Monday, June 30, 2008

Clear Skies Again

We woke up this morning to sunshine instead of a smoky haze. I'm so happy the smoke is dissipating and we can once again go and play outside. Last week was a great week, but can you have a bad week in the summer? Due to the smoke swim team was cancelled last week, so we had a little more time to enjoy each other during the week and it was really nice.



Parker and Carson had basketball camp last week and thankfully because it was indoors it wasn't cancelled. They had a really great time and hopefully they learned a thing or two. I think their favorite thing about the whole camp was getting a new basketball and a Slurpee at the end of the week. McCall has been tutoring our two neighbors for a small part-time job. She was busy with two tutoring sessions last week, so that helped keep her entertained while the boys were gone. She really enjoys doing it and has fun because they are here friends as well. She works hard to prepare special lessons each week to make it fun and interesting for them. She is so cute about it and we are so proud of her for working hard.



Bayden is just a cutie pie. He is really busy and loves to explore everything. He is my number one mess maker just inching out Gracie for the title. I like to refer to them as thing 1 and thing 2. If you are a Dr. Seuss fan, then you get the idea. He LOVES the outdoors and cries every time I make him come inside. On Saturday night Mark took Parker, Carson and their friend Ryan to the Rivercats baseball game. I had taken Bay outside to play for a few minutes and when I made him come inside, he banged and cried on the door for 15 minutes. Luckily we had made Snickerdoodles earlier in the day and he was finally distracted by the treat. Earlier in the day we were able to organize and clean out our garage. Oh Happy Day! It feels so good to have it all cleaned out and organized.



Gracie and I have been busy working on her potty training lately. I firmly believe that Potty Training is one of the WORST parenting jobs! I dread it. I think I dread it so much because all of my weakness with regard to patience comes crashing to the surface. I always try to psyche myself out and prepare for the worst, but I don't seem to prepare myself enough.



We embarked on this fun little adventure on June 7th, actually it was June 6th. I had taken all of the kids to Target late on Friday night. I had to get a birthday gift and we ended up in the toy aisle smack dab in front of the "Fancy Nancy" display. As many of you know, Gracie is "Fancy Nancy" obsessed. She wanted "Frenchy" Nancy's doggy. I started in with my usual speech of "We only get toys on our birthday and Christmas..." when a light bulb went off in my head-POTTY TRAINING BRIBERY. I told her that if she could start going potty on the toilet then I would buy her the puppy. She was SUPER excited and asked me to take her to get big girl panties. We went over to the clothing aisle and she picked out some Curious George underpants. Because we were going to be traveling the next two weekends, I really wanted to wait, but you have to strike while the iron is hot.



The first day was 100% success. Not one single accident. I thought I was so smart to wait until she was older and that she really would be my easiest child yet. As day three commenced and after I had purchased Frenchy for her reward, I quickly realized my thinking was flawed. I discovered that she hadn't gone poop, just pee on the toilet and that she preferred to go poop in her pants-NICE. I really have tried so hard to be loving and encouraging, but the whole process is taking a little bit longer than expected and I'm just a wee (no pun intended) bit frustrated. We had our carpets cleaned two weeks ago (I don't know why I didn't wait until we were through with the training) and on Thursday she just stood there two different times in the middle of the day and went pee all over the carpet. I don't get it. Some days she is great and other days..... I have upped the ante and I have been back to Target for more "Fancy" apparel. She said if I got her Nancy's fancy shoes then she would have no more accidents. I think I might have a mini-con artist on my hands because I think she is just trying to amass more Fancy Nancy Apparel. Oh my gosh, I've created a monster. The last few days she has started negotiating Gymnastic Lessons in exchange for no accidents. The saddest part is that I agree to it all because I'm desperate for her to be trained. At the rate were going Mark and I will be deeding over the house to her by the end of the month. I'll keep you posted especially if we need to start looking for a new home :-)



On a more positive note. We have had the opportunity recently as a family to participate in the missionary discussions with our good friend from Brazil, Tatiana. It has been such a fun opportunity to listen and learn together as a family. Last week we had the discussion at Tatiana's house. One of the new elders in our ward is from Korea, so it was great chatting with him. It is such a small world because Mark new his grandfather and grandmother in Korea and actually was a pall bearer at their funeral in Korea. We had a great discussion last week and Tatiana told us that she wanted to be baptized. She is going to be baptized on July 19th. I'm really excited for her. We will have another discussion tonight. After the discussion Mark's best friend from high school and his family will be coming to stay, so it will be nice to get caught up with them and meet their cute kids. Well I need to run to get ready for our discussion. Hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Heaven

Mark assisting the kids in making a damn.
Parker and his good friend Alex
Gracie loving the lake
Bay tuckered out at the end of the day
Hunting for hidden treasure
Playing in the meadow

When I think of beautiful Lake Tahoe, I think certainly this must be what Heaven looks like. I love the look of the clear crystal blue water against the majestic mountains. I love the smell of the clean and crisp air. I especially love walking there in the mornings when the rest of the world is still asleep. It is just the best and I have loved going there ever since I was a little girl. I have great memories of going there with my family and imagining with my own siblings and cousins. I love going there just as much as an adult and I hope my kids can create some of their own fun memories.

We were lucky enough to head up there last week with our good friends the Hersams. Their family has a great house in Glenbrook on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. It is a great little community where once you enter the gates, you leave the real world behind and enter a quaint little paradise. The main mode of transportation is golf carts and bikes, you don't worry about locking up your houses, everyone is friendly and shares their beach toys, it isn't crowded and best of all the kids can run/ride free exploring nature all around them. McCall summed it up nicely when she said, "I don't worry about creeps up here." It is a very similar feel to Waterton, Canada where you seem to go back a little bit in time to simpler days.

Simple was definitely the theme for our time there last week. Once we entered Glenbrook, we didn't leave for the next four days. We had one or two long lazy mornings where the kids got to help make Blueberry Pancakes and then other mornings they were off bright and early on their bikes with fishing lines in hand heading down to the dock for their early morning adventures. After the breakfast each day, swimsuits were donned and sunscreen slathered on. We loaded up the cooler and the beach bags were overflowing with our favorite beach treats and snacks as we grabbed our umbrella, sand toys and chairs and headed to the beach for the day.

It is amazing to me how long a child can play with water, sticks, a bucket and their imagination. I can't get them to play with one of their many toys at home for more than 10 minutes. We played for 3 days straight a minimum of 6 hours each day at the beach and no one ever said, "I'm bored" . In fact everyone wanted to keep on playing. It was so fun to sit there and listen to them plan and discuss things with one another. Over the course of the three days they made a damn, a boat and their own little village. On Saturday afternoon, they got to take the Kayak out and go back and forth along the shore. They fished for crawdads everyday, but we never got lucky enough to catch one.
After the beach we would head back to the house for baths. Once the kids were all cleaned up we made dinner while the kids played in the meadow behind the house. Saturday night was especially exciting as we were grilling our dinner out on the porch, a black bear sauntered across the meadow. It was so fun and exciting to watch. Each night ended with story time and scripture study on the couch and then off to bed for dreaming of the next day's adventure.

Sunday we all went to church together and then came home for a big Sunday lunch. Afterwards the kids went on one final bike ride while we loaded up the cars. When they returned we had a fun little treasure hunt around the house and lake planned out for the kids. They had such a great time running from place to place trying to find the next clue. It was the perfect ending to a perfect trip.

It was SO great to be away from all of the things that compete for our time at home. No phone calls, no email, no appointments, no practices, no laundry, no cleaning or a myriad of other things. No rushing off to something we THINK is more important, but just spending time together as a family. We play more, talk more, laugh more and the best part is we are all together. When we pulled into town on Sunday night the city was a blanket of smoke from all of the wildfires raging throughout Northern California. The air quality has been terrible and it has been so dreary outside. The smoke seems to get worse each day, I can't wait for it to clear out soon. It is a stark contrast from the clear and crisp air of Tahoe. Hmmm...maybe we should all go back :-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Wicked Weekend!

Mark shopping for some new threads
The Wicked group
Bowing down to Barry
Parker living it up.
Sandcastle building

We were able to escape for a few days down to Southern California to fulfill one of McCall's long held dreams to see the Broadway musical, Wicked. The past two years she has begged and pleaded to go. It was the one thing she asked for last year for her birthday, but I was unable to deliver. Finally, Mark encouraged me to make it a priority for this summer, so all of the pieces finally fell into place and we were able to make it happen.


It was an extra-special treat to be able to have two of my sisters, Mindy and Kim join us for the fun evening. There is something about a sister that makes everything more fun and it was no different for me on Saturday night. Although it was a quick visit with each other it was great to get caught up and have a few good laughs along the way. We had fun grabbing a quick bite to eat beforehand and then stumbled upon a great vintage clothing store as we tried to find a sweatshirt for the "freezing cold" Parker who I didn't pack a sweatshirt for. Mark was a willing and able model as you can see from the pics below. To cap the evening off, we stumbled across the star of one of my mom's favorite singers, Barry Manilow. Frightening enough I have most of his songs along with Anne Murrays memorized from my childhood of listening to my parents music. Whenever I hear their songs today, I'm filled with fun memories. I wonder what my kids comfort music will be? We couldn't resist grabbing a pic for my mom.


Earlier in the weekend we were able to spend a wonderful day at the beach with our good friends the Harris'. Our boys had the time of their lives boogie boarding. It is a good thing we don't live close to the beach because I don't think I would ever get them to do anything else. We followed it up with swimming, movies and smores out by their fire pit. They were gracious enough to host our rowdy bunch and we were grateful for the time we got to spend with them.


Sadly their family was visited with a terrible tragedy this past weekend while we were visiting. Their sweet little niece, Camille passed away in a drowning accident. We were touched by the strength and faith their entire family exhibited and we were grateful for the things they taught us this weekend. It truly makes you so grateful for each moment we have on earth and for a loving Father in Heaven who has provided a plan of happiness so we can return to him again. Please keep the Waite family in your prayers as I imagine the next several weeks might be some of the most difficult of their lives.


We headed home Sunday afternoon, but McCall got the fun opportunity of going to SLC with her Aunt Mindy. She has been so excited about this fun opportunity and we are so thrilled she has gotten the chance to go. I've spoken to her a few times and she is of course having a great time. Parker is lost without her and seems a little blue without his idol around. It is a good thing it is only for a few days because I miss her bunches too.




Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Busy Weekend

Parker sprinting to second base. He has shown a ton of improvement this year.
Hitting a double in the later part of the game.
Parker on the blocks prior to his Butterfly.
McCall at the start of her Butterfly.
Our number "1" husband, father and friend, Sparkles.

We had another busy weekend full of baseball, swimming, Primary parties, baptisms, eagle court of honors, birthdays and piano recitals.

Friday was our first day off of school! We are so happy to have summer here and have a long list of things we hope to do this summer. Friday afternoon the kids had swim team and then afterwards we ran straight to Parker's baseball game. He had a great baseball game and afterwards he had his end of the year baseball party and received his trophy. Unfortunately, Carson and I missed the presentation because Carson had a private swim lesson at the same time.



Saturday was Mark's birthday. He knew in advance that it was going to be a crazy day without a lot of celebration. The kids and I did try to have a few surprises planned for him. I went up to the pool late Friday night and decorated our shade canopy, so when he and the kids arrived at 6:30 on Saturday morning he was greeted with happy birthday wishes from our swim team friends. I made sure there was a big banner and plenty of balloons. I got the littles up around 8:30 and went and got his favorite donuts, maple bars, from his favorite donut shop. We then headed to the swim meet and made lots of friends that day with our donut supply :-)




The kids had a great time at the meet and Mark got the wonderful gift of not having any volunteer job at the meet on Saturday. After the meet Parker headed straight to his Primary Class Swim Party and the rest o us came back home and sent Mark off on a birthday bike ride. I had hoped to give him a 4 hour ride, but we only had two hours before a baptism up at our church, so he had to settle on a ride around the lake. We made his birthday cake while he was gone and tried not to eat it before he got home. Right when he got home, I ran and picked up Parker and then the 3 older kids and I headed up to the church for a baptism. Mark joined us at the tale end with Gracie and Bay. It was the beautiful baptism of our sweet little friend Kaitlyn. Afterwards, her family hosted a really nice dinner (see Mark, I promised you a birthday dinner!). After the dinner, I took the kids home while Mark stayed for Kaitlyn's twin brothers court of honor. When Mark came home with had birthday cake with the Millett's and then we watched National Treasure. After our recent trip to DC, it was a really fun movie to watch.


Sunday we went to church. After church our neighbors had us over for dinner to celebrate Mark's birthday. We have the greatest neighbors. Later that night we got to go to McCall's piano recital. She has worked really hard at her piano this past year getting up at 6:30 to practice before school. She did a really good job and played one of my favorite songs, The Entertainer and The Three Trolls. I'm attaching a video I took of her practicing the week before. It is so motivating to go to these recitals and it put a big smile on my face. It was a great way to end a fun weekend.

video

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Mullet must go...

The original Mullet
The first snip
Notice our secret weapon...the SUCKER
Our Big Boy

Well as much as I hate to admit it Bayden is growing up. He is no longer an infant, but a very busy toddler who finds great joy in destroying things. As he has grown so has his hair. It started getting so long in the back, I was afraid people might think we actually condone ugly "mullet " hair. So although I hated to see his baby curls go, it was time for his first haircut.

Since we were lucky enough to have the very talented Aubrey visiting us I decided to have her give Bay his first haircut. He didn't totally appreciate it, but he allowed it. He looks like such a little man now. Here are the pics from the big event.