Friday, June 28, 2013

She Got It

You may have already heard me discussing a little dilemma we've been having with Faith's gymnastics class.  Her studio changes classes around at the beginning of June right after the Spring recital.  She was assigned to a class that simply will not work with my piano schedule, especially once school starts.  I told the director it must be changed.
She told me Faith had to have her aerial to be moved up to the next class.
I told her she would get it.  Then I asked how we should go about helping her to "get it".
She told Faith to do 150 round-off back-handsprings in sets of five six days a week.
I said "Done".

It was definitely easier said than done.  Holy smokes!  We spent a lot of time every day building up her strength by doing these back-hand-springs.  Faith was a trooper, but I'm just going to say that I was a trooper too.  I kept track of them and encouraged, cajoled, praised, threatened, rewarded, and anything else I could think of to keep her on track and get them done.  And we did not miss a day for over a month!

Do I sound like a crazy mom?  I don't deny that I may in fact be a crazy mom, but in this case I feel that my efforts were justified.  And although it took longer than I expected and was feeling like giving up (never mind what poor Faith was feeling-- she was the one hurtling herself through the air) SHE GOT IT!!!  She got it at class last week and she now she can do them at home-- which means she really has it.
The good news?  She has successfully landed about 15 aerials at home.  The bad news?  She is still not quite up to 50% landing rate, which means she still has quite a few uncomfortable landings.  But she is tough stuff.
The take-off.
At this point I'm always holding my breath.

I wish I had an awesome camera.
Please, please land it!
Her goal is to be able to successfully do one for her talent at the Fox Family Talent Show.  She'll have to practice a bit more.  I'm a afraid that Faith landing on her head would upset Grandma.  We'll have to get up to at least a 75% landing rate.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Family Campout 2013

Our girls have been asking to do a family camp-out for the last couple of years.  Clark and Abe camp a lot with scouting activities, but the girls haven't had a chance to camp much besides sleeping in a tent in the backyard, which hardly qualifies as camping.
Fortunately for us, our wonderful friends, the Johansens, invited our family to join them on a two day camp-out up Big Cottonwood Canyon at The Spruces.
We camped a lot when Clark, Bethany, and Elinor were quite small, but it just got to be too hard.  I  decided that I didn't like camping and only wanted to campout in a tent in the backyard.  I'm so happy to have gone on this wonderfully enjoyable camp-out to discover that I do like camping!  I'm not as unreasonably scared of bears as I thought, we all slept well, and had a ton of fun. 
 It helped a lot that the Johansen kids were so helpful with my little ones.  Faith was glued to Matthew as we sat around the campfire.  He was so kind to let her be his teammate for games.
George had so many arms to hold him and laps to sit on.  He was a happy camper.
The young women.  This was a good trial run before they go to girls' camp next month.  They enjoyed getting to spend one of the nights in their own tent.
Abe proclaimed he had created the perfect smore.  When we were buying our smores supplies Abe wanted to buy cinnamon graham crackers.  I didn't think anyone would want cinnamon ones and that we should just get regular.  I had to admit I was very wrong.  Everyone wanted cinnamon and commented how good they were.  I even tried it with cinnamon graham crackers and it was better than regular.  I'm a believer.  
Faith liked getting really messy with her smore.
George's favorite activity was standing in this hollowed out tree stump and throwing pine cones into the stream that went right by our campsite.
Abe and I celebrated our 16th anniversary up at camp, sharing a tent with our six children.  How romantic.  Well, maybe not so romantic, but very fun.
The highlight of the trip was a four mile round trip hike to Dog Lake.  There were some rather steep portions and we all woke up very sore this morning.  Our family isn't really big into hiking-- not that we don't enjoy it, we just don't think to do it very often.  But it was great and I think we should do it more often.
Michelle and I brought up the rear on the way up and helped any stragglers (Elinor) along.  Els got a little discouraged on the way up, but was much happier on the way down.
We didn't see a whole lot of Ben and Elinor around camp because they were off in the forest building forts.  The other kids built a lot of forts as well, but it seems like these two were the most dedicated.
Here is Clark in a fort that he helped build, but it was eventually named  "BE Fort".  That's B for Ben and E for Elinor.
Apparently French braiding is all the rage when you camp and you "have to know how to French braid if you go to girls' camp".
There was plenty of time for sitting around and playing card games.
Abe made a very tasty pancake and sausage breakfast this morning.  Abe isn't much for cooking at home, save Christmas morning breakfast and an omlet lunch once a year or so, but when we're away from home he is quite a good cook.
He deserved that hefty stack of pancakes and sausage.
Clark and I love playing Mafia around the campfire.  We both lie so well.  We were both mafia together and we totally ruled!  It feels so good to be bad.
The little boys really tuckered themselves out playing so they happily and easily went down for naps and bedtime.
Cannon insisted on a whole series of posed woodland shots.  I'll just share one, but they are pretty funny.  Cannon was quite a pleasant little camper to have around.  Except for the two times he got mad about something and went to go sit in the woods alone and didn't answer when we called for him.  No bueno.  Time-out tent for you, my dear.
But besides that, it really was a great time.  We had a bit of sun and a bit of rain, but it was pleasant and comfortable. Besides being stinky, I think I could have enjoyed staying for longer.  I hope we can get back to making a camping trip an annual event.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

3 Out of 10

Yesterday was not such a good day.  If I had to give myself a mothering score on a scale of 1-10 it would be a 3.  I'm not on drugs, I did prepare two meals, and I even did a couple loads of dishes;  so I do not believe I deserve lower than a three.  But it wasn't pretty and by the time I went to bed (in tears) I was ready to turn in my mom badge. 

That's how it goes sometimes.  I feel better today and I'm grateful for Abe talking me down off the cliff.  (Not the literal cliff, don't worry).  Sometimes as a mom I look at my children and I think, "Hey, we're doing okay.  I think this family thing is working pretty well.  Look, all our hard work is paying off."
And then other times I think, "What? How did I not see that coming?  We are not doing so well.  Where did I go wrong?"
I talked with a good friend who is a little further down the mothering path than I am.  She was a kind listening ear as I concluded that it is hard for me to realize that for all my efforts and good intentions, my children are their own people and they have things to learn and they will make their own choices.
  They will make mistakes and they'll learn and it's okay. 
And I have to make peace with that. 

For those of you with older children who are reading this, you're thinking, DUH???  But I am in the next stage in the journey of vanishing parental know-it-all theories.  This journey begins when young couples with no children know all the answers to child rearing and are happy to share their wisdom.  And it ends with truly wise grandparents who are well aware of their failings and consequently are very cautious in dispersing any sort of advice to the younger generation.  I'd say I'm somewhere in the middle, but definitely headed towards the latter. 

Yesterday at Family Home Evening (Abe called it-- I was in no state) I gave the children the five rules of summer that MUST be obeyed.  They seem simple enough, but I think they will spare a lot of heartache.

1.  Close all the doors to the outside.  Never leave a door open.

2.  All beverages must be consumed in the kitchen.  Do not take any drinks outside the kitchen

3.  Do not use clean dishrags to wrap your Otterpop in while you eat it.  It's not that cold.  If you want to eat Otterpops, you must deal with the discomfort of the cold. 

4.  You must have express permission to use the Sharpie markers.  And if you use the Sharpie markers you MUST put them away.

5.  Do not put a clean article of clothing into the dirty clothes.  This seems obvious.  That is the height of laziness.

We are well into summer now and like all mothers-- homeschool or public school it is not really a smooth transition.  The free time and "creativity" was charming for the first couple of weeks.  Now it is making me a little crazy.  I find it sad that my biggest summer challenge is forcing myself to relax and have fun. As my sister-in-law Lori has said, "It never pays to have fun."
 In my defense I am pretty sure I used to be more fun and I think I may be fun again someday.  It's just right now the price of fun is pretty high.  But I shall try!  I will be fun again!  Just let me check the schedule first and make sure we don't have anything else going on.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Science Camp-- Reptiles and Amphibians

Recently I encouraged Clark to come up with some sort of business idea to make some money with his large reptile collection and extensive natural science knowledge.  We thought about it and came up with the idea for him to host three different 2 hour summer science camps. The first one is reptiles and amphibians, second is rocks and volcanoes, and third will be creepy crawlies (worms, spiders, insects).  Each camp will be complete with a snack and craft and handling animals or experiments.
He planned out what he would do at each one and I helped him send out the info to everyone we could think of that had kids ages 4-8 who might be interested.  
And they came!  Clark was so happy to have people sign up.  It's a scary thing to put yourself out there like that whether your 13 or 35!  
He had eleven kids for his first camp and it was just right.
And I must admit, I was one proud mama!  He spent hours preparing his teaching time.  He talked about what makes a reptile and an amphibian, different types of reptiles and amphibians, their defenses, and where they live.  He did a great job.
He was so well prepared and the kids loved answering the questions.
But it just got better and better.  They got excited when they got to touch the snake skins.
They went crazy went they got to touch a real rattle from a dead rattlesnake that Clark cut off himself at Scout camp.
 Then came the fun part of getting to hold garter snakes.  Amazingly no one was scared or freaking out.  Maybe that's only adults.
Cannon is kind of an old pro.  In fact, I think he caught one of the snakes himself.
Here are the fire-bellied toads.
The slider turtle outside.
Here are our snakes on sticks for our snack.
Our clothes pin alligator they made for a craft.  
Everyone was able to make one and they turned out quite well if I do say so.
George even insisted on doing his by himself.  I think the blue shirt is probably toast since it's now covered in green paint, but I appreciated the "can-do" attitude.  Truthfully, I think I saw some green paint in his hair as I got him ready for church today.
This was a good experience for Clark.  He and Bethany worked together-- he did most of the teaching, Bethany was more in charge of the craft and snack.  Don't worry, Bethany gets a cut of the profits.  They are thrilled to be able to make some money doing something they enjoy so much.  
If you want in on the remaining two camps, the dates are July 13th and August 24th. 

Happy Father's Day 2013

Happy Father's Day!  As I write this Abe is at church with 5 of our children because I'm home with Faith, who is not feeling well.  I offered to let him stay home with Faith so he could rest and relax on Father's Day.  I knew he was worn out because he's worked 14+ hour days on both Friday and Saturday.  But he wanted to go be with the kids and the hear them sing Father's Day songs in Sacrament Meeting.  He is a great dad and a wonderful husband.  We are so blessed to have him.

Thursday night we went on a much needed date downtown.  Abe had gotten a nice gift card to Tucanos (a Brazilian Grill).  We enjoyed each other's company, but I think Abe enjoyed the meal a bit more than I did.  A little too much meat for my taste; however, the grilled pineapple was quite delicious.  It was a pretty pricey meal, so I don't think we'd ever go their on our own dime, but since it was free I could enjoy it without worry.
 It's summer, so I must be a little more relaxed, but I allowed myself a happy-nappy the other day.  Just conked right out on the couch.  It was lovely.  But there's always a price to pay for such an indulgence.  In this instance the kids immediately threw a painting party.
But they didn't just paint on paper.
There was face painting as well.
There are some things best done without permission.  If they had asked permission I'm quite sure I would have denied them.  No, you may not get out the acrylic paints and make a huge mess and paint each others' faces.
No, you may not turn Elinor into an "Italian football player".
But since I was napping, and they knew better than to disturb me to ask permission, they just proceeded with what seemed like a very fun, relatively harmless idea.  
And they were right.  No harm was done, creative juices flowed, and they cleaned up the mess.  
And perhaps for insurance against a mom who might not be so pleased when she awoke to the mess, they painted some mathematical formulas and polluted ocean painting as well.
Truth be told, this was very wise of them and did play into my pleasant reaction.
On Thursdays we have a neighborhood park day that several of the families with young children join in.  To the delight of the mothers, Bethany and Elinor usually come along as well and play games with all the kids.  This little service allows the moms to relax and visit while the kids are totally entertained.
Abe brought home a lot of left over lemonade from Winder this weekend.  The kids wasted no time in setting up a lemonade stand and they did pretty well.  When it comes to lemonade stands I'm always torn between encouraging entreprenuership and sparing my neighbors the hassle/guilt.  Fortuntately for the kids, we have generous friends and neighbors.