Monday, March 12, 2012

Hanna and Happa.

Hanna and Happa are the words for "Grandma" and "Grandpa" on Josh's side. Booker did not coin these loving names, but this is how he knows them. We had a grand visit, and it was very clear that Booker recognized these folks as his family. He loves them. And clearly, they love him. What a lucky thing.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


For many years, Orion's Belt has served as a sort of constant: I have often noticed him hovering on the eve of great changes, and times when I need to be reminded that I can find beauty and goodness in every phase of life. My last evening swim in Hawaii before returning to school in chilly Utah; the eve of embarking on an LDS mission to New York City; and last weekend. He again hovered over us in our very big, very great state of Texas. Beneath that rhinestone cosmic cowboy, this Downs family did find beauty: we went for our first ever family campout in the wilderness! Never mind the fact that we had an electricity outlet, wi-fi, and the hum of the highway in the background; for all intents and purposes, we were in the great outdoors. And we were happy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Digest of our very big trip.

Here we are hiking Independence Rock in Colorado. Booker added a few solid extra pounds to make this moderate hike extremely difficult. He was quite happy, though, "Blah, muah, ma"-ing the whole way. I would be too if I got to be transported in such a slick pack.

At Bear Lake in Utah: you're lookin' at four generations of good, family-loving genes.
This photo should be paired with a favorite mama/baby dance song. Which can be watched here. We love Solange and her really tight dress.

Great Grandpa Genius (His name is Gene. An older cousin, Roan, gave him this name. I believe it will stick.)

Uncle Dallas. Booker was a little fascinated with the pretty drawings all over his skin. He tried to pick them off.

Upside down in Tia Lindsey's strong, safe arms.

My dad, his grandpa.

Again: upside down.

A fun trick.

From Bear Lake we rolled into Salt Lake City for a couple of days, one of which we spent doing SERIOUS thrift shopping with my aunt Lori and brother bear, Dallas. You see, over the past several months I have been gathering and collecting the threads of yesteryear's children. I'll soon be opening an Etsy shop where I will be making these fanciful treasures available to the world!

A few other favorites we saw in Utah. We stuck to the...unique:


The next stop was the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. They didn't allow cameras, but they did allow massive amounts of framed hair art. I fell in love with this AMAZING artistically genius concept. Josh, on the other hand, was dry heaving:

The framed art here is all made of twisted, knotted, braided hair! To make pretty things like flowers and trees.

This one is not actually in the museum--we wouldn't dare violate the Pioneer Daughters' trust-- but you can get an idea of what this wildness is.

(Other items from the museum not pictured)
"The smallest pitcher made by a deaf Mexican boy." Actual text.
Two-headed lamb.
Human baby skull.
A wreathe made entirely of all the early LDS church leaders' hair.
A complete replica of the Salt Lake City Temple made of sugar cubes.
And much, much more.

It was a rich trip.

The last leg of our mighty trip took us to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Josh's dad used his fine ability to craft these balloon-propelled boats. While we didn't get to race them (none of the moms wanted wet kids in their cars on the way home), Booker's sits proudly on the shelf in his room.

A treasure hunt, arranged and carried out by Josh.

The very scary pirate--with Goofy ears--guarding the buried treasure. The kids were an unbreakable team when it came to following the map, but when it came to dividing the booty, they initially didn't understand why each item wasn't individually designated for each hunter. Holding true to the traditional concept of buried treasure (mostly because of the lack of forethought), it became more of a free-for-all. In the end, all these buccaneers were happy.

Unfortunately, Booker did not make it in this photo of all the Downs' grandchildren. He was sleeping off a sinus infection. But what a bunch of cuties!

Aside from the carpeted restroom and a few sick members of this family, the second leg of this trip was a success. And now we're home. Safe, and happy, and home.

One more goody. A trick.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Warm Fuzzies.

What to do when I post 40 jars of handed-me-down baby food meat in little, watery jars (for Booker: I have a policy that I won't feed him anything I wouldn't eat. Except breast milk. I won't eat that.) to Freecycle, and I get two people who could "really use it"? Here's the actual text: you be the judge:

Freecycler 1: "I really need them there's a lot of single moms at church and they have small children if you can hold them for tomorrow morning I can go and pick them up."

Convincing. And...

Freecycler 2: "I would like to ask for your consideration - this is not for myself but for a friend who has a cat with cancer and the only way she can get the cat to take the medication is to put it in meat baby food. If you are willing to let me take it for this purpose, I am sure she will be most grateful."

Final decision: I split it. Single moms get 25 jars, and the cat with cancer will get 15. Lucky cat. I earned my warm fuzzy for the day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Vamos a la biblioteca, Juan! (Posted by Josh)

It's a Sunday and we are fiending for something sweet. No bake cookies it is but alas we have no butter. In the dark, I am sent to the house to the right. We've had dinner with them, I've watched soccer games with the husband, they've given Booker toys...good neighbors, to be sure.
But they aren't home.
I consider the next house to the right who I've never interacted with, but who seem like nice people. Something about a sizable group of women smoking on the porch keeps me walking.
I consider the third house to the right; a retired couple with a great lawn. Once, they offered to watch Booker after only a five-minute conversation with us. "We do it all the time" she said. It was a reluctant and silent "no" to that offer, but maybe they'd be good for some butter. Not home.
Next I spot one of the neighbors to the left, watering her lawn. We haven't associated with her and her family much up until tonight. We looked at their wares during a garage sale once. We've said "hi." They have weekly parties that make for some memories. Memories not so much from the revelers peeling out into the street in a drunken stupor, but the honest-to-goodness, straight-from-the-movies drinking songs that stop just short of them knocking their bottles out of the air with their six-shooters. At any given time the husband and associates are sitting in the dark, conversing. Tonight I gave them something else to chat about. This is how it played out, straight from Spanish II back in Senor Roling's class:

Me: Hi.

Neighbor woman who's watering grass in the light of the streetlamp: Hi.

Me: Do you have butter?

Neighbor woman: (Puzzled look)

Me: Um, tienes manteca?---Do you have butter?

Neighbor woman: (Puzzled look again, then ventures a guess) Margarina?

Me: Si, es como margarina. Hay margarina y hay otro...manteca. O mantequilla?---Yes, it is like margarine. There is margarine and there is the other--butter. Or how about mantequilla (also a word for butter)?

Neighbor woman: (Puzzled look again. A pause. Then in English:) Butter?

Me: Si, si.

Neighbor woman: (Goes inside and gets tub of butter)

Husband sitting in the dark with friend watching the whole thing: (Laughs)

Me: Gracias. (I flee back to the house with my bucket of manteca or mantequilla. Or butter as it
is apparently called south of the border.)

I like our neighborhood. Mucho.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

In awe.

There are a million anxiety-provoking things that accompany pregnancy. And a million anxiety-provoking people who do not really help that situation. Each of these women has to face this monstrous, multifarious list of things-to-be-understood. What TYPE of delivery? Is my doctor one I trust? Where to buy clothes, and what will really be useful? What classes to take? How do I measure up to averages and charts?...And the list goes on and on. But then it stops, and amazingly each of these women goes from grasping and a bit wobbly, to finally finding her sea legs.

Saturday I spent the day hopping from one shower to the next, and I noticed this. And also remembered it in myself. The great shift from doubt and frustration and a million questions, to confidence. A confidence that I love watching my expecting-mother-friends attain.

And, as always, a few pictures of the boy:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Keep Blowin' That Whistle

Try telling the children of Houston to "stop running" when they encounter this chilly fountain of life: their reprieve from the soul-sucking Houston summer. Yes, authoritative-man-in-the-red-shirt, keep blowing that whistle.

Fortunately, this little one is incapable of running, making us the proud parents of a rule abiding citizen kid (However, yesterday he was empowered with mobilization by performing his first SCOOT. Yes, a scoot. A backwards scoot.)

More water fun to follow:

First time swimming.


And I just think this one is cute. I made that little monster muscle tank (printed it, at least). Suits him well, right?