Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Usual Routine

Nothing much new going on here. Just the usual activities - school, work, and spending time together as a family. We did have Tianna and Amery come visit for a night and my mom and Caleb for a day. It was nice to see them, but they were all here for other things (Amery moved to Utah and Caleb had a job fair up in Rexburg), so we didn't get to do much with them when they came.

Even though we do not have any major things to report, our days have been pretty busy. I have been getting home later on Mondays and Tuesdays, so we have been spreading Family Home Evening across those two days - lesson and everything on Monday, activity on Tuesday. On Thursdays we have been volunteering as a family at an assisted living facility. We basically just talk or play games with the people there. We also get in a trip to the library while we are out. On Fridays we get in an afternoon trip to the pool at my work. Even though it is free at that time, the pool is never crowded, so it has been nice. I usually do lessons with them all for about an hour and then they have 30 minutes to just play around.

Here are a few of the other fun things that we have been doing:

The museum on ISU campus had a free day. I wouldn't recommend this museum to anyone who visits - there really wasn't much to it. They did have one room with skeletons for four or five different animals. They also had a dinosaur section with this T-Rex head and then four game machines. In the game you got to pretend like you were a dinosaur and then hunt for your different type of food and water and everything. This was our children's favorite part. In total, I think we were in the museum for about 15-20 minutes is all. Nothing like our nice museum that we had in Anchorage or the amazing ones that they have in Washington DC.

We had our first parent-teacher conferences of the school year. Their teachers all had very positive things to say about the children and Rebecca and I are very proud of how hard they work, how they help others, and how they represent our family while they are at school.

Elliott's self-portrait

Christian's About Me owl. Check out what he wants to be when he grows up.

I didn't get a picture of Ethan's hallway work so he posed for a picture outside.

Julia's newspaper. Check out the story about her hero. It is hard to believe that this is her last year in elementary school!!!

Here is Agnes at Idaho Falls. This is just the walk that we do when Rebecca goes to the temple. We go on Fridays, and now that Elliott is in school it is pretty calm with just the four of us. Notice all of the different colored leaves!

We got our first real snow. It had snowed briefly twice before, but nothing that really stuck. On Saturday we woke up to just about 1/4 of an inch on the ground, but it did cover everything and there is still some of it around.

The children sold coupon books for their school. Because they (Julia, Ethan, Christian, and Elliott) each sold two, they all received a bunch of free coupons for various activities around town.

Here they are at a jump place. At this place they have 10 or so inflatable jump houses, slides, and obstacle courses. They also have a section with these foam pits. I think the children spent the most time in the foam pit section practicing their climbing and flips.

And a slow motion video of their flips.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Cast is Off!

This last week Christian had a check up for his broken bone. It had been a whole month since he got it on and he was excited to switch to a smaller cast. The original plan was that he would have a half length cast on for a couple more weeks. However, they did some x-rays and they said his arm looked great.

When Rebecca asked him what he was most excited about now that his cast was off his response was that he would be able to go swimming. He really missed out on that this past summer. We did swimming a few times at the lake where we go fishing, there was the swimming pool at the hotel when we went to DC, and there was a lake at the family reunion. Even though he missed out on all of those things, he never once complained about his cast. He didn't even once say that his arm itched or ached and I remember when I had my cast on those things bothered me a lot! He didn't hold any grudges toward Ethan for pushing him off the couch. And, he even kept it clean enough that it never got smelly. We did end up all going to the swimming pool on Friday.

The next day we went to the tailgating party for the first football game of the season for ISU. They had some bouncy houses and I was sure Christian was going to get another broken bone the way he was jumping around.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

First Day of School

Julia, Ethan, Christian, and Elliott all had their first day of school today! They were all pretty excited. Earlier in the week we found out that we could look up their teachers online. Ethan had Julia's teacher from last year, Christian had Ethan's teacher from when he was in 2nd grade, and Elliott had the only kindergarten teacher for the school. So they were all pretty excited based on the good things that their older siblings had told them. We didn't know anything about either of the 5th grade teachers, so Julia was a little nervous.

Then, the night before the first day, the school had a back-to-school night. All of the children got to go drop their stuff off at their classrooms, meet their teachers, and the older children got to pick their desks. Julia picked her desk based on location in the classroom, even though a spot was open next to one of her friends. She later told me that she wishes she would have picked the one next to her friend instead. Ethan picked his based on sitting next to his friends. Originally he had a spot, but then one of his friends came in to the classroom. The spot next to Ethan was already taken, so Ethan moved his spot so they could sit next to each other. Unfortunately, they picked two chairs at the very back of the classroom. Ethan told me it worked out even better than expected though because a third friend was able to move another desk to the back of the classroom to be with them.

Here they all are with their new teachers:

After meeting the teachers and seeing the classrooms all of the children seemed even more excited. Rebecca and I were a little nervous for Elliott though. He had been counting down the days and I am sure he will really do great in school, it is just hard for us when one of our children has to start going to school - it means they are not longer a little kid.

The next morning we got up early and did our morning routine. It all went pretty smoothly and we were out the door by 7:15 am. Elliott was first in line to get on the bus and it was neat to see his hesitation when it came time to board, but his older siblings all helping him and supporting him.

Here they are doing some of their morning routine:


and jobs

Then at 9:30 am I got a call from the school. Apparently, kindergarten doesn't start until next week. Rebecca had been out working in the yard and so she hadn't heard the calls earlier than that. So from the time school started until about 9:30, Elliott just got to hang out in his classroom all alone with his teacher. I think he liked it a lot. I don't know how we missed that different starting date for him!

At the end of the day Julia, Ethan, and Christian all had positive things to report about their first day. I think this is going to be a really good year for all of them.

First day pictures:

We are going to count this as the "first day" picture for Elliott.

Oh, I forgot to mention that we tried to do some fun things on the day before school started. We tried to squeeze in several of the children's requests of activities that they wanted to do. Agnes wanted to go fishing, so we went out to the lake for an hour and a half right after my parents left from their visit. We also got in some Lego time, bow and arrows, and playing at the park.

And don't forget resting from a long summer break.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Swift Family Reunion

This last week we had a fun time at the Swift family reunion. It started off a little chaotic though. Christian and I got home from our Washington DC trip on Monday night. We then had Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to do all the shopping that we needed to do for the trip, repair all of our bicycles (everyone had flat tires from riding through thorns on a previous ride), wash all of our laundry (our washing machine was still in the shop so we had a ton that we had to wash by hand and over at the neighbors house), and I had a few work deadlines on projects that I had to finish before we left. I know three days sounds like a lot, but we were rushed every moment of it up until we left. Luckily we did get a very welcomed break when Isaac and Kim came to visit for a night. It was a lot of fun catching up and playing games with them in preparation for the reunion.

Friday morning we started our travels with a drive to Missoula Montana. That went really well and only took a little over 5 hours. Some of our friends from Oklahoma (the Allreds) now live in Missoula. He works for the University of Montana so it was fun to talk to him about the goods and bads of a professor life. It was fun catching up with them and their children and our children loved playing together. Julia had been friends with their oldest daughter when they were young and they seemed to pick up right where they left off almost immediately. All of the children ended up sleeping out in the yard under the stars - actually under the smoke since there had been a lot of wildfires in that area.

When Julia was two, playing with her friend in Oklahoma.

Trying to recreate the picture, this time with Legos instead of a puzzle.

On Saturday we woke up early and drove a couple hours to the Hiawatha bike trail. We were meeting Tianna's family up there, but we forgot to account for the time zone differences. We ended up starting without them, but they were able to catch up to us not too far into the trail. The Hiawatha trail was amazing and I would strongly recommend it to anyone. The first part of the trail is a 2 mile tunnel. It was the coolest experience riding in the darkness that seemed to never end and realizing that you were riding underneath a mountain. I had fun thinking of Frodo and Bilbo. About halfway through my tunnel I got off my bike, got together a bunch of our bikes, stood in the middle of the trail, and started yelling "thou shall not pass" at the groups behind us. Just kidding, but that would have been cool. We did have some complications in the tunnels when some of the children lost their lights or crashed and got off their bikes. Still a really fun adventure though. The trail was a very gradual slope down hill that went through 8 different tunnels and over a few high bridges. It is a little over 15 miles long and then at the bottom you can catch a shuttle back to the top. We didn't want to pay the extra $10 per person to take the shuttle and we didn't want to have everyone wait for me to drive back to get the car and then drive down to the bottom (about an hour drive). So instead, we biked about 2/3 of the way down and then turned around and biked the 10 miles back up. That was hard and there were tears and people saying they were going to give up, but everyone did it. And we got to go through the big 2 mile tunnel a second time. With all of the breaks that we took I think it took us about 4.5 hours to do the round trip.

That night we drove a couple more hours to Tianna's house. They brought home some pizzas which our children just loved. They got to do a little more playing with their cousins, but then it was bedtime.

The first day of the reunion was Sunday. After going to church with Tianna's family we drove 2 more hours to the reunion site. Talitha and David found an awesome place about 30 minutes southwest of the Grand Coulee Dam. It was beautiful there. The campground was at the bottom of a canyon. There was a lake, hiking trails, and then spaces for tents, RVs, and cabins. The first day was birthday themed. It was really Doranda's birthday, but we were celebrating everyone's birthday for the whole year. Everyone brought finger foods to share for dinner. And then after dinner there was a white elephant gift exchange. We ended up with beanboozled, a book and some homemade trading cards, a heart tin with jewelry in it, a hotdog cooker and fidget spinner, some toy airplanes, sandals, and a book. Talitha and David also brought a big birthday cake for everyone to share.

After that it was off to bed. We brought our tent which still sleeps all of us, even with the pack and play set up in it for Asher. It was super windy all night long. The whole night it sounded like ten or so people were outside our tent grabbing hold of the poles and shaking them down. At first it was hard to go to sleep because I was sure that the tent would blow over. However, after about 30 minutes of strong wind and the tent still standing I figured we were probably safe for the night. After that, the wind would wake me up every 15 or 30 minutes, but then I would fall back asleep. At 1:00 am though the winds got strong enough to pull up one of the tent stakes and one side of the tent fell over. I was able to get out though, pull it back up and stake it in really well. I put our heavy stuff all along the inside bottom of the tent on the side that was facing the wind to give the stakes some more stability. That worked good until 4:00 am. That was when the wind blew hard enough that it broke all four of our thick metal tent poles. These were the 1/2 inch thick hollow kind that don't bend at all. Anyway, one broke in half and three others were bent completely down. The tent and poles were laying right on top of us and the wind was still blowing like crazy. Julia was already up, but the rest of the children were sleeping right through it. I knocked on the doors of Talitha's and Tianna's RVs and they were kind enough to wake up and help us all get places to sleep for the rest of the night. Ethan and I just slept under the stars in our sleeping bags. Since we were low to the ground if we stayed tucked into the sleeping bags the wind really wasn't too bad.

Here is our tent in the middle of the night.

And here it is the next morning.

Since our tent was ruined, Monday started with us getting packed up and moving in to the larger cabin that my parents were staying in. Caleb was nice enough to let us sleep in the main room for the rest of the reunion while he slept out in a different tent. The winds weren't nearly as bad for the rest of the trip though.

We had a really nice hike later that morning. In addition to the pretty scenery we say a bald eagle, wild horses, and some other birds. That afternoon we hit the lake.

Monday was Hawaiian day. We had lots of yummy Hawaiian type food and Talitha and David went all out with the Hawaiian decorations. We had a limbo challenge that night and of the grownups Isaac came in first. We also had my parents tell us all about their experiences on their mission. After the kids went to bed, many of the grown ups were able to get together to play games at my parents cabin. We did a few rounds of Mafia, catch phrase, and a Mario matching game. It was so nice to actually get some sleep that night.

Tuesday morning we had a game of kickball. Then after an early lunch we were off to the lake again. The theme for Tuesday was patriotic and everyone wore red, white, or blue. We had a bunch of yummy bbq type food for dinner and then games like a three-legged race, a potato sack race, and giant tic tac toe. After dinner I told all of the kids about the swamp monster that tried to kidnap me the previous day. That night some people drove up to the Grand Coulee Dam to see the light show and others stuck around to play more games at my parent's cabin.

Elliott with toilet paper around his ankles. He was told that the swamp monster wouldn't be able to grab him if they were wrapped.

Wednesday was pretty much just packing up and going. Talitha and David made a great breakfast of biscuits and gravy. Then we hit the road. We had a 10 hour drive, but we decided to do a stop at the Grand Coulee Dam which added about 30 minutes to the trip. The trip was long, but everyone did really well. There were a few times where Asher cried a lot, but luckily that didn't carry over to the other children. We made it home just after 11pm.

It was a wonderful reunion and it was so much fun seeing everyone there. We are already counting down the days until the next one.