May 31, 2011

In Memory...


April 6, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!!!

May 26, 2011

End of the Year Awards

It's that time of the year when everything is winding down before summer and we have the finals.  The final lacrosse game, the spring concerts, field day at the elementary school, the end of the year sports banquets, the last day of French breakfast-in-class.  I was ping ponging between activities yesterday thinking that we are either really blessed with rich opportunity or overbooked.  One of those two.

Big Girl had her first scrimmage at the end of an "instructional" season of lacrosse.  When they are at this level there are no games during the season and the coaches run around on the field with the girls shouting instructions into their ears.  There's no one posted at the goal to defend should someone decide to shoot and we all cheer the loudest when someone actually catches a pass from a team mate.  During most sports events, I am used to watching my kids be the hesitant players out there.  If someone from my family actually scores once during an entire season we talk about it all the time and it goes down in history with boys arguing as to what really happened out there.  As I watched my daughter on the field, I had to do a double take.  Was that tiger out there actually my flesh and blood?  She was getting in everybody's business and not taking no for an answer.  I had to laugh watching her as they were positioning themselves in offense/defense poses.  The whistle to start play had not yet been blown, but here was my undersized 8 yr old vying for the spot in front of her opponent.  The other player would re-position herself one half step closer to center field and then pop out her hip.  Big Girl would imitate her move, and so on and so forth.  I found out later there was also some words about cheating from the hip popping girl.  Big girl was having none of that trashy talk!  I see her really going places with this sport.
She is number 22

Proud of herself
She couldn't be more pleased with the participation trophy she received, and she carried it around all evening not wanting to leave it behind in the car while we went to a concert at the middle school.  So cute!  Little Girl was content with her bouquet of clover picked in the grass during her sister's scrimmage.


On to the spring concert for Little Boy....  He is currently first chair, and although I missed the 'tuning up with the first chair violinist' part, it does my heart good to know it happened.  It's probably best I wasn't there to be seen gloating.  He was moved down from that position a while back and just regained it a couple weeks ago.  It's an honorable position.  One which our family has never had a chance to be in until now.  They sounded wonderful and so much improved from the winter concert I could hardly believe it.  I wish I had brought my video camera but I am lame and forgetful like that.  The girls were very antsy and it was unbearably hot in that gym, so we headed out to the hallway where there were fans and room to roam. 
Free at last!
Peek-a boo.  I have my first sports trophy!
Then at the end I started to hear an awards ceremony taking place.  Surely there would be some awards for my first chair violinist son, so we rushed back in there.  He did receive two awards.  One for being in honor's orchestra last winter

The posing girl to his right has been seen flirting with my innocent boy
He also received an award for (from what I could understand from the description) having parents willing to fork out money for private lessons.  It was a bit weird when those three stood up.  Still I snapped a picture.  We make great sacrifice to pay for those lessons, I think it's worth a photo op.
The other embarrassing part was his un-tucked shirt... Oh well
Then his awesome orchestra teacher handed out several awards for different reasons.  She'd get choked up while saying this kid never gave up or that kid was always so happy no matter what she dished out.  She gave an award for the most responsible kid to leave in charge.  One girl got 8 awards in total!  That was one over achieving Korean girl!  Every time Ms V would go on about how much she loved this or that student for this or that reason I was thinking 'oh this has to be about Little Boy' and it wouldn't be him.  Later my son told me that she was giving out awards to the 8th graders who were leaving.  My son is in 6th grade.  That made me feel better, (why do I care so much?  I tried to show indifference).  I know she likes my kid a lot so in 2013 I am anticipating about 6-7 awards.  I have learned that you don't try and top the Asians when it comes to violin.  You will only end up depressed.

Little Boy told me that when they combined orchestras for one number with the 7-8th grade advanced students, that he sat by the award winning Korean girl.  They are both first chairs in their age groups.  She turned to him and said (possibly joking), "I play really loud and strong, so I might actually hurt your ears... sorry."  I watched as he hung tough with her.  His bowing strong, his vibrato almost there.  To be honest the orchestra pieces are not that challenging for a student with private lessons.  I never even hear them played at home, but you can tell by watching who's got the strong leadership bowing and who is following a half second behind.  The trick is to watch the tips of the bows and see who is ahead.  So like I said, he's hanging in there like a champ.  When the number was over she turned to him and said "Hmm... you're actually good."  That statement was worth way more than her 8 slips of paper printed out that afternoon on the school's printer.  I guess we'll keep having T moonlight to pay for those lessons after all. 

Looking up to his 8th grade 'friend'

May 25, 2011

The House Decline

The previous owners of our current house were nothing like us.  A husband and wife in their sixties who's children (2) had left the nest.  They maintained a business from the house.  The office is now a playroom. In fact when I google my address, it comes up as the storage facility business they owned.  They were gardeners.  They were crafty.  They were ex-hippies.  She had an entire wall of the master bedroom dedicated to clothing stored in a wardrobe they had purchased from IKEA.  She had a lot of clothes!!!  But before you judge her to harshly she also knew how to make a bamboo coffee table with wrought iron legs she crafted herself, and boy could she do a nice rag technique on the walls.  Everyone asks me about it.  I always give her credit.

When we all happened to be in the same kitchen of the home during the stage where they were almost moved out and we were still at the Holiday Inn, she voiced real concern about the birds.  They had taken down the bird feeder and the birds were confused.  "Please have a heart and get a new feeder up as soon as possible.  The poor birds are starving!  They keep coming here and wondering where the food is"  She said with real worry in her voice.  Then she had her husband show me where they hang it just outside the windows.  We did as we were told, and we have enjoyed the bird show outside our window.  However I am quite certain that I do not keep the supply of bird seed coming as steadily as Sammie did.  In fact I totally stop feeding them for weeks until I can remember to get some seed at the grocery store.  No I don't go to the fancy 'Naturalist' store for my seed.  It's super expensive there. Once I did buy into the line about it being less full of the junk the birds let drop to the ground making it lasting longer.  I bought my one bag and decided the birds were pigging out just as fast.  I won't go back.  I bet Sammie would have though.

Sammie would probably be upset with the amount of weeds in her yard.  Especially on the South fence.  The bamboo is out of control.  That is one tricky weed to  keep up with!  I am raising children here not flower beds.  Although I am always impressed with a nicely tended yard.  Maybe I can train the kids to weed the yard.  At least I have kept up the tomato and herb gardens.

We did some improvements to the house with new appliances and automatic garage doors.  Just recently a new driveway was added.  A costly new driveway that ate up our music-lesson stash.  But it had to be done.  Sammie and Jeff's culvert was rotting away.  Anything that goes wrong we can put ownership on them right?

Even though we live very different lifestyles I totally appreciated what Jeff told us on closing day, he said  "We'll leave all the good vibes behind!"

Here is the vibe that was here before we moved in...
And this is the vibe we have going on now...  Keep your criticisms to yourself please.

Purple rag paint job... for M-Cat to see.  Does it seem dark?  We have gotten used to it.

Another rag job

May 13, 2011

The Oreo Decoy

I just managed to eat 3 Oreo cookies (three is my limit- most of the time) in the same room as my youngest daughter and she hasn't caught on in the least.  I am surprised because she is known to smell chocolate on your breath from the 3rd row back in the mini van.  The secret today was timing.  I waited until she finished her lunch and started playing with a toy car on the ground saying "are you watching this mom?"  I snuck over to the cupboard and grabbed my dessert along with a tall glass of skim milk to wash them down, and acted natural.  "Are you watching this Little Girl?" I thought in my head.  Neither of us watching.  I looked at Facebook and nibbled silently and she looked at the floor playing with her car, and we both minded our own business.  As long as she doesn't get a whiff of my breath at story time before her nap we are good to go.

I used to resent my parents having special food in the house that was for the adults only.  My Dad had his special block of sharp cheddar.  My mother had her 100% pure Welches grape juice, while the rest of the family drank juice made from concentrate.  She also loved a good chocolate stash not to be consumed by the masses in the house.  Although she'd share a bite with you if you caught her in the act of eating it.  She wasn't completely heartless.  As a kid I thought I would never make my kids feel second class with food.  But after trying to keep up with the massive amounts of food my teenaged boys eat, I can see that some foods just need to be saved for more adult palates.  Mouths that actually take the time to chew.

Here's a yogurt example:  My favorite flavor of yogurt is the Yoplait key lime pie flavored yogurt.  Unfortunately it is everyone's favorite around here.  I will buy 6, and the very next day I go to eat one and there are none to be had.  I felt a bit crazy at the grocery store buying 14 of them.  I just explained to the clerk that I simply have to get that many if I expect to get one myself.  It's nuts!  So I must have been thinking this way during my entire shopping trip on Tuesday because I found myself doubling up on everything.  Two containers of yogurt covered pretzels, two packages of Oreos, two bags of corn chips.  You know, the important stuff.  It had been a while since my family had seen Oreos and the week before when my husband brought home a package for our mother's day dessert (ice cream with Oreos), the package was voided within an hour.  Long gone before mother's day even arrived.  I was touched. So this time (Tuesday) I thought I'd better get two packages.

Oreo package number one was devoured on Tuesday (all but 2) and put in the usual spot in the cupboard.  The next day I found that someone had left a couple of crumbs too small for a mouse but had left the package right there in it's spot on the shelf.  How considerate I thought as I threw the empty package in the trash.  I went to the pantry to get the second package... the one I had predicted I would need to get if I wanted to see an Oreo long enough to eat one..... The one only I knew about come to think of it.... and a plan began to formulate in my brain.  Everyone is going to think this full package of Oreos is actually the empty one and they will leave it be for a few days perhaps not knowing it's actually choc full of a boat-load of mystery Oreos.  It will be my little secret.  I will actually get to eat some.  The package will be open in front of everyone, yet fool them all!  What an evil sneaky plan full of revenge yet so absolutely deserved!  My evil chocolate loving heart let out a horrible greedy laugh (inside so as to remain cool and calm in front of my one offspring who still stays at home with me during the day).  I have a feeling my plan may dissolve tonight when they trash the house and see the empty Oreos in the trash.  Shall I go to the extreme measure of taking out that trash before anyone sees it?  Am I that desperate for Oreos?  Perhaps in effort to lose some weight I will leave it there and let the fates decide what happens next.

May 10, 2011

My Mother's Day

In September 2001 I started a memory book for my oldest son.  He was just about to start a new school in Maryland as a second grader and I wrote how nervous he was because he had heard they taught fractions in his new school and that wasn't on the agenda at his old school in Iowa.  He was excited to walk to his new school just around the corner.  As a student who took his mother's van to school he had envied those walking children.  He still prefers not to drive it would seem.  Putting off his driver's license seems foreign to me.

I stumbled across this book this morning, while sorting. It is now the day after mother's day 2011.  I hadn't written very many entries in the book.  In fact the last entry was just as he was about to turn eight.  I must have been busy.  I decided to sit down and write something in it this morning.  I needed some writing therapy.  Mother's day was wonderful, but also hard.  I wrote about the almost-man he is today.  I left out the part where he was running around in the park with his head tucked into his shirt, trying to scare his brother.  He is 17 in body but not always in spirit.  

I spent a lot of time yesterday musing about his future.  Another kid at church who is of age to be on his mission is still at home.  He has had a great upbringing in the church but just doesn't seem ready to go yet.  Will my son be ready?  Dinner times are often silly.  Respect for mom not always what it should be.  Is there a push at the end before 19 where they mature overnight?  That is what I am praying for.  

And yet on Mother's day we reflect about our job as mothers and think "what happened|?'  or "I could have been better."  I know that as recently as Saturday I could have done better.  Where does the fault lie?  With the upbringing or the individual?  Both?  I wonder.  

Mother's Day is also hard because my own mother has passed.  My step mother now too.  The week before mother's day I had my kids signing a card for their new step Grandmother.  "Thanks for being my new Grandma, can't wait to meet you!"  or "Thanks for Mothering my Dad" we wrote.  Should I have called on Mother's Day too?  I thought maybe I'd leave time in her day to hear from her actual offspring first.  I'll call today perhaps.  She is a wonderful addition to our family.

I am grateful for the mother I had for 20 years.  She was a great example of patience, kindness and good child psychology.  I don't believe she had any faults.  It's a hard act for a mother like me to follow.  I hope all the mothers out there had a great day yesterday.  I was spoiled with waffles, bacon and hash browns in bed and a shiny new stainless steel trash can with a silent slow closing lid.  As any mother knows... more silence is a good thing.  A very good thing.

Baby Girl on during her first week home.  What an awesome Mother I was...

May 06, 2011

Small Sperrys

Last night I took my Middle Boy shopping for shoes.  He has made the lacrosse team at school and on game days the team has to dress in a shirt and tie for school.  I find it funny that the boy who absolutely hated church clothes as a kid, and the boy who still highly values his comfort, takes great pride in dressing up with his team at school.  It marks him at school as one of those cool kids from the LAX team and he digs it.  It makes me happy too. 

So at the end of the JV games, while cheering on the varsity kids from the stands, all the boys sport their Sperry topsiders (I know right? So eighties-I had some violet colored imitation Sperrys in 10th grade) with socks and gym shorts. So my poor Middle Boy has to wear his Vans (I know again right? Mine were Hawaiian print and they were real!) and he feels all out of it because he has been forced, sadly, to wear his black lace up shoes to school instead of Sperry topsiders.  As you well know, black lace up Sunday shoes with shorts and sport socks just won't do.  I am all for efficiency in the locker room and for bringing fewer shoes to school.  Plus I wanted to reward him for all his hard work making the team this year.  He almost let his fears show him the door causing him to quit in the middle of try out week.  But he didn't.  So even though there is just one game left, (today) I decided to take him to the mall and look for some Sperrys.  Try as we might there was just nothing in his size.  He's at that awkward size between the boys and men's sizes in shoes.  It did NOT help when I suggested he try the women's size shoe that looked exactly like the one he'd been looking at.  How could I possibly think that would be a solution?  When the clerk suggested the same thing and I said "that's what I was just telling him a moment ago." Middle Boy's mood then went from bad to worse.  I may as well have said "why don't we go shopping for pink tutus after this?"  

Middle Boy has always been little.  He's always hated it.  And as we struck out looking for his size in store after store I watched his countenance fall more and more.  He got grouchy with me.  It was like each time we asked if the shoes came in his size and we were told no that the clerk might have been saying in an Arnold Scharzenegger voice "You're small. You're little, why don't you go home and take a nap with your blanket and your binky you little boy?"  Man how I pray that the testosterone will kick in soon with that kid.  It doesn't seem to help that he older brother is towering over everyone these days.  It's like salt in his tiny wounds.

Just last week he was acting glum after a game.  He's had some good playing time this year but this was a game that he'd had zero playing time in.  A close game where they don't put in the second string players.  A game where he had plenty of time to think and look around at all the giants on his team.  He isn't the smallest (but almost).  So here he was at home acting blue and suddenly he went to the drawer, pulled out a pencil and handed it my husband asking to be measured.  We just measured a few weeks ago so it wasn't likely that there would be change this soon.  We all held our breath for the results..... He was actually 1/4 inch bigger! Suddenly his frown was turned upside down.  Now we just have to get online and order him some topsiders and possibly hide the fact that they came from the women's section.

May 04, 2011

Spring Break Update

It seems like the more I take blogging breaks the harder it is to come back.  I truly get writer's block unless I am consistent.

We had a wonderful spring break with the kids in upstate New York and Kirtland Ohio. Despite the cold weather and the stomach flu we passed around every other day.  It was great to feel the spirit in so many of the church history sites.  I was a bit worried that the kids would be sick of seeing old building after old restored building and so we tried to mix in some fun stuff as well.  There was very little grumbling and one teenager actually shared with me how much he liked seeing the spiritual stuff.  He would not admit to it later for some reason, but I was there and I testify that he did say it!  Even my four yr old had a spiritual highlight of her own when they showed her a replica of the golden plates (she even got to touch which is more than Emma Smith could boast).  For days following the event, she'd tell us all that she'd seen the "real gold plates!" over and over.  It was pretty sweet.  Of coarse now when you ask her what her favorite part of the vacation was she will tell you "the pool at the hotel."  But I think that pool experience will fade and she will recall the 'gold plates' forever.  (At least that is what I am hoping).  
Don't Touch?

The Falls Were Amazing

But a cold day!
Happy to be Inside!
He Loves a Photo Op

Little Boy at the Sawmill

We also got to go to an amazing museum called the Strong in Rochester NY.  An incredible place to learn through play.  Video hall of fame for the boys.  Butterfly exhibit for the girls (and Big Boy who loved the butterflies!) If you are ever in Rochester on a snowy day in spring where your Niagra Falls day trip gets bumped, I highly recommend it!

Since returning I have been battling a cold/sinusitis making my life a bit miserable.  But today is the day I am willing myself to turn the corner, meet life head on and go out and gather milk for the children.  I may even buy bread.  I mean to work out as well, but I always mean to do that : )

In other Family News.... 

Big Boy took an AP exam in phycology.  He can now officially tell us all that is wrong with our parenting techniques.

Middle Boy is at the tail end of a great lacrosse season. He is proud of himself which is wonderful.

Little Boy continues to lose his violin books and has bet his teacher a dollar or a piece of candy that he will have them all at the next lesson.  This comes after I verbally reminded him to get his bag of books together the night before.  I asked him why he didn't do it then and he said something he picked up from Big Boy "did I answer when you said that?  If not I didn't hear you- so it's your fault mom"  I just may kill him before his next birthday... Speaking of birthdays.  He recently had one.
Happy Twelveth

Big Girl recently earned a chain necklace with a plastic foot on it for choosing to walk for 5 miles during her recesses.  It's part of something called the mileage club.  Me likey!  Today she was asking if it was real silver and how much it was worth...

Little Girl claims to know all there is to know about ballet after two months worth of lessons.  Her Swan Lake is to die for in cuteness.  She also chopped off a big clump  of hair in the front of her head making it necessary to part her hair on the other side or introduce more hats and headbands...

Kelly- I am getting new dining room chairs this Friday.  That is very big news for me!

T-T and I celebrated 19 yrs of marriage with expensive root beer, flowers, black jelly beans, Little Boy's birthday, Easter, and a promise that next year will be a cruise or something.  I really love him!

At the Newel K Whitney Home

'The Face' says it all

Kirtland Temple