Wednesday, September 19, 2018

some substitute grandparents

Grandparents day is a big deal at our elementary school.  (Well, it should be a big deal everywhere, because grandparents are pretty much the bee's knees in my opinion.)

I love that the elementary school invites all the kids to invite their grandparents to join them for lunch the Friday before Grandparent's Day.  And since we often don't have grandparents in town (Dave's parents spend most of their time in Idaho when it's so dang hot here in the desert...they're smart that way:), over the years I've had the chance to be the “sub” more times than I can count (which I love).

But a couple days before that grand day this year, Lu and I remembered we do sort of have some even better “fake grandparents”…Dave’s aunt and uncle Helen & Stuart.  They are the dearest souls, both so full of light and love.  Stuart has had a few health issues lately, and Helen is such a wonderful caretaker and is always checking on us and so anxious to support and join us with whatever we may need.  So we asked if they could come.

They have their own grandkids close-by, but the timing worked out perfectly so that they could join Lucy and I at the end of lunch and we loved every minute of it.

I love that the cute student council welcomes all the grandparents:

Lu and I, along with a new sweet friend at school, sat and ate and talked a bit before Stuart and Helen arrived:
Lucy, in the beginning, had wanted me to pick her up and take her somewhere instead of eating at school.  This was her note to me:
But you can't leave school on Grandparent's Day for crying out loud!  So she gave me very specific instructions as to what I could bring her for lunch:
She sure didn't want me to make any mistakes on that order! :)

Stuart and Helen joined us for the last little part of lunch and accompanied us the the Book Fair.
Can you see the light in those faces?

These girls were excited about books, and that's a pretty great thing too!
 Thankful for Grandparents, the ones who were there and the ones who were there in spirit ;)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

life lately

Gosh I get to those "little things" updates at the end of each month (last post) and realize there are so many day-to-day things going on that I don't have pictures of, and that I want to remember.  So here are some "word pictures" (mixed with some real pictures too) of some of the latest happenings around here from what I wrote in my journal...some musings I wrote down last night:

Right now I'm sitting here listening to Grace talk to someone from church in the kitchen, her voice confident and sure, answering his questions about her life and her family.  (She was scheduling her patriarchal blessing...kind of exciting).  This was preceded by an exploration of the contents of my old jewelry box with both my high school girls since it's spirit week for Homecoming this week and they were looking for "90's" stuff to outfit themselves in the morning.  I love that those two get to overlap at least a year in high school.  Even if Claire isn't in student council with Grace, they ride together to school and have this more-strong-than-ever-bond that you can almost feel in the air.  Sure, they fight and annoy each other (and they pronounce the word "annoying" so that it sounds like "annoying-gah" when they complain), but they genuinely love each other lots and it makes me happy.  High school is fun.  Here's one of the pictures Grace sent of "millionaire" spirit day to our family text yesterday:

We have recently fixed some lighting electrical issues in our house and changed out our thermostats, which caused some drywall issues around the light switches and thermostats. 
Which led to a domino effect of house projects to fix drywall, then repaint, then our old paint didn't actually match, so we ended up having to repaint whole walls to cover those little spots, blah blah blah. 
We also finally got around to finishing Max's bedroom...actually morphing it into a real guest bedroom (still in progress), trying to shift Elle's old bedroom more officially into Grace's (we scraped off the green and white striped wallpaper):
...and got her some new pillows, built out a wall in Lucy's room that had been a lot of wasted space so we could move things around and added some extra shelves for all her "stuff," and we are finally making Dave's makeshift office a "real" office.  These projects have made it a busy "house-fixing" month.  I don't like house-fixing things because it takes my focus off things that are so much more important, but I do have to say that it feels so nice to get things DONE and to feel like we're taking good care of this home that is such a blessing to us.

Speaking of that, I mentioned this a little before, but we got mountains of things sorted through for Labor Day… closets and drawers and cabinets all emptied out.  This was much to the chagrin of my children.  We worked for hours letting go of some things filled heavily with memories, and piles and piles of Claire’s clothes that now come up to her knees and elbows due to her crazy growth spurt of the last few months. 
 She seriously wore these clothes a matter of months ago!
Even those complaining kids felt the glory of a more organized house when we finished.

We also changed Lucy’s bedroom around…my kids’ eyes sparkled at that and made me remember when we did that occasionally growing up and how new and exciting it was.

Volleyball is creeping into the little side-veins of life. We have a LONG carpool that takes forever, lots of games, and a girl who is sparkly joyful because of it all.  She adores it and just yesterday Dave and I looked at each other and just laughed sitting there in the stands watching her serve that ball over and over…after she could scarcely put it half way there a matter of a few months ago.  When Max was playing high school volleyball we had some team moms who loved being involved and did what I’m now realizing was even more than the huge amount I knew they were doing, because man, there seems to be a lot to do that I’ve never done before!  I’ve somehow become the concession stand organizer.  It is a pretty easy-peasy job but still takes some organization.  They asked me to re-take some team pictures that didn’t work with the professional photographer.  For some reason I was thinking it was just the varsity team that didn’t come out right with the professional photographer, but that afternoon before I arrived I got a text about individuals of each girl as well as team shots and that they were waiting for them to be used in the program.  Yikes.  I didn’t have a flash or a tripod but I think they worked ok!
(Ok, that one wasn't for the program, but you get the idea...)

Lucy and I are really into chess lately.  I’ve been trying to figure out something to substitute for friends since she is always calling them and they are less and less likely to be able to hang out (everyone is so busy with extracurricular things...and different interests too).  She gets better and better every time we play and she loves it.  As we sit opposite each other, the chewed-on-by-Bo chess pieces scattered across the board in front of us, I try not to think about the fact that even this will probably get too frustrating for her to try to see before too long, but try as I might, that sadness creeps in.

That girl jubilantly beat me in chess for the first time on Sunday night.  It was a big win since we’ve played countless times, always ending in her defeat.
(It's good to have a little toast with milk for that fun fact:)

Bo plants herself at the end of our bed every night, curled up like she owns the place.  I think she keeps thinking one day we’ll let her stay and not banish her to the laundry room, but at the rate she is still chewing on things I don’t see that possibility in her near future.

It is still SO HOT here, even in the evenings.  I thought it could be time to bring back on the “Family Sunday walks” on Sunday but we were just sweating which brought out some kind of rotten moods.

My fingers are still swollen from my little bike-and-fingers-colliding-with-wall accident in California and my wedding ring won’t fit over my knuckle anymore.  I’m kind of sad about that because first of all, I like my wedding ring, and second of all, I'm not a fan of these swollen knuckles :)  Sure hoping that even after three weeks it may go down again??

We had a funny rotation of phone calls to and from our college kids yesterday, Dave and I.  I love when we get a minute to really talk to those two who are going through so many different decisions and life lessons right now.

Lucy and I started packing for Science Camp last night, trying to be sure we had enough warmer gear for the mountains.  We leave tomorrow morning and we are both pretty excited.

Monday, September 17, 2018

August little things

August started out with school wrangling us into a schedule.  

So let's start out with my newest HIGH SCHOOL GIRL Claire:
That was her look of, "dang, I sure wish Grace were here with me, cause I'm pretty nervous, but dang, I'm soooooo excited!!"

(Grace was still in The Dominican Republic and missed the first couple days.)

We had an uneventful, non-rainbow-pancake breakfast...
...and sent those girls off on their new adventures.

Lots more about that first day back HERE.

I went and met Lucy at the bus stop with the air conditioning blasting since it was so hot...fun to meet up with these girls sparkling with so many stories to tell:

Meanwhile Grace was off building a school:
...and making friends with people who {warning, dramatic here, but true} changed her life in so many ways as well as her perspective.  She had an amazing time and I can't wait for her to write a post about it here when I can sweet-talk her into it.

I didn't get to talk to her or communicate in any way for a full two and a half weeks and I missed that girl so much!  It was so fun to finally get to FaceTime her on one of her layovers en route home:

Meanwhile over in the Holy Land Elle was living up her last week back at the Center after having spent a couple weeks at the Sea of Galilee:
(more about that experience HERE)

Meanwhile up in Provo Max was in the midst of a coaching opportunity at a few of the BYU volleyball camps.  It was so fun to hear from so many friends that their kids had run into Max at those camps...I wish I could have been a fly on the wall watching him!  One of the afternoons he ran into some of his friends from TAIWAN:
How crazy is that?

And {one more} meanwhile, now back in the desert, the monsoon season was in full swing:

Then...Grace arrived home:
...with so many stories and adventures to spill out, and a non-stop smile that in all actuality is still going strong.  Love it.

This is a funny "out take" picture from a video when she was reunited with her best friends right when we got back to the house:
There was some pretty good excitement going on...

(More about her arrival home back HERE.)

That same weekend we had Lego house-building competitions with Lucy's friends:


...and Claire's second and last summer volleyball game:
(She had played the first game and then got word that they could fit her in for her little hernia surgery, and then we were at Bear Lake...so she missed a lot, but it was fun to get her in there when we could!)


Claire happened to be watching some photo challenge show online and got all excited because there, right where the guy was running to take pictures, was her little cousin Dean hanging in Central Park.
I guess he's famous now :)

We had Father's Blessings on Sunday:
Followed by some Sunday games...
...and then Grace started her own first day of her SENIOR YEAR:

Lucy's vision teacher, her assistant, Lucy and I went and did a 6th grade Braille and vision loss (as well as BBS) informational stations in each of the 6th grade classes:
(It was a good, and tiring day!  All the details about that back HERE.)

It was Elle's birthday over in Jerusalem...we sent her a bunch of notes (tough to get packages there), and I took pictures of them before I sent them...luckily since she never got them.  This was the front "cover."

Claire and what seemed like the majority of her friends all attended the Student Council election meeting:
(along with Grace who was there for moral support for student council)

And volleyball tryouts were in full swing:

High school parent night under monsoon skies:


I have the best assignment in church right now in my opinion.  I get to work with the Activity Day girls (10 and 11-year-olds) twice a month.  I wrote a little about this back HERE, and have lots more to say, but here's one activity we did in August:

Such great little artists...they made "prayer rocks" or "kindness rocks"...you can put one under your pillow to help you remember to pray at night, or you can do a kind service and leave it as a little gift.  One of our girls offered to teach and be in charge, and she did such a great job!

Most of July and August we drove around like this following our accident:

Claire came home triumphant after making the volleyball team:

It was a pretty joyous accomplishment, but tinged with some sorrow woven in because one of her good friends who is a great volleyball player didn't make it.  Man, that was a sad one. (more on volleyball back HERE)

Grace got asked to homecoming:
And we are all pretty hyped up about that (it's coming up this weekend...more HERE).

We got the privilege of going out to dinner one night with Dave's sister and her husband.
They gave us a "night out on them" for Christmas and literally it has taken us this long to get to it with our different schedules.  Love them so much and it was so fun to get to catch up after all the summer hoopla...especially since they had just sent one of their twin boys off on his mission.  And the other twin was heading up to college for a semester before he heads out on his own mission.  And there's a LOT to talk about when it comes to that kind of crazy bitter/sweet stuff!

Speaking of missions, a bunch of Elle's friends were coming home from their missions right and left.
Fun to be in on all the celebrations for so many of those kids...airports and open houses and homecoming talks at church.  Here's one of the open houses where we got to see our other good friends who were in town:
(She is a good friend and Grace is really good friends with her daughter who wasn't there so of course we had to take a picture for her :)

This is my shadow:
24-7.

Love this high school duo:

On to the freshman vice president campaign:
...that ended in a sad loss but some great learning experiences (more about that back HERE).

There was something very funny going on when we were settling in for prayers one night:
I cannot remember what, but these girls were laughing their guts out and there's something beautiful about a good belly laugh right before bed.

Grace and her friends went to a concert and had "the best night ever":



Lucy earned an iPod over the summer.  She has been pretty pleased as punch to carry that thing around and listen to as much music as she'd like.  It's given her a little extra hop in her step as we've walked to school, discussing the latest tunes she's figured out to add.

Claire has her own things to be pleased as punch about: namely the fact that she's in high school.  I happened to see her and her friends at lunch one day when I was at the school to drop off a form for volleyball.  See that sparkle in her eye? 
Yeah, she likes it. 

Here she is at the first football game:
Oh man, high school is fun.

And a lot of work too.  Here she is doing homework with her little "moral support" partner one night:

Elle arrived home from Jerusalem.  The whole group landed in Utah where she stayed for a couple days to see friends up there...and most importantly: her big brother:
My parents took them out to lunch to get the scoop on that Jerusalem and college life adventure.

Meanwhile back at home some of us adults went and took advantage of the empty lake one morning:


All the seniors think they're pretty funny.  Since their activity card pictures don't get put in the yearbook (some other company takes senior pictures for that), they do goofy things for their pictures.  Here was Grace's get-up for picture day:
I wish I had pictures of other ones...there were some wing-dingers.

One day when I was picking up the volleyball girls I noticed this beautiful shadow and had to get out of the car to take a picture. 
Of course, i couldn't capture it in all it's full glory with my phone, but it made my heart stop with thinking about how beautiful this world we get to live in is!

We did swim/extra jobs one Saturday:
Claire had to make that grill shine like the top of the Chrysler Building.  And she did.

Good girl, Claire.

I don't know why I have this picture, but I guess it symbolizes how many times we make Ocean Pancakes:

Oh, I think that morning we made them because look who finally arrived home:

Pretty fun to have her home for a few days...and to gather with cousins too:
(We hadn't gathered together since everyone spread out far and wide all summer so it was so great to get caught up!)
Elle and I had some fun dates to the doctor and dentist while the girls were at school:

And another friend's son got married.  Here we are at the night-before celebration:




Then we met up with Max in California...ALL SEVEN OF US TOGETHER for a few days and it was a little piece of Heaven I tell you!

We all felt like this:

(Lucy wanted to try to capture it on her iPod.)

Gathered with cousins one more time with Max there this time around:
Snuck off with those two (and a couple cousins) one day for some boating too.
...and a little movie date with our boy:
(All the details about those kids being home and California back HERE.)

Volleyball started with a vengeance.  
Elle got to be there for the first game of the season:

We held our first inaugural book club for this school year and discussed The Shell Seekers:
(more thoughts on that book HERE)

Elle left little gifts for everyone for Jerusalem on each bed when she left us to get back to her Hawaiian island:

And Grace and I finally got the chance to head out for her birthday pedicure we never got to back in June ;)

Got rejuvenated thinking about technology and how we're managing it at this little conference:
Took Lu on a little date for for the school fundraiser:
Organized Legos like nobody's business:

More games...
...this time with big sister Grace cheering her on:
That's a wrap for August. 

And now there are Christmas ornaments at Target. 

Life is moving way too quickly.
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