Saturday, June 30, 2012

Boxerwood Gardens and Feeding Animals

 The kids' school year was over while Ben was still finishing up his summer semester. He requested that I take the kids on an overnight jaunt during finals so we ended up in Lexington again. We really need to go there with Ben some time. One place we went was to Boxerwood Gardens. It is an educational garden that exists to teach kids about conservation and other environmental ideas. It was very fun, even on that hot day.

A bone is close enough to a baseball bat, right?

This piano was sitting out is a field exposed to the elements. It was odd to see. Only one key still played.

We also went to an animal park. We bought buckets of feed and the animals came right up to our car and ate out of them through our window. Aven was scared but Drake and Zoa thought it was great. Aven sat on my lap while I drove and we kept our window up. I wasn't too keen on the saliva and flies that came with the hungry animals.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Halfway to Baby!

If you haven't yet heard our exciting news, we are looking forward to welcoming a baby boy into our family on Nov. 1. We feel a bit crazy thinking of the infant care coming our way again after years without it but we know we are doing the right thing. The kids are all ecstatic and my belly gets frequent love from the girls. Drake is not as touchy but is happy to finally have a brother.

Here is a picture of me at 20 weeks, halfway through my very last pregnancy.

I had forgotten how big you really get by the end. I was expecting in my head to be not much larger than this when I delivered. Now I panick when I think about how big I will probably be. My body is well versed by now in what all these hormones are dictating to it and it is responding with enthusiasm: expanding belly, round ligament cramps, swelling extremities. Oh, yea. I remember those parts now. The baby moves often so that is the fun part.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Meet Derek Dalton

Because Aven and Zoa got Build-a-Bears for their birthdays, Drake was feeling left out. Through a couple of gift cards from the Easter Bunny and saving his money, Drake was finally able to go and make a pet of his own. He chose a cute monkey that he dressed in baseball gear and named Derek. I love that my big kids haven't grown out of this yet.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Aven Graduates from Preschool

Aven had a wonderful year of preschool at Churchland Baptist Preschool. Her teacher, Mrs. Swerda, was great. Aven loved her, the other kids in the class, and everything about school. It was 3 days a week from 9 until noon. That gave me a chance to run errands, do Relief Society visits or tasks, or have a little time to myself. She was happy so it was a perfect arrangement. Aven said her favorite thing about preschool was the painting projects. The only thing she didn't like was having to occasionally go to time out.

They had a fun end of year party the week of graduation. They had pony rides, animals to pet, bounce houses, and pizza. Our whole family attended and had a good time. Here are some pictures from the event.

They also had a graduation ceremony. They sang some songs they had learned throughout the year then announced their names and had them go up to their teacher and receive a diploma. As simple as it was, I was really trying hard not to bawl the whole time. Aven and I have had a really fun year together as we have been home in the afternoons and I feel a bit like my heart is breaking at the thought of sending her to all day kindergarten next year. I am really going to miss my daily overload of sunshine. She is a bright, sunny, delightful little girl. If she weren't so excited to go to kindergarten, I don't know if I could send her at all.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Prima Ballerina

Aven has been taking ballet classes at our YMCA. She loves them. Unfortunately, she also suffers from a  bit of stage fright when she gets to the recital. Oh, well. That will get better in time. This is from her spring recital.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter 2012

We had a Build-a-Bear themed Easter this year. We got egg decorating kits from the store when Zoa made her bunny so our eggs all looked like colorful little bears.

The kids all got some sort of Build-a-Bear gift from the Big Bunny. Zoa and Aven got pajamas for their bear and bunny and Drake got a gift card from Build-a-Bear so he can go buid one. He is feeling left out.
Zoa also got a nail decorating kit. She is very into giving manicures and pedicures right now, which is great for me as my belly expands and my toes get further and further away.

Besides Drake's Build-a-Bear gift card, he got a game for his PSP.

Aven got a game for her LeapPad and was considerably more excited about her Build-a-Bear pajamas than Zoa was about hers.

The week leading up to Easter day, we read about Christ's last few days in the New Testament during our nightly family scripture study. I felt like this helped prepare them for the significance of the day and helped them focus on something besides the gifts and treats that come along with Easter. I think that will be a lasting tradition.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Natural Bridge

For the kids' spring break, we took a trip without Ben to see Natural Bridge in the western part of our state. Ben had tons of homework and the kids being constantly at home was not conducive to his need for concentration so, while he was sad to miss the fun, he was happy for the two days of peace and quiet.

Natural Bridge really is fantastic. Drake chose our location because he had heard about it in school and it was a great choice.

The thing he was most excited to see was the initials that a young George Washington had carved on the wall when he was surveying the area.

After passing through the bridge, there is a lovely trail following a stream that ends at this waterfall. We really enjoyed the walk. After one of Aven's more creative poses-

Zoa had to follow suit. All of Aven's poses this trip totally cracked us up.

Drake is a bit more subdued.

There is also a light show after dark that chronicles the creation of the earth with music and lights on the bridge. We froze our way through it without dinner.

Other highlights from the trip included touring a cave nearby. The kids really wanted to go through the cave. It was a sub par cave compared to others I have been in but the kids loved it.

We also went to an indoor butterfly garden. Surprisingly, they encourage visitors to hold the butterflies. Most were HUGE and beautiful so it was really fun to interact with them. They happily flew around and landed wherever they pleased, as Drake's picture shows.

Aven was a little freaked out about holding them at first but then really began to enjoy the experience.

We also went to a wax museum. The kids were totally creeped out in there, I think because the tour begins in the factory so you see dismembered bodies right up front. I have to admit I had one of the creepiest experiences I have ever had while there. I was trying to take a picture of George Washington carving his initials on the bridge but all that showed up on my camera was a ghostly image of a man who didn't look a thing like the wax figure I was trying to photograph. We were pretty freaked out but finally realized there was a hologram of the President George Washington in front of the wax figure of him carving his initials and that is what the camera was picking up. We just didn't realize that hologram was there at first. This is a wax figure of Elvis.

We had tons of fun and decided it would be necessary to revisit the area with Ben in tow. He definitely missed out and we missed having him with us.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Baseball Drake

Drake has discovered baseball and he is crazy about it. He was on an excellent team this season, which made the championship tournament fun. His team, the A's, ended up third. He liked his coach and his teammates.

Drake usually ends up in the outfield. Many of his teammates have played since T-Ball and are on two teams so are getting twice the exposure currently. All of this places Drake at a bit of a disadvantage but he loves it anyway. He has taken to reading novels with a baseball element and likes to study up on the MLB players and their stats. We like that he is enthusiastic about something other than video games.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fort Monroe

One of our outings while grandparents were here was going to Fort Monroe. Though we have been before, it is a singular place and was worth visiting again. Older than the Civil War, much of its famous history was made during the Civil War. One of its nicknames was Fort Freedom because if slaves could make it there, they were considered contraband of war by the general of the fort and could expect freedom. It is also where Jefferson Davis was kept imprisoned at the end of the war while he awaited trial.

Check out this battle scarred flag that is on display there. I love the flag! I have to say my favorite part of the whole day was putting each one of my children behind bars. Sometimes, they really do deserve that. :-)

Walking along the top of the fort allows views of the surrounding water. You can also see where the cannons were kept. It was a nice day so it felt good to be outside.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Zoa is a Teenager!

Zoa turned 13, much to our dismay and without permission, on March 14. Grandpa and Grandma Terry were here for the occassion. It was so fun to have them here to visit and share in her celebrations. Unbeknownst to me, one of her unfulfilled life ambitions was to go make a Build-a-Bear. She followed her younger sister's example and did that rather than have a party with friends. Her end result, quite honestly, was the thing I thought the cutest in the store, outfit and all. She is a cute bunny with a denim and gingham dress that Zoa named Chloe. Dreams do come true!

We spent a lot of time trying to find a dress for her birthday gift. That is what she wanted most-a real dress to wear as an alternative to the skirts and shirts she often wears. The shopping trip was frustrating because all the dresses we tried on in stores for juniors were too short. We finally had to ditch those and go to stores for women. We found a beautiful dress in a size 0 that flattered her nicely. It was excellent to have Grandma there to help us stay optimistic and sane. We ended the day with a lovely cheesecake because that is Zoa's favorite. Of course we also had to have icecream. Again, dreams do come true!

I love my teenager. Horror stories abound and I realize she still has time to go off the deep end if she wants to but thus far she is delightful. She has proven herself to be a kind and level headed girl with a true desire to do what is right. I greatly enjoy our talks and time together. I receive compliments about her quite often. She is on a good path. Love that teenage daughter of mine.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Manteo, North Carolina

 One of our favorite things about living here is the many opportunities we have to explore significant historical sites. On one of Ben's rare free weekends, we drove down to North Carolina to enjoy the sand dunes where the Wright Brothers performed their first flight experiments at Kitty Hawk. We have been there before but our kids love playing in the sand. Afterward, we went to Manteo, North Carolina. They have a replica of the ship that came over even before James Town was colonized and became the "lost colony" because they are unsure what happened to them.

The kids enjoyed exploring the ship's tight quarters and trying their hand at different ship tasks, including swabbing the deck. (Do you think if I start asking them to swab the floor, rather than sweep or vacuum, they will do it? It does sound more fun.)

There is also a replica of the village there. We were highly entertained watching the blacksmith. She had several more intricate things on display that she had made but the day we were there, she was making nails. Each of the kids got one.

We also tried on armor and scraped the fur off a piece of drying hide with seashells just as they would have back in the settlers' day.

In the museum, the kids tried on clothes from the period. Zoa even tried on the butt bump. We thought it quite funny that they wanted to accentuate their backside.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Aven turns 5!

Our sweet Aven decided to grow up. Five is always a difficult age for me. As far as enjoying a stage, this is one of my favorites. It is also the age that they seem to grow away from me so it is very bittersweet.

She decided that, rather than a party with friends, we would go to Chuck E Cheese and to Build a Bear. This helped us all have a seriously fun day. Drake and Zoa were awesome at Chuck E Cheese giving her all their tickets that they won and extra tokens. They followed her around and helped her have a great time.

She had a blast making a bear at Build a Bear. She was the first of the kids to have this experience, making it necessary for the other kids to make a trip there as well in the following months. She was very excited but also serious about her choices. She came home with this pink bear named Alyssa that wears heels and a sparkly dress. The word to describe this creation, if you know Aven, is PERFECT.

We finished off the day with a Barbie cake. She saw one at the grocery store but it was $50. I was unwilling to pay that so Zoa and I looked up instructions online and made it happen. We are quite amateur but it turned out pretty cute in spite of that fact. Aven was thrilled so it was perfect.

She was also pretty excited about her LeapPad. Now she has her own electronic item to play and doesn't need to constantly ask for ours. Sad that such a thing would be so interesting for such a small one.