Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Carter!

Carter is 5! We've been counting down the days until his birthday for a VERY long time, so it was nice that it finally arrived! Carter is kind of the pulse of our family. He seems to have the most enthusiasm, curiosity, animation, and drive of all the kids. The others may like something, but he seems to bring the passion into it. His excitement about life often exhausts me and he can frustrate me to the point of tears, but he also has the ability to make me happy faster than anyone else. His cute little face can work wonders...especially when he bats his long, beautiful eyelashes. He has the brightest eyes and an extremely contagious laugh. His sense of smell can rival any canine's. One of his most common phrases is "What's that I smell?" said either with delight or disgust - the latter often to our embarrassment. His gift of smell is usually pretty funny, unless he is smelling his cup before he drinks from it (it always smells clean to me!) or holding his nose all through breakfast while I eat my Malt-O-Meal. Whatever his quirks, I love that he's apart of our family!

This year he wanted a dinosaur cake for his birthday. I had found a pan at a garage sale several months ago and he discovered it when we were unpacking. I was thrilled. It was much easier than all of the other ideas he had been coming up with.

Eric had call on Carter's Birthday, so we blew out the candles and ate cake the night before.

Fortunately, Eric didn't have to leave until 8:30a (doesn't happen very often!) so he was able to take Carter to pick up some donuts and spend a little time with him on his birthday morning.

Carter got all kinds of "totally awesome" things. He was very excited about most of them.

We actually didn't get much response out of the bicycle, which was completely baffling and a bit disappointing. Fortunately, he enjoyed it more once we forced him on it before Eric had to leave for work. We also got him a "Big Book of Experiments" that is saving my life!

As soon as Daddy was gone, we loaded in the car and headed to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Isaac had the day off of school for teacher inservice, so we thought we'd party it up. We met Grandma and Grandpa there and had a great time, even with the heat. His favorite part was the "Dinosaur Dig." Paleontologist is high on his list of future careers.

He got to touch a lizard (can't remember it's actual name) and a snake. Good times! Apparently Ashlyn touched the snake, too. She was with Grandma, so I followed the boys since I figured she'd cower once she got closer anyway and I totally missed it!

After the museum, we ate lunch at McDonald's and then left without a single complaint to the big event - the fire station! We had gone to Lowe's "Build and Grow" workshop the Saturday before. We built firetrucks and then they had an engine outside for the kids to see. The firefighters were asking Carter some basic questions about some of their equipment when he decided to get down to the real stuff. They were surprised to hear him ask about "the jaws of life" and got even more tickled when he patted their generator and asked if that was their power unit. He continued to awe them with his fire engine knowledge until they invited him to their fire station so that the junior firefighter could follow him around for a couple of days. We did take them up on their offer and I set it up for his birthday, which was the highlight of his day.

If I ever wonder if he had a good birthday, all I have to do is look at this picture of him spraying the fire hose - pure bliss!

We weren't there too long before the last team got called out. Carter was pretty disappointed that we had to leave, but fortunately there was a firefighter "on leave" that was there, so he let us look around a few more minutes.

Grandpa lifted the boys up so they could slide down a real firefighter's pole.

I'm glad that we were all able to go. I think Cindy enjoyed it as much as Carter did!

After the station, we went back home to open Carter's present from Grandma and Grandpa. Tools! Building kits! Hooray!

Grandpa helped him build his tool box before they had to go home.

I think he was starting to get a little pictured out!

We ended the day with bike riding, friends over for pizza, and as much PBS as he wanted. We were all exhausted by the end of the day, but it was worth it. Happy Birthday, Carter!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Ashlyn is our child full of phobias. Thankfully we have been able to convince her out of a few of them, but unless she gets a grip on the world around her, she's going to have a rough life. When we were still in Texas, whenever she would stop stone still and start to scream, we knew a cricket had entered the room. We FINALLY can get her to dip a toe in the swimming pool, which is quite the accomplishment, since she would scream anytime we came near her with a swimming suit at the beginning of the summer. Shiny floors have caused her to break down near the point of hysteria - Wal-Mart, Lowe's, the church gym, etc. She has finally learned to crawl across bridges on playscapes at the park. The holes or cracks were just too much for a long time and still can't be taken standing up. Eric took the kids on a small hike yesterday - in the desert - and said she was loads of fun with her fears of cactus and rocks. Let's not forget about trains, busses, etc. The list goes on, but I think you've got the idea.

Last weekend we went to a ward party at a park that was behind a school, so you had to take a fairly long trail from the parking lot to get to it. By the time we left, it was dark and there was no lighting along the trail. Mine and Eric's arms were full with chairs, blankets, etc., so the kids were forced to walk. Ashlyn was cowering behind - worried that a coyote was going to come out of the Tucson, AZ rain forest - but at least she was moving along. Suddenly she collapsed on the ground, sobbing, and wouldn't move an inch. After several attempts to get her to move along and her only increasing in her hysteria, I finally shifted my load and picked her up to see what the matter was. The only thing I could get out of her was "A kinkajou!" as she pointed and then buried her head against me. Yes, a kinkajou. According to Wikipedia (I can't always keep up with all of the random animals my children come across) it is a nocturnal rainforest mammal, somewhere between a raccoon and a monkey that they describe as "playful, generally quiet and docile." Oh no! Beware of the kinkajou!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

International Wildlife Museum

People keep telling me that Tucson has a lot of neat things to see and do, so the other day I ventured out and took the kids to the International Wildlife Museum. It's a museum that is basically a stuffed zoo. They have all kinds of animals - from rhinos to giraffes to lions - with everything else from anywhere else in between. It was neat to see the animals so close and actually get a good look at them. The boys loved it, but it pretty much creeped Ashlyn out. We couldn't even get her to cross the boardwalk to get inside - but we'll save Ashlyn's hundreds of phobias for another day! I couldn't get Carter to pose in front of the bears and we ran through the dark nocturnal room, but other than that it was a lot of fun. It's quite a bit cheaper than all the other museums, too. Come and visit me and I'll take you there! :) We hope to go back again soon.

A little bit of Ashlyn

I had a few cute pictures of Ashlyn, so I decided she would get a showcase all her own. She has finally started getting into dressup - the funnest part of being a little girl (until you have to leave the house), but I can't seem to ever take pictures of her when she's all dolled up in pink tutus. I was going through some of my things and pulled out this nice little number for her to try. This was my FAVORITE outfit when I was a little girl. I found a picture of me in it that I wanted to post with it, but I can't get my scanner working. She liked it for a minute, but unfortunately it doesn't compete with some of her other favorites. It's amazing how different she is than my boys in so many areas. Clothing is definitely one of those areas. She has her own opinion of what she wants to wear and she gets pretty set on it, matching or no. She thinks she's pretty hot stuff, so I let her wear whatever until we have to go out in public.

One of my favorite websites for toddlers is It teaches all the letters of the alphabet, beginning reading, and has a few games. Ashlyn is always begging to play "Letters" and since it's not always convenient for me to sit down and help her, she decided to learn how to use the mouse herself. She was pretty proud of herself and so was I!

The other day she was watching a movie and this was the seat she chose. It doesn't look very comfortable to me, but whatever makes her happy!
She's a lot of fun to be around (when she naps!) and we sure do love her!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


For the last several months, the boys and I have been aching to go camping. But with house hunting, moving, Eric's schedule, and Isaac starting school it has been pretty impossible. Finally the opportunity arose. My brother Cody off handedly invited us to go with him to his ward campout (probably thinking we'd say no :)) and we jumped on it! Lucky guy! So Friday afternoon, a few weeks ago, we met them at their house in Apache Junction and Cody, Em, and us headed up 2 more hours to a place in the pines past Prescott to enjoy the beautiful weather and the great outdoors. It didn't take Isaac long to find a tree to climb. He scaled right up it and several more. I was impressed with how high he got on a couple of them.

Carter and Ashlyn headed straight over to some dirt. It's amazing how fun it can be to just get dirty without anyone caring.

They found a little ditch to slide down its bank. Better than any park!

Sloppy Joes, thanks to Cody's Bishop, was the perfect fit for dinner. Doesn't look too sanitary, does it....

It actually got cold! I loved it until later that night - more to come...

No camping is complete without a smore or two. Here's Carter and Emily roasting marshmallows.

There's nothing like a tent to make kids silly and giddy before bedtime. All apart of the fun of camping!

I tried to pack as light as possible since we were throwing into one vehicle with Cody and Em, so of course I decided to skimp on blankets. Nice one, Aub. I had brought two for myself, plus the kids' sleeping bags, but had to use one for extra covers for the kids, which left me with only one small one. Cody offered to let me use his mummy sleeping bag, but trying to suck it up and pay my own consequences, I refused. I didn't sleep a whole lot that night. Besides nearly freezing to death, I had to take on Eric's role. He's usually the one getting up 50 times a night when we camp to make sure the kids are covered and not cold, but since he wasn't there, the job fell to me. Halfway through the night, Cody had mercy on me and made me switch bedding with him. I was so cold and so grateful I couldn't refuse. It came in handy having the sleeping bag because Ashlyn got too cold a little while later and I was able to bring her in with me. The boys say they slept just fine and Cody said it wasn't too bad for him with the blanket. How? I have no idea, but I'm glad!
After such a fabulous night, Cody was the first one up and graciously took Ashlyn, and later Carter, out with him. Here's Ashlyn eating her pre-breakfast snack from Uncle Cody. Not the most nutritious, but I was so happy to still be in a warm sleeping bag, I didn't care. I was happy she was happy - and besides - it's camping!

Here they are eating their real breakfast.

"Thanks for bring me camping, Uncle Cody. You're the best!"

A boy in their ward brought string to make bows, which was a big hit with the boys. I don't think the poor kid had any idea what he was getting into! Thankfully Cody stepped in to help.

Check out my amazing archers!

Before we left, we went exploring for a little bit. Another family had found this amazing fallen tree with fun roots to climb around on.

We decided it would be best to remove Ashlyn from the picture!

After a wonderful evening and a great day, it was time to wash up and head home. Thanks again so much, Cody and Emily, for allowing us to tag along. We needed it and the kids loved every minute of it.