Sunday, September 07, 2014

Brigham's first cross country meet and other stuff

Brigham ran in his first cross country meet this morning up in Liberty Hill.  It was an invitational with about 10 other teams, with both middle school and high school races.  Brigham was nervous.  He has been training with his team only 2 weeks, and has been feeling a little down on himself since the other middle school boys are faster than he is.  It turns out that the other boys really are just very fast!  Last week at a 30-team invitational, the Royals middle school boys team came in 4th.  I'm not sure what their team place was today, but there were a few of them up in the first pack of boys to come in.  Brigham did just fine, despite his worries.  He was right in the middle of the pack and looked good every time I saw him.  It sure brought back memories of my cross country days and the utterly debilitating nervousness I was plagued by every single race I ever ran.
I didn't take any pictures.  I wasn't sure how accessible the course would be and I didn't bring my camera.  It was OK, actually, and next time I definitely will.  It was good to see Brigham hanging out with the other boys.  Cross country kids are so nice.  On the way home I got Brigham a Sonic slush (green apple with nerds is his thing these days) and we talked about the decisions he will need to make next year, mostly regarding homeschooling or going to Westwood.  I admit I would really like to keep homeschooling him, but I can see good things about going to school as well.  It will be his decision.
Speaking of public schools, Joseph's first two weeks are now under his belt.  Well, sort of two weeks, considering both were short weeks.  I hope he's learning some things about time management.  :-)  He's made the bus every morning and I haven't had to bug him about getting up.  Hallelujah!!!  But there have been a few bugs.  First of all, his bus route!  His bus has been late every single day, one day it was a half hour late, not coming until class had already started!!  And it has been late coming back.  On Wednesday I had forgotten to remind him that I'd pick him up from school to go to piano lessons, so after dropping Brigham and Mosey off, I went back home to wait for Joseph who is supposed to get off the bus at 3:58.  I waited until 4:25 and he still wasn't home.  He missed his lesson, and had only just gotten back by the time Mosey and Brigham and I got home.  Joseph tells me that the school has told him that they have too many kids riding the bus, but that they're going to fix things.  They better.  I would take Joseph, except that at least twice a week I have to take Brigham to cross country well before Joseph leaves for school.  And I really don't want to set up a situation where I have to bug him to hurry up so he's not late.  Also it has taken a few days for Joseph to figure out how homework works in his various classes.  He was sick a week ago Friday and didn't check the websites for homework, and missed at least one assignment on Tuesday.  And then he didn't have a geometry workbook and the first 125 pages of his geometry text book are missing!  The school has to order more so there's no replacement for him.  I went ahead and ordered one on Amazon so we don't have to wait on the school.  Wednesday night I went in to say goodnight to him and as we talked a little bit, he let it slip that he was really confused about homework assignments.  I had asked him earlier about homework, of course, and he said he didn't have any.  Well, we went out to my computer and checked out the different teachers' websites and discovered that he did indeed have homework the next day.  He was up until 11:30 finishing it, with me helping him.  I told him that couldn't become a habit.  But the very next night at 9:45 he came to me very upset and frustrated with a couple of long homework assignments that he hadn't done.  That night I was up until 12:15 with him.  I told him that over the weekend we would have a conversation about how to organize his time for these classes with all the homework for the week due on Friday.
I don't know.  I told him on Wednesday night that if he came to me at 10:00 again with homework he hadn't done, I'd tell him he was out of luck.  But it is only the first couple of weeks of school, and this really is a whole new world for him.  I've decided I will help him if he asks, but I will require him to come up with a plan for how to get his homework done, and I will not be bugging him or checking up on him to make sure it's done.  That has to be his business.  I think that sounds fair.  I've told his whole life I want to be on his team with school, not his boss.
To his credit, he wrote a really fabulous little essay for language arts that would shock me if it weren't the best one in his class.  And he has been happy and helpful (mostly) every day after school.  He's been getting along really well with Brigham.  So I'm happy.
Homeschool is going pretty well, although we've already lost our history book.  It boggles my mind how my kids can lose books.  We've torn the house apart.  It could NOT have simply winked out of existence.  It must be around here somewhere, but for the life of me, I don't know where.  Arg.
Rachel and Jonathan came with their kiddos today.  I stayed home with them for the afternoon and evening while Rachel and Jonathan went with several of Jonathan's coworkers and HBS classmates who had flown in for the weekend for some pre-UT-BYU football game festivities.  Ben went to the game as well, but didn't go down until just before the game started.  It was fun to be with Rosalia and Jacob.  Rosalia is delightful and Jacob is the most jolly little boy in the world.   I want to adopt both of them.  We went swimming and read books and ate watermelon and it was just great.
Well,  it is late and Ben is trying to sleep, so I will end this now.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Happy Birthday to me!

Here is an excerpt from my family letter detailing my birthday today.  I can't say I'm loving turning 38 (I'm not), but I did have a very nice birthday.
Hi family,
Rachel is sitting next to me at the kitchen table working on her family letter, prompting me to write mine!  Have I mentioned recently how much I LOVE having Rachel and Jonathan so close???  I can't even explain how great it is.  She and her family came up yesterday evening and celebrated my birthday with me today.  Jonathan went home tonight, and Rachel and the kiddos will stay till tomorrow.
Rachel and Jonathan made waffles with homemade buttermilk syrup and strawberry sauce for breakfast this morning.  She's invited to all my birthdays from now on.  :-) Rachel was all set to make me pineapple upside down cake too (flashback to all my birthdays on family camping trips with dutch oven upside down cake), but Ben and the boys had a dessert surprise already for me.  They got me single serving containers of lemon meringue pie, backlava, caramel-filled/chocolate covered cake balls, and half of a strawberry cake.  AND a bag of jelly bellies, sunkist fruit gems, candy raspberries and blackberries, and peach rings.  Do you think they know I have a sweet tooth?  I'm happy I have so many people here to share it all with me!  The boys also continued their tradition of each buying me a different type of flower to make a larger bouquet.  They are sweet.  And Ben took care of the massive wood/brush/branches pile behind our garage, which involved many hours feeding our weed chipper (my love language is service), so I am feeling very well loved.
It was really fun to go to church today with Rachel.  We both got a million comments about how much we look and sound alike.  I'm always very flattered to be told I resemble Rachel!

Here is a picture of the darling Happy Birthday banner my sister Rosalynde sent me.  It's so cute, I just love it.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dog days of summer

Can you think of a better way to while away long summer afternoons?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Last hospital bracelet?


I had to drive to Houston one more time on Thursday morning.  The HALT-MS study period (5 years) ended a year ago, but my oncologist, Dr. Popat wanted to see me again.  So after taking Brigham back from cross country practice, I got back in the van and headed out on 290 toward Houston.
I've come to associate that drive into Houston with major anxiety, and I wasn't really looking forward to it, but I was able to keep myself mostly distracted, and it wasn't too bad.  It helped that the only evaluation I would undergo was a blood test.
And it was fine.  The only difficulty was driving through a blinding rainstorm a few miles before Brenham, and then the usual horrendous traffic getting out of Houston in the afternoon.  Houston has the worst traffic of any city I've lived in.
After getting my blood drawn at the fast track lab, my blood counts came back all mostly normal.  All the important ones were in the normal range, anyway.  I got to wait for an hour and 20 minutes past my appointment time to see Dr. Popat, which is pretty normal for his office, but he is such a nice person, it's hard to hold it against him.
I still do not like going to that hospital.  It is too sad and I hate the aura of  "patient" that immediately descends upon me when I go through those doors.  Maybe this will be the last time I ever have to go there?  I guess I'll see if Dr. Popat wants to see me again next year.  It is pretty nice that he wants to keep track of me even after the study is done.  And he mentioned my Christmas cards, so I guess I'll keep sending those.
It's hard to believe that all of that happened 6 years ago.  At the time, I remember thinking how unbelievable it would be to have 12 year olds by the end of the study.  And now I have 13 year olds!  Time marches on, I guess, and I'm mostly glad about that.  .

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

first day of school

Today was the first day of school!  A new start for a new school year and another shot to revive my blog a  bit.
I spent almost the entire summer in Utah, going to physical therapy at a clinic called Neuroworx.  It was great fun being in Utah and spending time with family up there.  The boys all spent some time up there with me as well, so I was never alone.  In fact I contemplated staying up there through Christmas and having Brigham and Moses go to part-days of school there (Utah has a dual enrollment policy for homeschoolers).  But ultimately I decided to come home.  Joseph is going to Canyon Vista and I would miss him and Ben too much, and they would miss us.  :-)  Plus I kind of missed the 99 degree weather that is Austin in August.
Anyway, today was the first day of school.
It sort of started last night with a last-minute Walmart trip to exchange Joseph's school notebook for one without a warped ring.  He was putting together all his school supplies when we discovered the problem.  So I sent him to bed and went to walmart  and then came home and assembled his supplies into his notebook and backpack.  I'll miss him this year.  I think it's a good decision for him to go to Canyon Vista, and I know he will do well, but I'll miss having him around.
So this morning Brigham had cross country practice so I woke him up, got dressed, woke Joseph up, drove Brigham to cross country, came back and drove Joseph to school (just for the first day, he'll take the bus from here on out), went back to pick up Brigham, and came home again after 2 solid hours of driving.  Whew!  The first day of school for Brigham and Mosey and I was fairly laid back as I haven't totally finalized exactly what we're doing.  I'm trying to stay flexible.  We are studying physics and Renaissance-modern world history.  The other stuff is coming together as I decide finally on a writing program and make some decisions about logic/language/grammar.
I thought the day went just fine.  Mosey wasn't too thrilled about starting school again, but I'm hoping to win him over.
I picked up Joseph at 3:45 and from what he said his first day of school was just fine.  No homework, just  million papers for me to sign.  He came home and played really well with Mosey and Brigham.  I can see this might be an unexpected benefit to him being at school-- being with his brothers will be more of a novelty and thus more fun with less bickering.  He was challenged by his cousin Jack to participate in the "ice bucket challenge," so he did that this afternoon.  The ice bucket challenge is a funny facebook fad right now to raise money and awareness for ALS.  If you are challenged, you have to video yourself pouring a bucket of ice water over your head, donate $10 to ALS research, and then nominate someone else for the challenge.  Apparently ALS has raised like 100 million dollars just in the past few weeks because of this internet phenomenon.  It's pretty fun.  Mosey poured the water on Joseph's head, and it was pretty much the funniest thing EVER for him.  :-)
Brigham and Joseph had a back-to-school  pool party for mutual tonight, and I spent the evening working on curriculum for this year.  When Joseph got back and saw all my school stuff spread out on the table he said, "Why did I decide to do public school right when you're doing all this awesome stuff for homeschool?"  Well, that made me feel better about my homeschooling, but worse about him going to public school.  I really would love to have him at home.
Well, that's it for tonight.  Here are a few cell phone pictures from the last few months.  I have lots of pictures left to go through (most of them) from the summer, but here are a few at least.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

05/17/2014

Busy Saturday!  Mosey went on a scout field trip in the morning to the Vireo Preserve where they helped plant some seeds, clear trails, and do some conservation work.  Mosey did NOT want to go as of yesterday afternoon, but I put my foot down and told him he had to go.  He went, albeit reluctantly, and ended up having a fabulous time.  "It was AWESOME!" was his report when I asked him how it went.  See? Sometimes moms do know what they are talking about.
I did yardwork in the morning and then did errands for most of the rest of the day.  Ugh.  Took Joseph to Target with me to get groceries and prescriptions.  I am so glad Joseph still likes to go to Target with me.  He doesn't talk a whole lot, but we are together.  Later after putting groceries away, I took Mosey down to Austin Pets Alive for their kitten nursery "baby shower."  We brought a donation and got to tour the kitten nursery.  Just before we left, Ben said, "Whatever you do, do NOT bring home any more kittens!"  And it's a good thing he did because there were 3 roly poly little solid grey kittens that were like miniature teddy bears.  They were SO CUTE.  But 6 kittens is more, much more, than enough.
After dropping Mosey off at home I went to Jiffy Lube to get an oil change and my car inspected.  It failed inspection because I'm missing a clip on one of my windshield washer blades.  Really?!  Even though the wipers are 100% functional, I fail inspection because one of them is missing a clip.  So now i have to go to an auto supply store, track down this missing clip, install it, and then go BACK for a re-inspection.  I was peeved.  At least I sat by an interesting fellow while I was waiting.  Turns out he is the father of the guy who plays Simba in "The Lion King" on broadway (Andre Jackson).  No kidding!  He showed me pictures and talked for an hour (really) about his kids and the best way to raise kids.  He was a cool guy.
Meanwhile Ben and Brigham drove up to the cabin to go kayaking.  Joseph and Mosey stayed home.  I made banana break with a whole bunch of really black bananas and then pretended to try to clean the house for a while before deciding to do the infinitely more productive task of updating my blog.  :-)

Florida!

Just a few hours after we landed back in Austin from our trip to Utah, the boys and I got back on a plane and flew to Ft. Lauderdale.  The new Temple has just been completed and I really wanted to take the boys to the open house.  They've never been to a temple open house and this one was kind of special since it really is less than 10 minutes from where we used to live!
It was a quick trip, we got their Wednesday evening and we left again Saturday morning, but it was great.  We got to do all the things we were hoping to do and the weather was perfect.
Now for pictures!

Mosey took the flight tag off his bag and wore it as a headband onto the plane.  Funny kid. :-)


After getting to Ft. Lauderdale, getting our car, eating dinner at Pollo Tropical (of course that was our first stop!!), and finding our motel, the boys ran out to the beach half a block down the road and scampered around on the sand for a while before going to bed.

The next day we got up, got dressed, drove out to Cooper City to pick up my dear friend Melissa, and then went to the Temple!  It really is about 10 minutes, maybe less, from our old house.  A far cry from the 3 hours to Orlando that we used to drive to get to the Temple!  I believe the temple may even be within our ward boundaries.
Anyway, we took a tour, seeing some old friends from the ward who were working as tour guides that day.  The boys humored me for some pictures on the grounds afterward.  It was really beautiful weather-- sunny but not hot yet.  April is a good time for South Florida.


Melissa and me.  I sure miss her.









After the temple tour, we drove back into our old Rock Creek neighborhood.  I really wanted to see our old house again.  Last time we were here we didn't get the chance since the East Landing gate was closed and we didn't have the code to get into our neighborhood anymore!  But this time the stars were aligned and we happened to be driving by just as a pickup truck was going through the gate.  We piggy backed through the gate as well and drove down that oh-so-familiar street and turned the corner to see our house.

The first thing we notices was that it is painted a different color!  It used to be a very light green, which I actually loved.  It was the only paint color in the entire house that I liked (the interior was peach and lavender), but I really did like it!  Beige is so blah.  And then I noticed how overgrown all the vegetation is in the front.  The front living room windows are completely covered up!!  Someone needs to do a serious pruning job.  The landscaping left of the front door apparently did not make it, and the bushes in the middle of the front lawn were gone as well.  That is perhaps an improvement.  But overall, it looked better when we lived there.  :-)  I'm not sure if that makes me happy or sad.  I have so, so, so many memories of my little children in this house.  It felt like I could go in that front door and see little Brigham and Joseph and baby Mosey making giant messes in the tile room, the way they always used to do.  If only it were that easy.  What I would give for one day back with those little critters.  


But enough reminiscing.  After stopping by Publix for lunch and snack food, it was time to hit the beach!  The surf was pretty high that day-- rougher than it usually was when we lived here.  But it was perfect for my big boys.  Even though I've been to South Florida beaches dozens of times, I am still always blown away by the perfect turquoise of the water.






The boys started a fun game of torment-the-seagulls.  They tempted them to come near with crackers, and then took great joy in running in and scattering them before they could get to the crackers.


 Eventually Brigham started chucking sand at them.  Maybe I should have stopped him.  But it sure didn't stop the seagulls from persisting in their cracker-stealing attempts.



Meanwhile Mosey was being a lot nicer and letting the birds get some crackers now and then.  He was like the pied piper of sea gulls.


But mostly they played in the water.



And built sand castles.  I really loved seeing them play together so wonderfully for the entire afternoon.

Toward late afternoon, it clouded up and the water started getting pretty rough.  The life guards called everyone out of the water and so that was that for swimming.  Everyone left the beach and we had the whole thing for ourselves, even if the boys couldn't swim.

 Sunset on the beach.




The next morning Brigham and I woke up early and walked down to the beach to watch the sunrise.  We almost didn't since my phone's weather app said it was cloudy, and all the curtains were closed in the room.  But I stuck my head out and saw that it was most definitely not cloudy!  I'm so glad we went out there because it was really a spectacular sunrise.
















Once the sun was well and truly up, we woke up the other two boys, ate leftover pizza for breakfast, and headed out to Las Olas, Ft. Lauderdale.  There we got on a boat for a tour of the Ft. Lauderdale canal district, home to ultra-expensive mansions right on the water.  We had done this tour once when relatives came to visit us while we were living in Florida, but the boys couldn't remember.  Brigham really wanted to see this area as well because of his interest in architecture.

Yes, I sprang for the $10 tourist photograph since Ben wasn't with us to take any pictures with me in them!  The boys were really good sports about pictures this whole trip.


As I was sitting there watching my boys, I couldn't help but notice how Joseph and Brigham ended up sitting EXACTLY the same way.  It was like they were twins or something!  :-)

Even their legs were the same.



 And here are all three.  Even Joseph is smiling!
At the end of the tour I sent the boys running to the car to get my purse so I could get money to buy the tourist-trap picture.  Meanwhile one of the guys working on the boat complimented me on how well behaved they were.  He asked where their dad was and I told him he was back home in Austin working.  When I mentioned Austin, the kid got a big smile on his face and said, "Ah ha!  That explains it.  I knew they were too polite to be from around here."  :-)  Turns out he was born and raised in Dallas and he says he can identify Texans because of their politeness.  Yay for Texas!  Yay for my good boys!

After that we drove out to Holiday Park, right at the entry way to the Everglades.  It was pretty wild being there because I had taken the boys there a few times when we lived here before, just to spend an afternoon.  This whole trip was surreal to me, really, because when I was back there, it seemed like no time at all had passed from when we lived there before, except that now here I was with these giant boys!  Oh yeah, and there I was being in a wheelchair...  :-/
Anyway, even though we'd been to Holiday Park, we had never done the airboat tour, so I decided this was our chance.  I had heard it really wasn't that great and the best way to see the everglades was to go out to Shark Valley on the Tamiami Trail and take the tram ride and walk up to the observation tower.  And that IS a fabulous way to see the everglades for sure, and if you can only do one thing, that is the thing to do.  But the airboat ride was really, really fun.  Man, those things can FLY!  I had no idea.




We saw a number of alligators (although not as many as we have seen at Shark Valley), which is the main reason people go out to the Everglades anyway.










After the airboat ride there is an alligator show.  While we were waiting, Mosey was doing more of his pied-piper thing with crackers.  He also managed to befriend a cat that lived under the stairs.  :-)

Joseph got in on the bird-calling action.  Look at all of them!

The alligator show was pretty good.  Apparently there is an Animal Planet show called Gator Boys?  We've never seen it, but the show is filmed there and the people that work there are the main characters in the show.  The girl who was doing the show demonstrated different kinds of alligator wrestling techniques.  It was pretty impressive because she was this little thing dragging around these enormous scary alligators.


Afterwards, one of the employees brought out a baby alligator.  It was $5 to take a picture with the alligator, and Mosey really, really wanted to do it.  

I have to admit, it is very cool!

After the Everglades, we drove back into town and headed out to Tree Tops park.  That is a beautiful park and I wonder why we didn't spend more time there.  The boys hiked around a bit, Mosey chased some ducks and did his best to disrupt a photo shoot going on there (just kidding, Mosey!).  As I was sitting there looking around at the lush greenness that is South Florida, I looked up into a palm tree and saw about 3 other types of plants growing out of the palm tree itself!  That is how fertile South Florida is.  Trees actually can grow on other trees!

But the highlight of the day for me was meeting up with old friends for dinner.  We went to the Holdens' house, just down the street from where we used to live.  It made my jaw drop to see how much these kiddos have grown.  Cassidy, Brigham and Joseph's pal from Pre-K is about as tall as her mom now.  I think she and Joseph were right about the same height.  Helen and Liberty were little babies when we moved away.  And yet, when I was there in that house hanging out with my friends again, it felt like no time at all had passed.  I really miss them.
 Left to right: Joseph, Helen Holden, Brigham, Mosey, Liberty Curtis, Madison Curtis, Cassidy Curtis and Bryan Holden.


 Me and my girls Melissa and Vanessa.  I need to get them out here to Texas.

The evening was way too short, but we had to be up before dawn to get to the airport, so we finally really did have to leave.  We made one more stop on our way out of Rock Creek-- to the gas station at the corner where we used to stop on the way to Pre-K to get donuts.  Sometimes it was the only way to get a certain persnickety 4 year old into the car.  :-)  We used to get these really sort of awful pre-packaged sour cream type donuts and I really wanted to get them again for old times sake, but when we got there and went inside, we discovered it had recently been remodeled and they no longer carried our donuts.  :-(  So we got another equally sort of awful prepackaged pastry and were on our way.  But remodel or no, that place brought back memories.  I used to go there many, many mornings to get a huge diet coke to get me through the day.  It's how Mosey got started early on his beverage habit.  Even now he would rather drink than eat.  I used to have to fight him for my drink!  :-)
It was too short a night of sleep for my boys, but we made it to the airport on time and were back in Austin in time to make it to our Easter program orchestra rehearsal.  :-)