July was a pretty low-key month for us. On our way back from Idaho, we stopped for the night in Tri-Cities to break up the long trip. We had made previous arrangements to leave Mitchell there for a week or so to have special alone time with Nana and Papa.
Ben had a had time saying goodbye to his little man.
Throughout the week, Ben's parents would text us pictures of their adventures. McDonald's with Papa- a dream come true!
Mitch did lots of swimming while he was there! He came home with a very sunburned face and raw little nose from all of his time in the sun!
Swimming with cousins is even more fun!
Mitch got to meet his new, soon-to-be cousins while he was there. Uncle Nick's fiancé and her two beautiful little girls, Avery and Halle, came into town for a few days. Mitch and Avery are the same age!
Papa with Mitch and Avery
Off to church!
Mitch has two boy cousins his age that live in Tri-Cities. He had lots of cousin time and loved it!
They wore Mitch out so much that one morning he slept until 8:30. If you know our family, we think our kids have died in their sleep if they sleep past 7:00. He out slept everyone in the house, which included 4 other little boys.
He was still pretty out of it when he woke up!
Taking a cruise in Papa's Corvette!
He had such a great week (10 days, actually)! Thanks Nana and Papa for having him!
I walked into the kitchen one day to find a trail of goldfish from the kitchen to the laundry room. Leah had set that up, Hansel and Gretel style, and Livy was taking the bait.
We bought a plastic pool in Idaho and brought it home with us. The kids were so excited to set it up the day after we got home.
The girls played in it every day for the first week or so. They loved it.
Unfortuatenly, our back patio is sloped an extreme amount. After the first week, the pool had slumped over and wasn't able to hold it's own on such a big slope. Ben pulled out his engineer brain and jimmy rigged a wooden ramp to try and even out the slope. It helped somewhat, but still wasn't as good as a natural flat surface.
It is impossible to get chores done when this little girl is awake. She loves to unload dirty dishes while I try to load them and will try and eat or crawl through a pile of swept up crumbs.
We've had a gorgeous, very warm (for Seattle) summer. July had many high 80's, low 90 degree days. Leah insisted on wearing her long sleeved, winter pi's to bed one night. Don't call CPS...
Everyone loves to play fun games with Livy. This rocking horse made for one is constantly being adapted to fit multiple kids.
With the pool out back, the big kids go in and out of our back door a lot. Livy spent a lot of time standing by that back door, waiting for someone to come back and entertain her.
July was swim lesson time for us! I couldn't get all the kids at the same time, so we did a 9:00 and a 9:30 session. That left an hour for me to wrestle and wrangle this busy little body who wanted nothing more than to crawl over the bleachers and fall on her head.
Mitch missed the first two days of lessons being in Tri-Cities. (He got in TONS of swim time while he was there, so we didn't worry too much about that). His first morning home, Livy snuggled right up to him. It was good to have the brother back!
An hour is a lot of time to kill in a place that isn't baby safe. I had to get creative. Here we are taking selfies (photo bomb Chloe!)
My two twinners, ready for lessons! Leah is taller, but not as much as this photo shows.
They were super cute little swimmers, but little rascals when it wasn't their turn. I heard their teacher get after them to stay still and on the wall multiple times.
Mitchell worked really hard, but is not a very finesse swimmer.
Chloe worked so, so hard this year. She didn't pass last year and I talked to her each day before and after lessons about ways to push herself harder and get better. And she did it! I was so proud of her.
Chloe, far right, doing the back stroke!
She passed this year, with flying colors! Go Chloe! The 3 younger kids did NOT pass... bummer. I have 4 kids who are obsessed with the water, but aren't the best swimmers.
Lessons were fun, but Livy and I were glad to be done chasing each other and to get back to a normal nap schedule. Our lessons made her morning nap get pushed back more than an hour, which was brutal!
I'm pretty sure she could read this sign... and tried doing the exact opposite.
Ben went out of town twice in a 3 week period- two 1 week trips. It's much easier to have him gone in the summer when we have no sporting practices or games and school work and activities to deal with, but having him gone is never fun.
One evening, these three pooled all their money together in hopes of buying a new set of ninja turtle weapons. Mitch already has 2 other sets of the four turtles and they wanted another one to give them all a set to play with. Bless Leah's heart- she contributed 80% of the cash. Lexi chipped a chunk, and Mitch, ironically, couldn't find his wallet and only had a dollar and some loose change to contribute.
I took them to Wal-mart one evening and they found just what they were looking for- Leonardo's sword. They were all so excited.
Leah promptly came home and found many uses for this sword. She stuck it down her shirt to act as a sword holder. This is her best ninja face. I love this girl's imagination! (Anyone watch Walking Dead? This girl is a carbon copy of Michone).
Sharing this new toy between 3 people (mostly Mitch and Leah were the most interested) led to some fights and tears. Leah even used the toy inappropriately and damaged something of mine, so it was taken away for a week or so. But I did love their creativity in combining money and buying something together.
July 19th was Ben's brother Nick's wedding day! Ben was out of town and the wedding was in Utah and we weren't able to make it. We were so, so sad to miss this wonderful event. They were sealed in the Mt. Timpanogis temple. They have such a beautiful family. We are so glad to have Chelsea and her sweet girls in our family!
While Ben was gone, the kids and I made a day trip up to see our good friends, the Fletcher's. They have kids all of my kids' ages (plus an older one)- it's perfect! We love getting together with them and still haven't forgiven them for moving away. (Ok, 30 minutes isn't that far, but we don't see them nearly as often as we'd like).
One day, the kids decided, for whatever reason, to stick soggy cereal in its bowl, with the spoon inside, in the freezer to see what would happen. They snuck my phone and even took a picture of it.
They were thrilled with their creations. Their mother was not. Even after telling them not to do it anymore, I opened the freezer multiple times that day to find one or two bowls with frozen creations inside.
Miss Livy decided to start crawling up the stairs in July. The big kids were so excited about that and sat and cheered her on each step of the way!
When Ben was back in town for a few days, we put him to work with a project. Mitch has had the bunk bed in his room since we bought it. Is is no longer sleeping in his room- Olivia is and he's in the guest room. The bunk bed was taking up a lot of space for no one using it, so we decided to move it into the twins' room and let them start sleeping on it. We left the bottom bunk bed (which is detachable and on its own frame) in Olivia's room, since we plan on Mitch sleeping in with her sometime in the near future. For the bottom bed, we just used one of the twins' toddler beds underneath, for now. Yes, they are almost 5 and still using toddler beds. But they still fit into them, so why not?
They are so excited about this! Up until this week, they traded off sleeping on top and bottom every night. So every night they had to move their pillow, blanket and stuffed animals to the bed they were sleeping on. There has been a few nights where one of them tried to sleep on top again, even though it wasn't their turn. (The top is the coveted place).
Livy also got a new bed. With the bunk bed being in her room, there wasn't enough room for her full sized crib (which Leah was actually using as a toddler bed). With the bunk bed out, we set up her big girl crib and moved her out of the co-sleeper/pack and play she had been in. The first nap time I put her in the crib, she could tell something was very different and cried and didn't sleep well. But after that it was smooth sailing. She loves all the extra room!
I found her like this one night. I love pictures of sleeping babies, especially in cute positions.
One of Chloe and Olivia's favorite things to do this summer was wagon rides. It's hard for Olivia to be outside with everyone since she doesn't walk yet. Crawling around on hot, dirty pavement isn't really a good option, so we'd stick her in the wagon and Chloe loved pulling her around our street.
Olivia loved it too. She was even content to just sit in the stroller and watch the kids play around her.
One of the highlights of July was going frogging one evening for Family Home Evening. We go down to a nearby pond and Ben uses his fishing pole to catch some big' ol frogs. The kids think it is a blast (and their mother thinks it's disgusting)!
These two are obsessed with the frogs, especially Leah. Here they are kissing them after getting them back home.
The next morning, Leah checked on her frog, which was still swimming in the pool. The other frogs escaped after the first day, but Leah's little amphibian buddy held strong for almost a week. I'd go outside to find her carrying him around like a baby doll. So gross! The kids finally decided to set him free towards the end of the week.
Between business trips for Ben, we decided to do something fun together as a family. A few months ago we bought a Groupon for bowling. The last time we bowled with kids was probably when Chloe was a baby, so it was a new experience for everyone.
The balls were much too heavy for Leah and Lexi, so Ben taught them how to roll it between their legs.
And thank goodness for the bumper pads, or none of the kids would have knocked down a single pin.
This sweet girl was a trooper. Our Groupon was for 2 hours of bowling and she lasted the first hour in her stroller, very happy.
The last hour she definitely wanted to explore and we had to keep a close eye on her.
At the end of July, we watched some kids for some friends while they were away for the evening. For about 7 hours, we had 11 kids 11 and under. 11 kids is no joke, but it helps that they are well behaved, wonderful kids. We had dinner out on the front lawn.
After wearing them out outside, we put on a movie while we waited for their parents. We filled up every seat on the couch!
And on the last day of the month, Livy decided to become an independent stander! She has been pulling herself up to stand on furniture and cruising around for quite some time, but this day at the park, with Mitch holding grapes over her head, she went from a sitting to a standing position all on her own.