**Warning: An entire week long trip in one painfully long post. With lots of pictures. Don't say I didn't warn you.**

This last week we headed to Oregon to a family reunion/90th birthday of Derek's Aunt Hallie. It was going to be the longest road trip we've ever taken with Hyrum so we were nervous and borrowed a portable DVD player for sanity reinforcements. We figured we'd use it a lot since he can't go for the 4 hour drive to Grandma and Grandpa's house without needing someone in the back to entertain him. And this was going to be nine hours the first day then 5 or 6 the next. Luckily we were caravaning with Cousin Brei and every time we'd stop Hy would have cousins to run with. When we met at her house on Tues morning she presented Hyrum with a magic marker coloring book ( you know the ones that only write on the special paper-BRILLIANT!) and even a plastic bag to keep all the markers in. It was seriously SOO nice of her to think of Hyrum and when we eventually got it out he LOVED it. We headed out on the road with our huge nationwide road atlas we have been dieing to buy. We busted out our walkie talkies to communicate between the cars and when we saw Brei stopped on the side of the road WAY back there we decided that we should have tested them before we left. And as it turned out one of ours had been fried and wasn't holding a charge. BOO! But luckily she had a set and they worked beautifully. Poor Brei had a sweet little boy in her car with a very quesy stomach. But by the end of the day he was feeling better. All the while Hyrum was traveling like a CHAMP!

Never even gave us much trouble after stops getting back in the car...as long as we were offering crackers. We stopped a little more than half way at a friend of Brei's house. There we were greeted with tons of fun kids to play with a pool and new toys. Hyrum was IN HEAVEN! He wanted nothing to do with the pools much to my dismay but he did discover the joys of water guns
....and swim goggles
Not only did these angels provide us with fun and friends but they also provided us with food! A amazing spaghetti dinner was served as Hyrum terrorized Brei and a Batman action figure that he saw fit to send for a swim or to sleep with the fishes...we can't be sure.

It was after nine when we got to the hotel and we thought for sure Hyrum would drop. But this was his first time staying in a hotel and as soon as he got into the room he giggled as he ran around and jumped on the beds and requested crackers. He turned on the TV and Night in the Museum was on. He really liked the dinosaur part. It took a lot of snuggling and singing to get him down for the night.

The next day we were off to the coast. To this point the landscape looked little different than Utah or Idaho but as we began the second leg of our trip the landscape began to change and greenify. This was from our first rest stop in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area which is along the Lewis and Clark Oregon trail.
Again another amazing travel day for Hyrum. As long as there were trucks, trains, diggers, "fans" ( energy producing windmills ) and boats he was a happy boy. When he got tired of the scenery he entertained himself with the coloring book. We intended to make the DVD player a last resort because I knew that as soon as we got it out we'd never be able to put it back away and we weren't even tempted to get it out. After lunch in Portland it wasn't long before we saw this...BEAUTIFUL!!! Just beautiful! It's what dreams, movies and books are inspired by.

We finally found the beach house that the family had rented as Family Central for the reunion after a tour through greater Cannon beach.
A short walk down the road from the house was this...
We watched as family gathered from all over the world. Korea, Alaska, Ohio, Texas, Utah, and we again met people that we'd never met. It was a wonderful reunion and again it felt more like catching up than getting to know.
There were 40 people there for the festivities ( 10 of which I'd never met previously and Derek had met only three of the 10 once when he was very young) It was a joyous gathering of family. There were few who were not there and their absence was felt keenly.

Every meal was had together by everyone staying at the beach house or not. It was a huge undertaking to feed 40 people for breakfast lunch and dinner but we really ate good!

We took Hyrum to get checked in to the hotel before we ate dinner in the hopes that it would lessen his excitement when we went back to the hotel to go to bed. But after 9 pm came and went and as we watched him run laps around the kitchen and the length of the dining room we were not encouraged.

And he seriously did it for probably 15 to 20 minutes straight. Derek's cousin Kris who has down syndrome was especially taken by Hyrum and they had fun as Hyrum did his laps.

When we finally got back to the hotel after 10 The night at the museum was on again at exactly the same spot. Hyrum began to think that's just what is on the TV at hotels. :)

The next day when we got to the beach house Ayrel, Brei and a couple of the kids wanted to go down to the beach.

Tell me does this look familiar to any of you children of the 80's?
This was right where we stayed but you are more familiar with it being seen from Astoria...hint hint.

It was such a beautiful misty morning. But as we walked and explored

the mist lifted revealing beautiful blue skies!

After lunch came the excursion that Derek had been looking forward to since we got the list of events. A trip to the Tillamook cheese factory!

Hyrum and Aubrey our youngest tour guests stopped at the farmer and cow cut outs before beginning our tour of the factory. I guess Hyrum gets his desire to be a farmer from me.
Then we saw where they process the cheese into those delicious little packages we love so much. Hyrum was in heaven. That he gets primarily from his Dad.

They even have a rabbi on staff to check their Kosher cheese. Humm I never even knew there was such a thing.

Then came what everyone had been waiting for...the TASTE TESTING!!
I think Hyrum really liked the cheese!
After our tour and taste testing we decided to stop on the way out to get some Tillamook Ice cream. That must be something they only sell there because I'd never heard of Tillamook Ice cream. I couldn't decide on just one so I got a three flavor sample bowl. Peanut butter and chocolate, blueberry cheese cake and black cherry ( the worker suggested it). It was DELICIOUS!
That night after dinner was the birthday party complete with games.

Boys vs Girls in "Hallie facts" with a few Ringers on each team deemed too knowledgeable to be on their own team

We won't go into who won but let's just say the best women won. :) After that was singing songs that she loved and then a question and answer portion where we found out a little more of what it was like when Kim ( Derek's dad) joined the family. Very sweet story! Brei, do you have that recorded?

And there was cake!
And there were kisses for the birthday girl!
Happy Birthday Hallie! Let's go for 10 more!!
On the last full day at the coast we arrived too late to catch the hikes out to the tide pools so I made the traditional fudgies... ( I try to make these every time the cousins get together)
while Hyrum elected Aunt Pam as his play mate. He came over to her and insisted that she go down the stairs with him. He took her out to the yard and sent all kinds of things up and down the slide. ( One of which was himself ) They played in the little play house and on the ball swing. They played for hours as guests for Aunt Hallie's birthday brunch arrived. It warmed my heart to hear them give a play by play of Aunt Pam and Hyrum's adventures as they laughed at his persistance, failings and successes. It amazed me that others enjoyed watching him as much as I do. I wish I would have gotten pictures. But it remains one of the most heart warming moments of our time there. Thank you Cousin Pam.

Derek still had not been down to the beach for any length of time so we decided to take a walk down the beach before the beach games and kite flying began. I couldn't stop taking pictures of my boys.

Hyrum hated the water. We planned for water obsession buying him a life jacket ( he's not to the swimmies stage yet) and a bunch of swim diapers that we never used. But then again who can blame him with the water being as cold as it is here on the Oregon coast. But the frigid water didn't keep my other boy from diving in.

Meanwhile on the beach Hyrum and his cousins made sand castles and flew kites. And ate sand.

That night we had a bonfire on the beach where we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.
It was a fabulous ending to a fabulous vacation.

The next day after a lot of family pictures we headed off into the sunrise. We were going to see if we could make it back without stopping this time. We knew it would be the biggest test for Hyrum. As soon as we got out of town and on the open road he promptly fell asleep.
Again he amazed us by traveling beautifully. It wasn't until 10 that night when we'd entered Idaho and pretty much decided that we were in fact going through that he started to get grumpy because he was tired. We didn't want him up at the crack of dawn if we were going to be getting in at 4:30 in the morning so we busted out the DVD player and that kept him awake and happy until 1 in the morning when we let him go to sleep. We kept ourselves awake with Dr Pepper and testing ourselves on the state nicknames, population and land mass rankings. We're not as young as we once were because it took us a few days to recover.

Something I rediscovered on this trip is the beauty of a road trip. I guess I've been flying too much lately; too much in a hurry to get there and get back. You miss things. Seeing the landscape change and amazing vistas...
But not only that. You miss quaint villages , Indian reservations, roadside historical markers, scenic byways, roadside fruit stands and slices of local color. For example I was dieing to see what the Redneck Cafe was like. You really get to know the culture of the area. Catch this conversation that Derek and I had driving past a fruit stand on a state highway.

"What? Come on...Low Cal berries? These silly Oregonians and their low cal every thing. I'm pretty sure berries are naturally low cal enough." I say rolling my eyes

"Where did you see that?" Derek asks

"Back there on a sign at that fruit stand."

" You mean the one that said local berries?"

Come on! You can't get that kind of humor on a plane! Man sometimes I swear I'm so dumb. But we've been making lists of day road trips we want to have in the near future. We're addicted!

Yesterday Derek was grilling our Sunday chicken dinner on the grill and Hyrum of course wanted to be outside with Dad. He was playing by one of our still present random poles that stick out of our concrete "patio" All of a sudden he began to scream and cry. We scooped him up and brought him inside as he pulled at his ear which was swelling rapidly. "Yellow...bug! Yellow...bug" he cried as we tried to comfort him. Poor little man! A wasp had stung him on his ear and finger.
Can you see how much bigger his left ear was compared to his right?

Derek, trying to make him feel better was indicating how he would smoosh the bug dramatically with an angry face, grunt and a huge STOMP.
It of course made Hyrum feel much better, and later on when we were at a friends house as Hyrum played with the kids he'd randomly say "Bug" then grunt and stomp his foot very dramatically. :) I wish I could have gotten a video. :) He's such a cute little man. But now there's one more reasons to get RID of those blasted poles!

There is a little local newspaper that comes by every other week that we have really liked. We're in no man's land Springville ( remember we're living in the wild wild west) and didn't feel connected to Springville or the other two cities that are minutes away. But when this little paper came it talked about the goings on in all three cities. It made us feel connected to all of them. We ( ok more me) loved reading it and especially the gardening section. The paper was turning one on Derek's birthday and they were giving away prizes in celebration. All you had to do was email the lady telling her what you'd be interested and you were entered. I was fairly sure that we had a good chance of winning since there were probably not very many people that enjoy it and read it as much as I do so I entered. I also wrote some glowing complements of the paper and thanked the advertisers for supporting the paper ( and making it FREE) and letting us know what businesses are in the area. About 45 minutes later I get an email from the editor asking to use my comments in the paper. I laughed and said sure, thinking that they were collecting a lot of glowing comments about the paper and publishing them on their year anniversary. I was sure that my comments would be lost in a sea of other comments. When the paper came I saw this...
Yeah that bottom half of the page...That's ALL ME!!

I laughed so hard! I have to say that I was a little embarrassed. But we won movie tickets too. :)

When we got The Foothill Breeze again this week I discovered that THEY PRINTED IT AGAIN!! Oh my!

Hyrum's friend Addie for the past few months has been tending to her stuffed animals. She feeds them and then wipes their mouths she puts them to bed and even has them go potty. I watched all of this wondering if Hyrum would ever do anything like this. I decided he probably wouldn't since he's a boy but he's proved me wrong

The other day when i was weeding the garden he comes up to me and says "baby" holding out a rock in his hand. "Oh" I said " is that your baby rock?" to which he replied "bed" "Oh your baby rock is tired and wants to go to bed?" "yes" And he starts heading for the house.

He walks right into his room tucks this little rock into a blanket kisses it and then climbs in bed with it. Then he looks at me and says "book" ( he always gets a book to go to sleep with) So I read them both a story and at the end Hyrum has lost his "baby" so we go outside again to weed and he comes to me with a bigger "baby rock" and the same scenario repeats. This time finding his first baby while he's tucking his bigger baby into bed. And many more rocks have since made thier way into the house under Hyrums care.

Kissing the little "baby"

Kissing the bigger "baby"

Admiring his "babies" ( I love that you can still see his kiss marks)

Blurry tucking them in and reading them books

So I guess boys still do the "mothering" thing. They just do it with rocks.

There's nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer. - Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle

I call this picture "Waves of grain and purple mountain Majesty above the fruited plain" I know this is kind of random in a post about the 4th of July but it's patriotic. At least the song is. :) This wheat is growing in my back yard. The previous owners lost some of their food storage wheat on their way out and come spring we saw something sprouting out of it. We figured it was just grass or something. But one day we discovered that it was very much wheat! We NEVER watered it it got snowed on multiple times but our little volunteer wheat just plowed through it and grew like a champ. Which got me thinking. Why don't people grow wheat in their gardens? I totally want to grow some on purpose next year. Derek thinks I'm crazy. I should have been a farmer.

So for the 4th we decided to go up to Idaho last minute because we hadn't been up there since ...um...LAST 4th of July. Pathetic! One of our reasons for going up was that Hyrum was getting some crazy hair and needed a haircut.

Derek got his first haircut (and many subsequent haircuts) from a man named Herb Shurtliff in Idaho Falls and this man has cut the hair of three generations of the family but I didn't think to have him give Hyrum his first haircut. My dear mother-in-law had made an appointment for Hyrum with him for the day we went up there last year but didn't tell us so we got his first hair cut by someone else the DAY we went up to Idaho. Someone has to tell me these things!! I'd felt so bad about it that I wanted to make sure he got an official Herb haircut and we'd just pretend it was the first. Unfortunately he was playing with grandma's MANY trains and tripped and fell on the train and gave himself the beginnings of a black eye.

But he still gave us a show of his muscles on the way to the barber shop

Hyrum continues to prove that injuries just make you look tough.

After a few pleasantries and a switcho chango from Dad to grandma's lap we got down to business. He was soo good with Hyrum. He had Hyrum turn on the clippers so he could feel the vibration and had Hyrum hold on to the cord.

It worked for awhile...

But then the tears came

Hyrum must have wanted it to be an authentic first hair cut. Tears and all. But I'll take it when the end result is this...

I absolutely LOVE his haircut. It almost makes me want to drive all the way up to Idaho for every haircut he gets. SOO cute! ( and yes the curls are still very there )

We had some fireworks at home after a long day of playing which Hyrum loved and wanted more of. The next morning we got up early and headed to the parade.

We just happened to sit down (by the kindness of strangers) next to the Arnells', the family of one of Derek's friends from high school. It was good to see Chris, Caleb & Mykaela and fun to see the parade.

But we both had obligations at church the next day so we had to come back before the fireworks. All too soon we had to leave. But we were glad we made the trip even if it was short.

Hyrum immediatly fell asleep in the car exhausted from playing with grandma so hard. I'm sure she did the same after Hyrum left. We let him sleep a half an hour and woke him up. After miles and miles of Hyrum asking for friends and fireworks we talked to some other friends that had invited us to spend some time on the 4th with them. We stopped in Kaysville for some fireworks and fun.

They were having a carnival before the fireworks and Hyrum wasted no time playing hard some more.

He was a little hesitant as he climbed in the bouncy castle

but figured it out fast!

Sadie Jenkins is one of Hyrum's oldest friends. I guess they were just destined to be friends because her parents and us are friends and her mom and I were pregnant at the same time. Since I was a first time mom and full of questions and Jenn was a third time mom and would answer them and since we were due a week and a half apart we betrothed them while they were in utero. They didn't hit it off right away but they've become fast friends over the years.

He was a bit hesitant at the top of this ride but Sadie would gently nudge him towards the edge. They had so much fun together. One woman actually asked me if they were twins. :) I took that as a compliment because she is aDoRaBle!

Sadie wasn't with us once when we went to this ride and Hyrum, hesitant at the top, got some help from a little boy he didn't know and ended up on his face.

He wouldn't go ANYWHERE without her after that. We'd be walking to another ride and he'd stop and say "Sadie! Sadie Sadie" until we went and got her.

We really are just joking when we talk about them actually getting married someday but when we see things like this we think...maybe.

After he kissed her on the cheek she stood there with an adorable starry eyed grin on her face. Soo cute!

After the Carnival we went back to our blankets and did some sparklers. We were hesitant to give a flaming stick to our crazy son and he did have it heading towards his mouth once but we let him experience this staple of childhood under strict and vigilant parental supervision.

After that there were snacks and every kind of glow stick imaginable. Necklaces, braceletts ( 2 kinds- not colors...kinds) barettes and earrings. Did you know they made that many incarnations of glow stick? Neither did I, but we decided to make it a 4th of July tradition.

Then the real fireworks began! They were set to music. So much so that when they lost the speakers they stopped the fireworks until they got the music back to where they stopped and then continued them. What was really funny was that when the music went off suddenly the lyrics to the song continued til the end of the phrase. I had no idea so many people sang to the fireworks.

About half way through the fireworks Hyrum stood up and walked over to where the Jenkins were. He laid down with them and ended up snuggling between Jenn and Carter ( their oldest).

Molly( their middle) came over with us for a bit but that didn't last long. Everyone loves the Jenkins...so do we! Everytime we hang out with them we wonder why we don't do it more often. We wish they lived closer.

The drive home was long and late but worth it. Who needs sleep anyway! :)