Sunday, July 31, 2011

Licorice...

When Steve and I take a road trip we make sure the car is packed full of treats and goodies and plenty of drinks. I make individual bags for the kids that are "time released" throughout our drive and I stockpile all of Steve and my favorite snacks. As I was standing in the grocery store before our most recent road trip I found myself grabbing the same exact snacks I pack for every roadtrip. Never failing I grab a box of Wheat Thins, a bag of licorice, bag of goldfish, grapes, Gatorade and a couple of Sobes. It is an automatic response. It's the same every time.

What's funny is the Wheat Thins and licorice were a family staple on road trips growing up. I remember very vividly driving to Montana as a family and my dad would pull out the mixed bag of Red Vines (red and black). He would give us the option to have one red piece of licorice, or three black. I didn't have a preference either way, so I always went for the black. I don't think I've had a piece of black licorice since my last family road trip years ago. And I'm not sure I would even eat a piece of black licorice today, but I am a huge fan of a good, soft piece of red licorice. It has to be Red Vines. (Twizzlers are a poor excuse for licorice!)

One time, last fall, as we made our way to Omaha to visit friends, we pulled out of the driveway and opened our traditional bag of licorice. It. Was. Rock. Hard. I was so angry. I was looking forward to enjoying the trip with Red Vines by my side. This would be the first trip that I didn't nurse a bag of licorice. Probably better for my teeth, but not for my temperament.

You better believe I contacted Red Vines and let them know how disappointed I was that they ruined my road trip. Surprisingly, they took my complaint very seriously. They sent me 8 large replacement bags of the most fresh licorice I've ever eaten, no joke.

I was ecstatic.

So was my dentist!

My faith was restored in Red Vines knowing that they really do stand behind their "Satisfaction Guaranteed" claim and I haven't had a bad bag since!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Happy Half Birthday...

Speaking of birthdays...

We celebrated my half birthday in June. Half birthday you ask? Why yes!

When your birthday is celebrated within 10 days of your anniversary, Christmas and New Years, half birthdays become much more enjoyable to celebrate. I've always felt bad for Steve during the month of December. For a man who hates shopping as much as Steve does, December makes him want to scratch his eyes out! We've always talked about celebrating my birthday at another time, but we just haven't done it.

This last December must have put Steve over the edge because he surprised me with my half birthday celebration. He took care of breakfast (delivered to me in bed), dinner (pizza), cake and ice cream (costco), and the invites (family). He bought gifts and decorated the kitchen in our usual birthday set up. And to top it off, it was all a surprise. It was fantastic. I have never celebrated my birthday while the sun was shining (thanks to a dead-of-winter birthday) and I have to say, I liked it a lot!

I think I can get used to a June birthday.
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Keeping the tradition alive...

You thought Bennett was the only one that could rock the weekly shirt...wrong! Steve pulls it off quite nicely.
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He would like to add - it's been a good 18,720 weeks.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Birthday...

Who wouldn't want to turn 30 when 30 looks this good...
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It is true - Steve is no longer in his 20's. This is a big year for him as far as birthday's go. And wouldn't you know it, he vetoed my party plans! He pulled the "it's my birthday" card and didn't want the stress of a party right before going out of town. I had already bought the decorations, already came up with the menu - and I was still vetoed. I like to think of it as just postponing the party as opposed to canceling it. You have to celebrate your 30th birthday, I don't care who you are! So once things settle down here, perhaps in August, the party planning will continue. Until then, we will celebrate with an ice cream oreo cake, a happy birthday banner and a birthday bucket.

Here are some things I love about Steve-
He still makes me laugh. You'd think after so many years I would get tired of his jokes, but I don't. He keeps getting funnier.

He understands me...as complex as I may be, he still understands me. The only disadvantage to this is he is beginning to understand my tactics of manipulation far better than he used to. This keeps me on my toes! :)

He loves family. He loves our family. He loves his family. He loves my family. The more family the better.

He is very sensitive (what every woman dreams of in a man) and understands the needs of other people. He is also very perceptive of my feelings and concern.

He is playful with our children. There's horsey rides and there's baseball and there's book reading and game playing. He rarely says no at a request from Hallie when he is around.

He knows how to clean a kitchen and he does it often.

He puts up with all of my projects (finished and unfinished) which I know is difficult for him.

He still shows his love for me daily. The picture says it all!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

13 weeks...

Bennett is officially three months old...today! I am amazed every day that he has survived his loving older brother, seriously!
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Hallie continues to love him to pieces. She is such a big help and is the first one to run to him when he's crying.

Bennett is officially our largest child to date, not that he's breaking any records, but he is our largest.

We continue to swaddle him and that is the only way he gets a good rest. He does sleep like a champ at night, we're still working on daytime naps.
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We switched pacifiers on him which is working out a lot better.

He loves to be held. And when he's not being held, he makes sure to scream loud enough that you don't forget he's there.

He's a fantastic babbler - he talks and talks and all the ladies in Relief Society just think the world of him!

He is a smiley boy - especially - when he is tickled under his chin.
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He sat through many swim lessons this month and the little boy was a sweat machine. It is Arizona, in July and we've had to wash his carseat a number of times!

He loves his hands: licking, sucking and slamming them against his face.

He still sleeps in the laundry room in a portable crib. We're hoping we find a house by the time he needs to be in a twin bed. :)

He still has a large birthmark in the back of his head. Which seems to be growing proportionately with his head. Luckily, once his hair grows in it won't be noticeable, but when he starts to bald...
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We love our little "Bennett-Bennett-Boop-Boop."

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sneaky Snake...

My brother Derrick has always had an interest for all things animals. I remember as a kid my grandma ordered the magazine "Ranger Rick" for our family and I'll give you one guess as to who was the one that actually read that magazine. It wasn't me.

In fact I would say my interest in animals is polar opposite from my brother. I don't even care for the zoo! And I sure don't want a dog coming up to me and licking my hand. I think it's gross and I think they smell. I tolerated animals growing up because I grew up in an animal family. Now that I'm an adult and I have my own family, I don't have to tolerate it the same way!!

So you can imagine my thoughts when my brother arrives to visit while we're in Idaho and he ushers my kids outside to check out something he has in his suitcase. This peaks my interest and I stand at the back door as he lays down the suitcase and starts unzipping it. I'm now thinking - What in the world did he keep in his suitcase for the three hour drive!?!

What does he pull out...a snake. A fairly large snake. A snake he found on the side of the road as he was driving down. Who notices a snake driving down the road!! This is the same brother (along with my father) who would point out and keep track of animals on our drive to Montana so upon our arrival we could recap all the elk/deer/moose/raccoon/you name it that we saw driving. Even when he would point them out to me on the mountain I still couldn't see them, and heaven knows I would never notice a snake.

The kids got a kick out this thing. I was surprised at how comfortable and close they were to it. Hunter - who cried when the dog barked - was suddenly inches away from a snake! Clearly his innocence overshadows common sense. Snakes are much scarier! I watched and marveled for a while before Bennett was hungry and left the backyard hoopla.
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Minutes later Hallie comes running in - Mom, I held the snake! WHAT THE?! She could see my slight disbelief so she calls my brother in so she can hold it again. (BTW- Thanks for the pictures Derrick!) So for the sake of showing me, the snake enters the house. I'm not going to lie, I was slightly uncomfortable. (However, that was not the first time my brother had found a snake and brought it into our home. In fact I can't even count how many times he brought a snake home!)

And sure enough Hallie let that thing wrap around her arm. It's amazing what time and age will do to you. I'm sure years ago I let my brother convince me to hold a snake. Now- I'm a little nervous to touch it's "scaley" skin!
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Small sidenote: Years ago my brother and I were driving back from Montana in a car by ourselves following our parents when he notices a roadkill porcupine. He slowly pulls over on the highway and carefully backs up. He was determined to get a porcupine quill. Because the animal had been decomposing for a while the quills weren't pulling out very easy. He tugged and tugged. Went back to car and found some pliers and continued to tug. I was extremely grossed out by the sight and the smell was overwhelming. As I see this struggle to get the quill, I ask, "What are you going to do with it if you can pull it out." His response - "I don't know, it would just be cool to have." For the record - he kept working on it until he did end up with the quill. Like I said - he has an interest in ALL things animal!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Splash park...

I fell in love with splash parks living in Milwaukee. They were maintained by the county and free to the public, unfortunately they were only open about 2 months of the summer.

We move to AZ where you could really utilize a splash park for several months out of the year, and yet they don't have them. Strange.

We heard about a fun park in Idaho while we were there visiting so we took the kids one afternoon to cool off. We arrived and there were a lot of people there, but the water pressure was so low that it wasn't spraying up like it should have. Bummer! The kids had no idea the pressure was low and enjoyed it all the same! Luckily my brother Cameron joined us so he kept the kids more than entertained.
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tough...

Some days are just tougher than others. I had one of those days this week.

First off, it started far too early as the kids were up by 6:30. I have yet to experience an enjoyable day when the kids get up this early. By 7:30, both Hallie and Hunter had been in time out and experienced plenty of tears. Bennett was requiring more attention than normal and was refusing to go down for his morning nap.

I was frustrated. So I sent the kids outside to play. Shortly later, Hallie runs in and tells me that Hunter went to the bathroom in the trash can outside. (For the record, he made it completely in the trash can, not that we're praising him!) We're working on potty training so he runs around naked for the majority of the day and clearly he was too lazy to come inside and use the restroom. Cue the cold shower. Hunter is now completely miserable. Bennett is still screaming as he wants the attention I'm currenrly giving to Hunter. More Frustration. More sibling fighting. More tears.

More than anything I want to put the kids down for a nap and curl up in my own bed. I hate hard days. The day continues to get worse. More fighting. Hunter comes running in and tells me that Hallie has gone to the bathroom outside. I think he's lying. Hallie denies all allegations. But the more we talk the truth comes out. She indeed went to the bathroom outside as well. Seriously? She claims "Hunter taught me, he's a bad example." Although quite true, she's older and knows better. Because I gave Hunter a cold shower, I now repeat the process with Hallie. I find just a slight amount of humor in the fact that she told and Hunter and he turned around and told on her.

To make matters worse, in his fits of anger, Hunter called me a "poo poo head", "mean head" and "meanest mommy". Where does he come up with this stuff? When I told him that I loved him, he shot back, "I don't want you to love me, I only want daddy to love me." Thanks my dear 2-year-old, the moments that make motherhood so wonderful! (sarcasm)

There was a brief period of quiet play. I was in the office with Bennett and Hallie and Hunter were getting along for the first time for the day. After a while I heard screaming.  Frantic screaming, but I could tell they were far away. I assumed they were outside, but as I got closer I could tell they were in Hunter's bedroom. More frantic screams, "Mommy, help!! Help us!" I then started to chuckle because I realized they had locked themselves in the room. It had been a long day, really long, and I hate to admit it, but this was just icing on the cake! I grabbed my phone so I could record the event and show Steve. Call me evil, but I decided they could stay in there a little while longer. So I sat down with Bennett on the couch. Thinking to myself this was hilarious, I quickly realized Hunter was in potty training mode and there was no way I wanted to add to my day cleaning up his potty mess. So I let them out. Hallie's first response was, "Why did you come down the hallway and then just leave us? I saw your feet." Busted. She totally caught me. I had no response, I just had guilt. I changed the subject quickly!


The day was long. Needless to say, everyone was showered and in their pajamas by the time Steve got home from work. He came home and saw the kids ready for bed, and he asked, "The day was that good huh!?"

Yep, that good.

Friday, July 22, 2011

One year ago...

One year ago today, my niece Brimley was visiting us in Wisconsin from Arizona. We had spent the morning at a pioneer activity for Hallie and avoiding the downpour of rain that we were experiencing.

Later that evening, I was cooking dinner when I heard Brimley yell up from downstairs, "Guys? Guys- there's a lot of water down here."
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We spent the rest of the evening (with some very cherished friends) removing everything from the basement, extracting as much water as we could and ripping out the carpet.

It was a miserable 48 hours. Just miserable.  We felt so sorry to our niece who was joining us for a week of fun - which ended up being not so fun!

Within 6 weeks we had the basement back to normal with brand new carpet, we had started the interview process with PetSmart, received an offer from PetSmart and put our house up for sale. The flood was a good starting point to get the basement all cleaned out and in order!

It's crazy the course of life within a year. We're living a completely different life in a new state, with a new job, with a new child. To think that was just a year ago is mind boggling.

Although it seems like a lifetime ago, the details are still crystal clear. After we cleaned up the mess we went to bed and we took turns waking up every hour to vacuum more water that had come off the carpets that we had propped up on buckets to dry. For the next several days I remember very vivid and realistic dreams almost like hallucinations. I would wake up in the middle of the night and the street light would catch our shiny wood floors just right and I would swear there was water all over our floor. Two times I got out of bed to go grab towels to clean up the "water".  The incident also made me very anxious during storms.

Even living in Arizona, I get a little restless when it rains a lot. In fact, not too long ago we experienced an abnormally large storm. I awoke in the middle of the night to the rain pelting hard against our bedroom window. Immediately anxiety started to build within me. I tried rolling over and going back to sleep but I was too worked up. Steve could sense my concern and tried comforting me by assuring me there would be no flooding. I knew there was no way I would be able to get back to sleep unless I went downstairs to check. Luckily - no water, Steve was right. I even went outside and watched it come down for a little bit to make sure there weren't large areas puddling against the home.

I'm hoping my anxiety subsides just a bit. I used to really like storms. I used to enjoy the sound of rain hitting against the window and the smell afterward. I want to go back to that. I want to think of rain storms as puddles and umbrellas, not flooding! Perhaps in a year or two - or maybe purchasing a home without a basement would do the trick!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Idaho...

I love spending time in Idaho with my parents, and I loved it even more this go around knowing I was leaving behind the heat of Arizona. I wasn't there for as long as I normally am because we're making another trip back up at the end of July to meet up with all of my family and our friends from Nebraska but the time I did have I thoroughly enjoyed!

Highlights include:
•My dad taking Hallie and Hunter on a four-wheel adventure on the hills behind my parents house. They were gone for quite a while and I was a little nervous my kids would drive my dad bonkers, but they all came back with smiles on their faces. They also came back with a pocket full of treasures (a.k.a shell cases - all shapes and sizes!)

•Hunter screaming like a girl every time the dog came remotely close to him or barked loud. Even better was when the dog knocked him down, he could barely breathe he was screaming so hard.

•Seeing family - My sister was visiting from college with a guy friend (who really was just a guy friend no matter how much we teased them!), my brother came from Boise and My brother and his family came down from northern Idaho. We laughed and played games and had a grand ol' time.

•Shopping is always a staple activity and always enjoyable. However, more enjoyable without children!

•Walking with my mom at night. I would get the kids down for the night and my mom and I would take a walk. One night we walked down to Maverik to partake in some delicious frozen yogurt. I went back four more times that week!

•Hallie is showing quite the interest in the piano, but because she's still so young we don't dare start paying for lessons yet. Luckily my mom was able to sit down with her several times to give her instruction and songs to practice. We need to go back soon because those songs are starting to get really old!

It was so fun to be there with my parents. I love spending time with them and having my kids there to share the experience with me. I loved seeing my dad hold Bennett all snuggled up on his chest, so precious!
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

12 weeks...

I thought for sure last week was the last week I would be shooting with my little camera. I had tracked my camera and knew that it would be arriving later that day (last Tuesday) and I could hardly contain my excitement.

I waited patiently until late afternoon when a small brown box arrived at my door. I quickly pulled it out and started getting my settings back to normal. After dinner we went out to swim and I brought my camera. It felt so good in my hands. I took just a few pictures and I realized my camera wasn't back to normal. There was a particle I could see through my viewfinder and no matter what I cleaned it wasn't going away. I removed the lens and noticed a large fiber between the layers of glass. I was not a happy camper. I just spent a lot of money and a whole lot of time without my camera and it's not 100%.

Not only did the lens have issues, but the more I worked with my camera to figure out where the fiber was I noticed a loud rattling sound that didn't exist before. As if something was loose inside. Of course I call Nikon back and without any apologies they inform me the camera has to be sent back to them. There was no way they would let me take it to an authorized place locally, unless I wanted to pay for it. I kindly reminded them I already paid for it - but they didn't budge.

So...using the same packing materials it came in, less than three hours later, the camera was back in it's box ready to be shipped once again. I'm hoping we get it back in time for our next vacation, but I'm not counting on it. I was bummed. Really bummed. In fact, I wanted to cry. Of course, people feel my pain of the incident but kindly remind me "it's just a camera". I'm not sure what hurts more - hearing that "it's just a camera" or being without it.

That was a really long explanation to say...the following picture was taken with my small camera!!
Bennett 12 weeks-
Smiles are abounding with this kid (at least from 6:30am - 7:00am, it quickly goes downhill from there as he gets tired!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Class Reunion

After Aspen Grove we drove up to Idaho to visit with my family. You see, I graduated in 2001 which means I graduated 10 years ago. That seems so long ago! Is it cliche to say I don't feel that old? Anyway, it just so happened that my reunion was the weekend our Aspen Grove trip ended so it was perfect timing for me drive the couple extra hours from Utah to Idaho and attend. Not that I wanted my classmates to see me for the first time in 10 years just weeks after I had a baby - but I can't ask for ideal timing on everything right? My friend reminded me that it was better than being pregnant with twins which was her situation. She had a good point!

Being from a small town, we had a very small class. I believe there was 120 of us total that graduated - 60 of those people were with me all the way from Kindergarten to graduation. It was that small. With a class that small you got to know them really well...at times too well, but I love them still the same.

I played sports with several of these girls which meant we spent a lot of time together. Three sports a year for four years means a lot of time practicing, playing games and riding on buses.

We also traveled together for different organizations both by land and by air. We went to Philadelphia, Washington DC, Minneapolis and San Diego. (We even crossed the border into Mexico which I'm not sure we could get away with today!)

Those were the good ol' days! The days when we looked forward to pirate Fridays (extended lunch hour), nutrition break (yes we had a 15 minute break in the morning for a healthy snack!) and assemblies. We'd eat lunch at friends houses, toilet paper the same kids house for every birthday and attend every basketball game.

We had triumphs, we had failures, we had laughs and plenty of tears. But I wouldn't trade it. I loved high school and it was because of the people I attended with. To go back and see them again was fun. Some I hadn't seen since we threw our caps on graduation, others are my very best friends and I'm able to see them each time I go to Idaho to visit.

We met for an afternoon in the park with our kids, but we were rained out within 20 minutes of arriving. We met back up that evening for a dinner at the golf course. Steve was such a great sport through the whole thing. He couldn't get over the fact that I still knew the names of everyone in my class! I was wishing the weather had been better- we didn't have a whole lot of time to mix and mingle, so we pretty much talked with the same people the majority of the time because that's who we sat next to at dinner, but what can you do?

I was bummed that my camera was broken so sadly this is the only picture I have (which was given to me by a friend) of the reunion. Here is the group. (including those with spouses in attendance, I told you it was a small class!)
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They had these pirate decorations that I took home for Hallie and Hunter to enjoy! A little Pirate Pride!
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An old chant comes to mind when I see these pictures: We are the pirates, the mighty mighty pirates, don't you forget!

Intimidating I know!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Father's Day...

What a reason to celebrate!! The father of my children, the father of my husband, my own father and all the many fathers we know and love. What a blessing it is to be surround by such wonderful men.

As many are fully aware - Steve kills it as a father! He takes his role very seriously and I love him for that. The kids adore him and spend every evening waiting anxiously for his arrival home.

Steve is always the one down on the ground playing "horsey" or throwing them around in the pool. He loves his "daddy-daughter" dates with Hallie and continues to remind me how cool it's going to be when he can take his sons to a baseball game. Even after he works a long day, he is still right by those kids side building a relationship with them and I think it's great. I think he's great!
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I was lucky to be visiting my parents on Father's Day. It's been several years since I could celebrate the day with my dad. Although I never took a whole lot of interest in his favorite hobbies (Hunting and fishing, although I did take the hunter's safety course!) but he took an interest in mine. He was by my side throughout endless seasons of sports, taped many of my ankles (many) and even stood on the sidelines as my coach several times. He's my go-to man for any car and remodeling questions and even stood by my side as we ripped apart our bathroom a year ago. I love him dearly and so happy to call him "dad".
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My sister and two brothers were also there to share in the festivities. We had a scrumptious breakfast to celebrate fathers - the full meal deal and a tasty lunch before Steve left for the airport to fly home.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pre-Aspen...

Before we made our way up to Aspen Grove we spent the night in a hotel in Provo. The kids were able to spend some time in the pool the next morning with the other cousins. We even ran into some of our friends, the Lukes,  who had moved from Milwaukee a while back. Small world!

We took a tour of BYU with the family. That was only my second time being on that campus but it was big and beautiful.
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We hit up a small hot dog stand/shack for lunch, J-Dawgs. I'm not a huge hot dog fan, but this dog was to die for delicious. It was coated in a special sauce that I could've bathed in. It was sticky and messy and perfect. If you are ever at BYU you must try one. Small side note - the building that J-Dawgs is in was once the home of Steve's dad's first business venture while he was in college; a pizza joint. He sold it after graduating!
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I also tried the BYU creamery for the first time. It was good, but I'd rather have a treat from Mesa Fro-Yo! I'm sure that's a sin to say, but it's the truth!

Even knowing that we would be spending a whole week with family, we still chose to spend the day with family. We love them that much!
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

11 Weeks...

I'm happy to report that I just got notice that my camera has been repaired and has shipped. Oh happy day! So I'm hoping this is the last weekly picture that I have to take with our small camera.  It's hard to take a decent picture with our small camera when he has his arms flailing all over the place. It gave me a new found appreciation for my large camera. I will try harder to baby it! Speaking of baby...

I had to post a few today because I just loved them both.
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I'm loving the fact that he's smiling a lot more. He loves to have his belly tickled and the bottom of his chin.
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bennett's blessing...

We took advantage of our time surrounded by family and blessed Bennett while we were at Aspen Grove. With the exception of one nephew on a mission, we had all 53 family members in attendance. That is quite the accomplishment to have everyone gathered! 
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Friday, July 8, 2011

Aspen Grove (cont.)...

• Cousin bonding time: Hallie was in heaven at the thought of getting to spend a whole week with cousins. After the first day of being in her camp we had this conversation:
Kara: So what else did you do that was fun?
Hallie: Well, Knox's friend went down the big slide at the pool.
Kara: Who's Knox's friend?
Hallie: Not his friend, Knox's cousin when down the slide.
Kara: Knox's cousin? (confused)
Kara: You mean Micah?
Hallie: Yea, his name is Micah - how did you know that?
Kara: Because Micah is Knox's cousin. And because we're at a family reunion, if someone is Knox's cousin, they're also your cousin. 
Hallie: Micah's my cousin? (shocked)
Kara: Yep!
Sometimes we get a little confused as to who we're related to, I don't blame her, that's a lot of people to remember!!
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• Aspen Follies: This event allows families to compete against other families. I already made it very clear that we are a competitive family and there was no way we were going to lose to another family. We strategized and thought through every event. And it all paid off. We walked away with a first place paper certificate in the Aspen Follies.
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• Birthday Celebration: We celebrated Steve's mom birthday while we were there. His family arranged for a really special night complete with a video tribute from each family as well as a printed book that we all contributed to. It was an amazing night to honor an amazing woman.
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• Bonding with siblings and spouses: We always look forward to a Pothier get together. They have such entertaining and dynamic personalities that it is always a good time. We stayed up late talking and playing games and having a grand ol' time.
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• Wiffle ball: No family event is complete without a game or two of wiffle ball. They take this very seriously.
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• Loving on Bennett: Being the youngest grandchild and still in his squishy, cuddle state he had more little hands and arms wanting to hold him than I thought possible. He had two aunts in particular that seemed to lull him into coma-like sleep. For that I was more than grateful!
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We had an awesome time. I'm not sure I could think of a better place to hold a reunion for the size and ages of our family. It allows for as much family time as we can handle but also allows for some adult time. It was so fun and the kids are still talking about our time there.
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There were just a few meltdowns...
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