Friday, December 29, 2017

The Week Before Christmas

We've tried every weekend in the Month of December to do a family activity.  In 2016, we ended up with only one night in the entire month where we were overly committed to other people, to spend with each other.  So, this mama made it a priority for some quality family time.  Well, we had 4 Friday's before Christmas and, we were about 50/50 on quality family time.

Week one: Out to dinner at a restaurant with menus and to see the "tree of life" in Draper, Utah.  Fun activity, fun night.




Week two:  Per the request of the children, gingerbread houses.  The houses collapsed several times, the dad yelled several times, the frosting got everywhere, and the mom got stuck with clean up.  It was a struggle.

Week three: Drive around to see the lights - except for the fact that we didn't prepare ahead of time and the local news map we used was highly disappointing.  All Christmas spirit was lost, immediately.

Week four:  We went with Grandpa Karl to dinner and to see the new Star Wars.  The boys were immediately enchanted with the porgs and late in the night, after the movie we headed out on a small adventure to, unsuccessfully, secure our family a pet porg, two days before Christmas. 


On Christmas Eve, which was a Sunday this year, we ventured out to Grandpa Huber's house for our traditional Christmas Even program.  It was a nice program and fun to see my kids read and participate.  Man, everyone is getting so big.  Ross and I also hid in the corner before everyone else got there to test out my selfie light for my phone.  It took us, maybe, 20 attempts, but we got a nice little picture of ourselves.  I have no idea how people take "couple selfies" on the regular.  It's difficult.



Oh, and yes, my hair did change colors from the beginning of this post to the end.  Funny what a trip to the hairdresser right before Christmas, and a general feeling of anxiety can do to a girls hair color.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

cousin picture

Willie decided that for Christmas, he wanted to give my mom a photo with all SIX of her grandchildren.  Willie organized everything, we met at my house a couple of days before Christmas and did our best to be fast and create enough good light.

We ended up with some pretty cute pictures.  Even if, these Napoleon Dynamite obsessed kids were doing their best glamour shots by Deb looks.

The winner winner Chicken Dinner:

The Out takes:




Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Programs

December is so busy.  In the last few days though, we had some great little Christmas programs with the boys.

First up was Quinn's preschool program.  It was the sixth and FINAL time I watched the Learning Dynamics Christmas program and it was great.  Quinn did a good job reciting his part, "We are getting ready for Christmas" and sang most of the songs.  I took "the brothers" to school late in the morning so they could support Quinn and his program and Willie and Grandma came along as well.



The big boys also had a holiday performance, but for band.  They did two assemblies at school back-to-back in the morning and then a program at the junior high in the evening.  Elliott is in his third year playing the trombone.  In fact, we just got a letter in the mail telling us that we have rented long enough, we now own the trombone.  Hooray!  Wyatt is in his first year of band and  even though he initially wanted to play the saxophone, after trying it out, it was discovered that he was not only too small handed as an 8 year old, but in fact the alto sax is so heavy that it nearly tipped him over.  He settled on percussion, and has struggled a bit being a first year band nerd.  But, as the concert approached, he and I had a week of mini lessons and practicing at home, he finally started to get the hang of the fact that he is playing notes that are written on a page, not just to memorize.  Hooray.

Both boys did a great job.  I was very proud of them.


Thursday, November 09, 2017

Halloween with the Dynamite's


Months and months and months ago, Elliott had the idea to be Kip from "Napoleon Dynamite" for Halloween.  As the months passed, more people got roped into the idea of a giant family themed movie costume party.

The assigned rolls were as follows

Quinn :: Napoleon
Elliott :: Kip
Wyatt :: Pedro Sanchez
Ross :: Principal
Annie :: Deb
Mama Judy :: Grandma
Coach Karl :: Happy Hands Club
Molly :: Summer Wheatley
Jack :: Don, Summer's boyfriend
Baby Brady :: Tina the llama

Now, thinking about it, I cannot remember what Haley and James were assigned...I think that James was also part of the Happy Hands Club - or maybe James was Rex Kwon Do and Haley was supposed to be Starla?  I cannot remember....

Anyway, as Halloween drew closer, the costumes got more real.  As silly as it sounds, I've maybe never been more proud (in an ironic sort of way) of how well my kids pulled off their Halloween costumes.  They were the hit of school, the hit of the neighborhood and after our professional photo shoot images were posted to Uncle Rico's instagram feed, they were for a brief moment, the hit of the internet.

I laughed all day long and told Elliott before he went to sleep that most likely, never again in his life, would he ever have such a great costume.

It was truly the best!





Monday, October 23, 2017

Adventures in Moab


A few months back we decided that since the boys are now on a traditional schedule, it would be fun to go on one final adventure for the year over UEA vacation.  We picked Moab, UT and decided to use our National Parks Pass (which we realized later that we lost.  Oops.  Sorry, Mom!) to visit Canyonlands and Arches National Parks.

We had a great trip.

We airbnb'd a mobile home.  I thought it was a double wide, but Ross said it was a single wide.  It was pretty spacious regardless.  And, besides the space, everyone got their own bed.  Hotels just don't work well for us these days because we aren't quite prepared to pay for two hotel rooms and one hotel room doesn't provide enough sleeping space and someone, generally Wyatt (he volunteers) ends up sleeping on the floor.

Anyway, enough beds.  Great weather.  Major crowds.  There was a state high school mountain biking competition the same weekend so everything in teeny tiny Moab was a bit crowded.

We had such a nice time.  Things have been pretty stressful in our lives these days - there is a lot going on and not only an immense about of physical energy being exerted, but more mental energy being expended than we've got in our brains.  It's nice, every once in a while, to go somewhere where there isn't any service.  No internet.  No instagram.  No facebook.  Just beautiful scenery, breathtaking vistas, family time and lots and lots of hiking.

Quinn was a trooper.  He hiked to delicate arch and we learned is also afraid of heights.  And, FYI, delicate arch is about 5 miles round trip, not 3 like all the signs tell you.

We walked and walked and walked.  We ate lunch in our car.  We saw green squirrels and used lots of out houses.  We were happy.  We slept in.  We didn't fight.  Like I said, a really splendid time.

We should do it more often.







Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Pinewood Derby

This year's Pinewood Derby took weeks of preparation.  Ross was going to be in Spain the week of the big event so I made him make sure that Elliott and Wyatt's cars were ready before he left.

It was Elliott's last pinewood derby and Wyatt's first.  Our cub scout group was pretty small this year.

Elliott opted for a minimalist car - one that required almost no work.  He and his dad shoved his pine block into a toothpaste box and that was about it.  Big, slow, but amusing.

For Wyatt's car, the boys ventured to the hobby store and bought a car already pre-cut.  It took a lot of sanding and paint and whatever else is done to get a car ready for a derby, but Wyatt's was looking pretty spiffy.

There were probably 12 boys at the competition and...

drum roll....

WYATT WON!  His car went undefeated and even beat Elliott in a head to head race.

Elliott took 4th.

Cub scouts makes me tired. But, hopefully Wyatt won't lose his car between now and next year's derby and we can use it again.




Saturday, September 23, 2017

New Cousin :: Baby Brady

On September 21, we got a new cousin.

Brady Hendricks Binggeli was born.

We didn't visit him in the hospital because, even for something happy, hospitals oog me out and I didn't want to go traipsing around with three dirty boys.  Instead, we waited to meet the little squirt when he arrived home.

There is just something "heavenly" about tiny new little squirts fresh from heaven.  They smell good and are so soft.  Elliott is pretty much a baby whisperer and really loves holding tiny people.  Wyatt was nervous, but did a great job.  Quinn was pretty indifferent - he wants to be close and is fascinated by such tiny creatures, but doesn't really want anything to do with them because, did you know, babies pee and poop in diapers?  That's just gross.

He's cute.  We like him a lot.  Now Grandpa Karl has his starting 5 for basketball.  Molly can keep score on the sidelines (not because she's a girl, but because she probably doesn't want to play and keeping score, and stats, is a noble calling).




Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Quinn turns FIVE

On Saturday, September 2, 2017, Quinn Theodore Howden turned five years old.  This milestone was marked by a day of parties - a kid party with the primary class and cousin Jack, dinner at Mt. Mike's and a family party with cake and ice cream.  Then, just to keep the celebration going, we ended up going on a quick Labor Day overnight adventure.


Oh Quinner!

Happy happy birthday to you.  There isn't much more fun (and annoying) than watching a 4 year old wait for his 5 year old birthday to come.  We've been talking about it for MONTHS.  You are convinced that getting one year older means that you will be bigger than everyone and that you can drive a car.

Well, you might be wrong on both counts, but you are bigger than cousin Jack, almost bigger than cousins Luke and Jonah, bigger than all the kids in your primary class and your preschool class so maybe you are kind of right.

Having you in our family is the most fun.  Sometimes, you drive us a wee bit nuts, but I think that you make us all laugh much more often.  You love music and know the lyrics to every song on the radio, including most of the Beatles songs we listen to on the Beatles station on XM radio.  You are a great dancer, joke teller, and pizza eater.  You love to ask questions, do science experiments and watch TV.  Aw man, the TV watching is a total addiction and as your mom, I can only watch so many episodes of Spongebob, Teen Titans Go!, and Gumball, but TV seems to be your passion in life.  Of course, you'll take a break to play on your kindle, but screen time is screen time - it's something we are always working on finding alternative activities for.

A few of your 5 year old favorites:
Food: Pizza
Song: Hand Clap by Fitz and the Tantrums
Movie: Jurassic World
Color: Red and Green
Person: Grandma Judy and Uncle Willie
TV Show: Sponge Bob, Be Cool Scooby Doo

Last week, as we were talking about your birthday, you asked me if Grandpa Huber was bigger than me.  I told you no, that I was bigger than him but you got mad and said, "But he's 88!  He is way bigger than you!" Obviously, there is some confusion about age and size and how they relate.  Your next question was, "How big is the earth?"  We had to ask Google for an accurate answer.


When I got you out of the bathtub last week, and was drying you off, you panicked and yelled at me as I was drying off your legs, "Mom, don't touch my Nacho!"  After asking for further details as to what a Nacho is, and seeing some pointing and giggling from you, none of us have any idea what you are talking about, but it's obviously private and we have adopted "Don't touch my nacho!" as a phrase for all sorts of things the last few days.  And, you really must be growing up because you finally recognize the difference between being laughed at and laughed with.  You realized this was funny, and haven't attacked any of us (yet) for laughing with you!


I feel so lucky that you are my little buddy.  We have great conversations, you like to go to Target and run errands with me, and you really are the most easy going laid back kid around.  You are thriving in school, at primary, and playing soccer.  You think you are a big kid, as big as your brothers and this summer, when we were at Universal Studios and Sea World, you walked the entire time, never complaining, asking to be carried, or being grumpy about how tired your little legs were.  If that doesn't mean that you are growing up, I'm not sure what does.


Love you so much little squish - so glad you had a great birthday.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

And just like that, they are back to school!


We had a pretty good summer.  Actually, all things considered, we had a great summer.

A few of the things we did:
go on a vacation
go to california
go on a hike
walk around silver lake
attend a rodeo
take swimming lessons
take tennis lessons
swim at great grandpa's
play in soccer tournaments
light fireworks
go to a REAL soccer game
movies in the theater
grandma camp
hang out with uncle willie
go to the zoo
watch a total eclipse
lunch at waffle love

See, not such a bad list.

The boys school is starting on a traditional schedule this year which meant we got 7 uninterrupted weeks of summer vacation.  The first four were great, the last three we struggled now and again.  I have however made a mental note that next year, we've got to have something to get us up and going every week (lessons, activities, etc.) because some of the dog days of August drug on pretty long.

But, the boys got along so well with each other.  I was just really happy.  There is such nostalgia in my mind for summer vacations - I really hope that when my kids are older, they cherish their summers like I did mine.

That being said, today was the first day of school.  Elliott started 5th grade, Wyatt 3rd grade and Quinn his third and final year of preschool.  It's nice to be sitting in a totally quiet house, but I already miss my 3 amigos.  Maybe that's a movie they are old enough to watch?  Ha!

The boys have each grown up so much, both literally taller and more mature since the beginning of the last school year.  It's hard for me to watch Elliott grow up, because he's the first and that kid and I just click these days.  I always hope that he is my buddy and my friend and my helper.  Wyatt?  I will worry about Wyatt until the day I die, and then worry in heaven some more.  But, like his dad says, Wyatt is a smooth kid, he's lucky and charismatic and makes good decisions.  Even if he has a life threatening allergy to peanuts.  And Quinn, he turns FIVE next week.  He has informed me that he is no longer my "little squish" and that he will commence growing up.

Where is Peter Pan, Never land and the lost boys when I need them in real life?  I need to freeze time a little bit.  Things are so fast-paced for us these days.  So many places to go and things to do, no wonder we all sleep so well at night.  Ross and I have talked at length about how, right now, we are in a sweet spot with our family and oh, is it sweet.  We have our disagreements and occasional tantrums (parents included), but life is good and we are happy.

I love these boys so much. I wish they'd slow down a bit, but they won't and I'd better just learn to keep up.




Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Total eclipse of the heart...I mean sun

For about an hour yesterday, I had all my boys at a park by the library staring up at the sun, watching it be eclipsed by the moon.

Did I play "Total eclipse of the heart" very loud and sing it to my children and husband?

Yes, yes I did.

From our location, it got darker.  We weren't in the "path of totality" and got about 90% shade, but we went from full sun and heat to dusk and 15 degrees cooler.  I totally wish that we would have been the family that drove to see the eclipse.  But, maybe we can do it in 2024.

The boys thought it was cool, when they weren't wrestling and crotch grabbing and rolling down the hill at the park.  Mostly, I think they paid attention only because I told them that we'd get lunch after.  So, thanks, In and Out!





Wednesday, August 09, 2017

We went to California, Part 3


Well, since the trip had included an event for Ross (soccer), for the big boys (Harry Potter) we figured we'd better do something just for Quinn.  That meant on our last full day of vacation, we would drive to San Diego (and get there faster than it took us to get to Universal) and take Quinn to Sea World.

We'd been watching Sea World commercials on TV for a while, and Quinn seemed pretty into it, but he was so excited once we got there.  He got a map, and we let him direct the day - wherever Quinn wanted to go we went.  We started with the dolphin show, then crossed the park to the penguins and arctic animals, then crossed the park again to the seals and sea lions.  He had us marching back and forth all day long.  We walked more at Sea World than the previous day at Universal Studios.  Phew!

There were some definite highlights of the day.  In no particular order:
Walrus are insanely huge and gigantic animals and it was fun to see one so close.


The boys fed sea lions - they touched dead fish and Elliott had a fish stolen out of his hand from a very daring bird.



We saw a sea lion, killer whale, dolphin and sea turtle poop in the water.  Always a highlight of any boy experience.

Quinn grinned ear to ear the entire Orca show.  Killer whales are amazing majestic animals.  They were my favorite.  I could have sat and watched them swim all day long.




Ross and the big boys rode the big rides - getting soaking wet on one of them and Quinn thought it was pretty funny that his dad looked like he'd pee'd his pants.


The boys touched horseshoe crabs, small sharks and other sea creatures.

The sea lion show was fun and the boys saw baby hammerhead sharks.

One thing that I thought was pretty cool at Sea World had nothing to do with aquatic creatures.  If you buy a souvenir cup at the park, you can refill it for free at any self-serve food kiosk for the entire day.  We bought two $12 souvenir cups (with lids and straws) and easily filled each of them 10 times.  That was a bargain!

San Diego is a great town.  The weather was a perfect 73 all day.  The park wasn't too crowded and the lines for attractions weren't too long.  Sea World is really a great way to spend a day.


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