Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Last Day of School

Oh how I LOVE the last day of school!  I'd like to say that we all hopped out of bed this morning enthusiastic and excited for one more day of school, but that's not what happened.  We all slept in until the last possible minute, mostly complained about why we even had to go to school at all today, and then dragged ourselves out the door.  :)  It's been a LONG month and we're all SO ready for summer!

The BEST part of the day is when that last bell rings and you can happily exit the building for the last time...sometimes ever.  Two of our kids will not be going back to the schools they left today, which is kind of sad...more for me than for them, I think.  

At 12:30, TCD and Spell Girl finished their finals and their schools released early for the day.  We picked up a few extra girls and decided to celebrate the beginning of summer with burgers at In-N-Out.  

We are so excited for our fun summer plans...Girls Camp, EFY, Bass Camp, Six Flags, birthdays, visitors, traveling...sprinkled with a lot of visits to the pool and a lot of sleeping in!  Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

6th Grade Graduation

June graduated from elementary school today.  She was so excited about it that she woke up before her alarm!  Yesterday, she invited a friend over and they painstakingly curled a million little strands of each other's hair so that it would look perfect for the ceremony today.  She made sure to sleep really carefully so that it would stay.  I'm not sure she even slept at all though.  :)

They kind of make a big deal out of 6th grade graduation here.  The gym was beautifully decorated.  There were speeches and flowers and awards.  It's a pretty cool thing to be a part of.  
 June got to sing in the choir (they all learned the sign language for the song, too!)
Mrs. Campman, the Principal, gave the commencement speech
 Besties...Megan, Turner, and June
 June and her awesome teacher, Mrs. Shea...LOVE her!
We're so proud of June and all that she's done this year to make the absolute best of her time in 6th grade!

As the Scout Master and I were sitting in that gym watching all those kids walk across the stage, it occurred to us that we won't have another graduation for 3 more years...and then we'll have TWO!  Mack graduates from elementary school in 2015...the same year that TCD graduates from HIGH SCHOOL!  ( is that possible that in just three years our children will start leaving their little nest??)  There are so many amazing things that will happen in the next three years.  I'm so grateful to be able to watch it up close.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer Bike Rides

OK so it might not be summer quite yet, but it's getting closer, and both the temperature and the attitude in my house feel a LOT like summer, so I'm going with it.  

Yesterday morning, we decided it would be a great idea to go for a family bike ride.  (Except the only family members who were awake at 8:00am were me, Mack and the Scout Master.)  Do you know how long it's been since I've been on a bike ride??  Um...I think I had a bike in Seattle (1998-2000) and I was pregnant for most of the two years that we lived there, so I'm pretty sure I didn't use it much.  

Sometime last summer, Spell Girl and June got new bikes.  I've secretly coveted Spell Girl's for almost the entire year that it's been in our garage.  I don't think she rides it as often as she should.  That thing is SO cute that it seriously needs more attention.  So, of course, hers was the bike I picked for our morning adventure.  
Spell Girl's bike is the pretty green and white one

We decided to ride the golf course trail...which I thought was an awesome idea because I've walked/run that trail at least a million times since we've lived in our house, so how hard could biking it be, right?  

Well, it turns out that even though you might think that riding a bike is so much easier than walking or running because you can go farther and finish faster...that's not really true.  There are tiny little inclines on that golf course trail that I've never noticed on my feet before.

And if you don't love bridges, they're a heck of a lot scarier on a bike than on foot!  So many more things could go wrong...and three whole bikes riding across at once!!  We could have plummeted to our deaths in the raging current below us at any point on those three treacherous bridges we crossed (twice!)
treacherous bridge
raging current

And then...there were all those other people who also decided that being outside was a great thing to do on a Memorial Day morning.  When you're the walker or the runner, you can just move to the side or even to the grass if you need to accommodate other people....or strollers or dogs.  But when you're on a bike, you can't do that as easily...especially if it's been ten years since you've ridden one.  And especially if the "path crossing" happens right at the place where the sidewalk drops off to a giant hill with a tree at the bottom!  I over-accommodated (isn't that the story of my life!) and crashed!  After I got up and everyone was certain that I wasn't seriously injured, the passing jogger said, "I would have given you a 10 for the trick, but the landing was a little rough."  (funny...)

wreck rained last night, otherwise you would be able to see all the blood I left on the trail

After the wreck, I decided I would stay firmly in the center of the trail for the rest of the ride...and if anyone needed to pass me, they would have to be the ones to move because I wasn't going down twice!!

About 3 miles into our ride, we got to the third bridge.  I let the boys go in front of me to blaze the trail (and test the sturdiness of the rickety wooden planks) and then I held my breath and rode on.  Why did they not tell me about the little man crouched down in the middle of the bridge who was organizing his fishing gear???  He startled me.  And he was in my way.  And I didn't see him until it was almost too late to avoid him.  I didn't hit him, but only because my lightning fast, ninja-like reflexes finally kicked in, and I jumped off my bike.  It wasn't pretty, but no one got hurt.  

After making it safely across that bridge, I got back on the bike.  Shortly after, I realized that my back tire was completely flat!  And I got off the bike WALK IT the rest of the three miles home!  (I don't think an ideal bike ride includes so much getting on and off...)  

The ride was more of an adventure than I thought it would be when I agreed to it.  But I made it home alive...with only a small gash on my knee.  

I loved the bike ride yesterday because it reminded me that sometimes I sneak scary things into my day without even realizing it.  Because my friend Stephanie had a super cute Backyardigans bandaid so that I wouldn't bleed in her pool last night at our Memorial Day party.  And because it convinced me that I probably will just stick with my feet for any future exercise plans.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer Goals 2012

Well, after a week of talking about it, we finally got around to writing down those Summer Goals.   We had a great Memorial Day...slept in, went for a bike ride, took a cute friend shopping, went to our annual pool party at the King's.  And then at 8:30 tonight, when we were all sitting in the same room in the house at the same time, the Scout Master had a great idea to have Family Night!!  It was super song, no real lesson...we just talked about having some priorities for the unscheduled days ahead, so that we don't get to the end of them and wonder what we've done.  

The kids are used to this exercise, so they've been thinking about what they want to accomplish this summer.  It's kind of funny to see how different their lists almost every way.  Some of us are totally into technology and can't break away from our iPhones for longer than 5 seconds.  And some of us are still great with a piece of paper and a purple marker.  

Along with the kids' individual goals, we also set some family goals for the summer...'s a short list...more expectations than goals, really.  But with mostly teenagers in this house and a lot of individual activities happening, I felt like we needed to make FAMILY a priority this summer.  I may not see them during the day, but I want to see them at dinner and at night before bed.  And the Scout Master thought it would be fun to throw in a little planned, family exercise time, too.  Last night we started with 10 sit ups and 10 push ups each.  TCD has been delegated the official boot camp director for our 10 minute workout, so we'll see what the next few weeks bring.  Hopefully by the end of the summer, we'll feel a little more connected as a family, we'll be a little farther through the Book of Mormon, and we'll be a little healthier.

Three more days...have I mentioned that I can't wait for summer to get here!!  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Seminary Graduation 2012

"The purpose of Seminary is to help youth and young adults understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple, and prepare themselves, their families, and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven.  
We teach students the doctrines and principles of the gospel as found in the scriptures and the words of the prophets. These doctrines and principles are taught in a way that leads to understanding and edification. We help students fulfill their role in the learning process and prepare them to teach the gospel to others."

Tonight four of the graduating seniors in our ward were honored at Seminary Graduation.  All of the current seminary students and their families were invited to attend.  I loved being there among all of that greatness and dedication.  It takes a huge amount of commitment and sacrifice to complete all that is required to graduate from seminary.  Each of the kids who participated in the program was exceptional.  What an amazing example to the younger seminary students and what a great place to be on a Sunday night.

Earlier this morning, the Seminary students from our ward were given their certificates of completion.  A few of them also received certificates for attendance, scripture reading and scripture mastery (they had to memorize 25 scriptures from the Old Testament.)  TCD received a certificate for all three.  

I am so proud of her for working so hard this year and waking up every morning at 5:00am.  And I am so grateful for the seminary program that provides these high school kids with the opportunity to gain a greater testimony of the scriptures and to start their day armed with the Spirit.  I'm so excited for the many more years of Seminary to come!  

Saturday, May 26, 2012


"Whenever one person comes into contact with another, however briefly, they each give the other a gift.  It may be large or small, intentional or otherwise, but the gift is still there.  You receive many of them daily.  You give away many yourself at the same time.  Have you considered what kinds of gifts you are in the habit of giving?"

This is the beginning of the YW lesson I'm teaching tomorrow.  It's not the scheduled lesson, but sometimes there's a reason to bump those and throw in something impromptu.  When I first read this Dog Food story by Brent and Blaine Yorgason, I thought of my Young Women and the challenges they have with friends everyday at school or at church or in their neighborhoods.  I thought about my own daughters and the things that rattle around in their heads at night.  I thought about the 6 new Beehives coming into YW in the next 5 months and how hopeful I am that they will feel loved and welcome into the group.  But I didn't really think about myself.  

Yesterday, I had planned to go to the two-day Stake Youth Conference at UT Arlington.  All of the youth ages 14+ were invited to go down for the Opening Ceremonies last night and then again all day today to serve and be a part of the Special Olympics events being held there.  Meals were going to be light, at best, for all the kids, so I planned to make a few things for breakfast to bring with us in the carpools so that the kids wouldn't be starving, and then to have a few snacks stashed in my trunk in case they needed sustenance during the day.  I packed bug spray and camp chairs and bought a cute little visor that I could use out in the sun for the full day Saturday and also later next month at Girls Camp.  I was pretty excited about the weekend, and as always, looked forward to spending time with this amazing group of youth.  

Yesterday afternoon, I picked up TCD and her friend from school and mentioned the excitement I felt about the activity.  And then later, told TCD about my grand snack plans.  She's 15 and she was in a hurry to get ready for our 5:00 departure.  She's tired and stressed out, like we all are, by the pace we've kept this entire month.  But she didn't choose her words carefully.  She said something like, "You don't always have to try to be the most popular leader, you know." and "You don't always have to spend all your time worrying about everyone else.  I'm sure they'll bring their own snacks." and "We're all going to be in Sis ------'s car anyway."  I can't tell you how instantly deflated I was.  TCD and I are extremely close, but we live together and spend a lot of time together, and neither of us is perfect.  I don't actually think that she intended to hurt my feelings.  I'm sure she was just trying to tell me that I didn't have to worry about all that extra stuff if I had better things to do.  But that's not what I heard.  

So, instead of making fun little snack bags for all the girls, I came home and threw myself on the bed and sat in a very large, very pitiful pile of self doubt for the rest of the night.  I opted not to volunteer to drive down on Friday night after all because there were plenty of leaders.  And I didn't respond to the many texts that I received that night asking me where I was and if I was coming on Saturday.  And then this morning, when all the kids jumped into all the other cars and I was sitting in my van all by myself, but with no extra seats available to ride with anyone else, I thought, "Great.  Well, I guess I have an unexpectedly free Saturday."  I threw two camp chairs out of my trunk and sped out of the church parking lot as quickly as I could.  It wasn't exactly the morning I had envisioned...6 girls in my van, singing Justin Bieber, eating blueberry muffins, and breathing life into me, all the way down to the event.   Instead, at 6:00am, I changed back into jammies, put away my cute visor, and crawled back into bed for three more hours (which I also desperately needed.)

About an hour ago, I decided to work on my lesson for tomorrow.  Apparently I needed a personal testimony of it.  None of us, in this ward, have ever had anything quite as devastating as the dog food story happen to us.  And none of these girls is capable of treating another person as badly as this poor little girl had been treated, but there are times when ALL of us give away things that are more like dog food than gifts to one another.  I'm sure I did it, too, this weekend.  Because I was wounded by the things TCD had said, I wasn't as nice to the Scout Master or to my children on Friday afternoon.  I'm sure the Bishop wondered what the heck was wrong with me this morning when I walked away while he was talking to me.  And I'm sure the impression I left on whoever watched me speed out of the parking lot wasn't love and kindness.  

It's a hard thing to always be mindful of the way we make other people feel.  It's even harder to not be consumed by the things that occasionally offend us.  But it's a good thing to work on.  I'm going to use my free day to re-plan this lesson for tomorrow.  And to get rid of all the dog food leftover from yesterday so that tomorrow is a much better day, and so I don't give out anymore of that stuff.

Be Good.  Be Patient.  Don't Forget.  


Friday, May 25, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting

One of the very best things about having teenage daughters is that they are excellent babysitters.  TCD has been babysitting for a few years, sporadically until just a few months ago when the entire ward discovered her.  And just recently, Spell Girl has gotten into the babysitting market.  She became the back up when people couldn't get TCD, and then they realized how awesome she is and started REQUESTING her.  They are totally different in their style and demeanor.  TCD is a typical oldest child, so she directs and cleans and makes sure no one gets hurt.  The kids feel safe with her and they love when she occasionally brings a fun crafty thing over for them to do.  Spell Girl is more of a free spirit.  She gets down on the floor and plays.  She engages the kids.  And she becomes their best friend.  Their personalities fit with different kinds of families and different kids, and they each have their own little following of tiny fans.   At church, there are always a couple of kids running down the hall to wave at TCD or Spell Girl, or sneaking out of a class to say, "Hi" as they walk down the hall.  It's pretty cute.

A few weeks ago, TCD was in a pretty bad mood.  That's the thing about having a personality that is larger than life.  When you're UP people can feel it from miles away and they come running to be around you.  But when you're down, people feel that, too.  We could ALL feel TCD's mood that particular day (I'm pretty sure they could feel it in Utah!!) and it wasn't delightful to be around her.  By mid afternoon on Saturday, I was praying for some small miracle to come and dispel the gloom that had settled on our entire house.  One of her regular babysitting parents texted shortly after and asked if she would be available for a LONG babysitting job that night.  I was hesitant to let her go, but she wanted to, so I texted back that yes she was available.  A few minutes later that same mom phoned and said that a situation had come up, and her SISTER'S kids would also be there, and would TCD please find a friend to bring with her to help.  (8 kids, all under the age of 8, including one baby who was barely walking!)   My first thought was for her to take Spell Girl...they live in the same house, it would be easy to work with her, she's good with little kids.  But TCD was not exactly open to suggestions that day.  So, instead she sent out a mass text to all of her friends begging them to come and babysit with her.  No one was available.  She grudgingly settled for Plan B...Spell Girl.   And I reluctantly let them go.  I was seriously worried for Spell Girl.  I had visions of TCD giving orders all night and making Spell Girl do all the work.  

But...I was worried for nothing...

TCD hung onto her grump all the way to the babysitting job.  She barely spoke to either me or Spell Girl and only to bark a few snide comments at us.  But the minute we pulled into the driveway, and those four little fans came running out to greet her, she softened.  I could see it on her face.  She tried to stay grumpy, but she just couldn't do it.  They dropped whatever they were playing with to come running to the car.  And they all threw their little arms around her when she finally got out, and dragged her to the house.  It was the most touching thing to watch her melt.  Spell Girl and I both breathed a little sigh of relief and I pulled out of the driveway much more confident about their evening.

That babysitting job was exactly what TCD needed to get her out of her own head.  The girls babysat for 7 hours that night and had a great time doing it.  Everyone was happy and safe when their parents got home, and my girls realized that they're a pretty darn good team.  I love having an entire ward help do the things you can't always do on your own as a parent.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Talent Show 2012

My little June is completely fearless.  She has tried out, auditioned and campaigned for absolutely EVERYTHING that has been offered this year...Student Council, morning announcements, volleyball, basketball, and...earlier this month...a coveted spot in the Talent Show!  She was thrilled when she received a letter the following week letting her know that she had made it.  

This morning she woke up 30 minutes early to warm up before school and flew out the door in such a hurry that she forgot her lunch!

What an amazing group of kids!!! They're SO talented...and SO diverse.  

 June sang Taylor Swift "Our Song"

 Chinese YO-YO guy
 Bollywood Dancer
 Glow in the Dark Neon Girls
 and these guys were SO hilarious...the danced around to a cover of a Jason DeRulo song

I was totally impressed with the whole talent show and all the enthusiasm these kids bring.  Even the audience was great!  

And I'm especially proud of my fearless girl who tries everything.  Eleanor Roosevelt would be SO proud of her, too.  (Do one thing everyday that scares you.)

Scary Things II

Do you know how many conversations I've had in the last week about being brave, doing scary things, taking chances, and not holding back.  I feel like I'm on repeat lately.  And whenever that happens, it's always because I need to listen to my own advice. 

I cringe lately when I hear people (especially my own children) talk about not trying things because they sound hard or scary.  I am compelled to quote Eleanor Roosevelt on a regular basis.  (Do one thing everyday that scares you.)  And I have multiple YW lessons swirling around in my head on the subject of listening to inspiration and ACTING ON ITGuess who needs that WAY more than the YW??  

I'm not sure what scary things I'm supposed to be doing or what I'm missing because I'm not listening, but I feel them pulling me.  Every now and then that's an actual physical feeling like a tug.  Or in this case...a heave.  I can feel that I'm not swimming in the right direction.  I'm not even swimming at all right now...just letting the strongest current move me wherever it wants to.  I've been flying on my own lately...just trying to stay afloat this month because it's so stinkin busy, and missing a lot of the important things because of it.  Those tugs that I feel and the dreams I keep having are telling me that it's time to focus again.  I am too far away from where I'm supposed to be.  Time to swim back. 

Earlier tonight I was having a conversation with someone and I immediately thought I should tell them what I always used to write at the end of all of my blog posts...except I couldn't remember what I always used to write!!  I could remember a little of it, but not the whole thing!  GIANT SIRENS immediately went off IN MY HEAD!  You are too far away.  Come back. 

I have no idea what scary things the coming days and months will bring, but I am turning around to go and find out.   Right now!

And I found that thing I was looking for...buried in some obscure box in the back of my head...


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

6th Grade Splash Bash 2012

I spent the day with a whole flock of 6th graders.  June is graduating from elementary school this year and to celebrate 7 long years of hard work, the 6th graders have an end of the year SPLASH BASH!

I got to the school at 8:30 to walk with the group to a nearby subdivision clubhouse where giant jumpy toys, games, and food had been set up for the kids.  
 We had a serious OCEAN of 6th graders walking down the street!
 I spent the first half of the day working the dunk tank.  So much fun!!  And SO wet!!
 ...and they let me dunk June!

 Loved this DJ/Referee...super high energy guy who kept the kids engaged in all the activities

 I think June was checking out her competition for the tug-of-war...
guess who won???
 yep...the girls!! :)

Everyone had such a great time and I was so happy I got to be there to hang out with June and her friends all day.  These are great kids.  I'm so excited for their middle school years...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I had grand plans for last night.  I started early on a crock pot dinner to ensure that we would all be sitting together around a table.  I made homemade everything! including ranch dressing that was super yummy, and a dessert I stole off Pinterest.  And I had visions of the six of us spending the evening writing down our summer goals and planning great activities that we could all look forward to.  

Unfortunately, at 3:00pm, I realized that I had forgotten Spell Girl's solo practice with her accompanist at 5:00pm and her recital at 7:30pm.  And I also got a text from TCD saying that she would be going to a friend's house after school to work on a speech project.  ugh...

So, instead of the togetherness I planned, five of us ate dinner...mostly around the table.  And from 5:00pm until 7:30pm, we ran back and forth between Dallas Strings, an apartment complex in McKinney, and our house.  No summer planning happened last night.     

But we ALL went to Spell Girl's bass/cello recital.  It's rare that we ALL attend an event together.  Usually we're going in 6 different directions and we're lucky to get one or two of us at any given activity.  And sometimes, the other kids aren't always interested in the things their siblings are doing, so we've been guilty of giving in and letting them stay home.  But, I think if I could rewind and change one thing about the way we've set up our household, it's that one...I would just make it a requirement that we ALL support one another whenever possible.  It was such a great feeling (for me and for Spell Girl) to look across that whole row and see smiling family faces.  

She has worked so hard this year learning that new instrument.  We all have the benefit of hearing her practice (and it is TOTALLY a blessing to have that gorgeous music fill the house), but it's a different thing entirely to be there watching her perform for a whole audience full of people.  The other kids were excited for her, and a little surprised, I think, at how good she really is.  TCD and the Scout Master were sitting behind three of the older kids in the conservatory who are very, VERY advanced, and they both were so excited to tell Spell Girl that those three kids were very impressed with her performance.  

It's a good thing to have your brothers and sisters see you excel at the thing you really love.  I think it makes them think differently about each other.  I'm so happy that we accidentally ended up in the same place together so that we could ALL enthusiastically cheer for Spell Girl.  Because what better cheerleaders will we ever have than our own family??

Oh, and by the way...Spell Girl got an award last night for Exceptional Progress in her private lessons AND she found out today that she made 2nd chair in Chamber Orchestra at school (That's the highest one!  She'll start there in the fall.)  Can you hear us all cheering over here?    

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Goals

I'm a goal oriented, planner, list-making kind of a girl.   There are calendars and bulletin boards and grocery lists and weekly menus sprinkled around the house because we all seem to function better when we know what's coming up.  I set new goals every September and every January, and sometimes every Monday when necessary.  I like to be able to SEE what I've accomplished and FEEL like I'm spending my time doing things that matter.  And I think my kids like those things, too.  

Even though we're all anxiously awaiting the beginning of June and the end of this hectic school year, we won't JUST be relaxing.  I prefer to think of it as productive vacationing.   Summer is the perfect opportunity to do all the things we really want to do, but don't have time for during the school year.  

Typically, we spend one Monday night right before summer starts, letting the kids just brainstorm what they want their summers to look like.  We let them write down everything they would do if they could create the summer of their dreams.  And then we add a few suggestions...some spiritual things, a little physical activity, and a few things to keep their brains from turning to Jello before August.   

This morning while I was looking for something in the kids' files, I found a few of their old Summer Goals...

This one totally made me laugh...I can't even remember why the Smithfield McDonald's was such a big deal...but I do remember going there that summer.

 Only a few things are crossed out, but she actually did all of them...even getting the KITTEN from Kjersti (in fact we got TWO kittens that summer.)

By 2008, all 4 kids had Summer Goals, so they kept their handwritten ones in their rooms and I hung this one on the fridge.  We didn't actually make it on an airplane or to Disneyland or Sea World, but I'm a big believer in dreaming big.  The more you let yourself hope for the big things, the more likely they are to actually happen.  

I'm so excited to see what their lists will look like tonight.  I'll make sure to post updates...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Scary Things

This morning, TCD needed to do something scary.  If I told you what it was, you would probably think it was silly, and she would be mortified, so I'm not going to copy the entire text conversation for you to read.  But let's just say, it was a big deal for her.

I gave her some suggestions about what to say, and some confidence building words of encouragement, but she was still really nervous about it.  

(I'm inserting in this space a tiny little side post about HOW MUCH I LOVE my iPhone!!  There are some pretty amazing things that happen on that thing and sometimes I want to save them forever.  And by pressing two little buttons at the same time, I can do that now!  Love that thing!)

I also LOVE that Eleanor Roosevelt quote.  It's been awhile since I've needed to hear it or say it.  (And you should probably know that the text right after that last screenshot says "Mommy, you're such a nerd!"  Not everyone in my house appreciates Eleanor as much as I do.)  But it was nice to be reminded today that sometimes scary is good.  

I'm so proud of TCD for doing something that terrified her today.  It doesn't matter if it's a small thing like sending a text or a big thing like moving across the country.  We should do something scary everyday.   There are a million great adventures and huge blessings that happen when we just jump.   I'm going to channel my inner Eleanor Roosevelt today and find something scary to do.  You should, too.  Be brave!!