Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hurrying Time

We've gotten to that  busy end-of-the-school year time when our schedule  goes into overdrive.   It is filled up with  a bunch of  "extra" events that get heaped on in addition to our normal busy life.    This past week, in particular, has made me start  to get really excited for this last month of school to be over so that we can finally get on to the more laid back days of the summertime.  

Here's a small glimpse of a few things we've been up to:

Cupcake Order:
At only seven dozen cupcakes, it was far from being the biggest cupcake order Cami's ever had, but it definitely  was one of the more stressful ones.    The order was due at 8:00am on Saturday morning, but after a full day of school on Friday, then one of her last lacrosse games of the season that evening, she didn't get home until nearly 10:00pm.    The cupcake making didn't even start until I was ready for bed.  I attempted to sleep, but the banging around in the kitchen meant that it was fitful.   She finally finished up around 3:00am and collapsed into bed.    At 5:55am I awakened and realized that Cami hadn't gotten up for her 6:00am babysitting job yet.   Cami jolted awake and ran out the door  unkempt and still in her sweats.    My sleep had been so interrupted, that I attempted once again to go back to bed, but alas I did not really fall soundly back asleep until right as it was time to wake up for my 8:30 YW camp meeting.     

Civil War Days:   
Because my sister's roommate has been in charge of the children's activity tent the past few years, we get the inside scoop about all the fun things they're planning for the Falls Church Civil War Days each year.  Ellie's become quite enamored with the event and it's now something that she looks forward to all year long.    She was an official (costumed) volunteer this year that went  to assist AnnaLisa and her roommate.   We didn't have a whole lot of time, but Adam, Cami, and I  dropped by to say hello and try out some of the activities.   As per usual, their favorite activity was making and dipping their own candles.   Cami brought along the cute little boy she was babysitting, who  really enjoyed himself as well! 


Emma's Spring Voice Recital:   
Emma's been singing for us since she was a small child, but recently has been very interested in developing this talent more.  This school year we decided to sign her up for voice lessons with our favorite 6'3" opera singer that lives in our ward and it's been amazing to watch Emma grow in confidence as the year's gone on!  I love hearing her sing! 



Here are videos of her performances:  






Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mormon Prom

What is Mormon Prom you ask?    
It's a prom without alcohol, drugs, sex, and immodest clothes.    In other words, it's awesome and I, for one, am very grateful for the efforts that go in to making it a special night for these teens who are trying to live up to a certain standard. 


This year Cami went with her friend, Rex, who as you can see has been her friend since preschool.   

They had a great night and it's hard for me to believe that yet another milestone has passed for Cami!  

I'm going to miss her in a few months!   


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Good news!


I'm happy to say that this kid (who's not much of a kid anymore) is now...
3 years in remission from leukemia! 


His counts looked great and he's down to needing appointments only twice a year!  

It's hard to believe that it's been three whole years.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

#ShareGoodness

For a recent young women activity,  we had the girls make #ShareGoodness posters for each of the young men.   It was based loosely on the share goodness campaign that the church had put out, trying to encourage people to share uplifting and inspiring things on social media.  A counselor and I came up with the concept of these posters ourselves and I think we were just as excited about them as the girls were.  


Beforehand I had gathered pictures of each of the YM, which the girls glued to the center of each poster.  We then just provided them with colored sharpies and encouraged them to write down sincere and meaningful compliments on each poster.    One of the YW leaders went around and edited them for egregious grammatical errors (changing "your" into "you're" mostly) and I took them home to read through and make sure all the comments were appropriate (they were) and to help my girls add to a couple of boys' posters who the girls didn't know as well.  


It turned out to be a fun activity that meant a lot to the girls and it was so fun to see the boys'  faces when the young women presented them with their posters the next Sunday!


 Adam was a big fan of his poster and now has it hanging on his bedroom wall.   It was cute to watch him read through his compliments and speculate how people knew certain things about him!  


It was our hope that all the young men will feel a little wonder when they look at their posters and know  that their goodness has been noticed...and makes a difference!   


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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Siri Humor and Other Randomness

When we recently upgraded our phones, we were excited to discover that we had the Siri app for the first time.   Siri, for those of you who aren't iPhone users, is an app that allows you to verbally ask questions and make requests.   Siri, in the form of an ever patient  female voice then responds to you.  It's great for asking directions, sending texts, or making phone calls hands-free in the car.  

Or if you are Adam, it's also great for asking  silly and rhetorical questions like, "Why are firetrucks red?"   Siri, with her unpredictable humor, sometimes has an awesome answer...


Ellie likes the humor too, however,  recently she has discovered a new favorite kind of request.



She asks Siri to show her pictures of cute baby animals.       


Following the request, we hear oohs and aahs!

After which she goes on immediately to her next request.   


 I have to admit that it's pretty hard to stay grumpy or mad with that kind of cuteness going on around me!   Leave it to Ellie to bring a smile to all of our faces!  

In other news on the home front....

Spencer is home for a little while and we finally got to celebrate his birthday.  


Cami is in the thick of AP exams and other stressors, but got asked to Mormon Prom today by her friend Rex. 


It had been discussed that they were going together weeks ago, but with MoPro happening this weekend, I guess he figured it was finally time to officially ask her.   

And with that...off I go to Spence's 3-year oncology check-up....stay tuned! 

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Mom is....

My mom is...

an example of discipline.  
I've outweighed her most of my adult life (even in my thinner days) and she is an example of putting aside what's comfortable for what's best.    

an extreme introvert who loves her alone time.
But she is also willing to sacrifice that alone time to spend time with her loved ones.

a passionate and opinionated political guru.  
She follows politics closely in the news and has A LOT to say if you get her started! 

frugality embodied.  
She does not waste anything.  If there are two bites of food left on someone's plate, rather than tossing it like I would, she wraps it up and saves it for later.   And no container that came with a lid ever gets tossed until it is broken and unusable.  Milk jugs, mayo jars, soda bottles...all have a second life under my mom's care.  

 a devoted follower of Christ. 
Her faith is a rock that has never wavered and her devotion to the gospel is an inspiration to me. 

a great listener. 
Whenever I am feeling frustrated with daily life, I can count on my mom to listen to my woes without judgment.   

 an awesome mom and grandma! 
She sends birthday cards, talks to the kids on the phone,  reads to them, and will patiently sit and  listen to the most boring stories ever because she is awesome like that.  

We love you, Mom!   
Happy Mother's Day!




Thursday, May 7, 2015

Self Defense!

Recently we arranged for our local police department to come do a self-defense presentation for the Young Women in our ward. The girls were surprisingly excited about the opportunity to do some hands-on practice kicking, punching, and yelling. Even Ellie got in on the action! Hopefully no one will ever have to use any of these skills in real-life, but in any case, they're a little more prepared than they used to be!




Here are my notes from the night:

#1 TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
*Don't fall for people saying they need your help. It's not just a trick to lure kids away; many perpetrators also use this tactic on adults as well. Always say you're calling 911 for them (and get away).
* Most crimes are committed by someone you know, so TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS if something feels off

#2 Be aware of your surroundings 
*Don't get distracted by texts, phone calls, etc. (especially in parking garages, parking lots, and along trails/sidewalks)
*Pay attention to who and what's going on around you, especially when you're outside by yourself (day or night)

#3 Use your voice
*If something doesn't seem right, start making noise
*Don't just scream without purpose, be specific and loud (even if you think no one else is around)
*Say things like, "Get away from me." "I don't know you" "I'm calling 911" "Stay back."

#4 Stun and run
*Back up to give yourself space and time
*First goal is to get away--do whatever it takes (while making as much noise as possible)

#5 Using your tools/vulnerable locations

*Use elbows, hand, head, knees, feet, finger, teeth...whatever you can to hurt them
*Aim for their vulnerable parts (nose, eyes, throat, groin, feet, shins, etc)
*If grabbed by arm, hit them as hard as possible on the arm that's holding yours, twist and pull away at the same time.
*If grabbed from behind, use your elbows to throw them off balance

#6 Tell a trusted person
*Tell a trusted person ASAP what has happened, whether the perpetrator was a stranger or someone you knew



We've had some really great YW activities lately, one of which I'll definitely be blogging about soon. For the record, I love my calling and I love these wonderful young women!

(oops! I totally didn't mean to blog twice in one day!)

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The Kite Flyers


What better thing is there to do on a beautiful windy day than to head to the park and fly kites?! 

We fly kites just infrequently enough that when we do do it, it's like a dream come true for the kids.  


The fact that there was actually windy enough weather on a day that was also beautiful and mild, and a day that we had enough time in our schedule to drop everything and head to the open spaces of a local park, is an unusual enough occurrence that the kids would have happily stayed there all day.   


Unfortunately we had to leave eventually so that I could take care of the jungle that our yard had become.   Our neighbor's yard is green, lush and meticulously cared for, which makes our yard look all the worse with its weeds, bare spots, and ragged edges.  
I am teaching Adam to mow it, so at least now it's short and weedy instead of looking like an overgrown chia pet. 

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"When the winds of adversity come, remember one thing--kites fly the very highest against the wind. Kites don't fly in spite of opposition, kites fly high because of opposition. In fact, they couldn't fly without opposition." 
 John Bytheway

Thursday, April 30, 2015

On This Date....

IN honor of Spence's 20th birthday today, here's a glimpse of his birthday through the years!  

20-years ago today (1995):    
I was in the middle of suffering through what would prove to be 36-hours of labor.  Finally at 8:53pm, after over 1/2 hour of pushing, our little Spencer  David was born and I became a mother.   He weighed in at 8-lb. 6-oz. and, although the doctors made fun of his cone-shaped head, we were enraptured  from day one.   We would do practically anything to elicit one of his light-up-the-room smiles and I did my best to never set him down.    

19-years-ago (1996):
We were THOSE parents.  You know the annoying ones that invite 20 people over and force everyone to watch your precious one-year-old baby eat a cake and open a gazillion presents that he couldn't have cared less about.      Spence was as good a sport as a one-year-old could be, but it wasn't long before  the hordes of relatives cheering every time he ripped the wrapping paper got to him and he was in tears.   On the other hand though, the cute Winnie-the-Pooh cake my Aunt Zina made for him was adorable and did make for some cute pictures!         

18-years-ago (1997):
I was 32-weeks pregnant with Cami and we had barely made an across the country move from BYU to our apartment just outside Baltimore for Glen's first job.  He had only graduated a couple of days before, but since the health insurance started on the first day of the month after he started working, we were bound and determined that he start working in April, so our insurance would start on May 1st.   It was a whirlwind move and Spencer's 2nd birthday got lost in the shuffle, but I do remember that the apartment manager gave him a balloon since it was his birthday, so at least there's that.   

17-years-ago (1998):
We were living in Baltimore.  Spence had just had strep throat and was taking antibiotics for it.   On the morning of his third birthday, he woke up covered head to toe in hives.   He was allergic to penicillin....the first of many medications he'd later prove to be allergic to.  I remember that we went on some kind of field trip with friends that day, who all asked worriedly why he was so puffy and red.   We reassured them that he was not contagious and  felt fine.  In fact, he was more than happy to have the double attention of it being his birthday and being rashy!
16-years-ago (1999):
What more can you ask for a  boy's fourth birthday party, than to have a bush across the street start on fire and have the firetrucks come to put it out?   It was the best birthday party entertainment ever and I have a vivid memory of all his friends leaving the games we'd planned and lining up at our front window to watch all the action.   Since no further damage to property happened, in the end we were kind of grateful to the schmuck who threw his cigarette into the bush and created a dream party for a our four-year-old!

15-years-ago (2000): 
We were living in Virginia now and I was just finishing the first trimester of my pregnancy with Emma.    I have no specific memory of a party, but I'm sure that he invited the friends from his co-op preschool.   

14-years-ago (2001):
With three kids now, my memory starts getting a little fuzzy.  We were house hunting at the time and  I don't specifically remember celebrating his 6th birthday, but his friends James and John Lee most likely were a part of it.   They were three peas in a pod and I'm pretty sure that Spence would have happily volunteered to be their triplet if given the chance.    We put an offer in on  the house we currently live in just a couple weeks later.  

13-years-ago (2002):
Now I was pregnant with Adam and have almost no memories of this time.  He was at a new school, but still good friends with James and John.   
12-years-ago (2003):
His 8th birthday was a shared birthday party with his friend John Joseph, who was in his church and school classes.  Their birthdays are only a couple days apart and it worked well to combine them.   We went to Eakin Park and sailed boats in the little stream there.  It was low stress and very fun to have someone to share the work with.  A couple weeks later they were baptized on the same day!  

11-years-ago (2004):
This was a time of transition for Spencer.   His third grade year had been pretty hard because of a horrible teacher and all of his friends had moved away.   Eventually his friend Danny moved in, but it was a hard time for him and I don't remember much about his 9th birthday at all.  

10-years-ago (2005):
I had just had Ellie a couple weeks before and probably threw a very low-key family party for Spence's 10th birthday.  I think his best friend was still Danny, but he was moving away soon, so once again he was in-between friends for a while.  

9-years-ago (2006):
This is when everything becomes a total blur.   At some point in here birthday celebrations all got super low-key.   Annual birthday parties with friends were long gone by then and the kids were lucky to get a couple of presents and a cake sometime during the week of their birthday!   I'm sure he hung out with Ryan, his best bud all the way through high school.    

8-years-ago (2007):
In a familiar vein, I don't actually remember his 12th birthday, but according to the blog it was a good day!   I made him Cafe Rio taco salad and he got a bike and an iPod.  Thank you blog for helping me out here!  

7-years-ago (2008):
Spence is a teenager! 

6-years-ago (2009):
I was homeschooling Spencer when he turned 14-years-old.  It was his 8th grade year and I'm thinking that I took him rock climbing for this birthday, since that was his big obsession that year!

5-years-ago (2010):
He was in high school now and probably had Ryan over.   

4-years-ago (2011):
Glen took Spence and a couple of friends (Nick and James) to a college lacrosse tournament at the Baltimore Ravens stadium for his 16th birthday. 

3-years-ago (2012):
We had put out the call for people to flood Spencer with greetings for his 17th birthday and flood us they did!  Our mailbox was full every day leading up to his birthday and we were completely humbled at the kindness that people poured out upon him while he was sick!   The timing ended up perfect and he was actually home from the hospital on his birthday!  He had a ton of visitors that day and when he went back to the hospital for his last round of chemo the next morning, it was with a sense of hope and excitement that cancer would soon all be a distant memory. 
 


2-years-ago (2013):
This was a hard time for us.   Spence had senioritis in a bad way, was in the process of making some big decisions,  and we were all very stressed.  I remember taking him somewhere nice to celebrate his birthday, but I don't have good memories of this time period in the slightest.  


1-year-ago (2014): 
Since he was still in Harrisonburg getting ready for finals, his 19th birthday was pretty anticlimactic.   We celebrated when he got home in a week-and-a-half or so.  


Today: 
Once again he is getting ready for finals!  We are going to try and visit him this weekend to replenish his fridge and take him out.   It's hard to believe my baby is no longer a teenager!  

 Happy 20th birthday Spence! 

And for you viewing enjoyment, here are some pics of Spencer from over the years:



















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