Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Little Lady Turns Four

 Chloe has been counting down for months until her Fourth Birthday FINALLY arrived!  The morning started out with waffles and then was spent watching the other kids do swim lessons (one of the things that had to go after she started sportin' her pink cast).
 For lunch Chloe chose to have Burger King Happy Meals at the park.  Daddy was able to join us for lunch.
 A few weeks ago I found this Little Tikes Cozy Coupe car for $7.00 at Goodwill.  I've always loved these but haven't gotten one over the years because I figured it would not bring out the best in my kids (one car + too many kids to share it=fighting).  So one of the perks of being the last child was realizing my dream.  The rest of the kids all worked together to scrub it up clean for Chloe and then Alysee and I found these cute removable wall stickers from the Dollar Store that they added to personalize the car.  Chloe was DELIGHTED!  The kids have spent several hours over the last few days tying other little bikes together with rope and pulling Chloe around.
 Love these two girls!  Alysee and Chloe generally LOVE being with each other.  Alysee loves organizing things for Chloe to do and learn.  Each night she works on teaching her another letter and has her practice writing it.  They both have a love of animals and bugs and both can chat up a storm.
 For dinner Chloe originally chose to have pancakes but the rest of the kids didn't think having syrup twice in a day was okay so they convinced her to have Papa Murphy's cheese bread.  Chloe is in a super picky annoying stage and has limited foods that she currently enjoys.  We also enjoyed sliced strawberries, pink watermelon juice, and a delicious salad with our cheese bread.  I was totally lame in the dessert department AGAIN and talked up how cool these mini ice creams would be with sprinkles.  She was happy and more excited about her new Baby Alive dolly that pees.  Jena, her new doll has been toted around with Chloe ever since.  She only came with one diaper so I succumbed and bought a mega pack of real newborn diapers one more time so Jena is not peeing all over my floor.
 After dinner we hurried and loaded in the car to head to the Bears baseball game.  We had free tickets and Chloe LOVES going to the games and eating treats while scoping out the mascot, Boomer the Bear.  We had lots of friends that went to the game and we stayed way too late but had a ball.  It was a perfect ending to this special day.

 Chloe is the perfect cherry to our family sundae!  She is a delightful girl!  

Her favorites include: going to preschool, any social interaction with anyone no matter their age, animals, bugs, playing with her siblings (especially outside), going to the kids' schools, anything pink or purple, candy, gum, going anywhere with her daddy, watching Angelina Ballerina, Dora, or Strawberry Shortcake, coloring, play dough, playing with her cousins Sage and Mila, going to anyone's house, and talking on the phone.  

One of her top favorites is going over to our neighbor's house, Don and MaryJane.  They are kind of like our adoptive grandparents.  Chloe will scope out Don working in the backyard and will immediately come beg to go to their house.  If Don is not outside she has been caught several times standing at our fence and yelling, "Don, Don!!!  Come out and play with me."  Don is so sweet to Chloe and will lift her over the fence (actually Chloe has learned to scale the fence by herself now) and then push her on his swing or pull her around in their wagon.  They have the cutest playhouse for their grandkids that Chloe thinks is hers and she loves to play in it as well.  We've tried to not overuse our friendship too much so Don doesn't start doing his yard work by headlamp to avoid his side kick Chloe.  

She dislikes chewy meat, most anything we have for dinner, going to bed, staying in bed, being quiet in bed, being in the car for long periods of time, being told she cannot beg Don and MaryJane to go to their house, and not getting her way.

Love this girl!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Happy Father's Day 2012

My kids are so blessed to have such a wonderful daddy!  I have been reminded this past year to not take this time we have on earth for granted.  I cherish my husband and am so thankful that he is a man of God and a wonderful father.

Several months ago Birch and I watched an amazing movie called "Courageous."  I just loved its message of calling on fathers to step it up. At the end of the movie the fathers are challenged to sign and commit to the following resolution.  What a difference it would make in the world if all dads took on this challenge!  I'm thankful for my husband who does his best to live up to this resolution!

I DO solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.
I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.
I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.
I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.
I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.
I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.
I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.
I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.
I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.
I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.
I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.
I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. ---Joshua 24:15

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

RV There Yet?

The morning after school got out for the summer we told the kids that we had a surprise overnight trip we were going to take the kids on.  They were BEGGING us for clues -- how far are we going?  Could we walk there?  Do we need warm clothes?  Are we taking a tent?  Are we going to Grannie's house or Great Wolf Lodge?  The questions and guesses went on and on.  Birch and I loaded up the car the night before so the kids wouldn't have any clues.  All while we were driving the kids were changing their guesses as they would read the road signs.  It was so fun for Birch and me because we knew the kids would have NO IDEA what we were doing.

 An hour and fifteen minutes later we pull into "RV THERE YET" in Richland, WA.  The kids were still totally confused -- it was awesome!  So a little background:  this past December on an online coupon thing I bought a $100 coupon for two days and one night of an RV rental.  The kids have always wanted to go on a trip in an RV and so I thought this would be a perfect way for us to try it out. Since we knew it would be expensive to travel far with the costs of gas we decided to pick up the RV and head to Vantage, WA for some rock climbing.
The kids were all SUPER excited!
After a quick training from the owner of the rental shop we all loaded in and Birch was off -- kind of crazy that anyone can drive one of these things.  It was a bit of an adventure filling up with gas and propane but we survived.
The kids spent the next hour and half lounging around.  These next two pictures are way to calm looking.  Really they spent most of the time making me so nervous I thought I was going to pee my pants with their running around, "surfing", and jumping on the bed.  I finally told them that they had to pick a spot to sit and play board, eat licorice, and not get too close to me.  It just made me so nervous not having any seat belts.
Alysee was sad that she left her book in the mini-van but she did enjoy a little nap.  Might I add that the kids went the bathroom just about a million times while we were driving.  You would have thought that I fed them all prune juice prior to our travels.

Birch did amazing driving this 35 foot long beast!!!
We arrived in Vantage, WA at The Feathers where we really love to climb as a family.  Having the RV parked there was the perfect solution for family rock climbing.  What are we going to do next time? Not only could everyone poop non-stop (seriously what is it with rock climbing that makes my kids need to poop constantly) but also when the little kids got hot and tired of climbing they could just go down to the air conditioned RV and watch a movie while stuffing their faces with licorice (we seriously ate a whole tub of licorice -- that is like 4 pounds in two days).
Birch didn't get to do too much climbing because most of the time he was belaying.  He did set up this first climb, though.
Cooper was super excited to climb and actually made it up the highest he has ever gone...coming down proved to be a problem.  Birch ended up having to scramble up the side of the rock face and help Coopy down.
Alysee did awesome and seemed even more confident this time climbing.

My handsome hubby!

It had been a while since I last belayed but I was reminded how much I enjoy it as long as I'm doing it for a small little guy.
Nate is like a beast on the rocks.  He has very little fear and scampers up the face of the rock like it is a piece of cake.
Chloe wanted her turn and wasn't going to let her gimpy arm hold her back.
We adjusted by creating a little awkward swing for her -- she loved it and would have stayed hanging for hours if we had let her.
Tyler went up a very challenging course.  He was really pushed at the end of the climb but made it to the top.
The only problem was he totally froze.  In the past he has descended down the climb with ease but something happened mentally and he just couldn't get through it.  We talked to him, encouraged him, and tried to coach him but he just couldn't do it.  Birch ended up climbing around the backside of the rock and clipped himself on with Tyler and they came down together.  Tyler was really frustrated with himself.  We're hoping this experience doesn't hinder him from our next climbing experience.
Next up was me.  We own two ropes now so it is nice to have several climbers going up at the same time.  We did find it tricky to also take videos and still shots.
I've found that I enjoy climbing when it is not too hard but still feels like I've accomplished something.
Climbing Lovers!
Alex climbed several times and did quite a bit of belaying for the kids and Birch.  He cleaned up the last climb.
As you can see, Alex is quite confident on the rock.  (Opps...just noticed that he is missing his helmet.  Bad parents.)
After we were all done climbing we drove to our campground at Wanapum State Park on the Columbia River.  After plugging ourselves in we had all the free electricity and water we could want.  We cooked up hamburgers, corn on the cob, chips, and grapes for dinner.
Tyler and Coop were little pyromaniacs and they tended the fire all evening.
Alysee was busy making an outdoor fortress for the lizard that Chloe caught while we were rock climbing.  She instantly fell in love with her new pet and was devastated when she found it dead the morning after we got home.  Chloe was positive that it was just sleeping...but it never woke up.
The Litter.
After dinner it was like 10 pm but the kids were all dying to watch a movie on the flat screen TV.  We lasted for about half of the movie UP before turning in for the night.
Sleeping accommodations for a bit tight (not for me and Birch) but it worked just fine.  Alysee and Alex somehow won the bed while the other kids all found a spot of the floor.  Birch and I had our own private room with actually a really comfy bed.
We all slept great and started the day off with pancakes for breakfast.  Then all the kids and Birch headed down to the water to play while I enjoyed a hot shower.  Now this is my kind of camping! 
Chloe was such a good sport about keeping her cast out of the water and sand.  We knew that she was going in for her second surgery two days later so we decided to risk it and let her have fun.  She ended up doing great!
The water was chilly but that didn't keep the kids from playing in it.
Chloe jumping for joy!
How sweet is this picture??!!!
The boys love spending time with their daddy!

Alex, Tyler, Birch, and I played a little "street ball."
Tyler had some sweet hits!
Coop, Nate, and Alysee made all sorts of cool creations in the sand.
 The kids and their cool dad.
 After heading back to the RV and having hot BBQ Shredded Pork Sandwiches for lunch we pulled out of the campground and went to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park.  We also drive by the signs for it on our way to Spokane and have never stopped in the past.  It was REAL boring and I think we can all cross that off of our bucket list.  If you look closely under the metal grade you can see the ancient petrified tree -- Yeah Us!

Everyone was like, "Dad, can we PLEASE go back to our air conditioned RV and lay around and eat yummy food."
This little girl had it easy with a piggy back ride throughout the whole hike.
The trip back to Richland, WA was bittersweet for the kids.  They polished off several pounds of pistachios and enjoyed making up crazy games in the RV.  They were sad to see the trip end....
or so they thought...we again surprised the kids and drove to the movie theater to use some gift cards that Grannie gave the kids for Christmas.  We all watched Madagascar 3.

Next stop was to McDonald's to use another gift card.  We bought smoothies, chicken sandwiches, and french fries for everyone and drove to the Columbia River Temple to eat in the park that is right next to it.

After dinner we all enjoyed walking around the temple.

What a perfect way to end our fabulous trip thinking of eternal families!  

On the way home I was asking the kids what their favorite meal was that we ate on the trip.  Chloe's responded, "Let's be honest Mom; it was walking around the RV while driving."  She didn't even care about what we consumed the whole trip but memorable to her was the freedom of NO CAR SEAT.  She reminded us of that several times as we were driving home and she was whimpering about having to be stuck in her sweaty, tight carseat.

The kids are all chomping at the bit to make this RV trip a tradition.  What a fun memory!!!