The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
December 2017

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Couple of Other Spring Things

Isn't it great when you make a friend and no matter how much time passes between visits it feels just the same and just as happy as it ever did? I love my friend Marsha. I guess in some ways we have a rather unlikely friendship - she's quite a bit younger than I and our paths only intersected for a short while. There are lots of people with whom I interact as I drop off kids or pick them up or go to appointments, and I don't become life long friends with many of them. But somehow with Marsha we just really hit it off when we started dropping off our daughters at the same preschool. We created a strong friendship that has held fast even though they have moved away and we barely ever talk. But when they come here or we visit St. George we sometimes try to sneak in a visit and it's always as fun as it ever was. Just a real true friendship. 

Marsha and her family came to SLC in April and we decided that we needed a girls night out. The younger girls begged to please please please go to the Cheesecake Factory and the older girls (aka the moms) let our arms get twisted. It wasn't too hard. My daughters loved how fancy everything seemed, which tells you about how often they get to go out to dinner. Emma was especially tickled with her order of "Firecracker Shrimp," and so was I because it was on the appetizer menu. Sakes that place is expensive. But whatever - once in a blue moon. We had a great time. Funny enough, Marsha and I have the same job. We are both the computer teacher at our kids' elementary school. That was really fun to talk about. And I love how her daughter Kathryn and my Romney still jump into conversation and enjoy chit chatting just as much as their mommies do. It's such a fun friendship.

Another event was our school's Library Week. I felt like a total triumph this year. This week is an event that happens every year here. It's packed with activities like a read-a-thon and dress like a story book character day and a storybook character building contest. Every year since Chase was a kindergartener this week has snuck up on me and we have either done nothing or put together a last minute costume or character that were really kind of sad. Some kids have really gone all out. I just couldn't get it together. But this year it kind of happened! I feel guilty because it's probably due to the fact that I now only have one child at the school so it's only one costume and one character model that needs to happen. And plus, Emma was the driving force. She had a character and costume in mind and really insisted that it just had to be done. She loves the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, and she and a friend decided to be Elephant and Piggie. Luckily Emma was the elephant and so we could use the long underwear we got her for her raccoon costume at Halloween. And thank you to the world that there exists those cheap foam sheets that are so easy to make into stuff like headbands with elephant ears and trunks. Very easy.

Emma also created a little scene with Elephant and Piggie, made of toilet paper tubes, situated in a cardboard box made to look like the night sky. It was pretty cute, and she actually won one of her grade level awards for it. Yay! Success!! Sorry other children of mine.

And the really big news of the month was that some certain very tall teenager who lives at my house got his learner's permit to drive. This was an extremely challenging experience. I don't think this certain tall teen has a very strong desire to drive and so getting him to study and prepare for the test was kind of painful, for him and for us. And it took him a couple of tries to pass the test. But it finally happened and we have taken a few test drives in parking lots and once in the cemetery. I'm learning what fresh new fun stress it is to sit in the passenger seat while your kid is behind the steering wheel. I have every confidence that Chase is going to become a solid and confident driver but I am way too tense to enjoy the process of getting there. Hang in there kid, you'll survive being a child of mine...probably. 

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Surprise Chickens and A Sad Goodbye

I think it was about five whole years ago that I was at my sister's house for the kids' cello lessons when her oldest daughter Kate needed a ride to "a friend's" house. Since I was headed toward the avenues I was happy to take her on our way home. Turns out it was this kid named Cameron. Not long after that we were having a family meal over at my parents' house and Kate brought him along. We were all sort of giggly that Kate had brought A BOY along with her. He was sweet and cute. Oh and he had blue hair. Like, Cookie Monster blue. Impressive. We tried to be cool, but we totally weren't. But he was cool - super cool! Cool as in he and Kate were totally happy to let the little cousins play dress up with them. They put Cam in a wedding dress and hat and thought he was the greatest. I think I might have a picture of that...

Dang. I can't find it. Oh well.

Since then Cam and Kate have stuck together and have been totally wonderful. They show up to all family events, they are kind and pleasant and are game for whatever. They get excited to share their favorite movies with us and are even willing to watch the favorite movies of the kids'. We have loved including Cameron in the family.

All this time Cameron has been in school at the U, studying nuclear engineering or something very nuclear like that. He's quite the bright kid. He graduated in the spring and over the summer and fall has been looking for a job. We are so excited that over the winter he found a great job. We are so not excited that this job is in Connecticut. I mean, we're excited for him for sure. It's very cool - he lives very close to the ocean in this awesome little town with little town things like very old graveyards and neat old buildings and all of that. It's awesome. But it does mean that he's super far away. We were so sad to say goodbye to him, and worried about how Kate would do having to be apart from him for a while!

We had this lovely dinner together. Cam requested Korean food and I happily complied. We watched this series of 10 minute mini-movies called Over the Garden Wall which was just strange enough to be delightful if a little bewildering. We said our goodbyes and gave big hugs. It was sad. I know Kate wants to follow him to Connecticut as soon as she can. That's strange to think about - when her mom, my sister, moved away I really tried extra hard to connect with Kate and her little sis Mary Grace who also still lives here. I mean, we just don't have that much family here! And I love how much we love each other, even though we are pretty different in a lot of ways. It's been wonderful. I mean, remember how they showed up last June to put on Emma's birthday party because my mom was dying and I just couldn't handle doing a birthday? Like that. So great.

So yes we had a big good bye. And then Kate called like two days later with an offer that has kind of rocked our world a little bit. See, she and Cameron have a lot of projects and interests going at all times. This has meant bunnies, gardens, caring for an Air B&B, and....chickens. They have been raising these cute little Silkie Bantam chickens for a year or two and have just loved them. They are so cute! (The chickens, yes, but I really mean Kate and Cam. SO cute.) Well, with Cameron leaving and Kate trying to kick into high gear in school so she can finish and move to the east coast, they just felt like they couldn't do the chickens any more. So they found a home for them. Only, the home ended up falling through. And Kate was going to be gone for 2 or 3 weeks getting Cameron to Connecticut. So they needed a new home right away. They thought of us.

It didn't take Troy and me very long to decide that we wanted the chickens. We had talked about getting chickens some day. And I guess that some day was going to be way sooner than we wanted. Honestly, it was a little chaotic. We would have preferred to prepare a place for the chickens before they arrived. Troy had a vision of the kind of coop and run he wanted for chickens, but these guys needed a home and needed it immediately. So one cold night Kate and Cam showed up with a small coop that looks just like a little yellow farm house. They had tons of supplies for us which just landed in heaps on the back porch. They gave us about 10 minutes of instructions and then just like that we were chicken owners. And the next morning it started snowing. We just had to let the chickens wander in our yard for a few days while we cleared a temporary run for them. We learned that although it is adorable to look out your back door and see cute little chickens pecking around, and to see them running towards you in manic desire every time you go outside, it's not that fun to have surprise plops of really gross chicken doo doo hiding wherever. So we penned them in and are currently in the throws of planning and creating and almost building our dream coop, which we have yet to name. Chickenland? The Poultry Palace? Nah. But we'll think of something good.

I hate to say that something as little as chickens threw us for a loop but really it did. We felt chaotic and scattered and totally out of control and unprepared. It feels better now though. The girls named our four biddies Daisy, Peach, Mrs. Potts and Lady Cluck, although I really couldn't tell you which one is which. They are so funny. And soooooooo studpid. Oh my gosh chickens are dumb. But endearingly so. What was really funny was that as crazy as we felt when they arrived, Troy totally surprised me a few days later. It was Saturday, just four days after the arrival of the hens. I had gone down to the Apple Store to get my phone worked on and was walking home. Troy had taken the girls to IFA to see if they had any chicken supplies we thought we'd need. I requested rubber boots which Troy generously got for me. I called them as I was walking because I thought they might be along to pick me up. As I was chatting with Romney about their outing, I heard a strange sound in the back ground. A sound like, "Peep. Peep peep peep!" OH. MY. GOSH. Yes, Troy figured that as long as we were getting chickens we might as well aim for the sky. He brought home four little chicks and then spent the afternoon putting together a nursery for them in the garage as fast as he could. Chase named them this time - Blue, Charlie, Echo and Delta, after the velociraptors in Jurassic World.

Sadly, we lost Charlie. She only lasted a few days and just seemed to be a failure to thrive case. Poor thing. She may have also been affected by something we did not know was a thing. Pasty Butt. Yep, that's a common cause of trouble for chicks. We spent some time keeping chick butts clean those first couple of weeks. But Charlie left us any way. And a few days later Troy went back to IFA and returned with two chicks, quickly named Marigold and Pillow. (How cute are those names?!)

I'm really enjoying the chickens. I love the soft berp berp sounds they make. I LOVE the way they run. They really make me happy. And now as our chicken coop is really starting to come together I'm even more excited. Our chicks have grown into scraggly and hilarious teenagers. We think Delta might be a rooster but we're crossing our fingers that she's just really tall and aggressive and not necessarily a male.

What an adventure. I guess it's always good to have a project. And cute little tiny eggs that barely count for any calories because they're so small. Cameron has already come to visit the chickens once - he made it three weeks before he needed a trip home, the cute kid.

Monday, April 30, 2018

March Begins with a Lion (King)

I was very grateful that I was able to go on that St. George trip with friends, but it did come at a cost. Troy's Birthday was on Saturday and I did not want to miss that. I started driving pretty early on Saturday and arrived home in the late morning. It was a really weird day since I had been gone and didn't do a fun breakfast or anything, and Romney was in a play that had started the night before and she was pretty tired and emotional, so she got a lot of our attention that day. I don't feel like I was able to really celebrate Troy's birthday well, which I felt bad about. Troy is such a sweet and wonderful man, husband, father, brother, son and friend. He deserves the world. We did go out to dinner and get Indian Food which we both enjoyed a lot. He couldn't decide what present he wanted so that was put on hold. It was definitely a low-key birthday. We did have family over for lunch after church on Sunday and got to have meatballs followed by cake and ice cream which is always fun. Sadly, I forgot that we had no birthday candles in the house except for a one and a five. So 15 he was. I thought that would be better than being prematurely 51. 

Later on Sunday I made my way over to The Becky's house because it was The Oscars. How we love making delicious food and eating it together while judging the oscars. They've almost become irrelevant now because we never watch the movies that are up for the awards. Most of them are just not our speed. But you know we can still appreciate the movie clip montages and the crazy clothes and the fun stuff like that. It was a fun night. Here are two terrible pictures of us.

And now to the big event of March. Romney goes to a middle school that puts on a play every year. When I say, "puts on a play," that really does nothing to describe the magnitude of what is really happening. The kids who participate in this absolutely colossal event basically disappear from their home lives starting around Christmas and they are put through an exhausting rehearsal schedule. The demands are HIGH and EXACT and there are dozens of parents who throw themselves into the production as well. Romney came home crying from rehearsals more than once, and I wasn't sure she was going to be glad she had taken part. Especially after the first show, which was a Friday. On Saturday she was a bit of a wreck. And by that I mean a TOTAL wreck. I was impressed and proud of her that she regrouped and went back on stage the next night. Happily, after that first disaster she seemed to love every moment.

I helped out by doing makeup on several of the nights and that was fun to get a backstage look at this show. It's total chaos. I mean there are more than 300 middle school kids in the show so obviously it gets a little nuts. And yet somehow it all comes together and everyone knows where they are supposed to be and when.

They put on The Lion King and I can't really put into to words how impressive it was. The costumes, the sets, the singing and dancing...just jaw dropping.

Here are two dear friends, Lydia and Daffodil. Lydia played Rafiki and Daffodil was in this lovely chorus of 8th graders who sang through much of the show.

As Romney's play was in the middle of its 10 day run, her dear friend who goes to another middle school was playing the part of Iago in their production of Aladdin. Romney was heartbroken to miss it; since she had performances every night she couldn't go see Abby. Then we found out that our elementary school would be paying a daytime visit to see the show and I totally let Romney skip school to come see it. Naughty naughty but it sure lifted her spirits. I know Emma wishes that she could take her big sister on every field trip.

Here is a tiny little clip from Romney's show:

I can say after it was over that Romney was glad to have done it and at this point is saying she can't wait to be in it next year. Since 8th graders always have much bigger rolls than 7th graders I'm sure the number of days she collapses in a heap of teary exhaustion will pretty much double. But I'm also sure that she will show the gumption she did this year and get through it and end up loving it. I hope.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

St. George. Twice.

For several years our family has taken refuge from the woes of Salt Lake City's February in the south of the state, St. George. Thank heavens my brother lives there because we are not the only ones who do this. Every year on President's Day weekend it seems that at least half of the city migrates to Utah's Dixie and we are super lucky that we have a local in the family with a home where we can hide and insights into where we can go to avoid the crowds but still have fun. It's become an annual tradition for us. Salt Lake City in February can be pretty bad - cold, dark and wracked with pollution from the winter inversion. So naturally we made arrangements for our St. George trip again this year.
I do have to say that this year, Salt Lake City had a super dry and extra warm January and February. This is not good for our snow pack, but it really helps in not having an issue with inversion collecting in the valley. Our air has been pretty clean and we enjoyed a lot of sunny lovely days. So when President's Day rolled around, we were still excited to see our family but weren't pinning all our  hopes for happiness and emotional well being on escaping our valley.

The journey down there was way more adventurous than we expected. Like I said, half of Salt Lake seems to get on I-15 driving southbound and we ran into some serious traffic. The worst was just past Cedar City when we pretty much came to a standstill for a half hour or so. Maybe longer. And...we were almost out of gas. That was exciting! We made it to St. George on fumes and were very grateful for not having a disaster and running out of gas on the freeway. We were all so hungry by the time we made it to Cedar City that we could only remember to fill up our tummies and not to fill up our car too. Even getting food was challenging; the lines were so long everywhere we went. I guess St. George was the host city for multiple tournaments in more than one sport.

We sure were happy to get there. Especially little Iva to see her big cousin. These two - what a pair.

Iva even invited Chase to her tea party and much to our shock he complied and attended with pinkie lifted.

Sheri always seems to have new places to take us. I keep thinking that we have visited all her out-of-the-way places but low and behold she had another one for us. This time it was a lovely little canyon called Padre Canyon, next door to Snow Canyon, accessible from behind the Tuachan amphitheater. It's not a super long hike but it was pretty steep and scrambly, so I was impressed when all the kids but Sam walked the whole way. They were awesome hikers and found lots to enjoy on the trail like the little hidden caves and crevices.

The hike ended at a saddle with lots of great rocks to climb. We reenacted a scene or two from The Lion King. Sam made a great if unwilling baby Simba.

We didn't do a ton of other activities. We got there so late on Friday night, then hiked and played on Saturday. We initially planned on staying until Monday but after the nasty traffic on the way there we figured that Monday would be equally miserable. And then we realized that a massive winter storm was headed to the state on Sunday and travel would be seriously affected. We made a hasty decision to leave on Sunday morning, much to our childrens' chagrin. The drive home was quick and much less stressful, what with a full tank of gas and no stopped traffic on the road. We did jump the gun just a bit - we wish we had stayed until Sunday afternoon now that we look back on it, as the storm didn't really arrive until that night, but from all the weather reports it seemed urgent that we leave. And we did end up with a pretty good storm. 

On Monday we spent the day shoveling and going sledding - it was so nice to get some real snow in the valley. It wasn't quite as big of a storm as we imagined, but it was decent for sure. And good for us since it had been such a dry winter.

It was only two or three weeks later that I made another trip to St. George. This time it was with a group of friends who try to take a girls trip every year. Sometimes it's St. George and once it was to Midway, but wherever we go it's always so fun and refreshing. I wasn't able to stay for the whole trip - I had to head out a little later than the rest of the gang and I definitely had to get back early since that Saturday was Troy's birthday as well as Romney's play. But the two nights and two days I was able to go just filled my cup. It's always great - dinner out, (and breakfast and lunch...), lots of hot tub time at the condo where we stay. Long walks and everyone wanted to go for a hike, so I led them right back up Pedro Canyon!

This is an amazing group of women. I love them dearly. I'm thrilled when I get to spend time with them and especially enjoy the long conversations we have together. I'm blessed to call them friends.

I zoomed back on Saturday morning early, wanting to be there for as much of Troy's birthday as I could. And funny enough, another winter storm was on its way. I was glad I wasn't driving back on Sunday with the other gals, although I understand they did just fine coming home. This storm didn't carry the heavy warnings and predictions as seriously as the President's Day Weekend one did, but I feel like we ended up getting even more snow this time around. I'm very grateful that with all this traveling I and my family were all safe and never really had to drive through it. 

By the time the weekend was done I can tell you that I was very glad to not be sitting in a car any more! That was a lot of travel in my dear old van.