Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Livin' for the Weekend

Saturday found Clark and Bethany at a Speech and Debate tournament and Abe was working.  Miraculously, the five younger kids and I had nothing planned.  In an effort to encourage them to help with household chores, we called a few friends and planned a friend party for a couple of hours in the afternoon.  It can be a little loud and crazy, but it is nice to let everyone have friends over at the same time rather than drawing it out several hours over the whole day.
They all played quite well together and this was the cast picture for their play.  I was the audience and I tell you it was spectacular!

This group played a couple of fun rounds of musical chairs as well.  On the whole, I don't think people play musical chairs often enough.  People would be happier if they did.  It's a great game.
When was the last time you played? 
Elinor and Caleb made potions.  Caleb used to do robotics with Elinor and even though they are getting older and should have cooties at this point, they are still great friends and enjoy each others company.

Sunday evening was such a treat.  Not all, but much of my extended Cannon family gathered at my Aunt Jennifer's house to listen to my dad's generation reminisce and tell stories about my Grandma and Grandpa, Glen and Joyce Cannon.  There are five siblings, my dad being the oldest by six years.  All of them have such beautiful, fond memories of their parents and it was inspirational to hear how they deal with adversity, served others, and loved one another.  
It just filled me up and I felt so grateful to be a party of such a family.

Then came something totally unexpected.  Uncle RayPaul and his sons, Taz and Issac have formed a band of sorts.  They started rocking out with my very straight-laced dad and Sherriff Uncle Spencer singing leads-- and they all sounded GREAT!  It was our very own rock concert!
Okay, maybe they were a little stiff, but I'm telling you, they sounded great.  Know what else I loved?  Do you see little Georgie in the corner?  He rocked out on that guitar for about three songs straight. 
When he got too tired to stand he just went down to the ground and grooved some more.  
He only left his guitar when the mini cymbals called out to him.  He was like a little monkey with cymbals.  And I don't want to brag or anything, but the boy was spot on with the beat.  At least we know he has a sense of rhythm.  And he was so focused and stuck with it for a couple more songs.  Maybe he'll be ready for piano lessons sooner rather than later.  Or maybe we'll just go straight to cymbal lessons.
 Well, then things just got crazy. 

You Look Marvelous, Darling!

When the kids returned home from their cruise they were talking about having their picture taken as they initially got on the boat.  That picture was then used for security checks when they re-boarded at different ports.  Then we all got silly joking about what faces they "should have made".

I will share.
Really, there are no words.
Oh, that is scary!
My apologies for this one.  I taught them this.
That's creepy, Els.
She is like a little rodent.

Speaking of rodents, after months and months of begging, cajoling, writing persuasive arguments for and saving their money--- Elinor and Bethany both are the proud new owners of hamsters.  Oh joy!  I don't wish to say anymore about that.  It's just that they look an awful lot like the mice we buy and then feed to Clark's pet snake.  Did I mention Abe is the one who finally agreed and took them to the pet store? 

Okay, back to our glamour shots.
Attractive, no?
Just getting lovelier with age.

Clark wished not to be photographed, although I cannot imagine why he wouldn't want to join this menagerie.  He did do some serious driving today with Abe.  Actual freeway driving.  It is best I was not there, but Abe was and now he says he is suffering from a stress headache.  Although he tells me Clark did a great job.  Having so many children seemed like such a good idea until I think that we will now have to teach them all to drive.  Homeschooling them for 12 years seems less daunting to me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On the Occasion of Abraham's 40th Birthday

Today is a day Abe has been looking forward to for a long time.  Forty years ago today, Abraham Jolley Fox was born and the world is a happier place because of it. On the occasion of this, his 40th birthday, I offer forty things I love about Abe (in no particular order).

1. He loves to do the driving on long road trips with our family.  His record is 18+ hours.  He stays alert by drinking Diet Pepsi, tormenting his children with Totally Awesome 80's music, and discussing baby names for our future children.

2. He is very supportive of me in my endeavors-- homeschooling, teaching piano lessons, book clubs, you name it.  If I want to do it, he helps make it happen.

3.  He frequently tells stories to the children.  Stories from his childhood, made up stories about "bear-dragons", adventure stories of little children suspiciously like the ones he is addressing.  The little kids love it when he has a later morning at home and they catch him in bed before he gets up.  Abe shouts out, "It's time for Morning Stories!" and they all pile on the bed to snuggle with dad and be entertained.  He's way better than any cartoon on TV.

4.  Abe and his brothers played a lot of hours of D&D when he was a teenager.  That love has been passed down to many of our children.  At least they all have a working vocabulary of what the different types of fantasy/D&D characters are and what powers they have.  A recent dinner conversation was deciding what kind of character the different members of our family would be in a fantasy world.  I told them all that such a conversation would never have happened around my dinner table while growing up.  Consequently I was deemed a witch and I do believe someone yelled, "Burn her at the stake!"  I didn't love that, but I do credit Abe with fostering their imagination and creativity.

5.  Abe does not like me to buy him new clothes.  He wears his shoes out completely before he can be convinced to buy new ones.  High fashion is not a motivator to him and no one would mistake him for a metrosexual.  He is, however, grateful when I find a killer deal and force new clothes upon him.

6.  Abe is kind.  He never tries to one-up anyone.  He feels very badly if he feels he might have hurt someone's feelings.

7.  I'm not sure if Abe notices when the house is a mess.  Even when it is really, really bad.  If he does notice, he never says anything.  I love that about him.  He does, however, notice when there is a sticky spot on the floor, like spilled juice.  He used to notice that and used to question me about it.  "What is this sticky spot on the floor?"  I told him if it bothered him he was welcome to clean it up; which he now does without ceremony or interrogation. 

8.  Abe is very detail oriented.  I'm not.  By request, he regularly edits my writings for me. 

9.  Abe loves a good party for any occasion, and while he's not much of a house cleaner usually, he goes all out cleaning up if we're having anyone over to our home.

10.  And the reason he cleans up so much for guests is that he has good manners.  He sees it as a sign of respect, to show we cared to make things nice for our guests.  He is a gentlemen, always wanting to make people comfortable.  Abe is always polite and a great person to have around to break the ice or make conversation in an awkward or uncomfortable situation.

11.  Abe is always happy and willing to go pick up our teenagers from late night social functions.  I'll offer to go if he is really tired or if he has an early morning, but he usually takes the job upon himself to spare me a late night drive.

12.  Abe loves to be home with his family.  As much as he loves a party, he is never happier than when we have an evening at home together.

13.  Abe is so easy to please with food.  I try to make a nice family dinner almost every night, and yet he seems genuinely surprised and overcome with gratitude at each sit down family meal.  His favorite is a leftover spaghetti dinner.  He likes it the first night as well, but he loves left over spaghetti.

14.  Abe bears his testimony of the gospel and his gratitude for the church easily and frequently.  He is grateful for his parents and their example of faith.

15.  He says yes to the children's requests when I've said no for no good reason.  It's never in a way that disrespects me, but rather he'll take the time to harmlessly indulge them when I'm too busy to notice something that is really important to them.

16.  Abe loves his mother and regularly calls her to check in and talk with her.  They are cut from the same bolt and two of the most selfless people I know.

17.  Abe is quick to apologize if he has behaved badly.  To me or the children, he is the first to acknowledge his fault.

18.  Abe has joined the ward choir.  He doesn't read music and struggles to learn his part at times, but he enjoys associating with the good people in the choir.

19.  Abe works so hard.  I won't talk about the insane hours he works during the second half of the year, but I am so grateful.  I can't complain about my job difficulties at home when I know he is up early and working late and doing it all for us.

20.  Abe is very diplomatic.  He is able to diffuse what could be a heated situation.  Whoever he is talking with and in whatever the setting-- he asks or discusses in such a friendly manner that he usually gets what he is after.

21.  Abe does not enjoy change.  He finds what he likes or what he's comfortable with and sees no reason to change course. When he finds a restaurant he likes, that's where we go for several months.  Our current favorite-- Costa Vida.

22.  Although he does not enjoy receiving them himself, he gives a most marvelous foot rub, of which I am the lucky recipient of.  He also gives a very good back rub, but only to me or his dad.  Strong hands from years of milking cows.

23.  If the children wake up during the night and come into our room, Abe is always the first to help them.  He likes to sleep closest to the door so he can catch them before they get to me.  He is also a very light sleeper, while I sleep very deeply, so they really have no chance of getting past him.  Not that they'd want to.  They know he will help them feel better.

24.  Abe is so very thoughtful.  If he can think of doing something that will make someone more comfortable or help them out, he will do it.  If I'm driving somewhere new he will print out a map for me.  If I am going somewhere fun with the kids he will remember to put the camera in my bag.  If he plans something he makes sure all the parties involved have all the details and are taken care of.

25.  Abe is the best cheerleader.  He is the loudest and most enthusiastic fan at the children's sporting events, and it's not because he actually cares about the sport or winning or losing.  The children may be embarrassed at times, but they know their dad loves them.

26.  Abe loves family history-- his and mine.  He is a strong supporter of activities and gatherings that honor and pay tribute to our ancestors.  I'm embarrassed that he probably knows more about my family history than I do.

27.  Abe is very dependable.  If he says he is going to do something, it is as good as done.  I find that invaluable when it comes to him picking up children from various locations.  Also he is very diligent in fulfilling callings at church.

28.  Abe loves his daughters and tells them how beautiful they are.

29.  Abe loves cold cereal more than any grown man should.

30.  Abe is a fair weather sports fan who spends very little time actually watching sports, but he does keep up to date with the sporting world by reading the sports section of the morning newspaper.

31.  He keeps up on current events and explains them to the kids in a way they can understand.

32.  Abe loves watching movies-- all genres:  action, fantasy, old black and white classics, musicals, British period, romantic, comedy.  If I fall asleep during a movie, I'd much rather listen to him recap the movie than go back and finish it myself. 

33.  Abe is a great sport in board and card games.  Unless those games involve me lying to him.  I usually skunk him in games that involve lying, but he wipes the floor with me in games of strategy.  He did, however, recently graciously accept defeat at the hands of Clark in a game of Stratego.

34.  Abe doesn't blame other people when things don't go well for him.  He accepts responsibility for his actions.

35.  Abe naturally sees the goodness in other people and doesn't waste energy thinking or speaking ill of others.

36.  Abe's middle name is Jolley and he was aptly named.  He is cheerful by nature and by choice.

37.  Abe is very persistent and doesn't give up easily.  It seems a small thing, but when the remote control has gone missing, we all appreciate his patience and persistence in finding it.

38.  Abe is not afraid to put himself out there and show off his talents.  He recently agreed to join the kids and me in auditioning for Bluffdale City's production of The Wizard of Oz.  Little did he know he and I would be cast as Uncle Henry and Aunt Em!  It may the fist time in the history of the play that Uncle Henry will sound a little like William Shatner.

39.  It is very important to Abe that the milk gallon jug lids not be misplaced and put away in the fridge without a lid.  I don't really care at all because I figure the milk will be gone soon enough.  We discuss this difference of opinion far more often than we should.  He is not me and he does somethings differently than I do.  Thank goodness.  My family does not need two of me.  We need him and his gifts and talents.

40.  Abe loves his family.  We know he'd rather be with us than with anyone else in the world.

Happy birthday, my love.  We are so blessed to have you. 

Family Fun

My step-sister Candee is working hard to secure her position as a favored aunt to George.  At a recent family gathering George was taking numerous cupcakes, licking the frosting off, and then throwing the cake part away.  Aunt Candee just gave him the tub of leftover frosting and a spoon.  He could hardly believe his good fortune!  After a few bites he said it was burning his throat-- I guess that is how a four year-old describes something that is too sweet.
Elinor has a new cute blouse.  She and I had to do a bit of shopping on Monday because we have a disagreement almost every Sunday morning.  Our point of contention is a white linen skirt that she loves and wants to wear every single week.  Call me vain, but it drives me nuts.  We found some new skirts and a shirts and we've agreed that the dreaded white skirt will only make an appearance once a month.  
Family gymnastics time with dad.  Abe was showing off his good head stand form.
Faith is still working on perfecting her round-off, back handspring, back tuck.  When she gets close to getting a trick, we will pick a reward for her for really intense practice and then success.  Her goal is to do 150 back handsprings a day, six days a week for two weeks.  Her teachers say she can only do the tricks her body is strong enough and ready to do, and this is what they recommend for building her strength.  
The mad scientists performing experiments with the humidifier.
A formal tea party.  What an interesting table setting!
The tea party goers.
The game was like bumper cars with laundry baskets.  These three are great fun, coming up with all sorts of fun games together.  I loved watching Clark, Bethany, and Elinor when they were younger making up games and playing together.  It makes me so happy and I feel so blessed to get to experience three close siblings being so involved in each others worlds again.  I will say that these three are louder and more physical in their activities.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Book Club

If you're going to have a kids' book club about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory you simply must have some candy.  And really, the more candy, the better.  We decided to have a movie party for this book club.  I have never before done a movie as part of book club-- since it's a club about books, not movies.  But this is one case where I feel the movie is at least as good as the book, if not better.  We watched the older, musical version because the new one with Johnny Depp is creepy.  It could be argued that the older movie is creepy too, but not as creepy.
This is how I got them to take such a nice picture  (see previous picture).  I told them to save up all their crazy eyes and tongues sticking out and bunny ears for a super awesome crazy picture.  They didn't disappoint.
And then they were very cooperative, lining up youngest to oldest to pick out their candy treat and bag of popcorn.  Better than a movie theater!
I am pleased to report that there were no tears regarding who got what candy.  That's more impressive that it might seem.  This could potentially have been worse than a kids' gift exchange.
I knew the nerds would go fast.
Normally, my older girls do not join in the kids' book club festivities.  They've moved beyond.   I suppose a movie in the middle of the day and candy and popcorn was enough to pull them back to their book club roots.
This man-child was not to be lured away from the task at hand-- school work.  He was, however, interested in the candy.  Which candy I said he could have if he at least let me take his picture.
And Peter as Baby Cupid has nothing whatsoever to do with the book or book club, but we thought him pretty cute.
Later in the week we tended a little baby who is couple of months younger than Peter.  It was fun to have a little taste of having twins for a few hours.  A few hours is really all I think I need-- too rich for everyday.   

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Adventures of the 4 CrazyCruisers

Abe here.  Last week I went on a week-long cruise with our 3 oldest children, and what an UNFORGETTABLE experience it was!!!
(Also, it might take you a week to get through all of the pictures I've posted, no apology here....just fair warning)
Elinor, Bethany, Clark and I on the BEAUTIFUL beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!!  This is maybe my favorite group pic from the trip.
Our trip started by driving down to Las Vegas and staying one night.  Betsy posted a few other Vegas pics in a previous blog, but here are Beth and Els enjoying some outdoor pool time in January!

Our hotel room # was 222.....and we thought that was a good sign/omen for the adventures that lay before us.
We made it to Long Beach, CA, with some time to spare before boarding started for the cruise so Clark suggested we check out the beach!
After boarding (which took quite awhile) and getting settled in our cabin, it was time for our first, of MANY, very nice meals in the main dining hall.  There we met Joseph, our very nice waiter for the week.
Monday (Jan. 5th) was our first full day on board Carnival's The Miracle and it was a "day at sea" as we traveled south to Mexico.  The greatest memory I will take from this trip was simply holding hands with one or both of my two beautiful oldest daughters SO MUCH!!!
 Elinor and I on one of our many daddy-daughter dates during the week!!
There was 24-Hour Unlimited ICE CREAM!!
Abraham Jolley & Clark Abraham showing off black polos for dinner Monday night.
A nice view of our ship late that evening.
One very cool aspect of the cruise was the youth activity programs that Elinor, Clark and especially Bethany enjoyed participating in.  DodgeBall at almost midnight!!
Tuesday we arrived at Cabo San Lucas, at the very southern tip of the Baja California peninsula. We actually saw a whale and some dolphins as we neared shore.
Playing some mini-golf right before going ashore at Cabo.
The Winder Farms gang took 2 big passenger vans to a snorkeling beach.  (Check out Clark's head peering from the floor at the back.)
The Fox kids were privileged to ride in the very back of the van.  They LOVED it!!
Here is the whole Winder group at Santa Maria beach at Cabo.
The snorkeling was wonderful even if the visibility wasn't the best due to it being a bit overcast and windy.
I'm grateful Clark, Beth & Els are such strong swimmers.  Accordingly, they quickly became snorkeling experts.
Bethany going snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean!
The Foxes chasing The Fishes.
Elinor LOVED investigating the tide pools in the rocks near the beach and she even collected several beach critters including a sea urchin and sea snail she brought home as pets.
One last pic before leaving this very fun day at the beach.
Wednesday morning we docked in Puerto Vallarta and immediately grabbed a taxi to the Zoo.  In America, I believe all zoos have signs that say DO NOT FEED the animals. Well......
In Mexico, they hand you a bag of food to specifically go feed all the animals!!  It was HILARIOUSLY FUN!!
I had just told Beth that Llamas can spit on you.
After the Zoo, we shopped for souvenirs and then it was off to the beach again. We went from a very secluded beach in Cabo the day before to a completely jam-packed beach at Puerto Vallarta.  Both wonderfully fun!!
Els & Beth soakin' up the sun.
And more swimming.
A group of performers came by looking for tips and put on quite a show for us. 
We were completely wiped by Wednesday's end.  Consequently, we slept WAY IN Thursday morning (it being a day at sea) and I didn't take a single picture until that evening when I went to the extra-nice restaurant on board with several of the Winder group.
This was our cabin for the 4 of us.  We REALLY got to know one another last week!
  This last shot was taken right before our final dinner on Friday.  Thursday and Friday were 2 of the LAZIEST days of my life as we sailed back to Long lazy I hardly took any pictures.  
  On Saturday, I was so glad to get home, give Betsy a big hug and kiss and see the Little Rascals again!!  But I'll ALWAYS treasure this probably once in a lifetime chance with my three oldest!!