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.

Christmas 2015

We had a great Christmas celebration this week. It was a full week and we had  lot of things going on. It was great to be able to spend the week with out little family celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

We started out the week with our first attempt at an Arnesen family tradition — story night. We had all of us get our sleeping bags out and put them on the floor in the family room after dinner. We each had a few snacks and treats to eat. While we all lay on our sleeping bags, Sarah read us a few stories. I think we only read  three or four books. That was about all the kiddos had the attention span for! After we finished our books, we put James to bed in his crib and let Eliza sleep on the floor. We fully expect this tradition to get longer and more interesting as the kids get older.

01 Ready for story night
All set up for story night.

Before we had story night, we watched SpaceX launch some satellites to orbit. We had the laptop on the computer and watched the launch live. This launch was the first time that they had flown the first stave back to land and softly landed it using retro-rockets. It was so cool to watch! I was cheering at the end. Eliza loved it too. She has been into rockets since I came back from Kennedy Space Center and she thought the launch was awesome.

00 watching the SpaceX launch
Watching the SpaceX launch.

On Tuesday, Sarah and I went on a date to see Star Wars! We got the kids in bed and had a girl from church come to sit with them while we went to the 9:15pm showing. We got popcorn and too much soda and enjoyed the movie. We didn’t know how long the line was going to be so we got there pretty early and got awesome seats. It was a great movie and brought back good memories of seeing the original movies years ago with my family. We both had a bit too much soda and had to scoot out right at the start of the credits to hit the restroom! It was good to be able to go for a while and have some time to ourselves.

Wednesday evening we took around some goodies to some of our friends. We went late so that we could show Eliza and James the Christmas lights as we drove around. Eliza loved seeing the lights and has been asking where they are every time we go anywhere since then. I also had the whole day off on Wednesday. I played with the kids and finished my last two books for my reading goal for the year. We had a good time playing around the house. Eliza has a boundless imagination and it is fun to play with her.

04 Eliza making cookies
Eliza making cookies
03 James looking at rainbows
James excited about rainbows on the wall.

We spent Christmas Eve at home mostly the whole day. We finished wrapping the last few presents and put them under the tree. The kids have been super cute with wrapping presents. James loved taking them and putting them under the tree (or at least throwing them at the floor by the tree) and Eliza wanted to pile them all up in one place under there. They were both excited about it. Eliza remembered a bit of what happens at Christmas and she was excited about the presents. She had been praying for several days that Santa could come and bring presents after she went to sleep.

05 James depositing presents on the tree
James putting a present in/on/under the tree.
02 Putting the stickers on the advent
Doing stickers on the advent from the Friend magazine.

We made a ham for dinner on Christmas Eve and had our little family meal at 5:00. James, of course, ate everything in sight. Eliza ate a bit more daintily but was great to eat her good food before having jello for dessert. After dinner, we reenacted the journey to Bethlehem and the Nativity with the kids. Eliza needed some coaxing to get dressed up like Mary but eventually she was all ready to go. James hammed it up as Joseph. He kept posing for the camera and making cute faces. Eliza got to ride on “daddy donkey” which she thought was pretty awesome. After doing the Nativity play, we read Luke 2 and had family prayer and put the kids to bed so that Santa could come!

06 James hamming it up
James hamming it up as Joseph.
07 Eliza on the daddy donkey
Riding on the “daddy donkey”
08 Mary and Joseph
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

 

It is nice having kids that don’t want to get up in the middle of the night to open presents. Christmas Day started for us around 7:30 in the morning. Eliza came downstairs in her usual fashion and came into our room. We got James up and looked at what Santa brought. James got a cool car ramp play set and Eliza got a fun tea party set. Sarah got a nice memory foam pillow and I got some new wonderfully light-weight scout pants. After looking at Santa stuff we had a breakfast of ham and cheese crescent rolls and then started opening presents.

09 James on Christmas morming

10 Eliza on Christmas morning

We opened presents until 10:00 when we talked to Uncle Joseph on Skype from his mission. It was fun to talk to him. He is doing great work. It was kind of funny to hear him talk because he totally has the missionary drawl! What a great guy. It is so fun to have Eliza pray for him every night.

After we finished with presents we kind of just lounged around the rest of the day and took it easy. Eliza and James played with their new toys. Eliza actually was really excited about the little Lego set that I got. She was 100% focused when we worked together to build it. It probably took us 30 minutes but she was right there the whole time helping me find pieces and putting them together. I’m excited for when she’s older and we can make huge sets together!

We capped off our week with a late-night game night with our friends the Larsens. They had a few other families over on Saturday to play games and have snacks. There were a bunch of kids that were running around and Eliza and James just played. We put the kids down to sleep while we were there. James went down pretty quick but Eliza had a hard time. She eventually fell asleep. We had a fun time playing games. When we went home, Eliza had a meltdown about everything. She ended up being awake until around 2:00 before she finally fell asleep on our floor. That made for a late morning on Sunday.

All in all we had a great week. Christmas is a wonderful time of year and we had a great little celebration here in Texas. We are so grateful for Jesus Christ and for his life, example and atonement. We know that He lives and that He is real.

Independence Day Long Weekend

Well we had a great week this week. I got to take Thursday and Friday off of work for the holiday and it was fun to have a few days to just spend time with the family. With all the craziness we’ve had lately this was a welcome change of pace for us.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty normal days. On Wednesday evening I took the scouts to  help a family in the ward load up their moving truck. The boys were pretty helpful and I was happy that we could do some service. I’m really impressed with the quality of the young men that I work with. They are really trying to be good and to do what is expected of them.
We had an initiation of sorts this week when Eliza redecorated the wall with her black crayon.
We had an initiation of sorts this week when Eliza redecorated the wall with her black crayon.
We made Eliza clean up the wall.
We made Eliza clean up the wall.
Thursday we had a fun family day. We went to the Thinkery in Austin. The Thinkery is a children’s museum with all kinds of fun things to do. They had a big “farmer’s market” where the kids could shop for fresh plastic fruits and vegetables and then pretend to cook things for the adults that wanted to order lunch. Eliza picked out a bunch of things from the crates and put them in her basket and then she started to pick up all the spare foods she could find on the floor and add them to her basket. She seemed to be trying to keep up with the mess that all the other kids were making. She also had a little personal quest to find all of the plastic strawberries. I think she may have had all of them at one point.
Eliza collecting the strawberries
Eliza collecting the strawberries
Eliza also enjoyed the tumbling room that they had. There were soft blocks that the kids could stack up and climb on She had everything just the way she wanted it and kept having to put it back as other kids moved things around. It was cute to watch her. In this room they also had an instructor come and do a parachute with the kids. Eliza loved shaking the parachute with the other kids, jumping, and walking in a circle. She was by far the youngest kid there but caught right on. She also enjoyed bouncing on the little inflatable animals that they had.
Eliza joined right in playing with the parachute
Eliza joined right in playing with the parachute
She was very pleased with herself.
She was very pleased with herself.
James wasn’t left out of the experience either. They had a room especially for crawlers with things setup close to the floor so the crawlers and toddlers could see them. They even had things built into the floor so that the kids could look down into them. James enjoyed scooting around looking at things.
Mommy and James selfie
Mommy and James selfie
James liked the things in the floor
James liked the things in the floor
James was so tall!
James was so tall!
Eliza was taller and she knew it.
Eliza was taller and she knew it.
James waxing philosophical about the mirrors.
James waxing philosophical about the mirrors.
Eliza felt like she was going to fall and we had to coax her through the mirrors.
Eliza felt like she was going to fall and we had to coax her through the mirrors.
James smiling at mommy through the mirror.
James smiling at mommy through the mirror.
They had a water room that we thought Eliza was going to love and she did. They had smocks and croc shoes to wear so the kids “didn’t get wet.” They didn’t always work but it was a nice thought. Eliza loved splashing in the water and throwing a little floating ball around.
Eliza splashing in the water.
Eliza splashing in the water.
After this room and lunch we went to a colors room where they had a huge ‘light bright” built into the wall. It was completely dark in this room except for the different color activities that were lit up. Eliza loved this probably the most of anything. The board had transparent pegs made out of different colors of resin and when you put them in the board light would shine through. She would name all the colors as she put them into the holes and had a grand time playing with this. She also wanted to clean it up and put all the pegs back where they belonged.
Eliza loved the color wall
Eliza loved the color wall
She made this long line of red and orange and was very meticulous about it.
She made this long line of red and orange and was very meticulous about it.
This wall changed colors when you touched the circles.
This wall changed colors when you touched the circles.
After this room she had a meltdown, and it was time to go home!
On Friday we did all of our normal Saturday things: shopping, house cleaning, lounging, laundry, etc. We wanted to make sure we didn’t have to try to do anything like that on the 4th.
James's first time in the seat of the cart.
James’s first time in the seat of the cart.
We divided and conquered and every time we ran into mommy Eliza was so excited to see James.
We divided and conquered and every time we ran into mommy Eliza was so excited to see James.
On Saturday we got up early and went to our ward’s breakfast. My scouts did a good job on the flag ceremony and the food was good. We had pancakes and breakfast tacos. You know you’re in Texas when you have tacos for the 4th of July! It was fun to see the ward.
After the breakfast we came home and Sarah crashed for a few hours napping. I got to play with the kids and we just played dress-up and duplos. We also did ring around the rosie several times. I let Eliza and James direct what we did and we just played. I had a lot of fun.
James being  a cutie while we play.
James being a cutie while we play.
Eliza pretended that these rings were her shoes. She wore them for several hours.
Eliza pretended that these rings were her shoes. She wore them for several hours.
She is definitely a 2-year-old girl. She's getting comfortable on the time out stool these days.
She is definitely a 2-year-old girl. She’s getting comfortable on the time out stool these days.
In the evening of the 4th we went out to some farm property that one of our ward members has out to the east of where we live. They had invited basically anyone in the ward that wanted to come and there was a big turnout. We cooked pizza in our dutch oven and made some peach cobbler. We also brought along our traditional homemade ice cream (vanilla with chocolate fudge and brownies) to share with people along with the cobbler. Sarah made the cobbler, and it turned out amazing! We got a lot of compliments on it.
Eliza and mommy making pizza.
Eliza and mommy making pizza to cook in the Dutch oven.
The family that invited us out also had a lot of fireworks to shoot off, and we enjoyed the show. Eliza loved the fireworks and would scream in delight at each one. She loved dancing to the music too. James also liked the fireworks and would just stare at them mesmerized. He lasted until almost the very end and then realized he was tired. Eliza wanted to dance with him at the end and he just couldn’t take it anymore.
When we got home, Eliza reminded us that we needed to read scriptures and say prayers before we went to bed. It was already 10:00 and we were ready just to dump her in bed and crash ourselves, but it was sweet to have our little girl remind us that this was in fact the most important thing.
22 - James is 8 months

Happy 8-months James!
Happy 8-months James!

24 - Happy siblings 25 - Goofy siblings