Friday, October 12, 2012

Busy, busy, busy!

Blogging has gone out the window because I have been so awesomely busy. I spent most of a week working for the Board of Elections, mainly stuffing absentee ballot envelopes. (It wasn't as exciting as it sounds!).

Then, on Thursday we got SmallDaughter off of her school van and drove into town where we rented a car (since I do not trust the green van, and it has been making a suspicious “clonking” noise—more on that later!). We loaded everything into the rental in the pouring rain (the rental was boring, except that it was a “ key-less push button start” which was pretty weird!), and drove over to Pennsylvania (about a 4 hour drive), where My Favorite Gentleman has been working for several months.

We got to stay at his motel with him, where SmallDaughter had a GREAT time, because they had a pool—perfect for her, only 3 feet deep all the way around. We had breakfast (also perfect for her, scrambled eggs, sausage, hash-browns and toast—she ate every morsel, and scrounged bites from the rest of us!) BigGirl and LargeBoy really liked that the diner in the motel (where we had breakfast) had a jukebox (3 songs for $1), so we ate to the strains of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, “Sultans of Swing”, and “Duke of Earl”. Then we went to run errands, and when we came back SmallDaughter swam for 4 hours. I did My Favorite Gentleman’s laundry. After we got some lunch, she went swimming again!

After My Favorite Gentleman got off work, we drove for an hour to the cute town where my dear Aunts live, and went to our Family Reunion. It was really fun to see and spend time with so many Anderson Cousins.

On Saturday, the whole group of us went to “Living Treasures Animal Park” which is a nifty cross between a petting zoo and a zoo. You can feed almost all of the animals, and you are close up and personal (and it is clean and well designed, too!). Because we took The WonderDog, all of the big predators came REALLY close to the glass to check us out! Literally “Lions (a male and a female), Tigers (an orange and a white) and Bears (just one, but he was big!), OH MY”!. Also, alligators, boa constrictors, llamas, camels, ostriches, goats, ponies and lots of different monkeys. And what was the scariest? The peacocks (of course!).

Afterwards, various other grownup types stayed with the little kids, and the other adults went to a State Park to see the historic mill and do some hiking. It also happened to be the Heritage Festival, so we got to go on a hayride, (with Abraham Lincoln!), visit with reenactors, see (and hear!) the cannons, etc!

On Monday night, my sister M and her hubs (with the 3 cutest little boys) drove in from NY, and we had a fun day on Tuesday (mostly cleaning and getting things ready, with some YouTube mixed in!). My sister A and her hubs and 4 cutest little girls got here around 6ish, just as we were leaving for the park. It was a truly perfect evening. The leaves are all turning beautifully, but it wasn’t too cold, we had the entire playground to ourselves and all the cousins (and dads!) had a riot!

On Thursday, I took the big girls on the “Metro Amish Country Fieldtrip”. We went to Planktown Hardware, which is the store that sells all of the lotion & soap making supplies. I bought: cocoa butter (yum!), coconut oil, kaolin, essential oils, and deodorant tubes and I am going to try making my own deodorant. Then we went to Planktown Market, and got nice bulk type things, and then to Country Fabrics, which is always fun!

We got back about the same time Friend Lisa showed up with her 2 boys, and shortly after that Friend Vanessa and her 2 girls arrived! We played for a little while, then loaded everybody up, and took them to ride the carousel. SmallDaughter was in heaven! She rode a bunny and a kitty, but we got there just before closing, so they only had time for 2 rides!

Next we went to the Harvest Festival that they had at the Assisted Living Facility where our sister V was dancing. She is always a hoot to watch. It was a perfect festival—very low key and mellow, totally handicap accessible, and nothing scary for the little kids. SmallDaughter really liked the maze, petting 2 alpacas and the cake walk. The bigger kids liked the giant rubber band catapult to shoot apples at targets!

After the sun started to go down, we went over to dear Aunt A’s and celebrated my nephew’s 5th birthday. We made a super cute cake, with cookie crumb “dirt”, and sister M found such a clever technique—we printed out a picture of a dinosaur skeleton, put it in a protector page, then traced it with melted white chocolate. After it set up, we just popped it on top—and it looked amazing! (We broke it into pieces to look more "fossil-like").
Nephew informed EVERYBODY that they would be super surprised—because his cake “was all chocolate on the outside (the frosting)—but banana inside! And everybody will be expecting chocolate—but it isn’t!” We were suitably surprised.

On Saturday morning, BigGirl left with Vanessa & crew for the Renaissance Festival that is south of Columbus. They met up with our friend Megan and her family, and she came back with them (Vanessa just went back home). It was fun to see Megan and her super cute kids! We had a good time with them. While BigGirl was wowing the Middle ages in her elf ears, the rest of us set up the movie screen and projector and watched General Conference.

It was really fun watching it with my Seminary Boys—they were really into it. Sadly, we had technical difficulties at the beginning, so we didn’t get to see Pres. Monson’s announcement about changing the mission ages live (we had to go back and watch it afterwards). That means BigGirl will be able to go on a mission in 3 years!

One of my former Beehive girls (who is now at BYU) posted on Facebook: “That moment when President Monson changes your whole life with 1 sentence”. Which I thought was pretty cool. I love how technology is allowing us to truly flood the earth with the Good News of the Gospel and Jesus Christ!

We played fun conference games*, and I sorted pictures as we listened, and it was great until the end of the last Sunday session, when I moved wrong and threw my back out! So instead of all the busy cleaning and catching up I planned to do on Monday, I spent the day in bed, alternating heat and ice packs! I did get in to the chiropractor in the afternoon, so things are better; I just have sore muscles now. SmallDaughter got to go to riding, and we stopped at Kingwood Center to see the ducks. She would NOT go by herself, and kept pushing me ahead of her towards the scary peacock place, but he was not there, so we just got to feed the ducks in peace!

My biggest job this week (besides trying to get the house recovered from a vacation AND a huge visit) is that I have to go buy a car. All of our minivans have reached the point of no return, and a replacement is in order, so by this time next week, you should get more exciting news.

*We had several really fun games, as well as our Conference Notebooks. The most popular by far was having 2 candy dishes (peanut M&M's and Skittles, since I am the candy purchaser!), and each person picked a word (before the session started). Then, each time that word was mentioned over the pulpit, you got a candy. We also played Conference Bingo (I printed off the boards from here), and I printed the smaller children coloring pages and Conference Packets for the middle sized children . We will be playing this excellent Conference Game for Seminary.

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