Monday, January 31, 2011

The Last Five Days

Have been kind of busy!  

All fun stuff, but busy.  On Thursday after school, all three kids had their monthly group piano lesson, and then I immediately headed over to the elementary school with Will and Elizabeth for the big "Jazz Reading" event. Schools all over Utah are competing with accumulated reading minutes for a Jazz player to come to their school. This goes on for a month. Homework is cut in half, and the pressure is STRONG to read your brains out. Will said a girl in his class read 28 hours over the weekend??  Don't know if he heard that right . . .Will read "only" 6, and Elizabeth had one night last week when she read picture books to her dolls for two and a half hours straight!

As usual, I did NOT read all 18 lines of the one-among-fifty memos that came home from school (honestly, it's like a part time job keeping up on the homework, papers, appointments, special programs, fundraisers, etc. of school age children) so we were the only family without a blanket, pillow and books. Apparently, it was a "read in," and we luckily ran into some friends right off the bat who shared both their blanket and books. 

There were two big highlights of the evening. One, Brandon Mull (who lives across the street and whose daughter goes to the school) came and did a really great presentation for the kids on being a writer and his New York Times bestselling series, Fablehaven.  
But even better? Elizabeth won a copy of one of his books in the raffle and got his autograph. I wish I had a picture! She was out of her mind about it. Even started reading it that night with a flashlight under her covers. She's a great reader, but that stuff is totally beyond her comprehension, so she lost interest pretty quick. I think it was mostly the thrill of getting the thing all the older kids wanted--maybe in particular her older brother and his friends!  

Friday night Brandon and I went to a Travel Expo. Why? Mostly because an advertisement showed up in my inbox with a two for one ticket. (5 bucks--that's a pretty cheap date night!) Also because Brandon and I LOVE (the idea of) travel. We don't actually DO any, but we have big plans for "someday." If the stars ever align, we've got all kinds of ideas in the holding tank. After learning about European river cruises, and torturing ourselves with the reality that we CANNOT afford to visit our friends Scott and Betsy while they live with their children in New Zealand for the next four months (sigh . . .), we drowned our sorrows in yet more Japanese food. I could have miso soup every day and never get tired of it. In fact, they eat/drink it with every meal in Japan, including breakfast. (Okay, so we've lived in Japan. I guess that certainly counts as travel, but it was like 40 years ago or something.)  Before sharing some sukiyaki, Brandon had to try this little appetizer which I wanted nothing to do with--but isn't it pretty?
After forcing Kate to go to early morning church basketball (long story), some Saturday morning homemade waffles and chores, Brandon finally took the two older kids skiing and I had the pleasure of going to a place called "Jump On It" with the little girls. It's right up there with Chuck E. Cheese or a McDonald's playland. You know the kind of place--a parents worst nightmare, but a child's fondest dream. Okay, "worst nightmare" is an exaggeration, but of all the things I like to do with my children, these kinds of places are really, really low on my list. But I took them because I knew they would love it, and it would make great indoor exercise. And it was just that. And while I love to watch my children have fun (and join in when possible), Elizabeth was truly at her prime this day.  If I didn't have my eyes GLUED on her bouncing body, she was calling out the mantra all mothers of young children love so much, "Look, look, look, look, watch me, watch me, watch me, watch me!" I really think it could have made a Guiness World Record. So I finally started taking iphone pics of her to prove I was indeed watching: 

The last fun date of the weekend was the polar opposite: I took Kate to a harp concerto at Abravenal Hall in Salt Lake. Her harp teacher tipped us off, and since students get one free ticket a year, off we went! They were doing a really cool fundraiser for the symphony. Some of these painted violins had bids up to $2000!
The blown glass beauty in the foyer, with Kate at the bottom (more lovely iphone pics):
I was deliriously tired on the drive home, but we had so much fun talking about the book "The Outsiders." She's reading it in her English class. Of course, I never read the book, just saw the movie starring Matt Dillon and Tom Howell about 5000 times when I was in 6th or 7th grade. I put posters of Tom Howell all over my bedroom. Kate thought that was pretty funny. (Little by little, she's going to discover that her mother was indeed a shallow, blooming idiot when her same age . . .) 

We also just about drove off the side of a mountain trying to navigate through all the "fog" in the Salt Lake valley. It was so surreal as we came up over the mountain that separates the Salt Lake Valley from Utah Valley and we broke through the "wall" of fog, looking back down to see it blanketing everything.  Happy that inversion stuff stays put up there and doesn't creep over into our valley! (Knock on wood.)
Okay, so that's just two and half days, but the other two and a half days are completely un-newsworthy, other than our paper whites finally blooming!  I've been taking a picture a day, so the exciting progression will be forthcoming . . .

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I'm a bit of a sunrise/sunset junky.  Especially this time of year when there isn't a lot of color in the natural landscape other than white.  All of the following pictures were taken during the last month or so. It makes me mad when houses and electric poles get in the way, but most of these are taken either from my porch or my vehicle, so what do I expect? I dream of having a bunch of high tech gear and a serious off roading vehicle and being able to go wherever I want to for that perfect, unobstructed shot. A girl can dream, right?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dear Lizzie

These are the last of the "leftovers" from December, but I wanted them in their own special post.  

It was a Saturday afternoon, and Brandon and I were using our usual "divide and conquer" method for running errands. I happened to have all the girls, and Brandon, the boy. In between the grocery store and post office we decided to stop by "Dear Lizzie"--definitely the most adorable, girly boutique and bistro within miles of our downtown-less city. 

The little girls didn't fare too well since it really is more of a "grown up girls" kind of place. (More accurately put, Mom was having a hard time managing the little reaching hands and big, begging voices!) Kate, a self-declared "non-girly girl" was in heaven in this place. (She does have a feminine side, and it comes out in places like this, rather than with a group of girls swooning over Justin Beiber.)  

After looking around as much as we could without the little girls breaking anything, we settled in for some of the sweetest treats in town.  

I got kind of excited that day, thinking of all the "girly" things the four of us might do together over the years! 

Here are a few iphone pics:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Weekend Report & Leftover Pics

Because I'm sure the cyber world wants to know what the Reynolds' did last weekend.

I really do like to capture the random, everyday moments. I think those will be the most fun to remember years from now, because it's the seemingly mundane moments that really make up the fabric of our lives. (Are you thinking of that 100% cotton commercial right now?)

Friday night games: Rumis and Bananagrams, played by me and the three younger children. Sort of. As much as you can do games like that with a 9, 6, and 3-year-old. 

The brainiacs in the room (Kate and Brandon) watched two different National Geographic programs--one on the Vatican and one on how the human race originated in Africa. Did you know that the Pope's personal guards have to be from Sweden and at least 5'8"? (Speaking of the Pope, I'll tell you the worst Mormon/Catholic joke you'll never hear. This is for all my dear, dear Catholic friends - you know who you are. A cardinal says to the Pope, "Holy Father, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is . . . God is on the phone. The bad news is . . . he's calling from Salt Lake City." Don't say I didn't warn you!)

Back to our boring weekend.

After the brainiac movies ended, the nincompoop parent made everyone watch Jack Black on Yo Gabba Gabba. Seriously, it makes me cry I laugh so hard! (Yes, I have deliberately watched it more than once, for that sole purpose.) And it turns out the co-creator/director is Christian Jacobs, who just happened to be a missionary in Sendai, Japan with Brandon and I back in '93-'94. Not only that, but my sister-in-law Laura used to nanny for the cat, so you can see why I might feel such a special connection to that show. The episode is pure genius - truly, Jack Black at his finest.  

Saturday morning Brandon went to the temple while I took the kids to piano, minus Will who was starting to get sick. We pretty much stayed home for the rest of the day while I babied Will and worked on that darn book chapter--heaven help me if I ever get that thing finished! Brandon--bless his heart--took the girls to the grocery store. (He likes to do that so he can come home with contraband items like Mother's Circus Animal cookies.)

After getting the kids settled, Brandon and I went to (surprise!) a new (to us) Japanese restaurant called Shoga and a really, really good frozen treat place called Farr's Fresh.  In between the two, Brandon got to play therapist for the one hundred millionth time as I laid out all my emotional struggles of finding balance in motherhood, and other equally engrossing stuff.  (I jest. About it being engrossing. At least to him. He feigns interest pretty well, though. He really is a good husband for that kind of thing.)  

Sunday morning Will woke up with really, really bad croup. All of our kids are very susceptible to croup, but none of them have asthma--it's kind of weird. I stayed home from church with Will and did more babying. At his request, I read The Lightening Thief out loud to him while we snuggled up in the chair together under a blanket. (I think it's so cute how my older kids want me to read their favorite books so we can enjoy them together.) By the time Brandon got home with the girls, I was getting a "little" nervous because he was having a really hard time breathing.  

I like to think that in the next life we're going to find out all the why's behind the human connections we made in this one, and when we do, I'm sure I'll find out that one of the reasons I married someone who eventually became a doctor was because I would have otherwise died early from an anxiety attack or nervous break down (if that's even physically possible) when my children showed any sign of uncontrollable physical distress. (Uncontrollable meaning I can't stop the physical distress with Advil/Motrin/Benadryl/Snoopy Band-Aids.)

In the end, after someone's insistence, Brandon called an ER doc at the hospital who advised him to get some oral steroids before nighttime when the croup would surely get worse. And that, my friends, is when having a doctor husband is even better than a girls night out at a chocolate cafe: accessing the omnipotent power of self-prescribed drugs on a weekend!

Thank goodness for modern medicine, my husband, and Walgreens, because my boy went to sleep breathing easy!

So there's our exciting (or did I say boring?) weekend . . .

And these are some cute leftover pics from November/December:

First grade singing time, with special guest Rachael Reynolds.
Tasting Making cookie dough.

Tea party with Maddie.

Another grocery adventure.

 Makeover. (She looks experienced!)
The little girls are really into "horsey rides" up to bed.  (Nice shot of Brandon, don't you think?) 
Drawing lines.

 I'm so glad she's still got chubby "baby" cheeks and hands!
 Favorite pastime.
 Playing school.

 Favorite pastime in a box.
 Student of the month.
The next three pics were taken by Elizabeth and Will.

This is just an iphone pic, but I still love it.  Kate looking pretty, and way too grown up!
 Pure sweetness . . .

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mr. Funny Guy

There are a lot of reasons why I love my kids, and each one is different "in their own special way," but one of the things I love about William is that he is FUNNY! Not only is he funny, but he also laughs really easily--the kind of laugh that is contagious. I can't even count how many times I've ended up laughing just because he was, without even knowing what was so funny. 

The worst is when he does something "funny" that I know I shouldn't laugh at--in fact, should probably reprimand--but I end up laughing just the same. (Have you seen this video? It's a little painful to watch, but SO funny! Worst case scenario of laughing even harder when you're trying NOT to!) He's got a pretty wry sense of humor that I "get" just a little too well, so sometimes I end up not being able to control myself. Here's a sampling of some of the funny stuff that has come home this past week.

Looks like they're doing some training at school right now about bullying, and the kids were given an assignment to design a t-shirt advocating a "bully-free" lifestyle. Here is Will's. LOVE the bully:

Someone obviously labored to teach my son a lovely lesson on his divine nature last Sunday at church, because this is what he came home with:
But that's not what he originally showed me. This is:
Okay, this one might scare you, but if you knew how totally non-violent Will is you wouldn't be so worried. It was a good thing I got this out of his backpack and looked at it when he wasn't around, because I couldn't help but chuckle. (I know it's bad, I do, but it's also funny in a nine-year-old boy kind of way.) 

His teacher instituted a new "checkbook" program in which the kids deposit and withdraw "money" from their "account" based on behavior/classwork. Depending on how many points they have at the end of the school year, they can earn various prizes. Before starting the program, the kids had to practice how to keep track of their money in their checkbooks. This is Will's practice sheet. Everything was just fine until he lost "infinity" points for catching the school on fire. It only went downhill from there: 
The real kicker?  The red check mark of approval from the teacher!

Finally, this coming month at school is something called "Jazz Reading." Students from various schools in the area (maybe the whole state?) compete with school-wide accumulated reading hours to earn the honor of having a Utah Jazz player come to the school. Will's teacher is a HUGE Jazz fan, in charge of the program, and made sure our school won the contest the last three years in a row. Today when Will got his braces tightened, he chose the colors purple and yellow for his bands. For the Lakers:

I have no thought provoking insights. All my brain power is going into writing articles for Deseret News. (Today's will get you thinking. It's based on one of the articles I linked to a couple days ago about the Chinese way of parenting.) Again, feel free to go over there and make a comment. (And I was just kidding about having 2000 avid readers. No one is reading my blog but you, as evidenced by all your comments. But if you'd like to comment at Deseret News that would be fun, since it is actually thought provoking.) 

Last but not least: I have a new favorite chocolate chip banana muffin recipe. Seems like I always have rotten bananas at my house! 
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