Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 2014 on FB

November 5: I just put up fall/Thanksgiving decorations in my house tonight to cheer me up because of the disappointment I felt from yesterday's Idaho election results.

November 7: Happy Birthday to my awesome, sexy, hard-working husband! Although it feels like my birthday too...because his goals for today are sleeping in (that means I got to, too!!), taking me to lunch (yay me!), and going for a drive with me (bonus!). I love you, Josh!

November 8: 4 months and 21 pounds gone!!! By this time next month, my weight should start with the number 1 instead of the number 2! I'm so close to that point and it feels so good!!

November 9: I've had the funnest weekend with people I love!!! I feel on-top-of-the-world happy!!! I just love celebrating birthdays, and am so glad that Josh has one in November! It's the perfect timing in between October and Christmas stress, and I've enjoyed every moment with him the past few days!

November 11: I enjoyed seeing the Salmon school's Veterans Day Assembly today. I am very honored to have a heritage of Veterans in my family thanks to my Grandpa P, my Dad, and my brother Cody!

November 16: Today was the twins' last primary program. They weren't too excited about doing it, but Kanyon sure was, and he did a great job with his part: he even memorized it!

November 20: I look forward to Thursdays because I know I will be rewarded at the end of each exhausting, busy school week on Thursday night when I watch "Parenthood" from the comfort of my bed. I'm so saddened and disappointed and dismayed that this is its farewell season!!! 

November 21: I made a goal a few weeks ago to finish my current college class before Thanksgiving. So every day for the last two weeks after working all day at school, I've come home, made dinner, and worked 3-4 solid hours each night on my college class. It's been so exhausting, and not fun, but very worth it because I just took my final and passed with a 97%!! And now I am going to reward myself with an ENTIRE week OFF from college work! YAY!!!

November 26: Feasts were abound at school today in honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. We had one in morning and afternoon Kindergarten class, and I got to help with Kanyon's 2nd grade one too!

November 27: Happy Thanksgiving! I'm so thankful that I'll be able to spend the day with my family. Utah, here we come!

November 28: Today was my grandma's last day on earth. She taught me to play lots of classic card games (like King's Corner). I learned to like herbal tea because of her. She was skilled at creating beautiful crochet pieces, and always lovingly gave her creations away (dolls, pillowcases, blankets). I am blessed because of her service and love, and I will miss her, but I am glad to know that she is now pain-free and finally reunited with the love of her life.

November 30: Ammon told me yesterday that this was "the Best Thanksgiving ever!". I have to agree: I enjoyed spending fun time with my siblings, eating my mom's delicious food, going shopping with my husband on Friday, attending the temple, and then going out for a movie with my boys last night. It has definitely been an awesome Thanksgiving weekend, and I'm kind of bummed that it's over!

Jack-o-Lantern Look-Alike

Accidents are common in a house full of boys.

I feel like we are pretty blessed, because for as many accidents that the boys have, we don't have more visits to the hospital E.R. We tend to have a lot more physical damage done to property than bodily harm done to the boys. 

But this wasn't the case on October 22, when an accident happened at school, with the results being permanent damage done to Kanyon's sweet face.  

He was running at recess, playing tag with his friends on the Big Toy. Up until that day, he'd played basketball every recess, trying to improve his skills. But on this particular day, he wanted to do something different. When he was running around, he tripped, and hit his mouth on the slide, and his tooth broke. His permanent, front tooth. 

Of course it happened on a day when neither his parents nor his grandparents were around; we had all gone to Challis to watch Ammon's district cross country race. I was just arriving in Challis when the secretary from our elementary school called and told me what had happened. The tooth had a clean break, but it broke very close to his gums, at a slanting angle, and about half of his tooth was gone. I talked to him on the phone, and he said it only hurt when he breathed, which made Josh and I worry that there was nerve damage. Since nobody was around to come pick him up from school, he said he was fine to wait the 2 hours until the school day was over. 

I wish this was a better, clearer photo of the dental damage--
I took it with my cell phone after I got home from Challis.
The next morning, we took him to the dentist. He had an x-ray done, and it showed there was no nerve damage. A few days later, he had a filling done on the tooth, but when they drilled some of his tooth away to make a rough edge for the filling to stick to, they said it touched a nerve. Because of this, his tooth might eventually die, which makes me sad.

I'm glad that the dentist was able to fix it, but I'm sad that his sweet little smile is forever changed. I'm bummed out that his year-old permanent tooth is already broken, especially since it's his most noticeable tooth in front, too!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Frozen, Dead, Thawed, and Displayed

That's the exact process we used to gather bugs for Kanyon's 2nd grade Insect Collection that was due in October. Thankfully, we've done this project before, so we knew what to expect. And since we now have 3 experienced bug catchers in the family, guess who helped Kanyon find all the bugs for his collection?!! I was super happy that his older brothers volunteered to help him! Jonah and Micah were great bug catchers, and Kanyon was so happy to have people interested in joining him on the insect-hunt! I only had to help him one day, when we put it all together on the display board. Kanyon typed up all the insect labels himself, cut them out, and glued them onto the board. I used the cricut machine to make large cut-out bug shapes and his name, and then carefully pinned all the insects onto the board for him. Then the final part of the project was writing about the insects he caught, which he completed on his own. It was a fairly simple project this time--unlike last time when we were doing two collections at the same time when the twins were in 2nd grade! (click here to see TWINS and AMMONS bug projects

His favorite bug was the red velvet ant, which we found one day walking across our driveway. He liked that it felt furry and soft on the top of its body, and he even made a replica of it at school using art supplies!

He was very proud of his completed project, and he earned a grade of 100% on it from his teacher.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pumpkin Pride

This was our family's 6th year growing a pumpkin patch, and it was the most successful one we've ever had. After experimenting with seed varieties each year, I think we finally found the perfect combination that both works well in our soil and is what the customers like and want. We grew less kinds of variety this year, and planted more of what's been most popular in years past. We had one row of orange jack-be-littles, one row of Gyant Hybrid, and ten rows of Connecticut Field (we didn't grow any blue ones this year, though, even though we had requests for them). Then in our neighbor Frank's garden plot, we planted white jack-be-littles and White Moon pumpkins--which turned out to be the best white ones we've ever planted: they were big, perfectly round, and there was no mold issues with that breed. 

As the boys have gotten older, the work load has become less for Josh and I during the summer months: Ammon rototilled the dirt, and the other boys did a great job weeding on their own. But with age also comes extra opportunities, and the patch has become more challenging for us to work at in the fall due to their increasing sports schedules: it took us about 10 days in September to cut and move all the pumpkins into storage, and the pumpkin patch is open for 6 days in October for the sales days. It was tricky for us to get everything done in the patch this fall with Ammon's cross country and Jonah & Micah's football schedules. As a result, we decided this was our final year. This was a difficult decision to make, but we know it is a necessary one.

We opened up for business on Friday, October 10, and the patch was open the rest of the Fridays and Saturdays in October. I took Thursday the 9th off of work all day to get the whole patch prepared because there wasn't any time to do it; it took me 8 hours to get it all set up! The boys had all helped me on Wednesday night getting the hay-bale maze ready, and I'm so glad, because with their help, we were all able to get it done in 2 hours. If I'd had to do it myself on Thursday, it would've taken me 3 times as long!!

For every day that we were open, we pulled two trailers full of pumpkins out of storage to place in the patch. This system worked out great last year, so we did it again this year--it helps cut down on the pumpkins being exposed to weather. Except this year, we started with over 750 big pumpkins and we had to be creative with our storage!! We've never grown that many large pumpkins in one year before! We put 200 in our bike shed, 200 in the calving shed, 200 in the backside door of the calving shed, and the rest went into Grandpa T.'s shop.

Every year, I like to add one new/different thing in the patch. This year, I added a stomping game. You put a bean bag on the wooden plank, stomp the other end, and try to make the bean bags land on the colored pumpkin board to make the design of a jack-o-lantern face. This required minimal work from me to purchase/paint/and set it up, which was nice, and I also liked having something new for our returning customers.

Last year we added the pumpkin cemetery, and it was so popular that we did it again this year. It amazes me how many people like to look at the rotting pumpkins in the cemetery and take pictures by it!

We also had the cinderella pumpkin carriage photo booth again... well as the jack-o-lantern bean bag toss. It required a fresh paint job this year, which took me just over an hour to do on Thursday afternoon. 

I got a few strawbales and set up a group photo area in front of the cornstalks, which was nicely staged right in front of the fall foliage on the large trees in Kathy's yard. 

We bought orange shirts and hats last year for the boys to wear on sale days. But this year there was only one day in October where they were actually all helping at the same time; the twins were gone to football two of the six sale days, and Ammon had cross country practice and hunting and his mowing job and was hardly able to help out in the patch this fall. 

Kanyon turned out to be the biggest and best help on sale days this year! He was courteous, loyal to the customers, very helpful, and worked hard pushing the wheelbarrows around. We were all so impressed with him! In years past, he's usually just come down once in a while to the patch when his friends were here, but he was in the patch all 6 days, and he was an awesome worker!

Sometimes when it got slow, Kanyon and the twins would go and play in/on the hay bale maze that Edward built next to the pumpkin patch. Edward has done this for us for five years now, and this was the biggest one he's built yet. It had 5 rows and was very long. Lots of customers enjoyed running through/playing in the maze when they came out to the patch, and it has become very popular!

The haybale maze has a spider theme, and every year I add more spiders to the collection that we place in/on the bales. The favorite one that delights the youngsters is the "mommy spider". We hid her in a dead-end this year, and when she is touched, she laughs like a witch and vibrates. I always enjoyed hearing shrieks and screams from people when they found her!

The weather was awesome for the first two weekends of our sale days, and we were so blessed to have such beautiful weather! We were open from 11-5, so when the weather is miserable, 6 hours of straight sitting outside can be miserable. But when the weather is nice, it means we have lots of customers, and it's also a delight to be outdoors and enjoy the gorgeous fall surroundings on the ranch.

At the end of each Saturday night, we loaded up the leftover pumpkins from the patch into our enclosed cargo trailer for the week to protect them from the weather in case we had freezing temperatures, and then we placed them back in the field each Friday morning. This system worked out great--I wish we would've thought to do it before this year! The only drawback was if we had special visitors midweek, like for example one Sunday afternoon my parents and sister Trina and her new husband Dan came to visit us. We took them down to the patch, and they walked around the maze, played games, and then picked their pumpkins out of the trailer (which isn't quite as fun)!

We stayed pretty busy the first two weekends, and by the beginning of the 3rd weekend, we worried that we were going to run out of pumpkins--which we actually did halfway through our final sale day. That's never happened before! We didn't have one single extra pumpkin left (good thing the boys had already picked out their own pumpkins to carve!), and we closed down about 2:00 that day. 

Since Kanyon has finally become SO good at growing and selling pumpkins (unfortunately just in time for our last sale year), we have worked out plans for him to do it again next year--but in a different way. The Sacajawea Center began having a fall festival this year, and they purchased a truck-full of pumpkins from us to sell at it. Next year, we will plant just a few rows of pumpkins, and then take them ourselves to the Sac Center where Kanyon will be the salesman and earn the proceeds from it. This makes it feel like the patch closing is not so final, and also gives him a job to work towards, too. I feel confident that this is the right plan for everyone!
One of my favorite pumpkins we grew this year
was a large, white pumpkin shaped like a pear!
I will miss the pumpkin patch, and many of our customers have expressed similar thoughts and feelings! The pumpkin patch has been a good project for our family: it has taught the boys to work together, to save money, and to be self-sufficient. And although it is sad that this phase of our lives is ending, we know that teaching our kids the value of work is a treasure that will last a lifetime.  
Another one of my favorites from this year's crop:
the butt crack with a bulging top

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Like father, Like son

When Josh was a freshman in high school, he ran cross country. He has fond memories of being a member of the XC team that year--because the years following that, he was the team manager instead of a runner.

The above photo came from his high school yearbook. His coach took a whole bunch of pictures when they ran at the Wood River meet and submitted them to the yearbook. I'm so grateful for these pictures, because they were taken of Josh as a runner before the accident on October 11, 1991 that paralyzed his vocal chords.   

During homecoming week of his freshman year, he wanted to go to the Powder Puff football game, but he needed to finish his chores on the ranch before he could go. He needed to change some pipe, and he was in a hurry to get it done so he could go to the homecoming festivities. His dad had put up a single-line barb-wire fence that day in the field to keep some pasturing cows contained. Josh was driving his motorcycle fast across the field, heading west to get to the pipe line, which was straight into the setting sun, and he didn't see the barbed line. The single strand hit his upper arm first, then bounced up to his neck, and he was thrown off the motorcycle. Some neighbors were hunting in the field at the time and saw him laying in the field, choking for air. There was no exterior wounds on his neck at the time, but they knew it was serious and they took him directly to the hospital in Salmon. From there, he was life-flighted to Missoula where an emergency tracheotomy was performed, and then he was flown to Seattle Children's Hospital where another (better and corrective) tracheotomy was done, as well as inserting a plate and screws in his neck for a broken vertebrae. He stayed at that hospital for almost 2 months recovering from the surgeries were performed. He came home at Thanksgiving, with lots of scars, a hole in his neck where the trach tube was attached, and he was wearing a back brace. He couldn't talk without covering the hole, and breathing was now difficult (he compares it to breathing through a straw), so running was totally out of the question after that. 

Josh has never stopped loving to run. As an adult, he knows his physical limitations, but he pushes those limits and doesn't let his disabilities stop him. He coached cross country for years after we moved back to Salmon, and often ran practices with the kids and even ran in a few coach races for the fun of it. Now that our oldest son is a cross country runner, Josh has loved watching him excel in the sport that he was unable to.

Ammon is a freshman this year in high school, and this is his 3rd year running Cross Country. He loves running with the team, and he looks up to the older runners who are positive role models. Halfway through his cross country season this year, he also got injured. The second weekend of September, Josh took Ammon with him to go help move furniture for some people in our ward. They were moving a dryer upstairs from a basement. Ammon was at the front of the dryer, walking backwards up the steps, and Josh was pushing it up from behind. Ammon tripped going up a step, and the dryer landed on his knee. Josh worked to get the dryer off as fast as possible, but the damage had already been done. Ammon was in a lot of pain, and when they got home, he instantly iced it and elevated it. He thought perhaps his knee had just been bruised, so he continued to run at practice every day, but the pain in his knee got worse and he began running slower and slower. He ran in a few meets with the pain, but instead of being at the front of the pack like he started out the season, he was now running at the back of the pack, which was frustrating for him. 
Ammon is on the far left--notice his left knee is wrapped.
We wrapped it with heat tape in an effort to lessen the pain; it didn't work.
I worried that he had a broken bone, or damaged cartilage, so I finally convinced him that he needed to see a doctor. Josh took him to an appointment one afternoon at the beginning of October, and the Dr. said he had tendonitis in the knee. She recommended that Ammon keep it elevated and iced (which he was doing faithfully already), and we scheduled an appointment to have an ultrasound done at the physical therapy office, because she said it would help break up the tendonitis faster. When homecoming arrived the second week of October (the same week as in the year of Josh's accident), the cross country team had a bye week. It was good for Ammon to rest his knee from the strains of racing, and his knee finally began to improve. 

I thought retrospectively many times that week about Ammon's situation and how it compared to Josh's experience 23 years ago. When I drove Ammon to the Powder Puff game, I thought about how quickly Josh's life changed in that one night. When I went to the football game on Friday night and saw Ammon walking around with his friends, I thought about how Josh was in a hospital hundreds of miles away during his homecoming football game. And when I picked Ammon up from cross country practice at the end of the week, I thought about how Ammon's freshman cross country season was similar to Josh's, but the endings were much different: 

Josh ran cross country his freshman year, and so did Ammon.
Josh liked running and was good at it, and so was Ammon.
Josh got injured during the cross country season, and so did Ammon.
Ammon got better and finished out the season strong, but Josh was unable to.

Ammon's team with their 1st place trophy at the District race
And, speaking from the point of view as the mother in this story, I'm glad Ammon had a happy ending.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

tackling and playing with heart and soul

Jonah and Micah played organized football for the first time this year. They've been looking forward to it for years and were happy to finally be old enough to! They started practicing the middle of August, and worked hard running and learning moves every day at practice. It turned out to be a lot harder than they anticipated, and it was a rough season. Our youth football organization joined a new league this year, and our teams were placed in a higher division with teams from much larger schools and communities. The other teams have much more experience, and larger pools of players to choose from, and we struggled playing against them. We never won a game, but the boys never stopped trying! They continued to practice hard and steadily improved throughout the 2 month season. I was really proud of them for doing their best and not becoming discouraged. 

The first game was our only home game at the high school field.  Jonah kicked off the opening kick!

Jonah was #74, and Micah's was #63. During the season, Jonah played positions of Tide End, Defensive End, and Kicker. Micah was also a Tide End and was the back-up Defensive End.

Look at all those 5th grade boys!
All of their games were on Saturdays in September and October. The second game was in Idaho Falls. The team we played against this week wasn't very nice, and our boys had only two good plays: both of which the ref blew the whistle on. The boys never stopped giving their all, but we lost by a large margin and it was a disheartening game.

The third game was at Tautphus Park in Idaho Falls. This team was very rough, and we had a lot of injuries that day, but the margin of loss was less this week than the previous week.

Micah is the 2nd Salmon player from the left, and Jonah is on the right
The fourth game was the best of the season. We played at West Jefferson against Shelley. Our team made a first down (for the first time!!!), and had a good running play that almost made a touchdown. Then, they actually DID score a touchdown for the first time! We were all SOOO excited!!! It was awesome, and the team was so pumped! We lost the game, but you would never have guessed from how happy we all were!


The fifth game was against Rigby. They had a very large team--both in stature and team size. Two of their players were as tall as the refs. I found it hard to believe that they were truly in 5th grade!! The boys had lots of good tackles, despite the size difference, and I was so proud of them! Jonah and Micah played so well in this game!
Jonah tackled the quarterback of the other team!

The sixth and final game was in West Jefferson again. Josh and I were both unable to go, because of the pumpkin patch. Josh's parents thankfully took them to the game for us. We were so glad to have the season done--after two months of practicing and driving to games, it was nice to see it end. Jonah really liked playing football, but Micah decided he didn't like it so much. Both of them have talked about running Cross Country next year instead to see which sport they'd rather participate in for future fall sports.