Sunday, October 29, 2017

Out in Nature

Tanner and I have always loved the great outdoors. So it is very important to us to instill that love into our children. We love exploring new places and enjoying the beautiful world we live in.

Last month we were able to go on several adventures. At the beginning of September we stopped at Swallow Falls on the way home from the temple: 

The next week Tanner had a job interview in Ohio and on the way there we stopped at Hocking Hills State Park which was so awesome. 

We went on two little hikes to see "Old Mans Cave", several waterfalls (they weren't very full because of the season but still fun for the kids) and then the "Devil's Bathtub". 

At the end of September we decided to spend part of Saturday at Coopers Rock State Park. We love to hike under the overlook there and have done it several times now so this time we decided to hike to Henry Clay's Furnace while Tanner did some mountain biking. The kids and I had a great time finding different mushrooms and caterpillars and collecting acorns. The most exciting part of the hike was when dad passed us on the trail. We all thought he was so cool on his mountain bike. 

 This month we got to go to a farm and spend our life savings on a few pumpkins...only kind of joking...

 The train filled up so fast I wasn't able to get a seat for Austin, but he took matters into his own hands and climbed right in with Mariah and Chet. I didn't have the nerve to try to take him out so they rode like that.

We live in such a beautiful area and it has been so fun to explore. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Our 4 Year Old Boy

Chet is four, "and soon mom I'll be five!". It always makes it fun when my kids get older and more excited for their birthdays. I remember my mom making us feel so special on our birthdays and I want the same for my children. 

Because Tanner was going to be at work all of Chet's birthday (he left around 6 and didn't get home until 8), we had a little FHE birthday party the night before as a family. It was so fun watching Chet open his presents. For several months now he has been begging for goggles. Now that summer is over I finally got him some for his Birthday. That was his number one request. He put them right on. 

He also got a lariat and he was pretty excited about that too. "Now when I go to Grampa's farm I can use this!" 

Chet has had the same muslin blankets since he was a newborn and they were Mariah's before that. Needless to say, all but one had been thrown away and the one that was left was ripped up and falling apart. So I made him a cowboy blanket for his birthday. That night I told him to give his old blanket one last snuggle. He held it tightly to his face, gave it a good bite (he'd started chewing on it the last couple months too, which made us want to get rid of it even more) and then threw it away. He hasn't talked about it since. Happy days! 

On his Birthday morning we got ready for friends to come for a party. It was so cute to see the excitement of all the kids to be together. We had a little rodeo obstacle course where I set up some cones for our pole bending and barrels, that they went through on stick horses. They also got to rope a steer (our bouncy reindeer) and do some target shooting with Chet's pop gun. I actually was surprised how engaged the kids were and they did such a good job cheering for each other as they went through the course. 
For the first hour of the party it was just me and 12 kids...and they were so awesome. As they all waited patiently for their snacks I kept telling them how good they all were being. You can tell they have good parents. Plus I may have worn them out with the rodeo obstacle course. 

After quite time Chet had to try out his new goggles and water balloons from a friend so we spent the afternoon playing in the hose. 

That night I picked up a pizza at Aldis and we had a relaxing night eating pizza and watching Daniel Tiger (Chet's requests). The only thing that could have made it better is if Tanner could have been there. 

And here is Chet's four year interview...with my input as well, because I know better what he likes...

Mom: What is your favorite color? 
Chet: Bwack (maybe it's because we don't have black plates, bowls, cups or cutlery but he always requests the bwue thats a favorite too)

Mom: What is your favorite food?
Chet: paghetti (he can eat about anything. He really loves cherry tomatoes, pickles, and any kind of fruit)

Mom: What is your favorite animal? 
Chet: A horse 

Mom: What is your favorite book?
Chet: Cowboy books
He always insists on wearing his cowboy boots on our hikes

Mom: What is your favorite movie?
Chet: Peter Pan and Davey Cwockett

Mom: What is your favorite song? 
Chet: Pioneer Children (not your typical bedtime song, but it's what he requests every night.)

Mom: What is your favorite dessert? 
Chet: Ice Cream

Mom: What do you like to do for fun? 
Chet: Run and jump

Mom: What is your favorite thing to do with Mom? 
Chet: Hit balls with bats (the other day we got out the bat and whiffle ball. I think Chet had the most fun laughing at me as I attempted to toss the ball up and hit it with the bat. I finally got a groove, but it took a while. And Chet and Mariah lost it every time I missed.)

Mom: What is your favorite thing to do with Dad? 
Chet: Pretend to be Hulk (I don't know if Tanner has ever done that, but maybe he means when they wrestle? But he does love going on bike rides with his dad and talks about it for days after, "dad couldn't go as fast as me 'cuz he had mud on his tires."

Mom: What is your favorite thing to do with Mariah? 
Chet: Be twin cowboys. Mariah will be a cowgirl and I will be a cowboy. (They really do get along so well. Whenever they have been apart for a while they are just itching to start playing their imaginary games.)

Mom: What is your favorite thing to do with Austin? 
Chet: Be Batman (He loves when Austin will dress up with him but Austin can only keep a costume on for about thirty seconds at a time. The boys have started wrestling lately and I have this sense of it begins)

Mom: Who is your best friend? 
Chet: Everyone in the world. (He really is such a kind sensitive boy)

Mom: What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Chet: A cowboy that plays basketball and practices playing hockey. (You can tell his mother and father have had a big influence on him.)

I don't know if it's a middle child thing but I had to keep reminding myself that Chet was turning four, not five. We expect so much of the poor boy. He really is good and so thoughtful. Whenever he gets a treat from primary he always saves some for his family. And if dad isn't at home he often reminds me to "save some food for dad". 

He has started drawing pictures and its so fun to see what he creates. One day he told me he could draw a chair and sat down and did this: 
I don't think I could have done much better.
Here is another drawing of Serge, Chet and Mariah. 

He doesn't let me kiss him anymore which is real hard for me. But he does give awesome hugs when I ask for them and will still occasionally snuggle me. So I take what I can get. Chet has done a lot of learning and growing this year and I can see so much change in him. I'm trying harder to embrace the way he is now and try not to change him so quickly. He is only four once, and I'm going to love this year with him as much as I can, because there's no getting it back. 
Oh how we love this Chet boy! 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Life Lately

Today while driving home from church I was crying because my kids are growing up way too fast (I blame the song, Turn Around). I just don't understand how my precious babies can be so old! And they refuse to stop growing no matter how I plead with them. I love the funny moments that I'm able to capture of them. Here's a few that I remembered to write down.

Mariah while playing: "Chet if you want more of this, comment below." We must be watching too many Studio C videos.
I remember writing my name with pretzels as a kid and I loved that she came up with the idea on her own.

After Tanner told Chet and Mariah that my birthday was coming up, they were super excited planning surprises for me. After discussing how they were going to give me my present Mariah said, "Chet's the secreter so he's going to give it to you and I'm the exciteder so I get excited." They worked for several days on my present (with my help...) a couple weeks before my birthday. I kept thinking they would forget about it but the morning of my birthday they brought me the box, complete with doors and windows with scraps of paper glued to the outside and stuffed with papers that each had art work on them. Chet explained each of his drawings to me and it was pretty entertaining because it had been a while since he had drawn them so he was guessing with each picture. It was pretty neat to see their excitement in sharing that gift with me. I can't think of a better present than seeing the joy on their faces when they gave it to me.

After Tanner told Mariah we were going to a restaurant one night:
Mariah: Do you think they have chicken nuggets?
Tanner: I'm sure they do but don't you want something better?
Mariah: Of course I'd like a steak...or a ham.

Mariah has been singing as long as she has been talking. Lately she has been experimenting with her voice. After a day of singing in a high, quivering voice she came to me and asked, " Mom have you noticed my voice is changing?" just begging to be complimented on her amazing voice. The other day she was showing me how high she could sing and then said, "Can you believe I can do that? And it doesn't even make my eyes tear up or hurt my nose!".

She has done so well with homeschool so far. I'm always surprised with how long she can sit while working on things. Chet wants to be working on something the whole time too. And Austin does a great job reorganizing the whole house.

Mariah at times can be a little controlling (shocker, I know). So Chet has come up with some subtle techniques to get his way. One example:
Mariah: The bad guys have dinosaurs so you need to have a dinosaur.
Chet: No, the bad guys called me and said they don't have dinosaurs.

Chet loves superheroes. He especially loves becoming his own unique hero. Some of his made up superheroes: Khaki man and Big Fighting Yittle (little) Man (my personal favorite).
"Mom, I'm a neaky (sneaky) soldier because they think I'm a pirate."

While rocking out to Dixie Chick's Cowboy Take Me Away, at the part when the singer said, "I want to break it in my hands"(talking about dirt) Chet started giggling, "she said, 'I want a cricket in my pants.'!" He got a big kick out of that for a long time after.

Sometimes in the morning I'll ask the kids what they dreamt about. One morning Chet answered, "Mom you were in my dream do you remember it?".

I was looking on Craigslist for a bigger bike for Chet and he saw some motorcycles for sale and decided he would much rather a motorcycle than a bike. I told him that when he had grown up he could buy himself one. He wasn't very happy about that and said, "No mom, when I grow up I won't know what store to buy a motorcycle! Please can we buy the motorcycle?!". The begging went on for a good while.

Ever since then he has been on a big motorcycle kick. Whenever we are on the road he points out all the motorcycles he sees and what his favorite features are. One day while driving he told me, "I want a motorcycle with a back seat on it so my mom can ride on it." After gushing for a while about how sweet he was he frankly informed me that he didn't mean me. After a few more questions I realized that he actually wanted the back seat for his WIFE not me. I tried really hard not to be offended. Tanner got a good laugh out of it.

One day Chet and Mariah were playing make believe and Chet came to me and said, "Mom this is scary so kids can't watch this. They have to turn it off; only adults can." I can't imagine where he's heard that before...

Austin is learning more and more each day. He finally has a few consistent words that he uses, one being"Chet"! He says it all day long. It's pretty cute because he really loves his big brother. Ever since we put them in the same room he has really gotten attached to him.
After hearing Mariah say, "Seriously?!" I looked up to see this. Austin decided he wanted to sit on big sister's lap. Though she wasn't thrilled about it she let him stay. 

Oh how we love these kiddos! I'm not sure whether they're keeping me young or making me old (probably depends on the day) but if it means spending time with them I'll take it!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Oh July!

July went by way too fast. Maybe because we tried our best to fill it with some good ol' summer fun. 

Tanner had the 4th off so we tried to make a day of it. 
 Don't let this picture fool you, This is the only one we got without Austin crying. I did something silly enough to get a millisecond of a smile. And Tanner and I were in our red, white and blue duds  too, but we didn't think to get a family photo. 
 We went to a band performance down by the river. They played all kinds of fun patriotic music. I was hoping my kids would be able to hear the Star Spangled Banner but the poor conductor passed out from the that was the end of the show. It was super toasty. 
 Austin really loved his corn on the cob.
 We took the kids to the parade too. The Shriners are always my favorite in a parade and these guys were awesome. That man totally had our kids thinking that was a real live skunk. I don't know who was more fun to watch, my kids or the men with the skunks. You could tell they were really getting a kick out of it. 

That night we had some friends over who had some sparklers and fireworks. Guys, I promise that isn't why we invited you...but we were glad someone else had thought of it. 
 Austin loved the sparklers. We didn't give him one but he was mesmerized by them.

 On 7/11 we dressed up as cows and got some free Chick Fil A. Chet really wanted to go as a cowboy but I told him the only way he could get a free meal was if he went as a cow. While in the play place a little boy came in wearing a Woody costume. Chet just stared for a long long time and then said, "mom, he's dressed up as a cowboy." with the most disappointed look on his face. I had to explain to him that the little boy had a cow print vest on so it worked...but I could see that Chet had felt totally betrayed. It was pretty funny, but not to him. So now he wears his cowboy clothes everywhere he goes, because he can. Hopefully he'll be able to laugh about it later. 
 Morgantown has a Kids' Day and we went this year. We got tons of stuff that has mostly all been secretly thrown away by me. But the kids had a blast and it was all free.

They did an obstacle course, punched and kicked with real gloves on, jumped in a jump house and Chet even won a t-shirt for scoring a goal on his first try with a lacrosse stick. (Do you call it a stick?The guy helped him...and still gave him the shirt. I was pretty excited.)

 One day I took the kids to the splash pad. Mariah and Chet ran the whole time. Austin kept trying to escape so he could play at the playground. He wasn't a big fan of the water splashing him. 
 Those moments when they all are getting along and happy are just magical.
 Austin was pouting because I wouldn't let him leave. Such a mean mom. 

Tanner's work had a picnic and although it was hot we had a good time. 

We have had some wonderful missionaries here and Elder Kent and Howe were great. They are always willing to listen to Mariah and Chet and the nights we are feeding the missionaries are always our kids' favorite. Elder Kent just left and we were sad to see him go (he was in Morgantown for six months) but we are excited to get to know the new Elder. 

We dog sat for some friends and Darcy just may have convinced me that we could do a dog. As long as it's already potty and crate trained, doesn't shed, and eats all the food Austin drops at mealtimes. Darcy kept our floor so nice and clean. I miss her. The kids were so sad when she went home. They loved feeding her, taking her for walks, reading to her, snuggling with her and playing fetch. She was well loved while in our home. 
This is where she was every meal...she took her job very seriously. 

The 24th of July (Pioneer Day in our church) fell on a Monday and after reading an article in The Friend we were inspired to have a Pioneer themed Family Home Evening. I made stew and cornbread and we dressed in "pioneer" gear, or what we could scrounge up. We watched a video about the Sweet Water crossing and the great sacrifice some young men made. Then we talked about what it means to be a Pioneer and how we can be a Pioneer today. Then we listened to fiddling music and taught the kids some Virginia Reel style dance moves. After our dance party we did some stick pulling. Then we made covered wagons with marshmallows, graham crackers and pretzels. I forgot the lifesavers so we tried to make wheels with pieces of marshmallow, next time I'll remember. It was such a fun night that didn't require much prep from me. 
 We really need to get some bonnets...

Their faces are the best.