Got to spend the day hangin with my kiddos and then I got all dressed up to do a little shopping at Salvation Army. Just kidding, I did go shopping but I got dressed up to go out with my handsome husband :) He took me on a surprise date to La Sandia, then over to Forever21 and Charming Charlie's to window shop. It was so nice to just be together. I had a great birthday and friends and family made it that way! Thanks to Sam and Jenna for babysitting!!
So we discovered earlier this year that Brook had some issues with her teeth. We don't have "the best" brushing hygiene when it comes to our kids, but we try! We eat healthy (mostly), we don't drink a lot of soda, juice, or milk. But Brook has what the dentists like to call "extreme crowding." Without flossing daily (and who flosses their 5 year old's teeth daily?!?), food becomes stuck and consequently rotted two big holes in her four back molars and gave her 6 other minor cavities! All in a year and half! Her last checkup, the x-rays showed perfection. It was fairly devastating for Ben and I (who hardly brushed, much less flossed as young children and we both had minimal cavities). We weren't thrilled about the treatment plan: dental surgery under general anesthesia, but we knew there really wasn't any other choice.
So off to Children's Hospital we went!
Brook was very excited her procedure would be in the pink hallway :)
Waiting patiently to go back to her room
She was so brave! Smiles and giggles the whole time!
Practicing with her oxygen mask
It went well! She lived! And her teeth were fixed!
We enjoyed a few hospital toys while waiting for our car
Rob the jewelry store, tell them "Make Me A Grill!"
She's not too sure about these silver teeth, but I'm sure she'll be thrilled when
the Tooth Fairy pays extra :)
After this, the road went into the mountains and got really windy and cool! They had these bridges called Pigtail Bridges that felt like going on a loop de loop! It was a gorgeous drive.
John & Rachael's family joined us at Mount Rushmore. Once we arrived at the visitors center, we walked out to the edge to see Mount Rushmore up close! It was an amazing sight! Then we headed down to watch a short documentary about Rushmore. It was really neat! I had no idea they used dynamite to shape the mountain. 90% of it was done with strategically placed charges and the other 10% was hand sculpted. It was very interesting!
The girls got to help blow a chunk off :)
The whole fam
This old timer, Nick Clifford, was an original driller!
After our reunion, John's family came with us as we headed to Devil's Tower and Mount Rushmore. We stopped in Buffalo, WY to look at a couple paintings in the Occidental Hotel. They were painted by our great great grandfather, Truman Fox (Neenaw's grandfather). It was so cool to see them displayed in such a neat venue!
The crackle on this oil painting was amazing!
After that, we headed towards Devil's Tower. It was really cool to see from far out- this lone tower in the middle of nowhere!
Legend has it that 8 Native American siblings were walking in the woods when suddenly, the only brother began to turn into a bear. He started to charge his sisters, so they ran to escape him. As they were running, a tree stump called out to them and told them to climb on and he would save them. They climbed on and as the tree stump began to grow taller, the bear grabbed at it with his claws, creating the deep grooves along the sides. The tree continued to grow and the bear could not reach the girls. The seven sisters then became the seven stars of the big dipper. Brook thought the story was really neat.
So fun to be with cousins!
A random deer was walking along the path, right next to us!
We could see rock climbers heading down
(little pink on the middle left)
After the tower, we got a restaurant recommendation from Ben's friend at Regis, Sarah, and headed to Rapid City to eat some amazing pizza!
Then we headed to our campground in Custer State Park, Grace Coolidge Campground. Unfortunately, it was so dark, we didn't get to appreciate the view of the drive. Once we arrived, we set up camp as quickly as we could. We finished at 11:15 and enjoyed a little campfire time.
Finally morning came and we got to enjoy the beautiful sight! This was Jack's first camp out and he did great! He was all snuggled in his little bed :)
Ellie also had some comfortable digs: a tent within a tent
We enjoyed breakfast of cold cereal and danishes, then roasted a few mallows. After, the girls and I took a steaming hot shower... no really, it was HOT. The facilities were so clean and nice! I wish it was closer so we could camp there often!
That is, until we went to explore nearby and found a lot of poison ivy!
We played the license plate game along the whole trip and fared pretty well!
Jack had his first real laugh that morning! It was so cute and not at all coincidental that it was on his first camp out! He's a future mountain man!
This year we got to go to Lodge Grass, MT for the Smith family reunion to see the old family homestead!
Making some banana muffins for the trip
Jack helped with the laundry :)
On the road again!!!
Brook practiced some writing, Ellie played on the iPad, Jack caught some Z's, I tried to block the sun from my face, and Dad drove. And Colorado was being beautiful, as usual :)
Finally, some cousins!!! We met up in Sheridan, WY for a picnic lunch
We got to see the house Neenaw grew up in. She was living here when she met Gran.
Then it was on to Lodge Grass to visit the homestead! Ben was particularly thrilled to see the trestle bridge right on the property. He and Jack watched a few trains go by.
More cousins!! Hooray!
I was very excited to finally get to shoot our Christmas present! The 12 gauge shotgun had some kick! My shoulder was a little sore afterward, but I gave that cow-pie what it had coming!
Saturday morning, we headed into Hardin, MT to enjoy the Little Big Horn Days Parade
Miraculously, no injuries were sustained.
Picnicking with the Aunt Ramona Smiths!
Ellie had a little run in with the cattle guard on the ranch- she straddled it and whacked her face on the bars- poor kid! City girls have a hard time workin those cattle guards!
After the parade, we went to Lodge Grass to see the town and the cemetery where Great Grandparents Maurice Warfield Smith and Ruby Valentine Fox Smith were buried. They are such an important part of our heritage- hard workers and very religious. I am so lucky to come from such wonderful people!
The kids decorated the headstone
And partied in Uncle Matt's RV
Neenaw got to meet Jack for the first time :)
My grandfather, William Ricketts Smith, helped build this cabin for his parents. He was such a hard working, smart, honest man. I miss him so much and I hope I make him proud.
I love these boys
Goodbye, Smith Homestead! We are thankful for you!