Monday, July 27, 2009

(More) Fun in the (Hot) Sun

The annual Ott family reunion was on the 25th of July so we headed down towards Bryce Canyon for the weekend. It is held at his grandparents' "duck pond" every year. Picture a duck take out the ducks...and the pond...and replace them with dirt...and juniper trees...and cow pies...oooookay, now you've got it!

The weather was actually significantly cooler than we've been getting up here and we missed out on a big rain storm by just a couple miles. The food was good, the folks were friendly, and everyone had a good time. I got startled by a huge (fake) snake...thanks Kolter!...but attempted to defend myself by reminding everyone that when I was down there 2 months ago I did come across a 4-5 ft. long blow snake that gave me a bit of a surprise when I almost stepped on it.

The boys especially had a good time. They attained never-before-seen levels of dirt saturation. Especially Sawyer. While everyone else was eating dinner he was sprawled out on his stomach moving dirt around with a plastic spoon.

I'm now accepting applications to bathe this child. Anyone? Anyone?

I guess he figured clothing was only getting in his way at this point.

I went to take a picture of Will right after taking these and before I could snap one my camera batteries died. I guess we had too many picture-taking moments in the last few weeks for it to handle! (Oh, and I apologize once again for not getting my recipes submitted! I'll try to rectify that situation. Shame on me.)

Sawyer's turn in the sun

Sawyer's birthday was on Sunday so he got to celebrate in the extra-cool way by going to church. After church he got to take a nap. (What a lucky birthday boy!) After his nap we took him up to Wheeler Farm. He is my little nature boy so we thought he would get a kick out of seeing the animals and feeding the ducks. And I think he did.

You can thank me later for cropping out the unholy end of a third pig on the right side of this picture.

It was just a little warm out.

Yes, my oldest child IS the palest thing you've ever seen.

Riding the bucking bronco, with the bucking courtesy of cousin Chris.

Guess which birthday boy didn't want to share with his brother.

Afterwards, we came home and he got his turn to have cake and open presents. He blew out the candles about 5 times. He had definitely figured out the present thing. He would tear the wrapping paper and before he could even see what it was he would gasp excitedly and then throw the present on the table and say "More. Peese."

Checking out the new wheels from an over-exposed kind of way.

Then we partied yippee o ka yay

The boys had a joint cowboy-themed birthday party. I found a guy on craigslist who rented me 3 canopies for $10 each so that relieved a lot of my hotter-than-Hades woes. The boys seemed to have a good time so I was happy. Will was off with the kids and I don't know what Sawyer did, but I didn't hear any crying or whining so he must have been amusing himself. I caught him playing the "drop the clothespins in the jar" game by himself for quite a while. He would empty out the jar onto the chair and then climb up and carefully drop each clothespin and then climb down and repeat. I'm not sure that he ever actually got one in, but he kept trying.
A miss.
Another try.
The boys hanging out at their saloon.

Sawyer downing a tall, cold bottle of Kool Aid.

It was a good know, in the what-was-I-thinking, never-to-be-repeated kind of way. Just kidding, I like throwing parties!
**And thanks to Lauren for taking and sending me some of these pictures!**

Closing ceremonies

The boys' birthday weekend sums up the season of celebrations in our home. All of the holidays in our home happen between mid-March to July with a majority of them occurring between the second week of June and the 3rd week of July. So we are all done celebrating and ready for a quiet winter and spring (well, you know, except for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas).

Will turned 4 on a Friday. We told him he could choose where he wanted to eat dinner so he chose Chuck E. Cheese. Eating at Chuck E. Cheese got vetoed by someone else in the house so we told him that he could go play games at Chuck E. Cheese, but to choose somewhere else to eat dinner. This led to Will having a 10-minute debate with himself over the merits of the Carl's Jr. playground vs. the McDonald's playground. It went like this "Well....McDonald's has a better playground...but Carl's Jr has those cone things I like to play with...hmmm....hmmm..." Eventually he decided on Carl's Jr. We had to run to Wal-mart during the day, but Will didn't seem to mind since he got a set of play car keys complete with alarm system when we checked out. He had seen them in the Wal-mart check-out line about 10 days earlier and threw a huge fit when we wouldn't buy them for him. I told him that he could do some chores and earn some money to go buy them for himself. To his credit, he spent the next 2 days following me around and asking for chores to do. He wouldn't even go outside to play with his dad. Have you ever tried to find chores that an almost-4-year-old can actually do by himself? It was a challenge. I ended up paying him to do the things I would have made him do anyways, like picking up the toys he dumped out on the floor. He told me that he was going to buy the keys and then he was going to do more chores so he could "go buy that piece-of-junk racecar that will break 5 minutes after we get it!" I asked Bryce about it and apparently Will saw some plastic racecar at the hardware store that he can probably guess what Bryce told him about it.

Anyways, back to the birthday. We picked up some party stuff at Wal-mart and then came home and got ready to go out for dinner. We went to Carl's Jr. and then took the boys up to Chuck E. Cheese along with Mollie and Bryce's dad and sister who were in town. The boys had leftover tokens from going to CEC in Connecticut and they each got free tokens for their birthdays so it didn't cost us anything. Sawyer was a little unsure and wouldn't go on any of the rides, although he did think it was great fun to stuff tokens into all the games. Will was as happy as he could possibly be. He skipped from game to game and had a grand old time. He even left without a fit because he knew that presents were waiting for him at home.

When we got home he blew out the candles on his R2D2 cake and then opened presents. He didn't end up eating any of his cake until Sawyer's birthday, when Will ripped off R2D2's head and started stuffing cake in his mouth. As long as he enjoyed it I guess.

A word about the R2D2 cake. Do not try to make any kind of formed cake out of Betty Crocker rainbow chip cake mix (or probably any cake mix...they aren't dense enough). The cake just crumbled and wouldn't hold any weight. I stuck a bunch of skewers in it to try to keep it upright, but it was pretty much hopeless. Also, there is definitely a skill to fondant which I don't have. The whole thing was a falling over disaster. (This picture was taken from a very flattering angle.) No, I did not draw on it with markers...well, I did...but they are "Gourmet food writers" with edible ink. Luckily, 4 year-olds are pretty easily impressed. Will saw it and said "Wow! That is awesome!" I don't think I'll be so lucky in 10 years.

After presents I tried to put Will to bed, but he wasn't having it. First he had to drag all of his presents up to his bed and then he kept getting out and asking to sleep in my bed. I decided that it was his birthday so why shouldn't "all his wildest dreams come true?" I let him get in my bed and watch Cars until he-- I mean, I -- fell asleep. I don't know when he fell asleep.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Baby!

Happy birthday my little guy. You are such a sweetheart. I can't believe you are already two! Let's try not to make the twos too terrible, shall we?

I love you!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dear Firstborn

Happy Birthday! It has been a great 4 years. On to the 5th!

My favorite 4 year-old. Mommy loves you!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Little things

I got this idea from another blog...and my children definitely think lunch is more interesting when it comes from a muffin tin. They ate almost everything except the peppers and celery with ranch dressing. Not even the ranch dressing tempted them to try the vegetables.

The other day Will spent quite a while packing up my backpack. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was "going to go live outside." Then he hauled the backpack downstairs, outside, and spent about 15 minutes trying to get it up the ladder to his fort. It was too heavy so he took everything out and carried each item up individually and arranged them. This whole process took a good 45 minutes. Then when he had everything set up he said he was ready to live outside and I went over to take a look...some books, a couple of vehicles, and a picture of him and Dad...he was all set!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I have a long and storied past with the weather Gods. We haven't been getting along lately. You may recall my birthday week forecast. Or you may recall the weather while on my recent vacation. Well, I knew I was in for it when I decided to throw an outdoor party for the boys' birthdays. With fingers crossed I subjected myself to the mercy of the weather gods. I think I can hear them laughing. Thank you for adding the graphic just to rub it in KUTV.

I guess we're having a Happy Hottest Day of the Year party instead.

Addendum: Now we are in a death match. Bring it on weather gods.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Let freedom sleep in...please.

Bryce got 2 days off for the 4th (we're guessing because he gets no days off for the 24th - which is a Utah state holiday if you are wondering) so we had a nice long weekend to celebrate our country. We decided to honor all that is good and just about our nation by shopping. You can thank me later for stimulating the economy (will that phrase ever die?). Actually, the first day he had off we didn't do much of anything. Friday we headed up to the Park City outlet malls. I always arrive at the outlets optimistic, with visions of clearance in my size dancing in my head. As usual, I left this time empty-handed as far as my own wardrobe. We almost struck out with the boys too, but at the last moment we hit up Osh Kosh which had a sale on top of clearance prices and so Will got stocked up on shirts for next summer. Bryce did okay. He got a couple of pairs of microfiber dress pants (not just for sofas anymore!) for $5.80 each. Not too shabby. Afterwards we went to Cascade springs and walked around and took some pictures. It has been a long time since I've been there and it wasn't like what I remembered. Mostly, I don't remember it being so far off the main road. It was pretty though.

Usually I am all for fixing my highlights and shadows with Picasa, but this one (above) is straight out of my camera.

This one was also straight out of the camera.
Every year I think "this year we will wake up early and go see the hot air balloons" and then every year when the morning arrives I think "there is no way I am voluntarily waking up a sleeping child so that they can see hot air balloons and be miserable for the rest of the day." So once again, we didn't see more than a couple balloons that were still flying when we made our way to the parade route. We found about 2 feet of empty curb and sat down on the cement to wait for the parade to start. Apparently, the people who had already roped off half of the block behind us felt that they therefore owned the curb too as they didn't seem too happy to see us sitting there when they showed up to claim their spot. They told their kids to go ahead and set up their camp chairs in front of us and just put their blankets in front of us in the street. We could still see so it didn't really matter, and I'm sure someone would have sat there anyways, but it was kind of obnoxious considering they had roped off the whole area behind us and then didn't show up until after the parade had started. Whatever. Coincidentally, we were directly across the street from this group. Will spent the whole parade obsessed with trying to get candy, but he wasn't aggressive enough so by the time he ran out to try to get some it was all already snatched up by the roaming herd of older candy-seeking children. Then he would cry until the next time a candy-thrower came by and the whole cycle would repeat. Hope springs eternal. We took off a little before the parade ended and made our way down to Center Street to check out the fair. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea and it was mobbed. We made a quick walk-through and then headed home by way of the grocery store to buy some ice cream. I don't know if the kids liked the parade very much or not, but I hope they fondly remember that "Mom and Dad always took us to the parade" because it is no small feat in this town!

We spent the afternoon hanging out at home and then headed up towards Salt Lake for dinner and swimming with some friends of ours. It was fun and the kids were having a blast. Sawyer would not go in the water, but Will wouldn't get out. He spent most of the time paddling around in one of those inflatable tubes with the harness that are designed for babies. After eating Will wanted to get back in the water. Bryce had already changed clothes so he said it was my turn to take him. The water was a little too cold for my liking so I was sitting on a chair next to the pool with Bryce talking to one of the other guests there. Will was playing on the pool deck and I told him not to get in the water by himself and then I turned to answer a question. I looked back at the pool in time to see Will in the pool with his head underwater kicking and flailing. I jumped in and grabbed him and he was fine, but he scared himself and scared me! Apparently he had tried to get in the pool using a kickboard, but he let go of the kickboard and couldn't keep his head above water. That child is going to give me a heart attack. [When I put him to bed that night I asked him what his favorite part of the day was and he said "swimming"; I asked him what his least favorite part of the day was and he said "when the water was in my mouth and I couldn't breathe." No kidding!]

We set off some fire crackers in the parking lot and then went and watched the Sandy city fireworks. We could see 3 different sets of fireworks going off from our view up in the foothills. It was a fun, although exhausting, weekend.

Oh Lucky Day

Bryce and I returned to the state of Utah knowing that we only had a few days left to use my free birthday meal coupon at Tucano's. Therefore, we made lunch reservations for the next Saturday. When we arrived we saw the beginnings of some kind of festival going on at the Riverwoods. There were people on huge stilts and we promised the kids we would go see them if they were good during lunch. Well, I don't know how good they were...but we walked over to see what was going on when we finished eating. It was just a little promotional fair, but they had the stilt-walkers and a guy doing balloon animals and a caricature artist and free popcorn and coupon books and a band playing. So we got not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 balloon swords during the time we were there (Will kept popping his and there weren't very many people there) and then we waited in line for a caricature of the boys. The line was moving veeeerrrrryy slowly and there were about a dozen people ahead of us. Ten minutes of our wait was spent watching the artist draw a portrait of a middle-aged lady and her chihuahua. Seriously? There are all these kids in line and you have to have him draw your chihuahua? We waited for about 30 minutes and then the artist announced that he wasn't going to be able to finish the line. We were gathering up our stuff to leave when the lady who appeared to be in charge walked over and said "I know you guys have been here a while...can you tell me the name of the band that is playing?" The band was two college-aged kids and although they sounded good none of us had paid attention or heard their name. When we couldn't answer she opened it up to the rest of the line and when a woman said the correct answer she gave them a gift certificate for two to Tucano's. Darn. Then she gave us another chance and asked if we knew what college they had just graduated from. We didn't. She said it was local so Bryce and I said "BYU" while Mollie said "UVSC" (way to be loyal Mollie...or was that just your opinion of the band?). The lady handed us a $25 gift card to Macaroni Grill. Lucky Day!

On a follow-up note, we just used the gift card this past weekend...and we were both disappointed by our dinners. If we were smart we would have also used the $5 off coupon that we got at the same festival, but we aren't and we didn't. But hey, it was food that I didn't make and I didn't clean up and it was no matter how disappointing it tasted it was still a pretty good deal!

Bonus: Sawyer likes to help himself to a drink from the faucet.

Let the wedding...begin!

In which Kyle and Jess are successfully married off.

I bought Bryce a GPS for a Father's Day present. We actually already own a GPS, but it was a little too fancy for us. As in, we never figured out how to use it. I once thought I succeeded in telling it to take me to a dress store up in Sandy, but somewhere along I-15 it started urgently insisting that I take a left turn. When I failed to turn left on the highway it gave up and wouldn't give us any more directions. So I bought Bryce a GPS for a Father's Day present. Never has a more fortuitous gift been given. We would not have survived Boston without it. I had warned Bryce that driving in Boston is not an experience that anyone sane will enjoy, but after giving it a go I think he actually believed me. Michael may have had to live at the airport. Have you ever heard this song?

Let me tell you the story
Of a man named Charlie
On a tragic and fateful day
He put ten cents in his pocket,
Kissed his wife and family
Went to ride on the MTA

Charlie handed in his dime
At the Kendall Square Station ----> This really is where we wanted to get on, but gave up.
And he changed for Jamaica Plain
When he got there the conductor told him,
"One more nickel."
Charlie could not get off that train.

Did he ever return,
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn'd
He may ride forever
'neath the streets of Boston
He's the man who never returned.

Now all night long
Charlie rides through the station
Crying, "What will become of me?
How can I afford to see
My sister in Chelsea
Or my cousin in Roxbury?"

Charlie's wife goes down
To the Scollay Square station
Every day at quarter past two
And through the open window
She hands Charlie a sandwich ---> I kept picturing someone handing us an umbrella as
As the train comes rumblin' through. we drove past the markets with no parking.

As his train rolled on
underneath Greater Boston
Charlie looked around and sighed:
"Well, I'm sore and disgusted
And I'm absolutely busted;
I guess this is my last long ride."

Now you citizens of Boston,
Don't you think it's a scandal
That the people have to pay and pay
Fight the fare increase!
Vote for George O'Brien!
Get poor Charlie off the MTA.

Or else he'll never return,
No he'll never return
And his fate will be unlearned
He may ride forever
'neath the streets of Boston ---> or ON the streets of Boston, as the case may be
He's the man who never returned.
He's the man who never returned.
He's the man who never returned.

That pretty much sums up traveling in Boston. Back to the GPS. It faithfully led us to the Clarion Carriage House Inn where the whole family was staying for the night before the wedding. It was also the site of the wedding luncheon the next day. We happened to pull in at the exact same moment as Mom, Dad, Mollie, Megan, Chad, and my boys. The hotel was having a small problem with their door keys. We went through about 4 before we got one that actually worked consistently. On the plus side, each room had a little basket of free snacks and bottled water. On the minus side, when I was waiting at the counter to exchange another non-working key, I overhead this phone conversation at the front desk "So you booked it online for the $65 rate? Ok, I'll go ahead and put that rate in for the next night too." Hmmm...we booked our room for the "special-you-are-holding-an-event-here" rate of $107/night plus taxes and fees. Us = losers.

Megan: nut free

Although it was...raining...we decided to head over to the long-awaited bakery, candy shop, and country store down the street. Turns out we missed our chance to go to the bakery. We got there at about 4:30 and saw Kyle and others looking at it and turning around. I asked him when it closed and the response was "Mondays." So, it being a Monday, no luck there. We did find some things to buy at the candy store and the connected country gift shop. I bought some maple sugar candy, a metal cricket for my some-day fireplace hearth, and a couple presents for birthdays I was missing while on our trip. It was a fun, wooden-floored shop with a barrel full of pickles. Yes, we all had to check individually that it was actually full of pickles as the sign indicated. Not packaged pickles, just big pickles floating in brine. So as to avoid any incidents or unintentional mingling the shop kindly provided separate seating for Republicans and Democrats and we positioned ourselves accordingly.

The antique shop next door which I think was closed at the time.
That night we had dinner at the local Friendly's complete with more ice cream. We put the kids to bed and hung around in an adjoining room for a while before everyone decided to go to bed. The next morning we headed over to the temple in Belmont. (There is no GPS address for the temple, in case you ever need to know, the official street address is not recognized and the best you can do is the nearby ward building which is one driveway down. This caused a bit of a problem when we couldn't get anyone to answer their phone and didn't know where we were going. Luckily, I texted my question to Google and they texted me back with the temple phone number that gave us the ward building address to plug in to the GPS. Did you know you can do that? Just text your question to "Google"-- you know, spell it out with numbers -- and they text you back the answer...your standard text messaging rate applies, but it is free otherwise. Very convenient. Now what were we talking about?) We arrived at the temple and watched Kyle and Jess's sealing (marriage ceremony) which was short and sweet. Then Michael, Evan, and Mollie showed up with my boys and we took pictures outside of the temple.

Extra bright...for fun.
Jess takes advantage of down time while Michael changes lenses by learning to whistle.
Josh is Little Miss Sunshine.

After pictures we headed back to the Inn for the wedding luncheon which provided enormous amounts of food and then told us that we weren't allowed to take any of it with us. Most of us probably ate about half our meal and the rest had to be thrown away. Sad. Bryce and Evan were sent on a covert mission to purchase shoe polish and we decorated the car the newlyweds were driving while they changed and packed. Not sure how long it lasted since the car was wet and it was...raining. Once they left the rest of us packed up and headed back to my parents' house 2 hours away. When we arrived, Mollie and I frantically tried to do something to our hair while Megan got hers done at the local salon (la dee da). Then we drove to the reception which was 40 minutes away in Wolcott at the Lily Lake Inn. We were late (no surprise there)...but we had more tasty food and the kids actually did really well considering it was a long couple of days for them. After the reception we drove back home and put the kids to bed while we did laundry and packed to fly home the next day.

The next morning my former babysitting employer/Young Women's president/physician's assistant extraordinaire came over and irrigated Will's ears. He hadn't been able to hear anything for weeks so he was quite thrilled to rediscover the wonder of sound. And it saved us a $30 co-pay and trip to the doctor's office so that was pretty great. The flight home was long, but uneventful. I can handle flying much better now that I discovered the magic combo of sinus medication + dramamine which clears up my major flying issues (motion sickness and sinus headaches from the pressurized cabin) and makes me feel mostly human. The kids didn't do as well as they did on the way out, but they did better than I had feared considering the amount of sleep they hadn't gotten over the last few days.

And thus we arrived back in Salt Lake City where Mollie and I stood outside waiting for Bryce to come with the car and commented on the fact that it was "warm!"...leading the guy next to us to wonder out loud where we had been that led us to be so surprised by warm weather at the end of June.