Jul 30, 2009

Coping....I mean, camping

Since January, I have been fretting about being in charge of the ward camp-out.

Since April, I have been full-out worrying.

Since June, I have been growing an ulcer.

Since July, I have been hyperventilating.

{Note: This is not a good way to live.}

And now I am here to say that worrying, in all its stress-inducing forms, is highly overrated. Things have a way of working out.

The annual ward camp-out, held last weekend at the B-52 campground on the Air Force Academy Base, was great. The best parts? I wasn't in charge, and I didn't camp.

This is an odd combo for the ward activities director, right? Well, the bishopric had compassion for my poor nerves, and for my life with two babies. I created the advertising...

...and they did the rest, along with the fabulous Dale (the token member of my committee who was available - he also happens to be a retired gourmet chef).

Thanks to their efforts, the camp-out included a delectable feast of barbecue ribs and Dutch oven potatoes, pot-luck side dishes and desserts, and campfire singing. Children ran about, playing with rocks and dirt and exploring the trails. Adults visited. And a handful of families camped overnight.

My little family enjoyed the evening festivities, and then Garry shared a tent with Zachary and Tyler while I took the Littles home to sleep. What a glorious arrangement! When the guys got home Saturday morning, Garry was exhausted and the boys gave a rave review. Apparently the ward camp-out was what everyone expected this year!

Here are a few photos from Friday night, courtesy of the lovely Adri, who didn't know she'd have an assignment from the activities committee when she showed up. Thanks, friend!

Rocks and dirt and sticks seemed to provide lots of entertainment for these kids.

Girls have to stick together.

This girl likes to stick to me.

I am definitely a fan of these girls - and everyone who came to the camp-out!

Hearing our Bishop and Brother Bair sing "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash
was truly a highlight of the evening!

After exhausting her camp song repertoire, Sister Jack took requests.
I suggested Old MacDonald, which is Gavin's favorite. It was a hit.
After that the Bishop asked if anyone had a scary story to share.
I offered to tell about my day (similar to this one), but people just laughed -- no one wanted to hear it!

I think Brother Bair had the right idea at the end of the day!

Thanks to all who made the camp-out a success. It wouldn't have happened without you!

Jul 27, 2009

For Emily

Tonight I got the best blog comment ever from my cousin:

>>>I have to admit, I'm always disappointed when I don't see a new post
from you every day. I remind myself that I need to cut you a wee bit of
slack (ya know, with the whole being-a-mom-to-4-kids-thing), but I quite
enjoy your blog!<<<

Here's a picture that demonstrates why blogging isn't as prominent a feature in my life as it was in the past:

{Something very similar is happening at this very moment,
and usually, three loud and crazy boys are circling
the island like so many hungry sharks.}

I actually really like this picture. It speaks volumes about my life.

{Here's the Cliff's Notes version}
  • I recently moved the laptop into the kitchen, even though we have a room downstairs dedicated for office-type stuff. A wireless network allows for kitchen internet access, and I like being able to do computer stuff where all the family action is. I never go into the office any more. I would like to move all of that equipment to an upstairs bedroom, but that sounds like too much work.
  • Lexi is often nursed, burped, swaddled, and consoled in front of the computer. This probably makes me a bad mother, but I am also a more sane mother than I otherwise would be. Right now, the computer is my link/lifeline to the outside world. E-mail = gold. (Hint, hint.)
  • I am wearing my very favorite pajamas. You can't see the pants, but they have pink and white stripes and are the most comfortable things in the world. Comfort is a key ingredient of postpartum frump.
  • I spend too much time on Facebook. Why? I don't know. I am well aware that I should be doing more productive things. In this picture I am instant messaging with my mother. IM is one of Facebook's best features, IMHO.
  • In an effort to reduce our astronomical water bill, we cut back on how often we water the lawn. It is suffering. Boo.
  • In the background, I see a satellite receiver, power tools, Windex, a baby monitor, a digital clock, and an empty apple juice bottle. They are remnants of a broken television, an outside fence fix, a car-washing project, a boy who moved into a big boy bed, a recent room swap, and the ward camp-out. Busy life + distracted Mom = clutter.
  • I also see my cute drapes hanging next to the dishwasher. The picture isn't too clear, but they are adorable, and very much what I envisioned before I made them. I love the color and dimension they add to this room. And yet they are far from perfect. The lower portion of that particular drape is hopelessly crooked and it bothers me every single time I look at it. Perhaps there will be a season of my life when I am capable of fixing it, but this is not that season! I also hope to one day fashion a drape of similar makeup for the naked window in the room. I made two out of three window coverings before running out of steam.
  • The happy yellow paint, however, makes me smile every single day...without fail. Love it! I have one awesome husband for doing all that painting for me.
Aside from the time and baby factors, one reason I'm not blogging as much (although I do blog a very respectable amount, if you ask me) is that I just don't have as much to say! But it's nice to know that at least one reader has missed me. :)


At 5:00 the boys came inside after a few hours of playing with their friends. I reminded them that they needed to finish their daily chores. Since they knew they got off easy this morning by getting to play before finishing their work, they didn't need much prodding.

The last item on Zach's list was his act of service. He asked for a suggestion. I told him he could make dinner for me.

"Okay!" he exclaimed. "What can I make?!" I laughed and told him I'd do it, but he was so eager. He thought maybe burritos would be good, but ultimately decided on peanut butter sandwiches. I loved watching Zach lay out the bread, assembly-line style, and then get to work. Under my direction (I was nursing) he also made fruit smoothies. What a feast we will have! I'm excited!

This reminded me of a moment earlier today, when Gavin raided the hall closet. I was nursing Lexi on the couch and was about to get after him for grabbing the Windex...but he also grabbed a rag! The sweet boy sprayed and wiped the window for ten minutes. Could I really complain?

I am especially fond of Gavin's outfit, aren't you? He was fully dressed at one point.

Jul 25, 2009

Photographic evidence

I have not been taking many pictures lately. Something about the craziness of daily family life makes me less capable of documenting it, but occasionally I resurrect old habits. These pictures are proof that certain things are part of life.

In Lexi's world, we have been favored with lots of smiles and coos. Of course we LOVE this. Lexi is spending more of her days in an alert fashion, awake and looking at the world. (Thus far she has been a very sleepy baby.) We are falling into a good routine that includes 7-8 hours of sleep for me every night. Gavin's affection for his sister continues, although he also loves her binky. Zachary is very good to pick Lexi up when she cries. I get nervous when he walks around with her, but he has reasonably good instincts.

In Gavin's world, we have been exasperated by a heightened level of mischief and messes. Oh, this boy! I wonder some days how we will survive. I am grateful for a dear friend who lets me vent to her (mostly via email). Here are two excerpts about Gavin from Thursday:

I am somewhat beside myself at the moment. I spent a good portion of the afternoon cleaning up the kitchen and sweeping and mopping the floor. The floor was an especially giant undertaking, given its condition (imagine a mixture of milk, cottage cheese, root beer, yogurt, and ground up cereal and crackers splatted all around the table). I finally finished around 4:30. Now it is 6:45. We just finished dinner and Garry left for home teaching. As I was clearing the dishes, I heard what sounded like rushing water. I couldn’t figure it out, but it seemed to be coming from the dining room. I found Gavin sitting on the table, pouring the last of a full two liters of Sprite into a very small cup. It was all over him, the table, several chairs, and the floor. I grabbed the empty bottle and the full cup, and while I transferred them to the sink, Gavin fell off the table and cut his lip with his teeth. He almost passed out, he was crying so hard.

[then later]

The “catastrophic scene” I attempted to describe to Garry was not, of course, a real catastrophe, but rather another series of Gavin-induced messes that reduced me to shreds today. He completely wrecked Lexi’s bedroom while I was nursing her in the rocking chair (emptied drawers and closet shelves and laundry hamper, climbed in and fell out of the crib, scaled the dresser, knocked things off the walls, broke the lamp). Then he followed me into the kitchen, where I attempted to straighten up. I didn’t have my TV babysitter and he wasn’t interested in toys, even if I played with him. So he set about trying to destroy the kitchen. He has figured out that if he rattles the locked cabinet doors hard enough, the locks pop open. So BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG-MESS! Then I stoop to clean/rescue, and he moves on to the next cupboard, and I attempt to thwart (and laugh uncontrollably - my new reaction). He laughs and moves on. This went on and on. He was especially determined to access the cupboards next to the pantry, which house light bulbs, candles, cake decorating stuff – lots of breakables and messy things. We went back and forth a few times, and I made a last-ditch, desperate attempt to block both cupboards with my body. I was horizontal on the floor. So he pulled my hair – a great big fistful. I yelped and moved, and he dove straight for the cupboard! Retelling it, I can’t believe I didn’t just relocate the two of us…but where? We are without a safe zone, even at home! I finally remembered that we have a portable crib, so I pulled that out of a closet and set it up in the kitchen. He spent more than an hour in it (eventually Garry fixed the TV, so a movie pacified him for a stretch), which is how I got my floor mopped (the first time). The floor became very important – I had to have a measure of control over my life, and for a brief time, I could control the floor. Oh, how lovely it looked. And now it is hopelessly sticky.

This is very much how every day goes with little Gavin.

In the big boys' world, swimming lessons have happened every weekday for two weeks. (This photo is one of two I took the entire session, and in the other one, the boys are totally stoic.) I was convinced that the title for their classes was "How to Goof Around in the Water, Levels 2 and 4." But amazingly, both boys passed their levels and supposedly gained new skills. (I did not see much of lesson time.) Zachary, whose class was really called "Stroke Development," learned things like the butterfly stroke, swimming under water, treading water with a scissor kick, and survival floats. In Level 2, Tyler learned "Fundamental Aquatic Skills." My favorite skill from the checklist on the certificate was "combined arm and leg actions on front and back." Sounds pretty sophisticated, don't you think? Swimming was great fun for the big boys and great work for me on the sidelines, as Gavin was not a fan of the stroller and wreaked havoc if I left him out. But I made a friend, whose boy is a friend from Zach's school. I have high hopes of play dates for those boys in the future.

This picture proves that I took the kids to the park (before swimming lessons, as you can see) one day this week. It was hot. Zachary practiced his inline skating, and also attempted to romp on the playground equipment while wearing his skates. The boys raided my purse while I was talking to another mom friend, and ate two sleeves of Ritz crackers and nine fruit leathers. So much for snack time later! We all had a good time, though.

Jul 24, 2009

Dear Barbara

Dear Barbara,

When you woke up this morning, I'm sure you didn't plan to rescue me. After all, we were strangers until about 3:30 p.m.

We met in the check-out lane at Walmart. My cart was two ahead of yours, full of a baby car seat, a screaming toddler, and a pile of junk food for the ward camp-out and an upcoming road trip. My "helpful" older children put our stuff on the conveyor belt, and as the cookies and bagels and crackers and juice (plus a backpack and a bicycle helmet) inched toward the register, I rummaged in my purse for the magic card that would pay for it all.

As my children put on an act from a supermarket horror show, you were probably musing silently about weekend plans or wondering what was taking so long up ahead.

Up ahead, I had just discovered I didn't have my wallet.

Earlier in the day, I had made an online purchase -- a bottle of cod liver oil capsules that are supposed to make my brain work better. Ironically, that brain-promoting purchase was the reason that my wallet was sitting next to the computer, rather than in its spot in my purse, when I needed to pay for groceries.

You had no way of knowing I had already had "a day." Or "a week," or "a month," or quite possibly, "a year." You were blissfully unaware of the violent emotional struggle I was having at that moment, two carts ahead of you. My rational self knew that abandoning my cart and coming back to Walmart later was not, in fact, the end of the world. But it kind of felt like it.

While I decided what to do, the family in line between us checked out. Once they went on their merry way, I told the cashier that I could pay for my things with a check, but that I didn't have ID. In her very broken English, she declined that proposal. She suggested I withdraw cash from the ATM, but I reminded her that I didn't have my wallet. She stared back blankly. I was getting ready to leave. Snacks for the camp-out (in two hours) would have to wait. I would come back another time...or not at all.

That's when you stepped up and offered to pay for my groceries.

Barbara, I cannot tell you what your gesture meant to me at that moment in time. While I kindly argued that I actually had money, just not cash, a credit card, or a driver's license, you insisted that you could buy whatever I needed. Eventually, being as desperate as I was, I agreed to let you help me. And you did. You wrote a check to Walmart for $83.48 and showed the cashier your ID. And I wrote you a check, giving you only my word that my account would cover the cost.

In response to my profuse expressions of thanks, you said simply, "I have been where you are. I had six boys." Even though you have obviously been a grandma for a long time, I could tell you haven't forgotten the struggle!

Today you restored my faith in humanity. You reminded me that there are good, generous, kind, and loving people in the world, and that service doesn't have to wait until the bonds of friendship are formed.

Thank you for sharing your love with a stranger today. I will be sure to pass it on.

With gratitude,


Jul 20, 2009

Someone isn't getting enough sleep

This is what Gavin was doing when I got out of the shower.

When I found him sleeping, my mind immediately
flashed back to almost a year ago.
Same kid, same jumper, same sleep deprivation...
(This time I didn't clean the bathroom before taking a picture.)

Jul 19, 2009


There is nothing sweeter or more peaceful than a sleeping child. Especially this sleeping child, on his first night in a big boy bed.

Gavin took this step far sooner than I was ready for it. He's just 19 months old, after all. We bought a second crib for Lexi because I was not ready for him to vacate his. I labored for hours over the perfect crib blanket. I had a plan. But in the end, as is usually the case, my plan was overridden by a tenacious little boy who had a grander vision. Without any fanfare or drama, Gavin spent the night in the twin bed next to his crib, just like he'd done it for years.

So on Friday, the day when Zachary and Tyler very nearly killed each other, the day they spent untold hours bickering over whose job it was to clean their shared bedroom, I formulated a new plan. Garry agreed with this new plan, and by mid-day Saturday, the plan had been implemented.

Gavin the Cribless now resides downstairs with Tyler. The bunk beds that used to sleep the biggest boys are now side-by-side twin beds (Gavin occupies the one with side rails). Zachary moved upstairs to sleep in the twin bed, and the crib (sniff, sniff) now lives in the attic.

These changes are momentous. My youngest but one is growing up too fast. He's doing things I'm not ready for him to do, and wanting things I'm not ready for him to want. He is communicating his needs and desires...and we are listening...but fulfilling his wishes doesn't make the process any easier!

The nap times and bed times since Thursday evening have hardly been drama-free. It will probably take a while for things to settle down again. But when they do, we'll have a "new normal" on our hands, which is just what Gavin intended.

Jul 17, 2009

All done

Our family's final ball game of the season started with this....

...welcoming home our Daddy from his business trip. Boy (boy, boy, girl, Mommy), we sure missed him! Coach Garry was only home for about 20 minutes before we loaded up the van and headed for the park.

The game offered the typical scenes...

...and then we had a little celebration when it was all over.

The team parents all contributed to a restaurant gift card for Garry as a "thank you" for coaching. He and I are looking forward to a dinner date next week!

Jul 16, 2009

Two months

Miss Alexis is two months old! We sure love our little girl.

Today at her check-up, Lexi weighed 9 pounds, 5 ounces (25th %) and measured 22 inches long (50th %). Although she's a little lightweight, she is gaining consistently enough that I'm not worried. I'm enjoying the extended use of newborn and 0-3 months clothes -- she has so many cute ones! (I do still marvel at the comparison between Lexi and Gavin, who was a giant baby. Here are links to a photo and description of Gavin at the same age.)

Lexi has learned to smile. I absolutely adore her giant, toothless grins. She sometimes squeals and coos when she smiles, and occasionally we hear a hint of a laugh. Lexi is generally very happy and content. When she's not, a snuggle with a blanket or a cuddle from Mom or Dad puts her at ease pretty quickly. She still loves to be swaddled, and especially enjoys a blanket against her cheek. Lexi does not like cold feet, being exposed (even when the weather is hot), or having a dirty diaper. She likes her pacifier (hooray!). She responds to the sounds of family members' voices and will turn her head if she hears someone familiar.

In the last couple of weeks, Lexi started sleeping through the night. I am stunned...and grateful. This family has never experienced such a good sleeper at this stage, but it is changing my life for the better. Lexi will nurse every 2 1/2 - 3 hours during the day, with the last feeding happening between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. Then she usually sleeps in her crib until 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. Last night she slept from 9:00 to 6:00. It was amazing!! What a gift.

This is another picture I love from this morning's photo shoot. Happy two months, Lexi girl!

Jul 15, 2009

Lunch conversation

Zachary [eyeing his mother's plate]: That is a corn dog with ketchup and mustard.

Heidi: Yes, it is.

Tyler: Ewwww....mustard is the grossest thing I've ever tasted that's a dip-in.

Zachary: You might like it later in life because your taste buds change every four years.

Heidi [impressed]: Where did you learn that?

Zachary: In Why Don't Haircuts Hurt? There's only one page about hair.

[A moment of silence and chewing and pondering about taste buds.]

Tyler: ZACH! Gross! Don't show me your food! You've already done it twice, on purpose, just to make me tell on you!

[Exit one mother, laughing.]

Jul 14, 2009

Funeral for a fish

Moby is dead.

Our neighbor's fish lived here for less than a week...and we killed him. By "we," of course I mean "the boys."

On Sunday morning I was sweeping the kitchen floor, and poking out from under the fridge was a small plastic lid. I set it on the counter because I couldn't figure out what container might match the lid. Later, while washing dishes, my "aha!" moment came. The jar of fish food, which had been living in the window sill, was lid-less. It was rather emptier than it should have been.

I checked on the fish. While Moby was still swimming, his water was pretty murky. I also noticed several white globs floating in the water. My stomach rolled, and not just because I felt like throwing up. I really didn't want this fish to die on my watch.

So I confronted the boys. At first they played the denial card. Then they pointed fingers at each other. Finally, when presented with the evidence of their treachery, they confessed. Moby, who was supposed to eat three grain-of-sand-size food pellets per day, probably gobbled about 200 at Tyler's hand. Zachary fed Moby part of a saltine cracker. Once again, my boys were partners in crime.

On Sunday and Monday, we watched and waited. Moby seemed to be swimming a little crookedly. His color seemed to change. I did research about changing his water, but didn't have the right equipment (or the stomach to handle it). I fretted about what to do.

This morning the direction was clear. I needed to flush the fish.

This task elicited a great deal of moaning and gagging on my part. Aside from dealing with a fish carcass, I had to breathe the fumes of aquatic poop. Retrieving the fish required a plastic spoon, a paper cup, and several sprays of Lysol. Evenutally I committed Moby (may he rest in peace) to his watery grave.

My vacationing neighbor has been informed (via email) about the demise of her pet fish. She is a gracious person and I am sure she will be kind.

As for my kids, whose lack of remorse is pretty disturbing, their hopes and dreams for a pet in this household just got flushed down the toilet.

Jul 12, 2009

Practice makes perfect

Church reverence has never been our strong suit.

Lately we have been a spectacular failure.

The biggest culprits? The big kids, particularly the biggest one, who makes a grand effort to be as grumpy as humanly possible.

A few weeks ago we instituted post-church practice sessions.

If we can't get peace during Sacrament Meeting, we'll get it at home.

Practice makes perfect, after all.

Or as my piano teacher used to say, "Perfect practice makes perfect."

Jul 11, 2009

Daddy Day

Garry is leaving on a five-day business trip to North Carolina in the morning. We are not accustomed to his absence. This afternoon we decided a fun family activity was in order, and Daddy planned the whole thing.

The boys (Dad included) got dressed in their swim gear and splashed in the water fountains in front of the movie theater. Watching the boys romp and splash was delightful. This was Gavin's first experience with such a thing, and he seemed to have more fun than anyone.

I was the designated photographer, baby watcher, and pizza orderer. I fulfilled my roles with exactness and honor. And when I got hot, I got my feet wet.

When the afternoon storm clouds brought a chill to the wet boys, we packed up and went home, stopping for ice cream on the way. Good times for all! Having so much fun with Daddy will only make us miss him more, but we're definitely glad for the good memories! Come back soon, Daddy-o!

pass it on!

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