Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Annual Tradition That Wasn't Cancelled

Due to several conflicting events, our 4th of July Annual Water Baseball BBQ was rescheduled this year to July 24th. About a week before July 24th, I cancelled the event all together. I just wasn't "feeling it."

Our Annual Water Baseball BBQ  is the highlight of my summer. It has always been held on July 4th (one exception being July 5th, when the 4th was a Sunday.) For some reason, I couldn't imagine having the Water Baseball BBQ and not having it coincide with America's birthday, the holiday of freedom, and all things independent. Playing baseball in honor of the early Mormon Pioneers, on July 24th just didn't seem to fit.

There were a few other minor factors in the cancellation decision too.

Apparently though, all the people who like to ATTEND the Annual Water Baseball BBQ, and who don't have to pull a weed, or scrub a toilet in preparation for it were in an outcry that it was cancelled.

Okay, I exaggerate slightly, but I did feel a little pull of peer pressure to un-cancel the Annual Water Baseball BBQ and hold it THIS YEAR ONLY on July 24th.

And I didn't regret it one bit.
Okay, well I did in the morning when I couldn't find my bucket of water baseball "stuff" and then I realized I had absolutely no ketchup. (Who runs out of ketchup?!) I made sure everyone in my little family heard my rants of "There was a reason I didn't want to do this, this year!" or "Why did I get talked back into this?"

But after our guests began to arrive, and I watched the Annual Water Baseball BBQ begin again for its 8th consecutive year, I smiled and I committed, that I would never again cancel our Annual Water Baseball BBQ on JULY 4th.

Love it.
Love it.
Love it!

 As for photos...I only have these small ones from my mother's phone that I can't enlarge.
The CUTEST cousin ever. Seriously. I love Baby Daniel. (He doesn't feel the same way about me, but for some reason he always makes me smile.)

And there's a video that I'm going to get uploaded soon. What fun!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mike's Day

Typically, I don't enjoy Mike's birthdays much. (Remember HERE and HERE?)

It's because I try to make it a big deal, and he doesn't care much about it, and then I get irritated that I put in the effort and irritated that he doesn't love his birthday! (A serious personality flaw I may add. I mean WHO doesn't LOVE their birthday?)

A few weeks ago, Mike was excited to realize his birthday was going to fall on a Saturday. I suggested perhaps we could scatter the children across grandparents for an over-nighter.  Although the babysitting was arranged, (Thanks to my parents, we didn't have to scatter them!) Mike and I still weren't quite sure what we were going to do. Finally, in an attempt to put some effort into his birthday--I pressed him for some ideas of what he would enjoy doing.

His reply? "Dinner with Kari and Kellen (some awesome friends of ours) and see if they want to do an over-nighter with us."

Mike thoroughly enjoyed his birthday last weekend and SO DID I! The secret? Don't really plan anything special. Here's how it planned out.

Mike, Kari, Kellen and I headed up to Park City last Friday evening. We ate at our favorite Park City restaurant (of course outside!), and then enjoyed the evening together laughing, talking, hot tubbing, playing cards, eating ice cream, etc.

(ever wonder if you are the center of a stranger's photo!?)

A few of the highlights that won't mean anything to anyone that wasn't there include:

~ Mike announcing during a card game that he "settled for me." (I'm still hoping his comment just so happened to "come out wrong."

~ Eating ice cream in the hot tub.

~ Checking our blood pressures at a grocery store, and mine being dangerously high (Everyone was making me laugh, so I made people walk away to re-do it, so I could rule out the risk of me killing over any second. Remember, I'm a worrier.)

~ Kellen getting lost in the grocery store and the cashier paging him to come to register 2.

~The case of water cracking the fridge.

~ Our religious discussion that didn't quite go as planned.

~ Kellen getting locked in our bedroom.

~ The horribly clogged toilet at one of Deer Valley's most prestigious resorts

Although I was disappointed to wake up on Saturday morning, Mike's official birthday, and not have any fanfare of balloons, a birthday hat, or presents. I had to remind myself it was HIS birthday and not mine. After a relaxing morning, we eventually returned home to real life.


After a few presents, Mike went to a car dealership to run an errand. (Who runs errands on their birthday besides Mike!?) Turns out there was a Corvette car show, and of course (old) Corvettes are Mike's favorite cars. What a serendipitous birthday opportunity! Mike and the little boys returned home hours later, after the car show, learning how to use our new suburbans features, and stopping by a friend's work shop and the little boys carving wooden guns.

We later went to a favorite curry restaurant for dinner and finished up the evening on the back patio with my parents. Mike declared it one of his best birthdays in a long time, and I couldn't help but agree.

No balloons, few presents, a relaxing schedule, and just one mandatory birthday tradition request from me--he had to wear the birthday hat for blowing out the candle on his ice cream pie. (His preference. Meaning the ice cream pie, NOT the hat!)

And all I captured of it is this blurry photo.
Oh well.
It isn't a big deal to him, so I'm not making it a big deal to me.

Here's to low-key birthdays...
For Mike only.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Just Another Summer Eve

The other day when the valley temperatures were soaring above triple digits, I suggested to Mike we should spend the evening up a nearby canyon that we have frequented in years past. It has been a while since we visited this particular canyon, that holds some fun family memories for us.

Knowing the temperatures would be much more pleasant in the canyon, Mike readily agreed. This canyon evening expedition of ours, just happened to fall a few days after the purchase of our new suburban. Which of course was absolutely deemed a NO-NO for muddy wet children playing in a canyon stream. So we pulled out our old less than reliable-have-to-press-the-gas-and-brakes-just-right-when-idling suburban for this particular trek up a mountainside where there is no cell phone reception.

Turns out the car worked out just fine for us.
Turns out it was a dang good thing we chose to take the old car...
Because somebody granted permission for us to take a long an extra body for our FAMILY outing...


I totally thought Mike was joking when I heard him answer in the affirmative Luke's question about whether Dudley could join us for our evening canyon adventure.

A goat on a family outing to the canyon?

"Oh, but Mom. He is training to be a pack goat. It will be really good practice for him."

Because I am so concerned about Dudley getting practice as a pack goat, for all the times we may need to have him pack our belongings up the side of a mountain.

Besides. If Dudley went a long the other evening for practice, how come I was the one carrying the lawn chairs, towels, and tray of Rice Krispie treats?
Our visits to Farmington Canyon, for some reason always mean making "hot tubs" out of the running creek. We visit a fair number of canyons and creeks, but none elicit the hot tub making efforts that Farmington Canyon always does.




Dudley apparently got preferential treatment. When somebody else complained it was cold when they fell in, they were told to buck up and not cry. (Joshua was told to wear his swimsuit, and chose not to!) When Dudley got wet and supposedly got "really cold"? He was taken back to the suburban and dried off with towels (plural) to keep him warm. One slight problem with that--Dudley wasn't in the count when Yours Truly counted out towels per family member.

At the end of our evening splendor, there may or may not have been a few family members that were wet and chilled from sitting in a "hot tub" made from a mountain stream and were upset that they (depending on their placement on the germaphobe scale)

a. didn't have a towel to use
b. didn't have a towel to use that wasn't already slightly damp from drying of a GOAT

I'm no longer sure where exactly we fall as a family on a "normal" scale.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Social Media Type Life

We pretty much live a charmed life around here. Our summer afternoons are spent sitting around our patio table, sipping homemade lemonade. Making homemade lemonade has been on Megan's bucket list for the last two summers, she finally did it this summer. We didn't just drink the lemonade in boring old cups though. We had lemonade in mason jars, with cute decorated paper straws that Megan purchased and has been saving for the "right occasion". A strawberry was added to the jar for effect.


What a glorious afternoon!
This is where our Social Media Type Life ends.

Me saying it was a glorious afternoon??
That was a joke.


Nobody really liked the lemonade. Joshua and Ellie complained about their paper straws getting soggy. Luke was irritated he had a strawberry on his jar when Megan knows he doesn't like strawberries. Drew was begging for an Oreo cookie he'd seen in the cupboard earlier that day.

As for me?
I ended up cleaning up the mess.
Yes! Those would be Oreo crumbs around Drew's mouth... Sometimes you have to give into incessant whining.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Luke's Additions

When I took my family for their debut visit to Chinatown a couple of months ago, I had high hopes it would become a highlight of their lives. That hope was dashed pretty much as soon as we got to Chinatown. The looks on their faces and their lack of enthusiasm about the town made me quickly realize, few others share my passion for the place.

One thing did perk up Luke's sour attitude during our visit though.
Miniature turtles, sold in little carrying cases for $5.00.

$5.00 for turtles????
Luke saw those things and had to have them.
"That is so cheap."
"Look at that. You couldn't buy those anywhere for that price."
"I've always wanted miniature turtles."

Only problem was we were 600+ miles from home AND we had flown. Luke, well aware of the "no liquid" rule through security was trying to creatively strategize a plan to get the turtles through security briefly without water, and ultimately get them home to the fish tank in his bedroom.

Mike wouldn't even hear of Luke's plans and quickly put a halt to Luke mentioning them one more time. There are a fair number of shops in Chinatown, and I swear every single one of them touts miniature turtles sold in little carrying cases for $5.00 on the sidewalks out front of the shops. Out of ear-shot of Mike, Luke, knowing I am (at times) a little more lenient about certain things, talked non-stop to me about those miniature turtles and how he just had to have them, and couldn't we please get them home with us somehow on the plane.

Lenient at times or not, there was NO WAY I was going to add turtles to our traveling party of seven. And I told Luke so, right there on the streets of the LA Chinatown. Uncle Casey sensing the rising tension, suggested he could possibly bring turtles to Utah next time he came. Luke was satisfied with Casey's suggestion. Although, Luke interpreted it as a commitment.

Not having a definite answer as to when Casey would make a visit to Utah next, Luke spent the first couple of weeks home from our California trip searching the local online classifieds, and every local pet store for miniature turtles...with no luck.

Once Luke gets an idea in his mind. It doesn't leave. We heard about turtles, questions about when Casey was coming to Utah next and random turtle trivia at least 623 times a day, every day that followed our visit to Chinatown.

And then...
Glory of all glories.

Casey made plans to come to Utah over the 4th of July...but only as far as St. George, 4 hours south of us. Despite Luke's begging, we couldn't swing the trip for our family to meet them there for an extended family vacation, but my parents could and did. That was enough for Luke. Casey could buy turtles in Chinatown in LA, drive them to St. George, and Nana and Grandpa could bring them home.

While my parents, my two brothers, their wives and daughters...and two turtles enjoyed a long weekend together last week in St. George, I had to listen to Luke, as he anxiously awaited, and talked non-stop about his two turtles that were half-way on their journey home to the fish-tank atop his bedside table.

Every few minutes Luke would ask me to text Casey or my dad instructions about how to care for the turtles, what they should eat, how much water they should live in, etc. etc. etc. It was like some form of slow torture, hearing non-stop about something I care NOTHING ABOUT.
The smile on Luke's face last week, when he finally took possession of the dang turtles was, as it always is with him: trying so hard to suppress it, which is actually probably a good thing, because if he just gave in to the giant smile, his face would surely have cracked from the sheer size of it.

Turtles?
I've only been asked to come to his room and watch them doing some kind of fascinating turtle activity about 4,597 times. I have yet to share the same enthusiasm for the turtles that Luke has.

I guess we're even. After all, he didn't share my enthusiasm for Chinatown.
Well, except for the miniature turtles sold in little carrying cases for $5.00 part of Chinatown.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bittersweet


(The car that has served us well for the last 12+ years!)

Back on Valentine's Day in 2001, I went upstairs to our home office to talk to Mike. One of our friends was sitting there, and amidst small talk he asked me what I got from Mike for Valentine's Day. I responded, with slight irritation in my voice, "a glazed donut."

Within a few minutes the phone rang, and my friend, (the wife of the friend I had just been talking to) who had just given birth to a baby, asking me if I could please quickly go to the store for her. It was all a set up, because when I opened the garage door to get in the car, there sitting in my garage was my Valentine's Day present.

A brand new suburban.

It was quite the pleasant surprise. My dream car had always been a black suburban. (We even test drove suburbans on our honeymoon. I know. I know...) A dark grey one was pretty darn close, and I was thrilled with it. (It took a few years to be quite so thrilled with the "free pass" Mike gave himself for the rest of our Valentine's Day due to such an expensive one early on.)

On that Valentine's Day, Mike declared we would still be driving it until Megan started junior high. Megan was not quite 2 1/2 at the time, and Luke was just weeks away from being thought of. It seemed forever away.

Even as Megan began junior high a couple of years ago, the thought of replacing the suburban never crossed our mind. Sure, with five kids it was taking a horrible beating inside, and we've had to do the occasional repair, but even with a few aging issues, we kept forging onward.

Until a couple of weeks ago when our mechanic told us the repair it needed may not be worth it. Over the past few years, if I'd have thought of that possibility I'm quite sure I would have imagined myself excited at the need to replace my 2001 Valentine's Day gift. But suddenly, the necessity of buying a new car wasn't quite as thrilling and exciting as I would have guessed.

Over the weekend, we replaced our beloved grey suburban. And even though the one now sitting in my garage is much newer and nicer than our old one, at this point, my heart is still with the one out on my driveway ready to be deserted to a life of solitude.

My heart with a car? I would never have imagined such a sentiment! But as I drove the old suburban on Sunday afternoon with one foot having to rev the engine to keep up the RPM's, while the other foot rests on the brake at a stoplight to keep oil pumping to the engine, I realized the reason I love the car so much.

It's the memories.

With a pen and our family record book in hand, Mike, the children and I began listing some of our favorite memories.

~ Luke peeing in the cup holder while I ran into the pizza store when he was 3 years old.
~ The time Mike, Megan and I slept in it at Strawberry Resevoir while the wind howled outside. Too windy to boat, or put up a tent. We hung out in the suburban watching The Sound of Music.
~ Luke, Ellie, Joshua and Drew came home from the hospital in it.
~ Travelling to Orem to visit Cousin Lucy for the first time and Joshua needing to pee. Luke was instructed to hold an empty bottle for him to go in, while Mike flew down the freeway at 65+mph. Only trouble was, Joshua missed the bottle and we had an Old Faithful resembling geyser going off in the back seat.
~ The 100,000 mile celebration we had somewhere on a desolated highway traveling through Arizona.
~ Megan spilling a red sno-cone in it when the car was only a few months old.

Those are just a few memories from our ever-growing list.

Believe me, I know it is a little strange to be getting so sentimental over a vehicle. But it has served our family well for more than 12 years now. We will very likely have our new car for at least 12 years too. But the next 12 won't be the same. In 12 years, we won't still have 5 children filling it day in and day out. Joshua and Drew will likely be the lone children left at home.

I know we'll make plenty of memories in this new car in the next 12 years. But I don't for one minute think the memories in it will be quite the same as the lonely suburban sitting on my driveway awaiting its final resting place.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Not Sure What to Think

When Megan was in preschool, she came upstairs for lunch with a giant bruise around her mouth. I could not for the life of me figure out how she got it. I eventually figured out she had been watching a movie with a cup suctioned around her mouth. She ended up with the giant bruise/hickey looking thing around her mouth for several days.

A couple of weeks ago, we were just finishing up a bad bedtime routine. I was in tears standing at the foot of the bed, Mike was laying in bed, and I was telling him what crappy parents we were, that we never have any fun anymore, and no-one ever laughs. (I was in the middle of a couple of weeks that weren't pretty...) Add to it, it was a very late night and the children were finally settling after a few threats and yells thrown their way.

I think I had closed the door for my barrage of complaints spewed to Mike, when suddenly a knock came at the door, and a timid voice, "Dad, I need some help." In walked Megan (with giggling Ellie by her side) at 11pm at night with a comb stuck in her hair.

STUCK.IN.HER.HAIR
Did I mention, it was STUCK??

Our first reaction was sheer frustration. It was 11pm at night. What in the world was Megan doing even combing her hair, let alone combing it backwards and sideways?

As Mike attempted to help her, our frustration quickly gave way to laughter. The good belly kind of laughter that everyone needs once in a while. Only problem was, Megan wasn't laughing. Well, and the problem of the comb stuck in the hair. There was certainly no laughing from Megan when Mike announced that the comb was not budging, and the only option was to cut her hair. Oh boy did that get Megan started. Suddenly she began crying, really loud oh-my-heck-my-life-is-over type cries. Mike told Megan to go to bed, and told her yours truly would take her to a hair salon first thing in the morning.

Megan was appalled. We're not sure what at? The fact Mike was expecting her to go to bed with a comb attached to her head or the thought of walking into a salon with a comb stuck in her hair. Or the thought of the ugly haircut she would have come morning.

In an effort to end the theatrical performance happening before my eyes, I insisted I give the comb removal one last effort. The comb was stuck! Unfortunately it was a high-quality, thick comb, and simply snapping it into pieces wasn't an option.

With tears falling down her eyes, and my laughter tears replaced now with frustration and irritation that it was as late as it was and this incident was as stupid as it was, I set out to remove the comb.

It wasn't easy. But the result?
Only a few hair strands removed, a broken comb, some owies on my hand from breaking high-quality comb teeth, a relieved Megan, an irritated mother, and a snoring father a few feet away.
(I respected Megan's tearful pleas of, "Please don't take a photo of it" while said comb was stuck in her hair. I regret that I have no picture now. Even she regrets it a little bit.)

This is the same girl that currently has 2 blisters on her bottom lip from biting the television controller battery compartment.

She is almost 15.

???

Camping with Cousins

We recently attended an extended Sowby Family Campout, with Mike's side of the family. Everyone was in attendance except his brother and family living in Kentucky, and a missionary nephew in New Hampshire. Not everyone "camped", as far as sleeping in the canyon, but braving the rain, mud and campfire smoke certainly qualifies.
(I was there! I was taking the photo.)
At one point I glanced over and saw Mike's parents, Steve and Laurie sitting in their chairs next to each other. It was a relatively quiet moment (rare for that size of a crowd), and as I looked at them, I couldn't help but think what a joyous occasion this camp-out must be for them. All that could, attended. Although I think they were probably sitting in their chairs enjoying a tiny respite from the goings-on of the camp, I imagined them feeling pride and satisfaction in a family enjoying being together. I know I quickly looked ahead and wondered how I would feel with my five children and their spouses and children gathered together doing nothing more than enjoying being together.
Nobody bailed, despite the dark clouds and pouring rain. (I'd say no one complained, but unfortunately before I even greeted my father-in-law, I spewed forth my opinion to him about the distance of the camp from the parking lot with  water, food, tents, pads, etc. for 7 people. Oops!)

Drew enjoyed riding in the wheelbarrow down the trail to get loads from the car.
And then he was put to work coming back up.
Not only was I still pretty irritated by the distance in from the car at this point, I was carrying a 5 gallon water jug AND hearing non-stop dialogue from Luke about such things as how much horse poop weighs. I wish I was kidding about that conversation topic, but I'm not!
Joshua promptly began collecting a stash of "treasures"...
Mike began leveling a spot for the tent,
Don't let his hard work fool you too much. He did plenty of this too...
It was a pleasant family activity. My only complaint about it? I promised my father-in-law I wouldn't have any more, but here it is--I wish it had been longer!

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Multiple Personality

I've found myself in several situations lately that make me question my true personality style. Do I tend to be  assertive and domineering? Or more passive and compliant? Am I rational and calm or more anxious and uneasy? Or heaven forbid am I all of the above?!

A couple of weeks ago while standing in a line, 2 people cut in front of me. I didn't hesitate to question the situation with the line cutters or the nearby worker who was allowing the cutting. I know it was one of those proud parent moments for my dad who was standing by my side. (He would have done the same thing.)

While at a car dealership the other day with Mike, he was 'negotiating' car prices. I wanted to crawl under the table when the car salesman, then the sales manager, THEN the owner came to deal with Mike and his "I want to pay this amount ($_____) and no higher." Mike's assertiveness was in full bloom. I was wishing I could disappear and was willing to give them just about any amount of money in order to expedite our exit.

Upon arriving at a family camp-out the other day, pretty much before even greeting my father-in-law, I spewed forth my opinion and a few complaints about the situation. I tried so hard as I was walking into the camp to talk myself out of saying anything, but I just couldn't! My opinion was boiling up inside of me and I had to release it. I did however make up for the sharing of my opinion by nothing but pleasantness coming out of my mouth for the 18 hours that followed.

While hiking with my sister-in-law, I was trying my best not to panic while she was leading us off the trail and down the side of a mountain. With thunder rumbling overhead, I kept following her lead, despite being convinced we would end up on the 10 o'clock news that night. All the while she kept forging forward without seeming to have a care in the world.

Mike and our neighbor were discussing the dangers of trampolines the other day. Me? I didn't share any of their opinions, worries or concerns. Let the children jump away.

But...

My children taking too long in the pet shop the other day? I had myself convinced someone was turning them into dog slaves in the backroom! Or if one of my children tells a lie, I am convinced they have a criminal future ahead of them and I am imaging them living a life behind prison bars. All because they told me no, it wasn't them that ate the Twix from my chocolate stash, even though their breath clearly smells like a mix of caramel and chocolate. (Mike calls my worries and fears "irrational", I prefer to call myself a creative worrier.)

At church on Sunday, I went up to the front to where Megan was playing prelude music on the organ to ask her if she could do without her glasses I left sitting on the kitchen table. While there, I noticed we were not going to be singing ANY patriotic songs on the weekend following the 4TH OF JULY!!! Sometimes, I just can't help but blurt out my thoughts... I promptly turned to the bishopric member (church congregation leader) sitting nearby and told him we should be singing a PATRIOTIC song on July 6th! I take 100% of the credit that our closing hymn was 'The Star Spangled Banner'.

Complete side note here--I was somewhat proud of myself when after aforementioned church meeting, the Bishop came up to me and said, "I want you to know I noticed you sang all three verses of The Star Spangled Banner today without looking at the hymn book once. I was very impressed and want you to know I noticed." I certainly wasn't expecting anyone to notice, I just happen to know all the verses to that hymn, as I do many others. What I do expect though, is no one to mess with my patriotism and/or love of singing church hymns. We should sing patriotic songs during patriotic holidays and Christmas songs during Christmas time and so on and so forth. Don't get me started...

Despite all the times I can give someone my opinion, or speak my mind, I can't seem to be able to tell one of our employees who I have only interacted with 5 times total that MY NAME IS TiffANY not Tiff. It makes me crazy every time he greets me with "Hey Tiff!" Yet I can't bring myself to say anything but "Hi" back. I'm not sure whether that is an improvement or a setback from the days of my dating years when a blind date showed up on my doorstep and said, "Hi, you must be Tiff" and I responded, "It's Tiffany to you."

Sidenote--I have NO ISSUE at all if people I know well call me Tiff.  However, an employee I've met 4 times and a blind date do not fit that bill.

Those are just a few examples of a possible multiple personality diagnosis.
You never know what you're going to get with me.
Aren't you glad you know me?

On second thought, maybe you shouldn't answer that.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

One of My Favorite Days

(LOVE the flags placed around the neighborhood on certain holidays.)

About 11 years ago, I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting (Sunday church meeting) about patriotism. It was one of my favorite talks I've ever given. I've thought about that talk a lot in the past couple of years, and wondered if I'm still being as deliberate in teaching my children patriotism now as I was back then. (Teaching one child is so much easier than teaching 5!)

When I say patriotism, I mean. Am I teaching them to love America? Teaching them the songs and symbols that are part of our history? Instilling in them a love and respect for the great country they live in?

For years, each July 4th, we make sure to sing the national anthem, and stand outside by our front porch flag and do the Pledge of Allegiance. Except as I thought about it, I realized the last 2 years with the rush of a parade and the preparations for the Traditional Water Baseball BBQ, it's slipped off our radar.

It's only one thing among many, but still. It makes me sad.

Each month, I rotate the children's books on our family room shelf. For example, in March I bring down our Dr. Seuss books, and in July I bring down our patriotic/America themed books. My purpose is because those are the books the little boys grab from when asking me to read a book, and the books the other kids grab when lazily resting on the couch.

I guess Joshua "got" the book, "Happy Birthday America" I read to him a few days ago...

The other night, Joshua and Drew were scrunching up massive piles of paper, in addition, while I was focused on another task, Joshua kept asking me about the "England Flag" (meaning the Union Jack).

The result?
A creative game of Revolutionary War. I looked over and Joshua was on one side of the family room proudly displaying his homemade 'England Flag' and Drew was on the other side with an American Flag. They were each chucking white paper "bombs" at each other, while each surrounded themselves in a barricade of kitchen chairs, and Joshua declaring, "I am fighting for England. You are fighting for America. We are going to be FREE!"
They're learning about America. Just perhaps not in the way I intend...

On another note, today is one of my favorite days of the year. (My birthday, wedding anniversary and Thanksgiving being my other absolute favorites.) Everything is different this year. For various reasons we postponed our Traditional Water Baseball BBQ to July 24th. There is no hustling and bustling around prepping for a party. Just a houseful of sleeping children due to a late night of fireworks and a husband who left with the rising of the sun to work.

I returned home from the gym this morning, feeling a little bit melancholy that we don't have grand plans for one of my favorite days. I don't even have burgers in the freezer to grill! I cranked up my itunes patriotic playlist, made homemade waffles and sat alone at the kitchen table enjoying my solitary breakfast.

As some of my favorite tunes played in the background, I sat in the spot at the table that affords me one of my favorite views. I stared out at the beautiful green mountains, with sounds of freedom, liberty and America coming from nearby speakers. While enjoying the sights and surrounds around me, and savoring my waffle with strawberries and whipping cream, I thought about why I loved America.

I then began a mental list of all the reasons I'm glad that on March 29th, 1988, my family left England with no return ticket.

It was a bittersweet morning.
(Lexington, MA)

Happy July 4th!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Enough Money

It's been a long week around here. Mike has been averaging 17 hour work days, and I think we are on our 7th day of 100 degree plus weather. Not a great combination for someone who makes a living working outside. 

This last weekend, with deadlines looming and the mercury hovering right around 104, Mike worked all Saturday afternoon and evening alone in the heat. Mike's positive attitude and his ever-optimistic outlook were even more admirable this last weekend, because much of what he was doing was making up for a few "oversights" from some of his employees. As he did a couple days last week, Saturday night Mike worked until after the sun had gone down (which is saying something when the sun doesn't even set until after 9pm!) 

Mike did the same thing again on Sunday, except longer hours than Saturday. This time though, he had some good people willing to step in and help him. Definite blessings.

(The employees were well beyond regular hours and over-time and Mike knew he needed to give them the weekend to rest to be ready to hit it hard again this week.)

Enough about the not-so-good part about the weekend.

Saturday afternoon, Mike said that if any of the children wanted to come work, he had plenty of work to keep them busy. (Fortunately, Mike was working about 3 minutes from our house.) Luke is given the opportunity to work with Mike frequently, and it is rare that Mike would extend the invitation to the younger children. (Construction sites aren't exactly the safest place for children!) As soon as I mentioned the option to the children, Joshua was up, out of his chair and changing into work clothes before I finished my sentence.

You see, Joshua has really been into working and earning money lately. He has had his eye on one particular toy, and as soon as he had enough money for it declared, "Actually, I will wait until I have more money so I when I buy it I will still have more money left." Quite astute!

Joshua was proud as could be when I dropped him off at the job-site on Saturday evening to begin working with Mike. To be honest, I didn't have a lot of faith in how long he would last. Not that I didn't think he could work hard, he really can. But it was a very hot Saturday evening. Bedtime was just a couple hours away!

Apparently, Joshua worked very hard. Mike was extremely impressed with his little 6 year old work companion and his attention to the tasks given to him. Joshua and Mike returned home late Saturday night. While Mike talked to the neighbor (lining up people for Sunday), I bathed a very dirty Joshua. 

When Mike finally arrived up in the bathroom to shower, Joshua was down the hall getting pajamas on. Mike pulled out a $20 bill from his wallet and told me to give it to Joshua. Then, he quickly changed his mind and said he wanted to give it to Joshua himself.

Joshua was summoned to the bathroom and given a $20 bill. I wish I'd have had a video of the little exchange. When he was first handed it, he had a little puzzled look on his face. He doesn't get $20 bills very often (if ever!), so I'm not quite sure he knew exactly how much he had. I told him, "That is $20 one dollars." And there in all its glory was Joshua's trademark, ear-to-ear smile.

(I'm still not sure if Mike was too tired to realize the hourly rate he was paying a 6 year old, or if he was just so happy to have had some help.)

(Unfortunately this photo was the next day, and the smile isn't quite as big.)

Joshua finally decided he had enough money now to purchase his toy, and still have some left over for left-overs sake.

I should have taken photo after photo of Joshua walking into the little western tack and feed store and picking out his much desired cowboy and stage wagon set. 

I should have recorded his little voice that climbed into the car saying, "I have wanted this for a lonG, lonG (emphasis on the G) time since it was cold weather and we came here with Luke to buy goat feed."

Instead, the only record we have is this photo of Joshua holding his beloved $20 bill, and a broken stage wagon toy that Drew threw in a little fit of jealousy the day after its procurement.

It's okay though, despite my super-glue job not quite working, Joshua-much like his father with an ever-optimistic attitude told me, "It will be okay. It's just the handle that is broken, the cowboy just has to hold onto the horses' reins instead."

Lest you think we're all hard-workers and earn-for-things-we-want around here... Drew is not. Case in point, today for craft class the children painted ceramic coin banks. Drew asked for some coins to put in his, and I gave a few coins to him. His response, "Joshua look what I got. I earned it by asking Mom for it." Oh dear.

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