Sunday, August 31, 2008

Family Street Dance!

(Suggested music - YMCA - Village People)Four years ago we were talking with our next door neighbors, and we had the idea of doing a family dance. We have a private lane, so we decided to do it right out on the street, in our cul-de-sac, which is right in front of our house.

The first few years we hired a DJ, but then we went together with our neighbors and bought a sound system and we DJ our own dances now. The sound system has actually been quite valuable; we've used it on a lot of occasions.

Bruce rigged a platform for the lights from the rack that he used to put on his Ford Ranger truck. Peter is his right hand man when he sets up and takes down the equipment.

We do the dance every year on the first weekend after the beginning of school, to celebrate the end of summer and going back to school.

This dance is so much fun! Josh and I just wrote down everyone we could think of, and we remembered 163 people, although we didn't know the names of everyone. Those we didn't know, we put down names such as American Eagle guy, friend of American Eagle, no-shirt, Mr. Boxers, blond hair 1, etc. I'm sure there were more than we could think of. "No-shirt" and "Mr. Boxers" only came for one part of a song. I don't think they got the reaction they wanted, so they soon left. We were relieved, 'cause I was gonna have to go tell the one guy to get a shirt on and the other to pull his pants up. Awkward.

Bruce set up a movie in the backyard for the little kids with a projector and a big screen. They watched Alvin and the Chipmunks with blankets spread out on the grass.

We decided that for the next dance, Libby needs to be out dancing instead of watching the movie. When the movie got over and she came out to the street to dance, she was bustin' a move! I should have taken a video of her dancing to "Peanut Butter and Jelly". It was darling. Peter, on the other hand, ran away when we suggested he dance with Libby during a slow song. And I didn't see any dancing on fast songs either. He was just fine with the movie.

We had a special performance this year from Richie and three of our neighbor friends. They did a hip hop routine that was great!

We loved all the teenagers there. Afterward, Josh came and asked me, "Why don't we do this more often? Everyone's having a great time." We wished there were more adults there with their teenagers, but I guess that's par for the course.

The songs that were the most popular were YMCA, Best of Both Worlds, and some of the line dances like Men in Black, Cotton Eye Joe and Thriller.

The slow dances were also very popular, of course. Dads and daughters were the most fun to watch!

Hands down, though, the best time at the dance was had by Mary's age group. They actually DANCED most of the time, had no inhibitions, and weren't worried about the boy-girl thing, so they had a ball!

It was really fun to see families dancing also, like this fantastic family that moved here last Spring. The quote of the night is from Ralf. When we were voting on the last slow song to be played, Open Arms, by Journey, was one of the options. We were commenting on how suprising it is that the teenagers know Journey songs and like them so much. Ralf said, "There are two kinds of people in this world - those who like Journey, and those who are liars."

I danced like there was no tomorrow. Jesse came up, grabbed me and said, "Moooom. Please stop! Please don't dance anymore!" I just laughed. No chance of that. Poor Jesse - I embarass her to death. I didn't embarass Mary. She was right out there dancin' with me and learning some great moves.

This morning at the breakfast table, we made two new rules for the Street Dance next year.
Rule 1: When someone in our family asks another member of the family to dance, you have to dance!
Rule 2: When September, by Earth Wind & Fire, comes on (this is my extended family's favorite song to dance to) then all of our family has to come to the front and dance together. I'm looking forward to that!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Second First Day of Scool

(Suggested music - Waterfall - Jim Brickman)

Today was the first day of school for the middle school and the high school. Josh was up early because he has Show Choir zero hour. He is really excited about Show Choir this year. Most of his best friends are in the choir, so it's just one big party every day. I love Josh because he's so cheerful in the morning.
Peter was the next one up this morning. He came down and ate French Toast with Josh before he left. I guess he's getting used to his early morning schedule. He fixed the tires on his bike and they were still holding up. He was very happy about that! I finally trimmed his bangs this morning too. They were driving me crazy.
Joseph was the next one up. He came down half asleep and said, "What happened to Show Choir, Josh?" This was still before Josh had to leave. Josh and I chuckled because Joseph is so out of it when he first wakes up. We patiently explained that it wasn't time to leave yet, but we could tell that it was all a mystery to Joseph. Ha ha He does wake up and become cheerful, but it takes him a bit.
Jesse was the next one up. She is a busy body in the morning, scuryying around, all organized and cute and ready. She is the one that gets everybody out the door - not by assignment, but by nature. It's not pleasant; but on the other hand, what would we do without her? :)
Mary was up at the same time as Jesse. She looked so cute in her plaid shorts and pink shirt that we got in Park City. As you can see, plaid is in!! Mary stirs around and gets ready on time too. She is so excited about starting at the Middle School. Wahoo!

I never got a picture of Libby this morning, because she was in the bathtub until about five minutes before we went to the bus. We got her up too late. She ate her plate of French Toast in the truck on the way to the bus, and ran and got on the bus in her stocking feet with her shoes in her hand. Ah... we need to work on that.

I love this picture! We have the cutest kids in the world. Off to school they go!

I wish I had a video of my neighbor (and friend) saying good-bye to her first grader (and youngest child) at the bus stop this morning. I was parked right behind her, waiting for the bus, and I could see her face framed in the driver's side mirror. I was struck in that moment by how beautiful she looked. Soon I saw her reach her arm out and beckon her six year old over to the car. He climbed up on the running board, and she caressed the side of his face. Soon the car door was open, and he was sitting on her lap. Then I could see his smiling face in the driver's side mirror. Man, I wished I had my camera. Soon the bus came and he was off, climbing on the bus with his older brother. She waited until the bus left. I saw one glimpse in the mirror of a not-so-composed face, but as she drove off, she looked fine - beautiful, as she always is.

I wonder if one could take a gauge of all Mothers' hearts on the morning of the first day of school, what would it read? How deep would the gauge have to measure? If their feelings are anything close to how I felt, watching those cute, cute children of mine climb on the bus, and especially after watching my friend send her baby off to school, the gauge would have to be deep indeed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Officially a Teenager!

Happy Birthday to Jesse! She woke up to the family singing Las MaƱanitas to her, and then she had her favorite breakfast of crepes on the red "You Are Special" plate. It was complete with the red and pink roses that Mary and Bruce picked the day before.
Later in the day we went shopping with all the gift cards and money that her friends very generously gave her for her birthday. Since this is one of Jesse's favorite activities (she did NOT get this from me), she was delighted to do this on her birthday!
Later in the day, we had Hawaiian Haystacks for dinner and then Jesse, Mary and I went to see Kung-Fu Panda. She said it was one of her best birthdays ever.We got to see Aunt Lorna Kay, Kaylee and Kaleb for a few minutes before they took off to run errands in Boise.

It's so fun to have Jesse as a daughter. She is a mover and a shaker! When Jesse's around, things get done, things are happening, things are stirred up. Most of the time that's good, and sometimes, not so good. :) I am grateful to her for tons of help around the house, help with Peter and Libby, help with running my life. Heavenly Father knew I needed a daughter like Jesse to be right where she is in the family. I love her so much. She is the spark that keeps me hopping - that's for sure! She also made the A team for 8th grade volleyball (the best team) this week. She will be busy playing volleyball and soccer. The practice times are different, so she can do both. As you can see from the pictures, she is becoming a lovely young lady and growing and learning so much.

Happy Birthday Jesse!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Junk Behavior, Younger Siblings, and Bank Accounts

I learned two good things this week that I want to share.

The first one is about junk behavior. At "Women's Night Out" at my friend's house, we discussed the book she suggested reading called The Power of Positive Parenting, by Glenn I. Latham. Although I have not read the book, one of the things that was discussed was junk behavior, which is defined (as much as I can remember) as annoying, irritating behavior, such as whining or teasing that is age-appropriate and does not affect their long-term development. The goal for parents with junk behavior is to ignore it.

I think with the younger children in one's family, this is much easier to do, because you know what age-appropriate behavior is, and you have enough experience to know that it will pass. I generally do a good job of ignoring junk behavior, but my challenge is to train my older children to ignore the junk behavior of their younger siblings! If I start now, they will have a head-start on being first-time parents.

I have wondered in the past what effect having five younger siblings had on my training and preparation to be a parent. I think it was quite significant, although subliminal, meaning that I knew how to do things, even though I didn't know how I knew it - I just knew that was the way it was done. But no matter how big the family, someone is going to be at the end and not have younger siblings. Hopefully, they will have enough exposure by then to cousins, nieces and nephews, and friends (and the actual day to day care of them from time to time) that they have some exposure to taking care of young children while they are growing up. I need to think of that for Peter and Libby.

The second thing I learned is from the blog Get Rich Slowly (see the link on the sidebar). We have done away with using credit cards for any purchase except for gas. We use one CC, put all of our gas on it, and get 5% back on these purchases. Instead of just paying the balance off from our checking account at the end of the month, I have opened a sub account with ING Direct. I am going to transfer the money for the balance on the CC into this sub account frequently throughout the month, so I make sure I always have the money to pay the full balance.

I have considered in the past paying off the CC as soon as the purchase was made, but I didn't want to give up the money I could earn in interest if that money was still in my bank account. Now I can "pay" the CC to my sub account, and earn interest at the same time.

If you use a credit card(s), how do you make sure you have enough in your account for the CC bill at the end of the month?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

First Day of School

It's the first day of school for Peter and Libby! Their school starts a week earlier than the older kids'.

How is it that you can want to jump up and down and shout hooray,

and want to cry at the same time.
I just want to take their cute little faces in my hands and kiss their cheeks. I'll have to wait a few more hours to do that.

But off they go! Thankfully they have a great school.

And they are still young enough to be very excited about the first day!

Whew - and some peace and quiet for Mom.
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Joshua ordained a Priest

Joshua was ordained a Priest today! Next Sunday he will give the prayer in Spanish in the Sacrament. Isn't that cool? He sounds really good. For not being a native speaker, he can pronounce it really well. It will be nice to have someone up at the table permanently. In the past, random priesthood holders were coming up haphazardly from the congregation to do the prayer. We have another young man that will turn 16 at the end of the month, so that will be great to have two priests.

We had Family Home Evening tonight because we have too much going on tomorrow night to fit in FHE, but we usually have it on Monday night. Libby gave the lesson, which she hasn't done for a long time. She used a puzzle that she had gotten in Primary today of the scripture "I am the light of the world." She was so funny giving this lesson. She was all business - telling everyone what to do, and looking for all the world like she'd given a hundred lessons before. If she keeps this up she will turn out to be a natural teacher. It was really quite amusing!

We went over to our friends house tonight for ice cream, and they had scones with honey butter to begin with (yum, yum) and then later they served root beer floats. They prepared a slusie for me out of cranberry/pomegranate juice. It was very thoughtful! We had a ton of fun playing their new Clavinova digital piano. WOW - it had so many features and the touch and sound were wonderful. Not quite as good as an acoustic piano, but pretty darn close. Someday, someday we will have something like that.

Loving the Olympics, of course. Michael Phelps - you are the man! I think he handled himself so well with all this press attention, etc. Watching Usain Bolt was stunning, but you can see the difference between him and Michael Phelps. He just seemed more cocky. But it really was amazing to watch Bolts' race. It doesn't seem like there's been such a clear winner in the 100 meter race in a long time. Does it just make you a little crazy that he didn't run his best all the way to the end?? Ah, that just makes me want to pound my fists, for some reason. I hope he does in the 200 meter.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Phelps Phan

OK, I'm a big phan, along with the rest of America. Cavic was so cocky that even after Michael won, he was saying, "Who is the gold-medal winner?" Duh. That's what's so cool about Phelps - it hasn't gotten to his head. That's pretty amazing. I'm pretty sure it would have gotten to mine. I heard a great story on NPR today interviewing kids at a swimming pool about the Olympics and Phelps. It's fun to see kids want to emulate greatness.

Loved the gymnastics last night as well. I thought Nastia was the epitome of grace and beauty. I loved Shawn Johnson, too, but I thought Nastia deserved the gold. She managed to make it look beautiful, like she was floating, whereas Johnson was "muscling" her way through it, or something. It's hard to explain. But I loved Shawn's mid-west attitude and demeanor. Wahoo - way to go girls!

On a different note, Joseph made the JV soccer team and Joshua made the Varsity team at their high school! Another wahoo! I'm so proud of them. They've been in two-a-days all this week, and have really worked hard. I have worked hard this week too, trying to keep them fed on the tail-end of a month of next-to-no grocery shopping because of finances. That was tricky, but we made it through all right, although, sadly, they might contest that assessment! Oh well, they are still alive, and they made the team, so it's all good.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My position on same-sex marriage

I want to share this article, recently published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, about their position on same-sex marriage. It is my position as well.

I highly recommend reading this! I think it had to have been written by Elder Bruce Hafen. In his book Covenant Hearts, which I highly recommend, he talks extensively about the sacredness of the marriage covenant. (Click on the title - it's on sale right now at Deseret Book for only $4.99!)

The right of a child to be raised in a home with a father and mother is one of the arguments that needs to be at the forefront of the same-sex v. traditional marriage debate. Let us not slide into a society that puts individual adult rights before that of innocent children.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I'm just loving the Olympics! This is the one time of the every-other-year that I sit down and watch TV for hours on end. Watching Michael Phelps win all his races, including that incredible 400-free relay - holy cow - has been so exciting! And it was great to watch the men's gymnastics last night.

I have a new favorite quote - it's from the Texan Jonathan Horton, when it was apparent that the USA men's team would take the bronze in gymnastics. In one of those candid camera shots he looked at the camera and exulted, "We're goin' swimmin' in the river tonight!"

What a classic!

And my favorite commercials?

The AT&T "no bars" ones are hands-down the best, especially the "spending the weekend in the hostel with the Techno-Twins. Wohoo!", and the "nobody told us about the beaches in Spain" commercial.

Second place goes to the Chevy commercial with the gas pump playing mean tricks on everyone's cars, especially the one where it unhooks the boat. Very funny!

Birthday Boys

Within two weeks in late July and early August, our boys have birthdays back to back. Peter's actual birthday was at our Holmstead Family Reunion, so he had all of his cousins sing to him. After we got home we had a party at our house for Peter and his friends. They went swimming and had a fun time. He got his present, a new fishing pole, while we were on our pack trip. Happy Birthday! His baptism is planned for September 6th.

Joshua also had a big birthday - number 16! He had about 30 friends and cousins over for a party where they went swimming, played ping-pong and foos ball and played "The Name Game", where you try to get four males/females in the right chairs in the circle. The boys won (I know I'll hear about it if I don't make that clear). Joshua's Eagle Scout Court of Honor wil be held the first weekned in Septemeber, the same weekend that he baptizes Peter. Stay tuned for more details on that. Happy 16th Birthday Josh!

I'm so proud and happy to have these two wonderful sons.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Limo at the Bowling Alley

Josh's 1st date - continued...

So Bruce is at the Bowling Alley waiting for Josh and his friends, reading Eldest out on the grass. A guy walked by and said, "A limo at a bowling alley?" Bruce's reply was, "Yea - it's my son's first date." The guy got a grin on his face and said, "Now that's smart! Good way to chaperone. I gotta remember that."

Josh got some comments while they were bowling, too. It was good for some laughs.

What a good-lookin' chauffeur/chaperone, don't ya think?!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Josh goes on his first date!

Well, it's official. Josh is out on his first date as we speak. Hermano Carrillo in our Spanish Branch has a limo. I don't know how he got it, and it's pretty old, but it's a limo and it looks cool. So Josh asked him if he could use it for this date. Bruce dressed up for his role as official chauffeur. They went on a group date with two other couples, and they went bowling, of all things! There are some more pictures and a video on my Picasa Web Album. Can you tell this might be more of a big deal for Mom than Josh?! ha ha

This is fine now...

Jesse did Libby's hair this morning. I took one look and thought, "Oh my, if she's this cute now, what's she gonna be like in ten years. Yikes!" That's a little bit scary.
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Reunion with Bruce's side of the family2008

The Reunion this year was great! Every person in the family but one was there, so it was very memorable in that way. Grandma and Grandpa got each family their own condo at the Marriot's Summit Watch Resort, so we were in the lap of luxury. It was in sharp contrast to the week before where we were roughin' it big time on our llama pack trip. This condo was furnished beautifully. Interestingly, I was happy in both places.

Tuesday we got to go through the Open House of the Twin Falls Idaho Temple. Wow! It was a treat to be in the temple with our whole family. I really admired the use of natural light, especially in the Celestial Room.
We arrived in Park City Tuesday afternoon, and were able to have some down time to relax and enjoy the condo. Wednesday I took Jesse on her dream vacation activity - shopping. I did this out of pure love and duty, because shopping to me is about as much fun as pulling out a tooth. But, as it happened, this shopping trip turned out to be pretty fun. I told the kids they had to pay half of anything they bought, so that mitigated the consequences to my pocketbook. This was a girl's afternoon - I took Jesse, Mary and Libby with me. The best place, of course, was the bookstore that was tucked behind the Chocolate Factory. Yeah! Now that was my kind of shopping.

On Thursday, we went to This is the Place Monument and the Conference Center. On Friday we went to Seven Peaks Resort and then to Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian with Shawn & Janel and family. On Saturday, we went and did all these fun activities at the Park City Ski Resort. I rode the Lift all the way to the top and back. Going up was fun, but coming down, the view was fabulous!

Thank you to Shawn & Janel for planning a great reunion, and to Mom and Dad for the luxurious accommodations. Bruce's side of the family - we love you!

I have posted all the pictures we took on my Picasa Web Album:

Holmstead Family Reunion 2008

2008 Family Pack Trip - Day 4

And finally, Saturday morning finds us packing up to go home.Here is a muscle picture of Joseph that I can show you.I only found out the jugs were empty after I took the picture.

Peter and Libby found these bones on the first day. Peter was certain that we needed to pack them home with us ("the llamas can carry them!"). We settled on a picture. Bruce thought the bones were probably from an elk.And one last picture before we hike out:And that brings to an end our 2008 Family Pack Trip. It was fantastic!

2008 Family Pack Trip - Day 3 (part 2)

We were on Patrol Ridge, in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, and there was not a soul within miles of us.
Joseph started to roll rocks down the side of the mountain to see the effect. It didn't take long before Bruce joined in like he was 14 again. This happens frequently.
And there goes Jesse!
Look at Bruce's face. It's looks like he's saying, "Eeuw!", or however you spell that.

Nah, Jesse didn't really get "rolled" down the mountain, but from the way these pictures turned out in the camera, right in a row, it sure looked like it! If you look closely you can see the edge of her yellow shirt, but just barely! We laughed and laughed about how these two photos turned out.

Here is Peter hanging out on the edge of the cliff. Isn't that nice?
Libby, Mary, Josh and Peter:
Last year we turned around and went back after we reached this point, but this year I wanted to go further up to the peak you see behind Josh in this last picture. So we went further up the trail. What awaited us was worth the whole hike - at least for me. On the south side of the trail we came across fields of purple and orange wildflowers that made me so happy I wanted to swoon. It was incredible! You can see them to the left in this picture.
Now where Libby got this "model" pose, I'm not sure. See the pucker of the lips? Hmmm....

On the north side of the trail, we found this patch of snow still hanging on in mid-July.

At one point, Josh made a guess about where the peak was that we wanted, and we left the trail and went straight up the mountain. I felt like we were in Narnia, or the Boer mountains in Alagaesia; it was that magical. It was grassy, with those gorgeous purple and orange wildflowers dotting the hillside. I couldn't get my camera to capture it. The peak we got to at the top wasn't quite the one we were aiming for, but it was breathtaking nonetheless. The family picture at the heading of my blog is what we took at this point. I love that picture! It doesn't show Libby at her best, but the overall effect - well, I just love it.

And check out this pine tree! I'm not sure what kind of tree it was, but it had these berries on it that looked like the classic iconic Christmas tree. Anyone know?
This is a view of the mountain on the way down.
One of the startling images of this forest area was the stark differences between the burned landscape and the new growth. It gave one much food for thought.
We made it back down to the campsite without incident. We did take another "Muscle Picture" after much disagreement (OK - arguing) about what rock it was taken on last year. I can't post it though, because Joseph will not like me if I do. Don't get me wrong, his muscles look stunning, but... I can't explain any further!

Here's Mary back at the campsite looking pretty as can be.
And Jesse showing off her bracelet that she wove out of a leaf.
And finally, here is THE MAN, out on a float tube fishing that evening. I repeat,
here is THE MAN (and he's mine!!!):