Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

Following an afternoon of espionage yesterday for Elinor's birthday party, we surprised Elinor and Bethany with their big birthday presents-- new bikes!
Here they are flying out the front door when they saw them on the sidewalk. 

The girls have made the best of a very sad collection of ill-sized, non-functioning bicycles for the last couple of years.  They are looking forward to a long bike ride together tomorrow.
Because their birthdays are so close (2 weeks apart), they frequently get their presents together since they often get the same thing.  Besides, it is more fun to play with something when you play together.

For a couple of years Clark has wanted to put together a Dungeons & Dragons club-- a group of friends to get together once a month and go on "adventures".   Putting aside the fact that I have never really understood why this is such fun for Abe and his brothers or Clark and his cousins, I was FULLY in support of him setting this up.  I'll explain why in a moment, but this is a picture of their first meeting this past Saturday evening.
They had pizza and played for about 4 hours.  I must admit, that in listening to these young men and hearing their enthusiasm, my mind was opened and my heart was softened.  I think that maybe, perhaps, just a little, I began to understand how the game is played and why it is so fun.  Maybe.

But here is why I was so happy for Clark to set up this club.  There was an article in the Deseret News just this morning addressing the nurturing of young men.  This article pointed to Boy Scouting as a means of meeting the needs and desires that young men have to be challenged, accomplish things, make friends, and be morally strong.
The article suggested (and I COMPLETELY agree) that young men too often spend hours upon hours playing addictive and/or violent video games that appear to provide for all those needs, but are actually counterfeits, leaving the young men with nothing.
Instead, Clark took the initiative to make a plan and contact all the boys to organize this club.  He spent hours over the last couple of weeks writing the adventure and designing the maps and such.  For four hours these young men communicated as they used their imaginations and thought through the story and setting and characters.  They were charming and polite-- talking with Abe and I and being very kind to the younger siblings.  They will rotate around to each of the boys' homes.  I think it is a perfectly suitable and enjoyable way for young men to spend an evening.  Who knew I could enjoy D&D so much!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

i Spy

I haven't posted for a little while because I've been spending my usual blogging time in the evenings preparing for today.

Elinor's Nine Year Old Spy Birthday Party.  The soon-to-be spies arrived promptly and dressed all in black-- for security reasons, of course.
They were taken deeper into the spy training center where they each received their spy kit.
Inside was a notebook, pen, glasses, cell phone, and watch.  It also contained a welcome letter with their code name written in code.  They used the attached master code breaker sheet to decipher their code using one of the five codes.  They had to figure out which code would work for their name.  Once they cracked their code name they received their official special agent badge.
From left to right by code name:  Striker, Shadow, Crusher, Commander Q (Abe), Stretch (Faith, Sherlock, Pacer (Bethany), Skinner (Cannon), Mask, Hunter, Maverick (Elinor), Laser (cousin Gentri), Blade, Femme (me), and Razor.  Then they were ready for the next phase of training. 
Laser avoidance.
It could be done successfully, but it was very challenging.  There were those who underestimated the difficulty and they suffered laser burns to severed limbs.
Pacer (AKA:  Bethany) was one of the few to make it through unscathed.
Skinner (AKA: Cannon) was little, but that didn't help him too much.
Next up:  Bomb detection.
 Two different teams took turns finding the hidden bomb somewhere in the house.
Master Spy Commander Q was in charge of training this elite team. 
The next phase was weapons accuracy and as Commander Q's assistant I prepared this magnificent cross-hairs pinata for them as a moving target.
Unfortunately our trainees were too powerful and it was quickly knocked to the ground and we couldn't string it back up.  So we improvised.  That's what good spies have to do, you know.
Swing around and take a whack at a ball in midair.  It worked.
Time to be sworn in as full-fledged special agents of the CIA.
Things I love about this picture:
Cannon saluting in the front row.
Elinor and Gentri looking at each other and laughing.  These two were eating it up.
The kid with the Civil War hat.  Why not wear your Civil War hat to spy training?
Immediately upon finishing the swearing in, Commander Q received an urgent message---- THE BIRTHDAY PRESENTS HAD BEEN STOLEN!  And hidden within one of the presents were secret jet plane plans.  There were two suspects-- rogue special agents in cahoots with the other side--- Viper and Covert (AKA:  Clark and his friend Taylor)
There was grave concern.  They listened carefully to get the details.
"How can this be happening at my birthday party???"
Some coded messages led them to the mailbox where they found evidence of the stolen presents and learned that they needed to go to the park to apprehend Viper and Covert.
And apprehend them they did.  And tackle them and pulverize them.
Commander Q told the spies to search Viper's and Covert's pockets, where they found more clues to decode.  The last code proved that Viper and Covert were innocent, and had been set up-- framed by Commander Q.  In a rage, the spies ran home to confront Q. 
He admitted his guilt, but said HE would have the last laugh-- he had activated the bomb and they would all be toast unless Maverick (AKA: Elinor) could figure out how to deactivate it. 
Thank goodness she did.  Red to red, green to green, yellow to yellow.
In desperation Commander Q threw himself into the red hot lasers and in his dying breath he told the agents where the birthday presents were hidden-- in his bedroom.
Time to celebrate their success and sing to the Spy of the Day!
As darling a group of children as there is anywhere on the planet!
Happy birthday, Elinor!  She is a girl with varied interests.
She was thrilled with the spy watch and the invisible ink/light pens.  She LOVES her nerf guns and super sturdy, 3-setting flash light. 
But she was equally ecstatic over the pillow pet, cooking supplies, nail polish and jammies.
Talk about well rounded.
And we love her to pieces!!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012


Thursday was field trip day for Clark, Bethany, and Elinor.  My dad took them to the Capitol to meet and greet our local representatives and watch the legislature in session.
The kids were so excited to spend the night at Grandpa's house the night before.  Elinor was bidding the rest of the family farewell as if our separation were going to be indefinite. 

I was very happy for them to have such a great experience learning how things work at the State government level.  But I was especially grateful to see that they could each pack their own overnight bag and not forget any essentials-- toothbrushes, underoos, shoes-- they remembered it all!
Here they are with Aaron Osmond-- our state senator. 
Abe met up with them at the end of the day to bring them home.  They were anxious to tell me all about their day, which was a fun change-- since I usually already know everything about their day because they are home with me:)

Do you know who Don Aslett is?

He is a cleaning guru.  He's written many books on cleaning and has a chain of cleaning supply stores and a line of cleaning products.  I own some of those products, which I do not use as often as I should.  But my point is, when Clark was cleaning the bathroom this morning he looked at the bottle of cleaning solution and it had Don Aslett's smiling face on the label.  Clark quite accurately pointed out that Don Aslett looks like a perfect mixture of both Grandpa Cannon and Grandpa Fox.

It's true!  He's right.  That is precisely what he looks like.

Speaking of funny things, we went to see the newest Muppet movie this evening.  We all LOVED it.  I was nearly in nostalgia tears many times.  I was glad we've subjected our children to so many Muppet shows and Donny and Marie shows, so they totally got the humor.  Such good, clean, wholesome fun.  Mahna Mahna.