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Jan 31, 2010

Sacrament meeting

We are regular church-goers. Every Sunday finds us sharing a pew in the LDS chapel up the road. I really love our Sunday meetings.

Since our meeting schedule changed for the new year, getting the six of us ready for a 9:00 a.m. sacrament meeting has presented a few challenges. But this morning we actually had a few minutes to spare. The kids looked awfully sharp, so I snapped a picture. I wanted to remember that today was Tyler's first day wearing his new (hand-me-down) suit, and Lexi's first day with a ponytail.


As you might imagine, our bunch struggles to stay reverent and respectful during sacrament meeting, which is a family affair. Today the kids were especially unruly, and their tired parents kind of limped through the first hour. Garry and I were happy to send the three oldest kids along to their age-appropriate classes for the next two hours while we attended our adult meetings.

In spite of our often-frazzled church experiences, today I am also remembering that we don't go to church because it is easy or because we always enjoy reverent worship with our kids in tow. We go because it is the right thing to do. We go because we fervently believe in the doctrine and principles being taught.
We go because we are nurturing our young family in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love this quote from Elder Russell M. Nelson, an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

"Each member of the Church bears responsibility for the spiritual enrichment that can come from a sacrament meeting. Each should sing with a grateful heart and respond with an audible “amen” at the conclusion of a prayer or a testimony. We personally ponder the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We reflect upon the significance of His suffering at Gethsemane and His Crucifixion on Calvary. At this time, each of us is to “examine himself” (1 Cor. 11:28) and reflect upon personal covenants made with the Lord. At this time, we meditate upon the sacred things of God.

Gratefully, I thank the Lord for the sacrament meeting and all that it has meant in my life. It has repeatedly rekindled my faith and allowed me to renew my covenants from week to week, helping Sister Nelson and me to live and rear our family in the glorious light of the gospel."

So at the end of another Sabbath Day, I'll say "amen" to Elder Nelson's words (full text here). And next week, when our kids are a little too wiggly on noisy on our bench, I'll try to remember them!

Jan 29, 2010

100 Days

Tyler celebrated the 100th day of school today. He and his classmates contributed items to a "100 Things" museum. Some kids brought Cheerios and Froot Loops necklaces, paper clip chains, and boxes of action figures. Tyler was pretty proud of the Lego structure he created with exactly 100 bricks.



After school Tyler wanted to know how many days of school are left. My answer? Not nearly enough.

Jan 28, 2010

Moving forward

Tonight I received a gift from an unexpected source.

I attended a Relief Society meeting billed as a crash course on dealing with depression in yourself and loved ones. I was happy to find friendly people to sit by while listening to subject matter that so directly pertained to my life. I expected to feel emotional, to feel weighed down by frustration and discouragement that the burden of depression is sometimes mine to bear.

But instead I was overwhelmed with contentment and peace, even happiness. As I listened (and surprised myself by sharing a few times) I realized that I have learned important things in the last few years -- things about myself, things about others, things about God's plan of happiness for me -- that have greatly improved my outlook on life. I have done some hard things and survived. I have been in the low valley but now find myself in the mountains. I have learned. I have grown. I have conquered.

From my seat on the back row, I could see how far I have come. And I realized that the ability to appreciate my progress was a gift. So often I feel like I'm taking two steps forward but sixteen steps backward. I feel like the things I do every day with my little kids in my little world make no difference at all. The only movement I notice is the backward movement, or the things I'm not doing or could be doing in a better way. This new perspective was amazing.

I came home from the meeting to a quiet house. Some wonderful friends are staying with us for a couple of days. I have worried that such real-life exposure to my family life might be a straining experience for all of us. Instead, it has been great. As I talked with my friend about the events of the evening, she shared her perspective of my home and family life. She said such lovely things, further validating my impression that I am making progress. Life isn't perfect, but I am making progress. And I feel like God accepts my meager offerings. He is pleased with my work.

Tonight I'm having trouble sleeping, but not because I am worried or afraid or upset. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I am moving in the right direction. Progress is a beautiful, wonderful thing.

Future photographer

Last time I downloaded pictures from my camera, I found a surprise. It took me a minute or two to figure out what happened....but then I did.

The other day this cute boy was being silly with my winter scarf and demanded that my camera record his antics. I was happy to oblige.




But then I went off and did something else. Gavin picked up the camera and kept snapping. Here we have shots of the office walls. I'm glad that Gavin recorded for posterity the fact that I got wall paint on the ceiling (a year ago).




These are pictures of my nightstand. I've read about six pages of that book, but I like it.




I'm not sure why the carpet looks pink. It's actually very white (a very dirty white, that is).



And finally, even the best of photographers have trouble with lighting and a finger on the lens.



Gotta love that Gavin.

Jan 27, 2010

They call me the kitchen hairdresser

I've been cutting hair for almost twelve years. The first time I wielded scissors and a comb it wasn't pretty. In the years that have passed since that dreadful day, my skills have grown and refined. Instead of taking 2 1/2 hours to complete a man's hair cut, I can do the same cut in 15 minutes. Little boy hair cuts vary in length and precision, depending on the willingness and wiggliness of the subject.

I am by no means a professional. My only clients are my husband and kids. And haircuts happen in the kitchen on Saturdays.

The boys have gone through a longer hair phase (I realize this is a relative statement), but today they asked for short cuts again. I was happy to oblige as visions of shaggy-haired, opinionated teenagers danced through my head. I don't mind my boys looking like little missionaries. But since the older boys wanted a noticeable change, we broke out the camera for before and after pictures. Zach and Ty were being silly, so we got intermediate shots of them, too.













So now you know the dirty truth -- my family gets homespun haircuts. If you sit behind us at church, be kind.

Jan 23, 2010

Boys just want to have fun

Last summer, Garry and I realized that our days with the kids often ended on a sour note. It seemed someone was always crying at bedtime. In an effort to build our family relationships, we instituted "family fun time," which was a privilege the boys could enjoy with us before bed.

Originally we had family fun time every night, whether it was playing a game, reading a book, taking a walk, watching a show, making a treat, or something else exciting. When school started in the Fall, however, our busy sports schedule (and the boys' penchant for early rising) made us reserve family fun time for non-school nights only. The boys really look forward to the weekend now!

If I'm being honest, I should really refer to these activities as "Daddy fun time," because Garry nearly always leads the fun. I am usually putting Lexi to bed or decompressing in a quiet room far away. Tonight was no exception, although I was pretty curious about the giggles I heard downstairs.

Tonight Garry led the boys -- including Gavin, who usually goes to sleep before the fun begins -- in a series of exercises. Each of them arranged a blanket as an exercise mat, and Garry ran the video camera. I laughed hysterically when I watched the videos. I had visions of 1980's aerobics shows where women on three platforms demonstrated high, medium, and low-impact versions of the exercise routine.

Jumping Jacks

video

Burpees

video

Push-ups

video

Somersaults (Gavin only)

video

So tonight, family fun time filled the measure of its creation: everyone went to bed happy. Hooray!

She crawls

The milestone I've been dreading has arrived: Lexi is crawling. She's been on the verge for weeks, and now that she's done it, I think it's pretty darn cute. I can't believe my baby is so grown up! Here is footage of Lexi's first foray into the world of mobility.

video

In spite of this monumental news, it's been a sad week in Lexi's life. Her cough and cold got worse, and she has hardly slept in a week. Naps have been virtually non-existent and nighttime rest has been ridiculous. Lexi has staged a boycott against nursing (but won't take a bottle) and has seemed generally disgruntled. Many hours have been spent in this manner:


Since Gavin has had similar issues, I decided to take them both to the doctor this morning. After a thorough check-up, the doctor's verdict wasn't surprising. The kids both have ear infections. Gavin has two bad ears, and Lexi has one. Bummer! So we have lots of ammoxicillin in the fridge and are doling out the Motrin liberally. Hopefully the painkillers and antibiotics mean a more restful, happy week is ahead for the littlest members of our family (and their parents).

Jan 22, 2010

Ten minutes later

I experienced a mothering first today: two kids in the cart at Costco.

I've never had kids close enough in age to utilize both seats in the shopping cart, and until today I've avoided major Costco trips with both babies in tow. Lexi usually rides in her car seat in the basket portion of the cart while Gavin rides up front.

But today I was feeling ambitious (and...gasp!...we were out of Ranch dressing...the last straw), so I made a long list and, ten minutes later, headed out the door. Once at the store I was actually charmed with my adorable children sitting side by side -- so charmed, in fact, that I took a picture in the produce section. Gavin said it was "freezing in there!" while Lexi kicked her legs like a maniac, clearly thrilled to have the best seat in the house.


Ten minutes later, the charm fizzled. Gavin made it his mission to make Lexi miserable. With pokes and prods and pulls of her hood, he had her shrieking in no time. Lexi kicked her socks off 17 times. But of course I had a big list of things to throw in the cart. Most were the usual suspects and I knew right where to find them, but I had to hunt down a couple and finally gave up on a third. Eventually I was holding Lexi in one arm and pushing my heavily-laden cart with the other, trying to avoid Gavin's kicks along the way. I deeply regretted keeping my coat on when I walked into the store. I was sweating bullets.


See Gavin's sour face? A $3 hoodie and $4 shoes (plucked from Target clearance aisles) don't add much charm to that attitude.

Ten minutes later, with groceries and gas in the van, I headed home and Gavin fell asleep. Apparently just BEING a toddler is as exhausting as parenting one. But ten minutes later, Gavin woke up. {Sigh....}

[Afternoon post script]
In an amusing twist of irony, I discovered a bottle of Ranch dressing in the garage cupboard when putting away the Costco groceries. How interesting that the must-have food item precipitating the excursion wasn't actually needed!

Jan 17, 2010

Eight months



Lexi turned eight months old yesterday. Eight. That seems like a big number.

To show that she's really growing up, Lexi got her first two teeth this week. They are both on the bottom, and they made her miserable. To celebrate her 2/3-of-a-year birthday, Lexi also got a wicked cold, complete with a green, goopy nose and a raspy cough. Her little voice is pretty hoarse. Poor baby. If you look closely at these pictures, you'll see that her nose is all red. We have rubbed it raw with tissues.



Sweet Lexi is generally happy and mellow. She loves to move these days, and can navigate quite well from a seated position on the floor! She has begun pulling herself up to things (mostly just to her knees) but has stood up to laundry baskets and her crib rail. No crawling yet.



We discovered this week that Lexi won't take a bottle anymore. What a bummer! This limits my evening freedom quite a bit, so I hope her refusal is temporary. I have started spreading out her feedings with my eye on weaning in May. Lexi's sleep training is going well. She usually only wakes once a night now and falls asleep on her own. What a good baby!

Jan 16, 2010

I love this house

For about three weeks we've been fixing up our house to prepare it to sell. While none of the projects were huge (one item: replace outlet cover in Lexi's room), it has taken some time to whittle down the list. I am pleased to report that with about 24 hours' notice, I could whip this place into show-worthy shape.

I'm excited about our progress, and spend lots of time wondering about the steps ahead. I feel quite calm about the vast unknown, but still have lots of questions. I'm trying to have faith, day by day and hour by hour, that the right things will happen at the right time.

But today, as I was cleaning carpets and taking pictures and creating our real estate sales flier, I realized with great force how much I love my house! I really hope that whoever ends up living here will love it as much as I do.




I love that the exterior is kind of small and unassuming.
I love the mature trees in the front yard.
I love having quiet neighbors on either side.
I love the flower bed by the front door.
I love that the kids can ride bikes and play ball in the cul-de-sac.
I love having a ranch-style home with a full basement.



I love the pretty wood floors.
I love the vaulted ceiling and roomy, open floor plan.
I love the big dining space.
I love the picture window in the front room.
I love the acoustics for my piano.
I love the paint -- the brand-new paint.
I love the dreams in my head for wall art above the table
and a purple armchair by the piano.



I love this kitchen.
I love the color and quantity of the cabinets.
I love the center island and all the workspace it offers.
I love having a place for additional seating at the bar.
I love the new goose neck faucet and fancy spray nozzle.
I love
love l-o-v-e the dishwasher.
I love the "great room" feel with a couch and TV near the kitchen.
I love the wood-burning fireplace in the winter.
I love the walk-out to the backyard all year long.
I love all of the natural light.



I love this giant entertainment room.
I love having so much space for the kids (and their friends) to play.
I love having so much space to entertain grown-ups, too --
it's a lovely spot for baby showers and playgroup.
I love the built-in bookshelves.
I love the custom TV cabinet that Garry designed and built.
I love the in-wall wiring for seven-channel surround sound
(even though I don't care about movies).
I love that the basement has so much daylight.
I love that this room is so cool in the summertime.
I love having room for a treadmill in the house (even though you can't see it here).




I love that this house has five bedrooms.
I love that there are bedrooms on both floors,
and that the biggest bedrooms are in the basement.
I love the big closets and extra storage.
I love the paint in the boys' room, and the girly decorations in Lexi's room.
I love that even though the kids are spread out in all five bedrooms,
we could still accommodate lots of guests.



I absolutely LOVE this yard.
I love having a quarter of an acre in the city.
I love having a park-like play structure in my own fenced space.
I love having a sand pit.
I love having enough grass for football and soccer games and big birthday parties.
I love having big trees that change with the seasons.
I love having healthy, beautiful grass in the summertime.
I love the flagstone patio that is nearly finished.
I love the cement pad we poured for our garbage cans.
I love the shed attached to the house that even has electricity.
I love the gate in our fence that opens to green space and walking paths.
I love that we live within (short) walking distance of two parks.

.
.
.

I love my house.
It will be very hard to leave my house.
Will I find a house I love this much?
I know it's not the most important thing in the world,
but I sure hope so.

Jan 15, 2010

Gavin....again

With all the things that are hard about Gavin...


...I am very glad that nap time isn't one of them.

Sleep well (and long), little buddy.

Jan 14, 2010

Check!

I'm rewarding myself with chocolate and an early bedtime because I just accomplished something important.


I {finally} finished all of the touch-up painting around the house. Since our house has, oh, 13 or so different colors of interior paint, this has been a big job. I've had paint cans littering my kitchen counters for two weeks, and let me just say that they are ugly and annoying. Paint cans be gone!

I am going to wait until tomorrow to put everything away, however. I'll let the sunshine stream in tomorrow morning so I can properly scrutinize all of the walls and doors and trim to make sure I haven't missed anything.

Now that almost all of the little fix-it projects are done, the next step is taking pictures. Then we'll make a flier. And then we'll {gulp} put the house on the market when the time feels right.

I think I need more chocolate.

Jan 13, 2010

Three reasons

Tyler has spent the afternoon sitting at the desk next to me. I am selecting hymns for Relief Society singing and Tyler is alternately coloring and playing with Lexi. Much to his chagrin, he has lost all electronics privileges until he can locate the magnet that opens the media cabinet downstairs. He's not very happy about a life without electronic entertainment.

However, this development has offered the opportunity for more talking. Tyler just prompted a conversation that made me laugh.


"Mom, I have three reasons for staying in Colorado and three reasons for moving to Arizona. Want to hear them?"

Of course I wanted to hear them!

"The three reasons for staying are: One, my friends. [Pause.] Hm. I can't remember the other two. And the three reasons for going are: One, all the rest of my family is there like cousins and stuff. Two, it's
HOT. And three....will I get my electronics back?"

Bobcat in the family

Last night Zachary earned his first patch as a Cub Scout -- the Bobcat -- at pack meeting. He was so excited! He laughed all the way through the ceremony as I painted marks on his forehead, nose, and cheeks (the green spots mark his dimples). Zach pinned a Bobcat symbol on my shirt, too.


After pack meeting, I took Zach to Baskin Robbins for ice cream. We had a great little date. I asked him a million questions about school and he actually answered them! I'm proud of my little Cub Scout for all the good things he's doing with his life.

Relaxation


How to have a relaxing morning:
  • Let the eight-year-old buy lunch at school.
  • Send the big boys out the door with a note since they are so late.
  • Put on clean pajamas after the morning shower.
  • Put away the prepare-house-to-sell list (indefinitely).
  • Play the piano while the two-year-old dances and the seven-month-old sits under it.
  • Nurse the baby to sleep.
  • Find the two-year-old in your bed...and get in with him.
  • Watch two episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba and dance at appropriate moments.
  • Sing Old MacDonald with 17 verses, then every song that suits the two-year-old's fancy.
  • Take a picture of the boy's crazy bedhead.
  • Put on jeans at the last possible moment before kindergarten pick-up.
  • Go out to lunch with Dad.
  • Put babies to bed upon return.
  • Contemplate a nap.

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