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Family Time

Well, hello again everyone and Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day to you (today) and Happy New Year! We have been having a wonderful time with family, specifically my (Jenny's) family here in St. Louis. I guess we've been here for 2 weeks on and off. We've taken several "Christmas Lights" tours about town and even checked out the zoo lights and Botanical gardens displays, even got to catch up with old friends and their growing families and reconnect with folks from the past.

Attended mass with mom and dad last sunday at St. Stanislaus, which was followed by a bigos dinner accompanied by wine and screwdrivers (the drink, not the tool.) Ahh..the catholic church. What is bigos? A traditional polish stew made with meat and cabbage (of course) in a tomato-y broth. Very yummy. Sometime during my post meal stupor I agreed to help create scenery and props for their upcoming Christmas pagent of sorts. Luckily, we only had to construct two lambs. Unfortunately, Uncle Frank had to do much of the constructing as I spent my time tearing up boxes, creating a mess of paint with the boys and covered, well, mostly ourselves in glue and cottonballs. It was a lot of fun, but the sheep the boys and I created looked more like a puffy white cloud than an animal, so thank goodness for Uncle Frank to the rescue! As Frank repaired our damaged the boys got to work running around and being silly, and I made 70 or so pierogis for the upcoming Polish Christmas Dinner at mom's house. Before we knew it, it was Christmas eve, with lots of cleaning, cooking, preparing and excitement about Santa. Henry set out the cookies for santa and made sure to include a note for santa stating that the cookies and carrots were in the kitchen so Tillie ( my parents' dog) didn't eat them for him.

We all attempted to attend midnight (this really means 10 p.m.) mass on Christmas eve, despite the time and the yucky rain, but the boys fell asleep on the way, so Bryce dropped me off to attend church with my parents and Frank. I sat down in the pew only to realize a minute later that I had the key to the Czyzewski abode. Oops! I removed myself from the sanctuary and desperately tried to reach Bryce to warn him to turn around, but alas, his phone was trapped in the house. I tried telepathy for a few minutes, with no results and finally, Dad volunteered to drive back home to let them in, where he found them asleep in the blue VW sleigh. Dad then returned to church to join us in time to turn around and walk back out. Thanks dad! morale of the story : If you marry a forgetful spouse, be prepared to sleep in the driveway.

Christmas morning came too quickly and was everything that children and parents want it to be...full of joyful surprises of all sorts. Wynne was so overwhelmed with the display that it wasn't until he tripped over his gift, that he realized what was happening. He simply declared, " A loop-de-loop track - hey,I wanted that!" It took a minute for it all to sink in. The boys even surprised me with gifts they saved for, and dad took them out to buy. A box of chocolate truffles from Henry, and the movie "Tale of Desperaux" from Wynne because, as he says,"mom, you are princess and I am desperaux, a brave little mouse." It was too sweet and thoughtful. We all had a great time opening gifts and all until we had to prepare for the onslaught of visitors for lunch.

Christmas dinner was successful with all sorts of polish fixins and wonderful company until late into the night. I could go on, but we have more christmas tomorrow...if we can make it, as we are headed to Adrian and the Oates side of the family, which is covered in a frosty white blanket as we speak.


candy cane crash and burn

Its been a week or so since I've updated in my journal entry-like way and its been a holiday-mania of sorts, much of which involves kind-hearted folks pumping my kids full of sugary snacks. Santa even gave away full sized candy bars, cans of coca-cola (Coke, seriously?!) and, of course, candy canes. How exactly are these kids supposed to behave after ingesting all this crap? (And yes, I know its my job to monitor the intake, but 3 parades, 2 visits with santa and several other holiday gatherings with family...I can only do so much here people.) I am beginning to think that Santa is always watching just as a psychological and physiological experiment to study the effects of sugar on these little folks. Last year we called Henry and Wynne the sugar-high, super-fly, candy guys. This year they are truly living up to the name. I only hope to survive to 2010 myself with these two clowns.

Since my last lecture, my parents came to visit us in VanBuren, giving Bryce and me a bit of a break from the munchkins in the evenings so we could enjoy some local culture. Our choices in the culture category are drinking at the bar, drinking at home, or drinking on the river while spotlighting deer. We did have a drink at the bar, but decided to save the cash and go pass out at the cabin under 14 blankets to keep warm.

We spent most of Saturday going to parades - the cowboy christmas parade in VanBuren, then visited Alley Spring and Mill, snooped around Emminence, consumed some fried fare and waited in the cold for the Emminence Christmas Lights Parade. As we waited, we watched the bank sign featuring the temperature drop from 32 down to 29. This parade did not disappoint. Not sure where these folks came from, but I felt like I was transported to the Disney Lights parade in Orlando. Wynne jumped and cheered when he saw the best of all...Santa's sleigh pulled by 8 very cool ( and loud) Harleys (motorcycles, peeps) all lit up and on the back of a tractor trailer with no less than 30,000 lights adorning the float. If the coke from Santa, the huge bag of candy from the parade didn't put him in bliss, that did it. He is still talking about it. Tough to come down from a high like that, for these guys, anyway.

The rest of the week was more of the boring, same old, same old stuff; bald eagles, herons, discovering caves, racing giant icicles down the river, making driftwood boats, fishing hats out of the river, attempting gravity defying bike tricks, gluing parade candy onto the gingerbread house, being crazy. The usual. As the week ended, we sadly realized we have only a few days left here.

Friday, we rode to Doniphan for a visit with Nancy Smith where she spoiled us with a delicious dinner. Nancy and Bryce flew off to a meeting while we settled down to Snow White. The boys were sleeping in no time. When Nancy and Bryce returned, we talked into the wee hours, followed by a morning of croquet fun with a beautiful view of the river.

St. Louis was invaded late Saturday after a disappointing visit to the Dinosaur exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center. If you're thinking of taking the kids to this over priced "dinosaur experience"...put it out of your mind now. Go get a book about dinos at your local bookstore. You'll learn more, and still be able to treat the family to ice cream. The boys liked it, but what do they know?

Zoolights sunday night was delightful with Henry's moping and Wynne's demands that the train re-open for his personal enjoyment. After some hot chocolate, all was well and spirits were lifted. Thanks dad. The fun continued as we drove through the city and even to "candy cane lane" to check out outrageous lights displays. Frosty the snowman seems to be the most popular lawn ornament this year. Wynne was quite fond of any candy cane decoration. Hmmm...a pattern?

While its been lots of fun here, we get to move on to see friends tomorrow in Columbia, so we can't wait.


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thankful thanksgiving

Hello all! We are back here on the web after quite a thanksgiving break. We spent the week of Thanksgiving in St. Louis with Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Marian's house with Tillie their dog. On the way, we stopped at the Elephant Rocks State Park and enjoyed a day of climbing and hide and seek in the amazing granite boulder playground. (Pictures to follow soon.)

Our time in St. Louis was full of fun and family with lots of time to play with cousin Anna from Dallas and Aunt Chris and Uncle Ted too. We also had lots of fun at the Magic House and the Museum of Transport where we enjoyed climbing all over the old trains, especially the Union Pacific Big Boy Locomotive," that had 9 wheels in front all bigger than mom!" I am not really quite sure how to take that, does this mean I am tall or round? I'll let it go.

Thanksgiving dinner at mom's house was the tastiest I can remember with turkey by Bryce, Uncle Jerry's sweet potatoes, dressing and gravy and all other delicious fixins. What a treat! After supper Anna, Henry and Wynne disappeared to the basement to design and build a zoo, town, railway system and playground.

We had a fun but it was time to move on. On to Kansas City and quick visit and scooter tour of my friend Katie's neighborhood, where the boys left me to spend the night as they went on to Adrian to see Grandma Janet and Grandpa Scott.

Katie and I shopped and dined ourselves silly before retiring to Katie's house where I got to sleep in a bed all by myself! I think Jasper, her dog would've liked to have joined me, but was kind enough to let me have the bed for the night. I know this doesn't seem like a big deal, but I assure you, for me, this was a HUGE deal! I have not slept in a bed all by myself for YEARS. Ahhh,,,the restorative power of sleep. After chocolates and coffee for breakfast, Katie, Andy and I checked out some gingerbread houses in the Crestwood shops and had lunch at Cafe Europa before heading to Belton to meet up with Janet, where Katie and I planned our next adventure.

On Saturday, Grandma Janet, Aunt Rachel, Liam, Henry, Wynne and I went to the Christmas Train with Santa in Adrian's Antique Village, while Eric and Bryce drank themselves silly while watching the MU/ KU game on t.v. (MU won...making Sunday morning much more enjoyable thank if otherwise had been the case.) The train was lots of fun, but I got moved to a different rail car as the engineer stated to me,"we might just derail if you sit there miss." Apparently, I had eaten a bit too much pumpkin pie in the last few days. The train was fun and the weather was perfect so were all happy. This was Liam's first train ride and he was a champ. I don't think he stopped smiling until he saw Santa where he held up his palm to Santa and said,"NO NO." Wynne and Henry however were not afraid to share with the white bearded stranger exactly what it is that they want. We were lucky enough to catch up with Linda, Aunt Allison, Aubrie, Oliver and Alisa while waiting in line, getting a sugar high from the cookies Grandma Mary baked (along with all the 'Antique Ladies') for all the kids in the town. It was a great time with great treats. Now where to find Earth heroes and a loop-de-loop, sideways superfast racetrack with a racecar with a spoiler on it?)

Sunday was full of fun getting ready for Thanksgiving Dos at Grandma Janet's. Scott and Wynne disappeared early to do "chores" while Janet,Bryce, Henry and I tried to help out with setting up. At noon, the festivities commenced with lots of delicious food and lots of family. Unfortunately, Henry had enough of all of it and was under the covers with a fever - until dessert was served. Hmmmm....?

We headed back here to VanBuren and our sweet, very cold, cabin on Sunday evening. We're back to our old tricks; biking, hiking, crafting, and so on.
We have 3 bald eagles camped out across from our cabin. Bald eagles!!! This is great fun to watch when the boys aren't being crazy scaring the hell out of them making the poor birds fly away. We've also discovered "frost flowers" which have been great fun to talk with the rangers about. We're also pretty sure the deer have figured out this is a nature sanctuary, since there is a nightly dinner party of at least 50 in the open field down from the cabin. Well, I am sure if you aren't sleeping now, you should be. Its the same old stuff here. Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Marian are visiting this weekend and we just finished eating all the candy they threw at us at the Cowboy Christmas Parade, so I should probably give up on mooching any more of the hotel's internet connection out here. I'll try to catch ya'll up again soon.


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Henry & Wynne's Big Spring Tour

Our trip down here to Big Spring in Van Buren, MO was a tight one. We were stuffed with everything we need for the next 2 months, or at least until Christmas. When we finally pried ourselves and the children out of the car, we all set about exploring our new surroundings in the dark. The historic cabin is tiny, but only 2 hours after our arrival Henry declared,"this is a cozy home just right for us."

The cabin was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s thanks to the legislation brought about by President Franklin Roosevelt in efforts to put young men to work, while also working to preserve America's beautiful natural places. Thanks FDR! We love it. Our cabin was actually the original laundry facility for the Corps.

After an oatmealy breakfast the next morning, we headed down to the Big Spring by foot, scooter (Wynne) and bike (Henry.) The road took us down quite a hill and across a bridge, about a half a mile from our cabin to the beautiful, bubbling spring. If you haven't been, we'll soon take you on a quick video tour, but if you live in Missouri, and even if you don't…its a trip worth taking! We've been twice a day for everyday since.

Every morning, we enjoy a quiet moment near the spring together followed by some drawing and planning for the day.
Here we are in this lovely, pristine park and the boys choose to use this time to perfect their wheel skills, Wynne on his scooter and Henry on skateboard and bike. Henry is working hard on his curb jumping and wheelie popping skills at the moment. We eventually climb the hill back to the cabin for our school work of the day. Though it varies some, we read some, write some, work on earning our junior ranger badges, collect wood, chop wood, hammer nails, ride bikes, watercolor paint, make nature crafts from our collection of goodies on hikes (acorns, sycamore balls, grapevines, shells, rocks, whatever,) learn about the trees around us and conduct science experiments of sorts. Its a busy day. It always ends with another walk or hike before starting a fire for cooking supper. After supper and stargazing some, its showers, cards and reading and in bed by 7ish. Yes, very early, but the boys are ready for rest and so are we.

We've been blessed with perfect weather so far, so almost all of our time is spent outside, however, when the cold and wet weather sets in, spirits may change, as will our routine, I'm sure.
We've explored the town of VanBuren some and found that there are almost no opportunities for wireless connections which leads, I'm afraid to few chances to update you all on what's happening, but know that we thinking of all of you.

A bit about VanBuren. It hosts the Information and Visitors Center for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways ( a part of the National Park Service) which is quite helpful in directing folks to springs, great canoe floats and sites and hiking trails as well as ways the region has developed along with the Current River as a major influence. The town is mostly seasonal as it depends on the seasonal traffic from hikers, campers, canoers and river enthusiasts. If you're not too into roughing it, but want to enjoy the wonders of the park, the Rose Cliff Lodge is a comfortable small hotel with the best catfish dinner around and a great view of the river from the dining room.

our new home

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we made it!

Well, folks...Hello! We're glad to be back here in Columbia, Missouri with so many of our loving and generous friends. It was quite a journey, but we made it.! I will do my best to fill you in before my computer battery dies out.

Though the interstate was still closed on Halloween morning, the boys and I hopped in the car and followed the convoy out of town and up north to Casper, in order to drive south to Cheyenne and on to Ft. Collins for some trick-or-treat action with the Monello family. After an evening of Halloween fun on Friday evening in Rawlins, we went back to the hotel in hopes of ordering pizza and staying in to inventory the candy. We called 2 pizza places only to find out that both were no longer making deliveries, or pizzas for that matter, because of a lack of ingredients. Next a fire occured in the wing of our hotel in the laundry room. No one was injured. And finally, the toilet overflowed. This said one thing to me, "evacuate Rawlins at your next opportunity/" So, we did. The journey to Ft. Collins was windy and long, however it did fufill a life-long goal of mine - to be involved in a convoy. Good times. Wish I had the cb to enjoy it even more.

Ft. Collins proved to be a great stopping point, as the Monellos hosted us with their usual grand and welcoming hospitality. Henry and Eli got right to work on their schemes and projects as Wynne and Ezra fought over toys, played nicely and fought over toys, while Mellon and I continued the conversation that we had left on the last time we saw one another. It was a great relief to be with friends again. We trick-or-treated on Busch Court and had a great time doing it. The group had a great time together and we're all glad we stopped.

Morning came too quickly. Jenny, Henry and Wynne zoomed off in the wagon heading toward I-70 with sights on Grandpa Scott's and Grandma Janet's, only to discover, 40 miles down the road guessed it! My wallet was still at the Monellos. Funny thing about that wallet. It keeps trying to get rid of me. Ryan met us halfway, where we were able to say goodbye again and get ourselves situated for the long haul mo-ward.
It must be said here that a 12 hour drive is really no fun for the driver, but even less fun for the passengers, however, the boys surpassed my expectations and did remarkable. We stopped several times for scooter breaks at rest areas along the way and the boys were rewarded with treats and games at various mile markers. This kept spirits high, but mostly seeing grandma and grandpa at the end of this drive kept the kids going.

We arrived in the evening at Scott and Janet's house where the boys promptly forgot that I existed and latched onto dad, grandma and grandpa. The next two days were full of 4-wheeler rides, doing chores with grandpa, playing with uncle eric, aunt rachel and cousin liam and even a fun visit with Aubrie. Lots of fun!

Back on the road Tuesday morning, heading straight for Columbia, MO. We got rid of Bryce at the office and were just in time to hit the family story time at the library, just like old times or as Henry said, "Mom, this going to story time is just like we did in the olden days." Henry got to surprise his friend Logan at his school pick up and those two laughed and played for about 25 hours straight. We were spoiled by the Burnams for the day and evening and loved it! It was fun to catch up and watch the boys play, Lydia laugh, smile and try to walk, and Wynne and Lexi playing games together. Thank you Burnams!

On Wednesday, we were lucky enough to see Nicole Weber and Iris for a short time before re-locating ourselves to Millersburg with Walker, Kimberly and Lushen. Once again, the boys all went crazy, running, jumping and playing together, while we enjoyed visiting. Lushen got to skip school Thursday to go with Jenny, Henry and Wynne to Fulton, where we went bowling, played outside and met Margot for lunch at a Pizza buffet. Heaven for the boys. Margot is still up to her old tricks of bettering the world with local food, art and barn quilts and it reminded me of all the fun we've had together. You can still hear her on the radio wednesdays night on 89.5 fm from 7-8 talking about food, farms and fiddling. I can even listen on the road on thanks to webstreaming and podcasts of Farm and Fiddle.

We finished out the day with haircuts ala Kimberly and a brushfire that almost took their farm away. Thanks to some fine, young volunteer firemen (Wynne, Lushen and Henry) the fire was put out and we were all safe. Now that calls for some marshmallows!

Friday Henry was invited to attend school with his old classmates at Garden Gate where teacher, Ms. Sara Linsenmeyer is still giving them all the love and attention their parents' will never be able to possibly achieve. While Hen basked in this glory, Wynne and I saw some old friends at the Small Farm Today Trade Show and Conference. Still fun, but not quite the same when you don't have a home to outfit with garden and farm gear. Lots of great ducks, ponies, geese, chicks, sheep and cows. Well, that's all for now. I'll send more soon.


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Stuck we are. What day is it? Thursday. Do let me fill you in. We tearfully left the Parrish compound on Monday morning after Shelly and Heather (my sister wives) prepared enough snacks for a football team headed out of state on an away game journey. Shelly and Christian were great help in packing provisions and rearranging for optimum space. We left with the GPS in hand, programmed by Chris, our technology guru, along with lots of new music and stories all added to the ipod. Thanks to all of you for your help!

We made it to the gps destination around 10 in Boise, ID. Unfortunately, the address was one digit off and we ended up at a rockin' party at a Boise State Dormitory. Chris really was thinking of me and my own good when he programmed that thing. After a few keg stands and some table dancing, we finally made it to the Shilo Inn. We awoke the next morning, headed next store for a bit of breakfast and were off by 9.

The trip to Salt Lake City was interesting. Sun, rain, ice, snow, sun, snow, rain, sun. Like that along with the up and down of the mountainous landscape should've sent me questioning this trip, but we finally made it to Salt Lake alive. I swear I saw some Big Love compounds on the way in. Heather, Shelly, get to looking at real estate.

Found the LaQuinta, checked in and swam to our hearts content in the pool as the snow fell outside. Boys enjoyed PBJ while watching Kung Fu Panda as I prepared for the next day. Little did I realize, there really was no preparing for what I was in for the next day. I am an idiot. Did I mention that Henry had and on/off fever the entire trip. Oh yes.

We left Salt Lake with wet roads, but cleared of snow and high winds. This was no big deal, but as we approached Wyoming, winds really picked up and snow was "swirling and twirling" as the boys said the entire trip. We could actually watch the snow drifts building off the road as we drove. I have never really driven through anything quite like it. Snow was flying everywhere, but at times enough so I could see far enough ahead of me to see the wall of snow I was to drive into. Like driving in milk. Did I mention that Henry was feverish AND started puking as the roads got bad. At one point, I pulled over to dump out the vomit, only to open the car door, lift the barf bucket (thanks for that Shell), only to have a gust of wind grab it and smack it into me. Success? Back on the road and into the snow.

It went on like that until I-80 was closed at Rawlins, where we stopped at a Days Inn. Mistake. It was truly a dive, but I was out of energy to look further. At 5, and every half hour from then on, I went on checking road conditions to no avail. We were stuck there, along with the swim team hoping to make it to the state tournament, the Fed Ex guys and a bunch of hwy workers and other truckers. I decided if we're going to be stuck here, we better find a place with a pool. Called a Laramie native and asked for advice. Renny said I'd better stay put, the roads wouldn't be open for another day, but suggested we at least check out Anong's Thai for lunch. Lucky for us, there was a room at the Best Western and we've spent the day in the best indoor pool (90 degrees in there, I swear.) Ate some of the best Thai food ever (thanks Renny) and now I'm writing you and checking road conditions as the boys zone out to some free HBO (yes, its a kids movie) while enjoying hot chocolate. I feel like I should be singing Christmas carols. Ahhh. Being stuck isn't so bad after all.


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The end is near.

This is Shelly, reporting for Jenny, this evening. Since Jenny is the talent behind all of the Parrish Home Improvements, her fingers must be used to maximize production, which means she is at her trusty sewing machine. I will recap the last little bit-o-fun here....

We rounded out the swimming lessons for all boys. I was able to showoff Jenny's talents in the kitchen and at the sewing machine to a few of my favorite gals. We allowed Drew some alone time with his cousins during school hours at the skateboard park. I have to give a sarcastic shout out to Jenny and Bryce on this one...really?!! now i will be expected to keep up with this new obsession with the skate park. As I would usually call them shmoos, Wynne translated this into a great new term "you watermelon moe".

On Thursday, it was Ladies Night and yes, the Czyzewski Sisters were both out with hair recently washed, in full outfits and Jenny even sported some new shoes (it must be added that they are of the heeled variety). We nearly starved ourselves so that we may scarf down some food & drink at Sip. Jenny's newest friend was in attendance as well, Heather Brown and she knows everyone in this little town. We gulped down some wine, enjoyed some tasty sliders and were lucky to have none of these come flying out of our noses as we were heard laughing more often than not.

Friday was Family Fun Night at Discovery Elementary (Drew's school). Jenny whipped up a sign, as only she can, and we were all in attendance; along with about 300 others. Wynne had the most quotable quote of the evening when he busted out, "It's fun and it's's family fun night". He will be spokesperson for this event next year. Fun was had by all, although us adults would have loved a big happy Catholic beer garden.

Saturday. Uncle Chris shocked us all with his family planning (not the birth control variety) and took his Big Love family out to Poulsbo and the Marine Science Center. Poulsbo is a quaint Norwegian town on the water that boasts an amazing bakery, along with many shops. After a fabulous fish & chips and chowder lunch, Chris packed the 5 boys into the minivan and left Jenny and I to shop. What a treat! That Uncle Chris has his own way of watching the children...all were happy and all scooters and sports equipment were utilized during his hours in charge. Papa Murphys pizza provided dinner for all thanks to those wonderful and generous parents of this family it appears Halloween is the new Christmas.

In a few days their road travels will begin again. How lucky we are to have had them here for so long. I am still trying to extend this time with Jenny and my nephews, but must let them return to Bryce. I just hope this Spring we will be blessed with another month long stay. It will seem quiet here....


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miracles and accidents happen

For whatever reason, my phone doesn't alert me to messages until about 6hours later than a message is sent, meaning I miss things. For example, I had just spent all morning on hold with the nice folks at Seattle Transit about losing my wallet on one of their buses, then cancelled all of my credit cards, debit card, etc. when I was simultaneously alerted to a message regarding my wallet and a call from the Seattle Police Department informing me that a wallet had been found. I was relieved mostly, and a little frustrated (see line 3.)

I loaded the boys into the car and off we went, back to the city for a treasure hunt.
Getting there was no big deal, but driving in the city with the gps was no fun. The computer voice advising me to "turn left" then echoed by Wynne "mom, turn left" when turning left would indeed result in me mowing over pedestrians and drive into oncoming traffic as the street was a one-way. We finally found a parking space near the police department which happened to be encased in a city block of construction, only to find that the parking meter only accepted cards. Arghh! We moved the car again, to a parking garage for retail patrons only, vowing to buy something after operation wallet retrieval. We walked up to the station, got the wallet, no hitches, then back to the car. Henry complained of feeling ick. I ignored it. Bad idea.
We shopped for soup, sickness provisions, then escaped the city right aroudn the time everyone else decided to do the same. Wynne chose a tray of salmon sushi as a treat, so being an idiot mother at the end of her rope, I agreed. As I was passing the tray back to him (while driving in downtown traffic) I spilled the wasabi and soy sauce all over myself. No big deal. We'll be home a couple hours of traffic.

About 20 miles outside of Tacoma, Henry mentioned feeling yucky, about 3 seconds before puking all over himself and his carseat. Fun! Now the car smells of sushi and vomit. The last 20 miles made us all a little sick.
We finally make it back to the Parrish abode. Henry removed the yucky clothes, we took the carseat out and Wynne ran in to the bathroom just in time. The toilet flushed and so did everything else, right up and out of the bowl onto the bathroom floor and out into the hall. Yess! The fun never ends. I never expected my day to be so much fun. least I got my wallet back. Thank you nice Seattle person, whoever you are! You made my life better, even if the ride there (and back) didn't win any awards. Glad to have my identity back and thankful to all those that helped.

Now Bryce is here with us. We visited the city today. Took my nephew and the boys to the Seattle Art Museum to check out some great exhibits. The Calder exhibit was a big hit. All the boys were great and we all loved the art. A few mentions about the naked folks painted and sculpted, but we made it through okay.
Now its too late to make much sense, so I'm out until next time. Tonight, a visit to the Tides made all that washed in , wash right out. A few beers will do that now and again. If ever here, the Tides is a must! Locally brewed beer, fish 'n' Chips, local Oysters and all on the water. A happy ending.



Maybe I shouldn't have stepped on that spider crawling across my foot this morning, or screamed at the kids to get in the car (for the 14th time.) Either way, I accumulated some major karma, or upset the forces that be somehow (or however that works.)
The boys and I were headed to Seattle via the Bremerton Ferry for a big field trip to the city to eat some gourmet ice cream and meet up with friend for the afternoon. It all started out perfectly. the boys and I parked the car in Bremerton, walked on the Ferry, enjoyed a picnic lunch as we traveled across the sound to the main ferry terminal in Seattle. The weather was perfect. Sunny and cool. A great day for exploring the city. We exited the ferry, bought a return ticket for later in the afternoon and walked up Madison St. to the number 10 bus.
Hopped on the bus and traveled up to Pine St.and 1st for some of the best ice cream we've tasted. (Okay, we still hold allegiances to Sparky's in Columbia, but this was amazing stuff.) Molly Moon's ice cream is homemade with local milk and cream, local huckleberries, blackberries, herbs, honey, whatever is in season and local, they use it and blend it into delicious flavors. I tried the blackberry sage, huckleberry, honey lavender and cardamom. All these were delicious, but I had to settle on the salted caramel in a waffle cone made while we stood there ordering. Heavenly! Creamy, salty, sweet all at once. The boys both dined on the scout mint in waffle cones which Henry described as "awesomely goo-oo-ood!" Anne met us for ice cream and went with a local favorite including freshly picked huckleberries. We highly recommend going out of your way to check this place out when you're in Seattle.
We took those cones on a walk and run over to Cal Anderson Park across the street and enjoyed the fountains, playgrounds and knolls to roll down. What a day! We decided to catch the bus back down to the famous Pike's Place Market for more exploring. As we stepped off the bus, I was searching for my camera, catching up with the kids and running my mouth only to find ( a block later) that my wallet was missing! Yes, my wallet, key to my survival - gone!! This was a fun snag in the plan. If you ever end up in a crisis like this, being in a city 2000+ miles away from your hometown, bank, resources, etc, make sure you have Anne Powell with you. Without her I would've really been a disaster. And as many of you know, I am no master of crisis management. That's Bryce's department. It should be said here, that I am a loser. Not a loser loser, but in fact, a loser, as in, I lose things. Alot. However, thanks to Ann, it really didn't seem too awful. We caught and searched every bus we could. Stationed ourselves at the bus stop for about an hour and dialed and re-dialed the help line for the transit system to no avail. The boys were angels at this point, but Wynne was about to pass out on the sidewalk when I decided to give up and take the ferry back to Bremerton. Sure was glad I bought my ferry ticket ahead of time and put it in my wallet for safekeeping! Anne gave me a small loan, we ran about 15 blocks to the ferry dock, bought another ticket (thank goodness the boys are still free) and Anne held Henry's hand and helped us onto the ferry all the way. What a friend! The trip back was lovely as the sun was setting, but set off a bit with the boys asking me every 2 seconds why I lost my wallet and if we were going to find it. Don't I wish. Luckily, the boys still described the day as really, really fun. We still love Seattle, all the same. Anne, we owe you! Come visit us sometime, lose your wallet and we'll do our best to help you as you helped us. Thank you!!
Today, we are lonely here in this big 'ol Parrish house without all those sweet boys, but we are picking up the pieces from yesterday's adventure and resting up for the Chum Festival (Chum is a type of salmon) this weekend. Until next catastrophe....


Meds and Neglect

Bryce left us (the boys and myself) here in Washington so that he could go back and work. That Bryce...always in search of a good time.
Since he left, Shelly and I have been on a bit of a decorating binge, leaving the boys to fend for themselves with footballs and scooters. While we were busy hanging curtains, recovering chairs and contemplating carpet options, the little ones were tearing it up. It wasn't until Drew alerted us did we realize we were in such a state. Okay, it wasn't quite this dire, however it wasn't much fun. Logan and Wynne found a bottle of homeopathic cold remedy and decided that the tiny tasty marshmallows were so good that they ate about 150 each. Luckily, after much drama and commotion (and a call from a pharmacist) we found out that water was the solution and the worst we could expect, beyond extreme thirst, could be diarrhea. Thanks homeopathic remedies! Really, its as if the boys grazed in a field of onions or something. Still, this set our decorating sites back.
Yes, we have seen the kids some. Shell and I took them to the Museum of Flight, the skate park, around town in the Harbor and some fun at Costco and a playdate at the home of Heather Brown (who should have her own blog and comedy show. ) Now that we are back on track to make this house make HGTV, perhaps we should go put the kids in the daycare at Ikea. Don't be haters.

Beginning the Journey MO - WA

This photo sheet describes our journey from Columbia, MO to Ft. Collins, CO with the Monellos, to Wyoming, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and beyond.
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Washington treats us well

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An eventful week up here in Gig Harbor so far. We have spent many hours having fun outside as the weather has treated us well here. My sister, Shelly, seems to think that on this journey of ours I will need the strength of Paul Bunyan, so she's been dragging my rear end to toning, cardio and kickboxing classes at the YMCA, while the boys practice their crawl and diving techniques as "super eels" in swim lessons. We are having lots of fun and hope to do more work here with photos and other fun adventures as the weekend progresses. Thanks for checking in on us.


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get it together

Yeah Folks, I know. I really need to get it together. Sheesh, I've been talking about blogging long enough already. Who knew it would be such a pain in the tookas to find the time to blog and figure it all out while traveling. Kudos to all you bloggers out there for finding the time.

Alrighty then, on with it. We've been here there and everywhere and here are some photos from the adventures. Started out in Columbia, MO our old, and well-loved, hometown, then moved onto Fort Collins, Colorado where we stopped in for a few days with the Monellos.
We didn't give the Monello family much time to adjust to their new life in Ft. Collins, as they had just joined the community a week before our arrival. Ryan, Mellon, Eli and Ezra were good sports though and included us in all things fun. Mellon and the kids introduced us to all the new sites and finer features of Ft. Collins. Selfless Mellon even gave Jenny and Bryce a chance to take a New Belgium Brewery tour while she babysat all 4 rowdy boys! If you're ever in Ft. Collins, go take the tour. Delish! Ryan took us on a personal tour of Rocky Mountain National Park, teaching us all about the wildlife and park history. Lots of elk viewing! We are lucky to have such good and generous friends. Many thanks to you folks!
On Sunday, we moved on to Laramie, Wyoming to visit more old pals. Renny, Jill and Case McKay hosted us for the afternoon with a lovely cookout and scooter tour (well, a scooter chase, really. Renny (carrying Case) Bryce, and Jenny trying to keep up with the Super-Fly Scooter guys) of Laramie's city parks. After giving Jill plenty to be thankful for with sweet little case sleeping quietly in her arms as our children tore her beautiful home to shreds, we bid good-bye and were off to Landers, Wyoming for some shut-eye.
Our trip to Landers took a bit more time than expected due to gusty thunderstorms that led the fancy schmancy car-top carrier (a large canvas duffel bag rubbermaid markets as a "cartop carrier") to leak all over the passenger and driver aka Bryce and Jenny. Go capillary action! You see, the rain seeped in to the straps which were snugly shut into the front doors of the car and drip, drip, drip. You get it, I'm sure. We made it to Landers, stayed at the Pronghorn Inn and enjoyed a complimentary breakfast compliments of...Costco, or maybe Sam's Club. Yu-uhm.
Finally, onto Teton National Park and to Jenny Lake. Windy day, but it didn't stop us from exploring the lakeside and then taking a boat tour on the "Jenny Leigh" over to the other side of the lake, where we hiked to Inspiration Falls and Inspiration Point (or something like that) which was beautiful. The boys were little mountain goats on all the rocks and were in good spirits after so much car time. We even saw a bald eagle sitting in a tree on our way back to the other side of the lake. When we asked about camping, a kind ranger informed us that it was to be COLD that night (lower than 20 degrees) so we wimped out and got a cabin at Flagg Ranch. Wynne was disappointed and asked us to give the cabin back because it was broken, which meant it didn't have a t.v. in it. He got over it quickly and we were all asleep in a few minutes time. The next morning we were up early and decided to check out the breakfast buffet at the Flagg Ranch Lodge. Breakfast was not good to us. Overpriced and under worth it. This did not deter us from having a great time.
We were in Yellowstone National Park by 9 a.m. where we started the tour with a walk around the West Thumb Basin - a geyser area that drains into the Yellowstone Lake. It was lovely and very steamy in the cold morning. The boys were impressed and in awe of the geysers, and even developed quite a story about dragons and dragon families living beneath the geyser, hence the steam and sulfur aroma. After this, they weren't all that impressed with Old Faithful. I think Bryce and I enjoyed it more than the kids.
The boys really wanted more geysers, and who were we to disappoint, we stopped at Biscuit Basin next, which, in my opinion was the best stop of the trip. From the back of the loop around these active, bubbly geysers we hiked a 2.5 mile loop to Mystic Falls. A great hike for kids as it involved a bit of rock climbing at the end with a view of some amazing falls tucked in the back of a mountain. Wow!
We kept on with the Geyser hoopla for a few more hours and the boys became even more enthralled the natural wonders when a ranger informed us that the entire park is actually on top of an active volcano. Well, that did it. We're lucky the boys left with us. Wynne was hoping for some hot lava the whole time. Took a while to convince them that today was not that day (at least we hoped not.) We set up camp at the Norris Geyser campground and got the last campsite available. Whew, thank goodness.
As we set up camp, we realized, camping in Yellowstone in mid-september means one of two things. You are either a. retired or b. a professional photographer, neither of which happen to drag children along and are far removed from the energies children posess. Can't say all of our neighbors appreciated their lively nature. They did look a bit like a ball of dust blowing through the campground as they wrestled, frisbeed and footballed through campsites not acknowledging the imaginary boundaries that only adults can see (or care to recognize.) We tried to save our neighbors some anxiety by taking a hike around the Norris Geyser Basin which proved to be the best idea ever. We had the whole place to ourselves, enjoyed a spectacular sunset and the boys ran about 2 miles around the place.
The morning left us envious of all of our camper and rv neighbors as it took us lots of swearing and much more time to pack up the rear end and top (mostly the god forsaken roof rack) of the car before taking off the explore the rest of the park by car.
After that we were lucky enough to see some bison near the road and even experienced one walking right in front of our car. Bryce got so excited I thought he was going to lean out of the window to kiss it. We hiked a few loops near the upper and lower falls, saw a the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Henry hiked with me to see the Tower Falls as Wynne slept in the car. We had so much fun driving, exploring and wandering that we didn't pay much attention to the time and made it to Mammoth Falls in time to take some pictures, walk a bit and get on the road to Aunt Shelly and Uncle Chris' house. By this point Wynne was saying "I want to go see Aunt Shelly, right now!" about every minute or so, so we decided to get on with it and headed out of the park and on the road for our long 12 hour drive to Gig Harbor, Washington. Did get to check out the Wheat Montana bakery and Mill on the way and that was well worth it. If you ever find yourself outside Bozeman MT in the middle of just about nowhere, make sure you stop. What a great treat! The grow the wheat, they harvest it, grind it and share it (well, sell it in various forms; flour, muffins, rolls, bread, bagels,etc.) Better than the little red hen.
And a loooong and windy (as in twisty, curvy) drive it was. We made it to the Parrish Palace at around 4:30 a.m. ready for a nap. We were welcomed by Shelly and even sweet Drew woke up to give a round of hugs. What a sweetheart! Our first day in Gig Harbor involved mostly recoup-ing and letting all five boys roll around like a litter of puppies. It had been 9 months since Henry and Wynne had seen Drew (7), Christian (5) and Logan (3) and there was much catching up to do.
So, here we are. We'll be here for a few weeks hopefully enjoying each other's company. We've already been to Kopachuck State Park right here in Gig Harbor, checked out the wetlands area near the Hood Canal, went to the Gig Harbor Farmers Market, home of the best homemade tamales in the northwest and played alot of football in the front yard. Right now your eyes are tired, if you're still with me here, so I will give you a break. There's more to come. If you're still hungry for more there are way to many pictures coming your way. See you soon....
The Oateskis


The Great Road Trip heads West

There is more to come, dear readers. But we are new at this blog thing and trying to figure out how to set this page up. On this page, we will be recording our travel diary, dumping a boatload of photos and generally trying to keep our funny stories in order. Stay tuned. . . .