Monday, August 25, 2008

Remembering and Recording

These kids are growing up so fast and life gets so busy and I feel like I plow right past great moments and funny, cute things kids say or do way too often in the midst of carpooling and getting dinner and getting kids to bed. So I'm trying to capture more of the great stuff the kids come up with - anyone got great ideas for doing this? My mind gets so cluttered up with logistics and worries and the basic processes of doing the daily stuff that I find I can remember that someone did or said something really funny that day - but I can't remember the specifics. I can't record it when it happens that often - but I guess I could try harder to do that when possible... Anyway, as an attempt to do better with this capturing of moments, here are a few things I remember from this last week:
  • Silas was looking for Ashton the other day, walking around the house calling "Ashton! Ashton!" When that didn't work, he tried "Ashton! Ashton Idaho!" Ashton thought that was hilarious and so did I. Guess he's heard us talking about Ashton, ID quite a bit this summer.
  • On the way back from the pool the other day, Oliver said "Mommy, what's going on with you? Why did you weave Ashton and Isaac?" So funny when the twins pick up on these little ways of saying different things. I explained that the boys were riding their bikes back from the pool and Ollie was much relieved. He's always concerned about anyone getting left anywhere - he's quite alarmed when I leave Jared at church for a meeting or if Jared leaves me at church for the same reason. And he's very concerned about being left when we go somewhere. He's inevitably the last kid in the house getting his shoes on and he always calls out to me quite urgently, "Mommy, don't weave me!" I assure him I'd never leave him and he hurries as fast as he can. I don't think I've ever accidentally left him - or anyone else for that matter - not sure why he's so worried about it!
  • After capping off a big day of hiking with the Greenshow in Cedar City, we ate a late dinner at Bajio. As we were finishing up our food, Liza looked out the window and was surprised by how dark it was. "Wow, Mommy, it's dark now and when we came in here, it was pitch light!"
  • Ashton tells me a dumb joke every chance he gets. His current favorite: "What's the coldest animal? Mice - because if you take off the M they're ice." Great one, huh?
  • I had an amazing moment with Isaac the other night. After having him read me a few pages in his reading book as usual, he actually BEGGED to read another page - then another - then another. Something somehow has clicked with this boy and he's really taken off on reading!
  • Jared got called to be Ashton's Cub Scout Den Leader and I loved seeing the cute smile on Ashton's face when he found out.
  • Isaac totally notices nature - he's always pointing out something really cool that I wouldn't have noticed without his help - different shapes of leaves, beautiful flowers (he always picks me one to put behind my ear - what a sweetheart!). And he's SO into babies - human babies, baby animals, baby lizards (he caught one the other day and is so into it), baby mice (we saw one on our hike the other day and Isaac kept raving about how cute it was). He's got a serious following of babies at church who get so excited to see him since he always notices them and is so sweet to them. Elsie freaks out with glee whenever she sees him and runs up and jumps into his arms.
  • Ollie and Si always have so much to tell me about preschool each time. It's so fun to hear the details they choose to share. They're always telling me what their teacher Ms Bowen said and singing me the song they sang and telling me the story they read - and correcting each other when someone gets anything wrong.
  • We've been learning the first verse of a hymn that goes with our FHE lesson for the week - and with something the kids need to work on. If they can pass off the hymn perfectly at the end of the week, they get a point. Ana and Olivia have been learning the songs too since we sing them as I drive the carpool to school most mornings! It's been a fun way to start and end our days with uplifting songs and the kids are learning a bit about music and the gospel. Anyway, last week's song was "Put your Shoulder to the Wheel" (we had some serious shirkers around here so we really needed that one - and they really got into singing it while doing their jobs) and when Isaac was passing it off, he had us all laughing pretty hard when he sang "Put your elbow to the wheel" instead of shoulder - Ashton did a great rendition of what it would look like to try to push something along with your elbow and everyone was laughing. Then when Eliza was passing it off, she sang "we all have work, let no one jerk" (instead of shirk) and that set everyone off trying to push something along with their elbows while jerking around. Then Ashton sang his version with "we all have work, don't be a jerk, put your shoulder to the wheel." It's so fun to see what is so darn funny to these kids.
  • Current conversation between Ollie and Si (writting this as it's happening). Ollie's sitting at the kids' computer and Si comes in. Si: Honey, it's time for you to go - the clock says. it's time for you to go with me and do a trick because it's a rainy day and then I'll feel better, OK? Get your hat on, OK? Ollie: OK, I'll get my sheriff hat on and go riding horses (puts on his cowboy hat and vest). Now look on the map - it says go on this left and go on the other sign then turn around and then we gonna go to that one - let's go, brudder (brother). Si: Now I want to go to number five da, da, da, da, tada! It's time for me to weave. Now lets go this way to da da da! Ollie: No, let's go this way - I can't belive it's right here! Si: Yeah! And I'm the king now! Ollie: Oh, yeah. Si: Now brudder, don't go. Brodder, I need the map! I'm right here and I need you! Ollie: meow! meow! I'm a kitty and I'm a dead kitty - you be the daddy to wake me up, OK? Si: You're just sleeping meow meow. I'll wake you up. Think the twins are ready to write their first screenplay? The transitions are a little jerky but there's some good raw stuff in there, huh?
That's all that comes to mind right now. Maybe isn't as funny or meaningful in the telling as it was in the experiencing - but hey, I've got to capture what I can - and I'll get better at remembering the best stuff.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Holly's Visit and Zion Park

Last weekend my dear friend from Wellesley, Holly Hamilton Bleakley, was here with her husband and 5 kids. They live in England (Tim's in the Royal Air Force - he's British - and Holly's still doing some research at Cambridge University where she did her PhD) so I haven't seen them since right after their 3rd child was born and Jared and I were in England for a visit. So we had a lot to catch up on! We spent a fun day in Zion enjoying the scenery and spashing around in the river and then had a nice evening down at the pool. I loved talking with Holly and remembering all the great times we've had together over the years. I wish we'd had even more time - her perspective on things is always so interesting to me and I never tire of talking with her. The kids all really enjoyed each other. It's so fun to get to know good friends' children and such a nice bonus when they get along well with our children. It's so interesting to see a friend's different traits reflected in their children - in how they look, how they act. Holly and Tim have some great kids and my kids were SO sad that they couldn't stay longer. Our kids can now speak with British accents quite authentically when they feel like it (which was quite a bit this last week). I have to say, there's nothing as cute as a child talking with a British accent.
The second week of school went well for the most part - only one call from Ashton's teacher and one from Isaac's! What's up with the boys this year and their behavior!? Isaac apparently thought the bell rang at the end of this assembly they were having and decided to grab his backpack and go out to wait for the carpool - meanwhile his teacher was paging him and totally worried about him. They finally found him out front - he didn't seem to notice that no one else was out there so school quite obviously hadn't let out yet! Odd - but hopefully not something that would ever happen again! Then Ashton's teacher called to say that after being Mr. Smart Awesome Kid the first week, he had a really bad day and wouldn't do the writing assigment he was supposed to do and was complaining that he couldn't hear anything she was telling him to do. He doesn't love writing - but he's never openly defied a teacher or come up with an odd excuse like not being able to hear. His teacher called because she naturally wanted to know if he did indeed have hearing problems. Luckily that excuse was promptly blown out of the water by the fact that there happened to be hearing tests the next day at school and Ashton's ears are functioning just great. So I had some serious talks with the boys and the last few days of the week went great. Random stuff - but all's well that ends well.

Eliza LOVES school and is full of information about what she did after school each day. I volunteered in her class on Thursday and she was so cute and eager and it was fun to see her making new friends and happily doing all her assignments. The twins LOVE preschool and are so excited to present me with a little green strip of paper when I pick them up each time - the green paper means they had no behavior problems that day.

We've got parent teacher conferences this week so it will be good to get to know all the kids' teachers a bit better and learn more about the curriculum for the year. I got Isaac some new reading workbooks and that seems to be helping a lot plus he's reading a fun mystery book at his level called "Nate the Great" and for the first time in his life, he's pretty excited about reading something so he can see what happens next.

We started Joy School last week with the twins and I think we've got a great group - great moms, very cute kids, 3 boys and 2 girls. We're just doing it on Wednesdays so it's nice and easy. So the twins have something to look forward to three mornings a week which is great. I'm trying to get a pool day/park day set up as well for all the nursery kids in the ward and their moms as well - we all do better around here when we get out and about most every day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The First Day of School

Last Tuesday we dropped off all five kids at school. WOW! ALL FIVE! They were all so cute and excited. Ashton, Isaac and Eliza are all at Dixie Downs Elementary where they are part of a dual immersion Spanish/English program and Oliver and Silas are at "Busy Bees Preschool" - this cute 2-morning-a-week preschool I found right near the big kids' school. After getting the kids happily settled in their classes, I walked out of there feeling like a new woman. For the first time in 8 1/2 years I'm going to have two mornings a week with no little kids! I'm so excited to go the grocery store and run errands one morning all by myself and spend the other morning volunteering in the kids' classrooms at the school without having to beg any babysitting favors. Life is good!

That first day of school totally wore me out, though. Here's how it went:
  • 6:30 - got up and worked out, showered and got ready (my new resolution is to work out in the mornings - I've tried to make it work to exercise at other times of day but I've finally come to term with getting up early and getting ready for the day early and getting it done - this is a BIG thing for me to actually do it and so far so good!)
  • 7:45 - scriptures (Jared reads to big kids while I keep the twins quiet with eating their breakfast nearby so I can hear too)
  • 8:00 - breakfast and making sack lunches for school kids, dishes, getting hair done, etc.
  • 8:40 - leave for school
  • 8:50 - drop off big kids
  • 9:00 - drop off twins
  • 9:15 - back to the school to talk with teachers and principal and make a banner for Back to School Night
  • 10:30 - help train parents to help with kindergarten recess
  • 11:00 - dash to grocery store for a couple necessities
  • 11:30 - pick up twins from preschool
  • 11:40 - help Eliza's teacher line up kids' in alphabetic order for lunch and help the kids learn the lunch routine (while trying to keep Ollie and Si from disturbing things too much), walk kids' to lunch room, help make sure all kids eat something somewhat healthy before excusing them to go to play (while trying to keep Ollie and Si sitting at the table eating the lunch I brought for them - they loved it!)
  • 12:15 - try to get the kindergarten scragglers to finish their lunch (some of them are SLOW and it's hard to get them to eat ANYTHING!)
  • 12:30 - supervise lunch recess (and try to keep Ollie and Si in sight and out of trouble), help a few crying kids who missed their moms, help solve the problem of a huge pack of kids all trying to get on the slide at the same time and find that Ollie and Si are helping cause the bottleneck
  • 12:50 - run to the UPS store to drop things off
  • 1:15 - pick up Eliza (kindergarten gets out early for the first couple weeks then she'll get out with the big kids)
  • 1:30 - go visit Jared at work so the twins and Liza can tell him all about their exciting first days, find out about a dance class for Liza from one of Jared's co-workers who teaches it
  • 2:30 - go to the auto parts store to find some stuff to glue the weather strip around the windshield back in (it's been flapping around forever), get the filthy car washed
  • 3:30 - pick up the big kids at school, get them snacks, hear all about their days
  • 4:30 - take Eliza to dance class, bring Ollie who won't let go of my leg, leave Ashton and Isaac with Si, get there and find out that the tap class just filled up, try to figure out another class (since Liza's been begging to do tap ever since I took her to a friend's recital last May), find a jazz class that's not full, sneak into the tap class to get Liza out for jazz, find out that the teacher thinks she can squeeze her into the tap class, have Eliza melt down because she doesn't have tap shoes like everyone else (I didn't want to buy them until I knew whether she was even taking tap!), have a nice lady offer her daughter's old tap shoes, go out in the parking lot where it's 110 degrees and try on tap shoes that don't end up fitting while Liza cries for no apparent reason and I try to be extra nice to the nice lady to make up for Liza - the shoes don't fit and Liza's even more sad. "I thought dance was going to be SO special and now I don't even have any shoes!!!" Have a big talk on the way home about being a lot more grateful and listening to what I explain and being more patient...
  • 6:00 - get home, make special first day of school dinner, get a phone call from Isaac's teacher saying he almost broke something in the classroom that day after she'd asked him not to touch it several times - Isaac can't leave things alone sometimes! The teacher also told me that Isaac had worked hard and done a lot of great stuff that day and it was good to establish a relationship with her and have a good talk with Isaac - he was really sorry and has been great ever since - just first day jitters mostly, I hope.
  • get a bunch of tired, tired kids in bed and then fall into bed myself!
The first day of school takes a lot out of everyone! But it was a great day and things are settling into a nice routine and all the little bugs are getting worked out and I love being involved in the kids' school and seeing them in action there and knowing their teachers as much as possible and helping their little friends get as much out of school as possible. And being out and about with taking the kids different places helps me get more errands done since I"m already in the car. It's all good.
The twins were so totally excited to get into their new class that it was all I could do to coax a kiss and a "goodbye" out of them. They were not about to look away from their playdough for this picture. When I went to pick them up on their first day it was the cutest thing to see them running towards my car in tandem, shoulder to shoulder, yelling "Mommy!" with huge smiles on their faces and cute hats they'd made in craft time on their heads. They tried their best to tell me all about their day. I think it's going to be so great for them to have their own special thing they do independent of me or the other kids. I'm also doing a one-morning-a-week Joy School with the twins and some of their cute little friends - so that will be fun as well.

Eliza has been counting down the days until she starts school for years so she was pleased as punch to really go. Her homeroom teacher is her Spanish teacher and she was so excited that she already knew the colors in Spanish and a few other Spanish words thanks to her preschool that incorporated some Spanish. Liza's definitely getting the multicultural experience we wanted for her - I peeked into her classroom on the first day and saw that she and one other little girl are the only kids without black hair in her class - she sure stands out with that white hair! She told me her teacher speaks kind of different when she speaks in English and I told her that's because her teacher is from another country and English is not the language she grew up speaking. She asked me which country her teacher was from and I said I wasn't sure. She said "Well, I'm not sure either, but I'm pretty sure it's a country that speaks Spanish." Right on, Liza!

Isaac was so excited to see all his friends again. It was great to see other little kids light up when they saw Isaac come towards them. His teachers seem good and I think this will be a good year for him. We've been working so hard on his reading and while he still struggles, he's getting it more and more.

Ashton's teacher bonded with him right away when she heard that he's doing the rope swing at Bloomington Lake - she was just there last summer as well. Both of his teachers seem great and he's really excited the the whole 3rd grade is in the outdoor portable classrooms this year. The portables seem awfully grown up and exciting.

On another note, Ashton just saw that I was doing my blog and informed me that he's started his own blog and it's called "Ideas, ideas, ideas" - he opened up and showed it to me. He said he's probably not really going to use his blog much for a while since he needs to learn to type first. I told him that probably makes sense. Then he asked "So are Google and Yahoo close to each other - like are they friends?" I explained they sort of both go after the same customers so they're competitors. He said, "Well, I think Google will win - I saw an article about it and I like Google best." This kid is pretty technologically savvy.

Oh, we've got some great kids! This is going to be a wonderful year.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ollie and Si at Bear Lake

We're home! Our month away was full of travel (Bear Lake, Salt Lake, Jackson Hole, Ashton, ID) and literally hundreds of people (extended family members galore - 40 plus with Jared's parents, siblings and their kids, 32 with mine not to mention dozens of our cousins and aunts and uncles and all the long-lost friends at high school reunions for both me and Jared). We really had a great time being in different places and reconnecting with so many loved ones. It's great to get away from the regular routine long enough that you really welcome it when it's time to get back into it. And it's great to be with so many other people for so long that your own family of seven hardly seems like a crowd anymore! I tell you, my five kids seem so quiet and easy after being with anywhere from 12 - 20 kids for most of the summer.

School starts next Tuesday so we've been busily getting backpacks and finding a few things to augment in the kids' hammered summer wardrobes and getting a month of dust cleaned out of the house and getting food back in the house and going through mail and returning phone calls and all that.

Anyway, here's a quick rundown of the main events and highlights of the last month - and if you want more and better pictures, click on Shawni or Saydi's blogs on the right:
  • Ashton, ID for the 4th of July (the kids got to ride in the little parade and we all loved the great small-town celebration they do there - watermellon eating contest, gunny sack races, all sorts of fun stuff) and Jared's high school reunion (with a graduating class of 40 or so, it was a really nice little reunion and so fun to meet his friends). The kids loved riding on tractors and playing with cousins and it was great to be with a few of Jared's siblings and his parents for a few days.
Four-wheeler rides are always a big hit at the Farm (with cousin Mason)
Checking out Grandpa's cows with cousins
Feeding the horses with cousins
Tractor rides with Cousin Mark - always a favorite!
  • SLC for my high school reunion (a much bigger event and so fun to catch up with everone - I didn't initially really want to go but a friend talked me into it and it really was good - everyone seemed so much the same in good ways and so much more mature in great ways).
With good high school friends - Jill, Toni and Laurel
  • Bear Lake for a couple weeks with my sisters and their kids (while Jared braved the heat and a lot of hard work in St George). Between us we had 12 kids, most of them under 8 so it was quite a houseful! We had good friends and cousins coming in and out for overnighters here and there and loved catching up with them and having different kids added to the mix. On our "normal" days (without extra visitors) my sisters and I did reading and crafts with the kids in the mornings then had a wonderful time relaxing and talking down on the beach each afternoon while the kids played. I loved being with my dear sisters - cooking great meals together, getting reaquainted with each other's kids, talking about kids and worries and joys and so many things, enjoying the amazing colors of the lake and the spectacular sunsets... There's nothing like being with my sisters!

Favorite thing with Grandfather - riding in the tractor scoop up and down, up and down
Other favorite thing with Grandfather - horse rides
  • Isaac's Birthday (july 19th) - Celebrated with almost all his Eyre cousins plus most of his Carver second cousins - cake, ice cream, lots of cute homemade cards from lots of cousins, good times riding around on the Carver's nice boat and just hanging out. Isaac's pretty easy to please!
  • My family reunion at Bear Lake - Jared and I were in charge of organizing meals and doing the agenda and the annual CD of everyone's favorite songs - quite an ordeal - glad it won't be our turn again for a long, long time! Great to be together.
  • My annual mom and sisters' get-away -we went to Jackson Hole with no kids and had a wonderful time talking and eating great food and hiking in Teton National Park! Click here for great photos and details - Shawni's entry on MFME. I need to get those photos from you, Shas!
  • My birthday - Jared and I rode our bikes around Bear Lake - something I've always wanted to do - 52 miles of gorgeous scenery and rolling hills - really a great ride. We had a yummy lunch at the 1/2 way mark in Garden City, good talks, raspberry shakes, good times. Finished off the day with a tasty birthday dinner and a "cookie cake." Great day. Good kick-off for my resolve to really get in good shape this year!
  • Jared's mom's family reunion in Ashton, Idaho - great to see or meet lots of Jared's cousins and aunts and uncles - good people, good times at the Loosli cabin, more jeep rides with Grandpa and great times with different cousins.
Ollie and Si having a great time at the Loosli Cabin in Ashton

We drove home all day on the 3rd of August and wow, no bed has ever felt as good as mine did that night! I was starting to feel a little crazy from sleep-deprivation by the end there thanks to all the late nights and early mornings and lots of middle-of-the-night interruptions from bugs and heat and kicking kids for bed partners and babies crying. I'm SO grateful my kids don't wake me up at night anymore and I have so much extra empathy now for my sister whose sweet little girl has serious problems with waking up and crying in the night and early in the morning. I'm also SO grateful to have kids at such great ages right now. They were all so happy at Bear Lake - just exploring and playing with cousins with very little supervision or direction or care-giving required from me. The kids would all play in the sand and wonderfully warm, clear, shallow waters for hours on end each day. There's nothing like sand and water for little kids.
I actually had a chance to read a book and a half while at Bear Lake as well as have lots of great conversations with lots of great people. This is a whole new era for me and so far, I'm liking it fine!


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