Thursday, February 25, 2010

Two Roads Diverged

The short version of this story is that we have four days to decide whether to move to Washington DC, or to Phoenix Arizona.

I will spare you the details, except to say that Jack has received two job offers, that we are very grateful of course, but for the last couple of days have felt like our little family is standing somewhere like this,

glancing to the left then to the right, then the left and then the right again, wishing someone would just post a giant arrow already telling us which path to take.

On the one hand, we are so excited about Arizona. Both born and raised there, the move would mean back after 12 years to old friends and familiar places, close to Sun Devil Stadium and Jack’s amazing family. But then, just as we start to pack up in our minds and head that direction, we glance down the other road, and we see a great job opportunity, and new friends and new adventures. We see the kids visiting Capitol Hill and they look so cute, standing there, smiling, protesting publicly-funded healthcare.

Hot summers or snowy winters? Affordable housing, or east coast tourism? Until one path becomes clear, we have been exhausting all of our decision making capabilities – fasting, prayer, coin tossing. Modern technology has also proved an invaluable debate resource. Jack spends much of his time on Excel, configuring extensive comparative spreadsheets. I spend much of my time on Google, mapping out and proximities to Costco, Target, and Chick Fil-A.

At one point, hoping for an 'out of the mouth of babes' type experience, we even tried asking Jolie to decide for us. She picked Arizona. When asked why, she said, "Because Grandpa Jack speaks English." (I don't think this was a revelatory miracle. I think she's frustrated some of her favorite classmates don't speak a lick. Plus, the second she found out that people build snowmen in DC, she switched her vote.)

I am hoping that you can be more helpful. The clock is ticking, and we are stumped.

Advice, please?

Or votes?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Class Valentines

My mom likes to say that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Can you guess which kindergarten Valentine box was made by her granddaughter?

The class was told they could decorate their boxes with crayons and stickers. So, Jolie used crayons and stickers. And ribbon. And craft foam. And flowers. And tinsel. And melting beads. And her rock collection. And a picture of herself. In addition to Grandma Susan's influence, I suppose credit should also be given to Jack, from whom she picked up the phrase, "Go big or go home."

This has been our first experience with class Valentines. While the boxes were all holiday fun, the cards themselves were like trying to fill out a 1040. Two weeks in advance the teacher provided us with the following instructions:

* Valentines must be in envelopes
* Envelopes must fit into designated slot
* Typed name and address labels glued to the center
* Pretend stamps adhered to the upper right hand corner
* No candy, etc. etc.

My friend Lee, a professional education reformist who apparently makes house calls, stopped by while we were tackling the labels and suggested that the assignment was creatively stifling. Or something like that.

Not wanting to find out what sort of dismal academic trajectory that might set us on, I decided to forgo the Tinkerbell Valentines from Walgreens, in favor of something more expressive.

I consulted Lorie, Jack's cousin and founder of the the fabulous Be Different Act Normal, and she suggested making Photoshop Valentines. So I snapped a picture,

and made this.

Then, thinking it could use a little something extra, I sat Jolie down at the computer and showed her how to add basic clipart images. If she would like, I told her, she could drag a few little details onto her Valentine to make it special. Hearts, flowers, etc. And so, she went to work.

And then the phone rang.

And then Cal woke up from his nap.

And then Jack got home.

And then I started making dinner.

And I forgot all about the Photoshop Valentine. Until she called me over to the computer to proudly unveil this:

Oh, boy.

Is this the price we pay to encourage creative expression? Because let's be honest, that thing is hideous. I had to seriously swallow my pride when I uploaded it to Costco and ordered 30 prints.

For the record, that's 60 digital macaws, 30 black crows, 60 brown dogs, 30 puke orange collies,

And one enormously proud kindergartner, off to school to wow her friends.

Happy Valentines Day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Let your light so shiner


The bruise on Leah's face was incurred:

(A) During an encounter with a bully,

(B) In an unfortunate playground accident, or

(C) While serving as the reverence child.

If you have ever met Leah, the answer is obviously "C." She is the only Sunbeam I know capable of sustaining facial injuries in an attempt to model reverent behavior.

For those unfamiliar with LDS culture, it is traditional each Sunday to invite two particularly adorable primary-age children to stand at the front of the chapel and fold their arms, reminding the congregation to reverently prepare themselves for sacrament meeting.

(It is also generally considered inappropriate to snap pictures with your cell phone before worship services. But let's not fret over details.)

So last week, my girls were called to duty. This was no small feat, as Jack was in DC and curtain call is 8:50 am, but we made it on time and things actually started out very well. Leah's arms remained folded for a good 2 or 3 minutes before the boredom kicked in. Then she transitioned to waving, then winking, and then double thumbs up. Just as she was hitting her stride, a member of the bishopric mercifully started the meeting, thanked the girls, and invited them to return to their seats.

Leah, likely assumming that she would receive gum as payoff for her mad reverence skills, responded to the invitation like a starting gun. She ran full speed toward the stairs without looking, slammed her face into the music stand, and was knocked to the ground. Jolie (mortified) helped her to her feet, then she continued racing toward our bench unfazed.

By the time she arrived at sharing time, the bruise had appeared like a badge of glory. Just in time for the primary president to award her highest honor to date - a sticker that says, "I can be reverent."

A Brother Like No Other

(Written by my mother Susan Foutz, who would like to clarify that she actually has two brothers like no other ) If you lived in Arizona in t...