Monday, June 29, 2009

Farm Skills

When John and I met, we had a brief courtship followed by an abbreviated engagement. Translation: We didn't know each other all that well when we entered into wedded bliss. We hadn't done many activities together and this allowed us to learn all kinds of new and glorious things about each other post marriage vow.

One of the perks of marrying this Man of My Dreams was the fact that he had a boat. I am from Page, AZ and although my family never had a boat (why was that, by the way??) I still had managed to somehow acquire an acute warm fuzzy feeling for all things lake related. (I guess I should clarify that a little and say that I have that WFF as long as the weather and water are on the WARM side, and the HOT side is even better.) Anyhoo... So ya, I'm like "SCORE!' when I moved into John's little gravel pit house as his new bride and only then learned we had a boat.

Going to the lake is an endeavor you want to do with more than one person, not only because conversation is typically better, but because it makes launch and retrieval of the boat more manageable. The first person drives the car and the second person drives the boat during launch. While there is certainly a skill set involved with driving a boat, there is not a lot the boat driver needs to be skilled at in order to have a successful launch. The car driver on the other hand, needs to have a fairly specialized knowledge in order to accomplish said task. This particular knowledge (namely: backing a trailer) falls into a category that John refers to as "Farm Skills." These would be tasks not limited to trailer backing, but also including things like driving a tractor, or saddling a horse. It includes any skill or knowledge not typically gained by a person growing up a neighborhood or urban setting. Of course, John knew I was a person like that-raised almost exclusively on the mean streets of suburbia.

Because we got married in July, we still had lots of good lake weather hanging around. That first summer of matrimony, John was going through the same feelings I was when he thought, "Who in the blazes IS this person I married?!" I think he was a little bit afraid to be alone with me. Actually I think he just didn't think I had any farm skills. The first few times we went to the lake, he would invite some random single guy buddy of his to come along. The 'buddy' would sometimes back the truck, sometimes launch the boat. I would sit quietly and smile (one of those polite smiles where you don't really show your teeth) as I enjoyed getting to know strangers better on the lake.

I wasn't until August that John suggested we go to the lake in the evening-alone-just the two of us. I thought that sounded delightful. When we got to the lake, John suggested I get in the boat and asked if I felt comfortable with that. I suggested HE get in the boat and I would back the trailer. He paused and opened his mouth as if to speak, thought twice, then asked if I was sure I wanted to do that.


I smiled. No teeth showing.

He started sweating.

He stammered and started offering advice. I continued smiling. Since we were still in the honeymoon phase, I am sure he wanted to accommidate my wishes and he agreed. I got into the drivers seat. We pulled down the launch ramp with John in the boat. I flipped a quick u-turn and backed the trailer right down to the water, dropping my hubby and the boat ever so gently in the lake. I think I heard him gasp as I pulled the truck back up the ramp and parked it in the lot. Still smiling my toothless smile, I trotted down the ramp and hopped from the pier to the boat. John didn't say anything and just stared over at me. He had a smile too, only his went from ear to ear. He finally regained his ability to speak and uttered, "You have farm skills." I just kept smiling and looking out over the beauty of the lake in the early evening.

I think that was the night he decided that marrying this stranger from the suburbs wasn't one of the most questionable judgement calls he had ever made. If nothing else, I think he realized that marrying me would be a journey with some interesting surprises.

So ya, I can back a trailer. Here are my tips for anyone wanting to learn how to acquire this farm skill.

Tip #1 When backing a trailer it is best to get your vehicle and trailer lined up straight while going forward. Having them aligned is the easiest position to start from.

Tip #2 (This is my secret to success) Put your hand on the BOTTOM of your steering wheel (this is important!). Then, when you turn around to back your trailer, simply move your hand in the direction you want to the trailer to go. Placing your hand on the bottom of the wheel solves the whole 'steer the opposite direction' mumbo jumbo and makes it easy for your brain to adapt.

Tip #3 When backing a boat trailer, I find it helpful to make my U-turn as close to the water's edge as possible. This way you have the shortest distance to back up. I don't understand the folks who turn around at the top of the ramp, then criss-cross the ramp all the way to the water.

Tip #4 Take your time. There is no rush. It doesn't matter how busy a launch ramp is, you just go nice and slow so you can nail it the first time.

Farm skills are not essential to our salvation, but on the launch ramp, they can help us keep our thoughts pure and our language clean!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lessons in Driving

When crossing the Reservation, be sure to slow down between Tees Nos Pos and Kayenta.    Highway Patrolmen often hang near Baby Rocks.     We learned that Patrolmen will pull you over if you are speeding.    They are often curious what your speedometer was reading.   They seem interested to know if 'with these big tires' you thought you were going as fast as their radar said you were.     They don't let you off if you have 5 kids and one crazy wife crammed into the cab of your fast truck.     We learned that you can go to jail for driving more than 20 mph over the posted limit of 65mph.   Fortunately, the last lesson was only a verbal one.   We also learned that Patrolmen have a heart and will sometimes write you up for only 10 mph over the limit and won't make speeding drivers learn firsthand about the inside of a Reservation Jail Cell.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

If I had run Cross Country

I am not a runner.

In high school I played tennis and did the high jump. I always participated in church basketball and volleyball. But I never enjoyed running. Ever. Frankly, I just stink at it. Lung capacity is not my strong point.

But if I had run Cross Country in High School, I would have wanted a coach like this guy. Theo Martin-coach of the Page High School XC and Track teams. He also happens to be my cool bro-in-law who lives over in Page with his HS sweetheart that also just happens to be my little sis Nicole.

Every year he takes his XC team on cool adventures which he likes to refer to as 'Running Camp.' They always are over the course of several days in some beautiful location. This year he brought 7 of his students to Durango. This was after they went to Cortez then up to Telluride. Before arriving at our house in the evening, they all ran Imogene Pass into Ouray where they soaked in the Hot Springs. His good friend Otis also comes along to help chaperone-(BTW-I am a little ticked he is not in this picture! ;))
He has a good bunch of kids and I am sure they are very inspired by Theo because not only is he a world class runner (literally), but he is also a really great person. And Otis isn't half bad either. heehee

I am embarresed to admit that they stayed out in the shop. I invited them in, but they were cool just staying out there-talk about easy house guests!!! I did manage to feed them a little bit between them running, swimming in the pond (brr), hitting the Rec Ctr, more running, and a movie.

Jackson did the BBQing.

The kids serenaded us in the morning.

And then they were off. Coach Martin never stands still and he took them on a run up La Plata Canyon on the way back to Page today. Have fun XC team! See you next year.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

When I met and married John, I knew he was cool. But to see him grow into the most amazing Father I could ever imagine is extraordinary. I never could have dreamed that this man who is so strong and tough could also be so incredibly soft and gentle. I feel like I married my dream guy and got a dream Dad for my babies as some super sweet bonus. I love who you are. I love how you love and take care of our family. Thank you John. Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Eyelashes Have Fared Well Over the Last 20 Years

This weekend we went to Page for my 20 year HS reunion. 20 years. Really? 20. 20. I am a little freaked out. I only went to PHS my Jr and Sr year, but it is where I always claim to be 'from.' I had a ton of fun at my 10 year reunion even though I was 7 month pregnant with Elise (our 3rd). So I was really looking forward to this reunion. I never did get to my whole diet/excercise program I was wanting to do before going, but luckily (?!) I just finished my pnemonia diet-lose 10 pound in just 2 weeks-no excercise required. (Not a diet I would recommend to anyone, by the way...)

John had a terrific attitude and even picked out a shirt for me to wear (I of course will never trust his opinion again, since in all of the pics I look prego with #6-which I am certainly NOT!). He found a sweet new shirt at some weird shop in Page-so ya, Happy Father's Day on that shirt babe-love ya! :) We were all dressed and ready to go, but I have to say, I was feeling a little bit nervous...which surprised and bugged me. I feel like I have gotten over all that teen angst stuff, but I was still apprehensive. OK, honestly, my giant fake eyelashes don't help. I mean really, they are so huge. Sorry to digress back to this topic, but really, what in the h*#% am I supposed to do about these things. I was afraid to remove them for fear that I would be without eyelashes all together for my reunion. So I kept them. Long and Fake. Ugg. Oh well. It was too late now. I just tried to go with the flow and enjoy hanging at the Gunsmoke Saloon.

Friday Night meet/greet/eat at the Gunsmoke.
Lisa, Dabrielle, and I. Good Times!
I am still a little traumatized that I won the award for the most kids. Me and this other gal each managed to have 5 kids! Yes, I am obviously emphasizing this fact to the crowd...
Here's our group shot. Ya, I am in the back (I am still tall).

Overall, it ended up being a good night. It was great to see some old friends and catch up a little. In High School, I never won anything like Homecoming Queen or Class President. Starting with 6th grade, I was always just the 'new girl' at school (we moved a lot). Sidenote: I did win 'Craziest' my Senior year-go figure? Anyhow. I just have to say though, as I sat there in the Gunsmoke with my hubby hanging and chattin' up my old classmates, I felt like the Queen of you-name-it. I realized just how blessed I am. I have a patient, loving husband and 5 kids that I really, really adore. We have our hang-ups and challenges just like everyone else, but really, I know the Lord has kept us in his care. It was a really good feeling! :) OK, I just want to emphasize the fact that I was not comparing what I had to anyone else-I think it may have sounded like that, I was just thinking of all the ways my life could have gone. I have had innumerable paths I could have taken over the last 20 years-I am just really grateful for the way it has all ended up so far.

The Gunsmoke wasn't the end. On Saturday there was also the Picnic in the Park for families of graduates. it was fun to see how we are multiplying.

Overall, it was a great weekend. Thank you to our fabulous hosts, the Martins. My sister Nicole and her family live in Page and they always welcome us into their home and feed us too much yummy food. Between RD's oreo shakes and Nicole's yummy cooking, I am well on my way to finding those 10 pounds I lost. I better watch it because next year is the multi-year reunion. You know you are getting old when they just invite the whole decade (the 80's) to the party! I just hope to have my own eyelashes next year....heehee

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lake Powell-1st Dip of the Summer

We are in Page for my 20 year class reunion, but I wanted to post some pictures I took when we went out Friday afternoon to swim. We didn't have the boat, so we went out to Antelope Marina to swim off of the rocks. It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!

Look at the color of that water! Isn't it amazing?!
We found a great place to set out our towels and swim. There were shallow rocks for the little guys to stand on while the bigger kids dove under the water with goggles to see what lurked below...

I posted this next picture to show a little 'local flava.' Notice the Europeans in the left of the pic. It seems like all Europeans smoke and wear too little swimming clothing (??). Look carefully in the bottom right to see the drunk guy passed out with his feet in the lake. We didn't even see him until we had set out our stuff, so we just stayed and eventually he woke up and stumbled off.

Although a little breezy, it was a delightful day. The sun was shining and it was hovering just above 80 degrees. I found the water a bit chilly for my wimpy self, but the kids jumped right in.


My nephews, Bowen the Lizard Hunter
And Drake-the oldest Martin Brother

And of course I just have to post a few more pics of the little guys.

And a couple of my favorite guy.

I had to post this one of Gabe packing out the Budweiser. This is actually the box the aforementioned drunk guy left behind-along with all of the cans. It was a good lesson for the kids to clean up his mess and leave the lake better than we found it. (Besides, I just think it is a funny pic with Gabe hiking out with a 12 pack.)
I love Lake Powell. I love my family. I love how it feels to have a little bit of a sunburn on my smiling face.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Strawberries, Superheroes, and Stuck in Sand

We have quite the bumper crop of strawberries this summer. We had the Johnsons over for a BBQ and homegrown strawberry shortcake. With these guys picking them, you know they had to taste super! We had a delightful evening hanging out and enjoying their company.


Gabe has started working this summer at the gravel pit. He is the official cleaner-upper. So today was his first day. He was SO, SO excited. John gave him a ride to work and Hank was lined up to return him at the end of his day of hard labor. Around quitting time, we got a call from Hank asking if he and Gabe could stay a little longer and ride their dirtbikes (they coincidentally had both of their bikes at the pit...lucky, strangely lucky). I agreed to a half hour.

As you can imagine from the above photo, we had a delightful dinner with friends, fun, and fresh going on (you know, as in fresh strawberries-kind of a stretch? oh well, I like all words to begin in the same letter...). We BBQed, we enjoyed yummy salad with candy coated walnuts, we tidied up, we picked and prepped for glaze.

All of this took far more that the allowed 30 minutes. John had received a phone call earlier allerting us to the fact that Gabe had gotten stuck in the old wash pond. This is a spot in the pit that we have now learned is pretty much 3-4 foot deep quicksand. Don't ask. (Don't most small businesses have a quicksand zone? No? Hmm. Oh. OK, well. I guess we are just special...) So ya, Gabe was very stuck. Extremely stuck. He was apparently down in the pit trying to dig out his bike and when he tried to step forward, the sand pulled him back in.

Hank took some pictures and kindly let me share...

They eventually had to hook the loader up to it to drag it out.
He got home just before dessert, and this is what I saw:
Did I even have to waste my breath in asking how his first day of work was? If you don't know the answer, you don't know Gabe. So how did he say his first day went? "It was so awesome Mom! I loved it!"

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandma Kristine

Today was Kristine's 71st birthday.  We gave her a framed photo from our vacation last year in Hawaii.  We sure love you Grandma!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

When Dad Bathes the Kiddos

Lots of soap, lots of laughs...


Elise and her cousin Jacqueline went horseback riding today. Jac is Kip and Jess' youngest daughter and she is in town for a few days with her Grandma Pat. I would love to keep her!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Movie in the Park

I miss the Rocket. That is the name of the Drive-In Movie theater that once was our favorite Saturday summer night hangout. It was sold several years ago to some developers. They took down the screen and the development never took place. As we pass it on our way to Wal-Mart, I still reminisce with myself about the good times our family had in the back of the truck munching on our Rocket Burgers, taking in a movie, sitting on a mattress with the whole gang. It wasn't only our family that went, when you went to the Rocket you saw everyone else in town doing the same thing. Families hanging out, enjoying the glorious days of our small town summer.

So yesterday Lanae called to let us know about a movie in the park over at Three Springs (the new neighborhood being developed by the hospital).
Although it was chilly, we went for it! It was one of my favorites-Kung Fu Panda. It was really pleasant! Not quite the drive-in (no Rocket Burgers), but it was fun and just like the Rocket, there were lots of familiar faces and friends.
The Kennedys and the Manns. Love those guys! Our kids loved seeing and hanging out with them. We all wrap up-very chilly for June.
Kids are great heaters! These two keep me warm. Jebb stuck with me all wrapped up through the whole thing!
The start of a new tradition...? We'll see what's playing next week!

Back From Camp-Back From Utah

I dropped Gabe and Seth off on Monday at BYU for a basketball camp. You might remember my whole master plan of trying to create positive experiences and happy feelings for the kids at BYU so they will want to go there....anyhoo.

Thursday evening we picked them up as their camp was done and we were all heading home to Durango.
I walked into Helaman Halls, where they have spent the last 4 days. I helped them strip the beds so they could have the Dorm Dude check them out. The Dorm Dude told Seth he needed to take his towels down to the laundry collection place. Seth answered (and I think he will kill me for writing about this someday-at least I hope someday it will inspire SOME sense of shame) that he hadn't used the towels. What? Did I hear that right. My mouth opened, but I didn't speak for a moment. Ya, cute 'stunned' look there Michelle. I looked at Seth, then the Dorm Dude, then back to Seth and asked, "Does that mean you haven't bathed during all of camp?" Dorm Dude laughs. I have another moment when my mouth is open when my brain couldn't quite compute that info. Dorm Dude assures me he strongly encourages all boys to shower nightly. Gabe chimes in that he, too, encouraged Seth to shower.

So ya, ICK! YUCK! Boys are stinky. Sweaty basketball boys are even worse. EEUW! BLECH! Dorm Dude walks out laughing and I finally close my gaping mouth. I looked at Seth and didn't even know what to say. So I said, "Yuck, Seth." to which he just shrugged.
After we loaded the luggage into the truck, we hopped in the car. I made Seth sit in the back seat. (Sidenote: I did eventually come to my senses enough to tell the boys how happy I was to see them. But I admit I did not hug Seth for very long.)

So what the heck? He didn't shower for the whole 4 day camp?! Where have I gone wrong? Is there still hope? I mean really, 4 days?! Yuck, yuck, yuck. OK, I need to move on.

I am glad to be back home all together though. We have been away for a while. Gabe has been gone 3 weeks and the rest of us were gone for 2. John was a site for sore eyes and it was so nice to sleep in my own bed. The grass has grown, the snapdragons have bloomed like crazy, and our strawberry bumper crop is ready to harvest. It is nice to be back.