Friday, July 31, 2009

We're Off!

We drove down to Los Angeles Saturday morning to attend our Stake Temple Day. Kristen and Ellen and co. went too, so Christopher and Jonathan were able to watch all the kids at the temple apartments. It was wonderful to be together with everyone in the temple, and we had to laugh as we remembered that time when mom accidentally flushed her locker key down the toilet before changing and worried the bus would leave without her.

Then we stayed in the temple apartments that night (after eating at Cheesecake Factory for dinner - yum!). The next morning we walked around the temple grounds and attended church at the chapel across the parking lot.

I never realize how fat my face has gotten during pregnancy until I see pictures of myself. Yikes.
Then we packed up and drove about 2 hours down to San Diego. We stayed at an amazing hotel called Estancia La Jolla Hotel And Spa that we got super cheap through Priceline. I like to stay in nice places but I don't like to spend a lot of money. It's a bit of a gamble to name your price and see what you get, and I was disappointed that we didn't get the same place as last time with the amazing view of Sea World and the harbor; but I ended up LOVING this hotel. The decor was gorgeous, the pool was amazing, and it was close to great beaches. I was a little worried that people would be snotty (I read reviews that it was not a kid-friendly hotel), but everyone there was SO nice to us. I find that people are simply amazed that we have four boys and just have to ask if we know the gender of our next one. Of course it helps that we have such cute, well-behaved boys - most of the time. We certainly attract a lot of attention wherever we go, and thankfully it was all positive attention.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cousins are a nice distraction

Tyler, Spencer, Rachel, Samuel, Dallin
Brennan, Elisa, Benjamin

We just got back from San Diego. But before I get into that, I want to talk about last week. Now normally I am a stressed mess before a big trip. I don't know what my problem is, but there are always a million details to think about, with daily assignments to do. I hate details and assignments. But last week my sister Maryruth and her family came to visit from Idaho, and I barely had time to think about our trip.

We went to the beach, the pool and the children's museum while they were here. Here's Samuel, their oldest. What a happy, social little boy. Benjamin, almost 4, didn't want me to take his picture, so I didn't get any of just him.
Elisa, who just turned 2, and Brennan became instant friends. It was so cute to watch them play together.

Two-month old Rachel - the one who was just 2 weeks old at the family reunion. She sure made us all excited for our little baby to get here.

Kristen and Ellen and their kids joined us on all our outings. It was really fun having 4 of the 6 sisters together. We were also super grateful to my computer saavy brother-in-law Dominic, who added RAM to our computer and did all kinds of things to clean it up and make it faster. He also hooked up our wireless internet router, which someone had given us but we'd never been able to make work. We need him to come here more often.

Luke, Anna and Brennan at the Children's Museum.
Cousins are just so much fun.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday, Chef Dallin!!

For Dallin's birthday we invited the family (26 people were in town this week) to our Italian restaurant. As you know Dallin is a chef and wants to own a restaurant when he grows up. He doesn't understand why I haven't already put a huge "Dallin's Restaurant" sign on top of our roof. I told him I just want to cook for him - I don't want to cook for strangers. But he plans to convert our house into his restaurant when he grows up. Anyway, we played Italian opera background music, put up white lights, and set up a couple tables in the living room with floating candle centerpieces. We ate spaghetti and meatballs, salad and bread. Of course Dallin was the chef, and the other boys dressed up and served. Spencer insisted on doing it one-handed, making everyone nervous.

This cake may look familiar - he had the same one last year. He liked it so much he wanted it again. And I love that it's completely decorated with candy - totally easy.

He got a scooter, water guns, cupcake-making kit and sprinkles, Transformer, Batman watch,
and Spiderman backpack. Now he's all set for Kindergarten.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What we've been up to

The days have been super hot (over 100), but the evenings always cool off nicely. We like to go on family walks/bike rides around the neighborhood after dinner.
Spencer got the idea for this cool bubble thing from Family Fun. He cut the bottom off of a water bottle, attached a washcloth over the cut end with a rubber band, dipped it in a mixture of dish detergent and water, and blew out through the top. I love it when he finds a project he can do completely on his own that doesn't make too much mess.

Last week we went with Kristen's kids to this fun park. We've driven past it many times, but I always thought it looked boring because it's just a bunch of statues to climb on. Well the kids loved it. They imagined they were dinosaurs hatching from the eggs and eating all the sea animals.
Then Ellen's husband Jason (who grew up around here and knows all the fun places to explore) took us to some cool caves by the beach. There were tons of them, and we had to go at low tide so we wouldn't get stranded.

Dallin climbing on the outside of a cave.

Anna and Brennan at the entrance of one of the caves.

Last Saturday Dave and a friend took the big boys rock climbing. They LOVED it, of course.

They are constantly climbing anyway, so I guess they might as well do it in a safe, controlled environment. They did, however, get covered with mosquito bites while hiking to and from the rock. Poor Tyler had one on his eyelid and couldn't open his eye for a couple days.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another Beach Blog

I'm sorry I keep posting beach blogs, but it's one of my favorite places to take pictures. Plus maybe it'll make someone else in my family want to move here. Hey, it's worth a try.

Saturday morning Dave put together our new bedroom end tables (love them!) while the boys and I continued to clean bedrooms and organize closets. I'm always so motivated to organize when I'm pregnant. I don't know if it's nesting or the fact that messes drive me more crazy than usual.

Then we loaded up the car and headed over to the beach. It was the most perfect day there! And Tyler is one of the most photogenic people I know. Have you noticed I take a ton of close-ups of his face? I just can't help myself.
And of course Spencer had to dig a big hole to lie in. We bring the big shovel now - no messing around with little plastic sand shovels.

Dave putting together our new trick kite. Unfortunately there wasn't enough wind to keep it in the air. But the lack of wind meant I was totally comfortable, relaxing in my chair in the shade of the beach umbrella. Dave pulling Dallin around on the boogie board.

There was a lady near us with a baby about 6 months old who cried on and off the whole time. Babies don't like the beach - all that sun, wind and sand. It made me realize that our kids are all great ages for the beach right now. They all entertain themselves and don't cry when they get wet and cold or when sand gets in their eyes. Of course that will change in a few months, so we are taking advantage of this while we can. Then we drove down the coast a few miles for fish and chips at the bay. By the way, I learned a cool silhouette trick from Pioneer Woman. The camera reads the light at the center so that the subject, which is usually in the center, has the correct exposure to be seen clearly. When I did that, it totally washed out the big rock and boat in the background. But you can trick the camera by first focusing on the brightest spot in the sky and holding the button halfway down while moving your camera to the right position; then you push the button down the rest of the way to take the picture. This makes the subjects dark while keeping the background visible. I thought it gave this picture a cool effect. Plus this way you don't have to see mouths full of food. We're working on that whole eating with your mouth closed thing, but we're not there yet.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summertime Routine

My friend Michelle once told me it always took her kids 2 weeks of crankiness at the beginning of summer to get used to being together again. I have to agree with her, because the last 2 weeks have gone much better than the 1st two. We've gotten a good schedule going, and everyone has responded well to it. Plus I'm happier because our house is cleaner and our days feel more productive.
We start our day with morning chores. In past summers I've had a set chore schedule for each day (for example bathrooms on Monday, windows on Tuesday, vacuuming on Wednesday, etc.). But this year I've just looked around each day and seen what needs to be done the most or what is bugging me most and start assigning.
When something is part of the daily routine, they just accept it and generally don't complain. For some funny reason, cleaning toilets is the job they all want the most.
After chores the boys alternate between piano practice and school. I found an awesome website called that I use to print out worksheets. Mostly we've been doing math. I got all excited when I found an algebra section for Spencer and found out he hasn't learned it at school yet. So I taught him the basics, and it was so much fun. He thought I was pretty funny - he had no idea I was so into math. And algebra is one of my favorites.

After school and piano they play outside before it gets too hot. Then they can play a video game or watch a movie. I've also been reading big books to them, which is one of my favorite summertime memories growing up. So far we've read The BFG, and we're halfway through Ender's Game. Does anyone have any other good recommendations for their age? Some days Dallin and Brennan play in the hose while we sit in the shade and read. Then we go to swimming lessons, and occasionally we'll stop and play at the Children's Museum on the way there.
Of course I have to be flexible with the schedule. For a couple days it was supposed to get over 100, so we went to the park first thing in the morning before it got too hot. And the other day I was just too tired to do anything, so the kids got away with all kinds of things. Like playing video games without doing chores or piano and snacking all day. I was just too tired to care. But the day definitely runs smoother when I'm on top of things and stick to the schedule. And most importantly there has been a huge decrease in fighting and irritability, so it's totally worth the effort on my part.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy 4th

Last week for family home evening we read some scriptures in the Book of Mormon about Christopher Columbus and the birth of our nation.

"I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land." 1 Nephi 13:12

"There shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring." 2 Nephi 1:6-7

"And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them. And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.." 1 Nephi 13:17-18

I have always loved those scriptures, but as we read them to our children, I was struck by the sacrifice our ancestors made as they left everything behind to come to this promised land to worship God. I know they were brought here by the hand of the Lord, and I am so blessed to live here so I can raise my children in religious freedom.

Afterwards we made our fireworks crowns, which are always a big hit.

We had a relaxing 4th of July. Dave took the boys to the school in the morning to fly Spencer's Airhogs remote control airplane he bought with his birthday money. Then Ellen and Jason and Anna came over for a BBQ - grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, watermelon, corn on the cob and scotcheroos. It was funny - as were waiting for the fireworks, Jason mentioned that he was way full from eating too many scotcheroos. I told him we brought Oreos, which he immediately wanted.
We also tried out Dave's birthday present.

Anna is pretty much Brennan's favorite person in the world right now. They sat in front of us in church today, and he kept pointing to her and saying, "Anna! See mom? Anna!"

I love this picture.
After dinner we headed over to the park for fireworks. It was windy and cold, so they played soccer to stay warm.As you can see I finally got around to haircuts this week. Spencer and Tyler requested summer buzzes.
But I couldn't cut Brennan's hair too short because he has a funny-shaped head that looks better when covered up with hair. By the way, I love Photoshop. Have I mentioned?

The fireworks display was awesome, as always. I had fun using my camera's "fireworks" setting. And no one got scared this year. We thought Brennan or Anna might, but they were just mesmerized. Brennan said, "Boom! Boom! Lights!" Yep, that pretty much sums it up.