Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas Shopping

It's actually the after-Christmas shopping.

The older kids told me they don't want to buy toys with the gift Grandma sent them for Christmas. Solomon wants to save it up to buy something BIG. Valerie can't decide what she wants most. It changes from day to day, but it seems to focus on food. Pizza and burritos frequently top the list.

So I took the little ones out shopping this morning...FINALLY!

Mary was so excited to get this beautiful dress, which is also a bank. And it came with a bunch of Lisa Frank stickers, tattoos, mini notepads, hair clips, etc.

It didn't take her long to spread it out across North America and Europe!

And Mathew's two great passions are cars and robots. He ran straight for this awesome toy which is everything he loves. It's a car, robot and it's RED! Even better, he got to pay for it by himself and carry it out in a bag all by himself.

Sam had to settle for what I picked out for him. He's extremely fascinated by music and is finally getting good at NOT hitting himself in the face with his toys. So this little camera that talks and sings seemed like a good choice for him.

And when we got home he loved it. He only cried when he pushed it too far beyond his reach.
Thank you Grandma!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Recent Silliness

Mary found a package of stickers and had fun. She blamed it on Mathew. And, Mathew did help after Mary showed him how to maximize the fun with the stickers.

Solomon wanted to help his baby brother but it made him scream. So he just played with him. Eventually, all the dots fell off on their own.

Solomon and Valerie had a little program with their classes a little before Thanksgiving. They recited poems, sang songs and below is pic from their totem pole dance. It was pretty cool.

Mathew especially enjoyed the dessert that night. No waiting for dad to show up with a fork. He knows how to take care of business.

I love how Mary tries to play Battleship. The person who makes the prettiest picture with the pegs, wins!

You wouldn't know this is a shot of the same room, from a different angle. How can it look so clean over here?

Can I brag about Solomon for a minute? He is the best big brother. All the kids try to help Sammy when he's crying and Mommy can't get to him fast enough. Solomon is the only one I don't have to rescue Sammy from when he helps.

Someone found a package of Kool Aid and painted!

This might be a new Thanksgiving tradition. Silly string on the trampoline!

Mary is Five!

Mary had her fifth birthday just after Thanksgiving.

This year she opted for a family party at Chuck E Cheese rather than a friend party at home. I kind of missed the fun and excitement of having a bunch of friends playing games and pretending to eat the cake and ice cream. But, I really loved the ease of planning this party.

Mary shared her Chuck E Cheese party with her cousin who turned five a week before she did.

Unfortunately, the only pictures I got were of Mathew playing on stuff there and of the girls opening presents.

That Fur Real puppy (below) is the present Valerie picked out for Mary. Do you see her face? Valerie picked out what she wanted most in the hopes that her sister would share it with her. And she does. So everybody wins!

On the morning of her birthday Mary finally got to open the presents from Mom and Dad. She told me she LIKES the pictures where she's covering her face.

And later she helped decorate her birthday cake. When looking through the cake pans she selected the bunny. She loves bunnies she says. I had no idea.

Doesn't this picture wish you had some of her cake?

She loved it. It was an extended celebration for a girl who loves being center stage.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tiger Cruise

It's a little bit of an understatement to say that Solomon had the time of his life on a Tiger Cruise.

He had the opportunity to join his Grandpa and Uncle Paul on the last leg of Uncle Paul's deployment. Grandpa and Solomon flew out to Hawaii and then rode back to San Diego on the USS Boxer.

While in Hawaii Solomon picked out shirts for everyone in the family. I was a little nervous when he told me about this--hoping Grandpa and Grandma were texting each other to get the sizes right, but, no... No one helped him pick the sizes. And, amazing, they ALL FIT!

They had lots of tours and fun activities.

It was a little disconcerting to have my son so far away without being able to talk with him. But it was such a great opportunity. A whole week on a Navy boat. I think Aaron was more jealous of the Navy trip than the visit to Hawaii.

I had an interesting conversation with my dad about the trip. Here's an ad libbed version of it.

Dad: There was a retired Admiral on the Tiger Cruise that was very impressed with Solomon.
Me: Huh? Oh, because he was so polite?
Dad: Well, I guess there was that.
Me: Oh.
Dad: They had several conversations and he was very impressed with Solomon.
Me: Huh? (I'm so eloquent) What did they talk about?
Dad: They just talked. (He's getting flustered, now) Solomon was able to hold a good conversation with him.
Me: Oh, were they talking about video games?
Dad: No! (Frustrated, now) They just talked. Solomon has some (big pause) interesting views on things.
Me: Okay. Cool!

My dad repeated several times how impressed this Admiral was with Solomon. Sometime I think it would be interesting to see how this kid is when I'm not around. So far, I'm pretty impressed with what I do see in him.

Now, some pictures.

Here's Solomon holding a big gun that makes a big boom.

On deck:

Satellites sort of stuff 

Solomon on his rack in the berthing area (it's where he slept)

Peeking through a small Alice in Wonderland.

Grandpa holding a big gun...

Solomon and Uncle Paul

Solomon with a marine helmet

Another big gun, next to a big plane

More cool stuff

Wearing Marine gear...super awesome and super heavy.

Another gun...

From Solomon (italics are from Uncle Paul): My favorite things on the USS Boxer cruise was Sumo Wrestling, Big Glove Boxing, ice cream socials, pizza night, and my favorite was seeing Uncle Paul. I got to watch two movies, Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides and The Sandlot. They were both funny.

At the mess hall the food was good or bad, but they always had Rice!!! Breakfast was good because of the bacon.

On the Boxer I got tours of the boat. I got to see chaff which is a missile countermeasure, engineering, the bridge, medic and A.I.M.D. (the logistical part of air department) I got to see an air show (demonstration) that had Harriers (AV-8B Harriers), (AH-1) Sea Cobra helicopters, UH-1 Huey (Iriquois) and (CH-53 E Super Stallions) Blackout from Transformers. He didn’t transform.
I got to hold guns like the M-16, two types of grenade launchers, bazooka (rocket launcher) and a javelin missile launcher. He also held an M4-A1 (the M16’s replacement) with M203 grenade launcher attachment, a .50-cal machine gun, a 20mm cannon, 61mm mortar, 7.62mm sniper rifle, 7.62mm Saw (Squad Automatic Weapon), 20 gauge Shotgun, Riot Gear, Flak (“bullet proof vest”), Kevlar (“bullet proof helmet”), NVG’s (night vision goggles), stood on the back of a Howitzer, sat in the navigators seat of an LCAC (landing craft air cushion), sat in the driver seat of an LAV armed with a 20mm cannon (LAV = Light Armored Vehicle), sat in the back of a 7-ton (large troop mover) that can haul a howitzer, and a myriad of other items I can’t remember unless I’m looking at the photos

I got to learn some Army time. NAVY!!!!!!! Army doesn’t have moving bases!!!! Their mail is delivered on time, and they have internet on their own computers, we don’t have those!!!!

I learned the Marines get all the good cereal, make the mess hall line huge, and use up most of the water taking showers.

I learned that the boat makes nice pure water from the salty sea water. (and that it tastes disgusting)

I learned how the boats play leap frog. A group of boats line up for refueling or loading supplies.

To load boxes of supplies they put a few boxes in a net and have a Blackout-type helicopter pick up the net and then drop it off on the boat. They sling-load pallets loaded in nets usually by a MH-60s Sea Hawk (one of our SAR search and rescue) ACFT, some RAS (replenishment at sea) ships have their own ACFT, sometimes MH-60’s, others may have a French made Puma. CH-53’s are Not used, their down draft is too great it can lift over 20,000 pounds externally but there are more preferred methods for moving something that usually gets built to weigh only 2,000 lbs. (ie the pallets are loaded so what gets put into a net weighs a total of 2k, light, manageable, etc)

To load fuel on a boat they shoot a plastic bullet (metal weight) with orange string connected to it from our boat to their boat. And then the other boat slides another rope onto the orange string back to us. The new rope (line) has a (another line, connected to a bigger line connected to a braided wire rope which has pulleys for the) refueling hose. Once it gets to us we connect it and refuel. When they’re all done they just pull back the rope on the refueling thing and also remove the bullet (weight).

I realized how much the US Navy and the Marines work to protect us. Their life is a little bad because their showers are half the size of ours, sometimes missing the knobs. And they’re squished most of the time at night. Unless you’re night crew. Then they’re squished in their bed during the day.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cove Fort Days

Earlier this month was Cove Fort Days. Aunt Barbara called up my mom and asked if she wanted to come down. So Grandma took some of her grandkids (including Solomon) and picked up her sister and they headed out to Cove Fort.

I decided to be brave and take four kids (including a tiny baby). I wasn't sure if the kids would enjoy it. They've never been interested much when I've taken them to historical sites in the past, no matter how cool they are. But, I was desperate to get out of the house. And having the kids locked down in carseats for a couple hours didn't seem like a bad idea.

Overall, it was a hot but very good day.

So here we are playing at Cove Fort Days.

There were lots of displays about pioneer life. This one is a beehive. Even the girls were up close admiring it. I just didn't have my camera ready, yet.

These chickens were so tame my kids got to pet them.

They each took turns using this cool tool to drill a hole through the wood. This man was so patient, helping each child do this.

Here's Mary with a limberjack.

Valerie wanted to try to play the banjo. They had several instruments they let everyone try.

There were several displays of different things, like clothes, foods, herbs, etc. One even had medical instruments from the 1800s. Scary. But, interestingly, Valerie was completely fascinated with it.

And wagon rides! We got to go through the dusty fields with cousins.

 Mary and Mathew were so excited to be with Grandma. And I was so disappointed that I did not get one picture with Aunt Barbara. Guess I'm going to have to visit her again sometime.

And they had this wagon put out just for pictures, which was really nice.

It turned out to be a pretty good day. And Sam handled it pretty well. He was a little hot and cranky. But when I laid him on a blanket in the shade he was happy.

And we did enough that nearly everyone slept on the way home. Except the driver....obviously.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Solomon's 11th Birthday

Solomon turned 11 this year. He left the Cub Scouts and has now entered Boy Scouts. And he is super excited about his new tan uniform.

Solomon likes to brag that his birthday is the same day that man first walked on the moon. I always have to point out he's not actually that old (I'm not even that old). His birthday is the same as the anniversary for the first walk on the moon.

We blew up balloons for his party and tossed a bunch on the trampoline. The kids had lots of fun jumping with the balloons. This was our activity while we waited for guests to arrive. Turned out pretty popular.

 Tip: If you're blowing up more than two balloons, try using your electric air pump to inflate the balloons. Some balloons have to be stretched first, but it's still so much easier and faster and you don't get light headed....

Solomon wanted a water-themed party. So we put up the slip n slide and ruined the grass at the bottom of the hill. It was so worth it, though. Like Aaron says, "We're raising kids, not grass."

We also had a water fight.

Somewhere in all of this we also did snow cones and hot dogs and hamburgers and watermelon.

Then of course, cake and ice cream.

I was worn out at the end of the party. But, after this we still went to the Payson pool for more swimming! Yeah! It was pretty fun day.