Monday, September 24, 2007

A-Very Good Name

I know I should just go to bed but I am having some rambling thoughts that I thought I would just get out before I do. Avery. It is such a simple name, and I haven't thought much about it until recently. It is the last name of the man I fell in love with and that in itself makes it good. But there is soo much more! No one spells it wrong. No one asks you how to spell it or even to repeat it. (Which I guess is a GREAT thing when you have a name like Saroya or Jaleigh...) My kids are the first ones to be the "Star of The Week" in the class, or bring the Show & Tell bag. In school many times the kids are given a number to go after their names on all work (maybe in case they can't read the name??) and this year Ethan gets to write "Ethan Avery #1" on all of his papers! That is fun for a kid, right?? It is also a short name. Filling out those little black dots on meap tests wouldn't be soo bad. (Do they still do that?) I can appreciate this mostly because I used to be a "W". A nine letter "W". I always seemed to sit in the back of the class (thankfully- I don't think they do this anymore!) and the Show & Tell bag was usually lost by the time it was my turn. I was always at the end. Maybe that's why I didn't "apply" myself in high school. (Just kidding MOM!!) There are good things about being a "W" I suppose. I could wait & see what everyone else brought for show & tell, and then really blew them away when it was my turn. I could sit in the back of the room (I think we got away with more in the back of the room.) When looking at posted grades, everyone had found their grade before they saw what I got. (With an "A" name it's easy for everyone to see!) Anyway- I just like my last name and I am glad my kids get "A" benefits. Oh- and by the way- I would still have married Nathan even if he was Nathan Wartbottom. (I maybe would have just suggested we keep MY last name... :) What experiences have you had with a last name? What do you love about yours?

In other news, I have posted previously about our recent acorn collecting. Well, after polishing and sorting I decided to put them into a vase and leave out as part of my autumn decorations.

After a couple of days I find my kids starting to be more and more interested. At first I thought, "Oh- They love acorns like I do". They are always on the lookout for cool ones. But when it came to congregating around the table every day for several minutes and with much conversation, I knew something was up. Sure enough. The kids had decided we had pets!

They LOVED watching the worms crawl around! "Oh look! One is getting out of that big acorn! Look- That one is trying to climb higher!" The next morning they ran to the acorn dish to see what their pet's were up to. I actually think they named them... Needless to say, I was feeling guilty about not affording my children the privilege to own a real pet so I let them hang around for a while. When I finally had Nathan take them out to the woods, the kids were so upset with me! Luckily the neighbors went on vacation, so they now get to look after the bunny instead. It is enough of a distraction for the time being. Next year when we go acorn collection, we are going to bake them in the oven before displaying them... (yuck, I know...)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Get Away

Some friends of ours have a cabin "up north" and said we could use it anytime we wanted to. OK- you don't have to offer that twice for us to jump on the bandwagon... We planned it for Nathan's next weekend off. Unfortunately the Friday that we left I had to have a small medical procedure done first. When I got home and happened to glance in the mirror I noticed a bruise on my face. Apparently, it hurt so bad I actually gave myself a bruise without noticing. Nice.

We pulled the kids out of school a little early and headed up north. We really didn't know what to expect but it was away from home, in the woods, and not even close to any cell service. YEA! As soon as we pulled in the driveway the kids yelled, "COOL!! AWESOME!!" and jumped out of the car to start exploring. The cabin has other cabins around it but there are tons of trees surrounding that gives you lots of privacy. When we were up there no one was at any of the other cabins except one person down the road. In the backyard there is an adorable curvy little river the kids just loved to look in and see the huge salmon swim by. As Ethan said in the thank you note he wrote, "We fished off the dock, but all we caught was seaweed."

Inside the cabin were two bedrooms, but there were beds everywhere. I LOVED that! To me it just added to the charm of the place. It was really just a place to crash and enjoy being away. It was also nice to lay on a bed in the living room and watch whatever happened to be on the 1 channel we got reception for. :) When we were putting the kids to bed we realized there were limited electrical outlets for nightlights. So rather than undo and redo everything, we lit a candle in the kids room, and they watched it flicker until they fell asleep. (Then we blew it out before going to bed ourselves!) It just was so much fun to do even small things out of the ordinary.

The next morning it was another gorgeous day. The kids were so excited to eat breakfast because I bought those little single serve boxes of cereal. That was something I remembered from my childhood vacations and I remember being just as excited. :) After breakfast the kids ran outside to ride bikes and explore the outdoors.
They soon found 3 canoes in the garage and our friends encouraged us to "use whatever we wanted to" so we got ready for a canoe ride. Nathan drove up to a bridge we passed on our way to the cabin, and parked our van there then rode his bike back to the cabin. It was beautiful. There was so much natural wildlife around. It was almost like we were canoeing through a zoo! This huge crane (I think?) that stayed just ahead of us almost the whole way. Honestly, I was worried that we were going to see a bear. I had heard stories from friends with cabins in the area, and in the cabin there is a photo that someone snapped of a bear. Ethan said, "Was that picture taken here??" I said that I didn't think so, but who knows?? Don't worry.. we didn't see any!

So we were almost to the bridge and there were 3 ladies on the bridge telling us to watch for the rocks. Then all of a sudden, we hit a sandbar and the current was so strong it flipped us right over! All of us in our sweatshirts and jeans. Nathan was right by Jaleigh so he grabbed her but he was also holding the water filled canoe. She was freaking out, screaming bloody murder. Saroya started crying and yelling, "I wanted to go under the bridge. That's not fair. Why did you do that??" Ethan was saying, "Cool! Let's do that again!" I took Jaleigh and Saroya over to the bank to get them on dry land. The ladies from the bridge came over and showed the kids a little turtle they had found to get them distracted (I was sooo thankful!).
Once the situation was under control, and I knew everyone was ok, I realized that I had my camera around my neck. It was wet and I was worried. I took a couple of pictures that turned out funky, but it seems to be ok now! Everything we were wearing was so heavy, we all stripped down to our undies and drove back to the cabin, laughing all the way!

Luckily it had turned out to be a nice sunny day, so by the time we needed the sweats again that night, they were dry. I wish I had taken a picture of everything laying out to dry, but at the time my camera was one of those things...

Later in the day, Ethan wanted to try the canoe again. Saroya & Jaleigh said "no way" at first, but then Saroya mustered up enough courage to try. I was glad because this time, they made it under the bridge!! YEA!! That had to be one of the best moments.

The rest of the night was filled with a trip to the local farmers market for a "sweet" fix, a campfire, marshmallows and a game of old maid. Everything was perfect as we nestled into our beds. It had really gotten cold, but we didn't know how to or want to, mess with the heater. To me that was another thing that was fun, not just wanting to heap on the blankets but HAVING to!! When the kids woke up the next morning (as always to Miss J screaming, "I think it's morning time! Get up, look- It's morning time!") they all ran and jumped in bed with us and we snuggled to stay warm. After Nathan realized the pilot light to the water heater had gone out sometime and there was no more even warm water, we had a magnificent pancake breakfast, packed up and headed for home. Nathan has wondered if we are depriving our kids by not taking them on big trips, like to Walt Disney World, or other places like that. After a weekend like this, I think great memories can be made in far away places, out your back door, or at a friends cabin. I hope memories like these make them just as happy.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Best Week Ever...

Ok- maybe not the best week ever, but it was a really good one!

Monday after school, the girls had their first gymnastics class for the year. It is soo much fun to watch them. They absolutely love it.

Tuesday... Great weather. As soon as the kids get off the bus we decide to go to PJ Hoffmaster and go for a fall hike. See- I am strangely obsessed with acorns. I don't get it either, but I just love the browns and greens in every shade. The kids know I love them so we are always collecting them in the fall. PJ Hoffmaster has lots of HUGE ones so obviously I chose the location...

Each time we would come to a fork, we let the kids decide which way to go. The trail we ended up on was really cool. There was a section that said this:

So we did....

And another place had lots of trees that had fallen over the trail so it was really like an obstacle course.

As we continued and found lots of cool acorns, bugs, mushrooms (yes we did take pictures, and no I won't bore you with them!!) and a few leaves that had just started to change.

It was a really windy day and the further we hiked, the louder the wind seemed to be. Up ahead Nathan noticed that the trees stared to show more light and there seemed to be a clearing. The kids picked up their steps and soon we came upon this amazing sight... (and of course the picture does it NO justice.) The waves were cresting out as far as you could see and going in every direction. It The wind we heard were actually the waves crashing and it was the most breathtaking view. There was such an incredible energy with the clouds, the waves, the wind, the warm air and not another soul in sight. It's not like we hadn't seen the beach with waves before, but it was completely unexpected. We thought we had hiked far from the beach.

The kids thought it would be good surfing conditions. I was glad to keep them on the shore this day..

We stayed and played for as long as we could justify and then we headed to Culver's for some delicious dinner. Left feeling energized, filled and amazed.

Wed, usual YM/YW's activities and Scouts for the boys. Good to get into that routine again.

Thursday we made another bus stop decision, but this time to go rollerblading on the bike path. Luckily for you, I didn't have my camera but it was so much fun! We can all rollerblade at a pretty good pace now with Jaleigh in the stroller. She always wants to rollerblade too, so we bring her skates in the stroller and then we stop at the park so we can rest, and she can practice her rollerblading. Nathan & I were able have some really good one on one conversations about the future and his career. I love when we have time and are not talking about money, schedules, appointments etc. Came home feeling really good and connected.

Friday, Nathan didn't get home from school until about 6:30 and I had dinner made so we could eat right away. Even though I know Nathan was anxious to get to his homework (because he had to work all weekend) he suggested that we play a board game together. That is one of our favorite family pastimes. It was so fun to all laugh together. Even Jaleigh was getting into it! While shaking the dice up and down and all around between both of her hands she would whisper "Common 2!! Give me a 2!" which of course had no rhyme or reason. It was funny! Went to bed happy.

Finally on Saturday, the kids and I went to a camp for handicapped kids with our stake and helped clean things up. It seemed like such a small thing that we were doing, and by the time the camp opens next year won't it just need to be done again? But I was so glad that we were there, doing what we were asked to do and if nothing else, helping my kids understand service. Boy were they proud of all the chairs we washed and the tables we cleaned. They took pride in what they were doing. It was also good for them to see their grandma and grandpa there doing everything they could do to help too. You can never be too busy to serve in whatever capacity you are called to. I really think they got it too. I overheard Ethan talking to a school friend about it later that night. Relaxed tonight feeling content, blessed and thankful for a family that takes every opportunity to be together and have fun.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


I just love going to the Farmers Market. I usually give Jaleigh some change and she picks out an apple here, a gourd there, a tiny pumpkin here. She is thrilled beyond words at her treasures. I have such a great respect for farmers. To see these old men and their wives, whose hands are so old, worn, callused, but strong. Their faces lined and weathered but unyielding. They have such a connection with the earth and with life. I can't really describe it, but it makes me so sad that they work so hard and get so little money in return. Yet they never give up. Someday I want to photograph farmers. Weird, I know. It's just something....

So we went to the Farmers Market this morning, came home and canned. I was quite proud of myself too, because as I began I had no clue about what I was doing. I have canned tomatoes in the past, but it didn't come back immediatly. Then I remember Grandma Pauline (aka Old Ears), "Now, I just boil them down until they are crushed and then put them in the jars. They will seal without processing." I remember her standing in my kitchen, Grandpa in the other room looking at books with Saroya. Then it all came back.... YEA!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Beach Before School

There was really no other way to celebrate the last day before school started than to go to the beach. The weather was really nice and since it was Labor day, even Grandma got to come! We packed lunches and actually stayed longer at one time than we have all summer. With the beach being so close to us, it's not uncommon for us to go out for an hour or two. Just to get away from the phone, dishes, laundry, etc. and sit together (Nathan & I), talk and watch the kids entertain themselves. I love it!
As I have mentioned before, Jaleigh loves the sand. Lately she has decided she needs to make a sand angel at least twice before she leaves. That is great, but can you imagine how much sand we bring home in that kids head??

She also has a best friend that always follows her around...

This is a pool that Ethan & Saroya tried to secure for their "minnow" fish. They just couldn't figure out why there were more fish sometimes, and less fish another time...

And then... the dreaded SCHOOL!!! Actually the only one dreading it was me. This year everyone including Nathan are off to school. Granted, Jaleigh only does it 2 mornings a week and Nathan only goes IN to school on Fridays, I still dreaded it. I can't really blame my lack of postings on Nathan, but he is on the computer NON STOP!! I'm just not used to sharing my computer with anyone. He gets up with me and helps get the kids off to school. Then he starts working on school work with short breaks for eating, until about 4pm when the kids get home. Then we do family things, eat dinner and get the kids to bed. BOOM he is back on the computer doing school work again. I am really impressed with his dedication and drive, so I don't worry about not being on the computer. It's just so different than before.

OK- back to the kids first day of school.

Ethan would only let me drop him off at the student drop off, and I spared him the humiliation of me crawling out the window to get a picture of him walking to school, so I left it at that. Wow- he is getting too big!! Saroya let me walk her to the class and posed for every picture I took of her, even in front of the whole class!! That was it though. After that...
I crossed the line and she let me know it. I have long been concerned about what to send a kid for lunch that doesn't eat bread, or crackers, or much of anything. Now, don't think we haven't tried! We started a new thing for dinner- If you don't at least try what Mom makes for dinner, you wait until breakfast. (By the way we are 2 for 2. Each time they have not eaten dinner and opted to wait for breakfast, one of them has woken up the next morning puking.... Who knows?!?!) Anyway- so I go to school during her first lunch to see how things are going. As soon as she sees me, she gives me the hand signal to go away. I rush to her, "No- No!! I just wanted to see how things are going! How is your lunch? Oh- raise your hand for a napkin, your spaghetti is everywhere. Is it still hot??" Finally she gives me a look. "What?" "Mom- if you miss me go home and cry by yourself. I am FINE!" "Uh... OK... See you at the bus stop?" Don't worry though, every time she comes home she can't wait to tell me all about her day. That makes this Momma very happy...