Monday, September 24, 2012

On the Road Again

Cambria and Tristan were both pretty good at Disneyland, all things considered.
I began this in early August, but never did finish.

It was nice and overcast one day -  bright and sunny the other two.
We left Gig Harbor for our big trip that we had been planning for many months on Monday July 9th, first picking up Bro (Dean's brother) in Portland, then heading south to Disneyland!  Bro graciously did most of the driving, and helped out enormously with the children while at the Magic Kingdom.  We had three day park hopper passes ($99 each - since we are (for the moment) military folks.  It was a load of fun, and the weather wasn't bad, and three days was quite enough.  It would be so much easier if the younger kids were five years older, but I don't know that we'll be going back that soon!

Hunter was selected for intensive Jedi training, and performed well.  
Tristan's suitcase was never to be found the whole trip, until Dean got back to Gig Harbor and discovered it in the back yard???  Tristan must have wheeled it back there as we were loading up.  Frankly we didn't have room for it anyway, with seven people and all their luggage.  While in the LA area, we visited Bro's in laws, who treated us all to a fabulous dinner in Korea Town.  The boys were (shockingly) on their best behavior, impressing even Dr. Jo.  They graciously had us stay at their home in Malibu for a few days before we left to Korea back in 2010.

Thanks for all the kid wrangling, Bro!
I like the nice 'n easy rides.  The guys like the herky jerky ones that feel like you're in one long car accident.
Next, we headed further south to Sea World San Diego, with our free and discounted military passes, and spent a lovely Saturday afternoon and evening with the sea creatures and seemingly millions of other guests.  Before leaving Gig Harbor, we spent $1200 in maintenance on the van.  We really hadn't done much more than oil changes on it since we bought it 2.5 years ago, but at 80,000 miles it was due for a number of things.  Immediately after getting it from the shop, it was gulping occasionally... and finally seemed to get worse as we got to Phoenix.
Sea World was nice enough.  The adults in our party made the executive decision to do no rides -  I at least was  rode out from Disneyland.  The animals were cool.  The lame dancing and circus-like acrobatics by the trainers was odd.
We stayed with Aunt Carol and Uncle Pat on Sunday, also visiting Uncle Jimmy's family and my dear grandmother Rose Burnham (Cambria's middle-name sake),who is 97 and still uses her computer, quilts, sews, makes rugs, etc. and lives independently.  The boys loved swimming in Carol's pool.  Tristan preferred to play around the pool and not get in much.  At one point when trying to grab a pool toy, he fell in, and I had to run like the devil to pull him out.  After that he started asking for a towel, but I calmly said, "don't you want to play some more?", which he decided he did - though still not much in the water, even with Uncle Dusty.  We lounged around Carol's until after another $600 and most of Monday later, the van was in good shape and we pulled in to Albuquerque and Dean's mother's at 2am Tuesday.

I love turtles!  The Rio Grande Nature Center

Hunter and Isaac getting reacquainted

Kyler and Mo-Nikki
The Ramah pageant was well done
We had a lovely time visiting Grandma Dee and David, as well as my sister Nikki and her family, and various friends (the Salgados, Adams, Danika, Darsha).  We made the rounds at a few of our favorite restaurants, visited the Rio Grand Nature Center, and the boys went up into the foothills where Dean and Dustin grew up to hike and watch for horned toads.

The locals often dress up for Pioneer Day 
Then it was off to Ramah on Friday for the beginning of Pioneer Weekend, the biggest event of the year there. They held a lovely pageant that highlighted the history of Ramah, which was settled by members of the Church in order to bring the gospel to the Native Americans in the area.  Saturday's festivities included the annual parade and community dinner provided by the church.  My brother Curtis and family arrived Friday as well, and Nikki and Pepe came on Saturday.  Talk about a full house!  We got there first, so staked out the basement at my folks' for ourselves.

More fun from the parade
Best part of the parade
Hunter, Kyler, and their cousins Isaac and Jaelan slept in a tent in the back yard.  I told them to beware of deer and such, and apparently Isaac (the oldest of the bunch) took that to heart and was indeed concerned.  Grandma instructed them to "mark" the garden if they needed to "go" during the night, as deer really are a problem and eat her best crops.

Here's hoping Cambria survives childhood with three older brothers.  She was not quite walking at 13 months when they would put her on this skateboard on a stick and send her down the sloping sidewalk at Grandma Merrills.
Curtis and Karalee's Nathan is ten days older than Tristan, and their Kaylee is about 5 months older than Cambria, so it was delightful to see them all together, sizing each other up and being silly.  Bro came through from Albuquerque Sunday around noon to pick up Dean so they could get back on the road to the Northwest.  Dean can't have fun and games all summer when there is a business to run and work to do.  Nikki and Pepe had to leave Sunday evening for Pepe to get back to work, but we were able to talk them into leaving Isaac and Jaelan to hang with Hunter and Kyler for the week. We did manage to have a family picture taken while we were all there.  All the boys had a blast all week as Grandpa Merrill kept them supplied with bb's and bb guns, caps and cap guns, toy holsters, straw hats, slingshots, etc.  Kyler was given a bb/pellet gun at one point (not by me!!!), with no supervision and shot the windshield of Grandpa's pickup.  Oops.  Grandma says I'm not responsible for it... so Grandpa will be paying $150 for the repairs.  Grandpa gave them all lessons in geometry, using a compass, history, and much more, and Grandma paid them to weed and work in the yard.

All the surviving children of my grandparents, Bob and Lois Merrill: Gene, Perry,  Sharon and Ed
Ronelle and I went shopping in Gallup with Tristan and Cambria in tow one day, while my mom took the four older boys to El Morro National Monument.  It sure is nice to have American shopping again, and American driving, and so many other things that I have a greater appreciation for.  Ronelle also presented Cambria with a baby blanket she had made; she has made one for each of the children!  I spent a few days trying to help my mom declutter the house, but 35+ years of accumulation, accelerated by 10 years of retirement), meant it was a noble effort (I hope), but only a few drops in the bucket.  If you ever see my mom shopping, don't let her buy any videos or books!

Beth and Perry, Elaine and Ed, Ryan, Sharon, Chris, LaVerne and Gene, the Nortons 

The boys worked cooperatively on a puzzle, and Grandma was  proud of me for making those shorts of Hunter's

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I'm so far behind I hardly know where to begin... I guess I'll go backwards.
We are sure excited to be reunited with Pancho again after he spent two years with his "Grandmother". He loves to go into our closet (aka his "lover hole") and nest for Dean (biting holes in my clothes).
On Labor Day the clinic was closed, so we spent a relaxing day at home in the morning, then went to the home of my second cousin that I discovered here, Monica A.  Her dad is Lonnie L., my dad's first cousin.  It's such a small world, especially in the church. They have a wonderful family and it was fun to look through family/Ramah books with our common ancestors. She looks a lot like her dad, and she thinks I look like some of the pioneerish women in the books (hmmm - makeup helps me a lot).

Back at home, Dean gave the boys blessings to start off the school year on Tuesday, Kyler in first grade, and Hunter in fifth.  The schools here are supposed to be excellent, and this one is down the block from the clinic. They get on the bus at 8:39 and return home at 3:50, which suits me great! It's not such a draining disaster trying to get them out the door in the morning on time. Tristan and Cambria enjoy walking them to the bus stop. I decided to let them eat school lunches, which saves Dean a lot of work, since he had taken on the role of preparing them. The lunches are supposed to be pretty healthy at the school, albeit costly. We may rethink it when all the kids are in school.

On Sunday we had the Hildebrands over for games - and they brought dinner, which was especially nice on a Fast Sunday.  It was also Kyler's birthday - he is now 7!  The boys don't have reason to keep up with the date unless perhaps they are in school, so he had no idea it was coming up.  As usual we are not such good birthday party planners, but at least Bro and Patti were coming up, so we got a pinata (which they've always wanted) and said "surprise" - which Hunter has indicated he would love a surprise party.  His birthday is this coming Sunday.  Bro and Patti brought an ice cream cake, and we made more use of our new grill - which is compliments of Josh (Dean's business partner)...

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Since we never did do a one-year party for Cambria, we gave her a piece of cake and stripped her down so she could have at it.  She didn't like sticking her fingers in cold ice cream, and actually made pretty good use of a fork.  Then we went kayaking with Josh and Jessica.  I had been once before in North Carolina.  That time, with the ladies from church, it felt like we were going against the stream the whole time, and it was very difficult.  This time wasn't nearly so challenging, and it was sure beautiful to be out in Gig Harbor on a beautiful day.  Hunter and Kyler did well paddling.  Patti graciously took care of Tristan and Cambria so that I could go.  We had intended to take Tristan as he is forever demanding to ride in a boat.  Instead, he did a freak out and wanted nothing to do with the kayaks.  He pointed to a yacht and said he wanted to ride in that boat.

On Friday I met up with Joanna Hildebrand and Kara Olmos at the blueberry park in Tacoma, where the berries are free for the picking.  They were very picked over, and with not-so-diligent helpers, I only came away with about one pound six ounces.  When we've been near blueberry u-pick farms before, I've made a point of stock piling 40 pounds in the freezer to use throughout the year.  I may have to break down and buy some already picked, since time is quite running out for the season.  On the drive back here from NM we stopped at a farm near Yakima, WA, and in a couple of hours (with my mom's help, and the boys were better that day) we picked 9.5 pounds.  It is still blackberry season here, and the boys have picked some for us, and Dean often stops to enjoy as many as he can reach.  They are too tart for me, though!
It's good to have a camera handy around here, as you never know what you may find.