Friday, July 30, 2010

To do

I really need to finish the ward newsletter (or even starting it would be good)

and prepare my lesson

and make a menu and shopping list

and do the shopping

and get children to clean their rooms

and mop my floor

and clean up this morning's pancake mess

and I promised the kids a trip to McD and the rock wall today
(though I had to explain, to very sad little faces, that they aren't old enough for the zip line yet)

I'd much rather take a nap,

spend a couple hours chatting with Amanda

do some writing I've been putting off

and hire a personal shopper/chef.


In other words, I'm rather pathetically lazy today.

I suppose I should get to work.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Kylie's vocabulary

I usually keep track of the kids' words when they start talking, but I've been really bad about it with Kylie, so I figure I'll at least put it here, so I have a record somewhere.

Mama Dada Yaya Mimi Papa Dy-dy(Dylan) shoe soo-soo(swimsuit) in-ah(Ginger)

Doe(dog) tair(chair) be-bo(belly button) eye ear nose no go whoa ow car butt

poopoo tah (stop) stuh (stuck) haw(hot) haa(hat) choo-choo pone(phone) tub

out cool mine baby uh-oh hi bye bye ni-ni(night night) bo(book) pu-ple (purple)

ju(juice) tane oo (thank you) moe(more)

It seems like I'm missing a couple, but that's all I can think of at the moment. She's picking new ones up everyday, so its easier all the time for her to be bossy ;)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I love how Keilana jumps with gleeful abandon into the deep end, belly-flopping with a smile on her face.

I love that it hasn't hit 105 once this summer.

I love that Kylie will charge into any pool or lake she finds, and reacts as though she's won the lottery when you tell her its time for a bath.

I love that Dylan can spend hours making trains and train tracks out of Legos, blocks, trucks, paper, or anything else smallish and squarish.

I love that my husband has so many great ideas and that my thoughts and dreams are bigger because of him.

I love rocking my littlest Wild Thing to sleep.

I love a good piece of fiction.

I love that my oldest child is so very helpful.

I love that my son reminds me so much of the man I love.

I love that my little girls are rough and tumble types who enjoy nothing more than skirts and jewelry and make up--it gives me great hope that they will find balance in their lives.

I love how delicious fresh fruit tastes in the summer.

I love unexpected good fortune.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

". . .why is it that infants, innocent children, are taken away from us, especially those that seem to be the most intelligent and interesting. The strongest reasons that present themselves to my mind are these: This world is a very wicked world. . .The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again. . . The only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is free a little sooner from this miserable, wicked world. Notwithstanding all this glory, we for a moment lost sight of it, and mourn the loss, but we do not mourn as those without hope."
~Joseph Smith, Jr.

Every now and then, when I have all of Amanda's kids, it suddenly hits me very hard that I don't have all of Amanda's kids. Kylie and Claire alternate entertaining each other with antagonizing each other, and Keilana and Dylan go rounds over who Clayton's going to play with when each of them wants to play something different. When one of them ends up being the third wheel, its hard not to think that someone's missing.

It makes me wonder what Conner would be like now, how he would fit into this little bunch I watch grow together. Sometimes I'm almost convinced that if I turned quickly enough, I'd see a beautiful little blonde smiling eagerly at the group, just watching from a distance somewhere.

When you're a parent, its hard not to feel a loss like that deeply, even when its not your child, because you can't even stand to think about how you'd feel if one of your kids slipped away. Its hard to imagine anything worse. I'm not one that generally gives way to tears easily (though I admittedly get progressively worse with each child), but hearing of another parent's loss usually nudges me there, even when I don't know them.

But I take great comfort in knowing that I will get to know Conner better at some point. Amanda and Tim (and all the rest of us) will get the chance to watch him grow and learn, see more of his charming, contented smile. I take great comfort in knowing that, even though I'll never see him, he probably is watching sometimes.

I love all these little people, even if occasionally they make me want to pull my hair out. I never want to have to say goodbye to a single one of them.

I'm getting callous

Today, on the way home from the fountains, I was holding Dylan's and Kylie's hands, Kylie was holding Clayton's, Clayton was holding Claire's and Claire was holding Keilana's, so that we formed this little human chain. The kids all thought it was terribly funny (I'm not sure why, since my three are quite used to this tactic--I use it a lot).

Anyway, Clayton looks at his sister and says, "My baby's so cute!" and I said, "They're all pretty cute."

"Am I cute?" he asked, quite obviously expecting some head-petting.

"Not really," I replied, "You've kinda hit that point where its all downhill and you just get weirder and weirder until you turn into an awkward adolescent."

Whoa. Did I just really say that out loud to a 6 year old? I did.

Clayton, confident as always that he would get the answer he wanted, had completely stopped listening and was happily bumbling on into the house to turn the TV on, since I told them that they could watch a movie when we got back.

Every once in a while, I'm grateful that that kid doesn't listen to a word I say.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Poor forgotten birthday girl

So, we didn't actually forget Keilana's birthday. I just forgot to blog it, because she got sick and then we went to Fresno for baby blessings, and then we left town unexpectedly and. . .it never happened. Since I can't really do anything but sit or lay down, I thought now was as good a time as any.

I let her decide what to have for breakfast. She wanted to go to this Mexican bakery a few blocks away:
Actually, she asks to go once every few weeks, but since its her birthday I took her. Tell me where else you could find such a delicious birthday breakfast for $0.50? It doesn't look like much of anything fancy, but everything I've ever tried here is delicious.
Keilana loves these giant, sugar-covered rolls. And, of course, she always gets a pink one.

I love these two together. Seth is one of Keilana's best friends. Their hair matches and his birthday is only two days before her's. And he's a good balance to her--this guy is Mr. Mellow.
Part of the crowd. A few others had wandered off to play with some of the new toys and didn't want to be in a picture. Notice my kids cheesing to the point of their cheeks nearly cracking, and Seth showing his mad fighting skills with that sword there.
The morning curls. She loves having her hair put up in curlers and then bouncing around as soon as its out. It was a pretty good birthday for her and she was pretty excited to have her first ever "friend party". Man, six year olds love to pop balloons!!


You know the day's going to be good when you get almost no sleep due to pain, and then when you're making breakfast for your kids you have to stop to run to the bathroom and throw up, and realize its only water since you haven't had anything to eat in more than 12 hours. Then you realize you're starving, but figure that eating probably isn't a good idea if you can't keep a bottle of water down. Add to this the knowledge that you're going to have a couple extra kids in a few hours and your body and brain are exhausted, and it makes for a long morning.

I think I'm getting better. I actually ate some bread about an hour ago and so far, so good. And its only two extra kids, both of whom fit right into the routine around here because they visit me a lot. So hopefully it won't be too long a weekend.

Of course, I still have to take all five of them to church, two of them under two, and hope that the toddlers will stay in nursery because between the two of us, Doug and I have to teach three lessons on Sunday. Hopefully I'll get some rest between now and Sunday morning. Otherwise, I'm afraid there will be little about Sacrament Meeting that will be edifying for me or the kids.

Two years ago, I seemed to catch every bug going around, as did Doug, which I think was mostly just due to stress that winter. Other than that one season, I just rarely get sick anymore and when I do its usually just a minor cold or something of the like. That is not a fact I take for granted, one that I actually express gratitude for frequently. But I've had two knock-me-on-my-back miserable illnesses in a little over a month and a half. In the summer! What on earth is going on here?! I hate being sick.

OK. I ranted. I feel better now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The adventure of raising Dylan

When Dylan was scarcely more than an infant, I remember telling my mom how deliciously easy he was. I also remember following that up with some statement about how I was pretty sure that what made him really easy then was going to make him a lot harder in the long run.

Self-contained. Immovable. Very aware of what he wants. Independent. All of these things made him a ridiculously easy baby and toddler-he was so easily contented, because he knew what he wanted, it caused no harm and so he got to do it. He required very little of my attention to be happy, but was always happy about it when I wanted to give him attention.

Self-contained. Immovable. Very aware of what he wants (and what he doesn't). Stubbornly independent. These things make him a defiant, whiny challenge at 4 1/2.

Last night we were at Katy's to take the kids for a swim. After 2 years of insane, don't-you-dare-touch-me-or-take-me-into-the-deep-end attitude, we just threw him in. No amount of bribing, punishing, threats, or even ridicule would get him to even try to get away from the safety of the step. Once he leaves that step, he's no longer in control, and he can't hardly stand it. After forced movement into deeper waters and a heck of a lot of panicked screaming (Me: Dylan, if you can scream that much, you can breathe just fine), he will finally hold onto one arm and stretch his body out and kick. When we first got in and I started trying to convince him to come to me, he simply responded (without a hint of shame or resignation): "I'm a wimp." I replied, "Dylan, even Kylie will jump in. Look, she's not scared at all." His response? "I don't want to be big and brave. I'm a wimp." Well, little man, at least you own it.

Tonight, as I watched Kylie inhale her rosemary salmon so fast I started to wonder if I'd put it on her plate at all (and then she asked for seconds), and listened to my girls happily chat while they dipped their steamed asparagus in spicy mustard, I had to sigh as I looked across the table at Dylan, staring angrily at the untouched plateful of food in front of him. Finally, by feeding him bite by bite like a baby (with a promise of lemonade if he'd only cooperate), I was able to get a small portion of fish and half a sprig of asparagus in him, with minimal gagging.

I have often said that Doug and I rarely disagree or argue, but when we do its ugly, because it is much like an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object, so great are our respective stubbornesses and sureness that we are right. Apparently, Dylan got a healthy helping of stubbornness from both gene pools, but missed out on all the cooperative and people-pleasing tendencies we have in there somewhere.

Oh, but then he comes up with some quirky thing (a la, the wooden Melissa and Doug train turned upside down to become the Monster's Inc conveyer belts), and I fall in love with him all over again. And as I watch other children his age copying everything they see from (not always wholesome) TV or the older folk around them, I am grateful all over again for his incredible independence of mind. If we help him along correctly, it should serve him well.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What 7 year itch?

7 years,
3,000+ miles,
8 moves,
2 degrees,
3 kids,
too many cheeseburger and Chinese food runs,
a few fights,
a lot of trials,
and too many blessings to count
it couldn't be better.

I love being married to this guy. How unromantic the beginnings of our relationship probably seem. But for two people so accustomed to stubbornly trusting our own judgment, I have never been and never will be more grateful for anything than I am that we trusted something bigger and other than ourselves. I am so glad we trusted the whisperings of the Spirit and embraced each other. I can't imagine having more fun with anyone else. I could go on and on and on about all the things I love about him (no, really, I could--pages and pages), but I'll leave my take on marriage at this:

Laugh, a lot--but never at each other.
Trust. And be always worthy of trust.
Never excuse bad behavior. But never run your spouse down to anyone.
Be fiercely loyal.
Learn to speak each other's languages,
and then respond to your spouse
the way they want to be responded to,
not the way you want to be responded to.
Never, ever, ever give any reason
for your love to doubt your loyalty
and affection.
Love your kids. Make them the center of your world.
Don't take a second for granted.
Seconds slip away faster with every passing year.
Come what may, and love it.

Friday, July 9, 2010


We drove all the way from Salt Lake to Sacramento on our last major "car day", and then stayed in Sacramento that night so we could take some time off from the car and play on the way home. We love Sacramento!!

We stopped at the Sacramento Temple. Keilana has been obsessed with temples since she was about 3, so we try and stop at or drive by one when we get an opportunity (I think that so far the Christmas-lighted-bedecked LA temple has been her favorite). The temple grounds at Sacramento are very cool--lots and lots and lots of lawn covered in oak trees with some walking paths and benches here and there.

Before our next major stop, we found the LDS distribution center and I bought a new temple dress as a birthday present. The one I had was purchased before I got married, when I was like a size 7. I could still wear it, but let's just say it isn't flattering. I love my new one, so if you're going to the temple any time soon, be sure to invite me so that I can wear it as often as possible.

We spent the majority of our day down in Old Town Sacramento, specifically the California State Railroad museum. The downstairs is a huge room filled with real engines and coaches and freight cars from various points in history. Many of them you can walk through, and Dylan absolutely loved it (Kylie was actually more fascinated by all of it than I expected).

The second floor of the museum is dedicated to toy and model trains. They have a huge running model that has several trains on it, and lots of displays of older toy trains.

But the kicker is the two huge Thomas the Train tables. The last time we came here, these tables were so overrun with kids that Keilana didn't really play. This time (we came in the middle of the week, rather than on a Saturday), there were almost no kids, so our three had the run of the place. They were all in heaven, especially Dylan. We literally spent a couple hours just letting them play with trains.
Kylie loved to put all the trains in tunnels and such. But she would pack a whole bunch of engines in and then get mad and tell me "Stuh! Stuh! (Stuck)". She also learned to say "Choo choo" while she was playing.
Over two hours wasn't long enough for Dylan. He was quite upset when it was time to leave. This is what he spends most of his life doing anyway, but we don't have any Thomas tracks, so it was a little slice of heaven for him.
He told me he was being a train. They do train rides along the river, but apparently only on Saturdays and Sundays, so he didn't get to do that this trip. Next time.

Its been a long week, since Doug has been sick since we got home, but its good to be back.

We already miss Montana.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


The last night we were there, auntie Gwen sent home some snakes and sparklers with the kiddos and we lit them with Yaya. Dylan was OK with these fireworks, since they don't make loud noises.
Keilana loves sparklers, and told me she was Tinkerbell. It was less cute when Dylan said the same thing.

My uncle pointed out that he never sees a picture of my mom where she doesn't have a kid or two in her lap. Its true. She's every grandkid's favorite person (even shy Kylie is her buddy).

The Party!

The main event was Sunday afternoon at my parents' house. We all (I think Christa counted 62 of us Umphrey kin) had some super yummy Indian tacos (catered by my sister's mom-in-law, the frybread expert) and enjoyed the beautiful Montana afternoon/evening together. We're a rather informal group, so there wasn't any program or anything, but I think everyone had a great time. I'm related to some pretty cool folks.
Kanana seem to hit people a lot. Of course, Lex lives with Zoran and Israel so I don't think that's really much of a bother to him. He looks happy enough.
My fantastic sister-in-law, Christina (seriously, everyone loves her) and my nephew Aodhan (who actually belongs to another sibling, but the kids all kind of get tossed from one parent and one house to another. Its all a bit communal around there. He is seriously the happiest and most content baby I've ever seen. He's just almost always smiling.
Doug played goalie for the soccer fiends for a while--he was actually pretty good at it.
My older sisters with their babies--Gwen and Kanana (last of 3 or 6, depending on how you count), and Christa and Lex (last of her four).
John and Esteban were in pretty fantastic moods after watching Argentina win their world cup game, so they were showing some of the Montana kids their mad soccer skills (and they are both very talented). They were passing with their heads for a while. This doesn't seem like it would be fun to me, but they seemed to enjoy it.
Whenever my family gets together, there are cameras everywhere. This sister, Christa, my twin brother, Michael, and my dad are all really great photographers.
These two are brothers. Christina and Eldon's children seem to come in a variety of color combinations. But I've decided that these two boys are two of my favorites.

Bison Range

We took my grandma and her husband for a drive over the Bison Range. My kids had never been there (for shame!), and it'd been a while for me, so it was a fun trip. Clark played tour guide for us, since his 96 year old eyes seemed to spot the animals a lot faster than the rest of us. We saw quite a few buffalo, a large herd of antelope, a doe and little spotted fawn (up close and personal, they were--clearly used to the cars/people), and a couple of elk (just some females). It was a gorgeous day and the kids were really excited to see all these new animals. Once we got back down, we stopped for huckleberry milkshakes, of course :)

In the valley between where we're standing and those big, gorgeous mountains is my tiny hometown (Doug says it doesn't qualify as a town, but is instead merely a village or hamlet. I say 850 people is plenty big enough for a town).
I miss these mountains being out the back door. I really, really do.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


My sister acquired a couple of ponies last year, and they're pretty friendly creatures. All three of my kids love horses, have very little fear of them at all, and seem to take to riding (at least initially) quite naturally. Apparently, the genes came through even if their experiences haven't allowed them to spend much time around these type of critters. Doug is a horse lover, as is his grandfather, and my grandpa was a horse man through and through, locally famous for his horse training skills.
Dylan giving the rope swing a try while Daddy and Keilana round up the ponies. Buck, the plain-nosed fella, isn't terribly friendly. Usually, the kids don't ride him because he is so appropriately named. Dylan gave it a shot (while Doug had a tight hold on the lead). After 12 yards or so, he did start to hop a bit and knocked Dylan off. He didn't fall hard, and only cried for a few seconds before getting back on.
Don't you love their riding-appropriate footwear? Someday we'll get them on real horses. Until then, shorts and flip flops will do.

Kylie loved the ponies, and whenever she was outside (which was most of the time), she was trying to get someone to take her to the ponies or to the creek. She is an animal lover in general--I don't think she's ever met a critter she wasn't thrilled to touch and hold. :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kylie at the lake

We spent the Friday night we were there up at Twin Lakes with campfire, guitars, canoes, etc. Everyone had a good time, but I think Kylie had the most fun. She loves water, and every time I looked away for a second, she was trying to sneak her feet into the lake or was throwing rocks.

I love me some toddler belly. Look at that soccer ball tummy!
Enjoying the beautiful Montana sunset in her jammies.

Big Sky Country

Of all the things I miss about Montana, sometimes I think that its the sky I miss the most.

This is what I picture when the days get hot and hazy and smoggy in the San Joaquin Valley. A little slice of heaven, where there are blue skies and big, glorious, whiter-than-white cumulus clouds.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Independence Day

There are some scary/infuriating things going on out there. There have been for quite some time, but it seems to be accelerating. I like the idea of America, so I'm gonna keep betting on her for now. Enjoy your freedom, while you have it.

A thought from many years ago, that seems particularly prescient almost 250 year later:

"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue then they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."
~ Samuel Adams

Happy 4th of July, all.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Promontory Point

So it turns out that I took more than 650 pictures, not including the 80 or so that I snapped with my phone. Digital can be deceptive that way. So as not to overload you (or myself), I'm sorting through them one "phase" at a time.

On Monday, we decided the kids needed a break and something interesting to see. We'd gotten in the car at about 1pm on Sunday and drove clear to Beaver, UT, with very little stopping. We stayed in a Super 8 and then started on the road again at about 6:30 or 7. So the kids were getting fidgety and so were we. We took a slightly out-of-the-way route so we could see Promontory Point, where the Golden Spike was driven to complete the Transcontinental Railroad. They have working replicas of the two trains that were involved. Dylan was in heaven, explaining to me what all the different parts of the engines were.
This is Keilana and Doug in front of the Jupiter. Dylan really liked this engine quite a lot, and was rather irritated that he couldn't ride on it.
Dylan had one of his rare diligent-big-brother moments, helping Kylie up the stairs. They actually get along really well, Dylan is just usually too wrapped up in whatever he's doing to realize that she needs help with anything.
This is the No. 119 train. Doug liked the look of this one a bit better--and we got to see it do a fair amount of driving!

A little car weary, but still doing well at this point. We decided to veer off the wickedly boring I-15 through Idaho route, so at Dubois we hit the 22 and then the 93 at Salmon and drove up the 93 along the Salmon river until we hit the pass and headed into the Bitterroot Valley. It was a long drive, but SO much prettier and more interesting and less stressful than the Interstate. However, it made for a really long second half of the day on Monday. The kids handled it pretty well, all things considered.

More to come.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

3,000+ Miles

12 days. 18 cousins. Lots more 2nd cousins. 7 days at Yaya's house. Canoe trips, frybread, s'mores and buffalo. Quick stops in Salt Lake and Reno, ending with trains in Sacramento.

Glad to be home. Pictures and stories soon.