Is it really a holiday?

I just realized, sitting here alone at 10 pm while Derrick is climbing up heaven-knows-where, that today is Pioneer Day. Gotta admit it: this “holiday” never held alot of interest for me, except for when I was ten years old and my mom sewed me an apron and bonnet so I could walk around Keewaydin Park nineteen times singing, “Pioneer children sang as they walked, and walked, and walked, and walked…and (high note here) waaalked.” It was a hundred degrees and despite my sweat and tears, I unjustly lost the costume contest. Determined to win something, I decided next to brave the watermelon eating contest and promptly threw up afterwards. (Do you remember any of this, Sarah? I’m sure you were suffering right by my side.)

At any rate, July 24th usually comes and goes and I am none the wiser for it. Perhaps it’s because I live outside of Utah, or that I am pitifully ignorant of any pioneer heritage I may posses (how long can I use the “it’s not my season” excuse?), or that July is always a whirlwind of crazybusy in our family, so this peculiar holiday gets quickly squeezed out. Regardless of the reason, I don’t think much about Pioneer Day, and I probably should. Tonight, however, I came across an essay (in the form of a devotional address) that made me do so. It was written for people like me who just don’t get into the whole Pioneer Day Thing, and the author just happens to be Tessa Santiago, who was my favorite English professor at BYU. So in the interest of having nothing interesting to write today, I think I’ll gracefully bow out of my blog and let Dr. Santiago do the work, since she is such a better writer than I, and, let’s face it, its no skin off her back. The talk can be found here, and don’t be fooled by its dry title. I guarantee a totally satisfying experience.

Happy 24th of July!

Operation Riley

The sleepless nights, fits of despair, and weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth are finally over: Riley’s here! If you are not a Curtis, this post may have little interest for you, but it’s big news in the Smith household (and blogging about it gives me an excuse to show off my cute kids.) The girls are having a ball and savoring every minute with their still-best-friend-in-the-world. So far, I think the visit has lived up to expectations:

We started the first day right with Meg’s belated birthday party at “Monkey Dooz,” the most ridiculously overpriced but worth-every-penny little girls’ beauty salon.
They began by dressing up…

Then a careful selection of nail color was agonized over…(do not be fooled by this cheery photo; it took awhile)

Next was the pedicure. (Meg was a little too comfortable in this getup.)

Hair came next. Somehow I think Riley was pleased with hers.

You just don’t see coiffs like this anymore!

Paris and Nicole got nothin’ on us!

Final results. Move over, JonBenet! The girls partying by the pool, which is how they’ve spent most of their week (thank you Shannons!) Here they are by the gool ‘ole mushroom pool while Meg was in lessons.

Megan won the goofiest costume contest the girls held on the trampoline that night. Riley was her costume designer. We think the puffy undies are what secured the title. Thank you, Heather and Randy, for sharing your cutie with us. We’re having such fun! More photos to come soon…


I’ve been happy this summer. Very happy. This morning Megan asked me what my favorite thing about summer is, and I was hard-pressed to narrow it down to one thing. But I did manage a Top Ten List of things that I believe are contributing to my current state of immense satisfaction:

1. Not having to drag my kids out of bed in the morning. They are high energy children once they’re awake, but getting them awake requires a megaphone and crowbar.

2. Swimming lessons at 11 am. The kids sleep in while I work out, catch up on housework, mail, etc. We get piano and violin done after breakfast, then head down to the pool with a picnic lunch packed for the park afterward. The pool and park are followed by no other scheduled activities for the kids. This single factor may be the sole reason for my summer happiness. So nice to take our time getting the day started.

3. The heat. We had a cold and windy spring, so I’m loving the 95+ temp.

4. Blogging. I’ve just recently converted, as you know. I used to be anti-blog, now I’m pro-. All you bloggers were right: it is fun. (And narcissistic and self-validating in a slightly pathetic way, but who’s asking?)

5. My Young Womens “High Adventure” activity is now safely in the past. I drove six teens in my van, alongside a larger Mormon caravan, to Coeur d’Alene for a weekend of mind-boggling fun. A day at a water/theme park was followed by camping overnight and then a sixteen mile scenic bike ride the next morning. Let me rephrase: we started in the morning, but it was actually midday by the time each valiant youth was on their bike, on the trail, ready to begin. Is anyone out there familiar with the process of camping/eating/packing/driving/wear-your-helmet-and-don’t-get-in-a-wreck-or-lost-or-dehydrated-and-two-hours-later-we’re-still-waiting-for-one-of-the-beehives that goes into one of these “super” activities? If so, you can imagine my delight upon learning, as we finally approached the trail head to start biking, that due to unseasonable snow, the bottom of the trail could not be reached. Therefore the shuttle, which normally would take us back up the mountain to our cars, could not be boarded. Thus, rather than ride the original sixteen miles downhill as planned, we would have to ride nearly all the way down, then turn around and ride all the way back up. This did not bode well for one of my Mia Maids who thought that white ballet flats would be a good shoe of choice for the ride (I had a splendid time walking her, and our bikes, back up the mountain.)

The planning and execution of this exotic getaway loomed over me for some time, and I can now officially check it off my list. I have so many, um, interesting anecdotes to share about this trip, I really need to splinter off into a new post. Suffice it to say my van reeked of body odor, flatulence and Nacho Cheese Doritos for two days afterward and I’ve decided that potty-training is actually less disgusting than having teenagers will be.

6. Another camping trip that was actually fun. We met my mom’s extended family for a weekend reunion in beautiful Round Lake (again in Northern Idaho–what is up?) and had fun talking, eating, and getting to know each other better. The scenery was breathtaking, and Derrick and I enjoyed a long, mosquito-infested run gazing out at what surely was the setting for the Anne of Green Gables movies. It was that beautiful. A mysterious potluck dinner followed by family lore around the campfire confirmed my formerly vague suspicion that quirky families are, indeed, the best. And even amongst all that nature I managed a bit of shopping. I found this ring at a flea market in Sandpoint:

I thought it was funky and kind of cute. Back at camp, however, my brother-in-law soberly announced that it was “absolutely ugly.” I fled to Derrick for his surely dissenting opinion, but he only shrugged and said, “I don’t know that much about women’s costume jewelry.” (I did not take this statement as a good sign.) The womenfolk, however, have assured me of the ring’s cutefunkiness, and my little daughters love it. As I have no taste in womens costume jewelry myself, I’ll go with my seven and nine-year old’s opinions.

7. Celebrating Moogley’s seventh birthday. Actually, this should probably cause me unhappiness. We begged and pleaded with her to stay six, and she told us she would if she could, but she didn’t know how. We spent the day swimming with friends and cousins, followed up by a three hour trip to the mall, headed by yours truly while Derrick napped with Ethan at home. (Don’t worry, honey, your day is coming…scouts will happen sooner than you think.) This kind of outing may sound unfun to some of you, but after my weekend with the Young Women, herding four giggling young girls around Columbia Center was a walk in the park. At least we had clean restrooms, and my girls don’t think they know how to solve global warming.

On her seventh birthday

Ain’t she sweet?

8. Getting on board. Derrick has been such a great example to me this past year. Concerns over his cholesterol have led him to eating well and working out like crazy, culminating in his Mt. Rainer climb coming up in a few weeks. Although I’m not quite as psychotic–I mean, committed–as he is, I have stepped up my exercise game a bit. I’m getting ready for a half-marathon in October, which is something I’ve always put off doing far into the future. I ran seven miles yesterday, which may as well have a been a full marathon for me. And it wasn’t too bad! I know I’m bragging shamelessly here, but if my blog doesn’t care about my health, who does? Of course I haven’t lost any weight (that would only happen in a fair world), but I feel great, and the exercise has definitely contributed to my happy factor.

9. Celebrating thirteen years of wonderful. I really mean this. I cannot believe how fast it’s gone, how fun it’s been, and how you can still be getting to know and falling in love with someone after thirteen years of marriage.

10. Looking forward to more good times. Fourth of July at the beach, Riley (Rachael and Megan’s best friend from Utah-!-) coming to visit, my dad’s family reunion in Sun Valley, an adults only weekend in Seattle to celebrate my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary (Go Mariners! even if you stink this year, we’ll be there to cheer you on), helping with Rache’s Activity Day Camp, not going on the Wilderness Trek with the Young Women (a great reason to have children) and finishing up the summer on our annual camping trip with the Shorts, this time in cabins (!) complete with horseback riding, canoeing, and a waterslide. Add to
all this reading some great books (am loving Rain of Gold), finally seeing Amalie (CleanFlicks version), and having more time to swim/eat/laugh with my kiddos and go to Rite Aid before the movies with my husband, and you see I have the makings of one tasty summer. (And you can also see why I’ve been so lame about blogging and am trying to recap it all into one, gigantic post.) Happy summer to you all!