Monday, July 14, 2014

Introducing a few classics to my kids.

I admit I watched a lot of tv when I was a kid. Or at least it feels that way because I am constantly telling my kids about movies I remember watching over and over again while growing up. Lucky for me many of these films are availiable to watch instantly on Netflix. 

 Today my kids are enjoying the air conditioned house rather than the 100+ weather. They are watching the Muppets take Manhattan.  I don't remember this one quite as well as the Great Muppet Caper or the Muppet Movie but I certainly remember watching the Muppet show. I even had a Muppet show lunch box when I was in early elementary school.  So my kids are now aquainted with Fozzy Bear and Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.  Even though these muppet movies are rather dated my kids still really enjoy the mayhem caused by these muppets.
The other day I also introduced them to Muppet Treasure Island. We tried to watch the old Disney version earlier in the Summer but my kids kept saying no. They assumed it would be boring. But throw some Muppets into the cast and all of the sudden the story looks like a lot of fun. 

 I felt really dated when my kids watched Honey I shrunk the Kids. I think I watched this one a hundred times. My sister, Julie, loved this one and would watch it over and over again until the tape (yes VHS. I know.... I am old) wore out. I don't think she has seen this one in years but now it is availiable on Netflix. My kids thought it was funny when the daughter in the story is talking to a friend on a Kitchen wall phone with a long cord. She gets all tangled up in the cord. I don't think my kids have ever seen a phone that had a cord. They also pointed out that the Mother uses a pay phone at the Mall to call someone. You certainly don't see pay phones anywhere anymore.  My kids loved the movie and were excited to find out that there were a few sequels. I had to remind them that sequels are never as good as the original.

I am going to have to peruse the Netflix library and see what other gems I can uncover and show my kids.  Summer afternoon movies are becoming a daily occurance so I need to add a few more films to the instant queue for them to choose.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What I have been reading this Summer

Summer hasn't gone quite as planned. I had this idea that we would continue to do school and my kids would do chores and not have their faces glued to a screen all Summer. While some of those things are happening I am afraid my kids get quite a bit of screen time and chores are either left undone or I get to them when I have the time.  I started off well and then lost my drive to crack the whip.

Hot Summer afternoons are great for staying indoors enjoying the air conditioning and reading. My kids usually watch a movie and I curl up in a chair or the couch and read.  Here is what I have been reading the last few weeks. Some of these I have read because I agreed to review them and others I am reading because they are on Sophie's list of books for the Fall. I figured I can help her understand her books and discuss them with her better if I have actually read them. Plus some of the books on her list are quite challenging and I figured it doesn't hurt to have me already aquainted with them.

 I thought I had read just about every book L.M. Montgomery wrote. I have many of them on my shelves, but Sophie's class is assigned to read Kilmeny of the Orchard. This is one I didn't have on my shelf and hadn't read before. Thank goodness it was free for the Kindle!  It was a quick read.  It certainly didn't take me long to read through. Since I have read so many of Montgormery's book I felt like this one followed her usual formula.  It almost felt like a Novella rather than a full novel. Since I only have the Kindle version I can't compare the thickness of the book to others I have on my shelf. It felt more like a short story. The characters weren't as developed and certainly not as vivid as Anne of Green Gables or Emily of New Moon. Infact this one is told from the man's perspective. I have never thought Montgomery fleshed out her male characters enough. And Kilmeny is mute so is a rather drastic change from "run on at mouth" Anne.  This was a fine book. Of course it was clean and I have no problem having Sophie read it. She shouldn't have any trouble getting through it. I just wonder why, of all Montgomery's books, her school picked this one. I guess we will see what direction the discussion goes.

Elantris is another book chosen for Sophie's Fall Schedule. This one is for her Humanities class and I am guessing they are reading this novel for the message it has about leadership, freedom and faith.  I really liked this one. It was a little hard in the begining. It is a fantasy world with lots of names and magic that I needed to get straight. It was hard to put down once I had those things sorted out in my mind. The characters and events became real and I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.  Sophie may have a hard time with this one. She isn't very patient about books and if it requires too much work at first she may get frustrated but hopefully she will give it a good chance and let herself get wrapped up in the world of Elantris.

All's Fair in Love and Cupcakes is one that I agreed to read and review. It looked like a fun light read and sounded perfect for a hot Summer afternoon read at the park while my kids splashed in the fountains.  While I read through the frustrations that Kat and Lucas have as they navigate the world of friends becoming more than friends, I couldn't help but be so glad I was happily married and that those things were left behind.  Betsy St. Amant wrote a lovely story about Kat and Lucas each following their dreams and figuring out how they can each have what they want and sill be together. I wish the book came with recipes. The Kindle review copy I was given didn't but hopefully when it is released it will include at least some of them. The cupcakes that are described in this book sound so good. I don't know if I would be talented enough to make any of them but I would be willing to give them a try, just not in large amounts.

Miracle in a Dry Season is a strongly christian novel about forgiveness and acceptance. Perla's sins are apparent to everyone and she is judged harshly because of that. The book does a good job of teaching the scripture "He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone".  It is a lesson every person needs to be reminded of. We tend to hide and justify our own sins or faults while condemning others when we see there shortcomings. Lucky for us, God is forgiving and we can all enjoy being clean again. This was a lovely read and a sweet romance. Another nice book for a hot Summer day. Although the descriptions of drought hit a little close to home. In CA where we are living with water restrictions and burnt up lawns the descriptions of the weather and the prayers for rain felt very familiar.

Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons was very fun to read. These ladies are great at looking at Mormon culture and seeing the humor in it. The book feels like blog posts and skip from topic to topic so you don't have to read it all in one sitting. It was fun to pick up for a little fun here and then a little laugh there.  I even looked up Zandra and Tamu's blog Sistas in Zion to see pictures and any further information on these two funny ladies.  They will keep you giggling and smiling the whole day.

 We have been taking a few long drives this summer and have made it through a number of audio books as a result. While on our drive to Utah a few weeks back we made it through both the Candy shop war and the Arcade Catastrophie. Everyone including the adults enjoyed these stories. It made the long stretches in Nevada go by a little more quickly.
My kids liked but didn't love The Dark is Rising. I remember having this one read to me in about the 5th grade. The teacher read for about a half hour each afternoon after lunch and recess. This is one of those books I remember being read but not a whole lot of the story.  Since it was a Newberry Honor book I figured we could give it a go.

The kids enjoyed the movie after we finished the book but not enough to continue the series.

The next audio book I picked was The City of Ember. I had to explain what a Dystopia was since my kids have not become aquainted with that genre yet.  I didn't know much of anything about this book before getting it at the library. I had seen it on book lists but not read many reviews of it. It is a nice place to start as far as Dystopia books go. It is age appropriate for Middle grades. Certainly not violent like many Dystopian novels go.

The boys enjoyed the book and we watched the movie version of the book (not a close following of the book) but Sophie liked it so much she went and checked out the other books in the series and is currently reading through them. Maybe I will have her read The Giver so she is ready for the movie that is coming out of that book soon.

I am sure I have missed a few books but this is what I have been making my way through in June and some of July.  I still have a few more weeks before we have to jump back into our normal school schedule. I guess I will make it through a few more of the books assigned to Sophie for the Fall and I have a few more books in my Kindle that I have agreed to review. And before I know it it will be Autumn and cooler weather will set in. Great time to curl up with a book :) When isn't it a great time?!

Monday, June 30, 2014

The County Fair

We were given some free tickets to go to the county fair. Our kids have never been to a fair so we figured it was time to share the experience. 

 Molly really wanted to ride the Ferris Wheel. She was exactly 42 inches which was the required height to be able to ride. She was a little scared at first but I think everyone enjoyed the ride.

 They had a lot of different rides but they wanted a whole lot of tickets inorder to ride. So we mostly just walked through the midway and looked at tall the rides.
 They boys did get to do the bumper cars too.

 We headed to the exhibit halls and wandered through them.
 We all enjoyed looking at the artwork, quilts, preserves and handicrafts and looked for all the blue ribbons. The kids particularly liked the table settings exhibit. People would design elaborate table setting, usually with a theme. There were a lot of Downton Abby themed settings. The boys like the Hobbit themed settting. Molly liked the Frozen setting.

We then headed out to the barns to see the livestock. Evidently it was pig day because the barn was full of pigs and not much else. We were told the Sheep were being brought in the next day. We also went to the small animal barns and say the rabbits and chickens. I had no idea there were so many different types of bunnies and chickens.  It was fun to see and even talk to a few of the owners.

We only spent about 3 hours touring the fair.  We were happy that our tickets to get in were Free. We wouldn't have gone otherwise.  But it was fun for the kids to experience what a county fair is like.  This was quite a big one.  A whole lot bigger than the ones I remember going to in my county growning up.

We went to cubalot

Last week was Cub Scout day camp. It was held at our church building but was for all the cub scout troops in the area.  I signed up to help so ended up being a Den Leader and got to hang out with Henry and a group of about 7 other Wolf scouts.

 BB gun shooting was, of course, one of the favorite activities.
 Sophie was a Youth Volunteer and was assigned to be a "den chief" of a Bear group. She got to have some of the same fun that the scouts did. We happened to be at the BB gun range when her bear group was at the Archery range.
 I was busy wrangling my scouts that I kept forgetting to pull out the camera. Here is Henry learning how to play vollyball.  They also played chess, marbles, did some wood working, they made wooden step stools and also a wooden sword (since the theme was Knights of the Roundtable), they stormed the castle with catapults and made little ones to take home. They cooked a pizza with a solar oven and even went swimming one of the days we were there.
 There were about 130 scouts with another 44 youth leaders and then a bunch of adults. It certainly filled the gym. Here is the group all watching skits. Each den practiced and performed a skit and a song before the audience.

 I didn't get to see much of Ian. His Webelos group was off doing other things. He got to do a lot of the same things my wolf den did but at this camp the activities are planned around each ranks achievements or requirements. He was off doing Webelos things and completed a number of different requirements to get several more of his Webelos pins.

Do you see all those things stuck to the scout's hat. They were given a little hat pin after completing each of the different classes so by the end of the week their hats were covered. It was very fun. That bulls eye one was awarded only if you actually got a bulls eye. I don't know if Ian got it on the BB gun or the Archery. I know Sophie got a bulls eye at the BB gun range. I think Ian's was from Archery. Henry came really close with both but didn't quite get a bulls eye.

 Molly was at cub camp too. She was with a group called the "tot lot". Many of the leaders had young children that needed watching so there were about 30 kids all doing crafts and watching movies and doing different games and activities while the cub scouts were all working hard and having fun.  The tots also came to flag each day and watched the skit performance too.
Here is Sophie leading her group in their Yell. She loved being a den chief and is already looking forward to going to scout camp again next year.

Me? I think I could use about a year to recover from non stop scouts for days on end. It was fun but boy am I worn out!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Firsts from the Garden

We are not gardeners and don't really know what we are doing but we have a nice big backyard to grow things in now and decided to plant a number of things this spring in hopes of a good turn out later.

In March I let each of the kids pick out a packet of seeds we planted them in little cups to get them started before putting them into the ground. Sophie picked Morning Glories a lovely flower that I urged her toward because I really like them. Ian picked Sunflowers, Molly really wanted pumpkins and Henry picked cucumbers. I decided we would need some tomatoes. I didn't get seeds I got starter plants of a few different varieties. The 8 fruit trees are my husband's experiment.

The birds and bugs are pretty relentless so despite starting them in cups many of our plants didn't end up surviving. None of the pumpkin plants made it. Poor Molly is disappointed. But everything else seems to be taking root and growing pretty well. 
Here is my tomato patch. 

 The first pickings. Molly quickly claimed the largest one and ate it like an apple.

 There are many more to come!

 Here are the Morning Glories. These two plants are doing pretty well. The one on the left especially seems healthy.
 There are two more late planted morning glory plants that we hope will take off soon. These are great climbers so we are going to need a lattice or something soon to help support them or else they may take over the fence they are near.
 Henry's cucumbers are still a mystery. They seem to be growing very slowly. We still hope they will produce some nice vegitables but for now we are just happy they aren't dead.  Molly's pumpkin plants would get about this big and then suddenly shrivel up and die. We still haven't figured out exactly why.

 The Sunflowers are tall!

 And the flowers are starting to bud. We have high hopes of some nice big sunflowers.
 I went out this morning and noticed a lovely blue Morning Glory greeting the early sunshine.
 And I noticed a lot of other buds just about to bloom.

Our garden is flurrishing in some ways and struggling in others. I keep reminding the kids this is all an experiment as we learn how to tend our garden. But having done little to prepare the soil for our plants I guess we have done pretty well to get anything to grow.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hightlights From Our Quick Trip to Utah

We just returned from a very quick trip to Utah. Here are the highlights.

 We were graciously hosted for a few days by this lovely lady.

We went to BYU to get some Ice Cream.

We decided to check out the BYU Broadcasting building and snuck into Studio C just to look around. They were having a meeting in there so we couldn't stay long.

 We wandered through the updated Bean Museum.
 And then just walked around campus a bit enjoying the scenery.
 Walking back to our car (okay.... so we may have been purposely hanging out nearby because we heard they had a meeting) we spied some of our favorite people. I am sure they thought we were a little crazy but they were willing to pose for the camera with us anyway.

Most of our week was spent with family up in a large cabin near Heber City.

A very beautiful setting to hang out.

 Play a little vollyball.

 Take a swim.
 Play some games with cousins.

 This cabin had it all.  Foose ball, air hockey, pool, ping pong.

And a whole room full of Lincoln Logs.

 The family played a number of different board games.

 The kids watched movies and played a lot of Mario Kart.

Mostly we just ate a lot of great food and enjoyed time to relax and hang out together.

When we returned from the cabin rather then skipping immediately home we took a day to visit Thanksgiving Point and see the newish Museum of Curiosity. Evidently a lot of other people decided this was the day to visit as well because it was very well attended and so loud!
 The kids had a great time climbing around through the jungle area.
 Played some bubble music
 Made a stop motion movie.
 Got lost and then found again in the Maze.
 Splashed around a bit in the Noah's Ark.
 And just enjoyed the gardens of Thanksgiving point.

The next day we took the long drive home again and back to the real world again.

It was a nice change of pace for a few days but I admit it is wonderful to be home.

I only wish we had had more time to see all the friends we know who call Utah home. There is never enough time to fit in everything and everyone we wanted to see.