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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Idaho week!

Dear Jessa ~

Wow.  So much to tell this week!  And I guess it’s a little more than a week, as I left all of Idaho for this letter.  So I guess I’ll just go chronologically this time.

BJ and I managed to get a week up at the cabin in Island Park. We thought the girls might go crazy with a week of no friends, though, so we invited our friends Mitchell and Melanie Harris to come up with us, and bring their kids.

One of these two cows is Voldemoo.
Friday night BJ took our girls, Mitchell, and his daughter Audrey (age 3) up to my parents’ house in Idaho.  We are splitting a cow with them (and Travis), so they needed to do some farm work to pay for my dad’s labor raising the cow. On the way up they left Abby’s sippy at Arby’s.  You know, the only sippy she would drink out of for a long time.  Though, I can’t talk.  I lost the other one at the zoo.  In good news, we learned that she’ll drink out of other sippies this week!  Hooray! The rest of us would have gone with them, except I had to go to stake baptisms Saturday morning.

Kessa and Audrey
So Friday they left and for the first time in weeks I got to sleep all night long!  It was bliss.  Saturday morning I was up around 5:30 to finish getting my things together and to get to the church around 6:45 to start setting up.  Setting up was a little insane with only two of us and no one showed up to help set up chairs, so we ended up stopping a basketball game to make all the sweaty guys come help us.  :)  My favorite was the guy helping me set up the chairs in the YW room, “I’m pretty sure hell is an eternity of setting up chairs.”  Hah!  But he was great and helped anyway.

Saturday morning BJ and Mitchell got up and helped build a fence.  Can you just see BJ out there digging fence post holes and drilling posts in the ground?  Yeah, Mitchell’s the same type of skinny, nerdy guy.  Awesome.  They also dug up old fence posts, pulled kids around on a board on the flooded lawn (well, Mitchell mostly did that), and helped Damian do some carpet cleaning.  And maybe something else in the middle that BJ can’t remember.

Meanwhile Melanie and I left around 11:00 with her twin boys, Reid and Redick, who are just over 1 year.  After stopping to go grocery shopping for perishables in Idaho Falls, we made it to Ririe and spent most of our time keeping 5 kids, age 4 and under, out of everyone’s hair, and helping to do some housework.  When the guys finally crashed, Mitchell did an excellent job of talking genealogy with my dad (Mitchell works at Ancestry) and Melanie and my mom got along great.  When we left Sunday afternoon, Melanie told me that she really enjoyed my parents.  Which, of course, makes me happy.

Sunday morning we went to church with my parents.  Sunday School and RS were both excellent.  My mom took Abby to Nursery and stayed with her during SS, so I actually got to listen at church.  Novel concept, really.  It was great. After church, we drove up to the cabin. They don’t do nursery at Island Park, so we’ll have to wait till the next week to really get her used to it.  Hopefully she’ll warm up quickly.

Monday BJ and Mitchell took Kessa and Audrey out on the canoe.  At first they (well, mostly Kessa) were a little scared, and then went back and forth between loving it and being done.  By the end of the week Kessa was begging to go out again.  I think she went out thrice.  Then after naptime we went out to Big Springs.  Apparently the fish don’t come up for food anymore (except sometimes maybe for corn), because the seagulls eat them.  Sad!  So we fed seagulls instead.  While there, Audrey was swinging her arms and hit the wooden rail and ended up with a giant splinter under her fingernail.  :(  So I rushed her and Melanie back to the cabin to doctor her up (well, Mommy nurse, as Melanie really is a nurse) while the menfolk took care of Kessa and the babies (who, let’s be honest, aren’t babies anymore.  They’re very much toddlers).  We met them back at the Johnny Sack cabin, which was interesting, but nothing I’m dying to see again.

Tuesday we went to Mesa Falls between naps.  We took a double stroller for the boys as far as we could, but then carried the babies down all the stairs.  It remains a beautiful waterfall.

The original plan was for the Harris’ to leave Wednesday, but they were having so much fun that they ended up staying an extra day.  So Wednesday was pretty chill.  There may have been another canoe ride?

Meanwhile, during every nap (which there were two/day) and after bedtime, we played games.  Lots of them.  They’re big gamers, too.  (They’re the ones we have to thank for Stone Age.)  So it was filled with Ticket to Ride-Asia, Settlers-Cities and Knights, Smallworld-Underground, Wizard, Stone Age, Pandemic, and another game they introduced us to called Evo.  I plan on buying it sometime, so we’ll teach you when you get back. Basically, you have dinosaurs who have to travel between regions as the climate changes and get as many dinosaurs as you can without dying or being attacked by other dinosaurs, Smallworld-style, before a comet comes and makes you all go extinct.  It’s fun. Promise.  Anyway, I tried to count after the fact and I think we got in around 15 games with all four adults.  Pretty impressive with 5 kids and less than 4 days, huh?  Plus there were a handful of games played with only 2-3 adults at a time.

After they left, Kessa wanted to play the “dinosaur game” (they left Evo here for us to play), so I pulled it out, thinking I’d make up some very simplified rules, but ended up teaching her the real game (slightly modified (for anyone who knows the game, I removed the unique mutation tokens, and we’d put out 4 mutations, even with only 2 players, so we never really did bidding)).  Jessa, she is so smart.  She could tell me every turn what climate was safe for the dinosaurs, how many exceptions there were for which climate based on which mutations you had, and which dinosaurs had to die.  She learned how to figure out which coins she got at the end of her turn (so, 4 coins she’d get with a 3 and a 1), she learned to turn the climate counter clockwise or counter-clockwise (based on an arrow), and was even perfectly happy when her dinosaurs died, because that’s just how the game goes.  I was really impressed.  We did have to take breaks every 15 mins or so where she would just play like a little kid while I read on my Kindle, but then she’d decide she was ready to play a grown-up game again and we’d continue.

The next day we taught her Ticket to Ride, but did a 1-player game.  We helped her pick tickets, then we’d put markers on the cities she had to get, then would help her connect them, figuring it would be easier to move on to a multi-player game once she knew how to play. At first, we had her drawing two cards every turn, but when every turn is your turn, that doesn’t really make sense. So she basically had to look at the board and figure out what track she wanted to build next in order to connect her cities. Then she would draw cards (either from the face-up cards or from the top of the pile) until she got what she needed. Then she’d play it, put the trains on, and look up how many points she had to move. It took her a few times to figure out the point chart, but she got it. And she totally figured out double routes and wilds. She’s a smart girl.

End of chronological.  Now I’ll just talk about whatever I think of.  :D

Speaking of Kessa, her favorite game is to be a baby.  Seriously.  Anytime she is playing with anyone, the first thing out of her mouth is “You be the mommy/daddy, I’ll be the baby.” She’ll declare her age randomly and try to act accordingly. “Mommy, I’m a newborn baby” and then when she’s tired of sleeping and not walking/talking, she’ll declare, “I’m 1 year old!” and will crawl around, then becomes a 2-year old and can walk and climb ladders.  For the most part it’s not a problem, except it can get really annoying when she will say one word repeatedly, all day long.  “Cookie!” (which sounds like goo-gie)  Or has to be carried everywhere or won’t pray, go potty, etc. by herself.  Today we finally had to lay down the law and tell her that there are certain times that she has to be a big girl.  When she prays and when she goes potty being in the top two.  The funny thing is, when I was a girl I always declared that I wanted to grow up to be a baby.  But not because I liked to act like one all the time, but because I wanted to be able to nap all day and when I cried have people drop everything to help me.

Abby adores outside.  More than anything else.  The second she wakes up she starts saying, “Side?  Side?”  She’ll run to a door every chance she gets and beg to go outside. Then cry if we don’t let her.  BJ is a wonderful dad and takes her out on long walks every day.  They’ll go down to the river and make BJ dip her feet in the river.  It’s funny because she wants her feet in there, but then it’s so cold that she wants them out.  So she’ll willingly go back and forth for a while until her feet are too cold, and then she throws a tantrum because she wants both warm feet and her feet in the water, but can’t have both.  Sometimes Kessa goes with and they’ll both have a grand time throwing leaves in the water and watching them float downstream.

Reid is in blue and Redick in green
I was a little nervous about how Abby would interact with the Harris twins for more than a couple of hours at a time.  She’s so calm and they’re very energetic (seriously.  We speculate that they climb the equivalent of Mt. Everest every day.  Up on chairs, the table, benches, and even the ladder!)  Usually playdates end with them ganging up on her to steal her binkie while she just sits there trying to figure out what in the world is going on.  It’s sadly funny.  But after the first day of trying to figure out what was going on, she started to stand up for herself and they started treating her as one of the guys.  They got along great.  They would run back and forth down the hall or play with toys (and fight over toys, mostly Abby being selfish, honestly).  They just laughed and had a great time.

What I didn’t expect was how long it would take Audrey and Kessa to figure out how to play nice.  They’re just such good friends at home. At first they were both extra tired, which makes things worse, of course, and we had a couple of instances of Kessa provoking Audrey and Audrey hitting Kessa.  (Both times with a pencil.  The second time on the bridge of her nose, next to her eye.  :/ )  But it went two ways.  After we got the hitting calmed down, Kessa took her turn.

Kessa and Audrey were playing when Audrey started screaming. I looked up to see several strands of Audrey's hair in Kessa's hand. After a long time out until Kessa could calm down enough to talk to me (the second she realized I wanted to talk to her, she thought she was in trouble and broke down in hysterics), I went in to figure out exactly what happened. Long story short, this is what I got:

Audrey and Kessa were playing with a one-player toy. They both wanted it. Audrey picked up a piece Kessa wanted and Kessa thought, “When I get hurt and cry, I drop what I'm holding. So [I'll pull] Audrey's hair so [she'll] drop it.”

That is an actual quote from Kessa's mouth. (Adapted to fit the present tense.)

Holy critical thinking, Batman! I had to give her credit for that, even in the middle of telling her that pulling hair is Not Acceptable.

Abby loves hats.  A lot.  Remember how she’s a diva?  Yes, still.  I made Kessa a sun hat on Friday.  As soon as Abby realized what it was, she started yelling, “Hat!  Hat!” and wouldn’t leave me alone until I let her wear it around.  Of course, it was still in progress and her running away from the skein of yarn still attached to the hat resulted in me having to redo several inches of stitches…  haha.  So after she went to bed I sat down and made her a smaller version.  It took me just over 2 hours.  I was pretty impressed.  Naturally, she adores it, and has worn it half the day.

Speaking of things Abby can say, her vocabulary is exploding.  Here’s a list of things BJ and I can think of that she can say, but I know the list is bigger than this: banana (na-na-na), strawberry (stwawbewwy), bath (bat), towel (sounds remarkably like cow), hat, hot, cold, cheese (which might possibly just mean all food), outside (side), daddy, mommy (sometimes, but more often than ever before), binkie (inkie), doggy, shoe, sock, help (though she doesn’t know what it means), up, down, NO!!!, ok, Kessa, eat, water (wa-wa), drink (we think?), uh-oh, stinky, cereal.

Abby remains way more adventuresome than Kessa.  Being around the energetic twins did nothing to calm her down.  Haha.  Unfortunately for the poor girl, despite being younger, they have way more experience climbing and such.  So while she watched them learn to climb the ladder all week (one got to the point he could climb 3-4 rungs before freaking out), she can’t do it.  Which she learned much to her detriment.  Within minutes of the Harris’ leaving (I think they might have even still been in the driveway), she attempted to climb.  She made it to the first rung and fell off, bonking her head.  She keeps trying, but usually instead of standing on the bottom rung, she puts her legs behind it like she’s trying to sit on it, then gets mad because she’s not going up.

But Audrey (who is as energetic as her brothers) seems to be wearing off on Kessa.  You will not believe this, but Kessa started going down the ladder by climbing down until she could hang by her hands (no feet), then putting one hand on the rung below (so she’s momentarily hanging by one hand), letting go with the top hand and falling until her hands are on the same rung again.  Then repeat with the other hand. All the way down.  I know you don’t believe me, but I have video evidence!  Which, sadly, you can’t watch.  But it can be proof that I’m telling the truth and you can watch it when you get back.  Seriously.  What happened to my cautious girl?

(video below)

Moosen.  Jessa.  So many moose!  The first one crossed the river while everyone but the twins and I (they were all sleeping, so I stayed in the cabin) was out on the dock.  It walked just downriver of them, maybe 30-40 feet away, then went up into the bushes.  I went out to see it (they called me), but it was already in the bushes.  Then the dads took the older girls out on the canoe, and Abby wanted to walk around, so we started back up the path.  Suddenly I heard a large animal sniff (I grew up around cows.  I know the sound.  You probably know it, too.  Horses make it.) maybe 10 feet to the side in the bushes where the moose had been.  So I calmly picked up Abby and started back to the cabin swiftly.  Of course, she wasn’t pleased, so she started screeching her displeasure, which apparently was enough of a warning to the moose to stay her distance.

All the sightings are getting blurred together, but I think we saw a mom and her calf cross the meadow outside the big windows. And then one time we were playing a game during nap time when I glanced out the window and saw a big brown thing practically touching the window.  I was confused at first until it moved and then I realized it was a moose!  So I pointed it out and we all slowly made our way to the couch where were were a window pane away from a cow and her calf.  They were just eating all the plants right along the side of the cabin.  Literally rubbing up along the wood.  Jessa.  I was less than a foot away from a momma moose and her calf!  AND THEY DIDN’T TRY TO KILL ME.  It was insane.

Then today (Saturday) my brother, Damian, was up at his wife’s family’s cabin maybe a mile away, so he brought his bro-in-law, three oldest kids and 2 nephews over this morning to do some canoeing.  At one point his bro-in-law had left, Damian and BJ were out on the canoe (with Damian’s son, Parker, and his nephew, Aaron) while I was on the dock with the remaining kids (minus Abby who was napping.  And the Harris’ were gone by this point), when the momma and her calf come down the other side of the river to the east and start drinking.  They’re maybe 100 feet or so to the east.  So far enough I didn’t feel any immediate danger, but close enough that I warned the kids if they walked towards us we were going to go back to the cabin, since mommies are very protective of their babies.  I apparently scared them enough that whenever they would walk further into the river (but straight across, so not towards us at all), the kids would start getting anxious and ask if we could go into the cabin.  Finally all of them were convinced we should go (and I didn’t have to be an overprotective mom!  Seriously, I wasn’t even super doomsday about it in the first place. Just a calm, matter-of-fact, “If they come close, we’re going inside so we don’t scare them and get hurt.”)  So we came in and played TTR with my niece, Lexi, and her cousin, Kade (Cade?).

And while the menfolk were on that canoe trip, they saw a bull moose, too!  (I haven’t yet seen a bull this trip.)

Just so, so many moosen!*

BJ for some reason decided to start making up a song to the Potter Puppet Pals song, but with kitchen-based words.  It’s hard to really write out the words, though, because everything gets said all at once. But it’s the song that goes “Snape. Snape. Severus Snape. Snape. Snape. Severus Snape. Dumbledore!” The lyrics are changed as follows, though:

Severus Snape: “Plates. Plates. Several plates”
Dumbledore: “Silverware!”
Ron Weasley: “Burns. Burns. Burns easily!”

He hasn’t actually figured out Hermione or Harry Potter yet; he keeps trying out new ideas. But he’s been laughing about this all afternoon. He wants to make a video out of it, but we both know that probably won’t ever happen.

Oh, back with the Harris’.  One day the girls were exhausted and fell asleep around 5:30 pm.  We figured it would just be a short nap.  Nope, they slept until 9:30!  Kessa woke up and timidly asked if she could come out of her room.  Before long Audrey was up too.  They played happily while we played a game, so we let them.  Then as a special treat, which we normally can’t do as they’re usually asleep while it’s still light out, we went out onto the dock and looked at the stars.  Kessa told me she saw a box in the stars.  Turns out, she had picked out the big dipper.  It was so fun to just sit out there, probably for a half hour or more, cuddled up in a blanket, and look at the stars.  I’m excited for when she gets older and can stay up later and appreciate the stars more. Maybe someday we’ll invest in a telescope.  BJ would really like to.

Oh, and on Wednesday I wrote this in my journal:

Last night the Harris' and we were playing a game (at the cabin) while the kids were sleeping. At least, the girls were supposed to be. But out of laziness, and acknowledging that it was a sleepover, we decided that we'd let them do whatever as long as they stayed in the room. They did fine for a long time, laughing and giggling, and then Audrey started to open the door and say things like, “I was hurt, but I'm ok now.” Once I heard Kessa tell her, “Go tell your mom that you hit me, but I'm ok now.” And she did! We were trying so hard not to laugh.

But she kept coming out and her parents kept telling her to go to bed. And eventually Kessa started to say that she wanted the lights off and wanted to sleep, so we decided to take action.

Melanie walked into the room and was like, “Woah! Did you put your oils in here, Tianna?!” as she waved her hand over her nose. I quickly checked and my oils were still safely put away. What I had forgotten though, was in the diaper bag (in their room) was a spritz bottle with 10 drops lavender, 10 drops peppermint, and filled with water to dilute.

When it was discovered (and 1/3 empty!), Kessa explained that they were pretending it was hurt medicine. And suddenly all of Audrey's quick jaunts out to tell us one of them was hurt but was better now made sense. They'd pretend they were hurt, spray the “medicine” then come tell us they were ok.

We laughed and laughed while we put them to bed and for awhile thereafter. We had to air out their room for awhile, too. It was so strong!


  • BJ: I'm really good at pushing buttons on computers!
  • In the car, Kessa and Audrey were smelling each other shoes, declaring that they were yucky, and then throwing them to the floor.
  • Kessa: Abby! My foot is not a fruit snack!
  • BJ: Dating and not dating is not as simple as Facebook would make it seem.
  • Kessa (walking out of the bedroom while riding a small broom): “I came out of Abby's room. That was Heavenly Father's plan, for me to come out of Abby's room.”
  • BJ and I were playing a game called Evo which is a dinosaur game. There is a birthing phase where you can put new dinosaurs on the board. I had a card that let me steal one of BJ's babies and replace it with my own. Me: I'm an egg stealer! Bahaha! BJ: You sneaky mom!
  • BJ: I love having money in cups!
  • Kessa: Abby is trying to pull off my leg. Abby, I have muscles there, so you can't pull it off.
  • Kessa: That's why we came here [Island Park]! To pretend I'm a baby. And to see the birds.
  • We considered going to Yellowstone Park this morning, but ultimately decided against it. Kessa just told me that she wants to go to Yellow Rock Slide. Haha. (Note: we call the park near our house the Yellow Slide Park.)
  • We put cookies in the oven and Kessa wanted the light on so she could see if they were done yet. After carefully examining them through the glass she declared that they needed their privacy and pulled the towel across the handle to cover the glass.  When I told BJ he said, “Well, they are changing.”
  • Kessa: God doesn't want us to die. He wants us to try very hard not to die in the fire. In the scriptures God is in the fire, so if we get in the fire, God can get in with us. And if it's too high to step into, he can jump!
  • Kessa and Abby are in the bathtub together. Kessa: I'm magic! The binkie came out my bum!
    Me: That doesn't sound like very good magic.
    Kessa: That sounds like great magic, actually!

And now for all the other random photos I took that I didn't find room for above.

Kessa wanted to me to read to her.  She fell asleep in 5 mins flat.

Abby always eats her foods in the weirdest ways.
Like this cookie that she ate from the front.

Mitchell cut the girls' sandwiches one day into a pig (left) and a cow (right)

"Take a picture of me, Mommy!"

Watching the rain.

Abby loves hats so much that she sometimes has to improvise with washcloths.
After losing all of the binkies, we tied ribbons to all of them.  Then she took to carrying all of them around.
Kessa washed ALL of the window panes in the doors and the window to the left (not pictured). That's 24 panes in all!  All by herself!

Oops!  Wrong seats!

Kessa took Nana for a walk at cousins' dinner
Ok, a story for this last picture.  Nana wanted to go on a walk.  Kessa went out with her and told Nana, "Nana, you need help going down the stairs."  "I do?" "Yes, you do."  So Barbara asked if Kessa wanted to help Nana.  She thought then said yes.  So she grabbed Nana's hand and helped her down the stairs.  So Barbara asked Kessa if she wanted to help Nana on her walk and be in charge.  She thought, then said yes.  Barbara then came in and told me.  I thought it was cute and wanted to get a picture, so I grabbed my phone and ran outside.  By this point they were almost past the house next door, where the sidewalk starts to go downhill, so I ran over, figuring that would be a bad place for Nana to walk.  When I got close I realized that Kessa was agitated.  She kept going over to Nana, then would run back towards the house, look back at Nana, then run back to her.  When I got closer I heard her say, "Nana, we have to stop.  We can only go to this house then we have to go back and then we can go to that house."  Which is adorable, because at home she is only allowed to go on the sidewalk between certain neighbor's houses.  She apparently transferred that rule to Barbara's house and was really upset because Nana was breaking the rule and she didn't know what to do.  Too cute.

Well, I think that's enough for one email.  Sorry (but not really) for the picture overload.  I just didn't know what pictures to cut!  And for the rest of my readers (if anyone got down this far), here are two more cute videos:

1) Kessa and Audrey singing Happy Birthday in the car (to Mommy, though who knows which Mommy).  They were constantly singing.

2) Abby playing peekaboo with me behind the table.

*Yes, I know the plural of moose is just moose.  I simply prefer to say moose.