Friday, July 31, 2015

Roadtrip to Utah - Imagine Learning Party

Our time in Zion culminated with a giant work party hosted by Imagine Learning. Although there is no such thing as a perfect company, we feel like there is so much to love about where Jeff works and his coworkers really do feel like family. (That might have something to do with the fact that the two people he works most with are his mom and his brother. But that's just one more reason to love the company.) Thanks to our annual club trips, we have gotten to know the spouses and families of his co-sales workers really well, and it is always fun to see them and catch up. Imagine Learning throws a great party, and this one was no exception. BBQ, balloon animals, face painting, cotton candy, snow cones... what's not to love?

After the party that night, I ditched Jeff and the kids (on our anniversary! yikes!) to crash my old book group from Orem. I have been waiting for three years to have our trips home coincide with one of their meetings, and this time the stars finally aligned! We spent the evening under the night sky discussing a great book and enjoying each other's company. I miss those amazing ladies so much and it was manna for my soul to spend the evening with them. (Don't worry, Jeff and I will celebrate our anniversary soon. It wasn't forgotten, and he fully supported me taking advantage of the chance to see my friends.)

Utah, you have been and always are good to us. Thank you for the great week. Take care of our family and friends. See you again soon.

Roadtrip to Utah - Alpine Slides and Olympic Park

I got the idea that it would be super fun to take my kids to Park City to ride the alpine slides. I have very fond memories of riding them as a kid, and wanted to share that experience with them. I roped my parents into joining us, and we made the drive up to beautiful Park City. I'd done my homework beforehand, and I knew that Logan could ride solo, but Savannah and Isabelle needed an adult to go with them. My dad volunteered to stay at the bottom with Sawyer, which made the numbers work out perfectly.

I was a little concerned about Isabelle, my least thrill-seeking child, and spent a lot of time prepping her and explaining the ride and how we could slow down any time we wanted. In my overzealousness for her anxiety, however, I failed to explain to Logan the basic of navigating the slide and pump him up for the speed and thrill that he would experience riding solo. I learned my lesson the hard way, when the rest of us were all at the bottom for a solid 5 minutes before he came into view, creeping slowly down the track and tailed by 6 or 7 other riders. I felt so guilty, especially for ruining the rides of all those others people! Oops, lesson learned.

The alpine slides didn't take very long, and since we had made the long drive up to Park City, we decided to go check out the Olympic Park. The last time I was there (5 years ago), there had been skiers training on the ramps. I hoped we might see that again, but had no idea what the training and practice schedule was.

The odds were in our favor (or maybe there are just always skiiers training) because we got quite the show! We saw everything from tiny kids just barely learning how to go down the ramp, to a freestyle skier that was downright insane. We watched for a half hour or so, never bored or seeing the same thing twice. It was a beautiful day, too, which made it that much more fun.

Favorite shot of the day:

After a while we ventured inside to tour the free museum. The Olympics came to Salt Lake City just before I moved there for school. I don't feel like I followed the opening ceremonies or events very well-- definitely not as closely as I would have if I'd lived there then--so it was neat to learn all about the 2002 Winter Olympics. This ended up being one of my favorite things we did while in Utah, and it was totally spontaneous!

Roadtrip to Utah - Alma Mater

My shopping list when I am in Utah is often long, as there are many things that can only be purchased there. LDS distribution supplies, Grandma Sycamore's bread, fashionable clothing that doesn't have to be altered, and BYU paraphernalia, to name a few. The last thing on that list merited a trip to the BYU bookstore, and consequently a short tour of campus. We spent way too much time and money in the bookstore and only had a few minutes to walk around, but we wandered through the library and visited my once-upon-a-time home away from home, the Talmage Building.

I mainly lived on the second floor of the Talmage with the rest of the Statistics crew, but the bottom floor houses the computer sciences, and Logan was extremely interested in seeing those rooms. "Is this where they make apps, Mom? Is this where Uncle Byron made his first app? Do they program in these labs?"

As we walked back to the car, Logan asked if I would help him get into BYU one day. Mission accomplished.

Roadtrip to Utah - Hanging with the Mackays

This happens often enough to make it not seem like a coincidence, but coincidentally my parents were visiting Utah the same week we were! It worked out great for the kids and I, because Jeff and most of our Pendleton family were busy working during the day. The first day I met my mom at Thanksgiving Point to take advantage of their reciprocal relationship with the Arkansas museum that we have passes to. I considered going to the Museum of Natural Curiosity, but our experience last year was that it was extremely overcrowded, and I've heard it's only gotten worse. So instead, we went to our old stomping grounds, the Museum of Ancient Life. Logan is on a huge dinosaur kick right now (thanks to the revival of the Jurassic Park series), and I knew he would love this museum. I was not wrong. He knew all the names of the dinosaurs and random facts about each of them.

I've never been all that interested in ancient sea life, but this Megalodon is always fun to pose in front of.

After the museum we headed to Wheeler farm to explore for the afternoon. By the time we got there, the afternoon heat had set in and it was HOT. Of course, as I sit here now in the full brutality of heat + humidity, I would go back to that dry desert day in a heartbeat. But at the time, it felt miserable, and we didn't last very long walking the grounds. (Although we did see two little lambs playing, which were about adorable as they come.)

Grandpa Mackay decided to take a nap in the grass, which is never a good idea when our kids are around.

See? Told you so.

But Grandpa has some ammunition of his own.

Luckily, Uncle Byron took over and spent a good 15 minutes wrestling with the kids. From the day Logan was old enough to fight back, Byron has been the human punching bag to our crew. This pretty much defines every interaction they have with him. Byron is going to be a first-time dad any day now, and judging by the caliber of uncle he is, he's going to be a top notch dad.

Roadtrip to Utah - Sawyer the Speed Demon

Grandpa Pendleton has acquired a new set of wheels since the last time we visited. To say the kids were thrilled is an understatement. Sawyer especially could not get enough of the red race car, and would go sit in it any time it was left unmanned. At first we would have to walk along side him, steering and pushing the gas pedal for him. But by the second day, he had figured out how to drive independently, and that's when the real shrieks of joy began.

It was a riot watching him drive the car around, always with an adult chasing him to make sure he didn't drive off the road or into a wall. Sawyer just screamed and squealed the whole time. The car went faster when lighter kids were in it, so Sawyer got going faster than anybody else!

When he wasn't driving, Sawyer was chasing down whoever was. He was willing to share, but only if he was next in line at any given point in time. It was pretty darn cute, and almost made me want to get one of our own. But then I realized we'd be doing this dance ALL the time. Eh... I think the motorized vehicle will have to be a just-at-Grandpa's house thing.

Roadtrip to Utah - Pendleton Crew

It would be blasphemous to have every member of the family in one location and NOT take a family picture! We've added four to the mix since our photo last year. This picture is the composite of the best faces from several tripod attempts, and yes, with 30 pictures to choose from, that was the best Isabelle face I could find.

Grandma and Grandpa with their grandkids.

Will there ever come a day we don't have to take a silly group shoot? I hope not.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Roadtrip to Utah - Meeting the Birthday Boys

In July, we made our annual migration to Utah for Jeff's work conference in Provo. Since James is an Imagine Learning employee as well, his family started driving from Kentucky at the same time we started our trek from Arkansas. Amy was in nearby Idaho with her Katschke family and would come down to meet us in Utah. Ashley already lives there, so... BAM! Impromptu reunion! James and Katy had a much longer drive than we did, but they drove through the night and met us in Denver just as we were waking up in hotel. We played with the kids at the pool while James caught an hour of sleep, then continued on to Utah.

We made it in town just in time to celebrate our nephews' first birthday, which (sadly) was the first time the kids and I had met them! Ashley put together a fabulous Sesame Street themed party, complete with fruit trays that looked like Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and Oscar. Her cakes and cupcakes were character themed, too, and tasty to boot! The entire Pendleton posterity was present, and we all had a great time reuniting and being together. Sawyer went right to Emma and Taylor, thanks to spending time with them in June on our East coast trip.

This little wagon was a hit with the twins! Hudson immediately started pushing Caden and they both were giggling contagiously.

The cake was the highlight of the night, for sure. Nothing like a baby's first taste of sugar.

After the party we transitioned to a park to play, eat, relax and enjoy the one day we all had to spend together. We played a hilarious round of giant banagrams, and ducked under a gazebo when a sudden rainstorm caught us unaware for a few minutes. Being with family, especially after long periods apart, is truly heaven on earth.

Independence... and Dependence

I have no pictures to document our Independence Day weekend this year, but it was too fun packed to not record it in the books! It started with a text message a few days before from my sister-in-law, Katy, asking if she could come stay with us that weekend for an impromptu visit and house hunt. Well, how could I say no to that?! She and baby Henry flew in the next morning, and we started her search immediately. It was a busy four days as we narrowed down the search a little more each day, with success coming just hours before her flight home. We did take a break in the middle to set off an undisclosed dollar amount of fireworks in the street. It was a bits and pieces gathering that night, with representatives from all our relatives in the area-- Nate (whose family was away visiting other family), Bianca, Chloe and Delilah (Bryson and Alyssa were touring the southern seas), and of course, Katy and Henry.

My favorite part of the weekend came at the very end. Jeff had to fly out on a business trip, so Katy and I were alone on her last night searching for a chick flick after the kids had gone to bed. We started one that was a dud, so we were searching for an alternative when we stumbled across the first Twilight movie on Netflix. With girlish insensibility, we convinced each other to watch it, giggling at it's corniness and swooning over the heartthrobs. When it ended, we rummaged through my cupboard and what luck! Found the second Twilight movie! With even less sense than before, we started it and stayed up way too late watching it.

I thought that was the end of our Twilight marathon, since we ran out of footage and were both falling asleep on the couch. The next day I dropped Katy off at the airport and started driving home, looking forward to the time she would live close and we could have more fun times together. Less than an hour later, she called and told me her flight was delayed, which would cause her to miss her second leg, and there wasn't another one until the morning. My mind quickly did the math, and before long we were both back on my couch, watching the next segment of the Twilight series. You can probably guess the rest... we watched the entire 5 part series in 2 nights! It was so fun, so silly, and so exactly what I needed. I have been blessed with wonderful family not only by birth, but by every marital addition. Thanks for the fantastic weekend, Katy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Adios Nueroma!

This post is fairly self indulgent, and has a semi-gory photo down a bit, so if either of those turn you off, you might want to stop reading now. I am a complainer when it comes to health. That is not to say that I am unhealthy, just that when something aches, I whine about it. A lot. So after a year or so of complaining about my foot and it's sporadic numbness, I decided to go see a doctor about it. His quick diagnosis found a nueroma - a thickening of nerve tissues between my third and fourth toes. A trip to the podiatrist and two cortisone shots later saw no improvement. The next option was to cut the neuroma out. I was pretty fed up with the tingling and shooting pains at that point, so I scheduled the surgery.

The surgery was quick, less than a half hour, but I still had to go under general anesthesia for it. The last thing I remember was talking to Jeff in pre-op, then waking up in the exact same spot while a nurse was putting a sock on my foot. Jeff says I was alert for much longer than that, but my memory of it has been wiped completely blank. So trippy!

The first day I spent a lot of time like this.

Which quickly morphed into this when I realized I couldn't feel the ice through all that bandaging.

By the second day I moved to this while Jeff made dinner and took care of everything else around the house. At that point I was feeling pretty good.

After a few days I could hobble around while wearing this funny boot. Jeff had to leave town for a few days, and of course it was then that Isabelle decided to stick a bead up her nose. We narrowly avoided an ER visit with some extraction tips from my friend, Meg, who is an expert when it comes to nose obstructions.

Eventually the big bandage came off and I was able to wear flip flops again, but not comfortably. It took three weeks before I could walk without limping. 

See what I mean about indulgent? How many pictures of my foot do I need in one blog post? Well, at least one more, so you can see the gory nastiness of my split toes.

Almost four weeks later, the scar is healing nicely, and I am walking normally and can wear shoes again. The tingling numbing is gone, but I can still feel nerve pain if I put pressure on the right spot on the bottom of my foot. I hope that is just because I have a sliced nerve that is healing and will eventually go away. There are trade offs to removing nerves, and mine is that I no longer have any feeling on the inside of my two toes that were fed by that nerve. It is taking some getting used to, but already I can tell that my brain and body are adjusting, and it won't bother me forever (I hope).

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

7 Years!

On June 24, Savannah celebrated her 7th birthday. In the spirit of our no-birthday party year, we let her pick the agenda for the day, which included visiting some princesses at the park and going to see Inside Out. I had no idea she even knew what Inside Out was about, but apparently she had seen a promotional poster on a field trip and memorized all the characters names. She was ecstatic to finally see it, and the rest of us were more than happy to appease her.

Savannah's birthday gifts revolved pretend play. She got a box full of teacher supplies (thank you, Emma, for getting this idea out of her!) and a stylist chair for her dolls. Savannah loves to play school and I am always finding piles of "tests" and "homework assignments" for her class. She also loves to do hair (and is getting pretty good at it), so both gifts were very well received.

Of course we did the traditional birthday balloon pop-- 7 balloons, 7 dollars.

I had thought that part of the compromise for not having birthday parties this year would be an intricate cake that I would lovingly and painstakingly make for each birthday. Well, Savannah thwarted that by asking if she could make her own cake. She loves to bake, so how I could I turn her down? She made a pink cake that we later topped with whipped cream, strawberries, and bananas. It was delicious.

This picture cracks me up. Sawyer finally figured out how to blow out candles. Savannah sweetly let him help her. They made a pretty good team!

Happy birthday, sweet and sassy Savannah! You are the epitome of sugar and spice, and I couldn't love you more. Thank you for being a gentle peacekeeper in our family and filling our days with love, laughter, and music. You are blossoming every day and I am so lucky to be your mother!