Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Losing Sleep

I am not one to lose sleep worrying over things. I can count on one hand the number of times worrying has kept me up at night. Lest you think I am heartless--good solid, deep sleep is a Cannon family trademark. I come by it honestly. But last night was one of those nights.

Clark and his cousin, Andrew, have been planning an all day fishing trip with their Grandpa Cannon for today. As of last night, the forecast wasn't good. Rain, snow in the mountains, wind, cold temperatures. I tried to persuade them to change it to another day, but it's hard for 10-and 11-year-old boys to postpone a fishing trip with Grandpa. They were going forward with the plan. We broke out the winter clothes and packed a thermos of hot chocolate.

During the night last night the storm rolled in. And I started to toss and turn. It rained (poured), the wind blew, there was thunder and lightning. And I worried.

By the time I got up this morning, Abe had already seen Clark off at 6 am. They were headed up to Strawberry Reservoir. It's still raining down here. I am very anxious to hear from them.
Finally around lunch time I try to call, and lo and behold! There is cell phone reception!!! Hooray! I take my worrying down a notch.

As of my last "check up" phone call the boys and Grandpa were warming up and filling up at Chuck-A-Rama. They will be home soon. I am glad. I missed that boy.

He is ten and so very grown up and responsible. If I was lost in any kind of wilderness, Clark is who I'd choose to have with me. I think he'd find us food and build us shelter and protect me from wild animals. Even so, he is my son and it hurts my heart to think of him freezing and in any possible danger.

Of course, freezing, danger and adventure are what life is all about for Clark. I'm sure he'll come home with glowing reports and I'll feel so ridiculous for having had a moment's concern. What a lucky boy to have such a Grandpa. Thanks, Dad. I love you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The person everyone HATES to see

Dentists. I'm sure most of them are very nice, but I loathe going to the dentist. Dare I say: Nobody ever wants to go see them. Next to politicians they must be the most hated men (or women) in America.

That's not entirely true. My children L-O-V-E to go visit the dentist, but that's because they get to wear sunglasses, watch movies on the ceiling, get a goody bag with dinosaur-flossers and a new toothbrush, and they leave with a balloon shaped into anything they fancy.
Pediatric dentistry has come a long way, baby.

But you see, my children have never had any serious dental work done. Bethany did get a tooth pulled once, but it was fairly non-traumatic and it did involve a very exciting little plastic treasure box which made it all worth it. Nope-- no cavities, no pre-orthodontic work. They have my Ginormous mouth with plenty of room for all their teethies and Abe's Enamel of Steel so they have no tooth decay. They don't know what it's really like.

I do not love the dentist.

For many years Abe and I have gone to a dentist about 20 minutes away from our house-- not conveniently located. We called him "Dr. Jacko" (not his real name) because he enjoyed scraping our teeth and gums way too much. It was horrific and it took days to recover from a routine cleaning. But I was cavity free for visit upon visit. I couldn't take it anymore (plus we didn't have dental insurance for a little while) and we stopped going to see Dr. Jacko.

Two years later:
Shoot. I guess it's time to go to the dentist again. I found one closer to home and made an appointment.

"WHAT??? I have SIX cavities??? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Today I had my last two filled. As as laid in my chair with that celestial fluorescent light shining down on me I thought about all the things I loathe about going to the dentist. Allow me to share.

1. Why do all the dental hygienists try to talk pop culture with me? Do I look like I care about Patrick Swayze? About how cute some Hollywood couple's baby is? Or how great the Transformers movies were? Not to mention I have a huge chunk of plastic called a bite block in my mouth-- so how would I even answer back. Sometimes silence is the best choice.

2. Novocaine. I am grateful for modern medicine and it is totally worth a shot in your gums to avoid the pain of the dentists drill. BUT. For whatever reason I am partially immune to the effects of Novocaine. When I went in two weeks ago for the first rounds of fillings on the top and bottom of the left side it took 5 shots. Today it took 3 shots just for the bottom to numb me up. The drilling would start after the first shot and then be put on hold for another shot to take effect. Oh, and similar to when I've had epidurals, but to a lesser extent, I could feel my blood pressure dramatically drop after the shots. I thought I was going to pass out and wondered if I should yell for the hygienist. The dentist said it wasn't common but it could happen. Well, it did.

3. I have no idea what my dentist actually looks like. Whenever I see him he is wearing a mask and leaning 10 inches from my face, but it's WAY too awkward to actually look at his eyes. I couldn't even tell you what color his eyes are. Wouldn't it be funny to try to keep eye contact the whole time. What would he say?
But no, I try to find a smudge on the fluorescent light to focus on and try to think about all the reasons I hate the dentist.

4. In addition to passing out new toothbrushes, I think they should give out complimentary lip balm. Go ahead and put an advertising label on it with your phone number. But my lips always get super chapped at the dentist from being held open by the bite block and from the nasty polishing stuff they use.

5. The injustice of it all.
I brush my teeth RELIGIOUSLY! Abe-- well, I won't go into details, but when we got married I had to give him some pointers about the regularity with which one should brush one's teeth.
Yeah-- he's never had a cavity. Tell me how that is fair???

Please learn from my pain. Go for a cleaning every six months. Even if your dentist is like Dr. Jacko.
But the question of the day is: Do you know what color eyes your dentist has?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happiness Is. . .

Happiness is resting at home after the annual Primary program in Sacrament Meeting. It went very well. The children sang, the moms cried and all was as it should be.
I wasn't the presidency member in charge of writing the program or figuring the seating chart and yet I felt quite nervous. I had to keep reminding myself that I've never seen a "bad" Primary program. And I've never seen one that was any better than any other. Which means they are all good and why should ours be any different. They always come together no matter how much the leaders worry.
Happiness is watching your little man learn how to walk. FINALLY. He is by no means steady, but he has taken official step. He is 16 months, so it's time.
At least the Dr. doesn't worry about my babies "slow development" since all of them are such late walkers.

Happiness is having best girlfriends to play with and giggle hysterically.

Happiness is playing with super cute kittens.
Admittedly, Abe and I are Bob Barker's worst nightmare. We don't have our cat spayed and consequently we regularly have litters of kittens. The kids play with them for a couple of months and then we give them away. I know-- its terrible. I'm sorry if we offend you. We offend ourselves, but we just haven't done anything about it.
So the kids make all sorts of beds for the kitties and short little leashes and furniture in the doll house for them. They are very gentle with them and no kittens were hurt in the taking of this picture. This is how we homeschoolers ensure friends for our children-- children are drawn to our house (and the kitties) like a moth to the flame.
Happiness is getting to snuggle on the couch with a good friend while watching a movie.
The dress Faith is wearing is one we recently found that was my "german dirndle" I wore when I was a little girl. Its her new favorite outfit. Which I prefer to some of her other favorite outfits as of late.

This kind of picture will only be cute for another year or so. Then it will be many more years before I will be comfortable watching my little Faith snuggle on the couch with a boy! But for now--its ADORABLE!

Finally, happiness is watching a true love story with your sweetheart. Might I highly recommend A&E's Victoria and Albert. Abe and I both really enjoyed it this weekend. I'm not a super crier in movies, but this one really gets to me. Keep the tissues close by.

Action Packed!

Clark playing flag football. He loves it.
His coach is good about giving all the boys time to play and rotating them through all the different positions. Flag football is only 5 on 5. They get four downs to get from the end-zone to half field and four downs to try to get a touch down. I feel this is a very healthy and appropriate level of competition for this age group.

Elinor is enjoying soccer. She is on the "Yellow Jackets" team.
When Abe and I were kids we both played on little soccer teams named, "Red Devils". I loved the name and thought it was cool. Abe thought it was a very bad name. He was probably right. I don't think I'd want my kids being "red devils".

Abe took her to her last game and said she was more involved. Picking grass gets old I guess.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


A dear cousin of mine commented on a recent post of mine. She has two little daughters and she hopes for a large family and even considers homeschooling. She was asking for my thoughts on how to make it all work, because life seems challenging with just what she's got going on now.

I've thought on this for a few days.

I couldn't think of anything to offer by way of advice or wisdom. Life was feeling pretty out of control for me and I wanted to scream, "Stop the train-- I want to get off!"
I felt seriously under-qualified to offer advice. My thoughts were not even worth a penny.

Last night at Clark's flag football picture time, (which was conveniently two hours before game time--grr), I met up with a lady in our ward who's son is also on the team. This amazing lady has nine children and homeschools. She always seems to have her priorities in order and doesn't seem frazzled. Her children are delightful, smart, well-behaved, polite, obedient, fun-loving, all around great kids. Her oldest two are home from missions. So she's not just starting out-- she is seeing results! They are the kind I hope and pray my children will be drawn to.

And there I was, feeling frazzled, to say the least. I cried out to her, "M., tell me how have you done it? ADVISE ME!! I need help! Were there times you thought you might not make it? What are some of your secrets?"

She graciously shared, comforted me and advised me. She assured me that even if it all implodes you will get up and put it back together. It's not going to get any easier, because babies are hard, but teenagers are just a different kind of hard. She is further along the road of motherhood than I am and I was so grateful for her perspective.

So from my position, being a little further down the road than my sweet cousin, I say this: With each added responsibility, be it another baby, homeschooling, callings, work, extra activities-- there is an adjustment period. It's really hard and sometimes ugly for a little while. But then your strength and capacity increases and you are suddenly able to smoothly handle what before seemed hard.
One of my mantras is FAITH NOT FEAR! When I do what I believe Heavenly Father would have me do, I have faith that he will make me what I need to be to do it.
This is not an effort to toot my own horn, but I can feel that I am becoming more like what I should be and WANT to be. But, it is really hard sometimes. Sometimes I'm not sure which way is up. I never knew I could work so hard and live so outside of myself. I feel that I am "losing myself", and yet I am finding real joy.
This is my roller coaster analogy for tough times-- and I think taking care of two little ones is tough. You just hold on as tight as you can and have faith that you will come back up from the plunge. Nobody stays down forever. Tough times will get easier and then you'll have new and different tough times. Life isn't suppose to be easy. So try to enjoy the tough times, thinking how much stronger you're getting.

I like to think about how WISE I'm going to be when I'm an old lady. Unfortunately, I'll be wise enough not to spout off about it like I am now. Sorry. But she really did ask!!

One more thing. Five children is harder in someways than two, but I enjoy it much more. I think that is because I know there is no way to get everything done just the way I'd like. Thus, I can relax a little and just do the best I can. With two, I felt like I should be able to "do everything" and so I was much tougher on myself. Also, it's nice to have some older kids around for company. What a tragedy to send them all to school just when they get interesting!

All right, all right, all right--enough already. Love you, R.

I'm so Proud!

Clark and Bethany took their first standardized test today. How exciting for the whole family! Abe and I were practically giddy giving them advice. You see, we have only ever homeschooled, and why would we have had any need for a standardized test? But we have enrolled Clark and Bethany in a school. WHAT???

Those of you opposed to homeschool will be cheering and thinking-- thank goodness that crazy Betsy has finally seen the light. I knew that homeschooling thing would be too much for her. Now maybe her house will be clean, her kids' faces will not be crusty, their hair will be combed, and she won't have piles of laundry higher than her bed.

Sorry to disappoint. We are still very much homeschooling, but this ONLINE school utilizes the K12 curriculum, but is extremely flexible as to how many courses can be taken , at what level, and how quickly they need to be completed. As in, there is no time limit. Clark is taking a science course, we're all doing a history class together, and Grandpa Cannon is leading us through a Spanish course. We do have access to some pretty cool field trips.

One of the very few requirements is that 3rd, 5th, and 8th graders take the IOWA standardized tests. Lucky us-- we have a 3rd and a 5th grader. Yesterday I printed off a bubble sheet for each of the them and we did a 3rd grade practice test. As I suspected I found there were some areas we have really focused on and the kids breezed through. And then there was punctuation!

Note to self: Focus on punctuation.

Clark does very well in math, but the curriculum we use does fractions a little later than the public schools, so that might have been a bit of a problem. He said he was the best in science. I'm sure he was.

Here's the kicker. When I picked them up after three hours of testing Bethany said, "That was actually pretty fun!" Poor unsocialized homeschoolers-- they don't even know they are supposed to hate it! They were so happy that that's ALL they had to do for school today. Yikes, I must be some kind of slave driver if they'd rather take three hours of standardized tests than do their schoolwork at home.

In other news, Elinor had her first soccer game on Monday. Umm, I will withhold public judgment until the end of the season, but I will say this - she sure doesn't feel the need to follow the crowd. Which is usually a good thing.

Unless you are in soccer. In soccer the crowd is all going after the ball and if you're not going after it too, you aren't too much use to the team. Their was some grass picking and quite a bit of flitting about. At one point she came out of the game and I said, "You should go after the ball".
She responded, "Well, MOM-- the ball never comes to me!"

Clark is involved with flag football for the first time. He's anxious to do tackle football, and he's definitely built for it, but tackle is a huge- huge--crazy huge-- time commitment and none of us are ready for that yet. He had his first game last night and he LOVED it.

Bethany is very involved with dance and she dances for a couple of hours twice a week. She does ballet, jazz and tap. She'd love to do hip-hop and tumbling as well, but we must pace ourselves.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Book Club Retreat

I crocheted. I'm not very good with handicrafts, but I found this strangely therapeutic.

Here is my beautiful mentor-C.. She was a very patient teacher. I told her to pretend I was a five year old and teach me accordingly. It worked.

But it was pretty hard for me. Like I said, I'm not so good with handicrafts.

Abe and Dave and Dave. We had our book club retreat at a condo in Eden, Utah. That is located east of Ogden. Here are the boys with their computers.

Here are the little ladies.

We had our own personal yoga and zumba instructor. I would really like C. to make a DVD because I only like her yoga instruction. I told her I would even be in it as the person doing the easiest version.

We ROCKED out on Rock Band.

We swam. A LOT!

The little ladies made these beautiful flower clips.
You will notice the hat Faith is wearing-- I MADE IT!

Clark and London were great pals on this trip. They hung out in the basement a lot playing Lego Star Wars, but they did emerge every now and then for meals and swimming.

We had so much fun on this trip I almost feel I've overdosed in fun. I need calm. No packing. No going anywhere.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Piano Recital

Clark and Elinor had a piano recital this evening. They both played Mozart pieces.

They both played very well. Clark didn't have any mistakes-- that I could tell.
Elinor had a very tricky song and had a few bobbles, but I was still very proud of her. I think she peaked in her practice about a week too soon and kind of lost focus a bit.

They are both making great progress. Now to get ready for Bethany's violin recital on Friday.

Our 1st Kids' Book Club-- The Hobbit

Last year I was very involved in a bi-monthly Knights of Freedom Club for Clark and a bi-monthly Liberty Girls Club for Bethany and Elinor. Both were very positive experiences for all, but this year I decided to simplify things a bit. We are doing a once a month book club for both 8-11 boys and girls.

We had our first meeting today and I dare say it was a smashing success! We read The Hobbit.

I took the structure of our meeting from my good friend Emily ( We are doing our discussion first, then having a snack and game having to do with the book. In this picture the kids are enjoying bacon and eggs because Bilbo was always dreaming of bacon and eggs in his hobbit hole.
We had quite a bit of rain today so we had to change one of our planned games to play it inside instead of outside. We played an inside version of "Capture the Arkenstone". We wrapped an apple in tin foil and "the hobbit" hid it somewhere in the house. The boys were the dwarves and the girls were the elves and it was a competition to see which team could find it first. Whoever found it got to be the next hobbit.

When Bethany hid it she was having such a hard time keeping it secret. It was driving her nuts. She is SO my daughter!

When the rain stopped we did go outside for "Smaug Tag". Smaug is the dragon guarding the treasure in The Hobbit. Smaug tag was a basically Candle Tag (which is similar to freeze tag). There are about 3,000 different versions of tag-- and all kids seem to know ALL of them.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE watching kids this age play running games outside. I love to watch how they work things out-- what game to play, who is it, what are the rules, what is fair, who is on who's team, how they work our disputes. It is really quite complicated business and I think we adults could learn a lot from them on how to get along with others.
We have a really fantastic group of kids in our neighborhood and they can run and play forever and it seems like everyone has a fun time.
The greatest game we came up with was the outside "Capture the Arkenstone" we were able to play after the rain stopped.
This is how it worked. The Arkenstone was in the middle of the trampoline. 3 or 4 dwarves were guarding it. Here are the first round of dwarves (note the beards).

Then the Elves (note the ears) had to try to get on the trampoline and get a hand on the arkenstone without getting tagged by a dwarf. If they got tagged they had to go to jail until a teammate rescued them.

I just ADORE these kids! Such personalities.

Paint the Fence

Here are my little cuties helping to stain a few fence slats.

Our dog, Winston, was limping around on his left front paw. We didn't know why and we couldn't see any damage to his paw.

Then we noticed several pieces of chewed up wood laying around the backyard.

Then we discovered Winston in the act of rubbing his paw on the fence to break off pieces of it. It's not a very strong fence.

Dumb dog.

So Abe bought a few new slats and the girls were happy to help stain them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Thoughts for the evening

I know I can't dance. I've often joked that the root of all my problems is that I never took dance lessons. But. . . there is this show. So You Think You Can Dance. I love it. LOVE IT! I think I've missed about 4 episodes total in the last five years. There. Now you know. Season 6 started tonight. Oh joy!

I was walking in my neighborhood this evening with Cannon and Faith in the stroller and our dog, Winston, on his leash. One of my little primary boys came running over to me and with a look of confusion and astonishment he said to me, "You are a Primary teacher. AND you have kids? AND you have a dog?"
As if I couldn't possibly have any more jobs than teaching in Primary. It made me smile and it made me feel like I was quite remarkable to do so many things!

Day two of school went better. Clark started a science course he is doing with an online school. He said he loved it, even though he doesn't care that much about water (topic of the first couple of lessons). He said, it was great, even though it was a little too "Go Green" for him with all the conservation fluff. Yeah, I hear you. It isn't easy being green. You blend in with so many ordinary things.

Cannon did have one good night's sleep when we got home from Spokane, but last night he was just a wee bit clingy and was happiest sleeping right on top of me. This goes against my sleeping motto: "We all sleep better when we don't sleep together".

Good night. I must sleep.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sleep, My Little One

Why must my three year old resist sleep?
This is how I found her asleep on her bed tonight after being "put to bed" an hour and a half earlier.

She started in pajamas, but a leotard is so much more fun to sleep in.

There are still a few books on the bookshelf, so I guess she didn't quite get ALL the books out to look out.

Even in her last waking moments, I don't think she had any intention of going to sleep-- ever. From her position, I think it just sort of happened. She just sort of happened to accidentally fall asleep.

More of Spokane

I could eat these little cuties up! Faith was so thrilled to have so many little girl cousins to play with.

For a man with seven sons-- he does pretty well with all these grand- daughters.

Cannon and his "twin" cousin Claire. They were born on the same day, although Claire is a few hours older.

Here are the kiddos with Grandma and Grandpa just before leaving. The kids always cry as we drive down the hill after saying goodbye.

We discovered that Cannon is quite the homeboy! That is to say, he likes to be home and LOATHES being anywhere else! I'm sorry to say it, but he was a super grouch and slept HORRIBLE on this trip. I thought maybe it was just because he was getting a cold, but when we got home at 11:30 last night he was all smiles and slept completely through the night. And today he's back to his happy chappy self. Little stinker!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods

To Grandmother's (and Grandfather's) house we go!
We have made our annual pilgrimage to Spokane to visit Grandma and Grandpa Fox. In our 12+ years of marriage we have driven to Spokane many times and know the drive well. This was perhaps our most pleasant drive yet. Who'd have guessed that a minivan completely full of children and parents for 11 hours could be peaceful! Miracles never cease!

It helped that we got a very early start and by the time we got to Idaho Falls the kids thought we were only in Ogden. I packed up lots of snack foods and real food and books on tape and movies for the DVD player and we were good to go. Cannon makes or breaks the trip, depending on how much he screams (sad screaming or happy screaming) and he was a pretty happy chappy this time around.

We had a very relaxing evening after we arrived in the late afternoon. You couldn't pick a more child, family-friendly location anywhere than Grandma and Grandpa Fox's house. This is a beautiful log home up on top of a small mountain with everything outdoors and indoors for children to enjoy. We just wish it were a little bit closer to us!
Yesterday, Abe and Grandma Fox planned out a full morning of stops and visits. And if you know these two, you know that they take their planning very seriously. So we had a schedule and we stuck to it.
First stop Uncle Chuck and Aunt Merleen's house; which use to be Grandma Edra and Grandpa Bill's house (Abe's paternal grandparents); which was right across a field from the home Abe grew up in.

Next stop--to visit Mike and Marjorie and see their backyard chickens. The kids had fun chasing the chickens around the yard and catching them--or trying to catch them.


Next stop-- a visit to the Pines cemetery where two generations of Fox Grandparents are buried.

Faith seemed to instinctively understand that when in Pine's Cemetery, you must gather all the pine cones you can find.

Next stop-- yes, another stop-- and this is all before lunch! Next stop- a visit to the office where Grandpa and several of Abe's brothers work.

Here is Elinor with Grandpa. I LOVE this moment because it captures something amazing. Jim and Kathleen have 45 grandchildren and #46 is almost here. Yet here is Elinor with Grandpa and he knows HER. He loves HER. He cheered for HER when she played her piano song. She knows he loves her. It doesn't matter how many grandchildren there are. And if the kids feel so important to Grandpa, you can imagine how they feel about Grandma Fox.

Last official stop was Taco-Time for lunch where we saw cousin Lani working. Clark was happier than he looked in the picture (I hope)!
What a treat for us to get to spend so much time with Grandma and Grandpa. We always feel very welcome and loved when we come to visit.

When all the morning visits were done we headed back up the "The Hill" for a few hours of rest for the little ones and serious playtime for the older ones. Clark and Abe went on a hike, but forgot to take their bright orange vests Grandma got for them to avoid getting shot with an arrow during the bow hunt. Fortunately they came back unscathed.

And then they discovered the 4-wheelers! Oh joy! Bethany came running inside to say, "Clark is SO COOL! He is such a good driver!"
Later on Clark chivalrously gave Bethany the helmet to wear.

Cousin Sarah is a lifeguard at the pool Abe swam in as a kid. So the in-town Fox families spent the evening at the pool. That is Sarah's little brother, Hyrum, in the picture.

Cannon and cousin Joseph. We enjoyed a tasty dinner at the Call family home last night. These two little guys are two of the eight Fox babies born within a year of each other.

Abe and Elinor took an early 4-wheeler ride together this morning all over the hill. Elinor was so delighted to find this "exquisite" wild turkey feather. What a find!