Friday, July 31, 2009

Am I a Pre-teen Now?

When Alex asked me this question the other day, reminding me that HE is now 11 years old, I went into a little parental shock. Am I a parent of a PRE-TEEN now?

While in Oregon Alex not only played hard but he partied hard too. My mom made Alex his favorite cake, a Boston Cream Pie. He also designed his own dinner complete with BBQ chicken, rice-a-roni, green beans (he didn't choose those), fruit, and Sprite.
Wonder what he wished for?
The morning started out with a trip to a Par 3 course for a couple of hours of golf with Poppi and Daddy. Alex has been taking weekly golf lessons all summer though First Tee Golf. It's a nationwide program that promotes golf through teaching kids nine "core values." We've been really impressed with the program (plus it is FREE) and Alex is always so excited for his weekly lesson.
From golf we headed to the zoo and then drove the rest of the way home so he could open a few more presents. Alex was delighted with his new mountain bike and other fun goodies. He sure looks handsome in those new shirts.

Alex is a pretty awesome kid! He is a self motivator, a wonderful brother, trustworthy, smart, athletic, and a handsome kid. From the get-go he has been a fighter and has endured several surgeries to re-create his ear and now is venturing into the orthodontic world to start working on his jaw and teeth issues that are correlated with his microtia. Alex dreads trips to doctors' offices but yet is brave and he is great at offering empathetic advice to those going through similar situations.

So how are the following four pictures connected?

Last September Alex came to me and asked if I thought he could finish reading the Book of Mormon by his birthday if he started reading it then. I found this great online calculator that can figure out how much you need to read each day in order to meet your desired completion goal. So that day he started reading and he finished one week before his birthday. I just think this is such an incredible goal to complete when you are eleven years old. A couple of months ago we decided that his award for finishing reading would be dinner at his choice of restaurant with JUST mom and dad (Chloe ended up weaselling her way into the dinner too) and going out to a movie at the theatre. Having a large family means not a lot of one-on-one time and dinner and movie is a rarity--so this was pretty exciting. Birch and I are so proud of Alex. Not only is this an awesome goal to have attained but it is something that will benefit him for life. Tyler is just behind Alex in reading and should be done by his birthday as well. What an example to me!!

We love you Alex!!!
Coming home from the hospital -- July 1998

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Over the river and through the woods...

it's off to Grandma's house we go.

Isn't the summer about visiting family and having fun together as a family?!! Last weekend we loaded up the car (again) and headed to Timothy Lake near Mount Hood to meet my parents for a little camping trip. For the past several years the kids, Birch, and Poppi have enjoyed a night or two of camping while the baby and I enjoyed a night of one-on-one time with Ami. This year Chloe and I joined in for the first night of camping. It has been a looooong time since I have camped. I was very grateful that the weather was warm, as that is something that is crucial to my happiness (especially when camping).
Chloe was a bit confused when we laid her on the ground in the tent and told her it was time to go to sleep. I think the only thing that saved us was that it was nearly midnight and she was quite tired. The next morning when she woke up it was funny to watch her get up and look around in a daze trying to figure out what was going on.
Since Chloe isn't walking yet the idea of her crawling all over the dirt wasn't too appealing to me since we were going to be leaving soon. She ended up having a ball having her turn at the wheel.
Before Chloe, my mom, and I headed to Corvallis, OR we had a little cherry pit spitting contest. Afterwards, the rest of the kids jumped in the lake and started their many hours of lake fun.
Alysee loved being Tom Sawyer on the blow up mattress that my dad brought up.
These two boys sure do love each other.
Coop spent most of his time "diving" in the water. Nate, Alex, Tyler and the big people played lots of water frisbee.
Poppi set up a good riggin' and Alex caught the one and only fish...a cute little rainbow trout. Poppi fried it up and only the brave sampled a morsel.
Always the entertainer, Poppi taught the boys the true way of doing the Maori warrior chant.
Later in the afternoon they all went to a little gas station and filled up on ice cream and had a great little hike to the beautiful Little Crater Lake.
This shot was taken near Little Crater Lake.
One night the bigger kids were helping get the fire started and Cooper and Nate decided that they wanted to make their own fire...out of dirt. Next thing Birch knew, Cooper was covered in dirt and ended up having an evening swim in the lake. Apparently Cooper didn't think that was too fun as the water temperature was a bit chilly as was the air. They all had a great time exploring and going on a little hike. Once we all reunited in Corvallis we headed to the fun outdoor swim pool/mini-water park. The kids look forward to going their each summer. We just had finished two weeks of swim lessons; I'm not sure if that is what made the difference but Nate turned into a little fish. He was thrilled to show everyone that he could swim. (I may or may not have a bit of a farmer's tan.) Alysee and Poppi had a wild ride down the waterslide. Chloe LOVES the water. In fact the last couple of weeks at swimming lessons were not too much fun for Chloe (or me). She was always crawling over to the swim pool edge and would turn around and then begin to back down into the water...no care for it's depth. She loved having Birch toss her in the air. Ami, Alysee, and Coop had a great time going down the slide, floating in the lazy river (which really isn't that lazy when filled with a bunch of crazy kids), and watching Cooper practice all his bobs. Poppi and Coop turned into alligators; this totally reminds me of swimming with my dad growing up. Tyler couldn't get enough of the lazy river.

Chloe looked too darn cute to not fit in a little
photoshoot. Birch did an awesome job taking these pictures especially since Chloe is always on the GO. After church on Sunday Alex set up the croquet course. My dad loves to play croquet and this seems to go hand-in-hand with Sundays at my parents' home. Once dusk hit Sunday night my dad set up an outside movie theatre. Ami loaded the kids up with candy, popcorn, limeade, and a few other healthy snacks. We all enjoyed watching a good Sabbath movie under the stars. Alysee spent nearly every free moment catching frogs. My parents have a hot tub that primarily goes unused to humans but is the home to several frogs. Alysee is sure that she wants this picture blown up in her room so she can remember Jumpy, Green Speeder, and Climber.
A bunch of wild Ditto animals

Monday mid-morning we packed up and hit the road for the Portland Zoo. We bought a year's membership last year and it worked just perfectly to fit in another trip to the zoo just before it expired. Chloe is obsessed with animals right now and so we thought it would be especially fun. We were right; Chloe loved every hot minute of the zoo. She called everything a "doggy" and "ruffed" at each animal she saw.

After we had gotten our fill of all the animals we climbed back in the car and arrived home Monday evening just in time to finish off celebrating Alex's birthday (more on that to come).

We only wish our trips to Oregon weren't so rushed each time. We miss not being able to see good friends that still live in Oregon but love each moment that we do get to spend with Ami and Poppi. They always make us feel like a million dollars while we are there and leave the kids asking constantly when we can go back. Thanks mom and dad!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Relaxation...here we come!

We just can't seem to get enough fun in this summer. Last weekend we were off on our annual trip to Lake Cavanaugh (just north of Seattle). This year was the BEST weather we have ever had. I LOVED soaking up all that sun shine. I spent most of my waking hours laying in the lawn chair reading a great book. The kids spent every hour playing. Seriously, how do they have enough energy to do that all day? Birch spent every morning and evening skiing until his arms couldn't hold on any longer. And to top it off...we were spending each moment with family that we love.
Where the fun and relaxation all happens!
Nate looks forward to these wave runner rides all year long. Birch and him were the first to take off for an adventuresome ride.
Nate got really brave and loved jumping off the dock.
We made this fun contraption for a cub scout team building project earlier this year. The kids had a blast filling the funnel with water balloons and then launching them.
Tuttu Chloe loving the lake water with her big brother, Alex.
The boys (Alex and Tyler) were a little more brave this year and loved tubing together.
So sweet!

Gangster cousins, Addy and Nate.
All aglow...Chloe Ruth.
Alysee loves hauling Chloe around; too bad it is not a little more two sided.
Wild Aunti Blayre and her mini--Alysee loved some fast waver runner rides together.
Tyler became four dollars richer after finally taking the plunge off the rope swing.
Alex had a great time on the rope swing.
Coop spent the first half of the vacation like this...hanging out next to the hot tub (while trying to keep his swim trunks on).
Coop spent the second half of the trip IN the hot tub. Once Mommy finally got in the water Chloe was one happy water baby. It was hard to pull Cooper out of the hot tub for any meals or bed time.
Daddy's still got IT!!
Mommy ain't got IT!
By the last day all the kids were tubing pros.
Chloe wasn't in love with her boat time...I wonder why?
These two girls are inseparable!!!! They spent EVERY waking hour playing in the hot tub and then running over to the lake. It is so fun to have them be at the age where they are not only nice to each other (cousins do have the capabilities to fight) but that they just LOVE each other.

Are we really half way done with summer? We're having too much fun to stop.