Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer fun

We left for our summer travels the day after school got out, so we didn't have a chance to get into any summer routine.  When we got back, we had to figure out what we were doing the rest of the summer.  If the boys had it their way, they would have played games on-line all day.  We set some rules right away about screen time.  But first... they each got their own "screen"!  The kids had earned a year's worth of chore money that they hadn't received.  They talked us into getting their own kindles that were on sale ($80) on Amazon Prime day.  It was fun to watch them open the box - it was like Christmas in July! 

We were worried about getting them their own device, but it turned out to be a great motivational tool for the summer.  They were only allowed to play games between 12-6pm, and after they had read scriptures for 15 minutes, read a book for 15 minutes, and spent 15 minutes outside with the dog.  They had to earn time by doing chores or spending time outside, and their maximum screen time per day was 3 hours.  I also talked Nathan and Jared into starting weekly piano lessons with me.  (I didn't follow through very well with that, but we got a couple of lessons in.)  They got an equal amount of screen time for being outside and usually about double the time for chores.  Basically if the chore took 15 minutes to complete, they earned 30 minutes.  Of course I tweaked it according to age.  Owen and Weston got off easier.  I was a little surprised they didn't want to spend more time outside playing.  Nathan and Jared usually chose the chore route.  

I was amazed to see how eager and sometimes competitive they were with doing chores.  They sometimes fought over who got to clean up which mess.  The one annoying question was "Will I get time for this?" when asked to do just about anything.  :)  And Owen would go outside for 2 minutes and then ask every minute, "How long have I been out here?"   Other than that, the system worked pretty well.  I usually had a fairly clean house and quiet happy kids by the afternoon.  
I am a genius.

Another summer activity we did was the free bowling program.  We went at least once a week and sometimes twice.  Weston and Savannah (and sometimes Owen) watched videos.      

Just hanging out in the pool...

I got a kick out of watching the boys mimic their favorite video game "Singing Monsters".

hanging out at the beach...

Jared, Owen and Weston took swimming lessons.  Jared completed level 5, Owen did level 3, and Weston did whatever he wanted to.  Ha ha.  I think he completed the first level.  

Weston did have a problem again this year for the first couple of days.  The first day he cried through the whole lesson.  (Luckily he was taking private lessons, so the instructor could devote all his attention to him.)  The 2nd day he cried through about half of lesson.  We then tried taking his piggy float toy and that seemed to solve the problem.  His lessons then revolved around throwing the pig toy and retrieving it.  He seemed to run the show - whatever Weston wanted to do is pretty much what they did.  He is good about going under the water, so they did quite a bit of "diving" for toys ("diving" meaning the instructor pushed him under the water).  There was one day when we forgot the pig toy, and that day was a disaster.  Seven out of ten days he had a smile on his face, so I guess that's good. 


Jared and Owen both did really well, making progress and learning new strokes.  I was glad to see Jared jump from the high dive!  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Our little cowboy is FIVE!

We celebrated Weston's birthday piggy-themed.  He is really into pigs right now.  This is the first birthday for one of my boys that presents, balloons, and cake were pink!  His most requested gift was a piggy bank.  He got a cute plastic piggy bank (with $5 in quarters to put in it).  He was happy about his Playmobil Pig Farm, and he was excited to see the stuffed pig toy that he saw in OK (we told him we weren't buying it at the time). 

A secondary theme could have been cowboys - he loves all cowboy things too, especially the "baddie" (bad) cowboys.  He liked his new horse, guns, boots, and Western play set.  

We had fun piggy pancakes for breakfast, although I think he was too busy with his toys to eat much of it.  

A few other favorite things:

And piggy cake, of course!

We finished off the day with seeing the Minions movie at a drive-in theater - loved it!

Look what came along to the movie with us - Weston's piggy bank!

Goodnight birthday boy!

We love our little pig lovin' cowboy!

Heading home...

On the way home, we made a quick stop to visit friends - always love seeing these kids together!  

This was one of our motel rooms, which deserved a photo.  It was one big room with 4 double beds.  Never seen one like this before!

Almost there... a peek at our long car ride:

Fun times in OK

It was a good day's drive from TX to OK, with a quick dinner stop with Uncle Jim along the way.  We had a good week visiting Papa John, Grandma Fay, Aunt Jane, and Jim.  

 The main reason for our trip this summer was to help celebrate Papa John's 70th birthday.  Jane put together a cute program in honor of him.

We had LOTS of cake!

The girls went out to eat...

The guys shot off firecrackers and guns.

Weston was more comfortable watching from his look-out...

...although he came out for the smoke bombs.

We made a visit to an alpaca farm.  It was fun to see their crazy hairstyles!

Aren't these hairstyles trendy among teenage boys right now?  Ha ha.  

                     The kids each got a turn on the lawnmower, which they called a "tractor".

Tractor rides, llamas, dinosaur tattoos, lemonade, cake, watermelon, play time, painting, guns, firecrackers, watching cartoons, baseball, games, movies, popcorn - fun times!

 We celebrated Weston's birthday while there too, since it was only a few days away.

We enjoyed hanging out - thanks Papa John, Grandma Fay, Jane, and Jim!

Friday, August 21, 2015

On the road again...

TX and OK bound this summer... we made the drive again.  We parted with Alex in Kingman, AZ.  He went on to work in NM for 2 weeks.  I drove with the kids to Phoenix and stayed there 2 nights, until we could pick up my dad from the airport.  My parents had a layover in Phoenix on their way home from UT, so my dad got off there so he could drive with us to TX.  

It was great to spend time with my parents and GG again.  GG is hanging in there - seems to be in good spirits despite her health.

We missed Alex for Father's Day, but I got to celebrate Father's Day with my dad this year.  Audrey and Sam came for dinner and dessert too.  It was fun to celebrate with these two great dads.  My mom made cherry pie for my dad and chocolate cake for Sam.  They shared a little bit with us... :)   

Audrey and I picked out a raft for floating the river for a Father's Day gift.  We put it to good use later in the week.    

I love seeing Weston and Eli playing together.

Audrey did a fun thing with cups for the kids singing time at church.  Our boys enjoyed doing it too.  We love to sing!

Games, air hockey, pool, and movies

We had fun making pizza on french bread.  It was a little soft in the middle though, so we didn't enjoy the eating as much as making it.  My dad even had a bit of trouble with a few bites.  We all got a kick out of Weston coming by and finishing what Papa couldn't eat! (There's not a lot of things that Papa won't eat.)

The kids enjoyed the pool nearly every day.  I tried my best to have fun, while trying to make sure Savannah and Weston didn't drown.  Swimming is not very relaxing with little ones, especially when they don't want to wear floaties or be held... Savie did decide we could help her eventually.  

They like to wear goggles!

Putting the river raft to good use...  Weston liked sitting in the cooler portion.  

Some outings...

(My parents took the kids to the zoo while I went to the temple one day.)  Weston was in heaven when he got to pet the piggies - highlight of his trip!

We also got to see pigs at a friend of my parents.  These ones were covered in gooey mud and wouldn't let you pet them.  They got pretty close to Weston once, but mostly they kept their distance.

We also got to hold a rooster.  I actually had never held chickens before either, so it was a new experience for all of us.

Savannah was the only one who didn't have a cowboy hat yet, so she got a pink one at the Riverfest.  Weston also seemed to weasel his way into getting a new black "baddie" (bad cowboy) hat too.  

Alex joined us for half a day before we drove to OK.  

One last trip to Sonic... we were pretty worn out by then.  

Thanks Baba, Papa, and GG - glad to see you!