Saturday, July 18, 2015

Instagram has taken over blogging...

I really really really really want to get back to blogging someday. But for now, Instagram is doing the job on a much simpler level which currently fits my psychotic (or lazy) life much better. 

You can find me under brandonandallyson. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Summer 2014: June

Yep, I'm going back there. 'Cause now that I have SIX HOURS A DAY TO MYSELF EVERY WEEKDAY (still pinching myself--I wrote this post about it for Power of Moms and Deseret News), I have high hopes that I just may catch up on the 'ole blog.

As I've mentioned many times before, first and foremost, my blog is my place to record my family's history. And I do that ad nauseum. But I have another high hope that I can possible get to a point where I am caught up enough on my family's history that I can then go off on other tangents of which I have many thoughts and opinions. And maybe even get into some serious back stories. Because there are stories. I'm talking about life history stories B.C. (Before Children), not the least of which is mine and Brandon's love story which I started and never finished over two years ago. And with everyone in school all day this year, that actually feels like a possibility.

But for today? It's June 2014. June ended up being our busiest month of the summer by far. Kate had Girls Camp with the church the first week of summer (no pictures), Kate and Elizabeth both did some sewing lessons with Kate's friend's mom and made a bunch of clothes (Elizabeth) and an awesome cosplay cape (Kate--also no pictures), Will had Scout Camp the second week of June (more stories and pictures to come) and also participated in a couple of merit badge classes through the rec. center (which means we spent a good chunk of time in June pushing and prodding him to do the "homework" for some of the most tedious required merit badges--definitely no pictures), and lastly, we did two full weeks of Reynolds Camp the 3rd and 4th weeks of June. (That requires a post of its own, for sure.) And now that Brandon is serving as the Bishop of our congregation (yep, lots going on these last several months that I haven't recorded!), he attended a few days of both camps as well as the older boys' "High Adventure" camp where he just about died from dehydration. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but he did start to get pretty faint and sick after running out of water on mile 22 after hiking through 15 miles of slot canyons in southern Utah followed by 7 totally exposed to the sun miles in over 100 degree weather. All in one day. (Yes, another story, and you guessed it: no pictures.)

So while the older kids and Brandon were away at their various camps, me and whoever was home managed to fill in the blanks quite nicely. Our Kate-less week was interesting, because the other teenager in the house kind of morphed back into a little kid while she was gone and was perfectly happy to hang out with and play with his little sisters more often than not. Isn't it interesting how dynamics can change so much when just one family member is taken out of the equation?

There was a good day or two completely taken over by squirt gun wars:

 And Will learned that when he cuts the grass he should BAG IT:
Another full day or so was taken up by creating this mini box apartment from our patio furniture boxes. Imaginative, cooperative, tech-free days like this make a mother happy. Wish they happened more often: 
I took the three of them with me up to Salt Lake one afternoon to a lunch with some of my Power of Moms friends and then to an antique store William was dying to go back to (he and Brandon had gone before): 
Outside Blue Lemon up at City Creek:
Will had some money burning a hole in his pocket and almost blew all of it on a cool, old pocket watch (it was really expensive!), but I talked him into thinking about it for awhile and he's never mentioned it again. Elizabeth, on the other hand, just had to spend some of her money on a (much less expensive) vintage camera from the time of her Molly American Girl doll and the year Mimi was born. (Not that you're an antique, Mimi, but the 40's were quite awhile ago. :D)
 No, it doesn't work, but it sure looks fun and makes for great pretend play: 

That same day my kids were excited to be asked by a neighbor who was going out of town to feed and walk their dog for a couple of days. Dolly is a big girl: 
We introduced Will to the new Museum of Natural Curiosity down at Thanksgiving Point which is SO fabulous. Unless you're a 13-year-old boy. This was the one time in the week when Will was NOT on the same page with the rest of us. And why both of my sweet little girls have their fingers on/in their noses is a mystery to me:
 And then Kate came home, and Will left for Scout Camp. The morning of:

Turns out he was the only one who got completely gussied up in full Scout regalia. I think he looks awesome, even if Scout uniforms are a little corny:
Such a great group of boys, and his Scout leaders are absolutely fantastic, too: 
I wish you could hear Will tell his own stories from Scout Camp because you would be rolling with laughter, but suffice it to say, on the second day of camp, he didn't drink enough water for the heat/elevation/physical activity and ended up in the E.R. on I.V. fluids due to heat stroke after throwing up like 11 times when he tried to guzzle down a bunch of water too late. Once I found out what happened and how he was being treated I was okay, but my heart almost jumped out of my throat when I got that unexpected late night call from his Scout leader saying, "Will is just fine, but . . ." (Of course I knew that meant he wasn't just fine.) 

Isn't this a nice room with really nice equipment? Wouldn't you pay $900 a night for this room? Apparently I would , because I just paid the bill yesterday. Moral of the story: drink lots of water when camping in high elevations in Utah!!
My surgeon husband has a favorite phrase he likes to use when I get too worked up over petty little childhood illnesses and accidents: "It takes a lot to die." Yes, yes it does. And Will was far from death the next afternoon after his leader brought him home late, late, late the night before and he slept until 2pm. Insufferable:
And then the very next morning I drove his rehydrated booty right back up to Scout Camp so he could complete all those crazy merit badges I didn't want to have to do with him at home. Because I'm that kind of supportive, involved mother. Doesn't he look like he's being totally deserted here:
Everyone was glad to have him back. And he was definitely glad to be back and not under the protective wing of his mother anymore:
And then, if you can believe it or not, after driving the two and half hours back home, I noticed I got a text from Will's leader about 5 minutes after I left saying he had cut his finger really badly in his woodworking class and did I want to come back. Seriously? No. He is the son of Mr. It-Takes-A-Lot-To-Die, so I was more than happy to hear that they just super glued that finger back together. His finger couldn't have been cut that badly because after never picking up a gun before in his life, he got 5 bulls eye's in a row on his first try in the rifle shooting merit badge class. I guess I have a natural sharp shooter on my hands! (One of the guys in his troop who hunts frequently with his dad was suddenly very interested in making Will his friend.) 

With Will back at camp, the girls could get back to doing our own thing. Like getting a group haircut at the nice salon I usually only go to myself. All of them were in dire need of a really good cut and not just the whack across the bottom that they do at the walk-in places where I take them 95% of the time. Aren't they so pretty?

Finally checked out the shiny new aquarium in a nearby town. The shark tunnel:
Best shot of the day for an iPhone: 

 Maybe this one is the best. Rachael's face: 
 The chronology gets a little fuzzy from here on out, so I'm just throwing down the rest of June's pictures at random. 

Utah has some really, really good shaved ice stands in the summer. Hokulia is a new favorite:
Elizabeth and I walking the girls (of the canine variety). June is one of my very favorite months because it's usually not too hot, everything is still green (as opposed to dry and yellow as it sometimes gets here in Utah in the late summer), and it feels like summer is going to last forever. That's what I was thinking about on this walk: 
 The creek behind our house. Will is the only one who tubed it this year, but I sure love to look at it:

The girls thought it was great fun to have sleeping bag "slumber parties" in our bedroom with the dogs several different times this summer: 
Much like the finger in the nose picture, why in the world Rachael is wearing this random arm band from one of the Halloween costumes in the basement is beyond me:
Rachael comes into our room to sleep in the middle of the night a few times a month anyway. I woke up to this hysterical sight one morning:
Swimming lessons with her bestie:

After Brandon started functioning as the Bishop of our congregation, I pretty much needed a different, less time-intensive position at church myself. How about team teaching the adorable three-year-olds? Several of them are quite a handful, and if I spent most of my days at home with squirmy babies and toddlers I might not appreciate this job, but I've been surprised at how entertaining it can be to try to teach theology to these little faces:
I spend a lot of my time just giggling. Especially the Sunday one little "Sunbeam" (as this class is called) was being spotlighted in Primary (or junior Sunday School) and when asked why she loved to go to Bear Lake with her family she replied, "Because that's the lake I get to pee in." What more do you need?

Teaching Will to pump gas for me. He has to learn sometime:
And now it's time for a brief Mommy brag moment where I point out that despite the lack of a medal hanging around his neck, all three of these kids earned some kind of exemplary music award this year. Will was invited to participate in an honors recital as the top scorer for his level in cello. Ditto for Elizabeth (whose program also included a medal), and then Kate just got the medal for a top score several years in a row in harp with no honors recital option. Thank you for listening:
 I was on a fresh squeezed O.J. kick every morning for awhile. Delicious:
And green smoothies:
One Saturday in June Brandon and ditched the kids for most of the day to attend the wedding and wedding luncheon of Brandon's cousin's daughter at the Manti Temple:

More shenanigans at the Museum of Natural Curiosity in the theater room:
 And outside on the playground:
Father's Day weekend we got together for brunch with Brandon's parents and #6 (Brent) at #2 (Damon)'s home shortly before we went to church. Three pretty awesome dad's right here worthy of celebrating:
I can't even remember now how this began, but we started talking about nose size among the Reynolds boys, and I instigated a series of pictures to determine who, indeed, has the largest nose: 
 It took quite a few times to get one with no one smiling:
I sent this pic to the other brothers not in town and soon the most tech savvy brother (who also has the smallest nose) had everyone "weighing" in:

That was the last we saw of Brandon until much later that day, so I thought it would be appropriate to snap the annual Father's Day picture from the stand where Brandon now sits every Sunday. We can usually catch him for a few minutes in between Sunday meetings and services so I took my opportunity. Am I a lucky woman, or what? Look at this bunch:
And then this picture of me with my own wonderful father:
The caption I posted with this one on FB on IG said, "What is a father? Someone who wastes and wears out the best years of his life sharing everything he has to offer in the hopes of giving his children all they need to be happy and successful. That's my dad. He's been "holding" and "feeding" me for as long as I can remember. Love you, Dad! Happy Father's Day!" 

I would have much rather celebrated him in person, but sometimes insufficient tributes are all we can do.

Speaking of great dads, Brandon has been uber focused on getting our kids proficient at golf this summer. I know I've written about this before, but we aren't really competitive team sports people (especially after moving to the competitive team sports capitol of the world where you can't be on a high school team unless you received private training from a personal coach from 18 months on . . .). We like the idea of being active in sports and activities that can be enjoyed throughout life and together as a family. Brandon really likes golf, but he hasn't played much over the years because he hasn't felt like he could justify the time away from family when he's gone so much already, but now that the older kids have taken a liking to golf, he can have his cake and eat it too. And the good news is that Kate will most likely be on the girls golf team this year:
All three of the older golf playing members of our family have nice golf clothes, so why in the world they are in Vans, cargo shorts, and flip flops on this day I can't tell you. But you're probably not a golf clothing snob anyway, so I'm hoping you'll turn a blind eye:

 Actually, the flip flops are on the girl who doesn't have any golf gear:
 Thank you, Will! Golf shoes:
The family that plays together, stays together:

Okay, this is really sad to me now (for reasons I will disclose in a future post), but I started training for a half marathon in June. I have always said I'm not a runner (and I'm not) and how much I despise running (because I do), but Will's best friend's mom somehow talked me into training for the Hobble Creek half marathon with her and even managed to get me excited about the process of training for and hopefully accomplishing this pie-in-the-sky goal. The furthest I had ever run without stopping up to this point was 2 miles, so when I got to 4 miles I was definitely feeling pretty proud of myself:
 After one of our Saturday morning long runs together:
My regular summer morning bike rides and runs were a highlight of my day and on occasion I would have to stop and take a picture or two of the gorgeous scenery. Or the llamas in the hood:

On this particular day, I ended my run on the trail behind our house and took a few "before"pictures of our "yard":

Because the very next day the machines started rolling in:
So exciting! We're getting a yard! (Significant progress has been made since this picture was taken, but I don't think we're looking at grass until September . . .)
Rachael has spent most of her childhood either pretending to be an animal of some kind (primarily a dog, cat, or cheetah) OR being pregnant/having recently given birth. She told me the night before this picture was taken as she was drifting off to sleep that her twins were going to be born the next day, and lo and behold! It came to pass:

Identical twins. Obviously:
The Utah County Parade of Homes lands in June, and that's always a fun date night for Brandon and I. One of my favorite ideas this year was this picture frame collage on a spiral staircase wall:
 And framed family recipes from a mother/grandmother in the kitchen:

 Love these colors for a girl's room:
 And using book pages as wallpaper for a tiny book nook:
My walls are still bare despite all these grand ideas, but we have some other home improvements going on right now.

Summer Solstice date night with my honey. This was taken after 9pm:
Todd (#3)) came up to Utah from SoCal for a few days in June with his son, Tyler, while he attended one of BYU's summer sports camps, so we got all the Reynolds currently in town together for one big night of family fun and frivolity:

One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew Brandon was demonstrating one of his legendary homemade Pepsi One light backpacking camp stoves for #3 on the dining table:
 Where's the flame?
 Impressive . . .
And since we now had one of the contenders for largest Reynolds boy nose in town with us, the picture taking recommenced as did the absent brother's analysis via group text:
 #2, #6, #1, #3 We were missing Marc (#5) who was in London doing some opera directing, but the rest of his cute family was with us. 
Top contenders:

Trent (#4) is the small nosed, high tech analyst in Santa Monica who couldn't be with us either, but was happy to text in the results of our experiment:
Cute cousins playing dress up like Asians:
Where one finds such a thing and why one makes it I have no idea, but this sperm vase from our dear friends in Iowa is right up this urologist's alley:
A year's worth of super unique birthday and just-for-fun gifts came in one big package right before Brandon's birthday from some of our oldest and dearest family friends. We met the McLeod's at Courthill Condos at the beginning of Brandon's first year of medical school when Kate was just a newborn and Betsy was about to give birth to their first, Isabel. We love them for a lot of reasons, but how can you not love people who send you cool random gifts like this?
Tenzi. The McLeod's find the coolest things you've never seen or heard of before:
 Kate and I both got prescription glasses in June . . .
We attended a humungous extended family swim and BBQ at Brandon's Uncle Don's home one Saturday evening and this was the best picture I came home with. This is probably less than a fourth of the people there:
A new move-in to our congregation. Turns out she was the mission companion of my younger sister, Elizabeth, in the Canary Islands back in the early 90's. The Mormon world is a crazy small one:
 Rachael spent a few days being Twilight Sparkle around the clock. At breakfast:
 The pediatrician's office:
The little girls took a couple of week's of tennis lessons and decided they like it so much they signed up again with the same fun college guy for a few months this fall. Another lifelong individual sport we can play as a family--yeah!
My father-in-law finally retired from urology at age 70, moved out of the home he and my mother-in-law have been renting for the last year while they decided what they were going to do (sold the family home Brandon spent his teen years in a year prior) and moved into a nifty little condo in Provo in June. Kind of a big deal! These were taken the night we helped with the moving process a little bit:

Whew! Who is still here besides my Mom (and maybe Tiffany :D). Martin? Anna? Are you as tired as I am? And just think, I didn't even include the pictures from the 2 weeks of Reynolds Camp that we held here at the house. That's coming up next.

But first, my very favorite picture of the month. Little Miss Personality dancing in her bedroom:

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