Life Prep…

Sunday nights are meant for teenagers gathering around my kitchen island. Usually I’m baking cookies and serving up french fries as teenagers come and go. I’m not entirely sure when we started serving fries. I think kids must have stopped by one night other than a Sunday and they were looking for food. I was looking through the freezer when I offered them some fries – ever since then I’ve made sure my freezer always has french fries and I’m dishing them out every Sunday night.

A couple Sundays ago we hosted all the seniors in our church stake boundaries. Steve and I were guest speakers for their “Life Prep” class which teaches a myriad of skills to help these kids launch. My particular segment focused on communication and I heavily focused on a section from the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (aff link). If you haven’t read that book, I highly recommend it. For teenagers who are getting ready to face the world on their own, it has some powerful concepts that will help them be successful.

I can’t put into words how much I love teenagers. I love their energy. I love their questions. I love how uniquely each one of them sees the world and will impact it in such an special way. And I love how they fill our home on a Sunday evening.

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When Hallie was turning 7 years old we had this grand plan of taking her to Disneyland for the day and it was so much fun we knew we wanted to carry on the tradition to all of our kids sometime around the same age. It was finally Briggs’ turn. He’s heard so much about this trip from his siblings and he’s been anxiously waiting for his turn.

We planned our trip months ago and we were so disheartened to watch the weather app change from good weather, to questionable weather, to downright terrible weather. Massive storms with serious flooding affecting the very area we were going to be visiting. I was quick to suggest we reschedule but Steve was insistent we carry on with our plan (I’m probably a little too quick to cancel plans if it means I can stay home!) The night before we were leaving, we got a notification from Southwest suggesting we change our flight free of charge. We took the bait and pushed off our trip just one day. And boy am I glad we did.

We arrived to find a cold and rainy California the night before we were to visit the park. But the clouds parted the next morning and we only experienced minimal rain later that same evening. We heard stories from other guests who had been in the park the day we had originally planned to be there and it was miserable. The two hours of rain we had during our visit was plenty for me however, we did come prepared with all the rain gear!

We’ve never been to Disneyland when it’s been busy but I think everyone decided to postpone their trip during the three endless rainy days and by the time the sun finally made an appearance everyone was ready to see Mickey. Add to that several rides that were down for hours that day and it made for some longer than anticipated waiting in line. But Briggs didn’t know any different and he was just happy to be there. His first ride was Millennium Falcon and it ended up being his favorite and we rode it three or four times. Which is funny because if I remember correctly, Hallie’s first ride was Space Mountain and it ended up being her favorite and she rode it multiple times.

As luck would have it – after our very first ride of the day we were taking a picture when Steve’s sister came up to us and surprised us. We had no idea she was going to be at Disneyland at the same time as us – especially since we switched our tickets the day before! Every time we’ve gone to Disneyland, never failing, we’ve run into someone we know by chance – this time we happened to be related!

We followed Briggs throughout the park catching snacks and food whenever we needed it. He was a great cruise director always looking for the next time we could catch another ride at Millennium Falcon!

We walked into the park the minute it opened and we didn’t leave until after it closed. I think the rain scared some people away in the late evening and our last two hours in the park were the best – ponchos and all. As we splashed out of the park, I couldn’t help but notice the beauty and the stillness of everything around us – especially the carousel with the lights reflecting majestically on the sidewalk puddles. It was the perfect ending.

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Tryout season…

Hallie and Hunter have been working through tennis tryouts for the last two weeks and its exhausting – emotionally and physically.

Hallie was far more confident with her position heading into tryouts but Hunter felt like he was fighting for a spot on the JV team as a freshman. Today they had a preseason scrimmage: Hallie’s squad played two different schools in doubles whereas Hunter’s squad played one school in both singles and doubles. They were both so happy with their results.

I got this text from Hunter after his match.

I feel like that kid always needs new tennis shoes. We ordered 3 different pairs tonight and hope to find one a little more durable than they pairs we’ve purchased in the past. I can’t keep up with him.

Next week the season officially starts and I can’t wait – I’m ready for afternoon tennis matches.

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Valentine’s day 2024…

I walked in the door late last night with Hallie and Steve after having been gone the whole evening. I was surprised to find the kitchen had been decorated for Valentine’s day. (I’ll be honest, the idea of decorating the kitchen crossed my mind earlier that day but I hadn’t pulled anything out. I’m sure I would have remembered as I lay in bed that night trying to fall asleep long past midnight!)

Hunter was the only one up by the time we got home and I quickly confirmed he was responsible for pulling everything out from storage and setting it up. I was so grateful for his small but very perceptive action. We have decorated the night before Valentine’s since the time he was little and I appreciated him stepping up because I’m sure he’s somewhat outgrown the tradition but he knew it would be important to the younger kids.

The last couple years, Hallie has made homemade cards for all of us and she pulled through another year for us so I just had to put out drinks and candy.

Cannon and Briggs made their class valentine’s but neither needed to bring a box in this year (both of their teachers decided on decorated paper bags). Cannon kept his Lego creation from last year and was hoping to get another year of use out of it but it looks like he’ll have to save it for another year.

Several years ago when Briggs was just a baby we took the family out to Red Robin for Valentine’s dinner. (We’ve done several different restaurants on this holiday but they only talk about this one.) Every year since they’ve talked about the Red Robin “tradition” that happened one time.

We opted for a family dinner at Red Robin tonight knowing very well they will speak of this tradition for years to come. 🙂

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Kids and decisions…

I’m a big advocate for empowering kids to make decisions. However, I’m realizing parenting is a delicate balance between letting kids choose and giving them direction to help them choose.

On New Years Day, Cannon spent the morning at the Fiesta Bowl. It had already been a long week of Christmas break, and then a really late New Years Eve and he was up early the next day to head off to a football game. He got home that afternoon and we could see he was tired but he was really looking forward to a neighborhood party that evening. (The party always has delicious food and inflatables for kids.)

Shortly before the neighborhood party, we got a phone call from a friend inviting Cannon to a Suns game with his best friend with really great seats. Steve started to answer for him before even asking and was surprised when Cannon wasn’t as enthusiastic about the offer. He really wanted to go to the party. We tried explaining to him the amazing opportunity he was potentially missing out on – but he had tunnel vision about playing on the inflatables. In our mind it was a an easy decision – but for him it wasn’t.

But he couldn’t see the whole picture. The one person he wanted to play with at the party was going to be at the game. He was excited about the food truck dinner, but the game also came with a fun dinner experience. He had limited experience with professional sports games and wasn’t sure if it was worth it.

In the end he chose the game – probably a little bit out of pressure even though we totally backed off once we saw he was conflicted about his decision.

And he came home beaming.

He was with his best friend. He got to fist bump one of his favorite players. He met the mascot. He had all the food and treats he wanted. He caught a shirt. He had an awesome night.

We knew this experience was going to be far more fun and impactful than the party he was excited about but it was a struggle to help him to see that without squashing his decision making ability. Lucky for him, this was a night he won’t soon forget.

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