Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Little Things Are the Big Things

One of George's favorite birthday gifts was a kit to watch caterpillars turn into butterflies.  I'm so proud to say we followed the directions correctly and had several butterflies to show for it.
I love this picture of everyone watching the last one fly away.  As beautiful as this picture is, I will tell you the truth.  Moments before Clark was banished back into the house because he kept trying to catch the newly released butterflies to feed to his lizards (or whatever reptiles/amphibians he houses downstairs).  Understandably, this was very upsetting to George.  Fly away free, little butterfly!
Look what's getting closer!  Now, you know my children are not known for their early walking.  We average 15 1/2 months, but Faith was 19 months before she finally got up and walked.  Peter does seem a little more determined than some, so he may push 14 months.  We won't hold our breaths.
Bethany made a relaxing place for George to rest.  Doesn't that look comfy?  Don't you wish someone would build you an adult size of that?  And then fan you and feed you grapes?
Clark, Bethany, and Elinor went to an outdoor dance Saturday night.  They had a really great time and I took several pictures I probably shouldn't have.  I even took a video I really shouldn't have.  Now, I would like Clark to continue to speak to me, so I won't post the video.
No, I really musn't.  Please, don't ask again.
But I can put up a few pictures??  At least until he sees what I've done.  Enjoy them while they last, as I may have to remove them once he checks the blog.
Elinor is there in the blue shirt.
Yeah, that's the one I probably shouldn't post.  They were really getting into it!  It was hysterical to watch.  Very dramatic.
You might have gathered this was not an ordinary youth dance.  This was mostly vintage dancing, which, thanks to Andrea, these kids have done for years and know most of the dances by heart.  In my humble opinion, it is the epitome of wholesome recreation for young people.
One of the things I am looking forward to the most this school year is teaching George to read.  This is really one of the most enjoyable things about homeschooling-- learning to read while snuggling together on the couch.  I've used Bob Books with all of the kids and while I'm sure there are a hundred first readers out there that would work just as well, these do the trick for us.
And of course, little Pete is right there in on the action.  George seems ready to read and is picking it up pretty well.  It is nice to have the confidence of having successfully taught older kids to read and thus being able to enjoy the process without much stress.
Guess who helped make dinner again tonight?
He also got up at 4:30 every day this week to take Clark to go do his road driving and drivers test with an instructor over in Draper.  I would have done it, but my goodness, I was so very thankful he volunteered.
And the result is...Clark is fully licensed now!  Yippee!!! Another driver!
He can only drive immediate family for six months, but that works great for me!
He's a good driver-- quite cautious and got 90% on his driving test.  I guess that means he will only be unsafe 10% of the time. Thank goodness!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Homeschool of Rock

I've got to admit it:  Homeschoolers don't generally rock "back-to-school" season as well as our public and private schooling families do.  We don't go crazy with back-to-school clothes shopping (Who's going to see us anyway?).  We don't go to any orientation or go practice opening lockers. (You already know how the house and locks work) We don't wait with baited breath to find out who our new teachers are or what schedules await us in the coming year. (Let's see, you have Mrs. Fox, Mom, the Lady of the House, and Mistress Fox).  Frankly, it can be a little anti-climactic.  We do buy school supplies like nobody's business--  72 spiral notebooks, 30 boxes of crayons, countless boxes of pencils (mechanical and Ticonderoga)-- Oh, yeah!

We do enjoy getting back into a routine and schedule, but compared with the back-to-school excitement of my youth, we aren't very impressive.

UNTIL THIS YEAR!  It's not that we did anything that different than we have in past years.  But maybe we're finally getting this homeschool thing down.  Because we ROCKED the back-to-school homeschool today!  GO US!
The picture of the day was the "Homies" after first period seminary at the high school.  This was Bethany's first day of seminary and she loved, loved, loved everything about it.  These kids all knew each other before and they are divided over four different classes, but still, it's pretty fun for them.  They told me there are several other homeschooled kids in the early morning period just before them.
Faith is holding her planner.  Her bless-ed, sacred planner.  The  custom planner I spend many moons working on.  It contains a page for each week to check off work, history reading schedules, passwords, coursework for the year, spelling test pages.  It is a work of art and I am exceedingly proud of each planner for each child.  I understand that not every child appreciates their planner as much as I would hope.  But no matter.  It is there for them to use as suits them.  It suits me to have the plan in place.
Just before I snapped this picture, Faith said to me (bless her heart), "MOM! I just love checking things off!"
Hello, favorite child!
This is how Clark spent his first day of homeschool.
No, actually he did do quite a bit of school work, but he had his first of three consecutive days of road driving with an instructor from 5-7 AM this morning.  Ugh.  But the good news is, unless the teacher feels otherwise, he should have his license this week.  Can you hear the hallelujah chorus?
Elinor started off the day reading her history book, Across Five Aprils and eating frozen corn in her pajamas.  If you can't occasionally homeschool in your jammies, what's the point?  Does any one else's children like to eat frozen corn and peas.  They are more likely to eat frozen veggies than cooked ones.  Weird?  I think so.
I was a little behind the ball in ordering our school books, so several boxes arrived today and we're expecting a few more this week.  As Clark groaned, the little kids cheered when each new box arrived.  Then we'd sing "Easy Street" from Annie.  You know where they are opening the envelope containing the other half of the locket and he makes a ripping sound and then starts singing.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, just know that we were singing in a jazzy, soulful kind of style and pretty much everyone joined in-- except the teenagers who I think were horrified.  It's understandable.
See for yourself.
There's really no excuse for posting pictures of myself like this.  Let me document to the world how awkward I really am.
Rocking out earlier in the day to the same tune. 
The sweet spot of the day as Bethany, with George's "assistance" making chocolate donuts for the family.  Just a lil' home economics.
At lunch time Elinor entertained us with what we call her "creepy face".   It is pretty funny and nobody can do creepy quite as well as Elinor!  Although, you notice George is trying to.
Peter rocked the Fantastic Mr. Fox tie and he is learning the art of smiling for the camera.  He had a pretty good day today.  We had nowhere to go, so he enjoyed regular, uninterrupted naps and mealtimes.
A lil' fine arts with music practice.
A lil' P.E. with Faith practicing her gymnastics.
A lil' technology--rocking out to her programmed NXT robotic guitar.
 We mustn't forget our artwork.  Faith helped George color a jungle.  It was lovely.
Bethany reading Tales of Ancient Egypt on the couch.  She read far more than she was "assigned", but who was I to stop her?
Abe even made dinner this evening, and as this is not a regular occurrence, it rocked my night.
Baby driver's ed.
Wrapping the day up with a Slurpee run.  Clark stayed home with a sleeping Peter, but Elinor is holding his to take home to him.
It was just a good, good day.  And it feels so good to me to be back-to-school.  I think if feels good to all the kids too, but they may need more than a day to admit it:)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Like Father, Like Son

When Abe was a teenager he enjoyed organizing and hosting murder mystery parties.  We still have all the boxes of the murder mystery games he collected over the years.
Confession:  I have tried to throw these games out numerous times.
In the most recent "Great Purge of 2015", I reminded my family that NO ONE had used them in about 15 years and they were just taking up space.  Abe rescued them from the DI pile and gave them to Clark for save keeping in his room in the basement-- where I wouldn't find them.
I admit, I'm glad he did, because Clark used "The Last Train From Paris" this evening for a big, fun group date.
Clark and I went on a date to DI yesterday to help him pick out his outfit to be a British Pilot in the 1940s.  I'm pretty sure his outfit is not historically accurate, but we had so much fun.  And, it was the first time Clark actually enjoyed clothing shopping with me.  EVER.
The Young Men in our ward have a funny thing of wearing ugly blazers from DI.  Now he's in the club with this little baby.  But this isn't the worst.  Truthfully, the worst is an absolutely hideous baby blue sports coat, that really would be a little too sacrilegious for church, but may someday make an appearance elsewhere.  We thought it was fantastic and well worth the $8 price tag.  There was a special little blue tie to go with it.
Here is the group.  The guys are all on the robotics team together and a couple of the girls knew each other.  Clark's date was a gal in our stake.
As you can see, our home was not the location of the evening's festivities.  They did it at London's house and London and Jacob's moms (and my good friends) Andrea and Adrianne made them dinner and helped serve.  I feel a little bad about that because I suggested Clark just go buy some chips and dip.  That would have been in poor form and not impressive to the ladies.
Thank you, Andrea and Adrianne.
 I should have gone to help out, just so I could be a fly on the wall and observe.  Opportunities to spy observe your child on a date are few and far between.
 Clark's eyeliner mustache was the inspiration for Cannon's artistic facial hair in a previous post.

My Cup Runneth Over

Parenting can be hard work.  There are days of endless laundry, dishes, cleaning, diapers, cooking, chauffeuring, disciplining, schoolwork.  But there are parts that are SO REWARDING, you almost can't stand the goodness.  Tonight was just such a night.
This past weekend Bethany began her career with the Lyceum Philharmonic Orchestra.  She auditioned in the spring and was surprised to make it in.  Beginning on Saturday she's been rehearsing for about six hours a day in preparation for nightly concerts at BYU's Education Week this week.  Abe and I went this evening and I was BLOWN AWAY!  They had a guest artist, Rodrick Covington, perform with them and it was inspirational, fun, spiritual, and impressive.  I apologize I'm gushing, but holy smokes!  I cannot believe Bethany has the opportunity to be a part of something so uplifting and is able to stretch and grow musically and spiritually at this time of her life.  I am so, so grateful.
And to see my daughter playing at BYU in the Harris Fine Arts Center where I did a bit of music myself at BYU was pretty incredible.  It was definitely worth any tears on her little violins over the years. 
Naomi was down at BYU for Education Week, so she joined us.
One more picture of the orchestra.  I'm betting no one would be able to find her here, so I'll try to describe where she is.  On the left side, four rows back, the third violin in.
Her first program.  They played Beethoven's 5th.  It was magnificent!
Now I'm just annoying.
I can't help it.  I'm so proud.
Second to last row, third in.
And I get to go hear her tomorrow night as well.  Lucky me.

Mr. Personality Goes to Camp

Oh, my, my, my!
Cannon is really something these days.  Last week he finished up a two week Youth Theater Camp at the University of Utah.  We've never been involved with this program before, and wasn't sure what to expect at the final day's showcase.  I was not impressed with the theater class Cannon participated in last school year, so I was slightly wary.  However...
I was thoroughly pleased with the experience for Cannon.  The little show they did and the songs and dances were adorable, completely age appropriate and well performed.  I didn't love the distance we traveled to get him there everyday for two weeks, but I think it was worth it.
I don't want to brag or anything... well, yes, I kind of do...  Cannon had the biggest part of his company.
He was a "Pout-Pout Fish" based on a children's book.  We couldn't get enough of him.
And we brought the whole gang to see him.  The only problem was those two little stinkers on the end.  Clark and Bethany had a hard time trying not to make Cannon laugh.  I did, in fact, have to go behind them and threaten their very existence if they didn't knock it off and stop making faces at Cannon.  Hopefully it will all help strengthen Cannon's ability to focus in the face of distractions.
Cannon really keeps us entertained.  There are happy sounds in this world and one of my absolute favorite is Cannon laughing.  He has a wonderful, high, giggly laugh that I think I will miss dreadfully when he's not a little kid anymore.  He easily laughs at himself and he's a joy.
And he struggles to take a normal picture. 
This evening he drew himself some facial hair... with a sharpie marker.
It started with the mustache and goatee, but then came the sideburns. 
He just doesn't stop.
But that wasn't all...
I think the uni-brow went a little too far.
Cannon, you are too much fun!