Thursday, June 27, 2013

Art Festival

We had a fabulous time at our town's art festival last month. The boys are standing in front of one of their favorite paintings of the day.
This is the third or fourth year we've gone, and they have a lot of the same things every time. My boys love the "instrument petting zoo."  
They cleaned the mouthpieces between each person. I hope.

All the kid crafts are free, and there are concerts all day long.

 The downtown park gets all decked out.

 New this year (or at least we've never seen it before) were these live statues. Some kids kept touching them and trying to get them to move. I wanted to make them stop, but their parents were  right there, not doing anything about it.

Everyone's FAVORITE thing there is the giant sand castle with the Sand Guys. It's just so cool!

There's plenty of sand for the kids to play with too. They even had several separate sand boxes in the street.
 The stilt people are always entertaining. They were dancing to the music.

Chloe started to get fussy at this point, so we went to the candy shop to buy everyone a lollipop. That worked great!
 Everyone loved painting with the dirt paint.

They had little groups all dressed up and holding perfectly still - this, of course, is Cinderella. The art festival is probably my favorite event our town puts on.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Random end-of-the-year stuff

The end of school is always really exciting and hectic. There are big projects, parties, open houses, awards assemblies, concerts, plays, field trips and recitals. Levi and Luke enjoyed having "theme days" at preschool. They both attended Bearkittens at the high school, and their teachers are high school students. One of their teachers' big projects is putting on a fun day filled with tons of activities related to a particular theme. The preschoolers were encouraged to dress up for a few of them. Then they had a little preschool graduation; but Levi started feeling sick halfway through, so we had to leave early. They'll both be back next year, though. Levi started to like preschool way more when Luke started going with him. They are such good friends, and I'm so glad they have each other!

Dallin and his cousin Peter went on a field trip to the San Miguel Mission, and I went along to drive because they didn't have enough room on the bus for all the kids. The best thing about Dallin being in the 3rd/4th split class this year was that he got to hang out with Peter and Tyler so much.

I was glad Madelyn's mom, Nancy, went on the field trip too - we're good friends.

During some downtime after lunch, they practiced songs for their upcoming play about the gold rush.
 Are these cute gold miners, or what?

Dallin was hilarious in the play - no surprise there. He didn't have any speaking parts, but his teacher made him the lead music person/choreographer. He really got into all the songs!

Tyler graduated from 5th grade! They didn't have any kind of promotion ceremony, but they did have a big fun day with games and a BBQ, followed by a regular awards assembly. He got several awards - social studies, reading and honor roll. He also won first place in Battle of the Books for the school as well as the whole district! He sure had a great finish to elementary school.

Spencer went on a field trip to Hearst Castle with all the seventh graders, and he loved it. The last time he went there he was 3 years old, so of course he didn't remember it. Then he went to the skate park with all the kids from school who made the honor roll and read enough books.  I don't have any pictures, but he also had 2 band concerts and a piano recital.

Brennan had a little kindergarten graduation. They sang all the same songs his older brothers sang when they graduated from kindergarten. He was so excited about it and just knew I would love it!

As we finished up this school year, I was struck with how much my kids had overcome some huge challenges they had at the beginning of the year. Brennan really had a hard time adjusting to kindergarten, and he cried very easily at school. The change was almost imperceptible, but he ended up loving to go to school, enjoying his teachers and making lots of friends. He stopped crying at school and just had a lot more confidence. My other boys had some issues too, and it's very rewarding as a parent to see them grow out of something that feels, at the time, like it will never end.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tyler's invention: Corn paper

Every year the 5th graders have a big invention convention. They have to come up with an original invention and present it to judges, who award 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in each class. This year they wanted everyone to come up with something environmental. One night we had a brainstorming session about his invention. Tyler really wanted to make paper out of plastic bottles, but we couldn't figure out how to melt them down. Spencer had recently watched a documentary about all the many uses of corn, but what about the corn husks? We had just eaten corn for dinner, so we went out to the trash to retrieve all the husks. We soaked them in water overnight.

Then we boiled them all day. 

By this point, it was starting to look pretty mushy. We tried to mush it up even smaller in the blender, but the strings got all stuck in the blades and burned out the motor.  But that's okay, because it was already in really bad shape and leaked a ton.

So we put it in the juicer instead. We did it over and over again to get the pieces nice and small.

Then we got an old screen and put it over a metal pan of water. They spread it out into a thin layer.
We put a bunch of bricks over it to flatten it out.

This is the first attempt. The pieces were still too big and lumpy, so we tried again. We drained the mush and just used the tiny pieces that went through the strainer. That worked much better. 

He put it between two dish towels and ironed it to flatten it and get rid of some of the water. Then we put it under bricks until it was completely dry, about 1-2 days.

The results were AWESOME! It was very thin and pliable - like real paper! He won first place!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chloe, 15 months

Chloe is 15 months old! It's been a busy few months, but I have managed to take a few pictures. Check out that crazy morning hair!

She has discovered the flour bin - yum!

She learned to walk last month! She would never do it when we wanted her to, but I kept catching her walking when she thought no one was watching. Now she's an old pro. I'm glad, because she was wearing out the knees in all her pants.

Some cute things she's doing these days: shrugs her shoulders, pats my back, opens and closes her hand when she wants something, squeals with excitement whenever she sees a dog or bird, dances to music, snuggles with stuffed animals and blankets, reads books to herself, pretends to talk on the phone, and brushes her hair.

Last week we had our big family reunion. Chloe had a cold and got a bit overwhelmed by all the new faces, but mostly she just happily entertained herself wherever we went.

Every once in a while she'd let someone else hold her, but it didn't happen often.

 She especially liked all the sand and water.

It's cute to watch these two interact. Brian is three weeks older than Chloe, so they do a lot of the same things. He's a lot more mellow, though.

I took her to her 15 month check-up yesterday. She is 16 lb 12 oz and growing right along on her little growth curve.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fathers and Sons

A couple weekends ago was the annual fathers and sons campout. Consensus was that it was the best one yet. I know they say that every year, but this really was awesome. They had it with the whole stake (which consists of 8 wards, or congregations) at the Boy Scout camp at Lake Lopez. What they loved about it was that it was so organized. There was an actual schedule of events, and they had a blast.

Brennan had a cold, which really flared up his asthma. The campfire smoke made it even worse, so he had to stay in the tent for a little while.

There was a little program about the restoration of the priesthood that night, and then they all went back to their own campsites for more campfire fun. It was a late night.
This was Levi's first fathers and sons campout, and he LOVED it. I prepared him for it all week, and he assured me he would be good. And he was! Dave said he didn't cry the whole time.
After breakfast they had a bunch of activities planned.

Spencer's favorite was tomahawk throwing.

Archery is always a huge hit.

Brennan said, "I didn't know I was so good at archery, mom! I got right next to the bulls eye!"

They went on a hike, and Tyler and Brennan both got poison oak. It's just too hard for some people to stay out of it.
They stopped at Doc Bernstein's in Arroyo Grande for a huge ice cream sunday on the way home. They've wanted to go ever since Kristen's family went there over spring break, so that was fun for them. 
Meanwhile, Chloe and I enjoyed shopping and eating out Friday and Saturday. I always look forward to this campout, but it occurred to me that one day Chloe will feel left out when all her big brothers leave her behind. I'll have to make it really fun for us too.