Monday, September 10, 2012

ABH 2012 - A whole lot of spandex

These boys just keep getting more ironman"ish" each year with their annual ABH (all-brother's hike) adventures.  Obviously this year entailed a whole lot of black spandex and not much hiking.  The brothers all met near Banff, Alberta, Canada -- Birch flew into Calgary and his favorite uncle and aunt picked him up from the airport and dropped him off at his sleeping bag at 2:45 am.

 The first day involved pedaling mostly uphill and lots of great views -- they whopped in 70 miles that day.  They started in Radium Hot Springs and finished near Castle Junction.

Kootnay National Park
 The trip wouldn't have been possible without Uncle Dale and Aunt Jinnie.  Everyday the boys would pack up their tents and gear and leave it in Brent's truck.  At some point during the day Dale and Jinnie would come pick up the truck and drive it to that night's campground.  They are our superheros!
 Day Two -- half way through the day they stopped at Lake Louise.  It was spantacular (notice the play on the span-dex)!  Since there were so many tourists they didn't get to strip down to their skivvies and swim.
 Day two was about another 70 miles and Birch's knees started feeling like a grandpa's.  This untraveled road took them over the continental divide toward the town of Field. 
  Day two was awesome because it was mostly downhill.
 Just in case you were wondering the Ditto Boys patented this pose long before Usain Bolt did it in the Olympics.  Basically -- they are awesome!
Day Three - the 70 miles or so were pretty flat from Golden, BC back to Radium Hot Springs there they basked in the hot springs.
Birch loves spending time with his brothers and being physically challenged.  He sure missed the three brothers that were missing this year!  They clocked in 213 miles in the three days -- WOW!!! He flew home just in time for the kids and I to pick him up Sunday morning and scoot to church where he conducted.  I think our soft comfy bed never looked so good that night!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to School -- little diddy about the kidlets

The back to school blues...
or NOT!!!
Tyler, Alysee, Alex all heading off to the first day of school.
Coop and Nate are next to leave.
Chloe is next to head out the door (three afternoons a week)

A little diddy:
Alex - 14 years old; 9th grade (Freshman Campus) 
**What a year!!!  Alex is attending early morning seminary, has several intense classes at school, and running Cross Country for the high school team=one tired boy!!!
Favorite foods:  spaghetti, orange chicken, teriyaki chicken
Favorite song: Anything uplifting or pop genre
Favorite summer trip:  Lake Cavanaugh
Favorite movie:  National Treasurer
Favorite dessert:  Boston Creme Pie
Favorite activity:  anything outdoors
Favorite animal:
A fear:  failing a class
Tyler - almost 12 years old; 6th grade (Middle School)
Favorite foods:  Stromboli, lasagna
Favorite song:  Beautiful
Favorite summer trip:  trip to UT
Favorite movie:  Kung Fu Panda II
Favorite dessert:  cookies and ice cream
Favorite activity:  sports
Favorite animal:  lizard
A fear:  getting bad grades

Alysee - 10 years old; 5th grade (Middle School)
Favorite foods:  teriyaki chicken, Stromboli, pizza
Favorite song:  Love Story by Taylor Swift
Favorite summer trip:  trip to Utah
Favorite movie: 
Favorite dessert:  brownies, ice cream, cookies, and angel food cake
Favorite activity:  read and play outside
Favorite animal: dog
A fear:  doing something embarrassing
Nate - 8 years old; 3rd grade (Elementary School)
Favorite foods: spaghetti, lasagna, orange chicken,
Favorite song:  Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen
Favorite summer trip:  Lake Cavanaugh
Favorite movie:  Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Favorite dessert:  cookies, ice cream, and brownies
Favorite activity:  sports and drawing
Favorite animal:  ?
A fear:  going to the edge of a cliff that is 5000 feet deep
Cooper - 6 years old; 1st grade (Elementary School)
Favorite foods:  cheese pizza and mac n' cheese
Favorite song:  Can't Touch This
Favorite summer trip: trip to Utah and RV trip
Favorite movie:  Cars 2
Favorite dessert:  chocolate bar
Favorite activity:  playing with William Cobia
Favorite animal:  cheetah
A fear:  clowns
Chloe - 4 years old; preschool three afternoons a week (Cute as a Button)
Favorite foods:  man n' cheese, cereal
Favorite song:  Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen
Favorite summer trip:  RV trip
Favorite movie:  Fisher Price Princess movie
Favorite dessert:  candy bar
Favorite activity:  playing with cousins and friends
Favorite animal:  panda
A fear:  thunder
Our days are calm and our afternoons and evenings feel a lot like this picture -- CRAZY!!!  Between picking up kids from school, Cross Country, soccer, scouts, Activity Days, homework, family dinner, etc... we are going all sorts of directions but getting it fine-tuned as the weeks go by.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer Wrap-Up

I've heard the phrase, "the lazy days of summer" but they never seem to hit our house.  We started the summer off running and finished our marathon just in time for school to start.  What a great summer we had!  We packed it in and made so many fun memories!

I had to take a screen shot of one of our most busy weeks this summer just to remember that we all survived and had fun while doing it.  I felt like a bit of a taxi driver this summer but it was wonderful for the kids to be able to participate in so many fun activities.

Here's a few activities that I never shared:
SWIM LESSONS -- Tyler, Alysee and Cooper all took swimming lessons.  Nate didn't take this year since he had cub scout day camp at the same time and Chloe was out of commission with her broken arm. The kids all did great!

GIRLS 5th/6th GRADE PARTY -- I stole this idea from a friend and I'm so glad.  The idea was for all the girls from our church to get-to-know each other since they have all been at different elementary schools and this year will all be at the same middle school.  I wanted the girls to be able to recognize some familiar faces at school with the same standards. 
The party turned out super fun and was a real family affair; everyone helped out to make it a success.
RETAINING WALL/LANDSCAPING/GARDENING -- Birch worked really hard and finished up the retaining wall and cleared out a bunch of weeds and ivy to make a nice little flower garden on the side of the wall.  He did a great job and it is a huge improvement over what it used to look like.
This picture was taken in June just after we planted the garden.  If I took a picture today you would see mounds of weeds, gigantic tomato plants, and sprawling vines of cantaloupe, pumpkins, and honeydew melons.  Birch and I have decided that we like planting the garden but tending to it and harvesting isn't our forte.  We just don't have enough time or love...I did make a mean huge bowl of salsa this week, though.

 KIDS CAMP -- Alex really was wanting to earn some money but has few opportunities to do so.  Over Spring Break he threw his first Kids Camp with Tyler and it was a success.  Alex decided to do a couple of more sessions this summer with Alysee as his assistant (aka. slave).
What a success!!!  On this day the kids painted a real fish with paint and then make imprints with paper.  Super cool and stinky!
Alex earned enough money to buy an iPod touch and upgrade the shoes we were willing to buy for school this year.  It was a lot of work for Alex (and ME); he really did a great job planning super fun activities and the kids all seemed to have a great time!
NEW JOB CHART -- With all the craziness of the summer, Birch and I put together a new job chart.  This is the first time that we have paid the children to be alive : )  Money talks, though!  Basically we gifted each of the kids a certain amount (Alex/Tyler $3; Alysee/Nate $2; Coop/Chloe $1) at the beginning of the week that was a gift (because I don't like the idea that when they do jobs for the family they earn money).  Instead it was a bit of a reverse psychology -- the kids were gifted some money each week and then each day they did NOT complete ALL of their jobs AND cross them off they paid us (the amount listed under their name).  It worked wonders!

ALYSEE GOES TO BAKING CLASSES -- Before school got out I had each of the kids pick something special they would like to do during the summer.  Alysee decided to take three baking classes at a local cake decorating shop with some of her friends.  She had such a good time!  The first week was cupcakes.

The second week she learned to decorate cakes using fondant.  We all thought her cake turned out super cool!
The last week all the girls decorated cookies.  These classes were a win/win...Alysee had a ball and the rest of the kids loved what she brought home.
WEEKLY CAST APPOINTMENTS -- Every week this summer minus a couple when we were traveling Chloe and I made the trek to the orthopedic office.  She had two surgeries, probably 24 x-rays, and six casts throughout the summer.  Everything seems to have healed up nicely -- yahoo!!!
ALEX GOES ON BEACH 50 MILER -- In August, Alex was able to go on the high adventure 50 Miler beach trip along the Washington coast line.  The boys were all such great hikers they actually finished a day and half early.  From the stories we hear from Alex it sounds like it was a real adventure and one of the most physically challenging experiences he has had.

Alex at Thumb Rock.
The boys did not have tents, just a piece of plastic that they made into "tents" to keep the sand and dew off of them each night.
NIGHTLIFE -- Honestly, all my reading is done between 10:30 pm and 1:30 am. unless we are on vacation.  I just calculated that since April I have read 23 books.  Wow!!!  I am impressed with myself because I have also FINALLY made it a habit again of daily scripture reading.  That is a huge accomplishment for myself!

NATE AND COOP PLAY SUMMER BASEBALL -- Nate and Coop choose to play summer ball for their "extra" this summer.  Birch coached the team so it was a real family affair. 
Coop had a great time.
Nate has all sorts of amazing skills.
Coop insistent on wearing this big ol' baseball pants; for years he has envisioned what he would look like the first time he got to play an organized sport so we just couldn't let him down and never told him what a gangster ball player he looked like.
Nate had some awesome hits throughout the season.
Nate and Coop
It was a hot season but they all had so much fun!
FIRST TEE GOLF FOR ALEX, TYLER, AND NATE -- This is our fourth year participating in the First Tee Golf Program.  It really is a wonderful program that teaches kids golf and life skills.  It's a pretty intense program as each of the boys meet once a week (all on different days/times) for their lessons.
Alex and Tyler played several rounds of golf on their off days.
 PHOTOSHOOTS -- Birch and I did 13 photoshoots this summer.  We are a good team -- he takes the pictures and I do the editing.  We have officially retired for the year now.  We love taking all the pictures but it sure a balancing act with the family.
HOT DATE WITH HUBBY -- Birch and I just calculated that from June until September we drove 6,575 miles in our mini-van.  I can't even count how many times we filled up the van.  Through all this craziness and weekend trips Birch and I found time to squeeze in a couple of hot dates.  A friend of ours restores old cars and has been begging us to take his fancy Corvette on a date.  Birch and I had a great night cruising around, grocery shopping (hot...I know), and eating out at a delicious restaurant.

So much for lazy summer days...we like to pack it in and live it up!!!