August 8, 2013

Summer Scout Camps

What would summer be without a few scout camps, right? Brevin and Jason showed what it took to "be prepared" for Brevin's first overnight scout camp as an eleven year-old scout. Jason went along to help fill a third adult leader position, and the two had a really great time. Upon their arrival home, Brevin was just a few requirements shy from his rank of First Class.  That's not too shabby for barely getting started in his boy scout career.

Several weeks later, Spencer had his turn to attend day camp at Jeremiah Johnson with all of the Wolfs and Bears. He got to shoot bb guns and arrows and pull handcarts around camp with his buddies.  Yeah, I think he enjoyed himself thoroughly.

 This post authored by Amber

July 28, 2013

Brevin's Pool Party

Over the past few months I have witnessed Brevin morph into a tween right before my eyes.  He's become taller, his shoulders have broadened, and his stature has filled out and become more solid.  Brevin has noticed some changes, too, as he has expressed concern (or perhaps excitement) about the thickening hair on his legs.  There's no denying.  Brevin's growing up, maturing, and developing preferences that are slightly more sophisticated than those he had before.  He has begun to demonstrate an interest in books, films, and TV that frequently contain a "coming of age" theme with young teenagers in the roles of protagonists. His current favorite book series is Percy Jackson and the Olympians and he enjoys watching the television show Wizards of Waverley Place.  

I continue to give Brevin increased responsibilities around the home, and he has responded in such a way that shows he is up to the challenge.  He is capable, dependable, and, when given plenty of encouragement, he can be very hard working.  He takes his assignments very seriously and holds himself to his own standard of high expectations.  Brevin is also a quick learner and very intelligent.  I credit that fact to his love of reading.

I couldn't be more pleased with the young man Brevin is becoming.  It is a pleasure to be his mother. And just to prove my point about how quickly he is growing up, here is the birthday video that highlights his past year:

Brevin's Pool Party

I got the inspiration for the invitation design from HERE.

Brevin requested a trip to the Provo Recreation center pool for his birthday party.  He also came up with the idea of using billiards for a pool party theme.  I thought it was a very clever concept, and a fairly simple party to pull off.  We had pizza for dinner and gave Brevin an opportunity to open gifts from his guests before going swimming. Unfortunately, the pool closed earlier than usual due to the Pioneer Day holiday, and so we came back to the home for cupcakes and ice cream sooner than anticipated. Even so, it was a great little party.

Once again, I depended on the creative genius of Karen Tack and Alan 
Richardson of Hello, Cupcake! to supply me with the awesome cake idea.

After we took Brevin's party guests home, our family enjoyed a fireworks display just in front of our own home.

Brevin's Birthday Breakfast

On the actual morning of Brevin's birthday, he was treated to a breakfast of his choice.  He asked to have German pancakes with buttermilk syrup.  He then opened gifts from the family, including a brand new mountain bike with a larger frame to accommodate his growing body.

Brevin's Birthday Dinner

A perfect example of Brevin's growing sophistication in his tastes was made evident by his birthday dinner of choice.  He requested sushi, so we took him to Shoga in Orem and we invited Grandma and Grandpa Park to come along.  It was a perfect way to celebrate another year of having Brevin in our family.  We sure love him!

Happy 11th Birthday, Brevin!

This post authored by Amber

July 5, 2013

Miss Independent Independence

There are many events we look forward to participating in during Provo's annual  Freedom Festival.  While high winds canceled the lift-off of the hot air balloons we had waken early to see, and government sequestration of funds grounded all Air Force planes from doing any sort of fly-overs, we still had ample opportunity to celebrate and show pride for our country, being sure to remember the sacrifices made to secure the freedoms we generally take for granted.  Even though the skies were empty and quiet on the morning of the fourth of July, there was plenty going on at the parade.  Oh, and of course there was adequate excitement during the evening at the Stadium of Fire where we were able to enjoy a concert with Carly Rae Jepsen opening for Kelley Clarkson.  An elaborate display of fireworks added the final exclamation point to an exciting day spent with our family.

Before the parade began, a street vendor passed by 
blowing giant bubbles that were too tempting to pop.

We managed to nab the same spot we did last year at the front of the 
street near the parade's beginning.  It has proven to be the best location 
for two years running.  Hopefully we can be just as lucky next year.

I was so thrilled that Kelly Clarkson was the
 headliner for this year's event.  She really is 
The American Idol.  I'm telling you, that girl can sing!

The pre-concert performances by the Stadium of Fire Dancers and 
Cirque Du Soleil were equally amazing.  What an incredible show!

This post authored by Amber

July 2, 2013

Return to Red Cedar Lodge

Wildfires had displaced our extended family gathering last summer, but this year we returned to Red Cedar Lodge as planned. During our stay, we thoroughly enjoyed water activities at the lake, outdoor games and sport competitions, good food, and great company.

Our family had to make an early departure, however, at the discovery of some questionable spots and infections that cropped up all over Spencer's skin.  When those symptoms were coupled with a spiked fever, there seemed to be adequate cause for alarm.  We rushed home so we could manage getting an appointment with the doctor before the clinic closed for the weekend. We learned that Spencer had hand, foot, and mouth disease and a case of impetigo--all of this on his very birthday, too.

Well, our stay had been cut short, but our memories had not.  We had already managed to pack in quite a few activities during the time that we were there.  Here are a few photos of some of those activities:

Spencer and Makayla were paired up in a badminton
 match.  They lost against Grandma and Lanay.  

Everyone gave the football toss competition a go, but in 
the end it came down to a shoot-out between Jason and
 Lance.  Lance ended up with the winning throw.

Brevin and Loni defeated Cheryl and Ralph in their first badminton game.

We all had a great time playing a candy ball game that Sharley had prepared.

Knowing that it was Spencer's birthday, Lance made a special
 Mickey Mouse shaped pancake just for  him.  Wasn't that awesome!

Truth be told, it really doesn't seem to matter where we get together with my family.  What's certain is we always have a really exciting time, despite being plagued with hand, foot, and mouth disease.

This post authored by Amber

July 1, 2013

Raiders of the Lost Park

This good-looking fellow just turned nine years-old.  If you think he looks charming in his pictures, you should see him in action.  Spencer is outgoing, cheerful, and highly charismatic. These qualities naturally draw others to him, and he is happy to assume a role of leadership among his peers.  He has demonstrated an increased measure of maturity at home as well.  Now, don't get me wrong.  He can still be quite spastic and silly at times.  I do not think he will ever outgrow his tendency to be an attention commanding personality, but he has developed an increased responsible and thoughtful nature, too.  He's bright and talented, with a wide range of interests in academics, sports, and the arts.  While he has gotten much better about finishing books that he has started reading, creative writing still remains to be one of his greatest strengths. He is quite the storyteller and writes with fantastic expression.

I could go on and on (it's easy to get carried away when you're a mother), and it would be extremely difficult to pinpoint just what I love most about Spencer.  I can say I really enjoy that he still consistently requests that I sing him a song every night at bedtime.  For all his growing and maturing, that is the thing he does that reminds me that he truly is, and always will be, my little boy.  Watching his year-in-review birthday video, however, reminds me how quickly that "little boy" is growing up.  See what I mean:

An Indiana Jones Water Party

I decided to allow the boys to do friend birthday parties this year, and Spencer requested an Indiana Jones themed water party.  I had found some great ideas via Pinterest and especially loved the invitations described on this post.  I ordered the suggested book from Amazon, but while awaiting the  delivery, I made some "save the date" movie posters (thanks to the magic of Photoshop) to give to each of the party guests.  The posters were really fun, and could have stood alone, but I was absolutely giddy at how cool the lost journal invitations turned out.

Party favors consisted of a hat for each child and a felt satchel. I found the hats at Deseret Book.  I admit I felt a little obnoxious wiping out the store's complete inventory of pioneer trek hats, but at $4.95 a piece, I couldn't pass them up.  The satchels were made of felt and I sewed them the night before the party using the pattern idea I found on this website.  Inside the satchel, there was a prescription bottle filled with M&Ms and labeled as a poison antidote, to be consumed after one of the party games.

Once the guests arrived, Spencer opened his gifts before we played water games.  I love how excited he was about receiving this box of Reese's Pieces candies.

We headed outside to play a number of games that included water balloon grenades and water blow darts (wet Q-tips shot through straws).  I got the ideas from this other party, including the idea for the poison antidote.  The children were then given an "archaeological challenge" to see who could find and collect the most darts and grenade "shrapnel."  Once that task was accomplished, they were allowed to slip 'n slide away from the giant boulder.

The water games were so simple, yet they turned out to be so much fun.  Even Jason got involved and quickly became the target for all the blow darts and water grenades.

When the lawn was sufficiently saturated and the grass completely matted down, we all came in for cake and ice-cream.  Spencer had an Indiana Jones birthday cake some years ago, but this time he really wanted a giant boulder for a cake.  A boulder?  Really?  That's it?  I tried to make it a little more interesting by adding a fondant figured Indiana Jones, but I laugh when I see the attempt.  It turned out looking a little less like Harrison Ford and a little more like George Lucas, in my opinion. It must be the hair.

Well, as most parties tend to do , this one turned out to be a really great time.  It was quite a treat to entertain this cute group of children for an hour and a half.

Spencer's Birthday Breakfast at Home

Spencer's party was nearly a week before his actual birthday, and we were going to be at a family reunion on that day, too, so we let him have his breakfast of choice on the morning before we left for our trip.  He wanted french toast on homemade bread.  He got it.  After he ate, we let him open his gifts from our family.

 Spencer's Birthday Breakfast at Red Cedar Lodge

On Spencer's birthday, we were in southern Utah staying in a cabin with extended family.  My brother Lance made a Mickey Mouse shaped pancake just for Spencer for his breakfast.  Wasn't that so sweet!  Unfortunately, Spencer became sick and had some awful-looking sores quickly develop on his legs, accompanied by a spotty rash that had cropped up all over.  He was running a fever as well, so Jason and I decided to "medically evacuate" him in attempts to make the three and a half-hour drive back to Springville to catch our pediatrician before the clinic closed for the weekend.  It turned out he had impetigo and hand, foot, and mouth disease.  What a wonderful birthday surprise (drip sarcasm)!

 Spencer's Birthday Dinner

When the illness was finally "at bay" we took Spencer out to his favorite restaurant for his annual birthday dinner.  He chose Pizza Pie Cafe.  I think that is three years running, now.  That Oreo pizza must be something!

Happy 9th Birthday, Spencer!

This post authored by Amber