Thursday, September 29, 2016

First Day of School

Despite my best efforts to turn back time, summer ended and school started again. Well, that's a bit of a stretch. I don't think anyone is this house was sad to see school start back up. We all missed it!

Logan is a 5th grader this year. Our elementary school goes through 6th grade, so he still isn't the big man on campus, but pretty darn close. His teacher is a cute young girl from Carlsbad, just up the road from where my family is. Logan decided to give the chime choir a shot this year, and is playing with them once a week before school. He also started martial arts, and absolutely loves it. Between those things, piano and cub scouts, he stays plenty busy, yet seems to always have the least homework of anybody. Suspicious.

Logan, 5th grade, Ms. Wertner

Savannah is in 3rd grade. Her poor teacher, Mrs. Hartung, has 33 kids in her classroom and there is hardly even room to move around. But Savannah doesn't mind because all of her best friends are in there with her. Savannah is playing soccer (her choice), singing in a choir (my choice), playing the piano and started activity days this summer. She comes home with a lot of homework every day and gets easily distracted so it's always a battle to get it all done. Every free moment after homework is spent with her friend next door. They could play all day every day and never get bored or slow down. I can't keep up with her, but sure love Savannah's zest for life!

Savannah, 3rd grade, Mrs. Hartung

Isabelle had to wait a whole week after the big kids to start school. She is in PM Kindergarten with a teacher who will be retiring after this year. Hopefully that means we get to take advantage of all her experience and not just her anxiety to be done! Isabelle thrives at school and has taken reading by the horns. She loves reading. I mean, really, really loves it. I don't have to remind her to read or twist her arm or really do much of anything other than listen to her. She has finished all the Kindergarten BOB books and is almost done with the first grade set. I only wish we had the option of all day kindergarten here because I know she would love it and it would sure make my work schedule a whole lot easier. But since we don't, I'll just take advantage of the extra 3 hours a day I get to be in the company of this gem. She makes everything more fun.

Isabelle, Kindergarten, Mrs. Tanner

There's that attitude we know and love!

As for me, well, I'm down to one kid for at least part of the day so...

Jumping Out of Summer

One pleasant evening in August, just before school started, we took to the backyard after dinner and spent a blissful hour jumping on the trampoline and throwing a ball around. It was absolute perfection. The kids were all giggles while Jeff power bounced them, and Logan showed off his (half) front flip skills. Of course, then Jeff had to show him how it was really done. I sure love this little family of mine and our time just spent together. Thank you summer, for a night well done. We'll miss you this winter.

Savannah's 8th Birthday Trip

Savannah has always been my most difficult child to shop for. She doesn't play with toys the way my other kids do. She is easily the most extroverted of our posterity, and always wants someone with her no matter what she is doing. So playing quietly by herself in a room full of toys has never been her forte. As I thought of what she might like for her 8th birthday this year, it dawned on me that all she really ever wants is time and attention. So we gave her just that.

The idea was that Savannah would pick the location (within an hour or two) and the company (Jeff or I) to take her on an overnight trip. She would have $50 spending money and we could do anything she wanted. As luck would have it, the most ideal time to go turned out to be the weekend of the Fathers and Sons campout, so Savannah generously agreed to let Isabelle share her trip, and the three of us headed to Salt Lake for the night!

We stayed at the downtown Courtyard. I've stayed in a lot of Courtyards (Jeff is a Marriott member, so we are pretty much exclusive to the M), but this was one of the nicest I've seen. The location was perfect, just steps away from Gateway mall, the Clark Planetarium and, most importantly, a Trax stop. The pool was fantastic and we had it all to ourselves.

We rode Trax over to the City Creek mall where we grabbed dinner and cheesecake, then brought it back to the hotel to eat in our room while we watched a movie. Trax was one of the biggest (and cheapest) thrills of the whole trip. Thank you public transportation! And can I just say I love that my kids like Cheesecake? It's the one dessert our whole family gets excited about. Our cheesecake (from Cheescake Factory) was more expensive than our entire dinner, but totally worth it.

In our hotel, the girls started jumping from bed to bed. Normally, I'd shut that down lickety split, but this time, I thought, "Why not? On this trip I am not the mom. I am just one of the girls. And girls just wanna have fun!" So I grabbed my camera and we had a riot taking slow-motion videos of us jumping from bed to bed.

The next morning we slept in, swam, and walked down to Waffle Love for breakfast. We got some traditional Belgian liege waffles with carmel, bananas and whipped cream. We got two to share and that was more than enough because even though they are small, they are so sweet and rich you can only handle so much. The girls found this silly pig statue next to the restaurant and had to pose with it.

We perused the farmer's market in Pioneer Park, where we bought a baggie of gems for our future fairy gardens. Then up the street to watch a movie in the dome theater at the planetarium (where I caught a nice little nap), then to the mall for some shopping. Finally we decided we'd better pack it up and  head back home, but not before a quick stop at Pei Wei in Sandy for some yummy noodles. I had such a delightful time with my silly, spunky, sweet girls and can't wait to do it again!

The Halls at the Falls

I love living at a crossroads. All summer long we had friends and family pass through. This was the third time I got to see Laura since February, which, though way more than usual, is still never enough! The Halls were on their way to Idaho but had stopped overnight in Utah so we rendezvoused at Bridal Veil park for a quick walk up to the falls. Our kids have an uncanny connection and seem to pick up right where they left off every time we get together, much as Laura and I do. It was so good to spend even an hour with Laura. She does a body good!

Dog Days

My next door neighbor has the sweetest little Shorkie (Shit-tzu/Yorkie) dog, Oakley, that my kids have fallen in love with. She spends a good chunk of her day on a leash pegged between our two driveways, so they feel like they have some sort of claim on her. We got the chance to dog sit for a few days and you'd think we'd all died and gone to heaven. Prior to having her in our home, Isabelle was mostly content to play with Oakley from a distance. But after forcing her to get over her fear when I found her stranded on a chair in the living room (Oakley was lounging on the opposite couch very lethargically. Not intimidating AT ALL.), Isabelle discovered that she wasn't afraid after all and actually loved Oakley! (Wow! Really? ) As proof, she made me take this picture of them together.

Usually when we dog sit, I set stricter boundaries than I'm sure the dogs get at home. But Oakley reminds me so much of my childhood dog, so she totally gets free reign in our house. Furniture? No problem. Upstairs? You go, girl.

My Met Tour

I had such a great time exploring the Met by myself during my trip to New York with Jeff. I have never considered myself a great art connoisseur, but I've always wished I could be. I enjoyed taking my time to really appreciate these amazing masterpieces and try to learn a little more about them.

I started in the impressionists wing, and was not disappointed. Here are a few of my favorites.

Vincent van Gogh. Wheat Field with Cypresses. Reminds me of Oklahoma.

Claude Monet. The Path Through the Iris. I am a sucker for Monets.

Georges Seurat. Gray Weather, Grande Jatte. I love the way Seurat decorates his borders. His paintings are so fun to start far away and slowly walk closer to.

Another van Gogh. Cypresses. I love the swirls. Usually I am a geometric person but when it comes to paintings, the softer the better!

Paul Signac. Evening Calm, Concarneau, Opus 220. Another pointillist painting. I found it interesting how many of my favorite paintings were inspired by settings in Paris. Maybe there's a connection between my favorite city and my favorite paintings?

Oh, Auguste Renoir. I love this painting so much and NEED it in my piano room. (A copy, of course.) Two Young Girls at the Piano.

Claude Monet. Ile aux Fleurs near Vetheuil. Painted in (where else?) Paris.

William Bouguereau. Breton Brother and Sister. This painting had a different feel than the other impressionist work surrounding it, but I fell in love with the relationship portrayed between this sister and her baby brother. It felt so real! I almost thought the little boy was going to throw his apple at me.

As a kid I had a short obsession with Degas. He paints ballerinas. What's there not to love? My girlish side was squealing over the satin ribbon on this sculpture, The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer.

From the impressionist wing I wandered through modern art for a bit to see if I could-- by myself and without kids-- finally see what the fuss is all about. Nope. Still Not getting it.

So then I left and explored American Art for a bit. I didn't really think I would like it very much (I was picturing Puritans and farmers), but imagine my delight when I walked in to the first gallery and saw the larger than life original of Washington Crossing the Delaware!

I discovered a couple other gems in this wing that made me think I need to spend more time here next time. This one had me absolutely convinced it was a photograph at first.

Seymour Joseph Guy, thank you for painting something in 1866 that I can relate to today. It's good to know some things never change! The Contest for the Bouquet. The Family of Robert Gordon in Their New York Dining-Room.

And Henry Mosler, who captured the real American dream. Just Moved. Oh yes, I know what that's like!

Thank you for taking this mini-tour of the Met with me. I am now inspired to change all artwork in my house to prints of the master's works.

Back to Stats

I am painfully behind on just about everything right now. Blogging, editing pictures, laundry, dishes... you name it, it's backed up. But I don't care. I know the reason why and I am grateful for it! But today I am taking a little break from everything else to try and get this journal current again before I forget everything that has happened! And to start it off, what better than the story behind the reason I am so backlogged?

Sometime over the summer, Jeff was at the grocery store and bumped into one of my college professors. I studied Statistics at BYU from 2002-2007, and it was a small, intimate department then (still is) so I knew the faculty well and many of them even knew Jeff. As they got caught up on life, the professor mentioned that they had some teaching openings and if I was ever interested in coming back, they'd surely have some work I could do. Jeff, knowing me better than I know myself, said, "I think she's interested. NOW."

This conversation led to me stopping by my alma mater the next week, and by the end of the summer, I had a job lined up to teach Stat 121 (Principles of Statistics) in the fall. I had to teach one "audition" class over the summer (which totally terrified me since a majority of the department faculty were coming to watch), but it went well and now I am comfortably situated with an office in the good old Talmage building three days a week!

I absolutely love being back on campus. I can feel my brain working and churning in ways that it hasn't in many years. I have enjoyed reconnecting with the people in the Stats department, especially since many of them were my classmates who went on to earn PhDs and are now full-time faculty. My department is like a time-capsule. Nothing has really changed in that wing except for a few more gray hairs and a few retirees. But it feels like coming home and most people don't even bother saying, "Welcome back!" or acting surprised to see me, but just wave and give me a "Hi, Carly!" as I pass them in the hallway, as though it has been 10 minutes and not 10 years since I was a student.

I am only teaching one class this semester (3 times a week), which is the perfect way to get my feet wet again. I have timed it so I can drop off Sawyer and Isabelle at a day care (another perfect fit that I stumbled across), where they feed them lunch, take Isabelle to kindergarten, and put Sawyer down for a nap. I can teach my class, have my office hours, and be back home just as Sawyer is waking up and the other three finish school. It's absolutely ideal and I can't believe how much more satisfied and energized I feel with just a few hours of work a week! In addition to teaching, I've also teamed up with that same professor from the grocery store for some consulting work. He's done all the hard work, and I just get to manipulate code and produce some really cool results. It's super fun and has made me remember why I loved Statistics in the first place!

So that's the reason why I suddenly quit blogging cold turkey, but life has certainly kept going so there's much, much more coming soon! er... eventually.