Friday, July 20, 2012

Tour De Utah

I initially wrote everything down that we did so that I could send it to JJ.  I decided to blog it as well, because it is too long for a facebook post.  Pictures will follow.  Still cleaning up the aftermath. 

Saturday: After the kids each said goodbye to the computer, we drove south until we got hungry.  So, we stopped at Spanish Fork for lunch at the Cracker Barrel.  Each of the kids picked out a toy and none complained about no fast food yet.  Got back in the car and continued on.  Decided to stop at Cove Fort where we used the restroom, did the tour, played some pioneer games, and took some pictures.  So far, we are loving our vacation!  Wanted to go to the movies, so I looked up where the closest movie theatre was.  Richfield.  Well, we wanted this trip to be spontaneous and relaxed.  Go where we want to, when we want to.  So, we went to Richfield purely to go see a movie.  We saw Ice Age Continental Drift at possibly the only movie theatre in town.  It was (to quote Gregory) wickedly awesome!  Then we found a hotel that gave us a military discount and had a pool.  Kids were happy.  After the movie, we did some swimming.  Kids went to bed tired and happy, so I was happy.

Sunday: Wanted to arrive in St. George sometime today.  On the way to St. George it rained three different times, but I wasn't worried.  This was St. George we were going to, hot, hot, hot!  Sometimes it was as low as 68 degrees outside though.  Saw some mountains that were blackened by fires.  Very sad.  We arrived in St. George by noon and stopped at a Chuck A Rama for lunch.  Called Kirt, my brother in law, to let them know because we were going to stay with them a couple of nights.  Found out he was still in Bountiful!  Yikes!  Well, he still gave us his garage code so we could get in.  Well, it was so nice outside, I decided we would find a park to play at for awhile.  On my GPS, trying to find the park, we got a little lost for the park, but noticed we were near Kirt's place, so we went ahead and went there.  I figured we would unload the car and then go to a park.  As soon as I got done unloading all the stuff in Kirt's place, it was down pouring and there were warnings of flash floods.  Well fine then!  Instead we hung out in front of the TV.  During a lull in the rain, I went to Jack In The Box to bring home dinner.  The streets were rivers!  But, going slowly, I made it to the restaurant and back before the next torrent of rain started.  Shersti said that it hadn't rained in two months.  Kirt and Shersti finally came back around 9PM.  They were nice and tired and the kids were nice and excited to see them!  We talked for awhile and went to bed probably around 10 or 11. 

Monday: Gregory woke up around 6AM and decided it was his mission to try and wake everyone else up.  If you didn't know, Gregory is definitely a morning person.  He wakes up early and happy!  Kirt and Shersti still had school and work, so they handed me the pool key and said they would meet us for dinner and Tuacahn.  Everyone got a bath that morning and then we went to Denny's for lunch where it rained again.  Patrick got pizza, Gregory got macaroni and cheese, Melanie got Spaghetti and I got nachos.  All of our favorite things.  Then we went to the community pool there.  Luckily there was an inside and outside pool because it rained again.  Gregory was reluctant to get in and was just happy to throw things in the pool.  But, being the mean mommy that I am, after awhile of swimming to myself, I tricked Gregory.  I motioned him closer so i could "fix" his swimsuit and grabbed him and swam with him in the pool.  He screamed for awhile, but then realized it wasn't too bad at all.  We swam for three hours.  Afterwards, we were hungry, but dinner wasn't for two more hours, so I stopped at a local gas station, let them pick a treat, got gas, and inquired about umbrellas.  They didn't have any.  Don't usually need them I guess.  Got back, got cleaned up barely in time to go to dinner with Kirt and Shersti.  We went to the Olive Garden that they work at so we could get a discount.  Patrick and I had the Lobster Cannelloni.  Melanie had the five cheese ziti.  Gregory had macaroni and cheese!  Melanie got a little sick, but she wanted to keep going.  So, we then went to Tuacahn where it did not rain (phew) and it was a very pleasant 80 degrees.  Gregory fell asleep on the way.  Uncle Kirt was sweet enough to carry him in.  He woke up in time for the show, Aladdin.  It was amazing!  There were even parts that were in 3D!  Live camels too!  Intermission came and moppers came out to try and get more water off the stage.  Up until now, the cast has been rolling around in the water still.  One actor commented on how this it the worst desert he has ever seen!  Got some roasted nuts and water.  During the second half, Gregory fell asleep again on the daddy pillow we brought and through the fireworks at the end!  Kirt carried him out again, even though Gregory drooled all over his shoulder!  We got back around midnight.  Everyone went straight to bed.  Gregory woke up enough to ask "where are we going now?"  I said, "To bed", he said "Thank you, mommy."  and fell back asleep.  Cuteness.

Tuesday: Noticed that the area where Kirt lives has golf cart crossing signs.  I found that funny for some reason.  After cleaning up, we left St. George around 9am to head for Vernal.  In my infinite wisdom, I figured that was a good idea.  We passed a sign that said last rest stop for 100 miles and I asked the kids if they needed to pee.  They all said no, so I kept going.  Well, stopped after the 100 miles at a small town called Joseph because Patrick had an accident.  Sigh.  Gassed up in Salina, made everyone go potty because of the next stretch to Vernal.  Went in the mountains and got stuck behind two trailers and a herd of cows!  Seriously?  Cows in the mountains?  Apparently.  So, it took us 9 hours to get from St. George to Vernal.  I have never driven that long in my life!  I was so tired!  How does my husband do this?  Thank goodness for the portable DVD players or my kids would have been whining.  Finally got to Vernal, checked out a hotel... no vacancy.  Check six different hotels... NO VACANCY.  By now, I was tired of driving and we were all starving.  Stopped at McDonald's, even though I didn't want to do any McDonald's on this trip.  Glad I did.  It was the most awesome McDonald's we have ever been to.  Gigantic play place with a rock climbing wall.  There was a computer station and a video game station and small tree house looking thing.  The kids were in heaven.  I decided to do the smart thing and call hotels nearby to see if there was a vacancy.  Two hotels later, we had a place to stay.  No pool, no military discount and twice as much as the previous hotel, but it was a place to stay.  I was content.  At this point, I figured, let's just go home early, but I think that was just my tiredness talking.  So, we slept on it.  Melanie was really sick that night.

Wednesday:  Gave the kids the choice.  Should we continue on the the dinosaur monument, which will take six hours round trip and I cannot guarantee a hotel to stay at when we get back, so we might have to keep driving to find a hotel, but we would get to see the dinosaur monument.  Or should we drive to Thanksgiving point or Ogden for the dinosaur stuff out there.  They chose number two.  So we carried on to Thanksgiving point.  We stopped at Park City.  I expected a place like Park City to have a McDonald's similar to the one in Vernal, but instead it had no play place at all.  Extremely disappointing.  Plus, they messed up our order twice.  Oh well, it was just for lunch.  We went to Thanksgiving point where we did the Dinosaur Museum there and the kids loved it!  We should have done that in the first place.  Silly me.  Then we saw the movie BRAVE.  Kids loved that too.  Ended up getting a hotel in Orem.  They weren't too bad.  They had a pool and offered a military discount.  They were really friendly too.  But there were some issues.  All of the lamps were taken apart.  I had to ask them to put them back together again.  They did that while we went swimming.  There was no Disney channel, which upset the kids a bit.  We went swimming (it was around 6:30, but we weren't hungry yet) and Gregory and Melanie made some friends in the pool.  The couple there were really excited we came because they only had one child, a ten year old girl, who was pretty bored swimming by herself.  So, she was excited to have people to swim with.  After we got done swimming, it was 10PM, now we were hungry.  Had Dominoes delivered.  We had one a half pizzas that night before we were full.  Found SMURFS on the television and stayed up until midnight watching it. 

Thursday:  Day intended to come home.  Decided to get baths today.  However, there was no stopper for the tub.  Had to put a towel in the hole and hold it down for the baths to happen.  Also, the toilet was continually running, unless I opened it up and plugged the stopper myself.  As we were packing, Patrick noticed that his dinosaur egg that he got at the dinosaur museum was missing.  We looked everywhere because I knew we didn't take it out of the room.  Finally went to the front desk to ask about it.  The guy said he did see it in the back.  He will find it and bring it to us.  He did later.  Our theory was that the person who ended up fixing the lamps while we were swimming accidentally took it with them when they were cleaning up.  That is the theory at least.  As we were leaving, we spotted a birds nest on top of the security camera with three baby birds in it.  That was exciting to the kids.  The friends that we made yesterday at the pool saw us loading up and helped me finish loading the car.  That was sweet.  We left around 10:30am and decided to go to FAT CATS in Provo.  We bowled two games.  I won both times, but it was against three kids, so it doesn't really count.  We got food there, which wasn't too bad, but they gave us tons of condiments.  They also got Bowling Pin shaped sippy cups with soda in them.  They loved those!  I then got 100 tokens for the arcade (which, by the way, everything was 99 cents and even the tokens were cheaper than normal, so i spent way less than I thought I would, except the food).  The arcade was nothing to get really excited about.  Melanie wasted most of her tokens on those stupid claw machines.  Oh well.  Patrick is awesome at the motorcycle game, even earning a spot on the leaders board!  Melanie is pretty good at the dance dance revolution game.  Gregory was awesome at the punching bag game.  Surprise, surprise!  We finally came home around 3PM and Ryker was there waiting for us at the front door.  He claims he just barely checked to see if we were home yet.  Melanie's room was messy from Phantom playing in it and Jack does not want to leave my side.  Looks like we brought a rain storm with us.  The kids jumped out of the car to play.  I unloaded the car, cleaned the car, swept the garage, started some laundry, and returned some phone calls.  Now it is back to life.  Still have some unloading to do and some groceries to get and all that. 

Today is Friday, just sent Patrick to Cub Country and trying to get some order to the madness that is cleaning up after a vacation, but I think everything we set out to do was accomplished.  It was mostly relaxing, except for that trip up to Vernal.  It was laid back, spontaneous, no real schedule and I think that is what made it fun for both children and me.  It was really nice, but I am happy to be home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cabin Trip #1 in 2011

This was our first cabin trip this season and it was a doozy!  Let me start by saying this, why my youngest son is not more seriously injured or dead by now, I don't know.  He should at least proceed with more caution, but yet he doesn't.  I was thinking about this last night after an "incident" which I will mention later on.  He is only four and he has had croup more times than I can count, has been in the ER four times, Instacare twice, hospitalized once, ICU once, been diagnosed with asthma, nearly choked to death once, had staples in his head once, nearly drowned twice, nearly got hypothermia once, got kicked in the head more times than I can count, and more bruises, cuts, and scrapes than my other two children combined.  Yet, he has no cavities.  He has gotten lost almost every time I go to Walmart, and several other places as well.  Yet, we didn't lose him at Disneyland.  Yet, he still proceeds with life at full force as his parents are wincing in the background, just knowing something else will eventually come up.  Okay, now I can proceed

Sunday was when we went up, after church, and changing our clothes.  We had a wonderful time with cousins and family.  JJ was even able to come and stay overnight with us as he found out he had Monday off.  A real special treat!  There was still plenty of snow, but not so much that we were freezing.  It was actually only 20 degrees cooler up there then down in the valley. We made a makeshift campfire and roasted marshmallows and starbursts.  We stayed up late that night playing games with my brother and sister-in-law.  It was a great night. 

Monday was good too.  We got up to go to the Brighton breakfast, sponsored by different people this year, but it was still decent.  Hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, sausage, muffins, and juice.  Most of it was cold, but still edible and filled us up.  We met the rest of the family there at the breakfast.  At 10:30 was the parade.  Every year the police tell us we can't do the parade because we don't have a permit, and every year we have a parade, oddly enough with police in it.  The kids loaded up on candy, loved watching the different cars and bikes all decked out.  A lot of people build their own cars and display them.  The Brighton Girls Camp handed out balloons.  But the piece that most of the children liked best was the fire engine... oh yeah, and all the candy that got thrown out.  They loaded up! It was like Halloween in July!  After the parade, we went back to the cabin, had lunch, some napped, we took a hike around the lake (which some parts of the path were still covered in snow).  Around 3:30, everyone went home, except us.  Here is where is got not as perfect.  It started perfect.  Everyone fell asleep except Melanie and me.  All boys were napping.  I woke them up when it was dinnertime, JJ had to leave right after dinner.  Sad part number one.  Melanie started crying, probably because everyone left so abruptly, it was discouraging to her.  After dinner, the boys watched Chip n' Dale, while Melanie and I played card games, and then I inventoried the pantry. We couldn't roast marshmallows again because it was raining and I wasn't sure the flue was open in the fireplace.  Melanie wanted me to rest, so she said that she would put the boys to bed.  That did not go over well.  The boys did not fall asleep until 11PM.  Then, at 2AM and every hour after that, Patrick kept asking if it was time to get up yet.  Finally, at 5AM, I gave up with sleep and said yes.  He was thrilled, I was not.

Tuesday was torture day for me.  Running on 3 hours of sleep, my patience was thin, my motherly reflexes were slow.  Everyone was on their own for breakfast, which meant dry cereal.  Eventually, after a bath, I felt better.  I dressed children, packed a lunch into our bag as well as trail mix, bread, water, and anything else you needed for three children on a hike.  It was chillier because of the previous nights' rain, around 56 degrees.  We hiked over the snow and mud to find our favorite spot to feed squirrels.  The bench was a little wet, but we still fed them and they enjoyed.  Gregory was friendly with everyone that passed and we stayed there for awhile.  Eventually we kept going to our favorite spot for lunch.  Luckily, there were some ducks there, so we fed them some bread as well.  The children also thought it would be fun to put some grapes on the trees to help feed the chipmunks.


Patrick and Gregory got a little bored, so we soon left and kept going.  Each child wanted their pictures taken on top of some of the rocks, so Melanie obliged.




Then, Melanie tried to take a picture of herself on a rock.  That didn't go so well.  She slipped and fell and bruised her bottom.  She did, however, take a picture of the offending rock. 


She cried for awhile, but then her bum was all forgotten when the next incident happened.  Now, if you have been following from the beginning, this is the part with Gregory's incident.  If anyone has been up to Brighton with us, you are familiar with Silver Lake, and possibly the boardwalk.  Well, we were walking on the boardwalk that crosses the lake, so you are actually walking over the lake.  Parts of this boardwalk have handrails to prevent falling in, other parts don't.  It had been a very wet winter, with a lot of thawing this year. Parts of the boardwalk are flooded.  Gregory was walking the ledge of the boardwalk holding onto the handrails.  I told him to stop doing this, he might fall in, which he say (in his childlike innocence) "I'm not trying to fall in."  Perfect.  That makes me feel much better.  However, I do convince him to stop it.  A little further down, the handrail stops.  I turn around to see how he is doing, just in time to see him on the ledge of the boardwalk, slip, hit his head, and fall into the freezing murky water.  I shriek, probably scaring off all the local wildlife, and rush over to him.  I yank him out of the water, and he is soaking wet from head to toe, sputtering out water.  I check him out, no cuts, no bleeding.  He is very cold and says his head hurts, there is a bruise forming on his cheek, but it won't go far, probably because of the cold.  Luckily, we are very close to the end of the hike and where the car is parked.  Patrick is way ahead, and did not witness any of this.  So, we rush on to get Gregory to the car, and eventually the cabin.  Patrick sees us, oblivious, except that Gregory is crying (which is normal to him), and asks if we can go inside the visitor center.  I point out Gregory's wetness and say no.  We rush to the car and get to the cabin.  Our cabin has a few heaters around that you flip on with a switch.  I stuck Gregory in front of one and strip him down.  He likes this.  He is dancing and flaunting his stuff in front of the heater while I stick his shoes in front of another heater, and stick his clothes in the laundry.  When I come back, he is wiggling his naked butt at the heater, smiling.  Maybe I should call him the rebound kid.  Eventually he is dressed in clean, warm clothes, and he and I take a much needed nap while Melanie and Patrick watch more Chip n' Dale. 

That evening, we had mini hotdogs, mac n' cheese, and soda.  Patrick had fallen asleep (surprise, surprise), but I wake him up to eat.  He eats, then goes back to sleep.  I play more games with melanie, clean up, and put an ice pack on Gregory's head, which he says hurts and I have no children's Tylenol.  Patrick wakes at 8PM, but then we all fall asleep (in my bed) around 10PM, listening to rain falling again. 

Wednesday.  Luckily, I get lots of sleep.  We all wake up around 8AM.  Waffles for breakfast.  Everyone is really good about packing and cleaning up that we have time for one more hike.  I am nervous about it, but am hoping for the best.  Nothing goes wrong.  It is very warm, which made a little bit more flooding in the lake, so more parts of the boardwalk are covered in a inch of water.  Melanie decided to take a picture of the spot Gregory fell in, which was now inhabited by ducks, which we fed.




On this hike, there were no incidents, but I was keeping a close eye on Gregory, and Patrick (nothing had happened to him yet, I was cautious).  We stopped at our spot again, and fed more squirrels.  Much more wildlife today.  Melanie got tons of pictures, I have to pick and choose which ones to use.


After some patience, one of them got very close to Melanie's shoe.




For some reason, they were also fascinated by the worms.



I think this picture is a bluejay.  What do you think?



Here are my two favorite squirrel pictures.



With no incidents, we headed back to the cabin for lunch, more cleaning, and more packing.  The only disappointing thing that day was, after I cleaned everything, packed the car, took out the garbages, and was about to lock up the cabin, Gregory pooped his pants.  I lost it with him, I admit.  I was furious.  We had to unpack the car to get new underwear and clean him up.  Eventually, we were ready.  We got home close to 2PM.  All in all, we survived, we are home, and we are excited to go back again, this time with friends!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Patrick's end of 1st grade program.

I wasn't able to get as much as I wanted to record because a certain somebody (i won't mention any names) did not charge the camera after using it all day for military purposes.  But, here are some snippets of what went on last Friday.

video

I also gotta figure out why my videos off of my camera are uploading sideways.

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At the very end, Patrick and a few other kids say, "From the 1st grade, we are glad that you came.  Hope you enjoyed the show.  If not, give the teacher's the blame."  I took a video, but you can't see him very well because he is blocked by other children. 


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Military Family Day

Well, it was a blast.  Despite sunscreen, I think we all got a little pink.  When we first arrived, they had Quiznos sub sandwiches, chips, cookies, drinks, and cake.  I ate almost a whole footlong myself!  After that, there was water balloon volleyball.  We have no idea which side won because it turned into a water balloon fight.  Even spectators weren't safe from the artillery! 






There was also frisbee that the boys really enjoyed doing. 



Melanie got her face painted.  The boys were too interested in other water sports instead.
Then there was the dunk tank!  First, certain soldiers were auctioned off for chances to dunk them at the dunk tank.  The higher ranking soldiers were first.  I put JJ up to bid.  I bought him for 20 dollars.  I think it was worth it!  Spencer, Morgan, JJ's mom, all three kids, and I got to dunk him!


There is his loving wife dunking my wonderful husband in the freezing cold water. 

Here is a video of him being dunked!  Which apparently won't upload!!!!


JJ dunked some of the other soldiers as well.  He has pretty dang good aim.

Later, there was a slip and slide for the kids.


 And then the piece de resistance, trout fishing!  They filled a swimming pool with tiger trout and water, put the kids in it, and them try to catch fish with their bare hands!  Melanie caught two.  Patrick caught three, but had to put one back, Gregory tried, but others caught him a couple of fish.  It was Melanie and Patrick's favorite part. 






video

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Anyway, we are home.  We had fun.  Best part, JJ got paid for all of this!  And now back to earth!  Love you all!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Becky's Big Ideas! The Chore Jar

My friend has been asking me to post some of my ideas that I use on my kids for chores and other things, so, I am doing just that.  I am not saying that my children are perfect, far from it.  I have just found certain things that work easier for them with a lot less fighting on both ends.

THE CHORE JAR!!!

This is the one I am going to use right now.  I have found a chore jar to be the best way to get my kids to do chores.  I used to do "The Chore Hour", where, on Saturdays, the kids did chores for one hour and then they got a dollar at the end of the hour if they were doing chores the whole time, but then they would fight over what chores to do.  So, now I do "The Chore Jar". 

  • I went and got a jar and some craft sticks at the dollar store. 
  • On each craft stick I wrote a chore.  Examples:  Garbages, Clean inside of car, Bathroom sink and mirror, toy room, bedroom, bookcases, kitchen floor, dishes, vacuum (divided into upstairs and downstairs), dusting(divided into upstairs and downstairs), wash dog, febreeze, lightswitches, doorknobs, fish tank, laundry, lysol spray, weeding, kitty litterbox, and dog poop.
  • Each child reaches into the jar with their eyes closed and needs to pick one chore.  They have to do that chore no matter what.
  • If they want to earn money, they can pick more chores and they would get fifty cents for each extra chore.
  • Sometimes they would need to earn something back that they got grounded from, (usually patrick), then I would have them reach into the jar to pick out a chore they need to do to earn that something back.
  • I also have a jar that I keep change in specifically for the chores. 
To me, this is a great way for the kids to get some chores done, earn money if they want to, and then they each get to learn new chores all the time. 

I hope this satisfies the specific someone I was talking abot until I can put a new post up!  Love ya!

Friday, February 11, 2011

No pictures, just updates

So, I don't have any pictures this time.  I wanted to take a picture of Patrick's teeth and post it, but he won't let me because he is a little embarrassed.  I will explain this soon.  First, the really good news.  JJ got a job that he loves!  I know, he got one in December with Teleperformance, but that was just a filler job.  He is training to be a busdriver.  He has been doing it for about a month now with no problems at all!  He passed his CDL and on hands training with flying colors!  The instructor said that he could be the instructor, he did so well.  I am very proud of him.  His confidence is building and he is a much happier person now that he is working and doing something he loves!  In another month, his training will be over and he will be getting paid more.  Here is the best news, because of this job and we just paid off our car,...  we can start looking for a house!  Yeah!  Not a very expensive one, but we can still get one now.  I am thrilled to pieces!  He is still going to school with University of Phoenix, and so far everything is going fine.

Okay, here is the deal with Patrick.  Patrick is seven years old and has not lost a single tooth.  He doesn't even have one that is loose.  So, when I took them to the dentist on Tuesday for their check-ups, I asked the dentist about it.  He did say that was very unusual.  As the dentist was looking in his mouth, he stopped and looked at me and asked, "When was the last time you looked in his mouth?"  Now, Patrick has been brushing his own teeth for almost three years now and he has never complained about a hurt tooth, so I guess it had been three years. I told the dentist that.  Well, guess what?!  Patrick has two extra teeth growing behind his bottom front teeth!  He didn't lose those teeeth because they didn't push them out of the way.  I told him he looks like sharkboy because of growing a second set of teeth.  That is what embarrasses him a little.  So, and this is why I like this dentist, we are going to bring Patrick in, the dentist is going to numb him up and then wiggle the front two teeth until they almost come out.  Then, he is going to send us on our way.  He is doing this for three reasons: 1. Patrick will be able to have the experience of pulling out his own teeth. 2. It will be cheaper for us to only pay for the anesthetic.  It would cost more to have the dentist pull out his teeth. 3. The teeth behind it haven't grown in all the way, if we can get the other teeth out, they will have a better chance of growing in properly.  Patrick is terrified of needles and has never had a cavity, so we shall see how he does.

That is the basic update so far.  If anything comes up that I can think of, I will try to remember to post (with pictures).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Newsletter via Blog

I have decided to save ink and money and time and paper, to just blog my Christmas newsletter to anyone who wants to know what is going on in our lives.  That way, those who don't care, can just enjoy our picture we are sending out to friends and family.  Here it is, by the way. 

Aw!  Aren't we cute?  This picture was taken by one of my brothers at my other brothers' house.  Let's see, we will go from youngest to oldest.  Gregory (who is 3 and will tell you repeatedly), keeps us on our toes.  One day he is flirting with a woman in a hot tub and the next he is outside the church in his church clothes playing in the snow.  He has daily "Gregoryisms" that make me just laugh even though he is being completely serious.  He only has had croup three times this year and only two of those times did we have to give him steroid.  I think he is doing better.  When we went to Disneyland, he was barely tall enough to go on Splash Mountain, his favorite ride!  He is potty training, but has the same issue Patrick had with his number 2s.  He loves going to the school with me on Wednesday and thinks that school is just great!  His favorite things are anything to do with the military, pbskids.org, and frustrating mommy with his eating habits. This next year, he will be entering Primary as a Sunbeam!  Heaven help us!

Patrick just had his birthday this last week and his birthday party today.  He is now 7 years old.  He is learning to control his temper a lot better this year and has been really well behaved at church and school.  He still loves computer games, but now he also loves Wii games and playing Legos.  He also has consistently been asking us to make him a baby brother and soon.  He loves playing with his baby cousins.  He is almost as good of a mommy as Melanie!  He is very affectionate.  He can read really well, but is seeing a speech therapist.  I think it is because of his late start in talking.  He didn't start talking until he was three, but then it was full sentences, before that it was just mumbling.  I understand him, but sometimes teachers don't understand him all that well.  At least we got him to say "movie" instead of "nudie" before school started, that could have been embarrassing.

Melanie is eight years old and a big helper.  She is in 3rd grade, but reads at a sixth grade level.  She wants to take dance and swim lessons, but right now she is only doing piano lessons.  She loves to read!  She is usually up way way way past bedtime reading.  Sounds familiar (pointing at myself).  She also has been bugging us to have another baby, but she wants a girl names either Nicole or Chloe.  She loves teaching other kids to dance and choreographs dances with Gregory all the time.  They are planning on doing a number at the talent show at the end of the school year.  Melanie has her fighting moments with me, but usually she is very helpful.  Like today, she fed Patrick and Gregory lunch while I finished up the cakes for Patrick's party.  I am glad I had her first! 

Spencer, JJ's brother, is extremely busy.  He is a senior in high school and is going to be 19 in April.  He is in Madrigals, and this month they have 45 performances alone.  Tonight, as I am writing this, he is at one of three that he has to do today.  He gets tired, but I think he loves it.  He is also a Drama Geek!  He recently had the main role of Sid in "The Pajama Game" and he did a really good job.  His singing has really improved since I first met him.  He has a girlfriend right now named Morgan.  She is nice and Gregory calls her Princess and asks if she'll do sit-ups with him.  I am glad she keeps him in line too.  So far, in school, he has gotten nearly straight A's every semester.  Once in awhile he gets an A-, but I am not complaining.  He does his chores without complaining and he cooks dinner once a week, voluntarily. Sometimes it is weird having JJ's brother live with us, but most of the time I think it is a blessing.  I think living with small children has really changed him.  I do miss him when he is gone all the time.

JJ finally has a job.  He got back from deployment at the end of March, and had been searching for a job since then.  Finally found work at Teleperformance, but it won't be permanent.  In the meantime, he is going to school at University of Phoenix.  Might as well, the army pays for his schooling, so we should take advantage of that while we can.  I think the stress of working and doing school (especially taking a class right now that he doesn't like) is really stressing him out.  It will be hard, hopefully I can support him.  I sometimes try to treat it like he is still deployed and I don't bother him when he is doing schoolwork.  But, most often, I am happy he is home to help take care of the kids or chores and I do ask him to help out.  Unfortunately, he likes to procrastinate schoolwork, so he is usually happy to help.  I should say, fortunately for me, but unfortunately for him.  My love for him is strong, however, and I am trying to support him in school and work.  I do hope he finds  a job soon that he will like.  JJ has two callings, he is a primary teacher and he is the Cub Scout Master.

As for me, I am still teaching piano lessons and selling AVON.  I am still doing aerobics at the church three mornings a week.  I am still PTA secretary at Copper Hills Elementary School, and I am on the PTA board at Taylorsville High School, helping chair Teens Dating Violence Awareness.  New endeavors this year have been volunteering twice a week at Copper Hills to help in classes.  Once a week to teach PE and once a week to just help the teachers with whatever they need.  The other endeavor is doing Bountiful Baskets.  If you don't know what it is, just ask, I will let you know all about it.  I currently have three official callings and one unofficial calling.  I am the ward organist, the primary pianist, and the Webelos Den Leader.  Unofficially, I am the ward choir pianist (I say unofficial because the ward choir only really gets together around Christmastime).  Next month, I will turn 30.  I think JJ is freaking out about it more than I am, but I am a little saddened by the fact that I am not where I thought I would be by the time I was 30.  But, I think most people aren't where they thought they would be. 

We are trying to trust in the Lord in the decisions that we make every day.  Sometimes I forget how important it is to include the Lord in our decisions.  He knows what is best for us and what will help us learn and grow.  I am grateful for my family and the situations I have been through to make me the person I am today.  I love my family and especially my husband.  He has always supported me in every little project I ever wanted to do.  God bless you all and wishing you the merriest Christmas and the happiest New Year possible!