Saturday, December 18, 2010

Abby's Highlights Video (Age 0-6)

There was no way I was going to get away not making a video for princess Abby!
Here are some of the highlights of our videos and pictures of Abby.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Monica tries boogie boarding

And the video editing continues. This is from our cruise this last fall in the eastern Caribbean. Monica had wanted to go on a cruise for a long time but the idea of sitting around poolside and stuffing myself with food never sounded appealing. But Mon kept the pressure on and found a way to save money by teaching scrap booking classes on-board and also found a cruise ship that had a wave ( flow rider) on it. She knew saving money and surfing are two ways to change my heart.

We had fantastic time. I was blown away by how much fun I had. From dancing, sailing, eating, meeting a ton of cool people, and riding the flow rider, we had great time.

Monica spent most her mornings resting poolside or doing scrap booking stuff while I hung out with the teenagers at the flow rider. Surfing the wave proved to be pretty tough and I'm certainly not going to be joining any pro-tours soon. But the boogie boarding was surprisingly fun. After several days, I finally talked Mon into giving it a try.

****Again, I'm realizing when I post videos on the blog from Youtube, the widescreen video doesn't fit very well in the window provided and also the advertisements are placed directly over my witty comments. To avoid both these problems I suggest clicking on the Youtube button on the bottom right and watching the video from YouTube's site. From there you can click on the 'x' on the ads and they'll go away.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Caleb's Highlights Video Ages 0-8

Here's my new creation. It makes me very proud to see all the things that Caleb likes to do. I'm very blessed to have two perfect children.
They YouTube advertisements cover up some of my fancy editing, so it's better to watch on Youtube's site and then close out the ads as they pop up.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Video Time

Santa came early and brought me a new laptop with new video editing.
Here's my first video.

I finally captured one of Caleb's goals on video. He scores a lot, but I never had the video recorder ready. The video starts as the opposing team was throwing the ball from the side line, but they had two illegal throw-ins, (the first one, Caleb tried to head butt the ball). Then the ref gave the ball to Caleb's team and Caleb quickly ran to the open space, got the pass and scored the goal. That a Boy!!!

Or you can watch it in HD here

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Caleb Wakeboarding

Though it's been a fairly cool summer, we've still managed to spend a good amount of time at our favorite summer place, Loon Lake. Monica's parents have a place out there on the water that provides us with ample opportunity for all kinds of water sports. We had many days at the lake this summer, but the highlight has to be watching Caleb, 8, learn to wakeboard. He showed some interest in wakeboarding after watching some of my wakeboarding DVD's this last winter and as the weather got warmer, he kept talking about it. So for my birthday, I bought Caleb and Abby a wakeboard. Abby decided to stick mostly to kneeboarding, but Caleb was excited to learn how to wakeboard. He tried many times over several days, only tolerating a few crashes at a time before getting back in the boat. But he never got discouraged and was eager to try again the next time out on the boat. He eventually started to pick it up and before we knew it, he was wakeboarding for a few minutes at a time.
It's always emotional for me to see my kids accomplish something new. I feel like a sap of a parent as I cheer them on from the outside, but bursting with tears on the inside. And watching Caleb wakeboard was no different. Caleb especially loves to wakeboard when we have guests on the boat. He's becoming quite the ham (He must get that from his Mom). Though he tries to maintain a serious look on his face and it takes all the energy he has to not let show his big cheesy grin. It's quite the site and once again makes me feel very thankful for he and Abby in my life.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Abby's Power

Recently, Abby came up to Monica and me and told us how the deer come up to her when she plays her toy recorder. She then showed us the wind instrument and even danced around the kitchen like some sort of snake trainer. Mon and I looked her and then each other, and laughed at our perfect little princess. Abby does have quite the imagination and expresses random thoughts nearly every day about her being a princess, librarian, or a rock star.

She is our self-entertainer and can be found in her room playing hours on end with dolls, singing to herself, or teaching her stuffed animals how to read. So when she told us of her new talent of being some sort of deer whisperer, it was easy to down-play as a make-believe story. And then something extraordinary happened a few weeks ago. Abby quietly yelled for Monica and me to come to the front door to see the deer she had called over. When we got to the front door and looked out the screen door, we both could barely believe our eyes. Abby had played her small recorder-like instrument at the front door and apparently a small fawn walked right up to the front porch, never loosing eye-contact with Abby. It was amazing. Mon told me to take a picture with my phone to prove that it really did happen. I always knew that Abby was an angel sent from the heavens, and this may be the proof.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Great Big Hole

Keeping our yard green through the summer takes a good amount of effort. We have no sprinkler system and with a couple acres of grass it means a lot of moving around hoses and sprinklers. I've come to love our little traveling sprinklers that I can turn on at night and they water a large portion of lawn while we sleep. We probably have 400 feet of hoses that feed different areas of our yard, including Wallace park (our flat yard in front that's approximatly 1.5 acres of grass). The vast majority of the water comes from one outside faucet, a frost free yard hydrant to be exact.
A few days ago as I was heading out of town for a boys camping trip, I went to turn on the water and noticed no water was coming out of the yard hydrant. I literally had the car packed and running when I discovered that something was wrong. I knew that not watering the lawn for 5-6 days could potentially cause a lot of damage, but my plans of camping sounded a lot better than fixing the problem. And I was right, camping was a lot more fun than fixing the problem.
When I got home I started investigating what could be the problem and hoped that it was just bad valve in the hydrant. The only problem was that hydrants are buried deep in the ground to avoid freezing and I had no idea how deep. My trusty Kubota back hoe would be the perfect tool in digging up the hydrant, but it is inches away from our well and main water line, which meant that after scratching the surface with the tractor, it was down to me and the shovel.
I gave myself a little head start on digging with the tractor, but then I had to start digging by hand...and digging...and digging...and digging. I followed the hydrant down 3-4 feet and started to wonder if I had some different type of faucet or hydrant. I made some calls to some different home-improvement stores and found that one of them carried an 8-foot hydrant, 2 feet above ground and 6-feet below ground. What are the chances that I owned the house with the elusive 8-foot hydrant? Why would I be writing this blog post if it weren't the case?
I ended up have to dig 6 1/2 feet down. At around the 5 foot mark, it was too hard to throw the dirt out of the hole, so I just put the dirt to the side inside the hole and essentially dug a smaller shovel-sized hole at the bottom of my big hole where I could get on my knees and bend over with my shoulder on the ground to reach the bottom of the hydrant. Once the hole was dug, it was an easy fix of just unscrewing the old unit and replacing it with the new one.
I spent the good portion of an entire day on that hole, and the problem seems to be fixed. It's days like this that owning a condo sound really nice.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Caleb's iPod

For Caleb's birthday we bought him an ipod itouch. While your picking your jaw up off the ground wondering why I would spend more than $15 on my kids birthday gift, let me attempt to justify the purchase. We don't have a game console like a Wii or an Xbox and the $200 iPod and the hundreds of free or $1 games is much cheaper in the long run. Caleb has been playing with my iPhone for a long time it had become quite annoying that he always had my phone. It's been amazing how fast he's learned to navigate around my phone. I'm not sure if that means that Apple makes very user-friendly products or that Caleb is a genius? The clincher on buying the iTouch was that he was able to send texts while in wifi range. I knew that he'd love to communicate with me, Monica, and his extended family via text and since he's had it, he's struck up funny conversations with his Grandpa Wallace and other family members. On this first night with his text capabilities, he chatted with me a few times while I was at work and then ended the texting chat with "I'm going to sleep now. P.S. don't text me back." How cool is that?

He's learned all about his new toy since he had it and has even stated teaching me things. Compared to the other toys that's he's gotten that only keep his attention for a few days, he's always wanting to play with his iPod. Which brings me to the last reason that we bought him an ipod touch, leverage. With even a simple threat of taking away is iPod, we're seeing an great amount of behavior improvements. He's even doing his chores more! It may sound mean to some (probably people without kids), but leverage works great with kids. Just ask Santa Claus.

Mt. Hood with the Wallaces

We spent a week with my parents, brother, sister and their families at Mt. Hood, OR in July. My parents rented a house in Government Camp, OR where we all slept, yes, all of us. That's nine kids under the age of eight, for those at home counting.

We spent a day playing at local ski resort, Ski Bowl, that they've set up with all kinds of rides and games for the summer season. The highlight of the day was the alpine slide that we played on most of the morning. Describing the slide is similar to that of a mile long water slide, but without the water. We rode up to the top on the ski lift and then down the slide on plastic sleds. Since most of us adults had little kids with us, we were given different sleds to accommodate two people, and we soon learned that these two-man sleds were much faster than the other ones. Todd, Josh and I were soon racing as fast as we could down the mountain, but unlike most testosterone-raged races, we had small children with us for padding in the event of a crash. Even the kids had had blast. The five older kids Caleb, 8, Jaxon, 7, Michelle, 7, Abby, 6, Chase, 6, (our niece, Michelle, was also with us) rode up the lift and down the slide non-stop.

We did have one incident that day when Chase crashed his sled. We're still not sure exactly what happened, but somehow he ended upside-down on the slide. Caleb claims that Chase was going so fast that he ran into the back of Caleb's sled and crashed. Which begs the question, why was Caleb going so slow? But an adult who was on the lift above the crash said that Chase wasn't near anyone when he crashed. Since I know Chase's and Caleb's dads well and I'm very familiar with the trouble they caused as kids, I tend to believe that we're not getting the whole story. We may never know.

We also spent a day at OMSI in Portland. A great place that every kid in the Northwest should see. The kids got to see all kinds exhibits from dinosaurs to a tour of an actual submarine. My personal highlight was in a certain area of the museum where there were a bunch of types of puzzles and mind-teasers, and we all tried to solve them. Unfortunately for me, it was another one of those days that I have realized that I was adopted. To see my parents, brothers, sisters, and wife struggle so mightily with simple illusions was quite painful. I helped them as much as possible, but there was only so much I could do with their feeble minds.

(* Quick side-note before I see my wife and am banished to to basement couch, I may have gone to the information desk a few times at OMSI and looked up the answers to the questions. Some may call this cheating, by I call it using all my resources).

The other major activity of the trip was a day spent at the Portland Zoo. The kids had a great time seeing and learning about all the different animals. We even saw the elephants poo and pee again. I'm starting to believe there is a genetic trait in elephants that causes them to relieve themselves around my children.

The trip was a complete success. The days spent as a family are always filled with our own special mixture of laughter, cynicism, and political rants. The kids adored the time spent with their cousins. The food is always excellent and I'm fairly certain I gained 10 lbs.

A huge thanks goes to my Mom and Dad for all their generosity. We all had a fantastic time.

Please click on the link below to see the pictures from the vacation.

Spring Update

I know, I's been too long since I've posted on the blog, I'll try to be better. Here's a few highlights of the last few months.

*In a recent conversation with Caleb (8) about what he wanted to be when he grows up, he was naming off the different proffessional sports, trying to select just one. Abby, who usually says that she wants to be the lady at the library that scans the books, joined in the converstation by asking, "Dad, do rock-stars make money?" I laughed and said that indeed, rock-stars do make lots of money and then she anounced that she wanted to be a rock-star.
*We made a quick trip to Medford over Memorial weekend. The kids spent the whole time with Grandma, Grandpa, and cousins. While Monica and I ran a booth for her business at a scrapbook convention. Mon does a show like this 2-3 times a year, but this was the first time I had worked with her. I came away with a whole new perspective on Mon's business. I learned that Monica works very hard at these shows, not enouch play time for me. And I also learned that Monica is very popular amoung the scrapbookers of the Northwest. She's a celebrity! 1000 miles of driving in 5 days later and we were home.

Putting the sexy back into Scrapbooking

Wallace Men with a little Fyer

*I hate to become one of those parents who always boasts about how awesome their kids are...but my kids are awesome! Caleb has been doing very well in baseball this spring! You'll have to trust my biased opinion that he kicks butt. He's played 8-9 games so far and he's had a home run in every game. And yes, it's true that in his coach-pitch league, a ball hit into the outfield can usually turn into a home-run as long as the kid keeps running around the bases, but Caleb has had some great hits. Caleb, Abby and I usually play baseball, soccer, or football several days a week at Wallace Park (our huge front yard), so Caleb has had a lot of time with a bat and a glove. It's hard to tell if he's better than the other kids due to playing a lot more or if he has some natural talent, but one thing is for sure, he and I are both having a blast during little league.

*Our little princess Abby turned 6 in May. This spring she asked several times to learn how to ride a "two-wheeler" or a bike without training wheels. I must admit that though my kids have had many more opportunities than most kids (skiing, boating, motorcycles, etc.), niether kid has had the chance to spend much time on their bikes. Since we have a gravel driveway and live on top of a hill, riding around the house isn't ideal. Infact, we keep their bikes at Grandma and Grandpa Foster's house since they live in a traditional nieghborhood cul-de-sac. But Abby wasn't going to be denied her chance of being a "big girl" and after a few practice runs with me and her Grandpa Foster, she was flying around the neighboorhood with the other kids. We were given a older Barbie bike that she used despite it's wobley rear wheel. But to someone who's never riden a bike, she probably thought all bikes shook back and forth as they were ridden. After a couple months of doing the bike version of the Jitter-bug dance, she saw a newer, cleaner, less crooked(er) Disney Princess Bike. After a little haggeling with Abby doing her best puppy-face impression, she now has a bike at home that she rides nearly everyday. Which was quite comical at the beggining since we only have a small 30 feet by 30 feet concrete pad so she would just ride in circles all the time. She's since sprouted her wings and is now riding her bike up and down our long gravel driveway.

Princess Abby with Grandpa Wallace

Abby playing with her cousin Ella in Medford

Caleb's birthday. We're a fine looking family!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Easter Traditions

I think it's now official: We have Easter family traditions. For the last few years, the Spokane Foster family has met out our house for an egg hunt and great food. It's always nice getting everyone together and letting the kids play.
We had another nice Easter Sunday with the usual activities. The only difference this year were that Caleb no longer believed the story of a bunny sneaking into our house bringing gifts and hiding eggs. He kept asking questions about how a bunny could pull off such a feat, and after asking to have his Mom explain several times, I broke down and told him it's all a fun story for little kids (and to boost commercial sales of eggs and chocolate). He promised not to tell his little sister, Abby, but we'll see how long that lasts.

The kids all sporting their new T-shirts from Grandma and Grandpa Foster. Some kids are apparently more happy with their shirts than others.

The oldest and the youngest of the Foster grand kids, Caleb and Zoe.

Abby and Caleb Easter Morning.

What would Easter be without guns and balls?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring Break in the Snow

Spring Break in Spokane is a little different than what I was accustomed to while growing up in southern Oregon, mainly because it usually involves snow. And even this year, with record low amounts of snow, we still had snow over spring break. But by doing what's becoming a family tradition, we took full advantage and hit the slopes. We were even blessed with 8 inches of the fresh stuff on the last Saturday of the season, ironically making the last day of the year one of the best days of the year .
Caleb and Abby continue to get better and better at skiing. Particularly Caleb has grown into quite an aggressive skier. He's doesn't have the best form yet, but what he lacks in skill, he makes up for in courage. He loves to brag to anyone who will listen that he thinks the ski runs that are rated as 'black diamond' are "easy". It is true that he'll go down just about any slope on the mountain, but I'm not sure why he has to boast about it all the time? He must get that cockiness from his Mom.
Caleb did humble himself one time while tree skiing when he fell into a large hole under a tree where there was no snow. I was in front and by the time I realized he had crashed and taken off my snowboard, he was in tears wondering if anybody was going to find him. Poor kid was in a hole taller than him, and stuck at such an angle that he couldn't reach down to take off his skis. I had to lye on my stomach to reach down and pull him out. But after wiping away the big tears and a short hug, he was flying down the mountain again.
We also filled up some Spring Break days with other activities like going to a few movies and watching our local Arena Football team the Spokane Shock. The movie after a day of skiing wiped out poor Abby (see picture below), but not to worry, Caleb and I took care of her popcorn and drink. And the Shock games are always a blast. Of course they lost (mainly because I was rooting for them and attended the game), but we had a great time and we all got a free Taco Bell Chalupa since they scored 65+ points. Go Shock!!
It would be nice to have spring weather during spring break one year, but until then we'll continue to take advantage of our time together.

He requested this picture with the double black diamond name plate in the back ground.

This is a ski run that Monica doesn't even go down.

You didn't think I was going to spend the money and buy good seats did you?

Movie time. Thank goodness she wore her sun glasses to the movie???

Caleb and his homeless looking smile.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Losing Ways

The last month has treated me well...kinda. I've had the chance to go see some of my favorite teams play in person. Some buddies from work and I went down to the bay area to watch Gonzaga play against the University of Santa Clara and University of San Francisco. Though an avid sports fan all my life, I can count on one hand how many big-time games I've seen in person. And the games didn't let me down. The Zags didn't play well against either team, but the atmosphere was electric in both of them. I can see why fans can really get hooked on attending college basketball games. They did beat Santa Clara...barely, but they lost to the Dons of USF a few nights later.
It wasn't but a few weeks later that my Dad treated my brother in law, my brother, and me to a Utah Jazz game against the Sacramento Kings. Anybody who knows me, knows I'm a very big fan of the Jazz. Ever since boyhood, I've followed the Jazz closely along with the rest of my family. We met in Sac-town, ate some great barbecue and then headed to the stadium and our third row seats! I've gone to a few NBA games, but never sat this close to the game. We all wore Jazz shirts and stuck out like a sore thumb surrounded by King fans. We got noticed by a few players and even saluted by Carlos Boozer during warm ups. (my knees almost buckled, do you think he likes me??) The Jazz didn't play well, even though they came into the game on a win streak and were playing against one of the worst teams in the league. They lost by a few points but it was still a cool adventure. NBA games are very different from college games, it's much more entertainment than the pure basketball that college games provide. It was great to hang with the Wallace men (and Fryer I suppose) for an evening.
Then a few weeks later, I set out for Las Vegas to watch Gonzaga play in their conference tournament. Because they had the best record of the conference, they had a bye to the semi-finals. Which meant they only had to win two games. Gonzaga had a huge following and the arena was 90% zag fans and they were there to party! The crowd was screaming every play for the essential home team. They played well their first game, but struggled mightily during the conference finals and lost. Are you sensing a trend here? Me too. Maybe I should stick to cheering my teams from the comforts of my own living room....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Turkey Take Over

We live in a beautiful place. We love our house, but we especially love the location. We're surrounded by empty acreage which makes our relatively small five acres feel like hundreds. One of the great things that we've come to enjoy is the wild life. Aside from the gophers, who we've made enemies with, the rest of the animals are majestic to watch in there natural settings...until now.

The turkeys have been our on again/off again friends. Friends when they hang out outside the lawn, NOT friends when they stay on the lawn and....cough...cough...leave "fertilizer" all over the place. Because, please remember, though turkeys are birds, they don't leave behind cute little turkey...muffins, they leave behind dinosaur-sized muffins!

It's usually not that bad since the turkeys normally hang out in groups of 10-15. But this winter, the turkey (flocks? cackles? groups? posse's?) have combined for some reason to amass in numbers of 60-80!! I tried to count them a few times and I got up to 67 before they scattered.

I'm not sure of these turkeys' master plan. But I'm a little concerned about a hostile take-over with their sharp talons. If we are attacked by turkeys, don't tell me that I didn't warn you.