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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Work From Home

On Monday, Ben came home from work early and worked from home for the rest of the day. He rarely works from home (a few times a year at most) and we love having him here.

He set up his work laptop on the kitchen table and Lexi quickly found the toy laptop and sat down next to him to do her work, too.

She sat down and started "typing" away. An urgent email to send off, I'm sure.

The reason Ben came home early was to oversee the labor of our dog having pups.

Having pups is like Christmas at our house- the kids are so excited for the first few days and beg constantly to go out and see the pups and hold them. Leah loves to be front row to puppy watch.

They are so cute when they are tiny.

Holding pups- a family affair!

Leah is positively obsessed with the pups. She would crawl right in the box with them and stay the night if we let her.

She needed no prompting to kiss the puppy, over and over.

Lexi, when asked to smile for the camera.

More kisses

Daisy had a big litter again- 10 pups in all, but 4 were still born for unknown reasons. It was very sad, but we are glad the 6 we have are healthy and are getting plenty of love from 4 little munchkins. It's a great experience for our family, as the kids are a big part of taking care of the pups. They feed them (when they are old enough for solid food), play with them, help clean up after the messes they make and help take care of Daisy. Here's to another season of raising pups in the Andros house!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Piano Lessons

Last week I signed Chloe up for piano lessons. This summer, she showed a big interest in playing and would sit down numerous times a day and play around on the keys. She was very interested in playing actual songs like "Mary had a little lamb" and "Twinkle, Twinkle little star" and would ask me to show her what notes to play to make that song. She soon had "Mary had a little lamb" memorized (and would play it loudly over, and over and over and over...)

With this new found interest, I decided now was the perfect time to sign her up for lessons, which she was absolutely thrilled about.

We found our teacher through a recommendation from a friend. One of the things that enticed me about this teacher was that she comes to your home to teach lessons, if you want to do early morning lessons before school. I originally thought this would be perfect for us, as all my kids are early risers, especially Chloe, so we would be up and going anyway. Another big perk- I wouldn't have to load all my kids up in the car to get her to her lessons. But after talking about it with Ben, we thought having lessons in our home might be distracting for Chloe with all the kids running around and being noisy. I would hate for Chloe's lesson to be overrun with loud siblings and ruin her special time. We opted for taking lessons at the teacher's house where it is quiet and distraction free, and I think going to someone's house teaches extra respect for the teacher and something special just for Chloe, away from home. (Although if we tire of taking her back and forth once a week, I'm sure we can always switch to having it our home and keeping the kids away from the piano for a half hour won't be hard).

Yesterday was her first lesson, and I dropped the younger kids off at a friend's house so I could go with her and get to know the teacher a little bit and see her teaching style in action.

Chloe sat right down with no hesitation and answered every question and did everything she was asked. The teacher was very sweet, patient and positive. She is fantastic with kids and so upbeat. Chloe kept saying "oops" in an apologetic way every time she made a mistake, and her teacher praised even her mistakes and calmly told her it takes time to get everything right and that she is just learning. I walked away being very impressed and feeling very excited about Chloe's future in piano.

Chloe came home from her lesson and immediately sat down and practiced her new songs for about 15 minutes.

She learned which fingers go on which keys today and she payed very careful attention to her finger work during each song.

This morning, as soon as the babies were awake, Chloe practiced again. She practiced so long that I had to insist that she stop to eat breakfast and get ready for school. Let's hope her desire to practice lasts.

video

Here is her first song she learned to play called "Recess," appropriately titled for one of her favorite activities at school.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tickets

For the past two weeks, we have really crammed a lot of events that require tickets into the last bit of summer. Lucky for us, most of the tickets have been half price or on sale (and in one case FREE). Can't beat a good deal on a fun activity.

Our first ticketed event was the Les Miserables play we went to at the end of August (see here). That was the FREE event.


On September 1, the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus came to town. We went 2 years ago and loved it, so we decided to get tickets and go again (half price!) I would have to say that the show 2 years ago was better, but this one was still amazing and we had a great time. Notice our random seats? We are way up at the top on folding chairs behind a rail. We decided to go last minute (like 5 hours before the show started) and this was the only seats together that they had left. It actually worked out great for us- there was plenty of open room behind us for the babies to run around when they got restless.

Leah loved sitting on Chloe's lap and really got into it.

Chloe was also impressed with some of the amazing acrobatic events and animal tricks.

Lexi, by the end, was exhausted. The show started and ended way past their bedtime and her short nap that day did not adequately prepare her for this.

The next day Ben's sister and her family came into town and the day after their arrival, September 3, we headed to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. (Discounted tickets for Pierce County residents, which we are).

We were quite the attraction ourselves- 2 sets of twins in a group of 7 kids six and under. We saw a number of other sets of twins that day and had many people comment to us that "It must be twin day!"

Lexi and Henry loved feeling the shark teeth in the aquarium.

A group shot- amazing that we got everyone together and standing somewhat still, even for 10 seconds. Two 2 year olds and two 1 year olds makes for some hard pictures.

Mitchell could not wait to see the Polar Bears (or Holar Bears as he pronounced it) and asked every 5 minutes if we could go see them. They were one of the last animals we saw that day. When we finally saw them, they weren't doing anything exciting and I think it was a bit of a let down for Mitch. Oh well- we got our picture taken in front of this Polar Bear painting.

The whole gang, minus Ben's sister Meredith who was taking the picture.

This was Meredith and Dave's first time visiting us since their honeymoon 6 years ago (first visit with kids) and we couldn't let them come see us without introducing them to our favorite restaurant "Zoopa's."

3 days after the Taylor family left, my parents came into town. We got tickets to the Puyallup fair, naturally. This is our 5th year in a row going with my mom and dad and it has become tradition and we love it. (Half price tickets on Groupon for these and the kids were all free.) 5 years ago we had just Chloe. Packing 4 kids around the fair now (instead of just one) is a bit trickier but still lots of fun.

Monday September 12 we headed off to the fair!
Gotta milk the cow!

This was Mitchell's first time milking the fake cow at the fair and he was a natural.

We always get the free milk samples by the cow barn, and always get ice cream, too. This year they had strawberry for sale and it was yummy!

The day we went, there was a special on ride tickets. We let the big kids ride a few rides and they loved it.

Can you see Mitchell's face here? He and Chloe were in the front row of this roller coaster. He squealed with delight on each and every ride. Totally worth the money to see that.

The next night, September 13, we kept with tradition and bought tickets to a Mariner game. We have been going to a Mariner game with my parents each year dating all the way back to 2004. We may have missed a year, maybe two, but not many. And my parents often plan their visits around when our family's favorite baseball team is in town- the New York Yankees. I always root for the Mariners, unless the Yankees are in town. And they were in town this night!

You can't see it (it was a cool day), but Mitch has on a Yankee shirt and a Mariner hat, Chloe a Mariner shirt and a Yankee hat, and my parents both with Yankee shirts.

Yankee shirt for me, Mariner hat for Ben.


Before the game, Ben tried his hand at throwing a baseball to clock how fast he can throw. He was sure that he could throw it faster than before and kept wanting to go back and try it again.

So in all the years we've gone to a game, this was the most historical game we've ever attended. In the second inning, Robinson Cano from the Yanks got up to bat and hit a home run into right center field. We were sitting 4 rows from the center field row, but the ball dropped right between the right field bleachers and the center field bleachers to where no one could get the ball. The grounds keepers snatched the ball up and then began looking around for someone to give it to. Lucky for us, we were the only family with kids in our section (attendance was shockingly low that night, and probably all season with the Mariner's record, and it was a school night), so Mitchell was picked out of the crowd to receive the home run ball.

Here is the Mariner's worker handing Mitchell the ball.

So... if anyone is a baseball fan, you know how rare it is to get the home run ball. Rare is an understatement. Lots of baseball games don't even have a home run hit in the game, and if one is, it can be hit to numerous places in the park where hundreds of eager fans are waiting to catch it.

Mitch didn't quite understand what was going on, but boy were all of us excited. No no, we were ecstatic. Getting the home run ball is a true baseball lover's dream come true. We were all living that dream that night. We didn't catch it live off the hit (which would be amazing) but being picked from a crowd is really awesome, too. Go Mitch! A Mariner's worker gave us a little card that authorizes that we got the home run ball, writing the date on the card and who hit it. It couldn't have worked out better that it was hit by a Yankee too- our luck was so great! While Derek Jeter is my all time favorite Yankee, Cano is my little sister's second favorite player. She was in tears when she heard that Mitchell got his ball. (I think I would have been in tears had we got Jeter's ball).

We love sitting in center field. It's close to the Mariner Moose Den, and we went and visited him later in the game. Mitch is obsessed with him, as is shown in this picture. Instead of looking at the camera, he couldn't take his eyes of the Moose.

Papa, Mitch and me with the famous ball! Mitch kept asking to hold his baseball periodically throughout the game, but we were very hesitant because Mitchell loves to throw things and we were nervous that he would throw it back out on the field. He did NOT understand the significance of the ball by any means. To him it was just another ball.

To say that my dad is a die hard fan would be an understatement. He has followed the Yankees religiously for 40+ years. And by follow I mean he watches every Yankee game that is aired on TV, and if it isn't aired on TV, he listens to the game on the radio. He plans his schedule around when they play so he can be home to listen and/or watch. If the Yankees were in the World Series growing up, it was a sacred holiday in our home. If they lose important games, he is bummed for days or weeks. He yells at the TV screen and cheers loudly, just as if he were at the game in person. He knows every rule about the game, knows stats on every player who ever played for the Yanks, and can recall the major and historic years of Yankee history.

In the above picture, my dad is sitting at Safeco Field watching the game AND listening to the radio broadcast of the game on his phone. This night, the Yankees famous closer, Mariano Rivera, (number 42), was ready to make some history. The current Major League record for saves is 601. Rivera had 599 going into that game. Dad was listening on the radio to hear what was being said about Rivera, as there was no mention of it at the game that night as the Yanks were the visiting team.


Here is Rivera, trotting out to the pitchers mound from the bullpen in the 8th inning.

At the mound, ready to go.


It was a close game that came right down to the wire, but the Yanks held on to win 3-2 (ending the game with throwing out our favorite Mariner, Ichiro who was trying to steal second) and Rivera picked up his 60oth historic save. Only one man has more- Trevor Hoffman's career record of 601- which since that game, Rivera has gone on to beat with 602 career saves and is now the all time leader in saves. Amazing! Above, all the Yanks rushed out to the pitcher's mound to celebrate their win and this milestone.

It was an awesome game and we were so lucky to be there to get a Yankee home run ball on a historic Yankee night. Goooo Yankees! (And Mariners, just not tonight!)

(The twins were home with a babysitter- our two older kids have all gone to games as babies, but two babies at once has proven to make some events unbearable, so we were more than happy to leave them home. Sleeping in their beds at home instead of being tortured to stay awake until 11:30 p.m. made them happy too, I'm sure.)

Our next ticketed event came this last Saturday, September 17. This past Spring, Ben found a great deal on Groupon (we love Groupon!) for a 90 minute horseback trail ride at a local stable. We have both ridden horses before, but not for years and years and the activity sounded too fun to pass up for the good deal that it was.

Ben rode "Rosie"

I was with "Roader"

We had the host quickly brief us on controlling the reins, and then it all came back like riding a bicycle.

The 90 minutes took us out in "country" land (if you can call any land in Auburn "country")

And then wound us through some forested area, which was beautiful. We also ended up on city sidewalks for a few minutes, with cars passing by. It was such a fun time.

The only thing that could have been better was if we could have ridden side by side each other so we could have talked more. We were asked to stay in a single file line, as the horses follow each other. It was fun to go back to my Idahoan/country roots for a few hours!

Most of our ticketed events were family affairs, but a few of them we got sitters for. On Saturday, we were lucky enough to get our favorite local Grandma to watch the kids while Ben and I went horseback riding. Grandma Cynde is an amazing person and a close family friend. She is always more than willing to help out with the kids when she can (at church and at home) and we love and appreciate her! Thank you Cynde!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back To School

We have all been anticipating the start of school this year. Chloe has been bored now for weeks (which means she follows me around all day long) and Mitch is excited for his first year of preschool.

We started off the Back To School madness with our school's "Open House" night last week.


We ate a pizza dinner before heading off to the open classroom portion of the night.

Chloe quickly found her desk, which was front and center. We had a whole checklist of things to do.


After she was done organizing her desk and supplies, she sat down in her new desk.

And by front and center, this is what I mean- her desk is touching the teacher's desk and she is smack dab in the middle. It will be good for her!

We then found her locker (I didn't get a locker until 7th grade!) and all the kids had fun opening it and closing it.

We quickly snagged a picture with Chloe's teacher, Mrs. Torres-Pintos. She seems to have a fun personality and is very outgoing.

Finally, the first day came! We thought it might never come. Chloe was up at her usual 6:00 and was dressed and ready in minutes. While I was in the shower, she even got the babies up and fed them breakfast.

A group shot before we walked to school. It was a beautiful morning and it was fun to walk.

We got another group shot just outside her classroom. She was not hesitant to leave me at all.

In she goes. I was so excited for her. She loves school and Chloe is the kind of person that needs to have something to look forward to every day. And having a schedule and something planned out for 7 hours straight is right up her alley. She loves knowing what the plan is. School provides all of that and she loves it. Instead of being emotional, I was purely happy for her.
One more quick picture. I kept sneaking peaks of her- she was ready for school and I was ready for her to be at school again, but there is something about dropping off your first baby and leaving her all day.

The rest of us headed home and made some yummy zucchini bars. The kids licked the bowls. The babies kept begging for more "cake." We had such a fun morning. It is new to not have Chloe around at all, and it was fun to give the other kids some attention.

In the afternoon, it was time to take Mitch to his first day of preschool. He had a hard time waiting all morning to go. At one point this morning he said "Mom, I cannot wait anymore to go to school."

His cool "Cars" backpack.

Up the steps into school. That's my baby boy.

This is the same preschool Chloe went to for 2 years, so Mitch knows his way around. He hung up his backpack quickly and knew just what to do.

His teacher showed him where to put his school box.

Miss Cindy is the BEST preschool teacher. We love her.

Mitchell wasted no time finding his good buddy Jacob and they started playing with the toys immediately.

He had no hesitation about staying there without me. He was sweet and gave each of the girls a goodbye hug.

And kiss.

On the way home from dropping him off, I turned around to see my two babies holding hands. They have been doing this a lot lately when they are in the car. I can't help but think how sweet it will be when the two of them get to go off to school together. They will get to do most everything together. I'm just glad it won't be for a few more years. I still need some babies.

It's just me with these two sweet girls 2 times a week for 2.5 hours. And they should nap for most of that time. Can anyone say "Free time for mom?" Ahhh...

Everyone's first days went was a success. Besides a small mix up on where I was meeting Chloe after school, it was a great day. Mitchell was very excited to show me the cut out he made of himself at preschool. He kept showing it to all of us saying "It has hair and clothes... it's Mitchell Benjamin!"