Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Fall Break Camping and Beach

General Conference weekend was also our Fall Break (Mon and Tuesday off from work and school). We listened to the first session of Conference on Sunday and then start driving to the Coast in between and during the 2nd session and stream it over my phone while we drive.  We'd arrive around 5 pm and find a camping spot, set up tent, eat a picnic dinner and then be all ready for a fun day at the beach the next day. At least that was the PLAN.  Despite my best efforts to have everything ready on Saturday, I still ended up packing food and gathering stuff during some of the first Session.  I had to remind myself many times that it was Sunday because it felt more like a Saturday... not the best Sabbath day feeling. I would do things different if we were to repeat this like have the car literally packed on Saturday.  Oh well, we live and we learn. Driving was great and listening to the second session in the car was also great, finding our campsite was easy and fun and we had our tent set up pretty fast and dinner easily assembled.  The weather was PERFECT!!! We played frisbee for a while and still had some time to kill before it was dark so we decided to drive the 20-30 minutes to the beaches at Gulf Port and check it out. 

The beach looked beautiful and with so many easy places to park we were excited for our day of splashing around, making sandcastles and jumping in the waves. 

By the time we got back to the State Park (which was more like a 40 minute drive) it was dark enough that we could attempt our first night sleeping in the same tent as a family of 6.  We brought our huge memory foam topper for Chris and I to sleep on, and had another couple of pads for the kids and combined they pretty much covered every space on the floor inside our tent... one massive bed. The older kids loved having the flashlights (too much.. some of them lost the privilege of having one for various chunks of time). I did manage to capture this cute moment of Alec reading to Gwen and Charlie out of The Friend magazine. Freddy.... Freddy.... Freddy. He goes to sleep really well when he's at home, in his room, in his crib, in the dark, by myself, without any distractions, by himself, in his crib. But here... he was like that last person to fall asleep besides myself. Poor guy.. it was just too fun. 

I slept HORRIBLY. I woke up every couple of hours wondering if I had even fallen asleep yet, and worried about Freddy who was rolling into and head butting Gwen, then ended up face down in the very corner of the tent with his head off any kind of pad. Then Alec kept kicking Chris and draping his legs across him, who would forcibly fling those annoying little legs off of him and they'd swipe across the side of the tent on their way back down. Freddy woke up only once and jabbered happily to me around 3:00 am and I cuddled him to sleep.  Then the kids all woke up at the same time around 6:00 am with the sun.  Even though it seemed like I had hardly slept I had acquired the biggest knot in my shoulders and a quite painful crick in my neck. I was cranky and worried about ruining the day, but managed to try and look past that and apologize quickly after any cranky remark I would let slip out. Chris had the tent all packed up and put away and I had the kids all breakfasted (previously hard boiled eggs, muffins and fruit) that by the time 8:30 am rolled around we were already on our way to the beach. 

So excited for the beach!

We drove along the coast for quite a while passing perfect parking spot after perfect parking spot for one reason ... We didn't see ANYONE on the beach! We started to worry that maybe there was some wearther warning we didn't know about, or water quality advisory, or SOMETHING.  I felt too conspicuous taking our whole entourage and gear out where everyone could look at the fools trying to play on the beach. But the kids could hardly stand the wait, and Chris wasn't nearly as weird-ed out as I was so I finally deemed a little spot worthy enough because there was a high dune that blocked the view of the beach from the road. :) 

We got all our chairs set up and towels laid out and toys dumped and everything before I even NOTICED the lack of waves.  The water looked like there were lots of plants growing just under the surface and/or big rocks. Turns out there are some barrier islands way off the coast all along the Mississippi coastline that prevent waves and currents from really coming in.  I guess the Mississippi beaches are great for sun bathing and sand play but not really for swimming. I was pretty disappointed at first, but the kids didn't seem to mind and the dark colors in the water that I thought were slimy plants and sharp rocks were mostly just dark/silty sand piles. So we were able to wade out really far and run in the shallow water scaring flocks of birds off of their sandbars. 

Chris and I had the brilliant idea of letting each other take a nap on the calm beach. Chris went first and I took the kids out to explore the sandbars and write in the flat wet sand. 

After Chris' little cat nap, it was close to 11:00am and the kids were hungry so we ate our packed lunches and decided to pack up and drive further down the coast maybe by an hour or two to try and find some beaches with some waves. But by the time we waited for everyone to go to the bathroom and got all packed up and cozy in the car the kids seemed totally happy to be done. Frederick had fallen asleep before we even left the parking lot (He was exhausted) and Gwen even said she was ready to go home now. Ha! So we scrapped the 2nd beach idea (and along with it, my turn for a beachside nap) and just headed home. We got some ice cream on the way and got home before dinner time. It was actually really nice to pick up pizza for dinner and unpack and bathe and everything and still get the kids to bed on time. A quick little 24 hour camping trip to the beach but at least we got out of the house and did something 'fun.'  

BTW - Little Mr. Independent / Always-blurry-picture-kid  loved having his own cup of ice cream in the car. I tried to only give him a spoonful or two at a time, but he still managed to get it just about everywhere. He's talented like that. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

General conference!!

We love General Conference at our house. The kids love to play BINGO with the words speakers say, color pictures, take notes and listen quietly to earn "Conference Cash" and then buy treats with them.  Chris had a last minute Elders Quorum service project helping a lady from our church move at 9:00am. I had most everything ready (or so I thought) the night before and yet still seemed to be running around frantic trying to get the tables and chairs set up, and at the last minute I had technical difficulties getting our TV to work. (It just turned off every 5 minutes or so and I would have to wait for the internet to connect and type in the web address and click on all the links to get it full screen) After doing this 4 or 5 times I tried to get my little laptop connected and so I didn't catch much of the first couple of talks. Luckily Chris came home and saved the day with his laptop and we didn't seem to have any problems after that. 

The first session, the kids did noticeably better than any General Conference session before. In the past, they've lasted for maybe 1/2 of each session taking notes, listening and coloring and then they end up leaving to go play somewhere else... but they really seemed to be engaged(ish) for the entire first session and even a large part of the 2nd Saturday session. We had the sister missionaries come over for the second session and Freddy (who was asleep for the first one) was super content to just sit with Chris in the bean bag and eat popcorn for at least 40 minutes.... which is an eternity for a 22 month old. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fall field trips and normal fun

The kids have all enjoyed some field trips, but Charlie is the lucky dog who has gotten to go on LOTS of them, one even chaperoned by myself! My first field trip with Charlie. We rode the bus together and watched the MSU play, "Pinocchio." It was alright, but it was lots of fun to have some time with my Charlie. He's so lovey and wanted to hold my hand, or walk with his arm around my waist or curl up on my shoulder. What an adorable kid. 

His awesome teacher, Ms. Black takes pictures of him and sometimes sends them to me. Here he got to hold and turn on and off the fireman's hose and after that is a picture of him acting as 'Punctuation Police" in class. 

Frederick is almost pedaling. He's big enough to reach the pedals but hasn't quite caught on to the motion yet. He LOOOOOVES outside time.  All the kids know if they are trying to get his attention and he's not giving it because he's busy enjoying whatever it is he's doing, all they have to do is say, "Freddy, want to go outside?" and Frederick will drop everything and everyone and run to the door. Alec teases him with it all the time. He loves to shoot hoops, ride his fly bike, kick balls and throw frisbees. 

This is his I-hear-something face. He locks into any new sound and stares off into space, sometimes putting a hand on his cheek by his ear to hear better. Usually its a plane, or a bird, or a dog he hears. He's easily scared by strange loud noises, like the vacuum, garbage truck, or a worker using a drill, or even a strange bird call in a tree nearby. 

I've been running with my friend Audra lately on Tues and Thursdays and for the most part Freddy has been an awesome running partner. I'm getting a good full body workout pushing this kid up hills and he rarely makes a sound...only if he hears a dog or a plane. 

Freddy. Loves. Popcorn.

In other random, normal fun I've taken the kids to the park twice in the last two weeks after school on Friday (the day there isn't mountains of homework to do, or dinner to make (Pizza night!) or lunches to prep. They're all getting so big, but Gwendolyn has really taken the cake on that point. She's really lengthening out and losing any toddler chubs. I love toddler chubs. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

September FHEs

Chris had to leave again for a short conference to Dayton Ohio. Its so easy for me to skip things like Family Home Evening or family scripture study when he's gone, because he usually takes a large role in getting those things to happen. But this time, I did great and carried on without him. We made a bonfire and roasted marshmallows for FHE. 

Whenever Daddy is gone the kids always ask for special things 'because daddy is gone.' Like, "Can we buy these cupcakes to be special treats for our lunches because Daddy is gone?" or "Can we get ice cream after school because Daddy is gone?" "Can we get screen time without doing our 5 min job or homework because Daddy is gone?" "Can we stay up a little bit late because Daddy is gone?"  and on and on...  I don't know where they get that. .... but I used Chris' absence as a reason to buy Biscuit Lady biscuits...8 of them!

Here's a picture of Chris at his conference. He looks so handsome.

We took a break from our Lets-try-and-fix-all-our-sibling-fighting-with-deep-doctrine-Family-Home-Evening-lessons and had a 'fun' one instead. We packed up the golf clubs and went to the golf course for some driving range and putting time. Unfortunately the driving range was closed, but the kids hardly even noticed as they had the entire putting green to themselves. 

Freddy used a club for the first 2 minutes then dropped the cumbersome weight and just hucked the balls across the green. 

Another family activity involved composing and practicing this poem for Chris' grandma's 90th birthday! They are having a big party for her in UT but we couldn't make the drive in the middle of a work/school week. We enjoyed FaceTiming with her to recite it 'in person.' 

And why not. I'll post this next picture as evidence that Chris still has it! I've heard him talk about some competition he won at some church or school activity while they lived in Switzerland by being able to balance on a ball for as long as he wanted. 

Freddy just tears about my bathroom anytime I have to use it, or shower, or get dressed or do my hair or put on makeup. He loves to eat Chris' deodorant, hide mine, put on all my necklaces, drench himself in window cleaner, eat toothpaste, kidnap Chris retainer, and play with some powder bronzer-stuff. Crazy kid. This pretty much means I'm getting good at speed showers, often don't wear makeup and almost never do more with my hair than twist it back into a low wet bun. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Frogs on our windows

One fun thing about September is the return of our window friends. We get these sometimes very little and sometimes medium little frogs on our windows. Mostly they hop on at night, but sometimes they'll stick around and sleep during the day. With our lights on at night and no street lamps or anything for a long ways, its a perfect spot to catch moths and other little light-attracted bugs. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Saturday work and fun

We've been working on the drainage ditch in between the garage and guest house. The workers just dumped a bunch of rocks in it without shaping the dirt and so we continued to have standing water puddles that would back up and spill out onto the driveway. So we had to shovel away all the rocks and then using shovels slope the dirt downhill to the backyard. In such a tiny space, it was super awkward but after a few Saturdays we got it shaped right. We still need to lay some fabric liner to prevent water from messing with the foundation then shovel the rocks back on. 

In other, yummier news, we successfully made donuts! 

And then we went to a free MSU womens volleyball game. They were playing SUU and Chris noticed that one of the girls on the SUU team was a Provo high graduate. He's so funny and cute the way he's so loyal to his High school. He brought a Provo High tshirt and waved it around at the SUU team whenever they looked.  

We got there way early to watch them warm up since we knew we'd leave at halftime to get the kids inbed. A sweet older man walked around before the game with a big bag of treats, handing them out to all the early bird spectators.  Hurray for sticky hands and happy kids!

I know most sports are like this, but the announcer and music were SOOO LOUD!!! Especially every time State got a point. 

State ended up losing but there were some awesome ralleys. On our way out, Chris waved the shirt one more time toward the Provo High girl and she finally acknowledged it with a little hand up, but her face and body language seemed SO embarrassed and confused! haha. It was pretty funny.