18 April 2009

Easter fun

I know we're way behind, but we had a fantastic Easter weekend last week and my school work was a little more than I care to talk about this week, so this is my first chance to really sit down and reflect on all the fun.

Saturday, we enjoyed a ward Easter breakfast and egg hunt. Jack loved seeing his friends that morning. Here's Avery, Jersey, Jack and Sage. I couldn't believe I got them all looking at the camera! I still can't figure out what was all over Jack's face.

Our ward here is VERY young, so there are tons of little kids, which makes it fun and slightly overwhelming for the hunt. Overall, I think they did a great job, and thankfully, the big kids who collected a LOT of eggs willingly shared with the little ones who didn't quite catch on until it was too late. Jane was one who benefited from the sharing going on, as she was a little overwhelmed with the initial rush out the door.

Jeff and the kids enjoyed a few trips rolling down the hill, and who can blame them with nice, green, grass like that? Well, green for April anyway.

We got to spend the rest of Saturday morning at the Hillmans visiting with Grandma and Grandpa Monk who were on their way back from their winter home in Mesa to their summer home in Howell. I tried, I really tried to get a good shot with Grandma and Grandpa. They were not the ones who made it difficult. Can you guess who? Unfortunately, this was the best I could do. Luckily, my family is cute, even if they have their mouth full, tongue out, or are looking away. Lucky me!

I loved this one of the Hillman boys with Grandma and Grandpa. Aren't they just a good looking bunch? From the left: Sam, Grandma (obviously), Jeff, Scott, Jason, and Grandpa sitting down (I love his grin in this one. He's adorable).

My kids are so lucky to have such great aunts and uncles. I especially love seeing Jack and Scott together since I hear so much about how Scott was so similar to Jack as a child. If Jack grows up to be anything like Scott, I'll be in heaven. Scott's very near an angel in my eyes.

Mom Hillman planned a fun egg-hunt for the grandkids that they loved. They each had an assigned color of egg to find, which made it nice and calm. A common characteristic of the Hillman household. Jane's color this year was blue, which she wasn't too excited about at first, but honestly, there's little to complain about when she's finding eggs with candy/stickers/toys inside.

These two cousins are a year apart, almost to the day. They sure are fun to watch together, although there's a LOT of hormones some days! I'm sure it will calm down when they're teenagers, right?

This is one of our newest cousins, soon to be adopted by Jason and Heidi. It didn't take long for this happy guy to win our hearts, including Jane who wants to hold him whenever we'll let her. It's good practice for when our little one comes in less than four weeks. Who's excited about that?

Sunday was especially nice. Since we don't have church until 11am, we could have a nice, slow morning. We enjoyed using our special Easter Eggs to talk about the real reason we celebrate, while the kids ate a yummy breakfast. I decided doing it while Jane's mouth was busy might give me a chance at keeping her attention too, but honestly, I don't think I needed to. She was very engaged as we opened each egg, wanting to see what was in it and what it represented. It was fun to spend that time together discussing our Savior and his sacrifice for each one of us. It's pretty deep, but as they grow older, I hope they'll have a real understanding of this special holiday.

We also surprised them (they really don't know that it's pretty normal to have Easter treats on Easter) with their very own baskets of goodies, bubbles, and books. They were thrilled for these simple little things, and luckily weren't phased the next day on the way to school when all the kids were talking about all the elaborate things they got from the Easter bunny. I had no idea people go all out for such a simple holiday! They were just excited about getting something! Can I just bottle that up?

I always make my kids take pictures on the front porch before church on Easter Sunday in their new Spring duds. They just keep getting sillier, and combined with my total lack of photography skills, we produced the following...

I hope Jack never stops putting his arm around her.

This is what I get when I ask them to look at me... yeah right.

This was probably the best, yet the lighting is weird, the door is open, and Jack's mid-something. Oh well. Don't they call these "personality shots"? Or, is that just what terrible photographers say?

We enjoyed a special Easter dinner at Mimi and Papa's house that evening with all 10 adults, and 11 grandchildren. I can't believe we could all sit down to eat! Easter egg hunt #3 got underway without delay. I kept thinking my kids would be tired of the hunts by now, but nope.

This is all the grandkids except baby Drew. From the left: Clark, BJ, Christian, Jack, Grant, smiley Faith, Jane, John, little Mia, and Abbie at the bottom. Oh yes, and notice Jeff's part in this picture. This was bum picture #2 of the day. He just can't help but show off his best side!

As is becoming tradition with the Rich's, we ended with a fun grandkids talent show. We had a lot of violinists (five to be exact)...

Some great singers...

and Grant even attempted to show off his beat-boxing skills, yet was laughing too hard to get much out. It was hilarious.

We had a lot of good pictures, but THIS is the photo of the night...

I put my camera up and Mia turned right towards me and posed until I took the picture. How did Joanna teach her so well? That curly hair and toothy grin is irresistable. She is one happy little girl, no doubt.

Also, the weekend wouldn't have been complete without a few hours of Jeff and Jason digging a hole in our basement floor (on Saturday anyway). They got to go at it with a circular saw and sledge hammer. What could be more fun? Jeff's on plumbing now, and I continue to be amazed at how he knows how to do any of this, let alone all of it. Amazing the things you can still learn about each other even after being married for over eight years! I can't wait to see what I learn after 30! And in true Jeff fashion, the edges are even nicely trimmed. How does he do that?

Hope everyone's Easter was fantastic.

06 April 2009

What a week!

We have had a fantastic week, and I even have some pictures to prove it!

Last week, Jane and Ellie (her cousin) started taking a community ballet class together. I assumed that being there together, they would both dance their little hearts out and laugh and giggle together. Turns out, Jane doesn't have the attention span yet to participate the entire 50 minutes, and Ellie was a little hesitant at first. The girls made progress their second week and overall it's been a really fun thing for them. I have to admit that it's been fun for Heidi and I to giggle at these little three and four year olds prancing around the stage in their leotards and tights. Few things are cuter. I particularly enjoy watching Jane, who loses her footing unexpectedly several times during the class (I'm laughing just thinking about it!). Luckily, she's been trained (thank you, Jack) to take a hit and keep on going! Aren't these two ballerinas adorable? The teacher first asked if they were sisters or twins. Heidi said, "cousins". I guess they look alike?

I took this picture later that night after Jane had shown off her twinkle toes to Jeff. Jack came out with their "toy of the week" (we JUST pulled it out since Thailand and they've been out non-stop!), and she immediately switched from sweet, girly ballerina, to accomplished swordswoman. The influence of an older brother is priceless! She's so lucky.

As I've said before, Jack is really enjoying his school here. One thing he's missed since we've been in the States though, are his special Friday mornings with Daddy. Jeff used to go in late every Friday so he could walk Jack to school and they could have some extra time together. So, I was happy when Jeff made it work to take Jack to his "Breakfast with Books" morning at his school. Jack was thrilled (although the picture really doesn't show it well!) to have Jeff all to himself, and to do something they both love... eat donuts. Oh, and they both like to read, so that was a good bonus as well.

We had one of my favorite visits with my Grandma Rich this week. I love this woman. She is turning 98 this month and still doing really well and is always fun to chat with. She is losing a bit of her short-term memory (hello, she's almost 98!), but I discovered this week that it's not all bad when visiting with the kids and me.

For example... Jack and Jane were SO excited to show her their newly acquired stickers they had received from the valet at my doctor's appointment just before we arrived. As kids do, they showed her again and again, explaining WHY theirs was so cool and where they got it. Each time, Grandma responded with absolutely genuine excitement for them. (As a mom, maybe some short-term memory loss would perk me up a bit for the 20th time I've heard about something!)

Also, we decided to take Jack's violin to play for her this time. She was SO excited when he first got it out and played a few numbers for her. She was a fantastic audience. When Jack was done, we visited for a while, then I asked him to put it away so we could get going and let Grandma rest. As he started to put it away, she asked, "is that Jack's violin?". I answered, "Yes, it is". She excitedly asked, "well, would he like to play something for me?". Jack was completely flattered that Grandma wanted to hear more and happily played her a few more.

My kids really enjoy going to visit their great-grandma, and it is so fun to see Jane JUMP into her arms and happily kiss her on the cheek. Jack's a little more casual about the visits, but he was excited to share his talent, especially after I shared with him the countless memories I have as a child of playing my violin in old folks homes and how happy it makes them. My one regret... NOT having my camera with me. I hate these poor quality photos, especially with something as precious as spending time with Grandma.

We had a special treat on our way out of Grandma's place. An older gentleman was just finishing up a Marimba performance for a group, so we stopped so the kids could see his awesome instrument. He was a doll and stopped everything to greet the kids and even pulled out his mallets to give them each a try. He even had me play "chopsticks" on the marimba while he accompanied me on the piano. He said, "I could have you ready to perform in a MONTH!". I was terrible, so I'm sure it would take a lot more than that! It was fun nonetheless, and great for the kids to see a completely different kind of instrument.

Can I just say I hope I'm as enjoyable as an old person as the old people I've been surrounded with? My goodness, they are all priceless!

Saturday was the start of our Conference Weekend, as we call it. It's where our church, world-wide, gets to hear from our church leaders. Here in Utah, we can stay at home and just watch them on TV on both Saturday and Sunday. It's a fun weekend to be together, learn, grow, and enjoy traditions we've had, or start new ones.

Our day started early for a weekend, so by about 6:30 the usual ritual of Saturday morning began. The kids were crawling in bed with Jeff and me. We all cuddled and visited until the three-to-five year old wrestling tournament inspired Jeff to get up and head to the gym. He was gone, so the fort building started to take place in OUR room of course, involving every blanket and pillow in the house. And this time, most of the stuffed animals as well. I LOVE when this is a part of our mornings because the kids are busy, happy, and together. Their fort wasn't turbo-creative this week, but I just loved the expressions on their faces in this one.

We had a big snowfall that night, which created a GREAT chance for the kids to get out and burn a little energy before the first session. At least someone was excited about all that snow in APRIL! By the way, toy dumptrucks are a great snow toy.

We enjoyed a crepe breakfast (my first time, and quite successful, I have to say, except for the serious lack of strawberries!), and the kids LOVED their Conference BINGO cards. Thanks Carol! It was hilarious to watch them try to find anything on the TV that meant they could eat a treat. Jack was so easily distracted that Jane was the one who was mostly finding the right faces, topics, and pictures. She was right on, and it made Jeff and I laugh to watch her helping Jack find the right squares at the right time. Maybe she just really wanted those chocolates!

Jack being a nut...

And Jane doing her version...

Jack and Jane definitely didn't last the entire two Saturday sessions, which was all right with us. They disappeared into Jack's room for a long time (which turned out GREAT because Jeff and I really did want to listen!), and we discovered what Jack had been working on a little later. This is his latest invention. He tied his surgical tubing, which he does almost everything with, to his top bunk in very impressive knots, and then made a zip-line for his bucket to the doorknob. He also had it just right so he could tie the bucket to the top until he needed it. He's currently working on a way to pull it back up without having to get off the bunk. This kid has never needed more than string/rope/tubing to keep him happy!

We also enjoyed a little outing to meet Jason (Jeff's twin) and his family at the park for the big launch of Jason's birthday rocket. Very cool! The kids were SO excited, and it was fantastic! Here are a few more pictures of our rocketing experience, if you're interested! I LOVE pictures of these two together. What could be more fun than two grown men acting like 12 year olds (which they usually turn into when they're together anyway!) and shooting off a purple rocket (Ellie picked the color)? The rocket was awesome, but watching these two together was by FAR my favorite part.

The kids and I headed to the Hillmans to visit while the men were at the Priesthood session. It was fun to all be together (I have the best in-laws). The kids especially enjoyed the tumbling demonstration by Scott, which I still can't believe he did in his suit, and the horsey rides to follow. Jack and Jane are pretty physical, so they love anyone new to wrestle around with. Jason and Scott were great sports!

We had a wonderful Sabbath today with my side of the family as we celebrated the blessing of sweet baby Drew at the Croshaw's home, followed with conference and lunch. It is so awesome to have family so close by and be able to be together for these special events. The cousins couldn't be happier than when they're together and I just love being involved in the everyday ins and outs of my sister's and brother's families, and all my nieces and nephews. Isn't family what it's all about?

It was a GREAT day.