Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Catch-Up

I'm trying desperately to catch up on this blog! It's become a family record as well as a place for me to explore my thoughts, so I want to keep it current. It's also for my family's benefit, since all of them live so far away. This post has a lot of pictures, so be warned!

Before the school year ended, and because I have a teeny-tiny bit more financial security, we took the plunge to get Aiden's braces on. He's really grateful to have them, as he knows straight teeth are a luxury most of the world doesn't get, and he's been terrific about taking good care of them. 

The very next week after graduation, Aiden tried out for the football team at his new high school. I've had a few reservations about this whole high school thing with him. The school he really, really wanted to go to is far away. And, because it is a charter (the largest charter school in the country, actually) there is no bussing. His junior high was far away also, but there was bussing, so that saved us. Now, all of his friends are out in that area and he wanted to follow them to high school. Can't say I blame him, but it just makes life very hectic and more expensive. If he went to the high school that Lyndsay and Dylan attended, he could just walk there, and life would be so much easier. This charter school is an outstanding school though, and he qualified to attend through a great deal of hard work and effort. It was very important to him. He also really wanted to play football for this school. We talked about what a commitment it would be and how tired he would be with Seminary, Honors classes, and practices and games, but he was insistent. So, we proceeded. He had a week of tryouts.

Adam drove him to and from tryouts when I was working. He and Conor watched from the bleachers and cheered him on.

The school is known for its first-class football field. It is named for the Denver Bronco's quarterback, John Elway, who attended high school here. And it is a beautiful field!

The coaches mean business. Listening to them drill these boys put some fear into my heart, but I'll admit I also really loved their seriousness and expectation of excellence. The tryouts were grueling!

But at the end of the week, the boys were called in one by one to meet with the coaches and told whether or not they'd made the team. Aiden was thrilled to find out he made it! I am so very proud of him! He really worked for this, faced his fears and doubts head on, and went for it. 

This is right after he told me the good news!

Our days were long those first two weeks of summer. I should mention that before going to tryouts (and then practice), Aiden went out to the Johnson Ranch again where he worked last summer in the persimmon orchard and worked for 4 hours. He's got goals to save up his money to be able to buy a truck when he is old enough to drive (and take some of the burden of his school commute off of me!) Then we would pick him up from work and take him out to school. Directly from his practice, which ended at 7pm, we would drive Conor to his swim lessons. I was fortunate enough to get him signed up for a session of private swim lessons. He did a great job and learned so much, though we had to tell him to stop talking so much to the instructor. Too many stories! Just say "Yes, sir," and swim!

He worked on elementary back stroke, free style, breast stroke, side breaths, and diving. I wish he could have kept taking lessons, but his session definitely helped him improve, and he's confident in the water.

We had our annual youth fundraiser. I agreed to bake something for the auction, but had worked so much I was running on little sleep and even less time. I decided to bake a loaf of bread and offer it with a jar of homemade jam. Luckily, it sold for $75! I also sold a jar of Buttermilk Caramel Sauce for $60!

Here's Aiden and his friend, Travis, helping with clean up duty. I love to see the kids working!

Speaking of working, Conor has a summer job too. Meet Bun Bun.

He's the cutest little guy! He belongs to our friends who are spending their summer in Thailand, so they hired Conor to take care of him while they're gone.

It's been a great learning experience for Conor. He's been wanting a hamster of his own, so I thought that having this pet experience will help him see how much work they are, and give him the chance to earn the money to buy a hamster if he still wanted one. Let's just say the pet-of-his-own phase has ended. But he loves Bun Bun and has had a good time taking care of him.

We've had a good time playing with friends as well. Our friends just finished their backyard landscaping and pool installation and have been so kind to invite us over several times to share the fun. Aiden loves every chance he can get to practice his flips.

Conor has lost two teeth so far this summer. I'd been praying for this one to come out for over a year! Now I can't wait for its neighbor to come out too.

Conor is officially a cub scout now, and a few weeks ago his pack kicked off summer with the Raingutter Regatta. Here is Aiden, helping to construct his boat.

Then Conor painted it and decorated the sail.

He did not win. Not even close, but he had fun.

At the end of June we went to a Dodger's game for Mormon Night. Elder Bednar threw out the first pitch. It was great fun, and after the game, we were able to go down onto the field for a fireworks show.

(See that missing tooth?)

I had posted on Facebook that we were there at the game, and my best friend Amber in St. George texted me that her husband and son were there too! They had driven out to Los Angeles just to come to some games! So, I texted them, and they came over and said hello! I loved seeing them, even for that brief time. But it made me miss my Amber something fierce!

This is the picture I texted to her:

The next weekend, surprise, surprise, look who walked into my bedroom just before midnight:

Always a joy to have my Lyndsay home! She's finished another year at BYU and came home for some relaxation and family time. We had her here for two weeks, and now she and Aiden are up in Arizona visiting their dad and Dylan.

Summer is such a busy time! And someone just told me there are only three weeks left. What?! I can scarcely believe that! There is always so much I want to do! In between working and piano lessons, and all of the kids' activities we are doing our best to soak up all the fun we can.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Weekend of Beaches

As part of Lyndsay's 20th birthday celebration, I wanted to plan some activities that would get us out and having fun. One of the nurses I work with told me that she had taken her kids to Long Beach to kayak around Naples Island. That sounded like so much fun, so we decided to plan that for Friday. Another nurse suggested that while we were in Long Beach, we just had to go get cupcakes at a little place called Frosted. She said it was the BEST. I love word of mouth recommendations because part of my problem is that I want to do things, but I don't know what to do.

I had a hospital training and Aiden had his last summer school session that morning, so we headed down to Long Beach around 1pm. We brought Aiden's friend Nick with us as well. The weather was beautiful, but it was a little windy, which gave us an extra arm workout, trying to keep those kayaks moving in the right direction. It was so much fun, though!

Aiden, Nick, and Lyndsay were in their own kayaks, and I had this cute little view in mine. Conor did an amazing job, working those little arms to row hard. We kayaked around the canals, admiring the beautiful homes on Naples Island.

It was only $9/hr to kayak, and they provide the life jackets. Pretty good deal! Conor and I lasted an hour because of the wind wearing us out, so we rowed back to shore and he played in the water while the big kids stayed out in the bay longer.

Then we drove downtown and ate dinner at Islands. They have one of my favorite salads. Having Aiden with us is a plus: he plays tight end on the football field and clean-up around the dinner table. He made sure every single dinner was finished. When we were done, we just passed our plates to him and he ate everything.

Then we found the highly recommended Frosted and had a great time choosing cupcakes.

They were, indeed, seriously amazing.

Aiden enjoying his Orange with Cream Cheese (that was so yummy!)

and Lyndsay with her Royal Coconut (delicious!!)

On Saturday morning, we packed up a picnic and drove out to Santa Monica to play on the beach.

Of course the boys got right to digging A Big Hole.

Lyndsay bought her favorite mango from one of the Mexican vendors walking the beach. She ordered in Spanish (that quite impressed me!), and always wants salt, chili powder, and lime juice on her mango.

The water was so nice! Even I got out there and played in the waves for a long time with the kids, which sadly, I hardly ever do. It was wonderful and the boys loved that I was out in the water with them. Conor is such a beach bum. He has always loved the ocean. He could stay out there in the water all day every day. I bought him a boogie board to practice on and he loved it!

I loved watching Aiden and Conor spend time together.

It was such a nice weekend. Even though I was so exhausted from many days of working and many days of not sleeping enough, I needed to get out of the house and so something fun with my children. It's so easy for me to stay at home, so I was glad for the excuse to get out and take part in life.

Even better? Our sunblock held up for the most part, and nobody is suffering from severe sunburns!