Friday, July 25, 2008

Cub Scout Lake Trip

On Thursday, last week, the Cub Scouts went to the lake. My friend Andrea's family has a boat and jet ski they were so generous to share. I was able to go as an adult chaperone and had a good time watching the boys and riding and driving a jet ski. I've never been on a jet ski before, but I had a blast. I had a great time hitting the waves, just ask Andrea and Joe, for that matter. Anyway, it was a blast and I know the kids had a ton of fun. Thanks Andrea's Dad, Andrea, and Nick! Nice boat, huh. Here it is coming to the dock so everyone can get in.
Apparently four is a record number on the tube at one time. We weren't sure they'd all stay on, but they managed very well.
Doesn't that look like fun!
Jared and Grant are on the tube and they said they wanted a fast ride. This ride ended with Jared falling off and the tube flipping over and dumping Grant off. They had a great ride while it lasted.
Grant, Nick, and Jared on the jet ski. They hit some good waves and caught some air on that thing. They like to go fast!
Here's what it looked like from inside the boat. If they weren't on the ski or the tube, they were peering out the back of the boat and enjoying what they saw.
Between every tube and ski ride, everyone took a few minutes in the water.
Here's Andrea's Dad. It was so great of him to take his time to man the boat so the boys could have so much fun. Thanks again!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Muskogee Water Park

On Wednesday we went to a water park that's about 45 minutes away. It's not huge, it's inexpensive, and it's fun (after 7 daycare buses left). It was super crowded until about 3:30 and then it was awesome. I think we were the last of the public to leave the pool. Two of my children had to be herded down the stairs by the lifeguard at the slides because they were closed. It was a lot of fun on a super hot and muggy day. It was even more fun because a lot of our friends were there too.
Here's Jared trying to stay on the lily pads and alligator while crossing to the other side. I asked him before he started if he was going to make it and he enthusiastically said yes. I wondered because a lot of kids weren't able to make it. It's tough to get that lily pad close enough to the alligator to get on without falling off. Plus, you can't see it here, but the lifeguard was constantly splashing water onto the alligator to make it a little more slippery.
I thought he might not make it when he let go of the net and crawled onto the alligator, but he got right back up without slipping off.
Here he is just finishing up. He did great and it was fun to watch. I know it was a lot harder than it looked.
Here are Riley and Sarah going back to get in line to go down the slides. The very first thing we did when we got there was go down the slides. I asked Sarah what she thought and she said, "That was awesome!" My kids really enjoy swimming and slides just make it that much better. They also had a lazy river, but I couldn't be very lazy in it with all the kids pushing and spinning me along. It was fun though. There was a huge area for younger kids too and Jared and Sarah went over there a few times. Riley and Nicole went over there too, but mostly to help out with our friends' younger children. It was a great way to spend a hot summer day and I'm tempted to try and squeeze it in one more time before the summer is over.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer Basketball

My friend, Andrea, is coaching a summer basketball team. Two of her boys are on the team and they are friends with Jared, so it's extra fun. Here is a shot of him guarding during his most recent game this past Friday. (I took a ton of pictures, but most of them were blurry. I've got to figure something out to be better at taking pictures indoors.) He was very aggressive and kept the opposing team from scoring a lot of points. Jared's the tallest on his team and some of these girls were about 6-8 inches taller than him. Their whole team was very aggressive and they had jump balls all night because they kept grabbing the ball from the other team. I'm glad he gets the chance to play a sport this summer. It's been a great summer activity that hasn't been stressful.

Summer Park Day

Thursday was set up for a playgroup at Hunter Park. It was raining mercilessly all morning and so we couldn't go. I talked to Trisha and her kids had looked forward to going and neither of us had been to that park before, so we agreed we would go if the afternoon was nice. It was and we had a good time. It's a great park with a lot of things to do.
Sarah and Faith had fun walking on these wooden pillars. They also provided train rides and went exploring in the forest and played at the splash pad.
Nicole and Marisa walked and talked a lot. They are good friends and I'm glad. Marisa's a good influence for Nicole and her reading/writing. They also kept an eye on the kids while Trisha and I took a walk. Finally, some exercise! I'm so lazy lately...
Nicole loves Gold Whale crackers, apparently. See how happy she looks since I finally let her have the box?
Now just look at her. Someone else wants some and we see this. Typical teenage attitude, I'm afraid. Sharing isn't as cool as it used to be. (JK, Nicole)
This was Jared's favorite thing at the park. He loved waiting for the buckets to dump on him. His friend, Jared, also enjoyed it.
Here are Jared and Eric coming back from the woods. The kids really liked going in there. It's really just a small grove of trees, but I think it made them feel further away from parents and more on their own or something.
Before we left, we tried out the labyrinth. It's painted lines on pavement and you have to follow the pattern to get to the center. It was starting to rain, so we hurried. You're supposed to take it slow and it's supposed to relax you. It wasn't quite like that for us, but it occupied us for about 10 minutes. This is the kids after we made it to the center.


Sarah was spying on Riley. I'm not sure all of her reasons, but she was having fun. And I think she looked cute too. Don't you love the purple star visor combined with too big pajama shirt?

We have a swallow's nest in our front porch area again. Someone knocked the one that was there down and the birds rebuilt it again this spring. The kids say they can see five baby birds in there and we know one has died. Six babies in one nest seems awful crowded and very hot. Every time we go out in the front yard get about 10 birds circling around us. They have a very protective family. We also have a nest in one of our trees out back. I guess one of our trees is officially big enough for that now. One of the babies got out of the nest and was wandering around back there. It was fairly big, but unable to fly. Oreo (our dog) wanted to play with it. The baby bird's parents were making quite a bit of noise trying to get us to go away. Robert put the bird back in the nest, but later on, the bird was out again. There was another bird in the nest, maybe there was a bit of sibling rivalry going on?
Jared grabbed my camera the other day because he wanted to take pictures of the cool clouds outside. This one of the pictures he came back with. He thought it was cool because of the lighter clouds in front of the darker ones. I think he really just likes to play with my camera and came up with a reason to use it. He did use it for what he said he was going to though.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A few Minutes of Honesty

I read a blog the other day about not sugar coating our blogs, Be "REAL". It was interesting. It's not that we ever lie, its not that we even stretch the truth. We do however, simply put our best face on, best foot forward and go from there. But, it was an interesting exercise, to be more honest.... Well. Let's be honest, on both sides... the good and the bad.

First the Bad.

Laundry - it's not just a problem... it's an adventure. We have six in our family, and with a 2:1 ratio of kids to adults, there is going to be a ton of laundry. We never catch up. Sometimes we come close, but once that day is over then there are at least two more loads that the family was wearing at the time all the other laundry was being done! It is like trying to sweep back the ocean with a broom!

Scriptures - We try, we really do, to read the scriptures. I remember as a kid only reading once or twice as a kid with my folks. Ok only once, but that single memory is a very good one. The kids don't complain, they don't gripe, they don't even mind. It's simply a matter of trying to talk myself into taking the extra 10 minutes at the end of the day to do it. I love it, the kids love it, Laura loves it. It seems we simply get lazy...(sigh... ok "I get lazy") . We have done really well in the past. We not only got through 2nd Nephi, but are about half way into Jacob. This is the "Good Stuff" for kids in the BOM. The great stories of King Benjamin, Ammon, Noah, Alma.... We just need to get going again.

Fighting - I can't tell you how much I HATE fighting among our kids! I hate the turf wars that they have. "That's mine!", "I had it first!", "You never help me!". I can't stand this. I can show several scriptures that say that Satan is the father of lies and stirs the hearts of the children of men to contend one with another... Hearts mean attitudes... And he plays with our attitudes and makes it so we get angry and fight. It is true with kids, friends, couples, neighbors and countries. I want no part of this. And yet I see my children at each other's throats! I once found myself telling one of my kids, "I have spent your entire life loving you, please don't hurt one of my other children!"

Yard - My backyard has several things that could be done to improve it. I have a fort, slide, swingset in the back and the slide is broken. Have I fixed it?... No. Have I tried? No. Have I planted any flowers? No. Have I weeded? No. (Are you seeing a pattern here?). Laura has quietly resigned herself to the fact that if she wants a pretty yard, she has to do it. I hate that. I really, really ought to be better.

Weight - I really, hate the current amount of force that gravity has on me. I won't go into details, but it isn't a little thing.

What is good?

Family Home Evening - This is a time of the week that everyone looks forward to. The kids love giving lessons, they love the time together. About 10 minutes before each FHE, either Laura or I print a shape on a piece of paper. It is usually very simple, like a line and a circle, or a squiggle and a dot. Then we call the family together and we all draw our own picture on it. Each person is allowed enough time to draw whatever they want. Then (while they are calming down) and we begin FHE, we take turns sharing what we drew. This has been a source of joy for many years! I can't tell you the laughs we get looking at "Man inside hamster ball" or "House on a tree" or any other silly, yet fun times we have shared.

Education - The kids are doing really well in school. They have friends, they have activities, they are busy and happy. Jared has found this summer the love of books. Mom can't keep enough in the house to satisify him. He zipped through the "Spiderwick" and "A Series of Unfortunate Events" series as fast as 3 - 4 per week! Sarah loves to read as well. Nicole has read a vampire series called "Twilight" twice! I love it that the kids do well in school and love reading. It is a blessing that will serve them well the rest of their lives.

No TV - Hey! The kids didn't die! When we moved back we decided that we wouldn't pay for a cable. I like some shows (all on Sci-Fi channel) the kids watched other shows simply because they were on. But we decided that we didn't want it. We don't regret even a little bit.

Church and Gospel Teaching - Even though we should read our scriptures better, the gospel is always talked about in our home. As parents we are constantly trying to teach our kids how gospel truths relate to every day activities. From fighting, loving, service, patience, forgiveness and a host of others. As a married couple, we are always talking about how different events relate to our Heavenly Father's Plan. We know that our Heavenly Father is a tutoring Father.
This means that he doesn't just give us lessons in Sunday school, but rather every day, real life stuff to work with. I can't imagine a day where we don't relate what is going on in our lives, to something that Father is trying to help us with. Even cleaning the table, making dinner, building relationships with ourselves, spouse, children, parents, friends, loving, supporting, teaching, helping, forgiving, laughing, reading, studying, crying. I read a scripture that says, "All things point to Christ". It meant it... not some, not most, but ALL. As parents, we try hard to teach our kids not only how to behave, but why. And Laura and I encourage each other to be better. She encourages me to be better in Home Teaching (another not-so-highlight in my life) and I encourage her in areas I think she can be better.

Friends - I have always lived as a hermit. Quiet, alone, and just fine with that. Friends scare me. I have never felt very comfortable with myself (childhood issues) and getting out of my comfort zone has been a really big help. Laura has gently prodded me into being social, something that is definately NOT easy for me. But the rewards have been wonderful. I enjoy so many people in our ward and I wanted to talk about a few here.
First Alex and Cindi - I can't even comprehend how much I appreciate them. We have cooked with them, played with them, cried with them. We have stayed over at each other's home just to have breakfast in the morning (and catch the early session of conference). I am proud to tell people about my friend and what he has done (think Riverwalk, think TV studio, think church DVD). I can't tell you the number of calories I have consumed with that family.... (think big numbers... with exponents...)
Next Nick and Andrea - When I was running my own business, and I needed a vehicle, Nick gave me a truck. GAVE ME A TRUCK!!!! Even now, I can't think about this without tears in my eyes. It was such a huge deal to me, to be able to continue on working and building my business. I will be grateful to that family... forever!
Now come Rocky and Janine. What a great family. They are so much fun to play with, to laugh with and to simply hang out. I will never (ever, ever) be as handy as Rocky is.... He made a picnic table for heaven's sake! He flies airplanes, and cooks Dutch oven (got me hooked on it). Janine is a teacher. (she isn't working for a school district now but she teaches her kids every day). They came and visited us in Las Vegas once. It was so nice to have friends come and be with us. When we go to the temple, we stop by to drop our kids off there. It's great when they join us.
Finally Damian and Trisha - They are our newest friends. Damian does so many things that I like, and he does them so well. Piano player, database guy, MBA, CEO, and an out-of-the-closet Babylon 5 fan! (how cool is that!). Trisha, also plays piano, laughs at our jokes, went to Ricks (BYU Idaho), keeps a cheerful smile while home schooling. From the first moment I saw this family I knew that we were going to be friends. They were on a date, and stopped by our house just to see if we wanted to come too! Yeah! It was fun, Chili's for dinner, frozen yogurt for dessert, and a piano store just to see which ones sounded better... how cool is that!

My Father in Heaven - It is funny. I really do consider Father a friend. Not a distant God somewhere far away, but rather a friend, a teacher, a helper. He is Someone who knows me and loves me and is trying to help me and my family. I have talked with Him, cried to Him, laughed with Him, yelled at Him, and each time (even during the yelling) I could feel Him simply taking the yelling, without being angry, just letting me throw my tantrum, absorbing my anger, knowing it will soon pass. He guides me, telling me to watch out for particular problems, with me and my family. He encourages me to be better, be stronger. He teaches me, not only what the commandments are but "why", and how they relate to His plan. This has brought me so much comfort. The "Whys" teach us the most wonderful parts of the gospel!!

I have felt His laughter when we have talked. For example I was troubled with a personal issue the other day...I started my prayer with "Father, I want you to know..." I could feel him say while laughing... "Robert, do you think there is something I don't know about you...?". My Father has taught me lessons about His love for me using things around me, He has given me lessons about eternity using commong things like stars, rocks, water, fish, dead birds and fallen trees, torn toe-nails, mud, scars, pregnancy, blindness, flat tires and so much more! The list never ends! My Father loves me, and I love Him. He is kind, patient, and loving and is trying to help me and my little family go back and live with Him again. He has given me promises (think about that!!!) about me and my family. Who am I, to merit even the notice of God, let alone his attention? I am his son. And I have been charged with raising a family and do all I can to bring them home to him intact. He is helping me with this duty.

Well, this was much, much more than I wanted, but, I thought it was time to share... a little more about me...

Kansas City Trip - Day 2

What's staying in a hotel if you don't go swimming?!
We took a quick drive to Liberty, Missouri. Robert thought it was erie reading "Clay County Court House". All he could think is how, once upon a time, that was a sham.
There was a Farmers Market in Liberty and we decided to get some Amish bread (it wasn't that fresh) and some local honey.
Here was a city drinking fountain that was to be shared by all, so there was no more segregation.
Here is Sarah smelling flowers. It looks like she is hurt, but she isn't.
Look ma…. Masons!
"Liberty" interesting oxymoron….. I guess "Independence" is too….
Oh look, another fountain…. Go play kids!
Ok, this pic was staged, but I promise, just two seconds earlier, they were doing this on their own! (It could happen!!!!!!)
Sarah said the water felt really nice!
Libery Jail has a really good groundskeeper.

The jail deserves its own blog, but we were very rushed and we could only get a few picures. They really rushed us.

Can you tell what the story is here? Somebody looks a little bored.

Robert found out that they kept a journal of all the missionaries who have served in Liberty. He went looking but they lost the one for the year he was there. They did have one from the year after and he enjoyed seeing some old friends.
Not too close to Liberty (about 35 miles north) is the town (grass patch) of Far West.
Look at the size of those leaves!
There were four cornerstones of the unbuilt temple. Each was dedicated to something different like Priesthood (High and Lesser), Missionary Work, and the First Presidency.
Memorial at Far West.
Sarah posing on the fence.
The Temple Lot.
Having a fun moment with the kids. They think it's funny to do this hand shake and then try to pull your finger off!
Nicole and Riley having a good time!
Lunch - a very welcomed break. It was only disturbed by a little bit more wind than we wanted and a pesky wasp that paid for bugging us with its life.
About another 45 minutes away was Adam-Ondi-Ahman.
Robert wants to walk… lets the van go by. Of course everyone in the van sees a deer about 45 seconds later! The video camera had proof we saw the deer, but it accidently got recorded over…sigh.
Dad and Sarah and Nicole enjoy the walk
Sacred cows?
Uh, the road is longer than he thought. That will teach Robert to just decide to walk!
And longer still….sigh.
The valley of the ancients. No, no one else calls it that, but it sounds good.
Oh, there is mom!
Sarah's getting tired. Mom is trying to help her.
Here is the valley.

Sarah had simply had enough!
We decided to take a nature walk that kept going and going and going. We decided to go back when the grass got taller and you'll see other reasons why in the next few pictures.

We think this is posion ivy and we stayed away.
Riley found out that he had a ton of ticks on him. Yuck. We tried to get them all….we failed. This is Riley's inspection. We did further checking of the kids on Sunday morning and found at least five more ticks already embedded.
Back down south to Kansas City. This is a huge monument to the soldiers of World War I.
Jared had to go try out his heelies down by the fountain at the memorial.

Sigh… two hours later and here is another tick. Grrrrrrr!
Nice overlook of the KC area.

Playing by the fountain at the WWI memorial.

Dad became overly fascinated with water ripples in the fountain.
It's getting late. Time to hit the road.

We fit a lot of activity into two days. The kids did great. They're old enough to do this stuff and not get completely worn out before the parents are ready to go. We learned a lot and just had a nice weekend as a family.