Saturday, July 31, 2010

I turned 29 again

My epic birthday present was a clean garage. I didn't do too much of the actual cleaning, but without me it couldn't possibly have happened.
Okay, it would have happened, but it wouldn't have been done MY WAY which is the ONLY way, right? It would never have been accomplished correctly without me to stand and point (or sit and point) where everything was going to go.

I spent Thursday through Sunday being pampered and spoiled by my dear Hubby, who kept asking every 45 minutes "Isn't there something you want to buy for your birthday instead?"
It's not so much that he was trying to shirk the whole cleaning the heinous garage chore. In fact, he worked harder and longer on it than all the childern combined.It's just that he couldn't fathom why I would want that for my birthday present. It's a long story, that involves my dear mother-in-law and all her earthly belongings.

We were worried  we would lose her at first -- five surgeries and extended hospitalization. Followed by a lengthy rehabilitation where she regained some skills - walking and talking again. Me, I was taking care of a very worried and high maintenance father-in-law, maintaining two households: cooking and cleaning and laundry. After a few months, when it came time for her to go home, we decided that a six bedroom home on two levels was beyond her capablities, and assisted living would be better for everyone. She still gets an independent space of her own, food service for her special diet at her fingertips, nursing care and medication management to give everyone peace of mind. And help for taking care of a very high-maintenance grandpa.

Now if only we knew what to do with all the stuff she acquired over the last sixty-odd years that's in that enormous six bedroom house.....

We had tons of help from family -- they all took something -- my sister got some much needed bookcases, the cousins needed beds and misc. kid stuff. Uncle Dale found a home for SO MANY things that I would have had no idea where the need was. A family in our neighborhood desperately needed a new fridge to replace a broken one. Another friend took some couches off our hands. We made a dozen trips to DI with much of it. These items were a blessing to so many.

But there was still a ton left. Here are some scissors.

 If I counted correctly, about 32. This was less than half of what I found. I think the final number was in the 80's somewhere, when we lost track and stopped counting.

Photographs, paintings, Christmas heirlooms, personal papers. Enough to make and encyclopedia set of scrapbooks. Twelve encyclopedia sets of scrapbooks. And then there was the costumes and fabric (my MIL is a very talented seamstress and has costumed tons of plays -- even though I am hers only by marriage, any abilities I have in this regard came from her) and tuxedos. Many ....interesting.... tuxedos.

The funky 70's lime green tuxedo was claimed by my... interesting... neice. Yes, she wears it. She's dramatic like that. Many of the others have found homes with the many performing arts kids that are friends of my kids. I gave them where the need (once again) was great, and they were appreciated.

Much of the fabric was claimed by cousins, the rest is in my garage. With the tuxes. And the photos. And papers, decor, furniture and STUFFFFFFFFF!!!!!! The garage was sooooo full, you couldn't walk from the front to the back.

This is why I wanted a clean garage for my birthday. Hopefully it will be done soon. We are SOOOOO close! Just a few more hours of sorting and tossing.

Here is the before photo so you might begin to appreciate the task at hand. Unfortunately this doesn't show the whole mess, some of it had been moved into the driveway in order for Screamapillar to be standing there:

What you can't see is worse. Behind that bookcase on the right is the back door to the garage. Things are piled to the ceiling back there, and the door is completely inaccessible.

When the "after" is ready, I will post for you to see our wonderful progress. Makes you want to go clean out your garage, doesn't it?

Or go hide under your bed.

If you need me, I'll be under mine. Bed, not garage. Just making that clear.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A few amusing vacation photos

I have to post these today, before Screamapillar comes home from camp. When she sees this, she will kill me.

Really and truly.

Because she's almost 16 (there is no such thing as 15 to a teenage gril. She's either 14 or almost 16).

And the photo you are about to see is.....unflattering.

Wait! That's not her, that's Thing Two. Nice backside photo.

Oh, that wasn't it either. Stupid uploader.  But I think you might be starting to see the trend here. I stand around, not helping anyone, aiming a camera instead of lending a hand.....

YEAH! There it is! That's the one! Isn't she just beautiful in the morning? I love her.

She hates me.

As well she should.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Once upon a time, we went on vacation. We actually try to go on vacation every summer. Some years are more successful than others. Some are epic, others of little note.


On this vacation, we found ourselves in the city of Sioux Falls. And we wanted to see the falls. And perhaps have a picnic lunch there. So we wandered about lost for a little while, then pulled into a helpful motel where we were given a map and directions. Good directions. Thank you, desk clerk at moderately nice motel.

On to the falls.

On the way, we were tempted by the most lovely aroma. Ahead, we saw a large building with the words "John Morrell" on the side.

"LOOK KIDS! That must be where they make the bacon! Can you smell it?"

And we rolled down all the windows to better enjoy the lovely smell of bacon.

(I must remind you at this point that my childern are bacon freaks. Luke Skywalker once ate 12 plates of bacon at a buffet in Mesquite. He ate his actual weight in bacon.)

And then it all went horribly wrong.

The smell of bacon morphed into the most rank, foul, disgusting, horrible stench I have ever in my entire life encountered. It really defies words. Let me say then, instead, that what we had encountered was the bacon plant and slaughterhouse.

Yes, slaughterhouse.

We couldn't get the windows up fast enough. The stench had instantly permeated everything within the car, and still seemed to be coming in through the air conditioning vents. The childern were making retching noises from the rear of the vehicle. I drove like a bat out of h-e-double-hockey-sticks in my effort to get as far away as I could as fast as possible.

And then we arrived at the falls.

For some reason I cannot fathom, no one wanted to eat lunch.

"Ham sandwich?" "No, thanks."

Most of us have (three years later) finally recovered. Two of my children have been forever scarred, and have never eaten bacon since.

So if you're ever in Sioux Falls, and you see the Morrell Plant, TURN AROUND AND FIND ANOTHER WAY.

And for heaven's sake, don't roll down the windows.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The many celebrations of the day of my birth...

 Your attention please -- there is a wonderful recipe at the bottom of this long and boring post. If you find yourself falling asleep, scroll down quickly - it will be worth it.

Sorry I've been away so long. I was celebrating. I'm a Pioneer Baby and My Birthday is a State Holiday because I am So Important.


If you're LDS, you know what I'm talking about. Pioneer day -- the day the pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley and the women said "That's enough, we're not taking another step. Plant the zucchini over there, NOW."

It's a big thing, pioneer heritage when you're a Mormon. I don't have any. Convert family, remember? But Hubby does. Some of his unfortunate ancestors were in the Martin Handcart Company. The ones who all nearly died. Except his ancestor, obviously. Charlotte Elizabeth Mellor Roper.The story goes that as she and her sisters were brought into the valley by the rescue party, they were farmed out to established families who would care for them until they recovered from their ordeal. Widow Roper's son, John Henry, carried Charlotte Elizabeth from the wagon to the house. When their eyes met, they fell instantly in love, and were married less than a year later.

In contrast, my non-member ancestors came over from the Netherlands. All the cousins were forced to marry each other in order to keep the money in the family (no dowries for some other family to benefit from! let's inbreed instead!).
My great-grandparents were first cousins, and although my great-grandma (who I do not remember at all) was known as a wonderful and kind woman, great-grandpa was.... was.....well I overheard at his funeral when I was 19 "The only reason anyone is here is to make sure the old ba&%$rd is really dead." No, it wasn't anyone in the family that put voice to that thought, but I'm sure some were thinking it....

So, no crossing-the-plains ancestors for me. I did have some American Indians & French trappers though!

That's Mary Keith on the left there, daughter of Snake Woman and John Poisal. She married Ben Keith and proceeded to pass down to me an extreme hypersensitivity to all forms of anesthesia which today causes my dentist to say "That last stuff we tried lasted three days? Well lets try something else!" and left me unconscious for two days after a general once when I was 16. Good stuff, genes.

So, when I was a kid my parents totally cheated for my birthday. Dad was in the Navy, and we were stationed hither and yon, and everytime my bday rolled around, we went to the ward Pioneer Day picnic. Which they told me was my birthday party.


I didn't catch on for a long time, because frankly, I'm a gullible dork. And by the time I did, it was too late, I was scarred for life.

So I'm making up for lost party-ing later in life now (Not that it's too much later, mind you, I'm only 29).

Thursday was "Quiche Party" day at work -- for my birthday.

Friday was "Clean Out the Garage Part One" day at home -- for my birthday. And Bonnie brought me a Cake Wreck.

Saturday was my actual birthday which started out with "I'm Not Cleaning Up Eclairs 1:30am Barf Because It's My Birthday," followed by "Clean Out the Garage Part Two" and "Free Lunch at Tuacanos with Hubby" and ending with "I think I'm Gonna Die I Ate So Much Meat" and "Portrait Shoot with Newly Engaged Cousin Tallie."

Sunday was "You're All on Your Own Because It's So Hot I'm Not Cooking And Nobody Made Me Birthday Breakfast Yesterday So There" followed by "Fun with Amazing 6 year-olds Who Think that I am Now 72 Years Old" and "Super Long Amazing Nap"

Monday brought "Mom and Screamapillar Go Shopping and Sneak Over To Burger Supreme for Fried Zucchini, French Fries and Strawberry Banana Smoothies" and "Let's Make Some Wonderful Homemade Brazilian Lemonade." "Cleaning Out The Garage Part Three" was called off because of rain and extreme laziness and has been tentatively rescheduled for Tuesday.

Tuesday is scheduled to include "Birthday Lunch at Cafe Rio with Awesome Aubrey"

Wednesday is "Another Birthday Lunch at Yet Undisclosed Location with Brilliant Bonnie."

Thursday is "Yet Another Birthday Lunch with Mom and Niece Brittanie at Location of Niece Brittanie's Choosing Because Her Birthday Is Next Week And I Must Pass the Torch."

I'm sure I'll stuff some more me-related activities into Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before I end my birthday week.

But since Hobbits give away presents on their birthdays, I give you this

The Most Amazing Drink Known to Man For Consumption During the Hot Summer Months In Honor of Julie's Birthday
(Not to be confused with Orange Julie-us, people, which is also Awesome.)

(We're talking about the luciousness in the middle, there)

I found this recipe on the "Our Best Bites" cooking & recipe site, which I highly recommend. They have great stuff.

6 cups COLD water
1 cup sugar
4 limes
6 tableschpoons of sweetened condensed milk

Mix the water & sugar and put into blender (I could only fit half at a time into the blender because mine is too small). Cut the limes into eighths and add to water in blender and pulse a few times, don't puree them, or the next step takes too long (I speak from experience, here). Pour the blender liquid into a pitcher through a strainer to keep the chunks out. Press with a spoon to make sure you get all the juice out. Repeat if you have a small blender. Then with about 2/3 of the liquid in the blender, I added the 6 T condensed milk and blended again. Mix all together in the pitcher and then DRINK IT ALL DON"T SHARE. Okay, share a little with people who offer to rub your feet if you do.


I cheated and threw in some ice cubes as well to make it a little slushy.

Very Y.U.M.

And just right for a very hot day in a house with a swamp cooler that can't cut it when we get this hot.

And while your sipping & enjoying your slushy lemonade (which strangely enough has not a bit of lemon) please enjoy my birthday collage:

There's Hubby eating MEAT. And the little do-dad that says "PLEASE NO MORE MEAT I'M GOING TO HAVE A HEART ATTACK JUST TRYING TO WALK TO MY CAR." and Kyle, the Bringer of the Meat. Kyle was great - kept stuffing us with bacon wrapped filet mignon and prime rib and grilled pineapple and teriyaki steak and salmon and amazing pork and.....well, you get the picture.

Excuse me while I go have a heart attack.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's My Birthday & I'll Blog if I Want To

Hubby has a dilemma.

It is my birthday this weekend, and he doesn't know what to get me.

I'm not helping.

I told him I just want to clean out the garage.

Really! There insn't anything I really want or need unless you count new carpet which ain't in the budget.

So I need some ideas, people. What do I want or need?

A massage? (I know a great one: Marcia at Massage Studio above my dentist's office -- she's amazing and she fixed my back last winter, big time)

A trip to Hobby Lobby?

Paint for my bedroom?

See, I don't want stuff, I want to DO stuff!

Like clean out the garage.

So if anyone has any ideas of some little thing for Hubby to get me that still leaves me money to buy paint for my room, leave a comment.


And yes, I will be 29.



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Conversations with Eclair

E: Mama, there's a spider in the bathroom and I'm scared (says the girl who 6 months ago thought spiders were her best friends)
M: It's okay, you're brave, you can smash him. When we lived in the old house, there were lots of spiders, and your brothers & sisters just learned to get a shoe and smash them.
E: (weeping copiously and throwing her arms about my neck) BUT I'M SCARED!!!
M: How about we get a shoe, and I will go with you. You're brave. You can do it!

(We get a shoe, and go to the bathroom.)

E: It's right there, mama, on the other side of the toilet
(Mama looks and doesn't see spider. THEN Mama sees spider. It's the size of a cocker spaniel. Actually, about the size of a Sacajawea dollar.)

M: Oh. There. It. Is. It's okay, honey. Mama will get this one........
(Mama smashes spider. A lot. Many times. Then flushes spider.)

E: Thanks Mama. I thought it was gonna give me a heart attack. Am I old enough to have a heart attack?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Top Ten things I have run over with my car

Late at night, driving through northern Arizona, we were pointing out wildlife. We saw fox, deer and racoons. Then Hubby yelled "Look kids! A rabbit!" right as we ran over one.

Pulled in to Moab during a very hot summer. Then a terrible racket came from under the car. Pulled over in a panic. Discovered that the "tar" they paint on the road cracks had stuck to all four tires, and was slapping against the wheel wells with every rotation.

The playpen. I had leaned it against the trunk before putting babes into car seats. I then forgot to put it in the trunk and backed over it instead.

During the "Epic Road Trip Vacation of '08" we ran over 9 states lines in 9 days.

Returning from a visit to a friend in Visalia on state road 155 thru Wofford Heights to the cabin in Kernville (never make my mistake and take this road. Never.). Late at night. Driving my dad's 280 ZX (which means I'm nearly lying down to drive and can barely reach the clutch). For some unknown reason there are literally HUNDREDS of mice crossing the road for a stretch about 7 miles long. I estimate I killed more than half of them.

My own timing belt. Don't ask. I'm still recovering.

My own shoes. I was at the beach, okay? Took them off to get the sand off my feet before driving, right? Just forgot to put them back on again.

On the way to Yellowstone I drove through a swarm of locust. They were everywhere. As their green guts plastered my windshield, Hubby leans forward with a tortilla chip and exclaims: "Guacamole!"

Those ingenious industrious neighbor kids! You know, the same ones who lit the gas can on fire and made a crater in the street? They built a bike ramp. With enough nails to construct a four bedroom home. They left this ramp at the end of my driveway. And I backed over it. And got a flat tire. Thank you, neighbor kids.

On the "Epic Road Trip of '08" we went to Nauvoo. As we were leaving to come back home, we had to cross the Mississippi (AGAIN - 8th time?). As I am approaching the bridge, I see a really big turtle. With all my vast experience running over beings who apparently have no better life's goal than to become roadkill, I think to myself, "It's going that way, so I had better swerve this way." Too late does it really register that "IT'S A TURTLE, FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, IT AIN'T GOING ANYWHERE BEFORE YOU'RE GOING TO RUN OVER IT, YOU IDIOT!"
So, yeah. I'm a turtle murderer.
My swerve only ensured that I would run it over quite squarely. No chance of a miss.
It was gruesome. And my children will never forgive me.

Goodbye forever, followers.

Friday, July 16, 2010

On a hot day like today.....

...I wish I were at the pool.... or on a beach....

or on my pirate ship yacht!

That's much better! Don't I look comfy?

This is what happens when little girls like Eclair inherit the toy collection of ALL her older sibs, both boys and girls. Playing dollhouse with the pirate ship and the little pets.

Happy HDOY, everyone!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Abandon all hope ye who enter here

My bathroom has a problem.

When we moved in, the bathroom lock worked so well that sometimes you couldn't leave the bathroom. I tried in vain to repair it, then replaced it instead. With a shiny, pretty new silver doorknob with privacy lock.

The new one has the opposite problem. Oh, it will look like it is locked. And if you are on the inside, it is not easy to turn the knob.

But if you are on the outside, there is no resistance at all. You could walk in on anybody.


Kinda like putting the one-way glass in backwards or somethin'.

We have had a lot of house guests lately, and I grow weary of verbalizing the warning to each guest "Knock first, and never assume you have any privacy whatsoever."

Here is my solution (it is cheaper and funnier than buying another doorknob - yeah, I know, I'm cheap):

1. Retrieve 5x7 frame from box o'frames under my baby grand.

2. Spend ten full minutes removing dust.

3. Take out to the back lawn and spray paint it PINK (wouldn't want anyone to miss it, would we?)

4. Keep the dog from licking the wet paint when Luke Skywalker lets her out of the kennel by accident.

5. When it dries, compose verse, print, insert in frame and hang.

6. Take a picture for the blog.

And thar she blows, mateys:

The Bathroom
A poem by Mommy

Once there was a potty
that had a creamy door
With slippers, clothes and bath toys
strewn across the floor.
As if it wasn't hard enough
to navigate this mess
we added a new challenge
in error, I confess.

The portal that you enter
is not at all secure
you may think that you have locked it
but of this you can't be sure.
So, please, before you enter
knock once, or twice at least.
So some poor soul before you
can hope for a little peace.

Don't say we didn't warn you
it's the least that we could do.
Beware the broken doorknob
Before you're it's victim, too.

Thanks for tuning in, folks. Hope it was worth the two minutes of your time.

P.S. I wonder how long the duct tape will hold?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Rest in peace.

Remember this little guy?


I am sad.

Edgar is dead.

Shouldn't have named him Edgar.

But there is hope......two younger brothers have appeared.

I refuse to become emotionally attached.

The really sad part is that since Edgar turned orange in his death throes, Hubby came in to tell me, "Hey, come look at the really weird pumpkin!"

Rest in peace, Edgar.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

An explanation for at least ONE of those pictures in my header.

Last fall Eclair was baptized. Big deal for a little LDS gril. For the occasion, Mommy did a little photo shoot with my little angel. Late afternoon, perfect golden sunlight. Here's how it went:

(Threw that last one in because she was looking a little too uncharacteristically perfect.)

After this wonderful session, we went home. And Eclair said she was STARVING.

Before I could get dinner finished, I turned around from the stove to find this:

That is one of the bread bowls that I bought to put the corn chowder in. She cut it in half and added mayo and almost a pound of ham. She ate the whole thing, much to the amazement of all who witnessed it.

"I told you I was starving!"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Someone Else's Boring Vacation Photos, Part Two

I love camping with my family. Here are three reasons why:

1. My pyromaniac children get to light things on fire without immediate danger of burning my house down.
2. Men "cook" (I use the term very loosely, mind you)
3. I get to take pictures of my children while they are sleeping and looking their absolute worst and they can't do anything to stop me. Usually, they don't even notice because they got a lousy night's sleep on the lava rocks.

Although this snapshot proves that they don't have to be asleep to take a really bad photo:

Thank you ladies. You are beautiful.

Thankfully, we didn't lose anyone at Grand Canyon. So we continued our vacation down old Route 66.

There were many many photos, but I will be merciful and not post every "Burma Shave" sign and pictures we took of clouds that looked like dinosaurs eating teddy bears. Just the Roadkill Cafe, because it really does exist, Virginia.

And we went to one of the campiest stops on old Route 66.


That photo way above of my lovely grils was taken there. And this one of small annoying sisters and brother nomming big teenage brother. The gift shop has the most amazing selection of overpriced cheap tourist trap garbage you could ever wish to find. But you don't care about the gift shop, you want to see the cave!!!!

I'll just share the high points.

Can you tell I have a thing for cool rocks? But there are two TRULY UNIQUE things about the caverns:

That was Bob. He was a bobcat. Until he fell into the entrance hole to this cave, wandered around in misery and died here. Now he (as you can see on the informative sign) is a mummified bobcat. Funny, when we brought Thing One and Thing Two here when they were very small people with short legs, this was all they remembered about the cave. Poooorr Bob!

Someone else died here, sad and alone:

Gertie the Giant Ground Sloth died in here eons before Bob took his first breath. Above her head is the original ladder-way into the cavern that really foolish tourists used before there was a new-fangled elevator.

After the Caverns, we drove madly into the setting sun (The big yellow one is the sun!) so we would still have daylight when we arrived here:

This is the new suspension bridge under construction at the Hoover Dam. Very, very cool. I think it is supposed to be completed this year.

Oh! I almost forgot why you came back! The event that happened after we spent 2 hours hiking in the dark with inferior flashlights!

I must explain Uncle Scopp, first. He is amazing. And very cool. And easy going. And level-headed and reliable. And every so often....IMPULSIVE. Sometimes he has adult-ADD. When an idea pops into his head, he acts on it, and it usually results in FUN. That is why this vacation even happened in the first place.

So after the picture above was taken (mercifully this happened when we were leaving), we had an ADVENTURE.

The back road to the lava tube (a dirt road going nowhere with the occasional cow) had "puddles." It has been raining just enough to keep things cool for our vacation. Except here. For some reason, all the water that has fallen in the last decade has gathered here:

Why is Thing Two standing in muddy water? That would be because about 30 minutes before, Uncle Scopp tried to drive his car through this muddy water. Unsuccessfully, I might add.

I think the term is High Centered. Thing Two has one leg on the "high" portion of ground under the water, and the other leg on the low portion. A considerable difference, yes? So a car trying to drive through this would get stuck. Very stuck.

This is what "high centered" looks like:

How did I escape this peril? See the grass way in the back? I skipped the road entirely and used that instead. Who says a Honda Odyssey isn't an off-road vehicle?

We spent the better part of 30 minutes (mercifully short time, considering) trying to get Uncle Scopp's car out of the mud trench. Most of that time was spent looking for large branches to put under the tires and finding discreet places for grils to go pee in the woods where the boys wouldn't see. That's the amazing thing about boys: they don't care about "discreet." All they need is a tree and a tailwind.

Here is how the adventure proceeded:

One: Uncle Scopp sucumbs to the irresistible urge to drive into a deep puddle (as all the licensed drivers in my car watch and keep saying "he wouldn't" and "he won't" and "no way, he did") and he sits there spinning his wheels until we can stop laughing at him and offer to help.

We extricate Uncle Scopp's family from the car, and substitute Thing One as driver. Why would I do this to my daughter? Because I firmly believe that irresponsible teenage grils should be given the opportunity to help themselves get out of difficult situations. Someday, she will be on a road trip with her peeps and they will get stuck in the mud. And Thing One will say: "Hey! Been here, done that! I can do this!" She now has mad mud-unsticking skills.

Note that Thing Two is multi-tasking. He is pushing the car out from the dry high ground AND yelling at the little children behind me! He's so helpful.

Three: Hubby and Uncle Scopp put logs & branches under the tires and attempt to herniate themselves pushing the car out by brute force. Thing Two continues to multi-task. Thing One is grinning madly because she is having fun spinning the wheels and not having to push anything more than the accelerator. Me, I'm getting a workout, too, you know! I've had to push the shutter release on the camera a dozen times already, and be assured I will be doing some really heinous laundry as soon as we return to the campsite.

Have you wondered why Thing Two finds it necessary to multi-task?

Because this is what is going on behind me:

Jamikins has fallen into the mud. Totally and completely an accident. This is not normal mud, people, but wonderful Arizona clay.

And note the guilty looking Ecalir, there? Crouching off to the right, ready to flee if Mom turns around to discover what she has done?

She was doing high kicks, for some unknown reason, and kicked her shoe right into the muddy pond. I was actually quite pleased by this, as now we are going to throw away the dog eaten shoes and find a shoe store somewhere in this wilderness to replace them!

No need to flee, Eclair. "Oh. Okay, I thought you were gonna kill me!"

Four: Once the car is out, look about in despair and ask your brother "What in the world were you thinking?" It is very important that you do not say this until the car is unstuck. 'Cause your brother has a big stick, there, and might shove you into the mud.

Oh. Wait. Already in the mud.

This, indeed, is what epic vacations are all about. The kids will remember this forever. It was actually a lot of laughs, because everyone was having a good time and no one was stressing out about doing laundry. Mud happens, right?

And that's what brothers are all about, too. Sometimes they're exactly what you need to get yourself out of the mud.

Unless, of course, it was a brother who pushed you in to begin with.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Someone Else's Boring Vacation Photos, Part One


It went well from the start:

Can you read the sign? Click to enlarge if you cannot. Yes. This is what bored big brothers on vacation do to helpless little sisters. When deprived of helpless little sisters to torment, big brothers do this to defenseless little brothers. See Luke Skywalker over there? He's trying really hard to be INVISIBLE.

Welcome to our vacation. This is last summer, and we start off at Lake Powell, this being Glen Canyon Dam. We waited 15 minutes to meet up with my sister and reclaim Screamapillar, who had flown down to LA to visit the week before. We waited 15 minutes TWELVE TIMES. If you do the math, yes, that is three hours. Long time to wait in that infernal heat. We love you anyway, Auntie Debs. Mostly because you took the Screamapillar away for a week.

We met up with Uncle Scopp (a nickname coined by Thing One at the age of two) in Williams for some good ole camping out. On lava rocks. At the Lovely Circle Pines KOA. Now, under normal circumstances I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS recommend camping in July in Arizona. Usually this would be a potentially fatal idea. But camping in Williams is highly recommended. It was NOT HOT. At least, not killer hot. Hot enough to want to go swimming, but cool enough to go hiking.

The reason we were camping on lava rocks is because of the volcano. Volcanoes are cool. Literally. The have awesome lava tubes you can hike into and they are about 50 degrees year round. Refreshing. I should clarify: DEAD volcanoes are refreshing. LIVE volcanoes are more like visiting Pheonix. Not recommeded.

We did a bit of hiking, and the people with short legs didn't enjoy it at first. Notice Eclair in the photo above. In need of an attitude adjustment.

In this photo, Thing One is liberally applying the needed attitude adjustment:

(and why do Eclair's shoes look like they have been chewed on by a dog? Because she likes them that way. You just try to take them away from her. I dare you.)

And in this photo, it appears to have worked:

See? It works. She is happy. That is a real smile. Enjoy it while it lasts.

There go the boys, hopping down the bunny trail. And look! another variation of THE HAND! from Thing Two. Big surprise. And the girls, awaiting them at the bottom, making sure they stay on the trail and follow the arrow left, instead of the more exciting, forbidden trail to the right. Good girls.

While the girls were sitting and waiting for the slow photographer, they made a friend: meet Mr. Bumpy. Hello, Mr. Bumpy. Goodbye Mr. Bumpy. It was a very brief friendship.

In this photo, the boys have discovered a lava tube. "Hither, thou foul females! We claim this dangerous cavern for ourselves! Go, forthwith, and find your own darn hole in the ground!"

"Come sister-cousin! We shall find our own glorious grotto, which we will decorate in hot pink and zebra stripes and deny our cruel brothers access!"

One of those lovely lava tubes does magic tricks. A very cool and enjoyable stream of air flows continually from this hole. Next to that dog-eaten shoe, Thing two is trying to levitate her guide book on the airflow...

AND IT WORKED!! TAA DAAA! Magical floating wapu-somthing guide book!!

And this, this was just cool. So I took a picture of it. Rock formed by water. Awesome.

And we went to the grand canyon, too. Can I tell you how much I love my polarizing filter? Very, very muchly. Ooohhh, pitty!

"Look, Eclair! A very big hole! Did you have anything to do with this?"
"No, Mama. I saw Thing Two do it. He made the hole."

Well, Thing Two sure did it this time. See the big rock behind Luke Skywalker's pasty heat-stroked head? The one that hangs out there in the middle of nowhere, where a fall would mean plummeting for a thousand feet before being smooshed on the canyon floor below?

Yeah, that's Thing Two, hiking out on the rock. Some German tourists standing next to us were quite alarmed. "Vee arr hoppy our boy is sleeeeping in the recreeeationul veeehicle. We would heete for heem to get any ideeeas from that naughty boy oot der."

Thanks for the extra gray hairs, son.

Alas, this post waxes overlong. So I leave you with the teaser for "Someone Else's Boring Vacation Photos, Part Two."

This is our party after our 2 hour hike on an unmarked, unlit trail into a very amazing lava tube, immediately before the incident that made this: THE MOST EPIC FAMILY VACATION EVER.