Thursday, November 1, 2012

gerbil mania

We've now had the gerbils for just over a month.  There simple starter homes have evolved into palaces, but I think the additions are over and we are just down to rearranging what we've got.

Max got his girl first - on his birthday.  Her name currently is 'Miss Miss Mouse Speedy Young.'  It changes pretty frequently.  We should call her Dracula.  She's a biter.  Now that we have a little more experience with gerbils, it's obvious that she was older when we got her.  She's gotten Alex pretty good twice, me once, and Max once - about 5 minutes after taking this picture.  I thought he was going to remain unscathed.

Katie and Alex got their girls a couple weeks later.  Their gerbils are sisters and sweet as can be.  They are also about half the size of Max's gerbil, and I'm guessing 6 months younger.  The pet store was NOT forthcoming on Max's girl's potential shortcomings.  We hoped they could all live together, but I don't think these two would make it through until morning, so we have two separate palaces.  Guess which one is called 'Alex SquirmyYoung.'  The other is 'Addison Silky Young.'

This is just my favorite Max outfit of all time. He had a brief phase of having to choose different colored socks each day.  Now that he has some dinosaur socks, he only wants to wear ONE pair of socks every day . . . new challenge.  I just love that he's young enough to not care what anyone else thinks.  He just knows what he likes, and that always involves green - usually at least part of his  'Hawaii' outfit.  And a Snow White helmet works just as well for him as any other.

We recently walked around some ponds that had TONS of cat tails. Roger introduced us all to the fun of 'cat tail wars.'  It's all fun and games until somebody gets one in the eye!

Max's preschool class made their annual trip to the fire station. I think it's great that the kids can see that the fire fighters are real people, and that they don't need to be afraid of them when they have all their gear on.  Added bonus with Max's class is watching the fireman giving us the tour trying to get a word in edgewise over Max's preschool teacher!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

dinsoaur ridge

The second week of October we had a day off of school, so we did a cousins adventure to Morrison Natural History Museum. It's a very small museum but SOOO cool, and just the right size and activities for our little people.  Their claims to fame are the first stegasaurous and apatasaurous fossil finds, as well as some baby dinosaur foot prints.

The lower level has some casts of different predator skulls and an apatasaurous neck - the skull is still being removed from sandstone. The upper level has some triceratops fossils, some live animals, and a room with ongoing excavation work.  We were lucky enough to arrive close to feeding time for the animals. The kids got to pet this snake before her snack.  I think she got fed 8 mice!

The small size was again to our advantage, because everyone that wanted had a turn running the tools on the apatasaurous skull removal!  We did not get to take a crack at the baby stegasaurous pelvis, because it was too small and fragile, and is the only known fossil of its kind in existence. Picky picky.

Outside, we could 'dig for fossils' in their big sandbox.  Katie found a deer jaw, and Max 'discovered' the fossil of some kind of sea creature. Summer had a good time burying the other shovels and disrupting Alex's sense of order in the universe.

Inside a small outbuilding there was another 'fossil dig' sandbox where everyone could practice their finer excavation skills with paint brushes.  Oddly enough, Alex lasted longer than anyone else on that one. Everyone also painted some dinosaur tracks. Don't ask me where they are now!  That mystery remains for another days excavation project.  Violet showed the most concentration - she was so intent with her painting.

Maybe next time we'll make it up to Dinosaur Ridge - a trail just outside of the museum where there are still plenty of fossils in situ. That might need to go on the summer time adventures list.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Week

This year we finally went to Boo After Dark at the Denver Zoo.  I love all the lights.  We saw a few animals.  Nobody loved the freezing cold night, but the bags full of candy made up for that in the end.  Luckily we all ate dinner together at Margaret's house, because we then didn't find each other at the Zoo until the very end!  Note to self:  since cell phones exist, try actually remembering to bring yours!

Katie and our good friend Aly before we started exploring the zoo.

'Bat Boy' Alex and Max the black cat.  The previous Friday we went to Bat Encounter at the Botanical Gardens.  They had a few live bats that the presenter walked around.  The smallest was the size of a gerbil - with wings.  The largest he brought has a 6 foot wingspan!  My photo-taking skills need some help, but here's one of them:

We are still working on getting our own bat house up.  I wonder if they'll go after squirrels . . .

We managed to hit the bat exhibit in Tropical Discovery.  I think Alex was equally impressed by the hundreds of bats in their fake cage as he was seeing them live and closer up.

Roger was Oma's designated driver for the night.  Her knee seems to be better post-procedure, but still a little tender.  Max and Alex did not mind doing a little hitch hiking.

The festive Andersons.

One very cute little bunny.  Go ahead and try to offer your hand to help her walk - she'll just start to run in the opposite direction!

The grapes costume rides again!  Saturday night we went to a carnival at our friends' high school, and Katie and I won in our age categories for the costume contest.  Katie's competition was a little stiffer than mine:  I was one of only two adults who actually dressed up, so we both got prizes.

I'd say it's a pretty good event when everyone is too wiped out at the end to even dig into their candy stash, and instead conks out on their neighbor!  We'll probably go out for a little trick-or-treating Wednesday night, just for the atmosphere and because it's supposed to be a balmy 40+ degrees instead if 25!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

all i want for chirstmas . ..

One front tooth out.  This one came out during gym class. It was hanging by a thread the night before, but after the drama and trauma of having mom and dad even THINK about helping get the tooth out, we told Katie that she was on her own.

The second front tooth followed about a week later.  We didn't even try to help with this one.  It also came out at school, which means that Katie scored a fun little tooth-shaped case to put it in.  The tooth fairy forgot to come the first night, but luckily she got her act together the next!

This has nothing to do with teeth.  I just needed to document how many rocks Alex came home with crammed into his pockets one day last week.  What a nut. He's got rock collections all over the house.  I think my favorite is his jar of 'the beauty rocks.'  I'm not sure what significance each of these rocks has, but at this rate we'll have enough to fill in around the fountain planned for the front patio.

Monday, October 1, 2012

four year old Max

This little nugget is now 4!  This was supposed to be the 'off-year' for a friend party, but I caved. Max ended up having quite the birthday week. I fear the bar has been raised too high now for future birthdays. We really need to have dry ice around more often. After the party was over we made dry ice bombs learned about pressurizing gas in a fixed volume. That was one good thing I learned in my lab.

Dinosaur mania.  The cake was strawberry, so the pieces looked suitably 'realistic,' although Max just really likes strawberry cake.  He was not going for 'flesh-like' with his flavor choice.

 Balloon pit on the trampoline - or 'T-Rex' stomp if we're keeping with our theme.

Make a dino out of play-doe.

Pin the horn on the triceratops.  We also had pictures of a T. Rex, pterodactyl, and apatosaurus - or brachiosaurus depending on who you ask. The artistic quality was of course top notch.  It will be harder and harder to have my drawings pass muster as my little people get older and more discerning!

We also had an excavation site set up in a kiddie pool, filled with chicken bedding and dinosaur figures to hunt for.  We chased rocket balloons at the end while we waited for parents to retrieve their kids.  Nobody cried, so this party goes down in the books as a success!

We hit Freddy's for lunch after the party.  Yes, Max did eat all those fries.  Alex wouldn't eat his hamburger because some mean woman cut it in half for him, thus ruining the flavor.

On Max's birthday we went out to dinner at Old Chicago, because the GREAT LLYODINI, or Royal-dini as Max keeps calling him, was there doing magic.  The 'red light trick' is still everyone's favorite.  After dinner we went to the pet store to pick out Max's present - a gerbil.  We are now officially full of pets over here. Well, the fish situation actually keeps us just under 'totally full' on a regular basis.  Here's hoping the gerbils fare better!

This little muffin just keeps getting more fun the older he gets;. We're sure lucky to have him in our family.  My favorite thing about Max right now is that he likes to wear two different colors of socks.  He takes the pairs apart so he can get the right color combination for the day.  What a fun little dude!

Friday, September 7, 2012

summer trip

Somehow I got nominated to plan the Randy Reese family reunion.  Here's the book I made of the reunion and the trip we took to get there.  Someday there might be more text describing our adventures.  For now, just the book.

Click here to view this photo book larger
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

youth conference 2012

Alternate title:  'The assignment that almost killed us', or 'Why I should listen to Roger more often.'

As it turns out, I am no as relaxed as I pretend to be.  This is not news to Roger, but did/does cause him some grief at times.  Once I finally chilled out - about the week before the event - things finally went a little better.

We camped in cabins up at Hermit Park near Estes.  Perfect location.  ROGER WAS RIGHT.
The theme was 'get smart' -  the vernacular of 'oh be wise.' That won out over my original idea of 'don't be stupid.'  Positive seemed a better way to go.

Before we drove up to the mountains, we did a service project at the Community Food Bank. Best service project ever.  It's near our community, the kids got a little education about who uses the resource, how many people they serve, and how much money that takes. Visible results quickly with a very human face.  ROGER
(This is Roger and Bishop Merrill next to Sue, the volunteer coordinator.  She is one powerful, tiny woman!)

Thursday night we had some speakers talk about how their life plans differed from what THEY planned, and how they learned to use the Spirit in figuring out what they really needed to do with their lives/education/etc.  GREAT.  Kat gets the genius award for that one. And my friend for suggesting two of the speakers at the last minute.  It's always nice when you get to see why things don't work out they way YOU want them to because Heavenly Father has a better plan in mind. Sometimes even the organizers get to learn a little something too.

Friday morning we did the ropes course up at YMCA of the Rockies. This was probably my favorite activity of the whole adventure. The program director lead our group, and he was great.  The kids failed one of the activities because they didn't follow directions and help each other like they were supposed to, and he called them on it.  Not in a bad way at all, but talked to them about how they could have done better, and really emphasized that it's only truly a failure if you don't learn and change and improve from your experience. 

Saturday morning on the way back home we went to Estes Park and swam for a couple hours.  Which was nice since we didn't have showers up there.  Roger and Travis had a nice diving board competition going - unfortunately the photographer needs to work on her speed shooting skills.  She did OK when everyone was  standing still though.

Overall two thumbs up.The kids had fun, the leaders had fun, the Bishop was booked with interviews the next week.  Good stuff all around.  And naturally our own kids didn't want their sleepover at Oma's to end. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

first day of school

This girl is in 1st grade. Craziness.

Katie was a little nervous in the beginning - change does not come easily for this apple who landed right at the bottom of the tree - but then she spotted a buddy from her Kindergarten class, and things improved.  At least for her.  I was a mess.  I think Kindergarten is easier for ME because it's only half day.  Sending Katie of for a whole day just has turned me into jelly.  Somehow between back-to-school night and the first day of school the headphones are already lost, so we're off to a great start!  :)

This handsome fellow started school the following day.  When did he turn into a BOY?  He is definitely not a little guy any more.
Mr. Friendly had no trouble starting school.  He popped instantly into line waiting to go in - he has the same teacher and room Katie had, and he's always the first kid to go up and introduce himself to the others at the park, so he was right in his element.  I'm room mom again for Kindergarten, which should be a little easier now that I have some clue as to how things go.

Green Hawaii starts school this week.  (These outfits from Oma were our official uniforms for summer.  I tried to enforce a 'twice a week only' rule, but by the end of the summer that was out the window.  It did make doing laundry pretty easy.) Every day he asks if he gets to go to school yet.  Naturally the nerd in me delights that all my kids love school so much, but I do miss having everybody home during the day.  Although I naturally have a list of projects to try and distract me and keep me busy . . .

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

last hurrah

Tuesday before school started we decided we needed one more adventure while we could still go with everyone.  By 'we' I probably mean the 'royal we' - a way for MOM to put off thinking about everyone heading off for school and growing up too fast!

Mag was up for the adventure so off to the zoo we went.

Winner of best outfit of the day.

Train riders.

Train lover.

I was really hoping that the Icee was going to splat him in the kisser, but it was too frozen.

Proof that I was actually there - and can you stand how cute Violet is in sunglasses?!

  Ice cream lovers.

Everyone pooped out by the end of the +90 degree day.