Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wet, Wild Week #7

This was the week that I was determined to as little work as possible and just play with my kids. It ended up being one of the most fun, relaxing, entertaining, and special weeks we have had this whole summer. On Saturday, we filled up the kid pool and splashed around all afternoon.
Pretty soon the water guns came out and I was involved in one of the best water fights of my life. I felt more like a carefree kid in that moment then I have for a long time. The boys loved getting me soaking wet and I was laughing my head off. So fun!
Then on Monday, Aunt Tracy came with us to what I think, is the best water park in our area, Cherry Hill.

We could float around the lazy river forever!

My boys know how to cool off!

On Tuesday, we met one of my friends from High School and her boys at the Riverton/Herriman reservoir beach. What an awesome place to relax and feel like you are on vacation.
Mitchel made Miles his very own baby pool. What an awesome big brother!
Wednesday we headed out to the Kearns pool, which is one of the best values for your money you'll ever get! There is so much to do there for kids of all ages. We spent the entire day there swimming and splashing around.
(Mitchel isn't in this picture because he was too busy playing on the water slides.)

Max this year has finally mastered jumping off the diving board. He loves it!

Miles was having a great time in the pop up fountains.

My little fish!

The day tuckered Miles right out and so he took an hour nap while the other three kept playing. It was perfect!
Mike gave me an extra bonus this week by taking the oldest three boys camping in the Uintas. I would have loved to have gone, but I was signed up to do the 24th of July 10K. So, in order to avoid the parade, Mike decided to brave it by himself and have a "father and sons" adventure.
He took them fishing (no fish caught though) and hiking and showing them how to make the largest fire possible. (I never would have let them do that if I had been there!) Mike did a great job of keeping them all safe and warm, and I think he said he even had them brush their teeth once!
Miles and I on the other hand stayed home and played together and with my family. I ran the 10K and was very proud of myself!

I ran it in 53 minutes and placed #64 out of 257 in my age category. I was 1022 overall out of 2342 runners all together. I was thrilled with my time. My running buddy and I averaged an 8 minute mile, which is the fastest I have ever run before. I am now contemplating running another half marathon over Labor Day. We'll see. Then my family and I watched the parade and went out to lunch. That afternoon I got a 3 hour, uninterupted, peaceful nap! Awesome!
So it was one of those summer weeks that will live on in my memory forever. It was absolutely perfect and filled with so much sun and fun! I love spending time with my family and just being together with no pressure and with the sole purpose of just enjoying being together.
Now it is time to get to work. I only have 3 weeks until I have to be at the school for meetings and such, so the next few weeks will be spent making sure I have everything ready for my classroom. Hopefully we'll be able to have a few more summer adventures, but this past week was one I'll never forget!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reading Training -Week 6 of summer

Do you see this happy child? This is how all of my 3rd Grade students are going to look now that I have attended the "Imagine It" reading training this week. I now have all the knowledge, skills, training, and know-how to be the best 3rd grade reading teacher ever! If I could now only figure out how to do it all in the amount of time I have. This program is intense! There is so much in it, all good stuff, but still a ton of stuff that needs to be covered everyday. I have a three hour language arts block in which to cover word blending, dictation, reading comprehension strategies, discussions, spelling, handwriting, language skills, the writing process, small groups, centers, recess, transitions, workbooks, and probably 5 or 6 other things that I can't remember right now.
But, I am totally excited to do it all. This class got me really pumped up and motivated to be a teacher again and make it an amazing and wonderful experience for the third graders who will be in my class. I don't even know yet how many students I'll have or if they will be able to speak English or read at all, but I feel like I can do it. I have been making tons of lists and plans of all the things I need to get or make to be ready for the first day, and there is a lot! But I can already tell I am really going to love my job.
I've wanted to be a teacher ever since I was in 2nd grade and I am so lucky that I have been able to pursue that dream and make it a reality. Even through having babies and raising my children, I have been able to work in the schools since I got my degree back in 1998. Having my degree has been such a blessing, because I have been able to work part time and still bring in some much needed income for my family and I've been able to continue doing what I love.
So bring it on "Imagine It" and my third graders. We are going to have a great year!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer-Week 5

This post is not going to go in order of the events that happened this week. A lot of the time was spent recovering from our week long vacation = laundry. We also went swimming at Murray pool which I did not take photos of. But, for the purposes of this post, I thought I would start with the most important events.
Mason's 4th Birthday My little sunshine and buddy turned four on Saturday. He is growing up so fast and is starting to act like a "big kid," with a little attitude thrown in every once in a while. We started the morning with birthday pancakes and presents from Mom and Dad.
That afternoon, we went to the District to see Toy Story 3. We all got teary eyed at the end and Mitchel, my softy, was bawling. But we all liked it. When we came out of the movie theater, our van wouldn't start! Ahhhh! Luckily my brother and sister-in-law were in the area and they came to rescue us. The jump they gave us didn't work, so they drove us home. Mike took off to find out what the problem was (bad battery) while I stayed home to get ready for the party. I even mowed the lawn!
We had all our family and cousins over for a fried chicken dinner. Yummy! Mike had rented a snow cone machine from his work and that was a hit as well.
Miles learned to Walk!
So I was hoping and hoping that Miles would be walking before our big camping trip, with no luck. But wouldn't you know it that two days after we came home he decided that NOW would be a good time to get the hang of it! So now he is walking all over the place and it is so cute to watch.
I also decided to see how he would do if I let him feed himself some oatmeal for breakfast. He loved it and started with the spoon, but eventually gave up and found it was faster to shove it in with his hands. What a mess!

Liberty Park
Even though I really didn't have time because I have about 100 projects I should be doing at home, I took the kids to spend an afternoon at Liberty Park. They played on the playground and on the splash pad and in the "rivers." This was the coolest picture I took there, so that is all I will post.
Another afternoon, some neighbor kids came over so we broke out the slip and slide again. Unfortunately, all the cool tricks and crazy moves these boys did were too much for the slide and it ended up tearing. It was fun while it lasted though.
This week I am taking a class on how to teach the reading program I will be teaching to 3rd grade next year. My kids will be splitting their time between Grandma Miller and Grandma Harker so I can attend. I'm starting to get stressed out about setting up a classroom and making sure I have everything ready to start the school year. Hopefully we can squeeze in a little more summer fun before that consumes my life.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mt. Rushmore Vacation

Who knew that South Dakota would be such an amazing and awesome place to spend a week? Not me, but I'm sure glad I found out. We saw so many cool things and went to some amazing places. It was all so beautiful and green. We went with Grandma and Grandpa Harker, Uncle Matt, and our family of 6. Here is a rundown of what we did each day. Day 1
We stayed in a Flintstones themed campground. We have a tent, so the area we were in was grassy and not dirty! There were bathrooms and showers so we all stayed clean and non-stinky. There was a small pool for the kids, a playground, and a miniature golf course. The boys loved it!

Day 2
Of course the first thing we had to go see was Mt. Rushmore. It was fascinating. I loved learning the history behind it and learning about the sculptor. He was a genius. It took 14 years to do this whole thing (due to money issues) and he died before it was completely finished. But what is there really is amazing. We spent a whole morning and part of the afternoon here while the kids worked on their Jr. Ranger badges.

That same day, we took a LONG drive to the Badlands. You can see in this picture what it looked like. Kind of like an alien planet. We spent quite a bit of time in the Visitor Center so the kids could get their second Jr. Ranger badge of the trip.

Then we drove back to Mt. Rushmore just in time for the evening program where they light up the heads. It was patriotic and touching.
Day 3
South Dakota is home to the second largest cave system in the world called "Wind Cave." They give tours through a 1/2 mile of it that takes about an hour and a half. So cool! I know we have Timponogos cave here, but this one was so different from that and just as amazing. The kids were also able to earn another Jr. Ranger badge here.

(We didn't actually buy the hats, but they did get their badges and a patch)
Next we took another LONG drive along the Needles Highway. We saw a lot of wild life on this drive but the part that everyone stops to see is the "eye of the needle." It's a cool rock formation. The kids (and dad) loved crawling and hiking up all the rocks here.
Day 4
Grandpa treated us to an authentic train ride from Keystone city to Hill City. The ride was about an hour there, then stay for an hour to eat lunch at a yummy little pizza place, then an hour back.
(I love this picture of Mason hanging out the window)
After the train ride, we went to the other famous cave there, "Jewel Cave." I thought it would be like the first one we saw, but it was totally different with different formations and bigger rooms. We went to 380 ft. below the ground which to me is kind of mind boggling to think about. The kids got another Jr. Ranger badge while we were here.

Day 5
The morning was spent going window shopping in the little town and getting souvenirs while Grandma and Grandpa did the Jewel Cave tour. Then it was on to another LONG drive to Devil's Tower back in Wyoming. It took about 2 hours to get there and I was wondering if the drive would be worth it. Was it ever!! This was so cool. Have you ever seen the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind?" Well, this is the mountain made famous from that movie. It just pops out of the ground out of nowhere and it is huge!
We hiked all around the base of it. Every angle around it looks different. One of those, "You just have to see it" places! Another Jr. Ranger badge was earned here.
Day 6
This day was spent in Custer State Park. We had a lovely picnic and toured the visitor center (yep, earning another badge). This park also has a ton of buffalo roaming around everywhere.
Then they did Panning for Gold. South Dakota had a big gold rush back in the day, even though there really isn't that much there. The kids (and me) got to practice what that would have been like to try and find gold (hard).
After that fun adventure, we drove to a lake to swim. This was the only day it was overcast and a little chilly, so Grandma, Grandpa, and I stayed on the shore, but the boys all dived right in.
Day 7
It was time to pack up and go home. The boys were so excited about the 5 badges they had acquired and were proud to show them off.
We drove all the way home in one day, a 12 hour trip. But really it didn't seem that bad. Then when we got home, another amazing surprise was waiting for us there, but that is a whole other blog post!
So, it really was the trip of a lifetime. We did more and saw more than I ever thought possible and loved every minute of it. There is no way we could have done it without Grandma there to help with Miles. I am so grateful to her and for how she loves my kids and wanted to take this adventure with us. Grandpa and Uncle Matt were also troopers for being so patient while the kids did all their Jr. Ranger stuff. It was a wonderful time! We have been home now for 3 days and I only have two more loads of laundry left to do. Back to reality!