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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Duck Creek Reunion

Last year my mom suggested that it was time for our immediate family
(my borthers & sisters) to start doing family reunions periodically. This summer was our 1st one that I was put in charge of. I was able to find this 5 bedroom, 3 bath w/ loft cabin that sleeps 17+ people on VRBO.com. The cabin was huge and came with plenty of beds for everyone including kids to sleep in. The kitchen was stocked with dishes, pots and pans and anything else you'd need to feed your family with. It cost about $1200 for the 4 day/3 night weekend. Splitting this between my siblings and parents it cost each family $200. I didn't think this was too bad. The accommodations were definitely better than any recent hotel stays we've had.

To sweeten this little family reunion my Grandpa Hunter (whom Hunter is named after) was driving through and decided to drop by and stay the night with us. The last time I saw him or Grandma Becky was at Emily's blessing. Almost 8 years ago. There were several family member's that had never met Grandpa Hunter. We had such a great time sitting around and visiting with them.

Grandpa James Hunter

Emily welcoming Grandma Becky!

Brionney teaching her new GG and GGpa how to work the ipad.

12 of his great grand kids from his daughter Heather.

My siblings with our grandparents.
Hanna, Sheri, Tina, Grandma, Grandpa, Jonathan, Travis, Matthew

During our reunion we celebrated 2 birthday's. 
Miss Elena turned the big "5". Her parents requested a "Lego" theme birthday cake. Elena's dad forgot to bring the lego candles. Oops!

My sister Hanna also had a birthday. Knowing our family is not into cake we went a different route for the 2nd celebration. We used Hanna's favorite soda and candy bars. She was so kind to share with her nieces and nephews. 

The girl cousins had a blast finding horny toads.

While the boys climbed trees
                                               

and chopped wood for our nightly bon fires.
                                               
One day we had planned a trip to Navajo Lake, just a few minutes away from our cabin. Grandpa brought his rafts and life jackets for everyone. The kids had fun despite the really chilly weather.

My kids, a little more accustomed to the chillier weather, didn't seem to mind getting wet. If the wind hadn't been so windy I think more would have ventured into the water. Thank goodness for the rafts. We still had fun playing in the water.

Most of the adults do to the chilly weather decided to stay ashore.

 But there's one in every group. And here he is.... Uncle Jason showed us all up by taking a quick dive into the cold water. He said down under wasn't too cold, it was just the surface.

Love this little boy!

On another day we took everyone to Mammoth Caves. This is our favorite spot on Cedar Mountain and have been here many, many times. The family spent a few hours going in and out of the caves. This is the main entrance to the cave. Inside there are 3-4 different tunnels leading you out at different spots. 

The kids had a blast going in one way and out a different way. Some of these tunnels get quite tight and you end up having to crawl on your hands and knees. My kids love this about them. They feel like it's quite the adventure.

On our way back to the cabin Grandpa's truck got a flat. Kory and Uncle Matt were able to fix it.

These 2 little boys were there to help too.

We had such a fun, enjoyable and memorable weekend. I love periodically getting away from home. No phones, no internet, no schedule. The kids were able to spend time outside playing with their cousins and just having fun. 
To make this trip even more memorable I got a flat on the way home. Yeah for Uncle Matt and Grandpa for being there to help me!

Snack Time

When we moved to Hurricane we went almost our first 3 weeks without internet. For the most part it wasn't bothersome at all but periodically I did have to run to my parents to have access to the internet. It was during one of these quick trips that my kids decided to share their popcorn snack with their GG.

One for you...

 and one for me.

Brayden did a good job at making sure GG got plenty of water.
Popcorn makes you thirsty!

Kylie tried too.

I love how Kylie's mouth is wide opening. Does it help GG open her mouth too?

 Kylie wasn't quite quick enough to pull her finger out. GG bit her finger just a little bit. Didn't leave a mark, no tears but Kylie kept saying, "owe, owe" and showing me her finger.

Despite the little nip they wanted to pop more when they ran out of popcorn. So glad my children had this opportunity to "help" GG.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

1st Week of A New School Year

School has begun at our house. It's a love/hate relationship that we have with it. For the most part all of my kids enjoy school but I hate the homework. I hate the spelling words the vocabulary words and all the silly little math papers that supposedly reiterates what's been taught in the classroom. But it is what it is and we are doing our best at getting all of it done on a nightly basis.  

Hunter is at the Intermediate school this year. He loves the different teachers for each subject. His two electives this year is P.E and Keyboarding. He loves the P.E part. He is also in intermediate orchestra this year and is playing the cello. Three times a week he stays after school to practice his cello in a "groupie" setting. I love that the teacher offers this. It means he doesn't have to lug his cello back and forth to school each day. It just stays in his personal cubby in the orchestra room. Hunter loves saving his money. One day he hopes to be a Muli-Billionaire. Sure wish he'd hurry up with that.

 This is Madelyn's last year in elementary school. She's our big 5th grader. She loves her teacher and going to school. Our elementary school does not have a music program like our previous elementary school did. The school district does however offer an early morning orchestra for all 4th and 5th graders. Madelyn is participating in this program and is playing the Viola. This means that 2-3 times a week I get to drop her off at the high school for an hour before school. I then get to pick her up and drive her to school. She's loving it! Madelyn has an interest in her teeth. She loves going to the dentist. After her last visit she told me she no longer wants to be a dental hygienist but a dentist.  

 Emily loves school. She is in 2nd grade this year and the oldest of her class. She can't believe that 3 of the kids in her class have already had birthday's but they turned 7. She will be turning 8 in just a few weeks. She loves her teacher. She says she's "fun". She loves math but she doesn't care for recess. It's too hot! I'm sure that will change when the weather cools and she can play in weather she's more accustomed with. I think we are all still struggling a bit with the 100+ degree weather every day. Back in Alton the weather is in the mid 80's and sometimes breaks 90, Being in the mountains it's just cooler. Emily wants to be a "fun" teacher like what she has this year.  I'm loving her new haircut!

 Brayden started Kindergarten this year. He loves school! He loves being able to ride the bus back and forth. He's making friends on his bus and keeps asking if he can walk to their house. Brayden likes recess. He and his friends play Super Heroes or Cowboys and Indians most day's. The first week of school Brayden really loved homework every day. Now 3 weeks later he doesn't care for it so much. Brayden wants to be a cowboy when he grows up.

 Here they are walking to the bus stop just 3 houses up the street.  On rainy day's they stand in the garage and when they see the bus round the corner they head to their bus stop. Love that it's so close.

We are loving our new neighborhood. It if full of kids! Something we have never really had. There were 18 kids at the bus stop the morning I took this picture. There is another bus stop just around the corner. Hunter catches the bus more then an hour earlier than my elementary kids and he's got 6-8 kids every morning at his spot. At night about 6:30/7 when it's cooled off kids come out to play. We've got middle school/high schooler's throwing a football in the middle of the street. We have younger kids like Hunter riding their bikes, scooters and skate boards up and down the street. Little boys running around with super heroes, play guns and cars or other toys in their hands. The girls ride their bikes or roller skate with other little girls. These little kids meet up with each other and park themselves on someones grass and play together.  We are loving all the friends and future friends that will be made.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Moving to Hurricane

We are moving to Hurricane soon, very soon, like 6 days for now. With Kory working part-time in St. George we've wanted to move our family closer to his work. Since February our family has been praying that work will pick up so that we will have the funds to move by the time school starts for my kids. I really did not want my kids to have to change schools in the middle of the year. If we stayed Brayden would be in all day kindergarten. If we moved he would change to a half day kindergarten. Where we are now 6th grade is in the elementary school if we moved he would go to an intermediate school. I wanted Hunter to start the school year off with all the other 6th graders leaving their elementary day's behind. 

Back in March I found a few houses that I was interested in. When I called the Realty company about them I was told that our family with 5 children could not rent these 3 bedroom houses. Apparently Utah has a rule that only 1 1/2 children can occupy a bedroom. Even with a 4 bedroom we have 1/2 a kid to many but because Kylie is so young they would allow us to rent a 4 bedroom. We can't afford a 4 bedroom in St. George. These house are going for $1300 and up. We have to keep our rent under $1,000 at the most right now. 

My mom came across a low income housing in Hurricane. I called on it just to see if we'd qualify. Besides having 1/2 a kid to many we do. However at that time there were no townhomes available. I was told that I needed to call each month to keep our names on the waiting list and that we'd have a 9-12 mo. wait. Knowing that would be too long I didn't bother with calling every month. In May my sister had a friend looking to move. I told her about these townhomes and called them for her. While leaving a message for her I also asked that my name be put on the waiting list again. And then I didn't think about it until I got a phone call the 2nd week in July.  There was an opening and we could move in Aug 8. Two days before school starts in Hurricane. Knowing we didn't have a lot of time and still not sure if we'd qualify with owning our own company and having too many assets we quickly filled out the paper work and played the waiting game. July 25th, last Friday we found out we were approved and could move in 2 weeks.  Wanting to make sure this was right for our family we fasted/prayed and attended the temple the following Tuesday. We came home Wednesday, left for the Heaton reunion Thursday morning, got home Friday afternoon and I started to pack. I've got a week! 

The townhome is small. It's 1500 sq. ft with a 2 car garage. We will be paying $825 a month which compared to homes this same size in St. George we'd be paying closer to $1500 a month. The rooms are small the family room is small and the kitchen makes me want to cry. It's tiny and is what we had in all the duplex's we lived in while in Arizona. But it's temporary. It's a stepping stone. We've got one more year for Kory to have had the same profession for 2 years. This spring I will start looking for houses. Next summer we hope to buy. Living in Hurricane will help us decide where we want to end up for a few years. Kory will have a 30 minute commute. Will he want to move in to St. George to be even closer? Will the commute not bother him and we want to move to Cedar where things are much cheaper, a smaller community but he'd have a 45 minute commute?

Regardless moving now means the kids won't change schools during the school year and Kory won't have to commute in bad weather this winter which is really the reason he wanted to move before this winter. 

In a week I will be sleeping in my own bed in a new home. The townhome is the middle one in the picture. We will occupy the right side. It does have a nice back yard full of grass. Despite our apprehension of having new neighbors, a new ward, new schools and making new friends and it all being temporary; we know this is what our family is suppose to do right now. Now if I can just get everything that's needed to be done in the next few day's. 

Huntington State Park

My in-laws FINALLY received their mission call. They tried first submitting their papers back in January. After a few medical procedures and 6 weeks of waiting their mission call finally came in the mail. They will be serving in the Baltic Mission in Estonia (next to Russia). They report October 6 and will serve for 18 months. Grandma wanted one last family get together before school starts and they leave. After a few different ideas she settled on Huntington State Park. It was a quick trip but fun nonetheless.

Thursday afternoon everyone was asked to meet at this state park at 1 for a pot luck lunch and fun in the sun. This state park provided everyone with a life jacket at no extra charge. In the middle of the ocean (Brayden kept calling it) was a blown up slide 10ft. high. This was the best part. The older kids never tired of this fun attraction. 

Brayden is my little fish. Once he got his life jacket on he was gone. Made me nervous to see him so far out and by himself but he was quite happy about with his independence. 

Throughout the water were a few of these docks. The kids could easily swim to them or ride their canoe/paddle board out to them. They spent hours playing games and jumping from them.  

Madelyn and Ruth taking a turn on the paddle board.

When Brayden wasn't out at sea he was playing in the soft dirt with his buckets we brought. 

Kylie loved the water too. She loved the small waves coming at her.
Kylie and Sara

Emily and Rachel in the canoe.

 Since I stuck pretty close to Kylie the older grandkids took Brayden out for a ride.

 Orrin, Hunter, Curtis

Hunter and Emily in the canoe.

Brayden and cousins trying to get their paddle board into the deeper water.

 Kyle on the paddle board and Brayden floating back to land.
 
 Kylie and Elizabeth wanted a turn on the paddle boards too. They each wanted a turn with the oars.

When the babies were water logged they spent some time digging in the dirt.

After several hours at the park we all headed to our hotels and got ready to attend the Castle Dale Pageant. This pageant is about the early settlers who were asked by Brigham Young to establish the local area. It was a long trip for such a short day but it was fun. The kids and I had a great time and am glad we went. The only thing that would have made it better was if our Dad would have been able to make it but he was working on a few cabinet jobs that have to be installed in Arizona 3 days after this fun filled day.  

Camping with Friends

Several weeks ago out of the blue I got a text from some very old friends, the Politowicz family. We became friends while living in PV, Arizona. When their family moved in Mandy was pregnant with their third, Christian who in February turned 8. Before we moved to Utah this wonderful family moved to St. George. Periodically we run into each other and play catch up. We miss our friends from Arizona.  Her recent text told me they were hoping they could come up to our place and go camping with us. Being it's been a crazy summer for us with baseball and dealing with the worker's we quickly said yes! It was time for a little family get away.

One of the great things about Alton is that there are several wonderful camp sites starting just 5-10 minutes out of town. We didn't have to go very far. Jason ended up having to work later than he thought so we got a bit of a late start. We got to set up camp and cook dinner in the dark. 

This is who we use to call Lexi Loo holding baby Sam. Being Lexi is 15 now and going to be a sophomore this year I doubt she likes being called Lexi Loo anymore. Can't believe what a beautiful young lady she is. In my head I still picture her to be 8/9 when we first met playing babies with Madelyn who was then 2. 

 Brayden, Emily, Madelyn and Kylie enjoying the camp fire.

The next morning for breakfast Hunter and Jaxson whipped out the left over smore' makings and made themselves some sugary breakfast. 

 Madelyn and Kylie soon joined us.

 Brayden was our sleepy head. He didn't get up for quite some time. He must have been pretty comfortable with 3 different sleeping bags surrounding him
.
While waiting on breakfast Hunter made a spear to take fishing later. 

 Emily and Kylie enjoying those breakfast smore's.

In Achievement Day's Madelyn made a Bunson Burner. She brought it along and cooked her own scrambled eggs on it. 

Jason and baby Sam. Love those eyebrows Sam was always making. 

 While the big kids were shooting the little's were playing with bubbles behind us.

 Daddy helping Madelyn shoot mom's gun.

 Hunter took his turn with the skeet thrower.

Kylie didn't care for the loud noises the shot gun was making. This little girl does not like loud noises.

 When camp was cleaned up and everyone was done shooting we took everyone to Grandpa Heaton's Reservoir. We had 2 canoes and life jackets for the little ones. Madelyn and Christian took first dibs on the closet canoe. 

The other kids soon joined and got a ride to the 2nd canoe.
Hunter, Jaxson, Madelyn, Christian, Lexi, Kiera 

Kylie was content to stay on land and play in the sand.

Christian caught several grasshoppers and tried to go fishing with them.
It wasn't a long enough weekend but we enjoyed every minute of it. It's so nice to be able to get away from every day life and just enjoy the great outdoors. The kids got a long great and us parents enjoyed sitting back reminiscing and catching up with one another's lives. We sure hope we can do this again.