17 July 2011

A Long Bike Ride, Once a Month Cooking, and the Hill Cumorah Pageant

We’ve been enjoying the summer lately – especially since it’s been an unusually dry summer, which means more days to play out in the sun (and lots more watering the garden than we usually have to do).

On Monday morning we went to our weekly story time at the library and then the boys got to pick out prizes for the summer reading program – Kolby got a little ‘beanie baby’ stuffed cat, which he calls “Kitty” and which he has not been separated from since he got it. Kitty has since accompanied him on all car rides, to the grocery store, to the farm, and even to the Hill Cumorah Pageant in Palmyra. On Monday we had our big grocery shopping day for my first time trying ‘Once a Month Cooking.’ We went and did a big shopping trip at BJs (like Costco), and then a second big trip to Wegmans (the local grocery store here). Luckily for me, we go to the Wegmans in Penfield, and they have a play place where the kids can go for up to an hour while parents shop. The boys love it – sometimes asking if they can go play at Wegmans when we’ve already been grocery shopping recently. They have a little climbing area, some toys, games, and coloring. That made it a lot easier for me at the second store of the day. That evening Michael helped our friend, Melissa Baxter, move too. Then after our family night lesson, we went to 7-11 because I guess it was national convenience store day, so everyone could get a free slurpee – and the boys definitely enjoyed that.

On Tuesday morning we went to Potter Park for a Moms Club for a little while, then we went over to Fellows Road Park where the kids played while Kristin, Janalyn, Megan, and I all chatted and did our visiting teaching. After lunch we drove out to the farm to pick up our CSA fruits and vegetables. It has been nice to get a variety of fresh fruits and veggies each week this summer, although the amount of food probably hasn’t been enough to really make it worth the cost for our family, at least so far (I know that the rainy spring has made it a bit tough for the farmers this year, so who knows how much that has effected their harvests). Then Michael had a meeting after work that night.

Wednesday was my big cooking day. I planned it out on a day when we didn’t have anything else going on (except piano lessons in the afternoon and t-ball practice in the evening). I started the morning by showering, and giving Lijah and Isaac a bath. Camden made lunches while I did the dishes, so I’d have the kitchen nice and clean before getting started. And I let the boys know that I would be cooking all day, so they’d need to think of fun things to do while I was doing that. They worked on doing their reading for the summer reading program at the library, played in the back yard, and colored, and they did quite well for having me spend so much time in the kitchen. I started cooking around 10am, and didn’t take breaks besides the occasional disciplining or things like diaper changes and taking the little boys up for their naps. It took me 7 hours total to cook, get everything put away, and clean up. When I was done, I had prepared 23 main dishes. So, it’s really nice not to have to worry about what to prepare for dinner for the next few weeks. 7 hours is a long time to cook, though – my feet were really sore from standing in the kitchen that long. But I should get faster with practice, I suppose. The enchiladas I made turned out really good, so that recipe is a keeper. I made homemade macaroni and cheese, and we haven’t tried it yet so I’m not sure, but I’m thinking that one might not make the list again just because it took a really long time to prepare (especially for something so basic like macaroni). So, we’ll see. But I think I’ll keep trying it out, at least for a few more months, and maybe long term. I took pictures too, but I’ll have to get those up another time.

On Thursday we ran a couple errands then went to the ‘ABC Preschool Club’ at Long Acres Farm, a farm about 15 minutes from our house. Every Thursday morning they have this time where they talk about a different letter of the alphabet and something that has to do with a farm (so last week was J for jam, and this week was K for kitten – and they talked about all different baby farm animals). They played a little game, read a story, and did a craft. Then the boys got to play on the cool wooden play structures – built like a train and a large pirate ship – way cool! They love those. I think it’s our new favorite farm, and we will probably start going there for our pumpkins in October. I’ve even thought about how much fun we’d have trying out a corn maze this fall, although the quite likely possibility of one or more of our boys actually getting lost in a full sized corn maze for more than just a few minutes makes me wonder if we should wait until they’re a little older or more able to stick together while running through a maze. But there is a platform where you can get up and see the entire maze, so maybe that would make it so you couldn’t get lost for too long in there. I don’t know, we’ll see. That evening Michael went to Palmyra to help with security for the pageant, so it was rather quiet around here after the boys went to bed.

On Friday we didn’t have any plans for the daytime, so we decided to go on a bike ride. This ended up being our first official bike ride (like, more than just on the streets around our neighborhood) with the three oldest boys riding their own bikes. We started out by getting the tires pumped up on the bike trailer, and getting that hooked up to my bike. Then, after getting everyone all sunscreened, we headed to the elementary school. I didn’t know how well Lijah would do on a longer ride, since he’s still getting the hang of starting and stopping on his own without the training wheels and can get a little frustrated with that sometimes, but he did great. Sometimes he would fall off, but always got right back up. And Camden still has his training wheels on, but he was doing great too. We rode around the school building three times for some good practice before we decided to go to Fellows Road Park. We made quite the little train: Kolby, Lijah, and Camden, followed by my bike pulling Isaac and Courtland in the trailer, with Brax’s leash attached to my handlebars. We ended up at the park, played on the playground, had lunch, and played in a giant sprinkler that was spraying out by the baseball fields before playing on the playground some more. Then we headed back home a different way, riding through a neighborhood near the park. Camden was riding in front of me when his right training wheel broke and fell off his bike, but he didn’t notice and he just kept going along with only one training wheel. I picked up the pieces and followed along beside him. Later on, he noticed it was missing and got pretty nervous about continuing with only one training wheel, but I convinced him that he could do it, and I was pretty proud of him – his bike tipped over a few times, but he did great and rode the whole way home. He was so excited to tell Daddy all about riding with just one training wheel. (Maybe this’ll give him a little more confidence that he can ride without the other one too). So, we spent several hours on our bike ride – including the riding and the time at the park. I just looked it up on Google maps, and our ride was 4.3 miles long (plus the three laps around the school). That’s a pretty decent ride for little kids who’ve never gone more than around the neighborhood or school parking lot. And I’m looking forward to being able to do this kind of thing more and more when they get older. I’d really like to go ride with them on the nice flat trails along the canal, except for the fear of one of them accidentally riding off the edge into the water. :)

So, Friday night we went to the Pageant again, and we met some friends of Michael’s from work. He invited a medical student that has rotated through his office, and she ended up bringing 4 other friends from med school too, which was fun. We enjoyed going again – the boys just love it, and we were sitting close enough to see the actors’ mouth moving, which is pretty cool too.

Yesterday morning Mary Hollahan offered to come over and watch the boys for us while we went to the temple together, which was so nice of her. And the boys loved it! On our way home we stopped and got a couple of little sprinkler attachments for the hose so that the boys could run through the sprinklers (and hopefully that’ll be enough to help out so our grass doesn’t turn totally yellow if the dry summer continues). So we did lunch, ran through the sprinklers and watered the vegetable garden, then we went on a short hike not far from the house before returning home to grill up some dinner in the back yard – seriously, I wish it was summer all year round, how fun!

Today Kolby was asked to sing in sacrament meeting at church in front of the entire congregation with about 6 other kids. He did great, and it was pretty cute to watch. Then I substitute taught Isaac’s primary class for the third week in a row (it’s probably good that I’ve just been substituting and I’m not his permanent teacher, because he’s not quite as calm in class when I’m there. But he was really excited about me teaching his class, and it went pretty well. Kolby also gave a talk about faith in primary, which Michael said went well, and he commented that Kolby sure is getting grown up.

So, this week Kolby has a day camp. We never do things like this, but I happened to win a drawing for a free week of camp (that would have cost $250 if we hadn’t won it). It’s a creative arts camp, so he gets to do all sorts of stuff: singing, crafts, dance, art, drama, and even making organic pasta. I think he’ll really enjoy it. And this week I'm also going to start getting all the clothes together for the boys' pictures that we're having taken in a few weeks.  I try to get a picture of all the boys together and an individual shot of each boy once a year, and it's that time again.  So I'm trying to find coordinating shirts for all of them, and I think I'm going to do some haircuts.  Kolby's hair is really cute a little longer, and Camden's hair is curly again now that it's not too short, but I think I prefer Lijah's hair short and a little spiky (he has that cowlick right in front, which makes longer hair always look like something of a comb-over on him), and I think I'll cut Isaac's and Courtlands' short again too, because they're both cute that way.  So that should keep me busy this week too.  Oh, and I’m also looking forward to our upcoming weekend, because Michael and I have some fun dates that we’ve been planning for a while.

Well, this afternoon the boys had blueberry pancakes for lunch, leftover from this morning’s fun breakfast that Michael got up early to make for everyone – pancakes, sausage, and hash browns. It was quite yummy. After lunch the younger boys had a nap while Kolby and Lijah helped me make chocolate chip zucchini bread. We made 6 loaves, and shredded enough zucchini for another batch of 6 loaves next time. And now Michael is trying out Google+ with his family. It’s like Skype, so you can do the webcam with family or friends, but you can have video conversations with more than one person at a time, and it shows little pictures of all the screens at the bottom, and then whoever is talking the loudest it automatically switches and shows the screen of the person who is talking. It’s way cool. Right now Michael is talking with his parents in Idaho, and Annette is on her computer in a different room at his parents’ house, and Christian and his boys are on from Utah. It’s way cool. Can’t wait to try it out with my family too, and with our friends from med school!


Jaidi Clayton said...

Stephanie, given your post about the once a month cooking, you might be interested in taking a look at my sisters website. She is looking for consultants for her business. It is a group once a month cooking thing. Anyway, here is her website: http://partyinmykitchen.com/ She is just getting it going, but she has been going group once a month cooking for a few years. 20 meals in 4 hours is what she has it down too. But she also does some of the prep work the day before. Anyway, just thought you might be interested. BTW, how is residency going? You guys almost done...5 years left here, but we are halfway done with training...Orthopedics stinks! :) Jaidi Clayton

Jennie and Dalin Nelson said...

wow sounds like you guys are having so much fun!!!!!!! i love biking too and I want to get a bike and a trailer as well. Im proud of your boys for going so far:) way to go!! and way to go camden for sticking through it with only 1 training wheel!!! we miss you guys and cannot wait to see you guys again someday:)