Friday, January 13, 2017

Snowy Days

I thought for a while that I had already done this post because I edited the pictures. But they never made it on here. So I'm officially getting some snow pictures on here.

Utah is funny when it comes to winter. You can count on it being cold, but you can't always count on snow. Some years it has been terribly dry, with only a couple days of snow. Other years it dumps on us like the sky is having a righteous pillow fight.

Most years are something in between.

This year we got our first snow in November. You can tell whether it was a good amount of snow by whether you see snowmen in people's yards. This must have been a great amount because there was a snowman on someone's roof. (Points for creativity.)

My girls went out and played in the snow. You have to get out in the first snow if you can. I didn't go out or take any pictures, but later the girls told me to check out their snow wall. Ivory (who was gone at gymnastics during the playtime) and I went out to see what we could see. First we found this snowman. (More points for creativity.)

He was built on a tabletop, but he sure looks happy to be there. Heading down to the sport court, I was greeted by this gentleman.

This guy was already better than any snowman I have ever built.

We found the snow wall and Ivory demonstrated how one might crouch behind and throw a snowball. (I wouldn't recommend the flip flops though.)

Coming back I spied one more little guy. He probably was the harbinger of the snowman hide-and-seek game in Idaho.

That snow melted, but we have had many other great snow days. (I really should take my kids sledding.) One snowfall was unbelievably treacherous. Cars were sliding out all over the place. I know this because I went to pick up Ivory from gymnastics and it took me an hour and a half to get there. I avoided the freeway in fear, but it turns out those were the best roads. Our return trip was much better (via freeway) and I was very grateful to get us both home in one piece.

We had a white Christmas, and even as the snow melts, the weather brings us another blanket of white. These are from the other day. I love how snow builds up on the trees.

I'm trying to be better about shoveling the driveway. Usually Tyler does it for me, but sometimes it decides to snow while he is at work. (How dare it?) Depending on the day, I sometimes have help.

Although I don't love snow for the danger and cold, I love it for the crisp whiteness and the soft hush when it is falling. It can be lovely indeed. Here are a few pictures of Pearl last winter that I never got on here either. Back then she was in Kindergarten, so she had time to play in the snow by herself while sisters slaved away at school.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book Review 2016

This year I updated my Goodreads account. That sparked my interest in reading and I went hog wild this year. HOG WILD! Between my three book clubs and the books I read in between, I ended up reading 58 books. That is 19 more than the 39 I read last year which was a personal record for me. I don't even know where I found the time to read so much. And I've had to rework this post, because I don't want to put pictures of 58 books. Instead, I will list my top ten favorites with pics to follow and then all the books I read for the year.

But first some fun statistics from Goodreads. (I really do love that site.) And a couple of my own.

Books: 58

Pages: 19,414

Shortest Book: Interference - 178 pages

Longest Book: Echo - 587 pages

Average Length: 335 pages

Most Popular: The Hobbit

Highest Rating on Goodreads: Cress

Most Read Month: February - 9 books

Least Read Month: November and December - 2 books (Darn those holidays)

Two Stars: The Royal We, The Sisters Brothers, The Neverending Story, Crimson Bound (I don't recommend any of these books.)

Fun huh? It is kind of cool to look back and realize how much time I have ignored my children and lived in another world. (I jest, but only slightly.)

Now for my top 10 eleven.

Seriously, this is hard.

I can't put these in order of liking, so I will just list them all, with pictures to follow.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown - If I had a favorite, it would probably be this one. I love historical narrative. This story was so amazing and well told that even though I knew how it ended, I was still biting my nails as they came to the finish line!

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - This was a story of the Lithuania people and the tragedies they suffered during WWII. I knew little of their story and was appalled at the cruelty while being awed by the endurance of people.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult - This is simply one of those books that makes you consider at the end. Would you have done the same? Set in modern times with flash backs to war times. Surprise ending which I sort of guessed.

Left to Tell by Ilibagiza Immaculee - I guess many of my picks are books that show the indomitable spirit of man (or woman in this case). This is the true story of a woman who lived in a closet for months as her people were killed around her. Inspiring and hard to read.

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer - This is another thinking book. A boy grows up only to find he is a clone. Is he his own person? Does he have his own soul? I loved the character development in this one.

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins - Before she wrote Hunger Games, she wrote this series. The whole thing was fantastic. I loved every book, although some more than others of course. The characters were great. I loved the world underneath ours. I especially loved the bats. Not the rats, although one rat was my favorite character. Highly recommend for kids as well.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan - This book was beautiful. Three war stories brought together with a single Harmonica. It was hard to leave one character's story to enter another, but I loved each narrative. Possibly my second favorite of the year.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova - This book was eye opening and frightening. It really gave you a clear picture of what Alzheimer's patients endure. It was frightening because when you start reading, you feel like you exhibit all the symptoms. At least I did with my swiss cheese memory.

Interference by Amelie Antoine - Shortest read, but so intriguing. It was like a mini soap opera with twists in it. Strange, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. (Maybe I shouldn't have.) This was a free book off my Kindle.

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski - This was a series June got me hooked on. I had to read all three to feel complete. They were highly dramatic in places, but the overall story was enticing and I totally called the ending. Loved them.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt - Had to make room for this last one. This is such a feel good book, with lovable characters and allusions to Shakespeare that keep you laughing and sighing all at once. I want to read this one again.

Phew. And now for the complete list. It was a great year of reading and I am already looking forward to lots of new books in my 3 groups. (We did lose Tim and Ivory in our family group, but both are rejoining in 2017. Woot!)

Go Set a WatchmanHarper Lee
The Adventures of a South Pole PigChris Kurtz
CressMarissa Meyer
Master Toni Sorenson
Spell for ChameleonPiers Anthony
The Vanishing Act of Esme LennoxMaggie O'Farrell
ScarletMarissa Meyer
A Gift of MagicLois Duncan
The Boys in the BoatDaniel James Brown
Daring Greatly Brene Brown
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost StoriesRoald Dahl
The Tale of Emily WindsnapLiz Kessler
The Time Travelers (Gideon the Cutpurse)Linda Buckley-Archer
The Winner's KissMarie Rutkoski
Auggie & MeR. J. Palacio
The Winner's CrimeMarie Rutkoski
Cinder Marissa Meyer
The Winner's CurseMarie Rutkoski
InterferenceAmelie Antoine
A Desperate FortuneSusanna Kearsley
The Bronze BowElizabeth George Speare
The Magician's NephewC.S. Lewis
Help! I'm a Classroom GamblerPete Johnson
Mrs. MikeBenedict Freedman
El DeafoCece Bell
The Royal WeHeather Cocks, Jessica Morgan
A World Without Heroes (Beyonders)Brandon Mull
Gregor and the Code of ClawSuzanne Collins
NogginJohn Corey Whaley
Numbers IgniteRebecca Rode
Gregor and the Marks of SecretSuzanne Collins
Masterminds: Criminal DestinyGordon Korman
Gregor and the Curse of the WarmbloodsSuzanne Collins
Still AliceLisa Genova
The Wednesday WarsGary Schmidt
Gregor and the Prophecy of BaneSuzanne Collins
EchoPam Munoz Ryan
The Girl on the TrainPaula Hawkins
Gregor the OverlanderSuzanne Collins
The Neverending StoryMichael Ende
The House of the ScorpionNancy Farmer
Renegade Magic Stephanie Burgis
The Sisters BrothersPatrick deWitt
AlienatedMelissa Landers
Left to TellImmaculee Ilibagiza
Be a Genie in Six Easy StepsLinda Chapman and Steve Cole
The BFGRoald Dahl
JackpotGordon Korman
The StorytellerJodi Picoult
Crimson BoundRosamund Hodge
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?Mindy Kaling
The HobbitJ.R.R.Tolkien
HideoutGordon Korman
Between Shades of GrayRuta Sepetys
Confessions of a Molly MormonElona K. Shelley
My Very Own FairyMegan Dargan
A Single ShardLinda Sue Park
Counting by 7sHolly Goldberg Sloan

December Flotsam and Jetsom

Christmas is well behind us and I've almost got the decorations put away. (Yes, it has been a slow year for that.) But there are still a few photos tucked away in the archives that bring back all the Christmas glory. Today, we'll get all that on the blog and be able to officially move into the New Year.

I'm so proud of the older girls. They have reached an age where they can have callings in the Young Women's organization. June was the Beehive President all summer and did such a great job. Robyn was her secretary. When June turned 14, she was moved up into the next age level, but it didn't take long for both the girls to have callings again. They were both called as secretaries for their presidencies. They are really good, organized girls. I like to think they got a little of that from their mother.

When we went in to visit with the Bishopric, we amused ourselves taking 'weirdies'. I won't torture you with all of them, but this one of my head on June's body makes me laugh, because the hair matches up enough to be believable.

I really love my tree in the front room. Last year some of the lights burned out. When I assembled it this year, I considered buying a new tree. However, upon hitting the stores, I came home with more lights instead of a new tree. (Ouch, pricey trees.) I got the whole tree looking good. And the next morning, the top section burned out. Oh well, I wasn't adjusting any more ornaments or lights. It was good enough.

These goody plates below are the only evidence that we went caroling this year. We even drove really far out to see our friends the Mason's. They gave us hot chocolate and cookies and still no pictures. But we had a great time and learned the harmony 'Peace Peace' that goes with 'Silent Night'. I thought we sounded really good. Next year...'Carol of the Bells'. The kids have been dying to learn it.

I ran into Robyn's sixth grade teacher at the store. If you recall, she stopped teaching early because she was having a baby. It was so great to see her, and her baby...adorable.

Lunches still happen around here. I did the kids' first initial in lights and Pearl wanted to take a picture. I let her, but we need to work on focus. (It takes some practice.)

Ivory continues to have the same projects that June had three years ago. It is fun to see the differences in how they complete them. I'm not sure I ever got a picture of June's bottle person. Ivory did such a great job on hers. She read a Historical Fiction book called The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had. She really enjoyed the story and made her bottle into Emma, one of the main characters.

Our ward Christmas Party was very nice, made even sweeter by the fact that I was not involved in planning it one iota. My neighbor did ask to use my oven for potatoes which led to an awkward situation in which she dropped off potatoes and I didn't cook them. I honestly did not know she wanted me to. But it worked out in the end, and there were more than plenty potatoes for everyone, with extra to spare. I took a selfie with the girls.

There was also a photo booth. We got a family picture but I don't know where it ended up. But I caught these hooligans after.

Tyler and I also went to the Scoresby's party, one of my favorite events of the year. We dressed in our 'ugly' sweaters, chugged egg nog in a contest, made a fabulous sausage dip, almost won the Oldy Wed Game (we didn't get any of round one's questions correct, but we came back to get every single one in round two. It was close) and scored the game SPEAK OUT in the white elephant exchange. (Watching Jonny play that was worth it all.)

Tyler's DHI Christmas card was Trumpendous! this year. Some people were offended, but I thought it was one of the best ones yet.

Tyler caught this photo in ID. It is quite funny mainly because Kolby would like nothing to do with the Pipster. I believe they put her on him because he was sleeping.

Speaking of canines, our resident Moxy decided to leave me a late Christmas present. I don't think I appreciated it the way she wanted me to. (On the tree skirt too? Really Moxy?)

We got a puzzle done in the nick of time. We didn't start it until after Christmas, so I thought a New Year's one would be fitting. And when I say 'we', I mean me and June. We didn't give anyone else much of a chance. I think Robyn did part of the torch and the moon, but June and I finished off the rest in a day.

June got a trim right before the new year. In hindsight, we were doing something wrong because moments after this photo was taken, June almost passed out. I was evening her hair in front and she suddenly lost all color and slumped over. Even her vision blacked out momentarily. I have no idea what happened and she was okay a minute or so later. We kept her lying down most of the morning, and in the evening, she was right as rain.

Finally, we had mini Martinelli's on hand for the new year, so we took them outside and sabered them. The girls did their own. They loved it and everyone did a great job. Mark was over, so he did one too, and we even got Matt Warner, next door, to pop a top off a bottle. (He was a natural as well.)

And so 2016 slips into the past. Another folder closed in my photography file. It has been a good year for us. I'm already excited to see what 2017 has in store.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Blaster Car Madness

I'm sure you have all heard of a Pinewood Derby, and many of you have probably been involved with one in some way or another. Maybe you have made your own car? Perhaps you helped a boy make his? Maybe you just attended to watch the action and see the cars race across the finish line? I have been to one. This is not surprising from the lack of males in my family (extended and otherwise). No brothers to go watch, no sons to coach. Tyler has been to his fair share naturally, and the one I attended was hosted by Tyler when he was the Cub Master.

He is currently the Scout Master which means his boys are older and more mature. Well...older at least. They are ready for bigger and better cars. Let's introduce the BLASTCAR. It's Pinewood Derby with rockets! You still get a block of wood to fashion into a car, but there is a hole in the back to insert a CO2 cartridge. There is a device (which must be bought) that will puncture the small canisters simultaneously, releasing the pressurized gas and propelling (or blasting!) the cars forward. Pretty nifty huh?

Let's back up to crazy day. Poor Tyler. He had a Blast Car activity to get ready and his entire day was interspersed with concerts. (Yes, we are back in December.) He would be at an event and then immediately gone again to wherever Scout Masters go to buy supplies or cry themselves into a corner. After Robyn's second concert of the evening (both of which Tyler attended) I was taking kids home and Tyler texted and asked if I would like to come watch. Yes please. It was already a bit late, so I dropped off kids who needed to hit the hay or do more homework. I ended up with Daisy and Ivory as my dates to this activity. Ivory even stepped in as my temp photographer. (She still needs a little training.)

The boys begin with a pretty good sized block to whittle down. Here are some of the finished products. I'm impressed.

Here are two cars ready to go. Tyler pulls the handle and they go shooting forward. This is the fun part. There is a bit of setup each time two cars compete, so it isn't very fast, but the end result is worth it.

Oh yes, my photographersbombers. Kelsie, Lily, and Ives.

Where was I, you ask? I was playing Vanna and building a bracket and keeping it in order. I'm sure one of the men could have done it, but this isn't my first bracket considering all the Crack Offs I've done. (I still couldn't design one myself. Thank goodness for

Our winner was Mac. His car aced all the others. You could tell from the beginning he was going to win. Maybe it was because his car was much lighter? He was so happy to get the really weird trophy the Young Men Leader's made.

I'm sure this won't be the last Blaster Car competition we go to. Good job Tyler. You got it all put together and all the boys had a fantastic time. You the man!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

What I Would Do If I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus [sic]

While enjoying the revelry of Christmas (a day late), I happened upon this poem, authored by none other than my daughter, Ivory. Because it was not only impressive, but also hilarious, I share it with you all.

What I would do if I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus
by Ivory Cazier, 2016

I would sit by the stairs.
I'd watch them all night,
and I would go, "BOO!"
to give them a fright.

I'd let them be happy
and jolly and merry,
and watch mommy touch Santa's nose
the one like a cherry.

I'd let them keep kissing
because who knew?
I want elves for brothers
and sisters too.

'Cause if they got married,
there'd be a whole lot.
And I'd be their sister,
if I'm her daughter, why not?

The song isn't right, No! No!
No one would just watch.
They'd be making wishes.

And wishes are powerful,
especially when Santa's your dad.
Man, I'd be so glad

to see my mommy kissing Santa Claus!
Who-Hoo!All right!
I'd let them kiss,
all through the night!

I'd let them be happy,
dad wouldn't know!
besides, I want a daddy
who has a beard, white as snow.

Mommy'd be happy,
I would be too!
But daddy still wouldn't
have a clue!

No! I love my daddy
all just the same!
He's good at games,
he's full of family and fame!
He's the best dad that
into the world, ever came!

I love you dad!