Thursday, November 19, 2009

Halloween Weekend

I need to get caught up here, so I'm backtracking now to Halloween. No theme this year which was a sad thing for this "theme oriented" girl. My kids had total opinions and since Halloween is about the kids I decided to let theirs count. The festivities started with Carson's grown-up day at school. He had to choose an adult in his life to dress up like. Can you guess who he chose to dress up as?
I personally thought the jeans, stained t-shirt and blonde pony-tail was a winning adult costume, but he wanted to go as a Bike Shop owner a.k.a his dad! This boy is so full of personality and for a majority of the morning I thought he was actually going as a rapper because he kept making word music noises, moving his hat around and dancing all over the house.
Next I was off to Gracie's Halloween Carnival at Bright Beginnings. She wanted to be a fairy this year and a sweet one she was. She wore those big wings all day long. She had a great time at her carnival winning lots of prizes.
Here is a class photo. She is sitting next to her best little friend Mason.
After all of the school parties were through, we got ready for our Ward camp out/tent or treat. It was cold, so we had to adjust a few costumes to accommodate the weather. Unfortunately we couldn't camp overnight in the freezing cold (can you sense my disappointment) because we had to soccer tournaments out of town in the morning.
On Saturday we traveled back and forth between soccer games. Later that evening we got to eat dinner with some good friends before we went out trick or treating. All the kids had a friend to trick or treat with.
McCall and Marin (Little Red Riding Hood and Witch)
Gracie and Clara (Fairy and Hermine)
Carson and Matthew (Ninjas)
Parker and Aidan (Harry Potter Quidditch Players)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Disney on Ice

Gracie and I got the opportunity a few weeks ago to go out for a special evening together! It was fantastic and she was eating up every minute of it. She picked out her outfit and then helped me pick out mine (I think she was trying to steer me away from my favorite uniform of jeans and a t-shirt). She felt that since we were going on a special date we should dress a little fancy. She wanted a picture of me and her outside the house before we left too. Her restaurant selection was Mimi's Cafe! She really loves the hot chocolate there. It was pretty delightful listening to this little lady talk a million miles a minute about all of her big plans and dreams for the coming weeks and months. A few of my favorites....1) She wants birthday gifts that start with each letter of the alphabet. 2) she would like to Santa to bring her a Fancy Nancy doll with the heart necklace (who knew there was more than 1). 3) She would like to learn how to read, so she can read to all of the boys in her pre-school class. 4) She thinks it would be great if we could sell our house and find a castle close by to move into (good luck with that one.)

After dinner we headed downtown for the Princess Disney on Ice show (I think this might be where the castle idea came to fruition). To say she was thrilled is an understatement. She kept saying, "I'm so excited!" and this is so fun, "just Gracie and mommy." The poor thing, I seriously think it is one of the few times in her life she has been alone with just me. She loved the show and all of the characters. Her favorite princesses are Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, so she was extra attentive during their parts.

The infamous globe toy.

The funniest part of our evening involved a light up globe toy. I brought a light up globe toy from home (you know the kinds that spin around with all of the lights), so when she saw them selling there cheap plastic ones for $20, I could whip mine out . Sure enough, she saw a bunch around and wanted one, so out came ours. All was fine until this little girl came and sat down in front of us with a light up globe toy that put ours to shame. It had Tinkerbell on the top and then these long lit up strings with a princess hanging off of each one. It probably measured about 14 inches tall compared to our 6 inch beauty. The expression on her face was priceless. She looked at the little girls globe toy and then down at hers and got this "I've been ripped off" sort of look on her face and then she looked at me for validation. I just smiled and pointed out all of the fabulous attributes of our little globe toy and the fact that someday she would be so glad I put that $20 in her college account instead of spending it on a cheap plastic toy that would break before we got home! I don't know if she was buying into the college idea, but she stuck with her globe without further complaint.

It was a great night and I loved the special time we got together. I really need to find the time to do this more with all of our kids. Here are a few pictures from our evening, but they got uploaded backwards and I don't have enough time to switch them around.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Showing Up for Wayne!

Parker with his good friend Wayne Spence last year.

Last year Parker had to write a report on Veteran’s Day for his second grade class. He had to interview a war veteran and so he decided on our good friend Wayne Spence! We went to his home in November and spent a couple of hours with him listening to him, laughing with him and crying with him as he recounted stories from serving in both WWII and the Korean War. My only regret from that day was that we didn’t have 10 hours instead of just 2. Parker and I were both fascinated by his story telling and we both gained a much deeper appreciation for our veterans on that day. Wayne was a fantastic story teller. Ten years ago when Wayne first moved to Folsom he noticed there wasn’t a Veteran’s Day Parade, so he set about changing that. He walked down Natoma Street that first year all by himself, dressed in uniform carrying the United States Flag. Because Wayne was so persistent and charming, his parade idea caught on and each year it has gotten larger and larger (it lasted about 90 minutes today!) Organizations from all over the greater Sacramento area come and participate in what is now officially known as the “Wayne Spence Veterans Day Parade”. Sadly, Wayne lost his long and brave battle with cancer this past spring. Parker in particular was very upset over Wayne’s death and I believe it was in part because of the special afternoon they had shared together. A few days before Wayne passed away we went as a family to say goodbye to him and sing songs to him. Parker cried the whole way home and the rest of the evening because he loved this sweet man.

So today is Veterans day and the kids have school off. Although, my tired body was begging me to stay in bed and sleep in, I knew we had to make Wayne proud and head on over to save a spot for his big Veterans parade. As in years past, we were not disappointed. There was lots of military personnel, lots of boy scouts and school organizations and lots of candy. Now if “parade candy grabbing” was an Olympic sport, I seriously think I might have a few gold medalist on my hands. It seriously was an art for my boys today. We were sandwiched in between a ton of kids which doesn’t make for the best “candy grabbing” conditions. Not to worry, Parker and Carson quickly figured this out and came up with a superb (although a bit disturbing) solution. They would both run as fast as they could to the candy and if another child was going to beat them to the grab, one of them would kick the candy in the others direction before the non-Fellows kid grabbed it. I started feeling bad for the other kids and had to squash their gold medal efforts. I actually had donated some candy for the parade and sadly, I think we came home with more than I donated. We are in serious sugar overload after Halloween. Anyway, we had a great time and it was fun to see the difference Wayne had made in our Veterans Day observance and celebration here in Folsom.

Bayden soaking up all of the old guys on go-karts.
Carson and his mischievous "candy grabbing" smile!
Parker liked watching all of the different military units marching.
Gracie got to cuddle on Parker's lap when she got cold.
You can tell by just looking at him how much energy he had going on this morning.
I was shocked that Bay's arm didn't hurt by the end of the parade because he kept waving his flag over and over.
Gracie wasn't quite sure about the whole thing and took awhile to warm up to some of the more interesting parade participants.
It takes all types to make a parade, this guy was one of my favorites! I think he scared Gracie along with the clowns below. I have to admit, clowns kind of are creepy.

Thankfully she was all smiles by the end!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Last Week's Happenings

October is flying by and sadly we aren't finding time for all of our fun autumn traditions, but we've had plenty to keep us going and busy. Last week started off with a trip to the pumpkin patch with Gracie's preschool class. Of course, it landed on the only rainy day we've had in months. Me, being the great mother I am, tried to convince Gracie that we should skip the field trip and go a different day. She was set on going with her little classmates and I can't say I blame her. Therefore, on went our rain gear as we schlepped ourselves to the patch. One observation I made is that the smell of farm animals really intensifies when it rains. Boy, there were some really stinky pigs and cows!

Gracie was happiest when we were inside the barn and out of the rain.
Of course she loved taking control of the giant umbrella too.
Last week was also great because Carson was selected to be the "Star Student" for the week. We have waited long and hard for his name to be drawn out of the hat. On Friday, he exploded through the door with the great news. I looked at the poster with him and thought, we'll wait until Sunday night and make this look really nice together. Okay who am I fooling, I always end up doing it for my kids with very little assistance from them. They are after all the star student and I don't want them to show up with a lame poster and have all of the other mom's think I'm the lame mom. We all know how it goes. Well Carson wasn't aware of this unwritten rule between mom's and he ended up doing the ENTIRE thing himself. I was running kids back and forth while Mark was working from home, when I returned about 3:45 he had the entire poster already filled out.

I was actually totally relieved I could mark it off my to do list and proud all at the same time. He took the initiative and did a really great job, he even picked out the picture of himself from the frame on our mantle and glued it to the poster. It's interesting to me how different each child behaves even though the parenting is the same. Some of my kids would never dare to do something like that on their own and yet Carson would have felt totally stifled if I had done it for him or even tried to help. It's fun to discover these little things out about my kids.

When I first looked at the poster I thought I would have to guide him on the question, "What three things make me a Star." I was a little worried maybe he wouldn't know what makes him so special. I love what he chose to write 1) I've been on TV (I don't remember this, but they say we were on the news in Vegas at the Christmas village with Andre Agassi) 2. I'm nice 3. I'm cool. It was reassuring to me as I sometimes worry about this little guys self-esteem that he so quickly came up with 3 things that make him a star. Here is a picture of his handy work. He is so cute, you can see he tried writing his first name in bubble letters. Naturally, I was proud to hand it in, even if I do look like the lame mom.
One of the privileges of being the Star Student is that you get to bring something that is special to you to share with the class. It melted my heart big time, when he asked to share Gracie and Bayden. Here they are the day of the big share. Bay was running all over the place.

We also had McCall's first Middle School Orchestra performance last week. I was shocked what a difference daily music class makes. I was really impressed with all of these kids and the music was beautiful. No more Mary had a Little Lamb. They played a Korean folk song that Mark remembers hearing while serving his mission there. They also played some other lovely classical pieces. We were really proud of McCall. She is so good to always practice her viola. It was quite the challenge to get a good shot of her because the lady in front of me had big hair and kept moving every time I moved. Add to it the fact that the conductors hands kept swinging down in front of her face in almost every picture and well you start to get the idea.

The cap to our fun week was our good friend's wedding on Friday. Blake is the oldest son and their family is like our second family. His parents worked so hard to make it a beautiful day for the two of them. Aren't they a cute couple? They looked so beautiful and they had a perfect day. I loved the words of wisdom that his grandfather gave him before he married them in the Sacramento temple. I learned so much that day.
Later that evening we got to attend a fabulous dinner and party in their honor. Here is McCall with one of our favorite ladies, the fabulous Vicki Wolf.

The best part of the day was when I got to dance with this little boyfriend all night long. It was one of those nights when I wish time would stand still and that my kids would never grow up. (That was of course until 11:00 when I was trying to get 5 tired kids into bed while Mark stayed to help clean up. Then I wanted everyone to act a bit older)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Golden Gate Invitational

We got the swine flu at our house so I've been out of commission the past few weeks or at least I will use that as my excuse for my lack of productivity. We had a pretty fun September though and there are a few events that I want to make sure get documented.

One of those was McCall's soccer tournament in San Francisco. We turned it into a girls day out together with Gracie, McCall and I leaving early on Saturday morning and returning very late that night. We LOVE San Francisco, so the girls were really excited to head down there. We were lucky enough to have one of McCall's teammates, Annelise and her grandmother Carol join us for the ride down. Grandma Carol used to live in San Francisco and was a total riot, we hit it off immediately. We were lucky enough to play at the beautiful Beach Chalet fields with the beach just across the road from the fields.

I think one of my favorite parts of being a parent is watching my kids learn, work diligently at and then hopefully progress in a task. Sometimes the progression is slower than they hope for, which can be frustrating. However, when they finally see the fruits of their labors it is magical. This has been particularly evident this year for McCall and her soccer. She started playing soccer when she was four and this is her 6th year of playing. She is small and has never been a stand out player. She has held her own and had a few good games here and there, but she definitely had things she could work on. Earlier this year she decided she wanted to try out for a select soccer team. I remember how nervous Mark and I were, especially since we were out of town during the try-outs! She worked hard and made the team.

Practices started and this came with some challenges because she was the new player on a team that had previously played together a couple of years. Some of the girls openly questioned her abilities and although it was challenging she forced herself to go to every practice. She even started doing conditioning on the off days of practice. A few of her first games were hard and again she had some areas that could use improvement and she kept working at it.

Then the last few months something has clicked. All of her extra effort, years of building skills and hard work have come together and now she is good...I mean REALLY good! She has finally discovered her speed and how to use her size to her advantage. She is more comfortable in her ball handling skills and she now gets the fact that if you ever hope to make the shot you have to take the shot (even if it is with your left foot.) Of course, there are still things she can work on improving (putting more power behind her long kicks), but she has really come a long way. She has worked so hard for so many years and it is so wonderful to see her develop into such a great player (I really hope this doesn't sound too boastful, that is not my intent, but she is my girl and I am so proud of her)

She had the best two games of her life in San Francisco. It was the most fun I have ever had watching her play. My only regret was that Mark wasn't there to see it! Luckily, she has kept her stride and he has gotten to see her play in some other really fabulous games. The highlight of the tournament was hearing the other coach yell, "Watch number 12, mark her and don't let her out of your sight!" It took me a minute to figure out that he was talking about McCall. I was so proud. She was on fire. She was all over the place and it was driving him crazy (I feel bad that he was frustrated), but I was still proud of McCall.

Here she is playing sweeper taking the ball up the side.
She plays against a lot of REALLY tall people and so this picture depicts a nice height comparison.

Here she is with her sweet little friend Annelise. McCall was convinced she played so well because it was in San Francisco and she loves the smell of the ocean.

Gracie was a good sport sitting through 8 hours of soccer. She was McCall's #1 cheerleader.

This was a sweet play where she kicked the ball around the two defenders and took it up the line (I don't know the soccer lingo for that, but it was pretty cool to watch).

This was a co-ed team she was playing and she enjoyed trying to out run the boys.

Another great play going up against two of the boys and she beat them both to the ball. She was working so hard that she started having an asthma attack during the 4th quarter of this game.

Here she is going against two of their defenders and the goal keeper to make a goal. Unfortunately, she was unsuccessful during this play.
We ended the day by swimming at the hotel with her teammates and then going out to dinner as a team. Because McCall doesn't play on Sunday's, we wished them well on the next days games and headed home around 10:00. It was a great day!

Meet Abby!

Don't know how much Bayden will appreciate these photos when he is older, but they make me smile. The last few weeks our kids have gotten a kick out of dressing up Bayden as a girl (he is a pretty cute girl if I do say so myself). Gracie always wants a little girl to play with, so this was an easy solution! We have cousins on each side of the family with the name Abby that we all adore, so of course that was the name of choice. So here is Abby......

He was more than happy to pose for me in some of Gracie's clothes.
A close up of his hair clips.
A full length shot was a must to show off his cute shoes. Gracie's facials were making me laugh.
(*Just a note, Gracie selected her own outfit and accessories) Gracie was thrilled that for a large part of the day, he would only respond to the name Abby. Mark and I were totally entertained listening to and watching them play all afternoon. I'm going to miss this age when they all grow up!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Jog-a-thon 2009

My love, hate relationship with the annual Jog-a-thon continues again this year. Hate how they send home those sponsor sheets and get the kids all hyped up to ask for donations (I hate asking ANYONE to sponsor for fear they will feel forced to do so). On the other hand I love watching my kids get all excited and then working so hard to meet the goals they have set for themselves. Of course I wasn't loving the 103 temperatures, but I figured I could stand and cheer on the sidelines with a happy face if my kids were running in it and still had smiles on theirs.
Carson started out strong with the ladies. His team was the 1st Grade Road Runners.

Still going strong and working hard.
Hmm...someone is slowing down and breathing really hard.
Can you say asthma attack. Of course Carson insisted he was fine and did another lap before he almost collapsed.

Thus ended Carson's jog-a-thon dreams. He got his inhaler and sat out for a bit until he had things under control.

Bayden being cheesy while I took care of Carson.

One tired little guy holding up his lap card. He got the whole front side filled up. And then he got to enjoy a cool treat with his two best buddies.
Next we were off to cheer Parker on. We met up with him at recess. He was sitting in the quad trying to "save up all of his energy for the jog-a-thon". I love how sweet Parker is with his siblings. I love how he is holding Bay's hand.
Then it is time for a little snuggle. Bay is a much loved boy and is adored by his siblings.
And who wouldn't be in love with this boyfriend? Look at the smooch he is giving Parker.
We headed up to the field where Parker's class would start. I was helping out with his class. Luckily the teacher took one look at me and suggested that I just cheer from the sidelines (something I do quite well) instead of running with the kids (something I don't do quite as well!)
I think this was around lap 19....remember it was hot! Do you like that he is at least 1 head taller than his classmates.
This is his intense look. He is really trying to focus here.
He stopped for a hug and a picture from his favorite cheerleader.
All in all I think it was a successful jog-a-thon. Hopefully we earned enough money to have our library open this year (you got to love California and its budget crisis!).