Wednesday, May 31, 2017

McKenzie's End Of Year Accomplishments (Catch up Post)

Ever since she was tiny I've known to expect great things from McKenzie.

She is packed to the brim with potential. Sometimes I take that for granted... I know I do. But even so, she keeps on shining in everything she does.

She was selected to apply for membership into the National Junior Honors Society because her teachers felt she was a remarkable example of the 5 pillars they stand for: Scholarship, Service, Leadership, Character, and Citizenship, and after writing a beautiful essay she was inducted into it here at the end of her 7th grade year.

In the same month she was preparing for the end-of-year band concert and told us that she had a 'surprise' for us. She felt so nervous about this concert, and I couldn't understand why. Until the concert started and I saw her beautiful self stand and walk to the mic to MC the entire concert.

Her speaking voice was so clear and confident and the Proud Mama Tears were Right There.

She has done so well in learning to play that Oboe. She's a hard worker, and an example to me that hard work pays off.

Next year she will be jumping into choir, which I love, but I am so happy she had the experience of band.

The end of year awards assembly was next.

Each teacher selects one boy and one girl from each grade to receive a special class award for showing all-around character, and McKenzie received two of those awards. One from her librarian (and was awarded a kindle):

and one from her science teacher. She also received a citizenship award for having the highest marks in citizenship for two years in a row.

The awards are wonderful and I'm happy for her that she is able to see her hard work paid off with accolades. I hope, however, that she understands that the awards she holds in her hands are just things. Pieces of paper. A beautiful pin. A Kindle Fire. I hope she understands that the true award is in herself. It's in the growth she has experienced, in the knowledge she has gained, in the strengthening of her abilities to be persistent and committed. Because not all hard work is recognized and not all growth is measured. So, to my Mama eye, I see right through all those pieces of paper and see her heart. And that is when my own heart swells with pride.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Scrambled Thoughts XX

1) Everyone wants to hold Eliza

I get it. I do too. She's pretty special.

2) My Kids Have No Idea How Lucky They Are

Not everyone has awesome grandparents, after all.

3) 5:00 AM doesn't feel like 5:00 AM when you're getting ready to go to Disneyland.

These guys had to be at the school by 5am in order to catch the bus to Disneyland. They didn't seem too put out when their alarms went off, and their eyes don't even look sleepy. I'm pretty sure I'd be saying a different thing if the camera had been turned onto me.

4) My Kids Struggle

Maybe that's not a nice thing to say. It's probably not. But it's true. They struggle. Let's be honest, I understand that it's a little difficult to put things away after you use them - I struggle with that, too. But to put it almost away? That just doesn't make any sense to me at all. If the chocolate powder, for example, belongs IN the cupboard, does it really save much effort to put it NEXT TO the cupboard? Apparently it does.

5) You Know That Feeling of Staring at a Sleeping Baby?

I hope I never forget that feeling. I'm pretty sure it's the definition under the word: peaceful.

6) My Camera Always Seems to be Out These Days.

Every time she looks at me I feel like I want to capture the moment forever. Which is kind of funny if you think about it... can you imagine if that urge stayed forever? But it's not funny at all if you don't think about it. And sometimes life is way more about feeling than it is about thinking.

Can't you just feel the softness of those little cheeks?

She's just like a perfect little baby doll. But so much better.

7)  Everyone loves a cute 4-year-old.

That's why McKenzie used Timothy as a key player in the video she had to make to run for Student Council President. Timothy interviewed her and said adorable things like, "Vote for McKenzie Alder for StuCo President." And at the end even disappeared off camera singing "What can I say except you're welcome," from Moana.

8) Also, we made posters.

Because posters help you get elected into StuCo, too. She worked pretty hard on all of this, and I worked pretty hard too at not posting cute pictures like this up on my Instagram feed. Because apparently that is quite against the rules and would have disqualified her from running.

9) Do you Ever Dream About Hula Dancing?

Because I'm pretty sure Eliza does.

10) Never Trust a Teenager to do your Makeup.

Or, maybe I should say never trust MY teenager to do your makeup. Unless you want to go somewhere looking like this. I knew they were up in my bathroom doing 'makeovers'. I had even given them the makeup. They came down the stairs hiding their faces and on the count of three turned and looked at me at the same time. I was expecting something beautiful, and when I saw these faces I let out an audible gasp that was somewhere between horror and surprise. They thought it was hilarious.

11) Eating Lunch in Costume is the Way to Go

Especially if you have a good friend doing it with you.

12) These Smiles are Going to Turn Into Giggles Soon.

I just know it.

13) Sometimes it's Really Hard to be the Grownup.

These kids work hard on the swim team. And twice a year when the bubble goes up and then comes down on our local pool, they have to go into Henderson to practice. It's a couple of weeks of lots of driving and late nights, but the kids seem to really love it. On the last night of practice, I took them all out to the Cheesecake factory for some, well, cheesecake, and they laughed and joked and acted just like I remember acting when I was a kid. I found myself oscillating between joining in their antics and putting a stop to them. I guess that's what adulting is like sometimes.

14)  School is almost over. That means Field Day!

And Field Day means Otter-Pops. And sweaty kids. And smiles.

15) You know that feeling you get when your child invites you to come to their recorder concert?

I totally had that feeling. Recorders are not the most delightful instrument to listen to. So I didn't have high hopes for this concert. But I love Miles, and was excited to hear him play, so we packed up the family and sat on the hard benches to listen.

I had been totally wrong. It was absolutely fantastic and absolutely fun. The songs were funny and the kids were happy. There was even a dance at the end. It ended up being a most favorite night.

16) If You're Making Dinner and you See Your 4-Year-Old pass the window as a Turtle...

... you should stop making dinner and grab your camera. Because it will make you laugh every time you look at the pictures.

17)  Remember How We Started This Post?

Everyone wants to hold Eliza. And I've made it a point to always say yes when I hear one of her big brothers or sisters ask, "Can I hold Eliza?" Even if they're not done with their homework. Even if they've been argumentative and disobedient. Even if it's long past bedtime.

Because babies don't stay babies for long. and before we know it no one will be asking to hold her at all because she'll be running around all on her own.

But for now, we'll dress her like American Girl dolls and snuggle her close every chance we get.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Carson's Arrow of Light

If there is a plate of food on Carson's lap, he's in his happy place. If there are handsome boys on a wooden bridge with delicious light surrounding them, I'm in my happy place.

This was Carson's Arrow of Light ceremony where he bridged from a Cub Scout into an 11-year-old scout. He got to walk across this bridge to symbolize the transition, and then sign his name along with all of the other scouts who have crossed over it for the past many, many years.

Carson is so lucky to have a great group of boys his age all doing this with him.

I will never forget watching sad Carson in his first Pinewood Derby. He had worked hard on his car and sat surrounded by boys his age who were cheering and excited and all together. But Carson seemed alone and friendless. I don't know why friends in Henderson were hard for him to come by, but days into our new life in Boulder City, Carson had a 'team'. He had a 'pack'. He felt loved.

And as I thought about that little 8-year-old Carson just coming into Cub Scouts and watched that almost 11-year-old Carson just leaving Cub Scouts it was easy to see the growth and the confidence that have developed over the years. And it was beautiful.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Family Hike

Did you know that there is a mountain not to far away from us? It gets snow in the wintertime and has pine trees! After an hour drive from our house you wouldn't even know you were standing on a mountain plopped down right in the middle of a desert. (Or, maybe you would say 'plopped up' since, you know, mountains tend to rise from the ground instead of fall from the sky.)

Miles took the challenge of jumping over every fallen branch he could find.

And whenever they found a good climbing limb I was more than happy to let them stop and enjoy it for a while.

Up and up and up all the trees they went.

Little Eliza hardly made a peep the whole way up.

The light coming through the trees (and Miles's hair) kept me calling the children for more and more pictures.

And they must have been in really good moods because they kept coming.

Carson and Miles are so very different from each other.

And that makes it hard for them to get along sometimes. But how lucky they are to have each other in their lives, teaching each other how to love and to appreciate someone who is so different than you. They do a really great job with that lesson sometimes.

Up at the top of our mountain trail, Eliza and I talked and smiled at each other while the rest of the family scampered up rocks and boulders and a tiny little trickle of a waterfall. Everyone had fun.

And I couldn't help but bask in all this cute pinkness going on.

It's been a while since I've had baby pinks in my life.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Camping and Lake Day

We didn't get to the campsite until well after sunset. The light was gone and the children were hungry and for a while I wasn't sure we'd made the right decision in spontaneously deciding to sleep out in the woods desert. But eventually the fire was built and the children were fed and the tent was functional and ready for sleepers. And miraculously, all the stress of creating that quaint little scene pictured above seemed to be completely lost on the children who ended up feeling like it was one of the best nights ever. So, I suppose we could consider that a success.

We had decided to drive an hour away to a campsite that looked remarkably like Afghanistan (not that I've ever been to Afghanistan, of course, but I have seen pictures and movies... so...). I suppose the desert has it's perks, but beautiful camping isn't one of them. It was the only campsite that was available within the short distance we were willing to travel for one night, and it was located right next to a portion of Lake Mead that we hadn't explored before, so we went.

The following morning we put on our swimming suits, packed up our campsite, and went out in search of a beach. There was nothing within walking distance, so we hopped in the car. There didn't seem to be much within a short driving distance either, so we drove to the nearest docking point and explored the options of renting a boat for the day, or wave runners, or a kayak... but everything was taken, or too expensive, or rather unmanageable with a brand new baby.

The helpful workers at the dock informed us that the nearest beach for playing was located in Boulder City - about an hour away from where we were currently standing, and seven minutes from home. Well, then. Okay.

So it ended up feeling a bit silly to drive out an hour away to a rather lousy campsite just to put up our tent in the dark and take it back down first thing in the morning to drive back home. But, there we were.

These boys hadn't been getting along all that well, but it was amazing to see what a little bit of outside playing did to bring them together. Next time they start fighting I'm just going to throw them in the back of the van and drive them out to the lake.

McKenzie, on the other hand, didn't have quite so much fun after a sad consequence of Not Being Allowed in the Water for the Rest of the Day was sentenced.

She had asked me if she could swim out to the buoy, and after my mind flashed back to that time she almost drowned in Lake Powell (seriously) and that time when my dad told a story of his friend drowning in a lake while they were growing up, I gave her a strong 'no'.

So she went and secretly asked Dad. Who said 'yes'.

When she got back from her long (frightening for me) swim out to the buoy, the wrongdoing was discovered and her poor mad little heart took a while to soften again. Hopefully the lesson of Mom and Dad are a Team sunk in a bit deeper.

The way Timothy is looking up at Brian in this next picture melts my heart a bit.

These pictures trigger the thought for me that our children are always watching.

Which can be scary thought because not all of the things I do and say fit in the 'I'm proud of that' box. But it can also be a beautiful thought because this day they saw, whether consciously or subconsciously, a mother and a father working together through the stress of life to create a night and a day of beautiful outdoor magic for their children.