Saturday, November 10, 2012

Daddy!! IT SNOWED!!

"I have to wear my new boots!"

"This is the best Christmas ever!"

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Oregon 2012

It's pretty sad that we only make it to Oregon about once a year. I absolutely love it and there are always a few must-do's every time we go. This trip ended up pretty different than past trips, though. First of all, uncle Cameron came home from his mission so it was pretty fun to see him again and hear his homecoming talk in church. 

Second, we flew there! There's some definite perks working for an airline and flying is right there at the top. We had no problems getting on any of the flight and the kids had a fun time. Leyla even had to sit by herself on our first flight and she did amazing, no problems the entire flight. It was so nice to not be in the car the entire day to get there and back home. 

Third, the weather was pretty amazing and didn't rain a single time while we were there. The kids loved that they could swim at Grandma Ned's pool, we've definitely never been able to do that in the past. 

 Fourth, Nick and I got the chance to head to Seattle over night with some friends. We did a lot of walking around the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, the waterfront, and Pike's Place Market.  Best of all, though, we hit up a Mariners baseball game where I scored a foul ball! It was a great little getaway and super fun to see our friends Chris & Jayme again. 

At the Pacific Science Center they had a butterfly house that was filled with beautiful plants and flowers and tons of butterflies. It was so cool to see them flying everywhere around you, I loved it.

As if that weren't enough highlights from the trip, here's a few more.

Leyla cut some chucks of her own hair earlier in the year and it just wasn't growing in very well so aunt Ash gave her a super cute new 'do, she loves it! She was actually crying this morning because she thought her hair was getting too long again. Thanks Ash for both our awesome hair cuts!

We got some Chipotle to-go one evening just in time for this cute girl's soccer game. She did awesome, way to go Eliza! All the kids had so much fun playing together, it's really too bad we live so far away and don't get to see them often.

Had fun hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's house. We're certainly out growing our vacation room there, if we have any more kids we're going to have to find a new place to stay!

One night we drove over to this old school in town to see quite an amazing site. Thousands of Swift birds fly in every night and funnel down into the school's chimney. It was so cool to watch, I definitely recommend it.

Tillamook ice cream and cheese is always a hit...

...along with a stop at the beach, of course.

Oregon 2012 was certainly a hit! Now that we can fly maybe we can get there more than once a year, fingers crossed.

Second Grade

Even after such a great summer we were all ready to get back to school and back to a regular routine. I wish, more than anything, that they could be in the same class. They specifically asked not to be in the same class but it would be so nice for them to be doing the same homework, going on the same field trips, returning library books the same day...convenient stuff like that. And one of these days I'll even remember who has what teacher. They're such smart boys, I hope they'll always like learning and have a desire to do well in school. If only we could get rid of the behavior problems and it would be quite perfect! That could happen, right?

Remembering Summer

We had such a great summer! I was really nervous when school was coming to a close, our apartment is so tiny and all I could imagine was constant fighting and boredom day after day all summer long. Thankfully, we came up with a few solutions so that we would always have something to do. Between the Pass of all Passes, the library, a membership to Discovery Gateway and movies in the parks we had summer covered. It was nice to be able to get out of the house so much and always have something to do if we wanted. I think the kids had a great summer, too.


 New bikes

 New parks



 Having fun together



 7 Peaks

 Learning to catch

 Yummy food

 Bike races

 Work parties


 Swimming every week

 Selling lemonade

 Lots of reading

Lots of sleeping


Here's to an amazing summer! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

There were 104 (actually 84) days of summer vacation...

Summer is over.  So glad.  We cured the boys of the nagging question, "What can I do?!" by finding things for them to do: writing lists.  After the first few weeks of being bugged by this question, the lists got more challenging.  It went from, "Jack, write a list of 30 things that you can find that are white," to, "Jack, find 50 things in our apartment that can be tied in knots."  That was a two hour chore, but it was also the last time he demanded we give him something to do.

And, the reading challenge, as detailed in our last post, ended.  I modified the challenge so that there was an extra dollar paid out for every hundred pages read (previously, it was $10 for every thousand pages read) to encourage more reading.  Jack finished the summer by reading 86 books, for a total of 8,607 pages read ($86).

Owen was a little more stressful... for me.  He's not been as enthusiastic about reading as Jack has, and I had hoped that this would turn things around a bit.  He really liked Geronimo Stilton books but still wasn't motivated to read on his own.  We had an Excel chart set up to show the boys how many pages they'd read total and how many pages they had to read each day to reach their goal, so it recalculated that each day.  Halfway through the summer, Owen got in trouble and was grounded for a week.  His grounding meant he could not use any electronics: no TV, no computer, no Kindle, no DS, no Netflix, etc.  That was easily the most productive week of the summer for his reading.  He probably read 1500 pages during that week.  He pulled way ahead of Jack and could have read at an easy pace to finish up.  But he didn't, he just slacked off.  We talked to him more frequently as the days passed, urging him to just get it done, to meet the minimum 6k pages and then to slack if he didn't want to earn more money.  He was so close, but no amount of explaining how close he was seemed to motivate him.

A week or two ago I finally set some clear expectations and a deadline: 8PM on Sunday night, the day before school started.  I did not want him staying up through the night in a panic to hit his 6k pages.  Last week started and he was still way behind.  He went from needing 80 pages a day to 250 pages a day as the deadline approached.  He'd read a little here and there but not enough to satisfy the "daily" requirement.  On Sunday morning at 10am I turned the kitchen timer on for 10 hours and showed it to him.  I explained that this was how long he had to finish up.  He'd actually read on Friday and Saturday but still had a hundred or so pages to go.  But it was Sunday morning, the day of the deadline, and he was watching TV.  That was the last I talked to him about it.  With a few hours left, he was finishing up a book that would put him over the edge.  I started teasing him a little bit.  "Come on Owen, let's go watch a movie.  You've got plenty of time to finish reading, you don't need to read now."  But he stuck with it at this point and with an hour left, announced he was done.  So this is where the quiz came in.  I decided early on to quiz the boys to make sure they'd actually read and not just skimmed through.  No point in reading if there's no absorption, right?  So the quiz policy was that I'd ask questions, with three correct answers they were done, after three strikes they were out and I wouldn't count the book.  I asked Owen four questions, two were correct, two were incorrect.  You can sense his anxiety at this point: the next question determined whether or not he would get his $60.  If he got it wrong, it was too late for him to read another book.  He got it right.

A couple hours later we walked over to the local ATM and they got paid.  They've mentally spent about $10,000 each already.

Good job, boys.  Time for math tests.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Reading Recommendations

We need book recommendations for Owen and Jack.

Earlier this summer we made a deal with them.  If they would read 6,000 pages before school started (this gave them 84 days), we would give them $60, and an additional $10 for each additional 1,000 pages read.

Jack finished last week.  He's at 6,442 pages.  Owen isn't as motivated; he's at 4,670 pages right now.  We are struggling to find books that he actually likes.  There are two series that he seems to enjoy: Geronimo Stilton and the A to Z Mysteries books.  He's okay with Junie B. Jones but doesn't pick them out like the other titles.

Harry Potter, Hardy Boys, Percy Jackson are all too advanced.  But the other books they have been reading... they're okay, but we don't really feel like they've challenged the boys much.  No new vocabulary, not much learning, just fun reading.  Fun reading is good; we understand that it develops a lot of areas, but we would also like their reading to be more educational.  Owen read a book about Titanic and Jack read about the Revolutionary War, and both of those books had them asking us questions about the events and telling us things they learned for days afterwards.  The goal isn't just for nonfiction.  Owen read a fictional book about the White House and that seemed to initiate the same type of thing.

Have any of you had luck with other series/authors for this age level?

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Oh Leyla!

She's 3 now, didn't ya know? What a precious age. Today she says, "Mommy, I'm not a baby anymore, I growed just like a seed!" What a cute little thing. She then quickly follows with, "and mommy, your belly's getting so so big!" Ha! Not so cute anymore, is she?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter

The Easter Bunny didn't come this morning. Were the kids sad and disappointed? No. I'm not sure the kids have ever thought about the Easter Bunny stopping by, they've certainly never talked about it before. He never came when I was growing up, either, but I was certainly never disappointed waking up Easter morning to whatever cute Easter package my mom set out for me. Honestly, I had never given much thought about the Easter Bunny. He's been all over Utah the last few week, though. In the malls with lines of kids waiting to see him and ask him for special gifts. I had no idea this was such a big thing, almost like Christmas! Like my mom, I do get the kids some special things for Easter. It's fun. The kids get so excited about any kind of little thing they get, and then proceed tell me over and over how I'm the best mom ever. Who wouldn't love that? I know that gifts and candy aren't what Easter is all about but I don't think they have to detract from the real meaning. Nick and I teach the 7/8 year old kids in Primary. We've never been in Primary before and I can honestly say it was easier teaching Relief Society than this! This last week I started looking around for a cute Easter treat to bring to class. I asked online for some suggestions and I was somewhat shocked by some of the responses. I was told it would be a shame to bring secular things into church especially on Easter Sunday and how sad it was that I would give the kids something that would turn their attention away from Christ. I know I'm new to this Primary thing and maybe I'm a horrible teacher but I certainly didn't see the harm in bringing something. Is there any 7 year old that spends all of Easter Sunday thinking about Jesus? Or any Sunday, for that matter? Is a fun surprise at church really going to ruin the sacredness of Easter Sunday? I often bring gummy bears to bribe them to be good during class and, still, I often wish I could walk out of class. It's been a hard calling. 

We colored eggs today after church. It was sad to get out all those jars, it just reminded me that I'm out of jam and I hate buying jam at the store. Sad. But the eggs turned out great, partly due to a new little trick I learned! Baked, not boiled. We've tried so many different ways to boil eggs to have them peel nicely and we have never been successful. I baked a few last night to give it a try and have not had trouble peeling a single egg, it's pretty exciting!

It's been a good day but it's also been a long week. It was spring break for the boys and we played a lot and stayed up late a lot and now it's time to go back to school tomorrow and mom is super excited about that :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Woo Hoo!

We officially have a diaper-free home!
Go Leyla!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lovey Dovey

We sure do love our holidays around here! And we're sure glad Grandma Ned does, too, since she sends the best packages each and every time! The kids are always so excited to get any kind of mail, almost every day they ask if anything came for them. I need to find them a pen pal or something so they can get mail more often.

We also got a fun pre-Valentine's package from Grandma Jodi. She sent valentine's card and treats for the boys to take to school, and stickers to help decorate their boxes for school. They were both pretty adamant about using valentine colors for their boxes. Owen was especially careful to make sure his stickers were perfect. I remember when I was young, going through all my cards and deciding who to give each one to. The perfect one had to be given to my best friend, the boy I liked, the boy who liked me but I definitely DID NOT like, you get the idea. So much time and effort was taken into what to write! My boys, they scribbled their names and that was that. Maybe they are still a little young? Maybe the boys I liked in elementary didn't look twice at the cards they gave me?

I usually put a little more effort into fun food for the holiday but the red jell-o was just about as festive as it got. Aunt Kenzie actually made the sugar cookies when she was here on Saturday, and you better believe they were gone by Sunday night. They were delish!