Grandma Lund’s Birthday

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This year Alison and Megan helped me make Grandma Lund’s cake! We had a great time mixing and beating and frosting! I took the kids shopping to Target and we picked out some of our favorite things to give to one of our favorite grandmas! What ensued was a cute collection of presents to go with a cute chocolate cake!DSC_0001 small

My kids LOVE that Grandma Lund puts a sparkler on her birthday cake!

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I really think this is the best birthday candle ever!DSC_0007 small

One year Alison hid against the wall when the sparkler came out. I wondered if Megan would be like that this year. Nope! All smiles!DSC_0008 small

Grandma asked  Cayden to cut the cake!DSC_0010 small

Grandma and JacksonDSC_0011 small

Grandma with her present collection🙂DSC_0014 small

Group picture!

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Ashlyn showing off the bird to Megan. In a family where we have no pets, none of our friends or neighbors have pets…. Ashlyn is glad that at least GRANDMA has a pet!

The Dare-Devils

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Sometimes when I’m mopping, I take all of the chairs out of the kitchen and rearrange them into a circle or square for the girls to run around on while I’m cleaning. Today I was working on the living room (I think) so I moved the bench over and said they could jump  off of that.

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Clearly this wasn’t challenging enough. They took our tame “base jumping” to a whole new level.

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Megan was not to be outdone, and she jumped just as high.DSC_0088 small

It’s hard to tell but they’re jumping off of the table! Yikes!

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And they have to clear the tile to land on the carpet. Now, I don’t usually encourage jumping off the table….. but I was just so…. impressed? At the height they were getting.

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No fear!

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Afterwards they started their floor exercises….

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So much energy! So much laughter! These girls are so fun!

The Random Bits and Pieces From October

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This month I did a big cell phone picture dump to clear out my phone memory.  As you might guess I take pictures all of the time🙂 Here are the snapshots of our lives, as captured by my phone….1 small

Friends have become a staple for both Megan and Alison! Alison is the dominating force in her Alison/Megan relationship so it has been a good thing to play with friends often because Megan is quite willing to have Alison be in charge…. but the friends? Not so much! She’s learned to let others have turns to lead and it’s been a great and beautiful thing! You can’t say enough about having good friends!DSC_0002 small

The proud display of a LONG magnetic track! With friends!DSC_0042 small

Dress-up and reading time… with friends!4 small

With Alison in preschool, I’ve found some great time with Megan! She beams!5 small

Don’t get me wrong, some days I try to cram all of my cleaning into that two hour block, but other days we try to get to the park or go on a walk! Megan’s favorite chore is helping me with laundry, especially sock sorting🙂

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I can tell Megan’s had a good day when she ends up with a face looking like this! 8 small

These girls! I was trying to get ready for the day and they’d burst into the bathroom and just start laughing! They’d run off and do  it all over again!9 small

This month we canned grape juice, and for the first time we used only our own grapes! 10 small

After a rat scare-our some rats at the end of the street were making their way down and loved our neighbor’s chickens… their chicken food, their chicken scraps, their eggs- we saw one tunnel under our fence. Matt declared that we were cleaning out our garden THAT NIGHT. 12 small

We spent the evening (and into the dark) clearing out the very last plant and emptying the compost. Eventually we got rid of our composter altogether when it looked like the rat might have loved it. I think our neighbor ended up catching about 20 rats before they were gone. They got rid of their chickens within the week and there have no rat sightings since. We do miss our composter though. It feels weird to throw away all of our vegetable and fruit scraps into the garbage when it could be enriching our garden.

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To finish off this post, I had to include these pictures of Alison dancing. Although they were taken by my actual camera, this seemed like a good place to fit them in! This girl loves spinning and twirling to music!

Halloween!

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We started this Hallween by visiting Grandma and Grandpa Lund! Kristiena came by with her cute kids so we went over to the club house to trick-or-treat together! DSC_0046 small

I tried to get a costume for Megan that was as close to “regular clothes” as possible. She was so unsure about the whole costume idea! So leggings, a regular black shirt and a black hoodie all came together to make a cat costume! The only two costume-type items were the ears and tail, which she didn’t like to wear. I don’t know how many times I had to track down those ears! DSC_0048 small

Matt racing Sam back to Grandma’s house!DSC_0051 small

Group picture!

Back Row: Matt, Ashlyn, Crystal, Grandma, Cayden, Grandpa

Front Row: Megan, Dylan, Jackson, Maylee, Sam, AlisonDSC_0054 small

After Grandma and Grandpa’s we went to Lisa’s where we all met for pizza, to look at each other’s costumes, see Grandpa Bills’ costume (we all look forward to that!) and for the younger cousins to go trick-or-treating together! Everyone love Justin’s costume!DSC_0055 small

We went all out for Jack’s costume this year. He wanted to be a pirate. We had almost all of these things collected already from different school assignments/past Halloweens. I made the pants and we ordered a hat and “boots” to finish it  off. DSC_0056 small

Jack and Ellie goofing around!DSC_0064 small

Group picture!

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I always enjoy trick-or-treating with this crowd. Hanging out with the adults, walking the neighborhoods, looking at the cool houses/decorations. Matt enjoys staying home and passing out candy. It’s a win-win!DSC_0080 small

Dylan and Summer, sitting with Grandpa Bills and passing out candy. What a great night! I’m so glad that we live so close to family!

Pumpkin Carving

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Near the end of Marvelous Monday, after friends went home and dinner came to an end (and apparently I folded laundry on the counter- the best laundry folding area in my house) we brought out our pumpkins and started to carve.

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Another year of home grown pumpkins! We actually grew 8 (2 more than I’d hoped even!). We discovered that one pumpkin was moldy on the inside, one pumpkin got ruined while carving, so I was glad we’d grown extra! I’d learned about hand pollinating this spring and made sure we’d grow enough!

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Some children reveled in the goo.

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More than one child was repulsed.

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Either way we all got to work and had fun!

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It was fun to see the things they’d sketched onto the pumpkins come to life!

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Cayden, Ashlyn, Dylan, Jackson, Alison and Megan’s pumpkins.

Megan’s pumpkin is Pinkie Pie (My Little Pony)! This was my first year getting into carving! Usually I’m the “de-gutter.”

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Cayden and Ashlyn

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Dylan and Jackson

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Ashlyn discovered that a lighted pumpkins casts its shape into the wall!

A great night with great kids!

Marvelous Monday

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Sometimes we call Mondays “Maniac Mondays” (instead of manic) because Mondays are just that way. However, this is the story of how a “Maniac Monday” turned into a “Marvelous Monday.” DSC_0108 small

We started out this day with loads of grocery shopping with girls that were tired from a Wal-Mart and Costco trip. As I was getting all of the food put away a cute neighbor came over to play! They all love books…..

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…. and dress-ups …..

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… and dancing to “Frozen” songs in dress-ups!DSC_0135 small

Alison loved the sandbox and looked quite elegant while digging holes🙂DSC_0139 small

When the older kids got home from school, they wanted to get out dress-ups too…. but not the girlie ones.  We pulled out the “official” Halloween costume box. DSC_0140 small

Ashlyn chilled while reading.

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Cayden won the race to the piano.DSC_0144 small

Dylan decided to have  Curious George party, complete with a blanket, books, coloring pages and snacks.DSC_0146 small

Alison, Megan and Emily were in heaven! So much entertainment!DSC_0148 small

Eventually we must have buckled down and done homework/started dinner/etc, but we were sure off to a good start for unwinding after a Monday of going back to school!

That One Sunday We Didn’t Hear “I’m Bored”… Or At Least Not As Much As Usual

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At our house, Sundays can be unpredictable. Some Sundays are chaotic, some are relaxing, some are high maintenance, some bring bored and quarrelsome children who can’t find one toy in the whole house that they want to play with…. and others are spent with each person happily off doing their own thing. This particular Sunday was one of those unhurried, late afternoon pleasures.

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Fall officially hit our house and we no longer needed a drive in the mountains to catch glimpses of colored leaves.Even our gape vines were a treat to look at! (Photo cred- Ashlyn)DSC_0087 small

Ashlyn set up a stuffed animal “fishing” game with Alison and Megan.DSC_0092 small

When it was Ashlyn’s turn to tie a stuffed animal onto the jump rope, the girls had cover their eyes until it was time to pull it back.

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Megan took this job very seriously!DSC_0097 small

Ha! She was excited every single time!DSC_0105 small

Alison loved the pink monkey the best🙂DSC_0099 small

The boys were downstairs with just about every construction material we own. It was a building wonderland! They started this project before church and rushed down right after we got home to keep on building.

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I love seeing the things they come up with!DSC_0103 small

Dylan is always hungry… and is our pickiest eater. He dislikes almost every dish I make, practically every cereal in existence and anything with cheese. Today I taught him how to make french toast, one of his favorite things. I may not love the mess it makes, but since Sundays are our “take care of yourself for lunch” days, I am glad to see him stepping up to the task and asking to learn to do this on his own! I have to say that this policy wasn’t loved at first- even Cayden would complain that his wraps always tasted disgusting- but it has brought about independence that wasn’t there before.

A closing thought for some of our Sundays:

… millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” ― Susan Ertz

But I prefer to think of Sundays more along these lines:

“Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week.”  ― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Last Soccer Games

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I feel like the boys got better this year! They love balls, they love running around… I’m so glad we get to harness this into a sport!

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Jackson’s on his same team- new color- but same friends and same great coach!DSC_0079 small

It seemed like Jackson figured out how to kick the ball, and keep control of it, all the way to the goal better than he’s done before.

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Fall might be Dylan’s last season. I think he loves that his friends love soccer…. Some days I do think he loves it and other days I’m sure he’d rather be climbing trees and daydreaming.

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When his game is “on” he can run like nobody else (this boy is a runner!) and he is a great ball stealer!DSC_0053 small

Dylan has a great coach (our neighbor) and assistant coach (Matt)…. and of course these friends!

Camping At Willow Park

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Most of Fall Break was spent hanging out at home. Matt had used up a big chunk of his vacation days for our big reunion trip, so a camping trip that involved only one day off from work was just what we needed. Matt used part of his day off going to the Natural History Museum with the younger 5 while Cayden and I went on our big hike (the last post). As soon as we’d all gotten home, we loaded up the trailer and off we went!  (Disclaimer- most photos are from my cell phone! So glad that phones have cameras!)DSC_0015 small

Matt and Cayden had been to Willow Park before for scout campouts. As a family, we’d parked at Willow Park to go on family bike rides. It sounded like a great choice to “get out” for Fall Break without planning something big. Keep it simple!

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While Matt and the older kids helped set up the trailer, everyone else started exploring!  Alison loved this big tree! The branches were low enough that she could hang out!DSC_0022 small

The tree at our campsite could hold our whole family. How accommodating!DSC_0027 small

Ashlyn had to venture the highest!DSC_0031 small

Next came the biking section! I love that the trailer could hold all of our bikes- no problem! We had to leave soon because it was just a matter of time before the sun started going down.2 small

We had the trail to ourselves, for the most part!3 small

Looks like all my ducks are in a row! I’m the the rear, pulling the girls in the bike trailer. (For someone who’s not 100% graceful, taking pictures… on my cell phone… while biking…. was quite a feat).4 small

A good distance into the ride we found a great park! The younger kids really wanted to play, but Cayden and Ashlyn wanted to try to bike to the windmills past Thanksgiving Point. We split up and I kept Dylan, Jackson, Alison and Megan at the park. Matt took Cayden and Ashlyn to the windmills.12 small

The sun was starting to set but Matt, Cayden and Ashlyn weren’t back yet. We had to get going so that we had light to bike with… we started back.

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See how dark it was?! Matt, Cayden and Ashlyn caught up with us just before we got back to the campsite! They made it! It turned out to be a 13 mile ride for them! That’s on top of the 5 mile hike from earlier today- I’m sure Cayden was exhausted! 10 small1

While Matt was grilling dinner, the boys pulled out games….11 small

….. and the girls pretended to read Alison’s tiny book!

After a quick breakfast, we headed home so that Cayden could shower and go to the temple with his friends. A great ending to Fall Break!

Out Hiking With Cayden

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After hiking Rocky Mouth Falls, Cayden asked when we could go on a real hike. It made me realize that it had been a while since we’d done a hike that was challenging. Over Fall Break Cayden and I mapped out a great hike, stopped by Gandalfo’s to pick up some sub sandwhiches (for the hike) and drove off. We went up Big Cottonwood canyon and parked at Silverlake. Then we started the “5 Lakes Hike” that was featured in the Deseret News. Ashlyn was tempted to join us, but went with Matt and the other kids to the Utah Natural History Museum instead.

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This is a 5 mile hike with a 1,000 foot elevation gain. Whew! I was breathing hard during the steep parts!DSC_0004 small

The views were spectacular! You can guess from the title that you hike to 5 different lakes throughout the area!DSC_0007 small

We stopped at this reservoir for lunch and we were so glad for our mega sandwiches and water! This was a beautiful spot! We found ourselves hiking through snow to get here!

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Along the way, we met up with a nurse from South Carolina. Since we’d printed off the actual route (and this hike was not marked well at all!) she joined our group! She was a cute, very fit, athletic girl and the last half of our hike felt like a sprint! I had really enjoyed hiking with Cayden- just chilling out and talking- but it was also interesting to hear about her life as a rotating nurse. She traveled every few months to a new hospital- wherever she wanted. It seemed more like a resort-type thing, staffing areas that need more medical personnel during peak times. Living the dream! We took a wrong turn once, but talked with two older ladies out hiking with their walking sticks and they mused over our printed instructions and put us on the right track. I tell you, this hike was a puzzle but absolutely worth it! (I think no matter which fork you took, we’d have ended back at the beginning- not stranded at the top of the next mountainside).

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Our last lake! Photo courtesy of our nurse friend! We called Matt as we started the drive home. They’d beat us home and were already packing for our next camping expedition!