Monday, August 27, 2012

Ben in a Bag

For Benjamin's first school assignment, he had to come up with five things to help his classmates get to know him. Here's what he picked:

1. A crayon, because he likes to draw pictures. I would add here that Peter's love of coloring and intense attention to detail has inspired his older brother's recent interest.
2. A Chinese character, meaning "words." Benjamin has enjoyed staying up a little later each night, learning Chinese characters with Paul.
3. A Blue's Hockey puck. He loves going to games whenever he gets the chance, which on average has been about once a year. :)
4. The Hobbit. Paul and Benjamin just finished reading this one together. Benjamin is anxious for the movie to come out this winter!
5. A Jack Sparrow Lego man. Benjamin and Peter can usually be found playing with their Pirates of the Caribbean Lego castle first thing in the morning when they wake up. It's the only set that they've deemed worthy of staying upstairs in the bedroom. All the other Legos live downstairs.

His original bag also had a Book of Mormon in it, because he was excited to "be a missionary." But the next morning he changed his mind and brought the Chinese flashcard in its place. He's been great at reading on his own each night and marking EVERY single verse to track his progress. It's been fun for me to watch his interests change and develop over the years. He's certainly growing up!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Day of First Grade

Benjamin's off at his third day of school now, but here he is on the beginning of his first day. He was super excited!
 Peter has turned out to be less of a challenge than I thought. If this picture tells you anything, I think he's really enjoying having the house to himself. :) Nora's little world has been rocked more than I thought it would, but she's adjusting to the new routine.
  As can be expected on a first day, the bus was pretty late (We're the second to last stop going to school, and the first stop on the way home. I feel pretty lucky about that!). And when it did arrive, Benjamin ran off without so much as a "goodbye" or "love you" or even a wave. So aside from my own personal injuries, it was a good start. I think he'll do just fine.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer's Winding Down

Benjamin starts school on Tuesday, which means Summer is practically gone. Kind of sad, but good at the same time. We certainly haven't been as organized or productive as I wanted to be, but the kids had a good time I think. We've had lots of trips to playgrounds, the zoo, the science center, the botanical gardens, the butterfly house, the pool, and the magic house. We got together with friends as much as possible. We ate popsicles on a regular basis. We kept not-so-regular journals, and made lots of trips to the library. I attempted to have Bible story time every day, which fizzled out after a while, but was a good thing. We tried a few science experiments, some better than others (this "Soap Cloud" one just smelled gross and left my kitchen a mess, but this balloon one was pretty cool).
The boys made this volcano together out of clay, then painted it by themselves. We did baking soda and vinegar to see the reaction.
We went to Benjamin's school this week to meet his teacher and play on the playground. I can't believe I have a first grader. It somehow seems a lot older than having a kindergartener to me. He reminds us often how he's a "grader" now, and how that means he'll only see us on the weekends since he'll be at school all day. :)
Peter is the one I'm most worried about during this transition though. He and Benjamin have become inseparable this summer. From the time they wake up until they go to bed at night, they're off playing Legos or ninjas or superheros together. I can't describe how happy it makes me to see these two be best friends now. Peter's really going to miss having his big brother around to play with.

Nora has been my constant companion this summer, with her brothers occupied all day long. I'm hoping she and Peter bond more, and that Peter assumes the role as leader.  She's a sweet girl, but she is also very, very strong willed. And all she'd like to do all day is eat lollypops and watch movies.
We don't do that, just for the record.
Here's Ben with his new teacher, Miss Hunt. So far, I am very impressed with her. I think this will be a good year for him, and hopefully a bit more challenging than last .
We're also going to miss having Paul around on Friday afternoons. I love that his company has summer hours, where everyone leaves at lunchtime for an early weekend. It's so nice.
Random: Peter recently decided he loves eating tomatoes whole with a little salt and pepper on it. I've never been able to do it (texture, maybe?), but I told him that's one of my Dad's favorite treats in the summer time. He's probably my best eater of the bunch.
Also, Peter has been reading up a storm, and has "passed off" three books in his Max the Cat series. He reads them each ten times before moving on to the next one, and is hoping to earn something big once he finishes all ten books. I think this series is really great for instilling confidence in a young reader.
Nora has been letting me experiment with her hair a bit more lately. Of course, nothing lasts more than an hour or so, but still, we're making progress.
On Friday night, Paul's company treated us to fancy Cardinal's baseball box tickets, with a view just behind home plate. My favorite was the dessert cart though. Doesn't get much better than that!
We're really going to miss summer. Here's to a great new school year!

Monday, August 13, 2012


After that last post, I'm sure it seems like we've gotten pretty good at wallowing in our own self pity. We do miss having family living nearby, but have recently had lots of visitors to make up for it. Lucky us!
My sister, who is a missionary serving in an area just over an hour south of us, got permission to drop in for an afternoon. I love how...generous her mission president is about these things. :)
 A few days later, Paul's Mom and sister came to stay with us on their way out to DC, for Katie's new job.
 We had a great time hanging out, and got to see the arch together.
 The kids loved having Grandma and Aunt Katie around! Before their departure, we also had Paul's Aunt Gloria and her son drop in for an unexpected visit (from Russia! And we were excited to learn that they're moving a few hours south of us in a couple months).
 Paul's cousin Adrea and her family also came that night, and hung out with us all the next day. We decided to take them to the Botanical Gardens, even though it was raining.
 During the worst of it, we hopped into one of the green houses and threw pennies into the wishing well. Benjamin retrieved a dollar bill, and Peter fell in trying to get a quarter. Crazy boys.
 It turned out to be a perfect day for it- not too hot like the day before!

 Nora loved having Henry and Ari around. They were so sweet to her.

 We love living at the cross roads for this very reason. It isn't called the Gateway to the West for nothing!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The End of an Era

The dust has settled. We've been home for over two weeks, and we're just starting to remember what life is like without family around. It's sad. Paul's sister Abby and her husband Patrick have finally finished their almost two-year-stint here in St. Louis, and are now discovering life after school. Patrick got the job they were hoping for during our trip out west, and by the time we were driving back east to our home, they were driving west to their new home.
We crossed paths at the half-way point, and so we could say our goodbyes.
Abby had been keeping her pregnancy a secret from us apparently, but we were surprised and excited to hear the news! Gloria (who was not here because she was staying with her Grandma during the move) is going to be a big sister in January!
It has been so, so fun to have them nearby. Paul and Abby weren't the closest siblings growing up, but this time together has really strengthened all of our relationships. We're going to really miss being able to hang out whenever, and have an emergency babysitter on call! 
Patrick has always had a special bond with our kids. Hopefully they'll always remember this time with Abby and Patrick. We really do wish them the best and are excited for them to begin this next chapter of their life in Utah.
With school just a few weeks away, we've been busy crossing off last minute summer bucket list activities. That and avoiding the unbearable Missouri heat at all cost. It's been a rather brutal summer!