19 November 2014

17 November 2014

Piano Videos

I told an old friend, the boys' piano teacher back in New York, that I would post some videos of the boys playing the piano here on the blog so she can see them if she happens to have the chance to use a computer.  So these are for you, Mary.

Kolby has become quite the pianist lately.  He works hard and practices most every day, and he is doing so well at this new music school.  I think he is now playing at the same level as Michael (at least).  It's really fun to listen to the music he plays now.  He has been working on "Waterfall" by Jon Schmidt lately.  [I tried uploading a video of the whole song, but the song is long and unfortunately the blog wouldn't let me upload such a large video file.  So here it is, only about that last minute of the song.]

Here is Isaac playing a piece from his most recent recital:


Courtland has been taking lessons from Michael now for about 9 months or so.  He enjoys taking lessons from Daddy, is doing well with his practicing, and seems to like playing.  Michael told me last weekend that Courtland just learned a new Christmas song that would be a little challenging for him, but it sounds to me like he's doing great at it.  Courtland wanted me to record him playing "Good King Wenceslaus" (he sure is proud of himself).  :)   Hard to believe Kolby was Courtland's age when he started playing the piano.


Here is Lijah playing a train song called "Streamliner":


And a week ago Camden told me that his teacher asked him to pick out a Christmas song to play.  I thought she meant to find the Christmas music books so they could pick a song together at his next lesson, but he tried some songs, chose one, and start learning it on his own.

Here he is sight-reading "Angels We Have Heard On High" for the first time:

He ended up choosing "Little Drummer Boy."  Here he is after practicing this one for a week:

08 November 2014

The Christmas Jar

Wow, our boys have been busy working hard. For the last 10 months or so they have been doing extra jobs to earn money for the "Christmas Jar," where they save up their money in order to get gifts for their family for Chrismas.  Then Michael and I "match their contribution." And then they divide the total equally between the 5 boys and they get to choose what to get for each family member.  They just counted up everything in the Christmas Jar, and I'm headed to the bank to match their $135.02.  Then comes the fun part: Christmas shopping!  

We've found that you try lots of different ideas as parents, and some work while others don't. This little idea sure has helped our boys to focus way more on what they are going to give for Christmas than on what they are going to get.  And it's so sweet to see how excited they get about the gifts they give to each family member. 

31 October 2014

Halloween Parade

My first time to be able to see all my boys at their school Halloween parade now that they're all at the same school. 

Lijah the knight

Isaac the Tin Man

Courtland the Scarecrow

Kolby the skeleton

And Camden as Harry Potter

Isaac's & Courtland's Pictures

Isaac made these paintings in his "deep dive" elective art class at school. It's so fun that the kids have so many choices of elective classes. He said now he is taking a "building" class. 

And this afternoon Isaac's & Courtland's "pod" (the K-1 grade span at school) had a "Gallery Walk" of what they've learned in their Fall Exploration. Courtland was so proud of his "5 Little Pumpkins" poem and drawings!

30 October 2014

Camping at Mt. Laguna

So last weekend we got to go camping at a campground in Mt. Laguna called Burnt Rancheria. It was a pleasant surprise to pull into the campground and find all the leaves were turning golden and tan. A nice little touch of Autumn. We enjoyed hiking to a little peak with an impressive view of Anza Borrego Desert. And the kids had a blast tossing the football and playing card games with their friends, and climbing lots of trees of course. We spent the evenings around the campfires -- it was colder weather than we have camped in the last couple years, but we were prepared with lots of layers of clothes so we weren't cold at night. Apparently Michael did something to his knee the last time we hiked on a campout, and it was bothering him quite a bit on the hike -- just hurts when he hikes downhill. So today I got him a knee brace to try out and see if that helps. On our last night there I didn't sleep well, and my neck/left shoulder is still quite soar. I think that officially means we're getting old, but oh well, I guess if we'll just keep going. :)   Other than that, the campout was quite pleasant. And some of the big kids in the nature group got together to make some plans for some outdoor activities geared more towards the older kids, which was fun to see what ideas they came up with. I'm going to help out in the family nature club a little with planning some occasional hikes and outdoor activities about once every month or two, so it'll be fun to try to be a little more involved as our schedule will allow, since we always enjoy the activities and the good company. 

Kolby's, Lijah's, & Camden's School Work

Just wanted to share some of the older boys' school work from their school Google Drive accounts:

Here is the beginning of a cute little narrative Kolby has started to work on:
"It was a typical day in New York City, New York, at 7:13 P.M. when Zinc secretly traded his mind blowing chunk of zinc with Gold’s astonishingly heavy piece of gold. Things were really getting messed up, now that Mercury had changed his psychedelic scrap of mercury with Silver’s   stunning chunk of silver who had traded this mercury with Copper’s wondrous segment of Copper. Zinc is a 16 year old with chocolate brown hair and an exceptionally sharp gotee. Gold is a very mature,tall, 14 year old young teenager with dirty blond hair that always wears purple and/or pink cloths that she sews her self. Mercury is a bald headed almost 18 year old 17 year old that wears a tuxedo wherever he goes. Silver is a silver haired young lady at the age of 10 that is in her sophomore year of highschool because she is so smart. Copper is a 8 year old boy that does not go to school because he is a little too mischievous for school so he got expelled from school at the age of 6. For some reason each child thought each of the metals they now have has some sort of superpower, but were they correct?

And here is Lijah's "I Am" region poem about regions of California:
"Elijah B.
I am a dry and sunny valley
I feel the feet of farming men on top of me
I hear the bugs buzzing around in the hot afternoon
I see soil and farmers everywhere
I hear the cows and horses talking to me
I smell sweat from the hard work of the farmers
I dream that everyone loves to come to my territory
I sense that I will not be forgotten 
I see grass and dirt everywhere
I hear streams off in the distance
I feel the rain barely in these sunny days
I understand that I am a farm land 
I am a dry and sunny valley

I am  a cool and cloudy coast
I feel like a fun place for kids 
I hear waves crashing against the sand 
I see cliffs all around
I hear people shouting everywhere
I smell sea animals
I want to live all over the world
I dream that  I am the most popular person in the universe
I see palm trees
I hear sea people talking to me 
I fill the sand on top of me
I understand that I am loved for swimming 
I am a cool and cloudy coast"

Here are Camden's spider research notes:
"They have hairy legs and they lived around 2 million years ago.
Spiders have 2 body parts and are not insectes.
Spiders belong to a group of animals called arachnids.
Scientist have found spiders in amber.
Arachnids belong to a even larger group of Animals called arthropods.
Arthropods have more animals than arachnids."

27 October 2014

Pumpkin Patch & Carving night

Our Little Pumpkins

26 October 2014


Today in one of my classes at church the woman giving the lesson started out the class with a question:  "What do you think of when you think of the heritage you will leave for your family and for future generations of your descendants?"  

That got me thinking. What will I leave for my family after I die?  I automatically thought of things that will last, (since I don't really imagine us leaving any significant financial inheritance for our descendants). 

The first thing that came to my mind was leaving all the genealogy research, family histories, and photos of our family & ancestors that I have collected and preserved copies of.  Genealogy has always been special to me, and I've spent a significant amount of time researching my ancestors over the years. And now as my mom and I have been trying to get together each week (now that the boys are all at school during the day), and we are working to find our Bohemian ancestors now that their records are available online on the Czech archive websites, and working hard to translate their records and follow all the clues we can find to learn more about our ancestral families, I assume we will have years of work left to do on these family lines.  And it's so sweet to have the opportunity to do temple work for these ancestors that we've done so much work to research.  I feel that the genealogy work I do, and my love for my family and learning our family history, are things that I can pass down to my children and descendants. 

As much as I love genealogy and as important as I feel it is, that is not the most important inheritance I want to leave to my children. 

I would like my heritage to be raising children who love to spend time together as a family, who learn responsibility and honesty, who learn to be hard workers, who love to read the scriptures and to read for pleasure, who want to attend church and church activities, who like to serve others, and try to show kindness and be good friends.  I want to raise children who love spending time in nature, who will want to go to the temple regularly, and who will try hard to accomplish the tasks they try to do throughout their lives. I realize that once our children get older they will make their own choices, but I hope that  they will choose to go to college and work hard to graduate, since I found that finishing college was a good experience for me, and a very good example for my family.  And I hope my boys will choose to serve missions for our church when they are older. 

And most importantly, I hope to raise boys who will eventually grow up and each choose to be married to a good woman in the temple, to have families of their own, to spend quality time with their families, and to teach them the gospel and continue to make church and the temple a priority in their lives. I hope to have many years when Michael and I can visit with our grown boys and their families and have good relationships with them too. 

That's what is most important to me. 

(And considering this, and writing it down, has also been a good thing for me to do. Because I just realized that so many of the little things I may worry about on a day to day basis are not things that are most important to me in the long run. So this is a good reminder to me not to spend too much time worrying about little things -- as long as we are doing out best, the little things in life will work themselves out -- but also not to spend too much time focusing on the trivial things in life, and make sure to make time for these things that are most important). 

23 October 2014

Happy Birthday Isaac!

Isaac is 7 today!