Nov 30, 2009

Gavin turns two

I used to think a good mother took her child to Kiddie Kandids at regular intervals for portrait sessions. She would have a spot on the living room wall with an ever-rotating 8x10 of each child to track his or her progress through childhood. The same could be said for family pictures.

In my life, this particular aspect of motherhood gets a solid Fail. I'm really good at the snapshot thing, and we've got pictures on the walls, but none of them are formal. I have never taken a child to Kiddie Kandids (or the equivalent), and my very favorite photo is the one from this shoot, where Tyler has a goofy face and Gavin isn't even looking at the camera.

So tonight, to mark Gavin's second birthday, I initiated a photo session in the bathtub. From this small venue, where the light was poor and clothes were absent (for the subject only), Gavin could not escape. He was in a great mood. He posed and he grinned and he splashed and he played. He was himself. And I celebrated.

I celebrated the boy that is inquisitive and sensitive. The boy that is rambunctious and mischievous. The boy that is smart and capable. The boy whose dimples and hugs melt my heart.

Earlier this morning, Gavin opened the many presents his generous relatives sent, plus the few I ordered from He was delighted with them all. He kept saying, "More presents? Get more presents?" Once he ripped wrapping paper from a package and expressed his enthusiasm for the brown cardboard box. The things inside all the cardboard boxes kept him busy all day.

I left Gavin and Lexi with a friend and went to a hair appointment. (I won't always be able to get away with such behavior on my children's birthdays.) Lexi slept the entire time I was gone, so Gavin had one-on-one time with an adoring fan. Apparently he was delightful.

He rounded out the day with phone calls from grandparents, several renditions of the birthday song, a lovely nap, a spaghetti dinner, and brownies and ice cream for dessert.

I could dress Gavin up in a suit and a tie and [attempt to] make him sit in a wicker chair in front of a blue cloudy screen. If was was super lucky, the minimum-wage employee might be able to coax a smile out of my two-year-old so I could shell out 30 bucks for the 8x10 for my wall.

But I'm content that doing that really won't make me a better mother....and I like my spaghetti-faced little boy better than my suit-and-tie boy any day.

Nov 29, 2009

Pillow talk

An imagined conversation, sometime in the future...


Garry: Yes, dear?

Heidi: Remember that phase when three of our children didn't sleep through the night?

Garry: Ugh. Yes. It was
horrible. Gavin was almost two. He was teething.

Heidi: And he would only tolerate you when he got up in the night.

Garry: I slept on the couch downstairs most nights so I could hear his screams before he woke the other boys. Some nights he got up 10 or 15 times.

Heidi: I know! Your poor back and neck....

Garry: But if I slept in bed, we didn't hear him in time. Then Tyler would bring Gavin upstairs because Gavin had woken up, turned on the light, and tried to get in bed with him.

Heidi: Tyler hated that. And then he couldn't go back to sleep. Ty often woke up on his own, having had a bad dream. He loved to get in bed next to me.

Garry: He knew I'd kick him out of our bed, so he always went to your side.

Heidi: I'm such a pushover when I'm trying to sleep -- anything for a few more minutes! But I finally made him sleep on the floor.

Garry: That's more comfortable than Gavin's bed. I swore I'd never spend another night wedged onto that hideous, cheap twin mattress, but night after night, there I was.

Heidi: I sure appreciated that -- it was better than having him in bed with us!

Garry: There was no sleep for either of us when that happened. What a joke. We needed protective headgear. We resorted to setting up the portable crib in our bedroom. It wasn't very helpful.

Heidi: As I recall, Lexi was teething during that time, too. Between teething and growing and rolling, the girl didn't sleep!

Garry: I was mostly oblivious. Too much going on downstairs.

Heidi: After sleeping through the night for a couple of months, suddenly she jumped back to three times a night -- 11:00, 2:00, and 5:00. It was easier to nurse her back to sleep. And she nursed like she hadn't eaten in a week. I was sure she'd be up three times a night until she was 10. It's a wonder she wasn't a fat baby with all those midnight snacks.

Garry: I remember I would often stumble up to bed just minutes before she would wake up. I would just get settled into my pillow and exchange a groggy greeting with you before you'd have to be up with her.

Heidi: I know -- not fair! And then I'd come back to bed after feeding her and not be able to sleep because of your snoring.

Garry: Sorry.

Heidi: It's OK. It's not your fault, but still pretty ironic that such a tired Mommy couldn't sleep.

Garry: Remember the time she screamed so loudly I could hear it over the movie I was watching downstairs, but you were so sound asleep that you didn't hear her through the bedroom wall?

Heidi: I must have been really tired that night. But the worst was our morning wake-up calls.

Garry: There's nothing like starting your day by having Gavin sneak into the bedroom and dump water all over your face.

Heidi: Or having him climb into our bed with pudding all over his hands.

Garry: Or finding him covered in marker.

Heidi: Or poop.

Garry: Inspecting the early-morning carnage was not my favorite job.

Heidi: No kidding. You never knew what you would find. And you usually missed Tyler's queries at unholy hours. At 5:30 a.m., he would perch three inches from my face and whisper my name until I mumbled something incoherent. He always wanted to know if he and Zach could play video games before breakfast. If I said no, he'd come back in every 15 minutes until I relented, or until it was breakfast time.

Garry: At least we could take turns sleeping in on the weekends.

Heidi: Sleeping glorious.

Garry: I slept in more often than you did. You had the chance of a nap during the day.

Heidi: What? That's a good joke. Gavin and Lexi never napped at the same time, especially because Gavin mostly napped in the car.

Garry: We were so tired all the time.

Heidi: So, so tired.

Garry: But it wasn't forever.

Heidi: It sure seemed like forever.

Garry: Yeah, it did.

Heidi: And yet, somehow we survived.

Garry: Yep.

Heidi: Honey?

Garry: Yes, dear?

Heidi: I love you.

Garry: Love you, too, babe.

Nov 26, 2009

The feast

This year I felt very grateful to spend Thanksgiving with friends. For about a month I've been feeling especially homesick for Mesa and Thanksgiving is a holiday steeped in Dixon family traditions that I love. Having guests for dinner (and feasting on some of my mom's classic recipes) made me feel less lonely!

I was so wrapped up in food preparation that I forgot to take the pictures I had planned on, and I ran out of time and didn't set the gorgeous table I had planned. But the fun guests and yummy food made up for the lack.

Tyler, Sam, Matt, Karlie, Gavin, Garry

Bob, Melanie, Mike, Zach

Melanie and me

A greeting from Gavin

I hope you and yours enjoyed a delightful Thanksgiving, too!

Nov 23, 2009

Two speeds

I have a friend who has a Gavin-type offspring who is now 17. She tells me that as a child, her girl had two speeds -- Fast and Asleep. Truer words were never spoken of my Gavin. He is either running at 100 miles an hour, wreaking havoc wherever he goes, or he is sleeping.

Lately, Gavin falls asleep at strange hours and in weird places.
This is probably because he doesn't sleep well at night. His two-year molars are breaking through, and Gavin gets up, on average, about five times a night in complete hysteria.

Gavin routinely falls asleep in his car seat if he is a passenger in the van after 9:00 a.m. I try hard to avoid morning errands, but I do have to pick up Tyler at school every day. Gavin falls asleep before we are out of the neighborhood -- every day. The time he sleeps in the car constitutes his daily nap Monday through Friday. Church happens during nap time on Sunday, so the kid is continually exhausted. (Guess who else fits that profile?)

On Saturday Garry caught a lunchtime catnap on camera.

Sleep, baby, sleep.

For a long, long time.

We are thankful

Tonight we had our annual Thanksgiving-themed Family Home Evening.
We talked about the origins of the holiday and counted our blessings.

These are some of my biggest blessings:

We made a Thankful Tree. On each leaf (there are 40) we wrote something
for which we are thankful. After we hung the tree on the wall and got ready for bed,
we started noticing lots of things that should have been on our tree.
Toothbrushes! Beds! Sweatshirts! The list goes on.

We are looking forward to a scrumptious Thanksgiving feast with friends on Thursday. Yum!

Nov 21, 2009

Zach and Ty, Science Guys

Last Fall, when I had ambition and the energy to follow through, I concocted all sorts of ways to enrich the boys' education after school. We had reading incentive programs and math workbooks and bi-weekly library trips. And on Fridays, we did science experiments together.

For three or four glorious weeks, we explored the world of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water. Some of the experiments were awesome and some flopped. The most memorable day included Mentos and Diet Coke (try keeping both in your mouth at the same time!).

Then I got pregnant and life screeched to a halt. We've been doggy-paddling with our chins just above water ever since. But that hasn't stopped Zach from rescuing our science book from the kitchen cabinet and imagining a day when we could resume our experiments.

Saturday was the day. Zach was set on making crystals. We had all the supplies, so the boys went to work. I cleared a space and loosely supervised and the boys did most of the work. They were so excited! Zach even donned his Mickey Mouse ears for the occasion.

We didn't grow crystals. I'm not sure what happened (or didn't). But my science guys were thrilled -- and they can't wait for next time.

Nov 20, 2009

Mom & Dad

Tyler's kindergarten teacher is expecting twin girls. They are due in a couple of weeks, but today Mrs. Yowell had a farewell party just in case she doesn't return after Thanksgiving break. Tyler wrote her a sweet note and gave her a package of diapers for the babies.

Today was also "Donuts with Dad" day in the kindergarten classes. In addition to sweet treats, Tyler shared a portrait he drew of Garry. Can you see the similarities? Garry came home after his little date with Tyler to show me the picture. He is going to hang it up at work.

Nov 19, 2009


For the second time in a month, I have mastitis, a lovely little infection
that resembles the flu but has other painful features.
I'm certain that it is a stress response,
and that the current flare-up was brought on by my recent exercise kick.
I have plenty of feelings about that, but other things are on my mind at the moment.

The best way to get rid of mastitis is to rest.
You know - sleep, relax on the couch, take in a movie, sip chicken broth, etc.

The best way to not rest is to have a child named Gavin,
or, more specifically,
MY child named Gavin.

This boy is adorable for sure, and does plenty of things every day to make me laugh. But when my health is compromised, I'm not quite so cheerful.
I find it more difficult to tolerate his antics.
But here's one thing I'm currently laughing about.

The boy who did this

and this

earlier today is currently cleaning off his booster seat with a self-acquired diaper wipe. He is chanting, "Big mess. Clean up big mess. I do it. Clean up big mess."

Whatever dude. Just hurry up already. Your dinner is getting cold.

Nov 16, 2009

Six months

Our sweet baby girl is six months old. Lexi is growing and changing before our eyes.

See how she is sitting up? Just in the last week or so, Lexi has figured out this fantastic trick! I'm still nervous about her sitting up on our hard floors, so I supervise a great deal when she is upright. But Lexi can sit up for long periods of time and loves to play with toys around her. She is right on schedule with her brothers so far. If she keeps the pace, she will be crawling in a month and walking in mid-February! I'm not ready!!

Another new thing in Lexi's life is "solid" food. (Are rice cereal and strained vegetables really solid?) We started with rice cereal over a month ago but didn't offer it regularly until a couple of weeks ago. She likes rice pretty well but hates oatmeal. We tried peas last week, which she gobbled up, but then she was up all night, apparently with a tummy-ache. Peas are nixed for now. Lexi adores biter biscuits. She wants to nurse more often than usual, so I'm wondering if she needs more calories. According to our scale at home, she weighs about 15 pounds. Her check-up is scheduled to coordinate with Gavin's two-year check-up in two weeks.

This is a famous Lexi face. She always sticks her tongue out...and I confess I love it! Lexi is an expert with heart-melting gummy grins. She smiles and coos when I sing to her. She loves listening to music in the car (a brilliant discovery; she hates her car seat in general). Lexi's hand-to-mouth reflex is becoming finely honed. She will suck on anything in front of her.

When she is not rolling across the room or in circles, Lexi enjoys being upright. The play center is a favorite place, but she is also starting to like the jumper. Most of all, she likes being where the action is. She loves face time with people. She and Gavin are mostly friends (he is going through a pretty rough Lexi is getting tough!). Of course Lexi loves to be held and cuddled. But she is a fourth child. Poor baby.

Bottom line: Lexi is adorable and fabulous and we love her! Happy half-year, Baby!

90 Days

Last week I got all fired up about fitness and posted this.

I had a pretty good week, although regular exercise is going to be a serious challenge (see what I wrote on my sister's blog for details). But I've done hard things before, right? I can do this.

Today I started a 90-day fitness challenge sponsored by Race Day Training. It is free, and I need a support group. Anyone want to join me?

It would help me to know that I'm not the only one chasing the impossible!

Nov 14, 2009

Eternal family dynamics

Every year the children in our church congregation put on a musical program in Sacrament Meeting. It is my favorite Sunday of the year. Once again the time has come for this delightful event, which features kids from ages 3-11 singing and speaking about gospel principles.

Zach and Tyler have been faithfully rehearsing their speaking parts. Zach is speaking briefly about his baptism. Tyler has memorized the longest part in the program - a three-paragraph speech about LDS temples and eternal families. At the final rehearsal today, one of the leaders had him read most of the part after he hesitated a few seconds, which I thought was a bit unjust. However, I have been the leader in charge before, so I understand her desire to move things along.

I thought I'd record the kids' parts for the amusement of our faraway family (and to sneak in some extra practice). Zach executed his part flawlessly, if you don't count holding still as an essential component of the part. He then made it his life's mission to distract and torment his brother while he spoke. I decided to keep the camera rolling in spite of all the commotion. It's funny stuff -- and a true testament of family life.

In spite of the silliness on tape, I really do believe that blessings available in sacred temples bind families for eternity. I am grateful that my family can claim those blessings if we keep God's commandments. Our family is forever!

Nov 13, 2009

Seeing Zach

There were times in Zachary's younger life (like when he was Gavin's age, or Tyler's age, or maybe when he was seven and 11 months old) when I wondered if he would ever grow out of "the difficult phase." Well-meaning friends and relatives have been telling me for years that Zach would eventually become easier to raise, that certain struggles wouldn't last forever, and that one day he'd blossom into a wonderful young man.

Truth be told, I didn't believe it was possible -- not with this kid. That probably makes me a bad mother. But quite honestly, I was lost in the forest of his childhood (and that of his siblings) and couldn't see the trees. I couldn't see the big steps forward because there were lots of big steps back. I could only see the constant struggle and couldn't imagine an easier life.

However, lately I've been able to see brighter things.

Lately, Zach has been calmer. He has been more sensitive to others, more willing to help. He has been less destructive and more compassionate. He seems to be walking a little taller, taking greater interest in the world, and feeling more comfortable in his skin.

I was particularly impressed the other day, when, after throwing a fit over a video game restriction (and being sent to his room), Zach sent the following note upstairs to me with Tyler.

To me, this note illustrated a few important things. First, he expressed love to the person who had punished him. Second, he showed that he was actually thinking about what he had done and had isolated the point of failure. Third, he pledged to improve. This note represented a major step in Zach's maturity -- and it was his "get out of jail free" card for the day.

Lately, I'm seeing this goofy face more often than Zach's sad or angry face. It's a very good thing!

pass it on!

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