Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Northwest Family-filled Christmas

I know Christmas was quite a while ago, but it was just too good to skip it on the blog. We arrived at my folks place and headed over the mountains to visit Liz and her crew in the tri-cities for a few days. When we returned other siblings and families arrived one by one until we were all together for another Northwest Christmas Temus style. This was the last time we would all be together at our childhood home for a few years. Dad is retiring this spring! After a few planned adventures this year they are going to be leaving for 18 months to serve a church mission, which will be another big adventure. :)

Jane was really upset and distraught when she found out that the daddy cow had to be taken to another farm because he kept on breaking through the fences. We had broken up the little cow family and it almost brought her to tears. The importance of dads is not lost on her.

Making pizza and Christmas cookies. My mom finds the cookie making process much less stressful as a grandma than she did as a mom of little ones. Lower right: only the most photogenic cookies were chosen for this photo.

Liz organized a little nativity play for Christmas eve. It was short and a bit chaotic but really sweet too. The kids had fun with the cute costumes Liz had, Alex did a great job as the donkey, Charlie was instructing any one who would listen about how cows sound, the newly weds made for a cute Mary and Joseph, and Jane was stoked about being an angel. Upper right: Cooper with a shepard's crook can be a hazardous combination.

Charlie and Jane, of course, were the first to wake up Christmas morning. We entertained them with Christmas Bible videos for as long as they would last before taking them into Joe and Jessica before the rest of the house was ready. Joe would have rather slept longer but Jessica had offered so Joe got over ruled. Upper right: all three Davidson guys now have a guitar of some sort. I have seen a video and they may just be the next big thing. Lower right: Hannah definitely won the award for slowest and methodical present unwrapper.

Liz had given Dad a bottle of massage lotion for Christmas so after church she gave him a well-deserved foot massage. The grandkids wanted in on the action and I hope they payed close attention, especially Charlie and Jane. Hannah was the perfect weight for a back massage...

This little toy puppy would bark and scamper across the floor. It was given to Cooper but Hannah got the most enjoyment from it at least while we were there. Lower right: Charlie gets super excited by life cycles these days.

Charlie and Jane loved sweeping the floor with Papa.

The kids enjoyed the hot tub almost as much as the adults did relaxing in it after the kids were asleep.

A trio back home just isn't complete without at least a short ramble in the nearby woods.

There is something really special about seeing your kids play and become friends with your siblings' kids. We have our ups and downs, but I can't imagine life without my family. (Right: Charlie with Bally, the bald eagle that my dad had as a kid.)

I sure love these two!

Friday, January 27, 2017


 Christmas is a time when most people put up trees. This year we took some down.

There were two old ceders in our yard that had been damaged by storms in the past and, as a result, grown new "tops" which resulted in unstable trees that were rotting from the inside. In short they were a safety hazard and unfortunately, had to come down.

Charlie, Grant and Jane enraptured by the process and anxious to get bundled up so they can go join the fun (from a safe distance of course).

Before the trees could be cut down they needed some of the large tops cut off to make it safer and easier to drop the tree without it damaging things on the way down. Keith would climb up as high as he could (roped off) and tie a rope around the part they were taking off. Then Dad would climb up with the chainsaw and cut it down. The rope helped it fall where they wanted. Keith and Alex each got to take one of the safer ones off as well and were pretty excited about it.

 At last when the the tree was ready to be felled, two more ropes would be attached high up in the tree and tied off to the tractor and the hitch of the truck. Mom would be in the truck, Darren in the tractor, and Dad would work on the science/art of making the final cut so that, with the help of the truck and tractor, the tree would fall right where it was meant to. Alex and Keith watched the tree and signaled Mom and Darren to start pulling when the tree would start falling. The hours of planning leading up to the final cut was worth it. I was impressed how good my parents have gotten at making trees fall exactly where they want them too. It isn't as easy as they made it look. I remember as a kid helping fell a large tree that went way off course and took out a fence.

Tree number one with a tangle of tops.

Dad, Keith and Alex making plans for tree number two.

Tree two down. Mom got a little too much adrenaline going with this one and the tree literally caught some air as Mom floored it in the truck. It snapped the cable but no one was hurt.

Tree number two with multiple trunks and a rotten core inhabited by carpenter ants.

 The kids sure had fun "helping" with the clean up...


This handsome axe wielding man is single ladies...
 ...but the majority of the work definitely fell on Alex and Dad once every once else had left.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Snowy Visit to the Davidson's

Way back in December we took Charlie out of school a week and a half early to head west for a big Temus family  Christmas get-together. To keep things interesting we broke the trip up by heading over the mountains a few days after arriving in Puyallup to visit my sister and her little family. We played in the snow, Keith shoveled the snow, I was introduced to Poldark, the kids played in a box fort... basically it was an all around good time. (Minus the few very minor seizures that broke my seizure-free streak. But I haven't had any since, so things are looking good in that department.)

One night Liz, Keith and I (Cory slipped and rolled his ankle pretty badly just before we got there so he wasn't able to join in most of the festivities) took the kids to an indoor carousel. It was a HUGE hit. Next to the carousel there was this little nook set up for pictures. We tried to bribe the kids into sitting nicely for a picture by promising them one more ride if they cooperated. This was the best we got... There were also two reindeer outside that you could pet but only Jane was willing to brave the cold to go see them (twice actually). I account for that by figuring that she spent the majority of her life in Fargo.

 Liz took me to dinner and a Gentry concert while we were there. Which means that Cory and Keith got left with the kids. They made gingerbread houses while we were gone. According to Keith, Jane spent most of the time putting the rows of round candies on the roof of the house on the right, one by one.

Slick slide combined with a slick snow suit equals one fast ride. Or rather, several fast rides.

 And every time she would catch air at the end and plop down in the snow with a huge grin on her face.

 Charlie had been wanting to make snow angels for months.

 According to Liz, swings have always been Cooper's happy place. He sat there pretty much the entire time we were in the backyard.
Liz: aka "Super Mom."

Monday, January 9, 2017

6 Years!!!


This guys is 6 already! Can you believe it!?!

 For his birthday we went on a Mother-son date to the movie theater. He has always wanted to go! We saw Moana. The movie was fun (spoiler: there is a lava monster that freaked him out a bit) but I think he was a bit underwhelmed by the experience as a whole. Yeah, the screen was huge but he found the chairs uncomfortable and the rest of the place kind of boring. Apparently he had thought it would be cooler in his imagination.

He is totally into bugs, tools, dinosaurs and, most recently, space. He reads up a storm and is always wanting to share what he is reading about with Jane which she finds either neat or annoying depending on what she is doing at the time. He is at that age where he loves jokes but his "jokes" don't have funny punch-lines to anyone but him and Jane. The jokes may not be funny, but the way he gets a kick out of them sure is! I absolutely love his spontaneous hugs and declarations that he is so happy that we are a family. He really is a great little man and I am so blessed to be his mom!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Merry Merrill Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving the entire Merrill clan got together. This was a pretty big deal since that hasn't happened for almost 5 years and it was the first time when Granny B and Grandpa Joe have been in the same room with all of their current grand kids. It was pretty great.

Granny B brought little paper turkey kits for the kids to make. They were pretty excited about it.

Katelyn helping her sister Brianna.

Things were going pretty smooth with Thanksgiving food prep, especially considering Granny B can't have gluten and Charlie's PKU. Then while the last minute preparations were happening, I broke down in tears as I was dishing up Charlie's plate. (It can be really hard to have a positive attitude about PKU, where it is not only a matter of what he can eat, but also how much, on food-centered holidays. I will just leave it at that.) So I am in tears at the counter while weighing out Charlie's food, which brought Jenae, Bonnie and Keith to my side offering emotional support and ideas for me. (One of which was from Jenae and it was genius. I weighed out the max he could have, put half of it on his plate, spread around so it looked like more, and saved the other half for when he asked for seconds. Pure inspiration. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it earlier.) Anyway, I am crying, Bonnie and the others get distracted from their tasks, and in the middle of it all the smoke alarm starts going off. Before my little breakdown Bonnie had been watching the candied yams in the oven which were supposed to in there just long enough to brown the marshmallows on top. Well when she saw me crying she forgot about those yams and the marshmallows caught on fire. You should have seen the flames. Strangely enough it became the comic relief we needed and after the flames were put out we all started laughing while trying to get the smoke alarm off.

We just scrapped the black marshmallows off, put new ones on and tried again. No flames this time.
Thanksgiving dinner was wonderful, it was really nice to be with family around the table, and Charlie loved that he got seconds like most others.

You can't get the entire family together and not have family pictures taken, so the day after Thanksgiving that is just what we did. We kept it low key and had them taken in Paul and Jenae's big backyard. It is surrounded by lovely evergreen trees and a cute wooden fence so it worked well. Paul had a broken back, Jenae had a badly sprained ankle that had only been taken out of a boot the week before, so we weren't really up to trekking off to some fancy location. As a bonus, since it was cold the kids could warm up in the house when they weren't needed. Which is what Charlie and Tanner are doing.

Jane found crazy eyes while watching a magic show preformed by the talented Merrill Magicians: Tanner and Trevor.

Keith and I got new bikes for Christmas but we couldn't wait until Christmas to play with them. Of course. So we took them to Dayton with us so we could take them for their first real ride minus kiddos. It made me happy. :) I haven't ridden a bike in quite awhile. One major reason being that having a seizure while riding a bike would most likely end badly. And in case you were wondering, Shawn and Keith bought each other the same cycling jacket two Christmas's ago. Twinners!

Saturday we went to this really fun park in the woods. I handed my phone to Shawn at one point and it ended up with Shawn selfies on it.

 He is single, ladies.

Oh yeah.

While at the park we thought we would take another K2 family picture. Ya know, just for kicks.
Charlie was squirmy and being silly.

Then he was making faces and Jane was slipping.

This is the best one. Not bad.

 The purpose wasn't to have a photo shoot anyway, it was to get outside and have some fun.
Jane still mentions how she didn't like it when Charlie was pretended to be a scary spider at the park.

This guy came with a pretty great family.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hair (or lack thereof) Update

I know this is kind of a strange thing to blog about, but I wanted to document my journey and this is a part of that.

This is (hopefully) the extent of my hair loss. Pardon the hat hair.
The baldspot spread along the left side which made it impossible to hide with the ear warmers that I have been given by sweet friends. So I decided to just cut it all of and go with a short pixie since I am going to live in hats anyway for the next few months.
The day before cutting it off.
I have realized two things since loosing half my hair:
One, my exposed scalp is incredibly sensitive. Like really sensitive.
Two, I took for granted how much heat my hair kept in. I am constantly cold now and sleep in a loose (remember the sensitivity) fleece winter hat. Even with a pile of blankets!