Elias and Simon have save, spend, and give jars as part of their education about money. They get a small “allowance” each week in which they are required to put one quarter in each of the jars, and the final quarter can go in the jar of their choice. They also have a sticker chart each week which helps them earn more moolah. On the sticker chart are skills we want them to work on, or habits we want to help them form. They can choose where to put that money as well.

At first, the save jar never seemed very glamorous to either of the boys. I noticed that not much of the choice money ever went in there. However, when I actually had them set a goal for where to spend the money, they did actually start “saving.” The first thing they saved for was a trip to the Wings and Waves water park. They saved enough for their own admission, and we went last April. After that, I had them set a new goal, and they said they wanted to save enough to go bowling at Big Al’s so that they could play two games and also go to the arcade. They both saved enough, and have been begging to go so we finally found a free evening to head over the the bowling alley.

We ended up staying out almost an hour past bedtime…but it’s almost summer anyway, right? They boys had a blast both at bowling and at the arcade, and the best part is that they paid their own way. It’s nice to see them reap the rewards of their saving.

Poor Caleb was pretty miserable the whole time, though. He was just along for the ride because he is too small to bowl (although he was so upset that we did bend the rules and let him push the ball off the ramp a couple of times). Saying I’ve never seen Caleb cry so hard would be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was close. He was super distraught that he couldn’t lift the balls and we wouldn’t let him down the lane. He is really good with facial expressions these days:

Next time we will have to find a babysitter so he doesn’t have to go through the torture!


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Family Time

We had a very full weekend with lots of family time. We started out by picking Elias up from school on Friday and driving straight to Ridgefield, WA, just north of Vancouver. Yes. We made that drive on a Friday. We’re crazy! But it was for a good reason! My cousin’s daughter graduated from high school and we went to celebrate. A few other family members from Hawaii came over, and all of us Oregonians.

On Sunday, we started out with a very long church service, in which we had to say goodbye to our music director. As members of the bell choir, Nathan and I played during the service. From there we drove straight down to Salem to take Great Grandma out to lunch for her 87th birthday. The boys each made her a card. Elias said that 87 is pretty good, but he knows someone else who just turned 94 so that is more amazing. We got to take Great Grandma out to the Olive Garden, somewhere she’s been wanting to visit for awhile.

After lunch, we got to meet Grandpa’s new dog, Phoebe. She has a very sweet temperament, and even tolerated Caleb petting her. She even gave him a kiss on the cheek! He was thrilled, but I don’t think he understood that she was a dog. He kept saying “kitty.” The size is comparable to our cats, so I’ll give him credit.

After the dog visit we drove back up to Portland, to my parents’ house to visit with my aunt and uncle from Hawaii for a bit. We always love seeing them, and Elias and Simon warmed up quite a bit by the end.

My parents took us all out to the Spaghetti Factory which was super nice, but the boys were never letting us hear the end of going out to two restaurants in one day.

All in all it was one of the best weekends we’ve had in a long time, but I’ll be looking forward to some down time this week!

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Driftwood Shores – Year 3

Over Memorial Day weekend we made our third annual trip down to Florence, Oregon for some family fun. The four hour drive (which is more like 5 with small children) seems like a lot just to go to the beach, but once we are there we always find it is worth it. My parents found the Driftwood Shores about 4 years ago and thought it would be a fun place to take the kids. The hotel is right on the beach, and they have a great kid-friendly indoor swimming pool for a more realistic swimming option. The weather was ok – cloudy and low 60’s, but the ocean feels frigid!

We arrived pretty late Friday night and the boys were pretty wound up so we let them stay up for a bit before trying to put them to bed. It’s vacation after all – they could sleep in, right? Let’s just say they chose not to sleep in. We woke up bright and early on Saturday and started out at the swimming pool. During Caleb’s nap in the afternoon, we took the older boys out to the beach. We weren’t planning on them getting in the water, but I guess it was irresistible.

At one point during their fun, Simon tripped and fell face first in the surf. I thought he’d just get right back up, but a combination of waves came, and he just couldn’t. His giggles quickly turned to terrified screams as the freezing waves kept crashing over him. I ran in a pulled him up on his feet…and even got the whole thing on video…complete with my evil mom giggle at the end. I felt bad laughing at him when he was dripping and scared, but I just found the situation funny for some reason.

He was a good sport, though, and happily played more in the surf after that even though he was dripping wet and sandy.

After cleaning up with their second bath of the day, we drove into Florence where the boys got a treat and a new sweatshirt from my mom since their fleeces were sopping wet and sandy. Caleb got to try his first fudge:

Saturday night we just hung out together until bed time. After the boys were in bed, the grown ups played pinochle.

For those of you who don’t play pinochle, that was a run and 1000 aces…something many people probably never see in their lifetime. Nathan was quite pleased with himself.

On Sunday we just took it easy. We started the day with swimming again, and then went to play on the beach in the afternoon. This time we took Caleb, and we had all of the boys in swim trunks just in case they got wet. They enjoyed digging holes and burying themselves in the sand.

On the way home on Monday, we stopped at the sea lion caves. In my opinion, it was a bit spendy for what it was, but it was worth doing once. The boys were excited to really be underground. They also enjoyed climbing on the sea lion statues.

Thanks, Ama and Baba for another great weekend!

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Welcoming the Sun!

This week I feel like we’ve finally welcomed the sun back to our home. The weather was warm (almost too warm – on Monday evening Elias’ bedroom was 87 degrees when he was trying to fall asleep). But enough complaining – we are so happy to have some warm weather and beautiful blue skies.

This year we decided to splurge on a bigger kiddie-pool because the boys are getting a bit bigger. It just fits on our deck, and we were able to fill it for the first time this week. The water warmed in the sun all day while Elias was at school, and when we got home from pick-up, the boys jumped in!

We invited some of our neighbors to come swim on that first day as well. Caleb opened the air vent and partially deflated the pool. Luckily, my parents were on the way to costco anyway, and came to save us with their air pump. (Ours only works in the car so I couldn’t reinflate it without dumping all the water).

Since there were so many people in the pool, Caleb mostly just stood in the water and watched, taking it all in.

After swimming, I got out the popsicles.  Caleb reached into the box and grabbed one, and was so excited when I let him keep it. He ate his first ever popsicle, and really enjoyed it. He looked so proud with every taste.

The next day it was a bit cooler, and Elias was at a friend’s house for a play date after school. Simon and Caleb still got in the pool, though, and since there were only the two of them, Caleb was able to get in a lot more play. He “dove” for rings and torpedoes. He splashed. He followed Simon around to make a whirlpool. It was great fun!

I’m sure we’ll have many more backyard pool days to come this summer, but the first ones always seem special. Bring on summer!

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Simon’s Last Day of Preschool

Today was Simon’s last day of preschool. He was in a three’s program two mornings a week this year. If you ask him, he’ll tell you that he is so excited to be in pre-K now! He’ll be starting pre-K four mornings a week in the fall.

On Tuesday, Simon had a special program with all of his classmates. They sang songs and there was a reception afterward. It was a lot of fun.We have to say goodbye to his teacher. She has made this a very good first school experience for him.

Simon also said goodbye to some school friends. We got a super cute picture of Simon and a little girl in his class who officially asked him to be friends one day at recess. (He said yes).

Today was the last day of school, and he got to have a teddy bear tea party. He claims he tried real tea but did not like it and asked for a glass of water. We took a couple of pictures of Simon and his teddy bear before school. Caleb snuck in there for some of the photos as well.


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Raising Readers

Nathan and I have both always loved reading. Before kids I used to read over 40,000 pages a year. Let’s just say that has been drastically reduced now that I am caring for three boys. But maybe if you count the pages I read them it is close.

It’s fun to see the boys choose to read in their free time. A few days ago I was folding laundry and just letting Simon and Caleb play upstairs. (Elias was at school). When I went to check on them, this is what I found:

Simon had gotten out every book on cd and was listening. Caleb got two books off of his shelf and was making the corresponding animal sounds. It is especially fun to see Caleb fall in love with books because for a long time he didn’t have much interest in sitting still or looking at pages for longer than a second or two.

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Mothers Day Roses

A few weeks ago, in Elias’ journal, his prompt was “What would be the perfect gift to give your mother.” His answer was a rose. I thought it was pretty cute at the time. Fast forward to Mother’s Day:

My boys spoiled me for mothers day with a nice breakfast, and a rose bush. We planted the rose bush in the backyard, and are waiting for it to bloom. They chose dark purple (my favorite color). I loved it because it is a gift that will bring us beauty and life for years to come.

I’m not sure if Elias and Nathan coordinated or if it just worked out perfect. It was fun to get a rose bush when Elias thought it would be the perfect gift, and it is one of the few plants I have been able to help thrive in our yard in the last couple of years. Currently we have a red rose bush. Now, we’ll have two beautiful colors.

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Caleb – 18 Months

Caleb will be 18 months old in just a few days. It is hard to believe that an entire year and a half could have gone by already!

With Elias, 18 months old was one of my favorite ages. When Simon was this age, he really started to play with his older brother and it opened up a whole new fun world for us. Caleb at this age brings us so much joy, but I’m surprised I have any hair left because he gets into so much mischief. You’ve got to be tough with two older brothers, and Caleb certainly is. He is also creative and a good problem solver. These are qualities to be thankful for, yet sometimes I think it will drive me crazy.

A few nights ago, the older two boys were having a sleepover at Ama and Baba’s. Caleb got some mommy and daddy alone time. We ate dinner, and then went to the park to play for awhile. He was happy just to walk around in the grass and to play pretend chase.

I am so thankful to be this little guy’s mommy.

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11 Years of Marriage

Yesterday, Nathan and I celebrated 11 years of marriage. We spent the morning at the boys’ tball game, and the afternoon was spent doing some weeding and bark dust shoveling. In the evening, my parents watched the boys and put them to bed so that we could go on a date. Nathan took me to dinner, and then we went to a paint class. I’ve wanted to do a paint night for years, and it just never worked out. Finally, Nathan got me a gift certificate for Christmas, and the stars aligned to make it possible for us to go on our anniversary.

Nathan thought he might be the only man there. But art is not just for women. There were tons of men there, both old and young.

Before we began, it was quite intimidating to stare at a large white canvas. But they made it (relatively) easy, and both Nathan and I were happy with our paintings.

It was a super fun anniversary date, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

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Our Butterflies

A couple of months ago, as I was planning a children’s worship event for Holy Week, I decided I wanted to include butterflies. Real live butterflies, which are an excellent comparison with the resurrection. I started researching caterpillar/butterfly kits, and decided on one. I wrote down what day I’d have to purchase it in order to make the timing work out so that I’d have butterflies (or at least caterpillars in their chrysalis). When the time came, I ordered.

Somehow, I got the timing drastically wrong. When Holy Week came, my butterflies were still caterpillars. I lived and learned, and the caterpillars were still interesting.

My boys were lucky, though, and got to observe the whole process at home.

We received our caterpillars in the mail and they were tiny.

They ate and grew for fourteen days.

They grew and grew.

They grew some more.

Finally on day fourteen of life in the Smith house, they started to take their long sleep. They hung upside down in little “j’s”.

They shed their skin one last time, and formed a chrysalis over night. I really wish they had done this during the day so I could have seen it. I would have been glued to the jar, but I suppose it may have been more like watching a pot boil or whatever that saying is…

After three days of hanging in the cup, we transferred them to their butterfly habitat. Eventually, the first one emerged!

These, by the way, are painted lady butterflies. They look a bit like moths when their wings are folded, but they are quite bright and beautiful when they open their wings.

On Sunday, the other four emerged and we had five butterflies.

We fed them fruit and sugar water and put flowers in their habitat. We observed them for a few days.

Today was a good day to release our butterflies since it was such a beautiful day. After we walked Elias home from school we went into the backyard to let them go.

Once we were outside, they got really active so I think they were excited that they’d have more space to stretch their wings.

In case you’ve never been up close to butterflies, it is actually pretty difficult to catch a good photo with their wings open.

Two butterflies flew out right away, and two more a few minutes later. The last little guy wanted a good snack before he flew off. You can see his proboscis in the sponge drinking the sugar water.

The boys enjoyed watching him for a few more minutes.

After another minute the last butterfly flew into the air, and just like that we said goodbye. Goodbye butterflies!

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