Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dad's Outing to Curiosity Museum

While I was putting on the Mission Leader Council Luncheon, Chad took Micah and Matthew to the Curiosity Museum. Micah was off track, and Chad had the day off. He'd spent the morning exercising and studying for his big recertification. They were gone for hours! Chad was thinking of me and sent me several pictures of the boys having a good ol' time.
 The sand spinning on the turntable is mesmerizing.

 Micah treated everyone to an ice cream cone. What a sweetheart. He's the rich one in the family with the jobs he's been doing. Yardwork for Miss Velma, dogsitting for the DeWitts.
 I think Matthew's favorite place to be is outside! The look on his face says it all. In fact, we came back here just a few days later to meet my friends, Kathleen Gundersen and Emily Hincks. It was a colder day, but he really wanted to go outside again.

Mission Leader Council

Right now I have a calling that feels pretty lax. Emergency Preparedness Committee member. Not saying I couldn't use it! It's been good for me to be more aware of getting prepared. But anyway, I was happy to help when Sister Kim Wendelboth asked me to take on a luncheon for the Mission Leader Council in Sandy at the mission office. Sophie Rice was a gem and came with me to transport all the crockpots of soups, rolls, and desserts. We had so many ladies come through and help us. The missionaries loved the meal.
 Just look at that dessert table!
 We were invited to come in and join them for lunch. So we did. When they finished eating, they all gathered around us and sang "Armies of Helaman." It was powerful.

Just a Typical Day

Looks like Micah got his hands on my phone for this gem:
 Ella was in charge of Family Home Evening treats last week. She chose snickerdoodles. Although Mira and Matthew were right there, ready to help at a moment's notice, Ella made it clear she wanted to do it from start to finish. So when she wasn't using the flour Matthew and Mira had plenty of fun using the measuring cup and knife, just playing around. The cookies turned out great. Thanks, Ella!
 Matthew was snuggling Jack, and it was too sweet.
 The day finally arrived when it was Mira's turn to take out her original stud earrings. She has had a great time picking out new earrings to wear. On this particular day, she chose the CTR earrings given to her by her primary teacher, Sister Vicki Soha. She loves them. Sister Soha is one of those amazing primary teachers. She is so loving and kind. She goes above and beyond. She's brought my girls (since they've both had her) gifts at Christmas, birthday, baptism. They just know she loves them.
 Micah has been faithfully attending early morning band practice. Even when he's off track, he'll make it over there a couple days a week. This particular day he asked that I come sit in and listen. His band teacher, Leslie Williams, is patient and encouraging. Right now Micah is playing the Star Wars theme and the Batman theme. Oh, and you can't forget "Let's Go Band!"

Ella's Big 10!

The morning of Ella's birthday I brought her (and Mira, per request) breakfast in bed. She let me know she really wanted waffles and either bacon or sausage. Wish granted! They loved having their breakfast served on silver trays. Colin and Micah were up to sing "Happy Birthday" with us. Then she opened her gift which included two gift certificates: one for dinner to Olive Garden and one to go shopping for any pair of boots she wants! She liked that.
Grandma and Aunt Amber picked up Ella a little early from school (lucky duck!) to take her out to Boondocks, dinner, and gift shopping. While they were out, Amber sent me a few pictures which were fun to get. I liked this selfie. Janna and Amber were surprised when I posted it on Facebook. They said it was their very first selfie. They are now officially inducted into the world of selfies.
 So Ella had a marvelous time being spoiled. Amber even went on a couple of rides with her.
 Miniature golf!  Ella came back with a milkshake and an Ever After High doll, Apple White.
We love Ella. Here is what Ella is all about these days:
*Ella is creative. She loves drawing, especially landscapes.
*Quiet, alone time is important to her. She needs time each day away from everything and everyone to just be by herself and play, listen to an audiobook, think, etc.
*Ella loves sunsets and sunrises. But especially sunsets. She will run outside and ooh and ahh and take pictures. Or she'll draw a sunset.
*Climbing trees and playing outside when the weather is decent is something she loves. In fact, it's the end of January, and she'll go out and jump on the tramp, climb the tree, and play.
*She loves to bring blankets, pillows, and toys outside to the clubhouse and transform the clubhouse into a real room where she can use her imagination.
*The play room has been awesome for fostering imaginative play. Ella loves to create her own little space in there with bedding to imitate a room.
*The hockey and pool tables have been draped with blankets so that she can hide underneath. It will be fully decked out with all her creature comforts: blankets and pillows, stereo, reading light, books, notebook and pencils. She'll listen to something while she studies her spelling words or plays.
*Ella has enjoyed times when she's been able to help me with dinner preparation or making treats.
*Keeping her bed neat and orderly is important to her. She'll go around and grab various decorative pillows to place atop her bed to make it fancier. And she'll take the blue bathroom rug and put it on their bedroom floor to dress the place up a little.
*Style is important to Ella. She thinks about the outfit she'll be wearing to school. She likes to have her hair brushed out completely. Sometimes she'll ask me to curl it Taylor Swift-style.
*You can know Ella is in a great mood if you hear her singing. It might be her favorite song, "A Thousand Years" by Christina Perry, or it might be something she's making up on the spot.
*Ella is good about getting up in the morning for scripture study.
*She prefers to eat her meals with her feet up on her chair seat, her knees propped against the table. She tries to remember to use her fork at all times. :)
*Her favorite after school snack is cereal. If it's a Monday (my grocery day), she (everyone, really) will run in the house after school, asking if there's cereal!
*She's doing well in school. There was a struggle with learning the new section method math for multiplication and division, but she's got it down now. She likes French, and has a good teacher, Mr. Baudry.

Holiday Addendum

I thought that taking pictures of some of the children's special papers would be a good way to remember things. This was something Ella filled out in school. I like that it's a little glimpse into where she is right now, and what is important to her.  
For one Family Home Evening recently, Colin planned the activity. He wanted each child to write to each sibling, sharing with them why they are loved and what makes them special. I thought that was a pretty fantastic idea. And they all loved it.
 This was something Mira wrote in Mrs. Shimp's class. I got a kick out of it! (Front side, back side)

 I missed these pictures in my post about Michaeline's wedding, but these are more goofy pics we took in the photo booth. Here we are with Uncle Dennis. What a good sport!

 And then Dad brought the four of us together for this session:
 I think Dad looks 20-something here!

It's Christmas!

Chad looks forward to being at Jazz games. He likes to invite each of the children to attend with him. Lately, they've been a little less enthusiastic about going. I think it might be twofold. 1. The Jazz haven't had a really good season for a while. 2. The bloom is off the rose a bit. Been there, done that. But Chad manages to bribe them with the promise of a treat if they go. And occasionally he'll invite Amber, and she loves the games. 
 While I was in California at Michaeline's wedding, Chad took the children to the Barnett Family Christmas Party. Yes, it's official. The seemed to have a lot of fun. Chad took more video than he did pictures. This SpongeBob shower gel Matthew got was enjoyed in one bathtime session. Ha!
 Silly boy.
 So when we decorated gingerbread houses with Doug and Rachel, Mom and Dad and everyone, we also went to the Museum of Natural Curiosity. It was so fun for the cousins to run around together. Colin, Grant, Theron, and Micah did their own thing and loved it. Here I am giving my spiel about where to meet if anyone gets lost.
 Oh, and both Micah and Colin has science fair projects due around the same time. Thanks to a wonderful father, Chad worked with each of them individually on "What Effect Does Heat Have on Chemical Reactions?" Hours and hours were put into each of them. Again, thanks goes to Daddy-O!
 Christmas Eve was spent at Grandma and Grandpa Barnett's. The kids always look forward to this because we have dinner together, and Grandma spoils them with games and prizes. Not to mention the gifts. This picture is so cute! Oh, and this is when we managed to burn one of Grandma's pillows because we propped it up against her hot fireplace. I started smelling something burning, and oops! Sorry, Grandma!
Aunt Amber wanted to get the kids games they would love. She got Colin and Micah Risk. Here is Colin, reading through the instructions. This is a game he's wanted for a while.
 Matthew loved his Disney "Eye Found It" game. It's fun!
Christmas morning! Santa treated us good this year. Grandma and Grandpa Miller sent money for us to use at our discretion. My favorite gifts were the U.S. flag (I've wanted one for years!) and a new teal purse. Pretty! Chad got an RSL jacket (he loved it!), RSL shirt and hat. Colin got a bow and arrow set, hair products, and cologne. Micah got an RC car, hexspider (which batteries stopped working like the next day), and...I can't think of a third thing he got! But he did get other things. Ella got pjs, Littlest Pet Shops, and a watch. Mira got pjs, Ever After High Apple White and Hunter, and a watch (which broke a few days later.) Matthew got his mini trampoline (lots of fun has been had there!), Avengers figures (Iron Man, Hulk, Spiderman, Captain America), and big brick-like cardboard blocks.
 Happy girls on Christmas morning! (New sunglasses.)
What else happened Christmas day? Some of this:
 And this:
 And this:
 Ella thought Jack would be so cute with sunglasses!
About a week after Christmas we took the kids sledding near Fox Hollow. I was impressed with how great Matthew did on the hills. Mira tried to go over some jumps. Colin tried out the snowshoes I got for Christmas. (Cool story on those snowshoes. They are a really nice pair, and I got them for free off a yard sale page. Yahoo!)

 They loved going down tandem.
 And they'd give each other pushes down the hill.
 Another great thing that happened near Christmas (ahem) was when our oven decided to die on me. And I blame myself for wishing it to die so I could buy a new double oven. It is never the right time when something stops working. All in the same week we also had the furnace need a big repair and the van needed a big expensive repair. Whew. People say they come in threes. And it did for us! We ended up getting the oven repaired by a kind friend (Landon Dahle's dad, Ryan). He got the part and fixed it for us at a nominal cost.
 Ella was stoked when her six weeks of waiting was over for her earrings. She *finally* got to choose a new pair of earrings Grandma Barnett gave her. Oh, the decisions! Mira was less than thrilled because she had to wait an additional 2 weeks since she had trouble with her earring coming out a couple of times and get it repierced.
 I love how Jack just seamlessly fits into our family's life. The kids love to have him sleep with them. (Except when he hogs the bed.) These days, he ends up in Matthew's bed most nights. While I'm in reading books to Matthew, Jack takes the cue that it's bedtime, and jumps up and gets snuggled down. Matthew told me he loves to have Jack sleep with him because Jack keeps him warm. And Matthew loves Jack.
 We inherited some clothes from a friend, and sent her this picture of them wearing a couple of the items as a thank-you. I can't believe overalls are back. My grandmother Helen Oliphant hated them because they reminded her of what people wore during the depression, and I never thought they looked super when they were in style when I was a kid. But now I see them and think, "Again?!" But, actually, Mira looks pretty stinking cute in them.
 The girls are trying to follow a Book of Mormon reading schedule to get them through the whole thing in a year. Chad is reading with them here. I'm glad their hearts are right! In fact, Matthew has been choosing the children's "Book of Mormon Stories" each night as one of his book choices. And he likes to remind me about how the Nephites were good and the Lamanites were wicked, but then they switched and the Lamanites were the righteous ones. He does his best to retell parts of the stories he's learning. It makes me happy!
 Matthew noticed that my iPhone had a picture of Mira with her 8th birthday cake set as my wallpaper for a while. He asked if he could get his picture on there. So we did a couple of poses with Jackie-Baby.
 This is the one that won out and ended up as my iPhone wallpaper:
  So-o, the day after Christmas Amber drove down and we all headed out to St. George. It was awesome because a couple of kids were able to ride with her. Ahhhhh. Grandma and Grandpa Miller graciously let us use their home while they were visiting Uncle Chris, Aunt Gabby, and Eva in Texas. We so appreciated it. What a great location they are in! We were so comfortable. We had thought about going to Zion National Park, but St. George ended up being quite a bit colder than we'd anticipated. Like a high of 44. So we nixed that. But we filled our time with some other great things. We visited Brigham Young's winter home, Jacob Hamblin's home, and a few other historical spots along the way. Here we are at Brigham's winter home:

 In front of the Mulberry tree that was split by lightening:

 We went to the Washington City Recreation Center, which is awesome. Chad went swimming with the kids. We started out playing basketball and pickleball. Micah coerced me to the weight room where he tried out some of the weights and machines.

 But the Ella, Mira, and Matthew's absolute favorite activity was rock climbing. They got to go again and again. Micah made it all the way to the top once and rang the bell! (So did I!) The girls set goals for themselves to get above the dotted line. Matthew loved climbing!

 We looked for things to fill our time since outdoor activities were out. We found this Children's Museum, which ended up being such a great find! We spent several hours here doing all sorts of things: throwing "snowballs" at each other, attempting wheelchair basketball, etc.
 Ella's face, ha!
 One night we popped popcorn and pulled out all our goodies while we played games. The kids were totally on board with that!

 The day we were to head back to SLC, we stopped at Pioneer Park. Colin tried out his Christmas gift, his Chainmate hand saw. And it broke. We explored little caves. We got atop Dixie rock (holding Matthew back from getting too close to the edge), and just hiked around. Such a cool place!

 Colin and the ill-fated hand saw:
 We got back safe and sound. Then we got to spend more time discovering Christmas toys. Matthew has had fun with his new Light Bright from Grandma Barnett. He loves to turn off the lights after he puts it all together.

Our children had been asking if the cousins could come spend New Year's Eve with us. Doug and Rachel decided they'd all come down! So they spent the night. We had lots of yummy food. We celebrated Theron's 13th birthday, and played all sorts of things at the church's gym. Grant showed us his mad Frisbee-throwing skills. Colin and I are still wondering if we can learn to slap the Frisbee against the floor as he does. Paige practiced her volleyball skills with us. Theron and Ella built themselves a little fort with chairs and then played and sang together. The younger kids all put on a little show on the stage for the older folks. We love that they came to do that with us!