Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Our week of lasts.

Lana participated in 3 extra curricular activities this school year. Dance (10 weeks in the Fall and 8 weeks in the Spring), Awana (Late August-April), and Soccer (6 weeks in the Spring) and last week saw them all end. I'm excited that we won't be running around three days of the week, but now wondering how we'll spend our time. I think more stories and projects at home are on our horizon.

This was Lana's second year of Dance Class and she improved tremendously.
Our little tutu-clad dancer was able to pay attention and follow instructions during most of the 45 minute class. I was also super proud of how hard she worked to better learn the correct steps and improve her balance.

Most Wednesday nights saw us at Awana. Lana worked hard to learn her Bible memory verse every week and in total learned over 30 abbreviated verses. (Aaah, next year she has to learn the verse AND the reference. How will we ever manage that one?) I was happy that she was so pleasant and joyfully learned her verse every week. I don't know how one can force a 3-year old to memorize anything, and I'm grateful I never had to.
Lana completed her entire Cubbies Year 1 Book and was awarded this certificate and some new patches for her vest.

And then there was soccer. Let's just say both dance class and Awana went over better than soccer. Don't get me wrong, Lana liked it well enough and mostly did what she was asked to do. But really, organized soccer for 3 and 4-year olds was really just chaos in cleats with a few soccer balls thrown in. Lana did learn a few things and she participated in the drills and sort-of did what she was supposed to do during their little games. However, she also needed lots of potty breaks and picked more dandelions than any other kid on the field.
Despite that lack of mad soccer skills, she did look like the coolest girl on the team.

Whew, and now that they're all over, I'm excited for a few months of down time. We'll probably do swimming lessons this summer, but for now I think we'll all enjoy a break.
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Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Memory: Bad Hair Days, Part 1

(This post is labelled Part 1 because I have so, so very many photos of bad hair days that I think it's wisest to not overwhelm you with all of them at once.)

I know everyone says they had an "awkward hair phase" or laughs about a bad perm they got in the '80s, but my poor hair choices seemed to be a decades long event. I don't think there are any stories about me cutting my own hair as a child, so all of these hair atrocities were done on purpose.

Let's get started, shall we?

As a wee babe, I had fine, wispy baby hair, similar to most little girls.
I think it's still cute because it hadn't been messed with yet.

Then there's this:
Softball picture, 4th grade, and yes, I think that cut would be classified as a mullet.

This one was my school picture in the 2nd grade.
Frizzy grown-out perm and a giant bow right in the middle of my head.

Oh, and if you think I missed the late '80s/early '90s big-bangs and lots of ozone killing Aqua Net, think again.
Those bangs could stay that high for days.
There's probably a full can of hairspray represented in this one.

But the best/scariest one of all has to be this one from my 9th birthday party:
Yup, I'm nine and apparently ready for retirement at 65. Seriously, clearly I had people around me who could make good and reasonable hair decisions, because little sister Jen right next to me looks adorable and age-appropriate. Did my ginormous glasses just give the adults in my life free-reign to allow me equal awkwardness with my hair?

So, what's your worst hair story? Please link to pictures. If I can embarrass myself on the Internet, so can you.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Memory: Scenes from the Children's Museum

When we were kids, my brother, my sister, and I really looked forward to special outings on the weekends. One of my favorite places was the Utah Children's Museum. I remember it being so far away and such a big deal when we got to go, although I know now that it actually wasn't that far of a drive, and they ran special 1/2 price entry days a few times per year.

I'm sure to kids who frequented children's museums, this one wasn't anything spectacular. (Take for example, the Ogden Treehouse Museum we took Lana to this past summer.) But for us, it was really awesome. They had a sand pit filled with dinosaur bones waiting for young archaeologists to dig up, a small to-scale grocery store where you could pick up miniature boxes of cereal and cans of soup, a "wild west" town complete with dress-up prairie skirts and Sheriff's vests, a news and weather reporting studio with cue cards and moving clouds, along with several other neat exhibits. Going through my older scrapbook, I found a few pictures of one adventurous day.

(This was the surgical exhibit. I'm apparently putting Annie under, getting ready for a surgery, and sister Jen is examining her spleen. My big glasses and puffy hair? Well, that joke just writes itself.)

The children's museum had a great disability awareness exhibit  including a wheel chair obstacle course. If you look closely, you can see I am not actually pushing younger brother Kasey, (who by the way, was simply adorable as a chubster toddler, wasn't he?) but am hand wheeling the chair with him on my lap. I'm sure we set no land speed records that day.

Family in Utah have told me the museum of my childhood has been moved and expanded and wouldn't even be recognizable to me anymore, but even though that building is gone, I'm glad I have the photographs and stories to remind me of those fun days.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Over the Top? Us? Never!

This Wednesday in Lana's AWANA Cubbies class, the kids were having "drive-in movie night." They'd quickly say their memory Bible verse to a teacher, then settle in with popcorn and treats to watch a movie while relaxing in their home-made cardboard box cars. I've known about this activity for a while and had some ideas in my head about what we should make. I was thinking race car, Dan (who had to actually build the thing) was thinking more like mail truck or UPS truck, ya know, something boxy, square and solid. We settled on the idea of a flower delivery truck, and if you think about it, doesn't Lana Jean strike you as the type of gal who'd be lovely delivering flowers?
Well, after several days of work, Lana's flower delivery truck was complete and she was so happy with it. Dan constructed the automobile by tweeking some cardboard boxes, including reinforcing the sides. Lana and I covered it in white paper, although she might have gotten more glue on her fingers than the paper.
The dollar store had lots of cute paper flowers, so we grabbed some large ones for the side signs and some small ones for accents. Lana also colored some of her own creations.
On Tuesday night I was adding the finishing touches (flowers on the windshield - we're not going for practical here, we're going for cute) and Dan asked, "Dontcha think it's a bit over the top?" I just looked at him, but we both knew we reached over the top a long time ago. Perhaps it was when Dan searched a half-dozen different stores to find the exact right wheels he wanted. Yeah, maybe that's when we reached over-the-top status.
But then, on Wednesday, I saw all the other Cubbies with their home-made (parent made) cars, and suddenly the Lenssens are not quite so crazy.

Here's a small sample of what we saw:
Yup, there's a green John Deere tractor, a Lightening McQueen racer and in the back left corner is a replica of the Deloreon from Back to the Future.

Yeah, all of a sudden we're not quite so over-the-top, now are we?
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Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Memory: Little Girls in Blue Dresses

Five-and-a-half years ago Dan and I got married. It was important to us that our families be a part of the event, so we asked three nieces to all be flower girls. We thought Holly (then 6), Allison (4), and Avery (2) would be adorable walking down the aisle together in their frilly dresses. Dan's mom (Grandma Sue) actually found the dresses at a children's boutique and bought them for all her granddaughters. On our wedding day, all the little Lenssen girls looked sweet enough to eat in their matching blue dresses. The girls dutifully posed for pictures before the ceremony and we figured there would be no problems with stage fright once the music started.
(Our awesome nieces and nephews on October 20, 2007. Their numbers have since increased, as has their adorableness.)

Alas, that was not to be the case. The youngest two girls came down with some pre-wedding jitters and adamantly refused to walk down the aisle. I was in the back of the church watching them both cry, their patient mothers trying to coax them into following their older cousin into the sanctuary. Nothing worked and niece Holly made the trek solo, without her two young accomplices. Sweet Holly did a great job, walked and stood where she'd practiced, and was quiet and cute during the whole thing.
(Lovely little Holly workin' the aisle solo at our wedding. She's still super-great at weddings and did a bang-up job as a candle lighter a couple months ago in Grandma Sue's wedding. I imagine she'll be a great bridesmaid one day too. Holly's friends should get their reservations in now.)

I recalled that bit of our wedding story recently because sis-in-law Angela saved her girls' two blue dresses for all these years and recently gifted them to Lana. I was nearly moved to tears of sentimentality at the thought of my sweet girl wearing the same blue frock her sweet girls wore all these years ago.

And of course, Lana looked just as adorable in the dress as her older cousins did years earlier. We used it as this year's Easter dress and she loved getting to twirl and dance in it.

The two shy flower girls are anything but shy now. They've grown into confident and amiable young ladies, and our little girl in blue thinks the world of all of them.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Memory: I'm with the Band

I went to a middle school where participation in the band was compulsory, not optional. The school was small and all bodies were needed to field a full band, and I pretty much hated it and thought it was the worst thing ever. Because I didn't enjoy band, or being forced to be a part of it, I chose to play the drums, my thinking being that drums would be the easiest instrument to learn and thus require less effort than say a flute or trumpet.

Well, for all aspiring slackers out there, you should know that the drums are actually pretty tough to learn and I doubt any professional (or surly 7th grade) percussionist will say it's easy. It was a lot of work and required just as much outside-the-classroom practice time as any other instrument.
(That's me in the 7th grade beating a tom-tom drum in a local parade. If I look hot, tired, and grumpy, it's because I am hot, tired, and grumpy.)

My poor attitude and utter contempt for compulsory band came to a head a few days before the Christmas concert. The band teacher, Mr. W needed to spend some time working with the woodwinds on a particularly tricky part of a song and instructed the rest of us to sit quietly and study our music so we'd be ready for our parts. I was bored and mad and didn't want to be there, so I quickly organized an impromptu drum line of percussionists in the back and we got our groove on. Mr. W saw what was going on and shut down our fun and assigned me his favorite punishment, a 300 word essay. (Mr. W didn't usually send students to the office or give detention, but instead had his problem kids write 300 word essays, usually on a music-related topic of his choice, but in this case, he left the topic up to me.)

For many kids, being forced to write 300 words was a punishment worse than a woodshed beating, but I was happy to take it. Instead of writing 300 words about percussion instruments or the piece of music we were playing, I chose to write 300 words telling Mr. W how much I disliked him and his class. I gleefully crafted my paper to reflect my disdain for him and the entire class. I felt pretty clever hurling insults at my teacher and felt confident that I had "won" this quarrel.

Did I mention Mr. W and his family lived next door?
I don't think I did, did I?

That's right, Mr. W lived RIGHT NEXT DOOR. He could wave to my parents from his front porch when they parked in the driveway. We could smell their BBQ when they grilled in the backyard. We could hear voices when their kids would fight upstairs. Yup, Mr. W lived RIGHT NEXT DOOR.

Clearly I wasn't nearly as smart and clever as I thought I was.

The day I turned in my brilliant essay, Mr. W waited until he saw that both of my parents were home and walked over and gave them the paper. He briefly explained what had transpired and told them he wasn't planning on pursuing the matter further because he knew my mom and dad would take care of it. He let them keep my essay.

When Mr. W left, I got the tongue lashing of a lifetime. My parents took turns addressing topics such as respecting authority, what is and isn't appropriate to say to a teacher, my bad attitude about band, the need to buck up and deal, etc, etc.... And then they did something I'll never, ever forget. They laughed and laughed and laughed. They read pieces of my essay out loud and laughed. They told me that writing was a great outlet for my feelings and frustrations, but from here on out, I should just give these kinds of essays to them to enjoy and give the teachers something more bland and appropriate. Don't get me wrong, even though they liked my writing, my parents did not approve of my bad attitude or disrespectful essay, and I was suitably punished (I think I got grounded?) and I never did anything like that again. But who would have thought playing the drums in band would end up making me a better writer?

I didn't ever fall in love with band or Mr. W, but I did take my parents' strong words to heart and had a better attitude about the class. No teacher again ever received one of my seething letters, although I composed many that were never seen. I don't suppose a years-too-late apology would mean much to Mr. W now, but I really am sorry. It must be incredibly difficult dealing with moody and bratty middle schoolers and you deserved respect. I hope wherever you are now, the students love band, or at least fake it better than I did.

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday Memory: High School Cross Country

Betcha didn't know I was a runner, did ya?

And yes, I am using the term "runner" quite loosely. But if it's defined as putting one foot in front of the other at a speed quicker than one's natural walk, then yes, I am a runner.

I ran a 5k over the weekend with friends and couldn't help but be reminded of my days as a runner on the Weston McEwen High School Cross Country Team. I wasn't fast (then or now, let's be clear) but because WM was a small school, the participants were needed to field a full team and I was a welcomed member.
(A picture from my junior year. I'm in the middle wearing red. I think Coach's wife snapped this shot during a meet. I actually sorta-kinda-maybe look like I'm running fast. It helps that you can see I'm in front of a few other runners. I also think this was the last time I was this tan, or this fit.)

Our high school team had a few members who were state-caliber runners (at least one went on to earn a running scholarship to college) and they were sweet enough to tolerate me. I wasn't fast, but I never gave up and I really did learn a lot and enjoy our time together. Hill repeats, sprint drills, long runs, and team building/encouraging exercises were a part of what we did at practice every day. And team sing-alongs, hair braiding sessions, and spaghetti dinners kept us bonded and in good spirits before meets.

Practicing for the recent 5k with friends reminded me of how fun it can be to train with others. There was no hair braiding or singing (maybe next time?) but there was a sense of team comradery that I've missed. I'm definitely hoping we can keep on running together.
(Thanks Ladies! You made me feel like I was in high school again!)