Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!

This is one of the craziest days of the year and this year was no exception. Today was a "Common Start" day where all the elementary school kids go at the same time rather than as early birds and later gators. Ellie and Grif go at 9;15, but today they started at 8. I went to work in full costume knowing that I'd have to head straight from there to the school.

Ellie's class had their wax museum where she was Sybil Luddington, a 16-year-old who also rode the night Paul Revere made his famous "the British are coming" ride. She wore the dress I wore to Terri's wedding reception:

From there, it was on to throw Griffin's class party. Griffin was Captain Rex from the Clone Wars (although he calls him "Commander Rex").

While we were trick or treating, one of our neighbors got on Griffin's last nerve by calling him a different name every time he saw him: "Hey, there's R2!" "Hey, it's C3-PO!" "Wow, I can't believe it's Boba Fett." Griffin finally looked at him and said, "What are you, a hobo or an idiot!" To which he responded on our last encounter, "Hey, it's Lando Calrissian!" Griffin just shook his head and walked off.

I was Princess Leia. The kids asked me not to wear the wig that came with it because they said I looked freaky with the dark hair. So we compromised. The picture was taken at the end of the school day, so my bagels had slipped. When I got in the house, Wilbur ate my bagels.

After school let out, it was running off to see Mountain View football in the playoffs for a couple of hours, then home to go trick or treating. (They lost in the last minute.) With my "buns" missing, my hair had a nice "Farrah" flair to it.

Ellie was Elizabeth Swan from Pirates of the Carribean (she didn't even see the movie, but just liked the dress).

John was Darth Vader and decided that the reason Darth Vader was so cranky was because he was so stinkin' hot in his helmet! (We took this picture before the ward roller skating party on Tuesday. I didn't dare wear my spiky boots walking around the neighborhood.) We really had perfect weather to go out. It was in the upper 60s and overcast with a light 30-second sprinkle here and there.

Ellie and Griffin filled four mixing bowls with their haul, and we still have two baskets left with candy. There will be no lack of chocolate in this house. I finally had to eat a pear just to offset all the garbage I had eaten. My feet are sore and my blood sugar is probably sky high, but another successful Halloween is behind us.

GPS and Food Clubs

I told my GPS kids that if they found our cache hidden by Krispy Kreme and the Comfort Inn, I'd get each of them a doughnut. I think they found it in record time!

And my Fun with Foods class did more Halloween treats:

vampire fangs in strawberry blood

monster toes in ketchup blood (don't confuse the two!),

and popcorn hands.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Annual Primary Sacrament Meeting Program

Today was the Primary sacrament meeting program. As I'm sure you all know, this year's theme is "I Am A Child of God." Throughout the year, as the primary children gave talks in opening exercises, the presidency made note of certain talks. These children were selected to give their talks as part of the program. Griffin was selected as one of these and spoke on service. Now, when he gives a talk anywhere, he walks up to the microphone and clears his throat a half dozen times. John kept reminding him that he didn't need to do it. I saw Griffin clear his throat before he got up, then stood at the microphone and tapped it a couple of times. Here is his talk.

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." In May, my mom had surgery on her neck. I helped take care of her while her neck healed. I massaged her feet, helped her get things she couldn't, and would make sure she was okay. I felt really happy inside because it made her feel better. Heavenly Father was happy because I was doing something my mom couldn't do. Serving someone shows you love them and also that I love Jesus because I'm helping others. The more you help others, the more you love them. I love my mom because I helped her, and she loves me too because I helped her. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

As he got down, he started to walk the long way back to his seat, then came back, stood in front of the Bishop and extended his hand. The Bishop shook his hand and he returned to his seat.

Ellie did a great job on her part as well. She was able to memorize her part and presented it clearly and at just the right speed so that people could understand it without any difficulty. Memorization is a forte of hers and she did a great job.

Ian and Maggie participated with the other youth in singing "Latter-Day Prophets" with the primary kids.

In Sunday School, we talked about 3 Nephi 17-19 and how we are asked to be as little children. I immediately thought of Griffin who must have been thinking in his mind, "Oh, I should shake the Bishop's hand. That's the right thing to do." He did what he did because he believed it was right and what he should do. Growing up, I made a lot of choices based on "it's the right thing to do." I still do that. Saturday we had the opportunity to provide lunch for an Eagle project that was going much longer than expected. We did it because it was the right thing to do. We attend our meetings because it's the right thing to do. We say our prayers, read our scriptures, serve our fellow man because it's the right thing to do. If Griffin learns nothing else, maybe just knowing "Because it's the right thing to do . . . " is enough.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Little George Lucas

Before we went to Italy, we got a couple "Flip" cameras for the kids to use. They're really easy to shoot with and even easier to transfer to your computer because there is a built in USB connection. Griffin came running out of his room and said, "Mom, you've got to see this!" Here's the result of his imagination with his legos, CD player, and a Flip video camera.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How Sweet It Is

Ian had an orthodontist appointment today (to have his bottom retainer removed). I cannot tell you how wonderful it was for him to drive himself there and I didn't have to worry about it. (Okay, that's not entirely true. I had to drive from work to the high school to check him out--ugh--and then he got himself there, his next appointment scheduled, and back to school. I learned later that I can just call the school and excuse him.)

Now I can start coming up with errands for him to run!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cool School of the Week

Each week, our local Fox station chooses a high school for the "Cool School of the Week." This week it was Mountain View and the kids were ecstatic! All through the morning, "Big Budha" would spotlight different organizations within the school. Maggie had to be at the school by 5:45 a.m. so he could sing with the nuns from the upcoming musical "The Sound of Music." I spent Tuesday and Wednesday sewing costumes so they would be ready for the big day. You can see Maggie by clicking on the link below. She's right behind Budha in the introduction (the girl with glasses--it's funny how different all of them look without hair!) and then as the camera pans through the song. They were supposed to have choir robes, but the choir needed them, so they just wore their habits. Ian was in the group with the Bruin Crazies (the last spot of the day), but you can't see him. They were filmed introducing the sports guy saying "It's Rungie time!," but because Game 1 of the World Series ran long, they didn't use it. (Go Phillies!) We'll keep our eyes peeled, though, for it in the future.

Young Women in Excellence

Tonight was Young Women in Excellence. Maggie performed the monologue she used to audition for the Sound of Music. Here it is. She kind of rushed through it because she thought I only had 19 seconds to record it, but I had 19 minutes!

The theme was "Happily Ever After," so they were crowned princesses at the end of the program. Maggie was a princess because she's so talented and makes everyone around her laugh and is so easy to talk to. You go, girl!

Everyone Clear the Road!

There's a first for each family and this is the first for ours. Our first driver! And a kids car! John and I spent quite a while looking for the perfect car for the kids: something that was reasonably sized and priced, well, cheap! And here it is. A 1993 Toyota Corolla with 150,000 miles on it. Ian got to drive by himself for the first time this evening when he attended a concert at the local high school. The only stipulations for the car keys are: first, rooms must be clean; second, grades must be acceptable; and third, they have to pay for all gas and maintenance. So Ian spent the afternoon cleaning his room and used his $10 reward to put gas in the car. (He's lucky that it came 2/3 full!) Way to go, Ian, on getting your license. Now, go pick up the kids from school!


Since we didn't find our last two caches, I was a little nervous taking the 4-H group out again. It was about 50 degrees outside with 20-30 mph winds, so we had a wind chill in the low 40s. (I had a "Cruella-da-Ville" looking hairdo by the time we returned.) I knew we had a hike ahead of us since we had to make it to UVU and back (up a monster hill) in an hour. My group usually consists of 15 kids, but there were only six that showed up today, and they were all good, fast walkers. So we took off for UVU, about a mile away, and the Wolverine where the microcache was supposed to be located.

The hint had said that it was a microcache and that it was magnetic, so we looked all around the statue, with no luck. We came to the front and looked all around the words. Nothing. Then I started looking in the little tiny holes. Bingo!

It was so small! I couldn't believe that was really it, but we pulled it out, opened it, and found a teeny scroll of paper for a log.

They couldn't believe there could be a cache so small and that we actually found it. I'm so glad we did, because I think if we hadn't, I may not have had any students come back the next week. But our next one is right by Krispy Kreme and I told them if we found it, I'd buy them each a doughnut.

On our way back, we passed this lovely Halloween display. I think it's so clever!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ian Wins the $10!

As we were pulling out of Trafalga, I said to the kids, "I sure wish we could have used the other camera to take pictures tonight." Ian looked down on the floor of the van and said, "You mean with the red camera that's right here?" Boy, was Griffin mad! He really wanted that $10 for a "really good Lego toy." Ian said that he needed it more if he was going to have to start paying for gas. I don't care who found it, just that it has been found.

Here's the Wall-E cake from Griffin's birthday.

Griffin's Cat Walk Prize

We decided to take advantage of the lovely fall evening and use Griffin's prize to Trafalga for Family Home Evening. (Unfortunately, John had to work late and wasn't able to attend, but he's been so terribly sick that I'm sure he was looking forward to bed more than 18 holes of golf.) His prize package included two activities: a round of miniature golf on one of their three courses and either 50 pitches at the batting cages or five minutes on the slick track. Griffin chose the slick track and then the indoor golf course (glow in the dark!).

We all started on the yellow line and waited for him to count down so we could go. I figured being the only LICENSED driver (although Ian did pass his test last week--yippee!), Griffin and I would totally win.

Let me say right now, Ellie is not getting her license until she's at least 18. She lapped Griffin and I four times! Here she is coming up to pass Griffin and I and then passing Ian. She's a little speed demon! (I'm busting out laughing just typing this and remembering her little smile and laugh as she would pass us. I would be laughing every time she would speed by us and could hardly breathe by the time we finished my stomach was so sore from laughing.)

Ian passed us once.

Maggie wins the safe driving award, not passing anyone or running into anything. (For the record, I didn't pass anyone or hit anything either. The kids were under strict orders not to hit me since my surgeon would probably freak out if he knew what I was doing.)

The indoor golf course has been transformed to a glow in the dark, under the sea themed course. It's not conducive to taking pictures with your cell phone (no, no luck finding the camera, although I've offered a $10 reward for its' safe return), but we did our best.

Griffin's T-shirt

Bruce from Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo's Crush

I won the night, over par by 2. Giffin was 23 over, so we brought up the rear. Overall, it was a great night full of fun and family. I'm so glad we made it a family prize this year. It was worth it!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy Braces Off Day!

After five long years, Maggie's braces came off today. We just wanted to share the good news.

All together now (harness your inner Stevie Wonder):
"Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful? . . .
Isn't she pretty? Truly the angel's best."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Are You Kidding?

We woke up this morning to two inches of snow on the ground. It wasn't even close to the city of Roy where they got over a foot, but still, IT'S OCTOBER! A week ago the swamp cooler was running, and today, the furnace went on. And wouldn't you know, by this weekend it will be back in the 70s. Ah, fall in Utah. I can never get enough of those 50 and 60 degree days. It's always one extreme or the other.

Two Parties + Two Days = Too Much! (October 11)

I woke up at the crack of, well 8 a.m. to start working on Griffin's birthday cake. He wanted a Wall-E party, so I baked his cake the day before, then set aside the time this morning to decorate it. I have a great picture of it, but Griffin misplaced my camera, so I can't show it to you. That also meant that I didn't have a camera to take pictures of his party, so we had to rely on cell phone cameras and our Flip video camera. (The only problem with that was that the batteries were dying about 30 seconds after I started filming.) Because John came up with the idea of playing Wallyball at the local rec center for the Wall-E party, we invited a few more kids than we usually would. So instead of 4 kids, we invited 8 and then with Griffin and Ellie, that made 10. Maggie invited her friend, Anna. 12. John and I made 14. Happily for us, three of the kids weren't able to attend. That took the number down to 11. We left for the rec center around 2:20, and then were in the court by 2:30. (A side note here: the picture at the start of this is Griffin walking around saying, "Caps for Sale! 50 cents a cap!" This is from a well-known child's story and I thought it was so clever!)

This is the most important thing to remember when you are planning a party for a boy with Aspergers that doesn't like loud noises. DON'T TAKE HIM TO PLAY WALLYBALL!!! The court was so loud and echoed every scream that nine-year-old girls make. One of the other boys in attendance seemed to have the same reaction, but in an opposite side of the room. We tried to stuff their ears with toilet paper to muffle the sound, but they spent the majority of the time sitting in corners. The other kids seeemed to have fun as we decided to play with beach balls so it would lessen any potential injuries. Warning: Watch the video at your own risk. It will really pull at your heart strings.

After wallyball, we returned home for cake and presents.

The other little boy found a friend in Snowflake and Wilbur and was happy playing with them in and around the house. Griffin received an assortment of Wall-E toys and pillows, some candy, a Pokemon game, and $10 from Grandma Hopkins.

Unable to collapse due to a house that required upkeep and some work that needed done for John's company, I sat down for a few minutes before recording a couple of pages of prompts for Smart. Maybe someday you'll call a pharmacy and hear my voice!

Needless to say, I realized by mid-afternoon that two parties in two days is too much. I decided to reward myself for all my hard work by playing Guitar Hero for an hour before falling asleep. I figure I earned it.

Welcome to Italy! (October 10)

Every year or so, our ward has family dinners where a few people volunteer to host and then they are assigned other families to invite and help bring food. This year, we hosted and were given the names of five other families. After contacting them all, only one of them was going to be able to attend. I invited my friend, Carma, since she wasn't able to attend hers the night before because we were running the book fair. We decided to do an Italian dinner since it's a great excuse to have a fantastic meal with tons of calories and share it with friends. My day was scheduled in 15-minute increments with part of the morning being spent cleaning up the book fair, two hours at work, one hour to hit six different stores, an hour to count up all the money and finalize the book fair paperwork, two hours in the classrooms (one in each for Ellie and Griffin), and then back home to cook and clean. We enjoyed caprese, pasta bolognese, Italian sodas, a green salad, bread, and panna cotte. The Gray's brought their daughter, Naomi, and she was intrigued by the Ventian masks.
We asked questions from "Would You Rather?", Carma helped me clean up a bit and I collasped, exhausted, into bed by 10:00. I was so happy for Carma's help since the next day was to be spent prepping for Griffin's birthday party.

The Dreaded Semi-Annual Parent-Teacher Conference (October 8-9)

This week in October is always nuts with the book fair and parent-teacher conferences. On Wednesday, my schedule was bordering on insane (only to be outdone by Friday's schedule). I helped at the book fair in the morning and again a little later in the afternoon, ran home with the little ones around 3:45, took Griffin to scouts at 4 where they were going on a field trip to the fire station, stopped at home to make sure dinner was almost ready, left for the book fair at 5, waited for Ellie and John to come for hers at 5:40, then Griffin's at 6. John would take Griffin to swim lessons at 6:30, and Ian and Mags had mutual at 7.

Ellie's conference was great. It didn't start with, "Well, she's a great girl, but she talks all the time." It was, "She's trying so hard to not talk so much and I'm so proud of her." She's proud of her accomplishments and excited for the year ahead. She does have one of the absolute best teachers in the whole school who was also one of my assistant camp directors for the stake. If I had to fifth grade over again, she's the teacher I'd want to have.

Since Griffin's teacher was running behind, I took the time to speak with her off and on through the night. We've had problems with Griffin running away or hiding during school and it's reached a point where it's almost a daily occurrence. I came up with a plan where, each time he comes in from the afternoon recess (my two best friends are the recess monitors during lunch, so it's never a problem), he earns a punch on a punch card I designed and after he fills it (5 punches), he gets to play a board/video game with me. So far, so good, but I'm hoping it deters the behavior. Otherwise, he's hanging in there. I knew third grade was a huge jump from second. It involves a lot of writing, multiplcation and division. We'll just do the best we can!

Now it's just seeing if I can hold up through the rest of the week.

Griffin Turns 9! (October 7)

Griffin is 9 years old! We gave him a couple of his presents in the morning (a Star Wars Jedi game for his Leapster) and told him he'd get a couple more that evening. After choosing his birthday dinner (McDonalds, of course), he got to have his other present, a new light saber. Ian got one as well so they could do battle. His birthday party wasn't until Saturday, so it was a pretty low-key day.

We love you, Griffin, and are so lucky to have you are part of our family!

The Blockbuster Dance is Back! (October 6)

In 2006, Griffin and I went to our local Blockbuster maybe twice a month to rent movies. Each time, he would jump up on this cement block and do what we affectionately called "The Blockbuster Dance." It was short and sweet, but always ended with a deep bow and a "thank you, thank you." It was one of my favorite parts of the month.

With our schedules getting busier and Griffin spending all day in school, our trips to Blockbuster have been fewer and farther between. It's even more rare for him to be with me when I go. Last Monday, we asked if we could go again so he could get a couple movies (Speed Racer, Alvin and the Chipmunks) to watch. I reluctantly agreed, but we took off for Blockbuster. I was happy to see as we were leaving that he ran over to the cement block again to reprise his Blockbuster ance. This time, we got it on video. Enjoy!

What? Where is it? (September 30)

On the 30th, we went to find our next cache by Best Buy, about 1/4 mile away. Even though it was the end of September, it was still in the 90s! The best thing about my club, as I may have already mentioned, is that I have two boys who have already found most of the caches around the school. When we struggle to find something, they've typically already found it and can steer us in the right direction. The weekend before, Ellie and Griffin and I went to the coordinates, looked all around and found nothing. Thinking I was just not seeing it amongst the bushes or something, I figured my "wonder boys" would be able to show me where it was. Ellie talked to one of them during school and gave him the heads up that we couldn't find it. He assured her that he knew where it was and that he'd be able to find it during the club. So off we all went. We arrived at the spot, looked all around, and after pulling him aside to ask where it was, he pointed out that he couldn't find it either, that it wasn't there. So we had the opportunity to look everywhere, clean up trash, and talk about what to do if we couldn't find it! They pulled out their log books and marked "Didn't find." That was one disappointed bunch of kids.