Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day

Our Memorial Day began with Kent helping the Boy Scouts in our ward to set up flags in neighbors' yards. I always love looking down streets as we drive through our neighborhood and seeing rows of stars and stripes. By the time he was done, we were all waiting in the driveway to go to breakfast at Callie's Cafe with Kent's family. Our tradition is to stuff our faces there every Memorial and Labor Day with menu items like Killer Hashbrowns and the Garbage Omelet. Good stuff!

I don't know why my brother-in-law Matt had a hoodie on the whole time--I think he was trying to hide bedhead maybe?--but I thought this picture of the Unabomber playing with #3 is pretty funny. Our goodbyes lasted a while as the little cousins had to hug and re-hug everyone. Cute! (That pic is a bit blurry because I've messed with it too much in posting this blog. Sorry.)

Around noon we headed to Salt Lake to spend time with my Grandma Betty. She was nice enough to entertain the kids with a game of Dominoes while Kent and I took power naps. That big breakfast made us sleepy!

With our energy restored, we walked to Temple Square and toured the Conference Center. We took a picture of #5 with his namesake, Heber C. Kimball, in the "Hall of the Apostles". The kids loved the garden on the roof and could not keep their hands out of the "streams" and fountains of water up there.

At the end of the tour we took time to enjoy the Church's International Art Show where Grandma pointed out my cousin Emmalee's painting, which won a Purchase Award. (That means the LDS Church now owns the original painting and will display it wherever they like. Emmalee hopes it will go back to Ghana. The painting is of a member there.) I love her painting style and didn't see anything else like it at the show.

One piece was an etched glass door, which was displayed by the "waterfall window". I liked this photo of my children there.

On our way home from Salt Lake we visited with my parents who had returned that morning from a trip back East. We kept the visit short, which was still enough time for my kids to partially tear down the net on their trampoline, spill root beer across their deck (good choice to eat outside) and leave greasy hand prints on their windows. Just leaving our mark!

Monday, May 25, 2009

School's Out For Summer

The school girls finished their last week on Friday. As with most schools, the last week had very little classroom time and lots of outdoor time: a field trip to the zoo, class parties, field day (with a Harry Potter theme--very fun), and the annual Core Knowledge Assembly. Core Knowledge is one of the curriculum programs the school uses. It covers history, science, and social studies. The music and PE teachers plan around the curriculum, and on this day each year the students put on a program of dance and music that correlate to their Core Knowledge subjects. I like that it's not a canned program and instead has new songs and dances each year. In seventh and eighth grades, each student studies a musical instrument, and this year the orchestra students accompanied several grades' dances. At the end, the guitar students (acoustic and electric) played two rock pieces that the students went nuts over. I was seriously impressed by how much restraint they had shown up to that point because when they all stormed the asphalt screaming and jumping around--there were even some crowd surfers--the contrast in behavior was quite remarkable. The first picture is #3's first grade class dancing around the Maypole. You can see her in the bottom left corner. #2 is dancing a country waltz in the second picture. When I posted the picture, I noticed her partner wasn't dressed as a cowboy or in uniform...and then I noticed he's not even in her class. I have no idea who that kid is! #1 is dancing a sword dance in the last picture. (She's at the left.) They did a cool part where they overlapped their swords to form stars that they held up and danced around, but I didn't get a good shot of that. Trust me, it was cool.
This school year was good, but we're all looking forward to sleeping in for a few months. ;o)
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Monday, May 18, 2009

Close-Ups From My Yard

Last Fall I planted 425 bulbs (mostly tulips) and I was so happy with the result this spring. I am also very happy to have a new camera with which to show them off! I played around with the settings and took half these pictures on a breezy day before I discovered the macro feature, and they still turned out great. Some of them I didn't have to crop; the camera lets me get that close. There are some lilacs and an allysum thrown in too. I like the photo of the dying tulips in the bed. I think they look more delicate when their petals start to curl. In the middle of the slideshow is a tulip that must have cross-bred with something last year. I planted that bed three years ago and have never seen a flower like it. The petals are part leaf (you can see the green), and they are very frilly. They're unlike any single bulb I planted. I also like the last tulip, which is dying and its petal fell straight down. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Not An American Idol

When I sing the hymns in Church, #5 usually covers his ears and shakes his head. Today at lunch while I sang something, my niece began shaking her head "no". When I didn't stop, she started howling, "Noooo. Noooo!" They're more critical than Simon!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Facing My Fears

Are you ready for a story from my childhood?

When I was a seven-year-old in second grade, our elementary school had a tradition of showing a movie to all the students on the day before Christmas break. That year someone on the faculty must have picked out a random Disney movie without previewing it. There we all were in the gym with the lights out seeing "The Watcher in the Woods". Disney really shouldn't have ventured into the business of scary movies; it was very misleading. Only a few minutes into the show, children were crying and asking to go back to class. It really jumps into being creepy from the very beginning. If you've ever seen the movie, you might remember the scene where the little sister jumps up at the side of Jan's bed wearing a green monster mask. This was so startling that most of our audience screamed. At that point, they stopped the film and announced that all the Kindergarten and first-grade classes would be going back to class immediately and the rest of us had the option to do so. I didn't want to look like a wimp, so I stayed through the whole scary thing. As a result, I had nightmares for months!

This past March, Kent and I were at a game night. We played a game where everyone was asked the same question and then we took turns trying to match people to their anonymous answers. One question was, "What is the scariest movie you have seen?" Five of the 12 people there said "Watcher in the Woods". We had all been scarred by it in childhood. So last weekend, one of my fellow gamers pulled out the DVD and said it was time to watch it as adults to get over our fears. It was still pretty creepy. I was surprised how vivid a lot of the scenes were still in my mind. I kept saying, "Is this the part where...?" And it always was. I guess having replayed those scenes dozens of times in my dreams kind of seared them in my memory. I'll admit to once or twice viewing a scene through my fingers last week, though the whole experience wasn't as bad 26 years later.

Then the healing came. We discovered two alternate endings on the DVD menu. They are pretty similar to each other, but not at all like the ending in the original movie. What happens is so bizarre scary that when it's over, you just laugh! I still wouldn't show it to a kid because they do make it scary. But an adult will recognize how far off they get from the feel of the rest of the movie. Both endings show the watcher that was in the woods, and it's just weird. Also, Karen is freaky looking. We kept staring at her trying to figure out if they dressed up a guy for the part. (I'm still not sure.) Anyway, if you need some healing, you can see the shorter of the alternate endings here.* (You may want to turn off your speakers to ease yourself into it. The sound isn't really necessary anyway.)

BTW, it's probably the worst Christmas movie ever! And one of my friends said her elementary school in Idaho also watched it for their pre-Christmas break movie. Shame on Disney!

*Note: Okay, I am a wimp. I decided I didn't want to directly link a scene in my post that starts out so dark. But you can find it pretty easily on YouTube. Here's the spoiler: the watcher is an alien. It/he kind of looks like the one on "Independence Day" but with raggedy, ghosty-looking arms. Apparently, the eclipse caused the alien and Karen to switch places and trapped them in the wrong dimensions. In the longer alternate ending, the alien takes Jan to a giant spaceship where she finds Karen and brings her (17-yr-old Karen) back home. The ending scene is Jan and her sister with happy music in the background and Jan is so happy that Karen and the watcher are both home now. Like I said, it's very incongruous with the rest of the movie, which I imagine is why they went with the creepy ending where Karen comes back as an adult and there's really no explanation about what happened that fateful night 30 years earlier.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Shows Go On

The last two nights have been full of entertainment for our family. Last night, Kent took four of the children to the Hope of America Student Showcase at the Marriott Center in Provo.

This annual events kicks off Provo's Freedom Festival. #1 is somewhere in the fifth red stripe down. Can you find her? We all had a lot of fun reviewing the songs, which we learned last year and were provided on a practice CD, so during the performance, #2 and #4 sang along. Interspersed with the students' songs were other singing and dancing groups. My kids' favorite were the dancing grannies. One of their members, who is 98 years young, did the splits! Wow!

While they were at BYU, #3 and I joined Grammy and ScAmyLu (Kent's brother's family) at UVU for the Lipizzaner Stallions show. This was a treat for me to see because I've wanted to see the Lipizzaners since I was a young girl. The show included lots of explanation about the history of the horses and their use in war and with royalty, and they did several demonstrations of the different "steps" the horses learn. It was very interesting as well as entertaining. They call them horses of battle and ballet, and it was stunning to see these horses and recognize how noble and intelligent they are. #3 and I both had a good time. (FYI, it looks like the horse is just rearing up, but he actually holds that position for several seconds, which is difficult because it puts all his weight on his back legs and throws the center of gravity off. Impressive!)

Tonight the three oldest girls and I performed in a piano recital for my students.

I am proud of all my students for the progress they have made in the past nine months or so. This is the first year that I've had students besides my own children, and it's been great to be consistent with lessons. In years past, we got lazy with piano lessons when life got busy, so I'm glad my kids didn't give up on me completely at that point. I've really enjoyed teaching and spending more time on the piano myself. I was a little surprised that I was nervous to play my piece and consequently made a few mistakes. I guess getting over the jitters is not something you grow out of with age. Or maybe I trained myself at a young age to be nervous at recitals. I think my students felt that same nervous energy tonight. It's just part of performing, no matter who the audience is.

Did you notice? I am including pictures taken inside my house...and they aren't yellow! My friends got me a new camera as a thank you for babysitting. I'm so happy! When everyone left I sat down and read the first 47 pages of the owner's manual as I played with the different features. Too bad this isn't our Book Club reading this month, because I think I'll actually finish this book. ;o)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mr. Doo Is No Longer Two

Heber-Doo (or just "Mr. Doo") is my nickname for #5, who turned three years old today! Against my better judgment--but in compliance with his wishes--we threw a birthday party for him with his friends. The theme was sports in general, and I figured we'd have great weather for running races, kicking balls, and playing outside. But of course this is Utah. It rained and rained. So we ran races, kicked balloons, and played with his new toys inside. We did have a brief reprieve and I let the kids take their punch balloons outside...where most of them popped when they came into contact with pine needles in our grass. If you want my opinion on friend parties, don't start them until your child is four or five years old. Some three-year-olds just have a bit of a hard time being at a friend's house without their mom.

It is somewhat strange to me that the baby of my babies is three years old. I'm happy to report that I've never experienced baby hunger since his birth, so it's strange to think these phases of babyhood and toddlerhood are the last ones I'll see in my home. I absolutely wish I could have frozen him in time about six months ago. But it's also great to see him developing into a little man. He likes to stand by Kent in the morning and share shaving cream or talk about how he's not afraid of sleeping by himself in his bed now that he's a big three-year-old. Thankfully, he hasn't dropped all of his cute babyishness as of today. He still asks me to fix his shirt because it's "inside in", and when I remind him to ask nicely he replies, "Nicely." I sure love this little guy!