Monday, October 5, 2015

Dad is Great... Gives Us the Chocolate Cake

I know this isn't the case in all families, but in our house, dad is way more fun than mom.  Period.  No contest.
Also, as Cannon recently pointed out, even though Abe is older than me, I look older.  
Thank you so much, Cannon.
Abe's schedule allows him to take Bethany to her orchestra rehearsal in American Fork on Wednesday afternoons.  The boys went along last week for an outing with dad, which outing involved donuts.  
And playtime at a really cool park.
George was happy to successfully complete the monkey bars!
Taught by his older brother.
The girls enjoyed time with dad at a daddy/daughter young women's activity.
Now I must share a wonderful story about Bethany.  Last week she had seating auditions for her Lyceum Philharmonic.  As I mentioned before, we were quite surprised when she made it into this orchestra.  They have amazing performing opportunities and they are spectacular.  We just didn't think that was a possibility for another year or so.  
She got the music for this year's repertoire and YIKES!  It is hard, hard, difficult music.  There were about twenty excerpts to prepare for seating auditions-- four of which would be chosen, but she wouldn't know which four until she was there at the audition. 
So she started practicing.  And I mean  A LOT!  For three weeks it was three plus hours a day.  Oh, she worked so hard!  She was exhausted and walked around with her eyes glassed over.  And I worked hard with her, helping her with screaming high notes she'd never played before.  She is a first violin and we spent so much time plinking it out on the piano finding the notes.  
We talked about the very distinct possibility of her working this hard and still getting last chair.  She tried to make peace with that outcome.  She slept restlessly, and yet, she still kept working.  I was so, so proud of her.
The day of the audition arrived, she said two excerpts went pretty well, one was okay, and one was the only one she really hoped wouldn't be chosen.  But of course, it was.
The next morning the results were in and joy of joys-- she was 13th out of 18 first violins!!!!!
This picture was taken the evening after the audition, but before we knew the results the next day.  
Actually, it's pretty awesome where we were for this picture.  This was waiting outside the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University to go to the Idina Menzel concert!!
Needless to say, we had incredible seats.  I hesitate to share this picture, because the tickets were courtesy of Andrea and we really didn't do anything to earn or deserve such a marvelous evening, but wow!  It was fun.  Idina Menzel was fantastic.  It doesn't seem humanly possible to be able to sing like she does.
Okay, back to Abe.  Actually, Abe was at the concert with us.  But back to Abe being sweet with little ones.
He helped George put on these colorful toe socks just because George wanted them.  It's pretty challenging to put them on yourself, much less on someone else.  It was an act of love.
Oh, how wonderful!  Peter is just getting better and better.  And over the last couple of days he has started taking a couple of steps.  
I love his teeth!
Elinor played beautifully at her piano recital this evening.  She is preparing for a concerto and duet competition this Friday.  Here are videos of two of the three pieces she will be playing.  The first is a concerto with her teacher, Shari Aston.
This next one is "Ballad" with Corrine Schramm.  Corrine is a couple of years older than Elinor and a good friend of Bethany's.  I taught Corrine piano for a few years before I had to tell her, "Sorry, you're too good-- it's time for you to move on, my dear!"
You can't see Elinor very well, but she is the bun behind Corrine.
Abe was rather surprised to hear Elinor play tonight.  I suppose he didn't realize she had progressed as much as she has.  Sometimes-- much of the time-- it is hard for me to remember that she is only twelve.  She looks so much older.  She is a sweetheart and we are so pleased with her hard work.  
Faith and Cannon were celebrating finding a golden leaf in the back yard.  Is there anything more glorious than fall?  Or siblings being nice to each other?
They were raking leaves and bagging them in the hopes that their really nice dad would pay them for their work.  I never did find out the outcome of their endeavor.  It's best that I not know all the deals they make with dad.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Jane Austen Book Club

The part of this school year I am the most looking forward to is our Mother/Daughter Jane Austen Book Club.  This is something I have hoped to do with my girls since they were very young, and this is the year!
We had our first club meeting a couple of weeks ago.  We discussed Sense and Sensibility and it was all I hoped it would be and then some.
These pictures are courtesy of Camille Schramm who was also our hostess for the evening.  Brenda and her daughter helped with refreshments and decorations as well.  It was just lovely.
I was particularly impressed with the Jane Austen (or at least regency era bust) homemade chocolates.  Chocolate and Jane Austen-- a match made in heaven.
I led the discussion, but I was thrilled with the participation and comments from the young women.  They were thoughtful and insightful.  They are wonderful.  Even the youngest girls, Faith and Carly, had great input.  I told Faith if she would sit and listen to the whole book as we read it aloud, she could join in as well.  She did it!  The girls were so excited when the character of Marianne Dashwood was referred to in a Penderwicks books we recently read.  Faith and Elinor especially loved that they were in on the "joke" before the characters in the book were.
We had a great turn out and this wasn't even everyone who will be joining us other times.  One of the charter schools that several of the girls go to had a dance that evening.   Next month is Pride and Prejudice with vintage dancing! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

French Fries and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Clark has a drivers license.  He has a job making pizzas.  He has gone on dates with girls (very cute girls, I might add).  He does hard school subjects like physics, pre-calculus, and Speech and Debate.  Life is good when you're sixteen and get a taste of independence.  But I'm happy to say that late on a Saturday night, he and The Geek Squad still gather in the basement and play D&D.  These are great guys, and they've grown up quite a bit in the last four or five years.
A couple of these guys aren't in the first picture, although they are still regular players.  They're so young!  Puberty has been good to them.
OH MY GOSH, MOM!  You are so embarrassing!
So sorry.  I'll move on to a child I can't embarrass.. yet.
I love this picture too, too much.  First of all, Peter is smiling!  He is happy!  Peter has had a pretty good week thus far.  He went to a check-up Dr. appointment yesterday afternoon, where, for the first time when the Dr. asked if I had any concerns about my baby-- I actually said YES!  I have concerns!
I am still concerned about his digestive system.  Since taking him off all diary milk and dairy products, he has improved immensely.  However, his little system still doesn't seem quite right to me.  The Dr. gave some advice to try to calm an inflammed intestinal lining.
The French Fry Diet.
For a few days he is to eat a starchy, high-fat diet.
I know!  Don't you wish this was proscribed for you?
My reaction exactly!
He can eat more than just fries, but he wasn't complaining.
Here are more pics of Pete, just because.  He can now stand up on his own, unassisted by any furniture.  You'd think that would mean he's close to walking,  But I remind you, he is one of our children, and no Fox baby walks before they are 100% sure footed.  This is usually around 15+ months.  The upside is not a lot of bonked heads.  The downside is super dirty knees and feet.
We enjoyed Peter at the park last week.  As he has been much more manageable since the milk allergy discovery a couple weeks ago, we've enjoyed taking him more places than we ever dared before.  Abe and I actually took him to a restaurant for a quick lunch date before his appointment.  That is something we haven't done since he was a very young infant.  And besides trying to escape his high chair, he handled it pretty well.  It's the small things.  But actually, I don't think being able to take your baby out in public is really such a small thing.  It seems rather monumental to me.
Our little guitar prodigy!
First off, I would like to clarify that Cannon is NOT wearing a SKIRT!
In this unfortunate angle, it appears he is wearing a black ballet skirt, but I assure you it's black soccer shorts.
Cannon tested out a tap dance class this week and he loved it.  I do not have any experience doing tap dance-- I did take a clogging class at BYU, but it didn't really go very well and I really didn't have any business being in the class.  "Beginning" Clogging-- yeah, right!
Anyway, I think the reason Cannon loved it-- and he did LOVE it-- was because the experience was very cerebral.  He had to really think about how he was moving and what steps to do next.  This kid loves to use his brain.  He is also taking a boys' hip hop class, but he won't start that until next week.
I am happy for him to have an activity he enjoys so much.  I will, however, make sure in the future that it never appears he is wearing a skirt in his dance pictures.
Cannon built a temple.  I like the Angel Moroni.
Faith favored us with a most delicious batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  I like to say the world can be healed through Faith and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  She made these while I was gone to Peter's Dr. appointment yesterday.  She and Bethany decided to make a triple batch-- which normally would be terrific idea.  However, they're weren't enough chocolate chips, so they were a little skimpy on the chocolate.  Not that that stopped me from eating 8 of them a "snack".
And to celebrate the arrival of October the next day, Clark tried the unthinkable.  He dipped a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie in a pumpkin shake from Arctic Circle.
The Universe did not implode.
Elinor's snowman family.  My children are hoping for lots of snow this winter.  But enough about winter.  Today is the first day of October and I think I'll celebrate with another pumpkin chocolate chip cookie.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Welcome Fall 2015

We had our Primary Program in Sacrament Meeting a couple of weeks ago.  The highlight for Abe and I was hearing Faith sing a solo of a very sweet song called, "I Believe in Jesus".  We recorded her that morning before church.  She was so brave and sang in her beautiful, childlike voice.  I will treasure this video.

Here's a picture of the three Littles the morning of.  They said their parts beautifully and we enjoyed having Grandma and Grandpa Cannon at church with us and then over for dinner afterwards.  It was a good, good day.
Little George sat up on the stand with his arms folded the whole time.  He looked a little uncomfortable, but he wouldn't unfold his arms.  I asked Abe if he had told George to fold his arms and he proudly said he had.  I reminded Abe that we have to be careful in what we tell George to do.  He's a little like Ella Enchanted, in that he is extremely obedient.  He probably didn't need to fold his arms the whole time.

We treated ourselves to pumpkin pie and vanilla ice cream.  That is the way to kick off fall!

Now, Cannon on the other hand, was told in no uncertain terms, that he had better not be too silly up on the stand.  No making faces at Clark or other friends of the older kids out in the congregation.  Cannon does so love to perform.  Here are a couple videos of him lately.
This first one is his audition piece for the part of Michael Banks for the local high school's production of Mary Poppins.  He didn't get the part, partly because he was younger than what they were looking for, but we had a grand time preparing, and auditioning is always a good experience.  I particularly enjoy his British accent.

This next one I can't really say I'm proud of, but he does keep us laughing and I enjoy him immensely.  I am proud that he is accompanying himself on the piano.

Elinor and I enjoyed a fun date the other night to a book launch party for the fifth Michael Vey book. She is quite the fan, along with a couple thousand other of the most wonderful, geeky, smarty-pants boys and girls around these parts.  She stayed up late and finished the book by the next morning.
She was a little embarrassed that I insisted on this picture, but that was the price of my company:)
Fun girl.  Unfortunately, she has been doing an awful lot of fun reading lately.  She thinks I'm crazy and that I'm the only mom in the world who would limit how much time she can read.  I've told her that for a little while she needs to lay off the "fun reading" and increase her substantive reading.  Too much reading about magic powers and the world misunderstanding you, can affect your levels of life satisfaction.
We recently had a lovely evening with friends, entertaining each other with "traumatic pet stories".  Everyone had some sort of story to share. I told the story of the death of my brother's school pet, Stinky the rat.  Jeff told about Jo Jo the guinea pig's unfortunate demise.  Clark told of losing Tito the tortoise at the park when he was 4.  Abe told about the mysterious disappearance of The Black Cat.  Did she just wander off or was she translated?  It was pretty funny.
Clark created an interesting exhibit in his room.  It's an open terrarium built on his window.  I appreciated the note on the whiteboard.  Do you see the Green Anole near the top of the foliage?
This was a few weeks back, but the little kids loved going on a bike ride with Abe.  Now that George is so good on his bike, it was time for the traditional ride to Peterson's, the local grocery store.
I think I would like to be one of these little people.  They have a pretty good time together.
It makes me so very happy to see them making up their own games, their own rules.  The older kids were a little more volatile, but they too had a world all their own, that I could observe, but I wasn't in charge of.
One of our favorite things about Peter is his teeth.  You can't see it so much in this picture, but he has a big space between his two front teeth that we just love!
Cannon and his buddies having a dance party at a friend late night a couple weeks back.  I love how uninhibited they are.
I hope they can still cut loose at Stake dances in seven years!

We Have a New Baby

At 13 months Peter was as unhappy as ever  He was regularly and frequently throwing up when he ate.  I had concluded he had a highly sensitive gag reflex, but however I tried to help him, it wasn't working.  He cried A LOT.  He hated lying down for diaper changes.  His naps were short in duration and not as frequent as they should have been.  His diapers were so frequent and messy.  Our interactions with him tended to be negative and not very rewarding.  He rarely seemed calm and settled and we really avoided taking him places because he was so unpredictable.  In short, we were all struggling.

But then earlier last week I had an idea.

I wonder if Peter could be allergic to milk?

None of my other children have had any kind of allergies.  I have no experience with allergies.  Surely, he couldn't have a milk allergy.  Could he?  It was worth a little experiment to find out.

I asked Abe to bring home some almond milk and soy milk.  Last Wednesday afternoon was the last of the dairy milk for Peter.  And consequently, it was the last of the throwing up and the shortened naps and the screaming.  He is a whole new baby.  Happy, relaxed, and playful.

I'm partly pleased with myself for figuring out why he was suffering.  But I'm more horrified that I didn't figure it out sooner.  I feel very sad that he has been so uncomfortable for so many months.  I am so grateful he is feeling better and that we are all able to enjoy him more now.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Homeschool Glamour Shots

I don't know that these pictures need a lot of explanation  It was a Sunday evening photo shoot with Bethany and Elinor as the stylists, make-up artists and photographers.  There is a pretty heavy 80's influence, but I blame Abe for that.
I don't know what to say.  On some level I think I am proud.
This is how we do our "back-to-school" pictures.
George has a bright idea.

I call this one, "Not Done with My School Work Yet".
Nerds of the world unite!
Well, he's just too cute for words.  I do so love my George.
Okay, that one is actually quite good.
Are you ready for my favorite one?

Love, love, love!
Things sort of deteriorated-- not unusual, but quite loud.
I think George is preparing to body slam Bethany.  If you look past all the mess, also, not unusual, but somewhat disheartening, I am giving Clark a haircut.  How resourceful of me!
What can I say about this one?  Homeschool Glamour Shots by Deb.