Thursday, July 31, 2008
This was a scary view-sending my boys up the mountain dangling from a string with no parental supervision...
Near the end of our trip, Matt made a rope swing for the kids and it was a huge hit.
The tree that the swing was tied to was on a steep hill so you could touch the ground near the tree to get on but when you swung out, you were nowhere near it. It freaked the kids out a little bit but it added to the fun.
Ooooh, I either need a new camera or a photography class or both...
I think we can officially say goodbye to Jackson's puppy phase. He was such a good dog on the trip! He loves to be outside and hike trails with us.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Another thing that has helped this year was limiting 'plugged in' time. The kids are only allowed to watch tv or play computer or video games between 3 and 5 pm. For the rest of the day, they have to do something else, anything else. This was hard to enforce at first but worth it in the end. Instead of waking up and vegging out in front of the tv in pajamas until noon each day, they are enjoying spending time together as brothers and sister and just being kids. They play games together, walk the dog, do crafts, build forts in the playroom, or make 'hotels' for their toy animals, etc. I'm convinced it is better for their brains and aside from Taylor and Audrey's need to torment each other for a small portion of each day it has brought peace to our home.
Another thing that has to be a factor is the kids' ages. Now that they are all getting older, there is certainly a different dynamic at work than there has been in the past. It is really cool to be able to sit and play a board game with all of your children, especially when there are enough of them to play any game and they are old enough to actually provide some competition. They are also much more helpful than they have ever been. One day last week, I was going through the playroom and they all joined in and helped to clean and organize it. It was as if my efforts grew five fold and it went fast and looked great when we were done. All of the kiddos even joined in last week when I was canning peaches. The canning process doesn't always go smoothly. Depending on the quality and cooperation of the fruit, mood I'm in, etc. it can be either heaven or hell but this time it was perfect. Taylor made the syrup and blanched the peaches. Noah and Audrey skinned them and Xander was happy to supervise. All that I had to do was cut and pit the peaches and get the jars in and out of the canner. So easy! Here are some pics of my kitchen crew:
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Matt and I have come a long way in our Mandarin skills but there is an infinitely longer way to go yet before we even approach becoming fluent. Case in point: the opportunity I had when we were in CA to have a chat in Mandarin with the Chinese language teacher at my mom's school. She asked me what my name was in Chinese (Ni jiao shenme mingzi?) and I answered in Chinese (Wo jiao Jenn.) That's about all I had. I didn't even follow up with a 'ni ne?' (and you?) I only managed to eek out a 'Hen gao xing ren shi ni' (nice to meet you) and a 'zai jian' (goodbye) and that was pretty much the extent of the conversation. Hundreds of dollars and a year's worth of Mandarin classes later, that's all I could manage-what a dork I am!
It would be great to have a friend or neighbor that speaks Mandarin right about now. When I was in college working on my Spanish minor, a friend of ours married a girl from Spain and they moved into our apartment building. I helped her learn English and she helped me with my Spanish. At one point, I was able to spend hours on end with her and function using only Spanish, speak Spanish exclusively to my Spanish-speaking coworkers, wait tables in Spanish, write 10 page papers in Spanish, etc. Something similar will have to happen if I'm going to be able to progress any further with my Chinese.
Living in the Old Pueblo doesn't lend itself too well to opportunities to practice Mandarin. Last Friday, Matt and I went out to what we thought was the most authentic Chinese restaurant around hoping to have an opportunity to practice. We asked our waiter if he spoke Mandarin. Nope, Vietnamese. Well, we tried. The next time we go to LA, I'm going to try to spend a day in Chinatown and try to function using only Chinese. With my luck, everyone there probably speaks Cantonese!
In the meantime, I've been trying to teach the kids a little Mandarin and Xander seems to be the one picking it up the quickest. He even gets the tones! I caught him chastising the dog the other day in Chinese by yelling, 'bu hao!' (not good!) That's my boy!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Monday, July 07, 2008
We had a wonderful 4th of July weekend complete with the 3 F's-Family, Food and Fireworks. We started the morning with a wonderful breakfast and patriotic performances at church, then a brief walk around a desert arboretum-type place that is near our home. We veged out for most of the afternoon, then despite the ominous clouds overhead, picked up chicken and headed to local park for fireworks. The pic above is pretty sad but what we were trying to capture was the simultaneous lightning show that we experienced with our fireworks. It was as if Mother Nature was competing with the fireworks and based on the onlookers responses, she was winning!
On Saturday, we headed up to the mountains for some relief from the heat and a hike.
Here are some pics:
Typical Xander pose.
Audrey's turn for dog duty. Since this photo was snapped after he had already played in the creek, you can probably only tell from looking at his head but we ran out of dog shampoo and used Pantene instead for Jackson's last bath and it was amazing! His fur was so soft and shiny that he looked blue in the sunshine. I think we may use it from now on!
The whole crew on lunch break.
I didn't get any great pics of Taylor on the hike so I took the camera back out once we got back to the car only to find that he was 'watering a bush.' I threatened to take the picture anyway but only got him fleeing the scene.
I hope that you and yours had a wonderful holiday weekend! We certainly feel blessed to enjoy the freedoms that we do in this nation and are grateful to those who serve at home and abroad to ensure those freedoms for us!!!