Saturday, May 31, 2014

Blood teeth

Now that he's 8, Logan gets to join the Cub Scout pack with our church. His very first activity was a pinewood derby. What a way to start! He missed the previous meeting (since he wasn't 8 yet) where they got together to build their cars, so with 2 days to go and Jeff out of town, I picked up a kit, rolled up my sleeves, and decided it was time to see what I was really made of. Thanks to a little help from cousin Bryson's miter saw, we came up with a very simple shark design. Logan thought it up and painted it himself. It may not be too fancy, but it's totally him and I love that. We used my kitchen scale to get it right up to the upper weight limit, and I even broke out some graphite powder for the wheels. I had no idea what I was doing and made a royal mess, but at the end of the day, the wheels spun and that's all that matters.

At the derby, Logan was asked to give him car a name. He chose Blood Teeth. Sigh.

The first hour or so was awesome as we watched the kids reactions to car after car going down the track. Their excitement and adrenaline was hilarious and a little contagious. Logan's car wasn't doing so hot, but at least that meant we'd be able to leave early. Or so we thought...

Just as we told Logan it was time to go, his car started winning! It made it clear to the semi-finals of the round before being knocked out. Since it was both Logan's and my first time ever making a pinewood derby car, I'm pretty proud of us!

Not bad for our first scouting event. Here's to many more! (I laugh every time I look at this picture because it's evidence that we've entered the "awkward years." That smile. The hair. Oh boy.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Logan's baptism and confirmation

Not so coincidentally, our Pendleton family reunion coincided with Logan's birthday and baptism weekend. We were so lucky and grateful to have so much family to support Logan on his big day. Everyone played a part in the program, and he felt very loved. Logan was baptized by his dad and confirmed by his Grandpa Pendleton on April 19, 2014--his 8th birthday.

During the months leading up to Logan's birthday, I began to wonder if he was really ready for this big step. I wasn't sure that he completely understood the covenant he was making and he really seemed to struggle with the concept that we can make choices but we don't get to choose the consequences, good and bad. We had lots of FHE lessons and chats, and in the process I began to understand that he was far more prepared than I had realized.

A few weeks before his baptism, we attended the baptism of a friend from church. During her baptism, Logan turned to me and said, "Mom, that almost made me cry." When I asked him why, he said, "Because I felt the Holy Spirit and it felt so good." At that point I knew that Logan was very much ready for his baptism.

Logan is inquisitive and thoughtful, and strives to understand every minor detail of everything he does. So when he made the decision to be baptized, I knew it wasn't some trivial or thoughtless choice. He truly has a budding testimony and loves the Lord. I am so lucky to be his mom and am grateful to all the family, teachers, and leaders along the way who have helped him become the wonderful little person he is.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The photo shoot

What family reunion would be complete without a family photo shoot? It's always interesting to see what the tripod and self-timer produce, but I'll admit we've gotten some pretty good shots in the past (especially after a little head swapping) so I'm always game to try it.

I'm pretty proud of my photoshop job here. It turned out the best picture to work with was one that I wasn't in. So I edited myself into the picture. Can you tell?

The grandkid picture is getting simultaneously easier (as kids get older) and harder (as there are more kids to work with).

Here are mine, from youngest to oldest...  

This one's mine, too. ;)

We also took one with just the adults which I thought turned out really cute.

And possibly my favorite photo of the evening... a little love from the grandkids.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Branson reunion

We had such a blast at our Pendleton reunion in Branson, MO this year. It started off with an eventful caravan from Bentonville with the Katschkes. Even though Branson is only 80 miles away, there is no straight shot to get there. Every route involves lots of windy roads and, consequently, lots of carsick kids. We also had to make a ridiculous number of bathroom breaks, which was challenging considering how few gas stations are on the way. But we made it eventually and soon after the rest of the family arrived. It always feels like Christmas when we get the whole family together, and I'm so glad the kids feel the same way. The cousins took off running and didn't stop the whole weekend.

Our "cabin" in Branson was the perfect setting. It was a large home set on a ton of acreage, so there was lots of room for our various activities. Grandma and Grandpa planned a scavenger hunt for the kids to find some fun new outfits they had made/bought for them.

Isabelle had a meltdown at some point during the hunt (heaven forbid someone ELSE get to read a clue), but Taylor stepped in and saved the day. I am so lucky to have such good role models for my children.

Kickball was a huge hit. The weather was beautiful and we took full advantage of it.

Grandpa took the little girls on a walk while the older kids played. He is such a sweet grandpa and is always taking time out for his little ones.

I was so sad that spring came late this year so our family didn't get to see Branson in all it's green leafy glory, but as a trade off we got some late blossoms instead.

We weren't sure if Ashley-- 20-something weeks pregnant with twins-- was going to make it this year. But she's a trouper and bore the flight and 3-hour drive to get there! After a long string of girls we are so excited for all the little boys joining our Pendleton family. These twin boys are going to be a very welcome addition. (Not that we don't love our girls, it's just nice to have some balance.)

This place was so surreal. From the tree-lined driveway to the white horse fences to the hens clucking around it was pretty close to my idea of paradise.

Since our reunion was the week leading up to Easter, we were able to have a big family Easter egg hunt in the yard. Again, I was struck with the beauty of the setting and couldn't have picked a more scenic setting for an egg hunt.

I love the story of this shot. Logan saw an egg at the base of a tree and ran to go get it before his cousin saw it, but ended up losing half his eggs as he went! I think I'll save this picture for our Family Home Evening lesson on greed. :)

He redeemed himself by helping another cousin reach a carrot that neither of them could have gotten alone. Then Madi was sweet and let Logan have it. Moments like this warm my heart and give me hope.

Taylor scaled this tree to find the large golden prize egg with a 5-dollar bill.

We have some tricksters in our family. Avery got an egg full of grass. Her reaction was priceless!

I have such beautiful nieces and nephews. It is such a joy to see them grow and be part of their lives.

One day was designated as an "unplugged" day. It was challenging for everyone. The adults had to put away their phones and iPads, and the kids couldn't have their afternoon movie to unwind like we usually do. It ended up being such a neat day, though, as we were able to focus on being together without any distractions.

To keep the kids occupied without the use of electronics, Emma directed a play with some of the other cousins. It was surprisingly well thought out and executed. I forget sometimes that Emma is a young woman now and not the little toddler I first met 10 years ago. Her creativity with costumes was awesome, too. Logan was an evil sorcerer. Savannah, Madi, and Olivia were princesses.

When you play hard, you crash hard. Thank goodness Aunt Ashley had a soft stomach to offer as a pillow!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A visit from the Katschkes

April was such a fun month. It felt like a constant party all month long. When I flew back from my sister's wedding, the Katschke clan had just driven in all the way from Wyoming! We have such great family that are willing to make massive road trips to visit us. Since my flight home was to Kansas City, we started their visit with some historic sights (Liberty Jail, the LDS visitors center, and the Community of Christ temple/museum). We then gave the Katschkes an authentic tour of the midwest by making them drive through hail and high winds to get to our home in Bentonville. It was pretty crazy weather but we made it home safe and sound!

No visit with Amy is complete without some sort of group workout. Even the kids got in on this one. I wish Amy and I lived closer to each other because I know she would be the best workout buddy ever. She is super motivating and always makes it fun (even if we do end up laughing too hard to do a single pushup).

We visited Crystal Bridges and Bentonville square, then went to our favorite family hangout, Fast Lanes.

All spring I had been hoping and praying for rain and warm weather so the trees would have leaves, but sadly they were only just starting to grow by mid-April. Every time I drive down the street now I am sad that our family missed seeing the full blown beauty of Arkansas by a couple weeks. I guess we'll just have to get them all out to visit again sometime. :)

I joke that we try to be just like the Katschkes, but are 4 years behind. I am 4 years younger than Amy, Jeff and I were married 4 years after than Amy and Joe, Logan (our oldest) is 4 years younger than Taylor (their oldest), and now our youngest are 4 years apart, too. So if you want to see what we'll look like in 4 years, see the top photo.

Probably my favorite thing we did was actually an afterthought. I love the War Eagle Mill, an old (but still functioning) mill set right on the War Eagle Creek. It is such a beautiful setting, and it doesn't hurt that you can buy fresh ground flour at the mill store. It was on the way home from our hike, so we stopped in and played by the creek for a bit. It was such a serene setting and so peaceful. My camera and I were in heaven.

This is the view from the parking lot of the mill. One day I will find some land like this and build our forever home there.