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Friday, September 28, 2012

Talking games

Isabelle has developed an extensive vocabulary over the past few months. Now she is up to about 50 words, but from the day she spoke her first word she has been making us laugh. It all started with "sit." As one of her first words, she spoke it frequently, but she said it with a little bit of a lisp, sounding more like "s@*t". The older kids thought it was funny and would innocently imitate her. I am still trying to undo that one.

Also early on, Isabelle learned "baby," "mine," "oh", and "yeah"-- coincidentally all common words in Justin Bieber's "Baby." Now she can sing nearly the whole song (in almost intelligible syllables) and requests "Baby, oh" every time we get in the car. EVERY time.

Isabelle does pretty well with names. She knows mommy and daddy and has even evolved to mom and dad (stop growing up so fast!). She learned Nana pretty early, and mastered Landrie (the dog) within a day of getting him. She even knows Avery, thanks to having both a cousin and a friend with that name. But as hard as I tried, I could not get her to say, "Logan." It bothered me more than him, but I could not understand why she would not say his name. Every time I would prompt her, she would look at me and laugh. Finally Jeff solved the mystery. It turns out she does say Logan's name, she just doesn't say, "Logan". She says, "Buddy." I guess we call him that often enough that she picked up his nickname before his given name.

Now, for the hard evidence of all these examples, here is video proof. Excuse the language in the first clip.



Rhyming games

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Savannah has a fascination with thinking up rhyming words right now. She is constantly running up to me with some new pair of words that "rhyme." Here are a few of her rhyming words:

Police and please

Blood and blue

June and Junior

Hey, it's a start, right? Also in the learning arena, Savannah has learned to spell and write her name (no small feat with such a long name), is starting to sound out words, memorized the first Article of Faith, and can make her bed.

While on the subject of Savannah, she has been testing my patience lately in more ways that one. I don't want to dwell on the negative, but I feel it is important to document some real life occurrences, both for my sake and my posterity's. If you've followed my blog for any period of time, you know Savannah was a very challenging baby/toddler. But the past year or two has been much better. She and I are learning to work through our struggles, and for the most part she is a very agreeable and bright young lady. She is my favorite helper in the kitchen or at the store, and I foresee a very fun relationship as she gets older.

But times have been tough lately. I can't say exactly, but I think it started when she began school. She is currently in a half-day pre-K program. It's every day from 12:30-3:15, and I think it wipes her out. Between school and soccer and dance lessons, her energy is zapped and her emotions are bubbling just below the surface. Every little thing turns into a tantrum, and it is all I can do not to throw a tantrum right back at her! Ultimately, I'm pretty sure the solution is more sleep and fewer activities, but in the meantime I am trying out some "Love and Logic" methods (thanks for the book, Mom!) as well as trying to keep some perspective and we are making it through one day at a time. Heaven help us when she starts all-day pre-K after we move in a few weeks! (Silver lining: there is a scheduled naptime.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Toy sale

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Logan's preferences for toys change about as often and as unpredictably as the weather. I never know when he is suddenly going to pick up a new fetish, but once he does, he lives and dreams by it until his wants are satisfied. A few weeks ago, a friend introduced him to Beyblades. Within a week, Logan had watched countless episodes of the cartoon on Netflix, and was begging to go to the store and buy a set of Beyblades. (You have to have at least two, so they can battle, you know.) We try not to make a habit of buying toys outside of birthdays and Christmas, so I gave my standard answer, "Save up your money." I fully expected that would be the end of it, because although Logan is many things, patient is not one of them. What I failed to recognize is that patience is not required when resourcefulness is present.

Before I knew it, Logan was planning a "toy sale" to earn money for his Beyblades. He had me look up how much they were, then he started dogearing his toys and assigning them values until he had enough toys set aside to "earn" him enough for two Beyblades. I had to give him a little bit of a reality check ("No one is going to buy that used dollar store toy for $5") but he adapted and searched harder and eventually I had to give in and let him have the sale.

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Saturday morning he set up his table and chair and arranged his toys. I wondered how long I would have to sit out there with him before he would be convinced that this method wasn't going to work. Imagine my surprise when within an hour he had sold his entire stash (to three total customers) and had earned $10! He and Savannah combined their prior saving with their sale proceeds and had enough to buy the coveted blades. We took them to the store later that afternoon and now they are the proud owners of two overpriced tops.

To be honest, I am not a fan of Beyblades and I can't stand supporting stupid TV shows, but I am pretty proud of Logan and the initiative he took to get what he wanted. His innovation and determination are qualities I want to support and cultivate, so if we have to deal with a couple silly fads along the way, so be it. I wonder how long it will be before the Beyblades end up at a toy sale to earn money for the next big thing...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Landrie

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I'm not an animal person. I enjoy certain types of pets, but I have a hard time committing to them long term because I'm not willing to take on the bad with the good. I remember as a kid begging and begging to get a dog. I wanted one more than anything (I thought). We eventually did get a little Shitzu. And I loved it, but let's be honest, I didn't really take care of it.

Fast forward 20 years. Now my kids are begging and begging for a dog. A part of me wants to appease them. But the other part of me screams, "No! Don't do it! It's just one more thing to clean up after and take care of and ruin your house. Don't get a dog!" These two sides of me have fought for a couple years now, but finally the perfect solution presented itself: fostering.

A friend told us about a rescue organization that desperately needed fosters, someone to house the dogs until they were adopted. Short term, all expenses paid, it seemed perfect. This was a chance for us to test drive dog ownership without the long term expense or commitment. I mulled over it for, oh, a day or so, then submitted the application. We were immediately approved, and then began a long month of timing conflicts. Finally, we were able to bring home our first foster, Landrie.

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It amazes me how small and puppy-ish Landrie looks in the picture above. Do not be fooled. Landrie is a full grown Great Pyrenees and weighs about 85 pounds. He is a BIG dog. But he is also sweet and mellow and even a little bit lazy. For the first few days we had him, we weren't sure he did anything but sleep. Gradually he warmed up to us and by the second week he was even playing with the kids.

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You can see a little better here how big he is. When he is standing, his head is higher than Isabelle's. And no, we did not make it a habit to let him drink out of her sippy cups.

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It didn't take long for Landrie to become a part of our home... literally. He was so big that anywhere he would lay down he was in the way. His crate was huge; it took up half of our dining space, which wasn't that big to begin with. He also left hair everywhere he went. I tried to brush him and keep the shedding down, but there was only so much I could do. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but I quickly grew tired of sweeping dog hair.

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I like this picture because it looks like he's laughing. :)

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Despite the shedding and a few other small annoyances (the drooling, and pooping, and smell, and such), we all appreciated the fun parts of having Landrie around. Savannah finally overcame her fear of dogs (kind of). Isabelle loved bossing him around. And Logan, well, he loved Landrie as much as a kid could. I think Logan could be cast in a "boy and his dog" movie with his love of dogs. He could get Landrie riled up in a playful mood like none of the rest of us could. It was so fun to watch them play together.

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When the time came to give Landrie back, I'll admit I was a little bit sad. I was relieved to have my house back, but if there was a way to keep an outdoor only dog in these parts, I'd take him back in a second. Now that he's been gone a week or so, I even miss him a little bit. Isabelle still walks around the house saying, "Where 'andie? Where 'andie?" I'm so glad we took advantage of this opportunity to try out a dog. We learned a lot from the experience and I now have a list of requirements should we ever decide to make the addition permanent. I sincerely hope Landrie finds a good home soon.

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First day

School started on August 17 this year. When I was a kid, I remember school always started after Labor Day. In Utah, I got used to it starting the last week of August. Now we barely even get through half of August before going back to school. But I'm not complaining-- my kids were ready and I was MORE than ready for school to start.

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Logan is in first grade this year. He loves being at school all day and especially likes his new Mario lunch box. So far he's been doing great, but every week his behavior card has a checkmark (as opposed to a plus) next to "produces neat work" and "controls talking." I'm going to blame his father for both of those. He did tell me last week that he was starting to not like first grade as much as he liked kindergarten. I am going to blame that on the fact that he brought home homework for the first time ever.

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Savannah started Pre-K this year. Pre-K is a voluntary program through the public schools, so she gets to go to school for 3 hours every day and I don't pay a dime (well, other than our outrageous property taxes, that is). Still, I paid $60/month to send Logan to preschool twice a week at her age so it's nice not to have to budget that in. Her good friend is in her class so she is on cloud nine to go to school every day.

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Savannah's teacher read us all a story called "The Kissing Hand." It was a super cute story that I would highly recommend for anyone who's child is apprehensive about starting school or day care or anything where they leave mom and dad for a bit. I may have teared up a little during it.

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Frontier City

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We have loved having passes to Frontier City this summer. Frontier City is our local theme park, and though it is small, it is rarely crowded and has the perfect number and size of rides for our little crew. Plus it is only 15 minutes from our house, so we could go spend an hour or two at a time and not feel overwhelmed. This year the park added a "Waterworks" area. It was something between a large splash pad and a small water park. We quickly grew to appreciate this part of the park more than any other as we experienced triple digit highs for most of the summer.

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Our season passes included the water park on the other side of town, so we spent a few days there as well. I still can't believe how comfortable my kids became in water over the summer. At our last set of swimming lessons in May, Logan struggled to jump off a diving block. Last week he jumped off a 10-foot cliff at the water park without any hesitation! And Savannah was constantly disappointed that she wasn't tall enough to go on some water slide or roller coaster. Where did this lack of inhibition come from?!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Appendages of Nauvoo

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One thing I hoped to gain from our little roadtrip was a greater understanding of and insight into the life of Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith is the first prophet of the restoration, meaning he restored Christ's church as it once was back on the earth. He experience so much suffering and heartbreak in his life, but was always such an optimist and inspiration to others. We spent some time visiting two significant jails in the area to learn more about Joseph.

The first jail we visited was Liberty Jail in Missouri. Joseph spent five months there waiting trial in the dead of winter under horrific conditions. I have heard about this jail my whole life, but seeing it in person gave me chills. I wanted to cry at the injustice of it, yet there was a comforting spirit there that reminded me of the revelation Joseph received while he was there:
"And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee [...] and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?"
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The second jail we visited was Carthage Jail near Nauvoo in Illinois. There were two major reasons for timing this trip when we did. One was to catch the last weekend of the pageant, and the second was to visit my aunt and uncle who are serving as missionaries at the Carthage Jail. Of course, I failed to get any pictures of them. Whoops.

Carthage is where Joseph Smith was killed. I won't retell the entire story here, but suffice it to say a mob broke into the jail and stormed the room where Joseph and a few others were being kept. Joseph fell out the upper window you can see in this picture. I can't begin to describe the spirit that is felt here. Poor Isabelle had had enough of tours at this point so I had to keep stepping out of the tour to quiet her, but my family was kind enough to let me join up with the next group and hear the tour in peace. I am so grateful for that opportunity because I will never forget the special reverence I felt standing in that room.

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Thanks, Mom and Dad, for organizing this trip so that we could benefit from the experience. I will never forget it.

Sites of Nauvoo

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We were only in Nauvoo for two days, so we had to cram in as much as we could while still making time for the shows, pageant, and temple. We hit up a couple historical homes, but many of my favorite stops were the shops. I loved learning how things were made and done, and I think the kids really enjoyed that part, too.

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The printing shop was especially interesting. Did you know that the terms "uppercase" and "lowercase" come from the cases that held the type? The uppercase letters were kept in the upper case, and the lowercase letters were kept in the lower case. I'd never thought about why we call them that. Duh.

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At the blacksmith and wainwrights we learned about wagon making and wheel making, both of which were very important for the exodus west that the saints faced when they finally left Nauvoo.

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But we didn't drive 10 hours (plus fly 1000 miles, in my parents' case) just to get a feel for the time and culture. Many sacred and wonderful things are captured in this tiny city, and we were there to experience those things.

For instance, this is the Red Brick Store, originally owned and run by Joseph Smith.

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There is a room on the second floor of the store that was used as a classroom and meeting room. This is where the school of the prophets was held. Logan specifically requested that I get a picture of the Book of Mormon sitting on this desk.

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Relief Society was organized in this room as well, so my mom and I felt it appropriate to take a picture together.

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And we had heard the root beer sold in the Red Brick Store (which still functions as a general store) was pretty good, so we gave it a try.

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Next to the store are the graves of Joseph, Hyrum, and Emma Smith. I hope my final resting place is half as beautiful as this spot.

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And let's not forget the Pendleton log school. We actually ran out of time and didn't go inside, but I made the kids pose for a picture because it's our claim to fame.

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The Nauvoo pageant bagpipe band was everywhere. I never did find out what significance bagpipes have in Nauvoo's history, but it was fun to listen to them.

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And of course, the Nauvoo temple. What an amazing building with an amazing story. This is definitely something you have to experience in person to appreciate. Wow.

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