Friday, November 8, 2013

Halloween Fun

Halloween has been over for a week, and I think I have recovered sufficiently from the chaos of it all.  My house is back in order with costumes all tucked away until next year, and my children have eaten their weight in candy.
The truth is, I have a serious love/hate relationship with that holiday we call Halloween. I mean, it is just one night, right?  But is is? Over the years, it seems that Halloween has morphed from one fun filled day of costume parades at school and an evening of candy gathering to trunk-or-treats for weeks leading up to it, several candy gathering events on the actual day and plenty of parties to attend.  Whew!
It is still fun, but it is by far more exhausting to me than even all of the preparations for Christmas.  It's just as much work but all crammed into a smaller span of time.
We try to choose our participation in all of these activities carefully and we simply have to say "no" to much of it, but we have several activities that have become tradition that we all look forward to.

Pumpkin Carving

We always grew up carving pumpkins together as a family, and it's something we have continued with.  We grow our own pumpkins each year, and the boys pick which will be theirs long before the night we get to cut them open.  We even bought the little carving kit this year, mostly for the cheap knives that made it so the boys could be more involved in their own carving, but each of them still opted to design their own face, rather than choose a template from the accompanying book. 

Dave is so good to help each one, although Chad pretty much did his on his own this year. 
 Jenna had to be right there with us, standing at the table trying to peer up at what were doing. 

 The finished products! 


Each of my boys picked what they wanted to be this year.  I used to love doing family themed costumes where we all coordinated, but that was a TON of work and often, my kids would rather be something else.  Not worth the battle!  Chad chose Harry Potter.  Thankfully, we were able to borrow nearly all of what we needed from a generous neighbor.  That was a blessing!   He made a great Harry Potter! 

Tyler wanted to be a zombie from Minecraft.   After many mistakes, we got the costume complete, and it looked great!, but it was impossible to wear and him be able to see well.  We tried a handful of fixes, but none seemed to work well enough for trick or treating in the dark.  In the end, (after all that work) he opted to wear . . .
a dog costume instead.  Oh well.  On the bright side, it was probably significantly warmer than the zombie costume. 
 Greyson spotted his costume a while back when were shopping at Costco.  He LOVES firemen, and he has a fireman hat he wears everywhere!!!  So when he asked if we could buy it. I couldn't say no.  It was a perfect costume for him, and so easy to wear over clothes. 
We borrowed this little butterfly costume from Dave's sister.  I eyed a handful of darling costumes at Costco for her as well, but ultimately, she hardly even wore the one we had.  She totally hated the hat and the wings-drove her crazy!  But she was darling non the less.  Dave took the boys around the neighborhood while Jenna and I held down the fort here and passed out the goods.
 Probably my favorite part of Halloween is watching my kids sort their candy.  Maybe it's because I always did the same thing as a kid, but it totally melts my heart.  Here's Tyler with his loot.  He even made the effort to show Greyson, "Look, you can sort your candy into piles." and showed him how to do it as well. 

After trick or treating, we have a tradition to go over to my parents house and trick or treat there.  Chad's two teachers from school live on either side of their house, and that was extra fun for him to visit them as well.  One of his teachers sets up a spook alley in her garage each year.  It's pretty well done with full costumes and no one talking.  You could totally get scared if you let yourself.  Chad has never gone through it, and this year was no different.  Both his teachers offered to hold his hand and walk him through it, but he wouldn't have it.  Ultimately, I think it took a lot of courage for him to tell them both "no" and stand his ground that he didn't want to go through.  Tyler and I went through it and had a fun time.  Then, at like 9:30, when we were back home and all ready for bed, Chad decided he wanted to go into the  haunted house.  I was tempted, but, um, no.  Next year. 

In all, we had a great time, and a lot of fun! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy Fall!

Fall is in full swing around here.  I do think it is one of my favorite holidays, simply because life seems to slow down a little (although the last two weeks have been a whirlwind of craziness, so maybe that 'slowing down' stuff is all in my head).  Chad has been working hard on his cub scout achievements, and one he had to complete was called Family Fun.  Two of the requirements for it were to lead his family on a hike or nature walk, and to teach his family a game.  He decided to take us up to Cherry Springs, a nature area nearby.  It is beautiful up there, and this is the first time I had ever visited in the fall.  Breathtaking!!!  Mostly, we walked the trails, gathered walking sticks, raced, laughed and just enjoyed being together as a family. 

Chad had to teach us a game, so while were up there, he taught us how to play a bean bag target game.  Pretty simple-one person throws a bean bag and where it lands becomes the target.  Each other person throws a bean bag and tries to hit the target.   We had fun playing that for a bit before heading off on the trail again. 
 It was nearly dark before we made it back to the car where we enjoyed some cookies.  And this little lady was a gem, never complaining while we strolled along.  Oh, how I love those eyes!!! 
For us, fall also means soccer.  This was Tyler's first season playing, and he gave it a good effort.  He spent a lot of his time on the field in dreamland, but the important part was that he enjoyed it.  

Reality Check Moment
In my attempt to encourage Tyler to focus on the game, I told him at the beginning of each game that I wanted to see him make a goal.  Little did I realize that his desire to please me would be so great that he would resort to lying about making goals to get my praise.  Twice, he ran over during a time out to tell me that when I wasn't watching, he made two goals.  Hmmm.  I guess I need to work on finding things to really praise him for.  He's even done the same thing when he gets home from school and Chad tells me that he earned a blue ticket for being good, or a sucker for the same reason, Tyler will tell me that he earned a sucker too, but he already ate it.  So, rather than praise him for what I know are untruths, we have started to call these "tall tales" and move on.  Tyler has definitely been my most challenging lately, with major tantrums and serious attempts to get attention, even when we have been heaping it on in large doses.  I got to thinking that simply his placement as second in our family probably is the cause for some of that.  He has a big brother to try to live up to, and two littler siblings that seem to take a lot of time and attention and often, he kind of gets overlooked.  We're working on changing that, and hopefully, we'll see some improvement in behavior and attitude. 

Friday, September 27, 2013


Um, my boys will want to remember this day. We had planned to head up to Downeta hot springs for a ward campout.  My boys were pretty excited about going swimming there.  At about 2, it started raining.  And it just kept on raining.  I kept checking the window wells to make sure we weren't having any flooding.  All seemed well.  When I went outside to get Chad from the neighbors when there was finally a lull in the rain (about 5pm), I found this. 

 This is our side yard and the road that runs through it.  Well, needless to say, the campout was canceled so we could pump water out of the homes of neighbors who had flooded.  The good news- the boys still got go go swimming! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Summer Wrap Up

It always seems like the last month or so of summer is just a whirlwind of activities.  For us, that included a family reunion in Bear Lake, a week of girls camp, camping with friends, and a lot of prep for school to start again.  So, along with about 300 pictures, here is a wrap up of our summer from about July until current.

It is our family tradition that on your birthday, you get to pick a place to go out to eat.  Well, Chad's birthday was a little busy with family in town and his baptism the next day, so once all the festivities passed, Chad wanted to have his birthday dinner in the mountains instead of at a restaurant.  How can you say 'no' to that, right?  So on a Friday afternoon, we headed up to our favorite local campground, we call Justice Park. 

 The boys love that there is a little stream that runs through part of the campground, and they love to walk in the water and build dams to try to hold it all back. 
 Chad even made sure Jenna got to be involved in the fun as well. 
 I'm pretty sure Tyler build at least 50 dams across this stream, but he never seemed to tire of it.  He's even learned to fill in the small cracks with rocks and mud to make it water tight.  It doesn't really work, but he has a lot of fun trying. 
 If this picture isn't all BOY, I'm not sure what is!  I had to laugh at Greyson's bum by the end of our excursion.  There was a fairly seep incline to get to our site, and he took it upon himself to just slide down it each time he descended.  His pants were black!!!  We enjoyed a fire and I think it was the perfect fit for Chad's birthday dinner. 

Our next trip was the Jones family reunion in Bear Lake.  It is the trip my kids look forward to probably most each year.  I imagine that some of that is simply because it is the one trip we take consistently each year, and the other part is that they love the KOA where we stay and all that we do up there.   We stay in the Garden City, UT KOA.  Now, let me defend that statement a little.  I love real camping.  Like the sleep in a tent in the dirt in the mountains with a pit toilet kind of camping.  And when we first started going to the KOA, I called it pansy camping.  Because it is-it isn't hard camping.  But, it is SO MUCH FUN!  This particular KOA has so much to do for the kids.  There is a swimming pool.  Each night, they also do some sort of activity for this kids.  My childrens' favorite one is the train ride. 
 They have taken a lawn mower, I think, and made it look like a train engine.  Then, they attach barrels for the kids to ride in.  My kiddos will drop everything to go get in line for a ride on this.  I think they went around in it about 4 times this year. 
 The KOA also has bikes to rent.  Of course, we take our own bikes, but these are banana bikes, where you sit reclined and steer with little handles on either side of the seat.  They are extra fun! 
 Then, there is this thing-the Jumping Pillow.  It is just a big rubber mat filled underneath with air, and my kids love it.  It is like a trampoline, but extra fun just because it is different.  Greyson jumped on it for a major part of every day. 
 Of course, outside the KOA, there is the beach.  We discovered a new beach closer to our campground this year, and that was fun.  We tried paddle boarding a bit and played in the sand.  Chad's favorite beach is the North beach on the Idaho side of Bear Lake, which we had to hit for a few hours on our way out. 
 We built some pretty awesome castles, and waded as far out into the water as we could, which is pretty far at this lake.  Jenna did pretty good putting up with all this major disruption to her schedule. 
 On the way home, we always stop at a local park in Soda Springs.  It has become tradition to take a picture of Dave with the kids at the end of our Bear Lake trip on this purple dinosaur at the same park each year.  We have one with he and just Chad, then Tyler joined our family, several picts with all three boys, and they were all pretty excited to have Jenna join the picture this year.  Of course the extra special part about this picture is that Greyson doesn't have any pants on.  He had a major meltdown as we left the North Beach, and all we succeeded in doing was getting his wet and sandy clothes off and underwear back on.  So, hours later, that is still how he was dressed.  :) 
Dave and I left the morning after our Bear Lake trip to head back to Soda Springs for girls camp (Dave came as one of our priesthood leaders).  

I had to include the next two pictures, because I love it when my boys help with the canning.  Greyson always puts two or three teaspoons of salt into each jar, rather than just one, but at least they are helping instead of me just sending them off to watch a movie while I can.  
 They seem to enjoy helping too. 
 One of field trips that my boys really wanted to take this summer is to a community splash park up in Rexburg.  I don't know shy I get off thinking I can manage a trip like this on my own, because it always turns out CRAZY!!!  Then I got the idea to invite a cousin to join us, so that made 5 kids, 8 and under.  Thank goodness my sis in law joined us for the day with her little man.  My kids seems to enjoy the carousel that is next to the splash park as much or more than the water part, and we always take a few rides on that. 
 Jenna mostly just sat and played on her blanket, as she didn't seem to like the water much when I tried to put her feet in it. 
Back to school started creeping up on us in mid August.  I can feel it.  Like in the air.  There is just this winding down and get ready feeling that seems to overtake the end of summer.  

One preparation we needed to make was hair cuts for both of the older boys.  Chad had decided at the beginning of the summer that he wanted to go the whole summer without getting his hair cut.  I said that was fine, thinking he'd never make it, that it would bug him too much, but no such luck.  I did make him get the front trimmed for his baptism, but other than that, both he and Tyler went the entire summer with no cuts!  We had a little fun with their long hair the night before we went to get it cut, just to help us remember how long it really was.  

Chad started 3rd grade this year.  He is super excited and enjoying it so much, in part because he has the teachers he most wanted.  He has two teachers that each teach two days a week and rotate Wednesdays, and one happens to live next door to my parents and the other lives 2 houses down from my parents.  They are also the most fun teachers on the planet! 
 Seriously!!! Check out that backpack!  That was a lot of supplies, and Chad didn't want me to take him that first day, so he carried that huge thing on the bus! 
Tyler started kindergarten this year.  That is hard to believe, and at the same time, he seems so ready, and really, so much older than Chad when he started.  He is pretty excited to be going to school with Chad this year.  
 Greyson, of course, started preschool with me, which seems to be going alright, although I'm discovering something about him that I never knew before.  He. is. a. perfectionist.  He wants everything done right.  I don't know where he gets that. :) 
Tyler started soccer this fall too.  Chad opted out for the season, and I'm pretty sure Tyler's only motivation was the treats after the game, but he seems to enjoy it.  Sometimes during the games, he totally is in his own world, but sometimes, he gets in there and kicks that ball.  He loved his bright blue and neon green cleats he picked. 
 Over Labor Day, we fit in one last camping trip.  One of our friends (actually Dave's boss and his wife) bought a new camper and wanted to take it on its maiden voyage.  We went up to Island Park and enjoyed the weekend together. 

 This is Big Springs.  I had never been there (at least not that I recall) and it was really cool!  The water literally just bubbles out of the ground and flows from under a mountain.  Like a LOT of water!  You look to find the rest of the river  from whence it flows, but there is isn't one. 
 Our boys sure had fun with their new friends.  It actually made the trip quite enjoyable because they always had someone to play with.  We need to do that more often. 

And now here we are, nearing the end of September and summer is fading into fall.  I always look forward to summer, and yet it never seems to be quite the same as an adult as it was when I was a child.  But looking back on these pictures makes me smile as I recall the memories we made this year.  The next three months are always gone in a flash as fall turns to Thanksgiving and then to Christmas.  I think the Lord must have known that we would need seasons of change to look forward to and add variety to the mundane. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Baptism Day

This handsome man chose to be baptized yesterday.  I am so proud of him for his decision to follow his Savior. 

 This is a perfect personality image of he and his dad.  Pure silliness.  That describes Chad well.  He is also very sweet and loving, especially to Jenna.  He has become my right hand man and is so good at helping me at home. 
 Each of the children being baptized received a candy bar with a little saying attached to it.  Chad LOVES chocolate and was pretty excited to enjoy his reward after the baptism. 
We had a little get together after the baptism to celebrate Chad's birthday as well.  Presents and of course . . .
 a cake.  
Chad chose a pirate ship cake.  He's had his eye on it for months now so there was no question what to create when the time came.  A closer look would reveal that the ship had a run in with the good guys, and was bombed on one side.  A cannon ball through the sail and candle cannons completed the ensemble.  He and his dad had a lot of fun putting this together. 

Chad, we are so proud of you for your choice to be baptized and we love you!
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