Friday, March 27, 2015

Idaho Trip--Projects, Projects, Projects

I spent a whirlwind weekend with Heidi and her family. It was a welcome break to be Gran for a few days.

I asked Heidi to pick out a few projects for us to do while we were there, and Sam added one of his own. His project included a quick trip to The Home Depot for a few supplies.
 These two were on sale, and we couldn't resist picking up a few to take home with us.
 Jonah was too little to experience cart fun. This baby is the best natured kid I've ever seen. Just chills out and watches the world go by . . .
 Saturday morning, Sam grabbed his assistant and they got busy.
 Can you see the Grant Tetons on the horizon? The best view ever out their kitchen window.

They cleared the leaves away and started the real work--building a sandbox.
 Ellie liked being outside with her daddy, but Nathan was dedicated to getting that box built.
 While out there, he may or may not have witnessed his dad's encounter with a field mouse.
 He loved stepping over the first layer of boards--in and out dozens of times.
 When it came time to add the second tier of boards, Nathan got quite concerned that it was too tall for his little legs to clear. Daddy later added a landscape barrier and sand, and Gran provided the pails and shovels.
 It was a pretty quick project that will entertain those three kids forever. Sand is one of the miracles of childhood.

 Heidi and I got started disassembling the gallery wall in the living room.
But we didn't get far. I have a fear/disability when it comes to assembling gallery walls, and my daughter is not much better than I. Lucky for us, Sam took a break from the outside work, and within minutes, he had the pictures arranged. All we had to do was pick which pictures to enlarge for the frames. This sounds like easy work, but it took quite a while to decide which picture for which frame.
Jonah was sick and needed Mama to hold him, so he supervised picture selection.

Isn't it fabulous? I wish I had picture of the before, but I didn't think to take one.
 We managed to squeeze two more quick projects in before I left Monday afternoon:

Hanging her menu board (no excuses now for lack of planning, right Heidi?)
 And creating a command center in her kitchen.
Sam brought the license plate back from his mission in Spain and it's perfect at the top. The two clip boards are for a cleaning schedule and food storage/shopping lists. The red square is a magnet board for quick notes and stuff, alongside a can for pens and pencils. The two painted cookie sheets on the bottom will be Ellie's and Nathan's chore charts. Heidi has graphics she's going to attach to magnets so they can see what they need to do each day. I loved this use of cabinet space in her kitchen, and it helps bring more color into her sunny kitchen to boot.

Don't worry. It wasn't all work with no play. We managed to make it to "Cinderella" on Saturday afternoon, even after Sam accidentally locked his keys and Jonah in the car. Lucky for us, it was in the garage and it was warm and Jonah had a bottle. He was in there almost 30 minutes before the locksmith arrived, but he just waved and smiled and laughed at us as we checked on him through the window. It's amazing how much faster a locksmith will come when you tell them a kid is locked in the car.
After the movie, we had to stop by Big Jud's for hamburgers and fries. It's not a trip to Rexburg without Big Jud's.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The End of the Purple Tree

Two of my favorite pictures from my February photo project were these:

But these shots came at a cost.

The plum tree was dying. Sap was oozing from bore holes everywhere for the past two years, and there was nothing we could do to save the tree. I loved this tree. I watched it transform from purplish sticks to pink blooms to purplish leaves every year. Purple trees are unusual here in the desert, and I appreciated having one in my back yard.

Unfortunately, Brad had to take it out.

 While a small part of me loved the sculptural aesthetic of the limbless tree, it couldn't stay like that.

Now there's a big empty hole in the backyard, waiting for a new tree to fill its spot. Funny how removing a dying tree can make me legitimately sad.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


The season has been over for a few weeks now, and somehow these pictures were lost on my hard drive--or in my mind. Couldn't be me, could it?

Hyrum and Micah both played basketball this season. I don't think either of them will go pro any time soon, but they did have a good time playing.

Hyrum is in the age group where they are more concerned about shooting the ball themselves than they are about passing and sharing.

 He did land a few miracle shots over the course of the season and his games always ended with treat.
 Isn't that what matters?

Micah's team was a bit of a different story.
His team was comprised mostly of his friends, was coached by his best friend's mom, and was trained on the court in his friend's back yard.
 They learned a lot this season. I watched them defend, pass, and call plays. They rotated point guards and learned picks, screens, and strategy.

 His coaches are amazing. Husband and wife, they manage to coach almost every sport their kids play, and that's saying something. She is currently expecting their tenth child.
I'm so grateful for her--it makes getting Micah to practice a whole lot easier when it's just around the corner and I don't have to arrange carpool. Or even really think about practice at all, really.

There was some jungle ball in this league. The boys are learning how to throw their weight a little and what is a foul and what isn't (and what technically is a foul but really isn't called--or shouldn't be).
This guy was amazing this season. He had two shots--one NBA three-pointer at the buzzer and one layup with four seconds left--that were game winners. I know the boys will never stop talking about those shots. When they're graduating from high school, they'll all say, "Hey, remember in fifth grade when S won that game with a three-pointer at the buzzer? That was so awesome!"

Micah had chances to handle the ball and shoot. He wasn't the star, but he played hard.
Their team made it to the semi-finals, and they had to play the best team in the league--the Net Rippers.

 It wasn't too fair of a fight--we lost by at least 20 points, but our boys never gave up.

Here's Coach trying to explain to his two biggest players how to use their size when they're defending under the hoop.
It was a great season.
And like every sport they play, I'm always glad when the season's over. Is that bad?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Two Little Boys

My two little boys remind me of puppies so much of the time.
They get smelly when they play too much outside. They sniff out trouble way too easily. They will eat and eat and eat until their bellies are full then be ready to eat again a few minutes later.

They also wrestle each other constantly. Occasionally, I will hear a whimper and one or both of them will come running to me, claiming to have been wronged in the preceding battle.

I was in my bedroom folding laundry when I heard Micah's battle cry: "I'm going to KILLLLLLLLLL you!" followed by thundering footsteps down the hall, a thud that could only be a bigger brother tackling a littler brother, then ending with a thump that could have been any body part (but most likely a head) hitting the wall.

I opened the door, grabbed both boys by the arm, and sat them both down in facing chairs.

I know better than to ask, "What happened?" When I ask that question, both boys start shouting injustices and perceived innocence, and I can't decipher what really happened.

I turned to Micah.

"Micah, please go tell your friend that you can't play any more, then come back to my room."

Micah slunked out of my room and I heard him mutter, "Sorry. We can't play any more today." The front door quietly shut, and the three of us were alone.

"Now. I want to know what happened. Micah, you first."

One at a time, the boys told their side of the story. The gist of it was--Hyrum got too excited and hit Micah too hard with the WoMD (abbreviation for Weapon Of Mass Destruction), and Micah lost his temper. I was surprised that Hyrum was allowed to use the WoMD. Micah had made it at a birthday party the week before, and he was sharing it with Hyrum? There's a few good brother points right there.

Admittedly, I am not a perfect parent. While my kids know each of the corners in our house very well, I have been known to yell at my kids, thump them on the head at the dinner table, and sometimes spank them. This whole fighting/screaming death threats thing is happening too regularly around here, and I've been trying to find a solution that will help them learn to control their behavior.

"So, both of you did something wrong. Which one was worse--losing control with a foam sword on accident and hurting someone, or screaming and chasing and hurting someone?"

Micah hung his head and said, "Mine was worse."

I was surprised to hear him admit that so easily. Usually obvious truths like this are a little harder to see when you're the perpetrator.

"So, what should we do about it? You can't play the rest of the day." Empty consequence--it was 5:15 pm.

Hyrum looked at me with puppy dog eyes, tears waiting to fall. "We can't play with each other, either?"

Now that was a novel idea--forbid them from each other. Hmmmm.

"Yep. That's your punishment. You may not look at each other, talk to each other, be in the same room as each other, or sleep in the same room tonight. No exceptions. I will be gone for the night, but Dad will be here to make sure you have no contact with each other until tomorrow."

And with that, I grabbed my purse, my keys, and my phone, and I left.

Before I had been gone 20 minutes, my phone rang. It was Micah.

"We've learned our lesson. Can I please play with Hyrum?"

"Nope. Talk to Dad. Bye."

Ten minutes later, my caller ID told me home was calling again. This time it was Hyrum.

"Mom, please! We've learned our lesson! Micah and I really want to play together! Can we?"

My answer was the same.

"Nope. Talk to Dad. Bye."

Twice more my phone rang, but I ignored it both times. I knew what they were going to say, and I knew that my consequences were working.

When I got home just before 9 pm, both boys were still up. They came into the family room, and I quickly asked, "Are you two supposed to be in the same room?" They looked at each other and turned away. "Back to your separate beds. Right now."

Sunday morning, I heard their voices. They were talking. to. each. other.


I headed downstairs and asked them each what they had learned. Both gave about the same answer.

While I know that they will wrestle to the point of tears again (probably today, because they haven't since Saturday night), I hope that this lesson will be one that will stick with them.

"Life would be really boring without my brother."

In boy talk, I think that means that they realized how much they love each other and need each other and depend on each other. I already knew that. I wanted them to see it--and it worked.

Until the next battle to the pain . . . (name that movie)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Before the Break

Blogging took a back seat around here last week--Spring Break, ya know. I have a few posts in process, but I had to post these pictures of Lily from her choir concert earlier this month.

She was really funny during the whole concert--wouldn't smile even once.
She told me later that she thought if she didn't smile, then I wouldn't take her picture.  Silly girl! Doesn't she know that NOTHING prevents parents from taking pictures these days? This one cracked me up. What kind of enunciation is exacted with this expression?
Even though she isn't smiling, I think she looks beautiful. When did my little girl grow up?
I did get her smiling on this one--only because she thought the hand game they had to do was really dorky and she couldn't help herself.
Hopefully life will get back to normal around here quick this week--I've got mounds of laundry and no clean dishrags. Oodles of homework and no time to do it.

Back to reality for nine more weeks--then it's SUMMER!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

According to Master Yoda

Here is the first assignment I wrote for my final master's degree class. Thought you might need a laugh and a jolt of Master Yoda's wisdom today. 

Artwork is cartoons drawn by people I love as “representations” of my journey. Thanks, Marc and Ashley!

It’s been a long two years. I’ve told people for the past year that when I finish my final class, they will be required to call me Master; my sci-fi-loving family immediately decided that the title would expand to Jedi Master. One of the most famous masters of all time—Yoda—is also one of the wisest. A few of his quotes that apply to my own path to master.
  •   “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?” Many gifted children are unfairly judged, either by the size of their bodies or the size of their intellects. My master’s program has taught me to dig deeper to the heart of the child before passing judgment.
  •  “You must unlearn what you have learned.” I thought I knew gifted education before starting this program. So much of what I’ve thought and taught and used in the past has been replaced or improved through my studies.
  •  “If no mistake you have made, losing you are. A different game you should play.” Studying gifted education has also taught me how important it is to teach gifted kids how to make mistakes—that mistakes are powerful teachers, often more powerful than generating too many easy, correct answers.
  •  “Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” Studying gifted education has expanded my perspective on all children, not just those who are identified as gifted. All children can benefit from methods that differentiate for abilities, interests, and motivations.
May 2015—I’ll be Master. I don’t know where my path will lead from here, but one thing I do know is this:
  • “Do or do not . . . There is no try.” The most important reason I returned to school for my master’s degree at 45 was that I want to make a difference in the lives of gifted kids. I’ve made dozens of mistakes along the way, but this journey has taught me to learn from my mistakes and never give up.
This sketch sums up the last two years pretty well. Wielding a light saber while one-handedly juggling books, car keys (family responsibilities), and Evie upside down with her starfish hair, I’ve managed the demands of my seven kids, four grandkids, one husband, and nine (almost ten) master’s classes. And I’ve worn awesome boots the whole way.

Wherever I end up after this two-year experience, I do know one thing--I've loved every second of the journey.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Devil Is in the Details

So many details in this cabin experience--flooring, cabinetry, light fixtures, faucets, door handles. We're almost there, people!

While I loved this screen from the second I saw it, I never loved it hanging on the landing in my entry way. I convinced Brad after I'd bought it at an auction that it would be "perfect" there, and he spent hours figuring out how to suspend 100 pounds securely to the wall--just because he loves me.
It hung there for a few years, but what I've always wanted there is a beautiful paned mirror--this one, to be specific.

After working on him for a few weeks, I re-convinced him to remove the screen for a headboard on one of the beds at the cabin.
 It does look a little different now. I thought it was a little too dark and would overwhelm a tiny bedroom if it stayed dark, so I taped off, painted, and distressed the frame. Now the center panels really pop, and I can't wait to see how it looks behind a bed.
A queen bed is only as wide as three of the panels, so I need to think of a good use for the fourth one. Suggestions?

This chair . . .
 . . . is currently undergoing a very serious makeover at my upholsterer. I bought it at auction for $20, and he is going to be a showstopper when he finds his permanent home next to the fireplace up north.
Stay tuned for the after. Should be any day now.

Remember the shards of broken glass from this mirror and the miracle of the instant stitches?

I couldn't throw the frame away even after the glass was gone. This mirror has been permanently separated from my great-Grandma Humphrey's dresser, but I knew that one day I would find a place for it. For the rest of my life, it will hang above one of the bathroom sinks in our cabin.

These pieces were two of the earliest pieces of furniture I ever attempted to redo--and the paint job was horrible. I envisioned stripping and repainting it.

Well . . .

. . . it stripped okay, but the ancient stain below it didn't cooperate too well. It bled through but refused to be completely stripped away.
I worked for hours and hours on this tiny piece of wood, but it never looked better than this. Places were orange-tinged, while other places refused to let go of the white paint.

While I did want a distressed look, the end result was just wrong.
I don't know if you can tell between the above photo and this one below but in person, the difference is huge. The mirror frame was repainted and then waxed, while the stand (which won't be used) is my original hard work.
The stand will not be used at the cabin. Suggestions?

But what's that reflected in the mirror? you may be asking yourself. 

I'll tell you. Actually, I'll show you. When I bought this piece of wrought iron fencing, the dealer told me it was a segment of a cemetery fence and showed me details to explain what a rare and great piece of work it was.
Brad was skeptical when I brought it home, but we talked to a welder today, and the welder caught my vision for the future of this fencing. He confirmed that it was indeed well made and one of a kind.

This will be the back and sides of a twin-size porch bed/swing, similar to this one.

All these details, and dozens more.

It's getting close. Maybe next weekend . . . 

Crossing fingers.