Friday, November 23, 2012

The End?

As I went to publish my last entry before sending this year's blogs to print, I was confronted with an ugly message from Blogger, "Oops! You've reached the image limit and cannot upload any more pictures to Blogger" (without paying a monthly fee). So I don't know what I'm going to do. I guess the book will be without Thanksgiving pictures this year.

But it was a great Thanksgiving. Jana, Alan, Amber, Mom, Dad, and Michael Finelli came to our place. Mom and Dad showed up a little early to help me get things set up and ready for the 1:00 Thanksgiving dinner. It was really enjoyable, and made such a difference having extra hands to help. Once everyone was served, Colin read for us George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation. We then went around the table and said what we were grateful for. And I quizzed everyone on some basic Thanksgiving facts.

After dinner, some of the men went downstairs to catch a little of the football game. Monopoly was going on upstairs with both grandmas and the kids. Once Chad showed up, he was the enforcer of the rules. He likes to know the rules and to be sure everyone is playing by them. Ha ha! One day our children will realize how lucky they are that they get both sets of grandparents to spend Thanksgiving with all together. Pretty great that the grandmas sit around, laughing and playing together with them. Makes it extra-special.

We so miss those family members who are far away: Chris and Gabby; Doug and Rachel, Theron, Grant, Kate, Paige, and Juliette; Blake and Maren, Braden, Brody, and Hunter. We're comforted in knowing they all are happy and well. Our family is wonderful.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Disney on Ice

For Mira's sixth birthday, Mom and Dad bought 4 tickets to Disney on Ice. Dad suggested we make a girls' day out of it by having me go in his place. Thank you! This was a much anticipated event by the girls. Although Mira doesn't have any solid ideas for birthday gifts, this was just something extra-special and girlie to make a birthday one to be remembered.
 We couldn't believe the seats we got. Front and center. Talk about spoiled! It was exciting being so close. Ella and Mira were enthralled the entire time. I particularly enjoyed being close enough to watch the skaters, see their faces, and watch their chests heave at the end of a song. They worked so hard and made it look so smooth.
 Special day with Grandma.
The costuming, set design, and choreography were amazing, as anything Disney is. I was so impressed.

 Just look at the look on this girl's face. I'd brought a couple of treats for the girls, and this lollipop looked so Disney to me, it was fun watching Ella work on it all during the performance.
 One happy birthday girl!
 Ella barely putting a dent in that huge thing.
 Me and my girl:
 Mom wanted to treat us to something special afterwards, and she suggested "The Chocolate," a dessert cafe that recently opened up in West Jordan. Mom got a German chocolate cupcake, Ella got a double chocolate cupcake, Mira got a chocolate chip cookie, and I got a turtle brownie (unanimously agreed to be the best dessert purchased). Mira wanted to do some birthday planning talk. She's firm on having a gymnastics birthday party. Yikes! Now I've got to get on my A-game and do some planning!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Whole Lotta Lispin' Goin' on

Ella's had these two front teeth crazy-wiggly for weeks and weeks. From the looks of it, she's one of the last in her 2nd grade class to lose these. She's been nervous about getting them out. We've encouraged her to do her part to loosen them up, and she has, but it just needed more help to get out. And we didn't want to fork out $200 to get these two out like we had to do with the bottom two. She decided we could try the "tie your tooth to the doorknob and slam it shut" method, but the string slipped right off. As did the pliers. The only way was going to be brute force. A few twists and tugs by Mom, and it was out. (One key with working through things like this with her is to act like you have all the time in the world. There is no rush. Try hurrying her along and you won't get anywhere.) She screamed when she saw all the blood, but was relieved it was out and very happy about her new look. She's discovered a few funny things about missing her front tooth: she cannot whistle and she has a little lisp. She was looking forward to going to class today to give her friends a big smile and ask, "Notice anything different?"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Fun

Halloween day had been anticipated for quite some time. Especially since the kids began to suspect that Grandma and Grandpa were going to get their costumes. This was after much questioning from Grandpa about what they wanted to be for Halloween. Mira had wanted to be Fancy Nancy last year, but it never happened. This was her year! Grandma took her out and went crazy. Look at that getup. Doesn't get any cuter! She felt pretty special.
 Ella had asked to be Arwen from Lord of the Rings, after Micah had encouraed her to do so in order to match his costume. Well, she got what she asked for, but then the day arrived and she just really wanted to be something a little more Halloween-y. So here she is in my graduation robe with fake blood on her face. She was happy, although none of us knew what she was.
 Masks are banned from school, so Colin's screamer mask had to wait for trick-or-treating. Instead, he asked me to paint his face. He went with it.
 And Micah was most excited about his costume. He'd been wanting to be Frodo Baggins for a really long time. He's been growing out his hair for just this purpose (although he likes it and will want it to stay longer now). Look at those feet. Aren't they great? He even had the elfin ears to go with it.
 I tried to get a quick picture of everyone outside of school. Tried.
 At the Halloween parade, Matthew kept himself busy by being flipped, held upside down, and snuggled. He was patient.
 Let's get this show on the road.
 The parade was great. All the kids were so cute. It's fun to see all the different costumes. And the teachers dressed up too. We ended up in Mira's classroom so Chad could help out with her class party. Matthew kept entertained with the magnetic letters.
 Here's Mira at her orange table with her little friends. Kindergarteners are adorable!
 She had a lot of fun with the games. Even shared some of her donut with Matthew.
 Later that afternoon, I returned to school to help with Micah's class party. The moms who volunteered came up with some fun games. The kids were all smiles. At the end of the stations I read them Jerry Seinfeld's "Halloween." The kids thought it was pretty funny. Pumpkin bean bag toss:
 Cupcake decorating/spider cookies (There's Micah at the back):
 Relay races:
 Now, down to the good stuff. Trick-or-treating! Matthew finally allowed me to put on his Elmo costume. This was only after I told him he couldn't go get candy if he wasn't dressed up. Once he got that message, he was okay with the costume.

 Ella got her Arwen costume on, after much difficulty with the wig. (Ultra-sensitve head with bobby pins.) Finally she was happy with the result and we called it good.

 Happy day!
 So glad that Michael called us and asked if he could join us this evening. I think he was missing his niece and nephew today. He had gone to his classes today and was the only person dressed up in a class of 300 people. He was bummed about the lack of enthusiasm, I think. So he was getting his fix here. I'd made white chicken chili and cornbread to fill up before we loaded up on the junk.
 Grandpa stayed back to hand out candy while Grandma and Michael came with us trick-or-treating. I need to buy more candy next year! We had more trick-or-treaters come through than last and I ran out at 7:30. Luckily it was a school night and I think most kids were wrapping it up soon after. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa, for the costumes. It was a memorable Halloween spending it with you all!

Toward the end of the evening, we were talking together about the Jazz tickets Chad still had. Apparently, Chad could see in Michael's eyes that he really wanted to go, but didn't have someone to go with. Kind-hearted Chad, not one to leave somone in the lurch, offered himself as a partner to the game. Sacrifice is what it's all about. Right, Chad? :) So Mom and I wrapped up trick-or-treating with the younger ones. Colin and Micah were out with Orion and Pheonix and didn't get back til 9:15. The girls and I watched Addams Family and ate candy. The boys say they were the last ones out. I let them stay up and eat some of their candy and watch a movie. They didn't get to bed until 10:45. Too bad it's a school night!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin Carving

Last night we helped the kids carve their pumpkins. (Well, Colin didn't require any help. Isn't that nice!) What they chose for their pumpkins: Colin-pumpkin face stabbed with blood dripping down, Micah-pumpkin barfing its' insides out, Ella-ghost peeking out of a door (from a template), Mira-zombie hand (template), Matthew-traditional triangle eyes face (not that he cared). And outside the boys really thought our house needed spiffing up for Halloween. They put out their own decorations. A baby stabbed with a stick pin with fake blood dripping, a doll hanging from a rope by our garage door, a werewolf's head coming out of the ground, stuffed pants and shirt lying on the grass. It's fun that they get so into it!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Micah's Halloween Party

Micah hosted a Halloween party for a few friends. I told him as long as he was in charge of it all, I was fine with it. He had just a few requests of me: cookies, Cheetos, brownies, donuts, apple cider (which I bought, but he was unhappy with because he'd meant sparkling cider), and popcorn. He also asked that I make slime for them. I thought, "It's an overload of junk, but why the heck not?" Here are Ella (hiding mysteriously), Caleb Anglin (white shirt), Strider Fountaine (very back), Cooper Hutchinson, Jackson Pearce (mask), Micah, and Orion Badger.
 Going at all the junk:
Micah and Colin set up a haunted basement with sharp-toothed animals eating other animals, warning signs, scary baby, etc. They had a cd with spooky sounds playing. I stayed upstairs while they took the friends through it. But I could hear them from upstairs! They watched "Monster House," which had good reviews and the kids all really liked it. Success!

You Turn Your Back...

Mira screamed from the bathroom, "Mom! It's an emergency!!" I come half-running and discover an inch of water on the bathroom floor, coming out onto the carpet. Matthew had unrolled an entire MEGA roll of Charmin, stuffed it in the toilet, and flushed. (Thankfully, I had just cleaned and bleached the toilet, so I wasn't freaked out too much.) But I used every spare towel in the closet to sop up the mess.
 And when Matthew saw I'd made spaghetti noodles for dinner, he thought he'd hop up on the counter and help himself. He's normally a pretty mild-mannered kid. But once in a while...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Trip to Arches National Park

After our night near Goblin Valley, we drove the two hours to Moab to set up camp at a great little campsite with a stream running behind our site. The older four had a blast heading down to the stream, throwing rocks, exploring, and whatnot. There was a little playground which kept Matthew entertained. The boys and girls were all really good with Matthew. If we needed them to take Matthew to the playground, they would for a bit. It was great! We brought a ton of food, and enjoyed much of it. We roasted hot dogs and did s'mores one night, tin foil dinners another. We even toasted bagels and bread for breakfast. The campfires were so nice to have at the end of the day and first thing on a chilly morning.
 The stream running behind our tent:
 Here we are the first time we entered Arches. Chad and I haven't been here since our honeymoon, and this was the kids' first time. On our way here, they asked, "Is there going to be a lot of red rocks and sand?" in a whiny voice. They were still red-sanded-out from our trip to Lake Powell and Grand Canyon. But they overcame it and enjoyed. Our first stop were the Windows: North and South Windows, and Turret Window (or, as Chad likes to call it, "Tourette Window." That got some miles.)
 Thanks to Chad, who carried Matthew miles in the backpack. The highest temp was around 80, which was hot enough for me, but I can't imagine coming in the summer!
 Ella, overlooking the view below one of the windows.
And Mira
 Chad with a smiley Matthew
 Micah was our champion scrambler. I kept having to tame his drive to climb up to the highest points. Ella would follow wherever he went. My mother's mind kept going to the "what ifs." So they heard plenty of, "Okay, that's high enough!"
 Colin graciously allowed me a photo opportunity.
 "Tourette" Window, as we now fondly know it.
 They were pretty high up, I know you can't tell from this, thanks to the zooming camera.
 Too cool for school, Colin
 Micah, the explorer
 Checking out all the nooks and crannies.
 What a great little camper/traveller!
 So fun to have with us.
 Colin is his special buddy. Oh, and that mouthful Matthew's got is Tootsie Rolls. I'll tell you, those saved the day. We'd bribe the kids with them if they'd make it to certain points along the trail. They loved it.
 We made an unplanned stop at Double Arch. Colin took a break in the car with his DS. This is such a great place for a family vacation! All the exploring and climbing makes it a whole lot of fun for kids.
Inside Double Arch was a teeny tiny little cave which Matthew liked.

 Mira wasn't wearing the best climbing shoes, so I was sure to be close by. She and I are total buds, anyway. We love being together.
 And there goes to new adventures!
 Aw, I love the moments.

 Our last stop for Friday was Balanced Rock. The rock formations are pretty spectacular. Again, lots of climbing around for the kids.

 And, again, with the spitting in the dirt. It must be fascinating.

 While here, the middle three kids participated in the Junior Ranger program which is available at all national parks. It's a fantastic way for children to feel more invested in the trip. They help pick up litter, look for animal tracks, learn about the history and contents of the parks. It's really important to them, especially because there's a cool badge involved for completing the booklet and activities.Saturday was our last day at Arches and you can't do Arches without seeing the most famous arch, Delicate Arch. It is a relatively strenuous 1.5 mile hike to the arch. Chad, Colin, Micah, Ella, and Matthew blew through it, but Mira and I brought up the rear. It was hard work for our 5 year-old. She'd done a lot of walking and hiking, and was getting tired. We made lots of stops. I kept her motivated with stories, Q&A's about pioneer times, and Tootsie Rolls! And we made it. So worth it!
 I got a few good shots of Chad and the kids at the arch. It's hard to get one without anyone else in the picture, though.

 On our way back from the arch we stopped by this rock with petroglyphs on it. It it thought these date back to 1650-1850 AD. (I would've guessed older.) Micah was excited about this since he's learning about Utah history in school. We snagged this picture for him to share with his teacher. In fact, he got to stand up in front of his class today and his teacher had him tell about the petroglyphs. There are a couple of people riding horses with bighorn sheep and perhaps a couple of dogs around. Very close to this is the John Wesley Wilde homestead. It is very primitive. It's an old cabin which he built at the request of his daughter, who joined him with her husband and 2 young children. I try to imagine what life would have been like for them out there. No neighbors, no school, no grass, summer temps upwards of 100 degrees, no mail service...they were tough people!

 Our very last site for the trip was to Landscape Arch. This is the widest and thinnest arch in the park. (By the way, this park has over 2,500 arches in it. An arch is considered such if it has at least a 3 foot wide/long opening.) At the start of the hike is this fun sandy area which lots of kids were loving. Run up, run/fall/slide down. I was worried they'd spend all their energy playing on this before we got to the arch!

 I piggybacked Mira nearly the whole way. (5 year-olds are not meant to be carried for distances!) Landscape is a fitting name for this arch. The hike is really beautiful and portions of it were in shade in the afternoon, which felt great. More greenery here, and it was lovely.

 Mira wanted a picture, and she was cheesing it when I snapped. We all cracked up at her expression. So funny! (And completely adorable, of course.)

 Colin made me promise I wouldn't post the picture of him being silly in it. So I'm not. But here, the other kids are.
 Matthew, dropping sand. Sand, sand everywhere! (Ask me how many loads of laundry I've done since being home!)
 And our last morning camping. We had a great time.
 Are those Tootie Fruities on your roasting stick, Micah?
 Ella, properly toasting her bread. No peanut butter for her, thank you very much. Nice and dry is the way she likes it.
 Yep, Micah goes for toasted Tootie Fruities.
 Mira snuggling with her blankie. Still waking up.
Yep, we're going to make camping at parks a habit over UEA weekend. It's perfect!