Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Grs

My in-laws, who my children lovingly refer to as "the Grs," came into town tonight to spend a week with us and to attend Mack's baptism on Saturday.  They are delightful to have around.  The Spirit in our home is noticeably different from the moment they walk in the door.

They were scheduled to arrive on the busiest night of the week for us...right in the middle of a Young Women's activity that I was obligated to attend and a Young Men's activity that the Scout Master was obligated to attend.  We divided up duties and kids, and somehow managed to get dinner on the table, fulfill our church responsibilities, drop youth off at their homes, tidy up the house, and get to the airport on time to pick up the Grs.  
(That's the edited version of the story.)

(Here's how the day really looked...)
The day was stressful for me from the beginning.  Chores, groceries, a new calling, the seminary carpool deciding after we had already made the schedule for the whole year that she no longer wants to carpool with us, and endless other little distractions all contributed to a rough start to the day.   So when the kids eventually came home from school, I was slightly irritable.  OK that might be an understatement.  I tend to run at a high stress level when I'm expecting company (and for me company = anyone who comes to my house.  There have been times when I have gone into a frantic cleaning tornado just for the cable guy.)  I was in one of those tornadoes this afternoon...frantically trying to get dinner on the table, clean the house, make an amazing appetizer to take to the Personal Progress activity that night, and get out the door on time. 

And then at 6:55pm, I officially lost my mind.
Sometime between 4:30pm when we got home from school to the time we walked out the door, TCD sent me a TEXT that her friend needed a ride to YW's.  I think I've mentioned to her at least a few hundred times that texting isn't the best way to communicate with me when we're both IN THE HOUSE!  And when I'm in the middle of a cleaning tornado, checking my phone isn't at the top of my list.  Needless to say, I didn't get the text.  I had meticulously planned exactly 5 minutes to make the 5 minute drive to the church.  It was my first official combined activity since receiving this new calling so I felt pressure to get there on time.  I didn't have any extra minutes to drive to the other side of the ward and make an unexpected pick up.  I was frustrated.  I was irritable.  I was late.  And I made a rash, impetuous decision.  I said, "Forget it.  Text her back and tell her that it's your fault I didn't get the message on time and that I can't pick her up."  

UGH!!  I was trying to make a point.  I was trying to remind TCD of the difference between a chauffeur and her mother.  I was trying to teach her to have a little more consideration for other people.  But that's not what I did...

We arrived at the church just in time to sit for 10 minutes while we waited for chairs to be put up, leaders to arrive, and hymns to be selected.  (I found out later that's the typical schedule...7:10ish for opening exercises.) That's when I fell apart.  I felt terrible that in my effort to make a point, I had jeopardized another girl's opportunity to participate in an awesome activity.  And when I noticed that TCD was avoiding me from across the room, I felt an overwhelming surge of guilt that not only had I NOT made my point; but by being in YWs I had also taken away her "safe place" where she would normally have said something like, "My mother is a freak today."  I cried through all of opening exercises.  All the girls thought that either someone had died or that I was having a nervous breakdown.  I did nothing to help build their testimonies or to increase their love of Personal Progress.  It would have been better if I had just stayed home.  

When we finally did make it back home, and the Scout Master walked in with the Grs a few minutes later, the remains of the day were apparent.  There were crumbs under my kitchen table, dark circles under my eyes from crying all night, one upset daughter upstairs, and two more insanely excited ones downstairs.  And do you know what???  None of those things mattered to the Grs at all.  They were only interested in hugging all of us and finding out about the details of our lives.  Even though we were all a little edgy, they were still willing to unpack their things and stay for the rest of the week.  It didn't matter that there were dust bunnies under their bed or that my husband and I had been bickering for the better part of two days.  My father-in-law still hugged me and said, "Hello, Favorite Daughter-in-law!"  (He says that to all of us.)  They were just happy to be here. 

I love those Grs!  They are unconditional and infinitely patient.  They love my children even when they haven't showered for three days.  They are kind and understanding and they try always to do the right thing.  They praise more than they criticize.  They never run faster than they have strength.  They're not perfect, but they've learned a lot in their 70+ years.  They would have picked up TCD's friend, and saved the "point making" for later. 

I am so grateful for the perspective and the Spirit they bring when they visit.  I love that they get to stay for a whole week.  And I hope that after they go back to Mendon, a little of that wonderful Spirit stays in our home.  

Lessons learned...hopefully:
  1. People always come first.  
  2. Stuff is way down the list.  
  3. And...after company walks through the front door, they never know if the dirt was there before they came, or if they brought it with them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Bass

See that giant instrument those guys are playing???  Well, I just filled out a contract with Dallas Strings to rent one for Spell Girl.  In a week, we'll have one in our home!  Spell Girl has been in the orchestra for 4 years, and over the summer, she felt like it might be time for a change.  Not a drastic change, she said.  She just wanted to diversify a little.  Maybe try the cello or the viola.  Two days after school started, she came home saying that her Orchestra teacher was heavily recruiting kids to switch to the bass because they had very few of them in any of the classes.  Spell Girl is a helper, so of course, she was immediately willing to consider it.  But I also think she was kind of excited to try something least I hope so, because this thing is a big commitment.  

I thought all stringed things were created equal, but apparently that's not the case.  The rosin is different.  The strings are different.  The bow hold is different.  She has to stand with her foot up on a stool just to balance the thing because it's taller than she is!  There will be a bit of an adjustment for awhile, for sure.  But she's so excited about the new adventure!

This morning on the way to school, she gave me a list of reasons why this will be the best decision she's ever made in all of her 12 years...
  1. I don't have to carry my violin to school anymore!
  2. I don't have to go to the orchestra room before school to put my instrument away, so I'll always be on time to Language Arts (first period).
  3. I will always have a place to stand for concerts.  (um...we may not be able to see her in a concert again because she'll be in the back row, but I'm glad she feels confident about having a spot.  I may have to invest in a larger lens for my camera.)
  4. I can practice the music for TWO parts now if I want to.
  5. It makes me more diverse if I can play more than one instrument, and that increases my chance to get into the high school orchestra.  (Apparently there are auditions for that one.)
  6. My teacher (for private lessons) will have to come to the house because it's too hard to lug a bass to a lesson every week.  (OK, maybe that one is high on my list, too.)
  7. I'm helping the Orchestra!
I'm so proud of her for wanting to jump outside the comfortable violin space she's had for so long.   She's nervous and cautious, but she can see that potential rewards of this adventure far outweigh the effort.  What a great example she is to the rest of us.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Appliances

Over the weekend we made a fairly big purchase.  I've been putting this off as LONG as I possibly could, but it was becoming inevitable.

When we moved into our Mendon House in 2005, we acquired a washer and dryer from some really good friends.  They happened to have an extra washing machine in their garage that they GAVE us, and one of their relatives had a dryer that they sold to us for almost nothing.  I don't know that I've ever been more grateful for two appliances in my life.  With four kids, there's kind of a lot of laundry!  For 6 years, I have loaded and unloaded those things.  I've taught 3 1/2 kids to do their own laundry in those machines.  (Mack can't quite do the soap and the settings yet, but he's great at separating all the colors.)   

I'm not sure how old those appliances were when we got them, but both were consistent and reliable until this January when the dryer started dying a slow death.  At first it was just taking a little longer to dry the clothes.  Then the lint trap stopped collecting lint.  Then it started taking two full cycles to dry, so I started washing smaller loads.  And finally this week, we were up to four cycles before the clothes were dry.  Yep...FOUR!  That was when we realized it was time to retire them.  So we Googled, and researched, and polled the audience, and shopped around, and this week we finally committed to a set.  We went to a scratch and dent place and got an awesome deal (because that's so much more fun than paying full price!)

I was sad to see the old ones go, but that didn't last long when I started doing my first loads of laundry in these new fancy machines. They're so speedy! and so quiet! and so amazing!  The buttons play cute little songs when you press them.  The washing machine fits 4X as much laundry.  The dryer just knows when the clothes are dry and turns itself off.  And when you open the door, the clothes are ACTUALLY DRY!!  

I am blissfully happy with my two new appliances.   Laundry has just become so much more FUN!



Apparently I'm not the only one enjoying the new purchase.  Mack stood in the laundry room for almost the entire 47 minutes and watched the clothes.  Who knew that a washing machine would provide so much entertainment?  Unfortunately the dryer doesn't have a glass door, so we can't watch the clothes while they're in there.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Yesterday, TCD, Spell Girl and I were able to attend the baptism of a 17 year old convert.  He has been attending a different ward with some friends, but he actually lives within our ward boundaries, so he'll officially be a member of the 1st Ward.  Both wards' youth and youth leaders were invited to attend, and all the youth were asked to participate in a special musical number.  They sang the EFY Medley that has been showing up a lot lately.  (I think it's just one of those stand-by songs that everyone knows and that has a powerful effect on any meeting.)  The kids showed up at 9:00am to start practicing for the 10:00am baptism.  There was a huge group of kids, mostly Young Men (which is typical for our stake) and the practice sounded wonderful.  I commented to a couple of the kids that the group sounded larger than it actually was.  Tons of sound and amazing quality in their voices.

When I got to WATCH them perform the song, I saw the most amazing thing.  The song begins with the Young Women singing As Sisters in Zion, which sets the tone for the rest of the song, and then later the Young Men come in with We'll Bring the World His Truth.  When you have a larger group of girls, or more mature voices, that tone is intended to be softer than the men's part, but equally as strong.  With our girls, though, because their numbers aren't huge, they're a little more tentative and sweet, than soft and confident.  So that was the tone when the song started.  And then the Young Men came in, and as soon as they sang, there was a visible and audible change in the entire group.  

Six missionaries were standing in the very back of the choir seats singing mightily with the Young Men.  They were confident and powerful, but they didn't take over the part.  What they did was make all the other singers rise to their level.  The Young Men sang a little louder and with a little more conviction.  They all stood a little taller and straighter.  And then when the Young Women came back in to sing with them, they sang with that same conviction, too.  I have never heard that song sung that way before.  They actually sounded like the Army of Helaman.  Their voices and the Spirit filled the entire chapel and everyone in the building felt the testimonies behind the music.  What an amazing morning!

I love that those missionaries were there yesterday to elevate that choir, and that even though there was already a nice tone set in the music, they set a better one.  I was thinking today in church, that there are influences like that for me sometimes...people behind me in Sacrament whose voices make me sing better, whose presence makes me try harder and do more than I think I can.  I love those people and I love that I can feel them even when I can't see them. 

 Elevation is a good thing.

Be Good.  Be Patient.  Don't Forget.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

High School Football

Highlights from Game Day:

The rest of us had navy blue Allen Eagles t-shirts, but TCD likes to make a fashion statement, so instead of the traditional blue or red, she opted for the PINK jersey for the game tonight complete with #19 already on it.  (This is actually a Miles Austin jersey, but since The Cowboys are NOT on the list of STUFF we love in our house, we had no problem doctoring the back of the jersey a little.)
TCD's friends

Pre-Game Motivation Huddle

A-Rod's Family


Guess who made the first TD of the SEASON!  Yep, Andrew Rodriguez!  The announcer said his name pretty much all night long.  
"Pass intended for Andrew Rodriguez."  
"Touchdown, Andrew Rodriguez."  
"Andrew Rodriguez on the carry."  
The guy is kind of a rockstar.

 In between amazing offensive plays, we were totally and completely entertained by Andrew's little nephew, Giovanni.  What a cutie!  

There was NO WAY I could get a picture of the entire band from where we were seated on the 50 yard line.  
They're HUGE...ENORMOUS!   
Nearly 800 band members rode 21 buses to get to the stadium.  There is really no way to describe the massive sound they produce.
They were spelling out EAGLES in this picture, but only the G fit in my lens.  :)
Amazing, loud, was very cool to watch Andrew, but the band was still my favorite part. 

Mack being silly with his crazy friends.

 More touchdowns, and more A-Rod in the second half.

Final Score!!  Go EAGLES!!

We had such a great time.  We were exhausted and sweaty, and we didn't get home until after midnight, but I think we might be hooked on this Texas high school football thing.  
Guess where we'll be next Friday night???

Friday, August 26, 2011


Guess where we're going tomorrow??? the SMU Stadium to watch the first Allen High School football game of the season!!!  We're all so excited we can hardly stand it, so I had to have TWO posts about it.  (Hopefully, the one tomorrow will have more pictures.)

This is who we're going to see...

Andrew Rodriguez #19, starting Wide Receiver.   Our family has gotten to be quite good friends with A Rod's family and we've all been dying to see him play football since we moved here last year. 

This season, they're ranked #5 in the nation.

Oh, and there's that awesome band, too.  We only know about 20 of the 800 band members, and we won't have a clue which ones are which, but I LOVE that band almost as much as I love the Rodriguez family, so it'll be awesome to see them play again.

By the time we get into the stadium at 7:00, the afternoon high of 105 degrees will have cooled down to 94, so it should be slightly more bearable...hopefully.  100 degrees or not, it should still be an amazing night.  Stay tuned for more pictures and details of the game tomorrow...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A New Routine

Typically our Wednesdays look like this:

4:30-5:30  Activity Days (June and I) only the 1st and the 3rd
4:30-5:30  Cub Scouts (Mack) that's a recent addition, though 
6:30-6:45  scarf down a really fast family dinner
7:00-8:30  YM/YW (The Scout Master, TCD and Spell Girl)

As of Sunday, though, our schedules just became a little different.  I have a new calling in the YW Presidency which means more of us will be going to YM/YW on Wednesday nights.  We haven't worked out the exact logistics yet, so we may ALL be going.  I'm nervous and excited about the opportunity for lots of different reasons, but it's a little overwhelming right now.  Someone said, "It feels like we're drinking from a fire hydrant."  Totally!  

Just in case I have painted too rosy a picture of my relationship with my daughters in the past, here's a glimpse of my very realistic Sunday, after receiving my new calling...

My friend stopped us in the hall at church and asked TCD if she was so excited that her mom would now be in YW with her.

TCD:  Well, she's been stalking all the activities lately, so they really didn't have much choice but to put her in YW's.  (yep, it was that snarky...)

Later, when we got home, I was having a nice, quiet moment with my agreeable Spell Girl, and I felt like I needed a little uplifting, so I asked her what she thought about my new calling.  She just shrugged and said, "I guess it's fine.  Just don't change any of the activities.  We've already planned everything through December."  (insert my extreme deflation here...)

As irritated as the older girls were that I was now IN Young Women's, June was equally irritated that I was OUT of Activity Days.  I'm no longer her teacher in Primary or her Activity Days leader, so I mostly got the silent treatment on Sunday. (sigh...)

New school schedules, new YW leaders, new teachers, new everything this week.  We're all a little out of sorts.  But everyone's attitudes about this change have improved since Sunday (including mine.)  Tonight was my first official YW Activity and it went pretty well.  My girls were happy to ride with me to church and sit next to me.  And Mack was thrilled to get to go to the Court of Honor with his dad and watch the older boys earn stuff?? (I really need to figure out what all that scout stuff is called.)  

There are things that I need to learn in this calling apparently...humility, tolerance, creativity, patience, and a billion other things, I'm sure.  So, I'm borrowing this quote from my amazing niece's blog and I'm jumping in...

So even though I’m scared, really pretty scared, about what lies ahead, I’m going to continue on the path.  I’m going to trust the process, knowing that constantly pushing me out of my comfort zone is part of it, and I’m just going to keep trying.  At the end of the day, if “a skill untested is a skill not possessed”, and these are skills I want to posses, then I guess I’m going to have to find a way to pass the test.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Second Day of School

Do you know what I did today after I made lunches and dropped all the kids off at school???

 I read a book

 I ate lunch.  
(This looks like my sandwich only minus the avocado because I don't love those.) 

And...that's it (only there was music on, too.)  And then all of a sudden it was 2:00 and I realized that I should probably get out of my jammies and look presentable when I started picking up kids. 

I did almost nothing productive today (on purpose) and the hours FLEW by.  I decided that I would just enjoy a list-free day and do NOTHING since I had such a crazy day yesterday.  I couldn't have very many days like this because I would feel like a slug.  But for today, it was the perfect compliment to yesterday's chaos.  Tomorrow, I'll go back to my normal schedule...scriptures, chores, exercise, errands, blogging about something worthwhile...


or maybe I'll just be a Happy Slug for one more day...

Monday, August 22, 2011

The First Day of School

I wish I could say that I'm one of those moms who mourns the end of the summer and cries when my kids go back to school.  I'm not.  I LOVE the beginning of the school year.  I really, really like having my kids around more often in the summer, going on vacations, and not having a schedule, but I'm always ready for them to go back to school, too. 

I think we all had a hard time going to sleep at a reasonable hour last night.  At 10:30, Mack was still making appearances in the kitchen or on the stairs complaining that he couldn't sleep.  Hopefully, the adrenaline of the new school year will keep him awake today.

Here's how our morning went...

6:30am  Scriptures - since we finished the Book of Mormon at the end of May, we started over from the beginning this morning.

7:30am  Round One (June - 6th Grade, Mack - 3rd Grade)

7:45am - Round Two (TCD - 9th Grade)

8:15am - Round Three (Spell Girl - 7th Grade)

This schedule will last for exactly three days until we add Early Morning Seminary into the rotation on Thursday.  I'm not sure yet what that's going to look like, except that it will start a LOT earlier.   TCD has to be there at 6:00am, and with carpooling, we will be walking out the door at 5:40am!  Yikes!!

I've been looking forward to my perfectly carved out 6 hours, but unfortunately the day didn't go quite the way I planned.  A new calling yesterday meant a Planning Meeting at 9am.  The number of days in August is dwindling fast, so my visiting teaching companion scheduled a brunch from 10:30 - 12 (where we also discussed carpooling for seminary.)  And then a quick trip to the grocery store on the way home because somehow we already need to restock for lunches. much for my morning walk with my Playlist, water aerobics, and starting on those Resolutions.  Oh well...I have 179 more days to do all of that stuff.  It's only the beginning of the week...and the beginning of the school year!   I'm so excited for the things coming up this year, and for the new opportunities my kids will have in school.  And I'm glad everyone got where they needed to be on time this morning.  I can't wait to hear how they all did today.

But for the next 20 minutes, until they start walking in the door and telling me their stories, I think I might sneak in a power nap!   


Sunday, August 21, 2011


Tonight, we took TCD to the Seminary Kick-off Fireside.  I have no personal experience with early morning seminary because I wasn't a member of this church when I was in high school.  But from what I understand, this Stake's seminary program is quite amazing.  

 this is the high school...

this is the new/under construction $60 million football stadium...
...this is the AHS band oops...Escadrille in Cowboy Stadium

...and this is where we live. why would the Allen Stake Seminary program be anything less than enormous and remarkable??

There are 15 Seminary teachers, 8 classes, and over 200 students.  This year, their course of study is the Old Testament.  I've never read the Old Testament, so I think I might have to read this along with TCD this year.  After listening to the Stake President and meeting TCD's teacher, I'm so excited for her!  What an amazing opportunity she'll have to solidify her testimony of the Savior, increase her knowledge of the scriptures, and fortify her standards every morning before she heads into a crowded school full of noise and challenges.  I can't wait to see how much she'll learn this year.  And how very grateful I am for the many opportunities that our children have in this incredible place we live.     

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hilariously Funny Stuff

The Scout Master has been in HOU for the entire week on a business trip.  Typically, when he travels, he gets very little "desk work" done because he's busy insurance related stuff.   So, when he comes home, he barricades himself in his office and answers emails, writes reports, and does other important insurance stuff.  When he's been gone on a long the 5 day one we just's a little harder for all of us to give him the space he needs in his office.  The kids and I usually drop in throughout the day.  I have issues with patience, and when I have a thought, it's hard for me to just hang on to it. 

This afternoon, TCD and I were tired of waiting.  We hovered outside his office and then eventually invited ourselves into his office...which is technically our master bedroom when it's not being used for important insurance related stuff.   We flopped on the bed.  She played games on my phone.  I read a book.  And the Scout Master kept working.  Then we had to have a short conversation about her plans for the evening, which apparently got too loud and distracting, because all of a sudden the Scout Master got up and left the room.   TCD and I stayed and waited for him to come back...and waited...and waited...

After about 15 minutes, we got a little bored.  That's never a good thing...

One of us had a great idea to add a little something "fun" to his report.  And the other one of us went over to his computer and actually did it.  At that point, it was like one totally demented, attention starved brain acting without reservation...

Wanna see what happens when you leave us alone with an unattended computer for too long?

I wish she had taken a picture of the whole report because it's even funnier when you read the actual "important insurance related stuff" that he was writing about...and then insert "I love fluffy unicorns" at the end.  

We had to restrain ourselves from laughing hysterically when he finally came back into the room to finish his report.  He started at the beginning and read through the whole thing trying to get back his train of thought...and we waited...and we waited...and then the laughing started and we knew we had succeeded in getting his attention. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Donny & Marie

You had to know this was coming, right?  I'm feeling especially nerdy and sentimental about music today, so this post was sort of inevitable.  (It's not as nerdy as the Chet Atkins post that I almost wrote after I watched Certified Guitar Player last night.  That one's coming eventually...also inevitable.  I've been thinking about that show ALL DAY!  Totally inspiring and moving, for sure.)

Today is an Osmond day.  I spent an unexpected and blissful 30 minutes alone in the van this morning, and this is what I listened to...

Don't they totally look just like they did 30 years ago...but this CD was released in May of this year!  My sister-in-law had it in her car when we were in Utah and I immediately had to buy it.  That's kind of a big deal, because I haven't bought a CD in a really LONG time.  I'm pretty content with the music I already have (except now I may have to add Chet Atkins to that library,) and there are very few artists I would purchase without first hearing the album.  I can think of maybe 5. 

I played the heck out of it the entire last week of July.  It's syrup-y and Vegas-y, but I LOVE it.  I love the way they sound together.  I love the way their voices remind me of my childhood.  Donny and Marie have been part of my life since I was 8 years old. 
I feel like I KNOW them.  I was slightly surprised, in fact, that Marie didn't recognize me when I saw her in the SLC Temple on my wedding day.  (That's weird and creepy, I know, but today is an Osmond day and I'm overly sentimental.)

This is my favorite song...

I'm so glad that Donny and Marie keep singing because I definitely intend to keep listening.  Today they make me totally happy.  (and so does Chet Atkins...)