Monday, October 10, 2011

I Am Special

I Am Special

by Isabelle Edwards

6 Oct 2011

(by assignment for her 2nd grade class)

Are you special? Everybody is special in their own way. Now I am going to tell how I am special. Well I'm special because I say please and thank you and I listen alot at school and home. I am respectful and caring and I love one another because I give cookies to neighbors who are hurt or sick. I also love to be very responsible. I keep the commandments and those are, love one another, read the scriptures, go to church, do not say bad or inappropriate words and I believe in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. That is how I am special. (I corrected the spelling but the words are hers.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Chores Experiment

So, I went into this summer with this idea that if the kids were super busy every day they wouldn't have as much time to fight with eachother or whine about bordeom. Plus, I really don't like the TV/Computer and I could just see them spending the whole summer on one or the other. So I came up with a chore list that requires up to 5 hours/day of work! That's right...5 hours, and no it's not child abuse.

Isabelle and Jack rotated by week with Kitchen, Laundry, and Bathroom duty (Christopher and I did the third). And that includes, mopping the floor on their hands and knees, scrubbing behind the toilet, folding/putting away laundry, switching loads, and starting new ones, cleaning all the dishes after every meal even if it meant they were up till 11pm. Lots of work, plus they each had four other DAILY chores, piano practice, read a chapter book, bedrooms, and lawn/garden chores. The point was to keep them busy, and it worked. However, it also kept me really busy because they are unable to accomplish all of these alone and needed adult assistance, so I had to do all the chores every day at a brutally slow rate (I could've accomplished all of it in 1 hr/day, instead I was doing 8 hours or more helping out all 3 kids). Over all however I think it has worked wonderfully. And lest you think I'm putting the kids to work as slaves, I should mention that they were being paid in Monopoly dollars.

$50 for a good week without too much complaining, $10 for a bad week. And $5 for extra chores (taking out the trash, cleaning the toy room, etc), $2 for helping with meals, $2 for exercising (basketball games, tennis practice, yoga at the Y), and many other ways to earn extra cash. There was however also a list of ways they could loose money. $5 for fighting, $5 for property damage, $2 for whining, $2 for sassiness, etc.

You may be asking yourself, what good is Monopoly money, how does that motivate hard work? There was a third list! One that allowed them to 'spend' their money. $100 bought them a $5 toy at Toys R US, $75 bought them an ice cream date with Mom or Dad, $50 bought them some candy from my secret stash (a combination of candy confiscated after parties and other events and candy that I've gotten doing couponing), $25 got them a $2 book at Half Price Books (my favorite book store). So as summer has gone on, has my system worked? Surprisingly well!

The kids love to spend their money, so the cheapest thing, is the thing I'm happiest to spend my cash on BOOKS! And the thing they want most, requires saving up. Yesterday each of the ninos had enough cash saved to buy both a toy and a book so I decided to brave the stores with all 4 of them (I have an 1 year old that I watch every day and Christopher was taking his GRE). First we hit up Toys R US, it was the best trip to that store I've ever had. Because it was 'their' money they were so careful in choosing just the right thing, they each took a turn and we walked through the aisles until they found just the thing they most wanted. They helped eachother choose by offering opinions like "well, I think you should choose the blue, because I know that's your favorite color." No one begged for anything that was beyond their $5 and everyone came out happy! We ended up with a Zooble for Isabelle, a small doll with three changes of clothes for Eva, and a set of 5 Hot Wheels muscle cars for Jack. It was lovely. On the way out the door I thanked them for being so good in the store and Eva said "That's the most wonderful store, I really love it."

Then we were off to Half Price Books. We had an equally good experience, except that Zoe was ready for a nap and needed a diaper change and therefore, royally cranky. Jack picked up a Magic Tree House for his collection, he's got about 20, Eva bought a cute book called Princesses Are Not Quitters (really cute story about working hard, love it) and Belle bought a Jewel Kingdom book, she's working on the whole collection.

In the end, the kids have been able to spend their money on things they've wanted throughout the summer, they love books, they only buy small inexpensive toys, they're learning the value of hard work, and they don't have time to fight with eachother. Best summer ever!!! What a way to beat the 100+ degree temperatures we've been enduring for the last 33 days.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer Piano Recital 2011

Isabelle started taking Piano in September of 2010 from one of my friends in our ward. She caught on pretty quickly and is doing very well. Jack started in June after school got out, and he, too, is doing well. Karissa decided she wanted them to have the recital experience so they, and two boys from the ward, Bradley (Jack's best friend) and Ethan Farnsworth, who are taking from their mom, had a recital together at church on June 19th.

They each played 3 songs, then Karissa handed out some medals that we'd ordered with their names on them, and we enjoyed punch and cookies. The whole thing took about 15 minutes but it was loads of fun and I really enjoyed seeing them play like this in a 'formal' setting (it was at church).

They are using the Alfred's books, Jack is in 1A, and Isabelle has moved on to 1B. He played Old McDonald from memory, Lost my Parter, and Sailor Jack (of course). She played the Indian Song (from 1A) from memory, I've Been Wishin', and Hayride.

Six Flags

Isabelle and Jack both earned free tickets to Six Flags for reading 6 hours in January and February. The both read independently, no help from Mom or Dad, and did a great job. Christopher also got a ticket because some of his students participated as well and I got to pay 'kids price' to go with them. So for a whopping $35, all 4 of us enjoyed a day at six flags. Besides the vomiting that started at 4pm and didn't end for a whole week, we had great fun. We think we actually had food poisoning, although we originally thought we'd gotten sick on the rides, that is until Eva got sick too, since she didn't go with us to Six Flags, we knew it wasn't the rides fault. Most of the time we did the rides together, but we split up a few times, there were some the kids wanted to do that adults weren't allowed, one that Jack and Dad did together and one the Belle and Mom did together. We had a great time.

Jack's Basketball

Jack has played for the Rockets for 2 seasons now. He scored his first basket during a game on June 29th and I cried. Yes, I actually cried a little bit. It was so beautiful. I couldn't understand why everyone else wasn't appreciating the moment as much as me, I mean seriously people, why weren't you all crying too! He has so much fun playing, the hardest part for Christopher and I is not getting so into the game that Jack thinks where yelling at him instead of for him. I hope he stays on the same team for a while, Coach Marcus works really hard to make sure that he is an included part of the team. We love going to his games, they can have as much energy as a Mavs game.

The 4th of July

On the 4th we decided to go to Joe Pool Lake with the kiddos, Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Kadi, Uncle Dave and Aunt Dana, and Cage, oh yeah, and we brough Bella and Chief (Dave and Gabe's dogs). We brought a grill and cooked, played in the water, and stayed to enjoy the fireworks did everyone else in Dallas, or so it seemed.

Christopher's Birthday, 32!

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Travels in the 4 corners region

Enjoying the Indian dancing at 4 Corners. We happened upon a yearly event between the tribes of the four states, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. It was great fun to watch.

Hiking to Bandera Volcano in Arizona.

Bandera Volcano, a 30 minute hike in Arizona.

Hiking to the Volcano with Grandpa.

The Ice Caves in Arizona. That's a glacier in the middle of Arizona!

Enjoying the rock formations at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado.

More of the Garden of the Gods

Holding up the rocks!

More from our hike in Arizona.

In May, Me and the kids, as well as my Dad and my Sister-in-law, Dana, traveled together to Utah for my brothers wedding. We had a great time together, and had pretty easy travels. Of course, we were way under dressed for the snow on the wedding day and all through Colorado on our way home, but other than that we had a great time. Here are some of our adventures.

Last Day of School

I know, I know...I'm 2 months late for the last day of school post. But here goes anyways...

Jack with Mrs. Richardson and Jack with Mommy, on the last day of school. He learned so much from her! I can hardly believe how fast and how well he learned to read. He could only read 5 sight words at the beginning of the year and now reads as well if not better than Isabelle and is testing at the end of 1st grade.

Isabelle with Mia Key and Isabelle with Mommy. Isabelle and Mia have been best friends since Kindergarten. They go through withdrawls if they don't see each other for a few days. Her parents tell me it was torture for her when Belle was out of town at Uncle Dane's wedding for a week. They said they couldn't wait to have Belle back so that Mia would act like herself again. 1st grade was so much fun!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Artist

We are so proud of Isabelle. This is the 2nd year in a row that she has had artwork on display at the Mansfield District Elementary Art Show. Here is her piece from this year. I checked her out of school at lunch time to take her down to see all the art and while she was there a journalist for a local magazine, Mansfield Now, took her picture with her artwork for an article about the art show and the artists. I'll be buying the June issue!

The Farmer's Market and Preserving

I had a great couple of days working with my good friend, Laura, on some food storage! We went down to the Dallas Farmers Market and got some great deals on Tomatoes ($12.50 for 25 lbs, 4=100 lbs of tomatoes) and Strawberries ($5.50/flat, 12=96 lbs of berries), plus $7 for a 50 lb bag of those awesome purple Onions, and we bought all the other supplies we'd need for Salsa. Then we spent the next two days blanching, saucing, freezing, drying, jamming, and everything else you can imagine. Here is the end result of all our hard work. And the best part is that it came out to about $1/item (Bag of frozen berries, jar of Salsa, etc).

Easter 2011

We spent Easter weekend in Lubbock TX with a bunch of the family. Gabe's birthday was the day after Easter and between that and the fact that he just got an awesome promotion that will move them to Oregon, and Casi was headed to Paris for 8 weeks so we thought we'd make the trip out there to see everyone. We had a great 3 days, it was the perfect break. We swam at the pool at Texas Tech (thanks Aunt Leslie) so everyone was slightly sunburned, we picniced at the park, we stayed up late every night playing games, and we talked a whole lot! Great fun. Here's some pictures from our Easter egg hunt in the park before church.

Eva's First Soccer Team

The Royals! A friend of ours invited Eva to play on their soccer team this year. She didn't love it and it probably won't be repeated for a few years, but we did have fun watching her. She's so funny about attention. She didn't want to play because she doesn't want people looking at her and she breaks into tears whenever people talk about her even if you are just repeating something cute she said or did earlier. She hates that! Poor dear, she's pretty adorable and I'm afraid I'm the worst culprit because I always want to tell Christopher about the cute things she does and it always happens at dinner and she runs away from the table in tears. Here's her soccer pictures!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Jack's hockey grin!

His teeth have always been adorable to me, I love the big space in the middle of his two front teeth, but I'll admit, it gets rather old having to explain to people on a daily, yes I get asked at least once every day, basis that 'no, he hasn't lost a tooth he just has a big space.' So I'm not going to lie, I've been waiting for this tooth to fall out for a while and I've been pretty excited about it. The last couple of days it's been hanging on by a thread. When he was headed to bed I checked his tooth like always and it's barely in there. He freaked out thinking I was going to pull it out and hurt him. He got hysterical when Christopher suggested we get out the video camera and film him while we tie a string to his tooth and attach it to a door knob to slam. Amid all his hysterics, I asked him if I could check it again, at which time I pulled the tooth out without him knowing it. He continued to freak out about how much it would hurt him if I pulled it and then I showed him that it was in my hand. Hysterics done. Now we have this adorable grin to see and I don't have to explain away the space anymore, because "Yes, he lost his tooth."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Honk if you see me!

This is my new ride, so if you live in Arlington, expect to see me out and about in this. Whenever you think to yourself "who is that crazy lady riding around with those kids," it's probably me! Honk if you see me! I'm loving this new way of saving gas money. All errands within a 4 mile radius are now pedaled to! Last week while Christopher was home with the youngest ones napping, I took Isabelle and Jack out. They each rode their scooters (Christmas presents) and I rode the bike, we went to 3 grocery stores (couponing) and returned home, the entire trip was 4 miles. We had loads of fun and the kiddos were troopers. No complaints at all, except on the last street on the way home they agreed with eachother that their legs were tired. Yeah for saving money, being green, and a healthier body!

Spring Break

As with every year, we spent most of Spring Break working in the yard. Every year we have improved our garden space a little more as well as our landscaping, but this year, I think we finally got it right. When we moved into this house 4 years ago, this space was all grass. A little at a time we've turned it into a more functional and practical garden space as well as the perfect oasis for our family. We've got an out door kitchen on the porch as well as our out door dining room and Christopher got a brand new grill for his early birthday present, The main garden has all of the vegetables and we ran a hose underneath the porch and under the path, it comes up in the middle of the vegetable garden so watering will be much easier. There is an herb garden in my garden boxes (on the right of the picture), and the path looks wonderful, there are also flowers blooming all over the rest of the yard. Christopher works so hard in the yard and I am so glad that it turned out so well. I'm proud of all that he does for our home and family.

Rodeo Day

Kindergarten had a Rodeo Day to wrap up their Texas unit. The kids got to dress as cowboys and bring and props they wanted (except for toy guns). Jack loves his stick horses so that worked out well. He apparently ropped quite a few stuffed cows during gym class. Uncle Gabe brought out a couple of belt buckles for him to choose from. We couldn't find the right kind of belt, unfourtunately so I had to tape one side of the buckle onto his belt, yes, I am that ghetto.

Snow Day (that turned into a week)

In Texas we generally get about 1 'snow day' per year, usually it's just ice though, not really snow. However this year our snow day turned into a snow week. Christopher and the kids were out ALL WEEK, starting February 1st, and it was wonderful. We played games and did projects and spent time together and since it was cold and miserable outside we didn't leave the house. On friday, we ventured out in our snow gear to walk the 2 blocks to the nearest Redbox for some movies. And we only had one fall on the trip, Christopher and Eva slipped on some ice and went down together. The only pictures we took were from the first day. The kids woke up and looked out at the snow, they immediately noticed some foot prints that seemed to come from nowhere and go nowhere. They woke us up to show us and we decided to solve the mystery! It became the mystery of the footprints, we went out and measured the footprints and mapped the trail, following it as much as possible and then we let each of the kids come up with a possible solution to who could've left the prints. Each of the kids dressed themselves for the cold weather, as you can see they were rather creative. When they had all submitted their answers Christopher got on the computer with them and 'researched' until they determined the prints to be from a common housecat. It was so much fun!