Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SYTYCD Love and Miscellaneous

Pic by Adam Rose/FOX

Lots of miscellaneous going on. But first, I have to say how much I love So You Think You Can Dance! I watch this darned show every week, every summer it's on. We're on Season 8, and I began with Season 2 (thank you to all my relatives who let me watch it while I was vacationing at their homes every summer). Melanie and Marko are my favorites this season. We'll see how far they go.

In other news, we've done a lot of purchasing this week. The bad news is that money is flying out the front door. The good news is that I got my rear in gear and got my office sorted out so that I could get a grip on bills and finish putting our new budget together. We've replaced our master bedroom mattress with a new memory foam mattress (jury is out on that as bed has to "re-shape" until we can sleep on it tomorrow), put gel foam on top of both girls beds to give their mattresses some extended life, purchased a rug for our office, put a new water filter pitcher in the fridge (hoping to not buy as many water jugs and use tap instead), purchased a new office chair (love!), and have many more things on the list to get. We're going to have to pace ourselves.

One nice thing that just joined our home today was a new X-Box Kinect. Heather decided that she really, really wanted one, so she pitched in nearly all of her birthday money toward it. I was surprised that she wanted to do that, but she was serious. Kelly still had a gift card from Christmas, so he put the rest of that in as well. Heather is so excited about this new system. We packed our PlayStation 2 in a box and made room for the X-Box.

The girls and I are off to Arizona for a quick trip this weekend to visit cousins, swim and meet a new baby girl in the family. We'll be back in time to celebrate a wedding anniversary (mine) and pack up for our beach camping adventure. During the space in between, we are enjoying our summer time to the fullest (read: sleeping in and being lazy).

This post is probably not at the top of the "Things to Blog About" list, but sometimes day-to-day life is blog worthy, even if for nothing else than to let our grandkids know what we were up to all those years ago...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First Sleepover

Jenna and Sarah had their first official sleepover. This occurred during Heather's birthday party sleepover, and they had a blast, just the two of them hanging out in the playroom. They played and played until bedtime, and in the morning they painted their nails. Sarah's mom and I were discussing sleepovers and how we wait until the kids are older to have them, but then when they are older, the mischief seems to brew. We both decided that maybe sleepovers when the kids are a little younger and still automatically following instructions is the time to have the sleepovers. This little party went off just fine.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Spy Who Needs You

Heather celebrated her birthday with a spy-themed party. Kelly worked on an iMovie video with her that was emailed to friends with extra instructions. The movie was titled, "The Spy Who Needs You", and featured Agent 12 needing some assistance to apprehend the evil Dr. Crooked Teeth. These two were so creative in their collaboration that I feared the actual party would pale in comparison to the pre-party hype. We seemed to do okay.

The Cake (a bomb)

Headquarters (HQ) arrival and check-in

The weapon issued was a toothbrush. This weapon is very effective with Dr. Cornelious Crooked Teeth, the villain to be apprehended.

Mission instructions were given in the Briefing Room by Agent 43 and Agent 009.5

Some of the traps that Dr. C. set to slow down our agents included, acid spray (water sprinkler), activated bomb (large balloons filled with water which needed to be diffused), and live grenades which agent had to bat out into an open field before they exploded (soaker balls and bat).

In the end, agents located Dr. Crooked Teeth hiding in his lair protecting his precious candy supply. Agents used water bombs to flush out the target. Unfortunately, Dr. Crooked Teeth had some water bombs of his own.

Eventually, after running out of ammunition, the agents used their "weapons" to force Dr. Crooked Teeth from his lair (they thought of this all on their own). He hates toothbrushes and will do anything not to have to be around one. They apprehended the subject.

The agents enjoyed dinner, present opening, visiting and cake. I think they would have been fine just hanging out and chatting.

Theater Camp Performance

After two weeks of theater camp, the cast performed Alice in Space. Every child had two or three parts, and the story was delightful. Jenna and Heather each got to play Alice, Heather was a narrator and an alien, and Jenna played two major Alice roles and one minor flower role. This camp was so much fun! The girls can't wait for next summer's camp.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heather's 12th Birthday

When Heather went to bed tonight, I asked her if she had fun on her first day being 12. She said, "It was awesome."

She started her day with birthday pancakes served on birthday party ware. Then she was off to Theater Camp while I did some shopping. After gathering some goods and picking up the girls from camp, we arrived home to find the yard decorated by Heather's new class at church. Heather thought this was sooooo wonderful.

The girls hung out and played and goofed around until dinner. Per Heather's request, we went to the Rainforest Cafe. Heather enjoyed her dinner of Python Pasta as well as a birthday song and complimentary ice cream. Little did we know how much she was counting on the balloon guy to be there. Good thing he showed up! The girls both got dragon creations which had fire coming out of the mouth that could also be used as a handle for flying the dragon. The dragons flew all the way to the car (and the girls are currently sleeping with their dragons, Puff and Alice, while we speak).

Once home again, and after waiting all day in agony (well, half the day since some presents didn't make their appearance until after camp), Heather was able to open gifts.
First Clinique skin care set, some concealer and some lipgloss from Mom and Dad, something fun to open since she already received her new bike.

A how to draw monsters book, Pokemon cards, fuzzy slippers and stickers from Jenna

And Super ScribbleNauts for her DSi from Grandpa. I think she was excited about this one. There was also $12 from Aunt Kathy and Uncle Chuck which she promptly put in her money box for safe-keeping.

Heather is just the most amazing thing ever. If I had been blogging when she was younger, I would have written about the awe I experience nearly every day as her mom. She came so calm and peaceful and sweet; she is still that way. I am still amazed that Heavenly Father sent her to me/us. Even with her pre-teen outbursts, she returns to her true self. She is intelligent beyond any depth that I will ever achieve, and I have learned so much from her. I grew up with a mom who told me that when she bought greeting cards, she always looked for the sentiment that expressed what she felt. I had a silly card for Heather and never even attempted to find a sentiment because I didn't think one existed that could express a fraction of how we feel about this girl. Today, I found a card for Heather that made me tear up right there in the darned card isle. It reads:

For A Very Special Daughter

If you could see
all the flowers
in the world...

if you could hear
all the laughter
in the universe...

if you could make
all the dreams
that ever
were wished
come true...

...then you would know
a little part of the joy
of having and loving
a daughter like you.

Oh how we love this girl. We are so, so blessed to be her parents.

On a cute note, last night, she told me that it was her last night brushing her teeth at 11. Tonight she announced that it was her first time brushing her teeth at 12. I am glad that she felt that she had an amazing day because that is what we wish for her. Every day. Forever and ever.

Happy Birthday sweet Heather!
We love you to the end of the universe and back again (times infinity)!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Growing Up

Tomorrow, my very first baby girl will be 12 years old.

I am not sure I'm ready. No, I know I'm not ready. I want more time. There are words that have more meaning to me as I look at the past 11 years and try to grasp at the last few tendrils of my daughter's childhood innocence. Brief. Momentary. Fleeting. My girlfriend, whose two oldest daughters were passing through the phases of getting married and having babies at the time we talked, reported something to the effect that pre-school and elementary school years last forever, middle school is over in a week, and high school is over in a day. I am beginning to get the picture.

There is little I can do to stop this tide. It is coming, and I need to roll with it. However, with each passing phase, we mourn. I am in mourning. It is bitter sweet, and necessary. Up to this point, I have lived and loved with my eyes wide open, and although I know I have done a lot with my little girls, it feels normal to wonder if I could have done more. I have had appreciation and joy in each phase of Heather's development so far. I think what I'm feeling today is that it simply went by so fast. Too fast.

I usually learn from these little mourning phases that it is not too late and that she isn't off to college just yet, and then I happily do something about what I'm feeling. Sunday night after a full day of business at church, I put the girls to bed and sat on the couch for a few moments alone. It was after eleven (we are so naughty about bed time right now), and found myself missing my girls. It was one of those days that goes by in a rush, and you realize that you didn't make the most of love that day. I went into the girls' room to give some lovin'. I climbed Heather's ladder and told her I wanted to have some snuggles and tell her I love her. She was very cute and for fifteen minutes, straight, she related all she had been doing in her Pokemon DSi game that week. Fifteen minutes, non-stop, no breaks. All I could do was look at her, nod my head and give a well-placed, "mm-hmm" now and then. I finally had to ask her if she could tell me the rest tomorrow since my feet were losing circulation standing barefoot on the bunk bed ladder. Before I climbed down, I asked her if she was holding that all in her head this whole time to which she replied, "Yes! Thank you for listening to me. It feels good to talk about it because you listen to me and xxxx makes fun of me when I talk about it." And then she hugged me.

Because she's a pre-teen, she'll die of embarrassment that I shared that story, but it is now precious to me. The experience tells me that even if she doesn't need me for the usual climb-in-my-lap cuddles that were prevalent before she got too tall to do so, she still needs me to listen. I am hoping (and praying earnestly) that I will be able to interpret this new phase resplendent with eye-rolls, short-tempered answers and oddly timed outbursts, and know how to love my little girl in the ways she needs me now.

We'll see how it goes. I will need lots, and lots of advice, so thank you, in advance.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Summer Time

"Oh, What Do You Do in the Summertime?"
Words and Music by Dorothy S. Andersen
Photography by Melissa

Oh, what do you do in the summer-time, when all the world is green?
Do you fish in a stream, or lazily dream
on the banks as the clouds go by?

Oh, what do you do in the summer-time, when all the world is green?
Do you swim in a pool, to keep yourself cool,
or swing in a tree up high?

Oh, what do you do in the summer-time, when all the world is green?
Do you march in parades, or drink lemonades,
or count all the stars in the sky?

Is that what you do?
So do I!

What are your summer plans this week?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Good-Bye Harry

We did it. We said good-bye. Somewhere around 7:30 p.m. tonight, our little family watched the last of the Harry Potter films. I brought tissues and we cheered and clapped and cried with 400 hundred other people. My most tearful moment came at the end when Harry, Ron and Hermione are shown standing together looking off into the distance. It hit me that that was it. After ten years of films, we will never see another new Harry Potter film.

Some people don't understand the hype and that's fine. Kelly and I have both read and shared the series, and Heather and Jenna have seen all the films. It's been a fun family adventure, and I know it's not for everyone. It was our babysitter, Ashely Snow, who at 13 told us her friend gave her a challenge--to read the first three chapters of book one and see if it interested her. Ashley had done that, and that's what got Kelly into them. It is a very well-written and clever series. If you're ever in the market for a new story, give it a go.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Theater Camp

My sister and nephew were supposed to be visiting this weekend and next week, but they were unable to come. Since they weren't coming, my girls decided to enroll in the Theater Camp offered by my good friends, Kathy Busby and Diane Christensen. The camp is a two-week adventure exploring all things theater and will end with a performance. They are having a great time with all of the activities. Yesterday, the kids painted shirts. Sarah and Jenna showed up in matching outfits they had planned the night before, and then they helped each other paint matching shirts that they had designed when they were planning their wardrobe.

Heather is having fun with her imagination, and we can't wait to see them perform. Kathy and Diane are outstanding directors who have a great way with the kids. We're so lucky to have this fun opportunity!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yosemite 2011

This has got to be one of the most difficult posts in that there were so many pictures to choose from, and I wanted to express the feeling of beauty and majesty we felt with only a handful of the pictures. Our trip to Yosemite this year was just as amazing as last year. We saw the same sites, but they were all uniquely new as there was more snow this year and more snow-pack melting. The rivers were swollen and the waterfalls so swift and powerful. The sights took my breath away all over again. Kelly's brother, Kevin, and his wife, Beth, joined us on day two. It had been several years since they had been in Yosemite, and it had been later in the summer/early fall, so the water levels were down. The sights were just as powerful for them as they were for us. Here is a smattering of the pictures from our trip...

One of three deer we encountered just hanging out in the middle of the Disneyland-like crowds.

The view from our trailer door. Our campsite was amazing and situated just so that we didn't have neighbors to the left of us. It was unreal to wake up to the sound of the water every morning and fall asleep to that sound every night.

There are many cars and day-trip travelers, but those who camp bring bikes. It is so easy to get around to the little village and neighboring trails/waterfalls on a bike. I've never had such a stunning view while riding my bike as I have in the Yosemite valley.

Our first waterfall was the Lower Yosemite Fall. This is the "little" part of the two falls. Ha. The roar of this water was enough to make me nervous!

Our next hike was the Mist Trail going to Vernal Fall and then on to Nevada Fall. It was 7 miles round trip up some very steep rock, but SO worth it.

Here are the girls on the trail to Nevada Falls. You can see the steep climb as well as how large and powerful this waterfall was.

Day three with Kevin and Beth found us at Glacier Point. The entire valley is visible as well as the glaciers not visible from the valley floor. There was a ton of snow still on these glaciers (some is visible to the right of Half-Dome in this photo).

Glacier Point is over 7,000 feet and the view across to Half-Dome (above) at 8,000 feet is amazing. Below you can see the Vernal and Nevada Falls we hiked to as well as the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.

Vernal and Nevada Falls

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

The Merced River was like having a swimming pool in our backyard for five days. The girls couldn't get enough of it. Kelly joined them a few times while I, without a wet suit, could not stand the water for very long without losing feeling in my extremities. This was melted snow people!

On our last night, Kevin and Beth gave Heather her birthday presents. She got some darling clothes, a Justice gift card, and Just Dance 2 for the Wii. Heather was in Heaven!

Most evenings we sat around the campfire recuperating from our hikes and/or playing games. Both our families love to play games so we have lots of willing players. This was such a great trip that we can't help but want to make it a yearly tradition.