Mar 24, 2009

Top Ten Memories: Spring Break with the Dixons

For the last week we have enjoyed the company of my brother's wife and his three children. It's a rare treat to host family at all, let alone cousins! We are so glad Rachel braved the plane ride and week-long adventure with Devlin (age 5), Eve (3), and Iris (6 months). We made some amazing memories together. Here are the top ten.

10. General Merriment.
The kids found all sorts of things to do with each other during their stay. When they weren't out in the yard -- digging in the sand pit, playing on the swings, shooting hoops, riding bikes, or just running around -- they were playing board games, reading books, coloring, playing Wii Sports, or pretending in some fashion or another. Devlin's imagination was usually the force behind play time. We found that was mostly wonderful, but sometimes his imagination and Zach's mischievousness made for an interesting combination. One day in the sand pit the boys constructed a lovely "fire pit" for roasting marshmallows. This was a fun idea for a pretend camping trip, but Rachel was lucky enough to intercept the boys as they came inside in search of real matches!

9. Family Home Evening.
Because we just started reading the Book of Mormon again, presenting a lesson on Lehi's vision of the tree of life (from 1 Nephi 8-11) seemed perfect. I was grateful to have a packet with a lesson outline and fabulous visual aids to pull out at the last minute! The boys were especially enthusiastic about answering questions and I was impressed with their knowledge.

For an activity to supplement the lesson, I made a path through the family room with laundry baskets, blankets, and pillows that led, in a meandering way, to the teepee at one end of the room. For the first round, Zachary was the guide (or the Holy Ghost) that led a blindfolded Tyler and Devlin through the maze with his voice only. When it was Zachary's turn to be blindfolded, Tyler and Devlin took turns directing Zach. For a while Garry pretended to be Satan and shouted out random directions. It was pretty funny.

8. Having girlies in the house.
It was such a novelty for our family to have little girls around! I loved the influx of flowers and dresses and pink and pigtails. (I'm getting excited for that to be a permanent feature at this house.) Little Eve, who is three, felt a little outnumbered with so many boys around. We weren't quite sure if she could tell Zachary and Tyler apart! She kept referring to both of them as "the boy." That definitely made us laugh.

7. Eating together.
Throw nine people around a dinner table and there's bound to be an adventure! We quickly learned not to cry over spilled milk. I was thrilled that Rachel offered to cook three times. We enjoyed a new crock pot variety of macaroni and cheese, a tasty Olive Garden-ish soup, and the boys' favorite: poofy pancakes. Yum! The first night our cousins were here was St. Patrick's Day, so the dinner that night was all green, including some colored Rice Krispy treats.

6. Bedtime.
No matter how successful the days were, the parents always looked forward to bedtime. Devlin and Eve slept on air mattresses in Zach and Ty's bedroom, and though it was wonderful for the big cousins to all sleep in one room, it encouraged rowdiness instead of sleep and very early morning waking. After the first night was a little hairy, we took steps toward making bedtime smoother. (The biggest step: starting very early. Another: banning air mattress jumping after one popped.) We hit our stride when Rachel offered to sing lullabies to the kids before bed. (She has an incredible voice; my children have definitely been spoiled!) And after promising the kids the option of switching beds the next night if they behaved, we achieved perfection on Night Three.

5. Labeling the yard.
Remember "The Orange Incident" from Thanksgiving 2008? Its sequel, "Marker Mayhem," happened on Saturday. (Apparently not all cousin memories can be pleasant.) In this case, the three boys found a turquoise marker we had used earlier in the day to label sandwich bags and took it upon themselves to label planter bricks, flagstone pavers, the fence, the house, and various other inanimate objects.

After recovering from the shock of our children's confessions, Rachel and I assembled a clean-up party. It was moderately successful in diminishing the impact of the graffiti, but I think it was resoundingly effective in driving home what "permanent" means.

4. An outing to McDonald's.
On Zachary's first day of Spring Break, Garry joined us all for lunch at McDonald's. The kids were all so well-behaved and we had a marvelous time. These four, in particular, got along famously. We enjoyed ice cream cones for an extra-special treat. Gavin's reactions to his first-ever ice cream cone were priceless. I think he was as excited to be included in a big-person treat as he was to actually taste the ice cream!

3. Playing at the park(s).
We enjoyed time at three different parks this week since the weather was so wonderful. The backyard play structure and sand pit were also very popular. On Saturday our picnic at Cottonwood Creek park left most of us a little sunburned! We were so glad for the opportunities that all the kids had to run and play. Burning off extra energy was a daily priority.

2. Functioning in a household with six children ages seven and under.
It was quite exhausting catering to the needs of so many small ones, but overall, we did amazingly well. Rachel and I joked that polygamist households probably have
one perk; it sure was nice having two adult women to manage housework and childcare all day! Throwing an awesome Daddy into the mix at night and over the weekend was terrific, too.

We were glad to have the Odyssey to safely cart around six kids in five car seats, and to have the space in our house to comfortably accommodate so many people.

1. Climbing trees in the "greenway."
Just behind our house is a public walking path that is flanked with grass and trees. The pines are perfect for climbing, and the boys had all kinds of adventures in the tall, tall branches. The trees were space ships, secret forts, army bases, and untold other havens for little-boy imaginations. This was hands-down the most-requested activity of the week. We were happy to successfully avoid injuries, although Rachel had to rescue Devlin on more than one occasion. Zachary's shoe fell off one time, too, making his descent a little treacherous. Luckily Eve and Gavin were happy to admire their brothers from the ground.

Come back soon, fun cousins!
We had a fabulous week with you!

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