Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fun With Matt and Misty

Although Elinor's face would suggest otherwise, we had one of our best family trips ever up to the Oregon coast last week.
The first leg of the trip was to stay for a couple of days with my brother Matt and his lovely wife, Misty who live across the river in Washington.
This picture was taken at the Camas Days parade where the kids got even more candy than they did at our parade at home.

Faith and Matt and Mosi (with a long o sound, and sh sound for the Moe-Shee).

M & M next took us to hike Beacon Rock. We made it to the top and although Elinor's face is once again less than enthusiastic-- it was a fantastic hike with a very rewarding view. I think she is giving the hike a thumbs down, but everyone else loved it.

Faith was riding first class.

Bethany was a speed demon.

Everyone is cuter when they smile.

Next up on our big day was swimming in the Columbia River. This is my favorite picture-- pure joy!

Thank you to Matt and Misty for having us to stay with you. You are so good to our children and made us so comfortable.

Friday, July 24, 2009

On the Road Again

Bagels for breakfast on the road. Everyone is happy at this stage of the trip. These four stayed pretty much happy for the whole trip.

Unlike this one. He is very flexible (note the leg position), but he does not care for long care rides. There was much screaming and gnashing of teeth and not a lot of sleeping.

There were moments of joy at the rest stop. Cannon was crawling all over me giving me kisses.

And it was all worth it for THIS!! Ice cream and visiting with Matt and Misty. Lucky us!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

It's traveling time. No, sorry-- I can't give details as to when, where, for how long, or any of that good stuff. It's for security reasons--public blog and all.
It is a very complicated process to prepare a family of seven--five of whom are ten and under-- for travel. I try to think of it in a positive way, but. . . no, nothing positive is coming to me. Oh wait! I do get ALL the laundry done and put away as the lead up to packing. So I guess that is good.

All the dishes have to be done, lest you get smelly rotting kitchen sink while you're gone.
Are you wondering why I am typing this post instead of getting things ready? Yeah, me too. Abe is wondering too, but he's trying not to comment.

It's also a good time to inventory my people's wardrobes. Sometimes I find someone is woefully lacking in essentials-- like underwear with no holes in them. But mostly I realize--GEEZ! We have A LOT of clothes and no one ever needs to buy anything new ever again!!!!

We (meaning Abe) gets the car cleaned out really well. I know some people who keep their cars very tidy. Even people with minivans if you can believe that. I'm not sure I can believe it. We do not keep our car very tidy. I think my own children are use to it and actually enjoy that they don't have to clean out the car very often, but we have had comments from neighbor children like, "Whoa, your car is really dirty". Hmm. I bet their moms keep their minivans clean. Good for them.

Oh, here's another thing I like about getting ready. As I pack in my bedroom I always put on some English period drama. Today it was "Wives and Daughters". If you haven't seen it-- you should. Then call me and we can talk about how much we love it.

Wow-- I'm really rambling here. Can you tell I don't really want to finish packing? "Finish" is too optimistic. Can you tell I don't want to continue packing?

My final parting thought comes straight from the mouth of Elinor.
"When you are going on a trip you don't need toys. You don't need to do your hair. You just need clothes. That's all you need. . . and money. . . and if you are going to Hawaii you need a ticket".
So wise. So simple. Why am I making things so complicated?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pace Setters

!WARNING!-- boring post to everyone but me.

I am a mother so I spend a great deal of my mental energy thinking about my people and trying to figure them out. What makes them tick? What motivates each one? What throws their little world out of orbit? How can I help them be all that they can be? Remember the Army phrase, "Be all you can be"?
Anyway, lately I've been thinking of them in regards to what pace they set in the family.
Yes, I like putting my children in categories. Isn't that what all the "experts" say you should do? Oh, yeah--the "experts" would love this.

Here's what I'm thinking right now.
Bethany sets the social pace. If someone is playing with a friend it is Bethany. She sets the pace of how soon friends can come over and how many kiddos are over at our house playing. She never wearies of socializing (even if it is with other home schooled kids-- yes, home schoolers can and do socialize). Elinor often follows Bethany's lead as they play with many of the same friends.

Clark sets the emotional pace of the day. "If mamma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" is only partially true in our house. I find Clark to be our emotional barometer and if he is cheerful and contented it is going to be an enjoyable day for all. If he's off kilter then we brace ourselves. By the way, Clark is happiest outdoors- preferably on a mountain.

Elinor sets the pace at which the tasks of the day are accomplished. Elinor tends to be our pokey little puppy. Sometimes I don't know if she could move slower if she tried. She doesn't do it to be naughty or get out of work. She just moves at a remarkably slow pace sometimes. She doesn't have any kind of disorder or anything. She is capable of moving her body quickly, she just chooses not to. Oh, maybe she's really into conservation and just wants to conserve energy. I can respect that. I'd love to look inside her brain and see what she is thinking about instead of whatever task she should be completing.
I'm not sure what pace Faith sets yet. Oh wait, she is a three year old girl who changes her clothing no less than four times a day. So I suppose she sets the laundry pace. I can't always tell what is clean and what is dirty, so I err on the side of cleanliness and I probably do much more laundry than is necessary. I should mention that it is not always my policy to err on the side of cleanliness when it comes to household chores.

Cannon sets the actual VOLUME pace of the family right now. All of my babies have been screamers (not screaming crying--just screaming because they like how it sounds). Cannon is no exception. He is a super high pitched squealer. We are use to it, but when he lets it rip in church I am reminded by the snickers and stares that it is actually painful to many peoples' ears.
This squealing "gift" (I choose to see it that way) does not go away as they age. All of the children can still screech something fierce. Even Clark. In fact, Clark is probably still the highest of them all. I digress. My point was that because Cannon is so loud the rest of us have to raise our voices to communicate. Not good.
I wanted to post a picture of Cannon's knees. He is almost 14 months and I think walking is still a little ways off but he crawls like a mad man. I hope you can tell from the picture how calloused his knees are. They are always dirty and try as I may I can't get them clean.
So I guess Cannon also sets the pace of how clean the floors need to be since he eats anything that will fit in his mouth.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


This is a crushing blow.
I finished reading "Vanity Fair" last night. All 685 pages. I really enjoyed the book. A couple of days ago we watched the first disc of this extremely well done A&E mini series version (think Pride and Predjudice). We had a book club this evening at the park to talk about the book. I was very much looking forward to finishing the movie tonight when I discovered this TRAGEDY!!!!!

Who is responsible for this???? Did it come like this from Netflix? Is our mailman mad at us? Did someone step on the disc. I don't know, but SOY TRISTE!! (and I'm trying to use my Spanish). I think I wrote I am sad.
I don't know if I can wait until Wednesday to get another copy of this. I am begging-- DOES ANYONE HAVE THIS MOVIE I CAN BORROW? I swear I will protect it.
We were missing a couple of ladies from the book-club, but here are A., B., and C.
A. is in the middle. She is quite the jet setter. She and her people are traveling as much as they are home and she has no fear. She spent Thanksgiving in Dubai. I'm sure someday she will take off in a really nice trailer and we won't see her for a year. She is an party planning GENIUS and the founder of our book club.
B. is me, Betsy. Let's move on.
C. is on the right. She isn't French, but she should be. She is THE CLASSIEST lady I know! She has impeccable taste and reminds us to take care of ourselves. She always has a new creative project going and has a kind word for everyone.
J. is not pictured, but I could write a book about all the things I admire in her. She is so well educated and she knows what she wants to do and does it. She is confident and organized and clutter runs scared of her.
It's not just the grown-up girls who benefit from book-club. These lucky little ladies have been playing together for about five years. The otter pops were plentiful tonight!

We try to train them up young to love books, but I think the print was a little small for him.

He squealed in delight. It must have been a good part.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Okay, I'm really sorry about this next one. I really couldn't help myself.

Does "Underwear Head" ever get old?
Nope. It's always funny!
It's hard not to laugh, huh?

Kids are Free Slaves

When I was a kid I actually told my parents, "I know why parents have kids--- FREE SLAVES!" The sad thing is, that on some level, I believed that to be true.
Here is my little slave. He was a trooper pulling this wagon to the park for our Primary Activity. It was roasting hot and this wagon was very heavy loaded with coolers of water balloons and otter pops.

And this didn't help much.

The activity went very well and I think everyone got wet and had fun (which was the point). We had about six hundred water balloons for use in two of the four different water games. It is no easy thing to guard that many water balloons from sixty kids!

Does it get any more fun than a water balloon launch? No, I don't think so.

Kennecott Copper Mine

Bets was out with her dear friend Rebecca, so I took the kids up to the Utah Kennecott Copper mine. I had a great time and I think the kids did too!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Baby Steps

Elinor is sporting the "new" roller blades Bethany and I found at a garage sale last night ($2--oh yeah!).
I was helping her along at first and she was a little nervous--we didn't want another broken arm. I told her to just take baby steps.
Then Elinor says, "baby steps... baby steps... baby steps to the elevator!"
She was quoting from the movie, "What About Bob?"
This girl is funny. Kind of random sometimes, but really funny.

That Darn Cat

This is Flash. Sometimes I call her "Flash-Pants". We love this cat.

This is Cannon. Sometimes I call him "Can-Man-Doo". We love this little guy.

Cannon exerted a lot of energy chasing Flash around the yard. He never quite caught her, but the little tease would let him get really close before she darted off.

Faith was a little quicker and she caught that darn cat!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"The Worst Plan EVER!"

I love my people. I do not want that to be in question as I share a little frustration with my friends in cyberspace (is "cyberspace" even used nowadays?).

We all get grouchy sometimes. Some get a little more grouchy, a little more easily than others. Without naming names, one of my people (you probably know who or you will soon) tends to get his feathers ruffled a bit easier than most. Today, thinking I was being a nice, fun mom, I say to the kids, "Here's the plan for afternoon/evening: Play with friends, Tae Kwon Do, bowling with Dad, and then haircuts for the boys".

In all grouchy seriousness, here was the response. "That is the worst plan ever. That plan couldn't get much worse. I HATE that plan".

Did I miss something here? Did you catch the part about playing with friends and bowling with Dad? And last time I checked, you loved Tae Kwon Do. Really, you can't think of a worse plan than that?

Tomorrow and the next day is Webelos Day Camp. Oh, happy day! I think this boy needs BOYS, DIRT, SWIMMING, BUGS, NO SISTERS and stupid ten-year-old boy jokes. God bless the Boy Scouts of America!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Foolish, Foolish Woman

We have had some serious bedtime issues around these parts. Serious, as in, WE DON'T HAVE A BEDTIME. Period. Children just conk out whenever, where ever. Not uncommon for Faith to still be up at 11:00. Shameful. If we do try to enforce actual sleeping in one's own bed, my people find a myriad of excuses to get out of bed. Such excuses include, but are not limited to: I'm thirsty; I'm hot; I need a book to read (I'm a sucker for this one); so-and-so won't get off my bed; can we listen to a book on tape?; I forgot to brush my teeth; I'm scared; I'm not tired; Can I just get a healthy snack?; I need a different blanket; I can't find my pillow; I just need a hug; What are you watching?; What's the plan for tomorrow?; I just need to organize my things; Can you sing to us (flattering!); I need a coughdrop (although they are not sick AT ALL).

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? I've read the books- I know sleep is mega important to children's growth, development, yada, yada, yada.

Last night, at a ridiculously late hour, we were still negotiating sleeping arrangements and conditions. My Mommy-O-Meter reached it's maximum capacity and I said the word I say when I really would like to say another word (which I don't say): "ENOUGH!!!! I have had ENOUGH!"

I needed a new plan,

See, the problem is children sharing rooms. I actually think it is very good for children to share rooms (it's good to feel that way when you have more children than rooms), but it can make bedtime a bit trickier. Mom and Dad have to have a plan or the children will conspire to RUIN your evening. As we have seen.

Here's the new plan: Operation GO TO SLEEP. Faith and Cannon to bed no later than 7:30. Clark, Bethany, and Elinor to bed and lights out at 9:00. What's the magic that makes this plan work when so many others have failed? Enter, THE FLASHLIGHT. Each child gets their very own, labeled (lest there be ownership disputes) $2.00 flashlight. Read to your hearts content until whatever hour you wish, but so help me if I see you cherubic face or hear your angelic voice after 9:00!
Operation GO TO SLEEP was a brilliant success tonight. Now that wasn't so hard, was it? Foolish, foolish woman. I have five children. I should have been on top of this earlier. Foolish, foolish woman. Oh well, this foolish woman has enjoyed three hours of peace and quiet tonight!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to my 31st year of life. To celebrate my hubby took me bowling and BEAT ME!!! How rude of him. We went with our good friends, the Johansens. Jeff Johansen is a really good bowler, but he condescended to bowl with us commoners. I think it just makes him feel really good to shmear everybody. Just kidding. Sort of.

Saying goodbye to Clark's longer hair. He wanted to grow it out a bit, as that is somewhat the style (I guess?) these days. I think we're doing something wrong and it just looks messy (or like his mother doesn't love him). So tomorrow we must go visit Todd, the barber.

Saying goodbye to Elinor's cast. Tomorrow she will have it cut off and she will lose her "club" which she has been threatening her siblings with. It's been quick and painless, albeit a little itchy at times. She is looking forward to seeing how skinny her arm will be. I'm hoping that since she's been able to swim in a chlorinated pool that it won't be too stinky.

Saying goodbye to Faith's more cooperative days. It took a little while, but our little Faith has found a mind of her own. She's making her will known, mainly through crying, on all sorts of subjects. What she will and will not eat, what she will and will not wear, where she will and will not sit, when she will and will not go to bed. You get the idea. Not pretty. I guess I'll have to bust out my parenting books and remind myself what I should be doing. I think I got lazy with Faith because she was SO DELIGHTFUL for long.

Saying goodbye to Suzuki's Book 2 on the violin. Bethany has moved into book 3. We had hopes for a little recital of her book 2 songs, but with it being summer I don't know if we'll get that far. Clark and Elinor don't have piano lessons during July so Bethany feels seriously put out that she still has lessons. Oh the injustice!

Saying goodbye to the one that got away. These are cutthroat trout that Grandpa Cannon and Clark caught on Strawberry Reservoir on Friday. My dad is taking his retirement VERY seriously. Or should I say, he takes his fishing during his retirement very seriously. We couldn't be more grateful to Grandpa for helping fill Clark's need for the great outdoors. Clark told us he almost caught an even bigger one (the one that got away), but it got away!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

What to do? What to do? Tackle the big, huge, daunting, endless pile of laundry on my bed. . . OR. . . . .

Sit on my couch and read this delicious novel?
You can see what a dilemma this is.

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

No, I don't mean the 4th of July-- although I do love that time too. But I'm referring to the day that the school supplies go on sale at Walmart!
I stockpile crayons! I buy them once a year and every year the cashier asks me if I am a teacher and of course I say YES. Do we really need this many crayons, you wonder?
Yes for three reasons:
1. I hate, loathe dull crayons. I love fresh, sharp crayons. So when I color with the kids I need new crayons.
2. If I find crayons left out around the house (and I do find LOTS of crayons left out around the house) I throw them away. I have not the time or mental energy to put crayons away.
3. The kids draw and color ALL THE TIME! An endless supply of crayons is so worth it for the peace they provide.
And crayons are dirt cheap this time of year. Although. . . the price did go up a nickel from last year. Now they are $.25 per pack. Still, totally worth it.
Clark at peace in Lego Land. No, not the one in California. The one we make in our family room. I can't remember if I've written about it before but Lego Land has saved our family. It saves babies from choking on Legos and it saves Clark from destroying anyone who might accidentally break a Lego creation. I can guarantee the safety of any project being built, if it is well within the boundaries of Lego land.
Clark has spent a lot of time in here. He will be joining a First Lego League this fall to team up with some other boys to build a robot to solve a problem and compete against other teams. Ten-year-old boy PARADISE! Thanks to Grandma Fox for supplying us with our Legos over the years. You can never have too many.

Happy 4th of July

We enjoyed a great (busy) 4th of July weekend.

The festivities began Friday evening at our city's parade--aka our city's CANDY-FEST!!
Aren't my men HANDSOME!!!!!

Sometimes it is STINKING HOT for the parade. Fortunately Abe found us a great spot with a bit of shade. To get good seats for the parade we put our chairs out about four days before the parade. Almost the entire front row sidewalk of the parade route is filled up days before the parade. We take our parades seriously in these parts.

For the kids, the purpose of the parade is singular-- GET CANDY. Knock other children out of the way and dive into the middle of the road (even though a big float will run you over), scratch your fingers up on the asphalt to get a tootsie roll. Blessed day if you should be lucky enough to catch a free key chain or the grand-daddy prize of them all--THE T-SHIRT!!! Never mind that the parade participants are throwing so much salt-water taffy into the crowd that you actually get repeatedly pelted in the head. It's all worth it for a chance at a free piece of double bubble. The only injustice of it is that Abe and I can charge "Mom Tax" or "Dad Tax", which means we can tax the children for candy we want but were too lazy to get up from our chair to get ourselves. I know it is totally unfair- and on Independence Day at that, but TOUGH!
Cannon and his cousin, Brigham. I don't know if it comes through on the picture, but there is something very similar about these two little guys. I guess it shouldn't be too shocking-- they are cousins after all. We hope they will be good buddies as they grow up.

The morning of the 4th started with "Diving for Dollars" at the local swimming pool. The city rents out the pool for anyone to come swim for free and there are fun events for several hours. For Diving for Dollars they have certain age groups at a time get in the water and collect coinage spread on the bottom of the pool. Next to the candy from the parade this is a highlight of the 4th of July. Sadly, the kids collected less than in years past--it must be the economy.
Faith spent almost the whole five minutes trying for this one dime.

Sadly she was not successful because she just did not want to put her face and head in. Abe ended up throwing a couple of dimes on the steps so she could reach something.

The girls fared better, but no one broke the $2 mark. Maybe next year. Sorry, no pictures of Clark, but he did participate in the 9-11 yr olds.

We went up to the Capitol for a "Tea Party". It was very interesting and I'm still mulling over what I thought of it all. I am glad that we went and it is remarkable that we could safely go and freely, peacefully gather to protest. This country has it's problems, but it's still THE BEST in the world.

Clark wrote his own protest sign.

When we got home a neighbor put on an impromptu magic show for the neighborhood kids. I was reading a book inside and I was hearing shrieks of laughter and cheering.

And what 4th of July celebration would be complete without a fantastic fireworks show. Our city puts on a huge show we like to go to the park to watch.