Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Preschool

Colton's preschool ended in May ... his brothers were still in school through June. I was a little worried about keeping Colton occupied during the month of June, so I signed him up for a summer session of preschool at Gene Fullmer. It was just Wednesdays for a couple hours. Colton was very excited to meet some new friends and new teacher (Ms. Jody).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Stacked Saturday

Saturday was a BUSY day ...
  • Grayson headed up the mountains for a 5-mile trail race. My brother Chris and his son Corin ran it too.
  • Landon went carp fishing (shooting ... with bows) with friends from the neighborhood. Landon "may be a redneck" now ... not because of the carp shooting, but because he didn't put any sunscreen on the back of his neck and they were out for hours!
  • Callahan and Keaton both had basketball games (at 12:00 and 2:00). Although Callahan's team lost (the opposing teams are BIG) both boys had good games with several baskets.
  • Then it was off to the neighborhood carnival, which was a LOT of fun last year ...
There was a dunking booth's Cooper in the picture above, anxiously awaiting his drop into the cold water. Callahan, Keaton and even Colton took a turn getting dunked.

Grayson had his famous water balloon filler station set up, and had the water balloon launchers for some fun flinging ...

Then there was the pie eating contest. I got some really great pictures last year when Landon participated. Unfortunately this year, Landon decided to have some "fun" ... you can see his hands in the background ready to unfold his evil plan, to shove the boys faces into the pies. As if they wouldn't get messy enough! I looked up at Landon RIGHT before and told him in NO uncertain terms NOT to do it ... he did it anyway. And he shoved too hard, Callahan was bleeding as his braces smashed into lips. Yes ... Landon is grounded.

We were SUPPOSED to go to the demolition derby as a family, but Grayson didn't feel like going after the pie incident and didn't feel like Landon should be allowed to go either. As we already had the tickets purchased, we ended up taking Travis and Jacob (and Bailey) as an apology for Landon shoving their faces into the pie/table.

The Blackham Boys probably had more fun having friends along (rather than just family) ... lots of crashing, a few flames, tires completely gone ... that's the demolition derby! It was a little long, especially for Cooper and Colton. I did learn from last year ... I purchased the tickets on the BACK row, so we could stand up, and on the end, so no one was trying to get past us. I brought plenty of water and lots of treats (of course the kids still wanted to spend money buying from the vendors there). We got home around 11:00 ... past MY bedtime!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Driver's Ed

As Landon has an early birthday (in September) he was eligible to take driver's ed during the summer. Now, we aren't really in a rush for him to get his licence, but the thought of getting it done, keeping him busy during June, and opening up a spot for an additional class in the fall was appealing. I wasn't sure if it would work out, with the scout camp in mid-June ... but it was like it was meant to be. The driver's ed class was the first week in June, then there was a week off (this was the week Landon would be gone), then class would start up again the following week. The class was three hours a day (12:00-3:00 the first week, then 10:00-1:00 the second week). The driving on the course and road was to be handled after hours. Now Landon hasn't had much experience behind the wheel of a car, so he was a little nervous. As there wasn't enough time to fit everyone in, Landon has postponed his "driving" portions until later, after the Fall school year starts. Hopefully we can get a little practice in before then. We did go to the DMV and got his learner's permit. I can't believe he'll be 16 years old so soon!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


We've always been an Ipod family, with many of the original ipods, nanos, and shuffles around. Gray of course, had the Iphone. When he upgraded to the new Iphone, Landon inherited the old one ... without service, so basically an Ipod Touch. That's when it all started. With the touch screen, Landon could use apps the other ipods couldn't. I remember fighting it, when the boys wanted a "Touch" rather than their nanos. But eventually, I gave in. They had birthdays or spent their own money, and became the proud owners of an Ipod Touch. Keaton had an older first generation, Callahan had a second generation ... the two little boys did NOT have one and it caused a bit of a problem as all the boys wanted to play "Angry Birds" and other apps. The boys were taking advantage of the free texting service from the TextFree app. For Christmas ... Grayson got ME an Ipod Touch (of course he got me the latest model!) I actually started texting, now that I didn't have to scroll through letters on my Tracfone. I was very generous sharing my Ipod with the two little boys, much more so than their brothers. And I discovered "Words with Friends" ... all the Ipods were getting a LOT of use. Then Landon's stopped working (after it was dropped), He lived without it for a while, but then this past week he went ahead and bought himself a new one (the latest model of course). Callahan's had been giving him trouble, freezing (it's still under warranty, so we just need to get it in to the Apple store I think), but he had earned enough money and wanted the features of the latest model, so ... another trip to Best Buy. We've had to invest in extra chargers! But I love how you can buy one game and everyone can play it... yes ... we're touched!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Noisy Birds

For several years now, there has been a broken brick in the cinderblock wall in the backyard. And for several years now, starlings have made a nest in there. In the spring, we see them bringing twigs and other nesting materials, popping in and out of the hole in the wall. Then when the babies hatch it gets REALLY noisy as the mommy bird pops in and out. We've never really gotten around to investigating it much, but this year, Landon decided to take a look.

He had to get a ladder (it's quite high) and move the heavy cap ... and then he still couldn't see, he needed a flashlight. We figured the nest would be right there near the top, but it's actually at the very base of the column, which is over six feet down!

With Colton to add perspective, you can see how tall the fence is, and the distance from the opening to the nest (which has to be at the bottom or close to it!) It must be a little tricky for the momma bird to get up and down such a narrow space, and tough for the babies once they grow and need to leave the nest. Starlings are NOT the cutest birds, but investigating the nest has been a fun thing for the boys to do this spring ...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chop Chop

The love of gardening is NOT hereditary. Both my parents love to work out in the yard, and my mother-in-law enjoys it too... but NOT me. They both have lovely landscapes ... but not me! I had managed to get the front yard somewhat under control, but as no one really sees the backyard, I never really got around to it.

I took this picture several weeks ago (early May I think) ... poor little tulips trying to make a showing, the weeds gaining ground. And the peach tree ... there were no blossoms, only a few leaves on the uppermost branches. It's pretty much dead I think.

The weeds continued to grow (look at those ... they are taller than Colton!) After the nice rainstorm on Sunday, I thought we should take advantage of the softened soil to yank those weeds out. Now, as Landon is out of school and just sitting around ... and the only reason parents have children is for slave labor, of course I sent Landon out to try and make the back flowerbed presentable. Colton "helped" too.

After being poked several times by the low hanging branches, Landon's focus shifted from weeds, to the tree. He chopped off the offending branches ... then chopped down the entire tree.

IF we every get around to finishing up the flowerbed, I'll try to update this post with an "after" picture. Right now we're waiting for the trucks to come empty the green waste can so Landon can continue chop chopping (as the dead tree is currently still sitting in the backyard ... I'm not sure it's an improvement !) Chop chop Landon!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Father's Day Family Photo

Happy Father's Day to Gray *Ü* It was a RAINY day ... unfortunately the rain gutter right outside our window was clogged, so from 4:00 in the morning on, there was a very noisy drip, drip, drip keeping us awake. Grayson went for a run in the rain, then got on a ladder and cleaned out the rain gutter ... what a great way to start Father's Day!

A little while back, I got a message from Gray in my inbox ... the subject line was "Father'sDay ;)" and the message was which took me to the little ruler pictured above. This would be for his derby hobby. The site was just recommending the tool however, but I didn't have too much trouble locating it and getting it ordered in time.

Toad Time
For the past several years we've gone out to Scott and Amy's for the annual Westra Father's Day BBQ. The rain continued all through the day keeping us mostly indoors or under the canopy. The rain did stop enough for the kids to peek at the toads under the tramp. Who got the toads out? I did! I like toads and frogs, always have *Ü*

Portable Paracord
Grayson brought his paracord and we introduced it to the cousins. Gray worked up this clever container to house all the colors, with the bucket filled with the various tools needed. The paracord was a big hit with all the kids, and all the cousins left with several bracelets each.

And of course ... the annual family photo ... we were missing Conner, McKenna, and Wendy's bunch, which would have made a much bigger group! The "nice" photo (above) and of course, the "silly" shot (below).

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Back to Bear Lake

After weeks of planning, many shopping trips (save those receipts!) and several training rides on bikes ... it was time for the scout campout at Bear Lake. Everyone gathered at our house on Wednesday morning and they were off ...

Grayson took our bike rack and attached it to the trailer to make this handy bike hauler ... over a dozen bikes!

The bike trip was one of the main reasons Bear Lake was selected as the destination. The boys needed to complete a 50 mile ride ... and the distance around the lake was 50 miles (Gray drove around it to verify a couple weeks ago when we went on our family vacation). The boys did great! Grayson and Jeff Hansen did it again Saturday morning before heading home.

... and such a ride is sure to build up an appetite right?
Pizza anyone?

... but you can't go to Bear Lake and not indulge in a raspberry shake. We'd had some when we went two weeks ago, but Gray and Landon said this place was even better ...

After the bike ride was complete, there was still time for other activities. Shotgun shooting ... Grayson came home with some nasty bruising on his right shoulder!

There was still snow ... in June ...

They visited Minnetonka Cave ... and of course, Grayson introduced the paracord, which was a big hit with the boys.

Bye Bye Bear Lake

Summer Season (Basketball)

After a couple of weeks off ... summer basketball is starting up. Keaton, while still in the 4th grade, is playing up with the 5th/6th graders (this wasn't entirely intentional). He won't be playing against Callahan (in 6th grade) however, as Callahan's team is playing up with the 7th/8th graders (this move WAS intentional). So the boys are probably not in for as "easy" a season as they both had in the Spring, but that's ok, challenge is good. The new uniforms are RED, which the boys are quite happy with. Now... basketball doesn't require a lot of special equipment, but as each season starts, there seems to be the "need" for new items. Keaton had been wanting some long Nike socks, so I did pick up a pack for both boys. We also got some new basketball shoes for Keaton (also Nike ... we have found we do need to pay for the name brands, as the less expensive shoes tend to slide all over the floor). He also wants a bag to carry his shoes and ball (he'd like a new ball too ... does it never end?) We'll see ...

I'll be posting all the game videos and recaps on the Hoop Highlights blog. We were all anxious to see how the games would go, playing against older and bigger kids. Unfortunately, the opposing team didn't show for Keaton's game, so we didn't get to find out! That was a big disappointment. Callahan's game was good, they won, although it wasn't quite as easy as last season. Basketball begins again!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Remembering Woodstock

I went to school at Woodstock Elementary ... located there on 13th East and about 60th South. While my parents have moved from the house I grew up in, they are still very close, so we would always pass by my old school as we went to visit. I would point it out to my children, telling them which classrooms had been mine, and often continuing on with stories (much to their chagrin). I was aware that they were building a NEW Woodstock (behind the old one) and that of course that meant the "old" building would be coming down ... but to actually drive by and see it today, it still caught me off guard.

I had driven by last week (I had wished I had taken a picture then) as the demolition was just in the beginning stages; the windows out (more like the front of the school in the first picture). Today, the South side was ALL coming down ... this is what it looked like as we went TO Grandma's house (I actually lifted this from a friend who posted on FB ... my kids thought I was weird when I stopped to take pictures, but see, I wasn't even the only one!)

On the way home (I did stop to take pictures), the whole South side was down ... my kindergarten class and my first grade class. Two-thirds of the school was still standing, and you can see the new school there in the back. It's going to be a new view as we pass by from now on, I won't be able to say to my kids "see, that's where I went to school when I was your age."

Here's some random memories from Woodstock -
  • My kindergarten teacher was the same as my 6th grade teacher (Mrs. Diamond) ... a "welcome" to school and also a "goodbye".
  • I remember being read to in third grade, the book "Sonny Elephant" being my all time favorite (and I OWN Woodstock's copy of it, my mom picked it up at a book sale).
  • Ms. Bullock was known for making kids write "I have never ..." whatever their infraction was, a hundred times ... I was one of the few kids that never had to do that (I had a close call once for stepping on toes, but it was Tuesday Toes-day!)
  • For fourth grade I was in a 4th/5th grade"split" class. My teacher was Mrs. Bjornson, and years later after I was married, I moved into her neighborhood!
  • I remember the playground, with the HUGE tires buried halfway. In my later years they introduced strange swings that you pumped with your arms. During the winter, we would stamp down mazes in the snowy field and then play tag.
Farewell little elementary school ... it would have been fun to walk the halls one more time ... probably a big change for the kids who are still going there too. After Landon's first couple years at Columbia Elementary, they tore it down. For second grade, he went to a newly built school to the West of us as they rebuilt. Then it was back to the new Columbia for 3rd ... so in just four years, he went to three different schools (although technically, they were all Columbia). There's a bit of demolition going on at Columbia today too. They've torn out the South playground, just one of the things they have to relocate as the intersection at 7800 and Bangerter is changing (an exit ramp will be where the playground was!). Ah ... construction/destruction ... ch,ch,ch,changes ...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rainbow Connections

It was the late afternoon when it suddenly started to rain. The sun was still shining, so I went out side and examined the sky, looking for a rainbow. But no rainbow (yet...). Then the drizzle turned into a downpour! All five boys ran out into the rain and came back in just moments later, looking like they'd stepped into the shower! Grayson came home just moments after the boys had come back in and commented on the huge rainbow. We all went out, and the boys were even cooperative about posing for a picture! Now if that's not a treasure, I don't know what is!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Talking about Tornadoes

It all started a couple of weeks ago ... just days before the devastating tornado hit Joplin. Cooper, Colton and Addie had spent the night at Maga's house ... and Cooper came home talking about tornadoes.

He didn't seem scared or worried, just fascinated by it all. I asked Maga about it, and she couldn't really remember how or why the subject had even come up. She and Cooper looked up some videos on YouTube, and Cooper has continued to watch them (over and over again) these past few weeks. I went ahead and got him a couple books out of the library, and we streamed a couple Tornado shows on Netflix ("Raging Planet" has probably been the favorite). Cooper has learned a lot (how they form, the different rankings, etc.) It's been a few weeks now, and his fascination has not faded. It's expanded onto other wild weather ... lightening, volcanoes, and hurricanes (those DO scare Cooper a bit, but I could tell him that there won't be a hurricane in Utah!) So if you see Cooper in the next little bit, don't be surprised if he wants to talk about the weather!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Cast Away

Yesterday after school I took Cooper to the doctor to have his cast removed. After seven weeks in a full arm cast, I'm sure it felt quite different to have the arm bare. Cooper had a little trouble moving his elbow and wrist, which is to be expected after having them immobilized for so long. The break didn't heal quite straight, there is a bit of a bend and bump there just below the elbow. Back at home, it was into the bath to try and soak off the dead skin that had collected under the cast (and just to be able to take a bath without having to worry about keeping the cast up and out of the water). Then on Friday ... we went to Grandma and Grandpa's pool. As Cooper had not been able to swim during our vacation to Bear Lake last week, I had promised him that we'd go as soon as he got his cast off. I should have been a little more careful with the sunscreen though, as he did get burned on his white little wrist!

So ... quiz time ... what FIVE colors has Cooper had for his casts?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

TV Time

The television in the family room died a couple weeks ago. It really wasn't unexpected, it had been having some strange lines on it for a while, and it was old. I think it may have been there since we moved into this house (almost 14 years ago!) While we don't watch a lot of "television" the TV itself is used quite a bit for watching shows from the Ipod or DVDs and streaming Netflix. We ordered a new television (Grayson was actually quite excited about this, as he's a gadget guy) and while we waited, I pulled up a small set we had sitting downstairs ... so from OLD, to SMALL, to ...

This television actually is NOT the new one ... Gray claimed the new one for us *Ü* He moved this one from our room to the family room, and it fit perfectly! This TV is still several years old, but it's big and a lot nicer than the one the kids were used to watching, so they are pretty happy with the setup. Just in time for summer ... just in time for the final NBA championship games!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Bitty Baby Boy

All A's!
Aiden, Ana, Amare and Adrian

Congrats to Ana and Adrian on their new little addition, baby Amare. 5 lbs 4 oz and 17 3/4 inches long. You'd think with a dad like Adrian, and how big Aiden is for his age, that the baby would be big too, but no! All of his Blackham cousins had him beat at birth (Colton was our biggest, at 9 lbs 6 oz). We've been watching a lot of home movies lately, of all our boys when they were babies ... they grow up so fast! It really made me miss my babies. Not enough to HAVE another baby mind you, but I'm glad to have new babies coming into the family to help with that baby fix. The boys were excited to met their new cousin! Congrats Allen family!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Stick Shift

Our trip to Bear Lake made Grayson realize the brakes on the 'burb needed repair. As we would get close to stopping, there would be a slight roar, like an airplane flying low overhead. As we live close to Airport#2, I'm not sure if I had really noticed the sound, or just thought it WAS an airplane each time the noise was noticeable. Anyway ... Grayson said we needed to get the car in, but this causes some difficultly, because we are definitely NOT a one-car family. I don't have a lot of errands to run, but I did have a few (mostly running kids) that needed to be done. My parents have two cars but generally can easily get by with one, so I called and asked if we could borrow their little blue truck, as we had before (when it was Grayson's truck that needed the brake repair, just a few months earlier). Gray drove the little blue truck that time, but this time it made more sense for me to use the loaner ... except that it is a stick shift.

Now ... driving in general isn't something I like to do. This isn't something new. Unlike most 16 year olds, I was in NO hurry to get my licence. I've always been intimidated by the road. Add any complication ... traffic, construction, weather, unfamiliar surroundings, darkness ... and my stress level would skyrocket. And a stick shift ... yes, that's another one! I am happy to say I was able to overcome my fear and drive the little blue truck with it's stick shift for my errands. It was like riding a bike ... it came back to me pretty easily (but an automatic is absolutely the way to go!).

Recently, my SIL posted on her blog about her daughter's struggle with anxiety. I had talked with Courtney about some smaller issues we'd had with Cooper and Keaton in the recent past. But it wasn't until I read her blog, and continued on to some of the links and reading that I began to wonder about myself ... so much of the stuff really rang a bell with my issues.

While I've never really been comfortable behind the wheel of a car, I overcame much of my fear of driving for a time. I drove down to Snow College a few times, and commuted to BYU, although I have still never driven downtown Salt Lake. Now? I can't even IMAGINE being able to make those trips. As I've gotten older, had a hubby to rely on ... I've regressed. I'll drive right around home, on familiar streets, but it is still a struggle with any complications. My fear of freeways has won out completely ... I haven't driven on 1-15 in years now. And it's not even just being behind the wheel, but as a passenger as well. Our family trip to California was very hard on me (Grayson half-jokes he should just give me a double dose of Ambien to put me out during the drive) and when the family trip to Seattle came up ... I just couldn't do it, and I stayed home.

During the day to day, it's fairly easy to ignore the issue ... but then it rears it's ugly head. Callahan's basketball has been a bit of an problem, as it's forced me a bit out of my comfort zone (driving to Taylorsville and other new places in traffic/weather/darkness) ... driving to West High School was completely out of the question though, I had to find a ride with a team member. Getting Cooper downtown for his Jazz game (Uncle Clay took him) ... as I have to rely on others, put them out ... I feel worthless, it's easy for the depression to take over. It is a problem. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if there's anything I can really do about it ... I'm getting more than a bit concerned about the upcoming construction on Bangerter. I joke with Grayson that I'm a future shut-in ... but I'm not really joking ...

So ... I'm not really sure why I wrote up this post. Sometimes just writing things down, getting them out, can help a bit. It's just buried here, in the blog ... while I made it past the stick shift, I'm still stuck ...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bear Lake Blackhams

This past weekend, we took an impromptu vacation to Bear Lake. Grayson is going there in a couple of weeks with the scouts, and he wanted to check a couple things out ... and it's been a while since the Blackhams went on a vacation ... even Mom and Cooper went this time (they've bailed on the last couple of family trips, but a three-hour drive, I guess I can handle that).

We haven't been to Bear Lake in a long time! There was a big family gathering there many years ago (when Callahan was a toddler), and we went again when Keaton was a baby, but it's been about 10 years!

As we were a little last minute making our plans, we couldn't get a nice condo, but found an inexpensive motel right on the beach. It wasn't fancy, no cable or WiiFi, but we got along fine.

There was a little mini-golf course, and it was great because no one else was there. The boys could take their time, repeat holes as many times as they wanted, and it provided ample photo opportunities.
Callahan actually smiled for this picture
(he got a hole in one).

Cooper and Mom

This "trike" was available for rent ($10 an hour) and I wish we had taken the time to try it out. Maybe the scouts will give it a go when they come up.

The water was high, there wasn't a lot of beach and it was pretty marshy ... not really calling for us to come into the water. But the pool there, that was a different story! The boys love swimming and are always excited about a hot tub. Poor Cooper though :( ... he actually could have gotten his cast off at our last visit, but he (and I) weren't quite ready for his arm to be totally unprotected, so they put on a cast for a couple more weeks. After NOT being able to swim, Cooper is ready to have the cast off! Nice farmer tan boys!

The boys loved this spinner at the playground ...

As we weren't in a condo, to be able to cook our own food, we ate out. The boys were suitably impressed with the famous "Bear Lake Raspberry shakes" (Mom and Cooper shared a chocolate malt) and everyone enjoyed a big breakfast ... Eat up Callahan!

Colton met a moose ...

So Grayson and Landon will be going back in just a couple of weeks. One of the main points of the scout trip is to participate in a 50 mile bike ride! For the past few weeks, the scouts have been getting together to get into shape and get ready for the big ride. They did 25 miles this last Saturday morning. Grayson had heard that circling the entire lake was right around 50 miles, so that was the plan. As we first pulled into view of the lake, Landon looked out the window and gasped "That is NOT 50 miles" ... it did look huge (I couldn't even come close to capturing it all in the photo above.) Grayson did drive around it though, verifying that it was indeed almost 50 miles exactly. Good luck boys!
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