Saturday, November 01, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 20, 2014


Brigham tried out for the regional middle school orchestra, which was a much, much huger deal than I ever would have anticipated.  He was sponsored by the orchestra director at Canyon Vista, who kept talking about how competitive the auditions are, and how few kids get in.  I wasn't worried at all, Brigham is a great violinist.  He got the audition music a few weeks ahead of time, and had been practicing diligently.  When we got to the auditions early one very, very rainy Saturday morning, I was blown away by the number of kids there, simply for the violin auditions!  There were well over 100 kids and their parents all crammed into the cafeteria of a middle school in Round Rock.  It was amazing just watching and listening to all those kids warming up and practicing.  The audition was the most formal I've ever heard of.  The kids all went in groups to the audition room, and one at a time went up to play the selections in front of a panel of judges sitting behind a screen (I guess so they wouldn't be influenced by age/gender/race).  Each child played the first selection, and then a second panel of judges came in, and they all played the second selection, and then a THIRD panel of judges came in and they played the last selection.  When Brigham came out, he had a very unhappy look on his face, and my stomach just dropped.  He told me he played his first two selections perfectly, but absolutely flubbed the third.  He said he played it better the first time he looked at the music.  I don't know about that, but I know the crushing disappointment of messing up on something that you had played PERFECTLY a hundred times before.  But, that's how it went.  Both of us were not expecting him to be accepted.  But later in the afternoon the results were posted online, and he made first violin!  Toward the back, to be sure, but he made it!  He was very happy.

Nike shoes

Joseph is back home doing homeschool, after going to Canyon Vista for several weeks.  It's a long story I can't get into here, but he is doing great at home now.  He did come home from school with a NEED for Nike shoes.  Nike shoes and socks are apparently mandatory attire for middle school boys, and I finally relented when he found a pair he loved that were on sale.  He promised to take care of them, and he is so far!  He even ties the laces.  Amazing.


I almost don't have words to say how much I am loving having Rachel and Jonathan live so close!  Well, an hour and 45 minutes isn't exactly close, but it's about 11 hours closer than anyone else in our family!  And they have made the drive several times.
Here are some pictures from some of their visits over the past few months.
Jacob and Rosalia are both enamored of our animals--Jacob of our dog and Rosalia of our cats.  We are happy to share!

I just love this series of shots with Jacob and Sandy.

Conference weekend with the Jardines

Conference weekend was wonderful, as always.  
Brigham had a cross country meet in Shiner in the morning, but we drove home listening to the morning session, and in the afternoon Rachel came with Rosalia and Jacob.  Jonathan was sick at home, poor guy.
Rosalia was in heaven with the cats, of course.  They are getting pretty big now, and a little less excited about being carried about, but she is pretty good with them, and they are very tolerant.  :-)
She made beds for them in her bedroom and in the playroom, she had a birthday party for them, wrapped them up in blankets and carried them about, and had a great time.  
Jacob had fun, too.  He is talking so much now!  He has the most adorable way of saying "please" when he asks for anything.  It's impossible to say no to him.  He knows where I keep candy, and he brought pieces saying, "Please may I have a can-ee?"  How can I say no?!  I peeled a pumelo, which Jacob decided he LOVED.  He kept coming over to me saying, "Please may I have a piece?"  Melts my heart.
Moses made a big fort with chairs and blankets, which he and the little kids sat under to watch conference.  Mosey was really good with those little kids.  He's a bit like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, though.  Either he is getting along great with them, or they are annoying him to no end.  :-)  I wish he had some younger brothers and sisters.  

Cross Country

Brigham ran cross country this year!
I think he loved it.  I know I loved watching him.  He improved so much over the season, going from high 8 minute miles to low 7 minute miles.  He ran in the heat, he ran in the cold, in the sun, in the rain, and everything in between.
I loved the crowds and excitement of the meets.  He got nervous, but didn't let it defeat him.  He's always been good under pressure.
The Royals is an Austin area homeschool sports organization that competes mainly with private schools in the area.  This year most of the cross country meets were large invitationals with public and private schools, and lots and lots of runners.  Cross country kids are the best.  Everyone was polite, there were no crazy sideline parents, and as far as I could tell, every runner was a good sportsman.
I loved some of the long drives taking Brigham to and from meets.  The farthest was down in Shiner, Texas (yes, home of the brewery), almost 2 hours away.  It's a beautiful drive and Brigham and I were able to talk and listen to audiobooks (and listen to conference on the way back).
Here are some pictures from the season.
 Look at Brigham racing that bigger boy!  Both feet off the ground!

 And he's passing him!

After running a meet in the rain!  He was one of the earlier races-- I'm sure by the end the trail was a muddy mess.

This picture was taken as he is running almost to the top of a very long, very steep hill.  He looks strong! My cross country coach would have told him to lower his arms.  :-)  Something to work on next season.

Back to school pictures 2014

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.

Displaying Joseph capitol building web.jpg

Displaying Brigham aquarium web.jpg

Displaying Thanksgiving Point boys web.jpg

Displaying Brigham greenbrier 1 web.jpg

Displaying Mom and Mosey web.jpg

Displaying Joseph and Abraham web.jpg

Displaying Mosey and Josie web.jpg