Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Last summer in Garden Valley the kids were exposed to the cartoon version of The Last Airbender.  They were instantly hooked, and I was instantly worried about them trying things like firebending on our camping trips.

As we headed into winter, airbending was mostly forgotten. 

Until we saw the movie.

If I thought they liked airbending before, it was nothing like the post-movie version, complete with meditation and all.  Adam and his cousin Mason were pretty dedicated to their craft, but nobody can bend quite like Alex (who, if I correctly recall, was technically waterbending).

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Alex has been into nicknames lately.  In fact, this morning Kirk said to Alex, "Hey, Al... do you remember the nickname you called me last night?"

Al's face lit up.  "Yep... Toby."

"Toby?" I questioned.

Kirk told me that last night Alex looked right at him and said, "Daddy, I'm going to call you Toby.  It's not your name.  But it's your nickname."

Well, Alex also recently coined a new nickname for Dylan, one which may replace Dyl-Pickle.

In honor of the new nickname, here are some pictures of our very own Arma"dyl"o.

I may have posted this one already.  This plate, covered in syrup, is hanging from his hair.

Our final trip to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum before our passes expired.

Suit up!

And a bonus pic of all my boys in suits.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Brother I Never Had

Yeah, I know... I really do have a brother. But with twelve years between us, (I got married the day before he got baptized) we don't have a ton of shared brother/sister experiences.  We share a lot of similar interests, and we've been friends our whole lives.  If I want an interesting discussion, a partner in creativity, or a game rival, I'll go straight to him.  But this post isn't about him. 

This one is about the brother I didn't have.  That brother who teased and picked on but quietly protected me.  Who called me names but was also the first one there if I needed him.  Who I had every reason to love and hate at the same time.

Who knew that when my sister married Skye, I'd be getting just that brother?

He doesn't call me Andrea.  In fact, I am listed as "Fatty" in his cell phone, and the ringtone he set for me is, "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead."  He has - on more than one occassion - tackled me and pinned me to the ground until I scream.  But he also ends phone conversations with, "I love you," and I know he means it.

I'm proud of him for working hard at his job in Boise and providing for his family.  But I hate that he lives there and not here.  It was so fun to see him during their brief visit in June.  Especially when I discovered that he'd let Michelle's friend paint his toenails, and they were the exact color mine were painted.

 Oh, and did I mention he can do backflips?  (But I apparently can't get a decent picture of one.  He tried 3 times, and all I got was "take-off" and "landing" pics.)

Skye and I were meant to be brother and sister.  Thanks, Michelle, for marrying him!

Friday, July 22, 2011

All Together

Growing up, I never thought much about how great it was to have all my family in one place.  But now that my sisters have both moved away, it's a rare treat I've learned to look forward to.  We see Lisa at least once a year, and we usually see Michelle a few times, but seeing them simultaneously is truly rare.

Brett and Lisa were here for 8 days in June, and Skye and Michelle managed to join us for about 36 hours of that time.  We had time for a bit of volleyball (but I was sick as a dog and didn't play, and Lisa had hurt her wrist).

Michelle, Mom, Kirk, Jack, (Chris - practically family), Dad, Brett, Skye

After the whole family sang in my ward on Sunday, everyone came over for our favorite family pasttime, games.  I think we laughed as hard as we played, and we were able to send Brett and Lisa back to the airport knowing we'd had some great time together.

At Leatherby's Celebrating Adam's Report Card


Trying to prove to Jack that the girls part was NOT easier... the girls are just better!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


When we made the decision to enroll Alex at "Shayla's Preschool" instead of "Jacque's Preschool," where we sent Adam, it was with the intention that he'd do his 3 year old preschool at the neighborhood school so we could save a bit of money and so I wouldn't have to drive 15 minutes for preschool.  Then we'd transfer him to the "big school" for his pre-K year.  There will be no transfer.  "Shayla's Preschool" has been everything I could ask for in a preschool, especially for a kid like Alex.  Shayla sings with them all the time, and Alex has come home knowing countless facts hidden in songs.  It doesn't hurt that he gets to go to preschool with his friends in Sunbeams, either.

Shayla held an advancement ceremony for the kids who will be entering the pre-K class next year, and it was fun to see the songs they'd learned.  I was such a proud mommy when Shayla sent home a note asking Alex to do 2 speaking parts, since she figured he'd be one of the most confident in front of a microphone.  I got too wrapped up in the program, though, and only videotaped one:

I can't believe how big my little Al is getting!

And I'm sure that in no time, his advancements will be an even bigger deal, like Uncle Jack, who just graduated from high school.

When our cousin, Brenda, asked Jack where he'd be going to college, he said, "The Rose Hulman Institute of Technology."  He explained that he'll be studying engineering at this particular school in Indiana.

She asked, "Oh, so is it pretty highly rated?"

Jack, not being one to toot his own horn, non-chalantly continued, "Yeah... on most lists it's rated... number one."

Thanks, Jack, for setting your goals high and for achieving them.  You are a great example to the three little boys who look up to you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Award for Best Film Goes to...

Back when I actually used to do stuff with my kids, we had a jar called the "Activity Jar" with prompts for things we could do together.  One such activity was to make a movie.

I had Adam start by drawing a storyboard, an activity he took much more seriously than I expected.  I explained that as the director, he'd be in charge of the costuming and everything, and he drew costumes and props right into his pictures.

Adam's movie was fun to shoot, and I was excited to move on to Alex's.  But my "excited Mommy" voice quickly turned to an "annoyed Mommy" voice when he wasn't using the camera correctly.  Once things really got rolling, though, we still had a pretty good time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Frozen in Time

The other day, I was talking to my mom about how Adam has always been partial to Kirk and Alex has always leaned more toward me, but that we didn't yet know if Dylan had a preference.  She smiled and said, "Well, Kirk can have Adam, and you can have Alex, and I'll just take Dylan."  Of course Grandma loves them all, but Dylan has always been more cuddly and has not yet joined team "Uncle Jack," so he makes his Grandma feel a little bit more special.

One Friday when I went out to work for my dad, Grandma was out front sitting on the swing and preparing her Sunday School lesson.  I went and sat Dylan beside her, and there he sat for nearly an hour, content to just... be.

I love a truly candid picture - one that the subjects had no idea was being taken.  And I love that the special bond between Grandma and Dylan is now frozen in time.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

One of Many

One of the many pies I have had my fingers in lately came to a close two weekends ago.  My stake put on a patriotic celebration we called "Freedoms," and I was lucky enough to be heavily involved.  In addition to singing with the stake adult choir, I got to direct the stake youth choir, and I had 10 awesome youth who allowed me to turn them into a show choir - risers, choreography, and all!  I spent my afternoons hanging out with them for an hour an a half each day for about 2 1/2 weeks, and I 'm telling you, their performance was awesome!

I've also been working with 4 amazingly talented young men, ranging from sophomores to seniors at Cyprus High this year.  I wrote them an arrangement of "From a Distance," and I didn't go easy on them.  The video below is (sadly) not their best run through, but many of moments of it are awesome.  It has been great to get to know some of the youth of our stake and see both their talents and dedication. 

Adam and Alex were in the show, too, as a part of the Primary Chorus (which thankfully, I didn't have to direct).  Alex did as Alex does and stole the show when he tried to put down his picture of the redwood forests and discovered (and announced... loudly) that it could fly.  And Adam actually sang.  And did all the actions.  And didn't look like he hated it.  Success all around.

But as with any show, the best part about it is that it is DONE!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Cool Girl

I remember well my 16th birthday party.  My best friend Emilee and I had birthdays 6 weeks apart, and so we chose to throw a joint bash 3 weeks after hers and 3 weeks before mine.  That landed us on a Friday night one week into our Junior year of high school.  We made all the plans and tried to get out invites but without Facebook or texting (I know, I'm old...) we had to do it the old fashioned way.  We made our plans, got food, decorated, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And no one came.  For hours.

It turns out that Emilee and I, oblivious to the importance of high school sports, scheduled our party at the same time as a football game, and all our friends had gone to the game instead.

Finally, after the game, people started to trickle over.  But no one had actually read the invitations, which said to bring swimming suits because it was a swimming party.

Eventually some of our friends just decided to swim in their clothes, and it turned out to be a really fun party.  But I was still scarred, and to this day, I am really nervous to throw a party.

But as I got a few weekends into the 5 week long run of Oklahoma! and started to become friends with my castmates, I got the idea to invite everybody over for pancakes and games one night after the show.  I was ridiculously nervous about asking them.  We were such an odd assortment of ages, me being older than almost everyone in the cast, and even though we got along great at the theatre, would we be able to extend that beyond? 

I got up the courage, and I sent out the FB invite (ah, technology, thank you!) and...

They came!

Backstage, I never had a shortage of friends for me to beat at games.  I especially loved our "Totally Insane Card Game" tournament.  See my name there with the winning score?

And a couple weekends later when I suggested playing at the park after the show, they came then, too. 

*Sidenote: Sorry to anyone in our neighborhood who may have been disturbed by the noise, and especially to whoever called the cops on us.  I was trying to keep them quiet, but Sasha just screams really loud!  It was pretty entertaining, though, when the cops asked us how old we all were, and I spoke up first, "Twenty-nine."  I assured the cops that I'd make sure everyone got home, and when they asked me where exactly home was, I told them I owned the house two doors down.

Even if I had to wait until I was 29, it was nice to feel like the cool girl.

Friday, July 15, 2011


People have been asking me lately how I am keeping up with everything.  The answer is simple.  I'm not.

Now, don't take any of this as complaining.  I am loving everything I am doing right now, and I chose to do it all at once.  But I am tired.  I am relying on a wonderful husband to cook and clean.  I do miss spending time with my family, relaxing in front of the tv at night, and sleeping.  And I am ridiculously behind on blogging. 

This has never happened to me before.

So now, because of my overload, I get to overload all of you as you try to keep up with the posts about to hit this here blog.  [I will write them all today, but they will post one a day for the next little while, because I am a bit OCD about not having more than one blog post per day.]

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Some Stories

Some stories just beg to be told.  And probably retold.  Possibly even included in a funeral eulogy.

This is one of those.

As in, "Remember that time when Dad hit Alex with a package of lit firecrackers?"

There we sat, three generations of aunts, cousins, grandkids, parents, enjoying lighthearted conversation, when the air seems to simultaneously explode with light, sound, and Alex crying.  Just as a firecracker explodes on my pinky toe, I realize that somehow, our circle has just been breached by lit fireworks, and look - immediately - in the direction of my father. 

He is running and apologizing and scooping up Alex before most of us even realize what is going on.  I still don't know exactly what happened other than he was "just intending to have it go off a little behind us to scare everyone," and that the fuse was "shorter than I expected," and "as soon as I threw it, I thought, '!'"

I figured all he needed was one of my all-too-often-used "Really, Dad?" looks, but my mom gave him more than that.  My cousin Brenda asked, "Judging by the way your mom reacted, it seems like things like this have happened before."  And I just shook my head and explained that sometimes the patriarch of our family doesn't think things all the way through, and yes, things like this have happened before.

Everyone was fine, and luckily it was Alex, who recoveres much quicker than Adam. 

The best part was that when I texted Lisa and Michelle, I got back to very different answers to my text.

Me: "So Dad just hit Alex with a package of firecrackers.  Wish you were here."

Michelle: "Ha ha... that sounds like fun.  Miss you guys."

Lisa: "Lit ones? Why?"

Thanks, Dad, for a memorable 4th!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Begging to be Discussed

As part of a commitment to read more "classic" literature (as in something somebody else said was of some sort of worth, as opposed to reading whatever cover catches my eye as I briskly walk through the library) I ended up with George Orwell's 1984 on my Sony eReader.  Since one of my favorite fictional topics is different governmental and societal structures, I was in philosophical heaven.  Normally, this would mean lots of introspection until I closed the back cover, and then I'd move on.
But with this book, I was instantly possessed by the desire to discuss it.  Not in "big idea" ways, but to pick apart key sentences and ask for other's opinions and interpretations.  To apply them to other factions of life.  To state my fascination and have someone disagree with me.

I bookmarked page after page, wanting to remember what I wanted to discuss.  I'm terrible with follow through, though, and I figured I'd soon forget all about it.  Two books later, and -- not so.

So I typed a list of my favorite passages and saved it for later reflection, and I figure that whenever a philosophical mood strikes me, I can choose one and have at it on my blog.  It's my blog, right?  And I always say I write it to write it, not necessarily to have it read.  So, self-indulgent as it may be, here goes:
"The book fascinated him, or more exactly it reassured him.  In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but that was part of the attraction.  It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order.  It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden.  The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already."

I just can't agree with this statement, no matter how hard I try to think of an example of a book I've read and loved that would support the theory.  The closest I can come is to say that the best books are those that support what you already believe.  Supporting this theory would be my dad or brother in law reading a Glenn Beck book, a hopeless romantic reading a happy-ending love story, a conspiracy theorist reading, well, 1984.  I suppose a Latter Day Saint reading The Work and the Glory or Jesus the Christ.

But I don't even really believe that.

To me, the best books are those that tell you what you are unlikely to have thought of on your own.  In this way, they give you a different perspective on an issue.  Quite likely, you will read them, process them, and become more convicted in the knowledge and beliefs you already had.  Or, in the case of books where philosophy is of no concern, you will have expanded your capacity of thought, making you more capable of a higher level of thinking in the future.

The best books make you think.