Oct 31, 2010

A tribute to the Onesie

Dear inventors of Onesies,

Your genius product used to be a staple at my house. Zach and Tyler wore Onesies every day of their lives until potty training interfered. Mostly I loved the layered look, but the added warmth a tiny t-shirt provided in cold weather was a nice bonus.

Gavin didn't wear Onesies as much because I wanted to cut down laundry, and with the arrival of a fourth child, eliminating dirty clothing was a high priority. Plus, dressing the infant needed to happen as quickly as possible. The extra layer took too much time.

My love affair with Onesies for Lexi began this summer, when she wore one every night of our hot, hot, hot stay in Arizona. When we returned to a more temperate climate, the Onesies sat quietly in the drawer -- until this week.

Lexi Godiva is always at work. I find her naked in the crib, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, and outdoors. She has a fascination with the potty (but the inability to actually use it) and a strong distaste for diapers (but the inability to live without them). The contents of the diapers she removes often gets spread in unsavory places. These facts are conspiring against a modest state of dress, to say nothing of plummeting Fall temperatures or the cleanliness of my home and Lexi's body.

Enter the Onesie.

To date, Lexi has been unable to manage clothing snaps on her own. She can yank apart just about everything else, but the location and reliability of Onesie snaps frustrate her little fingers. And so it goes that Lexi now wears a Onesie on a daily basis. As with many other facets of my life, containment is the only option.

Bless you for your ingenuity.

With all the respect and honor I can muster,

A loyal fan

Oct 30, 2010

Pumpkin carving

I'm secretly glad that Halloween falls on Sunday this year. The hubbub of the holiday was confined to a ward party (which we loved) and two school parties (for which I supplied treats but did not attend). We will open our door for trick-or-treaters tomorrow but won't hit the streets ourselves. I'm content with a simple celebration.

Tonight we carved pumpkins at Zach's insistence. Garry, bless his heart, made it a grand adventure. He gutted all of the pumpkins on his own. Then he involved the kids and designed and carved according to their wishes. Garry makes everything more fun.

I think he did a great job! This year's pumpkins included vampire teeth (Zach), a wee little ghostie (Gavin), a princess (Lexi), and Frankenstein (Tyler).

Happy Halloween!

Life skillz

Zachary's developmental benchmarks are always new territory for us. Hopefully he can handle his guinea pig status as we fumble around trying to figure out parenting at his stage. Right now an interesting issue we face together involves laundry. This issue has many facets: what he wears (or doesn't wear, or doesn't change), what gets (or doesn't get) into the dirty clothes hamper, and what gets (or doesn't get) into his drawers or on hangers.

My specific concerns surround the changing of socks and underwear and the putting away of clean laundry. One concern involves personal hygiene, which I realize is a personality thing that will evolve with time. We are trying to teach correct principles and hoping for the best! But the other concern just frustrates me!

Last week I noticed that Zachary had a pile of clean shirts on the floor of his closet. He had obviously tried on several shirts before selecting the perfect one for school. I told Zach I expected him to re-hang the shirts, and that they had better NOT end up in the dirty clothes hamper. Two hours later, what did I find? A pile of clean shirts squished in the hamper. ARGH!

This is how Zach arrived at doing his own laundry for a month. I don't think he believed me when I informed him of the consequence, but on Thursday he realized I was serious. I spent the day washing and folding six loads of laundry...none of which belonged to him. Today, since it has been ten days since I cleaned any of his clothes, Garry helped Zachary sort his laundry to wash. He had three loads to do today, and he was not happy about it.

But at the end of the day, I had to laugh. The boy who can't seem to pick up his clothes or hang his church pants properly or change his socks organized his shirts by color.

That's my boy.

Oct 28, 2010

Funeral for a fish, episode 2

Remember last summer when we babysat a fish and killed it after a few days?

We just set a new record for aquatic pet assassination: 20 hours.

Well, 20 hours plus Gavin.

So....Zach brought home two goldfish from the ward Halloween party last night. I'll be honest: I wasn't thrilled. But the kids were, and the fish were tiny, and I figured a few "cool Mom" points were mine if I let them live in a vase for a couple of weeks.

I actually took a picture of them swimming around this morning and planned to blog about my new pets pretty soon. In fact, I had downloaded photos and opened a web browser.

But things got busy and I walked away from the computer. Suddenly it was time to pick up the boys from school. I put Lexi in her car seat and walked back into the house to get Gavin. The boy who had been on my heels moments before was squatting in the kitchen sink, blasting a stream of steaming water into the fish vase.

The fish were dead.

They went from swimmy and happy to fried and dead in a matter of seconds. Poor little fishies. Poor little fishy owners. {They sobbed.}



The fish funeral, which took place in the hall bathroom, was quick and dirty -- fitting for the setting. I was the only participant besides the late honored guests.

Something tells me I might officiate in a similar manner very soon. The boys (and Dad) want replacements.

Oct 27, 2010

Halloween came early

Our ward threw a fun Halloween party tonight. We got all dressed up for the affair, since it constituted our entire Halloween effort for the year.

Zachary was Frankenstein.

Tyler was The Cat in the Hat.

Gavin and Lexi were Thing 1 and Thing 2.

I wore this silly headband, which garnered lots of funny looks from drivers-by on the way to the church, but not so many once we arrived.

At the party, we spent our time with Danny and Annie. They already have a special bond with Gavin and followed him around all night! I hardly knew what to do with myself when I only had one child to follow.

The carnival games were super fun, as was the trunk-or-treat event in the parking lot. Even though the temperature was in the 30's, the wind was calm, making the evening quite pleasant.

Back at home, the boys sorted their loot and everyone cleaned up. Crazy hair colors and face paints swirled down the drain.

Now we just have to figure out what to do with Zach's new goldfish.

Better luck....when?

I'm not sure why I thought today would be any different than all of the other days of my life. The morning routine was very familiar: wake up in the dark hours, feed the kids cereal amidst a cacophony of sound, prepare lunches, pray with family before school, launch Garry and the boys, shower with Lexi in the jumper and Gavin watching cartoons in my bed, etc. The Littles and I rushed through a Target run in usual fashion, as well: Gavin running amok while I hastily accumulate the items on my short list, then Gavin creating a spectacle in the check-out line.

Normal, normal, normal. (Exhausting, but normal.)

Why, then, was I expecting the heavens to smile upon me during a children's music class? Why? There was no light shining from above, no thunder and lightning, no magical halos over my children's heads that might manifest the signs of a miracle. We didn't have an extra-fabulous night of sleep or a visiting grandmother or Valium IV drips in our arms. No, this was just a regular day, and I was expecting Gavin and Lexi to do extraordinary things.

They had to listen, and obey, and sit. They had to be kind to others and share. They had to participate as the music teacher waved her arms and used her voice to provide glorious entertainment. They had to march and bang a drum and make a puppet's mouth sing.

Well, that's what the other children did.

Mine snatched toys and screamed and hit. They ran on the chairs and out the doors. They wandered the room and intruded on others' personal space. They ruined a fun opportunity for themselves.

Although I was very frustrated, I was not one bit surprised. This is my life as a mother of children who just can't get along. As I wrestled my screaming kids out the door in the middle of class, I wondered to myself how many times I have made such an exit. Several dozen, probably. The Littles and I tend to leave social gatherings in a dramatic fashion. Tension builds until the unacceptable nature of the kids' behavior reaches a breaking point.

At least this time I didn't come home to a locked house and have to climb through the kitchen window.

Oct 26, 2010

Tyler: Star of the Week

Tyler is the Star of the Week in his first grade class. He decorated this poster to display in his classroom. This week will be full of special privileges and spotlights for our sweet boy. What fun for him!

His teacher asked that we write a letter highlighting the things that make Tyler "exceptional." Here is the letter we sent to his class:

To the students of Mrs. C’s class:

We think Tyler is a terrific kid! He is a wonderful part of our family. Tyler has two brothers and one sister. He is the second oldest.

Tyler is interested in many things. He likes to learn and to figure out how things work. He loves doing science experiments, reading books, and exploring nature. Tyler likes to learn about space and volcanoes. When he turned six he got a model volcano for his birthday. He built the volcano, painted it perfectly, and then made the volcano erupt again and again and again!

Tyler also loves music. He has always had rhythm and enjoys dancing and performing. He isn’t afraid to be on stage in front of other people. Just like his Dad, Tyler likes to tap a rhythm with his hands or feet wherever he is. On Monday afternoons he takes a music class, where he is learning about instruments and musical patterns. Tyler enjoys singing and wants to learn to play the piano – and many other instruments!

At home, Tyler is our most compassionate, sensitive child. He has a tender heart and always tries to help his younger siblings. He is a great helper for his mom and usually does his chores (like doing the dishes, sorting the laundry, vacuuming, and cleaning his room) with a smile. Sometimes he even helps his older brother do his chores! He often asks, “How can I help?” We sure love his happy, calm attitude.

Tyler likes to ride his bike, climb trees, play in the park, play board games and video games, and spend time with his friends. He is artistic and loves to color and draw.

We sure love our Ty Guy! We hope you do, too.


Tyler’s Mom and Dad

pajama time

Tonight while Garry and the big boys were doing the dishes, I got the Littles ready for bed. We ended up in Lexi's room, looking at books. Taking advantage of a rare moment of calm, I read about a dozen stories to a captive audience. One of Lexi's favorites is "Pajama Time" by Sandra Boynton, which was perfect for the occasion.

I had to chuckle that Gavin was reciting "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" to himself as he flipped through a Book of Mormon Stories board book.

Lexi explored book after book as I read aloud. She pointed to Grover in her lap as I read "Jessie Bear, What Will You Wear?" and Oscar Otter as I read "Sheep in a Jeep." I wish she would cuddle on my lap so that would could enjoy books together, but she is much too independent for such things.

Such happy, content moments are few and far between with these munchkins. I'm glad we enjoyed this pocket of time tonight.

Bedtime was pretty precious, too.

Dinner conversation

I have been working hard to make dinner a more pleasant experience. As mentioned previously, the food part isn't always successful, but we are working on a formula for dinner conversation that I really love! For the last few weeks, everyone has shared two things over dinner: the best part of the day and the worst part of the day. I am finding that these are excellent conversation starters. We are all talking a lot more about the things that happen to us -- and the things that matter to us.

Last night for Family Home Evening, I shared this excellent talk by Thomas S. Monson, the prophet and president of our church. I included a story from his biography, which I started this week and can't put down. It's a treasure! Our lesson ended with a challenge: Look for ways to serve others (and act on them!) every day. We will all be accountable at the dinner table each night.

Here is a snapshot of our dinner conversation tonight:

Best part of the day: Class earned four stars for good behavior during art class, which means a prize next time they meet.
Worst part of the day: Not getting to go to Seth's house to play.
Act of service: Helping Tyler build a crane with Legos.

Best part of the day: Dinner (chicken bakes from Costco - his favorite).
Worst part of the day: Falling off the bars during recess.
Act of service: ?

Best part of the day: Jumping on the indoor trampoline at Savannah's house.
Worst part of the day: Having time-out in his room.
Act of service: Playing nicely with Lexi.

Best part of the day: Playing with kids at playgroup.
Worst part of the day: Working on two eye teeth.
Act of service: Making everyone laugh at dinner.

Best part of the day: Chatting with friends at playgroup.
Worst part of the day: A fender bender in the Goodwill parking lot. (Everyone is fine.)
Act of service: Making Halloween costumes.

Best part of the day: All but two pieces of a report at work are functioning properly.
Worst part of the day: Hearing about Heidi's fender bender.
Act of service: Putting all of the kids to bed! (This happened after dinner, of course.)


It will probably take a while to get in the groove of our new service routine, but I am looking forward to all of the happy conversations it will spark.

Oct 23, 2010


I don't have nearly as much time for blogging as I would like. This post will be a mishmash collection of events from the last little while, many of which deserve their own posts.

Lexi is 17 months old now. She is mostly delightful. I am enjoying her increasing ability to talk; she attempts to say everything we say now. She is adding "k" and "t" sounds at the beginning and ending of many words. She also adds "no" to lots of words: no shoes, no bib, no milk, no night-night, etc., in order to express her opinions. Lexi has a big personality and big ideas. Her favorite pastime is sitting in a bathroom sink with the faucets on full-blast. Watching her climb from the ground to the counter is quite amazing.

Last Sunday Lexi ran outside after church and rolled around in the empty flower bed. She was covered in dirt from head to toe. I was one happy mama when her adorable outfit came clean.

Tyler lost a tooth! Woohoo! Snaggletooth be gone! The tooth fairy paid him a dollar and even remembered to visit on the night he lost the tooth (which might be unprecedented). I'm thrilled that Ty is missing all four front teeth at the same time. Super cute.

Tyler is thriving in his weekly music class. The rhythms and instruments are a perfect fit for our boy's musical nature! Here he is pictured with his teacher, Miss Ro, and the music bag he designed.

How's this for irony? After nine months of having my books in storage in the garage, I finally put them back on the bookshelves downstairs. Gavin and Lexi immediately attacked them, so I put up these gates. Limited access is better than no access, I guess! I am very happy to have them back in the house...and a little surprised at how much I have added to the collection since I boxed them up to move!

We've been having trouble with the photo card reader that works with Garry's camera, so it has taken a couple of weeks to download pictures from Kid Photo Shoot: Take 3. I think this is the best we're going to get.

Zachary's football season ended today. We're all pretty happy about that! The Rams had an undefeated season. Playing tackle football was more work than Zachary expected, and we don't know if he will play again, but overall he had a good experience! We were blessed with fantastic weather on every game day -- quite amazing in these parts! Last week he "versed" his best friend Gavin's team. It was fun to see his family on the sidelines. In the picture below, Zach is playing center (in blue) with his hands on the ball.

Sometime last week we pulled out our telescope to look at the stars. We found a few constellations, looked at craters on the moon, and even saw Jupiter! Zach passed off his first scouting requirement for the Cub Scout Bear rank and we had a lot of fun together!

Gavin enjoyed some time in the leaves yesterday morning before we raked and bagged them. He has spent a lot of time in the yard this week, often using the grass as his own personal toilet. I'm not thrilled with this development, but I'm hoping the novelty will wear off as the temperatures cool.

Gavin has become obsessed with the rubber boots I dug out of storage a couple of weeks ago. He pairs them with every outfit -- even pajamas! I love this picture of Gavin snuggling with Stanley in bed in the middle of the night.

We enjoyed a fantastic dinner with our friends, Danny, Annie, and Gavin last night. Gavin and Zach are the same age (and football buddies as pictured above).
We have gotten to know his parents over the last couple of years but even better recently. A couple of weeks ago we shared our religious beliefs with this sweet family, and last night they committed to be baptized into our church. We feel honored to share this special experience with them and look forward to their progression in the gospel.

Oct 22, 2010

What I know

Motherhood has taught me something that never occurred to me before I had kids: I don't know everything. (Go ahead....laugh.)

I distinctly remember a conversation with a co-worker on this subject just days before Zachary, my oldest, was born. I remember where I was standing in the office and which large maternity top I was wearing. Mike, one of my bosses and a seasoned parent, said to me, "So, are you nervous?"

Thinking he was referring to labor and delivery, I said, "'s just a day. I think I can handle it." (How cocky is that?)

He countered, "I meant being nervous about being a parent for the rest of your life."

Oh. That.

I should have known in that moment that I wasn't prepared.

As a first-time parent I did a million things wrong. And now, as a four-time parent, there are simply more opportunities to fail. As my children are quick to point out, I make mistakes all the time. Raising kids throws into sharp relief my many weaknesses, both as a mother and a human being. This parenting business is hard work. The pay days seem few and far between. But then there are moments of clarity, glimpses of success, and I find the strength to carry on.

Like any journey, I find the way is easier when I have a roadmap. Two particular things are guiding my parenting right now. The first is an address given by Julie Beck three years ago at LDS General Conference called "Mothers Who Know." I don't remember feeling particularly moved when I first heard the talk. But in the last year I have gained so much respect and admiration for this remarkable woman and mother that I have read everything I can find by Julie Beck. Her words are guiding my life.

The other is a statement President Ezra Taft Benson made in General Conference in April 1988. He said, "When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands for our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities. We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives."

As a mom, I feel like I don't know much -- but I know enough. I know that being a mother is a noble calling. It is an opportunity that demands my best effort, my greatest resources, and, most importantly, my deepest faith. I am blessed to have heavenly support in my daily duties. Even the most mundane chores are elevated when I choose to serve my family with a happy heart and an eye on the prize.

What is that prize? Eternal life with God and my family. Eternity is a lot longer than a day. It's time to get prepared.

Oct 20, 2010

Fall tradition

Our trees have put on their Fall colors almost overnight. The backyard trees always turn more gradually, but the front tree transforms in less than a week. I'm sure that one good wind or rainstorm will strip the foliage, so I'm glad for a nice Fall photo of the house.

The backyard produces endless entertainment for the kids, especially now that leaves are in the mix. The pile of golden goodness grows daily.

Another sign that Fall has arrived: pumpkins on the porch. Maybe I should decorate for Halloween.

pass it on!

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