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

June 29, 2013

The Boys of Summer

Warm weather, lush, green parks--nothing feels like summer quite like sitting on the edge of a diamond-shaped playing field, cheering on tanned children with sun-bleached hair.  There certainly wasn't a shortage of opportunities for Jason and I to do just that, with three boys involved in baseball and kickball this season.  I'll admit.  It's a good way to spend a portion of those lazy summer days.

Brevin participated in his second year of baseball in the Mustang league and was one of the older players on his team.  His coach often had him play first baseman, and he was able to see quite a bit of playtime action because of that.  His team, the Diamondbacks, had a relatively successful season and played into the post-season loosing in a close game in the semi-finals.

Garrett was able to start kickball this summer.  The main objective of this league is to introduce the children to the concept of base running and passing.  It is supposed to help with the transition to t-ball the following year, and it is very entertaining to watch.

It wasn't all spectating for Jason this summer.  He signed on to be the coach for Spencer's coach-pitch team for a second year.  All their practicing together really paid off.  As you can see from the pictures, Spencer was able to hit his pitches into the outfield nearly every time.

This post authored by Amber

June 23, 2013

Tie it Up

Brevin had been insistent about getting his own necktie so he could learn to tie one himself.  Jason was able to find one that was just the right length for him to learn with.  After a few practice rounds and some tips from an old pro, he had it down pretty good, and he was pleased as punch with his new found ability.

Father's day came around, and all of the boys received matching ties.  Spencer was given a regular tie as well (an upgrade from the usual zip-tie), so he was also in need of some one-on-one tie tying tutoring.

Now, don't they look sharp?

This post authored by Amber

June 16, 2013

"I'm Really Glad That He's My Dad"

Most of Jason's Father's Day was spent with each of our four children clamoring to be close to him, eager and happy to celebrate with him.  He sat through sacrament meeting with four Disney baby princesses carefully stuffed into his front shirt pocket as he listened to the three boys sing with the Primary choir about how he is their favorite pal.  Well, there's no denying.  We think he is pretty special.  Happy Father's Day, Jason!

At his request, it was fresh fruit and cinnamon rolls with 
cream cheese frosting from Shirley's Bakery for breakfast.

The children were all so eager for Jason to open his gifts.  I think
 it was because they knew he'd likely share his treats with them.

I love that in the picture above Jason looked so surprised, 
especially when he told me that he wanted the exact same thing
 we got for him last year: a superhero kit (free printables found HERE).

Par for the course.

This post authored by Amber

June 15, 2013

On Our Trail to Fame and Glory

It's been several years since we last hiked the "Y" trail.  Now that summer is in full swing, we are anxiously working on checking things off our summer "bucket list."  Hike to the "Y" in the most perfect weather possible...check!

Getting everyone to look for this family photo at the 
trail head may have been the hardest part of the hike.

Ella had quite the accommodations for the ascent.  
She even had a bottle of bubbles to keep her entertained. 

I had some pretty stellar hiking buddies.

Every now and again we would stop to appreciate 
the amazing views of Provo and its surrounding areas.

On the last switchback, Ella insisted making the 
trek on her own, much to Jason' s relief, I'm sure. 

Here we are atop the "Y."

The children posed for this picture on the way back down.

This post authored by Amber

June 9, 2013

Art City Days 2013

Each year we celebrate the founding of our quaint, little hometown of Springville through a weeks worth of events known as Art City Days.  Our family enjoys participating in some of the many activities scheduled.

One of the events is a variety show that is offered free to the public at the amphitheater of the Arts Park and features local talent.  Spencer and his friend, Gabe, wanted to audition for the talent show, but their decision was made with only four days until auditions were held.  They scrambled to put together a routine for the judging panel who was kind enough to give them a chance and a spot on the program.  The event organizer later told us that she just knew the boys had the potential to pull it off, despite their unrefined audition.  She was right.  The boys practiced non-stop until the date of performance, and they were able to pull off a routine that (in their mother's opinions) might have "stolen the show."  You don't have to take my word for it, though.  You can see for yourself just how adorable they were singing "Anything You Can Do" from Irving Berlin's musical Annie Get Your Gun:

When the performance was over, the two boys gave each other a high-five.  When they were called back on stage for a final "curtain call" they exchanged a hug.  What cute kids!

The next activity that we found ourselves at was the Children's Parade.  My children have participated in this event for many years now, but Brevin felt this might be his year to be a spectator and cheer for his siblings as they rode by in their costumes.  He said he felt he was a little too old for the parade.  He was kind enough to oblige when I requested a photo, though.

As the week's festivities drew to a close, we enjoyed viewing the Grand Parade from the comfortable shade of our canopy, which had been situated in a great location.  Grandma and Grandpa came and sat with us, too.

Brevin had a front row seat for gathering candy 
and flyers being passed out by businesses.

Spencer and Willy the Wolverine sparred with each 
other a little bit before Willy offered him a high-five.

Ella and Garrett both leaped from their seats to take
 a shot at popping the bubbles that were spewing
 from the back of the Wiggy Wash float.

The culminating event was the fireworks show later that evening.  We viewed them from lawn chairs and blankets set up at a nearby park.  After ten to fifteen minutes of firework displays, we returned to our home.  There really is no place like home. We feel fortunate to call Springville "home."

This post authored by Amber