Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Marriott Ranch Family BBQ

We were invited to go to the Marriott Ranch in Hume, VA. The kids were resistant to go, we were not sure what to expect and they thought they would be sitting in meetings most of the afternoon listening to ambassadors and general authority's from Salt Lake speaking. Well, none of that happened and within minutes of unloading from our car they were in cowboy heaven and didn't want to ever leave!
Those Marriott's know how to throw a party. They thought of everything down to every last detail and I am so glad we got to go. We arrived to a welcoming party that showered us with cowboy apparel. Hats and neckerchiefs were donned and we were off to enjoy the festivities. 
There was great food all around. Games for the kids to play. American Indian dances and square dancing to watch and be inspired by. Seriously a great time. Hope we can go again next year. 

 The miniature horse rides were a favorite, the boys loved it for a few spins around. But McCall didn't want to get off that wagon. She was pretty sure that they were there just for her. The gentleman that was driving was happy to let her ride around with him over and over again while they boys were long gone getting into a little mischief elsewhere. I don't even know how many rides she took. We finally lured her away with pink sand - who would have thought.
 The boys spent half the afternoon trying to learn to rope and they finally got it down - they could rope that face steer all afternoon - over and over again. Grandpa Gulbranson would be proud and they could probably do it to a real steer now - if it were dead and laying there real still. But they did get the basics down and it was fun to watch them put their minds to it and stick it out.

 The sheer joy of finally getting that rope around those horns. This boy was so proud of himself.

 I showed of my calf tying skills- which I didn't know existed! But I hogtied those two boys together quick as a flash and they couldn't get out. Wish I had thought of it earlier in the day and I wouldn't have been so exhausted from running after four kids!
 The boys all build pinewood derby cars and participated in races. They were not impressed when their sisters thrown together and pink to boot, derby car beat theirs. She didn't care, she just wanted her car back.
What a fun day in beautiful country surrounded by great people. This day made me miss the mother land, the ranch, the cows, the hay, the tractors, my family - I loved every minute of it. 
We ran into this rowdy crew up at the ranch. Elders who knew how to rope and ride and were happy to teach anyone who wanted - I hate to say that my boys monopolized their time, but as it turns out they did. But we felt like we deserved it - see that handsome cowboy second to the left? Well that is Elder Davie - he is from our Daybreak ward and he is (was) a great elder. This was the last time we saw him in the mission and now he is back home with his family after two great years in one of the best missions on earth. We miss him around these parts, but they are so happy to have him back home! Send us another one!


We must include the yearly jack-o-lantern carving that took place at our place. The boys are getting old enough to do most of their own carving - can I just say that is my favorite part of them getting bigger? It may be the only part I like ...
We had fun of course. The sad thing is not having a "Y" pumpkin this year. I nearly did it, but was to tired and decided without our neighbors and friends to deface it, hide it or decorate it in Ute apparel, it just wasn't as fun. Everyone here thinks we really like Yale and are graduates from there - sometimes I'm tempted not to correct them. But then if I spoke they would know immediately anyway ... it's a real dilemma. 

Fall 2011 in Virginia

I am absolutely in love with Virginia - I can see why people were willing to brave the seas, the illnesses, the depravity and utter unknown to live here. This really is one of the most beautiful places on earth. 

Pumpking Patch 2011

I have been a slacker these past few months, with little time to post and computer troubles that are ailing me I have fallen behind. But I think most of that is behind me, at least for the moment! I vow to catch up!

We visited a "local" farm last month to select our pumpkins and pick some apples so I could bottle apple pie filling - oh it is so yummy!
The kids were excited to go, even though we were literally there for 20 minutes and we were losing daylight quickly. They chose their pumpkins quickly from the few that were left, yes I procrastinated just about as long as I could on this annual tradition. Every time I thought I would be able to go something came up and it kept getting pushed back. But finally we headed out to the farm. It was so beautiful. Even the drives on the freeways are beautiful out here, the autumn leaves and foliage all turning different colors are stunning and I can't help but marvel at the scenery and it continually reminds me that God is real and that he must really love us to give us all this beauty. 

McCall was thrilled to find a pumpkin just her size that she could actually hold all by herself. She was the first to pick hers out. The boys had specifications that were very important - they had to be BIG!

Grandma was in town with us and graciously went with me to help with crowd control. Only we were the only ones there right before closing time, in the middle of the week and so close to Halloween - I may try to do that again next year!
We found this sign right as we were leaving, it is meant for farm accidents, accidents picking apples, accidental vehicle dents, etc. But as it was located right outside the bathrooms, we found it fitting to pose right before the boys used the facilities before heading home. They are a bunch of clowns - but I'll keep them!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Family Pictures

We had our family pictures taken out in Maryland and a beautiful farm. It was awesome - at least once we got there it was. The location was only 30 miles from our house so I left an hour and 45 minutes before our appointment because I was sure that would be ample time. Traffic was the worst I have ever seen it and it took us 2 and a half hours to get there! I was biting my fingernails, we were literally running out of daylight and I knew we would have a very limited amount of time to get our session done. Thankfully the kids were on their best family picture behavior and we were able to do it all in 25 minutes. With only 25 minutes I was thrilled with how they turned out. Phew!


Arlington National Cemetery is absolutely beautiful, inspiring, humbling and reverent. I absolutely loved it and can't wait to return. This will be a must see for any visitors coming to DC.
The cemetery sits on Robert E. Lee's estate. General Lee turned down President Lincoln's invitation to lead the Union troops after the state of Virginia decided to secede from the union. He was then made General of the Confederate Army. Lee was then regarded as disloyal by most of the Union officers and his property became a popular burial ground for Union dead. Lee never returned to Arlington.

 The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded day and night, rain or shine, hurricane or blistering heat by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. This guard has been maintained since July 2, 1937. Never has it been left unattended. It is considered an honor to be a guard here, the requirements are immense, and only a few are chosen each year. Everyone should take the opportunity to attend the changing of the guard, it was really neat.

 JFK's memorial was pretty inspiring here to. I pretty much love this place.

Mr. Smith goes to Washington ...

and he brought his family!
We were so excited to have Matt, Lisa and the kids come to visit for a long weekend. We have been friends forever - at least I think it has been that long! We love getting together and though several moves have spread us out over the years we still are able to see the Smith's. I have to say though, I am not happy at all that the kids are growing up so quickly. Kiana is as tall as her mom, and both her and Katy are way smarter than me. Tanner and Gage are two peas in a pod, watch out women of the world (in about 20 years), they actually took the time to compare girlfriends and share tips. AWESOME! McCall and Keilya just loved playing and catching rides on their daddy's shoulders. It was a great trip and so good to visit. Not sure when the last time I stayed up until 3:30 am just visiting and catching up. Oh how I miss those Smith's. Perhaps we will be Chicago bound soon to make a visit.

 I feel like I must point out that Lisa is tiny so tiny that I look huge, larger than I really am, but I do dwarf her, so that part is real.
 These two are hilarious together. They warmed right up to one another and enjoyed every second together. They were a hoot and I think they should have been brothers!

 The two "babies" of the families. Maybe in 30 years there will be a picture of them just like the one of Lisa and I above. If so, I'm going to tell McCall to sit down and try to look smaller :)

Thanks for coming out to visit Smith's, we thoroughly enjoyed you and all the fun we had!