Monday, March 28, 2016

Concert Time

Our Family Home Evening tonight was watching the middle school band and orchestra concert.  They went all crazy and had it at the high school auditorium.  There were two concerts- the 6th grade one, and then the 7th and 8th grades together.  Emma was asked to play in the 6th grade concert too, which we didn't go watch.  We are on the sugar crash from Easter weekend, and asking the kids to sit through two concerts was more than we could all handle.  But I am sure Emma did a great job.  I think it's a compliment to Emma to be asked to learn (remember?  I'll have to ask if they are the same songs she played last year.) more than she was required to.  She was one of two band kids asked to help the 6th graders.  She's a really bright and talented girl.  
 The orchestra played first, so the band kids sat with their instruments to wait in the audience.  I will say that the orchestra has come a long ways since 6th grade.  I was infinitely grateful Emma was not in orchestra last year, as the sound of that many squeaky string instruments not entirely in tune with each other was murder on my ear drums and sanity.  (Although, what am I talking about?  I survived having 4 kids in 5 years.  I can put up with a lot of ear-splitting noise.)  Anyway, the orchestra is tolerable now.
Emma was sitting three rows back, right under the split in the curtains and barely visible.  The band has come a long way as well.  I admire her teacher.  It can't be easy listening to all that noise, day in and day out, trying to make it into music.  It has got to take a very dedicated person to teach middle school band and orchestra.

After the concert, we went to Burger Ranch for ice cream with the Condies and Gardners.  I think we should make that a tradition.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter

Our weekend Easter festivities began Friday afternoon when Ryan's brother Michael and his family showed up to spend the night with us.  They drove up from Utah, and were happy to break their journey here.  Of course, they showed up right as I was driving away to pick the kids up from school.  Um, sorry guys...  See you in a few?  First up, I had to get Emma after another after school prosthetic arm session, then I picked up the rest of the girls so I can get Elizabeth to her piano lesson.  Then I brought the remaining three kids home where I was able to visit for a bit before running back to pick Elizabeth up again.  Man, some days I feel like I spend a lot of time in the car, running kids back and forth to their various activities.  I need an audiobook just for me, so the kids don't complain that I went on without them.

We had a nice evening with Michael and Blair and kids, and stayed up way too late visiting.  Before we knew it, it was time to head up to Rick and Kim's place for the real Easter festivities.

When we arrived, Caitlin had made "Team Rudy" shirts for all of the kids to wear for a picture.  Ryan's uncle was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this week, and after running all of the tests and scans, his kidneys were not performing well enough for surgery.  With 2-3 months to live without the surgery, the waiting game for his body to be well enough has everyone on pins and needles.  We are thinking of you, Uncle Rudy!
Then the kids were turned loose to dye the hard boiled eggs.  The white t-shirt then doubled as clothes protectors from the dye.
 The family is now big enough that a second table is put out when everyone is together.

 We only brought one dozen fresh-from-the-Kannely's-chickens eggs.  The other two dozen from us were store bought.  The brown eggs don't come out as brightly colored as white ones.  I think the earthy colors are cool, but not all the kids agree.
 We ate the big meal of the day- with both ham and leg of lamb.  There was enough food to stuff ourselves well.

Afterwards the adults hid the eggs, both hard boiled and candy filled plastic ones.  Then we set the kids free:

 Ryan picked up one of our brown hard-boiled eggs, and was impressed with how hard the shell was.  He proceeded to show half the kids by knocking it on their foreheads.  

 Because everyone was together, Ryan and I brought our camera tripod and we attempted to get a big family picture.  With several tries, this is about as good as we can get without a real photographer.
 Plus a crazy faced one for laughs.
We didn't stay really late, because our favorite babysitter ever was having her mission open house that evening and Ryan and I wanted to say goodbye.  With family gatherings, we missed Handel's Messiah sing-a-long Friday evening and the Women's session of conference Saturday, but we made it to Jaci's open house.

The Easter Bunny left gifts last night.  The candy offerings have dwindled over the years, to be replaced by some non-edibles like sticky notes, pens, toothpaste, and hair things.  And I took no pictures today for some reason- none of the kids with their baskets, no dress pictures, no dinner pictures.  I don't know what happened.  I guess part of the problem was there were no Easter dresses this year, and we had to be at church early for choir practice.  We are also trying to shift our focus a little, but doing most of the "fun" aspect of Easter the day before, and then thinking a little more about our Savior on Sunday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


During the winter months I go a little crazy.  It's too cold to be outside, so there are no morning walks with friends.  Aside from errands and volunteering two days a week, I sit inside left to my own devices.  Cleaning isn't my favorite activity, so the ideas of doing those jobs like cleaning out the window tracks and dusting the baseboards and organizing the storage room are fleeting nuisances, quickly passed over for reading books or staring at Pinterest.  

The wall in the kitchen above our kitchen table has been bare since we painted the kitchen.  I've wanted to put pictures or art of some kind there, but I haven't been able to settle on anything.  At least, I haven't been able to settle on something that fits in my little-to-nothing redecorating budget.  I've been admiring watercolor pictures for a while, and finally I decided I was just going to have to make something myself.  Armed with a $5 watercolor kit from Michaels, some cheap watercolor paper, and some frames from Burlington Coat factory, I've been practicing and watching YouTube videos until I was able to make these:
They aren't so bad, and I had fun making them.  I feel like a real artist, having my framed art up on the wall.  I also sneaked one of my other practice flower pictures into the gallery wall in the family room.

Friday, March 18, 2016


I have been watching our apricot trees like a hawk for the last month.  I've been eagerly awaiting the time that the flowers peeped out so I could post a picture with the caption, "Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!"  (You have to be familiar with Mormon primary songs to appreciate this.)
Anyway, they are beautiful.  I love the colors coming alive again after the dull greys and browns of winter.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In addition to the usual mischief, the sneaky Leprechauns left green mustaches on our family pictures last night.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Stuff of Nightmares

We discovered this app called Face Swap.  It's hilarious.  It will swap your face onto someone else's head, usually with um... interesting results.  Ryan and I tried it together first.
 Yep, these faces would make anyone cry.
 Gosh, I need to do something about those eyebrows on my face.
 Another evening I tried it out with the girls.  This is Maddie and me.
 Honestly, I think I swap faces with Elizabeth best.  It kinda works.  It's like we are related, or something.
 Maddie and me again.
 Although, the Elizabeth (white tank top) and Annie (black shirt) work pretty well too.  I wouldn't guess the picture below had been swapped, except I knew what each child was wearing.  It's like they are related too.
 And then, here's Emma and me.  Her face works on my head, but the other... not so much.  I make Emma look like she has a very round face.

Ryan has taken the app on his phone to work, and swapped faces with many people.  Since most of the staff at elementary schools are female, well... His pictures look as good as the ones with me.  Ryan says he wants to work the pictures into a slide show for a teacher development day.  Perhaps as comic relief?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Day Away

We left bright and early this morning, leaving the kids in their pjs and arriving at my in-laws before just before 8:30 am.  Ryan and I were off to the Seattle temple for my sister's family sealing.  Since it wasn't something we could take the kids to, we arranged to let them spend the day and night with their grandparents, and some cousins.  Ryan and I got the kids settled in, ate some breakfast (because nothing says "Thanks for watching our kids" like, "Hey, we forgot to eat before we left- can we crash your breakfast?"), and we were off amid sad "I'm going to miss you" faces from a couple of the girls.

Life has been going at such a break-neck speed that it was nice to spend time with just Ryan.  Even if half of the day was spent traveling.

We stopped at Snoqualmie Falls on our way over.  There is a pretty heavy flow right now with the warmer temperatures and rain.
We arrived early, had a quick lunch a Dairy Queen, and went to the stake center by the temple to change our clothing.  I was surprised to see the church distribution center is no longer there, but instead there is a family discovery something or other.  In any case, one of the side doors was unlocked and we changed in the bathrooms.  We were going to walk around the temple, but met up with Janelle and Jeff and their kids who pulled up moments after we parked.  So we helped walk their stuff and children into the temple and settled in to wait.

And wait.

The wait was a bit longer than we anticipated.  

In due course, we were led up to a sealing room where Janelle and Jeff were sealed, and then their children were sealed to them.  It was beautiful.  To be a forever family is something we pray and work and hope for every day.  

Look at how cute they all look.  They wanted to get some family pictures taken at the temple.  These two were my contribution.
 They are awaiting the arrival of baby number 4 in about five weeks.
 The weather cooperated for them.  Literally two minutes after pictures ended and they went inside to change out of their white clothes, the heavens opened and it rained.  But the rain let up again when it was time to leave.

Originally the plan had been to meet at a Chinese buffet for an early dinner, but the people who went to go reserve a place for our large group said it was closed until 5 pm.  That was an hour away.  So the guys all got out their phones and proceeded to figure out a Plan B.
Siri found us a place called Hidden Teriyaki.  It was pretty well hidden, nearly under the I-90 and 405 interchange.  It looked like an unpromising little hole in the wall.  It was empty except for all 15 of us and the teriyaki was good, so it all worked out.

Then it was time to drive home.  Ryan thought he would not get gas and see if we could make it home.  So yes, we can go from home to his parent's place, to Bellevue, and back home on one tank of gas.  Yay van.

We did get gas upon returning.  We have to go pick up the kids from their grandparents in the morning.


Last night was the network television debut of my brother-in-law.  Michael and his wife's brother were on Shark Tank to promote their toilet light invention: the Illumibowl.  

One day at a family reunion, Michael and his brother-in-law were complaining about having to use the toilet in the middle of the night, and how your only two choices were missing in the dark or blinding yourself by turning on the light.  Brother-in-law Matt thought a motion sensor glow-in-the-dark mat for in front of the toilet would solve the problem, but Michael took it a step further and thought there should be a way to make the inside of your toilet light up.  One thing led to another, and their "soft glow where you need to go" debuted on Kickstarter.  

It did much better than expected.

In fact, they raised $95,399 on just a $20,000 Kickstarter goal.

Fast forward to now, both guys are working exclusively on their own business.  They filmed Shark Tank many months ago, but were mum about the details, and so we have been excited to watch the episode to see how things went down.

About two weeks ago, they were finally given the airing date of their episode.  Unfortunately it was the same day as Emma's birthday.  While we originally thought that it would be fun to combine the two exciting events, Emma let me know in no uncertain terms about what she thought about that idea.  There was no possible way that she was celebrating her 13th birthday with refreshments that would be toilet themed.  I guess I can't really blame her.  

Ryan and I watched Shark Tank last night after the kids went to bed.  We were so excited to see Michael!  We were total dorks and took a picture of him on our tv and texted it to him.  I guess we were trying to prove that we were really watching?  He's the one on the right.
Image result for illumibowl on shark tank

My father-in-law sent us this charming picture of some of their evening refreshments.
Emma was spot on.  There's no way I would want to spent my birthday with Baby Ruth candy bars floating in juice.  Ryan having a prior engagement gave us a reason to stay home to celebrate.  Not that any of us liked having Ryan spending the evening away.  Again.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Emma Turns 13

My baby girl turned 13 today. 

A teenager.  Really?  I am the mom of a teenager.  Oh.My.Gosh.  We are three years away from a driver's license, and five away from graduating high school.  And it's going to come all too soon, isn't it?  Those older moms always tell you that childhood goes by quickly, and when you are in the middle of diaper changes, tantrums, nap schedules, toy dumping, and graffiti artists, you think you are lucky to survive to the time daddy comes home. 

But now, with 13 years of motherhood under my belt, I can echo the chorus: It does go by fast.  I am staring at my daughter who is almost as tall as I am and I am blown away.  She's funny, and smart, and can be wonderfully empathetic and helpful.  When she chooses to be.  She is 13, after all.

She came floating down the stairs this morning from her bedroom, very pleased with the fact that she is officially a teenager.  I think this is a big milestone in her mind, and you could tell she was enjoying the grown-up-sounding-ness of it.

Emma said what she really wanted for her birthday was to watch some PG-13 movies- namely Harry Potter movies.  We've only let the kids watch The Sorcerer's Stone, The Chamber of Secrets, and The Prisoner of Azkaban, and Emma has been dying forever to watch the others.  So I picked Emma up from school at lunch time, and we came home for lunch and a Harry Potter watching marathon.

When everyone had made it home,  Emma pounced on her presents.  
 The Altoids came from Elizabeth.  I think Emma was so excited to eat one, she shoved the whole tin in her mouth.  Or something.
 Annie, Maddie, and Elizabeth drew lots of pictures and wrote lots of notes to Emma.  In fact, they didn't think I decorated enough, so after school while we were waiting for Dad to come home, they taped all kinds of things to the walls for Emma's birthday.
 Annie got this book, written by Emma's principal at the elementary school book swap.  Since I was a helper at the book swap, Annie had me help her find a book that Emma would like.

Miss Book Worm got several books.
 Emma's dinner of choice was crepes and hash browns.  We sang "Happy Birthday" before we were really finished with dinner because Ryan had someplace else he needed to be at 6 pm.

 Mmm... Let's eat cake.