Thursday, February 13, 2014

Scotch Tape and Reading Calendars

I want to start a record of a few things that are working well right now for my family. Before I do so, I want to be clear: I am in no way perfect. I do my best and hope it's good enough, but I am constantly making mistakes. Just last night I brought Stella to tears when I told her that I thought taping something to her Valentine's Day Box would be worse than gluing it. (I don't care if she wants to tape it! It was certainly not worth making her feel bad and I didn't realize that she was so emotionally invested in tape.) This is not meant to be taken as advice for my posterity, my future daughters-in-law, or my contemporaries. I'm just taking notes for my own benefit.

The first thing I want to talk about that I have kind of sort of figured out is the Reading Log. Ugh. These have been a thorn in my side since Jack started school. That was nine years ago. Teachers send home these calendars that I am expected to keep track of for a MONTH and log the minutes that my kids spend reading at home each day. I hate these things. I have never had a problem getting my kids to read (in fact, I have caught myself saying things like "You won't be allowed to read if you don't fill in the blank.") They read for hours every day. When I pushed bedtime forward an hour, they were actually excited because it meant an extra hour of reading time. Reading is a nonissue in our family. The last week of the month would roll around and we were rarely able to locate the darn calendar and even then, we had no clue how much time we had spent reading. It was A LOT of time, okay?  Due to their love of reading, I felt like we were following the spirit of the reading calendars, even if we were always losing them and not turning them in.

I am embarrassed at how simple the solution is to this dilemma, and if I'm being honest, I wasn't even the one who came up with the fix. It was Stella. She's the first of my kids to care about her Reading Log. Guys, she TAPED IT TO HER WALL. Duh! She taped it above her bed and every morning she records her minutes from the day before. Then she helped George tape his Reading Log to the wall in the kitchen and all of a sudden I have two kids who turn in accurate logs of their reading minutes. We are going on four months in a row.

The reading calendar is the pink paper at the bottom. The sight words paper is for another time, another post.
Yes, it is unsightly. It's purely functional. Someone else would have a super cute bulletin board or some Pinterest project for their kids, but not our family! We stick it up there with Scotch tape.

We apparently love our Scotch tape.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The letter I wrote but didn't include with our Christmas Cards.




Dear Friends and Family,

Last year was the first year we ever sent out Christmas Cards and I thought “hey! Why not include a letter with this year’s card?” So, here’s a letter. Hopefully it’s not too annoying . . . because we are all pretty happy right now. Knock on wood.

Robert, or “Bob,” depending on who you are, is settling into his job quite well. At home, he is the builder of blanket forts, banjo accompanist to Jack, Creed, & Stella’s musical numbers, and resident dog trainer extraordinaire. One day he was walking the dog and came across a bull with its head stuck in a fence. After unsuccessfully attempting to locate the bull’s owner, he rescued the poor creature himself. He also rescued a baby deer this year.

Jack continues to excel in school. He is 14 years old and in the 9th grade. He joined the National Honor Society this year. He enjoys tennis, guitar, and chess. He and Creed learned how to wake surf this summer and can even go “wireless.” He is taller than all of us and at a whopping size 12 ½, his feet have finally slowed down on their growth. It is nearly impossible to buy him new pants, because by the time he makes it from the dressing room to the cash register he has already grown an inch. Let’s just say that he spent the better part of this year ready for any floods.

Creed, on the other hand, hasn’t grown since 2011. I am seriously ready for him to grow out of a few items in his wardrobe. He is a dedicated artist, pianist, and imaginer. He loves to lead Stella and George on backyard quests to kill dragons or slay zombies. He loves to play Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. He and his brother convinced me to take them to the midnight showing of the new Hobbit movie. I figure it won’t be long before they are actively avoiding spending time with their mother, so I’ll soak them in while I can. Creed is an excellent student and is looking forward to soccer season. He is involved in the school paper writing a comic strip. He is 12 years old and in 7th grade.

Stella is the kind of girl I wish I would have known in fourth grade. She is funny, smart, and conscious of being inclusive to everyone. She loves to ride her bike everyday, discovered Dr. Who this year, and sings with our church choir. She and Jack sang a duet in church on Father’s Day for the whole congregation. She danced in St. George Ballet Company’s production of the Nutcracker as the Party Princess for the second year in a row. Like fourth grade girls all over the country, she loves making bracelets out of tiny rubber bands. Her wish list for Christmas had three items: animal family figurines, a water cage for her bike, and new underwear.

George, George, George. Let me tell you about George. I bought him a pretty cool t-shirt with a shark on it. He refused to wear it because it had a little bit of pink on it. He is girl crazy in a way that his brothers never were. The kid loves blondes. Also: I’m pretty sure he was motivated to learn to read so that he could navigate the DVR by himself. He only likes bands with male lead singers with “good guitar” and prefers real rock and roll to anything pop. (Notwithstanding the fact that he can sing every word to “We Are Young.”) He is the King of Kindergarten, makes friends easily, and is pretty good at doing his chores. We are working our way through The Chronicles of Narnia together in the evenings.

You may have noticed in the pictures on our card that we have a baby. Her name is Lucy Pearl and she was born on April 25. Both girls have their daddy wrapped around their little fingers. She’s a baby, so she doesn’t do much besides entertain us all with her baby-ness.

My big news was the birth of Lucy. Watching her big brothers and sister dote on her is nothing less than delightful. She is almost 8 months old and I am still wearing maternity jeans . . . not because they are the only kind that fit but because they are the only kind I have and I’m too lazy to go buy new ones. Jeans weather doesn’t last long in St. George, anyway. I have reached the Taxi Driver stage with the older kids and I love the time I get to spend with them in the car. I am back in school and took an art class last semester so now I think I’m an artist. I have acclimated to the weather in Southern Utah quite well and love to complain about being cold when it gets down to 50°.  We are within 3 hours of seven National Parks and we absolutely love it.

Bob said this letter is too long, but I think you should just read it in the bathroom.

Let’s connect on Instagram!
Robert: @bob_r0se
Liz: @rosiedays
Jack: @pv_pumpkinking


I also (half-heartedly) keep up the blog: rosiepeaches.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Like Sand Through A Sieve

One day, as I was out and about with a four year old Jack and a two year old Creed, I acquired a copy of Walt Disney's "Mary Poppins." We arrived home that afternoon, popped the DVD in and pressed play. I remembered very little about the film from my youth. Something about dancing cartoon penguins and a song about a kite and that was it. I wasn't prepared for the huge impact that the family, the nanny, and the chimney sweep would have on my parenting style and my views about childhood. Granted, I was expecting a little girl (Stella!) at the time so a casual observer could chalk my reaction up to hormones, but a more studied look would possibly (hopefully) lead to a different conclusion.
Our Family, Summer 2003 (I think)
Right from the beginning, I was uncomfortable with how much I related to the Mrs. Banks character and her obsession with being involved with a worthy cause. (Let it be known that I am truly grateful for the suffragettes and my right to vote since that is what Mrs. Banks was busy fighting for.) I had a church calling that was time consuming, I was waiting tables three to four nights each week, and I was also on a community council that ate up many hours of my week. All while Robert was knee deep in his 2nd and 3rd year of Medical School and was rarely (if ever) home while the children or I were awake. I was involved in several good and necessary endeavors but I was constantly pushing my family's needs closer and closer to the bottom of my "to-do" list. I felt irritated when I was finally home with a moment to myself and my sweet, amazing boys started tugging on my clothes or climbing all over me. I had been attempting to compartmentalize and schedule my time with them and as a result I was never really present with them in the moment. 

So we watched Mary Poppins together and for me it was like 

"ZIP!" 

"BANG!" 

"POP!" 

"Pay ATTENTION, Lizzie!"

Remember how Mr. Banks was so upset with Jane and Michael because of their behavior at the bank? Remember how Michael just wanted to give his tuppence to the bird lady but Mr. Banks was trying to impress the bankers and make him invest it? And then the children ran away and ended up on the rooftops of London and eventually all the chimney sweeps in town swooped through the Banks household and Mr. Banks got fired from his job and he became more and more infuriated but he just couldn't quite pinpoint the reason? Remember how he tried to blame Mary Poppins for all of his troubles?

"It's that Poppins woman!" He said.
"My world was calm, well-ordered, exemplary.
Then came this woman, with chaos in her wake.
And now my life's ambitions go with one fell-blow.
It's quite a bitter pill to take."
Bert was there, dusting the mantle, and the camera settled on his face and his words and the lighting and all the Disney magic created the perfect storm for me to hug my boys and cry into their hair and breathe them in.

"You're a man of 'igh position.
Esteemed by your peers
And when your little tykes are cryin'
You 'aven't time to dry their tears. ...."

This is the part that I continually sing to myself, ten years later:

"....You've got to grind, grind, grind, at that grindstone.
Though childhood slips like sand through a sieve.
And all too soon they've up and grown,
And then they've flown,
 And it's too late for you to give
Just that spoon full of sugar to 'elp the medicine go down."

I know it's just a movie, and a pretty cheesy one at that, but this was the first really pivotal moment in my parenting style. All at once I realized that childhood is fleeting and someday my boys wouldn't be climbing into my lap, telling me stories, craving my attention.  I didn't have the luxury of being able to cut anything out of my schedule (I was getting paid for everything I was doing, except for church. Unless you count blessings) but I committed to be more present with my family. I committed to make eye contact with my babies and to really listen to them and pay close attention.

I realized that whatever I accomplish and no matter how involved in my community I get, my life's ambition is to raise my children and provide them with a home filled with love and service.

It's what I chose all those years ago and it's what I choose every day.

I'm no Mary Poppins, but since my viewing of that movie all those years ago I have strived to make their days more magical, more wonderful, and more filled with joy and play than before. When I'm distracted and they try to talk to me, I stop what I'm doing and pay attention. When I'm making dinner or cleaning house or doing homework and they want to be near me, I try to remember that childhood slips like sand through a sieve and it is a privilege to be the one who gives them that spoonful of sugar as they have to swallow the medicine inevitably prescribed by life.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Daffodil Moments

Last year I wrote about daffodil moments, and my blog is full of them. Here is the story of the origins of the phrase.
Teacups: 2011
Two and a half years ago I was standing in line with my kids waiting for our turn to ride the Teacups at Disneyland. It was February and we had driven to the Magic Kingdom from Iowa. Iowa is miserable in February. If there is any redeeming quality about Iowa during the month of February, I never found it. Iowa February is bitter cold, icy winds, and snow on my lawn that has been there since Thanksgiving. Needless to say, the blossoms and blooms that abound in Southern California's early spring were a delightfully uplifting reprieve. Even the older boys were finding joy in the splendor of spring.

2011: Stella had no interest in meeting princesses (believe me, I tried) she just wanted to meet the classic characters
Where was I? Oh, yes, the teacups. I was standing in line at the Teacups shuffling kids along their way so that we didn't let the space in front of us get so big that it started to bother the people behind us. That was where Stella noticed the daffodils. She started tugging on my jacket and pointing out the yellow trumpets and before I knew it she was reciting the poem "Daffodils" by William Wordsworth.

From memory.

I couldn't believe it. My little first grader had taken it upon herself to read and memorize poetry. Oh be still my heart. If there was ever a moment that I felt justified in my book-buying habit that was it.

2011: Love these kids

I think about that experience a lot. I return to it again and again. Since then, she and I have coined the phrase "Daffodil Moments" for times when we feel joyful and grateful. Sometimes we look at each other knowingly and one of us says with a smile "daffodil moment." Daffodil Moments are times that we don't want to forget, moments that we want to file away in our memory so we may access them when we are feeling "vacant" or "pensive" so that our hearts can be filled with pleasure and "dance with the daffodils" just like Mr. Wordsworth's.

Daffodils
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Life Happens


Thoughts and ideas float around the edges of my days, waiting to materialize and find their way into the universe. This record of my family, my children, and our daily life is more important to me than is evident by the attention it gets. 

We have been busy living and enjoying life.

However.

I don't want to be so busy living my life that I neglect to record just how fantastic life is.

And it really is. Fantastic.

Lucy Pearl was born on April 25. She has changed our family in many wonderful ways. She has softened the edges of my surly teenager and she has forced the five year old to look beyond his own needs.
Lucy Pearl Rose on her birthday 
 On Mother's Day, we revisited a favorite place: Cathedral Gorge. I took a Geology class last semester and bored delighted everyone with fun facts as we explored this Nevada State Park. The kids were excited to give me all their handmade gifts which included a cheese board from Jack, a coupon book from Stella, a card from Creed and I can't remember what George's gift was. Give me a break! Lucy was barely two weeks old and I was still in zombie-state. It was probably a picture that he drew.
Mother's Day 2013: Cathedral Gorge
Jack was in 8th grade this year. He was in the Math Club. Every Wednesday he woke up super early and went to school to practice math. They made it all the way to the State Competition! I love it when he gets his guitar out in the evenings and plays for us. I'm excited that I'm not "heavy with child" anymore so that I can let him whip my butt on the tennis court, too. Also, his shoe size is 11 1/2 and he is super tall. He wants his own room. He qualified for all the Honors classes at the high school. Yikes.


Creed. Oh, my little man. Every single day he arrived home from school with a huge smile on his face. He loved 6th grade. Science is his favorite subject. He is still passionate about art, dragons, and Benjamin Franklin. He entered a film in his school's film festival and wore his Hobbit Cloak to the viewing event. He got contacts and was able to put them in and take them out on the first try without any help. He played on a soccer team with and against kids twice his size. He still wears the same shoe size that he wore a year ago and he refuses to stop wearing his saltwater sandals. He is who he is and he makes no apologies. Oh that we could all be as self-assured as Creed.

This year Stella was in 3rd grade. She is still taking Ballet class and she even auditioned for the Nutcracker. She played the role of "Party Princess" and she was so confident and graceful onstage that we all cried when we finally saw the production. She was also the "sister" in the school play and probably did some other stuff too but I have a horrible memory and this is why I need to sit here more often and make a record. Oh, yeah, she works hard at piano and read all the Harry Potter books this year.


Georgie was my first child to officially attend preschool. He also spent a few days every other week at a babysitter's house while I went to school. Her name is Mabi and she is fantastic. It was in her home that he discovered his love of Chiuauas, the game "Jenga," and prepackaged fruit gels that I can only buy at the Latino Market. He is an attentive and kind big brother. He is a great reader and thinks that calculators are a viable substitute for playing on an iPhone. He still loves to snuggle me every chance he gets, but is willing to make room for Lucy when she needs to eat.
We had spaghetti for dinner that night, apparently George needed to save some for later.
Last but not least is my baby girl. Oh, Lucy. She is absolutely adorable. What can I say? She eats, she sleeps, she poops. Sometimes she smiles at us. She has a wicked case of baby acne. Everyone loves her hair. She is 8 weeks old and already she has been to the beach and flown in an airplane to San Antonio, Texas. We know she must be a Rose because she loves road trips. 
2 1/2 weeks old

And there you have it.

I want to paint a more complete picture of what life was like this year, but I don't have the time right now. It was pretty hectic. I was terrible at balancing motherhood, student life, church callings, pregnancy, and everything else in between (like writing on a blog or taking pictures.) I didn't make dinner very often and I missed a few school performances/obligations. In fact, right this moment, I remembered that I was supposed to send sprinkles with Stella to school during the last week for an ice cream party . . . and I didn't. I completely forgot until RIGHT NOW. 

Oops.

(I am on Instagram, are you? @rosiedays, let's follow each other.) (I'm looking at you: tynruby, sarita, sissy, chrissyp, shalise, amy, auprielle, michonne, michelle, becky, and anyone else who is still around but maybe not commenting. Some of you went private and I can't seem to keep up with your blogs. Instagram is far superior for staying in touch.)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Grafton-Ghost Town

I like the family record that blogging creates and I love looking back at the places we have been (both emotionally and physically.) Lately, though, I am consumed with actually living my life as opposed to documenting it online. I guess that is why my posts are lacking in numbers. I like including my thoughts and prose on the things we do, but between my own schooling, my kids' busy lives, and the exhaustion of using my body to grow another baby, I just don't have the will to sit and do it. I want to do better! (I could say that about every aspect of my life.)

This weekend is a holiday weekend down here. No school on Friday or Monday. (I have school, but the kids don't.) Of course, Robert is working. I'm not complaining! I am so grateful my husband has a job that he loves. We just miss him when we are all together and he is not with us. Yesterday we sat around the backyard and I watched my kids make up games together. We spent some time in the hot-tub, but only heated it to about 80° because it was such a nice day. They made up a game of Quidditch which was basically a glorified version of "tag" complete with a snitch, a seeker, and beaters. They played for awhile, then Stella made a picnic and we had lunch outside. Eventually, everyone settled in with books for the afternoon. Creed read up on Dungeons and Dragons, Stella is working on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I'm not sure what Jack was reading, and George continued to play in the water.

Today I took the kids to a nearby Ghost Town called Grafton and of course we ended the excursion with a hike. I handed my good camera to Creed because he has been commenting on the fact that all I use to document life lately is my iPhone. He is right, but I didn't feel like wrestling the dog and the big camera today, so he helped out. Here are some highlights from our ghostly excursion.

This is my favorite shot Creed captured. I call it "Gap & Swirl."

Stella, I adore you.

We got a picture of all the girls in the family: Stella, Me, New Baby, & Ginger. 

I love that Creed tries to get candid shots. In his words, " I like taking pictures of people when they aren't looking at me."

Of course I stole the camera to take a picture of Creed. He WOULD NOT put his arm around Stella or get any closer to her.

With my big belly, it's a little hard to help George navigate the steep portions of a trail. He's lucky to have Jack! I wish Jack were my older brother.

Now I need to go do some last minute studying for a Geology test, then I need to go take it at the Testing Center. After that, we are going to decorate Easter Eggs and watch Les Miserables as a family. Robert and I watched it in the theater, and the kids have been dying to see it. I love that we can just order movies over our t.v. What a modern world!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stuff My Kids Say

Jack was finishing up a tennis tournament on Saturday here in St. George. While we were watching him play, it was so warm that I was wishing I had worn shorts or a skirt or something.  I finally rolled up the bottom of my jeans. I looked around and noticed that people were swimming in the outdoor pool and lounging by its side in their swimsuits, soaking up the warm rays of our desert sun.

February in St. George is a very good thing.

Then we drove to SLC. While we were there, we were able to meet a few of our friends' brand new babies. Dallas and Shannon have a new baby girl and Robert's sister has a new baby boy. I hadn't held a brand new baby in ages and I forgot how great they are! I am so glad that I am going to get to have that new baby-ness in my home one last time.


As we were leaving Sara's house to have dinner, I said to the kids "did everyone get their coats? George, get your coat."

And he said, with much hesitation, " . . . oh . . kay . . . but mom, what is a coat?"

I love St. George weather. The kid doesn't even know what a coat is!