Tuesday, June 28, 2011

cleaning hands and dirty feet

The first week of summer this year, I let everyone hang out all day doing whatever they wanted. I figured we all needed a break from routines now that school was out. And that first week of June, the kids drove me crazy! They were picking on each other, fighting and bickering constantly. And they just sat in front of the TV watching cartoons or playing nintendo all day. So at the end of that week, I decided it was time to get back on the routine-wagon because they needed something constructive to do!

For the last five years, the boys have had a summer daily chore routine. Every year it's changed based on how old they are, and what the needs are in the home. It began when Ammon was 6, and he had to do 2 chores each day, and there was pictures so he knew what his responsibilities were. Then when the twins were 6, they started doing chores too, and I split the responsibilities between the 3 of them: Ammon had the written chores, and Jonah & Micah had the picture chores on the chart. Here's some examples of old and current chore charts that have been hung on our fridge:
This year, I restructured the system: The boys each have a specific day when they do laundry and when they have to help with dishes. And on weekdays, we focus on cleaning one room in the house per day and each of the boys have a specified chore on a rotation chart to do in those rooms. The five areas of focus are: the living room, family room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms and the rotating chores are things like: dusting, washing windows, vacuuming, mopping, and garbage duty. They can earn money by doing the assigned rotating chores ONLY if they don't complain about doing them. They have five rotating chores each week, and can earn potentially $1.00 at the end of every week. And the rule is that they have to do their chores each day before they are allowed to do anything fun. The best part of this year's summer chore program is that the boys are actually doing their work, and WITHOUT complaining about it, too!!! They wake up, eat breakfast, and start doing their chores before I have to ask them to do them. It's been wonderful!!! They are productive, they are happier, they are earning money, and the house is cleaner! I LOVE this year's system! 

Fridays are the easiest chore day because none of them have laundry or dish duty, and all they have to do is clean their room and then weed the garden and pumpkin patch. Weeding takes more time than any other chore, usually about an hour or more, and we work on it together as a family. It's funny to me that we work all week on cleaning the house with our hands, and at the end of the work-week, we end it by getting our hands and feet dirty!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Celebrate Good Times, come on!

The past year has been the best year of my adult life. I'm 31 years old, and I'm finally very happy and comfortable with my life. In the past year, some remarkable things have happened...
we moved into our new home and I absolutely love it,
I've become comfortable with my role as a mother,
I got a new job as an elementary music teacher and a new calling as a Gospel Principles Sunday School teacher and both of these teaching roles have made me grow tremendously,
my marriage with Josh has been amazing,
and the friendships that I've developed have been extraordinary.
I've truly loved this past year...

Last June, I was depressed and upset and stressed. I didn't get the job I wanted, I was mad at my best friend, I was moving into the new house and cleaning out the old house practically all alone. And last July, I had a horrible fight with my husband and left for a few days. I was miserable. But, that was the turning point for me. At that low point, I looked at my life and decided to make a change. And after being so low, I can now recognize and appreciate what my life is now and the goodness that it is filled with.

Part of my change began last fall, when I decided to make each good moment a memorable one. I wanted to make happy times become special celebrations, and the theme song in my mind has been "Celebrate Good Times" all year. Part of the lyrics are:
There's a party goin' on right here
A celebration to last throughout the years.
So bring your good times and your laughter, too
We gonna celebrate your party with you.
Come on now
Let's all celebrate and have a good time!

In the last 9 months, we've been a part of many wonderful parties and celebrations, but the most memorable ones for me were the birthdays celebrations that I helped create for some of my closest friends. Each of these birthday celebrations have brought sincere joy to my life, so to help me remember them, I'm writing some of the details from these parties.

Josh's birthday was in November. The night before Josh's birthday, I took him to eat his favorite meal of steak at his favorite restaurant in Salmon: the 28 Club. After dinner, we went to the hot springs with Amanda, John, Shari, and Jamie. I got a little out of control with some of my comments and the conversation that we had that night is still referred to whenever we go to the hot springs now and I still get made fun of! The next day, I made pumpkin cheesecake for Josh and he opened his gifts, and that afternoon we had our friends David and Gina and their family come over for dessert and games and we had a good time. I loved Josh's birthday so much, I think maybe even more than he did!

Kevin's birthday was in December, the week before Christmas. For Kevin's birthday, Amanda convinced John, Jamie, and I to join a bunch of Kevin's old co-workers at a birthday party lunch for him at Bertram's Brewery Restaurant. Kevin and his old co-workers all fit into the enclosed reserved nook part of the restaurant, but the 4 of us didn't. So we sat at a table next to the room, and kept talking and laughing and trying to feel a part of the real party. The worst (or funniest) part was when we were singing the Happy Birthday song to Kevin. I accidentally blurted out, super loudly in a harmonizing octave: "Happy Birthday dear Jaw...". I don't know if I was going to say Josh or John, but halfway through the name, I realized it wasn't the birthday boy's name, and everybody else quit singing mid-sentence and Kevin didn't even get the whole song sung to him because of my blunder!!! We still joke about that one, too. That night, Amanda and John and I joined Kevin's family birthday celebration at his home. He opened presents, we ate cake & ice cream, and we sang karaoke in his living room. And that night, we sang the Happy Birthday song again to Kevin, and this time I got it right! (sorry about the cell phone camera quality)

Amanda's birthday was in January. For her birthday, we ate dinner at the Junkyard Bistro with a big group of friends. There was Amanda, Josh and I, Shari and Jaime, Kevin and Melissa, and John and his old friend Josh that none of us had ever met. We laughed and laughed during dinner, and we ate dessert afterwards. Then we walked to the Inn for karaoke and dancing. We danced for several hours and had a glorious time together. Shari, Jaime, Kevin, and Melissa had to leave early, but the rest of us stayed until the Inn closed at 1am. And when we walked out of there, we were so hot on that cold night that the steam was rolling off of us! It was literally cascading off of John's friend Josh! It was a hysterical sight to see! We had so much fun that night that Amanda and I didn't want the night to end, we kept calling it the "Best. Birthday. EVER!".

John's birthday was in May, and it was a 2-day event in Boise. Amanda and I decided going into it that we would allow John to choose whatever activities he wanted to do, and we would go along with it. This was hard for me because I'm a control freak, but every time I wanted to do something different, I just said out loud (to remind myself) "It's your birthday, so you get to do whatever YOU want!". We went jeans shopping with him for hours in the mall, and then we had dinner and dessert at the Cheesecake Factory (our favorite) with our friend Rob. That night, the four of us went dancing at a dance club and met a new friend, JQ. After dancing, we went down the street to a pizza joint for a midnight snack of greasy pizza slices! And the five of us tried to stay up all night, which turned out to be an impossible feat. The next day, we went for our first-ever lunch at Five Guys. And that evening, we went to a Japanese party for a friend of Rob's where there were so many kinds of sushi that I didn't even know existed. (p.s. I hate sushi.) After that, JQ and John and Amanda and I went to IHop for some real food, and we serenaded the waitress because we were the only ones in the restaurant. Then we went karaoke-singing at a bar, and dancing at the Balcony (which was packed), and we ended the night with a midnight snack of hot dogs from a hot-dog stand in downtown Boise. John said it was the best birthday he'd ever had! It was 2 days packed with fun and laughter and food and friends. It was absolutely perfect. (more bad-quality cell phone camera photos)

I love happy memories, I love happy birthdays, and I love my friends! AND...I love creating happy memories with my friends on their birthdays! It's truly brightened my spirits this year, and reminiscing about the celebrations puts a smile on my face every time! I can't wait til the next one!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

2 in 1

At the end of May, the first graders had a 2-hour field trip/picnic to the CDC playground. I went during my 40-minute lunch break to eat with them and watch them play. Before I left, I asked Jonah and Micah individually who their best friend from their class was so I could take their picture together. Both of them said it was Erik! (Erik is in their same church class, too. He is more timid like Micah, but when he's comfortable, he talks a lot like Jonah, and he's very nice, so they both get along with him really well). So we found Erik, and I took a photo of all 3 of them together.

A lot of people ask me if I put the twins in the same school class, and here's my long answer to that question. When Jonah and Micah were 3, they started going to pre-school. They went to the same pre-school class, which was good for them because whenever one of them was feeling shy, the other would be the outgoing one. They relied on each other a lot during those 2 years of preschool, and they traded personalities during that time, too. Sometimes it was Micah who was shy, and sometimes it was Jonah who was the shy one. So I decided back then that I wanted to put them in different kindergarten classes so that they could establish their own personalities and make their own friends. But during the last 6 months of pre-school, when they were four and a half, they started doing just that. Instead of relying on each other, they started making their own friends and played in different circles of friends. So when the time for kindergarten sign-up came, I changed my mind and had them put in one class. It made it easier for me to volunteer and to have just one set of homework that was the same for both of them. And as long as the teacher put them in different learning groups, they did well. They had a great kindergarten year, and were still able to establish their own personalities and make their own friends even by being in the same class.
So I did it again in 1st grade, and put them in the same class together. I was their room mom, and I volunteered twice a week in their class (until February when I got hired at the school). I was so glad to have them in the same class together so that I didn't have to split my time between classrooms. The first two weeks of school, their teacher put them in the same desk grouping, which didn't work out very well, because they talked too much to each other and argued with each other a lot, too. After that, she learned and she kept them in different groups until the end of the year, and it worked out great for both of them. During 1st grade, they made a lot of the same friends, but they still have a few different friends from each other. Whenever I had recess duty towards the end of the schoolyear, I watched to see who/how they played. I saw them playing apart from each other most days but occasionally I saw them playing together, too. Having them in the same class has worked out really great so far for me and them, but it's the hardest on the teacher for the first month or so until she can tell the difference between their identical looks to see their different personalities!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ammon's All-Seasonal Activities

Ammon has 2 passions: sports and reading. He participates in both activities year-round (not simultaneously, though!).

He likes to read science fiction, fantasy novels, and books in series. Right now he is in Book #5 of the Harry Potter series. I told him if he read all 7 books this summer before the last movie came out, I would take him to the theater to see it! He is excelling at the challenge so far!

And he absolutely loves playing sports! He has a cycle of different sports he plays throughout the year:

From mid-October through mid-April, he bowls every Friday on the youth bowling league. He did well this year, and at the end of the season, he received the 1st place award for "High Handicap Game" in the boys league. At the regional competition in April, his score qualified him to bowl at the State Tournament, too!

In December and January, he participates in Jamboree Basketball two nights a week at the Junior High gym. He really enjoys playing ball with his friends in the dead of winter!

In April and May, he is practicing on the track during P.E. for the annual elementary school track meet. This was his last year participating in the event, because next year he will be in the Junior High track meet instead. He earned a 4th place ribbon in the 5th grade 400m dash.

In May, June, and July, he is golfing. He competes with the Jr. IGA (Idaho Golf Association) at 4 tournaments around Eastern/Central Idaho during June and July. At the first tournament of the summer in Rexburg this year, he earned a 4th place medal in his age group. He likes to practice and go to clinics to prepare for the tournaments; in the last week, he's golfed 5 days, and he usually plays 2 rounds of golf each day! He LOVES golfing!!

And in mid-August to early October, he plays football. He loves playing football with his schoolmates! As soon as football season is over, bowling starts, and the whole cycle begins all over again! 

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Jonah and Micah brought these self-portraits home in May after creating them in school. And even though they are identical twins, their portraits look SOOO different!!!
I just love this photo! It makes me smile to see them with their artwork of themselves! If you were to see the self-portraits anonymously, you would have no idea that they are supposed to be of identical twins! It's proof that even though Jonah and Micah are twins and appear identical on the outside, they both have very different inner perspectives, personalities, and skills!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

in tune & on key

In May, Ammon was involved in 2 musical performances: his piano recital and the school band concert.

I am his piano teacher, and I currently only teach 2 piano students: Ammon and another boy Wyatt. This was Ammon's 4th year playing the piano. Both of my students played 3 pieces each at the spring recital. Ammon's songs were "Teach Me to Walk in the Light", "Clementine", and a duet with me for the song "Beauty and the Beast". He memorized most of the song "Clementine" and really liked playing it because it's fast.

He also really liked the "Beauty and the Beast" song, and the duet sounded really good together! I enjoyed playing it with him as well!

The 5th grade band has done so well this year! Band was Ammon's favorite class during his 5th grade year, and he enjoyed having Mr. Anderson as a teacher. Ammon has really advanced on the trumpet during this past year. There are two trumpet players in the class: Ammon and his friend Hunter. At the band concerts this year, they've sat on the back row on the right side together.

For their musical selections at the spring band & choir concert, the 5th graders played "Ode to Joy" and "Creatures in the Attic". They did a great job! It's been fun to see Ammon progress on the trumpet! On the weekends when he brought it home to practice, Kanyon particularly loved listening to Ammon play. Oftentimes, Kanyon would go in Ammon's room with him when he was practicing and watched him and laughed at all the cool sounds that Ammon could make with the trumpet!

Great Job this year Ammon on your advancements in learning to play the trumpet and piano!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I looked out the window and what did see?

My boys planting apricot trees for me!!!

I had two requests this year for Mother's Day: 1. chocolates and 2. an apricot tree.

I had been really stressed out with school; the students were having lots of behavioral problems (aka spring fever) and I had tons of program prep work and performance planning, and I felt overwhelmed. Chocolate is such a good drug for me, and I thought it would be an easy gift for the boys to get.

We already have several fruit trees in our yard: 2 apple trees, a pear tree, and a cherry tree, but I've been wanting an apricot tree for a few years now. I remember how yummy my Grandma Rose's home-canned peaches and pears and apricots were, and since a peach tree wouldn't grow well in Salmon, and I already have a pear tree, I really wanted an apricot tree. I want to learn how to can apricots and eat them and remember what they tasted like when Grandma made them.

Josh and the boys were so good to me, and filled my requests...I got Andes Mints, Ghirardelli Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares, 2 bags of Lindt Balls, and not just one, but TWO apricot trees!!! My gifts were absolutely perfect, and I've truly enjoyed them! The chocolate is almost all gone now, and the Apricot trees are leafing out, and I can't wait for them to someday produce fruit.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Grandma's Love

Josh's Grandma Tolman passed away last week. She was 78 years old.

Grandma loved Josh so much, and had such a special place in her heart for him. He always knew growing up that she loved him, and never doubted that. Regardless of whatever the circumstances were in his life, he knew that if he went to his grandma, she would just shower him with her love. After we got married, and whenever there was hardships in our marriage, Grandma always let me know that our problems weren't because of Josh. He was practically perfect in her eyes and could do no wrong. Love is blind, and because Grandma loved him so much, she could see nothing but his goodness. He visited her just 3 days before she passed away, and he knew that her death was imminent. It was difficult for him to see her in that state, but even then, he could feel the love she had for him.

Yesterday was her funeral and burial in Salmon. Prior to her death, she lined out the program for her funeral. She told Josh and I years ago that she wanted Josh to play the piano for a song at it. The closing song was "Where Love Is" and I was privileged to sing a solo for it and I was accompanied by my husband. We practiced it over and over this week; Josh was nervous to play it on the piano, but he wanted to get it right to honor his grandmother's request. And it was absolutely lovely. He did a wonderful job; his grandmother would've been extremely proud of him. I know I was!

Some of the words in the song are "Where love is, there God is also. Where love is, we want to be. Where love is, there God is also, and with him, we want to be. Show us the way, and guide us tenderly, that we may dwell with him eternally". It was a very fitting song to end her funeral, and pay tribute to the wonderful life she lived. She was an example of love; she loved others freely, and was kind and generous to so many. We know that Grandma is in a happy place now, with the love of her life Rex, and her parents, and her son Michael. Families are forever, and we are so grateful to have this knowledge. It is peaceful and comforting to know that she no longer suffers bodily pains, but is happy and rejoicing with those who have gone on before her.

The following are some photos with Grandma...
Josh with Grandma and Pa-ah at our wedding reception, April 1998:

A 4-generation photo at Ammon's baby blessing in Tremonton, March 2000:

Josh with both of his grandmas at the twins' baby blessing in Salmon, March 2004:

A 4-Generation photo in Salmon when Kanyon was a baby, July 2008:

Josh with Grandma in her room at the Assisted Living Home in Blackfoot, March 2008:

At the Rex Tolman reunion in Blackfoot with her children, July 2010:

The last photo I have of her, at our new home for Malachi's missionary homecoming, March 2011:

Monday, June 13, 2011

SPRING it on!!!

Jonah and Micah's first grade musical performance was the last week of April. Their program was called "Celebrate Spring", and it was about all things spring.

Now that I'm the elementary music teacher, it's my responsibility to be in charge of the music programs. I started working in February, and I had to direct 4 different grades' programs after that point because the previous music teacher had only done the 4th and 5th grade music shows. It was stressful to take on the job right before spring and have to get all the programs written, practiced, and performed in such a short amount of time before the end of school.

The 1st grade program was my first brainchild: I came up with the concept for their program and saw the whole process through until the performance. I thought it would be fun for them to do something about spring, but I wanted their willful participation, so I needed their input. I asked each of the first graders to write answers to 3 questions on a piece of paper. I asked them what happens in the spring, what they like to do in the spring, and their favorite part about spring. And then I formed the entire program around those answers. I divided the programs into sections and picked a song to go with each section. I chose one answer from each child for them to memorize and recite during the section of the program that directly correlated with their answer. There were 9 different sections & 9 songs that they all had to memorize. There are nearly 60 first graders, and they all got to say one line into the microphone, and hold a prop during their section of the program. 
Jonah's phrase was "I like fishing", and he recited it during the "animals in spring" portion of the program. The prop he got to hold during the song about fish and birds and turtles was a fishing pole.
Micah's line was "I like to catch bugs" and he recited it during the section all about bugs. During the song "Ladybugs Picnic", the props he held were two ladybugs on sticks.
There were also sections in the program about rain, sunshine, kites, playing outside, seeds, flowers & grass, and farm animals. It went really well, and lasted for about 25 minutes. I'd really struggled with the first graders during their practices because out of 60 students, 45 of them are boys! They were a rambunctious, wild bunch! But the students did a fabulous job during the parent performance, and I was so proud of them!
I was especially happy to see my own two sons during the performance, because neither one of them especially likes to be in front of people, but they both said their lines clearly and sang all the songs! Micah's favorite song was "Seeds of Love" and Jonah's favorite song was "Hop! Chirp! Moo! Happy Springtime Day!".

I received lots of positive feedback after the program, because it was different than what the audience was accustomed to seeing and they really liked it! It was such a huge relief for me, and it gave me the courage and confidence to go forward with the other grades' programs that I still had to do in May! And it helped me realize that even though my job is sometimes difficult and stressful, it's the perfect job for me at this point in my life!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Easter Traditions

For Easter every year, our family basically does the same ten traditions to celebrate the holiday. This is how a traditional Easter would go for us...

Easter Tradition #1: Go to Grandma & Grandpa Perkins' house in Tremonton.
Normally we go and stay for two nights, but this year we were only able to spend one night. We drove down on Saturday mid-morning, and came back home on Sunday evening.

E.T. #2: Dye Easter eggs with Grandma on Saturday night.
I have never had to boil the eggs or purchase the dyes and accessories, because my mom has always done this with the boys. And they look forward to it doing it with Grandma and their aunts! 

E.T. #3: Find the dyed Easter Eggs that are hidden in the house along with the Easter Baskets with goodies that the bunny brought!
After all the boys are awake on Easter Sunday morning, they find their Easter baskets and then find all the hidden hard-boiled eggs that they dyed the night before. The Easter bunny brought the boys basketballs, frisbees, bubbles, and chocolates this year!

E.T. #4: Go to church with Grandma and Grandpa.
Depending on what time their church is, we either attend all their meetings with them or just go to Sacrament Meeting. This year, we just went to Sacrament Meeting.

E.T. #5: Eat the traditional Easter meal after church (ham, potatoes au gratin, corn, rolls, salads) with all the family.
My mom makes the most amazing potatoes au gratin: she cooks the potatoes and then shreds them all by hand. And she makes multiple pans of it when we all get together, because they're so good, that we all want to take the leftovers too!

E.T. #6: Read about the Savior's resurrection from the scriptures.
We each pull a plasstic egg out of the jar, and each egg has a scripture in it, and a small token that symbolizes what the scripture is talking about regarding Jesus Christ's death and resurrection.

E.T. #7: Have a family meeting for Grandma to give everyone the rules for the Annual Perkins Family Egg Hunt.
Every year, my mom adds new things to the hunts, or changes the rules a little bit, and we have a meeting before the hunts to discuss the changes.

E.T. #8: The children have an Egg Hunt in the front yard.
There's a starting line so the kids have an equal advantage to begin the hunt. They pick up a pre-determined number of eggs, and find one large candy item each in the front yard. Each egg is worth a money value that is redeemed after the hunt is over.

E.T. #9: The adults have an Egg Hunt in the back yard.
There is one gold and one silver egg that are hidden and are worth big bucks when found. The adults also all get a pre-determined number of eggs to find, and they are all worth money that is redeemed after the hunt has ended. This year, the 3 youngest sisters were allowed a headstart on the hunt because none of them had ever found a gold or silver egg before, and my mom was trying to give them an advantage. I found the silver egg again this year, and Tabbi found the gold!

E.T. #10: Play the Chubby Bunny game
We started playing this game last year. Each person puts one marshmallow in their mouth at a time and says the words "chubby bunny" after each marshmallow. The person with the most marshmallows in their mouth that can still say the phrase wins money. The adults and kids play separately. Last year, Josh won (despite his hatred for marshmallows). This year he got second place to Cody! And Ammon won the kid contest for the 2nd year in a row! (Since I played the game myself, I barely had enough time from cleaning up my mouth and grabbing my camera to capture Josh on film--and by that time, the marshmallows were already on their way out!)

I just love spending Easter with my family, and I enjoy all the traditions that we have that make the holiday special for our family! I am so grateful for my mom and dad for hosting the annual event, and for making it such a wonderful occasion full of happy memories for me and my children!