Tag Archives: Adventures

The Man in the Ditch

Ice on the windshield

On our way down the hill to swim lessons one morning, we watched a car skid off the road. The streets were slick with autumn rain and the driver of the SUV veered right into a ditch. I felt I had to stop and help since I saw it happen directly in front of me so I pulled over to see if anyone was hurt. Colin and I had traded vehicles that day so Maddie, Jake, and Joey were all sitting side-by-side in the backseat of his grey Camry waiting patiently for me to return.

I walked up to the car and knocked gently on the window to ask if the driver was alright. Yes, he said, he was fine. His ego was bruised more than anything else. The ditch was fairly deep so that the driver’s side was almost perpendicular to the ground. There was no getting out that side. No doubt about it, he was going to need a tow truck. I told him I would call the police and ask for their assistance. They informed me that they’d send a tow truck to pull him out. The driver seemed to really appreciate the time I took to lend him a hand. I wished him luck and the kids and I drove off to class.

Jake and Joey asked endlessly if the tow truck had come to rescue the man in the ditch. By the time we finished at the pool and headed back up the hill he was already gone. They were thrilled to see that help had arrived and could not wait to tell Dad about their adventure.

That night at bedtime Colin posed his usual question to the little boys about what he should sing to them as he tucked them in for the evening. “Wonderful World” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat or Semi-truck or Monkey or [fill in the blank]” are always a hit, but this night they had a different topic in mind.

“Sing about how the man went into the ditch!” Jake and Joe exclaimed.

Colin did not hesitate even for one second. He launched into the first of many impromptu renditions on this theme.

Camp songs, folk, pop, and indie versions, Mexican baladas, dubstep, all performed with fervor and aplomb. The boys ask for it every night and every night he delivers.

They all have the same basic lyrics. Rhyming is optional. Try making one up yourself using this easy formula:

There was a man who slid off the road. He went off into the ditch. We stopped in the gray car to help him. I asked if he was okay. He wasn’t hurt. The tow truck came and pulled him out of the ditch. He was fine.

The other night Colin rattled off a list of song styles from which the boys could pick. You guessed it. They chose opera. Look out, Plácido Domingo!

And on this Christmas day, I got to live out a dream come true. I sang an operatic duet with Colin. I must admit, we were quite good until I got to laughing so hard that I cut out on my soprano part.

I hope they continue to ask him every night for “The Ditch Song.” Colin is up for the challenge. Only please don’t request the country western version. You’ve gotta draw the line somewhere.

Summer To Do List 2013

Summer to do list 2013

School’s out for summer!

That’s what Warren’s school played over the P.A. system as the kids ran out of their classrooms on the last day of school. Summer vacation has officially started here and true to Pacific Northwest form it is raining. A ton.

But that didn’t stop us from compiling our annual Summer Fun List. We scaled it way back this year. We didn’t even get to half of our activities last time thanks to our great big move to Seattle.

This summer, I want the kids to come up with their own adventures. Our neighborhood is crawling with kids and nothing says summer vacation like endless afternoons of making up games, riding bikes, climbing trees, and spontaneous water fights.

So, we’ll get to these items when we can. Or maybe not. It’s just nice to have options, especially as we wait for the weather to improve. Everyone knows the season doesn’t officially begin here until July 5th.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to pass out Otter Pops to the neighborhood kids and pretend that it’s over 60 degrees as we wear our shorts and flip flops.

Enjoy the summer!

P.S. You can download a blank version of this list here.

She Said/He Said: Jeannie’s Trip to Boston

Boston Skyline | Painted by Jared

Boston’s Salt and Pepper Shaker Bridge, hand painted by Jared

Colin’s brother, Jared, and his wife, Laura, just had their third girl by C-Section. Last year, when I had my surgery they came out to help me recover. When we learned they were expecting, we knew we wanted to return the favor. So Colin and I planned a time when I could go out there for a whole week which, of course, meant that he’d have to be home with our own children for that week while I was gone. Here is the She Said/He Said debriefing of that week…

{Jeannie’s Week}

Although, admittedly, it is a fair amount of effort to care for other people’s children, or cook in a kitchen that’s not your own, it was an enjoyable adventure. I got to read the entire way on the plane, uninterrupted. I saw some snow. And most importantly, I got to spend some quality time with my adorable nieces, playing games and listening to as well as telling stories (Evelyn, at 5, is a master storyteller and enjoys hearing a good tale as well), and hang out with Laura, picking her brain about interior design as I continue planning to reform the Pig House, and comparing favorite recipes. I missed my family terribly, but the week flew by and Colin sent me several texts and emails with funny kid antics. I was so glad to be there to help with Laura’s recovery. Jared and Laura are amazing and we’re biding our time for the day when they move back to the west coast, hopefully to Seattle.

{Colin’s Week}

Survival mode.

Grand Ridge Trail Run 5 Miler

Get ready to run!

I have caught the racing bug.

Colin decided that after his Tough Mudder experience he needed another motivator to keep him running. He found a local race that we could do together before Thanksgiving. He invited Tami and Joe to train and run the race, too. We all signed up for the challenge.

What we didn’t realize was how insane the course would be. “Five miles,” you say, “how hard can that be?” When the first mile is straight uphill and full of switchbacks, you’d think again.

The mountain kicked my butt. I foolhardily made the goal to run the whole race without walking. I did no such thing. But although Colin ran the entire 500 feet elevation gain, he also had moments of walking, so I don’t feel so bad. Thank goodness for the downhill portions of the race!

Trail-running is beautiful, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the surroundings, even though it was quite chilly and a bit drizzly.

It was a great challenge. I’m so glad we did this, tough as it was to complete. We’re going to make it an annual pre-Thanksgiving tradition.

Any locals want to join in?

Tough Mudder

Colin meets the Tough Mudder

Joe talked Colin into participating in one of the most insane-sounding events around: the Tough Mudder. That’s 13 miles of army-like obstacles taken to the extreme. We’re talking ice water tanks, electrical wires, tubes, barbed wire and, of course, mud. All of it is meant to play on your fears and weed out the tough from the wuss.

Colin was up for the challenge. He trained hard in the month’s time he had to prepare, once we moved to Washington.

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The boys did a great job. Teamwork is the motto behind the event, which they took to heart. They worked together to complete the course, but not without injuries. Joe broke his nose and Colin bruised his rib. But they finished strong. Tough.

I couldn’t be there to witness the thing. Besides having four wiggly kids, they charged admission to be a spectator. So, Tami took these amazing pictures to capture the day.

Way to go Colin, Joe, Luke, and Aaron!

La Brea Tar Pits

We took another family trip to the L.A. Temple and spent the night in the temple apartments. Before joining our Ward (church congregation) on Saturday afternoon for baptisms and a Primary activity allowing the children to tour around the grounds and visitor’s center, we went to the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits on Wilshire Boulevard. It’s a paleontological wonderland in the middle of the concrete jungle that is Los Angeles. Millions of years old pits of tar with thousands and thousands of dinosaur bones they’re still digging up out of the muck.

I hadn’t been there since I was about ten on a class field trip and Colin and the kids had never been so we thought we’d meander around.

It was overcast, but warm that morning. We walked around the grounds and checked out the pools of tar and then ventured inside the museum to look at all the fossils.


Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day, like last year, was spent with Julianna’s family, only this time there was new baby brother Garrett to enjoy. We had a fabulous time at Zuma Beach, our favorite on the SoCal coast.

More good memories were made catching up, boogie boarding, digging in the sand, and eating lots of food.

To top it off, we ended the holiday at a BBQ with friends here in town.

The sun was shining non-stop, it was over 75 degrees, and we spent the afternoon with loved ones.

It was a perfect day.

Fathers and Sons Camp Out

Nearly every year (except for the time we had wildfires on the hillside) our Stake (large church congregation) plans a camp out to commemorate the Restoration of the Priesthood. It’s an opportunity for fathers and sons (of varying ages) to come together for good food (they usually have tri-tip) and bonding by the campfire. Warren loves it and looks forward to it every year.

They head up to camp around 4:30PM on Friday and return home around 11:30AM the next day. Jake and Joey are too little still (Colin is thinking 3 might be a good age, as to ensure they wouldn’t dive head first into said campfire), so it was just Colin and Warren this time. They took their mountain bikes up for a morning outing.

Many good friends from our Ward (unit of the Stake church congregation) attended as well. Everyone had a good time, especially the little boys who collected feathers and broken clay pigeon pieces to bury as treasure.

They came home dirty and tired. Just as it should be after a good camp out.

Bedroom Shuffle, Part II

Hallelujah, Colin and I finally got our bedroom back. It had been nearly a year of sharing our quarters with Jake and Joe. They weren’t bad roommates, per se, but having them in there with us was not my idea of a swell plan. With the adoption complete, we could finally put the babies where we saw fit.

So, we did. We moved them and Maddie into Warren’s room to create one big Sleeping Room. Maddie’s former bedroom is now dubbed, “The Play Room,” although her giant bunk bed still takes up half the space.

Everyone seems happy with this arrangement. The first few nights they were all too excited to be in there together, so sleep was put off longer than normal. Once they settled in, we could tell that they were glad to be all together, especially Maddie. She had spent the weeks prior to the change bunking with Warren while on vacation and then sharing with Tami and Joe’s kids while they visited. She wouldn’t know what to do with herself sleeping alone again. And why should she have to when she’s got three brothers to help her feel secure?

Despite a few kinks, like Maddie waking up in the middle of the night and going back to sleep in the doorway, I think everyone has settled into the new set-up. Just don’t mind the disaster you see on the floor! Ugh.

Hooray for getting our own space again!

P.S. Yes, that is a cardboard box you see on the top bunk (Warren’s bed). He decided he just had to have a bed for the teddy bear he got from the judge on adoption day. I’m just trying to remember that this request is a sweet gesture as I attempt to block out that nasty chemical cardboard smell that’s permeating the room.

Tami and Joe Visit Again

When we told our good friends, Tami and Joe, that we had a date for our temple sealing to Jake and Joey in mind, they started making plans to come down here to attend. We go back many years, back to the days of newly wedded-ness, and no kids, and late night cookie and ice cream study breaks. They’ve been there for us for so many ups and downs. They’re like family. Having them with us at the temple meant the world. And the fact that they’d be bringing their darling children along for a family vacation made the idea even better.

As usual, we spent long hours at night talking and eating delicious food, mostly cheese. 10:52PM on the microwave clock. We were just getting started.

We took a night out on the town to eat tapas after tapas at Milk & Honey, until we stuffed ourselves silly. But not enough that we couldn’t enjoy the Louisiana Bread Pudding Soufflé for dessert at the Palace Grill. To. die. for. I can’t remember a better evening.

And the rest of the time we looked for simple adventures.

We went to the Santa Barbara Mission. The kids ran around in the rose garden and enjoyed the warm sunshine.

We had them join in our Family Home Evening Easter Egg Hunt where the plastic eggs are filled with symbols that explain the purpose of the holiday. (Don’t worry, they still got some candy!)

Most walked away satisfied, except for Jake who felt slighted by a chocolate-less egg.

The big kids even planned their own activities. Like a backyard carnival, complete with popcorn, lemonade, games, and prizes. Below are the signs and tickets they created. These are imaginative kids, I tell you.

We’re so glad you came down for a visit– all of you this time. Come back soon, friends.