. . . I'm going to list Bella's most recent accomplishments:
1) Shampoo mess in our bathroom (blogged here)
2) Poured out all of my brother Pete eyedrops onto his deodorant, which she enthusiastically scrubbed with his toothbrush. Then proceeded to stick all of his clothes together with his toothpaste. Pete, I am SO SORRY!
3) Went to the neighbors' house to play yesterday and decided to "wipe up" their bathroom. This involves gallons of water, a bottle of handsoap, and a rag. She was so drenched when she was done that they had to change her into some of Lily's clothes before sending her home.
4) Told my Grandma Nielson (my grandpa died a few years ago), "Hey, I know you! Your boyfriend died." Tactful.
5) Used the pump bottle of conditioner to liberally spatter the entire shower, herself, and her little sister.
I'm going to start putting her to bed at 9:00 a.m.
If you've ever wondered whether dumping an entire bottle of shampoo onto the bathroom floor would make the floor really slippery and fun to slide around on, you're in good company. Because Bella was wondering that same thing. The answer is: Yes. Really, really slippery and really, really fun.
If you've ever wondered whether kneeling in said shampoo would make your pajamas yucky and bubbly and slimy, you'd also be in good company. Because Maddie was wondering the same thing, and her answer is: Yes. Really slimy, yucky, and bubbly. The only solution to this problem is to scream loudly and tattle on your sister for spilling the shampoo.
If you'd put yourself squarely in the category of people who are pretty sure that cleaning up shampoo from off the bathroom floor is the last way you'd want to spend your Sunday evening because your hypothesis is that shampoo must be scrubbed again and again and again and again because its very existence depends on its ability to create suds from practically nothing, you are ALSO in good company. Probably the best company. Because you are in my company. And our hypothesis is correct. More correct than we would have wished.
As a side note, I wish to point out that although the five heads of girl hair in this family require us to purchase shampoo in bulk in Sam's Club, I have the foresight to make my strategy one of refilling our pump bottle only about half full every time I fill it. For mitigation purposes, in case something like this happens (or in case someone decides to use the shampoo as bubble bath). I hate to brag, but there it is. #iamsobrilliant
I don't know how the rest of the moms I know manage to take such great pictures of their kids in Halloween costumes. I usually forget to take pictures at all, so it was great to have John's phone at the ready to capture our group halfway through the trick-or-treating. (Of course, I also planted us directly in front of the setting sun. Sorry if you feel blinded.)
From oldest to youngest, we have John, the Bad Doctor (he's our supervillain); me, Witchtastic (and I really wish you could see more of my awesome black-and-orange tights); Olivia, The Speedy Paintbrush; Naomi, aka Magnificent Mimi; Bella, aka Fireballa; and the small and daring Mad Madame Maddie.
My mom and dad joined us for the whole week of Halloween. However, my dad is the world's biggest Halloween Humbug, so he didn't come along for the trick-or-treating. (He stayed home and handed out glowsticks to the two trick-or-treaters who bumbled along to our house.)
We posed heroically.
We dashed heroically out of scary houses (accompanied by Mario and Rainbow Dash).
We posed heroically again.
We delighted heroically in the enormous piles of candy we were heroically gathering.
And we talked, heroically and at length, about our superpowers. The Speedy Paintbrush can wield a magic paintbrush and make her paintings come to life. Magnificent Mimi scores well on spelling tests and saves people from falling rocks. Fireballa throws balls of fire at bad guys, and then she runs really fast. Mad Madame Maddie mostly just runs down the halls of houses yelling her name. (I'm sure that terrifies supervillains. The Bad Doctor regularly finds himself stymied.)
P.S. My sister also escaped Provo with her darling boyfriend, and the two of them were the champions of the extended trick-or-treating that my two older girls accomplished. I have Annie and Shaylor to thank for the sugar high we've all been riding the past few days. I
1. Hand your two-year old the spoon and bowl when you are done spreading chocolate frosting on peanut butter brownies.*
2. Sit down, eat lunch, and smile while she sings "Sprinkle, Sprinkle, Little Star" to herself, using the spoon as a microphone.
3. Listen as she very seriously asks the spoon, "Do you love Jesus? I LOVE Jesus." Let your eyes mist up for a second.
4. Enjoy the five minutes of satisfaction in the good job you are doing before you make another huge parenting mistake. (Anyone else get unreasonably grumpy about a pile of unfolded blankets and de-cased pillows in the middle of the living room? No? Only me?)
*I have extra kids in the house today, and there's nothing I've discovered that keeps everyone happy for longer than making a big batch of cookies together. Every kid I've ever met likes to dump ingredients, stir, and spread.
Have you heard of these? Six word love stories? I mean, everything is always my newest favorite thing, but these are my newest favorite thing. People telling their love story in exactly six words. (Some are happy. Some are grumpy, and sometimes the grumpy ones are the funniest.)
Some of the best happy ones (from the comments on the link above):
Saw him. Hired him. Married him.
I was wrong. You are right.
We have the same operating system.
So, of course, just like anyone else who loves to write, I tried to figure out my love story in six words. Here are some of my best attempts.
Calculus is romantic? Who knew? Sigh.
Turns out he's funny. Lucky me.
Two not-so-free spirits still delighted together. (Did I cheat on that one? How do we count hyphenations?)
Eleven years blinks. Even better now.
How about the rest of you? Do you have a six-word love story?
I hope all the rest of you had as marvelous a summer as we did. Our favorite activities were:
1. NOT blogging. I'm an on-again-off-again blogger at best, and when I examine my history, summer always gets the shaft. Probably because we are doing lots of fun stuff instead of blogging about fun stuff.
2. Visiting the LifeFlight helicopter. When you live by the hospital, you see the helicopter coming and going a lot, so it's SUPER exciting to get to be inside the chopper and ask any questions you want.
3. Playing with new friends (that are children of old friends) in Oakley, Utah.
I had so much fun meeting up with Michelle and Holly--two people that made my semester in D.C. one of the best of my life.
Turns out, they've produced some pretty cute, nice, and smart kids along the way. This made it so I could sit and chat and sit and chat and let the kids run and climb and play and run some more. Awesome.
4. Swimming and sprinkler parks. Is there anything better to do in the summer?
Well, if the mom of the family is smart, she won't pick the only day under 90 degrees to hit the ice-water splash pad for the first time. I took home five little blue bumps that day. (Cousin Addie was wondering what kind of torture house she was visiting when I kept saying, "Just go lay in the sun, girls. You'll get warm really fast." )
5) Biking and biking and biking some more. And then, for good measure, just a little more biking.
6) And when we weren't biking, we were camping. These little camping chairs have seen a lot of new places this summer.
Maddie and Bella are always chief competitors for the Dirty Face Award.
And this girl might just be the queen of the hiking.
We started out the summer (yes, I'm THAT far behind) with haircuts for everyone. Liv and Mims both decided on a swimming-friendly a-line bob, and they both looked fantastic.
I am the stylist here, and I should point out that if I were ever to go into business as a beautician, I would have to have an incredibly patient clientele. Each of these haircuts was perfected over the course of a week. "Come here, Liv. I found another piece that's too long." "Mimers, let's buzz that neck." My girls put up with it because they have to, and I do it because I'm cheap!
Bella got a haircut, too, and it was evidently so inspiring that she felt like she wanted to expand on my artistry. A couple choppy layers and some blunt bangs later and . . .
. . . voila!
Luckily for us, Bella's hair is not only so stick straight that it's completely unforgiving, it's also the slowest growing hair in the family. She'll be sporting this avant garde coiffure for some months to come.
Any of you who have never run the Blue Mountain 5K should. It's a real treat. Beautiful trail. Popsicles and ribbons for all the kids who finish the one-mile run. Door prizes at the end. Awesome. If you had participated this year, you would have seen Mimi (yes, my seven-year old) run the mile in 6:51. Amazing. And John ran his fastest 5K since high school. I was so proud, I nearly burst into tears. (Which wouldn't be the first for me at the end of a race, but usually I'm crying from pain and exhaustion, not delight.)
There are two things you should have noticed.
1) My youngest daughter loves my mom with all her heart. If my memory serves me correctly, she said "Nana" before she said "Mama."
2) An extra pair of size two panties and a plastic grocery bag can tide you over in a pinch when you find yourself two hours from home on a Sunday without an extra diaper. (Turns out the gas stations in Green River do not sell diapers. Or wipes. That was an interesting change duty in the bathroom.)
The Ashley National Forest offers some of its old Guard Stations for overnight stays. They offer cabins, with bunkhouses, running hot water, and electric lights for as little as $35 night. It's an opportunity to experience what it would be like to live as a park ranger. (60 years ago, but that's fine.) What a bargain, right?
Here's what I learned:
1) My kids love to play. The more dirt and trees, the better. Add a bridge, their Grammy, Grampy, three cousins, some pipe cleaners, and an outhouse, and you've officially discovered heaven.
2) As much as I already dislike heights, I dislike them even more when I see pictures of where my husband took my children while I was elsewhere. (Do you see those tiny colored specks? Yes, those are people. People who are related to me. The horror.)
3) Babies can sleep anywhere. So can seven-year olds.
4) My mother-in-law is charity personified. She volunteered to sleep in this quite possibly rat-infested bunkhouse with all seven children. (Our children plus Chris and Krista's.) I took a tiny amount of pity on her and kept Maddie to sleep with us in the main cabin. In the mornings, I almost didn't dare ask how it had gone, knowing my children as I do. She never complained. Let's give this woman a hand.
5) It turns out that this little cabin was equipped with neither running water nor electricity. Since I had only stocked myself with enough fortitude and cheerfulness for a "cabin" adventure, I rapidly depleted my reserves when I realized it was going to be more like a "tent" adventure. (Since hot showers are my therapy of choice, I can get a little testy when denied one.)
6) Vanity is superfluous baggage in the mountains. Toss on an old ball cap, put on an old race shirt and your hiking boots, and you're set.
I think I've mentioned before that John's Jeep has become our little adventure vehicle. With all of the Uintah Mountains basically at our doorstep, and an iPhone to stuff completely full of topographical maps, we regularly head out on little expeditions. Yesterday was one of our most adventurous.
After an hour-and-a-half drive, we headed up the trail for a mile-and-a-half. Bella started out as leader. . .
. . .while the three of us older ladies with aching joints :) pulled up the rear.
Soon, however, it because necessary for the oldest and frailest of us all to do the packing and the pulling. Bella kept telling me she was "dying". (John says that when we are traveling up the road like this, in a block, it makes him think I need to start singing "Get out the way of me and my crew-crew-crew.")
This is, quite possibly, my favorite of all the lakes we've visited yet. It was absolutely gorgeous and the ground around it was not marshy at all. (The mud cleanup after some of our lake visits really puts a damper on my enthusiasm.)
As we were trying to find some fish in the lake, we heard rocks falling from the cliff. When we looked up, we saw this:
Did you see the mountain goats? We only had John's phone camera, so the pictures aren't as good as if we had the real camera, but yay! Six mountain goats. Two grownups and four babies. I kept thinking that if I was the mama mountain goat wandering around on that narrow ledge with my tiny babies, I would be a nervous wreck. "Babies! I want to see at least two of your feet touching this wall at all times. No, I do not care how your dad is walking. He can make his own crazy choices, but unless you listen to your mother I'm going to make sure you never comfortably lie down again!"
The real mountain goats, of course, inspired my own little babies to scamper around the rocks. We escaped nearly unscathed--nothing a few bandaids couldn't fix.
First Day of School. I found this fantastic printable sign on Pinterest, of course.
Apparently, Olivia was nervous?
But Mimi was ever-enthusiastic.
And for the first time in a long time, the girls needed jackets on the first day of school. Kinda crazy. Jackets in August.
John decided if we were going to be replacing backpacks, we were going to replace them with something that would last. However, my thriftiness wouldn't let us spend more than $20 on an elementary school backpack--Jansport or not. So, the compromise is these identical plaid backpacks, the only Jansports we could find to fit the budget. I cut out some vinyl initials to differentiate between the two.