Monday, October 27, 2008

Neighborhood Halloween Carnival

We have such great neighbors and we feel so lucky to live where we do. We have a lot of really great families on our street. For the past 7 years we have done a Halloween Carnival on our street where the kids dress up and go from garage to garage for a different activity, craft, game, etc. It is one of the highlights of Fall for our kids. This past Friday it was time for our Neighborhood Carnival again. Although we had a smaller crowd this year, the kids still had a blast. My favorite is the donut eating game, but I think the Pinata is always the favorite of the kids. Bayden had an interesting tactic for the donut game. He would just grab the string with the donut and shove it in his mouth and then hurry down the line to see if he could find another. It was hilarious to watch and he ended up eating about 1 dozen donuts, nice!

My crew went as, can you guess? That's right the characters from Harry Potter! Ron Weazley, Hermione Granger and Harry Potter were the older three and Gracie chose a bunny this year and Bayden a monkey. For our church party, Bayden will be Curious George and Mark has finally agreed to go as the Man in the Yellow Hat! I'll make sure to get some pictures on Thursday of that one. Mark and I had a party after the Carnival that we went to. Of course we are so lame when it comes to costumes and every year at 4:00 we are scrambling for something. This year we went as those annoying sign spinners that you see on every corner on Saturdays. We were totally making ourselves laugh, self-entertainment at its best.


Working on White

So last week McCall submitted her entry's for the reflections contest. This years theme, WOW! She decided to take a picture of Parker practicing the piano and entitled it "Working on White". Here is her artist description of what inspired her art that she had to write:
"I was inspired to take this photograph because I have to work hard and practice on the white keys of the piano everyday. I wake up every day at 6 o’clock so I can practice for an hour before school. It’s hard work, but when I finally understand a piece, I’m amazed at what I can do! I can play fast symphonies and calm waltzes. It’s hard work, but in the end I’m always glad that I worked hard so I can enjoy the beauty of the piece. To me “WOW” is a great word to describe my mastered pieces. I titled my piece “Working on White” because WOW is an acronym for the title!

I came home from taking Parker to soccer the afternoon before it was due and she surprised me by handing me a piece of paper and saying, "I also wrote this poem to enter in the contest." I realize that I'm her mother and I might be a bit biased, but I really thought it was amazing. It is the best when she reads it because she does it with such feeling and emotion. I was super proud of her and wanted to copy it here, so we have a record of it somewhere. I hope you enjoy it too!
The Wow's of Nature
Wow is what I use to describe a colorful rainbow,
A sea of red, yellow, and orange leaves on a grassy hill,
I use it to describe the towering waves of the ocean.
A bolt of lightning crashing across a midnight purple sky;
Wow is what I say when I gaze up at the bright stars overhead.
It is a sheet of white snow covering everything in sight,
It describes the devastation and rebirth nature can create.
Wow is what I say when I reach the top of a mountain peak;
It describes a beautiful sunset filled with orange, pink, and purple,
The chirping of birds on an early spring day.
It is the tip of a funnel cloud making its way towards Earth,
It’s how I feel as I look out across the vast ocean.
Wow describes many of nature’s wonders and surprises.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

McCall Turns 10

This past week McCall turned 10! I can't believe it has been 10 years since she was born. A few weeks ago she had a school project due which was a timeline of her life. We had to list 6 events for each year of her life along with photographs. It was such a fun project to work on together (except for the last day when our printer broke and I was so frustrated I was in tears). It made me so nostalgic and grateful for a such a sweet little girl to have in my life.

So Tuesday the 7th was her actual birthday. She had a great day, but I was completely exhausted by the end of the day. Her b-day breakfast of choice was French Toast and Chocolate Croissants with hot chocolate. We were all happy it included a lot of chocolate. After breakfast she opened up her gifts and then was off to school. She didn't want a really fancy lunch, just a croissant ham sandwich, so that was pretty simple! She did want Jamba Juice for her class treat, so that took plenty of time to make up for the more simple lunch. After school we had her favorite pumpkin bread and she got to have a play date with her good friend Rizal. She got to have a day without homework and piano practice which was perfect for her. Our good friend, Tati came over in the afternoon to wish her happy birthday and watch the older kids, while I took the younger kids to Gymnastics. After the boys completed their soccer practice we had her birthday dinner of Roast Beef, Mashed potatoes, corn, carrots and chocolate chip cheesecake. If you can't tell, birthdays at our house are all about the food! I think that is why I'm always so tired by the end of the day. As a bonus, she even lost a tooth on her birthday.

Opening gifts on her bed, I'm not sure who Carson thinks he is.

McCall hasn't had a birthday party the past few years. She always tells me that it is too much work and not to worry about it! This year when I asked her if she wanted a party, she came up with the same response. I decided she is too accommodating and I would have to throw her a surprise party instead! It was the best! She had absolutely no idea and the look on her face last night when she walked into our garage was priceless. She just kept throwing up her hands and saying, "I just can't believe this, I had no idea!" over and over again. It was so hilarious.

The big SUPRISE moment!

We had 22 friends there to wish her Happy Birthday (next time she tells me she doesn't have any friends, I will remind her of this fact). We did a Spook dinner, where you make up different names for each of the foods, drinks, utensils and napkin. The dinner is served in 3 courses and the kids don't know what they are ordering, they just have to guess based on the made up names. Four of my wonderful friends came to help out and I don't know who was laughing more the kids or the adults. We had one child order jell-0, vanilla ice cream, green salad and a napkin. We also had two kids that never ordered a fork through all three courses, spaghetti and all. Except for the little girl that threw up all over the place twice and who's mom wouldn't let her go home(a funny story for another post), It was really fun!

This is why I find parties stressful...little ones who need you at the most inconvient times.

We finished the night off with some great party games. The icing on the cake was a visit from our sweet neighbor, Debbie Palumbo who moved away last year to Minnesota. She was in town visiting for the weekend and she stopped by for a visit. It was the perfect ending to a really fun night. McCall kept telling Mark and I thank you and how it was the best birthday ever.

Maddie, who didn't order a fork

I'm glad it all went well and that it is behind us now. It was so stressful trying to keep in a secret. I was my own worst enemy, I almost slipped up a hundred times. My favorite part of a birthday is letting my sweet 10 year old birthday girl know the 10 things I love and appreciate about her most!

1. She LOVES chocolate!! I had to capitalize love because she really does adore it, just like her mama. We both feel that it deserves it's own food group at the top of the food pyramid...hmmm actually I guess the bottom is bigger, so let's put it there.

2. She is a wonderful sister! Wow, Mark and I couldn't have picked a more perfect 1st child. She is such a great example of goodness to her younger brothers and sisters. She is super conscientious and takes really good care of her brothers and sisters. She is practical, extremely responsible (more so than Mark and I combined) and has a fantastic imagination.

3. She loves to read. This is actually a love/hate quality. I love that she loves to read because it is a passion of mine as well, but I hate it that she can get so engrossed in a book that she can sometimes block out the entire world (especially when I'm requesting help with a chore). Quite literally if it is a really good book, there could be a small war going on in the same room and she would never know it! Seriously though I love that she is so passionate about her books and that she can summarize them so nicely for me. Although I don't have a lot of time to read at this stage in the game, I feel like I read a ton because of her wonderful summaries.

4. She is very gracious of others feelings. I realized this summer how much I have to learn in this department and McCall is a great teacher. One afternoon McCall had a little friend over and they decided to have a tea party with their American Girl Dolls outside. She had gotten a little tea set from American Girl about 6 months before, but had never used it. She felt like this day was a special day and she finally decided to use it. Unbeknownst to me, they took the tea set outside. About 20 minutes later, McCall came inside with her friend and a broken plate from the tea set! I just looked at her and said, "What happened? I can't believe that broke you just opened it." She replied, "I just dropped it mom." and then walked away. Later that evening, I saw the broken plate and was so bugged that she hadn't been more careful. She was sitting at the table, so I said, "McCall, I can't believe you broke that plate." She then started to cry and said, "Mom, I didn't break it, so and so did! I didn't want to make her feel bad when you asked, so I said it was me so her feelings wouldn't get hurt." OUCH! I felt so bad. I wish I had extended McCall the same courtesy she had extended her friend with regard to her feelings. She is so good about putting herself in someone else's shoes and then doing her best to make sure that no one gets their feelings hurt. I've kept that little broken plate to help remind me of how fragile others feelings are.

5. She is willing to try new things! Whether it is a new food, a new sport, or a new way of doing something McCall is willing to try new things and put herself out there.

6. She is confident. I love that she has her own opinions and isn't afraid to share them in a very polite way (most of the time). I love that she doesn't have to love all things that every other girl loves. She doesn't care if she has the latest fashion. She is happy with who she is and the opportunities she gets to have. She usually doesn't compare herself to others and is okay being interested in things that others may not be interested in.

7. She is smart! She works hard and enjoys learning new things. She does very well in school without a lot of supervision from me. All of her teachers love her.

8. She is not demanding. McCall doesn't' demand a lot from anyone. She takes what she gets and doesn't throw a fit. She rarely asks for anything. This is really nice since our younger two are the exact opposite and demand EVERYTHING!

9. She chose chocolate croissants for breakfast! Thank you sooooooo much McCall, they made me so happy. For some reason, I feel like we can only have them for special occasions, but I should change that awful train of thought.

10. She is honest. I can trust McCall implicitly. I can trust her with my words and my feelings. She doesn't speak ill of others and so I never worry about her speaking ill of me. She always answers honestly even when it may not be totally convenient for her to tell the truth. Sometimes the truth doesn't work to her benefit in the short run, but in the end it has because I know that I can trust her completely. I can always go to her when I need to get to the bottom of a mystery (who hit who first or where did that entire bag of TWIX candy bars go?) and she will always tell me honestly what happened. This is a great trait, McCall. Always be honest.

Well sweetie, I hope you know what a blessing you are in our lives! We love you.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Conference Weekend

McCall watching Parker at his game.

We are in the midst of another fun and busy weekend. Although it has been wet and rainy here this weekend, the kids had a great time participating in their various sports in the rain. There is something so fun and refreshing about the first rain of the season.

Parker came home soaked but with a huge smile after football on Friday night. He was up and ready to go again at 8 the next morning for his soccer game. We don't know what we fed him, but I wish I could remember because he had the game of his life. It was so much fun to watch him because he was always at the right spot at the right time. He was so fast and seemed to have an unending reservoir of energy. Luckily I got to see him score before I had to leave to take McCall over to her game. His team won handily with a score of 8-3...go Lightning!!!

Parker immediately after scoring. He gets a little embarrassed with too much attention.

He handled the ball so well yesterday, this play in particular.

McCall's team had a big game facing their rival of many years. She had been excited about the game all week. She too had a fantastic game. It was such a great game to watch because both teams were so evenly matched. I found myself, along with the majority of the other parents, not able to sit but ended up pacing the field. Technically her team was totally on! They executed some great plays and were excellent with their passing and ball handling. We were thrilled when her team was victorious with a 1-0 score. Although the score doesn't reflect it, these girls played their hearts out and it was one of the most exciting games I have ever seen.

It was cold and wet. McCall trying to keep Carson warm.

McCall playing left midfielder taking the ball up the field

Carson and Gracie

I wasn't able to attend Carson's game, Mark reports it was equally as great. Carson plays with a really sweet group of boys. They are great little soccer players. He works hard, but things don't come as naturally to him as some of the other players. Carson wants to score a goal so badly, but this hasn't happened yet. Before he left for his game yesterday he came up and told me that he had already prayed twice that he would make a goal in his game! It's like a dagger to the heart each time he tells me this and then it doesn't happen. It's hard to see him want something so badly and work so hard for it, but not have it come to fruition. Mark said he was really hustling and putting all of his effort into it, but it just wasn't his day. I just try to explain to him that all positions are important and necessary for a team to do well.

Carson giving it his best shot.
He loves playing goalie

When we weren't playing soccer yesterday, we were able to catch some of our church's General Conference. It was great! We played a fun little game and our kids actually ended up listening to several talks! Never underestimate the power of sugar! We got Booed on Friday night, which is always one of our kids favorite things about Fall! It put them in the Halloween mood so much that they made a spook alley for Mark and I on Friday night.

Spook Alley Participants

Conference kids. We had two friends Aidan and Clara who joined us.

Tonight we are excited to attend one of our best friend's baptism, Devry Millett! Many of our neighbors and friends will be there, so it will be a nice way to complete our weekend.

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's official

Well although I hate to admit it, I guess Summer is officially over. I realized it today when the first rainstorm blew through town about 1 hour before the big homecoming parade. I'm a big summer girl and I would be perfectly happy in a location where it was 85-90 degrees year round, but this is not meant to be. This summer we made a lot of fun memories and I didn't keep a very good record of them for the old journal, so this is my attempt at preserving a few memories. We got chatting tonight and we came up with a top 10 list of our favorite things about this past summer in no particular order along with a few pics for us to remember (It's long, so brace yourself):

1. Swimming. With swim team and swimming with friends we usually ended up swimming twice a day and believe it or not we never tired of it. In particular they loved swimming at our friend Tati's house. I think it must have been the fresh baked cookies she made every single time they came. Unfortunately towards the end of summer and during her potty training, Gracie left her mark on that pool, which resulted in it being closed for a day or two. I still feel bad about that one.

You would be hard pressed to find two closer friends than these two. I love watching them together.

Nothing touched my heart more this summer than watching this little guy compete in swimming. He really is my hero.

Parker waiting at the blocks.

This was the race that McCall set her personal best for backstoke for the season. She was super EXCITED!!!

Immediately following the race and finding out her time.

2. Gracie and her swimsuits. Even though summer is gone Gracie and her swimsuits live on. I dress her every morning, but usually by 9:00 she has changed into one of her swimsuits. I worry she may feel that she has a future calling for pageants (oops, I mean scholarship program) or something because she loves walking around in a swimsuit both at our house and anywhere else our errands or life might take us. I've given up the battle and let her wear them.

Her favorite at the beginning of the season.

Her favorite towards the end of the season
She dressed this one up with a tutu, but don't be fooled it is still a swimsuit.

The Disney princesses are always a big hit with her.

Love this little sweetie

3. A new cousin to love. We anxiously awaited the birth of the next Pulley cousin. A huge shout of joy when out when we heard that Klein Allister Pulley had safely arrived on July 10th! We think he is just about the cutest little thing around. Now if we could get them to move to Cali, so we could love on him in person. Luckily we have Marina's new little sweetie Naomi Jane who lives really close by. She joined the family in August and unfortunately I don't have a pic of her, so you'll just have to trust me when I say she is beautiful.

Klein Allister (Cutie Pie) Pulley

4. Finding out about 3 new cousins to soon to love. We all jumped for joy when we found out Aunt Michele and Aunt Haley were both expecting. We had to do double jumps a few weeks later when we found out Michele is expecting twin boys. (look for pics in Dec. and Jan.)

5. Tahoe, Tahoe, and Tahoe: Yes, our little Heaven on Earth! Lucky for us we got to escape there three times this summer which meant triple the fun. We biked, ate, hiked, golfed, fished, ate, created forts, took long walks, hunted for golf balls, got visits from bears, ate, swam, lounged on the beach, played games, went on treasure hunts, kayaked, ate, watched movies, read books, explored, did crafts, cooked and had the most wonderful time all with good friends!
Anything goes with Gracie and well today we couldn't even get her to wear a swimsuit. It was great having little miss "whitetrash" scooting around the little country club community.

Give this boy water and sand and he can play for hours.

Big breakfast's are a must everyday in Tahoe. This morning it was pancakes.

Sweet McCall stealing a few quiet moments down by the lake one morning.

One of many early morning fishing expeditions.
Our good friends the Hersams whom we love so much!
Ever wonder how many people you can fit on one golf cart?

Our record 11!!! Here is a pick of a smaller expedition.

We only lost one the whole summer! You learn pretty quick to hang on,

especially on Mr. Toad's wild ride.

I know, Bay should be wearing a helmet. Mark with two of his loves (his bike & his Bay)

I love this little angel face and love this pic of him. Don't grow up buddy.

A really great way to wear kids out before bed. Golf ball hunting on the golf course.

A really great way to get kids inside the house to get ready for bed.
We discovered this guy one night out the back door while we were grilling dinner.

Bayden was so sad it was time to go in, you can see the tears in his eyes. He is a happy soul though and I got him giggly so hard he had to stop crying.

6. Spending time with family. Not only was it fabulous all of the time we got to spend together as an immediate family, but we also got to see some extended family as well. We all were lucky enough to see two of my sisters for the weekend in L.A. McCall was then spoiled by Aunt Mindy who flew her to Salt Lake for a very special cousins/Aunt weekend. McCall got some really fun one on one time with all of her Pulley relatives in SLC. In August we got the great pleasure of having the Jones Family head our way for a visit. It was so much fun to have them here and our only complaint is that it wasn't for longer. My kids worked on posters all day for their big arrival. We are hopeful to have more visitors coming our way soon!!!! We also went to some fun outdoor movies with our McLeod/Eyre/Vassallo cousins. Some of our funnest memories.

Carson was so proud of this banner he made for the Jones Family.

Bayden was so proud of himself for getting in the water bucket.

Parker and Ian playing Star Wars.

Carson fell in love with Abby and Taylor.

7. Spending time with great friends. Our summer wouldn't have been complete with all of our good friends who make everything so fun. We had a great time with our local friends swimming, going to movies, berry picking, playing games, BBQ's and going water skiing. It was a special treat this summer to also hook up with so many dear life long friends. We got to spend a nice weekend with our good friends the Harris' in S. Cal. It was so fun to watch our kids play together. Later in the summer, Mark and I got to meet my dear friend and roommate from college, Caroline for dinner in Berkeley. It was such a great night and the food was so delicious (a very important thing for both of us), but spending time with her was the best. Please move back soon Caroline. We got to spend exactly 14 hours with two of our favorite people from Las Vegas, Eric and Laura Reimschiissel when they came back to California for a friend's wedding and stayed at our house. We worked so hard to make them want to move back, but that darn Eric is so stubborn and actually thinks having a job you enjoy is good idea.
Finally, we all got to join my best friend since Kindergarten and her whole family for a 40th Anniversary celebration for her parents. It was so great to see Lisa and her two gorgeous little girls. I wish I had a picture of them. I was so excited to see her I forgot to take pictures. It was also so great to be with her parents and brother again, just like old times. I just love that family.

8. Our garden. Never get bored of this baby. We still looooooove the garden. This year we planted tomatoes, jalapenos, sugar peas, green beans, cantaloupe, red peppers, green peppers, sweet peppers, green onions, squash and basil. I learned a little late that sugar peas need a trellis to grow up, but we were able to salvage a few pickings worth. The kids never get bored of the magic of watching something grow from such a tiny little seed. Mark and I never get bored over the fact that we actually kept the garden alive :-) We call it our little patch of Heaven. It is just such a fun thing! Every morning the first thing we do is head out to the garden to see what has grown. I love to hear the kids squeal when they have discovered a cantaloupe or so fun. Gracie is our star tomato picker and Bayden is our star vegi destroyer. He likes to pick anything he can get his hands on ripe or not.
The sweetest and most delicious cantaloupe.
We had a few too many of these, I ran out of things to make with them.
We had so many tomatoes I actually had to can them. It took 3 5 gallon buckets of tomatoes to fill 12 quarts.

9. French Silk Pie. You all knew there would have to be atleast one food item on the list. This summer we found a life changer. That's right, this baby was immediately adored and loved by all. Louise Hall's fabulous French Silk Pie. This recipe is a total gem and so is she! I should ask her if it is okay to share the recipe with the masses because it is seriously sooooooooooooooooo divine! I don't consider myself a pie loving girl, but all seven of us clamored for the crumbs in the pie pan when it came to this one.

Yes, the face says it all. Bay patiently waiting for his pie. This is the same look we all had.

10. Misc. We came to the conclusion tonight that there are so many things we love about summer we can't just keep it to 10. Here are a few other misc. things that made it to the list: We love a few unstructured days, a good summer read, big breakfast, bike rides around the lake, playing in the backyard, the summer reading program at the library, no homework, no packing lunches, picnics, playing at the park, outdoor movies, reduced therapy schedule, fresh fruit, milkshakes, snow cones, farmers market, Combi Lake, eating outside, jumping on the trampoline and watching CARSON LEARN HOW TO RIDE A BIKE.

Well I told you it was long, but it was a great trip down memory lane for me. The Fall isn't so bad. In fact, ours is shaping up to be pretty great so far. More to come later, got to get some sleep before our weekly soccerfest begins at 8 tomorrow!