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Year 2011

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Year 2011 - Page Text Content

S: Stringham's 2011

FC: 2011

1: Teri, 30 Ethan, 9 | Bekah Jo, 5 Calvin, 1 | Cort, 34 Jake, 8

2: Party Game | We started out with two dice, a bowl of m&m's, and plates and straws for everyone. The dice were passed around and each person rolled them in turn. If they got doubles, they got the bowl and had to try extracting as many m&m's with | their straw as they could. Of course, as soon as someone else got doubles, they stole the bowl and started getting some for themselves! | Gavin was definitaly our best "sucker", while poor Brooks and Bekah Jo couldn't get doubles to save their lives! | 8 | Jake turns

3: Dr. Autobot {Jacob Stringham } | {Logan Nutter ) | {Brooks Fitzgerrald } | {Ethan Stringham } | {Bekah Jo Stringham } | {Gavin Fitzgerrald } | {Devon Padgett } | {Avery Lundgren } | Dr. Blue | Dr. Red | Dr. Bluehead | Dr. Decepticon | Dr. Princess | Dr. P.P.P. | Dr. Flower | The Guests | The Guests | We celebrated Jake's 8th birthday on Saturday. He has been very "egg"cited to have some friends over and do some science "egg"speriments with them. Of course the one that he was most eggcited about was the "gatoregg" eggsperiment. That's the one where we empty a bottle of gatoraid, throw in some paper and a match and put a hard boiled egg on top. As the air heats up and the match goes out, it sucks the egg into the bottle. It is a pretty eggciting thing to watch. So much so that for party favors we sent everyone home with a gatoraid bottle, typed up directions, a match, and a hard boiled egg as their party favor. Hope the parents don't want to kill me. I did make a point of telling each of them there was a hard boiled egg in the package, and not to leave it on a shelf in the closet for a week... | So there I was, not only decorating the cake, prepping the other eggsperiments, and cleaning on Saturday morning, but also hard boiling a bunch of eggs. Not just the ten we were going to need to do the eggsperiment at the party and the eight we were going to need for the party favors, but also several extra since they are one of Calvin's favorite breakfast foods and if your boiling 18 you may as well be boiling 28! In fact, we ended up having hard boiled eggs for lunch because I was running out of time to stop and cook something else. Sorry Calvin! In the chaos Bekah Jo was carrying the container of eggs across the room to have their physical state altered by Ethan and the potato masher and she lost her footing and dropped the container. Not only did eggs go everywhere, but so did the dog, wolfing them down as fast as he could! It was eggstremely funny to watch.

4: One day I found Calvin on the table with the box of marshmallow maties poured out around him. He was eating the marshmallows and feeding Shiloh the maties. They are so funny together! And the best news – Shiloh didn’t throw them back up! | When Ethan got his snake for his 8th birthday, Jake wanted to know when he could get a pet. We told him when he turned 8, so for the next year and a half we heard about the dog Jake was going to get. Somewhere along the way he read the book, "Shiloh" and after that he talked about the beagle he was going to get and name Shiloh. Then this year, he turned 8 and so he got himself a beagle and named Shiloh. | This family picture perfectly sums up how I felt after we got the dog - with him baying front and center and everything else receding to the background and blurring. I spent four months of intense effort trying to house train him, but never succeeded. He ate EVERYTHING and then threw it back up (usually on the carpet), and he and Calvin were constantly getting in messes together!!

5: It had been a rough morning. I had gotten in my van to discover that the battery was dead (courtesy of Bekah Jo and Calvin), so we had taken Cort's car to the store. It was raining, which is never fun and by the time I got the groceries purchased and carried into the house, let the dog out of his crate, and carried a sleeping Calvin up to his bed, I was tired. Then as I bent over to put that first bag of groceries away, it's contents were wet. I was somewhat surprised by this because the rain wasn't coming down that hard when we loaded the groceries. I got a towel and dried the can off and put it away. The next can was equally wet and I wondered if maybe Cort's trunk leaks. Have you ever had that feeling, almost like a sixth sense that you are about to make a realization and it isn't going to be good? I got that feeling as I continued to reach in the bag and dry off cans. Then it hit me. This was not rain, it was DOG PEE! | It was a very cold and rainy night in Feb. when I let Shiloh out to go potty and he refused to go. He smelled something under the porch and couldn't leave it alone. After multiple attempts to get him to go potty outside and two accidents inside, I finally decided I needed to scare whatever it was out from under the porch. Imagine my pleasure when I discovered that a cat had climbed under there and DIED! So then I had to get a rake and scrape the cat out from under the porch and throw it away, all while it was freezing and raining! FUN!

6: Mom Turns | 3 | O

7: Determined not to let my 30th birthday go by under-celebrated, I decided to throw myself a birthday party. I wanted to play "Times Up" and invited several friends that I thought would be good at it. I was glad I had done so, because when I looked at Cort's calendar I saw that he had scheduled home teaching for the Saturday before my birthday - at 6pm! He told me we could go get dinner afterwards. Then on Saturday, Cort's companion canceled on him and he asked me to go with him. It was my friend, Arlin, so I was happy to go. I did give Cort a talking too on the way there about scheduling home teaching and lack of overall planning on such a momentous occasion. Of course when we got there and I walked in a surprise party Cort had been planning with Arlin for weeks, I may have had to eat some humble pie! | It ended up really working out well, all the friends that I hadn't invited to the other party were there and we had a great time, eating and laughing and then dishing up the most delicious strawberry shortcake ever. YUM! | Trevor and Cherri Brooks, Nate and Haylee Rogers, Us, and Arlin

8: We had an unexpected snow fall in January. The kids loved it. They were one of the lucky few in town with snow gear. They also enjoyed the break from school.

9: Dear Aunt Kate, Since you kept telling my mom that I look like a little old man, she took these photos for you and played with them in photoshop. Love, Calvin | Calvin

10: We were all sitting around the table at dinner one night and I'm not sure how it got started, but soon everyone was making Monkey Faces, including Calvin! He was so cute making them and everyone else was so cute encouraging him!

11: Calvin's First Monkey Face

12: I bear my testimony that I know that the Holy Ghost lives and the LDS church really lives. Baptism is one of the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel. It is the third. The first principles and ordinances are in the fourth Article of Faith.

13: Jake's Baptism | Feb. 19, 2011

16: the | Girls

19: Kristen, our photographer | the

20: The boys (and Cort) were so excited for the Pinewood Derby. They spent several hours building, sanding, and painting their cars. They even got really cool stickers to put on the cars. We had weighed them carefully at home, but when we got to the derby, the official scale they were using was off and our cars (along with several other people's) weighed too much. The judges held fast to their scales, so poor Cort spent thirty minutes frantically shaving every spare millimeter of wood off those cars until they each weighed exactly 5 oz. It might have been a disaster, but since Ethan took 5th and Jake took 3rd, everything ended up being ok. Cort was so cute helping his boys out. I'm glad the scouts have this derby and the fun it provides fathers and sons together.

21: TREE | The week before Cort deployed to Afghanistan he tweaked his back and spent most of the week laying flat on the floor. But by the day before he left he was feeling better, so we all worked together to hang a swing in the backyard. We had the hardest time getting the rope up in the tree because the first branch we were trying was too high. We tried tying the rope to a rock but it kept slipping out. Then we duct taped it to the rock so it couldn't slip. Then we all took turns trying to throw it over the branch. I was by far the worst shot, but the kids did surprisingly well, especially Bekah Jo! We finally switched branches and got out the 26 foot ladder. It was pretty far up there, and a little scary, but Cort and the boys and I all took a turn up there doing different things to get the swing ready. | s w i n g



24: The previous owners had put in this great planter box and filled it with strawberries and tomatoes, but unfortunately, we don't get enough sun for the fruit to ripen, so I gave it to our friends, Mindy and Bryan. Everyone got to help pull the dirt out so that it could be moved. It ended up it was a really good choice, since it would have had a tree through it a few weeks later if it had stayed (tornado).

25: General | Conference | G-Jo emailed us some packets with conference activities, which the kids enjoyed doing for the Saturday morning session. Later, for the afternoon session we popped popcorn and the kids tried to catch it in their mouths. Shiloh kept hoping the kids would miss... | I am also including an email I sent to Cort after the October Conference: Bekah Jo is lying on one of the family room throw blankets and Jacob is dragging her around the “main-floor-loop”. The blanket is stretching dangerously, and Jacob is obviously straining with the effort. The constant giggling isn’t helping much. For some reason Ethan got the smaller bundle. Not that he’s succeeding any more than Jacob. He has Calvin on the other blanket. Apparently they are racing each other. Ethan would be guaranteed victory if he would just stop long enough for Calvin to properly arrange himself on the blanket. Instead, he just takes off and Calvin is only half on, so he keeps spinning off and getting left behind. Each lap is successively harder because they have picked up more debris along the way, and as it trails behind them, it’s definitely adding drag. Ethan just scooped Calvin up and ran to the finish. Now Bekah Jo is egging for a new race, but the boys are less eager, they were the ones doing all the work. That’s what we’re doing in our post-conference euphoria. Totally spiritual.

26: It's a little funny to do this page because so much has happened since I started it. And so much hasn't... But these are the plants I put in up front, five cala lillies and a gardinia plant. I also pulled out all the old pine mulch and put in dark, large chunk tree mulch. | Spring | This is the peach tree we bought and planted. Jake was sure we would never have to buy another peach... | This is the electric dog fence wire I cute while planting the peach tree. I may have been in tears before Bryan came over and offered to fix it... | We put in a new swing seat, since the last one | left a lasting mark on Calvin's forehead... | Landscaping

28: Hey dad I know what type of car I want you to get , it is a camaro with lights on the bottom. Hi dad I have had a good day. I got a ripstik. It is grey and it's just about my size. Hope you have a good day because I sure have. See ya when you visit. How are you doing in Afghanistan? I'm doing great here. Love, Ethan | Hey bud! I am glad you are having a good time. I can't wait till it is time for me to come home and visit with you guys. I miss you a lot. I work a lot here too. I can't wait for a break where I can play with you guys. What do you think we should do when I get home? So why do you want a camaro with lights on the bottom? What color would it be? Are you enjoying your ripstick? When you say it is just about your size, do you mean it's almost as tall as you? Thanks for emailing me and write me back soon! | 1 Dad ,how are you? Who is winning the war? There is a new type of spider-man called spider-man unlimited. It is awesome! You should see it. Look on Netflix. Well that’s all I can think of right now. So ,see ya. | 2 Hey bud! Thanks for emailing me! It gets lonely sometimes and I like the emails. I can’t wait until I can skype you guys again. They should have wifi up soon. I will tell you who is winning the war bureaucracy. Have mom explain it. So you guys are watching a newer version of Spiderman on Netflix. Sounds cool. How is school? Can you wait for it to be over? What are you going to do will all of your free time? Love ya, Dad | 3 School is going fine except that I can’t go to field-day. I’ve got 3 weeks of school left. And you typed will instead of with. I will probably be playing outside most of the time. | 4 Why can’t you go to field day? | 5 Hey, Dad How are you? I could not go to field day because I am sick. I have a joke for you. What transforms and does math? See you in a couple of months. Oh, yeah I almost forgot I have been watching Speed Racer the cartoons. See, ya From Ethan | 6 I am so sorry you are sick. I hope you feel better. Eat lots of peanut butter. I don’t know what transforms and does math Optimus Prime Megatron Hot Rod Bumblebee RCee I don’t know. Love you, Dad | 7 An addobot. Maybe next year I will be able to have field day. But that day I was sick. Maybe you can come next year. How many jellybeans can you put in an empty one gallon jar? How was the new restaurant that just opened on the moon? See ya next year. Ethan | 8 Joke #1 I have no idea Joke #2 It’s out of this world? Why don’t they let teenagers become astronauts | to:

29: 1 I love you to the moon and I even like to play with you and I like you and I want you to come home right now because you are my favorite dad and I don’t want you to be gone so long. And I want you to come right now because I really, really love you. From: Bekah Jo To: Dad | 2 Hi Bekah Jo, How are you doing. How was field day? Did you have lots of fun? I wish I could come home right now, but I can’t. Tell you what? Once they have the computers fixed here I will skype you so we can see each other. How does that sound? I miss you, too. Any you are my favorite daughter! I love you to the stars and back. Dad | 4 Hi Bekah Jo, Hey. I can’t wait till I can come home and have fun with you too! | 3 Dad it is fun but it will not be fun without you From BEKAH JO | Hello, Dad, How are you doing? I’m doing great. I wish you were here. As you know it’s almost the end of the school year. Calvin has diarrhea. I’ve got a joke for you. It is, “Do you have holes in your under wear?”I have a piano recital tomorrow. There is also Field Day tomorrow. Shiloh is doing great on living here. Answer my joke next time. Ethan couldn’t play at the recital. I’m doing great at Cub Scouts. I still have my three belt loops but soon I will get another belt loop or two. One is video games, which is a brand new one. On field day I will be at the running relay. I wish that mom would be there but she can’t because Calvin has diarrhea. And also five others in my class are going to race me, I think. I know that a couple of them will be Janelle and Donovan. I really love you. Love, Jacob PS. Make sure to write back to me about your answer to the joke. | Holy smokes! You just wrote a mouthful! Ok, here is my answer to your joke Yes I have holes in my underwear. Two for my legs and one for my waist. Now I have a joke for you. Where do fish keep their money? Answer my joke on the next email. K? Good luck on your recital and race. I know you will do great. A belt loop for video games, huh? Do you have to beat level III in Lego Indiana Jones, or maybe beat your dad in Mario Kart Wii? I am glad you are enjoying time with Shiloh, does mom feel the same way? What day is the last day of school? Are you excited about going to Utah? What are you going to do while you are there? I hope you have fun and enjoy spending the 4th of July there. I hear there are great things planned! And make sure you take some pictures for me. And be sure to include Mom in the pictures, she doesn’t get to be in them very often. I miss you guys and wish I was there too. Spring and Summer are always great times of the year to do all kinds of fun things. You will have to tell me about all the things you are doing. Keep working hard in your cub scouts! Love you, Dad | I have a couple of Calvin moments for you. Last night as we were kneeling down for prayers, Wait, I have to interrupt myself. I just heard liquid splashing and went in the kitchen and found that boy in a puddle of milk! I think it was almost half a gallon! What a mess. The best part? He is so unperturbed by it. He was still trying to get the last few drops into his glass. I didn’t want him to think this was ok, so I yelled at him a little bit, telling him he had made a big mess and this was not ok. He just said “k” and drank the five drops in his glass. So I got him a rag towel and told him he needed to clean up. He took it and said, “ok, mom. Clean up”. Still totally unperturbed. He cracks me up. Ok, so prayers. Everyone is kneeling around the ottoman, folding their arms, except Calvin and he comes over and wacks Ethan for no reason. Of course Ethan and Jake start laughing, which doesn’t help. I keep a stern face and tell Calvin that wasn’t nice and he needs to say sorry and give Ethan a kiss. He does, and it is so cute that Jake asks for a kiss too. So Calvin turns to Jake, gives him a big wack on the back, and then gives him a kiss. I confess, I didn’t even keep a straight face that time. Cort replied: I wish I had Calvin Moments. | with

30: Tornado | We had just finished skyping with Chad and Becky and had come in the family room for scripture study last night. I think we got the first verse in before the power went out then back on and the wind started whooshing around the house. It was quite a sound, though it was mostly blocked out by the baying of the beagle. Then everything was shaking and “crack! Ka-boom” and then stillness. Bekah Jo was all shook up and crying and saying there was a tornado. I thought maybe it was hail (yes, in hind sight I look like a moron). Jake said he thought a tree had fallen over. I told them we were going to finish scriptures. I could hear the invisible fence beeping and was so ticked off that there could be another break in the line (hah, the things that I was worried about). After scripture study and prayers I went out to unplug the invisible fence so it would stop beeping and that's when I realized the fridge was also beeping and stuff had fallen out. I still didn’t know what had happened and I was trying to piece it together. Ethan wanted to go out the back garage door, but it wouldn’t open.

31: That’s when I noticed it was no longer hanging straight and that there were cracks in the wall and that the wall wasn’t sitting on the foundation anymore. And then that the water heater was off kilter. It was one exciting discovery after another at that point. | I called my good friend Mindy who lives at the other end of my street and jokingly asked if she wanted any firewood and she told me she would send Bryan (her husband) and Jason (their neighbor) on down. It took them a while to get here because they had to move so much debris out of the road. Bryan had asked me if I needed a tarp or anything, and I told him the hole in the roof was maybe 4 inches in diameter, so I could probably just duct tape a black garbage bag over it and call it good. When he showed up, he called me over and said, "Uh, Teri, you really think a black garbage bag is going to cover that?" He was wearing one of those dorky headlamps and as he tilted his head back the light shone up and revealed a gaping hole in the side of the house. | When the scope of what had happened finally hit me (like a tornado), I gathered the kids up and we went inside and had a prayer of thanks that we were all ok, and that no one was hurt. I think they were all ok until they saw the trampoline. I did assure them that we would buy them a new one, so that calmed them down considerably. It had flipped up onto the patio railing and wrapped around a tree. It was not the only trampoline in the neighborhood to have such a fate. | "Without Cort, your family has no foundation" | -Chad when I called to tell him about the tornado | This hole was about 7 ft x 10 ft.

32: It's funny as I look back, how slowly I figured everything out. I got up at 6:30 the next morning with the kids and we went out to see the damage in daylight. So much worse. Apparently the top half of a tree from the yard behind Dave's (our next door neighbor) got torn off by the tornado, hit a tree in Dave's yard on it's way into the back of our house, where it hung from all the branches protruding through the walls into my garage. | The kids were up by 6:30 this morning. Why can't they ever do that on a school day? It wasn't such a big deal though, since I wanted to get out in the light of day and see what was what. I was still out there with the camera at 7:30 when Bryan showed up, gloves on, tools in hand. That was when I decided not to go to church. I knew tomorrow he would be going back to work and if he was coming to help today, I would stay home and clean with him. I threw some bagels in the toaster and put on my favorite painting jeans.

33: At about 8:30 Ethan's friend Jaiden's family drove up. Jaiden had wanted to check up on us. Micheal, the dad, told me he had a chain saw. I told him I would love to borrow it (Bryan thinks power tools are for wimps :) ). He told me he had an exercise for a couple of hours, but then he would be down. I told him I would really appreciate it. Colie came over and started mulching up all the little stuff all over the lawn with his lawn mower. I was having a hard time keeping track of Calvin, so I drove him down to Mindy and the girls so they could watch him. By the time I got back, Jaiden's whole family was piling out of their truck. Gloves, rakes, hand saws, clippers, and the chainsaw in hand. What's more is that they had put in a couple of phone calls and by nine thirty I had about 20 people in my yard working hard. I didn't even know most of them. They worked all morning and into the afternoon with just a short break for taco soup. | Then on Wednesday the youth showed up to finish the job. They not only hauled leaves and limbs from the tornado, but cleaned out all the dead leaves from last winter. The debris pile was taller than I was and stretched across the entire length of my front yard. I had people sweep my floors, fold my laundry, take down my trampoline, clean off my back patio, recommend roofers and repairmen, wash my dishes and tend my children. It was so amazing. It still took me a week to get out of my neighborhood, and when I drove through the trailer park that was hit hardest, I was brought to tears. Houses were completely leveled. Belongings were strewn everywhere, and in the middle of it all were hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, many in bright yellow "Mormon Helping Hands" shirts. I don't think I will ever look back at this experience as anything but a blessing of out pouring love from the community. I feel blessed to have been so selflessly served. | I joked about the fact that a tree landed right next to Cort's old car but didn't touch it, so Bryan covered it with branches and offered to drop a large tree limb on it for me. Later I discovered that although the rest of the car was untouched, the liscense plate was missing! Bryan found it in someone else's yard a few days later... | I was so embarrassed by how messy my house was that morning that I swept EVERYTHING into the laundry room real quick, including backpacks, papers, clothes, dirt, paper plates...

34: Bekah Jo | SIX | turns | Emily, Paige, Bekah Jo, Hannah, and Brianna (and Calvin)

37: We took our first trip to the beach with the Richards family and Arlin and Brianna. We went to "Hammocks Beach", located on Bear Island, just off the coast of Swansborro, the next town over. It was a perfect day and we had so much fun, building sand castles, eating sack lunches, and playing in waves that Ethan thought were "wicked awesome". Despite ample applications of sunscreen, we all ended up burned that day, and while my little olive skinned children were fine the next morning, I could hardly walk for a week!

38: Aunt Cake | There is always something a bit magical when Aunt Kate is involved in life. We were so excited she flew out to help us drive back to Utah. Of course we had to do a couple of important things here before we left - like go to the beach! Don't worry, she did the mandatory "sleep in the sun" thing and got sufficiently burned! But the fun didn't stop when we got to Utah. We also got to have family night with Aunt Kate at BYU, doing a "Ducky Derby" in the stream on campus. It didn't take the kids long to get IN the stream with the duckies... And Jake's ducky was winning the whole way, so about half way down I asked him if he saw a bird in a tree and when he turned around, Kate grabbed the others' duckies and threw them ahead of Jake's. He turned around and with a look of wonder, laughed, "Whoah, what just happened?" AND THEN, his ducky still won! I think it was weighted... | Onslow Beach

39: After we got done "derbying" our duckies, we wanted to go get some ice-cream, so we went to this new place called "Sub-Zero" and you go in and pick what kind of cream you want and what flavor and any mix-ins. They pour it all in a bowl and slide it down to the end of the counter with nitrogen oxide tanks, and they freeze it while they stir it together. It was so cool. And yummy too! While we were standing in line, this woman walks up to me and gives me a coupon that was about to expire for $8 off, which was also cool!

40: Our first stop in Utah was to spend a week down in St. George with Grandma and Grandpa Grisham. She keeps a cupboard full of toys and the kids enjoyed dragging them all out and building legos, swimming in the pool, and playing with my cousin, Caleb, who spent most of the week with us too. Grandma and I got in some serious hand and foot, keeping our win tallies fairly tied. | Curt and Sharon hosted everyone for a family dinner, and the kids got to see their Great, Great Grandma Padovich. Not many kids can boast that! | We had donuts for breakfast at the park one day, and went another evening to play and catch frogs. St. George has some fabulous parks! | Calvin turned two while we were in St. George. Becky and her mom were watching the kids that | day while G&G and I were at | the temple. When we got back | She had decorated some cup cakes and we ate them in the backyard. I had planned on doing something for him at some point, but never got around to it, so I was grateful to Celia and her hospitality!

42: INCREDIBLE | The first dinosaur tracks at this site were discovered acidentally by Dr. Sheldon Johnson on Feb. 26, 2000, while he was leveling a hill that was about the same height as the museum roof. A large sandstone block fell from his dump truck, landing upside down and revealing the very clear footprints of a dinosaur. He then called in palientologists and the museum site was born.

43: They also had a room with instructions for how to fold oregami, which the kids really enjoyed.

45: We went to see the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum. Mr. Rosenbruch is a local who loves to hunt and always dreamed of having a museum where he could educate people about all these different animal species all over the world. The kids were a little impatient looking at all the different types of antelope and such, but eagerly spent the majority of their time looking at the bug specimens in the insect room. They are getting quite adept at knowing the names of many of the different kinds of butterflies, moths, beatles, spiders, and other creepy crawlies. I had them each stand by their favorite display for a photo, and had to take two or three of each because they couldn't decide on one. My cousin Caleb came with us. Calvin slept through the whole thing, waking up just in time to see the leopard on our way out the door.

46: We spent the fourth of July at Chad and Becky's house. They had blessed baby Emma the day before, so there was still a lot of family in town to celebrate with, ranging from Becky's aunts, uncles, and cousins to mine to grandparents, to my in-laws. We were quite the crowd! We set up cabanas in the back yard with round tables (stolen) from the church. There was beanbag toss, badmiten, watermelon, and burgers. They did a fantastic job hosting the 50 people that came. Grandma Stringham brought Calvin's birthday presents with her, so he got to open those, and G-Jo supplied some great eye-wear. Chad had a great idea to put out a photo of Cort and some paper and took a moment before the prayer to thank the troops past and present and invite everyone to write Cort a little note.

47: Calvin had the flu that day (he had been sick for a couple of days prior) and was the cutest little trooper ever. During the blessing on the food, he walked over to me and puked next to my feet. He never cried. Later, when he threw up again, as soon as he was done, he asked me to get him a rag, then when I mopped it all up, he said, "Thank-you, Mom". He was such a sweetie! This year, Utah lifted their ban on areal fireworks, so Chad (brilliant man that he is) started a collection around his neighborhood (and family members) for a private fireworks show. $1,000 later, he and the other male folk came home with an amazing show. We dragged the chairs over to the park and joined the rest of the neighborhood for an impressive display. There were also plenty of sparklers and glow sticks for the kids. It was absolutely perfect! | OUR HERO

48: Lindon City Pool

49: I think the highlight of our whole trip may have been swimming with | The kids had SO much fun with their cousins on this trip! Kate and Lauren and Abby and I went with them to the Lindon pool on the 4th. Then they spent a couple of days with Bryan, Patti, Keri, and her kids and they stayed up late and got up early and played Mario Cart and watched "Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers" and ate cold cereal, and THEN they went to a water park. That was so fun. The kids didn't stop talking about it for days. I think I have been given a turn-by-turn recap of every slide they went down. They were all sunburned, and couldn't care less. I think it will definitely go down as the highlight of the trip.

50: While all the older kids watched the wild bird show, Calvin and Abby got antsy, so we took them over for a carosel ride, which they enjoyed. | Although we enjoyed elephants, tigers, rhinos, apes, reptiles, birds, and the park while at the zoo, if you ask Bekah Jo what her favorite thing was, she'll tell you it was the cotton candy and ice-cream! | HOGLE ZOO

51: There were animated dinosaurs all over the zoo and Calvin thought most were cool, but he "shied" away from the T-Rex! | Dusty, Chad, and Layne were able to get work off to spend a day at the zoo while we were in town. It was sure nice to have their muscles with all those toddlers to haul around! | The kids all spent some time talking to a zoo volunteer about animal facts. Jake, of course, knew many of them already. The volunteer was impressed and asked Jake if he was going to be a zoo keeper some day. He said no, he's going to be a physicist! | It's hard to tell who's taller, Bekah and Sabrina, or the giraffe and the telephone pole! | My favorite person in this pic? Sabrina.

52: While we were there, Trevor had the hardest time keeping my boys straight, which Bekah thought was really strange, until one day when she was sitting on the couch and she watched Trevor go up to Jake and ask, "Are you Jake?" to which my turkey of a son answered, "No, I'm Ethan". No wonder the poor kid couldn't keep them straight! | Since my parents are on a mission, we stayed with the Smiths this trip, and it was so much fun, I may never stay with my folks again (don't tell them I said that). They were the most amazing hosts ever. They were laid back and really flexible, doing stuff with me when I had time and helping me coordinate as I tried to see all the other family I wanted to see. They even watched a puking Calvin while I went to the temple and hung out with family for two days! Every Thursday Dusty, Lauren and Kate came up and we had a "So You Think You Can Dance" party (we all LOVE that show).

53: Hangin' with the | Smiths | One day, the girls went outside and picked a whole ton of raspberries, then mashed them up into "smoothies" and painted the fence with their leftovers! Good thing everything came clean! | We played in their backyard with bubbles and their huge slip and slide and we went to Ikea and Tai-Pan Trading Co., and we made yummy food and we ate frozen food and we read books during nap time. Layne made scrumptious breakfasts every morning while the kids jumped from the stairs to their giant bean bag every day until there was an injury, then they drug out every toy they own, built with legos, watched a million movies and basically ran a muck while Bekah and I did whatever we wanted! | Layne made time to take the boys fishing, and they each were able to catch a "whopper"!

54: 10 | 10 | 10 | 10 | 10 | 10 | 10 | 10

55: hanging out | Ethan wanted to have a birthday party at the pool with Jaiden and the Fitzgarralds. We played with water guns at the pool, then headed home for pizza, cake, and fresh strawberry gelato. He got a couple of transformers, some legos, a crystal growing kit and a "rip stik" (kind of a skateboard).

56: Grandma drove home with us from Utah, indispensable with her help. When we got home she was an amazing energizer bunny. She helped wash windows, strip wallpaper, paint, set up the trampoline, and make a quilt for Calvin's bed. We got more done in the week and a half she was here than I normally get done in a month, and she's so much fun to be around to boot! One morning while she was here we opened the front door to find a turtle coming up the front walk. Calvin was so cute chasing it down, and that turtle was bookin' it! | Playing | Grandma | with

57: We did take some time off from all that productivity to spend some time at the pool and the beach. We found lots of sharks teeth and the kids hunted for muscles. We also all had fun going deep into the water and enjoying the rise, fall and | crash of the waves!

58: worried about the hurricane. They are big and they knock out power and can cause flooding, but I have a brand new roof and I’m not in a flood zone, and I am fairly prepared for a power outage. I am not going to lie. It was the thought of the tornadoes that accompany hurricanes that made me nervous. We were so lucky to come out of the last one with no human casualties, but what if I stayed and one of my kids died in a tornado? Then my friend, Adrianne Blake, called to say she was going to Raleigh and was going to go to the temple. She then offered to sit with my kids while I went and did a session. That kinda sold me. So I was trying to get all packed so that we could get up really early on Friday and try and beat all the traffic out of here. I was packing suitcases as fast as Bekah Jo and Calvin were unpacking them and climbing in them and zipping each other up. Then Bekah Jo decided she was going to help by filling the cooler with ice, which was great. She and Calvin spent long enough filling the cooler for me to get all the clothes organized and in each suitcase I wanted them in (I was trying to pack in phases, so that if we only ended up staying one night we could just take in one suitcase. If we ended up staying two or three nights we would take in a second suitcase. If we ended up staying more we could take in the third). So then I got everyone to bed, but my phone kept ringing as everyone was talking about their plans and what they wanted to do and we were coordinating hotel reservations and what we wanted to do in Raleigh– if the others were coming. At 9:30 I looked around and realized I was in no shape to go at 5am the next morning. I had the bags packed, but I didn’t have the car packed and I was going to have to figure out the dog crate in and around suitcases and the stroller and snacks. Then I remembered that I was too fat for my temple dress, so I ran upstairs and tried it on and couldn’t zip it up. I was going to have to let it out. So I went to bed. The next morning was kind of surreal. I felt like I was in the twilight zone, getting my kids up and off to the bus stop like it was any other Friday morning and not at all like we were getting ready to evacuate from this giant storm that seemed to be pressing down on us, even though it was a regular sunny day outside. I did wake up with an immense sense of calm and was grateful that I had not tried to get out first thing. I got the kitchen all cleaned up and my dress let out. I got everything in the van in a surprisingly orderly fashion, included a flat of 36 water bottles, the five gallon gas can, our three suitcases, the crate, the stroller, the swim bag, the church bag, the snacks, our hard drives and our DVD player (I figured if the hotel had any they would be in high demand so I decided to bring our in case we were stuck there for several days). I also had lots of books for everyone to read and Bekah Jo had packed a huge bag to the bulging point. I later found out that not only did she have barbies, poly pockets, notebooks, pens, crayons, and whatever, she had also packed our big heavy maglight, in case we lost power. What can I say, she’s her mama’s daughter (I had six flashlights and extra batteries in with the DVD player). I was trying to wait around for the plumber to come and unstop the upstairs toilet, but when they called to say that they weren’t coming, Calvin and I went around the house and unplugged everything, closed all the blinds, locked all the doors, and went to pick the big kids up from school. When we got to the school the office was full of other parents checking out their kids. I didn’t know it, but they had decided to close school early for the day, so I only ended up picking them up an hour early. It was funny. As we were waiting for Jacob (the last one), the janitor walked into the office. Ethan said, “Hi, Mr. Steve” and the janitor said hi back, but in a generic way. Then he saw Bekah Jo and said “Bekah Jo”, like he knew her and the kind of happy mischief she brings. Then Ethan was complaining about how heavy his backpack was and this and that and I was only half listening as I was trying to keep track of Calvin in all the chaos until I heard Mr. Steve burst out laughing. And I replayed the last moment | with Ethan and Bekah Jo. She had offered to take Ethan’s bag for him and with great effort hoisted it onto her back. After about 10 seconds she had dropped it back onto the floor and told Ethan he was going to have to take it. Her shoulder hurt cause she’d “been holdin’ it for years!” She sounded just like a character out of “The Sandlot”. So funny. Then we headed back to the house to have everyone go potty and drop off their backpacks. I then had to go back through the house because they had managed to turn on every light in the house! Every one. Finally, we were off. I think we made it ten minutes before Shiloh threw up the chicken nugget I had hid his Dramamine in. We were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic trying to get out of Jacksonville. My timing was pretty atrocious because we managed to be leaving at the same time the buses were all trying to get to the schools and right after they had shut down the base, so it was kind of rush hour in the middle of the afternoon. When we made it out of the bottle neck, I pulled over and cleaned up the front half of the crate with diaper wipes (he has a divider that prevents him from entering the back half). Then he had to get back in. Poor little guy. He whimpered a little at that point, (who can blame him), but Bekah Jo kept talking to him and he quieted down and accepted his fate. I did talk to several people at this point in my journey. It was the whole point of the trip. Traffic was alternating between flowing well, creeping along, and stop and go. I think the 2 hour trip took us 5. Not too bad, all things considered. Traffic was horrible in Raleigh and after crawling along for 20 minutes I decided to skip finding the dog kennel and go straight to the hotel. We got there and got checked in, along with the rest of the world. I threw on my dress while all the kids filed through the bathroom and then we headed back out to battle our way to the temple. What I didn’t realize was that we were on the outskirts of the city and the temple was as well, so the roads were clear the whole way there and we got there an hour before my session. The weather was cloudy, but nice, so we pulled Shiloh out and walked around the church building next to the temple for the wait time. It helped the kids get their wiggles out and Shiloh really enjoyed it. The session was so pleasant. I really enjoyed it and that wonderful peaceful Spirit in the midst of the chaos. When I got back to the hotel, the older boys were asleep and Bekah Jo changed her mind on whether she wanted to sleep on the other bed or the sofa bed about five times while I changed and took out my contacts. She finally got settled and miraculously fell asleep, despite Calvin crawling all over her. Calvin refused to go to sleep. He finally dropped off at midnight. I ended up sleeping on the sofa bed with both him and Bekah Jo eventually. Not sure how that happened. Ethan was up at 6. He had gotten a good night’s sleep. We were quiet, watching the news and then cartoons quietly while Calvin slept in. I went down and took Shiloh out for a walk fed him sun chips (I hadn’t brought dog food!) for breakfast. I went back up to the room to get the kids for breakfast. It was eight by then and Calvin was awake. We were lucky enough to find a table so we didn’t have to try and juggle our food while we ate. By the time I had gotten everyone’s food, Jake was done eating and ready to go back to the hotel room. I stuffed my muffin and sausage into my mouth and grabbed the waffle Calvin wasn’t eating because he was so distracted by all the people and told Ethan and Bekah Jo to bring their plates up to the room. I was going Calvin slow speed, so I rounded the corner just in time to see the elevator malfunction and close on Ethan, who then dropped his overloaded bowl of raisin bran on the floor. He stepped out and the door closed the rest of the way, taking Jacob and Bekah Jo up to our room while Ethan and I went to the front desk to tell them about the spill. Then we went back upstairs to discover that while she was waiting, Bekah Jo decided to try and use her plastic knife in place of a card key in the key reader and that it had broken off in the reader! So I had to ride the elevator back down and tell the front desk about that (it was so embarrassing). They were, of course, very nice about it and I headed back up to the room to monitor the kids finishing what was left of breakfast in a narrow hallway. I was imagining what would happen if they couldn’t get it open. My keys were in there. My purse, ID, money. The dog was stuck in the car. What a mess! It took the maintenance guy maybe three seconds to fix. Whew. | On Thursday night I was completely undecided about whether or not we should evacuate. I was vacillating back and forth and making myself crazy. The reports from the weather stations were not helping. They could predict with certainty that it was heading our way, but not how close or how intense. They were thinking it might be a level 3 hurricane and we might take a direct hit. I honestly wasn’t too

59: The reports coming in about the storm were dramatic, but having been through a few storms I could tell it was media hype. They were saying things like, “hundreds of thousands of people are without power and will be for quite some time. Crews aren’t expected to be able to get things back on until tonight at least”. Tonight? If that was the most dramatic thing they were reporting, I figured it couldn’t be that bad. So we packed up all our stuff and checked out of the hotel. Then we drove downtown to the Natural Science Museum. We walked Shiloh around the parking lot (in slightly overcast weather), put Calvin (who had lost his shoes somewhere in the fray) in his stroller, and walked over to the museum. It was the most amazing museum I’ve ever been in. It’s even better that the dinosaur museum at Thanksgiving point. It’s four stories of amazing and kid friendly displays. We got to go to the live presentation about different kinds of animals and the presenter was fantastic. We all learned stuff we didn’t know about frogs (Yeah, I didn’t know there was that much left for my boys to learn about frogs). We also got to see some displayed butterflies, one of which the boys had never seen in any of their books. It’s called a dead-leaf butterfly, and when it closes its wings, it looks just like a dead leaf. It even had spots on its wings that match up so perfectly and the skin is so thin that it looks like bugs have eaten holes in them! We wandered through exhibits about native animals in the area (the boys have a new lizard they are going to be watching out for) to water exhibits with full size real blue whale bones hanging above them (they are so enormous, it was humbling to see them full size and realize how small we are!). We saw sea horses and lots of different kinds of turtles and fish and salamanders that looked like eels and lizards that looked like snakes and so many different creatures that the boys have read about but never been able to see in person. They had a display of carnivorous plants, which was cool. We went up to the fourth floor and ate and the bug café, which is situated right next to the atrium full of butterflies, so we got to watch them flutter around while we ate. Then we got to go and walk through the atrium. It was really fun and they had some amazing butterflies. They even had some blue morpho butterflies, which have fascinated Jacob since he was three and were amazing to see in real life, fluttering around. We’ve seen many in display cases, but it is something else to see a butterfly that big and beautiful flying around. After that Ethan and Jacob went in to another presentation of live animals, where they got to hear about each one and pet it, but it was a small room and very crowded and Calvin was tired of sitting, so I took him and Bekah Jo out. The boys really enjoyed the presentation – especially when they got to pet a baby alligator! Calvin and Bekah Jo and I went into the dinosaur room and they pretended to stalk and attack each other, while making dino noises. Whatever. Bekah Jo found a dino egg display and was excited to show me the giant egg. After that we braved the wind and rain to take Shiloh out (it was getting pretty blustery as the outer bands continued to pass over Raleigh). We went back in, all wet and shivery and went to the “family” section, where you go in and it is all hands on stuff for little kids. Bekah Jo dressed up as a luna moth, a monarch butterfly, and turtle, and dragonfly, a lady bug, and finally settled on an owl of all things. The costumes where amazing and all quilted together. I may be getting inspired about Halloween They had a bee colony and Jake found the queen bee. They had all of these drawers that you could pull all the way out and when you set them down they were really cases full of different things. The one Jacob pulled out was about arachnids and it had a black widow and a brown recluse and all different kinds of things. I didn’t get to explore much, because I was following around the little man as he played with stuffed animals and plastic dinosaurs. They had a little corner with soft stools and ginormous books about different animals (they were only about ten pages each, but they were about 25 inches by 15 inches). He also spent a lot of time running up and down the stairs, glad to be free to run around. At this point Calvin started to stink and I realized I had left the diapers and wipes in the car, so we headed back through the rain again to the car. It was 3:30 and we had been at the museum for 5 hours. The kids all wanted to go back in and finish the museum but I was bushed. I told them we would come back with Dad to finish. At this point the majority of the storm had passed Jacksonville and was supposed to be completely passed by 6 pm. I figured I was two hours away and the timing was perfect, so we left. The drive back was uneventful. Shiloh never barked once on the | already. We passed gas stations that had power within twenty minutes of the house, which was encouraging. The kids were in the back talking about the possible damage and how cook it would be if a big tree had fallen through our roof and we could go up our stairs and then use it as I giant slide to get to the back yard. They are clearly not traumatized by storms. We finally pulled into our driveway at almost 6 on the nose. It was a mess, but I’ve seen it look worse J. There were some broken tree limbs that were substantial in size, and there was not a square inch of the yard that wasn’t littered with small branches, leaves, pine needles, and pinecones. Then I pressed the button to the garage door – and it opened! We had power! Everything in the freezer was still frozen. Everything in the fridge was still cold. I went straight out to the back yard and made sure the fence was still in good repair – and it was! So I let Shiloh out. I think he was glad for that. We came in and had dinner and I was on the phone forever as all the ward members were calling back and forth to tell each other we were having church at 10, but just sacrament meeting and to get damage reports. At nine I shut Calvin in his room (still chattering away) and climbed into my bed and got a really good night’s sleep! This morning the kids didn’t have school because there are some roads in the county that are still flooded, apparently. I decided it would be good to focus on the after-evacuation-hurricane inside the house this morning, and it’s good that I did. The plumber called at 8:30 to say he was going to be here in half an hour. Then one of the sisters in the ward called to see if she could drop her daughter off at nine because she had a meeting at the school that she thought would be cancelled but wasn’t. I hadn’t even gotten off the phone with her when the sister missionaries called because their plumbing was backing up in their apartment and they needed some place to shower and study. Needless to say, they all arrived at exactly the same time that Calvin poured a bag of cheerios all over the kitchen floor. It was chaos! One of the sister’s helped me sweep it up while the other showered and | then we all went upstairs as the plumber informed us the toilet was clogged by a tube of toothpaste and five hair barrettes. I got them paid in time for Calvin to shove the cooler that he and Bekah Jo had filled off the window seat, so water cascaded across the entire kitchen floor. At least it was freshly swept! And somewhere in there Calvin took his diaper off twice, despite it being put on backwards and then, when that didn’t work, duct taped! For some reason the sister missionaries decided they would try and do their study at the church. Do you think they were trying to tell me my house wasn’t tranquil enough? | whole trip. He was so amazingly good! What a blessing! The roads were clear and traffic was light and we made good time (I confess, I was heading back that early to avoid the traffic I would have had to drive through the next morning, in addition to another night in a hotel room with Cal). We did see some street signs swinging freely in the wind and several downed trees, the further east we got, but not too much. The roads had been cleared of any limbs that had fallen on them | Tues. after the older kids were back in school, I went out to put some more work in on yard clean up. I had raked a lot of the stuff into piles but needed to load it into the black garbage cans and take it out to the curb for pick up. Little man Calvin wanted to help. The first couple of times I filled the cans he came out with me and carried branches that were big, but light and would have been awkward to fit in the cans. Then he decided he wanted to pull a can. And he did. I tilted one of the empty ones way down and he grabbed the handle and with his little irregular toddler walk, hauled that can, that was easily three times as big as him, across the driveway and through the back yard to the next pile. He had on this cute bright yellow tee-shirt with a helicopter that Teri had given him and some blue cargo shorts, all slightly big on him to help him look a little more substantial than he is. He worked on filling his can while I filled mine. When mine was full he had about five twigs and some leaves in his. I put a couple more handfuls in and that little trooper hauled his can back out, tipped it upside down and tried to get it back to rights for the return trip. He did that five times! Then he went and laid down on the trampoline, which is still upside down on the ground, partly because I haven’t gotten that far yet and partly because there is another hurricane brewing and I’m NOT turning that thing over until I know I won’t be messing with it again in a week and a half! Unfortunately I have no pictures of any of this because said toddler took the battery out of my camera and we have yet to relocate it. The good news: I know it’s not in the toilet!

60: Calvin found a picture of you today that I don't think he's seen before and it was so cute to see his reaction to it. "Hey, that's my daddy! That's my daddy's eyes! That's my daddy's nose! That's my daddy's mouth! That's my daddy". That little two year old knows who you are. He talks about you every day. He loves you and when you come home he is going to run into your arms, because you are his daddy. | Hey bud, Mom thinks you might be having some difficulties at school. Maybe I can help. Do you want to tell me about it? I will tell you, I had a hard time sometimes at school when I was your age. I’m the oldest in my family, and it seemed there was no one to stick up for me on the school bus, or playground, or classroom. We can talk about what I did, or maybe you have some ideas, but don’t know what to do. Love you, Dad | We are still dealing with the flu here. Ethan came into the dining room last night and told me he had just thrown up. I took one look at his face and told him to head back to the bathroom, he didn't look like he was done. It was a good call, since he was puking again a second later. I went in the bathroom to console him and there he was, puking in the SINK! I told him he should have puked in the toilet. Then I proceeded to clean out the sink. He said, "well at least the first time I threw up in the kitchen sink". Yeah, right on top of all the dinner dishes! So I had to rinse throw up off of all of them before loading them in the dishwasher. Thanks Ethan. I did think of you this morning when Bekah Jo and Calvin both came and crowded on either side of me in bed at 5:30. I tried to be grateful I have cute little bodies to snuggle and hold, but I had really wanted another hour's sleep. Oh well. | with | Cort, | Cort,

61: You really must not being feeling well. Poor baby, I wish you had some of your mom’s amazing soup to help you feel loved and comforted right now Hopefully you’re feeling better this morning. Jake hopes your goose egg is getting better. | I know, I know a spontaneous email from me. You must think I am crazy. I probably am. I got beaned in the back of the head with a soft ball today. Got a pretty good goose egg. We had “mandatory fun” bidding farewell to the first group of Seabees and welcoming the new ones. I got a pretty good goose egg and headache but the swelling is going down. I thought I was going to write a lot, but I can’t come up with much. That paragraph pretty much summed it up. I can’t wait until R&R , it’s only 5 weeks away before I leave. Probably closer to 6 before I arrive. I also can’t wait until my roommate get his own room. He snores like a jet engine. It has awaken me a couple time this week. It’s pretty bad if I wake up to it. But then I don’t sleep as soundly when I am away from you. In the phone call, it sounded like Jake said he wanted to race when I get back. Did I understand correctly? Do the other kids have ideas of something they would like to do? | I will see you one goos egg and raise you: One black eye! I had some rather rambunctious dancers yesterday, and ended up taking a hard one on the edge of my eye socket. Didn’t seem to effect Bekah Jo much, but I have a black eye this morning. I hope your head is feeling better. I tried covering up my black eye with make-up this morning. Bekah Jo came in as I was failing miserably. She asked what I was doing and when I explained she told me that when Kendra had a black eye, she didn't worry about putting on make-up to make her look pretty. She was ok just the way she was. I wish I could have recorded that to play back to her later. Such words of wisdom. | -Ethan wants to go to Cook Out -Both boys want to race you -They want to build legos, play outside, introduce you their friends -Go to the museum in Raleigh -Help you clean the roof (as in all of you climbing up there together) -Go to Golden Corral -Build cars for race tracks and race tracks (I think you should do the pinewood derby cars now, personally) -We have to teach you killer bunnies -And have a piano concert | on keeping track of himself this year. He is really good at reminding me each day to sign his “steno” – which is what they are using for planners. He gets a behavior score every day, on a 0-%100 scale and has to right why he received each score each day. I think it is really working for him. It turns his behavior into a number, something black and white he can relate to. He has to look up trivia every night as part of his homework and he loves that. He has informed me that I am not to wear white after labor day several times in the last couple of weeks. Then he asked me at what point we could wear white again, and when I didn’t know, he told me to ask you – oh fount of all knowledge. Ethan is not enjoying the homework load of being a fifth grader. He seems to be enjoying his classes overall and is doing well in all his subjects so far. He says he likes science the best, and when he grumbles about math, I just have to remind him that astronauts and scientists both use a lot of math so if that is what he wants to do, he needs to be focus. I kind of feel like a traitor though. There is no way NASA would ever take him with his sight and hearing issues. Not that he couldn’t still work for NASA, he just can’t be an astronaut. Perhaps we could look into doing some kind of space camp for him one summer though, just for the experience. | Bekah Jo wanted me to tell you she got her first %100 on an AR (reading) test at school this week. She’s very proud of herself. Her hair is starting to get long and she’s being pretty good about getting it done in the mornings, so maybe she’ll be able to grow it out this time. She is still dressing like her crazy self. She wears skirts with shorts under them most days, tops that don’t match, and mid-calf socks with glitter light up sneakers. She seems to be adjusting to her new teacher, she’s not telling me how much she wishes Mr. Caskey was her teacher every day, and yesterday I found her at the mail box with a letter in her hand. Is was addressed to “Miss Mojre” (her teacher’s name is Ms. Mosher) and no address, a return label and stamp. In it was a gobble-dee-gook letter and the key she pulled off one of those car sales adds. I went ahead and addressed it to the school. Jake has made the AR wall of fame already, and is re-reading all the books he read this summer – speed style – so he can take the tests on them and earn more points. I guess there is a fifth grader that has more points than him and he is determined to “win the most points”, I keep trying to tell him it’s not a contest, but whatcha gonna do? He seems to be doing a whole lot better | in

62: Boxes | Before Cort left in March, he and I filled 12 boxes with stuff for the kids, so that each month that he was gone, they would have a "package" from Dad. There were chocolate molds, jump ropes, bubbles, kites, little toys, birthday party decorations and presents, holiday goodies, movies, lots of books, and in the month of October, there were wooden bats to paint and decorate. It was a nice way to mark the time Cort was away. I loved seeing the pile of boxes in my closet dwindle. On the first Saturday of each month the kids were really good about getting up and getting their chores done, because as soon as they were all done, they could open that months package. | From

63: I recently heard Ethan tell Jake he was "as sharp as a knife" To which Jake replied that Ethan was "as wiley as a tree" | Random | When the kids come home with really good report cards, we all load in the van and head to Golden Corral, the kids favorite restautraunt. The rule is, you have to eat dinner, and then for every dessert you eat you have to eat an entire plate of veggies before you can go back for more. It's not uncommon for the kids to have three desserts- which means they had dinner and two plates of veggies! I keep waiting for someone to throw up in the parking lot, but so far, so good... | Over the summer the boys went to an engineering camp. For a field trip at the end, we all went to "Wonder Works" science museum at Myrtle Beach. It was full of all kinds of science, but the kids mostly liked the rides. It the blurry yellow photo, you can see Ethan and Jaiden getting ready to power the ride they stood in line for an hour for, with their own peddling power. | The museum looked like it was turned upside down, both on the outside and in the lobby. | The rule on Saturday mornings is that the kids can watch TV until I get up. The funny thing to me is that they all crowd around the computer, instead of taking advantage of the big screen in the next room! | Moments | we went to see "Hairspray" at the high school

64: Crazy Hair Day | Crazy Hair day was the week before Halloween at school. Although both boys desperately needed hair cuts, Ethan had asked if we could wait until after crazy hair day so that his could be especially long and crazy - and it was! I didn't do my hair for crazy hair day, but two days later I had it all braided to get ready to have mad scientist hair at the ward Halloween party.

65: You Make My Sun Shine | Halloween | We started our trick-or-treating at our house and made it to the far end of the neighborhood when the sky opened up and poured on us. We are lucky we live in this warm Carolina climate, because we were all soaked by the time we got home! Good thing we had gotten so much candy on the first side of the street!

66: There is just like having the | NOTHING | HOME! | The garage door is working again. The TV remote has been replaced and reprogrammed. The pinewood derby cars have been cut and sanded. The lawnmower and trimmer are both running again. There are working lights in all the light sockets again. The dining room chandelier is fixed. The trampoline is set up again (it's been waiting since the hurricane in August). Yeah, it's nice having him back. While he was here, we took a trip to Raleigh for a couple of days, and each of the kids got to have one day off of school to spend Christmas shopping and hanging out with Dad. We all also took a day off to go bowling, but mostly I kept Cort busy doing stuff around the house. | Every day he was here, Cort went outside and jumped with the kids.

67: We gave Cort a hard time about missing everyone else's birthday for the whole year, but managing to be home for his own... He made up for it by giving everyone their birthday spankings while he was here. | Cort chased Calvin around the house scaring him all the time. One day, Cort was in the family room and when Calvin came around the corner from the kitchen, Cort scared him. Then Calvin squealed and ran back across the kitchen towards the dining room. Meanwhile, Cort crossed the family room and cut him off on the other side of the dining room with another roar. They did this back and forth a couple of times, but then Calvin stopped playing, just hanging out in the kitchen. Trying to start the game back up, I asked Calvin to come into the family room. He replied, "I can't, I'm too nervous1" | We made strawberry mango gelato and put a candle in each persons bowl and sang "Happy Birthday" to all of us. We also made a campfire one night and made smores, something we all love doing together.

68: We ate lunch next to the butterfly garden and got to watch the blue morpho butterflies while we ate. Calvin was especially fascinated with the large artificial dragon fly suspended above our table. | Can you guess which bug is who? | Natural Science Museum | We had gone to this museum during the hurricane in August and the kids were so excited to take their dad to see it. They talked about it for months. It was so cute!

69: They have amazing costumes of all different types of animals to try on. | There is a children's area at the museum where we spent quite a long time. | There are drawers labeled with different topics full of stuff on that topic, like a drawer labeled "scat" with a scat guessing game, complete with authentic looking scat replicas... Yum. | They have slides to examine under a microscope | They had a giant foam floor puzzle that Calvin and I put together | There is a bee hive made in plexi-glass so you can see the bees building their honeycomb and locate the queen bee. | The guy running the room was hilarious and tickled by the kids enthusiasm. He was pulling out field guides and books and stuff for the kids to look at. | Maybe someone should have mentioned to Cort that the costumes were for the KIDS... | Bekah Jo walked up and waved at Calvin through the window and Calvin promptly asked her if she wanted to order a taco. Maybe we need to limit our trips to Taco Bell...

70: Enjoying | Nature

71: We found a nature park in Raleigh and enjoyed exploring the pathways and soaking in the beautiful colors of the leaves. We all love spending time outside together, and it's just so much easier with two adults to corral than one... | Ethan and Jake led the way most of the time, with Bekah Jo skipping along at her own pace, and Calvin wanting to spend his time with Daddy. Cort was so cute, helping him do all the stuff his big brothers had done!

72: Calvin had just discovered fire hydrants before Cort came home, so he was constantly pointing them out. Since we walked right by this one, we stopped and he said he was going to open it. We told him he could go ahead and try. He gave it a good tug, then said he needed his screwdriver! | We went out to dinner a few times, going to "Cook Out", our favorite burger joint in Jacksonville, and to Applebees up in Raleigh - where Bekah Jo and Calvin enjoyed stringing out their mozzarella sticks. But mostly we ate at home, Cort was ready for some home cooking! | It was such a sad morning when Cort got his gear back out and we had to take him back to the airport. We truly had so much fun the entire time he was home and can't wait until our year is up. We are also proud of him and his efforts to ensure our freedom. Hoorah, Daddy!

73: Kate and I spent a day in Raleigh, first doing some shopping and then throwing our church clothes on at stop lights as we careened to the temple and just made our session. We had so much fun trying on about a bazillion clothes! P.S. Kate didn't end up getting this rather fetching coat... | Kate came to spend Christmas with us this year, and we were so glad. She always adds a layer of fun and adventure to life, even when she's just sitting on the couch! | We love Aunt Kate for her | LEGS

74: Gingerbread | Houses | When I was walking down the isle at Wal-mart, I found a kit with 5 mini gingerbread houses in it. It was destiny. So one fine Monday evening in early December, we covered the table with gingerbread, candy and frosting. The kids' philosophy was, the more candy they put on their house, the more they could eat later. We had some VERY loaded houses... They did such a great job and their flub of a mother never took a picture of the final product!

75: Jake loves tuna fish, so when I found a good price, I bought a whole case. It seemed fitting that Jake should be the one to put it away, but first he made a "Tower of Tuna" | This is the most amazing light display, I just had to sneak a pic, but it doesn't do it justice... | Calvin went through this phase where he wanted me to take pics of him every day with his arms out and then his elbows. It was a little strange, but then again, so is he...

76: Christmas | Eve | at the

77: Since the weather obliged us and was a balmy 75 degrees, we decided to spend Christmas Eve at the beach. It was super windy, but we had the whole place to ourselves and it was beautiful! We made notes for dad, sand angels and castles, and even got some Yahtzee in (which Kate and Bekah Jo won) At one point Ethan looked out across the water and saw dolphins, and we all watched the pod swim by. It was so cool (but they were too far away for a good shot). As we were leavingCalvin was lagging behind. I called out, asking what he was doing. I came around the corner just as he said, "Falling in the grass", and he was!

78: 2011 | We really wanted Cort to be able to participate in Christmas as much as possible, so when we had a decent skype connection on Christmas Eve, we went ahead and let the kids open all of their presents right then (none of them complained...) So he watched us at 4 am his time as the kids created a tornado of wrapping paper and boxes. I think one of the most note worthy presents we got this year were a pair of giant boxes that sat behind the tree for a month. While the kids climbed on them and jumped off of them they speculated on their contents. A mini fridge? A puppy? Bekah Jo got it right when she guessed beanbag chairs. | Bekah Jo's favorite present was a Rapunzel doll with matching dress up dress. Ethan's was an GIANT Optimus Prime transformer. Calvin's was a rescue pack like Diego's. Jake received a remote control spy car with camera. Of course, the next week when he was sent to his bed and I discovered he had used that spy car to remotely watch a movie by setting his spy car on the counter and aiming it at the TV, then watching from his bed, he lost it for a month... Little evil genius...

79: When I put Kate in charge of making the cookies, she warned me, she cooks, she doesn't bake. Well, if her cookies are any indication, I believe her. It might help if she measured any of the ingredients, instead of just eyeballing them all... So we stuffed half of the cookie dough into hallowed out marshmallows and roasted them with our hot dogs, and the other half went on the table for lucky Santa to eat... | When it was time to come out and roast the hot dogs and marshmallows, the boys were too busy playing with their new toys to roast, I finally took pictures of their empty chairs, and the rest of us enjoyed dinner. They could eat the next day...

80: Camp Leatherneck | Marine Corps. Marathon | Cort might have had a better first marathon experience if it hadn't been the starting cannon that woke him up that morning. Not to let the past months of training go to waste, he jumped out of bed, threw on his clothes, grabbed his shoes and headed out. He was only about 10 minutes behind the other runners. With no breakfast or warm-up he ran the 26 miles in the Afghani desert in 4hours, 28 min. Then he climbed on a plane and flew home to visit his family the next day, lactic acid and all. Hoorah. | Cort's "can" where he lived for the year he was in Afghanistan. He was lucky, he only had a roommate for about a month. The rest of the time he had all this luxury to himself. | Chillin' at "camp leather couch"

81: Cort was part of the office that coordinated and prioritized construction projects in the Southwest region of Afghanistan. He would make sure requests were completed appropriately before they went to the approval board, and then track their completion, coordinating efforts between contractors, Marine and Seabee engineers and making sure they had the construction materials they needed to get the job done. Cort would often spend 14+ hours in the office each day, but all the orders for R/C helicoptor parts suggest it wasn't all work... | During his time in Afghanistan, Cort spent many hours studying the Marine doctrine, organization and war fighting philosophy, like most Navy personnel do, when stationed with the Marines. After completing the required watch stations, written exam and a rigorous oral board he earned the Fleet Marine Force Qualification. | Construction Section of the C-7 Engineers | Regional Command (Southwest) C-7 Engineer Section | 1st LT Smith, EAC McCarty, MSgt Hickman, LT McMaster GySgt Brooks, 1stLt Lewis, LT Stringham, LT Saleem, CEC Mosley EOC Tully

82: When I was walking the dog trainer out the door one day, I was unwise enough not to bring Calvin with me. He decided to try and poor himself a cup of "juice". The good news was that it was on Shiloh's food try, but it was still such a mess to clean up! | Calvin and I were at Wal-Mart when I realized I had picked up a nail in my tire from the tornado repairs at the house. For the first time ever, I called AAA and while some poor guy changed my tire in the 95 degree weather, Calvin and I walked over to Taco Bell and had a slushie and tacos. And I didn't even get my white shirt dirty... It also happened to be the first time Calvin successfully closed his eyes on purpose. Glad to have caught that on camera. | Excerpt from and email to Cort: Calvin was being so cute today. Just turning in circles and dancing about and being so charmingly two that my heart aches that you aren't here to see it. You are going to enjoy him so much when you come home. He has learned to say some abominable phrases. He regularly asserts that someone is copying him, even if he is the only one speaking. He asks me if he can watch one more episode at the end of his Backyardigan's episodes. He frequently offers me food and tells me I can only have one. He tells me multiple times a day not to take him to bed. He tells us its his turn to sit in the middle (yeah, of the car, where his seat is always situated) and that his chores are done. He is hilarious. Oct 6 | some | moments | Mom | Me and my stay at home buddy | Later, after church, the kids and I broke out “Tron – Legacy” and some popcorn. I hadn’t seen it and bought it for myself for Mother’s Day. It was definitely the right choice for two hours of relaxation without any bickering. When Jake came in to ask what was for dinner, I flippantly answered, “It’s Mother’s Day, you’re supposed to make it”. Boy was that the right answer! He got so excited about making dinner. He went in and started rifling through the fridge. Then he started cutting fruit for a fruit salad. A few minutes later Ethan walked in and wanted to know what he was doing. Soon after that Bekah Jo joined in to. I ended up having corn on the cob, bow tie pasta with an entire cube of butter and three melted Colby/mozzerella cheese sticks, quesadillas, and a fruit salad with strawberries, kiwi, grapes, and mango. It all actually tasted really good too! And not only did they dish up a plate for me, they made sure Calvin was dished and Bekah Jo before we all headed out back to eat in the gorgeous weather. I didn’t help one bit. I sat in the office and researched future billet possibilities and the schools around them. Overall, a pretty nice day. | Then she opened the bag and with great flair showed me each item within: A little ceramic pot with a sunflower with a “Bekah Jo” center (for decoration), a water bottle, a small tube of sugar free orange drink powder, a napkin (further decoration, apparently), and a breakfast bar. She was practically outshining the sun, she was so proud (ok, at 6:25 that’s not too hard). She had made it at school. Calvin had come in my room with her, and so we made up the drink and shared the breakfast (thankfully she wasn’t insulted that I kept offering more of the drink to her and Calvin with each pass). It was such a sweet way to start the day. | Bekah Jo came in my room this morning and handed me a brown paper bag with a note: Since it is your day, I have something to say: Don’t lift your head, Have breakfast in bed! Just take a look You don’t have to cook! I don’t like to brag, But it’s breakfast in a bag! | Mom | ' | DAY

83: Create | This year has been a fun one for me to develop some talents. Both of the other members of the Primary Presidency (I serve as the first councilor and LOVE it) are major quilters, so it's no surprise that I have done some sewing. We got together and made skirts for our daughters in the spring. Inspired, I decided to make matching dresses for Becky and Chad's Abby and baby Emma. They turned out really cute (as long as you didn't look too close.) When my mother-in-Law came in August, she helped me make a bedspread for Calvin's bed (pictured on her trip page). I loved that so much that I made a quilt for mine and Cort's bed and even bought new bedding to go with it. I love how the colors turned out (thanks to my friend Amy Webb's advice) and I love the quilt so much. I made a few cute cakes this year, including the kid's birthday cakes, another spider cake for a fundraiser, and a sister in my ward came over one day and taught me how to use fondant, so I made the cute Christmas cake pictured here for another fundraiser at the school. Then there is this book... I love being able to create. Especially something permanent (unlike laundry that just has to be redone all the time). I love looking into Calvin's room and seeing the darling spread that I made. Same when I make my bed. Or when Bekah Jo wears one of her skirts. What a blessing to have the time and money to do it. | C | R | e | a | t | e

84: When Ethan isn't busy getting honor roll at school or prepping his next project, he still finds lots of time to search for lizards, build legos, play transformers, ride his bike and watch TV. His best friend is Jaiden Maclyeah and they enjoy most of the same things.He has also become a pretty good reader. | BMI 15.9 Height: 4'8" Weight: 71 lbs 10/3/11

85: Ethan is a really good student. He excelles especially in math and science, loves to read, and would prefer to never crack a social studies book. For the 2011 Science Fair he made a hover car using magnets. | We were at Wal-mart one day and Ethan reminds me his replica of "Cape Hattaras" is due the next day. We marched down to the cereal isle, hit the marshmallows, and three batches of rice crispies later, he had a well graded treat! | avior is the person who saves us | hrist is the same person | esurrected | n a tomb with a round door | earl of Great Price | estiment | ested in his tomb | aster | criptures | C | R | S | I | P | T | U | R | S | by | Ethan | Stringham | E | ndead

86: I went to take my pictures off my camera one day to discover that Jake is trying to make a motion picture through still photography with his transformers. | At engineering camp Jake learned you could make ice-cream by hand, using a quart-size bag for your ingredients and then placed inside a gallon zip-loc with ice and salt. Since he is in charge of family night treat tonight, he’s making his ice-cream, while I make cake-batter ice-cream in the ice-cream maker. He is so funny. He’s so excited. As we are both at the counter, pouring in our respective ingredients, he says to me, “Well, I really hope this works out for you”. I love that boy! So, thirty minutes later, there are salty drips of water all over the kitchen floor, Jake’s arms have turned to rubber, and despite checking the temp with the thermometer every 15 seconds, the poor child’s ice-cream looks eerily similar to his macaroni and cheese - mushy. | BMI 13 Height: 4'6" Weight: 54 lbs 10/3/11

87: Here's a copy of the email I sent out to my family about the Engineering Fair: The kid’s engineering fair is coming up. Ethan has his hover craft model all created at school. I didn’t have to lift a finger. Bekah Jo made a telescope. Then there’s Jake. That teacher that I love? Sometimes she makes me nuts. She expects parent involvement! But not on and idea scale, on a grunt work scale. Jake came home with his list of supplies needed for his “snowball shooter”: 18” of 2” PVC pipe Three 1 inch metal gears One 2x3 steel box and one 2x4 steel box I was unable to get him to explain how it was going to work. He said helpful things like: “the gears will turn and shoot the snowball out”. I kept waiting for him to come home from school with something more plausible. He didn’t. He just kept repeating the same stuff. On Saturday when Cort called I finally explained the dilemma. He then called me back with a great plan for a sling shot type snowball shooter. I explained it to Jake. I did this knowing that the teacher was interested in the kids creating their own ideas, not someone else’s, but I was tired and it was due this morning, which meant we only had Saturday to work on it. He liked Cort’s idea, “yeah, that would work. Can we go to Lowe’s now and see if they have gears?” Guess that would work for someone else. They didn’t have any, but Cort had suggested that the hobby shop might have some. The owner of the hobby shop (who is so sweet), said he had gears, but they were pricey. He suggested going to the flea market and buying some junk toys and taking them apart for their gears. I was way too tired to take my four kids to the flea market, but we happen to have some junk toys right here! Of course it ended up that we were up at 5:30 am this morning, taking apart old toys and chisling a hole through PVC pipe for the trigger. I wish we had done it a week ago because I learned something very important. Jake knew exactly how he wanted this thing to work - and it really could! He was just unable to communicate it to me. It works like this: There are three gears. One sits in a slit in the bottom of the PVC pipe and is used as the trigger (this is a slight modification from the original design due to the fact that no one had random steel boxes just the size Jake wanted). It is attached to another gear, which is in turn attached to one more gear. All the gears are on metal rods (woops, didn’t include those in our supply list!) that run across the inside of the PVC pipe. Also attached to the metal rod of the last gear are two metal pieces, each kind of like one half of a scoop. They sit on either side of the gear. When the trigger gear is moved, it moves the other two gears which make the two metal scooper pieces flip forward, thus “shooting” the snowball out of the tube. I convinced him that he could put that he wanted the rods to be metal, but because we lack the proper tools for making the rods, we were going to use toothpics. And tape to attach them. Really long nails might have worked too, but we didn’t have any and we didn’t have any more time. He’s also making his “scoops” out of tinfoil. I hope it all goes well today.

88: This is the AMAZING dress Grandma made Bekah Jo for Christmas. I think she wore it 50 of the 52 Sundays this year. It's absolutely beautiful, which is how she feels in it! | sitting in the pile of bagged leaves

89: She finished up Kindergarten in June. She loved her teacher, Mr. Caskey, who called his students his "crabs". She had a lot of fun learning sight words and going on a field trip to the beach. I think her favorite part of kindergarten though, was all the friends that she made and got to play with. | When we came home from Utah this summer, we had all learned how to play Killer Bunnies, and play we did. Almost every day for a month. Out of those first ten games though, Jacob won once, I won twice, and Bekah Jo won SEVEN times! | Bekah Jo is still our sunshine girl. She is well known and loved by all the adults at school, even the janitors all light up when they see her. She is full of hugs and hellos for everyone she sees.

90: the many faces of | One day when Cort was at home I went grocery shopping and when I came home I found Calvin like this: asleep on the table. I went and found Cort, who proudly replied, "don't worry, I took pictures!" He had given Calvin some chocolate pudding and Calvin was happily enjoying it when Cort went in the next room to do something. When he came back Calvin was just as I found him, sleeping on the table. | One day I go to get Calvin up from his nap to discover that he had climbed up to the top of the closet and gotten down the bright pink touch up paint for Bekah Jo's walls and painted the floor and his blanky and some jammies... We couldn't save the blanky. | Another day, I go up there and open the door and Calvin isn't on his bed. He isn't on Bekah Jo's bed or the floor, or under the beds, or in the closet! I started to panic. The door was shut, he couldn't get out... Then he sighed in his sleep and I looked up. He was stripped from the waist down and sleeping on TOP of the tall dresser! | Calvin | wearing the cute clothes Grandma Stringham sent him for his b-day.

91: Flour, anyone? | Swing Injury | A couple other "Calvinisms": Whenever Calvin “passes wind”, he says, “that was my body”. He thinks it’s hilarious. One night, after scriptures and prayers, as we were all getting up, Calvin flipped himself off the end of the couch and landed with a double thud - once for his head, quickly followed by his body. There was a hair breadth’s of a pause and then he said in this totally flat voice, “that hurt”. He is such a ham! One day my keys went missing. After searching in all the usual places, I determined that Calvin must be the culprit. I was trying to decide if I should look in the toilet or the garbage first when I walked into the bathroom to discover that Calvin had dumped the garbage INTO the toilet. Thanks Cal! -and the keys were discovered a day later by Cort in the bottom of the scripture basket.

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About This Mixbook

  • Title: Year 2011
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  • Started: over 7 years ago
  • Updated: about 6 years ago