Friday, February 29, 2008

Backyard Tour

Come take a tour of our new backyard!



View from the Living Room window. I love to look out and see something green instead of just a brick wall.

The playground--our landscaper put this together--what a job! The kids seem to really like the tire swing. It spins incredibly fast, especially if you have two people on it.

The grass and trees as seen from the LR window. This is in the center of the yard. I really love the triple queen palms (the tall ones). There are some beautiful plants in this bed, including blue hibiscus, rosemary, and lantana.

The trampoline. It is by far the least attractive and most popular part of the backyard. The ground cover is decomposed granite, a popular material here in the desert (at this point it looks and feels like dirt). We certainly didn't want to pay for grass over here because it would be impossible to keep alive. One day when we don't have the trampoline anymore I'd like to build a little terrazzo area and put a patio table and umbrella there. Or, as my landscaper suggested, a hot tub. (Not likely.)

Mexican palm.

Sago palm.

Cape Honeysuckle. We also have jasmine, which I am looking forward to enjoying. I can't seem to get anything done inside these days. I just love to jump with the kids and play around and enjoy being outside in this gorgeous spring weather.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Just the usual

Well, I haven't written for a week, have I? Last night we had the Laurels come over and make cookies and cheesecake pies. I have the best group of 16-18 year old girls. They are so pleasant and nice to each other. That is not the case with the younger group, the 12-13 year olds. I am slated to do some knuckle-whacking over there.

Guess what. Our backyard is finished and IT IS AWESOME. I love it so much. We have the grass and trees, a playground area, and a giant trampoline that kinda ruins the whole asthetic appeal but is SO MUCH FUN. I played outside all morning with the kids. I will post pics soon.

This weekend Tyce is going on the 11-year-old Scout campout with Bryce and I think they are both pretty excited.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mary's Baptism

The week before her big day, we had a lesson on baptism for Family Home Evening. Mary Rachel, who always knows the right answers and frequently blows her teachers and the bishopric away with her knowledge, was stressing out. Bryce pushed her buttons (sorry, honey, but you did) and by the end of the lesson she was crying, "I don't know if I want to get baptized! I don't want to be responsible for being good all the time!"

It was like she was thinking, "I want to delay my fresh start for as long as possible because after that, it'll all be downhill."

With some explaning and a lot of hugs, we explained that taking the sacrament each week, having the gift of the Holy Ghost, and repentance are ways she can honor her baptismal covenant and remain clean. This seemed to reset her mind at ease and all was well again.

That Saturday Bryce and Mare went to the church to get their baptismal clothes. M. said they looked like they were wearing space suits(!). After a prayer, some music, and a talk on the ordinance, our family filed out of the chapel and into the baptismal font area. I took M. through the restroom and out the special doors that led to the font, where Bryce as waiting for her in the water. I kept the door open a peep so I could watch; Bryce said the words of the prayer, and with one arm on M.'s back and one on her arm, he lowered her into the water and back up. She did it!

She climbed the steps back into the restroom, where I was waiting for her with a towel and dry clothes. I helped her into her new white dress, and gave her a butterfly necklace. I told her that she was like a butterfly, changed into something different and even more beautiful. I gave her a hug and she looked so sweet and happy.

In the Relief Society room Tyce and I sang a duet of "Beautiful Savior" accompanied by Rebecca Shapiro. Sister Small, the Primary President gave a short presentation, and then Bryce confirmed Mary a member the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and invited her to receive the Holy Ghost.

Bro. Callister welcomed our girl as the newest member of the Church and shared some thoughts on baptism and bore testimony of the Savior.

After a closing song and prayer, she got lots of hugs and compliments from grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Tyce's friend Dalton even came, so it was a missionary opportunity for him. (Besides, they knew they'd be playing at our house after!) Then we went back home for pictures and food.

These are Mary's account, as written in her new journal (which she handed me to read):

Feduary 16 2008 Saterday

To day i'm geting bathtisede! I'm very exsited! All our relitivs are coming. I was very nervis at first but when I stept into the warm water I felt calm and relaxst. I love my famly. After my bathtisem we had a huge lunch.

Thank you so much to friends, and especially our wonderful family, who traveled to spend this special day with our special girl.

Check out that angelic glow!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

All day long the little boys looked forward to attending Mary's Valentine's Day party at school. Finally the time came to go to the school AND get out of the car, which was the question they kept asking ("We're going to get out of the car at the school . . . right?"). The party was great, filled with healthy food. But then the kids exchanged cards and got a ton of sugar to go with them! C & H were lucky that one little girl didn't care for conversation hearts and shared hers with them. One of the kids declared, "This is the best Valentine's Day ever!!!" I thought that was cute, that in all the living a 2nd grader has done, this is the best V-Day so far.

Tyce stayed home from school today so I think his day was a bit boring, filled with homework basically. He has meds for a sinus infection now but they hadn't started working this morning.

Later I made heart-shaped breadsticks with marinara dipping sauce for dinner. I got out the red tablecloth and the kids got excited and begged for dinner by candlelight. So that's what we had--a family dinner by candlelight. It was fun.

I'm off to the airport to pick up DBcm.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Arrrrrgh, Matey!

Yesterday the little boys and I were at Lowe's. Outside the store there is a guy who has a hot dog cart set up, and he was writing the day's specials on a his white board. As we passed him, Cameron noticed that the vendor had an eye patch. This seemed to delight Cam, and he cheerily shouted, "Hello, Pirate!"

A little more

Yesterday we had the carpets cleaned, which meant that I had to fabricate stuff to do out of the house all day long. LOL First we went to Lowe's (see above) and then to the park, which is known by the twins as "The Elementary School Park". Harrison suprised (and scared) me by going down the fireman pole repeatedly. Luckily he practiced while I was on the swings with Cam. The first few times I'd seen him attempt that feat I was up on the playground too, and that view from the top made my knees weak with the thought of him crashing from a great height. Once I saw that he was confident (and not lying in a heap) I stopped worrying.

We did a few more errands, and the boys took a nap in the car. I anticipated this and bought a "House Beautiful" magazine on one of our stops. I parked the car in the shade at Deseret Book and read, which may have been my favorite part of the day (!).

Then we went to DB, picked up M., and took her to her piano lesson. (Have I mentioned that she started piano lessons last month?) We played with the Shapiros for a while and then headed to a different park (Cinnamon Ridge) with all four kids. Poor Tyce is sick, and even though he went to school yesterday he felt terrible. I talked to our former neighbor Drake, and hardly recognized him now that he's in 8th grade. I used to take him to school when he was in elementary school. (Once in middle school I harldy saw him except zipping by on a skateboard occasionally.) And there he was, with one of my Young Women! I wanted to say, "Hey stay away from each other! You both have problems and you're just going to make trouble!" but I didn't.

After that we went to McDonalds for dinner, just so the kids could keep running around. I went through the drive-through and then took our stuff inside. Mary was lucky enough to have two friends there (sisters). Tyce did a little homework, played a video game, but felt horrible. The twins had a great time playing until . . . Harrison took off his pants/underwear and peed in the play tunnel. I. Wanted. To. Die. There was a mother there who freaked out and dragged her son out of there, which maybe I would have done too, but as it was I was just shouting "Put your pants back on!" which H. scurried away laughing. And what does Cameron do????? He takes his pants off too but doesn't pee (that I know of). So here are two boys, naked from the waist down, running around these tunnels trying to avoid capture by Mary (who has a history of making things worse), while Tyce crawls up with paper towels to clean up the mess.

I gathered my things without making eye contact with anyone. When the boys made it down the slide I took one, Tyce took the other, and I vowed to never take those naughty boys out in public again.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Never Whisperer

Cameron has not mastered the art of whispering. He was super loud at church today.

Me: Cam, do you want me to tell you a story about Jesus during the sacrament?

Cam: YES.

Me: Okay, you have to be really quiet and listen, okay?

Cam: OKAY!

Me: Shhh. This is the story of when Jesus was born . . . [story] . . . and when the shepherds looked up in the sky, what did they see?

Cam: A BIRD!

Me: No, they saw a new star. Remember?


Me: That's right.

Cam: {Fake cough cough cough}

Me: Cameron, don't fake cough, okay? You're spreading germs. Let's be really quiet so we can think about Jesus.


Me: Shhh. People want to think about Jesus. If you're quiet, you can think about Jesus too.

Cam: {Cough cough cough}

Me: {Hand to ear} Listen . . . What do you hear?


Friday, February 8, 2008

How it went

I'm sure you're all *dying* to know how New Beginnings went. So I will tell you. After all our prep work that day and the weeks before, it turned out awesome!

The skit was great, the song was great, and the talks were great. Were there things I'd do differently next time? Absolutely. It certainly wasn't perfect. But overall it turned out really well. For being in YW a month I think we did a pretty good job.

And . . . we have Girls Camp squared away. Phew! (We're going to a camground near San Clemente, CA, which is a mile and a half from the San Onofre beach. Apparently--per Bryce--that beach is THE spot for surfing. So bringing 15 boy-crazy girls there *might* be a bit of a bad idea . . . but we will see.)

That's all for now. Ran errands this morning and the boys fell asleep in the car. So cute.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Thought

I came across this beautiful ideal and hope to make it my own.

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury; and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard; think quietly, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common.

This is to be my symphony.

--Willian Ellery Channing

Friday, February 1, 2008

Eight things

These are some things that have been on my mind lately.

1. Family. Many are coming to visit in 2 weeks for M.'s baptism. I'm really excited about that because I have a cool family and I am proud of our daughter. Boy do I have a lot to get ready. I really want all my family to stay here at my house, so if you're staying here and you're reading this, don't mistake my stress for anxiety. Anyway. That sounded bossy. I HOPE to have the backyard done by then, because wouldn't it be nice to have a place for all the kids to play?

2. Death. There's nothing like a premature passing to remind you that life is a gift and that there's no guaranteed time line. Thankfully all the deaths we've heard about lately aren't people in our immediate circle, but the cumulative effect of them all (there are a few others I haven't mentioned here) is sobering. Especially hard is to see or hear about the people suffering from their loss, whether it's a child or a great-grandfather. I am trying to shore up my reserve of courage and faith so that if/when I am ever called to bear that burden--and we all will sometime, which is hard to comprehend when everything is going so well today--I won't have to wonder what I believe.

3. Waste. Brooklyn's post reminded me about consumption and waste. I think the best way to teach is by example, but her words got me thinking.

4. Lost. Did you watch the season premiere? Guess what. We missed about 20 minutes in the middle. I could explain the technical glitch in the DVR recording, but I won't, because who really cares? LOL I am confused . . . what is happening with these flash-forwards? Why was Jack bearded and boozed-up in the first flash-forward (last season) and when visiting Hurley, clean-shaven and professional? Who are the "Oceanic 6" . . . and why are there only 6? Who was that scary black dude in the mental institution? What was the mistake that Hurley made going with Locke? What secret did Jack make sure Hurley wouldn't tell?

Bryce said, "You still like this show, right . . . because if you don't I'm not going to watch it. I'm just in it for you." That's right, honey . . . you weren't glued to the set and freaking out about missing that middle part. j/k

5. Youth. I am so glad I made it to adulthood without doing anything really bad that shut out opportunity for growth--including addiction, dropping out of school, bad grades, terrible friends, etc. I must have had a shield around me because I never wanted to do any of those things. I guess there's nothing I can say or do to *make* my children or the Young Women stay on the right path but I feel a lot of obligation to sure try. I want nothing more in this world than for my children to choose the things that will make them happy.

6. Girls Camp. I'm trying not to get huffy about the difference in budget between my organization and the Scouts. The Camp director found a really cool 3-day river rafting trip which we were totally into for the girls . . . until we did the math and concluded that even with the budget and a hefty family contribution we'd need a killer fundraiser to that netted $1000 to make the fee for 20 girls. Now you might be thinking that this was a really expensive excursion, when it's really that we have a really small budget. The thing that ruffled my feathers--but I'm trying to smooth them back into place and not dwell on it--is that the Scouts want to do the same trip. And they have the money.

We are going to have a fabulous camp regardless--I have the best director and assistant in the whole ward. See me having a good attitude?

7. New Beginnings. That is a special program for all the YW and their parents to kick off the year right. It is THIS WEDNESDAY. Holy shamoly. I feel like we basically have it under control. The theme of the evening is based in the Mutual theme for the year, which is "Be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works." The motif is a lighthouse. We have a musical number that some of the girls are singing, and a skit written and directed by my lovely 2nd counselor. I am giving a talk, of course. I just hope everything goes off without a hitch. I truly believe that everything will be fine but there are a lot of last-minute details to attend to, set up, and supervise. I will be glad when we have that (wonderful, inspiring, excellent) program over with. LOL

8. Mix and Match Day. Didn't you know your're supposed to wear crazy clothes today? Today was Mix and Match Day at Mary's school. Our girl took that to heart. Her outfit included purple capris, patterned shirt, swimsuit over all that, underwear over the swim suit, a baseball tie around her neck, two different shoes and her hair done so that there was one puff-puff down, one puff-puff up, and a tiny bun on top of her head. All morning I've been thinking about her confidence. There's no way I would have done that when I was her age. Some funky socks that didn't go with my outfit--sure. But underwear over a swimsuit? Never. She is a funny girl.

So those are my 8 things on a Friday.