Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

Dear Family and Friends,
Where did the year go?! I can’t believe that a new year is already upon us.  With four kids there is never a dull moment! I will cut to the chase and give you the yearly update.

 Jaxen (9) played soccer again this year. He keeps getting better. This year he also joined a LEGO Robotics club. He had group meetings two times a week for the fall semester and then participated in a local competition. He had lots of fun engineering and designing a robot to complete certain tasks. He has also been taking piano lessons and is doing really well. He is in the gifted program at school, works hard and gets very good grades. He is also in boy scouts (bear).

Ember (7) is also playing soccer this year. Being one of the oldest on the team, she is one of the stars! She was able to focus more this year and really work on her skills. Her team did really well. She is also taking piano lessons and doing well. She is doing great in school. She is a monkey bar queen and has some fancy handwork on display when she shows off. She likes anything and everything dog, and is convinced her life would be complete if she had one.

Owen (4) has been going to preschool two days a week for two hours. He has really made great strides this year. We have been working at home on our alphabet and letter sounds. Although slow going at first, he now knows lots of letters and sounds. He can write his name and likes to do “homework” (sometimes). 

Kaysen (2) is shooting up like a weed. His hair is down to his bottom! He loves “roars” (dinosaurs), “heep” (sheep) and “hoos” (horses).  He likes to play puppy with his brothers and sister. He loves to be outdoors and get dirty. He likes to work on letters with his brother and most letters are called “E”. He is also my first artistic child to write on walls. (I thought I had it made!) He also seems to be the only “righty” in the bunch of kids.

Shaunton passed his PE exam! We basked in the light of his achievement for quite a while. He still works at SRP-MIC and enjoys it. This year he trained hard and ran an ultra marathon (31 miles) in September.  It took him 6 hours and 15 minutes, which is pretty awesome for a first time ultra marathon runner. He likes to work out daily and play football, soccer, and basketball in his spare time. He was the assistant coach for Jaxen’s soccer team, so that kept him pretty busy.

In my “spare” time this year I volunteered in Ember’s classroom, worked on quilts, and fell behind in my scrapbooking.  I have a standing appointment with the boys to watch the recycle truck dump our trash on Mondays and the regular trash truck on Thursdays.  I “enjoy” taxiing my children to piano lessons, school, soccer, and play dates. I also facilitated an internet course at ASU. This was a new and exciting experience. I work with the kids ages 3-11 at church, so lesson prep, stress, and organization have all been my friends (and enemies) this year. I was running for a good while there until the weather got cold, and look forward to running again when it isn’t freezing (and pitch scary black) at 5:30 in the morning!

Overall, we have kept busy this year. We went to California over the fall break and the kids enjoyed Disneyland, California Adventures, Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, the beach, and the Natural History Museum in San Diego. Lucky for us, October was apparently the month for kids getting free admission into most of these attractions. (Good accidental planning on our part.) This is a once in three year experience for the kids, so it was nice to get out of the heat and enjoy some cooler weather. 

We hope that 2011 was a good year with much growth and learning opportunities. We look forward to a new year and wish you a safe and prosperous one.
Monique, Shaunton, Jaxen, Ember, Owen and Kaysen

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fall Break Day 6: Museum of Natural History

We forgot to take the camera inside, but we managed to remember to take a picture on the way out!

We got to see some pretty good exhibits.
From their website:

Ends of the Earth: From Polar Bears to Penguins
Discover the unique nature of the Earth’s polar regions, the science undertaken there, and how these regions are indicators of climate change on Earth. Visitors will relive polar expeditions though the eyes of great explorers, learn about the formation and size of icebergs, and conduct experiments. Discover polar bears and penguins and the impact that global warming is having on their icy homes in the Ice Cave Theater.

The kids really like the interactive, play against each other games, that quizzed you on the things you learned about in the exhibit.
All That Glitters
The Splendor and Science of Gems and Minerals

Gems seduce us with their sparkle. But did you know that every glittering ruby, sapphire, diamond, and opal has a history as old as the Earth itself? A gem isn’t just a pretty bauble—it’s a rare and wonderful by-product of the tremendous forces that have shaped our planet. Discover how the same Earth processes that build landscapes produce dazzling gemstones and precious metals—even right here in San Diego County, one of the most famous gem-producing regions in the world. The exhibition features a stunning selection of spectacular natural mineral crystals, exquisite jewelry, and works of art.
This exhibit was amazing. I couldn't believe some of the gems and jewelery they had. Gorgeous!

Fossil Mysteries
From dinosaurs to mastodons, discover the rich fossil history of our region. In this major exhibition, created by the Museum, ponder a mystery, examine the strong fossil evidence from the Museum's collection, and use scientific tools to discover answers. Traveling through a 75-million-year timeline, from the age of dinosaurs to the Ice Ages, experience an unfolding of the prehistory of southern California and Baja California, Mexico.

There was lots of hands on activities in this section. Fossils you could touch, things you could move to make the bones animated. There were lots of simulations of what has happened to the earth since the dinosaur ages. 
Water: A California Story
Through photos, maps, video, and hands-on activities, learn about current, local issues on land and in the ocean. Examine the infrastructure of the regional water system, and discover how we import the majority of our water and the costs associated with this practice. Water: A California Story also looks at effects of a changing climate on our region’s water supply and reveals how southern Californians can help protect water for future generations. Natural history specimens and live animals will serve as reminders that the natural environment and its inhabitants are also legitimate users of water resources. 

A whole exhibit on the importance of conservation. California and Arizona are a lot alike in this respect. It was an interesting exhibit.

We also got to watch some interesting movies. There was a 3D dinosaur one that was neat. Owen wasn't too keen on keeping on the glasses....I think he might have been a little scared. There was an Ocean movie that was neat and another movie that I can't remember. Maybe I will revamp the post when I get the details.
Afterward we headed home. The kids entertained themselves with movies. They are their own traveling exhibit!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fall Break Day 5: California Adventures

I am convinced that my children have more fun at California Adventures than they do in Disneyland. That might be a bit of an exagerration, but there are some really cool attractions in CA Adventures.

We managed to convince the Jaxen and Ember to go on the Tower of Terror. I had never been, seeing as how the last two times we went I was pregnant. It was nice to be able to enjoy the rides. I really like the switch pass feature, which means I can stand in line, go on the ride with a few kids, and then Shaunton can go on with the some kids afterward without waiting. Who ever thought that up is genius (and probably a parent of multiple children!). Anyway, the ride freaked the kids out. I thought it was fun!

We then hit up A Bug's Life. This section is really geared toward kids of all ages. Kaysen could go on all but one ride in this area, if I remember right. He wasn't too happy about it, but Dad took him on another ride while we went on the bumper cars.

Do I have to? (I think Shaun accidentally poked him in the eye!)
 A little nervous to try solo at first, so they went together. Then we had to stand in line again so they could get their own bugs.

Owen had to be accompanied by an adult. So, I was the lucky one! YES!

Our happy family enjoying a Bug's Life ride.

We managed to get a passerby to take our pic in front of a festive setting. Apparently she had taken pics before and had all these tips for good pics! Thanks lady!
The piece de resistance was the Woody 3D ride. We stood in line for that bad boy 3 times. It really is a fun ride, although not long enough. Kaysen enjoyed the ride too...and wasn't ready to leave. Another one of those crying fits!

I don't wanna leave the Woody ride!

My little helper. She wanted to push....even if it was up hill...with two brother in it.

My daughter talked me into going on the swings. I was terrified the whole time. I didn't even want to let my kids go on them. Eek. I don't do heights. There are two rides there that I just can't stomach riding on watching my family ride. It is the swings and the ones that look like rockets. They don't have enough "hold you in" gear for my liking.

I lost my glasses somewhere toward the end of the night. With no sign of them since. (I did get a new pair of prescription sunglasses though! They look nice!)

We ended the night with a lights on the water celebration type thing. It was neat. It had water, lots of color(!) and music. Even some hologram type pictures they could put "on the water".