Monday, November 29, 2010

Will Goes Double Digits

Last week Will celebrated the big One-Oh. We had a family party for him the night before where he had cake & ice cream and got some much-needed clothes, and much-wanted toys.
I was leaving town on his actual birthday, so I made him another cake and bought candles and ice cream and Rob took over everything else. Rob got treats to his class at school. Rob fielded RSVPs and was a human GPS to lost parents. And he put on a party for 16 or so fifth- and sixth-graders on a Friday night!
They ate five pizzas, two cakes and ice cream. They played football in the front yard. They watched Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Then they had a forty-minute pillow fight downstairs in the basement. I'm told it was pretty epic. Thankfully there was no more than some superficial scratches from zippers.
Will had a great time and everyone else survived.
Here are 10 things I love about Will:
1. He is the best and most willing snuggler of the kids
2. Will's japanime dance
3. His diligence; he's had to work hard at homework for years; he now really knows how to work
4. Will has the Lego aptitude. He made the Star Wars Republic Attack Shuttle in a matter of hours. Would have been done sooner if we'd only let him stay up all night!
5. His voice. He has lovely tone and we're getting to hear fun snippets from his choir this year. I'm really looking forward to the Christmas concert.
6. His violin playing. He hates to practice, but when he plays he is very expressive and looks like he's losing himself in the music.
7. He knows how to relate to girls. He gets along with his sister, has several friends who are girls, and I love his protective big brotherness of the girl in our carpool.
8. He is observant. Will has always noticed things about other people, places and things and he's very astute in the conclusions he draws.
9. His creativity. Will can make up stories from one sentence to the next. You think he's going to ask for the salt when you find yourself in imminent danger on another planet.
10. He is my biggest, blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy. I sure do love you, Will-O!
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

To Nerdly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before....

A Halloween Guest Blog from the Professor

Because we are evil to the core, your humble Professor and Mary Ann stay up nights thinking of all the different ways we can ruin our kids socially. We eat vegetarian fare from the Moosewood Cookbook, we listen to Brahms and Faure and Stawberry Switchblade (only MA on that last one), and we do not do TV.
Our final fiendish plot (inspired by Michael Chabon and Dr.Who) is to put our kids in our own nosatalgia warp. Instead of exposing them to Avatar (loathesome) and Justin Bieber (what the @#$% ?), we hook them up with Bill and Ted (Prof), The Scarlet Pimpernel (MA) and, as can be seen in these Halloween shots, we have introduced them to Star Trek. Awkward Family Photos, here we come!

It all started with Sebi. He is half Vulcan, it seems, and on any given day he already looks uncannily like the young Spock in the most recent Star Trek movie. All he needed for the full transition: some ears, of course, and the appropriate haircut by our favorite BYU Barber-ella, La Gwen. From there, Will identified with bossy bad-boy Kirk, Maddie loved the hot, brilliant new Uhura. Joss just had to go along with things, although he probably would have rather dressed up as Mater from "Cars."

As always, The best laid plans of mice and parents go astray. Check out Maddie. I did not realize that my 12-year old could work a polyester sheath dress and boots like that. She came out of her room on Halloween morning in that mini-number and it occurred to me: she is going to high school dressed like that. My 12-year old. Wearing that. Against my better judgement, I took her to school like that. Before I left, I predicted to MA that we would be getting phone calls from boys.

The call came. That night. From a boy.

So much for the wisdom of the Nerd-Parents.

Friday, November 12, 2010

St. Martin's Lanterns

[Curtis appraises his Chihuly-style lantern. ]In honor of St. Martin's day (November 11th) we had the third annual BYU lantern crafting and Laternenumzug. We first celebrated this in Berlin with the communist party and a local congregation in 2006 and then brought it back to the students. Here is one that friends from Vienna attended this year.
This year's group was an enthusiastic and calm 40-50 or so people. They took the lantern making very seriously. Rob is learning what to order from Labbe and this year we had round, rectangular and freeform options. If I get more pictures I'll post them, but the family lanterns included a fish, a new hedgehog, a tie fighter, a mushroom, and Strongbad. Students made amazing cutouts, a rainbow, an elephant, and all sorts of things. It generally seems like a crazy thing to do just before Will's birthday/Thanksgiving/the run up to Christmas, but it is such a charming tradition.
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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Teton Canyon

After two days of driving, the children decreed that we were sticking close to Driggs on Saturday. We sent them off to the park in the morning and then drove up Teton Canyon to find a picnic spot for lunch. Our camera had quit by then, but we found the most gorgeous place by a stream about this size with similar trees (this was taken at Mormon Row the afternoon before). We climbed rocks and crossed the stream, ate lunch and drove home at nap time.

, While I stayed with Joss, the professor took Maddie, Will and Sebi out to the dollar store and then out for shakes at the soda fountain downtown. After more park and dinner, we watched Galaxy Quest with the kids and A Single Man after they went to bed. When we asked Sebi his favorite part of the weekend, he dreamily said "Family Dollar! I wish we had a Family Dollar at home." Uh, Sebi, we do have a Family Dollar . . . I guess I'll pull that out when we're having a staycation.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Grand Teton National Park

We began at a beautiful new visitors' center at Moose. Joss entertained himself here for over an hour. He loved these screens on the floor that played scenery from the park. Between that and the pet-the-mammals' fur displays at his height, he thought it was made for him (poor deprived child has never been to a McDonald's playplace, but I've been scarred; stories for another post).
Oh, and they had horns and antlers to try on.
The kids all got their junior ranger badges again. Maddie was somewhat reluctant, but she joined in when she found out this was her last year and perhaps her last chance.
Then we had a picnic and went on a hike. We hiked from String Lake back down the northwestern side of Jenny Lake. It was through a burn area, but it was stunning.
[click to enlarge]
We headed back when it started raining rather than pushing on to Hidden Falls and we were so glad we did! While we did escape the rain, Joss fell asleep and Rob and I had to carry him back tag teaming it to the car.Poor bloke, having to keep up with the rest of us.
We finished with a drive by Mormon Row because it was there.
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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Driggs & Jackson Hole

Over UEA weekend, our friend Monica offered us use of the family cabin in Island Park. We were going to take Daniela back to see Yellowstone. But Daniela couldn't go and at the eleventh hour, the cabin was sold, so we went to Driggs Idaho instead, excited to see something new instead of retracing our summer steps. Driggs has a cute downtown and there was a park across the street from the condo, so we were set.
On our way to Grand Teton from Driggs, we stopped in Jackson Hole to run around.
The professor is the only one who had ever been before. Kids were impressed by the great antler arches and we vowed we'd come back someday. Someday!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

See If You Can Do Better

I realize that many people are concerned about privacy here in the blogosphere. Even some of you, gentle readers. Some of you have private blogs. Some of you have code names for yourselves and your families. Some only use first initials for family members. And some of you don't talk about the children or just don't blog.
But here we're letting it all hang out and this is why: anyone who is still reading this has to have some connection to us or have some really awful cable choices. The only of our stalkers we don't know are the ones who live in New Zealand and if you guys want to come up here and kidnap our kids, you're going to have a large outlay in airfare just to begin. In fact, that might qualify you as better, more concerned, parents than we are right there.
The other reason I don't worry too much is that anyone who reads this does not particularly want our kids. You probably read this so that you can heave a sigh of relief and go back to your own set of trials renewed and refreshed. Case in point:
Some Sundays are warm and others are cold. Some Sundays we have plenty of time for a big breakfast, and other times we are grabbing plain bread and bananas as we rush out the door. One thing never changes, however -- Will complaining about his church clothes. It really doesn't matter what he has or what is clean or whether it fits. He'll find some reason to throw a hissyfit about it. If he can't complain about the clothes, then it's his hair he'll meltdown over. This Sunday Rob laid out clothes on the boys' bed and came into the living room. He sat down on the couch and started counting down: "five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . " and as if on cue, we heard Will in his room say "I AM NOT WEARING THAT SHIRT!!"
Will looked a little sheepish when he found out why we were all laughing in the living room. I expect he'll have forgotten by this weekend, though!
Lest you think we only pick on one kid around here, check out what happened while we were out for an hour on Sunday evening. This is why you don't want to hide the Halloween candy in the top of the closet. This is also why you don't want to hang from the curtain rod when you are twelve! Yes, it was Maddie who did this; not our first grader (not that Sebi wouldn't have done it if given a chance). So when we went to the temple on Tuesday, we took the candy with us in the minivan. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Projects for Joss

After some time as relationship counselor, I am pleased to announced that my camera and laptop are together again! Here are some of the goodies I found inside once I downloaded everything. I lured Joss outside with his lawnmower and some candy to take pictures of the things I knit for him recently.
First I made this sweater. For some reason Joss doesn't have many clothes in his size. I don't know if I gave away all of his brothers' or if they'd been chewing on them and I tossed them out. In any case, he needed some clothes for fall and for church, and so I made this out of the supply of yarn I inherited from Oma. The pattern comes from Minnow Knits, Too and they were right: it looks more complicated than it is. I don't usually do patterns, but this one was very easy to keep track of.
Rob informed me that Joss needed a hat while we were out of town, so I made this for him with no pattern, yarn on hand, and one circular needle. Rob insisted that it had to cover his ears, so there it is. We'll see if he ever wears it.
Finally, I made this one for him, using leftovers for the stripes and the same pattern my mother used to use for John's sweaters. I altered it to make it a rollneck, but I confess I still haven't figured out how to keep the bottom hem from rolling up to his belly button. Perhaps a few rows of ribbing right near the end with a little roll below it?
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