Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Cub Scouts (Catch Up Post)



I've had this post in my drafts for a loooooooooooooong time. Just sitting here. Full of pictures but empty of words. I haven't known exactly what I want to say about these cub scouts.


Taking care of these good looking Bears was my calling for a couple of years after we moved into Boulder City.


Week after week we got together and we learned. About knots. About knives. About camping and packing and cooking and building pinewood derby cars.


Our cubmaster was fantastic and every pack meeting was a giant production in which the kids felt love and excitement.


There were jail cells and carnival games and giant life-sized cardboard bears.


The pledge of allegiance and the national anthem taught about patriotism and respect.


And the special ceremonies were always so well put together and, well... special.


Carson always had a wonderful time, and I loved my companion.

And yet I never fully relaxed into the calling. I tried again and again to jump in with my whole heart, and my whole heart would just not cooperate.


I did a whole lot of thinking over the two years about why I felt so reserved and I think it's complicated. But I think it boils down to this one thing: in a church calling, I want to be teaching about Jesus Christ.


And, while scouting is phenomenal for teaching boys how to be men of skills and of strength and of knowledge, it does not teach them how to be men of faith. And if I had to choose between the two for my own boys I would pick faith every time.

But it's not that I don't appreciate the scouting program for what it is.


My boys really do like it.


And I loved being with Carson and his friends.


I just want to make sure that at the end of the day, my boys understand that tying knots and learning to put up a tent are valuable skills that will serve them well over the next many, many years. But that developing the values that the young women get to develop: faith, understanding their diving nature, feeling your individual worth, gaining knowledge, understanding choices and the accountability that comes with them, participating in good works, being full of integrity and virtue... those are the most valuable skills that will serve them well for eternity.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Scrambled Thoughts XVIII

1) Don't Worry, Mom Will Get It -


Not long ago I expressed to Brian how hard it is to feel like I'm the only one doing things around here.  Or, at least, the only one who cares if things get done to completion. I told him that I feel like every time I turn around, someone else has taken a shortcut on their job that then becomes my job. Clothes didn't make it into the laundry hamper? I guess I have to go gather them all up from around the rooms before I can start the load of laundry.* Tupperware comes crashing to the floor when I open the cupboard because someone emptied the dishwasher haphazardly? I guess it's my job to stack them properly before I continue making lunch. Bathroom didn't get wiped down before the kids went off to school and now company is coming? I guess I'm scrubbing the toilet. Wet towels are crumpled up in a heap on the patio AND the bathroom floor? I guess I'm picking them up or I'll have a bigger, mildew-ier problem to solve later. To be fair, Brian disagrees with me and thinks it's really not as bad as I think it is.

The next day as I was cleaning out cupboards to get rid of appliances I rarely use, I pulled out this old Belgium waffle maker.  I haven't made waffles in this thing for years and thought maybe it would be a good idea to wipe it down before I took it to DI.  Imagine my surprise (or my lack of surprise) when I opened it up to find this. To put away a waffle maker without even removing the waffles?  Now that's a shortcut.

*And, don't say that I should just implement the 'if it's not in the hamper it doesn't get washed' rule, because I've tried that, you see. And it turns out I care WAAAAAAAAY more than they do if they're wearing clean clothes.

2) It's happening again


Every single one of my kids... they all reach a certain age and start losing those cute little baby teeth and it drives my heart crazy. I love those little baby tooth smiles.

3) I'd pay to spend a day living inside Miles's head


"Take another bite please, Miles," I said, trying to pull Miles from his daydream. It was time to get going, yet he still had half of his food left. "Miles.  Miles?  Miles!!!" Finally getting his attention I repeated my instructions. "Take another bite." His eyes widened and he looked quickly over his shoulder saying, "What?!?!" After a second or two he turned back to me and said, "Wait, what did you say?"
"Take. Another. Bite." I repeated for the third time.
"Oh," he said rather disappointed.  "I thought you said 'Chicken to your right'."

4) Just Call Us Cultured


We took the kids out to Red Rock to an outdoor playhouse theater to see Beauty and the Beast. We had a little while to play before the show started, so we found a meadow and ran around like crazies for a bit.


It was such a beautiful summer night. The kind that makes you feel like everything is right with the world.

5) I Really Am The Best.


I created a bit of a flood because my brain forgot that I was filling up the laundry room sink with hot water.  I filled that small sink for over half an hour and let me tell you, it was full. As was the floor.  And surrounding drawers.  And cupboards. And hallway.  Timothy found me after I'd already soaked up five beach towels worth of water and he was delighted with the situation.  Jumping up and down in the remaining water (which would end up using another two beach towels and two queen sheets), he shouted, "Oooooooooh, I LOVE puddles! I LOVE them! Thank you, Mama! THANK you!"

6) That Puppet Looks Almost as Happy as Timothy


I have a love hate relationship with stuffed animals. They can be just so blasted cute, but they tend to multiply so prolifically through the years that before you know it you can have stuffed animals bursting out of all the bins and beds and corners and shelves in which they were intended to live. Then when you go to prune them down and manage the chaos, they all look at you with those blastedly cute faces and you can't help but play Toy Story through your brain and before you know it you've cleared out new spaces and created new homes and invited them to live with you forever.

7) You Never Know What's Going to Become a Lasting Childhood Memory, but Candy has Got to Have a Pretty Good Chance.


Boulder City has her very own charming little candy store full of overpriced candy, sub-par ice creams, and stale chocolate truffles.  What else could childhood want?

8) Filed Under the Category: Things Kids are Good at that Grownups Should Never Try


He makes it look so easy, but the second I put my foot on that thing I felt for sure it would be the last of my tailbone if I went any further.

9) Some Things, If You Miss as a Kid, You've Missed Forever


Slurpee Magic is one of those things. I didn't realize it until I filled my own cup up on Slurpee day and took a swig. Not so magical anymore.

10) Music Feels Like the Pulse of Life When it Comes From my Children


I don't know if they were actively trying to get out of Saturday Morning Chores when they all picked up their guitars and started playing together. But it totally worked.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Scrambled Thoughts XVII - End of School Style

1 - He's a heart-melter, this one.


And he knows it.  Just today this conversation went down,
"Hey Teek, guess what?"
"You love me."
"How did you know I was going to say that?!"
"Because you say dat all duh time.  And you say I'm duh k-YOU-tist."
"Well, you are the cutest!"
"Yeah.  I know dat cause you say dat all duh time."

Ego. fed.

2 - Miles is a competitor.  Also, his hair is amazing.


Sometimes my mind flashes back to one experience when Miles was in the transition phase between baby and toddler. My parents know the day because they were there, too, watching with amazement as little Miles, completely wrapped up in his own thoughts and determination, worked to master stepping up and down an inch-deep step where the porch turned to gravel.  He fell and fell and fell, and turned around to hit it again, again, again.  I remember my dad leaning slightly over to my mom and pointing his finger to pull her attention to the sheer grit that was coming from Miles.  We watched him work in that one spot with an attention span much longer than was appropriate for his age, and we knew that we were seeing one of his core personality traits.

Miles is amazing.  His mind is quick, his coordination is good, and we've stopped giving him any sort of handicap advantage when playing games with his older siblings.  Card games, basketball games, board games, soccer games... he has an innate ability to grasp the rules, strategize, and compete.


This is his game face.  Notice the kids in the background?  How relaxed and non-competitive they look?  It was a purely non-competitive field day... no points, no races, just fun.  But Miles was there to compete anyway.  It was fascinating to see him switch his game face on and off, on and off, on and off, when he was about to run, and when he was laughing and playing with his friends.


3 - Carson goes through shoes like band-aids.


Which is a small problem when you're trying to do the water limbo in a ditch.  During the school year, he wore through four pairs of tennis shoes (and we even bought expensive ones once to see if that helped... it didn't).  And so far this summer he's gone through three pairs of flip flops.  That's an average of 10 summer days a pair, people.

So, if you see him walking around with the soles literally falling off the bottoms of his feet, don't worry.  He is loved and fed and well cared for and will have new shoes eventually.  In the meantime, good thing it doesn't rain much here.

And if you see me coming out of the store with a cart filled with 48 pairs of flip flops all the same size, you'll know why.

4 - What would I say to someone who says they've met the Energizer Bunny?


Me too!  Seriously.  Carson's teacher has more energy than the kids in her classroom every. single. day.  She jumps and runs and plays their games.  She dances and cheers and pumps her fists in the air... you could make a movie about her, she's that unique and wonderful. She wasted no time during field day and jumped right into the games while all the parents and other teachers stood around and smiled.

5 - Carson has good friends and a good heart


Carson became responsible this year. Weird to say, maybe, because how do you really pinpoint the moment that you become something like responsible?  But he did.  He started taking responsibility for his school work, he started wearing matching clothes to school, he started remembering to brush his teeth every night, he started doing his morning chores without seventy six reminders... It's fantastic.  He's fantastic.

Plus, his caring heart spent a week in agony trying to decide which of the people in his class he should invite to the pizza party he earned.  The kids were rewarded for things like good behavior with Honey Bucks, and one of the thing they could buy with their accumulated Bucks was a pizza party with two friends during lunch time.  Several of the kids had earned this prize throughout the year, and Carson was one of them.  He had been invited to others pizza parties in the past, and had already bought one for himself several months before, and now that he had enough money to buy another one he was charged with the responsibility of picking two friends to eat with him.  It was near the end of the school year, and he told me one night that there were several kids in his class that had never been invited to a pizza party, or who never earned enough money to buy one for themselves, and he wanted to invite all of them (five-ish, I believe).  So I sent a text to his teacher, and she made it happen.  He has such a beautiful heart.

6 - Middle school band concerts can actually be amazing


Maybe it's because my expectations were so low at the beginning of the year, but I was blown away by the sound that came from our middle school band.  They were awesome!  And if it hadn't been for the fact that we were sitting on hard, backless bleachers, I could have sat and listened to them for quite a bit longer than they actually played.


Kenz worked hard at mastering her instruments this year.  She wanted to play the oboe, so her band instructor started her with a clarinet for the first half of the year (because, apparently, they are quite similar to the oboe and much easier to play), and then switched her when she was ready.  McKenzie brought the oboe home and practiced frequently, and I was so proud of her hard work.

It feels good to accomplish something.


7 - TK looks cute in pigtails


Also, how awesome is it that the K-2nd grade school has little paintings like this up all over their hallways? This school is amazing, and I just loved being there every week.  They encourage the children to be good students, of course, but way more than that, they encourage the children to be good people.  I felt like everyone was on the same page over there... the office staff, the teaching staff, the principle - I just loved being there every week, and I was happy to have Miles there every single day.

8 - It's a delicate balance trying to find music for the car that pleases both TK and me.


TK's music class CD was not one.  I put him in a little music class this year and, let me tell you, it was the highlight of his life.  Every single morning he would wake up and ask, "Is it my moozik cass today?!"  And every single morning except for Mondays I would have to say, "Not today, bud.  Your music class is on Monday." He loved it, of course, and I loved most of it, too.  The teacher was spunky, the songs were fun, but the CD of all the songs made me want to rip my ears off.


Seeing him up on that (tiny) stage was so fun - he loved it and felt so proud to be there.


9 - This girl is stealing my heart lately


She is turning into such an incredible young woman.


Of course, I suppose that she's been turning into an incredible young woman from the day she was born, and perhaps it would be more accurate to say that she's continuing to turn into an incredible adult.


She has landed in a great group of girls.  Drama and fun.  Kenz doesn't do the drama very much.  She mostly stays out of it, but the challenge has been to help her feel sympathetic towards those that do feel the drama.  I get it, because I was quite anti-drama when I was her age, too. I ended up settling with one best girl friend, and tons of boys because, less drama.


But, drama or not, she sure has fun with her wonderful friends.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Fourth of July, Boulder City Style


This year the fourth of July was probably the best fourth of July I can remember.  Who knew that Boulder City puts on such a great day of celebration!?

It started early with several garbage cans full of ice. Full of ice. Eight garbage bins, to be exact, and eighty bags of ice. After the ice was resting peacefully in the cans, they were placed on the sidelines of the road, filled with water, and there they sat... waiting for the parade to begin.

The kids sat there too, waiting for the same thing, and held several contests of 'who can keep their arm in the freezing water the longest.  Carson was the winner and swore he was having fun, but his face told a different story.


Soon the parade began and the kids patiently held their water guns at bay while the 'non water entries' passed them by. 


And then suddenly, without warning, and with seemingly no prompts, the whole street erupted in a giant water fight and seconds later a golf cart came skidding by displaying a waterproof sign that read, "Water Entries" which was the green light to spray your hearts out at anyone you saw and everything you could.


It was insane!


Our freezing cold bins of water ended up providing us with so many laughs as the floats went by.  By the time the parade entries reached us, everyone was already drenched through to their skins, but watching our freezing streams of water hit them by surprise was delightful.


I personally hate cold water and might have been more involved with the actual water fighting had our water been a bit more room temperature, but watching the chaos and occasionally getting blasted by a freezing stream was fun enough for me.


It was also really wonderful to feel like we belonged.  We haven't been here for very long, and yet we have been welcomed into this community with wide open, loving arms.


We can't wait to do this parade again next year!


After the parade was more celebration fun with a BBQ swim party at the Larsons, and then a walk down to the park to watch the incredible firework show that people from all over Vegas came to see. Parking is a nightmare, so I've been told, so how fortunate that we are able to just strap up the shoes and strollers and walk the half mile down to the festivities.


Just before the fireworks started, a group of teenagers belonging to several of our companion families strolled by to say hello before they marched on their way.  I pulled McKenzie closer to me, knowing that the days where she would be sitting next to me on a blanket rather than roaming the crowds with her friends are severely limited.  I love that she wants to be with me today.


The fireworks show was spectacular.


And then we ended the night back up in our own neighborhood with sparklers.


It was a day full of fun, friends, and community and I was so delighted to be a part of it all.