Friday, October 31, 2008

It was definitely a Happy HALLOWEEN

It all started with Garth carving the pumpkins solo. Actually it started with Ashton and Tate looking on for a few short minutes but like the older kids, they were too excited to get to our block party (we should totally carve before the big day next year).
We have an annual Ashby Oak Street Block party each Halloween. We love that the kids actually eat something besides candy before they head out and eat...CANDY. Here are most of the kids looking festive and anxiously awaiting the sun to set. You will see Ashton on the left eating (skeleton) and Tate on the right (skeleton in front of Kelly the grape). Ethan is goofing off on the left, right behind Ashton. Sommer is in the back with the black cape on. And to see Calvin...keep scrolling!
Sommer and her pet...

Garth and I showing our spirit. I scared way too many kids so luckily the mask wasn't on too long. But Garth did stay in his costume all night and received glowing reviews..."udderly" fantastic, among others (he said his hat was too scratchy and his udders a bit too revealing).

The best costume of the night was Calvin as Senator McCain and his friend (JAKE! yes a boy) as Sarah Palin. People thought there was a new girl on the street. They campaigned all night long (I think as I write this, Garth is out looking for them somewhere in our neighborhood...its 9:30). The Republican Party owe these boys BIG TIME!

We had perfect weather, lots of my favorite candy (Reese's, Swedish Fish and Hershey's), and plenty of super friend interaction!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Sneak Peak...

I know, I know, Halloween won't be here until tomorrow. But I wanted to give you a teaser of what you just might be able to see come Friday night on our street....Garth dressed up like a cow. He looks pleased doesn't he?! The only thing missing is his sign that will read, "Eat more Chicken!"

Stay tuned for more costume thrills such as, the Wicked Red Riding Hood, John McCain or Hillary Clinton (he keeps changing his mind), a super scary motorcycling zombie, and keeping with tradition, two young skeletons. The mother isn't sure yet what she wants to be...maybe in hiding.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fabulous at FORTY

When I grow up to be forty (which will happen in a few short years), I want to look this fabulous! Dear Dana brought it in with a bang (and some bling) as we all celebrated with her on her big day. I have known this lovely lady for 14 years. And she is just that, lovely, inside and out. Thank you for being a great friend!

Here are some of Dana's friends that love, love, LOVE her too(there are many more but some were unable to come). HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU DANA!

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Today we took the children to the "older folks" home in our neighborhood. We did this last year during the Halloween week and enjoyed visiting with them so much. This year we headed out again, with the Johnson's and Turner's, with kids all decked out in their Halloween costumes.

It was touching to see my older boys hearts aching for these dear individuals who at this time are in need of constant care. Ethan whispered to me after visiting with an older gentleman who was bedridden and legs swollen, "I feel weak Mom. But happy."

The simple October Song that we sang, had some residents tapping their feet or even singing along. As we made our way down each hallway, weakened individuals raised their heads and asked us to please come in and sing. Others who were in the hallway in wheelchairs followed us along our way. We even recognized a few from last year.

I love the scripture from the Book of Mormon, from the righteous King Benjamin, as he spoke to his people, that reads, "And Behold, I tell you these things, that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God."

What a perfect day.

Mr. Skeleton Dinner

Thanks Mandi for the greatest idea...Mr. Skeleton! My kids went crazy for the bone bread sticks and spaghetti intestines! A total hit and perfect for this week's Halloween fun.

A Totally Fun Playdate

Ethan had the time of his life at his friend's house on Saturday. Not only did Bryson's mom amaze with her skills as a make-up artist, she allowed the boys to create an awesome spookhouse in the basement. Ethan loved his creepy make-up so much, he kept it on all day.
Eating a snack while in character.
Acting out his role as the crossed eye Zombie.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Family Fun on the Farm

It is a family tradition to head on down to Cox Farm each October. Now that are kids are getting older (and we dislike the Saturday crowds), we have to take them out of school for our trip to happen! The kids love this extra treat of course...getting out of school early. Garth and I commented today how nice it was to not have need for a stroller, baby bjorn, diaper bag and other cumbersum items. Each child was able to hike up the hills on their own for each slide while Garth and I snuggled together to watch and cheer them on. Life is good!

In this picture, I asked the kids to take a "cool" pose.
Here is our second hayride per Ethan, Tate and Ashton's request. Calvin and Sommer asked if they could go "off" by themselves and have some big kid time.

They spotted this tractor and just had to climb onboard.

In the maze we came across this poor fellow's smashed hand. The kids loved this "fake" hand and all of the other surprises behind the doors!

I never knew goat's pupils were rectangle. Freaky. But what about Ethan's big spooky eyes?!

Cox Farms added the hayride party room a few years ago and we all love it. The only downside is the theme song that once heard remains stuck for weeks in one's mind.

This was a painted picture on one of the maze walls. I told Garth to go around and put his eyes up to the painting. Can you see his eyes peering at you?

Another new feature to the pumpkin farm is this dinosaur with a slide. I thought it was so funny when Garth climbed up the ladder and stood up so tall upon entering the dinosaur.

The kids love this slide that shoots out of the barn. Surprisingly, you get some pretty good speed on this one. While Garth and I were waiting for the kids to come down, we noticed that each adult that had a child with them on their lap always felt the need to say, "Whee!" The adults I guess need to get the message across a bit more for the kids that, "This ride is really fun. I need to say Whee!"

Heather or Garth?

I was just trying to see who Sommer looks more like: Mom or Dad? I can tell you one thing for sure, her personality is spot on with Garth's. Not only is she brilliant like her dad, she is calm, laid back and gentle.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

As a Child

I had to post this thought from Hilary's website. I absolutely loved it.

As a Child

Have you ever wondered what you were like as a child? (Maybe you have spent your adulthood trying to make-up for what you were like!) Odds are we all have vague memories of moments from our childhood. But wouldn’t it be fun to see a glimpse, maybe a whole day or a week and really know what we were like.

I’m sure our parents have told us things that summarize our young personalities. “You were always so sweet,” or “You were a daddy’s girl,” or “You never did like people telling you what to do…”

It is strange that we remember so little from when we were little.

Last year about this time, I went on a “date” with my daughter Calli. She was eight at the time. We went to the dollar store and then to Chili’s for dinner. It was so fun to sit and chat at our table for two. We looked over the menus. Calli ordered macaroni and cheese. We talked about all kinds of things. I asked her about school and friends. At one point she started telling me about recess. Calli explained that during recess they played a chasing game. I’ll never forget listening to her giggle through a mouth full of mac n’ cheese as she talked about the fun they had. And at that moment, it occurred to me…

I get to see her as a child. Through the span of eternity, as we are together forever, I will know her as an adult. But, in these few, precious years of mortality, I get to know her as a child. I get to see what she likes to eat, what makes her happy, what makes her sad. I get to listen to what she says. Watch what she likes to play. Help when her homework is hard or classmates aren’t nice.

In his last General Conference address, Elder Ballard said, “…the joy of motherhood comes in moments.”

This realization was certainly one of those joyful moments for me. Since then I have found myself soaking in, taking in more of the moments – watching a little more as my daughters experience life. During dinner, I have caught myself slowing down and just watching them eat. I’ve stopped and observed them playing when they didn’t know I was watching.

As the years pass, I’m sure the memories of these moments will become fuzzy, less vivid. But I’ll know they happened.

So next time you think of it, take a moment and treasure the children in your life. Perhaps you will see things you hadn’t noticed before. Savor the joyful moments that you have the privilege of knowing them…as a child.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Play by Play at the Dentist

I went to Dr. Kimberly Olsen today for a filling. I give her a thumbs up. I am not really someone who gets anxious at the dentist since my cousin always took care of me or Garth's dad (both dentists). But I will tell you what, if you want to feel relaxed, she is for you. I loved how she explained everything as she went along. She would frequently ask me if I was doing okay and warned me when something was going to taste bad, pull a little, give me pressure or make a noise. Sweet as can be. I really loved how she remembered me from my cleaning a few weeks ago and even mentioned meeting my sweet hubby Garth last week. My standards have been set unfairly high with my past dentists, but Dr. Olsen, you were right up there! Thanks!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Warning Others

I don't make speeding a priority but sometimes I might find myself going a bit fast every once in a while. We have this little cut through street that the local Haymarket police like to camp out on to try and "get" innocent folks that aren't "bad" people. I think it is simply people that are zoned out rocking to a good song or something that unknowingly tap the gas a bit heavy.

I love when in my "zoned" stage and singing a bit too carefree, that a loving, oncoming car, flashes their lights, warning me of what's ahead...a cop (I love saying cop)! I snap out of my personal concert and check my speed...I usually hit the brakes just in case (okay, I always have to hit my brakes...come on, the speed limit is only 25 mph, impossible speed to maintain). As I pass the policeman, going 24, I am thankful I was warned...and feel like a good citizen.

Today I passed such a situation and was able to use my lights to warn a few people. They waved in appreciation as I passed. It didn't look like any of them were speeding or even rocking out to Pink, but they had been warned.

Just a random thought...don't go speeding in the first place, okay?! Consider yourself warned!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Be Prepared!

I like to be prepared. I have this fear that something tragic might happen and there will be a mad rush to Costco. Huge lines would be streaming out the door and people would come out telling the latecomers that the essentials were all gone. Pushing and shoving, worry and guilt would then ensue as thoughts such as, "why didn't I just do all of this yesterday, or last week, or even last year when there was no frenzy," would flood all of our minds.

Those of us who have lived in Northern VA long enough know what a predicted snow storm will cause...a mad rush for milk, bread and eggs. Shelves are bare within hours. You cannot find a snow shovel, snow boots for the kids, anything snow related for miles. I hate that panic feeling. Even when I have all of these things already, I feel like I need to get more since everyone else seems to be stock piling.

I have a 72 hour kit for each family member. Problem is the last time I updated it was 3 years ago. Today I decided it was time to go through all of it. I found that all of the food had expired (I need to rotate the blasted food every 6 months but I forget), so we would have starved. Calvin and Ethan had no Ziploc of clothing and Ashton and Tate would have been wearing baby clothes. Garth would have to go naked and I would be blind once my contacts withered away (I have disposable ones). All of the flashlights had been stolen by my kids playing "spy." I will be going to Target and Costco tomorrow for new supplies.

Earlier today I was chatting with my dear friend Maleen. She happens to be her ward's emergency specialist. Her husband works for Senator Bennett on the hill. They know everything politics. As we were chatting about food storage (our church encourages us to have a one year supply of food and 14 day supply of water for each member of our family, as well as 72 hour kits), she mentioned that after the past three presidential elections we have had some sort of terrorist attack. She asked about my water supply. I told her I had 3 huge 60 gallon barrels and some smaller ones as well. She asked me if I had used a garden hose to fill those up. I told her I had a few years ago but I was planning on emptying them this weekend and giving them a fresh batch. She told me that garden hoses can collect mold on the inside thus contaminating the water. I had never heard that before. I ran over to Lowe's today and bought a cheap new hose to use only for water refilling. THIS WILL HAPPEN ON SATURDAY (I am telling myself). I have put it off for 2 years. I think water needs to be rotated as well. What is the point of storing it if 1. The water is undrinkable or 2. You have empty containers with no water.

My storage area in the basement is full of canned food. I am not good at rotating it. I have decided that the cans will remain as is and in the event we are in true need, I will cross my fingers that the wheat, oats, sugar, and whatever other surprises I canned 7 years ago will still be edible.

Next week I am going to stock up on the things I know we eat regularly and can rotate easily. Items such as mac-n-cheese, peanut butter, canned corn, canned beans, pasta sauce, soups, etc will be purchased in larger quantities.

If any of you ever want to talk food storage, let me know. Years ago we had a group that met once a month to share ideas and I loved it. I am not perfect at it, but I know a little something. And I know people that know even more.

Our church has an amazing website if you want to take a look: click here. And our local ward in Gainesville has a great blog: if you want to take a look at we have been doing throughout the year. Each month, we have some great ladies who give us a small goal to tackle in hopes of having it all done within the year.

I love the talk given by our former beloved prophet, Gorden B. Hinckley, "If Ye Are Prepared, Ye Shall Not Fear."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spit Happens

This is the cutest boy ever. He has such an easy going personality. If he gets hurt, he tries to shake it off and says something like, "Ah, I'm okay. Don't worry." He is the clown of the family. He isn't scared of anything (except scary stories that Ethan forces him to watch and then I usually find him in bed with me later on that evening). He is helpful. He rides his scooter for hours every day after school. He is such a great kid.

But if you push him too far...he might spit. And he did just that a few days ago at school. I guess the story goes something like this: Another boy was teasing him in the P.E. line at school. Tate couldn't take it anymore so he simply spit on him. The boy of course wasn't too happy about that so the teacher was summoned. Later Tate is sent home with a note explaining his inappropriate behavior.

Garth and I got a chuckle out of it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This time last year...Garth's Grey Hair

I remember last year when Garth had grey hair (this was part of his old man costume for the play "The Crucible"). He is back to his natural brown this fall. And although he is a handsome man with any color of hair, we prefer to know where Calvin got his "dark" hair (he is our only kid with it).

Facebook...look at this face.

I am kind of digging facebook. I don't do much with it in regards to my own postings. But man I love reconnecting with all of my old BYU buddies and Alaskans. I was pleased today to receive a lovely picture that my friend from High School scanned and sent me via Facebook from like 9 grade (but now that I think about it, I don't know how old I am!). I have some rockin' HUGE specs. So cool in fact, that Sarah Palin's popular style of glasses don't even compare! You had better stock up LensCrafters on these babies!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Love MY Cousins...

I haven't had the opportunity to know many of my relatives very well. I grew up in Alaska and now I live on the east coast. Those extremes, definitely have made it difficult to be around the family! And I am not happy about it.

So lucky me this weekend! My cousin Amy was in VA on business and we were thrilled to have her back for few days. She stayed with us a few months about four years ago when she first moved to the area. We would have taken her in longer, but she was quick to make tons of new friends and was off. Now she is back in Arizona, married to a super guy and as happy as ever. But I still miss her. And there was more family fun too...spending time with our other cousin, Jerri. This is really great because they have recently moved to Northern VA from Utah. Jerri is so much fun and if she is not careful, she might find me hanging around her place all of the time!
Let's do this again soon ladies!

Football Stance

I can always tell which football player is my son by the way he is standing on the sidelines. Hand is on his hip and his left leg is over his right. This boy loves football. He loves sports. He would play every sport if we let him.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Let It Go!

You have to give me props. I did something pretty fab last night for my three little boys. Sommer is on the swim team at the Freedom Center and has practice on Monday and Friday nights (Ethan is too but he just goes on Mondays). The plan for Friday night is usually me taking Sommer and then I swim laps while she practices with her team.

I have noticed that it is family swim on Friday nights. That means the water slide is open (I am foreshadowing here), the whirlpool, and dumping water buckets in the main pool are all there waiting for kids to play.

I decided it was high time to take the little ones with me so they could enjoy a night of swimming fun. Calvin has football practice each Friday he is already a busy man, doing what he loves best. Garth and I had gone back and forth if I should take Ashton with us or he should go with Garth to football. I didn't want him to miss out, so I insisted he join us.

The boys were so excited when they saw the "water park." Laughter and joy rippled along the waters as they splashed and played. UNTIL...the water slide was spotted. Ethan and Tate both bolted up the stairs with huge smiles and big eyes. And then, dear Ashton did too. I run over to him (by this point I am so cold from the water's temperature and who doesn't just love running around the pool deck in a swim suit...ugh!) and try to gently explain (in my sweetest mother voice) that he isn't tall enough to go down the slide (since this is my fifth kid, I have gone through stuff like this with each kid and it breaks me heart). TANTRUM number 1 begins and I understand his pain. I decide to go ahead and let him climb up the stairs to ask the lifeguard if he can go down the slide. Up we go (cringe...swim suit), get answer of "sorry, no." TANTRUM number 2 begins. This one is louder. I have to pull his hands from the bars to get him down. Eyes are on me. People are thinking, "I am so glad that isn't me. Poor Mother. But I wonder how she is going to deal with that child." I am patient as I pry his hands off the bars and carry him back down the stairs. I do my best to explain why he can't go down. We walk over to the "rules" sign and I read all of the pool rules. He wonders why there are so many. I have calmed him. Whew. Back into the pool we go. Ethan and Tate come over and we play in the swirling whirl pool. We are having fun! And then, Ethan and Tate decide it is slide time again. Off they go. Ashton starts to cry again. Loudly. TANTRUM number 3. This cycle goes on throughout the 2 hours we were there. But everyone had fun. Even Ashton. Even me. Tantrums and all.

Fast forward to 2 am this morning. I hear screams from the back room. I quickly jump out of bed to see who is crying. It is Ashton. I gently say in his ear, "What is wrong? Are you having a bad dream?"

"NO!" he cries.

"Do your legs hurt?" I say.

"NO!" he muddles through his screams.

"Then why in the world are you crying!" I am starting to lose it just a bit at this point.

He then says, "Because I want to go down the water slide!!!!"

Oh Brother child, LET IT GO!

Side note: I loved, loved, loved the hot tub...for adults only...and when Sommer came back from swim team, she watched Ashton so I could thaw.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Need To Do This More Often

Having lunch with the kids at school is something I totally need to do more often. Today was Tate's day. As I walked into the school to sign in, I saw his class coming down the hall. His teacher winked at me and said, "Tate has been talking about your lunch date all day." I then saw Tate's eyes light up when we saw me standing there. He then said, "Do you have my McDonald's?" So typical.

He grabbed my hand and we walked to the lunch room. He wanted to eat outside (you can do this when your mom is with you). We went to a little table and ate our tasty (and oh so healthy) lunch. Ethan ran over when he saw us (he was at recess) and drank all of my diet Coke and half of Tate's fries. He then gave me a big hug and asked when it would be his turn.

It was fun to see so many kids from the neighborhood and church waving (have to say...kind of a celebrity was I) at me and saying, "Hi Mrs. Porter!"

I totally need to do this more often!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Holding Hands

I took the kids for a walk on Sunday afternoon. While Sommer, Ethan and Tate raced ahead playing a wondeful make believe game, Ashton and I took up the rear. He asked to hold my hand since he kept "getting tripped by mean sticks" (roots). So there we were in a quiet little forest nestled in a bustling area, holding hands. I thought how quickly children out grow the wonderful stage of hand holding, replacing it quickly with friends and other more "cool" things. But I still have a hand holder who is content walking along, with his Mom, seeing two deer that obviously had been scared off by the kids up ahead on the trail who were playing loudly, talking about simple things in a day where simple isn't so easily recognized. I can't believe his small hands will someday be out grow mine and be strong like his father's. And then he will have the opportunity to hold a small hand and understand the feeling I had when I held his little one.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Our Queen Bee

I have mentioned our sweet neighbor Brittany before in the past, but after spending the day with her at their 3rd Annual "Queen Bee Golf Marathon," for research on her disease (NBIA), I wanted to post again. To see us giving her our love click here.

A Bee?” You ask…you wonder, “Why?”
It’s because the bee wasn’t meant to fly!
Its body is too big for its tiny wings –
But no one told the bee such a silly thing!
So it lifts its body with wings too small
And buzzes on by to show us all
That faith in the One who created you
Is what gives you strength for what you must do.
What is the lesson for you and me?
We must “BEE THE ONE” HE has called us to bee.

Colleen Corrado

I got a little upset today with my kids. Actually I did this more than once. I don't know why I can't be a bit more patient, more grateful for their uniqueness and the amazing people they are becoming. I think about Brittany often and the sacrifices she has made to come to earth. She has a body that is not perfect and will not do the things she asks of it. Yet she is happy. She is joyful. Sommer loves her dearly. And we love her too. My neighbor told me about their next fundraising event and an amazing video that was made on behalf of their family. After my most selfish attitude day, I was humbled beyond words. You will be touched by this amazing family too: Click The Leaps the view.

Friday, October 3, 2008

We Get Chase

We get Chase Merrill! Michelle and Jason are going on a little anniversary trip to New York City (and David Letterman too)! We are lucky enough to have Chase stay with us while they are off enjoying some kid free time...AHHH!

Tate and Ashton are so excited. Chase will be sleeping with them in their room. They already have stories planned for bedtime and special toys picked out just for her!

I keep asking Michelle how to care for a one year old...I have totally FORGOTTEN what that entails. My kids are at that stage where I don't have to do much except provide "snacks." Do your kids do that? Mine come in, ask for a snack. I then say, dinner is ready. They look utterly disappointed. So they reluctantly eat the dinner. Then they ask for the previously requested snack. This cycle then goes on throughout the day...

We have some fun things planned for our little lady of the house. I will definitely be posting pictures.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Power, Strokes, and Stain (and the snake)

Here is what I did the past two days: After opening the basement door and realizing the stairwell was disgusting...

I call our lovely neighbors who let me borrow their power washer. Before even starting the power washer, I noticed a snake on the basement stairs. Other lovely neighbor to the rescue, who then wrangled the snake and saved my nerves. I began power washing our basement stairwell (and kept looking for more snakes). This is an impossible feat if you want to stay dry. I was soaked from head to toe (with not only water but that green goo). Next I figured I should go ahead and tackle the deck. So off to power washing the deck. The force of the water blasting the weak, old, barely hanging on white paint caused most of it to fly off. Therefore, painting the deck rails was necessary, so off to Lowes for me for painting supplies. After that I figured staining the deck would "seal" the deal.

I feel like I am a squirrel preparing for winter....going "nuts" and all.