Grandma’s visit…

My mom had a break at work and I jumped on the opportunity for her to come for a visit. We typically see her in the fall but her work schedule didn’t allow that this year so we got her in December which was a great consolation prize. Having family here to share in all the Christmas fun was special. I don’t typically see my family this time of year so it was fun to share with her our family Christmas traditions.

We made our visit to Santa Claus at the Bass Pro Shop – we actually found ourselves their twice since we didn’t get tickets the first day. I was wishing my dad had come to visit as well because we could’ve used his help in teaching the kids how to shoot the bow and arrow!

We were able to go to the temple one afternoon with Hallie

With Cannon not in school full time he got my mom’s undivided attention. He pulled out game after game every single day. And my mom played them – even the games she despises like chutes and ladders and guess who (it’s not as though she dislikes guess who – it’s just hard playing that game with a four-year-old who changes his mind every turn as to what his character looks like!). He loved her attention.

We pulled out the Christmas puzzle (which was really the second large puzzle we did while she was here) and my mom and I both found ourselves sucked in to all 1,000 pieces. Steve can’t understand the draw puzzles have – I’m not sure he put a single piece in it’s place.

Our niece was performing her handbell concert at the temple lights which was a great night for our annual visit. There seems to be more lights every year, but it’s quite magical to see all the lights wrapped around every tree and plant.

Hunter decided to take my mom on in PIG. I think he thought it would be an easy win. My mom proved otherwise. No kid wants to admit that their grandma beat them in basketball but we made Hunter say it more than once!

It was the longest visit we’ve had from her when there hasn’t been a newborn baby involved. And we loved it. We shopped, we cooked, we took lots of walks, we assembled Christmas cards, went to the kids activities – spelling bee, soccer practice, tennis practice, we went to church activities and most importantly we played. She got to observe our daily life on an intimate level and I treasure that time together and having it be during the Christmas season was just a bonus. Now I’m just trying to figure out how I can get more visits out of her. 🙂


Long Weekend Visit…

My mom’s visits are never long enough – but I’ll take her as long as I can get her. I have my mom come out to hang out and spend time with the kids, I have my dad come out to help me build and work on projects. That’s why they don’t come out together!

This visit was consumed for the most part with Halloween fun. Parades, class parties, neighborhood parties, trick-or-treating and then of course the recovery from all the fun (and sugar).

My mom would’ve been happy sitting on the porch, basking in the warm afternoon sun. But no one has time for that! We had walks to go on, games to play, parks to visit and movies to see. (We really enjoyed Inside Out at the dollar theater.)

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She is easy to have around, Steve gets along with her well and we never tire of joking around together. I’m convinced she needs to spend winters here and summers in Idaho – unfortunately her job gets in the way of that. Which is why we enjoy her when we get her. And luckily we’ll have a baby joining us early next year which is a great excuse for another visit.

Love you mom.


Carousel for Missoula

The Missoula Carousel is a must every time I’m in town. I’m not a fan of carousels in general, just this particular one. My grandma took a special interest in this carousel (which has a unique story of how it came to be) when it was being built in 1995 and every time we went to visit her, she would tell us about the different ponies they added and we’d go for a quick ride. It became a sentimental experience. It still is…and I’m passing on the tradition.
Missoula Carousel

Last time I was in town we took grandma for a ride, she sat proudly in the chariot with my mom and we all nervously watched as the carousel picked up speed!
Missoula Carousel
Missoula Carousel

But this is more than a kid’s carousel, it’s a competition for all who ride. There’s a dragon named “Lucky” and he dispenses rings which people on the outer edge of the carousel reach for as they go round and round. The very last ring is a gold ring and whoever grabs the gold ring gets a free ride. Adults and children alike reach out with excitement in hopes they’ll be the one to hold the gold ring.

Hallie tried and tried and a few times she barely missed it. She had fun regardless.
Missoula Carousel
Missoula Carousel
We had to pry the kids off those horses and they rode many times!

Each horse is “adopted” by a family and they help design the horse. In the gift shop after our rides I was wanting to buy an ornament. They only had three horses and I didn’t like any of them. I shared that with the lady working the counter and she expressed how expensive it was to carry a larger selection. I pulled Hallie over to help pick the ornament and she landed on “Silver” pony. As soon as she picked it, the lady beamed. It was her adopted horse and she shared the details of the horse that included her kids initials and grandkids names. I quickly put my foot in my mouth. Of course it was her horse after I just finished saying that I didn’t care for any of the options. Just my luck!
Missoula Carousel

There’s a park right next to the carousel called “Dragon Hollow”. Along the perimeter of the park is a fence with names carved into each slat of people who donated to build the park. I told you my grandma was a big fan of the carousel and my grandpa’s name is proudly displayed in his memory.
Missoula Carousel
Missoula Carousel

I’m pretty sure Hallie was just as excited about the carousel as I was. It’s magical. It always has been and probably always will be.

97 years is a long time to live…

Three years ago, I made a trip to Montana and said a tearful goodbye to my then 94-year-old grandma. She had lived a long life and her health was starting to decline. She was 94 after all. She’s had a few scares over the last three years, but she’s still living.

My mom decided to go visit her last weekend and several of my siblings decided to join her for the visit. I made arrangements to fly up as well and I took Hallie with me. Hallie is our only child who has met my Grandma Lola. She was just a little girl last time she was there and Steve and I figured this might be her only memory of her great grandma. So we had a girl’s weekend and loved every minute.
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My grandma’s condition was significantly worse than the last time I saw her. She didn’t remember me, or hardly anything for that matter but she still joked around with me a bit. I kept my eye on Hallie as we sat and visited with her – I was curious as to what was going through her mind. Hallie has prayed for Grandma Lola for years without really ever knowing her and now she would have a face with that name. She hasn’t spent hardly any time around aging people and I could tell there were times she was a little uncomfortable, but then there were a few times even I was uncomfortable.

There is something tender about knowing someone’s time is short. It makes you hold on to every conversation, every giggle, every look and hug just a little bit differently. And who knows – she may live another 3 years – but my heart tells me that’s probably not the case. 97 years is a long time to live and she’s lived it well.
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My grandma no longer lives in her home (she lives with her son) but we took Hallie to see my grandma’s house. We walked up the gulch and explored the mountain and walked through her home which sadly no longer feels like her home with my cousin living in it.
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My siblings brought their families which was heaven for Hallie to spend a weekend with her cousins. We rented a rustic home/cabin right on the river near my grandma’s house which totally beat renting several hotel rooms.

The view from our porch wasn’t anything to complain about and the fall colors were exactly what someone from Arizona longs for.
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We did meet a nice fat spider which we kindly disposed of as well as the mouse that was in the kitchen. Rustic living at it’s finest.

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Each day I spent some time with my mom and grandma and the rest of the time we were exploring, or seeing other family members in Montana. We hiked the “M” behind the University of Montana’s campus. The website described it as 3/4 mile, 11 switchbacks, and a 620 feet elevation gain. Seemed simple enough – but it was a serious workout. Those switchbacks were steep but the view was beautiful.

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The weekend was great. It was nostalgic. Yet it seemed to offer some closure – in the event it was my last time seeing her sweet face and hearing her silly giggle and hugging her warm body. My goodbye three years ago seemed much harder than this one. Perhaps because I see her deteriorating and know it’s probably time and that’s okay. Part of me is trying to figure out how to get my whole family up there so she can meet each one of my kids and part of me realizes the next time I’m there will probably be in her memory and honor. I’m at peace either way. Love that sweet woman and the daughter she raised to be my mother.

Grandma’s visit…

I mentioned my mom made a visit. She came to lend a helping hand for a few days while Steve was gone and she got more than she bargained for with sick kids. Luckily, we were able to squeeze some fun things in before we sent her on her way.

We braved Ikea with two small kids. Not ideal but we both walked away happy with our purchases.

She joined us for the block party.

We went to the science museum one afternoon where the kids were anxious to show her their favorite exhibit: Forces of nature. You stand on a small stage and experience every type of weather – including hurricanes and tornadoes. Cannon wasn’t sure about the rain falling from the ceiling or the extreme heat blasting in his face.

Life with Fingerprints: Science Museum
Life with Fingerprints: Science Museum
Life with Fingerprints: Science Museum
Life with Fingerprints: Science Museum
Life with Fingerprints: Science Museum
Life with Fingerprints: Science Museum

In between kids throwing up and just not feeling well – we were hanging around the house with our plans cancelled for the day. We made the best of it – she hemmed Steve’s new suit pants and we were able to crank out a full batch of Salsa.
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She played duet after duet with Hallie on the piano and read books with the kids. She taught them games. We stayed up way too late talking and laughing. We even made it to Mesa Frozen Yogurt (a family favorite). She let me sleep in when I was up all night with Bennett. She helped me rearrange bedroom furniture and watched while I put together my Ikea pieces. We sat outside and enjoyed the warm weather. We went shopping one morning without kids thanks to my sister-in-law.

Despite the sickness – we had a good time. I’m not sure who’s more grateful for her help, me or Steve. It’s always easier on Steve knowing that I’ve got help when he’s away for such long periods of time. I’m grateful for her willingness to be here with us. The kids love it. I love it and I’m reminded of the amazing lady that she is.

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Thanks again mom. Love you.