Shabby blogs

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Grandma Helen's Birthday Hike - The Big Move Part 7

The morning after arriving at the ranch, we got up at 6am and were in the car by 6:30am. Doug treated everyone to breakfast at the Park Cafe just outside of St. Mary's in Glacier National Park. Great, little hipster cafe. They sell Doug's bison there, have GREAT omelets, strong coffee, and are famous for their homemade pies. They also sell Wicoxson's Ice Cream which is the daddy of all ice cream. We then all met in the parking lot at Logan Pass. We had planned on tackling one hike, but due to an abundance of bear activity the day before, they closed the trail. So, instead, we did the Hidden Lake hike. This was our first experience in Glacier National Park and it was love at first sight. You can hear about it and see photos of it, but neither of those can explain how truly spectacular it is. WOW. We did the normal touristy part of the hike - the lookout view - and then we proceeded to go another 3 1/2 miles down the mountainside to Hidden Lake. We went out to a penninsula and ate our lunches while some swam in the icewater. It was a very hot, sweaty day, but even that couldn't entice me to venture out - nothing like hiking in wet shorts for the rest of the day. Elisha went with the girls out to an island and went in to shock halfway out it was so cold. After lunch we all hiked back UP the mountain - not quite as easy as the hike down; it was a BIG mountain. Brad and I decided that we are complete whimps and out of shape. However, my amazing hubby still managed to scale a mountain with a four year old on his shoulders for part of the time. The kids amazed us. Josiah, Isaiah and Elias were in the front of the pack with the bigger kids and beat us back by 20 minutes. Micah got lots of shoulder rides from Doug Mitchell and Brad, but she also walked a ton. We were hooked from day one. Hiking is great fun.
After the hike, we all went BACK to the Park Cafe for a late lunch/early dinner (again on Doug's bison tab - it was his mom's birthday and he made it really special for us all). We stuffed ourselves and then had pie and ice cream. We all went back to the ranch fat and happy.....oh, and tired, really tired....oh and sore, REALLY sore! What a day. Have I mentioned that I love Montana? See the photos here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bubby sings the OT

We recently decided to go back and help Micah learn the books of the Bible. Everyone else already knew them and I am always afraid that the littlest will miss out on all the things that the olders already know because you just forget to go back and teach them that stuff (woe to the littlest in that area!). So, we started reviewing for the others in hopes that she would learn them. Much to my surprise, she already knew them almost completely. I guess that she really was picking up things as we were learning all around her. So much for my fears!!! She cracks us up when we get to Micah - she always waves or adds something - I am afraid that she thinks that book is named after her.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Big Move Part 6

After the 4th of July, we went back to Grandma Winnie's cabin for a few days and then moved along to Wayfarers State Park campsite. We arrived and there were only 2 sites left - not the best either. We were planning on staying for about 6 days while we figured out what to do next and started looking for somewhere to live. There was a site opening up the next morning, so we watched and as soon as they drove out we snagged it. Wayfarers is a GREAT campground. It is just outside of Bigfork on Flathead Lake (the other side from where we were). AND not only did it have flush toilets, but also a great shower and even a large sink outside of the bathroom for washing camp dishes - we were living in luxury! While we were there, we met the neatest family. The Harmons had three girls and were there visiting with Stephanie's (the wife/mom) parents. They were from Aurora, Washington and were here because Rhett (husband/dad) had a job interview. They are Christians and homeschool. You know when you are kind of down and wondering what is going to happen next in life and you wonder if God is leading you anywhere at all (see Exodus for other complaining, whining, disbelieving followers! :)) and then He puts someone in your life just as a pure blessing - for no specific reason, but just as encouragement along the way? What a sweet family. We imparted Micah's hot pink cowboy boots that she LOVED dearly to Naomi Harmon. Micah had been cramming her feet into them for a while, because she just couldn't stand the thought of parting with them. However, after meeting Naomi, she was happy to pass them along to be loved by a worthy recipient ....and Naomi did love them. While we were still at Wayfarers, Doug Nelson called and asked if we wanted to come to the ranch for the night on Friday to go hiking in Glacier with he and his family on Saturday. No one that knows the Nelsons would ever turn down that kind of offer.

We left Wayfarers a day early to head out there. The ranch is 9 miles outside of Browning, but don't let that scare you (Browning is a reservation town with a reputation). It is a beautiful area near Glacier National Park. We had visited two years earlier and fell in love with the area and the ranch. Doug's property is near perfect and probably one of my favorite places on earth. The ranch is nestled in among aspen groves with a breathtaking view of Glacier. This was our first time meeting Doug's kids that he inherited when he got married 2 years ago and my first time seeing his family again after 17 years. We arrived Friday evening. Doug's sister, Julie, her husband and two sons were already there. It was such fun seeing Paul again (the ranch manager that has been there for two years who we LOVE!) and getting to meet Julie's kids (the last time I saw Julie, she was pregnant with Garret who is now almost 17 - yikes!). The kids ran around falling in love with the ranch all over again and we set up our tent near the teepee pond. Little did we know that it would be our home for some time!!

Doug's family is GREAT. His mom and dad are wonderful people who have raised 5 amazingly talented and well-rounded kids. We didn't know, but it was Doug's mom, Helen's birthday hike that we were going on the next day. That night was a flurry of activity with all of us running around....swimming in the teepee pond, packing lunches, getting packs ready, eating, cleaning up and getting settled for bed before our early morning adventure.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

more propane troubles

Today, we checked our propane levels and couldn't believe that they had already gone down significantly since Friday....10% is pretty significant. In addition ever since we moved in, we have smelled propane off and on. The landlord had she had noticed it too and had the propane company come out to check last year and they didn't find anything. Well, I called the propane company today and they sent a very nice man out to check.....sure enough the stove has a gas leak. So, he RED TAGGED it and disconnected it meaning that we are not allowed to use it until it has been fixed or replaced. WHAT???? Our landlord called to say that she ordered a new stove, but it will not be here until MONDAY! EEEEEK!!! Isn't it a good thing that I got so much practice using that camp stove this summer? :)

The Big Move Part 5 - 4th of July

We left our Flathead Lake abode for a while to join our friends, The Behrendt's, at their friends' (The Olsens) river house in Plains for the long weekend. There were a number of families coming so we opted for pitching our tent in the backyard as to not contribute to over-crowding. Besides, by this point, we were gettting accustomed to our little home away from home (well, I guess technically, it WAS home at that point!). We had never met the Olsens. Kurt Behrendt moved to Montana to work with Shawn who is a builder in Bozeman. We had the time of our lives that weekend and met friends for life. Those Olsens are a wonderful family. Their river house is on the beautiful Clark Fork River. I love fresh water and it was such fun to swim with no salt. The water was also really cold. We were amazed, because here it was Fourth of July weekend and the water was empty. We saw 2 other boats all weekend long and we were out there all day, every day. Both Colleen and Shawn Olsen are avid water skiers, so they have water toys galore. We cliff jumped, sea-dood (is that a word?), water skied, tubed, skimmer boarded, cliff jumped, swam, fished, etc. Josiah and Elisha learned to water ski and Elisha and Isaiah both did the skimmer board too. Brad hadn't skied in 20 years, but picked it right back up. One day, we all took their Malibu and the Boston Whaler and decided to boat into Thompson Falls for ice cream (an hour's ride). First we stopped to picnic and play at a sand beach on the way. In Thompson Falls, we docked the boats on the edge of the river and walked across town for gas and ice cream. We looked like a pretty funny crew all walking through town in our river stuff. Shawn led the way. We figured that we were going to a Baskin Robbins-type place - you know, an ice cream place. When we get to the gas station and he says this is it, we howled....and walked to the chest freezer and got drum sticks. HA! Thompson Falls is a little bitty hole-in-the-wall town (beautiful, and one of our favorite places in Montana, but the streets roll up at 8:30).

This was our first time living somewhere in which fireworkds were legal - woo hoo!! We were afraid that we would really miss out on the big city fireworks in San Diego - we really did have a great show every year. We had resigned ourselves to being in Montana and just knowing that the trade off of being here was worth the lack of fireworks show.....little did we know that we were spending the weekend wtih a bunch of pyros!! We bought a bunch of fireworks, but Kurt and Shawn were out of control. They bought boxes and boxes - no truckloads - of them. They even went to Wyoming and bought some contraband!! We had over an hour long fireworks show and these things were HUGE. We even about set the deck on fire when a "ladybug", after sky-rocketing into the air, plunged toward the house and about hit Jeannie in the head!! It was the best fireworks we had ever seen - these Montanans do things in style! :) Brad, Kurt, and Shawn were hilarious. We had so many, that they were setting them off in big sets at the end. And we set off entire packs of black cat firecrackers all at once. Up until last year, we always had a 4th of July party at our house. Last year, we went to Torrey Pines State Beach with the Curles family and we were missing them. We had such a great time in Plains that it made missing them easier. It was hard leaving, because we so enjoyed the place and the friends. We are hoping to make it an annual event in Plains.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

It's About Time

We finally have had snow in Montana. This past week, we got some good snow -all together about 10 inches maybe? We have had fun out in it playing around. Shaun built a big mound and a ramp off the side deck and snowboarded it. I took some photos and videos. We went sledding for our first times this week. We went twice to a GREAT, BIG hill in our pastor's neighborhood. They have been going there for the past couple of years. It is this great bowl in a public park. The powder was deep the first day so that every time you slid down, you ended up with snow all over your face and head (and everywhere else). Great fun. more photos and videos. Have a look. So after all that great snow, yesterday it warmed up and started to RAIN!! Today most of the snow is gone and everything is mushy. Except when it gets colder at night and then all that mush turns to ice. :)

Friday, January 4, 2008

good news and bad news!

Well, we had an exciting day in our household yesterday - Micah lost her first tooth!! She is almost a big girl now. It was noticed to be loose on Wednesday and she had a terrible time all day long. Eating was torture - so you'd THINK by the cries of pain she utterred (pure drama!). She told Shaun he could pull it that night, but it wasn't ready. I think she's pretty brave. I remember my loose teeth and I'd have rather died than let anyone in there to yank them. They were hanging on by one, tiny thread and I used to let them hang until they literally fell out. Thursday morning, Shauny did indeed yank it out and she was so excited. IT is under her pillow tonight so "that fairy can give me a thousands hundreds dollars" (at that I told her that the fairy is going to put a note under her that says "forget it - keep the tooth!"). We have been completely lame in the tooth fairy area at our house. They all know that there is no such thing as the tooth fairy (sorry if I am bursting anyone's bubble here), but they feel jipped anyway since we didn't hand over any dough. Josiah says that he is going to leave a note under Micah's pillow that says "hey, Tooth Fairy, you owe my about $10 - pay up!". So, we have decided to let them all live vicariously through their baby sister.....everybody gets a buck tonight! It's a party at the Dunhams!
Now for the bad news...... Also on Wednesday, we were smelling strange propane smells. I called the landlord and told her I thought we had a leak (which, by the way, we still think there might be). She said that if the tank had just been filled to 100% (it wasn't) it would smell like that or if it is just about to run out (yikes!!!), it would smell that way as well. I was boiling rice and guess what went out? Yep, that's right - the stove turned off - no more propane. Now, our stove, water heater, AND furnace are on propane. We had no idea we were even close to empty, but I guess propane goes quickly. We called teh propane company and they were closed. Did I mention that it is cold in Montana? It is a good thing that places are better insulated here than in San Diego! When we called Thursday morninig, the company was so backed up because of having New Year's Day off, that they couldn't deliver until Friday (today) which is their regularly scheduled Columbia Falls day. So, it was an interesting 2 days with some unique meals. When we got home from sledding yesterday, Brad had pulled in the camp stove (we have a giant, robo, super stove) and had it going gull blast in here to heat the place. It really didnt' get all that cold, but today when the propane guy came, we were one happy bunch. Showers (warm ones) are a good thing! That was a little excitement for two days. Now I need a nap! :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Big Move Part 4

The bad thing about waiting to post about our big move until NOW, is that I have forgotten the day to day feelings, excitements, fears, etc. that went along with each of those days. I was foolish and did not write them down as I should have thinking that I'd remember it all because of how vivid it all was then..... I was forgotting that all that breast milk was really brain matter and it's never coming back.

I do remember that the night before we left Bozeman I was scared to death. We knew that we were heading north toward the Flathead Valley (that is really the area that we wanted to live in), but had no idea where we were going to stay on the way or what we'd do when we got there. We planned to look for campsites along the way and then find one up there and start looking for a place to rent while we continued to look. Our first night, we stayed up past Missoula in a campground area called Bear Claw. At this point, I was still really afraid of bears - especially grizzlies - so that name didn't bring any peace to my mind. It was a great little area with a bathroom AND a shower. Most of you from CA reading this are thinking "well, yeah...duh!", but that's because you have never camped in MT. Flush toilets, as I now know they are called, as opposed to pit toilets (just like they sound) are few and far between and showers are a luxury (in fact, almost none of the state parks have showers)- but I wasn't well versed yet on MT campgrounds and thought that was normal too. There was only one other campsite being used (and this is summer, mind you - there just aren't many people in MT even with all the tourists). Our neighbors were gone when we set up camp, but arrived shortly therafter. They were an old, hippy couple on Harleys. They came over after a while wondering if these could ALL be our kids (remember, there are only 5 of them - we are not even close to the Duggers!). Our friends were missing many of their teeth and were about three sheets to the wind. They also used very colorful language in telling us how great it was to see families out having fun together and then told me that I must need to take valium to deal with all these kids. I assured the man that I did not and told them that all these kids were a great blessing from the Lord. He agreed and then toned down his language. We had a nice conversation with them. They left early the next morning, beeping their horns and waving. We moved along as well. We arrived in the Flathead and looked around to the East where we had seen a property that we wanted to see. We found a campsite - well, really it was a little restaurant that had RV spots on the lake and they had one area that they let tent campers use. Again, there was a bathroom and a shower - kind of scary, though. It was on Lake McGreggor and a beautiful spot. As soon as the sun started to set, the mosquitos came out - in swarms. No, REALLY! The boys found some pine cones and sticks to use for baseball. We had a great time making s'mores and swatting the mosquitos. There was this plant covering the entire area as if it were grass...I had an idea that it was the herb (and weed) plantain (I found out later that it was) which is what you can use naturally to treat bug bites and stings. I think it is funny that God filled "Mosquito Ville" with plantain.
The next day, we headed into Kalispell. Oh, I forgot to mention that Montana is not the best place for cell or internet coverage. Brad was trying to manage the Pacific Coast business as we went along and it became extremely difficult at this point being on the road in areas with no internet access or cell phone coverage. He figured out that at least he could get access through his cell phone company on his phone. Granted he had to have cell service (refer back to previous thought!), but it was better than nothing. We went to a park in Kalispell so that he could use his phone/internet and we decided to call my good friend from college, Doug Nelson who is from Kalispell (and the person who introduced me to Montana 18 years ago). Doug and his wife, Karen, live in Hamilton now during the winters and they live outside of Browning on their bison ranch most of the summer. We knew that he would be able to tell us of a camp site in the area. When I called, he happened to be in Kalispell. He said that he knew of a site, but asked if we would like to stay on Flathead Lake instead. Well me, being no dummy, said "Yeah!!!". He came to get us and we followed him to Grandma Winnie's cabin right on Flathead Lake. Doug's family has a couple of properties on Flathead. This one has been in the family for years. No one was staying there for a couple of weeks and he set us up. Isn't God amazing? We were shocked. Grandma Winnie's cabin is this cute, little 60s throw-back with running water in the kitchen but no bathroom or shower; there is an outhouse. We LOVED it. Doug's parents have a big house down the road, and we were able to use the shower and washer/dryer there if we wanted. Brad set up an outside shower at our cabin with a gallon milk jug and the hose (lake water - COLD lake water). We made a jumping board sticking out into the lake, built camp fires in the fire pit, and had a ball. And Doug was such an encouragement as well. Doug is a risk taker and unlike anyone else that I know; it is an honor to know he and his family. He and Brad were talking and Doug mentioned that he admired Brad's courage just picking up and moving up here. Brad told him that he wasn't sure if it wasn't foolishness. To that, Doug said one of the most encouraging and profound things of the summer: "Courage always looks like foolishness until it comes to fruition". He is a great friend to have around at a time like this when everything seems so unsure and scary. So, here we were, discouraged and wondering what in the world we were going to do next and God puts us on 150 feet of beautiful lakefront footage for a 2 week vacation. Amazing. And, we got cell coverage too! You can see more photos here and here too.

Thanksgiving in Plains

We spent Thanksgiving in Plains with our good friends the Behrendts and Olsens. When we arrived, Jeannie (B) had just shot her first buck. Everyone got an opportunity to see the deer gutted. Now that's big excitement for a little boy named Isaiah and a reason for me to stay inside and cook or clean a toilet or something more exciting like that. The Behrendts also shot 2 more deer and filled their tags! The guys all went duck hunting too and took isaiah and Josiah - they got one measly duck and sat there all day long. Shawn cooked for us - we had pheasant with mushroom cream sauce and he also made some kind of asian duck. It was a big game weekend.
There was a bit of snow on the ground and since we haven't gotten anything good to speak of - anything was enough to sled. The kids exhausted each part of the yard until the snow was al used up. They had a blast. Josiah came in and jungle boy had no socks on, flip flops, and gym shorts - 23 degrees - go figure. We played games, went to Quinn's Hot Springs, scrapbooked, watched Amazing Grace and ate so much that we all felt sick half the time. Colleen and I stayed up until WWWAAAAAYYYY past our bedtimes one night - it is our Plains ritual and usually happens on a night when we are both tired and plan to go to bed early. We get yacking and our mouths take over our bodies and there is just no stopping them.
God is so good. We are blessed with so many things to be thankful for and we are well aware of them this Thanksgiving. Click here for more photos!

Out of Order

Well, I am really kind of a lame blogger. I am all out of order and kind of behind (kind of????hm). I have been trying to update the past week or so, but the internet in Montana leaves a bit to be desired but we won't go there. I have not been able to get onto anything consistently, so my blogging attempts have been met with frustration. So, bear with me on the next few posts while I get us up to speed (well, not including that "Big Move" stuff, but I will get you up to speed with the current goings-ons, going-ons, goings-on..........)