Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween, 2013!

(I may or may not have needed my sister to remind me why I was making all my kids' costumes again . . .)

 Miles, aka Oompa Loompa.

 Jonas, aka Jack Sparrow.

 Jack Sparrow and his weapon.

 Emmy, aka Mermaid.

 Lucy, aka Mermaid.

 Such beautiful mermaids!

 Ben, aka "Elder Maxwell."  As in a missionary.  A time when he had hair (can you see his nice "do"?) and sported a suit with a backpack.  He even wore his mission "bike clip" - something you put on your pant leg to keep it from getting caught up in your bike spokes.  I think he looked great!

 Me, aka Candy Corn.

 Our crew!

So fun!

(P.S.  These pictures were taken on Tuesday, right before our ward's Halloween Party.  Which the kids had a blast at.  I'm glad they get to wear their costumes for me than one day!)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

We are raising Cougar fans . . .

A Pumpkin Patch!

I was a bit bummed and jealous after reading of my sister's fun adventures to a pumpkin patch close to their home.  The east-coast does such a great job with pumpkin patches - not only are pumpkins for sale, but there are so many other fun activities going on!  (I remember a really fun one we went to in New York).

So when a friend of mine mentioned that her family was going to a "fun" pumpkin patch in Grand Junction the next day (Saturday), I was all for it.  Until it got a little complicated:  Ben had church responsibilities from 10-12, Emmy had a birthday party to go to at 12, I had grocery shopping to do, the missionaries were coming for dinner, etc.  Bummer!  But by Saturday morning, when I had told the kids that we'd be leaving in a little bit to a local " pumpkin chuckin' " event, Emmy was all moans and cries and whines and complaints.  So then I just thought there was no reason sticking around for Emmy and so I called my friend and told her we'd be coming with them.  Emmy was going to have to sit with Ben in his 2-hour meetings (auxiliary training for the women, but as Bishop, he was invited to attend the RS training) - which Ben agreed to because he's good like that.

Anyways, it was a really fun day and the kids had a lot of fun.  I love the pumpkin patch and we've decided to make it a new tradition - the Saturday before Halloween we'll all go up there and spend the day.  Emmy did great for Ben at his meetings and had a wonderful time at the birthday party, too.  Ben got most of the dinner ready, the missionaries came for dinner, and then I headed out grocery shopping.  It all worked out and I was happy to get out and do something fun with friends (mine and the kids')!

 Lucy's first time on a pony.

 I'm pretty sure this was Jonas' first time as well.

 There was a HUGE haystack there - this was the backside, just for jumping in to a pool of corn seeds.  Another side had a rope-ladder and rock-wall to climb on.  Another side had some slides.  The front was a really big slide that everyone loved going down.  I couldn't get any pictures because 1.  the boys were just all over and I had to stick with Lucy and 2.  Lucy would never go down by herself.  :)

 This was a huge hit, too!  They have these 2 big orange tarp-like things that are over a pit in the ground and are blown up by air.  Think bouncy house, without the house and waaaaaay bigger.  The pictures don't do it justice.  They were awesome.

 Oh, another big hit - the "shooting range," or whatever you call it.  The boys loved this place, of course!  I think it was paint-ball guns and they shot little plastic balls.

 There were hay-bales and stacks all over for hiding out.  Miles liked finding little holes in the stacks and shooting out of them.  So cool - if you're a boy.  :)

 Of course there was some type of tractor ride.  Jonas called it the "cow train."  Here is Lucy going with Audrey.  She's older and sweet and cute and a girl - so she's practically perfect.

 Then it was Miles' and a couple of the other kids' turns.  Miles didn't want to ride alone and so Lucy went along again.  :)

 A little fuzzy, but cute:  Jonas and his friend Pete.

 Back on the orange thing - there is Pete, Kara (Miles' friend), Miles, and Lucy.

 Lucy in action.

 The little "kids' maze."  Lucy would just climb over the hay bale to get out.  :)

Group shot of the kids:  Miles, Audrey, Lucy, Jonas, Pete, Kara, and Tommy.  It is Tommy's birthday on Tuesday and so we got a discounted "party group" rate.  Awesome.  Miles was soooooooooo bummed (understatement) because we never did the real corn maze.  I felt so bad for him.  It's "all [he] wanted to do!"  The kids had mentioned it once, but then got involved in the other activities and so I didn't bring it up again.  For two reasons:  1.  It would have taken probably 1-2 hours and 2.  Lucy would not have liked doing that for 1-2 hours.  So I told Miles next time, when Ben can come along and we can split up, then we can do it.  He was still mad about it.  Poor kid.  But, really, I know he loved everything else.  Life's a bummer sometimes.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Parent-Teacher Conferences

We had to go to THREE conference last evening!  Awesome.  Since it was in the evening, Ben was home and so we all went - all six of us.  We started with Miles' teacher.  Then Jonas'.  Then Emmy's.  We had great reports, really, with each child.  Each child is in the top of their class - which I don't mean to brag, but it does make us happy.  Really happy, in fact.  After meeting with our kids' teachers and volunteering last Monday in each classroom, I'm also really happy to report that I feel that each child is in great hands.  I like their teachers and my kids do, too.  We couldn't ask for much more.

Miles is doing great - he is always "adding" to classroom instructions by his immense wealth of knowledge.  The teacher always gives him time to add what he wants at the end of instruction.  He's enjoying his Quest group and gets to present a little information on the "Stock Market crash of 1929" next Tuesday.  When he signed up to do that specific "This Day in History" presentation, he thought it was referring to some kind of actual crash.  :)

Jonas is a great student, too.  He's a fantastic reader and does very well in math.  When asked by his teacher what she could do to make class better, Jonas answered by saying they should make some bats and hang them on the ceiling.  Awesome.

Emmy is a very good student, too.  Her teacher only had good things to say about her.  Her teacher is going to be sending home a little bit of homework now (a reading book, sight words, etc.) and so that is exciting for Emmy.  The boys always do their itty-bitty homework each day after snack and she has felt left-out.  :)  We'll see how long the joy of homework lasts . . .

We ended the evening by going to the book fair.  The school/librarian promote this very, very well at their school!  I've been hearing about it for weeks and the kids have been telling me all about the books they want.  We let each child chose a book - with a monetary limit.  Jonas really struggled with the limit since every book he wanted was above it.  But I came through in the end by finding him a book that was cool and fit our budget.  I think it's something like, "The 100 most feared animal."  Miles choose "Myth busters."  Both boys were reading and sharing what they read on our walk home, as well as the rest of the evening.  Both girls choose some barbie books.  They are pretty (and pretty lame, too - ha).  Since their books were a little less expensive, they also got to buy a cell-phone (or smart phone or who knows what) ERASER.  They are mini, but the girls enjoyed walking home and talking of their phones.  It was hilarious to see them.  But was slightly distracting as we were trying to cross the street.  :)

Anyways, it was a good conference - mostly because our kids are super and so are their teachers!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

the Primary Program

Today was the lovely primary program in our sacrament meeting.  No matter what happens, it just can't go wrong, really.  Oh, except this total cutie Sunbeams girl - who usually sings so loud and adorable - started crying within the first 5 minutes and had to go back down and sit with her family.  Bummer.  :)  But she and her brother sang a sweet duet in the very beginning, so at least we got to enjoy that.

All in all, another cute, sweet program by the sweetest and cutest members of our ward.  As for my kids specifically . . . Emmy was super excited by her part and had absolutely no fear, just confidence, as she proudly exclaimed in to the mircrophone, "Heavenly Father's plan is a plan of happiness."  Perfection.  Miles wrote a 1-minute talk on agency.  He wrote out a talk, then we worked on it together to make it a little better, and that was that.  He did a pretty great job, too, and mumbled way less than I do.  Jonas did great, too.  He shared his line, "The prophets teach us to live the restored gospel.  In Amos, chapter 3, verse 7 we read . . . " and then he opened his scriptures and read.  Awesome.

I had invited our neighbors to come, too - Carol and her daughter Lily.  I probably mainly invited Lily since that is less intimidating to me, but still . . .  Carol ended up working and so we had Lily over in the late morning.  I had the kids watch the Prince of Egypt, then it was lunch, then off to church.  I'm not sure what Lily thought of it all, but she's pretty great and just sat there.  The kids ended up with lots of treats today in their classes and in primary, so that was a good bonus, I think.  Then after church we went out to a friends' house to drop off part of a meal - since she just had a baby.  Marnae used to be in our ward but then moved waaaaay south of town.  So sad.  But the cool thing is that Mrs. Woodland (Marnae) was Lily's teacher last year at school, so we brought Lily along and I think that was fun for everyone.

Anyways, another Sunday has come and gone.  They are not days of rest for me, though.  And I think God was cursing me today as I was "working."  Working on bread.  We remembered at 9pm on Saturday night (okay, Ben remembered) that he was asked to bring in the sacrament bread.  Instead of going out to buy some, he figured "we" (i.e., me) would make it tomorrow.  Which was fine and I totally agreed to.  But then when I was slicing it up - it looked a little doughy and just not perfect.  Ugh!  But apparently the Young Men all thought it was delicious and devoured up most of the extras afterwards.  :)  Also, the bread I made for Marnae didn't look too promising either!  Really!?  Seriously, I make breads all the time.  It was goofy.  But I made Marnae my awesomely famous mint-chocolate brownies, so I'm sure all will be forgiven if the bread wasn't great.

Anyways, this turned out way wordier than I had planned.  Ha!  Here is a picture of my Sunday bunch:
Love 'em!  (Oh and I even made those ties for my boys.  Without my sister's help!)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lots of lots of Pinterest-found stuff . . .

These are a winner for the kids' lunch.  Well, all the kids minus Jonas.  Even Emmy will eat them!  I don't do the mini-size, just regular.  I also do the 1/2 applesauce and butter suggestion.

This was a winner for the boys, definitely not the girls.  Although I had one and like it a lot.  I'll definitely make them again for the boys' lunches.

Ben and I loved this soup.  I realize that soup and bread are now my favorite foods.  If we didn't add the mushrooms, I think the kids would have liked it more.  Maybe next time I won't add them.

We did this on our last camping trip.  It was awesome.  Everyone loved it.  I'll have to make it again in the comforts of our home.  It was fun, though, doing it over a fire!

Another delicious soup!

I've been doing some gift-thinking for the kids:

One of the girls:




I'm totally doing this for our post-Halloween FHE treat:

Lucy's "schooling" activities:
It was fun!

Cute and fun!  It involved cutting and gluing and so it was a winner for Lucy.

We did this, too.  We cut up a bunch of scrap paper - too much, in fact.  I had to help a lot to get all the papers sorted.  But even if one dropped in the wrong place, Lucy corrected it herself and would put it in the right place.

I really do love pinterest.  I end up making recipes more than anything else that I pin.

Jonas write about himself . . .

I love it.

I just wish his older brother would have as good as penmanship and punctuation!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It finally came . . .

Our new Jungle Jumparoo finally made it to our home - a mere three or so months after ordering it!  I showed some brilliance at not ever mentioning this buy to our kids - until today when I told them:  "If you see a FedEx truck coming to our house, you should be excited!"  That alone got them excited.

So way back when in the summertime I had seen a blog showcasing this thing called the Jungle Jumparoo.  I thought it was cool and was a good alternative (not necessarily a comparable alternative, but a good one) to a trampoline.  But the price-tag was $600.  Sorry, but that's a joke.  Then the price went down to $299 because the business is just starting to market these and needed 1,000 orders to get it going.  Still, I wasn't going to pay that.  Well about a couple days after I had seen it online, my mom sends me an email about this - I guess she had seen a little blurb about it on some afternoon news show or something.  She told me she'd pay half.  Deal!

It took forever to mail since the business had to manufacture them all (overseas, blech) and then send it through customs.  As a brand-new product, going through customs took a bit long.  Anyways, it finally arrived today - wahoo!

The kids love it and are all super excited about it.

Oh, and we will inflate inflate the tube a little more.  It was the first time and so we took it easy.  But it can go more.  :)

The first go around.  I'm sure things will get wilder and crazier!  P.S.  It's so not warm - even though Lucy is in a swimsuit.  I'm not sure if it hit 50 today.  She's crazy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

PJ Day for Emmy

Emmy's class earned 20 sailboats.  A class earns a sailboat when another teacher or staff sees the class doing something very good.  With 20 sailboats Emmy's class voted to have a pajama day at school - plus they get to bring in a stuffed animal.  Emmy's been so excited about it - "we have the weekend, then a school day, then it's pajama day!"  I ended up buying her some new PJs because her pajamas are sooooo worn out and stained and all that good stuff.  Fun for Emmy!  She's a cutie:

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Cub Scout field trip

Last Saturday we went on a field trip with our Cub Scout pack - plus some siblings.  One requirement that some of the boys have is to visit a "nature center."  So we decided to go and check out the Butterfly Garden up at Grand Junction.  The other leader had been years ago and brought it up.  She said how it was just opened and there were like 2 butterflies then.  We laughed . . .

Well we had maybe 6-8 butterflies.  Seriously, kind of a joke!  I had gotten online, seen some cool pictures, and even read "the butterflies have returned."  I didn't really know what that meant, but I assumed they were well-stocked.  Wrong.  I had even called ahead during the week to let them know that I was going to be bringing up a Cub Scout group.  Funny.  The place had a "butterfly garden," a "rainforest" section (that had 2 tiny turtles, but lots of cool plants - including a chocolate-smelling orchid), and then an outside cactus area.  Oh, it also had a gift shop.  A big attraction.  All sorts of boys were asking me to buy them stuff . . . and not just my own!  :)

Anyhow, I think they still had fun - even the ones that claimed it wasn't fun. :)  It's just exciting to go out of town with their friends, I think.  So it was still a good trip, just not quite what we had hoped or expected.  Here are just a few pictures:

 The boys trying to get the butterflies to land on them.  None were successful.  :)

 Jonas smelling the chocolate orchid.  Crazy plant!

 Miles . . . standing on some rocks .  . .

They had some section outside by the cactus garden.  It was of old stuff - like all 100 years old or something.  Like wagons, tractors, etc.  I think this train is a compilation of stuff 100 years old.  The boys loved it.  But we had to kick them off because they were getting a little too rough with it . . . my kids especially.

Go Cub Scouts!  :)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Geocaching the poor man's way . . .

We almost were able to upgrade our geocaching experience from a "poor man's" experience to a "poor man with rich relatives" experience this past weekend.  But, alas!  It was not to happen.  You see, we have done a few geocaching expeditions - mostly around town, but a few have been on some hiking adventures.  But we've never had an actual GPS - you know, the little piece of equipment that geocaching is all about?  Oh well.  I wouldn't say we had been successful doing it the "poor man's" way, but we did find ONE this way.

Anyways, I think I had posted about our experience on facebook and my new sister-in law Renee mentioned that she thought she had an old GPS lying around and, if so, she would give it to me.  So, while in Alaska, I picked it up and brought it home.  At first I couldn't get it to work.  But then I switched around a battery, and voila!  Yay!  But this past Monday morning Ben set about to get it all set-up.  He entered in our info and then was ready to go out and have the GPS pick up satellites.  But it never did.  I finally called the company and was told it was too old of a unit and isn't compatible with the newer satellites.  Or something like that.  Bummer!  But we had already planned to go to the Grand Mesa in search of a geocache, so went we did.  (The kids were randomly off on Monday, as well as Ben.  Peeerfect!)

We had found the geocache we wanted to look for.   You can get a lot of information just from the online map and such.  So we knew the general area.  There was also this clue, "When you see the brass, don't trust the arrows!"  Or something like that.  Okay.  So we set off on the hike - a great 0.5 mile loop.  There was snow up there and so the kids were super excited about that.  We got to the top and didn't see any obvious brass arrows.  But there were some signs listing all the lakes you could see from our vista point.  The sign was brass-colored and there were arrows pointing on the sign to each lake.  Okay, so we guessed which way the geocache would be.  Guessed of course since we didn't have a GPS . . . Ben and I mainly were looking while the kids were busy playing in and eating the snow.

So Ben and I looked and looked.  I was bummed we hadn't found it.  But I kept looking.  And it totally paid off.  :)  I found the geocache in a pretty awesome hiding spot and Ben just couldn't even believe I had found it.  But I did!  Wahoo.  We called the kids over, told them I had found it, and had them start searching where we were.  Jonas "found" it.  (I was a little perturbed a while later when I heard Emmy congratulating Jonas on finding it.  She was giving him all the credit!  Man, why do we mothers so often get the shaft!?  :)  There weren't too many fabulous treasures inside, but we did sign the log and I think each child took some junk treasure for themselves.  We left some cool para-cord bracelets and a cute owl necklace.  Fun!

 Jonas "finding" it.  :)

 Oh so exciting to open it!

 Checking out the cache . . .

 A cute bunch.

We ended the trip by hiking back to this lake - this is an annual fall tradition we do on the Mesa.  One of these years we may actually find out the name to this lake.
Good times!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Harvest Time . . .

Well it's going to be cold tomorrow - like a high of 45 or something.  Today was like 75.  Crazy.  Ben was home early today.  Even crazier!  So we decided to harvest our garden.  The kids were super excited about it and it was a fun afternoon:

 The girls are so . . . girly.  They found "their" little pumpkins and would just hold them, and talk to them, and say how cute and little they (they = the pumpkins) were.  So silly!  So mothering.  :)

 Miles is pointing to a "floating pumpkin" as the kids had named this one and several others.  Funny.

Our cute kids with our fall harvest.  So fun.  We'll be trying some fried green tomatoes tomorrow . . .

This is how my kids really are . . .

That evening after dinner we put up a little fall decor, that was homegrown and pinterest-inspired:
Yay fall!