Monday, October 29, 2012


School is closed today due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Sandy, aka Frankenstorm. We are spending the unexpected day off in fine form. Thanks to cloud cover and the white noise of perpetual rainfall, the children all slept in until 8:15. Next on the agenda was a family snuggle and some morning cartoons. Then my Emma had a FANTASTIC idea for breakfast: banana wheat pancakes and hot cocoa. She and I made the "surprise" breakfast and then invited our boys to the table. It's been a lovely morning. At Emma's recommendation, we are still in pajamas for a PJ Party. The kids have been running around the house with nerf dart guns, and the general mood is that of a snow day. So far, so good. Here's hoping the rest of the East Coast fares as well as we have thus far. 

Also of note: John is putting some awesome sentences together. This morning's conversational gem over breakfast was "Watch Mee Mouse Show." He was reporting to us about his morning cartoon selection of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Two year old cuteness. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Violin Time

Today we had a massive GROUP lesson for my violin students. We played through Suzuki Book 1. I set my own order, grouping songs so that my newer students would pop up and down throughout the event. When they weren't playing, I gave them very specific things to watch/listen for or had them play games to keep them engaged (i.e. hide the rosin, which is a lot like warmer colder except we play louder/softer to give hints as to location). It was a very successful and enjoyable afternoon; I was so proud to watch this group of violinists perform. 

Teaching violin has been a major blessing in my life. I started teaching my sister Trina and have slowly added students to my "studio" so that I am now teaching 14 students total. It has been a financial blessing in our lives; when I first took on non-family students, Emma was a baby and Adam had just quit his job at Deloitte to join up with a no-pay entrepreneurial venture. For eight months, we payed tithing on my violin earnings alone. It wasn't much, but boy do I have a testimony of tithing. I have absolutely seen the hand of the Lord in this whole process. Teaching violin has stretched me as a person, taught me much about parenting my own children, helped me keep my hand in teaching (which is a profession I LOVE), and brought music into our home. In addition, my kids get to have fun mini-play dates with the siblings of my students. 

My friend took this photo of a bunch of our girls together at last December's violin recital. This is a great group of friends to have as a support while growing up. 

 Speaking of violin recitals...since I never blogged about it, I think it is worth mentioning that Spencer did an AWESOME job opening the June recital with his piano pieces: "Lightly Row" from Suzuki Bk 1, "Sing, Bird, Sing" from the Bastien Level 1 book, and "Popcorn Popping" accompanied by his WONDERFUL teacher Melaney Tagg. 

It was a pretty full house this June. I think I'm going to have to start looking into alternate venues to fit all the students, friends, and family. 

That's a pretty great problem to have. I love how supportive each family is of their violin student. 
It's also worth a mention that Emma will be performing in her first recital this coming December. She has taken up piano with Melaney Tagg as her teacher. Emma has proven to be a diligent and willing practicer; it is exciting to see her put to use her natural affinity for and interest in music. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Emma's Preschool Graduation

Emma had a fantastic year at preschool. She loved all her high schooler "teachers" but had a special place in her heart for Katie. The love went both ways; Katie wrote and illustrated a book for Emma, included in her end of the year goody bag. It has a very sweet scrapbooked page at the very back with photos of this dynamic duo. 

This is Ms. Swinimer, preschool teacher and coordinator extraordinaire. We LOVE Ms. S! She had such creative ways to approach learning, and from the experiences she helped provide in the classroom, Emma learned to love school.

The girls of the family (with a creepy photobomber in the background).

Spencer was at school, so he couldn't attend the graduation ceremony, but here is the rest of the family in front of the school. Emma will proudly tell you that she had already been to high school, since her preschool was held at Potomac Falls High School. 
Thank you for being such an enthusiastic learner. 
We're proud of you, Lovie!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Roomie Reunion - Feb 2012

This blog has little to do with chronological order and more to do with capturing moments as the fancy strikes. I didn't want to forget this fun weekend. In February, my college roommate Katie brought her 5 cuties down from Rochester for some fun while they had a break from school and her hubby Eric was finishing up some work on his thesis. Linsy brought her 2 boys down and joined up with us, making it a Roomie Reunion. (Missed you, Hanne and Cortney!)

The kids had a grand time playing together. (Note that we have a stray cousin in this picture. I'm of "the more, the merrier" philosophy, you see.)

These photos were taken at the local Heritage Farm Museum. 

I love these girls!

Here are two group photos. Just goes to show that if you take enough pictures, you can get all the children looking...just never all at once.

L to R: Katie, Mary, Marie, John, Beau, Linsy
Annie, Cameron, Spencer, Megan, James, Tate, Emma

March/April 2012

In March...

Emma took another round of ballet classes with my friend Emilee Tikalsky as teacher.

We went GREEN to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Here's the proof.

Emma's best friend Reagan had her birthday party at Pump It Up (where Uncle Joel now works). 

The kiddos enjoyed a somewhat wet Easter Egg hunt put on by our HOA.

The Easter Bunny even showed up for the big event. (Notice that John is not in the picture. He's more inclined to watch from a distance when it comes to large, unfamiliar characters.)

Most importantly, a very special cousin turned 8 years old. We went up to New Jersey for her April baptism. The girls were happy to see each other. 

As were the boys. (Spencer came in the later shift with Gpa and Dad, leaving after school ended. Emma, John, and I made up the advance party along with Laura and Gma).

That reminds me...John and Laura were getting some wiggles out before we started our long drive, resulting in what is one of the cutest pictures ever. Must be shared. We love Aunt Laura!

Maddie and Grandpa

Maddie and her Dad

There were many friends and ward members at the baptismal service. 

Here's the cute Pascual family. 
(Ryan on the left, Daniel on the right. 
Jorge Luis, Maddie, and Emily up front.) 

At Maddie's request, Spencer played a special musical number on the piano (a simplified Primary song), and Emma and I gave a talk about baptism.
Thanks for inviting us to share your special day, Maddie. We love you!

February 2012

I've been going through our photos and have realized how many things we've missed documenting, so it's time for some catch-up posts. In February, the Pascual cousins were down visiting and we took the advantage of an opportunity to indulge in some Jimmermania. The Sacramento Kings (Jimmer Fredette's team) were playing the Washington Wizards, and we scored some cheap seats via StubHub. 

During part of the game, we rotated through a friend's fancy box seats. Adam invited our next door neighbors the Callises to join us, and they are pictured below. It was great night, although admittedly we did have a hard time deciding whether we should be cheering for the home team or Jimmer. 


These days, there are so many social networking sites to keep up with that it wasn't until my good friend Lori sent an email in response to a blog that I realized we hadn't officially announced in the blogosphere about our expecting Baby #4. We announced our news to family members by sending out this photo.

Here's a belly shot taken the morning of our ultrasound (in August). We took Spencer and Emma with us while John hung out at Grammy's house. I was really glad we had taken the two older kiddos. It was pretty fun for them to see the baby kicking and squirming, and it was VERY important for Emma to hear from someone other than us that she gets to have another little BROTHER! To her credit, although she has REALLY been hoping for a girl, she transitioned immediately and started thinking of names for Baby Boy Wride. "Mom, I think we should call him Andrew, or Jonathan, or..." 

Here's a profile shot of our newest addition. We can't wait to meet this active little fellow. Come January, we'll show you what he looks like in full color photos!

Family Togetherness

Last weekend, Michelle and Jenny (my sisters) both came with their families for a visit to the Clagett St. home. It made for a grand cousins' reunion and was the first time most of the East Coasters got to meet baby Hyrum. On a whim, we decided to try to capture a cousin picture. Here are two of the better results with everyone looking in at least the same general direction. I call that success.
 From L to R: 
John, Isaac, Spencer, Hyrum (back)
Hannah, Lily, Emma, Reuben, and Miriam (front)

Thanks to some quick action on the part of the grandparents, we were able to secure this sweet photo of Grammy, Papa, and all nine grandchildren that have been born to date. (Two more coming in 2013!)

Here's another version with a photo filter from the Path app on my phone.

On Monday, we had hoped to go to Pumpkinville together, but some morning rain showers foiled our outing. Spencer was happy to hear we didn't go while he was slaving away in 2nd grade, and Grammy had great back-up activities. We spent the morning doing fall crafts: haunted houses, watercolors, fingerprint trees, and LOTS of glue and glitter creations.

I seldom get glitter out at home, so Emma thought that was a pretty special treat. 

For snacks, Grammy made these cute little Clementine jack-o-lanterns. (Props go to Jenny for sharing this fun little trick). 

 Later that evening, we gathered once more for a homemade pizza dinner and FHE. Emma had just come from gymnastics, so she was dressed in style for the Cousin Fall Festival that Papa created. The man is amazing. In five minutes' time he had organized a series of events, tickets to distribute to each winner, and a box of prizes for which the cousins could redeem their tickets. Truly astounding. The kids loved bowling, catching the tennis ball on a sticky mitt, jumping over the "snake" (rope), shooting the ball into the basket, throwing magnetic darts, and getting balls into a moving butterfly net (Trina's awesome addition). 

Here's a photo of the whole gang gathered in Mom's beautiful kitchen. It's hard to believe that we ever squished into a smaller space. We spend most of our time gathered in this lovely space whether it is to eat, talk, or play games. 
Dan and Heather - we sure missed you!!  How about a repeat gathering come Christmas?

Little Man with a Tie

John was home sick today, unable to go to church because of a fever. I stayed home with him so Adam wouldn't miss the last Sunday of Primary Program Practice. His cute sunbeams depend on him! John and I spent the afternoon playing legos and, when his fever spiked, watching Mormon Messages on Roku while snuggling on the couch. He's feeling much better now, although he has little appetite (which is NOT normal). Hopefully tomorrow he is back up and at 'em. Tonight, I want to show you a picture of our little man from LAST Sunday. 

John was hanging out in our bedroom while Adam got ready for church. He took a look up at Daddy's cool tie and requested one of his own. After a quick search in the bottom of the drawer, we found one that matched his little outfit, and he proudly donned it and posed for this picture. Presenting "My Little Man with a Tie."
 He is such a sweet, sweet boy. I love how he wraps his arm around Adam like they are good chums. 

In case you were wondering, the mark on his forehead came from yet another evening accident. Just after family prayer, John was trying to maneuver around our little crowd and got tangled up in some feet. He hit the corner of a wall in Spencer's room. Mercifully, the skin did not split (so no stitches or ER visit as is our usual trend), but he did get a pretty good dent in the forehead. I guess this is what it's like to raise boys.

Ooh, I just found this picture, which was taken just moments before John's head met the wall. Love this little cluster of people.

Tough Mudder

Adam joined up with a bunch of friends to create a Tough Mudder team. Presenting the Goose Creek Warriors.

These few proud souls joined with around 24,000 other crazy folk to conquer an  obstacle course that was just shy of 11 miles. Here they are taking the Tough Mudder Pledge. (Adam's group was assigned a start time of 10:00am. The guy in the dress #54 was running the course for the second time that day.)

You can see Adam on the left preparing to conquer one of the early obstacles. Many thanks to Lisa Hagberg for capturing these photos and sending them our way. 

I love the glop of mud at Adam's feet in this action shot.

The Tough Mudder course is designed after those that British Special Ops Forces use for training. Adam conquered 20 obstacles including:
Arctic Enema 
Dirty Ballerina
Kiss of Mud
Berlin Walls
Bale Bonds
Hold Your Wood
Trench Warfare
Walk the Plank
Log Jammin'
King of the Mountain
Electric Eel
Underwater Tunnels
Mud Mile
Boa Constrictor
Funky Monkey
Twinkle Toes
Electroshock Therapy

This is the picture of a man who carried large logs, jumped across trenches, ran and crawled through live wires, trudged across an ice bath, army-crawled through a culvert half full of water. This is one Tough Mudder. 

Here he is with a few other survivors. 
The kids and I tried to meet Adam at the finish line, but the event was so popular, the site (a farm) so remote, and the police presence so inadequate that we couldn't get near the place. Between that and a HUGE storm that blew in at the end of Adam's race, the organizers had to close the course before the second day's teams could compete. We were happy to see him alive and (mostly) well when we met up at the church to collect him. Despite the deluge that had taken off the most apparent mud, it was astounding to see the amount of muddy water that came off this runner's gear when I rinsed them out with the hose later that day. Proud of you for surviving with a smile, babe.