Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dance Revolution

The annual dance festival was today. (See how the last of school week is funner.) Tyler was nice to set up chairs for us to save seats and this year we had a front row view. It was super sunny and Pearl was tired before it even started. She just curled up in her chair.

And most of the time I was shading her with my enormous sunhat, so she did just fine.

I am really there to see one kid. There she is.

I caught her with her friends from class. I really love all these girls.

It was fun to watch the other grades perform as well. Second grade did a minion dance. Check out Gru in the background.

I'm sure you have no idea what song kids could be singing about a fox. It's an ancient mystery. But they did a really cute job.

This one had me stumped for a while. At first I was thinking they were going to perform a song about how there has been construction at the school for two years.

Then I was thinking Bob the Builder, but that seemed a little young for fourth grade. Finally got it. The Lego Movie. Haven't seen it yet, but it is on our summer list.

And then my kid. Here she is ready to go.

They danced to I'm on Top of the World by Imagine Dragons. If you haven't heard it, go listen now. And if you want an extra bonus challenge, see if you can find seven cameos from the cast of Studio C. At least, I've only found seven so far...

I did take a video, but I don't put them on here. Grandma's...if you are dying to see it, I'll send it to you. Happy three days of school left. (Who's counting?)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Means Summer is Right Around the Corner

Can you feel it? Summer is not even sneaking up. It is barging right down the aisle. I am tempted to not even send my kids to school this week. I will. Sheesh. This is probably the funnest (that is a word now, right) week of school anyway. No homework. Field Day. Parties. Incomplete Sentences. Love it all. On the last day they only attend for an hour and a half. What?

(Short intermission)
I mentioned summer. It is hot here. My windows are open. Is there a peacock in my neighborhood? Or do chickens make some terrible moaning noise that sounds like a child screaming?? It is really creepy.

Anywho. Where was I? Oh yeah. Summer. I am ready for summer. My allergies are in full swing. (Bless you parents and the genetic structure you passed to me. Bless you even more modern day medicine for making chemicals that help me breathe again.)

(Medium intermission)

Sorry. We will never get anywhere with these intermissions. This should be its own post, but heidy-ho, I'm in a chatty mood tonight. So. I have terrible allergies. I have a nasal spray that keeps me sane. It is good stuff. But for some reason, (possibly my dad telling me it is a steroid) I am still open to the idea of other remedies. A neighbor recommended MSM. It is a nutritional supplement (with sulphur) mainly used for horses. You can buy it for humans, but it costs a lot more. She just buys it at her local Cal-Ranch and it has done wonders for her allergies. I thought I would give it a go. Tyler supported me, but did some research online. (He is a good husband.) He found this site where they describe all the conditions MSM may help with. Are you ready for this??

Crohn's disease
Ulcerative colitis
Osteoarthritis (glucosamine sulfate has also been shown to help with this, but little effect was seen with chondriton sulfate.)
Heberden's nodes
Back pain
Herniated discs
Heartburn and hyperacidity
Headaches, including some migraines, mostly due to the anti-spasmodic effect and increased blood flow.
Chemical sensitivities
Athletic injuries
Muscle pain
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
Rheumatoid arthritis
Interstitial cystitis
Keloid reduction

Wow! I say wow! The person did mention that they hesitated to list all these things, because it makes MSM sound like a snake oil? You think? Well, even if it didn't help with my allergies, it should help something right??

Sadly, it DIDN'T help with my allergies. Phooey. So, I guess I will be leaving it to the horses. And back to my good ole nasal spray. (Which is already helping. Thanks for asking.)

Okay. I promise no more intermissions.

Summer. Yes. Back on track. Last summer we moved. Complete Chaos. The summer before, we had a nice little system and I really liked it. And it didn't totally fail; bonus points to me. So I have ramped it up a notch this year. We will still have daily activities, but we also have stations in the morning. This is because I have noticed that when kids start the day bickering, it only goes downhill. If everyone is separated in the morning, I think this will bring general peace to the rest of the day. (A mother can dream, can't she?)

I wasn't quite sure how it would all shake down, so since we had a holiday today, I made them practice the stations. Yep, I took away a free day and made them work. And since I am doing that all summer, I didn't even feel bad about it. They should know what they are in for. Check out my well oiled, slightly creaky, machine.

Station 1 is worksheets. The kids really liked these actually. And if I can get their brain gears working for even twenty minutes a day, it is a good thing. (I would like to say that my kids are very creative and I see daily occurrences of their brains working. And many instances where they clearly are NOT.)

Station 2 is music. Two kids don't really do much here, but the other three have no choice. Their mother likes to hear the music and she is in charge. (At least for another year or so.)

Station 3 is chores. If they don't have a chore, they can clean their room. If their room is clean, they can play in their room and mess it up. It's cyclical. I know. (sigh) Not like laundry. That just goes one way as far as I can tell. Down. (I think my personal hell would be doing laundry all day. Wait...that sounds familiar. I just won't think about it.)

Station 4 is reading/writing/coloring. They can do whatever they like. Mostly. This time offers journal writing, or scripture reading. (Seriously, that peacock won't SHUT UP!!) *breathing* (Let's pretend it feels more exotic with a peacock in the background. Sorta.)

Station 5 is computer time. I will most likely make the older kids do some kind of typing exercise. We'll see. Daisy is watching Cyberchase because that is what Pearl did. Usually they are doing something a bit more interactive. (But hey, Cyberchase is educational.)

And there you have it. The stations. And the rest of the days break down like this:

Monday: Game/Activity Day
Tuesday: Field Trips
Wednesday: Crafts
Thursday: Baking
Friday: Movie/Friend Day

I know I sound crazy over scheduled. And I am. But it is way easier to let go of some activities than to suddenly try to make ones up to fill up time. The girls will have plenty of free time too. I am not going to be a summer nazi.

Take today for instance. After stations, the kids played. Some played too much. Hmm....I know I sunscreened three out of five. Where did those other two go?

Oh, found them. Don't judge. We all need a good sunburn once in a while. Or maybe that is what my parents told me every year when I got one.

I did remember that it was Memorial Day. I talked to many of the kids about why there were so many flags out, and we even got one for our house. Daisy has been asking about a flag for a long time.

Tyler took the kids out this evening to see this show.

They just got home. Wow, it is ten. I think I need to get kids in bed. After all, there is school tomorrow. Sorta. One last pic. My flowers are blooming. There are some great things about summer.

p.s. The peacock is asleep.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Surprise Vacation

Tyler has a conference with his company each year. They have always held it within an hour's drive of his work place. But this year they decided to migrate a little farther. At first I heard they might be having it in Vegas. I told Tyler I would miss him, but I would see him when he got back.

Then they changed it to a different location that inspired us to take the entire family. We didn't tell the kids right away. Tyler really wanted to tell them in a fun way. (Which was nice, since I am usually the one that does all that stuff.) He made them individual cards and then put them on the table one morning, bright and early.

Each child opened their card and this is what they said:

They figured out that they should combine their letters. Robyn was the first to start piecing it together. It didn't take them long.

Do you already know??


We weren't really planning to taking the kids until next year, but with the discounts associated with the conference, it made sense to take the kids this summer. Pearl is probably the most excited, and she has no idea what Disneyland is. But if a stranger comes over she corners them and says, "Guess what?? We're going to DISNEYLAND!!"

Luckily, I don't think she will disappointed.

Here they all are in the morning with their cards. They look happy, if not a little sleepy.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Freedom Isn't Free

The second grade Patriotic Program is always a highlight of the year. Ivory was super excited for the big day. She had a speaking part and memorized it very well. You would think after watching this program two other times, it would be boring. But no, I liked it just as much as the first time. (The songs are pretty catchy.)

Here are all the kids lined up before it started. Can you find Ivory? She is the only one looking at me.

I like this picture a lot. During the national anthem, I snapped a picture. You can see the kids with their hands on their hearts, and the scouts doing a salute. But it wasn't until later that I realized the woman on the right is the principal. Maybe I should send her a copy?

There is always a speaker who has served in one of the branches of the armed forces. I really enjoyed the guy who spoke this year. He had some inspirational stories, but my favorite was when he spoke about taking leave. They draw numbers to chose when to take leave. He was planning on getting married and wanted a specific time, but his number was 59; not very promising. His fellow officers knew of his desires to marry, so they started swapping numbers and by the end of the day, he was number 3. Pretty cool. But I imagine there are lots of heart warming stories like that. The army and all other branches are filled with honorable and patriotic people. Thank you for your service.

It used to be that at the end of the program you could take pictures, but now they send the kids back to their classrooms for parents to pick up. So, I just brought Ivory back to the gym so I could get a picture of her by the flag. She is growing up so fast.

And it is kind of tradition to take a picture with sisters. I think I will cry when Pearl is the last one up there, with no one to sit next to her. But for now I can enjoy their smiling faces together.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Space to Spare

When we moved into our new home, we were pleased that it came with more room because we had clearly outgrown our last home. Five kids and all their stuff, not to mention two adults and all their junk can really make one claustrophobic. So I was secretly very happy that we didn't even have enough furniture to fill the new house. Give it time, I thought. Stuff tends to multiply, so it wouldn't take too long. But in the meantime, I was going to enjoy the extra room.

Unfortunately, Tyler and I have parents. Parents who knew we had more space. Parents who want to get rid of items cluttering their own homes. Where could those items go? Why to the kids who just moved into a bigger house. No. Thank. You. Folks. Keep your junk.

I say 'junk' but parents actually were offering quite nice items. Still, I was dragging my feet big time. First to offer was Vicki. She had a list of juicy fruits to be picked from her abode and transplanted to Utah. I declined them all.

Next, my mom came offering stuff. Nope, we're good, I said. Although...I did kind of want the coffee table that used to belong to my grandmother. But it wasn't really an easy object to ship.

"No worries," said my mom. "I'll bring it when I come visit in the spring." Then suddenly she was renting a trailer (which she had never done to come here) and packing it full of stuff. She offered the organ. I said NO. Tyler said that he would like the organ. (sigh). Okay mom, bring the organ. But I nixed many other items.

Guess what? The organ is awesome. Super cool. The kids love it. They practice their piano pieces on the organ and I love to listen. (Now I just need to get Tyler to play some Phantom of the Opera on there.) And it fits quite nicely in the corner.

I repent mom. Thank you for bringing the organ.

Next, let's talk about sneaky Vicki. Recall that Tyler went up to Idaho for Mother's Day. He took my van because he wanted to do some work on it with his brother. My MIL immediately pounced on the fact that there was an empty van with no kids and decided to send stuff home with Tyler. Classic. She sent the grandfather clock. Which I had declined, not once folks, but multiple times.

Guess what? The grandfather clock is awesome. Super cool. The kids love it. The chimes are so fun to hear throughout the house and it actually helps me keep better track of time.

I repent mom. Thank you for sending the grandfather clock.

Hmmm...time to wash the glass.

So maybe I should stop being so stingy with my extra space. I have a whole basement with nothing in it. If you have an item that you feel needs a good home, apparently I have some space to spare.

Oh, we got the pictures back from the Mother's day party. And we put them in the girls' cute frames. I like how they turned out. (Despite the fact that I did not shower that day and trimmed hedges instead. You can't tell, right? Focus on the adorable children.)

Also, I give myself mom points because the other day Ivory came to me and wanted to do a magic trick. This translates in my mind to some activity that will A)Make a mess and B) Probably not work right. But I dutifully got off the couch and even let her use food coloring.

Behold, the upside down glass of water that does not spill. It is MAGIC!!!

Minimal mess and it seemed to work. Phew. Let's not try anything else for a while and jinx it.

Friday, May 16, 2014

S'more Stuff to do at Home

For Christmas, we got this cute little fire pit from Tyler's mom. It took us a while to break it out, but it was really fun when we did. We'll have to make sure to keep a stock of marshmallows on hand.

The roasting sticks we got even further back. (I must have known they would be useful eventually.)

We actually have built in benches where the pit would fit perfectly, but the trees hang lower in that area, so for our first trial, we moved elsewhere. We should live here at least a year before we burn down the yard. (Or the neighbor's.)

Yummy. And the marshmallows look good too.

I admit to being a lazy s'more maker. It is sometimes much easier to buy the cookies with chocolate already attached. I don't think this makes them less messy. It just requires less layers to maneuver.

Pearl seemed to like them.

Down the hatch.

We cut down branches from the yard to use in the fire. Economical and necessary. Things are becoming a little overgrown. This yard could be a full time gig.

June is quite good at roasting them mellows.

Pearl gave me a classic dance move that is mandatory when the camera come out.

Ivory was a little cautious of the whole process. She was a little nervous when one marshmallow didn't make it.

I'm sure it went straight to marshmallow heaven. I hear it is fluffy and white there.

It is always good to hang out as a family. I'm getting excited for summer. I love having my monkeys around.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Few Items of Business

I can't believe how close we are getting to summer. I'm excited, yet daunted. I want to make this summer a bit more special than last year when we moved twice. Really, that gives me an advantage, because almost anything would be better than last year, but at the same time, the girls are getting older and they expect a bit more. Or do they? Maybe I expect more and they are content just to be out of school enjoying the sunshine.

I've managed to keep the once a month date going. Ivory and I went to Color Me Mine last month. (Please don't sigh like that. I told you we really enjoyed that place and there would be more pictures.) Ivory chose the easiest thing in the entire store. We were out of there in less than 25 minutes. (That is a record.) And I think her piece turned out really cute.

We had enough time to grab a treat nearby and still make it home in time for bed.

Our dress-up box has been hidden in the garage since we moved. But Pearl has a friend who begs for dresses every time she comes over. So I finally dragged it out. I think Pearl is enjoying it immensely. Here she is as a fairy with a broken arm.

Do you ever remember a book from your childhood and decide that you can't live without it? (Maybe that doesn't happen to you.) I realized the other day that we didn't have The Sneetches. Or Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Thank you Amazon for sending things so quickly. And it turns out that Tyler was missing those books from his childhood as well. I caught him reading.

Found this picture on my phone, of Tyler cuddling with Pearl. Naps are pretty rare around here, and it feels good to snuggle with a sleepy kid. Where have all my babies gone?

Lastly, as mentioned before, I should say something about the store. It became apparent one day that I was using candy as a reward for everything. It didn't seem like the healthy choice. Tyler and I discussed other options and came up with the store. We stocked it with fun items and gave each a price and the kids can buy the items with tokens. Tokens look like this:

I painted 100 of these bad boys and then later found colored ones at the store. Bless you kind person who thought to make pre-colored popsicle sticks.

The kids can earn tokens for all types of things, many of which they do already.

Brushing teeth
Practicing Music
Writing in journal
Having a clean room

And many others. They can also request items for the store or request tokens for specific tasks. The store has been going strong for a month. The kids are doing a great job, and the amount of candy consumed has gone down considerably. I think it also makes the kids feel empowered. They have plenty of say in how we run the store. I hope this is a system we can keep in place for a while.

That is all our business for today. Happy Tuesday.