Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: Kids (page 3 of 19)

Let’s go out to the ball game

My new camera came today…Hooray! I went with the Nikon Coolpix S8200, which is pretty much the same camera I got for Cole, only it’s an older model. It had pretty much the same features but I could find it for about $60 less than the 9100 I was looking for.

I took some test shots just playing around.
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And I was super glad that I brought my new camera to John’s baseball game.
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John’s team has done very well this season, and even though John hasn’t really liked playing on a team where he doesn’t know anyone and it’s not full of his friends like the past couple of years, it’s been a good experience.
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There were three games this week, and tonight was the last of them. The championship game, and as it turns out, they were playing against John’s friend Hunter’s team. Tonight John’s team was hitting great, and quickly outscored the other team. And while I was chatting with someone, all of a sudden it was over.

They had both teams line up for congratulations and trophies.
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Then it was John’s team’s turn, and each boy got their treasured trophy.
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(I love that this camera doesn’t make me wait forever between pictures! It’s quick and pretty small, and I think we are going to be friends. That is, provided I don’t drop it, spill on it, or get sand or dirt in the lens.)

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I’m glad he had a good experience with this team. They did win all their games, so even if it wasn’t a hang out with friends experience, hopefully it builds his confidence and he’ll want to play again.
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Great weekend. Bring on Summer!

What a great weekend! I wish they could ALL be this great.

Saturday night we went out to Eagle Mountain for the Pony Express Days Rodeo.

Rodeos are an American thing, and we thought Larissa would enjoy it, so we were glad to be able to find a rodeo so early in the season.

It was windy, but not as windy as it had been the couple of days before. The bad part of the evening was that John really wanted a soda, so I told him he could have a Fresca from the back of the car. He stuck it in my purse, but not before starting to open it. I didn’t think it was open, so I wasn’t worried, but the bouncing around was just enough to make that soda leak all over my purse. And my camera that was in my purse. Ack. I took it out to take pictures, and the light blinked at me, but the camera wouldn’t do anything. Ugh. I took the batteries out and let it dry, but the next day it was still not working. I don’t have the best track record with camera. Probably because I take the camera everywhere, and it often gets dropped, splashed on, and generally abused. Still. With Cole gone, and Natalie can’t find her battery charger, we’re left with only Larissa’s camera and the tiny cheap one I got from a friend. Such is life, right?


The Rodeo was fun. I really liked the clown at this one. There was a scary time when a rider hit hard on the ground, and they had to call out the paramedics. He was on the ground not moving for a long time. I sure hope he is all right. Larissa asked why the horses were bucking so much, and I had to explain about the strap that is placed in an uncomfortable position.

Fun night. Although we were pretty much covered in dust and dirt when we came home. Showers for everyone!

Sunday dawned early for some of us. I had to get up to the Tabernacle by 7:35, so that meant getting up at 6:00. I don’t see the Memorial Day Broadcast on YouTube just now, but it was a really great program. We played America the Beautiful and then played with the choir on a couple other songs. As I was sitting there on the stage, I almost forgot that we were there to perform. I was just so enthralled with watching the amazing orchestra RIGHT IN FRONT of me, with the Choir behind me. I love my calling!

This is a busy week for us in bells. We have our spring concert on Friday, and that means extra rehearsals this week. It’s always nerve-wracking right before a concert when we realize we are not quite ready, and things are not perfect. We do the best we can, right?

After the broadcast, I made it back in time for the end of sacrament meeting, where it was the farewell talk for not one, but two missionaries. I just scooted into the back and heard the end of the last talk before going to nursery.

The rest of the day was nice and casual, no other places to go. I had a much needed nap.

Monday we did some garden work first thing. The kids even found a garter snake and we all took turns holding it and playing with it. It was just a little one, so not too scary. We let it go in the flower beds, so hopefully it will carry out it’s job of eating bugs or mice. We got the tomatoes planted, and Ryan’s bucket system is up and running again. I have also been sorting out Cole’s room. Sheets to wash, clothes to donate or pack away, etc. Larissa’s mom is coming to stay with us this Thursday evening, and that’s the room she will use, so I can’t put it off any longer. Luckily we was only in that room for three weeks after he moved home from school, so it’s not too entrenched with his stuff. Speaking of Cole, though, I’m quite disappointed that I haven’t heard from him yet. Wasn’t he supposed to write to us on that very first day? I even made him a mad-libs type letter that he just had to fill in the blanks, then put it in the addressed, stamped envelope and drop it in a mailbox. But here it is Tuesday, and we still haven’t heard one word from our missionary. This is going to be hard.

After lunch, we piled the kids in the car to go to This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake. I haven’t been there in years, and I think I only had two or three kids when we went, so it’s been a long time, and they have made lots of changes. It was SO MUCH FUN!
My beautiful picture

We rode the train, toured Brigham Young’s house, bought some candy at the ZCMI, made a craft at the furniture store, went to the leather working store and the kids pounded a little design in their leather.
My beautiful picture

I don’t have many pictures (see above), but I may add some once I borrow the pictures from Larissa’s camera. When we stepped into the barber’s shop, he had John hop up into the chair for a shave.
My beautiful picture
After his “shave”, the barber suggested John might need a tooth pulled, or perhaps he wasn’t feeling well and might need some leaches, or other blood-letting. He declined.

We had so much fun there, and it was the perfect day! Sunny, but not too warm, and not very crowded, since it’s just the beginning of the summer season. Since it was only $20 more to purchase a year pass, we splurged on that, and now we can go a few more times and enjoy all the things we missed.

My beautiful picture

The kids had fun with the pony ride, and the petting zoo. There were even baby emus! And chicks. Of course, there were baby chicks. The kids all went gaga over the chicks! Then they were all BEGGING to get some. Do they not remember what a PAIN it is to have baby chicks? I guess not. Even Ryan was saying he wanted some chicks, and the guy walked by and said, “Oh, these are for sale.” No. We don’t need more Buff Orpingtons, thank you very much. Isn’t 5 enough for you? But we did get talking about buying some chicks….. Can you believe this is the same guy, who merely two years ago did NOT WANT chickens? This is CRAZY!

After we left the park, we went for dinner at Cafe Rio, which pleased MOST of the family. One of them wanted a hamburger, but he was voted down. Can you guess which one that was?

The kids were so sweet, saying, “Thanks, Mom! This was the best Memorial Day EVER.” I don’t know about best ever, but it was a darn fun day.

Success!!

Just a few more days of “school” to get through this week, and then it’s full time summer break.

Eek! I had better get myself organized or the chaos will take over.

Just another Tuesday night

Tuesday seems to have become the new Friday, or day that we have so many things going on we can’t keep up with it all. Last night was an especially busy one.

Ryan and I both went to work, and the kids went to school. Cole didn’t have work or school, but a list of things he was to accomplish while we were gone. One of those was to renew his driver’s license and get a copy of his driving record.
2:30 Megan, Jenna and John usually arrive home
3:00-4:00 Piano lessons for Jenna and John (when I’m working, Megan gets to take the kids to their lesson.
3:30 Piano for Natalie (different location, Megan also drove her to that one)
3:40-I was finished with the long long day in Kindergarten, and instead of coming home for 10 minutes, decided to just drive to Natalie’s piano lesson to pick her up. I spent a blissful 10 minutes in the car with the window open, listening to her practice her recital piece, Beautiful Savior.
4:05-Natalie’s done. After talking to the teacher for a minute, I went to the other piano teacher to pick up Jenna and John. They had walked part of the way home, and were waiting for me in the shade of a tree at the Stake Center.
4:15-Arrive home.
4:30-Ryan had gone to get his hair cut, and arrives home shortly after.
4:45-Cole’s friend comes over, and I send them both to go and pick up some Little Ceasar’s pizzas for dinner.
4:49-Megan leaves for work
5:15-We eat our VERY nutritious pizza, and John gets ready for baseball
5:40-Ryan, John, Larissa and I get in the car to take John to baseball. We drop Larissa and John off at the field (she was the only person available to go to his games, and he doesn’t have friends on his team this year, so I couldn’t just send him with a teammate.)
6:00-Ryan and I arrive at the Alpine School District Office to attend part of the school board meeting. I had been invited because I was receiving the “Spirit of PTA” award for Alpine
School District’s Region 9 PTA. We got there a few minutes late, but just in time for the start. The Lone Peak Basketball team was honored for their accomplishments this year. Besides winning a state and national championship, did you know they were named teen crush of the week by 17 magazine? Really. And they clean up nice, too.DSCF1909

After I got my “MAJOR AWARD”DSCF1915 (which is not a leg lamp–darn–but a small plaque, and not even a gift card, can you believe it? Whenever Ryan receives an award from work, there seems to always be a gift card or some other prize, but the schools and the PTA–they just give you a round of applause and a $4 plaque),DSCF1943
DSCF1912 we waved to John on the baseball field as we drove past, and came home so that I could help Natalie with her hair for her choir concert.

7:00-Cole drove Jenna to YW, Ryan got started on his big ol’ conference call to India, and I tried to curl Natalie’s hair.
7:30–I took Natalie to her choir concert at the junior high.
7:45–I got a call from Larissa that they were done at the baseball game, so I called Cole to pick them up. He went and got them, dropped John and Larissa off at home, and then came to join us at the junior high choral concert. I was sitting by my parents, and had saved him a seat. He sneaked in after the first group just in time to hear Natalie’s group sing their numbers.
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Lest you think the girls are being sassy in their singing, these pictures were from the Alto’s Lament song, which is so cute.

At 9:30, we all came home. Except Megan, who was working until 11:00.

Oh, the the activities that were missed were Peter Pan rehearsal and Young Women’s.

WheW!

Spring Concert

Wow! What a week that was. With two 7 am practices and two 8 am practices, we were all feeling a bit tired by Friday, but we were there early to set up.

There were a few snafu’s, I cannot lie. The janitor was just sweeping when I arrived at 6:45 to set up. He got kind of grumpy with me when I said I would need two 6 foot and one 8 foot table. He thought I had said I wanted two 8 foot tables. Nope, that’s not gonna work for me, especially since I spent HOURS sewing table covers, and had finished them the night before and lugged in table covers for two 6 foot and one 8 foot table (NOTE–sewing a table cover for an 8 foot table is NOT simple. I felt like I was drowning in fabric!). Thankfully, he found me the tables I needed, and the wooden block things to lift them up off the floor a few feet. Oh, and the band lady wasn’t there exactly ready to go at 7 am EITHER, so she couldn’t get irritated with me that we weren’t quite ready.

I got everything set up, extra borrowed chimes and all, and we were ready to go.

The school does two concerts for the kids during the day, one for K-3, and one for 4-6. In the first assembly, the band teacher was announcing, and while we were all set up to play our song from Hercules, she said, “And now we’ll hear from the orchestra, who will be playing STAR WARS.” The kids all cheered because…well, who doesn’t want to hear Star WArs? Then she realized her mistake, and said, “Oh, wait, the CHIME CHOIR will now play “Go The Distance” from Hercules. (Groan from the kids. Seriously.)

What a hard thing for my kids, to play through some groans of disappointment, to kids who many of them didn’t even recognize the song we were playing. BUT, they played it well, and kept their composure.

Before the second concert, several of the kids said, “Can you tell the band lady not to mess up like that again? That was embarrassing.” Right.

The evening concert went well, too. They played the Star Spangled Banner and Go the Distance. I am SO proud of them. Who would have thought that after only 8 months of playing, they could master a song like that. It almost brought tears to my eyes. Several of the parents thanked me and one set of Grandparents came up and thanked me and shook my hand.

AND, I don’t have chime choir rehearsals any more! Well, we are going to have ONE rehearsal before we play at the Highland City Spring Open house in May, but other than that, we are done. I plan to bring those chimes home, get busy ordering a set for us to use next year (thanks to the pta, the school, and all who donated to my kickstarter fundraiser–thank you!!!!), and get my music and things organized.

Oh, yeah. And my missionary! Cole comes home this Friday or Saturday, and we have MUCHO things to do with him. So, it’s not like I’ll be just sitting around. Plus, my sub schedule is filling up–have to stop that from happening too much, because I want to be getting things done here at HOME, not managing squirly little kids.

I’m SO Happy with how things turned out!

John’s television debut

This week I got a text from a neighbor. She said she was a talent scout for a local informercial company, and they were looking for a boy who looked like John. Would John like to go on a shoot?
Heck, ya!
I told her that sounded like fun, and we worked out the details.
The night before, I casually mentioned to John what was going to happen, that he would get to be checked out of school so we could go to this commercial filming thing, and how fun is that?
“I don’t really want to,” he said.
What? Having already committed to take him, I had to do some quick thinking. “They’ll pay you $12 an hour,” I said.
“What?” exclaimed Megan, “that’s more than I MAKE!”
I didn’t mention that it’s also more than I make as a substitute teacher, but that’s a sore subject, so I wasn’t going to bring it up and get ridiculed.
“Ok,” John said, “I’ll do it.”

We had to get a few clothing options ready, they said “colorful shirts” both long and short sleeved, and two different pajama options. So, I packed a big bag of clothes for John and a couple of snacks, and went back to the school (I had already been there from 8-9 for chime choir) and checked John out of school. We were supposed to be to this place in Springville by 10:30.

We got there in plenty of time, and Kandice at the front desk was super nice, and escorted us to the green room. Wow! It was like a nice, cozy family room. There were couches and a big tv, complete with x-box and cool games. There was also another tv around the corner and movies. John was glad he came. So, we settled in to play x-box for a while. No problem.

I had been told that it was a lot of waiting, so I was prepared with a good book on my Kindle, and I didn’t mind the wait at all. It was a little cold, but there was even a cozy blanket I could use to wrap up in. After a little while, Kandice came in to check out what clothes we had brought, and it seems they wanted a long sleeved blue shirt, which we hadn’t brought, so she went to go buy one quickly. More game playing. After a while, we were beginning to get a little bit bored, and then she came for us again. She had John change into the dark blue shirt and sweat pants, and we went into a big garage like studio in the back.

I forgot my camera, and had to take pictures only with my phone, but I’m having trouble getting those on to the computer, so we may be pictureless for this post–darn.

They brought us in, and told John that they were going to replicate a commercial that they had already done, and that’s why they needed a blonde boy in a blue shirt. You can check out the original infomercial here. This new product, instead of Dream lights by pillow pets, it’s dream WAVES. They had him sit up on a mock bed, with lights all around and green screen. He thought it was cool, except that he had to sit there on that “bed” (which was NOT cushy and comfy like a bed, by the way) for a long time while they worked on getting the lighting right. When they finally said “action”, he just had to push the light, look up, and look around on the ceiling and walls with wonder. No lines, no speaking, just looking. And they only filmed him from the back.

When I asked him if he thought this was fun, he said, “Not really,” but I thought it was kind of fun. Interesting, too.

We were there about 2 1/2 hours, and it’s maybe a 5 second shot. But it was something fun to do with my boy, and he’ll be super excited when they send his check, AND when we can see him in the commercial!

What a weekend–Spring Break edition

Friday–Birthday party for Larissa
Since it was her ONLY birthday in America, we had to throw a party for Larissa. There were about 12 kids there, including the family, and they were a casual, fun bunch, who were willing to play the silly games I had planned. When people first came, they went downstairs and played Fussball until I called them up to eat. Larissa loves salads, so I had a salad bar. I know, right? It was quite a spread, and it made her so happy. There was also pizza for the non-salad lovers.
salad bar

After they ate, I sent everyone outside for a rousing game of flour ball tag, where you throw nylon balls filled with flour at each other. It doesn’t hurt when you are hit, but it leaves a white mark. It’s like a softer gentler version of paint ball, and lots of fun.
flour tag

Then it was time for “Chubby Bunny”. Everyone has to stuff a marshmallow in their mouth and say “Chubby bunny”. The next round, another marshmallow, etc. Until the person gags, throws up, or spits out their marshmallows.
IT was funny and quite disgusting.

After that, we came inside and played a quieter game, called the pictionary telephone game. People write down a phrase, then pass it to the left, and that person has to DRAW that phrase, and cover up the written phrase. The next person has to write whatever it was the person in front of them drew, and then pass. They came up with some pretty weird interpretations.

There were also Charades, lots of talking, a movie, presents,and, of course, cake and ice cream. Nothing fancy in the cake department, I just made Texas Sheet cake.

The kids all seemed to have a great time. I hovered, wandering in and out of the family room while they were watching a movie, cleaning up and putting things away. At 11:00, I thought everyone would go home, but they were still laughing and talking. One of Larissa’s friends even ASKED a boy out to the upcoming spring fling. She was all casual about it, like she asks boys out every day. So proud of her! After the boys left, I encouraged the girls to ALL take her example and ask boys out. You should have heard their reaction to that. Ha. At 11:30, I did make everyone go home. Ryan wasn’t home, or I would have let them stay up later, but I was just SO tired, I had to go to bed.

(A little pat on the back for me, Larissa told me that was the best Birthday party she’d EVER had. Of course, she also told me that she hasn’t had a party since she was about 8, so the bar was set pretty low.)

Saturday–Young Women Broadcast
On Saturday, Natalie had to get ready to go to the conference center to sing in the YW broadcast. Many of the girls in our stake had been asked to sing in the choir for the broadcast, and they have been preparing and rehearsing for over a month now. It’s been a fabulous experience for them, and I’m so glad Natalie was able to participate.

She had to have her hair all curled and meet her carpool by 11:15. I took the other girls up at 3:30, and we had some time to wander through temple square a bit before we took our seats in the conference center. I forgot my camera, but she looked lovely in her yellow.
The meeting was wonderful. I paid so much more attention to the talks, and the music was SO beautiful! I wish we could do that every single year!

Afterwards, when we had met up with Natalie and gotten out of the parking garage, we met our friends over at Crown Burger. It was SO fun to let the girls all sit together and chat, and I had a chance to talk to some of my dear friends. Since it was Larissa’s actual birthday, I got the girls to sing to her, and she was thoroughly embarrassed.

Sunday–Easter,
Sunday morning came early for this girl. I had to be up at the Tabernacle by 7:30 am to prepare for the Easter Broadcast.
I can’t seem to get the video embedded, but you can watch it HERE, if you want.

The Bells played one song without the choir, and two songs with the choir. It was such a beautiful program, all about Easter and rebirth. My sister, Amy, even drew the artwork for the Spoken Word, so that was cool that we could both be involved in the broadcast on the same week. Even though I LOVE ringing with the choir and will take any opportunity to do that, it’s SO exhausting. By the time I come home at 11:30, I feel like I’ve put in a full day’s work, and I still have to go to church. I made it for the last part of sacrament meeting and nursery, of course. The kids were a little bit hyper, and one sweet little girl told Ryan, “I am so mad at you!” when he told her to stop grabbing toys from another child. They make me laugh.

At home, I left instructions for the kids to set up another table and finish the devilled eggs.
I HAD to have a little nap. Even after my nap, I was still tired and grumpy, which isn’t the best combination when you are trying to get the house cleaned up and food ready for a large gathering. But we got the tables set up in the basement and the kitchen, made the funeral potatoes, and then people started arriving.

Between the three of us girls in my family, we have about 24 kids. Really. So, with adults and grandparents, we had 35 people there, (give or take a few small ones). Luckily, I had pre-filled a LOT of eggs for our Easter egg hunt, and each of the kids was able to find 5-9 eggs.

The weather was nice, too, which was a relief, because I didn’t think I could find that many hiding places for eggs inside the house.

The kids had fun getting together with their cousins, and we all enjoyed talking and eating together with family.

Monday-Spring Break

Monday morning was the start of our Spring Break, which meant no school and we could all sleep in, thank goodness!
I started the day off with some weed pulling, then took the kids to Tracy Aviary.

We took an abundance of bird pictures.


Even though it wasn’t really warm and it was sprinkling rain, we had a nice time.

After lunch, I took the kids to Sheels, the HUGE new sporting goods store. Good thing my camera battery was dead, or I would post pictures of John and Megan on time out sitting outside the store. Seriously, kids, stop fighting and acting like brats, or I will never take you anywhere every again!

Anyway, once inside, everyone had a good time, and they especially liked testing out the exercise bikes.

That night Ryan and I met some friends at the Hale Center Theater in Orem for a great night at the theater. We saw Civil War, a musical. Kind of a downer of a subject for a musical, but it was very well done, and there were some excellent songs. I was afraid Ryan would totally hate it because of his reaction to Les Mis was “too much singing and too depressing”, but he made it through this one. A big thanks to our friends Tammy and Marin who invited us, it was a great night.

So, that was our big exhausting weekend! Wow, right? Maybe that’s why on Tuesday, after Larissa left to go to Moab with friends, and I took Megan shopping for some much needed clothes for her birthday, I fell asleep on the couch while watching Mission Impossible.

Sisters. Or ARE they?

I have one daughter who is walking around today saying she doesn’t want to go to church.
What is it about church you don’t want to go to? I ask her. Is it Young Women’s? No, Young Women’s is fine, she says in her most bored voice. Is it Sunday School? I ask, trying to be patient. No, Sunday school is fine, she says, sounding even boarder, if that were possible. Sacrament Meeting? I ask. What could be wrong with Sacrament meeting? Is there something special happening in Sacrament Meeting that you especially don’t like?

The truth finally comes out. “The Young Women are SINGING in sacrament meeting.”

That’s it? Singing? By the way she said it, you would have thought she was saying that all young women would be giving blood, or standing up there in their underwear. Singing? How could singing be so bad?

Contrast that with her sister, who for the past month has been attending a two hour rehearsal every Sunday to prepare to sing in the Young Women’s general broadcast this Saturday. We’ve had to buy her a special outfit in the colors they require, and yesterday she went with the other young women of our stake to the conference center for a dress rehearsal. She is so excited about this, and comes home from each rehearsal just glowing. It’s been such a marvelous experience for her. Each week someone from the general young women’s board is there and speaks to them, so it’s like a fireside with singing. And their conductor is amazing. I know Sister Webb from way back at Brighton High, where she was a student teacher for our choir class. I don’t remember which year that was, but we all loved her energy and excitement. Later, as a freshman at BYU, I enrolled in University Chorale, and who was the instructor? Merrilee Webb. So I was excited for my daughter to have this amazing experience of learning from her, and singing in the conference center.

These two opposite girls are both my daughters.

They don’t often agree, and they don’t always get along. It’s hard to believe they are sisters. But I love them both, even in their differences.

(Actually, I love ALL of my daughters, (and my sons, of course) even the one who doesn’t really belong to me–I can still claim her as my daughter this year–though I am only addressing those two right now.)

Our exchange student

http://www.ericksonfamily.com/gallery3/index.php/2012/Q4-October-December-2012/2012-10-14/P1100755033
Someone asked me recently what it was like having an exchange student. I haven’t written too much about our experience with Larissa because I don’t want to embarrass her or hurt her feelings.

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When she came in August, things were naturally a little awkward for all of us. We were all extra nice and she was a little shy. There was a whole bunch to do to get her registered for school, and while she was excited and friendly and helpful, I sometimes found myself getting annoyed with the extra work of not only having another teenager in the house, but the red tape and confusion of the forms and the immunizations.
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While her English is excellent, there are always some communication errors, which sometimes make us laugh, and sometimes annoy us. I tried speaking German with her, but her German is really fast teenage German, and my German is 20 year old missionary German. So, if I wanted to talk about God and the Holy Ghost, I could probably manage, but listening to her tell a story about getting 20 dollars in change from a vending machine left me a bit confused.

She’s such an outgoing girl, not afraid to try new things and loves meeting new people. It takes a lot of bravery to come to a random family who you know nothing about in a random state (she did not get to pick Utah) in a new country. She just has always wanted to come to America, and she did whatever she could to make this exchange year happen. I wonder about her mom, and how she can stand to have her 15 year old gone for a whole year. Sure, she can skype with her once a week and send emails, but she has no guarantee that we didn’t just accept her daughter to come live as a nanny or a housekeeper for us (NOT the case, by the way, I’m just saying that in a hypothetical way).
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We have tried to do fun things together as a family, and in the fall we went up to Snowbird for a night’s outing. It didn’t turn out like I thought it would because the tram was the only thing running, but we still enjoyed a little “fall” up in the mountains.

It didn’t take long before the boys at school noticed her, and she had a date for homecoming. Even though we don’t allow our children to date before they are 16 (heck, my children have no desire to date at 16. I have to FORCE dates upon them, so we have never encountered this issue before.) We didn’t feel right about enforcing our Mormon dating standard upon her, so we let her go. We didn’t realize that this date would turn into many more dates, and that before she was even 16, she would have a boyfriend.
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But he’s a good guy. I have tried to encourage her to go out with groups, do things with other people so it’s not just a single date, etc. Her best friend here, Ashlyn, won’t be 16 for another month or so, and I think it’s hard on her that Larissa can and does date, while she’s not allowed to. Hopefully it won’t hurt the friendship, though.

This friend, Ashlyn, has really been a blessing. She and her group of friends had a bit of shock last summer, when one of the friends took his own life. It rocked their world and she didn’t ever hang out with those friends much, it was too painful and awkward. So when school started, she was feeling quite alone. Larissa knew no one except Megan, and to tell the truth, Megan is more of a ‘sister’ and less of a ‘friend’. I can’t force her to be a friend to her when she’s at school, and Larissa, while super nice and friendly, wasn’t really welcomed into Megan’s small circle of friends. Larissa and Ashlyn found each other right away and it’s been SO NICE for both of them to have a friend. They walk home from school together, go jogging together, shopping together and even went skiing together. I couldn’t have arranged it better if I had tried, and I know these girls are going to be friends even after Larissa goes home. Ashlyn is already planning and saving to go visit her in Germany, and I think it really will happen.

In October, we went to St. George as a family. We had plans to see a show at Tuacahn, go shopping, hiking, and enjoy the sun.

The rain came instead, and we had to adjust our plans, but we still had a fun trip. Everything was new and exciting for her, and it’s fun to see her gasp with excitement when she sees something new, or something that she’s seen on tv or a movie, but not in real life. She will often say, “This looks just like on tv!”. Most of the tv they watch in Germany is the same stuff we watch here, only with German voices dubbed in.

She really wanted to see Las Vegas, so she took a field trip with some other exchange students down to Vegas for a weekend. She was so excited to go there, but when she came back, she told us that some of the other students had been rude and cliquish, and the chaperone wasn’t super responsible, making it an uncomfortable weekend. But she got to go, and she got home safe.

Holidays have been lots of fun. They don’t do Thanksgiving the same as we do in America, so that was a fun experience. Of course, maybe our family celebrates Thanksgiving a little strange, with tons of people and food and then basketball.
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We tried to do all the fun things we love about Christmas. We each had advent calendars, we decorated, we had large family parties, concerts, etc. Really, just the things that we would normally do. We didn’t ever go ice skating, but we did go sledding. We wanted to keep her busy so that she wouldn’t get too homesick during the holidays. The kids all bought each other gifts, and it was difficult for her to buy them things, especially Cole, who she doesn’t see all that much. I told her socks were a perfectly acceptable gift, and that’s what she did. She ended up giving me a silver watch that I really like! I think she asked one of the other kids for advice, but you can’t go wrong with watches for this girl.
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She’s always willing to help out when asked, and often asks if she can help with dinner or other tasks. She doesn’t eat a lot of meat, and really likes salads. So most days, at dinner, even if she’s not the child assigned to help with dinner, she will offer to make a salad. It’s good for us to have salad each day, and even my non salad lovers in the family are getting used to it. It makes things strange sometimes, though. Like when we go out to dinner, she doesn’t really like fast food, and won’t eat a hamburger or cheeseburger. I think she said she hadn’t had a hamburger in four years. When we were in California, she mentioned that she would really like to drive through In and Out Burger and get a t-shirt that says In and Out California. Ok. So, we made special arrangements on our last day in California to stop at In and Out, and ordered food and a t-shirt for her. But the funny thing is, she doesn’t like hamburgers and fries, and that’s all they have there. No salads, nothing healthy. So, we all ordered cheeseburgers and fries, and got her a cheeseburger and a t-shirt. She took the meat off, gave it to someone else, and had herself a cheese and pickle and tomato sandwich.

We planned our trip to California so that both Larissa and Cole could go. It made things difficult to work around everyone’s schedules, and it was kind of crowded with 8 people, but we did it. She had only ridden one roller coaster in her life, and she’d never been to any Disney Parks. The other kids were excited to show her all their favorite attractions.P1110878

Funny thing about Disneyland, though. Most of the rides are themed around some Disney movie. So, as we were going to the Aladin show, she asked, “What is Aladin, actually?” What? Even though she had not seen Indiana Jones, she enjoyed the ride. We later vowed to make her watch a bunch of movies, just to catch her up to speed.

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I love her excitement and enthusiasm for things that we might take for granted. On our roadtrip, she wanted to get pictures of each “welcome to” state sign.
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She was also very interested in LA and wanted to go there. We told her that we don’t really go to LA, that Disneyland is in Anaheim. But when Ryan had to go to LAX to pick up the kids from the airport, she wanted to go with him. I don’t know if she thought she would see Johnny Depp coming out of the airport at 11:00 pm or what, but he took her with him. Of course, it was foggy and she couldn’t see anything, but she went anyway. On our last day in California, we drove through LA to Hollywood. She wanted a picture of the Hollywood sign.
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We didn’t get the best picture, but we tried.

We went to Hollywood Blvd to see the Stars and the handprints and things. She LOVED it. And it was a fun thing that our family wouldn’t have gone out of our way to do on our own.
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This week I realized that I haven’t been taking advantage of a native German speaker living in our house and working on my language skills. I told her I wanted to speak German with her for the whole week. The first day was hard. But the second day I realized I could just speak to the family in general in English. Cheating, I know. But it is stretching my brain to have to speak to her in German. Hopefully she will be patient with me.

It is sometimes a strain on the family having a “stranger” here. But I think out of all the strangers to have, we got a pretty good match. Although I can’t say that we treat her exactly as we do our own children (we are still a little bit more polite, more careful), we do try to treat her like one of the family. The kids tease each other, they joke around with her, and even roughhouse together sometimes. I hope we are setting a good example to her, and that someday she may think back with fondness to her experience with our family and have real interest in the Mormons, but if not, that’s ok, too. She goes to church with us, participates in Young Women and all ward functions that we go to. She even plays YW sports with the girls. She participates in family prayer and scripture reading and Family Home Evening with us (when those things happen–not saying we’re 100% here, but we are constantly trying).

I know that our family has been enriched by having her here. I think of her as a part of the family, and I hope that when this year is over, we will still keep in touch and have a lasting relationship with our German daughter.

Waiting for the call

With the new lower missionary age, there has been a fever of missionary excitement around these parts (and everywhere there are LDS teenagers, I am sure). Since Cole was already into his freshman year at BYU when the announcement came to lower the age when young men and women could serve missions, we decided to just stick with the plan, and he would do two semesters at school, then leave shortly after his 19th birthday. When school was out for the semester, we used that time to get everything ready to submit his papers. My goal was to have everything in by mid January. With scheduling being what it is, and the Stake President is surely busy with all kinds of kids submitting their mission papers, Cole didn’t have his interview until almost the end of January.

Tuesday he had an interview with the Stake President. Because of some last minute changes and a reschedule, Ryan and I also had our temple recommend interview with the Stake on Tuesday night. So, Cole braved the huge amounts of snow (that we had been shoveling ALL day, by the way) and drove to Highland. We had dinner together, and then the three of us dropped the girls off at the church for YW, and went over to the Stake Center. It was cool to all go together. I went with our old bishop, Ryan went with the other counselor, and Cole spoke with the Stake President. When we were all done, the Stake President shook our hands, and said he would submit the papers and we would hear something within a few weeks.

Yes, I am FREAKING OUT, just a little bit.

We’re in kind of a state of limbo right now. I know there will be SO MUCH to do once he gets the call, but we can’t really do any of that yet. So, we’ll just wait.

So many of Cole’s friends are getting their calls right now, every week more and more calls go out. He told me that in one BYU ward a couple of weeks ago, there were 40 something mission calls that week. I love to read the letters and experiences from other missionaries and their testimonies and love for the gospel. Wow! Talk about flooding the earth with the gospel, these are the young people who are going to do that. It’s such an exciting time!

I love this Called to Serve video, and yes, it’s a bit dated (back when families could still go to the airport with their missionaries), but it shares the feeling of excitement that these missionaries have.

Science Fair! We’re egg-cited!

Oh, we’re doing fun stuff with the science fair project for Jenna.

She is testing shell strength on different colored eggs, using the green and brown eggs from our chickens, and white eggs from the store. I won’t give it away, but some of those eggs can hold a LOT OF books.

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