Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Birthday Benjamin!!!

It has been a very busy, crazy week. I am getting a little behind on my posts so am going to combine 3 (yes three) of Benjamin's birthday parties into one. About a month or so ago we asked Benjamin what he wanted to do for his birthday. His first request was Chucky Cheese, next a Nephi Party and last a Star wars party. Gary and I are such suckers for our kids. For the most part, if their birthday or Christmas requests are feasable we do all we can to make them happen. Benjamin's birthday was on a Thursday this year which gave us the perfect excuse to take a few days off and go to Salt Lake. We left home late Wednesday Night (about 10:00) and got to Grandma's house about 1 am. The first matter of businees for the birthday was dentist appointments for everyone. Now if that doesn't say Happy, Happy, Birthday I don't know what does. We were all due for check-ups so I made 9am appointments for the lot of us. What more could a six year old boy want than nice clean teeth for his birthday? Although, Benji was the only one with any cavities (just 2 tiny ones) it was a quick detour before the real fun started. From there we headed to Chucky Cheese. We were the first ones there which is always a good idea. We had the place to ourselves for a good 30 minutes. My two sisters and their kids joined us for pizza, cupcakes and games. Benjamin just loves his cousins and he was so excited to have them there. We concluded our visit with the reedeeming of tickets and choosing of prizes. For anyone who doesn't know, you can buy any of the prizes with cash so if you don't have enough tickets don't fret. From there I dropped Gary, Spencer, and Benjamin off at the movies to see the new Star Wars Clone Wars cartoon movie. They absolutely loved it. It was really clean and as long as you are familiar with the regular movies you can follow it easily. When the boys got home we all headed for the pool to cool off (or heat up, depending on your preference). We topped off the day with more cupcakes and ice cream and opening some gifts in Grandma and Papa's back yard. What a great day. After such a full day we took it easy on Friday. We did a little school shopping early in the day and went swimming in the afternoon but mostly just relaxed. That evening, Gary and I were able to go on a rare date thanks to Auntie Kate watching the older two and Grandma watching the little ones. We really appreciate it. Thanks you so much you guys. Saturday was another pretty quite day. As I had mentioned before Benjamin had requested a Nephi party. Well, not all of his friends are LDS so we didn't really want that to be his friend party theme so we suggested it for a family party. We invited Gary's family over and asked that they dress the part. (or at least wear a headband) I made costumes for each of us. The kids were so excited. Desirae was running around squeeling, "Nephi, Nephi!" They loved dressing up. Grandma and Papa were such good sports. Decked out in bathrobes in the heat outside really shows their dedication as grandparents. They would do anything for us and our kids and we really love them for it. Aunt Karen and Uncle Larry were able to come to visit and eat some cake and ice cream. We had so much fun. Sunday was the end of our visit. We packed up, played a little, visited with Aunt Connie and Uncle Randy who came over for a bit and headed home. WOW, what a weekend. Thanks to all who made it such a special and memorable time for our sweet Benjamin. We love him so much and love that he is such an original.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Benjamin is 6!!!

We love you Benjamin! SIX, Can you believe it? It sounds so cliche but man they grow so fast. I have been looking through pictures of Benji today because I wanted to do a little collage of his life. However, me being fairly cheap and somewhat technology illiterate, only got a digital camera like 3 years ago. So, I don't have Benjamin's first three years of life available because I am too busy (lazy) to scan them in. So the next best thing will have to do...Highlights of his past year. I know there are alot but he is so stinkin' cute I just can't choose my favorites...

A little about Benjamin...
Best Friend: Logan
Favorite Color: Red
Favorite Toy: Galaxy Hero Star Wars Guys (Battle of Hoth)
Favorite Number: 7 Why? That's my next birthday.
Favorite Book: Three Little Pigs
Favorite Thing to Do: Play with friends
Benjamin is such a sweet boy. He is so good to his younger brother and sister. He plays really well by himself. He has a great imagination. Benjamin loves doing "projects", anything crafty or arty. He likes to help me cook, especially baking. Benjamin is so excited to start kindergarten next week. He is super bright. He knows all of the basics ie. numbers (he counted to 140 last week, I think math will be a strong point for him), letters, colors and shapes. He loves to play with friends but his best friend is Spencer. He is silly and so animated. He keeps us all laughing. We love you Benjamin. We are so blessed to have you in our family. Thank you for being such an enthusiastic part of our lives.

Spencer's Reward

At the beginning of school last year Gary and Spencer made a deal. We make alot of "deals" at our house. They basically consist of good behavior = reward. When I was little if you were bad at school your name was written on the board. If you were bad again you got a check mark next to your name. Finally, after three check marks, you are punished in whatever way the teacher saw fit. Similarly, many of the schools now use cards. Each of the kids have a set of cards on their desk. Two cards with different colored sides. Each time they misbehave they get their card flipped or pulled. Each color has a different punishment assigned. White - warning, Green - no recess, Blue - call parents, Red - meeting with principal. So the deal was that if Spencer never got his card pulled, not even a warning, he and Dad would go on a one-on-one camping trip. Well Spencer was a model student all year and earned his trip. He and Gary went last weekend. They had a great time. Gary partly packed the camping gear the night before. I just needed to pack their clothes and food the morning they left. Well with the two of us doing separate jobs a few things were forgotten. A few of the things that were "overlooked" were nonessentials like tongs to flip the tinfoil dinners in the fire and utensils and plates to eat them with. My ingenious guys made due with a shovel and their fingers. Just notch it up to a more authentic camping experience. After a super cold night of sleeping in the back of the truck the guys went fishing. We have been a few times with no success. However, this trip was Spencer's reward trip and I guess the fish knew it so he nabbed Spencer's line and Spencer was able to land his first fish! Yahooo! Good Job Buddy! He was so excited. Gary was excited for him too but then he realized he had to get the hook out and kill the thing. Gary is such a great Dad. He was totally out of his comfort zone just worming the hook but he really stepped up by sticking his hand down the fishes throat, hitting its head on a rock and breaking it's neck, it gives me willies just imagining it. Great Job Hun, Way to take one for the team. I have heard somewhere that fish don't have nervous systems so they don't feel pain. Gary jokingly says he asked the fish to let him know if it hurt when he smacked it with a rock and since it didn't move after that he assumes it didn't. When the guys got home I had Spencer clean and gut his fish then I cooked it up and we all ate it. Spencer was so nice to share wit us. Yum, yum, it was delicious. All in all it was a fun trip. One that Father and Son thoroughly enjoyed and won't soon forget. P.S. It has been requested that I disclose the location of the"catch". They went to East Park Res. up Red Cloud Loop. Just 30 minutes from home. We are so lucky to live so close to some of the most beautiful recreation areas in the world.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Uintah County Fair

Ahhh, the county fair, many a song has paid a fond tribute, so we went with high hopes of a magical experience. Only to find out that along with everything else in this crazy world of ours, it has been totally commercialized. There were no animals to be seen (except some oddballs of the human variety), and the rides were $2+ each. We let the kids each choose 3 rides and no snack or 2 rides and 1 snack. They all chose 3 rides. It worked out pretty good because inside there was a 4H activity where the kids got to pretend to be farmers. They planted and harvested veggies, got corn, bailed hay, fed the corn to chickens and the cow and them milked it. They then went to the market and "sold" all of their veggies, hay, eggs, milk and got a dollar to buy a snack. It was really fun and so cute. It was definitely the best part of the fair until...we found out we were just in time for the candy drop. "The what?" you say. Yes the candy drop. It is the coolest thing since trick-or-treating. There is an empty parking lot across the street from the fair grounds that has been "caution" taped off. The kids are grouped by age. The 9-12 year olds, 6-8 years, and 3-5 years. So a local radio station is there DJing the thing and giving everyone the low down of the FAA procedure and such. A helicopter flies into the center of the parking lot, hovers about 6 feet from the ground and dumps like 500 candy bars on the ground. The chopper flies off and the older group of kids run out to the lot and it's a free-for-all grabbing all the candy. Next for the younger two groups the kids go out to the lot and a fire truck extends its ladder with the bucket on the end with two guys in it out to the center of the lot and drops candy attached to plastic bag parachutes on the kids. There had to have been another 500 per group. So with the youngest group the DJ was saying, "No parents out there with the kids." "Let the kids pick it up on their own." Good, right? But when it actually happens there are all these parents out there grabbing the candy and putting it in their kids bag. So the guys in the bucket stop dropping candy and the parents are told to get out but then they send in the older siblings to get the candy for the little kids. Why are people such selfish idiots. What are you teaching your child? Certainly not to be kind and thoughtful. Just me, me, me. Here is my 3 year old out there getting pushed and shoved by all these adults, totally disoriented and no candy to show for it. Lucky for him he has a great older brothers that were both willing to share with him. All-in-all a fun trip to the fair. Hopefully next year we'll research a little more and actually "plan" our fair trip instead of last minuting it so we can get the cheap rides and see the animals and stuff. That was always my favorite thing to do, look at the chickens and rabbits, cows and pigs. Check out the butter sculptures and art show. But I don't think the kids would last too long. Man if Gary and I could find a good babysitter, maybe we could do that sort of thing on a date. Imagine that. Well, enough babbling, if you haven't gone to your local county fair, try it, you'll like it.

Friday, August 15, 2008

So Long to Swimming Lessons

Thursday was our last day of swimming lessons for the season. We have all really enjoyed lessons this year. Spencer is in level 4 (if that means anything). Basically, his lessons are in the cold lap pool where he can swim the full length of the pool using various strokes. He can dive and retrieve at 10 feet deep. He floats on his chest and back. He did great and he loves the water. Benjamin is in level 2. This was the first time he didn't wear a life vest for most of his class. He has done so well this year. He will finally go under the water but he still plugs his nose. He even jumped off of the diving board and swam to the side without any help. This was Andrew's first year of lessons. He still isn't quite sure of the water. He wasn't very willing to do much unassisted but he didn't cry and whine either. He learned to hold his breath while submerging his entire head. His teacher said he is a big flirt. He would peek around the little girls sitting next to him and give them a big smile and laugh. He would snuggle his instructor and not want to be held at arms length while practicing. I loved swimming lessons this year because I was able to go to the Mom and Tot class with Desi. In years past I would try to keep the younger two entertained and out of the pool while the other two were swimming. Desirae loves the water. She has no fear. I'm sure it helps that she knows that I am always there to catch her when she jumps in or swims through the hoop. She will blow bubbles and put her face in the water to get a toy off the bottom. She jumps in and goes all the way under and comes up ready to do it again. She swims all the way under the water from one person to the other. It seems that I don't get enough one-on-one with each of my kids so I loved having the time with her. She is so fun and cute. She would smile the entire class, even when she went under the water. She would shake her head the whole time she was under. It was so funny. We celebrated the end of lessons by going to the open swim this morning. It was great to let the kids swim, practice their new skills, and play on the toys. We had fun but I'm glad we're done. It was a workout getting all of us there and back home again every day for two weeks. I am a little sad though, I can feel the end of summer creeping up on us. ;{

Wolf Den Picnic

If you know me at all then you know that I love to host a get-together so when there was a suggestion in the scout book to have a Wolf Den Picnic I was all over it. This last Tuesday we invited the boys and their families over for "s'more" fun. We started by teaching the boys how to build, light and maintain a fire. Then each of the boys cooked dinner for their families. They had fun roasting the hot dogs. Trying to get all three done at the same time proved to be quite a challenge for them. Luckily everyone was pretty hungry so there weren't any complaints. I have a fantastic calling. I love giving these great boys the opportunity to learn. I feel like it has really opened my eyes to what Spencer is capable of. I don't think I was giving him enough credit before. However, with that realization there is a flip side. I expect more out of him now. I expect better behavior and more obedience, more responsibility and more follow-through. It is hard for me to find a good balance between the little boy he recently passed up and the little man he is. I think Gary and I do a good job of teaching these things and then something happens that makes me question myself. After the scouts cooked their first three hot dogs they went to the table to pull them off the sticks. Being 8 years old, they began to pick out which one they wanted. I then reminded them that they needed to serve their parents first, siblings next and themselves last. I guess I just assumed that "cooking for your family" meant that. I think my biggest thing right now is teaching respect. There are simple things I expect my children to know and follow. Things like the golden rule (which encompasses alot), personal space (theirs and others), no back talk (especially to an adult). But I didn't realize that these things are so learned. I never really thought about them not being innate. I think this has been a great calling for me at this stage in my life. I really enjoy it. I have learned so much about myself and even more about my kids, Spencer in particular. Sorry, I'm babbling...So after dinner the scouts did a skit about sitting on an invisible bench and then falling down, it was funny and they loved being the root of the laughs. We played a game and finished with s'mores. It was such fun. All the kids played so well and the adults were able to chat and visit and get to know each other. I think everyone really enjoyed it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Our First Harvest

Success!!! We have actually eaten food out of our garden. The cherry tomatoes were the first things ready. They are so yummy. They are an orange variety and I am the only one that likes them so lucky me. The boys bring me between 2 and 6 each day. Spencer picked our first zucchini two weeks ago. We tried it breaded and fried. I think everyone but Desirae and Gary liked it. We have made 8 loaves of bread which everyone likes. When we planted I thought we had 1 zucchini and two pumpkins but as they grew I realized we have 3 zucchini and no pumpkins so if anyone has a great zucchini recipe I would really appreciate it. There are dozens of tomatoes coming on. Hopefully nothing weird happens in the weather and we'll be eating them soon. Spencer is the most excited for the watermelon. I am still a little worried about them. The first few were either prairie dog food and/or got picked by Desi and Andrew. But, there are about five established little guys on the vines now and lots of flowers. I think it is safe to say that our garden is a success. I am really looking forward to making a few more boxes to plant in next season. I guess Mom and Walt will have to come back for another visit so I can get some help building them. ;D

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Our Ward Campout

Needless to say, we had a great time. It didn't rain at all Friday morning as I was loading the truck so my spirits were high. By the time we got all packed up and on our way we could see the dark clouds and yuck in the distance over the mountains we were headed for. It rained and sprinkled and rained and sprinkled all the way up. We got to the camp-site around 2:00. Brother Olsen informed us that they had a pretty good down pour a bit earlier so we hopefully caught the "break". We started setting up immediately hoping to "beat the rain". We succeeded. It just trickled and sprinkled a bit while we set up. The kids played in the empty tent for a while and that was nice while we got everything else pulled together. By the time we were done there were blue skies and it was too warm for the jackets. Yeah!!! It was such a nice camp spot. It was in a bit of a valley with the dirt road along one side and a fairly nice flat grassy area along the other side. Most of the families had their tents or trailers over on the grassy side. It was great because the kids just climbed and explored and got sooooo super muddy all over that hill. There were a couple awnings set up to make the food but by the time we needed to cook it was nice and sunny. The food was fabulous and the company was better. We had a little fireside activity with singing and s'mores. Oh, and as a side note, I did win first place in the dutch oven cook off. I fixed stuffed pork roast. (Thanks for the recipe Kat) I also fixed potatoes and pineapple upside down cake. They were all so yummy. I want to try the cake in the oven at home and see if it turns out the same because it is soooo good. So the weather stayed great until about 10:00 that night. It rained a bit but not enough to make it an issue while we slept. The bishopric fixed a great breakfast of french toast, bacon, ham, eggs and juice.

Then we all went on a "hike" to a cave. I say "hike" because I would call it something more like an endurance test. The trail down was a 4-wheeler trail so there was no vegetation, just mud. The mud was thick and sticky. It added an extra couple pounds to each foot as you walked. They say it was a 1/2 mile down but I think it was longer. We got to a resting place that was kind of on top of the mouth of the cave so we still couldn't see it. We then had to hold on to some ropes and very slowly shimmy down the side of the mountain to get to the opening. It was hard work and kind of scary with the four little kids. Desi was in the back pack so I was worried she would throw off Gary's balance and he was also trying to hold onto Benji. I had a hold of Andrew and he kept slipping because of all the mud stuck up in the traction of his shoes. We finally made it and it was worth the climb. It was huge, with a deep, deep mouth. Bro. White said it went back 15 or so miles but it wasn't safe to go more than the first 300 feet. There were "showers" falling and dripping from the ceiling and the floor was just covered with rocks. Most all of the kids had flashlights and the ward gave them glow-sticks. It was really neat. Then we had to climb back out. Gary asked me, "Do you want Desi in the pack or to carry Andrew?" I thought, "I just pushed and pulled Andrew out of the cave, I don't want to have to carry him all the way back up the mountain to the car." "I'll take Desi." hehehe I was so wrong. We strapped Desi on my back and off I went. I only lasted maybe five minutes and I thought I would either pass out or my legs would fall off. You know that feeling when your legs start to get wobbly and your not sure you can stand anymore? I called to Gary and said, "I'm done." Just then Brother White came from behind me and offered to take her. I definitely wasn't going to argue. So I strapped her on him and off he went. Gary carried Andrew on his shoulder all the way out so I don't know what we would have done without the help. We finally made it out and headed back to camp. We packed up and came home to just sit and rest from an exhausting but way fun little trip. All my worry and frustration about the weather was for not. It was great!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"Rain, Rain, Go Away"

This is my first "vent" post. It has been raining cats and dogs on and off throughout the day. Normally I would be all for it. Rain in August? I love it...the smells, the humidity in the air, the puddles to splash in, the thunder and lighting. What's not to love? But man, it is bad timing for us. We love to camp. We tent it, as in no camper. Our ward camp-out is this weekend and we have been looking forward to it for weeks. They have planned a dutch-oven cook off and I love to dutch oven. I don't think the coals will stay hot if they are being rained on. We just watched the news and it said that the Uintah and Flaming Gorge areas will be hit hard for the next 24 hours. Well isn't that lovely. We will be camping in the Uintah's near Flaming Gorge. I have been packing most of the day, clothes, food, camping supplies and now I need to go to the store to get everyone rain coats. Maybe I'll pick up galoshes too. I bet we'll need them. I originally packed four sets of clothes for everyone, two shorts and two pants...Do you think I need more? I am a compulsive over packer so I'm not sure if I am just blowing it out of proportion or not. I just hate not having everything I "might" need. Oh well, The kids, I'm sure, will have fun regardless. They won't even notice their nutso Mom trying to keep the mud from getting in the tent and sleeping bags. If worse comes to worse I guess we could use the tent as storage space and sleep in the back of the truck. Wish us luck...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Bonham's in Vernal

Yesterday morning (Sunday) I got a phone call from Aaron. He said, "Friday was my last day of work and Colette wants to go on a trip. Would it be all right if we stay at your house tonight?" Well duh, of course it would be more than all right, We would love to have you. So The Bonham Clan showed up a little after 11:00 Sunday night. We visited a little and showed them around the house and finally got everyone to bed around midnight. This morning we had bacon and Belgium waffles for breakfast and got everyone dressed and let the kids play for a while before I had to take kids to swimming lessons. When we got back home Bonham's were all packed up so we loaded the kids in the cars and went to the dinosaur museum. That is always alot of fun. The kids ooohed and aahed at all the bones and rocks and fun stuff to see and do. My favorite is always the walk around outside where they have life-sized replicas of a bunch of dinosaurs. It's neat to get a better idea of just how big these creatures really were. From there we parted ways. Bonhams are going river rafting and camping and we are all so jealous. Have fun guys and try to stop again on your way back home. It was great to see you all but definitely not a long enough visit.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Desirae the Dancer

I got some new hip scarves in the mail today. I, of course, had to try them on as soon as I opened them up. Well, Desirae was there with me and her being the girl she is and wanting anything sparkly or jingly just had to have one. I was a little reluctant because they are a bit fragile and could break easily. But I gave in and tied her up in one. She was so excited. She just loved the noise the coins made. She jumped and wiggled and spun and twisted all over the kitchen. When I tried to take it off she threw quite the tantrum. She has been sick and grumpy all day so I gave in instead of giving her another reason to cry. I just hope I can get it off of her before bed tonight or, better yet, before Gary gets home. He has asked me not to teach her any belly dancing. Does encouraging her to jump and dance with the scarf on constitute "teaching" at her age? Well, what he doesn't know wont hurt him...right???