Sunday, May 31, 2009

Training Trek

Well, we are back! And I learned that I am going to LOVE trekking!! I thought I would but some people seemed apprehensive and so part of me was thinking that when I actually got there I might learn I wasn't going to enjoy it so much. But I did learn a few things: (1) The Women's Pull was MUCH harder than I had anticipated and (2) I can kill, clean, and dress a live chicken (never thought I would need to know that--or ever actually do it) (3) That I am NOT as prepared as I thought I would be! First of all the Women's Pull--I consider myself to be pretty strong and I seriously thought I was going to be sick! This is the only part of the trek that is making me a bit nervous. I am hoping that the hill the girls will pull will not be as steep as ours. Or that there will be just one of them. Yes, our hill was PRETTY STEEP and there were TWO of them! That was one of the hardest parts--we reached the top, which we thought was the end and then had to keep going! I also learned that when I pull a handcart uphill I sound like a donkey. But seriously, I was surprised at how the absence of the priesthood affected me. We were all in our pioneer clothes and watching them all leave is hard to explain. I thought back to all the times when I felt alone while Vince was serving in the Bishopric and working long hours at work and realized I felt much the same. And when I was struggling with the other women to pull that cart up the hill I felt the same desperation and inadequacies that I used to feel. The only choice I had those years and during this pull and that I will have in the future was to keep pulling with all my might no matter what. Otherwise the cart was going to slip downhill. We just had to fight (literally) to keep it going and that's how life is sometimes. It will be difficult for our young women but what a great lesson. The fight makes us stronger. It is also true that just when you conquer one challenge another is lurking ahead--we never know. But we are stronger than we realize and we can do more than we thought we could do if we will just focus on the Lord and have faith.

Yes, we learned how to kill a chicken and it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Also we learned how to skin it and clean it and cut it all up and that wasn't too bad either. Although if I had a choice I probably wouldn't do it. But since my choice is to be either negative or positive about it and my "family" of youth will be watching I decided to suck it up and really learn and it turns out that I think I'll manage just fine. But I will need a knife much sharper than what's in my kitchen now. YAY! The pioneers were lucky to have sharp knives!!

OK--I am totally unprepared and am asking for any help and/or advice. We will be walking with our family (approximately 10 boys and girls from our stake that we don't know) for a LONG time. We will be with them for 4 entire days and 3 nights and we were advised that when we were walking these MANY MILES (the first day will be very long and the second kind of long) that it would be a good idea to have some kind of games and/or riddles to do with them. They gave us one example, but we will be walking LOTS and I know I will need more. Any ideas? When I go on trips with my kids we like the alphabet game, but there will be NO WAY we can play that so any help is WELCOME! Also, we were told that we could do some kind of craft with the kids during down time. Things that would be kind of neat would be like matching bandanas, bracelets, a bead on a necklace string,... Things like that. Of course, these are all things that they told us about and what would be really cool is something unique to our "family" so I'm taking suggestions. Please keep in mind that I'm not too crafty so it can't be too difficult. Also--any ideas for skits? Any great pioneer stories? Any advice about anything? Related to the trek, of course. Suggestions and comments are welcome from ANYONE, even if I don't know you!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Full Bowl of Cereal and 8 Spoons

Today started off pretty normal. The kids had a hard time getting out of bed. There was the usual "discussions" (OK, Arguments) during breakfast. I was really good to ignore them--I didn't laugh or get riled or anything. Even when one time I walked through the kitchen and Iv said, "Mom, isn't that a new spoon on the counter because I told Et it was but he says it isn't and I know I'm right..." It leads off because I left the room. The next time I came in Iv said, "Mom, Et makes me so mad! He says that this is not a big spoon but I know it...." The next time it was Et, "Mom! Iv is driving me crazy! She won't stop looking at me!" You get the picture. This was, of course, after I lost my cool. And yelled. Which is a little unusual in the mornings because I love the mornings. But really. The boy wouldn't get dressed for school. Or get out of bed. And when he did get out of bed and get dressed he put on pants that had dirt on them. So I told him to change, because I had washed some for him and he refused. And I lost it! BECAUSE yesterday he claimed to have no pants and I told him that you CAN wear pants more than one day in between washings if nothing is on them and he freaked out and refused and finally found a pair in his drawer that he never wears which he decided would be preferable to wearing some he had already worn. Feeling repentant, I woke up at 5:00 AM to make sure the boy had some clean pants today and they were washed and dried when he woke up and then the boy refused to wear them. (OK--so maybe Et was feeling repentant too, but at the moment I didn't care) I said, "LOOK ET, I know I said that you can wear pants more than one day but those are obviously DIRTY and I got up at 5:00 AM so you would have clean pants because yesterday you refused! SO WEAR THE CLEAN PANTS!! He did.

What does this have to do with the bowl of cereal and spoons? I'm getting there. It was shortly after breakfast that I realized that I have training trek. TODAY. And I don't have all my stuff and haven't started packing. So after I dropped the kids off at school I ran to the store to pick up the last few things we needed. (Training Trek is for Mas and Pas (Vince and I are Mas and Pas this year) for a pioneer reenactment and so we have to go camp out tonight in all our pioneer stuff.) The shopping excursion was fraught with angst because N was playing with a rubber band and got his eye and then cried almost the whole time that he wanted to go home, but we couldn't until I was finished. I did feel bad later when I saw his eye lid swelling--yes, he gave himself a little black eye with a rubber band. When I got home from the store I realized that we had forgotten to put the garbage cans on the street so I went to get them and discovered that only one of them was half full and the other was empty. Yes, this is some kind of record. So I decided to clean out some of the garage. I mean really, empty garbage cans? No one here to see what I put in the garbage cans? TRUE OPPORTUNITY!! Also, because of the Training Trek hubby will be too preoccupied to say or think much more than wow, the garage looks better! If he even says that much. So I spent the next hour or so filling the garbage cans from the garage--I did a good job. They are very full and I'm hoping I can do more next week!

Now to the point. When I finished I walked in the kitchen and found a bowl full of cereal, milk, and 8 spoons. And my first reaction was exasperation. And then I thought, what a blessing! Of course the cereal and milk was a complete loss and who in the world has enough spoons to use eight per person, right? But the truth is:
1. He did get himself something to eat without hounding me.
2. I did just buy more cheap spoons 2 days ago because it seemed we were always running out.
3. And this is the most important! It was ONLY ONE bowl of cereal!!!! I mean what's the big problem about one bowl of cereal? The truth is this is major progress at our house. I still remember when I would be busy with something and come in to find AT LEAST one entire bag on the floor (not bagged) and/or in several cereal bowls, with every spoon I own, some of the cereal on the floor would be wet and soggy and some would be dry, some would be tracked into the living room carpet which would make me furious, milk would be spilled everywhere... And to top it off they would have gotten bored with cereal and milk and started in on the peanut butter which would have most of our knives sticking out of it. Yes, they really dip and lick with several utensils at a time.

So I didn't say one word about the bowl of cereal and eight spoons because I am in HEAVEN contemplating the progress!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Like the music? Yes, that's what it has felt like to me the past couple of weeks. Here is the "short" version. I'll start with today and then work backwards.

This morning we all had to be out of the house by 7:30. Ev and I made it and the others were mostly ready so I trusted them to make it to the neighbor's house so she could get them to school and then Ev and I went to choir practice. The last one! We practiced and then Grandma O came to the school and watched Ev's choir perform (Ev also played her violin for one song) and Ev and Iy perform. Then Ev and Et both received medals and certificates for perfect attendance. And then Ev and Et both received a Superintendant Academic Award for having a 3.7 or higher for the whole year. And then Ev received one of 3 citizenship awards for the whole school this year. And then Et received an award for having a Reading Iowa Test score in the top 10% for the nation. And then Ev received an award for top 10% in the nation Iowa Test scores in a couple of subjects, I don't remember which, and also composite and core test results in the top 10%. We were all proud and surprised--great work kids!

Last night we had a school swimming party which included dinner and fun in the water. For the kids anyway, I just sat on the side and watched to make sure they didn't drown. It was perfect timing because we were in need of a little bit of R&R.

Last Friday we drove to Eagle Mountain and stayed the night with Grandma O so we could start fixing a few things with her and dad could get up and help Uncle W pour concrete early Saturday morning. The concrete job went really fast and dad didn't have to do too much and I was able to help with a few things at Grandma's house with Vince finished. Then we drove to Orem and helped Uncle K move. Vince and I were REALLY proud of our kids! Ev, Et, and Iv basically helped me and the four of us moved just about all the boxes ourselves. Uncle K was moving across the street so we would load the Expedition and then unload. The kids also helped take care of their little cousins. Vince mostly worked on helping with the refrigerator--it difficult to get through the doors. He also disassembled both cribs (yes, they have two babies) and reassembled them. By the time he finished that there was only one small load of stuff left to move. After the move we came home and crashed! Sunday was quiet and restful and normal. Monday morning we woke up and helped Uncle J and Aunt L build a patio in their backyard. It was a long day but we were able to get it almost all finished!

Et had a pack meeting and received his bear badge. He has also earned some arrows, a Leave No Trace Award, and several belt loops and a couple of pins. He will probably get those this month and the next. Ev expressed a desire for and we have been able to make it possible for her to play cello with the elementary orchestra next year. Because apparently she doesn't have enough to do. She is also starting a new piano student this summer and is raising her teaching rate. She will charge $5 instead of $3. The piano has been a great way to build her saving account.

N had preschool graduation. I cried. I have never cried at any of this stuff because I am just not a crier but the whole experience was really touching. It was kind of funny because they had a little place for the kids to step up on where they would receive their award and stand for a minute so a parent could snap their picture. Some of the kids would literally set up "camp" there. I have a picture of N heading to the spot and then....
He just kept walking, didn't stop for a minute or even turn and look. He grabbed his envelope from his teacher and kept walking, head down, until he got back to his seat. So we had to get his picture on the stand when it was all over. It was sad to say good bye to these teachers and people that have been working with N for 2 and a half years. They're the same people who worked with Iv for over a year. We will have to visit them. Now N is home and he doesn't have school and he is BORED! He keeps saying, "Do I have school?" I say "No." He says, "What are we going to do? How about now? What are we going to do now?" Yesterday we made cupcakes together. Today he is playing with a friend. I'm taking suggestions for what to do tomorrow...

I do have pictures. No word on when I'm going to get around to putting them on the computer and blogging them. But I will get to them. And I can't find the white books. I think the kids got wind of my intent to publish excerpts. But I will share a couple of memorable quotes for now. When I find them I'll blog more. Et had some of the most memorable stuff. The first assignment of his book was to write a descriptive word for each letter of his name. I don't remember all of them but I do remember E was Energy and N was Nice. I laughed when I saw it because he NAILED it with Energy!! He also wrote what he likes about our family and I don't remember what it was but I do remember what he didn't like about our family. He doesn't like that "we all have to do piano" and he doesn't like that "We all have to weed the garden". When I talked to him about it he expressed frustration that his teacher wouldn't let him use the word "HATE". His book had some great stuff in it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Magic Ingredient

Monday night I needed a quick dinner because we had to be at the school for a dance festival, so I prepared something in advance. It didn't turn out like I expected but I have decided to seriously consider making it again or at least include the one special ingredient. Why? Because even though it was a really hot day, my kids were well hydrated. They drank tons of water at dinner. They also ate a significant amount of salad and carrots. In addition to their dinner. It was amazing! And all because I put a can of jalapenos in the taco soup. It was an accident, of course. I really thought I was opening a can of green chilies, but I was clearly mistaken. The experience has left me wondering what else I could slip a few jalapenos into...

The dance festival was great! I have some pictures, and might get them posted next week. It was also author's night at the school where the kids get to show us the books they have written and illustrated this year. I will have to blog some excerpts from their books! I have had a great time reading them.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mother's Day

Sunday is Mother's Day and yesterday Iv came home from school and informed me that I could not look in her backpack because my mother's day gift from her was in there. I agreed and suggested she hide it somewhere, which she did. Twenty minutes later she came back and said, "Mom, don't look in your closet because I hid your gift there." Which I guess makes sense because that's where I hide all the gifts I am saving for people, but I did tell her that I WOULD have to look in my closet before Sunday and suggested she "rehide" it. So she did. In my piano studio.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Miscellaneous Fun


The local bookstore hosted a storybook cake contest and Ev submitted this: It's Marianne, Mike Mulligan's steam shovel. It turned out to be a family event as dad was the designer and so it was difficult and we only had 90 minutes to get it there in time. Ev won and received a $10 gift certificate! Since it was a family event everyone got a new book. Et surprised us all by selecting The Hobbit, Iy picked a Mrs. Piggle Wiggle book, and N got Harold and the Purple Crayon. Ev got an American Girl Doll Craft book--no surprise there!

We saw this outside while we were getting ready for school. The conversation was fun:
Et: Come look! It's a parachuter!
Ev: It's not a parachute, it's a hang glider!
Et: No, parachute
Ev: No hang glider
Et: I know! It's a triangle!
Ev: No, a fermata!!

When we told him about it later and showed him the picture, Vince told us it was a paraglider. House full of opinions!
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