Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's a miracle!

My bumper has been restored to it's former glory!

All my past dings...scratches...bumps...and obvious driving mistakes have been wiped clean.

Aaaaahhhhh just like repentance. Now no one has to dwell on all my past driving misdeeds :) ...including myself.

And...most importantly when we're parked next to our in-laws minivans ours won't be the one that stands out simply for the fact that it's the most dinged up!

This week we've been enjoying the miracle of life!!

Ashley got a butterfly enclosure for Christmas along with live caterpillars that will turn into painted lady butterflies. After waiting weeks to come in the mail Ashley was literally jumping up and down when we finally got them.

So they have been crawling around in their "houses" eating, pooping and sleeping for all to see.

(Luckily the instructions said not to open the top until they turn into a chrysalis so they aren't exposed to bacteria. Ashley would've have loved them to death or lost them for sure if not.)

After a week of remarkable growing they have turned into chrysalises, even the ones we thought were dead on the bottom of the cup.

And... we have another miracle of nature!!! Somehow some new residents have traveled across the world and taken up residence in our neighborhood.

I saw the signs up when I woke up this morning so it must be true! Ashley will be thrilled.

Our next miracle was Jacob doing Taylor's chores, quickly and with a good mood.

What a good boy!

Maybe it has something to do with being mindful all week of Jacob's priesthood preview coming up.

Can he be already old enough to be getting the priesthood this year??!!!

He's growing up fast!!

The reason that Jacob was doing Taylor's chores was because he was on a snow campout with his scout troop.

Some people think it's a miracle that Taylor didn't die of hypothermia his snow cave that he made and slept in. (One scout wouldn't sleep in one because he swore he was going to die) Actually Taylor said it was quite warm.

Howevery I think it's a miracle that Taylor's leaders brought him back alive after him and his buddy woke all the boys up in the middle of the night thinking it was close to dawn.

While whooping and hollering and making snowmen in the dark their leader had to stomp out and inform them it was 2:30 in the morning and to go back to bed.

I guess none of the boys brought a watch. (reminds me of a cub scout skit:)

Our last miracle was Taylor's "foil" dinner. It was right before his campout and I didn't have enough foil to make him his dinner.

So...I pulled out a couple of Marie Calendar's pie tins and got my scrapbooking stuff out to poke holes in them. I put the food inside and then put a top on like a flying saucer and then closed them with twist ties.

The leader's looked a little skeptical at my creation but Taylor said it worked great and he wanted me to do it again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I have a couple of pictures that I forgot to post before. Andrea was nice enough to send me some of Mclain's pictures he took on the calico campout Taylor went on while we were in LA with Jeff's speaking.

The leaders took the boys out to do shooting but since Taylor has already done shooting before, and he doesn't like shooting he had more fun...

climbing up the rocks and exploring caves. I was worried when he said they were exploring caves...but I guess they were just the beginning parts of caves and didn't go very far in. (Probably closed up mine shafts)

Well I was able to see the source of the dirt all over him when he came home from his campout. At least he had fun :)

This last week ended up being a busy one. On Monday Taylor decided to accept an invitation from a friend to join her ballroom dance class an hour before Ashley's weekly class.

He audited the class first to see if he would like to join and he ended up liking it more than he thought he would. The teacher seemed like a good one and now Ashley is thrilled that her older brother will be "taking dance" just like her and be in the recital too. I think it will be good for him to learn something new before he's too busy with band next year. (I'll just have to prepare ahead of time for the 2 hours that I'll have to be at the studio right before dinner time and family home evening.)

Tuesday was our normal crazy Tuesday with Jeff working until 11:30 at night. He went on an appointment with one of his new agents after mutual to help them out. Whoooaaah I forgot what his younger days schedule used to be like. I guess helping out the new agents he will have that schedule again sometimes.

Wednesday Jacob stayed home sick from school. It was my day to help his teacher grade papers so I went to the class and picked them up and brought them home to sit by Jacob and correct them. He was very interested in how he did. It ended up taking 2 1/2 hours but what a better way to do it while sitting next to my sicky son on the couch with the TV on.

That night was our Relief Society mother daughter night. We had card making, a fitness demonstration, ice cream bar and seed planting. We didn't know how many people we would get but we ended up with about 30 mothers and almost just as many daughters! It was a pleasant suprise and a fun night.

Thursday was was my last day to shop for a formal for me for Jeff's New York life kickoff party so I ran to the mall. I scored at JC Penny's with a dress that I was happy with and black high heels to match from Payless (on clearance for $8.00 no less).

It was also all the class celebrations at school since they would be off on Friday and Monday. I committed to bring fruit-ka-bobs so I had just enough time to buy red and green grapes at Albertson's on my way to the school for the party. ($8.00 for two smallest bags of grapes I could find! That's why I don't really shop at Albertsons)

Here is Ashley's valentine's party.

Nothing is better than celebrating a holiday with friends.

I tried having the kids make a craft too but...with all the valentines there wasn't time so they went in the bag with everything else.

Friday was a day off and we ended up having Chloe and Natalie over for the day. It was actually fun to have two imaginative girls around to pull my kids out of their TV, video game stupor. All morning they played "robo dog" Here is the prototype drawing compliments of Natalie and Jacob.

Here are the "robo dogs" one complete with costume.

For lunch I took them to go see Princess and the Frog at the $2.00 theater. We ate hot dogs and popcorn and large icees (sorry Sharla). The movie was actually was more enjoyable than we thought it would be. The kids loved it.

That afternoon the kids played while I got ready for Jeff's kickoff party. The girls were picked up with 10 minutes to spare before it was time to go.

It's always nice to see friends that we only get to see once a year.

This year we had the Parkers, Stubbs and the Gunnells with us to enjoy the yummy dinner hosted at Castaways.

Along with his other awards Jeff was part of the "top 5" club. (He was #3 in the general office last year).

I remember many of the early years going to these things watching the same agents get the awards over and over again. Then Jeff started being one of the agents that got the awards over and over. His years of hard work and perseverance finally paid off. I'm so proud of you honey!

The whole gang.

The New York life boys. Vern Parker already his first award at the dinner. It'll be exciting to see these guys succeed!

On Saturday we redeamed our Castle Park wristbands that I bought everyone for Christmas. It was beautiful weather, so much better than going in the steamy summer.

The kids have been waiting and waiting since Christmas and today was finally the day we had a large enough block of time to go over there. Walking in I was very happy with the $20.00 we paid to get our family in rather that paying the $22.00 a person which is the normal price.

It wasn't long before we realized that Ashley was tall enough to go on the log ride!!!!

We went on it immediately!!! Including Jacob who had never had the courage to go on it before. (He couldn't be shown up by Ashley)

When me and her went down the first drop and I told her that it was just a preview to the big drop she got a little nervous but in the end she loved it!!

It was a fun day with our kids.

I even got to go on scary rides with Taylor. (Actually after stratosphere this was nothing.)

You couldn't beat the lines there, we were able to get on everything really quick.

The only problem was that there was an earthquake and all the rides were shut down while and inspector checked them all. We thought it would be a good time for a snack.

I don't know if funnel cake and ice cream is a good idea right before all these rides...

At the end of the day Jacob's favorite ride was the UFO ride, Ashley's favorite ride was the log ride and Taylor's was the Fire Ball.

That night Jeff and I had to get ready for the Newlywed game night that we were invited to. Since we were at Castle Park all afternoon I had to come up with something quick. I was able to pull out the chocolate I had bought at Christmas and never had time to use. So I dipped everything I could find that we had at home, pretzels...strawberries and even pink marshmellows.

Here is our chocolate offering...

Jeff and I were very happy to win the game beating out the runner up by just one point. This is our second victory :0) Must be doing something right.

The next morning we were all up at 6:00 to get ready for the drive up to Palmdale for Ian's farwell and their 9:00 church. He is going to Mexico (Monterey I think). We are very excited for him. Here was just some of the people at the crazy open house for him.

Here's the other kids hiding away upstairs. Smart. It was much quieter :)

Ian opening our new tradition of giving a camera to the leaving missionary (the Ballantynes did it for Jeff and he never forgot it).

Bye Ian, we'll miss you. We'll be praying for you.

Monday was a holiday as well. We let everyone sleep in and then went to the movies with Steve and Tahna to see Percy Jackson. Jacob has been really into the series so it was fun to take him. Jeff was hoping to meet us there but he got caught up at the office and missed it...so we went to lunch with him instead.

That night we went to Tim and Andrea's for dinner. She cooked us her tortilla soup and gave me the recipe in exchange for me helping to re-paint some wall decorations for her. It was a very fun night and a perfect ending to our holiday weekend. We get so caught up in our busy schedule's sometimes we forget to do social things! It was fun to hang out with their family. Thanks Andrea!

So now we're on to a new week starting on Tuesday with Ashley's new favorite thing...achievement day. :) She's loving it and Marcella and Erin are awesome achievement day leaders. We feel very blessed to be part of a good ward with good friends and good people :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Only 33 and 1/4 years to go...

Recently Jeff and I were privileged to be invited to a 50th Wedding anniversary celebration for Nancy Takano and her husband. (Jeff took over her book of business when she retired.) They hosted it at Mario's Place. We had a yummy dinner surrounded by gold origami swans followed by a program of family and friends talking about the happy couple.

We left with a large jar of Takano's special homemade teriyaki sauce and good dose of perspective.

Throughout dinner we talked to the couples next to us. On one side we had a couple who had been married for 50 years and on the other a couple married for 56 years. We heard about their grandkids, and great grandkids, jobs and houses, retirement and their life together. In the end here were two people sitting together after 50 years and more happily married. In a world where estrangement and divorce seem to run rampant it was nice to be in a room with so many examples of successful marriages (mind you none of them were members of the church.) And we only have 33 1/4 years to go to be where they are!

We also heard a lot of stories about leasurely days spent golfing and and hanging out at the country club, or Nancy's knit shop talking aaaalllll day. The lady next to me told me about her day in pj's reading a book while her husband watched golf on TV. She didn't get dressed until it was time for dinner. I didn't even try and explain the complexities of my day but I think we're at least 33 years before I'm there either. (Though I still don't imagine myself in pajamas all day unless I was sick.)

So at least for 30+ years I'm expecting more of our crazy life...

Here is Ashley with friends who showed her new ideas on "how to play with the water in the pond". At least that's what Ashley told me. By the end of the day there were multiple "boats" floating in the pond along with some wet feet and hands. But, the girls were happy so it was OK.

The boys were happy to be inside and leave the playing in the pond to the girls.

Friday was one of those days where there is so much going on all the writing spills out of the box on the calendar. Just that evening, for example, I had to get Taylor a ride to his honor band rehearsal, Jeff was working late, I had to get Jacob to the school for the 6th grade science camp spaghetti dinner and talent show and then after I brought the kids back home and went to Cindy's scrapbook night to stamp handouts and programs for Sunday's Visiting Teaching conference.

Jacob helped at the dinner by presenting one of the baskets that was won in the raffle (it was almost as big as him:) and he played music box dancer for the talent show.

The school doesn't have a piano so long story short I had to borrow a full sized keyboard so he could play his song. (Thanks Mary Ann). So of course that added to my day :)

It actually sounded better because he could put it on a setting that sustained the sound when a piano couldn't since he can't reach the pedals. I think he enjoyed playing for his teacher and his friends even though he was nervous. He got a lot of nice feedback. Way to go Jacob.

Ashley liked hanging out with her friendss.

For the past two weekends Taylor has been practicing with honor band so on Saturday night we were actually able to see hear them play all the songs that they had been practicing so hard at.

We were very proud to open our program and see Taylor designated as first chair for the clarinet section. Way to go Taylor! :)

In the middle of the performance all the students even got metals. They did a wonderful job playing, we were very impressed.

The teachers directing the band said that the music that they were playing was considered advanced high school music. It showed too they even got a standing ovation at the end of the performance. (It probably helped that they played the theme songs from every branch of the military and had military personel stand up). It was so nice to see all their hard work pay off.

So now Taylor is officially a self proclaimed band geek for next year. He's decided to be in King's marching band next year.

I hear they are the number one marching band in the nation and they'll get to go to the Rose parade and everything. That's great but it comes with a price (which is what I'm dreading) you have no life outside of band. We looked at the schedule for this summer and Taylor will officially have 2 weeks off without band commitments. Yikes!

Even more reason we made this be a decision that he made, not us, because he'll have to keep himself motivated to do everything he needs to do next year. We're confident that he'll do great.

So I didn't realize that the kids were off of school this Friday and on Monday. Yesterday I figured out I had one less day to plan Valentines day parties for the school. I have to say that these were my most helpful purchase this year...heart shaped post it notes.

They were 5 dollars but so far I've used them for a bullitan board, my lesson on Sunday, the kids valentine's...

the flyers for Ashley's class party and I'll use them for card making tomorrow. Nice.

Note to self.

Homemade valentines are at least 2 to 3 times more expensive than storebought ones.

No matter how cute the homemade valentine is if it doesn't have candy on it the kids will reject it.

Buying candy for valentines after the fact will double the cost again.

Personally pass out the flyers for class parties because teachers seem to forget about them or don't care, haven't figured out which yet. The parents of Ashley's class will now have one day's notice for the party, I guess I'm going to have to bring everything for it now.