Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hanging Out With Friends

Look what's cool again... Christopher got one. Tech Decks were on Christmas lists for our cousins about 15 years ago!

And big shout out to our favorite preschool -- Crestwood Hills Co-op -- making an appearance on Modern Family! Oh the chickens and the yoga... what great memories! But in all seriousness, I couldn't have asked for a better environment for my kids to play all morning, to learn to share, to learn to speak up for themselves, for teachers who taught me how to teach conflict resolution, for teachers who taught that "hitting hurts" but also loved the children who hit and taught us what was normal preschooler development and how to teach our children appropriate ways to express themselves. Crestwood was a huge blessing in our lives and I'm not just saying this, but I'll be forever grateful. Not to mention, my best LA friends were the parents I met at Crestwood. Those and my wardies. Sigh... Beautiful times.

And since we went to school with Steve Levitan's kids, I was wondering if Crestwood would ever make an appearance. I think there was a shout out years ago when Lily checked out "Wagon Wheel" preschool. But this time the filming was actually at Crestwood.  Love it!!  (Krista and Giffin, I miss you!)

On Thursdays I hike. (In the fall, when it's not rainy or ice, and when I don't have something else I need to do.) I headed up Mt. Olympus hoping to just hike to the first river.

But I had my first rattlesnake sighting. Fortunately, I really zoomed into this picture and I was much farther away when I noticed it. (About 10 feet.) Plenty of time to stop and turn around without getting my heart rate up.

I did a set of tricep dips on a far away rock to see if it would leave, but still it sat in the middle of the path, so I just turned around an went back. Didn't even consider waiting around, trying to get past or throwing rocks at it.

So many metaphors for seeing a rattlesnake in the path. One is: earlier I was noticing a tall rock with smooth sides and realizing I'd never taken much notice of it before. But because I could see how smooth the lower part was, hundreds of others had appreciated it and rubbed their hands on it. It even made me consider, "Should I be looking up more as I hiked and appreciating what's around me instead of always keeping my eyes on the path?!" The answer is no. Watch where you put your feet and make sure you don't step on a snake or fall off a cliff.

Finally, as I was almost back to my car, Courtney called so I was able to talk to her while I sat on a snake-free rock and looked out over the beautiful Salt Lake Valley.
I drove Courtney's car on Wednesday -- mine was in the shop.

That afternoon I also attended the temple. I am so grateful for the spirit I feel there EVERY TIME I GO. Seriously, every time. (I almost worry that writing it will jinx it. Because I kind of believe in jinxing.) But I am so grateful for that personal connection with my Heavenly Father. I don't understand everything about this life and the intricacies of the Gospel and the meanings behind everything in the temple. But I do know God loves us and the temple binds our families together in a personal and powerful way.

We got an e-mail that (surprise!) Marty and Chris had lacrosse practice at 3:30 p.m. Well, Chris had piano until 4 and Marty didn't get home from ACT prep until 3:45. I was taking Nick to get his wire fixed on his braces (again!) and we took the liberty of saying no, they couldn't make it. There are some sports where this isn't an option. You must rearrange everything even if you were just told 60 seconds ago a last minute practice was being held. So far, lacrosse isn't one of them. Or, we are just maturing and realizing what's most important. It felt so liberating!

While Nick was doing his math homework, Marty was teaching him so patterns for making math easier. It was fun to listen to Marty teach him. Nick felt it was sort of cheating, and Marty was trying to help him understand that math was all about patterns, that's what makes it easier. (Nick, you gotta trust Marty on this one!)

Dan and Marty flew to Detroit to visit the Fredenberg farm and see the BYU/Michigan game (which turned out super awful). Also went to a Tigers game on Friday night.

I went hiking with KT, ironically up Rattlesnake Gulch. Fortunately it didn't live up to its name.
We are such fun, cute moms. Right?

That afternoon, I had lunch with Marianne. And we seriously sat on the lovely patio of Copper Kitchen for 3 hours! It was the best visit! At 4:15 I couldn't believe time and rushed home. Nick and Chris were perfectly happy with friends and projects. Plus, I'd left Einstein bagels and cream cheese for an after school snack which makes everyone happy. Having older kids is a nice stage to be in!

Chris took off with his friends to do their Friday night wandering around.
Nick's friends had plans to hang at our house for a couple of hours and then another mom was taking them to Hotel Transylvania 2.  When that plan was made at 5:00 p.m., I immediately put on my pajamas.

Kay stopped by on her way home to Arizona just as Nick and friends were leaving. We chatted while she ate dinner and then both went our separate ways for alone time.

I'm reading Dead Wake but am having a hard time staying awake while reading it. It's a good book, but not riveting yet. Also caught up on some "Call The Midwife" episodes.

Chris had lacrosse games first thing in the morning. It's always fun to watch the kids play and sit and chat with parents, catching up with old friends and getting to know new ones. We try to say, "Hey! Watch! your kid is in!" And we always apologize when, because of our chatting, someone misses their child make a goal.
Chris is the one with the bright yellow shoes.

Both Chris and Nick mowed the lawn and I'm really proud that we're at a stage (end of the summer) that they would do it without complaining or trying to get out of it.  I wish I could say I was good about having a whole list of chores that they do. But I'm not. But they do practice their instruments. I think that counts.

Women's Conference was that evening. I loved Pres. Uchtdorf's talk/story. He's so fun to listen to. Part of it is the accent. He's also a great speaker!

I've got chicken curry going in the crock-pot so it will be all ready when we get home from church. Dinner will be quick because I have baptisms this evening.  And then we pick Marty up at the airport tonight.

Oh, and for anyone who reads this that knows her, Lexie F. is engaged!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

It's a Beautiful Life

Yesterday was scripture class and Diane showed this video. I thought it was so beautiful -- I'd never seen it before and just found out now that it's from "Meet the Mormons." (Still haven't watched that movie -- Another FHE idea!)

When we were in Greece, I was reminded of how small our world really is. Our cruise was filled with people from all over Europe all speaking different languages. But we had so much in common.  I watched a toddler play chase with her parents; Courtney noticed everyone taking selfies at the Acropolis; when I was explaining about Pompeii to Nicholas, our tour guide likened it to the mosaics depicting Mythological stories decorating walls in the Pompeii homes (76 AD) -- people wanting to teach their children and have them understand their history; our stylish, friendly sales girl in the leather store in Athens was Courtney's age and also studying at University.

We are all brothers and sisters. We love our children. We love our parents. We're doing our best to be kind to our neighbors, to treat the Earth well, to teach our children compassion. We're not perfect, but as a whole we're doing a pretty good job.

After scripture class, Jenny, Carol and I went to lunch. We've been friends for 30 years! It's great having people who have known you that long. Emily has a group of about 30 friends that plan fun activities every day. Anyone is welcome to join -- "the more, the merrier." Sounds like Courtney's ideal group of friends! Sarah is in her last year at the Y. Josh graduates this year and we had fun talking about Josh and Marty's future with missions and college. Mary is in 9th grade and recently had to write three words about herself. She wrote, "I Am Flawless," and couldn't figure out why this made her family laugh. That kind of confidence sounds like another 9th grader I know! Can't wait until they meet each other next year!

Nate is having fun settling into the Y and has gone on some fun dates. Nick has been on his mission for a few weeks and is getting used to it, but his family is still having a hard time missing him. Lots of tears whenever a country song comes on the radio :-)  Lexie is still trying to find a group in high school. I was reminded of Courtney's group -- and Marty's too -- where anyone who wanted to have fun and no drama was welcome to hang out. Christopher's group seems to be the same. How lucky we all are to have that!

After school, Marty and Chris mowed lawns and Nick had scouts. Nick loved planning for their upcoming campout and talked everyone into tin foil dinners because they were SO GOOD when he went camping with Dad and the scouts.  Dan is a good sport to happily take the Webeloes camping after I volunteered him to do it!

Marty went rock climbing both Monday and Tuesday outside. It makes me a teeny bit nervous, but he's having fun and I'm so glad they're going outside, trying something new that they love. He also signed up to take a Lead Climbing class with Chris in a couple of weeks.

At dinnertime, Chris was out long boarding (he ate earlier), Marty was rock climbing and Nick was at lacrosse practice. So Dad and I took our dinner outside and ate on the lawn. The weather was perfect and we loved sitting outside eating and catching up. Of course we totally lost track of time and almost forgot to pick up Chris and take him to parkour, but we remembered just in time.

For dinner I made orange chicken and fried rice (with quinoa instead of rice). Chris ate it but called it, "Liar's Fried Rice." Both Marty and Nicholas refused. To Marty's credit, he tried to convince Nick to try it after I was getting stern with Nick telling him he had to eat three bites. But Nick said he couldn't stand the texture and I learned my lesson long ago with Marty that trying to force them to eat isn't worth the aggravation. So I just rolled my eyes.

At the end of the night Dad and I watched The Mindy Project. So sorry for Courtney that she doesn't get Hulu in England! But secretly happy that I get to watch it all over again with her in December!

This morning I rode past LaCaille to the turn off to Snowbird Canyon (I wish I could remember if it's Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon, but I never can and I don't think I ever will.) The leaves are changing and it's beautiful! I LOVE this time of year!

Marty had a lacrosse game in Logan today so Dad drove he and Lance up there and watched. Cole got a ride too and just before they got on the freeway, Ryan called and asked for a ride. So they turned around and collected (Bristol speak!) him too. Dad said he loved listening to their conversation on the ride up there. Unfortunately it was a tough game and they lost. But Dad's taking them all out to dinner at Maddox after so that will break up the trip.

Nicholas was invited to the Maze Runner sequel: The Scorch Trials, with a friend he doesn't hang out with much, so he was excited about that. His report was that it was gruesome and intense.

For Young Men's Christopher went rock climbing up Big Cottonwood Canyon (sadly, I don't know which one this is). Christopher said he never got stuck, even when other kids did. It was his first time outside. I think my kids are pretty cool for learning how to do this!!

Tonight we will be keeping Nicholas up way too late watching the Modern Family and Blackish Season Premieres.

It's a happy, beautiful life.

Been working on this today -- Family Theme 2015-16

Selfie I had to take for Ward Directory

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Keeping Courtney Updated

This is the post to keep Courtney updated on all the happenings of home. So far it's been perfectly mundane. But that's kind of nice about home... when things aren't chaotic or dramatic; but peaceful. Never boring, but calm.

Courtney left on Thursday. I wasn't sure if she wanted to be independent and have Dad or Mom simply drop her off at the airport; or, if she wanted to be accompanied and helped on her way. (She doesn't need help, but sometimes we all like to have company when we're embarking on something big.)  I mentioned I had to drive carpool right at the time she was leaving...

"Well, I think dropping your daughter off to move to Bristol, England for 3 months is kind of a big deal and not something you miss because you have to drive carpool!"

Message received. Carpool was traded.

By lunchtime, she was packed and more than ready. We still had several hours before we needed to leave. So we had time to get our nails done. And then we raced home to pick up Dan and head to the airport.

This is Courtney leaving:

Was I sad? I was actually more excited than anything. I've said goodbye to my daughter now several times and it's sad to have to say goodbye and I'll miss her. (She's watching Kimmy Schmidt without me...!!!) But I was so excited to have her finally get to Bristol after waiting for it for so long!

She arrived on Friday and then it took her half the day to finally get to her dorm. But she made it and her video is fun to watch, if you haven't already.

And now here's what's happened here since then:

Chris went to piano, but Nicholas didn't. He's officially quit piano and started the saxophone, in addition to the clarinet. In the beginning I promised he wouldn't have to play three instruments. And it was hard to think of him not playing the piano. But he chose the sax and clarinet, and that's that. Not to mention, his teacher is awesome, and Nick's talented at both. Nick is thrilled.

Marty had a lacrosse game down in Eagle Mountain. Dan cancelled a meeting and went down to watch. While Lance was facing off, he yelled to Dan on the sidelines, "Hey, Dan! Are you taking me and Marty to dinner after?" When a teenager invites you to spend time with him, you say yes. Cafe Rio after the game.

Nick had lacrosse practice and Chris went skateboarding with his friends. It was a quiet night.

Friday morning I had breakfast with High School friends. We always laugh a lot. Lizzie P. is loving being in college and living at the U. "Best three weeks of her life." Funny KT took Gabe & Kira to be extras in Saturday's Warrior in the middle of the night the night before. We may see a lock of Kira's red hair in the bus scene.

It was Luke Adair's b-day on Thursday so Diane organized a surprise temple trip for all of Luke's friends to do baptisms after early day on Friday. What a great group of kids!

Nicholas was super excited for the Olympus High Homecoming Football game. He went with Luke and Daniel and found the rest of their friends there. At one point he went to the bathroom and then couldn't find anyone for a while and was walking around by himself. He said he didn't like that. But then he found them again so all was well.

Chris and Marty and friends went to the game as well. Mom and Dad stayed home and watched the movie of a book I really liked: The 100 Year Old Man Who Went Out a Window and Disappeared. A lot of it was in Swedish and it took us a while to figure out we needed to turn subtitles on and then to figure out how to do that. But Dad's a tech genius and eventually he figured it out!

Homecoming! Marty and friends had a fun day activity planned, but unfortunately, Sam couldn't go because she has an internship on Saturdays she can't miss. Marty wasn't comfortable going as a 5th wheel so stayed home instead.

I attended Mr. Manning's funeral in the high school theater. It was a wonderful memorial and tribute to a wonderful man. As a Principal, Bishop, Father and Friend, he made sure kids knew he loved and cared about them. I felt lucky to have worked with him and seen him interact with the students and also on behalf of Olympus High.

Dad and Nick went to his lacrosse game -- in Ogden! Nick's team won -- 12-11. Close game! Nick played defense again but wishes he could play Midi. We talked to him about talking to his coaches -- especially since it's a learning season -- but he's not sure he feels comfortable doing that. On the flip side, next time he's going to use Marty's D-pole!

Chris and I went and bought the supplies he needed for his Eagle Project -- Harry Potter wands for Primary Children's Hospital's Harry Potter Halloween party. We've got his project night scheduled for Oct. 1.

Marty picked up his suit and flowers and Lance came over and they got ready together. His suit looked perfect! We (Courtney, Me and Marty) did a good job and putting together a great looking ensemble!

Marty and I had the same hair in high school :-)

The boys picked up their dates and then went to a Kronk's house for dinner. Their mom and dad had a backyard table set up "just like a restaurant" and then served the group -- his dad cooking and his mom serving. Marty reported that it was awesome. Great food and atmosphere.

They went to the dance where they promptly said goodbye to their dates and hung out with friends. I'll never understand that, but I know you (Courtney) do! They did find each other for slow dances. Phew!

After the group came here to play games and watch a movie. There were about 10 couples and I loved that I got to see them come in and say Hi while they were all in their dresses and suits! Such great kids who know how to have fun! (I wanted to meet Danny Naylor, but I don't think I did -- their car came a little later.)

They played "Signs" and another game and were laughing and cheering until 1:00 a.m. Dad heard them leave by 1:45 but I was fast asleep.

Meanwhile, back at 9:00 p.m., Dad and I arrived home from dinner up at the junction (so I could return a pair of pants at the outlets), just in time to turn on the BYU game. Nick got home from Anders' at the same time so we all watched in our room. When Marty got to our house after 10:00, he kept coming to check on the game while they waited for the girls to finish changing clothes. It was a great game but ended in disappointment.

It was the first Sunday of the new schedule -- Sacrament Meeting first. Which meant we had to be better about being on time. We did pretty good. (Also, Marty wore his Homecoming suit again which was fun to get to see him in it again.) Weston spoke with the High Councilor so I was happy I got to hear his mission report! I guess all this next year will be your friends speaking! That will be fun for me and good for Marty and Chris.

Sunday evening we had the Pratts and the Johnsons (Peyton's family) come over for dessert -- brownies and ice cream. It was fun getting to know them better and the kids had fun hanging out with friends on Sunday.

Mom stuff: wash the laundry, fold the laundry, get Chris' scout patches sewn on. Search for his Scout shirt, clean Marty's slacks that had a spot on the knee. Work out with Michelle, make a dinner plan for the week, write out the boys' schedule so I don't forget they have practicing, homework, lawn mowing and "s" worksheet. Shower. Get dressed. Take Chris after school to buy a lax helmet and get his new suit coat tailored. Family Home Evening. Plan the Webelos camp out.

Mom stuff is good. I like keeping our house running. I like these jobs that keep me busy but also contribute to my family. I'm tired of being busy with jobs for other people's projects. So even though it doesn't sound exciting to fold the laundry and everything else listed above, it makes me happy to have the time to do these things. Remember this for when you're a mom. Or when you're a mom that's been too busy and you suddenly realize you need to cut back. It's okay. You'll be happy you did.

For family night we ate Papa Murphy's pizza in the yard and the boys played catch with their lacrosse sticks. It was perfect weather for being out in the yard. Just before dark Chris went out long boarding and Nick started his homework. AND... Dad and I finished organizing the garage! It looks so awesome and organized. All my birthday wishes come true!

Love you, Courtney!