The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
November 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Loved This Little Moment in the Middle of a Busy Day

We are in the throws of summertime, which means that I am spending a great deal of time and energy looking for fun stuff for the kids to do. A wonderful resource for us is the Salt Lake City Public Library. They have a summer reading program for the kids that we look forward to every year. We really enjoy filling in our little charts and earning prizes by reading. Okay, the prizes are nothing spectacular - little rubbery bugs and sticky hand things, but it's enough to get the kids excited about reading and dropping in on the library to look for new books. The library also plans special events all summer long; several a week. Things like animal demonstrations from the zoo, puppet shows and science experiments. The first week of every summer I sit down with their calendar and make a note of all the activities that sound fun so on any given day on which we are looking for something to do, we know if the library has something in store for us.

Last week we had just such a day - I knew that the down town library had a zoo demonstration and I made that event the center of our day, planning everything else around it. As the 2:00 start time drew nearer we loaded up the car and began to make our way downtown, without recognizing a fatal flaw in our plan. Our demonstration just happened to coincide in time and in location with the beginning of a huge summer event here in Salt Lake: The Utah Arts Festival. As we headed into the traffic I remembered the festival and could sense that our outing might be in jeopardy. There was simply no place to park our car, the library lot as well as most street parking being completely full with Art Festival attendees. We circled the area desperately, the minutes slipping away until I finally found a parking spot, the trouble now being that our program was starting and we had an entire arts festival between us and the children's library stopping us from getting there. There comes a point when you just have to say, "Oh Well!" And I am very proud of my children for not falling apart at the sad news of the demise of our outing.

All was not lost...(I'm realizing that I may be over dramatizing the retelling of a simple summer afternoon, but too late, I'm already started.) Even though there was no way we could make it to the animal show-and-tell, we were still standing at the entrance to the arts festival. And kids get in free. Okay, change of plans! We headed on in. As I expected, and as is the reason I usually avoid the festival, it was hot and crowded and overly bustling. Not as hot as other years, but still, you're hanging out in the sunshine.  There is a great kids' area, however, and we headed straight for it.  Stomper is getting a little to manly to be happy for long in the crafty area, but we spent an hour doing fun things like taking markers to the walls and furniture of a mini-living-room, making masks and monster claws and birds.











 Then we headed out to visit our friend Ben Behunin who makes some great pottery.  Of course along the way we had to stop at several booths so we could keep up the family tradition of the kids begging for things that they will want to play with for two whole days before forgetting about them while I get grouchy and keep saying no no no no no no.  The kids felt better after I let them pick out some Ben original magnets for the fridge.  





And then we headed home.

But there was this one little thing along the way - somewhere between the kids' corral and Ben's booth, just past the stand of homemade toys my kids really wanted, there was this really cool thing.  Simple, yes, but it totally grabbed my heart.  It was a pillar of plywood, painted in black chalkboard paint and covered all over with the saying, "Before I die I want to....." and then there was chalk left there for all of us passersby to fill in our dreams.  I looked for a minute at everything people jotted down, and I could just feel the hope and craving and wishing that got left there as each writer paused there for a moment.  It seemed so insignificant, just a fun activity at a fair, but power radiated from that tripod.  It probably seems silly but I was moved very much to see such a collection of hope from such a collection of people all right there.  I was honored to add my own wish to it.



Friday, June 14, 2013

The Rematch

It was twenty one years ago, that fateful day that I first took on The Becky. And I was completely shamed.

I have this best friend. Her name is Becky. You may know her better as The Becky. The indispensable friend. Twenty one years ago, she and I were in our first year of college. We had been best friends for many months, since the beginning of our senior year. We were nearly inseparable from the very start. I went on to start school at Utah State, she at the U. I thought I was very smart and knowledgeable being a university student now, one who took such classes as "Political Science I" and "Intro to Psychology."  And so when I found out that my friend, only 19 at the time, had met a man via another friend and they were writing letters and falling in love and were probably going to get married I thought I knew that she was being ridiculous. And when they did get engaged, I thought I knew that she was being an idiot. And I was furious. And SO jealous that my friend was being taken away. I had no idea how to express my anger, envy and....idiocy.

Well, I found a really good way to express all those things.

 I challenged her to an arm wrestle.

The Becky is very sweet, doesn't like loud rock music, has soft skin and a gentle nature. There was no WAY she could beat me in an arm wrestle. And suddenly I just had the desire to beat her at SOMETHING so that had to be it. An arm wrestling match. I called her out and she timidly agreed, bewildered as to why her grouchy friend was insisting on a throw-down but agreeing just to appease me. Becky looked scared (yes!) and balkingly assured me that there was no way she could beat me. But I insisted. (Did I mention the part about me being an idiot?)

We sat down across from each other at her mother's dining room table. We faced off, elbows set and fists gripped. She looked nervous. I was determined. We said GO and I instantly threw all my strength into my grip. As did she. And....she absolutely hurled my arm back, slamming my fist into the table, beating me almost instantly.

She looked shocked and I was speechless. I was furious and completely shamed by my stupidity. I had to leave. Becky gave me a confused pat on the back and told me she would call me later.

Just for the record, the man Becky married at the age of 19 is an absolute perfect match for her and they have had 20 years of a great marriage. He is a dear man and I love him and am grateful for the fantastic husband he is to my friend. I myself blundered around the dating world for five more years choosing all the wrong people to date, getting my heart plowed and plowing the hearts of others before finally being fished out of the dating swamp by Troy. Thank heavens.

And 20 years later I am still lucky enough to have The Becky in my life. We have laughed so many times about that funny day, both of us having much sympathy for my confused teenaged self. So funny. And I always thought it would be hilarious to have a rematch. You know, in honor of us turning 40 or something. So yesterday as we were hanging out together, letting our kids entertain each other while we ate lunch and talked like we always do, I brought it up. And we decided to go for it. Her daughter filmed it....

....only guess what.  I can not for the life of me get it to upload onto blogspot.  I will try.  Perhaps The Becky would prefer that I give up., but if not she needs to ask her very nice husband to help me.  I'll just say this.  It was a valiant fight.  But....she still killed me.  It took a little longer this time - I put up a much better fight but in the end, Becky's freakish strength prevailed.

Clearly, not much has changed. I am still an idiot. And I am just lucky I didn't wet my pants. I need to do some push-ups. Cue the montage music, I am going to start working on my arm-wrestling muscles and we are doing this again!! In 20 more years.

To The Becky, you can beat me in an arm wrestle any time. (Obviously.)  Just don't ever leave me.





Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Run Free, Sweet T-Rex

I was just reading over old blog posts in memory of little T-Rex, the leopard gecko Stomper received for his 5th birthday. It turns out that the first name little pre-school aged Stomper wanted to give his new birthday lizard was "Polka-Dotty-Dot." I was glad I found that funny little detail to share last night - it made us all laugh even through tears.

Baby T-Rex in October 2007
Big T-Rex in October 2012


T-Rex had been going down-hill for a while, not eating and losing eye-sight. We did what we could for him, trying to hand-feed and hand-water him but it was too little too late and finally yesterday evening Stomper found him expired in the sand. Pretty sad. Many tears from our sweet boy. And also an instant request for a new lizard. Or a snake. I am going to try to hold him off a new pet for a few weeks.

For a lizard that you have had for almost six years you need to do more than just toss it or dig a little hole. We found a nice box for T-Rex to rest in. Stomper carefully made a bed of sand inside and wrote dates on the cover. Each child wrote a note to T-Rex. Stomper wouldn't let me read his; he is such a private guy! Bitty of course wanted me to read hers and take a picture, but Stomper left his just between him and T-Rex. I think that is so cute but it also makes me want to go dig it up and read it. Don't worry, I won't. That's just a hair too far past the line of WEIRD and SLIGHTLY OBSESSED for me to actually do. So I will just think about it instead.

We gathered around our hole, dug partly by Stomper, we placed T-Rex inside, said our good byes, and let Stomper bury him. (Or her. We were never sure.) Stomper wouldn't let me sing Shadows Creep, like we did with our puppy dog Alex, but he did allow us to take him out for frozen custard. Which we all enjoyed very much.






T-Rex, thanks for being a sweet little lizard. Run free and say hi to Alex for us. May there be many crickets in heaven. Wait, I take that back.  May there be many...yummy things for you in heaven.  That aren't creepy.

A Little Dream Come True

Sweet Bitty. You can tell when your middle child is feeling especially middle, because she keeps coming to you and asking you if she can please have an ALONE-date with you. And also an ALONE-date with her dad. Bitty was so in need of some personal attention. And what serendipity that just as she was needing this most, Troy got invited to a wedding reception in the same town where lives an old buddy of his who owns many many horses. Magical evening in store.

Troy took Bitty on an ALONE-date to the wedding reception. Bitty loves dressing up and going to grown up parties. At Christmastime Troy took her to a fancy work party at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and she was absolutely tickled to be the only kid there. Same goes for the wedding reception. Little treats to eat, grown ups admiring her father's cute daughter, wearing a fancy outfit.

It was fancy, but not too fancy to ride around on horseback while her dad caught up with his old friend.

On the way home they topped off the perfect evening with a pair of slurpees and the girl came home absolutely glowing.







School's. Out. For. Summer!!

(What, didn't you guys listen to that rocker 80's song in the summer? Not that I remember who sings it...)

As I sit here typing I can't actually remember if it has been one week or two weeks since school got out. Now that I look at my calendar I see that amazingly, it has only been one. Trust me people, it feels like more than that.

Yes, my crappy summer attitude is here.

I just wanted to post a couple of pictures of the kids with their great teachers - they had such a nice year. Bitty was with Mr. C (his name is too hard to spell out and plus it isn't pronounced the way it reads so there is no point in typing it. But I guess that would have been easier than writing this whole big long sentence....) Mr. C. is absolutely darling with his students. He is so funny and silly and the kids just adore him. Bitty sure did. He uses almost no parent involvement so I didn't get to know him very well but any chance I got to see him interact with his students made it clear why they all adore him.



Stomper's teacher Mrs. Farrell did use a lot of parent help and so I got to know her pretty well. She was in my car for a couple of the kids' field trips and we had some nice chats. I just love her. I wish we were neighbors. Stomper describes her as his favorite teacher so far. I will miss her next year.


 My favorite part of the last day of school may have been meeting the kids on the front lawn outside the school and finding Stomper and three of his buddies absolutely bawling together. This is not to say that he has never cried on the last day of school, but he usually does it quietly to himself, hiding from his friends. It was completely adorable to come out and see these four loud crazy boys lying on the grass in a row and just sobbing. And laughing at the same time. How nice for Stomper to know that he doesn't have to cry alone any more. Sheesh - if they cried like this after 4th grade just imagine the water works after 6th grade! Actually during the final assembly when the 6th graders ran through the tunnel of rulers and said good bye I was crying myself! And I don't even have a 6th grader!


After school we partook in two events that I hope become annual traditions. First, a direct trip to B&D Burgers with some friends - oh mamma. I love me a good avocado burger. We gobbled that up and then quickly headed over to Stomper's buddy's house where a pool party was happening. What a great way to spend the afternoon - chatting happily with my soccer mom friends while the kids romped in the pool. It's a much better solution than taking them home where they are grouchy and disoriented and snap at each other and cry all afternoon. (That comes the next day.) Of course that evening was the Family Fun Fest carnival where we set the kids free on the playground which was full of inflatable slides and bounce houses, cotton candy and snow cone machines, balloon ladies and face painters. It is a crazy night. Stomper finds a pack of boys to hang with, Bitty goes off on her own (should I be worried about her social life?) and Bundle makes her dad take her on everything while I run the volunteer table.








My favorite part of the evening was staying until the bitter end and then having my friend Emily call. She was in a bind because one son's baseball game wasn't over yet and her other son was roaming free at the carnival. We brought the carnival-son home with us - walking home just before twilight and then she arrived soon after. The kids were way too amped up to settle down for bed so her four boys and my three kids hung out, running on the lawn, piling up in the hammock and swinging, playing in the playroom, not leaving until the sun was down and the stars were out. A perfect summer beginning. I hope we get a lot of that this year.

And now, to get through the rest of it.

One last note. Why am I SO TERRIBLE at teacher gifts? Every year it's the same - I totally panic about it. I go to Target and wander around, looking for something cute, not too expensive, not junky, and actually useful. I find 100s of choices, none of which seem right, and get totally overwhelmed and leave in mid-anxiety attack. So I go home and look on the internet. (Darn you, Pinterest!!) I see page after page of adorable ideas, themed baskets and gingham ribboned parcels each with a little punny saying attached. I think, ok. I can do this. I choose a few items - a flower pot I plan to fill with a gift card and a notes from me and the kids each written on a cute little paper flower. I keep trying to get to the gifts before the very last moment but I never make it, so the morning of the last day of school I haul myself out of bed to construct the flowers. After 45 minutes I am angry and have wasted a dozen sheets of paper, and I am no closer to achieving anything remotely cute. Finally I scoop up the load of wasted paper, dump it in the recycling bin, jot down a few words on a note card, shove the gift card in the envelope and tell my kid to give it to their teacher. I am sure the teacher likes it all the same and could you just please remind me next year to not even try for a Pinterest-worthy gift display? I can't handle it.




Friday, June 07, 2013

Bundle No Longer

Seriously, I don't think I can keep calling her that.  She just turned four.  There isn't much that is bundle-y about her any more.





So yes, Bundle turned four on Monday.  I am not quite sure what she is going to talk about for the next while here because she has been discussing her birthday for MONTHS.  "Mom, can I have a purple birthday?  Can I have a purple snail for my birthday?  Mom, that toy is too much for today but I will put it on my birthday list.  Let's invite them to my birthday party." I think that placing every wish on hold for her birthday has been a very important coping skill for quite some time now, and I am a little nervous for her and how she will cope.  Oh, duh. Christmas.  We'll be fine.

This morning she was in bed with me (she's on like a two-week streak of not sleeping all night in her own bed; I'm not sure I mind....) and as I was getting up to get started on the day her little eyes cracked open a tiny bit.  She moaned, rolled over and said in a croaky little voice, "...it's not my birthday any more..." and went right back to sleep.

You see the pressure I had to make her birthday great?  This has been a massive milestone for her and taken up quite a large portion of her thoughts and comments. And I have a bad habit of thinking I have a great idea for a birthday celebration that without fail gets somehow both out of control and completely underwhelming at the same time.  But this year, I actually think it went pretty well.

I certainly couldn't implement all billion of her birthday wishes she had made over the past months - had I even been keeping track of them.  Which I wasn't.  So a few days before her big day we sat down and made a little plan that seemed to make her very happy despite the fact that it included nothing she had mentioned.  Luckily she wasn't keeping track of her wish list any more than I was.

We started the morning with her requested meal of waffles and hot cocoa.  (I never use the phrase 'hot cocoa.'  It's 'hot chocolate' to me, but every time I let that phrase slip out of my mouth I was instantly corrected.)  By the way, does anyone else have the thing where you ask your kid what they want to eat on their birthday, they plan a whole menu for the day and then pretty much don't eat a single bite? Well, except for the frosting which they lick off the tops of their cupcakes, carefully avoiding any actual cake. What is wrong with my child?



I got breakfast all ready and Troy went to get her out of bed.  Sorry, out of MY bed.  He brought her downstairs as we all sang to her.  That may have been a mistake because it nearly reduced her to tears; we must have been an overwhelming sight first thing in the morning.  Luckily she had some candles perched on top of her waffle waiting for a wish and plus there were a couple of presents.  One was just a little notebook and some pens but the other was a fancy little set of four tiny tea cups I found at a vintage shop - I was there looking for teacher gifts and though I failed miserably to find them (more on that in the next post) I did see these cunning little things and knew Bundle would love them.  She did.  And we sipped our hot COCOA out of them.  Well, everyone but her.  She didn't touch hers.

After we got the big kids off to their second-to-last day of school we frosted some cupcakes and headed to the park where we were joined by a bunch of sluffing teenagers whom we scared away and then by a several of Bundle's friends.  The friends, those who were there early enough, all decided that nothing was as important as those cupcakes and demanded an instant singing of the birthday song.  I am not sure if I can describe this next bit but I will try. Three moms sitting on the steps of a concrete pavilion, pressed in by four little kids, each clambering to get their fingers on a candle to shove in a cupcake.  Thus the candles were not artfully nor symmetrically placed (as I would have done) but they all made it into a cupcake.  We sang and as we neared the climax of "Happy Birthday Dear...." you could see each child take a deep breath in, preparing for Bundle's triumphant extinguishing of the candles.  Bundle could feel it too and she stopped us all.  She put her hands out to get our attention.  "You GUYS," she said slowly and emphatically, "Clair, Emily, Joseph...my FRIENDS.  Let's all blow them out TOGETHER." She sounded like Julius Caesar or someone.  It was hilarious.  The two other moms and I laughed so hard we didn't even see the candles get blown.





So; park, lunch at Wendy's and then home to pick up the big kids.  We relaxed, ate leftover cupcakes and tried to clean up the house for a bit.  Then I took the kids to see Epic, a charming cartoon which we all enjoyed.  We zipped home just in time to throw together Bundle's requested supper of spaghetti and meatballs, supplemented with garlic bread and salad, as grandparents and one sweet and also hungry niece came to enjoy the beautiful spring evening.  We also enjoyed one darling little four year old who exclaimed as she opened a present or two that she was very grown up and that her gifts were meant for big kids like her and not three year olds.






Here is Bundle wearing her new very fancy nightgown (she wore it all that evening, all that night, part of the next day, the next night and all day today.  And she's still wearing it as she sleeps tonight.  I did manage to get one washing in there despite her pleas to keep it on). In the photo she is using the one toy  she actually had mentioned at least once in the past few months - a Merida bow and arrow (from the Pixar movie Brave.)  Note its purpleness.  The birthday girl couldn't have been any happier.  Phew.  (And no attempts at theme cakes this year - I may be on to something.)

Love you, birthday girl.  See you in about an hour and half when you come get in my bed.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Tribute to Bundle



What a kill this little gal is.  She is certainly providing me with plenty of good company, entertainment, a LOT of questions and most notably; requests to play pretend.  I am becoming quite adept at pretending to find "a purple and rainbow kitty with silver spots that you name Rainbow Dot and I'm two but you don't know me yet so you have to ask your mom if you can have me and how old are you and what is your name in the game?"  I have also increased my skill at finding ways to avoid this game from time to time since the game in its entirety lasts about 90 seconds and as soon as it is over she wants to repeat it.  All. Day. Long.

Bundle had a great year in preschool this year.  To be perfectly honest, I wasn't too sure about how much she was going to learn - it was just two days a week for a couple of hours but she totally loved it and she is now quite focused on reading skills, sounding out words and writing her letters.  I have been very happy.  On her last day her class put on a charming little program with lots of songs and poems and then a little graduation ceremony in which the kids walked over a little bridge to receive a diploma, candy lei and have their name announced.  As each child did so, a small biography was read sharing some fun details about the child.  Bundle's biography included the fact that when she grows up she would like to be a Bird Dentist.  That got a lot of laughs, almost as many as the kids who wanted to grow up to be a baby, a hand, and someone who would like to look at the insides of coconuts.  Hilarious.



Miss Celeste



Also big on Bundle's list of favorites is dancing.  She finished up another session of dancing with Miss Kim and she is very enthusiastic about dancing in all sorts of interesting times and places.  The big kids have a group cello class once a month at a little church building and Bundle always has to be dragged along for the ride.  Her favorite way to entertain herself is to bring me outside on the front steps and ask me to record her doing dances.  






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