July 13, 2011

The Gathering Place

My family met for a reunion at Red Cedar Lodge near Bryce Canyon in Southern Utah last weekend.  It was a different location from previous years, but we found the accommodations to be quite appealing. 

Probably the most exciting difference was the access to a nearby pond.  That was the source of a majority of our family recreation.  It provided opportunities for Jason to fish in the mornings and evenings (as pictured above), there were plenty of paddle boats and canoes, and a zipline ran across the middle of the pond.  For those brave enough to immerse themselves in the water, it was a shockingly cool experience. (When exiting the zipline, however, I highly recommend the biting cold of the water over biffing it on the hard, muddy banks.  I'm just saying!)

Brevin                                                                                Spencer            

Amber                                                                                    Jason        

The lodge was nestled in a beautiful wooded area, but there was also a large grassy field that was perfect for the plastic car coaster, badminton tournaments, treasure hunts, and water balloon fights.

Of course, the best part of this type of family reunion was all the visiting, game playing, getting to stay up late, and then having a sleepover in the cabin, complete with sleeping bags and cousins. 

What a memorable get together!

This post authored by Amber

July 5, 2011

How We Celebrated Freedom

We are blessed not only to live in a country where freedoms abound, but where the land itself is something remarkable to behold.With sights such as these, it's no wonder people traveled in search of a promised land, and then gave their all to preserve and protect it.  And for our family, we fully enjoyed it.

We celebrated the fourth of July by stirring from our beds before the sun rose and traveled to the mountain majesties for a day of fishing at Co-op Creek. And when the fishing didn't prove successful (for us, at least), the boys turned to rock throwing and bug collecting, and I sat comfortably in my chair listening to the sound of the creek gushing into the lake and feeling the sun on my face and arms.  It was a good, peaceful feeling, and it made me feel grateful to live in this blessed and beautiful land.

This post authored by Amber

A New View

Equipped with glowsticks, insect repellent, candy, and camp chairs, we set off to find a spot to view the fireworks from outside the Stadium of Fire.  I think we found a new favorite location--the Provo High School football field. Parking was close and easily accessible, space was abundant, and the crowds were more family friendly than those at our old location at Fox Field.  Plus, the view was better.  I'd say it was an all-around cha-ching!

This post authored by Amber

May The Fourth Be With You

Okay so it was actually the 1st of July when we pulled sleepy children (and Mommy) from their beds to get a glimpse of the hot air balloons that were a part of this year's Freedom Festival in Provo, but these same balloons did launch on the 4th as well. Getting up early allowed us to fraternize with the likes of storm troopers, death star pilots, snow troopers, and Darth Vader, himself.  All that, and it wasn't even 7:00 a.m. yet!

 Oh, and there were a bunch of other really cool hot air balloons there, too.

This post authored by Amber

Happ-Wii Birthday, Spencer

Spencer is charming and he has this incredible ability to pick things up quickly.  Whether it is a new sport, a video game, a math concept, or a reading skill, he makes learning new things look effortless. He does them with control and impressive agility.  He is also very well-rounded with many interests and talents ranging from sports to academics.  He has a quirky sense of humor and likes a good joke and to pull a good prank (but he doesn't like to be on the receiving end of a prank).  He makes funny faces, silly noises, and has a language of gibberish that he sometimes speaks in.  He also has an uncanny ability to memorize lyrics to songs and lines of movies.  He's very entertaining with all the attention-getting qualities of a second-born child, and we can't imagine our family without him.  You know, spending seven years with a person can really make you attached!

Spencer's Friend Birthday Party

Spencer loves to play Wii. I think it is because he is quite good at it. He happily selected to have his birthday party with friends be a Wii party. There were plenty of ideas online for this type of party. I found this great printable for a Wii remote control box. We decided to make it the envelope in which the invitations were placed. I used this website to create Mii characters to download on the computer that matched the features of the Mii characters already programed into the Wii console for each person invited to the party. Those characters were used for invitations, party favor bags, and a template for the cake. The only decorations I made effort to make were giant buttons to place on our front door to make it look like a Wii remote. These are boys, after all.

As for the cake....well, if you think I'd be crazy to try and make Mii characters for all the boys attending the party out of marshmallow fondant to put on the cake, you'd be right.  And where were you to talk me out of this crazy cake concept?  You were probably in bed while I started this late in the evening and worked on it until the wee hours of the morning!  Never again!  But then again, Spencer will never be seven again, so I'm okay with my mistake.  Plus, the boys had so much fun eating their own faces, it made all the hard work worth it.

Now before you go thinking I am a super-terrific mom or something, I must let you know that, aside from the cake, this was the laziest birthday party ever from a parent's standpoint.  The kids came in, we opened presents, they played Wii, we ate cake, they played more Wii, they got bored, they jumped on the trampoline, we gave them some sandwiches, chips, and a Capri Sun, and they went home.  It was super simple.  These are boys, after all.

Spencer's "Family Fiesta"

Spencer kind-of has a fascination with the Spanish language.  He will sometimes watch entire movies in Spanish if they have a language option, and he gets excited to tell me if he hears someone speaking in Spanish when we are out in public.  He also likes to count in Spanish, but I don't think he knows many words yet. Because of this, I thought it would be fun to serve fried ice-cream and tres de leche cake for his extended family party. We also gave him our gifts on that night even though it was two days before his birthday.  We couldn't wait to give him his new bike any longer.  His knees were hitting the handlebars on the old one.

Spencer's Birthday Dinner & Breakfast

The Monday before his birthday, Spencer got to choose where we would go out to eat as a family.  We were planning to go to Lehi Trafalga as well, but his stitches got infected and we had an emergency appointment to have them removed.  Because they were taken out early, he was instructed that he could not bend his knee at all and that laser tag and rock wall climbing were simply out of the question.  We had a family Wii night instead, and he was satisfied.

On the actual day of his birthday I made Spencer's breakfast of choice--German pancakes.  This was a treat for all the family who have become quite accustomed to having cold cereal for breakfast.

Spencer's Last T-Ball Game & Birthday Celebration

Because Spencer had his final t-ball game on his birthday, we did all of the celebrating on the days leading up to his actual birth date.  The final celebratory act came at the end of the game where I had purposely signed up to bring treats to his team.  We had chocolate cupcakes with chocolate milk. The boys sang Happy Birthday and brought all the partying to a suitable conclusion.

Happy Seventh Birthday, Spencer!

This post authored by Amber

"He Can Do Anything. He'll Fix Your Bike or Fly Your Kite"

He'll give you a buzz cut if you request it or spike your hair up with gel before church.  He'll make sure to get up early enough to get a majority of you ready fifteen minutes early, leaving plenty of time for picture taking before going to sacrament meeting at 9:00 a.m.  He'll be okay with warming up a sweet roll for breakfast that was made the night before because at least it isn't cold cereal on his special day. He'll change his tie when he realizes you gave him a new purple one.  He'll let you play his new Wii game after church ('cause who was that gift really for anyway?) and he'll also allow everyone else to eat more Granny B.cookies than him ('cause who was that gift really for anyway?). 

He'll watch you with excitement as you sing with the rest of the Primary, "I'm so glad when Daddy comes home!"  He might even smile in agreement as you follow up by singing, "My Dad's the nicest guy of any guy in town!"  Well, maybe he won't, but he should, 'cause he is pretty nice.  And this is just Father's Day we're talking about!  Not to mention all the things he does on every other day of the week.  Yep, kiddos.  You can tell everyone how great you think your Dad is.  They'll likely agree.  I know I do!

Happy Father's Day, Jason!

This post was authored by Amber

Doing Our Best To Wipe Out Our Cafeteria Funds for 2011

Not to be outdone by Brevin, Spencer had a leg injury of his own to put on the record for what may go down as the most medically expensive year for our family to date (and just in time for "Obama Care").  Fortunately, his injury occurred in the early hours of the day, and so I could take him to our pediatrician's office rather than Instacare or an emergency room.

So here's all the sordid details with gruesome pictures to accompany:

 While at Seven Peaks Waterpark, Spencer tripped on some cement stairs that were leading from a lower pool to an upper one.  He hit his knee hard, causing the wet skin to split open.  I saw him clutching his leg in pain from across the pool, and I called out to him to come over to me.  Brevin was right next to him exclaiming, "It's bad! He's going to need stitches."  Once I got a look at it, I agreed with Brevin's early diagnosis.  It didn't take a doctor to see he was going to need stitches.

I had Ella in the sling and so it was a bit precarious lifting Spencer in a cradle hold to carry him to the first aid station.  In my rush, I yelled over my shoulder to Brevin to get Garrett and bring him along behind us.  Once I handed Spencer over to the EMTs, I turned to see Brevin...without Garrett!

Now the emergency had evolved into a catastrophe.  Garrett is not easy to find in a public location because he gives no indication that he is lost.  I cannot listen for his distraught cries, and a passerby wouldn't pay any attention to child happily about his own business.  After canvasing the over-crowded facility a number of times, we resorted to sending out an emergency call to all the lifeguards on duty with Garrett's description.  Thirty minutes or more of searching produced my darling, albeit daring, three year-old child, and we could continue to attend to Spencer.  (And I could more easily pretend to be calm for Spencer's sake.)

Well, Spencer got his knee all stitched up with a grand total of eleven sutchers. I must say, the kid is tough and he handled everything very well. The doctor even mentioned how impressed she was with his ability to endure the pain of the ordeal. Now, the real challenge is keeping Spencer's activity limited so the wound on his knee can heal (and to try to keep Garrett from running off on his own in crowded places)!

This post authored by Amber