Friday, May 27, 2011

Guess Who! **UPDATE**

Who is it?

Picture A is Edison and B is Cori!
They look A LOT alike! :-)

                   A                                                         B

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our Little Adventure Part 3: Utah, Monday and Tuesday

     We had a very busy week while we were in Utah. Nearly everyday involved some kind of activity (or two!) We were trying to get as much in as we could before heading back home.

     On Monday we spent the day with John and Clara and their kids and Larry and Megan and baby Allen. We originally wanted to go to downtown Salt Lake to Temple Square, but it was rainy and cool out so it was decided that we would go to Ogden to the Hall Aerospace Museum. Before we headed over, we had lunch at this place called the Burger Bar. It was soooo good! If you're ever near Ogden, it would be well worth the trip to stop in and eat there.
     The kids L-O-V-E-D the museum. There were all kinds of planes from the very first bi-plane made by the Wright Brothers (well, maybe not THE original, but at least a replica) all the way to the SR-71 Blackbird. WOW! IT was so fun to get really close and look inside the planes. One of the volunteers there even let the kids climb into the back of one of the helicopters called "The Jolly Green Giant". Outside the museum were even more planes that you could walk right up to and touch. They were massive! It was just really neat to see and read all the information they had about these planes and when and what they were used for. Seeing the progression from the beginning to some of the more modern planes was quite incredible too.

Following our airplane adventure we went to the mall in Ogden and hit a store called "The Quilted Bear". If you like crafts and handmade items this is THE place for you! There were home decor items, clothes, stuffed animals, hair bows! It was so much fun just browsing. I didn't end up buying anything there, but I found out from Clara that there was one right down the street from my hotel, so I did end up going there on Thursday and getting a few (read, A LOT!!) of hair stuff for my girls.

After leaving the mall we headed back to Salt Lake to join my cousin Camille and her family for a wonderful dinner of clam chowder and taco soup with homemade bread sticks. DELICIOUS! While we were there my other cousin, Jen, came over and offered us tickets that she'd gotten from work  for the aquarium in Sandy. We had talked about going and so it was perfect and saved us quite a bit of money. (THANKS JEN!!)! It was fun to spend the evening with them. An we decided to have them come join us for a swim and dinner the next day at our hotel.

On Tuesday we were planning on meeting our friend Jennifer and her daughter, Allie, at Thanksgiving Point to go to the Dinosaur Museum in the afternoon. So that morning we decided to pack a lunch and head to the aquarium to kill time. There were so many neat things to see, but my favorite part was probably petting the sting rays. They felt soft and rubbery. Sterling and Emmy didn't have a problem doing it, but Joe and Cori had to be "encouraged" to try it. Kai wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with trying to touch those things. She'd scream if we tried to pick her up to do it. We also really liked watching the penguins walk back and forth in a line in their exhibit. Only one penguin even jumped in the water while we were there. It was a pretty cool place to visit.
And here are some o the cool animals we saw:


After leaving we went to a small park and had lunch then headed out to meet Jennifer and Allie. The museum was really awesome! It was almost all hands on! It starts off with some simple experiments with light and color, then you go through this "tunnel" that is pitch black except for pin points of light that look like stars. (If you click on the first pic to the left, you can see a little of what I'm talking about) You walk on a catwalk off the ground so you're surrounded by these stars.  It's VERY disorienting, but super cool! You feel like you're walking in space! Kai was kind of freaked out by it at first, but the other kids thought it was the BEST THING EVER! The rest of the museum focused on the dinosaurs. It was pretty cool to see how big and small some of the dinosaurs were. Near the end there was a giant sand and water table were you could play in it to build landscapes to see how the water affected it. The kids liked building huge dams and then crashing them and wiping out all the little dinos and trees that were in the way. I have to admit that even I got into it...Kailyn, not so much, but she liked watching. At the very end of the museum are two sand pits where you can pretend to dig up buried "fossils" with brushes. Eddie liked to eat the sand, but wasn't very good at digging up the fossils. It was a really fun experience!

Next we headed back to the hotel where Jennifer and Allie came to swim with us. Allie didn't care how cold the water was, she just wanted to swim! And it was fun for me to just sit and talk to Jennifer. We've really missed them since they moved! After about an hour or so Jennifer had to go but our cousins came to join us There was a lot of splashing, playing and yelling and even some crying (the pool was kind of cold still and the little ones were not so excited about that). The kids played games together, raced and just had fun fun fun! I even managed to FORCE myself to get in the big pool instead of hanging out in the hot tub the whole time.

After swimming for another hour and a half we went up to the room and sent Rob and Camille's hubby, Bruce, out to get pizza. We sat and ate while the kids watched a movie. Unfortunately, it was a school night for our cousins so they had to leave to go home. It was so fun to have them there with us and we were sad to see them go, but we had a lot of fun while it lasted! And we'll always have the memories!

To Be Continued...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Only in Movies...Right??

Yeah, apparently not. Crazy things DO happen in real life. And thanks to the city's police department I was "lucky" enough to have one of those moments!

While I was out running errands with two of my kids and a friends daughter yesterday, I decided I wanted to go by Family Video to see if they had Season 2 of House MD on DVD. When I drove by the lights were all off, so I knew they weren't opened yet. I drove out of the parking lot trying to decide if I wanted to just go home. I decided to pull off on the side of the street in the neighborhood nearby and check the hours on my phone. According to the website most stores open at 10am so I called to make sure that was right, and it was. Seeing as I had about 10 minutes before it opened I decided to just drive around until it opened. Seemed reasonable, right? Apparently not.

After a few minutes I noticed this grayish truck following me. Every time I turned, they turned. When I stopped, they stopped. At this point I thought that it kinda looked one of my friend's truck, but couldn't figure out why he wouldn't just call if he wanted to talk or whatever. So then I thought, maybe I did something while driving and made them mad and they're waiting for me to stop to yell at me or something. Since it was finally a little after 10 I decided to go ahead to Family Video and see if they still followed me. So I pulled in and parked and sure enough the truck pulled up behind me. I wasn't sure what to do. I looked behind me and there was a guy getting out of the truck and he was a police officer. I was so confused!

He came up to the van and I rolled down my window and he asked what I was doing driving around the neighborhood. I told him that I was just driving around until Family Video was open. He said they'd been having a lot of break-ins recently. Then he asked to see my license and commented, "Oh, you have kids with you?" And I was like, "Uh, yeaaaah," and handed him my license. He told me to wait a moment then went back to the truck. As I waited I noticed a Sheriff's deputy walk up next to the right side of my van and stand up by the store. Then there was a tap at my window and there was the original officer plus another officer in plain clothes. I roll down my window and the new officer says, "Would you please step out of the vehicle?" I was absolutely terrified! Were they going to arrest me? What had I done? Was there a warrant out for my arrest that SOMEHOW I wasn't aware of? Had someone stolen my identity and done something? What would happen to the kids if they took me in?

So I started to get out and the officer suggested I roll up my window so rain wouldn't get in. I rolled it up, turned off the car and took out my keys and walked up in front of the store. The new officer then starts in on me. He asked why I was in the neighborhood and I repeated that I was waiting for Family Video to open. He then said that they'd seen me parked on the street for a few minutes, then driving all over the neighborhood. So I told him, "I pulled over to check Family Video's hours on my phone since I thought it'd be a better idea than trying to do it while I was driving. Then I was just driving around until it opened." He said, "Well, you could have done all that in the parking lot, right?" And I said, "I could've, but I didn't". Then he proceeds to say that they saw my white "cargo van" (yeah, cargo van with seats in it???) with the "blacked out" (ummm....or just tinted) windows (can we say exaggerating) driving around and that neighborhood has been hit really hard recently with burglaries and can I see how that might have been suspicious. I said, "I guess so, but you obviously ran my license and know that I've never even had a speeding ticket. And I have three kids with me and they wouldn't be much help in robbing a house". He said that they didn't know that at the time. I did say that if it had been my neighborhood I would've have wanted them to do the same thing if they thought they saw a strange vehicle driving around. We ended parting company amicably enough with handshakes, me thanking them for all their hard work and wishing them luck catching whomever is robbing houses. But, WOW! What a morning! That stuff only happens in movies...right? I guess not.

The moral of this story...don't drive around neighborhoods or you may get pulled over as a would be house robber. But, if you do happen to encounter a grayish truck following you and a police officer gets out to question you, tell him I said "Hi"

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our Little Adventure Part 2: Utah, Saturday and Sunday

Our saga continues as we get up Saturday morning (May 7) and head out to Utah. We follow behind my brother Larry and his family in their car and my mom, Jordan, Taylor and Rori in Jordan's car. It was such a beautiful drive, even though it rained most of the way. The way we drove actually took us through part of Yellowstone. Although we wanted to stop at Old Faithful, given the weather, we opted not to. We were however lucky enough to see this sight as we were nearing the exit out of Yellowstone:
Yep! It's a herd of buffalo. They were just sitting there on the side of the road without a care in the world. The traffic didn't faze them at all! The kids were absolutely amazed by this sight! And they looked so cute, just standing there in all their ginormous hairiness! I wanted to take one home as a souvenir but Rob thought that was a bad idea...not sure why...they looked friendly enough to me.
Of course the thing that was most amazing was this buffalo here======> We suspect she may have just given birth as there seemed to be an umbilical cord hanging out of her...ummm...well, you know what. And she seemed rather confused. She was wandering down the middle of the road, crossed to the left side then came back to the right side. My brother in front of us was trying to go past while she was on the left side of the road but she just kept coming on over to the right side forcing him to pull off almost onto the shoulder and stop until she got onto the shoulder of the road. It was pretty awesome if you ask me!

After the long drive to Salt Lake City, about 8 or 9 hours, we FINALLY got to our AWESOME hotel. We stayed at the Homewood Suites in Midvale, UT. Super nice!!!!! At $98 a night we had a 1 bedroom suite with 2 double beds, a sleeper sofa and full kitchen (minus an oven). In addition to that there was a complimentary hot breakfast (think bacon, eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, etc) and Monday thru Thursday a complimentary evening meal. And since lunch could be cooked in the room it was AWESOME!! I think the part the kids liked best was the swimming pool and hot tub. Granted the indoor pool was rather chilly and the hot tub was a tad on the hot side, but they didn't seem to care. We spent Saturday in the hotel and just relaxed from our long journey with watching TV and swimming.

Larry Allen Balsmeier III
This boy has stolen part of his
Aunt JJ's heart! <3

On Sunday we met Larry, Megan and Allen at church with the rest of the family for Allen's baby blessing. As a reminder, the Mormon church does not believe in infant baptism, but when a baby is born we bring that infant in front of the congregation and those men who hold the priesthood and have been invited by the parents to join in, take the baby in their arms and a blessing is given by one of them (generally the father if he holds the priesthood). It was such a special moment when Larry took Allen up and with John, Rob and a few other men, gave his first child a blessing. It has been a long road for Larry and Megan to get that sweet little man here. But how grateful we are that he is here and healthy and doing so well!!

Later that evening we had the privilege of going to my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Bob's house where some of my cousins were hanging out. It was so great to sit and talk with them while my kids ran around and played with my cousin Camille's kids. This is the 3rd year in a row that we've been to Utah and my kids love to talk about going to see their "Utah Cousins". They see each other so little and yet they pick up right were they left off each time. It helps that our kids match up in age so nicely. Everyone has a playmate the same age or really close to it:
Marianne and Sterling
Emmy and Esther
Isaac and Joe
Cori and Timmy
Kailyn and Lil' Bruce

Not pictured are Alice (she was being shy inside) and Cooper, who is the newest member of their family. Eddie is also not in the picture. I think he was still in his car seat in the van.

After chilling with them for a little while we headed back to the hotel to meet up with our good friends the Allreds! They used to live out here in good ol' KS but went back to UT once Steve finished law school. We went swimming with them and their sweet little girl Allie. That child is such a FISH! She LOVED the water and was not happy when forced to get out of the pool when it was time to go. It was fun to sit and talk and catch up on all that has been going on since we saw them last year. After that it was off to bed to recover from the busy weekend and get ready for the fun and busy days ahead.

To Be Continued...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our Little Adventure Part 1: Montana!!

     On Tuesday, May 3, 2011 around 9:00pm we embarked on a journey of epic proportions. It would involve driving through 7 states, approximately 3,000 miles, in about a week and a half. All together there were 3 vehicles plus a trailer and 18 people. Of those 18, there are 7 adults and 11 children. The kids range in age from 10 years down to 10 months. Given that information, you now know why we decided to leave at night. We were hoping they would sleep for most of the 17 hour drive to Billings, MT where we would stay for a couple of days before going to Bozeman and then onto Salt Lake City, UT. It did work rather well. The kids slept fairly soundly and somewhat comfortably. Kai and Eddie probably had the hardest time, waking every so often wanting a paci or to see me or...something. We made really good time...until the kids woke up on Wednesday morning. At that point we ended up stopping about every 2 hours for potty breaks, gas or food. Once we did reach Billings we checked into the hotel and relaxed for awhile until the guys took Scott out for his "Bachelor" party, which I think involved a movie and not much else.

     Thursday morning, Rob and I took our kids plus my neice Rori to go see Pictograph Caves. It was a small, though somewhat breathless, hike up to a couple caves were there were drawings. The kids loved it!

     Thursday was also when Scott and Laura went to the temple for their endowments. Poor Jordan and Taylor got stuck watching all the kids plus, since Larry and Megan joined us in Billings on Wednesday, they had their baby boy, Allen also. A grand total of 12 kids, 10 years down to 2 1/2 months, against 2 adults...WOW!! It was so wonderful to be at the temple though. Once we got on temple grounds you could just feel an incredibe sense of peace. Watching Scott and Laura together in the celestial room and getting to be there with so many family members and new friends was amazing. I can't wait until we meet our family after we die. I imagine it will be quite an amazing reunion! After the endowment session it was back to the hotel to change then off to Golden Corral for dinner. Oh What FUN!!!! Laura's family was so kind and friendly. We know why Laura is as amazing as she is! Of course the highlight of the trip was on Friday!!

     Friday morning was spent getting everyone ready for the wedding. LDS temple weddings are not your traditional walk down the aisle with birdesmaids, flower girls and ring bearer events. They are very quiet, pivate and sacred events. The sealer talks to the couple, offering advice and counsel and then the actual ceremony, which only lasts several minutes, takes place. In all you are probably in the temple less than 30 minutes. But, there is nothing more beautiful than getting married in the temple of the Lord, not just because they look breathtaking, but becuase of the covenants and promises made. To know that you are being bound to the person that you love more than anything, for not just here and now, but for all eternity is....joyous. I, of course, cried the entire time. Mostly from joy, but also a little sadness that my dad and baby Robert Allen weren't physically there, although I'm sure they were present in spirit. But the reminder that because Rob and I, as well as my parents, had made those same covenants as Scott and Laura made, we would all be together forever was so comforting. I can't imagine not having that hope, that knowledge, that through the priesthood of the Lord we can be sealed to our families for time and all eternity. I am so grateful for that. It was such a touching experience and gentle reminder of the promises that have been made to me and my family if we will strive to be like Jesus and to trust in his atonement, grace and mercy.
The beautiful bride and her handsome
nephew. The groom sure had some
     After the sealing we headed out onto temple grounds to wait for the happy couple to come out. As they exited the temple they looked gorgeous and so happy! Officially married and ready to start their new life as a married couple. There were, of course, pictures taken which is an undertaking in and of itself. Try to get a group of a few dozen people, including children, to all look and smile at the same time...Yeah, exactly. But we managed to get it done and head on out to Bozeman for the reception that night.
     It was a 1 1/2 hour drive to Livingston to our hotel. We got there and rested for a few moments before going to Scott and Laura's new house in Bozeman to help unload some stuff. Then it was to Laura's parent's house to change back into our wedding clothes to go to reception.

     The reception was so fun and in the cutest place. It was a really simple affair, but the important thing was that there was a play area outside for the kids to run off some energy. We talked, ate cake and ice cream took more pictures and then helped to clean up. The best part was when my brother's serenaded Laura with the song from "My Best Friend's Wedding". It's kind of a family tradition. After all was said and done it was crazy, busy, beautiful, hectic, amazing, touching, wonerful, spiritual day! We got back to our hotel around 10pm, ordered and ate pizza and then crashed before beginning the next leg of our journey.

To Be Continued...

Robert Allen