Scouts and Relaxing

Monday and Tuesday this week were pretty standard days. Monday we had family home evening with the kids as always. I am so glad that we have this tradition established in our family. The kids know that it is Monday and that we have family home evening. Tuesday was laundry day and Sarah and I watched the Olympics while we folded clothes.

Eliza and James have been watching the Olympics during the day too. Eliza started mimicking the swimming. She set up one of her toy boxes to be her starting block and then she would jump off and swim on the floor while the were swimming on the TV. She was asking to go swimming all week.

Swimming with the Olympics
Swimming with the Olympics
All ready to swim at the Olympics.
All ready to swim at the Olympics.

On Wednesday this week we had the court of honor for the scouts. Sarah and the kids came and supported me as they always do. I am so grateful for them supporting me in that calling. I love working with the scouts so much and it is fun to have the family be a part of that. We had a lot of awards this time because of scout camp and because of the merit badge fair that our ward put on a few weeks ago. All in all it was pretty good. On Thursday I had scouts again and went down to the round table meeting at the scout office. It was pretty well attended this time (better than usual) and we got some good ideas for things to talk about at future meetings.

They wanted to play outside even thought it was blazing hot.
They wanted to play outside even thought it was blazing hot.

Sarah and I went to a release party that my work put on on Friday. Every time we make a major release of a product we have a party to celebrate and this time we were celebrating the release of our second version of our communication’s product. My manager invited the whole team over to his house to have dinner and play in the pool. We went and brought some of the new games that we bought last week. It was fun for Sarah to meet most of the people that I work with. I work with a really great group of people and Sarah hears about them all the time so it was good for her to be able to meet more of them.

Best Friends!
Best Friends!
Awesome times!
Awesome times!

Last Sunday my good friend from college, Michael Simmons, called and told me that he was in Houston for a medical rotation at Baylor and that he would love to come and spend the weekend with us if we were available. Of course we had him come up. He arrived late Friday evening and spend the day Saturday with us and left Sunday after church.

Michael has been away from his family and kids for a while now and it was fun to see how easily he interacted with our kids and how friendly he was with them. He would just read then stories and play with them on the floor and give them his attention. Eliza immediately knew that he was her friend and was super comfortable with him. Even James, who is normally not comfortable with people he doesn’t know, was sitting on his lap and asking for stories after an hour or so.

New Friends: the kids reading with Michael.
New Friends: the kids reading with Michael.

On Saturday, Michael and I took Eliza to the pool to go swimming. It was lots of fun. I only intended us to go there for an hour or so but we ended up being there for almost three hours. Eliza swam the entire time. She was jumping into the pool, pushing off of the wall, swimming after her fishies, and just enjoying herself. The pool was sort of busy and she made friends with some other kids who were there that wanted to play. She just played right along with the kids and was having a ton of fun. As we were about to go home, she decided that it would be fun to jump off of Michael’s shoulders into the water. She climbed up on his shoulders while he was in the water and jumped off over and over again. She is a fearless little girl and never ceases to amaze me with what she wants to try to do.

All in all we had a pretty good week. Life is awesome!

“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.

Jamesy Talking

Eliza has started calling James “Jamesy” this week. We’re not sure where she got that name because we have never called him that. She is so cute with him. She has been getting better and better at sharing. While she tries to share sometimes, she often will say “I had it first” and take the thing away. She has done this even to us. She has also started praying by herself. At night for her personal prayer she will say several sentences on her own. Usually thankful for things that have happened in the day. She always reminds us that she needs to do scriptures and prayer at morning and at night. Today in church when it was time for the prayer on the water she started reciting the prayer before the priests started. I was totally surprised. She knew the first few sentences by herself and then repeated the prayer after the priests. She is getting better and better at being reverent and I just have to gently remind her these day to fold her arms.

James's first time swinging. He wasn't quite sure what to make of it.
James’s first time swinging. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.
Eliza loves the park!
Eliza loves the park!

James has started talking in his own little language. He will come up to us and make a bunch of sounds and just be so pleased with himself. We’re sure he thinks he’s making sense to us and that he’s communicating but . . . we have no idea what he’s talking about. It’s really cute though. He does have a few words that we know. He has words for mama, dada and Eliza. When he sees her he will point and say “zaza (daida)” and get so smiley. He is eating better and better these days.

James is starting to learn how to fold his arms for prayer.
James is starting to learn how to fold his arms for prayer.

We parents had a crazy week. One or the other of us was gone every night this week. Monday we were all home for FHE and that was good but the rest of the week was nuts. We had scout court of honor on Tuesday that we all attended. Wednesday, Sarah was gone to the family history center, Thursday Sarah had bookclub and I was prepping for my scout camp this weekend. Friday I was gone camping and Saturday we were actually on a date.

Eliza made a tail out of her snuggle.
Eliza made a tail out of her snuggle.

Our friends the Larsens invited us to go with them to Top Golf with them for a birthday party. It was kind of last minute but we decide we’d just go. We got one of the young women to watch the kids and went with them. Top Golf is a glorified driving range that is somewhat reminiscent of a bowling alley. We got some tasty food and then hit balls for 2 hours. We had  a good time and both of us did pretty well considering that we’d never actually hit a golf ball before.

Before church this week Eliza wanted to do the bunny's hair.
Before church this week Eliza wanted to do the bunny’s hair.

The week of scouts

It seems like I had more scout things to do this week than norma. In fact, that’s basically all I can think about right now so I apologize in advance if this seems a bit one sided. (Also Sarah’s in bed already trying to avoid getting sick so she’s not here to help me remember.)

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Tuesday for scouts we did a canoe practice out at Lake Pflugerville. After asking for a canoe for several weeks, I finally found one from a family in another ward. I ran over their house before scouts and threw their canoe on our van and took it to the lake. We talked about safety afloat and then had each of the boys buddy up and go out 50 yards and back to the shore. We had an adult in a kayak with the boys to coach them. For some of them this was their first time in a canoe and they struggled. The wind was blowing pretty strongly and that didn’t help either. I think it was a good activity.

On Thursday I spent the evening running around gathering up a bunch of kayaks from people in the ward for us to take on our weekend campout. We had four leaders going and each of them needed a single kayak so I had to round those up. I also planned meals this time for the adults so that took some time and preparation. I finally bought a box to keep my camping things in so I don’t have to gather them every time.

Friday evening and most of the day Saturday I was out at Lost Pines with the boys. We had some grand times. Before we went to bed on Friday, we told the boys to make sure all their food was secure so that racoons wouldn’t get into them. Around 1:00 am I was jolted awake by three boys who were totally freaked out by the coons that were in their camp. To hear them tell it there were hundreds of racoons descending on the camp like it was the coon-pocalypse. I think they may have been up most of the night trying to not be scared. The adults actually had a coon get into our food also but in the middle of the night I heard him and decided that I wasn’t going to be outsmarted by an animal and I turned our box with the bread upside down under the bench that was wedging it shut. I didn’t hear the coon after that.

Saturday we did 4 hours on the water in the canoes. We did a mile out to a park on the other side of Lake Bastrop and then came back to the scout camp. The boys were pretty exhausted by this. The wind on the lake is pretty constant blowing from the southwest and the boys had to fight it on the way out and on the way back. There were some good gospel analogies that the boys came up with about the wind. We also had the boys practice swamping their boat and doing a buddy boat rescue. All in all I think it was a successful activity.

I was so tired last night after we got back from the camp that I didn’t get shopping done or anything — I just crashed.

Sorry that’s all I can think about right now. Maybe Sarah will be able to add a bit more tomorrow when she reads this!