Thursday, July 21, 2016

Seven Peaks!

I have the best, warmest feelings for Seven Peaks in Provo.  I went there with my high school best friend, Maren, the day before I started BYU.  I was so excited to start school.  I was so excited for that part of my life to begin.  I really thought that I would pull into the parking lot at Snow Hall and this amazing young man would greet me at my car, ask if I needed help with moving in my stuff, and we'd start dating and be married by the end of the term.  That's really what I thought would happen.

I feel those memories every time I go back to Seven Peaks.  Today I was cruising the lazy river with my Molly and my Braden on my lap.  And I thought, if I could have received a glimpse of this 22 years ago when I was there as a new college student, wouldn't I have been so excited?!?  Wouldn't I have thought our kids are so beautiful.  I may have been a little discouraged over how long it took to have them.  But, oh!  What wonderful kids!

Today was our third trip to Seven Peaks Provo this summer.  We met up with Emma's good classmate friends, the Skadal triplets.  I lied and tricked Braden on a big kid slide.  It was pretty painful.  We had to scoot all the way down the entire slide because the slide was SO SLOW and there's not enough water to get you to move along.  Never again.  Kharma for lying and scaring the little guy.

Dance 2016

This year in dance was very successful.  Macey joined a competitive dance team.  They performed at Juan Diego, Weber State, Lagoon and a few other conventions.  She was also a "Violet" in Willy Wonka.  She had a great time!  She also took a ballet class and a jazz class.

I think Molly might be done with dance class.  Soccer is ramping up and her evenings are usually filled, even in winter.  I may put her in a gymnastics class.  She is so strong and so little, it seems as though she'd be a natural in that sport.

Hooray for a successful dance year!  And hooray for a few months off!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Whirlwind of the Last Week of School!

The last week or so of school is crazy!  I feel as though I might as well just rent a room in the school and move in!

Last year was hard because Braden was littler and impatient with program after program.  This year was a little better.  Maybe we were just better prepared for it.

Emma had her play: The Wizard of Oz.  Oh, how she loved doing this play!  She loved each and every minute of it!  It got to the point where I told her she could not talk about it anymore at breakfast because it was ALL she wanted to talk about, all day long.  And I thought we should at least get a break at break-fast time.  She was the Scarecrow.  I used to have a zillion coveralls but I guess I gave them away?  donated them?  Because when I went to get them for her, they were gone!  I went to no fewer than 15 stores in two counties and finally ended up buying a pair online that ended up being too short but good enough.

Emma's class also had a talent show for the parents.  I came to her class and talked a little bit about my job as a ghost writer and played the piano with a blindfold.  I think they were impressed until a parent came in and talked about creating coloring books.  Then I was not so cool.

Macey had her Wax Museum.  She was Shannon Hale and a very popular exhibit because she passed out chocolate!  Her teacher, Mrs. Jarvis, told her to stop giving chocolate to the other 4th graders!  She also did her state program.  She had a small speaking part and did a great job with her songs and her dance.  We also had lunch together after her wax museum -- Chick-Fil-E, per her request.

Molly had a puppet show and a project for Chinese class.  For her puppet show she was Gretel in Hansel & Gretel.  And she made a poster of sea animals and wrote all of their names down in the proper characters.  I did not think she could do it, but she did an amazing job!

Phew!  What a whirlwind!

Last Day of School 2016!

July 1 was the end of the school year for Molly (first grade), Macey (fourth grade) and Emma (fifth grade).

It was a great year!  Especially for Emma.  She really shined in Ms. Simi's class.  She loved everything about fifth grade.  She had great friends in her class, she loved her teachers, she did exceptionally well in all subjects.  It was a really great year!  I saw her Chinese teacher at Costco and she raved over Emma's kindness, brilliance, and her Chinese fluency.  She said she wished she had a class of all Emma's, then life would be perfect.

Macey progressed really well.  Her Chinese teacher was wonderful.  Mrs. Jarvis, her English teacher, was very involved and dedicated in helping Macey progress.  Macey is brilliant.  We call her "The Vault" because information goes in and actually stays.  Sometimes I tell her that living with her is like living with Google.  Her recall is amazing.  She is so gifted.

Molly had a rough year in Chinese.  She had three teachers over the year.  It was a little tough.  She also had problems making friends, which I do not understand because Molly is just so dang lovable.  But the year turned out okay.  She found a few good friends and I hope next year will find some more.  We are just grateful to have a break from spelling for a little while!

Aren't they beautiful!

The Year I Turned 40

I stink at birthdays.  I really do.  Every year I hope it'll be better and every year I fall into a depression that is so deep, so physical, that it kind of takes over the entire day.

And so it was this year.  Garry & the kids went above and beyond to help me have a great day.  Garry even took the day off from work, something that he really tries not to do.  I was greeted with gifts and chocolates and balloons and little suckers that said, "40 Sucks".  It kind of really does.

I get a little in my head on birthdays.  I think of what I am not doing or what I don't have and it crushes me with a very real, but completely mental, weight.  This year it was friendships.  I do not think that I have done a good job building strong friendships in this community, though I have really put in the effort.  Everyone is busy.  Everyone has a lot going on.  It's hard to form solid friendships in the chaos.  In a perfect world my doorbell would have been ringing all day on my birthday.  It really wasn't.  And I felt a little sad with all of that.

The next day the weight lifted.  I was able to enjoy a day at the spa that Garry paid way too much for.  And we went out with wonderful friends, the Moores.

My friend, Stacie, said that next year when I start beating myself up over what I do not have and what I am lacking, I need to call her.  And she will remind me that I have a supportive spouse, a wonderful family, a beautiful home, steady jobs.  So maybe 40 does not suck so much, after all.

Fourth of July 2016!

Every year Garry and I go back and forth about, well, the Fourth.  Should we stay home?  Should we hit the road?  If we hit the road, where should we go?

This year Emma was in Texas and Macey was in Florida, and so we decided to stay here.  We went to a nearby community for a pancake breakfast.  The kids also participated in kid races.  Braden won 50 cents.

We went to Seven Peaks and then hit the BYU creamery.

Garry made some yummy barbeque chicken and then we watched fireworks in West Jordan.  We had a perfect spot near Redwood Road.  The fireworks were right in front of us!  So close that ashes rained down on us.  It was AMAZING.

Great day!

The Summer Wales Almost Won It All!

Genetically speaking, a large portion of me is Welch.

Which is why we try to support all things Welch when we can.

This summer it was the Wales National Soccer Team!  They played in the EuroCup and did really well!  They made it to the semi-finals where they were beat by Portugal.

To celebrate, we went over to my sister's house and made Wales-themed ice cream floats.  They were beautiful.  Pretty much everything my sister makes is beautiful.

Garry also bought me a Wales jersey.  It's the only red thing in my closet as we are devout BYU fans.  At Target the young man at the check-out station narrowed his eyes and looked at my jersey incredulously.  "Is that a -- a Wales jersey?"  he asked.

"Yep!"  I said.

They had a good run.  Hope they can make it all the way next time.

A Summer Tradition

My niece, Samantha, told me that I have the weird habit of trying something once, liking it, and then declaring it a tradition.  She is right.  I do that, actually.  It just means that we have a lot of fun traditions.

For example, ice cream!  In the summer we would meet at the gelato shop in Daybreak and play in the nearby splash area.  It was a great tradition!

Until the gelato shop closed!  So we moved down the street to the frozen custard shop.  It was fun.  Not the same. But still fun.  A new tradition?

Maryland Reunion 2016!

Last year while Garry & I were at Seven Peaks with the kids in Provo, we ran into the Zortmans, friends we knew in the White Plains ward in Maryland.  On the way home, I sat there in the van and thought about how fun it was to see them there and thought, "Wouldn't it be fun if we ran into them and all of our friends from Maryland on purpose?"

So I had the idea to plan a reunion and reached out to some friends to gauge their interest level.  And it turned out that everyone wanted to get together and friends from far away -- China, Saudi Arabia, Africa, etc., -- were going to be here in July and could also come!

Garry and I started looking at parks.  We wanted enough activities for the kids to be happy so the adults could sit and talk and eat and talk and eat.  We finally settled on Riverton because it has many great facilities, was close to the Interstate, and had shade -- kind of a rare thing in this part of the valley.

What a great night!  In Maryland we needed each other.  No one really had family that close by, and we needed the support of a ward family.  And what a wonderful family we found! Love them.

Sparta Cup 2016!

It was fun for Molly to participate in the Sparta Cup this summer.  We knew it was a bigger tournament and better teams would apply.  And we would get the first look at what Avalanche and Celtic had put together, two really good clubs.

Molly's team did not disappoint!  Although they were beat by Avalanche in the second game, they came back and beat Avalanche in the final and won the Sparta Cup.  Molly did not have any goals this tournament, but she played hard and played smart -- stealing the ball, passing the ball up, and assisting in goals.  Molly also got a foul, which made the whole sideline laugh because Molly is so very tiny.

Great job, Sparta!

Impact Cup 2016!

Molly joined Team Sparta this Spring.  It was a really hard decision and tough week as she tried out for Sparta, Forza and USA.  Molly is a crazy good little soccer player.  We call her Red Card Molly because she has never been afraid to throw around a few elbows as long as she was the one who was able to come out with the ball.  We wanted to make the best decision for her and thought that Coach Steve could help advance her technique and foot skills.

Our first tournament was hosted by Club Surf.  Molly had to play up because they did not have any other teams in her age group.  They did really well, against girls at least two years older, until the semis, where they were soundly beat.

But with the Impact Cup we played against players our own age, and Molly's team did really well and won every single game.  Molly also had two goals!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Pure Heart

I try to keep books in front of my kids.  We go to the library, a lot, go to the bookstore on special occasions, and regular ones, and if I receive a youth book from a publisher to review, I let my kids look at it, too.

We also listen to books on CD in the car.  We listened to Jack by Liesl Shurtliff.  For several months we listened to the Michael Vey series.  We have started listening to Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  It's perfect for the car because his stories are short and funny.

Listening to it yesterday, we got to the part where Greg is lamenting the quality of kids in his neighborhood and told the story of a neighbor boy who broke in and vandalized the school.

"What does vandalized mean?" Molly asked.

"It means he broke into the school without permission when no one was there," Macey said.

"To do what?  Finish his homework early?" Molly asked.

She has the purest heart.  I love her.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Favorite Holiday Memory

Sleeping in Molly's room is a favorite holiday tradition.  With kids upstairs and downstairs, we need to be able to control who wakes up and sneaks down to see what Santa or the Easter Bunny left.  So the kids grab sleeping bags and pillow pets and have a sleepover in Molly's room.

This year Molly, age 7, left a note on her door, letting her siblings know they were welcome -- or Well Com -- in her room.

It's one of my favorite holiday memories. I love the little heart at the bottom.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mommy & Toys

This week has been a bit of a blur.  Garry got a horrible cold & cough last week and this week I came down with it along with, to a certain level, Macey, Molly & Braden.  Only Emma seems to be holding strong.

I have fallen behind on practically everything -- dishes, vacuuming, laundry.  Yesterday I tried to climb out of the hole a little bit by doing some laundry.  Molly came into the room while I was sorting and putting laundry away.

When it was time to go to bed, I had to climb under a mass of Molly's stuffed animals she had brought in.  I had her come into the room and clean it up.  It took several trips to get them back in her room.

"Molly," I asked.  "Why did you bring those all in here?"

"Because I wanted to spend time with you AND my toys," she said.

Can't argue with that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

We Went To Disneyland!

My kids love Disneyland.  No, really, they love Disneyland.  They talk about it everyday.  It seems that every meal contains a discussion of a favorite ride.

Enjoying Disneyland is a little easier for us now.  Everyone is over 42 inches, allowing us to ride nearly every ride together as a family, which is something we could not do for nearly a decade.  Garry and I got really good at the Parent Swap thing.

But some parts of Disney are harder to enjoy now.  It seems that everytime we go, it gets more crowded.  Disneyland has over a million annual season pass holders, and I swear that each and every one was there when we went in February because it was really crowded.

We were only supposed to go for two days but surprised the kids with a third.  Going for a third day is a nice option because it allows you to just hit the highlights and take time for things outside of the rides, like meeting Spider Man and Thor and Kylo Ren.  But a third day can really hurt your feet!  Every night I went to bed and prayed that my feet would heal while I slept!  And every morning things were fine!

Emma still loves Screamin'.  She did not get to ride it nearly enough.  Braden still will not try Tower of Terror though the couch on the Carousel is just perfect for him.  Macey found Tiana on her birthday, which was huge.  And they added BB8 to Star Tours, which made her happy.  And Molly loved all of the spooky changes to Matterhorn.

A tax return well spent!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When A Bowl Isn't Big Enough. . .You Do What You Have To Do

Macey Turns 10

We celebrated Macey's birthday at Disneyland but held her family birthday party when we got back. She requested brownies and a chocolate fountain, and Garry bought a ton of peanut butter cookies just for her.

A little about Macey:

She's in the Fourth Grade.  Her teachers are Ms. Jarvis & Ms. Liu.  She excels at school.  Last week we had Parent Teacher conference and Garry asked if there was anything Macey needed to work on.  Ms. Jarvis laughed.  Out loud.  She apologized but said she could not help it -- Macey is just perfect.

Macey learned to play the flute this year and is also working on the piano.  She started competitive dance and is finishing soccer this Spring.  Busy girl.

Macey loves her friends.  She is very loyal.  She's not as crazy about her younger sister.  She's very helpful with her little brother.

Macey loves to read.  She loves to steal my space heater and find a few minutes to read.  She likes to disappear into the basement and watch Disney Channel but lately she's been too busy to do that as much.

She loves pink.  

She's a daughter of my soul, and I love her very much!  Happy Birthday Macey Gracey Puddin' In Her Facey!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Competitive Dance Season Begins!

Saturday morning came way too early as I got Macey ready for her competitive dance performance at Juan Diego high school.  Luckily it was just in Draper, Utah.

I got Macey up and did her hair and make-up for the first dance.  It's a little challenging because she had three performances on Saturday and all required different hairstyles and shoes and outfits. . .I was also scolded for not putting on her lipstick dark enough.  Did I mention she was 10?  It's all a little much.

Macey is the youngest in her group.  She has a lot of learning to do, but she is having a really good time!  Her jazz number and lyrical number got third place but her production number, Willy Wonka, got first place.  It really deserved it.  They've done a marvelous job putting it together!

One competition down this year!  A few more to go!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Are You Going To Play Sharks & Minnows?

This week has been CRAZY!  I write for five different clients, and this week each and every client wanted something.  And as soon as possible.

Add to that the kids' homework, music lessons, Macey's concert, Macey's extra dance practices, Emma's soccer practices (three times a week), Parent-Teacher Conference, spelling tests, benchmark tests and FINALLY, today, the Chinese Language Fair at the University of Utah.

The language fair is only for the older grades.  Molly is not participating for a few years.  But she heard tidbits about "camp" and went with her Dad and sister to pick out sack lunches for Emma & Macey's "camp".

When we're off-track, the kids do go to Super Sport camp.  And they have a great time.  Molly thought the girls were going to Super Sport.  And she was being forced to go to school.  And take her crummy spelling test.

She didn't complain.  But while I was doing Emma's hair, I heard her little voice ask: "Are you going to play sharks and minnows?"

Poor thing!  We quickly explained about the language fair and she seemed relieved.  Bring on the spelling test.  Bring on the language fair!

And I'm excited to have this week over!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Outings With Braden

Since Braden and I are the only ones home during the day, we take a lot of outings.  We go on a lot of walks.  Target is a familiar haunt.  Barnes & Noble is a favorite, especially if we stop and get a hot chocolate and chocolate mousse.  And we always stop.  Thursdays mean storytime at the library with a jaunt to Cafe Rio to have lunch with Aunt Shelly.  We have a lot of outings.  And apparently they all seem to rotate around food and books.

Last night I was tempted by a Village Inn commercial and the promise of Free Pie Wednesday.  So I told Braden we were going.  He was none too happy because he wanted to stay home, watch Netflix, and eat Chicken Noodle Soup.

But I insisted and off we went!

He ordered his pie from the picture.  So imagine his surprise when he -- my boy who does not like really sweet things -- realized it was lemon.  He was not pleased.

I thought it was pretty good, though!

Braden's lemon face:

Saturday, March 5, 2016

End of the Line!

Here is my picture celebrating three sessions of Kindergarten Orientation!  Emma missed out because we were not in a house yet and things were still up in the air.

Crazy Hair Day!

Friday was the day my kids LOVE and I dread -- Crazy Hair Day/

I know parents who go all out on this day.  My friend Tiffany even shaves her kids heads, if necessary.  Emma will come home with tales of kids with floating hair (helium balloons), Christmas trees (battery powered lights and all), etc.  I have no good ideas!

This year I thought Emma could at least have a fun shape (a soccer ball, of course).  Macey asked for a flower garden.  I made Molly into a Christmas present.

Whew!  Done for another year!

Spelling Bee 2015/2016

Macey is an exceptionally good speller.  Which makes sense as she is an exceptionally good student.  I often called her brain "the vault" because what goes in usually stays there and she can recall it.  It comes in handy with the spelling bee.

The school spelling bee is divided into two: a spelling bee for the lower grades and a spelling bee for the upper grades.  Last year, we knew, was Macey's year because she was in the third grade and would be the oldest one there.

The only complication was that her class spelling bee was scheduled for when we were in Florida for Theresa & Mike's wedding.  Luckily it was postponed.  Perhaps it was not about luck.  Perhaps it was about her teacher, Ms. Rollins, wanting the let Macey participate.  We brought the spelling list to Florida just in case and when we heard that the class spelling bee had been postponed a day and Macey could participate, we started studying like crazy in the Florida airport.

It was certainly her year!  She won in Round 11!

But the whole process made her a little anxious and a little sick.  So we thought that this year we would study enough to do well and be proud, but not win her class spelling bee.  But she just couldn't help herself.  She won.

We really did not study this much this year.  We knew older kids would be participating and decided that this year would not be her year.  But we practiced a little while in line in Disneyland.  We should have studied harder because the competition was not as brutal as I expected for the 4th, 5th and 6th grade.  I think Macey could have won it all.  As it was, she was the last 4th grader standing.  She went out on the word inclement.  She slipped an A in there.

We are proud of Macey!

He Didn't Get One!

Braden has been working really hard on learning his alphabet.  We have some flash cards and he's a master at his ABCs.

A few weeks ago, Braden was tested on his alphabet at school.  He missed a few lowercase letters and missed the sound a G makes.  Could not get that for the longest time.

He was retested this Friday and conquered the alphabet like a boss.  He was awarded with a bright yellow ABC badge.

Jumping in the van after school, he asked me, "Mom!  Guess what today was?"

"Alphabet Badge Day!" I responded.

Evidently I did not sound excited enough.  "No, Mom," he said.  "You don't understand.  He didn't get one," he pointed to a friend.  "And he didn't get one!" he said, pointing out another little kid.  LOUDLY.

Parents loved hearing that. . .

But, Mom. . .

Braden has a lot of questions about Kindergarten.  His primary question is "How many days before. . ."  He wants to know when he'll start.  He wants to know what he'll learn.  He wants to know who is going with him.

When he asks what he'll do at Kindergarten, we explain that it will be a great year because he will learn to read.

On Friday, I took Braden to school so that we could volunteer in Macey's class for a little bit.  We saw Mrs. Mueller, the woman I hope will be his teacher next year, outside in front of the school.  We told her that we would be back for Kindergarten Orientation that afternoon!

As Braden and I walked away, he asked: "Mom, is she going to teach me to read?"

"Yes!" I said.  "And I'll help you, too."

We had a good time at Orientation.  I'm an old pro now, so I wasn't too anxious about the information presented.  In fact, Braden had to go to the bathroom, so we missed a chunk of the presentation anyway.  We went to visit a classroom and Mrs. Mueller read the kids a book.

On the way home, Braden was a little quiet.  Finally he said: "Mom, she did not teach me to read!"  I guess he expected it all to happen at Orientation.  I explained that it was a process -- that it took longer than 10 minutes.

I do not think he was fully satisfied with my response.

Oh, They're Going To Laugh At You!

Stress was running high this morning as I realized that I made a mistake -- a big one.  I invited neighbors for a movie night out but got the date wrong.  The movie did not open on the 11th.  It opened on the 18th.  I sat on my living room floored, stressed as I tried to find the best way to tell people I had mixed everything up.

Braden listed as I explained the situation to Garry.  "Oh, they're going to laugh at you!" he said, while playing with his toys.  "Laugh and laugh."

That's my Braden!  Always there to make things better.  Stinker.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Time To Pick Up Sisters!

I am so grateful that I have this blog.  It contains many of my favorite memories from when Emma & Macey -- and even a little of Molly -- were little, little.  But, by abandoning this blog for a quicker, easier Facebook, I have really let a lot of Braden's childhood go undocumented.

So I'll try to do better.  Especially for him.  Because he's hilarious.

Braden is 4 now.  He'll turn 5 in just a few days, which he is very excited for.  He asks everyday how many days are left before his birthday, though he does not really understand the answer.

When I pick Braden up from preschool with Miss Sally, he really likes to chill out by watching "a show" as he calls them (Bubble Guppies and Paw Patrol are the current favorite) or playing a game on the Wii.  He HATES picking up the girls from school.  It disrupts his play time.  It's always a few drama-filled minutes before I can get him into the van.

Today I reminded him that we were going to leave soon to pick up "the sisters" when he responded: I thought they were walking home today!

Since the school is over two miles away and you have to go over a highway to get there, chances are really, really low that that would EVER be a possibility.  But hope springs eternal in his mind, I guess.