Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hike to Russian Falls

Yesterday we drove down to the Russian River where Kenny has gone salmon fishing the past two weekends. We hiked up to the falls to see where the fish go to spawn. It was really cool to watch them jumping up out of the water and trying to go up the falls. You never knew when one was going to just pop up out of the water and then disappear again. It was pretty funny. The hike was a bit ambitious (2.3 miles each way), but we always enjoy a good activity that stretches everybody and teaches to do hard things. Though I will be the first to admit it might have been a little much for my body. I've been sore a lot lately, just lots of extra pressure. I said a prayer at the beginning of the hike that I'd be able to make it without too much trouble so as to not ruin this fun, family day. I was certainly waddling along extra slowly and painfully at the end, but we made it :). I took a nice soak in the tub with my Deep Blue essential oil that night and that was a nice reward. Of course I can't ignore how much extra weight Kenny was carrying. Always one child, and sometimes two because the little girls would get whiny. Madison had a hard time on the way to the falls, but I was so proud of her for the second half of the hike. She just decided to change her attitude and she didn't complain once! She just held my hand the whole way back. She was counting to 100, counting by 10's, reviewing her letters and sounds, and belting the primary song "The Family is of God" loudly no matter who was walking past us on the trail. It was adorable. I was so proud of her because I know that's a really long way for a 3 year old. If only her older sister would have followed her example :). Brynlee doesn't usually have a hard time but she was complaining a lot about her feet hurting. Anyway, we had a good time overall. It was just so nice to spend the whole day together as a family. 

After the hike I stayed in the van with the girls while Kenny took Tyler fishing for a little bit. There weren't even any fish running, but Tyler talked about nothing else and we knew it would just make him the happiest boy in the world to go fishing with his dad. He said he snagged a few, but didn't catch any. Truthfully he snagged a bunch of rocks, but it sure made his day anyway. 

The drive there and back was so beautiful. It's a gorgeous time of year with everything so green. We stopped at the new Cabela's store in Anchorage on our way home. It was sort of like visiting the Sea Life Center and the wildlife conservation center all at once, but for free. :) Nobody seemed to even mind that the animals were not alive.

It might be hard to tell, but that's a bunch of salmon in the shallow water

Yes I am huge. Even though this pic is most unflattering of me, I want to remember that time with Madison so I'm swallowing my pride and putting it on here anyway. I know I won't always look like a whale. Just for another month or so. :)

Today has been a good, busy Saturday. The sun finally came out and it's been so nice. We ran errands, painted an accent wall in Ty's room, cleaned the church, yard work, house work, etc. I do wish Saturdays were longer. Kenny also took Ty and Bryn to a fun magic show today. Somebody in the ward had won the tickets and wasn't able to go, so she gave them to us. They had a really fun time. Kenny got summoned up on stage (he was mortified) and had to help the magician with a few things. I'm sure it made it all the more fun for the kids to see their dad up there.

Kenny also finished up his time at BP this past week. On Monday he will start his new job at Conoco Phillips, and we are grateful and excited for this new opportunity. It was of course bittersweet for him, he's had a good experience at BP, but it will be nice to have the security of a direct position at his new job. I'm also excited for what will be more consistent work hours. He will ride the bus now instead of drive, which means he HAS to get on the bus and come home at the same time every day. Maybe we'll even have him home for dinner now. :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Fun

I haven't blogged in a while, not really for any good reason. Not a whole lot going on, I guess. Here's some pictures from the last few weeks, most of which have been on instagram so I apologize if you follow me there.
I have a whole lot of crazy pictures of all my kids on my phone. Some selfies, some they take of each other. But they're all so silly.

 Back when it was warm and beautiful weather, we enjoyed the lake

The kids were scooping up water to play in the sand and scooped up this leach!! Ack! 

 She still has occassional accidents, but she's doing great at the whole potty thing. Still wears a pull-up at night and nap.
 Brynlee is always picking flowers. Tyler is a big bug-collector. He likes to watch them interact once he puts all varieties of insects/spiders in the jar. He says "let the battles begin!"

Brynlee made some beautiful crowns out of tree bark, then taped on flowers, leaves, etc. I am often impressed with my kids' creativity. :) Of course she had to make one for each of her sisters too.

 Oh boy we've had a lot of cold and rainy days! Certainly not my favorite. But we find indoor activities to fill our time. These sumo boppers they got for Christmas from Grandma A. are sure fun. Even though someone always ends up hurt :).

 I painted a large rectangle with chalkboard paint on a wall in our game room. It's a fun thing to have in there and they all love it. They like to "play school", the girls even line up their dolls and stuffed animals to fill up the classroom. I love having our own house to do stuff like that.
My mom sent us a package with these adorable matching skirts for the girls, and a beautiful quilt for Madi and Kelsey's bed. I'll have to get a picture of that too--it's so cute!

Kenny taught Tyler how to play chess and now that's all he wants to do! I wish there were someone else around to play with him during the day! Lol. But he's really got the hang of it and he loves it.

I found this taped to his door. I thought it was so cute. He also put up another paper as a "sign-up sheet" and it has columns for people's name, age, and weight. He likes to gather his sisters together around 10 a.m. and lead them in little workouts. These kids crack me up.

Sometimes I am totally stopped in my tracks by how sweet my children can be to each other. They really are each other's best friends, and it brings me so much joy to see them helping each other out and being sweet and kind. Of course it's not like that 24/7. But overall they really have great relationships and it makes me so happy as a mother. For example, Brynlee sort of learned how to ride her bike without training wheels last summer. But it didn't last for very long and she was scared to try again this year. I wasn't able to run up and down the street with her like I could last year, so Tyler just sort of stepped up and filled in. I would get her started off at our driveway and she would ride down the street. Tyler would run all the way down there with her until she stopped and help her get back up and start again to come back. One time they were down there at the end of the street for quite a while. By the time they got back, she was able to start pedaling and go without any assistance, because he taught her. And Madison helps push Kelsey around on her little bike because she hasn't figured out the whole pedaling thing. Or they just jump in and help each other out with their chores, or Bryn gets Kelsey dressed in the morning without me even asking. It makes me really excited to have this baby boy join our family. I know that all his siblings are anxious and excited for his arrival. They will treat him well and be great examples to him. I feel so blessed to have children that have such good souls. They teach me so much every day.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Only a Dad

Only a dad with a tired face,
Coming home from the daily race,
Bringing little of gold or fame
To show how well he has played the game;
But glad in his heart that his own rejoice
To see him come and to hear his voice.

Only a dad with a brood of four,
One of ten million men or more
Plodding along in the daily strife,
Bearing the whips and the scorns of life,
With never a whimper of pain or hate,
For the sake of those who at home await.

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd,
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad but he gives his all,
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing with courage stern and grim
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen:
Only a dad, but the best of men.

-Edgar Guest

Sometimes we stay-at-home moms talk about the sacrifices we make, and how hard it might be to stay home every day with the kids, as if we're the only ones making a sacrifice. As if our husbands are the lucky ones because they get to leave every day. But one thing I'm sure I took for granted when I was growing up, but something I recognize more and more each year, is how much the dads of the world give up too. Theirs is a sacrifice of time with their families. Both equally give their time to their children, just in different ways. A while back, before we fell asleep Kenny says to me, "you know, you can send me pictures during the day of what you and the kids are doing. I check instagram like a dozen times to see if you posted anything." When he said that I realized how much he missed us during the day. I mean I knew he did, but I also figured he was too busy to really think much about us. While I know he is very busy, it doesn't mean his thoughts don't often drift toward his family. It hit me again how lucky I am to be home with the kids and watch every little moment of them growing up. I can't imagine a better way to spend my time. Kenny, like so many other fathers, willingly gives up that time with his kids not because he loves them any less, but because his role is to provide for his family. And he does a marvelous job of that every day. I am so grateful for the father that he is. I'm honored to be the one to bear his children. It is seriously the highlight of the day when he comes home (if he's home before they're in bed). The kids really cherish their time with him, and it means so much to me that when he is home, he is present. He is so good at showing his love to his kids and making them feel so special.  
I appreciate my dad more every year too. He is one of the greatest men I've ever known and I feel so blessed to be his daughter and continue to learn from him all the time. I've never once questioned his priorities, I know that God comes first in his life and he does all he can to align his will with the Lord's. He is an amazing example to me. I know not everyone is blessed with great parents, but I was and I feel so lucky.

For father's day we made a yummy breakfast of bacon, eggs, and homemade blueberry muffins. We presented him with a candy poster, and a "book" (just a stapled compilation) of some cute papers the kids did. They each drew him a picture/wrote a note, and had their handprint on another page, and answered some questions about their dad. They also gave daddy a soft bat and a few new whiffle balls so he can play baseball with them. After church we had the Westons and the Sponsellers over for dinner. Kenny grilled us some delicious steaks and we enjoyed the company so much. It was a really fun evening spent with others we love.
(I'll add some pictures later)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Hiking Pioneer Peak

Saturday, June 7th. Kenny and his brother Andy met at the trail head around 5 a.m. and hiked Pioneer Peak. It was 4.5 miles one way, with a 5,300 elevation gain. It took about 6 hours to get up to the top and 3 hours to get down again. Kenny said it was the perfect day for a hike, not too cold or hot and it was pretty cloudy all day so the sun wasn't beating down on them. They were nervous at how much bear scat and paw prints they saw, but thankfully never came across one. He's hobbling up the stairs like an old man today and very sore, but they had a super fun time and I'm glad they were able to get out and go do that. 

glacier run-off
Hard core hikers 

These birds are ptarmigan. The one above (that camouflages really well) is the female, and the one below is the male.

These little buddies are called marmots and are all over the mountains

Kenny took lots of pictures of all the different kinds of flowers he saw, just because he knew I would like them :). How thoughtful of him.

And that's the knik glacier.

Monday, June 2, 2014

No-Nap Sundays

Since moving, we have also changed church times from 9:00 (my favorite), to 1:00 p.m. (my least favorite). It is no fun for Kelsey, (and often Madison too) which makes it no fun for me. Throw in the fact that I am now the nursery leader (hello 12-17 toddlers with no naps and my large pregnant body), and I come home from church anything but spiritually rejuvenated.
Making dinner after church I looked over and found her like this :)

But it's not like we have anything to get up and going for on Monday mornings, so really it's okay. I've decided that we are going to really get to know people in this ward and take advantage of the last two months before the baby is born when it's harder to get out and hang out with people for a while. So we're going to have 2 families over every Sunday evening for FHE and desserts. Last night was the start of this and it was lots of fun!

There was a huge fire in south central Alaska that burned thousands of acres. We had quite a bit of smoke even clear up here. We've all been praying for rain for weeks and this last week we finally got a lot of rain which was a huge blessing. It also worked out nicely because I started potty-training Kels on Tuesday. So it was nice to have it cold and rainy so we weren't missing anything. We really stayed home all week, until Friday. She did awesome! She was more than ready. I couldn't do it before because we were moving, then it took several weeks to get a washer and dryer. Finally there were no more excuses and it was great! I can't believe how big she is now. She's all grown up and ready to be a big sister :).

Not sure what's up with the face :)
 Other things...
 This is how Madison colors everything and I love it. 

 Tyler lost another tooth! He pushed it out with his own tongue and it shocked him! Haha

Jumping on the trampoline in the cold rain

Teaching pocket-knife safety and the art of stick-whittling

On Friday we went into Anchorage and had well check-ups for all 4 kids. I'm many months behind, I know. But it was good to knock them out in one day. Brynlee and Kelsey had sore legs from their shots but everyone is healthy and growing perfectly. We feel very blessed.