Last night we took down the crib. Other than the day it was taken down for our move from the condo to our current home, that crib has been set up for the past 9 years. We bought the crib shortly after telling everyone that we were expecting Becca (I didn't want to have any pregnancy complications that would prohibit me from getting the nursery ready before she came, so it was TOTALLY finished by the time I was six months along), and it has been in use ever since Becca was born. It felt very surreal taking it down to put up a big-girl-bed for Rachel. We put up the same day bed that we got for Becca just before Ellie came along. That was almost more strange to me. Watching her excitement at being able to get out of bed by herself was very cute. This morning she got up and ran into the hall as I was going into her room to check on her. She bounced up and down exclaiming "I got out of bed! I got out of bed!" It was very cute. She stayed in the crib longer than any of my other girls by almost a year, and I have to say that it made the transition a little bit easier....she didn't even fall out of bed once! Hooray!
'Twas a few days before Christmas and all through the house Someone was stirring-- as soft as a mouse. I thought that the girls were all up in their rooms Dusting their cobwebs and sweeping with brooms, When what to my wondering eyes should appear But a series of murals (to my eyes came a tear). The crayon was stretched over dresser and wall; It covered the toy chest; it decked the whole hall. The upstairs was covered from chair rail to floor-- I even spied crayon on more than one door.
But who was this artist who colored in red? I'll admit I was stumped until I saw the bed:
Well, it is time for the annual "Christmas Card" and accompanying "Christmas Letter." So once again, here is the Cliff's Notes version of our year.
Greg: Is working hard for Northrop Grumman and doing a great job (he just got a stellar review from his boss, which is no surprise. I think he's amazing!) He's still teaching Elder's Quorum and is excited to break in his new guitar hero equipment (we are on set #2 after the girls destroyed the first one).
Heather: Is keeping busy with Primary and the girls, cleaning, laundry, shopping and every once in a while she sneaks in a good book.
Becca (8): Is working on multiplication, piano, and her front teeth. She is a sweetheart who loves playing with her sisters and friends.
Ellie (6): Is our Cinderella girl. You might have noticed she only had one shoe for this picture. She always seems to be losing a shoe or two. She is tender-hearted and so smart! She is feisty and fun.
Sarah (4): Is our little dancer. She counts down the days from one dance class to the next, and can't wait for Christmas to arrive. She knows her letters and is starting to sound out simple words.
Rachel (2): Is our little monkey. She is enchanted with all things monkey (especially Curious George) and gives the best hugs ever.
And there you have the summary of each of us in two sentences or less! MERRY CHRISTMAS!
There are days when I can find the humor and cuteness in my children's antics, but other days their naughtiness just makes me tired. Over the last few days, Sarah has been suffering from serious emotional melt-downs, and the other day she decided to practice writing "X's" all over the quilt my grandma made me with crayons. We have also had a bit of trauma as Rachel recently dumped two more bottles of shampoo on the carpet, colored on the wall, emptied a brand new container of baby wipes, dumped Parmesan cheese and maraschino cherry juice on the floor and unwrapped all the presents I had just finished wrapping. All these fantastic "gifts" happened while I was trying to clean other areas of the house, and I have to admit I didn't find any of them very entertaining. Today I have another busy day of cleaning, but for some reason I can't seem to motivate myself to leave the girls unattended, even briefly, to attempt the work that piles up as I am cleaning up after them. Perhaps if an "elf " was watching they would behave a little bit better...Well, I guess I have procrastinated as long as I can, so wish me luck as I try to clean without catastrophe striking!
Tonight we went swimming at the rec. center, and we had a great time. I didn't take my camera, but I had my picture taken more tonight than I think I have the rest of the year. There was a lady who was taking pictures of her kids & I'm guessing she must have taken over 300 pictures. She must have had a huge memory card. We also saw Chris-paragus and his family, and his dad was taking pictures, and I fear I might have been caught in their pictures as well. I told Greg that the only thing worse than having pictures of myself in a swimming suit is knowing that my neighbors have pictures of me in a swimming suit....YIKES! But despite the knowledge that my picture is now lurking in the annals of time (and Watsons if you post any pictures of me from tonight you are all dead to me), we had a great time. Ellie went down the big water slide all by herself, Rachel very nearly did the lazy river by herself, Becca was a regular fish, and Sarah warmed up to the water and we convinced her to go down the little tube slide by the end of the night, which brings me to the highlight of the evening. Greg took Sarah to the top of the blue slide & I was at the bottom to "catch" her as she came out (I have to put catch in quotes because the bottom of the slide is in 6 inches of water & the water catches anyone who comes out). After Sarah came down, a couple of other kids came down the slide, and pretty soon a grandpa of a little boy came to the bottom of the slide to watch his grandson come down. Little did he know that the next person in line was NOT his three-year-old relation, but Greg. As Greg shot out of the tube, the guy next to me was DRENCHED with water, and the look on his face was PRICELESS. Once he got over the shock, he started laughing so hard he couldn't move, and I got a pretty good case of the giggles, too. Greg thought I was laughing at him and when I told him what happened he started laughing, and then I couldn't stop, which made the "grandpa" laugh even harder, and we all had a great time.
Sarah has a friend in her Primary class that she ADORES. She asks multiple times each day if she can play, and mentions her name about 30 times a day. So today we called and OH HAPPY DAY, she could play. Sarah colored her a picture, put on a necklace, and grabbed a little stuffed kitty to take to her friend's house, when I told her that Jessica would be coming here. Well, not two minutes later, Jessica arrived....with a picture for Sarah, wearing a dress-up necklace, and holding a stuffed kitty. Like I said, they are two peas in a pod.
I am hoping that I will still be able to keep up on my blogging, but if I don't, please know why. Yesterday I was put in as the new Primary President. I LOVE being in Primary, and I am SO lucky to have an amazing presidency to help me move into this role, but I am also a little overwhelmed. As I mentioned last month, our previous president passed away unexpectedly, and when she was gone I said to Greg, "I feel sorry for whoever has to take her place...she did such an amazing job." So, I suppose I can legitimately pity myself, but only momentarily because I am sincerely looking forward to being in Primary again. Sarah has been very cute. Today she asked me when it would be Sunday again because she was SO excited for me to come to Primary with her, and the other girls have had similar excitement. Becca is most excited that she will know where to find me after church now, and Ellie gave me the "thumbs up" in Sacrament meeting. I am very grateful for a supportive family, and know that without help I could never do this on my own.
I was studying the scriptures this morning and Sarah asked me to read aloud to her. I started reading and she said, "OK, that's enough, I'll tell you a scripture now." and she proceeded to tell me Mosiah 4:13 (a scripture Ellie memorized for primary a while back). She got confused toward the end, so I prompted her by saying "that which" when she turned to me and said "THAT WITCH!? I DIDN'T KNOW THERE WAS A WITCH IN THAT SCRIPTURE!"
Here are a couple pictures of our "Garden Fairies" from Halloween. We took these while waiting for Ben & Kristy to come home...we got to see the new decor post wedding & it was very very cute. However, the girls were too excited about Halloween to sit still for pictures and so I had to snap a few when and where I could. Here is the little ladybug. She was a lady bug for her very first Halloween, so I guess she has come full circle. Ellie wanted to be a Dragonfly FAIRY...not just a dragonfly & I told her that the tutu made her a fairy and she was convinced. Sarah was a butterfly (however her wings were on the bench the moment we hit the playground)...oh well. The "bumble fairy" also ditched her antennae and wings in favor of the slides, but she was awfully cute even without the accessories.
This one is slow in coming, but I thought I would post it because the girls are officially un-grounded today. Two weeks ago, my extended family flew in for Ben's wedding, and one night Greg took the girls to my parent's house to see the fam (I had Young Women's and a shower so I couldn't go). Well, the next day I took the girls down again since I hadn't seen my aunt or grandma, and my mom decided to show the family what she got my girls for Christmas. Sadly, she couldn't find Becca or Ellie's gift. We searched and searched but found only the empty boxes where the Webkins should have been. The girls were in school, but as soon as they got home I asked them what happened. Becca played dumb...even to the point of asking "Webkins? What Webkins? I don't know what you are talking about." To which Ellie responded, "Just give up, Becca, I already told Mom the truth." (She got home from the bus stop first and through sobs told me she and Becca had taken them). I asked them how they did it & they told me that they used a high chair my mom keeps in the basement for use when needed, and climbed up to the top shelf where the toys were hidden, opened them, stashed the boxes, and then slipped out the basement door and hid the Webkins in the car.
We had a nice long talk about how that was STEALING, made them apologize, and told them they were grounded from friends and all media for two weeks.
Since then, we really haven't had much trouble around here...which is good news for me, but it does leave the blog high and dry without the interesting stories to tell.
Ellie just picked up my contact case, looked at the "L" and "R" on the lids and said, "I know what these mean." I asked her what, and she said, "R- is for RIGHT NOW and L-is for LATER." Then she opened up both sides, saw that they were empty and said, "Mom, have you been using both sides? No wonder you have problems."
Yesterday was a wonderful day. My little brother Ben got married to sweet Kristy!! Grandpa Welling performed the ceremony and did a great job, and everything at the reception center was beautiful. The girls behaved themselves splendidly during the reception (we were there almost five hours including picture time before the reception). Greg was GREAT with the girls, and toward the end of the night we slipped out of the main ballroom & let the girls watch Tinkerbell (which improved everyone's disposition).
Here is a picture of the girls outside the reception center (well, the girls minus Rachel) thanks to Greg for the picture, too!
One of my favorite stories from General Conference was President Monson's talk about service & all the different acts of service that were "given" to him for his birthday. I really liked the giant jar of "warm fuzzy" pom poms that one Primary gave him, and decided to make our family a "warm fuzzy" jar. I picked up a bag of pom poms from the dollar store and introduced the idea to my girls Monday night for Family Home Evening. I was very excited and set the jar on the counter with a bucket of "warm fuzzies" for them to choose when they did something nice. However, today, after helping Becca practice piano, I went in the family room and discovered something that did not warm my heart. Rachel had taken strawberries and grapes out of the fridge and was biting each one, shouting "yucky" and throwing the remainder of the fruit around the room. Sarah had taken the bucket of "warm fuzzies" and was chewing them up and using them as spitballs around the room. And Ellie took my black branches and crows that I had set up for Halloween on the mantle by the mirror and was breaking the limbs into toothpick sized sticks, and de-beaking/plucking my birds. I have now mostly cleaned up the mess, and I forgot to take a picture until I was talking to Haylee & thought about the fact that I should have documented the disaster as proof--should they ever try to deny their actions.
At present, all the girls are in bed...and I am just contemplating how on earth they could think they would get away with such behavior. I am proud to say that none of them received a beating...or even a yelling, but when Ellie asked if we could please go to McDonald's since Greg was gone for the evening, I'll admit I laughed at her, gave her (and her sisters) a PBJ on stale bread and sent everyone to bed an hour and a half before bedtime.
Does anyone else have a family room that looks like a hurricane blew through? I don't know when my front room gets messier than when we turn it into a miniature art studio for the six hours I try to keep my kiddos entertained there during one weekend (the other two hours of conference are spent at Grandma's house). But whatever the sacrifice to my house, I think it is worth it to be able to be able to listen & recharge my batteries. There is something wonderful about listening to the leaders of the church reminding us to be more loving, more service oriented, and more like the Savior. It helps me to focus on the blessing of being a mother and to enjoy the mischievous antics of my girls while they are still little.
This year the reminders to be grateful for life was even more poignant because our neighbor/Primary President/Sarah's favorite nursery leader/first person to invite us over when we moved into the ward passed away this weekend suddenly and we were reminded how fleeting life really is.
How grateful I am for the gospel, and for the knowledge I have of Heavenly Father's plan. This weekend really buoyed my spirits and helped me to remember what is most important.
Tonight for Family Night we drove the Bountiful loop (map) to see the fall leaves and they were BEAUTIFUL! However, the leaves were not the highlight of the trip for Greg...and no, Little Caesar's Pizza was not the highlight...look closer: We saw not one, but two tarantulas on the road as we were driving. Greg was kind enough to catch one so the girls could see it "up close and personal" and I thought it was worth getting a picture to document the great hunter's capture.
Even more exciting than the tarantulas, though was the message that was waiting for us when we got back...my brother-in-law GOT A NEW JOB :) We are so excited for them!
At present, Rachel is sleeping, I just cleaned up a tube of toothpaste from the bathroom floor, the stairs are covered in corn chips, the dryer is beeping, and I can't hear Sarah, so I REALLY need to go, but I just wanted to give a quick update that this past week has been relatively uneventful (aside from the little naughtiness that occurs regularly). So, don't worry, I am still around, still cleaning up crazy messes and still giving my girls lots of hugs and kisses, but I haven't been very good at posting them.
So, for anyone patiently checking and waiting for an update, here is a quick, cute story:
As many of you know, Becca started piano lessons at the beginning of the school year, and one day, during the second week of school, she came home to practice and said, "Mom, did you know that I am lucky?" I asked her why & she said, "Because. Camille and I are about the only two people in our class who take piano, and so we are much better at typing "S" and "L" because our fingers are so much stronger than everyone else's. " I couldn't help but crack a smile as I encouraged her to keep practicing and assured her that certainly her four days of practicing piano were assisting her keyboarding skills immensely.
Take one bed-wetter, two cases of stomach flu, one case of diarrhea, and one husband who is gone for a week and you have a partial summary of my week....(story continues after the break)
Greg left EARLY Sunday morning for a business trip to Maine. I had several people ask me on Sunday if there was anything they could do, but honestly, I wasn't too worried about it. The kids and I have had a pretty good system going lately for getting work done and I thought things would be smooth sailing...at least for the most part. Not surprisingly, I was wrong. Sunday everything went pretty well. The girls were all really good during Sacrament meeting, we were there on time, we went to my parent's house for dinner and life was "smooth sailing" as I thought it would be. Monday was cold and rainy, and apparently the weather affected the girls' moods because things kind of started to get off track there. After school I had a really hard time motivating Becca to practice piano & do her homework (she had a piano lesson that day & needed the review). When she got back, I noticed that she had forgotten to give her teacher the check & she refused point-blank to go back...very unlike her. Well, we got in the car to go for a ride in the rain & to pick up a treat for family night, but when we got to the store I discovered that not one of my girls (other than Rachel who I provided for) had a jacket or shoes, so we turned the car around and talked about "common sense" on the way home for our lesson instead. Tuesday, I decided to go to the church to help with our Relief Society Humanitarian Day, and while I was there Rachel got sick. She had a terrible case of diarrhea and so I had to leave early. However, it was lucky that I left when I did because I had left soup on the stove "simmering" on HIGH (oops) and when I opened the front door I was greeted with two feet of smoke hanging down from the ceiling. I cleaned up the mess and started airing out the house, but after changing Rachel over and over (and over) again during the day I decided that my "sultry" name could be Smokey Diarrhea because that was what my house and I both smelled like. When Becca & Ellie got home from school the windows were still wide open to air out the house, and Becca showed her sisters how she could CLIMB OUT AN OPEN WINDOW ONTO THE ROOF! Um, not her finest moment...and it earned all of the girls an early bedtime. Well, about fifteen minutes after I had put Rachel to bed she woke up screaming. Her back was arched and she was in obvious pain, so I ran her next door to see Brother Johns, who upon looking at her told me I should probably take her in to the emergency room because she most likely had some sort of blockage. I told him that although she had been sick through the day that she had been happy until just recently, so he had me lay her down on the couch where he pushed on her tummy & decided that since she didn't seem to be in any worse pain when her stomach was touched (and since she had eaten a HUGE dinner) it would probably be fine to wait and see if her tummy would soften on its own. Well, she was up for most of the night, but around two or three she was able to relieve herself of some SERIOUS gas and she was able to sleep more soundly after that. Wednesday I discovered that my girls were little chefs sometime during the week & had dumped cake mixes (yes, plural) and water on their bedroom carpets...and let's just say that the carpet is still a little "crunchy" in places. Wednesday night was also when Sarah decided to get the stomach flu. Thursday Sarah still didn't feel great & Becca also got the stomach flu...naturally both girls had the throw-ups during the night when I was supposed to be sleeping :) Ellie, not wanting to be left out, I'm sure, wet the bed every night this week, and so today, when Greg called to say that his flight had landed and he was just getting off the freeway, it probably isn't much of a surprise that he found me outside with the girls...arms outstretched to welcome him home. He was also a very good sport and took the family out to dinner, when after a week of eating out I'm sure he would have preferred a home-cooked meal. All I know is I am CERTAINLY glad to have him home.
As I was typing the quick rundown of our trip, I thought it would be good to include some fun stories, but was afraid that this would get lost in the middle of the day to day, so I have to say that my favorite story from Jackson was when we had a kid-swap and let Sarah ride with Josh & Lauren ride with us. When we got to our destination, Deanne got out of the car laughing because as they were driving, Josh looked at Sarah and told her. SARAH, YOU TALK TOO MUCH. The funniest part being that apparently, Sarah was completely undaunted by the comment and kept her running commentary going until they got out of the car. When I asked her about it, she said, "Yeah, Josh said I talk too much," and then just kept going with another story that she had told him in the car.
OK, so I realize I haven't posted in a while...We went to Jackson Hole last week, went to Red Butte Gardens on Monday for Labor Day, then I got sick and am still fighting a chest cold.
So, since Greg still has the pictures on his phone, I will just give the brief rundown of events until the fun part (aka pictures) arrives.
We headed up to Jackson LAST Wednesday morning, bright and early. The kids were very well behaved, I'm sure in part to Greg's last minute purchase of portable DVD players for the car. We got to the Cheese Factory just in time for an early lunch, did some shopping & got the girls some fishing poles, went swimming, and got settled for the night.
Thursday we had our big Yellowstone day, where we were lucky enough to hit Old Faithful right as it went off...twice. The last time we went, it was cold and raining/snowing, and Old Faithful wasn't as faithful as it was supposed to be, so after 20 minutes of waiting in the cold we took our kids back to the car just before it went off. This time, however, we walked up, watched it steam, had some lunch, came back just in time to watch it go again, went hiking, had some ice cream and left right as it was getting ready to go again. We could have stayed another minute or two to see it again, but we had other things we wanted to see. Yellowstone was beautiful, and other than Sarah gagging at the smell of the sulphur, everyone had a great time. Friday was Jenny Lake day. We took the boat across the lake and hiked to Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point & started going back a little further in the canyon, but had to turn around when our girls started complaining of exhaustion and hunger, but I was very pleased with their ability to make it to inspiration point. Friday afternoon we rode the tram and chair lift at Teton Village. The view was breathtaking, and it only made my hands a little bit sweaty to watch my girls bounding around the top of the mountain like goats. That evening, after dinner, we went looking for animals and found a bunch of elk, but not a lot of variety in the animals. Saturday we did more hiking, went to the Visitor's Center, and then went back to the condos for more swimming and a fun gondola ride that leads to a really nice steak house. The girls thought the gondola was the best "tram" because it was enclosed and fit our entire family, but nobody else, in one car. Sunday we drove home, stopping for church in Idaho Falls...which broke up the trip quite nicely...then took the rest of the afternoon to just relax. Monday, as I mentioned, we went to Red Butte Gardens, where the kids enjoyed playing in the children's garden, feeding the fish, and hopping across the stepping stones in the river, and I had a great time walking with Greg, and literally taking time to smell the roses & other flowers/herbs along the way.
The rest of the week has passed by in a bit of a blur...with the kids getting back in school and me trying to get better. Hopefully I will have some fun pictures to show soon, but until then, at least I got a little bit down to read.
Does anyone out there ever post something & think it is perfectly coherent only to go back and be totally embarrassed by what they have written.
Take for example my previous post. I think I wrote "You see" as a sentence introduction about 17 times. Granted, I was emotionally and physically exhausted, but I really thought that I had written a well-versed post.
So, may I just make the following statement in my own behalf:
Ten years ago I considered myself to be a fairly intelligent, well-spoken person, who could express myself fluently in the written word.
Now, I realize that I have fried the better part of my brain cells, my communication during the day consists of 75 percent of my sentences being repeated and or simplified...most of those sentences being simple commands...and I am well aware that my written skills are not what they used to be when I was thinking & speaking on a "college level."
That being said, I wouldn't trade my life now for what it was back then & I certainly have a lot more entertaining things about which to write now (even if it isn't expressed very eloquently anymore).
I realize that my girls are still young and my days as a parent will only get busier and busier, but as I am now writing this, I feel like it will be nothing short of a miracle if I can get to the end of the post without a smattering of "sa VNOvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv" where my head hits the keyboard as I doze off. You see, this morning I decided that before sending a carpet cleaner off to my mom that I should "spot clean" the traffic areas of the house. So, I started my "twenty minute" venture in the family room, where after the first round I realized just how dirty my carpet had become. You see, the "dark spots" didn't go away after the quick once-over like I thought they would...instead, they stood out because the "clean areas" got cleaner & made the real grime stand out. So, I started scrubbing by hand and soon my dark spots became the light spots & I had to start the entire process over, scrubbing the "dirty" areas. By the end of my adventure my carpet was definitely a few shades lighter than when I started, but everything else in my house fell apart. You see, Rachel and Sarah heard the noise of the vacuum and realized I would be unable to hear them if they went outside. Fortunately, I was checking on them frequently & found them and had them come in. What I failed to realize, though, was that they brought with them a big thermos of dirt, mud and rocks. They took their "treasure" to the bathroom to "organize" it and when I went to dump the dirty water from the carpet cleaner in the toilet, I realized that the water I was emptying looked cleaner than my bathroom (which is really saying something since the water I was dumping was nearly black). So, I sent the girls up to Sarah's room to play, cleaned up the bathroom, and went to check on the girls again. This time I found them in the upstairs bathroom, and after a quick inventory realized that I am now down one bottle of shampoo, one bottle of hair mousse, one roll of toilet paper, and 1/2 bottle of hairspray from where I was this morning. On the plus side, my hair ribbons have never smelled nicer--or been cleaner...and perhaps they will stay in place a little better now, too. After cleaning that mess, I threw a load of laundry (consisting mostly of soggy towels and toddler clothes) in to wash and ventured to the family room to continue with my carpet cleaning. I went to check on the girls again when it was time to empty the dirty water, and found them on my newly mopped kitchen floor eating blueberries from the freezer. Their clothes, hands, feet and the tile were all thoroughly purple by the time I found them & I decided it must be snack time. Following a clothing change and a snack, I put Rachel in her bed (not that she slept) and gave Sarah the Nintendo DS to entertain her while I finished the family room. I did in fact finish the family room & it is looking MUCH better now, and even gave the dining room a quick "once over" and it only took me four hours to do the two rooms if you include the time it took to clean up the interruptions :) When I took the vacuum to my mom's house, I stopped to help her with her daisies because I wanted some starts to replace the aspen trees we had to take out earlier this year, but I think she could sense my exhaustion because she just gave me the flowers and sent me on my way. However, before we left, my kind sister, Haylee, helped me get the girls out of the car and laughed when she discovered that Rachel had taken off, not just her pants, but her diaper as well on the way down. Now, you may not realize how impressive that is unless you take into account the fact that she was in a 5 point harness. Anyway, we got home with the daisies & I got the kids out of the car, grabbed the shovel from the garage and opened the back of the car to get the daisy starts. Well, guess who had climbed back in the car and was using the dirt from the flowers as a sand pile? Yep, the diaper Houdini herself. Oh, she was a mess--as was the car. But, I pulled her out of the car, and we all started weeding the front corner and planting the daisies and all was well until I decided to water the flowers and Rachel-Houdini-Sandpiler was playing in the mud that had pooled in the low spots of the flowerbed. I gave Ellie the task of keeping Rachel OUTSIDE while I quickly took the push broom/shop vac to the back of the car. I was watching, as well, but when I finished vacuuming, I guess Ellie thought that was the cue to go inside & let Rachel walk, muddy footed, all through the main floor. By this time it was nearly time for Becca's piano lesson, so I gave her a quick sandwich, gathered her books together and sent her on her way. Then I fed the rest of the girls and cleaned up the mud that had somehow multiplied and replenished itself along the way (or perhaps Rachel wasn't the only one with muddy feet). Once dinner was done, I remembered that we were supposed to go next door for an ice cream social/family night, and I didn't exactly look presentable, so I raced upstairs to get ready, Greg got home & we all went over to the neighbors' house. It wasn't until we were leaving that I realized that Greg never even got any dinner. As we were walking home, I told the girls they needed to hustle to bed, but they all remembered that we had promised to take them to the movie store to rent a movie for family night & so instead of going straight to bed, we made another venture out. The girls are now all in bed, and I am typing on my laptop in bed, totally tuckered out & happily ignoring the mess that the girls made of the upstairs.
It's hard to believe we are back in school again. Becca is now in third grade & Ellie started first grade today. Her second tooth is loose & may very well come out tonight. I just hope I am ready for another year of packing lunches, getting everyone up early and trying to stay on top of things as much as possible. I suppose I should go make bread or do laundry, or potty train Rachel now that the girls are out the door, but for now I think I'll just take two minutes to enjoy the relative quiet that has come over the house. Becca and Ellie on their way out the door with apples in hand for their teachers. Ellie was pretty excited to go through her new pencil box (the eraser she's holding was the most exciting item for her). Becca gave her teacher her apple then went back outside to play so they could practice lining up to come in "the right way" when the bell rang.
I have published a bunch of posts (in reverse order if you start here) of the wild and crazy weekend we just had to end the summer with a bang. Since it was our ten year anniversary, Greg took Friday off work, and we decided to get a Salt Lake Connect Pass for the family. As a quick summary of the events that are blogged, we went to: --Hogle Zoo --This is the Place Heritage Park --The Lion House --Discovery Kids Children's Museum --The Gardens at Thanksgiving Point --The Museum of Ancient History (dinosaur museum at Thanksgiving Point) --The Living Planet Aquarium --The Tram at Snowbird
I think I can safely say that we wore the kids out, because Sunday morning I had to take all three younger girls to the neighbor's house in their jammies because I could NOT wake them up in time to get them dressed before Greg, Becca and I needed to leave for the temple dedication. But they all had a great time (they called it the SUPER FUN days) and I'm glad we did it.
For anyone interested, right now there is a two days for the price of one (until the end of August) and you can use the passes until the end of the year, so if you want to get out and do some fun things I would highly recommend it.
The final leg of our adventure left us exhausted, but we had a great time. After lunch we went to the Living Planet Aquarium. The girls loved the hands on features, touching the sting rays, star fish, sea urchins, etc. and they thought the shark tank was pretty impressive, but oddly, their favorite thing to see was the "TOADS...LIKE AUNT TOAD!" (Greg's sister's nickname is Toady). I enjoyed the exact opposite things from Rachel...for example the I find jelly fish fascinating, but Rachel cowered into my shoulder at the very sight. I didn't really care too much for the "boat" they stuck next to the marsh (although the marsh itself was fairly impressive), but it took some serious coaxing to get her out. I asked Rachel if she wanted to pet, or even just put her hand in the water and "wave" to the sting rays, and put my hand in the water to demonstrate, only to have the ray come a good six inches out of the water to wave "hello" with one of its wings, which REALLY didn't endear them to Rachel, who started to freak out that it was coming to "get her." But even she liked to see the star fish and the other fish & sharks that were behind glass, so I would consider the outing a success.
When we finished at the aquarium, we decided to get the girls a Slurpee and head up Little Cottonwood Canyon to ride on the tram. I can't tell you how pleased I was that we decided to make the 7-11 pit stop first because as we were heading up the mountain we ran into the "Tour of Utah" bike race and we crawled up the mountain averaging less than 10 miles per hour. It was kind of fun to watch the cyclists creeping up the mountain and to see all of the supporters cheering them on, but we were also pretty excited to finally reach the ski resort, too. We didn't realize it, but we happened to arrive at Snowbird during Oktoberfest, so we also were able to enjoy a little German entertainment (without the beer) which meant watching the kids who were strapped into harnesses & bungee cords jumping on trampolines (maybe that's what Grandpa Steve should do with his trampoline).
Riding up on the tram was a lot of fun, too. The girls couldn't believe how high up we went & they enjoyed getting out at the top and looking around. The protective mother in me wouldn't let them go for any great hikes at the top, but they still enjoyed sitting at the various viewpoints to look over the valleys.
On the way home, we sang songs to keep the girls entertained, including the song "The Cannibal King with a Big Nose Ring" which Ellie decided to sing on her own. Her lyrics were as follows: "The Smelly old King with a big nose thing fell in love with a dirty maid. Baroom, Cha Cha!"
We made our way to the Gardens at Thanksgiving Point as the sun was getting a little too high for our comfort, but the girls were troopers and were thus rewarded with the chance to take off their shoes and play in the various splash & plays in the children's garden. I love the Noah's ark splash and play with elephants spraying water from their trunks, and Becca soaked herself (just as we were getting ready to leave), but the girls loved going in the bear cave, running through the splash & play fountain, jumping in the ark "pool" and running through the maze.
On Friday we started the morning with a trip to Thanksgiving Point. Our first stop being at the Museum of Ancient History. The highlights of the museum for the girls would have to be Rachel--The Fish in the different little streams Sarah--Digging for Fossils Ellie--Playing in the Sand and Water Table (This one ranked pretty high for all of the girls, actually) Becca--Building a giant dinosaur out of a dressmaker dummy covered in fluff and various dinosaur heads, tails, horns, spikes, arms and legs that you could Velcro or hook in place. Digging for fossils. Rachel burying her shoes. Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus (Do they look scared?) Playing at the sand/water table.
After a yummy lunch at the Lion House (with WAY more food than we could eat), we made our way to the Discovery Kids' Museum. The oldest three girls have all had a chance to visit the museum but for the rest of us it was a first time visit. Other than the fact that Rachel decided to actually leave when we gave the girls there two minute warning & we had to race around to find her, the entire outing was very fun. The girls played with the vacuum balls, the wooden xylophone, the water table, went rock climbing, played at the miniature farm and grocery store, played with the construction blocks and cranes, made paper airplanes, built with blocks, rolled ping-pong balls down the "wall of PVC pipe," floated muffin cups up to the rafters, and had an all around great time.
As we were leaving the zoo, everyone wanted to ride on the train, but we told the girls that they could ride on a big train, little train, and horses if they would come with us. None of us had ever been to This is the Place since they turned it into a "Heritage Park" and it was a lot of fun for the girls. The most memorable part of the trip (for Becca at least) was the fact that she got a bloody nose and a very nice man helped her, and gave her a Deseret Dollar that she got to spend on Pixie Stix at ZCMI. The rest of the girls also got a bunch of pixie stix which helped to mollify them despite the increasing heat of the day. All in all it was most enjoyable.
We started our adventure at Hogle Zoo. We focused our visit on Greg's favorite blog "Zoo-Borns" (I know, can you believe he claims Zoo-borns as his favorite & not this blog?). There were four babies born at the zoo recently, and we saw three of the four. There was a baby giraffe, elephant, snow leopard, and tamarin monkeys. We saw everything other than the elephant who is not out on display yet :( but the other babies were all very cute. The girls had the most fun climbing on the bronze statues, getting sprayed by the misting fans and riding on the carousel, however.
I was reading jokes with Ellie just now & asked her "What is a liquid that never freezes?" The answer was "warm water" but I thought Ellie's answer was pretty amazing. She said, "THE SUN! Because the sun is liquid and it never freezes!" I know that the sun is "a mass of incandescent gas"* but when you look at plasma it looks a lot like a liquid and I just have to ask, What 6 year old thinks like that?
We had visitor at our door this morning to tell us that ANOTHER deer was stuck in the corner of our fence. Fortunately, Greg and some neighbors were able to save this one. They hooked up a Suburban to the fence post and pulled it enough that Greg could lift the deer by its back legs and get it out. My theory...the deer have been using the little gap between our fence & the church all summer and they are now too big. So, we need to do something to cover the gap between the two fences. I'm not sure what, but I REALLY don't want to spend another Saturday playing "Animal Planet" in our back yard. (I SHOULD have taken a picture of the little deer...now that it is safely out it seems pretty funny)
And the answer to what these things have in common is...I just found all three in my bed. Argh! I was downstairs working on a chore chart of sorts for my girls and when I came up all four girls were in my room watching TV and eating cold hot dogs and saltines and Rachel was pouring maple syrup on my carpet/blankets etc. I'm not sure my bedroom will ever be the same. The girls were supposed to be cleaning their rooms, but obviously they didn't have time to do that, so Becca is currently moping in her room because a friend just called to see if she could play & I told her that she couldn't since she hadn't done what I asked. OH, BABY! I am a MEAN MOM! I am just hoping that this new chore system will give the girls a little more pride in housework & prevent them from making this kind of mess. If it doesn't work I have threatened that I will eat saltines with syrup in their beds to see how they like sleeping on sticky crumbs. Moooaahh Ha Ha!
Ellie knows that her friends are fans of Hannah Montana; however, she has never watched the show herself. Well, Greg was teasing my sister Haylee about how much she enjoys the show & Ellie went to Google on my computer, typed in "Hanu Montanu" (sounded out it's a pretty good phonetic spelling) found "Hannah Montana" on YouTube, and watched her very first clip. I have informed Greg that thanks to that episode, we now REALLY need to password protect any computer that has Internet access. Ellie is officially too smart for her own good.
I would consider myself to be a pretty good cook. Things usually work out when I am cooking, and I can often come up with my own ideas & have them work, too. However, there are occasional exceptions. One of those exceptions happened yesterday. I was in charge of making dessert for Sunday dinner and thought that brownies and ice cream would be a nice, easy way to go. I just picked up a boxed mix and a couple things of ice cream, thinking I would take the "easy" way out. As I was mixing them, I was tempted to substitute applesauce for the oil, but decided that as long as I was having brownies I would go ahead and make them the decadent way. Well, I think I should have used the applesauce because when I pulled the brownies out of the oven, they were SWIMMING in oil. I literally POURED 1/4 cup of oil from the top of the pan (and the recipe only called for 1/2 cup of oil. I don't have any idea what happened, but it left me with 40 minutes to figure out a new dessert and get it made before we needed to leave. Happily, I came up with something that seemed to be acceptable. I have a recipe for a fresh peach dessert that is yummy, and although I didn't have any peaches, I did have a whole bunch of strawberries, so we had fresh strawberry dessert instead. It was a fun change, but I am still wondering what on earth would have made my brownies separate the way they did. Oh well!
I realize that she is six and a half years old, but for some reason when Ellie came to me this morning to tell me that she had a loose tooth I was hopeful that it would stick around for a little while because I wasn't quite ready for her to turn into a "big girl" with missing teeth yet. But, like everything Ellie does, it was on her own time, and she wiggled that thing all day until she finally convinced Greg it was loose enough to come out, and come out it did...along with a good sized root. I'll be interested to see if she lets Greg pull any more of her teeth because it was pretty bloody when it first came out, but she is now a happy camper & she can't wait to see what the tooth fairy will bring tonight (I guess that means I'm going back to the store for the second time today)...but at least it didn't come out tomorrow...I don't think she would have been to keen to learn that the tooth fairy doesn't work on Sunday.
Greg just changed Rachel's diaper, and I said "Rachel, tell Daddy 'Thank you for changing my diaper!'" And just like any good minder would, she yelled, "Daddy, thank you for changing Mommy's diaper." Yes, that was just what I meant.
I have always been grateful for my neighbors, but today my gratitude increased greatly. We were supposed to go up to the Uintahs this morning, but Greg had to help someone move, so I stayed home with the kids, and while he was gone, a neighbor came over to tell me that a deer was stuck in my fence & I probably shouldn't let my kids outside because it was pretty gruesome (guess what my girls wanted to do as soon as they heard the news). So I hurried the girls upstairs and called Greg. He told me that he had seen the deer on his way to help with the move & called Animal Control, was told that they would be out of the office until Monday, called the Sheriff, who said we should just "take care of it" as well as we could, and told me he would deal with it as soon as he got home. Well, a police officer came to the house, shot the deer (but according to sources didn't actually kill it) and took off. Fortunately, a neighbor who lives just up the street (they are in another ward & sadlyI don't know his name) came over, along with another ward member who was helping my neighbor with some yard construction, and took care of the deer for me. They came to the door and asked me if I would just hose down the sidewalk before the mess dried...which, although not the most appealing idea sat a lot better than letting it dry on my sidewalk. So, I hosed everything down (REALLY WELL) and while I was spraying the sidewalk, my "nameless" neighbor came over and said that he also tried calling everyone he could think of concerning the poor deer, and was told that someone from Wildlife Services would be over on Tuesday to take care of it. He said, "Perfect, we'll just tell all the little kids to step over the carcass on their way to church tomorrow" and then claimed that since he took care of the problem a lot faster than the city could that he would just send them a bill and write it off his taxes. I thought that was a pretty good idea. All I can say, though, is that I am so grateful that I didn't have to deal with the deer on my own with my four little girls peeking out the window to watch what I was doing. I am SO grateful for good neighbors who saw a need and took care of it.
I just found out about another Ellie-ism from a friend of mine who was in Primary on Sunday with Ellie. She said that one of the members of the Primary Presidency was giving a sharing time about prayer, and started her lesson by saying something like, "Isn't it frustrating when you try to call someone on the phone and the line is busy, or they don't answer? Well, we are very lucky because Heavenly Father will always answer when we call." And Ellie, without missing a beat, said, "But I don't even know His phone number."
After Becca's birthday party was such a success I decided to enter the Ladybug Picnic idea at BirthdayPartyIdeas.Com and guess what?! I just got an e-mail telling me that my idea was one of the winners. Woo Hoo! How fun for me. They are sending me a gift card & my idea is listed with the "new entries" but I just have to say that seeing that email (especially after having such a frustrating time cleaning up after mess after mess) really made my day. So, now I am off to put a diaper back on Nakey-Rachey (who can't seem to stay clothed for more than five minutes at a time), clean up my kitchen, and do a load of laundry all with a smile (where I can guarantee I would not have been smiling a few minutes ago). Yay, Me!
In lieu of a trip up to Pine View (due to threatening inclement weather) we went as a family up to the canyon today for lunch. The girls had a great time playing with the cousins and we ran into our friends the Farrers/Barkers. The water in the river has slowed enough that we let the kiddos play in the river & they spent the better part of the time in the water. Here are a few pics of the day's events: Sarah and Lindsey "skipping" rocks across the river Lauren and Sarah floating the hollowed out "zucchini boat" downstream. Rachel enjoying the "refreshing" feeling of cold water on her toes. A picture from the bridge of everyone in the water.
Here are some pictures (courtesy of Haylee's blog) from the summer party my mom did for the grandkids...I have to say grandkids now instead of granddaughters because "Baby Maffew" as Rachel calls him was also invited :)
The girls enjoying a crayon popsicle (I can say girls this time because poor Matthew didn't get one...and he looks sad about it, huh?). Becca drawing herself as a mermaid with sidewalk chalk. The girls playing Ring Around the Rosie in the kiddie pool. Rachel's sidewalk chalk masterpiece. Mom's blue Jell-O masterpiece.
Sarah has taken it upon herself lately to be the experimental chef...and not just any chef, the Popsicle chef. In the past week or so I have found grape popsicles (water and grapes stuck in a paper cup), carrot-sicles and PBJ-sicles, but by far the most disturbing concoction was the hot dog-sicle. Oh, yeah, Sarah broke chunks of hot dog off, crammed them into a water bottle, filled it to the top with water and stuck it in the freezer. Then, when I threw it away, she freaked out because she couldn't find her "special invention." What she planned to do with it (other than freaking out every child in the neighborhood) I have no idea, but fortunately the 'thing' was gone long before she came looking for it (and fortunately for you, I did NOT take a picture).
Saturday we decided to take the girls for a hike. Since the weather looked clear we decided to head up to Bountiful Peak. When we got there I was sad that I didn't pack any Handi-Snack cheese and crackers because the first time I ever hiked the ridge I was about 5 or 6 and Grandpa Hodgkinson packed Handi-Snacks...it might have been the first time in my life I had ever eaten them and I thought they were AMAZING! But, even without the cheese and crackers we had a great time. Come to think of it, that was probably one of the first "hikes" I had ever been on . . . . . . .No wonder I like hiking...I associate it with "special" food :) Here I am with my grandpa looking out over the valley. I remember he held me on his lap because I didn't want to sit on the rocks. I love this picture. Here is a picture of me, Rick, Ben and my grandpa. (and some random person in the background). But back to our trip on Saturday...The drive up the mountain was beautiful. The girls were a little worried that we were going to drive off the edge of a cliff when we first started out, (and as we looked down at the Bountiful Temple the girls looked once but told me not to ask them to look again because they were too scared) but once they got over their fear of the cliff they enjoyed the drive up. About half way up the mountain we started seeing wildflowers like crazy. We saw huge patches of bluebells (which happen to be Greg's favorite flower) interspersed with wild roses and other gorgeous flowers.
When we got to the first overlook, Greg pulled off to a small turnabout, and Ellie panicked thinking momentarily that he was going to drive us down the mountain the quick way, but when the girls got out of the car they were thrilled with the view. After our short hike to the top of the peak we stopped to watch some scouts with mirrors trying to signal across the valley. We saw the flash from one group that was stationed at Bountiful Pond. The fact that it came from Bountiful Pond was fun for us, too because on Wednesday night we took the girls on a picnic/hike through the swamp around the pond and it was fun to see the pond from such a height.
When we told my dad today about the scouts with mirrors he said that the reason we went up to the peak with my grandpa so many years ago was to participate in the same event. What are the odds?