Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Extras

LOTS of  odds and ends when it comes to pictures this past month. Those photos that are cute, but don't really have an entire story behind them to really deserve their own blog post all get bundled up here. I LOVE the photo above *Ü*  Colton had been to the dentist and his whole left side was numb. It was so cute to see him try and smile! He was very brave at the dentist ... and I tried to be brave as I paid the big bill!

Conference weekend, the boys attended the priesthood session, then went to Macey's for some ice cream cones. Yes ... Grayson was getting a little bit bushy!

 Colton got dressed for church all by himself ...
Maybe we need a tweak or two ...

Holey holes! Cooper's shoes were worn right through. We made a trip to Payless to get him a couple new pairs.  I don't really worry about buying them big enough to grow into at all, because they usually fall apart long before the kids outgrow them.

 Callahan got a Life ...

Keaton is a D.A.R.E. graduate.

Callahan went to work with Dad for "Job Shadow"

Colton and Cooper (and Bradley) convinced Daddy to take them to Maverick for treats. The little boys rode their bikes, while Dad and Cooper rode our tandem. 

My little boys have kept up with their recent reading trend. Grayson has actually been reading too. In fact, this spot is THE reading spot, and Colton was a little put out when he found Daddy sitting there as he went to get some reading done.

I thought this picture of these three little troublemakers was so cute. These three boys play together a LOT. They just started soccer, and are always hanging out. Minecraft is still a favorite game.

That's the April odds and ends ...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Car Crunch

As a parent with a newly licensed teenager, you dread THE CALL ... "Mom, there's been an accident."  At least for our first experience with it, we didn't have to worry about blame. Landon's truck was parked in the school parking lot, he wasn't even in it.  At first, I really didn't think there would be that much damage, I mean, you are generally going pretty slow in a parking lot.   Then Landon shot some pictures and sent them to me ...

I could see the damage to the bumper/lights in the first photo, but THIS photo surprised me. Landon HAD been parked properly between the lines. The truck had been physically shifted over about three feet! Luckily there wasn't a car parked on the right side, or it would have been impacted too.

Then there was the picture of the OTHER car ... OUCH!

Gray and I went to check the truck out in the evening (Landon didn't think he could drive it home, the bumper was pressed into the tire, and he wasn't sure if the bumper/lights would fall off during a drive). While we were there, the other family was there getting the other car towed. Using the tow truck, we were able to pull the bumper away from the tire enough that Gray felt he could try to drive it home. He felt like something was dragging, but he made it home okay. 

Then it was getting the car in to the body shop for repairs and getting a rental. My folks let us borrow their little blue truck until we could make arrangements (I wasn't looking forward to having to get up at 5:30 to drive Landon to Early Morning Seminary). They have had a policy of no grandkid borrowing the truck (which also seemed to be standard policy at rental car places, well, not "grandkids" but no teens allowed) so I ended up driving the borrowed truck/rental car while Landon drove the Burb to school.  We'll be glad to get back to our own automobiles! We are glad no one was hurt, and are relieved that Landon is yet accident free.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Graveside Gathering

It was a cool April evening ... on the eve of 21 years since Grandpa Gordan passed away. We gathered everyone together for our traditional family photo (Kolby's clan lives too far away to make it, they are missed). As it  WAS so cool out, we moved to Crown Burger for further family fun.  It's probably quite overwhelming for a little restaurant to have such a loud and boisterous group. Here's a video clip of the cousins interactions ...

Little Amare always entertains!

Here's a glance at the last few years ... 2012  2011 2010 2006

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Family Firepit

For the last couple Sundays, we've had a family fire pit going on the back patio. The evenings were cool, but not too cold. Perfect for gathering around the coals and roasting marshmallows and making smores.


After doing it last week, Daddy mentioned maybe doing it again ... Cooper was okay with that! He asked when we would start, and Daddy said 7:30.  At 7:18, Cooper wandered in to where Daddy was reading and said "We're going to build the fire in 12 minutes" ... he did it again when there were three minutes to go. I think he was excited. He had come to me with a list of things we needed ... "marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers" ...
We also pulled out some hot dogs for a little dinner prior to dessert. Being a family of all boys, there were many inappropriate "weiner" jokes going on. 

It's also been fun to put the new convertible bench/tables to use. They come in handy!  Are there more family fire pit nights in our future? I'm thinking yes.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lemon Jello Cake

I don't make many cakes. If you look through our birthday posts, you'll see the chocolate, buttercream and oreo icecream cakes making appearances, and I've purchased all of those. I do make ONE cake, that is our family favorite Lemon Jello Cake, and it is moist and yummy! My mom made this while I was growing up, and it's a Blackham favorite now. It's still not from scratch either, you need a box of lemon gelatin and a lemon cake mix (don't pay attention to what the mix actually calls for, go with what is listed below) ...

1 3oz box Lemon Jello
1 1/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup oil
3 eggs
1 Lemon Cake Mix
2 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

Dissolve the Jello in the hot water and set aside. Mix the cake mix, oil and eggs. Add the water/jello mixture. Pour into a  bundt pan (grease and flour it liberally. You can also use a regular 9x13). Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Let the cake cool slightly then remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice to create a glaze. Poke holes all over the cake, then pour the glaze over.

Note: If using a 9x13 pan, leave the cake in the pan. Use the glaze sparingly.

This is a very CRUMMY cake, I guess most cakes are. I always have to clean up crumbs from messy eaters. If you allow it to cool (my family usually doesn't want to wait that long) it will cut a little smoother than when it is warm. It is very good left over, although that usually doesn't happen at our house either.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Das Boot

... we have a doctor's appointment next week. I'm pretty sure Callahan will get permission to lose the boot and return to his shoe. Not that he hasn't been doing that withOUT permission lately! A couple weeks ago, he asked if he could wear a regular shoe to church~ I said ok, figuring there wouldn't be much running and jumping going on there.  Then he asked if he could wear a shoe just while practicing free throws. He said the boot was throwing him off. And of course he didn't want to wear the boot during team pictures. At home, he'd take the boot off, and  it was too much work to put it back on just to walk to the fridge, or the bathroom ... or down the stairs. Often, the boot has been off more than on.

This is actually Callahan's FOURTH  boot. That little white oval thing? It's a button you push to pump air into a bladder to make the boot conform to the leg better. Callahan blew out the first bladder after a couple of weeks (this was back in September/October, after the first break). The boot did have a warranty, so the company replaced it. Callahan wore that boot for many weeks, even walked all over Disneyland with it. When we got back ... the bladder busted again. This was just a few days before he got the doctor's ok to return to shoe use, so we didn't really worry about it. But then ... another broken foot! We tried going back to the boot (wanted to save a little $$ instead of investing in a new one). We tried using padding and adjusting it to make it fit. It just wasn't working (I wondered if any of it had to do with it having been worn on the right foot initially, and this new break was on the left foot). I went ahead and ordered a new boot (different brand) off Amazon (did you know there are all sorts of medical equipment being sold on there? The boot was very similar, and cost about $35, quite a bit less than the $300 boot through the orthopedic office. Ankle brace from the doctor's office? $100. Ankle brace off Amazon ... $18).  As the original boot WAS still actually under warranty though (it had only been four months since the first  break), they did replace it again ... so now we have TWO working boots, but I still so often find neither one on Callahan's broken foot!

While it's nice to have a brace be removable for showers and such ... but it has it's problems too, because the kid CAN remove it. A cast would probably stay put a little bit more!

Cross your fingers for Callahan ... hopefully we'll get a go ahead from the doctor to give the boot the boot then and NO MORE injuries! I mean it!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Little Readers

I've bemoaned the fact that my boys are reluctant readers here on my blog in several posts - I've struggled through the years trying to find books to catch their interest. I'm not sure WHAT happened recently, but we're actually having some success (with the younger ones anyway)!

I know right when it began ... Parent/Teacher conference. Keaton surprised me with the "Darth Paper Strikes Back" (the sequel to "Origami Yoda" which he said he enjoyed, but took him months to get through). He'd checked it out from the school library.  There is always a school book fair there during PT Conferences, and we saw the third book in the series, and I told Keaton I would buy it for him. I told the little boys they could pick out a book too. Both Cooper and Colton picked a "Big Nate" book (Cooper said he had been reading them at school and liked them). They are a cross between "Wimpy Kid" and "Calvin and Hobbes" cartoons ... I didn't realize it until today, but Big Nate comics are in our newspaper! I pointed it out to Cooper.

The next few days after getting the books, I'd find the two boys READING. Keaton was going crazy for the origami featured in his books, but he was actually reading too (he's finished "Darth Paper" and moved on to the next book).  I had been reading the "Magic Treehouse" series to the boys (a chapter in the morning before school) but Colton thought he could probably read them on his own at this point.  We've moved on to reading "Origami Yoda" as our morning read, and Colton has been devouring many in the Magic Treehouse series. Cooper finished his Big Nate book.

I still don't know if it's an actual love of reading, of getting lost in the story and discovering new things ... or just recording the "reading minutes" and finishing a book. But whatever it is I'll take it! Colton has been reading a Magic Treehouse book a day!  I've even quickly read his book myself (it takes me 10-15 minutes) and then we'll "discuss" it, so I'm sure he understands (and has actually read it like he said).  While my boys (the bigger ones) have always tested on/above reading level, comprehension has always been a bit of a problem. I've been impressed with Colton's understanding of his stories.

I had started a GoodReads account for the BlackhamBoys, so I that I could keep track of what we had read (and what we had on hand, and what was available at the library, as well as checking reviews and writing our own reviews) and it's actually been getting a lot of action lately. 

I even took the two little boys to the library and got them their own library cards! They each checked out a book, and I showed them how we can request books (if the other branches have them but ours doesn't) and have them on hold for us when we come in. I also showed them the digital options (almost all the Magic Treehouse books are available for immediate digital download, many in audio too).  I love reading on my Iphone (both boys have ipods if they wanted that option). 

I hope it sticks. I'm a little worried with some off-track time coming up ... we always he "off track" during off track time. You would think it would be easier to get more reading in (as the kids have more time not having school) but it just doesn't work out that way.

It's been so fun to see my boys catch the reading bug!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Origami Keaton

I'm always on the lookout for books my boys might like. They are all very reluctant readers, and nothing much seems to appeal to them. I saw the book "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda" and thought it might be worth looking into. I checked it out of the library (in both physical format and audio book) and gave it to Keaton to read/listen to. Although he seemed to like it, it did take him FOREVER to get through. In the evenings as he'd be watching TV or playing games I'd ask him "Origami Yoda???" and he'd sigh and go off to put a few minutes of reading in.

At Parent/Teacher conferences, he had a surprise for me. He had picked up book 2 (Darth Paper Strikes Back) from the school library, and had made a little origami Yoda himself! I went ahead and bought book 3 (The Secret of the Fortune Wookie) for him, as at this he seemed quite interested in the series.

While he has continued on with his reading (he just finished book 2!) he's gone crazy over the little origami critters featured in the books. Each book has step-by-step instructions on how to make them, and Keaton has been folding away! He even requested I buy the 4th book (Art2-D2), which is more of a how-to book, and included some specialty origami paper, perfect for making these Star Wars creations. He'd practice a few times with scrap paper, then he'd try with the specialty stuff.

The little boys and I are now reading "Origami Yoda" for our reading time ... we're listening to the audiobook (so I'm not really reading TO the boys, we're all listening together) but it's really cute, different voices and such.  As for Keaton, he's taken his StarWars stuff to school and several kids there are now interested in the series as well. I've ordered another StarWars Origami book for him too.  I know many of these aren't true origami, as you are instructed to cut and paste parts (cousin Corin is a true origami master!). It's been fun to see Keaton excited about his paper projects!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Little Purple Pansies

Little purple pansies
dressed in yellow gold, 
Growing in one corner
of the garden old;
We are very tiny
but must try, try, try
Just one spot to gladden,
you and I.

I've always loved little purple pansies. Maybe it's because they are one of the first flowers to bloom after the dreary winter. I remember singing the primary song when I was a little girl, and noticing some little purple pansies in the corner of our garden.  Now, I plant some every year, and some of the manage to survive and come back. The little one pictured above was actually out in the lawn! I carefully transplanted it into the corner of the flower garden and I hope it's little hardy self continues to bloom.

I bought several new pansy plants too, as only a few of the ones from last year managed to survive. I had found this cute little birdhouse, but there was a slat missing from the roof. I almost passed it up, but I decided to buy it anyway. Last year, and this year again, I've planted some little purple pansies in the two openings, and it gives the garden a little more color and character (I just have to be sure I water it a lot!).

The tulips are getting ready to bloom too.

Happy Spring! Keep on coming!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Buckets and Barfing Boys

It wasn't quite the Easter we had envisioned ...

Every year, the Easter buckets (they are a little hardier than most baskets) are laid out in their "spots" on the couch. Five couch cushions, five baskets.The boys went to bed, and the Easter bunny came. I'm not sure what woke me up, it was just after midnight, and I noticed the hall light was on. I wondered if maybe the boys were sneaking out to check out their loot, but usually they would be a little more stealthy (in a previous Easter I did catch them out there with flashlights very early in the morning).

I got up and ran into Landon in the hallway. He commented wryly that he and Keaton were having a party. Turns out it was a "puking party" and Keaton had NOT made it to the bathroom in time. Landon was getting Keaton settled on the couch (moving Easter buckets), giving him a barf bucket (which is different than an Easter bucket), drink and towel ~ and I got to cleaning up the mess. I came pretty close to throwing up myself. It was bad. Landon is a light sleeper and often gets up to help when one of the kids cries in the night. I joked with him, asking if I had stayed in bed, would he have cleaned things up. He replied that he didn't really feel up to it ... and that's when I realized that he was actually sick too (he'd already been up for an hour an vomited twice). 

I was fairly awake by this point. So I stopped by the computer to update my Facebook status, hoping for a little late night sympathy. Before I finished I heard a voice from down the hallway "I throwed up. I throwed up" ... It was Cooper, who had burst into the bedroom (I had closed the door to let Grayson continue to sleep, but no more). Gray cleaned it up, while I got Cooper settled on the couch, moving ALL the Easter stuff up onto the counter and out of the way. 

As this seemed to be hitting fast and furious (usually the kids have a little warning, enough that we get a bucket to them in time), I put precautionary buckets by sleeping Colton and Callahan, just in case. Gray and I finally returned to bed (not to sleep ... it's hard to get back to sleep after that). I thought I heard a door close downstairs, so I went to check ... sure enough, Callahan was now sick too. He HAD noticed the bucket, so there wasn't a mess to clean up. There wasn't room upstairs on the couch, so he just stayed downstairs in his room.

I finally got back to sleep around 3:30. Woke up at 6:00 to Colton crying ... and he threw up. Seriously, all five boys down at once? We've been close to that before, where all five boys have gotten sick, but it was spread out a little bit. I didn't have enough buckets to go around!

Not only was my FB post getting some sympathy, but a neighbor down the street said the flu had hit their house too. Then Courtney posted that Addie was down ... Will too.  Later in the day it hit Maga, and Grandpa. This thing gets around!

So Easter pretty much got shoved aside this year. The vomiting didn't last too long into the morning, then it was recovery mode. Catching up on much needed sleep, after not getting any the night before. Aches and pains ... Callahan had speckled himself again (the blood vessels in his face break when he throws up, leaving him all blotchy).  Trying to tell the difference between stomach pain and hunger pains (as nothing sounded good to eat.) Eventually, the kids even managed to look through their Easter buckets ...

... and I was able to wash and disinfect the other buckets and put them away. 
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