Sunday, February 28, 2010

There's No Day like a Snow Day!

Tuesday morning at 6:59, Matt called from work to tell me it was snowing outside. I jumped out of bed excited to see our backyard turned into a marshmallow world, but was disappointed when there were only a few stray flakes falling from the Texas sky. Grumpy at being woken up before my alarm (which goes off at 7:00), I went back inside and started my day.

A few hours later, Matt surprised us when he came home and announced that the Army, which is always looking for an excuse to get out of work, released everybody for the day on account of the snow. "What snow?" I thought. "This just proves that the Army really is full of sissies." But then I looked out the window, and...

SNOW! Lots of it! There was probably a good few inches on the ground, and it was that good, sticky, snowman kind of snow, too.

From then on any plans I had made for me and Bennett that day went right out the window. We declared it an official snow day in the Hargrave home. We turned up the heater and made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, which Bennett stuffed himself with shamelessly. Then we all got bundled up and went outside for a little winter fun. Matt made snowballs, I made a pathetic little snowman, and I guess Bennett was still hungry after his pancakes because he ate more than his fair share of the white stuff.

Later that afternoon we went over to our friends' house for lunch, and then we all walked back across the street and relaxed with a movie and hot chocolate and a fire in the fireplace at our house. All in all, it was a pretty great snow day.

There was even a little snow still left on the ground the next morning (although Matt had to go back to work), and it stuck around in the shadows for a few days after that. By the weekend though, it was a sunny 65-degrees, and we had a BBQ with the missionaries in our backyard. We really do enjoy living in this bipolar state.

Bennett helping to lick the spoon after making chocolate chip pancakes. Yum!

We loved the snow. This was not the first time Bennett had seen snow, but it was the first time he really got to play in it. It was pretty fun watching him discover this new thing in his ever-expanding world.

And this is the truly pathetic snowman I made. It had apricot eyes, a baby carrot nose, a tomato slice mouth, and fruit loop buttons (we had to make do with what we had in the house at the time). Bennett ate everything off the poor guy except the eyes, which the three squirrels who live in our backyard gladly ate later. It was a sad end to a sad snowman.

This is not a very exciting video, but it shows the snow off nicely. WE LOVE SNOW!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hot Wheels

Matt has always wanted a motorcycle. In fact, he has owned several throughout his life, but has ended up selling them all for various reasons. Ever since we have been married he has been begging me to let him get one again. But because we are not exactly rolling in the dough, it was never a real possibility.

Enter the Askerlund family.

A few months ago we became friends with a couple down our street, who are also members of our ward. They are about our age and we do a lot with them....and they have two motorcycles, one for him, and one for her. This December, however, they welcomed the cutest little girl into their family, and all of a sudden that motorcycle of hers wasn't looking too used. So, because we were friends (and because they are very generous people) they fulfilled Matt's dream and sold him her bike for a ridiculously low price. Matt is in Heaven.

Gone, though, are the days of speed and risk-taking for my sweet husband. This motorcycle is "just another vehicle" (the very words of Matthew Wayne Hargrave) to be ridden to and from work in order to save hundreds of dollars on gas per year. And that's it. If the weather is not good, no bike. If the traffic is too thick, no bike. And he always, always wears his protective, reflective gear. Hell's Angel? I think not. But a happy boy, nonetheless. And I am happy too, because now I am getting a pink helmet so I can sit on the back. And that's what 's really important.

This is The Bike. It is in perfect condition. We are so lucky to have such great friends!

The protective gear. The Army actually requires Matt to wear a lot of stuff even the normal laws don't enforce. He also had to take a bunch of extra courses and tests issued by the Army to get his license. He will be a very safe rider.

As excited as we are for this new bike, there was one member of our family who would not get to feel the wind in his hair. And that is why for Valentine's Day--celebrated late, as with all holidays around here it seems--Matt got me a new pedal bike, something I have not owned since I was nine. And on the back of this fantastic new bike there is a child seat just for Bennett Boy. We went for a little test drive when Matt unveiled it to us, and Bennett loved the thing. Looks like we will have two needers-for-speeders around here.

Matt did the test driving. I actually didn't ride it with Bennett in it yet. I am not the best biker, and it scares me a that our defenseless little boy is now attached to me at all times. Yikes!

The rest of this week was a normal, if busy, one. Dinner at friend's houses, Activity Days, Scouts, babysitting, Enrichment night, feeding the missionaries, Jazzercise classes (I am joining a health club), speaking in church (Matt), singing in church (Me), starting our garden and front yard landscaping, etc.

We are very happy.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The three of us drove to Oklahoma this weekend to visit my brother Griffin, and his wife Ashland, and to help them fix up the house they just bought. My mom and dad were also there, and it was really fun to get to see everybody again so soon after Christmas.

First, a little background on the house. It is so cute, and in the nicest neighborhood. The only bad thing about this house is...well, the entire inside. The people who lived here before them were seriously lacking in cleaning and decorating ability, and didn't do any (and I mean any) upkeep on the property. on top of that, Griffin and Ash bought this as a foreclosure, and I guess the people who lived here before them figured anything they left behind or broke before they were kicked out was fair payback to whoever bought it. The structure of the home is in great shape though, so all it really needed was a little TLC. And that's where we came in

We arrived in Cleveland, Oklahoma Friday afternoon, and went straight to work for the next two days. I stripped golfing wallpaper off the master bedroom walls, flower wallpaper off the master bathroom walls, and fishy wallpaper off the main bathroom walls. I loathe wallpaper. And I think these people must have used Elmer's glue to put it up or something, because I lost hours of my life and more than one fingernail attempting to scrape this stuff off. Hooray for paint! I also washed more stuff than I care to recount, painted a few rooms (and a few of my clothes), scrubbed cupboards, pulled weeds, piled up garbage, etc....

As tired as I was at the end of all of this, Matt must have been a hundred times more so. He is truly amazing to me. When we walked in the door of the house he jumped into action and I didn't see him again until we got in the truck to go home. After it was all over, we counted up the projects he had worked on and came up with a list of seventeen different things he had fixed, built, or installed in the course of two days. What a stud.

It was all worth it though. By the time we left there was a morning and late afternoon difference. I can't really say a day and night difference, because there is still a long way to go. But the point is, it looks a lot better.

And we had a lot of fun doing it.

The house. It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and sits on about an acre of beautiful wooded land. So nice!

Griffin and Ashland, the happy homeowners. (No, Griffin does not always look that creepy.)

My dad, striking his usual pose as he paints the guest bathroom.

My mom, saying "Don't take a picture of me, I look so bad." (I think she is always pretty.)

Ashland's mom, Charlotte, getting down and dirty with the seemingly permanent grime.

Ashland's dad, Jeff (or "The Judge" if you are Matt) caulking, caulking, caulking forever.

Matt, installing a water purification system. This is about all I saw of him for two days.

Bennett getting in on the action.

And this is a picture that is just so ironic it hurts. If you have read the blog entry below, you know we had quite the time getting up here. Because of this, Charlotte and Jeff suggested we take a different way home. We got about 45 minutes down the road, and this is what we saw. Needless to say, it was a very long drive.

Congratulations on the new home to Griffin and Ashland!

A Near Death Adventure

Be prepared, I have a lot to say. Hopefully it is somewhat entertaining to you, but this is mostly for my own memory's sake.

Thursday afternoon Matt came home from work around three o'clock, and we headed out on what we thought would be an average road trip to Oklahoma to visit my brother and sister-in law (see above post). Wrong. The planned seven hour trip turned into a twenty hour, near death experience, which I will share with you now in long, dramatic detail.

The trip started out normally enough. Bennett was in his car seat surrounded by a canyon of suitcases, coolers, pack-n-plays, and Sunday suits. He thought it was great fun. Matt and I were eating pizza from Little Caesar's and listening to the fifth Harry Potter book on CD. Things were looking pretty good, but it was not to last. Around Waco, a mere 45 minutes from our home, it started to snow.

Now, let me pause for a moment to explain just how dramatic a thing such as snow is, here in Texas. It's not that it never snows, it's just that nobody ever plans on it snowing, and so when it does happen people are completely unprepared. The roads are not graded for cars and especially semi trucks to make it up anything even close to resembling a hill, and what's more terrifying, to make it safely down. There are no such things as road plows, road salt, red rock, or ice scrapers. Four-wheel drive is rarely heard of here. Snow tires and chains are never mentioned. And as a result of this complete lack of snow preparation, people are left completely to their own devices...and people are not always very smart.

In Waco, cars were going off the road left and right. There was probably about an inch of slushy snow on the ground at this time. I think people were just panicking and over correcting, because it really wasn't that bad. Traffic was pretty slow as a result of this though, and we were a little frustrated since we never went over thirty-five miles per hour until we hit the outskirts of Dallas.

And then it got worse.

If you watch the news at all, you know that Dallas received about twelve inches of snow last weekend. I imagine this is what Armageddon will look like here.

People went crazy. I have never seen so many cars off the road in my life. There was probably one every couple of feet, not even kidding. Police and ambulance lights dotted the darkness, and at one time I could see three different accident scenes while sitting in the same spot. I say, "sitting in the same spot" because we were. For a long, long time. As mentioned above, semi trucks cannot go up snow-covered hills in Texas, and we were behind about thirty of them, all spinning their wheels and not getting anywhere.

At this point, we had finished eating our pizza and I had washed it down with about a liter of Power Aid. Needless to say, I have never had to go to the bathroom that bad in my entire life before. And since we were going nowhere fast, I was getting rather grumpy about it. Finally, Matt cut the top off of one of the Power Aid bottles can guess the rest. I felt much better after that.

We tried to make the best of the situation. Matt got out and walked around a little in the snow (which was very deep by this point. I had to keep reminding myself we were in Texas and not Idaho), and Bennett got to get out of his car set, since I have never heard of a car accident happening at zero miles per hour. And we sang. Here is a small sample of us attempting to keep our sanity.

After sitting in the same spot for over an hour and a half however, even Bennett's cute antics could not entertain us, and we decided it was time to, well, be rude. Since we were hauling almost every tool we owned, we had decided to drive the big, safe, pickup truck from Idaho. Matt shifted that baby into four-wheel drive and started weaving between and honking at anything in our way, be it stopped cars, stuck semi trucks, or people who were going three miles an hour and had no business being on a road covered in snow. Lanes no longer existed at this point. Traffic regulations no longer mattered. Police were not a worry, since they were all occupied with cars off the road, and probably couldn't catch us in their ill-equipped vehicles if they tried. Free at last, free at last!

We were just coming up on the Texas/Oklahoma boarder line when we noticed the temperature on the windshield had dropped to thirty-four degrees...the magic number which equals ice. We had planned on stopping at a hotel just across the boarder anyway, since it was ten o'clock at night by this time, and it was obvious we were not going to make it the remaining distance before sometime in the wee hours of the morning. Bennett was already asleep in the back of the car. We were almost there.

And then it happened.

Even four-wheel drive is not oblivious to ice. We hit a pretty good sized patch going about sixty-five miles per hour, and the back of the truck swung to the right of the road. Matt over corrected, bringing the truck bed clear around to the left and causing us to slide sideways down the highway. The next part is a blur to me, but I know two things. One: that I am SO glad Matt was in the drivers seat, and two: that we are definitely being watched over. We hit the side of the road and dove into the snow, which caused us to swing in almost a full 180. I'm sure we would have either stopped or rolled at this point under normal circumstances, but it just so happened that we were on top of a very steep overpass, and went careening down it sideways. We skid all the way to the bottom, where we hit the ditch which lined the frontage road, and popped up over the top of it and onto the other side. At this point the snow, which was up to the sides of the doors, finally slowed the truck down, but Matt had the foresight to gun it forward and back up onto the frontage road before we got stuck. From there we cruised back onto the highway like nothing happened, except for the fact that I was shaking uncontrollably and Matt was a little in shock. Bennett was still sound asleep in the back, even though he was completely covered in the heavy bags and clothes we had piled around him.

We decided it was probably time to stop for the night, and quickly found a motel room in Denton, Oklahoma, where we all shared a bed and slept in our clothes, not bothering to unpack a single thing.

The next morning we got up and back on the road. Apparently Oklahoma has the good sense to actually keep snow plows on hand, and the going was much smoother from there on out. We passed many, many cars abandoned on the sides of the road, and one semi truck that was completely tipped over sideways. I am just so thankful we were not one of them!

This is the semi that had tipped. I had never seen this before.

I really do love the snow. It's very pretty when it's not trying to kill you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl, Baby!

We believe in keeping the Sabbath day holy. Most Sundays consist of us going to church, coming home, listening to quiet music, and eating a nice dinner. Maybe we will take a nap, or, if we are feeling really feisty, play a board game with friends. I cherish these peaceful, sacred days with my family, and look forward to them as the "period" at the end of my week.

But one Sunday a year, the "period" becomes an explanation mark.

Super Bowl XLIV was no exception. We invited over several friends (ironically all from our ward...including the Bishop's family and the first counselor's family), and prepared enough ribs to feed several neighborhoods. We personally decided to go for the Colts, because Matt likes the quarterback and I could care less who I root for. We dressed in blue, served food on blue plates, and trash-talked anybody going for the Saints. We were even mildly upset when the Colts lost by a landslide. Obviously the referees were paid off by New Orleans.

Next Sunday we will return to our quite routine, but this Sunday was one to remember.

Everybody that came brought food. I have never seen so many varieties of chips and dips in one place before. If the game wasn't good, the company and food made up for it!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bennett Update

Here's the latest with our cute Bennett-boy.

Bennett Wayne Hargrave
Age? 10 months old and just two more months until the big 0-1.
Weight? 21 pounds.
Height? 29'' long.
Wearing? Size 12-18 month clothes.
Teeth? Five, almost six. Two on the bottom, and three and a half on the top. Bennett is an excellent teether. We never know when he is getting a new one, it just appears one day.
Eating? Everything...literally. If it fits in the mouth, it has a good chance of being swallowed. Just ask the Styrofoam cup. Besides non-edible items, Bennett enjoys eating what we do, only cut up into smaller pieces. He washes it down with his sippy cup, and only nurses in the morning and night now. (He doesn't know it yet, but it will soon only be at night after the 16th. Time to wean!) Currently, we are working on getting the food from our highchair to our tummies, and not onto the floor. Lots of mopping going on.
Spit-up? NOT AT ALL!!! We are happy parents. The carpets will be cleaned shortly.
Digesting? Very well...a little too well. Results = frequent diaper rash. Poor boy.
Sleeping? 13 hours at night, three hours in the morning, and fighting the afternoon nap. Argh. Wish us luck.
Mobility? Understatement. Super-fast crawler, good puller-upper, "walks" holding onto a finger, the couch, the walls, anything that can be pushed (aka, his little table toy), and occasionally my leg.
Verbalizing? Oh my, is he. "Mamamamamama" and "Dadadadadada" are among his favorites. Also "baowbaowbaowbaow." He must stick out his tongue when speaking. These words are used in yells, screeches, whispers (hilarious) and conversational tones.
Playing? well with others. Also plays well by himself, as is evident from the above video. Finds great joy in emptying things, such as my bathroom drawers, the kitchen drawers, and the dishwasher. I will put this last one to good use as soon as possible.
Cuddling? Every night. He is just the right size for loving. :)
Ticklishness? Yes. Under the armpits, the sides, the bottoms of his feet, and between the shoulder blades.
Cute? We think so.

Babysitting...a lot of it

It has rained everyday this week. Not such a bad thing, but when you throw three to four mischievous little boys running, toddling, and crawling around a tiny house, a whole week feels like a long, long time.

Don't get me wrong, they are good little guys. Just busy, busy, busy! My days have been filled with kissing owies, changing diapers, watching cartoons, making lunches, stopping fights, wiping tears, wiping noses, wiping spills, putting kids down for naps, cleaning up toys, putting shoes on, taking shoes off, and speaking in a language that only the mother (or babysitter) of small children would understand.
"No no."
"share, please!"
"sippy sippy?"
"Oh, you got a boo boo?"
"That's a quack quack."
"You feel the coco?" (anything soft is a coco in our house now.)
"Don't touch that please, don't touch that please, don't touch that please...don't touch that!"

My house is filled with little boy toys. Cars, trucks, trains, planes, guns (not real ones. Not even toy ones. I swear, a little boy can turn anything into a gun), zoo animals, play dough, balls, etc. For eight hours on Monday and six hours every other day of the week, it has been chaos! But it has been a good kind of chaos.

Along with the craziness has come a lot of sweet moments. A lot of laughing and hugging and cuddling. Bennett has benefited greatly from all this socialization too...and has been toughened up quite a bit in the process. All three boys are good friends, which is funny because they range in age from 10 months to 3 years. It is fun to watch them learn from each other. Caden (the oldest) has taught Jace (1 1/2 years) to climb on top of the table. Something I am not thrilled about. Jace has taught Bennett that he can hold onto movable items and "walk" around the house if he uses them for balance.

Overall, it's a great job for everyone. Bennett gets to play, I get to make a little extra money, and Matt's happy because I am now reconsidering how close I want our children in age. :)

The boys. Some days there's more, some days there's less. It's always an adventure.

Jace, giving Bennett a hug and kiss. This is one of his favorite things to do lately, and some days I have to stop him for fear of Bennett's breathing ability.

Jace and Caden, posing for the camera. They really are good little boys.