Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Great Falls Park

Today was supposed to be beach day. However, after realizing that this would include a 7 hour roundtrip drive, it quickly got booted from the plans. We opted instead, to go to the Great Falls State park. The falls were pretty cool. What wasn't so cool was the brown polluted foam that had accumulated in the eddies. I guess when people have thrown trash and waste into a river for the past 200+ years, you're bound to see the effects.
I signed up for packing a picnic lunch. Turns out, making sandwiches for 20 people can be a daunting task. Luckily I had my great helper Winter.One of the lookouts has some fun rocks for the kids to climb around onThe whole group. Ginger was NOT cooperating at all. She either screams and cries, or does extensive posing when we try to take pictures.
Logan: 11 going on 16

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ashurst non-reunion

The Ashurst non-reunion started on Monday, when we checked into some cabins at Algonkian state park. I say non-reunion, because the family wasn't complete. My DH Joe is sadly home alone, and Mark and Kelly just moved into their first house. The cabins are located right next to the Potomac river, which is the worst polluted river I've ever seen in my life. The larger cabin had a great living room/kitchen in the middle that was great for gathering with family. We had pancake breakfasts, pirate ship building, movie watching, chatting and other gathering going on there all week.

Algonkian park has a small waterpark that we spent a lot of time in. The kids went on the slides over, and over, and over again. There was also a great shallow area for non-swimmers and a large splash area. Having 3 kids that all know how to swim, made this a much easier experience. It's so nice to send off my kids, without worrying too much. When we are not at the waterpark, we're just chilling at the cabins. The large cabin has a wrap around porch that apparently is great for running and chasing.
Jesse and Winter
Isaiah, Haley, Ginger
Haley, Ginger
Jesse, Ginger
Winter, Naomi
Naughty Boys

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday morning activities

When church doesn't start until 1pm, with 6 kids under 7 running around, the best thing is to divide and conquer. At one point this is what the following people were doing:

Nancy: bathing little kids
Mom: last minute ironing
Naomi: computer time
Richard: computer time
Dad: reading stories to Ginger
Jessica: rolling out tortilla dough
Sterling: wigging out in front of TV
Winter: time-out

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Trust the GPS

The racquetball courts were calling my name. A 5 minutes drive, and a kidless hour was all that stood between me and some great exercise time. The first solution Richard and I came up with, was to go before the children wake up. This means EARLY! We left at 6am, but apparently no one else like to get up that early on a Saturday morning to work out. The gym was closed!! Of course we couldn't let this setback waste our early waking efforts. So we jumped on some bikes and took off. Richard informed me that there would be a big downhill, and then we could get on a nice biking trail. So we went down a hill, and I thought: this isn't too much of a problem. However, it wasn't until we reached the next huge hill that he informed me this was the hill he had referenced earlier. By this time my butt and legs were burning from last night's Wii fit, so I made the executive choice to turn around. This pathetic little bike ride was enough for my out of shape behind!

We ended up getting back before any of the kids had even gotten out of bed! I sat around like a zombie for a while, until Nancy came up with the idea to take the kids with me to the gym. I wish we could have though of that earlier! Nancy wanted to get some kidless cleaning time in anyways (mom was arriving later), so this was the perfect solution. We got to play racquetball, and she got to clean without kids. The poor nursery lady didn't know what was coming for her: 6 kids at once. And this wasn't one of those super nice/big kid areas in the monster gyms, there was only 1 kid in there before we got there.

Things like racquetball are my favorite kind of workouts. During the workout, you aren't thinking about how tired you are, only about how you want to win. This applies to things like dancing too, where you are just having fun. Treadmills and elipticle machines just make me feel like a hamster. After 3 good games, I was already trying to plan the next time we could come back!

The day was flying by fast, and we still had a lot to do. We needed to pick up the grandmas (mom and great grandma) from the airport, and make signs to welcome them. I left the signmaking up to Ruth, and jumped in the shower. By the time I got out, it was time to leave. We all piled into 2 cars. All of a sudden (after a while), I looked to my right, and there it was: the Pentagon. I guess important sites like that are all over the place here, I just didn't expect to see it.

Great grandma was going to her daughter Nancy's (I'll refer to her as Nancy W) house for the week, so we made the drop. The kids promplty started playing with her son Christopher (10). Any time my kids are playing contently, without fighting, or whining, I try to milk that moment as long as possible (see park post). The others were ready to get back to Nancy's for some downtime, so the kids and I decided to stay longer and play.

My kids got introduced to Wii. Winter turns out to be a great bowler. Sterling and Ginger hold their own in golf. I wish I could have gotten some video or picture, but we had planned to just go to the airport and back, so I didn't want to lug my backpack around. When Ginger plays golf, it really looks more like the hitting a baseball bat.

Nancy W's community pool is the social hangout. Her kids do swim team there, and stay to play the rest of the day. Nancy W has 2 boys, and we didn't come prepared for swimming, so she magically assembled several swimsuits for my girls to choose from. She even had a swimsuit for me. (more tropical/flowery than I'm used to, but it fit) I cherish these times of happy play. It sure beats fighting/bickering/roughhousing/boredom.

I wasn't prepared for the drive home. The GPS was my only way to navigate, I didn't have my cell phone, or my wallet. It started out okay, but soon I got to a road that was a "pike". In Dallas the pike is a toll road, and like I said, I didn't have my wallet. So I decided to go a different route -not the "toll road". Turns out, the toll road is exaclty where I ended up. The sign said: Dulles Airport - no toll. I guess this road was parallel to the toll road, and is only supposed to be used my airport passengers and businesses. This also means I wasn't able to take the exit I wanted, because this road only led to the airport.

The gas empty light came on. Oh cr*p. I'm still miles away from home, lost, no phone, and now out of gas. I figured, at this point, I should stop deciding my own route, and trust the GPS instead. I finally did make it home, a half an hour later, and running on fumes. Lesson learned: if a GPS is your only navigating guide, in a strange city, without a phone or money, trust the GPS. Even better: don't leave the house without your phone or wallet!

drive back, get lost with GPS, out of gas

quote sterling: grandma, you missed the reunion

Mii like the Wii

Must find some way, some how to earn money to buy a Wii!

The Worths have a Wii, including a Wii fit. Wii sports alone is a cool way to get some exercise, but when you add the fit, it is "awesome" (in a Brooks voice). I have always been somewhat of a video game fanatic, so might as well put that enthusiasm towards a video game that makes me squeeze my bum, flex my biceps, and get my heart rate up.

Richard's gym has a raquetball court, so we were going to get up before all the kids do (iow crazy early), and play a few games. Unfortunately the gym wasn't open at 6am on a Saturday -go figure. Instead we did a quick bike ride. It was quicker than expected, because my butt and thighs were still tired froms last night's Wii lunges.

Now I just have to find some time to make up for lost sleep!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Branches and Squirrels

We got off to a slow start today. Both Pooch and Asher needed haircuts, and while I had the scissors out anyways, and the floor was a mess, I cut Winter's hair too. We found out about a fun playground online last night, so we got the kids out there. The weather is just so pleasant here. After 105 degree weather in Texas, 89 feels great!
The main reason this playground was so fabulous, is that there was a ton of shade. Also, great benches in the shade to watch the kids play. We didn't even loose any of them! We also went on a little stroll down a path in the woods. The kids played in the creek, and found a frog.
After a sack lunch, the little kids were getting ready for their naps, so Nancy and Ruth took the them back to the house, while the bigger kids played some more. At first they were just playing on the play equipment, but they were soon occupied with pulling leaves off trees. Winter, Sterling, and Naomi made some new friends, and one of the girls was lifting up all the kids to try and reach. Until Sterling found the best spot for pulling them off: a picnic table. So the kids lined up on the table, and took turns jumping for the branch. Nature can give so much entertainment!!

A squirrel gave them entertainment for the next 30 minutes. By now, 9 kids had assembled. I guess the kids had found some skittles on the ground,and thought the squirrel might like to eat them. They tried to feed it, by chasing it around and giving it the skittles. Obviously the squirrel didn't quite understand the kids were trying to feed it, versus chasing it to kill it! Watching the kids with their arms up in the air, with skittles in their hands, was pretty hilarious. Unfortunately Ruth had taken my camera home, so I didn't get a photo of it. They finally got a clue that the squirrel might be scared, and decided to make a pile of food instead. Amazingly, the squirrel wasn't scared to death enough, and actually came over to eat it. Wonderful nature!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Air and Space Museum

Turns out, going to bed after midnight, and getting up before 7, makes me tired. I'm used to going to bed after midnight, but at home I get to sleep in until 9am. See, the kids just sneak up, turn on the TV, and watch cartoons until I finally rise from the dead. Being at someone elses home, I feel a little more responsible for my kids, and making sure someone else doesn't end up taking care of them. Therefor, I feel the need to get out of bed when they do. I might just set an alarm for 8am in the future, and tell them not to get out of our room before that! Or, I could do the more responsible thing, and just go to bed at 10pm next time. But oh, how I enjoy my alone time at night!!

Virginia is a great place for fun activities. The Smithsonian Air and Space museum is a quick 15 minute drive from Nancy's house. It truly is amazing to see all the different types of airplanes. Some are little, some a big. Some are sleek, others bulky. Some are fast, and some are slow. Not one of them is like another. Don't ask me why, go ask your mother. Wait.... that's Dr Zeuss.
Winter was begging me to use my camera, and had a lot of fun snapping away at all the fun exhibits. I took this opportunity to teach her a bit about focus and zooming. We all got tired out after just over an hour, and headed back to the house. Then, the kids splashed around in the pool, built sandcastles in the sandbox, and flew to the sky on the swings.On a side note: A big advantage of cable is the availability of programs that regular TV doesn't cover. Tour de France is one of those. My opa Valk always watched this when I was little, so it brings back some good memories.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jungle golf

We went to the most elaborate miniature golf course I've ever seen. This adventure golf course was jungle themed, and had some scary parts. Nancy's kids were so scared, that they left crying. (she consequently gave us their rainchecks) Ginger eyed the swinging monkeys, tarzan, tombs, and aligators with some extra attention.Since we weren't going for the best score, it was funny to watch the kids hit the ball over and over. Also, Ginger would hit it once, then pick it up from wherever it landed, and move it within 3 inches of the hole, and then putt it. Thanks Nancy, for a great adventure.


We survived the 26 hours on the road! We left Monday morning around 7am, and made it to Nashville by 9pm. It turns out that with a trailer, 3 kids, and lots of potty brakes, 10 hours turns into 14. Luckily we enjoyed the benefits of 2 DVD players. Both of them were set up in the Jeep, with 2 kids watching 2 different movies. Then, the 3rd kids, was in Ruthie's car, which was following us. Ruth's car was the napping/chatting car. It gave the kids a brake from each other, and me too I guess. It wasn't until the last 15 minutes of the trip, last night, that I truly realized how lucky we were to have those DVD players. The kids just started bickering, asking millions of questions, and overall being very annoying.

After the kids went to bed, we stayed up chatting, and pulled out the Wii. I have always been fascinated with the Wii, but have never actually played it. I have repeatedly tried to convince Joe to let me buy one, and get the Wii fit attachment. After even just playing boxing, golf, and tennis, I can see I can get plenty of exercise in with just the regular games. Then, just imagine how buff and awesome I would look if I could do Wii fit.

This morning we unloaded the trailer at the storage unit, and now the kids are split up in various rooms, so we can have a little peace and downtime. Sterling is sleeping in his little "nest" in the laundry room with his flashlight, he's happy as a clam!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Road trip

There were a bunch of things I wanted to blog about, but my list is gone. I rely on lists a lot, it gives my brain a break. So, instead, I'll just start fresh again, and maybe catch up on those other things if the list ever materializes.

The kids and I are getting ready for a long road trip. Joe's grandma Benac is having a family reunion in DC. We weren't gonna go, but Liz convinced me and the kids to tag along with dad. Should be interesting: 22 hours of driving in 2 days. Luckily we have 2 DVD players, and lots of movies.

I have been kind of weird when it comes to this trip. We are going to Joe's parents house this afternoon, we still have church, and I haven't packed a thing! I do have my list of things to pack, and I won't have to clean the house, since Joe will be home, but still. I guess I'll just throw everything in bags after church, checking things off my list, and hope I didn't forget anything.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Ever since my miscarriage, my body has been out of wack. I haven't had a regular period yet, and it's now 10 weeks later. I had a kind of sort of really light one over a month ago, and since I hadn't started again, I was hoping/thinking I might be pregnant again. Well.... remember the plus sign last time.... this time it's a big fat negative (BFN). This is driving me crazy!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summer Camp

Today we dropped Winter off at Summer Camp. Camp Langston in Mt Pleasant seems like an amazing place to spend a week for any kid. Joe and I were both jealous! They have horse riding, archery, boating, super big slides, water trampolines, swimming pool, guitar lessons etc etc. The camp looks like a major operation, with camp counselors in neon-yellow shirts all over the place. I wish I could zip up there throughout the week to take some fun pictures, but since it's 2 hours away, I'll be stuck with whatever pictures Winter manages to take on her disposable camera.

I know she'll have a blast. The only thing that worries me, is whether she'll be able to get to sleep at night. At home, with the AC at 84, she moans and complains that she's too hot. At the camp, she is sleeping in a little cabin, with 11 other girls, and no AC at all. Also, on the instructions it said to bring a sleeping bag, but there was no mention of sheets. The mattresses there were covered with plastic (I guess to keep them clean in case of bed wetting), so Winter is stuck laying on a hot sleeping bag. If only I could have packed her some sheets to sleep on! At least we did bring a little fan that she can put right next to her.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wild Success

My 29th birthday party was a wild success. Wonderful friends and family gathered on our farm to celebrate this special day with me. These kind of parties are always a lot of work, but it is always worth it.
The celebration started off last night (my actual birthday). Joe took me out to see "Angels and Demons". I recently reread the book, so it was fun to compare the book to the movie. By the time we got out, and picked up the spit in downtown Dallas, it was 10pm. Good thing some restaurants have bars, so they stay open later. TGI Fridays' baby back ribs and salmon are the bomb!

Liz and Earl watched the kids, so we went to pick them up, and got chatting. Before we knew it, it was 1am. Time to hit the sack there!

The celebration continued this morning, with a lovely breakfast in bed. Sterling made a wonderful drawing, and everyone sang happy birthday in English and Dutch. Once we got back home, there was a lot of work to be done before the party could get started.

Number 1 priority: kill the goat, and get it on the spit. One of the missionaries from our ward was super excited to slit the goat's throat, so they came over for a little while to prepare it. While Joe and 1 missionary were taking care of that, me and the other missionary were taking care of the lawn. I was on the riding mower, and since it had been a few weeks since we moved, there were a lot of grass clippings all over. The missionary was nice enough to run this humongous industrial vacuum over the lawn, and collect all the clippings.

Once the lawn was done and the goat was roasting on the spit, things settled down for a bit. It was nice to get a nap in, before the crowds started to arrive. It was so great to have all my friends and family here, to celebrate with me. Everyone brought all kinds of yummy food, and snacks.Of course the pool was the main attraction, and with so many adults, we got the volleyball net out. We had a good game going, with 4 on 4. Grandma even got in on the action!For some reason, when a lot of people get together, someone always ends up swimming in the lake. This time it was Joe, Brooks, Tucker, and Bailey. They ran off the dock as fast as possible, and still landed in the middle of the algae/weeds/muck. I think that if we wouldn't have a pool, we would keep that lake cleared of algae, so it would be better for swimming. But, hey, like I said before, who wants to swim in a mucky lake, when you have a sparkly pool?The goat was delicious! I think it was even better on the spit, than how we cooked the last one in the oven. the Morphises brought all the fixings for gyro sandwiches, which just complemented the goat so well. Then, there were yummy salads, and of course lots of chocolate dessert. Liz knows what I like!As it was getting dark, we had to pry the kids out of the pool and into cars. It was sad to see everyone leave again, but at the same time, I realized what a great success this party was. Thanks Joe! (and everyone else who contributed)Ginger, Baily, Winter, and Riley Gangstas of the Texas back country

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Building friendships

Tuesday we went down to Wylie to help Katy move into a new house. The kids were having a lot of fun, as they always do with their 'cousins'. We decided to swap kids, so I left Winter at their house, and took Grace home with us. Grace and Sterling are bestest buddies, despite their 3 year age difference. Whenever we all get together, they always end up playing together.

As a host, I've been trying to do extra fun stuff, so Grace can have fun memories of her time here. Yesterday we swam for hours, and then Sterling and Grace spent a few hours outside with the kittens. Then, they watched a movie, and even got to keep watching while they ate their dinner. Last night, they collected rocks, so they could paint them today. I don't do crafts with kids nearly as much as I should. I think it might have been Gingers first time, because she was freaking out when a little paint got on her finger. She got over it pretty quickly though.It's amazing how much more quiet it has been too. It seems like Winter and Sterling are always arguing, or whining. S&G played in Sterling's room for hours, building bionicles. What great friends they are!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fight for your food

If you never feed your cat, and then come out with beggin strips, she WILL try to eat your toe!
Let me explain. We have outside/barn cats, to keep the mouse population under control. Once in a while, when we have kittens, or a nursing mama, I will feed them. I ran out of my stockpile of free cat food the other day, so it had been a few days since they got any food from me. I can tell when the cats start getting hungry, because as soon as you open the back door, they just about attack you. Some make a mad dash for the door, to try and sneek in- especially the newer kittens, who don't realize they'll just get launched right back out.

So we were out swimming, and I was feeling some sympathy for those poor starving cats, so I got the only thing I have at this point: Doggy Beggin Strips. Hungry cats will eat anything, including big spiders and bugs like grasshoppers, so beggin strips are a real treat for them. I had given the mama cat a piece of "bacon", when she dropped it out of her mouth, and it fell right next to my left big toe. She reacted quickly, because if they don't, another cat will scoop it up. Except instead of biting down on the bacon, it was my juicy toe she got a hold of. Auwww! I got 2 puncture wounds; one on the top of my toe, and one on the bottom.

It is really quite funny to watch hungry cats eat. They growl and paw each other. One of these days I'll have to get that on video. It's very entertaining!

Oh, and as I was recovering from my bite, Sterling puked in the pool. Lovely.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence day weekend

Since we're not going on any long/far away trips this year, I thought it would be fun to do something local. Oklahoma is only 3 hours away, and I heard it's a nice place to go. My plans went from 1 week of camping, to 4 days, to overnight. I think if we would have gone the beginning of June, we might have survived a week. But in July, we were lucky to survive 1 night. It was just barely not too hot to get to sleep. But it was great to get out camping again. It's hard to believe it's been 2 years since we've last gone camping. My kids didn't even really remember what camping was like. I was also a little disappointed with the lack of "toughness" for all 3 of them. They kept asking me for permission to do any/everything. From going into the woods, to getting into the tent. etc.

On the way to Robbers Cave State Park, I noticed a shorted route on the map. The road seemed to be of decent size (on the map). Once we got on the road, we quickly discovered it wasn't very well-traveled. There would be stretches of horrible road with sharp drop-offs, and then a short stretch of nice road. Each time we reached the nice sections, we thought we had gotten back to the good road, only to discover that it went right back to crappy road. Once time, right after a small hill, the road turned sharply to the right. We were going about 60 when we hit the curve (as there were no slower speed signs), and it took all Joe had to keep the suburban on the road.

Another funny thing: the kids were so excited by the "mountains" in OK. They really are just hills, but I guess Texas is so flat that anything looks like a mountain to them. They'll be surprised if they ever see Utah mountains!

We arrived at the red-neck infested campground just in time to get camp setup before dark. We roasted some marshmellows, and hotdogs, and then the kids just wanted to get in the tent. They just love the tent.
The next morning we headed over to the caves. We came to this part of Oklahoma, because of the cave. Call me naive, but I was expecting a lot more. I guess I'm just used to Utah. There's really just 1 area with a bunch of rocks. The strangest thing to me was that you could totally hear the freeway while on top of the "mountain". We had fun exploring the caves and crevices though, and I really am glad we made the drive out there.Once it started to heat up, we headed to the red-neck infested lake. Carlton lake is where the local fire department does their annual fireworks show, so as time passed, even more red-necks showed up. While the kids and I swam, Joe took off mountain biking. The kids favorite part of swimming in the lake was looking into the water with their goggles, and seeing the green water. Also, jumping off the dock that was in the deep end. Maybe it's because of my old age, but I prefer swimming in a pool!

The Huber family in our ward celebrates 4th of July with a "burgers and bullets" party. It was great fun to visit with friends from our ward. Lenore, who lives in Hawaii, was also visiting, so it was fun to catch up with her. AmyJoy and Melodie's sister Julie was also there with her husband and son. It was fun to get to know her better, and I was surprised to find out that she is living in Melodie's old house, while Melodie moved back to Utah.

Lots of guns were shot, and Winter got to shoot for the first time. She was so excited, and actually did pretty good. There were also fun 4-wheelers, one of which Winter totally crashed. For a while, we weren't sure if she would be okay, but luckily her body took the fall very well. A few bruises, ice packs, and chocolates later, and she seems to be fine.
We closed our day with a humongous bonfire, and a few fireworks. What a great independence day weekend!

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