Thursday, July 30, 2015

Parker's Mission Pictures

On September 2, 2015, Parker Stewart Wood reports the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.  He will be serving a two year mission in the Houston, Texas East Mission, also covering a large portion of Louisiana.  We will miss Parker tremendously when he is gone, with Willie gone, there really won't be anyone, for about 6 months to make us laugh out loud.  But, Parker will be a great missionary and we are so excited for him to sweat it out in the South for two years.

Yesterday, we ventured out to take some missionary pictures.  It was hot and the sun was bright, and my eyes were a bit blurry, but we still got some good shots.  I was happy that he wanted me to take some pictures for him and both Quinn and I, who are now very lonely with both boys in school all day, were extremely happy for the afternoon company.





While we were at the Jordan River Temple, Parker was approached by a small family because he was holding the Texas state flag.  The son of the family had returned on Wednesday from the Houston South mission and was pretty exited to see Parker, someone who would be going to his mission in a month.

The returned Elders mom then crossed the street to me, with my camera and asked excitedly, "Is this your first missionary?"  I smiled and laughed and said, "Well, I'm old enough to be his mother, but I'm just his cousin and volunteered to take some pictures for him."  She smiled and laughed.  We talked about her son for a few minutes and "my" "other missionary son" in Lithuania.

It was a really funny little exchange...Me, Parker's "mom" taking his picture with his "little brother" in the stroller watching YouTube on my phone.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

back to school, day two

Elliott's first day of school was a roaring success.  He came running to the car so excited to tell me everything that had happened.  He really liked his Spanish teacher, Sra. Asensio but he loved his English teacher, Mrs. Maples.  Both teachers contacted us several times the week before school started via e-mail, phone, and a post card in the mail.  Elliott really likes school, but never have I seem him this excited!  It's a great feeling as a parent to see your kid like his teachers so much.

What a difference a year makes.  This kid is so grown up.

Wyatt's first day of first grade was yesterday.  Wyatt threw me a loophole I wasn't prepared for when we were driving to school.  I was planning on parking the car, and walking to his line, like every other mom, dad, and grandma of a first grader but, he didn't need me.  "I want Elliott to walk me to where I line up" he said to me, oozing a confidence I wasn't prepared for.

Dagger to the heart!  I wasn't prepared for that one.  I thought for sure I could at least still be his mom the first day of school.  But, I was wrong.  He's always been a confident little fart, I just didn't know how confident I guess.

First day of first grade.  He wouldn't let me walk him to class, he wanted his brother to do it.  I already miss him.

I have to be honest, I was a completely worried mess all day long.  I spent the whole morning reminding him to go to the bathroom, not run around too much, to eat his lunch quickly and stay away from kids with peanut butter in their lunches and on and on and on.  I worry about this boy of mine.  But, if he is confident enough to walk to class mom-less, I suppose he can handle himself in the lunch room alright.  It's good that he's afraid of food and such a picky eater, he'll never go near anyone else's lunch.

When it was time to head to the school to pick up the boys, I was so excited.  Quinn and I had ourselves a good day, but we missed our boys.  It felt like it took them extra long to walk to the car and I was so nervous and anxious and couldn't wait to hear about Wyatt's first full day of school.  The smiles on their faces walking to the car let me know that both had a pretty good day.


Wyatt didn't have a lot to tell me.  He made a couple new friends, and a little girl from his primary class is in his class so that seemed to clear all his jitters.  He was proud of himself for surviving lunch, remembering his backpack, and remembering to use the bathroom.  Of course, he had much more to tell his dad when Ross got home from work, than he had to tell me, but that's okay.  I don't mind...too much.

Another boy way too grown up.
Suddenly, these boys of mine are growing up a little bit faster than I was prepared for.  Pretty soon, they are going to be teenagers.  I already feel pretty useless except when they need clean laundry and food....hopefully they will at least bring their friends home so I can feed them, too.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The end of Summer Number One

Elliott went back to school today.

First day of third grade.

Wyatt met his teachers today and starts officially as a first grader tomorrow.

Summer is over and we are back to school.

The last week of summer wasn't quite as busy as the previous two, but I tired.   And Ross was away at scout camp.  I also completely ran out of mental and physical and emotional energy.  For all my lamenting about year round school, this morning came just at the right time.

But I digress.

The last week of Summer #1.

We went to the Natural History Museum at the "U" and caught the last week of the "extreme mammals" exhibit where Quinn came face to face with a giant "Rhino".  Quinn also had a gargantuan meltdown screaming fit at said museum because, you know, there were other kids there, touching things.  Ug, this kid!

Today's summer adventure... As you can see, Quinn is quite enamored by the giant "rhinoceros"

Thanks @cindykaywood for the fun party. #nightswimming

On Monday night, we went swimming in Aunt Cindy's pool.  The Wood's had eaten Pizza for dinner and Cindy graciously let my kids devour the leftovers.

Tuesday was a pretty chill day.  We went to swimming lessons, ran some errands and went to the Expo Center to see the 24th of July floats.  On Tuesday night, we went to my mom's for dinner with a special guest.  "Elder" Nathan Hall, who was Willie's most current companion, who returned home the last week of June, came to dinner.  He was cute and fun and nice and I could totally see why Elder Petersen has a nice (and platonic) "bromance" going on with him.  He fit right in, didn't think we were dorks, and even let Mama Judy teach him how to use Instagram.  She also made him watch goofy videos of Willie from high school on Youtube, but that's a different story.

Elder Hall, I mean Nathan, came for an interrogation, I mean dinner.  He is a nice boy!


Hey look!  We found a temporary replacement for the #lithuanianexpress

Wednesday, Elliott went to Cub Country at Camp Tracy up Millcreek canyon with his Wolf Den.  He had a great time and came home filthy dirty.  Wyatt and Quinn and I just hung out at home and watched movies.  LAZY.

I guess the first day of cub scout camp was a success!

Thursday, Ross was home from scout camp and he took boys #2 and #3 to my mom's on his way to work and I got to go to Cub Country with Elliott.  It was a fun day and I was happy to be able to go.  We got home, picked up the boys and met our dad for dinner at Hires.

I really like cub country.

While I was at cub country, my mom had my other kids (and my sister's kids).  They spent part of the day creating a rock family. #nevertoomanypaintedrocks

Friday - the 24th of July.  As is my nature to boycott holiday's in general, my mom took the boys swimming while I stayed home, working on projects and their dad picked them up on his way home from work.  They came home exhausted and sunburned, which is just how I like it.  But we did sit on our front lawn on Friday night and watch the sky light up with fireworks.  Because, I'm sure that when the Pioneers arrived in the valley in 1847, the really wanted to light off some mortars and arials.

On Saturday we hosted the 4th annual Petersen Family post 24th of July BBQ.  A lot of family members were out of town or unable to come, but thanks so much to those that made it.  We had a build your own gourmet burger bar and every one brought tasty side dishes.  We had Rita's Italian Ice for dessert.  It was a really great night.

And now - we are back to the rat race of school, but just for three weeks, where we will return to summer.  Summer #2.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

no time to make time

We might be two of the most un-photogenic people I know.

we don't have a song.  We've entered our 13th year of marriage and we don't have a song.  It's really been bothering me lately, which I realize is dumb because it doesn't really matter.  One Sunday night, driving home from my parents after dinner I brought it up in conversation...the fact that we don't have a song.  Ross of course doesn't think it matters at all, but I told him that it does.  I also told him that I was pretty sure my parents had a song.

He said that he would guess that they didn't.

I called my mom.

She and my dad have a song.

I'm probably not supposed to say what it is (cough - stairway to heaven - cough) but they have a song.

I had no idea.

The next day, I texted my sister to ask her if she and her husband have a song.  She said no.  I asked her if she knew that my parents had a song.  She said yes, that it is (cough - stairway to heaven - cough).

I had no idea.

My husband is at scout camp.  He is supposed to be relieved and come home today.  Well, sometime late tonight is probably more like it.  We haven't had a real conversation with each other for days and days and days.  We haven't been on a "date" since, I think January.  We haven't even managed to tell each other good night because either one of us is already asleep or we're just too tired.

I read a blog post today, of a writer who I like, and she said that she and her husband are always doing things to "keep the romance alive" and one night after their kids were asleep they jumped into their hot tub in a rain storm with a big umbrella and that they just hung out listening to the rain and talking to each other and it was "so romantic".  I thought that sounded super strange, but I liked the idea of the talking part.

Keeping our lives afloat these days feels extra challenging and that there just isn't any time to spend together.  Do other people sometimes feel like their spouse is their roomate, or is that just me?  It's hard to figure out how to keep things interesting and engaging and not just be annoying, and a nag.

Maybe, we just really need to sit down and figure out our song.  That might be the solution to everything.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Grandma Camp: Lagoon


For several years now, my mom has been trying, with no success, to convince us all to go to Lagoon with her.  We haven't done, using young kids, the hot summer, and general disdain for the place as our reasons for not going.  This year though, the kids are finally really big enough to go on nearly all the rides, walk instead of be carried or strollered around, and so we all relented.

July 13 was the day for Lagoon.  Grandpa Karl opted out, he's allowed to do that sort of thing, but Ross and James came with us and it was a lot of fun.  It was also extra great that Ross came because, you see, he enjoys riding rides.  I do not enjoy riding rides, instead opting for food and people observation, and perfecting my pack mule skills.  I am an excellent pack mule.

As soon as we arrived we headed to kiddie land.  Now, I haven't been to lagoon since I was 15 years old.  As Elliott did that math last night, he realized that I haven't been 15 for a very long time.  Lagoon was nothing like I remembered it to be.  It was clean and fun.  They have a really fantastic kids ride section, all new, and the kids had a great time.

We arrived around 2:30 in the afternoon and after about an hour of kids rides, Ross, James, Elliott and Wyatt headed out to ride the roller coasters while the rest of us stayed in kiddie land to drive cars and fly helicopters and ride in boats.  After a little while Ross called to say that they were bringing Wyatt back to us.  Ross coaxed him onto two wild rides and he'd had enough.  When his dad left, and Wyatt was with the women folk, he told us that the old white roller coaster was, "TERRIFYING!"  The kid rode Space Mountain at Disneyland when he was 4, but he's gotten much smarter now.

We rode the train.  We rode Tidal Wave as a whole family.  Quinn wasn't a fan.  In fact, it took Quinn about an hour before he was brave enough to ride anything, but once he figured out he was safe, he even let some of the kids who ran the rides help him in and out of rides.  That was a big move for mister stranger danger.

We ate dinner in Pioneer Village at the end of the night and then it was time for the wet rides.  No one really got wet on the old log flume, but they got drenched on Rattle Snake Rapids.  Completely soaking wet.  The big boys wanted to go again (Haley, Molly, Quinn, my Mom and I opted out of the super wet stuff) but their dad was too wet and said no.  I did bring dry shorts for them to put on for the ride home, good thing too, because when we finally left, they were still pretty wet.


I was really impressed with Lagoon.  It's small enough that you don't die running from one end of the park to the other, and we lucked out and happened to be there on a day that it just wasn't crowded.  I imagine that there are days when the lines are Disney lines, but yesterday, we just walked on to everything.

The kids were all super good.  Jack is a daredevil and wants to ride everything and he took good care of his twinner, Quinner, who is afraid of air.  They held hands and jabbered and giggled and crashed bumper cars into each other.  I hope that they are always best good friends.

I'm glad we went.  I'm glad that I have such a fantastic mom, who is the best grandma out there, doing wonderful and fun things with her grand kids to give them experiences!

And, they had dole whip.  We ate dinner at an Arby's inside the park, but they had dole whip.  And, it was delicious.

Today's grandma camp is at lagoon.  Haven't been here since 9th grade.

Tool him almost an hour to be brave enough to ride anything, but now he seems to like it.  Except the Tidal wave.  He didn't like that.

Their dad came so I didn't have to get wet.  And because he was invited and we like him.  But mostly to get wet.

We might be two of the most un-photogenic people I know.

Last one....having a baby boy three months after my sister had a baby boy was one of the smarter things I've ever done. @hqbing1 I hope thing these two forever love each other



Saturday, July 11, 2015

Utah State Capitol

I read an article a few weeks ago.  It talked about how our kids are being raised in a world where, as their parents, all we ask them after they do stuff is, "Did you have fun?"  even though we know perfectly well that all the things they do aren't fun, and aren't even supposed to be fun.

The article continued by saying that instead of asking our kids if we've had fun, we should ask them what they learned, what they thought about the experience, that sort of thing.  It really got me thinking and in the last little while, I've started to change the way I ask my kids about the things that we do.

I mean, I pretty much know that they've had fun, because we do fun things.  But, I also want to know more about their thinking.  It's fun to hear what they think about stuff.

On Thursday this week, we continued our Utah history adventure at the Utah State Capitol.  We started with the visitor center across the street and then, quickly realized, that pushing a 40 pound child in a stroller isn't the best way to tour the capitol.  You see, there are a lot of stairs.  A.  Lot.  Of.  Stairs.

But, we survived the stairs, and the tourists, and had some great conversations about government, how laws are made, what the Supreme Court is and does, and about what movies were made in Utah.  (there were a couple cool exhibits about movies).  I was really surprised at how much we had to talk about .  I felt like a history teacher again, and my boys seemed to be willing students.

Afterwards, we headed to City Creek for lunch at the food court and a quick trip to the Disney store for a prize.

It was a fun day.




Friday, July 10, 2015

This is the Place State Park


On Wednesday, we went on an adventure with Grandma Judy.  We hadn't been to "This is the Place State Park" since Willie was 2 years old.  Yes, that's 18 years.  It was pretty much the same as I remembered it being nearly two decades ago.  But, it was different.  There was an excellent Native American program with beautiful traditional dress and dancing.  Oh, I love tribal dancing.

There were a lot of activities, which we sort of missed out on because I wasn't in charge of the map.  There was doll making and arrow head necklace making and other stuff like that.  The people in character in the homes were fun to listen to, and the boys got to ride ponies.  We had a science lesson in the school house and learned that a pioneer barber, one with a striped pole outside his buisness, was also trained in surgery and blood letting.

Oh, and there was a train.  Let's not forget the train.  The kid that was our tour guide on the train, Parker, was hilarious.  He was good enough to do the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland, if that were something he was interested in doing.

We ate "Brigham's Donuts" dipped in chocolate and flavor burst ice cream.  We bought old fashioned candy and toys and added about 4000 steps to our daily step totals.  The weather was a little weepy...not really raining but not really clear, until it was time to leave.  It was the perfect day to visit the park.

After, we got lunch and had a picnic at the Liberty park, complete with a small tribe of attacking geese.

It was a great day.







Wednesday, July 08, 2015

July, so far...

I guess if you can get out of your crib in the night and then just go back to sleep on the floor, with all your blankets and your shopping cart, it's probably time for a bigger bed.

July.  It's here.  The boys finished school on July 1 and 2, respectively and we are ready for summer.  So far, we've managed to get a lot of activities in.

We've bought Quinn a new bed.  He gets out of his a crib a lot and he is almost three.  So, we bought him a new bed.  Now, we just need to set it up.

Grandma has a been out of town...there were some boys who missed her....

We've been swimming a lot at great grandpas house and started swimming lessons this week at the Kearns Rec Center Pool.  Elliott is in "whale" and nearly finished with the whole swimming lesson program.  Wyatt is a "crab" for the third time.  He's hopefully finally going to pass it off because I've told him that he must take swimming lessons UNTIL he can pass crab, and then we can talk about it. Quinn isn't old enough to start "fwimming lessons" yet, but as soon as the boys are back in school, I'm going to sign him up for a mom and "baby" swimming class.

Schools out for summer.  All three weeks of it.  My boys both earned perfect report cards.  Those two events warrant a delicious lunch!  Even though sitting here with these three knuckle heads is making my hair gray and my teeth clench.  Only one fist fig

On the last day of school, because it was the last day of school and the boys had great report cards, I took them to lunch.  We went to the training table because I wanted a Hawaiian burger and some delicious fries.  The boys were brats before the food came, but luckily settled down when the food arrived.  That was, until, I had to take Quinn in the bathroom to change his diaper.  I came back three minutes later to a complete and total fist fight on the bench.  Wyatt was swinging at Elliott and Elliott way laying on the bench choking Wyatt.  It was awesome.  People were staring.  I was flaming mad, just like Anger in "Inside Out".  I drug the boys outside and yelled them into a wall.  I yelled some more on the way home.  Then, they both spent about an hour (Wyatt a little more because he wouldn't stop screaming) in "sit in the middle of the floor and don't touch anything" timeout.

By the time I cooled down, I'd had it.  It had been a rough week and a rough day.  I texted Ross that I was done with the boys and that when he got home from work, I was leaving and maybe I would come back.

Taking myself on a date.  Before I file for a legal "mental" separation from my family.

After much internal debate about how lame I thought it might be, when Ross did get home I took myself on a date.  I washed my face and reapplied my make-up.  I combed my hair.  I put on a nice clean outfit and I left.  I took myself to a movie, one that wasn't crowded.  I sat in a corner by myself eating my popcorn and laughing so hard I cried.  Then, I walked to Target from my car and got a few things, getting my exercise for the night as well.

It wasn't lame to go to a movie by myself.  I would definitely consider doing it again.  I had a great time.  I'm a great date.

I'd call this a successful first day of summer vacation. #howdenboyssummer15

Our first full day of summer last week on July 3 kept us pretty busy.  We got up in the morning and headed to Haley's.  We played for a while, until it was time to meet dad at his new office and go to lunch.  Then, we headed to Great Grandpa's to swim the afternoon away.  The boys swam for hours.  I floated for hours.  Fun was had by all.  And, the best part?  Everyone fell asleep on our way home.  With three kiddos of such different ages, this doesn't happen much anymore.  It was a small miracle, especially considering the day before I was ready to divorce them all.

Cousins at the movies...

On July 4th, we broke with all tradition and created one of our own.  All of us, minus James and Willie, went to a movie.  We saw, "Inside Out."  It was delightful and entertaining and fun.  Elliott and Quinn devoured a family size popcorn.

After the movie we came home and spent the afternoon just hanging out.  Oh, and we lost Quinn.  Long story short, he thought he was playing hide and seek with the boys outside, and decided to, without anyone knowing, hide in the car!  On a 100 degree day!!  We found him, but he'd been in the car about 20 minutes and was covered head to toe in sweat, like he'd just gotten out of the bathtub.  Once he drank about 30 ounces of water and stopped crying, he told us that he was hiding from the boys and couldn't open the door to get out of the car, and we couldn't hear him screaming.  It was terrifying.  It won't happen again.

Chillaxin and relaxin.

That afternoon, we headed out to my grandpas to swim and eat dinner with him.  The kids swam with cousins and we had a great bbq with my grandpa.  That evening, with a slight drizzle of rain, we set of fireworks and for the first 4th of July in many years, Wyatt did not throw up.

Winner winner chicken dinner.

An American in Lithuania celebrating the 4th of July.  #lithuaniaexpress

And finally, I love my brother and miss him lots.  He celebrated too, just in a different country.


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