Friday, December 21, 2007

We survived!

The first week of this month Ronny attended a Computer Science conference in Alberta, British Columbia, Canada. He was gone for week and had lots of fun networking with fellow students, professors, and hopefully potential employers. During his time away Ron's sister Anjanette came for a few days to help out. And oh let me tell you, did she help out. She's awesome and wonderful for just being willing to come. Our kids adore her and were so excited she could make it. We are also appreciative to James for being such a supportive husband in our time of need! You rock too!

We had great fun that week and I was able to get the great majority of our Christmas cards and packages mailed off. The week went by smoothly and without any great emergencies! We could definitely tell the Lord was watching out for us. That same week was the week of the great floods here in the Northwest. We didn't pay much attention to them until the announcement came that I-5 was closed indefinitely. This is the highway Ronny would be coming home on. Thankfully the waters receded and the road crews were able to get the road back up and running in time for Ronny's homecoming!

Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the time with Anjanette, however she did so you'll have to check out her blog.


Its been a while since we have blogged but for good reason I think. Directly following Charley's baptism and Thanksgiving we finally received word from our school district regarding our kindergarten complaint. They have decided to comply with our three complaints and reverse and rewrite their kindergarten procedures. We informed the reporter who originally wrote a story about our process last June and she decided to write a follow-up story. This started the media frenzy we have had at our home the last two weeks. Ronny was interviewed for the News and to date we have had at least 6-7 articles written in various newspapers through-out the state and country about our story.

The State Attorney General's office has finally issued their opinion that no parents should have to pay for kindergarten (which was our hope from the beginning) and the State Board of Education Superintendent has told all districts in the state that they should no longer charge for full-day kindergarten and that they should consult their own attorney's regarding this practice.

This has all somewhat snowballed and escalated much faster than we had imagined. Yesterday we received an email from the office of our state representative who we asked for assistance earlier in our process. In the email we were informed the Senate Education Committee is convening a special hearing on our topic and has asked us if we would be willing to testify. We don't as yet have a definite time or place (although we assume it will be at the capital in Salem) so we will keep you posted on these events. If you are interested in our story you can Google Bjarnason Refund and find all kinds of articles. We have been doing this ourselves and keep finding new stories (some of which have quotes from us yet we never spoke with the reporter writing the story). You can find the complete story at our blog

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Charley's Baptism

Charley Ann Bjarnason was baptized and confirmed by her father yesterday (November 17, 2007). It was a beautiful ceremony and both Ron and Charley did a great job. Charley's two Primary teachers spoke on baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. They also did a wonderful job. Nana, Grammy Terri, Aunt Michelle, and cousin Anna all flew in for the occasion and many friends from here attended as well. We had a full house! A group of Charley's friends sang a song with her just before she was baptized and they brought many tears to our eyes. Charley was asked to give a talk and share her testimony in our Primary Sacrament Meeting Program this morning about her experience. She did a wonderful job! We are so proud of her! Her brothers were very excited to watch Charley make this step in her life and are eager to follow in her footsteps!

As a side note: Our Primary Program was this morning. All the kids were given speaking parts. They all did a great job. It was especially comical to watch Sam try to climb over the stand, lay on the stand, and do everything he possibly could while singing each song and avoiding eye contact with Mom. He however dutifully announced to me that he was a good boy and did not blow in the microphone during his part like he was instructed. Next year Mom will be more specific on the instructions.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Charley Turns 8

Charley turned 8 yesterday! Can you believe it, I surely can't either. Where has the time gone. Well Charley has been very excited about this day for a very long time. Unfortunately it didn't go as smoothly as we had planned, but in the end it turned out alright.

While getting ready for church that morning my back went into spasm (as the urgent care doctor told us). Ronny helped me into our room and quickly found neighbors to take the kids to church. After sending them on their way we visited the brand new urgent care right around the corner. I explained to the doctor that it was our daughter's birthday and I had a flower cake to frost and needed my mobility back. She examined my back and announced that it should be back to normal in about 3 days. WHAT!!!! (Jonny where are ya when I need ya?) She prescribed same pain killers and a muscle relaxer and sent us on our way. I was of course in tears trying to figure out how to salvage Charley's birthday.

Well Ronny stepped in and completely took over everything (Have I mentioned that I married the world's best husband and father?). Ronny took over the task of frosting the cake and did an amazing job as you can see. Some good friends came over and helped celebrate with us. We gave Charley a pink CTR ring and a watch (I bet you can't guess what color the watch is!). She also received a much needed winter coat from Nana and Papa and is anxiously awaiting a white dress for her baptism that Grammy Terri is making. Dad surely saved the day!

Charley will be baptized on November 17th at 3:00 p.m. All are invited, it will be a wonderful event!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween 2007

This was a typical Halloween for our family. What does this mean you may ask? This means Dad is MIA for most of it if not all and Mom scurries around trying to make sure everything is ready so we can get out the door. Ronny has been serving on a jury all week for the county and the judge decided to give them instructions that kept them longer than usual. (Apparently he didn't have kids to take out Trick or Treating!) A group of parents and friends in our little complex all get together for soup and appetizers for dinner at our community center and then head over to the Church for Trunk or Treating. So I cheated this year and did a quick soup from a pouch and pizza bites for the appetizer. After dinner we walked back home and I finished getting the kids into their costumes. I had to bribe Ben to put his on so I waited until we were headed out to wrestle him in it. As we were walking out the door Ronny walked in so he made it to a little of the festivities.

So here is our little costume parade. Yes by the way, I did make the costumes (all except for Ben's, you'll notice its a hand-me-down). I only wish you could hear Sam growl "Aargh, Matey!" Its hilarious. We named each kid and their costume: Charley Cat, Joseph Hood, Captain Sam, and Ben Dragon. These pictures aren't the greatest but I did my best! Joseph didn't have his crossbow during the picture and you can't see the feather we made for his hat either so you'll just have to pretend. When we asked the boys what they wanted to be for Halloween, they first asked what kind of swords or weapons they could have with their costumes. They are truly boys! The kids all designed their own Jack-O-Lanterns and drew them out so Dad could cut them. Unfortunately Dad forgot to cut Ben's out. Oh well.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sam Turns 4!

Friday was Sam's 4th birthday. He was so excited for this day. He asked every morning this week if today was his birthday. This was a birthday of all things dinosaurs, including the cake. Sam had 3 friends and their families come over for cake and ice cream. Then he opened his presents and it became a dinosaur feeding frenzy. They all had fun playing with the dinosaurs and putting together the puzzle. It was a great day and Sam enjoyed it which made all the time the cake took worth it.

A friend of mine came over and helped me put this cake together. She piped almost the entire thing green herself before having to leave. She was quick! Start to finish it took about 2 1/2 hours including baking the cake to put this together. I found the instructions online and jumped in with 2 feet. We had a lot of fun putting this together. Now we are on the hunt for a fun cake for Charley. Any ideas?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Pumpkin Patch and Family Pictures

This has been an extremely busy week at our house with all the activities going on in our kids schools. I was thinking the other day, trying to figure out why I felt like all I was doing was running from one place to the next. It then occurred to me that I had 3 children in 3 different schools. Am I crazy or what?

Wednesday we did our annual family pictures. We decided to venture out and get some pictures that tied in our community a little bit. We went to an iron structure on campus, the dinosaur bones play area, and the old train at a park here. The kids were less than cooperative so we are hoping for at least one good picture to come out of our adventure. Our friend and amateur photographer obtained a new camera recently and is going to cut and crop them and put them on disc for us. We are anxiously awaiting the disc. I'll post a couple when we get it.

Sam's preschool went to the pumpkin patch yesterday. It was great fun and as Joseph has afternoon kindergarten he and Ben were able to tag along. Unfortunately that means my hands were too full for a camera. A friend of mine came with hers and took some great shots so if I can get a copy or two from her I will add them later. Now this pumpkin patch is a keeper. It has old hand water pumps set up to have rubber duck races, a corn cannon, chickens (always a favorite), dried corn bins to jump and dig in, a great tractor ride to the pumpkins themselves and 3 different kinds of pumpkins to choose from (orange, green, and white). They also let you pick out whatever pumpkin you want for the same low price of $2.50 This works out great when your kid chooses the biggest one out there which is what the kids did the first time we went with Joseph's class. This time however Sam had to choose the smallest one there that fit in my palm. It wasn't worth the battle of having him put it back and choose another so we just went with it.

Joseph and Sam had a friend come home from school to play later that day. We decided to paint our small pumpkins instead of carve them and make paper airplanes. They thought this was great and I had them gated in the kitchen to make sure paint didn't make it out. However after two hours of complete chaos of having 5 worked up boys and throwing planes everywhere and one girl who had a tough day at school I was beat!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Papa's Visit

Papa came to visit this week. The kids anxiously awaited his arrival on Thursday and were very excited he came to spend some time with them. Ben warmed up to him very quickly and he and Sam enjoyed playing animals with him. He also took the kids outside and played catch with Joseph and his friend Tyler, soccer with Sam, watched Ben sit in his toy car, and went to Charley's soccer practice. He then took us all out to Izzy's Pizza Buffet. The kids enjoyed every minute of it. Ben affectionately calls him KaKa and the next day walked around the house saying "KaKa uhoh" meaning where did he go. Sam also was a little teary when Papa left and did not come back the next day and is now begging to go to Papa's Barn.

Papa left the kids Border's gift certificates which they spent the next day. Sam picked out a dinosaur book, Joseph a baseball book, and Charley picked out two new chapter books one about fairies and one about the Underground Railroad. This last picture is of Ben, every time we pull the camera out Ben runs to the closet door and waits for his picture to be taken. Its hilarious!

Soccer Season

I have been meaning to blog about the kids playing soccer but just haven't had the time, but today I have committed to catch up! So Charley and Joseph are both playing soccer this year. Ronny volunteered to be Charley's coach and its clear he is the more excited of the two! Ronny researches drills and stays up late figuring out the roster for game days, and pleads to buy more equipment. It won't surprise you that Ronny spent a good portion of his birthday money on more soccer balls for the team.

Charley's team is so much better than last year. So far they are 2-1-1, I don't think they even tied a game last year. Charley is much happier that her team is doing better and scoring goals for a change. She is a true team player and her skills are definitely improving. Charley is also learning the art of "shaking it off"!

The first game of Joseph's we quickly discovered the difference between boys soccer and girls soccer. These 5 year old boys push and shove and all fight for a piece of the ball. They rarely complain about an injury and after being tackled by the pack quickly jump up and dive back in. He has one little boy on his team that is truly amazing. In their last game he scored 5 goals in 3 minutes which meant he was pulled to let other kids get some action and give the other team a shot at scoring. He also has a boy on his team who gets mixed up about which way to shoot the ball. Its a riot to watch these kids!

Joseph scored a goal yesterday. We were all very excited as Joseph typically hangs out on the outside of the pack and waits for the ball to pop out. Yesterday however he was much more aggressive and held his own in the pack.

I have to say that I have dreamt of this time in my life that I would officially become a Soccer Mom. I love it!

Sam and Dad's Big Day (First Day Part 3)

Sam started preschool this last Tuesday which also happened to be Ronny's 33rd birthday. Sam was so excited to start school. He seems to have mixed feelings about it now. He had a great first couple of days with only a few hiccups, however he came home on Friday and told me he cried at school and wanted to come home but his teacher said no. He loves riding the bus with Daddy and loves that his friends are with him at school. He also has a mental health aid that is assigned to him and other kids in his class to help with transitions. The aid certainly helps quite a bit and Sam comes home tired which tells me he is thinking and playing hard at school.

The week before school started Sam was officially diagnosed with ADHD. Everyone seems to have an opinion about this, which is sometimes helpful but mostly not. I have begun researching this and have learned a great deal. Sam's child psychologist is not as helpful as we had originally hoped for. Although she is very kind and a great listener she does not have very much experience with what we are dealing with: a 3 year old, multiple children, and life in general with a child with ADHD to name a few. Textbooks can only take you so far, life seems to be a more direct and sometimes harsher teacher. We have begun different behavior plans at home that seem to be working much better.

In talking with the kids about Ronny's birthday, the kids each wanted to give him a gift. As this may get a little expensive we discussed options. Charley made Ronny a picture and his own game, Joseph and Sam bought him a giant candy bar, Ben and Sam gave him a Fully Invested BYU shirt, and I gave him Season Two of House. Joseph also decided that because Ronny is a student he should get cupcakes at school like he does. So we made cupcakes and took them into the guys at the office. The kids thought this was great! We then let Ronny choose where we went for dinner, Baja Fresh, and then got the kids hamburgers as they don't quite appreciate Mexican food yet. We brought dinner home and then lit the candles on the cake and sang to him. It was a long, but great day for our family!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Family Night

Last night during family night we had the kids line up in their chairs. Ben was so excited to sit with the big kids. Our family night was on Obedience, I bet you can guess why. We were actually shocked they could sit so close to each other without conflict. They lasted for about 3 minutes just long enough for us to get through most of the lesson. Ronny also gave the 3 older kids father's blessing for school this year. They certainly didn't last through those. We had them practice being obedient by putting their clean clothes away after only being asked once. Then Sam led us in a game of red light, green light. We'll see if the lesson had any effect on them this week. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

First Day of School Take 2

Monday was Joseph's first day of school. He loves it of course. However, he has gotten it into his head that since he is now old enough to go to school he can do anything he wants including misbehave. He's been a pill this week. We asked him if acts like this at school. His response was, "Oh no mom, I am so good at school, I'm only bad at home." We told him if this continues he would have to wait one more year for kindergarten, he's finally getting the picture. He also informed us that his teacher makes them work to much and that they only get to play a little bit. There are only 11 kids in his class and the boy that sits next to him is on his soccer team. His parents are from Africa and his Dad teaches at OSU. They are great people and remind us so much of the Esseman's from Turlock. The school just redid their playground and Joseph says its "cool" he only wishes he could play on it longer at school. He is doing well.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

1st Day of School Take 1

Today was Charley's first day of school. She was ready 20 minutes early and was having a hard time containing her excitement. Unfortunatley the bus driver was not so ambitious as she was 20 minutes late! So, Charley was late to school. Grrrr! Ronny and I are hoping to meet with her teacher soon to discuss our options for either having Charley move to the 3rd grade or at least attend their reading and math times. Its an uphill battle but one we are determined to accomplish this year.

A new girl moved in a couple doors down that is in Charley's grade and goes to church with us. They have been inseparable since she moved in. Charley refers to her as the sister she has never had. Anyway, Erin is in the class right across the hall from Charley's room. They were sad they weren't together but I think the parents are happy they don't have to worry about their chit-chatting in class.

Joseph starts school this coming Monday and Sam starts on Oct. 2 so we will have the first day take two and three shortly.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sam's Meeting

Last Thursday Sam had an appointment with Early Intervention. As we were walking in to the meeting Sam asked, "Is it going to hurt Mom?" We assured him he was just going to go and play. Sam played with one of their child evaluators while Ronny and I answered questions with another evaluator. Ben came along as he had a "gunky" eye and we didn't feel that we should leave him with the neighbor. At the end of the evaluation Ronny and I discussed the results with the evaluators. We discovered Sam is a complete visual learner, he does not respond to hardly any auditory stimulus. This was a light bulb moment for Ronny and I as this answered several frustrations we were having. Sam has also been assessed at being significantly low in social/emotional behavior and adaptive behavior skills. Sam's pediatrician agrees with us that Sam is ADHD. Sam's pediatrician recommended Sam see a child psychologist, however we are still battling with our insurance before he can go.

Early Intervention will now send a team of people over to the house to determine the best course of action to get Sam caught up before he goes to kindergarten. He is already signed up for preschool so this may just be sending over an aid to work with Sam at school. It was very interesting to talk to the evaluators about Sam and where he is at. Ronny and I learned a lot just in the hour we were there. It was also interesting watching Sam interact with the evaluator and Ben or lack there of. The last question the evaluator asked us was whether or not Sam was different. I thought that was a funny question. Of course he's different, why do you think we are here?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Just Add Another Table

Ronny has great friends in his office. We have gotten to know the "guys" over the years as we try to have them over a few times a year for dinner. Our kids love to play with them and get rather excited when they come over. Anytime they have family in town they usually ask if we can have a big dinner. (I see this as quite a compliment personally) Well the first of them defended his dissertation this week and is moving to New York. On Sunday we had all the guys over for a celebration and farewell dinner. Well the group has grown over the years so the last time we had dinner we had it in our community room, this time however it was booked so we had it at our home. The guys now bring their current girlfriends and as Charlie was graduating his father was in town so he naturally joined in.

In total we were expecting 14 adults and 6 kids including our family. Well if you have been to our house you know its not exactly large. In preparing for the night Ronny and I were stressing over where we were going to sit everyone. In the end we borrowed a neighbors card-table and chairs, joined it to ours and were able to sit 6 adults and 5 kids in the kitchen and the rest at the card-tables in the family room. In setting the tables I thought to myself, if Stephanie (Ronny's Mom) can seat 40+ at her house during Christmas surely we can seat everyone for dinner here, just add another table, we can find more room.

I wish we had taken a picture, unfortunately I didn't think that far ahead. It was a great night and everyone had fun. They stayed until 9 at which point they decided to go to a movie allowing Ronny to put the kids down. I was called away earlier to visit a friend in the hospital so I wasn't there to say goodbye. The night started at 5 so they were there a total of 4 hours, they ate a ton and laughed a lot so I consider it was giant success. Good times!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Swimming Lessons, Weddings, and Carpet Cleaning

What do all these have in common? They can all be thwarted by pink eye. We are guessing Sam got pink eye from swim lessons, it presented itself at my cousin's wedding reception, and we had to cancel our appointment for the carpet cleaning and swim lessons today because of it. Chances are the other kids will follow in a day or two. It is in these times we are very grateful for a Papa who can call a prescription in on a weekend, otherwise we would have had to wait until this morning to get him into the doctor for the prescription. After only a day and a half of the drops Sam is looking much better and feeling much better. He is not a big fan of the drops but we manage to get them in. We will of course finish the series off so as to not invite the illness back. Hopefully we can reschedule the carpets soon, they really need cleaning.

We had a great time on Saturday as a family before the pink eye presented itself. We started off going to the Farmer's Market and found a local grower selling pluots. They weren't as sweet as Papa's but the kids were so excited to have them. We then made our way to Portland. We did some shopping and had dinner at IKEA. The store in Portland just opened so it way extremely crowded but the kids had fun playing in the kid room and we all had fun in the cafeteria. You can't beat it when you can feed a family of 6 for under $15 with good food. I was so distracted with everything that I forgot to buy the kid chairs we went for in the first place.

We then went to my cousin Lauren's wedding reception. It was great to see my cousins and do some catching up. Sam and Ben were complete rascals during a family picture, thankfully everyone was patient and understanding. There was another little boy there (I'm not quite sure who he belonged to) who enjoyed running around getting into all kinds of trouble with our boys. They had a blast. The reception was outside in a garden and was beautiful. Lauren does floral arrangements for several hotels and businesses in the Seattle area so you can imagine how great everything looked. I forgot our camera so we unfortunately have no pictures. We noticed Sam had goop in his eye while we were eating cake. We wiped it out not thinking too much of it and then it was back within 5 minutes. By the time we got to the car his eye was pretty swollen. Thankfully he was able to sleep on the drive home.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Joseph's 5 year check-up

Joseph had his 5 year check-up today. He would have much preferred to go to his swim lesson. Joseph passed his eye test with flying colors 20/20 on one eye and 20/15 on the other. The doctor also officially diagnosed Joseph with asthma. So its now in the charts. As of right now its not bothering him when he plays so we will refrain from daily medication for the time being and keep up the nebulizer treatments when he gets sick.

The doctor also looked at his toes. He said they are definitely curved and will be an inconvenience but not worth fixing. Apparently surgery would be involved and 9 times out of 10 they would become infected. I told him we were happy to accept his diagnosis and Joseph will just live with crooked toes, he agreed. He had two shots which he cried through but was willing to sit still for. I told him he is now ready for kindergarten, that didn't seem to be enough to stop his crying and whining but maybe later it will be.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Joseph's 5th Birthday

Saturday was Joseph's 5th birthday. As it was an odd numbered birthday he had a friend birthday party. We sent out 8 invitations and 15 people showed up. Surprisingly 3 of the people who received an invitation didn't come. Joseph on the other hand decided to invite all the neighborhood kids and then of few parents called and invited all the other siblings along as well. So needless to say, we had a full house. It was great fun and Joseph had a blast.

I went and found a Yoda poster so we played "Pin the light-saber on Yoda". Two of Joseph's friends are from Korea. When I was explaining the game I asked if the kids knew how to play Pin the tail on the donkey, they had never heard of it. They asked what else we would be doing at the party, when I mentioned we were going to have cake and ice cream the two bothers looked at each other and shouted "ice cream" in unison. It was so funny. We also had a pinata which almost made it to the very last person before breaking but after so many kids it really didn't have much of a chance. Unfortunately we couldn't find the camera at that point.

I went to the dollar store and found those pool foam noodles, I cut them in half and then in fourths down the center and then wrapped electrical tape around the ends to make each kid their own light-sabers. We sent them all outside to duel while we got lunch together. It was fun watching all of them. Ronny and I were tired after they all went home but I know Joseph had a great time and he made out like a bandit, not hard when there were so many kids. We'll have a talk next time about why we send out invitations in the first place.

Sam and his buttons

Sam has a habit of pushing buttons when he's not supposed to. I don't know if he just can't resist it or if he is more curious and wants to see what happens. Last month at church I was right in the middle of photocopying the YW calendar when Sam reached up and turned off the copier. We had to start all over and right after I started it again he pushed the off button again. He was sent behind the partition after the second time. Well a couple weeks ago I was making chocolate milkshakes for a treat after Sunday dinner. I turned off the blender opened the top to pour it into the cups. As I was reaching for the cups Sam reached up and turned the blender on. As you can imagine chocolate shake went everywhere. Here are a few pictures although they don't give the mess justice. Do I think that this mess will make him think before he pushes another button, not a chance!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Summer Vacation Part III (Days 10-14)

Day 10 (July 9th)

Lake Day. Stephanie had told me about Lake Yosemite many times in our previous visits and I'm sure we talked about going once or twice but never made it there. We finally decided to check it out. I am so glad we did. This is the perfect hang out spot! They have boating, fishing, a scout camp, playgrounds, camp grounds, a beach, and many places for picnics and barbecues. This quickly became a favorite spot of mine for future visits. The beach is small with lifeguards and a swim area roped off with water that is only about 4-5 feet deep. Perfect! The boys waded in up to their necks but there was no surf to knock them over. Charley was in the water the entire time. Ben was happy to play in the shallows next to Nana and I while we sat in the sun. After a few hours of this he was ready for a nap in the shade. This was a great day! We decided to bring Ron and Papa back at the end of the week and allow Joseph and Sam to try fishing. On the way home we picked up some KFC for dinner. The kids ate every bite of their dinner and went happily to bed and slept the entire night.

Day 11 (July 10th)

Movie Day! Nana and I took the kids to see Disney's Ratatouille. I was surprised at how long this movie was. I didn't see all of the movie as I was taking kids to the bathroom for many parts of it. Ben was done about halfway through so I ended up having to ask Stephanie how it ended. The kids seemed to like it for the most part so that was good. In the afternoon the kids played outside on the slip-n-slide. Water had to be involved somewhere.

Day 12 (July 11th)

Stephanie and I braved Boomers and miniature golf with the kids. Stephanie started out with a hole in one of the first hole. Joseph got his on the Windmill hole. He was so excited. Sam was a little dangerous with the golf club. I was sure he was going to break one of the lights or wallop one of us with his club. He did not want any pointers on how to stand or how to hold the club! After this we gave the kids a few tokens to play some games and pick out prizes with their tickets. Once we finally pried them out of the place we headed over to Aunt Karen's for another dip in the pool. The kids love going there and Porter and Stephanie ventured in to give me a hand with the kids.

Day 13 (July 12th)

Beach Day! We all hopped in the car and drove over to Aunt Deborah's house on this day. On the way in we picked up some sandwiches at TOGO's. After changing the kids into their bathing suits we packed them back into the car and headed for Santa Cruz. We found a nice spot next to the life guard tower and set down our blankets and towels. The boys still need to learn the rules about beach etiquette. I am sad the kids don't get more beach days, this is something I grew up doing every summer. Charley never came up to the blanket once, she was again in the water the entire time. Ben and Sam mostly played next to me in the sand, however Joseph and Sam both enjoyed chasing the waves. After having our fill of the beach we drove over to the boardwalk for dinner and carnival rides. The kids loved the ferris wheel and Charley liked playing babysitter to cousin Jacob and taking him on the rides. She did a great job holding on to him on a ride that neither Deborah nor I realized was a little too fast for such a young guy. Ben really enjoyed the horses on the ferris wheel. On the way home that night we put on a movie in the car thinking they would be fast asleep. We were wrong again. They didn't fall asleep until we were about 1/2 hour from home. It was on the drive home that I realized I had forgotten to put sunscreen on my legs. I would pay the price the next day. Ronny flew back in that night and we were happy he was back.

Day 14 (July 13th)

That morning I woke up in quite a bit of pain. I have had bad sunburns in the past but never have I had so much pain in my legs than I did this morning. For some reason the sunburn caused my legs to swell and it was difficult for me to stand in one place without having significant pain. Nana was kind enough to watch all the kids while Ronny and I went to see the latest Harry Potter movie. After the movie we headed over to Walmart to look for a fishing pole. We found "Cars" fishing poles for the boys, not to mention weights and hooks, and fishing licenses for the big boys. Then we headed to In N Out for some lunch, YUM! After we showed the boys their poles they headed outside to see what kind of trouble they could get into while we prepared to go back to the lake. We loaded up the van and headed out along with Papa. Nana made a run to the store on the way there. We arrived expecting for the lake to be crowded but much to our surprise it wasn't at all. We found the spot we had that Monday and a table nearby. Stephanie arrived with all the fixins for sandwiches. The boys headed off to do some fishing. They soon discovered it was not safe for Sam to have a hook on the end of his. No fish were caught but they had a great time! That night we visited the book store and grocery store for our trip home the next day.

Day 15 (July 14th)
Driving home. We slept in a little late this morning but the sleep was needed after so much fun that week. The kids went on one last hunt for fruit with Papa before loading up in the car for our trip home. The kids did well on the drive and we arrived around 8 p.m. that evening. We felt a little bad as it was technically bedtime when we arrived so we let them play outside while we unloaded the car. We had so much fun on our trip. Sam continues to ask if we can go back to Nana's today. If only it were that easy. My next step is to make a slide show of all the pictures that didn't make in on the blog. Hopefully I will get that done sometime this week.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Summer Vacation Part II (Days 5-9)

DAY 5 (July 4th)

This was a day worthy of a large photo! Everyone pictured here stayed at the house during the holiday plus one, Ben was asleep in the house. We all woke in the morning and helped prepare a feast for breakfast as Ron and Stephanie hosted the first annual 4th of July breakfast for all friends and family nearby. At the end of the day we figured about 100 people came through. The kids had a great time exploring the farm, chasing chickens, throwing water balloons, and jumping in the giant bounce house Stephanie rented. The day ended with the great fireworks display at Cal State Stanislaus, after which all the kids headed for bed as they were exhausted! Oh by the way, did I mention it was 107 that day, toasty!!! Picture: top row from left (Uncle Eric, Nana, Papa, Anjanette, Ronny, Joseph, Leia, Jon) second row: (Deborah, Jacob, Hannah, Ruby Buttercup, Phontaine, Superstar 5 Jemimah, Jacob, Ben, Kirsten, Kate) third row: (Denise, Sam, Teah, Trixie Petunia Pineapple, Caleb, Charley, Ian) Not pictured Baby Ben and no I did not exaggerate the names.

DAY 6 (July 5th)

July 5th was clean-up and leave day after all the festivities. Ronny and Jon left early in the morning to fly back to school. Ronny is teaching a class this summer that he needed to get back for. Ben and Kirsten stuck around long enough for Ben to take the kids outside and have a quick game of baseball before the temperature topped 100. The kids were sad to see them go, they kept asking when Ian and Jacob were coming back. Uncle James would arrive that not so they considered it a fair trade! The kids of course played in the water all afternoon and took naps to recover from the previous day.

DAY 7 (July 6th)

The kids were happy to wake up Uncle James and start the day. The kids played outside while James cleaned out the cabin. That afternoon we went for another dip in the pool at Aunt Karen's. The older kids had great fun jumping to James and swimming. Ben thought the floaty was overrated and wanted out. After I took him out he wanted to jump in like the older kids. He has not yet acquired his fear of the water. After the swim the kids enjoyed a treat from the orchard. What could be better than a swim and fresh fruit from the tree?

DAY 8 (July 7th)

This day started off with shopping trips. Sam and Charley went to Home Depot, Borders, and McDonald's with Papa. They had a great time and Papa even said they behaved which is saying something for Sam. Joseph and Ben went to the mall with Nana, Anjanette, and I. We had fun picking out new t-shirts for Joseph and pajamas for everyone. That morning Papa taught Joseph that boys "take a leak" and girls go potty, thank you Papa. Later that afternoon James, Anjanette, and Nana took the three older kids to a Stockton Ports baseball game. The kids had a great time, Joseph especially. James had an interesting time taking the boys to the bathroom. They all came home happy and tired!
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Day 9 (July 9th)

Today was Sunday. Sam had a tough time in Primary so we came home after Sunday School. It turned out so did everyone else so we were in good company. Charley spent to afternoon reading Calvin and Hobbs while the boys played. Jared and Ashley came over for dinner. We sang Happy Birthday to Uncle James and then Stephanie took Ashley, James and Anjanette to the airport. After leaving Joseph called Ronny and said, "Dad something very sad just happened, James and Anjanette just left!" The kids were very sad to have to say goodbye.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Summer Vacation 2007 Part 1 (Days 1 - 4)

Our summer vacation started with the drive down to very sunny California on June 30th. The kids were so excited to go they couldn't sleep that night so instead of waiting to leave at 6:00 a.m. we left at 4:00 a.m. The kids traveled great. Ben was ready to get out of his seat around noon so we stopped for lunch. Then back in the car we went and arrived just before 3:00 pm. The kids were happy to get out of the car and play, play, play. Joseph quickly found Papa and the two of them headed into the orchard for the first pick of fruit of the trip. Thankfully a few of our favorite pluots were left to be shared amongst all of us. That night we went to the Ward barbecue at the park. The kids had great fun playing on the equipment and running in Nana's obstacle course. Unfortunately I ate a piece of chicken that must not have been cooked all the way and spent the rest of that night in the bathroom.

This was Sunday July 1st. Ronny took the three oldest kids to church with Nana and Papa. Ben and I hung out at home while I was still getting over the food poisoning. Ronny came home to report that Sam slept through most of church and never made it to Primary. That night we went to the Barbara and Jared's for dinner. Sis. Payne and one of her sons were there as well. The kids had fun playing with Allie and learning all about video games.

This is the only day I don't remember well. I know Stephanie and Denise went to Costco to load up on supplies for the breakfast on the 4th. I think the kids pretty much enjoyed playing with all the toys, having water fights, and watching movies. I think I don't remember much because the kids were content all day as seen in the picture. All 4 on the couch not fighting, Amazing! That night we had a wonderful steak and salmon dinner. I remember this part because Ronny spent the rest of this night in the bathroom as he had come down with the flu, something I had been blessed with the week before we headed down.

Today was Tuesday July 3rd, the day of the big party at Karen's and the day of arrivals for our f
riends. Ronny spent most of the day in bed. The kids of course were in the water outside most of the day. In the afternoon we left for the swim party at Karen's. My hands were full with all the kids so I had to borrow photos of the day from others. The kids had a great time swimming and playing with Porter. We left a little early as Mom was tired and we had some friends waiting for us back at Nana's . This year we invited two of Ronny's old college roommates, (Ben Morgan and Phontaine) and their families up from Southern California. Between the three of our families there were 12 kids with Charley being the oldest. That night the only way we could get the kids to calm down was putting on a movie in the Living Room and letting them fall asleep. The adults had stayed up way too late catching up. Jon also arrived this night much to the surprise of Nana! Great Times!!!
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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chewing Gum

So, I called Sam and Joseph in from outside around 8:30 tonight because it was time to start getting ready for bed. I came around the corner, and they were smiling they wry little smiles and I knew that something was up. I could see that they were chewing something, and I asked them what they were eating.

No answer.

Again, I asked and again no answer.

The third time, Sam gave himself up. "We've got gum", he said proudly. My children know that I confiscate any gum that comes in the house, and this was obviously the reason that they were being sneaky. Now, I'm not fundamentally opposed to gum, but in the hands of a five-year-old and a three-year-old, gum becomes a problem. Instead of getting mad, I decided to teach them correct principles.

"Now, there's nothing wrong with chewing gum, but it needs to stay in your mouth," I taught. "When you take the gum out of your mouth, it gets on things it shouldn't be on and it makes a big mess. If you take the gum out of your mouths, I'll take it away."

They had been properly taught, and now I just needed to know which of the other children on the playground had given them the gum so I could keep a watchful eye the next time I was out there.

"Who gave you the gum?" I asked Joseph.

"Sam" he replied.

"Where did you get the gum, Sam?"

"From the sidewalk."

and then I took the gum away.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another Trip to the ER

Joseph had the fortune of making another appearance at the Emergency Room today. The kids were having a pillow fight while Ronny and I were making dinner. In all the excitement Sam picked up one of the Thomas the Train towers and clocked Joseph right between the eyes. It left a deep enough slice that we thought he should be checked out. Five minutes after arriving a 16 year old boy walked in with a similar cut on his nose, he however fell out of a tree to earn his scar. 30 minutes later Joseph and the other kid both had their faces super-glued back together.

While waiting to fill out paper work Joseph's nurse took him outside to watch the helicopter landing and then gave him a Teddy Bear to keep. While waiting for the numbing gel to work we watched the Beavers play for the National Championship once again. We came home just in time to see them win. Joseph has decided to name his bear "Darwin" after the Beavers short stop. Joseph was kind enough to share his stickers with his siblings and is doing well. He has even forgiven Sam although he likes to remind him about the trip to the hospital every chance he gets. And we thought it was just going to be a quiet Sunday afternoon.

Earlier this week I came down with the flu. Ronny of course had a big conference this week so he wasn't home much. However I was grateful to at least have him in town. The kids are happy he is home for bed time. They have informed me he tells better scripture stories. I am happy he is home to tell them. Ahh, what a day to end quite a week!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New bikes and Strawbetty Jam

Last week we noticed Charley and Joseph were getting way too big for their bikes. So we started the hunt for a new bike. New bikes Charley's size are way out of our price range at the moment so we started the hunt for a used one. We found this bike on Craigslist for $6. It has definitely seen better days but it works just fine and Charley is so excited.

Joseph now inherits Charley's old bike. He is also very excited to have a bigger bike to ride. He and Charley are both getting used to hopping on a taller bike but once their on, they take off. Joseph's was concerned (and rightfully so) that this new bike to him is too girlish. It will get a fresh coat of blue spray paint this weekend to make it a boys bike. He can't wait!

Yesterday morning I went with a friend to pick strawberries. In an hours time I picked a total of 12 pounds. I didn't realize how much this was until I started making jam that afternoon. After 8 batches I have come to the end. When we get back from California I will do raspberry jam and then hopefully we will be done for the year at least until its time to make blackberry syrup in August. I love summer fruit and berries!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day

Father's Day was an interesting day for us. The kids and I made cards for Ronny Saturday night while he was at graduation. Sunday morning we woke up early and the kids and I made him blueberry muffins and scrambled eggs to take to him in bed. They brought along their cards for him to open. What I didn't realize was that they were buttering him up to see how much trouble the 4 of them could get into throughout the day. Here's how the day played out:

1. Sam threw his typical Sunday morning temper tantrum about wearing his Thomas shirt to church.
2. Charley left all of her art supplies scattered all over her bedroom floor after making Ronny's card.
3. Sam discovered the art supplies and dumped out two bottles of glitter on the carpet.
4. Sam opened the black stamp pad and stamped his feet and then walked all over the carpet.
5. While searching for the stamp pad Mom finds a basket of clean clothes Charley has told her she put away mixed with dirty ones.
6. Ben thought it was amusing to throw his lasagna on the wall at dinner time as every time he did so his siblings would burst into laughter.
7. Joseph yells "Damn It" on Aunt Deborah's answering machine after singing Happy Birthday.

Needless to say they all went to bed early last night. I should point out that Ronny did get a two hour nap in after church. Unfortunately he woke up to Mom discovering the black ink footprints in the house. I probably woke the neighbors up if they were having a nap as well. Here's to hoping your Father's Day was a bit more subdued.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sam rides his bike!

Monday the kids and I went outside to play before it rained. I noticed that Sam was still struggling to ride his bike. That was it! Today is the day he was going to learn to ride his bike. I put Ben down to toddle around the lawn, Joseph was playing at the playground so I thought this would be a good time. Sam and I worked on peddling for about an hour and finally he made it around the quad on his own a couple of times. At that point my allergies were so bad I couldn't stand it any longer so we went back inside.

Yesterday Sam, his friend Jackson, another friend Mason, Ben, and I went on a walk to the dollar store. Sam rode his bike all the way there and halfway home before deciding he was too tired to continue. It was quite the adventure taking 4 little boys for such a long walk but they did great! I was so proud of Sam he did such a good job. That afternoon Sam woke up from a nap and begged to go outside to ride his bike. We have passed another milestone.