Okay, next topic.
It was two years ago that we made our first wintry trek to Bear Lake with Troy's co-worker Steve and his family to hunt down and harvest our very own Christmas tree. Last year his wife Mary and I both had six month old babies - Mary was probably up for going anyway but I am not as stalwart as she and decided not to brave a weekend in a cabin with six kids, two of whom were infants. Yes, I'm a wimp - I know. But this year when Steve called and invited us, our weekend was miracuously free and we decided to go for it. Yes, two 18-month old kids together plus an additional four kids made for some busy parents, but overall the weekend was great fun. I even did a little relaxing, much to my shock and joy. The kids did quite well for the most part - only minor scuffles here and there and all of them quickly repareable.
It was a bit more of an adventure to collect the trees than it had been two years ago - there was so much snow up the canyon that our two cars (theirs: a Tahoe, ours: a Jeep Cherokee) had some troubles getting up. And when I say "troubles" I actually mean that the Tahoe got totally stuck and Troy had to back the Jeep down a couple miles of canyon so he and Steve could go find help. The mommies walked the kids back to the cabin. Well, we walked for an hour or so, which was pretty fun; much stomping and cavorting into the snow banks. After that the two babies were wiped out and Bitty kept collapsing onto her knees in a great show of utter exhaustion. I knew we still had quite a ways to go and was starting to feel anxious about getting through the rest of the journey when suddenly there was a roaring in the distance and about eight guys on snowmobiles pulled up and rescued us. Now, in general I know it's not a good idea to hand off your kids to men on snowmobiles, but seeing as how they zoomed to our rescue at the very moment that my children were about to get dragged down the mountain by their ankles, I thought it was appropriate. And I am grateful to them for stopping.
Troy and Steve were also assisted by some helpful locals - two friendly gents by the name of Kim and Leroy who were not to be found without a beer in hand. (See photo.) They were as nice as could be and insisted that using their big rig truck complete with tire chains to drag out the Tahoe was nothing more than their idea of an afternoon well spent. When Steve insisted on reimbursing them ole Kim and Leroy requested payment in beer. It took a few hours for Troy and Steve to track down the help they needed, but we're so grateful that our help arrived in al its many forms.
The kids were of course disappointed that we didn't get our trees right away, and when Steve and Troy snuck out early Sunday morning on a snowmobile handily located in the basement of the cabin, Stomper was quite envious. But the men brought back a coupe of great trees. It's kind of funny that whenever we get a tree I take a look at it and think to myself that it's too bad that this one won't reach very high in our livingroom with its 10 foot celings. And then we get the thing home and have to chop off three feet and the tip still brushes the celing. Guess I'm not much of a judge of height. It's a lovely tree, and was the result of a lovely weekend.
Some other highlights were:
Watching the two babies toddle around and try to interact with each other. Sometimes one of them would just stand there and watch the other cry for a while, sometimes they'd share crackers or hugs, sometimes they'd try to remove each other's hair.
It was also quite fun to watch the three girls get immersed in some simple little art projects I brought. Troy also took the opportunity of having time on his hands to teach both kids how to play checkers. Stomper even got Troy to give him his first chess lesson and I was surprised at how much Stomper understood and retained. Do I see a chess set in our future? Possibly!
I really loved using the beautiful cabin and getting a chance to sit and knit for a bit. The grownups even stayed up one night and watched a show. I felt like I was dating again, which was rather enjoyable.
One of the best parts of the trip for me is going to sound like it should have really been the worst, but it wasn't. That would be the drive to and from the cabin. Even though we have our new mini van which comfortably holds us all, there's no way it could have made it to the cabin in the deep snow, so we took our jeep. Now, the whole reason we bought the van is because three car seats don't fit in the back of the jeep. So we put Stomper in front (don't worry, no airbags) in his booster and me in the back squashed between the two girls. It was so tight back there that my shoulders are still sore from the carseats pushing in on me. See? Not sounding too fun, right? Well, it's not a situation I want to find myself in too often, but having my own little family all captive together all squashed up just makes me happy. You know, those times when no one is asking for stuff, you have nothing you're trying to get done like the dishes or homework, you're just being together and enjoying the drive. Love it. Thanks, Burnetts, for another fabulous Tree Trek weekend.