Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Laser Land

I'm always on the lookout for fun things for the kids to do, especially to keep busy during the summer months. I had noticed a flyer for a new play place called Fun 'n Motion which was opening up very close by (90th South and 40th West). It had bouncy houses ... but Jump'nBounce has a lot more. It had arcade games, but NickelMania or even the arcade at bowling had more ... BUT it was unique in that it had Laser Tag and a Laser Maze. These two activities made this place an instant favorite for the older kids (I think the young ones would actually like it too, but it is a bit pricey, and when the little ones didn't ask, I didn't push them to try it). I think the place has been open about a month, we hit it on Monday just to check it out, as Groupon was offering a deal ($11 for an all day pass) and I wanted to see if we should purchase it. We went with a coupon giving us a pizza, a pitcher of soda and 100 tokens for $20. Then I paid for a game of laser tag and laser maze for Landon and Keaton (Callahan had left that morning for scout camp). They liked it ... a LOT!

As Keaton and Landon had the laser activities, I let the little ones use most of the tokens ... it's amazing how quickly kids can go through 100 tokens! Cooper was pretty happy about hitting the jackpot in a couple of the games and winning quite a few tickets. The boys love collecting tickets and redeeming them for prizes.

We got a pizza, and all the boys said it was yummy. Landon and Keaton wanted to do more laser tag ... Landon really wanted Cooper and Colton to try it, but at $6 a game, well ... I shut it down for the day and we went home and bought the Groupon. I wanted to wait a week (for Callahan to be able to go too), but Landon and Keaton were too anxious to try it again ... we went back the next day (well, I just dropped the two older boys off). Unlimited laser tag and laser maze. They lasted a few hours and got in several games of each. With the maze, they keep a record of the top 10 times (three levels, Rookie, Veteran, Elite) since the place opened. They also keep a video loop of the kids with the fastest times. Keaton was so excited because he had placed in the top 10 for the higher levels, and was holding the first place spot on the rookie level! He completed the challenge in just 13 seconds! He wanted to get a picture and video (before somebody broke his record) ... so we actually went back AGAIN that day with camera in hand, but I was glad for the pictures and video to make a muvee of his accomplishment!

I bought four unlimited passes on my Groupon account, and four more on Grayson's account. So after using two today, the three older boys can go back a couple more times. We look forward to introducing Callahan to the place. The little boys want to go back too. We'll be keeping our eyes peeled for more coupon deals!

Sunday, July 24, 2011


We didn't do a lot of fireworks this year (not that we really do ANY year, but still, this year was even less than our normal). But with the new laws, allowing aerial fireworks legally, the neighbors provided more than enough of a show (and there were still plenty of illegal fireworks I think!) For the 4th, I had purchased a few parachutes, tanks and sparklers. With Utah having it's state celebration, the fireworks stands were still around a couple weeks later for the 24th, and I did hit one of the booths and pick up a few more things. Popits, smoke bombs, and more parachutes.

A couple years ago I had found these "Osama Bin Laden" fireworks ... it lets out a screaming noise and then the top blows off. Landon had liked them then, and when world events happened a couple months ago, Landon remembered these fireworks. The booth still had them in stock so I picked up a couple.

Colton didn't love the sparklers, which is actually ok by me. Callahan had received a box of fireworks for his belated birthday, so the boys set those off as well. We still had some parachutes, smoke bombs and snaps, which we took out to Mom's house and set off while visiting cousins. I am ready for all the fireworks to end ... seems like people have been shooting them off every night! I'm ready for a little quiet as I head to bed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Inflatable Fun

Being a holiday weekend, we didn't have any basketball games on Saturday ... but we kept busy! Cooper had a birthday party in the morning, and in the evening, we were invited over to our friends, the DiFrancesco's. They had also had a birthday party (for a cousin) in their backyard, and still had a big inflatable obstacle course. The boys had a lot of fun jumping and bouncing and just being crazy!

Look at that perfect flying form!

Relaxing as he falls ...

I took a lot of pictures and video and put together a muvee ...

With all that crazy jumping, we only had a couple minor body burns, and two bloody noses ... not too bad for bouncy Blackham boys and our DiFrancesco friends! Thanks again for having us over!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Floats & Forced Family "Fun"

Cooper's Favorite Float
The dragon sprayed water!

So last year, Cooper and I went to the Parade Preview at the South Towne Expo center. The rest of the family was in Seattle, so it was just the two of us. We really enjoyed it, and I was so excited to share this event with the whole family this year. It wasn't great ... the floats were great, but the Blackham Bunch was a bit off. It's probably my own fault, I'd taken the boys swimming at Kearn's earlier in the day, and after three hours of swimming and sun, they just weren't up for any more forced family fun.

Callahan conceded to take a picture in front of the "U" float.

Keaton and Colton liked the Kung Fu Panda

Mmmm... KFC

So ... the evening didn't turn out exactly as I'd hoped. I didn't even attempt a family photo, even though we ran into my brother Chris there (and I took a family photo for them). I really think the parade preview is a great event. I love seeing the floats up close and personal, in air conditioned comfort, and while there are some crowds, it's nothing compared to the parade route. But next year? I think I might just go by myself!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Swimming Lessons

For the past few years, the Blackham Boys took swimming lessons at the West Jordan Middle School pool every summer. Last year, with the Jordan School District making cuts ... the pool was one of the casualties. So as summer started this year, I had to look elsewhere. There is an outdoor pool next to Gene Fullmer (where the boys play basketball) and we decided to give it a try. Signing up was a little more difficult; there was only one day of signups (the Wednesday before) and only six spots per class. I went at 7:00 in the morning to make sure I would get a spot for the boys, and as all levels aren't taught at the same time, I was very relieved when I got both boys in at the same time (9:45-10:15, Cooper in Level 3 and Colton in Level 2). Here's my random thoughts comparing the venues:
  • Lesson Length: This year it was 30 minutes, compared to a full hour last year. I think the boys actually liked the shorter lesson. It was nice that this pool allowed a 15-min window in-between lessons (WJMS had them back to back, and that made for some crowded walkways with people coming and going at the same time).
  • Outdoor vs Indoor: It was refreshing to be outdoors. I was a little worried about the kids getting sunburned, but it was such a short time out each day, and so early, that it wasn't really an issue. And of course, there was the weather ... several overcast days, with one Tuesday lesson being cancelled (pushed to Friday) due to rain and wind.
  • Classes and Crowds: These classes were smaller (only six kids) vrs up to twelve at WJMS (although they would then have two teachers, so a similar ratio really). The WJMS was rather crowded, constant crossing of paths. There was a bit more room here at the outdoor pool, but they were still often confined to small areas (a large portion of the pool was roped off for lap swimming and water aerobics).
  • Teachers and Teaching: The boys each had a variety of teachers over the eight lessons, a little less consistency than at WJMS (maybe it was just our session). Both locations went by the Red Cross standards, but there were many things I'd seen at WJMS that I didn't see here (a concentrated safety day, climbing down a pool to a deep portion of the pool), and vice versa (more games, collecting rings, etc.) I liked the teaching at both locations, but after a few years of identical lessons, it was actually nice to have some new activities and slightly different approach.
  • Deep Waters: The outdoor pool had a much larger shallow section. At the WJMS pool, the kids (especially the small ones) had to be careful not to let go of the side, or they could be in trouble in the 3 1/2 foot water ... here, the kids could swim then simply stand up without a problem (although they did move to deeper water for some of the lessons).
  • Solo vs Group: We've always gone with the group lessons, but if you want to pay more, you could opt for private or semi-private lessons. I was able to observe a private lesson going on, and I actually think the group dynamic is better for my boys. They enjoy meeting new "friends" and having a little "off-time" (while the teacher is working with the others) to rest or goof off.
  • Walking While Waiting: At the WJMS pool, I would walk the length of the pool (which wasn't really very long) while I waited. Occasionally, on the cooler days, they would keep the doors closed, trapping me inside where it was hot and humid and even less room to walk. The outdoor pool was better for me. I could have walked around the entire thing, but I generally just walked about halfway around (from one child's area to the next) and then backtracked. During the 30 minutes, I could get about 3000 steps in (about a mile and a half).
Cooper had actually passed Level 3 last summer, but he was very worried about moving up to Level 4, and he is very young and small to be there, so I put him in Level 3 again. I was glad that he did pass it again ... although I STILL don't know if I'll move him up to Level 4 until he's more comfortable with the idea (me too). There was another "Cooper" in his class (Big Cooper ... he was in 5th grade). Colton did well, but will need another session to perfect his Level 2 skills. I love to watch him, he's absolutely unafraid (although he is aware of his limitations). I'm glad we found another location to get our swimming lessons in, while we were so sad the WJMS pool closed, we were all very happy with our experience here at the WJ Outdoor Pool.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Belated Birthday

Back in February, Callahan turned twelve years old ... now he's only had ONE "friend" birthday party (we usually limit them to once every few years and just have family celebrations annually). I had promised him he could have one for his big #12 ... we talked about some possibilities, but everything was so expensive and we just didn't get it planned. Saturdays were busy with basketball (although school was out for his actual birthday, on Monday the 21, for President's Day ... I have NO excuses!) Callahan was wishing his birthday was in the summer months, when it was warm and we could have a water party and play basketball. I did bring up the possibility of having a belated birthday in the summer ... and now, summer was here. His basketball team had a bye and wasn't playing, we had an open Saturday ... so, it was time. Happy Belated Birthday Callahan! He invited his basketball team and some friends from the neighborhood/school. It was a wet and wild time. We had ...
  • Dunk Tank: This was the main attraction. Kids had fun being both the dunker and the dunkee. We actually picked it up early (thanks Uncle Clay!) Friday night and enjoyed an extra day of play, making sure the little ones got plenty of action too. Grayson allowed himself to be dunked ... and so did I.
  • Waterballoons and Slingshots: We set up Grayson's wonderful waterballoon filler (so seven people can be filling at the same time), and in addition to the regular small waterballoons, we used bigger, regular sized ones and even the long, twisty ones to make long water snakes. With the smaller balloons, the kids could use slingshots to hurl them over the house (or at each other). There are little plastic pieces of balloons ALL over our yard.
  • Diet Coke Geyser: Have you seen the Mentoes/Diet Coke experiment? We've done it before, but I picked up a handy dandy little item (Geyser Tube) that made it quick and easy ... we did it four times.
  • Water Rockets: We used the empty two-liter Diet-Coke bottles on Grayson's fun rocket launcher's to propel them high into the air, spraying water as they went.
  • Paracord Party Favors: A final activity was letting the boys make a paracord bracelet to take home.

And of course, cake and ice cream! We love the chocolate cake from Sam's Club ... although THIS was the first time it was finished off entirely in one sitting (I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, with that many teenaged boys!). I should have used the insta-light candles, this crowd would have appreciated them. Oh well. I think Callahan had a happy birthday ... even if it was five months late.

Keaton still had a basketball game later that day (at 5:00) ... I was tired from the party and was worried that Keaton would be worn out too, but no worries there! Keaton had a GREAT game, view his highlights here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Upstart Program

Last year my sister-in-law told the family about a little program she had enrolled her daughter in, it's a free, at-home "preschool" developed by the Waterford Institute. It's to help kids get a jump on learning before entering kindergarten. Upon her recommendation, three more of the Westra grandkids (Colton being one) were accepted into the program (there are a limited number of spaces, so you do want to register early). After an orientation, we were sent home with an external hard drive and then Colton was to work with Rusty and Rosie Raccoon for 15 minutes, at least five days a week.

Some days he was really good at doing his computer preschool. Other days I had to push (and bribe) him. We just finished up and are returning our equipment. Between his regular preschool, Rusty and Rosie, and just being a smart little fellow, I think Colton is more than ready for kindergarten!

If you have a preschool age child and wanted to look into Rusty and Rosie for yourself ... here's the link to Utah Upstart.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cookies and Cousins


As we were growing up, we always had a lot of interaction with Uncle Merrill and his family. As we all got older, it was harder to have family gatherings with all the spouses, kids, etc., because it was such a big group. But today, my mom hosted a "Cookies and Cousins" party, and we had a great turnout. It was so fun to visit my cousins that I hadn't seen in a while. There were plenty of cookies, and while it was drizzling a bit outside for a good portion of the evening, that didn't deter the kids. I brought jumpropes, hula hoops and catch games, my dad set up the golf shoes, and everyone stayed quite busy. I actually didn't take many photos/video, but what I did get I've featured in a little video ...

At the end of the evening, a huge rainbow formed across the sky ...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sports and Storms

Saturday ... time for some basketball! Keaton was up first, playing at Taylorsville today. It was a pretty close game, but our boys won by one! Keaton had a good game with six points. His highlights are here.

Callahan's game was a little later at Gene Fullmer. We knew going in it would be a tough one. The other team actually wasn't that big (compared to some of the kids we have and will face) but they were good! They made almost every shot, and our team just couldn't land many. It was a down game for Callahan ... literally ... he was well acquainted with the floor. His ... can't really call them highlights ... are here. Chin up Callahan ...

During Callahan's game, we heard a roaring above, like a plane flying low overhead ... except that it went on for 5-10 minutes. As we left the gym, we saw that it had rained (and hailed), quite a storm. Later Grayson and I went to Red Robin at the District for a dinner date. We were glad we hadn't been seated on the patio, because a big storm hit again, with heavy winds. The wind caught the water from the fountain in front of the movie theater and it looked like a hurricane outside! Back home with his brothers, Cooper was a little stressed out. I mentioned his fascination with tornadoes in a previous post, and at that time I said he didn't seem to be afraid ... unfortunately that has changed. Wind, rain, even clouds in the sky seem to scare him. Poor Cooper!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summer Jobs

When I was young, I remember the STAR CHART making an appearance every summer to track our jobs and earn prizes. It was always very motivating for me. As a parent, attempting to teach MY kids to work, we've tried several things. I did a post last year (at the end of the summer) about this (Whistle While You Work), documenting our "white board" job chart, and reviewing some of the previous projects.

For 2011 ... once again, we are trying something new. I really do think novelty often adds to the success of something working with kids (especially MY kids). While reading the newspaper, I noticed an article about an online job chart ... as we are a very tech family, I thought the kids might enjoy this. It was pretty easy to set up and personalize. I'm keeping the "points" values pretty low (just one point for most "jobs" ... and some of the things they can get points for really can't be considered a "job", but hey ...). The kids can earn 10+ points a day without too much effort. They can redeem points for prizes (a candy bar, pack of basketball cards, small toy ... or for Landon, a late night out with friends).

As our summer just started, we've only been implementing this program for about a week, but so far so good. As usual, Cooper is the most invested. He really likes rules and structure and routine, in fact he can get a little obsessive about it. Callahan had been the sole child to continue on with our "old" program, keeping track of his jobs and collecting a small paycheck each week ... the points in this program don't have quite the monetary potential he was used too, so he's not totally thrilled with the new system.

... we'll see how it goes ... gotta go make some updates to the job lists now ...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Start of Summer Breakfast

Every year, as the school lets out and "summer" officially begins for the boys, we have a "start of summer" breakfast. We do this at the end of the summer too. Last year we went to Virg's ... and the boys love that place, but I had a coupon to "The Outpost" so we went there. For MY breakfast, I like pancakes, bacon and hashbrowns ... I don't care for eggs. It's very hard to find this combination anywhere, I always have to get the hashbrowns on the side, or substitute them for an extra charge. At Outpost, they have a perfect breakfast platter with all three (ok ... it does come with eggs too, but Gray or the boys will usually eat them). They also have GREAT french toast, and really reasonable prices. I needn't have ordered the extra two pancakes ... summer, here we come!

Now I know you're not supposed to swim right after eating ... but after our breakfast we headed to Grandma's house. The boys hit the pool, while Mom and Grandpa played a little tennis (then joined the boys, the cool water was welcome after working up a sweat). A tennis ball (a few of them) joined everyone in the pool too! One of the things the boys like best about swimming at this pool is throwing a ball with Grandpa. Nice catch Cooper!

Boohbah ... I mean Callahan.
Hopefully we'll be able to hit the pool a few more times during the summer. We've actually been a couple times already (on Friday afternoons when the boys got out early from school). Thanks Grandma and Grandpa for letting us come out!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Return of the Rangers

Colton, Cooper and their buddy Jacob ...
Can you name WHICH types of Power Rangers they are?
Can you sing their theme songs?
I can ...

It seems like Power Rangers have been around forever ... I remember first finding them when Landon was just a little guy. Through the years, we picked up a few costumes here and there. We've had a lot of the action figures around for quite a while. Usually they are away in a box, but every so often they would reappear.

And they're back ... the cause of their return? Netflix. We had a few movies on DVD (and VHS!) but recently, Netflix added ALL (I think all, there are SO many) the series to their instant stream. We've been watching a LOT of Power Rangers this past week! Many of the older ones I remember from years ago, other more recent ones that are completely new to me. We had to dig out the costumes ...

If you haven't seen Power Rangers ... some (ok, all) of them are pretty cheesy. Often we just laugh out loud at some of the lines and fight scenes. Every "type" of ranger (series) has it's own theme song. Yes ... we know most of them and have several on the Ipod. How many Power Rangers are there?

  • Mighty Morphin
  • Alien
  • Zeo
  • Turbo
  • Space
  • Lost Galaxy
  • LightSpeed (the red ranger's last name is "Grayson" so I've got to like him ...)
  • Time Force
  • Wildforce (this series has the famous "Forever Red" episode, with ALL the red rangers to date making an appearance)
  • Ninja Storm
  • Dino Thunder
  • SPD
  • Mystic Force
  • Operation Overdrive
  • Jungle Fury
  • RPM
  • Samuai (this is new, as of 2011 ... not streamable, so I haven't seen this)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fun on the Fourth

Independence Day Weekend ... I read an article in the paper, wishing people would call it "Independence Day" rather than just "The 4th of July" to help everyone remember why we are celebrating. The boys were on scout "Flag Duty" in the morning (putting flags up all throughout the neighborhood ... it does leave you feeling patriotic to see all the flags flying).

Anyway, Grayson's brother's family was in from out of town for the holiday. On Thursday, we went up to Maga's to visit and roast hotdogs in Grandpa Rex's new firepit. The kids had a fun time playing with their cousins. Then we had a big get together again on Monday at Uncle Clay's house. Maga had brought a big waterslide for the kids ... and where there's water ... there's a waterfight. I had my camera out for some pictures and video ...

I hadn't purchased many fireworks for our family (some sparklers, parachutes and tanks), but the neighbors sure put on a show! Keeping "Independence Day" in mind, it really did make a difference as the fireworks exploded overhead ... the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What Do You Do In The Summertime ...

If you have young kids, there is a good chance you are familiar with Phineas and Ferb. These two crazy kids want to make the MOST of their summer vacation ... and so do WE! A friend posted a list of fun things to do on her blog, and I thought it was a great idea. A good reference for those days the boys say "there's NOTHING to do" and hopefully with a list in black and white, we'll make more of an effort to hit the various activities. If their school teacher assigns the "What I did on my summer vacation" essay, I want them to have SOMETHING to write about. So here's a list of hopefuls ... and I might continue to add to it as I (or the boys) think of more things. What do YOU do in the summertime?

  • Go out to breakfast
  • Mountain Mikes
  • Chuck-E-Cheese
  • SubZero
  • Lagoon
  • The Alpine Slide
  • Bowling
  • Swimming at Grandma's Pool
  • Swimming at Kearns (KOPFC)
  • Splash Pads
  • Water Balloon Slingshot
  • Water Rockets
  • Jump and Bounce
  • NickelMania
  • Go to a Movie
  • Go to a Drive In
  • Host an Outdoor Movie at home
  • Go on a Hike
  • Play Tennis
  • Miniature Golf
  • Make Homemade Icecream
  • Roast Smores
  • Go Camping
  • Make Flubber
  • Family Bike Ride
  • BBGun Shooting
  • Go Fishing
  • Go to the Park
  • Days of 47 Float Preview Party
  • Daybreak Docks
  • Drive by the "UP" House
  • Launch Rockets
  • Kong Cones at Maceys
  • Jumpropes & HulaHoops
  • Car Show
Then there's Boondocks, Classic Fun Center, Hollywood Connection, Cherry Hill ... many other places I'm sure, although with five kids it tends to get a little spendy, so I'm not sure they are really on MY list ...

And just to leave you with a few MORE ideas ...
here's a list from Phineas and Ferb ...

What do YOU do in the summertime???

Friday, July 1, 2011

Last Week of School

Year round school gets out LATE ... Landon and other traditional schools started their summer almost a month ago, but finally, it was the last week of school for the Blackham Boys. There was the end of year testing, and final grades. There was a final assembly for Honor Roll, all three boys got awards (again). They started with the younger kids ... when they announced Cooper, Callahan and Keaton and all their friends cheered SO loud! It was the biggest cheer of the entire assembly! These are my "Good Grade Guys!"

In addition to going to the school to see the boys receive their awards, we went on another day to see Cooper's 1st grade program. Now Cooper had been a little stressed about the program. He had been talking to me about it for a couple of weeks, not sure that he knew all the words to all the songs. I told him not to worry, that there were a lot of kids singing, plus the pre-recorded voices, and that all the parents would be looking at their own kids ... not at Cooper. But, as the day arrived, and the kids went to perform for the school (the parent assembly was later in the day) Cooper felt sick and called home. His teacher also thought it was just nerves, and we tried to get him to start the program (to see if he'd be ok once he was there) but he still indicated he wasn't feeling well. I brought him home and ... he seemed ok. So I told him I wanted him to try his program. We went back at 3:00 and he did great ...

Cooper wasn't the only one to feel some stress during the final week ... Keaton also had a melt down regarding his class "Ghost Town Days". All the kids had different stations, Keaton and Co. was the "mine" and while I had picked up some butterscotch candy (gold pieces) for him it wasn't going to be enough (he of course tells me this at 9:00 the night before). Luckily I found a couple packages of Hershey's Kisses (silver nuggets). Really ... these last few days are supposed to be FUN!
I'm not sure what they used to make his face messy ...
but it was hard to get off!

Then there was Field Day. Grayson volunteered to be in charge of this a few years back, so I know how much work it is! After a couple of years of running it, and a couple years of helping out, I decided to sit out helping this year, but I did go and take pictures ...

I found Callahan's class first ... but no Callahan. He was in the office nursing a bonked head ... he was ok and came back out to finish the day. Cooper had also fallen and hurt his leg (luckily not his recently broken arm, I told him to be careful and avoid any questionably activity!)

Friday was the last day ... school's out for summer!

Daily Doings (July2011)

0731 (Sunday) Cooper was very concerned about church today, because a storm was in the forecast. He made it through, although I could see him struggling with his emotions during primary. Colton "prayed" the scripture ... we need to work with him a bit I guess. We had our usual Sunday circles for breakfast. I made ziti for dinner, and to take as a gift to Aunt Alicia, as it was her birthday party celebration. Landon had a fireside, and Gray stayed home with Cooper, who didn't want to go out because of the stormy weather. The other three kids and I went to Grandmas to see cousins and have some cake and ice cream. I brought Chex mix and the jumpropes and hula hoops. I thought the kids might be sick of them by now, but they still were used a lot. Daddy made chocolate shake in a blender when we got home ... Cooper's favorite.

0730 (Saturday) Started off the day with a little cardio, then started working on getting the house clean for Grayson to come home to. I didn't get as far as I wanted, they got home a lot earlier than I expected (around 10:00). Keaton had a game at 1:00. It was against a very good team (one that would have been better suited to play Callahan's crew, and had played them in the past before leaving the rec league to try superleage and AAU). So it was a tough game, Keaton took a few hard falls. Callahan's game was at 4:00 against Steve's  (Keaton's coach) older team. We were expecting a beating going in, so the boys were thrilled when they were leading for the first quarter. The other team did come back, and it was a loss, but only by five. It was a good game. Gray was gone shopping when we got back, picking up some supplies for future work BBQs. He then took the older boys to Philly Cheesesteak for some dinner and then Iceberg for shakes. Landon's friends came over in the evening and hung out for quite a while. I made some cookies for them, they stayed out chatting on the front lawn until 11:30.

0729 (Friday) Mowed the lawn in the morning, then decided to take the kids to Classic. There had been a Groupon the other day ($20 for four to the waterpark, plus token, pizza and a drink). I hadn't been there, but had seen it driving by on the freeway. It really wasn't too far away. At first I wasn't sure if it was going to "take" with the kids. They went down the slides a couple times, and the older boys seemed a bit bored ... then it kicked in and they had a blast. We stayed for three hours. Cooper had a little bit of trouble as some clouds rolled in. I took him in with me as we looked over the rest of the place. They have laser tag, blast zone, bounce houses, a jungle (ropes and climbing), skating and arcade. I had him play a few games. The kids liked the pizza. Colton took a tumble off one of the inflatable slides and got a big bump on his head. All in all, it was a successful day. The older boys were quite good helping with the little ones. I got a bit more sun than I intended. In the evening, Callahan had basketball practice. I took Keaton, Cooper and Colton with me, and we went and played in the park behind the gym. There was a little thing where you could rotate pieces, and Keaton spelled out "COOP", then "MOM", then "COLT" ... I took a picture of all of them, but when I went to move them to the computer, there was a malfunction and they were lost. I was sad about that. They boys seemed to have fun at the little park. Klint (Callahan's coach) had some kids drop off his summer team, so he's invited Keaton to come play on the 3rd/4th for the remaining games (three left) and come practice with the team (Fridays at 6:00). Home again home again ... Gray and Landon will be back in the morning. Didn't get a lot of cardio in, I am feeling my weight workout from Wednesday!

0728 (Thursday) We met friends at Jump 'N Bounce in the morning. We were getting ready to leave, and making plans for the three younger kids to go play at DiFrancesco's house when Gunderson's came in ... so Callahan wanted to stay and jump more with Stockton. I said I'd pick him up when he was done, but Stockton's family ended up dropping him off and saving me the trip. I picked up the other boys after a couple hours of play, stopping to fill up the car with gas, drop off DVDs at Blockbuster and grab some breadsticks from Little Ceasers.

0727 (Wednesday) Today Landon was leaving for Youth Conference, Grayson was coming home from scout camp and heading up to join the group. I didn't really know the times, so didn't plan much for the day. Landon should have had some activities in the morning, but he didn't get off and I didn't make him. I dropped him off at the church at 1:00. Gray got home a bit later ... with Callahan. Camp Stiener is at a very high elevation and I guess Callahan was hit with some altitude sickness. Dizziness, coughing, both nights were bad for him, he had a night terror episode. Gray just thought it would be better to bring him back, and I would have been worried, so happy to have him home. I had thought about trying to get in a "fun" activity today (bowling or something) but decided just to let Callahan recoup. It was a good exercise day with cardio and weights.

0726 (Tuesday) We didn't really have anything planned for today ... I ended up taking Landon and Keaton back for Fun 'n Motion for some more laser tag and laser maze ... but I didn't spring for the little guys. We just dropped the big boys off and then went to Maceys, stocking up on some Gogurt and other groceries. We picked up the boys a little later and drove by the library and Dominos. Keaton had actually set a record for the laser maze and wanted it documented ... so I took him back and grabbed some video and pictures and came home and made a muvee. It started to rain ... then REALLY come down. Of course Cooper freaked out. I tried to get him distracted with headphones and music, a gameboy and a video, in his room with the blinds drawn. He didn't want me to leave his side but I had to, as the raingutter in back had clogged and water was gathering in the window well, and overflowing into the basement! Luckily it was the one in the unfinished area (the furnace room and exercise room), so no carpet or walls were damaged. But I did go out and jump into the window well and started bailing to prevent too much water from coming in the house. Landon and Keaton were a big help too. All three of us were completely drenched! Keaton had scouts and then  basketball practice in the evening. I usually walk the park, but it was still drizzling and I don't know that Cooper could have coped with me being gone very long.

0725 (Monday) Gray and Callahan were off for scout camp early in the morning. A whole week for Callahan! Gray will come home on Wednesday, but head right out again for Youth Conference, Landon will be leaving Wednesday too. Around 11:00, I took the boys and we went to check out a new fun center "Fun 'N Motion" that is close by. Nothing new with the bouncy houses and arcade, but there was a laser tag and laser maze section that was fun. I went ahead and bought some all day passes for the future ($11 each), I'll probably use them for the older boys rather than the little ones though. Then I took Landon to Best Buy to get him a different case for his Ipod. He decided it was a little bulky, and with Keaton and the other kids using my old 4th generation, I was happy to take the Otterbox case and use it on that one. Then we headed out to Grandmas, to see cousins (Jensens) up from St. George. Janika and Jase had been at youth conference, but had returned today around 1:00. Jaiden had smashed her fingers on the weight set downstairs and Wendy had spent most of last night at the ER with her. The cousins played and we all went swimming (not Jaiden, with her hand though). Conner was there too. After swimming, I picked up some pizza and breadsticks (and some Wendys, for Landon and Keaton, who didn't want Little Ceasers). Grandma made brownies, and S&A came with cookies. We jumped rope, did hula hoops, played Cosmic Catch, lit some fireworks ... then it started to sprinkle and Cooper freaked out. When the rain came down harder, he was pretty hysterical, so that ended the night for us.

0724 (Sunday) Gray went for a long run in the morning before church. We did our usual Sunday Circles. I played for both Jr. and Sr. Primary. Walked to and from church and got in three sessions on the elliptical. Made homemade oreos for the Sunday treat and worked a little updating the recipe book.

0723 (Saturday) Gray took off fairly early to head up to Pineview to try and scout out a climbing area for the upcoming Youth Conference trip. I got the boys cleaning, then took Cooper and Co (Ridley and Marc) to a birthday party at the park for some school friends. I dropped them off, then picked up some fireworks and stopped at Smiths for groceries. Barely got home in time to unload, then went to pick the kids up. Gray came home, but turned right around and headed up to Smith and Edwards with the two older boys. I took the three younger ones and went over to Tony, Marc and Mara's house. They had a big birthday party earlier for a cousin and had a big inflatable in their backyard. The kids enjoyed playing, we stayed for several hours.

0722 (Friday) We went to JumpAndBounce as soon as it opened at 10:00, sans Landon, who is wasting the summer away sitting in front of the television. The other boys had a blast with their buddies Tony, Marc and Mara. We stayed three hours, and then invited the kids over to our house to play for a while. In the evening, Gray and I went out to Market Street Grill for our anniversary dinner. 19 years ... Gray gave me a 32gb Touch ...

0721 (Thursday) Last day of swimming lessons for the boys. Cooper passed level three (again) ... but I might let him do it AGAIN until he is actually confident in himself. Colton would need to do level 2 again (not a big surprise either). The little boys wanted more swimming, I wanted to hit Kearns this summer, and Landon and Callahan would both be gone next week, so it seemed a decent day. Landon was a teenager about it ... didn't want to go with US, only friends, but I said he had to come, and I needed the help of the older boys a lot! Colton likes the small pool and the bucket, but Cooper wants to swim and dive, which is several pools over. The big boys were a big help. We stayed for about three hours. It was fun but exhausting. In the evening I had planned on the parade preview, and I probably shouldn't have done two "family fun" things in one day ... and we should have bagged the parade preview as everyone was miserable. I think next year I'll just go enjoy it all by myself ... and I think I'm done forcing family "fun" ...

0720 (Wednesday) I had originally planned on a JumpAndBounce visit this morning after swimming lessons, but then went Monday (and plan to go Friday) instead ... but the kids had heard me say J&B Wednesday morning and held me to it. I called and invited R&R the night before. While it's fun visiting with the other moms, it's also nice just to bring a book and read, which is what I did today. It was really crowded! Back to school night in the evening for the three youngest kids. Last year it was a huge carnival type thing, with inflatables and snow cones and such, this year it was just meeting the teachers and getting a treat. Cooper teacher wasn't who we expected, and his friend Marc isn't in his class :( (Ridley and Jaxon are though).

0719 (Tuesday) A bad night ... stressed over the school situation for Callahan (got a registration packet from Elkridge ... when we turned in our stuff to West Hills) ... no one is available at the schools until Aug 1. Hope we can get it straightened out. It was a bit stormy in the morning, I wondered if they might postpone swimming lessons, but didn't get a call. We went and it was cool and a bit breezy, but fine. Stopped for donuts on the way home ($3.99 for a dozen glazed at Dunford, of course I had to grab a few assorted favorites as well ... and of course I had to eat one ... or two). Tried to out cardio the calories, walked during swimming lessons, did several elliptical sessions and weights. Callahan had an ortho appointment at 2:00. I dropped him and ran to Kohls, picking up a couple jeans for Gray with the 30% off and $10 coupons, and got a $10 Kohls Cash back. After the appointment, Callahan and I stopped by the bank to deposit a check and open him an account (as I've been holding his money for him). While we were there, a HUGE thunderstorm hit. It was incredible, it looked hurricane force. All I could think about was Cooper freaking out at home (which he was). Callahan and I made a dash for the car, getting drenched. The rain pretty much stopped by the time we got home. Cooper had locked himself in his room. I tried to comfort him. He wasn't happy when I had to leave a little later (taking Keaton to basketball practice) but Daddy saved the day, taking him and Colton out to the candy store at Gardner Village. I jogged the park during the practice. Callahan had gone too and got a good workout with the team.

0718 (Monday) Second week of swimming lessons for the boys. It was a little overcast today, Cooper has been SO concerned with the weather. Clouds, wind, rain ... afraid of thunderstorms and tornadoes. Back at home after, the kids seemed a bit bored, so I told them we could go to JumpAnd;Bounce. I sent texts off to a couple other families (more fun with friends) and luckily Gundersons were able to join us there. The kids had so much fun that Callahan, Cooper and Colton wanted to continue playing, and went to their house after for a couple of hours. I got the front lawn mowed and a bit of elliptical in. A run to Walmart and chicken pillows for dinner.

0717 (Sunday) We had our usual breakfast. Walked to and from church and did some elliptical ... also got a little alone time and sun. Homemade oreos for the Sunday treat.

0716 (Saturday) I really don't love birthday parties, or birthdays themselves really. The morning was a bit rough, as Gray said he had to go into work, and would only be back as the party started. He took Landon too, so I was on my own for party prep. I ran to the store (more balloons ... I'd purchased tons of water balloons, but between scouts and the kids, most of them had disappeared). Did some cleaning (hopefully the kids would mostly be staying outside, but the bathroom needed a scrub down and the kitchen is always bad). I felt a step behind all day ... running to find cups, candles (I should have used the EZ lite ones, this crowd would have really liked them, but I was to flustered to remember them), getting the kids something to drink. Gray got home and set up a tarp so we had a little shade, then tried to get one of the bottle launchers running. To get a couple empty two-liter bottles, we dropped Mentoes into DietCoke (I had found a handy little dispenser at the store) which causes a reaction, spraying the drink high into the air. I think they did that four times! The dunk tank was popular as always, and the boys enjoyed the waterballoons (I had even picked up some regular size and the long twisty balloons) and slingshots and general waterfight. The boys made a paracord partyfavor to take home. I was SO tired when it was done. Running around in my bare feet on the hot sidewalk, and my eyes ached from the sun. I think many of the boys will have a bit of a sunburn too... but it's DONE ... yea! And I think Callahan was quite happy with it. Everyone brought gifts ... mostly money, so he's quite a bit richer than he was the day before. I did just want to collapse in bed, but it was time for Keaton's basketball game. I hoped he wasn't as drained as I was! Apparently that was not a problem, as he did great, he was definitely the star of the team today. They won easily. Callahan came to watch. Then we stopped at the store for some rolls and roast beef for French Dip ... made that at home, followed by some brownies then ... a foot rub, and they needed it!

0715 (Friday) Friday French Toast ... still a bit of a rush with sleeping in and then swimming lessons. I stopped a moment to talk to Shari Hyer as we were leaving, so we were a bit late (which you don't really want to be when the lesson is only 30 minutes). The boys had been invited out to Sexton's for a playdate, so I dropped off the three younger ones. I had offered to drop the two older ones at a movie ... but they turned me down! I stopped at Sams Club on the way home and picked up a chocolate cake. Months ago, we didn't get a party for Callahan for his birthday. I had suggested postponing it until summer when we could have an outdoor bash ... and as he didn't have a game this week (they had a bye) it seemed like the perfect time. I had reserved a dunk tank, but Grayson wasn't going to be able to get home in time to pick it up. I wanted to get it today, so the kids could have an extra day of play (I wasn't sure how much the little boys would get tomorrow with all the bigger kids around). Clay was nice enough to stop by after work and help me grab it and get it set up. We didn't have quite as many kids around, Hyers and Littlewoods were gone, and it was Stake Lagoon Day, so other families were missing as well. I had invited Sextons back out to our house and they came and everyone had a good time. The kids played until after dark. Gray got home quite late, but said the BBQ had been a success.

0714 (Thursday)  Cooper has been asking about going  bowling, so after the little boys were done with swimming lessons, I said I'd take them. Landon and Keaton didn't want to go, so I just took Callahan and the two little boys. I actually got them settled, and leaving Callahan tending, I ran to a couple stores then came back to pick them up. We hit Maceys on the way home, getting the boys ice cream cones and restocking our brownie mix. In the evening, we went to Mountain Mikes for dinner. I had a coupon deal that was expiring. The boys like the breadsticks much more than the pizza, next time we'll get a double order of breadsticks and smaller pizzas.  We drove past the "UP" house (the Disney Movie), and then it was a late night at home as Gray was prepping for a work BBQ he was hosting tomorrow.

0713 (Wednesday) I noticed the bike rack seemed empty this morning ... Callahan and Landon's bike were gone. Stolen? (Keaton and Colton's bikes were still there, the scooters too). They've been out for years, I guess we were pushing our luck. Swimming lessons in the morning, stopping for gas on the way home. Then we met  DiFrancesco's (Tony, Marc, Mara) and Jump and Bounce. I texted Gundersons to see if Stockton could join us and he was able to. We stayed longer than I had thought the kids would last. We brought Stockton home and he and Callahan played the day away. The boys had scouts in the evening, and I left Keaton tending while I ran to Kohls, picking him up a duffle bag for basketball, and found a couple jerseys for the boys to earn with points.

0712 (Tuesday) Second (and final) day of scout camp for Keaton. Next year he'll do the week long with an overnighter, and Cooper will be going to this day camp. It was a bit windy and overcast. Cooper has been very concerned about the weather. His fascination with tornadoes has turned into fear. He was practically hysterical at Grandma's on Sunday (as it was a bit stormy, at the end he just wanted to go home!) He was eyeing the trees blowing and the cloud cover with a worried eye, I guess the swimming people were too, because they did call and cancelled the lesson for today (to be made up on Friday). It was kind of a boring day at home, we probably should have gone out and done something fun, but with Keaton gone, I didn't want to do anything he would feel left out of ... so we didn't do anything. I got in cardio and weights. Keaton got home around 3:00, then had basketball practice in the evening. I walked the park while I waited. Tacos for dinner.

0711 (Monday) 7-11 was giving away free slurpees today, but I didn't want to brave the crowds. Keaton had scout camp, had to be at the church at 7:45. The two little boys had swimming lessons at 9:45 at the outdoor pool. Callahan got invited to Stockton's house, then their family went to Jump&Bounce and we joined them there. The little boys enjoyed playing with Stockton's little brothers.

0710 (Sunday) Sunday Circles, and some brownies and cookies are a "Cookies and Cousins" party after church. Subbed as music leader today, Gray taught a lesson (pulled out some of his old missions stuff, we were laughing over some of the photos). Headed out to my folks around 5:30 ... it was sprinkling, which wasn't good, as with the crowd, Mom wanted to have the kids playing outside. Which they did anyway. We brought our hula hoops, jump ropes and Cosmic Catch. Dad put out their golf shoes game. It was fun to see the cousins and their kids who we hadn't seen for quite a while.

0709 (Saturday) Had the boys get up and do their Saturday jobs (bathrooms for Landon and Callahan ... and me, basement playroom for Keaton, Lego room for the little boys). Two basketball games, Keaton was first, at Taylorsville. It was close, but they won. Keaton got six points. Callahan's team got killed, and Callahan couldn't land a shot, so he was pretty down and frustrated. Lots of time DOWN on the floor and he hurt his knee and was in tears. The other team wasn't that much bigger, but they were better! We had heard a roaring sound during the game, turns out it was rain and hail. Gray and I went out to Red Robin for a dinner date. The storm hit again, lots of wind, the fountain there in front of the theaters was blowing water everywhere (they turned it off). Cooper was a little freaked out at home, poor kid.

0708 (Friday) Summer has just started, but it seems easier this year than the last couple ... probably because the boys are growing up. Before, I would worry about Colton and Cooper going outside unsupervised ... now, they are older, and the other kids are older (and I feel like they keep an eye on them better). So that's a good thing. Got in exercise (cardio and weights) and even managed to clean the house some. In the evening, Callahan had basketball practice. Gray and I dropped him off at Gene Fullmer, grabbed a little food for Gray then played some racquetball. Grayson was a little worn out ... a big bike ride in the morning, and a grueling trail run/hike. He was ready for bed when we got home.

0707 (Thursday) For the past couple years, we've had a "start of summer" breakfast. We're a couple days late, but we did it this morning. I took the boys to "Outpost" as I had a coupon, and it was one the way to Grandma's house, where we headed afterward. I had a bunch of clothes and such to drop off, as Grayson "purged" his closet a few days ago. Dad and I played some tennis while Mom and the boys hit the pool. Dad and I joined them after and it felt good. The boys were hungry again on the way home, so we stopped at Wendys. They have changed the size (and type... it's clear now) of cup for the small frosty. In the evening, Gray and I went out to a movie, "Super8" which has gotten good reviews. With kids as the main characters, it seems aimed at kids a bit, but it was pretty intense. Landon would probably like it.

0706 (Wednesday) I got up early (at 7:00) to go to the outdoor pool by Gene Fullmer and sign the two little boys up for swimming lessons. I had tried to last night, but they only do it the one day and she said they fill up fast. I did get them in, although for a moment there I wasn't sure I would get them in at the same time, but it worked out. 9:45 for a half hour Mon-Thur the next couple weeks. I mentioned it to Cooper and he seems quite stressed about it, although I put him in level 3 again, which he actually passed last summer. So he should be able to do everything. I stopped for donuts at Dunford on the way home. A video game Landon has been wanting came in the mail, so he was happy about that. I mowed the lawn and weeded some. Exercise and weights. Scouts in the evening for Gray and the older two. Got a call from a friend saying they were at Jump and Bounce, so I packed up the three little ones and we went over for a bit (until it closed). Callahan wasn't happy to have missed it though!

0705 (Tuesday) Bit of a down day ... I had really hoped Lagoon would work out for the boys. I even considered trying the drive ... just wasn't sure if I was up it all and wasn't sure really what the plan was. So ... just a boring day at home to start the summer. The kids did have a waterfight in the backyard. Cooper is very excited about the new job chart.

0704 (Monday) 4th of July. We didn't really have any plans. There was a parade on Redwood, but I'm not really a parade person (crowds). The weather was cloudy with some rain too. The party tonight got switched from Maga's to Clay's. It is closer, but I had been thinking of leaving the older boys so they could go to Lagoon with Kolby and Jami, and so that didn't happen (and us going to Lagoon didn't happen). It was still a little rainy, but then it cleared up. Maga had bought a big inflatable waterslide for the kids, and of course there was the usual waterfight. We got home in time to watch all the fireworks, the neighbors put on quite a show. It was windy though, and Gray was tired (and in bed). I had only bought a few for us.

0703 (Sunday) Still feeling just a bit off, so I stayed home from church and took a nap. Gray made his wonderful steak and mashed taters for dinner. I made cookie press cookies, as Keaton has been asking for them for a while!

0702 (Saturday) Woke up sick ... stomach bug. Felt awful. It was mostly the morning,  but I didn't get around to doing much, no exercise, didn't leave the house. Gray made a store run and hit Blockbuster. We watched "The Adjustment Bureau" in the evening.

0701 (Friday) Last day of school for the boys, letting out half day at 1:00. In the evening, Gray and I went out to a movie, and I ate too much popcorn!
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