Monday, December 31, 2012

Potato Cannon

This year Will's science teacher got them working on their projects early (for which we're so grateful, since by the last week of January we're slogging around without Papa during Sundance).
 Will decided that he wanted to do the most expensive and dangerous project he could find and he came up with the potato cannon. Above are the items he decided to try shooting off in it. The rocks are to show scale (I don't understand how, but that's what I'm told).
 This project required Grandpa Shumway's help when buying the materials, and then after the first attempts didn't work, we went to Uncle Kelly. Once Bulk got in on it, things started happening. Oranges exploded. Hands got burned. Shed doors got blown off. Dents were made.
After causing enough destruction in the test runs, they took the rest of our produce and headed out to the local park.
 They did well with potatoes, and the Mexican jell-o looked like liquid fireworks, but the long distance winner was the lemon which made it a whopping 684 feet! It was an impressive stunt. Rob's taken it out a couple of times since to fire off for cousins and friends.

Monday, December 10, 2012

More of the Beaoo'ful School

 This one looks innocuous -- something about building roads and trains, but the caption informed us that Joss and the girl were actually playing some game about a cat and his owner. He appears to be saying "Miao. Talk to the paw!"
 Doing a puzzle.
 A train building party.
Lincoln Logs! This second session he learned about bread. We each got a copy of a DVD of the class walking us through all of the steps to making bread. There were four groups, all wearing white, paper bag "baking hats" and Joss was in the first, which had to grind the wheat. Since he's ground wheat with me at home on occasion, he was an old hand at it here.
Joss is now on winter vacation for the next month, and it may kill us both not to have a couple of hours apart each day! I'm looking for playmates!

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Gingerbreadapalooza: Suburban Edition

 Last year's gingerbread church looked good, but Rob and I noticed that we were spending too much time decorating without the children and they spent too much time having a Nerf war and watching Elf. So this year, in order to ensure encourage more participation from the kidlets, we decided to build an entire subdivision.
Each person got their own gingerbread house, chose their own designated color, decorated their own house (and got their own exhausted, crabby mother who had baked five batches of gingerbread and spent too much time in the kitchen).
But the end result was a lot of fun, right?! And the permitting process went lickety split, if you'll pardon the pun.
Rob's house is orange; Maddie's is red; Will's is green; Sebi's is blue; Joss's is yellow; I got pink.
Everyone participated and decorated their own house. Joss wanted to decorate everyone's house, and wanted to use all the colors. Certain children ran off with Rob's orange candies before he could decorate, but he made the best of it and he's does a masterful job of royal icing trim.
Meanwhile the Isaaks were only building three structures between four of them. Theirs won the beautiful and stately award (a saltbox), and the creative award (a Mexican church and taco shop which was the best use of ribbon candy I've ever seen in 35 years). Here are some pictures of their creations too. Curtis also showed us this great method of filling a pastry bag without getting royal icing all over your hand, the bag, the spoon, the counter . . . You can see a video of it here.
There is the whole cul-de-sac, and you can see a bit of all of them! I'm terribly relieved that hurdle has been jumped -- now we just have to put away the chair that Joss brings over to the china cabinet several times a day so he can climb up and peek in the windows.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Adventsingen 2012

 There was an Adventsingen this year! It was at the DeJong concert hall on campus. The Powers That Be are still looking for someplace more permanent now that the Provo Tabernacle is not going to be an option. This year Rob was the MC, and he and Will sang in the Männerchor with Curtis.
Maddie sang in the Frauenchor with Katie and she even went over to BC's house to get "bedirndled" (this is the true event, in my opinion). Joss decided of his own accord that he wanted to wear the too small lederhosen not only to the Adventsingen, where that is regrettable, but understandable, but also to church, where that is just . . .  well . . . not a great fashion statement.
I spent one more hour of my life wrassling a small wound-up boy wearing that sweater while alphorns and hackbretts played. It is one annual tradition that I won't be sorry to see the tail end of. (Wrassling the kid -- not the Adventsingen.)

Monday, December 03, 2012

Holiday Update 2012

We hope this letter finds you and yours well. We’ve had a blessedly busy & typical year, but here is the short form for your perusal and enjoyment:

Mary Ann has spent this year jogging, writing, and reading and discussing texts for a Gendering Mormonism class. She's also spending a lot of time in the car with four kids attending four different schools. MA and Rob enjoyed a week in Iceland for a conference and their anniversary, and she was first to spot a puffin. Rob is cranky that her one academic article made it onto a class syllabus at Claremont College, while none of his have yet.

Rob has already received his best presents this year: a publishing home for the book he's editing, and a finished manuscript for his second. As icing on the cake, he was awarded BYU's General Education Professorship this fall, which was lovely recognition for his work with students and his department. In his spare time, Rob has been jogging, gardening and singing with primary kids.  He tried fermented shark this year. (“Mmm. Ammonia.”)

Madeline (14) is a whirling dervish of activities. In addition to her intense lineup of classes, Maddie made it onto the JV ballroom team this spring. Between team practices, socials, fundraisers, and swim team, violin, church activities and friends, Maddie is one busy girl! We mostly see her asleep at home.  And the girl reads: she finished War and Peace, Jude the Obscure, Les Miserables, Crime and Punishment, and Hard Times.

Will (12) moved up to middle school this fall. He has continued with the trumpet and the swim team, and started attending chess club. He and Maddie are die-hard Dr. Who fans—nerd cred! He enjoyed two backpack trips with his Dad this summer.Turning 12 has meant that Will can now pass the sacrament at church and he got a suit for his birthday. He's hoping for something more fun for Christmas: lots of snow so he can ski!

Sebastian (8) had a big year. He made it on to the swim team with Maddie and Will in April just after his birthday and right before his baptism. We finally have a kid who loves backstroke and butterfly!  He has continued with piano and Mandarin Chinese and just got his Wolf badge in Cub Scouts. Sebi is one tall dude—he stands eye-to-eye with his third grade teacher. His pursuit in life: to become a great chef. But he hates peppers. 

Joss (4) Rob's father recently called Joss "the exclamation point at the end of your family" and we couldn't think of a more apt description! Joss is raring to go at all times and his fondest hope is to become as big, old, and capable as his siblings. He learned to ride a balance bike, swam until he was absolutely waterlogged, and started BYU preschool with Mr. Brad this year. His catch phrases: “Back when I was a kid…”  and “That’s beaooful.”

We feel so fortunate to have you in our lives, and we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a new year filled with health, peace and joy!

I Objurgate The Centipede

For Thanksgiving, we and our friends each learned a poem to recite to each other. Joss learned this one by Ogden Nash:

I Objurgate The Centipede

I objurgate the centipede
A bug we do not really need.
At sleepy time he beats a path
Straight to the bedroom or the bath
And where you wallop, he is not,
Or if he is, he makes a spot.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Overheard This Week

Will: She's not my friend. She's more of an I-can-tolerate-her-most-of-the-time sort of an acquaintance.
Rob: We don't eat that brown, whole grain rice around here. We only eat the white stuff.
Maddie: You're being riceist!
MA: My montage is taking too long!
Maddie: The subtitles on Sesame Street are really messed up.
MA: Well, you know, Sesame Street is supposed to teach kids to read. So if you can already read well enough to follow the subtitles, perhaps Sesame Street isn't for you.
Joss, walking into the room wearing underwear, after having been told to put some on several times:

Saturday, November 03, 2012

A Bellicose Halloween

 This year the kids all chose their own costumes. Sebastian picked this one off the interwebs, but when it came he was dismayed to find there were no pants with the gladiator costume. He wore it manfully with jammers to the school parade, then borrowed some leggings for trick-or-treating in the cold.
 Maddie had wanted to wear Sebastian's awesome punk rocker jacket for a year. Rob and I were glad to see our hard work get another use.
 Joss was the first to decide -- he'd wanted to be a knight since he'd played dress up at preschool.
 There's Sebastian!
 Will had a hard time deciding if he even wanted to dress up or if he was too old for that sort of thing. I found this online, and it's not a costume -- it's real fight wear. I think he made the right decision from what I can see of his face.
There was wonderful weather and lots of friends and neighbors came by. Everyone was treated out by the end of the evening.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Joss's Beaoo'ful School

 Like all of his siblings before him, Joss is getting to go to the BYU preschool this year. AND he's in Mr. Brad's class, just like Maddie and Sebi. He is pretty excited and hasn't looked back since the year began. This time around, the preschool is decked out with iPads, and once a week or so they send me a picture of something Joss has been doing. Here he is up in the reading treehouse playing with chain links.
 And here he's trying out the knight costume. They have this awesome stage with blue curtains and spotlights over next to the dress ups and he has spent a lot of his center time over there. He decided taht he wanted to be a knight for Halloween as well. He has also spent plenty of time painting and playing with play-doh which I find gratifying. I thought he'd go right over to the computer and never try anything else.
 Here he is grinding cloves and allspice which smelled heavenly. During this section of the school year, his class has been learning about rocks. He's learned about sedimentary rocks, igneous rocks, and metamorphic rocks. This was an activity to explain erosion to the kids. He's been picking up "smoove" rocks to bring into class wherever he goes.
They also have a great playground outside and he's been taking full advantage of that too. The little girl behind him is Mindy and we carpool with her (which is saving me this year!). She has five siblings, a working father and a mother in law school, but her hair is always done and she always has on matching socks and her library book to return. Joss is usually sporting some wicked bedhead and we're lucky to find matching shoes. Lately Mindy has been a zombie as soon as she gets into the car. Her dad said "Oh, so that's why the kids can't play Minecraft any more!"
The other little girl with a scooter is Zinnia. We got to have her family come over and stay with us for three weeks during remodeling at their house. It was a big party and Zinnia was a large part of that. We'd get 7-8 kids bellying up to the counter each morning and feeding the whole posse fruit and toast and cereal was a production. They are back in their house now and we miss all the activity. Joss is incensed that he doesn't have his own flower. He considers it a major oversight on our part.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Howard!

(I love this photo of der Robster. Doesn't he look so distinguished with his silver temples? His public speaking sensei would also be so proud of his eye contact and gesticulation. This is from his presentation in Reykjavik back in May.)
This week the professor was given a big university award, called the General Education Professorship. Here is a link to the list of this year's recipients (I don't know how long this link will work, but I'm going to put it in anyway). I got to go sit on the floor of the Marriott Center with his dad, Roger, and clap for him when his name was read and President Samuelson acknowledged him. Very exciting! And as his dad told him beforehand: "Look out for your mother. Sandy wouldn't miss this." Roger even picked up an extra program for her and I'm sending it off as soon as I figure out the postage.
The award reads: "In recognition of distinguished scholarship, teaching and citizenship at Brigham Young University."
It all reminded me of a story from years ago. My father and a colleague were trying to figure out how to honor someone else in the company. The colleague was, I believe, French/Canadian/Morrocan (he'll have to correct me) and he suggested that they give him "a Howard." "A Howard?" asked my father. "You know, a Howard. It means you give them a play-Q[sic] and a little bit 'o money." So there you have it; Rob got a play-Q and a little bit o' money. His brother-in-law thought that he should ask for a nice sweater like Ty Detmer, but a plaque will have to do!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bear Lake Trip Home

On Monday the kids were back out at the lake and in addition to the usual swimming and shore playing, they got to go out on the inaugural ride with the GTX inflatable, known as Big Mama. Here are Maddie and Will with Ashton. 
One of the uncles (Noah, here) pulls the boat around as fast and wild as they can until you're clinging for dear life. Ashton reached up to get something and he was flipped out into the lake.  He seemed to take it in stride whereas my children would have been scarred by it. Rob took me out for a canoe ride and then Rob, Maddie, Saydi and I went for a swim out to the buoy. It was such a lovely temperature. We had lunch and packed up and cleaned up and said goodbye to the Shumways and started our trip home. This time I wanted to come back through Logan. It was a gorgeous drive through the canyon from Bear Lake to Logan but our car was acting weird and I was nervous we wouldn't make it there.
Thankfully we did, and we made it to see the temple which they were doing a lot of work on. I couldn't believe how long it had been since we'd visited Logan. I think the last time we were here was 2005.
Then we took the kids to the Bluebird restaurant and let them get whatever they wanted at the fountain counter. It was a nice stop and I loved my lime freeze. Will and Sebi each had something called a Double Devil and Rob had this perverse concoction called The Teddy Bear.
My parents came here for some meal on their wedding day since they were married in the Logan Temple. We all got penny candy too.
Then we drove back to the Logan cemetery and looked up our friend Geri's grave. We hadn't been back to see it in seven years either. Just for future reference, they've misspelled both her first and last name in the directory: Jerilyn Hendersoon. (how do you misspell someone's name when it's right there on the headstone?!)
And then we stopped by to visit Mimi's grave in Ogden, too. Joss was pretty confused about where his grandmother was and why we were running around the grass with stones in it, but he'll figure it out eventually. As he was going to bed that night, Sebastian talked about each of the stops and how much he enjoyed them, but said "but I wish we could have just come home." I guess we've raised a car full of hardcore car trippers. It was a very fun weekend.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bear Lake cont.

Sunday we got to attend the Dingle ward. Saydi's mom and dad spoke, which was like winning free tickets to education week (and the best sacrament meeting I've heard in a couple of months). We came home and ate. Oh, we ate so well! I've got several new recipes to try out now. (thanks, Saydi!)
 Each evening we brought out the ukelele and tried to play and sing some songs to each other. Here Rob fingered and Charlie strummed -- he's certainly got the soulful singer looks down.
 Biscuit and Care Bear -- I'm pretty proud of this one because I got Emmeline into her M&S gingham by suggesting that Care Bear wanted to wear the Hello Kitty nightgown. Those dresses were so darling!
 And Joss in his shark shirt is pretty cute too! He has learned how to make the rubik snake into any one of a number of guns. In the absence of the snake he uses his fingers.
And of course the iPad helped to entertain as well . . . Wish I'd thought to take pictures inside too; it is the quintessential lake cabin and was so cozy. People were worried we wouldn't be comfortable, but after camping it felt simply palatial. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bear Lake

Jeff and Saydi invited us up to Bear Lake to see them after their adventurous six months in London. We met up with them in Park City to caravan and we switched around people until we had two cars: McShums and Waylanders. Everyone behaved so nicely on the trip up -- makes me wish we could always sprinkle in a few cousins on car rides! When we arrived, as we were unpacking things and stowing food, Rob helped Emmeline conquer the spiral staircase. It is steep and metal and I thought that she would be stuck on the first floor for the duration, but she got all the way up, and Rob put one Jelly Belly on each step which was enough to motivate her back down. She had no problem with it the rest of the weekend!

 That Bear Lake is almost unreal. It is clear, has a sandy bottom, incredible colors, and while we were there it was 71 degrees. In the water! Essentially a giant inflatable pool.
 Maddie got to try out the new paddle board. She'd just learned how a couple of days before with her McCousins up at a reservoir while trying out their new kayak and paddle board.
 She loved it and she's really good at it too.
 This was Will's first time and even he stayed up well.
 Rob got the kids building sandcastles on the shore. I can't believe that gate on the right!

 We spent a little time clearing away rocks so that we could wander out to the swimming platform, canoe, dock, boat in our bare feet. Last time we were here the lake was so low that tractors had to tow the boats down. This dock wasn't used for years.
 Charlie was in his element.
 Even Sebi and Hazel tried out the paddle board. And they were good too! Saydi took it out for a spin and on her first try it looked like she was out in the middle of the lake. They all made it look so easy that I couldn't really see what the point was.
Then I tried it, and I found out very quickly that the point is balance. Umm hmmmm. No pictures of me up here because there were almost none where I was standing on the board.
 The light up there changes so rapidly and it too, is almost unreal. I love the clouds and the sparkle.
 Kids were canoeing, splashing, wading and getting in trouble over throwing sand at each other through dinner.
 Saydi's family invited us to a wonderful BBQ in the pavilion with 5 of her 8 siblings and several cousins and relatives.
 Joss had a grand time in the hot tub with all of them.
And we stayed until after sunset before heading back to put kids to bed and watch the bats at dusk.