Calm before the storm

So the next few weeks are going to be a bit crazy around here with me heading out to my semi annual CHREC meeting (in Albuquerque this time) and then out to scout camp the next week. This week was a good, normal week and we were able to recharge our batteries a bit to get ready for what’s coming.

01 James has started feeding himself
James started insisting that he feed himself this week.

Because of the normalcy of this week, there isn’t a lot notable to talk about. Probably the most interesting thing that happened this week was that James had a bit of a fever for a few days. We’re pretty sure it was just teething because he’s been working on some molars lately. It was still hard to have him not feeling well.

02 James was so proud of this thing he made
James is getting better and better at making lego things. He made this all by himself.

Eliza also got some 24 hour bug on Thursday. She woke up and wasn’t feeling well. She didn’t eat much breakfast and then threw up soon after she ate. She rested on the couch the rest of the day. When I got home from work, she tried to be her normal happy self but just wasn’t up to it and had to lie down again. She had had a hard night the night before also and hadn’t slept much. On Friday she was feeling pretty much better but had a hard time sleeping that night also. Saturday she was back to her normal happy self and was just as cheerful as can be.

03 Eliza made a swimming pool
Eliza made this swimming pool and they were swimming in it.
04 James chasing my watch reflection
James thought it was great fun to chase the light reflecting from my watch.
05 Kids reading
We found them here just reading books. That’s my kids!

Oh yeah, Monday was Memorial Day. We spent the day in true Arnesen style working around the house. The goal was to do some yard work but it was too rainy so we dusted, vacuumed the cobwebs, vacuumed all the floors, and did some other cleaning. Eliza wanted to watch “Music Man” so after we were done cleaning we let her and James have some popcorn and watch that. In the evening we went over to our friends house to give then a frozen meal because they had a baby coming this week. They invited us in for home made ice cream to top off our Day.

Eliza wanted to help vacuum the floor so she got to do part of mommy and daddy's room.
Eliza wanted to help vacuum the floor so she got to do part of mommy and daddy’s room.

Friday night was James and my first Father’s and Son’s activity. Our ward didn’t do a camp this time but just opted for an evening activity. It was held at Berry Springs park which is just a short drive up the toll road in Georgetown. We had fried chicken and mashed potatoes to eat. James and I played on the playground that they had there and had a grand time. It was fun to just have some time with him but he was definitely missing mommy and Eliza. He kept asking where Eliza was and wanting her to help him do things.

James found a stick and started banging on this ladder and making all kinds of glorious noise.
James found a stick and started banging on this ladder and making all kinds of glorious noise.
The best part of the night was ice cream sandwiches.
The best part of the night was ice cream sandwiches.

While James and I were at the activity, Sarah and Eliza had a little date also. They went to Chick Fil’a for dinner and then Eliza wanted to go shopping so they went to Walmart and got some fun socks and some fingernail polish. James and I actually got home before they did so we read some books while the girls did their nails. Eliza was so excited about her nails and James didn’t understand why he couldn’t get his nails painted too.

Mommy and Eliza had some girl time and did nails.
Mommy and Eliza had some girl time and did nails.

We did get quite a bit of rain this week. It rained basically every night and usually had some pretty good lightning to go along with it. The yard was so wet that I couldn’t mow the corner of the back yard yesterday because it was still under 2 inches of water. This week is supposed to be dryer so that will be a nice change of pace. We’re really grateful for the rain after the years of drought we’ve been having. Our two main lakes are near or over 100% and they have had to release water downstream several times.

Sarah taught a lesson in church about honesty this week.
Sarah taught a lesson in church about honesty this week.

Eliza also had her last swimming lesson on Wednesday. She has absolutely loved her swimming class and we are so grateful for Sister Scott for teaching her and working hard with her. We were able to get her some nice flotation things to wear while she continues to gain confidence. It’s fun to see her learning so much.

Breaking Rain

So this was supposed to be our normal week after all of our traveling and travel recovery. We were even going to get back into the mode of exercising. All of that came crashing down when Sarah’s bathroom drawer crashed down on her big toe and fractured it in at least three places. It hurt so so bad. I’ve never seen Sarah in such pain as she was Monday morning (and I’ve seen her give birth twice). We got the kids up really quick and went over to the urgent care to have it looked at. After the x-rays came back sure enough it was broken. We got a boot for her and went home to setup an appointment with an orthopedic doctor for later in the day. I stayed home from work that day so Sarah could stay off the foot and not have to do anything. We went to the orthopedic in the afternoon and luckily one of our good friends was able to watch the kids so they weren’t wreaking havoc on the doctor’s office. The doctor was really nice and after relieving some pressure in her toe he told us to come back in 3 weeks to have it looked at again. Sarah was in considerable pain the rest of that day.

Eliza and James waiting for mommy to see the doctor at the urgent care.
Eliza and James waiting for mommy to see the doctor at the urgent care.

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we took it easy at home. We had a lot of rain those days. On Tuesday I got to take Eliza to her swimming lesson which was a lot of fun for me. It was pretty cold that morning but she was excited to show me how she could swim all around in the pool. She has started doing a really good job. Her teacher offered to give her an extra week of lessons because she is so close to getting over the hill to swimming without support. It is fun to see her work at something and get better at it.

Eliza and James had a lot of time to play inside this week with all the rain and because Sarah wasn’t up to getting out very much with her toe. They played with the Legos a lot and built all sorts of fun things. Eliza is a great little builder and has a great imagination. She makes farms, ovens, airplanes, trains and all sorts of other things. James started picking up on how to build things this week too and he has started to make his own little creations also. He loves doing whatever Eliza does.

Eliza making a duplo farm.
Eliza making a duplo farm.
Eliza made this tower taller than she is.
Eliza made this tower taller than she is.
James is building things.
James is building things.

Friday started to get crazy again. Sarah’s toe had some swelling from bleeding under her nail (don’t worry no pictures of this) and we had to get her back into the doctor so they could drain it and remove pressure on her toe. The problem was that the doctor wasn’t available until the afternoon and I had a scout camp to get to. Sarah was amazing and got the kids to swimming lessons and visiting teaching in the morning all by herself and then drove to the doctor where I met her. I took the kids back home and grabbed my camping gear and then went to the church to meet the scouts. Sarah met me there again and took the kids home. She was super tired and just crashed that night while I was camping.

The pink fairy!
The pink fairy!
Milk and scriptures at the end of a long day.
Milk and scriptures at the end of a long day.

We camped with the scouts at Granger Lake which is about 20 minutes north of our house. Because of all the rain this week the lake had risen considerably and the trail was completely covered after about the first mile. We had to bush-wack our way around for a while until we found another path. The boys were planning on doing wilderness survival where they have to stay in a shelter that they make overnight. I’m not sure if what they “made” really counts as a shelter, more like a scout sandwich on tarps, but they did stay in it overnight. We had a good time and the boys were happy that they did a hard thing. After I got back from camping, I went straight over to help a brother in the ward move 2 tons (literally) of rock and dirt to his back yard for his garden. After all that, I came home and mowed and trimmed our yard and took Eliza grocery shopping. I was exhausted and Sarah and I both just crashed Saturday night.

I love spending time with the scouts. Backpacking is one of my favorite things to do with them.
I love spending time with the scouts. Backpacking is one of my favorite things to do with them.
Eliza and James watching daddy mow the lawn.
Eliza and James watching daddy mow the lawn.

Church was great today. We just got to attend our classes and be rejuvenated. Here’s to hoping that we have a somewhat “normal” week next week!

Spring Break Camping 2016

This week was full of camping and family fun. This is the second year that we went with a large group from the ward to go camping over spring break. Last year when we went, James was very young and Eliza was obsessed with mini doughnuts. This year was significantly easier than last year and we had a great time.

We left Monday afternoon after scrambling around all morning trying to get the last things in order. We went up to Lake Georgetown to Russell Park which is on the north side of the lake. People from our ward and our neighboring ward had reserved almost all of the spots on the tent camping loop so it was full of people that we knew. We set up camp and cooked dinner with our friends the Solters who came also. We made Texas Pioneer Pie (it was pi day!). We were going to make cobbler but we ran out of time. Monday night we had a large group family home evening lesson. One of the scouts from my troop put the program together and they had a few skits and then I gave the lesson. I’m sure there were people there that could have given a much better lesson than me, but I am good friends with the scouts, and I think they are comfortable asking me for things. It was a fun evening. Apparently, however, we got in trouble for being too loud and they asked us to disperse back to our camp sites. Eliza and James slept really well that night. It didn’t get too cold and we had a good night.

Sarah cooking dinner on Monday
Sarah cooking dinner on Monday
James waiting to eat
James waiting to eat
Looking out at the lake from our camp site
Looking out at the lake from our camp site
Eating dinner on Monday
Eating dinner on Monday

Tuesday we spent all day out camping. We played in the morning at the campsite and then in the afternoon we went down to the lake to play. They have a gravel beach that they built along the shore and we played there for a few hours. We had borrowed a kayak from another of our friends in the ward and I spent most of the time out on the kayak with the kids. I would hold them on my lap and we’d go out and paddle around. Last year when we tried to get Eliza on the water, she was terrified, but this year she absolutely loved it. She kept asking to go out again and again. She even wanted to try paddling by herself. She got it pretty good. She’d move the paddle back and forth, back and forth. I was so proud of her for being so brave and having such a good time. I took James out also and he had a good time. Sarah also took the kayak out and did really well. This was her first time doing it and she looked like a pro.

Eliza holding a rollie pollie
Eliza holding a rollie pollie
Eliza and James looking at the lake
Eliza and James looking at the lake
James playing in the dirt
James playing in the dirt
Eliza playing in the dirt
Eliza playing in the dirt
James loves camping. He was always asking to beput down so he could walk around.
James loves camping. He was always asking to beput down so he could walk around.

We ate dinner with the Solters again on Tuesday and then we made our peach cobbler. We had promised Eliza that we would roast marshmallows and have a fire but the kids were so exhausted that we had to do it while it was still light out after dinner. We had a good time with the marshmallows (although James wasn’t really a fan of the stickiness) and then read scriptures and put the kids down for bed. After the kids were down, Sarah and I played cards with some of my scouts. It was fun to be able to be camping with them and just be their friend and not have to be responsible for them.

Just out camping with my milk and scriptures. Life is awesome.
Just out camping with my milk and scriptures. Life is awesome.
Reading scriptures by the fire.
Reading scriptures by the fire.
Eliza roasting her marshmallow.
Eliza roasting her marshmallow.
Eliza's completed marshmallow.
Eliza’s completed marshmallow.
James woke up first and was throwing things at us.
James woke up first and was throwing things at us.
Eliza in daddy's sleeping bag.
Eliza in daddy’s sleeping bag.
Eliza showing piglet the lake one last time.
Eliza showing piglet the lake one last time.

Wednesday morning we packed up camp after breakfast and headed home. We had such a good time. This was totally our speed of a vacation. It could have been really stressful, but I was proud of Sarah and me for not losing our cool and just rolling with how things went. We need to get these kids out camping more often.

Thursday was our only normal day this week. I worked and then when I got home I prepared my gear for my Friday and Saturday scout training camp for my Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (IOLS) (since I obviously need an introduction!) 

Friday and Saturday I was down in Kyle for IOLS. I was the patrol leader for my patrol and we had a pretty good training session. I’ve been doing scouts for so long that I probably could have taught the course myself but I learned a few things. I mainly wanted to go so that I could check the box that I have been trained finally. I met some other LDS scout people from our stake and started to get to know them a bit which was really good.

Me starting the fire at IOLS. I couldn't get anyone in my patrol to do it so I did it.
Me starting the fire at IOLS. I couldn’t get anyone in my patrol to do it so I did it.

Today we had our ward conference. This was the first time we’ve really been able to hear our stake president speak because we were out of town when he was sustained and we didn’t get to hear him. I liked him a lot and think he will be a great president. We made it to choir after almost sleeping through it again so that was good. So now we’re ready for next week which should be as normal as things ever are around here.

“Peeeaaa” and other words

James has a rapidly expanding vocabulary. Sarah made a list of all the words he is saying these days.

  • “hiya” – Hi ya!
  • “bah” – bye (while waving)
  • “peaaaa!!” – Please
  • “deh do” – Thank you
  • “mama”
  • “dada”
  • “Ih-ly-ia” – Eliza
  • “papa”
  • “beh” – bread
  • “pay” – pray
  • “eh-MEH” – amen
  • “dih-duh” – scriptures
  • “su-shuh” – Jesus
  • “po-PO” – prophet
  • “kaboo!” – peekaboo
  • “wa-wa” – water
  • “pa”- pacifier
  • “go-guh” – yogurt
  • “co-cuh” – cracker
  • “bana” – banana
  • “a BAH!?” – asking for a bite
  • “moooore??” – more
  • “did ih!” – I did it!
  • “ya” – yes
  • “no no no” – no
  • “no!” – more emphatic
  • “poo” – do I need to explain?
  • “ah dah” – all done
  • “ah gah” – all gone
  • “boo” – book
  • “ha! ha!” – hot
  • “brrr” – cold

He is talking all the time! We can understand some of what he says and when he needs to communicate he does a good job. He still has a lot of emphatic, loud, gibberish!

This weekend I went out to camp with the scouts at Lost Pines. We were hoping to do some archery but I couldn’t find a range master to come help us. I need to just get that training myself so we don’t have to wait on other people. We had a good camp. It did freeze that night and the boys were excited to earn their polar bear patches. We challenged the boys to make better food than their normal hot dogs for dinner and so they made one of my favorites — Dutch oven pizza! It is super simple. You just top English muffins with sauce and other good pizza stuff and put them in the oven until they’re toasty. They had a delicious “mountain man hash” for breakfast that got rave reviews. We also did a service project on Saturday morning. We built a wood stack to keep wood off the ground. We filled it up with wood and another one with small kindling. You can see more about that here: https://goo.gl/photos/Z5nLL2dPnXCpoiq16

I also went to the LDS Face-to-face with Elder Rasband on Wednesday. It was really good and I got a lot of good notes. One of the things that really stood out to me was when he said, “You need to make a very solid commitment to spend some time every day in the scriptures. it doesn’t have to be a lot, but it does need to be some.” I talked about this with my boys at our campfire program on Friday night. It is so important to have that daily contact with the scriptures.

Sarah and Eliza invited one of Eliza’s friends over for lunch this week. They made little heart shaped pizzas and shared them. Eliza loved helping to make the pizzas. She is a good helper and always wants to be at the counter cooking with mommy.

I applied to be an Astronaut!

My application acceptance email from NASA.
My application acceptance email from NASA.

So the big news for us this week is that I completed and submitted my application for the astronaut corps this week! The applications are open again for the first time in many years and I have wanted to do this for years. The application process was simpler than I thought it would be. I had to update my resume and upload it to their site. I had to get an official transcript from BYU and I had to get some people who were willing to be references for me. After I submitted that, I just had to answer a few questions about my pilot experience (which was obviously easy. . . no experience) and that was the whole application. The application period ends in February and then NASA will look at the applicants at that point. After the first cut, there will be a series of interviews and other activities and they will announce the new astronauts in 2017. So it’ll be a while until I know. I’m thrilled that I have actually reached this goal in my life. Anyone who knows me knows that I have wanted this since I was a very little boy, and I finally made it to this point. I have done everything I know how to do, and now I just have to wait!

Eliza with a rainbow on her face from the crystal ornaments on the tree.
Eliza with a rainbow on her face from the crystal ornaments on the tree.

This week at home we have been busy getting the last few presents arranged and packages sent off to family. Sarah has been very busy with this and I’m proud of the effort that she has put into making our gifts meaningful this year. We’ve had some late nights this week but I think it was worth it.

We had a Christmas FHE this week and made these signs to share on social media.
We had a Christmas FHE this week and made these signs to share on social media.

Eliza has had fun playing with her friends this week. She has been over at friends houses several times and has had a great time. We had the Larsens over for the evening on Thursday so that their parents could go to the temple. Both James and Eliza had a good time with them while they were here. It is good for James to be with them so that he can get more comfortable around other people. He still struggles a bit with us leaving him places but he is getting better.

James wants to do whatever Eliza does. He thinks she is awesome.
James wants to do whatever Eliza does. He thinks she is awesome.

Eliza has been super cuddly and nice this week. She will just come up to Sarah and say “I want to cuddle with you mommy!” or she’ll come up to me and grab my legs and say “I love you daddy!” It is the best feeling ever. She is a little sweetheart.

James kissing sleeping beauty.
James kissing sleeping beauty.

James is starting to fight back a bit against Eliza’s oppression. He has started hitting her this week and they have started yelling at each other. Most of the time they play together well, but sometimes, especially when they’re tired, things can get a bit crazy. They tend to lose it around 4:30 each day and start giving Sarah a run for her money.

Troop 193 at the top of Wolf Mountain at Pedernales Falls State Park
Troop 193 at the top of Wolf Mountain at Pedernales Falls State Park
Me at the base camp for our backpacking trip.
Me at the base camp for our backpacking trip.

I had a camp out with my scouts this weekend. We went out to Pedernales Falls state park and did a short little backpacking trip for their camping merit badge. The weather was beautiful. We got to leave a bit early because the boys got out of school early on Friday. This was nice because we got to hike in the light instead of in the dark like we had to last year. It was a bit chilly at night but Saturday morning was gorgeous and we had a good second day of hiking. It is a lot of fun for me to work with these boys. They were so accepting of the slower boys in the group. There was one boy in particular that was a bit slow and they always had at least one person back with him talking and encouraging him. I don’t think that they planned it but it just worked out that way. We ended up camping with a group of Webelos scouts from Houston. The boys had planned a fireside and they invited the other boys to participate with us. Each of the groups did skits and we had our normal spiritiual fireside. I don’t think the others were LDS and I was proud of our boys for reaching out.

Again, James thinks Eliza is super cool.
Again, James thinks Eliza is super cool.
James is all ready for some BYU football!
James is all ready for some BYU football!

Our friends the Sorensens came over on Saturday to watch the BYU bowl game with us. They called us last week to see if they could come and we were excited for them to come. They have a son that is James’s age and he is super cute! We had a good time just hanging out and watching the game together. It is fun to have good friends.

Spring Break Camping

Yes I know that we don’t have any kids in school so spring break isn’t actually any different from any other week that we have; however, we decided to “celebrate” it this year. There are some families in our ward who go camping every year on the week of spring break and we were invited to attend this year. We were the youngest family–by far. Most of the families have teenagers but we have some good friends in the group and we had a good time.
We had kind of a crazy day on Monday as we were getting ready to go on the campout. As you know, we’ve been looking at cars for a few months now. We’ve had our eye on a Honda Pilot for a while but have been waiting for a recall to finish on the airbag before we can even test drive it. We got a call from the dealership saying that the car was ready on Monday as we were trying to get everything packed and ready to go. We decided we’d run up there and just be late to the camp because we really want to get this car. Well, when we got there, the salesman had gotten the wrong car. It was the same model year and everything but had two time as many miles on it and wasn’t what we were looking for. We ended up wasting about two hours with that trip.
After getting back from the dealership, we finished getting everything together and somehow got all our camping gear and the kids and ourselves packed in the car. Yes we actually had to pack ourselves in too, that was how crowded it was. We drove the hour and a half drive out to Lake Somerville to camp. When we got there, most of our friends were already there and had already cooked dinner. It was around 6:00 at this point. Everyone was trying to pawn off their extra food on us so we didn’t even have to cook. Lots of my scouts who were there helped us unload and setup our massive 8 man tent. The tent was awesome! I’m glad we got it.
We really packed it in there
We really packed it in there
We had a blast camping! It was so nice to just be away with the family and to have time to ourselves. Every time we’ve gone on vacation in the past we’ve been running all over and haven’t had time just with our little family to sit and have fun. This was a welcome change for us. We still were chasing Eliza a lot and didn’t get to associate with the other adults there but it was a great time.
Eliza with marshmallow all over her hands
Eliza with marshmallow all over her hands
Eliza finally slept pretty well.
Eliza finally slept pretty well.
Running outside
Running outside
Looking at the plants
Looking at the plants
Eliza had a bit of trouble sleeping. Mostly because she was excited about being in the tent with everyone else. She kept running around and wanting to play. She sure is cute. James, of course, was out like a light all night and didn’t make any trouble.
James being happy on mommy's sleeping bag
James being happy on mommy’s sleeping bag
This is the lake where we camped
This is the lake where we camped
We had breakfast tacos for breakfast on Tuesday.
We had breakfast tacos for breakfast on Tuesday.
We stayed at the camp all day on Tuesday and did breakfast, lunch, and dinner, We had originally planned on trying to stay for Monday and Tuesday nights but there was going to be a huge rainstorm on Tuesday and most everyone was leaving. I told Sarah that if it was the scouts we’d be staying but camping in the rain with two babies was not going to be too fun so we just went home after dinner on Tuesday.
"Why are my hands so dirty?"
“Why are my hands so dirty?”
Daddy and Eliza hanging out by the tent
Daddy and Eliza hanging out by the tent
"These are MY donuts"
“These are MY donuts”
Eliza absolutely loved camping. She loved being outside all the time. She picked flowers, ran all over the place, chased our friend’s dogs, played in the dirt, ate way too many donuts, and generally just had a great time. Sarah and I took her out on the canoe on Tuesday and she did pretty well. She’s been a bit afraid of water lately and I wanted to help her face her fears. Sarah held her in the front seat and I paddled. She let us go out for a few minutes and then decided she was done so we turned around and went back. I was proud of her for doing it. She also went out with me in a kayak but that didn’t last too long either.
James holding the umbrella
James holding the umbrella
Mommy and James hanging out
Mommy and James hanging out
Daddy and James snacking
Daddy and James snacking
James was a sweetheart the whole time we were out. He was just calm and loved to be carried around and doted on by all of the ladies we were with.
Eliza and her new friend Danielle Ashford
Eliza and her new friend Danielle Ashford
Eliza zonked after being traumatized by the canoe
Eliza zonked after being traumatized by the canoe
Eliza trying to be happy picking flowers
Eliza trying to be happy picking flowers
In other news, James rolled over once this week. He’s getting really close to having that figured out!
The cute family
The cute family
future missionary
future missionary
James and Daddy time
James and Daddy time
We have a crazy week ahead of us. Our stake is doing a musical presentation for Easter this Thursday and Friday and Sarah encouraged me to sing in the choir. I have rehearsal every night, except Monday, this week so your prayers for our sanity will be greatly appreciated!
Monkey Face!
Monkey Face!