Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cousins and s'mores

My brother Josh and his family visited this week, and we were able to get together with them every day while they were here. Saturday we went down to my parents' house for a BBQ, Sunday (Father's Day) everyone came to my house for ham, Monday we went to the bay for fish & chips, and Tuesday we went to my sister's house for soup and s'mores.
When I told my kids their cousins were leaving the next day, Tyler said, "We have to take pictures of them before they leave!" So we did.

Jonah (red shirt) and Ethan (black shirt), age 6. When I see them side-by-side, I can totally tell them apart. But when I see just one of them running around, it's tricky.

Elizabeth, 7, and Tyler.

Spencer and Tyler burned all their school papers in the fire - a tradition they learned from their other cousins. The problem was that it created a lot of ash, which wanted to stick to the marshmallows.

They're sure concentrating hard on those marshmallows.
Dallin loves those action shots. By the way, he was the first one to earn his self-manager badge, and Spencer was close behind.
Asher, age 4. What a photogenic, happy little guy.

It was sure a fun evening. It was hard to say good-bye, but at least we'll see them again when we go back East next month.
They left after the soccer game Wednesday morning - go USA!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Our self-manager summer program

The schools here have a self-manager program. If the kids earn 100 points (by doing things that show how responsible, kind, etc. they are), and get their teachers, peers and yard duty people to sign it, they are awarded a self-manager badge. It has their picture and name on it, and they get to have a bunch of special privileges. Like they get to go to the front of the line, walk more freely around the school and have a big pizza party with the principle. I think it's such a great reward program. Well a couple weeks ago, Dave had the idea of implementing our own self-manager program at home for the summer. If I tell my kids to do something, they're pretty good at doing it, but I get so tired of telling them to do the same things over and over! So I wrote up a list of ways they can earn points, and the whole idea is for them to do things on their own, without being reminded. Some things are mandatory, like brushing their teeth; so if they don't do it on their own, I will remind them and then they don't get a point. Other things are optional, like writing in their journal. If they earn 100 points by the end of each month, they get a whole list of extra privileges. I even made badges for them, laminated with their pictures and everything. If all the kids earn it by the end of the month, we'll go to a fun restaurant as a family. Then we'll start over with each new month. All of my kids are excited about it, but some are especially motivated and close to earning their badges. I hung the charts on the wall, and except for Brennan, they all mark their own points. If they do something not on the list that they think is worthy of a point, they ask me if I think they can get a point for it. Or sometimes I'll catch them doing something extra thoughtful, and I'll tell them to give themselves a point. So far it is working GREAT. My sister-in-law wanted my lists, so here they are:

Self-Manager Points for Spencer, Tyler & Dallin
1. Clean up breakfast
2. Brush teeth
3. Make bed
4. Get dressed by 9:00 a.m.
5. Daily chore done by 11:00 a.m.
6. Practice piano
7. Do 1 page of school work
8. Clean up lunch
9. Make drinks for dinner
10. Set table for dinner
11. Jammies on/teeth brushed by 8:00 p.m.
12. Go potty/last drink by 8:00 p.m.
13. Trash out Monday before dinner
14. Trash cans up Tuesday before dinner
15. Clean up toys/trash outside
16. Sit quietly for Family Home Evening
17. Work on cub scouts/Faith in God
18. Vacuum living room or dining room
19. Clean bathroom
20. Clean living room
21. Write in journal
22. Hang up towel after bath/shower
23. Research a topic and teach it to us
24. Clean bedroom

Brennan's list
1. Go potty
2. Wipe own bum
3. Get dressed
4. Put dirty clothes in hamper
5. Make own breakfast
6. Get own water/snacks
7. Be reverent during prayers
8. Sit quietly for FHE
9. Sit quietly for scriptures
10. Sit quietly at church
11. Put toys away
12. Put dishes in sink
13. Ask nicely for things
14. Put shoes away

Self-Manager Privileges
1. Choose the daily excursion (pick 5 days - pool/beach/children's museum/park/zoo/skate park/pioneer museum/play with a friend/etc.)
2. Stay up 1 extra hour at night (pick 5 nights)
3. Extra hour of video/computer games (pick 5 days)
4. Don't have to do daily chore (pick 5 days)
5. Choose extra book for mom to read to you at night (this is for Dallin and Brennan, who always want me to read more and more)
6. Make any dinner you choose with mom
7. Make any dessert you choose with mom

Sunday, June 13, 2010

End-of-the-year festivities

The last couple weeks of school are busy, what with field trips and ceremonies and parties and such. Dallin's kindergarten class took a field trip to the beach - how cool is that?!

First they played at the pirate park (I got there late and missed that part - it takes me forever to get out of the house these days).

Then they went to the little ocean center there. It's a really small place, but they got to touch a sea anemone and a swell shark.

Then they put on gloves and helped pick up trash on the beach. Someone marked off a section with cones, and the kids were running around practically fighting over who got to pick up each piece of trash. It was pretty funny.

Then his brave teacher had everyone take off their socks and shoes and play in the wet sand without getting in the water. See - here she is backing everyone away from the water. I was amazed no one got too wet. It's almost impossible for my kids to go to the beach and not get in the water.

But they had fun throwing rocks and clumps of sand into the water and running away from waves.

Brennan had a lot of fun helping, and Levi was happy in the baby carrier the whole time, so it all worked out. And I couldn't believe how warm it was! I thought it was such a great idea for a field trip, and I think more classes should go there.

Brennan was sad we missed playing at the park, so we stayed to play and eat our packed lunch.

The next day was their little kindergarten promotion, where they sang a bunch of songs and handed out certificates. It was tough getting a picture of Dallin because he kept turning around and making everyone around him laugh. I kept hearing, "Oh, Dallin!" giggle giggle.

Afterwards we all headed over to their playground for cookies and juice.

Here's his awesome teacher, Mrs. Berry. Unfortunately she doesn't know if she'll be back next year because of all the horrible budget problems. None of the teachers know if they'll be transferred.
Tyler with Mrs. Baker. Their last field trip was walking to the dragon park. He's become good friends with her son Jeb, so hopefully we'll see them over the summer.
Spencer and his absolute favorite teacher of all time, Mrs. Bedell. They just finished learning about the gold rush, so they had a field trip panning for gold in the Salinas River. Then they used the gold nuggets they found (painted rocks that their teachers planted there ahead of time) to buy lunch. He LOVED it. I wasn't able to go because it was the same day as Ben's wedding, and we were busy getting ready. It's so hard to believe that summer is here already. Didn't the school year just start? And wasn't Levi just born? The year has just flown by.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

♥ Ben & Barbara ♥

My youngest brother Ben got married this past Friday, and it was such an amazing weekend.

By Thursday night, 8 of the 9 siblings had arrived, so we all met at the park by my parents' house for dinner.

Except for the California contingency, no one had met Barbara yet; so this gave them a chance to get acquainted. Of course they all loved her, as Ben promised they would. Several couples traveled here without kids, so she didn't get to meet everyone. But at least all of my siblings and their spouses were able to come.
Afterwards we drove back up for more socializing (bachelor party at my house and bachelorette party at Kristen's house). And my mom wasn't around to tell us to go to bed, so we all stayed up way too late.
They had a very small wedding in Kristen's backyard - family only. But the "big show," as Ben called it, will be in August. As a costume designer, Barbara is designing her wedding dress, and her friend, who makes costumes for theater, is making it. I can't wait to see it.

They're such a perfect couple. Ben is 6'4", and Barbara is 6', so they're just right for kissing!

After the ceremony (which was nice and short), we moved over to the tables for a scrumptious catered meal. We were so busy getting everything else ready that it was sure nice not to have to worry about the food.

I love this picture!

I managed to get pictures of all my siblings. Here they are, from oldest to youngest: Uchenna and Jen, from Oklahoma. They were able to spend almost the whole week here, and we enjoyed having them over for dinner one night.

Nathan and Kristen - the hosts of the wedding

Aaron and Marrisse, from Utah - they were only there for a few hours because of work, but they were a huge help. Aaron did the sound system (of course), and Marrisse helped us decorate the arch.

Troy and Emily, from Utah. They came without kids - don't they look relaxed?

Me and Dave

Maryruth and Dominic - they drove here from Idaho and were all fighting colds. Poor Maryruth had no voice, so she just whispered loudly.

Megan and Josh, from Maryland - also came without kids, but they're coming back for a longer visit with their kids later this month.

Jason and Ellen - they live with Kristen and Nathan, so we get to see them lots. Their 2 year old daughter Anna is one of Brennan's favorite people in the world.
Ben (the last to get married) and Babs (an only child).
My 3 brothers.

Isn't Rachel the cutest?! I love her light wavy hair and big dark eyes. Adorable!!

While the newlyweds were in the house getting ready to go, we quickly decorated their car. They said they got a lot of honks and waves after they left.

It was a group effort - we had to work quickly.

Of course we had to attach cans to the back. We told them to put them on tight because there's a $1000 fine for littering in California.

We handed out cups of birdseed, which Brennan is still talking about: "Mom, remember when Ben and Barbara got married and we threw birdseed at them?!"

Making their mad dash through the birdseed.

And off they go!

After their big send-off, we continued the party late into the night - dancing under the pergola lights and taking "prom" pictures under the twinkle-lit arch. It was so hard to leave, not knowing when we'd see everyone again.

Half the family left the next day, but those of us still around went to dinner together Saturday night. My parents go to the same restaurant overlooking the ocean every year for their anniversary. It happened to be their anniversary last week, and they kindly let us join them. They reminded us that their 50th is in 7 years, and they "expect a party." I suggested we all go on a cruise to celebrate, and they agreed that sounded like a good idea.

It was such a great weekend. We're thrilled Barbara joined our family, and we're so happy Ben is married. Now Dallin keeps asking when they're going to have babies.