Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Our Trick Monkey

 Faith had her gymnastics recital last week.  They hold two back to back recitals at Hillcrest to accommodate their huge studio.  This picture is only half the studio.
Sometimes I fear we treat Faith like a performing trick monkey.  "Faith, entertain us!  Faith, do your tricks!"
Anyway, she is fun and she works so hard.  Her new class will be begin in June and I've told her she ABSOLUTELY HAS to learn to do her aerial before next Wednesday so she can get in the class that will work with our family's schedule. 
Yeah, no pressure or anything for the the poor little thing.  But I'm sorry, she simply MUST get it and get it good.  I am spotting her a lot this week and she is practicing so hard.  We shall overcome.

Here is the video of her recital.  Abe tries to point her out throughout, but she starts front and center and then is usually at the very far left when looking straight on.

Cannon was so proud of her afterwards he just had to give her a big hug.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

I've said it before, but I'll say it again.  Memorial Day is  every good thing about holidays-- family gathering, good food, feelings of gratitude.  None of the stress-- no gifts to give, fancy food preparation, house cleaning.  
The standing appointment is 9:00 at Wasatch Lawns cemetery with my Clark family.  My Dad was missing this year as he and Bev are still on their cross country trip visiting family and friends and doing genealogy work.  We're expecting them back this next weekend.  This is the first Memorial Day he's missed here in Utah for many years and we missed him.
Faith, Cannon, and Takara found a perfect tree to play in.  Bethany was the photographer and as you see the children were such naturals in front of the camera.
No, not really.
Elinor and I at Tessa's and my mom's graves.
The kids copied an idea they saw elsewhere at the cemetery, to put a pine cone heart around the grave.  These are the graves of my great-grandparents Franklin James Richards and Marie Larson Richards.
Our next stop was Memory Grove in Salt Lake.  We visited the marker for my Great Uncle Hugh whose ship sank in the Pacific in WWII.  I wanted a picture with all of my menfolk, but Clark was otherwise engaged.
Faith, the mistress of details, spotted a good-sized garter snake nearby and Clark, the Reptile Whisperer, captured it.  How exciting.  Unfortunately we already have an overabundance of reptiles at our house so this one had to be left behind to startle other innocent and unsuspecting visitors to Memory Grove today.
 When the weather is nice it is such a treat to dip feet in the City Creek.  The water was cold but that didn't stop them.
We went to Valley View cemetery next to visit my Cannon grandparents and great-grandparents.  Cannon and I had to get a picture together.  This boy absolutely melts my heart.  And he turns five tomorrow.  And now I'm going to cry.
Just a few rows over at the same cemetery are Abe's Jolley great-grandparents.  So the Jolley Foxes needed a picture together.  Clark was joking that he needed to change his name to Clark Jolley Richards Larson Badger Cannon Fox.  Then he could be the star at the cemetery!  He is kind of the star at Wasatch Lawns because that's where the Clarks are.
I loved that the cousins got to run around together all day.  Here are Brigham and Emi with George and Cannon.  Brig and her kids came over to our house for dinner yesterday so we've had a lot of great cousin playtime this weekend.
One of the most rewarding visits of the day was a trip to the old and humble Pleasant Green Cemetery just southwest of Magna.  My great-great-grandparents August Larson and Martha Larson are buried there.  It's quite a small cemetery and we weren't sure exactly where the site was, but Abe found it.  And lest you think I force Abe into the Memorial Day traditions, let us remember who the tradition czar in our family is!  Abe loves it and delights in sharing my family history with me and I love it.
The Larsons came from Sweden and August died in a mining accident only eight years after arriving.  They did not join the church before coming to Utah, rather she was a Baptist who joined the church five years after August died.  
Here's what surprises me every year on Memorial Day.  Nobody complains.  There are the necessary potty breaks and drink requests, but everyone seems to enjoy the day's activities.  I hope when the kids are grown this is something we will all enjoy doing with their families.
We had a perfect end to this holiday weekend by enjoying a hotdog cookout in the park with good friends.  Faith and Katelyn thought it was so funny that they had the exact same meal for dinner.
The guys spent much of the evening in the sand volley ball pit.   As the evening wore on the little kids ran out of energy and we sat around playing two truths and a lie.  It was hysterical to listen to Cannon and Jake try to come up with their lies and truths.  That must have been very confusing for them when we encouraged them to tell us lies.
We got a kick out of George crossing his legs and talking with us like he was one of the big kids.  
 Cannon's birthday is tomorrow and we're planning his party for this weekend, so George is really into talking about his birthday (in July)-- all day long.  It serves me right.  I was super obnoxious as a kid in anticipating and counting down to my birthday. 

Do you want to hear something beautiful?  As I have written this post I have enjoyed Bethany painting my toe nails and giving me a foot rub with Anne of Green Gables on in the background.  Life is good.

Family Time

A few more pictures of my time with my family in Virginia last week.
Once again, super crummy pictures and I am sorry, but they're all I've got.  Good memories, bad pixels.
On my first full day several of my family members headed downtown to see the sights, or at least as many sights as we could squeeze in a day.
The WWII Memorial was new since I'd last been to D.C.  It was much bigger than I expected.  I'm with my little 5 year old niece, Kaylee.  She had quite the endurance and trooped all over town with us.
The Lincoln Memorial is so solemn and impressive.
We made a brief visit to the Museum of Natural History.
I have been to all of these sights before so I didn't feel too bad about such short, surface visits.  Hopefully there will be other opportunities to go with my kids someday.  Although, it was so crowded with student groups that the thought of keeping track of all my children in such crowds gave me some anxiety.
It was great getting to all gather for the graduation at George Mason University.  I think all graduations are kind of boring for everyone except the people actually graduating.  This was no exception, except that it was ever so slightly more raucous than the last one we went to at BYU for Abe's brother.  BYU really keeps things formal and church like.  At this graduation they handed out beach balls for the graduates to toss back and forth.  Didn't seem very proper to me, but it was a little more interesting.
Thursday night we gathered for dinner at a most charming Italian restaurant.  It was quite authentic and delicious and we enjoyed reminiscing about our family's time in Rome during my freshman and sophomore years of college.
Chip and Laura were in good spirits and great hosts in their new apartment that they'd lived in for all of a week before they were inundated with house guests.
Can you believe my incredibly skinny good-looking brothers?  Who are these guys???  I'm so happy for them.
 My family discovered a place call Top Golf that was a driving range meets a bowling alley.  I'm not a big golfer so I was very happy to watch them play.  It was outdoors, but covered and they had really great food you could order and enjoy a really fun atmosphere.  

I enjoyed so much being with my family.  After our nice dinner out together I thought that if someday all of my grown children could sit down to a meal together and share memories, laugh, be genuinely interested in one another's lives and children, be nothing but pleasant to each other, and anxiously look forward to when they could all be together again-- then I would feel like I'd done something right.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

You Can Go Back

There were two reasons for my trip to the D.C. area last weekend.
My youngest brother, Chip (Peter) graduated from George Mason University in marketing.  My parents and siblings were all able to make the trip out for the big occasion and it was wonderful and I'll post more about this later.
The other reason was my high school, W.T. Woodson, had a 50th anniversary alumni band reunion.  Oh, it was such fun!
I have many pictures and many thoughts and memories I want to record and share, but to be honest I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed to think of needing to organize myself fully before getting it all down.  So I'm not going to organize myself too much.  I'm just going to begin.
And please keep in mind that I took all these pictures with my phone and they aren't very good and I feel quite badly about that.
 Okay, here's what you need to know.  In January of 1993 my family moved from the Monterey, CA area to the D.C. area.  My family settled in Fairfax, VA and I began my time at W.T.Woodson High School in the middle of my sophomore year.  I had been somewhat of a hotshot in my old band in CA, but I VERY quickly realized I was way out of my league in my new band program.  My new band director, Mr. John E. Casagrande miraculously put me in the top symphonic band having never heard me play.  I began frantic home practice like I'd never known before.  I guess it paid off.  By the time of my senior year I auditioned for and got the position of drum major for our marching band.  I loved everything about high school band.  "Mr. C." had such a positive impact in my life and I am forever grateful.  It makes me so happy to get a Christmas card from him each year.  He has told us we can call him "John" now, but NO WAY!  This man gets nothing but the utmost respect from me for the rest of my days.
And here's the other thing.  I had the most fantastic group of band friends for those 2 1/2 years that I lived in Fairfax.  Oh, they were wonderful.  We three ladies were as clean and pure as the driven snow.  The boys were perhaps a little more trouble, but in their own words today, "We couldn't get too crazy because we liked you girls and we cared what you thought of us."

For our junior year homecoming dance the six of us decided that we'd all go together and we'd draw numbers to determine who was whose date.  It worked out perfectly.  We're holding up the numbers we drew. 
After the concert Saturday night we had a meet and greet time in the cafeteria.  It was so good to see my friends' parents as well.  They were so supportive of all of us in high school and we thought of them as parents to us all.
If you are very observant you may have noticed my brother, Matt in the plaid shirt.  My whole family came to the concert and Matt played the Tuba for a little while at Woodson as well.

As far as the concert, I may or may not have had any business being up there on the stage.  I certainly enjoyed myself, but I may not have been worthy of my fellow alumni band members.  Many of them have continued to play regularly and several of the 80 or so participants are professional musicians or teachers.  And while I do teach my share of beginning/intermediate piano lessons each week, I don't think I was quite up to snuff.  Even still, I played my trombone heart out on those songs thinking it might be the last the time I play my trombone like that.
I can't say enough good things about how enjoyable it was to sit for hours and hours and catch up with these old friends.  I know it is not uncommon for high school friends to lose touch and then not have much in common many years later.  And truthfully, some of us don't have too terribly much in common anymore.  But there is still such a feeling of friendship and goodwill and loyalty for the great times we shared.  Perhaps that sounds kind of cheesy, but I think there is a lot of comfort in knowing that people who knew you when you were younger (and a lot sillier) still find your company worthwhile.
This is a bad picture of an old picture in a scrapbook, but do you see me?  I'm standing on the blue box with the red cape over one shoulder. 
Oh, good band times.  
You want to know something that makes me really happy?
Elinor is taking up my trombone and will be doing a summer band program at a local music store this summer.  Ahhh, it is music to my ears.  
Well, it not really music to my ears yet.  In fact it sounds pretty bad.  But it will eventually be music to my ears.  And I figure someone way back when had to listen to me when I first started.  She is giddy with excitement and she played Mary Had a Little Lamb today.  How fun for us both!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers' Day 2013

Thus far it has been a marvelous mothers day.  We had nine o'clock church so there was no time for messing about with breakfast in bed.  No matter.  I opened my cards from Abe and the kids moments before heading out the door.  One was a musical card that played the "Linus and Lucy" theme when it was opened.  The little kids were in hysterics and the game of freeze dance for Faith and Cannon began.  George's job  was to open and close the card to start and stop the music.  I wondered how Abe decided on this particular card, with this particular song?  You see, if he was home more he would hear Clark playing this song on the piano.  But no matter.  Good feelings abounded.

Church was great.  Fairly uneventful, but great.

When we got home I requested a pedicure from Bethany in preparation fro my big trip this week.  And then Abe brought me up one of his glorious omlets, and then I took a serious happy nappy on the couch while the kids watched a movie.  And now I'm sitting alone in my room blogging.  Oh, yes, I'd say that is as good as mothers day can get!

As I just mentioned, I am leaving for my big trip to the D.C. area this week; Wednesday to be exact.  I do have some concerns about the well-being of my family while I'm gone.  In an effort to calm my nerves I would like to air my concerns in the hopes that addressing them will help me to see that I need not be so worried.

---George is somewhat clingy around the house with many requests for "hold me" and "I'm hungry, mama".  Will my people hold him and feed him enough?  There will be a lot of people who are capable of meeting his little needs, but they all be so distressed with their own longing for mom that he might get overlooked?
Of course not.  He is loved by all, and he has never failed to make his needs known. 

---We run a pretty tightly packed extracurricular schedule.  Swim team, tae kwon do, dance, gymnastics, softball games.  There are a many places people need to be to.  But importantly, people need to be remembered to be picked up from said places.  I need to make a detailed schedule for Abe of who needs to be where and when.  But you now that detailed scheduling isn't really my strong suit, so I'm avoiding that task.

---I am playing the trombone in my high school's 50th anniversary alumni band.  I really should have practiced more.  And now I'm experiencing what many of my piano students experience each week when they have to come to lessons not having put in enough practice.  It's humiliating--- and I'm such a hypocrite!

---My children are not done with their school work this year.  Do I just give them the week off school since I have no way to enforce anything while I'm gone and I'm quite certain Abe doesn't want to pick up that stick.  Then again, what will they do with themselves if they don't have there school work to do?  Lots of moms get worn out during the summer with having their kids home all day with nothing to do.  I'd get worn out too if the kids were there all day with nothing to do.  The school work keeps them occupied. 

---You know when you have wonderful, magical memories of a really great time in your life, and years later you back and try to recreate it and it's nothing like you remember and you feel sad?  Well, I haven't experienced that, but I'm saving a little bit of worry for it, just in case. 
Not the smartest thing, I know.

---Do I go nut-so over the next couple of days trying to arrange everything here at home for the comfort of my people while I'm gone?  Or do I keep up my normal pace and let them fend for themselves?  If I let them fend for themselves they might appreciate me more, or they might just feel annoyed that they can't find any underwear or granola bars.

---I don't enjoy flying at all.  It's not because I haven't done it much.  I have-- quite a bit.  But I don't like it.  I do like that my sister will be next to me on the flight because we're also going for my youngest brother's college graduation.  She tends to keep her cool a little better than I do.  I just need to make sure I don't watch any movies with airplane crashes before I go. 

Alright, that's enough.  I could go on, but seeing my worries written out in front of me did just what I hoped it would.  I'm worrying needlessly and if it's annoying to me, I know no one else wants to hear it.

Let's move in a more positive direction.  The Top Ten Things I love about being a mother to Clark, Bethany, Elinor, Tessa, Faith, Cannon, and George:

1.  Hugs, and LOTS of them.  Soft, little arms squeezing my neck make me deliriously happy.

2.  Reading together.  We're going to finish The Shakespeare Stealer tonight.  I love it when a chapter ends at a suspenseful point and they beg and plead for my to keep reading.  Clark says, "Mom!  I forbid you to stop!"

3.  Going to church together.  Seeing them dressed nicely (once a week at least), behaving nicely (most of the time), learning about who they really are (children of God), and being together as a family.

4.  Attending their different activities and seeing each one develop and improve in something they love and are good at. 

5.  Watching the older kids help nurture and teach the younger kids.  Clark is devoted to happiness of his little brothers.  Bethany helping the girls with their clothes and hair.  Bethany choreographing a dance for Faith and cousin, Takara.  Elinor caring for George.

6.  Likewise, seeing the utter adoration the little kids feel for the older ones.  They are their world.  Cannon has such confidence knowing how much Clark loves him.  Faith knowing she is an equal part of the powerful girl trio.

7.  I love working on academics with the kids.  Cannon is learning to write his numbers and letters.  Faith is a full-fledged reader and a whiz at her math facts.  Elinor can do it all with ease; math comes easy, and reading is such fun.  Bethany loves to read and write and she loves to arts.  Clark loves his science, and as it turns out he may be better at algebra than he thought.  We work so hard and it is so rewarding to see the results.

8.  They forgive me when I mess up.  When I'm impatient and demanding and bossy and unkind, they are quick to forgive.

9.  I love that they are respectful and obedient.  I can take them anywhere and trust that they will behave well and help out where needed. 

10.  I love that they have the best dad in the world.  He is loving, and kind, and creative, and hard-working.

Happy Mothers' Day

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

10 Things I Probably Shouldn't Share

1.  It occurs to me that I get honked at on a more-than-regular basis as I drive my people around town.  It is possible, but highly unlikely, that the honking has anything to do with my ravishing good looks.  The fact is, I am a distracted driver.  Distracted by all of my offspring I'm driving around.  I get a good, nasty, mean-spirited honk at least once a month. Often there is an obscene hand gesture or aggressive reciprocal cut-off in addition to the honk.  I think that is suppose to teach me some sort of lesson.  I thought this was normal, but some friends recently told me they aren't getting honked at that regularly.  Now I feel bad.

2.  The other day I needed to leave the house relatively early with all the kids.  I couldn't find the little boys' underwear.  Was it dirty? Was it buried at the bottom of the laundry pile?  Who knew?  We just put their pants on and called it good.  For the record I went that very day to buy more underwear.  I do try.

3.  The kids finished their CRT tests this week.  We homeschool but we still do the end of year testing like the public schools.  The kids reported to me that they felt they did very well on them.  I hope so.  Because I am ashamed to admit that I demonstrated some not so attractive Chinese Tiger Mother parenting techniques in the preparations for these tests.

4.  Cannon got bit by a snake today.  He and Faith found a garter snake on the way home from a neighbor's house.  Cannon bravely went for it and successfully captured the snake.  And then it bit him.  But he was so happy. He said, "I knew Clark would be so proud of me!"  The kids caught 2 other garter snakes as well this week.

5.  And because 3 garter snakes aren't enough, Clark acquired a rather large ball python this week as well.  This was not caught in the neighborhood but from some guy on KSL classifieds.  You may remember the unfortunate demise of Ledge the gopher snake last summer.  It was entirely my fault, so I pretty much had to agree to the new snake.  So now we're wierdo reptile collectors.  Whatever-- we've always been wierdo reptile collectors.

6.  A couple of weeks back a neighbor friends posted on Facebook that she had several bags of clothes she had shrunk out of.  By the numbers they seemed to be my new size that I had shrunk into.  I quickly jumped at the offer to take them off her hands.  What was I thinking?  Good fitting clothing is more than just the size number.  She is markedly shorter and more well-endowed (you know what I mean) than me.  So pretty much nothing of hers fit like it should .  Now I have all of her clothing and need someone to take it off of my hands.  Any takers?-- size 8-10.

7.  If I have to listen to Clark play "Viva la Vida", "Axel F", "Mission Impossible", or" Fireflies" one more time I think my brain will explode and ooze out of my ears.  Sorry to be so graphic, but there it is.  The deal is he has to practice the piano for 45 minutes a day.  Whether or not he improves and progresses is up to him.  He seems content where he is.  Does he play these songs because he truly loves them, or is it to torment me?  I'm not sure he even knows the answer to that question.

8.  I offended Elinor today by suggesting that should she choose to wear her hair in pigtails, it would be better to not part her hair directly down the middle of her head.  This brought almost immediate tears and a hoodie to cover up her hair.   Perhaps I shouldn't have gone there, but seriously!  Is this worth tears?  This parenting of preteen and teenage girls could be much more treacherous than I anticipated.  I'm not sure I have the emotional chops for it.

9.  I recently purchased some items from IKEA to help in the organizational flow of our home.  Best case scenario is they work out just as I have envisioned and everyone miraculously begins to take responsibility for his or her belongings and the house is neat and orderly.  Worst case scenario:  I just bought more junk to temporarily place more junk on.

10.  I drove Clark and a van full of friends to another friend's birhday game night last weekend.  I knew I hadn't been doing a good job of keeping my car presentable, but you never know just how disgustingly filthy your car is until you have to drive your teenager's friends around in it.  I was mortified, and I don't mortify that easily.
Don't tell me they didn't notice anything. 
They did. 
I immediately returned home to clean out the car.  It was too little too late, but like I said before, I do try.

The Steampunk Ball

Well, now.  That was just fun.
My ever-daring and adventurous friend Andrea threw herself an awesome steampunk ball 40th birthday party Saturday night.  She told her three children they could each invite one friend to the ball and Clark and Bethany were two of the grateful recipients of those invitations.

You may be wondering, "What exactly is steampunk?"
And that would be an excellent question and might I suggest a quick google search for a  real answer.  But I describe it as Victorian meets industrial revolution meets science fiction meets alternate history.
Makes total sense, right?  Now you have a very clear picture in your mind, right?  Or not.
We interpreted it to mean we should all wear googles.
But that was not the only look of the evening.
Here's the birthday girl and her husband David.  She admitted it might be a little unorthodox to throw oneself a birthday party, but freely admitted that no one else could do it as well as she could.
And she is totally RIGHT!  The party/ball was so much fun.  There was much vintage dancing taught by  Kimberly Grant of  Old Glory Vintage Dancers.
We had so much fun in the photo booth.  This was supposed to be our sexy look.
Bethany and Raven were perhaps the most frequent visitors to the photo booth.
They were so darling dancing the night away.  When all the adults were complaining of tired feet they were still hopping and bopping about.
Moms and daughters.
Clark was actually quite a good dancer.  Sometimes the boy surprises me. Bethany and Abe were partners occasionally and I was so happy to dance with my 13 year-old man child.  You know he is taller than me now.
Well that's just scary.
Now we're serious.
The music for the evening was provided by TLC Trio.  If that name sounds familiar, it should.  I put out on Facebook yesterday a link to their newest music video that Abe and Bethany are both in.  If you haven't seen it yet, you really must.  Go here
TLC Trio also did a video a little while back to "Bad Romance".  They played it at the ball Saturday night and we did the same dance the dancers are doing in the video.  And it has a steampunk style so you can see a little more of what that's all about. Go here
Here's a full body shot.  No where near as fun as the photo booth, but you had to see Abe's great calves!
The whole evening was marvelously fun and different from normal life.  Normal life is good too, but it does seem a little drab this week after the fun weekend.  
Abe served as the M.C. for the evening and besides one really horrendous Jane Austen misquote, he was charming as usual.  I think he's charming in this picture.  
Here's the one of the great things about Andrea.  She gets an idea of something she wants to do or learn how to do.  Most people have ideas like that all the time, but then they think of all the reasons they couldn't or shouldn't do it.  Not Andrea.  She just thinks about how to make it happen.  I am so grateful for her example and friendship.