Friday, July 31, 2009

Project Stench

This past Wednesday morning, we woke up to a lovely stench all through our house...the natural gas smell. Gross!! I recognized what it was pretty quick and called the Gas Company. Well, they were already in our neighborhood on another call, so they arrived in about 5 minutes. This was when they informed us that the gas company had put 10 times as much odor in the gas as normal!!! He said all the neighbors were dealing with the same thing. Any tiny leak would smell extremely potent...well that's an understatement!

After a thorough inspection of all our areas where gas runs into the house, the inspector found a tiny gas leak in the basement gas fireplace. The leak was so small, we had never smelled it, and it most likely was there since we moved in, but 10 times the odor really amplified it! Well, gas is lighter than air, so it had filtrated through our entire house. The gas guy said that he shut off the gas to the fireplace and it should not get any worse until they came and fixed it. We slept with all the windows open that night, and yesterday (Thursday) morning it was just as bad, if not worse. Eric had a headache from sleeping in the smell and I felt nauseous. We opened the rest of the windows in the house and I called builder to see how soon we could get the guy to fix the leak over here.

Finally, around 12:30pm, the person came to fix the leak. It took him awhile to find it because it was so small. After fixing the leak, he helped air out the entire house and get out the smell. He was very helpful...I think he was truly sorry about how bad it smelled too. I was sure it had to be something more, so he tested everything again. Amazingly enough, that little leak was all that was making ALL THAT SMELL! I have never known such as small leak to smell SO horrible. Poor Laura Richards when she came to drop-off and pick-up the kids was getting ill (it didn't help that she's pregnant). I felt bad for her.

The good news is, as of last night around 6pm, the smell was competely gone. It's funny how we take the simple things for granted like smelling clean air, until we have something go wrong, and then we appreciate it so much more. Today, I'm grateful for breathing stench-free air! :)

Good Babysitters

Yesterday, we had the Richards' kids come over and play while their mom went to the doctor. I told Alex that he was in charge of the twin boys (almost 5), and Jesikah was in charge of Leila (2 years). The pretended like it was work, but they loved it. Jesikah LOVES to babysit and loves kids. She really enjoyed taking Leila everywhere and pampering her. Tessa liked her too.

Alex said it was hard taking care of the boys, but it didn't look too hard when they were all playing Legos and Wii together. It was so cute when they were all telling Alex what character they wanted to be and asking him questions at the same time. He was very patient though and his expression gave it away that he liked every minute of it. At one point, he went upstairs, and the boys went up begging him to play with them some more. They melted his heart and easily convinced him to play some more.

The girls started out playing "Littlest Pet Shop".

The boys started out with the Legos.

Now, they are playing Wii. Levi and Landon wanted to be the "swransformers"(Transformers). It was so cute how they said it. Alex made Jarem be Peach (by accident he said) and the twins were saying, "Look, the princess won". They weren't making fun, they were just noticing that. Poor Jarem was embarrassed to be the princess. I made Alex change his character after that.

The girls watching princess movies now.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Canning Peaches

Yesterday I got a tip from someone in our church on where to get good peaches at a good deal. I've been wanting to can some, so I went and picked up a few boxes and put everyone to work. I have never done canning without Eric before, but I decided the kids were old enough to pitch in this year. After much complaining, they finally decided it wasn't that bad (it helped that I offered them a shake from Sonic for everyone that didn't complain and was pleasant). They all earned their shakes and it turned out to be a worthwhile project. When Eric got home from work, he helped finish the last little bit, which was so helpful because I was tired. The kids were proud of what they accomplished. When a friend came over today and saw all the jars of peaches, Tessa proudly said, "We skinned all of those." I was glad they got a taste of the effort that goes into some of the good things they eat.

I LOVE Legos

Never have I spent money on a toy that is more worthwhile than Legos. We started buying Alex Legos when he was a little boy. We'd buy the set, we'd help him put it together, and he would then take it apart and use the pieces for other things never to create the original thing again. I don't know why that used to bother me because that only means he is very creative and curious, an inventor, really. But, I'm a kind of person who likes to follow the directions once and then display it somewhere and never again take it apart. But Alex loves to create his own masterpieces and then take them apart and make something else, and I've learned to appreciate that now.

A few years ago, we decided there was no use buying him Lego sets to build something specific, because he just wanted pieces to make his own things. He wanted, of course, the cool pieces and guys though (which don't come in the basic sets), but not a set to build something specific. So, one Christmas, I started searching on ebay and found a huge lot of legos that were several mixed sets all mixed together including lots of guys and cool pieces. That was what we needed, so I bought it.

When we got it, the legos were SO dirty. I searched online how to clean Legos, and learned that you can wash them in the washing machine in a pillowcase. We put them into the washing machine in pillowcases and dried them in the dryer on no heat. It worked beautifully (except it was very loud), and they were so clean when they came out that you would never know they weren't brand new. Eric and I sorted them by specialty pieces, size, and color (and guys were separate). It took a long time, but we put them in several clear plastic storage bins and gave that to him for Christmas. He still says that was one of his best Christmases.

Anyway, my point is, he has spent many hundreds of hours creating things with Legos and now, all the kids go down to the basement room and play Legos for hours at a time. It is the one thing they can all play together without fighting. Of the days that we've been home this summer, the kids have spent some part of everyday playing Legos. They each have their own section on the table for displaying their own creations and they have so much fun together with the Legos. Of all the toys I've ever purchased, I think the Legos have been my most worthwhile investment. So many other toys just lasted a few months or a year, but the Legos have stood the test of time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Jesikah's cake

Jesikah has become very interested in cooking this summer. And, I'm very interested in her learning as much as she can, because the more she does... the less I have to do. :) For me, baking desserts and things are ok, and breakfast and lunch are easy, but I hate cooking dinner. My kids always cry about dinner no matter what we're having, and it feels like I go to the effort of making dinner just to punish myself again by making them eat it. She's learning to make some dinners, so maybe eventually I'll turn it over to her. :)

So far, she's learned to make a few things, and she has gotten very good at following a recipe. She will make mac n' cheese quite often for lunch all by herself and it turns out great. Her favorite thing to make is dessert, of course. She made this cake from a cake mix, frosted it, and decorated it 100% on her own. I think she did a good job. It was cooked perfect and tasted very yummy. She took this picture and asked me to put it on the blog. Anyway, I'm glad that she is learning to enjoy cooking.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fun in Nashville

After the Parks left on Thursday morning, we headed out to the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville. We had lunch at the Aquarium Restaurant and spent time on the sea animals carousel and petting the sting rays before making our way around the mall.

Susan got this picture of Alex because he'll never let me take pictures of him. He was sitting next to one of the aquariums while we waited to be seated in the restaurant.

The kids next to the Aquarium Restaurant after lunch.

Petting the sting rays. Susan bought some food, but the kids were all afraid to feed them.

The one thing that Gabby really wanted to do was ride the manatee on the carousel, so I was glad that she got to do that while she was here. Here's a few more shots of the kids on the carousel.

Jarem always wanted to be next to Tessa. He just loves being with Tessa. He gets jealous if she plays with anyone else. She is a good friend to him.

I thought the frog was really cute.

While the other kids were on the carousel, this is what Alex was doing...texting. I guess he's too old for the carousel. He's never been one that is much for rides anyway.

We were tired after shopping and walking around the mall, so we saved the Opryland Hotel until the next day. Saturday morning, before heading to the airport we spent a couple of hours at the Opryland Hotel. I always enjoy all the gardens and the atmosphere there. Susan and I have always been "gardening friends", so we enjoyed admiring and trying to identify all the plants, discussing which ones we should plant in our own yards, and the plant selection layout.

I love these dark pink flowers just outside the hotel. Anyone know what these are?

Susan and Gabby with Sunny G, the hotel mascot bear

Susan and of the first times she's ever looked taller than me. I must have really been slumping. :)

Susan and can tell that Gabby loves to dance, she has a pose for every picture.

Pretty flowers that looks similar to double impatiens but have pointy leaves

Susan and Gabby on the boat just before the ride began.

Susan and I liked this green plant with the red veins. I'd love to have these in my's pretty next to the impatiens too.

Probably my favorite flower in the Hotel. I really wish they were labeled with the names of the plants.

Gabby and I enjoying our gelato from Bravo Gelato. It was better than ice cream, but very expensive. I had Raspberry Cheesecake, Gabs had Caramel Creme, and Susan had Cherry something.

Gabby took this picture of the ceiling above one of the hotel desks. It turned out so pretty.

This is a picture of the Cascades room with the rotating circular lounge. The double waterfall is to the left of the lounge.

These are my favorite waterfalls in the Hotel.

You can walk behind the waterfall, and this is the view from behind through the water.

After spending a couple of hours in the hotel, I dropped Susan and Gabby off at the airport to head home. We had a great time, we appreciate them coming all the way to Tennessee to visit us.

Friends from Washington

We had the priviledge of having visitors from Washington this past week. Susan and Gabby Connors came on a little trip to see us. They arrived in Nashville last Tuesday evening (July 21st) at around 6pm. After driving back to Clarksville, we had a late dinner and got settled in.

The next morning it was raining pretty hard. We decided to spend the day indoors so all of us went to see a free movie "Space Chimps" at the Great Escape theatre. I thought it was extremely lame, and wouldn't recommend it, but the kids seemed to enjoy it. Even considering the fact that it was free, I still don't think it was worth watching, but at least we had good company. We stopped after and got pizza at Little Caesar's and that made it a little better.

Later on we walked through some new construction houses in our neighborhood and then Susan took me to see "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince". I had seen it already, but it was Susan's first time, and it was good enough to see again.

The girls just before we headed to the pool Thursday morning.

Thursday, we took them to Swan Lake pool for some swimming. Alex couldn't find his swim pass, so he conveniently got to stay home (he didn't want to go anyway). The water has been the perfect temperature all summer, but because of the week or so of cooler weather, it was SO cold (not that I'm complaining about the cooler weather though). It felt good when the sun was shining. All in all, it was a good time swimming.

Later on, we went shopping at Wal-Mart for a few things. We don't usually have many drink choices at our house, milk and water are usually the extend of it. But, I was feeling bad for Susan because I know how much she loves Coke, so I went to buy she and Gabby something to drink. While we were there, Gabby and Jesikah found matching backpacks for school. It was just chance that the backpacks matched their outfits too. And, yes, I have proof now that Susan shops at Wal-Mart! :)

That afternoon, more good friends from Washington, the Park family, stopped by on their way through moving to Georgia. It was great to see them again. They have been travelling and vacationing all month and were finally getting close to their final destination...their new home in Georgia. We're happy they will be closer to us now.

That evening, all the kids hung out at the house while Mike, Nikki, Eric, I and Susan had dinner at The Cracker Barrel. (The above picture was taken outside Cracker Barrel after dinner). It was the Parks first time to Cracker Barrel, so we were happy to be part of that momentous occasion. :)

Susan mixing eggs for brunch casserole to be for breakfast the next morning.

That night McKell slept over at our house with Gabby and Jesikah while the rest stayed at a hotel. The next day they took off for Georgia. (Above, McKell, Gabby, and Jesikah)

Above in the picture (l to r) is Nikki, Alex, Paige, and Gabby. Alex and their daughter, Paige, have always been hot and cold in getting along, but Alex admitted after they left that the day they were here was one of the highlights of his summer in addition to Scout Camp and our trip to Washington.

Wildlife in our Backyard

Over the last few weeks, we have spotted two doe and a couple of baby deer several times in our backyard. I hope to get a better picture of the deer with the babies in toe eventually. We have also seen a few bunnies. I got a few pictures of the deer and bunnies below. We also enjoy watching the birds.

My best picture of the deer I think.

I like this picture of the deer looking back.

This one has big ears.

Both in the same picture

The brave little bunny

Eric took a few pictures of one of the cardinals that is a frequent visitor to our backyard. We love to sit out on our back deck, listen to soft music, and watch for wildlife and birds.

He's facing forward

From the back

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Learned a little Too Much!!

The afternoon after Alex and Eric returned from Scout Camp, Eric was taking a nap and I was busy doing other things. Alex kept asking us if he could build a fire and we kept saying no. Well, a little later I went out the basement door and this is what I found. Although I was a little irritated that he hadn't listened to me, I was proud of him for wanting to use his camp skills and I thought the fire was pretty cute and harmless. Things changed when it went out a little while later and he started pouring gasoline on it to get it going again. That was the end of the fire!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Boy Scout Camp 2009

This year our Scout troop went to a LDS encampment that included 10 Stakes or about 750 people. We went to Camp Buck Tom in eastern Tennessee, near Chattanooga. It is positioned in the western part of the Smokey Mountains. We left at 8am on the 11th of July and traveled close to 3.5 hours. We had 14 boys and 5 leaders from our troop go. Here are some of the highlights from the week that we spent there.

One the first day, the boys chose their tents and bunk mates and the leaders put up their tents. Our tent had air conditioning, courtesy of one of the leaders. Here we are relaxing after a busy morning. This is Alex and Matt's tent. Ty Parsons is also in the picture.

Here are the leaders that went with Troop 528. Starting from the left, Steele Parsons, Blaine Fuller, Loren Richards, me, and Heath Tennyson. Heath is actually about a foot taller than me, but I asked him to stand in a ditch so I wouldn't be the shortest. This is the group that kept the boys in line. Actually it was just Steele that kept them in line, while the rest of us took it easy in our camp chairs.

While Loren can be a nice guy most of the time, every once in a while his darker side gets the best of him and he succumbs to trickery as evidenced by the rabbit ears. My expression shows that I was onto his little game.

Alex, Matt, and Brandyn walking back to camp with me right after our swim test. Each of them made "swimmer", as did I. No one wants to be stuck with the white wrist band (non-swimmer).

Alex is getting ready to hit the sack in this picture. He bunked with Matt Fuller, who couldn't have been a better bunk mate. The two had a good time along with Nick, Jeremy and others. The tents were pretty nice; a lot better than I had growing up. Matt said that he was glad to have Alex in his tent because each night Alex would take care of all the spiders by spraying them.

Here is a picture of all the scouts that came. It was a LDS scout camp with 600 scouts and an additional 150 leaders. It made for quite a large campfire and church service on Sunday. It was an awesome sight to see so many. What was more amazing was how reverent the service was.

Loren Richards and I did most everything together during the camp. We helped out at the shotgun range in the mornings and worked the waterfront in the afternoons. We enjoyed the canoeing the best and spent more time playing around in the canoes than helping the boys most days. At least they learned what not to do in a canoe. On Friday we went white water rafting down the Ocoee river with Heath.

During the week, the leaders were busy with helping out at the mess hall, cleaning the bathrooms and showers, and helping out or teaching merit badge classes. In our spare time we could do a list of activities to earn a Scoutmaster merit badge. One of those was making a walking stick. Here I am carving mine and kissing it for good luck.

People will know that I (Eric) am posting this because Rozanne would never post a picture like this. I swear it was a leaky canteen. We all had a good laugh. Knowing Matt, one of our scouts, it is on Facebook already.

Alex and I outside my air-conditioned tent. It seems the area outside our tent was the popular spot, where we had all our chairs set up. We gathered there each night, after lunch and between classes to chat and shoot the breeze.

Alex working with his friend Brandyn in Pioneering. Alex also took Aviation, Lifesaving, and Rowing. I was proud of him for accomplishing so much. In Lifesaving he had to swim a half mile, show he could save drowning persons varied ways and bring a 15lb bowling ball off the floor of the lake at a depth of 8 feet.

As mentioned above, one of the classes Alex took was Aviation. He got to go to an airfield for a field trip and check out the planes. Here he is with his friend Nick Howe. Alex was lucky enough to have friends in each of his classes.

Photo opportunity with Brother Gibson of the General Young Men's Presidency. And I am not fat, even though it may look it in this picture. I blame the pants.

Alex with Brother Gibson (photo courtesy of Jeremy Howe)

Alex is enjoying his time with his friends, (from the left) Chris, Nick, Matt, Jeremy, and Bryan. This is just before the closing campfire.

The leaders had to bring their own chairs because there was only enough room for the boys in the ampitheater. I am sitting next Heath Tennyson and Loren Richards. Blaine Fuller is up two people from Loren. We did most things together during the campout.

Beautiful Sunrise on the morning we left...beautiful for many reasons, mainly because we were leaving. Matt our Senior patrol leader took this picture.

Overall it was a great time. I valued the opportunity to spend time with Alex, the leaders, and the other young men from our troop. I could have done without the humidity, heat, night time severe weather warnings and thunderstorms, humidity, bugs and humidity. But such is camping in the South I suppose.