Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Luckily, Annie Didn't Break

These two little girls melt my heart.

After Annie fell off the ladder to the slide on Friday, she cried for hours and refused to put weight on her foot. Tucker and Karli waited until morning, but when she was still in pain Saturday morning, they took her to Urgent Care. X-rays showed no fractures, thankfully, but it took her another entire day for her to walk on it.

Eve took it as her responsibility to take care of Annie while she recovered. She sat with her, watched movies with her, brought her toys and blankets, even held Annie’s wrapped foot in her lap to comfort her. Before long, Annie was feeling better and they’ve gone back to normal, alternating between loving each other and fighting over dolls and books.

I love having these guys live behind us. It has been such a joy to have them live with us.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Giant Peach

My little boys had their first experience in a theatrical production this month--"James and the Giant Peach." I had never seen this show, and I fell in love with the music from the first note I heard. The music is fun and upbeat, the scene changes are pretty minimal, and the costumes are crazy awesome!

The boys were part of the ensemble, a good first show role. It showed them how a performance is put together and gave them lots of costume changes and roles. My favorite part was when they were dancing stumps.
Hyrum tried to show me a dab with his limited arm motion, and this picture shows how awesome they looked when they tried to dance.
These stumps were so cool--metallic insulation stuff (no idea what it really is called), painted and drizzled with caulk. So creative and not that uncomfortable, considering they were portraying stumps. Hyrum was elected the "Mascot of the Weeds," and they dubbed him "Donald Stump." Kids are so funny.

They also portrayed waiters, an Oompa Loompa (Hyrum), a construction worker (Micah), waiters, and the head (Micah) and butt (Hyrum) of a shark.  Hyrum was pretty miserable during rehearsals, but they had a great time in their first show once the performances started.

Karli and I took the little girls to a quick dinner at McDonald's before one of the performances. Once they settled down in their seats for the show and the music started, both girls couldn't sit still in their seats because the music jiggled them--shoulders up and down, tapping toes, clapping hands, even shouts of joy. I loved watching them love the show.
I love that we live where we do and that my kids have opportunities to participate in community theatre. Being onstage teaches them confidence, cooperation, dedication, hard work, and how to deal with frustration.

Thanks, AYT--another great show.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Gifts from Heaven

My aunt Sally* was a generous and frequent gift giver.

No one could visit her house without these three things—a good meal, lots of games, and returning home with a few gifts from Aunt Sally. As a small girl, she would always bring presents for all, young and old, adults and kids. Sometimes I would try to mask my disappointment when the anticipated gifts didn’t match my expectations. I was kid, after all, but even when disappointed, I still knew those gifts came straight from her bottomless heart, and I loved her all the more for her thoughtfulness.

Aunt Sally was a teacher.
Aunt Sally was a kisser.
Aunt Sally was a shopper.

Aunt Sally was also a hoarder.

When she died suddenly last November, one of the most overwhelming tasks facing her children and my mother was sifting through all of her stuff. Drawers full of stuff. Boxes bulging with stuff. Closets overflowing with stuff. Rooms piled with stuff. Mom spent hours at Sally’s house, sorting between trash and treasure, sometimes accompanied by one of her siblings, sometimes with Sally’s two children. Family history was carefully packed away, family heirlooms were thoughtfully divided, and trash got hauled to the curb. Despite all of their efforts, stuff still remained.

In tribute to Sally’s generous heart and after removing their sentimental items, Sally’s kids opened her house to all of her nieces and nephews after the funeral, granting permission for the not-so-close-but-still-beloved family members to select our mementos from Sally’s life.

I knew exactly what I wanted, and I knew it would be nearly impossible to find in the chaos. Sally and I spent hours discussing literature, and she always recommended her favorites to me. When we visited her in California just after we got married, Aunt Sally recommended one of her all-time favorites, The Ladies of Missalonghi, and I checked it out of the library when I got home. While I never loved the book, I loved the lady who suggested it to me. And I wanted her copy of her favorite book to remember her.

Bookshelves in almost every room made my search difficult, and with the house swarming with people searching for their own treasures, the shelves were disheveled and disorganized. I picked through each shelf in each room, moving systematically from room to room and floor to floor, and I couldn’t find that book—a small, nondescript $3.95 paperback book that held many memories for me.

As I glanced around the family room, something underneath a pile of bedding covering a small yellow chest caught my eye. I knew that piece of fabric well, and unexpected tears stung my eyes. I hurried across the room, unceremoniously removed the quilts and sheets, and lovingly unfolded the faded, velvety tapestry with the fraying edges. No one else wanted this? No one else valued this? How had it avoided the onslaught of searching and claiming--and how was it still there? After lovingly refolding the neglected scrap and tucking it under my arm, I raced up the stairs to find my mom. Surely she would appreciate the treasure I’d uncovered.

Mom was busy, managing the rummage sale atmosphere in the house. Everyone came to ask her questions. “Is it ok if I take _______________?” or “Has anyone seen ________________?” She kindly answered each question as she pulled ring after ring out of a box for each of the nieces to examine and choose.

“MOM!” Even though she was busy, she turned to me, sensing something in my voice. “Is it ok if I take this?” And I carefully unfolded the 24x40” memory. As her eyes met mine, tears and memories flowed between us.
Swans glide across the tapestry—the scrap of fabric that protected the slick surface of my grandparents’ piano bench. Stroking it took me back many years, and I was a tiny girl again, learning to play the piano. I can’t calculate how many times I sat on that tapestry, begged by my grandpa to play for yet another guest to their home. No matter how many times I’d plink those keys, my grandpa would stop to listen and praise. My grandpa was a music teacher who loved all kinds of music, and I loved playing for him. Over the years, my piano pieces got longer and his praise more sincere as he sat in his scratchy green rocker/recliner and to listen.

Funny how memories get triggered like that. I could see my grandparents' love for me mirrored in my mother's face, and I hugged her tight. "Oh, Jen. You should have that. Please take it." And we cried some more, words no longer necessary.

Afraid to put it down for fear someone else would recognize its value, I carried the tapestry over my arm as the chaos around me dissipated. Boxes of books were loaded into trunks. Quilts and crocheted afghans draped people's arms. Little gems and bigger trinkets slowly disappeared from view, headed to homes where they will be used and loved.

When we got home from the funeral, I placed the tapestry in a plastic bag and left it on my hobby room desk. While not necessarily forgotten, the swan tapestry did get buried beneath Christmas wrappings, school books, and needles and thread for prom dress alterations. When I cleared the desk off a few weeks ago, I rediscovered my treasure. What to do with it? It wouldn't work as a covering on my lumpy adjustable piano bench, and its value to me belies its appearance.
This week I picked it up from the framer's, and it now hangs in my living room, across from my piano.

Just a few feet away on a quiet shelf in my library is a small $3.95 paperback book that also found me at Sally's house.
Two irreplaceable gifts.

Gifts to me straight from heaven itself.

*You can read a little about Aunt Sally here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Blurry Is Better than Nothing

My photo skills are suffering through an awkward fuzzy phase. I can't seem to get the shots I'm after--I can't figure out if my camera needs to be adjusted or (most likely) if there's something with me lately. But blurry is better than nothing.
Eve participated in Miss Jenee's performance class this semester and it was so good for her.
My littlest girl is an unusual combination of shy and obstinate--she'll hide behind me when she meets someone new, but she's pretty vocal about her fear at the same time.
These performing classes are so good for Eve. They help her overcome her fear of new experiences and new people and gain confidence.
Once she's on stage and the lights come up, her fear disappears and out comes a different Evie.
She sings and dances and tries so hard to please Miss Marissa and Miss Jenee.
She knows to hold a pose at the end of a song, and it's funny, because she holds it longer than anyone else.
All the other kids are wiggling around, waving at their parents, or preparing for the next song while Eve is frozen in the pose from the previous number. Just before the music starts for the next song, Eve will snap out of her frozen pose and prepare. It's hilarious.
Eve loves her teachers so much. When teachers love kids and love what they do, kids can tell. And that is definitely the case with Miss Jenee. Everything the kids do is wonderful. They're all stars and beautiful. And she tells them over and over and over how amazing they are. I love that about her--and so does Eve. Each one of her students think they're the favorite--because each one is her favorite. It's one of Jenee's best qualities--the ability to make everyone around her feel loved and fabulous.

Miss Jenee does some local advertising, and one day we received one of her ads in the mail. Eve found it and ran to me.

"MOM!!!! Is this Miss Jenee?" It is. 

"Can I keep this forever?" Yes you may. I may or may not have hidden my snicker behind my hand at that point.

Eve's already talking about singing with Miss Jenee in August. Both of us can't wait.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Prom 2016

Picture overload.

That's an understatement.
Lily's first prom.
Her date is such a good guy.

I'd never been to the park where they took pictures, but it was so beautiful.
These pictures are mostly for grandmas and for us to remember later. 

Of all the posts I've ever done, I think this one has the most pictures of any.

And I doubt most of you will make it past this point.

Even to see great poses like these . . .

And beautiful couples like these.

I'm impressed if you've gotten this far.

Isn't Lily's face funny in this one? The kids loved squeezing the chubby cheeks and thighs of the photographer's baby.

If the boys can do it, so can the girls, right?

I think this one is my very favorite.

Lily and Haydenn
This girl is moving to New Mexico this summer, and I don't know what Lily will do without her . . .

And if you made it through all the way to the end, I'm impressed!

Some of my most vivid memories from high school are from the dances. I know this is one Lily will treasure.