Monday, June 30, 2014

Truths and a Lie

One of the following statements is a lie.  The rest are 100% true.  Can you guess which is the false statement?  

1. Spencer has chiggers.
2. Ellie got stung by a bee over 10 days ago and still has a large bruise from it.
3. It's almost 11:00pm and Cami is in the kitchen roasting entire bulbs of garlic.
4. Emma got third place in the freestyle at tonight's swim meet.
5. I have had the need to issue a lot of apologies lately.
6. Adam is the child having the hardest time adjusting to the new summer schedule.
7. Emma spent all day Saturday at the beach with the Beehives from church.
8. Glen and I are not eating sugar during the week.
9. I ran out on Sunday morning before our 9:00am church to get the right kind of leaves for our caterpillars who had eaten all  the other leaves overnight.
10. I am working on a huge project right now and my house is thrashed.
11. My boys recently got airsoft guns and all of my kids are enjoying the new hobby.
12.  I just sent in my official notice that I'm homeschooling Emma, Adam, and Ellie next school year!
13.  Cami and I just did a newborn baby photo shoot for a friend
14.  The baby chicks are growing fast and are just as well-loved as they were the day we got them!


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Not Good Enough

As part of having Emma participate on our pool's swim team, it is required that our family volunteer to help six different times during the season.    It's obnoxious, but apparently it takes a lot of people to make a swim meet run smoothly.    They need concession helpers, timers, runners, marshalls, stroke judges,  etc.  Usually I sign up to be a timer.

The last meet though,   I decided to mix things up and try a new place to volunteer, so I signed up to help make snow cones.   Since I'd never done it before I was considered the "helper" while a trained volunteer was the "lead".  Too bad the trained volunteer showed up nearly an hour late and I scrambled having to figure out how to do all the set-up and everything myself.   By the end of the night, I'd done set-up, learned to run the machine, take it apart, clean it, etc.  

So I went to sign up for my volunteer spot for this week's meet, I saw that the "lead" snow cone position was still available so I signed up for that.   I figured since I'd learned all the "highly technical" (haha!) aspects of running the snow cone table the week before, that I definitely qualified as trained.  

Then today I got this email....

So yeah,  I may be a college graduate with previous experience in snow cone machine care, but  according to our volunteer coordinator, who may I point out does not even know how to spell "snow cone" correctly, I am unqualified to run the snow cone table at our pool's swim meets.     

I am now signed up for the much less technical job of "running".   

On the upside, all this is  providing great joke fodder for the kids.   Additionally, my family will be pleased to note that I did get to put my excellent (inherited) sarcasm skills to use in my response to her.  


Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Perfect Egg

When my kids were little, they were always saying things that made us smile.
Their cute pronunciations and funny interpretations of phrases were a source of entertainment for us for years.     I still love talking to toddlers and preschoolers just so I can hear them talk and very much look forward to babysitting grandkids someday!

The older the kids get though, the less entertained we are with what they say.   Mostly gone are the childlike pronunciations and the cutesy topics.  Instead I've got maturing kids who say exactly what's on their minds--for better or for worse.

That's why when I overheard Adam telling his sister the other day that he had played with a kid named Lucifer while at a friend's house, I couldn't stop laughing.   To his credit the kid's actual name, Luther, is not one you hear every day, but he still was so embarrassed that he'd remembered wrong.   I tried to stifle my laughter, but deep down inside I couldn't have been happier about his little memory slip.  It had been way too long that I'd been entertained in a truly childlike way like that.  

 On another note, Adam, in addition to being Lucifer's nicest friend,  is also a fried egg artist...
He was so proud of its perfect roundness and the Africa-like shape of the yolk,
that he was even willing to pose for a picture with it!  I considered listing it on ebay for thousands of dollars, but I ate it instead.


This section is to help me remember some of the cute things the kids used to say.  

Emma would ask us for "purple orange juice" when she wanted grape juice and she always called Cami, "Sammy Ose".   She was also quite the toddler-aged singer who would belt out primary songs all day long...all remarkably in tune.   Spencer would tell us that he loved us a whole whole bunch and like a pecan.  He also would totally butcher the pronunciation of big words, while correctly using them in sentences.  We attributed it to his precocious and prolific reading habits.    Cami couldn't pronounce the "k" or "g" sounds, so she would come up to us and say, "Tami wants a tuddle," when she wanted to crawl in our laps and cuddle.  It took well into elementary school before she could say those guttural, back of the throat sounds.   Adam would throw things off the high chair over and over again, delightfully yelling, "Uh oh!" each and every time.    It was a game he never tired of.   And weirdly, while I'm sure that Ellie had her own cute little things she said, I cannot remember anything specific right now!  She was, however, constantly delighting us with her cheerful and extroverted personality.  She is a girl who has loved connecting with people from day one.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Watch Out World!

Watch out world, because ...

this almost seventeen-year-old cutie just finished Behind the Wheel, 

and is officially Virginia's newest licensed driver!  


Cami's list of things to do on Wednesday
drive Ellie to Michaels
clean room
pick up apples, peppers, and spinach at the store
organize closet
drive Emma to swim team
do laundry
drop youth conference packing list off to someone's house
vacuum room
be at Mom's beck and call all day long

Friday, June 20, 2014

This week...

Sometimes it's just easier to put an update on everyone all in one post, rather than attempting to be entertaining.   Here's what's going on in our neck of the woods right now!

I've been evermore grateful that I exited Facebook when I did.  I left because I was wasting too much time on it, all the while feeling  constantly aggravated and annoyed by certain people.  Now with all the controversy going on, I am infinitely grateful not to have to read everyone's strong opinions on both sides of the table.  It's as bad as election time and even more personal feeling because it's my faith and my loving leaders that are being dragged through the mud.    In this instance, I am a firm believer that ignorance definitely is bliss.  I like people much better when I don't know exactly what their political/religious/ life leanings are.

I also am planning our homeschool curriculum for next year, pulling together the details for the crafts at YW camp, planning a lesson on the priesthood for the YW, and running back and forth to the car repair shop.   Nearly an arm, a leg, and my firstborn child later, I think we finally have all of our cars up and running.  Here's hoping they last for a long time now!

Last Saturday, Spencer ran a  13-mile leg of a 70-mile off-road relay. It was twice as far as he's ever run in his entire life and although it was a success in that the relay team beat their friend who was running the entire race himself (but barely), it was an experience that he is not eager to repeat!

 This week he also got a full-time job!   Even though it requires hard labor and waking up at 6:00am, he's enthusiastic and working hard at it.   This week he's laid a sprinkler system, patched a roof, created several speedbumps, trimmed a lawn, and set handicap signs in cement.    It's been a really, really weird experience for me to see him up and at 'em before noon, let alone 6:00 in the morning!

Emma created a poetry book, which was amazing.  She is an excellent writer and I am trying to talk her into letting me publish a poem or two of hers here on the blog.    She is also quite the musician and I am loving finally having a kid who doesn't have to be reminded to practice her music!  In fact, we usually have to tell her to stop, because she plays so often that it can interrupt phone calls and people going to bed.

Cami has had homework, finals, and behind-the-wheel this week, but even with all that she hasn't been on time to school even once since seminary ended.  It's been a LONG, challenging academic year for her (3 AP classes will do it) and she is now checking out big time.  There are technically three more days of school this coming week, but she's already let me know that she has no intention on going!  I agreed as long as she uses the time to clean her room, which lately has resembled a room-size dirty laundry basket.

Ellie wishes she could be done with school too, but much to her chagrin, she still has her math book to finish.    We are plugging away at it and hope to be done in the next week or so, so she actually can have some time off too!   She has also been writing her own books, making dollhouse furniture, and obsessing over our little chickies!

Adam  finished his math a few weeks ago, so he is doing some fun math activities each day.  I have him keep doing it mostly so Ellie doesn't cry foul that she's doing math and he isn't!   He also is the main caregiver to all the animals and the resident fix-it guy.  He loves to figure out how things fit together and I will usually ask Adam instead of Glen these days for help with little fix-it jobs.

Glen ran a 14-mile leg of the 70-mile off-road relay race that Spence also participated in.  It was a slightly better experience for Glen than Spencer, but not by much.  He did not get to train as much as he'd wanted and therefore really struggled with the steep hills as well as the distance.  He has been out of town for an entire week now and  I miss him.

Five of my ten Laurels in YW are graduating seniors, which means having to say goodbye to them this summer.  :(
MK is the first one to leave (only a few days after graduation), so we had a little going away party at
Red Mango for her! this week  I will miss her!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Welcome to the Zoo (literally)

On Monday, we were a normal suburban family with five kids, two minivans, and a dog.

On Tuesday, things got weird fast.

 First thing that morning we got a phone call that it was time to pick up our new  baby chickens from the post office.   We're only taking care of them for a few weeks, but my kids were grinning ear-to-ear at the cuteness that lay within that little chirping box.

FYI this is what chicks look like when they get sent by mail.  Three of the four survived the trip.

Our kids immediately claimed and named them, except for poor Emma who happen to be the last one home that day and by default ended up with the dead one being named hers.

Meet Rose (the yellow one, named by Ellie), Stripe (the tan one, named by Adam), and Felix (the black one, named by Cami)...our temporary pet chickens.

We don't have enough yard to keep them when they're older, but our friend, Shelly, was nice enough to let us "foster" them for a few weeks for her.  They're all females and will eventually grow up to be free ranging egg-laying hens on Shelly's mini farm.

The kids are in love....

Most of the kids anyway...

We are keeping them in our bathtub with a heat lamp, which explains the inordinate amount of time my kids have been spending in the bathroom the last couple days.   Whenever I don't see them for a while, I can guess where they've ended up.   

Well, we thought that getting those baby chicks  was the end of the excitement at our house, but today my friend Lillian dropped by with a few more additions to our little zoo.

We've got a pretzel jar hosting luna moth caterpillars.  They eat only sweet gum and hickory leaves, so our first order of business was locating a suitable source of food for them.  Luckily we found a sweet gum tree about a half mile walk from here.  They will turn into gorgeous moths eventually.  

Lillian also brought us some Cope's gray tree frog tadpoles....

and a praying mantis egg case (of which I took no picture of).   

I figure that now that we've got a regular zoo going on here, I may as well invite the whole world to come visit.  If you happen to live locally and want to come see our little menagerie of wildlife, give me a call.  

Speaking of wildlife, our adventure with animals continued into the evening time.  While we were at the pool, we suddenly started noticing a little brouhaha with a teenage boys and a bird going on at the fence line.  When we  went to investigate what all the commotion was about,  we discovered a poor little parakeet who was clearly out of his element in the great outdoors.    He seemed disoriented,  skittish, yet oddly drawn to all the people.  I called my friend who had a parakeet and she informed us that he would certainly die if left in the wild. 

Thus began our mission to save the poor little thing.  

It took a lot of finagling and several prayers, but eventually we got the little fellow into a box (with the help of some teenagers)....

and for the second time in two days, we got  into our car with a box containing a live bird...

we brought it to my friend Julie's house,  where they are fully decked out for a pet bird.

Julie placed a FOUND ad on Craigslist and my kids are making signs to hang around the pool, so that hopefully we can return him to its rightful owner.

With up close experiences with six different animal species (including our dog) in a two-day period of time, now we are wondering what kind of animal adventures tomorrow will bring.   A pet unicorn?   Maybe a flamingo?

Whatever it is...we are ready!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Cami Goes for a Bike Ride...

...and comes back home with a good facebook post! 


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Distracting Myself...

Things are getting really weird in my neck of the woods.   

Read here if you want to know what I'm talking about and keep in mind that this lady is from my ward  and that it's my wonderful bishop she's badmouthing and feeding to the media wolves.  

As a result, I am edgy, sad, worried, and  standing in need of some serious mental distraction....

so tonight I'm posting about cutest, most innocent, most distracting thing I can think of.

Baby chicks!   

My friend, Shelly, invited us to her house to admire and hold the cute little fuzz balls that had just arrived in the mail (yes, the mail!) that very morning! 

My kids couldn't get enough of them...

and would have stayed there all day if I had let them.  

Cami even skipped school for the cause...

And don't ask me quite how this happened, but somehow these cute kiddos...
talked me into fostering some chicks at our house too.  

We don't have the space in our yard to keep full grown chickens, but we are going to pick up some little babies in the mail this coming week and take care of them for a few weeks, before bringing them back to Shelly's farm.  

My kids are sooooooooo excited and I hereby invite any and all wannabe countryfolk  
to drop by and visit our three-week long bathtub based little farmstead, 

 it's gonna be cute in here!  


Monday, June 9, 2014

Bread and Jam

"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before...Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty—and I am not talking about the process of cleaning the rooms of your teenage children."  Dieter F. Uchtdorf


This was my creation today.
Freshly made strawberry jam spread onto thick buttered slices of homemade bread. 
I have no desire to know how many calories were in each slice, but on a day that I faced disappointment and judgmental comments from a friend, it was deeply satisfying to me to create something that was not only delicious, but beautiful as well.    

Although I regularly make homemade bread, this batch turned out extra tasty (probably because I used more white flour than usual) and we couldn't get enough of it! We ended up eating two full loaves ourselves and sharing another with a sick friend. There's still one more loaf left, which Spence so helpfully cut into tonight, so (oh darn!) we will have to eat that ourselves too.  

Now if I could just get my kids to like broccoli as much as they love homemade bread and jam....


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Five Kids in a Tree and other such randomness

I looked out the window and what did I see?  
Five cousins all "popping" around in a tree!

Also, in the past week....

a)  our "reliable" minivan wouldn't start and needed $600+ of repairs! 
b)  Emma got 5 stitches in her knee after an unfortunate run-in with the pool ladder.
c)  my uncle Buddy, aunt Debra, and cousin Isaac came for a visit.   The kids (the young girls in particular) were in love with all of them and didn't want them to leave! 
d)  Spencer hit his 2-year mark in remission from leukemia and his check-ups will now be every three months! 
e) we had another family round of Chopped (boys vs. girls) and we tied.
f) we saw a 3-foot long snake slithering across the road in our neighborhood...YIKES!
g) I went strawberry picking with the kids and will be making jam tomorrow! 
h)  Adam went to a Priesthood Preview tonight, which is for all boys who will be turning 12 soon.  It seems so weird that my fourth child will be 12 in a few months, when I am only 20.  Weird!  

In the last few weeks...

a)  Glen got a new car which he likes very much.  I like that his new promotion gave him a car allowance that lessens the bite of having a car payment again.  
b)  SOL's (end of year tests) are done!
c) early morning seminary ended for the year and we are all enjoying the opportunity to sleep in about an hour each morning!  This is reason #1 for the recent upsurge in my blogging frequency!
d) I deactivated my Facebook account (for at least the month of June).  This is reason #2 for my recent upsurge in blogging frequency. 
e) I spent way too much at Costco  after running out  of everything at the same time 
f)  Our washer AND our dryer both stopped working correctly at the same time and the repairman says we need new ones.  
g) we found out my brother and his family are moving to England!  
h) I joined a vegetable and cheese co-op  and am swimming with vegetables I'm not used to using!  Turnips, radishes, collard greens, and rhubarb are all things I've never cooked with before and I am having to get creative!


Glen is thrilled about his fancy new car with features such as air conditioning and doors that all open, luxuries he's been doing without for the last few years! 

More kids in a tree!

Playing "Rock, Paper, Scissors, Missile" with Uncle Buddy. 

McKenzie unsuccessfully tries to scare Uncle Buddy with a ferocious growl. 

I get a load of organic veggies like this delivered straight from the farm each week.  It's stretching my cooking skills and getting us to eat more veggies! 
We've made bacon-wrapped asparagus, a lattice topped rhubarb-strawberry pie,  roasted radishes, mushroom-asparagus pasta, vegetable-berry smoothies, and lots and lots of salads.  This week I'm making turkey lettuce wraps, bbq chicken salad, and taco salad.  


Friday, June 6, 2014

It's official....

After being inspired by this little snippet in the paper, this morning we opted to officially change our names.

Look out world, here comes.....
Glenne, Llarrah,  Khammee, Emnmuh, Addum, and L.E.

Spennsur wasn't there that day, but rest assured it was our plan that his name be properly butchered to match the rest of ours, so that when I  take out a weekly ad in the newspaper to celebrate our family's super amazing accomplishments, everyone will know that we are an ultra-creative, original,  one-of-a-kind family!

Here's the article I'm submitting to the paper for publication....

Local News  6/5/14
Local resident,  Emnmuh Khrysteen,  sustained an injury at approximately 5:00pm this evening after attempting to exit the pool after swim practice.  The metal ladder, unfortunately, proved to be sharper than Emnmuh's knee and five stitches were required to close the open wound.  Preliminary medical care was offered on-site at the pool by a rather alarmed 20-something pool manager, who, after wiping up Emnmuh's  bloodied knee with her bare hands,  strongly encouraged the family to leave immediately and drive straight to an urgent care clinic.   Unfortunately though, it was shortly discovered after leaving the scene of the unfortunate incident, that the family's car did not know who the heck "Llarrah" was and refused to start for the oddly named clan.  Several phone calls, a push, and a battery jump later, they were on their way....little worse for the wear except for the development of an unnatural fear of ladders and a newfound love for beautiful, classically spelled names.    


PS  Emma is fine and dandy.  By far the worst of the experience for her is not being able to swim for 7-10 days.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Two Years in Remission!!!!

Two years ago this week, Spencer walked out of the hospital bald and gaunt from his chemo treatments, but ecstatic as can be to be putting cancer behind him once and for all.    He since has graduated from high school, finished his freshman year at James Madison University, and is signed up to run in a long relay race in a few weeks.

Today he had his two-year check-up and was found to be healthy as ever!!     The two-year mark is a significant hurdle to overcome and we are thrilled with his continued health.  Check-ups now move to once every three-months!
Spencer and the amazing hem/onc doctor who coordinated  his care.
Dr. Shankar was a blessing of calm  during the time he was in the hospital.  

As we've approached this two year mark I've spent the last few months reflecting a lot on some of the ways that his battle with acute myeloid leukemia affected us and some of the things we've learned as a result of this challenge.    I hope you'll bear with some mushy reflections on my part.

Things we've learned:
*  God is in in his eternal perspective.
*  life is short...don't waste it on stupid pursuits.
*  people are generally good, kind, and generous
*  when one door closes, another opens
*  the time we have with our kids, even in the best of circumstances, is far too short
*  modern day medicine is truly miraculous (if we had had our family a few decades ago we would not have any boys left (between Adam's difficult/emergency birth and Spence's leukemia))
*  the human body is amazing
*  life is sometimes hard
*  friends
*  light overpowers dark, but sometimes it takes time
*  God is keenly aware of us and our individual lives


Clinic stats:
Weight: 75.6 kg     WBC:  4500    Hgb:  15.2   Platelets:   156     

Monday, June 2, 2014

Scout Math

12-young scouts
30+ lb. backpacks strapped on their backs
sleeping in a tent

cooking dinner over a campfire 
4 miles of hiking


a dozen very tired, but happy boys, 

and a  magnificent view at Little Schloss overlook,
and few dozen ticks.   


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Civil War Cutie

What's better than dressing up in old-fashioned clothes and pretending that you live in the olden days? 

Well, if you happen to be a cute little nine-year-old who loves people as much as you love dressing up, then spending the day with like-minded folks is about as fun as fun gets!

My sister, AnnaLisa,  was a history major in college and loves all things Civil War.  When AnnaLisa's roommate signed up to run the children's tent at the local Civil War Day, she was first in line to help her out.
 And Ellie was first in line to help AnnaLisa out! 

We went for a visit too and enjoyed the music, the reenactments...

and the hands' on activities (like dipping their own candles)!
Ellie had a fabulous time participating and "helping" and has already volunteered to help AnnaLisa out again next year!


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