Easter Sunday

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2014 Easter Kids sitting Edit 1Easter was eventful as usual. We hunted for Easter baskets and Abby organized our own Easter Egg hunt in the yard. We dyed Easter Eggs. We went to church and ate a big dinner and also made our kids cooperate for the annual Easter photos. So here they are.

2014 Easter Kids standing edit 12014 Easter Kids 22014 Easter Abby and Kaitlyn close up 12014 Easter Abby and Kaitlyn close up 22014 Easter Abby and Kaitlyn close up 32014 Easter Sam 1Sam looked stiff and uncomfortable sitting for his picture so we said he could hold something. He chose his water gun.

 

2014 Easter Sam water gun collage2014 Easter Kids with dog 3This year we included Boo into our photos. He wasn’t so sure at first but eventually warmed up to the idea.

2014 Easter Kids with Dog Edit 1

2014 Easter Kids with dog 2Abby got a Webkinz Labradoodle in her Easter basket this year so she wanted a picture of her stuffed Labradoodle with her real one.

2014 Easter Abby with Boo2014 Easter Sam and Kaitlyn 12014 Easter Kids Laying down 1Hope you had a great Easter.

A Supermom in the Making

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2014 Apr Kaitlyn on Dixie Rock Sq

I’ve noticed that Kaitlyn is a planner so it shouldn’t surprise me that at the age of 5 she is already grappling with the same things women have been trying to figure out for a long time: how to balance it all.

Here was our conversation yesterday while driving to kindergarten.

“Mom, when I grow up I want to be a principal.”

“Oh really? Why?” I said.

“Because principals tell everyone at school what to do. I want that job.”

I responded, “Well principals have a big job. They do a lot of work.”

“Well I’ll give away candy to people to make them happy,” she said. Then she paused while she thought for a minute. “I want 3 jobs, Mom. I want to be a principal, a mom, and a singer. I’ll sing at night. I want to be that kind of singer.”

I wondered to myself what exactly that kind of singer meant but I said, “Well having 2 jobs and being a mom might be hard. You will need to spend some time with your kids.”

“Don’t worry, Mom,” she said, “My songs are short.”

Then she paused and thought some more before she said, “Maybe I could sing longer songs if the dad takes care of the kids. Or I’ll just sing some nights.”

“Okay,” I said.

“When I’m a principal I’ll come home from the school at lunch time and feed my kids. Then I’ll spend time with them. I also gotta make sure my kids go the same school I’m the principal at.” She paused again. “I gotta figure this out.”

Good luck Kaitlyn. At least she has a long time to work it all out.

 

Red Rock Vacation

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2014 April Sam and Kaitlyn on Dixie Rock 4We are keeping our tradition of Spring Break in St. George this week. It’s so nice to have a taste of summer in April. We asked the kids what they wanted to do while they were here and they didn’t really want to do anything but climb rocks and swim. So that is what we have been doing all week. There has also been quite a bit of sleeping in, watching TV, and shopping (mostly by me) too.

2014 April Grandpa and Kaitlyn climbing rocks

2014 April Sam and Kaitlyn climbing Dixie Rock 1

2014 April Abby Climbing Rocks 12014 April Sam Climbing Rocks 22014 April Grandpa Climbing Rocks 1Grandpa still climbs some too. Charlie was more reluctant. The view was worth it.

2014 April Abby on Dixie Rock 12014 April Kaitlyn on Dixie Rock 12014 April Sam on Dixie Rock 12014 April St. George Temple2014 April Riding Scooters on Trail 1Abigail had to take some pictures of St. George landmarks for her 4th Grade state report. She was assigned Washington County so we drove around town getting shots and picking up info for her report. She was less excited to do “homework” over Spring Break but we dragged her out anyway.

2014 April Abby taking Pictures 12104 April Abby taking Pictures 2We did stop at the splash park downtown and even though they promised not to get their clothes wet (ha ha) of course Kaitlyn was soaking when we left.

2014 April St. George Splash Park Abby 12014 April St. George Splash Park Kaitlyn 12014 April St. George Splash Park Kaitlyn 22014 April St. George Splash Park Sam Kaitlyn 1Forget the historical landmarks, I really liked this huge guitar in the middle of a traffic circle.

2014 April St. George Guitar 1And did I mention we have been swimming? A lot.

2014 April Abby Jumping in Pool2014 April Kaitlyn Swimming 12014 April Swimming 1One more day and we head back to Orem and back to responsibilities. Too bad. Although it will be less than 2 months until kids are out of school. I’m feeling conflicted about that…

The Ultimate Girls Trip: Finding Family in Wales

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view of wales 1This was one of the biggest reasons my Mother wanted to go on this trip. She wanted to trace her family roots back to Wales. When she tried to talk my Dad into going with her he said, “There’s nothing to see in Wales.” So she took my sisters and I instead and I am happy she did because Wales was one of my favorite places to visit. There is stuff in Wales and it was beautiful! I could have my very own summer cottage in Wales and be happy.

Throughout this part of the trip we got around in a rental car. I was the designated driver. No one else wanted to drive because they were afraid of driving on the left side of the road but I found that I started to get used to that part of it. I did have to think harder about which way I was going and turning but we had a good system. I drove, Suzi sat next to me in the front seat and she was the designated navigator. She and her iPhone with GPS and Maps were a lifesaver!! So she always told me which way to go and even what lane to get into and what exits to get off on, etc. LIFESAVER. I’m not sure I could have done it without her. My Mom and Lori sat in the back and tried not to freak out.

2013 June Suzi and Mar driving in UK

So getting used to driving on the left was not the biggest driving problem. Neither was the traffic circles. We have quite a few of those right here in Provo/Orem. No this was my biggest driving problem:

 

Welsh roads 4THIS IS A TWO LANE ROAD!! How in the world can two cars fit on this road?? And yet they did! I was always paranoid going around corner that some car was going to come flying at me going the opposite direction. Seriously, could they not widen the road just a little? Here in Utah we have residential road so wide you could land an airplane on most of them- and I don’t like them. They are too wide- but the U.K. has the other extreme. I was also continually worried about scraping the sides of the rental car just trying to fit on the road. I’m pretty sure I did several times. Then I noticed in a grocery store parking lot that lots of other cars were scraped up too.

Welsh roads 6But on these narrow roads we visited villages and churches where our ancestors were from and wondered once again, “They left this?” WE also wandered through graveyards but since they don’t do much mowing in those cemeteries it was really hard to find names of our ancestors. I also loved seeing Welsh written everywhere.

llansantffraed church yard 3llansantffraed church signllansantffraed church doorllansantffraed church yard 1llanwenog gates with momllanwenop church yard 1We drove all the way to the coast of Wales to Penbryn Beach. Even in June this beach isn’t like most U.S. beaches with lots of swimmers and sunbathers, but it was beautiful and fun to stick my toes in the sand.

Lori on beach 3Marianne on beachWe noticed that there were hardly any shells on this beach. It was so clean. We thought that was strange. We did find just a few shells to bring home.

Toes in the sandsuzi on beachWales beach road 2Wales beach townCardiff streetWe ended our day in the city of Cardiff. We wished we had time to do more here. Things close down in Wales around dinnertime so we missed out on going into the 2000 year old Cardiff Castle. We did walk around it though. This castle must have been the inspiration for all the fairytale castles.

Cardiff castle 3Cardiff castle 2Cardiff castle 14Cardiff castle 8Cardiff castle 13I would happily go back to Wales. Maybe someday I will.

The first Ultimate Girls Post is here.

Life Lately

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2014 Mar Tree Blossoms 2Blogging hasn’t made it to the top of the to-do list lately but I keep telling myself I will keep up with it more. Here’s one of those random posts that attempts to catch us up based on the photos on my camera.

First, March has been a pleasant month here. While so many family and friends are freezing elsewhere we have been enjoying the beginning of Spring. We are just starting to see things bloom and this tree is the first one in our yard to show blooms so I took a picture. Here are some other things:

2014 Mar Blooms 1

2014 Mar Blooms 2

It’s nice to see flowers again but unfortunately the weeds are growing too. Ugh.

Abby finished basketball just as Sam began playing. Now he only has one more game tomorrow and he will be waiting for baseball season to start soon. He enjoyed it and liked that he had kids from his class on his team. 2014 Mar Sam Bball 12014 Mar Sam Bball 2 I’ve spent a lot of time this month cleaning out closets and the storage room. I keep thinking that everything I get rid of now is one less thing I have to pack and move. To me it feels liberating to clean things out. I can’t believe how much stuff we accumulate and then move around. And so many things we don’t even use! I finally really cleared out all the old kids clothes. Today I took a carload of them to Deseret Industries and these car seats and strollers will be up on Craigslist soon. I’m sure I will find more things to unload as we really start packing for our move.

2014 Mar Clean out stuff 2

I need to clear things out because I have also been shopping for furniture and things for our new house. I have found some great stuff on Craigslist for the kids rooms, I have some free furniture waiting for a new coat of paint, and I found some great new stuff too. I’m still shopping for various things and I know a lot of it will have to be purchased after we get settled into our new house. I’ll post more about that later.

The question of when we are moving is still unknown. As I said before, we are renting out our house while we house-sit for Mike’s parents. We move when our current tenants find a house but our poor tenants still can’t find anything. With so little housing inventory I am not surprised. I have great empathy for them since I was in their shoes exactly this time last year. I’m still hoping we move in June. 2014 Mar Clean out Stuff 1Mike finally finished working on the lighting design for Pride and Prejudice here at BYU so some of my relatives came to Provo last Saturday for a Girls Day Out which included seeing the show. We had lunch at Cafe Zupas, saw the Sacred Gifts exhibit at the Museum of Art, and then saw the show. It was so fun! We need to do this more often. Mike was happy that I had someone else to see the show with because he was sick of it by opening night. He spent the day with Sam and Kaitlyn.

2014 Mar Pride and Prej OutingYesterday was a big day for Kaitlyn. It was her “Special Friend Day” at school. Did I mention how much I love her Kindergarten teacher?

2014 Mar Kaitlyn Special Friend DayShe also finally started soccer! She was so excited all week. While at her practice before the game she couldn’t stop jumping.

2014 Mar Kaitlyn Soccer 12014 Mar Kaitlyn Soccer 22014 Mar Kaitlyn Soccer 3While we had decent weather mostly, it was cold and rainy yesterday and Abby and I were freezing during the game. Then I reminded her about when she used to play soccer in Rexburg and there were some cold games there too- except the difference was that she played in JULY!! It was that cold in July sometimes. Oh, I don’t miss that. Tomorrow we are supposed to get 70 degrees for Kaitlyn’s next game. That will be nice.

2014 Mar Abby Freezing

2014 Mar Kaitlyn Soccer 4

Sam was excited last night to get his first Pinewood Derby Car Kit for Cub Scouts. I’m just hoping Mike has time to help him with that one when he gets back from Texas.

2014 Mar Sam Pinewood Derby Kit

Mike has spent most of the week in Texas at a Tech Theater conference. He sent us this picture yesterday of himself with a long-time Broadway lighting designer that he greatly admires.2014 Mar Mike at USITT So there you have it. The busyness continues tomorrow with 2 games and other activities planned. I’ll be happy when Mike gets home and I’m not trying to figure out how to get kids in 3 different places at once. Sometimes I think I need to clone myself.

 

 

Only a Kindergartener Once

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2014 March Kaitlyn Kindergarten Program 1

2014 Mar Kinder program 3 editYesterday we had the pleasure of seeing Kaitlyn’s Kindergarten Program at school. She and all the other kindergartners had been working hard on it. It was long too! It is hard to believe that in a few months everyone will be out of school and she will say goodbye to Kindergarten and her wonderful teacher. Kaitlyn’s class has been outstanding. I can never get over the quality of the activities and things they do in her class. Her teacher is amazing (been teaching these little guys for 26 years) and she makes class fun everyday. Here is a sampling from her program. It is hard to film these programs when there are hundreds of other parents doing the same thing, but I tried. In the first part of the video, Kaitlyn comes out on stage. Later she is sitting in the front row singing. This is the first kindergarten program I’ve been to with all these sets! But again, this is the level at which these teachers are working at everyday.

2014 Mar Kaitlyn Kinder Program group

The Ultimate Girls Trip: Marshfield and Bath

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2013 Lori in MarshfieldHere in Utah we have been enjoying great February weather while the rest of the country is buried in eternal winter and feet of snow. We have been going about our routines while it feels like spring. The best part is that we still have been getting mountain snow but rain here in the valley.

Since I haven’t been taking pictures lately, here we are back to our trip last June. When I left off we had explored Scotland by bus tour. We ended our tour in London and enjoyed another night there. The next morning we rented a car (I drove!) and drove west toward Bath. This last part of our trip was about discovering our roots. We wanted to visit the places our ancestors were from. This turned out to be my favorite part of this trip. Our first stop was in the small village of Marshfield where our great great-something grandparents Elizabeth and Thomas Burgess were from. We loved this small but quaint village where we walked the streets, ate a fantastic lunch in a tea shop, and visited the church where Thomas Burgess was the respectable Bell Ringer. That is until he joined the Mormon church and immigrated to Utah in the 1850′s. That must have been scandalous!

2013 Marshfield Streets 2

2013 Marshfield streets 1

2013 Marshfield Streets 3Our ancestor Elizabeth Burgess had a story straight out of Downton Abbey. She started working as a maid at 13 for some estate in Marshfield. She worked her way up to being a ladies maid. Just like Anna in Downton, at some point she was raped (it is assumed by someone in the family of the estate). Unlike Anna, Elizabeth got pregnant and had a baby boy. The baby was raised mostly by her brother’s family and she kept working at the house. Eventually in 1842 at age 36 she married the Bell Ringer, Thomas, and they had 3 daughters. When her first daughter was born she finally quit her job as a maid after working 26 years. The family lived somewhere on Sheepfair Lane. It was fun to find the actual road.

2013 Sheepfair LaneEventually Elizabeth and Thomas came across Mormon missionaries and were soon baptized in Bath (8 miles away). In the 1850′s they immigrated to America, crossed the plains with wagon and oxen, and ended up in Utah. One story mentioned how excited they were to finally own land (something they couldn’t do in England). Although we kept saying to ourselves “I can’t believe they left this for the desert of Utah.” We loved Marshfield, but I probably wouldn’t love being in service as a ladies maid.

Here is the old church where Thomas rang the bell.

2013 Marshfield Church 1

2013 Marshfield Church 2

2013 Marshfield Church 3That same day we drove onto Bath. Bath was amazing, the only problem was we didn’t have enough time there to see everything. Someday I will go back and spend more time there. Here were some highlights:

2013 Bath Streets Collage

2013 Bath Streets 4Here is me doing my best Jane Austin impression.

2013 Bath Me as Jane Austin

2013 Bath Cathedral Collage

2013 Roman Baths 2

2013 Roman Baths

2013 Sally LunnWe had to end our day at the Sally Lunn bakery. Yum. Next time…on to Wales.

You can read other Girls Trip posts here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Whew!

 

 

 

Valentines

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2014 Feb Sam and Kaitlyn Valentine prep 1Here are the highlights from Valentines week. For family night we continued our tradition of making Valentines for everyone in the family and baking Valentine cookies.

2013 Feb Kaitlyn Valentine FHE 1

2014 Feb Mike Valentines FHE 1

2014 Feb Valentines FHE Collage

2014 Feb Boo ValentineBoo was hanging out waiting for the cookie crumbs to fall. Every Valentine’s Day we all put our cards and small gifts on the table in the morning. The kids often get up really early to be the first one to get their cards on the table.

2014 Feb Valentines Day Table

2014 Feb Valentines Roses

2014 Feb Sam Valentines Day 1

2014 Feb Abby Valentines Day 1

2014 Feb Kaitlyn Valentines Day 1

2014 Feb Valentines MikeSam loved the picture Mike drew of them together last year and he asked for him to draw him another picture just like that. Here is the picture Mike drew Sam this year.

2014 Feb Mikes Valentine to SamOn Valentine’s Day morning Mike got this sweet Valentine from Sam. It’s a keeper. We both just loved it. Those two have such a special father-son bond. I love to see them together.

2014 Feb Sams Valentine to Mike

A Year of Mandarin

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2014 Feb Sam and Chinese Story Writing

It has been almost a year since Sam started the Chinese Duel Immersion Program. It is hard to believe it has been a year and yet he has come so far in his learning of the language. In the picture above he wrote a story about a superhero pumpkin. He read it to us in Chinese during his parent-teacher conference this past week. My 2nd grade homework didn’t look like this. It is remarkable what kids can do when given the opportunity.

He recently celebrated his first Chinese New Year at school. There was a parent program and afterwards they pretty much partied all day. They also tried some Chinese food.

Sam during the "Dragon Parade" before the program

Sam during the “Dragon Parade” before the program

2014 Jan Sam 2nd Grade Chinese program 2

Sorry for the poor video quality. I was still learning how to use video on my camera and playing with options. After this part of the program, we went to Sam’s classroom where Sam and his classmates talked about aspects of Chinese New Year. Sam talked about the Festival of the Lanterns.

2014 Sam 2nd Grade Chinese Program 3

Chinese Immersion has been so much fun for Sam. He has really had to work hard to catch up with his classmates but he still has the enthusiasm for learning it.

For those who always ask, Duel Immersion means he spends half of his day in an English class with an English teacher and half his day with a native Chinese teacher who uses Chinese to teach math and science as well as the language. Native speakers are important  because Chinese is such a tonal language. One tone changes the meaning of a word and young children can pick up on these tones naturally. Adults have a much harder time.

His Chinese teacher never speaks English. In fact, when I am with Sam she even speaks to me in Chinese and makes him translate or uses hand gestures to help me figure out what she is talking about. When Sam or other students are not around she speaks perfect English. In Chinese “teacher” is “laoshi” so he calls his teachers by their last names then “laoshi.”

2014 Feb Sam and Ms Ge

Sam’s teacher is Ge Laoshi (Ms. Ge). She is from Shanghai and has been teaching in Utah for a few years. She is so patient and kind and we love her. For Chinese New Year, following Chinese tradition, she gave the kids each a red envelope. Inside was a coupon for a homework-free week. Sam’s tutor, Duan Laoshi, also gave Sam a red envelope with real Chinese money inside. The color red symbolizes good luck in China. Parents leave the envelopes on their children’s pillows with money inside. Sam decided he wanted this tradition at our house. I said no.

2014 Feb Sam and Red Envelope

Chinese Immersion isn’t all a cakewalk though. Sam gets a lot of homework. His Chinese homework is in addition to the typical 2nd grade workload. He has to practice writing characters in the right stroke order and he usually gets 4-6 Chinese characters to memorize a week for a quiz on Friday. However, we see it as an investment in his future and he has gone from being completely bored in a traditional class to really being challenged and rising to meet that challenge. What a great lesson for kid.

The other question we always get asked, “Why Chinese? Why not Spanish Immersion?” The reality is here in Utah, where immersion programs are becoming extremely popular, Sam had the choice between Spanish, French, Portuguese, or Mandarin. We gave him the choice and Sam picked Chinese. The school itself also worked for us. But I have come to believe that Chinese is a great language to learn. Mandarin is the 3rd most commonly spoken language in the U.S. and the most common worldwide. Even here in Utah we hear people speaking Mandarin all the time at the stores. Sam was so excited one day at Costco when he could understand some people as we were walking by. Also in regards to future job prospects, there are countless articles on the value of learning a 2nd language but according to this CNN Money article, Spanish is the least valuable because it is so prevalent in the U.S.

It’s almost Kaitlyn’s turn. We just signed her up for the program next year. Hopefully she will have an easier time since she will be starting with all the other 1st graders. She also has another big advantage- her brother. Siblings tend to do well together in these programs and support each other. We hope she can maintain the same enthusiasm Sam has because we know there will be hard days.

Abby Plays Ball

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Abby basketball 2014 tallWe are spending our Saturday mornings at the new Provo Rec Center watching Abigail play basketball. This is her third season and it shows! She is improving and she still has that great height advantage. I loved this Instagram shot I took last week. In the pictures below, Abby is #2 this year. She has been in a new league every year. First in Rexburg, then last year for Orem Rec, and this year she went to Provo Rec so she could play with other girls from her school.

2014 Abby Bball 4

2014 Abby Bball 5

2013 Abby Bball 2

2014 Abby Bball 6The Provo Rec Center is really nice, by-the-way. It’s a brand new center and the kids were so excited when they saw the big indoor water park. They are begging to go back for that. The challenge lately is finding time.

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