Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer of the Forgotten Mother

Abe began his second trip with the kids this summer without me, as I am too far along to make such a long trip. I saw them off at 5 am this morning. This time I am left with only Cannon. He is alseep right now. I suppose I could have sent Cannon along as well, but that wouldn't be much fun for anyone. Cannon is a busy little guy and Abe will be kept busy enough keeping track of the four others. So I will happily keep him with me. Besides, Cannon and I really like each other and we'd miss each other too much. As it is, he looks around occasionally, puts up his hands, and with an inquisitive look says, "Gone?" He's not letting me out of his sight. Smart boy.

I cleaned up a bit this morning and IT'S STILL CLEAN.
I watched a bit of Wimbledon this morning.
I went to lunch with girlfriends.
Cannon and I will go out and buy some hotwheels cars this afternoon.
I think I'll go read my book now.

This is really, really strange. I hope I don't get use to it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

I'm Sorry- So Sorry

We had one of our quarterly Primary activities this afternoon. It was a repeat of an activity we did last summer-- water games at our neighborhood park. Each member of the presidency was in charge of a game and the kids rotated around to the different games. We all enjoyed otter pops at the end.
I am apologizing for being such a GROUCH to all those sweet primary children. Here are my excuses: It was hot and I was tired. Being 8 months pregnant has that effect on me. That being said, I feel really bad. I should have tried harder to put on a happy face.
Abe and the kids are getting ready for their trip to Spokane and I'm getting ready for one of my best friends from Virginia to come visit me. When Abe first told me he was planning to go to Spokane for the reunion without me I was pretty sad. Sad because I would miss it, but also sad at the prospect of being home alone (with Cannon) for a week. Perhaps I should have relished such an idea but I was afraid my pregnant emotions would get the better of me. I told him if my dear Emily could come stay with me, then I would be just fine. Emily is someone who takes care of other people. She is a nurse by profession. She's a giver and I'm looking forward to hours and hours of chatting, plus a pedicure just to be spoiled.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We were Pioneers....for a few days!

Clark, Bethany, Elinor and I (Abe) had an Amazing experience last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We went to Martin's Cove for a Mormon Pioneer Handcart Trek in Wyoming!

Here are the four of us all decked out in our pioneer garb at the start of the trail with Devil's Gate behind us. That first day the wind was REALLY blowing.... hence the big coats for the girls.

During the "Trek", we covered about 14 miles pulling a real handcart. It was awesome, and the landscape was breathtaking. We were part of a "Pioneer Company" comprised of homeschooling families - totalling nearly 200 people of all ages!! We camped and cooked with 2 other families from our neighborhood. Here, Beth and Els are surrounded by friends from these 2 families.

Getting ready for the first big "Pull"!

The Sweetwater River was our constant companion.

Trekking with your friends.....it doesn't get much funner than this!!

Our first night camping we had a Super-Fun HUGE Square Dance. Bethany especially got into it.

Here is Clark with one of his trail-buddies enjoying our camp fire.

We pulled single file along the trail.

Our three families became one giant family as we worked, played, cooked and some of us even swam together in the very cold Sweetwater.....If Clark and I had brought swimsuits we would have been some of those shivering people.

After that first VERY windy day the weather got much nicer.

This was just before some of our "Trek-family" members jumped into the river....while the rest of us watched.

Here Els and her friend are walking down the trail after touring the actual Martin's Cove.

However, that didn't last too long before she started to really run out of gas and needed a lift.

Els and R. taking a quick break in the only shade around.

The Resident Camp Snake-Whisperer, otherwise known as my son, Clark, caught bare-handed a pretty darn big Gopher snake (non-poisonous) that had wandered into camp. He gave a mini-lecture on this particular species of snake to all the people who had gathered around and then, after a couple pictures, he walked a long ways from camp to release it. I'm not making this stuff up!! He is amazing with reptiles!! They just seem to come to him. He is a Parselmouth!!

Here the kids have just received letters from their mother delivered via the "Pony Express". It was very touching and sweet.

Our "Trek-Grandpa" brought some marbles and taught the kids some old-time marble games.

Here is our full 3-families-joined-for-3-days wonderful "Trek Family".

What a special experience this was for the four of us! We missed Betsy (and of course Cannon and Faith) not being with us....but with Bets being basically 8 months pregnant, I didn't want her to actually have the baby on the Wyoming high-plains.

We got home safe Saturday evening and we will NEVER forget our Pioneer Trek!

It's Quiet on the Fox Home Front

It's 7:45 and I've been awake for about an hour. No one else is awake. The house is quiet. I've gotten ready and eaten my cereal and still, no one else stirs. This is unusual. I suppose the most unusual part is my getting up early, not the children sleeping late. We're to the point of this pregnancy that sleep can be elusive--even for me.
I took Clark, Bethany, and Elinor to see the Percy Jackson movie last night. I know it comes out on DVD next week, so we obviously aren't keeping up with the latest movies, but we had a fun time and we liked the movie. I'd spent so much time with the little ones that I was ready for some time with the big kids before they all head off to Spokane next week.
Here's something fun-- I am typing this post on a brand new laptop. I mentioned that our old one got shipped off to be fixed again. It turns out they decided to just give us a brand new one! Yippee!--15 days within the 3 year warranty. I would just like to say, blessing! Of course the new one is way better than our old one, with the addition of one more flashy feature as well. It is red. It's bright red. Like a cherry red corvette. (That's what the store had available). Just like we have no need for a cherry red corvette, we really have no need for a fancy pants red computer either, but its fun. Abe and I are celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary this week and he keeps telling me that this computer is my computer. I was touched. Until I realized he is okay to use a cherry red laptop computer, as long as people know it is his wife's and not his. I'm okay with that.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


June 12th was the big day that Clark tested for his black belt in TaeKwonDo. Clark has been working towards this for the last 3 and 1/2 years. It was quite an involved test and he was so well prepared and did so well that I was moved to tears more than once during the testing. I tried to cry discreetly so as not to embarrass myself or my son, but I know where he started and where he is now and how much effort it has taken on both of our parts. I was so proud of him. Oh, and I'm pregnant so I really never have to justify my crying. For the next few pictures I'll go through several parts of the testing day that took 4 1/2 hours! There were 8 other kids testing for their black belts at the same time ranging in age from 8 to16.

The testing started at 9:00 AM as the youngest/smallest boy leads the others in reciting "Good Things Korean". That's not really what it's called, but that's what I'm calling it. If you have really good eyes you can see what they are reciting on the sign just behind Clark's head.
This is about where my first tears came because this is how he's started each class several times a week for several years.

After a few beginning things came the push-ups. For Clark's age group he had to do 50. I wrote on a previous post how hard he's been working on this. It was hard for him, but he got some sort of amazing burst of strength and he flew through them. In fact, he got done so quickly I thought he had stopped because he couldn't do anymore and would resume after a short rest. But no, he had finished them. I teared up at this point too.

Next were the sit-ups. Clark needed to do 70. This was not a problem.

The next part was kicking techniques. There were 8 different kicks he did 8 times each with each leg. I call this endurance kicking.

Next came a section called One-Step Sparring. Here two students work together-one on defense and one on offense. The student on the offense has two techniques for 8 different belt colors they needed to have learned and be able to perform.

Each student had to write verbatim a rather lengthy history of TaeKwonDo. With each belt color test they have to memorize answers to questions. It has really helped Clark learn to memorize long passages quickly.

This was a rather exciting part--if you're into watching your child be aggressive in an safe, approved setting--which I am. This is sparring. For a couple of minutes the kids face off against each other and go at it. To be perfectly honest, Abe and I were cracking up watching how much the teachers were enjoying watching it too.

Then the grand finale--- the breaking of the boards. Each student had four boards to break (a front kick, a front punch, an elbow strike, and a back kick). Clark got three on the first try but the back kick took a few tries. This picture is of the front kick and as you can see, Abe was protecting his eyes from flying wood chips.
While this part was fun and relatively easy for Clark, the same cannot be said for everyone. The breaking of the boards is a source of much stress for younger students. Although the boards are pine and not the toughest wood in the world, there were some tears and pain involved for some. I was glad Abe was there to hold the boards, because it looks scary and painful to me.
After the testing was all finished Master Kim took his new black belts out to eat at a very authentic Korean restaurant. Abe and I went along as well. It was pretty tasty. Clark is chowing down on the crunchy seaweed here. According to him, "Interesting texture, good taste". Abe concurs with this assessment.

TaeKwonDo has been such a positive experience for Clark. He had decided he wanted to be done after he got his black belt. But after the test and since he thinks he may want to continue on to higher levels and degrees of black belt. I think that would be great, but we all agree we are taking a little break this summer and we'll decide after the baby comes. It was a really wonderful day for Abe and I to get to spend with Clark and many thanks for my dad and Bev for watching our other kiddos to make it possible.

Addition to Post by Abe: Black Belt testing only happens twice each year - in June and December. There were actually two other very involved sections of the testing - one is where Clark performs several of 16 different memorized Kicking combinations, and the biggest section of all is when the students must be ready to perform 3 or 4 of the 16 different and very long (3 minute-ish) full TaeKwonDo Forms (kicking and punching routine) that correspond to each belt. Clark's excellent memorization skills once again were on display as he had no problem with his Forms......and the judges knew it immediately, in that after watching Clark for several seconds began intently watching other students from then on who were struggling a bit.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Revealing Moments

I'm getting to spend some extra quality time with my littlest ones this week-- Cannon is about the same as usual. My time with Faith has been very revealing. For example, as we drove around running a few errands this morning she talked incessantly. She had lots of commentary and lots of questions. My favorite question of the day, "Mommy, how does Jesus build our eyes". I explained that eyes grow inside the mommy's tummy just like all our other parts. She disagreed. Her explanation was, "He puts in some goopey stuff and then squishy rocks". Interesting.
But here's what I found most interesting. Faith doesn't do most of the talking around here. She has three older siblings afterall. But I learned today that it's not because she isn't thinking about things. I think she just can't get a word in!

When Clark and Bethany and were little I was SO anxious to start "school" with them. They were more interested in playing (which I now realize is the healthiest, best way to "school" little kids). But Faith is so crazy starving to do "school" with me. She begs for me to do piano practice with her-- and she is actually doing it! She begs for me to do her writing with her and her letter practice. I am often very involved with "motivating" the older kids to get their work done that I put her off more often than I should. It's been SO nice to have all the time in the day to do whatever Faith wants to do.

I refuse to let my children see me spending my every waking moment cleaning up their messes. They are perfectly capable of doing almost all of the household chores. I will not put their shoes away. I will not make their beds. I will not clear their dishes from the table. I will not pick up their dirty clothes. How horrible for them to think that I have nothing better to do than pick up after them. That being said, it is no easy task to get them to get their jobs done daily and pick up after themselves. I learned today that it TRULY is easier to do it myself. But NO! I will not set that pattern. So if my house is messy-- I keep it that way on PURPOSE! My purpose is to raise people that other people will enjoy being married to someday. If I just cleaned it myself I might have a cleaner house, but I'd be creating little monsters. Here's to a "Purpose-Filled Mess!"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

This is so ARCHAIC

I have been spoiled by our laptop computer. I sit in my comfy red chair up in my room and write my blog and check emails and such. For the second time our laptop's back light (?) is broken and it's been sent to Chumbawumba to get repaired. This is not such good news, but the SERIOUSLY good news is that we are within 15 days of our three year warranty expiring. So, we don't have to pay anything to have our computer sent off to Chumbawumba to get fixed!
In the meantime, I am reduced to using our archaic, dinosaur desk top computer. I don't know if I'll have to patience to load any pictures up on this computer because it takes a long time. However, I'll just say that I have some AWESOME pictures from Clark black belt test on Saturday to load up. I won't go into a ton a detail yet, but he did SO WELL and we were so happy for him.

I've been a little under the weather the last few days with some sort of summer cold. A summer cold seems so unjust. I was already slowing down due the pregnancy, but I'm moving at a snail's pace and accomplishing about as much. Poor Abe has been getting ready to go on the 11 year old scout camp with Clark and making preparations for the pioneer trek and I am not much help right now. Abe is a planner and an organizer and I am so grateful!

We have a couple of trips over the next couple of weeks, but for now we are done with TaeKwondo, done with dance, done with softball, done with Cubscouts, done with almost every single outside of the home activity (except for music lessons). It is GLORIOUS!!!!! I may never go back! Hopefully come the end of the summer we'll feel like venturing forth again. But I feel like this is the speed I can keep up with right now.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not Enough Energy to Go Around

We've been keeping busy. Too busy.
I think our whole family will be happier when things settle down a bit. Or maybe it's just me. I just don't have enough energy to go around for all the fun activities. Here are a few pictures of what we've been up to.
There was a free fishing day here in Utah, meaning you could fish for one morning with no fishing license. Abe and Clark headed out to the local fishing pond. It's not a very picturesque location, but there were fish to be caught.
My dad is so good about taking Clark on grand fishing trips at least a couple times a year. I think Abe feels a little bad that he doesn't get into the "sport" of fishing as much as Clark would like. So it was good for the two of them to have success together.

Clark caught one more, but it was "the big one that got away".

Here are my twins (separated by 5 years). Bethany and Faith had their ballet dance recital.

Faith was the first in her class to walk out on stage. She knew just where her "spot" was and she ran her short little legs out on to stage as fast as she could leaving the rest of her class in the dust. SO CUTE! Abe could hardly contain his fatherly pride.

Bethany has enjoyed focusing on ballet this year.
You can tell she is a modest girl--check out her farmer's tan!

Abe and I enjoyed a date with Elinor for the recital. Clark didn't have any interest in attending and we didn't have any interest in Cannon attending. So the boys stayed home together. It was a great arrangement for everyone.

Here are Abe and Faith square dancing in preparation and anticipation for their pioneer trek next week.

The kids had a grand time and it was quite the cardio workout. Cannon was my partner and he LOVED it. He kept squealing with delight with occasional shouts of "Yehaww". He is Abe's son after all.

The girls were so happy to give their pioneer clothes a trial run.

There are a few more pictures to share of a local overnight campout, but I'll be honest. I am very tired and it is making me even more tired thinking about all the things that are adding to my tiredness. So I'm going to stop for now. I'm going to go to bed.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Beg of You

Abe will be taking the kids up to Spokane this summer for a family reunion. Abe will take great care of them and they will all have a glorious time. I have one concern. It might be silly. It might be shallow. But I'm concerned about Elinor's hair. She has kind of complicated hair for a 7-year-old. She has a really cute hair cut, but it's not just a "pony tail and go" hairstyle.

Who is going to do Elinor's hair? This is out of Abe's league. I'm calling out to any and all sister-in-laws or nieces and begging you to make sure Elinor's hair is looking cute.
Or at least be understanding if she looks like no one loves her.

This little dirndl (German dress) was mine when I was a little girl living in Germany. Faith wanted to wear it on Sunday. We wanted to call her Gretel, but she didn't really like that.

If Faith is getting her picture taken, Cannon rushes to join in the action.

Speaking of Cannon, he got a terrible stomach bug moments before going to the doctor for a well-check appointment. Sadness.

Good Bye Cub Scouts

Clark received his Arrow of Light award tonight at his last Pack Meeting of his Cub Scout career.

Clark owes all his success in Cub Scouts to his wonderful dad.
I feel guilty when I get the pins at pack meeting, when Abe has done all the work with Clark.

I am an impostor. "[I] sit on a throne of lies" (from the movie Elf).

A great guy in the ward makes one of these awards for the boys when they earn their Arrow of Light. They can pin all their Cub/Boy Scout awards on the leather. You may notice the actual arrow-head is missing off the right side. We had a little accident in transporting it to the church. We'll have to fix that.

They have a fun tradition in our pack that the younger boys get to "kick" the Pack graduate out of Cub Scouts. The kid doing the kicking in this picture is a friend that's actually a bit older and was at the meeting with his younger brothers. But it was funny when the boys all lined up to kick Clark out and he was SO much taller than everybody else. He's HUGE! It is definitely time for him to move on to 11-year-old scouts. That three years of Cub Scouts went fast.