September 30, 2008

Early Morning Exercising

Getting up early in the morning isn't such a bad thing.  Especially during the summer where the sun is up before you are.  But the seasons are changing and it stays dark for longer and longer (this is great for sleeping children who don't know it's morning until much later in the day).  When the opportunity (alarm) clock sounds in the morning it can be a challenge to reach over and turn it off let alone get out of bed and go running to the gym.
But I'm getting back on track.  I've been loafin' it for the past couple of weeks and I can really feel it now that I'm back in the gym.  But I feel much better when I exercise during the day.  So as hard as it is to get up when it's still dark, I will pay the price to exercise early in the morning.

September 29, 2008

A Perfect Evening for Roasting Marshmallows

What a perfect night to be outside! The temperature was perfect, the mosquitoes were gone, no wind, just perfect. We had our family home evening in our backyard. In fact, we had dinner there too! But before any of the fun stuff we had to clean the yard, make it presentable. We had invited a couple friends to join us for the campfire and marshmallows portion of the evening. The boys had to do their part to help clean up.

Mommy made some minor details corrections to the boy's finished product.

Everything was just so beautiful that we decided to have our dinner out on the patio. After all, you've just got to enjoy the beautiful weather while we have it. Our boys didn't think dinner was such a great idea (if we ignore it will it go away)?

One of our friends, Mark, made an immediate impression! No, he isn't trying to get David's dinner! They are just enjoying a friendly game of tag. Mark has the natural ability to entertain all our boys. For 2 hours we didn't hear a complaint out of our boys (now Donovan fell down a couple of times and wasn't too happy but he was back in the game in no time).

David and Mark worked together to start the campfire. Amazingly efficient, it only took 7 matches to start this tinderbox to blazing.

(Maybe it's just me but these flames seem just a little higher than 3 feet - the maximum flame height allowed by Provo City ordinance.)

And then I saw something that I never thought I would see in this lifetime! A Petersen who actually burnt a marshmallow! This has been one of my deep-seated fears joining the Petersen family. The expectation of marshmallow roasting perfection is just assumed and there is substantial, albeit unspoken, peer pressure to roast a perfect marshmallow that is golden brown and melted through the middle. But right there, in front of my own eyes, was a marshmallow flame! It only takes a second, a lapse in concentration, and the perfect marshmallow is no more!

Mark thought that burnt marshmallows are the only way to go and was thrilled to burn at least a half dozen which he consumed with delight.

But that started a craze with out boys. The thought of burning a marshmallow had never entered their minds, at least it hadn't before tonight. Now, it was a local pastime. (However, I think that Michael over-burnt this marshmallow by accident--it was ash with a gooey center.)

Donovan was still trying for marshmallow perfection.

Mommy had to step in with a little coaching.

It was a perfect night and we enjoyed the company of Carol Goldsberry, our long-time friend. We also had Greg Goldsberry and Leah Wood join us and the company of these three wonderful individuals made a perfect evening.

September 28, 2008

I Did Something Good...And Didn't Even Know It

I love my wife! She is truly an amazing woman. I've overheard comments about Michelle, about how she can do just about anything. Well that is no exaggeration! She really can do just about anything...not only do it but do it well. There are times when I wonder how I ever managed to con her into marrying me! I'm not always sure I'm able to measure up.

Saturday morning I went to the BYU "Lost and Found" sale to find some little treasure and maybe score a sweet deal on someone lost treasure. While I was scouting for a find Michelle called me up. I didn't mind the call but trying to hear what she had to say over the boom of the auctioneer was somewhat of a challenge. Michelle suggested that I leave the room while we talked...but with an arm full of unpaid merchandise I couldn't go very I did the best I could. Through all the noise I managed to hear that she wanted to go to women's conference in the conference center. Well how often do you get such a wonderful opportunity. Not only that but she could go with some friends! That sounded like a pretty awesome deal and she has definitely earned some time off (from the boys) for good behavior so I was excited for her to go to the meeting. I didn't think it was that big of a deal but apparently it was. I did something good...and didn't even know it!

Michelle headed off to her meeting and I had all the boys. We had a blast playing the WII, eating tomato soup for dinner, playing in the park, taking bathes and (for me) putting the boys to bed. While bathing the boys I turned on the radio for some background (soothing) noise and managed to hear President Uchtdorf talking (I was hoping that I was listening to the end of women's conference...which it was). So instead of music I turned up the volume and (tried to) listened to the talk while bathing the boys. From what I did hear it was pretty powerful and guessing it was the end of the conference I sent a text message to Michelle. She was so excited to get the message (and her friend's husbands hadn't texted them) so once again I scored some brownie points. I did something good...and didn't even know it!

This morning I got up and discovered that 3 of my boys were already awake, playing quietly downstairs. I thought it best to let well enough alone. So I tried to read the lessons for church during this moment of peace and quiet. Well the boys got hungry before I was done reading and they came searching me out. They were so polite and asked me to get them breakfast as soon as I had finished reading the section I was on. Well you just can't say 'NO' to that so I finished the section and got breakfast going (cold cereal). The boys were just about finished with breakfast when mommy woke up and came out of the bedroom. She was so excited to be able to sleep in...but not just sleep in, the boys were being taken care of so she didn't wake up to a jungle. I did something good...and didn't even know it!

I'm very excited to know that these little things have meant a lot to Michelle. I didn't do them trying to impress her, they just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I realize that there are some husbands out there who are much more sophisticated than I and would have done these thing intentionally and known they were doing something good. My greatest concern is that I miss the next opportunity, the one that really is important, because I didn't know to look for it. I feel like this happens a lot already (and I don't think I'm alone...there are probably a lot of other guys in the same boat)! On the other hand, maybe I'm starting to figure out a few of these subtle secrets to successful living. In any case, I'm excited that I got a few things right and Michelle was able to have a wonderful experience attending women's conference.

Froggy Goggles and Water Socks

Yesterday I went to BYU's "Lost and Found" sale. That's were they sell all the unclaimed lost and found items to the next generation of students so that they can lose them and start the process all over again (I'm not sure where the money goes that they earn from this sale but it seems like it should be substantial). I found a few "good" deals which I brought home with me. I found a set of unmatched baseball mitts, some headphones, a movie, some froggy goggles and water socks.

The froggy goggles and water socks were just the right size for David although I wasn't too worried because if they didn't fit him I have 3 more tries to get it right! But David has appropriated those items and really hasn't let them out of his sight since they arrived at the house. He has taken to wearing them in every situation possible. (He refers to his goggles as his "water glasses" and wants to know when we can go swimming.)  I guess he was preparing for speed in this racing photo.

You Must Learn to Crawl Before You Can Walk

We're sooo excited that Aleky is starting to crawl. With 3 older brothers to help, Aleky hasn't really felt the need to move around on his own. If he wants a toy his brothers will get it for him (sometimes it will be that toy and 12 others so that he is inundated with toys but at least he got what he wanted). If he wants to get out of his crib he calls for David (somehow, we're not sure how). Anything he needs, someone else can get it.

All 3 of his brothers were crawling much sooner in the development process than Aleky. However, we've enjoyed the fact that he doesn't move very far...that way we can find him much easier, knowing where we left him. But those days of simplicity are now over. Aleky has discovered that he can get his own toy (or in this case, my cd's) if he'll crawl to it. A new day of freedom and opportunity!

So he's not flying around the house yet, just small simple crawling "steps" forward but it is enough to make my heart burst with joy!

September 27, 2008

At The Park

Michelle had the awesome opportunity to go to the LDS women's conference tonight, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, UT! I knew she was going to attend the 6:00 meeting tonight but this morning she got a call from her mother, a relief society president in another city, who had extra tickets to attend the conference live! Of course we were both excited that she could have such an opportunity. Michelle quickly called a couple friends and they left this afternoon around 3:30-ish to get to Salt Lake City and find awesome seats before 5:30 pm.

So what do I do with 4 boys from 3:30 - 8:00 (bedtime)? First we had to get in a game on the WII. We did teams: David and the Computer vs. Khayyam and Donovan (Aleky isn't quite up to gaming yet and Michael was still sleeping for his nap). We played a quick game of Mario Party 8. David's team was winning until the last 5 rounds (when you get "Chump Charity" - an extra boost to the looser!). Then everything changed and Donovan was able to pull out a spectacular victory! David was not pleased but then he never is when he isn't completely dominating the game.

After the game the boys went out to play, Michael having awakened by this time, went too. While they were playing I had the chance to prepare dinner. While I may not be a culinary genius I think I make a pretty mean weed rat stew (actually I just open a couple cans of tomato soup, made some tang for the drink, and we're good to go). Aleky got left-over rice cereal from breakfast (yesterday). The boys downed their dinner!

Since we were done eating we cleaned up the dishes and decided to go play at the park. I figured it would be fun and the boys could burn off some of the extra energy before bedtime. So Aleky got loaded into the stroller and each boy took his scooter and we were off. David has decided that unlocking the doors and locks is his official duty (and in some cases I think he is faster than either Michelle or myself).

Granted, all the boys took off on their scooter but Michael is just getting started and isn't quite as fast as the other boys. While he was almost painfully slow he was also exceptionally cute as he mosied along.

Aleky started off seemingly content to sit in the stroller. But that effect was short lived. Just because he's been content for a full year of his life doesn't mean that things are going to stay that way. He wanted the change to move around (and eat grass, twigs, leaves and anything else he could find nearby).Naturally David has outgrown the simple uses of playground equipment. The only thrill left is the daring and exciting! So head first down the slide adds just a twinge of excitement.

Don't think for a moment that Donovan is going to be left behind! In fact, scaling the outside of anything is his new joy (it may the rock-climber coming out in him). He scales the playhouse in the backyard, the jungle gym at the playground, climbs into the swing on his own power, and the window ledges around the house.

As a result of the daring of his brothers, Michael is left to himself (mostly). So he is able to enjoy the simple pleasures in swing in a swing or sliding down a slide.

Not that he doesn't have the longing to follow his brothers, he just needs a little more maturing in that little body before he'll be able to follow.

I began to realize that it was time to go when the playground equipment was no longer entertaining any of the boys. When I found them in the trees I new it was time to go home and begin the bedtime preparations.

We came home, cleaned up the backyard, put the toys away and came in for baths. Since I'm on my own tonight we bathed in shifts. I turned on Winnie the Pooh as a distraction. As each boy finished bathing they get their pj's on and go watch the movie. That allows me just enough time to take care of the others without fearing for the welfare of the house. With a quick rotation through brushing teeth and prayers everyone is ready for bed and we can put everyone down at the same time! So even though it was almost 8:30 all the boys were down, the house was quiet and I felt like I had done a good job watching over the clan.

Michelle (and the girls) returned home safely and thoroughly enjoyed the outing. The were uplifted by the conference and energized by the association with each other. After all, that's what friends are for. However, I've gathered that there is an undercurrent of plotting and planning for additional outings and associations so I'll need to stay on guard! You never know when they'll let me have another daddy-n-sons opportunity where we can play like boys!!!!

September 26, 2008

Battle Scars

Aleky is becoming more mobile every day.  Yesterday he started off in the middle of the kitchen floor.  Not completely accustom to this mobility we didn't realize how far he had gone until we heard the thud, the scream and realized that he had found his first stair!  He now has his first battle scar...over his right eye is the little bruise (left side of the picture).  He has since recovered and is moving again!

Ice Cream and a Movie

We feel very fortunate to discover that Coldstone was giving away free ice cream.  How often does that happen?  So we decided to make a night of it with the family.  We made a speedy trip to our nearest Coldstone Ice Cream store, had some yummy ice cream and then headed off for the movies!
The boys were excited to see a movie at the theater.  It isn't a regular occurrence at our house.  Mostly we just don't keep up with all the cool new movies that are coming out so we find out about them when they get to the discount theater in town.  But that's just fine with me.

The theater was far from being a packed house.  The other dozen people in the audience had plenty of chairs to choose from .  We were excited about that because all of our boys could sit in their own seat and still be able to see the screen.  Aleky isn't a movie-goer yet; he slept through the entire movie, waking just in time for the credits!

The movie was "Kung Fu Panda" and the boys were excited to see some great karate (even if the panda had to grow into his own)!

September 24, 2008

Learning to Make Fire!

David really enjoyed the s'more fest that we had on Sunday and has wanted to do it again (even before the first one had ended!). He has discovered that he can light the "fire gun" on his own (in spite of the child safety features). We caught him lighting sticks on fire last night and confiscated the weapon from him (which sent him fleeing inside, weeping as if the world was ending).

Today he came down to my office as soon as I had returned from business around town and asked if he could make a fire.  I thought that would be okay.  Then he wanted to use the "knife" to make firewood.  I decided that this project should be done with supervision.  So we brought out the hatchet and let him go to town.  He chopped his finger a couple of times and figured out that it hurt and decided to be much more gentle and a little bit more careful.

His first attempt at building a "log cabin" was going to win any awards let alone start a fire.  But with a little bit of help he was able to redesign the log cabin to something a little more flammable.

Now he just need to get his hands on the "fire gun" and his plan for starting a fire would be able to unfold.  But where could it be?  It was truly a mystery...however we did finally discover the whereabouts of the missing fire gun.  Instead of being in the BBQ box it had fallen on the ground behind some other things.

With the flammable weekly ads crumpled beneath the log cabin it only took 3 tries to get the fire going!

His brothers watch anxiously to be able to rejoice in David's success...but the fire seemed a bit elusive.  Undaunted, he tried...and tried...and tried until he was successful.  After dinner the boys were able to roast their own marshmallows.  Michael would have nothing to do with dinner and had to forego the marshmallow dessert.  So he decided to play with the fire instead.

Aleky joined the party and enjoyed a nice, calm evening by the crackling fire.  David and Donovan enjoyed at least 5 marshmallows each.  Michael discovered that the fire is HOT!

September 22, 2008

S'more Fest...A Great Success!

We are still elated from a wonderful turn-out at our s'more fest on Sunday!  Even though we've lived in the neighborhoods for nearly 3 years we are still trying to meet our neighbors and get to know the people in our community.  So we decided to have a little get-together and invite our neighborhood.  (Besides...Michelle loves to throw parties!)  So we took part of Saturday afternoon to alert the neighborhood to the pending festivities...
But let's face it, putting a flyer on everyone's door is just too much work for any one person.  So we made the boys do it.  They were excited to put the flyers on the doors and they wanted to run, so...

There you go.  We managed to flyer nearly every door!  But even our boys were getting tired by the end.  After about 2.5 hours we missed one street...but we're too tired to worry about it too much.

All day Sunday our boys were so excited for the marshmallow party.  They knew they had to be good so that they could be at the party...maybe that's why they were so reverent at church (hmmmm...).  After dinner the boys were ready to get the party started.  David found the magic match and decided to get warmed up with a little practice fire-starting.

Having sufficiently prepared himself with a single stick he decided it was time to go for the whole bon fire.  With just a little extra help he tried to start the camp fire.  It smoked a lot but didn't produce quite the flame we were hoping for...

Fortunately help had arrived, and with the experience that comes with age, we had our fire in no time.

The kids had a blast.  While is was still Sunday, they kids just enjoyed they beautiful weather, the park and the playground equipment.  With virtually no parental monitoring  (they were to busy talking to their friends) the kids got along great, watched out for each other and played uninterrupted until the marshmallows and chocolate was unveiled.

We were very impressed with all the people who showed up to have a s'more.  We had friends, friends of friends, neighbors, and more stop by our gate.  It was just a blast having people show up and make us feel neighborly.

While we have no official count we do know that generally people were having a good time.  We started at 6:00 pm and the last people to leave the fire pit left around 9:30 pm.  For some it was a great introduction to the neighborhood and for others it was a farewell.  But we are grateful to everyone who showed up and shared in a wonderful, neighborly, beautiful Sunday evening.

(Thanks to Michelle Argyle for the 1st picture of the S'more! )