Sunday, August 23, 2009

Aiden's 7th Birthday!

Aiden turned 7 on August 22nd! He was so excited he could hardly sleep. I could hear him singing in his bed some song he made up about his birthday and turning 7! Since he didn't fall asleep until 9:30p.m. I thought for sure he would sleep in. But much to my displeasure I was woken up at 6a.m. to Aiden saying "I'm the birthday boy, it's my birthday! I'm 7 now!"Since his birthday was on a Saturday we planned his party on his birthday. Unfortunately, his party was scheduled for 4pm so it was a very long wait for Aiden. Although, we had planned on giving him his birthday present after his party we decided it would be best to give it to him in the morning so he would have something to occupy his time! Trent went and picked up the present from his dad's house and snuck it upstairs into Aiden's room. When Trent came back downstairs he said to Aiden "I think I heard a mouse in your room. There were some scratching noises coming from inside your walls." Aiden was freaked out and curious so we all ran upstairs to check it out. Aiden saw the cage sitting on his desk but since he didn't see his new pet he was just confused. Trent told him that he got the cage to trap the mouse and Aiden seemed to believe him. So we looked around for a mouse for a couple of minutes and then Trent opened up the cage and pulled a guinea pig from out of its tunnel. Aiden was ecstatic! He told us it was the best present ever! He named his new pet Bugsy after the guinea pig in Bedtime Stories and its his new best friend. We all took turns holding Bugsy all day long and we are all smitten! Now Anna wants one for her birthday!

For Aiden's birthday we planned a mini carnival! At Hobby Lobby I purchased carnival tent invites, popcorn boxes, tickets, hot dog holders, and all carnival themed accessories! I figured if we kept it small and made all of our own games it would be a reasonably priced party. But of course as the planning process took place I recruited Trent to make some more elaborate games and I went overboard on the decorations and prizes! We had a fishing game, and a ring toss, a golfing game, the toilet toss (in which you have to throw a toilet paper roll into a large toilet Trent made) and a lollipop tree (which was literally a large tree Trent made with holes for suckers). We also had Aiden's grammie doing face painting! The food was very simple as we just served popcorn, lemonade and hot dogs. But the exciting part was the hot dogs were served in the front yard of our home by a real hot dog vendor (my neighbor Shelly's brother)! My mom made the cupcakes (or bought cupcakes and then improved them) and she put them on a board she decorated to make the cupcakes look like a bunch of balloons! Of course Aiden got everything he ever wanted! He got lots of Baku-gan and transformers and a fishing pole! He also got a rip stick which is a skateboard with only 2 wheels which takes a lot of balance and core strength and hours of practice! Overall it was a great party. And although it was a lot of work for a 2 hour party it was worth it! Aiden thanked us a billion times and told us it was the BEST birthday ever!
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First Day of School

As difficult as it is to believe, Anna had her 1st day of Kindergarten and Aiden started 2nd grade. The summer just flew by and so has the last 7 years. Anna has been waiting to go the kindergarten since Aiden started school, so it was very exciting that it was finally time. That first morning they woke up at 5:30am got dressed, brushed their teeth, made their beds and came downstairs ready to go! I woke up to Aiden saying "what time do we leave for school". He was a little disappointed when I told him, not for 3 hours! With that much time we were able to have a great breakfast, watch a show and make sure they looked their very best. I took them in to school so I could get lots of pictures and make sure that Anna was going to be okay. When I took her to her classroom she found her desk, sat down and said "bye, mom". I was shocked! I expected a completely different scene which included me having to pull each of her arms off from around my leg and convincing her I would be back before she knew it. But instead she barely even acknowledged me as I tried to pull myself away from her! I waited at the door for a few minutes just to confirm that she was really okay and that she didn't change her mind that she still needed me but she was completely fine. I walked Aiden over to his room and his class was all lined up. In front of the line were 3 boys who reminded me a lot of Aiden. They had plenty of energy and were goofing around with each other as they waited for the teacher. Aiden saw them, walked to the back of the line and looking at the ground whispered to himself "stay away from them, stay away from them"! He knows the expectations at his new school are high and he has been preparing himself for a great year! He has even memorized the first few classroom rules; including following directions the FIRST time given, keeping hands and feet to himself, staying in his seat and only speaking when called on (all areas he struggles with :) So I thought it was remarkable that he decided first thing that he should avoid all temptation to goof around!

It was a long and difficult decision to choose where they were going to school. I wanted them to go to their home school, Entz, so they could go to school with kids in the neighborhood, but I also loved the idea of having them at Highland Park in Gilbert where I work. At the same time I had heard amazing things about Challenger Basic School, a charter school in Gilbert. The advantage for taking them to Challenger was their cutoff for entering kindergarten was the end of September where the other districts was September 1st. So with Anna's birthday being September 26th it would be easier getting her into Challenger. Or so I thought. When I contacted Challenger I found out they had a very long waiting list. Since we didn't expect them to get in there we decided to do early testing for Anna so she could go to Entz. While we were waiting to hear back from Mesa, we got a call that Anna had been drawn in the lottery for admittance to Challenger (later I found out there were over a hundred names on that list). They still didn't have a spot for Aiden, but I went ahead and signed Anna up. Aiden was going to have an incredible teacher at Highland Park, a young, new, male teacher that everyone wanted so I was okay with having him go with me. But just a week before school started Challenger called and a spot had opened up for Aiden. We left the decision up to Aiden and he wanted to go to school with Anna so we enrolled him at Challenger as well.

Even though it has only been a couple of weeks, I know that everything happens for a reason. Challenger is an amazing school and we are very fortunate that Aiden and Anna are able to go there. Anna has learned so much already and she has made lots of new friends. She loves her teacher and art class! The first few days I picked her up she was beyond exhausted. It is a very long day and with everything they do she is drained when she comes home. But after a quick snack she is ready to do her homework and always finds the energy to play with her friends. I have been concerned that she will have some difficulty because she is only 4 but her teacher emailed me after the first week and said she is doing great! Aiden is also doing amazing and is absolutely thriving in school. The very structured enviornment and back to basics academic approach is a great fit for him. He told me on day 4, "I love my new school, I never want to leave. I love the math, writing and reading!" But even with all that love he was still struggling with following the class rules. Unfortunately for Aiden he was given my gift of gab and he has a difficult time sitting still and not talking to everyone around him. In his class when you break a rule you have to turn your card. So for one offense you turn it to yellow, for a second red, etc. He was able to get a green card the first day (I found out later that it was probably because the teacher didn't turn any students card the first day :) but then every day after he came home with a yellow or red card. I knew he was doing his very best but a lot of it is just his genetic makeup. So on day 6 I took him into my bedroom before school and had him kneel down with me and we said a prayer that he would be able to do well, stay still and focused and be able to control his need to talk. When I picked him up that day he was beside himself. He ran over to me and shouted "I got a green card"! On the way home we talked about what he did differently and he said "I prayed". He truly had a testimony of the power of prayer. He knew he was successful because he asked for Heavenly Fathers help. In that moment I was just as grateful for Aiden's abundant faith as I was for his green card. Everyday since he has reminded me that we need to have our morning prayer together. One morning we were in the car on the way to school when he remembered. I told him to go ahead and say his prayer while I was driving and he thought that was just great. Last week he got 4 out of 5 green cards! That's better than most of last year :) Each and everyday I asked him why he was able to do so well and he answered the same, "because I prayed".

Girls Camp

When I purchased the Cricut with my hard earned birthday money I promised a portion of the machine to my mom as her Mother's Day present! Well, she cashed in that promise when she asked me to help her decorate pillow cases for her young women going to girls camp. We had seen on an infomercial that the Cricut can cut fabric. So I googled for tips and found a nicely made You Tube video demonstrating the "how to". For the Cricut blade to cut the fabric you need to iron on "Seam 2 Seam" (iron on transfer paper) to the wrong side of the fabric. Depending on the fabric it typically works best if you put the fabric side down, as the blade cuts smoother through the iron on paper. But if you do this than you have to flip your image. Of course when cutting over a 100 letters there were plenty of mistakes and costly errors along the way but we eventually found what worked best. The fabric type we chose had a hard time sticking to the Cricut mat so we had to do the transfer paper down and fabric side up. In order for this to work we had to replace the needle twice because once it became dull it snagged the fabric as it cut. After completing this project (28 pillow cases total!) I have officially decided that the Cricut should not be used to cut fabric in bulk! One little cupcake or lady bug here and there is fine but it wasn't made to reproduce a 150 fabric letters!

Their girls camp theme was "In Tune" and each ward had a musical for their ward's theme. My mom's was Annie. She came up with the very clever "The sun'll come out tomorrow..." to add to the pillow case. For that we used the Cricut to cut the words on freezer paper (found in the aisle next to foil and plastic wrap). The shiny side of the freezer paper acts as a temporary adhesive when it is ironed. So I cut 24 stencils with this quote and the girls ironed it to their pillow case and then painted it. After it dries you just peel off the stencil and throw it away. Again this was time consuming so unless you have lots and lots of time (as I was fortunate to have since I was off work for the summer) it is not recommened for large projects!

My mom also had us make drawstring backpacks for each girl. She brought me one that was done by the previous YW president in her ward and I also googled and found step by step instructions on a very helpful website
The backpacks are very simple to make and turned out darling. I may make these again as a gift bag for Anna's birthday. To add the name to each backpack we used fabric iron on transfer paper than can go through an inkjet printer. We were able to print each girls name on this paper and then cut them into little squares. After we ironed them onto the backpack I just stitched around the name. I am not the best seamstress so if I can do this anyone can.

All in all I was so excited to have the time to help my mom and of course I love crafting so it was fun to have a project. I know her girls appreciated everything she did for them and of course that makes it all worth it. My mom is a great example of fulfilling her calling to the max and I know she gave her girls a memorable camp expeirence. She is the busiest person in the world and she still goes beyond what is asked of her. The theme of my blog "Our Very Best" comes from a talk given by President Hinckley when he said "When I say do your best, I mean your very best. You are capable of so much more." I know my mom follows this advice as she always 110% to everything she does.