My some miracle in the 11th hour Tyler pulled it off and was able to go.  They had a blast.  They went to an Orioles game....
 Ate sushi... (I love that Tyler loves sushi--after being so picky when he was little he has come a long way!)
 Visited the house he lived in the first 2 years of his life...  (We've come a long way since those dental school days!--The entire house is like 14 feet wide, you can see from the picture.  I will forever love this little townhouse.  It's where our life really began!)
 And they visited a couple Smithsonian museums and just had a good time together.  It was great that Tyler was able to go and spend some quality time with dad.  Male bonding!

Lots of play, but as I said, lots of work too!  We ended up hiring someone to install the sprinkler system (we were going to do it ourselves but every weekend was rainy so it was setting us back too long)--but we installed all the metal edging.  We had to cut and weld rebar pieces to the edging to help it stay in the ground.  So we gave Tyler the job of cutting the rebar into small pieces.  He was petrified of the sparks that went flying--so he put on glasses, a sweatshirt and a hat.  As you can see:  (keep in mind it was over 80 degrees out)...
 But that wasn't enough it turns out.  (I didn't get a picture of this one)  Tyler was still afraid of the sparks so he pulled the strings around the hood of the sweatshirt and tightened it around his face so that the only thing visible were his nose and glasses.  It was seriously hilarious.  Too bad I didn't get a pic of it!  But after a TON of work we eventually got all the edging in.  And then brought in some mulch for the backyard.  Worked a few days getting that spread out.  Had the boys gathering rocks and dumping them in our ever-growing dump pile (it's very classy)...  As you can also see I can't keep Tyler in jeans.  EVERY time I buy him a new pair he outgrows them in a month.  He had no jeans that fit so you'll have to excuse the floods....yes I did buy him some new jeans after this.
 And then it was back to play.  The younger kids went to my mom's house and of course, played in the sprinklers and water (I'm sure they can't wait to get grass to play on at our house!)  It is always fun at grandma's!

The sprinklers are in, the edging is in, so it was time for the hydroseed.  We got that put in about a week ago.  It's been THE BIGGEST PAIN!  The trick is to keep it moist all the time, but not soggy and never let puddles form.  Well guess what...that is impossible.  I end up with puddles, so I water less, but then there are dry spots, so I water a little more and there are puddles.  I've tried hand watering the dry spots but it takes forever.  Plus I have to do it 3 times a day.  So we spent a while messing with the sprinklers to try to even it out.  After trying everything we still have trouble spots, but you know what, it's as good as it's gonna get.  I just really hope this stinking grass grows!  I told Eric if this doesn't grow I am not doing seed again, I'll put sod right over the top of it, no matter how much it costs!  But my fingers are crossed that in the end it will work out....   Here's the back yard after it got seeded....

 And now more work.  Our fields are growing amazingly well--they better be with all the rain we had this spring!  So got it cut and baled and spent Saturday morning hauling it all to the barn.
 Tyler is smiling, but it was hot and scratchy!  But we got it done.  I can't wait until all the boys are old enough to help so I don't have to!
 Now more playing--Jake had his birthday party (not really a party, more like a get together with his buddies) at Aunt Jessica's pool.  They boys had a blast!  They all play so well and even after 4 hours in the water they wanted to stay!  The boys had to go home but My kids and I stayed another 2 hours!  Phew!  It's ok because Eric and Tyler are gone at scout camp all week so I've got to find things to do anyway.  Shockingly my kids weren't sunburned even though I only applied sunblock at the beginning!
So far summer has been good...here's to the rest of it!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Springing into Spring!

Time sure does fly when things are crazy!  The horse drama had a sad ending, I'm sorry to say.  After going up every few hours for a few more days, the little foal was not doing well.  We figured we would just keep on doing what we were doing, but she had developed big open wounds on her fetlocks (that she walk on).  So we took her in to see the vet to clean the wounds and figure out what do with her feet, as well as get some general prognosis advice and information.  We told the vet the whole story, and he said we really needed to do some blood tests.  So we did, and the results showed that the foal didn't get enough colostrum within the early hours of life.  He told us that she would need a plasma transfer (which costs $1000) and even that would only give her a 50/50 chance.  Well...that was just too expensive for bad odds anyway, so we had him euthanize her.  Boo hoo.  Joey was with us and he was crying, it was so sad.  But at least she died peacefully and didn't have to suffer.  Rest in peace little pony!
 Although Dutch, the mom, took it well, Crazy Alice did not.  After we had separated the horses (before we had the foal put down), Alice would do one of 2 things: 1) she would stand like this at the fence STARING DOWN the foal.  It was creepy.  Or 2) she would chase like hellfire a couple of the other horses in the field with her.  It was so bad--she would chase them full bore as hard and fast as she could and it she caught them she'd kick and bite them.  For no reason!  Poor Penny had run so hard and so long that when Eric went in the pen to help she actually ran behind Eric for protection!  Eric scared Alice off and we put Penny in with Dutch and the baby.  I thought Alice was going to kill her!  She practically had fire spewing from her nostrils!
 Well, amidst all of the horse drama we managed to celebrate Easter.  The Easter bunny found us once again and left baskets of candy stuffed to the brim!
 We had dinner at Katie's house--I made 2 cakes.  The first is a chocolate spartak cake.  It has 7 layers of thin cake with frosting.  It was a new recipe I tried and it was actually super delicious.  It was hard to make but it has to sit in the fridge for 1-2 days before serving so I got to do it on a day I didn't have much going on.   The picture I took showed the first slice which got a little smoothed, but the rest of the slices were nice and layered looking.  The other cake is a recipe I've had for a long time, Fresh Strawberry cake.  I love it.  It is really sweet but has such a nice strawberry flavor.  The only problem was dinner and dessert was so good I ate too much!


 Maggie has been getting in the cooking spirit herself as well--lately she's been bringing home library books from school that are cookbooks!  These two cracked me up.  We actually made a couple and they were good.  A new family favorite is slow cooker pulled chicken tacos.  Yum!  Maybe I can get Maggie to cook dinners then I can have nights off...
 Guess who finally lost their first tooth?  Joey has been DYING to have his teeth come out and has been incessant about asking Eric to see how loose it is.  Finally Eric gave in to Joey's pleadings and pulled his tooth out.  It probably could've used another few days, but Joey wasn't having it.  So Eric pulled out the pliers from the tool drawer and popped it right out.  I've never seen a kid so excited!  And Joey is also by far the toughest of our kids--our older kids have learned NEVER to let dad know you have a loose tooth.  But Joey?  He came back a couple days later and had Eric pull out the other bottom tooth!  LOL, no whining or saying it hurt.  I think this is Joey's way of earning money (tooth fairy).  We'd better be careful or one day he will come home and need a full set of dentures!
 Jacob had a fun thing he got to do..his friend Breyton invited him to go to the big Supercross race in Salt Lake.  They even got to go into the pits and meet the drivers and stuff.  The bad news was his friend got sick in the middle of it and spent half the night throwing up in the bathroom!  What a bummer!
 I love to cook and bake (and it shows in my figure, ha ha).  I love making crusty bread loaves in my dutch oven and I found a recipe to make a 5 seed crusty loaf---doesn't this look delicious!  It was sooooo good!
 Okay, folk, this is happening outside my house the end of April...really, Mother Nature???  It lasted several hours too.
 I took my boys and a few cousins and friends to the homeless shelter in Provo to serve dinner.  It was a great experience and opportunity to serve others.  The boys had a good time doing it and even have asked to go back!  I would have taken Maggie and Joey but you have to be 10 years old.  But the bummer of the night was that Katie's back window of her car got smashed in!  Oh no!  I've been there before and nothing has ever happened so I hope it was a fluke, but I felt bad for Katie....
A couple funny moments:

Joey and I got stuck waiting at a train crossing while a really long train lined with coal cars passed in front of us.  Joey asked where it was going and I told him I didn't know, to which he replied, "Oh, it's going to the North Pole to Santa!  Wow, that's a LLOOOOOTTTT of naughty kids getting coal this year."

Joey asked Eric last night at dinner, "Dad, what's it like to be a cowboy?"  Cute, and it made Eric feel manly and awesome.

Maggie likes to watch the America's Got Talent videos, especially the ones of kids.  She told us all one evening she wanted to be on the show.  Tyler asked her what her talent would be and she said "I will do pole dancing."   Ummmmmm......what are they teaching her in her dance class???

Lastly, I just wanted to point out that I can really tell I'm getting older now.  How?  The difference between how I look BEFORE I get ready and AFTER I get ready is getting steadily wider and more dramatic.  And I don't even wear that much makeup or anything, but I'm getting to the point where, boy, I really need it!