Friday, October 17, 2014

Halloweens of yore

I had some fun looking through pictures today from Halloween's past. Our costumes this year are still in the works, but in the meantime here is a fun walk through the last 8 years of Halloween goodness. I realized as I collected all these pictures that Isabelle has never had her own costume-- she's always worn a hand-me-down. Spoiler alert: she is getting her own costume this year. :)

2006: A duck

2007: Nemo!

2008: Max Hall and a BYU cheerleader

2009: A sheriff and a ladybug

2010: Woody and Tinkerbell

2011:A Power Ranger, supergirl and a duck

2012: An angry bird, a witch and Nemo/ladybug

2013: A ninja, a mermaid, Tinkerbell, and a football

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This post is brought to you by the letter D

As with all my other 3-year-olds, Isabelle joined a preschool co-op this year to get a taste of what's in store. She adores the socialization once a week, and I relish in the 2.5 hours of solo time with Sawyer. We have four adorable girls in her group, which makes it almost feel more like princess training than preschool! If anyone knows where I can get a box of just pink crayons, let me know.

Our first week to host was the letter "D." We had a dinosaur theme and made counting stegosauruses. I didn't get a picture of them, but the spikes were clothespins, and each clothespin had a number on it. We used them to play some counting games. We also read "Oh, Say Can You Say Di-no-saur?" and colored some dinosaur tracing pages.

This didn't really have anything to do with D, but we played a fun mail game to practice sorting shapes. We had three mailboxes with different shapes on it. Each girl got to take a turn being the mailman and picking an item out of the mailbag. She then got to take it over and find the appropriate mailbox to put it in. It was a hit and might just have to be a regular activity when preschool is at our house.

We have a young group, but they all did so well and I think it will be a fun year for them. I am so grateful for a good network of friends to be able to do this! It has been such a blessing to me and my kids to always have an opportunity to participate in a preschool co-op which each child. Plus, it gives me an excuse to beef up my teaching supplies, which satisfies my latent childhood aspirations of being a school teacher. :)

Twinkle Toes

Before school even started, I knew I had us overscheduled. 3 days a week of soccer, 2 afternoons completely consumed by piano students, one night of scouts, and a preschool co-op already filled up nearly every free moment of time. I heard about a lady in our stake who taught a dance class that was actually reasonable and wanted to sign the girls up so bad. I knew they would love it and I knew I would love it, but would I hate the crazy running around to get them there and the stress of fitting one more thing in? I knew I should say no and save it for another year, but in the end my feminine side got the better of me and I succumbed to visions of tutus and tap shoes.

And I have not regretted it for a single second.

The girls LOVE their classes. They are each a half an hour long and they fly by. I get such a kick out of watching them and am still not bored of seeing their cute plies after 2 months of dance classes. We just got their costumes for their winter recital and I am in tulle heaven. Cuteness overload, right here.

Isabelle has been the lucky recipient of some hand-me-down dance costumes from a neighbor and she wears one to every class. It's a good thing her teacher doesn't have a strict dress code!

The first week, Isabelle couldn't get her heels together in first position or do a plie without falling over. She has come so far and I really am impressed. I didn't expect much skill development at her age, but she is learning and slowly becoming more coordinated.

Savannah is a very obedient student and much more focused than Isabelle. She prefers the ballet portion over tap, which is funny because when she took dance two years ago, she loved her "noisy shoes" best of all.

The last few minutes of class are for free dance, and I'm pretty sure it is everyone's favorite part. The shoes come off, the toys come out, and the crowd goes wild.

So yes, we are pretty busy right now, but luckily soccer is coming to an end so things will lighten up soon. Even at the height of chaos, though, it is totally worth it and I am so glad we made it work.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Reflections on education

A month or two ago I had a chance to use my college education. It doesn't happen much these days. It was strange to me to think how I spent 5 years studying a field that I hardly ever approach anymore. I was rusty and a bit lacking in confidence, but it stirred a part of my brain that hasn't been used in awhile. And I kind of liked it.

It made me think about the skills I use most these days. Of all the talents and proficiencies I worked so hard to developed, which are the ones that I actually call on regularly? Reading music and playing the piano, for sure. That one gets used all the time. Photography is a big one, both for personal and business use. Parenting learned through observation and on the job training. No question there. But what about multivariable calculus? Cell biology? SQL? What about all the things I spent hours studying and cramming to pass the test and get the A? Could I even pass those classes now? Does it matter? Do I care?

I wonder what I would do if I could back to my 14-year-old self. Would I do it all again? How much of my 18 years of education is benefiting me now? Would I focus my energy on more "practical" skills? Once upon a time I was the "smart girl." It was part of my identity. I wasn't popular or cute or athletic, but I rocked standardized tests and I felt satisfaction and worth in knowing that was one of my gifts. But what good does that do me now? Now I'm mom, wife, friend, neighbor. My intelligence is probably questioned by some of those who call me those names. SAT and ACT scores mean nothing when they once meant everything. Trying to call them up as some badge of honor for past accomplishments just means that I have nothing to show for myself in the 14 years since I took them.

It's not that I don't value education. I actually can't think of many things I value more than education (although they do exist). But my definition of education is shifting. The most important thing to learn is how to learn. And the most important characteristic to develop is to never stop learning. I didn't waste all those years and money simply because I don't run a statistical analysis on a daily basis. True, my grammar and vocabulary have suffered after having a toddler-aged child in the house for 6 straight years. My writing is atrocious and even my math skills (which have always been my strong suite) are pretty pathetic. But I take comfort in the fact that I am learning new things. This year I learned to bake bread. Small, but it's something. I learned that I can teach kids to play the piano, and I am learning new ways to help them progress. I've learned that there is more than one way to be a good friend, and that service is not an act, but a way of life.

So was it worth it? All those years of classes and tests and suffering through public education and then paying for private universities? All so I could learn most of life's lessons on my own when it was all said and done? I think so. I sure hope so.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Last week I went to the doctor because my face had gone numb. It was the strangest sensation. It was just the left side, and it included my cheek, temple, mouth, and tongue. It was as though someone had drawn a line right down the center of my face and then taken the feeling out of the left side. I walked around for 2 weeks feeling like I had just come out of having dental work done. When it started getting worse, I went to see my doctor and found out I had Bell's Palsy. Since Bell's Palsy doesn't have a clearly defined cause, he started me on a steroid and anti-viral medicine as a shotgun approach to hopefully clear up whatever had caused it. Within 24 hours the numbness had almost completely gone away. Now I feel totally normal and the story is pretty much over except for one thing-- the steroid (Prednisone) gives me insomnia. I wake up every morning between 2 and 4 am and can't go back to sleep. So here I am on my fourth night of no sleep, and I decided that rather than lie in bed and think about how I'm not sleeping I would get up and put my active mind to work. 

This morning my thoughts have been reflective and sentimental. It happens at 4 am. I have been thinking about my kids and the stage of life they are in. I love their innocence, their zest for life, their small worries, and the carefree spirit that they carry with them. I remember-- in fragmented bits of emotions-- what it feels like to be that young. Life was pretty rose colored. Responsibilities were few and fun was paramount. It was a precious, fleeting feeling and I love experiencing it again vicariously through my kids.

I then thought of myself and the stage I'm in now. At first I think how being an adult is harder than being a kid. I worry about things I didn't even know existed then. I have people and things that depend on me. There are deadlines, bills, health issues, budgeting, housework, red tape, and all sorts of other unpleasantries that fill up my day. A part of me longs to regress and be a child again.

But then again, aren't I? In the grand scheme of things, aren't I still very much in my infancy? I believe we are eternal beings, and that this mortal life is just a teeny piece of the eternity I face. In comparison, my worries are small. I have been very blessed and am so well taken care of I might as well be a kid again. I love being a full-time parent and relish in the freedom it allows. On any given day I can meet a friend for lunch, work on a project, bake my heart away, or lie around doing absolutely nothing. My family is my main focus and there is nothing unpleasant or unwanted about that. My husband is my best friend and his job lets us spend a lot more time together than we have been able to in the past. My health is good and my energy is high. I've had just enough experience with sickness and chronic pain to appreciate how incredible it is to be healthy. I anticipate a day when many of these things will change just due to to the passing of time. Aging is inevitable, for both me and my children. I don't mean to suggest that I have a better situation than anyone else. Like most moms, my to-do list is never done, the cleaning is relentless, my washer runs around the clock, I detest coming up with meal plans and the grocery store is my nemesis. But in all reality, my life is pretty awesome and I just wanted to take a moment to enjoy this part of it and thank my Creator who has given it to me.