Thursday, August 29, 2013


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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Camp Joseph 2013

 After a week of begging from Bruce and Phoebe, I agreed to take the kids camping. Our former church congregation was heading to Camp Joseph in Vermont, so we tagged along. Scott had to work, so it was just me and the kids - but thankfully we had lots of help in setting up and taking down camp and shepherding the kids around.
 On the first night, we cooked hot dogs and s'mores over Firefighter Brian's fire. The next morning, the kids wanted to go swimming, so we headed to the pond and did lots of swimming and boating. Thankfully, Firefighter Brian's family was there too and kept Phoebe safe in the water while I sat with Oliver at the shore.
 Bruce and his buddy were very proud...
 ...that they caught so many frogs.
 Oliver slept well the first night, but the second night was terrible. He woke up about every two hours, and then stayed awake and fussed [loudly] from 3-5 a.m. As you can see, I turned our tent into a nursery complete with pack-and-play, changing station, and feeding chair. Bruce and Phoebe slept in a separate tent and thus got some sleep.
 Oliver smiled for the first time on Saturday morning after his crazy sleepless night. The sun was streaming through the sheer tent walls and he looked at it and smiled. He later smiled at me, but the first smile (while awake anyway) went to the tent.
 On our way home from camping, we stopped at a Scottish Festival. I have Scottish ancestors and went to a few as a kid, but hadn't been to one for years. Naturally, I made my kids go. We saw traditional dances, bagpipe bands, clan booths (no Clan McKay though - boo), Scottish games like the caber-toss (throwing a log), and lots of kilted old people.
Bruce and Phoebe agreed that the coolest part of the day was watching the sheepdog competition.

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Firefighter Phoebe

 Phoebe is in a firefighter phase. It all started a few months ago at a community event when Phoebe tripped and fell, and a firefighter EMT gave her a band-aid. She has been obsessed ever since, talking constantly about the firefighters and EMTs and how she is going to be one someday. A few weeks ago we took cookies to the local fire station and fueled Phoebe's obsession. The next day we got an offer from an old friend who is a firefighter nearby; we headed over to the fire station with more cookies and got a deluxe tour.
 The kids got to sit in the ambulance,
 and the firetruck,
 and check out the bagpipes,
 and try on some gear.
While on the tour, Bruce and Phoebe found out that our friends were going camping the following weekend with our old church congregation (remember this last year?). They spent the rest of the week begging and begging to go camping too. Not only do these kids love camping, but now Firefighter Brian would be there too - and that is something they didn't want to miss.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

10 years, but who's counting?

don’t start something if you can’t finish it

Five months into our relationship, we were over at Emily’s sister’s house for dinner. After a meal and small talk, they roped us in to playing a silly game where you try to get your team to say a word without saying anything remotely related to it (Catchphrase, maybe?). We went back and forth a few rounds, and then I drew “riot”, which seemed like an easy out since Emily was a big Beastie Boys fan and I knew that they had a couple songs I could use. But when I started the timer, my mind snagged on the lyrics for Sabotage. Finally after mumbling about LA and breaking store windows, in desperation, I said, “Let’s start a …” and Emily answered “family?”

long odds

The first time we went out: it was a setup group date and Emily was still reeling from an ugly breakup and didn’t want anything to do with it. But there we were, at a sketchy laser tag place hanging out at a sketchier arcade, playing air hockey while waiting for our group leader to decide if the date needed to go on any longer. Emily was really quiet but not shy. As I remember, she was wearing no make-up, brown corduroys, a green v-neck T-shirt that had laces up the front like a shoe. And doc marten molly browns. I had never met a girl that dressed like that to a first date. The group decided to end the evening early and I asked Emily if she wanted to come over and watch a movie, no pressure, and for some reason she said yes. When my dad found out that her birthday was December 16th, the same day as his, he said the stars had aligned.

if you find someone good, hold tight

I picked up the ring on a trip back from Montana and the first person I told was my grandmother, Anita Raymond. She wanted to know when I was going to propose. I was packing up my apartment and flying to Boston the next day and Emily was staying behind in Provo to run the rest of the track season, so I figured I had a couple of months to plan things out. Grandma Raymond just said that I’d better put a ring on her finger before I left or else she might not be around when I got back from Boston. So I called one of my friends and asked him to buy the biggest bouquet of roses he could find and leave it on a table in the corner of a bookstore. After reading a few pages of Anna Karenina we hiked up the canyon and on moonless night about 9:30 pm, I got out down on one knee, opened the ring box, and dropped the ring in the long grass.

running smart

The most recent marathon Emily ran was Boston 2012, it was 90 degrees and so sunny that I took Phoebe and Bruce to the fire hydrant that someone had compassionately turned on at the side of the course. I was really worried that Emily would try to run her fastest race, and as the first runners came staggering by looking dry and spent, it only made me worry more. Finally I saw her in the growing crowd of runners: she was smiling,  sunglasses on, sucking on a popsicle and weaving around all the people that were dropping out. She didn’t look tired at all.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chuffing home

On our drive back to Boston, we decided that we would pull off the highway whenever it got close to Oliver's feed-time. Somehow the time came when we were closest to the exit for Palmer, Massachusetts. We pulled off and ended up at this crazy restaurant, The Steaming Tender, that was set up in an old train depot and catered to a railroad-enthusiast audience. There were active tracks on both sides of the restaurant, so we saw a few trains go by while we ate.
Bruce has outgrown the train fever he once had (see here and here), but was still stoked about the setup. Phoebe had her nose to the window throughout dinnertime and loved checking out the old steamers and coaches in the railyard.

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Rained out

Our camping trip ended one day earlier than we had planned because of rain. In one night, it rained about five inches. The kids' tent was fine; they stayed completely dry. Our big tent had some problems though: mainly, the rain fly was so heavy-laden that one of the hooks snapped off, leaving a hole in the fly. Our sleeping bags and everything was soaked by the next morning, so we packed all our gear into the car. When we put the last few items in the car, the rain stopped - but our stuff was soaked so there was so way we were staying any longer. Since the rain had stopped, we fit in one last hike before driving home. We went to a waterfall that was gushing from the torrential rains. We all hiked above the falls, but Scott and Bruce hiked down below and saw the more spectacular view. I had the camera with me, so instead of a beautiful waterfall, a video of Phoebe acting like an elephant is what I got. Enjoy!

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City kids

This is why we need to get out of the city sometimes.

Let me just apologize for the shaky video. Apparently even the best image stabilization can't cover up the jostles from holding a baby while filming.

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Our campground was near the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, so we cleaned up as much as we could and headed there one morning. It was a cool museum that was more interactive than the traditional art museum. Phoebe made a caterpillar in a kids' area that had ongoing art projects.
 This exhibit had a bird made entirely out of buttons stuck on the ends of pins.
You could drop buttons through the top and they would clink, clink, clink down through the other buttons and make a cool sound.
 One of our favorite exhibits was "Xu Bing: Phoenix." The artist used reclaimed factory parts and made huge dragon-like sculptures.
 Scott was inspired by the Sol LeWitt wall art exhibit and is convinced we need to do this at home.
 I liked that most of the art was kid-friendly/ touchable.

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Oliver's first camping trip

Once our family left town, Scott still had a few days off work. Scott planned on going backpacking with Bruce, but then Phoebe found out and she wanted to go too. And then if they were both going, I felt like I had to go too - and so it turned into a family event. We headed to the Berkshires for some camping (backpacking was a bit too much for me and Oliver at this point).
We stayed at Savoy Mountain State Park, one of about a zillion state parks in the area. We hiked and played there, and drove over to Mount Greylock for some more hiking there. Wild blueberries are in season, so the kids filled their tummies on just about every hike.
When we went to Mount Greylock, I had to feed Oliver before setting out. Scott and the kids headed out on the trail and I told them I'd catch up with them on the loop. There was one part of the loop where the trail split into two before joining later back into a single trail: one side of the trail went to some scenic vistas (Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts) and the other side went to some airplane wreckage that the kids thought would be cool to check out. Apparently Scott said they would meet me at the scenic vistas, but my sleep-deprived brain didn't compute that so I headed for the airplane wreckage and pressed forward on the loop. I got back to the car a few hours later, fed Oliver again, got a little nap, and finally Scott and the kids showed up at the car wondering where I'd been the whole time. Oops.
 Here is the view from Greylock. I saw the airplane wreckage, which was also cool/ scary. It was a crash from the late 1940s and the plane looked like it was made from flimsy pipes; the pilot was flying newspapers from New York City to Albany on a foggy night.
The kids love camping and hiking so much. Bruce and Phoebe stayed in a small 2-person tent while Scott, Oliver, and I occupied a much roomier 6-person tent. Bruce and Phoebe slept great. Scott slept okay. And Oliver and I had one good night (he got up once) and two bad nights (he got up every 1.5-2 hours).
 Oliver survived without a single bug bite. Bruce and Phoebe each got one or two. Above, Bruce has a band-aid mustache from a scratch Phoebe gave him.
We hiked around Natural Bridge State Park after driving past it on the road once or twice. It has a natural bridge of course...
 ...and lots of super-old graffiti...
 ...and a dam built out of marble.

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer time is beach time

Before our family left town, we headed to the beach for some quality time. The kids were excited to get out their kite.
 We have tried flying our kite in the neighborhood park, but it's hard to 1) get enough wind here in the city, and 2) not hit power lines/ buildings/ trees. It flies much better at the beach.
 Phoebe was happy to have some sand to roll in.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Raymond Family weekend

Two weekends ago we had lots of family in town for Bruce's baptism on Saturday and Oliver's baby blessing on Sunday. 
We had a full house plus the Raymonds occupied a friend's place. This was a typical scene: Valerie dressed in an apron and looking through a cookbook, Phoebe "helping" (here, she is stirring filling for a blueberry pie), Nancy and Leslie playing a game, and Mark and Grandpa Bruce shucking corn.
My nephew, Sam, also came for the weekend. Lana was a champ and played this Boston-themed Monopoly game with them.
Oliver was always in someone's arms, which he was just fine with. He loves to be loved.
And he loves to be fed and burped.
Bruce's baptism on Saturday was wonderful. He selected the program: the songs, speakers, prayers, and refreshments. I said the invocation, his grandpas gave brief talks about baptism and the Holy Ghost, and he wanted Phoebe to say the closing prayer. She bagged out at the last minute because she was hoping for a microphone and wasn't satisfied that it was just a podium at the front of the room. Grandma Mars filled in at the last minute.
Before the baptism, Bruce had a little chat with the Primary president (the leader of the organization for kids under 12 years old at church). She gave him a dry erase board and told him to write down his thoughts during the baptism. As you can see, he is doing away with "wrongs."
After the baptism, we took lots of pictures with family and chowed on Bruce's chosen refreshments: blueberry muffins, fruit, ginger-chocolate cupcakes, and Oreos (yes, Oreos at 10 a.m.). Scott's three sisters and younger brother and parents all flew in to be with us for the occasion. My parents and nephew came as well.

Afterward, I asked Bruce how he felt. He gave me one hyphenated word: "warm-hearted."
This is the first time Scott and his siblings have all been together in awhile. They're already making plans for a family trip next year.
Sunday was Oliver's day to shine. He wore a white gown that Grandma Mars found for him; when I pulled out Bruce's old blessing outfit, it didn't fit Oliver. Oliver was blessed at church surrounded by friends and family. Phoebe really wanted to be involved; mostly, she wanted to show off "her baby." So after the  blessing, Phoebe rushed up front and helped Scott hoist Oliver up and then carry him back to our pew.

The whole weekend left me "warm-hearted" and so thankful for my family. I am so thankful that Bruce is such a good amazing kid that thinks seriously and generally makes good choices. I am thankful that Phoebe is independent, spunky, and so caring toward her brothers. I am thankful that Oliver is here and healthy. I am thankful that Scott finished intern year and his schedule allows him to spend more time with us. I am thankful that our parents were so helpful to us throughout the summer and were able to be with us this weekend.

Life is good, so good.

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