Monday, 6 April 2015

Happy Easter!

This year the Easter Bunny attracted all the bunnies and bunny books in the house, and in the morning we had a bunny tableau waiting for us.

Carmen slept in too late to see the bunny tableau, and still that wasn't enough. She caught up on her rest during the morning session of conference.

We did a better job staying awake for the afternoon session of conference because Craig, Stephanie, and their kids came over to watch with us in the afternoon. Later we hosted Easter dinner for the rest of the extended family. The food was good, but the after dinner chatting is always the best part.

And then once the coast had cleared Carmen and Chloe played makeup.

Well, Carmen played makeup. On Chloe.

Sunday, 22 March 2015


Chloe and I are best buds. We still have a couple of more years of car time together - though the seats will reverse after her next birthday!

She's been a busy girl with her final year of Science Fair. Chloe placed 2nd in her category at the school science fair and was one of eight out of 110 students to qualify for regionals coming up this week.

Her project this year embodied "working smart" because she tested internet speed and how our home habits influence download speed. So, her testing involved cruising the internet on several devices at a time while she watched a movie on Netflix. The testing was delightful, but the data analysis was a little rough. She earned her way to Chinook Region Science Fair no matter what the above picture seems to say.

 Chloe's passion is not science, however. What she really loves is party planning and she is working on a humdinger of a bridal shower for the fiancé of her cousin Ross coming up soon.

The last Chloe news (for now) is that she made the school badminton team last week! Here she is the morning of the final tryout, cool as a cucumber.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sweet 16

We tried to throw a surprise birthday party for Carmen a couple of weeks ago. Turns out one of the invitees accidentally spilled the beans early, but Carmen kept that to herself and faked it well!

 She was a little surprised at how many people were there - it was in the neighbourhood of 30 kids waiting for her when she got to Lloyd's Roller Rink! 

Pictures like this one above make me think of Cat's Cradle.

We sang her 'Happy Birthday' right away and then Ken and I got out of there. It sounds like everyone had a great time, and I was happy to plan something special to mark this milestone for Carmie.

Carmen got busy with being 16 years old. Two days after her birthday she scored her driver's licence and started her National Lifeguard Certification, which she has now completed - so she will be driving herself to work as a lifeguard this summer. She went out with like 5 guys 3 days after her birthday, but I don't think that really counts as a date, haha.

It's been a busy couple of weeks for this Sweet Sixteen-Year-Old and she has one more busy week ahead: basketball playoffs! Her school team went 10-0 this season, and we are looking forward to continuing the streak!

Edit March 13, 2015: City Champs!!!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Jaclyn's Engaged!

So on Saturday when Steven's mission call came in the mail, Jaclyn was off on a sort of scavenger hunt that led her from clue to clue, special place to special place - all related to historic points in her time dating Mason. It's hard to tell someone else's story, but I know she had a good time with it. Mason's sister helped set it up as per Mason's instructions, allowing Mason to spend the afternoon following the clues along with Jaclyn. 

The final clues in the Fine Arts Building: Mason kneel here, Jaclyn stand here. This picture is a new happy place for me right now. I can just open it up on my phone, and instant happiness. Look at those faces!

Jaclyn's ring is a new setting created with diamonds from Mason's grandmother's ring. It is so lovely and special.

Yeah, so we had a big day on Saturday with a mission call and an engagement. This is what our Saturday night date looked like from both sides of the table with many people to tell, and many people congratulating us.

Congratulations Mason and Jaclyn!

Monday, 26 January 2015

Steven's going on a mission!

I couldn't be more proud of Steven for his decision to serve for 2 years as an LDS missionary. The mail was a couple of days slower with the call than we expected and it was a long 2 days!

He phoned us right after completely excited about where he's going to serve, and I know the Lord has a mission for him to do there.

BYU Friends

Steven was surrounded by friends as he opened his call, but strangely his sister wasn't there . . .

Thursday, 8 January 2015

A Little More Christmas

Christmas morning we woke up at home, opened our stockings together upstairs, and then went down to the front room to open the gifts under the tree. The kids are now all independent shoppers and it was fun to see what they chose to give us and each other. The funny story from the gift opening comes from all of Steven's presents. No surprise that we all got BYU branded clothing, but hilarious how he paid for them. He's been a little tight for cash, so he used his meal plan dollars to buy our t-shirts and sweatshirts at Jamba Juice on campus. I still think that is so funny! He paid for his own meal plan, so it was coming from his own money, but pretty ingenious how he solved his cash-flow problem.

In the afternoon we went over to Grandma and Grandpa's house for more presents and Christmas dinner. It was an "Olson" year for everyone so we had quite a crowd!

On Boxing Day we drove down, just our family, to Whitefish for some skiing. Unfortunately Chloe got sick and spent our time there sitting and watching movies, poor girl. Ken and I alternated hanging out with her and skiing with the other kids.

Mason joined us part way into the ski trip, arriving just in time for the coldest day I have ever skied! It wasn't the temperature so much as the wind, but it was bitter. We spent quite a bit of time taking breaks in the ski lodge.

Carmen and Jaclyn.

We drove home on New Year's Eve Day, and cooked a dinner of Surf andTurf with crab claws and steaks:

Mason was appreciative and took a photo of his dinner.

What we didn't take any pictures of was the New Year's brunch we hosted the next morning. Boo! I have wanted to host a New Year's brunch for quite some time, and with Mason visiting I felt like I had a good excuse to have people over so that there were no complaints of him being in town and no one having the opportunity to meet him. Lucky for me Chloe is an early bird and a chef, she pretty much did the whole thing.

After that it was a couple of days of errands and laundry and then Mason, Jaclyn, and Steven headed back to Provo for winter semester at BYU. We miss them, but we are also enjoying more time with Carmen and Chloe. I am just so glad we had 4 children and that I still have kids at home!


For Christmas Eve 2014 we played some of our favourite games from The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon:

Getting ready to host Christmas Eve is truly a group project, though much more fun than group projects at school!

Naturally we started with dinner:

Blake, Chloe, Whitney, Carmen, Eric

Harry, Sue, Steven, Jaclyn, Kevin, Natalie, Ken, and I

We had sparkling cider, sleepy soup, rolls, and appetizers (of course). Sometimes the best part of having a tradition is the elimination of decision making! 

Our Christmas Crackers this year held whistles tuned to specific notes, and some of the kids worked together to learn a song while the rest of us lingered at the table.

Then on to the games:

We started out with Bag of Lies (because gift bags were cheaper than boxes). I successfully lied to Grandpa here, but the champion of the game was either Carmen or Jaclyn. Scary what good liars they are.

We had a lip sync contest. Here Chloe is performing "You Make Me Feel So Young" by Frank Sinatra. We didn't name any winners, but I think special recognition needs to go out to Kevin and Natalie for rapping.

We played Antler Ring Toss.

And Water War - with Uno cards because I couldn't quickly find anything else. I forgot that I bought plastic ponchos for this game, so Kevin and Ken just got wet.

Christmas Eve Finale as always: Piñata

Then everyone went home and we settled down for our traditional Christmas Eve movie: Die Hard (edited). Ho. Ho. Ho.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

#5 On The Court, #1 In Your Heart

I've been sitting on this story for a little while not knowing how it would end. Carmen made the basketball team at her high school today, and my goodness she deserved it!

Carmen with a friend and teammate

This fall Carmen signed up to play community basketball as preparation for high school tryouts. In community basketball everyone gets to play, so the real question is which team will you play for? There were enough girls in our zone signed up to make 4 teams, and then 3 evaluations to attend in order to be sorted into teams. The first evaluation time was assigned randomly, but the second evaluation time was assigned based on placement and Carmen got sorted into the bottom half. She was told that her defensive skills were good enough to make Team 1, however her ball handling and 'seeing the floor' was holding her back. This was pretty devastating news at the time, but really, getting sorted down like that was the best thing that ever happened to her. She took that feedback and got to work. She got sorted back up to the top half, she thinks maybe she was even considered for Team 1, but ultimately landed in Team 2.

The work didn't stop there! Carmen put everything she had into her practises and into her community team. Carmen has a unique ability to influence the culture on a team, and through that influence the entire team united in a special way. I watched her do it. There was this one particularly grumpy and negative girl, and Carmen made sure that whenever that girl was subbed off she heard congratulations from Carmen on how well she was playing. If Carmen was on the bench when a time out was called, she stood up and walked out on the court to give '5' to each of her teammates as they gathered around the coach. Pretty soon the whole team picked up on these practises of sincere compliments and support. It was magical. As it turned out, Team 2 (The Wildcats - yes from HSM - yes Carmen's idea - yes more team building) went undefeated in the season playing Div 1 teams from across the city, and last week in playoffs won over Team 1 from their own zone.

Then this week basketball got more serious, and maybe a little less fun with school tryouts. It was tense! Carmen went from confident after the first tryout, to unsure after the second, to hopeful after the third, and she suffered a little each time a friend was cut. I'm convinced her ultimate success of making the team comes back to those community evaluations showing her that she had work to do. I'm especially proud that she took that experience and learned how valuable that kind of feedback can be. She told me that after every tryout this week she went to the coach and asked what the coach would like to see her do better tomorrow. I think that's pretty amazing, and a huge life lesson. Imagine from the age of 15 learning to seek out suggestions for improvement, and then working on your revealed weaknesses. No ego, no hurt feelings, just grateful for the feedback. Reminds me of a scripture, actually. 

Ether Chapter 12
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

Keep it up, Carmen. I'm so proud.