Monday, December 26, 2016


Me the week before Christmas.  Stomach flu.  Working late.  Deserted, dark house with wonderful husband and happy children already fleeing south to warmer weather.  Tons and tons of ice mixed with snow.  And then that horrible night the furnace broke. 

I needed Greg.  I really needed Greg.    

This old house is falling down around my ears 
I'm drowning in a river of my tears 
When all my will is gone you hold me sway 
I need you at the dimming of the day 

You pull me like the moon pulls on the tide 
You know just where I keep my better side

I see you on the street and in company
Why don't you come and ease your mind with me
I'm living for the night we steal away
I need you at the dimming of the day 

-Alison Krauss, "The Dimming of the Day"

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

November to December

#1 - Arrow of Light #2

Andrew graduated from Cub Scouts last month, finally getting his Arrow of Light. (Pictures are all fuzzy with bad lighting)  We were delighted with Andrew, but not nearly as delighted as Bubbs and Pretty Girl were about the cupcakes afterwards.  

Usually boys graduating from Cub Scouts into Boy Scouts walk across a set of steps - signifying the advancement.  They don't do that in Idaho.  Up here, you ride a horse.  Across a dark and scary field.  I was kind of freaking out about Andrew and the whole cast thing while being on top of a horse.

He survived.

And now Wednesday nights are joyous!  My two oldest boys take off to Young Mens and 11yr old Scouts.  There's something very unifying and humbling to see them leave and come home together.   

#2 - Manla Family Update

We found out middle of November that the Manla family's 6 month lease on their apartment was ending.  I felt desperate and helpless because of my limited knowledge of the area and language barriers towards assisting.  We kept in close contact with their social worker, enlisted our ward to look for housing and said a lot of prayers.  Somehow this last point was especially touching to Asmaa.  Faith has always been a common thread between us, a subject where almost no language is needed at all.

I've known the Arabic phrase, Inshalla most of my life, but I've never pondered it with such introspection as I have these past months.  I think about Asmaa and everything she's endured.  She's prayed for things to get better, and in most cases, they haven't.  If I could speak Arabic fluently, I would ask if she's ever found herself begging for God's will to be her will.  Or if she's already accepted what people like me dread facing - that my will means nothing.  

The Wednesday afternoon we found out they'd been accepted into secondary housing was the highlight of my week.  I've never been so happy to help someone move.

Hajar (pictured above) is carrying Asmaa's pepper tree.  Amongst their meager positions, I was touched to see Asmaa faithfully maintaining a pepper bush and a lemon tree - each in their own bucket, even though she has no permanent ground to plant them.  

#3 - Swimming Continues

James' Thanksgiving Invitational was his best swim meet yet.  He finally has his flip turns down and he slashed his 50 yard sprint to 36:40!!  

PS - his abs have become ab-alicious! (but don't tell him I said that).  

#4 - Campout

James and his scout group spent the second weekend in November at the Roystone Hot Springs - north of Boise.  We heard nothing but amazing stuff about the weekend - much to the dismay of Andrew who couldn't go because of his cast.  

#5 - Pretty Girl

Pretty Girl participated in her 3rd grade Freedom Festival on November 8th - very timely.  My camera got lousy photos, but that's her standing tall in red and blue on the stage.  

To get through the crazy election night that followed, we spent time making fun of the media (particularly Rachel Maddow) and playing what our president-elect calls, "the greatest game ever made".  

The sewing obsession is still going.  I absolutely love this pink kitten hat with sleeves she made last month.  I asked her if she'd make Mom one as a hippopotamus (mom's favorite animal) for Christmas.  She said she'd think about it.   

#6 - Chess Club

Early in the year, Andrew joined his school's chess club.  I think it's brilliant because it's fine tuning my son's excellent mind to think more subtly and forecast strategy.  It's also devastating because he completely ruins me in 3-4 moves.  

But I'm most grateful for this club because it's kept my son busy while his arm heals.

He's planning a balance routine in the spring between more chess club and joining his school's running team.   

#7 - Greenbelt Walks       

My work is nestled right across from Ann Morrison Park in downtown Boise and I take a lot of walks along the adjacent Greenbelt during my breaks.  It's one of my favorite parts of the day.

Boise is inundated right now with Canadian Geese.  I found out that Boise, Idaho is the designated "south" for the geese, which is of course ludicrous.  

If I were a goose, I would keep flying south .  

At first we thought they were all cute and precious.  But 100 quickly turned into thousands, and now there's literally a bazillion Canadian Geese walking around here -  clogging the roads, the pathways and the river - leaving green droppings in such abundance that I almost have to tiptoe constantly on my walks.

The other day I was startled as I crossed the bridge to see a heron fly right in front of me.  There's a refuge for them in Eagle.  I've passed it a couple times on my bike, but I've never stopped to take a closer look.  They are elegant - lovely and serene.

If their sanctuary pans out, maybe they'll get rid of the geese.           

#8 - Cold Weather Mornings

Mornings here are chilly - even in the summer.  And now they're especially cold.  When the kids are doing their AM reading and math, I can usually find them hanging out by the fireplace.  It's a sweet scene.  

#9 - Caldwell Christmas Lights 

According to a random website I happened to pull up en route, Caldwell's Christmas lights are ranked #4 for the best Christmas lights in Idaho.  And truly, we were impressed!  Caldwell is a small town northwest of Boise - almost completely agricultural.  The downtown is quaint, with a lovely river down the center and lots of footpaths.  On the whole, however, there are very few businesses.  Which meant when we were done seeing the lights and wanted hot chocolate, there was only 1 establishment offering hot beverages to patrons - Caldwell's downtown bar.  

We drove home instead and I made popcorn. 

Next week we're planning to see Idaho's #1 Christmas Light attraction.  Stay tuned...  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Grand Tour

I can't believe I've neglected this one. 

Ladies and Gentlemen... the McKinnon household was set on fire (figuratively speaking) at the beginning of October with the release of The Grand Tour trailer -

At last!!  The massive drought we've felt since the loss of Top Gear had finished!  This trailer meant we had a release date, some shots of the cars, and and AND... James and I absolutely love the KONGOS song they selected for the preview.  We've been biking to it all summer.

(Seriously, try it.  It has massive cadence power.)

The signs all pointed to epic.  But even if it wasn't, we were still elated.  It is so good to see Clarkson, Hammond and May once more.  The McKinnons have missed you.  

The Grand Tour has officially begun!! 

And on that bombshell.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Another Sneak Peak

I'm not a fan of official school photos.  I've rarely had good ones.  But this year was amazing - a welcomed reprieve from the disaster of family photos.

We'll keep these ones.  

Thursday, December 8, 2016

More Unmaking

“Love will not stay locked inside, a steeple or a tower high.
Only when we’re broken are we whole.”  -Nichole Nordeman

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

When you have 2 birthdays and Thanksgiving all in the same week, dinners can become monstrous affairs compounded into multiple days in a row.  

Early in November, Greg got an email from Tucanos restaurant advertising their Thanksgiving dinner.

And we knew were staying home this year.  No relatives.  No company for dinner.

Why not?

So we cheated.  We killed 3 birds with 1 stone.  And that stone was 9lbs of meat, grilled pineapple, cheesy potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls and pumpkin pie.  

We made nothing ourselves.  Except a salad.    

I felt almost blasphemous.  

We spent the rest of the day watching Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, Lord of the Rings, Sesame Street - all while playing lots of Uno, chess, Life, and garbage.  

That night we went to the McCauley's house for leftovers and pie.  Jim and Arlene McCauley are an angel of a couple who invited us over for dinner the first month we moved to Eagle.  They have 6 or 8 (I can't remember) children - all now married with children - and scattered around Idaho and the northwest.  2 of them are in our ward.  So when Christmas cards went out last week, I was not surprised to see "McCauley Family" on at least 3 of the 150 envelopes.   

We were lazy the day after Thanksgiving too - eating more leftovers and sleeping in.  

By Friday night I felt so sluggish I decided I needed to start early training for my next road bike race.   

I haven't started yet.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Eleven and Six

There's a Simpsons episode where Homer and Lisa are arguing over the Bear Tax and Homer tells Lisa, "Well anyway, I'm still outraged."  This is Andrew.

My moral compass of a son has carried his absolutism into his eleventh year.  Although I confess it's getting harder to stump him.  This kid knows no fear.  Like this past fall when - again, to his outrage! - he discovered his Grandpa visiting a Vote-for-Trump campaign tent at a local fair.  The boy marched right up to the volunteers and told them exactly what he thought about Trump and his disgust with the whole presidency.  We're proud of him - with a mixture of embarrassment and shock. 

We have a long way to go in teaching him tact.   

Andrew's baby song will always be Celine Dion's Miracle.  My wonderful aunt gave me the album a few weeks post hospital and I cried the first time listening.  It captured so perfectly all those tender postpartum and newborn emotions, particularly after a miraculous pregnancy.  Precious years.  

And I'm overwhelmed with happiness.  So blessed to hold you close.  

Two sons.  Born 5 years and 1 day apart.  Apparently I'm really fertile in February.  

I told Bubbs so many times this past year to turn 2 or 3 again instead of turning 6.  He wouldn't listen to me.  I even told him I cant carry him much longer if he turns 6.  He laughed.  Because he knows I'll keep trying to hold him regardless.  

Mom only has one hope for him before he turns 7 - Get off the dang training wheels!!

Carly Simon's, Julie Through the Glass is Bubbs' song - even though it's technically about a girl.  And it doesn't really matter because every time he hears me singing, I substitute his name for Julie.

I love these sweet lyrics because of my frame of mind when he was born.  When observation and experience finally let me fully enjoy a baby with minimal worries.  Plus going through a pregnancy where I was bewildered over the identity of this little guy.  Wondering how he fit and why he was chosen for us.  This song captures some of that "newness" I felt when we first held him.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

"When it's dark and it's cold and I can't feel my soul, 
You are so good.
When the world has gone gray and the rain's here to stay.  
You are still good.

So with every breath I take in, I'll tell You I'm grateful again.
And the storm may swell, even then it is well.
You are good."  

-Nichole Nordeman

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Halloween 2016

Some crazy person who's a friend of a friend of mine (not my friend) told me that Halloween is evil.  She said it's all witchcraft, pagan worship, devil promoting propaganda.  I told her nonsense.  

She told me to repent.  I told her baloney.  

True story.

We will always and forever and beyond and even further still...celebrate Halloween!

Kylo-Ren, Stick-Figure Man, a Mermaid and a Ninja Turtle. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nelsons in McCall

For Fall Break, the Nelsons came up for the extended weekend.  We loved seeing them!  I realized the day after they left how quickly you grow accustomed to having close friends around you - and how lonely it is once they're gone.  Of course...we went to McCall.  Because seriously.  Friends don't let friends come to Boise without visiting McCall. 

The first night in Boise we went to Dave & Busters to watch the Boise/BYU game.  Super exciting! - even though we ended up losing by ONE point!  We were clearly the only BYU fans in the place, but Boise State fans are wonderful people!  I have yet to meet a sour fan up here.  They are gracious, polite and most importantly... refrain from foul language, especially in front of my children.  Thank you! 

The next day we headed for McCall, where we'd reserved a twin home through Home Away - which meant plenty of room for all the bikes we brought with us.  This is absolutely the way to go with families.  I'm crossing my fingers for a trip to Glacier National Park (and the highly coveted Route of Hiawatha trail) this summer and if it happens, this is how we'll book our accommodations.

We really took advantage of almost every spare moment.  Lots and lots of mountain biking.  Hiking. Target shooting.  Simpsons games in the evenings.  And eating large amounts of food at The Pancake House in McCall.  Never in my life have I seen such a massive cinnamon roll.  Oh, it was divine!  

It was so beautiful up there!  It's always beautiful.  But this time...this time we got to see the Tamarack trees.  I've only just barely learned about them.  They are evergreen pines that go completely golden in the winter.  A very rare species that drop their needles around December and grow fresh ones in the spring.  They are planted along northern Idaho, up into Montana and then along the Canadian border.  They are breathtaking!  I was enchanted.  So much gold. 

Surprisingly, the site of them brought me a momentary escape from the stress of October.  In fact, I'd say Greg and I were able to forget our heavy burdens for a few days with the Nelsons simply being with us.  


I think our oldest was the saddest to see the Nelsons drive away.  He and Hunter have been good buddies since they were barely old enough to start walking.  It's a nice friendship because they can pick up things within minutes when they've been apart for a significant amount of time.  I'm so glad they've stayed close over the years.