Sunday, April 23, 2017

1st Half of April 2017

We started off the month with a family trip to the grocery store between General Conference sessions. Joey found these giant Easter eggs and tried putting them on his head. Then the big kids tried stacking more on top. We got a good laugh. Dairy Queen was handing out samples of their cakes. Joey especially liked the green frosting. Can you see it on his face?

Tommy loves his Transformer from Grammy and Grampy. It goes everywhere with him - even to bed some nights. Tommy asked me to play Candyland with him but he didn't want to be a princess, so he used his Transformer. I think he just did it to win. The robot was so big, he took up four spaces on the board.
It isn't Spring in Idaho without a little snow. We had big fluffy flakes that covered everything in less than an hour. Annie and Joey were the only ones brave enough to get out and enjoy it. They laughed and laughed.
Joey is our busiest baby by far. He has a knack for finding and making trouble. He is also our first baby to go out of his way to not obey. If we tell him not to do something, he will rush to do it more. Arg! Maybe we need to try reverse psychology on him. Good thing he is so beautiful! I guess we'll keep him.
 Tommy has entered the fort building phase. He and his friends love to build them and then wrestle inside them until the fort comes crashing down.
 Lily got assigned her first school report. She chose to do it on green sea turtles. She loved looking up facts about them and choosing pictures for her poster. She was so sad to learn that mommy turtles bury their eggs in the sand and leave the babies to hatch and find their way to the ocean on their own. She couldn't imagine not having a mommy to take care of them.
Tommy is learning to appreciate Joey as a buddy. They play together more often and love to jump, wrestle, and make lots of noise. I hope they have many happy years ahead of them.
I did a much needed girls' night out with my friends. We went to the hibachi restaurant Fuji. There were so many of us, we needed two grills. I promised the kids I would take a picture of the onion volcano. I bumped into Lily's teacher there too. She was there for her baby shower.
Joey got into the mud in the garden - and he loved it. He didn't want us to wash it off. Good thing Daddy was there to help me wrestle him out of his clothes and into the sink!
My cousin Katie graduated from BYU-Idaho. She and her husband came to stay with us for the weekend so they could attend graduation. Her sister Danielle also came with her five kids. We had a full house! But it was a really fun weekend. Eric had a birthday while they were here so got to celebrate that too.
Katie's little baby Clara got a tummy bug and was throwing up constantly the night before and the day of graduation. They had to do two loads of laundry and had a hard time getting her to sleep - especially with all the noise and extra people around. It probably wasn't the most fun trip for them, but we loved seeing Clara and her parents.
All the kids loved playing together and eating lots of food. We let them all sleep together in the basement, stay up late, and play as much as possible. It was a great time! But cooking for and cleaning up after 15 people was exhausting!

We spent another Sunday at the park and temple. It was so cold, we all had to wear hats and big coats, but that didn't stop the kids from having a great time. They love going to the park.
I was cleaning the boys room and putting away laundry. Joey kept saying "help me" and pointing into the closet. I couldn't figure out what he wanted. A few minutes later I heard him grunting in frustration and found him trying to get Tommy's Captain America costume out of the closet. I helped him put it on and he wore it for two hours. I love my little hero!
 For Family Night we dyed Easter Eggs. I've learned that babies don't realize the difference between colored water and plain water. To prevent a mess, we have Joey plastic eggs and a bowl of water. He was totally entertained!
The older three took their egg coloring very seriously. We tried coloring the eggs with crayons, doing stripes, and doing shrink wraps.
Tommy wanted all his eggs to be orange and green. Lily leaned toward the blues this year.
Going shirtless for everyone under 5 is always a good idea too. The boys couldn't get enough of the eggs. Tommy was trying to dye everything within reach. When we ran out of eggs, everybody was a little disappointed, but 16 hard boiled eggs was more than enough for our family.
The boys got tired of real eggs and made their way to the plastic eggs. We had eggs everywhere. There were a few casualties, but we still had plenty to use for Easter.
The girls and Daddy timed some of their eggs for optimal color saturation. They loved the vibrant reds and blues the best. Daddy liked trying the shrink wrappers. He had never done them as a kid and wanted to use every wrapper in the kit. Rather than the hot water method, he tried the hair dryer technique. It worked and all the kids got a turn wrapping an egg with Dad.
This year to help us count down to Easter I used Resurrection Eggs. I bought the kit at Wal-Mart after last Easter. Each egg has an item representing events from the last days of Christ's life. We would hide one or two Resurrection Eggs plus another egg with clues about the Prince of Peace initiative on We read from the scriptures about the final days of Jesus life on Earth and we watched one short video from every night. It was sweet to teach the kids about Jesus in a simple and fun way. Some nights it went very well, other nights were a little crazy. But we tried and the kids learned and felt something special.
Annie is learning to ride two wheels without training wheels. We tried last Spring and Summer but she wasn't up for it. This year she wants to do it and is trying harder. Go Annie!
 I think I know what to get Joey for his 2nd birthday - a lawnmower. He sneaks over to our neighbors house just so he can push their toy mower. Little stinker!
My neighbor started a play group for our street. She is not LDS so we are trying hard to support her and socialize with her. So far it has been a success. We alternate houses each week. Two women who are not members have been coming, it is a good thing for our families. I hope those non-members will feel a little more included and welcomed as this continues.
After dinner one night Tommy asked Daddy to play Hot Wheels. All the boys had a good time together racing and crashing cars. I guess you're never too old for some car racing.
Lily was determined to finish her report early because her teacher is going on maternity leave. We spent a few afternoons cutting pictures and narrowing down the facts she wanted to include on her poster. Once it was finished, we had her practice giving us her presentation a couple of times. She did a great job. And we all learned a lot about sea turtles.
Annie was feeling a little left out during the process, so we gave her an extra poster board and the pictures Lily didn't use. Annie made her own project and gave mommy a little report too.
Grammy and Grampy invited us to their house for Easter weekend. Our first night there we tried the hot tub. It was a little too warm for the kids, but we liked it. Tommy was reluctant to get in but eventually tried it - but only his feet got wet.
After our quick dip in the hot tub we made s'mores with Jake and Diana's family. Yummy! So much fun. We look forward to years of memories here.
I think this is one of my most favorite pictures of Annie. It is her genuine joyful smile - not a picture pose. It captures everything wonderful about childhood - messy face and hair, playing outside, eating treats, spending time with family around the fire. I just love the joy in her face.
The Easter Bunny comes to our house a day early to avoid all the excitement and craziness on Easter morning. And boy was it crazy. The girls tried to wake us up at 5:40 to open their baskets - we told them they had to wait until the brothers woke up too.
The surprise big hit gift was these gymnastic ribbon batons. The girls played with them for hours and found all kinds of ways to use them while dancing and with their Barbies.

We wanted to see the gardens at Thanksgiving Point so we did our egg hunt early too. This was Joey's first year hunting for eggs and he did great. Daddy was the Easter Bunny's helper and got all the eggs hidden before the kids finished opening their baskets.
Grammy and Grampy's yard had all kinds of fun places to hide eggs. The kids had a wonderful time trying to find all of them. Three were never recovered. Maybe we'll find them later this summer.
Tommy was worried about gong to sleep because he didn't want the Easter Bunny to "get him" in the night. We assured him that the Bunny would do no such thing - that he just wants to bring treats and eggs to children. We think Tommy believes us now. He loved all his Easter treasures.
After an exciting baskets and egg morning, we had a big breakfast and made our way to Thanksgiving Point. It is Tulip Festival time. The gardens were so beautiful and the weather was nice.
Joey didn't want to ride in his stroller. He wanted to explore. We can't blame him. It was a beautiful place.
The double and triple bloom tulips were mommy's favorite. The girls liked the red ones best. Tommy and Joey loved the koi fish in the ponds.
And all the kids loved the inflatables!
We played games and let the kids ride the inflatables for a long time. But then they started getting hungry so we kept truckin' in order to finish before lunch time.
Lily talked Annie into pushing the stroller for a while.
Mommy's favorite spot was this living art umbrellas in the trees. It just made you feel happy walking down the lane. Everyone who came around the corner and saw the umbrellas would smile or giggle a little.
After leaving the umbrella lane, we happened upon this amazing sculpture of Christ feeding the chickens. There is a whole sculpture garden in Thanksgiving Point dedicated to Christ. It is amazing. We didn't get to see even half of what was there - mostly because Joey didn't want to leave this one of Jesus down at his level.

"How oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart." 3 Nephi 10:6  

I think this was my favorite moment of Easter weekend. Joey spotted this sculpture at Thanksgiving Point and recognized Jesus immediately. He tried to climb into the arms of Jesus and help him feed the chicks. He wouldn't stop saying "Jeezee" which is how he says Jesus. He was reluctant to leave. I think he expected the art to come alive.
I make a lot of mistakes as a person, as a mom. But moments like this when I see my babies recognize and love Jesus fill me with hope that the Spirit is in our family life testifying to my children of the Savior's reality.
"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ,....that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." 2 Nephi 25:26
This First Vision scene was tucked away in the trees. The whole place made us all feel reverent and joyful. I want to go back and spend some time seeing all the other sculptures.
Tommy's favorite spot was called "The Secret Garden". It had a covered entrance and a small door. Tommy and Joey loved the door.
The fountains and flowers were so wonderful in here. And there were plenty of places to sit and enjoy. We just didn't get to sit long because Joey was on the move!
Joey walked and walked and walked - except when her refused to walk and Daddy was carrying him. By lunch time he was down for the count. He slept through most of our picnic.
We tried to convince the kids to see more of the gardens or try another museum but they were too tired and wanted to go home. Once we were almost to Grammy and Grampy's house we saw a park and their energy level perked up. We stopped to play for a while and enjoy the sunshine.
By the end of the day we all had a sunburn. Totally worth it! It was a wonderful day together.
Saturday night was hot tub round 2. The little boys weren't interested, so they blew bubbles and played with their water guns instead.
Easter morning was quiet and beautiful. The kids dreamed up the concept for this cake - with candy eggs and yellow peeps. They couldn't wait to help me frost and decorate it.
Great job guys. Lily used the extra frosting to make us some sandwich cookies with graham crackers. Unfortunately we left them in Grammy's freezer. Hopefully there will be some left when we come visit in May.

We forgot to get pictures in our Easter finest so we scrambled out to the foyer for a quick pic just before Sacrament meeting. This was the best we got. Clearly Tommy loves wearing ties and SUnday clothes.
We made a big cake and Diana made three amazing pies. Our family can do Easter desserts!
It was so nice to spend time in Utah and see our cousins and grandparents. We need to come visit more often!

Annie asked to watch a Barbie ballet movie after school one day. She even put on some dance clothes and found her ribbon wand. She danced through the whole movie while Mommy was cleaning up the storage room. Every once in a while, Mommy managed to sneak a picture of the dancing.
Since we were out of town for Easter, Joey missed nursery class. His sweet teacher Sister Taylor stopped by during the week to bring Joey a little gift bag. All the kids enjoyed opening it and sharing what was inside.
Joey was mostly excited about his suckers. One in each hand is the only way to go! Happy Easter from the Halls!