Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School

 Charles and Elisabeth are back in school. Elisabeth started third grade and Charlie first. This is Charlie's first year going to school full time. He's okay with it. He doesn't mind being there so long, though he says his teacher is mean. I know his teacher. Elisabeth had her when she was in first grade. She's not mean. But, she is strict and she gets good results. She is a phenomenal reading teacher. She works with the students every day, regularly uses parent volunteers, and requires a parent signature each night after your child has read the assigned book. Even though I already knew what Charlie was going to say, I still asked Charlie what he meant by, "mean". Here is his response: "She makes us be quiet all the time. We can't talk unless she calls on us. We have to keep our legs under our desk and she won't even let us move our table a tiny bit." I told him that doesn't make her mean, and that it's probably a good thing. So far, he's doing pretty well with her. I hope it continues to go well and that he doesn't become the kid that has to move his desk to the corner like I've seen before. When I volunteered in this class when Elisabeth had the same teacher, I remember walking down the hall, passing noisy classrooms, and then walking into her class and everything was quiet and peaceful. I liked it.

Now that two of the kids are gone most of the day, and I only have the youngest three at home, I feel like a free woman! Okay, not completely, but a little more free, or at least in the mornings/afternoons. I can go grocery shopping during the day without feeling as anxious, the house stays cleaner, I get more cooking/baking done etc. I'm sure that won't be the case for long, but so far, Jane still takes a two hour nap mid day, and Nora is still so young that she takes a couple of long naps each day(and I've scheduled them to take a nap at the same time) and so I get some time to myself and some time with just 4 year old Annabelle.

Both Annabelle and Jane love to help me cook. I do most of my baking/cooking in the morning right after the kids have gone to school and once we've tidied up the kitchen.  Here is Annabelle helping me make some zucchini bread muffins. We'll have these as an after school snack later on that day and share a couple small loaves with the ladies I visit teach.

I do the baking in the morning because Nora is happiest in the morning and will sit in a bouncer if she's not sleeping. And it's just too crazy later on in the day when I'm trying to supervise homework, piano lessons etc. If I have to do some last minute things for dinner then I will, but I try and do early preparations as much as possible. I don't like to use the girls nap time to do chores, if I can possibly help it, because I'd rather read, blog and check and respond to emails during that time. And I help Annabelle with her school stuff for some of nap time each day as well.

I have been asked on several occasions, if I feel like my kids are behind when they start school because I haven't enrolled any of them in preschool. The answer to that is 'no'. My older kids don't get to watch TV or movies or play computer/video games during the week and the only thing I let my younger kids watch during the weekdays is Leap Frog Letter Factory, or sometimes Leap Frog Talking Words. Though Friday I'll let them watch a movie if they'd like. Because that's really they're only media, they choose to watch it several times a week and so far, Elisabeth, Charles and Annabelle have learned their alphabet letters and sounds from watching it so often. 2 year old Jane is getting close. Also, most week days when the youngest two are napping, Annabelle has 'school time' where she goes through workbook pages (I buy them at Costco) and alphabet flashcards. I'm always there to help her if she has any questions. Randomly throughout the day, when we're together, I'll ask Annabelle to do things like, "spell cat" and we'll sound it out together. Or, "Let's see how high you can count" and I'll help her when she struggles. And because she helps me bake, she's learning about measurements. We also read together each day, sometimes just one book, other times, a few. I think because of all this, when my kids go into school they're not only at par with all the kids who attended preschool, but they're ahead of them! They're already reading when they go into kindergarten and they know their shapes and numbers as well. As for the social, they each have four siblings plus we have playdates at least once a week so they're fine there as well.
 Here is Annabelle fixing puzzles. After she finishes school time, she can do other quiet activities while the girls sleep and many times she likes to put together puzzles. They sell these princess puzzles at the dollar store which I think is pretty awesome. Great Easter basket stuffer!

Monday, August 27, 2012

2012 Family Reunion

 Friday afternoon we arrived in the tri-cities. Friday night we stayed with my brother Fred, his wife Robin and their family.
 All the big kids shared a room together. The girls slept on a mattress on the floor and the boys took the bunk bed. They had so much fun chatting with one another that they had a hard time falling asleep. Around 1030pm I went up and told them I would stand in the room and wait patiently until they all fell asleep and that there was to be no more talking until the morning. They were so tired that I only had to wait maybe 5 minutes. Most of them were asleep within two minutes. 
 Saturday we went over to a community center my Aunt had rented for us, and we spent the afternoon together. Different families were assigned various food assignments and we all ate lunch together. Below is a picture of my mom and four of her five siblings. Jill, the youngest, arrived a little later.
L to R: Rojean, Nello, Fred, Charmaine and Jolene
Nello's family minus my cousin Julia

Fred's family

Charmaine's family minus my cousin Celeste

Jolene's family minus Brian and his wife Kalia
 My cousin Aunna and I came up with a few activities for the kids to do Saturday after lunch. She made lots of play dough and gave some to each child and brought cutters and rolling pins for them to play with.

 I brought stuff for the kids to make fruit loop necklaces and marshmallow shooters.
fruit loops on floss was pretty easy for all ages

The marshmallow shooters were a fun outdoor activity. All you need to make these are disposable cups(not the tiny ones and not the huge ones like those red ones they sell at Costco, just medium sized.), normal shaped/sized balloons and mini marshmallows. You double up a cup and cut about an inch of the bottom. Then tie a knot in the balloon without blowing it up and cut off maybe 1/2 inch of the opposite end(the rounded end). Then you pull the open end of the balloon over the lip/rimmed side of the cup and you've got your shooter.
Corbin with his marshmallow shooter

trying to get the marshmallows to land in the circles we made with chalk

Nora was the only baby (I think) and so she was very loved. She brought so much joy to so many people which I loved seeing.
My aunt Charmaine and her best friend Bob; Bob loves babies

Me and my aunt Jill

 We finished up reunion activities for the day around 5pm and went over to the hotel to swim for awhile before dinner.
Robin(my sis-in-law) is expecting and due anytime

At a buffet for dinner with my mom, Fred, Becca and our families
 After dinner Scott went back to our hotel room with Nora and Jane and put them to bed. I took the older three to the pool again and they swam for a while with their cousins. Afterward, Elisabeth spent the night with Granny in her room and me, Char and Annabelle returned to ours for showers and bed.

Sunday morning we attended my aunt Jill's ward for sacrament meeting. Mark and Jill were the speakers for the day which was nice. After church we went over to Jeff and Jolene's for the last part of the reunion: lunch and a talent show.
My Aunt Jolene and Nora

Elisabeth on Jeff and Jolene's tree swing. Beautiful scenery!

Me and my two sisters, Pepa and Becca
 We ended the reunion with a talent show. Most of the talents were done by the children and so many of them are gifted pianists! This was neat to see because my grandfather on that side, Grandpa Fred, was an amazing pianist and music writer and did piano as a living. I'm sure he was there in spirit, watching, proud.
Mom playing her father's accordion before giving it away

Here's a short, 1 minute video clip of Elisabeth playing a song on the piano for the talent show. I wish I could have gotten Char on camera as well, but he volunteered to be one of the first and I didn't get my camera out in time. I'll take a video of him playing sometime soon and put it on here.

After the talent show, we took off to Boise and stayed the night with some old friends from BYU before finishing our journey home in the morning. Scott and Eric were roommates for a couple of years at BYU and when I met Scott, Eric and Katie started dating and we both got engaged at the same time and married around a month a part. We hadn't seen them in probably 7-8 years so it was fun to catch up. We each had five kids, practically same ages as well. In the van on our way to their house, Elisabeth laid on the floor for awhile to rest and not too soon after threw up from being car sick and eating junk! I told her not to eat so much junk at the reunion but she didn't listen...when she eats junk, this is not an unusual thing to have happen, and even at home when she's not in a car. Charlie made a tent out of his blanket and stayed in that for hours.

Scott and Eric
If I had to pick a favorite thing about our trip, it would be the people. I got to spend time with and talk with so many friends and family members. We had a very nice trip and now we're back, Elisabeth and Charles are in school all day (glory! to hear no screeching during the day because brothers love to tease sisters, is seriously glorious!) and normalcy has prevailed. I even baked up some more granola yesterday and 4 loaves of wheat bread today, all the while keeping the house fairly clean and people fed...yes, I'd say we're back to our routine.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Faucets and Friends

While at my parents house, Scott replaced two faucets in the main bath that were having issues. He said doing this and going to the Mariners game were a couple of his favorite things from our trip. Which just goes to show what an amazing man he is: spending time with his son at a ball game and doing a service for my parents are his favorites. Love that man of mine!

We lived in Washington for about a year a half as a married couple, just over 5 years ago. We met and got close with several families in the area. In fact, we did a babysitting swap every week with three other families and sometimes we'd go on double dates with some of those couples. We've kept in touch with a couple of those families and one of them had moved at the same time we did, but first to Arizona and then New Mexico, and then recently moved back to Washington and it just so happened that they moved into my parents ward! So we got together with them one night and had dinner and visited. The kids all found someone to play with and had a great time together. Unfortunately, Jane who is potty trained and who almost never has accidents, just so happened to have one accident on our trip to WA and it was on our friends carpet! Sorry again Monique. Oh and she made us Mexican Haystacks for dinner which I thought was such a great idea, and so yummy! Similar to a tostada but over a bed of rice instead of a fried shell.

Carter(9) and Charlie(6) playing Legos

Makenna(7) and Elisabeth(8)

The girls wanted me to take a pic of their back bends.

Addison(4) and Annabelle(4)

Scott, Me, Nora, Allen and Monique
Andre took some time to hold Nora a few times. So sweet. My kids have such good cousins.

And the last part of our trip was a family reunion in the Tri-cities in Eastern Washington which I'll cover in my next post. It's about a four hour drive from my parents house to that part of the state(and on the way to UT), so here is Jane during the ride, eating some zucchini bread(thanks Becca!) and watching a movie.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

AB's first hair cut and Kinect

 Becca gave Elisabeth and Annabelle a hair cut while we were out visiting. This was Annabelle's very first hair cut. She's 4 and 1/2 which may seem a little old, but I love her baby curls so much that I didn't want to lose them. And because her hair is curly you can't really tell if things are uneven anyway. I told Becca only to trim it about 1/4 of an inch because I still wanted her to keep some curls. Becca is fantastic and did a great job, as usual.

My nephew Andre with Jane
 The kids stayed up later than normal each night and still woke up at their typical 630-7am time so they were pretty exhausted throughout the trip. There were several melt downs(even from the older children) and a few times where children fell asleep in random places. Here is Annabelle, fast asleep in the bright of day on the middle of the living room floor.
 Toward the end of our stay at my parents house, Andre brought us down to his room(he's living with granny and grandpa for awhile) and let us play kinect with him. It was fun :)!

Me and Scott and Jane in Scott's arms