Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Here's a video of Gracie wishing all of you a very merry Christmas on her Great Grandma Esther's piano.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

North Pole Adventure Train

On November 23rd we transitioned into Christmas and the kids all helped unwrap ornaments to decorate the tree.  This year we decided to put a few lights on the house and setup a small artificial tree downstairs just for the kids.  We'd also heard about a train ride called the North Pole Adventure out of Lewistown where the kids dress in their pj's, eat cookies and cocoa, sing carols and pickup Santa at the north pole...  we decided to give that a try, too.    

But first, Emmett's Christmas program was fun to watch and he was not shy.

  One more photo of Emmett hamming it up after a hunt a few weeks ago.  His version of what Dad missed that evening.
  We left for Lewistown Saturday morning, about 110 miles east of here, and it was snowing with about 6 inches of white stuff blowing at 50 miles/hr.  We took it slow and had only told the kids that we were going there to swim... 
 At lunch we told them about the train ride to the north pole and that we'd be picking up Santa along the way.  They couldn't wait!  The 'train station' was about 40 minutes north of town and we started loading at 4:30pm.  It was about 9 degrees and howling.
 Each car had about 8 tables and was decorated throughout.  The kids were given a packet of coloring sheets and a blank letter that had to be written before we picked up the Big Man in Red.
 We're coming up on the North Pole.  It was about 1 acre Christmas lights -- lighted reindeer, buildings and a landing strip.
 While we waited for Santa to make his way down to our car, we sang more songs and built up our courage.  We had 3 elves assigned to our car and they were great!  The trip wouldn't have been nearly as fun without Elf Elke.
 Everyone got along with Santa this year -- all smiles!
 And Elf Elke!
  Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sled Time

It was a beautiful day on Sunday so we headed to the sled hill at Giant Springs State Park.  Everyone had a great time!  It's fun watching the kids become a little less reliant on Mom and Dad to pull the sled back to the top of the hill :)

Well, then there's Jessie...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Snow (Kids Excited!)

It feels a bit like Christmas outside with 11 inches of fresh snow.  Tomorrow it's supposed to get down to at least zero (0) degrees.  With the wind it will probably only feel like -15, so... no problem.  The kids can't wait to go sledding and make a snowman.

Thursday they sent us all home from work at 2pm, a new record we think for the Base.  Then again, our boss' last assignment was in New Mexico :)
Thursday evening making a fort.
Friday morning the fort is buried.

If she's not in school she has to work...


 I bought a snowblower from the neighbor this summer for dirt cheap.  He wishes he had it back but we do his driveway anyhow (he got the good deal...)  Amy wanted to take it for a spin, too.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October Ramblings

Happy Halloween! 
October was a fun month and we squeezed in a lot of activities. 

Rice Krispy Pumpkin Treats
A Blue Fairy (Gracie), Luke Skywalker (Emmett), and a Butterfly (Jessie)
No jack-o-lanterns this year because we put the pumpkins out the week before Halloween - exactly one day before the daily highs were 30 degrees - for the whole week! The poor pumpkins turned to mush!
The kids are getting tired of my annual Halloween Cougar Fan costume - Amy wore a Spider :)

 Amy's Birthday was October 17th!  I had a bakery in town make her a tiramisu cake... It was great!!  Didn't feel bad when some of the kiddos didn't like it :)

Amy made waders for Gracie and Emmett out of heavy leaf bags so that they could follow me through a few inches of water out to the duck blind.  We headed out twice but had to turn back both times, once due to millions of mosquitoes and the other when Gracie's rain boots (not the wader-part) fell apart :)  

 Emmett and Gracie had a fun soccer season.  It was a bit busy with 2 evening practices per week and Sundays tied up with games, but we'll do it again.
Happy Pose
Serious (kinda) Pose...
Antelope season was in early October and I drew a tag for south of town.  Gracie again was up for hiking 4 miles round-trip.  I was impressed and felt a little guilty -- we woke up at 4am, hiked for 1.5 hrs, and then sat in a gully for an hour trying to stay warm till the sun came up.  She went through it all with a smile and we were back at to the truck with an animal by 10am.

 After years of hunting for elk I got my first one this October, a nice 6x6.  He was about 4 miles from the truck and I was lucky to solicit 3 friends to help get the meat out before the wolves and griz found it. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Garden Notes

The kids help me "till" the garden in March and seeds were in by May 1st. Unfortunately, even with things covered at night, the ground stayed cool and sprouts were slow-coming. The heat finally arrived the last week of June and it never left. This was our driest, warmest summer since we've been in Montana. I loved it!! (Except for the couple months our water bill doubled because we were filling the kids' pools every other day!)

Good year for:
lettuce, beans, green onions, potatoes, jalapenos, sweet peppers, corn, carrots, and herbs
Not as great for:
cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes (have no idea why!?), zucchini & pumpkins (crazy amount of vines, but only a few zucchini and no pumpkins)

The cucumbers and pumpkins got powdery mildew pretty bad, so they slowed way down early. There are definitely a few "mysteries" from the growing season that I will need to figure out before next spring.

Our "prize" pumpkins
After a slow start due to slugs, the green beans went crazy -- we couldn't keep up. Fortunately, I discovered that Elli loves green beans and she would snack on any that were too big/tough for us to eat. If I didn't keep my bowl up while picking, she would just help herself!

 Jalapeno poppers and salsa - need to plant more next year :)

Tomato plant was about half the size of the last couple years....hmmm.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Beautiful Northwest

Last weekend we made one final trip for the year to the beautiful Northwest and boy was it gorgeous! My cousin Greg was getting married (finally!! :) to his lovely fiance Mandy, so we decided to add a couple days to the trip and go camping at Deception Pass State Park and crabbing in the bay. 
Some of our favorite Weber family members (Uncle Chris, Aunt Lisa, Patrick, Ashley, and Zach and even Cousin Kate too) joined us for the adventure. I have never seen weather soooo perfect on Whidbey Island. 
Thank goodness for the great weather because it seemed like everything else was going wrong.....major boat motor issues (Jason and Ashley finally had to ROW out and pick up the pots!) was one of them.
Despite the hang ups, they pulled 29 legal dungeoness crab! That was some goooood eatin'!!
After two nights in the tent, we packed up, rushed back to my parents house and re-grouped just in time to get to the wedding. It was lovely! We were sad to leave the evening so early, but we had a 12-hour drive back to Great Falls the next day (the kiddos had already missed 3 days of school).
Now that we're home and the 50-year-old motor is getting fixed - again, there is talk of next summer and "how many times can we go next year, hon?".