Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sam and Julie's Wedding

My brother Sam got married in June.  It was a very HOT but wonderful day for all, especially for them.  They were married in the Mesa AZ temple for time and all eternity.  I love that the temple provides us the opportunity to be married forever, not just for this life.  My dad was able to seal and marry them.   I've never seen my dad perform a temple wedding before, so it was a special experience for me.

Andrea and I, while at the cabin the week prior, sewed seven skirts for all the little girls in the family.  Then Aunt Amber brought darling rings for all of them to wear.  She's so fun!

Happy day for Sam and Julie!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Off to School

Finally, the big day arrived. The kids could hardly sleep last night, they were so excited.  And, to my big surprise, Andersen was the first one up and ready this morning, ready to go at 5:45 AM.  I'm sure once the excitement wears off, that will be an entirely different story.  

Andersen starts half day kindergarten. His older sisters kept telling him what to do, what to expect, ect. . . . . He sure got a mouthful from them.  Last night he sprinkled a little kindergarten dust (ziplock bag full of sparkly confetti) under his pillow so he would wake up excited and ready for school.  And it worked! 

 I had a lump in my throat all morning as I watched him get ready.  It's a little hard for me to send away my littles, knowing that once they leave the nest, they are influenced by much more than just me during the day, knowing that I can't control his environment, I can't  be the one who catches him when he does or says something wrong and help correct.  And I'm not the ONE person in his life that's always there.  

He had me tuck in his shirt three times this morning, tie a triple knot in his shoe laces so they don't come undone, and comb his hair with lots of gel, even though its still a buz from summer and can't really be combed over.  I love how he wanted to look his best.

EmmaClaire starts 2nd grade and is pretty excited about making new friends.

Abby starts 5th grade and hopes to have some good missionary experiences with new friends this year.  

Mason starts junior high, 7th grade. He was a little nervous about not remembering his schedule, having enough time to get from class to class, and staying organized with all his schoolwork.  He stayed up late last night, going through his school stuff over and over again, making sure he had what each class required.  This is the first year that he doesn't have big brother Taylor at school with him.  I think it will be a good growing experience for him to find his place and gain confidence.

After dropping them off, I returned home to a very quiet, clean house with Kate still sound asleep.  Wired feeling.  I'm excited to focus my time and energy on Kate, now that the others are gone.  When everyone is here, it's so easy for me to ask one of the bigger girls to help Kate when she needs something.  I look forward to the quiet, uninterrupted time I now have to just snuggle with that sweet girl.

It was a great summer.  Now, we're excited for another great school year!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

June-Week at the Cabin with Cousins

One of the highlights of this past summer was spending a week at the cabin with some of my favorites-three of my sister in laws and their kids.  John and the boys were at scout camp, and we had no important commitments to keep us in the heat of summer.  So I packed up with the youngest four and headed to the cabin in the mountains to play.

The kids were in heaven, being surrounded with their best friends and cousins.  And I loved all the quiet, relaxed time with my sisters.  I love being with them and always feel like I learn so much from them.  They are all so fun, so creative, so kind. I'm lucky to have them.

One of the most enjoyable parts was getting to know my new niece, Kathryn.  My three girls couldn't get enough of her, especially EmmaClaire.  It does my heart good to see those nurturing qualities demonstrate themselves in my girls when we have little babies around.  

Being at the cabin is Boy Heaven for my Buster.  There is so much wildlife, perfect weather for outside play, lots of fishing, hiking, rock throwing, fort building, Indian playing, creating. . . Andersen was in absolute heaven.

There was plenty of time to just sit on the patio, watch the kids play, and visit with my sister in laws.  I love how much my girls admire and respect their aunts.  And I also love how these women show so much interest in the lives of my girls.  my girlscouldn't pick better role models to follow.  They are sure that their aunts are the coolest ever.

Here's the gang, always palling around together.  You'd think that with this many little kids around, we would have plenty of fighting and arguing, but that wasn't the case here.  For the most part, all of the cousins, even the very little ones, got along great.

Aunt Shawnne brought nail stuff.  Way to think ahead.  The girls loved all the attention they got from her.  

It was a wonderful, relaxing and fun week for all.  The only thing that forced us to come home, other than our husbands, was a wedding. And that's for another post.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kate is 3 Years Old!

Our SweetCakes turned 3 towards the beginning of the summer.  Hard to believe that I have a three-year-old without anyone else below her.  I've never been in this position before (babyless), and I have a lot of mixed feelings about it.  But that's all for another post.

Another little neighbor, Colter, on our culd-e-sac was born about 10 hours before Kate.  Kate and Colter hung out together in the hospital and have since developed quite the love-hate relationship.  I'm good friends with his mom, and she came up with the great idea of hosting a joint birthday party for the two of them in her backyard.   And since my backyard was still quite muddy and out of sorts from relandscaping, I took her up on it.

It was a great time for all the littles in the neighborhood plus a few cousins.  Kate wanted to show up to her party as a princess.  Not sure why, because it was a water party.  But she figured that her princess dress could pass for a swim cover-up. 

  Here's one of her favorite cousins, Caleb.  Just a few months apart, they have always played so well together.

 Trying to figure out how to get those fingers to work. . . it sure takes a lot of focus to keep the thumb and pinky finger tucked down.  After working for a while, she finally got it.

Now she got it.  How old are you Kate? 

Kate, sitting next to Colter, getting ready to blow out their 3 candles.
Giant slip-n-slide provided plenty of fun for all the little people.
 One of Kate's cousins, Jackson, thought the big bubble thing was a sword.  Totally cracked me up.  And you can tell by Kate's face how excited she is with the princess set she got. Within minutes of opening the gift, she had everything on--a crown, princess shoes, and lots of jewelry.
  Kate has lots of fun friends right on the culd-e-sac that she loves to play with.  Jane, Kate, and Ansley.
  This is one of my favorite pictures.  It shows John's bow-legged legs, and Kate's knock-knees.  Kate can't put her feet together without her knees running into each other. On the other hand, John can't even make his knees touch for the life of him.  Not sure where the genetics lined up there. . .
 A new pair of sun glasses to add to the princess collection.
 And for dinner that night, Kate was excited to eat off the custom-made "LeSueur Special Plate" that John and I made a few years ago.  It hangs on our wall in the kitchen and gets taken down for only VERY special occasions. 

Things I love about our 3 year old SweetCakes that I don't want to forget:
  • shes' a pleaser and loves to be a helper
  • she has compassion; if someone is sad or gets hurt, she's always the first at their side, giving kisses or saying sorry for what happened.
  • her smile and laugh are contagious, and she brightens up our whole house with how fun she is
  • I love love love her dark brown chocolate eyes that light up when she smiles
  • she sings throughout the day.  sometimes it's to songs she has learned, but most of the time she makes up her own tune to her own words.  For a while, the song lyrics were "I love _______ because he/she is soooooooo nice".  Darling!
  • She idolizes her older sisters and loves to be by their side.  She won't sleep with anyone else but Abby and loves it when EmmaClaire plays school, kitchen, or beauty parlor with her.
  • Frequently when John or I show affection to her (tell her we love her or give her hugs), she hugs us super tight and pets our arms or hair over and over again while sighing.  Love it.
  • And for the record, at her well child check, here are the growth stats:  height 87%, weight 90%, and head circumference was completely off the charts and would have been around 150% if there was such a thing. 
Happy Birthday Kate!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer is Over

I can't believe how fast this past summer has flown.  Taylor started school this past week, and the rest of the bunch start this coming week.  Part of me is sad to see our lives start filling up with commitments and schedules.  On the other hand, all the kids will be glad to get back to routine, which makes life happier for all of us.

Summer started with a nice week of down time--no schedule, late nights playing games and goofing off as a family, sleeping in and being lazy in the morning, huge yummy breakfasts at 10 AM, and lots of swimming.  It was a perfect way to start summer and enjoy just being together with no major commitments. 

I started an entry towards the beginning of the summer but never posted it.  So, to start off our summer. . . .

"Summer has been in full swing for almost two weeks now. The kids have gotten into a good morning routine that includes morning jobs, school work, exercise, scripture study, practicing, and reading. At first when John and I introduced the summer plan, we got a lot of slack and complaining, especially from the older kids. They thought that summer should be a time for hanging out and wasting time, no school work, sleeping in, being lazy, and watching a lot of movies. Pretty much, all of my least favorite things.

But after two days, the kids realized that if they were consistent and diligent, they could easily finish their assignments by noon and have the rest of the day to themselves.

They are all involved in activities through the afternoon. EmmaClaire and Andersen have swim team every day, all three boys have basketball camp, and Abby has volleyball camp later in July.

The days are long, super fun, and really busy. Not very relaxing for me, but I'm OK with that. I figure, my job is to keep the kids learning, creating, and happy. There is constant need from at least two children all throughout the day, constant mess in the kitchen, constant crafting going on with the girls and their friends, and daily swimming.   And we're loving it!"

And now it's over.

Here's our littlest swimmer.  Love how her goggles are totally crooked, upside down, and off-set.  But hey, "they're pink".

And a little hip action.

For a quick overview of our summer:

EmmaClaire and Andersen were involved in swimteam each afternoon, Taylor and Mason did a 2-week basketball camp at the high school, Abby enjoyed a week-long volleyball camp in late July, and Andersen LOVED his little basketball camp-first ever.  It made him feel so big and strong!  Taylor and Mason also enjoyed scout camp with their Dad while I played at the cabin with some of my favorite people.  Then we came back for my brother's wedding, then left the following day to Utah for a family reunion for over a week. Then home for 4 days, then back up to the cabin with my parents, then home again for another week of fun with my parents, then some major home projects, then sending my oldest to HIGHschool this past Monday. . . . Sheeeesh!  It's all happened so fast. 

First day of school for Taylor.  9th Grade, 5 feet 9 1/2 inches tall, at least 145 lbs, braces, and super smart and handsome.  And cool enough to use his sister's pink and blue lunch bag full of leftovers for school lunch(because we were out of bread and sandwich meat).
I still can't hardly believe I have a highschooler.  I still feel like a "young" mom with little toddlers and preschoolers. I guess I am that (a mom with toddlers and preschool aged kids). . just not the "young" part.  Taylor loved his first day, loved his second day even more, and has walked in the door from school with a smile on his face every day since.  He is maturing quickly and I couldn't be more proud of such a fine young man to call my own. 

I'll post separate entries for all of our summer activities within the next few days so I don't remember all the details later.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Andersen's first Basketball Camp

Andersen hasn't ever done organized sports yet in his life.  He's never yet been on a basketball or soccer team and has been begging and begging this past year for that experience.  So this summer, I thought it would be fun to sign him up for a boys basketball camp; four times a week for two weeks, two hours each time. 

For the past two months, we've been talking about "basketball camp" for Buster.  And he's been super excited, bringing it up every day.  How many more days. . . ?

It finally started yesterday.  He got up early with a smile from ear to ear, got all his jobs done faster than I thought possible, then headed off with a few buddies on the street to his first ever basketball "camp".

When he came home, I met him at the door and asked him how it was, did he have fun, was it hard, who was his coach, how many boys, did he feel safe, did he make any baskets, did he do dribble drills, . . .blah blah blah. . .

The conversation went like this:

Me-Buster, how was basketball camp?  Did you have fun?

Buster-Yea, it was fun. . . but they totally tricked us.(just imagine arms up in the air doing major hand motions, very dramatic, emphasis on "Tricked.  Us." )

Me-what do you mean, they tricked you?

Buster-Mom. . . it wasn't a camp. . . they didn't even have any tents.  It was only just plain basketball.  No camping at all. . . wierd huh!

End of conversation.  I laughed so hard, gave him a huge hug, and continued asking more about all the details of "basketball  camp".  And every time I mentioned the word "camp", he reminded me that it was just basketball.  No. Camp.

I love the mind of my little 5 year old  boy!!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Missing Teeth-EmmaClaire

Nine months of 2012, EmmaClaire had a big fat hole in her mouth.  Her two front teeth took forever to come in.  I loved her lisp when she would say certain words, and I loved her million dollar smile.

Then, finally after 9 months of waiting, her two front teeth came in nice and big and crooked. At the same time, she lost two more on the bottom and one more on the side. Rich girl, poor tooth fairy!

Her smile has morphed a ton this past few months, and I LOVE it!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Abby is 10!

Abby had her tenth birthday a few weeks ago. She is pretty low key, not very demanding. In times past, when asked what she wanted for her birthday, she would say something like, "I don't know. . . I don't need anything. . . Whatever is easiest."

This time was a little different. All she wanted was roller blades and a shopping spree for clothes with her cousin Leah. And she reminded me daily about those two things for weeks prior to her birthday. So, trying to save money, I found a pair of rollerblades on Craigslist. To my dismay, they didn't even fit and didn't have any breaks. So much for trying to save money.  And we planned a shopping trip with her cousin.

The evening of her birthday, her dad and older brothers had scouts, EmmaClaire had a music class, and I could tell Abby was a little bummed that we weren't doing anything to celebrate. Last minute, I called a bunch of her friends and planned a surprise mini party for Abby. Nine girls showed up, and I took them all to one of Abby's favorite places, Snowguart, a frozen yogurt place.

It surprised Abby, and I'm pretty sure she ended up having a great birthday. A few things I love about Abby; she's super helpful, she is very self driven and smart, she likes to be organized and likes to plan things, she is kind to her younger sisters, and she is sensitive to others and always wants to choose the right.

That weekend, I took Abby and her cousin shopping for some clothes. All she wanted were two uniform shirts and two pair of uniform shorts for school. Not too exciting, but very needed.  She has grown a ton this past year and was down to just a few outfits for school each week. My little girl is growing up!

Happy times at Snowguart!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Backyard Disaster--Almost Finished!

Months ago, John and I finally decided, after dreaming about it for three years, to change up our bakyard and make it "ours".    We planned out what we wanted changed and thought that by starting in February, we'd have plenty of time to change things before the weather got too warm.

Then reality hits, Saturdays are filled with other things, projects take way longer than expected. More time, more money, and more money. . .  And here we are in mid May, not quite done.  But we're close enough to see lots and lots of progress, done enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel, or the backyard coming to fruition.

We started by tearing down a "stage" in the corner of the yard that took up quite a bit of space.  I'm not sure what the intention of this cement eye sore was, but John and I have never liked it since we moved it.  So down it went. . . this process took about 3-4 weeks of full Saturdays and a lot of evening time.  It was a TON of cement!

Having Papa's tractor was a huge help as we got rid of all that cement.  John sure didn't mind working (i.e. "playing) with the tractor, and all the neighbor kids enjoyed riding on the back. I'm just glad no one got hurt.

Along two walls of the yard, we had a neighbor build us some nice planter boxes for gardens.  He also filled in the side of our house with concrete (someday, we'll put a shed there to help clear out our garage), then extended our patio/porch with pavers.  The kids enjoyed marking the fresh concrete with their handprints.

 Here you can see the new sidewalk that goes to the cement slab on the side of the house, the patio extension of pavers and one of the garden boxes along the east wall. 
 In the corner where the big cement stage was, we planted a grapefruit tree.  Eventually we'll put curbing there to divide the tree area with gravel from the lawn of grass.  With all the tractor driving all over the lawn and no water these past few months, our lawn has taken a beating and has gotten buried under lots of dirt. 

My father-in-law is probably the hardest working grandpa I know.  He helped us figure out a new sprinkler system, get the right kind of dirt in our planters, level the ground for grass, etc. . Without his help, this project would have dragged on for at least another month or two.  So thanks to Papa for all your help!

Now we need to seed and water that back lawn.  And start planting lots of vegetables in our awesome gardens. And get curbing to divide the grass from the gravel, then do some more cement on the west side of the house, then find/build a shed, then create something to keep our bikes from the AZ sun, etc. . .

Always a project around here!