happy leap year day!

Picture circa London 1884
Happy Leap Year Day!

Some fun facts about Leap Years:

In older times in England, February 29 was ignored and had no legal status. This custom also migrated over to the United States during that time. You probably wouldn't want to close escrow on your house on a Leap Day back then.

This is even better: a Leap Year was the only time that society permitted a woman to ask a man for his hand in marriage. And if he declined a proposal in a Leap Year, he owed her a silk dress and a kiss on the cheek!

Leap Year Balls were all the rage in both England and America. They were given all throughout the Leap Year, and the women were the ones to ask the men to dance. They could even cut in on other women during dances, just as men are wont to do. To learn more about the picture above, check out this link to make sense of it all!

And finally, here's a link to a funny little story about Leap Year that appeared in the Washington Post today.

Enjoy your extra day!


blossoms in the orchard

blossoms detail

busy bee


Yesterday I stopped at this orchard in bloom after taking the kids to school to get some fun pictures. And the orchard smelled so good! I'm not sure what kind of stone fruit these blossoms will become, but it smelled heavenly. It was buzzing with bees as well, as you can see from the second picture!


pretty blossoms

When I took Julia's glasses in to get fixed, I couldn't help but capture theses lovely blooms on camera. I've always had a fondness for tree blossoms, and the tall, graceful orange iceland poppies always stand out in a crowd. I am loving spring right now-I feel that if I don't take my camera with me everywhere that I might miss something great!

little bitty gets glasses

A couple of weeks ago I took Julia in for her scheduled eye exam. She hadn't mentioned any vision problems to anyone, but it soon became obvious during her exam that she was having trouble seeing the smaller letters! Sure enough, Julia is following in her parents' and older brother's footsteps and is myopic just like them! I was about the same age as Julia when I started wearing glasses, so it shouldn't have been such a surprise. She was really excited about wearing glasses and picked out her favorite pair at the doctor's office. For the next few days, every time the phone rang she asked me if it was the eye doctor, telling her that her glasses were ready! I'm really glad that she is excited about wearing them. It sure makes my job as the mom that much easier. Now my biggest concern is that these glasses stay intact until our insurance pays for another pair: she's been wearing them for almost a week now and we've already had one repair made on them!


in the backyard

Some pictures I took on Saturday while goofing around with the camera in the backyard, in between rain showers.

star wars according to a 3 year old

This little girl is so cute! And she only saw the movie once!


what would you do for a klondike?

This weekend Owen and Bailey participated in the annual Klondike Derby with the Boy Scouts. It's all about the snow! They built a sled to mush their gear into camp [since it's all snowed in] and they spend all weekend in the snow. Brrrrrr. They had lots of fun, though, participating in all the activities and finishing up the day with a massive snowball fight. Even Owen, who never gets cold, said that sleeping in the snow was "a little cold." Almost makes me feel a wee bit guilty for having that nice, warm bed all to myself Friday night. Almost.


girl's night out

Last night was girl's night out!

Julia, Libby, and I headed over to catch the Hannah Montana concert movie. Here are the girls in their humungous 3D glasses. Yes, I wore them, too. And it was pretty darn cool!

valentine 4 u

I couldn't resist this one. Hope you have a happy Valentine's Day.

sugar sugar

My valentine bunny and See's Candy from Owen. Isn't that sweet? The bunny is from Build-a-Bear and was Libby's pick for me. Although it was Owen's idea to go there for my gift. I know! I'm pleasantly surprised as well. She's really soft and snuggly. Collin went with Owen to get it, and when it came time to name the bunny, he wanted to call her "Superman." The girl at the store cracked up over that! In the end, they decided to let me go in for the birth certificate myself so that I can name my own bunny. Maybe I'll go with "Supergirl."

Here are the kids having their Valentine's Day breakfast of chocolate and sugar. Why not? It's only once a year. Umm, except for Halloween, Easter, Christmas. . . OK, never mind. At least they don't have school today-they're off for this entire week.

happy valentine's day!


a morning in exile

I almost forgot about this experience last week until I was uploading digital photos to the computer and came across this picture and video. Let me explain:

Our story begins last week as I pull into the school parking lot to pick up the kids. A car that had been driving behind me followed me into the parking lot, where the occupants [good samaritans #1] informed me that one of my back tires was extremely flat. Fortunately a school bus driver [good samaritan #2] noticed me trying to pump it back up with a battery-operated gizmo I keep in the van and offered to pump it up for me in the school bus barn several yards away. Fortunately I was able to make it home just fine, but I knew where I would be the next morning: at the Costco tire center for a repair and an overdue tire rotation as well.

Collin and I dropped the van off and began our sojourn by wandering about town for the two-and-a-half hours that it would take for the job to be completed. We started off close to home by getting a bite at the Costco snack bar. Two hot dogs [sans buns], two drinks, and twenty minutes later, we decided to wander around the store for a bit. We found a new LeapFrog video for Collin's collection, but after 30 minutes or so, we were weary of perusing the warehouse. So, we buttoned up our coats and ventured across the enormous vacant field in front of Costco to check out the nearby shopping center. As we left I noticed our van still parked in the Tire Center Parking, the plastic yellow service hat perched woefully on the top. Hmmm. That doesn't bode well for us, I thought.

After picking our way through vast amounts of weeds, ruts, and other vacant field paraphernalia, we decided that some ice cream was in order. We headed straight for Coldstone Creamery, ordered our favorites, and settled in to kill some time together.

The above picture shows the contents of my bag by this point: my Costco work order, Collin's new video [it was either stash it in my purse or carry it around in some tuna fish box], a bow and arrow brought along by Collin to help pass the time away, Collin's partially eaten hot dog wrapped in foil, and my cell phone, which I checked constantly to make sure that Costco hadn't performed a miracle for me and called to tell me they had gotten the job done sooner than expected.

So, we hung out at Coldstone for awhile. Although Collin was being a real trooper, by this time, the poor little fella was getting pretty punchy! Watch the video to see him in action-he's pretty hilarious. He was having a good time being silly. We left a few minutes after taking this video to stroll around Michael's for a spell.

After meandering through Michael's, we headed back across the field to pick up the van. Mission accomplished! But, we weren't done with these tires yet. The next morning as Collin and I were getting into the van to run the errands that didn't get done the day before, I noticed that our troublesome tire was flat again. So, I flipped the air compressor on, filled it up, and headed straight for Costco for the second day in a row. This time the wait was only one hour, so we decided to stay in Costco the entire time. Neither of us had any desire to roam that day. We made our way to the DVD section, where we decided to just camp out on the floor in front of the flatscreen that was playing the BBC planet earth series. And there we stayed for the hour! Collin really loved seeing all the wildlife.

And I'm just glad our tire is fixed for good this time.


first sign of spring

Yesterday afternoon I was gazing out one of the windows that look out onto our front yard, commiserating over how ugly and destitute our yard was looking. Except for removing the leaves during the fall [and winter-it's Cali, after all], we have basically deserted all forms of yardwork except for the occaisonal sweep of the concrete. As I stood silent watch over the barren landscape, I tried to motivate myself into spending this Saturday getting our yard back into shape.

Then out of the corner of my eye I noticed something. Something purple. Purple! All at once I remembered the crocus bulbs I had planted near the granite rocks about four years ago, which continue to take me by surprise when they actually bloom each spring. The crocus were finally up! Even better than a groundhog, here in mild-weathered California it means that spring is definitely here.

I dashed out the front door, camera in hand, to capture the evidence that our bleak winter is nearly at an end. Goodbye cold, bland, grey winter skies! Hello sunshine, flowers, and azure skies all around! Of course that also means an eventual return to another blistering valley summer, but I'm not even going to think about that for very long. Spring has come!


why bother?

This morning Owen and I had a cleaning scheduled at our dentist. Although Collin had his cleaning done last month, he had the honor of accompanying us since he really has nowhere else to go! He came prepared with a backpack full of various cars and trucks to occupy himself, and as usual, was a very well-behaved little man.

Before we left the office, Collin was invited to choose something out of The Prize Basket for his stellar behavior. He chose the pictured paddle ball [with ball still attached at the time]. Within a few minutes of getting home, Collin informed me through the tears in his eyes that his ball had willfully detached itself from the string.

Of course I was prepared for the upset of having the toy fall apart, because they always do. But this time I started thinking. Why do companies even bother making stuff that can't even endure a few minutes of use? Has anyone ever had a paddle ball that lasted longer than ten minutes? I can tell you that none of my kids ever have! What is the point of making worthless cheap junk?

Don't get me wrong-I totally appreciate the fact that our dentist makes The Prize Basket available to our little ones to make a visit to the dentist more fun. It's just that it seems so useless to even produce stuff that promptly falls apart. Made in China? Most likely. Although the way things are going now, things coming from China are going to have to be more expensive just to bring them up to basic levels of quality control. Which probably will translate into less offerings at the dollar store and Oriental Trading Company. I love both of these places, by the way! It's not necessarily about how much you spend, it's about how you design and manufacture your product.

Anyway, I've had my fun. I've had my little rant and I'm over it now. It was fun feeling like Rush Limbaugh for a couple of minutes. I know in my heart that from the beginning of time, the concept of the paddle ball was probably never a sturdy one to begin with. It was a concept just waiting to get broken. Now I'm off to surreptitiously toss our paddle ball into the garbage before Collin sees it and remembers that it's broken!

boy scout merit badge fair

Here Owen instructs scouts for the Electricity Merit Badge as a merit badge counselor

Scouts hard at work on the Art Merit Badge

[Bailey is in the foreground while Grammie, our Art merit badge counselor, is busy in the back]

Last month our ward hosted a merit badge fair. We invited all the wards in our stake, plus two other nearby stakes as well. We also invited several BSA troops from around town to join in the fun. As Scout Committee Chair, I worked closely with the Christensens, our scoutmaster and his wife to plan, organize, and carry out this event, and we're happy to say that it went very well! We had over 60 boys attend and they were all very well-behaved and worked hard all day. We were even written up in the South Valley Bee, a newspaper in Fresno that covers things that happen down in this end of the valley. And the best thing about the article was that my mom was on the front page of the newspaper! In the photograph she is shown instructing one of the boys in Art from one of our wards. Click here to read the article, although sadly the cover photograph isn't included. Although I have copies of the newspaper article, our scanner is now defunct and so I am unable to include it here. If you want a copy let me know and I'll get one to you via snail mail!

It was a really good experience for our family. We all helped set up and clean up, Owen and I did a lot of the legwork beforehand [although our scoutmaster's wife Valerie certainly bore the brunt of it, I fear], and the whole family came to stay for that whole Saturday at the church. I had them camp out in the nursery and I used our walkie-talkies to communicate with Libby who was in charge. They snacked, watched DVD's, and played with the fun nursery toys, and quite frankly surprised me with how well they behaved from 7:30 am until after 5:00 pm. It was great having my mom volunteer as a merit badge counselor for Art and Pulp & Paper-everyone said she was so organized that they couldn't believe it! I spent time registering scouts, checking on classes, getting scouts from one class to the next, organizing lunch, and just whatever needed to be done. We're even thinking about doing one next year, although our scoutmaster wants to do it again in just 6 months! We'll have to see about that . . .


need a new nickname?

Sawyer has got you covered. Head over to ABC.com and get yourself a new one! All you have to do is answer a few little questions about yourself and voila! A new nickname, Sawyer-style. Just don't be too offended if you don't like it . . .


proud mama alert

Here's an update on some of the fun things the kids have been up to lately!

Last week, all of the 4th graders took a huge spelling test to find out who the best spellers are. The top two spellers win a trip to the spelling bee held at the end of this month to prepare them for entering the bee next year [they have to be in 5th grade to enter]. Libby was one of the top two and is going on the trip! They also go out to lunch afterwards, so she is thrilled at missing basically the whole day to have fun outside of school. The other top speller is also in Libby's class and is a friend of hers, as well as being LDS [although we're in different wards]. It will be a fun day for both of them!

In other news, this past Sunday was Bailey's first time playing the piano in Priesthood. He has been working on several hymns during the last few weeks and is really sounding good. He has played for opening exercises in Mutual a few times, but yesterday was his first time in Priesthood. He played [very fittingly, I thought] "We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet." We're already putting those piano lessons to work! A special thanks to Grammie, who is Bailey's piano teacher [and the girls' as well]!

And here is an amusing incident from today involving Collin. This morning I was watching BYU-TV to hear the announcement of the new First Presidency. Collin was playing nearby. The name "Thomas" was being mentioned repeatedly as Thomas S. Monson had been called as the new president of the church. Everytime he heard the name, Collin would perk up, because for him the name Thomas is all about Thomas the Tank Engine. He kept asking me if Thomas was on TV. I told him that Thomas S. Monson the prophet was on TV and showed him the picture from our conference Ensign. He looked at it and repeated the name "Thomas S. Monson" with me several times, then seemed content with this particular Thomas. Funny little guy.

Julia has a performance tomorrow night at the school for Founder's Day. This being our first ever Founder's Day, I'm still not sure what it's all about, but as she has been learning a patriotic song, it's sure to be patriotic! Will have to let you know how it goes!