Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to School (Nearly Wordless Wednesday)

It's going to be a little bit interesting at our house this year.  With seven kids in three different schools, one in preschool, and a toddler, we certainly get the full range of parenting experiences!  We have a ninth-grader, a seventh-grader, a fifth-grader, two fourth-graders, a first-grader, and a kindergartner (love that age, don't love the shuffle right in the middle of the day to get them to school)

Most interesting of all for us is that this year, our twins will be at two different schools.  Lots of thought and discussion went into that, but when it came for the final decision, it was really their own choice, and kind of a surprising one at that.  They've been in separate classes for second and third grade, so that part's been done before.  But different schools?  I'll let you know how it goes.

I do feel blessed my kids have so many good educational choices in our town. 

Here's our first wave -- the kids who started last week:

Michael's thrilled -- can you tell?




And all four together:

And the ones who started this week:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer 2013

This summer has been a whirlwind. We've been busy but pretty organized. We've been under construction, on vacation, and making memories. Here are a few of the highlights:


We were under construction for about 5 weeks at the beginning of the summer.  We'd been hoping to refinance our house while rates were low, but the bank came back and told us we had to finish our attic "bonus" space in order to qualify for what we needed.  So . . . with six weeks to finish, we somehow got the contractors lined up, did a ton of the work ourselves to move things along (especially electrical -- we owe a huge debt to our neighbor who helped us out a ton), and dealt with drywall dust and debris everywhere.  But we felt incredibly blessed when we finished on time and were able to close on a no-fees, 15-year loan for less than 3.5%.  We felt especially blessed because while the construction was going on, rates went up a full point.  Tender mercies, folks.

Michael's favorite spot is this closet, which we've allowed him to fill with his Legos, giving him a place where the little girls can't destroy what he creates:


We had just one family trip planned, to Park City at the beginning of the summer.  Since it's only 45 minutes from home, however, and construction was thrust upon us, the trip ended up being more of a "mommy trip" while my husband stayed home, worked, and dealt with contractors.  Still, we had fun hiking and crafting and even driving to Salt Lake to visit the zoo one day.

In July, the world-famous Daddy Trip took place, with DH bringing six kids (Lillian, Michael, Allison, Sarah, Eliza, and Harmony), leaving me with "just" three (Joey, Katie, and Cami).  While they were gone, my family had a reunion and I got to see some of my siblings I haven't seen in years.  Joey was awesome and helpful and enjoyed the quiet time.  He spent nearly every day fishing.

Meanwhile, DH and the kids swung through Reno and into San Francisco for their amazing adventures.  They went to Fisherman's Wharf, Angel Island, the JellyBelly Factory, and Chinatown (My husband commented, "Give a kid $3 to spend in Chinatown, and they think they are in heaven").  They finished with a stay in Lake Tahoe, where they swam and played and even rented jet-skis.

If you know our family, you'd not be surprised to hear there's been a lot of bug- and snake-catching going on this summer, along with two baby birds.

We've done a lot of hosting, particularly in July, when my brother brought his family, my cousin brought hers, and my husband's cousin brought hers.  We LOVE having visitors and my kids loved getting to know cousins.


We've been hiking several times

We've played outside a ton.

Cami loves to push the others on their wiggle cars.  She also loves to go for walks herself, and she's had no shortage of brothers and sisters willing to take her out in her stroller.
We've roasted s'mores with friends several times.

I took six little girls to the zoo:
 (and actually made it into a picture!)

 We got passes to our rec center and went there a ton.
 And there's been plenty of pretend play going on at our house, such as this wedding Sarah set up:

We watched this corn plant, which started as a little seed in a paper cup germinating on the window of Harmony's preschool, grow into an enormous plant given prime real estate in our rose garden:

We decided that since we almost never drove our big van (only on trips -- we take two cars almost everywhere else the whole family has to be at), we would sell it and give being a two-vehicle family a try.  It's a bit bittersweet to say goodbye to Clifford, our big red van.  We bought it back before Harmony was born, five years ago.  It's seen us through many a trip and . . .
 . . .well, Allison and Sarah carved their names into the side of it with a rock when they were four years old, so how can you say goodbye to that?

We're going to see how we do the next six months with just two cars (my Toyota Sienna can seat 8, DH's Highlander seats 7) and revisit the big van question again at the end of the year.  We may find we don't miss it.

I've been shooting more regularly and loving it.  I got a new zoom lens I've had my eye on for years and I love it!  I should update my photography blog sometime and probably do more to promote myself, but mostly, I do this to have a creative outlet.  For the next two months, I'm doing free sessions for anyone who donates generously to our ward's mission fund. People outside our ward are eligible, but the donation has to go to our ward. 

This summer, I've done two extended families . . .

a newborn . . .
a couple of families . . .

and of course, my girls (my boys would be fun, too, but they don't seem as anxious to get their picture taken) . . .

I ran the Utah Valley Half Marathon at the beginning of the summer, the Ragnar Wasatch Back in late June, and I finished up my summer running with another half marathon last Saturday -- the Hobble Creek Half.  It was a great race.  I didn't feel quite as prepared.  My weekly mileage had dipped from about 25 miles a week in the spring to about 20 miles a week this summer, and I hadn't gone as long on my long runs as I had in the past.  I got up to 14 miles before my first half, but this time, I just did 3 ten-milers.  I definitely felt the difference.  Those last few miles were tough, and the rolling hills as we came out of the canyon were hard on me.  But I ran the whole way and finished within a few minutes of my PR from June -- 2:20:13.  My knee has been giving me a few problems on some of my long runs and it happened again during the half, though not so painful I couldn't run on it.  I'm debating whether to do one more half (Snow Canyon in early November) or to stick to 10Ks for a while.

At the beginning of the race:
 and at the end, shining with sweat:


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