Sunday, March 30, 2008

Need a Laugh?

My Aunt Dott, Uncle Randy, and my “kinda cousins” Troy, Teya, Loni and their spouses just returned from a dive trip to Kauai. Those of you in the family will appreciate how hilarious this truly is. Those of you who don’t know Randy…well, it’s still pretty hilarious. (For those of you who don’t know Randy and Dott, refer back to this post for a picture of their decorated giraffe at Christmas time.) For some pretty hysterical laughs, check out Randy vs. the Coconut on Troy’s blog. (Just so you know, the fun really begins at about stick with it - or fast forward.)

Also on Troy’s blog, you can watch this cool video they took of the whales off of the Na Pali coast from the dive boat. The whales should still be hanging around Hawaii when we're there (supposedly through May), so we're hoping for some great views, too.

And our own update...we go in 24 days! If you see us before we go, ask Ryan to sing the "humuhumunukunukuapua'a" song. We've been singing it together - A LOT - and it is also pretty darn funny.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bizarre Talents

Those of you that have known me for a while know that I have a few amusing talents that I only share during boring parties, those “two truths and a lie” games, or work talent shows where half of the audience has had a couple of drinks and thinks everything is hysterical. So it should have come as no surprise a couple of days ago when Ryan said, “Mom, do you know that I can put my whole fist in my mouth?” Sure enough…My next question was the obvious one: “How, exactly, did you figure out that you could do that?” His response? “I don’t know…I just did.” Again, I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s the same answer I give when people ask me how, exactly, I figured out that I can hold a pen with my top lip and a pencil with my bottom lip at the same time.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our Own March Madness

Since our team lost in their first-round game last week, we haven’t watched another basketball game on TV. Instead, we have created our own version of March Madness, with many different versions of the game of basketball. The specific game depends on the weather and the time of day.

First thing in the morning (while still in our pajamas and usually before breakfast), Ryan and I play “pajama ball.” We have an enclosed porch on the back of our house which holds bikes, scooters, various sporting equipment, and our 72-hour backpacks. It is also where we keep Ryan’s indoor basketball standard. His favorite thing upon waking in the morning is an energetic get-the-heart-pumping game of basketball on the porch. He likes it when I watch him, but he loves it when I play with him. There have been many Saturday mornings when I am looking forward to sleeping in, when (as I am lying in bed at 7:30 a.m.) I hear bounce-bounce-bounce…kerthunk… “Yea!” Bounce-bounce-bounce…kerthunk… “Yea!” Bounce-bounce-bounce…kerthunk… “Yea! Mom! Come and watch this awesome shot!” So much for sleeping in.

A slightly different version can be played at any time of day (not in pajamas) when it is raining, snowing, or otherwise not pleasant enough to play outside. The porch is not heated, and is extremely chilly in the early morning hours or winter weather, but it’s better than playing outside (or not playing at all).

We have a double driveway. One side has a basketball standard. There is a flat parcel of concrete big enough for a car or two. Then our driveway slopes sharply down a hill; a hill which continues all the way down the street in front of our house (we are at the top of a “T” intersection). This week was Ryan’s Spring Break. Since we finally had some warm weather, we spent a lot of time playing basketball outside. We had a great time playing; cheered for each other when we made awesome shots, and teased each other about a few air balls. And, just in case a normal game of basketball didn’t provide enough exercise, if one of us missed a pass, or if the ball hit the backboard too hard, our basketball game became more of a get-the-ball-before-it’s-a-mile-down-the-hill game.

So, if your team is no longer in the big dance and you’re going through basketball withdrawal, you’re welcome to come and shoot hoops with us.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Weekend

We had a wonderful Easter weekend with family and friends. Saturday morning, we started with a pajama party at church (sorry, no pictures). There was a yummy breakfast and a lot of great activities for the kids, including marking their scriptures and making their own journals.

Saturday afternoon, we were invited to a party at the home of our friends, the Paxtons. We had a yummy lunch with different soups and breads and crackers, then the kids had an Easter egg hunt. There were nine boys and one girl, so it was a little crazy. The kids enjoyed finding Nerf toys, puzzles, games, model kits, pencils, and eggs filled with little toys and money! Not much candy – a big yea for moms (and dentists)!
Sunday, Ryan and I attended church, and also enjoyed reading some of our books and scriptures about what Easter really celebrates. I always try to keep that as our focus as much as possible on Easter Sunday.
Sunday after church, we had our family Easter dinner. My dad is the bishop of a young adult singles ward (church congregation), and there was a guy from his ward that didn’t have a place to go for Easter dinner, so he joined us. Ryan, being the only grandkid at the moment (more about this in a minute), enjoyed his less-chaotic Easter egg hunt at Rara & Papa’s. Quite a difference from Saturday’s! (And even though we won’t readily admit it, Marc & Frances & I still really like the egg hunt, too. The green eggs containing money help.) We especially enjoyed sitting around the dining room table planning our itinerary for Hawaii. I know none of you are keeping track of the countdown like I am…we go one month from today! But the greatest Easter present was Marc & Frances’ present to Rara & Papa – an ultrasound picture labeled “Baby 1” and “Baby 2.” Yep, Marc & Frances are expecting TWINS!

Oh, yes…the Easter Bunny also made a visit to our house, and we also did the traditional egg dyeing. We don’t do a lot, since only one of us eats eggs.

Even though Easter was early this year, we enjoyed mostly warmish, sunny weather for all of our activities. It was a great weekend.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Friday – Tabernacle Choir Easter Concert

Our family had the opportunity to attend the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Easter concert – the production “The Redeemer” by Robert Cundick. All tickets were general admission seating, so we made sure we were at Temple Square a while before they opened the doors. We saw several people we knew in the line, and enjoyed visiting with them until we were able to go into the Tabernacle. Ryan took his new cub scout Wolf book to read while we waited.
The program was amazing. Many of you recognize Robert Cundick’s name. He was the Tabernacle organist for 27 years. He composed “The Redeemer” in a 10 WEEK period in 1977. It was fun to watch Ryan as his appreciation of music is growing. He recognized the patterns throughout the production; for example, every time the man portraying Jesus Christ sang, it started with the same melody and first few words. It was also fun to watch Ryan feel the different emotions portrayed within the program. It was obvious that he was experiencing all of the emotions that the program was designed to instill in the audience.
It was a beautiful program, and we were very lucky to be able to attend. It started our Easter weekend off perfectly.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My Favorite “Ryanism” of the Week

Ryan’s best friend, Ben, was out of school sick all week. One day in the middle of the week, Ryan told me why he hoped Ben would be back at school the next day…

“Because when Ben isn’t at school, the girls only chase me.”

I chuckled AFTER he left the room.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Cool News from Hawaii

So, really, this is my friend Kevin’s cool news. But since: 1 – so many of you know Kevin, and 2 – he is so humble that he only sent this to FOUR people, I’m taking it upon myself to spread the word. Feel free to congratulate him when you talk with him next. :)

Kevin sent me this e-mail tonight:


Well, I finished my big race Saturday. It was called the Run to the Sun, on Maui, and it started at sea level (the Maui Mall in Kahului) and finished 36.4 miles later at the top of Haleakala crater, 10,023 feet above sea level.

This was my first "ultra marathon," so I was a bit nervous as to how I'd do. I'd also never been to Maui before, and hadn't seen 10,000 feet since I'd lived in Colorado many years ago. My goal was to finish in 8 hours or so, and have fun.

To make a long story short, I did much better than that, and actually won the race! I finished in 5 hours 28 minutes and 38 seconds, which is the best finishing time in 13 years, they tell me. I beat the second-place finisher by 40 minutes.

It was a wonderful experience, and I don't think I'll ever do it again. :)

Take care!


Yea, I’m planning to go from the Maui Mall to the Haleakala Crater when we’re there next month…IN A CAR!

Good job, Kevin! That’s awesome!


I had two “Already?” moments today.

First, Ryan’s soccer season started today. I know! Already?! It’s still only in the 40s for daytime highs, and we got a skiff of snow last night! Luckily, we had the “early” game from 5:00 to 6:00. So with the sun still up, at least we hadn’t yet dipped into the sub-zero temperatures. And it didn’t snow, which is always good. (Yes, it has before. Yes, they keep playing.)

Ryan is a great little soccer player. He was only inches away from scoring a goal…twice! Everyone kept saying that the score was 3 to 0, but ALMOST 5 to 0! He had a third attempt that was only a couple of feet away. He came so close so many times! (He is #1 and has the red cleats in the pictures.)

As soon as Ry’s soccer game ended at 6:00, we ate a quick, not-very-healthy dinner in the car, and headed for our church (on the opposite side of town). One of us changed clothes in the car, the other changed in the church bathroom. I’ll let you guess which was which.

Pack meeting was at 6:30. You all know that I am the Wolf den leader in cub scouts. For two years now, we have often rushed from Ryan’s soccer games to pack meeting. But before now, Ryan was able to just stay in his soccer uniform and hide in the back of the room during pack meeting. Not today. This was my second “Already?” moment of the day. My little bub was officially welcomed into cub scouts, and I was the one that got to do it! Since he has been attending den meetings and pack meetings with me for over two years, it was probably more of a “Finally!” moment for him. He FINALLY gets to actually receive the awards for the things he is doing. But for me, it’s hard to believe that my baby is already a cub scout. I guess that’s a fairly common mom sentiment as kids grow up.
I also realized today that maybe I don’t dislike winter as much as I thought. Wintertime for our family means quiet, relaxing weeknights at home (for the most part), dinner at home, homework done, and the little person in our house in bed on time. As much as I love it when Spring finally arrives, it also means a return to our considerably more hectic lifestyle.

On that note, I’ve got to end. MY homework calls.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The All-Green St. Patrick’s Day Meal

For the first 32 years of my life, I teased my mom about the St. Patrick’s Day meal that she presented to us every year. I know some families do corned beef and cabbage for their traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal. Being of Polish descent, corned beef and cabbage was not exactly unusual enough for the day. No, my mom did the all-green meal. And when I say “all green,” it was truly all green. It was always hilarious to me how much time she spent rounding up so many green things. (And what she couldn’t FIND green, she MADE green!)

What happened at that 32-year mark of my life? Why did I no longer tease my mother? I became a mother. I now completely understand the amusement of going up and down every aisle in the grocery store finding green items for the St. Patrick’s Day meal. I understand the entertainment of presenting my child with a plate of green food (on green plates on a green tablecloth with a green shamrock centerpiece and green shamrock napkins). I also understand that when my child says, “You have GOT to be kidding me,” what he really means is, “That’s so cool that you took the time to put this hilarious meal together. You must really love me.” To be perfectly honest, that’s what I really meant when I teased my mom, too.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Farmington Bay

Wednesday I took my cub scouts (and Ryan – not yet an official cub scout) to Farmington Bay. The last time our family was there (for Bald Eagle Day), we drove around on snow-packed roads. Wednesday was a beautiful Spring day. The snow had melted and the weather was warm.

We started with a presentation by the wildlife conservation officer, then spent some time viewing birds through binoculars and scopes from the viewing deck. We again had the opportunity to drive around the bay to view all of the birds closer to the water. We saw about a dozen different types of birds, and the boys loved it.

I took a bunch of pictures, but these are my two favorites.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Typical Conversation with My Child

Ryan and I read from three books together every night, one of them being whichever Magic Tree House book we’re on. We are now up to #18 – “Buffalo Before Breakfast.” Here was some of tonight’s conversation after we read:

“Mom, what’s buckskin? Oh, wait! Isn’t that what Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett wore? Like animal skin?”


“Mom, who’s on the ten dollar bill?”

“Alexander Hamilton.”

“Was he the prophet when Davy Crockett was alive?”

“You mean the president of the United States?”

“Oh, yea, the president, not the prophet. No, wait, that wasn’t Alexander Hamilton, that was Andrew Jackson. Which dollar bill is he on?”

“The twenty.”

“Oh, yea, the twenty. I know what I can do instead of Mississippi now. Banana!”

“You mean when you count?”


My family was laughing at Ryan and me the other day. We were having a similarly patterned conversation, and no one had any idea what Ryan was talking about, yet I understood him perfectly. They thought it was pretty funny that I needed to be Ryan’s interpreter. We decided that it’s kind of like when babies are learning to talk. Their own mothers understand them perfectly, but to others (even other mothers), it’s all jibberish.

Another One!

Sydni sent me this “tagging” questionnaire today. I actually really love these, I just always feel guilty passing them on. So, here’s the deal…I’ll post my answers, but won’t “tag” anyone specific. If you read this & want to play along, just post your answers on your own blog, and let us know in the comments of mine. Then we can all go and read them. How’s that?

Welcome to the 2008 edition of getting to know your friends. The theory is that you will learn a lot of little things about your friends that you might not have known!

1. What time did you get up this morning?
The middle of the night - couldn't sleep
2. Diamonds or pearls?
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Does IMAX 3-D count? Those were my last three.
4. What is your favorite TV show?
CSI Las Vegas
5. What do you usually have for breakfast?
Pumpkin seed/flaxseed granola with fresh blueberries and soy milk. Mmmmm!
6. What is your middle name?
7. What food do you dislike?
Gritty seafood (I know, now you all dislike it.)
8. Your favorite CD at moment?
Tabernacle Choir – Then Sings My Soul
9. What kind of car do you drive?
Honda Pilot
10. Favorite sandwich?
Turkey avocado
11. What characteristic do you despise?
12. Favorite item of clothing?
Suede skirt
13. If you could go anywhere in the world, on vacation, where would you go?
14. Favorite brand of clothing?
Coldwater Creek
15. Where would you retire to?
Kauai, Hawaii
16. What was your most recent memorable birthday?
Last year – went to General Conference on my 40th birthday.
17. Favorite sport to watch?
18. Furthest place you are sending this?
Maryland, Florida, Hawaii
19. When is your birthday?
October 7
20. Are you a morning person or a night person?
21. What is your shoe size?
7 1/2
22. Pets?
23. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us?
24. What did you want to be when you were little?
A mom and a teacher. (Isn’t it great how that worked out?)
25. How are you today?
26. What is your favorite candy?
Anything chocolate
27. What is your favorite flower?
Daffodils and daisies
28. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to?
April 23 – leave for Hawaii
29. What is your full name?
Melanie Kaye Inman Olson
30. What are you listening to right now?
Birds outside :)
31. What was the last thing you ate?
Grilled chicken salad
32. Do you wish on stars?
33. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Forest Green
34. How is the weather right now?
35. Last person you spoke to on the phone?
One of my students
36. Favorite soft drink?
Don’t drink soft drinks
37. Favorite restaurant?
ThaiFoon or Rino’s
38. Hair color?
Reddish brown
39. What was your favorite toy as a child?
Any doll with her own wardrobe
40. Summer or winter?
41. Hugs or Kisses?
42. Chocolate or Vanilla?
43. Coffee or Tea?
44. The last time you cried?
45. What is under your bed?
My violin
46. What did you do last night?
Family Home Evening, homework, talked on the phone
47. What are you afraid of?
Anything happening to Ryan
48. Salty or Sweet?
It depends on what & when
49. How many keys on your keyring?
50. How many years at your current job?
3 1/2
51. Favorite day of the week?
52. How many towns have you lived in?
53. Do you make friends easily?
54. Fondest memories?
Childhood family vacations, Ryan’s birth, recent family vacations (especially Italy and Hawaii)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!

I am so lucky to have such an awesome dad! Being that I’m his only daughter, we have always had a very special relationship. He has always provided me with the guidance, direction, support, encouragement, and love that I have needed. Especially the past six years, I have relied on his wisdom, his insights, his blessings, and his unconditional love. I don’t know how I would have made it through the past few years without him. I am so proud to be his daughter.

Here are the highlights of the day:

As most of you know, Ryan has a talent for pulling his loose teeth on special days or in cool places. Last year he pulled a tooth on my dad's birthday. Well, this afternoon we went to Deseret Book to grab a couple of books for my dad. As we were walking in, Ryan said, “Mom, did you know that I have another loose tooth?” He went to look at some of the kids’ books while I got the books for my dad. A few minutes later, Ryan came up to me holding his tooth in his hand, with this big grin on his face. He immediately called Papa to tell him that he not only pulled ANOTHER tooth on ANOTHER birthday, but that he pulled it in Deseret Book. What a crack up!

Our family celebrated Papa’s 67th birthday at Ruth’s Chris Steak House for dinner. None of us had ever been there before. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. Normally, steak is not at the top of my favorite foods list, but this was good stuff. If that’s how steak was every time, I’d definitely eat it more often. I, of course, had the “surf and turf.” I got my steak “Louie” style with crab, asparagus, and bĂ©arnaise sauce, with shrimp on the side. Mmmmmm!!! It’s always fun to be together as a family and to catch up with everything that is going on with everybody.

I hope you had a great day, Dad! I love you!

…And My Little Naturalist

So, approximately 12 hours after I wrote the previous post about Ryan’s rough-and-tumble ways, he did the cutest thing that I have to share.

This morning, he was ready to go before I was. He was anxious to get outside, so I told him to go ahead and go outside and wait for me, that I would just be another minute. He went outside, leaving the door open. As I was putting on my shoes and coat, I could hear him having a little conversation with a chickadee. Ryan knows several bird calls, and “talks” with the quail and chickadees in our yard quite frequently. So, this morning, he would whistle to the chickadee, and the chickadee would answer. It was so cute that I just stood by the door where he couldn’t see me and listened for a while.

As I walked out the door, he said (to the chickadee), “I’d love to stay and talk longer, but I have to go to school.” He has made a new friend. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My All-Boy Boy and His Chipped Tooth

From the time Ryan was just a baby, he has been SUCH a boy! He was drawn to any ball, truck, car, tool, or thing that made noise from the time he was tiny. He has also always been very physical, athletic, and competitive. When we made our first trip to the emergency room at about 15 months of age for a gash in the forehead (yes, Melissa, we’ve also done the Harry Potter scars), I had the feeling that was just the beginning of my trips to the emergency room with him. Luckily, we’ve done pretty well so far.

Ryan loves to wrestle with anyone who is willing. No, let me rephrase that…with anyone who will allow it. Most of us aren’t exactly willing. (Although Marc and Ryan have played “Smash the Baby” – their version of steamroller – since Ryan was about 2, and Marc seems to enjoy it as much as Ryan.) Ryan’s latest show of love for me is a new addition to his bedtime routine. After we say his prayers, while I’m still kneeling, he says, “Mom, be strong!” Then he gets a running start, hits me full-on, and tries to knock me over. I’m not kidding. I’ve been going to the gym pretty regularly for quite a while now, so I can usually stay up. Unfortunately, this only encourages him to try another run at it. This fun little activity is then repeated until I finally fall over in agony. This has been going on for about a month now. Don’t ask me why I didn’t stop it the first time. I guess it didn’t occur to me that it would become part of our nightly routine!

So…in P.E. at school, Ryan’s class was playing a team relay game with bowling pins. Again, let me mention how competitive Ryan is. Apparently he was the last person on his team to go through the relay. He ended up winning the game for his team. Several of his friends then dog-piled him in celebration. In all of the celebratory roughhousing, one of his front teeth got chipped. He didn’t notice until later, when the sharp edge gouged his tongue. It’s a good thing our bishop is our dentist! It looks like we'll be making a visit soon.

Monday, March 3, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Most of you bloggers know the variety of ways you can be tagged. They all require you to do something (usually answering some questions that tell something about yourself), and then pass it on. Melissa, a friend, neighbor, and fellow teacher, tagged me with this one:

Here are the Rules of the Tag:
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next five sentences.
5. Tag five people.

Sadly, I didn’t get Melissa’s tag when I was enjoying my week off of school and doing some reading for fun. I’m back to reading for school (which, of course, was the nearest book). So, I’m back to being boring again! On the other hand, a lot of my blog readers are also educators, so you may actually like it. Or not. Here goes…

My book:
Psychology of Learning for Instruction

My five sentences:
By 1978, Ausubel had adopted the label assimilation theory to describe the meaningful learning processes of subsumption, superordinate learning, and combinatorial learning. In earlier versions of the theory, assimilation referred primarily to the process of retention, whereby new information tends to be reduced to (or assimilated by) the meaning of the stable, more established anchoring idea. Although Ausubel’s notions of what happens in retention changed little, which will be discussed in the next section, he came to use the concept of assimilation more broadly. Taking together learning and retention, “The result of the interaction that takes place between the new material to be learned and the existing cognitive structure is an assimilation of old and new meanings to form a more highly differentiated cognitive structure.”

SHEESH! That’s only four sentences! Someone needs to work on being a little more concise in their writing! Did you get all of that? That’s the end of that section, so I won’t torture you with a fifth sentence. We’ll call it good there.

I tag Kristin, Laurel, Martina, Cindy, and Blake (since you were excited to visit my blog to see my 1987 picture, anyway). PLEASE find more entertaining books than mine! I’ll get Melissa back when the next tagging game comes around. :)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Week "Off"

Several of you have teased me about how I spent my week off of school. I had a class that ended last Sunday, and I start a new one tomorrow. I still had to work every day, but without homework in the evenings, I made the most of my time. Here’s what I did in the evenings and over the weekend this week (in no particular order): painted the master bathroom, did my taxes, had dinner with my parents, had my piano tuned, conducted a new student orientation, helped Ryan with a report on bald eagles, helped Ryan prepare a talk for Primary, watched a couple of movies, read a couple of books (not school books!), watched two Jazz games, listened to one BYU game, went to one BYU game, got my hair cut, had dinner and visited with my former roommate, spent some time with other good friends, attended a baptism, went shopping at Cabela’s, planted about 50 bulbs in my front yard (BEFORE the three new inches of snow), and got a massage.

If I weren’t so close to being done with school, I’d be tempted to take more weeks off! I could get used to this “free time” stuff! Alas, back to the grindstone.