Clarissa’s blessing day

Sunday was Clarissa’s blessing day. Abe gave her a beautiful blessing assuring her that she would feel an abundance of love from God and her family throughout her life and that her awareness of this love would protect her from contention and jealousy throughout her life. Normally baby blessings contain assurances that the baby will grow up to marry in the temple, so I thought this blessing was unique and very beautiful.

Tom and Suzanne came down for the day and helped make the day feel special. We took a lot of pictures afterward. We misplaced the blessing dress Mary and Lydia wore, and so we borrowed one from Jessi. Jessi was blessed in her dress, as was her daughter, Victoria.

After the blessing we all went home and had grain bowls for dinner. I love them and think we should eat them every day.

Then we had FHE. Abe taught a great lesson on the atonement and had the kids do a cute craft framing their own pictures of Jesus with colored paper afterward.

Ammon got distracted by Mr. Potato Head in the middle of the craft.

Leaf Hunt Hike

In the morning we powered through the girls’ practice before Abe took Lydia to BYU for a tour of its harp library. Sadly, there was some sort of parade going on that blocked the entrance to where he needed to go, so after driving around for half an hour, he gave up and brought her home.

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon cleaning. Clarissa hung out on the bed while we (mostly Abe) folded piles of laundry.

At 3pm we decided to take the kids up to Squaw Peak for a leaf hunt hike. We hustled to finish our chores and were on our way an hour and a half later.

We had the most wonderful hike! We had more daylight and gorgeous weather, so we walked a lot more than we did yesterday. The kids were so, so happy. Ammon, who usually cries at even imaginary boo-boos, fell a lot because he was walking so fast, and he only cried once the entire hike. He was in his element. I spent most of the hike near him while the girls hurried ahead and Abe and Clarissa brought up the rear.

Mountain colors

On Friday I got Mary’s piano practice done in time for us all to take a field trip to Thanksgiving Point’s Farm Country. I was a little worried about how Ammon would do on the pony ride and on the wagon, but he was perfect. I held him on the pony with Clarissa strapped on to my front, and that worked out great. Then for the rest of the entire visit that energetic little boy held my hand and walked by my side while we visited all of the different animals. He is so sweet.

Before Abe came home, I finished up Lydia’s harp practice after school and then made caramel apples with the kids and Eli. We also made pizza dough and pizza margherita and pizza with beets, ricotta and pineapple. Sophie, the babysitter, was dubious about that one, but we liked it!

In the evening, Abe took Clarissa and me on a date to see the colors from Squaw Peak. Yesterday Abe had his team activity on the mountain and he was dying to show us what he saw.

We have lived here for years and until yesterday I did not know we were fifteen minutes away from spectacular, mountain scenery! When we were on the trail, we felt like we were the only people on the mountain. It was breathtaking. The many pictures don’t even begin to do the colors justice. By the time we started taking pictures, the sun was already starting to set and the brilliance of the sun on the leaves had started to fade.

But this is what we got.


Skeleton walk

Today Abe had a team activity in the mountains after work. Since I knew he wasn’t coming home for dinner, I scheduled a lot of stuff in the afternoon so that the time would fly. It really did!

We met up with Eli at the library and he and the girls did the Jr. Library program. Emily and I visited by the preschool-play area downstairs.

After the library, we headed home to eat dinner. I put Ammon down early for his nap today, and I did not give him any snacks after. Therefore, the last time he had eaten before our 5:30pm dinner was 10:30am. He was hungry. And he ate a lot.

After dinner, we all took a walk to see the skeletons down the street. It’s October, so they have new scenarios every day! Lydia, Mary, and Ammon held hands the entire time except for the very last five minutes of our walk. I think they all enjoyed each other.

“Creep it real.”

Then I incentivized each child separately to get to bed as fast as possible. Even though we got back from the walk after 7pm, the kids were all in bed by 7:40pm. That was good news because I had a ton of back-blogging to do.

Escape to the grocery store

On Wednesday I was too tired to do Lydia’s harp in the morning, so we spent an hour and a half after school tackling that. I felt really patient though! I think that Mammoth Hot Springs hike was very instructive. I have a reference point for My Best Self, and it helps to be able to access that when Lydia is throwing tantrums at the harp.

After her tantrum, I needed to get away though. So while Lydia did homework, I took the other kids to the store for stuff to complement the soup I made for dinner. I didn’t really need to get other stuff, but I really did need to get away. Abe met me at the store and watched the kids in the car while I went inside and bought who-even-knows what. After that time in the store, it was way past dinner time, but I was feeling happy again.

Sadly, I totally forgot that on Wednesdays my mom has an eating deadline because she goes to Institute. By the time dinner was ready, she had to leave. But the rest of us ate a TON of food because we were starved, and after that we hustled the kids to bed. I went to bed early while Abe stayed up and worked into the wee hours to catch up after our trip.

Trip clean-up

We returned home on Tuesday. The biggest stop en route was in Rexburg. That’s where Clarissa woke up, so we pulled off and tried to stop by the Teton Flood Museum. Elder Eyring mentions the Teton Flood in some of his General Conference talks, and we thought going to the museum would be great. It turns out the museum is closed Tues-Thurs, and it’s only open for a total of 12 hours a week.

Oh, well. It was right by a big lawn, and Abe and the kids had a fantastic time running around while I changed and nursed Clarissa. After we went around the corner to Great Harvest. They sold me a sandwich with rotten avocado. It was disgusting, but by the time we discovered it we were on the highway. I called to let them know the situation so that they didn’t accidentally poison their other patrons.

When we got home, Abe worked like crazy to clean the car. He was so sweet. He knew I didn’t really want to go on the trip, and he made sure that everything wasn’t ruined by the trip. After his work, the laundry was done, the car was clean and vacuumed, and you barely knew we had left on a trip. I would have helped more had Clarissa not been so needy. She was tired of being in her carseat and wanted to be held a lot.

Abe also had the most fun with the girls he has ever had. They played “cat and bird,” where Abe was the cat, Mary was the baby bird, and Lydia was the mama bird. Lydia’s job was to drop basketballs on Abe whenever Abe tried to snatch Mary, her baby bird. Abe was so relaxed from the trip that he was able to really pretend he was a cat, and he has never had so much fun playing with the kids–and he plays with them a lot, so I think that is saying something.

Yellowstone North Loop

On Monday we left the condo as soon as the kids woke up and hit the grocery store for breakfast. After that, we entered Yellowstone! This is our fourth family trip to Yellowstone, and we have never done the North Loop in previous trips. We fixed that this time.

First we headed to Canyon Village where we got hike suggestions, rented bear spray, procured lunch, and used the restrooms.

Then we drove to Tower Falls for a very short walk to the falls.

Abe loved Clarissa in her bear suit and posed her on this bench. He hid behind her as we tried to get pictures that made it look like there was a pink bear on a log all by herself.

After the falls, we drove to the Lamar Valley and took a lovely short hike in the valley. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me, and it is certainly the place where we took the most pictures. If my groin weren’t still strained, we would have hiked a lot longer. It was just such a wonderful, expansive, soul-liberating setting.

After the Lamar Valley we drove to Mammoth Hot Springs. Our phone died so we did not get any pictures at the springs.

On the way, all of the kids fell asleep, and Lydia woke up very sad from her nap. She sobbed the entire time we walked around the springs. This was the biggest highlight of the trip for me personally because, for whatever reason, I felt infinite patience, love, and peppy-ness that I almost always feel too depleted to access. I took her and Mary’s hands, and I was my best-Mama self the whole time. It was a revelatory experience for me  because I glimpsed what I want to be capable of on a daily basis. I saw what I am capable of giving to my children, and it made me long to actualize and become this best version of myself all of the time. It had been so long since I have been my best self that I actually did not even know this person existed inside of me.

However, my best self disappeared afterward when the girls loaded me up like a coatrack before they peed in the restrooms, and when I reached to flush after Mary peed, one of her mittens fell in the potty. I snatched it up, but it was soaked and I decided to throw it and its match away. I couldn’t handle the idea of toting home all of those public-toilet germs.

Mary threw a huge tantrum and I was not patient. That was sad.

And then on the ride home Ammon threw up everywhere. Clarissa was screaming bloody murder the whole time, so when we stopped to clean up Ammon, I had to nurse Clarissa and Abe was left to clean it all up. Bless him.

But it was, all in all, a wonderful day. We love Yellowstone, and Abe and I both felt transformed from different parts of the trip.

Leaving for Yellowstone

Karin, Abe’s mom, snagged a great deal on a condo by Yellowstone and wasn’t able to use it, so she passed it on to us. It came at the end of Abe’s quarter, and he was dying for a trip to reset himself after all of the work stress. Even though I had my initial reservations about the trip, I could tell Abe really needed a getaway.

The condo was reserved from Sunday through Tuesday, so we left at 10am on Sunday, just as Conference was starting. We listened in the car and drove like crazy so as to miss the Conference crowds on the I-15 when it ended. We sailed past Salt Lake with plenty of time and did not stop until we were sure we had outpaced the crowds.

The drive up to Yellowstone was beautiful. The colors are changing, and the route is so pleasant.

However, when we got to the condo, we encountered three surprises that had me wanting to head straight back home.

The first thing I discovered in the condo was that I was on my period. I could not believe it. Normally my body is aggressively fertile, even when I am nursing, but this was a new level of ridiculous. I felt like my body was trying to kill me!   Clarissa has not had one drop of formula and she is not even six weeks old–and I am on my period. It felt so wrong and unfair.

Right after that discovery, I moodily headed to the kitchen to feed everyone dinner (Ramen), and as the kids were eating Abe came in and said he thought we were having an earthquake. The floor was shaking, and so the girls and I crawled under the heavy oak table. I was holding Ammon by the ankles while he tried every which way to escape while Abe went to get Clarissa off the bed.

Just then the front desk called and we found out that we were above the laundry room with giant machines that shake the floors. By that point, Lydia was sobbing with fright, Mary was singing a little Daniel Tiger song to herself about “taking your grown-up’s hand and everything will be okay,” and Ammon was running around like crazy because he was so relieved to be free. (We learned that in a real earthquake, I will just have to lie on top of Ammon because there is no other way to keep him down.)

The next thing we knew, someone was banging on the door. I was tired and stressed and half dressed from nursing Clarissa, and when I opened the door I met a very angry downstairs neighbor who wanted to know if we were playing football in our condo. I was so out of it that I said all of the wrong things (totally unintentionally) and the neighbor probably thought I was both a brat and an idiot. She left and after that we didn’t allow Ammon to touch the floor for the next three days. We just carried him everywhere, and the girls learned to tiptoe and whisper.

Abe relieved things by taking the kids swimming, after which we put everyone down. I went to bed early and Abe sat for hours by the fire engaged in one of his favorite activities: pondering work, life, and God.

Abe had a wonderful day, and I could have had a great day too had I not been so easily stressed out by things that should not have stressed me out to the degree they did.

Ammon in his king size bed. He loved it and slept so well in it!
Dinner post-“earthquake”
The kids piled into Ammon’s bed to watch TV together.
Cable TV saved our lives this trip.