Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NOT a travel log - It was time!

Ashlyn always talks about "when I'm a mom..." It's not the usual excitement over babies, etc., it's more like "When I'm a mom I'm going to say to my kids 'Go take a nap'" or "When I'm a mom I'm going to make you (that would be me) change all of my babies' diapers." Today I was making her strawberry and chocolate milk (my kids like it mixed - yuck!) and she wanted to spoon it in. I told her that I got to do all of the exciting jobs because I'm the mom, but that I'd let her stir. So of course, that led to "When I'm a mom I'm always going to say 'No, I get to put it in.'" I then told her that when she's a mom, I'm going to be a grandma and that I would spoil all of her kids rotten and then send them home for her to take care of. She quickly replied with "You're not going to be a Grandma, you can just still be a mom and share my kids with me. That way you can take care of them when I want to go to the store and do things." Remind me not to live next door!

Carter's homework load has significantly increased from kindergarten to first grade and he's not loving it. You know, it takes five minutes to do, instead of one. Sheesh! One of the things he had to do yesterday was write who the characters were in his reading book in a complete sentence. It's on a worksheet that says "Characters:" and then is followed by a couple of lines for the answer. When I was checking his work, I saw that he only wrote "Bear and kangaroo" - not a complete sentence. After much boohooing, he finally brought me back his worksheet to check. Instead of erasing what he had written and starting over, he added a "The" in front of the preprinted "Characters" and a "were" after it. He was pretty proud of himself and I couldn't help but laugh. "Very clever," I said, "but nice try." School could get interesting with him....

Ian LOVES reading books. Especially with his Dad. The moment Eric walks in the door, Ian is following him around with a book. He can't sit down, or Ian will be on top of him, with book after book. It's not just a few. Last night was the same, but Ian is getting more demanding. Instead of going to Daddy, he expects Daddy to come to him. He grabbed a book, went and sat on the couch, made eye contact with Eric, and then starting patting the couch harder and harder - staring more and more intently with each pat - until Eric caved and went to him. Then he gave him a big smile and snuggled in for the story. He knows how to get what he wants!

Isaac starts soccer practice today. He's really excited and wants to do anything and everything he can to help himself get better. He's been riding his bike to and from school everyday and was ready to trade it in for his feet and jog, but I refused to let him. It's near child abuse letting him ride his bike in 110 degree weather, I'm not letting him run! Eric and I have been pretty quick on the uptake with this one. "Did you know that lifting trash bags and vacuuming is really great exercise and will help you get stronger for soccer?" This is going to be a great season!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spoiled Isaac!

My mother-in-law has been after me for over a year to send Isaac to Texas to spend some time with them over the summer. I finally caved, thinking a week wouldn't be so bad, but she insisted on TWO! Besides me missing the kid like crazy, I had no idea what they were going to do with a nine year old for two weeks, but Eric and I said okay. We were all set to say "I told you so" when he was whiny and bored after the first week, but I think Debbie knew that and wanted to insure against it. They stopped off at Inner Space Caverns before they even made it home from the airport and that was just the beginning! Here's the short (or rather long) list of their activities while he was there. I'm sure I'll leave something out!

-Inner Space Caverns
-Playing cards
-Playing Wii
-Driving the tractor
-Air show
-Ranger's game
-Eating out (Eric is still jealous about King's seafood ever!)
-Drive-in Theater (at home)
-staying up as late as wanted
-Cars 2 on the xbox (Thanks Uncle Anton!)

No responsibility, no little siblings, no problem. He was living the life! He also spent some of his time in Waxahatchie with Aunt Jennifer and Uncle Anton. That's where he did the zoo, air show, and Ranger's game, with a little xbox in between. Heaven!

I asked him, of all that he did, what his most favorite thing was. He was waffling between the beach (even though he, Cecilia, and Jennifer all got stung by jelly fish) and Inner Space Caverns. While he thought, I asked him about the baseball game and he said THAT was his favorite thing and then went on to excitedly tell me all the details of the suspenseful ending. Debbie and Jen sent me a few pictures, but said they didn't get very many because they were just too busy having fun. Here's a few that they did get.

Panning for gold

Driving the tractor

Nice fish!

Isaac and Cecilia at the zoo. Apparently Isaac soon became "My Isaac" and Cecilia was stuck to him like glue. He loved the attention and loved spending time with his cousin.

Eric and I were proved way wrong and two weeks was barely enough for that kid. I kept asking him if he was homesick, but nope. Not a bit. Now I want to know when it's my turn! Thanks so much for taking such good care of my boy and spoiling him like crazy!

While Isaac's away....the rest of us will play!

We took Isaac to Phoenix airport to fly out to Texas because Tucson didn't have non-stop flights. Our first stop was my brother Steven's house to see his and Cyndi's beautiful new baby, Lilly, and drop their son Tillman off - who'd been partying with us for a few days. It's the only fun thing we let him do with us before we shipped him off. That and our impromptu family picnic that night.

All six of us kids happened to be in the Phoenix area that weekend for different reasons, so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to get together. We met at the park for a couple of hours then went our separate ways. Good times as always!

We enjoyed Aunt Cari's pool for a day then went home and packed up for St. John's. We went to Aunt Kimmie's house for the 24th of July celebrations. Her most ingenious idea of the whole weekend (plus a little - we got there Wed. and left Mon.) was setting up their monster tent for all the kids to sleep in. They were in heaven, we were in heaven. Brilliant! Cari's family came up, too.

We love their snowcones and they have the BEST snowcone maker ever! Thanks Kort!

Carter's only packing request was his cowboy hat and boots. He and Trace are all snazzed up for the family dance. That's Carter's "You bet I'm a tough cowboy" stance.

The parade took the cake for most rewarding.

It got a little crazy....

...but was totally worth it. They brought back a haul of candy!

Last time we were at Aunt Kimmie's Carter wanted to jump off the diving board soooo bad but just couldn't quite talk himself into it. He was fearless this time and quite proud of himself for making the plunge. I was too!

Ashlyn and Ian had a great time in the baby pool.

The swimming pool wasn't the only place the kids got drenched! We had a huge rainstorm that we LOVED!

I actually got a little chilly sometimes. I LOVE St. John's weather in July! Beats Tucson for sure.

Yogurt anyone?

Monday morning we loaded up and met Grandma and Grandpa at Roosevelt Lake for some fun motorboating (as my kids call it). We brought a couple of extras along with us. Carter was begging for Trace and Cody to come home with us so we threw them in. We could actually make it work this time, so it was fun to be able to say "yes!".

Grandma on the tube with Trace and Cody

Me, Trace and Carter. Trace LOVED the tube. He was on almost every ride. Carter was nervous at first, but was soon riding as much as Trace. Cody rode it a little, but Ashlyn and Ian didn't want anything to do with it.

However, Grandma was able to coax Ashlyn into the lake to swim. Almost everytime we'd change riders the kids would jump in and swim for 10-15 mins. It was a lot of fun.

The rocking of the boat made Ian really nervous and the life jacket drove him crazy. But once we got him hooked up with a licorice he was able to calm down and fell asleep.

Trace and Carter

Pretty cute drivers if I do say so myself!

Cody chillin'

We had to work up to Carter riding by himself, but he did it and even let Grandpa go faster than 2 miles per hour. Yay Carter!

Grandma's greatest accomplishment of the day was getting Ashlyn to lay back. She would have never done that for Eric or I. I guess that's why we have Grandmas!

Cody, Trace, and Carter

Trace and Carter were having fun and being silly as Grandpa pulled them in to the boat ramp. Fun times together!

From Lake Roosevelt we detoured through Thatcher for a couple of days before we went back to Tucson. Grandpa and Grandma took us up to Mt. Graham one of the days for a picnic. Ian loved the corn on the cob.

Carter's a pretty strong dude.

Three crazy boys!

I just can't get over how cute he is!

While we were on the mountain the boys talked Grandpa into hiking to the Bear Cave.

The trail seemed a little rougher than just a year ago when we did the same hike, but we all managed it with no major bumps or bruises.

Ian had the best seat of all!

The kids were all impressed with how good Casey was at hiking. I was pretty impressed with me and Grandma!

We had a lot of fun in Thatcher and kept it up back in Tucson with Trace and Cody, but my pictures have run out. Someday I should learn how to get them off of my phone. We texted pictures to their mom of riding in the lawn mower wagon to get snowcones, getting eaten by an alligator at the Wildlife Museum, etc. Awww the memories! The best part, though, was going back to Phoenix to pick up Isaac. I missed my little boy!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ode to Utah

Although Eric being away for 3 months for his SLC peds rotation was stinky, we were rewarded with a month long vacation in Utah for his last month there. As soon as the kids were out of school (and cub scout day camp was over!) me and the kids set out to join Eric. His apartment was a one bedroom with very thin walls, so we spent most of our time out and about having a great time. Thanks to reciprocal passes (and a friend telling me about them...) we were able to enjoy the Children's Museum, Planetarium, and Aviary as much and as often as we liked - for FREE! It was great! We also spent alot of time at parks and seeing the sights. The weather was beautiful and I'd sigh in happy contentment as I'd see weather reports in AZ and then go about enjoying the outside without being in a swimming pool.

Being in a one bedroom apartment was not ideal, but the kids made the most of their air mattress bed in the dining room. I worried how they would do with Eric and I still awake right around the corner, but they were usually so exhausted from all of the day's activities it wasn't much of an issue. Especially since we generally didn't make it to bed until 9:30 or 10:00 most nights. Who can sleep with the sun still shining and a park right across the street?

Worse than the sleeping arrangments was six people sharing one small bathroom. But luckily, Ian kept even that entertaining!

Here is mostly a photo journal of some of our happenings in no particular order. I'm sad I didn't take more pictures of some of the things we did, but the pictures I did take are in no short supply!

The kids might as well have been on Mars by their reaction to Salt Lake City when we drove in. "This city is so beautiful!" "Look at all the trees!" We've only lived in Tucson for 2 years. Have they forgotten the Texas green already?

Eric took them (minus Ian) to Kung Fu Panda 2 right after we arrived and then they went and walked around the planetarium. Good thing they have soda on the moon!

Temple Square

The kids and I on top of the conference center.

The temple was beautiful and we enjoyed several walks around it. The kids would always see who could spot it first when we'd get close to downtown.

This is the Place Heritage Park

We met up with our friends from medical school, the Hadleys, and went to "This is the Place" park. Last time I was here it was nothing but a monument. When we pulled up, we couldn't believe how busy it was, then quickly discovered that it was a free day. Plus - didn't have to pay, minus - it was so busy it was hard to get the full experience. The kids waited in line to ride the horses for 20 minutes and then got one turn around the circle. They were still pretty happy with it. Sometimes ignorance is bliss - not knowing what you missed.

Ashlyn's favorite part was the school house. They took us in, shut the doors, and then pretended like it was the first day of school. The kids sat at the desks and they gave a short demonstration of what school was like in early Utah territory. When the "teacher" was finished, she dismissed us for "lunch." Ashlyn was really ticked that we didn't go back and finish our school day. "We were only supposed to go for lunch!"

Although everything was crowded and busy, we did get free icecream included in the day. It was a welcome treat after a few hours in the warm sun.

Ian really enjoyed it.

He kept making this squinty goofy face every time he wanted another bite.

The boys' favorite part was panning for gold. It was the much anticipated activity of the day. That's why we saved it for last! Most kids were having a hard time finding any gold, but Carter was a champ and found close to ten pieces. He was bitterly disappointed to find out that you had to trade it in for a piece of candy and couldn't keep it.

They had a train that we could ride around the park. Saved all those poor tired little legs.

Ian trekking along with the pioneers.

Why is it so hard to get a group picture?

Ashlyn, Ian, Isaac, Matthew, Carter, Ryan, Keira

We actually got to spend a lot of time with the Hadleys. They came up to SLC several times and we headed down to Spanish Fork for a couple of days also. We were lucky enough to be their for Ryan's birthday and went hiking.

Always a favorite - even with little kids.

A little licorice and a few waters bottles - Ian was in heaven for the ride home.

Discovery Museum

It was so fun to be able to say "yes" every time the kids wanted to go to the children's museum. They loved it. Ian would mostly sit around in the different cars...

...while the rest of the kids were busy in the construction zone. Carter, especially, took his job very seriously.

But of course, there were still lots of other fun things to see and do.

The giant dominos were also pretty cool. They'd line them, let the kids stand in between, then topple them all over.

Tracy Aviary

You can't see it well in this picture, but there's a bald eagle behind the kids. That and the golden eagles were the main motivation, for Carter at least, for us coming to the aviary. The bald eagle is his favorite bird, followed by the golden eagles, with peregrine falcons coming in at a very close third. It was quite disappointing that they didn't have the falcon, but they had a nest of them on the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, so luckily we were able to get on the live web cam to check them out.

Both of the boys got to help with the "Egg Smasher 2000" show. They padded a chicken egg to represent the nest, then stacked weights on it to see how much it could hold before it cracked. I don't remember the exact amount, but it was up around 70 lbs. I was pretty impressed.

I thought this was a bird zoo, not a monkey zoo!

Isaac got called up to help on the "Eat or Be Eaten" show another time we went. He raced a McCaw to see who could crack open a nut first. He got whooped. I actually got called up, too, and wore leaves on my head and held my arms out like branches for a bird to walk across me.

Liberty Park

Liberty Park was our favorite place to go and we spent hours there. One time the temperature was in the high 60s, but I didn't want my baby AZ boy to get cold, so I dressed him in long sleeves and pants. When we got to the park we saw mothers stripping down their babies to play in the fountains because it was so hot and they were worried about sunscreen. Made me laugh.

We spent a lot of time on this big hill - running, rolling, and riding.

They have these really cool fountains at the park modeled after seven canyons. We almost always waded in them and came in full-on swimsuits a couple of times. Ian wasn't very brave, but he eventually worked up the courage to put his feet in. He was very proud of himself.

One small section of the park had a few carnival rides. The kids begged to ride them every time we went, and we finally gave in on the Ferris Wheel.

Isaac was tall enough to ride on his own, so I think he went by himself just because he could.

Everyone loved their first Ferris Wheel ride - even Eric! We've been married almost 11 years and I never knew that he'd never ridden a Ferris Wheel before. Crazy. Heights aren't at the top of his list....

Can't forget Father's Day! We have the best Dad ever!

I can't believe we didn't get a single picture of the park across the street. We spent many, many hours there. It had a big hill, too, so we would take Ian's ride on toy for the kids to cruise down it. One time there was a summer camp there at the same time and I could tell all the other kids were really envious! They also had a secret hideout that they spent a lot of time in. They (especially Carter) would find all kinds of treasures and come home with their pockets full of snails, rocks, nails, sticks, etc. The funniest was when Carter and Matthew came running to us so excited because they had found a bag in the bushes with a blanket and a knife "this big!" We quickly stashed it back and washed their hands really good when we got home. It was pretty hard to convince the boys that it was a really bad idea to take the foot long knife.

We were really lucky to get to spend so much time with the Hadley's. We miss them! We were also able to meet up with the Killpacks, our fabulous friends from our early days in Laramie. You know they're good friends when you can pick up like you saw them yesterday, even though it's been nine years. We also met up with our friends from Temple, the Deshazers, who had just moved there. So fun!

One of my favorite things we did was visit the Salt Lake City Cemetery. It was across the street from our churchhouse and Carter would beg to go there almost every day. We finally made it right before we left. Most of the prophets are buried there and we were able to find their headstones and those of several apostles. One time when I was out with Ian during Sacrament Meeting we went and wandered around and I felt such a feeling of gratitude as we saw several pioneer headstones and I thought about all the sacrifices that they made. One of the ones we saw was of a man who was in Liberty Jail with the prophet Joseph Smith, was sealed to his wife in the Nauvoo Temple before it was burned, and crossed the plains with the Saints.

I loved all the history that was everywhere we went and the spirit that came with it. Hopefully the kids felt a little of it. I was so excited to share it with them. I'm so glad we had this experience. It was a FABULOUS month and one we'll always treasure.