Wednesday, May 29, 2013

annual choir pool party

On Memorial Day, our church choir got together to celebrate our school year together. Because most people travel in the summer, we only sing nine months of the year, and Sunday was our last time until school starts again in the fall. So we partied the way Mormons do at a pool party -- lots of laughing and talking and good food, and of course, swimming!

 Ashley begged to be thrown in over and over and over again. The sweet Brimley siblings were so nice to keep smiling and doing it over and over and over again. They were probably sore the next day.

 Ashley had a chicken fight with a boy named Bennett. Ashley is part tomboy, part princess. It's funny to watch her be so competitive and girlie at the same time. If you're curious who won, let's just say, boys rule, girls drool.
 Ethan tried being thrown in a few times, but didn't enjoy it as much as Ashley. After being thrown smack on his belly, he cried and cried, until Robyn Brimley told him to rub suncreen on his sore tummy. It was a sunscreen miracle! Suddenly the pain was gone. Oh, wonderful placebo effect...
Josh was pretty much in love with the diving board. We don't have one on our pool, so he made the most of his time with it. I'm not sure why he's jumping on Brother Bennion here, but I think he was teaching Josh some rad moves. Later that night, Josh gushed about how good Brother Bennion is on the diving board.

It was a fabulous night with food, friends, and fun. Thank you Self family for letting us use your pool!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

crowded beach day

Like everyone else who lives near an ocean (it seemed...), our family headed to the beach last Saturday. Chris dropped us off, then drove around for at least a half hour before he found a parking spot. But it was worth it. Not too hot, not too cold, perfect kind of beach weather.

 Here's Chris modeling his new, manly, not-a-girl swim shirt.
 A giant tractor rolled right past Josh and Ashley. I'm not sure why it was there, but we assumed it was to pack down the sand. They had the beach open for paid parking, and everyone was getting stuck in the sand. It reminded me of snowy roads in Utah. Luckily it was much less cold than snowy roads in Utah.
 Ashley was so excited to go boogie boarding. Until a wave knocked her under. She wouldn't talk about it (Which is what she's doing in the above picture -- not talking about it...), but later said she always thinks she's going to love the beach, then something bad always happens.

But she even though she wouldn't go back in the water, she was totally happy building a sand castle/raging river on the beach.
 Ethan used our old boogie board snow sled out in the ocean. It still works like a boogie board, but it's kind of funny watching him carry a sled around on the beach. He loved hanging out in the waves until he got smashed under a big one. Then he sat on the sand making a mountain. He said when it dried it would become a rock. Not sure where he's getting his science information, but it made him happy anyway.

Josh is such a funny guy. I always see him peering at me in the rear view mirror. He blows me kisses and waves and holds up "I love you" hand signs. Love that little boy.
Chris surprised us all by stopping in one of the podunk little towns to get ice cream.

Driving through podunk little towns is always an adventure. We also saw a small carnival on the edge of a river, and Josh was really disappointed we didn't stop and let him ride the ferris wheel because he's apparently never been on one before.

Then we saw a diner with a sign that said something like, "chicken gibblets, crawdads, Jesus loves you, catfish fingers." I love the Jesus Loves You thrown in for good measure.

Sometimes life in The Swamp just makes me smile. We passed another hand-painted sign that welcomed us to some podunk little town, and underneath that, it said, "Where God is still God, and Sin is still Sin." If someone stuck that sign out in the west, I'm pretty sure someone would be sued. Gotta love the south :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

going to the chapel

The university has a beautiful non-denominational meditation/small events chapel bordering the lake I talked about in this post. We love to look at it, but don't go inside too often.
The other night a friend from church conducted a motet choir in this building as part of her university research. They sang beautiful renaissance music, most of which I couldn't understand. But her grand finale was this Thomas Tallis song, If Ye Love Me. She had our ward choir sing this song a few months ago. This is what it sounded like as it echoed through the small meditation chapel.

I decided to take my kids to the chapel the next day, so they could enjoy the peaceful setting and hear their own voices echoing through the building.
They were inspired to sing and dance.

Here they're singing I Am a Child of God.
They loved the way their voices bounced off the walls and ceiling.

I played Jessica's Theme in the keyboard, and the kids danced around.
Don't listen to the music too closely. I haven't practiced much in the past 20 years.
The kids all decided it's now one of their favorite places to go.
They're easy to please :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

adventures in babysitting

The other day one of out neighbors asked if we could babysit her little vase of flowers. We warned her that we kill any plant that isn't fake. She laughed and said she trusted us. We don't even trust ourselves. We never bothered to landscape with trees or flowers or non-dying shrubs in our last house due to our plant-killing tendencies. We only had grass (which always seemed pretty dead by August anyway), and that was just to keep the mud to a minimum. I don't know what she was thinking, leaving this lovely little thing with us.
This is the before picture. We didn't take an after picture, despite my good intentions, but imagine this lovely pink thing all shriveled up like a grape. Luckily, the white flowers seemed to have survived and she wasn't too completely horrified when she came to pick it up a week later. Just slightly horrified. She probably walked away thinking, "what was I thinking?"

It's a good thing we're better at taking care of kids than plants. So far we haven't killed any of them.

 In other news, Ashley learned to make paper balloons and went on a paper balloon-making spree. She decided she will sell paper balloons and make a fortune. So if any of you need to buy a plethora of paper balloons, she's your girl. Just be warned...they don't hold helium well. Or water. Or air, for that matter. But they're cute anyway. (and you can string them up and use them as party decorations like {this} link.)

If you don't know how to make these, they're pretty easy. Here's the tutorial Ashley used:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

a little thing I like to call "bedtime"

Here's our regular bedtime routine:

Sometime between 7 and 7:30 the kids shower and/or get in their pajamas. They get to choose whether or not they shower, unless they seem particularly dirty or stinky. Then they get a shower whether they want one or not. This process takes a while because we only have one tiny apartment bathroom everyone gets to share, one at a time of course.

But there's no locking the one door to our tiny apartment bathroom when they shower. Because we only have one tiny apartment bathroom, and sometimes (all the time) someone suddenly needs to use it while someone else is in the shower.

Then they (usually Ashley and Josh) fight over the one tiny apartment bathroom as they brush their teeth and try to not spit on each other.I guess I need a picture of that someday, too. But there's usually a lot of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth involved...It's not pretty. That's when mom comes in, all mad, saying the traditional bedtime (and, coincidentally, early-morning) mantra, "We have neighbors all around us, and they can hear you! Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

After prayers are said (sometimes too short, sometimes too long, depending on the day) and kids are tucked in (sometimes in made beds, sometimes in an unmade ball of blankets, depending on the day), I read out loud to them for a half-hour (have I mentioned they all share a room in this tiny college apartment?). We recently finished Among The Hidden series. Haddix is my favorite author of all time when it comes to children's books, so I read them to the kids as often as I can. In fact, when I grow up, I want to be Margaret Peterson Haddix. Is that possible? If not, I wouldn't mind being the ever humorous Janette Ralison, but I usually have to edit the minimal kissing in her books because my elementary aged kids don't seem to appreciate it for some crazy reason.

Once the story has been read, Ashley must have a kiss on each cheek. Ethan needs a fist bump, sometimes ending with a big firework, and other times the sparkle falls flat, depending on Ethan's pre-teen mood and/or tiredness. Josh is usually fast asleep with his thumb in his mouth even though he's seven.

But there are rules to all of this. If I'm gone, Chris isn't allowed to read. Or if he reads, he's not allowed to read any good books, just boring ones. Ashley doesn't want me to miss a moment of the good stories we read together. And Chris's kisses aren't good enough. Ashley can't sleep until I come home and kiss both of her cheeks. She'll whimper and sneak out and sit in the hallway and get in trouble and be put back in bed and sneak back out, just waiting for me to come home again. (Have I mentioned she's a bit ocd?...)

In the past, even if I tucked her in, she had to get out of bed at least once to tell us she can't sleep. But I've solved this problem by making her get out of bed right after I turn off the light. She has to go tell Chris she can't sleep while I stand by her bed and wait. Then she gets back in bed and I tuck her in again. For some reason this has been working recently and she doesn't get out of bed again. She gets it out of her system, I guess?

Then I get to do dishes. And Chris and I watch TV for an hour before bed because he needs to let his brain veg out after studying and reading and writing all day. Usually I read while I watch TV. Chris can't figure out how this works, but it's a talent I have. A gift, really. We often watch the food network, or if I'm lucky The Gator Boys or whatever is on HGTV. Sometimes we watch Everybody Loves Raymond, when it's not filled with inappropriate humor.

After dragging our oldish bodies off the couch, we go to sleep (while our neighbors seem to wake up and decide to cook garlic -- and occasionally stinky fish -- about this same time) and do it all over the next night. I love these funny kids and our semi-charmed kind of life!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

a(n) historical field trip with architectural jewels

Ashley's class checked out a few historical sites around town.
First stop was an old hotel that used to also be someone's home.
The kids admired some beautiful architecture and saw what life was like a hundred years ago.
This used to be a library. There are interior windows and doors on every wall to let the breeze in during the summer because (collective 3rd grade gasp of horror) air conditioning hadn't been invented yet!
These are shirt collars (which men wore separately from their shirts in the olden days), along with a bow tie and a sleeve elastic, were all laid out on a couch for the boys to wear.
Beaded necklaces, fans, and fancy purses waited for the girls.
The docent had the boys and girls dress up and pose for pictures on a grand staircase.
As you can see, the docent took her job seriously and dressed the part, fancy hat and all.

The kids were also surprised that people didn't have spell checker back in the days of yore.
Literally, they all gasped when the docent told them how this typewriter works.
Also, how cool is it that the classic novel The Yearling was written in our area!
Now...I guess I should actually read it.

 We ate a picnic lunch while this fountain's face looked on.
Then we took a walking tour of some of the historical homes in the neighborhood and had a treasure hunt for some of the architectural jewels. 
 Here's my little tour group. This boy tried to hold Ashley's hand the entire time. It was a different boy than the one that tried to hold her hand last time.

Oh, and this is the house from the tour she wants to live in:
Tres Colore'