Monday, April 30, 2012

Sadie's Favorite Dude

Of all her cousins, Sadie loves hanging out with Troy the most.  She insists on sitting next to him whenever we have get-togethers.  She wants to be playing with him, no matter what.  I think it's so cute.  Brock is closer to her age, but she and Troy have a good friend dynamic.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


My family has a tradition where we set out luminaires on Christmas Eve.  Nat, being Super Woman, sets hers out at her house first, then comes to my parents' house and helps to set out theirs.  I, being Non-Super Woman, just do the luminaires at my mom's house and call it good. :)

I loooove this picture - Dylan and Jake have identical coats:
 Troy, the Boy with No Lips, apparently:
 Micah, doing his best Troy Impersonation, including similar coat and Disappearing Lips action:
 Dylan, looking intellectual:
 Isn't this the cutest picture of Ivy?:
 Oh, poor Jake, with his eight-year-old teeth:
I don't care who ya are; when you're eight, you are just going to have crazy-looking teeth.  My poor Dylan is going to be like his mom - Braces Central.  Hopefully he won't have to have them three times, but you just never know.

Nat, Mom, and Gage:
I've been coveting that coat of Nat's for years.  Nat, whenever you pass away (hopefully in 70 years or so), can you will me your coat?  Thanks.  Although it may not fit me - "Fat guy in a little coat!  Fat guy in a little coat!"  What movie??

Could Gage be any cuter?  Nope:
 A close up of Sadie's hands holding a luminaire:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dang Christmas M&M's...

So.  Okay.  I teach Sunday School, right?  It used to be that there was a special ward activities committee that did all of the activities during the year, but they've done away with that.  Now, each auxiliary takes turn being in charge of activities.  And it was Sunday School's job to throw the Christmas party this year.  When we met and were trying to figure out who wanted to do what, I volunteered for decoration duty.  I did NOT want to try to coordinate the food.

Aaaaand, when they did have activities committees, my mom was her ward's activity chairperson, and I knew of a stash of stuff she bought with her own money for her activites, and then stored.  Also, she's had four daughters get married, so she's got a bunch of stuff from our receptions, as well.

So I raided her storage room and grabbed these big glass bowls and small glass vases, plus these beautiful lightey-uppey-twiggy thingeys (yes, that is the official term for them) and some cool fake flowers that look like white silver dollars.  Then I went to JoAnn Fabric during their Black Friday sale and got some fabric.  Since I was using twiggy thingeys, I wanted the fabric to be kind of woodsey/winterey.

The bishopric had one stipulation for my decor - they wanted candy scattered on the tables.  So funny.  I wanted to adhere to a really strict color decor - forest green, brown, silver, and white.  Matching my woodsey fabric.  But as I looked all around town, I wasn't finding any candy that I felt was cheap enough, yet still stuck with my color scheme.  I ended up getting Christmas-colored M&M's, which ended up totally clashing with everything else.  Hark:
Look at how bad that looks!!  Ugh!  I should have just skipped the candy scattering.  Or asked for more money so I could get candy that matched.  Gah. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

So there were a few people who showed up the night before the party to help us set up, and the Spanish branch had just finished up with their party.  They had really cute decorations for their party, but they didn't at all go with my "vision."  Yes, I had a "vision" for a ward party.  This is just how I am.  I'm persnickity when it comes to visual stuff.

The Spanish branch's theme was Presents Wrapped in Neon Colors.  And Plastic Scene of Deer and Snowmen Taped to the Wall with a Billion Little Balls of Tape.  And Neon Wrapping Doubling as Tablecloths.  All cute, but it didn't go with my Silvery/Woodsey Theme.

So this gal who was helping us set up talked to the Spanish Branch lady and then came over to talk to me.  She's like, "Hey, this lady said we could just keep her decor up!  That will really fill the gym and not make it feel so empty.  Then we'll just add our stuff."

In my mind, I was screaming, Nooooooooooooo!  This is ruining my VISION!!  But I didn't want to seem stupid.  I mean, it's a ward party, right?  No biggie.  So I let it go and said lamely, "Yeah, let's do it.  It will be fantastic."

So we worked on our centerpieces and tablecloths.  After about half an hour, this same gal who was helping with setup was looking at the gym from the stage and announced loudly, "No, no, no, no.  This is NOT going to work.  It's totally clashing.  What do you think, Karlenn?  Can we take down the Spanish Branch's stuff?"

I nearly fainted from relief.  "Yes," I said, emphatically.

She later came up to me and said, "You never wanted to use the Spanish Branch's stuff in the first place, did you?"

I sheepishly shook my head.

"Why didn't you SAY anything?"

"I just didn't want to be too persnickity."

"Yeah, this does not go with your vision at all.  I'm glad we're taking it down."

"I'm so glad you understand."

In the meantime, all of the menfolk were grumbling about having to spend time taking down perfectly good decorations.  This gal told them to stick it, that it didn't go with my vision.  And that was that.  I was grateful.

So we had thirty tables to decorate, and not enough twiggy lightey thingeys.  So I had to get a little creative with some of the tables.  Here's what I came up with for the others (and try to ignore the M&M's that totally clash with my decor):
I put pinecones in some of my mom's glass bowls - she had some brown ones (and I bought several more, because they were cheap), and then my aunt had some silver ones she had spray-painted at some point.
Then we just wrapped some garland around the glass bowls.

This is what we put in the center of the gym - my family's personal Christmas tree.  And we just decorated it with silver and white bows.  And white lights, of course.  It was understated and beautiful:
Oh, and we can't forget about the serving tables - white poinsettias in large glass vases with silver and white bows as fillers:

It was a breakfast party - breakfast casseroles, fruit, cinnamon rolls...It was a smash.  Here are some broader pics of the gym - this was before most people got there in the morning, so it looks way emptier than it ended up being:

And here is Sades and her friend, Lainey:
So I have a funny story to tell you - in our ward, we have LOTS of little kids. And their favorite thing to do at every ward party is to run around, screaming, through the gym.  I think most of the parents feel badly about it, but at the same time, are relieved to let their kids get their wiggles out.  I've gotten used to it.  It's just the way it is in our ward.

But it drives Ben CRAZY.  At one point, there were these little boys running pell-mell near our table, and Ben grabbed one of them and actually shook him by the shoulders and yelled in his face:  "STOP RUNNING!  Stop it!  Stop it! Stop it!!"

Oh my GOSH.  I was sooooooooo embarrassed.  The kid, beet red, walked away quietly, and then, when he was a few tables away, commenced running and screaming.  I gave Ben a little mini lecture on not yelling at other peoples' children, and then I went to my friend's table and hung out for awhile.  I was just so embarrassed - I had to flee for a bit.  Plus, if the parent of the kid Ben yelled at came up and yelled at Ben, I didn't want to be there.

Luckily, I think the kid forgot the incident five seconds after it happened.  Phew.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Nag

Ohhh that Sadie Girl of mine.  She is quite the little battle-axe.  When she wants to do something, she will NOT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT UNTIL YOU DO IT.  She was ready to put up Christmas stuff, like, the day after Thanksgiving.  I, being the Grinchey-type girl I am, kept groaning and putting her off, but I could only stall it a few days.  She forced my hand.
 The kids decorated it themselves again this year, which means, of course, that it ended up looking like this:
 We go through this every year.  And this is how I feel about it every year:
But you gotta let some things go.  The kids were proud of it.  So it sat like that for a few weeks.  Until Ben couldn't stand it anymore and prettied it up. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Taekwondo Kid

Have any of you seen that new Karate Kid movie?  The one with Jaeden Smith?  Loved the movie, despite the many uncomfortable feelings I have while I'm watching it.  It's PTSD, China style.  (But not for reals.  So don't yell at me if you have PTSD for reals.)  I get flashbacks where I am momentarily transported to the land of the Eternal Stench, the land where I couldn't eat deli sandwiches, the land where I thought I would die of heat stroke.  And I get an uncomfortable feeling in my gut. Unhhhhh.  Like that. Right there.  Unhhhhhh.  For reals, yo.  I get that same feeling when Ben and I are skyping and I can see the apartment behind him.  Transported back.  Unhhhh.

Sorry.  I digress.  Anyways, it's a great movie, but my second biggest beef with it (my China PTSD being the first) is that it's called Karate Kid.  Duhhhh.  It should be called Kung Fu Kid.  Hiiiii.  He is in China.  Therefore, he is practicing Kung Fu.  Not Karate.  If he was in Japan, it would be Karate.  And what is practiced in Korea, you ask?  Why, it's Taekwondo.  And some of the stuff is similar between the different kinds of martial arts - the moves and whatnot. But Taekwondo (what Dylan does) uses Korean words, numbers, etc.

We signed Dylan up for Taekwondo a little over a year ago, and then we left only a couple of months afterward, so I didn't really get exposed to the ways of Taekwondo until we returned and got him back in.  It's been so fun to discover this whole new...subculture.  You know how each activity that people do has its own unique culture?  Take Barbershop Quartet singing.  My BFF, Pooh, and her mom are really into it.  When Pooh and I were both in college and single, Pooh would invite me along to these big, national barbershop quartet singing championship thingeys in Salt Lake.  It was so cool and soooooo funny.  I would hang out, like, in the "backstage"-type areas when Pooh and her mom weren't singing or whatever, and it was hilarious to hang out and soak in the culture.  These people just BREAK out into song randomly!  They'll be talking about something, and then suddenly, they're singing some song, each person in a different part, smiling and doing dance's seriously like being in a musical.  It's the craziest, funniest, coolest thing ever.

So what I'm learning about Taekwondo is that it, too, has a subculture. And it's been fun to learn about it.

Dyl had his first tournament in December.  It's called a Friendship Tournament.  It was just down in Pocatello.  Ben actually went with Dylie to this while I stayed home with the smaller kids.  Which is a really, really good plan.  You don't want to be chasing kids during any of these things.  Because they last for HOURS.  Hours and hours and hours.  You do a lot of sitting.  And a lot of waiting.  And a lot of confused blinking.

Kay.  So in Taekwondo, you learn sparring (fighting with an opponent) and you learn these things called forms, which are like dance routines, but with fighting moves.  You do both things for tournaments.  You usually do your form with one other person, to move things along (like it helps), and then you spar with a few different people.  They use those bracket thingeys like you see during March Madness.  This friendship tournament is a smaller tournament, which is a good place to start when you are a first-time Taekwondo-er.

Oh.  And you've heard of "black belt," right?  Your first belt is a white belt.  Then the next level is white-belt-with-a-yellow-stripe.  Then yellow belt.  Then yellow-belt-with-blue-stripe.  And on and on and on through the rainbow of colors until you reach black belt.  And then there are seven degrees of black belts, I believe.  So you spar and do forms with people who are in your level, right? They don't have black belts and white belts sparring.

Kay, so this is Dyl in the Friendship Tournament, doing his form:

And then he did a lot of waiting....

And then he got to do some sparring, which Ben got a video of, but no stills.  Dylan won 3rd place in his division for sparring and 2nd place for his form.  He got some certificates:

That dude giving him his certificates is named..let's call him Grand Master Blade.  His last name is the word for a weapon.  Which I think is funny.  He's the main dude in charge for the entire state of Idaho.  He lives in Boise.

The next thing on the docket was a Rank Test.  This is where you do your form, and then you spar.  And if you do well on both, you get your next belt.  There are only a few opportunities per year to move up to the next belt.  This rank test was in February.  Dylan earned his yellow stripe at this one.

A lot of waiting went on at this thing.  So we get down to Pocatello, and I'm like, okay, where do I pay my money? Let's do this thing!  And all the Taekwondo Moms (they're like soccer moms) were like, "You must wait for Grand Master Blade to appear.  When Grand Master Blade appears, then you can pay your money." 

I was like, "Appear?" 

"Yeah.  He has to drive here from Boise.  When he is here, then we can begin."  It was all very mystical and weird. 

My sister, Lex, was with me, and we're like, "Who is this Blade guy?  Why do we have to wait for him to appear?  Will he arrive in a puff of smoke??" 

And then I was thinking to myself, "So when you get to be, like, a seventh level black belt and become a grand master, do you get to choose a weapon as your last name??" So then I was, like, imagining what I would choose as my weapon last name, which invariably led me to go through all the weapons in the game Clue.  Grand Master Lead Pipe. Grand Master Rope.  Grand Master Candlestick. 

Turns out, this guy just happens to have a weapon as a last name.  Which I think is so cool.  For reals.  Imagine.  "Hi, my name is Karlenn Knife."  "That girl over there, her name is Karlenn Wrench..."

Here Dylan is, waiiiiiiiiiiiiiiting...

Finally, Grand Master Blade "appeared" (walked through the door), and we could finally get the show on the road.  Here Dylie is doing his form:

And then he got to spar with his little BFF in his class.  We'll call him Carson:

They both did really well and earned their yellow stripes.  Here is Carson, looking back at his mom, like, "Hey, ma, get a load of this!!"  Carson is a really funny, cute kid:

We took a picture of the kids from Dylan's school who tested:
Kay, and here's another thing about Taekwondo that I actually like.  There are a ton of kids in this group, but you'll see later on that there are usually adults mixed with the kids.  I'd say that maybe a third of Dylan's class is adults.  Which I thought was weird at first, but it's part of this subculture.  Everyone starts somewhere.  There are senior citizens who are doing this, some of them just starting out, some of them black belts.  There are moms.  There are teenagers.  There are college students.  And everyone helps everyone else. And they don't ever pit adults against the kids or anything.  Everyone has their own category.

Here is Dylan with his teacher.  We'll call him...James.
Dyl was thrilled to get his yellow stripe (which is actually just electrical tape.  I learned the hard way that you do NOT launder these belts once they have their stripe on them, or they'll peel off).

Then, on St. Patrick's Day was the big Northwestern tournament - everyone from the entire northwest (that wanted to) was there.

Lots of waiting.....

Forgive me for these pictures.  I forgot my camera and took pictures with my craptastic phone.  I call it the Barbie phone.  It's a piece of junk.

I don't have a picture of Dyl doing his form (which he just learned in February - each level of belt has its own form you have to memorize).  But I do have some of him sparring:

And more waiiiiiiiiiiiiiting.... (I brought stuff to make hair bows during the periods of waiting.  Sadie, who accompanied Dylan and I to Boise, was so bored that she begged to help me.)  {Aren't her little St. Patty's Day gloves cute???]:

They didn't do awards for forms in this tournament (maybe there were too many people??), but they did do awards for sparring, and Dylan won first place in his division!  Out of the entire northwest!!!  To say that he was walking on air is an understatement. :)

Alright.  So now we come to this last Friday, which was another rank test.  His teacher felt that he was ready to earn his yellow belt, so we went down to Poky again.

Again, no pics of his form, but I do have some of him sparring.  The kid can jump:
Ahh.  Like mother, like son.  Jumps were my specialty when I did ballet - did you know that?  Now you know. :)

 Sure enough, Dylie earned his yellow belt. Here is his teacher, putting it on him:

The members of the class who came down:

See? Adults, kids, teenagers...

One happy camper:
And below, one happy camper eating an amazing sandwich from this sandwich place in Poky called The Works.  My sis, Lex, hung out with us at this thing, and she and I ran over to get some food during one of the waiting lulls.  These sandwiches are to DIE for.  A. maz. ing.:

I'm so proud of my little man.  It's been fun to see him find something he really likes. We've tried him in different sports, but he wasn't ever really enthusiastic about any of them, until we found this.  So I think this is what we'll stick with for awhile.

Sadie told me the other day that she wants to do Taekwondo.  I was surprised.  "Really?" I asked.

"Yeah," she said, a slow smile creeping across her face.  "I want to fight."

Yeah, that is sooooooo Sadie.  We'll just have to find a money tree from which to get some money to pay for two kids to do this.  It's expensive stuff.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Glass Pie Plates - A Cautionary Tale

Dude. Thanksgiving.

Kay, so I was in charge of bringing pies and homemade rolls to my parents' house. I chose to make one pumpkin pie and one pecan pie. And they were gorgeous. I had seen, in a magazine, a pecan pie where there were pecan halves lining the edge of the pie - a nice touch. So I tried it, and it looked awesome.

When they were cooled and it was just about time to leave, I carefully opened the front door, put a pie in each hand, and stepped outside. Then, as I went down the one step to the front walk, my ankle rolled over. It was soooooooo fast. One second, I was walking with one pie in each hand, and the next second, I was on the front walk, glass pie plates shattered, mooshy pie all over the place, blood dripping off my hands.

You see, when I fell, my hands and the pie plates hit the sidewalk at the same time, so I got some pretty nasty cuts. And I had a nice-looking gash on my knee. (How do your jeans not rip, but you get a bloody gash on your knee? Weird.)

So yeah, I was in pain, but when I started sobbing, it wasn't because of the pain. It was because of my gorgeous pies - all my hard work - just mooshed up on my front sidewalk. I cried and cried and cried. Ben hadn't seen or heard what happened - he was toward the other end of the house, getting the kids ready. I felt stupid for sitting on the front sidewalk, crying by myself, so I decided I should probably clean up my wounds and bandage them up.

So I walked in, sobbing, limping, dripping with blood, and Ben was like, "What the H???" He hugged me and told me it would be alright, and while I cleaned myself up, he used a broom to kind of sweep up/continue mooshing the pie all around.

We went to Albertson's on the way to my parents' house and picked up a couple of crappy pies - I hate store-bought pies. When Ben brought them into the car and had me hold them on my lap, I burst into tears again. :) Food is an emotional thing for me.

I drop soooooo many glass things every year. My dishwasher was making a really bizarre noise recently, so Ben checked into it while he was here - it turns out that a piece of something glass that had shattered recently (I don't even remember what it was that broke - that's how often things break here) bounced up through this little space at the bottom of the washer, getting caught up in there and jamming up the motor.

Just in the past year, I've broken several drinking glasses and two light fixture thingeys. It's an issue. I'm a dropper. ("She's one of those droppers!") So no more glass for me. I've started buying plastic glasses to replace the many glass ones that I've shattered lately. :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Marlon Brando...I mean, my gramps.

This is a pic of my gramps as a young man. Isn't he handsome? I think he tooooootally looks like Marlon Brando in that picture.

Dylan's hair reminds me of my grandpa's hair when he was young - curly and thick, thick, thick. Sometimes, when Dylan's hair is looking particularly curly and crazy, I think it looks just like the above picture. Dyl has his hair in a "mohawk" right now - I put that in quotes because it's ridiculous. His hair is so curly that, when he puts the special stuff in it and sticks it up, it goes up a little, but mainly curls over on each side, so that it just looks like a fountain. :)

Dyls had to do a project and make a poster about his oldest living relative, which is my gramps. When I found out he had to do a poster, I went and picked out some cute paper at Porter's. Dyls said he wanted it to look just like one of my scrapbooking layouts, so that's what we did. We measured and cut and glued. Here it is without the photographs on it:

And then I felt bad for having helped him so extensively on it. I was like, "Ugh, I'm like one of those parents I hated when I was a teacher." Yeah, we did it together, and Dylan really wanted it to look this way, but still... I felt badly. So I told him to decide where to put the pictures and stickers himself. I really wanted it to look like HIS project, not mine.

They were supposed to find ways to represent a bunch of different things - what language Gramps grew up speaking (English), where he was born (U.S.A.), favorite games (poker), different jobs he's had, etc. Here's Dyl's finished product:

I thought I might show you some of these pictures up close (plus a couple of them that didn't make the cut, because I like 'em).

A picture of Gramps as a baby:

This is Gramps and his big brother, Eddie:

They used to play Cowboys and Indians together:

Grandpa's family before his younger brother was born. That's him, at the bottom, with the knock knees:

I think his mom, Elsie, died when he was six years old. Sad, huh? She was so pretty. She was half Native American.

His dad worked for the railroad, so when his mom died, he and his two brothers were farmed out to different families for several years until his dad remarried. It was a hard childhood.

Gramps's graduation picture:

Gramps was in the Korean War - he did the same job as Corporal Klinger did in M.A.S.H.:

Here he is with his wife and children. My mom's the one in the green jumper:

For a short time, Gramps and Grams owned a local 7-11. We got all the free Slurpees we wanted. I loved that. :)

My Gramps is a pretty great guy. He's having some awful health problems lately; I visited him on my birthday, and he's feeling pretty low. My son, Gage, attempted to make him feel better by breaking one of his vases. Yeah. That was pretty awesome. :)
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