Monday, October 29, 2007

The Travelogue Finale: Kauai

Hello everyone,

Yes, now that it has been two months, I can write the final chapter of our summer travels and write about our trip to Kauai. Yes, it was at the end of August, and yes it seems basically irrelevant now, but here it is....

Picking up where I left off, on Saturday, August 18th we drove home from the Rogers Family Reunion in California. We arrived home at 1:30 am, went to church on Sunday, then on Monday Dave flew to Kauai for his work conference. He spent the week going to seminars, doing projects, working on the terrace overlooking the pool and ocean, going to a luau, etc (I know, sounds like a rough week of work). I spent the week without him vainly trying to clean up the house, helping with an Enrichment cooking group activity, and generally trying to stay sane. On Friday, August 25th, I took the kids to stay with some friends and off I went to Hawaii. It was a long flight, but I pleasantly diverted myself until we arrived in the Honolulu airport. I had to change planes to catch my inter-island flight to Kauai. Even with my fabulous sense of direction and maps, the signs mapping out the different terminals and where the Wiki-Wiki Bus stops were that took you to the terminals were absolutely unintelligible. I did, however, eventually figure out where my Wiki-Wiki Bus stop was and caught my plane to Kauai. The flight to Kauai was short: you basically take off, they throw juice at you and you land. When we landed in Kauai at 5:30pm I was surprised to see that unlike the crowded and un-navigable Honolulu airport, the airport was a small one-story series of buildings surrounded by palm trees-- it was basically a series of waiting rooms, a few luggage conveyor belts and a small security checkpoint at the front-- as crowded as a snow-cone stand in December. I made my way down a short hall to get my luggage and saw a familiar face: Dave met me at the airport, so we picked up my luggage, got our rental car and were off. We drove to Lawai (a small town near Poipu and the south shore), checked into our bed and breakfast and then went to get pizza for dinner, after which I discovered that I was still on California time and ready to go to sleep..

After sleeping in until past 7:30 or 8:00 Saturday morning (yes, I was still on California time) we went off to the beach. We borrowed snorkel stuff from our bed and breakfast and went straight to Poipu Beach for my very first attempt at snorkeling. Dave jumped in and was successfully snorkeling immediately. I spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to walk over sand dotted with lava rocks with flippers on and waves hitting me before I got out the requisite 10 feet into the water. Then, while Dave splashed around, telling me how great it was, I spent 30 minutes attempting to snorkel and feeling like a complete failure. Every time I stuck my face under, I would try to start swimming only to have my mask fill with water immediately. I tried an infinite number of mask adjustments, repeatedly getting my eyes stung by the salt water, before finally trading masks with Dave. Only then did we realize that I was not a snorkel incompetent-- my mask was broken and THAT was why my mask kept filling up with water. We went and rented snorkel equipment for the rest of the week and the returned to Poipu for Snorkeling Take 2.

This time I got in the water, stuck my head in and immediately started swimming around. This wasn't so hard after all! We saw all kinds of tropical fish, right in calm waters about 15 feet from shore. When we finally got out, there was an endangered Hawaiian monk seal sitting right smack on the beach about 10 feet away from us (apparently he frequents that spot, because they had signs up warning not to touch him and little posts with rope to stake out his nap spot so people wouldn't bother him). After a great morning of snorkeling we went to lunch at Keoki's Paradise-- complete with grass hut booths and "hula pie." Then we drove to see a blow-hole (where a wave comes in and water blows up out of a rock-- this one even made a moaning sound when it blew) and browse a botanical garden before going snorkeling again. This time we went snorkeling at Lawai Beach-- on the South Shore right by the Beach House restauarant. This beach had much higher surf so after a challenging snorkel session we went home exhausted.

We were going to go to the Beach House Restaurant for dinner until we realized that we were both so tired from snorkeling that we would rather just veg. So, on the way home we went to store to pick up something for dinner and groceries for sunday. We considered having salad until we saw that a normal-sized bag of romaine was $7. Hmmm, maybe a salad doesn't sound so good after all. Luckily we eventually found some stuff for dinner and even some locally-grown lettuce that was a bit more affordable. I really wanted to get something Hawaiian-ish for a treat: what would be better than a box of Macadamia Nut Cookies!! We decided to pass on the Pepperidge Farms and try to go with something more local and authentic-- after all we were in Hawaii. I grabbed a box of cookies in the bakery, but upon further examination we found they were from Ogden, Utah. Hmmmm. Not as exotic as I had hoped. So I looked until I found a different brand of cookies in the bakery-- only this time they were from Tualatin, Oregon. That was a little bit too much. Fine, no treat. So we went home, made soup in the microwave, and vegged in front of the TV to relax our tired muscles until we went to sleep.

Sunday we woke up to... pouring rain (and the sound of roosters, of course--- they wander wild all over Kauai). We went to church in Kalaheo, came home for lunch, then drove to the west side of the island to see Waimea Canyon since it had cleared up a bit. The first lookout we made it to was spectacular: red rock cliffs dotted with waterfalls, the canyon half-filled with misty drifts of clouds. But then it started raining. Hard. The last two lookouts were a total whiteout. We could have had a busy K-Mart in front of us instead of one of the most gorgeous views of the Pacific, but we wouldn't have been able to tell. We took a picture anyway and went back to our inn (where it was sunny and clear, incidentally). We made a quasi-gourmet dinner (how 'bout that frozen lasagna and microwave vegetables!) and ate on our balcony overlooking lush forest. After dinner we drove to Poipu Beach and walked down the beach as the sun was setting and the moon rose (yes, it really is as romantic as it looks in movies). We then went to the Hyatt Resort and walked around, just to have a peek at how the other half REALLY visits Kauai (BTW, they have several swimming pools surrounded by a series of waterfall/stream pools and picturesque bridges, several amazing expensive restaurants-- including a restaurant underneath a thatched grass roof surrounded by water and tiki torches, and wooden swings in the immaculately manicured gardens where you can sit and contemplate the beauty of the white-sand beach in front of you).

On Monday, we checked out early and left for Waimea on the west side to check in for our boat tour of the Na Pali Coast (which you can only see by boat, helicopter or hike). For the first little while we cruised in the beautiful Hawaiian sunshine past fairly boring uninhabited pristine white-sand beaches and distant views of the forbidden island of Ni'ihau. Then we saw a sea turtle and ran across some spinner dolphins who swam closer and closer to our boat until they were literally right along side it. Finally we got to the Na Pali coast where we cruised past miles of surreal green thousand-foot cliffs. It was absolutely amazing-- we saw miles of gorgeous, jungle-covered cliffs; beautiful untouched waterfalls and beaches; and went into a sea cave (in our boat) to a spot that broke through to the sky with sheer rock cliffs on all sides. It was incredible! Then we snorkeled in a protected cove in the ocean, ate lunch and went back to Waimea. We made a stop to get shave ice with Macadamia Nut Ice Cream on the bottom and browse the souvenirs, before setting off for further adventures.

That afternoon, we went to Kipu Falls, making sure to drive through the tree tunnel near Koloa on our way. There's a small unmarked path off of a little road that takes you to the falls. You have an easy 5 minute hike through jungle and then you reach a 15-20 foot cliff and waterfall that feeds a beautiful green pool of water below. On one side there is a rope swing, where you can swing into the water (someone has attached a metal ladder to the side of the drop-off, making it easier to get back up to the top). So Dave took several swings off the rope swing and hurled himself off the waterfall cliff into the water (I actually caught this moment on film...). I really wanted to try the rope-swing, but finally decided that it was probably not the smartest thing to do when you are 6 months pregnant (Note: Baby- I hope you appreciate what I go through and forego for you!). So I just climbed down the ladder and swam in the pool beneath waterfall. Dave and I both took advantage of the chance to sit underneath a waterfall with it flowing over you (one of those things I've always wanted to do for some reason). Later that afternoon we drove to see Waimea Falls and Opaekaa Falls. We went for a quick snorkel at Lydgate Park, where they have a cove where you can snorkel protected from the waves by a barrier of huge rocks. There were tons of tropical fish-- at one point I was surrounded by a whole school of silver fish that all turned and looked at me. We finished the day by checking into the Marriott (hooray for corporate discounts!) and having dinner at Duke's Restaurant, eating fabulous fresh seafood while overlooking the ocean surrounded by tiki torches. Yes, it was a rough day.

On Tuesday we had a quick breakfast overlooking the Marriott pool (which is the largest pool in Hawaii-- a huge circle with a bridge over it and five different hot tubs sitting under roman-columned patios), we left for our Helicopter Tour of the island. This seemed like quite a splurge to me, but our guidebook said that going to Kauai and not going on a helicopter tour is like going to the Sistine Chapel and not looking up. So we temporarily ignored the budget and common sense and went on the tour anyway. It was amazing: we got to see Waimea Canyon, "Jurassic Park" falls, the cliffs of the Na Pali coast (from a completely different angle), and the crater beneath Mt. Waihale (the wettest spot on earth). The crater was my favorite part-- we were surrounded by sheer cliffs covered in green tropical foliage with thousand-foot waterfalls all around us on every side. Wow.

After our helicopter tour, we headed out to explore the North Shore. We assumed our typical battle positions: Dave driving our little rental car down the two-lane roads with me madly flipping through the guidebook trying to find and navigate us to our next adventure or eating spot. We stopped to get a hamburger for lunch from the highly recommended Duane's Ono-Char Burger, which turned out to be little more than a roadside shack-- and mmmm was it good... perfectly grilled burgers with pineapple and teriyaki and melted cheese. Yum. We stopped by a farmer's market and got lilikoi (passionfruit) and starfruit for 25 cents a piece (by far the best 25 cents ever spent-- fresh starfruit is so yummy). We also stopped at Tropical Taco (I couldn't make up my mind between it and the burger place, so we went to both) and had a fresh and filling fish burrito. Then we went to Tunnels Beach, the supposed mecca for snorkeling nirvana in the summer months. I have to say, it wasn't far from the truth. It was amazing snorkeling. We saw tropical fish, big fish, swam through beautiful canyons of coral and even saw two sea turtles. One of the sea turtles we swam with for about 5 minutes-- it was incredible. The beach itself wasn't bad either: beautiful white sand in the sun with jungle covered cliffs in the background.

After our snorkeling outing we made a trip to Queens Bath. You take a 10-minute easy walk through the jungle and on lava rocks along the coast until you come to a perfectly calm pool of salt water in between the rocks, with the occasional wave splashing over the rocks and trickling into the pool. We swam in the pool with tropical fish (of course) as we watched the waves crash on nearby rocks and the sun set. Then we had a late dinner of --what else-- incredible fresh fish at Coconuts.

Wednesday dawned, and alas, it was our last day in Kauai. After checking out of our hotel we got apple turnovers at a bakery for breakfast and then made a mad dash to the North Shore to try to snorkel at the famed Ke'e beach. Unfortunately, despite my mad navigational skills and Dave's death-defying driving techniques, there is no way to "dash" on slow two-lane roads that go across one-lane bridges until you reach the end of humanity. We did finally get to the beach (which is literally at the end of the road) , but the minimal nearby parking lot was completely full, so Dave dropped me off and parked the car. We ended up losing each other for about 20 minutes as I walked up and down the beach and then finally went back out to the edge of the parking lot just as Dave arrived at the beach from another direction and started walking up and down it himself. We finally found each other and had a grand 20 minutes left to explore one of the most famous snorkel spots on the island before we had to leave for our Kayak Tour of the Wailua River. Luckily we knew where to get lunch: at our favorite hamburger shack-- Duane's Ono-Char Burgers. We did actually (barely) make it to our Kayak Tour. We shared a kayak and rowed up the Wailua River, stopping for a swim at a swimming hole with a rope swing off a tree (which I had to forego-- again-- Did I mention that you, Mr. Baby, should be grateful at my great sacrifice?). We also went on a hike through the woods and to the "green room": a space that is entirely surrounded by walls of green (like a huge room made out of plants) before rowing back. We had dinner at Cafe Cocco, a cute health-foody/gourmet restaurant, with good food and cute ambience (Albeit a little less than I would expect for a place that was almost $20/plate-- we're talking plastic lawn furniture on gravel, outdoors with a little bit of mood lighting. Welcome to Kauai...). But, it did look like it would be fast enough for us to eat and still make our plane. We even took turns changing out of our swim clothes in the bathroom while we were awaiting our food (yes, it was that casual). Then we stopped by Wal-mart for another mad dash to get souvenirs and large pillows for the red-eye flight back to Portland. We took way too long and so were very stressed as we returned our car and raced to get to the airport with not even remotely enough time to spare..... except I had forgotten that this was Kauai. We raced into the airport, toting luggage and pillows in hand and there was one person in front of us at security, so we made it through and walked three doors down to our terminal in about 5 minutes.

So after our stop in Honolulu to change planes, we were on our way back to Portland, armed with huge Wal-Mart pillows for the trip. We spent the first few days back home lamenting the end of the trip and mourning its loss.... "I miss Kauai. I want to go back," as we comforted ourselves with Kauai Cookies and Dark Chocolate-Covered Macadamia Nuts. And thus was our trip and the end of our summer travel adventures.


P.S. As I wrote part of this (a few weeks ago....) Camryn came in with dress-ups on: a bright sequined turquoise-blue dance costume, a purple-sparkly fairy apron, purple and cream head bow, purple shoes with fur and roses and "Bull's Eye" (the horse from Toy Story 2) on over it all. Very creative.....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Singing In The Rain

Hello everyone,

As you can tell by the time in between updates, I have been spending plenty of time relaxing, getting my toenails painted and having regular massages. (I wish....) Wow, I can't believe that October is flying by so quickly. My cooking adventures have been limited to making treats for choir, where I have been exploring anything relatively easy that can be made with pumpkin (two-ingredient Pumpkin Muffins, Pumpkin Pie Dessert Squares, Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares, etc.) Maybe pumpkin is just my latest pregnancy craving of choice.

The week after General Conference was super-busy, but it was great to have Dave back from his travels. I accompanied a lady here in Sherwood who was getting ready for the District Metropolitan Opera Auditions and some other big auditions. She wanted to get the nerves out of her new arias by singing them in some prep recitals at old folks homes. So I had a really great, fun, paid opportunity to do some real accompanying again.... which would have been great except that she scheduled all three recitals in one week. So I had a week of scrambling to find babysitters on three different afternoons, trying to get into performance clothes and look respectable on a weekday, go and play on random pianos with varying levels of in-tune-ness (one of which had an interesting key-clicking percussion feature) and then get the kids and try to pick without missing a beat. Yes, an exciting week. But it was fun and the audience was appreciative. We just had little setbacks like trying to wait for the care center "drama club" to get out before we could begin or trying to get the staff to postpone setting the tables with utensils while we were performing.

During the rest of the week, we threw in a parent-teacher conference for Jared, 3 days off of school for Jared and a field trip to the pumpkin patch, during which I realized with increasing frustration that despite my efforts to be a self-sufficient woman, my body increasingly objects to any imposition, however small (like a pumpkin....). So yes, I'm to that point where I basically can't lift or do anything useful requiring effort... and it ticks me off. Why should a little thing like being pregnant have to interfere with my ability to comfortably tote my children's pumpkins to the car? On Saturday, Dave and I took advantage of a little bit of sun in the midst of our weeks of rain and wet to work in the yard. We had a unit of mulch delivered to our driveway. I set out to prove that I am not useless and still can work with the best of them.... so I weeded while Dave shoveled and wheelbarrowed mulch and then I spread it around with a rake.... and I completely overdid it and put myself flat on the LoveSac with a backache for several hours that evening. It seems that not even determined effort can overcome the physical effects of pregnancy (like being winded from squatting and standing up again) and I had better learn to accept it before I do something stupid and hurt myself beyond bringing on acute exhaustion.

On Sunday the 14th we had yet another Sunday of primary program run-through, and it went pretty well. Then we had choir that afternoon and it was great! Apparently a few people actually read my email about being disconsolate at a turnout of 5 adults the previous week-- we had one of our best turnouts ever! (Of course, most of these people weren't there the next rehearsal, but it was at least temporarily exciting).

On Tuesday, Jared started a Mad Science after-school class. I figured I could handle something where I only have to pick him up at the end (instead of having to drop him of too....). So far he loves it. Their last class was on gravity, so he made a yo-yo ball out of a punching balloon, salt and rubber bands to take home. Definitely cool. On Tuesday morning, I started a 3-session "voice class" enrichment group, to help people who want to be better singers learn the basics of vocal technique. It was really, really fun. A few of the ladies looked at me funny (like, "You're not actually serious that you want me to do that, are you?") at some of the vocalises and exercises, but I think everyone enjoyed it, had fun, and maybe even learned something. And who knows, maybe they will come and support choir with their newfound mad singing skills.

On Friday I went to volunteer in Jared's classroom while Camryn was at preschool. I helped with reading groups. It was actually really fun to see what they were doing. They split the kids up into groups and had them read (as a group and then taking turns) a book about plants and answer comprehension questions. The book was more challenging than I expected (a pleasant surprise) and it was fun to see Jared, although he was not one of the three groups I worked with. I was so proud to see Jared happily sitting in a corner doing free-time reading in a chapter book until I saw his selection: "Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy." So much for great classic literature...

Speaking of literature, Jared and Camryn are both still into book-making. They staple a bunch of pages together and start writing (usually forgetting to fill in most of the pages in the middle). Jared's latest creation is "Ubowt Stars" (with pictures of stars all around the title words). It goes like this: "Chapter 1. Stars r sporcklee and shinee. I also woch stars. There or menee kindes uv stors. By Jared [Translation: Stars are sparkly and shiny. I also watch stars. There are many kinds of stars.] Although he did write "Chapter 2" on the inside, he hasn't brought us the next exciting installment yet. He has, however taken care of copyright concerns. On the back it says,
"Made in 2007. Made in ingglish."

Camryn has made a book called, "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus," with lots of pictures. The title page has a unique brand of spelling, but is still somewhat recognizable: "IIM THRIMEN TO BE LIC JEZ.(no spaces in the original)" The next pages have three girls with a sun; a portrait of Moroni on top of the temple; two stars with "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" written in Camrynian all around them [HAW I WUDPR WUT YO R UP UBUV...-- with a much less decipherable spacing and some unconventional ordering of words]; and two other drawings.

On Friday night, we had a practice for the Primary Program and did our final run-through. So I spent yet another hour of jumping up and down, waving my song signs and trying vainly to get the Primary kids to look at me and sing instead of talking. We did a special musical number for "I Know that My Redeemer Lives." We were using a two-part SA arrangement and having the primary sing the first verse unison, a group of primary girls and their moms sing the second verse in parts and then for the 3rd verse having the primary kids sing the melody and the small group sing the harmony. This would have been great and wonderful and fabulous, except that we only had half of the moms for the rehearsal (none of whom sang the descant part) and the missing moms had their copies of the music with them so we only had 2-3 pieces of music for nine people. So we got through it, but not in a particularly glorious fashion.... Luckily, I have learned from having done this several times to not worry about inconsequential things like a train-wreck performance at the run-through (we had rehearsed it successfully at a previous date, so I at least had some hope). After only a minor amount of last minute changes, the run-through was done and the kids went off to watch a movie with popcorn.

On Sunday, the performance came around and it actually went well. The kids actually noticed when I held up the sign and signaled for them to stand up, they sang well (for the most part) and everybody actually showed up for the musical number, which went fine. We alsodid "Listen, Listen" with two sets of resonator bells and did a small group number of "Faith" with a flute. And it went well AND it's over! Jared and Camryn both said their parts ("This is called the great apostasy." and "I'm trying to be like Jesus by sharing my toys.") loudly and clearly. Jared didn't pick his nose the entire program and Camryn's only spontaneous contribution was improvising hand gestures to every song that she sang. Yes, an all-around successful performance. And I got to go to Relief Society when it was done for the first time since I've been released from Primary.

Going back to Saturday, Dave and I again attempted to get our yard ready for winter, despite dire forecasts of rain every single hour that day. At a point mid-morning when the rain let up, we set out with wheelbarrow, shovel and rakes to try to rid our driveway of the three-foot pile of mulch that had inhabited it for a week. Wisely, this time I limited myself to spreading the mulch and cleaning up the deck. Unfortunately, our back yard was soggy marshland from the previous week of rain, so it was difficult to get around in the yard without ruining the grass of getting ankle deep in mud. Yet we persevered. It started to rain a little bit, but we were undeterred. But then it started pouring. Dave went inside -like most normal people would. I, on the other hand, discovered that I actually have some of my dad in me. Why on earth would you go inside when you could keep working in the yard during a torrential downpour? (Although I guess I was gardening and cleaning up and not doing electrical wiring.) So I doggedly, determinedly stayed outside until all the mulch back there was spread and every piece of junk was cleared off of our deck. I was going to start chopping up some branches we had sitting in our side-yard to go in the yard recycle bin, but sanity did at last hit me again and I thought better of it and went inside. That night (after several successive unsuccessful attempts) we finally had a babysitter scheduled and went out on a date.

And so the weekend passed.... Monday dawned bright and.... sunny??? I took Camryn to preschool, ready to attack my dirty hand-dishes and scour my house. As soon as I came home -raring to go- from dropping her off, I... clonked on the LoveSac until 15 minutes before it was time to pick her up. And so our day got off to a vigorous start. I did eventually do my hand-dishes, before taking advantage of our temporary sun. Dave has been taking a class on "Managing Innovation" at work on Monday evenings this fall (I think they figured he might be bored so he'd want something to fill in some extra time). So a friend (who also has a husband who was working late) and I took our kids to the pumpkin patch and to the park, then had family home evening and got Quizno's for dinner. (Note: You would think that taking your kids out to dinner instead of cooking at home would be nice and relaxing, but we spent the first 15 minutes we were there trying to keep the kids from grabbing chips until we were sure they came with a kids meal, trying to get an order out of them while they were running around playing hopscotch on the colored tiles, and then trying to actually read and comprehend what was on the menu-- in between demands for chips or juice-- enough to order something ourselves. We did eventually overcome these obstacles and succeed in getting everyone food and having a fun time.)

And there we are. Hope you all are having a great week. Love,


Quotes of the Week:

(when we were going to Costco)
Jared: "Mom, I want to buy some cobweb decorations for Halloween. Let's get them at Costco."
Me: Jared, I'm pretty sure they don't have cobwebs at Costco." [we drive into Costco parking lot] Wow, the parking lot is full.
Jared: Maybe they do have cobwebs.
Jared: "That sign says, "Take home a fresh pizza."
Camryn: "Daddy, I like it when you go to work, but when you are at Singapore I miss you!"
Jared goes to Hopkins Elementary School. The "Hopkins Hawks" have three rules: Be Safe, Be Respectful, Be Responsible. One day Jared was THRILLED because he got a "Hawk High-5" for sitting still and listening during class. At home, he tried to tell me how exciting the was and what the three rules were about. Jared:"Mom, you have to be safe, respectful and responsible. Safe means that you don't run in the hallways so you don't knock anyone over. Respectful means that you aren't mean to people. Responsible means that you really want a "Hawk High-5."
Jared:"Dad, what's 'The Office'?"
Dad: "It's a show about work."
Jared: "Oh. I don't know anything about work." [I'll second that!]
Jared filled out a self-evaluation sheet for his parent-teacher conference:
Things I do well...." "writing, studying, sitting quietly" [...really?]
Things that are hard for me... "Not getting glue on my fingers. not scrieecing" [not screeching]
Goals: "Penguins, building"
Academic: "Science"
Social: "Bing nice"
Jared found a piece of paper for making shopping lists. It says "Things I Need" at the top. He filled it out, along with his name...

Shinee rocks [shiny rocks]
yumee stuf [Yummy stuff]
a drivres lisins [a drivers license]
MY own Mashis [My own matches]
A bosr [a bouncer]
Rele hockee [real hockey]

P.S. I have included scans of Camryn's picture of Moroni on the temple, Jared's "Things I Need" list, and the front page of Jared's star book.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Reply to "Rehearsals and Reversals"

“Uncle Nate” (Nathan Rogers) wrote:

Quotes of the Week:

Camryn: "Uncle Nate is my favorite uncle because he always has juice boxes."

-- Victory is mine!

Camryn: drew a sign that says: "CROCUDILZNRBIU" (Crocodiles nearby you).

-- Only 4 and already knows how to TXT MSG

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rehearsals and Reversals

Hello again,

Life has been forging onward in our household. We finished up the week of September 16th with yard work and all kinds of interesting stuff that I won't bore you with because I can't remember.... On Friday night, Dave and I decided to rent a movie. So we underwent a discussion/negotiation where he suggested a certain action/suspense movie and I suggested a certain "drama" (which Dave would call an "undramatic drama"). Dave decided to go with my movie, the "undramatic drama," which -ironically- Dave found to be very good and I fell asleep in. In fact, on any given night if we haven't gone to bed by a certain hour I will just go comatose on the LoveSac. On Saturday night, we rented Dave's movie-- I stayed awake this time but Dave and I both agreed that the movie wasn't so great.

On the 23rd, we had a typical relaxing Sunday: someone came over before church to rehearse a solo I was accompanying for. We went to church, I accompanied the solo, I helped with the run-through of the Primary program during the 2nd hour and then practiced songs with the Primary kids and two small group numbers during the third hour. We raced home from church, made treats for choir, fed the kids lunch, had choir at our house, had our home teachers over and collapsed in exhaustion at the end of it all. Maybe this explains why I'm usually not good for much on Mondays....

On Monday I met with a local voice teacher/opera singer who needs me to accompany her for some opera arias so she can do some "mini-recitals" at an old folks home to get her nerves out before auditions. We went over her music-- including a beastly-looking Ravel aria. It was kind of cool to be doing some real accompanying again, although now I actually have to be able to actually play something that's challenging.

On Tuesday, Dave and I both had come down with a fairly bad cold. Luckily I had the advantage of being able to stay home and be a bum. I canceled everything I had that day and finished the afternoon by watching "The Parent Trap" on the LoveSac with the kids. I guess there are some perks to staying at home. By Wednesday we were back into things. Jared had pajama day at school on Wednesday, then the long-awaited "Fun Run" on Thursday, and no school on Friday.

Dave had been preparing all week for his upcoming trip to Singapore by trying to "get on Singapore time" (translation: staying up until 3:00 or 4:00 am working and still going to work the next day). On Saturday the 29th, Dave left for Singapore. He was a little behind schedule, so the kids and I drove him to the airport so he wouldn't have to park his car. We left at 8:30am for the 45-60 minute drive to the airport for his 10:10 flight -- but first stopped at the bank. It was about 8:45 when we actually left Sherwood to try to make his international flight. But I have long since learned not to stress about petty little details like this. I just go along and see how things turn out. And it turned out that he did indeed make his flight.

The kids and I stopped at Great Harvest bread on the way home and then had a mostly quiet day of housecleaning. I attempted to get Jared and Camryn to clean their room several times, but to no avail. But there was a period of about 40 minutes while Jared and Camryn sat on the LoveSac and Jared read books to her. It was so sweet! Jared was quite impressive- he read "Ten Apples Up on Top," "Look Out, Kindergarten, Here I Come" (from the library), and "The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor" all by himself-- with no help at all. It's so cute-- and shocking-- when occasionally they do get along. =] On Saturday evening I went to the Relief Society broadcast and dinner while Jared and Camryn went to a friend's house to play. The meeting was good and it was nice to relax without kids. Jared saw a "Jimmy Neutron" movie at his friend's house and apparently found his new hero. All day at church the next day he was giving out self-made invitations to kids to join his new "Jimmy Neutron club" to meet on Saturdays at our house. He was set with a complete agenda down to the minute: they would play, have snack, and do what they wanted for x number of minutes each (and I'm assuming part of it would somehow be associated with "Jimmy Neutron").

Sunday was pretty much crazy. The choir was singing in church that day. I woke up at 8:30 to get the kids ready and work on choir stuff. I dragged all kinds of paraphernalia to church with me: resonator bells, choir folders, primary book and my folder with the primary program and musical number stuff. Of course it was raining and a bunch of the stuff fell out into a puddle when we got to church. We had a very brief rehearsal before church and then sang our musical number. It went really well, since we had a collective turnout of everybody who has ever shown up once to choir over the past three weeks. =] (Funny how that always seems to happen....). During the 2nd hour I helped run through the primary program in the chapel and I tried vainly to get the kids to actually pay attention when I signaled to them to stand up. During the 3rd hour we rehearsed songs, I practiced with a small group for the program, and then ran back in to go through "Listen, Listen" with bells and "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" with the a different accompaniment with the rest of primary. As soon as church got out, we had a rehearsal for a small group for the program for "I Know that my Redeemer Lives" (which several people forgot about, of course). Then I raced home to get the kids lunch and make treats for choir. It sounded like a great day to make my 2-ingredient pumpkin muffins, but then realized that I had opened a can of Pumpkin Pie Mix, not pumpkin, so I made pumpkin squares instead. Then I hurriedly attempted to find some activities for kids to do inside (since it had been raining for a week straight) before people started arriving.

It was a VERY sad and discouraging choir rehearsal-- only 7 people showed up and two of them were 12 and under. I did eventually get an accompanist about halfway through. We had two not-so-confident sopranos, one EXTREMELY quiet alto, 2 tenors (1 inaudible) and 2 basses (1 a loudly-not-quite-right-on-the-pitch fellow). So the end result is that we will NOT be performing at our next Sacrament Meeting with the amazing ward almost-octet.

So I cleaned up, made the kids grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner and sat and stewed about it the rest of the night. I know it really is partially my fault for being obsessive and having unrealistic expectations about choir in the first place, but it's really frustrating when I feel like I'm doing everything I can to make this work and to make the choir GOOD, but no matter how much I put in, you get the same mediocre result as every other ward choir on the planet. I guess I just hoped that providing babysitting, making treats and making rehearsals move quickly might actually make a difference-- that maybe I would have the chance to teach people to be better singers, to sing real music and to have a quality musical experience. I don't want to give up hope and just accept that ward choir is and always will be mediocre, but it's hard to know what else to do. I am ticked off at everyone for not coming when I'm putting so much work into it, but I know that is stupid because lots of people are doing their best and just overbooked already (But do they think I'm not??? What do they think I do all Sunday afternoon??? Do they think it's easy to clean up my house, make treats, have music ready and have a bunch of people over while I'm pregnant and my husband is out of town???). It's just hard to make any progress as a choir when you have basically an entirely different set of people each week-- you have to redo everything again at the next rehearsal. How am I supposed to schedule a performance when I have no idea if anyone will come to any given rehearsal? GRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

OK, there, I'm done with my rant. So I spent Sunday night writing a scathing email to send to my choir email list-- comparing our poor attendance to offering lame cows and wilted lettuce as tithing-- which I wisely did not actually send. Instead I wrote a much more tame email describing how difficult it was to have a rehearsal with nobody there and could we please really make an effort to come? Despite my attempts to be calm and conciliatory, I had to include my latest poem:

Ode to Choir

Last choir rehearsal was our smallest yet.
We were almost down to the ward quartet
While I know it's tough to get out for some
would it be too hard to actually come?


So I survived the weekend despite my choir trauma and I did get Jared on the bus on Monday and eventually got Cam to preschool. I had another rehearsal with the singer on Monday and she feels ready to go ahead and perform the pieces-- even the horrendous Ravel.

In my attempts to forget about choir during the new week, I decided to instead focus my efforts and frustration on my less-than-tidy house. Where to start? The stinky downstairs bathroom? The pile 'o' dishes in the kitchen? Or the algae buildup on our bathroom sink? Dave suggested a new business idea based on the impressive crew that cleaned out his plane during a stopover in Korea: -- guaranteed to clean up your house as fast as they clear out a plane or your money back. Yes, 10 minutes or less, that's what I need.

So I attacked the house with a vengeance. This was partially fueled by the fact that a friend that hadn't been to our house in almost a year was scheduled to come on Wednesday and she wanted to see all the painting that I have done upstairs. Which would be great except that would require her SEEING the upstairs. Apparently I do have some shreds of pride left, because the thought of her seeing the piles of papers and clothes to be sorted in our room, the scraps of paper and scotch tape covering the floor of the office (along with the masses of random papers to be filed) or wading through the knee-deep toys and junk in the kids room was more than I could handle. So attack I did-- I scrubbed all three bathrooms, vacuumed, dusted, surface-cleaned, got rid of two garbage bags of trash and DI stuff in the kids room, cleared out every pile or speck of paper in our room, removed from the hallway every toy obstructing the stairs and removed all traces of paper and scotch tape from the office. I did eventually get Jared and Camryn to help pick up their room-- using threats of never playing the Wii again. In fact, for all that I was not sold on buying the Wii in the first place, I am definitely getting my money's worth out of it. Jared comes home from school and immediately asks to play the Wii. My response is, "After your homework and piano practice are done." Suddenly he is HIGHLY motivated to do homework and piano and he shoots through them with minimal reminders or supervision.

So now our upstairs is totally presentable and respectable.... and it really doesn't feel like my house. It feels a little bit weird. I think maybe I kind of miss seeing the piles of stuff around. And to top it all off, my friend's daughter got sick so they didn't end up coming after all. So then, my house was cleaned, I was too sick of housework to do any further organization, and I really wasn't sure what to do with myself for the next few days. The other trips where Dave has been gone for a while have been fairly stressful, but this one has really just been boring and lonely (maybe I should have sympathized a bit more when he stayed home while I traveled for two weeks this summer). Not that I couldn't do something useful like organize the things that just got shoved into a closet, but I really have no desire or motivation left. So maybe I just need to wait for a mess to build up and then I can feel useful again?

Dave emailed me Thursday to let me know he'd made it from Singapore to Taiwan and during his one-day stopover there, there was an approaching typhoon. Yes! Would his plane take off? Would he be stranded during a tropical storm? More suspense and excitement!!! He did actually make it on his plane and leave Taiwan. Luckily, Dave made it out when he did-- Taiwan has since been hit with a tropical storm with giant waves, big power outages and four people killed. After a one-night stop in San Francisco at my parents', he flew to Salt Lake to be there for Conference this weekend.

So today, Jared and Camryn and I watched conference. We ate "Conference Rolls" (cinnamon butterscotch rolls) for breakfast and J and C did conference activity books. Their favorite thing was Conference Bingo, so every two seconds they were asking me, "Did they say a word that we can color in?" Camryn was surprised during the first congregational hymn ("Come, Come Ye Saints"): "This is like Woody and Buzz!" [Dave used to sing a bedtime song to Jared and Camryn called "Woody and Buzz" which he sang to the tune of "Come, Come Ye Saints": "Woody and Buzz, they a-are pretty good friends! Woody's a cowboy, Buzz is a space ranger..."]

They were very excited to see Grampa Bruce speak. Jared was particularly impressed: "Grampa Bruce is on TV?!!? How did they do that??" After his talk was finished and the next speaker got up, Camryn asked, "Is he Carter and Madisyn's daddy?" "No," I replied, "their daddy is Uncle Shawn." She answered, "Well, is Uncle Shawn going to give a talk too?" I'm not sure they quite got the whole thing, but they were excited nonetheless. After going stir-crazy this afternoon (Jared couldn't quite figure out why nobody came to his Jimmy Neutron club), we went to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner where Jared enjoyed the all-you-can-eat pizza, jello, ice cream and brownies. And thus our life goes.....

We hope you all are doing well. Love,


Quotes of the Week:

Camryn: "Uncle Nate is my favorite uncle because he always has juice boxes."

Camryn (during the dinner prayer): "Please bless that the machine in Singapore will work."

Camryn and I were looking at a picture of a baby inside a mommy's tummy) Me: "That's the tube that gives food to the baby from the mommy." Camryn: "I see the tube. But don't feed the baby coleslaw."

Jared: "Mommy, you need to cut Camryn's hair in 12 minutes or less so she can make it to the Jimmy Neutron club..... Mom, you only have 11 minutes left. ..... Mom, are you hurrying?!! There are only 10 minutes left!!"

Jared: (about his tinkertoy car): "Mom did you see my invention? I really like to try new inventions." (then later) "Camryn ruined my invention and it was my best invention ever."

Camryn: drew a sign that says: "CROCUDILZNRBIU" (Crocodiles nearby you).

Jared: "No mommy, that's not how you say 'I' in sign language. My teacher says it's this way and she's smarter than you." [Ouch! Um, excuse me?]