Sunday, April 3, 2011

Habitat Diorama

First grade has been a challenge. No longer can you get by with "baby kindergarten stuff". You have to work. You have to be diligent. You have to actually learn stuff. Some "stuff" you are expected to learn are the various habitats of the world. In order to facilitate the learning process the wonderful teachers at Candeo gave the girls a project wherein they were required to pick a habitat and construct a diorama from the facts they learned in class supplemented with outside sources (Mom does not count as an outside source - I told you 1st grade was tough.)

Here is Liv with her finished tropical rainforest. She did all the work herself.

A close up of the palm trees (donated from our bathtub dinosaur toys), newly purchased tiger and jaguar (yes we know it's a cheetah but we couldn't find a jaguar and are counting on other 1st graders not being able to tell the difference), a hand crafted butterfly (they grow them big in the rain forests) and bushes also made from play-dough and painted by a well-known artist (namely Livvy).

Nice bushes, no?

Here is Ellie with her Deciduous forest diorama. (And a Harkins movie cup)

She too painted everything with no help from me. We did buy the various frolicking forest animals, however they are set off nicely by the dead foliage and shredded moss she added.

Frolicking animals.

After much hard work I allowed them some much needed free time which included some very special wii time as they had not been allowed to play "in forever."

So with their completed projects in hand they came to me very seriously and instructed me to take pictures and send them to grandpa the great as he is a true artist and thus the only one fully able to appreciate their God-given talent. Apparently it skips a generation - or two. Ouch.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The girls are now 7 and we are finally in a position to let them try some extra-curricular activities. They wanted soccer so soccer it was.

Brock and the girls approach the field for their first game ever.

This is what they were up against. No fear!

Hurry up and wait. I would like to say they were sizing up the competition but mostly they complained that it was too hot. 90 degrees at 8:30 in the morning. Welcome to soccer in the desert. (Perhaps not one of my better ideas.)

The game started and all doubts vanished. Soccer is fun!!! The girls were timid in the beginning and mostly stood around while we yelled from the side lines. (Apparently I am that parent.) Once they figured out what they were supposed to do (take the ball away from the other team - I know it doesn't sound nice but really, it's the point) they stepped up and did their best.

Ellie coming in for a water break.

Liv's water break.

Brock and I had so much fun watching, cheering, and yelling incredibly helpful things that we forgot to take picture of the actual game.

Unfortunately they were not victorious. They lost 0-5 but there was improvement in the second half and everyone had fun. Here is the team with their coach who is a really great guy. We didn't know him at all and we really lucked out.

The girls were so tired by the end of the game but they had a blast.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Service Continued

So we have wrapped up our Grayson "summer of service" and it was a wild success.  I am so please with how everything went that I just might do it again.

Yesterday we went to clean the church.  Despite the grumbles I endured earlier there were none when the big day came.  None!  And I didn't even have to threaten their little lives!  I'm so proud.  We finished our dinner here at home, got our shoes on, and left in the middle of a monsoon heading towards the church.  The kids were a huge help.  They went through the chapel collecting trash and straightening up in the pews and then they went to each and every classroom to empty the waste baskets.  They didn't complain.  They didn't fight.  They didn't run away to play chase up and down the hall ways.  They worked diligently until it was done.  I am so proud of the work they did.

Our final project was making lunches for a women's/children's shelter.  I bought some plain, white lunch bags and zoo stickers so the kids could personalize each bag.  This was the result of our Family Home Evening project.

Our Stickers

Stickers and Bags - A Beginning

After much concentration...

unfailing diligence...

and some hard, hard work...

we were done.  Here are some examples of the masterpieces that were created.




The next step in the process was stuffing baggies with carrots...  

and apples.

I really felt like all of the food groups should be represented - fruit, vegetables, meat/protein, grain, and fruit snacks.  This is the only part the process the kids grew a bit bored with.  They hung in there till the end though.  Even Ashton stayed for all the hard work.  Of course that could be because he sat in the middle and was effectively trapped.

I set up the staging areas...

And we got to work.  At first our "to do" pile was much bigger...

than our "done" pile.

But we persevered.

Always working with a smile.

And our "to do" pile got smaller...

and smaller...

and smaller.

And we kept smiling...

as our "done" pile got bigger...

and bigger.

Eventually, as with all things, we came to the end.  We were very sad.

But proud of all the work we had done.

Once everything was put in bags the kids helped me pack it all in boxes and carry everything to the car.  We then drove down to the shelter and they helped me unload.  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of those things because I was loading and carrying as well.  The lack of pictures, though, is in no way indicative of less work.  In fact, I think they worked harder towards the end in stifling heat.  There was no complaining, no tears, no abject refusals.  These kids were awesome.  And, as if that were not enough, my girls came to me at the end of the day and suggested that we give their old backpacks to some kids who maybe don't have any.  

I joke quite a bit about my kids but the truth is that I have been richly blessed.  Blessed beyond my imaginings with kind, empathetic, good children who have spent the last couple weeks making their world a little bit better.  The strength of their spirits astound me.  I am better because of them.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I don't matter...

Now, before you start sending me notes about how I do matter and how I shouldn't off myself just because we have reached ridiculously high temperatures and I'm fairly certain I saw a tree burst into flame for no apparent reason... please, read on.

Ellie:  I don't matter which popsicle I get.  I just get which one is familiar to me.

Here is some background.  

Nap time had just ended and the girls decided they would like a popsicle.  Liv grabbed hers and Ellie walked over to the box, looked in at the 3 red ones left and grabbed one.

This begs the question.  What went on in those few seconds?

"Yes.  You.  Popsicle.  I know you.  We have met before."  

Cue evil maniacal laughter and fade to black. (as the popsicle was eaten and we are a G rated blog.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Our summer so far...

I think it is quite amazing that I am posting this before the summer is over.  Too bad they don't give out prizes for this sort of thing.  

We have had a pretty fun summer so far.  It has only started to get ridiculously hot the past couple weeks so our mornings have been around 90 degrees or so and playing outside is not only possible but pleasant.  This first picture isn't an outside shot but it is of Ashton playing with his best friend Cade.  They are so cute together.  They will run up to each other, legs pumping, arms flapping, and stop nose to nose narrowly avoiding a head on collision.  They will then exchange pleasantries.  

"Hi Cade."
"Hi Ashy"

And then the fun starts.  Notice they are both wearing the newest styles in shoes.

Ashton also turned 3.  Unfortunately none of my pictures turned out so you will have to trust me on this.  It was wonderful.  Cars themed with the real Lightning McQueen making a cameo.  There was also a balloon artist that could do all the disney characters, a mime (because what party is complete without one?) a helicopter ride and a not so brief jaunt to the moon where we raised the Ashton flag.  Typical 3 year old party really. The kids were really tired by the end of the day.

We have also begun the Grayson "Summer of Service".  We started small.  Simply choose a family member's name from a hat and you have a week to perform service for that person.  At the end of the week we tried to guess who had our name.  Ellie had Livvy and spent the week making her bed and taking care of her water glass.  I had Ellie and I also made the bed but added in a room clean here and there.  Livvy had daddy and made an extra effort to run to him at the end of every day and give him his welcome home hug.  Bigger than ever before.  Ashton had me.  He put his diapers in the pail so I wouldn't have to get near the nastiness.  Thank you Ashton.  Daddy had Ashton and he made sure all of Ashton's dirty cloths made it in the laundry room.  It was a great week and everyone had a really fun time.

The next week we branched out to our friends.  The girls picked the Allen's to serve and wanted to bring them dinner and pick up their toy room.  Broccoli soup, lasagna and homemade bread were the menu items of choice and Wednesday was the day chosen.  The kids helped with the soup and the lasagna.  Both turned out really well.  I called ahead to make sure the Allen's would be home and we headed over.  The kids filed in the house and marched (with only a little prompting) upstairs.  Ashton and I hit the toy room and the girls cleaned up their friend Kyra's room.  On the ride home they let me know they didn't have any fun at all but I think they were still secretly happy to be helping.  Deep down.  Really deep down.

Next on our list were our neighbors.  We made these (caterpillar cupcakes in case you couldn't tell) for our neighbors.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, only 2 of our neighbors were home so we had a lot of cupcakes to eat.  Oh well.  It's the thought that counts right?

Ellie with her cupcakes

Livvy with her cupcakes

Our final two challenges are cleaning the church and making sandwiches for a battered women's/children's shelter.  I'll have to take copious pictures and tell you all about it.  I don't really have high hopes for cleaning the church building as the grumbles have already started and we are not schedule for another 2 weeks.  But, I think the sandwich making has serious potential.  It was difficult finding a community service project in the dead of summer that is appropriate for small children.  This should work?  I'll let you know.

Finally, after all the fun was had Brock and I have stretched out to take a minute for ourselves.  We've earned it right?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mom vs. Dad

As a parent you quickly learn your strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes I will be better at something than Brock - cooking for instance.  And other times it is the other way around.  For example, Brock is much better at being a monster at the park and chasing small children around, they don't even have to be ours.  

I am better at finding things.  A typical conversation could go like this...

Ashton:  Blankie.
Mom:  Look down.

or this...

Brock:  We're out of salsa.
Me:  It's on the second shelf.
Brock:  No, it's gone.  I don't see it.
Me:  Move the mayo.
Brock:  Oh.

Brock is better at fixing the car.  Not that he actually gets on the ground and fixes it himself but he always takes it in for the things it may need.  Except gas.  I can do gas.  (That didn't come out exactly like I would have liked it to.)  Brock also washes my car for me.  Always.  I love that about him.

I am better keeping the house and all who reside in it organized.

One place where I can't touch dad on the good, better, best scale is the pool. Dad rocks the pool.  Mom gets out of the way.

If you look at the picture carefully you will notice Livvy is holding onto dad's shoulders from behind while Ellie is sitting on his shoulders holding onto his face.

Ashton got too cold. He doesn't like to fly anyway.

Grayson Family