Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More Random Photos

Kathryn: Look, I match Daddy!

Sidewalk chalk & toothpaste - treasures from the dentist

A Shout-out to Kathryn

(I know I said I wouldn't mention potty training again, but I just have to brag for a minute!)

This little lady earns the award for easiest potty-trainer (so far) in our family. She has now been dry at night for three days in a row. A couple of the nights I still didn't think she could do it, and wanted her to wear a diaper, but she refused. I didn't want to fight over it, so I figured I'd sneak in later and put one on her. I forgot, but she didn't need it anyway.

On Friday she got to visit the Montessori school in the morning. She was thrilled! She took a pair of slippers because that's what they wear in the classroom. The teacher said that she didn't say much, just kind of took everything in and was very well behaved. She even used the potty there.

"First" day of school.

She'll start going to preschool regularly in the fall. She's excited about it, but she also enjoys doing "home school" with Mom, too. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sarah's Birthday Pictures

Wondering why the birthday cake is already half-eaten?
The cake wasn't finished until later in the evening on her birthday, so we missed the whole song and candle show that night with the whole family. She did get to eat some though. Then, the next day when all her friends were over, we sang and she blew out the candles. Did she care that the cake wasn't whole? Not one bit. She was too busy enjoying all that attention!

David's Birthday Pictures

I downloaded all the pictures that were hiding on my camcorder tonight, so here are a few fun ones from David's birthday.

Helping Mommy vacuum after his birthday haircut.

The Challenge - recording Joseph and the Old Testament [song]

A couple of months ago the Primary chorister at church challenged the children to learn the three songs with all the names of the books of the Old Testament, New Testament, and Book of Mormon. She happens to work at an engraving store, so she is giving each child who accomplishes the task an engraved dog tag necklace with their name and the Primary theme for the year "I Know the Scriptures Are True".

Joseph and Sarah thought that was a pretty cool prize, so they spent the entire afternoon that Sunday listening to the three songs over and over and over again. They both passed off the Books of the New Testament song only a few weeks later. Then they kind of forgot about the challenge until one of the Primary kids earned their own tag. Joseph came home with renewed determination to learn the other two songs. We sang them constantly for the next few weeks - at bedtime, in the van, during play time, and lunchtime, and bath time, etc. I memorized all the songs too, even that one ever-elusive line in the middle of the Old Testament song. Finally, I made a cheat sheet of sorts to help Joseph cement those last few difficult ones. I wrote down the first letter of each books name in order. A few days later he was ready to sing it for his music leader.

We had stake conference this Sunday and afterwards I noticed that Joseph was wandering off from us. He never does that! How odd, I thought. Then I saw him walk up to his music leader. He wanted to sing for her but he was so nervous and the chapel was full of loud people, he sang quietly and she couldn't hear him. Once I got them to move into another room, he did great! He sang the books of the Book of Mormon song and the Old Testament song all on his own. I am so proud of him! He'll get his little tag next week. So far only two other primary kids have earned theirs and they are both in Senior primary. Joseph is only 4 years old.

Sarah is close behind. She knows about half of the other two songs. With a little more practice and persistence, she'll be ready to sing them soon, too. Even Kathryn knows bits and pieces of the songs now too. One of her favorite lines is: "Samuel, Samuel, Kings, Kings, Chronicles"

I wanted to record Joseph singing the Old Testament song (since it's the hardest one) for all of you to see, but we had some issues getting a good take. See the three videos below:
(You may want to watch at YouTube.)
He gets upset when Sarah sings something "wrong" = gets nervous and hides under table

Now, he wants to sing alone, but someone insists on singing with him = meltdown

In my bathroom, with the bedroom door locked so the other kids can't come in and make noise. 
He is suddenly very camera shy and mumbles the words, but he makes it to the end.

(Let me know if these videos come through. I made them "private" on YouTube, so I'm curious if you'll be able to see them.)

I'll post a video of Sarah singing one of the songs soon.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hot Tub Troubles

As some of you may have heard, our house came with a hot tub. We always thought it would be so great to have one, so we were really excited about it because have you seen how much those cost new? Yeah, it wasn't really in the budget. A nice feature of this particular tub is that it is located right outside our master bedroom on a very private deck (not the deck in the backyard). How romantic, right?

Well, as you can imagine, we didn't wait too long after moving in to give it try. We found out that the previous owner hadn't used the tub for 3 years, so it needed a good scrub down. Then, we had to figure out how to fill it. The hose bib attached to the house that is mere inches from tub wasn't working and I still haven't found the water shut-off switch in the crawl space that would turn that back on. So, I went for the next one I saw, only 20 feet away. No problem, we've got a long enough hose. But as the water came streaming into the tub I suddenly realized that it was irrigation water! (Brown, murky, and full of sediment, etc.) So I drained it and cleaned it again.

I had to buy a special adapter so we could attach the hose to the shower in our bathroom and snake the hose out the window, but a few days later I managed to fill it with clean water and actually soaked in it that night. But, I didn't really know how to treat the water with the right chemicals to keep it sanitary for the long term and was too busy painting the house to learn how. We also didn't want to pay to keep the thing heated through the winter (it was late-October by this time), so we ended up draining it again shortly thereafter. We also discovered that it did have a few slow leaks, too.

Well, I guess we weren't very thorough in our draining efforts because when we had a hard freeze the filter chamber burst. [Insert picture later.] We realized this a few weeks later when we thought it would be nice to get that hot tub running for real. Halfway into the filling process, water started gushing like crazy from that cartridge. I gave up and decided to wait until spring, when it would be warm enough outside to fix everything.

After months of hearing David say "I wish the hot tub was working" at least once a week, I decided I'd surprise him and fix it up. So, I removed the broken cartridge and carried it and the filter down to the hot tub store a few blocks away. My hot tub is so old (circa 1988) that they had to special order the parts for me. No biggie, I've waited all winter, I can wait another week. The new cartridge and filter arrived on Tuesday and I dragged the whole crew down to the hot tub store again to pick it up...gleefully imagining how relaxing it would be to soak in the tub that night.

I hooked up the new parts in just a few minutes and started to fill the tub. A moment later I noticed that water was leaking like crazy from a joint that connected the pipes to the heater. Bummer, I thought, but hey - "Look, that joint comes off with a screw driver! I can do that." So I removed the broken part, drained the tub, and loaded the kids up again to head back to the hot tub store. This time they had the part in stock. Good. The owner of the store recommended using some sort of squishy, gooey stuff on the joint to help prevent leaks. She said I could buy it at the hardware store just down the street. Um, okay. So off I went with the kiddos, found the stuff, and bought some ice cream at Micky-D's to reward them for being so nice while I took them all over town. Still Tuesday afternoon, I squished the goo on the new part and attempted to attach everything. I thought it was all on right, so I started to fill the tub again. A few minutes later, the gushing water told me I'd gotten it wrong. It took another 15 minutes and some leverage, but I finally got that one part put back on and started to fill tub.

Everything looked good until it was nearing the halfway full mark. That's when I noticed a different leak on a pipe off to the side and that's also when I gave up the project for the night. Wednesday I realized that I could just unscrew two ends and take off the damaged section. So I took it with me to the hardware store hoping they'd have compatible parts that I could just screw back in. Nope - apparently hot tub parts are not compatible with average plumbing parts. They did have a solution for me: saw off the threads and use couplers to attach a piece of pvc pipe at both ends. Sounded like a good idea and probably less chances of leakage, so I went for it. While I was hanging out at Ace listening to the two employees discuss my best options, the kids were crawling all over the store and Kathryn managed to pee on the floor. Fabulous. Needless to say, I didn't attempt the sawing of the pipes on Wednesday.

Today got off to a great start: I found the saw and realized that doing the sawing on those pipes inside the hot tub was not going to be easy. Our small saw didn't fit well in there. Maybe Home Depot would have the parts I needed, so I took the babies while the older kids were at school. No luck - but the guy I talked to there said that the friendly hot tub store people would have what I wanted. Hmmm... why didn't I think of that? (Maybe because I thought it would be cheaper to buy plumbing parts from the hardware store - you know those hot tub people really mark up their products!) Wouldn't you know, she had exactly what I needed! I glued the pvc to the new connecting parts and put everything back together again. [insert picture here] That wasn't so hard, I thought.

Then, I got a little hasty. The directions on the glue say to wait for 2 hours, but I thought we could fudge on that a little and started to fill the tub. Everything looked good. The tub was half full when I noticed it...ANOTHER {small} leak. This one is on a pipe farther back, a little harder to see. And how could I have noticed that small leak before with all the other huge gushers at the front? Well, I was determined that we would use the hot tub tonight despite the leak, so I continued to fill it up, and figured we could just drain it afterwards and then I'd figure out how to fix the new leak. Just then my newly installed pipe sprung a leak! Maybe I hadn't screwed it back on tight enough - or maybe the cement really did need a full 2 hours to dry before use. Either way, it was gushing and I was ready to throw in the towel.

That's when the kids went swimming and I went to Relief Society. At least I knew I could count on getting some chocolate there.

So, that's where we are now. I'm almost ready to call the hot tub repair guy and let him finish the job or just give up on the hot tub altogether. What would you do?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Random Photo

Sharing a morning smoothie.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kathryn is "Grown Up"

Remember when Kathryn told me that she would potty train when she was grown up? (See this post:
http://wisemanweekly.blogspot.com/2011/02/snow-day.html ). Apparently she decided to be a grown up now because she has been doing so well with potty training and taken all of the initiative, that I can't claim to actually be "training" her. I'd say that she is more likely to keep her underwear dry and clean all day long than is Joseph. (He's in that phase of "I'm busy playing or working and don't want to stop to go to the bathroom". It's not that he soaks him daily, just leaks a little, then finally decides that he'll make a trip to the bathroom.) Some incentives seemed to play a small role in her decision to grow up.

1. Only kids who wear underwear get to go to school; and she recently decided that Sarah and Joseph's school is really cool. Today she told me: Mom, I'm ready to go to school now. I want to go today.
This reminds me of my sister Ashley, who supposedly has a very similar potty training story. Incidentally, she is also the 3rd child whose older siblings attended Montessori.

2. Kathryn likes sweets, especially chocolate. We don't normally have much of that around here, so when I offered her an M&M for every time she used the potty and let her taste one so she knew what she was going to get, she was suddenly going every hour or more and never forgot to claim her prize.

For a while I was concerned that it would be difficult to take her on outings because we would need to stop at bathrooms every 45 minutes, but this Sunday she proved her ability to hold it for long periods of time when her personal "froggie" potty isn't available. She has an aversion to full-sized toilets (especially if they're public ones), which could explain why she wasn't interested in sitting on ours or using one before our recent purchase of said "froggie" potty. Anyway, the girl has great bladder control abilities because she went 3 1/2 - 4 hours on Sunday (while we were at church) without an incident. When I tried to take her around the 2 hour mark - thinking surely she couldn't last much long - she flipped out and refused to sit.

So I'm calling her fully trained now and maybe I can move on to other subjects...

Like, did I tell you that Joseph was sick today? (Oh no, not more bodily fluid stories).

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's official, Sarah is going to Kindergarten

This week I completed the paperwork to register Sarah for kindergarten in the fall. She'll most likely be attending the school that is just two blocks from our house in the morning. She'll still go to the Montessori school in the afternoon. It was a difficult decision to make and something that we thought about a lot. Before we even had kids, David and I decided that we wanted to home school our children. As Sarah has grown, we've realized that home school cannot be a pleasant experience for me or for her at this point in time.

While Sarah is in kindergarten, I'm going to see how home schooling goes with Joseph. If it's successful throughout the year, then he'll likely stay home for 1st grade too. We'll see.

Kathryn is going to start attending Montessori in the morning. So that means I'll only have the boys at home in the morning. She has been doing really great this week potty training. Even after being up half the night throwing up a couple of days ago, so still wanted to wear underwear and has had only one accident in 2 days! She told me she's doing it so she can go to "Joseph's school".

School was cancelled today because their teachers were sick, so we made up some school projects to do at home. This is a "Hundred Number Board", similar to what they do at school. They match up the little squares of paper with numbers 1 to 100 on the grid (the cardboard) in order.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Making Progress

It's been an eventful week around our house.

Over the weekend baby David took his first solo steps - 3 on Saturday, then 4 on Sunday. I missed it both times -- I was out and David was home with the kids. He finally walked for me early this week. It was just a few steps and he'll only do it when there's an incentive. Crawling or cruising are still the preferred modes of transportation. He also cut another bottom tooth, which brings the total count up to 7 (4 on top, 3 on bottom). I think he's working on #8 tonight because has has woken up twice already and he's really grumpy. He's also been sleeping better at night, except for when those teeth come through. He sometimes sleeps for 12 hours straight now! You'd think I was getting a lot of sleep now, but there are 3 other kids who often wake up at least once every night too. Sarah likes to get up and dig around in the kitchen for a snack around 3am. She is also prone to nightmares. Joseph wets the bed almost every night. Kathryn...she's my best sleeper right now. She'll sleep for 12 hours straight nearly every night (probably 29/30 nights).

Speaking of Kathryn, she decided over the weekend that she was ready to be a big girl and start using the potty. Previous attempts at potty training have been utter failures because she had no desire to use the toilet or ditch her diapers. Now, she won't even let us put a diaper on her at night. She's done well - today she didn't have any wet accidents. We're still working on getting #2 into the potty..but all in good time. She is doing almost all the work herself. She got a new little potty so that she can "take herself" whenever she wants to...and she does! I think she prefers going alone. We're are fully into the "I can do it myself!" phase. (Yes, she speaks in clear and complete sentences).

Joseph and Sarah got a little guitar this weekend ($5 at a garage sale). They've had fun tinkering around with it and playing alongside their daddy. They took it to school for show and tell this week and got to play on it during singing time there. At school Joseph is making a lot of progress with reading and writing. He surprises me everyday with his ability to read random things around the house or while driving. Sarah reads some too, but mostly she is artistic and will often choose crafts over reading/writing work. Her ability to focus on one task and finish it has increased substantially in past few months as well.

Today I found some babysitters and went to school...to hear David give a lecture / speech on Mario Vargas Llosa (the main subject/author of his dissertation). He spoke for nearly an hour and a half to about 60 students and teachers. He was awesome! I learned a lot of things about Vargas Llosa and it was quite entertaining.

David has been super busy. (What's new, right?) In the next two weeks his To Do list is going to get much shorter. He'll be done with a lot of committee work and other mentoring projects at the college, not to mention the semester ending, and his work load with his second job will decrease substantially too. Until then, he's putting in 12-15 hour work days to get it all done.

We're both looking forward to the summer when he'll be home half of the day and we can finish some projects around the house.

Other good news - I am getting my own brand new laptop!! For FREE! I am going to be teaching an online Spanish course for the college this fall and they are going to provide me with a laptop (owned by the college, of course), to aide me in my work. =) It came in this week so once I have all my accounts set up with HR and IT then I'll be able to use it. I'm so excited. Our current laptop is nearing its 5th birthday and has seen better days. It will be nice to have two computers in the evening too when David and I both need to be working at once.

Ice train

We saw this in McCall, Idaho on our trip home from the funeral in January. I took this picture right before I was pulled over. I guess I accelerated a little too fast going out of the small town (got up to the 55 mph a little too soon)...we were on only 3 hours from home on a 12 hour trip and the kids were getting to "that" point. You know. Anyway, the cop took pity on us and just gave me a verbal warning. Maybe it was because I didn't speed once I hit the 55 zone or maybe because of the 4 crying kids in the car, who knows, but I was grateful.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, April 8, 2011

Updating our new-to-us house

Ignore the dying snowman, just focus on the backyard.
I really love our house - it's the perfect set up for us. There are 4 extra large bedrooms all on a single level. The kids' bathroom is huge and has a skylight to boot! The master bedroom has double closets and a private little deck with a hot tub (that needs to be fixed). David's favorite part is the shop in the back yard with plenty of space for anything a guy could ever want to do out in a shop. We think our yard is the best! It's fenced and private with plenty of room for the kids to run, ride their bikes, AND room for a huge garden. The house is set back from the street in a private little cul-de-sac so there's zero traffic and the only noise we hear is the occasional braying of the sheep next door. We live within walking distance to two grocery stores, a theater, gas station, library, and the CHURCH! Oh yeah, and the family room is over-sized with awesome, huge, passive solar (south facing) windows.
See all those awesome windows? (This is before we finished the floor).
After - the other half of the wall-o-windows.

There are just a few things that I'd like to update though. Can you guess what decade our house was built? I'll give you a few hints...
Exhibit A: Exterior Lights at front door and garage.

Exhibit B: Plain Jane flat panel doors and tiny trim.
The old carpet was sculpted blue.

Exhibit C: BLUE bath tub, blue toilet, and blue sink bowls in the
kids' bathroom with yellowed and stained linoleum.

Exhibit D: Pale blue counter tops and the plainest cabinets
you have ever seen.

Someone was obsessed with blue, I think. A later owner (during the 90's I'll bet) was obsessed with pinks and mauves. We have mauve blinds in all the bedrooms and the "neutral beige" wall paint had a distinct mauve undertone, I swear! There are other lovely things that tell the history of this house, but I don't have pictures of everything. Did you guess it was built in the 80's? 1984 to be exact and it hasn't seen too many updates along the years. The family room / sun is an addition that was added in 1988 (the year was stamped on the floor boards!) The wood laminate in the kitchen and dining areas is over 10 years old, and it sure beats the linoleum that is still underneath - we have remnants of it under the water heater and under the kitchen sink. The master bathroom was remodeled a few years ago to accommodate the previous owner who was mostly confined to a wheel chair. It's modern and clean-feeling, but I'm just not very appreciative of the roll-in shower because being able to easily roll-in a wheel chair means that the water can also easily roll out - and it does, unless we put rolled up towels along the edge. Besides, it also means there's no tub in there. Which leaves just the tub in the kids' bathroom as our only soaking option - it works, but it's tiny, permanently water stained, and blue. 

So, I do love the overall structure of the house, the layout, the yard, etc. but I would like to update a few lot of the little details. Here is one such project that I tackled today:

Before - our exterior lighting. I am beginning to think the person who built this house must have not liked anything fancy. He (or she?) chose the simplest, most plain, and stream-lined fixtures, trim, cabinets, counters, and accessory-type things throughout the whole house.
So, I've been wanting to update these lights (there's one at the front door, and two flanking the garage), since we moved in, but I didn't want to spend $30-50 per light fixture to do it. Well, this week I was browsing around the Salvation Army for something else when I came upon 3 exterior light fixtures! Two of them were identical and the other one was a close match. I snatched them up and was thrilled to find out they only wanted $2.50 each for these babies:
Isn't that awesome?! This is one of the twin/matching lights. Well, I had plans for these things. Sure, the white and brass was an improvement over what we had, but I thought I could improve on them. Meet my new friend, Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint:
It's great stuff if you ask me. I've used it on a few door knobs and a chandelier that I'll show you soon. This afternoon while the babies napped and the older kids were in school, I got busy washing down that fixture and taking it apart. Then I covered all the metal parts with a few coats of paint, let it dry, and installed it. (It was soooo easy to install!)
And now, here is one of our new exterior lights

The is the one next to the front door - so it's the odd one, but looked very similar to the others (white with brass). I think it looks much classier now, don't you? I just need to find some exterior house paint to touch up around the corners.

So, for less than $10, I'm going to have new looking light fixtures. =) I'm happy about that, especially since I stare right at this light fixture from the window across from my kitchen sink.

Another before:

And After:

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sarah is Five!

Sarah turned five on March 17th. The first thing she wanted to do was open her presents.

Around lunch time we had a picnic at the park with all her friends from church and school. Here are just a couple of them. There were probably close to 20 kids there (including all the younger siblings).

For dinner she had her favorite: egg burritos with cheese. Her birthday cake was pink (strawberry flavor) with pink (cherry) frosting and sprinkles. (I'll post pictures of the cake / candle blowing out stuff as soon I get them off the other camera).

Sarah is very energetic, she always bouncing around and it seems like when she is supposed to be still that her little spirit is just aching to wiggle around. She is extremely out-going and friendly. Sarah has a ready smile for everyone that she meets. She loves to sing and dance, paint, draw, color, play dress up, and all other sorts of imaginative games of young girls. She is always the mom when playing house and usually can be found with a doll up her shirt. Sarah is very compassionate - when she sees someone hurt or sad she rushes to their side, eager to comfort them (as long as she didn't cause the pain/problem). She adores baby David and likes to "take care of him", but she's still a little young to understand that putting him on the couch and walking away isn't really a good thing, even when he "wanted" to be up there. 

Sarah is very smart! She likes to hide it sometimes, but she has an excellent memory. She can recite several poems, has more than 25 Primary songs and probably 20 school songs memorized, knows all the books in the New Testament, can identify each continent and many countries therein, and can read and write at a Kindergarten+ level. She has recently gone through a growth spurt - she's tall and slender, but she is solid and weighs around 42 pounds.

We love our Sarah! She keeps us on our toes and brings a lot of excitement and enthusiasm to our home. 

She is adventurous, always willing to try new things. Here she is getting ready to try rock climbing at a birthday party for a friend.

Here's a look back over the years.

March 17, 2006

July 2006 in her blessing dress.
(Sorry it's sideways, I'm not in the mood to fix the file tonight).

March 17, 2007 - Happy 1st Birthday

Birthday cake
(I know, she doesn't have a shirt, but I thought that would be easier to just put her in the bath afterward, 
since her hair would be covered in frosting too.)

March 2008 - Age 2 (Hooray for hair!)
Spring 2009 - Age 3
(Kathryn - 7 months, Joseph - 2 1/2)

March 2010 - Age 4

Sept 2010 - Age 4 1/2
(Baby David - 6 months)
Early March 2011 - before she cut off all her hair.
(She is also responsible for those bangs).

Happy Birthday Sarah!