Monday, April 6, 2015

A Time for Goodbyes

Rinar's grandmother passed away on Thursday morning. She was 94 years old. Over the past ten years her whole world has been closing in on her. By the time she died, she couldn't see, couldn't really hear, and couldn't remember anything. Death was such a release for her.  But still, knowing that this is really a good thing, it still makes me sad to know she is gone. We really loved her. She was such a rock for Rinar's family and for the community in Laie, Hawaii. Fortunately, the funeral isn't until the end of the month, so Rinar should be able to go and say goodbye.

We went to St. George this weekend. I really wanted to do a mini vacation but we ended up doing the same old stuff. Oh well. The little kids stayed with Nordel so that they could play together. I stayed with my grandmother. Raef and Zach joined me. And then Rinar stayed at his mom's house with Noelle. Margaret was visiting Linda, which was why we split up into so many groups. 

I was able to have a nice visit with my grandmother. She is getting very old and very frail very quickly. It was hard to watch her try to stand up. Her poor body just makes her miserable right now. There is absolutely no bend in her feet, toes, ankles...nothing. She has a very hard time moving around at all. But grandma is as sharp as ever, although her voice does not always agree with her.  I felt myself getting a  bit teary watching her struggle so much. I know that my time with her is very short. I am really going to miss her when she is gone.  I have been so blessed to be able to spend so much time with her these past 20 years. I cherish all of the time and hope I have a little bit longer before she passes away and joins my grandpa on the other side of the veil.

Rinar and I were able to go to the St. George Arts Festival for a little while on Saturday. Linda and Noelle also came. It was really fun. They had live music that was enjoyable and the art was fantastic. We watched a group of 5 siblings perform on violin while they danced and clogged and sang. They were quite a bunch of performers. I was really impressed. Although the music was not terribly difficult to play, their stage presence was outstanding. After the festival we met up with Nordel's family for some bowling. Our kids had a blast and Harry was adamant that I watch him while he bowled. He told me that he wanted me to watch him forever. Oh, my heart.

On Sunday, we ate dinner at Lyf's house with all of his siblings. It was a lot of fun catching up with everyone. We ate elk roast with potatoes and carrots and played card games. The kids were able to spend a lot of time with their cousins.

I had hoped to go to Bryce Canyon National Park today on our way home but I checked the weather and it was supposed to be cold and windy. We were not prepared for those conditions. Instead, after a slow start we stopped in Cedar City to watch the movie "Cinderella". It was okay, but the kids seemed to enjoy it. Actually, everyone except Noelle enjoyed it. She was super fussy. Rinar held her in the hallway and she ended up falling asleep on his shoulder. That worked out okay, I guess. I suppose bad weather was good because it enabled us to have a wonderful visit with Rinar's cousin Jenny. She lives in Parowan and is deathly ill. Jenny just found out that she has cancer and it is spreading at a horrendous rate.  She found out a few months ago, but as a few weeks ago the doctor told her she has about a week to live. But after two weeks, she is still here. What a blessing it was for us to be able to visit with her. She seems to be in really good spirits. Maybe this is why she is still here. Her mother Carma is with her and she has had tons of visitors. Rinar's family is truly amazing. I don't think any of my family would do what they have done for her. I am in awe. We took this picture right before we left and said our goodbyes. I know that we will see her again.

I guess this past week has been a time for goodbyes.  Goodbye Jenny and Grandma C. We know we will see you soon. God be with you till we meet again.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Family Update

My poor blog must be feeling pretty neglected these days.  A lot of things have been going on and life goes and on and then the blog gets left behind. I have been keeping my Instagram updated so I can keep a record of all those little things I like to remember. But I do want to give my blog some love again.

Sometimes when I have writers block, the only way to get out of it is to just write my way out of it. I really have no idea what to write at the moment, but I am writing.

My life right now is revolving mostly around Zach.  A few months ago, we decided to have him do a program called Brain Balance. It is a lot of work and time and money and has really thrown our family into a different kind of rhythm.  He goes to the South Jordan center three days a week and has to do home exercises three times a day, six days per week.  We have also put school on hold. No school for the past two months for him.

Ever since I put him in public school last year, it became apparent very quickly that something needed to be done. School exposed all of his weaknesses and I just couldn't ignore it anymore. The more I thought about it, the more it dawned on me that Zach probably has Asperger's. He has never been diagnosed or anything, but when I looked up all of the characteristics of someone with Asperger's, he fit it perfectly. I could think of a specific example for every characteristic. So what was I supposed to do for him? He was really struggling. He knew he was and didn't like it either. But he just couldn't help some of the stuff he was doing that was driving all of us crazy and really causing him to clash socially with people at church and in the neighborhood.

I then heard a commercial for a place called Brain Balance. When I looked into with Rinar, it just all made perfect sense. It was applicable to him in every way. I knew I was at the right place. He does exercises to strengthen his right brain and isolate his left brain as much as possible. Zach's left brain is very strong and his right brain is holding him back. We have been working on developing his right brain. He is on a special diet (no gluten, sugar, dairy, soy, peanuts) and is doing things to get him physically stronger. We now go to the Treehouse Athletic Club as much as possible, he plays basketball, racquetball, lifts weights, and the like. I also have him working on a needlepoint project to  help him develop better fine motor skills. He plays the piano a lot, as well and has restricted screen time. I also try to have him go outside as much as possible.

So, you can see I have been sucked into a Zach vortex a bit. But it does seem to be helping and I am seeing changes in him. It is a lot of little things, but I know that those add up to big things.

Raef continues to go to the middle school and really seems to enjoy it. He seems to have figured out the system and his grades have improved a bit. Raef is fascinated with figuring out what makes a person popular. I get almost daily reports on his observations. I think he may have a future in sociology. One night I was diligently working on a puzzle that Harry had left undone on the dining room table. Raef plopped down next to me and just started talking and talking and talking about every thing that was happening at his school. I think he talked for about an hour without barely taking a breath. When he got it all out of his system, he thanked me for listening and then went to bed. It was so cute.

Eli is such a smart boy. He amazes me daily with the things he learns and retains. He is now working on Perpetual Motion, which is song 9 in the first Suzuki book. It is mostly done. His teacher Trina C. switched his thumb to the grown up hold, and he does not like it at all. He has really been fighting me on it. I have now resorted to threatening an allowance deduction if he doesn't hold his bow correctly. That seems to help keep him moving forward. He is reading well and his speed is increasing nicely. We are reading the Magic Tree House series. We are almost finished with book 7, "Sunset of the Sabertooth". Eli's math skills are phenomenal. We are now going to start learning multiplication. I already did a lesson and it is clear that he has a good grasp of it already. I have a feeling we will be out of multiplication by the end of April. I know I learned multiplication in 3rd grade. That kid. Holy smokes.

Harry is chomping at the bit to do school. I usually run out of time before we can do anything, but I know he is learning stuff all the time. He is halfway through the "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" and seems to remember everything, even when I go a long time between each lesson. I am not worried about it, since he technically does not start Kindergarten until the fall. He is also a voracious puzzle solver and can get on some serious puzzle kicks. And he is really good at them.

Julia just loves having friends and going to play anywhere. She also loves to watch this show called "Monster High". I am sure it is trashy and she probably shouldn't watch it and I am gonna have to stop it, but I admit that I am being a lazy parent. But I do make her play outside as much as possible, which does cut down on TV time. Yesterday Julia and Harry went over to Amanda B.'s house to play with her kids. Her kids weren't home and they played there anyway. I didn't know this until they came home. It made me laugh so hard just thinking about it. Amanda is a saint. Sheesh.

Noelle is my heaven sent little girl. She is growing so fast and is hitting the cutest age of all. She walks and climbs and explores and is pretty mischievous, in the cutest way possible. When I pick her up she will give me the most meltiest, cuddliest hug ever and tap my back. She gives kisses and so full of love it makes my heart burst. She absolutely loves to take baths and showers, ride her wiggle board in the kitchen, and go bye-bye. If she could live outside, she would.

Life just keeps marching on around here. We have been really busy and I am hopeful about the things that we are working on and the way my kids are growing up.  Things are good.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

She's Got Gumption

It was a long day today. I took the kids to the Tracy Aviary. The weather has been more like late spring than winter. It was time to get some fresh air. They all seemed to enjoy themselves a lot. The aviary is really nice and has a wide variety of birds. Noelle especially liked looking at the birds, I think.

Then we had to race home because I forgot my wallet. And then pack up again to take Zach to his Brain Balance appointment. After we dropped him off, I took the little kids to Riverton Music to pick up Eli's violin. It had to be repaired after he dropped it and obliterated the bridge. Ugh. Noelle fell asleep. She must have been really tired because she rarely falls asleep in the car. But she was conked out.

We finally made it home and soon I started to try to put together some kind of dinner. Noelle has this skill of being able to open the refrigerator. It is a little more than slightly annoying. Dinner was taking a lot longer than I had anticipated. No worries. She opened up the fridge and found an extra peanut butter and honey sandwich. Noelle took it out of the bag and proceeded to eat the entire thing. Then it was time for dinner. I put her in her highchair and then she proceeded to eat an entire helping of dinner.

The girl can eat.

The girl can climb.

The girl can be the most cuddly, sweet, adorable little stinker you have ever seen. I don't think I would have it any other way.

Eli's Last Minute Birthday Party

Last week just flew by. I knew that Eli was having a birthday and then the horror struck on Friday.  Wait!?! Eli's birthday is on Sunday? Like, in two days?  Oh, no. This mama had nothing planned at all. Eli really wanted to have a birthday party. Luckily, I run quite frequently with Lisanne and Darcy and their boys are the same age as Eli. I asked them if Scott and Weston could come to a party the next day and they said yes!  Whew!  I then sent out a frantic text to the rest of Eli's basketball team and in the end, the guest list included 6 boys. It was the perfect size.

Then I went all crazy putting an amazing party together. Well, ok, no I didn't. I had Rinar stick some balloons up on the main floor, bought a cookie cake and fudgesicles, a bunch of junk for gift bags, and then made some pizzas. After thinking of a few games to play, the party was ready. 

The highlight had to be when we had the boys shoot action shots off the back of the truck like we did a couple of years ago when our family went camping.

They seemed to really enjoy it.

They also played some football in the front yard. This was a hit as well.

The important thing is that Eli got to blow out the candles, open a few presents, and feel very special for his day. Happy birthday, Eli.

Jazz Game and Viola Graduation

Saturday, February 7th was pretty darn eventful.  I cleaned the church with Harry, while Rinar took Raef to the deacon's game at the Stake Center. Raef played well, and Harry was an exuberant cleaning assistant. He just loved it. We had to clean all of the bathrooms and I gave him the spray bottle. He loved spraying everything down for me. It was an enjoyable morning with him.

After that, it was a lot of chores at the house. Catye and Mike even came over to help me because I was feeling especially overwhelmed. Then Rinar, Raef, and I had to race off to Bountiful to attend his viola graduation from book 5. He was the most advanced student there and therefore had a solo. Raef did a marvelous job.

In the evening, Rinar and I went to a Jazz game. I haven't been in years. He won tickets at a silent auction fundraiser. The tickets included a VIP pass that got us into the pre-dinner. It was surprisingly healthy and definitely delicious. Our seats were on the third row, close to center court. I have never sat that close. It was a lot of fun.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lyf's Visit

Lyf and Bethany came up on a Monday a few weeks ago so that we could take them to the airport. They were going to Florida for a fun trip. However, when they got here, we found out that there flight got canceled because of an epic storm in the northeast. They ended up not being able to fly out until Wednesday, so they stayed at our house and did some touristy things in the valley while they waited to leave. They were stuck with me and the kids because Rinar had a meeting in Kansas City for the week.

Hence, on Tuesday I took them to the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point.  I think Lyf really enjoyed it. My kids did, too.

They even have a giant dinosaur puzzle in one area. They must have put it in just for Harry. How did they know?

Lyf and Bethany stayed to watch an iMax and then headed off to other exotic locales. I headed home because it was my turn to host playgroup for the neighborhood kids. These three needed some kind of activity, so we made cookies. Julia, Molly, and Ryder helped to make them and the rest of the boys helped to eat them. It worked out well.

Eli's SAU Graduation

Eli was able to attend Suzuki Association of Utah (SAU) graduation last week. He finished the Twinkle repertoire and passed it off. Now, he is just zooming through book one. And his technique looks really good to me. He holds his bow so much better than Raef and Zach ever did. He seems to be a natural at the violin.

Graduation was on Tuesday night, which is when his basketball games are played. I decided to take him to basketball first and then go late to graduation. Luckily, with all of my Suzuki experience, I knew he would play last and that it would be ok. I just had him wear a nice sweater over his jersey. Unfortunately, it slipped my mind that there was a white shirt, black pants dress code. When he got on stage, he definitely stood out from the crowd. Can you pick him out of the lineup?

 He played so well and was diligent at watching his teacher Trina as she led the group. So we had to go celebrate!

I am going to make it a goal to do this more often: one on one time with my kids. He had so much to talk about and it was fun to hear what is in his little mind. This kid is going places, for sure.

A Little Kid Update

Life keeps marching on in our household. Holidays are done and vacation is done.  I guess now we are just living. I have been consistently doing homeschool with Eli. He is such a bright boy. He astounds me. He reads, computes, and comprehends so well. I am grateful that he is a willing learning who remembers what is taught. Of course, lately he does give me a bit a push back. Eli will get interested in something else in the morning, like Lego creations or a puzzle and doesn't want to stop. It can get a bit dicey, but once I throw down the hammer and he cracks the books open, he does really well. Someday it is going to sink in that school will be done everyday, no matter what. But that realization has not happened to him yet.

Harry is such a neat kid. And he is a puzzle savant. I recently went to the thrift store and picked up a slew of puzzles in the 100-200 piece range. I think I bought 6 or 7. In one morning, he did every single one.  Then I went back to the thrift store and got some more. This time I was looking solely for 300 piece puzzles. I bought 5 of them. Sure enough, he has solved all of them. You can comfortably say that he really, really likes puzzles.

Puzzles have never really been Julia's thing. However, if the puzzle has an interesting subject matter like Barbie or Power Puff Girls, Julia is more than willing to give it a try. Her mind definitely does not work in the same way as Harry's. It is much more of a challenge to complete a puzzle and a year ago she couldn't do it. But I am happy to say that she has made a ton of progress in this area. 

A nice homeschool mom in Draper has graciously started a Lego club at the Draper library. For the longest time, we couldn't make it. But I have been trying to get them there on a more regular basis. The first week, I got a lot of resistance from Harry. But once he put his foot in the door the first time, he was hooked!

Eli loves it, too!

 As for Noelle, she is an unmitigated stinker at this point in her life. She climbs into, onto, over, and under everything. In this instance, she pulled out this drawer in the kitchen and climbed right in. I also found her dancing in the toilet! I put a picture of that on Instagram.  After the toilet incident, I went to Walmart and bought a bunch safety gates to keep her out of stuff.  But really, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Crazy Busy Saturday

Saturday was a crazy busy day. In the morning, Rinar and I went to the furniture store to buy a couch. Then we hurried home to get all of the kids and take them to their sporting events. Zach had a wrestling tournament at Brighton High School and Raef had a basketball tournament at Rowland Hall.

Whew, was it eventful. I stayed with Zach and the girls and Rinar took all of the rest of the boys to the basketball game. Luckily, all the little kids had some kind of electronic device to keep them occupied.  The wrestling tournament was bananas. It was packed and chaotic. They run the tournament with computers, so I had to watch carefully for his name to come up for his matches. Matches could go very quickly so I was paranoid about missing it.

Zach's first match ended quickly, and not in Zach's favor. He was pinned in about 30 seconds. He tried really hard but the other kid got the upper-hand on him, darn it.  The next match was a forfeit. But the third match was much better. It went two rounds and he fought hard and in the end, pinned his opponent. I was so darn proud of him! And he got a second place medal. When he saw the medal, his face was priceless.

Raef is on a competitive basketball team called the Alpha Dawgs. We have to go downtown just about every time for practice. It is a commitment, but I am grateful we found a team and that he has such a good coach. Unfortunately, they lost the first game, but did win the second. At this point, Raef is a benchwarmer. But I hope that he will have a desire to work hard so that he can get more playing time. We shall see.

In the evening, both boys had their birthday parties, since they are now 13! I have teenagers now. We decided to have them both do their own thing. Zach went with Caleb S. and Teancum M. to Airborne, a trampoline park. Rinar went with them and then took them to get food at Wendy's. I then dropped off Raef and his friends Matt D., Ethan, Ethan's friend (can't remember his name), and Talon A. and they went to see Night at the Museum 3 at the movie theater. When I got home, Rinar went to the movie a little late and then he took this group of boys to Chick-Fil-A. Both of them seemed pretty happy and they got along splendidly with their guests. 

It was a crazy, fun day.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Rinar and I started the year off right, with a get away trip to Portland and Hawaii...well, most Hawaii. We left on January 2, and went to Portland first. We got there in the afternoon and had time to get lunch at one of their famous lunch trucks downtown. Then we went to Powell's bookstore and perused the infinitesimal selection they had. It was a lot bigger than it looked. Then we had to go to Voodoo Donuts. There was a line out the door. Thank goodness we were there on a sunny, non-raining day.

At night we ate at a place called Sizzle Pie. The pizza was good, but there was nowhere to sit. Luckily, we got a table and then offered up two of the seats to a random couple that was without a table also. It was an enjoyable evening making new friends and eating some delicious bites. We had to wake up super early to make our flight to Hawaii. It was an uneventful flight, which is always good. And since we left early, we were able to get to our hotel just after lunch. Rinar had kept all the details of our trip top secret, so I was very surprised when I saw the room he booked. It was amazing. It had an incredible ocean view, with a veranda and a separate seating area with a sectional couch. Whoa! And then once we got unpacked, he gave me another surprise, a new wedding ring to replace my simple band. Now my band has seven diamonds on it! Rinar really went over board for me. I guess he really loves me.

We then had dinner with Rinar's Aunt Norma and his cousin Kamuela, Roxy, Olivia, and the kids. It was great. Kamuela had made Portuguese Bean Soup and it was delicious. It was wonderful to be able to see them all again.

On Sunday, we went to church with Norma and then after, drove up to Laie to visit Rinar's grandma. She is now 94 and still doing well. Grandma has Alzheimer's, but we were fortunate to catch her on a good day. She was very talkative. And we were also able to visit Rinar's Uncle Doug and Aunt Bonnie. We talked for a while and then played her a few songs on the piano.

Look at that moon view from our hotel room.

Monday was spent on the North Shore. We did a quick hike on a trail at the end of Pupukea Road near the Bonzai Pipeline. Then we watched the surfers for a bit, surfing the big waves. Then it was time to eat, so we went to Haleiwa. The food was great and we even got a shaved ice at the Aloha General Store. Yum! 

After all the food I mostly ate, we did another hike at Ka'ena Point. It was the perfect place to do some whale watching. It was awesome. I actually was able to see whales breaching. It was kind of far away, but I could still see them pretty well.  This is the car we rented for the week, a convertible jeep.  Yep, for the whole week the top was down! In the evening, we went to Hoku and Jerry's house for dinner. They offered to feed us, so hey, why not? Plus, we had a wonderful visit with them and Aunty Margaret and Tina and all the kiddos. 

On Tuesday we did two more hikes, this time with Kehau. The first one was the Pillbox Trail in Kailua. It was a quick, intense hike, up, up, up. But the view was spectacular! 

Then after all that hard work, the three of us went to Boot 'n Kimo's, a famed breakfast place in Kailua, and had coconut macadamia pancakes and they were definitely delicious. The place must be really famous in Japan, because I think just about every other customer was from there.

After our brunch, we went on hike number two, to Hamama Falls, near Norma and Kimo's house. This time, Kehau's boyfriend Loren joined us as we made it up to the waterfall.  Fantastic!

When we went back to the house, Uncle Mark was there. We haven't seen him in almost a decade so it was a blessing to be able to reconnect with him.

For dinner, we met Sheri, Breanna, and Tina at Sushi Bay in Kapolei. The wait was long but it really was worth it. Onolicious! 

Then we headed over to Aulani to watch Kamuela in his element, performing Hawaiian music with Jerry Santos, a musical legend. They were mesmerizing. It was such an honor to be able to hear there music, as it was our second time, since we also heard them a bit on Sunday night.

We woke up crazy early on Wednesday to catch a 5 am flight to Maui. Yep, we went to Maui for the day with another cousin, Bethany, to do some snorkeling on Molokini Island. Bethany is a marine biologist and full of great information. Plus, she is just a lot of fun.

Unfortunately, as we were sailing to Molokini the captain informed us that it was too windy, and the waves were super choppy. So she changed course, and took us against the island to shield us against the wind. It turned out well. Rinar signed us up to do snuba diving. It is where you breathe the oxygen, but the tanks are on rafts on the surface. You can only go down 10-12 feet, but you don't have to get certified as an instructor. It was quite an experience. I was more nervous about cold water than actually going under the water. For some reason it was pretty darn chilly that day. Happily, it wasn't too bad once I got in there.

We snorkeled in a couple of locations and at our second stop we encountered a bunch of sea turtles, beautiful fish, and healthy coral. It was an activity never to be forgotten, besides the fact that I really didn't take any good pictures, darn it!  The crew of Maui Magic were great and they fed us well. That is always important, right?

After the snorkeling adventure, we went to find something to do until it was time to go on a helicopter ride.  We decided to make a quick trip to the Iao Valley. As we were parking, Rinar got a call from the helicopter company informing us that they had to cancel because it was too windy and not safe. Drats! But the Iao Valley was a beautiful, quick stop.

Then we drove over to Lahaina and did some shopping and ate some delicious food. Bethany loves to eat, just like me! We had incredible gelato. It was super expensive, but we decided that it was worth every penny. We also ate at Lahaina Luna Cafe, and ordered one of everything recommended by Yelp and were not disappointed. The Korean tacos were the bomb!

Since we had to wake up so early, Thursday was a do-nothing kind of day. We hung out at the hotel and I even took my beloved nap on the beach. The beach lounging was accompanied by a fruity, Hawaiian drink, the Lava Flow, and a good book.

And amazingly enough, we finished off the week with one more cousin dinner. We went to the most unassuming and scrumptiously delicious food truck in Honolulu with BJ and his wife Kapio. Holy moly. I got the Ahi Tuna Steak dinner and it far exceeded my expectations. And Rinar was pretty darned pleased with his steak. We took the food over to the mall where Kehau was performing in The Legends Rock-a-Hula show. She danced and even sang. It was quite the show and it was fun to see her do her thing. Kehau is such a good dance and has a big stage presence.

Yes, we all approved of the food truck cuisine.

And then the Hawaiian vacation was over. After a layover and quick stay in Portland, we were home by Saturday afternoon and I was so thrilled to see my kids again.  Rinar has been incredibly blessed with a wonderful, loving family. It was a blessing to be able to spend so much time with all of them and enjoy the beauty of Hawaii. 

And it was a blessing to be back home and have all of my children safe and happy.

New Year's Day

New Year's Day was perfection. We invited our Las Vegas friends over for a lunch get together. Dwan, Elizabeth, Melanie, Jared, Lindsay, and Justin and all the kids. There were definitely a whole bunch of kids. We did a potluck hoagie lunch and leftover ice cream from our New Year's Eve banana split tradition. The kids had a great time catching up with each other and us old adults were able to talk and relax and do some music, which was a surprise treat. 

Grace, Christopher, and Josh all treated us to their musical stylings. Grace is an incredible violinist, and Christopher still can play the violin at an extremely high level. Plus, now that he is married he just seems more mature in his violin playing. Josh sang a few of his Broadway numbers and then I re-sang his version of Music of the Night a little bigger and a whole lot sillier.

The best part was when I broke out the tiny violins and then Christopher and Grace played difficult pieces on them. Even Halle joined in. It was a lot of fun.

When it was time to leave, here were all the kids. We are only missing Alexander and his wife to make the picture complete.

Julia, with Ava and Ali.

And us crazy adults. Hey, we know how to have a good time!


Christmas Day brought a beautiful blanket of white snow. It was great, especially since we had nowhere to go. But Rinar did take the kids to the park for a fun afternoon of sledding. It was a great time, but I think Rinar had the funnest time of all.

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