Sunday, July 31, 2016

End of July

A humongous Thank You to Mom and Dad who provided an entire evening of fun for me. We attended The Piano Guys concert at the Portland Zoo. Shannon and her husband were there with her inlaws as well, so that was an extra perk. I LOVED the concert. They are even better live than online: so funny, so entertaining.

The elephant enclosure comes around right next to the concert area.

 What a goofball

(Credit to Dad for the following pictures - I'm including them because his turned out great and mine not so)

 Last week Underwater Audio held their company picnic. That was lots of fun too! The main event was bubble soccer which Brennan and Asher were SO pleased they got play. In fact, as we alternated between adults-only and kids-only matches, my boys played at every single opportunity and I don't think any adults did that! Most of us gave it one or two gos. On a less hot day (and if I were in better shoes) it would be amazing.

One of Brennan's techniques was to sit and lean (so he could see out the top instead of through the bubble) blocking the goal.

 I may not have a lot of soccer experience, but I can charge someone like nobody's business! ;-) I knocked over my boss (the son) several times, one time pretty good apparently. I ended up with my feet in the air myself at one point.

I learned that evening that Asher, Hollyn, and Kieran put together make a pretty equal see-saw match.

Hollyn enjoyed her Parks and Rec ballet/tap classes. I wouldn't say she's a natural, but she sure had fun. And during free dance time she TOTALLY rocks it. She and Kieran hear music and MUST dance.

This is such a typical Hollyn face

 So's this one

One Friday while at work I decided: let's go camping tonight! My friend Angeli was alone with her kids too with Kenyon on a Scouts backpacking trip, so I invited her and theirs to come camp with us too. After getting all ready, we headed to Richardson Park bordering Fern Ridge (Eugene). We arrived to find out that the campground was full. :-( Boo. We were SO disappointed after getting all jazzed about camping.

We played in the lake a little; in the mean time Angeli invited us to come camp in their backyard. So we took her up on that and enjoyed a wonderful evening roasting our hotdogs and starbursts over their firepit and sleeping in the tent on their back lawn.

Today we stayed after church for a Ward Social - which was as LEAST as much fun as an elaborate, planned, decorated Ward party, with much less of the work. ;-) Anyway, Kieran was one of the little people running his heart out around the gym. And I mean that almost literally. He turned redder than a tomato and developed pretty bad asthma. He got grouchy for a bit in a way that reminded me of Asher's low-oxygen symptoms when he goes delirious with anxiety and anger. But as we left for home Kieran was in good spirits, realizing that he could do a really funny sounding harr harr laugh. ;-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Some July Pics

I often find him sleeping on the floor, even though he is alone in a room with TWO beds! This morning I had to smile though, with his thumb tucked into his shirt, his blankey wrapped around himself, and his flamingo leg, lol

Time for swimming lessons! I'm trying out an Underwater Audio product called Aquaguard which protects one's hair from the harmful pool chemicals. So far it's a hit!

"Take a picture of my tap shoes, Mom!" She is enjoying her ballet/tap class

Me 'n' my Beehives and MiaMaids heading off to camp. Look how clean we look!

One of our secret sister gifts: a homemade pinwheel (that sadly doesn't spin. :-( ,) a pack of gum and some bubbles. I created the little note which reads "I'm POPsitively Blown Away by your Awesomeness!" I kind of liked how it turned out.

Another secret sister gift: these super cute button bracelets. The note says "Brace Yourself for a great week at camp!"

Not gonna lie, these YW Camp Pillow Treats (which us leaders gave to our girls) kind of won  pillow treating. Our theme for camp was The Wizard of Oz, and these red slippers, filled with candy and attached with a feel-good quote turned out pretty good!

For some reason Kieran really likes this book about the boy coloring on the wall ;-)

Look who we found in the floral section of Safeway!

Hollyn likes to pretend to be asleep lately. In this one you can see the slight smile that she's holding back because she knows seconds before she had me good and fooled. Little turkey.
 Fourth of July playground fun

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Does anyone else have this fault - they spend more time planning and creating things for routines and structure than they do actually implementing said routines and structure? That is SO me. I can't name how many different chore charts and check-lists and earn-it-back-baskets and before-screen-times and practice charts and whatnot I've made over the years. Every school year start I create some form of routine/schedule/calendar for the kids, whether a framed list behind glass for checking things off or a booklet or poster - I've even made (covered) chalk-board place-mat calendars. Total fail in that case. Sometime through the year I try again with a new or updated idea. Then summer comes and I create something to get us through summer routines.

I spend HOURS creating pretty-but-functional things like this, but the implementing tends to fall by the wayside. (Incidentally one thing I LOVE about my job is that I get to do the creating, such as our weekly newsletter I get to format, write-up, prettify, etc. And then I don't have to do any follow-thru on what's actually written, I just make another one the next week :-) I'm in heaven, lol)  Anyway, the point for me really isn't in creating something random, it's in the hope that I've finally THE system that will work at least for a while. I keep trying to create the most functional system for us.

Here's the latest. I'm kinda proud of it because it covers so many staples in one spot. We used something similar during the school year - notebook style with lists for checking off when homework and piano and jobs were done. And I sometimes printed calendars and tucked them inside but THIS notebook is an upgrade. I mean, it's laminated for crying out loud. My $12 black friday laminator is basically my new best friend, btw. That and my label maker. ;-)

First, some random search online before summer break led me to this chore checklist by Educents that breaks down how the child is supposed to actually DO the chore. Like, step one: gather all the items on the floor into a pile... etc. With pictures to boot! At first I was hesitant to spend any $ on a chore chart, but ultimately decided it'd take me way too long to try to recreate their already awesome one, and I felt like I really needed to offer the kids instructions if I was going to ask them to step-up their chore responsibilities. It was totally worth it. Now, I know this is cheating, but since I purchased the downloaded version and not the hard-copy, I'm happy to share it w/ any sisters who are interested. I didn't print every page, just the main ones.

So I laminated those instructions and once we finally got Cub Camp and Manufacturing camp out the way and had, like, one whole "regular" week of summer so far, we started our routine. Among other things, the boys had a main chore or two to complete while I was at work. I'm actually better at implementing the routines from work, as I talk to them over the monitor. I get too distracted at home and struggle to follow through. Anyway, that was working pretty well to have those instructional sheets, but we still needed more. I needed an actual written set of expectations besides the chores. So this is what I spent my Saturday working on. I couldn't find *the perfect* before-screen-time chart/schedule so I gave in and created my own. I started with just a double-sided version in each boy's notebook, but to save so much re-writing, I think I'll go ahead and print enough for Mon-Sat, probably do sheet-protector style so I can type in the routines and switch them when school starts. Also, gonna add a piano practice chart, maybe some other stuff. Anyway, behold, the SUMMER PLANNER:

Before any screen time, the boys have to complete certain tasks, but once they're completed they can have unlimited screen time until I get home. Then, after I've gotten home from work, they have additional tasks before they have more screen time, including outside time watching their younger siblings, creative play, reading time, etc..Besides the list of before-screen items, the page I created  also includes WHAT that day's chore is, as well as an agenda for plans and appointments happening that day.

Once they see what the daily chore is, they can find the instructions within this notebook. The best one is for how to clean the kitchen (start at one end of the counter and gather all the dishes, moving around the kitchen. Then do the same, collecting any trash, etc. I LOVE that one - I think I need to use it, lol.)

 Brennan and Asher each have their own notebook, pretty much identical except one has the Living room instructions, and the other the Kitchen instructions. I found these interesting presentation portfolios on Amazon that hold 3-hole-punched papers AND lay flat which is pretty cool. I already own some ultra-fine-tip wet-erase and some fine-tip dry-erase markers for use in these. Pretty fun. I'm definitely more excited about these than Brennan and Asher, but I did manage to get them to appreciate the awesomeness of them in some respects. ;-)

Now, they'll be at babysitter's on Monday and Tuesday, but I'm excited to get some housework out of them on Wednesday at least!