Monday, June 27, 2011

the longest post ever about our tackiest (but very fun, of course) family reunion yet

The day after school got out, we headed to Southern Utah with my family for our annual summer reunion.  Shawn and Kelsey were in charge, so we all know what that means.  Fun, fun, fun!  The girls look forward to this and Courtney's family reunion all. year. long.  We stayed in a cabin in Hatch, Utah (I'd never heard of it, either.)  The town sits somewhere between Bryce Canyon and Zions National Park.  When we weren't hiking, the kids spent their time exploring the mountain side, riding bikes, and Horny Toad hunting. 

The first day out, we all headed to Bryce Canyon.  My family hadn't ever been before, so we were excited to see the sights.  

 (Being the overly cautious parents that we are, of course, we all sat and encouraged the kids to walk along this fence until the park ranger came and warned that if they didn't get off soon (a whole 4 feet in the air), they were greatly risking falling to their death).

After lunch, most of us headed out on this very cool hike.

The kids and Grandpa were all troopers.  (Although Grandpa was sure that every sign we came to told us we had 1 and 1/4 mile left- for about ten miles, he says!) 

I laugh when ever I see this picture above.  When I was taking it, I couldn't quite figure out what they were supposed to be doing, but after I looked at the picture, I realized I should have been standing about five feet to the right to catch the right angle so it looked like they were actually holding up the rock. Oops. 

After out hike, we dragged our sweaty bodies over to the Bar-G wrangler cowboy show.  The kids had a great time, and of course, everyone there was amazed at the number of kids we all had. 

Always the fun aunt, Kelsey had all the kids up and dancing. 

Below, most of the cousins pose with Cowboy Joe (or something like that).

Every night, the kids were all so tired.  It didn't take Grandma very many bedtime stories before they crashed!

Before the reunion, Kelsey tried to talk Uncle Shawn into making reunion t-shirts, for a fun joke.  He wasn't quite so thrilled about the idea, which of course, made her even more excited to make it happen.  Secretly, she got with all the moms and lined up a plan.  We all brought white t-shirts for everyone, and Kelsey and Aunt Kerri brought all the fixins' to make tie-died shirts.  You can about guess how excited all the dads were about this, but the kids thought it was pretty darn fun.  We set up a tie-dye workshop in the garage, and went to work.

To everyone's surprise, we were just getting started.  Shawn and Courtney thought they were being pretty funny by designing Shawn's t-shirt with um. . . .should I say bosoms?  (They thought this would get them out of wearing them, I guess).  They thought wrong.  Kelsey was one step ahead of them.  Armed with iron-on fabric, she, Aunt Kerri, and I stayed up until 2 am finishing off the mens shirts in style.  

Since Shawn was the biggest party-pooper of all (and to cover up he and Courtney's artistic abilities), we made a gigantic "REUNION HOST" sign to go on the front of his shirt. 

In addition, everyone got a heart sticker that said "Families Are Forever" in big letters, accompanied by with "Croney Family Reunion, 2011". 

It wouldn't have been complete without our addition to each of the Dad's shirts.
On the back of each of them, we couldn't resist writing in puff paints, "Yours can be too, Ask me how!"

Let's just say us girls got a few good laughs that night.

And so, the next morning we all headed out to Zions in our fabulous reunion wear.  (Most of us anyway.  Being one who HATES to draw attention to himself in anyway, Courtney politely refused.  Party pooper.)  Oh, and Uncles Shawn and Ronnie stayed at the cabin, leaning over the toilet all day.  We thought it was just a ploy to get them out of their t-shirts, but little did we know, this was just the beginning. . .

Can I just say, Kelsey was totally right about her prediction.  If there is anything that draws more attention than 35 people (with over 20 being children), it is 35 people in tie-died "Families Are Forever" t-shirts.  We were pretty much the tackiest group in Zions that day.  Just as she had hoped.

Best pals Emmy and Halle were thrilled with their identical shirts, making them look more like twins than ever.

The hike was a hit, (except for me, who spent it at the bottom of the trail, throwing up in front of all the passer-by- a pregnancy result of a too-late night). 

We were all back on the shuttle, when Emmy started telling me her "throat felt funny".  We were crammed onto the bus with a hundred other people, so the aisles and every seat was full.  Because Emmy has asthma, my first thought was getting her an inhaler.  Just as I was thinking this through, she started throwing up.  All over me and everyone else around us.  It was awesome.  Luckily, everyone was very nice and started passing towels, wet wipes, etc.  A little queasy myself, I was trying to keep myself from losing it, all the while cleaning up as quickly as I could, and trying to reassure Emmy so she didn't feel too embarrassed. 

Poor Emmy, she felt pretty crummy for the rest of the night.

As you can see, Matt and AJ couldn't have been prouder in their pastel shirts.

With Emmy and a few others not feeling so good, most of us decided to head back to the cabin for the night.  AJ and Courtney volunteered to stay and hike with any of the kids who wanted to.  They got all they bargained for when fourteen of the kids signed up!  We all laughed as they gave each kid a number so they could keep track of everyone. 

Turns out, it got even better.  During their hike, Kate got sick.  Courtney stayed with her and then hi-jacked a garbage bag for the shuttle bus, which she used several more times.  Before long, several more kids were throwing up.  Between the two suburbans full of kids, five or six threw up on the way home!  When they finally got to the cabin that night, over half our crew was racing to the bathroom to throw up.  Courtney and AJ laughed at all the rush pull-overs they managed on the way home.  Before long, Courtney joined the ranks in the bathroom, along with several others (and even more through the night)! 

It seems every family reunion, Uncle Shawn and Ryenne get sick.  This was the case, again- but whatever they had spread like wildfire this time!  Fortunately everyone was a good sport and we had plenty of good laughs over the whole thing. 

 A few more highlights of the trip:  swimming at the pool in Cedar City, doubling the attendance at the Hatch LDS ward for church on Sunday, and Matt hitting a deer on the way home (he and Mckell had to leave a night early, and hit a deer just as they were pulling out of the long lane in front of the cabin).

(You can see the deer did a fair share of damage to the car).

We weren't surprised when our suburban battery was dead and we had to get some "juice" before we could head for home.  Par for the course, it seemed! 

Despite all the funny setbacks, the kids were still sad to pack up and go.  Armed with bowls and buckets for all the sickies, we reluctantly loaded up and headed North.  Tired, Tacky, and full of fun memories!

Monday, June 20, 2011


Last week I was painting our new laundry room.  (The wrong color, by the way.  I can never, ever do things right the first time- it's like my banner in life.  As I write this, I realize how funny this is, because I am daily, hourly, it seems, telling the girls, "If you're going to do a job, then do it right the first time."  Or, another personal favorite, "If you don't have time to do a job right the first time, then you definitely don't have time to do it a second."  Do the job right the first time is my slave-working mantra.  So why, why for goodness sake, can't I ever pick the right paint color the FIRST time around?)

Anyway. . .

I was painting along, when I looked over and saw Emmy leaning over the plywood barrier I had set out to keep the Claire-nado out of my mess.  Just as I glanced over, Emmy got a disappointed look on her face as she looked around and said, "Awwwww.. . ."

"Don't you like it?" I asked.

Without hesitation, she replied, "Yes!  I do."  And then, "It's just that I already miss the old way but I don't even remember what it looked like."

I had to laugh.  I've decided lately that change is hard for me.  This realization mostly came as a result of the emotional crises I've had over Ryenne moving from elementary school to intermediate school and the ensuing understanding that she really, really is going to grow up despite my best efforts otherwise.  I don't even know what upsets me so much, other than it's a new phase.  New challenges, new ideas, new independence. 

I want my girls to grow up, I do.  They're good girls, so I'm even pretty sure I will like it.  Most days, I will probably even like them.  After all, there is much to be said about the fun-ness of a teenager, right?  So many adventures await. 

I do like growing up, I do. 

It's just that I already miss the old way, and I don't even remember what it looked like.

a day late

Dear Courtney,

My favorite sound: listening to you and the girls laughing together.  Doesn't get better.
My favorite sight:  Seeing you cuddled up in bed with one of your girls, reading a bedtime story.
My favorite touch:  Your kiss on my cheek, hand tucked in mine.
My favorite guy:  C'mon, we both know that answer.

Eleven plus years ago, when we had our first baby,  I couldn't have imagined what we'd learn together.  I didn't know what an adventure we were beginning and how time and a family would make me love you even more.  I couldn't have guessed the strength you would bring to me on all my upside-down days.  I may have dreamed but couldn't have really understood how much I would come to admire and depend on your kindness and wisdom and how our friendship would carry us through. 

Heaven knows I didn't guess we'd have all these girls!  And you can bet I didn't know how much I would love seeing you be a dad.  I watched you in church yesterday wrestling little dresses and playing some little game you and Claire dreamed up.  I stood outside Emmy's bedroom door and couldn't get enough of her curled up on your chest as you read a favorite bedtime story. 
 I smiled last night as Claire climbed into bed to ask you a million questions just as you were trying so hard to go to sleep. 
I thought about the question that guy asked you at the gas station the other day, "What in the world do you do with girls?"  And you answered, "You pretend, A LOT."  I sometimes think about those long-ago days of football and wrestling, hunting and motorcycles.  I didn't know then how handy you'd become at tea parties and tutu's, and most especially how you'd make my heart go pitter-patter so much more when you had an armful of ribbons and lace.

Or how about after Claire was born?  All the nurses commented that after watching you witness all of the trauma of keeping her  alive, they now understood why you were the father of four girls!  You could handle the drama, they said.
We both know you have your share to handle. 
I always laugh when I see the look of complete bewilderment on your face in the midst of one of life's daily fall-aparts around here.  Like the bad-hair moment one of the girls was having the other day- you just looked at me and asked, "Was your life this hard growing up?"  I love that you don't get too worked up.  Typical of you, you shrug your shoulders, brush it off, and wait for the cloud to blow over (and then remind me that it's normal and I'm not really raising a bunch of monsters, after all).
I need that in you.

I never really had to share you before, so I didn't know how I'd come to live for our "hot dates", when I get to be your only girl.
Oh, and I can't wait to see you with a little boy on your knee.  I hope he looks just like you.

When we started all this, I guess I didn't know what to expect (other than a Happily-Ever-After, of course).

So glad for all the things I never knew I never knew. 
So glad for you.
Love, little ol' me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

rise and shout! school is out!

Yay for us!  We all survived another year of school. 

And Yay for summer, I say!

As always, the last weeks of school brought with them numerous school programs, field trips, and dance recitals.  The busyness of May always makes me all the more excited for laid back summer days.

I loved watching Kate rock out on her recorder in the third grade music program.  My girls have had the best elementary school music teacher.  Ever.  I know my photography skills are sorely lacking, but I loved catching her little wave to me in the middle of her song.  Those are the best moments at school programs, when my girls spy me spying them.  Love the grins on their faces!

We all made it through Emmy's kindergarten graduation.  I had to laugh when my nephew pointed out "I don't get it, what's the point of a kindergarten graduation?"  Meaning, I think, what do they have a graduation for when these kiddos are just getting started!  After sitting through my third such affair, I'm thinking it is because these little ones are so darn cute we all just can't help it.  So much cuter than the 12th grade graduation, I am certain.  (And much more entertaining too.)

The last day of school brought mixed emotions as we said goodbye to a beloved school.  Ryenne is moving on to intermediate school (eek!) and the other girls will be changing elementary schools due to busing/boundary changes.  As we walked through the school that last day, I have to admit there were a few tears.  Such mixed emotions for me, partly because I can't believe Ryenne is already leaving elementary school, and partly sad because we're leaving so many good people and memories behind in those halls.  Sweet Kate cried a little bit as she told me, "I will treasure my yearbook forever."

Mrs. Goodliffe, the school librarian.  My girls often tell me that she is the best thing about school!  Just when I thought I had composed myself, she offered to pick up the girls and drive them to school everyday if it meant we would stay.  I lost it all over again.

True to tradition, the girls and I and our good friends Haylee and her mom Amanda rode our bikes to school for the last day.  The girls love this!  After school, we head to the park for a picnic before riding home again.  I hadn't been on my bike since last fall, but I couldn't say no.  Best of all, we all made it in one piece, short of Emmy and Claire.  (I just didn't know if I could get all three of us there and back, sadly enough.  Last pregnancy I completed a half marathon and a sprint triathlon when I was this far along.  I'm getting to be a pansy in my old age, I guess.)

Change is so hard sometimes.  I've been surprised at how much I've struggled over Ryenne leaving to the intermediate school.  Just can't believe how fast the past six years have gone, I guess- and a little panicked by where another six years will leave us.  Add that life change, moving to a new school, and pregnant lady emotions and whew!  Walking out of school that last day was hard!  But, as I assured Kate, in a few years we'll feel the same about the new school.  Good people are to be found wherever we go in life, I believe. 

Hello's and Goodbyes:  the stuff life is made of.

reason #110 why this girl loves her daddy