Friday, July 30, 2010

Embrace Book

OK, I couldn't wait anymore! Here's the inside of #3's Embrace book. Everything in the book came from the young women in our ward and our fabulous leaders. They each wrote cards and letters and quoted different songs and scriptures that would help her get through some dark days. I pulled different pieces from each of the letters into picture frames and such to emphasize them. The letters are all tucked into their own envelopes so she can physically pull them out and read them. McKenna's letter included a list of 15 songs that help her feel better when she's down - so I indulged myself a little and took the opportunity to burn those songs to a CD to add into the book as well. I did the same with the other songs people gave her and put a separate playlist on a different CD in the back of the book. It was fun to see the project keep evolving along the way.

The book itself was a brainstorm I came up with on my own for once. It's 12 inches tall and the pages alternate between 7" and 5" wide to give it a great layered affect. All the coordinating double-sided paper was from a nifty little package I bought from Scrapbook Steals last year. The picture frames and alphabet letters came from the same kit and were a dream to work with. #1 was my design consultant, as usual, and she even added in all the doodles to help dress it up and fill in the empty spaces. I'm so completely thrilled with how it turned out! I had the whole thing spiral bound at Office Max and I hope it's something she will treasure always. She even took it to her mom's house so M could read it too. Love that!

I know the images here are small. You can see them better here.

Week in Review 7/22/10

We're desperately trying to get back on track here. For the most part we're back to a normal summer schedule, with plenty of play time. This particular week was a great one too. I was able to take #1 to go get her driver's license and she had her first few outings ALL ON HER OWN. (yikes) We took the littles out for a spin on the lake Friday night and went back again Saturday with all the boys + Chandler. East Canyon was definitely more crowded than we like ... and plan to go back to our mid-week boating schedule. Church on Sunday was awesome and we delivered a 'heart attack' to M that afternoon, to remind her that we love her.

Monday I took #2 + Chandler to the airport in hopes of getting them on a flight to Long Beach to visit Pops. There were 23 seats still available on the flight ... they were numbers 25 and 26 on the standby list. Tight - but somehow they made it on the first try. Yay jetBlue! Tuesday brought hiking with the Scouts. Wednesday I was finally able to finish up #3's book and give it to her. #1 chose the title "Embrace" ... because the whole book is like a big hug. :D I loved watching her reactions as she read through the book. She was really touched by how thoughtful her peers had been - it even made her cry. Twice. That's big. I count it as a huge success and will post more detailed pictures of the pages for you later. The week wrapped up with multiple trips to Top It to redeem our Groupons. Yum.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Family Props to Cam

Check out how cool my nephew is! This is Cameron Wood coming off that 6 foot jump. He's seriously the coolest kid I know. Love you Cam!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tough Love

Friday was ... TOUGH.

There was a knot in my stomach roughly the size of Texas. I knew it. I knew I was being lied to. I finished my shift with jetBlue and called my sweet Hubby. "Hon, I've got to bust her today. How should I do it?" This is never a good way to start a conversation, but it was unavoidable. I was seing red and was risking a full-fledged transformation into Psycho-Mom.

My sweet little new-driver's-license-holding-thinks-she's-so-much-smarter-than-mom of a daughter tried to pull the wool way, WAY down over my oh-so-wise-x-ray-vision-mother eyes and I just couldn't pretend to be that dumb, not for anyone. I've been trying really hard the last couple of weeks to - to loosen my grip a little and give her more freedom. She's sixteen after all and if I'm supposed to be able to let go, so to speak, when she's 18 and graduated ... it's reasonable to bend a little more here and there right now.

HOWEVER ... in light of all my recent efforts to give her those little, and sometimes not so little, bits of extra freedom, it hurt that much more when she took advantage in every way possible.

She really hurt me.

She broke my heart.

And now, I'm tagged the meanest mom on the block ... for what? For calling her on her lies? For expecting her to be where she says with whom she told me, obeying the very clearly stated driving restrictions quoted to us by very creepy man at DMV 4 times in the last 2 months?

Yeah. I know. I have huge expectations, don't I?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Week in Review 7/15/10

It was about time for some downright happy moments! After what seemed like FOREVER ... we finally got had all the kidlets under one roof again, well almost. (#2 was still in Wyoming) Hubby and I had been really anxious about how the youngest 3 were, emotionally speaking. We hadn't seen them since D's service and had no idea how they were coping with everything. It was a relief to finally have them walk in the door and know we were going to have them for a whole week.

They were ... just fine. A little tender around the edges, but that was all. We planned an afternoon at the library ... a favorite for everyone. We love the Salt Lake City Main Library. It really is a place you could spend the whole day in. The architecture is amazing and there is always something fun going on there. We split up and each went to find our own treasure trove of books to take home. Saturday was a real treat too! We got to spend the morning at the Jordan River Temple where our niece was sealed to her husband and beautiful wee baby. It was a really emotional day for everyone - but very uplifting. #2 met us at home just after we finished for the day and a smidge after that, #1 left us to go to the Justin Beiber concert. Oy.

It felt so good to get everyone back on track. We played and laughed and ate loads of watermelon. I was also able to make some great headway on a book I was putting together for #3. Since she had suffered two losses so close together, I had all the young women from our ward send me letters, lyrics, scriptures or quotes that would help her find some peace. The leaders all contributed as well and before you knew it I had a whole pile of 'pick-me-ups' for her. I scrounged through all my stashes of paper to get inspired for layout options and finally came up with something that was truly beautiful. I'll post pics of the completed projects in my next week in review. I love how it all turned out!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ooh-la-la-de-da!!! A CD Release Concert

I'm buying my tickets for this today! I've loved Mindy's songs based on faith and the gospel and am thrilled that she's exploring a new sound that is still completely appropriate for my whole family to listen to. She seems like she'd be so much fun and she even came and danced in the aisle with us at the last concert we went to. If you're in the area and want to have a fun night out with the girls ... go get your tickets here. It looks like there's still plenty of space left, but it won't last much longer.

All About Your Heart

I almost get sick from watching this sweet little girl spin around so much, but I love the song and am dying to make a tribute video for my daughter with it - something I can give her when she graduates from high school or something. Enjoy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Week in Review 7/8/10

The reality of what has happened is starting to settle in now. We tried to have a normal day Friday and #1 and I did some running around together. We popped in and out of a few shops and I even gave blood at a local drive. It struck me as we were walking by the Red Cross trailer that it was the smallest way I could help someone in need that day - but may really save someone's life. It felt good to make some kind of contribution to the medical world after last week.

Saturday morning we stood by family tradition and attended the neighborhood 4th of July breakfast in hubby's home ward. My father-in-law, Sam, had actually been serving in their bishopric when the breakfast was first initiated some 30-ish years ago. We picked Mom up on the way knowing it would be difficult for her to be there - knowing it was another tribute to Sam to go. She did great though. She was able to catch up with a lot of old friends and seemed to talk about the events of the week with ease. She is my hero.

The afternoon was spent at D's memorial services and we were really touched by the stories that were shared about him there. It was actually a celebration of his life and focused quite a bit on the music he loved. The highlight of the service for us was getting to see Little D ... not sure when we'll see him again. I sure love that little guy.

The rest of the weekend was getting hubby and #2 ready for Scout camp. They left for the Carlisle Ranch in Wyoming early Monday morning for a week of fly fishing, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and aviation. You should have seen the stack of waivers we had to sign away on. Yikes. I can't take another tragedy right now. No sir!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Week in Review 7/1/10

My father-in-law's condition continued to decline Friday and Saturday. His breathing became more and more labored. We were all told that this was the end.

Now, at the same time, my step-children's step-dad, D, was also struggling with cancer. He was diagnosed last August and had been through chemo and radiation, but the cancer kept spreading. He had been admitted to the hospital the week prior and was now back home with the news that he may only have a few days to a week left. So when the phone rang around 4:30 am Sunday morning we weren't sure what the news would be, but we knew it wouldn't be good.

It was hubby's parents' number. His dad was gone.

Monday morning around 10 am there was a call from the other house. D was gone.

Two men.
Two fathers gone.

Tuesday afternoon my mom arrived. She was planning a visit anyway, but it was sad that there was so much tragedy surrounding her few days here. The rest of the week held viewings for both and the service for my father-in-law. We tried to keep the kids' spirits up by taking a trip out to the Kennecott Copper Mine and Thanksgiving Point. We joked around and laughed about silly things. A quick trip to the park seemed to be refreshing for a few of the kids and Izzy too. The kids even ended up building a monster fort in the basement that they all slept in Tuesday night. We sprinkled in a few store-bought fireworks and yummy treats and tried to enjoy our memories of both men. The service Thursday night was truly beautiful. It made me think of the poem by Linda Ellis again, The Dash. They both did truly admirable things with their dash. They lived and loved and worshipped the Lord with enthusiasm.

What am I doing with my dash???

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Frozen Watermelon Treats

I love watermelon in the summer! It always reminds me of the 4th of July and my dear friends in Provo. We buy seedless, less mess, melons and cube them for easy single servings. Of course, my favorite way to eat it is frozen. I'll put a plastic bowl of watermelon cubes in the freezer when I'm starting to crave it, wait about half an hour before eating it. The melon will have small ice crystals all over and each bite will be a slushy treat. I've found it actually makes not-so-ripe melons taste much sweeter too.

Week in Review 6/24/10

The last day of girls' camp was ... short. I got up around 6 am to start packing up my stuff. We had torn down our makeshift kitchen area the night before, so the bulk of our work was going to be getting the girls up and ready ... fed and packed - yes, it was like moving mountains. All in all, it took about 5 hours start to finish. We had a few minutes to take some group pictures and then pulled out and headed home. I was lucky enough to only have one person ride with me, a sweet girl named Malati from Nepal. I really connected with her, perhaps because my mom had also emigrated from her homeland. It was interesting to learn that they both had misconceptions about what life in the U.S. would be like, based on Hollywood's portrayal in films. We talked about things like arranged marriages, education, job opportunities and divorce. I love this girl!

After getting all the troops to their own homes safe and sound, we quickly unpacked, washed up and tried to start and finish Father's Day. Luckily, hubby was more than happy to offer up gift ideas for the littles. The kids all got up early Sunday to decorate before breakfast. We made him a hearty meal of eggs, sausage and country potatoes, then let him open all his presents before we got ready for church. We had to split the family later so hubby's kids could spend part of the day with their step-dad, D, and we went to my in-laws to share hugs and kisses with Grandpa, who hadn't been doing so well. He was definitely acting strange when we got there and seemed even more tired than usual. He wouldn't get out of bed to sit with the kids, so we spent most of our time in the bedroom with him. The following nights he was so agitated that his kids needed to come and help care for him over night. They paired up and took turns each evening allowing my sweet mother-in-law to have a much-needed break.

Growing old certainly doesn't look easy. I'll admit I'm not looking forward to it ... at all.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Easier said - by Someone Else

Love and hard times

The light at the edge of the curtain
is the quiet dark
The bedroom breathes in clicks and clocks
The heart's uneasy, it can't relax
your hand takes mine
Thank God I found you in time
Thank God I found you in time
Thank God I found you

~Paul Simon

These next few posts are going to get more difficult. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Week in Review 6/17/10

June 11 through the 17th was ALL about camping. It started out with Webelo's camp in Millcreek Canyon, admittedly a nice change from my Bear troop. There was a 2 mile hike and lots of classes on things like how to shoot a BB gun and the fine art of archery. The weather cooperated and the boys were great - can't complain too much about that. Of course ... Saturday, dear hubby was kind enough to drive me up to our girls' camp site to see if it had flooded with all the seasonal rain. It was a mucky mess and I wasn't sure how we'd get through the next week.

Of course, we got the final word that camp was on, regardless of the muddy conditions, so I started piling all our gear in the living room while dearest went to pick up the trailer. The 4th years went up Monday morning and the rest of us followed on Tuesday. Lucky for us, the sun worked some magic and really dried out the area a lot before we got there. Hubby came up with us to help us get all set up. He picked the best spots for the tents, we needed 5, and the girls did most of the tent pitching themselves. The Nepali girls who came with us were beautiful and a pleasure to get acquainted with. Of course there was an immediate issue between my own daughters, complete with tears, but it wouldn't be camp if everyone got along the whole time, would it? We did our best to resolve it and got on with the day.

We started our series of devotionals, which would take us on an imaginary cruise starting in California and ultimately ending at Christmas Island. Each day the girls answered a series of questions about standards to find out the next destination. We talked about things like music, movies, modesty and dating. Each island we stopped at also had a craft to learn. The first day we made hemp bracelets, then beaded fabric necklaces and the last day we made wire rings with stone embellishments. I'll try to post more pics of the crafts with instructions soon - just remember that time flies around here.

For the most part, the weather was on our side ... but there was one morning when all the tent zippers had frozen closed. We actually had to poor hot water on one of them to get the girls out. Good times. Great memories!

Wish Granted ... Fortunes for All

I've had so many people asking where I purchased the fantabulous giant fortune cookie for my nephew ... that I thought I'd share with everyone. I mean, come on, I'm three weeks behind and haven't given you any fun stuff for ages. I figure I owe it to you. :)

So here it is! For the best fortune cookies around town, go to Tankinz Noodle Manufacturing. Sounds crazy, I know, but trust me. I called the morning I was leaving town and the man who took my call was MORE than accommodating. He had me email in the specs and seriously had my gigantic custom cookie all ready and packaged up by 1:00pm. Now, I'm sure they don't like to be pushed to the limit like that ... but how amazing that they were so happy to work with me. The gift really was a hit and was completely unexpected. I love surprises like that. They get me all giddy.

They have traditional fortune cookies, or chocolate dipped, in regular, jumbo and giant sizes. Just choose the type of cookie you need, determine how many, create your custom sayings and then figure out shipping. Easy-peasy. They are seriously delicious too.