Monday, March 29, 2010

Dance Party and Cookies 3.29.10

So I've told you before that Josh is getting into the cooking thing. The thing about him is that he has no preconceived notions about cooking (other than that he is SURE he's a better cook than I am. If you consider the cakes I've destroyed this month, he might have a point, but over all, I'm a pretty good cook! Little stinker). Because he's a bit of a blank slate, he just chooses to make whatever looks interesting to him. Me, I think about it. I know how long something will take. I know what kind of mess a recipe will make. I know the tastes of the other members of the family.

But I'm beginning to think this is a liability. Josh is bringing the fun back into cooking.

Today he decided to make Maple Cinnamon Pinwheels. These took forever. They made a huge mess. No one but me really liked them. But it was fun and we were all happy making them.

So happy, in fact, that a dance party broke out spontaneously. Hooray for kitchen dance parties.

Spring Has Sprung 3.28.10

We thought nothing would say "Gorgeous Spring Sabbath" like walking to the small playground up the hill with our neighbors, Blake and Leanne, swinging, sliding, and trespassing on the construction site so Ben could get close to a real excavator and the kids could revel in climbing up and down dirt piles.

It was just one of those lazy Sunday afternoons that we all needed, wandering up and down the street, visiting with neighbors who have been hibernating since the fall, eating dinner late because the sun was calling to us for too long.

And now I hear it's going to snow tomorrow. Shame on you, Mother Nature. Shame.

Easter Egg Hunt 3.27.10

Our neighbors held a killer Easter Egg Hunt. After our Friday weather of sun, rain, hail, and snow, we weren't sure what Saturday would hold, but hooray for good weather and welcoming hosts.

We've passed the six-month mark since the move. It seems amazing that it's been six months already. Little by little, I'm finding myself planting roots, and although some of the roots have to do with the beauty of the mountains, most of them are digging deep as I find myself learning about and loving the people around me. I had some misconceptions about who would be living on this hill with us, and I've been humbled as I've been proven wrong. Pre-judgment is a dangerous thing, isn't it?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Old Friends and New Friends 3.26.10

When I was growing up, I heard often about my former bishop's granddaughter, Jill. She was an amazing pianist and a brilliant student, a year ahead of me in school and all of the elements of The Remarkable Jill made her seem somehow fictional. And then I went to BYU and glory be, The Remarkable Jill was also a piano major studying in my new teacher's piano studio. The Remarkable Jill WAS all she was cracked up to be, but she also became my dear friend.

I have lots of Jill stories, but one of my favorites is from the last year of my master's degree. My cellist friend, Nicole (another Remarkable Friend) and I decided to fly to Colorado for a concerto competition. The problem was that we had to find an accompanist, and we couldn't find one in Colorado, so we asked Jill if she might fly with us and be our lifesaver. She thought about it, finally said yes and we had an incredible weekend, full of great music and being followed in a bad area of town by some scary people.

The kicker was that she had said yes even though she was a MOTHER WITH A BABY. She had to leave her nursing baby at home. I still can't believe we asked her. Obviously, I was NOT a mother yet.

ALSO, she thought there was a chance the plane would crash and we'd all die, but she decided to do it anyway.

That's a real friend.

Jill is one of those friends that you can forget to call or see for a long time (like a couple of years...), but when you call her, it's like no time has passed. I love this kind of friend. AND she's still Remarkable Jill. I could tell you all about the remarkable things she's done in the last 15 years, but that would make a very long post.

So Jill has some remarkable children. Her daughter Catherine is in 8th grade and plays the flute remarkably well. She had a competition in Salt Lake, and Jill asked if I could watch her youngest son during the competition. That was a big yes. Ben and Seth had a blast. They've never met (shame on me), but you never would have guessed it watching them play hard.

So here's to old friends and new friends. I hope Seth and Ben get a lot more time together in the future thanks to piano group.

What? I haven't talked about piano group? Oh, I'm so excited about piano group. I'll save it for later, though.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cake Fail. Yes. Again. 3.25.10

It was my turn to host book club. I was very excited and went over lots of dessert options. I decided to go with Katy's Tunnel of Fudge cake.

This is how it turned out.

Yes, that is the plate you can see through the big hole in the back of the cake.

Since this is the third cake fail in one month, I'm considering giving up cake-making. This would be tragic, though, since I like eating cake so very much.

Whatever should I do?

I think I'll make another cake.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shameless Bragging 3.24.10

Our new elementary school has a program called AR (Accelerated Reading). Kids read books outside of school, then take computer tests (to prove they've read the book, I presume) and earn points based on their answers. The books are worth different numbers of points, based on length and difficulty.

Last parent teacher conference, Sophie's teacher encouraged her to set a goal that would push her slightly, so Sophie decided to try to earn 45 points in the third term. This was the highest goal set in the class, apparently.

She told us today that she earned 172.5 points. Her teacher told her it was the most points she's ever had a student earn in one term. While she read many other books, her big achievement was going through the entire Harry Potter series for the first time. That's some serious time spent reading.

She also read all of the Percy Jackson series (minus the last book, which we don't own) but the computer doesn't have those tests, so her 172.5 points don't even include these books. This picture is of Sophie writing the book report on the first Percy Jackson book that will give her the AR points for books without tests. Josh was helping her remember the names of the main characters, and arguing over correction pronunciation. Sophie: "Hades". Josh: "It's Hay-DEEZ, Sophie. Not Hayds." Sophie: "Whatever." Such love.

Books. I love books. I love that my kids love books.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Aminal Preschool 3.23.10

Kate and Ben made a preschool for their aminals. They read them stories, had them take naps, and fed them noodles for snack.

I hope their childhoods can last a little bit longer. Time is speeding by so quickly. So so quickly. I just want afternoons with aminals to hang around for a few more years, and I want to pay attention when they happen.

And they'd better not start calling them "animals" anytime soon or I'll be crying in bed.

Bowling 3.22.10

No school! We went bowling with some families in the ward. Kate won. It was fun.

Forty Years 3.21.10

So March 21 is my parents' fortieth wedding anniversary.

Being the responsible and loving daughter that I am, I did something spectacular for this momentous occasion.

I forgot.

I mean, I knew their anniversary was coming up. I had it on my calendar. But on the morning of the anniversary I started to wonder which year they'd be celebrating. And then it hit me. I'm 38. They were married a year and half when they had me. Therefore...


It was not a good morning. I did not feel like a very good daughter. Let's face it. I WASN'T a very good daughter.

But they were gracious about it, and I think of all the kids, only Briana realized it was such a big day beforehand.

Some of the kids joined them for dinner, and according to my mom, they had a nice night. My mom doesn't like to talk about herself much, so as Bri started pumping her for "Lessons You've Learned in the Last Forty Years," she didn't have much to say. This is one of the bits of wisdom she decided to offer:

Lower your expectations.

I know! It's so romantic.

So maybe that's her advice (which I think is actually pretty sound), but this is some of what I've learned from my parents' forty years:

Kiss hello and goodbye.
Hold hands when you walk together.
Say a kneeling prayer before you leave each other in the morning.
Play lots of games. The board kind, not the mind kind.
Spend time with your extended families.
Never complain about church responsibilities.
Love each other despite differences.

So what does my picture of the day have to do with my parents' anniversary?

After David and I got home from dinner in Heber with his mom and got the kids to bed, we were pretty worn out. I found myself putting things away in the kitchen and thought, "I wonder if David would like a drink of water?" I got out two glasses, filled them with ice and water and brought them downstairs. And what did I see?

Two glasses of ice water already sitting on the coffee table.

I looked at David and said, "Look what I brought you!" and we started to laugh. It was a little Gift of the Magi like (well, not really). But my heart melted and I thought, "THIS is one of the secrets of marriage. We got it right tonight!"

So here's hoping that in ten years I can do up my parents' FIFTIETH anniversary right. And in 21 1/2 more years David and I will have a chance to look back at OUR last forty years and feel grateful for all the glasses of water we've brought each other over the years.

Still More Federation 3.20.10

Josh and Sophie had ANOTHER chance to enjoy all the fun that Federation has to offer, but on the string side this time.

Josh's new favorite composer is Bartok, which I think is very cool. He and Nicole play Bartok duets most lessons, and he chose one with some cool double stops for his choice piece. He played so musically. I've loved watching him come into his musical self this year.

Sophie played well. This year has been a big one for her, too. Her practicing has become much more focused and she's learning faster.

I'm so proud of both of them.

Talent Show 3.19.10

I am dying here. I will not name names but someone pushed the wrong button on the camera and there is no video of the cheer. Honestly, this is tragic. You all would have loved to see Skateboarding, I know, but it is lost to the ages now.

Sigh. It's very sad.

The talent show was a smorgasbord of fourth grade talent: a magician, a chicken imitation, a joke, an artist, seven or eight pianists, four violinists, two sets of breakdancing boys, a bunch of dancing girls, and a couple of singers.

It was an hour and 20 minutes of fun. And David had the day off so he got to see it, too. He was very excited. Ben pushed a chair around. He was very excited.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Warning: Not For the Faint of Heart 3.18.10

Public Service Announcement: Once again, my blog is doubling as birth control. If you want to believe that all is sunshine and roses at the GreenHouse, please read some other post.

First of all, have I mentioned that Ben is giving up his nap? I have? Dozens of times? Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't remember since I'm so SLEEP DEPRIVED from having him up until almost midnight if he falls asleep for TEN MINUTES while I'm driving.

And secondly, have I mentioned that when I keep him up WITHOUT a nap, he becomes a two year old possessed Ghostbusters style? From about two or three in the afternoon, I chase him around making sure he's not hitting the dog, or Kate, or Josh, or screaming in Sophie's ear. Or stealing cookies. Or rearranging my bedroom.

So today I was tired. And then he made mischief. And I thought I needed a padded room.

But I made it through. And I even made French dip sandwiches on homemade hard rolls. Super yummy, even though my sweet two-year-old monster would only eat white bread with no crust. Honestly. That is all he ate today, other than chocolate chip cookies. Oh, and two wedges of apple "without the crust."

And then he decided to help clear the table and he shattered one of the bowls full of broth. So after picking up the shards of pottery, keeping the dog from licking up some glass with her broth, and cleaning the beef broth that showered all over the kitchen (and Ben), into the tub he went for his THIRD BATH TODAY.

And to put the nail in today's coffin, I said, "Just please don't poop in the tub."

And so, of course, he did. In the tub full of every bath toy we own.

Once he fell asleep for the night, and the cleaning was mainly over, I raided the kitchen to see if I could find any cookies Ben had missed. Because some days, only sugar will make things feel better. And today was one of those days.

(Note: The picture was taken BEFORE the tub became a disaster cleanup area. I was already planning to post about Ben and his wild day and his three baths and how parenting is not always what I expected it to be.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Short Sleeves and Swinging 03.17.10

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

(Robert Frost, A Prayer in Spring)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

People Who Might Become My Friends 3.16.10

Tonight was our ward Relief Society dinner (LDS translation: Relief Society is the LDS church's women's organization.) I went. I laughed, played the piano for a rehearsal, listened to one of my favorite pieces (My Shepherd Will Supply My Need), ate, and laughed some more. I needed to laugh a little.

I was reminded why I love Relief Society. I love the mix of women, the openness, the willingness to share parts of ourselves with those with whom we don't always have a lot in common, the gentle conversation, the road to sisterhood.

But yeah, I don't know most of their names yet.

I guess that will come.

I guess it will all eventually come.

Some people have told me it will take a year to feel at home. Some people have told me two years. My mom (and I love that she's keeping it real) told me four years.

But whether it's a year or two or four, I will eventually feel at home. These faces will be familiar to me. I'll know their strengths and weaknesses and joys and pains. They'll be my sisters.

And that's worth the wait.

Until then, I'll just study the ward directory with the pictures above the names and try to remember who is who.

Preparing for Takeoff 3.15.10

First of all, let me go on record saying that I HATE Daylight Savings Time. Hate it hate it hate it hate it. Losing an hour makes me cranky and nasty and miserable.


I DO like getting an extra hour of daylight at night, and apparently so does our whole neighborhood, as when we got home from violin and cello lessons, everyone was out partying in the street and David was happily flying his RC plane from the back porch.

So it probably doesn't matter that dinner was served at 7:45, right?

We Are Family 3.14.10

Mom and Dad came up for their yearly ski trip with their buddies, but extended their trip a day to see all of us. All the grownups got to go to dinner on Saturday night, and we had the family over on Sunday for dinner so we could all hang out before their flight.

Here's Holden. Pretty sure he's a prodigy.

I love seeing the cousins together. This is BEFORE they did makeovers. (Hi, Abby! Are you reading this?)

Evy loves noodles. I mean she LOOOOVES noodles.

And so does Shirtless Ben.

Yet Another Night Picture 3.13.10

What do you get when I forget to take a picture until bedtime?

A picture of my sleeping boys.

(Or a picture of my messy living last night. Let's see if I can remember to take a picture during the DAYTIME tomorrow.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Movie Night 3.12.10

This is how the downstairs looks after movie night.

OK, this is how the downstairs looks a lot of the time.

But especially after movie night.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home 3.11.10

David left on tour with the symphony on Monday.

This is how we all felt when he came back.

Real Life 3.10.10

The toys. The never-ending pile of toys.

Ben can dump out more toys in five minutes than I can clean up in thirty. I'm so glad that the big kids are willing to help. I tell them it's only fair, since I cleaned up their toys when they were two.

I must admit, though, of all the toys, Little People are some of my favorites.

Skateboarding??? 3.9.10

Sophie and her friends are trying out for the fourth grade talent show. They decided to do a cheer (?) and made up their own (very) original cheer along with some awesome stunts:
5. 6. 7. 8.
You might be good at football,
You might be good at cheer,
But when it comes to skateboarding,
You might as well step back.
Go on.
Step back.

As far as I know, none of them have ever stepped on a skateboard.

I love fourth graders.

Sophie thought she'd cover all the bases and tryout with a violin piece as well.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bedtime 3.8.10

Do you SEE the time? 11:17. It's 11:17 and all but one of my children are still awake. Plus the dog is making me crazy.

Josh was working on an English assignment. I forced him to bed.

Sophie woke up with leg cramps. I rubbed her leg and sent her to bed.

Ben. Oh, that dear, sweet Ben. Today was lesson day, so we had a couple of late afternoon hours in the car, and of course he fell asleep. So now he CAN'T fall asleep. Last night he snuck out of his bed, brought a box of cereal in to his room to spill on the carpet, tore all the covers off his bed, and brought the bath toys into his bed to spill water on his mattress. Tonight he's changed his clothes twice (who knew he was so good at putting on shirts? I didn't!), read books, and had two poopy diapers. I've told him he can only come and get me if he gets stinky. I think he's learned to get stinky on command. Honestly. Maybe that means potty training will come more easily. (We can always hope...)

Oh, and now it's 11:30 and I just heard his bedroom door softly close.

Tomorrow I am buying one of those childproof doorknob thingies, because I think I will go pure crazy if this goes on much longer.

And did I mention David's on tour until Thursday? Heaven help us all.

Birthday Dinner in Heber. Also Cake Fail. 3.7.10

David's mom is a remarkable cook, and our birthday dinners are always calorically devastating. Case in point: baby back ribs, cream cheese mashed potatoes (I happen to know that she uses a stick of butter in the potatoes and puts another half a stick on the top), fruit salad, beets, clam dip with potato chips, green beans (the lonely half a stick of butter left over from the potatoes ends up in the green beans) and orange rolls dripping in sticky sugar and icing.

So the dinner was covered, but David's mom asked me to make the cake.

No problem! I'm great at cakes, right?

I may have gotten out of making cakes for the rest of my life with this one.

My No Fail Seven Minute Frosting?


Oh well, it tasted good and everyone laughed a lot. At my expense.

(What's really funny that I thought I was going to hit a home run here. A rectangular layer cake on a rectangular serving platter, frosted with mounds of fluffy white marshmallow goodness? It was going to be gorgeous, and people would think I was really all that and be intimidated by me. I thought that would be fun. Turns out it's more fun to have it look like this mess.)

Piano Federation 3.6.10

The Federation Solo Festival comes every March. Until this year, I've always judged and never been able to listen to all of my kids perform, but thanks to our move to Davis County, I got kicked out of the Salt Lake Chapter. So this year there was no judging at all. After nine or ten years of judging two full Saturdays every March, this is quite a change. I've enjoyed the break, but had some bittersweet moments as I realized an era of my teaching life has come to a close.

Kate's teacher, Bridget Johansen (who is so fantastic), was so kind and offered to take Josh and Sophie as temporary students so they could enter under her studio. She taught them all summer and then for February to help them get ready. There were many many hours that I thought we wouldn't be able to pull it off, but the kids really worked hard (even if for one of them, it was a lot of last-minute preparation) and each of them ended up with a Superior rating. I'm so very very proud of their hard work and so grateful to Bridget for her wonderful guidance.

Kate played at nine. Well, I thought Kate played at nine. When I pulled out her judges' sheets to see which room she'd be playing in, I saw that she actually was supposed to play at 8:30.

So typical. Man. Sometimes I make myself a little disgusted.

The judges were very kind and fit her in anyway.

Josh played at three and Sophie at four, so we had some time to kill.

We found my friend Emily and her dog Happy. (Hi, Emily! You DID make the Picture of the Day.)

We should have found a babysitter for Ben. Here is how the last thirty minutes went:

I wonder at times if the convincing to practice, the money, the driving, the headaches, and the wrong notes are worth it. I wonder if they'll be angry at me for pushing them to do their best. I wonder if they'll remember how it felt to be pushed, but then how it felt to take on the responsibility personally and find joy in the process. I wonder if they'll love music like I do, for its pleasures and pains, for the onward struggle to be our best.

I think they will.

But if not, at least we'll have those Superior certificates.


Ben's Snow 3.5.10

My Brothers 3.4.10

Brent came up for a short visit (not long enough to suit me!). I loved having him around. Honestly, these brothers of mine are so fun. This isn't the best picture (hello. focus a little there, Kerri), but Brent's smile is so infectious.

I have six younger brothers, and they are all so different and so amazing. I think the plan is that we'll all be together for this Christmas, and I can't wait to listen to them laugh.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My David List 3.4.10

It's David's birthday, but he's working working working, so I didn't get a picture of him. This one was taken from his iPhone as he blew out the candles on his Work Cake. At least he got a LITTLE celebrating, right?

We are in one of those magical marriage phases right now, where the sacrifices, small and large kindnesses, and the just plain hard work are coming together in a happy happy way. It's rather enjoyable, I must say, and I am feeling full of love for this remarkable man I married.

Things to know about David:

1. He's really good at his job, and he has a remarkable way of helping people who are overwhelmed or frustrated. I love it when I get to hear stories about David at work from a colleague. They open my eyes even more to his gifts and talents.

2. He adores chocolate cake. And chocolate chip cookies. And chocolate chocolate chip cookies. And Cummings chocolates. Vanilla...not so much.

3. He loves cars. He especially loves BMWs. He also loves motorcycles, but thanks to me he has to love them from afar.

4. He makes up songs about people in his life. They are very funny.

5. He likes cheesy pop music. Sorry, David, it has to be said, because it's just one of those things about you that doesn't add up and makes you so interesting. And fun to tease...

6. He really really likes me. Even when the house is a mess. Or when I'm a blubbering emotional mess. Or when I tell the world that he likes cheesy pop music. It's nice to be loved.

7. He loves cinnamon rolls and loves it when Liz makes them for him. I make them, too, but they're apparently not as good as Liz's.

8. While he misses Grandview Circle and our friends from the old neighborhood (dreadfully), he is endearing himself to people here. He's even convinced the choir director in our new ward that we need to have a party at her house by asking her every week when she's going to throw us all a party. He's all about the parties, especially when they involve chocolate.

Happy Birthday, David!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

David's Birthday Cake, or Yet Another Job at Which I Would Stink 3.3.10

David's birthday is actually tomorrow, but he has to work all day and go to a concert in Ogden tomorrow night. I can't believe it, but I actually thought ahead and realized we should celebrate tonight. Amazing. So we had dinner in the dining room and I made his favorite dessert: a chocolate three-layer cake.

It's really pretty, isn't it?

Ummm, pretty except for the whole top layer fell apart while I frosted it. Guess I won't apply for a job at a bakery any time soon.

Good thing its looks didn't affect its taste.