Gypsy Bleu

The Arbitrary Swoon Gypsy Bleu

Earlier this month I did something totally spontaneous and ordered a bit of chocolate…  I mean who can blame me?  Chocolate is a fabulous treat!  The old adage, ‘a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips’ might work… except I planned on keeping this little bit of chocolate with me for at least 12-15 years, and no exercise was going to rid me of the little one.  Yep, one.  I ordered a bitty chocolate cockapoo/spoodle mix from a breeder and couldn’t wait to bring her home!

The plane ride was a long one, infact two hours late and as we sat waiting alongside a gorgeous St. Bernard in the airport I couldn’t help but to worry about how the delay was going to take it’s toll on our little one!  12 hours after she left Missouri, she arrived in Sacramento and as we cut the zip ties off of her crate she scrambled joyously to be released.  She climbed all over us licking and sniffing, back and forth so excited to be out of her little crate!  My husband & I handed her over to our son Koltin and then proceeded to drive the hour drive home to our house.  Our little one, Gypsy Bleu slept on the drive home, occasionally looking out of the car window and the passing cars.  She didn’t eat much that night, but drank a lot of water, and slept most of the night.  Nice.  This was going to be a breeze!  The next day I noticed that she wasn’t eating much, drinking a lot and she slowly seemed to be sleeping a lot.  The following day was a Sunday and I noticed that she just wasn’t perking up, she was still not eating much and seemed to be lethargic… no puppy barks, no more investigating as a normal new puppy might do.  Sunday night I decided that this was not normal and something was wrong.  To the local 24 hour veterinary hospital I went where she was kept overnight for dehydration via an IV tube.  Blah.  They did a bit of testing, assured me that she was fine and home she went the next day.  Unfortunately, the pattern resumed of her feeling poorly and by Christmas Eve, as we prepared for the church service, I asked my husband to bring her back again, as she was rarely waking up and was not eating without a syringe filled with her food.  She stayed at the hospital through Christmas and finally, the evening of the 26th they called to say she was ready to come home, there wasn’t much more that they could do there, that I couldn’t do at home.  So we brought her home, on three medications, a fancy food and very clear orders on how we were to take care of her.  Memories of taking care of my 17 year old son as a preemie came back to me as I recorded feeding times, medication times, etc.

 Gypsy Blue Roams

I am happy to say, although she is still finishing up her antibiotics she is doing much better and is finally allowed to leave her crate and explore the world.  This afternoon, we let her roam around our property a bit and I took a few photographs.  She’s a cutie!  You’ll notice on her front legs where they shaved her to put in the IV… poor baby!

Just so that you know, you can keep up with her mischieveous antics on her instagram page!  There are many adventures to come!

Gypsy Bleu RoamsThe Arbitrary Swoon Gypsy Bleu

NCIS LA Set Visit


The Arbitrary Swoon VeniceEach year, the high school that my husband and I graduated from holds a sports fundraiser called the Mel McLaughlin Wolverine Classic.  Mr. McLaughlin…  or Mel as he asked all of us to call him, was one of our high school teachers.  He is currently basking in retirement but certainly has not become any less of a participant in all of the local’s daily lives.  The man announces the high school football games each week, the gymnasium is named after him, he is the member of numerous charitable organizations and lucky me, I have the honor of singing with him each week on stage at the church.  Of course he was also the first. and only teacher to kick me out of class for talking.  Who me?  Yep.

The Arbitrary Swoon BHS McLaughlin Classic

A few pics from the Mel McLaughlin Wolverine Classic. Top left is the hubby’s team, below that is me & my friend Becky, humble volunteers for the event, and the handsome man on the right is THE Mel McLaughlin…

At the end of a lengthy round of golf, everyone joined together for a wonderful meal, and then a fun auction was held.  I had my eye on the NCIS LA set visit but we really hadn’t planned on bidding on it.  When it finally came up for bids my husband decided to buy it for me, such a sweetie.  Conveniently the only other serious bidder was one of my friends, so of course I asked her to join me on the trip!

The Arbitrary Swoon Venice California

Did you know that there are actual canals in Venice Beach that are similar to those in Venice, Italy? Here is one on the left above! I also loved this mural on the right… very cool!

I’ve been to Disneyland many times, but I had never actually toured around the city, so it was the perfect opportunity to see it all!  The four of us girls jumped on a tour bus and hit all of the hot spots!

The Arbitrary Swoon Venice Beach

Venice Beach, CA

The Arbitrary Swoon Little Mexico

Look at those darling baby huarches!!!

The Arbitrary Swoon

Had to take a few pics on Hollywood Boulevard… anyone local see the wolverine?

Hollywood sign!  Check out that view!

Hollywood sign! Check out that view!

The Arbitrary Swoon Red Carpet

We saw a wanna-be Jesus on our drive. The red carpet was being set up for the Billboard Mexican Music Awards… the poor thing was SOAKED the next day in a rain storm!

The Arbitrary Swoon Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive didn’t really impress me much, and Beverly Hills did have nice signs!

Overall, glad that we did the bus tour, but probably won’t do it again!  After roaming the countryside for hours, it was finally time to head over to Paramount for our NCIS LA set tour.    We checked in at the gate, found a parking spot and followed our tiny map to the lot that we were to meet our guide.  It was kind of cool seeing the Glee cheerleaders roaming the alleyways in their cute little red outfits!  My first impression of the lot was that it just looked like a lot of large storage buildings with miscellaneous golf carts roaming, lift equipment tucked into wide doorways and an occasional random alleyway branching off to nowhere.  We met our guide at the NCIS LA office trailer where she informed us that the cast was still in a reading and that she was going to take us on a golf cart around to see the various outdoor sets.  So, the five of us climbed onto a tiny golf cart that only held four comfortably (sorry that you girls had to be squished in the back!) and zipped on down the alleyway.  So, how things are set up I’m sure is completely organized but to me it was a bit chaotic.  We saw several back lot streets that could host a wide variety of exterior scenes.  Each one runs into the other and I’m sure that I’ve seen each of them in more than one Paramount Studios filmed movie or tv show, as they all seem familiar and I got that deja vu feeling that I’d been there before…

The Arbitrary Swoon Paramount Studios

 The Arbitrary Swoon Paramount Tour

As we drove around we passed a very familiar Glee cast member that I wish I had grabbed me camera to take a photo of, but we were whipping around the corner to the next spot so I missed him.  I’m not sure if my friends knew who he was, as he looked like your average high school kid walking down the street with his earbuds in, ignoring us.  Here’s a pic that I found on pinterest…  some of you might recognize him…

The Arbitrary Swoon Glee

Yep.  Glee eye candy.  Makes me feel really old when I read that he was born the same year that I graduated high school!  Well geez.

Finally we made it back to the trailer…  we all went a bit goo goo because LL Cool J was just leaning back on the building with his earbuds on, talking on the phone.  Our guide brought us over to him where he graciously signed a headshot, and posed for a photograph (talking on the phone the entire time) with us.  Very friendly man, and might I add… that guy is built like a rock… a very large, muscular rock.  Oh, and his smile was adorable too!  From there we entered the building and headed to the Spanish mission style set where the team works.

The Arbitrary Swoon NCIS LA Set

For as much light is filtered into this set during filming, it was actually rather dark when we walked in.  We were shown Hetty’s desk and wandered a bit.  We had another star struck moment when Eric Christian who plays the character Deeks was amusing us pretending to jump over the table & chairs set up for the reading.  The man’s smile is enough to make you lose your thought process, and it was really pretty incredible to realize that he is a gregarious, friendly man who really loves his job.

The Arbitrary Swoon Eric Christian

After perusing the lower level of the set we headed upstairs to the ops center ‘techy’ room where the details of each case are shared with the team.  There are large screens, phones, computers and looks exactly like it does on tv.  I simply had to sit in a chair and talk on the phone a bit to get the feel of things…  you know, because I could.  I thought that it was a prop, but it had a dial tone… I totally should have called home!

The Arbitrary Swoon NCIS LA Ops Center

After roaming for a bit we headed out to where all of the action was happening… well pretty low key action for this tv show which has car chases, explosions and gun fights on a somewhat regular basis.  We walked over to the boat house… yes, THE boat house where many of a bad guy is interrogated until they confess their sins.  It looks exactly like it does on the show… except it’s in the same large building as the mission style offices.  One of the set designers answered our questions… and yes there is water under the trap door.  We were quickly ushered out as they were beginning to film again.  We went to the next room that is usually used as the exercise room.  There are climbing walls, a basketball hoop and various exercise equipment laying around.  We were given tall directors chairs to sit directly behind the producers of the show to watch each shot, along with earphones so that we could hear what was being said.  We must have watched that same scene over, and over for at least two hours!  They took close up shots of each person saying their lines, and then at different angles.  It was truly fascinating to watch all that was involved to get one simple scene filmed.  The coolest part was that each of the cast members came in and were hanging out with us chatting inbetween shots.  They were so friendly and joked around.  They wanted to know where we were from, and of course they had heard of Chico State.  It was comical as they each at different times asked us if we had hit the ice cream truck parked outside.  Apparently it was a big deal that they were there for the day!  We were introduced to the soft spoken, friendly Daniela Ruah who plays Kenzi.  She didn’t have much of a baby bump yet and was truly glowing!  Chris O’Donnell was probably the quietest of the cast but was kind enough to answer a few questions of mine about the recent show he was on called ‘Who do you think you are?’ that traces a star’s genealogy.  Totally right down my alley!  Each of them signed our photograph and posed for a picture with us.

The Arbitrary Swoon Cast

I think that we were all very surprised at how down to earth the entire cast and production team was with us.  You can see how well they get along, joking and it’s obvious that they are really friends!  If they aren’t then they are darn good actors.   Which they are, so I could be totally wrong (but I don’t think so LOL).  I was sad that we didn’t get to meet all of the cast, but who knows, maybe if we are lucky enough to win another set tour we can meet the rest of them!  It was a wonderful day and as we walked out to the parking lot a cute black Range Rover pulled up to us, rolled down the window and a cheerful Daniela Ruah stopped to tell us that she was glad to meet us and wished us well.  How cool is that?  Oh, and I totally want a Range Rover now… much to my hubbies dismay!   It was a wonderful trip, with wonderful friends that I will never forget.

NCIS LA Head Shots

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

Hayden's new boat
Hayden's new boat

Hayden’s new boat

When your 16 year old son tells you that he just bought a boat from the neighbor and is going to give it a spin in the small irrigation ditch next to your house, what is a Mom to do?  Grab the camera of course!  This is my delightful son Hayden and his friend Thomas headed upstream through the blackberry brambles…  he declares that it is the best 50$ he ever spent!  Had me laughing for quite awhile!

My Pinterest Addiction and the Mes Amis Vintage Antique Show

My gorgeous niece poses with one of our favorite finds!


I have to admit, I am addicted to Pinterest.  Yep.  I have 3574 pins, on 65 boards.  I follow 608 other fellow pinners and have 597 followers, very few of which I actually know on a personal basis.  I have mapped out more to-do projects on my ‘Me and My Pink Hammer’ board than any one person could complete in a lifetime, and since I married the man of my dreams prior to this vast, magical world of Pinterest, I am content to pin not my dream wedding, but my dream 20 year Anniversary party coming up this summer.  I am so rocking those decorations!  He he he…  I will let you in on a little secret though… I have NO intention of completing all of those crafty, organization projects.  Nope.  I’m an organizer, not necessarily a doer.  I can appreciate all that goes into the process, and love to have the answers to all of life’s complex cleaning problems organized and available upon a moment’s notice but that is where it ends.  Have I ever done any of my pinterest projects?  Heck yeah!  I’ve cooked recipes, scrapbooked, made personalized buntings, taken fabulous photo advice, learned how to use photoshop… and the list goes on… but in the real world, who has the time to do all of the things that they pin?  Not me!  But I do have the time to dream… and to collect and organize my dreams, all in my special place called Pinterest, and I do it fabulously!  Why am I sharing this bit of information you might ask?  Well when I get the opportunity to go out into the world and touch, feel and smell {yep smell} some of the things that I’ve been pinning for years, well I go baby… and the opportunity to see some of the things that I love arose this past weekend at the Mes Amis Vintage Antique Show held in old town Roseville.

My gorgeous niece poses with one of our favorite finds! Oh, and yes… I have a board for that tiara on Pinterest!


What a joy to find such a large variety of vintage repurposing and stylized in such a beautiful way!


I have been attending these types of ‘shows’ for years now.  What once might have been referenced as a flea market is simply no more… There has been this incredible resurgence of recreating, reusing and repurposing what was once considered old into something new and these shows have evolved into boutique-like little markets that are refined and beautiful places to visit.  Can you believe it?  There are people out there that follow their passion and share their Pinterest creations with the world!  Can I get an Amen?  I LOVE these people!  Not only do they recycle in the purest form, but they display their wares in such an incredible manner that it is a joy to my heart seeing such creativity!

Locker Love

I fell in love with these old lockers… I have so many ideas already pinned on Pinterest on how to use them!

I spent hours walking through the booths, touching the creations, smelling the old books, oohing and aweing over the antiques and clever displays.  The live music kept my toes tapping as I weaved my way strategically up one side of the street and down the other, certain not to miss a single thing!  I snapped pics of my faves and moved on to snap some more…what a great afternoon!  I bought a couple of items and can’t wait to share one in particular with you… but that’s a Pinterest project for another day… 


So after perusing all of the booths, I finally picked my favorite. It certainly was not an easy task, but I loved Rustic Urban’s signs so much that I bought one right away and would have bought that ‘Wake Up and Be Awesome’ one if someone hadn’t snatched it up right in front of me! That will teach me… they say if you love something then buy it without hesitation! That’s okay, I bought one of the adorable yellow hearts and can’t wait to put it into the perfect spot!

The Arbitrary Swoon

Some snaps of a few of my favorite things… bought one of the chalk board displays at the last show and have my eye on the fabulous olive buckets!


You’re Wright We’re Todds – Family Reunion – 1982 Gridley, CA

Grandma Arlene with her little helpers...



Grandma Arlene with her little helpers...

Grandma Arlene with her little helpers…

My Grandma,  Arlene Todd is the second oldest daughter of 9 children born to Renna & James Wright.  Every couple of years, for as long as I can remember (up to fairly recent years) she & her sisters each held a Wright Family Reunion, getting all of the families together.  Sometimes it would be back in Arkansas where they were all raised, and I remember going once to Oregon where a couple of the sisters lived.  Grandma didn’t always get to go, but most of the time she made a huge effort to leave the flower shop in the hands of my mother or other wonderful staff member and she was off!

The In-laws

The In-laws


The Outlaws...

The Outlaws… also know as Grandma and her siblings…

In 1982, it was finally time for the reunion to be held at Grandma’s house in Gridley, California.  We kids were all beside ourselves with excitement… not only were the cousins coming, but extra kids and family members!  Now, if any of you remember my grandfather Bob, he was what you would call a pack rat… well, today we might say hoarder.  Nevertheless, his ‘collections’ were what made exploring out at the farm an ideal paradise for children.   Around every corner a new mystery awaited us as we climbed over old truck beds, under tractor pieces, and through broken peach bins.  Well, I heard many a grumble as many of Grandpa Bob’s ‘collections’ were moved, shuffled or hauled away to clean up the place for visitors!

Mom looking fabulous beside the sign that she painted.

Mom looking fabulous beside the sign that she painted.

Since our family lived nearby, of course we jumped in helping out.  My mom wanted to paint a sign marking the long driveway down to the house, so we racked our brains about what to put on that sign…  we tend to go big in our family, no small paper sign would do!  Mom, found some great old cowboy cartoons that she wanted to incorporate and I remember coming up with the slogan ‘You’re Wright, We’re Todds’.  She easily whipped up our large sign and no doubt Dad & Grandpa Bob hung it up out at the road.

Family hanging out that hot summer weekend...

Family hanging out that hot summer weekend…

 Grandma made arrangements to have some friends trailers brought in to house family that flew in.  I specifically remember her borrowing a camp trailer from Bob & Sandra Waller, some local friends from around the corner here in the Manzanita area.  Many family members brought their own trailers, and it looked like a small trailer park when everyone finally arrived!  Hay bales were brought in to sit on, and tables and chairs from grandma’s church were set up.

Waiting for the outhouse...

Waiting for the outhouse…

I’m not really sure how this tradition began, but Grandma insisted that we needed an outhouse so a couple were built between the house and the barn.  That was a big joke, and many photos were taken by that obligatory outhouse!

Grandma Arlene & Grandpa Bob

Grandma Arlene & Grandpa Bob

More congregating...

More congregating…

I remember loving to listen to the siblings talk… each in their own adorable cadence of accents.  It was so soothing and frankly amusing in my 11 year old mind.  In the evenings they would all gather together and sing in the same fashion that their parents taught them as children, splitting into parts.  Grandma played the old green piano in the living room, some family standing around her, some sitting.  They sang songs that they learned as children, and the old hymns that never get old.  I attempted to read the music and join in, but I never quite got the hang of singing with them.  They had been doing it for their entire lives and it was second nature to them.

The girls...

The girls…  I love James peeking in!

The cousins arrived as usual, and we were a force to be reckoned with…  there are 8 of us used to running wild during the summer visits, but when you add in all of the bonus kids, well it was complete chaos.  Granted most of the new kids were much younger and immature, practically babies in our eyes, and didn’t warrant very much of our attention.  Those of them old enough to participate in our night time hide & seek, and other daily rituals were allowed to participate, and the others we begrudgingly let tag along or no doubt we would get in trouble from our parents.  We were filthy.  We were at full speed.  We were completely content.


Blurry boys on prune bins...

I’m really sad that this is blurry… it captures visiting cousin Mark showing off his guns alongside the regulars…

Loaded up and heading down the driveway to the candy store!

Loaded up and heading down the driveway to the candy store!

Grandpa Bob made sure that we all got to ride in his old tan pick-up truck to the Candy store…  Granted any kid on a bike could pass grandpa at the speed that he drove, but babies tended to roam in the truck bed so they were moved to the front.  Seatbelts were shared, two or three kids per belt.  It was a mile up to the little Manzanita store and back.  Talk about making memories… this was the epitome of childhood joy.

BBQ - where the men gathered...

BBQ – where the men gathered… Nice stache Dad!

A large barbeque was built where the men took turns adding wood, and turning the meat.  They talked about the ‘olden days’ and what was to come.  Looking back at the photos I see a lot of short shorts, plaid shirts & tube socks supervising that fire next to the mimosa tree. 

The masses have arrived...

The masses have arrived…

Calvary Baptist Church

Calvary Baptist Church

Grandma has always been a faithful member of the Calvary Baptist Church in Gridley and on Sunday we all dressed up and attended church with her.  This is a tradition that each visitor has done for as long as I can remember.  I’m pretty sure that church was at full capacity that weekend.  I do remember enjoying listening to them all sing together… and not understanding why Grandma didn’t just sing the melody?  I’m pretty sure that my kids wonder the same thing about me when I sing alto at church!  They will understand one of these days.

The cousins with their parents...  we don't look especially happy!

The cousins with their parents… we don’t look especially happy! Notice our dirty little clothes… he he he…

To this day, when gathered, family members continue to talk about that summer reunion back in ’82…  I think probably because we had such a wonderful turn out!  

In 2007, my husband and I thought that it would be great fun to head out to Arkansas for the reunion to be held that summer…  it was quite a road trip!  We arrived in Mount Ida, Arkansas and fell in love with the beauty of the area!  They had a Dairyette, just like our Gridley Ice Burgie, so we felt right at home!  Grandma flew out to meet us with my aunt and cousin, some other relatives drove down from Ohio, and several family members still lived in the same town!

Game time on the lawn...

Game time on the lawn…

We got to hang out, play games, and eat at yummy restaurants that served biscuits with chocolate gravy!  A lot like when we were kids… but not quite as dirty!

The boys quickly went to work getting dirty!

The boys quickly went to work getting dirty!

I think that it’s pretty incredible some of the traditions that we’ve managed to continue for the past half century… definitely a testament to the commitment to family, near and far. 

Playing in the creek with their new cousins!

My boys playing in the creek with their new cousins!


Sitting around talking...

Sitting around talking…


Grandma with her sister...

Grandma with her sister…

 Now, conveniently, Mike’s family is from a town, quite near where we went… it’s called Waldron, Arkansas, and as we headed back to California we had to make an early morning stop by the sign announcing the town of his father’s family.

Waldron, Arkansas

Waldron, Arkansas



Summertime Memories

One of my cousins shared this pic with me shortly after I wrote this piece...  this would be me (top center) my brothers, and the cousins from the south, all waiting in the back of the tan farm truck where we would ride up to the candy store.

I recently received one of those wonderful junk e-mails about getting to know your friends. You know the one… where you list your favorite soda pop, movie, eye color, etc. etc.  Well this one in particular asked you to list your favorite childhood memory. Now, I have issues (and which of us does not?),  I cannot retain certain memories for very long.  If you give me a start with a couple of details then I can run with it, but to just pop up with a memory, I will just look at you with a blank stare. Pathetic but true. This particular question, however, I did not delay in my response and knew immediately which of my memories would top out all of the others…

Summertime with the cousins.

My grandparents lived on a farm. They raised Berkshire hogs (Grandma says that they weren’t Berkshire but I clearly remember a hat that said ‘Todd Berkshires’ and this is my recollection so I’m standing firm on this one!), and grew peach & prune trees on several acres in the Manzanita area. Each year my cousins from the north, Gerald, Melissa & James, and the cousins from the south Becki & KC would come to visit with their parents. Now I don’t remember if B&K’s parents did this but GM&J’s parents stopped at the road, kicked my darling cousins out and encouraged them to run down the long driveway to Grandma & Grandpa’s green house {remember the matching green piano cousins?}. The arrival of the cousins meant that we would have constant playmates… to run barefooted in the freshly made checks (small mounds made to keep irrigation water in-check and not running everywhere), to share in the gorging of ourselves in the ripe peaches, to pick blackberries for yummy cobblers, or to climb in the broken overloaded prune branches that littered the field (and as many times as they said that the prunes would give us a tummy ache… they never did – crazy parents).  Boy, those were the days…

At night we would play hide and seek in the peach field, screaming and running like little filthy heathens to base. I remember finding an old cow trough out in the barn that we tried to fill and make into a swimming pool, not caring that it was full of cracks and only a couple of feet deep… it was PERFECT at the time. There was a chicken coop under a fig tree, where the chickens laid blue-green eggs and we would race out to see what we could find each day. The pigs were another story… the flies were so bad that they covered the barn walls, and there was a manure ditch for the waste that sort of flowed into the ditch out back… Occasionally a visitor would come for a pig and Grandpa would go out and shoot one so that they could cook it for their celebration. We weren’t supposed to go out there, but we went into stealth mode (as much as several giggling kids can) sneaking close and could hear everything. You had to be careful of the electric fences (and yes, if you touch it with a weed, it WILL shock you), and Aunt Tanya’s drink called Green Lightening, or something like that… whatever it was… it was STRONG stuff and to be avoided (I’m sure that the adults loved it, but my unpolished palate did not… sorry Tanya).

We fit so much into the short time that we visited that I’m frankly shocked that I remember so much! One of the things we did with Grandpa Bob was to go to the Candy Store (which technically was not a Candy Store but a tiny country store around the corner)… He would have us all load up into the back of his old tan truck (In those days kids always piled into the truck bed, what were our parents thinking?) and he’d drive one mile down the road to the Manzanita Market where we would pick out a candy each, and sometimes even get a soda, then we would drive all the way back to the farm. There we would either find a tree to play under or go inside the house to lay on one of Grandma Arlene’s vinyl couches (you got to choose the red or the tan one) in front of the air conditioner. There was an old zenith tv to watch, with a lovely star shaped clock above it right out of the 50’s-60’s. Those were the days!

I love that we built our home next door to that old farm, which holds so many memories for me… Sometimes, in the evenings those wonderful smells of the summer bring me right back to that place in time when life was so blissfully innocent. I think that it’s rather comforting that my children, and my nieces and nephews are able to share now in creating their own memories on the same plot of land, enjoying the same smells of summer in their own way that are sure to be remembered for a lifetime. They run around barefoot, like we did, play hide & seek, like we did and they occasionally get a trip to the Candy Store too! I guess moments like these are timeless! Thank you to whoever sent me that junk e-mail… I needed to take a minute to ponder the past. If any of you cousins have any photos of our adorable selves, send me a copy… I can’t find any good ones!

One of my cousins shared this pic with me shortly after I wrote this piece...  this would be me (top center) my brothers, and the cousins from the south, all waiting in the back of the tan farm truck where we would ride up to the candy store.

One of my cousins shared this pic with me shortly after I wrote this piece… this would be me (top center) my brothers, and the cousins from the south, all waiting in the back of the tan farm truck where we would ride up to the candy store.

This is our candy store about 30 years later.  The owners have done and incredible makeover and this was our first trip to check it out!  I remember that my mom and I had just left the local county fair in 100+ temperatures so please ignore my dumpy hat and pose.  Mom always looks good.  Hate that about her... LOL!

This is our candy store about 30 years later. The owners have done an incredible makeover and this was our first trip to in check it out! I remember that my mom and I had just left the local county fair in 100+ temperatures (blah) so please ignore my dumpy hat and pose. Mom always looks good. Hate that about her… LOL!


My mom just found this pic in my grandmother's albums...  my brother & cousin enjoying our pool.  Love it!

My mom just found this pic in my grandmother’s albums… my brother & cousin enjoying our pool. Love it!


Originally written: Friday, August 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday – Grandma

grandma the arbitrary swoon

grandma the arbitrary swoon

Roadtrip!!!! circa 2008

bison close

Friday, June 20, 2008

On the Road Again…


Last summer we decided to take a road trip to a family reunion in Mount Ida Arkansas, my father’s birthplace. We were excited about getting out on the road, hitting all of the normal highway hot spots. I had planned it all out… we would stop at the Grand Canyon, 4 corners, Cadillac ranch, then hang out at with some friends who had just moved to Texas, and eventually we’d make it to the little cabin in which we were to stay nestled in the Ouachita Mountains. It was a wonderful trip, although I didn’t enjoy sitting in the truck for 10 hours at a time on a few occasions. We managed to touch 12 states in less than two weeks. I took hundreds of photos {none of which have actually been printed out yet}, and relished in the fact that my children were experiencing a once in a lifetime adventure that few children get to participate.
Now fast forward one year… it’s the spring of 2008 and we hear that our brother-n-law Bryan is going to participate in another Iron Man competition in Coeur d’Alene Idaho. Mike & I think, “Fabulous! Another Road Trip!”. I proceed to get on the internet and check out everything from here to there, research all of the places to visit. I order brochures, travel dvd’s and get on mailing lists hoping to hear about the latest and greatest places to stop. I finally narrow things down… we will leave early, stop in Quincy Washington to visit relatives, hit Coeur d’Alene for a few days, and then… since we are in the area we might as well head over to Yellowstone to see all of the natural wonders in that part of the world, and then… you know, since we are already in the area a short jaunt over to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore was not really out of the question… so of course I booked it!
Now… last summer we traveled light… just the truck and the family. This summer… things would be different… we had bought a HUGE 31 foot camp trailer so instead of reserving at a cushy hotel that left us chocolates on our pillows we were looking at RV Resorts {as they are called now – apparently no one calls them RV parks anymore… la dee dah!}. I have come to find out RV Resorts are no small business… not only do they all have pools, internet & cable tv, but some of them even have huge waterslides to attract families {we plan on frequenting one of them in South Dakota in a few days… it was my obligation as a good mother to let my children try one out}. Anyway, things were also going to be different this year because of an addition to the family, our keeshond puppy Shasta was going to be coming along.
In my mind I had everything worked out, how fun it would all be… an opportunity for the entire family to see all of the incredible sights of the north western states… I had however forgotten one little detail that seemed quite small at the time but turned out to be quite large as our vacation plans proceeded… it turns out that my children don’t like road trips. It apparently ruins their summer vacation. {gasp} At this point in their lives they have no interest driving for hours at a time to stop for 5 minutes at a roadside attraction and then drive on… What in the world was wrong with them? Why… those… little ungrateful turkeys! Didn’t they have any idea how lucky they were that their parents wanted to travel with them and that we could afford gazillion dollars per gallon fuel prices. I apparently had failed as a parent creating two boys that could care less that Old Faithful was going to blow every 90 minutes! I quickly got over my anguish of a doomed trip and decided they were going and they would like it! They would surely appreciate all of our attempts at exposing them to new and interesting sights in the future… much later in the future, like perhaps when they have their own children, but nevertheless that day will eventually come. And then… I will bask in the glory of the unwanted road trip that we forced them to go on.
Now fast forward a bit more to this very morning… I sit here in a lovely RV resort, on the banks of the Coeur d’Alene lake (I didn’t think to research what it’s name was!), typing on our laptop, internet signal strong, listening to the sounds of camp around me. The boys & Mike are asleep… the dog finally is back to sleep… but not me. The sun apparently comes up at around 4:30 in the morning this far north and my little internal clock says that it’s time to wake when the world gets light. So for… oh… about 4 days in a row, I’ve waken up early to take the dog out (his internal clock gets up with the sun too), and haven’t been able to get back to sleep. I WILL enjoy this trip though… sleep deprived and a bit grumpy… my back hurts from the crummy trailer bed, and my feet hurt from living in flip flops for the past week. I will go on… because heaven forbid I go over to the dark side with my children and join the ‘ANTI-ROAD TRIP’ club. Send me “happy” thoughts & prayers.
Another note… I have always prided in my ability to take great photos… I don’t think about it I just see it and take it. Apparently my gift is fading because I have not taken a single great photo in the few days that we have been on the road! I have had more beautifully scenery around me within these few days than I have … well since our last road trip! Surely it’s the camera getting old. I’ll post a few pics though… and promise to make an concentrated effort to resume to my normal fabulous photography today. HA HA HA! The photo at the top of the page is our rig… lucky my husband is a truck driver and can drive it like a breeze…

Vista point in Washington that points out the various mountain peaks
Hayden cares not about lovely mountains… and opts to skate near the street.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ironman Coeur d’Alene

Well yesterday was the Ironman… an incredible race that requires the participant (around 2200 men & women at this particular event) to swim 2.4 miles (this massive start of the swim is also called the ‘washing machine’, and as you might imagine Bryan was a bit overwhelmed as he started in the second row). He finished the swim in 1:13:04. The photos show the participants in pink & blue caps ready to begin… and then as they progress into the water. Needless to say, we could not find his blue cap in midst of the masses.

After the swim in 59 degree water, the participants run out of the water, change and then grab their bikes and proceed to bike… oh about 112 miles. AHHHHHH.  {Are they crazy?  LOL}

Bryan managed to bike the course in 5:41:02 averagine 19.07 mph. At the end of the bike ride, he was ranked 373 overall (non-professionals), and his division position was 95 (he is in the largest age division) so he did great! After the bike the participants finished the bike ride, they came in, changed and begin the marathon run of 26.2 miles.

Finishing the running portion 4:20:43 he finished the entire race in a total of 11:25:48 ranking 373 and finishing 95 in his division… not bad for a Chico boy. Good job Bryan.

After the race, all the participates go the the recovery station… some need more medical attention than others. This is Mike holding Casey, with Jenny & Bryan (Casey’s parents).

Overall a great day. Here’s a quick family pic…. more photos to come.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Yellowstone… FABULOUS!

Yea! We finally made it to West Yellowstone, Montana! The drive wasn’t so very bad because the scenery in Montana is incredible! So our plan was to spend two days here but we decided to do the entire park in one day… all day today. Thanks to Shasta waking us up early once again, we got an early start, bought our yearly pass to the National Park system and were off like a herd of turtles (as my sister-n-law Lauren likes to say). There were animals everywhere and after awhile I actually stopped taking photos of the bison or buffalo as I would call them because they are around every corner! Here’s a photo of one in particular that decided to pass by our little walkway which completely freaked me out & I was screaming (quietly of course for the fear of the big guy deciding to charge at us just like the park brochure claims they do) at Mike to turn the boys around and he completely ignores my little panic attack and patiently waits for the buffalo to pass and then we proceed like it was some poodle crossing the road. NUTS!

We also saw several wild goats, elk, a couple of black bears, a fox and an eagle in her nest. It was rather incredible! The scenery was so different from one corner of the park to the other! There are miles of lovely grassy pastures, rocky mountains and sadly miles of park that were previously ravaged by a fire… the forest shows new growth but haunting upright trees remain, bleached and dead. The massive cliffs, valleys and rivers varied throughout the entire drive and fun little mineral pools were bubbling up everywhere shooting steam into the sky. The only way things could have been better were if we were in a convertible little car. Check these photos out…


Hayden checks out the topography of a burned out section of the park.

Above are the boys of course posing for the camera with yet another picture perfect view behind them.

We slipped into the Old Faithful parking lot… walked over to where everyone was standing around and not 5 minutes later she blew! Hows that for timing? Here’s a quick pic!

This was Shasta’s favorite spot… typically a cold weather breed (Keeshond), we pulled over to play in the snow while going over the pass & Shasta went nuts! He dug his nose into the snow, and crunched on it like it was the Gridley Burgie crushed ice (locals understand completely). Poor thing, I hate to tell him he’s stuck with summers in the 100’s and winters just cold and wet. In this photo he’s got his eyes on a snowball that Koltin threw up for him to catch.

So I took about 200 photos and feel like we saw as much of the park as one can in one day. We were supposed to stay tomorrow but have gotten the itch to move on and are leaving for Cody, Wyoming in the morning, just for fun. More photos to come!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Home at last! Home at last!

Yea! We made it home! I lost my computer cord somewhere around Cody, WY, thus the lack of posts. We are so glad that our vacation is over! How sad is that? You hear about folks needing a vacation to recoop from their vacation and that’s where I am right now. It’s taken me all week to get caught up with the business items, i.e. billing, payroll, taxes, bills etc. etc. and my house is getting in order (thanks only to Lorna who helps me clean it). Notice I didn’t mention that our trailer is anywhere near being in order… if the kids can’t find something I just say “Check the trailer” due to the fact that it sits in our drive way in pretty much the same state as it was when we got home on the 3rd… Clothes everywhere, food still in the cabinets, camp equipment lodged in, everything sits waiting for me to have a few moments to unpack. I did however, remove Shasta’s crate and put it in it’s proper place in the laundry room in hopes that once in his old domain the barking and other annoying habits of practice during our trip would eventually fade away. I am happy to say that I was able to sleep in to almost 9 this morning without a peep from him. Thank you Lord!

On the subject of dear Shasta… he did however give me a couple of black eyes and possibly broke my nose this week! Gotta love this dog! Things just keep getting better & better with him! I came home Tuesday night from a meeting at church and immediately set my things down, excitingly asking Shasta if he wanted to go outside… needless to say that he was a bit pumped up at my enthusiastic arrival, he began jumping… and as I leaned over to pick up his leash his head came up under the tip of my nose jamming it into my brain. I’m pretty sure it hit my brain because the pain caused a complete loss of usage, and my only intelligent thought process after hearing a click was to scream “Oh my Gosh” about 6 times (such drama) as I felt my nose swell on both sides. So now I sit, my nose a lovely cast of yellow, swollen, and two dainty little purple smudges under my eyes… Not pretty… And it hurts to laugh or show any facial emotion… It better heal fast because VBS starts next Monday & I will appear a bit spooky onstage singing & dancing looking like I got beat up in a fight. So… I’m almost over it.

Okay so I have a few more photos from our trip… I didn’t mention that my cousin Becky had joined us in Custer, SD… that poor girl witnessed my family in it’s full crankiness and frankly I’m amazed that she didn’t run off in the middle of the night screaming (her bunk was over our barking Shasta… I’m sure only adding to the experience)… I might have if I had a car. Mike kept freaking out over the phone service, Koltin entertained about 200 people at Mt. Rushmore with a fit that lasted the entire hike around the faces… I did enjoy her selfishly… it was wonderful to have another female to talk & shop with! She handled us well. My kids were also impressed with the fact that she jumped right in when it came to taking funny nose picking photos & sliding down the waterslide.

No disrespect to Crazy Horse, but it was fun! The indian photo below was taken in Cody, WY at the Erma Hotel, and of course Hayden spotted a skate park in Custer, SD and had to do ‘his thang’…

I have several more photos but I’m saving them for the Christmas card… ha ha ha!