Because It's Been That Long - A View of Life From My Phone

We are 3 weeks or less away from being a family of 5. We are 4 weeks away from being Texans. And we are 3.5 months away from the last update. To enjoy this post in its full splender, please scroll to the end and read up. This way you can get a chronological picture of what we've been up to!

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And now we've reached today. July 23, 2017. Alyssa made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and decorated the platter with peaches and bananas. She learned this from Erik and she implemented it by herself today! It was a beautiful Sunday breakfast!

Taft is learning how to use utensils and will eat things that he wasn't previously eating if he has a fork in his hand. He is also really liking yogurt these days! He is so passionate about his food!

We said good bye to our ladies yesterday. Goldie, Reddy Scarlet, Sarah, Pip, and Claire have found a new home. They were wonderful chickens. I think we were most surprised to find out that raccoons had been hoping in their coop at night to eat the chicken food before we shut the door! I was always so worried about them killing the chickens, but the feed was easier prey!

Taft loves his sunglasses and Alyssa is so fun and growing so much! The year from 5 to 6 is a huge transition in maturity and in body development!

We let Taft have full access to the keyboard. He quite enjoys it. He knows how to turn on the demo songs and as soon as they come on he starts dancing!

Alyssa made a pioneer wagon out of food!

Taft got a real hair cut. He needed it, but he is not as red as he used to be! The back of his head is completely blonde now!

We joined the YMCA this summer to swim. We go at least 3 times a week. I am able to do a water aerobics class and then we all swim together. I love doing things with older women. They are so funny! My favorite conversation we had was the most desirable Siri voice on the iPhone. Apparently the New Zealand man is far preferable over the lady voice! They have all been very interested in my pregnancy and they love seeing the kids! I hope I'm a snappy older lady! "Press away." and "Little lifts!"

Slow homeschool/summer afternoons = books + naps. Another thing I don't want to forget, especially since Alyssa is not napping as much and we are taking a break from homeschooling for a year.

A Sunday afternoon. Bible movies and Princess in Black...Taft's the one reading.

Alyssa learned how to make pancakes all by herself and does an excellent job. One morning while I was studying my scriptures this was my view. I want to remember days like this because they are important in our growth and development as a family.

Taft is adorable and puts hats on.

For our last poetry co-op class we had a poetry picnic! It was a blast! We ate a brunch picnic and the kids recited 5 poems we memorized over the course of the semester. We all enjoyed reading poems together afterward! I think the favorite poem of the year was "Boa Constrictor" by Shel Silverstein with "Keep A Poem In Your Pocket" by Beatrice Schank de Regneir as a close second.

Grandma came for the poetry picnic but then it got delayed because of a water outage in Vicksburg! So we enjoyed Grandma for a week even though she didn't get to see the poetry recitation and picnic. She sewed new dresses for Alyssa's mini Kirsten doll and played with Alyssa and Taft. It was wonderful having her around! 

I believe these are pigs that Alyssa drew on the white board.

Sometimes when Alyssa practices her violin she has to pretend like everyone is naked so she doesn't get so nervous...

Uncle Ben has not disappointed this summer. There has been much watching of "black and white" (The Andy Griffith Show) - complete with kettle corn. He convinced Alyssa to let him read her Harry Potter. They are half way through the 2nd book. And though I cursed Donna (the Jeep) by praying that she would expose all her follies while he was here before he had to drive home in August, he has worked diligently to fix her and she has been running swimmingly since!

Alyssa participated in her first field day with her co-op group. They had sack races, water relays, marshmallow spittning contests and pop the balloon contests. Alyssa made some good friends and had so much fun doing co-op!

Ben arrived for the summer and brought Claire with him. We went to the swamp in Jackson, did lots of oragami and played with dolls, barbies, etc. Claire is Alyssa's best friend. And Claire is a wonderful friend to Alyssa. She is always willing to do things with her even when she has been doing things with her nonstop for the past 8 hours!

Many afternoons this spring consisted of playing with friends and chickens. Our sweet chicken ladies went through a lot in their time with us. They would slide down the slide, swing, and play "laying" eggs. They were the perfect pet - no allergies and minimal care required!

We went to the zoo with our friends Lauretta and Atlas. They had a fun dinosuar exhibit. The dinosaurs were terrifying to Taft and fascinating to Alyssa. We also went to Cool Al's, which is the best hamburger joint evah!

We visited the Baton Rouge temple for the 2nd to last time. We also visited it in June when Jacob S. was sealed to his families. We have some really good pictures of that, but they weren't on my phone. You'll have to wait to see Erik's perspective of life for the last 3.5 months from his phone! Taft did not want his picture taken. 

Alyssa celebrated her 6th birthday! She got a fun new art set! She has spent many days coloring pictures, particularly those printed from the internet. Taft also enjoys coloring. He sits at the table and colors while Alyssa colors. I am surprised how long it will hold him captive for such a young lad. 

In April we enjoyed some general conference. Alyssa and Erik made a conference center out of legos. Olaf is the organist!


Mud and Milestones

The last few weeks have been fun and adventuresome. Jacob and Katie got married in the Salt Lake Temple so we flew out to Utah to participate in the celebrations! It was a beautiful week, a gorgeous day, and a lovely wedding! Alyssa was thrilled to participate in the ring ceremony as a flower girl. She was so sweet walking down the isle, throwing her petals. She loved the whole wedding experience! She even helped the florist place the flowers all around the reception. (The floral arrangements smelled so heavenly!)

We ended the day by locking Taft in the car and calling 911 to get him out! He was happy and totally fine, all buckled into his car seat! I felt a little bad that I found it all so humorous, especially the 6 firefighters and the giant ladder truck that they brought to extricate him. But I am grateful that they rescued Taft!

After being home for 2 days we loaded up the car and drove to Chattanooga, TN so Erik could participate in the Ragnar TN with the Strides for Sloane Team. I had originally planned on participating but was unable to because of this little guy:

But Erik still participated and we all went along for the ride! The team was a fun mix of friends we know from Delaware and friends from Mississippi and a new friend in between. They finished 66th/196 and everyone was still alive after it all!

We also got to go to Knoxville and visit Anna Jensen and her kids! My, how live has changed since we first met it Chem E 263 nine years ago. It does seem that we have eternally rubbed off on each other...she still eats peanut butter and bananas on her waffles and I am a Cadbury mini-egg addict!

En route to Knoxville I saw a sign for Mayfield Dairy tour. I couldn't resist taking a detour because I figured it might mean ice cream...or cheese. You can't have a dairy tour without one of those taste sensations! They didn't disappoint. We got to see how they package milk and then we enjoyed some ice cream afterwards! Taft particularly LOVED his hairnet (NOT)! I was only sad that we didn't also stop at the Sweet Water Farm a few miles down the road that boasted cheese!

All in all our trips were fun, but that brings us to this week. 
Mmm, there ain't nothin' better. I feel like we are relaxing and enjoying the simple things of life! Taft has taken a few attempts at walking in the past week. He can stand up and if he fancies he will walk. But mostly he still likes to crawl around, even outside! He doesn't mind the dirt and I have to tell myself that I don't either...because his dirtiness is mild compared to what Alyssa and her friends have experienced this week (scroll down).

I looked out the window the other day to see this.

Let me help interpret. That is Alyssa, kneeling in her long sparkly heart skirt (sorry Kristin, look away), playing in a puddle with Elsa and Anna dolls while her friend Chloe is playing with dinosaurs and Brayden (not pictured) is building a lake for them in the dirt behind them. Also not pictured - 5 chickens that sometimes have to have "surgery" or "lay eggs" according to the children's plans. It was extremely messy. Alyssa then changed, only to go back outside and re enter the mud resulting in a shower before dinner. 

But what it meant to me is that these three kids, though they have vastly different interests and ages (Alyssa (5) - princesses and dressing up, Chloe (11) - dinosaurs and some Freddy something or other, Brayden (10) - working, biking, and boy stuff, and Bryson (7) - Roger Roger, Legos, and Zurg), somehow manage to play together often and quite happily. Their adventures are unique, but all are engaged. Sometimes it is messy and sometimes I have to tell them to unbury the chickens or they might suffocate. Sometimes I won't let them in the house, but they are happy, good kids. It made my heart swell with joy to see them thus engaged this week and then to have it repeated, mud and all the next day! I am grateful we have these experiences and I hope to enjoy many more (as the observer).

Alyssa also met a milestone this week. She learned how to ride a bicycle and even moved up to her new, bigger bike! I had imagined hours of running behind her to help her, but I took her training wheels off (raised training wheels to one training wheel to none) and she took off on her first try! Erik asked how far she went when I told him and I explained that there was no way to measure the distance! She was all over everywhere and having a blast!


Odds and ends of life

2017 has started wonderfully! After all of our vacations we have slid back into life and its routines! 

We are a silly group of people!

Taft has adopted this chair as his walker. He also learned how to climb up into it! He is figuring out new talents everyday! He is at an age of imitation. He will start to swing his arms like our church chorister when he hears music start. He will fold his arms when he notices everyone is praying. He has started giving kisses - big, opened mouth wet ones. He loves to look through books and occasionally he'll let us read one to him. He wants to do what Alyssa and her friends are doing. He is often sad when we can't go outside with the rest of the kids!

Erik and Taft get their best naps together at church.

Alyssa is taking full advantage of her bathroom crayons and long sits on the toilet to practice her handwriting and nice note skills! 

In mid February my friend and freshman roommate flew into New Orleans for a visit to Vicksburg to see the LeMontes and us! We took our first trip since living in the south to New Orleans. We visited the WWII museum, ate the biggest donuts I've ever seen (Alyssa's chocolate sprinkle was too chocolatey), had beignets at Cafe du Monde, and took a tour of the cemetery and garden district of New Orleans. Apparently the Creoles don't believe in having exposed gardens, but the English and Americans who settled the area didn't mind surrounding their 10,000 sq ft houses with lavish gardens!

Taft fixed his kitchen sink while we were considering how to repair our leaky bathtub faucet. I think Taft's fix-it job did not take quite as long as the real problem but thankfully both are fixed now.

Yesterday Alyssa ran a 1 mile fun run! She ran it in 11:04! It was her first race that she ran by herself and she said she felt so brave! She had fun and felt proud of her accomplishment when she finished the race!

And again, Taft...this kid! He brings us so much joy!!