Thursday, August 22, 2013

on school shoes and taaaacos (sigh...)

 Ashley saw these shoes and fell in love with them. She is a huge Sketchers fan, and she's a fan of colorful, sparkly things, so these shoes were made for her. When Coach at school saw them, he said, "Wow, those are some bright shoes!" And then he put on his sunglasses to prove how blinded he was by them.

So far she loves everything about 4th grade. Luckily she's easy to please, and always loves school in general. I asked what she liked about the new school year, and she said they get more recesses. Not sure why 4th graders get more recesses than 3rd graders, but that's what she loves. When I asked what she didn't like, she made a disgusted face and said, "Getting a corndog instead of a taco at lunch." (but when she said taco, it was clear to see how in love she was with tacos. Kind of a sigh and taaaaco at the same time. There may have even been some blinking eyelashes, but I can't really remember. Those must be good tacos...)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

good things for Ethan

Ethan has been enjoying middle school this week. He brought home lots of permission slips for field trips he'll take in the next few weeks. The kids will go on several hikes through the woods, a pool party at the park that is right next to the school, and another walk to look at a bunch of solar-system statues nearby.

I was a little bit worried about him not getting into band, having to take PE instead, but he's really excited about it. They get to swim for the first quarter, and he loves to swim. So I think he'll be okay :)

In other news, we took a walk to the natural history museum because the kids wanted to spend their money in the gift shop. Josh bought slimy goop in a jar, and Ethan bought a hologram-maker (or is it holograph?...). There are two bowls with mirrors on the inside, one bowl has a hole cut out of the center, and when you put something in the solid bowl and put the holey-bowl on top, it creates a hologram. You can see the real frog on the bottom, deep in the hole, and the hologram frog floating around on top.

Ethan was impressed I was able to capture something on my camera that wasn't really there. He kept saying how cool it was that I was able to take a picture of bending light. Because I have mad photography skills and am pretty much a genius. ;)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hope ya know, I had a hard time

(This is a guitar josh created last week, and was so proud of it. Ashley was playing her fancy air guitar.)
Josh had a hard day yesterday. I think he really enjoyed school, but on the bus ride home, he got in trouble.

His morning bus driver the last two years has been extremely serious in her control of the bus. No talking, no moving. But the afternoon bus driver had no control over the kids and was too tolerant of craziness. Well, the morning bus driver is now the afternoon driver, too. This shouldn't be a problem, since my kids have learned to follow her morning rules for two years.

But I guess it was a problem for Josh yesterday. I don't know if it was the excitement of finishing his first day of second grade, but when the bus pulled up, the driver pulled me aside and said Josh wouldn't stay in his seat. Josh's lip quivered, so I think he was sad he was in trouble (although I'm not sure he was sorry he got out of his seat?).

Walking back to our house, I asked him, "What will you do if the bus driver kicks you off because you can't sit still?"
He smiled and said, "You'll just drive me home."
I shook my head. "Does that make sense for me to come pick you up when there's a perfectly good bus that will drive you right to our front door? Just because you wanted to be crazy on the bus."
He shrugged and said, "I'll walk home."
I shook my head. "You can't walk home 2 1/2 miles by yourself on these busy roads."

He was upset that he was in trouble. He refused to tell us about the rest of his day. He refused to stop stomping around. He threw Lego's at Ethan's head. He wanted nothing to do with our Family Home Evening, and he refused to get his back-to-school Father's Blessing. He was having a hard time.

When I went to bed, I felt bad about how I reacted. I'm sure he was overwhelmed by the first day of school. New rules, new friends, new everything. I'm sure all he needed was for me to hug him and snuggle and tell him I loved him still, even if he messed up on the bus. But I didn't. A General Conference talk kept going through my mind all night, Hope Ya Know, We had a Hard Time. You can watch a short video {here}, but I recommend reading the entire talk{here} -- especially the beginning where his little boy says that phrase.

Hopefully he'll have a better day today...

Monday, August 19, 2013

first day of middle-school jitters

This morning we woke up bright and early and got ready for school. The kids were super excited. We immediately started back into the pattern of reading a chapter of the Book of Mormon out loud while the kids ate their breakfast, and then after they finished getting ready, they read their own books until it was time for Ashley and Josh to go. 
 We hoped that Ashley would get Ethan's 4th grade teacher. She was so amazing and made learning interesting and fun. But we got a different teacher, who seems just as interesting and fun. Ashley is happy about her situation.

Ethan got into his Cambridge program, which will be accelerated classes. I hope he can keep up! He also didn't get into band (we dragged our saxophone back to the swamp for no reason...), so he gets to take P.E. and keyboarding. He seemed fine with P.E., and hopefully it will be a good experience.
Josh is in a second/third grade class this year. I'm not sure what that means, but a neighbor whose 3rd grader is in Josh's class was concerned that her son was in a 2nd grade class went in to ask the teacher why her son was with younger kids. The teacher explained that they picked younger kids who are smart, independent students to share a class with the older kids (maybe there weren't enough students for an entire other 2nd or 3rd grade class?) So it will be interesting to see how that works out.
Ethan thought it was cool that he got to walk the kids to their bus stop this morning. His bus doesn't come until nearly 2 hours later. That left him with a lot of time to be nervous about starting middle school. He paced around until I told him to read for a while. After reading, he paced around until I told him to go say a prayer to calm his jitters.

Chris was going to give the kids back-to-school father's blessings for Family Home Evening tonight, but Ethan asked if he could have his this morning. So Chris gave him a sweet blessing, and Ethan seemed to relax a little.

Luckily one of the girls at the bus stop has already been through 6th grade, and has a perky, positive outlook on life. She had a lot of fun in middle school, and it was nice for Ethan to hear her excitement about going back to school.
It will be a crazy year of new experiences here in The Swamp. Can't wait to see what happens!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

mexican dancing and scouting

Last month on our nice long trip we went to the Church History Museum, which is having a 100 Years of Scouting in the Church exhibit. It was really interesting to learn about the role play scouts has played in the LDS church and the world.
 Josh was so proud of the paper neckerchief he made, and Grandma was nice enough to keep tying it back on every time it fell off.
Part of the exhibit is a collection of valuable Norman Rockwell paintings. My favorite is the one of the scouts praying in the yellow tent (the bottom right picture in this collage). Despite how rowdy boys can be (especially at camp!), it is always touching to me when they stop and pray, or show a deeper, more spiritual side they don't always show. It's a great painting.

The museum had places the kids could learn to tie knots, learn the flag alphabet, and watch a "flip" movie on a spinning barrel.

When we were done looking at the scout exhibit, we headed over to the children's side of the museum. Ashley loved dancing around in a traditional mexican skirt. They helped build Nephi's boat, went fishing, and checked out some replica gold plates.
Here's a video of the kids dancing. Ethan and Ashley might have a future on Dancing with the Stars...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

zoo day

Last month when we were visiting our families, we got to hang out at the zoo with Chris's sisters and their kids. Even though my kids are much bigger, they love hanging out with their cute little cousins.
This is what Ashley and Maggie are looking at. A sea lion (or whatever it is...) putting on a show for them. These things would swim upright until they reached the viewing window, then they'd swim past upside down.

 This cheetah (which I couldn't get a decent picture of) is pacing back and forth in front of the viewing window, then every now and then, he'd stop to eye Jeremy, who probably looked like a tasty little meal.
  The Lego company was doing some sort of promotion at the zoo (which is why Ethan really wanted to go. Wild animals?Pshhhh. Been there, done that. Wild animals made of Lego's? I have to see this!), so they had life-size polar bears and turtles and other animals made out of the blocks. Not to mention this odd photo-op made out of Lego's.
 This was the first time Josh has ever been to the zoo in his entire 7 1/2 years of life (because I'm a good mom like that). He kept nodding and saying, "Ohhh, so this is what a zoo is like!"

My favorite part was the new-to-me polar bear habitat. They've put in this cool window so you can watch him swim around. He came so close, he even bumped into the window a few times.I haven't been to this zoo in about five years. They've really improved it with better viewing windows, nicer habitats for the animals, and a new splash pad, which wasn't open yet. Nice to see some tax dollars at work in a good way (especially since they aren't my tax dollars...).

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lucky 13 anniversary

I've always liked 13.
Some people think it's an unlucky number, but it's not.
Friday the 13th? Usually something good happens that day.

Now, 12. That was a bit unlucky.
Last year on our anniversary, we came home from the beach and found a letter telling us we had to move to a new (2 bedroom...) apartment for renovations, after being told we were good at our old place for at least a year longer.
Things just got weirder from there.

But it's over now,
and it's time to break out my lucky 13 goblets
(note to self: get lucky 13 goblets...)
and have a toast. 
Chris and I made it 13 years!
Not that I ever thought we wouldn't make it,
but it's pretty cool, anyway :)

We were still vacationing last month over our anniversary, so this is late being posted.
But it was a great day, full of family and fun, and even some minion cupcakes similar to{this}.
I know, totally anniversary-ish.
And the best part about being married for 13 years is that I am so happy with our relationship. I can't speak for Chris, but every day I realize how incredibly lucky I am. He's strong where I am weak (and man, I am weak!). He knows things I need to learn (and man, I need to learn a lot!). He's patient and forgiving of all my crazy craziness (and maaaan, am I crazy!). And I think I must be the same good kind of things for him, as well, because I can see the appreciation, respect, and love in his eyes, too.
Not only am I in love with Chris, but I really, really like him. Things are always better when he's around. Even doing the laundry is almost fun when he's there carrying a basket by my side. Yes, we were witty and energetic and fun before kids, and it's different now. But it feels more real, more meaningful. More content.
Back in my dating years, I got a distinct, strong feeling on every date I went on. This is someone else's husband. I knew they didn't belong to me. But when I went out with Chris, that feeling never came. In fact, the feeling I had was, I could be with this person forever and be totally happy.

That feeling was right.
I know we'll face more challenges in our future, and our faith and happiness will be tested over and over again in years to come, just as it has been over the past 13 years. But as long as we're trying to choose the right and become more Christlike in our thoughts and actions, I know we'll be okay.
I thought about sharing my wedding video (aka: the kissing movie),
but it's mostly filled with lots of kissing, and nobody but me really wants to see it.
Also, all these high-quality pictures I'm sharing were captured from that old-fashioned-non-digital video, so you've seen half of it, anyway.

I decided to show this video instead:

Check out {this} post about our first slightly awkward, but almost perfect first date.
Because who doesn't love a good love story that has a happy ending?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

some birthday love

My mom celebrated a birthday while we were in town last month. I'm such a great daughter, I totally forgot about it until sometime around lunch when I heard her mention that it was her birthday. Bad, bad daughter who forgets every holiday that ever comes around. Even if it's on my calendar and written on my forehead in red permanent marker. 

But, it did make me feel better the next day when my mom didn't wish me a happy anniversary (go lucky 13!). Which I pretty much forgot about, too (sorry, Chris!). Holidays just aren't my thing.

But we did celebrate her birthday in a big way later that night. We had a delicious pizza dinner, a little cake, and then ba-baaam, we had fireworks. Like two of them. Left over from the 4th at my brother's house. And we had lots of left over glow sticks from the other grandparents' Grandpa Camp. So it was a real par-tay.

Josh was totally impressed that Grandma got fireworks at her party.
Because his birthday is in the spring, when fireworks are illegal.
Other wise we might have a future pyro party on our hands.

a little thing I like to call "camping"

The quotation marks in the title are necessary. We didn't really go camping, we went "camping" -- at a water park. We squished ourselves into a campground with 3.999 thousand other people, set up a tent, (went swimming in a dirty pool and then went water sliding for a while) cooked over a "fire" and slept in sleeping bags. But it was so much fun. And it was what my brother wanted to do for his birthday. The photo-bomber in the picture below :)
We stretched a cord from car to car so we could dry out our wet towels and swimsuits. Because we're classy camping neighbors like that.
The nightly entertainment was this blues/country-singing kid (the one with the hat, singing into the mic) who we couldn't tell if he/she was a girl or a boy. It was a game for about an hour until we got tired of his/her high-pitch voice and repetitive chords. But the boy/girl was talented -- someday you might see his/her name in lights somewhere. If we knew what his/her name was.

After the classy concert we went back to our classy laundry-strewn campsite where we roasted smores over our camp stove "fire" and then went to bed. Luckily it counted as camping for Ethan's scouting program. Because I'm not super excited to camp in The Swamp. Unless it's at a water park.

splash pads and cousins

We had lots of fun in swimsuits last month on our trip. We went to a few splash pads (although this is the only one I remembered to take pictures of), and the kids even jumped off a high-dive at a pool (which I didn't get a picture of and I wish I did. Even Grandma went off the high dive!) without hesitating or looking too afraid. It was an idyllic summer vacation.

rain hike and answered prayers

We went to the mountains with my brother's family, but it began pouring as soon as we drove to the area we wanted to walk around. We sat in our cars trying to figure out what to do, whether to just go home, or walk in the rain.

Apparently all the kids in my brother's car (yes, he was nice enough to drive all the kids in his car) decided to say a prayer to ask if the rain could stop. We didn't know about the prayer, but Chris finally said, "Let's just get out and take a picture, and then we'll go home."

As soon as we got out of the car, the rain stopped. We were able to get around the entire lake before it started up again. It was freezing and wet, but worth it.

While we were trying to figure out whether to go home or get wet, we spotted this big moose. Unfortunately, we were too slow and he walked away before we could get a decent picture.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

some grandpa camp hikes

 Grandpa is a big time rappeller, and wanted the grandkids to get in on the fun, too. Ashley enjoyed it, but didn't want to go back for more. Josh stayed home with Grandma. He didn't even want to try.
Ethan loved every minute of it. Except for that one time his fingers got pinched against a rock, and his bum was on the ground while his feet were in the air.
 Cousins eating lunch and enjoying each other's company.
 Chris had to make home-body Josh stop playing video games and go on a hike. You can see him lagging behind with his Gatorade. He said he drank so much, he got sick and had to be carried.
 Ashley sat this hike out, and instead chose to stay home and make fairy crafts with Grandma. But the boys made it to the top.

 Yep. This is the rock that was hard to get over. Ethan's feet ended up above his head, while his fingers got pinched in the rope. But he got over it and had a good time. He says he loves rappelling, but not quite as much as Grandpa loves it.
He's a natural outdoorsman. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

grandpa camp 2013

One of the things my kids looked forward to the most on our trip last month was Grandpa Camp (which is a funny name because I'm pretty sure Grandma does most of the work...) at the cabin. We missed the last one, which was space camp, and the kids were pretty bummed about it all year. They still use their gear from spy camp two years ago.

Our brother-in-law is a firefighter/paramedic and he was nice enough to help plan a firefighter camp. With real firefighter gear and hoses and smoke! All the cousins loved it. 

 You can see Ethan being a nice big brother in the background, pointing and laughing at Josh.

I'm not sure how Ashley will fight any fires with all that hair in her face.

I wasn't there for the festivities (darnit, there weren't enough seatbelts in our minivan for all the cousins and Chris and me. I had to stay home -- kid free. All week.), but I'm pretty sure this masked man is Ethan.

The kids especially loved shining their flashlights around in a "smoke" filled room.

Ashley was happy to hang with all those boys, but wished her other big girl cousins could have been there, too. I guess Bulgaria is just too far to come to Grandpa Camp.

Up next: grandpa camp hiking pictures.