Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Davis and Karate

In April, we signed the boys up for karate, twice a week.  Davis picked it up very quickly.  Noah did not.  He loves fighting "karate" style at home, but didn't love listening to the sensei and following directions.  So Noah quite after a month.  Davis, however, is still doing and loving it after 4 months.  Every class he gives it 110% and listens well and does his best to learn the new moves and remember the katas and combos they learn.  In June, he took his belt test and was awarded his yellow belt.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend, May 2015

As I looked at and edited the pictures from this trip to Ferron over Memorial Day Weekend, I was very aware of the blessings that tradition and family bring.  I don't know when the Ralphs began gathering in Ferron on Memorial Day to put flowers on the graves.  We have gone down as long as I can remember.  Grandpa Max made sausage gravy at his house and Aunt Tauna made the biscuits at her house and we all crammed together at Grandpa and Grandma's house for breakfast.  I would eat as many biscuits with gravy as I could stuff in, then one more with Grandma's homemade jam on it.

I loved when my aunts and uncles went out to the old white shed behind the house and got out the flower baskets and started cutting irises and stems of green leaves from the lilac bushes out back and stems of small white flowers for filler on the side of the house.  I loved being given the chance to put a flower or two in the basket and be part of the whole process.  Once at the cemetery, the kids, (myself included) were tasked with carrying the cut clothes hangers and pushing them into the ground to hold the baskets of fresh flowers and the mums, and with carrying the water buckets and making sure everything was watered well.

It is still the same, decades later.  Baskets are pulled out, flowers cut (sorry about the irises, Mom!), aunts and uncles (and me!) doing our best to show the love and respect we have for the people whose graves the flowers will go on.  Grandma Elaine always gets the dark purple irises Uncle Stewart brings from home.  They were her favorite.

A tradition such as this one, of remembering our connections with the present and the past, help anchor us.   We remember who we are and what we are a part of.  Grandpa Elaine passed away when I was about 13 and I don't remember her at the cemeteries with us, but I feel her presence so strongly each year as we put together the baskets with the flowers and plants she grew at her home when she was alive.  I remember Grandpa Max hoisting himself out of the car and sitting on a folding chair, overseeing the work on Grandma Elaine's grave and those of his siblings and parents.  I remember Dad leading the way, sometimes with Robin or Randal or Stewart reminding him of details he missed, telling the family lineage and where the people came from and their history.  I hope he continues for many, many more years so that my children can hear the stories of their ancestors.  And so that we of the next generation will be able to someday tell our grandchildren the stories as we place flowers on the graves.

This year, we were lucky to have Grandma June visiting Mom and Dad.  I was grateful to have her there because my kids haven't had the chance to get to know her well because Arizona is a bit of a drive from us.  Eva smiled at her, Noah talked to her, and she taught Davis how to play Skip Bo (and he taught Grandpa Michael how to play when Grandpa had to take Grandma's place for a few minutes).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Spring At our New House

We have large flower beds in the front of our new house.  As spring came this year, new flowers and green leaves started coming up out of the dirt.  Because we bought the house in the winter, I had no idea was to expect, and as more came up, I had no idea what was the start of a flower and what were weeds.  The first to come up, in February,  were some cute little purple flowers.  Then lots of yellow daffodils, then lots of yellow and pink tulips.  After that I had to just wait and see what bloomed and what didn't.  Now, in mid July, I have watched where nothing was to now where there are great blooming bushes of purple flowers, healthy daisies, lilies, and many other flowers I don't know.  I finally figured out what to pull and what to leave.  And I love my flower beds.  They are a lot of work, but I love being outside, surrounded by such beautiful color!

When spring came, I put out my yellow flower wreath, near the front door.  We watched as a sweet mama bird and her mate made a nest in the wreath and laid baby blue eggs.  After a few weeks, the eggs hatched and we got to watch them grow up.  The parent birds became part of the family and we would watch them out the window as we ate our meals  One day, the baby birds flew away and the mama and daddy birds came back to the nest over and over for a day or two, looking for their babies.  It was a neat experience to see the whole cycle, but I felt sad for the parents who didn't know they had raised the babies well enough that they flew away to live their own lives.  I suppose that is what we are all trying to do, and it will be sad when my babies grow up.  One day they will be grown and gone and I will walk through their rooms wondering where the time went.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Finally, Time for the Pool

Davis and Noah had been asking to get the pool out since January.  Seriously.  Eventually, in April, it warmed up enough that I thought they might not die of hypothermia, so out came the pool, on went the swimming suits, and friends came over.  Davis had his friend Trevin over and Noah went to play with Trevin's little sister, Kaylee (they all get along better when big and little kids are separated).  And I was so excited to put Eva in her new swimming suit.  I had hunted all over to find one her cute, big belly would fit into.  And man, she looked as cute as could be!

A week or two later, the pool was out again, this time with Max and Bennett and Davis and Noah and Christian and Jacob (brothers).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Blue Skeletons

One Saturday in April, we were all out doing yardwork.  It had rained that morning and was threatening to rain again soon, so I was hurrying to get all my flowers and herbs planted that I had bought.  I was in the front and the boys were mysteriously quiet and unseen.  I went to the back to put away my things and when I came out of the shed I was taken about by the sight of my boys.  They had apparently found some wet, blue chalk that drew splendidly on their skin.  And so Davis drew all over his skin and Noah's, making them look like weird, blue skeletons.  We were going to go out to eat that night, so I put them in the shower, scrubbed them clean, and we went to Famous Davis in the pouring rain and had a great night.

Monday, July 20, 2015

While Dad is Away . . .

In April, Darren went out of town a few times.  So, we decided to make the most of it with bubble baths in the big tub and homemade strawberry milkshakes.  Eva really wanted to join the boys in the bathtub, but it's too slippery and deep for her.  And when we make milkshakes, the boys like to put them in bowls, collect a few "cooking" tools and make whatever their imagination comes up with (I think the first time we used cups, but once we found out how easy and delicious strawberry milkshakes are, we made them often, eating them with bowls and spoons and whisks and spatulas and straws) .  In the end it's a bit of a mess and lots of dishes, but also lots of fun.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Noah's 4th Birthday, April 19th!

My baby boy is 4.  He is the sweetest, most loving boy.  He laughs alot and cries alot and plays alot and has the biggest imagination I have ever seen.  Noah loves to watch tv shows (Wild Kratts, Octonauts, Rescue Bots) and movies and play games on the ipad and listen  to books.  He is always lost in some imaginary world, populated with dinosaurs and tigers and lions and superheros.  He loves fruit and string cheese and yogurt and jelly beans (Jelly Bellies and Starburst Jelly Beans).

He had planned his birthday for almost a year - he wanted a lion birthday party.  I didn't some "research" on pinterest, but hadn't planned or bought anything as of a week before his birthday.  Then out of the blue he changes his mind to dragons.  Ok - dragons it is.  Wait, no, he wants . . . I don't even remember what he wanted.  In the end, as in two days before his birthday, he settled on an African Savannah theme.  I may have nudged him that way because we already had so many things to go along with that.  I made him a lion mane hat to wear and we hung up pictures of African Savannah animals and made a savannah birthday cake.  We had lots of family come for the festivities.

With every present he opened, Noah would exclaim, "Oh!  I've always wanted one of these!  Thanks (fill in the blank)."  He was so excited about everything.  One gift, I don't remember which one, he said, "I've always wanted one of these!  What is it?"

GG gave Noah some little spongy sea animals that grow in water and Noah loved them.  He lined his cars and animals up around the cup to watch the spectacle.  Aunt Kim sent Noah a Captain America shield, which added nicely to his collection of superhero gear.  He has also spend countless hours looking at the superhero story book Grandma gave him and slaying the wild blowup animals Aunt Jeanette gave him.