Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kennedy Adventure

Admittedly Scott and I are news/political junkies. So, naturally tonight when I got home from a Baptism at the church and saw the Kennedy's approaching Arlington Cemetery for the burial of Senator Ted Kennedy I said, "We should go!" And surprisingly Scott agreed. We got in the van, kids in their PJ's, and drove ten minutes to Arlington Cemetery. Why? Well, you probably guessed that I am not exactly a Kennedy fan. Well, with the exception of John Jr. anyway. I cried when his plane went down, simply because no one that beautiful should die so young. But I digress the truth is neither Scott nor I have ever really endorsed any of Senator Kennedy's political agendas, especially this Health Care fiasco. But, the Kennedy family is a part of American history and who knows maybe my kids will have to write a report on the man some day and they can tell their teachers that they were at Arlington when Ted was buried. We arrived to surprisingly few people and I jumped out of the van to go exploring. I wandered off alone into part of the Cemetery. I was a little nervous since the place was crawling with Secret Service, but I figured if I wasn't supposed to be there, some one would let me know fast. It was a dark night and a little scary since, no one else was around and I was in a cemetery after all. But, I kept wandering deeper into the cemetery hoping to get a glimpse of the family near the eternal flame of JFK. I almost jumped out of my skin when some creepy guy on a bike sneaked up behind me and said, "You're beautiful." I had to fight every emotion in my body not to run away as fast as I could but I somehow maintained my composure and walked really quickly to the safety of the crowds ditching creepy bike man. Meanwhile Scott and the boys held down the fort in the van on the side of the road.

I approached the news vans parked along the street and found a girl from CNN with a live feed of what was happening. She let me know when the family and President Obama were leaving the burial plot, not that I needed any help figuring that out because seconds before Obama's limousine aka "the beast" drove past at supersonic speed the secret service was screaming like mad for us to get out of the way.

Sorry, I know the pictures are bad. The president's cars were going so fast I wasn't able to get a good picture of "the beast" but this is one of the Secret Service SUV's bringing up the rear of Obama's motorcade. The news crew put a camera in my face as the Presidential fleet flew by and I think I was on CNN but I don't have any proof. Again not a big fan of Obama but it was still impressive being 2 feet away from his motorcade. Atley was over the moon to see "the beast." I went back to the van to stand with Scott and the boys while the Kennedy's left the cemetery. Most were in long black limousines escorted by the secret service and D.C. police officers. But, some of the children were in a big U.S. army bus.

When we assumed the last of the Kennedy funeral procession had passed we flipped the van around to head home. Little did we know the procession was not over and we were now smack dab in the middle of it. Right in front of us was what we assumed was the last of the Kennedy Funeral cars. Of course we thought it would continue to where ever it was going and we could continue home but it stopped along with the entire party directly in front of us, facing the Lincoln Memorial. And pulling up behind us was what appeared to be the rest of the Kennedy family. Yes, there we sat, a bright blue mini-van with a BYU Alumni license plate in the middle of the Kennedy Funeral procession.

We were a little mortified and a little scared. What to do next? Well, it didn't take long until the police directed us out of the funeral procession. We passed the Kennedy clan on the left and in my ever so reverent way, I hung out of the sun roof to flash a few more pictures. We are high class, let me tell ya! I learned one thing, pretending to be a democrat is really exhilarating!

You can actually identify the people in this picture if you click on it to enlarge. The dark-haired gentleman is William Kennedy Smith, he was the Kennedy accused of rape while with the Senator in Palm Beach. His mother the last surviving Kennedy-Jean Smith is directly behind him.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Joker

Someone asked me recently, "How do you have time to blog?" Answer, I make time because I really like it. It is a creative outlet for me. Then I was asked, "Well, what do your boys do while your blogging?" Answer, well, it doesn't take me long to write a post and before I sit down to write I always make sure that they are anxiously engaged in a good cause. That of course was my answer last week, before Nash decided to paint his face with magic marker to look like the JOKER while I was blogging and while I was convinced he was anxiously engaged in this so called good cause! I sincerely hope that his resemblance to the JOKER is only skin deep! But, I'm a little nervous!

Frequent Fliers

Anyone who spends more than a minute with my boys know their obsession with airplanes. Hence, the reason why we spend so much time hanging out at Airplane Museums, Airports, Air shows, etc. Here are a few pictures of the boys home made aircraft and yesterday's trip to one of the Smithsonian Museums of Air and Space.

Our Basement Boeing 737! "Control Tower, are we clear for take off?"

Words can't even express the excitement level in my munchkins when we visit the museum. Check out Nash's vertical jump for joy! Now that is impressive.

Here is a picture of the ENOLA GAY, the airplane that dropped one of the Atomic Bombs on Japan during WWII. The curator explained the circumstances in the following way. Apparently, the pilots were not aware of what type of bomb they were carrying. This information was kept secret for fear that the military personnel would possibly back out of the operation if they knew the damage they were about to inflict on the Japanese. I guess the pilots figured it out pretty quickly when the mushroom cloud produced by the bomb exceeded their airplanes 31,000 feet of altitude by more than 2 miles nearly causing them to crash.

Some of the boys favorite aircraft include the SR-71 Blackbird. This plane flew from L.A. to Washington D.C. in 64 minutes in 1990, averaging well over 2000 miles per hour. Atley's favorite plane is the Concorde. In fact, he recently informed a French Missionary that the Concorde stopped flying not because of the 2000 fatal crash near Paris but because, and I quote, "operating costs were too high."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

As I promised...

Here it is the tour of my hometown! First I must say I never realized that my upbringing was unique until I started teaching school in the ghetto's of Atlanta. In fact, stories of my youth became so popular with my students that I used it as a discipline method. I would tell stories about my childhood on Fridays if my students managed to behave all week, which, I must add, was rare. It was while teaching that I realized one, I was pretty lucky to have been born where I was born and two, my childhood seemed to parallel the childhood of others the only difference being their childhood occurred at least 50 years previous to my own. Yes, this is the topic of which a Newsweek article was written entitled something to the effect, "the town that time forgot." Unfortunately I can't find proof of this article's existence so I am writing my own.

I hope you can read the sign above that says,"POP. 750" make that 749, afterall, I left remember? Someone built this beautiful introduction to my hometown for their Eagle Scout project. Sanford was settled by early pioneers sent from the headquarters of the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City as an effort to develop Southern Colorado.

This is main street, essentially the only paved street in town and obviously absent of all stoplights. In fact, main street is so small that if you timed it right you could stick a spot light out of your truck window and manage to put out every single street light in town before the first one would come back on. According to my last count there are at least 13 stop signs in Sanford. Seven of which I ran when I was sixteen, not knowing the cop was following behind me with his lights off, very stealth, right? When he finally pulled me over my mom drove by and started yelling at me from her car window. She actually saved me a ticket because our town cop simply said, "Drive home Melisa I think your mom can take better care of this problem than I can."

This is the house I grew up in, smack dab in the middle of Sanford's main street. I felt like I was at the center of the universe. My house was the meeting place for most of the important events in my early life and whenever anyone drove past they would honk their horn, especially my friend Shae. Shae's car, charmingly we called the car Patsy, had a tendency to honk without being asked and generally at times when we were trying to be inconspicuous. Sometimes Patsy would honk for a solid ten minutes before being quiet. Patsy was like our master of ceremonies constantly announcing our arrival at each and every social event.

So, where do you shop in such a small town? Well, you don't, not really anyway. We didn't even have a gas station. But, we had a few shopping options when I was a kid. Above is Arlene's house. We were able to buy penny candy there after school and yes, the candy was really a penny. Below is Scott's Country Store, this was where we spent most of our lunch breaks from 7th grade until we graduated. Scott makes a great green chili-cheese burger at his store. Scott also hosted a weekly meeting in his store to discuss books and current events. He called this little club F.O.B. or Friends of Ben, (Ben Franklin that is). My dad was a founding member.

So, what do you do for fun in a small town? Well, sports of course ruled and continues to rule life in Sanford just as it does in most small American towns. Life at home stops, including school, when there is a football or basketball game. The whole town shows up and when the game is over it is a topic of conversation for the rest of the week, until the next contest begins. We also rode horses, although I was half-way afraid of my paint horse named Skeeter. He was a bit of a spook. Although the stories my friends and I used to make up about our superior skills as horsewomen were second to none.
Hay gets trucked out of my hometown to dairy farms in Texas and throughout the country on a daily basis. So, a favorite pastime was playing on top of these enormous stacks of hay, building forts with smaller bales, and playing king of the mountain in smaller stacks.

The Sanford Canal was built by early settlers to irrigate the fields around the town. In the summer time we would float down the canal on tubes, from one end of town to another and then catch crawdads in the water when we were done.

I never learned to swim very well, but what I did learn I learned in the rivers around Sanford. Mischief seemed to direct us to the river most summer nights and weekends. Different parts of the river had different names, like the Sanford Beach, or The Partying Grounds. The bridge below is where I jumped off into the icy water the night before high school graduation. It seemed like a harmless thing to do, until I caught a horrible cold and lost my voice. I had to sing at our graduation ceremony. I am living proof that Heavenly Father helps even stupid people, because I was granted my singing voice for the song and then it was completely gone for several days.

When we weren't at the river we spent a lot of time in two different places. The prairie and on top of Saddle Back, the mountain in the photo that looks the most like a saddle. A quick climb up the rattle snake infested Saddle Back gave you the most optimum view of our quaint little hamlet. We used to take the "city boys" (not Scott) who thought Sanford would better be known as Hicksville up that mountain. Then we would pretend to be afraid of some strange noise. The boys would get all tough and excited that they were going to have their chance to protect us poor defenseless girls and then we would take off running down the mountain, hide in the sage brush and scare them nearly to death as I recall. Once, after terrifying one of these boys we watched him roll down the mountain and then pee his pants. He honestly thought we were witches after that night and would never speak to us again.

The prairie on a summer night was not the place for any PETA members. We spent the hours in the time-honored tradition of RAT STOMPING. That's right, walking through the brush at night and watching the rats and mice scurrying around our feet while competing to see who could stomp the most. The boys were always armed and shot anything that moved. I am still surprised none of us got killed. Once we shot a coyote on the prairie. Then we waited until it got really stiff and smelly too. Next, we twisted its limbs into a totally inappropriate gesture and placed him on the steps of the church early one Sunday morning. Yeah, everyone that was us!

One of my buddies had a generator and an old TV. We would take that generator and TV out to the prairie on a Saturday night and watch Horror Movies on an old couch we found at the dump. It was that terrifying fun that you couldn't get enough of as a kid.

The cemetery was always good for a few laughs. In fact, being scared and scaring other people was our favorite thing to do. My mom gave us the idea of laying on the graves with white sheets over us. Then when a car would pass by we would rise up from the dead. We almost caused several traffic accidents when we played this game. The cemetery wasn't always fun though. We buried several friends while we were in high school, and I think most of us still struggle to understand why they were taken from us. Hey, but on a lighter note check out the sign for the Sanford Cemetery (another eagle project). The sign actually says "welcome!" Really? Isn't that ironic? Notice the picture of the spooky looking tombstones. These markers used to glow in the middle of the night. We would hang out around the "glowing grave" and tell ghost stories late at night. Even my little boys have visited the glowing grave.

The dirt roads and fields around home were where I learned to drive and where I got my first kiss. My friends and I snuck out one night and met some boys under these trees on a deserted back road outside of town. Not exactly romantic, but it got the job done.

Not following through on a dare was a cardinal sin as a kid. Twice my friends dared me to "SHOOT the MOON." Of course I did. First, I stuck my bare butt out of the back window of our school bus while in route to a basketball game. I watched in ever increasing horror as the car following our bus never turned, but just kept following us all the way to the parking lot of the school where the basketball game would be held. The two men in the car waited for the bus to unload, anxiously waiting for the last passenger. I was the last one off and therefore the first one confronted by these two men, none other than the referees for our game that evening. The second time I was prompted to "Moon" someone the exact same thing happened only this time I managed to moon the mayor of our town, Gary Bailey. The mayor's home is pictured below.

There are two buildings in Sanford. The Mormon Church and the School. So, of course all activity in the town centered around these two structures. It also helped that they were only separated by a baseball field. It was in the parking lot of this church under a light pole that I first saw my future husband. I was twelve, he was thirteen and he was trying to break into this enormous blue car with a Disneyland bumper sticker on the back. I knew the car well, it belonged to the Vannoy family. They lived close to me on Main street. I had a role in the 24th of July Pageant but was kicked out of the church building until my part began for being to loud. I yelled at the boys for their criminal actions and they laughed and said it was their cousin's car. The Vannoy's hadn't mentioned any cousins to me, especially cute ones who happened to be felons. I ran into the church and told the Bishop. At some point in the evening I was introduced to the boys, one being Scott, the other a cousin and when I realized they were generally law abiding children we were almost inseparable for the rest of the summer. I would never be the same!

Across from the church is the Sanford post office. Our post master lived in this house/post office throughout my childhood. This is where I went to mail back all of the letter's that a younger Scott Butler wrote to me after our first summer together. Of course I didn't send them until I had ripped them into a million tiny pieces, all because the boys at school were hassling me about being in love with a "City BOY!" Eventually, I proved them right. I was in love with a city boy.

Kindergarten through 12th grade students all go to school in this building. There were 26 kids in my class, only 8 were boys and we were together everyday for 13 years. The same group of kids, in all the same classes for years and years. There were problems, but we also developed a incomprehensible bond with one another. This is the building where I went to three proms, four homecoming dances, and four Sadie Hawkins dances. This is the building where I found a chicken in my locker my junior year and where I got caught kissing my boyfriend behind the stairs in 8th grade. I got into my first fist fight by the swings in 3rd grade and got my first spanking by Mr. Mortensen our principal.
This was the first of three spankings that I received in elementary school, but maybe the only one I really deserved. I certainly didn't deserve the whallop I got for hitting Mrs. Canty with a piece of clay in the back of the head while she was writing on the chalk board, but I got one anyway. School was where we were forced to eat all of our school lunch and Mr. Mortensen would hover over us while we tried to keep the nasty food down. What little scraps were left on our trays were then placed in huge buckets to be taken to the farm pigs for dinner. Once my dog Ginger followed me to school and got into the slop buckets. He threw up for a week. The next time Mr. Mortensen asked me to finish all of my Beef Stew at lunch, I told him it wasn't even fit for a dog and how Ginger ate it and threw up for a week. I didn't get spanked for that but I had to memorize the Gettysburg address. I was in 4th grade. School was easy but sports were tough and so was trying to get along. I didn't get away with much. I had an uncle as a teacher/coach, an aunt as a teacher, another uncle as a principal, and my dad was on the school board. When I quit playing basketball my junior year, this lucky familial arrangement at the school made me the most likely candidate to be a junior janitor. As I cleaned the boys toilets after school everyday I realized I should have never quit playing basketball. I loved sports but was never able to take things very seriously as a kid. My joy in sports came from making the other team angry with me. For instance, in Volleyball we wore long sleeved uniforms. I would write the other teams name on my arm followed by the word SUCKS! I would walk up to the net facing off with my opponent, slide my sleeves up my arms and to their dismay they would see those words written on my arm and all anyone ever wanted to do was beat me up. I fouled out faster than anyone in the history of high school sports in one basketball game and got a clip board thrown at my head by a coach for my antics.

Where to stop! I suppose I could go on forever. But I know that none of these stories are new or exciting to my friends back home, they are simply a way of life. However, they are things I want my own children to understand about their mother and they are memories that I will always cherish. We didn't have much and we definitely didn't have much to entertain us, but I never remember being bored. Life was good. I felt like a famous person as a kid, everyone knew us, most even saw my bare butt from time to time, and they loved us anyway!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Look What I Made!


3 Quarts Water
1 Quart Vinegar
Not quite 1 cup of PLAIN Salt
1 tsp. Alum

Bring to Boil. Wash Cucumbers (approx. 30, the smaller the better)and poke with a fork. Place cucumbers in above mixture (not boiling) for a few minutes, while preparing the jars. Make sure that the lids (not rings) have been soaking in very hot but not boiling water to make the edges more sticky. Place a piece of fresh dill, four or five peppercorns, and a piece of garlic in each jar. Fill jar with cucumbers and then cover with vinegar mixture. Seal jars and place them in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Makes 12 pints.


5 cups peaches blended
1 large can of crushed pineapple (drained)
2 pkg. raspberries blended with peaches
7 cups sugar
2 pkg. raspberry Jell-O
Cook all ingredients but Jell-O for 20 minutes. Add Jell-O. Prepare lids as mentioned above. Fill jars with jam and seal. Hot water bath the jars for 20 minutes. Makes 5 pints.


7 cups sugar
8 cups whole strawberries
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 pkg. regular powdered fruit pectin
Remove stems and hulls from strawberries using a huller or potato peeler. Mash strawberries with potato masher or in the blender. Bring strawberries, lemon juice, and pectin to a boil and continue boiling for one minute. Add sugar and bring to another boil and continue boiling for one more minute. Prepare lids in hot water as previously mentioned. Fill jars with jam and seal. Hot water bath the jars for 20 minutes. Makes 8 pints.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Losing It!

I lose things. Yeah, I know everyone loses things sometimes, but I lose things often and they are usually important things. Let me give you a few examples. Please be informed that these are just recent losses and losses that were never recovered. I have lost my mom's credit card twice. I have lost my driver's license three times. I have lost my purse, lost my keys, and lost my car in a parking lot lately. (I did eventually find the car.) I have lost 8 pairs of sunglasses in the past two years. One pair being Dolce and Gabbana and a present for Valentine's Day. I lost the keys to my mom's four-wheeler. I lost a pair of shoes in Hawaii, a shirt in Florida, and two winter coats at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. But, that doesn't compare to the fact that I lost Atley's shoes while he was wearing them. No, I didn't mis-write. We were walking around Philadelphia in the middle of winter when I glance down and realize that my 4 year old is wearing no shoes. "Atley, where are your shoes?" "I don't know I guess I lost them somewhere while we were walking." Explain how that happens. I lose plane tickets, concert tickets, parking tickets, any kind of ticket imaginable. I've lost bills, birth certificates, passports, needles in haystacks. We have been band from renting movies from Block Buster and Netflicks. We have also been declared unfit by most local libraries because we lose the books or movies we check out. I lose money daily, but that is another story. We are constantly in search for the phone or the remote and even the children from time to time. And of course, I lost my mind a long time ago. But, the biggest loss came last week when I lost my husband's wedding ring. He accidentally left it at my mom's house and called to make sure that I brought it back with me. I tucked it in a safe place like I always do, the only problem is I lost the safe place. This is my real problem. I am really organized. I am of the philosophy "a place for everything and everything in its place." I just have a tendency to forget where the places with everything in it are located. Now if only I could find a place for this extra 10 pounds I'm carrying and lose it forever. I couldn't be so lucky.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Wow, it's been awhile. I almost forgot how to do this blogging bit. Anyway, country roads didn't take us home, rather the friendly, make that unfriendly skies, whisked us away to Colorado and a month later we have returned. It is always a little bittersweet coming home and a bit tough getting back into the groove of things. The challenge I am facing now is how to organize the 200 or so pictures I took into a logical and not horrendously boring blog post. I have come to the conclusion that I don't think it is possible-so here is a boring post of our adventures in Colorado. I hope you have a lot of time to waste.

First, traveling never goes smoothly for the Butler family. Most things in our life seem to be an adventure or a test of endurance. Our plane was delayed nearly six hours for maintenance problems. But, the boys are pretty good travelers and we arrived in Colorado Springs six hours behind schedule but safely. I guess that is what counts.

The first four days we spent in the mountains in my grandparent's cabin, where the transition from an altitude of 130 feet to more than 10,000 feet made us all a bit less than perky. The boys loved riding the four-wheelers and playing with their cousins.

I loved bedtime! Yes, they are watching movies on their IPOD's. They are city boys cut them some slack. They got so dirty that by day three we were forced to bathe them in the little tin bucket shown above. Anthother treat was playing in the river, which made our pool water feel very toasty.

We had great fun hanging out at my friend Shae's and goo-gooing over her sweet new baby Sydney and of course her sister's cutie Macey.

One of my favorite parts about being home is the lack of pressure to be busily engaged at all times. We went to the park, watched way too much TV, I read five books while I was gone, and of course we ate lots of Mexican Food. Above is Atley at Ann's Cafe in La Jara, Colorado.

We went swimming with the cousins at a place called Hooper. It is a hot springs and the boys found a fish in the pool. Very exciting.

Here we are at the Anderson Family reunion. I have been trying to find documentation that one of my ancestor's fought in the American Revolution. Not only to satisfy my own curiousity but also because I have been wanting to join DAR, Daughter's of the American Revolution. DAR has a huge Washington D.C. chapter that is involved in tons of historical preservation and exploration. Well, I found enough information at the reunion to discover that one of my grandfather's had in fact fought in the revolution and I also discovered his enlistment paper's in the Virginia Regiment. So,now I have proof. SCORE!

One day we traveled to Creede Colorado which was and maybe still is a rough mining town. In it's prime it was a sanctuary for the likes of Doc Holiday and other ruffians. We toured the underground homestake mine. The boys loved it, but it kind of freaked me out, being in a mine under a mountain, is a little too much like being underground in a cemetary for me.

No, trip home is complete without exploring the farms and especially the big tractor's that keep those farms operating. It is a little boy's paradise.

And of course no trip home seems to happen without a least one visit to the doctor. Atley and I both had to make trips this year. Our sickness delayed our return for a few days, but we finally got back to the D.C. area just in time for Nash to get sick as well. But, what can I say it was worth it. I failed to have my camera at a few other highlights such as the 24th of July Celeration, AKA, Mormon Pioneer Days, where Shae and I lost our first three-legged race in the history of our competitive racing in this event. Wow, Do you think we might be getting old? My cousin also got married and it was a beautiful wedding only partially marred by my attempt to sing during the ceremony with a nasty case of bronchitis. I hope she doesn't hold a grudge. We loved our time at home and I am thankful that my boys have the opportunity to experience small town life each summer! Stay tuned I plan to give you all a picture tour of my hometown, depicting some of the highlights of my youth. I know this is incredible news. I hope you don't lose any sleep due to your anticipation of this exciting event.