Monday, November 15, 2010

Blast From the Past

Jeff, Ally and I were supposed to go to San Diego on Saturday.  Riley changed our plans by throwing up each and every hour on Friday night.  You didn't want to know that?  Well, I will spare you the exact details.  Since we had time at home we weren't expecting to have, Jeff put up the Christmas lights.   
Yesterday, Riley didn't go to church, but did start feeling better in the afternoon.  She got up and practiced the piano.  She picked out the one finger version of Jingle Bells.  She told me she must be out of her mind.  "This is supposed to be the month for turkeys," she exclaimed.  I personally like getting to Christmas things early, but she has always been funny about it.  Here is a little post I wrote about her four years ago, when she was four:

My older girls started singing Christmas songs in the late evening of October 31.  They are into it.  We love seeing the early decorations going up, well, I thought we all did.  For me, it is a reminder to stay on top of it.  It helps to get organized so I won't go crazy next month.  I like enjoying a long season.  I don't mind that the stores decorate to try to make more money. Our country is built on that.  Make it if you can...right? 
We went into a Mervyn's on Saturday night, and Riley exclaimed, "What are they thinking?"  It was beautifully decorated, and you would think that a four year old would be delighted.   Maybe she is like one of our relatives who called a radio station to inform them that she will NEVER listen to them again, because they played a Christmas song the day before Halloween.  I, for one, cannot imagine caring about that.  When I hear people complaining about Christmas displays, I think of cranky, old scrooges.  But Riley?  It baffles me. 

Well, another issue Riley has, is with Santa.  One afternoon, I was playing Christmas songs, on my new piano.  I was singing too.  I had Riley sitting by me, and I thought we were having some nice bonding time.  Suddenly, she put her hands over her ears.  She said, "I don't want to sing any more songs about Santa."  What?  She said, "I don't want him to see me when I am sleeping."  I had to stifle wild laughter.  Think of how these lyrics might creep you out, if you really thought about it...."You better watch out, you better not cry.  You better not pout, I'm telling you why.  Santa Claus is coming to town.  He sees you when you're sleeping.  He knows if you're awake.  He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake."  I am not allowed to sing, "Up on the housetop, reindeer pause....out jumps good ole Santa Claus...."  
Riley does love songs about Jesus though.  She is going to be good at "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger" by the time December 25 does roll around.  She is a good singer, and I guess she is not going to waste her talent on Santa.  This just might be good for our whole family.  We will focus better on what Christmas should really be about.  As a side note, Riley is going to sing a little solo this Sunday in church.  The kids are putting on a program, and Riley is going to be one of seven kids who each sings a verse in a song of Old Testament prophets.  She will sing the verse about Jonah.  She has practiced without showing fear, and seems to adore the microphone.  I am dying to know what she will do in front of a full congregation.  Emilee has a verse too, about Samuel.  She sings very well, but is not excited like Riley is.  Okay....back to my regular post.
Well, with my older kids there were usually a few times during the Christmas season that I would correct their behavior by reminding them about Santa.  I think with Riley, I might just have to threaten to sing about Santa, and her behavior will likely improve.

Just to give you an idea of Riley from back then, this was my Christmas card in 2006: 

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Tradition

Voting was the last thing on my mind when I turned 18 years old.  At that time, I was glad that my vote was the only one being processed when it came to deciding what time to come in at night.

I still didn't vote when I was 21.  I should have been more grown up by then.  I could have voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984.  As it turned out though, he didn't need me for the victory.

I was nearly 30 years old when I actually registered to vote.  By this time, I had two little children.  I decided I would help them to be more civic minded than I had been.

Back then, Kids Voting was a new thing.  It was actually started very close to where we lived at the time.  Our kids could come with us to vote, and cast kid ballots of their own.  We all enjoyed this experience. (I remember that in 1992, six year old Ryan voted for Bill Clinton for the very important reason that he thought Al Gore looked a little like Jeff.) 

Our family started a tradition back then of discussing the candidates and issues, voting together, and then going out for an Election Day Breakfast.  We did that for years.  Sometimes the kids were late for school because of this tradition.  We got some curious looks from school secretaries when we explained the situation, but no one was ever critical.

Now I know Kids Voting still exists, and that some communities go with it more than others.  I just haven't seen it for a really long time.  Even when it wasn't present anymore, we continued our election day traditions.  We could still discuss issues, and celebrate our vote together.  The last couple of years, it started to really lack something.  I can't identify the exact issue.  I just know that our tradition ran its course.  I love what we did, and now I love that we stopped doing it. 

Why do I love that we stopped doing it?  Because this year, I think we found a new tradition.  I requested early ballots.  It was awesome sitting with Jeff and going over the ballots in detail.  We talked each other into some things, and out of other things.  I appreciated his explanations about certain wording in the issues.  I expect to do it this way for a really long time.  We didn't involve the kids this time, but we'll figure them in somehow in the future.  Maybe I will put Riley in charge of making me a sticker or something....I did miss getting a sticker;)

I meant to write this yesterday, so I could express my appreciate to all veterans who made my vote possible.  Well, I am late for that, but still very thankful today.....


Friday, November 5, 2010


It was easier than ever getting ready for Halloween this year.  Riley was a witch in her dance recital in the summer, and was thrilled to wear the same costume.  She wore this to school on Friday of Halloween Weekend, and to the church trunk or treat on Saturday.

Here is a picture of Riley and her cousins at the trunk or treat.  I was having trouble with my flash, and it took a little while to get a picture so the Witch and the Aloof Rock Star don't look quite as good as in their original poses.  I believe the Zombie makes up for it though!  Isn't she great?

While the rest of us were at the trunk or treat, Kaitie...a pirate....was at a party with friends.

On Sunday, Ally passed out a little candy to the trick or treaters.  The highlight though, was our traditional Halloween in the Hallway.  I wrote about it in my last post....

Here are some of the characters I saw in my hallway last Sunday:

Each time there was something especially amusing.  In this round, that scary white thing on the left was silent.  No matter what anyone said, the response was only given with the eyes....frightening eyes.  It was hilarious. 

We have so many costumes these days.  Riley is wearing the pirate costume she wore at the end of the school year in second grade.  She used the ship she made as the candy container in this round.

For years I have been trying to get Emilee to dress as Dorothy.  She won't do it in public, but she said I should be happy now that she has at least modeled the outfit for me.

What is Ally in this picture, you ask?  Well, she said she is her 15 year old self!  (It was a short dressing-in-black stage she had.)  Emilee said she was a different kind of Cinderella.  Kaitie is a Hershey's Kiss, and Riley is a fairy princess.

When I opened the door this time, I was greeted with Ally singing:   
You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain
Too much love drives a man insane
You broke my will, oh what a thrill
Goodness gracious great balls of fire!

And then the "show girls" popped out from behind her....

Silly show girls!

Ally was trying to get her Grinch costume together here, but she could only find the hat and the dog.  She ended up putting on a robe and saying she was Mrs. Claus....and she wasn't feeling well.  Riley was a beautiful princess.  Edward and Bella showed up too.  They didn't say much, but they ever?

I thought the game would continue, but after this the girls pretty much attacked the candy bag and called it good. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

All of My Girls....

...have brown hair now.

Kaitie's new shade is even darker than Emilee's this time. I think it is cute. Soon I will have a picture of all four girls together. If I hurry, I will get that done before Emilee goes red again.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Really Funny Game....

Halloween is not my favorite.  It is fine, but not a big deal to me.  
 In 1999, Halloween was on a Sunday.  We did costumes and candy on Saturday, and imagined that we were finished with the thing.  Well, I had restless kids on Sunday.  Ryan was 13, Ally was 12, Kaitie was 6, and Emilee was 3.  We keep things pretty church and family oriented on Sunday, and I wondered what I could do to help the kids get through the afternoon at home. And, what could we do together that they would all enjoy?  A game was born, called Halloween in the Hallway.

Jeff and I took the candy into our room, and the kids could knock on the door to "trick or treat."  That doesn't sound too exciting, does it?  The real trick was, that they had to be dressed as something different each time they knocked.  It turned out to be so fun!

I wish I could find more pictures from 1999.  I can only find these two:

 I can't remember what everyone was trying to "be" here, except Ryan was a blind man, with a dog. 

There should be sound effects for this picture.  I know you don't recognize this group as The Backstreet Boys.  They were singing, "I Want it That Way."   The game turned out better than I imagined, because the kids got into it together, and helped each other have a really good time.

When Halloween fell on a Sunday again in 2004, the kids were older, and even more creative.  Here are a few examples of what I saw when I opened my bedroom door.  (Riley had come along by then, but we were mean and did it during her nap time.)

(Right here Kaitie is saying, ".. harsher punishment for parole violators, Stan.")

Even though Halloween is not my favorite,  I am really looking forward to October 31 this year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lady Lucille...

Six months ago, I went with Kaitie to audition for two plays.  She and I sat nervously watching people deliver monologues and sing without accompaniment.  I don't think she knew how nervous I was.  After all, I didn't have to do anything.  As for her, she also appeared very calm on the exterior.  I just know her.  

At the first audition, when it was her turn, she went through her short, cute monologue pretty quickly.  The directors looked pleasant enough during it, but I couldn't judge any reaction.  Then, she sang.  Both directors started scribbling notes down, while hardly taking their eyes off of her.  She prepared a song that sounded amazing.  For her singing, I would say she got the best reaction of the evening.  Remember, I watched the whole thing.  Kaitie had a similar experience in the second audition.  She ended up singing a solo in the play connected with the second audition.  That was in May. 

The first play was "Once Upon a Mattress," which was put on out at the college.  Kaitie did not play a main part, but was in the chorus as a lady in waiting.....Lady Lucille.  I didn't even know that was her name until I read the program.  

I was proud of Kaitie as I watched the play these last two weekends.   She delivered her lines well.  I expected that she would.  I could hear her specifically, and know that she can stay on the music even on stage.   I knew she could do that.  Watching her dance was a highlight for me.  I told her that was the best of all, because it is well outside her comfort zone.  It is impressive to me that she had the courage to do what does not come naturally to her.  She did a great job.

Here is Kaitie joined on both sides by the other lovely ladies in waiting....

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Choir Girls

Kaitie and Emilee are fortunate enough to be part of an excellent choir program in high school. There was a concert last week, and it did not disappoint.

Kaitie wears the black Performing Choir dress, and Emilee, the black and white Beginning Choir combination.

This is what the beginning choir looked like from the audience....lots of kids!

I was pleased that Emilee's spot was on the end of the row, so I could get a decent picture.

And, what luck!  Kaitie was also on the end of a row.  I love it when that happens.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Beautiful Shoes

Emilee started dancing with a nearby studio about three years ago.  It has been hard work, being a little bit older of a beginner.  (Well, she danced when she was little too, but back then it wasn't about dancing, it was about cuteness.  She missed lots of years in between.)  One Friday evening in September, Emilee got the news she has been waiting for.  She was finally allowed to get her pointe shoes!

Those shoes are not available locally.  We didn't waste time though.  The next day, Emilee and I took a quick trip to the Chandler Mall.  I am not much of a shopper, but if I have to go to a mall, this is the one to go to.

 I took this picture outside of the dance store, with my phone.

Ally lives over there, so she met us that day at the mall.  After Emilee was fitted for her shoes, we looked around for "missionary wear" for Ally.  Emilee and I had all kinds of opinions to share. 

Em was horrified when she found out how few outfits Ally was going to be able to take.  Here she is, offering Ally some comfort.  (It is not that bad at 8-12.  Do I even have that many?) 

And here are the beautiful shoes. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

You Say It's Your Birthday.....

For a little stretch in August, we went from one birthday to another.  Here are the quick highlights:

Riley was thrilled to turn eight!

We had just a small party, as we knew we would have a bigger celebration for her baptism.

Kaitie had one friend over to help her make the cake.  I loved having this particular friend over, because she jumped up and down with Kaitie the day that Riley was born.  They were fourth graders when they received the news at school.  They screamed and chanted, "Riley Rebekah, Riley Rebekah...."  It was fun to hear them reminiscing about that.

A couple of days after Riley's birthday, we had Ally's birthday.  She was excited a few days before when she and I exchanged texts about what she wanted for dinner and dessert.  Real home food!  She placed her order for brownies, instead of cake.

Ally also got her sisters to stand together for a picture.  This is not easy.  They agreed to do it because it was her birthday. 

I think Ally's favorite birthday moment was when she beat her dad in a game of ping pong.  He doesn't let people win.  The kids work really hard for their rare victories.

Just a few days later, we traveled to Phoenix for another birthday.  My niece was turning two years old.

My sister put on a really cute Minnie Mouse party for her.  This was the moment she almost didn't blow out her candles.  It only took a tiny bit of convincing, and she did it.

This isn't the birthday girl, but another two year old niece, having a little chat with Ally.  Don't you love those little Minnie cupcakes?

This is just an idea of how crazy the Cousin Pool was, later on that afternoon.  Everyone had such a great time!  Riley was so unhappy with me when we had to leave.

Kaitie and Emilee did not come to Phoenix with us that day.  They were a bit vague when I asked them what they had done all day.  I didn't have to wonder long....

The day before my birthday, which was the day after the Phoenix trip, they had me stay in my room for awhile.  After a long wait, Kaitie came in and told me to close my eyes.  She handed me a shirt and told me to put it on without looking. You have no idea how funny it is to do that!  Then she led me to the family room, where I was issued a necklace and sunglasses.  "Birthday" by the Beatles was playing in the background.  My family was having a 60's party for me.  

The day before, they tie dyed a shirt for me.  They also walked (in August heat) to get me an amazing carrot cake.  They made posters and plans.  It is a good thing I didn't get mad about the being vague thing.  I would have felt terrible!

I love these funny girls!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Did it My Way....

A truck loaded with pears from Oregon arrived locally awhile back. Since then, I have heard much talk of preserving pears. I have seen beautiful displays of shining jars lined up, and ready to take their places in the Museum of Preserved Pears. I wanted to join in somehow.

Well, the half a box we ate fresh is just a distant memory now. They were really good.

I preserved the remaining half box, and now it looks like this:

So, I didn't pay enough dues to be a Gold Club Member, or whatever that highest membership is called, but I hope this gets me "in" on some level.....;)

Friday, October 8, 2010

How Can This Be Two Months Ago?

School started this year for Riley on August 9th.  These two months have flown by, leaving me feeling almost confused.  I remember when time felt like it dragged on, each minute making itself fully known to me.  Now it swishes by, and I have to consciously register it, or it will just be gone.  Strange. 

Anyway, it seems that every year, the weekend before school starts we are out of town.  My kids have missed school open houses often.  They have had to dig at least a thing or two out of a suitcase to be ready for the first day of school.  This year, we went to a quick family reunion in California. 

The reunion was for my dad's family...his brothers and sisters and their families.  That would be quite a group, if the total would come together.  Even a fraction of the group added up to quite a few people! 

This was one of those quick road trips where the drive time is almost equal to the time actually spent visiting with family.  What do we do to make drive time bearable?

Well, we stopped for a little bit of shopping....just a little bit.  Riley got these new shoes for school.  Then she spent a long time in the car learning to tie them.  I know she is a little old for that, but she never had tie shoes before.

When I took a picture of this little tunnel, Emilee was frantically trying to call Ally on her cell phone.  My kids hold their breath when we pass through tunnels.  Do yours?  Mine have taken it up a notch, and try to get someone on the phone to hold their breath too.  Ally didn't answer, so she didn't get the pleasure this time....

I started drawing faces on toes when Ryan and Ally were little.  I know it is weird.  This is a very entertaining activity though.  It is very hard for feet to stay still while a different face is being drawn on each toe.  This becomes especially difficult in the car.  Riley and Emilee really wanted me to do it though.  One time I said, "Don't look now, but I think I just drew a picture of Grandpa."  (Just kidding, Dad!) 

Once we got there, we had a nice time catching up with family we hadn't seen in awhile.  We ate good food.  Jeff, Kaitie and Emilee played some volleyball.  I should have taken a better variety of pictures.  It seems I mostly took my camera out at the beach. 

The beach was definitely a highlight for us.

My fun cousin, just younger than I am, got all decked out in her wetsuit so she could play with the kids in the freezing cold water.  Notice the kids don't mind the cold.  That is Riley out there on the right, getting some boogie board instruction.  She and her second cousin, who is on the left had a blast out there!

Although Riley was nervous at the beginning, it didn't take long to get going!

It was cousin time for me too.  These are two of the best in the world!

I loved seeing my cousin as an adorable grandma. 

Emilee and Kaitie stayed on the shore for awhile....

....but soon they got some boogie board time too.


There is always a talent show at our family reunions.  This picture is blurry, but not so much that you can't tell what the "accessories" are in this picture!  I love these girls.  I said to my own girls, "Now maybe you understand my family a little better....."