In about mid April, we began working on putting in our yard. We got our sprinklers planned out and ordered the parts, then rented a trencher one Saturday (hard, grueling, back breaking work that I watched Jared do from the window), then we took a couple of weeks to put in the sprinklers, another good while to fill in the trenches, another full Saturday of work leveling the dirt with another fun machine Jared rented, then many more days raking and picking up rocks and raking some more, we planted 6 trees at some point, then finally one day three weeks ago, we put in our grass. Ah! So nice to have grass. It looks fabulous. It seemed like we had been working on our yard for months and months because every waking moment was spent working on it, and then I looked at the calendar and it had only been 6 weeks from start to finish. I sure felt like it would never end and that our kids were on their own every time we were out there, which of course, was true.
The hole for our big tree
The raking never ended!
Getting our concrete
This was the day we put our sod in. I thought I should take a before shot.
Somewhere between us starting the sprinklers and actually laying sod, we decided to put up a fence and get concrete on the side of our house, both of which put us out a good chunk of money. We were lucky though, because our builder gave us $750 in sprinkler parts, $850 worth of trees and bushes and 2000 square feet of sod which meant that the rest of our yard was a lot less than it could have been. The fence is a story of its own and one that I'm not sure I want to keep rehashing. Basically, because of our HOA and a certain neighbor, what we wanted to put up caused a huge neighborhood issue. Some people were on our side and some people were against us. I lost a lot of sleep over it and know it definitely didn't help with my emotional state at the time. I know it will blow over, but I have been trying really hard to love those neighbors. And, we have a fence. End of story.
All that being said about one "iffy" neighbor, I could not be happier with our other neighbors. There was a point last summer when we thought we should have changed the lot that we had chosen, but it never worked out and I am so glad it didn't. Our next door neighbors on both sides are excellent as well as the ones across the street. Specifically, the one neighbor on the side. They have a boy Alex's age and a girl Marissa's age and they literally play every single day. Not just those two, but all the kids. And I love the mom. She is an awesome therapist... like a real therapist, but I get friend therapy for free. The dad is great too but whatever, he and Jared can do their thing. Anyway, the point is, I am positive that we would not be such good friends if we weren't right next door. We like them so much that we put up a 3 foot fence between our houses so that we could still see each other. It's a blessing to have them! I know that there is a reason for these things and that Heavenly Father has a hand in them, even when they are as small as living on one lot instead of three lots over.
In the middle of May, Alex started T-ball with practices on Tuesday and games on Thursdays. At first it was pretty comical to see 10 5-year-olds pile up around the ball, but I have to say they have gotten a lot better and Alex likes it. It's been our first sports experience, since Erin refuses anything that may involve things like running, and it has been fun. I am ready for it to be over next week because it does take lots of time. Connor is so sad that he can't play. He will love sports once he's old enough to play.
Erin finished second grade with an awesome dance to Footloose at her school. She had a great teacher this year and made a few good friends. Well, really just one good friend and some other nice acquaintances. I am so glad she adjusted so well to her school and was happy there. And she did well with reading and math and anything else they gave her. It will be interesting to see how the other kids do in school because Erin has made it seem so easy.
I sat down at the beginning of June and made a list of activities that we could do during the summer. June filled up pretty fast. We got a membership to Thanksgiving Point, because it is one minute from our house, and we have been loving all the things to do there. They have two different story times with crafts and one of three family activities to chose from every Monday night. We also have the Pass of All Passes which gets us into Trafalga, bowling, two water parks and a bunch of other stuff that we will never have time for. Then there is story time at the library which is awesome because they have one for the older kids at the same time as the younger kids. Erin and Alex love it. I love that they have been reading so much lately too. About a month ago Alex started reading chapter books and is working his way through the Magic Tree House books.
Of course, the easiest activity of all this summer is swimming in our neighborhood pool. As much as I hate the HOA, I love that pool! Seriously, I never really enjoyed taking the kids swimming in Florida. I always felt like it was a hassle to get everyone's stuff together and sunscreen on, and I was always worried they would drown, and they were always hanging on me (all of them), and worst of all, the humidity headaches! Every time I went to the beach or swimming pool I had a horrible headache for the rest of the day from the humidity. (Why did we live there for so long? Oh yeah, no winter.) This pool is completely different. For one, it is just down the street so we can load up the stroller and walk there. My kids are older now which means they can 1. get their own stuff by themselves, 2. put on their own sunscreen, and 3. swim by themselves. Erin can even take Connor around the pool. Now that, my friends, is freedom. There is a 10 foot wading pool section at one end of the pool that Marissa and Connor can play in and a 3 foot section right after where Alex can touch. So fabulous! Marissa can swim anywhere in her ring (don't call it a tube or you'd be wrong). The best part is that I don't get headaches here. I don't feel like it will ruin my day if I go swimming for an hour. We go two or three times a week.
Alex also started a summer school last week. It is a really great private school that costs way too much for us to send 5 children to full time, but we felt good about sending him to a summer kindergarten program so that he can, hopefully, start first grade in the fall (at the public school). I have felt really good about him doing this, but I won't know if he will actually get to go to first grade until right before school. He is enjoying school though. It's only for 6 weeks and only half day so he still gets to do fun stuff during the summer.
June is also our big birthday month. Jared turned 36 on June 3rd, Marissa turned 4 on the 6th, Connor turned 2 on the 14th, and Erin turned 8 on the 18th. There was also father's day on the 17th and we are having Erin's baptism on the 30th. Phew. I wanted to make each event special but didn't want to throw a big party for anyone. They all got to chose what they wanted to do and I think they were all happy. New goal: no more June babies!
Speaking of babies, I am just about 28 weeks pregnant and I guess found out a couple of months ago that it is a girl. That is what I wanted for various reasons. Of course, we like the pattern we've created (girl, boy, girl, boy, girl), but also, I felt like Marissa would have been more left out if it had been a boy. Erin and Alex are always together, and then the "little boys" would have been another group. With a girl I think she will have more of a chance to fit in somewhere. And sometimes, the girls don't love sharing a room while the boys have no problems with it. Having a girl means she could share with the new baby at some point. I try not to think about the fact that I'm pregnant too much in the attempt to make it go faster. It seems to be working. Marissa keeps noticing how fat I am getting though. It's nice to have that constant reminder. I am excited about another baby.
We finished the infamous castle bunk bed. Pictures to come... It took 4 months to build (remember how we were also putting in our yard at the same time?) We just can't limit ourselves to one project. Alex loves his new bed and so does every other kid that sees it. Heck, I love it. Mission accomplished. Too bad it just makes me want to build more things (a play set, a shed, outdoor furniture, shelves... the list goes on).
Last, but not least, Jared and I got to go to San Diego at the beginning of June to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. No, THAT is not actually in June, thank goodness. It's in August, but we had some frequent flyer miles to use and I didn't want to fly when I was 8 months pregnant, so it ended up being in June. We had a great vacation without the kids going to Sea World, Balboa Park, the temple, museums, eating out and eating a lot, the beach and just relaxing. Also, flying without kids after doing it for 8 years is a noticeable and enjoyable change of pace for us.