Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Birth-o-ween!

In honor of Emma's 14th Birth-o-ween today, here are 14 facts about our sweet Emma!
1.  Emma is a peacemaker.
Emma hates contention with every part of who she is and tries very hard to seek for peaceful solutions. I have been humbled by her many times.

2.  Emma is passionate about her pursuits.
When Emma decides she enjoys something, she goes at it 110%.    Her most recent pursuits include music, swimming, reading, writing, and weaving.

3.  Emma loves, loves, loves music...
and has since she was a baby.  She loves to listen to it, loves to play it, and loves to sing it.   She practices for hours a day and is the only one of my kids who we've had to tell to STOP practicing her music so much, because someone is sleeping, or on the phone, etc.

4. Emma is self-driven and a very hard worker.
In other words she is the perfect person to homeschool.    She uses her time very well and loves that homeschooling  provides her more time to devote to some of her other pursuits.

5.  Emma had bright red hair until she was about 4-years-old.
When she was born, she completed her trio of kids with all different colors of hair.  It was quite a sight to see -- Spencer with his dark hair, Cami with blond, and Emma with her red hair.   It's not that red anymore, but I still delight in the fact when the sun catches her hair just right you can still see the red in it a bit!

6. Emma likes doing things her own way!
Whether it be school, music, or whatever….she likes to figure out her own way to do things.

7. Emma is full of energy. 
From the time she was a tiny baby, she was in constant motion.   Her energy level is a few steps beyond my own and she amazes me with the amount she can accomplish in a day.

8.  Emma is our family's only morning person.
Every single one of the rest of our family are at least mild night-owls, getting more done in the evenings and needing to wake up somewhat slowly.   Emma, however, wakes up early every day, ready to start the day.

9.  Emma is a baker extraordinaire (and doesn't usually use recipes).
Her specialties are making breakfasts and treats.  While I consider myself to be a somewhat simple baker, she is not intimidated at all by recipes that have weird ingredients or long instructions.  However, for most things she makes, she no longer uses a recipe and if she does use a recipe, only rarely measures the ingredients.   Today she popped out of bed and made her own birthday breakfast, and is now making homemade candy corn, twix bars, peppermint patties, and gummy worms for tonight.

10.  Emma wants soup in a pumpkin for her birthday dinner.
I made one a few years ago and she really liked how festive it was, so decided she wanted it for her birthday dinner.  I'm willing to give it a try this evening, but I'm a little nervous that an entire pumpkin won't fit into our new oven!

11. Emma's room is never messy unless someone else leaves their stuff lying around. 
 Emma was such a mess-maker as a child that we teasingly said she kicked up a cloud of dust behind her when she walked, but now she's the only one in our whole family (parents included) that can consistently keep her room clean.  She's had her own room now for 1-1/2 years and it's  a fact that still shocks us!   :)

12.  Emma is busting at the seams with excitement about attending her first church dance next week.
When I say busting, I mean busting.  She talks about it almost every day and has been  debating outfit choices with Cami for weeks.   She is especially excited that her best friend, Elena turns 14 the week after her, so they can go to their first dance together!

13.  Emma is a gifted writer.
She is an avid journal keeper (like I was) and is not afraid of writing (like some of my other children).  She definitely has a gift with words and I enjoy reading her work.

14. Emma rarely watches tv, but when she does it's invariably a cooking show.
And even better than watching a cooking show, she absolutely loves to recreate the shows for a family activity.   For her, what could be better than engaging  the whole family in cooking with crazy ingredients or while performing difficult feats?

Happy 14th birthday, Emma! 
We love you!    

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Random Weirdness

For the second time in my life I was injured by an iron that was not plugged in or even hot.  

The first time was when I was a teenager and it fell out of the top of a closet when I was reaching for something.   It smacked me in the forehead and gave me a blasting headache for the rest of the day.  This time it was my toe.   Someone had left it on the floor and I jammed my pinkie toe into it big time.  My toe is swollen and bruised, but thankfully does not seem broken.   In the meantime I am contemplating embracing wrinkledness and eschewing ironing duties forevermore.   


Our Christmas pajamas are ordered and already in the house.   

Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm not normally a shop-for-Christmas-in-October kind of girl, so this is monumental.   Don't ask me how or why I've done this out-of-character early preparation.   Maybe it's just all this "extra" time I have now that I'm not on Facebook and Instagram anymore…


We went on a long walk the other day and saw an owl getting chased by a bluejay.

It was broad daylight and a very strange, albeit cool sight to see.  Even being pretty avid birdwatchers, we have only seen owls in the wild a couple of times and it made the long walk well worth it.


Seeing my Young Women's faces photoshopped into old yearbook photos. 

My 1st counselor made this poster for an activity last week (YW in Excellence) and it totally cracks me up every time I see it.   The last 4 pics are leaders' actual yearbook photos, the rest are the faces of my young women photoshopped into old yearbook style pictures, complete with authentic hair-dos of that specific year.   Here is the website she used.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Homecoming: Part 2 (the dress)

Have I ever mentioned how hard it is to shop for or with Cami?  

I think she'd qualify as picky by anyone's standards, but for a non-shopper like me it's downright tortuous to take her on a shopping trip.   To my department store hating brain, it seems like she tries on a gazillion things, kind of likes approximately .0003% of what she tries on, and then begs me to take her to another store.  I try to be patient, but in the end always end up a tad bit grumpy and begging her to settle for something that's "good enough" so that we can go home already!     

I really have tried over the years, but I have no doubt that Cami would probably not hesitate to call me a  shopping curmudgeon.  Each year that passes,  I find myself more and more willing to relinquish my motherly shopping duties to anyone who might be willing to take them from me…whether it be friends or my sister or even Glen.   It ends being a win-win situation for both me and Cami's wardrobe. 

When Cami's formal events, like homecoming and prom have rolled around, I try to make a  concerted effort to be more engaged in the shopping process and helping her to find the perfect dress.   It feels more high-stakes because of the deadline, higher price point, and the  desire to find that ever-elusive something that is beautiful, fits right, and is somewhat modest, but I still try…really I do.   

This year she went to homecoming with Gary again.  They have been in many of the same classes all through high school and decided it would be fun to go together as friends again. 

After hours and hours of deliberating and trying friends' dresses on, Cami ended up ordering two different dresses, hoping one of them would work.    Not surprisingly, neither did and she is returning both.  

 In the end, she opted to borrow her friend Ashley's dress.    The color and style looked stunning on her and I was just thrilled that she found something that she loved.  

I liked hers best out of all the girls in her group.

Here she is with the group of seniors from her elementary school.  There were a couple of them I hadn't seen since they were in 6th grade, so it was a crazy sight to see them all grown up and graduating later this school year! 

All the girls in her group.  

Her friends Ashley and Katy came to see her off.  The three of them have been best friends for a long time and Cami was happy that they came.  

As a mother, I am happy to say that I couldn't ask for better friends for my daughter.  

It's fun to watch them laugh together and know that theirs is a friendship that will likely continue on far past their high school days.  

Matt came along with Ash and Katy as the official phone holder. 

Cami and Gary opted to skip the dance and went to dinner in Alexandria, then to Cox Farms for a haunted hayride.     

Although it was a tad sad for me to think that this will be her final high school homecoming, I am happy that it ended up being a good experience for her.  


Friday, October 24, 2014

Homecoming 2014: Part 1

Part of the homecoming festivities every year are spirit days.   The spirit days are themed days in the week leading up to their school's homecoming football game. The themes are  chosen either by the administration or by a leadership class.   Both Spence and Cami have always gone all-out for them, even borrowing clothes from friends or taking a trip to the local consignment store if they don't have the right pieces to look properly spirited. This year was no different for Cami.   Being a part of student government and it being her senior year, made her especially excited to show her school spirit!  Here are some of the crazy cuteness we've seen this week from Cami.   Be sure to come back later this weekend to see a full homecoming report…including Cami's dress and date!   

Marvel Monday
Cami dresses as a cute girly version of Captain America and gets asked to homecoming by her good friend, Gary, who randomly is also dressed as Captain America.  

Fifties Tuesday
Cami borrows Sis. James' poodle skirt, glasses, and shoes and then raids Adam's closet for a button-down white shirt….then gets to school and falls fast asleep!   

Wacky Wednesday
Cami wears Daddy's fishing shirt, unmatched socks, and realllllllllllly tall hair! 

Hippie Thursday
Cami morphs into a tree-hugging hippie and sends one of her teachers into the throes of 70's nostalgia.   Mrs. N commented to Cami that while the rest of the school was dressed up as hippies, Cami actually reminded her of her high school days in the 70's.

Class Color Friday
Cami dons the t-shirt that she helped design and dresses in black-out clothes.   Each class is wearing a different color today.  The seniors are in black, juniors in green, sophomores in yellow, and freshmen in white.  

This week she has also been hard at work designing the class float for the homecoming parade tonight, which unbeknownst to her required getting a fancy shmancy manicure.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

FHE….Ellie Style

  Ever since the kids were tiny, we've reserved one night a week--usually Sunday or Monday--for  learning the gospel and spending time together during family home evening (FHE).   We usually sing a few songs, talk a little about our week, then have a short lesson and a treat.   The lesson is not usually very long or very profound, but it is meaningful time we spend together week-after-week that brings our family closer together.

When the kids were younger, I went to great lengths to engage the kids in the lessons.  I used flannel board stories, puppets, and creative games to help make the learning more meaningful to them. As they've gotten older though, the lessons now  are more often iterations of lessons I've either heard or given to the Young Women or discussions about some topic that's been on our minds.  I guess we may have have gotten a little boring around here, because Ellie practically begged to take over the lesson yesterday.  We readily agreed. 

And believe me when I tell you, that things were a lot livelier last night than during our average family home evening.  We still had the sullen teen who kept muttering under her breath about all the homework she had to do, but the rest of the lesson was all dramatics and giggles, and I do not mean that in a bad way.

Ellie was the narrator, costume designer, and stage director for an amazing lesson about Esther.  
She had learned about Esther during Primary on Sunday and was so excited to share what she learned with the rest of us.  It was one of the most memorable FHE lessons we've had in a long time and made me grateful for inspired teachers who so lovingly prepare lessons for my kids each week and also for inspired leaders who encourage us to take time out of our busy schedules to devote to our families.  


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Big 1-2!

In honor of Adam's 12th birthday yesterday, here are 12 random facts about him:

His birthday cake…a mint chocolate ice cream cake made by Emma

1.  His favorite dinner is lasagna and breadsticks
He tends to love any pasta dish as well, but usually makes some kind of sandwich when it's his turn to make dinner.   In fact, he makes himself a fancy panini almost every day for lunch, which includes pesto, fresh avocado, cucumber, and lunchmeat.

2.    His favorite treat is apple pie
 …and his favorite breakfast is apple walnut pancakes.  For his birthday he requested chocolate mint ice cream cake, which Emma was more than happy to make for him.  She tried the tutorial on my food blog for buttercream transfers and ended up making it  gorgeous as well as delicious.   Lucky for him, apple pie season is coming up and he will get some at least a few times over the next couple of months.

3.   Has a scientific mind and loves to figure out how and why things work       
I can count on Adam to be right by my side whenever we have something that needs assembling or fixing.   In fact, when Glen was out-of-town recently, he just took over assembling the fire pit we had recently purchased.

4.   He is still our resident bird expert  
His second grade teacher lit a fire in him to love and appreciate the beauty of birds.   Although our entire family now enjoys birdwatching as well, he still is by far the best at identifying the different varieties of birds.  

5.  Wears shorts and t-shirts almost exclusively…no matter the season
I can get him to wear a jacket at least in the winter, but even when temps dipped into the teens last winter, he still wore his shorts and t-shirts every day.   The only time he'll wear long pants willingly is to go to church and on campouts.

6.  His favorite outfits are monochromatic (i.e. an orange shirt with orange shorts)
He doesn't do it as much as he used to, but for several months earlier this year, he would almost invariably wear green on green, navy  on navy, orange on orange, and black on black.

7.   Really enjoys fishing
Adam has really taken to fishing this past year.   He won a fishing derby earlier this year and really enjoyed all the practice fishing he got to do with his daddy in preparation for it.  Glen wanted to make sure I also mentioned the awesome rainbow trout Adam caught in Utah.

8.   Doesn't like changes in routine
Ever since he was a baby, he's been our slow-to-warm-up kid who needs extra time to adjust to changes in our routine.   The beginning of a new school year is always particularly a challenging time for him and this year is no different.

9.   He is the family rule enforcer
Whether we are about to cheat on a diet or someone is trying to skip out on their daily chores, we can count on Adam to point it out and keep us on our toes.

10. Has always needed less sleep than the average kid his age
BUT  he also is by far the grumpiest and most nonfunctional of my kids when he doesn't get his required amount of sleep.   We all pay dearly for his lack of sleep at scout campouts and late nights with friends.  

11. Loves to program our Lego robot to do silly and pointless tasks --like spin in a circle for 3 minutes or go up and down the hallway over and over again.   He actually is quite good at programming it to do functional tasks (functional for a toy at least) as well, but as per his scientific mind, his favorite way to use it is to experiment with it to see what exactly it is capable of doing.

12.   Enjoys reading the "39 Clues" book series
…and the "Harry Potter" series, the "How to Train Your Dragon "series, and the "Percy Jackson" books!

We love our Adam boy!   Happy birthday to you!  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Homeschool Fun

Here's a glimpse of some of the fun we've been having in our homeschool this year...

Afternoon rounds of board games  
With all of their schoolwork done by 1:00pm most days, the kids still have 3+ hours to occupy themselves before the evening activities kick into gear.  We don't allow any tv or computer games on weekdays, so they read, write stories, tweak their Lego robot, play outside, play board games, cook, and in general find creative ways to occupy their time! 

A magic show
The other day Ellie and Adam put together a very fun magic show…complete with costumes, "stage" and curtains, card tricks, and disappearing objects!  I love how the kids have a strong bond of friendship with one another and genuinely enjoy spending time together.  

Fun Fridays 
This year we are trying to work really hard during the week, so that we can have more free time on Fridays.   Sometimes we still have to play a little catch-up on our work, but usually we try to go somewhere and do something fun!  A couple of Fridays ago, we met friends at the park!

Who says recess can't be fun when you're in middle school?   

Field trips 
Another one of our "Fun Friday" ideas for this school year was to go on more field trips.  Last week we met friends and learned all about honeybees!   It was actually pretty fascinating.  

Theater "class"  
A couple of my kids have been interested in participating in theater, but were intimidated by trying out without having any previous experience.   Luckily a couple of our homeschooled friends this year also enjoy acting in plays, so we've been doing little mini-productions.  

The kids are having a great time with it and really gaining confidence. 

It's especially something that Ellie and Emma enjoy.  

Out-of-town trips
In addition to Friday field trips, being homeschooled makes it much easier to go on out-of-town trips too!   We went to Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown last month.  I figure that the three days we spent there counted for at least a month of learning history from books!   

Tools made from bone

An old-fashioned needle (made from bone)

Throw the corn through the hoop

Making bread from scratch, which wasn't actually that novel an experience for my kids, since we make homemade bread at least once a week.

A Native American dugout canoe 

Adam tanning a hide and  a replica of one of the ships.

I'm actually a lot more organized with homeschooling this year than last year, which has proven to be both a blessing and a curse for us.  On the one hand, it's a relief to know that we're covering all of our bases by sticking with the plan each week.  On the other hand, one of my children isn't too fond of "sticking with the plan" day-after-day and week-after-week and lets me know that fact loud and clear.   Thankfully, each week has gotten a little better than the last, so hopefully we'll all be in a good place soon enough!  


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