Monday, August 23, 2010

Back to School

Here's Robbie, smiling because he knows that's the quickest way to get his photo-nazi mom off his back. I asked him to lay out his clothes last night and he couldn't be bothered, telling me he'd just grab whatever in the morning. Just a hint of the I'm-too-cool-for-my-parents stage starting to emerge. I'm so glad he has one more year of elementary school left, I am not ready for Jr. High.

Joey says he's not excited for school to start, but he's so social and energetic I have no doubt he'll come home happy. He didn't care much what he was wearing today either, except he insisted on sneakers, not his Teva's, which I thought would keep him cooler. Joey had the heaviest backpack of the three, and the only homework for the first day.

Ellie was the only one who admitted she was excited to start school, and she was all about the outfit. She really didn't need any new clothes, but I let her pick out a few, just to have something new to wear on the first day. She really belongs at a private school, since she kept gravitating toward the uniforms. Here's what she settled on:

And of course Ainsley still wants to be just like her big sister.

Poor Ainsley, if she'd been born a couple of months earlier they'd all be in the same school for one year. She was sad to see all of her playmates leave for the day, but perked up at the promise of a trip to the park, with a packed lunch, just like the big kids.

Right now she's got a friend over, and they're playing downstairs. It is exceptionally quiet here. I love it. It might even make up for the hectic mornings and stress of homework.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Busy Saturday

We were up at 5:30, me for a 12-mile run with Mandy, and Rob off on his bike for about 70 miles (including a new PR for Emigration Canyon, 32:39). I came home in time to fix french toast for the sleepover crowd, then cleaned house and went grocery shopping. Meanwhile, Ellie got to go to lunch and pick out yarn for the blanket Grandma's knitting for her. Robbie got to go orienteering with Shawn and Jonas (thanks again Shawn!) and then over to Grandma's pool for more scouting fun. To top it all off, we had another Nichol family reunion. Round one was just two weeks ago, with my first cousins. Today was a bigger group, my mom's cousins.

Singing the Tooty-ta song:
Then home for a little lawn-mowing and Sunday prep. As much as I don't like the afternoon schedule, I'm grateful for the chance to sleep in!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sleepover, check.

After spending the day back-to-school shopping, this was really the only way to fit in one last bit of summer fun.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Being the "yes" mom

I have a feeling that if I had someone recording every word I said and ranking them, "stop," "don't" and "no" would be pretty high on the list. So today I tried to say yes more. "Can we go to the park?" Yes. "Can we invite the Stringhams?" Yep.

Can we get slurpees? Sure. Just doing our part to keep Dr. Boyden in business.

Yes to serving five different things for lunch today, yes to playing the Wii (probably too late to start summer enrichment at this point).

Do we have to go to SEP's (that's what they call parent-teacher conferences now)? YES. That's right, you too Rob. See, I'm getting really good at saying yes.

Mrs. Price and Robbie.

Mrs. Pettit and Joey.

Mrs. Rohaj and Ellie.

After hearing about Melissa's SEP experience, I must say, I'm relieved. We only have one get-to-know-you assignment for Monday, and the usual expectations for reading, math facts and spelling. I'll keep practicing my "yes" when the kids ask if they have to do their homework.

Oh, and I also said yes when Rob suggested we go out for dinner. I could get used to this. :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tonight's Sunset

View from the back yard:

And from the front:

Monday, August 16, 2010

At least they're not playing video games...

Sometimes I wonder if some of the requirements in scouting are outdated. I know I've never been in a situation which required me to tie a bowline knot or lash something together. Now I'll know who to call for help if that need surfaces.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Inspiration—Clayton Christensen

In addition to his neglected personal blog, Photo Scrooge has a bona fide business blog, with readers all over the world. A couple of weeks ago he posted this. I like the idea of posting what's inspiring me lately, and Sunday seems like a good day for that. We've been fans of Clayton Christensen for a while now, and I loved reading this new article by him in the Harvard Business Review called How Will You Measure Your Life? I highly recommend reading the whole article, but here's an excerpt that really hit home for me:

"In using this model to address the question, How can I be sure that my family becomes an enduring source of happiness?, my students quickly see that the simplest tools that parents can wield to elicit cooperation from children are power tools. But there comes a point during the teen years when power tools no longer work. At that point parents start wishing that they had begun working with their children at a very young age to build a culture at home in which children instinctively behave respectfully toward one another, obey their parents, and choose the right thing to do. Families have cultures, just as companies do. Those cultures can be built consciously or evolve inadvertently.

If you want your kids to have strong self-esteem and confidence that they can solve hard problems, those qualities won’t magically materialize in high school. You have to design them into your family’s culture—and you have to think about this very early on. Like employees, children build self-esteem by doing things that are hard and learning what works."
One of the things we've tried to incorporate into our family culture is dinner together. My family was never very formal, and though we have had many memorable dinners (usually with lots of guests), we didn't have the habit of sitting around the table together each night. Rob's parents continued the tradition of Sunday dinners even after the kids had left home, usually the whole nine yards—roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh baked rolls—served on their beautiful china.

We're somewhere in-between. I'm not quite willing to wash dishes by hand, and neither is Rob. But we do manage to sit around the table most nights, even if we've ordered pizza or take-out. I even managed a nice tender roast today, although no gravy (most of us had sweet potatoes, so it wasn't really an issue). I love the chance to ask everyone about their day, and hopefully the kids are learning some form of etiquette. Sundays everyone has a chance to tell the family what they learned at church, and that tends to be a good discussion. I know this is a tradition that will get harder and harder as the kids grow up and become involved in more extra-curricular activities, but I'm sold on the benefits of making this effort.

Maybe in a few years this'll look fancier. Or not. Rob did give me a standing ovation for the food. He knows how to keep a good thing going. :)

14.28 miles

Only 49 days until the St. George marathon, and this is my longest run so far. Scary. I'm testing out the theory that it's better to under-train than overdo it and end up injured. ;) I did run over 26.2 for the week at least. Plus three hours of swimming for cross-training this week.

Thanks again, Mandy and Julie, for making this run more pleasure than pain! And thanks Ralph, for being awake and letting us intrude.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Jack Johnson

Rob swears I never answer my cell phone, and it is true that I might not notice I have messages for days. I'm really glad I had my phone with me this morning though, since I got a text from Natalie asking if I wanted to go to the Jack Johnson concert with her. I jumped at the chance, knowing that she has at least 765 friends (last count on fb) who would surely be more fun at a concert, but selfishly not caring. The show was epic. We were on the floor, with the "hey wow" crowd. I pointed out that I was easily the most conservative person in the pit, and Natalie said, "Well, I'll give you that." :)

Loved G. Love, even though Natalie was worried about subjecting me to "The Booty Call."

Zach (Vince :) Gill was awesome on various piano instruments and vocals.

The whole band was great really.

But let's face it, here's who we came to see, and he did not disappoint.
It was almost 1:00 a.m. by the time I got to bed, and I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. for my long run, but it was so worth it. Couldn't have been better. Thanks again Natalie!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It must be the end of summer...

That usually when we try to pack in a few last fun activities before school starts.
As usual, Melissa is a few steps ahead of me, and has already covered the zoo trip here. She mentioned how great it is that each kid (okay, except Peter, really sorry about that) matches up with one of their cousins, not only in age, but in true friendship. I can't remember the last day that Ainsley hasn't asked to play with Duffy.
I don't have much to add, except a photo of Ellie and Amelia. I'll make sure to put this in your file, Melis.
I have at least three really great photos of Joey and Samantha—they're photogenic, and posers too.
My only photo of Robbie and Jonas isn't very good, I have to steal Melissa's. I took this one because even at the zoo these two can manage to find a screen to play with.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Sweet Summer Activity

Touring the candy factory has become an annual end-of-summer tradition with the Stringham cousins. This year we went in the late afternoon, and we'll have to remember not to do that again, as they were between shifts so just showed us video clips at each of the various rooms on the tour. But the kids each got to pick out candy at the end of the tour, so they didn't mind. We had no treats in the house in June or July, only the occasional treat out, and they were, literally, like kids in a candy shop.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

School registration

I admit, I'm ready to have some time to myself that does not involve staying up late. But I am not at all excited about our busier schedules or the homework that will be coming our way. Sigh.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Family reunion

It was a small gathering, just a couple of my mom's siblings and some of my cousins, but it was fun. Jim and Joan have an awesome home in Midway, and we used the clubhouse there. The kids enjoyed swimming and I loved playing ping-pong with my Dad, Cara and Rob.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Like a Virgin

I don't like seafood. And I always figured that the only thing that could possibly be worse was raw seafood. So although Rob swears it's the yummiest thing that's ever been in his mouth, I have avoided sushi. Well, I did try it once, about 13 years ago, but Rob says it doesn't count because it was "grocery-store" sushi.

But when Amy suggested Takashi for dinner, I figured any kind of hazing would be worth it to hang out with the Israelsens and the Farmers. Rob was happy to have a chance to convert me. was surprisingly good. No fishy taste. No weird texture. I liked it. Especially the sunshine roll. I did not try the sashimi, and I don't see myself craving sushi at this point, but I will go again. Especially if it's with these guys:

I asked Rob if he would be horrified if I brought my camera along, and he told me he was used to it by now. Hopefully I didn't embarrass anyone else too much. :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just a recap

I wish that I could always turn my daily photo idea into something clever or meaningful, but most days all I can muster is a recap of events.

Today was our last day of swim team, Ellie took 1st place in her heat for the 25 yard backstroke. She wore her medal all day. Awesome.

I got to go to lunch with Rachel and Marianne at Elizabeth's English Bakery and Tea Shop. The Welsh Rarebit and cucumber sandwiches were good, but the company was excellent. Why don't I spend more time with my friends?!

Oh, yeah, it's because I have kids. Here are the girls, after their haircuts this afternoon. Now that swimming is over it was time to lose the chlorine-damaged hair. Ainsley wanted hers as short as Ellie's. It's cute, but she looks so much older!

Then to top it all off, we went to the After Conference Party at the club. It was such a gorgeous, perfect night! Unfortunately there was lightning down south, so the kids couldn't swim, but they enjoyed the pizza, snow cones, ice-cream and hanging out.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Six-and-under wonders

Thanks to Melissa for taking the photo of the day. This is Jaqueline, Ellie and Amelia at conference, which is the end-of-summer championship meet. They swam the 25' freestyle today, and tomorrow will swim the 25' backstroke. Ellie did a great job, finishing 2nd in her heat.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Counting down...

We only have three weeks left of summer! How did that happen?! So I had the kids make a list of things they'd like to do in the remaining time.

Here's what they came up with:
  • candy factory
  • zoo
  • Boondocks
  • boating
  • Fun Center
  • free wii day
  • sleepover
  • book store
  • Gateway fountains
  • movie
  • planetarium
  • aquarium
  • taster test (they want me to make yummy treats and they'll be blindfolded and have to guess what the treats are)
  • go swimming
  • Park City
  • present day
  • kids help make stuff at bakery
  • all-day play day
I told them they were only brainstorming, and we probably wouldn't have time to do everything on their list. But after seeing what a huge mess they made playing at home today, maybe getting out of the house isn't such a bad idea...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Priesthood Ordination

As we were shopping for Sunday clothes I told Robbie that when I saw him all dressed up, it might just make me cry. I managed to hold it together, but it's hard not to flash forward seven years, when he'll be leaving on a mission. Robbie was excited to receive the Aaronic Priesthood today, and is now a deacon. That seems like a lot of responsibility for a twelve year-old, but Robbie is definitely up to the task. He is mature (well, most of the time), responsible and spiritually-minded. We are grateful for his example and worthiness.