...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cub Scouting and shrinking t-shirts

Last week Josh and I each spent a day at cub scout camp with the boys from our ward.  I got to go to Camp Tracey with the boys and other leaders on Friday and Josh spent Saturday at the camp.

Because of car issues we were assigned to spend time with the Webelos even though Parker (our very own cub scout) was at the Wolf camp.  That's just how things work out sometimes.

Still, we were glad to be able to share time with these sweet boys from our ward and watch them learn new skills and try new things.

Leather working...

Being adorable...

 The scout leaders wanted to get matching T-shirts for all the boys, but sadly when they got to the scout shop they found that the store no longer sells kid sized shirts.  So they punted (like any good leader would do) and bought the shirts that were available...which were all x-large so they pretty much drowned our boys (see above boating picture). 

The boys were super good sports about it and everyone was thrilled to have cool shirts even if they were a bit big. 

I wish I would have thought of it sooner, but the day before Parker was set to wear his dress, I mean T-shirt, I decided to try to do something about it.

I had washed and dried the shirt a couple of times in the hottest temps I had, but that actually didn't do too much to help.  So, I laid out the big yellow top and then laid one of Parker's normal T-shirts over that.  I made sure the graphic on the scout shirt fit entirely underneath the smaller shirt so it wouldn't be cut off. 

like this
Then I traced a chalk outline around the smaller shirt leaving just over an inch of extra fabric for a seam allowance.

Cut around the sides but not at the top so the shoulders stay connected.

I cut the new shape starting at the top of the sleeve, but not cutting across the shoulder/neck side of the big shirt so that the shoulder pieces still held together.

Then I folded the shirt pieces over so that it was inside out, hemmed the bottom so it wouldn't fray, matched the sides together as best I could and then sewed a simple straight stitch up both sides.


A t-shirt that fits much better than it did before so my skinny little wisp of a boy isn't swallowed whole by fabric!

It worked out well and it was really easy.  Like I said, I wish I had thought of that sooner, maybe we could have adjusted some other boy's shirts as well.  Oh well, there's always next time.

P.S. Parker had an absolutely fabulous time at camp and Josh and I had fun with the Webelos too.  I'm grateful for wonderful leaders who make events like these possible for my children.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Fun in the garden

This last week I decided to do another craft with the kids (I know I am not ultra craft mom, but I do try to give my sprites fun projects from time to time), but this one didn't quite work out the way I intended.

For a few weeks we saved cardboard juice containers for this one.  We cleaned them out (no one wants fermented juice smell wafting through the house). 

Anyway, once we had enough for everyone we cut out a front section leaving a little lip at the bottom, filled the bottom with bird seed, then sliced a hole for our "perch" in the form of a Popsicle stick.  Finally, we zip tied them onto our garden fence.  (Also in there somewhere we tried to paint these feeders, but it didn't really work because the waxy cardboard wouldn't hold the paint.  I'm sure I could have sprayed them with acrylic first and then we could have painted them, but we didn't.  Maybe next time.)

We've had lots of avian visitors since then and we are loving that.

As a bonus just because I love you I am also giving you a preview of my pumpkins.  I AdOrE my pumpkins and I am really proud of them.  Josh makes fun of me because I talk to them and baby them, but I don't mind a little teasing.  Come October even he will be glad I mothered my gourds.  They will make fabulous Jack-o-Lanters and maybe even a delicious pie or two.

(If you are super keen you may have sensed a little bit of longing for fall in that last paragraph...oh, fall, how I love thee.) 

The pumpkin vines that are slowly wandering through my entire garden.  I love their spikey tendrils!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We love our pioneers!

Yesterday was Pioneer Day here in the great state of Utah.

It is the day that we celebrate the Mormon pioneers entering our beautifully valley in search of refuge from persecution and pain. 

For homework Bryce had to write a paragraph (in cursive because I still believe in that sort of thing...meanest mom EVER, remember) about the pioneers.  He wrote:

"The twenty-fourth of July is a great day.  It's the day we celebrate the day the pioneers came to the valley that would soon be known as Utah.  I'm greatful (his spelling, but he is great and it was a holiday so I let it slide today) that they did."

Anyway, we invited the extended family over for a barbecue and to share some small fireworks.  We grilled hot dogs and played a fabulous new game we have called "Toss Your Cookies."  It is a great game for kids but it was even more fun with just the grown ups (acting like kids because how can you not when you are playing a game with a title like that).

Anyway, then it was time for the good stuff.

We headed into the yard and started out with sparklers.

Then we graduated to a war with exploding pops.

My brother, Joel, even tried to teach my boys the finer points of creating one gigantic pop by emptying the innards of many small pops into a toilet paper square.  Awesome!

Ellie was not very enamored with the fireworks.  She kept her distance most of the night, but we did catch one brave moment on film.

My amazing sister in law, Jenny, brought glow sticks to share with everyone so we all lit up the night even when we were just sitting around.

This year was pretty big because Bryce got to light the big fireworks for the first time.  We have a family rule that you have to wait until  you are 12 (mostly because I had a really nasty firework incident as a kid so I am paranoid).  He loved it and was really careful (so his mother didn't have a heart attack).  What a wonderful kid.

We had a great evening.

(Except for the part where a ground flower decided to explode and shot a hunk of burning mass at Josh which rolled up his shirt and stuck under his chin.  He has an ugly red burn and a couple of blisters now courtesy of ground flowers "with report."  Watch out for those!)

Thanks to our pioneer forebears for the trials they faces to bring us to our home in the valley of our beautiful mountains...and for giving us a great excuse to spend time with the people we like best with things that explode!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Laundry conquers space (but not the outer kind)

We do a lot of laundry at our house.

There really is no way around it, with eight people living here and all of their messes and clothes and bedding and towels and the like it is nearly impossible to escape a couple of loads a day if we don't want to drown in a deluge of dirty fabrics.

Well, when washing at least two loads of laundry a day one must have a place to stack the freshly cleaned stuff so that it doesn't get trampled or thrown on the floor or whatever.  For me, that means I need a laundry basket for everyone in which I can deposit freshly cleaned and folded items so that they can put them away every Saturday (which is chore day at our house and one weekly chore is putting away laundry). 

The trouble is that my laundry room is just a little bit on the small side, particularly when trying to squish seven (Josh and I can share...aw, for cute) laundry baskets into the tiny space.

Well, this week, Josh solved my problem for me.  We went to the home improvement store and bought parts to make a couple of shelves and now my over cramped laundry room is a bit more spatially sound.  Now instead of cluttering the floor with clothes and tripping over baskets every time I attempt to weave my way to the washing machine I have a place for everything!

I love it!!

(Thanks, honey, you are the best!)

My fancey new shelves for laundry.
My tiny but now a little less cramped than before laundry room.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A little bit of a long story about being brave

This week I had to be brave.  I don't particularly enjoy being brave (does anyone?) but here's how it went down.

Our ward is in the boundaries of the newly organized Utah Salt Lake City West mission so we have been asked to participate in a "month of perfection" project.  No, this doesn't mean we think we will be able to be absolutely perfect for a month (I find it impossible to manage five minutes of perfection, let alone a full 30 days), the idea is that we have a perfect record for visiting members this month.  We are working to visit every single home of every single member on our ward records and remind them that they are loved and also to invite those who don't regularly attend church to come back and meet with us because we miss them and need them.

We were also asked to try to find out why these members don't want to come to church (is it a doctrinal issue, were they offended, do they have health issues that keep them away).  We were supposed to see if their struggles were something we (as a ward) could help resolve so that we could help them come back to church and feel more loved and accepted and needed as part of the ward.

So, aside from the sisters that I regularly visit teach each month (sisters that I happen to ADORE!) I was asked to stop by five additional homes.  These are homes of sisters who don't choose to come to church so honestly I wasn't really sure how they would respond to my visit and I was pretty much terrified.

You have to know that I am a hermit at heart.  I could happily stay tucked into my little hole and only come up for air on occasion.  I am intensely shy, although I am also intensely stubborn so I do force myself out of my comfort zone when I need to because I don't want to let the shy side of me take over. 

Anyway, I called one of my two best friends in the ward and asked her to do visits with me.  I knew she wouldn't think less of me if I made a fool of myself which was highly likely.  She is always supportive and agreed to come even though she is just as shy as I am.

I prayed every day (like over and over every day) that I would know the right things to say and that I wouldn't hurt any one's feelings or cause more offense.  I went to the temple with the other sisters of the relief society presidency and hoped I could carry a piece of the spirit of that beautiful place with me to further help me through this.  I really wanted to let the sisters on my list know that they were loved and that we sincerely wanted them back.

So, the day came, I picked up my friend, Tara, and we headed out.  I had spent more than an hour at home that day going over how to word things with my husband (who always knows just what to say and isn't afraid to talk to strangers).  I hoped I would be able to handle this without falling apart.

At the first house no one answered the door.  I was equal parts relieved and disappointed because while that meant I didn't have to face my fear right this second it meant I had to come back another time and try again.  The next house we found the missionaries teaching a lesson on the front porch and opted not to interrupt that.

At the third house the front gate had a padlock on it, but there was a side door so we decided to try that.  A cute lady answered the door.  We introduced ourselves and told her from the relief society in the ward.  We told her how grateful we were to have her as a member of our ward.  We said our ward wasn't really complete without all of its members and that we missed having her at church and activities.  She said she wasn't really interested in attending.  I said I was sorry to hear that and asked if something had happened that had caused her to feel that way, was there anything we could do to to help fix it?  She explained that she had been offended by something that happened with the church and emphasized that there was nothing we could do to help resolve it.  I apologized, but told her I hoped she would still think about coming back to church, that we missed her, but that we would love her and always be available for her and her family no matter what.  We wished her a good evening and headed back to the car.

That's when I was extremely glad I had Tara there.  I was a wreck because I tend to momentarily fall to pieces behind the scenes when I am faced with difficult situations, and for me this had been very difficult.   She pulled me back together and we went to the remaining two homes, but no one was home at either of them.

I have since talked to all but one of the sisters on the list and it was easier after the first time (don't try to tell me that wasn't a blessing from heaven).  I do sincerely feel love for these ladies and will continue to pray for them and hope they feel God's love for them as well.

But here's the point.  We all have things we are terrified of doing.  Talking to people, particularly people I don't really know, may just top my list.  However, I feel very blessed that I have a Father in Heaven who asks me to do hard things.   He helps me through them when I ask for help, but doesn't entirely take away the sting of fear because that gives me the chance to grow.  It isn't always (or ever) fun in the moment, but I know it helps me become a better person (and boy do I need that).

Being brave doesn't mean not being scared, it means doing the right thing anyway even though you are scared.  You can be scared and be brave at the same time.  I know I need a healthy serving of bravery, but honestly, I wouldn't be too sad if I didn't need to swallow it any time soon.  I know I have a long way to go, but I like the person God is helping me to become. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Reading

Ok, we've previously established that I am a mom who likes to keep her kids busy with positive projects and challenges. 

So since school is finally out for the summer (we finished the end of June) my children have fallen prey to my summer tutoring program.  This includes a couple of things. 

First off, before anyone is allowed to play video games in the afternoon (I've told you before, no TV or games before 2:00 pm -- and then their time is limited -- so my poor, deprived offspring have to be creative and spend time outside and swimming and reading and stuff like that) he or she must first complete a sheet of homework.  Over the years I've tried lots of workbooks, but Summer Bridge Activities are my favorite...I have even been able to find lots of them at our local second hand store for $1 or less if I watch that section. 

The point (for me) is to keep their little minds all fresh and flowing even when they aren't in an organized classroom.  Plus these homework pages tend to challenge them to think creatively (like yesterday, Bryce's sheet asked him to write about slavery from the point of view of a slave owner, a slave and then express his own feelings about the topic...FABULOUS!).

Round two of summer torture, I mean tutoring is a reading program.  This is my favorite.

While I was at All-A-Dollar I found these sets of cute classroom tags.  They came in sets of 30 so I bought five varieties.  I put them in a bag with a couple of markers and some scotch tape. 

Now, whenever one of the kids finishes a book said child chooses a tag, writes the title of the book on it, signs his or her name and then tapes it onto the wall of our side entryway.  The goal is to completely fill the wall before school starts in the fall (which shouldn't be too hard).  We do put a limit on the number of books Ellie and Logan can have read to them a day so that the older kids don't sit down and read them a thousand books and fill the wall in a day.  The older kids have to read chapter books to count and Bryce's books have to be at least 200 pages to count, but other than that they can read whatever they want.

At first the kids were not thrilled with this idea because they didn't think they could do it, but as the days have gone by and they see how quickly the wall is beginning to fill (we started Sunday so we're making good progress) they have found their second wind and are devouring books at an alarming rate.  Mission accomplished.

Once the wall is full we will have some sort of prize.  Maybe a dinner out or a trip to Raging Waters or something, I'm not sure what yet.  The way they are going I may have to buy more tags and start having them fill every tiny gap so they don't finish too soon.  What a wonderful problem to have!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Just the two of us

Last week Josh and I had the chance to do something we have NEVER done before...

we left all the children behind and headed on a trip, just the two of us!

I have never been away from my kids for more than a night or two at a time and usually that has been for girls camp or youth conference so it doesn't really count as a vacation.

So when my amazing mom (she really is incredible) offered to let us use some of their time share points for an exotic (ok, not really) getaway we jumped at the chance.  Not only did she volunteer her time share points, she also volunteered to take our kids for the week (which is no small feat).  Josh's parents were willing to watch the kids a couple of the days as well so we knew no one would end up dead, and that sounded good enough for us.

We booked a condo in St. George, packed up our stuff and headed on our very own personal adventure.

On the drive to very southern Utah we passed fires that were still burning in the mountains.
The kids would have loved to see that...but they were busy elsewhere and as much as we adore them we also adored their temporary absence.

Josh had come straight home from three days at youth conference (a pioneer trek in Wyoming) so he was exhausted during the drive.  We had a it of trouble finding the place (there is construction in St. George at the moment so a bunch of the roads we needed were closed or demolished which made things interesting).  After a call to my dad and some last minute instructions we managed to find the Villas at Southgate. 

smooshed cockroach
We walked up to our condo just after midnight and were greeted by two cockroaches and a toad on our doorstep.  Josh smashed the cockroaches and I caught the toad (which was adorable, but I let it go).  We entered our room to find this...

Yup, the seventies up and deserted their place in history to instead come and reside at a condo in St. George.  We were not impressed, but it was late and we were tired so we decided to complain about it in the morning.  I did a quick scan to check for signs of inside roaches (there were none the whole week which was a huge relief) and we went to bed.
By morning things looked much better.  Everything was still sevenitesesque, but it was also comfortable and quaint and the kitchen was well equipped (more so than many condos we have stayed in).  The pool area was beautiful (both the adult pool and the family pool...and we NEVER get to go to an adult only pool so we felt special), the ground were immaculate and we decided maybe we could like it here.
We spent our first day just sort of relaxing and getting into the "no children to worry about and manage every moment" mode.  We walked, drove around the city to get a feel for it and just enjoyed the quiet of two people (versus eight).  I spent some time on our balcony reading...

and the enjoyed a beautiful sunset out there as well.

Early in the week we went to the local strip mall to try to find a prize to take home to our children...but we came home very soon because Josh got sick.  He spent the rest of the day just like this.  Poor guy, he was pretty misearble and nothing I did seemed to help.  He just needed to be able to rest.

I felt really bad for him, but then I felt bad for me too because it is no fun to be on a vacation for two when it suddenly morphs into a vacation for one.  Sooooo, I wandered the nearby neighborhood which after a mini hike to the top of the development offered a very nice view of the city.

I hung out on the comfy retro couch and watched some tv (shows that included zero cartoon characters and even the occasional swear word which my children would never stand for).

(Cactus covered in cockroaches....just kidding, they are bits of
rock and leaves and stuff.)
I wandered around the grounds of the resort and tried to climb a really huge tree (only to find that I am not nearly as limber or nimble as I used to be and I bet I was pretty entertaining to watch if you happened to be looking out your window at that moment).  I did not make it into the tree, so I sat under it which was not nearly as good, but it was better than nothing.

Also I read a book and cooked dinner for the two of us (did I mention that while shopping we accidentally bought WAAAY too much food because we only know how to shop for eight people, not two).

Thankfully, Josh soon felt better (I hate it when he is sick, poor guy) so we were able to have a great rest of our trip.

We spent one day in Zion National Park and LOOOOVED it.  There are few activities that I love more than hiking.  I wish we would have hiked to Angel's Landing (my field guide listed that as a very strenuous hike and I wasn't sure how out of shape these thirty somethings were so we didn't do it only to find out from friends later that it really isn't all that bad).

Instead we hiked to the Emerald Pools and we had a great time there.  It was beautiful.

Not an emerald pool, but still nice.

Me on a rock by the highest of the three pools.

While we were there we found ponds stuffed with tadpoles in varying stages of transformation into frogs and we found another toad (a much larger one that was trying to camoflage itself into the crook of a boulder) and that made the think of my kidlets and how much fun they would have had there.  So I missed them for a minute. 

We wandered the canyon s'more and then headed back to the condo.

On the drive back I made Josh pull over and stop at this little beauty.  What a wonderful thing.  I wanted to add my shoes to its tendrils, but Josh frowned at me and I didn't really have any more shoes to replace them so I didn't.  Sad.  Josh was not nearly as impressed with this shoe tree as I was.  Sometimes he can be too practical for his own good.

We visited the St. George temple and spent a few hours there doing temple work (what a great thing to do on vacation).

We also went to Cedar City to watch Les Miserables at the Shakespearean festival one night an another night we drove back to have dinner with some good friends (it was great to see the Nielsens again).

We spent a couple afternoons meandering through antique and consignment shops and met the cutest little guy at one of them (if you are ever in St. George you should stop at his place, Annie's Vintage Garden on 7 north main street).  We found all kinds of treasures and came home with a couple inexpensive ones.

We swam in the pools, saw "Brave," took walks, took drives, chatted with locals, chatted with other visitors, explored the town square, found a Nielsen's Frozen Custard (which Josh grew up loving in Bountiful and I have learned to appreciate) and just had an amazing time together, just the two of us.

All too soon it was time to pack up and head for home (although, to be honest, we were excited to see our kids and sleep in our own bed again).

We packed up our stuff, kissed the place good bye and hit the road.  Together.  Just like always.

 We had a great time together and I strongly recommend doing something like this if you haven't already (we've been married nearly 13 years and this is our first so I think maybe we are a little slow).  It was wonderful and difficult to come home.  I love being around my sweethearts but I didn't really miss their fighting and messes.  However, I'm not sure I could have gone much longer without tucking them in at night and kissing their scrapes all better.

More than anything else it was incredible to spend an entire week with my best friend.  It was so much fun to goof off together and snuggle on the couch together and hold hands while we walked everywhere.  Josh is my perfect match.  He is such a blessing in my life and it was wonderful to be able to be reminded all the little things that I adore about him that sometimes melt into the gaps of everyday life.  I think I'll keep him around for a good long time...like maybe forever.

Anyway, two thumbs up for our St. George vacation.  I hope we can do this again sometime.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Party like a rock star...

Meet the youngest DeMoux children.

They may turn out to be rock stars someday.

Only time will tell.

(Feel free to pull out your lighter and wave it high as you watch my kidlets cover the Phineas and Ferb theme song.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Just look at that potty...

Well, it's official


Yup, we have successfully taught six children how to not pee on seats and benches and have convinced them that it is a fabulous idea to deposit their soggy offerings in the bathroom instead.

To be completely honest I feel like the heavens smiled down on us because Ellie was just about our easiest child to potty train (p.s. I HATE potty training). She kind of forced me into the whole deal because if it had been up to me we wouldn't have started yet, but she has been fabulous. She has had very few accidents and it has been a dream come true.

The Potty Time™ Potty Watch® - Green
Some friends of ours dropped this baby off just a few days after we had started potty training. The potty watch can be set to sing a song every 30, 60 or 90 minutes to remind your little potty trainee to consider a trip to the privy. We LOOOOVE this thing. Ellie thinks she is awesome and it really does help her remember to go to the bathroom. (As a side note, the kids misplaced it one evening -- we take it off Ellie for bedtime so she doesn't wake up every 30 minutes all night long -- and we spent the next day hurrying into the living room every half hour to listen for the song and try to find the watch. After 4-5 attempts -- the thing only sings for a few seconds so you have to be quick -- we did finally find it hiding in my piano music. I didn't think to look there.)

So we can officially check "potty training the two year old" off the DeMoux family to do list.


(Now it's on the next challenge.)

Also, here is a favorite potty song at our house (I think it's hilarious and each of the kids have loved it in their time...I think it sounds a little bit creepy, but, hey, whatever works).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Season 2

Well, it's round two of Aubrey's performance life for the year.  She is a member of Miss Margene's Creative Generations Musical Theater and she loves it.  It has been such a good thing for her and Miss Margene is amazing.  That lady adores her "little angels" (as she calls her students) and goes out of her way to teach them not only song and dance but life skills and kindness.  She is the kind of woman I am grateful to have as an influence in my daughter's life.

Anyway, this past week started our summer round of performances and Aubrey was excited to get going.  The group strutted their stuff in the West Fest parade here in West Valley City, Utah (a parade that meanders its way through the city ending at a local carnival). 

During the parade the kids just happened to run into Senator Orrin Hatch and had the chance to do a mini-private performance for him and then get pictures taken together. Margene pointed out that most likely (love him or hate him) this was likely the most influential man (in our country) that most of these kids would ever meet.  I'm glad she helped the kids take a moment to ponder the importance of our government and our leaders. 

Once the kids had trekked to the carnival stage they swapped their tennis shoes for their dance slippers and put on their show.

Here are some pieces.

(The yonger kids were playing backgroung "trumpets" by
plugging their noses and "aaahing" along...it was pretty much adoreable.)

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