Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Happy Christmas 2016

December 18, 2016

    Happy Christmas!

           It’s Sunday evening. We have just said goodbye to most of our guests of the day...a few are happily lingering, playing games in the basement. Bryan is on an airplane on his way to Wisconsin for a 2-day business trip. And I’ve been trying to do some kitchen cleanup after feeding more people than I can even count. This morning many friends and family gathered to hear Rebekah speak in church and welcome her home from her recently completed mission to London, England. After the meeting, everyone congregated in our home for some goodies, and lots and lots of talking. It was crowded and loud...and absolutely wonderful! In a year that had multiple big events, this is the most recent. After spending the great majority of 2016 in London, Rebekah returned to us on the last day of November after completing her 18 month mission. It’s been bittersweet for our new RM. As excited as she was to see her family again, her heart broke to not only leave behind so many friends in England, but also to see this most amazing part of her life come to a conclusion. She will always carry with her the memories and the growth that came from it, of course. But I think part of her heart will always be British from here on out. We are hoping to go back for a visit next summer so Rebekah can show us around London and Canterbury and introduce us to her British mum and dad and the various other wonderful people she came to love there. Obviously the main highlights of her mission were wrapped up in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, serving the people in England, and the spiritual growth and personal maturity that came from it all. But as for living in London...some highlights included seeing Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip (who waved at them as they drove by), watching “Wicked” on the West End, visiting the beautiful London Temple out in the countryside, checking out such famous landmarks as the Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, riding those famous red double decker buses, and “minding the gap” while taking the Tube all over the city. Living in London truly was a treat. London is quite a melting pot and she met people from all over the world. On any given day she was interacting with and teaching lessons to people from the Philippines, Italy, Russia, Poland, Denmark, Thailand, China, Sweden, America, and more. Her last four companions were all Mandarin Chinese speakers from Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and mainland China. Between that and the many Chinese people she taught in London, she thinks that maybe it’s a sign that she should be learning the language and is considering taking Mandarin classes at “Uni.” (She may not have come home with an accent but has most definitely adopted British phrases and slang. Julianne claims that Rebekah can go to “Uni” while she goes to “college.”)

           Speaking of Julianne, she does indeed go to college now! But let me back up a bit. In June Julianne graduated with high honors from Davis High School. The only thing that made this event a little easier to deal with the second time around was that at least I knew what to expect. So when the tears came, it wasn’t as big of a surprise. Her senior year kept her busy with multiple AP and CE classes that were fascinating, if time consuming, but also rehearsals for the various school theatre productions she was involved in, Seminary Council and a boyfriend. All the same, she was very ready to graduate and move past high school and onto college. She debated (agonized, really) between Utah State University in Logan and Utah Valley University in Provo. Her head told her USU, but her heart said UVU so down to Provo she went, with a full ride academic scholarship in her back pocket. Julianne has been not only my daughter but also my confidant and my friend during some difficult times these past few years so moving her out of our home and into her own apartment was hard for me. But she is enjoying living with her roommates and learning how to do that whole “adulting” thing. She finds her classes interesting and she is the Relief Society president in her student ward which keeps her very busy as she tries her hardest to take care of all the college girls under her stewardship. She just finished her first experience with finals and is home for the Christmas break. With Rebekah not moving back to Logan until January, we are a full family of six for a few weeks anyhow.

            And if all that weren’t big enough news...are you sitting down? We adopted a puppy. I know, shocking right? With Bryan’s and Brandon’s allergies, we’ve never owned any pet of the furry variety. But when the opportunity to adopt a mini goldendoodle kind of dropped into our laps in what seemed almost a meant-to-be sort of way, I was amazed at the puppy longing that came over me. Goldendoodles are hypoallergenic so I had high hopes. And when Bryan and Brandon both passed the rub-the-puppy-all-over-your-face-and-eyes allergy test, we decided (after much pestering, coaxing and persuading from me) to take the leap and welcome this little puppy into our family. We brought him home as a birthday surprise for Lilian and named him Oscar. (Which means that I find myself frequently singing those old Oscar Mayer commercial jingles to him...something that brings much confusion and annoyance to my children). People told me the first few months with a puppy would be really hard. I heard stories of sleep deprivation, potty training, destruction of house and home, etc. They said it was like having a new baby all over again. And while I believed them, I still didn’t quite understand just how hard it really would be. And I have to say, it did take me a couple months to stop thinking, “What the hell have we done???” Yes, there were swears. Especially when he decided his favorite place to go potty was under my baby grand piano. But along with the naughty language that came out of my mouth, he also made me laugh every day. And he loved us all so unconditionally, it was hard to stay mad at him for too long. Little Oscar is now 8.5 months old. We’ve made it through the toughest of the puppy phases and everyone adores him. (Well, with the exception of Julianne who has never been much of a dog person and claims that while she doesn’t love him, she dislikes him the least of all dogs.) I’ve joined the neighborhood morning dog walking group...social for Oscar and social for me. He follows me around wherever I go and at present is taking a nap at my feet while I type this. I have gone from swearing at and about him to cuddling with him and marveling over this fairly intense feeling of love and joy that comes into my heart when I look at him. Well, at least when he isn’t chewing on my shoes.

             And because of the wanderlust that tends to make an appearance somewhat regularly, 2016 saw a bit of travel...
             We flew to Seattle as a family this past August and after a few days of exploring that fascinating city, we made our way down the coast of Oregon. We stopped at various beaches along the way and took time to do some hiking in the Redwood Forest before arriving in San Francisco where we spent a few more days introducing our children to the City by the Bay. The Pacific Northwest is incredibly beautiful!             
            In October, I accompanied Bryan on a business trip to Honolulu. I spent much of my daytime exploring the island on my own, but our hotel was right across the street from Waikiki Beach and we had a glorious time. I think the highlight was our hike up Koko Head Volcano. 1,050 railroad tie steps to the top...I think it may be one of the hardest things I have ever done. I joked that on the way up I felt like maybe I’d like to die, at one point on the way down I slipped and thought I was about to, and then when the sore muscles set in I thought I had! But in all actuality I’d do it again. The view from the top was nothing short of spectacular and the bragging rights were pretty cool too.
              Brandon, as usual, had some out of state gymnastic meets which necessitated trips to Palo Alto, Las Vegas and two trips to Colorado Springs. Brandon also took a road trip to Yellowstone to do some camping and hiking with his coaches and other level 10 teammates right before school started.
              As a senior trip of sorts, Julianne went to Belize in July with the HEFY program...a humanitarian trip where they spent two weeks building a school. They worked long and hard, but also made time for some adventures. I saw pictures of snorkeling with sharks, catamaran rides, ziplining through the jungle and cave tubing. She made friends with the locals and left a whole lot of her clothing and shoes behind when the trip was done, as gifts for the people who needed them more than she did. I think she considers the trip one of the best things she has ever done.

            In other odds and ends:
               Brandon got his first job this year and now works at his gym coaching some of the younger kids in rec classes. Which means that if you do a little math and add his regular workouts to his coaching hours you come up with a good 27 hours a week he is at the gym. The kid practically lives there. He has his learner’s permit and we are both counting down the days until he can officially drive himself to the gym. But when all is said and done, gymnastics still means the world to him and his team is his second family.

               Lilian is in her 4th year of soccer and has become quite the little dynamo on the field. Like her older sister before her, she plays a strong defense and has a kick that can send the ball halfway down the field. She also continues to take acting classes at CentreStage Theatre and played the part of Kaa the Snake in their recent performance of Jungle Book. She’s in the 4th grade and seems so grown up! Although when I accidentally spilled the beans that the elf on the shelf wasn’t real a week or so ago, she was devastated and dramatically claimed that I had ruined Christmas forever. So I suppose that means she’s not fully ready to leave childhood behind quite yet.

               Bryan has seen a lot more business travelling this year. In fact, he was out of town the week Rebekah came home from her mission and it took a bit of doing to arrange an earlier departure which would get him to the airport right around the time Rebekah’s flight was due to land. (Which meant that the lucky guy got to wait at her gate and get the first hug!) In hiring some new employees, we’re hoping to see his travel time maybe decrease a bit this next year, but I suppose time will tell.

               In other end of year news, I feel I should inform you that Bryan has grown out his hair. He now proudly sports a ponytail (or man bun depending on the day). I’m still unsure as to whether or not this is just a phase. But in the meantime Julianne and I told him that in order to really rock the look correctly he needed to dump the wire frames he was wearing and get himself a new pair of hipster glasses. He has recently taken our advice. At Rebekah’s homecoming earlier today, some friends of hers were overheard discussing her Dad’s outfit and hair...and it was apparently decided that he was “ridiculously stylish.” It gave us a pretty good chuckle.

      It was a good year, 2016. We hope the same was true for you. And as we all wait to see what the next year brings, we wish for you a holiday filled with love, happiness, family, and a big dose of that special Christmas spirit.

                    Love from the Crofts,
                    Bryan, Sarah, Rebekah (20), Julianne (18), Brandon (15), and Lilian (9)
    

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Maybe we should've name him Goober...

Buster Brown
Goober
Oscar the Grouch
Piddle Puppy
Oscar No Bite
Dragon
Oscar Possum
Knee Biter
Oscar Meyer
Damn Dog (when he's especially naughty and I'm especially irritated)
These are all nicknames that our new little puppy Oscar has acquired over the past 6 weeks or so since he's come to live with us.

This has been a different sort of summer for me. Oscar has turned me into an early riser...whether I wanted to be or not. And though I complain about it often, I have to admit that in some ways it is awfully nice. It's peaceful at 6:00am. And the temperatures outside are pleasantly cool. Oscar and I putter around in the backyard watering flower pots and the garden. We pull weeds and work on random yard projects. We sit on the porch swing where I read my scriptures out loud and he looks up at me and listens intently. Apparently I have a righteous puppy. ;) We come inside and do dishes and laundry. And after being up for an hour and a half, Oscar falls asleep at my feet as I sit on a counter stool and check out emails, social media and the news on my laptop. It's a nice routine.

But my summer does indeed revolve around this little puppy and his schedule while we house train him and adjust ourselves to having this new little member of our family. It's a lot more time consuming than I had ever expected.

Puppy quirks:
* I can't wear dresses. And during the summer, little knit dresses are my go-to wear to stay cool. Plus they make me feel girly and cute. But I can't wear them. Because Oscar jumps up and grabs hold of the hem that's swaying around my knees with his teeth...and won't. let. go. Which usually results in a hole in the fabric. Sigh. This shall pass, right? Please tell me that next summer I'll be able to mix my summer dresses back into my wearable rotation?

* Everyone told me that having a puppy was like having another baby/toddler. And while I accepted that was true to some extent, I didn't realize just how humorously accurate it would turn out to be.
Examples:
Oscar likes to climb up in an attempt to lick some left over food off a bowl or plate. I think Brandon just liked the adventure of pulling himself up and onto the opened dishwasher door...and sometimes to grab the spoons out of the silverware holder.

Every single one of my children did this as toddlers.

* I laugh every day. Belly laugh. At the crazy little things Oscar does. For example, this morning I was setting up a sprinkler to spray a dry area of my lawn. I had set the hose in the spot I needed it and headed back to turn on the water. It wasn't until I was in the process of turning the knob and looked back to see how high I wanted the water pressure, that I realized Oscar was standing directly over the sprinkler. And his reaction when that water shot up was priceless! I could not stop laughing! He's a water dog so he wasn't too upset, but oh my!

* When I give him a treat filled "kong" (rubber toy with a hollow middle for him to work food out of) he always takes it to the mat outside the back door to play/eat/work at it. When I give him a edible chew bone, he grabs it and runs down the deck stairs and onto the lawn to chew on it under the tree. Go figure?

* When I take Brandon to meet up with his gymnastics carpool in the mornings, often I'll take Oscar along for the ride. His favorite spot in the car is laying in my lap with his head nestled into the crook of my left arm while I hold the steering wheel. I have no idea if this is a no-no is terms of the laws of the road, but as long as he just lays there, which he usually does, it's not distracting at all. And kind of sweet...

* He will obey me better than anyone else in the family. Apparently I'm the alpha. And I must say, he has a darn good "sit" and "come" going on.

* Especially when he is wet but really any time, he does this little snake in the grass, writhing little dance on his back. Usually it is accompanied by small growls. I'm sure he's just getting a good back scratching in, but he looks so funny!

* He doesn't do this as much anymore, a fact that likely makes Julianne kind of sad, but when Oscar first came to our home he would put his little head down in your lap and make a kind of huff sound out his nose. It was remarkably cute, and reminded Julianne of a dragon...so much so that she had to go pull out and re-read "Dragonhaven" by Robin McKinley. And that is where Oscar's nickname of Dragon came from.

I have to document some of these little puppy stories because people say I will miss the puppy phase after it is over. Honestly, as cute as the little goober is, I think I will be rather happy to have these exhausting and sometimes very frustrating puppy months behind me. But I already look back on pictures from a month ago and say, "Awww...remember when he was so tiny and used to do that?" So I'm assuming they may be right to some extent. Personally, I'm just really looking forward to being able to go on a walk where I feel like I am walking Oscar instead of him walking me. That comes with practice, right?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Losing smarts

I was privileged to overhear this little gem of a conversation between Lilian and her Grandpa while we were at their house celebrating Fathers Day this past Sunday. I couldn't stop laughing...

Lilian: Hey Grandpa....you know how they dug a piece out of your head? That place where there is a dent on top...you know? (He had a patch of skin cancer removed a few years ago.)

Grandpa: Yes, I know what you mean.

Lilian: Well, when they removed that part, did they take away some of your smarts too?

Grandpa: {Teasing} Yep. They did.

Lilian: Really? What did you lose?

Grandpa: What do you mean, Lilian?

Lilian: Well, like is science or math gone?

Grandpa: I think I might have lost all of the 3rd grade.

Lilian: {Gasp} Really??? Well, don't worry, Grandpa. I just finished the 3rd grade. I can fill you in!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Puppy Love

I've gone through spurts in past years where I am massively puppy hungry. Not sure exactly why. If it had to do with all my neighbors getting puppies, or if I was baby hungry but knowing no more babies were meant to be it was manifesting itself in a longing for a puppy, or maybe just the idealic traditional scene of a family with a dog...who knows. I've never had a dog. Not even as a kid. Maybe that had something to do with it as well?

Three years ago my friend got a Havanese puppy. I oohed and ahhed and wished for one myself. She said her puppy had a sister still available and maybe I should look into that. So I did. It was hypoallergenic. She wouldn't get very big so she would make a great indoor pup. I talked with Bryan about it. We (I) researched the breed specifically and puppies generally. It seemed like I was making progress with Bryan...until he heard how much the puppy would cost. Because apparently hypoallergenic puppies tend to be a bit more on the pricey side. And that led to Bryan nixing the whole idea, cost being a factor but also more thought about just puppy craziness in general...Bryan didn't want the house destroyed by a puppy who pees on the carpet, chews the furniture and scratches up the floorboards. But oh, I had come so close!

Later I was kind of relieved. Puppies really did look like a lot of work. Maybe I had dodged a bullet? But I tucked the research and the longing into the back of my head to save for a later date. Because maybe it would be worth looking into again when the older kids were gone and Lilian was home alone. Would a puppy be a nice companion for her?

The puppy hunger reared its head occasionally, but I was able to keep it at bay until a few weeks ago. I came across an ad on FB placed by some friends from our old neighborhood in Centerville. Three little 8-week old goldendoodle puppies looking for a forever home. I was smitten! I could not stop looking at the pictures. I went back time and again to that FB page. The puppy hunger took hold in a big way and I started researching goldendoodles. These specifically were F1B which meant puppies bred from a goldendoodle and a full poodle. This makes the puppies 75% poodle, 25% golden retriever. Which for me meant, even less likelihood of an allergic reaction for my allergy sufferers (Bryan and Brandon) and little to no shedding. The puppies had been born into a home where there were lots of kids to play with them. They had been loved and bathed and given shots and were ready for their new families.

I emailed Bryan and started the process with him. He predictably thought I was crazy. And maybe I was. But I couldn't get over the thought that though this was a few years earlier than I had been originally thinking, maybe now was a good time for a puppy. Rebekah on a mission and heading back to USU as soon as she returns home. Julianne moving out and heading to UVU at the end of the summer. Brandon at gymnastics for long hours every evening. We were already heading into the scenario I had envisioned with Lilian being home with just the parents most of the time.

I gave him reason after reason why this would be a good idea. And why the timing was good. And why this puppy over others would be a good fit for our family. He wanted to talk about the downsides of owning a puppy which were admittedly, many. Finally he said he wasn't 100% opposed and we could talk later when he came home from his business trip. I emailed my friend in Centerville and told her we were potentially interested but that we'd need to bring Brandon and Bryan over to meet the puppy first. I wanted to rub that little puppy's fur in their faces. I wanted them to rub their eyes and breathe in puppy scent. I needed to make very sure if we brought this puppy home to be a part of our family that they wouldn't be miserable or even the slightest big uncomfortable due to allergies. It is their home first and foremost and I was not willing to give up their comfort for my dreams of a puppy.

But they weren't allergic! All went well with the meet and greet. We had a great time talking with our neighbors again after all these years, and they gave us loads of great information about raising puppies in general and goldendoodles specifically. It almost felt meant to be as we talked and they brought up concerns or issues and answered the questions we hadn't even told them we'd had. Their puppy raising philosophy aligned so exactly with the things Bryan and I had been talking about earlier. And the one little puppy left that we were considering was just adorable. Bryan told them that we'd go home to think about it and get back to them by the end of the day. And it looked good, it really did! It looked like Bryan was getting comfortable with the idea of the puppy.

But then we went home and reality sunk in. For me. I knew that puppies were a lot of work and needed serious time and attention to train and take care of. But I also knew that being the beginning of summer, my schedule would be lighter and I'd have helpers. Great timing! But oh, looking around the house and thinking about the ways in which I'd need to puppy proof. Thinking about our comfortable schedule and routine and the ways in which that would get a lot more difficult...did I want to really do that? And yes, it looked like I'd be able to talk Bryan into the puppy. But I didn't want it to be a reluctant thing or like I had bullied him into it. I knew he'd let me bring this puppy home. And I knew that in the beginning he might just tolerate him. But I wanted to feel like eventually he'd be fond of him. I didn't want him coming home from work every night and be irritated about puppy antics. So I texted my friend and told her that we needed to sleep on it.

































I dreamed of puppies all night. And early the next morning I awoke to a text from my friend...a video of the puppy running around the yard and being the cute little guy that he was.  I left Bryan and the kids sleeping and puttered out to my computer to do more research. I went back and forth on my pros and cons list. And finally went in to talk to Bryan still in bed. I spilled my guts as to everything on my mind. He listened patiently to my somewhat tearful puppy ramblings and finally said...he would be okay with the puppy. He would help me when he was home. He enjoyed having dogs when he was growing up and knew that our children would likely enjoy it too. Specifically he liked the idea of Lilian having a companion and some more responsibility associated with owning a puppy. And he was pretty sure he would become fond of the puppy over time. We could do this if I really wanted.
(Oscar is a bit obsessed with our water fountain in the backyard.)

So I texted my friend, told her we were on board.
And then got really excited and nervous and felt all sorts of emotions.

We decided to wait till Friday to pick him up so as to be a birthday surprise for Lilian. (Plus, a little easier to get through the crazy last week of school which included Julianne's graduation!!!) Bryan ordered puppy necessities on amazon. I texted all my dog owning family and friends asking for advice and reassurance that I wasn't crazy. (Some of them told me that I was. But it was tempered by the ones who said I'd never regret it...you know, after we got through those first crazy weeks.) I emailed Rebekah and told her what we were getting a puppy (she was rightfully stunned) and asked her to send me some name suggestions so she could be a part of the process. Julianne, Brandon and I talked names all week...we had a running list that we texted to each other with additions or cancellations. We wanted Lilian to help pick a name...but we also wanted to be set with a few approved choices to present to her so we could guide her...knowing on her own she would likely try to name the puppy some silly or generic name.
(And being a baby...he sleeps a lot.)

And then we brought the little guy home. And it was indeed quite a birthday surprise! We named him Oscar. (Trumping Bryan's suggestion of Dorkadoodle...haha.)

And then our lives changed. A lot. More than I had even expected. I knew it would be a lot of work. I knew this! But wow, it wasn't too long before I was rather overwhelmed. Could I really do this? Had I bit off more than I could chew? Regardless of the years of longing, had I jumped into this too soon? Oscar was adorable. But taking care of him was hard. And he wanted to continually poop under my grand piano, regardless of potty timers and signals. He's a puppy and so naturally he was nippy at times. Especially in the early mornings when he was super hyper. And that made me nervous...because though it didn't hurt too much, there's just something about a dog lunging or jumping at you, even in play, with his mouth open wide and those teeth trying to grab your hand or clothing. (Shades of my past childhood fear of dogs coming back, maybe?)

I called a trainer. Which I had always planned to do. She came to the house and started training Oscar AND me. And suddenly I felt hope again. I knew of course that eventually we'd make it through the puppy phase. I could see that in the future we'd have a sweet dog that was truly part of our family in a calm, happy, companionable sort of way. But this puppy thing? I could do this. And this was what would make that future happy vision I had in my head come to fruition. She assured me that Goldendoodles were a highly intelligent breed, and people pleasers to boot...so training shouldn't be horribly difficult as long as we were consistent.

We got a fence/gate to put across the entrance to the kitchen in as we got serious about potty training. Oscar will be confined there and the back yard for the first few weeks until he "earns" his way into various other rooms of the house. We took Oscar to puppy class on Saturday morning and let him socialize with other puppies.
(I tripped over the fence a couple days ago. Oscar was ringing the bells on the back doorknob which is the signal we are trying to teach him that means we will let him out to go potty. I was hurriedly trying to get to the door when my pinky toe slipped in and got caught on that top rung and the fence and I went down hard. Multiple bruises and a pretty deep gash in between my pinky toe and the one next to it. Who would've guessed training a puppy could be so hazardous to one's health?)

Every morning I get up somewhere around 6:15. (This morning it was 5:45, but yesterday it was 6:30.) He is forcing me to become a morning person. And because the two of us spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen, I'm usually pretty on top of my dishes and laundry. He's sleeping a lot better, early mornings withstanding, at least he's not waking up in the middle of the night, or whining and barking when we put him to bed.

Every day I wonder what I've got myself into and think back somewhat longingly to my days of sleeping in and being able to leave the house and do whatever I want, whenever I want to. But every day I also spend a lot of time on the floor petting and scratching and loving on my little furry baby and know that it will be all worth it. Puppy phase is hard but oh so cute and I'm sure we will miss it when it's over.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Birthday surprises

Lilian turned 9-years old on Friday. It was the last day of school so she was rather jazzed about that. Kind of a double celebration of sorts. She originally wanted to celebrate by having a slumber party complete with homemade little lean-to tents that she had seen on Pinterest. Yes, my 9-year old looks at Pinterest. Have I mentioned she is a teenager in a little kid body? I mean seriously, check out this conversation I had with her just last night while she was watching The Bachelorette...on her own, even. Not even with her older sister!
Lilian: I think JoJo will probably send home Chad instead of Alex.
Me: Well, isn't Chad just the worst? Doesn't everyone hate him because he keeps threatening to beat everyone up?
Lilian: Well, yes. But Mom, just hear me out....I actually think Chad and JoJo look really good together. You know, the strong man taking care of the girl. (On the episode Chad had been helping JoJo as they were hiking.) I think maybe he's just mean around the other guys and that he could be really nice to JoJo. 

Umm....okay. Maybe I shouldn't let her watch The Bachelorette anymore.






















So, back to the story. She was insistent on having a slumber party. The thing is, we don't usually have sleepovers. And even if we made an exception, many of the girlfriends she wanted to invite have the same sort of no sleepover family rule. I told her between all the many varied things we had going on that week, I wouldn't be able to have a party on her actual birthday anyhow. Plus, I wasn't overly worried because I knew we were having a surprise to top all birthday surprises....






















I went to school with her in the morning and did a little VIP sort of presentation in honor of her birthday. Then left the kids to their yearbook signings and ran home to decorate Lilian's room. I'm not sure I will ever again be able to listen to the "Hamilton" soundtrack without associating it with blowing up balloons, but so be it. She came home from school doubly happy. Birthday happy and last day of school happy. She watched The Bachelorette (sigh) while I made the cake and did other such birthday prep. Cousins Megan, Emily and Nathan came over for birthday dinner consisting of the requested salmon, potatoes and veggies. Also requested, a treasure hunt with clues leading to her birthday presents. Julianne and the cousins had come up with riddles leading to various hiding places throughout the house. Her final clue led her to the back deck. And waiting for her there was...
video

A PUPPY! 

She was nothing short of stunned. A little mini goldendoodle puppy wagging his tail in excitement. We told Lilian that though this little guy was a family dog, he was adopted mostly with her her in mind...a companion and snuggle buddy as all her older siblings are moving out of the house (mission and college) or continuously gone (gymnastics). We discussed names while the puppy scampered around on the grass and Lilian opened the rest of her birthday gifts. You know a puppy is a big deal when it trumps the awesomeness of getting Pentatonix concert tickets. (See you guys, she's a teenager at heart. What 9-year old wants tickets to see Pentatonix and is willing to wait till October when they come in concert? Granted, she was also pretty excited to get a nerf bow and arrow.)
But yes, a puppy. A birthday PUPPY!

Up next: The story of how I convince Bryan to agree to said puppy....

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Pocahontas

Despite the fact that we have had four 3rd graders, this was our first experience with the very popular wax museum project. Maybe it's a newer thing that came around after Brandon finished 3rd grade? Well whatever, I have to admit that I had a very bad attitude about it at first. I'm not entirely sure why. I mean, it's all about researching famous historical figures...what's not to love about that? Especially if you are a history major like me, am I right? Another admission...I'm so over elementary school. After three kids and then a six year gap before Lilian, I've moved on mentally. Been there, done that and much more focused on higher education, you know? At least this is what I've told myself. Maybe it truly had more to do with a roller coaster of a year that had me preoccupied with other things...things that took higher precedence in my mind than 3rd grade homework. Maybe next year I'll be totally on top of things in regards to elementary school again? Who knows, really. But whatever it was, the wax museum was giving me grief. I was frustrated with all the research and the worksheets to fill out and the poster to make, etc. It was just one more thing. One more thing that after sitting with Lilian to do said research and fill out said worksheets, I would frequently hear back from the teacher that it was all good, but...could I have Lilian fill out the worksheet in this different way, or make sure to highlight pertinent information in this other print out? Which just made me all the more irritable. Despite the fact that I had rather enjoyed learning interesting facts about Pocahontas. (Because you know, as awesome as I think the Disney movie is, it is not historically accurate.)

The big day came. We couldn't find Rebekah's old Pocahontas Halloween costume from years back. Of course...because that would've been too easy. We ordered another native american/indian costume on amazon and Lilian delightedly dressed up the morning of and let me put braids in her hair. Which is a feat in and of itself...she rarely lets me do anything with her hair other than brush it. Just saying. Lilian and I discussed a few poses she could use while standing all wax-like. She made sure she had her note cards for the oral report she was to give later in the afternoon to just her class. And off she went. Bryan and I followed about 30 minutes later.

But then. Oh, but then! I was blown away. Truly. All four 3rd grade classes were set up in the gym. Classical music was playing over the speakers. Parents were making the rounds. The 3rd graders were standing still in their wax poses, all dressed up as their historical figure. Props and posters helped tell their stories. So much work and creativity...they were nothing short of fantastic! I was so hugely impressed. And then I felt ashamed. What an amazing project this had been! What a wonderful learning experience and incredible way to show off their hard work. I wished I had been more supportive and less irritable. This is my last child, the last time I will be doing any of this. And though that thought does relieve me to some extent, shouldn't Lilian get as much attention and focus in her projects as I gave to Rebekah, Julianne and Brandon when they were her age? Because when it boils down to it, I'm normally a huge supporter or education in general and public school particularly. And the programs and projects that the elementary teachers devise to teach my children are often times very creative and just downright cool. The wax museum certainly was.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Senior Cotillion

This end of the year dance is solely for seniors. No dates...just everyone showing up to celebrate making it through three years of high school and upcoming graduation. The dress is semi-casual so they get to dress up a bit and dance it out one last time. Julianne came home with a banged up knee and a fat lip, due to some hard core dancing mishaps...but with a huge smile on her face. She'd had a great time flitting from group to group, dancing with all her various friends she's made over the years. What a fun tradition.

Julianne and Elle decided to take some pictures together before leaving for the dance. These two will be rooming together at Utah Valley University so it was fun to get some shots of the two of them together as they finish up their years in high school and look forward with excited anticipation to the adventures to come.








Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tulip Festival

I love flowers. One of my favorite things is to have a vase full of some sort of bouquet on my bed side table so I can see and smell them as I go to sleep and then wake up to again in the morning. Poor Bryan, I make it so difficult for him to ever surprise me on Valentines Day or our anniversary with fresh flowers...I'm all too frequently buying them for myself. At this point he's more or less given up. As far as variety goes, I'm not picky...I'm happy with daisies, carnations, lilies, daffodils, roses, what have you. But if I had to pick a favorite, I think it would be tulips. They are in season for much too short of a time, in my opinion. So during the spring, those are most often what I choose to fill my vases when I am in the mood for some colorful, fresh flowers.

I'd heard of the tulip festival at Thanksgiving Point. I'd always wanted to go. But it's a long drive from my house and for one reason or another, I'd never made it down there during the allotted time that the tulips were in bloom. This year I was determined to go. And though I was happy to wander the gardens on my own, I called my mom and asked if she wanted to join me. When Katie heard we were considering a date to go, she said she had a season pass to Thanksgiving Point and though she had just been there a few days earlier with her children, she offered to come along again and get us in for half price. Sweet! Especially considering the entrance price was more steep than I had expected!

So the three of us wandered those beautiful tulip gardens for hours. I was amazed at how many different varieties of tulips they are...and the individual and delicate details of each. Just so stunningly beautiful. We had such a great girls afternoon! We're thinking maybe we'll go back in a few months to see what the gardens look like with their traditional summer flowers.






Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weightless

Bryan and I tried out flotation therapy last week. Never heard of it? Me neither. But Bryan came across a groupon for the Salt City Float Spa and thought it looked interesting. I'm always up for an adventurous date night...or afternoon in this case. And really, other than the drive up and back, we were on our own during the actual floating. But still a fun experience to share.
Floating takes place in this alien looking pod. It is filled with 10 or so inches of heavily concentrated salt water. Like, Great Salt Lake salty. The water is warmed to 95.9 degrees, or surface skin temperature. You climb in (swimsuit or not, totally up to you...I went with not) and close the pod lid. Because I was slightly worried about claustrophobia issues, I left the lid open a crack. There is a light inside the pod that you can turn off if you like. I left it on because it was just a nice blue color that reflected off the white roof of the pod...and it was kind of soothing.

Because you are floating, but the salt water is skin temperature, once you settle down and the water stops rippling around you, you can't feel it at all. And it suddenly seems like you are weightless, like floating in space. It is the most surreal feeling. You are meant to spend the hour in complete relaxation and meditation. It reminded me a lot of savasana...that final "corpse pose" at the end of yoga practice. I spent my hour in the pod focusing on my breathing, thinking about each area of my body and how to let go of any tension that might be there. I tried to let everything empty out of my mind and get to the point where I was just completely and totally relaxed. In fact, some people fall asleep while floating. Some soothing music starts playing in your room during the last 5 minutes of your float to let you know that your session is almost over...and to wake you up if you've dozed off. I did not fall asleep, but I was still very surprised at how quickly that hour went by.

I don't know if floating is something we will ever do again...but it sure was fun!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Prom for the last time...

Ah, Prom. Julianne's last of her high school years. And my last for awhile as well. At least in terms of formal dress shopping. Strange as this thought is, chances are good I will be wedding dress shopping before I prom dress shop again. Brandon will be 16 in a year, but in his case we'll be learning the ins and outs of tux rentals. Life is a'changing.

Julianne was asked to Prom by her boyfriend Bryson who sent her on a scavenger hunt around town before coming home to find this message on our garage spelled out in post-it notes. When Lilian caught Bryson and friend Alyssa outside with said post-its, they let her help out. Julianne was delighted when she arrived home and laughed hard when Bryson and Alyssa (who had been hiding out down the street) drove past and Alyssa let out a war whoop through the window.

Julianne decided that in order to catch Bryson off guard, she was going to answer him that very night! So she called up friend Jordan (Alyssa's boyfriend) to help her, thinking it only appropriate. She made a big poster that said something like "It would light up my night to go to Prom with you!" and then actually lit his street on fire. Did you know hand sanitizer could burn so prettily? And then when Bryson was outside with his younger siblings checking out the burning YES! Julianne and Jordan (who had been hiding out down the street) drove past and Jordan let out his own war whoop. Because, you know...it seemed fitting.

From the stories Julianne has shared, Prom was an incredible weekend and the two of them had the best time. Just a truly memorable night. When Bryson came to pick up Julianne I had to hide a giggle when I heard his reaction as Julianne came around the corner and he saw her for the first time. They looked stunning together. After letting me take a few pictures here at home and then meeting up with the rest of the group for official pictures together, they headed to dinner at Parkstone at Station Park in Farmington. Julianne said the food was amazing and they laughed a lot. The dance was at the Capitol Building in Salt Lake City. The night was warm, the trees were all in bloom and the view of the city is stellar from the Capitol. As much fun as they had dancing, they also enjoyed people watching. She said Prom, the biggest dance of the year, is kind of the red carpet version of all the dances. Checking out the fancy dresses, watching to see who is with who...and which are officially couples and which are just dates for the evening.

































After the dance their group broke up to do their own thing. Julianne and Bryson headed to his house where sat and talked out on his back patio for awhile. Around midnight they arrived at our house and ended the evening dipping graham crackers in milk, which made me laugh. Except that Julianne said that it was kind of perfect...because she just loved how comfortable she and Bryson were together the whole evening, so relaxing and fun. So, graham crackers and milk in their fancy dress and tux.