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Friday, February 7, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Our 2013 Review

Happy New Year!  Here are some highlights of our family's 2013 year.  Personally, I think it will be a hard year to beat as far as good times go :).

This was the first year all of our kids were in school all day which left me (Jenna) more time to volunteer in the kids' classrooms.  More time for lots of things!  I've now "finished" my book, and am trying to get it ready to submit it to publishers :).  This year I've truly discovered a love for running.  I completed my first half-marathon, and put well over 1000 miles on my tennis shoes this year (who knew?  I honestly used to hate running!). My favorite runs are with Jeff--we were doing a 10 K together every Saturday for a while, or with my good friend Karen. My other most memorable change in 2013 was becoming an adult Sunday School teacher in our ward.  This can be quite overwhelming, but I appreciate the growth I'm experiencing in the challenge.  I had some special musical moments at the end of the year, at my own voice and piano students' recital in my home (a first for me as a teacher!), and when I got to solo in my new choir's Bach Christmas Oratorio.  It's been an exciting and fulfilling year. 

It feels so good to be singing again!

I volunteered to be the mascot for Tate's school Bookfair...that was a sweaty great time :).  I love spending about an hour each week with his class.

I had to include this other favorite experience of my year--getting to spend a couple days with my family at my little brother Ellis' wedding in Idaho.  I was sad I had to make the trip on my own, but was so grateful to be present for the celebration!


Jazz and I reached our 15 year anniversary in February!  What a blessed 15 years we've had.  I'm so grateful to have this amazing man at my side.

 Jeff wrote his own summary of the year that I'll include at the end of my post (in the comments section).  The only thing I'll add to his highlights is that he just completed (and was released from) 2 1/2 years serving as a Primary teacher in church, which was a great challenge and learning experience for him.  He's left with his other two callings, as the ward choir accompanist and the 11-year-old scouts leader.  Our ward has been blessed by his many talents! 

We were excited to spend a few days in Ohio with Jeff's brother's family in July.  That meant the world to us, since we're so far away from everyone!  That trip was definitely one of the highlights of 2013.
Oh—one more thing he surely wouldn't have mentioned, since he's never been one to brag—is that our beloved Superman was elected Educator of the Year by the students at his college!  We're all SO proud of him!

 Clark, in 8th grade, just reached the ripe old age of 14. This was a year of trying new things for Clark. He joined the track and field team, specializing in discus, and got his start in running there. In the fall he continued to develop his running skills as he ran with the cross county team, ending the season with a fabulous personal record on his 2-mile run! He is continuing his love for sports playing basketball right now, while he saves the rest of his passion-energy for his trumpet. He's dedicated in his practicing and loves his private lessons. He's dreaming big, planning to be a professional musician when he grows up, and we love to hear him play. 
Another new thing for Clark: his first fish--caught, prepared, and eaten during our Ohio trip :)

Clark and I did a 5K together in the summer.  Be not deceived by this months-old photo...YES, Clark is taller than Mom now!

Dana, 12, seems to have changed from a young girl to a young woman overnight.  (She, too, is only an inch away now from passing Mom up in height!)  She spent the year reading tons of great books, keeping her grades up in her honor's classes, proving herself as a talented pianist, and even letting her voice shine...she sang "Popular" from Wicked, which earned her entrance into the Music chapter of the Junior Honor's Society.  She has a great group of friends, and she IS a great friend.  We're all blessed to have Dana Darlin' in our lives!

Our Audrey is now 10, in 4th grade.  She's spunky and sassy and could teach the most professional of actors a thing or two about drama.  She does not love playing the piano, but makes up for that disinterest by loving her new instrument, the flute!  She practices her flute without being asked regularly and is already shining in her skills there.  And her vocal ability can not be stopped--she could out-sing any Frozen character in a sing off from the movie's soundtrack :), hands down!  She loves babies and counts the days until she can become an independent babysitter.  Not much longer now! 

Audrey is in heaven when there are babies to be held.

Tate, 6, is in first grade.  He still has more energy than the rest of his family combined, which is a challenge when it's too cold to run around outside.  But he has found some positive indoor creative outlets—he creates rubber band bracelets (or rubber band snakes longer than he is tall) faster than you can say "Rainbow Loom," and he can build Lego Chima structures faster than he can open them for Christmas.  He doesn't even need help anymore.  This week he has insisted on beginning his piano lessons, though we all believe him when he tells us that his primary instrument will be the drums someday.  Meanwhile, we'll just continue trying to keep up with him.


We are grateful for all of our dear friends, and wish you a wonderful 2014!

Friday, October 11, 2013

One on One

My life seems to be changing at a quicker pace in some ways.  My babies are growing up.  With all of them in school now, my daytime schedule is all new.  My evening hustle and bustle is ridiculous.  Though my parenting plate sometimes seems unmanageable, it's all very rewarding.  I'm learning new ways to appreciate my blessings all the time.  Lately, I've been reflecting on each one of my kids as individuals, and feeling incredibly blessed to have each one of them in my life.  I would like to show you a little bit about the one-on-one experiences I have with each of my four little blessings.

     Shark is my big boy.  My very big boy.  My days of being taller than him are numbered, he has just over an inch to go!  He'd like to think he's 13 going on 21, but I'd say he's 13 going on 14, growing up just one day at a time. 
      Part of my weekly one-on-one time with him comes every Tuesday night, when we go on our newspaper delivery date together.  Although we're not together the whole time, we get to spend a good 10-15 minutes together just the two of us.  Sometimes we just listen to his choice jazz music radio station.  Other times he asks me to quiz him on his new Spanish vocabulary words.  I like it when he tells me about his friends, including the girl that he likes.  I like it when he blindsides me with his amazing wit.  He has always had a knack for cracking me up at the most unexpected times. 
     This school year he has developed a new talent in running on the Cross Country team.  At his last race this week, he had the goal of completing the 2-mile distance in under 15 minutes.  He did it in 14:30!!!  And his second of those two miles was his fastest yet--a 7:04 minute mile.  I am so proud of him for working so hard and showing such improvement over the season!   I loved going to his meets and cheering as he crossed the finish line, sometimes with pain on his face, always looking like a strong champion to me.
      Just one more sweet connection we have--he's getting to be quite the musician!  I love to hear him practice his trumpet and had a great time sitting outside listening to his last private lesson.  Listening to him get all enthusiastic about his progress is heart warming for me. 
     When we're not butting heads figuring out this new parent-teenager dynamic, he's all mine to laugh with, to hug, and to love.  I love my big boy Shark.

     My Didi is sweetness, calmness, and lovingness.  My best one-on-one time with her is at 3:15 p.m. every day, as she is the first one to come home from school.   She saves her best tell-all expressions for me for that instant when she walks through the front door.  I'll either get a frown with frustrated eyes as she gives me the low-down of middle school friendship drama :(, a closed-mouth smile with relaxed eyes to tell me that everything is fine and dandy, or with eyebrows raised high she'll give me a "You're not going to believe what happened today, Mom!" greeting.  I love getting those few special alone minutes with her before anyone else comes home. 
     My Didi and I both find joy in writing.  Someday she's going to be a world-class blogger or columnist, or author.  She's a journaler, like me.  She's also a great reader, of course.  She still likes me to read to her at night, though I don't get around to it as often as I would like.  We both love her long hair, and I love her all-over beauty and humility.  She's becoming an athlete little by little.  This year she has become a leader on her volleyball team!  It's her third year of volleyball, I think (or fourth?), and I LOVE going to her games.  This year she and her teammates have started to catch the fire, focus, and win.  I think I might be the proudest parent in the crowd.
     She sings in the ward choir with me, which I love.  She has expressed interest in taking voice lessons, and that time will come, I hope (she's vocally ready but has her practice schedule already full with piano and saxophone demands).  Right now she's working on the really fun song "Popular" from the Broadway musical Wicked as an audition piece for the Honor's Society group Tri-M, and I hope that my encouragement gives her cofidence, 'cause she sounds amazing.  Hopefully I can post her performance of that soon! 
     It's easy for me to brag about my kids and their accomplishments (did I mention her straight A's?), but what I love most about my Didi is her kind heart and her quiet ways.  I can't get enough of her presence.  I can't wait to be one of her best friends for the rest of eternity.

     If there is ever a lack of energy in our home, it might be because Goldie is temporarily outdoors.  She radiates excitement, passion, and purpose.  She has been twirling since she could walk, and we still make daily efforts to control the cartwheels (they're not allowed in the house--she sometimes forgets).  She is now quite accomplished in her self-taught gymnastics moves, I don't even know what they're all called, but many of them involve the splits and U-shaped back bends that amaze all of us. 
     I get to have sometimes an hour of alone time with Goldie each day between the time Dad, Shark, and Didi leave in the morning, and the time she goes out to catch the bus.  (Tootie sleeps the latest.)  Fun elements of our time together include listening together to her favorite Disney Songs Pandora radio station, her asking for my input on all the different outfits she tries on, and me helping her make her lunch.  When Tootie is awake, the three of us will often walk out to her bus stop together, and whether it's at the bus stop or at the house, she always has about three kisses and a hug to give me for her goodbye. 
     She is our little singing piano player.  I've never seen a child sing along with her piano songs as much as she does.  She says she is counting the days until we will let her quit, but once she gets playing, beautiful sounds always pour out of her.  I'll soon post my new video clip of her singing and playing "Give My Regards to Broadway."  I hope we can find the right stage opportunities for her, because she shines so brightly in the spotlight!  She's hungry for that light just like I am, and I know she'll get it when she wants it.  She deserves it.
    Her Bear Pink Blanket is still her favorite snuggle comfort, but she saves the best love vibes for me.  (Well, her dad gets some of them, too.)  Last night we had one of those special moments as I was braiding her hair before bed, so she could wake up with it wavy.  "Do you think my hair looks good wavy, Mom?"  Like an angel's, Goldie.

     Tootie and I get our alone time after everyone else is gone for the day, starting around 8:15 a.m. and ending when I see him off to school at 9 a.m.  In the mornings is usually when we work on his homework together.  He reads to me, and we work on his beautiful handwriting.  He's super quick with his math facts, and loves to sing for me the learning songs he gets from his lessons.
     After school he's too busy for any resting or quiet time.  He's such an energy capsule, like Goldie, that when he's done with a full day of following rules in first grade, the last thing he wants to do when he gets home is sit still.  As soon as I pick him up from the school in our back yard, he throws his lunch box into the air for me to catch it, and then his back pack (the other parents duck out of the way).  If I can convince him to stay home long enough to get a snack into him, I'm lucky, and then he runs off to play with his best friend around the corner.  He's still learning to keep me informed about his running-around locations, so sometimes at the end of the day it takes a little while to find him.  Lots of safe places to play in our neighborhood, it's just hard to stick with only one.  You can understand why I feel best when he plays closest to home.
     Tootie and I also have the snuggliest reading time together at night.  I climb into his bed with him for a Scooby Doo story or he helps me read his Ninjago chapter books.  We end with a little back rub, and he stays in his bed long enough to fall asleep there.  He doesn't stay there though.  The floor is his preferred sleeping ground, particularly the floor in Mom and Dad's bedroom, which is usually where we find him in the morning. 
     When he's upset, he sometimes threatens to give me no more morning hugs.  That would be the end of the world for both of us, so we never let that happen.  If you've never had one of his morning hugs, or rare but perfect kisses, or bedtime snuggles, you're missing out.

 I love my four little big blessings.  I love my alone time, too.  But when it comes to choosing my favorite moments of every day and every week, you can bet it's being spent with one of these four awesome people.  (...Couple's time aside, of course.)