Sunday, November 27, 2016

Adios, Schramm

See the guy in the middle with the gray coat and glasses.  He is known as "Schramm" round these parts.  He's also an important member of the D&D group that meets regularly in our basement.  We first met Schramm  (aka Jakob) about six years ago when he was 12 and I started teaching him piano. Since then our families have been connected in several ways-- robotics, book clubs, younger sibling piano lessons, mom homeschool nights, summer barbeques.  We love, love, love their family.  This was Friday night-- the last night of D&D before he leaves on a mission.
Today was Jakob's mission farewell.  He gave a beautiful talk about faith and I know he will be a marvelous missionary in Monterey, Mexico.
But in the meantime, Clark will certainly miss his good buddy.
I'm not really supposed to post pictures of the D&Ders, as per Clark's request, but it is my blog afterall.  And these are for Jakob's dear mother (and my good friend) who has an emotional week ahead of her with her eldest flying away for two years.
Please forgive me, Clark.
And then they met at the church for the farewell.  Let's be honest-- these are some of the smartest, geekiest boys I've ever met.  I mean "geeky" as in, going to rule the world someday.  They are funny and polite and good, good guys.  I could not be happier about the friends Clark chooses to be with.
Is this really a politically correct get up?
Ahh, well, being PC isn't really a Schramm strong suit:)
In other news, Bethany is doing some "Parents' Nights Out" as a fundraiser for an orchestra tour with the high school.  I probably shouldn't get started about what a ridiculous price tag comes along with this trip.  I'll save that for another post-- or not.  I should probably just let that go.  Anyway, last night was the first of her nights and it was a great success.  Lucky for Bethany, Elinor and Faith helped her out in caring for the little ones.  Cousin Chloe got quite attached to Faith.
As it turns out, boys this age melt if you try to take their picture.  Good to know for future reference.
All the kids were quite good and there weren't very many, if any tears.  That being said, not counting our family, there were 12 kids and they kept Bethany hopping.  She had planned games and activities to keep them busy.
My sweet niece Takara is a good little helper with Greta.
I didn't get a good picture of it, but one thing I thought was really cute was Bethany teaching the "older" girls hand clapping games and songs.
Ha, ha-- I got the boys' picture without them knowing it!
This picture has nothing to do with anything that's happened lately.  But it is one of my absolute all-time favorite pictures ever taken of Elinor.  She was three years old in this picture and wrapped up in Silkie scarves like a little babushka.  It just makes me so, so happy.
And on that happy note, I shall head to bed.

That Puzzle Was Just... the Worst!

On Thanksgiving Day I saw (on Facebook) that a neighbor's family was doing a jigsaw puzzle.  As I shared earlier, I love, love, love jigsaw puzzles.  I asked if they had any extras I could do over the holiday weekend.
Now, I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I've probably spent 4+ hours working on this 1000 piece puzzle of Salt Lake City over the past few days.  I thought I was doing this puzzle to relieve stress.  I thought it was a harmless escape from Peter's incessant temper tantrums.  I thought it was a good kind of intellectual frustration that would make me smarter.
This was an absolutely horrific puzzle that was, this very evening, returned to it's owner.
Lots of pieces fit together and you had to notice such miniscule details that weren't even visible to the naked eye.  So I'd put a bunch of it together and then have to go back and find where a mistake was made.  No more puzzles for me for a while.
Okay, now that that is off my chest.
Thanksgiving dinner was delicious and the company was lovely.   I do make a really scrumptious dinner roll-- I am an adequate cook, but this is one area I shine, if I do say so myself.  I sort of just wanted to eat hot rolls and butter and pumpkin pie.
We had our local missionaries over for Thanksgiving dinner and although they weren't able to stay long, they did entertain us.
I know I've seen fancier spreads for Thanksgiving, but everyone seemed to be satisfied and to get their fill.

We did the traditional going around the table and sharing what we're thankful for.  Everyone else shared things of eternal significance... I was thankful that Greta didn't cry all the time.  Have I mentioned Peter has been on a bad run lately?  He's not in the picture because he was playing downstairs.  He refused his Thanksgiving meal and I was fine to eat in peace without him.
Do I sound heartless?  Sometimes I feel heartless.  Except I am very frustrated with him, so darn it-- I must care.
He does have moments when he quite delights and charms us.  After dinner the kids had turns to "exhibit" for the family.  Exhibit time always make me feel so Jane Austen.
The missionaries shared a message and had left to another dinner appointment.
Here Peter would sit down, play one note after a dramatic pause and then play the lowest black note on the piano for his finale.  We all cheered like crazy and then he'd perform his masterpiece again, without variation.
In an impromptu exhibition, Bethany fiddled while Faith, Cannon, and George did an interpretive version of River Dancing.  
I think they offended all of Ireland, but we got quite a kick out of it.
Then George shared a hidden talent-- he called it break dancing.  That title might be misleading, but it cannot be argued that the boy lacks rhythm.  He was right on it and I will say I was impressed.
Cannon's encore performance of a lip sync/dance to "Lasagna" by Wierd Al Yankovich was...well... as his mother, I found it hysterical.  He air-played the accordian, the violin, the guitar and danced with air castanets.  The exhibitions stopped after his, because really, where do you go after that?
Grandpa and George were the boys in red and George liked trying on Grandpa's glasses.  
We recently let Greta try out the baby saucer that all of the kids have used and loved.  She's not really a fan yet, but hopefully she'll get used to it.  
Here's what she is definitely a fan of.
I recently purchased this nifty baby carrier.  Now you may or may not know that I am something of a connoiseur of baby carriers.  In that, I have purchased and used just about every kind of baby carrier that there is.  It's a little hobby of mine.  I've been eyeing this one for a while and I've justified it by saying it is my Christmas present and it has good resale value on KSL classifieds.
In all my experience I will just say, I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT ONE LIKE THIS 17 YEARS AGO!  Ergo Performance is so, so comfy and she loves it.  We might actually get some things done around the house!
She fell asleep when I took the middles and littles to the aquarium recently and her peaceful slumber inspired this selfie.  
And you know how much I love selfies.
I took them to the aquarium on Saturday because we were all going a little stir crazy.  I hoped that the play area at the aquarium would soothe Peter... or at least I wouldn't be tempted to abuse him out in public.  
Oh, did I just say that out loud?
And for the most part, my plan worked.  He was a little calmer and there was no abuse.  Win/Win.
Faith was so sweet to carry him across the rope bridge.
Why is it that my boys resemble reptiles at this stage?
Clark has a picture about this same age where he looks distinctly reptilian.  
For the record, I know this is an amphibian and not a reptile.
There, there, Peter...
Let the poison arrow dart frog soothe your soul.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sibling Love

Helping Clark apply to college and putting together his transcript was our project earlier this week.  The applying part was easy, the transcript was a little more time consuming.   Fortunately, I'd kept pretty good track of all his classes and activities, so it was just a matter of formatting the transcript.
Faith is my puzzling companion.  Other kids will help a bit here and there, but Faith is usually with me for the long haul.  It is such a decadent treat for me to take time to do a puzzle.
The "cats" in their "cat beds".  One of my absolute favorite things about parenting is watching the creative games the kids come up with, especially when they are denied access to electronics.
The other morning the little kids set up a Magformer/Goobie magnet battle.  Ideally, they would have started on their jobs and school work, but I'm a sucker for siblings making up games and playing together.  And it was a holiday week, so it was hard to find motivation anyway.
It started with the little kids, but it wasn't long before the bigger kids joined in.  Scenes like this make my mama heart happy.
The many uses of spray whipped cream.
There are no words.
When I teach piano in the afternoons, I wrap Greta up and bounce her in her bouncy chair and she almost immediately falls asleep.  It doesn't matter how loud the kids play, it soothes her right to sleep.
Faith had a goal this week to mark 1000 back handsprings to turn in at her class on Tuesday.  From last Wednesday to the following Tuesday she did 1,120!  If you look closely you can see lots of drops of sweat on her mats.
And she's got the guns to prove it!
Just wow.
Elinor is not just slightly taller than me, she's passed me up by about 1 1/2 inches!  I honestly did not think any of my girls would get taller than me.  
I'm sure I'll get used to it, but I'm finding it quite shocking.
Elinor has been spending a lot of time working on programming the robot for FLL.   She's always had a knack for the techie stuff.
Bethany had a fun experience the last couple of weeks playing in the pit orchestra for the high school's production of "Music Man".
I gave all the boys haircuts this week.  I always give myself a little pat on the back when I consider that I saved about $60 by cutting their hair myself instead of taking them to a professional.  But there is a price to be paid and this time it came in the form of a really crummy haircut for Peter.  What was I doing? 
In my defense, he was screaming and wiggling and trying to escape during the haircut.
Umm... I don't really know what to say about this picture.
I will just say that he is a source of constant entertainment to me.
My children's favorite past time is quoting obscure comedy sketches from YouTube.  But perhaps their second favorite past time is teasing one another about whom they like.  This pencil topper is courtesy of Faith, given to Cannon.  This cutout came from an advertisement mailer for the dance studio where Cannon takes dance.  This little girl is the daughter of the owner and she happens to be a favorite of Cannon's.   Aren't siblings wonderful?
And speaking of siblings, these four are LOUD, LOUD, LOUD!  These days there is much of wrestling, screaming, growling, jumping, and all manner of disturbing noises.  I don't recall the older kids being so loud, but I attribute that to a higher female to male ratio back then. 
And Peter.  I attribute a lot of noise to Peter.
Frankly, I'm not sure how much I should just roll with it and how much I should attempt to curtail the mayhem.  Aren't little boys like little lion cubs that need to play-wrestle to learn how to be big lions someday?  This is healthy, right?
It does, at times, end in tears.  That is sad.  But know that within 1 minute he was right back in the fray.
Never a dull moment.  
But I think I might enjoy a dull moment.  Maybe that's why I do jigsaw puzzles with Faith.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


THIS today.
Hmm.  It's been a long day.
SHE WILL NOT NAP!  That's not exactly true.  She takes about 6 ten minutes catnaps a day.  And on days when Peter refuses to nap at all, it can get ugly.
I can't think clearly after several days in a row of this.  That's why all of these sentences are so short. I can not think in complex sentences this evening.
Also, she drools like a faucet from morning till night.  Other than copious amounts of drool and terrible napping, she is just lovely.
Abe and I enjoyed going to observe a few minutes of Cannon's dance classes this week.  It is so, so wonderful to watch him doing something he so thoroughly enjoys and is good at.
He likes having another boy in the tap class with him.  He's also in a hip-hop class that is all boys.
They are doing an Arabian dance from the Nutcracker.
I look forward to seeing him in his recital.
Peter likes to play with the math blocks.
You know what else he likes?  Screaming.  Running away from me when it's time for diaper changes. Rejecting food he is served.  Demanding anything George is playing with.
Aren't I a bundle of positive energy this evening?
Abe like this picture of him holding a cute little pink tree frog.
In sad news, generally speaking, Greta does not really like her father.  It's most inconvenient for us all.
Look how wonderful!  A friend whose children I used to teach piano to gave me fox salt and pepper shakers.  It more than made my day!
The little ones were happy on two counts this morning-- 1) the first snow if the season and 2) I slept in long enough for them to find snow clothes and escape out of doors before I could get them going on the day's activities.
Three little cousins at cousin Andrew's mission farewell.  I like their pretty blue eyes.
Bethany's orchestra played a most beautiful Veteran's Day concert last weekend.  It was a Civil War musical tribute entitled "One Nation".  Perhaps it was election day aftermath, but I was quite honestly in tears for half of the concert.  It was so touching and so well done.  They had a professional DVD recording made and I am very much looking forward to watching/hearing it again and again.
Elinor is a good big sister for a tired little Georgie.