Sunday, August 26, 2012

Meet Professor McSmarty-Pants

At long last the gig is up and one of our kids needs glasses.

In reflection, I can't believe we've made it this long without a kid getting glasses. It's so surprising (given Scott's bad vision and my near-blindness) that I panicked a little and intensely quizzed Emma and Ben on how well they can see things...the board at school, the tv, the leaves on the trees? Both report no problems. Whew.

Josh's problem came to light during the last week of summer. He was on the couch reading when I wanted him to see something on the tv, "Hey Josh, check that out," I said. I watched his face as he turned it toward the screen and immediately squinted.

20/50, says the eye doc.

I had pretty much the best time ever watching him try on all the different frames. The very first ones he picked up were a large, round Harry-Potter-esque pair. "Yeah, let's get these." I persuaded him into trying on, you know, more than one pair before making a decision. In the end he probably tried on close to twenty, and came home with a winner.

The number one thing he notices and is glad he can see now is clocks.

He loves them. He is anxious for people to notice them. He looks so smart when he does spelling homework with them on.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Have you seen this??

Have you? It's incredible. It's a year old but I just now heard about it (source: kids' elementary school art teacher) and I can't stop geeking out.

Francois Abelanet is Ben's new favorite artist.

Try this link too if you want to see it more artfully filmed/soundtracked...can only watch it on youtube though.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Swim team - end of season party

Love that swim team. It might be my favorite sport that the kids do. I hear a lot of parents complaining about how long the meets are, but by golly--they're so much fun. It's exciting to see your kids in head-to-head competition. It's satisfying to see how much they progress in skill and confidence over the summer. It helps that we're related to or good friends with most of the team too. One big party.

Speaking of big parties, we ended the season with a carnival. 

Coach Brianne .3 seconds before falling
Ben got in on the fun too.

Speaking of Ben, he especially had a great season. More blue ribbons than he's ever had before and he worked really hard for them. He asked to be put in the IM for every meet, the event that most swimmers whine and complain about. And he rocked it. Coach Ben gave him the hardest worker award at the party. It was awesome. Go swim team.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What else did we do this summer?

We read.
A lot.
The boys plowed through the Warriors series, some Lord of the Rings, along with a few other short ones. Emma and I read a couple by Gary Schmidt that we both loved.
For those who like bragging: Lydia was up to reading on level O by the end of kindergarten...that's 3rd grade stuff. The book she's reading in the photo is waaaaay beneath her.

Speaking of smarty-pants, Afton learned how to write her name.

One night we packed up the bikes and scooters and headed to Safety City for some miniature traffic fun.

Poptropica was the website of choice.

There were only one or two asthma flare-ups.

The boys took Emma down.

Emma made some Harry Potter wands.

At the father-son campout they shot off these 2-liter rocket things.

Scott's work had take-your-kids-to-work day. Ben and Josh attended, but Emma was booked for a babysitting gig that day.

I can't remember this lady's name (Joni?), but she has a show on DIY Network and hung out with the kids for part of the day.

That's pretty much it. That and swim team, which I never did get any good photos of. I do have some of the end of season party though, so stay tuned. (Plus first day of school stuff. Boo.)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Making a zombie movie

The triplets spent a couple of days with us while Lisa and David helped out at youth conference this year. The kids decided to make a zombie movie. I love creative endeavors like this, they did they entire thing by themselves...all I did was give permission to cut up an old shirt. They worked on it pretty much for an entire day: hair and makeup, filming with a quick break for lunch, editing, and done. I took some photos of them in the process and then got to see the final product after dinner that evening.

Undead, but happy

Not a zombie, or even in the movie, but wanted to get
her face painted too.

The scientist

Makeup artists

The detective. With a sword.

Zombies break for lunch.

The finished project:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to pack for a 2 1/2 week road trip for a family of seven

So, this handy packing advice isn't that well-timed, what with summer about to end and all...but I struck gold in the packing department and wanted to share the wealth.

Remember that really long trip we took? Yeah, that's the one. Packing was tricky.
1. There are a lot of us.
2. We were going to be gone for a long time.
3. We were going to hit a wide variety of temperatures...up to the 90s in New Mexico and down to the 50s in California.
4. We had to fit everything in the trunk of the van.

I decided early on to consolidate all of the kids' clothes into one big suitcase to save space. Emma complained a little about all the younger kids rummaging through her stuff to get to theirs and I realized she was right. No matter how nice and neat I folded and stacked or even rolled up their clothes and organized them all in the suitcase, they would all be constantly digging through to find what they need. Everything was going to end up as a giant swirling mass of messiness. No one would be able to find what they were looking for and I would slowly go crazy.

I had heard of the idea of using gallon-sized ziplock bags--putting one entire outfit in each bag. That was good in theory, but it wouldn't work for us. It didn't make sense to bring a whole new outfit for every day--the trip was too long and the weather too varied. We needed to mix and match and do laundry along the way. Then: inspiration.

Ziplock bags for every category of clothing. Girls' long-sleeves, girls' short-sleeves. Boys' shorts. Ben's pants. Emma's church clothes. Socks and underwear. Etc, etc...whatever fit comfortably into a gallon bag, or a 2.5 gallon bag for some of the older kids' stuff. Squeeze the air out when you close it and it's vacuum sealed! All the clothes for all five kids fit easily into one big suitcase. And when the kids had to rummage through it to find what they were after, no problem. Everything was still tidily in its bag. Organized. And that, friends, went a long way in making our odyssey a success.

Bonus: this was our essentials box that went accessibly under the backseat of the van. It proved valuable over and over again. A handful of trashbags (we had about 1 million grocery bags elsewhere), full container of wipes (great for sticky fingers), full-sized towel just in case (if someone puked, if we got wet in a rainstorm, whatever), paper towels, toilet paper, clorox wipes. Don't leave on a 5300 mile road trip without it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

At the pool (you know, the big one)

Thanks for inviting us to crash your neighborhood pool, Sextons.


Absolutely sure she doesn't want to swim by herself.

Showing off swimming with Baby Pink.


Fun with water.