Tuesday, January 29, 2013

4 day weekend

The weekend the schools celebrated Martin Luther King day the kids ended up having a 4 day weekend. Besides hanging out, sleeping and not doing too much we got together with family for a last minute barbecue with Dale, Steve and family. They played cards and hung out. 

Liesl hung out with the chinchillas with Taylor, (we ended up selling our babies that weekend)....

and the other kids had fun on the trampoline. This thing has been the biggest hit when friends are over. 

Go Jolene!!!

Go Elsa!!

While inside I got out Ashley's new cotton candy maker and we experimented with new flavors. Since it takes crushed up candy Liesl got really good crushing up different types of candy...

then making cotton candy out of them! We would pass it around the table of game players so they could try all the flavors. 

Yum. Mint, butterscotch, cherry, strawberry creme, but the favorites were green apple and watermelon. 

This last weekend we didn't have anything exciting going on. It was cold and rainy for the last few days so we were all were inside most of the time. In fact I subbed a busy 1st grade class for two days in the rain. 3 recesses inside trying to entertain them and then transition them back into working was a challenge. I forgot how tiring 1st grade is! I commend the teachers with the patience of a saint to have them every day. 

I have to say today when I was back at the school and all the 1st graders I saw wanted hugs it melted my heart :)

So anyway on Saturday Jeff and I were just doing errands, he was preparing for his talk the next day and I was working on flyers for our Stake event Ashley asked to have a friend over. 

Maia was available and they had a great time dancing on the trampoline. Ashley wanted to listen to music and we thought it is rude to have headphones on with a friend over so we plugged it into a big speaker and they rocked out together (along with 1/2 the neighborhood I'm sure)

When they were in Ashley's room all quiet I found them drawing on their face with wet colored pencils (It's less messy than makeup.) Maia had some crazy face decorating going on...

but so did Ashley!

Yesterday we got letters from our nephew Elder Beaulieu out in Orlando. He finally saw his first real alligator this one is one that was inside someone's home they were visiting! 

We'll be out there next month but we won't be able to see him so this picture will have to do. He's doing great and loving it there!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Crash, Smash and Birthday Bash!

Taylor's project for the semester for physics was to build a rubber band or mouse trap powered car. How was he supposed to do this??? No instructions, just a couple of guidelines and a link or two to look at on-line. They couldn't use a kit but they could use wheels from something else. To get an A it had to go up to the top of an incline to get extra credit it had to perform in a crash off. 

So Taylor and I tried to find materials for his car. We went to Michaels and bought some wood, went to a friend's who had tools and saws and such and had him cut it down and drill holes for the axles. The wheels we pulled from an old Erector set. There was another trip back to the store to get a metal tube to engineer the mousetrap. Some gluing and figuring it out. After 3 days of working on it we realized it didn't work. The car was too heavy for the mousetrap to pull the axle and get the thing to go! It was due the next day and it didn't work!

So Jeff went to the hobby shop, asked for advice and brought home some lightweight balsa wood. When Taylor got home that day, he found out he had to start over again from scratch. We pulled off the wheels that he had glued on the first car and started again. 

I have to say this time he finished the car in 3 hours and it was completely his design and he figured out how to put it together. Failure the first time really taught him more than if he would've used a kit. He figured it out and it ended up going up the ramp for an A!

When it came to the tournament it Crashed and lost! Oh Well. 

I noticed just the wheels make it home afterwards...I guess he pulled it apart at school and threw it away. After all that work, sheesh!

Ashley's science project didn't work out liked it was supposed to but we had to turn her board in anyway....she ended up being enough of a smash that it was picked as one of the top 3 from her class to be judged. Wow!? Luckily she didn't get picked to go on because we would've had to explain how it hadn't really worked very well.

Ashley's birthday always follows Christmas so it's always a scramble after the Christmas stuff is put up to figure out what we were going to do. Since we weren't in the middle of a kitchen remodel (like last year) we decided to do a party at the house. She didn't know what kind of party or what she wanted to do but looking through pinterest for ideas we came across "spa" birthday parties. 

So that's what she wanted a "Spa" Birthday. 

We got the invitations out on Monday and the party was Saturday! I had a lot of figuring out to do fast. Luckily moms I talked to that week gave me some great ideas that I used to make the party great.

This bad idea was all my fault.

I was cleaning the house the day before the party and I got a knock on the door from a charismatic guy giving me this flyer offering to foam clean one room of my house. Now I know it's a Kirby sales thing but looking at the flyer it seemed like a promising way that I could get the family room clean for the party. 

I told him I wasn't in the market for buying a vacuum, "No problem!" he says.
I ask him how long the presentation is?  "It's as short as you want it to be!"...
All my other concerns were answered quickly and I thought it might be a good idea since I have no problem saying no to a salesman. (Because my husband is in sales I see through all their tricks)  

When the guy came back later with the Kirby guy I got a little nervous when I saw him unloading all his supplies. I thought I'm going to be here a while. Long story short I sat through more than an hour and a half of "demonstration" and in the end Jeff was home from work, dinner was ready, the boys were going to be late for their cousin's birthday party and all the guy did was fill up a bunch of pads showing me how much dirt was on my floor. His sales tactics didn't sway me and as it got later they started to irritate me. I kept waiting for him to do the promised "cleaning".  Meanwhile I got no housecleaning done and still had a party to get ready for. 

After the sales pitch kept going on and on and on we finally pushed him out. And for my "free cleaning" Well, one couch pillow was vacuumed, one step on the stairs was vacuumed, part of my kitchen (because I got to try it out) was vacuumed and one strip in my family room.  He never even vacuumed my whole family room let alone shampooed it!

In fact come to think of it he didn't even HAVE anything that looked like dry foam...but I do remember him mentioning a couple of times that it's not a good idea to shampoo the carpets with all the dirt in them...and that I would have to vacuum with his Kirby vacuum for a couple of weeks to get all the dirt out. (One of multiple bids to buy it) Soo...was that supposed to be his out for not cleaning my carpet???

Anyway all I can say with confidence is NEVER AGAIN!

Anyway...on to the party! 

Saturday I was running around getting stuff ready and I had the boys set up our Dance Revolution Game we got for Christmas. Yep looks like fun. 

The dance game and the trampoline were good pastimes while the girls were waiting for all the other guests to arrive. 

We took an idea off of Pinterest to fill the trampoline with balloons...fun for awhile until everyone started popping them. As Jeff was outside trying to clean them off the trampoline he expressed that he didn't think that this was one of my better ideas as well :)

Finally all the girls are here...pizza and snacks for all. 

Then on to the Spa portion of the party. 

I had stations for the girls to visit, Face, Hair, Feet, Nails and Hands all were set to get a spa treatment. 

For our facials we had chocolate, yogurt, lemon, honey masks. 

The girls pained themselves...



And then went to lie down in the family room (the unshampooed family room) to let their masks dry. 

Jeff pumped in "spa music" to listen to while they waited. 

Then we washed the masks off, toned and moisturized. 

Cousin Jolene was nice enough to come and do the nail station. 

Jenae was rocking it at the hair station and all the girls loved her crimping techniques. 

Time for cake and ice-cream!

Happy 11th Birthday to Ashley!

Then presents!

Ashley's best friend, Jenna, from Murrietta was also able to come!

I think Ashley's favorite present was the cotton candy maker she got.   Of course all the girls had to try their hand at making cotton candy. 

We kind of couldn't figure it out because the cotton candy kept coming out kind of small and hard. 

Then Jacob and Taylor figured out the right technique!

This machine takes crunched up candy  like jolly ranchers, mints and cinnamon disks as well so the kids begged me to get it out on Sunday afternoon and we tried lots of different flavors. Ha ha!

That night Kate got to join Ashley, Jeff and I for a dinner at BJ's along with a birthday pizooki! 

I'm thinking you had a good birthday Ashley :)

Now this week is finals week for the boys. Unfortunately Ashley was home sick one day and the boys were sick one of the mornings...but since it was finals they were loaded up on ibuprofen and sent to school. 

I have started a tradition that I put a little treat and note on their pillow during finals week. 

When I was out buying the treats Jeff made sure I included Ashley too. 

She was the only one who thanked me without being prompted. I guess the boys haven't learned what to do to ensure that things like this get repeated in the future ;)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The no picture Christmas

This is it....my one and only picture of anything Christmas....it's a picture of Ashley's class Christmas party off my phone. Of course she isn't even in it because she's in the "don't take my picture stage". Nobody is looking at me because she is also in a "mom you're so embarrassing stage" and asking her classmates to pose for a picture would constitute embarrassment. 

Why don't I have any other pictures? My camera was lost or possibly stolen at Knotts over the break. We've already cut our losses and bought a new camera but all the pictures for the last few weeks are gone. 

So this will be a post with a lot of imagination, some borrowed facebook photos and a few from our old backup camera. 

The Sunday before Christmas I got to sing in the choir and Taylor and Ashley played a duet at church. (It was one of Ashley's recital songs) I loved it, and a lot of people enjoyed them playing together! :)

Christmas Eve day Jeff was busy at work and we spent the day getting ready for Christmas including baking all day for my food assignment and me taking the kids to Target to let them buy presents for each other. We had a dollar limit...but I found out quickly that our limit wouldn't go far. I gave each person a reusable shopping bag to hide their presents in while they shopped. I had to redirect a couple of them from what they were planning to buy but a "joke" gift still ended up in the mix.  
There is now a rule that there are no "joke gifts in the future"  :0/

Christmas morning the kids were excited to open their presents (imagine happy faces here). 

Taylor couldn't even hide his surprise when he got an acoustic guitar even though he knew about the rock climbing shoes he was getting. Ashley liked her kit to build forts, her new crimping iron and purse. Jacob like his exploders gun (that he's been shooting everyone with) and his building set. 

I was happy that I bought them all shoes (which they needed) and clothes including sweatshirt jackets and everyone seemed to like what they got. Score! That was my best Christmas present ;)

Their favorite Christmas present was the trampoline. We tried to make it a surprise but they pretty much knew about it...so they tried to act surprised. Over the break they hung out together on the trampoline a lot. One day Ashley and Jacob were on it for like 3 hours! 

We couldn't enjoy the morning long because it was time to pack up and head up to Palmdale for Christmas with Jeff's family. It was nice to see all the family and even Jeff's Grandma from North Carolina was out. 
(Imagine a big family picture here)

It's always loud and crazy and fun when the family gets together. When it was time to open presents I sat there and it hit me. "I'm tired" I thought. It had been over a month of craziness and preparing and busyness. Cards and cookies, presents and events. Trying not to forget people and prepare everything for everyone and for some reason I feel the need to have most of my gifts have some kind of homemade element to them. (I'm thinking I might need to rethink this) and now I was tired. We ended up leaving at 4:30 while everyone else stayed to visit and play games. 

That night we went to be early and I realized I was starting to feel sick. Achy and chills and the beginnings of a cold was ignored the next day as we spent the day cleaning and preparing for the Oleson's to visit. We were excited that they were willing to drive all the way to California for a family visit!            

Thursday I ran over to the park to meet up with a friend down from Oregon. The visit was short but sweet. I had to put the turkey in for our big dinner and Joel and Virginia were only an hour away so I had to visit quick. 
(Imagine a nice picture of Sharla Allen, Penny Smith and I)

I got home to start the turkey and the Oleson's arrived and enjoyed the new trampoline with the kids and visited while I cooked. I love that people can sit at the counter now while I'm cooking so I'm not alone in the kitchen! We visited while the kids played and then Angela and Robert came by on their way back from San Diego to eat with us. 

(Imagine Robert, Angela, Ian, Joel, Virginia, Scott, Jared, Dean, Jeff, me, Jacob and Ashley in a nice picture around our Christmas dinner)

Taylor was out at Magic Mountain with friends trying to get one more use out of his pass. They missed dinner but he didn't stay too late because he said it was cold and the lines were really long. 

After dinner was done and Angela and Robert were heading home we got the kids settled and then the adults went to see Les Miserables. 

Great movie. I enjoyed it because we've seen the stage version a couple of times and this was an intimate look at the characters and you really got a sense for what they were feeling. 

I talked to some who had never seen the play and I think that the play version is a little lighter and more fun. I enjoyed both but I think you don't get the full experience unless you've seen the stage version too. 

The next day Jeff went to the office and Joel worked on his laptop most of the day while the kids hung out, Virginia and I did a little shopping and we basically had a relaxing day. (Great with me because I was tired and congested). That night we got the boys ready and they went to the LDS pre-New Year's Eve Scandia dance. Scandia is a little local amusement park and for $10 they got to go on all the rides, they had a dance and even fireworks at the end. 

Since you had to be 14 to go we took the younger kids to dinner at a great local Thai place and then went over to Sky Zone trampoline park. 

This is the only picture I have of our trip off of Joel's phone...didn't know Jeff could play basketball so well ;)

The next day we went to Knott's Berry Farm. We had a coupon that was going to expire and when I found out Joel and Virginia had never brought the kids there and were interested I helped them pre-buy tickets. So Saturday was the day for Knotts. The car was packed  because we were going to drive straight up to  Camarillo after to stay a few days with Angela and Robert. 

We got to Knotts and it was pouring rain! We were warned that most of the rides were closed and would stay that way unless it dried out. We braved the pouring rain for a few hours doing what we could. My idea was to go to the ice skating show which was inside but it didn't start for 3 1/2 hours so instead we went on the mine ride and the train ride. Crazy but the windows are permanently open on the train so they only blocked the rain some...Dean is wearing a Santa Hat that Joel picked up on clearance on our way into the park (hee hee). 

After a while the rain stopped and the rides started opening! We went on two rides and I could tell that Jeff and Taylor were having a hard time. Jeff was feverish the night before and Taylor said he woke up with a stomach ache that morning so I encouraged them to lay down in the car for a couple of hours. 

While they went to the car Joel took the big kids on the big rides...

Virginia and I took Ashley and Dean all over Camp Snoopy. The great thing was because of the rain the lines were really short for a Saturday! They got to ride everything 2 hours and then we headed over to the stunt show to meet up with everyone else. 

When we got there Jeff texted and said they weren't going to come back in the park because Taylor was now throwing up. 

We ended up staying about another 1/2 hour and then watching one last show and then called it a day. During that time Virginia and Jacob were cold and done for the day too and headed back to the cars. Scott was looking for a partner to ride one last roller coaster with. I agreed to go on Montezuma's Revenge with him. I think that was one of my favorite parts of the day was hanging out riding rides with my nephews.  I loved going on the rides with Dean when he needed an adult to go with him and I loved sitting next to Jared when he got the courage to go on Silver Bullet. 

We headed over to eat dinner together but Taylor was really sick by this point, and Jeff wasn't feeling good either so we cancelled our trip to Angela and Roberts and headed home instead of going up to Camarillo with the Oleson's. I came home to unpack the bags we were frantically packing just a few hours before. 

It was a fun day (for some of us) even thought it wasn't quite what we expected. 

That night our whole family went to bed early and just slept and slept. Everyone had been run down and in various stages of illness so it was good to just have a sick day and stay home to recover. I was the only one who made it out of the house to go to sacrament meeting the next day. After Sunday all of us except Taylor started feeling a lot better. 

So now it's New Year's Eve day and we have no plans but are feeling better. We were still quarantined from the rest of the family because we didn't want to get Robert sick since he's on chemo right now so we had to come up with other plans.

We decided last minute to go up to Mountain High and do some tubing. 

We busted out all our snow clothes (that we barely ever get to use) and bundled up and drove to Wrightwood. 

Taylor stayed home to rest but the rest of us got to spend some time in the snow on inter-tubes. 

The down side was everyone else had the same idea it seemed so the lines were long. 

The upside was it was a very safe, fun way to ride the inter-tubes and I got to hold onto Ashley's tube the whole time and we could ride together. 

The moving sidewalk also made it easy to get back up to the top. 

We only rode down a few times before we ate lunch and it started getting late and cold. 

We tried making last minute New Year's Eve plans to do somthing that night but everyone else was either sick or with family already. So we were resigned to doing nothing when we got a text from a couple in the ward asking us if we wanted to hit a quick, early dinner at least. Yeah, we were up for it. Another friend came too and brought her baby even though her husband was out in LA with his family. So our thrown together group had a nice dinner at BJ's and then Jeff and I rented a couple of movies and went home to hang out with the kids. 

Jacob was the only one of us that had big plans. He was out at the church New Year's Eve dance partying. I'm glad he got to go. He got home about 1:20 and the rest of us were on the couch watching movies. 
Happy New Year.

The next day we got to drive out to meet Joel and Virginia and the family as they were heading up to Utah. Jared spotted a Famous Dave's at our meeting spot so we hit a quick lunch there. 

I'm thinking we need to go back there again! Yum.

Saying good-bye to the Olesons! Glad you got to come for a visit, we'll miss you! 

The rest of the break we tried to do the homework that was put off. Ashley and I had to work on her Science Project and Jacob spent most of Friday jumping on the trampoline trying to avoid his homework. 

I took Taylor to his rock climbing gym once and we went to Sycamore canyon once with the dog and he got to rock climb some (though he said the rocks really aren't big enough)

I don't know if you can see him but he found this rock that looked like it split in 1/2 and he's trying to climb up the middle of it. I just kept thinking about snakes!

On the last day or so Taylor started on his mouse trap/rubber band car which ended up being kind of a fiasco so I'll save that story for the next post...

Oh for all those friends that sent their cards a little after Christmas...you have made the cut. All the Christmas stuff is put away so your's are the only cards that are on our fridge! Love it! 

Hope everyone else had a great Christmas!