Monday, August 30, 2010


After much deliberation, prayers, and patience Ella started Kindergarten last week. After the lotteries last spring Paislee was placed in one charter school and Ella in another. We hoped that they would get into the same school eventually, Paislee started out as number 16 at Ella's school and Ella was number 7 at Paislee's school. Last Tuesday I received a call from Ella's school stating that they had an opening for Paislee. This was after she had already been attending her school for a week and a half, we had gone to the opening family picnic, and we were all thrilled with the school. I was torn, did we leave her there, hoping Ella would eventually join her?
So I called Paislee's school to see what position Ella was on the waiting list, she was now #1. We felt pretty comfortable with her position, that she would eventually get in, if not right away maybe later this year. So we left Paislee at her school and turned down the opening at Ella's. I felt sick to my stomach afterwards, had I just lost the opportunity to have my girls attend the same school?
And then the next morning I received another call, Paislee's school had an opening for Ella! We were estactic, she was in, they would be going to the same school. Everything had worked out exactly as we had hoped. And the next day Ella started Kindergarten. She loves it! She had her first homework tonight and she was so excited, right now homework is fun!
And this little guy, he gets to take a nap with his baby sister while his older ones are in school. And I? I have a few hours to myself to do whatever I want (er need) to do. Today it was canning spaghetti sauce, tomorrow I'm hoping it's finishing book two in The Hunger Games and starting book three!

A New Look

When it was time to get the girl's hair cut for back to school Ella had an idea. She wanted to go short, she wanted to have the shortest hair in the house (well, in comparison to Paislee and I). And she was determined. I was okay with it, in fact had been thinking about cutting it short for a long time but didn't know how she would react, but I wasn't sure what Jake would think.
When I asked him if she could cut her hair short his reply was, "She can do whatever she wants, it's her hair." I'm almost positive this will backfire on him in 10 years when she wants to dye it black, or hot pink, but hey, Daddy said!
And it really is cute! It's taken awhile to get used to. She loves it though, how short it is in the back, how easy it is for her to comb. It's darling to see her "fluff" it with the palm of her hand.
As you can tell she's perfectly happy with the decision she made, and if Ella's happy, well, it sure makes living with her more bearable!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pool Time

We spend a lot of time hanging out at the neighborhood pool. It's so nice to have a place to go that's close, we can walk down, hang out for an hour and head home. It doesn't create a big disturbance in our day, it's just part of it.

Parker is a bathing beauty, we keep her out of the sun as much as we can. She doesn't love the water or hate it, she's content pretty much anywhere!
Grant is hilarious. The three older kids received new goggles this year, he insists on wearing his, even though he doesn't put his head under the water. Usually the green part hangs out on his forehead slightly tilted to the side, but on this day he was sporting them backwards. His favorite part about swimming? Talking to the other swimmers, he is such a friendly, outgoing kid!
This little girl has become an awesome swimmer. She loves loves loves the water and could stay in it all day.
The three little swimmers posing in the bright sun. Another benefit to the pool; they seem to get along better when we are there!
This one honestly couldn't get any easier. She fell asleep and slept soundly until it was time to go. Nothing like a nap on a hot summer afternoon, laying on a pile of towels on the concrete, in the shade.

There would be more pictures of Paislee and Ella, except their heads aren't above water long enough to capture their sweet little faces. I guess I could always photograph their floating toesies and backsides, but I think a grin is always the best!

First Day at a New School

Paislee started fourth grade on Monday the 16th, 4th grade! Can you believe it? I am having a difficult time grasping it myself. She will be ten in November, "almost a teenager" according to her! She has always had a positive experience at school but we wanted her as well as the rest of the kids to have amazing experiences at school and be pushed to their greatest ability. With that in mind we placed her name in the lotteries for a couple of charter schools in our area and were thrilled that she was able to get into one.

She had an awesome first week of school. Two things of importance (according to her):
Long division is the bane of her existence (admittedly she is a bit behind in Math because this school is on such an accelerated pace, but she's bright and we know she will catch up)
The playground is much better here than at her old school
She's also thrilled to be making new friends!
Waiting for the bus, examining the rocks?

And walking across the street to get on the big yellow bus! Grant and Ella have missed her very much while she is gone, Ella starts Kindergarten this coming Friday and Grant starts preschool in 2012 (he is very disappointed that he does not get to go to school).
We are all excited to see what new things this school year brings!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just Like a Baby Bird

Even though she looks skinny, she's an eater. I usually wait until 6 months exactly to feed my babies rice cereal for the first time but Parker is fascinated by food, so I gave in and she had it on Tuesday for the first time.
She caught on quickly, there was no doubt in her mind she wanted whatever was on that spoon.

At times I couldn't get into her mouth fast enough, she would hold her mouth open and gulp it down just like a baby bird.
Grant and Ella wanted to be included in the process, they love helping with their baby sister.
Such a sweet pea!

Whip Cream Fight!

Jake's sister Angie and her kids were visiting last week and it was kicked off with a whip cream fight. Jake will have to add his commentary later 'cause I didn't witness it but it appears it turned into Whip Cream Eating pretty quickly.

The evening ended with ice cream and fresh, sweet, huge Oregon Blueberries, yum!

$14.99 Dresser

Seriously, why can't I remember that the pictures I want to be seen first need to be uploaded last? And why don't I have the patience to reupload them? Sorry, once again you get my afters before my befores! This is Grant's new dresser, the one that really only cost $14.99! I have been thinking about a dresser for Grant since before he was born, I even designed one and had the parts and pieces made for it, I'm pretty sure those parts and pieces are still sitting around somewhere but since I have absolutely no skill with power tools and apparently no power of persuasion over those I know who do, it was never built. But, thanks to one awesome family, who stumbled across this gem in their basement and absolutely refused to take any money for it (thank you, thank you, thank you) we had a free dresser. It just happened to be exactly what I was looking for, short, wide, and sturdy. I didn't care what color it was, 'cause I knew what color I wanted it to be.
And thanks to this amazing tutorial on painting furniture,, I had the knowledge to get the result I was looking for.

Here is it is in all it's pre-magic glory, great bones, just needing some "polo" paint from Benjamin Moore to find it's spot in Grant's room.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Great Book, A Week Without Kids, and The Results

I came across a book with the title
Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
by Kim John Payne
and it was an answer to my prayers. I've been concerned about my kids, the way they play, how much time they spend under our feet, and how crazy our house seemed most of the time and how grumpy I was because of it.
The general overview is that all kids are quirky, I've said it before about my own, they have their own little quirks that makes them uniquely them. When you add stress to those quirks you get disorders, OCD, ADD, ADHD, etc. Stress comes in the form of many things, having too many choices, being overloaded with TV and media, being immersed in the adult world instead of being allowed to dwell in childhood.
The first suggestion is to rid your child's play space of the extras, if it doesn't spark the imagination and foster creativity it goes. My first thought was, I can't do that, we have spent money on those things and we can't just get rid of them. The more I thought about it and the more I read the book I came to realize that I was having anxiety because of my children's things. I disliked going up into their space because of the clutter and chaos. If I, an adult, felt that way when I entered their play room how must they feel about it?
It says that when kids are allowed to be kids without all the distractions, they become more calm and intune with themselves. So I tried one of the suggestions, I left the TV off for 3 days. After lunch on the third day I couldn't find Grant, I put Parker down for her nap and went to find him. He had put himself down for a nap, this is the first time this has ever happened, but I honestly feel because he wasn't being distracted by the extra outside stimulation he was able to feel, I'm tired and I need a nap, then to act on those feelings.
I'm bored is a phrase that I've heard out of Miss Ella's mouth too many times this summer, she seems to think her only options are playing with friends, the computer or the Wii. I've tried reasoning with her, explaining that I didn't have those things as a kid and I was never bored. I tried threatening, saying that I would "find" her something to do. Nothing worked. She had tons of toys and nothing to do. There is a phrase he suggests using in response to "I'm bored" and it's simple, "There's something to do just around the corner". It worked, she came to me, said those words and I responded appropriately. She thought for a few seconds and then, spotted a bag of scrap paper and began to create from it. Awesome! So I knew I had to declutter and eliminate the excess from their life. It just so happened that my children were going to be at Grandma's Week and I would have an empty house and the ability to clean their space thoroughly and minimize. I did it, and it's been wonderful!
Girl's bedroom after, we have only one toy in their room, the rest of it is open space for them to be kids.
Girl's bedroom before (you can't imagine what I found on top of Ella's bed, still amazed).

Parker's future space.

Disorder of before.

Grant's bedroom after (that toy box is virtually empty).

Bedroom before, poor kid, not sure how he slept peacefully in there.
Another after shot, don't you just love his new dresser? $14.99!

Same view before.

This is now our library of toys, the door has a lock on it and they aren't allowed to pull toys out of here (I know some of you are thinking, Nazi Mom, it's okay, I've been called that before and I embrace it). Each Sunday we will open the door for them and they will be able to switch out toys from here from the ones they played with the week before. That way there aren't too many toys to overwhelm them in sight every day and it's manageable for them.

Toy closet before, doesn't it make you uncomfortable?

My favorite space. Each toy on those shelves sparks the imagination. There's relatively few so they can "see" them and make a choice. It is also very easy to clean up and put away, especially when they are only allowed one toy down at a time.
Same section of the room before, can you tell that I hardly ever go up there, it's making me cringe even now when I look at it.
After shot of the kitchen area, they can sit there and create whatever their hearts desire!
Same area before, many of the larger toys were put into the library or into the yard sale pile so that they had plenty of open space to play in.

Other than things being clean and organized the rest of the results are stupendous. My kids came home yesterday, minutes after we finished putting the bunk beds together and loved their new space. There are ten bags of toys and many larger items that are in the garage ready for yard sale, guess how many they've noticed are missing? One, that's it. And when I told Paislee it was gone, she just shrugged, no big deal. Ella asked if we got new carpet while they were gone, then she looked again and realized that I had just vacuumed it. And they are spending time upstairs, they are playing with one toy at a time, they are playing happily together, they are cleaning up without being reminded, they made their own beds this morning, and they are using their imaginations. They haven't said "I'm bored" once since they've been home, they haven't been having melt downs, they aren't irrational, they are calmer, happier kids.
Guess whose parents are calmer and happier as well?

There is an art....

to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

-Douglas Adams The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Last weekend we went to the Idaho Falls Airshow, along with 37, 994 people. It was hot, the vendors ran out of food and water, we hiked 1 1/2 miles back to our car with the slowest two and five year olds you have ever met, but we had an amazing time!
My favorite airplane, I really learned an appreciation for flying (Jake's thinking, it only took her 7 years). It is definitely an art, it's precise, it's exact, it's absolutely breathtaking. There were moments where I had to close my eyes in fear of collision (please note, we were at the airshow in Mountain Home when the Thunder Bird crashed), but over all I was in amazement at the beauty of aviation.
We were "show center", which means we could see the airplanes as they taxied down the runway and occasionally they would fly right over our heads, thrilling to say the least.
Cute kiddos trying to be sweet, patient and good while baking in the sun!

Seriously, doesn't look safe does it?

Grant took a break from it all and took a good nap.

Ella entertained herself by "playing" with my camera and taking pictures of everything. And I mean everything, strangers, out buildings, the dirt, me (which hardly ever happens), the sky, and I have to say, she took some pretty good ones.

Love those two guys.

The Blue Angels. They put on an amazing show. Did you know that when they fly in their diamond formation that the distance between wing tip and cock pit is 18 inches? Like I said before, precise, exact, and amazing.
Maybe now when Jake talks about flying my eyes won't glaze over, I will just listen to his knowledge and love for one of man's coolest inventions! (Maybe)