Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's day

IMAG1027 by jbellis
IMAG1027, a photo by jbellis on Flickr.
Rachel made some questions for the kids to fill out on Father's day. (She is clever about helping them make something special for Dad.) A sampling:

My dad's favorite thing is to work by himself.  (Isaac gets kicked out of my bedroom office for disturbing the peace more than anyone else.)

My dad is special because he's my only Dad.

My dad's favorite thing is us.

When Dad works he puts on music.  (It's hard to explain to kids what I do.)

One thing I learned from Dad was [blank].

(Does not know what my favorite thing or food might be, but has an extremely long answer for "I have a great joke for him.)

One thing I learned from Dad was if you're going to eavesdrop, listen to the whole conversation.  (I got this from my father.  It's so annoying when they interrupt to ask a question you already answered!)

All three kids put their nickname as the thing that Dad always says.

Sunday, June 09, 2013


Isaac and Corinna enjoyed having grandpa come for a visit.  Here they have him trapped.

While here, he and Christine watched 50 anime episodes together.  He really wanted to finish the series with her before going home and the last few days were intense.  After they finished the series, Christine flopped onto the bed and said, "I don't think I want to watch anything for maybe a month."  

It wasn't all anime, while here Dad and Christine leveled and built a platform for my new soon to be constructed shed.  They also hung an outdoor retractable clothesline, mounted a flag pole bracket, and hose holder into the stone of the house.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Matthew's tent

In February Matthew saved up his money to buy a tent.  He is as into camping and outdoor activities as his father is not.  Perhaps it is his form of rebellion?  Haha.  Anyway, after he bought the tent he could not wait to try it out.  Never mind that it was the coldest month in Texas and the temperature was in the mid 30s at night.  

He figured out how to set it up himself and has spent many weekend nights "camping."  However he likes company and can usually persuade Melissa or Isaac to join him.  A few times it dropped to freezing and I'd check on the kids to make sure they were toasty warm in their sleeping bags.   Only once did they come inside because it got too cold in the night.  

New wheels

Wednesday we bought a new car.  We originally planned to have Matthew drive the minivan as a beater car when he got his learner's permit in a few more years, but our plans changed.

We bought a 2011 Buick Enclave.  It's a nice ride.  It is quiet, has nice acceleration, and handles nearly as easily as the minivan.  The only drawback is it doesn't have the storage capacity as the Odyssey.  That and it is definitely not a teen practice car.

Kitchen Remodel Part 2

Monday the wrecking crew arrived and took out the countertops, lowered the raised split level counter, removed two of the cabinets, the florescent light, and the tile backsplash.  The electrician installed 5 canned lights and a box to put in a pennant light later.

I forgot to get pictures after Mondays work, but on Thursday the counter guys installed the granite.  I love the new counters!

We discovered that the "broken" microwave does indeed work.  The previous owners told us it was broken, but it was never plugged in!  How and why they didn't discover this in the 15 years they lived here, I'll never know.  Then again, they put up with a broken, leaking kitchen faucet for long enough to cause water damage below the cabinet.  Also they never updated the early model "low flush" toilets that just don't work.  Those were two of my first projects upon moving into the house.

The kitchen table is a mess, but it will probably be that way until the work is done.

Friday the plumber arrived and hooked up the faucet, dishwasher, disposal, and gas line for my new oven.  Hooray for a sink! Washing dishes in the bathtub is awkward.  

Swim Party

After the festivities at school on May 31st, Melissa had her birthday swim party.  It was supposed to be for the weekend prior, but big thunderstorms rolled in that weekend.  We had to reschedule.

The day of her party was perfect, however.  It was in the 90s with a light breeze.  Grandpa Ellis and Aunt Christine acted as lifeguards for the pool.  Thank you both!  Unfortunately I don't have a picture of them.  However, here are some of Melissa's friends enjoying the water.

Matthew volunteered to light the candles.

We had 5 large pizzas, a watermelon, chocolate cake and 16 blueberry cupcakes.  We ended with a sliver of watermelon, 3 pieces of pizza, and 3 cupcakes.  Melissa's friends had good appetites!

The birthday girl enjoying her cake!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Last Day of School

Was actually last Friday...

and now it is Summer!  I'm going to sound like an old person, but kids these days don't know how good they have it.  When I was in elementary school, on our last day of school our principal showed a movie to the entire school.  It was the same movie every year and that was the sum of the festivities.  Still that's cool right?

Wrong!  His favorite movie was Old Yeller.  We'd watch the kid shoot his beloved dog and we'd leave the school somewhat depressed.  Have a great summer kids!

Isaac's class had a watermelon party one day and an ice cream party on the last day. He finished his year in the Pear preschool.  His teacher was Ms. Diane again this year and his vocabulary and sentence structure really improved phenomenally!  We are so pleased with the progress he is making.

Isaac could technically go on the kindergarten since he would just squeak by to make the cutoff, but we're going to hold him back so he can continue to focus on his speech.  Otherwise he'd be the youngest in the classroom and probably the least articulate.  That would be a frustrating combination for him.  Next year he will be moved to the Apple classroom to focus primarily on his articulation.  Consequently he will have a new teacher and speech therapist, but he will be able to wave to Ms. Diane and visit her.  She really adored Isaac and the feeling was mutual.  He'd give her a hug goodbye and on a few occasions told her, "I wuv you Ms. Diane!"  Melted her heart.  He's a charmer.

Isaac and Ms. Diane

Isaac also said goodbye to Ms. Natalie, the teacher's aid in the classroom.

The last day of school is essentially a play day.  I volunteered to help with the second grade festivities.  One of the parents brought in food native to her country, Saudi Arabia.  She brought a massive pan of seasoned rice and chicken, hummus, and a seasoned salad.  It was amazingly good!  Then the party got in full swing.  There was a hulu hoop and limbo station, dance party, snack room, water balloon catch, and water games.  The kids had a blast, naturally.

Melissa with Ms. Holcek

After the second grade party wound down, the fourth graders started their fun and games.  Melissa came with me and joined the fourth graders ice cream sundae party.  Here's Matthew with Mr. Grubb.  Mr. Grubb, really enjoyed the 10 year olds, and had very fun lessons.  In one they learned about prey and predators and camouflaged themselves in the classroom.  Some of the kids got really creative in matching their clothes with the backgrounds!  One wag decided to use imitation and dressed like and posed at the whiteboard with Mr. Grubb.  Every day Matthew's teacher played basketball with the kids at recess.  He was really a fun teacher!

Matthew with Mr. Grubb

Matthew enjoyed having a male teacher.  I think it's good for boys to have men in school so they can see learning and education as something for them too and not just something for girls and women.

Now back to the class parties!  After the ice cream sundae social, the fourth graders played human foosball.  Melissa and I left early because we had to dash back home to prepare for her pool party, but that is for another post.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Kitchen Remodel Part 1

Our kitchen was stuck in early 90s "country kitchen" and I wanted to update it a bit.  Additionally our oven is a 3/4 size oven and tends to burn things and undercook them at the same time and it leaks heat from the top.  Crappy oven!

Here is the kitchen prior to the madness that is remodeling:
Note the large overhead florescent light.  Blech. 

I liked the house, but the kitchen just didn't feel like *my* kitchen.

Take a picture of me!  Take a picture of me!

Yep, very country.  
 Kindly disregard the mess that is my backyard at the moment.  

I am planning to put in new counter-tops, new doors on the cupboards, replace the florescent light with pennant lights, strip the wallpaper and paint the walls, get a new oven, new dishwasher, remove and replace the tiles, and get rid of the doors leading to the front room.  I hired a contractor who was also an old neighbor of ours.  I'll update the blog as the kitchen develops!  

Monday, June 03, 2013

End of the Road

Yesterday on the way home from church we were rear-ended at a red light.  It was early afternoon and the kids were sleepy.  The drive had been peaceful up till that point.  We were on Parmer, which is like a freeway with a 60 mph speed limit.  The other driver smashed into us, careened into a sign and finally came to a rest in the median.  Jonathan was driving, and I turned my head to check on Corinna who had just fallen asleep when BAM! Our car lurched forward into the intersection.  Jonathan was able to safely pull it to the right side of the road about 150 yards from the intersection.  The impact turned the back glass to powder and the kids jolted awake screaming and crying.

We are OKAY.  Mostly.

Melissa hurt her hip and had a mild bloody nose, Matthew complains today of some neck stiffness, and Jonathan and I are both a little sore too.  I think I pulled a muscle in my neck due to having it craned to the side when the impact happened.

The other driver left in an ambulance.  We hope and pray she is okay.  We saw her get out of the car, but we could not cross the busy road.  Just minutes later, EMS pulled up and she was whisked away.  We don't have any other details.

A good Samaritan saw the accident with her kids and pulled over to help us.  She stayed with us until the EMS and police arrived and then took our older three children back home.  The kids were pretty traumatized and were glad to get back to the house to Grandma and Grandpa Ellis.  Unfortunately Jonathan's parents couldn't pick us up because Jonathan's car only seats 2.  Someone in a white shirt and tie from the stake saw us and pulled over.  He asked if there was anything he could do, did we need a ride, and were we by chance Mormon?  At that point I had already called a friend and he was on his way, but it was nice that so many good people were looking after us.

The kids are already putting in their feature requests for a new car.  Mainly they are interested in a DVD player.  Today we picked up a behemoth SUV rental car since the company was out of minivans.  The good news is the other driver's insurance is covering the cost of the rental.  The bad news is they only cover it until the car is "fixed" or declared a total loss.  The agent said that our car would likely be declared a loss tomorrow so after that the rental cost is on us until we can find another car.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Melissa's baptism

Today was Melissa's baptism.  She was baptized by her father and confirmed by her grandfather.  Grandpa and Grandma Ellis, Uncle Frank, and Aunt Christine were there as well as her best friend Abbey.  

 Our beautiful little girl is growing up!  And she is making covenants.

In our stake there are a lot of children so they have a stake baptism day once a month.  There were 12 children being baptized today, consequently the chapel was filled with families.  Fortunately, they divided up the baptisms and had only a few children at the font at a time.  Melissa came out of the water beaming!  "I got baptized!"  Her confirmation took place in a small room with just family and friends.  The primary president, also named Melissa (much to Melissa's delight), presented her with a white towel.