Monday, April 27, 2015

Kid Updates

Briggs: My intention was to always do a "monthly update" on Brigham individually because babies change so fast. But here he is at 8 1/2 months and I don't think I've done it once. But Briggs is seriously such a delightful baby. He is the best eater in the world, I'm convinced. Lately, he does this hilarious thing in between each bite where he opens his mouth big and huffs and puffs and squints his eyes shut, waiting in great anxiety and anticipation for you to PUT THE NEXT SPOONFUL IN! hahaha He's the funnest kid to feed and I get to do it 3x a day. It's awesome. He loves his pacifier and it's the nicest thing in the world that he'll take it. None of my other kids did. He has 4 teeth (2 top and 2 bottom), and 2 more making their way through. When he gets excited he bounces his body up and down and slaps my chest. He is a little slower physically because of his size, but he's getting there. He's SO close to crawling. He army crawls and scoots and rolls and really gets all over where he wants. But actual crawling hasn't happened. He does a lot of planking and where he's on his hands and toes and has his bum sticking up in the air. We all laugh every time he does it. He can go from the floor to sitting by himself too which is nice. I find it absolutely impossible to keep my floors clean for more than 2.4 seconds so I don't know what we'll do when he is actually crawling and putting everything in his mouth. Thankfully it's a team effort and the kids are good about noticing if he pops something in that's small or gross. He's very content and is so happy to just be on the floor by himself playing with whatever he can reach. He's so patient and is easy to take places. I feel like he's a totally different baby than the first 5 months of his life. Well maybe not totally different, because I would get glimpses of this sweet, happy boy and I knew that was his nature. I could tell that's what he wanted to be and would be if he wasn't hurting or have an upset tummy all the time. But we're there now and just so grateful for the joy and sweetness he's brought with him into our home. He loves all his siblings so much and they're crazy about him too.

Kelsey: Oh Kelsey. My friend at church yesterday saw a little struggle I was having with her as she insisted it was time to go to nursery and sacrament meeting wasn't over yet and got very upset. She told me that they call 3 year olds "three-nager's" now haha. I thought it very appropriate. She went to her first birthday party two days ago, and it was "Sofia the first" themed. She was so excited about that and carried around the beautiful invitation for 2 weeks until the day of the party. She still won't or can't say her "S" sound, which makes some really funny words. Madison is always the interpreter for when I can't figure out what she's saying. I will be having Kels repeat something over and over and trying to guess what she's saying and Madison will just pipe up... "She said _______!!" and be totally right. It's hilarious. Really their whole relationship is hilarious. Madison really likes to be the nurturer and take care of people, that's her personality. and Kelsey really likes to be the baby or the victim and be taken care of. So it works out great for both of them. But sometimes it's problematic. I will get after Kelsey or be trying to make her do something (like clean up or whatever) and she'll just pout and run to Madison for comfort, really thinking that she won't have to do anything with her, since Madi's her second mom and all. When we were gone in France I know that was a hard thing for grandma Weston too. Kelsey wouldn't let her help with anything! Madi helped her get dressed, find shoes, eat, everything. She really is such a ham though and pulls the funniest faces. She likes to make us all laugh and she can get away with almost anything with her daddy. She'll say "I just wanna nuggle you!" Which means "snuggle", and it's so darn cute you have to give in when she says it.

Madison: My big Madi girl is 4 going on 14. She acts very mature for her age and often gets along best with kids that are older than her. She is smart as a whip and continually surprises me at what she already knows. "School" things come very naturally to her, and she's picked up on a lot of things that Brynlee didn't learn all that long ago. She loves to be included in our learning each day. They certainly have different talents and strengths. She is still terrified of the chickens, loves to be my helper in the kitchen more than anyone else. She also has a little speech impediment where she doesn't say her "R's" correctly, and it's adorable. She has the sweetest little voice and a sensitive spirit. Although I must say of all my kids, Madison is hands down the one with the strongest will. Thankfully she's not often very defiant, but when she wants to go against you, she is by far the most stubborn. Always has been. I could give lots of examples but one time, I mentioned in another post that I went on a run with Brynlee as she rode her bike next to me. Well madison wanted to come so badly, but I know she's not at a level of bike riding where we could do that. So I made her stay home with everyone else. She was so disappointed and rode with us down the street and then turned around and went back home. I thought she would just go back inside. Imagine my surprise when 30-40 minutes later we get back and she's STILL outside waiting for us. She hadn't gone in once, even though it was cold and windy outside. I felt awful. So I went on a little run with her just staying in our neighborhood to make her happy. But that's her; she will not forget and she will not let go. Thank goodness for her sweet temperament or we'd be in a world of hurt. (I'm recalling her 1 year old self--yikes!)

Brynlee: Bryn loves to show love for people. She's always making people cards/pictures/creations and giving it to them. She believes she's a great artist, and I certainly agree. All her pictures are so sweet and heartfelt. She loves music and the piano and will just sit down and play it often, trying to pick out songs she hears. She begs me to put her in piano lessons, and I will as soon as our piano teacher allows it. She's pretty strict with their ages and when she'll start kids. The other morning I had put Madi and Kels in the bathtub and was downstairs feeding Briggs breakfast and getting him changed and dressed. When I got back upstairs to finish washing the girls, Brynlee had already done it! She had washed their hair, helped them get out and dry off and get dressed! That's my sweet Bryn. She doesn't have to wait to be told to do something. She's good at helping out when she sees a need. We're still working on getting her to tie her shoes so they don't come apart after 5 seconds, and do her own hair nice and tight too. I'm so grateful that Bryn is right after Tyler, since he doesn't have a brother close by. She can really keep up (and sometimes surpass) him physically. They wrestle and throw each other around on the trampoline and so many times I start to intervene and tell him to be gentle with her. But she's having the best time out there just like he is, so I let it go. She knows that if she's going to play rough with him she can't come crying to me. And she never does. She's pretty tough and quite athletically inclined.

Tyler: Something I'm discovering about Tyler is his love for singing. He sings really loud and proud during the hymns in church each week. We get a lot of people in rows in front of and behind us talking about how they love to hear him. He really does sing well and it's so loud I think people almost think he's joking sometimes haha. I know I have a hard time keeping a straight face sometimes because he just gets so into it. Yesterday the ward choir sang "I Am A Child of God" as a special musical number, but they invited anyone in the congregation to come up and sing with them, and so of course Tyler wanted to go up and he did! I'll have to see if I can get Kenny to stay with him after church for ward choir every week just to expose him to that and develop his love and learning of music. He's still very creative and loves to make things and has all these big ideas. He's been working on composing a piano song. He drew his own grand staff and writes all the notes on it, etc. It's so fun to watch him. He's so sweet and will write me little notes or cards if he can see that I'm upset. He always wants to play "a family game". He absolutely loves Cub Scouts each week and just has a blast with the other boys and doing fun activities. He's the only one that can carry Briggs (Bryn can for only a few seconds haha) and he loves to go get him out of his crib when he wakes up from his naps.

Here's a few more pictures from April I'm going to throw in.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Our Week

Monday night was the end of year celebration for Classical Conversations. Each of the classes did a little demonstration or snippet of some of the things they've been learning this year. It was fun to be there and reflect on what a great year it's been. We are so grateful to be a part of this program and have just met the most wonderful families! Being the awesome, organized mom that I am, I totally forgot to get class pictures. But Kenny got a few shots during their actual presentations so I'll just count that.
 L to R: Anna, Brynlee, Ari, Madison, Riley

L to R: Tyler, Josie, Micah, Zoe, Isabelle

It snowed several times. But the weekend warmed up beautifully and melted it all away. I think it's safe to say we're done with snow for the year now. *Fingers crossed*

These are to try and represent how hilarious Briggs is. He gets excited and flips his arms out and does this Superman thing.

Who dresses this girl anyway? ;) She got a new pair of "running shorts" and wanted to wear them every single day. Most days it wasn't warm enough so she put on her pink thermals underneath. It worked great, don't ya think?

 I have so many pictures of Briggs just like this, all bundled up in his little outfit and sitting in the stroller as his siblings play/climb/etc. He's such a good, patient little buddy.

For several days this week Tyler and Brynlee spent time collecting rocks. There's a huge mound of dirt and rocks that we go to on our walks and we love to play there. They sorted through lots of rocks looking for the very best, shiniest, coolest ones. Of course it's hard not to collect rocks when you're a kid, and I always go home with the little bucket on the back of our stroller full of "the best rocks". Ty got it into his head that if he likes them so much, other kids will too, and therefore they would sell them. :) I certainly don't want to discourage his entrepreneurial spirit. He and Bryn spent time drawing up designs for a selling stand that they wanted to build to sell their rocks. I did draw the line there and told him the card table in the garage would work just fine. Then they took a long time deliberating together on how much each rock was worth. They made teeny tiny little price tags from paper and taped them to the rocks. It was adorable. I told them that maybe we should offer people a free cookie if they bought a rock. Only problem was they couldn't wait for cookies, and I was short on time. Andy and Shalee left for Hawaii this week, so we had their kids come over on Friday morning, and stay the night, and so they were here on Saturday for their big "selling day". They set up the table and organized all the rocks and made a sign. It was adorable. Unfortunately, it was poorly advertised so their only customers were Kenny and I. But they were sure happy and proud of their "rock business".
 The sign says "Rocks for sale. Ther shiny in the sunshine and white in the dark. Plus a free treat." (false advertising lol) That's cousin Skyler in the middle of Ty and Bryn.

We sure had fun with cousins over the weekend. Thankfully the weather was just gorgeous and so the kids were outside a good part of the day on both days. There was all manner of bike and scooter and ball, etc. going on. 

They also collected a lot of bugs for observation. Tyler got some money from his Grandma Weston for his birthday, that he could spend at will. Of course, he chose a cool habitat builder kit thing (from barnes and noble) with different compartments to put bugs, etc. It came with a little bug sucker tool that made it easy to catch them and put them in there. It was a hit!

 And it's fun to let the chickens run around on the grass every now and again. Kelsey crawls after them on her hands and knees, chasing them around the yard.

 Saturday night we got a babysitter for our kids (minus Briggs--he came with us) and drove our nephews and niece to another of their relative's house in Eagle River. We continued on down to Anchorage where we met up with some friends at Ling and Louie's for a "surprise" birthday party for Carmin. It's always so good to spend time with and catch up with our anchorage friends whom we miss so much.
Today, Sunday, has been gorgeous. I taught the lesson in Relief Society. After church we had the Contreras' over for dinner. They're a fun couple. Afterwards Kenny left to go do visits for the rest of the night and I had an almost 2 hour google hangout with my family. It was the last one before Kim moves to Cambodia. Holy cow!

The Chickens and Their Coop

Here's some pictures from the first day we got the chicks (for FHE on April 6th). Also of the coop under construction. 

Really not sure who was more excited about them. Kenny or the kids. Actually, I think I do know ;).

Like I said, the only one who won't come near them is Madison. She has a serious fear of them. Pretty much all animals make her uncomfortable up close. 

 The day we finally got them out of the house and into the garage, but before it was finished.

He's going to totally kill me for posting this. But this is when we had worked so hard to push it out to this point, and then it was stuck. Kenny was extremely determined and intent about MAKING IT FIT. But it didn't.

Brynlee likes to hang out in their with the chickens. She's like the bird lady on Mary Poppins. They're on her shoulders and arms and feet and I think it's disgusting but she just loves it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

It's Me Again

I haven't blogged in well over a month which is a really long time for me! I hate it! First of all I just can't seem to find the time to sit down and do it. There's always so many different things to choose from and I usually end up choosing reading at the end of the night. You know, when the kids are all asleep and I finally have the house cleaned up. So like by 9:30 or 10:00.  But then I just want some time to read my dang books!! But I also really like having a family blog and recording things so I've got to get back on track.

I guess I'll start with this past week since my memory doesn't go much farther than that. :) Some awesome lady that I didn't know started a "running" group for homeschoolers. Not really just running, but I think she's a runner and was trying to find something for her kids to do to be active with other kids without spending a fortune and ruining ever weeknight dinner and killing family time. So she decided to start one and I will be forever grateful. It's for an hour on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. No commitments, you just comment (on FB) if you're going to be there that day and you show up. No cost, not too long, etc. It really is so fun for the kids! And I love getting to know other homeschool families in our community. Several families from CC are also there, so it's neat for the kids to be able to continue to grow those friendships, especially since last week we just finished CC for the year.
Wednesday nights Tyler and I go to cub scouts from 7-8:30, except for when I have committee meeting and then I bring all the kids with me at 6 and Kenny comes around 6:45 to pick them up and switch me cars. They moved me from being the Bear den leader, to now being the Wolf den leader so I'm actually over Tyler. It's a fun group of boys and I'm starting to get the hang of things. They're changing the entire scouting program and how everything works, and implementing it June 1st. But it seems like a much better/organized/simpler system so I'm excited about the changes.
Kenny always has EQ visits on Thursday nights.
This Friday he had work off (which is my favorite). I took all the kids (except Briggs) to the dentist. We just started going to this pediatric dentistry and holy cow it's awesome. I never had such a lovely dentist experience when I was a kid! It's like electronics galore haha. They have 4 wall-mounted tablet things for the kids to play in the waiting room (if they're not watching the movie, of course) and then they pick a movie to watch while they have their teeth cleaned! It's a bit over the top for me, but I guess it makes their jobs easier when the kids are distracted with a movie. Anyway they're all ecstatic about their new toothbrushes and I'm ecstatic because we all walked away with no cavities again! Woohoo!

Kenny worked on building the chicken coop (for the 3rd weekend in a row). Andy and Shalee and their kids came out in the afternoon and we were so glad to have them. Andy was a huge help to Kenny and they made a lot of good progress on the coop. They even stayed over for the night and the kids think it's pretty fun to have a sleep-over. They left pretty early this morning though and Kenny spent almost the whole day finishing up that blasted chicken coop. We didn't think about it before and failed to measure the height of the garage door! So he had it all ready to go and we couldn't get it out of the stupid door. Seriously!! It was like half an inch too tall and just would not go. So we decided to take a break and took the kids swimming at the indoor swimming pool at Wasilla high school. We have been trying to go to H2Oasis since that's what their reward was supposed to be for filling up the fuzzy jar. But it's just so hard to get down there--takes a lot of time when it's over an hour away. Luckily they had a great time at this pool. I have such a hard time watching the kids struggle with swimming or just not be very good swimmers because it's what I grew up doing. Madison feels like it's a great victory when she sticks her face in the water and it's just so different from when I was that age and jumping off the diving board and swimming around no problem. I'd love for them to have more swimming/water exposure. But we live in Alaska. And so it costs a lot of money each time we go swimming in a real pool. There are a few times where they swim in the freezing lakes during the summer, but not much.

Briggs and I didn't go swimming because he has a cold and cough, so I didn't want him in the cold water. But here's a cute shot of him in the bath tub! :)

Back to the chickens...Kenny had to prop the whole thing up with 2x4's and then saw off each of the leg pieces and then screw them back in, so that it brought the entire structure down 2 inches. Anyway, after many more hours and a lot of work, the coop was ready to go outside finally!!! He put wheels on a couple different times to make it easier to roll out of the garage and into the backyard, but the wheels just weren't big enough to hold the weight and they kept like busting out. It was such a headache. One problem after another. Finally, our neighbors saw us struggling big time. Me trying to push one end and Kenny pulling the whole thing up on a rope and hoisting it over his shoulders like Jean Valjean, with these crazy winds we've been having and it's gusting like 30 mph and the doors of the coop keep flying open and we're trying to tape them shut cuz we don't have latches get the picture. Luckily they were kind neighbors (the Ruff's) and had a cool dolly thing and so I was pushing that end on wheels, while the men were at the other end and we got it to the backyard after a while. :) SO now the chickens are outside and there to stay. We will get to cleaning up the garage another time.

But he did such a good job on it and it really looks like a nice thing. If we ever decide to get rid of the chickens it could easily be turned into a fun fort house for the kids, or even a shed (which is a much more practical and plausible option). I'm proud of Kenny for always tackling problems head on. He is such an incredible problem solver and just has the stubbornness of like a thousand mules. I recently re-read the book The Old Man and the Sea and was amazed at how much that old man reminded me of my husband! I was getting so frustrated with this old man and thinking, I would never do this! I would turn my boat around and go home, it's just a dumb fish! Go back when you have more help or you're more prepared. But I realized that this character did EXACTLY what Kenny would do in that situation and I had to laugh. I told him about it and how much he reminded me of that. He said he couldn't tell if this was an insult or a compliment haha! I said, "well it's both, I guess. Depends on the situation." Sometimes it drives me absolutely crazy at how stubborn and bull-headed he can be. But it sure comes in handy other times :).

Oh and when we were moving the chicken coop and our neighbors were helping, she asked if our kids were in bed and I said yeah they are. She said, "wow an 8:00 bedtime! You're lucky!" I thought that was a funny and interesting comment. I wanted to say "there's no luck about it! they certainly don't put themselves to bed!"

I'm trying to train for the Mayor's Half Marathon at the end of June. Kenny's doing it with me and he does awesome running every day during his lunch break at work. But it's incredibly hard for me to find time to run. I have to have it done before he leaves at 6:30 in the morning, or I can't go until after 7:00 at night, and even then we have stuff 3 nights a week where I can't do it. So it's been really hard and inconsistent training. But I'm getting there. I also decided I'm a fair-weather runner. I hate running when it's really dark and freezing cold or when the wind is blowing 25-35 mph. I just like nice, sunny days :). But I don't live in the right state for that, so I'm trying to suck it up and get over that. I remember back when I could just put Tyler in the stroller and go, or even Tyler and Brynlee in the jogging stroller and go for a run. It doesn't work with 5. Although, one Saturday a few weeks ago I brought Brynlee with me. She rode her bike next to me while I ran. We went like 3.6 miles and she did awesome! Didn't complain once and even had a great time. That was fun.

We stopped going to gymnastics as of last week. Brynlee decided she didn't want to go and kept complaining whenever the day came. I thought that was silly and I certainly wasn't going to force her to do it--she was only in because she loved it! But I think it was just too much structured work for her personality. She only liked "free time" she said. :) And really it took up so much time on Fridays, and when Kenny has every other Friday off it pretty much ruined our chances of going anywhere or doing anything as a family. So I thought it was good for the time we went and got us through the winter, but we're done. A lot of things are wrapping up for the year--it's a fun time of change. I already mentioned their CC class was done now, and their Mat-Su classes will be done soon, this next week is their last one.

We started a new curriculum called The Family School. It's an online curriculum put out by the American Heritage school, which my grandpa and grandma founded. They were running this special deal where you could get access to all the curriculum for only $1 a month, until the end of August and then if you want to keep it the price goes up, or you can cancel it. Right now we're only 2 weeks into it but I really like it and think it's been a great thing for our family. It's secular learning with a heavy emphasis on the gospel right alongside it, so it's been good. I realize spring is a weird time to start a new curriculum, but hey isn't that the beauty of homeschooling?! Total freedom. :) You can mix it up whenever you want.