Monday, August 18, 2014

DAY 11- Gymnastics, Soccer, and thoughts on Over Scheduling

It is that time of year again...with the start of school comes all the extra-curricular activities.  I am trying to really weigh out what works best for our family, and what is best for each individual child.  This past year each child was able to participate in a few different things and I felt like we were not as over-scheduled as we have been in the past.  Each year, it changes and I really want to be deliberate in what I "sign up" for.  Sometimes, you sign up ahead of time for this and that and before you know it, an entire season is spent in the car and all other family activities come to a halt.  

As I was deciding what we want to participate in this year I went back and read one of my all-time favorite General Conference Talks, "Good, Better, Best" given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.  

"Team Sports and tech toys like video games and the Internet are already winning away the time of our children and youth...some young men and women are skipping church youth activities or cutting family time to participate in soccer leagues or pursue various entertainments."  

"The amount of children-and-parent time absorbed in the good activities of private lessons, team sports, and other school and club activities also needs to be carefully regulated.  Otherwise children will be over scheduled and parents will be frazzled and frustrated."  

 Family experts have warned against what they call “the overscheduling of children.” In the last generation children are far busier and families spend far less time together. Among many measures of this disturbing trend are the reports that structured sports time has doubled, but children’s free time has declined by 12 hours per week, and unstructured outdoor activities have fallen by 50 percent.2

The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.”3 Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs.4 There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you.
I really want to make sure we are getting all the basic MOST IMPORTANT things prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and spending time together having fun.  These are the things that I know will bring long term success and happiness.  

Then I have to consider the talents and needs of each child.  During different seasons, "cutting back" has meant different things.  Now that we don't have a newborn, I feel more free to run here and there. Some kids are just not interested in structured sports as much as others and I feel like that is okay.  I think our culture pushes that they "must" do these activities.  However, I often think they get more exercise, use their imaginations more, and learn how to interact with others more by running around outside after school.  

The other side of the coin I was discussing just the other day with my sister-in-law.  You want the child to have a set of skills, talents, things that make them feel confident and like they can participate with other children.  It is a good feeling to know that they have mastered a goal or worked hard to learn various skills.  Sports can keep many kids out of trouble and a sense of purpose during a challenging time of life.  And then there is the whole college thing.  Kids are REQUIRED these days to be well-rounded and participate in various activities.  

So, while I decide what I will choose to devote our time and money to this next is a little recap of some of our Spring Activities we did last year.  

Our High School Cheerleaders put on a clinic for young girls on Saturday.  They learned a cheer and a dance routine and I think Annie had a lot of fun. 

The year before last, I signed up Annie for dance and she enjoyed it, but didn't LOVE it- so we didn't sign up again.  Then a friend told us about her gymnastics class and Annie really wanted to give it a try.  She LOVED it.  

They did an end-of-the-year Gynmastics Meet and Annie was able to show off some of the routines they had learned this year.  She even brought home a few ribbons! 

This girl now pretty much does cartwheels instead of walking.  It has been fun to see her find something she really enjoys!  

It was a dream having Michael and Luke on the same Soccer Team again.  It makes it so easy for our practice and game schedule!  Both boys have really improved and had a great season. 

Michael givin' it his all...

Luke going for  a steal...

Coach Rick...



Luke played some awesome defense our last game...

Michael has gotten really aggressive and always gets right in to get that ball...



And one final one of Luke...

After years of putting music on the back burner...with just a few lessons here and there, we are making time for it this Fall!  I have always wanted the boys to learn to play the bag pipes...and I finally found someone that teaches it!  We might just have a Scottish Bag Pipe Band on our hands in a few years.  I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

DAY 10 My Niece Abigail

Wow, Day 10, only 90 to go.  :)

My niece Abigail is pretty amazing.  One thing that she is not, is frilly, fancy, fussy, or any of that!  I would say she leans on the side of being a bit more of a tomboy.  She has never been overly into her appearance. She isn't into clothes and makeup.  She and Joshua have always bonded over games, movies, skiing, anything the boys did Abigail!  Well, this Spring (at the very last minute) one of her friends talked her into doing the Jr Miss Pageant.  Abbie is super talented and smart, and really pretty even though she doesn't focus on why not give it a shot?  It would be a good experience and she could maybe earn a little scholarship money at the same time.

I am SOOOO bummed we didn't get pictures of her up close at the beginning. She looked A-mazing. Her hair was gorgeous, we were like WOWZERS when we saw her come out on stage.  Not that she doesn't always look cute, but since she usually doesn't do her hair and make up to that extent, we were all blown away.  I am talking super model here!  And I only have these crappy, grainy pictures taken from a distance to prove it!  (There she is in the middle...)

In the front row on the left...SOOOO sad I didn't get better pictures.  But you can still see her cuteness...

Abigail has been playing the violin since she was a whee girl.  She is not just some girl that learned a fancy song on the violin or the piano for Jr Miss.  She is REALLY good.  Like, really good.  And she looked so cute up there with her skinny legs and cowboy boots playing her music.  Speaking of music...the people running the pageant screwed her music up so she could not hear when to start and it kind of threw her off for a minute.  But still she was amazing and her talent was way more difficult and a MUCH more technical piece than the girl that won the talent part...THE INJUSTICE!  

We were seriously bummed she didn't win more.  (Except for the Physical Fitness Section, fine, I will concede maybe she didn't win that.  She really isn't too much of a dancer...but how does being a dancer show that you are physically fit?  It doesn't. She is in GREAT shape, she just ran a half- marathon.  But somehow doing cheesy cheerleading moves is supposed to demonstrate Physical Fitness.  I will concede that ONE area.)  

Overall, she was amazing. I am not not just the biased Aunt.  She KICKED BUTT in the "question and answer" part.  Do you remember this pageant answer?  Well, I am telling you, they had a few of those that night. Not Abigail, she answered clearly and confidently, and most important INTELLIGENTLY.  I think she won that section.  

I am sure her interview was awesome.  

Let's just say, there was one devastated aunt at the end of the Pageant when she didn't win.  But, don't worry, I carried on. I am fine.  Abigail is fine.  If I was rich, I would have given her my own scholarship called the, "You should have Won in my Humble Opinion Scholarship."

She had a few little fans that also thought she was the bomb!    

Some didn't quite last to the end of the show. 
(Aunt Melissa and Eliza)

Abigail comes out to great her waiting fans...

I have NEVER seen her with very much make up at this is like a different girl with her stage make up.  But isn't she the cutest?  And also, she should get extra points just if the judges knew how OUT OF THE BOX this was for this little Tom Boy. 

Joshua, James and Annie came to cheer her on, can you tell Annie had been skiing all day? 

Abigail with one of her closest friends, who also happened to win the whole Pageant.  She was really great.  Watch out world for these two ladies...


A few weeks later Abigail went to Prom (also kind of last minute).  When I heard, I zoomed over to her house with my make up bag to pretend I was a make up artist to the stars.  We had fun giggling and putting on make up.  As usual, not much to add since she is young and beautiful already.  

We had a good time embarrassing her when her date arrived.  

Remember when you were little and people that went to Prom were SOOO grown up?  The people on Pretty in Pink equaled fully grown adults to me.  What???  These guys seem like babies now.  I guess I am truly getting "old".  

 And finally, as long as I am bragging all about Abigail...this Summer she wrote on Essay for the Freedom Festival and WON!  It was about Abigail Adams, fittingly.  Here she is practicing her reading of it on the 4th of July.  She would read it later that night at the Freedom Festival.  

All of us taking it in at our 4th of July BBQ.  

Chloe did Abigail's hair all fancy for the Festival.  Joshua said it looked "pioneerish" but he don't know nothin' about girls hair styles.  (PS If you are thinking she was blonde before, you would be right.  After school got out she died it darker.)  Chloe is also pretty amazing I must say, and she rocks it when it comes to hair and make up! When she is a REAL stylist to the stars, we will be begging for her help!  

This is the look Abigail might give me for all this "attention" on my infamous blog about her.  

(Don't worry Abigail, your family and a couple others are the only readers!  But I needed to preserve these awesome memories of you for our posterity.)

This is a picture of a TRUE awesome memory I made with Abigail this Spring.  We had some serious fun in this powder over Spring Break.  

Thanks for the fun times, Abigail!  We love you lots and are grateful for the example you set as the oldest cousin!  

DAY 9 August Days...

August brought home this camper....

He had been at Scout Camp all week and they had a great time.  They hiked and camped at the base of the Tetons.  The week ended on a great note as they won the Camp's Spirit Stick.  Ryan was able to spend the week up there too and I think everyone had fun.  

Last Wednesday, we all welcomed my brother's family to Idaho from Oklahoma!  I had remembered that when we first moved to Idaho we were greeted with an awesome sign.  We wanted to recreate that for these guys!  

Hi, Michael!  

Not sure what what happening here...
"Uncle Michael, Look at my teeth!"

It was a grand reunion!  

Dad took Annie and Sophie to get a new bike one Saturday.  Annie wanted a bike for her birthday, so now that it was August, we decided we better go get one! (This was from an instagram post about how much more fun girls are to get ready for church than boys.)

Here she comes!  

It is her favorite bike ever, Hello Kitty! 

One morning last week, some friends showed up at the door with a load of everything Barbie you could imagine.  What an awesome surprise! 

The next morning, we had another surprise at our door.  I heard Annie yell from outside, "Mom, there are horses in our yard!"

They didn't like the sprinklers so much. 

One day it's Barbies, the next day horses....not a bad week! 

We have had some crazy beautiful sunsets.  

We have also had some crazy lazy mornings. 

We ended the week with a dinner at Grandma's and it was fun to have the "new" family here for the occasion.  I think it makes us miss having the Garza's even more though since they are the only ones gone. :(  We spent a chunk of the evening recapping our Bear Lake Adventures for Michael and Carly, catching them up on cousin dynamics, and sharing our favorite quotes of the summer, "You a braaaaaat."  (Inside joke for the Garzas)  

My favorite time of the day...the Rosy Hour.  

This duo of cousins is an extra squishy combo.  He is so cute!  

A Perfect Summer Evening...

May the last few weeks of August drag very slowly as we soak up Summer's final rays of sunshine, the sound of crickets at night, trips to the pool, snow cones, movie nights, and long days without strict schedules.  
(And my we not be bothered by the endless snacking in the kitchen, the messier house, and kids 24/7 late into the into the night and early in the morning.)