August 30, 2010

First Week of School

Wow, not only is summer over, the first week of school is too.  This year, our three kids are in three different schools.

Tomas, 1st grade

I asked Tomas what he likes best about school, and he gave me the typical answer of any elementary school kid—recess. He also told me he likes to eat in the cafeteria. I needed to do a little follow up here, and found out doesn't necessarily like eating the food in the cafeteria but likes being with his friends. Tomas also likes his teacher. Katie and I are very impressed with his teacher, especially with how organized she is. In class, Tomas said he likes playing games and reading. He also likes how the entire classroom is frog-themed. I asked Tomas if there was anything he didn't like, and he said, "Homework!" I don't really believe him because he seems happy and eager to do it. I think he was just repeating what he's heard his brother and sister say.

Liam, 7th grade

Liam began middle school. Here are the classes he will be taking this year.

Liam's Classes
Year-long classes: Honors English, Algebra, SWELL (homeroom/study hour)
Semester Classes: PE, Utah Studies, Choir, Speech/Drama, Science, Creative Writing, Art
Term Classes: Success Skills, Keyboarding
Trimester Classes: Technology, Business, Family and Consumer Science

I thought I'd have Liam tell you in his own words about his first week of school, and here are this thoughts.
Unlike Tomas, I don't like lunch. I have 2nd lunch, while a lot of my friends have 1st. The food I had was disgusting. (I never learned what was floating in my Jello.) Meanwhile, the rest of my day is okay. My favorite classes so far are PE, SWELL, and English honors. (Surprising, I know.) There are a few classes I don't like as much, and I'm mad I didn't get guitar. Other than that, school is okay. I haven't got enough homework to be on the point of destruction, but I'll get their eventually.

Chloe, 11th grade

Chloe transferred to a different high school. We're already convinced this was a good decision. So far, we really like the new school, and the kid's she hangs out with.

Chloe's classes
Calculus, AP US history, ballroom, chemistry, choir, fashion marketing, seminary, honors English
Well. My father requested I write for his blog about school so far. I'm keeping it minimal due to the very sad fact that I have homework waiting for me downstairs (this would be the part where you start crying for me). Homework? Already? Yes. It's true. BUT. School has been going supremely so far. My classes aren't terrible, and with ballroom and choir mixed in? It really isn't that bad. So far, the killer hard class count is only at two. First, AP Calculus, taught by Pocahontas. No really. My math teacher looks just like her. I feel at any minute she's going to start busting out "Colors of the Wind." Let's pray that day never comes. My other hard class? AP US History. But it is also filled with many friends, which will come in handy probably. The class that I was MOST impressed with (this was sarcastic) would be chemistry, in which on the first day, we just sat and played with legos. Reason for this is still being determined at present. 
I think that's going to be all for now, so wish me luck!

August 22, 2010

Figures It Out On His Own

About a month ago, Tomas ran into the house and asked me to come outside so he could show me what he had learned. When I went out front, he was whizzing by back and forth on his friend's bicycle. While I was excited and amazed he had learned to ride a bike completely by himself, I was a little sad because I wasn't going to be able to teach our youngest to ride a bike. Oh well...typical Tomas.

However, I did take Tomas to the store to get inner tubes and hardware to fix up an old bike of Liam's for him to ride. Tomas was a great little helper, and I taught him how to put the chain back on if it ever comes off (which always seems to happen with kids' bikes). I also let Tomas pick out a new bike helmet, so he was getting at least one thing that wasn't a hand-me-down. He picked out the Disney Cars helmet. Tomas loves the movie, but that wasn't why he selected this particular helmet. For Tomas, it was all about the accompanying bell. I've never seen anyone get so excited about a bicycle bell. He's gone out to the garage several times just to ring it.

I've learned that with Tomas I'm going to have to keep on my toes if I want to share those traditional Father/Son learning moments with him. Tomas may just come to me in the near future and ask me to come outside to see what he's learned. I will then be surprised to see him whizzing by back and forth in the car.

Set maximum warp speed.

August 09, 2010

Plumber for Hire

Ah, the joys of homeownership...

Ah, the joys of owning a home built in 1970...

Every other day, it's something new. Something to add to the needs-to-be-repaired-or-replaced list.

Not only is our list getting ridiculously long, but I have no clue how to do many of the repairs myself. And, I should mention we don't have the money to bring in a repairman (school activities fees, clothes for growing children, car insurance for a 16 year-old, root canal, saving for next summer's Vienna Study Abroad—that sort of thing).

Although, I must say I'm very proud of Katie. This weekend, the garbage disposal died. And from the smell, something had also died inside it. Katie was determined we weren't going to hire a plumber, and she was going to fix it herself. And, she practically did—all by herself. Well, I helped a little. After several hours, I returned home to find her still toiling away on the old disposal. That's when I said, "Get in the car. We're going to buy a new one." By this time, Katie had given up and didn't care. I could have gotten away with buying the "Mercedes Benz" of garbage disposals (whatever that it is). But, I didn't. We went with a Kenmore.

Once home, I opened the box and began to read the instructions on how to install our new appliance. Unfortunately, I got a little confused. That's when Katie took over again. After spending the better part of an afternoon and evening with the old disposal, she has become an expert. She had that baby installed in no time flat, and it works like a dream.

Here's an idea: What if Katie worked in her free time* doing disposal repairs and installation? Plumbers can charge a hefty fee. She might be able to earn enough to pay of our other repairs.

Below is a picture of Katie mid-repair. I had to be very careful. No one looks their best doing home repairs except on TV, and Katie H. A. T. E. S. having her picture taken.

Not only was the labor free, but there was
no plumber's butt crack to deal with!

*Before I get any hate mail, it's a joke. No one more than I realizes that Katie has less free time than almost anyone on this planet.

August 06, 2010

It's Magic!

My freshman year of college, I was a design major. While I loved art and design (and still do), I changed my major because I couldn't handle the pressure. You see, this was all in the days before the wide use of computers. Every thing I created for my design classes was done by hand. I remember being given an assignment, having a great idea in my head, and spending all night trying to create it on paper. And, there were many times I just couldn't get it to work out no matter what, but I finished it up the project the best I could. Any little mistake could add hours to your project.

Flash forward 25 years. I can hardly keep up with technology. However, over the past couple of years, I have taken a few mini-courses to learn some of the design computer programs (Photoshop, In Design, and Illustrator). It just blows me away at what I can create in a matter of minutes that used to take me hours, even days. If I were in college now, I might just be a design major again. But, I'm glad I've found ways to use these new found computer skills in my job.

Also, I have recently taken up photography as a hobby. My family may complain that I take too many pictures, but I am developing a real passion. But, the more I learn about photography, the more I find out there is to know. Today, I'm taking another little step forward. I am moving beyond the basic editing tools in Picassa to editing with Photoshop.

You may remember the photo below from a few posts ago.  It was one of my favorites from our vacation to Bear Lake. There are so many reasons I love this photo—1) a handsome pair of cousins, 2) Nate's little pointing finger and his smile, 3) Liam's eyes, 4) the colors of the beach chair and the lake in the background.

Well, I thought I'd play around with the photo in Photoshop and see if I could improve the picture. Even though there were more steps involved than the basic Picassa fix-its, it didn't take too long with Photoshop. I'm happy with the results. 

I can't wait to learn how to do more with Photoshop. I've just barely scratched the surface. Stay tuned for more.

August 01, 2010

Hike to the Heart of the Mount

Rob invited the boys and me to join him and two of his boys to hike to Timanogos Cave. We left the house very early in the morning because I had to be to work by 11 a.m. The whole experience takes between 3 to 4 hours. At first, I felt a little guilty for making everyone go so early on my account, but it turned out to be a good thing because we had perfect hiking conditions—nice and cool and not crowded. On the hike down the mountain, the temperature really started to climb and large groups of people were just beginning their ascent.  

Ready to start the hike

A fourth of the way up while the legs are 
still fresh.

The boys were fantastic hikers. We were, however, passed up
by several serious hikers who were practically jogging up
the mountain for fun. One woman even had a child strapped to
her back.

To keep the boys moving, Rob played the
"I bet you can't beat me to that (fill in the
blank)" game. As you can see, Liam and 
Will have reached the age where they 
don't buy that anymore.

 Here we are at about the half way point. See
that star? That's where we're headed. 

Getting closer. You can see the small
building at the cave entrance.

 Tomas took the last chance. He was also fascinated by the 
toilet seats with nothing but a hole below.

Hi ho, hi ho, it's down the cave we go!

(Click to enlarge.) Here are some of the formations we saw.
I wish I knew how to photograph them to capture all the colors 
how they appeared in real life.

And, next we have the Great Heart of Mt. Timpanogos, the most famous formation. It consists of several stalactites that joined together to create a massive formation which looks like a heart. From behind, they light it with a red light. My photos of the heart when the red light was on didn't turn out well, so I used a little Photoshop magic.

Now, that's better. I'd thought about
adding some dripping blood, but that's
kind of gross.

 Rob and I were constantly lagging far behind
the group because we were taking pictures.

Beginning the descent, which, by the way, was a killer on one
of those big tendon on the back of my left knee. 

 Tomas was a little disappointed we didn't see any rattlesnakes

On the drive back, I could tell everyone had a great time because 1) the boys were animately talking and laughing and 2) there was that smell in the van of sweaty boys who had fun. It was completely worth the sore butt muscles I have today. Speaking of which...

Tomas found this formation.