Strings

I finished two piano lessons this afternoon for Maren and Robin. But the real music was being made on other instruments today.

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Nicole got this ukulele last year for her birthday. She has enjoyed playing since Quickwater and Sky Mountain ranch summers.

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Erik was teaching Camille some chords at lunch, and she picked up the guitar here and there this afternoon.

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Maren has an amazing musical memory and sense. She was learning how to pick a song on the ukulele that she has heard Erik play.

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We have a couple guitars and four ukuleles. Almost enough for a family band.  Hmmm. That makes me think.  Add the piano in, and that is enough for the seven of us.

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I caught Erik playing tonight. He is the only one that legitimately can play many songs and pick out melodies and tunes. But we are all dabbling and learning. Last summer, Brandon and I took a guitar class at the ranch, and we even learned enough to play a Taylor Swift song and a hymn or two. But my memory has been fading on the chords.  I need a refresher course. The kids retain more of that than I do.

One thing I love about music is collaborating and creating it together.  Stringed instruments can be shared in a circle facing each other. Duets on the piano are my favorite part of learning with the kids. Singing songs brings us together in a way that nothing else quite can.

Always someone reading a book….

I stayed in bed a good part of the day, but I do feel like maybe I have turned a corner on my sickness.  So rest makes a difference.

IMG_1154I have noticed that we enjoy reading around here. If I don’t know where Camille is, she is usually on her bed with a book. Today, she stayed home sick and was up on her bed quite a bit. This is one of the things she is reading right now.

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I have never read those books, but I want to some day. Maren has been loving The Little House on the Prairie series. She is reading this one right now.

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After she reads every night, she writes in a reading log for school. I found her later reading one of the American Girl books about Felicity, the doll she has. Robin, our book loving first grader, is reading everything she can, but tonight, she was reading a Rainbow Fairy book.

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Earlier she was reading the Book of Mormon reader after we did our family scripture reading.

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She loves to read!

Sure enough, Brandon was in his room reading before bed. Before Christmas all he wanted was a select group of books and clothes. He got a little more than just that, but he has been enjoying all the books he received, including The Mistborn series.

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There are a lot of authors out there with the first name of Brandon these days.

Not only does Nicole study French, but she saw this play in San Francisco a few months ago. And she also loved the movie. She is a definite lover of literature. It has been so fun to talk about the books she is reading, being an old English major and lover of books myself. Some of my favorites that she has read recently — To Kill A Mockingbird, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Help, Jane Eyre, and now Les Misérables. It is the long version; she is enjoying a good, long read.

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Erik gave me a few books for Christmas, one being this memoir called One Hundred Names for Love, about a man who is a writer and suffers a stroke including the center for language formation. Good writing so far.

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Erik is reading a book I gave him for Christmas that I can’t wait to get a chance to read.

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Reading on a slow day helps the time pass more enjoyably.  And I know it helps us think, create, escape, and learn.  There is nothing like a good book.  It is great to have a house full of books and readers.

Small Acts of Kindness

Robin just fell asleep.  Most nights one of us sits by her bed until she falls asleep.  She gets more sleep that way.  So we take the 10 or 15 extra minutes and sit with her.  Tonight she reached out and patted me on the head.  A small moment of kindness.  She wasn’t falling asleep quickly, so I reached out and put my hand on her forehead and told her I loved her. Her act of loving kindness helped me do the same for her.

Today was a sick day for Maren and me.  I stayed in bed late with a sore throat and head cold.  She woke up with the same and threw up a few times.  Erik was very kind to both of us.  He just took an extra few minutes away from work to make sure we were cared for. Over the course of the day he made both of these smoothies for me.IMG_1093I have been wanting to try both of them, got the special ingredients needed — flax seeds, ginger root, rice milk, frozen raspberries, spinach, parsley, etc. — and he took the time to actually make them for me and deliver them to me.  A special kindness on a day when I didn’t feel great.

When all the kids came home, they each seemed to need extra love and attention.  I think Brandon may be getting the cold we have.  He needed to use his calculator and was all spread out on the couch doing homework and asked if I would get it for him out of his backpack.  I really wasn’t feeling well, but I knew he wasn’t either.  So I got up and found it for him. Nicole needed a listening ear.  Erik was home to give it to her.  After trying to give her many solutions for her dilemmas, I started to try and listen more and just receive what she had to say.  She was kind to me and kept me company while I made dinner.  Camille always gives great hugs just when I need them.

Even though I didn’t have much to give, I somehow knew I needed some homemade chicken noodle soup.  That was my offering to the fragile crew we all were today.

IMG_1091Maren started to have some more energy and helped me get the table set.

IMG_1090The seven of us made it to the dinner table.  And the chicken soup and warm bread was just what the doctor ordered.  I usually make dinner with a crew of kids.  Then Erik cleans up.  I was listening to a podcast here about how kindness inspires kindness – 40 random acts of kindness someone did on her 40th birthday.  I was so tired, and my head was aching.  Erik was getting Robin ready for bed, and the dishes weren’t done.  I knew how tired Erik was after caring for all of us today and going to work on top of it all.  Maren was feeling a bit better, and so we went and put all the soup dishes away and wiped up the counters and scrubbed the pots and pans while listening to that inspiring podcast.

IMG_1092It is always more energizing to do the work together, and easy to help the one who has shown such love and service to you earlier in the day.

Kindness does inspire kindness.  Love begets love.  Service inspires service.  All those kindnesses help us connect and unite.  It was a sick day, but one filled with love and service and kindness all around.

Family Bike Ride

Sometimes we get it together enough on a Saturday to all go bike to a park and enjoy some time together.  Well, we got everyone out of bed somehow and biked to a park nearby.  Beautiful sunshine, but quite chilly out there.  IMG_1059

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IMG_1065Brandon, Camille, Maren, and Robin enjoyed swinging and jumping and laughing while Erik and I threw footballs, volleyballs, and frisbees to them.

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We went on a run around the park in honor of our friend’s 4.3 mile fun run that we didn’t make it to this morning.  We tried out an Indian run, with the person in the back of the line running up to the front, and then the next person running to the front, and on and on.  One lap was enough.  Probably a good third of a mile.  Some of us wanted to look up at the trees and contemplate, others walk alone and think.

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Erik played frisbee with the kids.  Robin climbed on the spider web.

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Joy in the sunshine and trees.  Probably the most meaningful part for me was coming back to the house and having a great heart to heart with Nicole.  I am glad we have stayed close through all the teenage years, and we can talk about the real things she is thinking about and dealing with as she finishes up high school this year.  Love these kids.  Good to get out in the sunshine on a cold morning.

 

 

 

Cookies on Friday

For Christmas I gave Camille, Maren and Robin a gift of cookies after school on Fridays. Today was the second Friday of the year, and so I baked them some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  Yum!

IMG_1043Robin was the first one home.  She was excited they were warm and had some milk to go with them.

IMG_1042Camille and Maren were also excited, although Camille had made a huge oatmeal cookie in her cooking class at school.  So she was appreciative, but shared hers with me today!

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This is a fun gift to us all, it turns out — cookies every Friday afternoon, warm from the oven.  A time to talk and share some sweetness.

I love to be organized, but hate to fill up my calendar.  But I have a feeling that having a set day of the week for this gift will make it much more likely to happen.  There is some truth to this statement: calendared events tend to happen.  I hope cookies after school on Friday becomes a weekly tradition! I am ready for the weekend.

 

 

Camille turns 12!

We had all our close-by cousins and Jammie and Grandpa and aunts and uncles over to celebrate Camille’s 12th birthday.  We are blessed to have so much family close by.  First we had a favorite dinner of the three younger girls — tortellini and garlic bread.   It was fun to move the dining room table into the living room.

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The living room has been empty for a while with only the piano and a few bookshelves. Tonight we had Camille’s birthday celebration in that room with the table and a myriad of chairs.

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A highlight of the night was after cake we had everyone share what they love about Camille.

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Many people mentioned her wonderful sense of humor and the way she has fun and connects with people of many different ages.

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I mentioned her thoughtfulness and hilarious ways.  It was fun to see her humbly hear the nice words from everyone and feel all the love in the room.

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Camille really wants a dog.  I think in her heart of hearts she was hoping we would come through with that gift tonight.  We didn’t, but she did enjoy the gifts and the love.  The kids spontaneously hug each other when they exchange gifts.  There was a lot of that on Christmas morning, and more tonight from Camille to everyone, at least twice around the circle for us all.

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Camille teaches me to be sympathetic and caring.  She teaches me to have fun and enjoy the spontaneous moments.  Camille cares for those around her and gives hugs and kisses. Camille is soft-spoken and kind.  I love Camille and feel honored to be her mother and to grow with her.  When Camille was born, there was so much love in the room, Erik and I were overwhelmed with joy to bursting.  I feel that way tonight.  Love you Camille!