Chasing Turkeys

A few months ago, we went on a family outing to check our freshly sprouted corn fields and ended up chasing wild turkeys instead.  There are an abundance of wild turkeys around here every spring and Mr. Rancher has a knack for gobbling just perfectly so the toms will gobble back to him.  We all got a kick out of the gobbling match our guy got into with the toms.

And if this isn’t the best family picture we’ve ever taken, I don’t know what is.  Everyone is looking, three out of four smiling real, happy smiles, and the fourth isn’t crying.

IMG_5621

There’s the big tom, all fanned out.

IMG_5632

 

Advertisements

Reading Aloud

Update: My mom called to correct my memory.  Apparently I was 4 or 5 when I got my first library card.  Once we learned to tie our shoes, my mom took me and my siblings in to get our own library cards.  This very grown-up card was our reward for learning a life skill.  This is a perfect example of using books/reading/positive characteristics as a reward for good behavior.  Sometimes the reward of behaving well is the good behavior itself, but sometimes we as parents have to come up with more material sorts of rewards.  Books, library visits, personal library cards for little people can all be great ways to reinforce both good behavior and the importance of reading with our children.  Thanks, Mom, for your awesome example!

 

In case you didn’t know, though I am nearly 100% positive that most of you do know, I am one of those crazy people who homeschools their children.

 

 

Have I lost you yet?  Probably not since most of you are family and stuck with me anyways!  So to re-cap, I am homeschooling my kiddos and since they are not school-age yet most of the schooling around here centers on reading aloud.  Two of my very favorite things lately include the Read Aloud Revival podcast/all things Sarah Makenzie and this book by Jim Trelease.

IMG_5599

I grew up in a family of readers and my parents read aloud to me and my siblings regularly when we were little.  I had a library card from the time I was 7 or 8 years old and my siblings and I always participated in the summer reading program. I read voraciously through elementary school (I had the most AR points by a long ways, I don’t remember exactly how much but I’m guessing about 200 or so ahead of the next high reader) and middle school but slowed down in high school due to extracurriculars and high school classes plus college classes and the textbooks that come with them.  My undergraduate degree in Family Life and Human Development taught me the importance of reading to children and the statistics reflecting the higher academic achievement of children who are read to from birth to age 5.  When Henley was born I started reading simple board books to her and we began attending storytime when she was 13 months old.  My own life experiences with reading and books and the evidence of advancement (large vocabulary, understanding complex ideas, speaking in complete sentences, creative storytelling) I have seen in my own child already set me up to value reading aloud to children.

Then I stumbled upon the Read Aloud Revival Podcast.  The host, Sarah Makenzie, interviews writers, illustrators, educators, and social scientists weekly about strategies and benefits of reading aloud to children.  She has a free booklist with suggestions of books that are especially lovely to read out loud (over and over again since young children like repetition).  Sarah also has a book called The Read Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids through Books which compiles the information from the podcast and blog into one easy to read and reference format.  I love Sarah’s take on homeschooling, parenting, and life.  And I love that she introduced me to Jim Trelease’s Read Aloud Handbook.

Jim Trelease compiles and explains the research and benefits behind reading out loud to children, long after then can read themselves, and makes the case for reading aloud as the single-most important thing our nation, our communities, our families can do to raise test scores and, more importantly, raise education and character in our youth.  If I wasn’t already a believer in reading, and reading out loud specifically, the work of Sarah and Jim most certainly would have converted me.

Scenes like this make my heart so happy.

IMG_5600

Babies, very young babies, can learn to love and enjoy books and being read to, if only we will take the time and patience to do so.  Don’t worry about ripped pages, squirmy little humans, or constant interruptions.  All of these things are good and demonstrate a connection the child is making with the book.

IMG_5601

Another author I admire greatly Susan Wise Bauer stated “a few ripped pages are a small price for literacy,” in her book The Well-Trained Mind.

IMG_5602

I can’t agree more with this statement.  Reading aloud is a central part of the education going on in my home, actually its a central part of the home itself.  In our family, we read books together, in our home we read books together.  It’s part of who we are.

A like-minded friend, Dani, and I have started a storytime for children 0-3 years old at our local library.  We have tried to provide a fun, entertaining, and delightful experience to the families who have attended, and we’ve tried to educate parents on the importance of sharing stories with their kids and a few tips and tricks for doing so with young children.  It’s been such a fun and challenging experience to plan these storytimes and I have loved the creative outlet which allows me to share knowledge on a subject I am passionate about.

I highly recommend the work of Sarah Makenzie and Jim Trelease, local librarians and storytime programs, and reading aloud to your kids (even if they can read to themselves).

 

And thanks for letting me get down in writing that I am, in fact, a homeschooling mama.  They say the first step to overcoming addiction (or stress, I’m going to take the liberty of adding) is admitting you have a problem.  I have the problem of chronic over-scheduling and over-reaching and here I am admitting that I plan to take the entirety of my children’s education upon my own two shoulders.  With a lot of grace (and some very wonderful books, mentors, and extracurriculars) I think we’ll make it through all right.

Checking Calves and Fields

One Sunday this Winter/Spring, we spent the morning feeding cows and checking for new baby calves with Mr. Rancher.  That is one of the only scheduling perks I have found for church starting at 1 PM.  After feeding, we took the four-wheeler up on the hill to look for new babies.  This little cutie was settled in a sagebrush nest just across the ditch.

IMG_5416

What a unique and darling face this little calf has.  Henley was in love the moment she saw the calf, her love grew even more when the calf was content to lay their and be petted by the three-year-old cowgirl.

IMG_5417

IMG_5419

I’m in love with the markings on this baby!IMG_5421

This calf was oddly friendly for a newborn range calf, he walked right up to Mr. Rancher to meet Becca.IMG_5425

Moments like these make me fall in love with Mr. Rancher all over again.  Not only is he the calf whisperer, but he’s including our little munchkins in the excitement and teaching them how to handle animals.  He’s also genuinely enjoyed meeting the newest baby and scratching its chin.  The passion Ty feels for caring for this bovine creatures is written all over his face.IMG_5429

After caring for the livestock we took a drive out Crane Creek to check on our fields of triticale.  Miss Becca took a nice long nap.IMG_5435

Henley chatted with us, ate graham crackers, and kept everyone smiling.  Bo let his hair blow in the breeze and kept a close eye on Mr. Rancher.IMG_5438

If you look closely you can see the slight green hue the field was turning.  IMG_5444

I’m always impressed when Ty feels the dirt, hay, oats, etc. and makes judgment calls about harvest readiness, irrigation needs, or predicts growth rates.  Farming is much more than simply plant, water, harvest, sell.  It’s an art as much as a science and all the farmers I know (trust me I know quite a few) take pride in their work as an art form not just as a business venture.  Farming is a way to make money, but its actually a way to lose incredible amounts of money very easily.  Farming isn’t about the money, though that certainly is important, it’s about the lifestyle, about the artistry of working with the earth and weather to harvest bounty against all odds, to tame and nourish ground that used to be barren, devoid of sustenance, and cultivate it into productive land.

IMG_5445

I also always notice Ty’s inability to take his eyes off the crops/fields/cows until absolutely necessary.  He’s always on the watch while walking or driving by fields.

IMG_5448

And he doesn’t look away until he absolutely has to.IMG_5450

Driving with him, may or may not, be a tad terrifying at times.

Summer Days

Ohhhhh summer.  Long, hot days with so much potential for fun.  This summer has been our best yet, what with two wonderful kids who are finally starting to play together (hallelujah! hallelujah! hallelujah!), round two of farming/ranching in the same location, and five years of marital bliss (at least more bliss than contention!) under our belts.

Here’s a look at our summer so far.  My mom gave us the very best gift, water toys!  The girls play with them every single day.img_5852-1

Henley waiting for me to get Becca down for her nap, so I can read and cuddle with her.  She’s been making her own bed and folding her own clothes this summer…it’s a work in progress.img_5849

Brushing her own teeth (this picture is for you Mary) and post-bath curls.  These are the very best curls and thanks to our bathing schedule they only come out an hour before bedtime.img_5845

Curls, curls, everywhere.  I’m even starting to see some waves and curls in Miss Becca’s hair.img_5848

My serious, opinionated, daring and determined second-born.img_5796

She likes to scale the slide backwards, turn around, sit down, and slide.  Then repeat.  This picture was taken earlier this summer, closer to ten months of age.  Now she’s walking everywhere, almost a big one-year-old, and even more determined to do what SHE wants, when SHE wants to do it, and how SHE wants to do it.img_5790img_5787img_5781

Building fairy houses and eating sticks.  It’s about balance.img_5783

Our two kitties blessed us with eight, yes EIGHT, kittens right at the same time.  img_5779

We’ve been able to pawn off five of the balls of fluff so far and are enjoying the remaining three.  Anybody want a kitten?  I can promise they will be good mousers, their mamas bring in at least three mice a day!img_5778

This umbrella has been used for everything from boating to housing this summer.img_5751-1

Hee hee…when sisters do your hair…img_5764

They built this fort all by themselves while I was on the phone with my mom.img_5766img_5776

I guess they kinda like each other.  Makes my heart happy.

Outdoor Art

“I’m going outside to paint all the colors of grass.”

IMG_5807

“I’ll mix this one with this one…”

IMG_5808

“Oopsey daisy, got some on my dress.”

IMG_5809

You all spy on your children and eavesdrop on their talking-to-themselves conversations too?  Glad I’m in good company.

Here’s the finished painting, I’m going to call it “All the colors of grass ended up on my dress.”

img_0205

Branding 2018

Branding the calves is always a great time of year.  There’s the mounted help, the ropers, the cowboys.dsc_0634

Annnnnnd there’s the ground crew.  That is, in fact, me wielding the branding iron.  This year I succumbed to the pressure to learn a job a swore I would never do, brand the calves with a searing hot iron.  Don’t get me wrong, I know it has to be done, I just don’t want to be the one doing it.  There’s something almost artistic in the way different ranchers approach branding their cattle, how they walk up, take their stance, angle the iron just perfectly, and press down, hold for a count, then lift up to inspect the job.  I am sure this year’s batch of calves are sporting the ugliest, most sloppy brands of any we’ve every raised.

dsc_0652

When I mentioned the act of branding as a form of artistic display, Mr. Rancher replied that ear-marking was actually more of an art.  Strange to think of any sort of animal husbandry as artistic or creative…only truly amateur connoisseurs of art (such as myself) would think so.  Or perhaps I’m improving my ability to find beauty and grace whatever the situation around me, I’ll let you decide.

Either way, I really don’t want to learn ear-marking.  Which is why I will never voluntarily or intentionally carry a pocket-knife to a branding.

dsc_0637

As you can see, our ground crew this year consisted of Mr. Rancher and a bunch of women/girls/babies.  My niece Megan was the best innoculator this side of the Rockies and asked a million questions about the cows and calves.  She’s fascinated with animals and a hard worker making her a pro-branding-hand.  My sis-in-law Lexcie, my branding bud for life, stepped in to help any way she was needed.  She’s a peach and always will be in my book.

Say what you will about equality of the sexes, females simply are not equipped to throw steers and heifers to the ground in the same effortless way males are.  Point of fact, I had to throw down many of our calves (another first time experience) and I was dog-tired by the end of the day, not to mention much slower and clumsier than my husband at the work.  Most of the time, Lexcie and I had to both work the calf together in order to get it secured on the ground, while Mr. Rancher handled even the largest ones all on his own.  True, my hubby is a manly-man and tough-as-nails and super-strong and a-really-hard-worker and all that masculine jazz, but you know what?  Lexcie and I are pretty tough too, and we still couldn’t keep up.  Next year, I’m advocating for more men on the ground crew!dsc_0643

Miss Becca was a champion branding-buddy for 3.67 minutes.  About as long as it takes to snap two photos in the melee of the branding pen.

Don’t I look like such a bad*** ranch mama?  It’s all a show, folks.  All a show.  This blog, though based on our real life, only shows snippets and snapshots, not the whole picture.  The reality is that my gracious sister spent most of the day caring for my baby and pre-schooler while I worked with Mr. Rancher.  There is simply no way I could have done both and I’m so grateful my sister was there to fill the gap.  She’s a good sport and a generous soul.dsc_0638

Here’s the kid-crew.  These monsters I mean munchkins had a grand day of exploring, playing, and even fighting.

dsc_0669

My curly locks and cousin Cambree (in the red shirt) had a knock-down-drag-out-fist-fight over a football.  Neither girl was seriously injured, neither girl ended up crying, and neither girl was ready to stop the brawl until Grandma pulled the two apart.  Tough cookies that simply don’t have an ounce of “give-up” between their two little bodies.  They’re really the best of friends…and maybe it’s healthy to have a sparring buddy…ya know, to get rid of pent up aggression in a healthy, supervised manner…maybe???

dsc_0666

At the end of the day, branding brings together so many people and requires input from everyone to get the job done.  Cowboys to rope, ground crew to brand, camera crew (Thanks, Liz!) to capture the memories, kids to entertain and teach, family to cook, help, care for kids, rancher to make the whole thing happen, and so on and on.

I sure do love my crew, cowboys, ropers, ground-workers, Mr. Rancher, sisters, munchkins, cousins, in-laws and all.  Don’t know what I’d do without ’em.

New Year (title from Jan. 2016)

Maybe I should clean out the drafts box on my blog more often.  Lookie what I found today that just gave my heart a chuckle.

It’s a new year and Henley is sleeping through the night!!!

I repeat: She is sleeping through the night!

It is such a wonderful feeling to get a good night of peaceful, restful sleep for the first time in thirteen months.   She is also starting to talk a bit more.  She’ll say no-no-no all day long, mainly because she does things she shouldn’t all day long.  On the upside of all the “no’s” and tantrums, Miss Henley has also started giving and blowing kisses.  Even while we are feeding the cows, she’ll lean up against the tractor window and send kisses to her dad while he flakes the hay off the wagon.

Winter is always slow and even a tad boring for ranchers.  Ty feeds the cows every day but that only takes a few hours and then there’s the rest of the fog-filled, cold day ahead…

Clearly, I trailed off elsewhere in my thoughts and never got around to completing this blog, but what a precious reminder of Miss Henley’s baby days.  Miss Henley had not once slept through the night before this post that was written January 2016 when she was 13 months old.  And the “no-no-no-no” chorus!  How could I forget that???  We’re heading down that same track with the alarming speed of a freight train as Miss Becca starts talking more and more and doing more and more things she shouldn’t.  Like throwing the yogurt carton out of the shopping cart causing it to crack and yogurt to splatter all over the grocery store floor…

Just as Baby Henley sweetened her attitude and willfulness with baby kisses, Miss Becca’s serious yet impish personality adds a touch of humor and wonder to her naughtiness that is irresistibly funny and exasperating at the same time.  Gotta love these girls.

I’m mentally preparing myself for the next  verse of the “no-no-no-no” chorus.

Daily Life

Just catching up on sharing some pictures over here…don’t mind me.  These girls keep me so occupied!  I was about to type “busy” but since reading a great book…I believe the title is Real Moms: Making it up as we go along (forgive me for not getting off the couch to make sure)…in which the author discusses the fallacy of busyness especially for mothers, I’m trying to avoid saying “I’m just so busy!”  Not that I’m not busy, because believe me I am (what with two kids, a business, graduate school, church, a house, a yard, ten cats, one dog, riding lessons, family, friends, etc.) but so is everyone else, and I am working on owning my decisions and allowing myself to be happy with what I’ve decided rather than just busy. 

Lately, Henley has been making huge strides in her development.  As you can see, she is mastering more and more penmanship skills.  She can now write O’s, 6’s, C’s, and B’s (which aren’t pictured).  And she’s been doing this without any instruction from me.  Self-directed learning makes me a happy mama.  Thankfully, she still wakes up after every night and nap with a lion’s mane of hair which reminds me she’s still my little-love.

We’ve been having regular tea parties with our gorgeous, china tea set.  We have tried milk with graham crackers, hot chocolate with cinnamon toast, and peach tea with buttered toast.  We’re not big fans of the tea…but the party is simply delightful.  Miss Becca has also made great strides in her development.  She’s mastered the art of horseback riding, so long as she’s on this tiny rocking horse.  What’s more, she’s perfected the art of unloading each and every piece of clean clothing from either the drawer, dryer, or laundry basket and depositing it on the floor.  Helpful little girl.

Sunday Shenanigans

Sundays aren’t always good days at our house.  We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, LDS or Mormon church, and one thing we are working on as a church collectively and also as an individual family is keeping the Sabbath holy.  Basically this means recommitting to worship, family, service, and rest on Sunday.  It can be very hard to resist the urge to clean, catch up on book-keeping, work in the yard, or various other chores that need to be done.  Also, our cows and farm ground always seems to need extra attention on Sundays, something we are working on with more pro-active planning.  Our kids also tend to turn into emotional monsters on Sunday.  It’s also tremendously and ridiculously difficult to take a 3 1/2 year old and a 10 month old to THREE hours of church.

However, as we’ve tried (and failed oh so many times) to improve our Sundays, little by little we have made some progress.  And I think I’m starting to look forward to Sundays rather than dread them…

Sometimes we fail at Sabbath day observance, but sometimes we build tents out of sheets and pretend we’re camping on a beach before getting dressed for church.IMG_5529.jpg

Sometimes we take mommy-daughter selfies to document the real changes that are happening to make at least one of my kids look a little more like me!IMG_5540.jpg

Sometimes we all work together to have a fun and relaxing imaginary experience.IMG_5543.jpg

Sometimes we practice including others in the game, even little babies who don’t know how to play “right.”IMG_5562.jpgIMG_5565.jpg

Sometimes Mr. Rancher and I take some time to snuggle on a twin-size bed, tormenting and teasing our daughter that we’re stealing her room, blankets and all.  Sometimes we even plan our week in advance while pretending to be blanket pirates.IMG_5570.jpg

Sometimes we all cram onto a twin-size bed to take a family selfie.IMG_5575.jpgIMG_5578.jpg

Sometimes we build kites out of trash bags, sticks, ribbon, and tape and fly a kite before church.IMG_5595.jpg

Sometimes we enjoy the many hours we have before going to church at 1 PM.  I wish most of our Sundays were this fun-filled and rejuvenating.  I tend to whine and complain about the awful church schedule we have right now–1 PM to 4PM, which really means 12:30 to 4:30, which is so so awful for kids who usually sleep from noon to 3–rather than appreciate the time we have to playing, connecting, resting, and serving before church worship.  I can honestly say we are doing better with Sundays, but we still have a long ways to go.  I appreciate the lesson of resting and changing our focus for one day each week.  I know that when I’ve done Sunday right and tried to serve others, spend unconditional and unscheduled time with my family, worship and meditate and study, and simply rest from life’s daily demands, I am more effective during the upcoming week and the people around me feel loved and fulfilled.

Sundays are a gift.  A gift we really have to unwrap and dive into before we can appreciate its true worth.  In fact, if we don’t really dive into it, we can view this gift as more of a curse than a blessing (i.e. more to add to the to-do list, more requirements to be met) but that’s our own fault for only partially opening the gift the Lord has given us.

Utah Trip

One challenge of raising beef cattle, or any livestock/agricultural product, is that you are tied to the cows, fields, pivots, tractors, basically the dirt you live on every day of your life.  This makes travel of any sort tricky and virtually non-existent.  However, occasionally the stars will align, there will be a pressing need to travel somewhere (i.e. a sibling’s wedding), the fields will be planted, irrigation not begun yet, the cows are all in the pastures they’re meant to be in (this is a joke!), and a rancher can go on a family vacation for a few days.  Such an event occurred just two weeks ago for my family and it was so delightfully wonderful!

We drove from our home through Southern Idaho and Northern Utah and stopped at many of the parks and sites along the way to Ty’s brother Tanner’s wedding.  Any of you familiar with the area might say there’s nothing to see along that drive, but with the use of many back-highways and the need to stop every 90 minutes for the sake of two small kiddos, I beg to differ.  Since school is starting again and spring is a notoriously busy time of year for my life, the pictures and story of our trip are in reverse order…and I’m too lazy to reverse it.  Enjoy!

Here are my girls on Saturday night, home and happy to be watching the familiar “Pinkalicious” show for a few minutes before bedtime.  Both were so relieved to be unbuckled from their carseats and given free-reign over their toys at last.

IMG_0177.jpg

Our second-to-last stop on Saturday was at the City of Rocks National Park.  What an amazing place!  The rocks are breathtaking, everywhere you look there is another huge formation jutting out from its otherwise flat surroundings.  We went on a mini-nature walk (I can’t call it a hike really) around Bathtub Rock and did a little amateur rock climbing.

Becca had a great view atop Mr. Rancher’s shoulders.  This guy is such a fun-loving and adventurous dad!  Just one of the many things I love about him.IMG_2079.jpg

We even let Miss Becca climb around the base of the rocks.  Honestly, she is probably the strongest out of all of us given how much time she spends crawling and climbing everywhere.  If she was a bit more balanced, she could’ve climbed the whole thing without even breaking a sweat.  I however, would have been breaking a sweat watching her do it.IMG_2074.jpg

“I got this, Mom.  Chill out.”IMG_2070.jpg

IMG_5740.jpg

I can’t chill out!  Becca wanted to go anywhere she could and did get frustrated with my ever-present hands ready to catch her.  Henley only stayed with us for a minute before climbing with her dad.IMG_5741.jpg

She’s a real rock climber!IMG_2065.jpg

We were so lucky to have cousins with us on this trip.  Jake and Tina and their kids came down for the wedding and we got to spend lots of time playing at the Lodge where we stayed and playing at the various stops on the way back.IMG_2064.jpg

Miss Independence loved having the older kids to play with and loved playing at the City of Rocks.  IMG_2060.jpg

Here you see our vantage point from the top of Bathtub Rock.  Mr. Rancher, me, Jake, Lexcie, Trayce, and Joely made the scary (though definitely amateur) climb to the top to see the natural bathtub formed in the top of these rocks.  IMG_2057.jpgIMG_2056.jpg

I’ll admit, my head was spinning from the top of the rocks.  I’ve never been afraid of heights or nervous about things like climbing rock walls or roller-coasters, but there must be something about having two kids that messes with my sense of balance, invincibility, and nerves overall.  IMG_2055.jpg

The view was awesome, but I wasn’t sorry to climb back down.  Unfortunately, there was a troop of Boy Scouts waiting for us to get out of the way so they could climb up and I had an audience to watch my less-than-graceful descent from the start of the climb which was a makeshift re-bar ladder several feet off the base of the rock.  I couldn’t seem to find a place to plant my foot as the ladder ended and did a nice belly-slide down the front of the rock.  Graceful.

Ty stayed on top much longer and said “Take one last picture of me, just in case.”  Gee thanks, honey.  He’s too much of a daredevil for me sometimes.  He wanted to bring Henley up with us, but I put my foot down there.  That doesn’t happen too often, but the steep climb and possibility of falling hundreds of feet to, at the very least, a set of broken bones. IMG_2054.jpg

Wonderful Aunt Lexcie! She was so much fun on this trip, helping with the kids and showing us the best places to go.IMG_2052.jpg

We made it! IMG_2051.jpg

In an effort to document Mr. Rancher and me, rather than just Mr. Rancher and the kids, I took many more selfies this trip than usual.  Going through my blog, I realized that I don’t have many pictures of my husband and me, so I’m trying to be better about getting in the picture myself and to take photos of my marriage along with my family.IMG_2040.jpg

Henley loved spending so much time with Aunt Lexcie on this trip.  They even shared a bed at the lodge.  On our way home Henley let out a big sigh and said, “oh it’s so sad! Lexcie doesn’t get to sleep with me tonight!”  I’m Lexcie slept just fine without a three year old’s knees in her back.

IMG_5739.jpg

Friday was the day of the wedding.  Here we are, all dressed up and ready to head to the temple.  IMG_5742.jpg

This is Miss Becca, aka the sumo wrestler, just before getting into her very beautiful but very restrictive dress.  Joely was the best babysitter and actually had to be grounded from holding Becca so that the baby could have a crawling break. IMG_2033.jpg

This was Thursday night, just before bed.  These three were trying to watch Leap for probably the third time.  I don’t think they ever finished it since they insisted on starting from the beginning each time they sat down to watch it.IMG_5736.jpg

We spent Thursday in Salt Lake City at Hogle Zoo and Temple Square.  This is a photo of us driving back to the lodge after a long day of site-seeing and walking…IMG_2031.jpg

One of my favorite things about Salt Lake City is this Christus.  It is amazing how large, beautiful, and majestic our Savior looks up close.  Henley thought it was amazing for about five minutes then was ready for the next adventure.  IMG_5730.jpg

Our token family photo before leaving the zoo for the day.IMG_5726.jpg

Another selfie…with my honey.IMG_5723.jpg

The polar bears put on such a great show! They dove and swam all around their enclosure.  IMG_5721.jpg

You can’t tell by this picture, but Becca thought we needed to bring the polar bears home with us for her entertainment.IMG_5718.jpg

Lazy lions sleeping in the sun.  All the big cats were too sleepy to be very interesting.IMG_2029.jpg

This is a snapshot from our drive down to the zoo.  In hopes of playing in the splash pad with Henley, Mr. Rancher wore a tee-shirt and swim trunks to the zoo.  He acts like a complete nitwit when he wears tees and shorts and this time was no different.  He chewed fourteen pieces of grape-flavored gum the whole two hour drive and repeatedly blew bubbles the size of soccer balls.  It’s so clear to me why he almost always wears button-down shirts and jeans…he needs the clothes to make him act like a sensible adult!IMG_5709.jpg

Catching a nap on the way down.  Didn’t look comfortable then and doesn’t look comfortable now.IMG_5706.jpg

These last pictures are from our very first stop of the entire trip in Twin Falls, ID.  We were lucky enough to see ten base-jumpers jump and land from the bridge over the Snake River.  It was so scary to watch!  I will never be participating in that activity.IMG_5692.jpgIMG_5685.jpgIMG_5684.jpgIMG_5683.jpg

Overall, our trip was so much fun!  It was a much needed and overdue break from the routine of our daily life.  We were happy to get home and back to normal, but so grateful for the break and the chance to just play for a few days.