Friday, September 5, 2014

August 2014/Summer goals.

One fun Friday night when friends came over for dinner!
This was the Saturday before school started, so we wanted to get as much time as possible in at the pool. I was even going to try to put a bag over Isla's cast so she could go one more time. Right before we showed up, someone threw up in the pool! So we hung out at the park to wait it out. We ended up going home, but the big kids got to go back later. 
After discovering American Ninja Warrior, the boys' playground play has changed dramatically. Their dream is to create a course in our backyard.
At the point, Isla does pretty much everything she would do if she didn't have a cast on. 
Everett likes finding bug carcasses and such. He found a cool snake skin this day, too.
Getting ready for our fancy back to school dinner on Sunday night. 
Don't think I took any pictures of the meal, but we use our fancy (to us!) glasses and put out a tablecloth so it feels special. 
The big first day of school! Carson started second grade and has Mr. Todd.
I originally didn't want to consider having Carson skip a grade. The trend these days is to set your child up so he is on the older end of the class to give him that developmental advantage. It seems like no one skips grades anymore! And Carson loved his kindergarten year and did very well. He wasn't one of those really smart kids who gets in trouble because they're bored. (Carson takes following directions extremely seriously under all circumstances.) So, a couple of things helped us make our decision to let Carson skip first grade. One, I volunteered some in his classroom, and even though he had no complaints, it was obvious to me that he was a little out of place there. He's not only academically advanced, but he's socially and emotionally mature as well. His closest friends from church and the neighborhood are one or two years older than him. He had one pretty good friend in his kindergarten class, but I from my and his teacher's observations, the other kindergartners just seemed younger than him. Mrs. Guyer said she would occasionally make a joke or comment to the class that was way above a kids' level of understanding, and she would realize Carson was the only one laughing or who "got" what she was saying. The second, and biggest reason we felt so good about this change was an idea I had. Even if Carson skips a grade now, that doesn't mean he has to remain in this grade throughout his schooling. Being a military family, we'll definitely move at least a couple of times in the next decade. Between each move, we have lots of options. I could homeschool him for a year. We could send him abroad to have a global experience and language immersion. (We might all live abroad!) After a move, or a year of home schooling, we could put him back in his original grade so that in high school he's with his peers for sports and social events. (The plan is to have him taking college courses during his high school years anyway.) So basically, we felt like second grade was the absolute best place for Carson to be this year. He took a four-part first grade test this summer and scored in the 90s on each section. Passing was to score over 70 on some, 80 on the others. So it was a nice reassurance that he was really ok to skip first. We already knew his teacher, since he attended Mr. Todd's reading group last year, and he's awesome. I don't know if next year he'll do third grade at Scobee, or be home schooled, or whatever. But for now, this is great for him!
Everett is in kindergarten! I have lots of tender feelings for this sweet boy, and I do not like having him gone all day long! I promised him that I would occasionally sneak him out of school after lunch, so we can still have our "Mommy and Ev time." (Last year, while the girls napped, he and I would snuggle on the couch and read books or have a treat together.) After the first day of school, Everett came home practically in tears. According to him, kindergarten is "way too much learning, and not enough playing." He's had better experiences since the first day though! His teacher is Ms. Cisneros.
One night in August, around 12:30 a.m. The life of a surgery resident...
Faye's at that age where if she takes an afternoon nap, she's not tired enough for bed until wayyy too late for my liking. But if she doesn't take a nap I find her like this at 5 p.m. No good!!
The kids finished their summer goals the week before school started. Carson was most enthusiastic about his goal of scoring 1,000 baskets. He achieved it after about three days, spending about 6 hours outside each day at the hoop! I should have taken a picture of the back of the poster. There are tally marks all over it. Carson learned to tie his shoes, and he barely finished reading Alma from the Book of Mormon. (I let him stay up pretty late a few nights that last week of summer to do that and to record the 100 books he read.)
Everett finished his entire Brain Quest first grade workbook. He has really nice handwriting, and I love the careful way he does each worksheet. (Much neater than his big brother!) He made dinner for us and a friend, and he liked to make bagels for everyone whenever we had them. He memorized five scriptures; John 3:16 is the cutest to hear him recite. Swimming across the pool was the toughest one for him. He tried and tried, but he can't yet take a breath and keep going. We adapted the goal to say he could put his feet down once and still get it, and he did do that once! 
Faye learned a song in Spanish (un barco chiquito). She could already ride a two wheeler, but her goal was to make it to the pool and back without help. She gave a lesson about Jesus calming the storm to the family. She babysat a friend's little baby five times and learned to change his diaper. And she added an additional goal of making a skirt, because she really wanted me to do that with her. 
The big summer goals party was at Incredible Pizza. (Can I just say I hate places like this?) Everett had been there for a birthday party, and the boys were dying to go. They earned it, so off we went.
Everyone got a little gift. Carson got a new watch. Everett got a reading lamp that clips to a book. Faye got a nice new hairbrush. And Isla got play dough tools.
Phew, glad to be out of that loud, crowded, screen-filled, money-sucking place.
But glad these kiddies had a great time! 
Four hard-working, amazing kids.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Trip to Utah/Idaho 2014.

On July 31, our sweet neighbor Cheryl dropped these four crazies and me off at the airport. I decided that if I'm good at anything, it's hauling our junk around an airport. The three older kids all wore backpacks and pulled their own carry-ons. (Faye wrestling hers to get back on track when it tipped over occasionally was hilarious.) Two car seats fit together and take up one seat of the double stroller. The handles of two other suitcases can be looped over the stroller handles to get pulled along. This is actually my first time traveling WITHOUT a legitimate baby, and it was a breeze! (I think after I flew from Cambodia to Virginia, recovering from food poisoning, with an eight-month-old baby, any other flights have felt easy.)
Our first stop on our vacation was Park City, Utah! We met up with my mom, my sister Reagan and her kids there. We stayed in a friend's condo and had a great time at the Park City resort. We also did lots of walking. This is Grandmama and the kids hiding in some cones on a walk.
Everett on the big trampoline.
The resort included unlimited mini golf. My boys could spend hours and hours playing mini golf! They are both really meticulous about it, playing all the holes in the proper order. Everett would enthusiastically do the entire course, finally getting to the last hole, and miss getting the hole-in-one each time. He would turn in his putter to the employee and sadly say, "I lost again." I don't know how many times he did this throughout the day, but it was a lot!
The main attraction at Park City is the Alpine Slide. 
My cute nieces ready to go down the slide.
Carson might have been a little nervous at first, but he absolutely loved the slide and went several times. I even sent him and his cousins up the ski lift alone to go down when I had to stay back with Faye! (He later told me that the girls were making him nervous and trying to lift up the safety bar. Glad they made it safely.)
Everett's a brave kid. He liked the slide and even did the roller coaster later with Grandmama! I went with him once on the slide and pushed it as fast as it could go; he didn't like it that fast though.
Aaaand then there's Faye, who is going through a stage that includes a dramatic fear of rides. Airplane rides, carousel rides, anything really. (She screamed during the take-off of our flight.) I made her do the slide just once. She cried the entire ski lift ride up, even with a lollipop to distract her. She did admit to liking the alpine slide (We went really slowly!) but wasn't willing to get on that ski lift again to go back. 

Playing Clue at the condo.
We walked to a fun park another day in Park City. The kids also played in the hot (cold) tub at the condo. We rode the fun, crowded busses to and from the resort a few times. So glad we could see some of my family and enjoy beautiful Park City!
Our next destination was Provo/Orem. (After a brief stop in Draper at my mom's sister's house. The kids met the famous Panda and Mrs. Cheese, their pet dog and cat, who have become the heroes in stories my dad invents for his grandkids. They loved playing in their awesome backyard, too!) We stayed with Rick's sister in Orem. Lots of good memories of Rick's and my dating time here! The boys slept in Wilson's room. Here is one night when I caught Carson up super late reading some books Wilson had gotten out for him.
Oh, how I love running around BYU!! We started south of campus at the duck pond and worked our way up. Faye was really chasing those ducks!
This is the table where Rick and I met for the first time. Also, I love how easy it is to do hair in Utah! Look how straight and shiny with low humidity!
We paraded through campus a bit more, and later we went to the Creamery on Ninth for ice cream. I make my kids eat bananas before they get a treat. 
Now the ice cream! We loved having Wilson with us on our adventures.

The Bean Museum, where we got to see Aunt Dana! (Not that Dana is an elephant... I just didn't get a picture of her.)
Isla throws a cute little tantrum in front of a gazelle. (Isla's tantrums are cute, because when Faye was her age they were much more dramatic and involved banging her head on the tile floor.)
Our favorite, the honey badger.

I love how they had some of the animals in action. So realistic!
We went to the Museum of Natural Curiosity at Thanksgiving Point. It was a discount day, and everyone in Utah has a million children, so it was super crowded. We got to meet my friend Robyn and her kids there, which was so great! We also went with Jeanel plus two of her boys, and Suzette and Wilson. Isla was not a huge fan of this baby water table.
Seven years ago, when Rick and I were newlyweds, we were also Hospice volunteers. We were assigned to visit Virginia Miner. She passed away several months later, but in that short time we really had an amazing relationship with her and her husband, Kent. We've kept in touch, and I totally surprised him by showing up on his doorstep with my four kids! The next day I came back (while the boys were bowling with cousins and the girls were napping at Suzette's), and we had a nice long chat. It felt like no time had passed at all since we'd last been there.
These kids were mad I came to pick them up after three games; they would have kept going for hours!
A cook out while Rosie looks on. My kids loved being around some nice doggies!
I took just these boys to hike the Y. It was perfect! I gave Everett a piggy back ride for just two or three of the switch backs, but he did the rest of the work. Carson and Wilson were great on their own. It's the perfect hike for kids; short enough that they can really do it. So steep though! I had to go pretty slow with Everett on my back.
They touched the Y. I remember climbing on it as a kid, but it seemed way too dangerous now!

After that hike we ate at Magleby's Fresh on the way home. Mmm I can still taste that syrup!
Everett requested more syrup for his.
We packed up in Orem and headed North. We spent an afternoon at Rick's brother's house, where the girls loved playing with Jana's bunnies. Here we are with the shrine to Jaclyn, the best missionary in Bolivia!
We then made it up to Layton, where Rick's parents and sister Jeanel live. Here is Faye Jeanel with the original Jeanel.
While in Layton, Isla had an unfortunate incident at the mall and fractured her tibia. The kids were climbing on those ride-on toys that move when you put quarters in them. (They weren't actually moving.) I had my back turned when it happened, but I heard a thud and Isla started screaming. Faye said she was trying to help her down. My guess is that Isla jumped to her, and Faye missed. I didn't think she was really hurt, even though she cried all the way home. It was naptime, and I figured she was tired. She took a really long nap that afternoon, and when she woke up she wouldn't walk on that leg. I went to change her diaper, and when I grabbed that ankle she screamed! Luckily my brother-in-law Bruce is a family medicine physician, so he got us right in for an X-ray. A couple of days later, he and Rick casted her on Grandma's kitchen counter. So now Isla has had stitches on one leg and a cast put on the other, both on kitchen counters.

While in Layton, we did some food prep for our upcoming Otto family vacation in Idaho. Faye liked the double chocolate chip cookie making! 
That's a lot of chocolate.
And the boys got in the action too.
We also took Otto family pictures. Here is pretty Faye!
And our little blondie.
Most of the photos were taken after Isla's bedtime, and I'm pretty sure she ruined all of them.
On our way up to Idaho, we stopped at the newly renovated temple in Ogden. They have an open house, where anyone can walk through. I loved the beautiful artwork in the temple, and I loved how they decorated with a lot of gold accents. Even gold water fountains!
Why are our kids the only ones trying to get in?
And then it was in the car for about four hours up to Island Park, Idaho. 
The cabin we stayed in was amazing! We were greeted by this elk, which Isla frequently requested to pet. 
There were pool and ping pong tournaments going on throughout the week. I believe Grandpa Sam won the pool tournament. (Am I right??)
And Wilson took the ping pong championship. He is amazing; I could watch him play all day!
Yummy dinners every night, with good company of course.

Cereal for breakfast every day! (Which is a treat for my kids.)
S'mores. The lake was right out the back door. So, so pretty.

We got to go out on the boat a few times. Rick is a pro!

And I was a little nervous. And a total wimp about the cold water, hence the wet suit.
But I got up easily! I didn't know how to do any tricks, so I just hung on for the ride. :)

Everett on a boat is too cute to delete any pictures of him. He definitely logged the most boat time out of anybody.

We took a little trip to Mesa Falls, and then to this place where you can feed big fish.
Typical, Everett with his pants falling down.
Zoom in.

We took a really nice hike another day.

That led here, where a few brave souls went in the cold water.

The whacking-on-the-head game.
At a thrilling evening devotional.
Funny eyes at dinner.
The kids love Uncle Greg.
Some of the group snuck in a little tennis.
This is Mesa Falls.

Sometimes Everett gets off the trail a little.

Mesa Falls was really pretty! I bought a coloring book there, and I hope to color and frame some prints.
For our day at Yellowstone, we divided and conquered. The boys went with Ryker, Bruce and Jeanel. Rick and Faye went with Grandma and Grandpa. I stayed at the cabin with Isla. Believe it or not, my ideal vacation is hanging out in a big, empty house. Isla and I organized the toy room, cleaned the kitchen, read books, etc. (I listened to Divergent the whole time, too.) And when Isla napped I just laid down and relaxed too. Perfect!
The boys had such a good time with Ryker.
Their best animal sighting.

And I think Faye enjoyed being with three adults for her Yellowstone experience. No one to compete with for attention! Or snacks! Or anything else!

Faye was pretty cute afterwards telling me about the "painting pots" and how they saw bears up close, and how one's name was Sam, just like Grandpa.

Back on the boat, one last time. This is Rick and Everett on the tube.

We drove back to Layton Saturday morning, spent a couple of hours there unpacking and re-packing, and then to the airport we went. I ran down the terminal to grab one more Cafe Rio sweet pork salad and was the last one to slip on the airplane. (We got Cafe Rio three times during our vacation, but I had to have it just one last time! Rick claims that when I make it at home it's just as good, but I disagree.) Coming home to a 90 degree house reminded us what humidity feels like, but we were happy to be home.

What an amazing vacation! The summer weather and beauty of Utah and Idaho makes me wonder why on earth we live in San Antonio. (I guess I'll remember in January.) So glad we could make some wonderful memories with family!