Saturday, February 28, 2009

People Pictures

Because my insatiably curious sister has to have hard evidence that we have not evolved unrecognizably in the two months we've been here:


Although Edee's face is getting a little thinner, I think:



But her legs aren't. (Thank heavens! What would I SQUEEEEEZE?):



Uh-oh. Somebody's sad because somebody else ate his SweetTarts.



I wonder who it could've been?




Meanwhile, this one has lost a tooth (but he fervently assures us it was not his sweet one):


 (And if you can believe it, after days and days of wiggling and pulling and twisting it with his tongue, this tooth had the nerve to fall out while he was . . . asleep.)


But this guy has got some teeth (two, in fact):



Oh, let's see that smile.



Very nice. I just want to hug you all over!



Happy now? We are all here and all recognizable. Not always photogenic, but recognizable.



The End.



Friday, February 27, 2009

Because we finally found the camera cord . . .

Our side yard:






And just for fun, the view from the car dealership where we had new keys made for the ones we lost. That's the Sleeping Giant in the background (the mountains):


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Race to the Sky

Mondays are Ethan's "day off." The traditional Saturday is just too busy, him putting finishing touches on his sermon and creating/reviewing the Sunday School lesson and us getting food ready and the house cleaned in case we have Sunday guests. So Mondays we try to get out and explore this new state of ours.


This past Monday, we headed over to the local Goodwill for their 50% off sale in honor of President's Day. We picked up a few items and then decided to head to Lincoln, Montana. The annual Race to the Sky  (which has one of the most mountainous trails in distance mushing -- that is, sled dog racing) was scheduled for February 13-18, and I thought I had seen something about some finishers coming in on Monday. So we fueled up with yogurtccinos and shaken green teas at a local coffee shop and headed for Lincoln.


Ben (7) and Lily (5) were excited, as a little over a year ago we attended an event in Virginia where musher Doug Ruzicka from Alaska brought one of his sled dog pups and his sled and gave an outstanding presentation to the homeschoolers.


A little over an hour later, we were there, at the Hi-Country Trading Post. The snow was much deeper there than here (which makes sense, I guess, if you are going to hold a SLED dog race), and we cheered up at the sight of the finish line. Despite our not checking our facts, we had arrived at the right place! We saw people gathered in chairs and warm blankets at the finish line, and one of them told us that the first musher had come in, but the next one was expected between 12:30 and 1. It was 12:22. What good fortune!


There was an outside play set, feet-deep in snow, but the children didn't seem to mind. They finagled their way up to the top and slid down into the snow at the bottom. After about fifteen minutes of that, Ethan and Ben climbed the hill where they found an ideal spot for viewing the finalists coming down the hill to the finish. So we all climbed up there (note to self: clogs are NOT ideal for climbing in deep snow to an ideal viewing spot) and staked our claim on a pile of rocks next to a pine tree. The children pretended to be Grandma and Grandpa and the other Grandma and Mrs. Hollen. Jonathan (8 mos.) was on my back, impatiently begging for sweet potato puffs. Edee (2) was on Ethan's back, alternating between fussing back at Jonathan and trying to sleep on Ethan.


We waited. We kept thinking we were hearing dogs, which of course we were as there were several sled teams gathered at the bottom of the hill. But we kept thinking we were hearing THE team, the next one to come in. But they didn't come. 12:30 had already come and gone. 1:00 came. The team didn't. 1:15 came. The team didn't. 1:30 came, and Lily and Miriam (3) insisted they had to go to the bathroom and just "can't handle it. And I'm very sealious!"


So I took each of them by the hand and we headed down to the Trading Post. It took a while to see past all of the Montana paraphernalia to the door marked "Skirts," and they headed in there. I took their hands again when they came out so that I could pull them quickly through the store. I had one of those foreboding feelings.


And my feeling ended up being an intuition. Because there, as we squinted into the painful sunlight, was the dog team that had just come down the hill, just slid to a stop, just completed the race. And there were Ethan and the three other children, gathered around the team, excitedly asking what it was that the musher was giving his dogs to eat. And here was I, dragging two little girls over to a dog team and trying to explain what they had missed.


Jonathan was fussing, so I took him off my back and started to load into the van. The children were cold and the musher had started to care for his dogs, so the kids all piled into the van. Ethan ducked into the Trading Post, and I shook my head at the inevitable "OF COURSE"ness of it all -- the dog team coming in as I was debating whether the girls could go in the bathroom marked "Trousers" since they were, in fact, wearing pants. But just as I was feeling my keenest circumstantial kinship to Erma Bombeck, I noticed a group excitedly cheering at the finish line. And then I caught a quick flash of dog hair...there was another team coming down the hill! I called to the kids, "Look! Look out the window! Look! There's another team coming down! Lily! Miriam! LOOK!" Lily ran to the window and watched the team come down the hill, the sled anchor fall, and then everything slow to a stop.


"Did you see it?" I asked her.


"Yes." Then: hand hitting forehead, other hand coming up to cradle head, sob turning into wail: "That was it?? That was so short! That was all we missed??"


Hmmm. I didn't even know how to answer that, and I still don't. "Yes, dear, sorry, that was all we missed"?


Anyway. The corn dog at the Lincoln Pit Stop put an end to all sorrow, and we made our way back home, full of sunshine and snow and fresh air and cold cheeks and cheap fast food.


And next time, I'll know the surest way to hurry a musher. Which way to the restroom?


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Meeting the Neighbors

It was about five minutes after I’d first thought, “Benjamin has sure been outside with the dog for a long time” when I heard the front door open and the jingle of Maverick’s collar. Maverick bounded up the stairs to the landing, where he noisily slurped at his water bowl. Benjamin (7) was not far behind.


“Well, I think Maverick has certainly had a long enough walk,” he said loudly. Then, after a pause: “We got lost.”


I responded with my best matronly look of shock and disgust. “Benjamin! You know you can’t go where you can’t see the house! YOU. HAVE. TO. BE. WHERE. YOU. CAN. SEE. THE. HOUSE!” We live on a mountain, and it is an ever-present fear of mine that my children will wander a little too far. So it has been a rule that when the oldest two go out without me, they must stay where they can see the house. I can’t leave everyone else here while I go traipsing all over the wilderness looking for…


It was then that I saw his chin quivering – very, very quickly.


My tirade halted and my motherly instincts kicked in (better late than never?). My oldest, who has been looking so big, suddenly looked so little. I put my arm around him.


Then, quieter and slower: “Were you scared?”


“Yes.” Tears began to spill. “I . . . knocked on doors.”


“What?!! What happened?”


On Sunday, Ethan and Ben and the dog had hiked halfway up our mountain, to a clearing where you can see part of Clancy and Jefferson City. They had talked about man things, like animal tracks and finding landmarks and what to do if you get lost. Ben came back full of testosterone and bragging about the fresh scrape on his chin from climbing a tree when a branch broke.


And apparently, he also felt a little empowered. Because on Tuesday, when he went to take the dog out, he decided to try the same trail he and Ethan took.


Only some of his landmarks had melted, and things looked different, and the trail didn’t lead where he thought it would. He was afraid, and then he saw a house.


He knocked on the door. No one answered, so he ran to the next house. No answer. It was at the third house that an elderly man heard him and came out of the garage. “Can I help you, son?” Maverick growled at him, but Benjamin talked to the dog until he calmed down. Maverick insisted on standing between the man and Ben, though.


“My name is Benjamin Allison, and this is my dog Maverick. I’m lost. Can you help me find my home?”


“Let me get my wife.” His wife came out of the house, and Benjamin repeated his information. He remembered the name of our road (which is miles long) but couldn’t remember the number. Someone thought to look on Maverick’s collar, where Ethan’s cell phone number is engraved.


They called Ethan, who was in his study. Ethan took the van and found Benjamin being hugged on the porch of the house right behind the gully behind our house.


I hugged Benjamin and told him how thankful I was for God’s protection (and how maybe I should get HIM a collar with our phone number!). I served him some warm tea and an English muffin with huckleberry jam, and then I ran out to Ethan’s study.


“WHAT???!!!” I yelled incredulously.


Ethan laughed at me and told me he knew I would be coming. When he picked Ben up, he took one look at Benjamin and could tell Ben knew what he had done wrong and felt bad enough, so he kept the conversation light on the way home. Then he went back into his study and waited for Ben to tell me his story and for me to barge incredulously into his study.


Incidentally, I hate that Ethan knows me well enough to anticipate exactly what I’m going to do. I mean, it’s unnerving. I also hate that he knew to curb the parental sermon while I thrashed full-force onto my soapbox. Well, I hate that he knew to do that, and I love that he knew. Mostly, I love it.


I’m thankful for God’s protection of Benjamin. It would have been very easy for him to be truly lost, or to have run into surly neighbors (although we haven’t met any yet) or to have been hurt. It would also be very easy to chalk it up to luck or the natural course of events. But I know better. I’m grateful that God provided a dog for Benjamin, and I’m grateful that he found kind neighbors and has a wise father . . . and Father.


And later today, we’ll be taking a freshly-baked loaf of bread to those kind neighbors.


And giving thanks. Again.



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