Monday, October 31, 2011

My Little Ones Are Smart

I am going to be honest here. My heart just really wasn't into Halloween this year.  This is what you get.

 Julia's outfit was just a hodgepodge of orange and black stuff I have picked up along the way. She liked it.

 Eli's costume was game time decision. I thought he would do the blue and green 5-eyed monster outfit I put him in a few years ago. But he went all crazy with the dogs this year.

Yep, that is a costume that Zach wore two years ago.  And he did his own makeup.

Raef really wanted to be a vampire. He did his own makeup as well.

We did have a lot of fun trick-or-treating. We drove down to Rolling Hills, the neighborhood that surrounds the church building. It was the perfect location. The houses are close together. Lots of people did get into Halloween, so there were neat decorations everywhere. It didn't take Julia, Harry, and Eli long to catch onto the whole candy thing.  They had a ball. Harry would even walk right into people's houses when he saw the reserve candy.  Even though we were a motley crew, they got lots of comments from people saying how cute they were.  

It was a lot of fun. We made the rounds for about an hour and then headed home with our haul.  Thank you Harry, Julia, and Eli for collecting my candy.

Then when we got home I was shocked to hear the doorbell ring. Have you seen our driveway???  Sure enough, one family of trick-or-treaters.  Luckily I had some candy leftover from a homeschool party we did on Friday. If not, I would have had to sacrifice our candy.  After all, they did walk all the way up the driveway, you know.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Formula For Dry Eyes

This week has gone by fairly quickly.  I have been busy doing stuff and therefore haven't had much time to think of a witty blog post.  But I am going to write something right now.

After much struggling over the past few weeks, I really needed a boost.  I definitely got it from my neighbor and homeschooling friend Jennifer. We were able to go out last week and I talked to her about my struggles with homeschooling.  She has been doing it a lot longer than me and her kids are a bit older.  She gave me some good advice.  It has helped me to rethink everything in my educational journey.  So I have realigned my strategy and it has definitely paid off this last week.

I have been focusing all of my attention on Raef and Zach. Therefore, the little ones have had a really hard time. And so then we have all suffered.  I decided to take a hands-off approach to their education. I put all of the work that I wanted them to complete in a box.  They did it all on their own. I only helped them with a couple of things.  They actually did a lot of work. I was able to put all of my attention on Eli, Harry, and Julia. I focused on organizing and cleaning my house, playing with the little ones, and showering them with lots of attention. I stayed out of the schoolroom for the most part, because wherever I go, the babes follow.

The results were stark. There was very little crying this week. Julia and Harry took a nap almost every single day. The house stayed mostly clean. Eli played lots of games and did many activities with me. I cooked dinner every night.  Things went well.  I don't even think I cried one time.

I learned that Raef and Zach can do a lot on their own. The less I do, the better it is for everyone.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Are You an Ornithologist?

The house we live in has a whole lot of windows. It is nice because you don't have to do much decorating. Heavenly Father has taken care of it for us.  However, it is not nice for the birds.  We have had many casualties from birds that don't notice the windows and fly right into them.

This one was the latest victim. He took a rest right outside the schoolroom door.  It was so perfect because my kids were actually working on a bird book project.  And here was a bird they could actually touch and observe.  They were very gentle with the bird.

I was especially excited. I got out our Peterson's field guide and tried to figure out what kind of bird it was. Apparently, I am no ornithologist.  Anyone know what kind of bird this is?

I have no clue.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My "Helpless" Princess

On Monday, I took all of the little ones to Raef's baseball game. Rinar was out of town, so we made the best of it. At the back of the field there is a little hill that rolls down to the fence.  Harry, Eli, and Julia had a lot of fun rolling down the grassy hill. Then I started to notice something that intrigued me and bothered me all at the same time.

Julia played the helpless victim and had to be "rescued" by her brothers...over and over and over again.  "Help! Help!"  She would lie there like a little princess as her brothers would come storming towards her.  I was baffled.  Where in the world did she learn to do that? I thought of media she has absorbed that would have taught her to role play in that manner.  But really, nothing came to mind.

I remember watching another little girl at some park doing the exact same thing when she was playing with my little boys. I was a bit judgemental, thinking of what kind of crap was she watching or being to taught to act so helplessly. Little did I know.

This brings me to Tuesday. We were at the church waiting for Cub Scouts to end and they were playing in the gym.  Once again, Julia would purposely put herself in a position where she had to be "rescued".  What is going on with my little girl? Where is this coming from?

Or could it be one of those innate girl things? They just know to do it, just like they want to wear pink and put on lipstick?  (She does those things too.)  

I then had a startling realization. I do the same thing!  When I have a hard day with the kids, who do I call to rescue me? Yep. Rinar. When I can't find something or don't want to deal with some task, who rescues me?  You got it. Rinar! who could have taught her to be a helpless princess?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Here Is Something Else I Really Need

A lot of funny stuff goes around the Facebook circuit.  But this little saying really struck a nerve...

"Therapy is expensive. Poppin' bubble wrap is cheap. You choose."

My non-Mormon homeschooling friend Jennifer always gives me a hard time because I have so much wheat and general food storage items in my home.  She thinks that us Mormons are crazy-paranoid.  I think she may have a point. We actually have an entire Sunday lesson about crazy-paranoid food storage/emergency preparedness.  Anyways, I am realizing that my food storage is missing one very important component.

I am going to order a year's supply of bubble wrap. You just never know when it will come in handy. Hey, maybe I will be able to find it at Goodwill!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Never Again, William Faulkner

I have now had my Kindle for over 6 months now. It has been a blessing with all of the interminably long road trips I have had to endure over the same period of time. The kids watch DVD's and I listen to audio books. I have really listened to some good ones. I have been the ultimate multi-tasker. 

 However, my selections have not always been top-notch. For example, I have really been pushing my comfort level, trying to tackle the classics of our time. I listened to I, Claudius by Robert Graves and I loved it. But this has not always been the case. 

Today, after plodding through one particular author, I have had to throw in the towel. It was just a horrific book. I couldn't take it anymore. The worst part is that I invested 9.5 hours into it and only had 3 more to go. But I think I would rather eat a plate full of lima beans while watching a bowling tournament, than listen to another minute of that book.

The book was Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner.  It was the same small plot repeated over and over and over again with a whole lot of pronouns, so I was never sure who was talking or who they were talking about.  It was written in 1938, and so I guess that makes it a classic.  Here is another interesting fact from Wikipedia: The 1983 Guinness Book of World Records claims the "Longest Sentence in Literature" is a sentence from Absalom, Absalom! containing 1,300 words.   Yep, I think that sentence was the first 9 hours of my audio book, actually.

So here is my question...because a book is written by a well-respected, classic author, does that mean I am required to love and revere the book? I didn't care for The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I mean, it was just okay.  I totally don't get Ernest Hemingway and Anna Karenina was the longest. Book. Ever.

I keep a Goodreads list of all the books I have read. I love that website. I won't credit myself with reading a book unless I finished it.  However, since I invested so much time in this book and because I read the cliff notes to see how it ended, I am putting it down and checking it off. I mean, since I had to endure the 'n' word 300 hundred times, I think it is only fair.

Good For Me, But Bad For Them

It was quite a day today. After our playgroup, we headed downtown for Raef and Zach's violin/viola lessons. They have been taking lessons from Dustin Budish since we moved here and they seem to be doing well. There have been many rocky lessons where I can tell that Dustin is completely frazzled and wishes he could cuddle up to a cabernet, but he still keeps letting us come back.  

Today, they fortunately had good lessons. I am so grateful.  Dustin tells me they are very talented and could really go far in music if they wanted to. That is nice to hear. I mean, of course I think they are fabulous musicians, but it could just be the rose-colored Mommy glasses, you know?  So, we will just keep plugging away at practicing and even if it is only a few minutes everyday, hopefully they will continue to enjoy playing their instruments.

Then we got home from lessons and the boys asked to play the Wii.  I let them, and after an hour or so, I hear this horrific, shrill, screaming episode coming out of Zach's mouth. Ugh.  I tell them to turn it off.  Not to get into all the gory details, but the outcome should paint a pretty clear picture. They both lost their allowances, the Wii is in a box at the top of my closet, and my kitchen is very clean.

Lucky for me, I had already arranged a night out with my homeschool friends, Jennifer, LeeAnn, and Julianna. We went to BJ's and ate and talked and talked and talked. It was really nice and I enjoyed that time to myself.  Plus, it is great to be around women who have been there before and can give you insight into your struggles. They helped me to rethink some things I have been doing that have not been working so well for me or my kids.  I am grateful that I could just laugh and have fun and recharge my batteries.

I am really going to need it, because tomorrow I have to take all of my kiddos to Raef and Zach's soccer game.  I will take deep cleansing breaths and bring a lot of lollipops.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Baller

Raef and Zach each got to choose the sport they wanted to play this season. Raef chose baseball.  During the first few weeks, he was the most enthusiastic cheerer out there. But that has kind of waned.  Finally, a little while ago Raef made a confession on the way home from his game.  He doesn't like baseball.  He thinks it is boring.

I am really shocked. I mean, he gets to stand in the outfield as pitch after pitch goes past the hitter, with an occasional connection that never comes his way. Why would he think it is boring?

I was talking to one of the moms yesterday and she told me he is her favorite player.  Apparently, at one of the games he had his glove on his head and the ball actually did come his way. He caught it with his bare hand.

I think we are going to try basketball next. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A New Fun Game

On our epic drive back from Tucson, we had to get creative with recreational activities for the kids when we would stop to take a break. From Tucson to Las Vegas, there are only a couple of places to stop. And it is even more barren from Vegas to Reno. There are literally three towns on the way, with facilities.  And the road is almost endless.  

In Wikieup, Arizona, Rinar started a new game with the kids.  They went to the side of the road in front of the gas station and would wave at the trucks to get them to honk.  They had a lot of fun. We must have been quite a sight out there in the middle of nowhere.  Five little blonde children waving and cheering at the cars.

This picture was taken in Hawthorne, Nevada, which is about two hours south of Reno.  The kids had a blast. The first car that drove by was the sheriff. Sure enough...five very enthusiastic kids waving at him vigorously. He was a good sport and turned his siren on briefly. It was like Christmas when a semi would honk at them.

After a few days of decompressing, I decided we really needed to get out of the house. The weather has been so beautiful.  So of course, I took the kids on a little drive.  We went down to Genoa, Nevada. It is such a cute, little town.  They have one tourist attraction there...the Mormon Station. It was a fort and supply station for emigrants on the California Trail. There is a museum and it costs $1, and I didn't even have $1. So we just played out on the grass.  That is fine, because museums are not really compatible with my family at the moment.

Look, these two love each other!  And speaking of Harry, he was the most clingy thing today. He must have given over a hundred kisses and at least as many hugs.  There was a huge smile plastered on his face. And when he wasn't smiling, he was crying buckets.  There was no in between.

I turned my back for a second and when I looked around, this is what I found my kids doing. The street was not busy at all, so it was pretty safe. But, that car waving game sure has resonated with all of my kids. They knew just what to do and got most of the cars to honk at them.  I think I might have a traveling act. I could put them on a busy city intersection and in about 1 year, I could retire.  Hmmm...the possibilities are endless.

Eli was so proud of himself. He climbed up there all on his own.

It was a fun and simple day.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mike and Catye's Wedding

Friday, October 7 was the big day for Mike and Catye.  I prayed really hard that everything would go smoothly, and the Lord truly blessed us.  There were so many things that could have gone wrong, but didn't. The marriage was at the Mesa Temple. It is one of the oldest temples the church has built.  The inside was beautiful and the ceremony was so wonderful. It was sacred, simple, peaceful, and full of joy. I am so glad that I could be a part of it.

It took about one hour and Catye and Mike emerged as a new married couple around 12pm. Look at those two. So stinkin' happy.

This is the official wedding party. Don't they look beautiful? I made the bouquet on the drive up from Tucson. It took me less than five minutes. But I thought it turned out great. It was so perfect for the pictures.

Catye wore turquoise loafers. I bet she bought those at Walmart or somewhere chic like that.

Catye found her dress on Craigslist in Provo. It cost a whopping $90! It fit her perfectly.

These are the parents, my Mom and Dad on the left and Mike's parents David and Dawn.

After pictures, Rinar and I had to get to Tucson quickly. I calculated that if I got to Tucson without any delays I would have just enough time to go to Costco and buy all of the food for the reception. And boy, was I right.  We got on the road at about 1:30 after getting some drive thru at Arby's. I dropped everyone off at the hotel by 3:30, was shopping at Costco by 3:50, checked out by 4:30 and then made it to the church at exactly 5:00, the scheduled time.

The menu included Chick-fil-a chicken strips (Rinar picked them up later), bacon, scrambled eggs, fruit salad, and a waffle bar with various homemade syrups made by my talented and intrepid sister Christi. Everyone loved the syrups. They were a highlight of the reception.

Things got a little bit crazy leading up to our 6:30 go time. We had set up the church the night before with a whole bunch of wonderful volunteers from my parents' ward.  I cannot begin to show the gratitude I have for all of them and the help they were to pull this all off. Amazing people.  No matter where I go, I always have sisters in Zion and we speak heart to heart. Anyway, everyone helped out and we were mostly ready. It was a lot of fun. There were not a ton of people, but the ones who came stayed for the duration of the reception.  I must have done a good job if they felt comfortable enough to stay for 2 hours.

Heather helped me with my kids and took some pictures. Love this girl!

I made a bunch of aprons and ended up wearing one myself because I didn't have a chance to change back into my church clothes.

They had a first dance with each other and with their parents. It was really sweet.

One of Catye's bridesmaid's, Amber, took charge of decorating the car.  It was sticky noted to death.  My brother contributed to the graffiti. Apparently on the driver's side it said, "Don't be a fool, wrap your tool."  Really, Jamie?  Sheesh.

We cleaned up super fast and were on the road to the hotel by 10pm. Christi's kids looked zonked, huh?  This was their silly picture, with Chance, Mya, and Lije. She has such good kids...4 gems.  It was a lot of fun to hang out with them for the week and to make fun memories together. 

But I am glad that it is over and I am back in Reno.

Harry and Julia Turned 2

I drove with the kids down to Arizona for the week. My youngest sister Catye was getting married.  It was a very long drive.  I broke it up into two days, where we stayed one night in Las Vegas. I stayed with my older sister Christi at her house and the kids were able to play with their cousins. They had a lot of fun. While they played, Christi and I worked on getting things together for Catye's wedding reception.

On Wednesday, I went up to visit my younger sister Heather at her house in Scottsdale. She was housing Catye and my brother Jamie and Mike, in preparation for the wedding. So we went up to visit. Christi couldn't come, but we still had to do some kind of celebration for Harry and Julia.  They turned 2! I can't believe it.

Heather bought them a little birthday cake and we sang to them and enjoyed the treat togehter. It was a lot of fun and it was such a joy to be able to see all of my siblings, and new brother, Mike.

Zach Cooks

Zach is taking a cooking class at our homeschool co-op.  He absolutely loves it.  A few weeks ago they made dips and salads.  They give him the recipes for his own little recipe folder.  He carries the folder around everywhere and studies it.  

Therefore, a few weeks ago he wanted to go shopping with me so that he could buy ingredients to make us all "walk-amole".  I think he meant guacamole.  Sure enough, he did this all by himself.  

He followed it up with a pear salad the next night for Sunday dinner.  I love his exuberance and dogged determination.  Such a wonderful little boy.
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