Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

Dear Friends and Family,

If you read the blog or follow on Facebook, none of this will be news to you. Nevertheless, some traditions die hard and we feel the need yet again to sum up our year in a page and subject you all to it…:)

Matt’s International assignment at work that had him so excited this time last year ended up taking him to the exotic locations of Salt Lake City, UT and Atlanta, GA. To make up for the lack of adventure, this Spring he dove into a tank of sharks and rescued 2 people from drowning. We were at a Disney water park but the danger and the sharks were very real! To prove that his rescue skills weren’t a fluke, the very next day he used the Heimlich maneuver to save Xander, who now agrees that a hot dog is more than a two-bite endeavor… Matt enjoys serving as the Young Men’s president at church and all of the dutch-oven cooking, fishing, boating, and sail
plane adventures that have come along with it this year. In his spare time, you can find him puking, I mean sweating his way through P90X.

Jenn’s 2011 hobbies have included working through Dave Ramsey’s baby steps (slowly), elevating couponing to the level of contact sport, and amateur photography. Jenn teaches the 10 and 11 year olds at church and traded leading Xander’s Tiger den for Noah’s Webelos in the Fall. Lowlights of the year were a 45 minute adventure capturing and removing a frog from the bedroom and going almost 2 weeks without a stove/oven. Highlights were a Spring visit from Mom, Dad and Grandma (who hadn’t been on an airplane for 31 years!), touching Pat Monahan at the Train concert, and a visit to California (with no kids!) in November.

Taylor (16) was thrilled to have visits from two of his Tucson friends-Kyle Kadous and family in January, and Nathan Young and family during the summer. In July, Taylor and Matt headed to New Mexico for a two week, 100 mile survival hike at Philmont Scout Ranch. Taylor seriously loves his 5 AP classes, taking his metal detector to the beach, eating cereal by the box and
seminary-induced afternoon napping. He recently went on his first date-the Usher and Akon concert with his mom…

Audrey (13) got braces on this year. She loves babysitting, dogsitting and meeting her friends for pizza every Monday after school. For her YW project, she made scrapbooks for herself and each of her siblings that hold all of their school-related keepsakes. Audrey’s favorite summer activity was going to Adventure Island Water Park with friends. She loves her flat iron, Featherlocks and has made the definitive decision that she would like to be proposed to in a gazebo.

Noah (10) recently revealed that when he is stressed out, he visualizes himself in his ‘happy
place’-sitting in science class doing an experiment. He’s made sure that we made good use of our
annual passes to Kennedy Space Center this year and enjoyed attending a presentation by Bill Nye The Science Guy. He also enjoyed attending Webelos Scout Camp this summer and growing carrots in pots on the pool deck. He was bummed that due to cloud cover, we had to watch the final Space Shuttle launch on TV instead of from the front yard.

Xander (8) played soccer this year, lost his first tooth via the doorknob method, and grew his hair out ‘like Justin Bieber.’ That lasted a few months until he announced that he was ready to cut it all off and go back to ‘nerd hair.’ (Glad to know there is a name for mom’s home haircuts…) Xander was baptized in September and was very happy that Grandma Debbie and Cousin Thorin were able to be there. Xander is enjoying being a Wolf in cub scouts and portrayed a fabulous Orville Wright for his Halloween boo-ography report at school.

Meili (3.5) has declared that Daddy is her ‘best friend ever!’ and is enjoying her first year of preschool at Fishhawk Early Learning Center where she has earned the nickname, ‘The Cleaner.’ She has mastered the scooter, finally grown out of size 18 months clothing, and can sing just about any song that Ryan Seacrest plays. Meili enjoys painting Matt’s toenails, playdates with friends at the fountains and the park, and stealing gum out of Audrey’s purse. She was a pumpkin for Halloween and so it makes perfect sense to her that she should be Tinkerbell for Christmas.

We wish our friends and family near and far a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012!

With Love,-Matt, Jenn, Taylor, Audrey, Noah, Xander & Meili Bouton

Monday, November 21, 2011

So Excited to Be a Part of This!

The Petunia Picklebottom pictured up there looks very familiar and it makes me very happy that after months (years?) of being pack safely away in a closet, it will finally be put to some good use! I feel like I need to begin with a disclaimer that I would not normally be a TWO Picklebottom woman under normal circumstances but waiting for a child for almost 4 years is not normal circumstances and the referral wait made me do some crazy things and stress shopping was just one of them. The second diaper bag was never used and I hadn't been able to figure out just what to do with it-that was until I found out about the fundraising opportunity at this fabulous blog The fundraiser will benefit several organizations that are near and dear to our hearts. We count our blessings every day that our referral wait had such a happy ending. My hope is that through this awesome fundraiser the extra diaper bag will help bring some joy to an orphan in China while they wait for a happy ending of their own...

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Preschool Update

Meili continues to do amazingly well in preschool. Her teachers tell me that she has earned the nickname, 'The Cleaner' since she is content to continue to clean the classroom long after the other children have moved on to other activities. She is so excited to go to preschool and wakes up each morning hoping that it is a preschool day. She comes home talking about everything that she did there, and enjoys playing with her friends, Cohen and Luke. Interesting to me that her two best buddies so far are boys. I wonder if that has anything to do with having 3 brothers???

At Meili's back to school day, we learned that there is a Maile in her class. Her teachers are calling her Mei-Mei, probably because that is what they hear me call her when I drop her off-but also to avoid confusion. Last week, it was Meili's turn to bring home the All About Me book that has a page in it about each of the children in her class. Funny coincidence that Maile is also Asian and also has the middle name 'Grace.'

Meili's page is above. Not sure why it is sideways here but good to know that she is indeed talking to her teachers, at least enough to give her cute little short answers to their questions...:)

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Xander

Some days motherhood has me overwhelmed with dishes and laundry and places to be. Today I'm just overwhelmed with how lucky I am to be a mom.

Can you even stand the cuteness?!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Court of Honor

So proud of our Taylor! He was awarded his Eagle about two years ago, which is a great accomplishment but he continues to 'Do His Best' in scouting and is still earning awards. At tonight's court of honor, he earned the Denali award which is the highest achievement that a Varsity scout can earn. He also earned his 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Eagle Palms. He has a goal to earn each of the Boy Scout merit badges and has about 60 of them so far. He earned 16 more tonight. Almost there!

Friday, September 16, 2011

More Florida "Fun"

I was playing with Meili on her bedroom floor the other day when I heard a large 'thud.' I looked toward the direction of the sound to find this delightful creature. The picture does not do it justice. The thing was no less than 4 inches long! I wish I would have thought to put a ruler next to him before I snapped the photo but I'm actually surprised that I had the presence of mind to grab the camera. This is the kind of thing I would expect to see in a science museum, not in my daughter's bedroom! I trapped it under a toy bin while I tried to figure out how I was going to get rid of it. My usual 'smacking it with a flip-flop' method was not going to work in this case. I ended up taking it to the park across the street and hacking it in half with a shovel. When I left him, the two halves were still walking independently of one another. The bug guy came the next day and I showed him this picture on my camera. He called it a Stinking Cockroach and said that it is really rare to see one at all, let alone in a house. I really hope I heard him correctly and this stinking cockroach is not actually a stinGing cockroach!

Two days later, I was sewing in my living room and heard another 'thud.' When I looked, I found another uninvited guest.

I might actually think this guy was cute IF I SAW HIM OUTSIDE. The next 45 minutes pretty much sucked. My first reaction was to grab the camera and capture the novelty of the occasion. Then, I started to get concerned that he would hop somewhere that I couldn't catch him and then I'd lose track of him only to be surprised by him when he landed on my face in the middle of the night. I thought I could catch him in the same bin I used to catch the amazon cockroach until I observed that he could jump about 12 feet at a time and became completely grossed out. My next inclination was to go and close my bedroom door so that if the frog remained loose in the house I could at least breathe easy in my own bedroom. In trying to do that, I only succeeded to chase him INTO MY BEDROOM. At about that time my mom called and was entertained by my hunting prowess. I got off the phone with her and went for the pool skimmer. FYI, it is not easy to maneuver a 10 foot pole in a 12 x 12 bedroom filled with furniture. Exasperated, I called Matt at work and begged him to beam himself home and catch the damn frog.

I kept him on the phone while he drove and I had a staring contest with the frog who seemed to get a kick out of making me scream each time it hopped to a new vantage point in my bedroom. At one point, he tried to hop up a wall and fell to the floor. I had a straight shot and got him with the pool net. Thankfully, he hopped himself into a tangled mess in it and I could get him outside. What an ordeal! I hate wildlife!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Happy Moon Festival!

I have to tell you-If I ranked holidays by ease of preparation, this would be my favorite! We have been celebrating Autumn Moon Festival-'Bouton Style' for about six years now and we love it! We usually pick up Chinese take out for dinner, but have been known to make spaghetti and call it Longevity Noodles. After dinner, we eat Moon Pies (suppposed to be moon cakes, but we don't have an Asian bakery anywhere nearby, and if I made them, not sure the kids would eat them anyway) and go outside and look at the full moon. Sometimes I read the kids the story of Cheng Er from the Moonbeams and Dragonboats book. So easy, so fun!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bucs Game

Matt scored some free tickets to the Buccaneers game this weekend and treated Noah to a great father-son day. This is the first time in a long time that we have lived anywhere near a pro football team. They had a great time, even though it was HOT. We'll have to go as a family sometime.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy 16th Birthday, Taylor!

First, let me start by saying that there is no way that I am old enough to have a 16 year old! Ok, now we can continue...

Taylor did indeed turn 16 years old today. I made him his traditional birthday pumpkin pie and he gave me a hug when he saw it, like he does every year. He is such a kind and sweet boy.

I hate to jinx things by putting this out there but I am really enjoying parenting teenagers. I think it helps that parts of my development were stunted at age 13, like my taste in music but there are so many things we enjoy doing together and the conversations alone are quite entertaining...:)

Taylor has 5 AP classes this year and so far is doing really well. He loves a good challenge and is a great example to those around him. We are so proud of him!

Taylor has worked really hard to develop that bicep...:)

Happy Birthday, T! We love you!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Meili Goes to Preschool.....sniff, sniff.

Here's a picture of Mei in the preschool parking lot on the Saturday before school started, heading into the school to meet her new teachers. She looks excited, right?

Here she is in front of the preschool, still doing ok...

Once we got into the school, Meili wasn't so excited anymore. She didn't cry, but she didn't speak or make eye contact with anyone either. I took a couple of pictures, but I deleted them. It was just too hard to see her crawl back into her shell again.

Just two days later, it was time to send her to school. I was a nervous wreck and wondered how many weeks/months it would take before she was comfortable in her school environment. I had to turn in registration papers and in the 'What should we know about your child?' section, I included a lengthy paragraph about her tendency to be slow to warm up to new situations, particularly if they resemble an 'institution.'

Turns out, I should have left it blank. On the first day of school, Meili went with me to the boys school and had breakfast with them. She was so happy to see her friend, Emily there who is going to Kindergarten this year.

Next, it was time to drop Meili off. She did AWESOME!

Her teacher is blocked by a kid here, but she immediately went to her and started talking to her about her family picture. I don't think she even said goodbye to me but that's ok. She didn't cry!

She is having such a good time at school and asks me every morning if it is a school day! I was so worried...and all for nothing!

1st Day of School

Today was a big day in the Bouton house! 5 kids in 4 different schools this year.

Meili is going to Pre-K on Tuesdays and Thursdays...

Xander is in 2nd grade...

Noah is in 5th grade-his last year in elementary school!

Audrey is headed to 8th grade-one last year at the middle school!

Taylor is a junior this year. He will need to leave the house every morning at about 5:40am for early morning seminary (too early for mom to get up and get a photo so he escaped it this year.) Let the adventure begin!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Lifebook is Done!

While I may never finish our China Travel Video and am well aware that the header of this blog does not yet include the child that has been a part of our family for 2 years, I thought I'd share that Meili's lifebook is complete...for now. First and foremost, I have to thank the fabulous M3 at the Salsa Blog for inspiring me with her 'Lifebook as Rough Draft' format. Until recently the whole lifebook thing was so overwhelming that I couldn't even get started. Then I discovered M3's brilliant idea to put the lifebook together in a Word document, then print it out and put it into sheet protectors in a three ring binder. If a page gets destroyed by three year-old hands, no problem! I just print out a new one. If I come up with a better way to explain a concept later, then I can do that! And when Meili is ready for more detailed information, I can just add to this basic book. Better yet, she can help me do it! The Aha! moment I had about the format, plus a peek at M3's table of contents and a few of her pages was all I needed to get out of the lifebook quicksand. I was able to bust this out in a few hours.

I let Meili pick out the binder and she is really loving it! She asks almost everyday for me to read 'Meili's China Book' to her. I've even caught her 'reading' it to herself a couple of times.

Anyway, in the interest of paying it forward I hope that this might help someone else get their lifebook crossed of the To Do list!

Monday, August 01, 2011