Wednesday, March 27, 2013


The last 2 weeks we've had a few occasions to be UP. 

The weekend before our Stake Women's conference (that we've been planning for months) we were able to have some uplifting training from speakers who flew down from Salt Lake in addition to Stake Conference. 

The next weekend was the culmination of all of our preparation and planning. We spent two days decorating and setting up, our birthday party themed celebration for Women's conference. 

One of the councilors commented that our decorations reminded her of the movie UP. 

I agreed!

After the balloons we blew up the day before all losing their air and the helium balloons that we were trying to close with plastic clips losing all their air...getting the gym to look this way was a big effort. But in preparation of being UPlifted it was just fine. 

We had a hair cutting and styling class that was standing room only...

Money help and budgeting

This was "Powertools are our friends" Participants got to have pink stickers that said this to wear and they got to...

practice using a variety of tools that you might use around the house. 
(I have to admit it was weird watching ladies in dresses sawing wood in a church classroom ;)

One on one computer help

A boy in the stake got to have help with his Eagle project and much more. 

I was glad that once we got things up and running I was actually able to enjoy most of the conference until it was time for cleaning up. Then all the hard work was put in the trash so we could get home. It's a relief that it all turned out successful and it's done for this year. 

That night We had some family time at John's Incredible Pizza. We have been in a long time but a coupon in the mail and some desire to do something fun with the kids brought us out. 

(They've been sitting around a lot while Jeff and I have been doing what we need to do)

Jeff's new favorite game is the Wheel of Fortune game...

We ended up earning tons of fact in the course of the night they had to come and either fix or replace the tickets coming out of the machine 3 times!

Of course each of the kids got to pick a ride to go on. I let Jeff go on this one with Jacob...I didn't want him to miss out (hee hee) I was just fine watching. 

This last week we bought a third car so Taylor will have something to drive when he gets his license next month. 

Jeff and I wanted a small, older Toyota Takoma. We found out after a month of looking that they are not easy to find! We also found out that to get one for the price we were hoping for we would be looking at a dinged up, junky looking work truck complete with metal bars welded on (for all your dry-walling needs) not what we were looking for. 

When Jeff saw this truck online out in Fullerton it was the truck we were looking for with as close to the price we wanted as we were going to get. So we thought we'd go out and look at it.  Jeff had mentioned it at dinner and showed Taylor a picture but he had no idea we would actually buy it. 

It was very fun when he walked in the door calling "Mom?" when he saw the car in the driveway. When he asked if that was "the" car and found out it was ours he was very excited. 

Good timing because Youth Conference was that weekend and he was grumbling a little about going (he knew he would not be able to relax or sleep in all weekend) and he said "I won't complain  about going to Youth Conference!"

While the boys were away at Youth Conference Ashley got to spend time with friends and we spent most of Saturday at home with nothing much planned (that hasn't happened in a while) so I decided to do some crafting. I had seen a couple of pins on pinterest that I had tagged over a year ago and never did anything with. This was the day to try them out!

So one of the ideas was to take silky material and cut it out and burn it over a flame to seal the edges. I made all kinds of hairbow flowers out of scraps of material. Pretty fun.

So now that I have all these hair-bows I was thinking they might sell for Easter. Ashley grabbed a few for her collection and I am going to a couple of preschools this week to see if anyone wants to buy some. (I know if Ashley is wanting them that's a good sign ;)

That night Jeff and I got to have a date night with the Smiths. 

We won tickets to a Murder Mystery Dinner in a raffle over a year ago. When I mentioned it to Penny she said how much they had enjoyed going in the past. So we made it a date and made it happen! The cast was also our servers and the acting was happening as we were eating. It was nice that you could hear and see everything that was going on and they were very colorful and fun. 

I was happy that I was one of the ones that guessed the murder correctly but any number of them could've been the murderer. 

It was fun meeting the cast at the end. We found out that their were two married couples in the group even though they watch someone else play romantic partners with their spouse every night. 

The man that Jeff has his arm on actually met him over 20 years ago when Jeff played Rumpelstiltskin in a play at RCC. He was very happy to see Jeff and see that he is doing well. 

The boys got home from Youth Conference late, late Saturday night. 

I heard they had a great time and their favorite was the dance. They said there was a good DJ and lots of good songs to dance to. We got this phone picture forwarded to us from a friend. 

The only thing they complained about was being tired! They had 2 very sleep deprived days following a morning of getting up at 5:30 for seminary.  

Sunday morning you could see the effects of it. After an hour of trying to get the boys out of bed for 9:00 church I realized it wasn't going to happen. Jeff came back at 10:15 to try  and then realized they probably just need to sleep. 

Jacob literally slept until 3:00 in the afternoon! 
Taylor woke up at 11:00 and ate breakfast, then went back to bed until almost 4:00!

The good thing was they were awake for the testimony meeting that night where they did another sacrament meeting to help bring in the spirit. (Taylor thought it was because so many people missed church that morning) The youth kept their testimonies short and sweet so they didn't have another late night out. Taylor even got up there, I was glad I was there to see it! After all that Sunday sleep I haven't had any problems with them getting up for seminary the last few days. 

Over the weekend Ashley and I also worked on her 3D state map of Washington State. My favorite are her little volcanoes. 

The price of the project was one tablecloth. She was working on top of a tablecloth that now has blue puffy paint all over it. 

Yesterday I was happy to meet Ashley at her school and watch her get a medal for her performance in math last year on her CSTs. The students that earned medals are encouraged to wear them when they take their CSTs this year. 

Way to go!

With everything going on I haven't pulled out many Easter decorations. Maybe I'll get them out today. 

Here is the chocolate bunny that was in Jeff's car too long...Ashley said "That's OK I don't like those bunnies anyway, they don't taste good"

She then proceeded to read the ingredients, the bulk of which are vegetable oils...cocoa isn't until 4th on the list. She said "It's not even real chocolate!"  

Well I can see your point...but it sure melts like chocolate. 

Hope everyone has a HAPPY EASTER!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Riley's Farm field trip

Earlier this month I was able to go with Ashley's class to her field trip to Riley's farm. We haven't been here in a couple of years and I realized how much I missed it. Especially during the apple picking and pumpkin buying season. You can imagine yourself stepping back in time when you visit and it reminds me of when we went back to Virginia to visit my parents and roamed through historical sights. 

At the beginning of the day you could put in an order for a pie at the window and it would be ready by the time we were leaving. I have never done it before but I decided to order one...I was glad I did because the rest of the time we could smell pies baking and it would be hard not to have one to bring home after smelling it all day :)

From the time the students got off the bus there were period costumed characters lining them up and giving orders. Every class was put into a group and led by one of their own carrying a flag. 

I noticed posters up when we got there saying that Riley's farm had written and produced a movie recently shown on PBS recently named "Courage". You could buy the DVD's when you were there. This "house" shown on the front cover is actually their bathrooms (hee hee)

I was impressed with the costumes, dusty, somewhat homemade looking but detailed. 

The students all had to line up and were given orders.

This soldier's threats of corporal punishment in his English accent seemed to only elicit giggles from the crowd :)

Before the rotations started the mood sobered up when there was a mock shooting of a colonist by the redcoats. The students were just starting to get a sense of what life would've been like around the time of the revolutionary war. 

This man taught everyone about all the accessories a soldier would need. 

Of course a gun, bayonet, gun powder and things to eat and drink with. The one that surprised me was the paraphernalia and mold to make his own musket-balls out of lead. I guess they had to make their own ammunition too. 

In here they learned about the stamp tax and all the things that had to have the special stamp...hymn books, legal documents and such...

The class found it funny when two of the volunteers had to pretend that they were getting married and needed a stamp for their marriage license.

In this station they learned how much work a typical household had to do just to eat and also the unfairness of laws that said soldiers had to be fed and housed in not only times of war but times of peace. Poorer households could barely feed themselves let alone all the soldiers that would want to be fed. 

This is a wheat grinder, wheat had to be ground at least 10 times to make flour!

To churn your milk into butter?

2 hours.

They also wrote with a quill and ink and realized how hard that was. 

All in all I think it would take a long time to do what we do in minutes now. 

One of the teachers commented that at first she was thinking "how nice to live in a simpler time" then to see the realities you realize it wouldn't have been so great. 

In here they learned the unfairness of the courts at the time. Basically guilty until proven innocent. The person presiding was also judge and prosecutor and received a percentage from the fines he charged people with. If they couldn't pay the fines, he could put them in jail and sell their property. You could imagine how hard it would be to get yourself out of trouble without being rich enough to bribe people in that sort of court situation. 

Here they learned about carding wool and spinning it. 
(Another long and tedious process I'm glad I don't have to worry about)

Learning to weave.

Here they are playing games...none electronic games with sticks and hoops and such. 

Throughout the day it was getting colder and colder and was raining off and on. The students didn't seem to mind but us parents were just observing and we got chilly. 

After lunch of soldiers rations (and the ones they brought as well) they lined up for the final battle. They had been learning about the reasons the colonists were willing to fight for their freedom and now this was their chance to reenact a battle. 

The calls to action were made and with their rifles (big sticks) the students all loaded their gunpowder, waited to see the whites of their enemies eyes and fired. 

Then they were told if they had died or not. If they had died they had to lay on the ground. 

Since it was raining the ground was muddy. 

One of the moms noted that this would make a nice Tide laundry detergent commercial.

Ashley was happy that she wasn't one of the ones that died. 

After the battle there was some final words and a story of a young man who was tragically shot in battle. As he was dying his plea was "Do not let freedom die with me"

I am hoping that the students got a sense that freedom isn't free.

It was a great field trip and even greater to get back in a warm car and get out of the rain. 

The next day I went to Ashley's school and I did an art lesson.

It brought back remembrances of my Art History days. (I was an Art History minor in college)

What fascinates me about art is that it is history at the same time. You can tell about what is going on in society, points of view at the time and how the artist manipulates subject matter to show a version of the world that they want you to see. 

Here's some mini art history observations...

In earlier colonial history the view of family roles was more rigid. This family looks very stoic with the father aloof and above his family members. He stands at the head. Children are attended to by the women and look very subdued as well. 

A little later the view of family changes. Women are looked to more as partners, children are seen no longer as miniature adults but children, to be loved and played with. Men are more attentive to them and this example shows a much more relaxed family. 

The art reflects the prevailing views of the times. 

One last one...

This person who was commissioned to paint George Washington had the task to present him in a favorable light, but how. Paint him as a general in charge of an army, or as the president of a small, struggling nation?  

He painted him in the grand style typical of royalty with solid columns and sweeping drapery tying him (as other royalty does) to ancient societies in Greece and Rome. In the table and chair are symbols of our nation and the books under the table bear titles alluding to revolution and our new government. It was interesting to learn the artist only had one sitting with George Washington and worked hard to replicate his face but his body was modeled by someone else. 

The task Ashley's class had was to draw a picture of themselves as if they were in this colonial time period. Everyone ended up making a good effort, even if a couple of them started out drawing themselves as a Mexican with a sombrero on his head and Elvis.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Father/Daughter Hoe-Down

It seems my blog postings have been following more of the every other week pattern, rather than the every week pattern. 

In the last couple of weeks I've inherited a couple of big notebooks to add some more on my plate. I've agreed to co-chair being 6th grade science camp fundraising coordinator for next year. For the next year a friend and I will be overseeing all kinds of fundraisers to raise thousands of dollars for next year's science camp. This is in addition to being room mom this year, volunteering with 100 mile club and book fair, possibly still doing red ribbon week this next year in addition to all of my church assignments. We've already started taking over doing the Friday snack sales, we have 3 events to sell things at this year and that's before Ashley is even in 6th grade! Most days I just try and take one thing at a time and one assignment at a time. 

So for an update on the kids. Taylor is doing pretty good in school this year. He got on the honor roll this semester and we are so proud of him! He is taking his SAT's this Saturday so we're all a little nervous for him and hope he'll do well. He has been enjoying going to his rock climbing gym still and has started taking a Lead class to learn some more advanced rock climbing techniques. He's looking forward to taking his driving test next month. I'm looking forward to him getting his license as well, I'll be ready to send him on errands ;)

Jacob is figuring out high school and how to stay on top of his work load, he's realizing it's not very easy. As for his personal life, it's pretty much a mystery to me. He's pretty closed lipped but I'll hear a few things here and there. He'll talk to Taylor and Ashley a bit more and he seems to come alive when he's with his friends. I get the quiet, grumpy version unless he needs something or is hungry.  He is working on scouts and is a few merit badges and a project away from Eagle! One thing Jacob is very good at is the piano. He is awesome! He will sit at the piano and play for the pure enjoyment (or to put off doing homework). He'll print out a song from the internet and go to town with it. The newest one he learned was  "Just the way you are". I'm glad he's keeping with the piano, it's nice to hear him play beautiful music.

Ashley is more of our social butterfly and loves to have friends over on Saturdays when it's pretty boring around here with Jeff and I getting errands and stuff done. She tells us she wishes she had a sister, since we don't have one we borrow one for a day :)  This day Soli came over after her soccer game and I took the girls and the dog to Sycamore Canyon. They both loved it. Ashley's new favorite thing is her Kindle Fire. It's like her own mini-Ipad that she doesn't have share, ha ha. She also likes going on the trampoline and will try and get the boys to go out with her even if its cold. Ashley is doing pretty well in school and is doing really well in math. 

A couple of weeks ago Jeff and Ashley went to the Father-Daughter Hoe-Down at the church. They looked great in their outfits and matching bandannas. 

Jeff even brought Ashley out to dinner before they went which made her happy. 

Once they got there not only did she get to spend some quality time with her dad...

She got to hang out with her church friends...

and be a little silly.

They did games, and dances ...

and had dessert together. 

She had a fun night!

While they were gone I did some mother/son hang out time at the mall with the boys. We lured Jacob there with promises of pretzels and Taylor got to shop for himself to pick up a new hat and shirt. 

This last Saturday a lot of the day was spent with Jeff and figuring out his car situation. Jeff is ready to sell his Lexus and buy a new one. So I dropped him off early to get his car detailed and then after grocery shopping it was off to the car dealership to go with him to test drive new Lexus's.  He tested 3 cars to make sure he knew what he wanted. That's 3 times of hanging out with the car salesman chit-chatting while Jeff took off and put on his pedal extensions. 

He was considering the hybrid that gets 40 miles to the gallon and takes regular unleaded fuel (rather than the expensive stuff). I liked it, it was a smooth ride and I could imagine Ashley would never complain in the back seat about motion sickness. You can't even feel the gears shift because there isn't any, you also don't feel the punch when you step on the gas. I would be fine with that and I loved the money that you would save on gas. 

Then he drove the GS which is what he really wanted. It's more sporty and you definitely feel the punch when you step on the gas. As my head is being pushed back on the headrest as he's trying it out I thought to myself "there is no way he's going to buy a hybrid, this is more his personality" I also know with a car like this Ashley will be doing some complaining from the back seat, ha ha.  

After hours of dealership, and calling around and trying to get the best price for his old car and researching and talking about it all day...nothing happened. It's midweek and he hasn't had the time to post his car on-line yet to sell it, and he hasn't given the go ahead for the new car. I'm staying out of it. I guess he'll figure it out when he's ready. 

That night we were meeting up at King to watch the color-guard competition that my niece Liesl was part of. We were trying to get there in time to see King perform too but since Jeff and I were racing back from our "pick your Amazing Race teams" dinner we missed it by 2 or 3 minutes. They close the doors between performances and even had the windows taped up and we got there as King was performing and we couldn't go in. Taylor was hoping to cheer on his friend Kelsey but he at least was able to wave to her after she was done. 

Liesl and her team did great! They actually won 2nd place in her division and the next day when she went to church with us she was able to meet Kelsey and become friends with her. She said they talked about color guard all during Young Women's. 

After she was done with her competition that night we went with them to Taco Bell and then came back to the house to hang out and relax. (Washing her dirty feet after all her dancing) I watched a movie with the kids while Dale and Liesl went back for their awards. It ended up being a late night for everyone but we all woke up for 9:00 church in the morning.

After church I found these two fighting over the couch to take nap. Neither one of them won and they both ended up falling asleep on the couch. Liesl is way under the blanket and Taylor is falling off but they both got a nap in.

These cousins found a game to keep them busy. 

We actually had a nice visit with them. It was nice to catch up with Dale and enjoy the girls. Normally with the big family events its hard to have much one-on-one time to hang out with family members. 

As soon as they left to go home it was time for Jeff and I to start cooking to get ready to have the missionaries over. We enjoying talking to the one elder from Mongolia who is getting ready to go home soon. We asked him about his family, his future plans and about life in Mongolia. It was fascinating. He lives in the city but he has family that lives in the country in the traditional round tents. He says they have electricity provided by windmills and live a better life in the country than most people live in the city because they are self sustaining and have more to eat. Interesting.