Friday, November 28, 2014

What I Don't Want to Forget

Ahhh... time to blog. 

What a luxury "time" has been this week.  Tomorrow we head home, which is always nice.  But I must confess, I haven't quite had my fill of this trip yet.  It's been really, truly lovely.

As I sit here in Marjorie's old, darkened bedroom with a sleeping Peter, I am relishing my many, many pleasant memories of time spent here at Fox Hill with Abe's family.

--Arriving in Spokane after long drives on hot summer afternoons.

--Praying to make it up the hill during winter visits.

--Trying to be the first to spot the house from the freeway.

-- Leaving the hill as infrequently as possible for days on end because Grandpa already stocked up on food at Costco.

--Watching vans full of cousins and aunts and uncles pull up to the front circle.  The loving, excited greetings and hugs as we reunite.

--The exclamations of surprise at new found height, hairstyle, or weight loss.  The predictable shock when the nephews voices drop and the nieces wear make-up and turn into young women.

--Children going on treasure hunts to find their parents old toys and games tucked away in forgotten closets.

--The cozy black gas stoves in each bedroom and the warm glow in the middle of a winter night.

--Everyone inspecting the giant family portrait to make sure they are in it.

--Looking at the olde-time family pictures of the aunts and uncles growing up.

--The endless tub of Red Vine licorice in the turnstyle corner cabinet of the kitchen.

--Grandma's extensive movie collection--from new releases to classic musicals.  There is something for everyone.

--Grandchildren taking tubbies in the giant bathtub with the huge rubber ducks and marine mammals.

--Falling asleep listening to the train whistle as it passes through Otis Orchards.

--Little kids trying to workout who will get the honor of sleeping in the "car bed". 

--The frightening flight of stairs we keep fearing a child will fall through and get injured, but so far has claimed no victims.

-- The kitchen drawer full of diapers in all sizes and wipes so there is no question if these babies are loved and welcomed.

--Grandma sitting at her computer desk, enjoying emails and pictures of her many grandchildren.

--Grandpa lovingly doing the dishes and keeping up the house as Grandma is slowing down.

--The digital player piano pounding away upstairs as the cousins play pool, air hockey, and the pinball machine simultaneously.  It's not quiet, but there is no fighting, so it is a beautiful noise.

--The joy of finding the only upstairs bathroom unoccupied when you first wake up in the morning. 

--The freedom to eat anything you want, any hour of the day.  The kitchen is always open and there is a seemingly endless supply of tasty treats we rarely enjoy at home.

-- No bedtime at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  11 o'clock PM is never too late to start a new movie.

--Kneeling for family prayer on the hard pine floor.

--Visiting with sister-in-laws on the brown leather couches for hours; interrupted by little ones needing drinks or movies started in the playroom or someone to "see what they made".

--The uncles reminiscing about their years growing up in Veradale, WA; discussing who milked the most cows.

--Sharing the joys and woes of parenting while on dates with other brothers and sisters-in-law.

--Cousin sleepovers at the Hill.  Or rather, cousins not sleeping during sleepovers at the Hill.

--The danger of four-wheeler and golf cart expeditions on the trails.

-- Grandpa trash talking while playing games with grandchildren.

-- Bacon and spam breakfasts prepared by Grandpa.

--Cousin talent shows at any gathering.

--The relief of letting your parental guard down for a few days because you're in a safe place.

--The hallway-long cork board covered in the current pictures of each cousin.

--The handmade picture frames of all the families set on the bookshelves and piano in the family room.

--Watching the beautiful sun set over the valley late at night in the summer. 

--Evening walks down to the first gate with sister-in-laws in the summer.

--Cuddling up and watching movies on the old Lazy Boy couches upstairs.

--Cousins celebrating victories over old Nintendo video games.

--Final pictures with the Grandparents on the couch before we drive away.

--The brothers congregating to play D&D all day or into the wee hours of the morning.

--Knowing you are one in a family of 70 +, but feeling you are loved and feeling like they are interested in the details of your life.

Thank you to the Fox family.  All the cousins who strengthen my children through their example and testimony of the gospel.  The "boys" who are Abraham's best friends.  My sister-in-laws who have mentored me in mothering and homeschooling.  Jim and Kathleen who have given all for their family and have blessed our lives in countless ways.  Thank you.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!
Lots of cousins enjoying Thanksgiving dinner.
The food was really quite delicious-- as would be expected on Thanksgiving.  But my George is passing through a VERY picky stage with food.  Grandma's house is not the time or place to fight that battle.  So when he said he just wanted lemonade to drink and nothing to eat, I obliged.  We'll deal with food issues when we get home.  
Peter had plenty of adoring fans-- pictured here are Ruth and Priscilla (about to leave on a mission).  Sadly, he is not making many friends or influencing people because he starts to cry whenever anyone else holds him.  We'll have to deal with that when we get home as well.
Several of the children participated in a very entertaining interpretation of the First Thanksgiving.   
Clark and Alexis sparred (debated) over the topic-- Christmas should not be celebrated before Thanksgiving.  Clark argued for and Alexis against.  According to Clark, family members make bad judges, because we all declared it a tie.  But they were both fierce competitors.
 I didn't know my children enjoyed the game of pool so much, but they've been playing a lot.  They are soaking up this time with cousins.

Fun on the Hill

Peter Jesse with Grandma and Grandpa Fox.  Notice he is smiling in this picture.  I wish I could say he was smiling more often on this trip, but sadly, that is not the case.  He's had a rough couple of days-- not sleeping very well and generally pretty fussy.  Abe is being very kind to me this morning and holding him while I give my arms a rest and blog. 
Also I'm watching Bride and Prejudice-- a Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice.  Great fun!
This is pretty much the scene.  And I fear we are creating a major problem for when we get back home, because we are holding him so much here.  He was already a wee bit spoiled before our trip, but we might never recover after this week.
It was very wet and muddy, but Elinor really wanted to ride the four-wheelers.  Her boots got super muddy.  They were getting worn out and too small anyway, so I think we'll just have to trash them before we leave.
Abe has worked a lot lately, so the kids (and me) are really enjoying time to play with Dad.  I can do a lot on my own, but we need and love to have him around.  Here he is on his annual "Elinor and Dad Ride" on the 4-wheeler to their special spot on the mountain.
Clark brought up his Heroscape game to get in a good game with Abe.  Fortunately for Clark, Grandma and Grandpa Fox have a partially finished basement.   It is slightly less dungeon-like than ours at home, but Clark has taken to it and feels quite at home.
More 4-wheeler fun!
Abe and Justin Sanders grew up together in Spokane.  Justin married Emily, who I have come to love.  When we first started getting together as families we each had one little boy.  Now, a whole lot of kids later, we still love their company.  We enjoyed dinner and great conversation at FoxHill last night.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Memory Making in Spokane

Singing Christmas carols with cousins.  Bethany, Talitha, and Julia are such sweethearts and had such lovely voices together.
They do get a wee bit silly together.  On a car ride today they were discussing all attractive Hollywood actors named "Chris".  Let's see, there's Chris Pine, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt... This conversation was funny to me, but downright disturbing for Abe.  It does make me think there will be a boom in baby boys named Chris soon.
Cousins are THE BEST!
And Clark had his first date today! 
No, just kidding.  That's a little twisted.  These cousins had what you might call a practice date.  They went to a movie, just the two of them.  But maybe in the coming years they can set each other up on double dates when they visit each other.
Cannon, the pool shark.  He and Abe have been playing a lot of pool this week and Cannon likes to talk a lot of trash about whooping up on his dad. 
Elinor and Annie holed up in the playroom to watch Pirates of the Caribbean.  Haven't see a lot of Els on this trip yet.
Georgie was really looking forward to playing in Grandma and Grandpa's sandbox, but sadly it was cold and wet outside this morning, so he had to settle for hippity-hops in the garage.
Action packed!
A lunch date at HayJ's Bistro was delish.  We went there a couple of years ago and I have been dreaming of the meal I had ever since.  We tried to go last year, but it was closed on the Fourth of July when we tried to go.  Today, my craving was satisfied.
We had a really nice time catching up with Jesse and Amy.  Siblings are a blessing when we're children, but what a joy it is to have warm relationships with siblings as adults. 

Today we also took an enjoyable trip to Costco with Grandpa and George and Faith to stock up on food for the week and Thanksgiving.  Then Abe and I actually sat down and watched an entire movie together.  A whole movie with no interruptions.  Sad that I cannot remember doing that for the last several months.  We watched Edge of Tomorrow.  Too much action for my taste, but I did enjoy being with Abe and sitting still for that long.  Tomorrow I think we'll watch more movies.  How ambitious of us.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Spokane for Thanksgiving 2014

And we're here.
We enjoyed a safe, clear day of driving to Spokane to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with Abe's family.  It gets dark at least a full half hour earlier here than it does at home so by the time we rolled in at 4:30 is was quite dark already.  We were on the road before the sun came up and didn't get in until the sun was down, but even still it felt like one of our quicker drives here.  Maybe Abe's speeding ticket in Montana had something to do with it.
We always feel so loved and welcomed when we get here.
There are some toys that are always the first to come out of the playroom.
Faith and Cannon went right to the air hockey table.
Thank you, Cannon, for that lovely expression.
Two "Jolley Foxes".  They both have the middle name of Jolley and last name of Fox.
Abe and his just younger brother Jesse.  Jesse is holding his nephew named partly after him-- Peter Jesse Fox.
Clark and his closest cousin, Alexis.  They are both into speech and debate, so we're hoping for a sparring showdown later this week.
My wonderful sister-in-law Amy.  I swear she gets younger and lovelier each time I see her.  I think I'll stop having my picture taken with her.
George and cousin, Asher.  They played so well together-- even if they do both look a little drunk in this picture.
Cannon and John.  John is a couple years older than Cannon, but Cannon LOVES him.  I was embarrassing John by telling him that he is getting handsomer each time I see him.  Cannon overheard this compliment, and feeling a little threatened, he said, "Mom, what about my hair compared to John's face?"  We all had a good laugh teasing the boys about morphing them together into one super handsome boy that would cause the girls to faint when they saw him.

We're so glad to be here and looking forward to a week of family, relaxation, overindulgence in media, overeating and spending time together.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Ice Skating and November Happenings

Elinor is part of a "Little Women" girls' club.  The girls read the book "Little Women" and do literary and other fun activities connected to the book.  Friday night was ice skating night.  Both Bethany and Elinor were very good on the ice-- when did they learn to ice skate so well?
The younger siblings were all brave and tried out ice skating for the first time.   Even little George strapped on skates.  Abe was working Friday evening, so I was super brave and took the gang by my lonesome.
Cannon was fairly cautious and took things nice and slow, but eventually he let go of the wall and was able to skate on his own.
Faith was great fun to watch.  She got the hang of it quickly and was a speedy little thing.  She was practically running around the rink.
George did pretty well when one person held his hand.
But when two people held his hands, he just liked sliding along and saying how fast he was.
Side note:  George's pants were on backwards.  I knew it.  I knew it all day and did nothing about it.
Cute little women.  These three gals were all on a FIRST Lego League team together last year.  This year they are doing a different robotics competition.  It's called Sea-Perch and it's sponsored by the U.S. Navy (as I understand it).  They built and compete with an underwater robot.  Is it more useful than underwater basket-weaving?  That remains to be seen.
The whole group.  Ice skating was a success and I think we'll go again this winter.
Another fun thing this week was an Activity Days talent show.  This was for both Elinor's and Faith's age groups combined.  Faith played a piano piece.
Elinor demonstrated her alligator robot and had Katelyn activate the motion sensor she programmed.  It was fun to hear all the girls react when the alligator's mouth clamped shut.
Crummy picture quality, but Abe and Elinor enjoyed a rock concert Thursday night at the Young's home.  Dave (far left) is part of our homeschool family book club and he is the drummer in a great band called "Contagious".   I've heard them before and they cover really great rock and roll songs and do some original songs as well.  Lucky Abe and Elinor!  I spent the evening at a Stake Relief Society Leadership Training meeting.

That was good too.
 One of our wonderful neighborhood homeschool families hosted a Thanksgiving party this past week. She planned darling age appropriate crafts that the kids could do by themselves. Smart, very smart.  Here are Georgie and me in Indian headdress and Pilgrim bonnet.
 Well, it was fun while it lasted.  Clark came home from seminary on Monday and said he was ready for a haircut.  I tried to play it cool and not celebrate too loudly.  I did however tell him to grab his coat and get in the car--we were going to Great Clips immediately!
I usually cut his hair myself, but this felt a little out of my completely untrained league, and if he regretted it I didn't want to shoulder any of the blame.  As it is, he likes the shorter hair and his wild pirate hair will live on in infamy in our family pictures.
And last but not least, I did something I've been needing to do for a long time, but just recently realized I needed to do.  We created a computer work station in our family room.  We used our laptops a lot, but usually just take them all over the house.  I felt they were enduring too much wear and tear and they needed a stabler home.  Additionally, with more people using them more often, it is harder for me to keep tabs on who is using them and what they are doing on them.  We needed a more central, permanent location.  Enter a trip to IKEA and TA-DA!  Instant computer lab!  It's worked out quite nicely thus far.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

More Family Photos

He might like you to think he is a serious, no nonsense, tough guy.
Truthfully, he kind of is.  But occasionally we get to see this.  And I can't tell you how happy it makes me.
I suppose no teenage boy is impressed with his mother's opinion of his good looks.  Even so, I think he's so handsome.
To all my Cannon family-- do you recognize that smile?  I see a resemblance to many men in the Cannon family.
And he is a lover of nature.  A genuine tree-hugger.
Clark had four younger sisters before Cannon came along.  But if you ask Clark now, it was well worth the wait.  They are very close.  Cannon is granted privileges to Clark's room and belongings no one else enjoys.  Clark gave Cannon all his Legos.  Cannon gets to hang out with Clark and his friends.  In return, Cannon gives Clark back rubs, does all his bidding and and generally worships all things Clark.  I don't think I've ever heard a cross word spoken between them.  I'm afraid Cannon will have a pretty rough go of it when Clark leaves in his mission in less than three years.
I think Clark pulls off the smoldering "Blue Steel" a little better than Cannon.
Cannon is a pretty popular guy with the whole family.  Here are Bethany and Cannon trying to take a serious picture.  Probably not the best look for anyone in our family.
 Everyone wanted a picture with Cannon.  I think it was his hair.
Variation is good.  Here is another very sweet pairing.