Friday, July 22, 2011

Up and Down

I have had my sister Christie's baby Kate for about three days this week. She is just three months younger than Ali. Having two busy one year olds keeps me going, but they are so cute. They have spent hours practicing going up and down the stairs.

Ali still isn't walking or talking at almost 17 months. She is at least showing some interest in walking by pulling herself to her feet. And occasional walking along furniture. I would be surprised if she takes off any time soon. All of this crawling has made for a very dirty summer. She will have no cloths to hand-me-down to a future sister or cousin because she has ruined everything she has. She does do a bumb scoot as well so her cloths are really tattered. It is sad. She loves to crawl into small spaces and and climb things, but no walking!

She does love her nightly bath and it is a good thing because she never gets to miss it.

Speaking of ups and downs - the major down of the summer has been getting Caleb to play piano or do any chore for that matter. You would think that I am trying to kill him by asking him to practice 3 songs 5 times each on the piano. There are days that he chooses to be grounded from friends, computer and video games rather than practice the piano which literally takes him less than 15 minutes. He has told me a million times, "I don't like to do anything hard. I just want to play." This is becoming a battle of wills and we are both very strong willed. It isn't that he just doesn't like piano. He doesn't like anything that requires effort. What is a mom to do??!!

Cara has her last day of preschool speech next week. She has been in speech therapy since she was 20 months old. (At the rate Ali is going she is on about the same track. Ali has said oh-oh a few times and da or dad in context, and she does a lot more babbling than I remember Cara doing. Cara didn't get her tubes until she was 19 months and Ali got hers at 12 so hopefully Ali will catch up faster. The ENT said that the most critical time to hear for speech development is 9-18 months.) Cara has been going to speech with Miss Wendy Cardon at the school district 3 times a week since she turned 3, 2.5 years ago. We will both miss Wendy. Cara really loves her! Cara is saying all of the age appropriate sounds but she will continue to have speech once a week after school through Kindergarden as long as she is "actionable" for the older sounds.

Andy is officially potty trained. After about six weeks of pooping in his under-ware 100% of the time and only going potty when he was taken there I decided to go to extreme measures. Of course there was positive reinforcement all of the time, but he didn't really care about the treats or the presents. So I needed a negative consequence. He didn't care one bit about wearing wet or poppy cloths, but I cared. It may sound like abuse (at least I wasn't hitting him, yelling at him or calling him names) I gave him cold showers. He "needed to get clean." I would only put him in for a few seconds and he would scream "this isn't funny" over and over. It would make him so mad! After just a few days he started telling me every time he needed to go potty without me even asking and after a few more days he started going poop in the potty too. It is great to have that done.

Now that Andy is potty trained he is practically perfect again. He loves to play outside and is very content with whatever we are doing. We got a kit and hatched a "fish" a few weeks ago. It is growing like crazy and it has been fun for all of the neighborhood kids to watch. (The gunk on the tank was part of the kit. That is what the eggs came in.) I know, this is very much like a pet. I hope that nature takes its course and it dies soon. I am avoiding becoming attached.

Swimming Lessons

Caleb and Cara just finished a week of swimming lessons at a neighbors pool. Their teacher was Liz Hadfield. She has been teaching swimming forever and is SO GOOD at it. Six or so inches of Cara's hair is VERY green. She thinks it is cool to have green hair. The kids loved swimming and made an amazing amount of progress for just a week!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just another day in July

The kids have just been hanging out in the cul-de-sac today. I took the camera out to document "just another day in July." The older kids weren't too excited about getting their picture. Caleb is the youngest of the older boys (and London). They "have nothing to do." They are often found playing a game of soccer or basket ball, but tonight they were hanging on the Benson's porch.

The girls were just hanging out too. They love to do art and pretend. They spend a lot of time in garages where it is shady. Just being together can be fun too. Today they ate over 100 cream and fruit pops from our outside freezer. I am not a fan of the sticky mess so I figure the sooner they are gone the better off we are.

It was an exciting moment when the bigger kids saw that there was something to do - jump in the girls picture. This was all followed by a water fight and begging to have a "camp fire" in the fire pit we built in the empty lot next to our house.

Andy was racing trikes with two little boys his age. (There are 4 boys in 6 houses closest to us that will all be in Andy's grade in school.) They were so darn cute! I took this little photo story.

On just another evening in July the neighborhood kids caught three large snakes within just a few minutes. To say the kids were excited is a huge understatement. Here are the girls showing off one of the snakes.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

$20 well spent

If you know Caleb you know that he is obsessed with sports! He is particularly fond of football. He has been looking forward to being old enough to play tackle football this fall. I am the type of parent that wants my children to try the things that they are interested in even if it is something that I am not personally thrilled about. That is where I stand with football. It really isn't my thing, but I am willing to let him give it a try. In the spring I learned that it costs $200+ to play, that there is practice every night, and that games are not just in Cache Valley. Despite the time and financial commitment I was willing to let him play.

At the beginning of the summer I set him up on a hefty allowance schedule so that he could earn $50 to contribute to football. I wanted him to sacrifice a little in order to play. This week he received his first $22 installment of allowance. For a moment he was excited about using it for football, but when the reality set in that he could spend the money on anything he wanted all of a sudden football didn't seem as attractive. Within a few minutes he decided that he would rather have some battle blades (a popular toy) than play football. I was very clear with him that if he spent his money he wouldn't be able to play football. He told me "it's just a game." My jaw hit the floor.

We took the trip to the store on Tuesday and he spent his money. Last spring he didn't want to play soccer because all he could think about was football. I told him that since he isn't going to be playing football this fall he can play soccer and I will pay for it since it costs less. He said, "yah, I'll play soccer. It's a lot safer." A reply I though I would never hear from Caleb. He is loving his toy, and I am SO GLAD we learned his commitment level before the first week of football.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lots of FUN with NO Pictures to Prove It

We are having a crazy fun, busy month, but ironically I have no pictures to document it. The crazy thing is that we have a new really nice camera. Since it is so nice I don't want to throw it in my purse and carry it around and it no longer occupies a place on my desk like our old camera. It is safely tucked away in a camera bag. Without the camera right in front of me I don't think of taking pictures, and taking pictures isn't something that comes naturally to me anyway. (We did take the camera to St. George and to take pictures on campus so if you scroll down you can see some awesome pictures we have taken with it.) I guess I had better get the old one out and start carrying it with me or at least put it in it's old home on the desk so that I take an occasional picture.

I have to tell you about our new camera. If you believe in the law of attraction this is a great story. If you don't believe in the law of attraction then we are just lucky and it is still a good story. When we went to Disneyland in the spring we stayed with a friend of mine, Angela, in Vegas. Angela and I have never known each other well, but I follow her blog and admire her immensely. I knew she would welcome my family in her home because she is just that kind of person. We were trying to do the trip as economically as possible which is what gave me the courage to intrude and ask her. Angela and her husband Mike were extremely hospitable and we enjoyed our time with them. At one point in the evening Josh noticed a camera. He picked it up and began admiring it. Josh loves cameras! He told Ang that was the camera he had been wanting and asked how she liked it. She told him that it was dropped a year earlier and had been sitting there because she couldn't bare to throw it out. She had considered getting it fixed but was quoted 100's of dollars so she decided to get a new one. SHE GAVE THE CAMERA TO JOSH. She gave him the receipt, the box, the warranty, everything! Josh was obsessed with getting it fixed while we were at Disneyland. One morning he took a trip to Fri's Electronics and got a few things and was ready to take it apart and fix it himself. I am not sure of the details but he started working on it, and it ended up being rather simple to fix. He has been so excited about this camera. He obsessed for a couple of months and got a portrait lens for it rationalizing that he NEEDED it to take my sister Connie's engagement pictures. Thanks Ang and Mike! It has been fun to have a great camera. I just worry about braking it myself.

I don't think my kids have been to bed before 10PM this month. We kicked of the month by having all four Low boys at our house for three full days. Dave and Erica were being session directors at an EFY session so I had the boys from about 8:30 AM to about 10:00 PM each day. It was a nonstop party around here with 8 kids 7 and younger. The kids had a great time and I did good too. I didn't expect to get anything done except caring for the kids, and that is exactly what I did. We even ventured out a few times. We spent four hours one day at the splash pad at the park. It was play group and I didn't want to miss. We also went to the city aquatic center. That was a little crazy, but I put the six non swimmers in life jackets and parked myself in the wading pool with the majority. Josh, Connie and Colby were also there to help. The hardest part was getting them all showered and in dry cloths. I will admit that was mass chaos. The great thing is that the Lows took my kids this Friday and Saturday while Josh and went to Park City for a little retreat to celebrate our 9th anniversary. Tending is also easier when I know I am going to get my turn. Of course I love the Lows as if they were my nephews.

Friday, after having the extra kids for three days, we went to the Red Neck Water Slide in Wellsville. Imagine a hard core slip and slide going down a steep mountain with 100+ yards of flat landing at the bottom. We also enjoyed fantastic friends while we were there. We are so bless to be around such inspiring people. Friday night was the fireworks at USU. We got to see them from a special spot on top of a building. It was AWESOME!

The partying didn't stop on Saturday with Dawson's (one of the Low boys) birthday party and a huge bounce house/water park. It was great fun for the kids. Sunday we had a few friends over for homemade doughnuts. I was introduced to homemade maple bars on the 4th of July last year so I thought doughnuts might be a good 4th tradition. There were fireworks going off all over the neighborhood which kept us up late on Sunday. Then Monday was Independence Day. The weather has been beautiful this week and wasn't too hot of the parade on Monday. If you measure how good a parade is by the amount of candy a kid gets then the Hyrum 4th of July Parade is as good as it gets. The kids never sat down! We had an amazing barbecue at the Lows on Monday night and watched all of the neighbors fireworks. When Caleb asked Josh if he would buy some fire works Josh said, "I would get more excited about watching money burn." Josh is usually a party animal, but obviously he doesn't get into spending money on fireworks, but our neighbors do so we benefitted.

One highlight so far this summer is the fire pit that Josh and the neighborhood boys put in the empty lot next to our house. We are friends with the lot owner and they are really cool about letting us use the property while they are working in China. The only problem with the fire pit is that the kids would like to roast marshmallows every night. Josh has big plans for that lot. He would like to move the dirt a little and make a bike track around it. (Actually that was my idea. He would like to scrape the lot and put turf down or fill it with sand for volleyball.) We did get a basket ball hoop from my parents house and there have been some good evening basketball games in our driveway. Life is good!

Josh and I enjoyed our anniversary trip to Park City. The highlight was dinner. We had some of the best food I have ever tasted at a Italian restaurant in Deer Valley. Dinner was part of the hotel/dining package I got through travel zoo. We stayed at the Chateaux at Silver Lake and ate at the resort restaurant, Cena Ristorante. My mouth waters just thinking about it. The bad part of the trip is that Josh's back is acting up again. I can't stand it when he is crippled with back pain. It makes me mad at him, as if it is his fault. Thank goodness going to the chiropractor seems to help. After a weekend of hardly being able to move he seems to be doing better today after an adjustment. Oh the adventures of life!