Monday, July 2, 2018

I'll Try Again Tomorrow.

Today had all of the signs of being a banner day. I woke up cranky and tired, but we still managed to get through the morning routine. We went for haircuts, and everyone was really well-behaved for the hair stylist. It was almost eerie.

Harris went through the biggest hair transformation. Of course, I forgot to take his "before" picture, but here's one from yesterday's "Patriotic Sunday" photo shoot.


That's right. I brought back the worst picture ever of June and Gwen for a second posting. They deserve it.

And here he was during the cut:


And after:



What a doll. Sometimes I find myself whispering into his still-innocent ears: "Don't turn on me, Harris. Don't be like the others."

Then it was Gwen's turn.

Before:



During:


After:



While Gwen was getting cut, June entertained herself by taking pictures of any place she found our letter of the day. (Today was "E" for those of you playing along at home.)


I've always thought an education was incomplete unless it had Vogue in it.
 
She may have inherited here (in)ability to shoot a proper photo from me.

Then it was June's turn.

Before:


Her hair isn't really wavy at all; it had been in a braid all night.


Anyone remember the time June cut her own hair?


This is where those poor massacred strands sit now. We have probably a good year left before they are grown out. Sigh.


It was about at this point when the kind stylist called out, "This one's got a big personality!" Yes, she does.

And after:


Gwen wanted me to take more pictures of her while June was getting cut. Here's a very natural pose. I call it "Ode to These Here Magazines."


Look at that face. I feel like she's about to sell me insurance.

So haircuts were a total success. And then we went to the dentist.


Have you ever seen a more relaxed sitting position in your whole life? She's watching a movie while they work on her, and I think she was somehow mentally transported to another dimension. Her leg was dangling from the chair and her arms spread out, and she didn't respond to any of the questions posed to her. She may have grunted once.

I'm pretty sure Gwen's favorite biannual experience is going to our dentist so that she can watch shows her cheap parents don't provide at home.

On the whole, the kids were all great for these appointments, and neither of them had any cavities. The Jolleys, who previously singlehandedly kept our local dentists in business have not had any cavities for two years. I am just waiting for the morning where all of my teeth are gone (this is actually a nightmare I wake up from frequently) to make up for the past 24 months of good dental reports.

So, to recap. Haircuts were a win, dentist appointments were a success, and then I decided to squeeze in just one more thing. Walmart.

Dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

Am I a rookie at this parenting thing? What in the world was I thinking?

Walmart was a nightmare. Walmart without kids is a nightmare. Gwen and I knocked heads about every single thing, and then she lost the thing I told her she could get for our upcoming trip, and then she wouldn't stay with me, and then I had to hold her hand as she was screaming and trying to jerk away, and then she almost tipped our car over, and then I tried to carry her tantrum-ing body out to the car while also pushing said cart (which was carrying Harris) out to the car, but I couldn't physically do it. And then we finally all somehow made it to our van in the 95 degree heat and were sweating and crying. And then I stepped in gum. And then I wiped said gum off my flip flop and went to load our bags in the back of the van when I stepped in the same gun again.

Then we got home and I made dinner, and Dan came home and reminded me that we had promised the kids that FHE would be at the pool. So we ate fast and changed into our suits and had a good time. Until Gwen threw another huge fit about not having the flip flops she wanted and then everything was contentious and terrible again, and I just started taking things away. 

Taking things away from Gwen is hard because she doesn't seem to care.

So I finally got desperate enough to leave the realm of any sort of rational parenting and told her that she would not be able to listen to me read stories that night. Instead, she would have to go straight to bed.

I don't know why I thought it would be okay to take away something I want her to do. "That's it, Gwen! No more literacy for you! Only ignorance from here on out."

It was a dumb punishment.

But I held to it. June and I read our book out in the hallway, and Gwen tried to attend, but I made her go back to her room.

And then she finally got smart and camped out in the hallway with her blankie and stayed out of view. I knew she was there, but honestly felt like such an ogre having her miss the final chapter of A Bear Called Paddington that I felt fine acting like I had no idea she was just around the corner.

When we finished the last page, I put the girls to bed, but not before having a long talk. We talked about the good parts of the day and spent a ton of time talking about the stinky parts of the day. I laid out tomorrow's schedule and expectations and told them tomorrow would NOT look like today. 

In my mind, I thought I sounded quite in charge.

But I think the girls probably realized I was actually just begging them to please act better tomorrow.

And then we said prayers and they went to bed.

I went to my room and started folding the many loads of clean laundry that had accumulated on my bed from the day. But I kept thinking about my girls. 

I finally walked back across the hall, quietly opened the door to their room. Gwen was sitting up in bed and quickly fell back and closed her eyes and pretended to be asleep. I crawled in their bed. They have bunk beds but still share just one of them. I crawled in and lay down and put my arm around both of them. I realized that the angle my arm was resting on Gwen was quite uncomfortable for her, so I withdrew it and just put my arm around June. In the dark, Gwen's little hand searched until she found my arm again and put it around her. Poor girl.

I stayed like that for a few minutes, and then told the girls that I loved them very much and then left.

This parenting stuff is hard business. I hope tomorrow goes better.

We will be starting to pack and get ready for our two-week vacation. First stop is Las Vegas to visit Dan's family. Here's the forecast.



Ay yai yai.

The End.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

This is the Summer of Fair Weather.

This is the summer of fair weather. Name the movie. I dare ya.

Summer is in full swing at our house. We have been out for four days and have settled into a reasonable routine. I always have much loftier goals than I should at the beginning of summer, but the kids are veeeeeeeerrrrrrrrryyy good at letting me know when I'm expecting too much so we quickly find a balance.

We do some school work every morning. We start with the letter of the day (Thursday was "C"), and we do some writing, reading and math exercises. It lasts about an hour, and it's actually enjoyable for all of us.





Harris the prodigy. He usually whines until I give him a pencil and then drools all over the page. Whatever. If he's happy, I'm happy.


It may seem crazy to do school work all summer. June was invited to the "extended school year" (summer school) to keep her on track for next year, but I declined. She did summer school all last summer, and we need a break. Plus I wanted the girls to be able to do swim lessons, and we are going on a big vacation for two weeks, so summer school just seemed like too much. So I committed to myself that I would help her stay on track by working on her skills one hour a day.

We'll see how long I last.



There's my trusty floral nightie! I actually thought I could wear it to retrieve something from the mailbox without getting caught one early morning last week, but caught I was by my neighbor John who was walking his dog. That was some awkward small talk!

After a three-week hiatus from swim lessons, we are back in the game. Miss Cathy continues to rock our socks, and the girls are progressing. I get stressed about some of the (mis)behavior exhibited by my girls during class, but she is a master at classroom management.


The water can be quite chilly, and Miss Cathy requested I buy swim caps for the girls.


And now a blast from the past. I forgot to post Father's Day pictures.

The ladies in our ward make mini-pies for all of the men. I was asked to bring eight, and I made chocolate chip Snickers cheesecakes that tasted better than they looked.


And these two wore matching ties again. Cuuuuuuuuuuute.



Speaking of matchy match, today we wore red, white and blue as our nod to the Fourth of July happening this week. We were running late, and I was on the organ today, so we had to hurry. Hence the terrible angle and lighting. There was no time to fix it and try again.


Look at those girls' faces! Are they being held hostage? For the love.


Better. Though it probably feels like we are coming down on top of you to eat you for dinner. Scary angle.

June has been on my lap this entire post talking very loudly in my ear, and I no longer even know how to write a sentence.

The End.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Piano Recital

I have taught piano on and off for 20 years. 20 years! I started as a young teenager, taught several Romanians on my mission and then taught in Vegas, Tampa and now here. I've taught for service, for needed income, and most recently for fun.

I have been teaching three sisters for the past couple of months, when my friend Kim (who teaches one little girl) approached me about doing a small recital together. We asked a few other kids from church who take piano lessons from different teachers to join in on the fun and had a very casual Saturday morning recital.



My food contribution. A piano keyboard made out of kit kat bars. Of course, the "black keys" vanished in no time at all, and I forced a couple of people to eat some white keys. Dan loves the white chocolate kit kats, and he's the only one I know. I brought him home a bunch, and he was incredulous that everyone else only likes good-tasting things.


All of the participants. I found out just a couple of days ago that the two girls in the middle have dubbed me "The Hawk" in our primary (childrens' organization at church) because I tend to see everything and be everywhere, especially when it comes down to noise control and naughtiness at church on Sundays. I have never been so proud as I was when I learned of that nickname.


And I couldn't help but zoom in on this sweet girl, my Sadie, who had the best "smile" I've seen in a picture in a long time.


I sent it to her parents, and we laughed and laughed. What can I say--being forced to perform in front of a crowd can make you come a little unhinged.

Everyone did a great job. Then Kim and I played a duet together that we had only practiced 1.5 times, and I botched it. And everyone laughed. And then we played it again, and it went better. I probably lost a ton of street cred since I was the person who messed up the most at the recital.

Me and my girls. Love them so much.


Refreshments.


The End.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

We Have Great Neighbors and Friends.

Yes, some more "end of the year" stuff coming your way today.

First though, I just love our neighbors. We have two little girls, and they have two high school girls, and all of our girls just love each other.

They were going through some old clothing awhile back and gave us a ton, and it's been fun to have some "vintage" clothing from clear back in the early 2000's.

On that note, does anyone else remember Y2K? That was weird.

Anyway.

The clear winners from all of the clothing they gave us were these awesome princess pajamas, which get worn every night (and sometimes day).


One of the last days of school was a Superhero Day, and like last year, June wanted to go NOT as Super Woman or Wonder Woman or Cat Woman or any of those. She always likes to go as Super June.


We jazzed up the whole theme a red cape, red star shirt and white and gold star pants.


Of course, Gwen wanted to be included, and each girl decorated her on "J" or "G" emblem for her cape.

And then Gwen decided to one-up everyone with the addition of this amazing hat.


She's like a superhero that can also take you "downtown" to talk to the "big boys". Detective Sleuth Super Gwen. Or whatever.

After school, the superheros took a super break from fighting crime and colored to their hearts' content. Actually, June only made it through an hour or so of school wearing her cape when she decided that the velcro tab on the collar was just TOO itchy and that she wanted a career change.



Also, one of those aforementioned neighbor girls went to her senior prom and was beautiful and I went over and took pictures. And then she wanted a picture with me, but I was an eye infection-y, glasses wearing-y, unwashed mess, so I said no way.


Can you just imagine that picture? Here is the beautiful princess and her loyal handmaiden, recently come back from sewer duty.

One day last week, I decided to wear black shorts. With kids. Which was obviously a big mistake. Not to be confused with the day THIS week when I wore white shorts. With kids. Which was obviously another big mistake.


Lastly, I went up to June's end of the year picnic. I took no pictures of June, but did take a picture of her cute classmate who couldn't get enough of Harris. Can't blame him. Harris is the best.


And that's the end of today's post, whose common theme was "pictures I have taken sometime in my life." Sorry for yet another round of the random.

The End.