Jun 8, 2014

The end of an era

Lately I have been thinking about the history I am keeping of and for my family. Taking pictures and writing about my kids has been one of my priorities as a mother. I treasure the photos and the stories I have compiled over the years. Scrapbooks, photo albums, seven years of family newsletters, and six years of blog books fill a book case downstairs. Those books are the first material possessions I would try to rescue if a fire broke out in my home.

My life has transformed in the last year. I don't have the luxury of free time. I am always behind, overwhelmed, and scattered. I am pulled in a hundred directions. When Kate was born I was so determined that I wouldn't let my blogging passion go as my life got busier, but the reality is that new priorities have surfaced. I don't like sitting at the computer. I feel duty-bound, rather than inspired, to blog. What was once a joy has become a chore. 

Social media has also changed. When I started blogging, it was a very social, interactive activity. I loved getting feedback from friends and family about my life experiences. I reveled in the validation I received after posting crazy stories and pictures. I'm choosing not to take it personally that my blog doesn't get much traffic anymore, and that comments are few and far between.  My once-fulfilling pastime has fizzled, and that's OK.

And so I retire as a blogger. I am a little sad about it (especially because of the sweet things people have said to me since I casually mentioned my plan to stop blogging), but I am also glad to give myself permission to walk away from something that isn't working anymore. Moving on and changing direction is just part of life.

Thank you to the family and friends, near and far, who have shared my little corner of the world for the last six years.  I love you!

Jun 6, 2014


Our family celebrated at three graduation ceremonies this year. Lexi graduated from preschool; Gavin from kindergarten; and Tyler from elementary school. That's a lot of pomp and circumstance for children simply moving from one grade to another, but I was glad for the chance to celebrate the milestones and the children achieving them!

Lexi was first. Her graduation ceremony was May 21, and it was held in our church building since all the kids are LDS and the number of attendees was more than could fit in Ms. Rachel's preschool space. Lexi was adorable in her little mortarboard and received her diploma without her usual shyness. I'm always happy when she can overcome her fear of being in front of people and enjoy what is happening around her. She will miss her little classmates but will probably continue to see a few of them.

Tyler's 5th grade "continuation" ceremony was on June 2, the night before the last day of school. Sadly, Garry was out of town for work so he missed Tyler's and Gavin's graduations. The ceremony was simplified since last year, but Tyler still thought it was really special. He has had five wonderful years at Academy Endeavour, and we are so grateful for his good experiences there! After Continuation, I took Tyler to Cheddar's for dinner (he ordered shrimp!) and gave our gift to him: a book signed by all of Tyler's teachers. He teared up a little as he read the messages. What a tender soul. We plan to have the book signed by all of his teachers as he gets older, so hopefully it will be a treasured keepsake when he graduates from high school. We are doing this for each of our kids.

Gavin graduated on the last day of school. His dimples just slay me. Isn't he the cutest?!?  Gavin has had a great year full of so much learning and growth. He absolutely loves school and has done very well. It has been fun to see his reading and writing improve so much, and to see his horizons expand as he has been exposed to art and technology and culture and higher-level thinking. Gavin is a big almost-first-grader now!

During his graduation ceremony, each student read a "When I Grow Up" page he or she had written. Gavin's was great! The school also provided a free picture of Gavin in a graduation cap. So cute.

Zach didn't have a ceremony for finishing sixth grade, but it's a milestone nonetheless. We have all survived our first year of middle school! I, for one, hope that 7th grade is smoother! But we ended on a high note: Zach got all A's except one B+. Go Zach! He came home on the last day as a human yearbook. I rolled my eyes...

Here's a photo of all of the kids on their first and last days of the 2013-2014 school year. Gavin and Zach were grumpy...I guess that's just real life! So much has changed, and yet so much has remained the same.

All of our school-aged children have been blessed with wonderful teachers this year. I have finally arrived at being glad that school is over for a while. I look forward to a more relaxed schedule and more free time. Ask me again in a few weeks, though...I might be making a paper chain for August 18th.

May 28, 2014

Mother's Day

I have been waiting to publish this post until I captured a picture of my children all together. Clearly this was a monumental feat, as Mother's Day was 2.5 weeks ago. 

I confess that I have not been a fan of Mother's Day for a while. Like my birthday, this holiday is a day of reflection for me. Another year has passed. What have I done? How have I improved? What is going well? What is not going well? I seem to get stuck on the first question and the last, focusing on the ways that I fall short, particularly as a mother. The list is lengthy. So this year, instead of having a bad attitude about not being the mother I want to be, I decided to make Mother's Day like my birthday, and make sure my kids were glad, for one day, that I am their mother.

So I bought each child a journal that I intend to write in. I'm thinking of letters on their birthdays, at milestone events, or when I think they might need a boost. I want them to know that they are loved. Even if they don't feel that right now, eventually they will. That little project made me feel better and I thoroughly enjoyed "my" day when I shifted the focus elsewhere.

On Mother's Day I spent some time with the kids, cleaned up the kitchen (hopelessly messy with the remnants of Tyler's "business" assignment for school), and let Garry sleep in. I taught sharing time. Garry fixed a fantastic meal for dinner (it's not often that a new recipe is a hit around here). The kids gave me a necklace and a set of earrings and, ironically, a journal where they all wrote notes to me instead of giving me cards. I love it!! What fun traditions we are starting!

I also celebrated Mother's Day with Gavin and Lexi at school. They both had little programs for the moms, as well as lunch! At Lexi's school, the teacher provided the food, and at Gavin's, I brought a picnic that we enjoyed together.  Both kids gave me sweet treasures, along with the memories of being with them at school.

Lexi's class and art work:

Gavin's class and art work:

I love my kids and sure hope that they know it!

May 23, 2014

The entreprenuer

This year Tyler's school required two significant end-of-year projects for the fifth graders: a science fair project and a legitimate business endeavor.

Tyler dove right into his science project, which turned out to be a survey: What color of soda do people like best? He colored several bottles of 7-up, poured the drink into glasses, and, after his Cub Scout Pack Meeting in April, surveyed children and adults at the church. Among the 27 participants, purple soda was most popular with the adults, while orange was most popular with the children. Some people noticed that all of the soda tasted the same, while others did not. It was cool to see the way color tricks the mind. I think it would have been interesting to ask people to identify the flavors of the different-colored drinks, but that would have been another project entirely. Tyler displayed his project in class one day. Garry and I visited. There wasn't a science fair with places and prizes--just a simple walk-through in the classroom. Tyler did a great job and did nearly all of the work himself. 

Before the science fair was finished, the next big project began. All of the students had to run a business. They had to write a business plan, take out a $6.00 loan from parents, buy supplies, hire employees, and sell goods or services. After collecting money and deducting expenses, profits would go to the school. Tyler was initially VERY overwhelmed because he missed an entire week of school due to a nasty strain of croup, and that was the week when the other fifth graders were preparing their businesses. Eventually he re-grouped and decided to launch a bakery called Tyler's Tongue-Tingling Tasties. Because his product was food, he couldn't plan to sell any at school (allergy restrictions), so I posted an "ad" on Facebook and through the ward email list, and in no time Tyler had eager customers. Tyler did all of the baking. Mom and Dad supervised, helping where needed.

    (One batch failed....)

Making crescent rolls on one Saturday and cupcakes the following Wednesday was a monumental effort, but he finished with a profit of $88.00. He learned a lot about time and financial investments, and also what baking supplies cost.

He also learned how to make a pretty great crescent roll and delicious buttercream frosting! Some of his positive feedback: "Those rolls were amazing!"  "I wish I had ordered more!"  "Are you sure your mom didn't make these?" "Best cupcakes ever!" "Can I order some more on the sly?" I think all of us are glad, however, that for now, Tyler has retired from the bakery business.

When I asked Tyler how he felt about his business experience, he said, "I liked the experience selling because I had a lot of fun, even though I messed up several times. I especially liked the crescent rolls, even though they weren't exactly like I wanted them to be, they tasted very good. I liked the cupcakes because a lot of people bought them. I was surprised because cupcakes...are just cupcakes! It was awesome because I got hired at the last minute on Selling Day (at school, where kids with non-food items could sell their wares to other students). I liked that I could do something during the Selling Day. It was fun."

Yay Tyler!

May 22, 2014

Finally five!

Lexi Lou turned five on May 16th. What a cutie! She counted down the days for three months (since Tyler's birthday) and was amazingly happy when her birthday finally came. Being five is very exciting!

We started off the day, per tradition, with presents. She couldn't have been more thrilled with her simple gifts. She got lots of summer clothes (we have discovered the wonders of Goodwill and the used kids' clothing store...$20.00 goes a long way!), which she modeled for us. The other gift from Garry and me was curtains for her bunk bed. They turn her lower bunk into a fort. She got church and play dresses and sandals from Granny and Gramps, and an outdoor picnic table and some crafty things from Grandma and Grandpa.

Lexi went to school on her birthday, where the class had a little party, complete with the pink-stuffed Oreos she took as her birthday treat. She helped me finish the cake pops, which she chose in lieu of a cake, that I had started the day before.

Because the Fathers and Sons camp-out was that evening, we celebrated the night before with dinner (her choice was homemade pizza, with her favorite sugar snap peas) and treats. When the boys were gone, the girls enjoyed a bubble bath, a movie in my bed, and painting fingernails.

This week Lexi had her final dance performance with Miss Amy's class. The girls performed at a nearby rest home, much to the delight of the residents. Lexi is fun to watch! I need to find a new place for her to dance, as Miss Amy isn't teaching anymore (sad face).

I "interviewed" Lexi on camera today while we sat waiting for the boys after school. She was incredibly wiggly and distracted...I guess it has been a long day!  She made me laugh...the interview captures her cute personality, voice, and mannerisms perfectly, even if she was being a little crazy.

Some things I want to remember about Lexi at age five:

She loves/prefers to fix her own hair (usually "flat," which is code for "not styled or even brushed") and paint her own nails, wears skirts almost exclusively, loves to color and paint, BFFs are Lucy and Kaela, plays "family" (it was called "house" when I was little) quite often, can ride a two-wheeled bike but still prefers her scooter, enjoys picnics and parks and long walks/runs with me, sometimes gets in my bed at night, is a very expressive dancer and speaker, and is generally quite shy in public.

At her check-up this week, Lexi weighed 36.3 pounds (25%) and was 41.8 inches (36%). She's still a teeny little miss, but following her usual curve and developing normally. She is super excited to be grown-up enough for kindergarten in three months! I think she's ready, and I look forward to seeing her grow.

pass it on!

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