Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tiny Dancer

Lyndsay started taking dance lessons when she was just barely 4 years old. We were living in Show Low, Arizona, and for a small town we had a marvelous dance studio owned by a very accomplished dancer known to the kids as Miss Bev. Lyndsay took two or three classes each year, which had us at the studio many times each week (with brothers in tow), and at the end of each year we had the beloved recitals in the high school auditorium.

It was a lot of work and a lot of money, but even more fun. Lyndsay loved to dance. She was terrific at tap and jazz and even Highland Sword dancing, but ballet was her favorite. We were able to give her lessons for six years until I moved to Utah after my divorce.

She always wanted to get back into ballet, even through high school. I wanted to give that to her, but we just couldn't swing it. The cost, the driving, the scheduling. Life was just too busy and budgets too tight. I felt badly about it. I knew she wanted it (not that she really had the time either, actually) and I knew she was good at it, but it just never happened.

So, you can imagine how my heart melted when Lyndsay, who is taking a ballet class at BYU (yay!), sent me these screen shots from her video recorded ballet exam last week.

Oh my goodness, there is my ballerina girl. All grown up, so elegant, so feminine, so classically beautiful. And she is dancing.

It's been challenging for her, but she remembers so much, and her muscles remember, and she loves it. She has a ballerina body and mind, so well suited to the graceful movements and fierce discipline. I am so grateful that she is dancing again and exploring that other love. It's a nice break from her hefty load of science and math courses.

I look at these pictures she sent me almost every day and just love her so much. Sometimes I feel such a weight of guilt, thinking of where she could have been in her skills if I had had more to give her. I know I did my best, but I wish my best had been more. But then the other night, I dug out her old dance portraits and felt this overwhelming gratitude that I had at least been able to give her what I did. She might not have known that not only did she love ballet, but was good at it, if she had not had those 6 years of instruction. And six years is no small feat. As much as we have always struggled financially, I am so, so grateful that we were able to give her that gift during those years, and that her dad supported her interest. It was a taste, and I'm grateful that she can explore it a little more now at college.

I will never forget her first recital, in her teal green sequined tutu and pink tights, all baggy at the knees. They danced to a song called, "When I Grow Up" and it was the sweetest thing to see my tiny dancer up there on that big stage, her face completely lit up.

Now she is grown up. And I'm so grateful that she can still dance.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

On Saturday

I don't know about 'special', but Saturday is a busy day, for sure! And this weekend was my last weekend before I become a working mom, which means things will only get busier. I'm really praying for the stamina I will need! 

Before the football game, I took my meal plan and grocery list to the store to do the weekly shopping. 

I got home in time to find Aiden in a panic that I might be late, which would make him late, but hey, kid, I got it covered. Carry in the groceries and calm down.

Then we headed over to the park for practice first (I read more of Outliers on my Kindle and Conor played on the playground equipment while Aiden was with his team.)

Then they played an awesome game. They ended up losing (and Aiden may have broken his hand when it got stomped on by a teammate, we're not sure yet), but it was action-packed and Aiden plays his heart out! It is so thrilling to watch him. He had some glorious plays, and as always, had a lot of fun.

After the game, we picked up his friend Nick and headed up to the orchard where the boys work. They were so hot and tired (and injured), but bless their hearts, they got right to work.

I headed home, folded a load of towels, threw my bedding into the dryer, and took Conor out to the pumpkin lot/petting zoo. I love to go up to the big farm in October, but I just couldn't do it without Aiden. He would have wanted to be there. But I had seen a parking lot not far away that was fenced in and advertised pumpkins and a petting zoo, so that was a quick fix for Conor.

Just like my own kids when Mom's got a treat!

After the petting part, Conor got to choose one pumpkin. I like that they are the smaller pumpkins because those are good for cooking. I figured it could be an afternoon craft project for him now and pumpkin pie for us all later.

Back at home, I gave him some permanent markers and he set to work. Meanwhile I put the sheets back on my bed, and started baking.

I made some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies to stock up the freezer for snacks and sweet tooth attacks when Mom's not home yet from work, or too tired to bake.

Ground up flour for the week.

And made some whole grain blueberry muffins for breakfast on Monday, plus some for the freezer. It's going to take a bit of practice to get us back into this routine and to feed us all well. I do not want to slip into the "grab something quick" (takeout) mode. That's really important to me, but it definitely will require planning and follow-through.

Once Conor was in bed, I sat down at the sewing machine to finish up his Halloween costume. It wasn't difficult, just time consuming, especially the boots. I ran out of thread just before making the belt  buckle decoration, so I'll have to do that later in the week, but it's mostly complete and we're both happy with it.

I finished up around 10pm. I read a little of 'Salem's Lot, my feature scary story for this season, and talked to Aiden a bit (who got home from work around 9:30 because he went out to dinner with his friend's family after they picked the boys up) before going to bed around midnight.

I am very mindful that my life is about to change forever tomorrow morning when I start my new job. Even though I've always earned money in some capacity, it's been in my home and I've pretty much been my own boss with a few exceptions. Now I join the ranks of Working Mothers Who Work Outside the Home. It's certainly not my ideal, but at the same time I am so grateful to be able to have the opportunity to learn and work at something that I love and have such personal interest in. I'm so grateful that it's at a hospital I love and that it's close to home. I'm grateful that I've earned the education that allows me this opportunity, and I feel inside that even though things are about to change, most of those changes will be positive ones for me, for those I'm able to work with, and even for my family.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


So, remember Aiden's summer job, working on a friend's ranch and in his persimmon orchard? Well, the persimmons are ripe and it's time to get down to serious business processing all that fruit. So, in between school, football, and the beginning stages of an Eagle project, Aiden is working every extra available hour up in the orchard. I don't know much about persimmons, so I hung around to talk and watch and take pictures last weekend.

The orchard came about as an investment project. The owner did a lot of research about fruit orchards and persimmons in particular stood out as having the highest potential for profit. He has over sixty acres on his property and he used some of that, on the hillside to plant 475 persimmon trees. He said they would normally sell for about $75 each, but that particular year, Home Depot cancelled their entire order of them, and through some inside information he found out about it and bought them all for about $7-$10 per tree.

Aiden spent the summer hiking up the mountain with buckets of water and horse manure. He sprayed the trees with deer repellent. Now they are heavy with fruit so he is helping with the harvesting and processing. It takes eight years for persimmon trees to begin fruiting and this is the first year of production. This will be a "trial run" and most of the fruit will be given away. Beginning next year, however, the fruit will be sold, and for a pretty penny too. Persimmons (these will be dried and boxed up) sell for between $35-$40 PER POUND. Yah. Pretty crazy, huh? My friend has corporate clients and overseas clients who are interested in them. I turn up my nose at grapes when they're $2.99/lb. Can you even imagine paying $40/pound for persimmons? Thus, the investment opportunity!

Aiden had just cleaned up for his lunch break when I got there, but I asked him to quickly show me what he did. So in these pics, he doesn't have his gloves on, but you'll see later on he wears them when he's working.

First, they peel the fruit using a rigged up drill and a hand peeler. I was impressed with the clever contraption and the speed at which it got the job done.

Pretty, huh?

Aiden recruited his friend Nick to work with him. They get to sit in this lovely yard and peel persimmons for hours.

(I love it when my kids work. I'm thrilled beyond belief that he has this experience. He really wants to buy a BMX bike and he's willing to work hard.)

Then the fruit gets hung up in this screened-in garden enclosure to dry. Don't they look like little Chinese lanterns? I think they're lovely.

The boys attach these special hooks to the stems first and then they have to be hung up, spaced so that they don't touch each other at all.

Pretty cool, huh? It takes a good bit of time for the drying process to complete, and then they will be boxed up in these lovely wooden boxes that he had made.

Aiden gets to earn a decent amount of money doing this, and because he's starting so young, he'll gain the experience he needs to be a competent employee for this man for many years to come. It's the beginnings of his college fund (he has to save half of his earnings after paying tithing) the way that nannying the triplets was for Lyndsay when she was in high school.

Yay for work opportunities for kids!