Tuesday, August 26, 2014


 Aside from my extended family reunion at Aspen Grove and more immediate family reunion in Canada, McKay and I also had a reunion for his side of the family in Colorado! Now that we have to pay for Lincoln's plane tickets, too, we did the math and realized that it would be considerably cheaper for us to road trip our merry little way to Colorado. Driving was about twenty-two hours ONE WAY, more with breaks. I was a teensy bit worried since Lincoln has not had the same road trip-heavy childhood as I experienced in my youth, and I fully expected to be pulling over every hour so he could run around. But THANK HEAVEN for portable DVD players! I think he was the best traveler of all of us with "Cars" there to entertain him. Over and over and over.

  We did have one mishap, though. McKay was spending his non-driving time sketching (how he did it--and so well!--in a moving car is beyond me), so he had some really, really sharp pencils lying around. At one rest stop, Lincoln was walking through the car, and started screaming, so I turned around to see the pencil sticking out of his heel. It was stuck in so far I had to physically pull it out, and Lincoln was (understandably) freaked out. Heck, I was freaked out. We put a band aid on his battle wound, but he kept trying to pull it off, so the rest of the trip was made with one sock on. It was too hot for both.

 Also, no pants. Screw that.

   Colorado is always fun because McKay's mom is excellent at planning. Every day there was something fun to do, including a repeat favorite from last year that I can't remember the name of. Mining Town? Something like that. Anyway, it's one of those magical places that makes every member of the party sign a waver, due to attractions like this:

  This jungle-gym type attraction goes up three stories. When I went on it last year, the workers were not aware that you could  cinch up the tether. Meaning, if I fell, I would likely break a leg, but probably avoid death. Which certainly gives added adrenaline to trying to make your way across a line of swinging ropes. I opted not to do it again this year, as I was jelly-legged the rest of the day after my experience last year.

  There are also hamster balls you can crawl in and play on a small water area. They're fun for about thirty seconds, and then you're exhausted. By the time they drag you back, you're light-headed from the built-up carbon dioxide in your bubble, not to mention the strong smell of feet. Because we're good parents (*snort*), we decided to see if Lincoln would enjoy this experience.

  He did not.

 Blowing up the bubble is extremely loud and startling when you're inside. They immediately deflated Lincoln's bubble after blowing it up. Poor guy.

  To make up for the trauma, Lincoln went on the train four or five times. Trains are good.

Ben photobombing.
The large blow-up slide was also a favorite.

  Crashing hard after playing hard. McKay's brother, Spencer, and his lovely wife, Nikki. And Lincoln.

   I didn't take any pictures while we were in their beautiful cabin in the mountains, unfortunately, but that's always a highlight. 

  We had such a good time visiting with McKay's family! Forty-four hours on the road well-spent.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Waterton 2014

  I love Waterton. I think it's the closest thing in the real world to Disneyland's Main Street, USA. Which is ironic since it's in Canada. It's not that the houses look like the ones that characterize Disneyland's idealistic small town (darn), but that same happy feeling that characterizes Main Street also pervades Waterton.

  Everything seems happier there. There are countless fun activities. The air even seems fresher there.

  This year one of my favorite things was the way Lincoln's cousins played so nicely with him. In the two weeks we were there his speaking ability got exponentially better with the other kids playing and talking with him all day. I was so grateful to them and how inclusive they were, it made my heart grow three sizes. Like the Grinch.

  McKay also took on the famous Crypt hike this year, which takes ALL DAY. I hear it's beautiful and it's got amazing varieties in its landscape . . . But I'm a wienie, and I'd rather do something that doesn't leave me with the inability to walk the next day (that sounds like an exaggeration. It's not). So I opted out.
 I love my dorky family.
 This is James' default facial expression.

 I did go on a couple hikes, but they we called them "nature walks" because "hiking" sounds hard.


  The only thing I dislike about Waterton is that my body has become conditioned to crave sugar there. Last year dad made cinnamon bread EVERY DAY. And I ate about half a loaf EVERY DAY, with liberal butter. Mmmmmm . . . I'm salivating just thinking of it. We also routinely go out for ice cream, and my mother and sister, Nicole, are both excellent bakers, so we routinely have irresistible desserts just BEGGING to be eaten as well. For a place where exercise is never more easy (or enjoyable!) I always gain a rather ridiculous amount of weight. C'est la vie. Hehe, I just wrote french! Like a fancy person!

   P.S. Did you see on facebook that I finished my book? I totally did. I'm editing it, and you know what? It's not that bad. It definitely could use some improvement, but I'm not depressed and thinking I was stupid to even attempt writing a book. I'm ridiculously excited by that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Measure for Measure"

 When I was seven years old, my parents took me to see my first Shakespeare play, "Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. One play, that's all it took, and it was hooked. I wanted to be on that stage. I wanted to wear those beautiful costumes, say those beautiful, nonsensical words, and play pretend for hours on end.

  In June I got to fulfill this lifelong dream of mine. It wasn't in the Utah Shakespeare Festival--those guys are crazy talented, I could only dream of having half their ability--but it was satisfying nonetheless to know that I could memorize lots and lots of obscure lines written by the Bard. Lines such as, "This outward sainted deputy whose settled visage and deliberate word nips youth i' the head and follies doth emmew as falcon doth the fowl is yet a devil. His filth within being cast he would appear a pond as deep as Hell."

   I was so friggin' proud of myself when I could finally say that line verbatim. Even prouder when I figured out what the crap it meant.

  "Measure for Measure" is a . . . unique play. Even people who love Shakespeare (such as myself) are often unfamiliar with it. That is because "M4M" is one of the friggin' weirdest comedies ever.

  There are some weird tragedies I'll grant you ("Titus Andronicus", anyone?), but usually the comedies are a bit lighter. But technically the definition of "comedy" (in Shakespeare terms) is that it ends with marriages rather than deaths. And this play fits that bill in the strictest sense.

  In our "Measure for Measure", I played Isabella, a nun who is about to take her vows. Isabella's brother, Claudio, is thrown in jail for getting his common-law wife (not for realsies, though) pregnant. He is sentenced to death, because the judge in charge while the duke is "away" is . . . strict. To put it lightly.

  Isabella goes to plead his case to the very pious and upright judge, Angelo, . . . who promptly falls in love with her. He demands that she sleep with him if she wants her brother freed.


   The duke who is normally in charge is in disguise (it's Shakespeare, after all). Due to the clever disguise, he ("she" in our version) finds out about the creepiness going on and does a classic Shakespeare switcheroo. The girl that Angelo had been engaged to (but had the misfortune to lose her dowry, so he won't touch that) goes to him disguised as Isabella.
  Aaaaaand the judge still orders Isabella's brother executed--EVEN THOUGH HE TOTALLY THINKS HE JUST GOT IT ON WITH HER--because he thinks her brother will seek retribution.

ANOTHER Shakespeare switcheroo, the duke has the head of another man sent to the judge . . .

The only reason this play is considered a comedy for reals is because of this guy right here. Chuck is a master. He played Pompey, a tapster turned executioner's assistant.

  Isabella is distraught, and agrees to confront Angelo in front of a ginormous crowd.

  In the middle of all the confronting, the duke is revealed to be the duke. Then all the revelations and marrying take place, because THIS IS A COMEDY, DARN IT. Claudio's alive--HOORAY!--
This is pretty funny when you know the Duke was played by Claudio's real-life mother.
    Angelo is forced to marry Mariana (the girl he'd been engaged to before the ship-wrecked dowry disaster).
Forced marriage instead of execution. All the makings of a happy ending.
 And the duke proposes to Isabella because comedy, remember? The duke did not propose in our version, however, as the character was played by a woman and it was set in the fifties.

  If I could sum up my part in two words, they would be:

And crying.

  Often both at the same time.

  I LOVED the cast of "Measure for Measure". I had a lot of fun with them. I loved singing "We Are Siamese If You Please" with Javan, who played Claudio, in the makeup room. I loved talking Firefly, Doctor Who, and everything nerd with all the other geeks in the cast. We had interesting discussions on morality, marriage, and other serious topics that were kept respectful despite our many varied backgrounds. We really had some good times.

  That said, if asked to put on the show again, I would have to pause. This role took a lot out of me. On any given night of rehearsal, I would have to kneel and/or cry about fifteen times. Let me tell you, spontaneously sobbing and falling down in grief over and over and OVER is no day in the park. So the night of our last performance was a bit of a relief. If for no other reason than I would never have to say "Even for our [ow-er not "are", took me forever to say it right] kitchens we kill the fowl of season" again. Seriously, try saying that five times fast. 

  Despite this, I'm really, really proud of myself and my performances. I wasn't sure I could do such a heavy role justice, and I think I passed muster.

    I'd like to thank everyone involved with "Measure for Measure". To the director, for giving me a chance to live out my dream. To the cast, for being awesome. To all the crew who worked like crazy. And everyone else I'm forgetting because I'm a jerk. 

  Thank you. Really. Emotional exhaustion aside, it was great times.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Last Aspen Grove

  Now that all the summer-pallooza is over and I'm tired of moping about it, I can finally play catch up! . . . . yayyyyyyy?

  Anyway, kicking off the summer travelling was Aspen Grove! I was on the fence on whether or not to go this year, as I was in the middle of the run for "Measure for Measure", the show I was currently in. I arrived at Aspen Grove two days late (Monday, the something-th) beacuse the ONE Sunday show "M4M" had was the weekend Aspen Grove started. I was also supposed to leave Aspen Grove a day early because I had to get back to Oregon for the ONE Thursday show we had. Bad timing all around. But as it was The Last Aspen Grove, I really wanted to be there, even if it was only for three days.

  And, boy, did Aspen Grove want to make those days memorable.

  The weather in late June can be dicey at times, given "June Gloom" and whatnot. But we've been there many, many years in June (we've been going for twenty years, after all), and I didn't think much about packing anything heavier than a light jacket for Lincoln and myself.

  So of course this ensued:

  Okay, that might be anticlimactic if you can't tell what happening. If that's the case, IT WAS SNOWING. IN LATE JUNE. ON PIONEER FUN TIME THINGY NIGHT. ON MOM'S BIRTHDAY.

  Those last two weren't especially shocking, but I like emphasis.

  We got up to the usual Aspen Grove shenanigans before this whole snowing business, though.

  Like turtle riding.

 Hanging out with cousins. This is actually Lincoln's cousin, Autry, who spread the joy of Winnie the Pooh like a disease. An adorable, catchy-tune DISEASE.
 Lincoln playing with his new car with Grandpa Ken.
Aren't my parents adorable? No one told them to do this. They just snuggle for all the world to see, like they like each other or something.

  It was great seeing everyone, but from the first night there was a problem.

  The first night I got there we went to Tucano's to celebrate Mom's birthday (a few days early so as not to interfere with Pioneer Fun Night Thingy [not actual name] which none of us ended up going to due to SNOW).

  Tucano's was basically a disaster. After we put two large tables together (managing to break two plates in the process), my little niece Kaylee threw up. We chalked this up to the winding road to get there from Aspen Grove and proceeded to order.

  And then she threw up again. And again. The waiter took this all in good stride, bless him.

  Just a few minutes before we were leaving, Lincoln spilled his (very sticky) juice all over the floor, and threw the crackers I'd given him into the sticky juice puddle for good measure.

  The waiter earned a very, very good tip that night.

  We optimistically hoped that Kaylee's upset stomach was food related. But as it slowly spread through our ranks, we became steadily more paranoid. Friendly hugs and other touching became a distant memory of happier times.

  Thursday at midnight, the day I was scheduled to leave, I woke up and  knew I was doomed.

  At least once an hour I was forced to leave my bed and rush for the bathroom. I would have sobbed through the night, but I was too tired. I got no sleep, and I (being the wienie I am) prayed I would either get better soon or die. The one mercy was that Lincoln slept through the entire thing, despite sleeping in a rickety crib at the foot of my bed.

  I had to cancel my flight and miss one of my last three shows. I felt dreadful on every level. Mom was an angel of mercy and took Lincoln for the entire day. By noon I managed to fall in and out of sleep between bathroom visits. Doctor Who playing on my phone was my only company.

  It was better that way.

  The next day I was feeling much better, if not at 100%. Mom drove me to the airport and halfway down the mountain, Lincoln threw up.

  That was when I cried.

  Turned out to be a false alarm (warm milk mixed with winding drive is not a good idea, in case you were wondering), and we got home without a hitch. HOORAY!

  Flying back home I was less sad that I would not be returning to Aspen Grove. Thanks for all the other memories, though, AG. The non-vomit related ones. It really was good times. I'll miss the week of not preparing my own food. Of seeing my extended family. Of trampolines, crafts, the incredibly cheap-priced candy store, actually getting exercise without it feeling like a chore, and so much more.

  Insert sweet, memorable last line here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Week of the Gallbladder

  About a month ago, I woke up at four AM on a Sunday morning in extreme pain. The kind of pain you can't escape from, not with changing position, not with pills, there's no relief, ever. McKay was sweet and stayed up with me, looking things up on Web MD and giving me massages, but nothing seemed to help.

  At eight, I was giving up hope that the pain was going to go away by itself, so I texted my Dad. Who informed me that my time was up. It was Gallbladder Season, a very much non-magical time in every Beesley girl's life when your gallbladder just up and decides that it hates you and wants to cause as much havoc as possible before it's removed.

  Fast forward one week. My gallbladder is removed. This made me happy, not just because it meant I could eat cheese again (a week without cheese is a long week indeed), but because it meant the bestest possible outcome ever.

  My mom was coming to take care of me.

 The first couple of days were pretty quiet. My big outing Monday was going to Costco, and even that left me shaking by the end. Getting your gallbladder out is weird, because for the first week, you can feel your organs rearranging themselves every time you stand up. It's a funny, nauseous kind of feeling. But by Wednesday, I was able to stand for longer periods of time.

  Mom is like a fairy godmother, making everything better everywhere she goes. And, like Cinderella's godmother, I always end up looking a whole lot better by the time she leaves. This is because we both love shopping, and I live pretty close to a tax-free outlet mall. Woot, Oregon!

  Thursday I was recovering from our epic shopping trip, so we stayed more low-key, walking around Corvallis' downtown, and eating far too much dessert at a local bakery.

   I loved showing Mom Oregon, because it was like everything was new and exciting again. Flowered bushes? BEAUTIFUL. Victorian houses? GORGEOUS. A bridge over a lake? AMAZING. I think I almost had Mom converted and ready to move . . . until the snake. But we'll not get too into that. Suffice to say, Mom's screaming broom action, herding the snake out my front door (yes, it was indoors. IN MY KITCHEN), was the most terrifying, hilarious thing I've ever seen.

  Friday was our last day, and Mom really wanted to see Newport. We stopped at the aquarium first.

   This otter was either snoozing, or doing a great impression of it. 

The sea lions were a big hit.

   I love the aquarium in Newport because they've got lots of interactive parts for kids. It was hard to tear Lincoln away from every section. Lincoln loved fishing, though eventually he figured out it was just easier to reach in the barrel and grab them out by hand. Who needs a pole? I think if he ever goes fishing for reals, though, he's going to be disappointed that magnets are not actually the best bait.
   Touching an anemone. You're allowed in this part, I promise. It's pretty awesome.


After the aquarium, Lincoln was pretty close to shutting down completely. It was already past nap time, and he was FREAKING OUT. But Mom really wanted to see the beach. So we headed over to the coast, and thank goodness we did, because I've never seen such fantastic weather there. Not only was it not very windy, the water was, if not warm, a tolerable kind of cold! AMAZING!
   Lincoln took some convincing at first that the sand was not, in fact, evil. He mistrusted it deeply, but once we got in the cooler, more hard-packed stuff by the water, he seemed to have accepted it. Even, dare I say, enjoy it.

  Once Mom and Lincoln were in the water, all bets were off. Lincoln LOVED the waves, racing in until he was chest-deep. I, being the over-prepared Beesley that I am, had brought him a swimsuit and change of clothes, but hadn't really expected I'd need it. But it turned out that for once I wasn't prepared ENOUGH, as Mom and I both wished we'd done the same for us. Lincoln continued to run heedlessly into the waves, laughing manically, having no healthy amount of fear in him. Luckily Mom was always next to him, holding his hand as he charged deeper and deeper into the water. He probably could have continued to jump in the waves for hours, but once he started shivering we decided to call it quits. He fell asleep almost instantly on the way home.

   For reasons we could never discern, Lincoln called my mom "Die-to" all week. Not sure what that was about, but when she drove away Saturday, the rest of the weekend he would look around and fretfully ask, "Die-to? Die-to?" It broke my heart, because I missed her, too.

  Mom's the best. Wish I had another gallbladder to remove to get her back.

  OH, also, you want to see what gallstones look like?
  Yuuup, my body made those. Pretty gross, right? Lincoln was fascinated and liked using the container as a maraca. I'm eternally grateful that the lid didn't pop off.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Easter 2014

  Lincoln loved dying eggs, but easily staining dye makes me anxious, so McKay was put in charge of helping Lincoln with all artistic endeavors.
   But they quickly finished their designs, and Lincoln became much more fascinated with the stickers. But if it was fun to put them on the eggs, that was nowhere near as fun as it was putting them on daddy. And McKay retaliated in kind.

The Master at work.

The day of the big event, Lincoln had no recollection of how Easter worked from last year. He went outside with his basket, and this ensued:

  Kind of long and boring if you're not his grandparent, sorry (also, "Snape" is what we call the snake that lives under our carport, in case you were wondering). Once he realized candy was in those plastic suckers, though, all bets were off. Which was good, getting in the spirit of things, EXCEPT that every single egg he picked up, he immediately wanted to crack open and consume his spoils. Normal reaction, but there was a problem: I always buy far, far too much candy. I restrained myself to two bags this year. But neither of those included Cadburry Mini Eggs or the Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. So I had to get a bag of each of those, too. The end result being that we had SO MANY EGGS, we had to come inside to dump out his basket so there would be room for more.
 I have a problem.
 The hard-won spoils of war. Or Easter.


 Another Easter egg hunt video, if you're so inclined:

  Lincoln's problem was that once he actually had found all 4,326 eggs, he still wanted more. Not candy, necessarily. Just the thrill of the chase. So, despite my declarations that the Easter Bunny only comes once, McKay re-hid the eggs. Four times. Eventually Lincoln got tired of waiting while McKay hid the eggs, so he started hiding them himself, too. This largely consisted of him throwing the eggs randomly, three of which ended up under the car. We're too big and too lazy to crawl under the car (or, heaven forbid, move it), so McKay cajoled Lincoln into hunting them himself.

 "How do we get to it? Hmmm . . . "

  And then lots and lots and lots of candy was consumed by all. And we all lived happily ever after, the end.