Always Crazy, Always Fun, Always Love

Ray Romano once compared life with twins to living in a frat house. As he put it, "no one sleeps, there is a lot of noise and a lot of throwing up." I find this very true with 4 young children, including twins. However, though things are always crazy, we always try to have fun and, most certainly, always love each other.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The little sneak....

So, last Sunday, we had a party with our family for Kenny's birthday as well as to celebrate our dads for Father's day. As usual, the day was a lot of fun. I didn't really take any pictures so there isn't much to post about other than it was a warm sunny day with family and kids in the kid pool, a slip n slide and good food. A truly good day. I love our families!

The story I would like to tell, however, takes place the day before this party. On Saturday, I had to go grocery shopping for our house as well as for this party. I was in the soda aisle planning on buying several 2-liters of soda. Then, I remembered that I had at least a few 2-liters in our basement left over from a previous event. I decided to use my cell to call Aaron to ask him what we had down there before I bought more. He went down to look and what did he find? This.....
Yes, you see correctly- two partial bottles of Cherry Coke. Our conversation centered on what could have happened to these bottles. Did they leak? No.... no mess on the floor. Did the boys get into them? Aaron asked the boys.... "Have one of you been drinking these???" At this point, Kenny grinned an ornery grin and licked his lips and says, "It was good!!!"

Great....good to know my 9 year old (who rarely gets soda and when he does, it is caffeine free...) who is being treated for ADHD, has been living it up on soda full of sugar and caffeine... Needless to say, we had a little talk with him.

As my sister pointed out- there is worse things he could have gotten into- like the liquor cabinet (which of course, we don't drink at all so don't have one). But, I guess she is right- it could be worse. It is worth the laugh I suppose!

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Day 9 Years In The Making!

This past Wednesday, June 16th was an important day in our house. It marked the day my oldest son, Kenny, turned 9 as well as (of course) my 9th anniversary of motherhood. I seriously can not believe I have been a mom for 9 years! He is half way to adulthood!!! In so many ways, I still feel so new at being a mom. I swear he was just a baby last week! He has grown so fast and is an incredible kid. He is sweet and affectionate, compassionate and fun. He has a lot of spunk and energy and a little quirkiness that makes him fun and is just all around a happy kid. He loves to help and loves his younger siblings. I am proud to be his mom.

Recently, he saw part of the move Titanic on TV and read some books on the ship and has since been enthralled by it. He has just been soaking up whatever information he could find on it. So, when COSI- the local science museum- opened an exhibit on the Titanic with authentic items found on the ship, he started begging to go. It was a bit pricey, so I told him we would someday before the temporary exhibit closed. I figured no time better than a birthday, so that is what we did! In addition to me and my kids, we invited one of Kenny's friends Colton along as well as my sister and her two kids. Here was our crew, excited and ready for the day!

(Jacob, Kenny, Colton, Ellie, Meghan, Joey, Savanna)

The titanic exhibit was amazing! Photographs were not aloud during the exhibit. They had items in cases that were from the actual wreckage, as well as recreations of what the rooms would have actually looked like. They had quotes from actual passengers on the walls. Each person was given a "boarding pass" of an actual passenger and at the end, was a large wall with all passengers listed and you could see if your person lived or died. Also, did you know that the titanic is slowly being eaten away by metal eating bacteria and will cease to exist within a couple of decades? So, whatever they don't bring to the surface will be completely lost over time.

After that exhibit, we visited another temporary exhibit they have right now called "big machines." It included a lot of construction equipment that the kids were aloud to climb on and explore. They were even aloud to work the excavators with a pro there to help them! They had big buckets of dirt that the kids could scoop. Here are all the kids hard at work:




It is hard to see in the pictures, but I just love all of the looks on their faces- happiness mixed with concentration!
A big load of trouble!!!!

So, afterward, our exhausted crew came home for dinner, cake and presents. Kenny's request for dinner was Pizza and Macaroni & Cheese- not a combo I would ever put together normally, but it was his dinner, so that is what we had. When I asked what kind of cake he wanted (meaning flavor...) he said he wanted a "Garbage Truck" Cake. That is his other interest right now besides Titanic is garbage trucks. I enjoy baking and I am pretty good at making things taste good- just not look good. I had no idea how to make a garbage truck cake. So, I had Aaron draw a picture as a guide and I cut and decorated it based on his drawing. I thought it turned out pretty well! (ignore the stained cutting board- if I had known how bad it would show in the pics, I would have covered it before putting the cake on it)
And, what would a birthday be without presents??
He got some new scout uniform items and a sketch book:

And, a Titanic book all his own with 3D pop up images- very cool- kind of a big kids pop-up book.


And, his most requested item that he really really wanted:
The Toy Story 3 Lego Garbage Truck (that works when put together!!) He was sooooo excited!
And, with minimal help- had all 400+ pieces put together within a couple of hours:
Indeed, a good day for all. Sunday, we will have a Fathers Day Cookout/birthday party with our whole family. Happy Birthday, Kenny! We love you so much!!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Girls Camp 2010: Highlights and Lowlights



After returning from girls camp (camp for teenage girls at church) as an adult leader, I thought I would reflect a bit on the experience. I was asked to go only a few weeks ago and it was not top on my list of things I wanted to do and was certainly not easy to figure out how to get my family taken care of in my absence. But, I knew they really needed someone to go and knew that I "could" figure out how to get there if absolutely necessary, so I agreed to do it. They have camp at a girl scout camp where I went often as a kid when I was a girl scout. I have sooooo many memories there.

I really liked the theme this year: Stay True And Never Depart (STAND). We had a good group of girls from our ward that went. Seriously, these girls are amazing.
Left to Right: Ariana, Jessilyn, Tess, Diana, Alli, Me, Caitlin, Selena, Katie, Genie (Maria is not pictured- she had to leave the day before due to a dance competition.)
Once there, they are divided by age, or year of attendance. It starts at age 12 and they are the "first years" and on up to 4th years. After that, they are called "JC"'s or Junior Counselors and they help run the show- working with the younger girls to teach and lead them while learning to be leaders. I was placed in charge of the 1st year girls. They were really a neat bunch of girls. (1st years had red shirts, leaders yellow, JC's- green, other years wore other colors)
From left to right, back to front: Shelby (JC), Rachel (JC), Rachel, Me, Shannon, Kaylee (JC), Erin, Rachel, Nicki (leader) , Morgan, Emily, Jane (leader) , Julie, Donna, Jessica (JC), Emily, Caitlin, Becca, Emma, Eli, Rachel

Yes, if you read those names you are correct- there was 4 Rachels, 2 Emilys, an Emma and Eli. Made it fun trying to get names straight....

Thankfully things generally went very well at camp and at home and I did have a good time. But, as with all things there were ups and downs and I thought I would share some of those highs and lows.

Low: It poured down rain the whole first day and the camp was a giant MUD pit with rivers of mud flowing along the paths. I was there a brief amount of time before I was covered in mud.
High: Other than a brief storm on Friday, the weather was sunny and beautiful the rest of the time!

Low: My Home away from Home for the week......

High: At least it was off the ground. And, though it lacked in comfort, I really enjoyed just laying on my cot during free time and feeling the breeze blow through the tent with the peace of the woods. That was actually very relaxing.

Low: Getting off course on our 3-mile hike and turning it into a 4-5 mile hike.
High: It made for a fun adventure and we actually happened on the site of an old bridge that I have fond memories of when I went to this same camp over 20 years ago for girl scout camp!

Low: spiders and ticks....enough said...
Low: getting back from the hike and finding out several girls had multiple ticks on them despite being dressed appropriately.
High: Not finding a single one on myself!
Low: still feeling a bit creeped out wondering if there was one deep in hair that could have gotten away... ewwwww....

Low: trying for an hour the first night to get a fire going- but finally got it! Then trying for an hour the second night till someone else came along and did it. An ego bruiser there.
High: Victory! By the third night, got a good fire going in 20 min. by myself!
(the pic doesn't do it justice- there were more flames, but the camera didn't catch them well.)
High: S'mores 3 nights in a row!!!!! Woot Woot!

High: Skit night! Seeing the Stake Leaders (those in charge of the whole group) act as bubbly teenage cheerleaders...most of which would never fit the part...hilarious!!!

High: Our girls did great on their skit! They had two girls walking back and forth with signs giving bullying and teenage alcohol statistics. During that, the rest of us pretended to make fun of them. One by one, we all all stripped off our over shirts showing the hidden shirts underneath, as we joined with the girls with the signs (symbolizing giving up bad choices and joining with them to take a stand and make good choices). When done, our shirts spelled out "STAND TALL!!"

Low: Finally falling asleep the first night at 12:30, despite noisy girls, just to have one run into our tent at 1am because she heard a raccoon outside her tent and they were scared. After assuring her the raccoon would not hurt them with all the racket they were making. They took that as an invite to serenade the camp at the top of their lungs for the next 2 hours in an attempt to keep the raccoons away. They sang everything from Taylor Swift to church songs to ABC- whatever they could think of.

Even Lower: One of the adult leaders in our ward getting freaked out about the idea of a raccoon nearby (really?!?!) and unable to go back to sleep and keeping us awake from her sudden anxiety.

Other Lows:
- getting girls to clean up after themselves.
- when we had bathroom duty, making them remop 3X to get it clean. Seriously- do their mothers not teach them how to mop?!
- being stuck with poor JC's in our group.... they are supposed to be learning leadership and leading the girls and helping them have fun. Our JC's had a serious attitude and didn't want to do anything. (They did step it up a bit the last day or so, but had already left a bad impression on the girls). Good JC's can make the experience for first years, but bad ones can have a bad effect on them. One in particular even disappeared for a while and didn't go on the hike because she didn't want to. Thankfully, the girls still had fun.
-THE SMELL IN THE VAN ON THE WAY HOME (took 4 girls home...) O...M....G...!!!!!

Other Highs:
- watching the girls cook our breakfast over the fire.
- fun games and activities like "Minute to Win it"
- enjoying nature and the break from the world.
- having most of our meals cooked in a dining hall and only two over the fire (unlike when I was in girls camp with church many years ago and ALL meals had to be cooked over the fire).
-the last night, the girls were determined to "stay up all night"- ya- they were all out by 2 am. ha ha!
-getting to know these awesome girls and seeing their emerging testimonies of Christ.

I could go on and on telling all the activities and lessons they did, but that post would go on forever and no one would read it. In fact, I am impressed if anyone is still hanging on to this point. But, they had a wide range of experiences from learning self defense, to knot tying and outdoor fire safety and hiking. This was mixed with several spiritual activities and devotionals along with lots of free time and games that were just fun and silly. A good mixture. But, I thought I would share one activity of the many that really stood out to me and I think hit home to the girls.

On the first day, the camp director Sheila gave a bite size candy bar to the girls. She told them she would like them to save it until she asked for it back and if they did, she would give them something better. But, she told them, they had their free agency and could eat it if they chose but if they waited, they would get something better. If they lost it, it was the same as eating it. So, later, she exchanged the bite size for a fun size candy bar and told them the same thing. The next day, exchanged for a normal size candy bar and the next day a king size candy bar with the same story. Later, they all met together and she related the experience to chastity and to God and upholding our standards. She compared how the girls trusted her that she would deliver on her promise on something better because she had demonstrated she keeps her promises- so even though they didn't experience that "something better" yet, they knew it would be. Just like God. We know he follows through on his promises. There are temptations along our way to ruin our chastity that get bigger with time, but He promises that if we uphold our standards, their is something so much better waiting ( eternal marriage, happiness, etc).

At that point, she took the girls who resisted the temptation of the King size bar and took them into the dining hall which was filled with two long tables COVERED with junk food- delicous brownies, candy, cookies, cheesecake, chocolate fountain- it was amazing! And, it was all decorated nicely with christmas lights and pictures of the leaders wedding pictures. There was about 10 girls total who did not save their candy bar at some point. They were left outside at first and didn't know what the "something better" was yet. She talked to them about how they felt being left out, even though they didn't know what it was. Their friends got to go in but they didn't and how did that feel? Then she pointed out how in reality, no one is truly shut out of heaven- there is things like repentance and a merciful God that will allow all those who work at it. At that point, she let them in as well and all were able to feast. These girls had plates of cookies and brownies and candy and even grabbed extra for later is how much there was!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Also Introducing, the Next Famous Author

So, my last post was shameless bragging over Kenny (who, by the way, when we got his report card, he is reading at a beginning of 4th grade level!!! Yes, I know he is going into the 4th grade, but at the beginning of 3rd grade, he was reading at an early 2nd grade level. Thanks to getting his ADHD under control and a wonderful tutor and LOTS of hard work on his part, he did it!). Well, now it is Jacob's turn! I have some amazing boys! So, forgive one more shameless bragging post.

Jacob just finished the 1st grade and was awarded honor roll for the second semester at school! He very nearly got it first semester- just one little grade off.
Jacob has faced some tough challenges this year that were beyond his control, but he has still managed to excel and show his colors! Reading has come to him naturally and he has turned into an amazing reader. I actually find him sitting alone in his room just reading. In fact, just tonight, he started to read the Junior Dictionary. They tested him at school and the results were gifted! Wow!! That letter was a pleasant surprise- though, I am not too surprised because the kid is brilliant. So, next year, he will actually be in a grades 2/3 split class, where that teacher will be working with the gifted teacher. It is basically, from what I understand, an advanced 2nd grade class. He is actually reading at an end of third grade level!

He loves to write and writes very cool stories. Here is a sample of a few stories he wrote (with his spelling- that makes it so much more adorable.)

Magic Mowten

Magic Mowten was fantastic! The frst time we went inside. Me and my brothr wer small enof to go inside the playset. Next we played gams. We played a dinosr cach the polke ball game. Then we left. Then the next time I plaed golf. Ther wer ehten (eighteen) hols. The last hole it ets (eats) are golfball. It gose in a macheen. Then we play are favrit game cach the polke ball. Then we go on the rascars (race cars). We had a nise trip.

Kenneth

Kenneth is grate. He is so funny. Once he cote (caught) a duck when he went fishing. He burps in everyone's faces. My brother is eight. He likes garbeg truks. He also likes diging. Once on my brothers brthday my grandpa took my brother to his faverite place. My grandpa took Kenneth to Mick Donlds. He desided to go there. Kenneth is in therd grade. His brthday is in June. It is June sixteenth. I'm going to give him alot of presents when it's his brthday. Kenneth is the best boy ever.

Floorda
(apparently this trip stood out to both boys. It was more than two year ago, yet Kenny wrote a poem about it and Jacob did a story!)

My trip to Floorda was fantastick. We went there one time. We went to the bech. The bech had a playground and I met new friends. There driveway had sand on it. We all went on a wallk. Then we went inside because it started to rian. We even got to stay to have a slep over. The next day we saw some snakes that don't bite. We standed in the water at the bech. I got to get an animal off there shelf. At the bech we found seashels. We got to stay at the bech for an hafe an hour. We reed books befor we go to bed. We went to bed at nine. The next day we were almost going to leve. But we had to say goodby. We had a nice time at Floorda. PS. it took two days to get there.


So, if you hung in there with me this long, you are a saint. But, I really enjoyed reading his work and wanted to record it. I do plan on saving his copies, but I also plan to print this blog one of these days so now I can be sure to have copies of his work to show him someday when he has kids in school.

Thank you for humoring me with my two shameless bragging posts....normal blogging to resume shortly.



Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Presenting.....The Next Robert Frost!

Kenny, who will be 9 years old in a couple of weeks and is just finishing the 3rd grade, just finished a large unit on poetry at school. He created a book of poems that HE wrote himself (that I will share in a moment) and I am really very proud of him.

It started a month ago or so when they did a project where they had to choose a childrens poet. He chose Robert Frost, who is actually one of my favorites! They had to cover a cereal box in paper and the front had to have a large picture with the poets name; the back had to have a brief bio on the poet with a fun activity (kind of like a cereal box would have). Lastly, it had to have two poems by the author- one on each side of the box. Here is his:
He made the word search and did it all himself!

Then, to conclude the poetry unit, they had a poetry breakfast this morning with parents invited. The tables were decorated with the "cereal" boxes! Very cute I thought! And, there was bagels and fruit cups to munch on while the children presented their poems.

I was very touched- and sometimes saddened by Kenny's poems. He actually wrote very very well. It was clear to me how much he has grown over the year. He started out the year waaaay behind in reading, but has caught up to grade level and has shown he can write very well! The part that saddened me was it was very obvious in his writing how he struggles to relate with other kids his age. This has been a real problem for him the last couple of years. I won't go into it because that is a post of its own. But, basically, Kenny is a very sweet and very innocent kid and, for a number of reasons, just doesn't relate well to his peers. This has resulted in not having any "real" friends, which as a mother- kills me! This has been hard on me as well as him. Anyway: Here is his book. Each poem was to be a specific style, as you will see (in case it is hard to read, I will copy each poem after the picture):

Cover page


Dedication Page:
Dedication:
To my favorite grandpa
You will love this poem
I really hope you like my poems a lot

You are the best
I love you a lot
I have been working hard
You are in my heart forever

To Grandpa

CATS:
(this is the only one I can't copy verbatim because I can only get a few words- they are written around the cat in small letters and not his best hand writing....)
This is what I can get...with his spelling: Cats, furry gray, relley fat fore big legs, it has bounes, hart and stumic.Cats hate bats. Cats are fun. There is much more that that but I can't quite make it out.

.
Math
Angle, barograph, cup, data, edge,
face,
Gallon, hour, inch, jack,
Key, line, mile, number, order,
P.M., quart, ray, side, tenth,
Unlikely event, volume, week,
X-ray, year,
Zero property of Multiplication

.
This one is hilarious! Very true on many levels- you can tell how much thought he put into it!
Sounds at Night
A thunder storm
Cars beeping, screeching, crashing
Parents snoring
Bugs buzzing
T.V.
Clock alarms
Trees rustling as the wind blows
Babies crying
Fire trucks sirens on, fire trucks honking
Frogs croaking

.
Suns (haiku)
The sun's very hot
The sun is made of fire
The sun never moves
.
This is one that is a little sad, but surely well written. It is THIS one that HE chose to read in front of the whole group. I would have chosen a different one, but this is what he chose....

Name
Kind Kid
Every day I go to school
Not a naughty kid
Nice to other people
Everything I play with I share with others
The medicine I take helps me think
However kids still pick on me.

.
Gloomy
Sad
Blue, downhearted, unhappy, moody
When my Great Grandpa died.

Angry
Mad, furious, foolish, annoyed
When people tattle on me at school.

.Florida

I see housed, trees and the ocean
I smell yummy hot dogs, and salt water
I hear the waves of the oceans
I feel crabs, rocks, sand, and mud under my feet
I taste the salt air
I think Florida is a wonderful place to visit

(he has been there once in his life- about 2 1/2 years ago and he still has great memories of it! That one is for you, Mom K!!)


.I Am Poem

I am talented and creative
I wonder why People fight
I hear my Grandma's pretty voice
I see the sun in the light blue sky
I want a Golden Retriever named King

I pretend that I am an Artist
I feel so calm and Peaceful
I touch my cats Velvet soft fur
I worry about the future
I cry when someone dies
I am talented and creative

I know that something exciting is going to happen
I believe in my Family
I dream about a new Day
I try to be the best I can be
I hope that I become an Artist
I am talented and Creative

.Why

I don't understand
Why people get hurt
How they die
Why others pick on people

But most of all
Why do people die
Why are their bad people
Why people litter the earth

What I don't understand most is
Why hunters kill animals
Why people go to jail
Why do bees sting people?

.I will

Someday I will be a garbage man
Someday I will die
Someday I will have a family
Someday I will go to New York
Someday I will move to Florida
Someday I will have friends

(just stab my heart with an arrow....ugh...)

Anyway, I was very impressed with his writing ability. His teacher said as well that he just really rose to the challenge and did a great job! I just can't believe how much he has grown! Here is one last picture with one of his teachers. (he actually has two, that were job shares and each worked part time. They were both wonderful and he loved them both!)