Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Fourth on the Fringes

The highlight of our 2017 July 4th celebration occured first thing this morning. We were on our way to the Clearfield parade, and stopped at the store to get some candy for Audrey to throw at parade goers.  She was in the parade as part of the Clearfield High School Theater Department, which is the only reason we were going to Clearfield's parade in the first place. Truth be told, Clearfield is not my favorite parade, or city for that matter.  The parade route goes right down Main Street, past all kinds of sketchy looking businesses, and there are hardly any trees or good places to sit.

Anyhow, as we were checking out, I spotted a Diet Coke with the name Will on it, just sitting right there in the cooler next to the check out line. Just waiting for me, apparently. I could not let a  Diet Coke named Will spend the holiday in a cooler in Clearfield, so I  promptly bought it, took it to the parade and drank it in Will's honor. It was like having a little piece of  him there at the parade with us.


And then, the day just got off kilter somehow.

It wasn't  a terrible day, just.....different.  Kinda like we were just observers, not really participators.

We sat a few rows back at the parade. Most years we are on the front lines, diving for candy and waving at squirt gun carriers. This year we just sat and watched.  When Audrey came by, I tried so hard to get a picture of her in the parade, an right at the moment she was passing, my phone started ringing and I got distracted with trying to get the call to drop so I could use the camera. By the time I looked up, she was gone. I missed the whole reason I went to the parade in the first place!

After the parade, Duncan had to work til 2, so we all sat around the house for a few hours trying to figure out what we should do. We decided we better head up to the Logan house and check things out and water the lawn.  The renters moved out a few days ago, so the life of the lawn is back in our hands.

We got Duncan from work and headed straight for Logan. He was NOT happy about this shocking development in his itinerary and let us know all the way up there. We tried to convince him it was going to be okay. I told him it was a family adventure. He wasn't buying it, soI told him we would hurry and get it over with. Then Olivia piped up with, "Oh, great, it's a family outing we just want to get over with!" Ah, the girl is learning fast.

Our plans after Logan were to come back home, make a fire and roast hot dogs and s'mores, then head over to see the fireworks. We were so late getting back though, that we didn't have time for a fire, so we just fried up those dogs in the house and wolfed 'em down. Not very celebratory, and not a s'more in sight.

We made it to the fireworks in plenty of time and with a grumpy Duncan in tow, who really wanted to just stay home. His whole routine for the day was off and he was not having a good day. The fireworks were fine. Clearfield usually puts on a crazy good fireworks show, but this year, they just ended. Abruptly and in the middle of a song, with no spectacular grand finale like in other years. Everybody just sat there for a few minutes, thinking that they would start up again, but they didn't. Then the field lights came on, which seemed like a sign that things were really over so everybody got up and left. We were about half way to our car when the dumb things started going off again. So we stopped walking and stood on the sidewalk and watched our grand finale. I guess they had a bit of glitch.

Before we got to the car, a big fight broke out on the other side of the street. Guys were yelling and cursing and crowds were standing around watching. It was a little scary. The cops were right there, but it felt like one of those situations where you just can't predict what might happen. I would say the crowd on the whole was pretty rough this year. A little inner city jibe going down in Clearfiled tonight.  I don't think we will go next year. Next year in fact, we may stay inside in our pajamas, drink  hot chocolate and watch a Christmas movie. Maybe Elf. Just so we can say we were swimming against the current. We are celebrating Independence Day after all.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Out of the Frying Pan

At long last, our family closed the chapter on our elementary school days forever.

Olivia's last day of sixth grade was June 30. After stumping to the finish line of year round school, I can truly say that I will not miss one blessed thing about that year round schedule.  I don't know how we stood it for those four long years, and I am actually really pissed about it. It put a huge damper on my last child's elementary school experience and left us exhausted and drained and yearning for the traditional schedule junior high will bring.

I fully realize that last statement is a sure sign of my insanity.  Who longs for their kid to move on to junior high? I'm really not longing for Olivia to grow up any faster than she already has, and I am not ready for the maelstrom the next few years will bring us. I am sure there will be a day when I will look back with longing on the simplicity of elementary school, even with that cursed year round schedule. But for now, we are basking in the thought of a full two months of summer vacation. No homework, no lunches, no carpool for 8 lovely weeks.  When our young neighbors start back to school in three weeks, we will be sitting on the porch in our jammies, laughing and mocking.

last day photo op

Olivia was my only child to go to attend the same school kindergarten through sixth grade. And she did it all with this cutie by her side.  Here is a first day of kindergarten/ last day of sixth grade re-enactment

And here is our carpool group, one last parting shot. Olivia and Ella started out alone in that carpool, and they will now blaze the way to Legacy Junior high.

Olivia and her teacher, Mrs. Wardell

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

There Goes My Baby

And just like that, she went and turned 12.

We had a (relatively) quiet birthday at home this year. Kentucky Fried Chicken, (her choice for dinner), a couple of good friends, grandma and grandpa, family, cake presents and ice cream. 

I always feel a slight pang of guilt when a birthday passes without a huge blowout of a party that exhausts me, destroys my house, deflates my budget and overwhelms my child. Quiet family birthdays leave me feeling like an under-performing parent. I have to keep the pep talk going in my head- my kids have had a LOT of big birthday parties- way more than I ever had- and their childhood will not be ruined by a few quiet birthdays at home without Disney princesses and chocolate fountains. But the struggle is real, and I quietly fight with myself all day about it.

Enough about that. On to what really matters, which is that my baby  is 12, soon to be a Primary graduate and Sand Springs Elementary graduate. We are moving on to Young Womens, Jr. High, mascara and shaved legs. Zoinks.

She sure is a good kid though. She is kind, hard working, funny, thoughtful, loyal, loving, artistic and introspective. Some days I am sure that she is the one to finally finish off my sanity, but most days, she is also the one to restore it.   Parenting a daughter is not for the faint of heart, but my oh my it is an adventure.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Pretzels and Lemonade

Well, our second screenless Saturday has come and gone. When Olivia found out that this was going to be an every week occurrence, I thought she might just melt into a little puddle of despair and rage right there on the floor of her bedroom. She thought it was only going to be a one week deal.   After a few moments of turmoil, she pulled it together though. Today we did a little yard work, ( I fixed the lawn mower all by myself) planted the larkspur seeds I got at Mt. Vernon last year, wrote letters to Will and made pretzels. The pretzels were a huge success. Even Duncan got in on the making and rolling and shaping of them, and we all had a good time. We even boiled them in a baking soda bath before baking them, and they turned out really good.  Next Saturday, I'm thinking bagels.

This week, Duncan acquired the skill of making lemonade. He is quite proud of his lemonade, and gets miffed if  you drink some without complimenting him on how good it is. We make it with water, lemon juice and sugar, none of the artificial powdered crap for us health nuts. Maybe having nice cold lemonade around will help me conquer my diet coke habit, IF I ever decide I want to conquer it. Because I totally could. If I wanted to. Which I don't.

Audrey. Oh Audrey. She needs a job. She needs 300 bucks by the end of the month. If I wasn't going to Paris, I could help her out a little, but since I am taking her to Paris with me, I am fresh out of extra 300 dollars. She took the AP test on Friday though, so maybe now that she doesn't have to study as much,  she can find a job. Maybe she can sell Duncan's lemonade. Maybe she can sell pretzels.  I hate money. I just really hate money. I hate never having any of it.

Olivia and I have taken up running together, have I mentioned that yet? And by "taken up running", I mean we have been running twice, for a grand total of 16 minutes. Hey, we gotta start somewhere right? I am going to get that girl in shape for 7th grade gym if it kills me. Or her. I am certain that if one of us dies in training, it will be me. It almost happened tonight. She decided on the spur of the moment to just suddenly stop running and then to step right in front of me. I was still running, and crashed into her, narrowly missing splaying my old body all over the road and breaking both ankles.  First rule of running learned: Keep running, and if you stop, move away from the person behind you who is still running.  She does make me run faster though, which will be good for me. I bet with her, I can finally break that 15 minute mile mark. Hey, I'm old. My goals are simple.

 And when I got home tonight after our 8 minute run, I had a nice cold glass of delicious lemonade, for which I expressed my profound gratitude to Duncan.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Screenless Saturday

As the self appointed CEO of this joint, I made a spur of the moment executive decision while lying in bed at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, wondering why I wasn't sleeping in.  I decided that Saturdays around here, from this point on, will be known as screenless Saturdays. This simply means that from Saturday morning until 7pm  Saturday night, there will be no video games, no tablets, no Facebook, no computers, no TV, no cell phone gazing and grazing.  No screens, all day Saturday.

For many many years, Saturday was the day the boys looked forward to for playing video games. They usually didn't play much if at all during the week, but on Friday nights and Saturdays after chores were done, video games were pretty much free reign. And that worked pretty good when they were in school. But somewhere along the way, with the addition of cell phones and tablets, and WiFi, and Netflix, our screen time got ridiculously out of control. Week nights are spent in front of our various electronic devices, sometimes working and sometimes playing, but they are always on. And Saturdays have become the worst. Dan goes downstairs and plays video games, Duncan is upstairs playing video games, Olivia is squirreled away in her room on her tablet or at the computer, and I am glued to my phone. Audrey is the least offending, but she does have a ton of homework, and she does a lot of writing on her laptop.

In all honestly, most weeknights, I don't have the energy to fight it. We are all tired, and when we get everything done, we all just want to veg out for a few hours, and that is okay. But Saturdays should be a day when we get a few things done, or at least acknowledge the existence of our family members. Hence, screenless Saturdays.

To my surprise, nobody even balked that much. I mean, it was only the first week, so I'm not holding my breath. But the first one was pretty successful. Dan was a handyman machine, got Audrey's car fixed, and the lawn edged and trimmed. Duncan worked until one, and he was kinda bummed that he couldn't come home and escape to his games. He survived though. He helped Dan get the lawnmower fixed. Olivia and I went to Wendy's and hung out at the mall together. She wore lipstick for the first time too, so that was exciting. Audrey was at youth conference all day. After dinner, Olivia suggested we go see Lego Batman together. It was a nice Saturday. We will see what next week brings.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Junior Prom- April 15, 2017

Can I get just a small hallelujah choir in the background please?

 I have just completed the last but certainly not the least of several large and hairy projects that have been congealing on my plate for the past six weeks. They were all terribly boring, time consuming, tree destroying things that suck your soul and your will to live. You know, like taxes and passport applications and work certifications. Medical crap.  All that dumb adult stuff I somehow got sucked into without ever realizing it.

Anyhow, as far as I know, it is all DONE, for the moment at least. So now I can finally get around to the important stuff, like posting Audrey's junior prom pictures.

We were like, the most awesome host family ever, and when we heard that Nicole really wanted to go to prom while she was here, Audrey arranged a date for her with our neighbor Jake, who was pretty cool to agree to go to prom with a girl he had never met. Jake goes to a different high school, whose prom was on a different night, so there was no interference there.  He even delivered the cute poster to officially ask her, and then she got to answer him by delivering a poster and candy to his doorstep. That was a fun night.

We had to get a shot of the back 'do's, courtesy of the talented Nikki. Nikki the hairdresser neighbor, that is, who should not  be confused with Nicole the German.

This picture makes it look like Audrey has a red corsage, but no, hers is the really pretty white one with a hint of purple. She had an odd colored, although lovely, dress and her date Zach did a great job of matching it.

I know I'm a little biased, but I think these two are the cutest couple there, especially the girl.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Lull

Audrey pointed out the other day that it had been over 50 days since I updated this old beast of a blog. She knew this because my last post was about Will being gone 130 days, and we are now past the 180 day mark. Yes, it has been quite the extended break in our little world.

It's rather Twilight Zone-ish that he has been gone six months and is 1/4 of the way through. For your kid's whole life you think about those two years he will spend on a mission. As it gets closer, you start to count down how long you have left before he leaves. But you never spend much time thinking about what it will be like while he is gone. And suddenly here we are, smack dab in the middle of this time that we planned for and thought about for so long. It is weird that time is really passing, he is really out there tooling around the streets of Mexico, and these are his mission days. We just better buckle up and enjoy every moment of the ride, because it's already starting to seem like quite a fast one.

We have not been sitting around pining however. Life keeps happening here too, and while I for sure can't catch up on all the comings and goings of the past 50 + days, I will attempt to make a small accounting.

Duncan is a working man again. He got a part time job at McDonalds, making fries. And he is a substitute custodian for the school district, so he gets called in last minute to cover when regular custodians don't show. He is happy to be working again and is looking forward to a paycheck coming in one day soon.

Audrey, in addition to our big Paris trip coming up in June is also going to New York City in August with a group from her school theatre club. She has been busy working her tail off to earn money for this adventure She has been selling cookies and brownies, babysitting, and now has a temp job at a store that is closing. She has to earn another 300 bucks by the end of May. Yikes.

And perhaps our biggest news of the month is the arrival and departure of this kid:

 who came to stay with us from Germany as an exchange student for three weeks. In three weeks she managed to wrangle herself right into the middle of our family, going from complete stranger to adopted daughter and sister in 21 short days.

Nicole and Audrey hit it off right away. While she was here, she experienced Walmart, Zion National Park and Las Vegas, the mall, Target, Del Taco, Park City, Logan, Cedar Fort, Red Dot shooting range, the spiral jetty, junior prom, bagels, general conference, high school, school buses, Dr. Strange, Hot Topic, and so much more. She left for Germany last Friday, and we are all still recovering, but we have plans to meet for lunch in Paris for a grand reunion.

I have tons more pictures of all of the many adventures that happened, but we must pace ourselves on this the first day of blogging in so long.  Suffice it to say we really liked our German.
 We all bawled when it was time to see her off. I'm getting kind of tired of taking people to the airport and telling them goodbye. I'm going to look forward to picking people up at the airport. Or better yet, being the one to leave.

Which leads me right into  a nice segue of our next trip to California, planned for a few weeks from now, in which we will go to Alisa's graduation and then pack her and Erwann and two cats up and move them to Utah! Yeehaw!