Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lazy summer days, summer projects and Hillbrook Preschool

After such a busy May, our stay-at-home June was absolutely wonderful. Its what I always imagined a summer with school kids to be like. (All of our previous summers were full of renovations, moves, vacations, service trips, etc. that we've never had an entire month at home over the summer) The kids still had to do a 5 minute job and piano practice before getting their screen time, (20 min. each) and some days they were too busy playing to even bother trying to earn it. We slept in, -- which for our kids is like 7:30 -- we had friends over and we started a Summer Activity Jar, we made a list of summer projects and family fun activities to slowly work on over the summer.  

Chris got this awesome work  / overalls for his birthday from his parents. Our first project was to mow the lawn - we had to replace some beat up blades and tinker a bit to get the mower to stop making such a rattling racket.. so this took us a few weeks to take care of. Mowing the lawn also involves us gathering up all the dead branches from the yard which meant we could start burning down the big stump by our bedroom window from the tree Dan Smith cut down for us last summer. 

We also tackled the draining problem by the playground. When it rains most of our bark gets swept up with the water and goes down the drain under the playground and out to the farther parts of the yard, or gets spread out in the grass and concrete. Also when it rains really hard, even the rocks will get swept down the drain. This is what it looked like when the landscape crew  left early this year: (they did the cement work and playground/bark set up)

We got some big rocks and filled in the little rocks more, and put a wire grate thing in front of the pipe. It looks better and I'm not worried about Freddy throwing balls down the drain like he tried to do a few times. But we still have to figure out how to transition from the bark to the rocks... we're pretty sure the moving bark problem will be solved once we get gutters. 

Also, we wanted to get some parking spots set up off the side of the driveway so when people come over there's a spot to park without blocking the driveway. We didn't know how much rocks to order, but once we found out the deliver fee was the same no matter the amount delivered, we thought we should just order the max amount since we planned on putting a rock boarder all around our house. Turns out 8 yards of rocks is ALOT!!

Meanwhile, the kids have discovered a way to lay across all the swings while they're swinging. Alec thought of it and taught the others and Freddy wanted to try it too, but he's too small so we figured another solution out. 

We used our long mornings at home to play around with hair styles. So fun. 

Probably our biggest summer project was getting ready for me to start a preschool! I spent a lot of the spring trying to work out a logo with Todd, deciding on an overall business plan, researching licensure codes, and getting a website running, and online enrollment, and flyers and advertising etc.  There was also a lot of work to do to create the preschool classroom of my dreams. ;) I played with lots of different layouts trying to maximize the space and balance my needs for a classroom, with our family's needs of a playroom.  I was surprised what a big difference it made just rearranging furniture: taking out the TV and couch and setting that up in the living room, bringing down from the craft room the long little white table Chris and I made a few years ago.

The project that made the most difference in feeling ready for preschool was building the giant magnetic chalkboard! Chris is so awesome and patient with my big dreams. I'm used to my dad just fixing and building anything but Chris has little experience with handyman type stuff and is a lot more thoughtful and meticulous about creating stuff so we have to both give and take when we start a project. 

It turned out so great!! I LOVE how it looks, and its stable and safe and functional! We needed to put twice as much magnetic primer on to get magnets to really stick and so by the time we got the layers chalkboard paint the surface was bumpier that I would've wanted.  But it works!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Swimming lessons and Lake TiakOKhata

We signed the kids up for one week of swimming lessons during the 3rd full week of summer. Freddy was too young for the class and it was almost torture for him to watch the other kids swim and not get in the pool too. My genius idea to put Freddy in the child care there at the gym while I worked out during the lessons was a total bust since the childcare place was closed during that time. The class divided up on the first day into two groups, Alec in the older group and Charlie and Gwen in the younger. I was so surprised how much the kids improved in just 1 week. Charlie and Gwen even swam half way down the pool all on their own! 

The swimming teacher said they all pretty much get the gist of swimming and just need practice so we made a few trips to the lake during the summer to follow orders. :) Lake Tiak-o-Khata is an awesome lake about 40 minutes away with water slides going into the roped off swimming area, docks with diving boards and a basketball hoop and free, first come, first serve lounge chairs and even some umbrellas.  The kids could've stayed there all day. 

We met Gwen's good friend from Kindergarten, Ashlynne there for her birthday one time, and then randomly ran into her there another time. So fun!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Camping at Lake Kincaid, LA

For Memorial Day weekend we met Thom and Brittany and kiddos to go camping! A good half way point between our two houses is the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana.  We planned to drive in Friday and break camp Monday morning. Friday morning though we get a text saying Thom had a TERRIBLE Thursday night stuck on a plane on the runway for 10 hours. EEK. He got major motion sickness and wasn't feeling well. So I stopped preparations to leave and pretty much thought we'd have to cancel the weekend. Besides Gwen and Charlie both threw up early Friday morning... but started acting normal really quick... like they had just drank too much water on an empty stomach or something. Then I get a call from Chris in the early afternoon that Thom took a nap and feels much better and I added that Gwen and Charlie were acting normal so Chris came home from work and within an hour and a half we were out the door! 

During the 5 hour drive there the weather turned from great to terrible.  We arrived at this unknown campground at 9:00 at night in the dark and with it pouring outside.. Thom and Brittany were an hour or so away. The first campsite: full, the second campsite: full. The primitive campsite was completely empty. There were no site numbers, no water, no flush toilets, no map and no people... but we finally spotted some picnic tables off in the trees a bit and figured out what the sites might look like.  We chose  the biggest one and Chris set up the tent in the pouring rain with Alec while I stayed in the car with the younger kids, 1/2 of which were asleep. We had our tent set up and most of our bags in when Thom and Brittany showed up.  Chris helped them set up while I finished getting everything settled for sleeping in our tent. Turns out things were a little squished for our family of 6 in a 4 man tent... especially when mom and dad sleep on a comfy queen/cot/air mattress combo. 

The rain stopped and we all slept pretty good. Freddy woke up and slept with Chris and I for 1/2 the night and everyone was up with the sun by 5:30. :) We had omelets in a bag for breakfast and biscuits. So delicious!

Then we headed over to the swimming area of the lake for most of the day. It was awesome! Perfect weather, perfect water temperature, lots of space.  The kids were in heaven. 

They don't allow pets or food on the sand so we had to eat our deli meat/chips/and apples on the grass right next to it. 

Then we headed back to the campsite to hang out and get a fire going for dinner. We got out the washer-toss set and had fun playing it. It was super cute to see Jane and Freddy play it. The kids did a fairly decent job of entertaining themselves, but I'm really glad we brought bubbles, and some card games.  

We had instant rice with sweet and sour chicken and broccoli and then Thom and Brittany brought stuff to make these awesome smores in a ice cream cone. We filled the cones with marshmallows, mini rolos, mini reeses, and strawberries and blueberries then wrapped them up and cooked them in the coals. The trick was to not put it on the flames but near some good coals and rotate it often. Melted chocolate/fruit goodness with a crunchy cone... can you say delicious?!

The day had been pretty hot and muggy but it sprinkled during dinner and actually felt quite nice. By 8:00 the kids were beyond tired and bedtime was a little tricky. Freddy was the last kid asleep in our tent. By the time we had everyone asleep it was pretty late and we were all pretty tired, but us 4 adults sat around the dying coals and talked a bit so that was nice.  I slept much better this second night because we could take the rain fly off and basically sleep under the stars since most of our tent ceiling is mesh.  

Sunday morning we woke up had a yummy breakfast of oatmeal and muffins and then headed 30 min into town (Alexandria) to attend sacrament meeting. Then we came back to camp and held primary outside. I gave the sharing time lesson, and Thom led us in singing time with his guitar.  All of our kiddos are on the shy side when meeting strangers and they were glad not to have to go to a new primary.  Then we ate a lunch of summer sausage, cheese and crackers and went on a hike.  Looking at the map we thought we figured out a way to shorten the 10+ mile loop by using some camp roads so we herded our group of young kids off down the trail. Alec and Charlie needed some lessons in hiking etiquette and Gwen quickly lost steam and wanted to be carried... Freddy too.  The trail was marked with blue diamonds and we used them to determine when we'd switch the trail leader since most kids wanted a turn. 

Freddy loved being the leader and would march with his shoulders back and pointed a stick forward saying, "fahyow me!" I was really impressed with Graham and Jackson, who walked the whole way and never complained (at least I never heard them do it.) 

We walked along the lake edge for a bit, it was so pretty. But it was also hot, muggy and soooo much longer than we thought. We worried for a bit that we missed the 'roads' we were going to turn off of and kept looking at the picture on my phone I took of the map to try and figure it out. After over 3 miles we found the camp 'road' and a half a mile later or so we knew for sure where we were and sent the daddies to walk on the busy road to get our vans and come pick us up. 

We were glad to get back to camp, had a yummy Sunday dinner of roast, vegis and mashed potatoes and a dutch oven peach/blueberry cobbler with whipped cream.  Freddy was way more than ready for bed at 7:30pm and we tried an experiment with putting him in the tent by himself first and when he fell asleep we put the others to bed with headlamps and books. It went pretty smooth but Freddy still took almost an hour to fall asleep.  Thom, Chris, Brittany and I talked by the fire and discovered a nocturnal ant colony making a new home or new tunnel or something right at Chris' feet. I fell asleep in the camp chair (I had forgotten to take my thyroid pill one morning and was pretty tired). Chris and I slept well again under the stars inside our tent despite Freddy came into bed with us again. 

The next morning we broke camp had hard boiled eggs, yogurt and muffins and took our last cousin picture. Chris and I discovered what happened to the 3 days worth of melted ice in our cooler... it just leaked out the open spout and puddled in our van's trunk! UGH. Its embarrassing to say this is the second time we've forgotten to close that darn spout. 

It was a really fun trip, the kids played really well together and it did not live up to my worst expectations of bugs and heat...but it was still pretty hot and muggy.  It definitely started discussions between Chris and I about renting a camper or RV, but a quick look online dropped that discussion when we saw the prices.   Maybe we should just get a bigger tent and invent/install a misting system around the camp. ;)