You would think with all the blogging I’m doing, it would be a breeze for me to keep up with this page.
You would think.
Yet, here I am, missing the little moments, and trying like made to cram in the big stuff. *sigh* I think I need a New Year’s Resolution about this.
Brooklyn turned 12 in July. She left elementary school and entered junior high. She left Primary and entered Young Women’s. She is thrilled about both of these changes.
She has been liking the independence and options that come with junior high. She ran for 7th grade Senate. When she told us she was going to do it, Ryan and Quinn both gave her quizzical looks. Ryan said, “You know you have to TALK if you do that… in front of people!” Her notoriously quiet voice and shy personality seem at odds with this development. She replied, “I know.” I asked her to tell us why she wanted to do it, and she said, “I want to try new things.” Bravo, Brooklyn. Best. Answer. Ever. She didn’t make it past the Primarys, but we were proud of her for going for it. She also joined the Science Club, and has already been on a field trip with them.
She has discovered another new love in Young Women Volleyball. She thinks it is the funnest thing she has ever done, and by the end of the season, she could almost serve the ball over the net. We watched a couple of the games, and she plays like a typical Beehive. I’m sure she will get a lot better with each passing year. She also has started babysitting, which she thinks is SO cool, and she wants me to help her make some posters to advertise herself as a dog walker, too.
That girl loves dogs. She loves playing with our dog, teaching him new tricks, even bathing him and brushing his teeth. We sometimes watch videos about dog training together, and we love getting new ideas we can practice with Monster. She is thinking seriously of becoming a dog trainer as a career, and honestly, I think she would love it and be really great at it. Plus, she wouldn’t need much math, which is a real bonus for her, considering how much time she spends telling us how much she hates math.
Quinn and Ryan both went back to the public high school this year. We loved the charter school, and it did what we needed it to do (help the focus on academics), so it was time to broaden our horizons and get in a school that offers clubs, teams, activities, and dances. Quinn was skeptical about the switch, but it took him approximately 3 milliseconds to discover the swim team and change his schedule so he could join. (We still have our reservations… the other day Q told me the only class that requires him to think is Spanish, which is literally the exact reverse of the situation at the charter school.)
And, he took to swim team like, well… like a fish to water. This kid LOVES swim team. LOOOOOOVVES. I asked him one day what it was he loved so much, whether he enjoyed learning new strokes, improving each week, or just being in the water. He didn’t really even need to think about it. “I just love being in the water.” And he is in the water right now every day after school, and before school on A days. The first meet is the first week of November and we are really excited about it. He tells us he loves the butterfly (who loves that?!) and hates the breast stroke, and freestyle is his best stroke. It will be interesting to see where the coach puts him.
Additionally, Quinn is working hard on his black belt. He loves karate and is super self motivated, which is really nice for us. He asks me to drive him all over town for extra karate classes, and honestly, how can I say no to that? The teachers are complimenting him, telling him he is improving, and I quite agree with them. It is really fun to watch. We are hoping another year of intense work will get him that black belt. He is really hoping to score a job there, too, which would be perfect for him and something he would love.
As if that isn’t enough, Quinn and Brooklyn are both participating in the Stake play this year. Every other year, our stake puts on a musical, and both of them decided to audition. They’ll be performing “Annie” in 3 short weeks, and they’ve had late weeknight and early Saturday morning practices. Between swim, karate, the play, and Young Men’s, Quinn is so busy we can barely keep up with it. It’s lucky for him he doesn’t have much homework.
Ryan’s life has been a little slower. He hasn’t joined any clubs or teams, so right now all he has is a part time job at the rec center, that he doesn’t love. He is literally counting the days until he is eligible to get his drivers license, and he asks us if he can drive everywhere we need to go. He is a decent driver, but not quite ready for that license yet. It is scary to think of him driving on his own sometimes. It makes Robb and I feel old and nervous a lot! On the other hand, it will be super useful to have someone that can run quick errands for me, and pick up Quinn from swimming when I’m teaching piano.
We told Ryan he needed to save $500 for the insurance deductible before he could drive our cars. I think this next paycheck should put him over the $500 mark. He worked a lot over the summer, mowing lawns with my dad and reffing soccer games for 5-year olds at the rec center. He got frustrated with the soccer reffing, but loved mowing with Grandpa. He saved most of his money over the summer, paid his tithing diligently, and kept a little spending money for himself. We were super proud of him, and he enjoyed having a little freedom and responsibility.
He talks a lot about getting a cell phone. Our kids are quite literally the only kids in the school without cell phones. We told them we didn’t want the monthly expense, and Ryan thinks a lot about how to afford this bill himself. We told him to stay employed for a couple months, and prove he could make the payment, and we would okay the cell phone. Now he is asking us questions about how much different phones cost, whether he can save money by getting smart phone without a data plan and just using wi-fi, and that sort of thing. We are hoping we can get our kids “into the now” soon!
Ryan is also spending a lot of time on the piano. He barely tolerates the lesson books I make him practice, and it’s about all I can do to get him to play through that stuff once or twice a day. But, he will lose hours playing and singing songs he’s heard on the radio. We started keeping a composition notebook for this. We write the words to the songs, with chords next to it, and he uses this book almost every day. He even takes it to school and hangs out in the band room sometimes. His recent favorite is “You’ll Be In My Heart” which is a song from the Disney movie “Tarzan.” He also likes “Let Her Go” from Passenger. It is so fun to watch him improve at this. He is getting pretty good at knowing his chords, (he still needs help with some of the more bizarre chords), he can easily play them in inversion (which is super important for this kind of playing), and he has even started creating new and different accompaniments which suit his personality. his piano teacher (yours truly) is super proud of him. Even if he doesn’t practice his Lesson Book.
Many people have remarked about how small and thin Ryan is. They measured body fat percentages in gym class recently, and his was 1.6%. The doctor tells us his growth and maturity are delayed, but not too worry, because he will get there eventually. He has finally passed me in height, and is wearing a size 12 shoe, but there is plenty of growth and development yet to happen. Quinn has passed Ryan in both height and weight (but not by much, he is plenty thin himself!). The older they get, the more people think they are twins. In fact, this year they are in the same Spanish class. On the first day of class, they did a getting to know you activity, where each kid had to tell two truths and one lie about himself, and the group had to guess which was the lie. Quinn told the class that he and Ryan were twins, and no one suspected that was the lie!
After years of frustration at the monotony of his job, Robb’s company restructured their IT department, and Robb is on a new team. I think the change of pace has given him some hope for his future at this company. His new job is doing server installations. The company is quite large, with offices in most every state. The team travels to the offices that are in need of new servers, and they do the installation. A different team is in charge of maintaining the servers, so once the installation is done, the job is over for Robb. He likes this, because he likes seeing a beginning and end to each project, and it helps him feel like he is accomplishing something. The downside is that he travels more, and is usually gone about a week when he does. I also kind of hate that he sends me pictures of the amazing places he is visiting and expensive meals he is eating without me!
Robb is now serving in the Sunday School presidency in the ward, the upshot of which is that he is frequently teaching a youth sunday school class, and never sitting in Gospel Doctrine with me. It’s been a good calling for him, though, and motivating him to do some studying and find ways to interact with the kids. It also means, we always know whether our boys are actually attending Sunday School!
Robb has only recently entered the wide world of smart phones. You would think an IT guy would be on the cutting edge of technology, but Robb really could not care less, and actually hates being tethered to a phone. The company got him an iPhone 5 after his new boss made fun of him for the phone he was using. (Hey Robb, 1991 called, it wants it’s Nokia slide phone back.) If you ask him, he will tell you that he doesn’t care one way or the other which phone he has. However, now that he has the iPhone, he is spending a lot more time playing Candy Crush Saga and Subway Surfers. He also likes keeping his travel info on the phone, his receipts for reimbursements, and reading emails. It’s rare to see the man without his earphones, and he listens to books constantly.
Perhaps the biggest news of Robb’s recent life is that year three of project Build-Mom-A-Deck is drawing to a close. This project has been one giant nightmare, if you ask me. I have personally been really frustrated with it, and threw up my hands at being any kind of supportive wife during year two. The bulk of this year was spent fighting with the county about the specifics of the plan, re-doing work that didn’t really need to be re-done, and putting everything back together. This deck is two-stories and made from Trex. The bulk of the deck is finally done, and you can walk on both decks now. He has yet to install fascia and soffet, and the railings are not in, and he is hoping to get the stairs fixed and installed before winter is fully here. Robb has done the bulk of the work himself, with occasional help from me and Ryan.
It feels there is nothing in my life besides blogging. I have had some very serious goals with my blog, and I have been working basically non-stop to achieve them. September was my highest traffic month so far, and I am on track to double that number in October. By the end of the year, the income from the blog should exceed the income I make teaching piano, which is kind of a big milestone marker for me. I have really enjoyed making blogging friends (and mentors) and I have even started doing weekly facetime chats with two friends in different parts of the country, to help keep each other on track and share best practices. I’m basically always on Facebook, and I always have a zillion notifications on my phone.
I am serving as a teacher in Relief Society, which is basically my dream calling. I love teaching, and RS is pretty low-key, not to mention I only teach once a month. I really love preparing lessons, getting ideas from my friends and family, studying, and figuring out the best way to present ideas. I think Robb gets tired of me saying, “You need to talk about this lesson with me.”
I am still teaching piano, though I have fewer students than before. I like teaching okay, but I find the schedule to be kind of tiring. I wish I could be more available to my kids in the afternoon, to help them with homework, and take them to their activities. It also makes it hard to make dinner. I have devised an absolutely wonderful solution to this problem, though. I make the family cook dinner. Each kid, and even Robb, take one night a week to plan, prepare, and clean up meals. It has been a great thing, and the kids are getting to be pretty good cooks. We joke that Ryan and Quinn will be the most sought after companions in the mission field, because they can cook! We’ve had spaghetti with homemade sauce, stroganoff, breakfast burritos, chicken and dumplings, enchiladas, and other great meals. The kids start cooking while I’m still teaching, and I just give pointers and help with dishes. I LOVE this plan! It doesn’t always go perfectly, but it has been going really well.
All in all, I can’t complain about my life. Of course, there are hiccups and problems, just like with everyone, but overall things are very good.