Monday, November 11, 2013

My Guys

 What starts out as a simple dish washing partnership . . . 

. . . can so quickly turn.

Not sure what he was doing with the Nestle Quik container.

I love moments like this.

And this.

And this.

And this.

And seeing them doing cool things.

They have a great example.

Even when he doesn't want me to take pictures for proof.  :)

But those things lead to incredible pictures like this, probably my new favorite.

I sure love all my guys.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

August Zoo Day

Adam has stopped being compliant when I'm trying to take fun pictures of the kids.

But hey, I got his back!


They have a new water area put in this summer, but since we don't like fighting the crowds during that busy season, we didn't have any idea.  The kids had a blast with the jumping water fountain.

Sam was the best at catching it right in the chest.

And the face.

The little girls spent most of their time on the slide and tip toeing through a little wading area.

And yay!  I was officially there!  :)

Dice, Biking, Walking, School, and such

I was chastised in a roundabout way the other day for not keeping this updated, so here's a few latest.

Rolling the Dice
You'd think with a 12 passenger van, 8 people could find seats they were happy with.  You'd think.  After a brief honeymoon of seat happiness, it got to the point that the coveted seat was the one right behind the front passenger (closest to the door for the kids in back to get out).  Since it was always the same one or two that ended up getting it and that always involved arguing, I declared that they would have to ask for special permission to sit there so others would get the chance.  Apparently this seat is so important, that after a much longer time of that working, I would have people (the same couple that were always fighting in the first place), racing each other to ask me, sometimes 20 minutes before the bus was even leaving.  I know I should be understanding, but is the place you occupy for 3 minutes to church so important that you have to think that far ahead to try to secure prime real estate?  They were (usually) fine when I told them it was someone else's turn, but in a moment of frustration (and cleverness), I changed methods.  I found a 12-sided dice in my dice stash, assigned a number to most seats (driver, front passenger, and Madeleine's car seat spot don't count), and they roll the dice and sit where it tells them.  And so far so good!  We'll see how long this one lasts.  It's been a couple months, and I really like it.  Funny, though.  The one who still stresses about it the most first thought it would be best to roll first, but now goes to the end of the line.  Again, probably my mistake, but I've been known to allow the last person to spread things out instead of having four people packed on the back seat when the other two benches are almost empty.  He picked up on it very quickly.

Madeleine and the Baby
A couple weeks ago Madeleine was sitting next to be when the baby really started moving, to the break dancing belly point.  I pointed and asked her if she could see the baby moving in my tummy.  She looked over and grinned.  She would hug and kiss my tummy before then, but now it's even more.  One day after she kissed it, she put her hand on the back of my head, told me to kiss the baby, and pushed.  I challenge you to kiss your tummy, even 7 1/2 months pregnant when it's closer than normal.

Adam is positively rocking his BYU-I concurrent enrollment classes.  He's gone from telling me two classes plus everything else he's doing is way too much, to really enjoying all that he's learning.  I encouraged him to go easy this first semester, so he's taking an English class and American Foundations.  He's gotten a lot of great feedback on his English assignments, and the A.F. class has been connecting well with things we're studying in our homeschool group.  It's been fun hearing what he's learning, and he's been a blessing to our class by sharing it.  I can definitely see the effects our homeschooling has had on him too.  It's not something he's doing just to get the grade and move on like I know I did, but really thinking through and internalizing the material.  While I've been working on this he's been watching a video for a class, and when I asked him about it, I got a whole lot of response, not just from the video, but his own thoughts too.  Love it.

50 Mile Bike Ride
Sammy did a 50 mile bike ride a couple weekends ago with some of the other scouts.  It took most of the day, and 10 miles away from the finish he got two flat tires, one that had been fixed over and over already, and had to pull out.  But he and Adam rode around the neighborhood later that evening to finish the last 10.  He was pretty beat, but he did it!

This picture was showing off his cool bike helmet hair.

We drove out to the ranch at Antelope Island to have lunch with Jamie who was driving as part of the support team, and when my parents heard we were headed out there, they called and asked if we had room for them.  The girls and I had fun with them out there, although we didn't really see Jamie much.  Support team was a busy job.

Walking and Walking
Jamie and I have both been walking a lot lately.  He got a free FitBit through work but wanted one with more features, so he bought himself a better one and gave me the free one.  It's pretty fun to track and compare your daily step count with friends, and is definitely a motivator to get out when you see someone is just a couple thousand steps away from you.  My time and preggo body don't get me out as much as Jamie, (he has goals he's working on to be in weekly contests through work), but my preggo body hasn't had some of the normal achiness that it has with other pregnancies.

On Fridays during choir Madeleine and I will walk to a nearby park so she can play there for a while.  When Erin and Carolyn are done and we're waiting for the big kids to finish, we'll walk back to the church and get them, and let them all play together while I walk around the outside of the playground.  There are some great climbing trees there too.

Melanie is loving young women's.  She has great leaders there and is working away at her personal progress.  She's also taken on some of our harder homeschool classes, including an art and lit class.  I wasn't sure if she would be ready for it, but she's been keeping up with the assignments really well.  Awesome to have my 12 year old reading things like Cyrano de Bergerac and Henry V.  Definitely a lot different than what I was reading in 7th grade.

Just Overheard Madeleine saying in that sing-song tattletale voice, "Adam just put me in the garbage."  Followed by lots of giggling from Sammy and Melanie.  Just after that he was putting her somewhere (apparently on a shelf in the closet) and I heard her say, "Adam, I'm going to fall all the way down."  After he got her down, she told him, "Adam, that wasn't a good idea."  Woe is me.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Awesome Adventures

(Just found most of this in my drafts.  Oops! Finished it up to post.)

Adam had a great summer working at camp again and serving as an NYLT senior patrol leader for a week (I need to get on writing about those).

But since he's been home he's had some much more extreme adventures.  My brother and brother-in-law have been training to do the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim-to-rim, and they invited Adam to join them in some prep hikes.

A few weeks ago they did 21.6 miles to Ben Lomond Peak in 7 1/2 hours.

On the way up they saw a herd of mountain goats (those little white things).

And here they are at the top!

Adam is a tough kid, so it was pretty telling to me when he walked in the door and flopped on the couch.

Over Labor Day weekend they took on King's Peak.  The plan was to leave at 3am, arrive at the area at 6am, and get on the trail.  They figured they would get home sometime between 9 and 10pm.  Jamie offered to drive them so the extreme hikers could get more rest and be safer, especially on their way home after they would be so completely worn out.

Here's a picture from along the way:

A view getting close to the top - about 1100 feet to go!

I couldn't find one from the top, but if I do, I'll get it added.

For a class Adam is taking he had to create a "This I Believe" statement and from that, create a video/slideshow.  Since it totally fits with this, here it is.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


I was attempting to repent of one of my many delinquent wifely duties this morning by ironing Jamie's white shirts (case in point - I don't even own an ironing board.  Got rid of it several years ago because it was just something else hanging around here).

Madeleine walked in and started watching me.  "What are you doing, mommy?"  She thought it was funny to touch the fabric after I had run the iron over it.  She was surprised when I squirted it, then offered to help with that.  She kept asking about what I was doing, and I guess in my concentration to do a decent job (this is not one of my talents), I wasn't providing her good enough answers.  Finally in utter confusion she asked,

"What the heck is going on here!?!"

Three year olds are so fun.

A bit before then she was talking to Jamie about different little scabs on her legs.  He pointed out a bruise and asked her how she got it.  "That's a rock stain."  Yes, she's still a rock lover, so I guess it was a pretty good answer.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Learning to Read

It's been really interesting teaching my kiddos to read.  Since the boys were in school through the early grades, I could rely more on the teachers to do their thing and supplement a lot at home.  Both were reading really well coming out of kindergarten because they had an incredible teacher and again, me at home.

The amazing kindergarten teacher moved to Australia of all places, so Melanie had a different teacher.  She didn't do much with reading at all, she walking into first grade she wasn't reading much at all.  That was the year we started homeschooling.  Melanie chose to go to school, but after the first couple weeks, when she came home from school begged me daily to homeschool.  I made her do that for two weeks, and let her know that she wouldn't be bouncing in and out.  If she was coming home, she was home for the year.  She agreed, and we took her out.

It took her longer to get reading to click, but as I've found with each of the girls, all it takes is the right book at the right time and they're hooked.

For Melanie, it was "Adventures with Arnold Lobel" (my favorite story is in the Mouse Tales section called "The Journey").  When she discovered that, she read it over and over and I never had to work with her on reading again.  That girl always has a book or her kindle in her hand.

Carolyn has struggled even longer.  The patterns weren't clicking, and she fought with the same words even after she had read them and written them multiple times.  A few weeks ago I noticed the book "Jack and Janet" at my parents' house, and asked if I could borrow it to see if she would be interested.  Once she got started, she dug right in and would go hide for an hour working through the stories.  Hooray!  The magic book!  Wanting it to continue, I went online and researched other books in the series, ordered the next two plus one a few books earlier for Erin (who has been picking up reading pretty easily).  While Carolyn has been waiting for the next one to arrive, she took over "Adventures with Arnold Lobel" and finished that one the day before "Up and Away" arrived.  She is now happily working her way through that one and doing really well.  I still think there may be dyslexia or something else there, but it's so wonderful that things are clicking for her.

When the easier one, "Tip and Mitten," arrived for Erin yesterday, I told her we could check and see if she was ready for it.  Before I could sit down with her, she parked herself and read the first two pages.  Super proud of herself, she read them to me.  Same story as Carolyn, she's been hiding herself away working her way through the book.  I've had her read portions here and there, and she's doing fabulous.  While I was ordering the book between that and "Jack and Janet," she walked in to tell me she's done, and asked if she could read it again.  Of course!

These older learning-to-read books are actually really good ones.  The stories are so sweet - most based around a family and the situations they run into together.

Favorite Little Books

(Started this a long time ago, but left it to see if I would think of any more.  Haven't spent much time thinking about it since, so it must be time to just post.)

When they kids were little they all had their own specific favorite books that we had to read over and over.

With Adam it was anything with animals, especially horse books.  He beat up The Field Guide to Cows (simple but clever title when you think about it).  And oh, the police, fireman, and ambulance books.  Over and over and over.

There are a surprising number of books with a Sam in them.  Besides the regular fun, that's partially why Sammy enjoyed Green Eggs and Ham so much.  We also read anything trains.  Thomas the Tank Engine was his ultimate favorite, but anything with trains was good.  I remember reading Taking a Trip on my Train a lot.  Sammy and the Dinosaurs (though it's now Harry and the Bucketful of Dinosaurs - why?) was great because not only does it have a Sammy, but it also has dinosaurs AND trains.  Cute cute story, too.

I read Where the Wild Things Are and Corduroy to the boys a LOT.  The girls never latched on to those very much.

Melanie started the girl round of books, and that has continued through the others.  Anything princess.  We would search for princess book after princess book at the library.  Melanie still loves princess books - anything Shannon Hale, anything Gail Carson Levine.

Carolyn - My monkey outdoorsy girl, she loves reading about Jane Goodall (Me . . . Jane is probably my most favorite favorite picture book biography I've ever read.  The ending is perfect, gets me every time.)  She also loved reading Girls Who Looked Under Rocks with me.

Jamie bought Erin The Enchanted Stables for her birthday one year.  She's a daddy's girl, so that was a favorite for a long time.

Madeleine loved the Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? books, which are surprisingly educational.  Funny when a 1 year old talks about whooping cranes.  We read those and Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb more for her than any of the others.  She also loves Old Hat, New Hat.

Some of the girls' favorite books include Big Sister, Little Sister, Tough Chicks, and Princesses Are Not Quitters. They all love to listen to those.

Some family favorites:
Richard Scary's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go - This was a family favorite when I was a kid, racing from page to page to find "gold bug."  My mom gave each of her kids our own copy as adults, so now our kids love to do the same thing.  Madeleine and I looked at it the other day, finding all the funny cars (pickle car, carrot car, doughnut car).  We decided that Adam should never have a doughnut car because he would eat it before he could go anywhere.

The Children's 20th Century Book Treasury - My brother gave us this one when Adam and Sammy were little.  The best treasury of children's books that I've seen, and a great one to cuddle up with a pile of kids and read story after story  It doesn't have all the pictures that the regular books would have, but when we liked the story we would check out the real thing.

We also really enjoy reading Piggy and Elephant books, pretty much anything by Arnold Lobel, and pretty much anything by Kevin Henkes.  They all have a touch of silly that we really enjoy.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Family Snippets

It's been CRAZY around here.  I thought it would slow down after Vanguard finished for the year, but then driver's ed took over.  Super extremely thankful that the teacher was kind and worked with Adam to get his driving done in two weeks, but some days we would show up and he would cancel, or I would get a phone call and he would cancel, or I wouldn't know what time Adam was supposed to be there to drive, only finding out with an hour or so notice.  Still again, very very grateful.  He was heading to camp for the summer June 2, with NYLT staff meeting all day June 1, so I had asked the teacher if it were possible to be done May 31.  He said he would try.  May 30 he told me he was going to test him the next day from 3-4:30 (driver's license place closes at 50, and is about 20 minutes away!).  When I dropped Adam off I told him I would be there at 4:15 just in case he gets done early.  At about 4:07 he called and asked if I was already on my way - turns out he was done, and the teacher had e-mailed me the completion certificate.  I was about halfway there and could pull it up on my phone, but didn't know if the driver's license people would want it printed.  Turned around quick to go home and print, raced back to get him, he jumped in the car, and we slowly creeped through traffic to get there.  Very agonizing.  But still, got there about 4:45.  We checked in and waited... they called the person right before us... we waiting a few more minutes... Then someone announced, "It's 5:00.  We'll have to finish everyone else another day."  Supermom (i.e. me) jumped up to the counter and frantically explained that my son was leaving for 10 weeks, and could they please please take care of him?  The lady asked me a few questions (when is he leaving, where is the camp, etc.), I think stalling a bit as people filtered out, then told me to sit down and they would see what they could do.  They went about whatever they were doing, more people filtering, people driving away.  Finally the lady called us up.  Long story short, she lectured us most of the time about planning for more time, even after I explained that he had finished his driving and finished the test and we immediately came over, but we got it done.  Hooray!

Adam and Sammy are both at camp right now.  Adam for the summer, Sam for the first week to help set up camp.  He gets to help one other week to cover for people on vacation.  He was ultra excited.  (If you can't tell.)

We always try to take a walk around the lake while we're there.  Lucky boys that get to hang out here!

The girls and I have been enjoying more free time.  Their cousins were in town, so we've been at grandma's house playing a lot while we could.  Early this week we took a walk on a trail near our home, went to a park, and came home and had a picnic in the backyard.  

Jamie is working away like always.  He gets his own turn at "girl time" later this month.

We have robins nested under our deck, currently with one baby robin hatched and one little blue egg that is a few days behind and may not do anything.  We love to quietly peek through the slats to see what's going on.  I checked a bit ago - momma was gone, baby was sleeping (tiny tiny feathers beginning after just a few days), little blue egg still there.

We're outside pumping up a swimming pool, and we just watched one of the robins fly to the ground, grab a worm and a couple other things, fly up to the nest, and swap with the other one.  I wasn't fast enough with the camera to catch whoever standing with the nest with his/her mouth full.

For a long time almost every morning Madeleine would give me a hug and tell me it's my birthday.  Lately it's been, "Look mom!  It's spring!"

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Friday evening and Saturday most of the day I got to hang out with a bunch of great young men for an NYLT staff development meeting with Adam and Sammy.  Before I left Jamie asked about Mother's Day dinner, and I told him he and Melanie could figure out whatever they want to make.  On the way home, I got a text from Jamie saying that Mother's Day dinner would be Saturday evening instead - great idea!  Sundays are busy at our house, plus we want to go see our moms.

When I walked in the house there were flowers on the table - one bouquet of brightly colored daisies picked out by Erin and another of yellow roses picked out by Madeleine.  Dinner was delicious!  Steak with sauteed mushrooms and onions, potatoes, rolls, and pie and ice cream for dessert.  I was ultra tired (besides the long day, I didn't sleep well camping because I was cold!), so I headed to bed by 9:30pm.  That never happens, mainly because I love that quiet time at night.

Madeleine woke me up at 6:30 this morning to go potty, then crawled in bed and cuddled with Jamie and I for a bit.  Sweet Mother's Day wake up.

Jamie and Melanie made french toast for breakfast (a favorite!) with orange juice and Abuelita to drink (yummy chocolate milk with cinnamon in it) and I helped clean up.  I learned several years ago that I am far more discontent if I'm expecting to be served than if I'm celebrating my ability to love and serve my family.

After that Melanie gave me some earrings she made in activity days Friday (I've been working and working to get the second one in - a mother's love knows no bounds!), a little notebook, and a nice letter.  Carolyn gave me a cupcake covered in treats that she made at activity days (the kids very nicely helped me eat it), Sammy gave me a minifigure, Erin and Madeleine gave me little cards they made, and Adam told me he put up my tent and helped take it down (which was wonderful).  A month or so ago Jamie got a stereo for the big van and told me happy Mother's Day, but I got another extra present . . . a new garage door.

Last week I had pulled into the driveway and stopped, leaned down to gather up things to take into the house, and felt a bump.  I looked up, and the garage was really really close.  Argh!  I sent Jamie a picture with a "don't hate me," and he called laughing (a gift all in itself, even though it really wasn't funny).  Happy Mother's Day, a new garage door.

Still, I got my favorite Mother's Day present from him - a card with a poem that he wrote.  I didn't even remember that it was coming this year, so it was a pleasant surprise!

Read this a few days ago - some beautiful Mother's Day perspective from the bread lady I wrote about a few months ago.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Big Girls, Late, Barker Keys

Do you ever feel behind enough that it's just better to start again where you are?  Me too.  Even though it's been mainly the last month that I've slacked, it feels like climbing Mount Everest getting back there.  But I will.  ...?  So here's the latest.

Yesterday morning at breakfast, for whatever reason Melanie decided she needed to do some motivating for Madeleine to finish.
Melanie:  Madeleine, let's race, and whoever finishes first is the big girl.
Adam (already done and apparently only half listening):  I win!
Mom:  hahahahahahahahahahah

Again yesterday all my men folk were gone.  The girls and I were hanging out trying to get some Saturday stuff done, when Melanie (my personal secretary) walked up and handed me a card.  I looked at it - an invite for my cousin's fiancee's wedding shower that had started 40 minutes before.  (Why Melanie doesn't remember my appointments better is beyond me.  Sheesh!)  The boys were at an Eagle project, so I got the girls some lunch, found out how much longer the boys would be, got the girls ready to go, stressed about the boys needing to be at the church later for a hike, gathered the girls up to go, the boys got home, I told them to walk, and we headed on our way.  We arrived with less than 10 minutes of the shower left.  It was at my grandma's house, so at least we could hang out there with her, my mom, and sister.

(Not sure why these pictures turned out so green?)

Although a few hours later grandma probably wasn't so happy we went to all that effort to go when she discovered the skeleton key from her front door missing.  Not so easy to jaunt down to the local hardware store and get a new one of those.  It's such a temptation for the kids to play with, and I think Madeleine took the bait.  Erin said she heard her playing with it.  When I asked her if she played with the keys at Grandma Barker's house, the light immediately turned on.  She told me grandma took it from her and put it up high, so she got a chair.  Ummm . . . grandma didn't take it away this time, so . . . yah.  Looks like we'll be taking another jaunt to see grandma tomorrow so maybe we can help track it down.  Thank goodness when we got there we realized she left her shoes home (remember the big rush?), so at least we know she didn't pack them down to the farm with the other kids.  And I don't remembering hearing clinking keys outside, so hopefully they are still inside.

Overheard recently after an egg was dropped on the ground:  "The floor is fine, but the egg will never be the same."

Carolyn was laying on the couch with a headache recently.  She was getting up for something and told me not to let anyone lay on the pillow she was using because, "someone with a headache was been laying on it," almost like it was catching or something.  Or maybe she was looking for enough sympathy that it would still be available when she came back.

Sammy came home from the park the other day, walked in the door, and said, "My shoes are FULL of socks."  After we all settled down, he told us he meant to say rocks.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


March 30 - My Dad's Birthday!

We have this great tradition in our family that the birthday person/people get to bite the cake first.  Here's a great demonstration.

Dad taking some time to decide the best spot . . . 

Still looking . . . 

And diving in!

Sammy put red pepper flakes on his ice cream.  He said it was awesome - hot and cold at the same time.

April 7 - My parents have been going through CERT training.  They mentioned one day that they need to check their fire extinguishers because they are old enough that they might not work anymore.  A couple weeks later we were over visiting and my dad decided to pull them out.

It worked!

Since once you check they leak air and won't be good much longer, my parents took at as a good opportunity to teach our family how to use a fire extinguisher.

Point it at the bottom of the fire . . .

Each of the kids got a turn.  Pretty cool stuff!

Little Miss M even had a turn, but since I was helping her, I didn't get a picture.

Then we got the real how-to.  You're supposed to have a partner.  The person in front with the extinguisher just watches the fire, and the person in back guides them backwards away from the fire after it gets sprayed.

Carolyn got one more turn, the last little puff of powder.

A great experience.  None of us had ever used one before, so now we have a feel for what it's like.  One of those skills you hope you never have to use.