Thursday, December 30, 2010

15 Years

Fifteen years ago I married Papa Echo. We were fresh out of college and ready to get married after a 15 month engagement. He was and still is the love of my life.

Happy Anniversary!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ready in 3...2...1 !!!

Our house is full of excited energy. The kids are counting down the days until Christmas. I'm counting down the days until Papa Echo comes home. We are finishing up some last minute details and then we are ready!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Anthem by Leonard Cohen

Might be my new favorite song. I've linked to a video done on youtube.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Confession Time

I always tease Papa Echo about how "analytical" he is. I'll point it out during arguments, when I'm trying to have fun, and pretty much any 'ol time I think about it. I pretend I'm not analytical at all.

Confession time?

I'm pretty darn analytical too. I try to hide it... I try to hide my OCD issues also. Usually I'm pretty good at it. Until I get stressed. And then? My best coping mechanism seems to be lining things up. (pun intended)

I'm finding that I'm stressed this Holiday season. Papa Echo is gone. (If I haven't whined about that enough so far...) We always go shopping together, write cards together, (well, he is on the computer while I sit next to him addressing the envelopes) and pretty much do all the Christmas "stuff" together throughout the month of December. Knowing that 'that' wasn't going to happen, I have been stressed and with being stressed comes my OCD/analytical behavior.

I have all the Christmas cards done and mailed. I have all my shopping done (except for a few things) and some of it even wrapped. I have NEVER had presents wrapped early. I always wait.

Some would say that it's good that today is November 30th and I am this 'ahead' of the game. To me? It is just a reminder that I'm not dealing as well with this new job as I think I am. I'm doing my best and putting on a happy face, but this is hard. And that's the truth. I'm analytical and it's showing 'big time' right now.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we are staying home. Because I will be attempting to make dinner, I decided I better post on my blog today.

Things I am thankful for this year...

Papa Echo will be home. (assuming his flights aren't delayed)
My family is healthy.
We are all together.
Papa Echo has a job that he loves.
My kids are all in really good schools.
We have a wonderful place to live.
We have freedom to practice our religion.
We have the freedom to yell and scream about the TSA and other government monstrosities.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Life is good. Life is busy. I feel like I'm spinning around most of the time. Hopefully at some point I'm also getting things done. We'll see.

Jessica is loving Middle School. She likes her classes. Homework keeps her busy, but she is getting it all done.

Alyssa is loving her fifth grade class. She is in a class for "gifted and talented" students. The district is trying it as a full-time class for the next two years. For the first time, Alyssa is being pushed academically. She LOVES it. Her teacher also stresses critical thinking skills and again, Alyssa is embracing it all.

Jonathan is loving second grade. His teacher is wonderful and perfect for him. He just finished soccer for the year and is looking forward to playing baseball in the spring.

Papa Echo and I are trying to finish up the outdoor projects, (building a brick patio and replacing the fence) before winter comes. I don't think we will make it, but hopefully we'll be at a good stopping place.

So, that's life right now. Good and busy. As my grandpa would say... "staying busy keeps me out of trouble".

Guess I'm not getting into any trouble.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Poking "the man" with a Stick

I understand the frustrations of "additional TSA screening guidelines".

Our government is out. of. control.

But really?
Is this the best shirt to wear in front of people who can make you go through secondary screening? Are we not afraid of body cavity searches? Because, really? That's the only place left that TSA isn't looking.I am happy to report that Papa Echo made it through security with no problems. And if you want this same shirt? They are for sale here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!!
It is a beautiful night here and the kids are out trick-or-treating WITHOUT coats, gloves, hats, etc. It doesn't get much better than this.
Yesterday we went to the pumpkin patch and everyone found their own perfect pumpkins.
Jessica's creations
Jonathan's creation
Alyssa's creation
The kids plus two friends at a Halloween party last Wednesday. Jessica was a "ninja", Alyssa was a "lazy trick-or-treater" and Jonathan was a "clone trooper". (His mask was at home because it was a "no mask" party.)
Alyssa's final look for tonight. We found LONG lashes and lots of sparkles and make-up.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Weekend Plans

This weekend I'm joining Papa Echo at his annual company retreat. (For the North American team.) They pick a different place every year. And this year? We are going to .... drum roll please....



Okay then.

I guess that's cool if you DON'T ALREADY LIVE HERE.

But seriously, it's north of Missoula and will be gorgeous and wonderful and it's an expense paid weekend with my spouse. I'm pretty excited.

I'm also nervous. While I want to be a "social person" that visits and talks with everyone, I'm actually pretty shy and have a lot of anxiety about situations like this. (There will be about 30+ new people to meet.) I also don't have a clue as to what I'm going to wear. I've been shopping lots and lots and I'm still questioning my choices. I can't imagine anyone will care what I'm wearing, so it's a lot of anxiety for nothing. But, still.

I'm also frantically trying to clean my house. My wonderful mother in law is coming to watch the kids so I can go. Again, while I'm sure she won't care what the house looks like, I'm cleaning it as though she will walk through with white gloves. Really? Did I really need to spend the time cleaning out my closet? I'm insane. What I need to do is go clean the shower... because... she actually will see that. And I probably should vacuum again because I have two dogs that can't hold on to any of their fur.

Deep breath. I have a lot to still do. Maybe I should go shopping again.

Monday, October 18, 2010


My good friend Stimey reviewed a book called "Cowboy and Wills" by Monica Holloway. To do this book justice, you could just go here and ready Stimey's review. Go ahead, I won't mind at all.

Normally, I just delete emails asking me to review stuff. But, because Stimey liked this book so much, I was excited when I received an email asking me if I wanted it.

I read it and.... I LOVED this book!!

This is a memoir about a mom's journey through the beginning of her three year old son's diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder and the way their new puppy, Cowboy, helps.

I liked this book because I felt the author was really honest with how she parents and the things she does "right" and "wrong". As moms we are all just doing the best we can and we are all thrown curve balls at different times. Monica was able to write about an extremely difficult time, honestly and with a lot of humor. She is able to see the funny things in every situation. An admirable trait that I would love for myself.

"Sometimes it’s what you don’t know to hope for that saves you. For Monica, her husband, Michael, and their son, Wills, salvation came in the form of a puppy with pale blonde fur, chocolate brown eyes, a fondness for chewing the crotch out of underpants, and a limitless capacity for love."

This book made me laugh and cry and most of the time I did them both at the same time. Not very many books can draw me in like this one did.

And, good news for all of my blog readers!!! I was given two paperback copies to give away! So, just leave me a comment and I'll pick two winners out of a hat on Nov 1st.

Honesty Clause: I received three free copies of Cowboy & Wills. The paperback version sells for $15.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Jessica!!

My little "Baby Bear" turns 13 years old today! I can't believe it has been 13 years that I have had this precious child in my life. She is turning into a beautiful young woman and I absolutely love everything about her.

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jonathan and soccer

Jonathan has soccer practice two times a week. Because I'm usually running Alyssa to her soccer practice at about the same time, I'm not able to stay and watch. Today I arrived a little early for pick-up and was able to see him at work. Wow!! He is getting really good and a lot more aggressive. I've noticed that at the games, but it was fun to see it at practice also.

And? I learned boys like running around without shirts. The coach separated the boys for scrimmage and of course it was "shirts vs. skins". Jonathan was one of the skins and it made me laugh out loud the way they all stood a little taller and then jumped higher and were just plain more animated than the boys in shirts. Where do boys get this attitude? They ALL acted the same way. It cracked. me. up. And I loved it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm coming back... I promise

I will post again... but I have a cold. (said in a REALLY whiny voice)

And I've been busy with the start of school. (schedules? me? what? how?)

And I have a lot of projects to finish before winter starts. (we are thinking that happens in about three weeks.)

So, I'll be back soon... and hopefully not quite so whiny.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Days 16-21 of 21

Papa Echo joined me and the kids at Stimey's house Friday night and then Saturday we drove across Washington DC to Papa Echo's Dad's house in Virginia. After a day of visiting and eating Dim sum, Papa Echo, Jessica, Jonathan, Grandpa, and Grandma Patty went on another sightseeing tour of DC at night.

at the WWII memorial

On Sunday, Papa Echo had to fly back to Canada and we were on our way home. Before dropping PE off at the airport, we stopped at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum next to Dulles International Airport.
The space shuttle!! How cool is that!!

Jonathan was thrilled to be here!!

When we were planning this trip, and looking for a route home, Alyssa asked, "Can we go to Kentucky?" I asked, "Why? What's in Kentucky?" And she says, "I just like the way 'Kentucky' sounds and think it would be fun to go there." So, I look at the map and figured it would only be an extra 4-5 hours of driving and after going so far anyway....

We drove through, Virginia and stopped for the night. Then drove through West Virginia and then into....

We proudly present our very quick trip through Kentucky.
Even the lizards were glad we stopped by.

What do you do in Kentucky when you only have a couple of hours and then need to be on the road again? What if the kids are tired of museums? What would be something to do that would also represent the state?

Let's see, Kentucky = Kentucky Derby = horse racing = horses = horseback riding.

Yes!! The kids want to go horseback riding!! We have a winning idea!

Our guide did not understand that I needed to take pictures for scrapbooking documentation, and put me on a horse after Jonathan, so please forgive the "not so close-up" photos...

And then we kept on driving... and driving... through Kentucky, up into Ohio for a few miles and then to Indiana.... stopping for the night there.

And then we kept on driving... and driving... through Indiana, and through Illinois... and then into Iowa... stopping for the night there.

And then we kept on driving... and driving... through Iowa and into South Dakota and stopped for the night.

And then we drove through South Dakota, into Wyoming briefly, into Montana and we were HOME!!! We did it!!

One last photo op, though... At some point between Indiana and South Dakota... (I can't remember where) I was pretty tired of driving and needed to stop for a nap. We pulled into this neat rest area.
Good thing the kids took my camera to document me sleeping...

I absolutely LOVE my kids and am so glad we went on this wonderful adventure.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Days 13-15 of 21

We made the LONG drive through New York and Pennsylvania to Stimey's house!! On Wednesday, she drove us into Washington DC. The only thing we had to remember was where we parked and to go pick up her boys from day camp by 2:00. Done and Done.
I refrained from saying ALL the things I wanted to say in front of the White House.

Before I continue with our sight-seeing around our Nation's Capital... I would like to just say that where I come from, a mall is something that you go to and buy clothes, lotion, jewelry, and cheap/greasy food. With that in mind, Stimey asked me what I would like to see. And I say, "The Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial... things like that." She says, "Great, the mall is just over there." I say, "Okay? Um.... and maybe the Washington Memorial, and the Reflecting Pool? You know?" And she says, " Yeah, we just go down this way and we'll be at the mall". And I say, (still not catching on because I'm quick like that) " basically all the stuff you should see your first visit to DC....?" And then figuring that she is going to have us walk through Bath and Body Works on the way, I just followed her lead... Not sure at what point I finally asked the obvious, which was, "Oh.... the National Mall is not like a mall/mall.... okay...." Luckily I had a VERY patient tour guide in Stimey.

So, onto the National Mall walk/run. (We had to hurry because of the time constraint and all...)

The Washington Monument
Our fearless leader and tour guide, Stimey!!
Korean War Memorial (my favorite one there because it had the most emotional impact for me and the kids.)
My little troopers. They were good sports with the fast paced walk.
Lincoln Memorial
Vietnam Memorial
One thing to know about staying at Stimey's? She is a bad influence on kidlets. How can I compete with a mouse in a ball? The kids could have stayed watching and playing with the mice all day long!! And NO! WE ARE NOT GETTING ANY MICE!! I don't care what Stimey says...
Nature Center so close to where Stimey lives... one of the benefits of living in a real city.
Jonathan and Jack
Jonathan helping Jack put on a beekeepers outfit.
Quinn and Jessica watching frogs, I think...

While in Canada at the Discovery Center, we watched a movie called "Forces of Nature". It was about the "deadly effects of volcanoes, tornadoes and earthquakes."
About 5:00 am, I woke up thinking I had heard a big 'ol truck going past the house. Then I realized that it wasn't a truck, but an earthquake. And then it stopped. Jessica came hurrying into the room and said, "Mama, Mama, I think that was an earthquake." And I said, "yep, I think you're right". She says, "what should we do?". And I say, "Well, it's over now, so go back to bed." What are the odds of having a tornado in Billings in June and then an earthquake in Maryland in July?

Friday we went to the National Zoo. Once we got there though, Jessica became really pale and felt really sick. (She has a very sensitive stomach with traveling and if she isn't hydrated, it can turn ugly quick.) I stayed in the van with her while Stimey took Alyssa, Jonathan and Quinn into the zoo. After about an hour, I could see that Jessica wasn't going to feel well enough for the zoo and took her back to Stimey's.
Hero Stimey to the rescue!! Thanks so much for taking my kidlets into the zoo on the hottest day of the year and taking pictures so I can appropriately scrapbook our adventure!!
How can panda's be so stinkin' cute!!
Stimey distracting the kids with cotton candy from the heat.
GRRRR..... Alligators
I love the look of terror on Alyssa's face. She is a great little actress. And I should point out that only Stimey can get people to "pose" for pictures like this. It's a power that not many possess.

It was a quick trip to Stimey's, but we sure did have fun. Stimey was a WONDERFUL hostess and I hope we can return soon.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Days 9-12 of 21

After Papa Echo got off work, we drove to Toronto. On Saturday, we drove to Niagara Falls. On the way there, we saw this boat in the bay and just had to stop. Jonathan said he thought it looked like a pirate ship.

Then we spent the day at Niagara Falls, returning to Toronto for the night.
We took the tour underground where there was tunnels going behind the falls.
Breathtaking view!!

For Montana standards, Billings is a big city. It was good to have the kids see a true BIG city.
Jonathan and Papa Echo
We loved the paint job on this building.
Jessica took this picture. I love it!!
Jonathan and Papa Echo watching planes land.

Papa Echo flew back to work Monday morning, and I drove south back to the US. I learned that I need to work on my "poker face" going across the border. I wasn't even doing anything wrong, and my heart was racing and I was all sweaty. The border guard made me nervous when he asked me to take off my sunglasses. When he asked where my plates were from, I could barely stutter out Montana. When he asked what I was doing in Canada I squeaked out, "visiting my husband who's working here....". And, when he asked where I was headed, I gave a big, long explanation of what was still on the agenda for the trip. Oy!!! Not good at all... He probably just laughed as soon as I left.

One place I've always wanted to visit is Palmyra, New York. We stopped there on the way to Maryland. It was wonderful to go there with my kids and see my church and family history.
Smith Family FarmThe upstairs bedroom.
Hill Cumorah

After visiting Palmyra, we continued on our drive to Maryland, where my best friend Jean (also known as Stimey) and her family lives.

The kids were getting a little "punchy" on this part of the drive. Here are some pictures.

Alyssa tried to make the craziest face and hairdo.
Jonathan watched the Star Wars trilogy again and again and again and again...
Jessica keeping track of all the license plates she saw. The only ones that didn't count were the ones from the state that we were in right then. She found all the US plates except Hawaii.