Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Summer Musings #2

Don't faint, y'all, but I'm posting two weeks in a row.  It's been a good week for us.

* Benji turned two on Sunday.  He doesn't really talk yet.  Most of my kids have been late talkers, saying few words until right around age two, then going from a 5 word vocabulary to full sentences in just a few months, so I'm giving him a few more months to keep up his jabbering, gesturing, and pointing before I start to worry. He has no problem communicating with us and getting what he wants.  It is truly a beautiful thing to watch how much every one of his siblings dote on him. I can't remember where, but I once read a mom of a large family lament that she finds it so sad that just when teenagers need the unconditional love so easily provided by younger siblings the most is when parents quit having children.  I would add that not only do the younger siblings provide that love, they also bring out the best, most unselfish aspects of teenagers at a time when teens are most inclined to be self-centered.  It's a win-win, and I love having a front row seat to all the tenderness involved.  

Everyone is very excited about our new baby boy coming in October. Poor Benji is about to be de-throned, but I'm sure he'll adjust well. He's a mellow, thoughtful kid. For a while, he insisted on being read The Very Hungry Caterpillar before every nap and bedtime, but he's moved on to other books, particularly if they involve trucks and cars.

Benji loves to watch Muppet vides on Youtube, particularly of Beaker (have you seen "Ode to Joy"?) and Cookie Monster. He does a great cookie monster impression that cracks us all up.  Eliza and Harmony ordered him a cookie monster outfit for his birthday and to my surprise, he actually enjoys wearing it.

Then Lillian made him a cookie monster cake for his birthday and did a pretty good job of it, too. The cake itself, of course, tasted amazing because Lillian is still a culinary whiz (she was captain of her school's culinary team this past year).

* My family is probably late to the phenomenon, but we all got hooked on the Great British Baking Show this month and are sad that Netflix only has a few seasons.  There's something so sweet about the intensity of the show and how devastating the judge's remarks can be without being mean or cruel.  "It's just about four minutes from perfection, my dear."  "It's raw."  And the people on the show can be so humble and so insecure about their "bakes" that you can't help but root for them.  The best part about the show is that there is none of the bickering or negativity that permeates most reality shows and particularly competition shows. Even when there are parts where you imagine they probably got some good footage of people getting angry with each other -- such as when one gal accidentally used someone else's custard -- they never show anything but the positive.  It's truly refreshing.

* I haven't done much landscape photography of late. Last week, Cami was up late and a little out of sorts -- she had a spat with Harmony who shared a room with her and had moved a bunch of things out of the room, insisting that she didn't want to share with Harmony anymore (usually Harmony is very sweet to her, so this is new).  So we went for a drive to the lake, took photos of the sunset and picked a few sunflowers.  It was quite windy, so the bugs weren't around, thankfully.  I think this is my favorite photo of the night:

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Summer Musings

I think if I am to begin blogging regularly again, I simply need to start writing and not wait until I have something big to share.  So here are some small mid-summer musings.

*  In our Church, we have no paid clergy, so we all take turns taking on different assignments.  This means that one year, you might be in charge of teaching a class of 3-year-old and another, of leading the music or organizing activities for 8-11 year old girls, or planning girls' camp.  It's a good way to serve and often, you are asked to do assignments that challenge you and teach you new skills.

For almost a year, I've been teaching Gospel Doctrine, a Sunday School class for adults, switching off with two other teachers.  I love it.  But last November, I was asked to substitute for the piano player in Relief Society (the organization for women in our Church) and as I sat down to play, I was reminded that the last time I'd played was on that same piano four or five months before when I'd been asked to substitute. And I felt a small nudging telling me I needed to make the piano a higher priority.  Frankly, I'm not that good.  Of the 300+ hymns in our hymnbook, I can play about 50 with ease and another 100 or so with mistakes.  But I'm also not very self-conscious about it; I figure if they need me to play, they're probably desperate enough to put up with my mistakes.

So when Lillian had a conflict with her piano lesson time in January, I took over her spot and started practicing every day.  With my teacher helping, I mastered a lot more hymns and became more comfortable in some key signatures that were especially difficult for me.

I've enjoyed having music a daily part of my life, but I'm extra glad I followed that small prompting to practice because just a few weeks ago, I was asked to be the pianist for Relief Society every week in addition to my teaching calling. I know I would be making a lot more mistakes and would be a lot less confident without that six month head start.  Tender mercy.

*  My oldest daughter graduated from high school six weeks ago. She was so happy and excited to be finished but a little sad to be saying goodbye to friends.  She's off to college at BYU in the fall and I'm thrilled for her. I'm a little at a loss to understand how 18 years passed so quickly.  I look at Harmony, age 8, or Cami, age 5, who look just like Lillian did at their age and realize that one day, they too will be leaving me.

I'm a little unsure of this next stage in my life. The fact that my first five kids were born in five years and that I kept on having them meant that for years and years and years I identified as a mom of lots of little kids.  Yet now I look at my family and I see I have five teenagers.  Not only that, but in a short five years, almost half of my kids will be leaving me.  They'll be off to college and missions and at some point getting married and having kids of their own.  My life is going to change a lot in the next five to ten years and I just don't know what to expect or what wisdom and skills I will need for it.  I ask older moms for advice and they are unhelpfully vague.

But it should be exciting.  And I'm loving this stage of my life.  My teenagers are great and (mostly) responsible and fun and they each have such enjoyable personalities.   My little ones are a ton of fun and energy and the older ones all dote on them, especially Benji.   A lot of the exhausting "everything is on my shoulders" days of young motherhood are behind me.  I still have plenty to do, but I also have a lot more discretionary time and plenty of great help when things need to get done.
The older kids, especially Joey, love to take Benji on walks to the duck pond.  He never suffers from lack of attention!
See what I mean?

Benji brushing Allison's hair.  Little bonding moments like these happen all the time.
* Summer has been lovely and fun.  My husband gets up early most days to run between 8 and 15 miles (he's a little intense with his training), and he usually brings along Eliza, Harmony, and Katie on their bikes.  Those three are also on the swim teach this summer, so they go to the rec center three days a week for an hour to practice.  That's when I've been getting in a lot of my workouts.  My three oldest all have jobs, Lillian and Michael at restaurants and Joey as a lifeguard, so they are in and out and going every which way. They all have bikes and all their jobs are within a mile and a half of our house, so they get themselves where they need to be.

We've also been swimming at the rec center, 

hung out at a splash pad (just the 10 and under crowd) 

and gone rafting at a new-ish pond in Springville named after us.

We celebrated our nation with balloons, Colonial Day demonstrations, and fireworks.

Our older kids have done yard work for our neighbors, while the younger ones were invited to make cookies with them.

Sarah, who is the most responsible with pets, added a little black bunny to our family after some neighbors found one and couldn't locate its owner.  Sarah named her Hermoine and she's very sweet.

* Another kind set of neighbors gave us the blow up slide their grandkids outgrew, and the kids have loved that!

These two officially became teenagers.  They are awesome girls!

Last week, we went up American Fork Canyon to Silver Lake Flat, where Joey fished, Michael read, and I went hiking with six of the kids before settling down to watch the kids swim in that beautiful area.

* We've not had any family trips yet and it's been nice to stay home, though there has still been plenty of coming and going.  Four of my kids went on a pioneer trek in Wyoming.

Sarah spent five days in Orlando Florida with her school's TSA club, Lillian headed off with some friends to San Diego for a weekend, and Michael is attending an author's camp at BYU.  We are blessed with so many great opportunities.

* My house is staying mostly under control.  Each teenager has one day they are in charge of meals and the final kitchen clean-up afterwards, while everyone else has five minutes of kitchen cleaning after meals, a small zone of the house to clean (plus their rooms) every morning, 20 minutes of piano to practice (for Michael, Allison, Sarah, Eliza, Harmony, and myself), and 45 minutes of outside work to do once a week.  In the afternoons, media is allowed during "quiet time" which is when Benji and I nap.  Then we do a 10 to 15 minute pick-up of the house.  Allison has earned work hours by cleaning out our pantry, while Sarah is helping with a big filing job at my husband's office to earn the rest of the money she needs to pay for half of going to Florida.

* I'm finally getting caught up on scrapbooking.  I take the weekly emails I send out to the grandparents, add my blog posts and photos from the year and make a book through Blurb.  I used to keep up with it every year but life got rather busy five years ago and I got behind.  I finally finished up two books for 2010, with Sarah's help making the scrapbook pages (another way she's earned work hours), and I'm halfway through 2011. At this rate, I might even get through 2012 before the end of the summer.  Cami would really like that because she's feeling a bit left out that there aren't any books with her in them yet.

The cover for the second book of 2010 -- they were so little!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

One a Day: March 2017

We enjoyed having Pietra and Raphael here while their mom was having her new baby

Piano lessons -- five of us taking them every Wednesday

Lillian and the Sterling Scholars from her high school

Rex Lee 5K

DH takes first place in his age group in many of his races.  He takes his training seriously!

The first flowers of spring!

Headed off to a race together

One of the last times Lillian will stand up to help everyone get in tune with her high school orchestra

Making new cushions for our back porch furniture

Pirate Day at preschool


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