Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sawyer is 6

Dear Sawyer,

What a year!!  Officially done with Kindergarten, and overall, it was a fantastic experience.  Sure, you got bored and tired and complained about having to go at times, but who doesn't?!  Your behavior in school (the part we were most worried about) was pretty dang good.  Especially considering the struggles that we have had with sitting still and not talking too much. We had some bad days here and there--but mostly you made a huge effort to do well, and we were so proud.  At the end of the year, your teacher, Ms. Oswald, gave you the Nutrageous Award, for your nutty personality!  You continue to make others laugh and people enjoy being around you.  Academically, you did so wonderfully.  We are grateful that reading, spelling, and math seem to come pretty easily to you.  And of course, your favorite--art.  On numerous occasions I discovered a doodle on the back of a worksheet that just made my day!  Very detailed and always funny.  Daddy and I have been amazed at your reading ability.  It seems that about 3 months before the end of the year, reading just clicked for you.  I am always shocked to hear you read different things throughout the day (including my text messages between friends or family, haha).  We even got you into a book series called the Dragon Masters.  I can't tell you how cute it is to see you cuddled up on the couch with a book.  We are excited to see what kind of growth the First Grade will bring.  

You tried your hand at several new sports this year--soccer, basketball, and t-ball.  Honestly, sports don't seem to be quite your thing yet.  You may still be too young, and I'm sure the lack of example from older siblings holds you back a bit, but we will see.  The good thing is, you are never afraid to try and when I ask if you want to sign up for the next sport--your answer is always yes.  I guess for now we will just expect a little 'plane watching' and horseplay to be part of the experience.  This next year, Daddy is coaching your soccer team, so we will see how that works out as well.  

About midway through this year we started reading the Harry Potter series to you and Violet.  That combined with the movies (after reading the book) has kindled a great love in your hearts--much to my approval :).  We even got to visit Harry Potter Studios in London over Spring Break.  A highlight for all of us!  So, suffice it to say, we had a Harry Potter Birthday for you and we are dressing up as Harry Potter for Halloween as well.  I am perfectly fine with any amount of HP love in our home.  

Sawyer you continue to be a wonderful older brother to your sisters.  They love you so much and they look forward to having you home from school every afternoon.  There is a little more bickering between you and Violet these days, but it's not overwhelming.  Most of the time you play really well together.  We traveled back to the States in August to visit all of our family there while Daddy went to SOS in Alabama.  We took a military Space A flight out there, and it took about 5 days of planning/attempting to finally catch a plane.  During that time (daddy was already gone), you were my big boy.  I discussed plans with you, asked your opinions, and relied on you to help with your sisters.  Especially during the actual traveling experience, you were super helpful.  You all did wonderfully on that crazy adventure, and I was so grateful.  

Electronics are still your weakness.  You would play the Wii or the iPad all day long if you could.  We have to be really careful to limit your time.  Thankfully, school and sports don't allow for much of that anyways.  This year we are working on developing good habits at home--helping around the house and fulfilling our responsibilities here in a consistent manner.  You do very well with structure--but it's up to mommy to provide that.  We are all working on it together, and I think we are going to make some improvements this year.  

We've also been discussing ways that we can help you to behave better in Primary and school.  We had a conversation about strengths and weaknesses the other day.  We recognized your many strengths (academics, humor, fun, art).  We also noted that we all have weaknesses.  Sawyer, you know that it is harder for you to sit still and pay attention in class than it is for other kids.  But you also understand that it just means you have to try harder to accomplish those goals.  Just like some kids have to try harder to learn how to read.  We agreed that you would continue to make the extra effort.  A little positive reinforcement goes a long way with you.  We hope this will become less and less of a struggle as the year goes on.  

We love you so very much, Sawyer.  I can't tell you how grateful I am to have you as my oldest.  You have an innate desire to do what's right, and you have a kind heart.  Those are two things that I value most in a person.  Thank you for bringing joy and light-heartedness into our family.  We love you!!!


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Violet turns 4!

Ok I have to confess--I'm writing these birthday posts about 4 months late this year.  Life gets busy!!!   Rather than try to remember exactly how Violet was 4 months ago, I will write about how she is today.

Dear Violet,

As I always do, I just finished reading your birthday post from last year.  I'm all emotional just realizing how much you've grown up!!!  I can tell that last year I still saw you as a very little girl...but I now see you as a very big girl!  Many things are still the same.  You are sweet, but strong. Very determined and independent, while still hanging on your mommy at times.  Mostly, I have seen a huge growth in maturity this past year.  Our power struggles have diminished considerably (especially in the past couple of months).  I think we are understanding each other much more and gaining a lot of patience along the way!

Violet you are still a wonderful sister to both Sawyer and Isla.  So caring and nurturing with little Isla, and so rowdy and creative with Sawyer.  They both need you and love you so much.  You and Sawyer still share a room, but things have changed a bit this year.  Sawyer started school, so you and Isla have had more time together--which has been really fun to watch.  Sawyer's bus stop is just around the corner, so I would often let you choose whether you wanted to stay home and watch cartoons or walk to the bus stop with us.  It didn't take you long to realize that it was not fun going out in the cold dark mornings.  So we had about a 6 month hiatus from bus stop trips.  When the weather changed, you decided to come along again.  But you were almost always excited to go pick up Sawyer when he got home.

You love your daddy. He loves to make you laugh and have Avatar battles in the living room with you.  He has also helped you become a pretty decent Wii player. And daddy took you on a couple of campouts with the scouts this year.  You loved every minute of running around in the outdoors and doing all the fun camping things.  You're a pretty well-rounded little girl!

We started up an at-home preschool this year, which you've loved, where we take turns having it at each kids' house and learning a different letter.  You have proven to be a wonderful student, Violet.  Primary, preschool, dance--whatever it is you put on your listening ears and pay close attention.  It's so refreshing for mommy and I'm very grateful for your calm demeanor in public settings.  I never have to worry about your behavior.  You started Primary this year and you love it.  You love to sing the songs, but you get a little shy when it comes to talking in front of the primary.  Although you blew us away during your dance recital this year.  You were literally the only girl in your class who knew the routine and you didn't seem to suffer from an ounce of stage fright!!  You rocked it!  (speaking of rocking it--you told us at FHE one night that you didn't want to go on a mission because you wanted to be a rockstar--hahaha)

You have also spent a lot of time with friends from church.  You love a good play date, and can make-believe like none other. I can usually count on you asking for a friend to come over or to go to someone's house.  We try to make it happen as often as we can!

You have become a pickier eater over the last year.  I'm convinced that kids are picky around 3-5 yrs old.  Sawyer was very similar.  Thankfully you still do pretty well, although you won't be found anywhere near tomatoes and bell peppers.  Oh and you don't like vanilla ice cream either--only strawberry.  There is one thing that hasn't changed a bit--you still ask for snacks about every 30 minutes.  So we are trying to understand what constitutes a healthy snack these days :).  (if i had a nickel for every time we argued that fruit snacks were not a healthy 'snack')  Favorite Foods: probably chips and salsa, chicken nuggets, or pizza--i guess we'll throw cucumbers in there too ;)

You are still mommy's little helper.  If you see me get the windex out, you jump to help wash the windows. Watering the flowers is another favorite chore.  Cleaning up the room and/or playroom is another story, but if you like the task at hand then you are very helpful!  And you even help me exercise sometimes.  I love to see you join in when I'm working out.  It makes the work out so much more enjoyable for me :).

Violet, you have the best laugh ever!  That combined with your cute raspy voice and your sweet personality, you're just a joy to have around.  We all love you so much, Boogin!  I hope I never forget the wonderful feeling of your cheek snuggling up to mine.  You always initiate it, and it warms my heart every time.  You are polite, loving, determined, and full of life.  Thank you for bringing all of you to our family!  We wouldn't be the same without you.


This was hilarious to me.  Discovered as I went to turn your light off...

These next few are from Violet's preschool group...

Because we were in England for Violet's birthday, I decided to throw her a 'tea party' a week later. She had been asking me for a Brave cake all year (even though she doesn't like the movie because she thinks it's scary).  So I obliged.  Actually one of the easiest cakes i've made so far!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Holland: Cheese, Clogs, Roller Coasters

We stayed in a place called EuroCamp during our stay in Holland.  It was AMAZING.  We had no idea it would be so awesome.  We got an incredibly good deal on the 2 nights there.  The trailer we stayed in was brand new and had plenty of room for our family.  There was an amusement park and an indoor water park associated with the place, and entrance was included in everything!  Seriously one of the best weekend trips we have had, because the kids had fun things to do and nothing was expensive.  Sawyer rode his first upside down roller coaster and LOVED it!!  We got the BEST video footage of his face as we went down the vertical drop.  So after our day in Keukenhof on Friday, we woke up Saturday and made our way to the Cheese and Wooden Shoe factory.  It was really interesting to see how the shoes and cheese were made.  And the best part--cheese samples!!  Yum!  After a full morning of that, we went back to the camp and spent the rest of the day at the amusement and water parks.  Seriously a blast.  On Sunday we found a Dutch branch to attend, which is always a fun experience.  I just love that we can find the church wherever we go.  We were going to go see the windmills on our way home, but the weather was really crummy on Sunday and everyone was ready to go, so we didn't do that.  Maybe next time. We talked the whole way home about how we needed to do another EuroCamp vacation.