Sunday, June 08, 2008

Life is Good

Eliza's currently telling her doll stories about her life: "I guess you're big enough now to hear some stories about your family. When I was two, I went on a big airplane to Boston and when you get big, I'll take you there too. When I turned 8, it was time for my baptism and my mom was so happy and I hopped in the car and went to church and ALL of my best friends were there and my uncle. After it was done I went home and had SO much fun and then I went to sleep and then weh the sun started to rise, it was morning. Now I'm going to tell you about Bob - he's my cousin's dad - and this is Wendy and she's my aunt." (I looked over and it seems she's using a Bob the Builder story book as her family album.) Oh, this little girl of mine keeps me entertained. She takes such good care of all of her dolls - and of her little brothers two.

I'm loving this summer so much! Being a mom is really getting to be much more fun than stressful for me lately and I've so enjoyed really teaching and being with my kids now that school's out and I get to have the big kids around more. The big kids entertain the twins so well and everyone really enjoys each other quite a bit these days (yes, of course, there are still many incidents of kids bickering and bugging each other every day, but it's generally pretty fleeting). The summer workshops are going great. It takes quite a bit of energy to plan everything out and keep a bunch of kids totally involved, entertained and learning for 3 hours, 3 days a week - but it's energy well spent. What gets me as a mom is expending energy when it doesn't seem to be producing much of a benefit and I'm just sort of treading water to keep my head above the water rather than feeling like I'm moving myself or anyone else forward. I've loved the feeling of really moving forward as I've been able to teach kids and learn alongside them.

Here are my Little Chefs - should have photographed them in action, but I was too
busy trying to keep some semblance of order in the midst of so many small cooks!

Little Chefs (week before last) was a great success - the kids are so excited about cooking and nutrition now and it's fun to hear them repeat things they learned from the class ("Yeah, let's do a fruit smoothy because we've got to eat our 5 a day!" "Look, with all these different vegetables, there's a rainbow on my plate!" "I want to make breakfast! Can I PLEASE?"). Last week was Mad Scientists. Ashton helped me plan the curriculum and it was fun to have him as my special helper. We oohed and awed over lots of cool chemical reactions, tried building strong structures using various materials and principles of engineering, played around with electricity (thanks to Ashton's cool "Snap Circuits" set), learned about the scientific process and the importance of observation and thinking and guessing and testing... I had 5 boys plus Eliza (who was sort of in and out - she was a little young) and it was an ideal sized group. I've never been a big scientist - this workshop was definitely outside my comfort zone - I learned a lot and really had fun! This week I'm doing Fairy Tale Adventures with Eliza and Isaac as my special helpers and I'm excited to make up and act out wild stories with all these cute little kids as we all use our imaginations. This one's a little more up my alley. Then the final week will be Great Artists and I'm looking forward to sharing my love for art with my kids and their friends as we learn about artists and try our hand at different art mediums.

Here are my Mad Scientists doing some engineering
Did you know if you put an egg in vinegar for a couple days the shell gets all soft
and it looks like this? I sure used a lot of vinegar, baking soda, oil,
corn starch, and food coloring to create some pretty interesting stuff.We started swim lessons this week. I've got the same lady as last year coming to our community pool to do lessons so it's very convenient and there are just 3 kids in each class. Liza's really learning her strokes and the twins are really starting to swim. Silas made it all the way across the pool on his own when we practiced on Saturday! Ollie's a little more cautious but he can do it too. Ollie and Si are SO cute in their lessons. When the teacher tells them about the next thing they're doing, they call out in glee "Oh, Yeah!" and jump up and down. They're so excited and so eager to please. My favorite part of swim lessons so far was seeing Silas swimming underwater for his first few strokes with his bright blue eyes wide open and a big open-mouthed grin on his face, drinking in water like crazy but totally happy about it. The twins are getting to be more and more fun every day!

We've really been living at the pool this last week - swim lessons every afternoon, the first quarterly Miller Gordon Trucklines BBQ there on Monday night, a swim party for the ward on Tuesday morning (ongoing play-group thing)... We're so grateful for the pool! It's getting so that we can relax down there for hours and the kids are all safe and great at entertaining themselves. We did have a bad incident as we got to the pool on Tuesday morning - Ollie stepped on a big red fire ant and was crying inconsolably for about an hour and a half. Poor guy! He never really cries for more than a few seconds about things so this must have really been bad. He just wanted me to hold him and he kept shifting around, trying to get comfortable. Besides the physical pain, he was so offended and hurt that an ant would do such a thing to him! So Ollie and I didn't enjoy the Tuesday ward swim party quite as much as everyone else.

Last minute, Ashton, Isaac, Eliza and I decided to head down to Phoenix with Jared for a business meeting he had down there. He was renting a plane and had room for a few passengers and our babysitter Camille was already planning to come that day so she could watch the twins for most of the day. So how could we pass up a chance to go on a fun flight and spend a few hours with my sister and her kids and my brother Josh who all live there? It was a great flight down - right over the majesty of the Grand Canyon.

Jared did some fun climbs and dives to give us all some thrills (and a bit of an upset stomach for me - but it was worth it!). The kids LOVED being with their cousins and I loved talking with Shawni and Josh. We headed back that evening and were only about an hour and a half late getting home to my sweet friend who was watching the twins for the tail end of the day. Luckily she's still my friend! It was a great day and a great chance to do something special with just the big kids. And Jared was grinning from ear to ear - that guy can't get enough of flying! It's fun to hear him thowing around all the pilot lingo as he talks to air traffic control -47 Echo Romeo requesting permission to land... taxiing to position Yankee Hotel... Good stuff. He's such a great pilot.
Since the twins missed out on that flight and since I'd told Jared part of his Father's Day present was taking all the kids flying, we headed out to the airport again on Saturday morning and the kids traded off going on little joy rides with Jared. The twins had never been before so they were SO excited - and pretty darn cute with their headphones on. What a fun Dad these guys have!
Then we swam all afternoon and Silas was swimming all the way across the pool by himself by the end of the afternoon - Ollie was a little less enthusiastic but did some swimming on his own as well. Several of our good friends showed up at the pool and it was just an all-around great day. Jared topped it off by taking Ashton and Isaac to a football game - one of our good friends is playing for this new semi-pro football team they have here. The twins zonked out after so much excitement during the day and Eliza and I had fun making chocolate covered strawberries - yum!

If you're still reading, I'm impressed. Sorry this one's so long but I've fallen a bit behind and there's so much GOOD stuff to report - seemed like there was a pretty long stretch of hard and bad stuff for a while there so I feel like I'd better celebrate the good all I can! One last thing - the surprise get-away that Jared planned was WONDERFUL. We went up to Bryan's Head Resort and had a great time hiking and mountain biking and enjoying the beautiful cool weather up there. We stayed overnight at a great place and explored places we'd never been before - Navajo Lake, Bryan's Point Peak, Cedar Breaks National Monument (sort of a miniature Bryce Canyon - so majestic and wild and beautiful). We forgot our camera - so I guess you'll be spared any further photos. But it was a really, really wonderful weekend and Jared planned out each detail so well - couldn't have been better.

To top it all off, we've had a really beautiful spring so far - very little HOT weather so far - lots of 80's, some 90's, just perfect with a spectacular summer storm thrown in last Wednesday. I love storms in the desert - the smell, the dramatic scenes in the sky, the saturation of colors once the clouds roll in...

Life is good.


Sleepless In St. George said... continue to amaze me....the camps were wonderful...had no idea Jared was a pilot! Can't wait for artist camp!

shawni said...

I sure wish my kids could go to the camps. It was SO fun to see you guys here. Can't wait for July.

mom said...

WOW! It was so fun to see these pictures after hearing all about this from the kids! The fairy tale one looks stupendous! HOW did you come up with all these ideas??? You are truly amazing and I am proud to know you!
P.S. Congrats to Jared on keeping life exciting with that plane and with the fun get-away. What a guy!


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