Nov 30, 2010

The story of Gavin

On November 30, 2007, Gavin Drew joined our family. On that magical day, we had no idea what a firecracker he'd be! We love this little boy!

Gavin, our last Oregon baby, came two weeks ahead of his due date. I had been having signs of labor for weeks, and at a check-up the week he was born, the midwife said, "If your water breaks, call 911!" We lived half an hour from the hospital with no traffic, and with my history of speedy labors, we were all a little concerned about the time line. Garry was especially hoping we could avoid a roadside delivery.

As it turned out, Gavin was awfully considerate with his timing. He waited just long enough for us to finish a lot of things that week, like home and visiting teaching, final piano lessons (I had 11 students at the time), work obligations, photo orders (Garry had a photography business back then), dental appointments, a Smart Cookies field trip, and even laundry and housework! I was thrilled to attend a wonderful party in my honor on Thursday night, where I enjoyed the company of great friends, delicious food, and luxuries like a foot massage and a mini pedicure. I had only been home from the party for half an hour when true labor signs became apparent. I called ahead to the hospital, and then called a dear friend, who came and slept on my couch.

Garry and I arrived at the hospital at midnight, and I was admitted immediately. Labor began soon afterward, so I got a light epidural and the resident on call broke my water. Things didn't happen as quickly as expected (at least relative to our prior experience); another two hours passed before the contractions really meant business. The light epidural was absolutely perfect until the last 30 seconds of delivery, but the miracle of Gavin's arrival erased the pain and craziness almost instantly.

We were certainly surprised at Gavin's size when he arrived. He weighed 8 pounds 11 ounces and was 22 1/4 inches long at birth. (That outpaced his big brother's measurements by nearly a pound and two inches!) I was grateful he came at 38 weeks instead of 40! Gavin's shock of blonde hair, chubby cheeks, and dimples made him extra adorable. He wriggled into our hearts right away.

Three years later, Gavin is an energetic, talkative, curious, expressive, intense, fearless little boy. His enthusiasm for life is contagious!

This morning when he discovered the mini trampoline we bought for his birthday, he yelled (while bouncing), "FANK YOU for dis GREAT trampoline! FANK YOU, FANK YOU, FANK YOU!" Opening presents was the highlight of the morning, but of course he (and Lexi) enjoyed them all day.

The family celebrated with Diego birthday cake after dinner. Gavin has long anticipated the special occasion that warranted Diego paper plates. He was so excited!

Some fun things about Gavin at age three are:

  • Favorite clothing: his "green clothes" (worn today) and red rubber boots
  • Special friends: Stanley and Russell
  • Preferred TV shows: Little Einsteins; Go, Diego, Go!; The Backyardigans
  • Favorite movie: Toy Story 3
  • Favorite book: Anything silly and rhythmic by Dr. Seuss
  • Favorite Activities: Picking up "da guys" from school; riding in the car; attending Tyler's music class; welcoming Daddy home; reading scriptures with the family
  • Pet peeves: Mom on the phone or out of the room; twisted socks; the nursery class at church
  • Skills: Climbing, jumping, unlocking, balancing, finger dexterity, verbal communication, compassion
I conducted a birthday interview with Gavin this afternoon. It's a pretty entertaining four-minute video!

I love this boy....even though surviving his first three years of life feels like a significant triumph!

Nov 24, 2010


I don't consider myself a very spontaneous person, but I have to say I'm very glad that, on a whim, we decided to drive to Arizona for Thanksgiving. This is the sort of trip that we usually plan months in advance. I make packing lists and wash laundry and leave the house spotless. Not this time!

No....this time, we decided to make the trip around noon on Monday, and by 5:00 p.m. we merged onto I-25. We were well south of Pueblo before I started the search for a hotel in New Mexico. I had to manage a few other last-minute details on the phone as we drove, but so far I don't think I forgot to pack anything besides a Christmas present that I can mail. Not too shabby!

The best part of the deal is that we are making some fantastic memories. Instead of spending the week lamenting my loneliness, I am surrounded by family and friends. What is better than that? Um....nothing.

Garry, our fearless leader, is the best.driver.ever. He never gets tired.

The DVD systems worked really well, keeping the kids vastly entertained. We only made four stops between Colorado Springs and Mesa -- and one of them was overnight!

We stayed in the Hilton Garden Inn in Albuquerque on Monday night, which was a lovely part of our grand adventure. The kids were thrilled with the "fancy" room. (Admittedly it was leaps and bounds better than the Super 8 motel from Summer 2008, but nothing especially spectacular.)

We had special permission to sleep six in a room designed for four. Lexi slept with Garry and me, Zach and Gavin shared the other queen bed, and Tyler claimed a chair and ottoman. Once everyone settled in their beds, we turned out the lights. Everyone had the giggles and the wiggles after five and a half hours in the van at the end of a long day. I sang Primary songs for a while, and just as I was running out of voice (and song options), Garry turned on Dr. Seuss audio books. The voice of David Hyde Pierce lulled us all to sleep.

On Tuesday morning we took advantage of the hotel pool as soon as we were awake (which, miraculously, was a managable 7:00 a.m.). Swimming as a family was fantastic! Even though the water was a little cool, we had the pool to ourselves and had a marvelous time. We warmed up in the hot tub before heading back up to our room.

We enjoyed the *delicious* cold cereal, milk, yogurt, and bananas we had brought along for breakfast. Bon apetit!

And then we hit the road again. We still had a long way to go after passing the Arizona state line, but we were heading in the right direction!

Now, as we are settled at Granny's house for a long weekend, we are grateful for a comfortable, working van; accumulated vacation days; a long Thanksgiving school break; healthy kids who travel well; functional, portable DVD players; dry roads; strategically placed gas stations; cell phone coverage; and the ability to find joy in the journey.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 21, 2010

Wholesome recreational activities

I took a nap yesterday afternoon, all snuggled in my bed. What started out as a delightful escape into this fantastic book ended up in peaceful slumber. I really needed the sleep! It was a glorious nap, albeit too short. Lexi's post-nap cries summoned me from bed.

In a fog, I stumbled to her bedroom. I couldn't figure out why someone else hadn't rescued her. That's when I heard the chants from the back yard.

"Go, Tyler, go! Go, Tyler, go!"

Lexi and I rubbed our eyes and went out to investigate.

We found Garry, Zach, Tyler, Gavin, and the neighbor boy running relays in the back yard. Two jump ropes were spread at either end of the grass, and the boys took turns doing timed races of various kinds. They ran forward and backwards, walked like gorillas (hands on their ankles) and crabs (hands and feet on the ground, bellies up), hopped, skipped, and rolled. Those who weren't racing were cheering on the active participant. I later learned that the whole neighborhood could hear the melee. Garry stood on the sidelines, timing the kids.

The "gorilla walk."

Running forward...and backward.

Rolling across the yard.

Observing the fun...and cheering from the sidelines.

It turns out that Garry was helping Zach fulfill a requirement for his Bear rank in the Cub Scouting program. With Garry's encouragement, Zach is all fired up about scouting, which is perfectly timed as we head into a week without school. Today they are working on requirements for the Religious Knot and special Centennial ribbons. It warms my heart to see Zach and Garry working together on worthy goals and engaging the entire family in wholesome recreational activities.

Nov 18, 2010


I was emailing a friend this morning when Gavin walked into our home office. In one hand he carried a carton of peppermint ice cream, in the other hand, a large spoon. I laughed. We convened to the kitchen, where we sat on the floor, shared the spoon, and finished off the ice cream. Yum!

A few minutes later I set about cleaning the hall bathroom, which is around the corner from the kitchen. I thought the Littles were downstairs watching TV. Not so. They were in the fridge. I found Gavin feeding Lexi some yogurt. I was impressed; Lexi didn't have a drop on her shirt and the floor below her was also yogurt-free. (Notice I didn't say "clean"....)

That's when I decided to make lunch. I warmed a slice of leftover pizza for Gavin. While I worked on Lexi's lunch, I didn't notice him taking a bag of shredded cheese from the fridge. He piled some on his pizza and then asked for a fork. It wasn't until I delivered the fork that I found his new lunch. He said, "I need a fork to cut the cheese!"

Silly boy. Life would be so very dull without you!

Nov 17, 2010

This is how we do it.

Anyone who has read this blog or knows my family at all can understand why I don't enjoy shopping. It mostly drives me crazy. If my kids tag along, there's an element of chaos and stress that drains any amusement that a "quick errand" might provide. And if I'm alone, I just wish I was home.

So now that we have entered birthday and holiday season, where lots of shopping must be done, I have pulled out my secret weapon: Oh, Amazon, how I love thee and thy free two-day shipping! And so does my mother, who bought Christmas presents for my kids and birthday presents for Gavin
this week. Mr. UPS and Ms. FedEx have been busy since Saturday.

The only problem? I need a permanent sign on my doorbell: "If you ring the bell, I will break your finger." (Or something more gentle but equally effective.)

Tonight these presents will be wrapped and tucked away. Then I will make a sizable donation to the cardboard recycling center!

Nov 16, 2010

18 months

I can't believe my baby is 18 months old. Having a sweet little girl in our family has been such a pleasure! Lexi picked a funny spot along the living room wall to be photographed this morning. Since she rarely cooperates for pictures, I decided to go with it. So what if the green clashes with hot pink and brown?

Lexi is extremely verbal for her age. She says things like "happy birfday," "sipshis" (scriptures), "pikshuh" (picture), "puzzo" (puzzle), "dwink milk Mommy," "Daddy work," family names, body parts and clothing pieces, all kinds of food names, and lots more. I love her chatter and her ability to communicate with me. Being able to talk with a toddler is a new experience in this household!

Lexi might be a singer one of these days. She enjoys any rendition of "Old MacDonald" and chimes in for "e-i-e-i-o" and the occasional animal sound. She LOVES music and dancing. It is fun to watch her participate in the family portion of Tyler's music class. Too bad a music class of her own is too expensive! She would love it.

Lexi got a haircut last week (sorry, no pictures!). Since the time her bald spot started growing hair again, she has had two layers of hair in the back. The discrepancy has been bothering me for a long time, and I knew that eventually I'd have to even it out. Last week I took a deep breath and trimmed it up. I'm thrilled! Even though I miss the length, Lexi's hair is much fuller in back and even curls under naturally. Lexi tolerates pigtails of some sort on most days -- just not today.

Lexi cut her first eye tooth (on the top left) today and the other one on top should follow any day. The eye teeth brought with them two nasty ear infections last week (thankfully, her first since April), and I'm not sure that the antibiotics are working. I will be glad when Lexi's little body takes a break from teething so her happy personality can return.

Lexi loves to look at books, but doesn't enjoy when I read to her. She loves babies and cuddly things, especially her ragged stuffed doggie, Betsy. She likes to ride around in our Little Tikes car and a dump truck that is just her size. Although she asks to watch shows with her TV-obsessed brother, she won't sit for one. Her favorite place to play is the bathroom sink, with the faucets on full-blast. A runner-up is the pantry (pictured above). She can scale the shelves and open the plastic bins with her favorite snacks. As you can see, she isn't happy when I declare the pantry off-limits and lock it.

Lexi is enamored with least the idea of shoes. She takes them off anywhere and everywhere. We have lost a couple of her shoes in random places because I don't always notice when she removes them. She seems to enjoy the new boots I picked up for her last week. I like them because they can keep her feet warm without socks. I thought the high boot might be more difficult to remove...but I was sadly disappointed on that point. Oh, well!

Lexi and Gavin both have check-ups in two weeks. I will post their physical stats when I have them!

Nov 14, 2010

Happy Saturday

Yesterday I caught myself several times feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I was just glowing with love for my sweet family. Everyone was mostly happy, getting along, helping each other. I took the opportunity to bask in the glow of happy family life. Ah.......

The day's events weren't too remarkable. The kids got up early. I started laundry before 7:00. Everyone helped clean the house. Garry attended the church's worldwide training meeting. While he was gone, I took the kids to Kohl's, where we bought jeans for the boys and a coat for Zachary. We ate lunch together. The babies napped. I worked on a Christmas project, Garry picked up some groceries, and the boys played video games.

Then came the activity everyone cited as the "best part of the day" during dinner: watching "Toy Story 3" together. We spread out a blanket and enjoyed popcorn and candy. We cuddled in blankets. Most of all, we laughed! I LOVED the movie, and I LOVED spending that fun time with the kids.

Afterward, we hung out downstairs together for a couple of hours. The kids played and played. Garry and the Littles worked puzzles and played with their toys.

Zach and Tyler played "catch" with a paper airplane and a laundry basket. It was hilarious! Success was not consistent, but the attempts were quite entertaining.

Gavin and Lexi favored us with some music. Lexi was dancing in her cute. That girl loves to groove! And I always get a kick out of seeing those two sitting side-by-side, cooperating in an activity. It's pretty rare!

We all went to bed happy last night.

Zach's room

Last year for his birthday, Zach received a shark poster and a shark clock. He LOVED both items, as he was obsessed with sharks at that time. We hung up the poster and the clock on the day of his birthday. Sadly, Gavin ripped the poster from the wall that very afternoon. It was tragic.

Even more tragic is the fact that it took us a whole year to buy a frame for the replacement poster. Zach opened that on his birthday this year, and, a month later, we finally hung it on the wall.

Zach's shark clock also died recently. I found a replacement at Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago. Zach and I planned to find shark pictures online to put in all of the frames, but when we stumbled on a website with all kinds of wildlife photos, we concocted a new plan. I really like how the clock turned out, and especially love the way the pictures complement the colors in Zach's bedroom.

It feels good to have these projects off my mental checklist. Zach is thrilled with the new decor!

Nov 10, 2010

Catching up

The last couple of weeks have been a little nutso. I can always tell when something spiritually significant is coming up -- like the baptism or a Relief Society lesson -- because the week before is very challenging. Identifying the pattern has been helpful, but not in a make-life-easier sort of way. That's why I haven't been blogging much, but today I am trying to catch up.

What follows is a mish-mash of photos (in no particular order) that captures scenes from family life lately.

1: Gavin's potty-training has severely regressed. I throw away the poopy underwear after the third accident in a day. On the flip side, Gavin is thrilled with the re-emergence of "potty treats" when he has a successful trip to the toilet. The treats live in a Halloween bucket on top of the fridge. On this day, he got the bucket down by himself but lost his balance on the counter and let the bucket fly. He made short work of cleaning up the spilled candy and carried the loot around in his shirt for a while.

2. Football season offically ended with the team party last week at IT'Z, which is a venue like Chuck E. Cheese on steroids. It was crazy-expensive, so we just paid for Garry to take the big boys. The Littles and I stayed home. Zach and Tyler were thrilled with the adventure, and Zach loves his football trophy. Here is a photo and short video from the coach's ceremony.

3. When Zach got a new bike for his birthday, Tyler assumed ownership of Zach's old bike and we put training wheels on Tyler's bike for Gavin. The hand-me-down bikes are not in great shape, but they will do well enough this winter. Gavin's bike is a little big and needs new pedals, but he is enamored with his new form of transportation.

4. Our first snowfall of the season arrived last night. Zach and Tyler thought I was crazy for making them take coats to school in the sub-freezing weather. Our compromise was stuffing coats into backpacks. Silly kids.

5. Gavin and Lexi discovered a bin of blankets under Lexi's crib the other day and turned it into a reading nook for a while. So adorable. I wish these kids played well together more often!

6. Zach has moved into the Bear den in cub scouts. He loves it. On this night, he came home from scouts with a "Made in China" sticker on his forehead....and wouldn't take it off. He kept it on while finishing his homework. I finally made him remove it before school the next day.

7. Before I realized she had two terrible ear infections, I coped with Lexi's incessant crying by holding her all.the.time. We've had a miserable couple of weeks. Anyway, I attempted solo use of the Moby wrap one morning when at my wit's end. Lexi fell asleep in less than 10 minutes.

8. I am experimenting with letting Gavin walk when we go shopping. It's mostly disastrous, but he can wriggle out of buckles and climb out of the basket, so I don't have many options. Gavin is quick to recite the rules when walking at a store: "Stay by da cart and don't touch fings." Even Zachary has trouble following these rules! Maybe I should lower my expectations.

That's our life in a nutshell. (I'm tired.)

pass it on!

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