Friday, January 25, 2008

Beaver POWER!!

Alex is a true Oregon State Beaver fan!! Last night he had his Cub Scout Pinewood Derby. He has been working for months designing his car and for several weeks at making his design come true. Birch and Alex are a good team in the shop.Check out this video clip of Alex racing the car that won first place:


Alex and his friend Mason
Alex made this cool pinewood derby stand at cub scouts a couple of weeks ago. The race didn't end last night...Birch made the boys a little track that they can continue to race all their cars on.

Tyler can't wait to join Alex in the derby next year. Last night Nate brought a car that he made to race when the derby was over. We ought to have all the tricks perfected by the time Coop races in six years!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Cherry On Top

Yes, today was the BIG day!!! Okay, Birch is reminding me that it isn't really THE BIG day (which is around June 28th)--but it was a special day. Ever since the kids found out they were going to have a new sibling they have been voting for a sister. Nate was so sure it would be a girl "because we already have a little brother." Tyler dreamed several weeks ago that we would be having a girl. Alex on a grumpy day blurted out, "I hope we have a girl so Alysee can bug her instead of me." Alysee would love to dote on a sister as well. As far as mom and dad, it is no secret that we (especially me) have been hoping to add one more girl to the Ditto clan.

So...the sun was shining a bit brighter today--WE'VE GOT OURSELVES A LITTLE GIRL!!!
Birch and I have been laughing a bit at this cool 3-D shot. Doesn't it look like she is already a bit on the grumpy side? We've got quite a bit of drama at our house with just Alysee so I think I will be eating lots of sweet candies to sweeten her up a bit before her birth.
This is a really neat shot looking down at her head showing the right ear (which we were intentionally looking for any abnormalities) and her right arm and hand.

When the doctor first started the ultrasound machine we were greeted with our little baby waving her hand at us--well, at least that is what we like to think she was doing. Even more important than her gender was the great news that all of her vital organs look perfect. What a blessed day!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Family Getaway

Last weekend we went on a fun family getaway trip to Packwood, WA. A co-worker of Birch's has a mountain home there and rents it for a really reasonable price. Ever since Birch and I went there for a weekend a couple of years ago we have wanted to take the kids back. The home is not anything fancy but just a great place to go to escape the regular obligations that seem to be ever present when you are at home.

We left Friday after work and drove to Packwood and had a tasty dinner at this yummy little pizza restaurant.

Saturday morning was spent like this:
Tyler relishing cable network cartoons.
How long has it been since you have watched The Black Stallion? Alysee, Coop, and Nate were captivated by the horse. After the first leg of the show, Birch and I found that we were the only ones left watching it.
Alex is really honing in on his pool skills. We got a medium size pool table for Christmas so Alex has lately had a lot of practice. He loved playing on this regular size table.After lounging around until about 3:00 pm we headed to White Pass mountain where the kids did some sledding. I stayed in the car with sleeping Cooper. Although the sledding wasn't quite as good as the kids have had this year they did have fun being in such deep snow.Alysee said it was very tiring walking in the snow all the way up to her bum.

We got home Saturday evening in time for dinner. It only took about one hour before we felt right at home and back to reality. Cooper pooped in the bathtub and his tub mates Alysee and Nate let us all know how nasty they thought that was. Then Alex said something mean to Tyler and Tyler had a breakdown. Not long after, Alysee came running to us with Nate chasing her saying that he was going to "cut off some of the house and throw it at her." It's nice to know that things don't change too much while you are gone.

By Monday Birch and I decided that we needed to focus our FHE lesson on Anger Control. We had a good short lesson and then role played different scenarios. Nate was first up. He drew the scenario of "You just finished building a really cool snow fort and you see some teenagers knocking it down--How do you react?" (Note: this exact thing happened the day before to Alex.) Alex and Tyler were assigned the roles of the teenager kids. When Nate saw them kicking down his "snow fort" he quickly took action -- he started punching and kicking the two mean teenager boys (aka. his brothers). Birch and I couldn't hold back our laughter since we had just finished the lesson on anger and saw how well it really sunk in to Nate. We quickly redirected him with some more positive ways to express his anger. We've had several opportunities since last Monday to use our new skills.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Do we fit together?

I even got Birch to take the little quiz. Pretty accurate. I think that he ought to get together with my sisters and start a knitting group.
You Are An ISTJ

The Duty Fulfiller

You are responsible, reliable, and hardworking - you get the job done.
You prefer productive hobbies, like woodworking or knittings.
Quiet and serious, you are well prepared for whatever life hands you.
Conservative and down-to-earth, you hardly ever do anything crazy.

In love, you are loyal and honest. If you commit yourself to someone, then you're fully committed.
For you, love is something that happens naturally. And you don't need romantic gestures to feel loved.

At work, you remember details well and are happy to take on any responsibility.
You would make a great business executive, accountant, or lawyer.

How you see yourself: Decisive, stable, and dependable

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Boring, conservative, and egotistical

What is your personality?

Sara Rampton (I mean Sara Egbert) inspired me to take this quick personality test. I was actually surprised about how accurate the end result was because several of the questions were a bit hard for me to apply in my current life situation. The test was even kind of fun to take.

You Are An ISFJ

The Nurturer

You have a strong need to belong, and you very loyal.
A good listener, you excel at helping others in practical ways.
In your spare time, you enjoy engaging your senses through art, cooking, and music.
You find it easy to be devoted to one person, who you do special things for.

In love, you express your emotions through actions.
Taking care of someone is how you love them. And you do it well!

At work, you do well in a structured environment. You complete tasks well and on time.
You would make a good interior designer, chef, or child psychologist.

How you see yourself: Competent, dependable, and detail oriented

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Boring, dominant, and stuck in a rut

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Update on Sara (aka Mom)

So what have I been up to the past month?
Bowling...yes, I am a regular. No, actually I only ended up bowling a few times because Uti (aka uterus) didn't seem to be enjoying it that much.Cooking...this was our Christmas Eve feast. We all love pizza!
Sewing...I'm actually not a big sewer woman. Birch primarily does the scout patch sewing and I like to save the rest of the mending for my mom--thanks mom! But we were in need of two more stocking this year. Actually we only needed one stocking but I figured if I was going to haul out the sewing machine I might as well make the baby's at the same time. I still have yet to hand stitch Cooper's name and the baby's--guess that will wait for next year. If you are counting we do have a stocking hanging for our baby Sara Elizabeth that died at 19.5 weeks gestation in 1999.
Cleaning...seems like there is always something that needs to be picked up, washed up, wiped up, vacuumed up, etc... Lately Cooper has added an additional angle to all the cleaning. Just as I set the table or throw something in the garbage he is scampering up the chairs on top of the table to swing on the chandelier or dump whatever I just put in the garbage onto the floor. This is the first week he has got to "experience" the mud room. Alex thinks we are mean to punish him with a timeout but it is so obvious that Coop is climbing, etc... in spite of heeding his parents' warnings. Could he be normal?

Update on Birch

This past Monday Birch went with a co-worker snow shoeing. They both had a great time together enjoying a good workout and natures beauty. They ran into this snow covered cabin in the woods.
I love how Birch has really made an effort to keep in shape...it means that he will be around longer to give me massages, travel to warm places together, and enjoy life together.
Birch and his co-worker Eric.
Another long coming project that Birch and I have been working on is our new chore and behavior program. We have found a theory that we think we are really going to like but because of several things it has taken us a long time to get the program up and running. Birch made these boards and my talented sister-in-law did all the vinyl cutting for us. We have bought the chore and behavior cards through the company and have laminated them. Now we just have to hole punch everything and present the program to the kids. I'll let you know his it all works out.
I love this picture because it shows Birch's wonderful disposition with the kids. Look at the smile on his face while he is instructing the kids on proper ginger bread house construction.
Just so you don't think it was only the kids having fun. Birch also had a tough match of boxing against one of his brothers.
For the past several months we have noticed that our mini-van was in need of new shocks. Birch has always liked to do the car maintenance work and I have been grateful for his skill in this area. Unfortunately this story doesn't have such a happy ending. This is Birch doing something with the struts (I think).
Birch started this killer project at 6:30 am in the morning and didn't come to bed until 11:30 pm that night. In the morning I started out being a nice supportive wife knowing that this project was going to consume the morning (that is the time we had estimated for the project) plus it was going to save us about $100.00 from taking it into a quick repair shop.
By the end of the day, I don't think Birch would even have given me a thumbs up. After all the trips to the tool stores to by additional tools not originally projected, borrowing a neighbor's truck to do these trips since the car was not driveable, and then taking the car for a spin at 11:30 pm at night only to hear a clink clink sound. Monday Birch took the car to Les Schwabs where they quickly took the shocks off again (this is the part that took FOREVER for Birch because he didn't have the right air tool thingy) and then tightened a little screw the clink clink was gone. Even though the whole project ended up costing us MORE then if we had hired it out, Birch still claims that it was a good experience and he is glad he now owns a few more tools. In hindsight, I think I would have gone to the store bought him a gift card and then enjoyed the day together as a family. I'll have to remind myself that in the future.

Update on Alex

Alex started January off with one of his not so favorite things...another surgery. This one was VERY minor and was done in Yakima and only lasted twenty minutes. He naturally was still very nervous about the procedure, being put to sleep, any pain he might feel, etc... My mom had made several hospital gowns for his previous surgeries which was such a blessing for him to have something familiar as he was always understandably very anxious. Now Alex is too big for his homemade gowns so he got to wear these cute hospital jammies. From his facial expression you can see that he didn't think they were so manly.
Although this procedure had nothing to do with Alex's external ear I thought some of you might enjoy viewing a recent shot of his man-made creation. The "surgery" that Alex had on Jan. 3rd was to clean the inside of his ear canal out. Last November Alex had his ear canal drilled and inner-ear parts created. Although the surgery would be considered a success the canal is so small (about the size of a pencil lead) and was made with hair producing skin that the canal easily gets clogged with wax and dead skin cells, thus blocking the canal opening. This decreases Alex's hearing capabilities (though he doesn't really notice this since he has always enjoyed great hearing from his other ear) and without being totally put to sleep it is hard for the doctor to get a thorough cleaning of his ear canal. The ENT that did the procedure foresees this being an ongoing problem and thinks that Alex should have an additional internal surgery to widen the canal. He recommends at least yearly cleaning of Alex's ear canal under anesthesia.
Just a little reminder of the amazing external ear creation that Dr. Grant Fairbanks in Salt Lake City performed over four surgeries. These are molds that he created prior to the surgery so he could practice what he needed to create before the actually operating time. The ear on the right is the ear he was born with and the ear on the left is his other ear--the final goal.
This is Alex coming out of the anesthesia. He wasn't too happy to find that they had put in an IV but in the end the doctors felt they needed to. Alex has a sensitive tummy to anesthetics and he threw up right after being put to sleep. So along with deciding that he needed some anti-nausea medicine and realizing that the procedure was going to take a bit longer than anticipated they put in the IV. After Alex fully woke up and was monitored for a bit, we headed to Subway so commemorate each surgery we have had. The two of us have eaten ALOT of Subway sandwiches in the last few years. Alex stayed home from school the rest of the day but felt up to going by the next day.
Alex was given two models this year for Christmas. This one was given by Grannie. Alex and Grannie worked together on it while in Spokane and then once we came home to Yakima Birch and Alex finished it up. Alex did a great job painting the model and applying the decals.
Alex is a competitive bowler! He was trying to take all of Daddy's tips and be a good as him.
Alex and his friend Caleb Cox hitting the slopes.
Alex made a very nice card for Santa Christmas Eve.
With all the time at home over Christmas break the kids got quite creative at entertaining themselves. Alex had a blast dressing up and acting like a nerd one Sunday afternoon.
Much to his momma's surprise, Alex has really taken to the karaoke machine. He usually isn't much of a singer but man when he turns on "The House of the Rising Sun" he can really belt it out!

Update on Tyler

Tyler is a pro-sledder. After we went sledding we went to a nearby Elk Feeding Station. The kids were fascinated to see the hundreds of elk gathered around feeding on the hay.
Another pro-bowler on the way!
I'm not sure how Tyler got in this position. Birch was taking the picture so I'm assuming he got into this predicament by himself.
Tyler is quite the singer!!
I loved how creative Tyler was with his assignment to be the THREE WISEMEN. After I told him what he was to act out, he asked how he was supposed three different people. I told him that I was sure he could figure someway. I thought his three hats representing the three wisemen was so creative!
Tyler and Alex have always shared a special brotherly bond. Tyler was delighted when he drew Alex's name for Christmas. As you can see from the picture Alex loved the new biking gloves that Tyler picked out for him.

Update on Sister (aka Alysee)

Alysee goes back and forth on her love for the snow. She does enjoy sledding but she hates it when her pants get wet or snow falls in her boots. She had an especially good time in the snow last Saturday. She whizzed down that hill and went over jumps like her brothers.
Alysee is not a bad bowler herself. She enjoyed getting to wear special shoes for the event.
Although this picture doesn't really show Alysee's face I still thought it had to be shared. When I read the part of Mary becoming with child, Alysee quickly pulled up her jammies and shoved that baby under (Coop wasn't so interested in Alysee hauling him around as Jesus at this point). If only childbirth was as easy as Alysee made it out to be : )
Alysee on the velcro wall at the "Jump and Bounce" indoor play center.

Update on Nate

As I have mentioned previously, Nate LOVES to go sledding. For Christmas this year he got his very own Ski-bob. He was SO excited!!
Nate also loves to bowl. He really got quiet the technique down this time. We would literally run with the ball and then throw that heavy thing as far as he could just in time to stop before he got to the slippery runway for the balls. It was hilarious to watch!
We spent Christmas evening and the following two days in Spokane with Birch's family. The last last day there we all went to a place called "Jump and Bounce." We reserved the place so the kids (and most of the mommies and daddies) ran wild jumping on those inflatable bouncers, boxing on an inflatable ring, going down slides...and having their daddies throw them against the Velcro wall. As you can see from the picture Nate sort of liked this part of the excursion.
This year for Christmas the kids each drew a siblings name and then did an extra hard job to earn five dollars toward a trip to Walmart. Not only did they buy a gift for that sibling with the five dollars but they also did a service for that person and made a homemade gift for them. Alex drew Nate's name this year. As you can see Nate was thrilled with his thoughtful gift Alex picked out for him. (Side note: I'm sure Alex would be embarrassed if you all thought that the cabbage patch doll he is holding was his. No worries...mommy thought that Cooper needed his very own baby. I think in this picture Alex was in the process of opening the package for Coop.)
We have had very few Christmas Eve's home together as a family to decide what traditions we would have. This year we wanted to make it a family time and Birch and I planned several fun things to do together. We had homemade pizza, then made a gingerbread house, opened a present from our great-grandmas and great-grandpas, played a game, and then acted out Luke II. Nate loved his chance to get sticky and decorate the gingerbread house!
Nate's role in the nativity story was as a shepherd.