Monday, December 19, 2016

orchestra concerts and piano recitals

After Thanksgiving we had a few more concerts (in addition to Emma's All-Region concerts before Thanksgiving). Emma had her orchestra concert, Tyler had HIS orchestra concert, then Emma had her choir concert. Lastly the kids had their piano recital. This was all squeezed into 12 days.

I love orchestra concerts because these kids get SO good so quickly! I also loved that they could do Christmas songs this year.

The cello is one of my favorite instruments to listen to, so I have high hopes for Tyler. :) He has already learned a lot and I am hoping to get him some private lessons next year so he can get ahead and maybe get into All Region.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thanksgiving in Paradise (Florida)

Last year was our first year going to the Gulf Coast for Thanksgiving, and we were SOLD. So it's our new tradition, and honestly the kids have looked forward to it all year. It doesn't hurt that we have cousins that go, and extra ones joined us this year, in addition to grandparents!

It's a 12 1/2 hour drive, so it really takes the whole day. Joe and Kathy stopped here on their way there, so we got them for a day beforehand. Spencer had just gotten in from Chile, and imagine our surprise when Spencer and his dad came out dressed like this.

Anyway, we drove ALL day Saturday and went to church Sunday. Sadie actually went to Sunbeams totally fine! And Spencer ran into a mission buddy (random!) who is stationed there in the Air Force. We hung out on the patio the rest of the afternoon and couldn't wait for the rest of the week to start.

Monday-Friday was awesome weather! Wednesday was a little overcast but it was still pretty warm. Melissa and kids arrived Monday afternoon (with Steve and Kate coming Thanksgiving morning), and we spent most of our days out on the sand, with an occasional trip up to the pool and hot tub. We realized at the end of the week, some of the kids went more than 3 days without putting shoes on one time!

Our 14th anniversary was on Tuesday.

Nana had an injured foot so we didn't see her as much as we would have liked, but we got to do dinners all together every night. Emma and Jacob picked up right where they left off, with Tyler and Luke sometimes joining in. Such a great time, and even better since it was 75 and sunny the whole week!

 The sunsets (and sunrises) were UNREAL.

 Thanksgiving day family pictures

 The fierce four.
 She wanted to try "surfboarding" for about 5 seconds.

 They shared a gingerbread house.

 (Tanner was with Nana and Grandpa on the "courtesy cart" - they saw Nana walking with crutches and picked them up to deliver them to the theater. :) )

 Really trying to think about what they want for Christmas.

Farewell sunrise.

Tanner also picked up quickly on the fact that all the men in his family love football (Grandpa included), so the minute Grandpa made his way to the beach, Tanner was all over him asking to throw. It was adorable to watch.

They also had a couple games in the water - great entertainment for the rest of us.

Can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Sadie the Lady turns 4

Sadie has been asking about her birthday since she turned 3, but especially in the last month. I've been looking forward to 4; 3 just isn't my favorite age. This little sassy pants, however, isn't going to outgrow those personality traits so I guess I'd better just hang on.

She woke up early, so I let her open a present and then told her we needed to wait until the boys got home to open her gifts from them. Well, when I got out of the shower I discovered she had taken all the presents into the other room and opened them all. So that was quite anti-climatic...

Even though she can make us all crazy with her mood swings and dictatorship, she adds so much more fun and feistiness into our family and I'm so grateful for her.

My favorite things about Sadie right now:
1. She draws people in. She might bull-face you or scream at you, but she is also very cute and sweet and strangers love talking to her (trust me, she doesn't feel the same way about them).
2. She is really funny. She gets sassy when I ask her something and says things like, "Why do you keep axe-ing me that like FIR-TEEN times!?"
3. She loves to be outside and be going all the time. Sometimes it's frustrating, but I'm glad she is up for adventure.
4. She loves her family. And they love her, but have to tolerate a lot. However, she thinks all her siblings walk on water (and they kind of do).

(Yes, she blew out her candles twice on her birthday. After saying, "Sing to me!")

All-Region all-star

Emma is talented. And she is incredibly competitive. She tried out for and made Advanced Women's Choir for this year, but because she was doing orchestra she couldn't do both. They did let her do Open Choir, however.

Here, we have All-Region clinics where you have to try out to be part of this exclusive group made up of junior high kids within about 2 1/2 hours. She decided to try out for choir, knowing they didn't take too many kids. Emma had to sit there most of the day (sometimes being at the end of the alphabet is LAME), then had her turn to sign (blind audition), then I picked her up and we came home. That night we got the text that she had made it! 23rd chair!

The following weekend was orchestra regional tryouts. We thought doing both would be too much, and it was the same day as her final volleyball game. But her orchestra teacher begged her to try out so we went for it. Emma was even less confident this time, because they only took 10 of each instrument. That night we got the email - 9th chair! We were so excited, I even tried to wake her up to tell her but she was OUT.

So, the following two weekends were both performances. Thankfully, choir was at Bentonville High School and orchestra was at Bentonville West High School (5 min away) - I'm so grateful we got this lucky. For choir she had to be there at 7:30 a.m. and the performance was at 4 pm. They practiced ALL day and even ate lunch at the school. We went to see her at 4 and it was seriously so good. They sounded incredible.

Then, last weekend was orchestra regional clinic. She had to leave school Friday at noon and stay there practicing until 9 pm, and then Saturday it went from 8 am until the performance at 2:00. They really did sound incredible; it was interesting to hear the conductor say that most people had been playing for 2-3 years. Emma has just been playing for 1. 

When it was over I asked if she had fun. She said "No. But I'm glad I did it." 

So proud that she is willing to work hard and sacrifice 4 weekends in a row for these really cool experiences. She knows these extra activities can help her get into college if she keeps it up. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

eight years

Eight! We lost Macie 8 years ago. That is such a significant number in our church, and maybe that's why it seems like we suddenly made a huge jump.

Spencer told me a month ago he had to be in Mexico City during her birthday - lame, as it's the first time he hasn't been here for her birthday - but ok, because I'm far enough removed that I knew I could handle it.

I dropped Sadie off at preschool and went shopping. But I really didn't want to be alone! I LOVE to be alone, and I get that now for several hours a week. I think the idea of being an introvert 15 years ago would have made me crazy/anxious but now I can embrace it. However, yesterday was also the first time I was alone on her birthday and it made me feel...weird. Luckily, I have such fantastic friends who texted me early (how do they know/remember??!) and stopped by with treats and hugs and chatting. It was such a huge blessing to me, and pretty soon I got to get Sadie. We stopped by Walmart to her 8 pink balloons. Side note: How do people fit more than 12-ish balloons in their car? I'm realizing I'm starting to run out of room...

Danielle brought all the cupcakes and frosting and sprinkles, so the kids decorated those. Then we went out and got some pictures and sent the balloons up. This time was awesome because there were so many and they went up pretty fast without getting stuck in the trees. We also painted a M on a pumpkin and, as a new tradition, added painted rocks with year numbers to the bottom of her tree.

I didn't even get to talk to Spencer until 10 pm last night. He had been so busy all day and hadn't gotten to think about it much, talk to me, or look on Instagram or Facebook. When he did, and saw all the love and caring from our friends and family, he told me he just broke down. I told him he's not allowed to be gone on this day anymore - it's something we need to do together.

So thankful for October 25th! (By the way, it makes me feel weird every time I see leaves start changing, and especially red-leaf trees. That is one of my strongest visual memories of her death.)