Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ellie's 9th birthday

Never has there been a girl more excited for her birthday to arrive!
Ellie anticipates this day all year!

We usually spread out the cheer by having a dual celebration...(a party on her actual birthday at home and one at Granny's in Butler when she goes out to visit for a few weeks every summer).

Because of the nature of having a summer birthday, we tend to lean towards having her birthday parties be a family affair...So many people are out of town in the summer and it always seems hard to coordinate having her friends over...

After a dinner of steak on the grill and twice baked potatoes, (per her request), it was time for "cake"...

Her favorite "cake"...coconut cream pie!  Just the name coconut sends her into a fit of giggles...
(never quite figured that one out!)

Since her birthday fell on a Sunday, we all change out of our church clothes and get into pajamas...(hence the "dressed down" approach for Ellie and I.

She never lacks enthusiasm, that's for sure!

Ellie is one of the kindest, most genuine and thoughtful people I've ever known.  It never ceases to amaze me at her ability to recognize when someone is sad or feeling left out, and her ability to forgive when someone has been mean to her is amazing.  

Our family wouldn't be complete without her...

Happy Birthday, Sis!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Yellowstone Trip--part 3

After saying goodbye to all of the cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents,
we started driving back...

We stopped in Utah see Brian's grandfather who lives in a beautiful assisted living facility in Layton.
This was a great opportunity to have Grandpa Parry give Jake his patriarchal blessing.

We had a nice visit with him and then headed over to see our dear friends, the Merrills and Brian's brother, Kreg and his family who live just a block or so away from Rob and Heather.

The kids got to visit with Jen and Larry's kids again (since they had just driven back from the cabin in Idaho a few hours earlier).  They got to stay overnight there while we went to dinner with Rob and Heather. 
Brian and I stayed in a hotel that night.  It was nice not to have to share our space with the kiddos...

From there, we drove through Glenwood Springs Canyon and Vale, Colorado.  We stayed in Aurora that night.

We then drove on to Independance, Missouri where we were able to go to the Liberty Jail visitors center.  We got to see an interesting presentation about Joseph Smith's time there.

Look at how thick the walls were in the jail!  

We stayed in Independence that night...

The next day, we drove to St. Louis, ( of my least liked places).  It was unbelievably hot and humid...(especially oppressive since we were used to dry heat at that point).  The kids wanted to go up in the arch but the lines were so long and my patience was waning at that point.

There was an interesting (and more importantly, air conditioned!) museum at the arch where we were able to get our National Park pass stamped as well as learn some new things about the Louis and Clark expedition.

One of the only highlights of our stop off in Missouri (for me, anyway) (besides the airconditioning) was the fact that we got to see a rainbow...!

Which must have been an omen of good things to come...

Shortly after seeing the rainbow, the girl that was house/pet sitting for us sent me this text.  My cat was stretched out in one of our window boxes.  After seeing this, I started feeling super homesick and was anxious to return to non-nomad living.

When we returned the rental van, the final mileage that we ended up putting on it was 6070 miles...

It was definitely a trip to remember...A trip of a lifetime, really...

But it was good to be home!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Yellowstone Trip--Part 2

We met up with 4 out of 5 of Brian's brothers and his sister and all of their kids and Brian's parents, Pete and Judy...

It was really great to see everyone as they were all really little the last time they were all together...

We rented 2 cabins in Island Park (which is about 45 minutes from Yellowstone Park) on the Idaho side.
The bigger house/cabin was where all the kids slept and a few "lucky" adults...(tee hee...twasn't me!)

The girls didn't waste any time getting in the hot tub!
I failed to see the appeal when the outside temperature was about as hot as the water temp! ugh!

Who knew hunting for ground squirrels would be such a popular past time with the boys?

After watching an overview of the park at the IMax theatre, we headed over to Old Faithful to see the geyser go off...

Top:  Allie, AuBrea McKinnley, McKayla, Madison
Bottom:  Ellie, KarLeigh, Bailey, Reilly

Ellie took a real liking to Allie....

Shannon and Tawnya

We went on a hike...(which ended up not being all together).  Not sure how Libby and I got separated from everyone else, but we managed to take a few pictures of the scenery...

Isn't it amazing?

Probably shouldn't have been this close, but couldn't resist...
He seemed to have other things on his mind than me, anyway!

Yeah!  I cool is this?!  
This guy right near the road!

This was one of the views from one of the several sulfur pots located around the park...

We had a picnic in Mammoth where we saw a ton of elk just laying around.  Notice the babies to the right!

And this!  Wow...not something you see everyday, that's for sure!

After driving forEVER, we finally ended up spotting a bear.  A bear sighting had been tops on all of our wish lists!