Friday, October 31, 2014

School pics

It's Halloween evening, and really we're just waiting for trick-or-treating time and the kids are hyper and need supervision but can't be persuaded to do anything productive, so here I sit putting final touches on this year's "school" pictures. Taken against an old sheet draped over the piano.

This year, I decided to let the kids' pictures show their personalities. And we seem to have plenty of personality around here.

Starting with this one. Look at all those faces!

3-year-old preschool
This girl has soo much moxie. She loves preschool, playgroup, stuffed animals, books, Barney, and her family.

2nd grade
Jesse is an orange belt in karate, is on the 5th Magic Treehouse book, and thinks about Legos day and night.

5th grade
Miss Haley takes piano lessons, plays flute in the school band, and takes a tumbling class. She loves experimenting with hairstyles and reading spooky books.

7th grade
This dapper dude plays on soccer, volleyball, and basketball teams and plays percussion in the school band. He is constantly scheming grand social plans.

11th grade
Logan is a busy young man, who keeps solid grades and works five days a week. He dutifully practices screamo vocals. Every. night. His band is called Sunshine Pizza. They practice in the garage.

halfway through his mission to Neuquen, Argentina
Roscoe has had an unbelievably positive first year. He loves what he's doing and is learning and growing. I think so far his favorite area has been "the balsa," a remote neighborhood where he worked to establish a branch.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Saturday Vingettes

Along the sidelines of a breezy, sunny soccer game, I'm chatting with another soccer mom. We agree that it can be challenging to be a less-than-uber-conservative Mormon in Utah. I suggest the strategy of keeping a book such as this in your church bag. Then when the conservative rhetoric gets too intense, you can pass it along the pew for your children's enjoyment.

She suggested the added strategy of sharing the book with the children on adjoining rows.

Yes, We Can! A Salute to Children from President Obama's Victory Speech


Walking across the parking lot after the game, we overhear from a passing car, "Parker, I'm disappointed in you. You played horrible. Just horrible."

Levi and I agreed, that Dad is horrible. Just horrible.


Choretime scenario:

Child #1 is singing sweetly to herself.

This annoys Child #2, who decides that loudly chanting "Blah, blah, blah" is a helpful solution.

Child #3 enters the room and begins yelling at Child #2 to be quiet.

It's a win-win-win.


Among the many reasons it is foolhardy for me to leave the house: the mysterious tangles my family makes in my absence.

Exhibit A:
Who (and why?) unloaded the dirty dishwasher, filling the cupboards with neat stacks of crusted dishes? 

Exhibit B: 
Who (and why?) took the recycling bin, and what are we now to do with this empty milk jug?

Exhibit C:
Why is my blow dryer strewn across my bathroom counter, cord suspended over the sink? Is this a trap laid by a disgruntled progeny? 


A: Jesse. (As it often is.) Jesse believes he had been assigned to unload the dishwasher, though Mark swears it isn't so. The milk smears and jelly smears did not deter Young Jess from his alleged mission.

B: Unsolved.

C: Apparently Logan has taken to blow drying his hair, but has not taken to putting the blow dryer away.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Other days...

Sometimes, I send the kids happily off the school and buzz through the day completing tasks with pleasant efficiency. When the kids come home, they finish off their homework then disappear for some screen time or friend time.

Other days, I rush from appointment to errand. Things run late. Kids have emergencies. By three o'clock it occurs to me that no less than 11 kids and teens have been in and out of my van. Homework requires much hand-holding and a few tears. It's all accompanied by a screaming fit by Bets. Demands for homework help, snacks, and pick-ups overlap. The prospects for a delicious, healthy dinner are waning fast.

Today is an other day.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


According to my calculations, this is the fourteenth year I've sent kids off to the first day of school. And I have fourteen to go. Yikes! That's twenty-eight years!

Here's the first group to start school. Aren't they just adorable? Nervous, excited, clean, jumpy with expectation.
Levi- 7th grade
Haley- 5th grade
Jesse- 2nd grade

Jesse is not wearing new school clothes. His new clothes (same brand, same colors, same size even as last year's!) felt too stiff, so he started the new year in last year's worn-out duds. *sigh* I spent the day rewashing perfectly clean clothes to soften them up. However, he was quite proud of his special, spiky hairdo and asked for some solo shots.

Little Elizabeth began the three-year-old class at Apple Preschool, where Haley and Jesse both attended two years. Oh my goodness, her cuteness was reaching toxic levels as she bravely marched her little self up the steps.

Here's what she did on her first day.

The simplest little starting point in the world. 1. It means one. You write it with one straight line.

Logan is a wordly junior. Much too cool to pose for a picture. I will tell you that he is actually a very handsome young man under all that hair. And that he, of his own volition, with no prompting whatsoever, signed himself up for two AP classes. I did dare to inform him that even people as smart as himself do find the need to sometimes do some homework when taking two AP classes.
This prickly young man can drive me stark raving mad. But oh how I adore pretty much everything about him--the hair, the smart mouth, the loping gait, all of it.

I'm sheepish to admit how much I've gloried in their collective absence. My goals to foster more sibling unity this summer were not a huge success. Our family feels very Balkanized right now, and our times of collegial cooperation and intra-sibling play were too few. The peace of this emptier house feels very welcome.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I know a guy

After the other night, my life may just be all downhill from here.

I'm a huge aficionado of the one-hour TV crime drama. Specifically murders. The iconic "dong-dong" of Law & Order is music to my ears.

I love them because they're a narrative puzzle. Breadcrumbs and laid out from the opening frame, and if you're clever (and if the writers don't take any unfair liberties), you can piece it all together before the gavel falls. I can predict "It was the business partner" or "It was the landord" based on a lingering camera shot or an offhand comment during an interrogation scene.

But the other night may have been my life's zenith. I didn't just predict the ending, I said the next line before the actors. I admit, it wasn't the trickiest call. One character said something like, "How will we ever prove that someone has tampered with the videotape which contains our key piece of evidence?" The characters looked intently at each other. And the second character said, as I knew he would, can you guess? ...

"I know a guy."

And can you guess the next scene? Yep. The backroom office, strewn with cables and monitors, of a geeky audio expert.

(Yes! Someone had tampered with the tape. It was a conspiracy!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How to Build an Awesome Lego Dragon

Jesse has spent much of the summer refining his Lego skills. Here he is describing one of his latest, greatest creations.


(You should have heard Mark last night, to universal scorn, trying to support his claim that he has been an expert on dragons since the late 1990s and that it is a "common mistake" to portray dragons with four legs and wings, when in fact they have only one pair of wings and one pair of legs. Jesse quoted The LEGO Book as an authoritative source that "Dragons are mythical creatures" and can therefore have as many legs and wings as their builder desires. Logan referred to J.R.R. Tolkien's Smaug, with its wings and four legs. Mark remained unmoved.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jesse's Baptism

Along with all the madness and freewheeling inventiveness, Jesse has this little sense of gravitas. Which came into full play when he turned eight and was baptized. One thing I adore about Jesse--and that may have saved his life--is that he always operates from a place of unfailing good will. Despite his many shortcomings, he always tries his best. And this mama loves try.

On the morning of his baptism, he put on his new suit, grabbed his new scripture case, and got stoic.

This photo taken back in the good ol' days, when Mark could walk. :(
 Here are some of the people who came to celebrate Jesse moving along his covenant path. Including his sneaky Grandma, who made a surprise appearance just for fun.
I contemplated organizing a lovely brunch for our visitors. But what Jesse really wanted was a hot dog and smores party. So that's what we did. He and I chose all sorts of exotic smores supplies: coconut marshmallows, Nutella, cinnamon graham crackers, Nilla wafers....

The hands-down favorite of the afternoon was caramel marshmallows with chocolate graham crackers.

Jesse has come a long way since he tantrumed his way through summer 2013. I'm very grateful for all the progress he's made. And always, I'm grateful for the huge privilege of being his mother. Jesse is a rare gem, and I take seriously my responsibility to nurture his fire.