Sunday, July 10, 2016

Aquarium, etc.

 This past Thursday I went to Houston again. My parents are out of town, but Kim and her kids are staying there right now. Cami came out and hung out too and we took the kids swimming. I stayed the night and the next day Kim and I took our kids to the Houston Aquarium. It was once again a little overpriced, but it was something to do out of the house and the kids really loved it. We had a fun time, and then went to Sonic for lunch afterwards. I came back that afternoon, since I needed to pick up Kenny and Ty that evening. We're obviously trying to soak up a bunch of cousin time while we can before the Bakers leave for Belgium. Caleb's there right now on a house-hunting trip.

 Eliza and Kelsey. They have somewhat of an intense love-hate relationship, but I was happy to catch them showing some love this time :).

The favorite part for everyone (except Madison of course) was touching all the sting rays. They're so slimy!!

A few extras:

 I'm pretty freaking huge this pregnancy. I've gained a lot of weight, and I'm also dealing with my hands and ankles/feet swelling a lot which is new to me. I've never had that in all my other pregnancies and I don't like it! I guess it's from all this heat and humidity.

 Went on a fun ice cream date with this cutie a while back.

 They love to color
Washing Cato in my shower

4th of July!!

This wasn't on the 4th of July, but I need to throw this in here. One day I went down to Houston and met my mom and Kim and kids at the Miller Outdoor Theater. They do a lot of free concerts/plays for children throughout the summer. This one was a bunch of youth musicians. It was awesome to see them all perform--they are so good! It was just under an hour long, so a good amount of time for the kids. Then we went over to the little picnic tables in the shade and ate our picnic lunch that we brought. We went back to Grandma's house afterwards and went swimming, of course. Then dinner and drove back home. A fun outing for the day!

Independence Day!!
That morning I dropped Kenny and Tyler off at the church, as they were leaving for the week on a campout. Kenny had to go for Young Mens, and a couple boys weren't able to go last minute so there was extra room, which meant Tyler got to go along! More on that later though. 

The Bakers had driven to our house the night before and spent the night. Monday morning we made a delicious breakfast of Texas shaped waffles with fresh berries and homemade coconut syrup. YUM! It was so good. Kim and Caleb were so fun to play kickball with all the kids outside in the blazing heat. We swam a lot off and on that day, and just hung out. I was really wishing Kenny were here at dinner time when I nearly ruined our awesome meal with my horrible grilling. But they were kind and wouldn't admit that the BBQ pork chops were under-cooked and the vegetable kebabs needed more time too. Agh! It was embarrassing. But oh well. We had a yummy American flag fruit pizza for dessert which was fun. Caleb gave a great little lesson on why we celebrate Independence Day, and told the story of George Washington crossing the Delaware River. Then they played some football while we waited for the sun to go down so we could do fireworks. We didn't have any big extravagant fireworks, but we had fun anyway. And plus our neighbors were putting on quite a show too, so we didn't miss out too bad. :) Once we were all sufficiently covered in mosquito bites and ran out of sparklers, we called it a night. What a great day we had, though. I am so proud to be an American, even if the near-future does look bleak. I am always so inspired by the founding of this great nation and what we stand (stood) for, and what we have accomplished because of the principles of freedom and good morals. May we ever fight to preserve that!

 Briggs was super scared of the fireworks (especially the loud ones). He kept crying and clinging to me and going inside the house. But he came back out for sparklers :).

June Fun with Cousins

This cute picture was from Father's Day, June 19th. We sure love this guy. I'm so glad he's the father of our children. They're all totally crazy about him, and he takes his roles very seriously, which I'm grateful for.

This is really random but every night we have 3 or 4 little lizards on our bathroom wall. It's sort of fun and weird entertainment for me and Kenny. As we brush our teeth we watch them catch and eat the bugs that come because they're attracted to the light. 

I bought some poster maps to hang in our school room. Kenny hates when I just put posters on the wall. He thinks it's tacky, so he quickly made some little frames for them. :) 
Now on to the fun part: COUSINS!!
We have been so lucky to have so much cousin time this summer, and it's not over yet! My sister, Kim, and her family are in the US for a little while in between Cambodia and Belgium. They have been travelling all around visiting family, and are ending up spending a lot more time here in Houston than they originally planned, as different things are getting delayed. We're not complaining at all! They had stayed with the Webbs in NM on their way down from Utah, and so they caravaned together down here. One day we had fun making tie-dye t-shirts! The kids all loved making them and wearing them and they look cute. We went to see the movie Finding Dory and most of them wore their shirts. It was a cute movie too. Thanks to us taking up two rows and lots of popcorn/candy, Briggs didn't leave the theater. He just wandered around and ate a lot, going back and forth between me and Grandma.

We spent a couple days in and out of Cami's house. Steph and I and our kids stayed at Cami's, while Kim and her family stayed with my parents. 
One time the kids put on a little art show for us. They all did their art work, and then we hung it up all down the hall and they each stood in front of their piece as the adults toured it and admired all of their talent ;). Cute kiddos.

It's really hot so of course we mostly just swim a lot!! Cami's neighborhood pool is way fun with slides, a kiddie pool area, and a splash pad. Plus the playground!

These 3 girl cousins all born within a couple months of each other. Millie, Kelsey, and Eliza.

 Grandma is so fun and is always playing with the kids

 Pizza dinner at the pool

Then we moved the party out here to our house for the weekend! We went to Gator Country one day. It's really close to our house, and one of the few things to do around here. It's run completely by rednecks and interns haha. But the kids loved it (all except for Madison. You will notice she is either not in the pictures, or she's plugging her nose and refusing to touch the animals. She didn't want to smell, see, or touch anything! It's so funny to me how different my kids can be.) They got to hold and pet different kinds of snakes, lizards, and alligators. It was pretty overpriced for what it was, but I'm glad we had the experience :).

On Saturday night Steph, Kim, and I decided to drive back to Houston and hear my dad speak at Stake Conference. He's the Stake President in Houston and we'd never really seen him in action! So once we got the approval from Kenny and Caleb, we left them in charge of all the kids and took off for a super fun night together. We got there in time to enjoy the whole adult session, then we all went out to eat at Chili's afterwards. Then of course stayed up late into the night talking. It was such a rare and unique opportunity for us to be together without any kids and we soaked up every bit of it. I sure love my parents and I'm so grateful for their righteous examples. The next morning we waited anxiously for the rest of our crew to arrive. This is the first time Kenny's had to get all the kids ready for church by himself, not only that but they also had to drive an hour and a half to come join us for the rest of Stake Conf. They all walked in literally as it was starting, and I tried not to be embarrassed at the state of my daughters' hair. But really it looked like none of them had even had a brush run through it haha! Not only that but they walked right up to the front two aisles where we had seats saved. It was a long 2 hour meeting with all those restless little ones who had just been in the car for so long. But we all survived :).

That night we all went over to Ben and Charlotte Allsop's for dinner. It is always so fun to get together with them. We stood around the piano and sang family songs, just like we always did growing up. It was even around the same piano because they're hanging onto my parents' baby grand piano since they don't have room for it in their apt. Brought back lots of great memories. I haven't had the privilege of singing with my family in years and I only wish the rest of my siblings could've been there too. These wonderful family relationships are what make life so sweet. I'm so blessed to have such a great family, and to have married into such a great family, too!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summer Schedule and HFMD

Once we had our house back to ourselves after cousins left, we had a family council over the weekend and talked about the new summer schedule. I wanted to start into our "school year", getting a head start on the curriculum so I don't feel stressed out when I need to take time off. We will be taking it slow and lots of breaks, but at least we're moving in the right direction. I also don't want them sitting around all summer complaining about being bored! I am not a fan of being lazy all summer. I told them that they had to get all the stuff done on their chore charts by noon, or they couldn't go swimming that day. The pool is awesome motivation. I started leaving at 6 a.m. to go walking every morning, and it was my favorite time of day. I was back by 6:30 or even a few minutes before to try to read my scriptures. But the kids are all getting up by then and Kenny's getting out the door. So the day begins. I'm seeing a good change in some of the kids as we've been consistent with these morning schedules. Kelsey, especially, used to whine about emptying the dishwasher every single day and would drag it on and on for hours unless I pushed back on it. It was so annoying. Same thing with making her bed. She would complain that she just couldn't do it and it was too hard, and she needed help. But we've been consistent and it's sunk in that she doesn't really get a choice. She's doing so much better now and does it quickly and mostly willingly! 

Their charts include their morning chores (say prayers, get dressed, brush teeth, make bed, do hair, clean room) along with their house chore. The older three each have a room or bathroom they're in charge of. Kelsey's job is the dishwasher, but she often ends up helping Madison with the game room since those two are the ones who make a disaster of it on a daily basis. T & B also have to do 30 minutes of reading each day, and their piano practicing. (We just started taking piano lessons again this month, on Mondays.) Madison does reading time with me as well.

We start our Family School time at 9:00 each morning. So far it's going really well. We're still getting a few kinks worked out with the set up of our school room, but it's coming along. I really love the curriculum (The Family School online). I still need to do better at incorporating a little math each day so they don't forget everything :). That only takes between 1 and 1.5 hours. After that they're free to do whatever. They swim for hours a day, and I'm so so grateful we have a pool. I don't know what I'd do without it, seriously. 

One activity for school was making a model of the solar system. We were supposed to paper mache and do all kinds of big crafty things. But I like to keep it simple, or I knew it would end up with me spending many hours on something by myself, and they wouldn't really care anyway. So we just blew up different sizes and colors of balloons, labeled them, and hung them up on the fan to orbit around our "sun". It was great!

Sunrises and sunsets are some of my most favorite things in the world. So I love being outside each morning as the sun comes up so I can see it.

Tyler's learning to make chocolate chip cookies all by himself. Next time he does it I will try to stay out of the kitchen and let him do it alone.

They each picked out a little fake animal at the store for different things. The older three it was for finishing some books they'd been reading, and for Kelsey it was for not wetting the bed for a week! She had been doing great and then we moved and I was washing her sheets every day or every other day. I know she is capable though! 

The summer was off to a great start and I felt like we were rockin it! Plenty of time for all of our work and play, things were going so great. In my last post I told that we went fishing with that other family. Well the next day (Sunday), they texted us that evening and said "sorry but we just figured out what's wrong with our daughter, we think it's hand, foot, and mouth disease. Hope nobody in your family gets it." Their daughter had a horrible rash that progressively got worse as we were there. I had never had experience with HFMD so I didn't know that's what it was, and I stupidly trusted the parents. My heart sank when Kenny read me their text and I started praying so hard, but I just knew Briggs was going to get it because he'd been playing with the little girl, who's in nursery with him. He didn't really have an appetite on Monday, which is strange for this big boy. Tuesday his fever started, and that night I checked again and found spots in his mouth. That started this long, hellish week. Kenny's been sleeping in the game room on the couch and I've been up doctoring Briggs all day and night. It's been the worst sickness we've had in our home, I dare say. I'm home from church with him right now. He has horrible sores all over, and they blister and pop and bleed. He is so miserable and the sores really itch and hurt all at once. It breaks my heart to watch him go through this and not be able to take it away from him. He's just the sweetest boy and we're praying it all goes away quickly and that none of the other kids get it. He is starting to do better. He is eating a little bit now after several days of not eating at all. And last night he slept through the night for the first time all week. So I'm hopeful that the worst is over, for him at least.

I was really angry for several days at this family for bringing their daughter and not just being up front with me. They could have easily said, "let's just go fishing another day, our daughter is really sick and was up all night from this rash". But they didn't. It's not just that Briggs is sick, but the timing of it is horrible. My sister, Kim and her family are going to be here in a few days and I've really been looking forward to spending time with them. They're only here for like a week and then they move to Europe for another year. We never get to see them and if this sickness keeps us from being able to spend time with them for those few days we have, I will not be happy.
He just wants to be held and snuggled about 22 hours a day. My awkward, large belly is not very conducive to that but we do our best.

He's all caked in calamine lotion. We do lots of different things to try to give him relief. Oatmeal baths, bakign soda baths, dermoplast spray, this lotion, benadryl, essential oils, hydrocortisone cream for the rash on his bum, etc. etc.

Another beautiful sunset last night after a big storm.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Fishing in Anahuac

Earlier this week I told Kenny I really wanted to do something fun as a family on Saturday. I wanted to leave the house and go do something all together. It seems like every Saturday since we moved here has been a whole lot of working. Which is good, and necessary, but I wanted to get out for a little bit. So on Friday we all worked hard to get all of our Saturday cleaning done, and Kenny got the lawn mowed early too. We were still trying to decide what we wanted to do. Well a couple weeks ago Kenny got invited to go shark fishing by this guy in our ward. Of course, if you know Kenny, you know he was as giddy as a kid in a candy shop when he got to go do that. Just the idea of catching your own bait, and then using it to get a real shark really appealed to him. Scares the heck out of me, but that's just the kind of adventurous thrill Kenny wants and needs in his life. So they went a couple Saturdays ago, but had absolutely no luck. He's been dying to get back. So that was his first (and final) suggestion. He called up his friend Scott again, and told him he wanted to go back but bring the families this time. 
We drove back to their same spot, in Anahuac, (pronounced Ana-wack) which is about 45 minutes from our house.
Our kids had fun with their 2 kids, and I really enjoyed getting to know Ashley too. I don't really know many people in the ward, so I'm happy to slowly be making friends. When we got there it was really overcast and cloudy, and I thought it would be so perfect to stay like that all day! But it didn't and we were all pretty hot and got sunburned, but still had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, the fishing was no better this time. The kids enjoyed collecting oysters or clams (whatever they were), and seashells. And the dads would throw out the net and bring in a bunch of tiny little fish for them to throw back in the water. But there were certainly no sharks caught. The water was so very filthy it was disgusting, but kids never mind that stuff. We were all completely worn out by the time we got home but grateful for such a nice day with new friends.

Tyler was the only one old enough (or capable) to go out on the kayak. He really loved it!