Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Vet school open house and General Conference


We have friends that go to or work at the Vet school on campus and we've heard a lot about it... including that its a really good vet school. They have an open house every year that sounds so fun and this year we went for a few hours on Saturday before the first session of General Conference. The buildings are big and the classrooms seemed so nice. Its like a university meets a farm, but heavier on the university side.... which I guess is exactly what a vet school was so i'm not sure what I was expecting.  We saw a cow painted  with where internal organs are and it even have a hole with access to the stomach permanently in its side. Which sounds painful and gross, but didn't seem to bother him at all. I guess its really useful for research harvesting enzymes to help other cows? Not sure I understand it correctly. 


Then we saw an animal show where some dogs and cats were dressed up like dinosaurs because the theme was 'Jurassic Bark'. They brought out a snack and a tarantula too and we could hold and pet the animals after the show. We totally didn't even stick around to see the tarantula up close... seeing it on stage was close enough for me! Then they had some stations set up in the hallway where the kids could put on lab coats and 'dissect' a dinosaur, or dig for animal bones in a sandbox, etc.  They had an agility dog show course set up outside and we watched some dogs do that from little tiny ones to big ones. That was pretty cool. Then Chris had to go set up for General Conference at the church so I stuck around a bit more with the kids to visit the petting zoo and see the skeletons.


Even though I tried to have everything set up for Conference before we left, it was still too crazy for my preference during the first speaker, but thanks to the Missionaries for being willing to stay at the church during the session, Chris was able to come home and watch the sessions with us at home. So nice. This year I didn't do much prep and I tried to stay away from anything that made me have to hand out stuff mid-talks. We had a 10 or so brown paper bags with a new snack or activity (like beads and string, stickers, stencils) that we could open 1 up after every other talk or so.  This worked well for the first two sessions, but I needed to find something different for the second day to keep the kids engaged. I'm trying to find the balance between simplifying and encouraging kids to listen... and trying to focus myself on listening.  Not sure I found it yet. 


I loved soo many of the talks and kept thinking, 'oh, this will be a good one to study!' I really learn the best when I can read the words and write about applying them.  Elder Holland totally had me in tears at the end as I felt both so happy with having basked in spiritual light for so much of the weekend, but also a bit overwhelmed with ways I can do better, with the crazy state of the house, and with the amount of junk I ate, I really wasn't looking forward to Monday.. when I have to clean up/recover and actually change habits. I love thinking about and planning to be better but actually making the changes is hard. This time Chris and I are reinstating (its been YEARS AND YEARS since this was regular) our couple morning and nightly prayers, -- my favorite thing about this one is that it was Chris' idea, and mainly his efforts that are making it happen(!). Personally, I'm going to try and not waste so much time on things that don't matter, like following social media multiple times a day and watching TV shows at night. Its not going to be 'fun' but I will feel so much better and maybe not have so many 'blah' feelings about life.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Spring showers

We've had ALOT of rain this spring which means we've had good chances to find any drainage issues in our backyard. For the most part, our new set up out back is awesome (!!) but we do have one or two places that need attention. With all the rain, our grass is starting to get all green and the flowers are popping up and I can even see blossoms on some trees. I love spring. We've had a few tornado watches and the kids have gotten out of school a few hours early on a couple of days, but most of the bad parts of the storms have gone either just barely NorthWest or SouthEast of us.


In other ways we've been showered with extra cuteness the past month as I've babysat a little 2-3 month old girl Monday-Friday mornings from 8-12 for Chris' coworker's coworker. :) Its been a good trial for time management when I start my preschool up next fall and for us dreaming about a possible baby #5.  Baby Adalynn loves to watch Freddy and he gets  a big kick out of her attention. 


Look at this cute face! She's such a good baby. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter

I love my church's Easter hashtag this year, #hallelujah. The video that went along with it struck a chord with me. With all the many ways that I fail as a mom, a wife, a friend, as a Christian... I really do feel like shouting Hallelujah for forgiveness!! Hallelujah for carried sorrows, for inner peace, for fresh starts!! Life would be TERRIBLE without all of that and I really do know from experience that Jesus Christ's atonement is the source of that power. He made possible God's gift to us of transformation. From sorrow to peace, from guilt to hope, broken to strong, and death to life.  So seriously, the chorus from Handel's Messiah is spot on and I feel like singing "Haaaaaaallelujah! Haaaaaaaaallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Halleeeeelujah!" 

We talked on Monday about Palm Sunday, and acted it out for family home evening, then.... the school/work week got busy and we weren't able to do anything else until our branch put on a Good Friday musical evening. The kids sang 2 songs with the primary (led by me, which I was pretty nervous about for some reason), then I had a solo, "Pass it on" and among lots of other great musical numbers Chris and I (and Freddy) sang in the branch choir.  

Then on Saturday we talked about why eggs are a symbol of Easter while we dyed eggs in preparation for our egg roll the next day. Our good friends the Gines came over for a late lunch and egg hunt. 

Freddy was super cute as he found each egg. I think around his 5th egg, he realized there was candy in them because one broke open. He got even more excited and shouted, "can-ey!" He wanted to stop hunting right then and just devour his sweets. 

The rest of the kids were fairly committed to completing the search for the golden egg that's filled with money but despite almost all of the kids walking within 2 feet of it, Freddy picked up the golden egg! 

Saturday night was the Women's broadcast and it was VERY good. I loved the multi generational - multi racial choir. They were dressed in white and portrayed a sense of unity among God's daughters across the whole world and all of the talks were about service and reaching out to help the refugees across the world. It lasted for about an hour and a half then I came home and Chris and I tried to get ready for Easter Sunday. 
For the kids baskets this year we tried a new thing because Alec requested it. So late Saturday night (and I'm talking WAY late because I was needing to plan Singing and Sharing time, and Chris had some Journal paper submissions to work on) we hid the kids' baskets around the house and tied string from their bedside tables, around the house and finally leading to their hidden basket.

Sunday, Chris's meetings were later than normal so we had time to bring all the kids into our bed and retell the events of the first Easter using pictures.  Since our Friday night movie a few days before was The BBC old school version of Chronicles of Narnia (we just finished reading the book as a family) Charlie kept interrupting our Easter story with "Just like Aslan!" "Yeah, because Aslan loved Edmond!" etc. Then they excitedly followed their strings to their baskets.  The kids sometimes got frustrated with how slow they had to walk b/c of difficulty winding up their string and the crossed strings easily got tangled up. I'm not sure we'll repeat this, but it was fun to try something new.

Church was good. We were holding a branch fast on behalf of one of our congregation and our shared testimonies brought such a nice spirit into the chapel. We had been invited over to a friend's house for lunch and egg hunt right after church and despite feeling like we didn't have much time, I really wanted some family pictures so we set up the camera on top of a stool on top of a chair and took the following. I'm so glad I pushed for this. It didn't take long, and the kids didn't complain too much and I LOVE seeing pictures of our family together.  


Lunch was delicious the egg hunt was fun and before long we realized we had been at our friends house  for more than a few hours! Our kids and their kids get a long so well.  Its nice to have friends with whom we can share the holidays! 

Our egg roll ended up being only 2 eggs each (when Frederick helped dye the eggs... we lost about 5 of them). Chris made up a bracket and away we went.



Charlie is the winner, twice over since both of his eggs never cracked! (Although 2 of his 3 matches ended early because his opponent Freddy chucked his egg instead of rolled it and sp of course it cracked... leaving Charlie winner by default)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Charlie basketball

Charlie's basketball season ended! Chris did a great job coaching, and Charlie worked so hard and had a good time. Towards the end of the season we had a really good win where the boys scored more than 20 points! That earned them a pizza party at our house. We won our first game in the tournament against a team that we had lost to previously, then we lost to the 1st place team in the second round. The boys improved, as a team and individually so much.. especially the ones who came to the weekly practices on top of the weekly games. Charlie caught some passes and had an awesome assist, (I think?) and even tried for a shot or two during the last few games. He's by far the youngest player on the court and learning basketball for the first time, he did amazing. I'm so proud of his happy, eager, team-player spirit. 




Climbing trees and Freddy snuggles

There is this big tree in our front yard that my boys love to try and climb.  They must have quiet a bit of Chris' cautious side in them because they remember to put on helmets and work gloves all on their own...even put some on Freddy who would not actually be leaving the ground.  The after-school-treat of popcorn is a big magnet to stay grounded for that little "caw-coin"-loving cutie. 


Another fun thing about this time of year is the HUGE flocks of birds that come around.   This picture doesn't do it justice. The flock is SO BIG and SO LOUD that we can hear them quite noticeably from inside even if all the doors and windows are closed. We hear this loud squabbling and the thunderous flutter of their probably thousands of wings.  Its pretty awesome. 



We all love to snuggle Freddy, the kids still fight over who is playing with him. I wonder if/when that will ever wear off... I'm thinking its not too far down the road. 


Alec likes to teach him how to be 'cool.'


Charlie insists Freddy loves Polar Bears just like him. (Another think I like about this picture is that it almost captures Freddy's side-eye-roll. He does it when he's trying to be silly and he makes a goofy face then without moving his head looks way over and up to the side, then looks back at you. I don't know why, but I think its so adorable.) 


Gwen has been obsessed with reading and spelling lately and turns out Frederick can sit next to hear and listen to her read a Dick and Jane book for forever. Yesterday Gwen was even spelling out what she wanted to say to me instead of just saying it. "M-O-M... L-E-T-apostrophe-S ...E-A-T" 


At the busiest/fussiest moments (usually right before lunch or dinner) Freddy will grab his blanket come to me, lean against my legs and with outstretched arms say, "Ah  cuh-wull"  Translation - I want to cuddle.   I'm starting to half cringe when he says this because although a small part of me wants to believe that he actually means he wants to sit on the couch and cuddle with me under a blanket, the experienced part of me realizes he wants to play this doggie-fetch-balls game we played once a few weeks ago and now he wants to play it every day at 11:00am and 5:00pm. After we gather all the big soft balls in the house we do get to cuddle on the couch or beanbag for approximately .5 of a second before he wiggles free and throws the ball as hard as he can around the room after which we both crawl on our hands and knees to bring the balls back to the couch/beanbag and we start it again. and again. and again.  I guess we gotta take the cuddles where we can get them. :) 



Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pinewood derby

I found out a few weeks ago that apparently the Primary is in charge of the pinewood derby and that it should happen really soon. I worked together with the Scout Committee chairperson, who is in charge of cubscouts, and we put it all together. Neither of us had been in charge of a pinewood derby before although we have each attended a few. All things considered I think it turned out pretty good! We only have 4 cubscouts so we open up the races to anyone from the ward who wants to. We had a good turn out of cars and a good turn out of attendants. The food was a little scarce but with a potluck you never know what to expect. I found some simple, cheap but cute decorations on pinterest using printable racer flags and orange cones.  We also had some games/crafts/snack on the tables that the kids could do/eat while we waited for the races to start. A little road sign scavenger hunt and a raisin box racer craft where you first need to eat the raisins out of a little raisin box then color, cut and glue a covering onto the box to make it look like a race car. These were last minute additions to the event and I'm glad we did them. 

 

We put Chris in as Master of Ceremonies and he directed the races and figured out how to do the races fairly. We did a smaller more extensive bracket for the cubscouts where they got to race in each lane and take the average of 3 runs per lane... or something like that I think. We had a line of chairs blocking off the track and didn't allow any kids across it for the first bracket. Even though it would make his job a little more challenging, Chris agreed to open up the race area a little bit during the larger everyone-bracket to allow each racer to place his own car on the track and take turns lifting the switch to let the cars go. The kids got even way MORE into the races when we did it this way. I'm glad Malina and I stood up for what we felt was best and I'm glad Chris was flexible enough to yield to our request. 


When the last races were finishing up I started putting away all the tables and everybody pitched in and it went really fast. But then we realized that we forgot to tell the judges that they were supposed to judge the cars and find a "Best Design" and also give a certificate with an award to each participant. (like Most Whale-like car, or 'Flattest car' etc..) So while the judges did that our awesome, newly postpartum Scout Committe chair person played 'Duck Duck Goose" with all the kids. It was quite awe-inspiring and entertaining to watch her run around with her 2 month old BIG baby wrapped to her chest. 


Charlie won 3rd place overall!! and got awarded the Most Valuable... I think because he had the highest amount of coins hot glued to his car to act as weights?  The prize baskets were put together by one of my counselors and was a Movie Night basket with a redbox coupon, bag of popcorn a little pull-back car and the top 3 prizes had a Movie Theater sized box of candy. 


Another cub scout won 1st place overall, so we gave the Fastest Cub Scout award to the next fastest cub scout which happened to be Alec! His other award was "Largest Mammal" or something like that because it kind of looked like a whale. 


Here are many of my primary kids and their cars. I love these kids like my own extended family. Our little branch sure feels like a large family sometimes. Great people. 


My first primary sponsored Branch Activity and I think it turned out pretty good! I'm grateful for all the help and I'm glad its over.