Sunday, April 15, 2018

party on, reagan

about 5 years ago, before we moved from south carolina, i had a very hurtful experience that left me very gun shy about reagan's social inclusion. i learned about a birthday party that reagan had not been invited to for a child who i had thought was one of reagan's friends and whose mother i thought was one of my close friends. i learned about it in a way that left me feeling very mad. there are a lot of gory and hurtful details that i won't leave here, but it still makes me very angry and sad to this day. it's something i can't think about too much or i will still cry. i think some people think reagan doesn't notice exclusion, but he was the first one to put together that he hadn't been invited to the party. he's often keenly aware of how people treat him though he may not have the ability to decipher or handle a situation the way you or i would. he probably handles some situations better than i would because he has no guile or passive aggression in his questioning. i love a good comeback that can sting for hours. reagan just wants the truth.

but

"sometimes humility is overcoming hurt feelings when we feel others have mistreated us."
quentin l. cook

so i still have much to work on in that department.

contrast that with reagan's boy scout camp out during easter weekend. reagan loves scouts but mostly just the attending and being around the other boys part. he calls them his team. the boys are so kind to reagan and they always make him feel included. reagan will not attend an overnight scout camp out.  i don't blame him. i like my bed too. however, reagan's scout leader, johnny murphy, who acts exactly like you would think a man named johnny murphy would act, suggested that we have the scout camp out in our backyard. i said, "heck, why not!? what are we going to lose?" so the scouts planned a backyard camp out and we had pizza and watched a movie and i got a cake for reagan. everyone sang to reagan and reagan made it to 10 pm before he went up the stairs and crawled into his bed. 10 pm is 3 am to reagan. i woke up early and made my fantastic pancakes for the troop as a thank you for accommodating our special needs. then all the scouts went to the middle school field and played ultimate frisbee. maybe it was a small gesture to them but it was a huge deal to our family. being included makes a difference. i want to be the person that makes the effort to make a difference for others.




Wednesday, April 11, 2018

easter weekend needs no catchy title

easter weekend needs no catchy title

scarlett had her 5th grade field day the week before spring break and to say it was of epic proportions would be an understatement. i searched through my hazy memories of elementary school, and i don't recall any of the school events having as much preparation and publicity and merchandising as the events of this year. they had matching class t shirts, matching class sport socks emblazoned with "Westog's Wunderdogs!" across the calf, fair paint and colored hair spray. the event signups went out weeks in advance and parents were given parking passes so they wouldn't be towed from the stadium. there was a bus ride over to the high school stadium and a commentator and music playing throughout the day and several hard core track and field events. as my childhood friend, rachel said, "this is quite a far cry from using our toes to get marbles out of cold water and winning a jolly rancher stick. yikes." yikes is right. it was a really cool day but i also worry about what type of message we are sending when 5th grade field day is so highly orchestrated. apparently last year there were some heated interactions between parents, teachers and the scoring table so this year was actually toned down. i'm pro-athletics, but anti-unnecessary displays of ostentation. i only like necessary displays of ostentation.



scarlett participated in multiple key events like hulahooping, football throw and the relay egg and spoon race. scarlett had a lot of fun and thankfully her class won the overall prize. after the trophy was awarded, several cars were flipped over and set on fire in the parking lot.




herschel found his favorite thing as we were running for our car before the police showed up. a WINCH! a glorious winch!

that night was the scout camp out in our backyard. i'll go into more detail on that in a subsequent post but it was thrilling to say the least. blythe screamed herself to sleep because she wasn't allowed to sleep in a tent with the boys.

the next day was the beginning of easter/conference weekend. we enjoyed the glorious weather, the inspiring and uplifting and timely messages. my big takeaway from general conference was that the divide between the followers of Christ and the world is bigger than ever before. it's a glum realization. i didn't take it as a downer conference, but i feel i have to tighten up all my efforts more and more. casual flip flop gospel living isn't going to cut it. steel toed boots gospel living is required.


i had dreams of making shaving cream eggs that looked like this:
Image result for shaving cream eggs

they did not look anything like that. i don't even have a photo of the final product. but i had fun doing it. it was a mess and it just renewed my love for marbelized/tie dye designs. 

all that effort and the easter bunny forgot to put them out.
easter egg gangsta

sunday was our traditional hunt. i spiced it up a bit with 4 giant eggs with money in it. one egg even had a whole $5. blythe found that one and i might as well just go buy some brightly colored garbage for her with it.




we have no grass but lots of shade. it's our trade off.





some healthy scarlett skepticism on the candy distribution.

herschel did not change out of his pajamas at all that sunday. sunday best.


i also made chocolate chickens for the easter bunny to put out, but the easter bunny forgot about those too. the easter bunny seems to be really struggling this year to keep things together. 
max's chocolate chicken is a book and a max and ruby episode that holds a lot of meaning to our family. i tried to escape it but i'm now embracing it. there's a story behind that with a much deep meaning, but i'll save that for a later too. so much on my mind, such short windows of solitude to write down my thoughts and memories.





we had dessert with our dear friends, the roberts. abuela was there and she loves me the best out of both her biological daughters. mostly because she's never taken a road trip with me after i've eaten only garbage food.







Tuesday, March 27, 2018

happiness often feels like exhaustion

about 6 months ago i was called as the 2nd counselor in our stake relief society presidency. i know, i was pretty surprised, too. clearly, the lilburn, georgia stake has a labor shortage. 

as a presidency, we've talked to a lot of the sisters and we came to the consensus that the sisters want to do service and to socialize. we were thrilled that so many sisters wanted to be an active voice of service in our community. consequently, for our relief society birthday activity, we planned on each ward planning their own smaller service projects and then we planned 2 larger service projects on the stake level. the primary did a sticker drive for a local children's hospital and the stake relief society organized a clothing drive. we contacted a local women's shelter and they said they had a need for job interview outfits for women trying to get back on their feet after an abusive relationships or homelessness. we set our goal at 100 dresses, or 100 interview appropriate items. we also planned a big breakfast to meet the socializing needs of the sisters. 

 this is carol and koleen, our secretary and president. they are gems that i am lucky to work with.


i was put in charge of food, which i secretly dread, but i had lots of help and good input from the ward catering expert. we did 3 varieties of costco danishes and we had a build your own parfait section. also, because we had an interest in food for keto diet adherents, carol volunteered to make 30 lbs of bacon and bunch of no carb egg muffins. interestingly enough, none of the keto adherents showed up to the actual activity. this is why i don't take requests. but everything worked out really well, otherwise.

scarlett, danishes and me: a love story.
 scarlett was actually super helpful. i feel we've come to an age crossroads. a child that is more useful than not and requires little supervision. she worked all 6 hours we were at the chapel without complaining. she actually may have even said she liked it.

we had a pretty good turnout for having such a geographically spread out stake. reminds me a bit of the glorious days of my youth when the kansas city stake was 2 hours wide. we're not quite that big, but it's still difficult to convince people to drive 30+ minutes to a saturday morning activity.

i particularly love this table here. these sisters are in one of our spanish branches. we visited their branch recently and they are the most united, loving, loyal and service-minded sisters. i'm glad we are on the same team. i have much to learn from them. riverside unido!


scarlett and me and my visiting teacher, sharon. she comes every month without fail. she's almost 70 but looks 50. nothing is fair. i'm almost 38 and look 99. sleep is eluding me at this stage in life. 

we had everyone bring their donation and tag it with a short message and their name so that the recipients would feel love and support from afar. then we placed each item in dry cleaning bags so they would feel crisp and polished. i think next year i'll bring my portable steamer to touch up a few of the items for an extra va va voom. 

 

we ended up collecting over 150 items! it was a huge success. happiness often feels like exhaustion. i still have some reject items i have to drop off at goodwill. we had so many generous offerings and then we got a bunch of unwearable or weird stuff. we accepted everything but not everyone understood, despite our repeated requests, that we weren't passing along stained things or worn out, ratty blood drive t shirts or otherwise unwearable clothes. we were donating dignity to break a poverty cycle, not reinforcing their distressed circumstances. someone even brought an old bassinet that's now sitting in my garage. i had to convince athena blythe was not a new toy or an familial announcement. i'm hoping that it will find the exact person who needs it. maybe it's random appearance at the activity was all part of Heavenly Father's plan to get it to whoever needed to find it at my goodwill. that's how i'll look at it. i like being a participant in positivism. no coincidences, right?



the spirit of God like a fire is burning!!!

Monday, March 26, 2018

potato fest is better than it sounds


last weekend was a momentous occasion for our family. reagan turned 13 and we took a little weekend trip. 

what can i say about reagan that hasn't already been said? he's happy, he's particular, he possess no guile, he's a puzzle, he's a delight. 



on friday night, reagan wanted an alfredo pepperoni pizza(which he used to hate and now loves) chocolate cake and more framed family pictures. unfortunately, he told me that the night before his birthday and so i had no framed family pictures to give. i ended up getting him several new t shirts and a matching green jacket and sweatpants outfit, which he was not excited about at all and 3 bags of doritos and a jumbo bag of m&ms, which he was very excited about.

saturday we drove to waycross and we were able to meet thomas's mom for lunch at wong's palace. native waycrossians raved like it was manna from heaven. scarlett ordered the shrimp and lobster and as an added bonus it was served in a domed platter. i need to obtain a domed platter for the future entertaining. 

the reason that we made the trek down to waycross was so that thomas could reunite with his friends and revive their former band glory for one night only! thomas's friend jackson is the bishop of the waycross 1st ward and each year they host the potato fest. everyone brings potato themed food items and then everyone enjoys an amateur music night. potato donuts! potato soup! mashed potato and meatloaf cake! you know how most church talent shows are really long and uncomfortable and you don't know where to look because 90% of the acts are A-not funny. B- funny but not supposed to be. C- tone deaf either musically or politically? this music revue was the most talented church activity i've ever been to. there was one group that played music from ricky skaggs and kentucky thunder and i was in awe. they were so good. there was also and incredible lionel richie performance and the judds made an appearance and michael jackson and vanilla ice. 

thomas and his band dressed up as guns n' roses with thomas as axl rose. they performed "knockin on heaven's door" and i was so proud! all these years of reputable employment pale in comparison to this moment of musical preeminence. 

after the activity we had boys and girls sleepovers in our separate hotel rooms. it was so fun. especially since i got a whole kind size bed to myself and herschel was in the boys room. i felt like a teenager! a really cool teenager! the girls watched disney channel shows with no interference from reagan and hersch or thomas. everybody won! except thomas. he had to deal with hersch. 

we went to church the next morning and then headed back home. it was a short and sweet and really a great time was had by all. it wasn't very blog or instagram worthy but that's not why we do things.d





potato fest is now on our radar for a year trek. all the kids are discussing what musical number they want to do in the show. i'm hoping we can hit up the dirt track races too. 

the end.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

a little bit about everyone in february



february dump


in honor of the olympics, herschel decided to go for all the points for terrible behavior. nothing is safe. the stereotypical, "if you can't hear your child, they are up to no good" rings very true with him. the emptying of alllll the supplements and vitamins has happened on more than one occasion. 


just last week, he discovered my hair cutting kit, which was rather well hidden. he smuggled the shears into the car with him. as i was driving down the road during rush hour trying to take reagan to school, herschel announced, "I CUTTING MY HAIR!" i have no photographic documentation as i was driving with one hand and swatting blindly behind me trying to carefully dislodge the scissors from his hands before he poked an eye out.

herschel is exhausting, 
YET
absolutely refuses naps, unless the circumstances are just right and i sit perfectly still and only take shallow breaths and i am holding him on my face, with he special blankie "just so" while he sweats and drools onto my neck.


but darn it to heck if he isn't pretty cute when he's not being a dictator. 

we also celebrated his 3rd birthday on the 4th. i made an ugly cake that i spent way too much time on. 

but that FACE!





scarlett and athena blythe went to the daddy daughter dance. i think it was pretty fun for them and yet if they were given the option of attending the mother/son bash complete with BMX stunt riders and pizza, i think they both would have wanted to go to that instead, but still wear their fancy dresses. i know thomas and i both would rather go to the BMX show. 

athena blythe even let me curl her hair. 


 



reagan did a special olympics volleyball tournament. i was on the edge of my seat the whole time! mostly because bleachers are uncomfortable and i have a flat bum bum. i'd start a flat bum support group but it would also be called a family reunion. hahahahahahahahha. best joke ever.

reagan's incredible teacher mr. reese. he is a gift and an answer to prayers. 


these kids are always fun to watch in action. 


athena blythe wrote this story:
"the best retaurant is chik folay. i love it becos ther is a play grand. i like the chick nugits." pulitzer prize!


athena blythe shoved this gorilla hook in a light socket. i pulled it out without thinking. miraculously, we both still alive. take that, darwin. 



5 seconds later:


athena blythe is able to earn some special rewards at school when her behavior is what it's supposed to be and she always chooses a trip to the habitat room when she earns all the "ants on her log". that is her specially designed for athena blythe award system and it works for her. but only at school. i do not possess the correct ants or log or magical power that the ants on a log system requires. 



big highlight for me: i wore sandals one day recently. this has been a long winter for us, we're normally well within sandal weather at this point in march. 




tip for those of you like me who eat a lot of meals in the car: wear an apron. i ate a pre-cut steak and roasted broccoli while driving down the highway with no spills. just another highlight from my month. 


thomas and i ate at a great restaurant and saw black panther. it was good. thor ragnorok is better. captain america drives me crazy.



 FEBRUARY!