Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

The annual family picture at Grandpa Gordy's grave for Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hoop Dreams

I can't remember when we got our basketball hoop. I think it was about five years ago. It has really gotten a LOT of use. As it was dragged around and moved, the base wore through, so all the water weighing it down leaked out. We tried some patches and other weights, but on windy days, the hoop would tip over and smash into the street. While the backboard never broke, the hoop became more oval than circular, the various hooks holding the net on were smashed or broken off, requiring the use of duct tape to keep the net in place. The backboard became unscrewed, so that it tipped forward and slanted a bit to the right. And it would still fall over ... I was a bit worried it might hit a car or a kid. Callahan has been wanting a new hoop for quite a while now. He had a birthday earlier this year, and I suppose we really should have gotten a new hoop for him then. Recently, Callahan has been working hard (helping do derbies with his dad) and earned a bit of money, enough that we said we'd look for a new hoop. A neighbor had gotten a steal of a deal in the KSL classifieds, and we were keeping our eyes open, but we were always too late, all were sold before we could get it. So, we finally just bought one new, Grayson assembled it, and hopefully, Callahan is happy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


This week's scouting activity was SCUBA. They went over to the nearby Sports Chalet for their training and certification. The boys had a blast. Grayson (my gadget guy) got to try out the underwater digital camera.
Gray and Landon (above)
Landon and the rocket (below)

The gang
before (above) and after (below)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Seems Like Summer

We live in a great neighborhood. Tucked back so there isn't a lot of traffic, and then on a cul-de-sac to boot. I wish we had a nice, flat driveway to put our basketball hoop on, but alas, it's got a bit of an incline. So ... the basketball hoop is there on the street. Our hoop gets a LOT of action, not only from our kids, but from many of the neighbor kids as well. Horse, 21, Tornado, Poison ... or an actual game, it's fun to see the kids in action. It certainly felt like summer with a big group of kids playing streetball into the evening hours (didn't I post about SNOW just two days earlier?) ... Ironically, I'm missing my main basketball boy Callahan, who was out with his dad doing a derby (trying to earn enough money to buy a NEW hoop ... as this one's base leaks causing it to fall over a few times, resulting in a slightly oval shaped basket with broken hooks, requiring duct tape to help keep the net in place). I came out and took some pictures and video and made a little muvee. The munchkins were playing on the smaller hoop too. I got some good video of some great shots.

...and then ... it was quiet ... and my yard looked like this ...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dress for Success

My baby is growing up! In just the last little bit, he's started to dress himself, and it is such a big help! Before, he would roll out of bed and immediately want to be dressed. It didn't matter if I was still sleeping, busy exercising or making breakfast for the boys, I would have to stop and go help him get dressed. In the evenings we would send one of the older boys to help get his jammies on, and then one day, he did it all on his own. I then encouraged him to dress himself in the morning and he did great! Sometimes things get put on backwards or inside out, but it's all good. He still needs a little help, as he told me this morning "I can do it all but the zip and clip" (referring to his pants). Socks were a challenge (often he'd just put his shoes on without socks ... I was a bit frustrated the time we went bowling and I hadn't noticed he didn't have socks on!) but he's now mastered them too!

At first, I would try to lay Colton's clothes out for him. It encouraged him to go ahead and try dressing himself, and often my judgement was needed to match the weather conditions for the day (no shorts when it's snowing please). Generally, matching clothes isn't that big of a problem for little boys, as jeans go with pretty much anything. When the warmer weather rolled around however, Colton pulled out some interesting combinations of plaid shorts and patterned shirts. I tried to show him that there were various colors in the shorts, and if possible, we should get a shirt of a matching color (preferably one without a pattern). He's actually done pretty well making matches. This morning, I laid some clothes out (May 24th ... it's SNOWING outside). I put some jeans and a long sleeved red shirt. Colton put them on but commented that they were "wrong". When I asked him what he meant he said "the pants are blue and the shirt is red, they don't match!".

As Colton has started to get dressed himself, he's also become quite modest man. He always wants the door closed as he changes clothes and gets upset if anyone walks in on him in his underwear. He seems oblivious to the fact that more often than not, the blinds on the window are open, so anyone walking by outside would have a clear view. And of course, this is the same child who makes a mad dash from his room across the hallway to the bathroom totally naked!

Spring Snow

Is May 24 still considered "spring"? Just ONE week ago we hit 80 degrees and the kids were in swimsuits having a water fight in the back yard. My lilacs just bloomed ... and this morning? Snow!

The first thing Colton said as I pointed to the snow falling out the window was "Oh no, we put away the boots!" I keep a big basket right as the kids walk in the front door. During the winter months, this is where we keep the boots. For the summer months, it's the storage spot for balls, mits and summer sandals. Up until just a few days ago ... it STILL had boots in it. Although it's been a rainy spring, I figured it was safe to put the boots away. Silly me! But in truth, the snow isn't really sticking around. The sun is out and it's melting fast. Several years ago, there was a popular song with the line "sometimes the snow comes down in June" ... and I remember once we did actually get some snow in June ... will we this year, or was this the last snow of the season?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Food Feats and Family Fun

The young men had an activity at our home ... I'm not sure of all the details ... but it was basically a pizza eating competition.
They started off great, you can see how they would layer the slices and eat two or three at a time! But ultimately ... I think the pizza won. Landon says he won't eat pizza again for a while! This next activity (picture below) is a transition for the blog ... both a "food feat" and "family fun" ... an ice cream tasting event.
Grayson bought several different kinds of vanilla ice cream. From an inexpensive store brand, to a high priced gourmet. He placed the ice cream into identical containers (but labeled with a number) and then also blindfolded (or used a ski cap pulled over the eyes) so that we wouldn't be swayed by brand names or ice cream appearance. It was fun to try different kinds side-by-side and then everyone got to finish with their favorite.

Saturdays are usually full of sports, this last Saturday was no exception. Callahan had his last basketball game early (8:00!) and there were soccer and baseball games scheduled for later in the day. But the weather was rainy and cold, so both games were canceled, leaving us with an open afternoon. We packed up the kids and went to see a movie (How to Train Your Dragon). While it did still cost a bit with popcorn and drinks, we actually had free passes (there had been some sound issues when we'd taken the older boys to see Iron Man 2 a couple weeks ago, and the theater gave out free passes to say sorry). We don't go see movies as a family very often ... and the little ones had a bit of a hard time sitting though it ("is it time to go home yet?").

Back at home, Callahan and Keaton got Daddy to play Monopoly with them. Can YOU tell who is winning? Notice Grayson's Iphone there on the playing board ... no, he wasn't checking his email during the game, we had misplaced the dice, and the Iphone had a "dice" application! That's my gadget guy!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spring Basketball

Gene Fullmer has a jogging track above their basketball gym, and usually I'm there, jogging while cheering our team on. This last week however I came with the camera instead. I grabbed some photos and videos and then put together this little "muvee".

We were missing three boys from our team (although I had taken a group shot and some practice pictures earlier), so the video feels a little incomplete without them in it. So ... I made ANOTHER "muvee" of the last game *Ü*

I had some captions on it ... not sure where they went!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mountain Man

A couple years ago, Gray and I got out for a few hikes. He wanted to tackle Mount Olympus, but I wasn't so sure if I was up for it. We almost did it last year, but things came up and we didn't go. When Grayson's coworker suggested they try it together, I was a little relieved to be off the hook. The picture above is Gray at the trail head, the picture below is at the top of the mountain.
Gray and Dave actually made much better time than they had even anticipated (good thing I wasn't there slowing them down!). They RAN back down the trail! I've included a couple older pictures of previous "mountain" trips Gray has gone on with friends ...

Bouldering (above) and climbing (below) ... Can you see Gray there on the rock face?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A "KNEE"ded Diagnosis

Callahan has been having some knee pain for a couple of weeks now. There was no traumatic injury that we could remember, and the discomfort wasn't enough to keep him from being active. But about once a day, he would mention that his knee was hurting him. I decided to take him into the Kids Care just to get it checked out. They did an x-ray and said it looked like a fracture, a small chip off the knee cap. They immobilized his knee and told us to follow up with an orthopedic specialist. We saw a pediatric/knee/sports specialist at TOSH and he said that while there was a slight chance it was a fracture, without a specific injury to the knee, it was more likely Singding-Larsen-Johansson syndrome, also known as "Jumper's Knee". So Callahan does need to take it easy while it heals, ice the knee a few times a day, take anti-inflammatory medication and do some stretches ... but that is better news than surgery or a cast. While the doctor didn't really encourage it, he said that if Callahan could jog the basketball court without a limp, he could even play in the basketball game on Saturday ... then he should have a FORCED break between the spring and summer seasons.

Nuts! Allergy Alert

I was sitting at my computer when Colton came in crying saying he had eaten something "yucky" ... I had him show me what the offending item way, and it was a granola bar ... a peanut butter granola bar. Several years ago we had an allergy scare with baby, and ended up in the hospital overnight. Since then we'd managed to avoid all peanut butter and nuts for years (even at just four years old, he's quite aware, he ALWAYS asks before eating anything!). He was reacting, he got bumps all over his chin, and his tongue was swollen. He kept sticking it out and the poor kid was drooling down his shirt. I gave him some antihistamine ... I have an Epi-Pen, but it was old and for emergencies (difficulty breathing) ... the swelling did NOT seem to be moving back to his throat, so that was good. I snuggled with him and the medicine seemed to kick in and he was back to normal without too much incident.

When Keaton was little, he was allergic to a LOT of things. Milk, egg and he even had a reaction to steak! His worst reaction was when he was a little over a year old and got a nut at a Christmas party. It wasn't until we got Keaton diagnosed that I realized that Landon had nut allergies too. With the new perspective, I could look back at some times and put the pieces together (his didn't really show outwardly, but he would feel a "tickle" in his throat, he would ask for ice cream or a popsicle to "cool" his throat). Keaton outgrew most of his allergies, and he and Landon (and the other two) can have peanut butter, but we avoid all nuts for #1, #3 and #5. Luckily, it doesn't seem to be a life-threatening allergy, and usually the kids DO start reacting as soon as the trigger enters their mouth (they usually don't even swallow). So ... restocking the medication stores and hopefully, we'll be a little more careful!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bye Bye Baby Teeth

Cooper lost his FIRST tooth. It's been wiggling and loose for a while now. Early Saturday morning he excitedly told me it had fallen out. We put it under his pillow and he got $2 from the tooth fairy (I'm glad the tooth fairy was on top of things ... I can't TELL you how many times she's flaked out on our kids!).

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Noah Nursery

When we moved into our current home about 15 years ago, little Landon was just a toddler. We were soon expecting #2, and I had fun decorating the nursery with a Noah's Ark theme. The nursery pretty much stayed the same through the next three little boys as well.
As #5 outgrew the crib, it became a container for many of the stuffed animals in the home (seems appropriate for a "Noah" theme doesn't it?) ... ok, I admit ... Crazy Frog isn't really an animal (our big guy looks a little scary there doesn't he?). The room itself remained the baby's room ... his clothes stayed there, but although there was a twin bed in the room, he chose to sleep down the hall with his brothers. We talked about rearranging, giving the room to Landon, or making it into a den for Gray, but just weren't very motivated to make a change. Then my brother and his wife received the amazing news that they were expecting (via adoption ... wow, they are 7 months along already!). As they could use some baby stuff, we passed on the crib, changing table and rocking chair.

It really opened the room up! I actually LIKE walking past the room now as it's not so messy and cluttered. Still Noah themed for the moment, we're still debating what to do with it. All three of the older boys have expressed an interest. Being the oldest, Landon would probably get first dibs. He came and tried out the bed and said "I feel like Buddy the Elf" ... Landon has NEVER had a twin bed, ever! I'm not sure he can adapt at this point. Actually, I'm not sure if ANY of the boys would actually SLEEP in the room ... alone ... (being a bit cramped, all the brothers have always had to share a room and they are used to having someone else around at night). So at some point, we'll probably swap out the curtains and comforter ... and then the closet ... it still has all of Colton's clothes in there.


Let me start by saying I LOVE our neighborhood. Great neighbors, parks, library, sports and shopping all right close by...BUT... the elementary school ... there have been some frustrations, just ONE being getting the kids to and from school. The bus boundary is 1.5 miles. We live 1.35 miles away ... so NO bus. Now, if you know me at all, you know I'm a proponent of walking. I'm a pretty fast walker too, and it takes ME a good 20 minutes to make it to the school. The first half, through the neighborhood, is just fine. In fact, the kids wouldn't ever have to leave the sidewalk, but THEN ... you hit 7800 South ... the street couldn't get much busier ... across from a SuperWalmart and the huge Jordan Landing shopping complex, adjacent to Bangerter Highway (which we have to cross to get to the school), and now, there is constant construction too ... I do not LET my kids walk to school. Riding their bikes ... I have to say that scares me even more than walking! I have been lucky enough to arrange for a carpool, so I only have to drive one way, but with one child in kindergarten, I have an additional pickup every day. I do try to walk with my little ones safely in the stroller when weather permits. Here's just a glimpse of our "wonderful" walk ...
The canal ... I haven't heard of any kids falling into the canal, but this would be a constant stress for me if my kids were walking every day. It's completely open, easy access. In fact, taking the dirt canal road does nip some distance off the walk. But we take the longer, smoother path on the sidewalk through the neighborhood.
After the canal, you get to pass the horses. In addition to the LOVERLY smell, the fence has been broken down like this for a couple of years ... the inner fence is an electric fence ... I can just imagine the kids daring each other to try touching it ...Then there is this nice stretch of sidewalk. It bumps us silly .... can you say shaken baby syndrome? But I don't know how they will ever repair it, because if they tore it out to replace it, there would be absolutely NO place for pedestrians during construction. This is right before one of the several streets and driveways we must cross going down 7800... there has never been a crossing guard posted anywhere along the way (probably because so few kids end up walking ... like I said, I don't LET my kids walk).
The recent (and seemingly never ending) construction has pushed traffic RIGHT NEXT to the sidewalk. If I reached my arm out, I would touch the cars and trucks passing by. I don't know which is more terrifying, having the cars rush by coming from behind, or seeing them come head on! We get to experience both, on the way to and then from school. Often traffic is so backed up that the cars are pretty much at a standstill, but at other times, when traffic is flowing, the cars rush by so quickly the wind almost knocks us over. The sidewalk is decent size, but when you come across a group of people, or a lady with a double stroller (that would be me) there just isn't enough sidewalk to share, so you often end up stuck or struggling to pass without stepping out into the street.Right at the intersection of 7800 South and Bangerter Highway, we are hit by another scent ... sewer ... (suddenly the horse smell doesn't seem so bad). We always try to get by this grate as quickly as possible, holding our noses and our breath.
And then, there's the overpass. Always good to get a little INCLINE in your walk. Up, up, up, up, watch out for the graffiti, litter, broken glass and pigeon poop ... the wind on the walkway can also almost knock you over as well. Then down, down, down the overpass (hanging on to the stroller so we don't go too fast and can't make the turns) and ... we're at the school. Collect the kindergartner and ... back we go ... I can feel the additional 40+ pounds of an extra child as we go up, up, up the incline ...

Now, just so you don't think I'm an utterly negative person, there are some good points as well. Once you are back in the neighborhood, the walk is very pleasant. I LOVE our winding neighborhood. I DO stop and smell the flowers (literally!). The hanging basket (above) makes me smile every time I walk by it.

I also ADORE the spring blossoms on this path ... with the pink petals falling, they look so pretty blanketing the ground. A close up of the blossoms below ... I love when the smell just hits you as you walk by ...
And of course, I have the CUTEST kids! They happily talk and point things out as we walk. "There's a bird, that flower is yellow, I saw a bug" ... they love to see NUMBERS and call them out (and as there are addresses on the houses and mailboxes ... this is pretty easy to do). Of course they have to have their "treat" bag filled with goodies to munch on, and a blanket if it gets cold, and sunglasses if the day is too bright. Another funny thing they do is reach out and run their fingers along the fences. I have to keep them just the right distance, so that they can touch, but so I don't end up smashing them!

Home again home again jiggitty jig ... almost three miles on the pedometer ...until tomorrow ...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gadgets Galore

It wasn't long after Grayson purchased the Nook E-Reader, that Apple announced the Ipad ... Gray pretty much immediately felt extreme dissatisfaction with his Nook. I wondered how long Grayson would be able to withstand the pull of the Ipad ... not long! I had joked that he and the boys could get it for ME for Mother's Day, but he couldn't wait even that long. It does look pretty snazzy, not that I've played with it much. Gray is using it for work, and the boys love taking turns on it.

Now I DO have me a new gadget though. It's called the Fitbit and it's basically a fancy electronic pedometer. It tracks your steps and activity level and syncs with your computer, showing all the data in handy graphs. It is a sleep tracker as well. I actually haven't given up my Omron, but am wearing both *Ü* I ordered this back in February, but they haven't been able to keep the supply up to the demand, so it was several months before I actually got it.

I can compare the accuracy of both my pedometers when I'm walking/jogging outside with Grayson's Garmin. Now this fun toy uses GPS to display your distance, speed, etc. I'm actually an "indoor exerciser" and love my elliptical and treadmill, but this makes outdoor activities more interesting.

And below ... are my lovely wireless headphones. I have two different kinds (and three different Ipod shuffles). The Arriva ( below) is great, you can hardly even tell I'm wearing it. It's very portable (you can shove it into your pocket or purse, it bends). The Monster is a little more bulky and does make me look a bit like a cyborg, but on cooler days, the headphones actually keep my ears warm. It's nice that when I stop using it for a bit, I can just loop it around my neck before popping it up on my ears again.
Grayson has always been a gadget guy ... but it's really rubbed off on me, I'm a gadget girl!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bowling Boys

Now I have to say right up front that I don't care for year round school ... it's hard enough trying to get the kids on a schedule with homework, reading and bedtimes (and getting up early!), but it seems that once I think I'm there ... it's time for OFF-TRACK time. Luckily, there are several off-track options to help keep the boys busy when they aren't in school. A favorite one we've found is bowling at All Star Lanes. Twice a week I can drop the kids off for a couple of hours and they get to bowl, eat lunch and play a little in the arcade. There is some instruction, and then "free" bowling. The last day, it is usually "Cosmic" bowling, where they bowl in the dark with black lights and strobes and a fog machine. For the past few sessions, they have also had a small competition, the winner getting a wonderful bowling pin trophy. This last session, we came home with two of them! My boys love off-track bowling. This was actually Cooper's first time going, as he's generally preferred to stay home with me before. We also look forward to summer, when All Star Lanes offers the "Summer Safe Pass" which lets each one of us come for one free bowling game a day all summer long. We made it in several times last summer. Thanks All Star Lanes!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Goodbye Grandpa

Right smack in the middle of this great big group (and this is just the Westra clan), is Grandpa Norman. This last Thursday, he unexpectedly slipped into a coma and passed away. He would have been 95 this year. He shared his birthday with our #3, Keaton.

  • My main memories of Grandpa are pretty fishy ... because Grandpa was quite the fisherman. I remember the uber early mornings as we headed out to Strawberry Reservoir ... his little boat ... sleeping in the trailer on his truck. He was a hunter too, but I never went on those trips ... just saw some of the results hanging on the walls in the basement family room. They freaked me out.
  • I remember sleeping over at Grandma and Grandpa's house... shooting down their stairs and whirling around the bars there... dropping items through the laundry shoot ... running down the long, sloping sideyard ... picking raspberries from the garden and fruit from the trees ... barbeques around the gas grill in the backyard ... in the later years, playing a little rummy at the kitchen table.
  • I've always been very hesitant behind the wheel of a car, not liking to drive downtown or other locations outside my comfort zone. I remember Grandpa drove me to the airport so I could see a missionary friend on his way (remember when that was allowed ... both by the church and by airport security?)

Grandpa went out of his way to help me say goodbye then, and now we say goodbye to Grandpa.

Updating this post ... we went to Grandpa's funeral on Wednesday. I guess we really hadn't prepared the young ones. As we went into the room for the family viewing, Gray tried to explain a little to Colton, who promptly dissolved into tears. Soon Cooper was sobbing too. I had my hands full with two crying kids. During the service itself, Keaton suddenly looked at me and said he felt sick. I had to take him out just in case ... after a drink he was feeling a bit better. The service was nice, it was fun to learn more about Grandpa and talk about his life. At the cemetery, there was a miliary salute (the older boys thought that was cool, the younger boys did NOT like the noise), taps was played and Grandma was presented with a folded flag.

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