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Apr 30, 2010

Market madness

Twelve days ago, when we put our house on the market, a little switch flipped in my brain. That little switch has temporarily, yet dramatically, changed the course of our existence. We are in "show mode," as in the entirety of our family's life revolves around the ring of the phone and the state of the floor. Many things have changed, such as:
  • I clean all day, every day. Starting from the moment my eyelids crack open each morning, I am tidying or dusting or wiping or mopping. The biggest push is in the morning, after I get kids off to school. I don't shower or relax until the kitchen and bathrooms are sparkling, the beds are perfectly staged, and floor is freshly mopped. This usually requires diligent efforts until at least 10:00a.m., since Gavin always spills or wrecks or streaks something before, during, or after I have cleaned an area.
  • I have random stuff in my pockets. No matter how far in advance I prepare and clean the house, I always find last-minute do-dads as I am turning on lights and preparing to leave before a showing. Right now I have a fork, hair elastics, a Lego man, a marble, an eraser, and a dryer sheet in my pocket. Larger items get stuffed into whatever drawer is closest, which means things often get lost. It's annoying.
  • The garbage can lives in the garage. People touring our house most definitely don't need to see the garbage can, which usually stands at the end of the counter, close to the back door. During showings we move it to the garage, but then I don't automatically bring it back inside when we get home, and then we can't throw anything away, and trash piles up. I also empty all the trash cans before showings, and if I don't have time, I leave them in the garage. This is another reason I have random stuff in my pockets.
  • Gavin and Lexi think the van is their second home. Yesterday Gavin asked me, "Can I go get in my car seat so you can mop the floor?" I laughed out loud...he knows the drill! Our garage is just off the kitchen, so I often put my babies in their car seats and leave the van and house doors open. They are happily contained and we talk to each other while I mop the floor in peace.
  • The van is a pig sty. This is because we live in the van. We eat meals and snacks, change clothes, do homework, read books, sort the mail, and all manner of other activities in the van while potential buyers and/or agents are looking at the house.
  • I don't start something unless I know I have time to finish it. This mostly applies to laundry -- sorting, washing, folding, ironing, and putting away the laundry. And laundry is pretty low on the priority list when things like mopping the (giant) floor are at the top. So I wash laundry and change sheets at night, and can't remember the last time I ironed. Maybe tomorrow...
  • We are eating worse than usual...and that is saying something. Since I hate cooking anyway and cooking only messes up the kitchen, I just can't handle it. So we are eating lots of convenience foods, sandwiches, and cereal. I pretty much don't care, but I'm sure my family doesn't appreciate it.
  • I stay home more than usual. This may seem contrary to the normal state of selling a house, but really, I only leave the house for a showing or to pick up kids from school now. My baby naps best in the morning and my toddler naps only in the afternoon, and now, whenever I leave, the house needs to be spotless. My mobility was already limited, but now it's mostly non-existent. [Sidebar: I was just assigned a daytime visiting teaching route and think it's going to be impossible.]
  • I wake up sleeping babies. This is exactly the opposite of my normal modus operandi. We bow to the real estate gods, no matter what time of day.
  • I am extremely short-tempered. Am I pregnant? No. But if you know me as a pregnant person, you will better understand this state of mind. I am stressed out. I lose it over little things. I am totally emotional. If I seem irrational, it's because I am irrational. Please don't feed the insanity. I need gentle words and soft strokes and lots of encouragement right now. I have a severe case of market madness.

Apr 29, 2010

Look who's walkin'

Lexi has finally started using her Christmas present:
a push toy that helps her walk.
It's so fun to see her toddle across the room.
She is figuring out how to navigate corners and
turn around.
We are looking forward to "real" walking,
which will probably come soon!
Go, Lexi, go!



Lexi is pretty proud of her new skill.
And yes, her face is always messy.
So is her hair.



We caught some Lexi steps on camera today.
(Warning: the video is a little long....)

video

Guessing game

Who can guess which item in these pictures is for sale?



It may not be the one you think.

Apr 28, 2010

One year older and wiser, too...

OK, I'll admit it. I'm 31. This isn't a milestone I am thrilled about, but I mark this birthday glad for the things I've learned (or re-learned) this year, such as:
  • I don't have to do it all -- at home, at church, at the boys' school, in my yard, or even in my head -- to be/appear/feel successful and fulfilled.
  • I can find joy in the little things, even when the big things are icky.
  • Sleep trumps everything.
  • I should laugh more.
  • My husband is truly my knight in shining armor.
  • I love the BYU TV channel.
  • Keeping Gavin alive requires the diligent attention of a concourse of angels.
  • Losing my pregnancy weight is going to require a LOT of work.
  • I believe in miracles.
  • Texting is super fun.
  • Service and flowers and painted toenails and clean floors make me happy.
  • I can do hard things.
  • I love getting cards in the mail.
  • I should never ignore a spiritual call to action.
  • Age is really irrelevant.
I am so blessed. When I think about my life and my sweet little family (and my awesome extended family), I realize that life is really, really good. This is what I celebrate on my birthday.

Oh, and I also celebrate this delicious peanut butter pie. Wow. You've got to try it.

Apr 26, 2010

Sunshine on a cloudy day

Lexi and I went to get the mail this evening after a long, sad day. She was absolutely thrilled to be outside and riding in the wagon. She squealed and babbled and giggled so much that we did a couple of laps in the cul-de-sac and I let her play in the wagon while I picked up pine cones on the lawn.



As I watched her bask in the cool evening breeze, perfectly content in the moment, the lyrics of a favorite song drifted into my head:

I've got sunshine
On a cloudy day.
When it's cold outside,
I've got the month of May.
I guess you'll say,
What can make me feel this way?

My girl (my girl, my girl!),
Talkin' 'bout my girl...

(Here's a link to The Temptations,
in case you'd like to hear that little ditty.)


So thanks, Lexi, for turning my day around. And thanks to my cute Grandma (the one who knitted Lexi's sweater), whose birthday card and 20-dollar bill made me smile. Love you!

Apr 24, 2010

Silly Colorado...

This week brought the glorious news that Spring had finally redeemed Winter. Color began to peek out on the trees...



...and in the flower beds. I was thrilled to discover the first tulip blooms of the season on Wednesday as my kids played barefoot in the back yard.



We paid our neighborhood yard guy to aerate and fertilize the lawn. With a house on the market, it will be a good year for lush, green grass. Oh, the green! How I have missed it.


On Thursday night I went to sleep with the sound of rain on my roof. A Spring thunderstorm had erupted. The thought of all that rain watering my freshly fertilized lawn made me happy.

But on Friday I woke up to this.




April 23 was a snow day! School was canceled; kids were home. I shoveled six inches of snow from our driveway before a Realtor came at 9:00 a.m. I took Lexi to the doctor in howling wind and near white-out conditions.

Spring, where art thou?

The big boys

Sometimes I feel guilty that in the shuffle of a busy life with Lexi and Gavin, Tyler and Zachary take a back seat. They are self-sufficient in many ways, and are big enough to help with chores, do homework unassisted, and entertain themselves. I am working to give the big boys more attention and better quality time....and take more pictures of them!


Tyler is really a great kid. He is generally so kind and helpful, very affectionate, and sensitive to others' needs. While he loves to play with friends, he is also content to play a game, read a book, or watch a show on his own. I love that he is so good to quietly entertain himself after school while Gavin and Lexi are sleeping. Tyler has recently shown interest in making his own lunch, too. I certainly can't complain about that!

This week I was truly humbled to be Tyler's mother when he did literacy testing at school and scored at a mid-third-grade level on reading and comprehension. His kindergarten teacher had wonderful things to say about him. While I am a little intimidated at the challenge of parenting such a brilliant child, I am thrilled to see him succeed.

Tyler really does love to read. He is supposed to read 20 minutes a day after school. If I don't set a timer, he will get lost in a book and read for an hour or more. He will read Magic Treehouse, Cam Jansen, and Nate the Great books in one sitting. This week he tackled the 140-page Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and was delighted with the silly stories and funny words. He loves to retell the stories to me.

Tyler is still a very typical six-year-old in many ways, and he definitely suffers from Little Brother Syndrome. Fairness is extremely important; he is pretty sensitive to any injustice that might exist in his world. He thinks that he and Zach should be equals in every respect and gets frustrated when Zach is bigger or faster or more adept. Tyler's current way of expressing dissatisfaction with life is a shrill, piercing scream that probably frightens the neighbors. Or, as seen below, he will cry and pout about having to do something unsavory (in this case, clean up his Play-Doh mess) for a long, long time before actually doing it. This too shall pass.


Zachary is growing up so fast. He loves that he is almost as tall as his mother, and that pretty soon we will wear the same shoe size. Last week he lost one of his eye teeth (and incredibly, the Tooth Fairy remembered to bring him a dollar that very night). Zach has recently shown more interest in helping out with Lexi and Gavin. He gets Lexi up when she cries in the morning and plays with her after school. One of his frequent "jobs" is to play with Gavin in the back yard. Zach is a good big brother.

Zach is really enjoying his new cub scout pack in the Cordera Ward. It is much larger than the pack he left and he is making friends quickly. This week Zach participated in the flag ceremony at pack meeting. Since Garry took him and I stayed home with the other kids I didn't get to see Zach in action, but I heard from Garry and one of his scout leaders that he did a great job leading the ceremony.


About a month ago, Zach was really struggling with his behavior at school. I received bad reports from his teacher after a field trip and after several consecutive days in the classroom. While that was disappointing and frustrating, we were all quite relieved when a very simple daily accountability slip fixed the problem quickly and completely. Zach professes to hate school because it is dumb and boring. While we know he struggles to feel challenged, he doesn't usually do his best work to manifest his true ability. It's a constant struggle to help him reach his potential but not push him too hard.

If Zach had his way, he would spend all of his days like this:


Zachary LOVES video games. (I hate them, which poses a problem in our family.) He also loves his newly-acquired teddy bear, Zeek. Zach made Zeek at Build-a-Bear for a friend's birthday party last month, and now Zeek rarely leaves Zach's side. I think it's pretty cute to see Zach's attachment to this little friend, especially because until now he has never enjoyed stuffed animals. Zach may be growing up, but he's still a little boy at heart.

Apr 23, 2010

Friends in high places


I have always thought that knowing people in high places would mean special privileges or unique experiences -- you know, like getting a sweet kickback, free-of-charge, just because of your association with that person.

Every day with Gavin is like this.

Today my boy discovered he can get to high places all by himself. Apparently climbing the fence on Tuesday gave him the confidence he needed to scale our kitchen cabinets. So, without assistance of stool or chair or human helper, Gavin now has access to all of the upper cabinets in the kitchen.

I discovered my boy's discovery during a morning meeting with a Realtor today. While she and I talked {depressing} numbers at the kitchen table, we heard a strange rattle. Robin the Realtor said, "Shall we check on Gavin together?" We walked around the corner and found Gavin standing on the counter, the corner cabinet door thrown open. In his hands was a new bottle of Children's Motrin. The lid was still on. I snatched it away, found something else to engage his interest, and moved on. Disaster averted.

Wrong.

An hour later, while whipping up a batch of cookies and talking to my mom on the phone (are there better remedies on a hard day?), I transferred dirty dishes to the sink. In the sink I found something really scary: an empty medicine bottle.


The missing medicine was Sulfameth, which was prescribed to Lexi when we thought she had a UTI. She had two doses before the culture came back negative. We stopped the meds and put them in the cabinet for next time. Turns out the "next time" was this morning when Gavin was thirsty for a little mischief.

Half an hour after discovering Gavin's hazardous activity, I was in a pediatrician's office finding out that Lexi had an ear infection. I asked the doctor about the Sulfameth. She was a little horrified...but said Gavin will be OK. He is likely going to have a sad weekend, GI-wise, but will probably be none the worse for wear.

My friend Melanie tells me that Gavin is going to grow up and find the cure to cancer. He'll become filthy rich and buy me a house or something grand like that. Maybe then he'll achieve my definition of having friends in high places.

600

This is my 600th blog post. How did that happen?

When people ask how often I blog, I tell them, "five or six times a week." I guess that adds up! Over the last 27 months, I have averaged 22.2 posts per month, or 5.5 per week. Turns out my casual estimate is right on target!

I started the blog a bit reluctantly in the early weeks of 2008. I was a little tired of my weekly family newsletter gig, but not so sure that blogging was for me. I worried about each kid getting an equal share of the blogosphere. I worried that people wouldn't care at all what I had to say.

As it turns out, I love the free-form blog structure. I love that I can share pieces of myself and my family in the way that I want. And I love, love, LOVE your comments. Even though I only have a few followers left in the wake of micro-blogging, Twitter, and Facebook, I still really enjoy the blogging community camaraderie.

Besides being a fun social network, blogging has helped me create an awesome family history. Thanks to my frequent posts and the fabulous service Blurb provides, I have cherished keepsake books that have preserved great memories for myself and my children for years to come.

Last week I went to a Relief Society activity in my new ward. Each woman was asked to bring an object that represented her interests. I was initially stumped. When I turned to others for advice, every person said I should take my blog book. I hesitated.

Am I my blog?

Eventually I decided that if the answer to that question is "yes," then I'm OK with that.

Apr 22, 2010

It's official

Tonight for dinner the kids and I drove through Chick-Fil-A and picked up dinner. We set up camp chairs in the garage, chowed down, and threw away the trash before going inside. I snapped a photo with my cell phone because the situation was so humorous.


I have a feeling that this routine, cell phone photos and all, might become commonplace.

Why?

Because I hate cooking. Oh, wait, you already knew that. But there's another reason, too. Our house is on the market.

Yep, we finally listed it -- for sale by owner. It's official.

The road to this particular day has been long and winding. I haven't appreciated the potholes and delays. But over the weekend, a difficult experience crystallized an important fact for us: we are ready to go. It's finally time.

So we're moving forward. The house is listed on several FSBO websites. We have shown the home to four Realtors in two days (no potential buyers yet) and have another appointment in the morning. We are hoping that the home buyer tax credit deadline next week might make this a busy weekend for us. If not, we are still moving in the right direction: towards moving.

To answer the question that is probably on your lips: No, there has not been any progress on a job for Garry. He will likely transfer to the Black Canyon Wells Fargo office and have an ugly commute for a while. We are praying that his physical presence in Arizona will make him a more attractive candidate in the job hunt.

Since Christmas I have felt like something special was going to happen with the sale of our home, and that miracles would pave the way to Arizona. So far I have been disappointed. But I still believe that our decision to go is correct, and that with God, all things are possible.

Here we go.

Decaf, please

Our family doesn't "do" caffeine. I try not to get on my soapbox about it, but that's just the way it is at our house. Garry and I occasionally drink a caffeinated beverage to medicate a headache or sustain a driver on a road trip, but that's it. Usually it's not a big deal at all, but since the kids have friends with different family policies, the issue comes up once in a while.

Tonight we grabbed fast food for dinner. We had lemonades all around. As we were driving home, I overheard the following conversation going on in the back seat.

Zachary: Why can't I get root beer with caffeine? That's just dumb.

Tyler: Kids are always so energized and caffeine just makes them crazier.

Zach: But it does nothing to parents!

Tyler: Parents are always kind of sleepy. Caffeine helps them be more awake. But it makes kids extra energized!

I was laughing so hard by the time we got home. I grabbed the nearest pencil and paper and scribbled down their conversation. Zach has added "caffeine" to his list of things he wants to experience when he grows up and moves out. Also on the list: white bread, pets, and staying up all night.

Apr 21, 2010

This afternoon

This afternoon I looked out the window and saw my little boy climbing the fence in his socks. I was exasperated and nervous and amused all at once -- and I knew I wanted a picture. My little point-and-shoot was nowhere to be seen, so I hefted Garry's giant, fancy camera out into the backyard, hoping that its settings would be nice for some outdoor shots.


What started out as one picture turned into about a hundred. I was captivated by Gavin's unstructured play, with his sense of adventure, his boundless energy.




Lexi had come into the yard with me, and I plopped her into our newly acquired wagon. A family in the ward gave it to us since their kids have outgrown it. My kids are completely thrilled. Lexi didn't have the wagon to herself for long.










After a long series of photos, I wandered around the yard taking pictures of my budding trees and tulips. But of course I came back to my cuties who were happily playing in the warm sun.






What an awesome afternoon.

Back in the blog zone

I've been a little cranky lately. The stress of moving/not moving is getting to me. But that junk is (maybe) for another post. I have drafted a diatribe that is percolating. It may or may not get published.

Anyway.

My cute sister always inspires me. And since I've been racking my brain over something cheerful to blog about, I decided to copy her this afternoon and post a little survey. (Note to Angie: another copycat post is coming in a few days.) Filling out my answers has helped me think of the other things I would like to post on this here blog. Maybe tomorrow.

Without further ado...

1. When do you feel happiest?

I feel great joy and satisfaction when I am serving other people.

2. How do you take care of yourself?

I try to get enough sleep and try to maintain a healthy level of spiritual nourishment.

3. Are you internally (by yourself) or externally (by others) motivated?

I am mostly internally driven. I love doing things for others, but the desire almost always comes from within.

4. What do you do for fun?

I spend time with friends, take long walks with my kids, blog, and make silly Facebook comments.

5. What intimidates you?

Calling strangers on the phone and asking people for help sometimes creates knots in my stomach.

6. What is something you're proud of?

I am proud of my ability to drive a car with a manual transmission.

7. Finish this sentence.

I never...finish a sewing project without starting completely over at least once.

8. Favorite vacation spot?

Mesa, AZ. (What will I do when I live in a neighboring zip code?)

9. Today is a (rate from 1 - 10).

6 -- so far. Compared to yesterday's "2," I'd say this is a healthy improvement!

10. Finish this sentence.

If you knew me really well you'd know...that the state of my kitchen floor is a pretty good indicator of my mental health.

Apr 17, 2010

The errand that was neither social nor secure

On the 27th of March, as Garry was preparing to file our tax records, we discovered that Lexi didn't have a Social Security card. This was odd because I'm pretty organized, all of our legal documents are in one place, and I was certain we had filled out the forms to request a card when Lexi was born.

However, last summer, when the card should have arrived, is a nebulous blur in my mind. I had a hard time remembering to water my plants, let alone do the filing. If Lexi's card had, in fact, arrived, it was missing. And since I have caught up our filing in recent months and random papers are not lurking in any corners of my house, I knew we (meaning I) would have to request a replacement card. Without it, we couldn't claim our fourth-born on our taxes, and we really wanted to do this.

So, on the 29th of March, Garry brought home a large bag from Albertson's that was bursting with all manner of snack foods interesting to a two-year-old. He aimed to arm me with food, my only weapon (besides the appropriate paperwork) when battling the tomb of the Social Security office.

On the 30th of March, we arrived at the Social Security office at 9:05 a.m., prepared to spend the day waiting to do business. There were already 27 people ahead of me in line at 9:05 a.m. (five minutes after the doors opened for the day). When I burst on to the scene with a giant, bright red stroller housing two tow-heads, the average age in the room plummeted by 30 years. We were big and loud and hungry, and we were there to stay.



I was prepared for Armageddon, a.k.a. a long outing with my children. I had visions of the DMV adventure of 2009 (also prompted by insufficient paperwork at tax time). I had the Social Security horror stories of family and friends circulating in my brain. I knew it would be bad. Very bad.

But, as it turned out, the stroller-bound kids and I simply did laps around the office for 45 minutes before it was our turn. Gavin munched away the whole time and was reasonably quiet. Lexi didn't object to the confinement. I couldn't believe my good fortune.

When I finally got to the counter, I submitted the appropriate paperwork. Only it wasn't the appropriate paperwork. I hadn't read the teeny tiny print about birth certificates being inadequate proof of life for an infant. I needed certified medical records to prove that Lexi had lived beyond birth. The clerk could give me Lexi's number, but if I wanted a card, I had to come back.

Really?

Even though the outing hadn't been as bad as expected, it had taken most of the morning to execute. There was a 10-mile commute involved, and the timing required skipping Lexi's nap. It took two weeks for me to summon the energy to attempt the feat again.

On the 13th of April, I returned to the Social Security office. We arrived at 9:15 a.m. I took my number (exactly the same as last time) and started doing laps. This time the wait was 30 minutes, and this time I had the right paperwork.

Lexi's card is in the mail.

And I lived to tell about it.

Apr 16, 2010

Eleven months



Dear Lexi,

You are eleven months old today. Eleven! I really can't believe it.

As your brothers have grown, I have welcomed each stage and milestone, thrilled to see them change and develop. Although I do appreciate your health and progress, it's hard for me to watch you grow up! Can't you just stay little a while longer?



This month you learned to stand all on your own. I cried the night you perfected the skill. You have also started cruising along furniture. I'll admit that I look forward to your walking, but only because your hands, knees, and feet will no longer act like a dust mop on my dirty floor. Even though your brothers walked earlier, I really don't think your tiny self should be walking yet. Crawl, baby, crawl. Then you can still be a baby.



Somehow you developed an irrational fear of the bathtub this month. I'm guessing something scared you -- maybe the brother who usually shares your bath. It took some tender coaxing to get you back in the tub happily after this unknown trauma. But last night, as I kept one arm around you and you tightly gripped the side of the bathtub, you finally let me pour water on your back, your arms, and eventually, your head. You even smiled towards the end. Maybe next time you might splash and play.



You have five teeth now. Two (both on top) arrived in the last few weeks. I'm pretty sure you've been miserable (perhaps other teeth are coming, too), since I have found pools of diluted blood on your crib sheet and you've been waking up a lot at night. You love-love-love to nurse, and I have given in to the easy nighttime pacifying. Tired as I am of your frequent midnight snacks, I'm pretty sure I won't subject you to sleep training for a while. I love the bond we share when you nurse, and I love the feeling of your completely relaxed body resting in my arms in the middle of the night.



Your hair is growing quickly and your bangs hang in your eyes. You don't like anything securing your hair into a cute style -- especially accessories like ribbons and bows. Contrary to what I expected before you were born, I really like ribbons and bows! But you won't have it. I'm lucky to manage a rubber band to sweep your hair out of your face.



I do love hearing you talk. You can say "mama," "dada," "hi" (with an enthusiastic wave), and "go." Sometimes we think you are saying "thank you," "Zach," and "Gavin," but we can't be sure yet. You have a delightful gibberish babble.



You love to eat, especially when you can have what everyone else is having! Even though we are still keeping eggs, milk, and nuts from your diet, you are mostly eating the same things the family eats. You mastered the soft-tipped sippy cup, and although you hate formula and won't drink breast milk from a cup, you do like juice and water. Despite the great increase and variety in your solid food intake, you still nurse every 3-4 hours, almost around the clock. And yet you remain tiny -- about 18 pounds.



Gavin is clearly your best friend, although you adore each member of the family. You will quickly crawl (your precursor to running, I suppose) toward anyone who enters the room. You are pretty leery of anyone not in the family, although you will allow a couple of my friends to hold you if I am not around.

Lexi, you have a soft old mom. You are my little princess...and I hope you always will be!

Love,

Mama

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