Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

This was the highlight of Memorial Day for us. After visiting the graves of my grandparents (Glen and Joyce Richards Cannon) and great grandparents (Spencer and Nancy Croxall Cannon) we walked a few yards south to visit the graves of Abe's great-grandparents (Mary Leona and Jesse Levi Jolley).
As we were locating the grave, the three people in the middle of this photo overheard us saying, "Jolley" and they called us over. The man next to Abe is his Great Uncle, Aaron Jolley, and then his son-in-law and daughter, Julie Jolley Davis. We visited with them for a bit. They were delightful and they shared with us a few family stories. Julie told us she idolized her older cousin, Kathleen (Abe's mom), as a girl because she had a princess canopy bed.
Aaron Jolley is known as "Grandpa Tooth Fairy" to his grandchildren. Each of his many grandchildren (now great-grandchildren) call him whenever they lose a tooth and he sends them a bit of money. When he looked at Elinor's mouth and saw how many teeth she was missing, Grandpa Tooth Fairy was so sweet to let Elinor share in the family tradition! Her face lit up like the Fourth of July when he gave her a 2 dollar bill. As for the head scarf she is wearing. I can only tell you that she liked how it looked and she wore it all morning.

Earlier this morning we met up with some Clark family relatives at my mom's, Clark grandparents' and Tessa's grave. I love Memorial Day even though it tends to be a very emotional day for me. I find it very cleansing and cathartic. Here Aunt Diane is making me cry by telling me stories about my mom and my Grandma Clark. Aunt Diane has had some pretty serious health problems over the last year so we are so glad she is still with us.

Memorial Day makes me SO GRATEFUL for the good families Abe and I come from. Families that for generations have worked hard and tried to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nobody's been famous or wealthy, but they have loved their families and done right by their fellow men. A worthy example for which I am grateful.
Is it possible that Clark is already gaining that much height on me?

Grandpa Cannon was our companion for the day. After the cemeteries we got lunch and shakes at Artic Circle. It was a very enjoyable morning. Abe is back at work now and the kids and I are enjoying our first official day off school!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cannon Turns Two!

"I can't believe I'm 2!"
This was the expression Cannon kept making while looking at his burning candles while we sang Happy Birthday to him. We were cracking up.

"Chocolate frosting is so good!"

The girls wrapped up some of Cannon's favorite toys (that we already owned) for him to open. How frugal of them!

He loved playing tee-ball in the living room. He knew just what to do.

We've been looking forward to giving him this basketball hoop for MONTHS!

We have kitties. AGAIN.
I know, I know. We just need to go get our cat spayed. That would be a worthy goal to accomplish before having this baby.
It's worse this time because not only did our original cat, Flash, have kitties, but our second cat, Flash Jr. (who we all thought was a boy) also had kitties. We have 7 kitties. The kids do LOVE playing with them and they are super cute, but enough already. I think we've finally learned our lesson.
Does anyone want a kitty?

My piano students did their recital this evening and I was so happy with how everyone played. I'm planning on continuing to teach for June and July and then we'll break for August.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It All Ends Tomorrow... Sort Of

Our regular school year ends tomorrow.
We are taking next week off. Then we go into our summer school schedule. Our summer schedule doesn't look that much different from our regular school, but it makes the kids happy to hear "shortened" school. And then of course we'll take time off when the baby comes at the end of July.

Why don't we take the whole summer off?
You know how a lot of moms go a little crazy with kids home all day, everyday during vacation times? I go a little nutty, too, when we aren't on our regular schedule. We may be home all day together, but we do have a definite flow to the day. Everybody knows what they should be doing throughout the day.
If you're interested this is what our "Home School Day" looks like:

I wake up between 7:30 and 8:30. I am not a morning person and I'm pregnant-- I am past feeling guilty about this little morning indulgence. Clark often sets his alarm to wake up earlier to get started on his reading time.

We eat breakfast next. Everybody likes to eat cold cereal first thing in the morning. Once again, although I admire my friends who cook a hot breakfast for their families, I'm past guilt about the cold cereal route we've chosen.

The BIG FIVE is next. This includes clothes, hair, teeth, tidy room, and morning prayer. If we have problems with children lolly-gagging and not completing their big five in a timely manner, we enforce a "big five before breakfast" policy.

Next is cleaning jobs. Clark, Bethany, and Elinor each have 3 or 4 cleaning jobs they are in charge of. I only assign the jobs once every 4 months or so. This makes it easy to remember who is in charge of what for the kids and for me.

Then we start school time with song, prayer, scriptures, and read aloud time. Everybody likes this time and it is a relaxing time after a morning of "do this, do that". The kids are allowed to draw, write, or play with toys quietly during read aloud time. Read alouds can be history, science, poetry, art history, literature. The fun stuff.

Next is lunch prep time and lunch. Then Cannon goes to bed. We LOVE him like crazy, but this is a happy moment for everyone. He is very contented to go to bed after giving hugs and kisses to everyone.

Next is the portion of the day that looks the most like "real school". Math, spelling, grammar, journal writing, reading, handwriting. I sit with Elinor as she does her work. Clark and Bethany come to me as needed. Everyone gets their work checked and makes needed corrections.

As school work wraps up we get into piano and violin practice. Sometimes we get this done during this time and sometimes we don't get to it until later in the evening because I teach piano lessons three days of the week in the afternoons. Usually the kids are done with their "stuff" by this point and they are delighted to play with friends while I teach. If they aren't done yet, they are still happy to have me out of their hair for an hour and just play.

That's pretty much what our days looks like. Not everyday flows smoothly, but I think it is the concerted, consistent effort every day that makes it work most days. The kids know what to expect and so even when I'm having an off day, they can get into gear until I pull it together.

Now, just as we established a great routine, we happily welcome the summer and a change of routine. I know this baby will throw off our schedule for a little while, but eventually (hopefully) we'll find our "new normal" again. That's a nice thing about having had so many babies, you kind of know what's coming and what to expect.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Little House Fantasy is One Step Closer

It's Mary, Laura and Baby Carrie!
In preparation for a pioneer trek (reenactment), Barbara Sherman made these adorable pioneer dresses for the girls.
I think they are so cute I can hardly stand it. And they look so comfy, I think I need a mommy-sized one to wear.
Faith won't be going on the actual trek, but she would have been sad not to have a dress. I think we have Halloween all taken care of this year.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I Shamelessly Label My Children

My little baby-- all grown up and headed off to boot camp.

Actually he's getting ready to test for his black belt in TaeKwonDo. The shaved head has nothing to do with TaeKwonDo, but one of the many requirements he needs to fulfill for testing is 70 sit-ups and 50 push-ups.
Abe is his trainer and every other day Clark is working SO HARD on his push ups. He's got his sit-ups ready, but 50 is a lot of push ups! Abe says he gets tired just watching Clark.
June 12th is the big day.

Bethany had her violin recital this evening. She played beautifully. I feel sad for the students who practice so hard, but then crack under the pressure of performance. Bethany is the opposite. She may have a crummy practice right before, but come recital time she does great. And in fact she did have a crummy practice today. After the recital she told me she was practicing badly on purpose because she was mad at me. Interesting approach on recital day.
I "purposefully" took this picture in front of a pile of laundry on my bed because I know you'll like me better if you see how I really live! You're welcome.
Let's be honest, nobody I'm closely related to is going to be a gymnast. It's not in the genes, but Elinor is trying her darndest to prove me wrong. Every time I turn around, Elinor is turning a cartwheel. She has a rule in her mind that all parental requests shall be answered with a cartwheel.
Example: "Elinor, please go do your math"

"Elinor come to the table for dinner"
My favorite was at her softball game yesterday. For the first time she played an infield position for a couple of innings as opposed to playing outfield. When you're in the outfield an occasional cartwheel is not very noticeable. But when you're closest to the batter, right next to the pitcher, a cartwheel is a bit more distracting. I had to go to the fence and yell, "ELINOR--NO CARTWHEELS!"
This evening Faith had a little neighbor friend come over to see if she could play. Abe told her no. Faith isn't known for her defiance, but she made an exception tonight. She sneaked out on her belly under a partially opened garage and went to her friend's house. IN HER SWIMSUIT!!!!! She wore four different swimsuits today, plus a dance leotard. It seemed harmless enough to wear a swimsuit all day. I didn't think she'd wander the streets in it.

I intended to sneak into Cannon's room tonight and snap a picture of a peaceful, sleeping toddler. As soon as I opened the door, he instantly woke up and greeted me thus. Oops. He was so happy to see me and just wanted a "mommy hug" before he peacefully returned to sleep.
But the idea was that he runs like a madman when he's awake, but he's a GREAT sleeper! He's sleeping through the night and taking 3-4 hour naps during the day. His bed is a happy place for him. I can understand how he feels. My bed is a happy place for me, too.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ten Thoughts for the Evening

1. I PASSED my glucose test!!! This means I don't have to take the yucky 4 hour one. It also makes me think that I would have passed the first one with Cannon if I hadn't eaten a bag of gummy bears before the test.

2. I did go on a date with Abe. We wanted to rent Iron Man from Redbox, (I haven't seen it yet), but they didn't have it. We made a bad choice instead-- Fame.
Fame is LAME. I don't recommend it. But the dinner with Abe and friends was great.

3. I am not feeling so grouchy. But I am getting ready to be done with our regular school schedule for the summer. Must. Make. It. Through. May.

4. At this moment I'm watching Dancing With the Stars. I love this show. I need one of my children to learn ballroom dance so I can live through them. That's why I have so many children-- so I can have all my wildest dreams come true. Through them. I'm okay with that.

5. I went to a bridal shower for a friend in the ward tonight. I came home to find Elinor watching videos of the old Donny and Marie Show. My children love these videos. I gave them to Abe several years ago-- kind of as a joke. But the Donny and Marie Show is no joke! It is serious entertainment. This would be funny, except that with all the TRASH that is passed off as entertainment these days-- I wish I had every episode ever made on tape.
Actually I'd like them on DVD. Our tapes are getting a little worn.

6. My piano students have a recital coming up in a little over a week. It is stressful to play in a recital yourself. It is more stressful to be the parent of a child playing in a recital. I think it is the most stressful to be the teacher of other people's children playing in a recital. The kids are all doing great and they will play beautifully.

7. I mentioned to a wise friend that although my girls are enjoying playing softball, I don't feel as invested as some of the parents. We show up for the games and practice, but my girls are young, so I don't care about extra ($) clinics and league fundraisers and all-star try-outs.
Same thing with dance for Faith and Bethany. Bethany is 9, so I take it a little more seriously, but for Faith? Come on-- she's FOUR! I don't think we need back-to-back dance and tumbling and summer dance camps. I said to this friend, "I don't want them to feel I don't love them because I'm not going to obsess over their "fun" activities" She said, "Don't mistake fanaticism for love". Wise, very wise.

8. Clark mowed the back yard recently. He did a good job, except for the borders around the fence. You really need a weed whacker, which ours isn't very functional, plus I don't feel comfortable with Clark using the weed whacker anyway. So I'm trying to picture the overgrown fence grass as a beautiful border enclosing a magical play land for my children. These are the mind games that help me be a happy mommy.

9. I don't particularly enjoy grocery shopping at Walmart. That is aside from the fact that I am grateful to be acquire food so easily to feed my family. But I LOVE price matching. It almost makes grocery shopping enjoyable. Almost. It makes me feel smart.

10. I took a happy nappy on the couch today. That is why I can stay up and share ten thoughts tonight. I love happy nappies.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Is your Refrigerator Running?

Then you'd better go catch it!

Ha ha ha.
I have the cleanest fridge today of anyone I know.
Abe woke up this morning and announced his two projects for the day-- cleaning out the fridge and cleaning out the garage. The garage project was somewhat expected in that it really needed to be cleaned out and it is his job. I never have to say anything and eventually he gets around to the garage. But the fridge?
Let me explain. Like many marriages we have divisions of labor. There are some areas that are Abe's-- the yard, the garage, changing light bulbs. There are areas that are mine --the laundry, homeschooling the kids, preparing the food. Neither of the lists are exhaustive, but you get the idea. It would seem that cleaning out the fridge would fall under my domain, but we've been playing a game of chicken for quite some time. Who will break down first and clean out the fridge? Today that question was answered. Am I proud of myself that I could go so long that Abe finally realized the necessity of getting that unpleasant job done? No. Am I happy--no--ecstatic--that my fridge and freezer look brand new? YES!!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Abe. You're my hero!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Deep Breaths

Deep breaths.
Think happy thoughts.
Pray to feel better.
If you don't have something nice to say, BE QUIET.
It's okay to take a break in your room if you're feeling out of control.
Go for a walk.

All good advice I regularly dish out to children, that I need to follow myself this week.
Oh, I've been grouchy. Abe is wondering, "WHAT HAPPENED? One week my nice cheerful wife was here and then BAM! This other woman showed up and she's not so nice. "

Why? I couldn't say. I hope it's hormonal. I'm convinced that you still have some sort of cycle even when your pregnant. I've felt so good for this whole pregnancy, but about once a month I feel kind of crazy.

I think I want/need a good long date with Abe. Dinner, a movie or play, dessert afterwards. Doesn't that sound lovely. Here's the problem. It's been so glorious to have children old enough to leave home alone. This means we don't have to fork over 25 buckaroos for a night out. The downside is that, while I do feel very comfortable leaving the kids alone for 1 or 2 hours, I can't feel good about 4 or 5 hours. I could just hire a sitter for the evening, but once you tasted the goodness of free babysitting, it's hard to go back. Plus, Clark is bigger than most girls the babysitting ages, so that's getting a little awkward.
Waa, waa, waa. There is my compliant.

Now I just feel like rambling. Here I go.
Clark is going to a space camp for several hours tomorrow. It costs $20, so he is mowing the lawn right now to help earn it. Question. Do you prefer your grass cut short or long? Abe likes a lush, long lawn. I prefer a short, not quite golf course cut. I like how it looks and then you don't have to mow it as often. I set the blade lower on the mower today because Abe wasn't here. I wonder what he'll think when he gets home?

Anyone seen any good movies lately? I think the last movie I went to see was The Blind Side. If I were to get crazy and go see a movie, what would you recommend? Maybe the Percy Jackson movie?

I went this morning for my 1-hour glucose test. It's not much fun, but it's loads more fun than the 4 hour glucose test you have to take if you fail the 1-hour. That happened with Cannon. So you can understand why I wasn't very happy going to take this one this morning, knowing that most likely I will not pass it and have to take the big nasty one , which I will pass (like last time).

That's enough boo-hooing from me for one day. I WILL be nice to my people. I think Abe is coming home a little early today. Yippee!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum

We got together with some friends this past Saturday night for softball at a local park. It was great fun for the young and the not so young.

I'm posting this picture for my posterity. I am 6+ months pregnant. My mom did not like to have her picture taken and I would LOVE to see more pictures of her when we kids were younger. So, here's for my kiddos.
And I don't mean to brag or anything, but I can still hit the ball pretty hard. I ran my own bases, but I'm certainly slowing down!

Luke... I am your father.
It's just a batting helmet put on backwards. He doesn't say much that's intelligible, but make no mistake, when we told him that we were going to play softball, he knew exactly what was coming.

Today was our final kids' book club of this school year. We read and discussed Treasure Island. The boys' sword fighting was not one of the planned activities, but we didn't get going on our plans soon enough and this was the result. The huge log (lower right) made me a little nervous, as did the tree branches. I had them turn in their weapons.

I must admit that the ladies were a calmer lot today. I guess Treasure Island affects boys differently than girls.

There is a lot of rum consumption in the story.
We reenacted it the best we could. Once again, the boys really got into it-spilling their drinks, burping and all.

Then a couple more games outside.
There was also a heated game of hide-and-seek inside the house. We don't really own anything valuable or breakable, so their wasn't much risk to the house.

My kids think that because we won't have book club for a while, that we won't have to clean up the house for a while. I guess they've forgotten the last couple of nesting episodes of previous pregnancies. They ain't seen nothing yet.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

I have completed my annual Mother's Day project-- writing a letter to each of my children. When Clark was a baby I was so grateful to have him and to be a mother that I decided Mother's Day was going to be a day for me to celebrate being a mother. Abe has always acknowledged the holiday sufficiently with flowers and cards and breakfast. I just never wanted to feel disappointed or sad on Mother's Day. It happens more often than it should for too many people.
So I write a letter to each child describing them and the things I love about them and the special place that each has in my heart as well as in our family. The letter is then kept in their "baby box". It is very cathartic for me. It reminds me of just how unique and special each one is and how they have blessed me and what I've learned from them. And it has worked to make every Mother's Day a lovely day for me.

On to a question I have to those of you reading this.
This afternoon Abe was watching old home movies with the kids. Not movies of our family, but movies of his family growing up. The kids love it and Abe loves it. Towards the end of the tape that his sister, Marjorie, put together are a few clips of Abe and I engaged and then newly married. These clip are EXCRUCIATINGLY painful for me to watch. As in, I have to leave the room. It's not just because we are in love and acting ridiculous. I hate looking at pictures from my teenage years until about five years ago. Am I ashamed of ways I acted? I'm sure that's part of it. I'm sure I looked better then than now, but still. I don't even like reading things I wrote. Why is this? Does anyone else feel this same way or do I have some psychological disorder? It doesn't really matter I guess. I'm just curious.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Death by Legos

Oh, pain!
I have pain. I have spent the last 2+ hours down in the dungeon with Clark.
The dungeon is his basement room. It's not finished, so another name for it is his "summer room". That's because it's too cold to sleep down there for half the year, but for the other half it's the most comfortable temperature room in the house. During the colder months he sleeps in a loft be upstairs with Cannon. You can easily see why this is not Clark's favorite arrangement, although Cannon is delighted with it. But Clark keeps all of this belongings downstairs. This way he has the illusion that he has his own room. Smart of us parents, huh?

Well, after a winter of just using the dungeon to the bare minimum, it was time to go down and put it back together again. It was messy. Dirty. Yucky. Stinky. You get the idea. It was a very creative, ten year old boy's room with very little supervision for six months. The worst offenders were dirty socks and legos. Now I know where all the socks have gone. But it's the legos I want to talk about. GADZOOKS! How did we get so many legos? I'm not complaining, because many of the legos have been gifts to Clark and he does play with Legos a TON! But a few months ago, a big box got spilled into the floor and they spread like wildfire. They were everywhere. So Clark and I got down on the floor and started gathering the lost tribes of legos.
This is why I have pain right now. I am six + months pregnant. I don't think I'm suppose to be doing things like this anymore! However, in honor of Mother's Day weekend, what can I say? I guess that just the sort of AMAZING mother that I am!
I think I'm going to have a nightmare tonight of being buried alive in Legos.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Home and Away

We love to be home, but we also like to get out and about. One is only fun because of the other.
Here are Faith and Elinor playing a rendition of a favorite Fox girl game: Poor girl. I believe these poor girls are of the hobo variety and they are leaving the comforts of home to make their way in the world.

Clark and Elinor at a recent piano recital. They both played very well and maybe I'll ask Abe to try to put up the video. Stay tuned!

Rollerblading on a Saturday afternoon. Bethany is wearing her tiara from her dance performance earlier in the day.
We have quite a hodgepodge of roller blades and skates, none of which fit or function quite properly. Oh well.

The kids participated in a Shakespeare class this past semester taught by a good friend. It culminated in a performance of the Tempest. Clark was Caliban, a monster, Bethany was Ariel, a fairy helper, and Elinor was a bird and a fairy. They memorized lines and had great costumes and had a marvelous time!

It was time for Clark to get a good, conservative haircut. I couldn't be prouder. Ooh, he does look kind of mean here.

A cold early morning softball game. This is Elinor-- the team MVP (at least by our vote)! Of nine runs home, Elinor scored 3 of them! She was quite the slugger-- three times up to bat and three times home! We were so happy for her.

Ohhh, what a pretty little girl.
Uhh-- I mean handsome little boy.
Uhh-- yikes that is really wrong.
The girls dressed up Cannon and as you can imagine Clark was VERY disturbed! Cannon will hate us for this someday, as well he should. It's better than a naked bathtub shot. Isn't it? No I guess not.

Abe and Bethany went on a daddy-daughter date to a concert at a friend's home.

Oh, that's better. There's my nice Clark.

Inspiring Message