Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Surprised by Laura

Laura's birthday is September 1st.  She is married to Derek's third brother Brandon (the 4th child in the family).  Laura is a rather amazing person who I am somehow always managing to be surprised by.  She is smart and capable, and so I find myself being shocked to discover that giving lessons makes her really nervous.  This same Laura is perfectly willing to get up at a family reunion and sing karaoke while doing the air guitar.  I guess we all get nervous for different things.

Laura is very musical and I knew from the time I met her that she could play the cello.  She and Brandon have done a fun number for the family reunion before and she plays in a quartet in the town where they live.  At some point I discovered (to my surprise) that she is also a talented pianist, having played pieces that were much harder than I would dream of playing.  Then, at the reunion, she borrowed Devin's violin and played along with Brandon and Brynn (one of her daughters).  The funny thing is that she probably doesn't really feel remarkable for any of that -- but I think she is very gifted.

Laura has a very artistic eye, and a skill for writing about things in a way that makes them sound very appealing.  She has a blog, and I very much enjoy her photos and writing.  She also has music on her blog.  I like that because I am always discovering new songs that I like (that I then buy), or I discover that she is playing a song that I have just bought because I like it.  We apparently have similar tastes in music.

Laura and Brandon have four children.  They have three beautiful girls and one busy boy.  She works hard at being a good Mom and I think she is a fun Mom too.  Laura loves water, and loves staying on the beach and so they brave camping so that they can stay by the ocean.  She loves reading and shares good books with her children by reading to them.  She loves music, and she helps make sure they practice, and occasionally does musical numbers with them.  She loves the gospel and so she does things like help her family memorize The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  She shared a book of poetry with me and I was impressed that she had some of the poems memorized!  I think it is great that she is good at sharing the things she loves.

Another way that Laura sometimes surprises me is that occasionally I see a look in her eye that is almost mischievous, but is maybe more just her good humor showing through.  I think she is good at seeing the humor in every day things, and is also good at sharing fun stories. 

Laura is a wonderful person.  I am not sure why it is that I am always being surprised by her.  Perhaps it is because I do not get to spend enough time with her.  I'm surprised to find that a person I already think of as talented, has more talents that I didn't know about!  Laura is great.  I love her.  Happy Birthday Laura!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dancing Diana -- My Youngest Sister (in-law)

Diana lounging on the Jersey Shore this summer.
Picture by Kayli

Diana is Derek's youngest sister.  Her birthday is really September first on the same day as Sister-in-law Laura's birthday and my parent's anniversary.  I decided, rather than to write about all of these nice people on the same day, I would do one at a time.  So Diana's birthday post is early.

Diana was seven when I joined the family and now she is all grown up with a husband, three children plus one to come soon, and a house.  Her oldest son is the same age as my second son, which is interesting because I never stopped to think that the little sisters I gained by marrying Derek would one day have kids the same ages as some of mine and we could be friends in a whole new way.
Diana is sweet, and quiet, and smart, and talented, with a good sense of humor.  I like her laugh and she always seems so calm to me.  Maybe she keeps all of her stress tightly under control when I'm around.  In high school she was on the drill team and played the piano for the choir (in a spectacular fashion I thought).  In college, when she was dating Bryon, I discovered that she could draw.  At least, compared to my art work hers is very impressive.  She can also write.  She graduated from BYU in English and, when she was in college, I used to write a lot of e-mail to Diana and enjoy a lot back in return.  That was fun for me.  I enjoyed hearing about her college adventures.

Diana did not feel ready to grow up yet, but she married Bryon when she was 19 anyway because he wasn't going to wait around and she wasn't going to let him get away.  Bryon is great.  I particularly like him because I've seen him look at Diana like he can't believe his wonderful good fortune in getting to be married to her, and she deserves to be appreciated.

Unfortunately for us Bryon's studies, and now his work, took them out east to New Jersey where we don't get to see them often.  Diana has ended up living far from both hers and Bryon's helpful families.  Somehow she has dealt with moving to new places, child birth, meeting new people, sending her kids off to school, a child's asthma, and Bryon's long working hours all without family living nearby.  Now she is even trying out home school.  I am sure she will do a good job because I haven't really noticed her ever doing a bad job at anything.  She is good at planning and organizing.  When we went to New Jersey this summer -- all 8 of us -- Diana took really good care of us, and made it look easy.

I love Diana and am impressed with her wisdom.  I am thankful for her good example and her good attitude about things.  I really hope that her birthday will be a happy one.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dan Thomas -- My Sweet Boy

Dan has been my sweet boy since he was born.  Sometimes Derek asks why I call him that, but most of the time he knows.  I think Dan was thankful for me three times in one prayer the other day.  He forgot most of the other things he should be thankful for but he remembered me!  Today he is five.  Here are pictures of his big day so far.
Opening presents birthday morning

Dan's first day of Kindergarten -- his 5th birthday.

Iron Man Dan

Dan and Jake on Dan's first day of school.

Robot Cake -- Dan didn't want him smiling.

I'm glad he changed from requesting a "Spy Dog Cake", to requesting a Robot Cake!

Dan's Wiggle Bike
He got a little confused this morning and thought his birthday was already over because he was done opening presents.  I assured him it was his birthday all day.  When he got home from school he told me "My teacher is not the boss of me because today is my birthday and I can do whatever I want!"  I hope he didn't tell her that!  He came home with a crown on and he said his class sang to him.  He asked if Kindergarten was long for me when I was little.  I said no, was it long for him?  He said no.  He liked Kindergarten and he met some new friends, but he forgot their names.

Now he's playing the Wii which is what he told me he would do if there were no Dads and he could do whatever he wanted.  It's time to change activities though and I hope he will still be happy on his happy day after I tell him that there are Dads (and Moms) and so he can't play the Wii forever like he thinks he wants to.  Happy birthday to my fun, loving, dramatic, talented and funny sweet boy.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lady Lori's Birthday

Lori with baby Dan (2006)  I need to take more pictures of Lori!
Today is Lori's birthday.  Lori is my oldest brother's wife.  Ray married Lori when the rest of us were already married and having children and so Lori got to join a rather large and growing family.  She seemed to handle that easily even though she did not grow up in a large family.  Lori grew up in a good family and her parents are really nice people that we have enjoyed meeting on a few occasions.

I decided to call Lori "Lady Lori" because I think she has handled her marriage, and being the Mother of Michael, who has Fragile X Syndrome, very gracefully.  It has been good to see my brother Ray, who was terrified of marriage, come to obviously enjoy being married.  Lori is good to him, and she appreciates the good in Ray.  Ray and Lori live near my parents and they really enjoy doing things with them, and for them.  Lori calls my Mom a lot, and is thankful to have a good friend / mother-in-law nearby.

Ray and Lori's son Michael is about one month younger than Kayli.  He is 15, coming up quickly on 16, but he is severely affected by having Fragile X Syndrome.  While he is Kayli's age, his development is closer to that of a much younger preschool child.  Now that he is getting older, his behavior is being affected by hormones and he has been having a hard time, which means so has Lori.  Nobody could possibly love Michael more than Lori.  She spends a lot of her time caring for him, and worrying over him.  She is his advocate and works hard to find people to help him.  I remember my Mom telling me that Lori takes Michael to the park every day in almost any weather because he likes to be outdoors so much.  Even that has been hard lately because he is getting big, and it is hard to get him to do something he does not want to (like going home, or even staying at the playground).  He is getting quick too which might explain how Lori manages to stay in such good shape.

When Lori gets a little time to herself, or with Ray, she likes going to plays, and watching movies.  She likes to cook and is good at it, but she also enjoys eating out.  She likes shopping and enjoys beautiful clothing.  Lori loves family events but has often skipped them because someone needed to stay with Michael and she knew Ray wanted to go.  I often think of Lori and admire her for how well she loves Ray, and Michael, and my parents, and really all of us who she knows.  She is patient and she is good at keeping a positive outlook on things.  I hope that she has a very happy birthday.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The First Day of the New School Year

Taken as a whole, the first day of school was good and happy.

Trisa, whose picture I couldn't take since she's away at college, seemed to enjoy her first day of classes and had a couple of fun stories to tell me about.  She liked todays class too.

Tia, whose picture I just didn't think to take didn't go on Monday but did go today and will go through Saturday like she has the rest of the summer.  We did figure out today that if she could get the rest of her stamps done (she gets stamps for the things she does) she should be able to finish by about Thanksgiving.  So, anyone close by please go and get your hair cut, or nails done, or eyebrows waxed, or a pedicure, or something.  She is looking forward to being finished with cosmetology school.

Kayli had her first day of high school.  It was a good day with people she knew in every class.  She didn't even have to ride the bus since her friend's brother gave them a ride.  Kayli said that she freaked out a bit when she first walked in, but it turned out well and you can see that she looked lovely.
Connor braved the bus and the junior high with a good attitude, and other than some classes that he thought were boring, seemed to have a good day.  Today they changed a couple of his classes around, but that gave him a friend in Science and so he is happy about the change.  Apparently, in a windy hallway Connor's shirt was blowing and so he took the opportunity to walk "like a model".  That would have been fun to see.
 Jake's day started out well.  He was excited to try school lunch this year and the first day's menu item was pizza.  He got ready without complaint and looked great.  He did wear a jacket "just in case" and then was frying hot when he came home.  Unfortunately, the rest of his day was a bit hard for him.  During registration we were given the name of his teacher, who we visited during the "back to school" event.  I filled out papers, Jake seemed pleased.  On the day school started I went and talked to that teacher and arranged to help in the class.  I took Jake's picture and left.
Trey, Nathan, Jake, Brennan, McKay
Some time after I left Jake was told he was in the wrong class and he needed to go find a different teacher (they gave him the name).  He went.  The teacher, who is reportedly a very good teacher, also happened to be loud.  Jake, who doesn't like to go into things unprepared, thought she was scarey and mean.  When he got home I could tell he was upset and pretty soon he told Kayli what happened and then he sat on my lap and cried and cried.  I was a bit angry.  I do realize that it was just a mistake, but I do not really like mistakes that affect my children in a negative way.  I called the secretary, who talked to the principal, who eventually got on the phone with me, apologized, and told me Jake could go back to the original teacher.  She said that she is a new principal, and this kind of thing could happen for the next couple of years.  I sure hope she wasn't thinking clearly when she said that!  She said, "look on the bright side, Jake seems to have handled this okay",  and I suppose he did.  Today he went back to the original class and was a happy boy when he got home -- which made me a happy Mom.

I don't have a picture of Dan because his first day is on his birthday on Monday.  He did have Kindergarten assessment.  I sat and wrote down the funny things he said.

Dan:  "I can breathe!"
Teacher:  "You can read?"
Dan:  "No.  I can breathe, but not in water.  In the hot tub I sometimes fall in the water"  I think he proceded to demonstrate and she probably thinks we have a hot tub now since he didn't mention it's the hot tub he gets in maybe once a year at his Aunt Jenny's house.

Teacher:  Can you tell me the first sound in snake?
Dan:  No thanks.  I need a drink. (And then he went to get one).

He did really well at a lot of the test but I thought it was telling when he said "I forgot what the t.v. said about that."  He got most of his great knowledge from the television.  I love leap frog videos.  They make me look like a great Mom.  Dan was angry that we had to leave after his test.  He wanted to stay there and play.  A little school shopping cheered him up a bit.  What's not to like about new clothes and a new Toy Story backpack?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dan Said...

Mom, I can say anything I want in my prayer tonight.  Okay?

Looking amused I say, "Sure" (I never tell him what to say).

So in his prayer he says something like "Thanks that I wish there were no Moms and Dads so that I could do whatever I want."

Afterwards I said something like "You wish there was no me?"

And he says with a smile,  "But I still love you Mom".

I think the next day in family prayer he added what he often does, "And thanks that I love Mom" so I can't be too worried, except that apparently he wants to do something I don't want him to do!

While we were at Lagoon (the amusement park) he said, "I wish I lived here!"  Any time he walked past a ride he would say "That ride is my very favorite!", and as we were leaving and he was crying big, tragic crocodile tears, "But I didn't get to go on enough rides!"  That is one boy who loves "Magoon".

Today he was hungry and he asked when it was time for lunch.  I told him in about an hour and a half.  About five minutes later he came back and said "It's been at least an hour and a half, is it lunch time now?"

It's always fun to see what Dan will say next.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Running the River

A week ago today I was getting home from girls camp.  I was so exhausted I felt like I was rather fuzzy headed and I had multiple layers of dirt, bug spray, and sunscreen from the three days of river rafting and camping.

We went to Moab, changed into our swimming wear, got our life jackets, and got on a bus which drove us to the launch site.  The fun had begun!  Some of my favorite things were:
1.  Our first short float down a small section of the Colorado River without the boats.
2.  The good company of the nice girls and ladies in our ward -- including my Kayli.  I was glad to have someone from home there so I wouldn't get too homesick!
3.  The rapids, which were only class 1, or 2 at most (out of 5).  They were fun, especially in one of the "duckies" (which were two people kayak type boats).  I think I had a silly grin on my face every time I went through rapids.
4.  The scenery was gorgeous and I wished several times that I had packed a camera after all.
5.  No pranks were played on me.  I could hear them going on around me.  I opened my eyes to look at the stars but I was too tired to focus and everything was a blur and so I just listened to the fun until it was quiet enough to sleep.
6.  Derek's cot.  It has a mattress and everyone was jealous.
7.  The hat I borrowed the second and third day which kept my face from being fried.

The lack of running water and the smelly bathrooms with piles of buzzing flies was not my favorite.  I haven't missed them once.  The last morning I woke thinking "I smell like one of those potties".  Our YW president woke up just then and said "I smell awesome!"

There was a mishap with the cot and it didn't make it home.  It ended up with a different ward an hour north.  My friend went through quite a bit of trouble to track it down and drove a couple of extra hours to get it.  I'm rather impressed with her, and Derek will be extra thankful when he goes out camping soon.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More Reunion Pics

Chris and Jeff
Mr. Tibbs and Dan

Tia, Jeff, Trisa

Tina and Chris



Bryce and Kat

Lauren, Kayli, Emma

Connor and Mr. Tibbs

Jeff and Jenny


Ray, Lori, Dad, Mom