Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Trouble - naps and timeouts

Oh boy, we've got trouble...with a capital T that stands for two-year-old. Frederick started climbing out of his crib at night and during naps and also on the same day learned how to open doors. So we put away the crib and switched Gwen out of the toddler bunk beds into a big twin bed and gave Freddy the bunkbed, his "big boy bed." He loves it! He loves to lay down in it, and he loves to get out of it and get out of his room.  The first night, I just kept putting him back in bed and spreading his blanket out on him and asked him to stay in his bed. After 3 times he got it and stayed in there. Same thing for his first nap, only it took 6-8 times. Then we were golden for a few nights/naps and it was quite nice. But weekends are hard for naps because he can hear his siblings playing and refused to stay in his room. I dug out our old door child lock thing and put it on, but this little boy cracked that thing in 15 minutes and after a few more attempts could take it off the door in a matter of seconds.  Ahhhhhhh! He's already refusing to sit in his highchair and its making my kitchen even MORE of a disaster every 3-4 hours. 

I refuse to give up nap/quiet time, not just for me, but also because Frederick still NEEDS naps and is so much happier when he gets them. So today, I duct taped on the child lock and its been an hour and he hasn't gotten it off yet! Also big news today was Freddy's first time out.  He took it pretty well. Maybe too well... I'm not sure he realized he was in trouble. :) Oh man. This kid is growing up. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Family fun - golf and skating

At school, Gwen was asked what her family does on Saturdays and while some kids said, "Go shopping with my Nana", or "watch TV" she said, " we work on Saturdays and do lots of jobs." Part of me was happy that maybe, just maybe, my kids are learning to be good workers, and part of me was sad that that's all she thinks we do on Saturdays. The kids actually spend like 95% of their time just playing around the house and if I get 20-30 minutes of work out of them cleaning their bathrooms and rooms and maybe one other job, I count myself quite lucky. Chris and I also usually have our cleaning jobs and a few weekend projects to work on. But Alec has taught me that just playing around the house with toys doesn't count as "something fun." We have to do something ALL together for it to count. Or at least with 1 adult... I guess playing with Mom or Dad is the definition of fun. :)  Anyway, this is a long introduction just to say that we're trying to do something fun as a family on Saturdays.  So when the weather had a slight warm spell two Saturdays ago, we went out to the golfing range.  Freddy caught on quick and loved to hit the balls, but lost interest quick and started throwing balls all over the place. 

I mostly liked watching Chris show us how its done:

Alec broke 2 clubs! He was swinging totally normal and as he swung through the club face just broke off and went sailing out into the range. Although his normal does have a lot of power the breakage is still more a testament of how old the clubs were then of anything else. I think Chris was saying he used those clubs when he was 8 or so. 

Also, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day I took the older kids to the skating rink. The schools had given out free admission tickets to all the kids, so the place was PACKED and despite have 2 free tickets, and only needing to rent 1 pair of skates and 1 triangle push thing, it still cost us $12.  Gwen's skates were not very rolly and so she couldn't go as fast as she would have liked, but it did mean she was comfortable to do a few laps without her triangle push thing. 

Alec was cruisin' on his new roller blades he got for his birthday. 

At home, Charlie usually has his roller blades on from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep. He loved racing around to the loud music. He wanted to do the limbo game and lasted pretty long.  Then all the kids were tired and the place was super packed so when they just wanted to stand in their skates and watch some other kid play the arcade games, I knew it was time to go home. :)  

Oh and we've had the duplos out for a few days and I'm always surprised how much fun the big kids have with them. Over the years, we've acquired a nice little bundle of them and it allows the kids to be really creative. Here is a cool 3D cowboy on a horse that Alec made. Charlie made a sweet motor home/trailer that was 5x the size of the little car pulling it..complete with beds and a fireplace and other home essentials. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Charlie and Chris do basketball

Charlie wanted to play basketball this year and Chris wanted him to have a good experience and so offered to assistant coach... which turned into being the only coach. :) We had one practice before we left for Christmas and then our first game was a few days after we got home. Its pretty intense here in Starkville! Charlie is the youngest and littlest on his team of 7-9 year old boys. Without have any experience playing an actual basketball game (just shooting hoops - of which he's done a fair amount - doesn't count) made for an interesting first game. ;) Charlie defended like he would on a soccer field... shadowing movements about 4 feet away from the guy he was guarding. Also there are SO MANY rules in a typical basketball game (3 seconds in the key, no backcourt press, traveling, double dribble etc..) and a few ones unique to this age group of the league - on offence the guy with the ball has to wait for all his teammates to cross the half court line before he can cross (in hopes of encouraging teamwork and eliminating a court domination of one good guy who can make a fast break down court and score every time). But, I'm not worried. Chris is a wonderful coach and will figure out how to improve his little team and Charlie is already having fun. Win-win!

I admire Charlie's willingness and eagerness to try new things.  He never seems discouraged, no matter how out-of-his-element he is.  I sometimes catch him dancing down the court, or smiling up at the stands to wave to me, or smiling at his opponent as if to say, "I'm guarding you... isn't this fun!?"  

Me and the other kids watching in the stands. My friend Audra (who's son Dash was playing on the other team) saved the day during our second game when Gwen and Freddy started throwing fits about who gets to sit on my lap with a fun mustache sticker book. 

 BTW - I love watching Chris coach... he is so good with kids, gets really into the games but stays encouraging and he's a natural strategist.  He just looks so handsome standing across the court in his jeans, a button up and his MSU hat... hands going back and forth from his hips or pockets to folded across his chest as he analyses the players and trends. After every game he talks to each of the players individually and/or their parents and compliments them about something. Then he goes ON and ON and ON about the game for the next several hours. :) haha. Cute boy. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The 28 hour drive home

New Years Eve was mostly spent gathering up our things in Provo and then loading the car. It literally took all day to do this because we had so much stuff to bring back.  I was able to go over to my grandma Hardy's house and pick a few more things to have in memory of her. I found some wonderful holiday decorations and children's toys some of which I remember seeing in her house and playing with as I grew up. Between the things I inherited from my Grandma and our Christmas gifts and some boxes of college stuff that Chris and I left in Provo when we moved to California...we had A LOT to fit in.  For being so squished and driving 28 hours straight... the kids did great! We let them watch more movies then we usually do and I was way more patient with their calls for help than I usually am because we felt so bad for them.  

With all the snow alongside the road (but never, thankfully, ON the road) it was SO BRIGHT and were grateful for sunglasses. Chris figured out this new way to wear them so they don't hurt his nose:

Gwen learned how to braid! 

I solved my first rubix cube! It was actually pretty fun. 

We drove all day and night and most of the next day, pulling into the Walmart parking lot in Starkville around 2:00 pm. We were coming home to an empty kitchen and knowing that neither of us would want to leave the house again or drive the car for as long as possible, we thought it best to grocery shop on our way in town.  Chris wondered where we would put the groceries (I hadn't thought about that) but we just put them on the kids lap. They were watching their 5th movie and hardly seemed to notice! 

Ahhhhhh! Home at last! This is the time when the extra 45 min we took before we left to tidy up really pays off. The first thing we did was build Freddy's birthday present he never saw before we left. He LOVES it. So do the other kids. They'll all pile on it. Gwen sitting in the car, Charlie on top, and Freddy on the tailgate while Alec pushes them around the house. So cute. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Great Grandma Woodward in Franklin

After a nice Sunday with baby blessings, we headed up to Franklin, Idaho to spend a night with Grandma Dixie's mom! This is the famed location of the Woodward Thanksgivings that we hear so much about... also this area was the inspiration for that Napoleon Dynamite movie.  Between the bedrooms in the main house and the next door guest house we had PLENTY of bedrooms for us all.  GG Woodward hooked us up with some delicious meals for breakfast lunch and dinner: Turkey, potato casserole, bacon, eggs and pancakes, creamy tomato soup etc.   We divided our time between playing games (kids) and talking (adults) inside and sledding outside.  Then we stopped by the new cage-free chicken coops on the way out of town and saw a new flock of baby chicks! Uncle Dave showed us the coops and gave us some info: 40,000 chicks in this coop. These babies had just been hatched and trucked in just a few hours before we got there. So fun! He even brought a baby chick out and let us hold it. Freddy dropped it and then almost fell on it.. but luckily the chick managed to survive.  We had such a great time learning about the family history behind the chicken farm, the house, the settling of Franklin. We loved looking through old pictures and hearing stories. Really amazing to see all that can come from one man and one woman getting married and having kids. 

The one thing that was missing from this trip was Jess and Ryan. I really really enjoyed talking with Jess during the Christmas break. She is such an awesome person and they are both so fun to be around. I wish we could have seen more of them!

Charlie did AWESOME on this snow board thing. He had no fear and kept trying it over and over again. He just looked like a natural by his second run....knees bent, arms hovering out. Pretty impressive! They also had an adult-sized snowboard that Chris and I tried out. It was harder than I remembered but still fun enough that I wish I knew how to do it better.  

Some of the kids got to go down this SUPER long double hill just over the fence. I pulled Freddy up so I could go down with Alec and he fell asleep by the time we got to the top of the hill! (that was a pretty good workout!). 

This was a cool (copy of a) painting that was gifted to Cecil and his wife at their wedding from a famous artist that had been good friends with the bride's family. Oh man, I remembered so many more details about this story on the day that I read it in that family history book, but now I can't remember. Darn. 

Family pictures in front of the big barn before we left: 

We stopped by our other Great Grandma Archibald's in Ogden on our way down to Provo from Idaho for just a few minutes. In fact, the older kids were throwing tantrums of one kind of another and refused to come in so just Freddy Chris and I got to chat for a bit and drink her Delicious home made sugar free grape juice. 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Alec's birthday

Alec is the opposite of a greedy, picky birthday boy. He always seems so pleased and happy with even the smallest gestures. I really love seeing him so content with life. We made him french toast with frozen peaches and cream, eggnog and hot wassail.  There are definitely some perks to have a birthday after Christmas and delicious options for drinks for your birthday breakfast is one of them!

Big thanks to Grandma Dixie for helping me think up decorations last minute the night before. 

We had a big party with all of our Archibald AND Betteridge cousins at a fun foam-pit, rock wall, rope swing, trampoline, slack line, ninja warrior, trapeze ...kind of gym place. Alec was in heaven! A perfect spot for our big 9 year old who is a great mix of natural talent, caution, and physical interest. Also, it was a good place to let a bunch (like 22) kids jump, run, and swing around in the middle of winter. 

We all enjoyed watching Mary show us her skills on the silks:

Chris went to get pizza, water bottles and hand sanitizer. Our car battery had been acting up a bunch over the break. We even had a scary moment in the middle of our long drive out to Utah when the car wouldn't start after a bathroom break in the middle of no where New Mexico. As luck would have it, the battery gave out again while Chris was buying the pizza and he was stranded for a bit a few miles away during the party. My trusty brother, Jordan went with jumper cables to save the day. 

Early that morning (but not early enough!) I set out to make Alec's cake and realized we didn't have enough eggs! So I mixed the other ingredients together and sent Chris to the store. I didn't have time to bake the cake before needing to meet people at the gym at 10:00am, so helpful Dixie offered to stay home late and finish the cake. He only requested a vanilla frosted chocolate cake. I did our good ol' Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake recipe and was planning on doing crushed Oreos in the whipped cream frosting, but something went VERY WRONG and the cake didn't rise at all. Like, at all. But it still tasted decent, and just had the texture kind of like brownies. It all got eaten, so I guess no complaints? Alec didn't seem to notice or care ... like I said before. He's such a sweet birthday boy.  

We spent most of our time jumping around that by the time we opened presents we only had like 2 minutes left before needing to be gone so we did them really fast. 

Alec is my good-hearted, sensitive, intelligent, strong-minded, independent, social-loving-but-shy, boy with such an infectious deep laugh. He's always the first to share his special treat with his younger siblings or anyone else. I love watching his sense of humor emerge and his quick mind is a joy to watch develop. He loves to tease his siblings, figure out how things work and build and invent things both physically and conceptually. He's progressing well on the piano and is a wonderful artist! He loves to read books, shoot basketballs, play with his brothers, play puzzler-type computer games and get good grades. Even though he won't admit it and doesn't show it, he still loves kisses from his mama. When I tuck him in bed at night its a wrestling match to give him a kiss on the cheek. Its literally a game he insists we play each time.  He's a natural early riser and the watch he got for Christmas is a definite help on monitoring his early morning waking... now we just need to work on not waking his siblings up! He's making some really good progress on dealing with the strong emotions he feels and I must say he is so brave to be born first. I can totally see him hanging up in Heaven with his siblings and volunteering to go first so the bulk of the mistakes we make as parents are placed on his willing and strong shoulders. He's definitely making Chris and I better people and I'm so grateful for him and we love him so much!