Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Rules

The week school ended we all sat down for Family Home Evening and decided what we needed to do this summer so we wouldn't be dumb and lazy. We've always had a 30-minute-reading rule since the kids have learned to read, so that's a no-brainer. We decided to throw in a few minutes of scripture study to improve their spirits as well. Math is fun if it's mostly games. And I didn't want our home to be a complete mess just because we're all home and lazy, so they have to clean something for a few minutes every day.

The kids decided they wanted a poster to remind them, and now it's taped to our wall. For the most part they've done a great job this past month getting these things done on their own. Our house is starting to have that summer look where everyone is leaving stuff all over the place, so I might have to start thinking about the fine print at the bottom of the poster. Especially now that we're starting to pack up and clean stuff out for the big move across the country. But at least we've mostly been able to keep the rule love one another. That's a big accomplishment for being squished in a small apartment on humid, hot, rainy days!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

a typical morning

 On most mornings, we swim for an hour or two before the sun gets too high in the sky. Sometimes friends join us, and sometimes we have the whole pool to ourselves.
 Swimming in the morning helps our kids get their energy out, and they get exercise without complaining about being too hot or sweaty. And I get to exercise without complaining about being too hot or sweaty.
They use the pole as a water slide, and sometimes Ethan makes it be a crazy-splashy-wet water slide.
Josh likes to squirt at me with his water gun. But he knows I don't like to be squirted, so he made sure he was far enough away to not get in trouble.
We'll make the most of our time at the pool while we can, before we have to leave it behind in a few weeks.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I forgot...

I was going to put these pictures on my blog last week, but I guess I'm easily distracted. Here's what the kids gave Chris for Father's Day:
 Breakfast in Bed. I don't think we've ever done this for Chris before, and he wasn't a big fan. I kind of did it as a joke because the kids always shove me back into bed on Mother's Day so they can bring me breakfast. It's a little weird eating in bed by yourself while everyone else eats in the kitchen.
 They all made cards. Some were a little more well-thought out than others were. I'll let you decide whose card I'm talking about...
 In Josh's card, he really thinks Chris needs to take a break from teaching, so Chris is ripping up his presentation, and having a good time doing it.
 Ashley wrote and illustrated a book about all the things that describe her dad.
 And Ethan pulled out some scratch paper and quickly drew a few mountains. But he did write in cursive, which makes any card look fancy and expensive.
For Chris's real father's day gift, we went to the temple and he stopped at an LDS bookstore to buy himself the ultimate John Bytheway collection. I didn't know Chris was a fan, but it was fun to listen to the talk Turn off the TV and Get a Life on the way home from the temple. The kids laughed at all his jokes and were touched by the serious stuff in between the laughter. They didn't really want to watch much TV last week after hearing this talk. I guess I'm a fan, now, too!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

a few random things

 Josh has been obsessed lately with listening to Life is a Highway and Real Gone from the Cars soundtrack. Over and over and over. Since nobody else wants to hear it, he puts headphones on and sings as loud as he can. At least once a day. And shouts when he needs to talk to us while he listens.
 Now that the kids are out of school, they are climbing the walls looking for something to do. At least they are safely doing it in helmets.
 The village ripped out our old play ground a while ago, and finally put in a new one. They kids really miss the old one, but think the new one is kind of cool, too. One thing that's fun about living in our village is that they make a big deal out of everything. They had a ribbon cutting ceremony, with bright blue cupcakes and chips and drinks.
 These aren't my pictures. I stole them off of facebook. But I forgot my camera and there were a few shots of my kids that I wanted to keep. :)
 At least if they need to climb the walls, they can do it outside again, and not in the apartment.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Once upon a time there was a dad

He didn't start out as a dad. He was a kid once, and had adventures in high school and college and lived in Japan for lots of years. I'm sure he had a somewhat fulfilling life before his brilliant kids came into the picture, but that's for another post.
One day he became a dad. Actually 4 times he did. He learned to balance studying and work and church callings and marriage, and then suddenly he had these super amazing kids he had to make time for, too.
 He did a good job with all that juggling. He took us lots of fun places, like ghost towns. Sure, maybe he was trying to get away from all those things he had to juggle, and we were poor, and cellphones hadn't been invented yet, so ghost towns it was. Sometimes we just drove and drove and drove, to nowhere in particular, all of us piled into the Buick and listening to Mystery Theater Radio. I'm sure us 4 obedient children never argued on those long rides.
Even if we were arguing (which probably never happened), dad never got mad (okay, his face turned red and he looked like he was yelling, but he had such a quiet voice that the louder he tried to shout, the quieter his voice got) he would give us The Look. The one where he tips his chin down a little and raises his eyebrows as his eyes boor into our souls. And it totally worked -- I hated disappointing him.

His hard-earned days off went toward father-daughter activities, and scout camps, and talent-filled piano recitals. And his hard-earned money all went to braces for his 4 attractive kids, perms (lots of perms)(not usually for him, but for the three females in the house who succumbed to the perm) and the aforementioned talent-filled piano lessons. And while other dads might have read a book or watched sports or wrestled alligators, all of his spare time went to helping his exceptionally brilliant oldest daughter not fail math (which is where a lot of The Look had to come into play...).
 Then one day this dad had all his kids married off and became a grandpa. He travels across the country over and over and over to help his responsible 4 kids move to new homes, or baptize the-best-ever grandkids. He puts on silly hats and plays at the playground and listens to fascinating facts about Lego's for hours at a time without complaining once. He deserves an award. Or a kiss on the cheek.

We're so lucky to have you in our life. I love you dad <3

Thursday, June 12, 2014

We've got our own World Cup goin' on here

On most days you can find Ashley and Juan Diego (from Ecuador) playing soccer outside our apartment for a little while (Ethan is apparently the ref in this game -- he said he's not just being lazy). Sometimes Josh and Ethan kick the ball around with them, too.
Once in a while the little boy who lives below us, who is from Nepal (I think?), comes out to play, along with his dad. And occasionally our friends from Nigeria come play, too. And a time or two we've even had the guy in charge of the villages (from France, I think?) stop and join the game with his little boy.
When Ashley was little, she would dance around the ball and cheer her soccer team on, but she was afraid to get in there and kick the ball. She's become pretty brave over the last few years, I guess, because sometimes she even wins a game -- and Juan Diego is really good!

I'm glad his mom caught one of these small games on camera and passed them on. Having our own World Cup every day is something we'll definitely miss when we leave The Swamp.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

bring on the summer!

In my last post, I showed Ethan and Josh getting awards, but Ashley's event was later in the week. She earned an award for being on the honor roll. She was pretty disappointed that she got one B+ at the beginning of the year, so she wasn't on the straight-A honor roll, but it was good for her to realize that she can't let herself get a little lax in her studying if she wants straight A's next year.
And then... School was officially over! Ashley loves planning and throwing parties. She invited some village kids over for a 1st day of summer party yesterday. They played a game where one kid jump ropes to their partner who then dumps a bucket of water on their head. I guess it was a game that the teachers played with the kids last week (the teachers got to do the water-dumping).
 They played sponge golf, where they had to throw their wet sponges into buckets of water. Mostly the kids just liked squishing the sponges over each others heads and throwing buckets of water at each other. I think Ashley's feet aren't even touching the ground in the picture above :)
 She asked if I could buy some refreshments for her party, so we gave everyone a frozen fruit bar. Which somehow ended up all over the sidewalk instead of inside mouths.
Welcome summer -- we're happy to see you again!

Monday, June 2, 2014

end of school odds and ends

 Ethan's Cambridge language arts class put on The Prince and the Pauper for any parents who wanted to watch, so Chris and I went to enjoy the show. The kids did a great job, although we had to laugh that all but two of the kids had no emotion in their voices or faces as they recited their lines. Ethan had two or three lines, and since he was gone the day they chose their parts he was assigned to be the sheriff -- he said he would have chosen a part with fewer lines.
 Ethan was invited to the awards night at his school, and got a medal and certificate for being on the honor roll and having good citizenship.
 Ethan has been friends with this boy Jack since we moved here. He's been a good friend to Ethan, and we'll miss his friendly, perky personality when we move.
 This year Josh surprised us by joining the Morning Mile fitness club. He always complains whenever we do anything physical or active, so we were pleased he chose to start running in the morning. Luckily our bus came early enough every morning that he had plenty of time each day to run.
 Here are all the second graders who ran this year. Anyone who ran got a certificate, but the kids who ran over 25 miles during the year got a t-shirt. Josh was proud that he got one!
 He also got the award for being his grade's top mile marker. He ran 61.8 miles over the last 8 months.
 One of Ethan's last science assignments was to show a collection of something science-y. He called up his Uncle Tanner the geologist and figured out what all the pieces of his rock collection were, and he proudly told the class about it. He said one kid purchased a rock collection on line, but Ethan enjoyed telling the kids where he got the rocks.
 Some Josh art. The bird says Kaw, the other bird says Twete, and the fish says Bllub.
 All the kids went on cool field trips (I didn't get pics of Ashley's horse show, or Ethan's Adventure Island water park field trip because I wasn't there) at the end of the year, and Josh's last field trip was to a fishery. We had to use giant nets to fish "critters" out of the water, then examine them.
If I had known what was in store in this field trip, I might not have gone. The lady made the chaperons hold the water bugs and beetles, and other creepy crawly things so the kids could get a closer look.
Then after learning about fish, they handed us some big rods and some rotten, greasy, frozen hot dog pieces and had us go fishing. Josh immediately caught a fish, and we waited forever to flag the lady down so she could help us get the fish off the hook, since I'd never been fishing before. Then when the other boy in our group caught a fish I had to take the hook out of the fish's poor little mouth. I wish I took a picture of Josh catching a fish, but it was too late, my fingers were covered with slimy hot dogs and fish juice. Just know that Josh wasn't too happy about catching a fish, it freaked him out a little, and he didn't want to fish anymore after a few more tries.

3 more days and school will be done! Bring on summer.