Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Q & A

Just curious what your husband does for a living. I've read so much about your family, your activities and stuff like that, so I just wondered a little more about your husband. Thanks!

Dave prefers to stay a little more under-the-radar on this blog, but he gave me the green light to answer this question. Then he gave me the red light when I asked that he would "guest post" about it.


When we moved from lush Virginia to the desert almost ten years ago Dave started a manufacturing business with his brother and brother-in-law. It is called Maxis (click here for more info.). I am so proud of them and all the hard work they have put into it because the road hasn't been easy. When they first started out Dave was gone the majority of the time. He was traveling across the country trying to get sales going and he was in China a LOT. One particular trip I remember well was a three-week one where I thought I may wither away and die without him. I remember breaking down on the phone when my sister-in-law was trying to talk me in to packing up all my little kids and coming to visit, reminding me that I had been doing it alone for a long time. It was no picnic for Dave either. But man alive he has sure learned a lot along the way, as have we all.

Gradually he has been able to ease himself out of the bulk of the U.S. travel but he still goes to China pretty regularly (that's why we got to live there the summer I was pregnant with Lucy and I keep drooling to go back and actually have the kids go to school there for a little bit.). Dave still has out-of-town meetings here and there (and I must admit sometimes we get a lot done when he's gone) but I am continually thanking my lucky stars that he's not traveling like crazy anymore. We like having that guy around.

I'm wondering how your husband takes off so much time during the summer? or does he? When I see him in so many pictures at Bear Lake and Aspen Grove I have a twinge of jealously only because we do so many summer activities without my husband.

Although Dave has a little more flexibility these days with work, he does have to be there most of the time :) We are all lucky that he can do quite a bit of work over the phone and the Internet while we're gone. Often times he is talking to people in China late into the night (since they are pretty much on an opposite schedule over there). But also, I think seeing him in a few pictures makes it seem like he was there more than he really was. For example, we were at Bear Lake for two-and-a-half weeks, but he was only there for three-and-a-half days, including the weekend.

You talk about really having great quality conversations with your family members when you're is so easy, for me, as a mother, to get busy with kids, or just let the time slip away when I'm around my dear family members. How do you make the most of that time? And for those family members that are a little tougher to talk to, what do you do there?

I am so with you on trying to find the balance between your childrens' needs and soaking up valuable conversation time when with extended family. It is such a tough balance especially when you have really young children clinging to your legs! There was a time when I felt like I was barely treading water with my toddlers in tow at family reunions. I was up all night with crying babies and then up again at the crack of dawn with toddlers, and most of the discussions happened late into the night when I could barely keep my bleary eyes open. But my family has always been pretty good at keeping stimulating discussions going in any little snippets of time that were available, and I give all the credit to my Dad for that. He's always got some topic he wants to discuss and get our opinion on. He'll send out emails posing a thought-provoking question, etc. He has essentially trained us all to ask questions that get discussions going. As each of us has grown and started our own families I get anxious to get together so I can ask for their opinions. I long for those snippets of time between meals or while walking to the beach or even running in the mornings where I can ask advice or bring up a topic I've been thinking over. I crave that time when we are together because none of us are particularly good phone-talkers. Having my list of "blog questions" that readers have sent in helped this year as well. We had some great discussions about questions readers have sent in (which I will share as soon as I can get to them :)

We traveled a bunch growing up which suction-cupped us together and made us best friends out of necessity. I believe that because of this we all seem to relate to each other pretty well, but of course there are family members who don't share as many of the same interests, etc. I think we all try to just find the commonalities and build on them as much as we possibly can.

How did you do the "Coronado" with the glowsticks? {back at the end of this post} Was it the glowsticks alone or some computer imaging stuff?

I just did the same thing I did to create the effect of the sparklers in this picture:
(More sparkler pictures in this post.)

You just have to manually set your camera to a really slow shutter speed setting (meaning the camera takes a long time to click and actually take the picture). This allows the camera to capture all the light you are waving around in front of it, but it also means you have to hold the camera super still (or better yet, use a tripod) so that you can get a crisp shot. I took individual pictures of each letter (one child standing in front of me waving around their glowstick in the shape of each letter) and then made a collage of the letters in Picasa.

Do you let your children date? Do you make compromises on the whole "dating affair" with them? I have a 14-year-old boy and man, he is giving us trouble with the whole idea of dating and my husband and I could definitely do with some advice.

Oh boy, tough stuff. I can just tell you our theory about dating and I hope that it helps:) In our church youth are encouraged to wait until they are 16-years-old to date. Even at 16 it is recommended to mostly stick to group dates and not single off too fast. I'm so thankful for these guidelines because I think they are so wise. I just don't know that too much good can come from dating and pairing off too young (it sounds like you agree). Sometimes I think it just helps to have a little outside influence to help kids make good decisions in life, especially dating ones. I love that because these standards are talked about at church or among church friends my kids are pretty readily accepting. Granted Max is only 14 right now and a little on the girl-crazy side these days...who knows if he'll put up a fight at some point. But I think he is pretty solid in feeling great about waiting 'til he's 16.

I think the most important thing is talking about the "big picture" and why we feel it's important to wait to get serious with dating. I'm thinking a frank talk with your 14-year-old may help him realize why you are uneasy about him dating too's not just because you are over protective. There's a book called "For the Strength of Youth" that all the youth in our church have for guidelines (not only about dating but about a bunch of other things as well). I'm so grateful for all the wisdom filling up that little book. (Click here for more info.) If you'd like a copy I'm sure I could round one up for you :)

I only have two children, but really need help in the organization department. My husband is in dental school and I am teacher. He has a different schedule each week depending on his classes/tests/etc. I am having a hard time keeping up with what days we do what, who needs to be where, etc. Just last week, I forgot to take my son to his swim lesson! I am even "off" for the summer...remembering to head to the pool shouldn't be that hard! haha! :) Do you have a large calendar that you use or an organizational tool that you recommend? If so, do you have pictures of it or ideas of how to make it work?

Sometimes (meaning most of the time), I think it may be best to throw a reader's question out to the blogging world instead of answering it myself. There are so many wise mothers out there!

I think this is one of those instances.

Heaven knows I can use all the help I can get in the organization department. I did write a response to a similar question back here. I think prioritizing is so essential, but with school starting next week I am in search of a new way to organize the actual nuts and bolts of our days.

I have been deep in thought about why it makes me so sick to my stomach to have school starting so soon. My pondering has helped me realize that the real reason I am so darn sick about it is the whole schedule thing. There are too many needs pulling me in every direction. I like having my children close with no schedule to boss us around.

I can do the morning routine. I like that makes me feel productive and empowered. It's the after school stuff to keep track of that to me looms so ominously on the horizon. In some ways I get tempted to say no to any and all extracurricular lessons except piano. That way maybe I would have a slim chance to actually meet my dream: to sit on the piano bench with each child each day and help them plug through their music lessons. Claire is starting piano this year and I'm so nervous about that because with a new piano student you have to be on task all the time. They can't practice on their own, or even with me reminding them which notes should be "sharp" as I make dinner from the next room.

The problem with saying no to other extracurricular things is that I just can't. Elle is just on the brink of making some great strides in tennis. She wants to be on the high school tennis team next year which would be great for her so she needs to keep it up. Grace and Claire crave gymnastics (and in many ways unique to each of their personalities they need it), and of course Dave and I are not going to tell Max, the only boy in the family, that he can't be involved in a sport. Then there's Lucy who needs some good physical activity worked in and I'm already envisioning how my heart will swell at the future dance recital that will wrap up the dance class I have her signed up for this year.

So my question is the same as this reader: I'd love new, concrete ideas on how to keep track of it all. I know that I will be revamping my "Mind Organization for Moms" system and I'm sure that will help. But even as amazing as that whole program is, it can't help me drive the volleyball carpool at the same time as I sit on the piano bench.

I want to start off on the right foot. We used to use a big calendar to keep us situated: But it fell by the wayside when I started using my computer calendar and printing it out each week. Maybe I need to start that again...

If only I could just have a clone...

Any help from mothers with organization in their bones would be much appreciated from me and from that mother who left this question.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


We are home.

Back to the familiar things we longed for while we were gone: Our own beds. Lucy's stuffed-bunny-who-wears-a-dress and who delights her to no end. A grocery store and Costco around the corner. Back-to-school night notices and orientation schedules the kids were anxious about (but that make us all a little nauseous). My husband and children mostly to myself.

Life is orderly here. Almost sterile in some ways in comparison to the lake and the cacophony of voices and needs and cooking and cleaning that goes on there. At the lake we bounce like ping-pong balls from one thing to the next: a tennis tournament in one place, a deep discussion about a particular aspect of parenting at another. Marshmallows being scraped off the floor at the pavilion and children begging for one more boat ride at the beach.

The simple-ness of it all back at home seems (at least these first few days) so very therapeutic and peaceful. Yet our hearts are still reaching back to the warmth of the chaos and color and texture of the lake and all the love that seeps in and out of that place.

At any one time of day it seems there are meals to be prepared and served...always abounding in good conversation: (Man alive we eat well up there).

Which leads to dishes to be done:
And a dishwasher to be constantly emptied:
And then, of course, kids are hungry again:
There is non-stop cousin bonding:

And some serious dance-moves for our "Just Dance" dance-off:
There are always children to be snuggled:
Especially by those who aren't even their parents. My kids leave that place so full of confidence from all the attention they've received from their amazing aunts and uncles.

There are old engines to be "male-bonded" over:

And talents to be shown-off:

There's always a tennis match to be played,
...and babies to be drooled over.

Life-jackets are put on and pulled off hundreds of times each day.

And grandchildren are made to feel like they are the best things since sliced bread.

Of course by then more food must be consumed.
...while politics or service projects are discussed in depth.

How we love that place.

Although I love coming home after each summer jam-packed full of memories there, to me, after living at Bear Lake each summer growing up it is "home" as well.

And I'm so glad it is becoming just that for my children too.

As much as I can't get over how great it feels to stretch out in my own bed, my fingers interlaced with Dave's, and to have our own fridge and only our own messes to take care of, I'm so grateful for the rich threads of beauty the memories of Bear Lake weave into the tapestry of what makes us "us."

Both the family I grew up in and continue to be so inspired by as well as the one I'm growing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Max was gone for his birthday almost two months ago. (I wrote my birthday post and took my paparazzi pictures of him back here.) We missed him dearly but did celebrate before he left.
(Lu is lingering at the post-breakfast table.)
Doesn't he look incredibly excited to have the attention on him?
At least he got to share a little of it with a cousin who was also celebrating a b-day.

His b-day tradition is to do something with water, whether it's water balloons, swimming, etc. He was so cute to swim with his adoring sisters for a little bit before he took off for his trip.
The girls were excited about that...
They love that guy so much.

Anyway, I'm barely getting it together enough to post his 14-year-old pictures so here you go:(He's not really one who jumps at the chance to be in a picture so it's taken me a couple months to get them.)Love that full-fledged teenager of mine with all my heart.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

4th of July in Coronado

We went to Coronado for the 4th of July.
It was our second year making that trip which pretty much solidifies it as a firm family least in our kids' book. I honestly don't know if they could have had more fun or been more excited if we took a trip to the moon.

I know that Dave and I are fun. I mean, we can come up with a mean game of "golf" with some playing cards if you'll let us:). But I think the real reason the kids were so excited was because we went with all these people:
You see all those cute kids in there?

Yeah, that is kid paradise.

Plus, what child would be unhappy with a beach and a shovel?
...and a human elastic-band thing? C'mon and agree with me that there's not much better :)There are endless hours of entertainment on a beach, I tell you.(Claire's face pretty much says it all.)

On Sunday we took a pause from the beach and went to church and to visit Dave's cousin and his family who live close-by.
We love these guys and we hadn't seen them for a long time.

They had a baby we hadn't met yet and we were all enamored by him, especially Claire, my "baby" girl. (Sometimes I think she has I.W.A.N. as bad as I do!)
They fed us a delicious lunch in their beautiful home.

Then back to the beach:
I love to go back to the beach in the evening when the slant of the sun is so beautiful:

I think Lu is pretty funny in this series of pictures:
Lucy took it upon herself to make sure every sand castle across the beach was sufficiently demolished at the end of the day.

She didn't have much luck with this one though.
(Click here for more about that one.)

And here are some clips to give a little snippet into how the 4th-of-July-building went:

What a nice friend to carry that girl all the way to the "Burger Lounge" like that!

On the evening of the 4th we gathered for pictures:
This was my favorite view:
It was like the paparazzi.

Then we walked over for the big firework show....

...and stopped at picturesque spots en route.

The traditional glow-sticks were handed out.
We tried to make the word "Coronado" this way:

But it worked out cooler this way:Gotta love those fireworks.
Picture that they were awesome even though I don't have the greatest pictures of them...I was busy snuggling with Lu and Dave.
I'm so grateful for this country of ours.
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