Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Dreams Really Do Come True (or, My Kids Are Really Weird)

About a year ago, Camille got it in her head that she wanted to try fishing.  Colton soon followed suit, and they've been talking about going fishing on and off for a while now.  

The problem with this is that I. don't. fish.  I don't know anything about fishing, and I don't have the equipment or body of water to try fishing.  And I hate eating fish or seafood of any kind.  So this wasn't really something I had any ability or desire to try.  We were very stuck.

At some point, I told them they should just ask Bentley's friend Aaron, since his family is all about fishing (and hunting.  If the zombie apocalypse happens, we're just going to hope that they take us in).  The nice thing about this, was they began pestering Aaron instead of me!  But Aaron is just a kid, it's not like he was going to set up a fishing date with them or anything.  So they pestered him a lot, to no good purpose.

And then things started to get weird...

One Sunday, they were very busy working on a note, which they passed to Aaron right before church started.  He and Bentley both sit up front to bless the sacrament, so they marched up and delivered the note to him in front of everyone.  Later on, during the sacrament, Colton was laughing so hard he decided to move away from Camille and sit next to me.  When I asked him what was so funny, he told me that the note they'd passed Aaron said, "Take us fishing or else!"

Uh, yeah, that's normal.

Then, they started plotting what the "or else" could mean, and decided they could poison his bread if he didn't take them fishing!  When Colton asked how they could tell if Aaron had eaten the poisoned bread, Camille watched everyone reverently participating in what's supposed to be a sacred ordinance and calmly replied, "I guess we'll find out soon enough."  That was when Colton burst into fits of giggles.

My kids might be psychopaths.

And what's worse, as he told me all this, it was all I could do not to howl with laughter at my demented kids.  So now you know where they get it from.

It's probably a good thing Craig is up on the stand and not sitting with us any more.

*    *    *    *    *    *

Anyway, this week for Young Mens, they went fishing.  And Craig let Camille tag along, since I had to drive the other kids to the church.  And Aaron (bless is forgiving heart) helped her fish:

I'm honestly not sure if she's happier about getting to finally try fishing, or about having Aaron's arms around her...

Then they actually caught something, and this was her reaction.  She IS my daughter after all!

Ryder was also very excited to catch something--

--but he ALSO didn't want to touch it, so Bentley posed with Ryder's fish!

And they finished the evening with a paddle boat ride!
So hopefully we can cross that off our To Do list.  And maybe, just maybe, we can also stop threatening the teenagers in our ward!

Saturday, June 11, 2022

End of the Year Celebrations

Yesterday was the last day of school!  We survived another year, and now it remains to be seen if I can survive another summer!  We have TWO KIDS moving schools now-- Kendra finished middle school and will be a high schooler in the fall, and Ryder finished elementary school and will be in middle school all by himself (his first time ever not having a sibling at his school with him) in September!  So there have been a lot of activities swirling around these momentous events.  

Last week, the elementary school had Field Day.  They go to the high school football field for this, and a fire truck comes and sprays them with water.  Obviously, they LOVE it.  The school had also been hard at work coordinating a massive tie dye effort, so each grade had a tie-dyed shirt in its colors (and 5th graders get to use all the colors).  I can't even imagine trying to pull off something like this!

Camille with her bff Mara.  1st grade got purple!

I really love this action shot!

And 3rd grade was green!

And that night was the 8th grade dance!  This felt like a bigger deal than usual because (thanks to Covid) Kendra hasn't really gotten to go to many dances so far.  I think this was her second dance ever?  (And a boy asked her to the dance, so that was also swimming into new and uncharted waters.  For all of us, actually...)  This was the same night I was at Montalto, so I missed out on this, but Craig got pictures for me of our beautiful girl:

They must have been running behind; usually Craig would have kicked that backpack out of the way and made sure this was a better staged picture!  But you get the idea.

Wednesday was an awards ceremony at Walton!  It was during the day and they'd said parents didn't need to come, so we weren't going to bother.  But then I got a call from the guidance counselor saying Kendra would be receiving an award and we should be there, so Craig and I rearranged our schedules and surprised Kendra by showing up.  And it was very fun to see her receive the award for Music for her whole class!  My little band geek! 😍

The principal also gave a very short speech with some incredibly great advice, so I really appreciated that.  Mr. Walton (yup, the principal of Walton Middle School is named Mr. Walton!) said 1) Be suspicious of anyone who tells you these are your best days; you might have really great days or really bad days in the next few years, but life is long and there is a lot of time for plenty of ups and downs; 2) Learn the value of compound interest, study what that is now if you don't already know (or ask your parents to explain it).  In very simple terms, when you place value on something and others value it, too, the value can grow exponentially.  Kindness can also grow exponentially, so 3) also practice being kind to others.  You will never regret the times that you were kind.

Seriously-- for a two minute speech, he packed some REALLY good advice into it!

Next they had a slide show for all the kids, which I had sent in a few pictures of Kendra for, and they'd added their own notes to the bottom about what makes each kid unique.  So here's Kendra's:

I love those pictures of Kendra!  In case you can't read it, hers says, "Involved (Band, WLHW, School Play, Rocket Club), Athletic (Swim Team), Philosophical, Creative."  I can't imagine trying to do that for all the students in the 8th grade!

That evening while we were eating dinner, we checked Kendra's grades and she had managed to get her language arts grade up to an A, meaning she had all As for the year.  Which means she could finally get a phone, a greatly anticipated event for her:

"Is this really what I think it is???"

The next day, in the evening, they'd invited everyone to come for an "informal walk-through."  I had no idea what this meant, but basically, we just walked through the hallway and the teachers were all lined up cheering for all the 8th graders.  They had a photo booth set up in the cafeteria, and then popsicles once you got outside.  It honestly would have been kind of stupid, but all of Kendra's friends had waited outside for her to arrive (and we hadn't realized they'd be waiting, so we were quite late) and all the girls walked through arm-in-arm together and it was really quite sweet.  And they got to hang out for quite some time (and sing a lot of Hamilton!) and they were all in such great spirits and it was such a beautiful evening it was impossible not to enjoy it all.  So well done, Walton admin team!

And then Friday was Ryder's 5th grade promotion ceremony!  (I sort of liked that they didn't call it a graduation.  Let's save that word for high schools and colleges, right?)  But finishing elementary school is a big step in growing up, and it always makes me get a little teary eyed seeing the evidence of my kids getting so big!  This year they were holding this outside, and I learned of this on a day that was sweltering and the thought of sitting outside for an hour made me want to die.  But the actual morning was perfect: 70 degrees and not humid, crystal clear air.  Not a cloud in sight.  So we all lucked out.  Tom and Donna came, too, so we all got to sit together and cheer on Ryder.

While parents got seated, they had the 5th graders waiting in the cafeteria and the kids had each made a slide for themselves and they watched the slide show.  That's a nice way to keep them happy, but it meant none of the parents got to see it!  Fortunately, I have friends who work for the schools, so they got pictures for me.
Ryder is our first kid to do all 6 grades at Mountain View!  (Even though when he started, it was called Cale...)

In the cafeteria with Owen, Oscar, and Josh)

I hate wearing hats, but I hate getting sunburned even more...

With Ms. Palmer (my neighbor, Ginna, and Sydney & Beth's mom!)

And Ms. Lewandowski

Showing us his monkeybar skills one last time
We took Ryder home with us, and Tom and Donna took him out for breakfast.  Colton and Camille (who had gotten to leave class to watch the promotion ceremony) stayed for their own class festivities, and got to also walk through a hallway of cheering teachers as they left for the buses at the end of their half-day of school.

(This was a live photo, and you can see Colton looking slightly bewildered at all the noise, and then spot the camera filming him and smile and give the thumbs up-- it's very cute)

And now, it's officially Summer Vacation!!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2022


Most of the weddings I work are at Pippin Hill, which is great, because that is a lovely and delightful venue AND they feed me a really great steak dinner.  I am always happy to spend an evening at Pippin!  But it is nice to see other locations every so often, so I was excited to sign up to help out at Montalto, which is just higher up on the mountain from Jefferson's Monticello.  And it was a beautiful wedding!  The weather was perfect (which is saying something, because we had something of a mini-hurricane rush through our neighborhood the day before and that was WILD); the bride was lovely (I mean-- she looked lovely, but she also seemed like a genuinely lovely person, too, thanking me for being there to help out and making sure I helped myself to some dessert and everything).  And what made it even more fun was that Bentley got to come along and work, too!  The minute we showed up Adam put him to work detailing, and it looked like he was doing a great job of it.  That's my boy! 

Unfortunately, having company had sort of messed up my work schedule at the law firm, so I ended up working on closing files all day, had a couple hours at home, and then hurried to the wedding as soon as Bentley was home from school.  I worked 11 hours that day!  What was I thinking???  But the wedding ended up being so fun, I didn't really mind.  (I did sleep REALLY WELL that night, though!)

If you really zoom in on this, you can see that the moon is a perfect crescent moon!

Once the guests were seated for dinner, we didn't have nearly as much to do, so after much hemming and hawing, Adam decided to have Stephanee leave (since she had a broken toe) and take Bentley home, too.  Bentley was happy with this, because it meant he'd have time to watch Stranger Things before going to bed.  And I was happy to watch the festivities and then get everything packed into Adam's truck at the end.  (Making Stephanee do that with a broken toe would have been mean.)  Each table had vases of various shapes and sizes with flowers in them, and I learned that the vases had all been made (!!!) by the mother of the bride!  As we were cleaning stuff up, she was giving them away, so I got two lovely vases!  I had actually noticed them earlier because I loved the glazing on them.  So that made my night!  (I am very easily pleased, I guess.) (I'll post pictures of the vases once they are no longer filled with half-wilted flowers.  I have to do them justice!)

Fortunately, this wedding ended around 10pm, so that's not very late as far as weddings go.  And it was so nice outside, watching the sunset and the guests all mingling, listening to some soothing acoustic guitar.  It was like going to Carter Mountain, without the crowds AND getting paid for it!

We have so much fun!

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Memorial Day Visitors!

We somehow ended up with Craig's brother and family and my sister and her family all visiting us Memorial Day weekend!  Jason & Jeni arrived on Saturday, and we got to wrestle with finding a restaurant that could seat 15 people and feed people with celiac something other than salad.  (We actually HAD figured out a great restaurant, but for some reason Craig's parents refused to believe it would have gluten-free food.  But once Jeni looked at the menu she was excited for it and I think everyone was very happy with their meal there.)  Burtons Grill for the win!

Kamryn, Lindsy, Kendra, Maya.  What a cute bunch!
And even though they came back for a bit after church on Sunday, too, and we had a nice time eating pulled pork sandwiches out on our deck, we somehow managed to not take any pictures of that day.  Craig and I are the worst.

Right before all the Smiths headed out, the Aveytuas arrived!  I was extremely excited to hold my new niece and begin whispering to her that I am her favorite aunt!

You can tell she's really paying attention.  "Favorite Aunt Alanna, is that you?"

We also quickly noticed that Bentley is now taller than his uncle:
Ian was a very good sport about this!
And then we mostly just hung out and took turns holding London!  It was great!!!
Such a sweet baby!!!

Clayton was very excited to "help" everyone with their practicing.  The kids didn't mind, since then I couldn't tell if it was them hitting the wrong notes or Clayton!

We spent Monday afternoon at the pool and grilled hamburgers and hotdogs in true Memorial Day fashion.  Clayton only managed to jump in once, and Ian dove in and got him immediately.  Otherwise it was very uneventful, in the best possible way.

Colton bought himself a 3-D pen and made these glasses with it, along with little shields for each cousin with their initials on them.

While the kids were at school, we took the boys to a splash pad and absolutely cooked in the sun while they had a great time.  Why is there no shade at these places???  We cooled off with popsicles (and AC!).  (I like how Clayton has quite the goatee from that Oreo popsicle!)

Bentley was nice about playing Candyland with Nolan before school

I continue to be impressed with Rachael's commitment to putting matching bows on London!

In addition to all this, we also ate a lot of ice cream, and Craig, Ian, and Kendra went and saw the new Top Gun movie!  So we had a lot of fun!

The Aveytuas headed out Wednesday morning, stopping at the DC temple open house on their way home.  So glad the temple could entice them our way! 😂 (And, they had the great fortune of London pooping through all her clothes in the parking lot, not INSIDE the temple.  Well done, little girl!)
Times when I don't miss having a baby! 😬

Friday, May 27, 2022

Where Did May Go?

The school year is rapidly coming to a close and I feel like there are so many end-of-year things to keep track of!  So here's a hodgepodge of the stuff we've been up to...

Our neighborhood is inviting food trucks to come to our pool parking lot every other week!  This is the kind of fun I can get behind (as opposed to their usual bourbon tastings)!  We decided it would be too expensive to bring the entire family every single time, so we're making it a date night with each kid individually, so this was enjoying Martin's Grill with Camille!
Kendra's end-of-year band concert was a lot of fun!  And she got to stand and be recognized since she'd played with both the district and regional bands!

On a Sunday evening when Camille had a cold, I put her to bed early and encouraged the big kids to "play a board game or something" and they actually did!  AND, they even had fun, too!  That made me incredibly happy.

I'm still exercising with FiA three days a week, even if occasionally it ends up just being me and Brandy!  (We're at UVA's rotunda for this one, but they had tents up for graduation.  This turned out to be a good thing, because a bunch of students had come to watch the sunrise from the rotunda, so the tent gave us a little privacy.  I don't like exercising with an audience!)

My neighbor's kousa dogwood had approximately a billion blossoms this spring!  I don't know why it outshone all the other trees, but I sure love walking past it!

Now that the AP test is over, this is the sort of project Bentley's world history teacher has her students doing: making minion versions of historical characters.  Here we have Napoleon.

One of Craig's tires had a slow leak, so after school I took it to Costco to be looked at.  This meant killing time in Costco for an hour or so, so here we are, trying out all the couches!  (It turned out the tire was still under warranty, so getting it patched was free!)

We were at Costco for so long that Craig finished work and joined us.  And then we got hungry and ordered pizza.  And then Bentley was texting me asking when we'd be home with the pizza because he was starving, so I sent him this taunting picture.  Parenting at its finest!

But I know Bentley has forgiven me because he invites me to join him for silly selfies.  I guess this is what bonding with your teenager looks like these days?

And baseball season is in full swing (ha-- get it?), so here's Colton up to bat!  I will be excited when we don't have Saturday morning practice any more, but I guess I shouldn't complain, because in the fall we kept having Saturday morning games, and I felt like I had to stay and watch those.  At least I can just drop the boys off for practice!

The weather this spring has been absolutely bizarre.  It will get really hot, and then cool down and rain for a week.  And then get hot for a couple more days.  It's this sort of whiplash of tearing all the winter blankets off the bed and then wanting to put them back on again.  And the rainy days TOTALLY feel like Seattle to me.  I'm not complaining about any of this, mind you-- it's actually pretty awesome.  But a little weird, too.

And in other, non-photo-worthy, news, work is going well!  I'm on my 3rd draft of closure letters for one of the partners, and hopefully we'll be done soon and I can move on to another partner's closed files.  Last Friday I got a text from Adam informing me that his assistant, Stephanee (who I mentioned in my previous post) would like to cut back her hours and would I like to take over for her?  I've wanted this job for a while (but in a not-trying-to-get-rid-of-Stephanee sort of way), so the answer was a resounding Yes!  Hopefully I can ease into that while Stephanee eases out, and by the time he needs me more, I'll be mostly done at the law firm.  Working for Adam would mean working about 10-15 hours a week, but at home in my pajamas, so that's pretty much my dream job.  I spoke with my neighbor from the law firm and she wasn't sure they'd have a whole lot for me to do once I finish with their closed files (or if they do need me, it would probably be to come in and tidy the files up maybe once a month), so this might just work out well for everyone.  Maybe?  We'll see.  It will take some finagling, but hopefully I can pull this off.

OH!!!  I forgot to ever mention it on this blog, but my PARENTS came to visit back in April!  We had the best time hanging out and walking a lot and eating at my favorite restaurants.  I took very few pictures (as per usual), but before they flew out we did snap a couple pictures just to prove they were here:
You can tell it was bright out, since we're all pretty squinty (and notice my pretty flowering dogwood behind us!)

We asked Ryder to take that top picture, so of course he took a selfie...

Also, THIS has been happening!  😬😬😬
I'm not sure which is worse: sitting in the passenger seat while your teenager drives, or trying to tell him how to drive and realizing you are a terrible driver, OR the fact that this has amped up my backseat driving to such an amazing degree that if Craig and I get divorced, it will probably be because I'm telling him how to drive even MORE now.  (It was even more embarrassing when I did it to Brandy the other day as we drove home from FiA...  Fortunately she also has a teen driver and was very understanding when I apologized!)