Thanks to some hard earned sky miles, Dave was able to travel back and forth on weekends to be with us at my sisters in Cowley, Wyoming. I’ve been to the Cody airport before but am still surprised at the simpleness of the airport. Without moving once, you could watch a plane land, watch the passengers walk through the airport and then walk into the parking lot on the other side. Being together as a family, even just on weekends, was important during this time of change. Dave was/is so good to learn about and fix anything that needs fixing. It is common to see his nighttime reading material be vehicle owners manuals or RV forums. I am so thankful for his dedicated heart to our family.
We got to help out with some branding. Boy, was that a kick in the head- right Max!?
My sister is notoriously kind and generous and treated me to a pedicure. The experience made me want to get a local service wherever we go. I met Natasha and we became fast friends talking about running and family and she gave me some insider tips for places to see while we were in town. As luck would have it though, that night a toenail that had been purple since my Moab race fell off. Oh well =) She did touch it up for me the next week though.
“Can we look at snakes now?” One of my sons asked after asking specific questions about mating.
The end of the canal on the farm turns into a lazy creek where Julie’s family likes to go to find devil’s toenails. To give Jules a break we took the kids there for the afternoon. We packed a blanket, markers and some paper to fold paper boats to float and race. Luke especially loved it.
To celebrate Annie’s birthday we spent the afternoon at a water park in Billings appropriately named Oasis Waterpark. The slides and the wave pool were a favorite for everyone. However, Simon could almost always be found at the basketball hoop. Over and over he would climb out with the ball then jump in to make a slam dunk splash.
In the really dark quiet, we found ourselves waking up to birds, dogs and bellowing cows.
Beautiful Wyoming skies showed off several different times a day. One Sunday afternoon they exploded in rain dropping nearly an inch in 30 minutes. That’s a lot of water for dry, cracked land and we soaked up the playing opportunities.
So, an old thrill of being around Julie and Casey was the likelihood of getting a Diet Pepsi. It’s fair to say that since Casey let Burton and Ollie drive the truck – for real- on real roads, with real pedals, the Pepsi has been eclipsed.
A member of the community puts on a Beautiful fireworks display every year for the 4th. They are so big and so loud that the vibrations somehow set off the car alarm to add to the excitement.
I learned that transferring prescriptions needs to be done a bit more in advance and that the pharmacy in Lovell shares the gift-shop phone line. Instead of hearing the Rudy soundtrack while I waited for the pharmacist, I heard a yollering “Brett, it’s for you.” Huh, how bout that.
We were lucky we got to see my parents when they came up one weekend to support Julie and Casey in a new church calling and my sister, Jenny, and her family a different weekend stopped by on their way home from a scout camp.
While I did get myself out of bed to do some workout videos, I much preferred my running days out in wide open spaces. Most the time I was by myself but sometimes Jack and Annie would bike along with me. A few mornings when I was dragging my feet but still needed my exercise (when the kids were already up) I created obstacle courses for the kids and me to do that were challenging but fun and got the job done.
We enjoyed a trip to the Buffalo Bill museum in Cody. Burton, Ollie and Max are old enough they can wander a little on their own. It’s fun to see what catches their interest. Ollie was excited to spend some time in the gallery of western art where he sat and drew a horse. Max loved the section on Indians and Burton was drawn to the natural history section and the taxidermy buffalos. Simon liked learning that squirrels make nests underground, and Jack liked the live eagle.
In the quest of acquiring and taking care of less stuff, somehow we still couldn’t resist cowboy hats for these youngins. It was their hearts desire.
After a trip to the Walmart in Cody and still trying to organize I was happy that a set of plastic drawers fit!
In a constant effort to have love at home, I remembered hearing that for every criticism there should be 10 compliments. That became the antidote for rudeness this week. The first 3-4 compliments were were rattled off with rolling eyes. However the more they had to think, the slower and more deliberate the compliments came (even if painful) by the end their tempers had settled. It’s good to count to ten to calm down- now we will be adding compliments to the count.
Though apart, we celebrated our sweet 16th wedding anniversary. We had agreed that we would celebrate later and I was surprised and happy to receive this love in a vase.
Last year we saw this amazing location where dinosaur bones had been discovered on family farm land. This time we returned and had the unique experience of meeting paleontologists from all over the world working on this dig-site. We sat down and learned about what was happening and what we were seeing – all of it completely enhanced by mainly British accents.
Change isn’t easy and normal trials still exist. One morning instead of exercising I felt like curling up and crying. I forced myself to start moving and exercising. Anything is better than nothing, I told myself. I ended up feeling up for the day instead of dragging through it. I was reminded how Heavenly Father provides us with resources to meet our challenges then rise above them.
It’s all fun and games until everything stops working. One of the first nights when Dave was in Utah, the air conditioner stopped, the dog wet two beds and Simon threw up. There is not room for throw up and wet beds. This was a new experience cleaning up in a trailer.
During church I hit the pandora app by accident and took forever trying to get Imagine Dragons to shhhh.
Ollie climbed up the tree with tools in his teeth and the tire swing and chain on his back to sneakily fix the chain that had broken. Kate had been praying it would get fixed.
“I figured out why ants are on the earth. Because they pick up crumbs and clean up”- Simon.
All the boys are anxious for the time they are old enough to work on the farm. This year Burton hit the magic number 14. Prepped with some new work shoes, sunglasses and some shirts that would soon be rags, this honest, hard working young buck woke early and worked late 5-6 days a week. He even did the boring stuff, like spray weeds every morning but he didn’t complain. He took out fences and wrapped barb wire, got savvy on the temperamental 4-wheeler and did whatever he was asked to do. We were so thankful that his bad headaches didn’t bother him too much and that he was able to have this chance.
I tend to have a habit of confiscating things to a place I can’t find later.
My sister and I gave ourselves a night out and went to a friend of hers, who I can now claim as my friend too, for a makeup night. Her name is Hiedi. She was so purely beautiful and so nice to be with.
“I’m telling ya, you are meant to meet someone and you may never know. When you have that feeling that you should go back, make sure you do”- Hiedi whose life was changed by doing hair for a gal. The person chatted with her and left then returned because she had the feeling to ask Hiedi if she could send the missionaries to her which she did.
“You look like a new girl” when Kate saw me with makeup on.
I laughed at myself when I realized I used a blinker on the dirt road to signal my way to the store.
Ollie cracked the case of the missing shoes by checking out the dog kennels.
The day we went to Billings we left early so Burton and Ollie could go to the temple together do baptisms for the dead. We were so close but one of our passengers couldn’t wait one minute longer and we pulled off at a gas station for a pit stop. This little white church was across the street and was so beautiful. We had to go see it! I’m often sad at the site of an abandoned church. I imagined buying it and using it as a school. Then I realized, hey this is bigger than our house! We could live in it! Then all confused about how much space we need and where we should settle down again I enjoyed the history of this little sacred place. I hope many people have felt peace there and many marriages are happy that started there.
Queen Bee Gardens was a complete delight. The Zellars took the time to give us a personal tour of the candy shop. The family business started out with honey only but as the family grew the business needed to grow too. They experimented, against the face of critics, with candy making using honey instead of sugar. They were told it couldn’t be done but they did it and the candy is amazing. After the tour and explanation of the old equipment they generously let each of us choose a treat. I would recommend a stop there to anyone- but if you can’t make it, they do mail order!
Every morning the kids loved to spend time at the corrals petting the horses, sometimes giving them oats, mostly just hanging out on the fence with them.
When we realized we wouldn’t be able to do mutton busting or calf riding at the local rodeo because of a time constraint, we decided we would put on a rodeo of our own. Ollie and his cousin Mark were raring to go. Jack would have tried if I’d have let him and Max, still bruised from branding, said he would decide after watching Ollie. It was an easy no. Both Ollie and Mark made it out of the gate okay but then, there was that fence. Chapfallen and trying to be brave, he forced a smile and walked back to the house trying to keep his Hanes from showing.
When I was growing up, my parents would take us to the Days of ’47 rodeo. We have loved the unique sites and smells and experiences revisited in the continued tradition of seeing a rodeo in July. We are lucky to have spent the last three July 4th holidays in Cowley. We drive up to Redlodge, a gorgeous place with green mountains and then park on the grass (or maybe we unlock a gate if we’re late and then park on the grass).
Last year we got rained on, this year it was pleasant with just a drizzle. One of my favorite memories this year was watching Kate and Annie when “If I were you I’d want to be me too (Meghan Trainer).” came on. They were singing and dancing and laughing while they bounced on this busy farmers knees. I also loved seeing their family pose for a picture with the country sky in the background. I can’t help but think how lucky the wild west is to have this talented, kind, fun and mostly pink family.
One of the best parts of our three weeks in Wyoming was the casual closeness. The sporadic conversations on porch steps or in the kitchen packing snacks to go. The mid-day hug when you really need it or the friendly outstretched hand when you’re in a pinch. I love my sister and loved our time together.