Sunday, December 1, 2013


We were so ready for a break from school and work (too bad there's never a break from laundry and cooking). Lehi hosts an annual Family Week during Thanksgiving week and this year we took advantage of a couple of its activities. Wednesday we went swimming at the indoor pool. We hadn't been swimming since summer and it was great fun. Not surprisingly I haven't been as on top of things with the girls as I was when the boys were this age. They took swimming lessons year round so they wouldn't lose their summer skills. The girls haven't had that, and of course they've regressed.

Tyler watched and I listened to the first half of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet on Wednesday night while I was cooking, and we finished it on Thursday night. I hadn't seen Shakespeare in ages and it was a neat interpretation. Hard work for my brain to follow the lines though! I've gotten soft since my college days.

On Thursday the boys really wanted to watch the Macy's parade so we did. It was really fun, and a perfect way to spend a lazy morning while the house filled up with good smells. Menu: turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, homemade rolls with honey-berry butter, green beans, sweet potatos with streusel, homemade stuffing, and salad. Pumpkin, apple, and homemade pecan pies for dessert (and breakfast the next day). I tried homemade stuffing and cranberry sauce this year and they were both pretty easy and way better than packaged, so I guess I'm stuck from now on! Granny came for dinner and we always love every minute we get to spend with her. She was so appreciative of the good food and gushed over the kids' piano performances and craft projects.

The rest of the weekend was calm and relaxing. A little yard work, pie for breakfast, no Black Friday shopping :), and a Star Wars marathon that I had once mentioned to the boys which quickly became "you proooooomised!"

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back to school!

Oh I was so relieved to have school finally start. For some reason this was a hard summer for me. It took at least all of June to be happy about having the kids around all day. Perhaps my dreading it turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it took about a month for my attitude to adjust.

And then it flew!

But even then, by the week before the big day, once all the backpacks had been loaded with pencil boxes and antibacterial wipes, Carden confessed that he was ready to start, and it was just silly to prolong the wait!

 Charlotte's nervousness about kindergarten didn't last long. She's gone to school three days now, and loves it. She's one of the youngest in her class, I'm sure, so we'll see how her adjustment goes. I laughed out loud at her evaluation the week before school started. The teacher showed her a sentence and asked, "Where do I start to read?" (trying to see if she understood that print goes from left to right.) Charlotte gave her a funny look and replied, "With your eyes!" Teacher asked "where does it go next?" Charlotte: "To your mouth!"

Seth is happy about his second grade class. His teacher has a fun reputation and having a male teacher will be a different experience. Seth said he'll like him a lot more once he stops confusing Seth's name with another boy in the class.

Carden was accepted into the advanced/gifted class this year. His class is a magnet site, so he's met kids from different parts of the city, which will make playdates a bit more of a challenge. His teacher is wonderful, but of course has high expectations. I was shocked to see him volunteer to recopy a homework assignment rather than erase half of it once I pointed out an error. I think it's going to be a good, good year!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

4th of July

Living in Utah County has its political quirks, to be sure, many of which are a bit foreign to my California upbringing. But all that conservative energy has to go somewhere, and for the first week in July, it does my heart good to be surrounded by all the flag-waving and celebration. The last year or so, the kids have been old enough to participate in some of the activities that go beyond watching fireworks and eating watermelon.

Poor Granny gets dragged along every year to one of my Fourth of July outings. I gotta remember she's 90 years old and it's hot out! At least this park had lots of shady trees to sit under. She's such a good sport.After the park, we took her out to lunch and then came back to our house for a Pepsi and a new puzzle. We played an American history documentary in the background and had a great afternoon together.

This year we went to a colonial village reenactment in one of Orem's city parks. We saw colonial trades (basket weaving, cabinet making, baking bread, a colonial school, and candle maker. The kids got to try colonial chores--hauling water and making rope. 

We also walked through a "Constitution Hall" with carnival-style games to teach the basic concepts from the Preamble. Lorianne, you'll be happy to know that "Schoolhouse Rock" served me well and I knew all the right answers to their quiz. Everybody, sing with me! "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity do ordain and establish this Constitution..."

Saturday, July 14, 2012


I guess they're getting older--a single sprinkler hooked up in the backyard just doesn't thrill any more. But dodging seven automatic sprinklers shooting through the constrained space of the front yard--now that's a challenge! 
Seth jumps in with abandon. (Of course, he'd also just finished an hour of soccer practice in the heat!)

Claire wants to do everything the older ones do, but usually regrets it after.

Carden's usual lack of constraint is starting to fade. He's tentative at first now, but then loves it. 

Charlotte: "AAAAHHHH!"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

"I'm famous!"

This week the kids' school showed off a new component of their P.E. program: Drums Alive. The kids all have big exercise balls and drum sticks. They do 30 minutes of interval training: 3 minutes of high-energy cardio, hopping or running in place while drumming madly on the balls. Then they have 3 minutes of rest. But instead of just resting, they do math problems in their heads, then count out the answer on the balls using place value (297 means hit the side of the ball 2 times, the top of the ball 9 times, then hit your sticks together 7 times).

It's a new program, so the local newspaper came out to cover their performance, and the photo and article were in the next day's issue. We subscribe to the paper, but I hadn't noticed a reporter at the school, so it was a fun surprise to read the article and then notice Seth in the cover photo. I showed him the article when he got home, but waited to see if he'd recognize himself in the photo. It took a minute or two, but the smile that slowly split his face was priceless. He shoved the picture under Carden's nose and shouted, "Look! I'm in the newspaper!! That means I'm FAMOUS!"

Reminds me of a line from a song from Newsies: "Tomorrow they may wrap fishes in it. / But I was a star for one whole minute!"

Seth's on the left side of the photo, wearing a yellow shirt.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Camp Floyd

Our big outing during spring break was to Camp Floyd, about 15 miles west of Lehi, out in the middle of the tiny town of Fairfield. Shortly before the Civil War, President Buchanan sent 3,500 troops (1/3 of the U.S. Army) to an outpost 30 miles from Salt Lake to keep an eye on those rascally Mormons.

Nothing happened, the whole affair was nicknamed "Buchanan's Blunder" and the troops were recalled once the Civil War started, having to sell all their supplies and equipment for pennies on the dollar. Clearly not much has changed in the ensuing 150 years in the way of government prudence and planning.

We visited the small museum, an inn across the street for stagecoach travelers, a cemetery, and (not connected with Camp Floyd, but still very cool) a one-room schoolhouse from 1898. 

I let the boys take turns with the camera, taking pictures of everything that interested them. This always helps keep them excited about looking at old clothing and furniture. Their favorite: naturally, the bullet hole that blasted through both walls of the hall when a guest was cleaning his gun and it accidentally discharged. We found an aebleskiver pan in the kitchen, which everyone found very interesting, since that's one of their favorite breakfast treats. And of course, who can pass up the carved wooden chair with a pot in the seat (toilet).  

The cemetery is fascinating because a local historian recently discovered that the gravestones are for people who died elsewhere, and the remains that they discovered through ground-penetrating radar don't match up with the headstone location. So last year they took out all the incorrect headstones and put new ones that all say "unknown" over the remains. When we were there, you could see marks in the grass from the old headstones, in orderly rows, evenly spaced. Today the new headstones are higgledy-piggledy, but accurately placed. Fascinating stuff! Sadly, the wind was blowing fast and cold by this time, so the kids only made it outside for a minute or two before the rain began. We ate our picnic lunch in the car and the kids all laughingly agreed with the quote from an unknown soldier who said "This is the most despicable place on earth."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring break structure

My trepidation aside, spring break was a lot of fun this year, a nice mix of activity and relaxation. I think it helps that the kids are getting older (or at least Claire is getting older and I don't have to drag a stroller and diaper bag everywhere or squeeze everything into the window between naps.

During school, the week is governed by each child's weekly chore chart and homework chart. In honor of spring break, I let them choose their own chores (shredding papers in the office is the most coveted). Here's our current chore system. Normally I choose the chores that need to be done each week (about half are permanent and half rotate). We try for one job a day, with Saturday for whatever's left. Of course, this is on top of their normal daily life jobs like putting laundry away, making beds, setting/clearing the table, etc.

I also came up with the "Spring Break Bingo" chart to encourage them to keep their brains going in ways that didn't require me to help or supervise.

Getting "bingo" earned them wii time. They outsmarted me though, and after the first day, kept using squares they already finished to earn future bingos. So by Friday, they only had to do one or two things! Oh well. At least they were doing something, and the motivation meant that they tackled all their stuff first thing in the morning. Next time I'll make the chart 6 by 6 squares to allow for them double-counting things!