Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Rest of June

I love summer.  I love unhurried mornings and spending the afternoons playing outside.  Today we went to my parents house to be with Grandma Harris while my parents went to the doctors to get Mom's staples taken out from her hip surgery.  The kids swam, I pulled weeds and listened to an audiobook.  I got hot from that, so then I swam, too.  I visited with Erin and Tallia while the kids played.  It was wonderful.

Summer dinners tend to be easy, too.  Tonight was eggs, hash browns, and orange julius.  Last night was sloppy joes.  I'm thinking some sort of salad for tomorrow.

We had to clean up quick after dinner for our home teachers to come over.  Then, after they left, Ethan and Marcus and I played Carcasonne.  Then Alyssa, Ethan, and I played Ticket to Ride while Marcus laid my train cars down on the tracks.  I love that the kids are getting old enough to play games with and not get extremely frustrated.

Becca fell asleep on the way home from my parents' house.  She's done this before.  She should sleep through the night.  If she doesn't, either Brian or I will be having a middle-of-the-night  book or movie party with her.  I really hope that doesn't happen.  I think the life of a toddler msut be so funny at times.  Here she fell asleep in her swimsuit on the way home from Grandma's house, and she'll wake up in her bed with clean underwear and pajamas on.  Magic!

So what's been happening since Cub Scout Camp?

1. We went to see the Reptile Man at the library.  He brought some new snakes this year.  There was an African snake with leaf patterns on its back that was so beautiful.  Becca loved the tortoise that the Reptile Man sets on the grass to wander through the crowd.  She kept petting his shell, and I eventually had to pull her away to make room for other kids.

2. The Sumsions came to visit.  I love when the Sumsions come to visit!  This time they're in the States for an extended vacation from Singapore.  Ethan kept calling them Singaporians, and Grant kept saying, "We're not Singaporians!"  They're doing great there, but they can't wait until their three years are up and they can come back home.

Brian and I played Spades with Will and Nelsa while the kids watched a movie.  The girls were winning for most of the game, but the boys blew past us right at the end for the win.  We went tubing at Charbonneau Park with Brian's dad.  With out two families, there were too many people for the boat, so we had to split into two groups.  Alyssa and I went with Nelsa, Sydney, and Grant.  Sydney is a die hard tube-er.  It was her first time, but she loved it!  I went with her toward the beginning, and we got knocked off, hitting the water hard.  My first thought was, "Oh no!  Now she's going to hate tubing!"  The second my head was out of water I was asking, "Are you alright?" but she wasn't concerned at all.  She held her hands above her head in the air, turned toward the boat, and yelled, "Seriously?!?"

Both Ethan and Grant had moments where the waves washed over them and the inner tube, completely submersing them in the water, but they both held on tight and made it through.  Brian actually had the tube flip over, upside down, and he managed to hold on and flip it upright again.  I wish I had been able to see that!

I'm sad that we only got to see the Sumsions for a short time and that it will be so long before we see them again.  I'm glad that Brian and Will were best friends in high school and still want to hang out, and I'm glad Will married Nelsa, because I love her!  And I love that our kids get along, and our families have such a great time together.

3. I finished the rough draft of my book.  I finished it on Saturday, June 21st.  The last few paragraphs took three days to finish.  I still don't know if I have it concluding exactly as I want it, but it's in a good spot for now.

It feels to good to have finished the story.  It was an amazing experience and totally worth all the effort and early mornings that went into it.  I never knew how much the author is actually controlled by the story's events and characters, instead of the other way around.  At least that's how it was for me!  I had my basic outline in the beginning, but the actual story, except for the very bare bones, is very different from that first outline.  There were so many times that I would be writing and be surprised at how a scene turned out, or times where I would be in the middle of the scene and be wondering, just I hope my readers will, how it will end.  Even though I knew what needed to happen in a scene and what the end goal was, for the most part, the characters dictated what happened, and writing the story felt like just as much of a journey as I hope my readers will someday experience.

Right now I'm starting to go back and edit the highlighted areas where I didn't like a certain sentence or I knew more information was needed, or I called a minor character SomeGuy instead of taking the time to give them a name.  While I'm fixing those, I'm also making a detailed outline of the story, so I can easily see where the plot holes are, or where I want to add in things that I already know are missing.  I'm excited for this part, but it still feels daunting!

4. We went to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 last night for Family Home Evening.  We had a goal to not miss FHE for the month of June, so that was a bit of a reward.  We had been wanting to go see it since it came to the theaters, but missed every opportunity for various reasons, but mostly because we didn't have the house clean.  (I'm being very strict this summer about not leaving the house in a mess.  Plus, the way I see it, if we know we can't go to the movie unless things are tidy and no one makes an effort to clean, then we really don't deserve to see the movie.)  Anyway, it was good.  Not as good as the first, in my opinion, but I think that's mostly because I feel they gave away the whole plot in the trailors, so there were really no surprised for me.  It was still fun to watch, though, and it was fun to cuddle with Becca once she held still long enough to fall asleep on my lap.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cub Scout Camp

Today was Ethan's first day of cub scout camp.  They're doing a Medieval Knight theme this year, and it is awesome.  I volunteered to walk with our group of boys today, and I'm so glad I could be there.  I love watching my kids grow up!

Our pack was combined with another to be the White Knights.  We started off at an obstacle course to get to the dragon and slay it.  The boys had to swing over a kiddie pool moat, jump over logs, climb under cobwebs of string, walk across a board suspended between two pool ladders, and then once they hit the wooden dragon a few times, they would run back to the line to do it all over again.  They must have each done it at least ten times, and they never got bored!  It was a great way to start the day.

Next we went to a cooking class, where they learned a few different ways to start a fire, and got to cook biscuit "pies" over the flames.  Each biscuit was burnt, except Jacob Freeman's.  His turned out a beautiful golden brown, and he said it was delicious.

The boys did BB Guns and archery, and hand sewed little pouches to keep marbles in.  One of my favorite stations was the Public Square, where they were all found guilty of their crimes and were forced to sit in the stocks to get their picture taken and to have wet sponges thrown at them.  They also got to sit under a water balloon dunk tank thing to get water splashed over their heads.  They loved that!

The boys were talking so much on the drive home.  It was fun to listen them sharing their experiences and laughing about all the fun things they did together.  Ethan was so exhausted tonight.  We went out to dinner, and he was falling asleep on the way home.

When we got home from camp, we found that Brian had bought a BB gun and target, and we all took turns shooting in the back yard.  Brian took the first shot and must have hit the tiny area between the paper and the metal box thing, because his BB made it inside the box, but didn't punch the paper.  He said the gun must shoot a little off. (If I used emoticons, I would put a smiley face here.)

I went next, aimed the best I could, and guess where it hit?  Yep, straight dead on the X, baby.

Look at that.

Right on the X.
And here's pictures from Scout Camp:

Fire building relay.  They each had to lay down a piece.

If the sponges landed close to them, they were allowed to throw them back.

That water is just about to drench his back.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mushrooming 2014

Brian's parents went up to the cabin a couple weeks ago, and in wind, rain, and hail, they found a ton of mushrooms.  With Alyssa having ballet on Friday evenings, it's been a little difficult to get away, so we decided to take off right after church to go mushrooming for Memorial Day.  We usually visit the cemetery on Memorial Day, but it obviously just didn't work out this year.

We brought along Alyssa's best friend, Buffy, and they had a blast together.  Buffy was a natural at finding and cutting mushrooms, and I loved that she enjoyed tromping around the forest as much as we do.  It was a quick trip, but so much fun.  Ethan was with us, I promise.  I guess I didn't get any pictures of him.  He was all over the place this year!

Grandpa and Marcus were buddies for a while.

Brian and Becca were buddies.

Marcus fell and cut his finger pretty bad on a stick.  Luckily we had a first aid kit in the car.  We were able to get him cleaned and bandaged, then he hung out playing my phone with Grandma.

Buffy cutting a mushroom

I don't know why the camera caught this face.  I don't remember her being disgusted by the mushrooms...

my girls

Marcus with the biggest of the lot.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Piano Recital and Cow Tongue Tacos

Alyssa and Ethan had their piano recital yesterday.  It was a little busy for Alyssa and me, because she had ballet from 5:45-6:45, and the recital started at 6:30.  She couldn't miss ballet, because they're doing testing for next year's placement, so we put her at the end of the program and she and I raced to the church once her ballet class was over. 

Both Ethan and Alyssa did a great job.  I'm proud of them for sticking with it and practicing even when they didn't want to.

Alyssa played "Fur Elise" and "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," and Ethan played "If You're Happy and You Know It" and "Song of the Bluebird."

This was taken right after our dress rehearsal at our house.

In Other News:

1. We cooked up some lengua tacos last Thursday, and I took some pictures of both the coolness and the nastiness.  We thought the missionaries were coming over, but I got my weeks mixed up, so we had Phil and Erin over instead.

This picture isn't showing how pretty this really was.  This bag has two cow tongues and a bunch of diced onions, tomatoes, and cilantro.  The tongues weren't so pretty, but the colors from everything else were.


No, seriously, I had to peel the skin off the tongue.  That's usually Brian's job, but he didn't come home in time to do it.

The first time we tried lengua tacos, we cooked them in the sous vide for 30 hours, then when we moved them to a skillet to finish them up, they shredded beautifully, so it tasted like wonderful shredded beef, and it was easy to forget that you were eating cow tongue.  This time we only cooked them for 20 hours, so they didn't shred, and even though it tasted good, I didn't eat it as easily as the first time. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Oh, Great Badger Mountain

We went for a hike up Badger mountain last night.  It was so fun.  We picked Alyssa up from ballet, then headed straight there.  The sun was just starting to go down, so it was nice and cool the whole way, and it didn't start to get dark until we were back at the park and ready to go home.  And so far, out of two Badger Mountain hikes this year, I've seen zero snakes.  Count that: ze-ro.  Brian saw one a few weeks ago when we went with the youth at church, but I'm not counting it, because it was far away from me.

One reason we went on the hikes was to prepare for the trek this summer and to break in our new hiking boots.  Brian loved his boots, but was wearing the wrong socks, that kept moving around and bunching up, so he ended up with a blister on his heel.  Not a bad one, though.  He said it felt fine today.

The kids were serious troopers up the hill, and they were so glad when we made it to the top.  I think they enjoyed the way down the most, though.  One of my favorite parts was that everyone was tired when we got home, and they all conked out real fast after being tucked in.

Becca had just fallen off the bench.  This wasn't very far up, and Brian's heel was already hurting.

I made a real quick mei-tai carrier for Becca after dropping Alyssa off at ballet.  It wasn't big enough for her, but it worked.  Brian carried her to the first stop, then I carried her the rest of the way up, and Brian carried her down. 

The kids at the top

And now without Marcus' elephant arm

In other news:

1. We got home from a trip to Disneyland last week.  Post to come soon!

Brian watched about an hour and a half of Strawberry Shortcake on Saturday, just because Becca wanted him to watch it with her.  That's love.
3. The kids and I went to the Health and Safety Expo at the Trac this afternoon with Erin and Phil's family.  They loved it!  Oh, you want to give me a bag so that I can go from booth to booth to play games and get candy?  Yes, Please!  Even Becca had her own bag, and she was really good at going up to the tables to get a piece of candy or play a game.  Alyssa used some of the things they gathered - safety goggles, a face mask, latex gloves, a cheap clipboard - to pretend to be a doctor/safety inspector person tonight while the kids played in the back yard.  We had Brennan and Asher over, because they didn't want to go to Kenna's choir concert, and the kids played outside the entire time.  Currently, Marcus is wearing a plastic fire fighter's helmet, Alyssa has a face mask on top of her head like a hat, Ethan is taking notes with a bone pen, and I'll bet that Becca has a dum dum in her mouth.  All in all, a great afternoon and evening.

Monday, April 28, 2014

We Love Grandma Harris!

My parents took Grandma Harris to the hospital on Saturday, and it turned out that she had a blood vessel rupture in her brain.  One doctor said it was a stroke, and one doctor said it wasn't a stroke, but a CVA(?).  The blood in her brain is affecting her speech, which is what clued Mom and Dad in to the fact that something was wrong in the first place.  She's especially been having a hard time remembering names.  She said to my mom, "I know you're my daughter, and I know I love you, but I don't remember your name."  She really wants to leave the hospital and go home, and they're trying to get things set up so she can go home tomorrow.

We all took turns visiting her in the hospital yesterday.  The kids made cards for her, and we picked some flowers from our yard.  We were going to go visit her after church, but we wanted her to be able to smell the flowers sooner, so we made a quick visit before church, then I went back after church without the kids and stayed for longer.





I'm so glad I took the kids to visit.  When we got in, they all wanted to give her the cards, but she was sleeping.  Mom woke her up for us, and she was so excited to see us.  I went to give her a hug and to tell her that I love her, and when I stepped back, Becca was right behind me, holding out her arms to give Grandma a hug, too.  She went over to hug Grandma a couple times for the few minutes we were there.  Grandma kept saying to her, and then to the other kids, "You're so pretty!"  I think it was the only way she could think to say that she loved them, too.

Alyssa said afterward that she was afraid to hug her, because she didn't want to hurt her.  I think she remembered when she was in the hospital for her appendix, and all the IV's and monitors they had her hooked up to.  She did give her a careful hug before we left, though.

I love that Grandma was excited to see us.  Her face just lit up with joy at seeing her great grandbabies.  I know that even though she couldn't express it easily, that she recognized us and that she was glad we came to visit.

Mom took a picture of my sisters and I with Grandma, since we had "all the girls" there. 

Mom took a picture, and said, "Oh, that's beautiful!  That's perfect!"  But she must have accidentally pushed the button again before handing the camera to me, because the picture we saw...

...was this.  "Mom, Christina's head isn't even in the picture!" I yelled, and Christina said, "Oh, I see why it's perfect!"

And here's a picture of my mom and her mom.

My cousin, Shawn, flew in to see her.  Grandma and Grandpa Harris raised Shawn, and Mom said that Grandma was so surprised and thrilled to see him when he walked through the door.  We hung out for a bit at Mom and Dad's with him tonight.

Here's a picture of that with all of our crazy children.

Shawn is helping Dad get Grandma's room ready for her to come home to, and he'll stay for a little while to help after she comes home, too.  It was fun to visit with him.  He's the same Shawn I remember from when I was little!

In Other News:

1. This was Rebecca's outfit of choice this morning.

Yes, she's wearing a baby bonnet halter top and a pair of princess panties.  She brought the bonnet to me, but was very upset when I tried putting it on her head.  It took a little while to realize she wanted to wear it like a shirt.  Well, as close to a shirt as it could come.  We went with it.  She's a strange one.

2. We had a "How to Be Polite When Flying on a Plane" lesson for Family Home Evening tonight.  We're flying down to California in a little while, and we wanted the kids to be prepared.  We talked about quiet voices, pleases and thank you's, and how to ask for something politely.  We also practiced walking with our carry on bags, especially holding it in front of us while going down the aisle of the plane.  The kids had a lot of questions, so I'm glad we did it, and we're all excited to go!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Ate Way Too Much Candy Today

We had such a wonderful Easter today.  The kids weren't allowed to come into our room, where the baskets were, until 7:30.  We heard Alyssa shouting out the countdown every few minutes.

"It's 7:23!...It's 7:26!"

Becca actually came into bed with us around six or so, and she woke up around 7:20, so she was the first to be able to get her basket.  It was fun to watch her discover her goodies without the older, busier kids around. 
"I've got Dad all to myself."

The boys were playing while they waited.  We're between bed frames right now, and Marcus doesn't have a bed sheet, because every time I put a new one on, he cuts or rips it somehow.  I've given up.  He usually sleeps with Ethan anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter.  We'll make their room nice when Marcus is old enough to not ruin/break things.  That boy...

We had a slow morning with lots of chocolate and candy.  I meant to do a real breakfast, but it just didn't happen.  By the time dinner rolled around after church, I was so ready for real food.  I tried to get some pictures of the kids before church, but we all know that never works.  They are cute, though, and I love them lots.

We had a special Singing Time in Primary about the life of the Savior.  I cried while picking the songs for it, so I was afraid I would cry while singing them, but I did okay.

Becca wet her pants during Nursery.  Actually, they brought her to me to take her potty just before I had to do Junior Singing Time, so I texted Brian to come get her, and she wet while she and her leader were waiting for him.  Lesson learned: next time I'll just take her no matter what time it is.  So I gathered the kids, because Sacrament Meeting was about to start, and I didn't want them sitting on their own, so I thought, "Let's just go home."  Then Alyssa reminded me that the choir was singing, and Sister Carroll told us that none of the sopranos were allowed to be gone, because there's not that many of us, and I was actually excited to sing with the choir.  Instead of staying home, I just grabbed some fresh clothes for Becca and we went right back to church.  I'm so glad we did, too, because the talks were awesome!

After church we picked up the hams and headed to my parents' house for dinner and an egg hunt.  The weather was perfect, and the kids had a great time playing outside together for the first time since Autumn.

The dads hid the eggs in the yard.

These lilac bushes make the whole yard smell heavenly!

All lined up

The little ones get a head start.

Becca just took off.

She was very intent on getting those eggs.

She did stop to give a "Cheese!"

before putting an egg in her basket.
Ethan was a hard time to keep up with.

There's his face!
This is all I could get Marcus to hold still for.

Alyssa tripped over the wagon and hurt her foot, but she was ready to run around by the time the hunt started.

Brian and Marcus worked together when the finding got difficult.

In other news:

1. Did you notice that Becca's hair is gone?  She cut a bit off on Tuesday, but it blended in enough to just leave it.  On Wednesday she wacked off some more, but I still don't know where and exactly when she did it, because I haven't found the evidence.  She cut off most of the right side, but left enough to give a little bit of side-swept bang action when we took her in to get it fixed.  I'm so sad that we had to cut off all her curls!  I think they're gone forever, and I miss her long hair, but the new cut turned out very cute, and it is easy to do each morning!

2. Brian and I have been asked to go on the youth Stake Trek this year, and we had training out at Bing Canyon yesterday morning.  Brian's parents were nice enough to take all the kids to their soccer games while we were gone.We had a great time, and it was so nice to know the kids were where they were supposed to be and well taken care of.

3. Ethan had his own room for a while.  He's been complaining for a while that Marcus makes the messes in their room and he cleans them, which is basically true, so he requested a room of his own.  After thinking it through for a few minutes, I decided to put him on one side of the school room, just to try it out.  He enjoyed it for the most part, but he also got lonely at night, so we moved him back to his old spot last night.  His clothes are still in an old dresser in the school room, but his bed is back where it belongs.