Monday, July 12, 2010

Six Kids

Last week I took two of our friends boys for six days and six nights. Our house was kid heaven with six kids six and younger. I focused on having lots of fun with them. We had at least one major "fun" event every day. It is great to focus on creating good memories for my kids and others. I really look forward to having all of my kids out of dippers and to being in the stage of life that I can leave home without getting a baby sitter, but I am try so hard to enjoy the craziness of this wonderful stage too.

The kids loved their spontaneous play of supper heros,

and house. (Yes, Cara has a baby in her over sized dress-up dance outfit. I guess playing house has to include being preggo.)

Caleb and Isaac would have rather been playing Lego Star Wars or Lego Bat Man on the X-Box or Wii than going on any outing, but I tried to create some balance. I am a big park goer. I love the fresh air and like the kids to have variety.

Ali turned four months last week too. She continues to be a very pleasant baby. She is so balled, but there is lots of peach fuzz with promise of a full head of hair soon.

We all love her so much. I found Cara in Ali's bed snuggling and watching her mobil with her.

Ali loves the mobil! You can see from this picture how intently she watches it. A new mobil is the only new thing I have bought for her and I am so grateful it is battery operated unlike our old one that I had to hand crank.

Isn't it great to just be a kid.

And of course the warm water from the facet in the garage makes the back yard swimming pool much more appilling than it was when I was a kid!

Caleb and Cara are involved in a couple of summer camps. We have a little neighborhood coop with four moms and eight kids (seven boys and Cara). They go to "summer group" on Mondays from 11-2 and have some structured craft or activity and lunch. I am a huge fan of coops. They are also involved in a "summer camp" called Fun in the Sun sponsored by Providence City on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:30-1:30. This camp has lots of field trips and awesome activites. The kids love it! This week for summer group it was at my house and we water colored "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" books. The kids LOVE painting. Even Caleb stuck with it until his book was done.

Last week Josh and I also celebrated eight years of marriage. It is hard to believe that we have been married for that long. Does that make us old? I love, admire, and trust Josh more than ever. He is a harder worker than I expected and he is as great of a dad and husband as I could have ever dreamed of. Our life isn't perfect, but I am grateful that I found an eternal companion that is perfectly suited for me.

I have come to the conclusion that I want six kids. Josh and I had always agreed on five, but the more I think about it the more I want six. We will see if I can get Josh to come around. Three in dippers is too many, but six is great! It looks insane when I see other people with five or six little kids, but it doesn't feel insane (usually) when it is me. I even took my little clan to the store a couple of times to see if it was doable. I love to have a plan so of course I am already thinking about when I want to have my next one. I see huge advantages of having my family close together, and I dream about having all of my kids here and being able to do things as a family. Of course I dream about never being preggo again too. We will see how it all comes together, but for now I will try to focus on enjoying my four rather than getting my six here!

Friday, July 2, 2010

$20 and 100,000 Sky Miles

$20 and 100,000 Sky Miles got our family of six to Anchorage Alaska to visit my sister Cathie and her family last week. It was an amazing and beautiful adventure. I will let the pictures do most of the talking. We arrived on the night of summer solstice so the daylight was endless and kept us playing around the clock.

The first morning of the trip we spent at the Eagle River Nature Center. It was so beautiful. None of the pictures will give Alaska justice. There is one of the almost 20 moose we saw on our first day just over Caleb's shoulder.

There were lots of cool trees. Cathie and I have eight kids seven and younger between the two of us. The kids didn't slow us down much - in fact, they kept us quite busy.

The Cara Tree.

Caleb and Colter in a twisty tree.

A little after 10 PM Josh, Keith and I went biking from Flat Top to Hill Top. This was one of the highlights for Josh because we just biked down hill. This picture was taken around mid night and our faces say it all. I have never mountain biked so I was wide eyed and nervous and Josh was in heaven.

One afternoon we went rafting down Campbell Creek which runs through Cathie's back yard.

We went to Beluga Point in the Cook Inlet to whale watch, we didn't see any, but we had fun. Josh has made a tradition of rock balancing when we go on vacation.

It was hard enough to get the kids in the picture at the temple, to ask them to be reverent would have been way too much.

Most of the beaches around Anchorage have quick sand, but we did learn about one beach we could hike to. Emi and Cara thought they were going to Mexico and enjoyed the water and sand in their swim suits. I don't think the temperature ever even hit 70 while we were there, but it was nice in the 60's with a jacket.

Andy spent day after day throwing rocks into the ocean, the lakes, the rivers, and the streams. He was so content.

We went to a real working gold mine, the Historic Crow Creek Gold Mine. Luckily Emi hit the guy up for money when she turned in her panning equipment. Between the kids there were eight tiny gold flakes and the guy was willing to trade them for a candy bar each. I thought that was a heck of a lot better than loosing them.

We did the Hand Tram Hike near Girdwood. There is a hand tram that hikers use to get to the other side of Glacier Creek canyon. Here Cathie is crossing with a bunch of the kids.

It was a beautiful canyon. I have no idea how deep it was, but here is an attempt to show. I had no idea that I would be hiking though rain forest in Alaska.

On the other side of the canyon was another river with a beautiful waterfall.

We spent our final three days and two nights at the Upper Ohmer Cabin in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. About a quarter of a mile from the road was the small Upper Ohmer lake and cabin. We stayed in the only cabin on the lake which was 3-5 yards from the waters edge. It was the Alaskan dream complete with a row boat. (I sure wish I would have taken a picture of the cabin.) Even though we had a cabin it was CAMPING. The cabin had plyboard bunk beads and no running water or electricity.

The kids had a great time and got really dirty. The bummer of the trip was the mosquitoes. I have never seen as many mosquitoes as I did on this trip. They were terrible. We came home covered in bits even though we used a lot of repellent. Andy's souvenir from the trip is going to be a scar above his eyebrow. We aren't really sure what happened, but he hit it against something at Cathie's house.

Caleb got to shoot the bb gun.

Josh is always available to entertain.

Ali was the perfect baby on the trip. She is almost four months and slept 10+ hour nights. She was flexible and rolled with the punches. Really I can't think of one single thing that was hard about her on the trip, just the extra 15 pounds she added to my already out of shape body as I packed her on the hikes.

Unfortunatly while we were there the salmon were not running like they were supposed to be. Josh spent a couple of hours fishing the Kenai River and we looked for salmon at the Russian River and didn't see anything. BUT Caleb, Colter and Cathie did see two black bear. We also had to hit our brakes for a black bear crossing the road near the cabin.

Caleb's favorite part of the trip was fishing, even though there were no salmon. Josh caught a few trout in the lake.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was seeing the salmon jump up the river at Russian River Falls. It was almost a five mile round trip hike which was like a walk around the block for the Coombs family but was totally exhausting for my family. Luckily the little ones got to take turns riding and even napping. Keith and Cathie are so strong I think they could have carried all eight kids all by themselves.

It was incredible to see the strength of the salmon jumping up the falls.

Our final hike was Bear Mountain. It provided an incredible view of the many lakes in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

It was really the trip of a lifetime. Thanks so much to the Coombs Family for making it so great! We love you and miss you! Now that we have come to visit you can move back to Utah!