P.S. The day when kids can read their own bedtime story is kinda awesome.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
P.S. The day when kids can read their own bedtime story is kinda awesome.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
I really am not sure how this guy was keeping his pants on. I sneaked this picture to document the absurdity. Sagging pants must be a west coast thing because it's been a loooong time since I've seen this.
Cuz you get bigger tips if you wear a cat mask....?
I have to be a bit vulnerable here and confess something. Jeff and I got in a pretty heated argument during this trip. In fact, we went to bed pretty upset Saturday night. Sunday morning dawned and we both had calmed down and were able to talk calmly and rationally. We resolved the disagreement, had a lovely day, and came back from the trip feeling like our relationship was stronger for it. Here's the strange part-- this happens almost every time we travel together. It's as though our lives are so busy and chaotic at home that we never have the chance to get things off our chest, but when we get away together, it all comes to the surface! In retrospect, I can laugh as I identify all the trips over the years that have had colossal blowups as part of the trip memory, but we always make up and it's yet to ruin a vacation, so I guess it's just our strange way of having couples therapy?
Saturday afternoon, Logan and I met Brother Erickson to observe his bacteria. All we really needed was to count colonies and take some pictures, but just when I was ready to toss the dishes and call it a day, Brother Erickson, in his quiet, non-assuming way, asked, "Wouldn't you like to look at it under the microscope?" Then he helped Logan to extract some bacteria with a pipette, put it on a slide, stain it, and look at it under a microscope. I had all sorts of flashbacks to high school biology and was totally geeking out. (Although I did get a little worried when we had some odd bacteria that Brother Erickson had never seen. What are we growing in our house?!)
That was the fun part. Now that he had results, all Logan had left to do was fill out his project folder and put together his poster. And after two weekends of grounding and hair pulling, he finally got it done. All moms of science fair age children united that week in mutual loathing for science fair projects. I was so relieved the day he took his project to school and hoped I wouldn't hear the words "science fair" in our home for another year.
But then.... he won! Logan was selected to move on to the district level. He was super excited, so I was excited for him, but the district competition involved a long evening and-- get this-- redoing his presentation board. Yeah, the school had ordered the wrong size tri-fold boards and so the kids that moved on were given a new board to recreate their project on. Are you kidding me? Round 2 of late night science fair-ing ensued.
Round 3 was a regional science fair at BYU. By this point I was cursing myself for having followed the rules so closely. If we had just grown the bacteria at home, Logan would have been disqualified from ever progressing beyond the school level. But Logan was all smiles and excitement. More busywork came with this level-- abstracts, registrations, etc.-- and an entire school day on campus. The judging took place in the same building and rooms that I was drilled in during scholarship interviews 15 years ago. I still get anxiety walking into that place. I worried it would be a long day for him, but he loved it. I hoped and prayed that this would be the end, but of course, we got notified that afternoon that he had won something and we needed to come to the award ceremony later that week. He ended up winning third place in his category, which came with a trophy and $20! He was stoked and finally, FINALLY, we were done. And good thing, too, because the next round would have required a trip to D.C.!
I am so glad it's all over. Next year we will try to create a more mediocre project and be done back in January. But Logan-- I know you're reading this-- congrats, buddy. I'm proud of you for sticking with it and seeing it through. Well done, kiddo!
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Our trip to Vegas over President's Day started with one purpose: to take the girls to see Finding Neverland. After Jeff and I saw in last August in New York, I started playing the music in the car and around the house. It didn't take long for all the kids to learn the lyrics and start requesting songs from the soundtrack, so when Christmas rolled around, I looked up the tour locations and determined Las Vegas was the closest place to see it.
A month or so before the trip, however, our purpose changed. Or rather, expanded. My sister announced her engagement, and she agreed to meet us in Vegas with her fiance so we could meet him! Curtis and Katie wanted to meet him, too, so in a matter of days our little road trip had turned into a partial family reunion.
And that's how I met my brother-in-law to-be for the first time in the lobby of a theater. We all saw Finding Neverland together, although our seats were a little ways apart. Savannah and Isabelle enjoyed it, but Izzy got pretty restless and bored about halfway through. We were all disappointed that many of the songs had changed, including one of our favorites, but I think it bothered me more than anyone else.
After the show we hit up a buffet, because when in Vegas...
We stuffed ourselves silly. The kids acted like they'd never been to a buffet before (and probably hadn't of that magnitude) and were over the top about how much food they could collect, if not consume. It was a wonderful meal with wonderful company, and we all enjoyed getting to know Greg a little better.
The next day I was able to break away with Paige and Greg for a little bit and take some engagement pictures. I wasn't sure if I knew how to take pictures in a desert and have them turn out well, but holy cow! I am in love with desert scenery now! We went to downtown Boulder City which was full of all sorts of quaint store fronts and street art, then hit up a hill above town for some desert sunset views. All of it was gorgeous and I loved being a small part of Paige and Greg's beginning.
We couldn't resist getting some silhouettes of Curtis and Katie (and baby).
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
The winds have changed in our lives. In what felt like an instant, we shifted from a family of young children and babies to a family with preteens and quickly maturing kids. Gone are the days of diapers and binkies; they've been replaced with extra-curriculars, reports, friends, and homework. I have been dreading the drama and emotional drain that I've heard comes with teens-- and I still can't speak to that stage-- but this one, this not-babies-anymore-but-not-quite-teenagers stage-- is awesome.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
After a nice long winter break, I was ready to jump back into teaching for the winter semester. I upgraded from one class to two this semester, one being an online class which has been a completely new and exciting adventure. My first week, however, was less than stellar. If I were one to give credence to jinxes, I would swear someone had placed one on me that week.
For example, my first day of class I had a brand new course assistant. Last semester I had the most senior, tenured assistant available, and she was fantastic. Don't get me wrong, I really like my new assistant, too, but he's new to the game and sometimes we have to figure things out together. Like which set of lecture slides to use. And why there was no microphone. And why the projector wasn't working. And so on. I think my class must have thought they'd landed the most incompetent team in the department after those first few days! Did I mention I forgot to put my own last name on the introductory slide? Smooth, Professor Carly.
Then there was the online class. Which, no doubt, I could have worked harder to be prepared for. But some things you just have to try and fail at in order to learn. So when I tried to host the first day of class online, I couldn't get in to the virtual room I'd set up. Um... not a good start. Then, when I did get in, I apparently didn't record any sound. But of course I didn't realize that until after I'd been talking for 45 minutes and thought it had all been recorded. Head slap.
So I should have know not to join the faculty meeting remotely that week, because of course I would forget to mute myself and send the sound of my TV blaring Octonauts over the web into the conference room right in the middle of a prayer. I also should have known to double and triple check before deleting the schedule from the learning management system to make sure it was the right class that I was deleting. But nope, I didn't take precautions in either of those cases, and deleting the schedule used by over 1200 students resulted in a desperate phone and a late night as I painstakingly repaired my mistake.
The good news is the semester could only go up from there, and up it went! These past two months have been great, and I'm really enjoying the online class now that I've worked out the bugs. With the end of this semester in sight, I'm so grateful for this dream job and how perfectly it fits with my calendar, priorities, interests, and family life. The BYU Statistics department has blessed my life many times over in the past, and it is still doing so today.
The guise of this trip was to "help" Meg with her new baby, but who am I kidding? It was to spend time with one of my favorite people on the planet who has been painfully absent in my life this past year (although we still text and call almost daily). I needed my Meg fix, and I think she needed me, too. We have a nice healthy relationship like that, where we run until on the verge of collapse, then somehow meet up to pick up the pieces and rebuild together.
I loved spending some quality time with the Willardsons. Each of the kids is so special to me. The older three were my piano students, among other things, and I couldn't wait to give each of them a lung-squishing hug! We spent a fun night watching When Calls the Heart with the big girls and Meg's mom. I love being a surrogate Willardson. :) The littles were a treat, too. Sloane and I share a birthday, so of course she warmed up to me (and my cell phone) right away.
I don't have any pictures as proof, but I also convinced the Shepherd/Pendleton clan to get together for lunch one day. Our gatherings are always so comfortable, so familiar, and so heart-warming, it was painful to realize how much I had missed them.
Table Mesa was a must, and what better way to indulge in my favorite restaurant than with my favorite girls? What a treat to spend the night reconnecting with these treasured friends! It is hard to believe we only lived in AR for 2.5 years. My love for these ladies runs so much deeper than that amount of time should have allowed.
The trip was over much too soon, and before I knew it I was driving back to Tulsa to fly home. I was glad to fly in and out of Oklahoma, even though I didn't get to see any of our Okie friends. It made me feel like I had a chance to say hello to another state that is dear to my heart. I think Oklahoma was happy to see me, too, and gave me this beautiful sunset to remember it by.
On top of shoveling the driveway, we also had to shovel our trampoline (which we had failed to take down in the fall-- big mistake) and a path to the chicken coop. I could barely find the coop under all that snow!
It was a gorgeous day and I actually really enjoyed being outdoors working hard. The kids broke out the sleds and had a marvelous time sledding and playing before school started. This tree in our backyard was almost axed when we landscaped, but we decided to keep it and I'm so glad! It keeps these berries all winter long and has been so pretty throughout every season.
We've had a couple other big storms and plenty of moderate snowfall since then, but this still stands as the biggest storm of the year. I'm grateful for the moisture and am tolerating the shoveling now that I can jump on the four-wheeler and plow the driveway in 10 minutes, but I am getting anxious for spring! Is it here yet??