Sunday, August 31, 2008

Maya's Talk

Here is the talk Maya gave in church today, complete with her own art work. She loves giving talks because she loves to draw. She always draws the pictures first and then tells us what she wants to say.

When you are baptized, you go in to a font filled with water. My dad says a prayer then I go all the way under.Then I sit in a chair with men all around. They put their hands on my head and give me a gift. But not just any gift. It is the Gift of the Holy Ghost. A gift that you cannot get on your birthday or Christmas, but when you are baptized.I know this makes me happy because I'm doing what Heavenly Father wants me to do.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympics, or to say it another way 奧林匹克

Years ago, when Beijing was announced as the location of the 2008 Summer Olympics, Ryan and I decided that we would go and take our two daughters. McKayla would be twelve and Madison would be ten, which would be perfect to enjoy the Olympics. Ryan and I both had served missions to Taiwan so we knew the language and culture and food. We could show our daughters the land and people and food and history. What a great plan. I have an Asian Studies minor and I would be able to see all the locations from all the Chinese history I had learned and read about. Wow, what a neat trip.

Then ya-da ya-da, Maya was born and then six months later ya-da ya-da and Monterey joined us. Not that I am one to assign blame but those two kind of ruined our plans. But they only ruined our plans for the trip. They made our eternal family complete. So there you have it, an extremely uneven trade. We were the winners of that deal and we lovingly watched the Olympics from the comfort of our own home, cuddling our additions and eating our dumplings.

We always have a party on the night of the Opening Ceremonies. For the Athens games we ate Greek food. For the Italian winter games, we had an Italian feast. So of course, for Beijing, we had our favorite of all: Chinese. Here was our opening ceremony menu: orange chicken, chow mien, fried rice, beef & broccoli, chicken & mushrooms, egg rolls, pork dumplings, tomatoes & eggs, egg drop soup, watermelon, almond cookies, fortune cookies, and coconut pudding. We also had red vines, just for the color.

We hung red lanterns in honor of the event, which we had up the entire two weeks of the Olympics. We invited friends over and watched which great anticipation as each costume and dance and set was revealed.

Beijing put on a show. We loved how they incorporated the costumes and history with the synchronization of the drums. We loved how the top of the bird's nest was a video screen and could be used as part of the show.

And what about this little boy:

In the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics, a nine year-old boy walked with the Chinese flag bearer, Yao Min. His name was Lin Hao and he was a survivor of the Sichuan earthquake. Lin Hao was a hall monitor, walking two of his second grade classmates back from the office when the earthquake hit. Trapped under the rubble in his collapsed school building, he freed himself and then went back to help the two classmates get free. He escorted them to a safe place and then went to help the classmates that were stuck in their classroom. He instructed them to sing to overcome their fears and to help people find them and help dig them out. He suffered a head and arm injury. Only 10 of the 31 children in his class survived.

When he was asked why he did that, Lin Hao innocently said that he was the class monitor and that it was his responsibility to look after his classmates.

This story moved me to tears. To think that such a young child would take his responsibility so seriously. I immediately thought about how seriously I take my responsibilities. Do I fulfill my responsibilities to their fullest? Lin Hao is a great example to me.

Things I learned:

Michael Phelps is amazing. Period. Even though I was a walking zombie through the last two weeks, it was worth being able to see every gold medal win, all eight of them, not knowing how it would turn out. The relays were just as exciting as the individual events. Some races were a complete demolition of the previous world record. Some were so close, they gave me heart palpitations. Some were predicted, others a complete surprise. Michael Phelps was our favorite to watch. His mom was awesome, the way she cheered or looked panicked. The single mom who stood by and supported. The other thing I learned from Michael (we ARE on a first name basis with all the bonding that went on into the wee hours of the night) was that he wrote down all of his goals. For years, especially in young womens, I was taught that writing down a goal was am important part in achieving it. I was so impressed that Michael wrote his specific goals. He wrote the time he wanted to swim each race. Of course he had down all the preparation, the swimming for hours a day, the 10,000 calories (no, not Baskin Robbins, cheesecake and Hot Cheetos, but lean protein and good carbs) and the mental preparation. But he also WROTE down his specific goals. So impressive. We are Phelps Phans!!!

If you are running a relay, the baton is the priority. The Americas did redeem themselves later on, but this first night of relay semifinals was extremely frustrating. How hard can it be? Well obviously it is or there would be no problems. Let us get the teams together a little sooner, develop some camaraderie and practice. Please. At least we have some great pics showing the "agony of defeat."

It is okay to lie about your age, but only if you go down, not up. Lying about one's age is fine. I give everyone a free pass to do it and I would like a free pass for doing it. But moving it up? No. Changing the documents with government help okay, but at least cover up the real date by being thorough. Sloppy lying is never good.

Modesty is still possible. I do not begrudge any athlete from wearing the clothes of their sport. Clothes should give the athlete the ability to perform their sport to their greatest ability. The swimmers have gotten more modest over time with their superhero suits. But even in those races, you might see two or three different styles. Beach volleyball wears the bikinis. And the wedgie. No wonder they got so much prime time coverage. But hey, if that is their uniform, so be it. But then I see this runner. She is completely covered from head to toe with the exception of her face. Thank goodness she can still breathe. But wow. Maybe you can compete AND have your clothing reflect your standards.

The Chinese designed the best medals, hands down, EVER! Of course the gold is the medal to get, but how gorgeous is the silver with the light green jade or the bronze with the dark green jade? All three are so beautiful that I would have wanted one of each. Not that I would not have wanted all golds, but as an accessory, definitely a collection of all three would be the best. These medals blow every other design out of the water.

We love these girls! Nastia with her proud dad and Shawn with the great toothy grin. I loved watching these girls who were genuinely among the best and also looked like they were actually having fun. Now every little girl who watched them will want to grow up to be just like them. Of course, we watched them at midnight so most little girls were probably in bed and missed the whole thing. Well, we just saved a lot of money.

We loved Jackie Chan singing in the closing ceremonies. We loved all the athletes walking around showing off their medals.

So now that it is over, I can get back to a normal nighttime routine. No more waking up in the middle of the day with a massive headache. At least for two years. Can't wait for Vancouver in two years. I wonder what we should eat for that celebration?

If you can say hippopotamus . . .

Monterey has a wonderful Sunbeam teacher, Sister Vorwaller. Maya had her also, so we knew what we were getting at the beginning of the year: the greatest Sunbeam teacher ever. Sometimes, teachers of the younger kids think they are just babysitting or entertaining the kids so that the parents can have a child-free Sunday. But, Sister Vorwaller understands that even small children can understand gospel concepts.

A couple of weeks ago, the kids came home with a paper bag puppet that said, "If you can say hippopotamus, then you can say I'm sorry."

Today, I asked the kids to get ready to go somewhere. There were moments when they either were not listening or willfully ignoring me. Consequently, I got a little huffy and sent the big girls to the car and had the older girls get their stuff. As we got in the car, Monterey asked me why I was mad. I, again in a huff, explained that when I gave instructions, I expected them to be followed and I did not appreciate people ignoring me.

When we got to the destination, Monterey asked me if I was sorry. I said yes, I was sorry. She said, "Good, 'cause if you can say hippopotamus, you can say you're sorry."

Thank you, Sister Vorwaller, for teaching a three year old how and what to teach her mother.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ready to Go Back to School

Apparently the time has come that we must accept the inevitable and head our separate ways. The five of us have spent way too much time together and it is beginning to get a little unhealthy. So apparently this school starting thing is coming right on time.

For example, Monterey, in hearing about the Butterfly stroke, is thinking of the cute butterfly, not this other one. She has been doing her best version of her concept of the butterfly in the pool. It is far daintier and cuter. And come to think of it the butterfly is not a very good name for something that looks so menacing. How 'bout the Bat or the Viper. I mean look at that man? Is there anything dainty and delicate about this? So now we can't watch him without thinking of Monterey doing the true butterfly stroke. She needs to go back to Tiny Tots.

Maya on the other hand is writing letters to friends and is so into school work, I find myself hiding the blank paper because that girl can draw upwards of twenty pictures a day, all of which she wants mailed to her closest friends. Which was fine, until she noticed a little thing called a stamp and now that she knows the difference between a real letter and the fake ones we have appeased her with, we are starting to notice how expensive stamps are. She needs to go to Kindergarten.

Are they twins? Apparently they are and not only that, they are Siamese twins because they were trying to talk me into buying this pair of shoes for dress up and they demonstrated how they could share the one pair.

McKayla is excited about going back to school. Of course that applied to five minutes after school ended. Not only does she love school, but she really misses seeing her friends all day long. Even though there have been many emails and several very long phone calls, it does not take the place of that daily interaction. Here she is, ordering for us at Sonic. She knows her stuff. Here is her new 'do. She got it thinned because she has so much hair. Now maybe she can wear it straightened, the way she wants. She is so ready to go back to Middle School.

Madison has loved every minute of the summer. She is a little nervous about the fifth grade, because she is very nervous about who her teacher will be and who will be in her class and how much homework she is going to have. She has enjoyed the shopping for school, even if it is mainly just purchasing uniform shorts and capris. We will get her a new supply of uniform shirts at Welcome Back Night. How fun is that? For me? Very fun. For her? She is doing some major coveting of her older sister's multicolored choices. Here we are at Panera enjoying our traditional "Dad is at class tonight, so we are going to eat at Panera" Wednesday night dinner. And yes, the big girls like bagels and cream cheese for dinner. I was laying down for a brief nap with Madison today and noticed that her body temperature was very hot. Mainly from the thick blanket she had over her and some from the two and a half hours we spent in the sun today. So I said: "Madison, you are so hot." I meant to say it like her body temperature was hot, but it came out like I was saying she is so hot like sexy. This sent us into hysterics. Giggling like crazy. For way too long. Madison needs to go back to school.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How Much Do I Love You?

Just a note before I get to the title of the blog, the girls went to a party that featured all the girly things imagined in girly heaven. These are pictures from Lillie's blog, by Lillie, lifted by me. At the party, they received cute party favors filled with all the things that make us love being girls. Lip gloss, nail polish, candy, you know. And of course, all of it in the prettiest shades of pink.

So now back to the post title.

That is the question I always ask my girls. Maya's response is usually "too much." Monterey's response is usually "so much." Well today, that love was tested.

No, I was not asked to donate a kidney to an ailing child. No, I am not dealing with the trauma of a child who declares they are moving out, or pregnant, or coming out of the closet. No, I was not required to throw myself in front of a moving vehicle to shield my child. And finally, I did not have two choose between my children as a sadistic Nazi tortured me. No, no, no, it was far less traumatic than any of those scenarios. But painful, nonetheless. Monterey asked me if she could polish my nails ... with hot pink.

The pain at observing my child making a mess and potentially making a huge mess if that bottle spilled, well, the stress nearly killed me. Do I have some compulsions about cleanliness? I have NEVER been accused of that one. I don't care for color on my nails, granted. I figured she would put it on, forget it, and then I would sneak into the bathroom and scrub it off with the polish remover. But no, she wanted me to keep it on. She was so proud.

In all honesty, by the time she did the final two nails, I was a little impressed. She did improve. And not once did she knock over the bottle. Of course since she is only three AND instilling her with confidence has been our goal since birth, she thinks she is a pro and wants to paint EVERY ONE'S nails. ALL THE TIME. I have created a Monster Manicurist! Someone help! Intervene! Please!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A New Calling

Last week, Ryan and I met with the Stake Presidency where he was extended a release from the Bishopric. I was immediately relieved, thinking that I would get to have my husband back on Sunday mornings and after church, AND be able to sit with him during Sacrament meeting.

About 10 minutes later the Bishop wanted to talk to us. I figured that he was probably going to offer Ryan a new calling right away or explain why he felt that the time was right for a change. No, the calling was for me and it was because of that new calling that Ryan needed to be released. Bishop James asked if I would be the Relief Society President. At first, I wasn't sure if I heard him right. Then, I got all emotional. Both my mother and mother-in-law have served in that calling. I have received so much service from so many great presidents that I was immediately overwhelmed by what this meant. And it was so unexpected especially since I just got called to Young Womens a couple of months ago.

So I will be floundering for a little bit as I try to put together names and faces and positions and everything involved. The Relief Society is Charity Never Faileth. I hope this means that all the sisters will have a lot of charity towards me as I try to figure out all that I am supposed to do.

So how do I feel about this new calling? Excuse me, I think ... I ... am ... going ... to ... hurl. Okay, I'm back now. What was the question again? Oh yeah, how I feel about this calling. Excuse me, I think ... I ... am ... going ... to ... hurl, again.

So you probably get the idea. Nevertheless, I am willing and I will pray more intently than ever that I can do it.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A First for Pool Group

Apparently there are two kinds of people: those who listen to the weather report and heed it and those who either do not listen or who listen and completely disregard what they are told because this is the desert so why would we have to worry about rain and thunder and lightning?

Thank goodness for the group who puts no faith in the weather report. Otherwise, I would have been all alone.

Storms, lightning, thunder, flash floods, ya-da-ya-da-ya-da. I mean this IS the desert. The temperatures are still well over 100 degrees. It is August for goodness sake and I was promised DRY heat when we moved out here. So, I went ahead with pool group like it was any other blistering hot day.

When we got to the pool, it was a bit overcast, but that is a good thing, right? We like a little shade, shadow, relief from the constant direct sunlight, etc. People still came: the Mattsson, Roberts, Terry, and Smith families came. Now it suddenly was getting a more cloudy, like as in no sunlight to be seen. We are all still enjoying this very unusual weather. We see lightning and hear thunder. Wow that is kind of neat, it is so far away. Oh look, how fun: it is raining. How unusual. How fun for the kids. The pool water was warmer than the rain so we kept on swimming. More thunder, more lightning. How fun.

Luckily Rachelle is actually paying attention and puts us on guard that the time between the flash and the boom was getting close. Too close. We watched and listened. Okay, everyone out of the pool. We went under the patio and enjoyed our snacks while waiting for it to pass. Cookies, grapes, otter pops kept the younglings occupied as the downpour started. How fun. This is so different for us that we are all enjoying the whole concept of rain. No problems.

And then ... the crack of thunder and lightening simultaneously. So close, it looked way to close. The kids were crying and screaming. The moms were gathering everything at lightening speed (pun intended.) Kids wrapped in towels being stuck in cars and equipment haphazardly shoved over the seats. The squeal of wheels.

The bottom line: I kept my squeaky clean record of zero deaths at pool group. And it was definitely one for the blog. (I did not take the lightning picture, I wish.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where all our money goes ...

When each of the girls were under a year old, I remember thinking how expensive diapers and formula was. I thought about all the money we would save when they got out of diapers and off formula. But, then slowly, it dawns on you that those were the good ol' days. That was cheap compared to what they start needing as they get older.

Every year, before school starts we do "the inventory" of clothes, shoes, and school related stuff (back packs, lunch boxes) to determine what they need for school, what they have outgrown and what needs to go to friends, Goodwill or the trash. (I try not to pass on socks and underwear that is full of holes and I am sure all my friends appreciate that.) Monday was McK's day. Her cast-offs were put into Madison's pile for Tuesday inventory. Madison's cast-offs were put in bags. Today was the big girls. Since they wear the same size, we could do them together.

Here is the "need" list for all four girls:
3 swim suits
1 church dress
5 school shirts
4 church shirts
2 pairs of running shoes
2 pairs soccer cleats and 2 sets of shin guards (not for school, but since soccer starts soon, we had to check that as well.)
1 pair school shoes
1 pair church shoes
2 sets of all new underwear
4 pairs of socks
1 pair jean shorts
1 pair jean capri's
7 school uniform shirts
2 pairs of khaki shorts
1 backpack

The "want" list is way too long.

The depressing thing is we are in the middle of growth spurts so these clothes will last (hopefully) until Christmas, when we do our winter inventory. And thanks goodness for two of them wearing school uniforms or the list would be even more scary. So it looks like I will see you all at Target and Walmart and Costco. I will be online at Old Navy and Children's Place.

I will be hearkening back to the good ol' days of diapers and formula.

Another First

All the girls had their dentist check up. That's right, I said ALL the girls. Monterey had her very first dentist appointment. She did incredibly well. Maya had explained everything to her the night before, even the different flavors she could pick for the cleaning. Maya was in the chair first and Monterey sat on my lap while she attentively watched everything her sister did. Next it was her turn.

She picked out her sunglasses and chose the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor polisher (of course this child would pick something with chocolate.) She laid back and giggled through most of it. She thought the polisher was tickling her. Of course, her giggle sounds kind of guttural so the other staff thought she was upset UNTIL I explained, no that is what her giggle sounds like. She was great and even sat patiently through the fluoride treatment.

Of course, the best part: NO CAVITIES! I was worried because she loves candy, but does not like to brush - it is a constant battle. But apparently, a battle I am winning.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Breaking Dawn

So the moment is finally here ... what we have all been waiting for. Twilight ... New Moon ... Eclipse ... and now finally BREAKING DAWN!

For the truly obsessed, we had to go and buy the book at 12:01 on August 2nd (think midnight on the 1st.) McKayla, our most obsessive was at Girls' Camp and although I was planning on going Friday night for skits and testimony meeting, McK was willing to forgo my presence to get the book as soon as possible.

So here we are at our local Barnes & Noble with the other psychos who could not wait until morning to get their copies. By psychos, I mean people like us so don't go thinking I'm judging people. Some of my favorite people are as crazy as I am ... case in point Portia and Holly came as well. At first, I felt like a bad mom bringing my ten year old. But I brought her when she was nine to Harry Potter last year, so I really couldn't say no. I felt much better when there were other moms there with five and six year olds.

Madison insisted we wear red and white in honor of the cover art. We also had a vampire cape. We got fangs painted on our necks. (Fangs were for Edward fans and paw prints for Jacob fans - we are all Edward fans.) We played the trivia game and got prizes. We brought Hot Cheetos and Red Vines for our thematic snacks. Here we are just minutes after midnight. Grinning gleefully that we were among the first (in our time zone) to get our greedy little hands on the answers to our many questions that have been stewing in our minds for months.

We got home at about 12:45 and I went to bed. Well actually, I managed to read for about 10 minutes. I could not push it too much because I had to be up at six to go to camp and bring home a car full of girls and supplies. Up at 6:25 and showered, carefully protecting my fangs so I could show them off, left at 7:00. I arrived at Big Bear at 9:00 and found my girl and my girls ready to load and go home.

When we got home, I lost custody of my beloved book. McK has only moved out of this position, under threat of me taking away her book, for two meal breaks, one hour of swimming and various bathroom breaks that I am not keeping track of. She is officially half-way done now. I have to wait until she is done. Actually, I am waiting until she falls asleep and then I will take advantage of 1:00 church to get a few hours of reading in. I don't like to share, but I am too cheap to buy two.