Mar 31, 2013

Gavin at church

Gavin has taken to drawing in a notebook during sacrament meeting.  I love it.  He is happily occupied for the entire hour, and he often produces masterpieces that make me smile.  Today's favorite is a picture of me as I walk up to the temple.  I was feeling all warm and fuzzy when he showed me the picture, and then he added: "You can't see me because I'm locking the car."  I'm sure he was referring to our temple trip last week.

After church's Gavin's Primary teacher pulled me aside in the hall and related this story:

Sister Beeston was giving a lesson on the Holy Ghost.  She explained to the kids that the Holy Ghost could help them make good choices.  Gavin raised his hand and said, "I really want to make good choices, but all these bad choices are inside me and they just come out!"  Well, that made me laugh out loud, and also smile inside.  I'm impressed that Gavin is thinking about his choices.  He's a good boy with a tender heart...and, luckily for me, a pencil.

Mar 28, 2013

Not a Box

At his "child-led" parent-teacher conference last week, Gavin showed us his "not-a-box." His class had enjoyed listening to the book, Not a Box, which is about a rabbit who creates a robot and a pirate ship and a race car out of a simple cardboard box.  When asked to use his own imagination with a box, Gavin made a rocket ship.  As he proudly showed us his work of art, I decided to forget that he completely ruined a new shirt while painting it.

Here is a video tour of Gavin's not-a-box.  He, of course, is the tour guide.  I wonder if he will design real rocket ships someday....

Prize fighter

Before church on St. Patrick's Day, Lexi was dancing on the table and took a tumble.  Before she hit the ground, her face hit a chair.  Big fat OUCH.

Later in the day she was smiling, but she had a big goose egg below her left eyebrow.

The next day a bruise began to form, and it got prettier from there.

Today, ten days after the injury, Lexi still has green "eye shadow" on the inside corner of her eyelid, but she won't allow another picture.

However, Gavin smacked his face on something today and is destined for a shiner of his own.  Maybe he'll feel more photogenic.

Spring break

It's Spring Break in these parts, and guess what we're doing?

Hanging out.

No schedule.  No stress.  No packing or driving or flying.

Lots of TV.  Lots of playing outside.  Lots of naughty food.

I'm smiling.

On my bucket list

Last week I took the kids on a little jaunt to Denver.  I needed something from the Church distribution center, which is located on the grounds of the Denver Temple.  Once I made my purchase, the kids and I walked around the temple, and then I made them sit for a picture.

It is my dream that one day, these rowdy, silly, rough-and-tumble kids will grow up and be worthy to enter the House of the Lord.  Sitting inside with my husband and all of my children is the number one item on my bucket list.

Mar 24, 2013

My voice is my passport...

...verify me.

Name that movie.

Last week Garry completed our passport applications.  In June, to celebrate our holy-smokes-we're-old 15th wedding anniversary, we will spend a week in Banff, Alberta, Canada.  I'm pretty excited to get a stamp in my passport (name that movie), and more importantly, to see a pretty cool place with a pretty cool guy.


Passport applications require pictures, and we thought we'd save $21.74 and by printing photos taken at home instead of having Walgreens take them for us.  So, armed with a really wrinkly bed sheet, a camera, and a piano bench, Garry and I took turns snapping passport pictures.  I went first (after taming my post-Sunday-nap bedhead and finding some lip gloss) and then took control of the camera.  Things were all business for a minute, but then the kids piled on Garry and we laughed a lot.

Aw, these pictures make my heart want to burst with love and joy.

And I'm really excited to leave five of those people behind so I can spend a week in Canada with the other one.

Kate at 19 months

Lately I've been thinking two thoughts: (1) Man, Garry and I have a lot of kids; and (2) Kate is really growing up!  These thoughts primarily occur as we all sit around the dinner table, talking and passing food. I am overwhelmed at the sheer volume of people (I realize it's only seven, not thirty), not only because we eat that much spaghetti, or because they produce so much laundry, but because I am responsible for teaching and raising and watching over so many tender souls.

And then there's Kate. I marvel at the Kate clearly communicates what she wants and doesn't want. She pulls faces and bangs on the table and often chuckles at just the right moment...and that's just at dinner time.  Her vocabulary is expanding to include [her version of] quite a host of words.  Most are pretty darn accurate, too:

No, mine, outside, spoon, bowl, cereal, socks, shoes, bunny, mine, no, 'kay, mom/mommy, dad/daddy, haha, valve, dip, jacket, coat, boo, I love you, knee, thank you, help, hi, bye, morning, night-night, see ya.  And there are probably others.  Having a semi-conversant vocabulary is incredibly helpful!

Kate's favorite activity is playing with shoes.  Notice I didn't say "putting shoes on."  No, she prefers to pluck them out of closets (generally only one per pair) and carry them around the house.  Her shoes and my shoes are generally the ones she prefers to use in this manner, so both of us have a hard time finding the correct matches at the correct times.

Kate has become quite clingy and opinionated about who can mediate her grumpiness.  She is struggling at the YMCA child watch again (which is additional motivation for me to go early) and hates the church nursery.  Some kind souls have taken her during the last two church hours, partly so that Garry and I can have some peace, and partly because we both have responsibilities during the last hour.  Today we were both teaching classes, so it was a relief to know she was relatively happy during that time.  Sometimes I wish a kind soul would move in with me during the day so Kate would leave my hip or my lap or just not wail when I leave the room without her. Or maybe I should just hire someone to tackle my to-do list so I can sit on the floor and play with my baby all day.

Kate loves books, and listening to many books of her choosing.  A current favorite is "Brown Bear, Brown Bear."  Sometimes she'll listen to Dr. Seuss.  She loves any book with a touch-and-feel option.  She likes puppet books and finger puppets in general.  But everything we read or play with or do has to be HER idea.  She is a girl with many opinions.

Kate reminds me so much of Gavin.  She cannot sit still. Never ever ever ever. She just has so much energy.  We are back to locking pantries and closets because her curiosity and propensity for large messes is significant.  She can almost turn a door knob. During Sacrament Meeting, doctor appointments, and the grocery store (I don't take her anywhere else) she is all over the place.  She can stand up in the grocery cart no matter how tightly I strap her in.  She mightily resists being in a car seat (thankfully she cannot yet get out).  She is trying to climb out of her crib, since climbing on tables and stools and the counter and the stove and the back yard play structure don't provide the thrill she needs.  

Kate seems to need fresh air daily.  She loves to run and play outside, and gets especially angry when I keep her in but the older kids can go out (that's usually when it's under 40 degrees). Kate loves to swing, but going down slides--especially the big ones at the park--is probably a close second.  She loves riding in the wagon.  She loves jumping on the trampoline.  The other day I asked if she wanted to be a certain something when she grows up.  Garry interjected with, "a tomboy."  Ha!  He's probably right.  She is my daughter, after all.

Having said that, Kate loves to dress up, both with princess garb and fireman's hats and regular clothes.  She's actually quite obsessed with taking off and putting on her own clothes, especially when she's already wearing clothes.  I'm mostly annoyed with this practice, but also recognize that being able to dress herself means we are one step closer to potty training!

Kate is just her own little person, a ball of fire just waiting to grow up and express her personality.  Sometimes I can sense her frustration at having a small, awkward body that holds her back from the things she wants to do.  She wants to be big and she wants to do things NOW.  I know exactly how she feels. She's my girl.

Mar 19, 2013

My children are amusing

I'm not generally an optimist (people who know me are snorting at the "generally"),
but sometimes I'm happy enough to see ridiculous things
and photograph them.

Here's a sampling from the last few days.

This one is actually gross.
I bent down to clean the bottom of the table leg
and found a smorgasbord of old food stuffed under the table.
I haven't been able to convince myself to touch it.
I might need a HAZMAT suit.

Kate loves to "help" with laundry.
While I was folding four neglected loads of the stuff,
she pulled out all the girly shirts and wiggled into them
until they hung around her waist.
The mom in me cringed at the stretched shirt necks,
but guess what?
It entertained her while I folded.
At highest count, she was wearing 11 shirts.
(I don't do laundry very often, can you tell?)

I loved Zach's personal chore chart on Monday.
Being awesome should be an aspiration for most people, I think.

This is our thermostat.
No wonder I was so cold on Monday.
Good grief.

Kate found a box of Sharpies on the table.
[Totally my fault.]
She had quite the masterpiece to show off at church.

Our little monkey did a number on the dishwasher.
Everything from the top rack ended up in the bottom of the machine,
and she just shoved off the bottom rack.
I didn't feel like emptying it,
so I put the bottom rack on the counter
and closed the door.

Should I buy these glasses?
Are flattering self-portraits possible?
Why do I look like such an old lady?
Am I in a contest for the longest/most ridiculous roots on the planet?
(I have a hair appointment next Tuesday.)

Dear Zach:
I'm sick of cleaning your clean clothes.
Do it yourself.

Mar 15, 2013

Where I've been

I'm not sure when or how my life became so full. It seems like just yesterday that I was jogging around Beaverton with a friend, who had three children at the time, and listening to her talk about her hectic, noisy household.  Since I only had a small Zach in my care, her comments were incomprehensible to me.  A loud house? No time to vacuum? Always in the car? What?

Well, I get it now.  Ten years later, I am either running or I am asleep.  I don't spend as much time running for exercise as I would like (I have an issue with my knee right now), but it seems I am always in a hurry.  Our morning school schedule is crazy.  Then it often happens that I am out all morning, between taking Zach from middle to elementary school, dropping off Lexi for preschool, running errands, visiting teaching (for which I must find childcare), attending church meetings, or going to a medical appointment or shopping or serving of some sort.  Then it's preschool pickup time, or home to receive Gavin after preschool, and then lunch and a little cleaning or more errands before nap time.

I can't decide if I'll be sad or glad when Kate gives up napping.  Of course I love the break each afternoon, and she certainly needs the sleep.  But instead or relaxing myself, or spending the time engaged in a project or studying for a lesson, or working on Young Women stuff, or blogging, for heaven's sake, I am mostly just trying to keep Gavin and Lexi quiet enough that they don't wake up Kate!  While I do enjoy playing with them, I think they are plenty old enough to entertain themselves quietly for 90 minutes.  They think otherwise.  Sometimes during nap time I collapse on the couch or in my bed because I'm  Getting up early to exercise takes its toll in the sleep department.  I absolutely love--and need--to have my gym time each morning.  I don't feel complete without it, especially because that is often my scripture/Conference/study time for the day, and my days are invariably better when I take the time to exercise my lungs and my mind and my soul before jumping into the day at home.  But I'm really tired.  And whenever I nap, I wake up to some kind of mess or trauma.  I usually regret napping, even on days when I am desperate for sleep.

After school there is homework and piano practice and a few chores for the kids.  On Wednesday Lexi takes ballet lessons.  On Thursdays Tyler takes art lessons.  At least every couple of weeks I make sure to fit in the boys' piano lessons (I know, I should be more often).  One Thursday evening our family had four places to be at the exact same time. We picked two. Until last week, Tyler and Zach had basketball practice in the evening. We just finished basketball season, and I am relieved.  Garry is probably more relieved than I am, since he largely handled Saturday morning games.  I participate in a church choir that is preparing a beautiful choral/instrumental program for Easter weekend (you should come!).  Practices are from 9-11 on Saturday mornings, and while it has been a sacrifice for all of my family members, that is sacred time for me.  I love it and I need it, and I will really miss it when it's over in a couple of weeks. Then it will be soccer season.

Tuesday afternoons/evenings are especially intense with Cub/Boy Scouts and mutual (youth group) for me.  I am responsible, with the help of my youth class presidency, for planning and executing activities for my girls each week.  During the last six weeks, my group has been in charge of activities for the other young women and sometimes young men, as well. I absolutely love being a youth leader (my girls are the BEST!) but it is a time-intensive responsibility. For three or four days a month, creating the ward newsletter is a busy thing, too.

And then there are Sundays. Sundays are supposed to be days of rest, right?  Hahahahahaha....!  Last week, I had a meeting at 7:00 a.m., followed by three hours of church, followed by a song practice.  During church, Garry was home with a sick Kate, and Gavin did this for about 90 minutes:

Awesome.  I love belonging to and serving for my church, but the lifestyle sure is busy.

Of course my mind is often occupied with the needs and concerns of my children.  Zach is firmly entrenched in the tween years, where he is opposed to bathing and deodorant but obsessed with his hair and his clothes.  I worry a lot about his friends at school, his resistance to church attendance, and his general defiance and attitude.  He is getting old enough to stay home with the rest of the kids for short stretches of time (longer if I take one of the Littles or if Kate is napping), so that shows some responsibility and maturity that I like to see.  He loves Boy Scouts and works hard (and has fun) at the weekly meetings.  Tyler is generally happy, he loves the privacy and freedom of having his own bedroom, really likes school, and has a best friend in our ward who I love.  He is thriving on the piano (and would even more if I was a better teacher).  But he has severe Little Brother Syndrome, picks fights with siblings for no reason, and generally craves more attention than I can give him.  I often worry about his emotional well-being.  Gavin is always a concern.  Is he watching too much TV?  Getting enough cuddle/love/attention time?  Are his fine motor skills falling behind?  Is his place as the middle child the source of his craziness?  Will he EVER stop sneaking food and leaving a mess behind him?  Lexi has started crying/clinging when she goes to preschool, a friend's house, the YMCA, and her Primary class.  What is that about?  How can I help?  Should I give in to her emotional manipulation? Her eczema is getting out of control again, and she's had a crazy rash and bouts of hives again this week.  She also had two bad ear infections recently.  We are all tired of medicine around here.  Kate is equal parts charming and exasperating.  She climbs on EVERYTHING.  She gets into EVERYTHING.  She never, ever sits still.  But I love seeing her curiosity and her energy.  She is starting to talk a little more ("no" and "mine" are now prominent words), and that is lots of fun.  She's a major Daddy's girl.  That's cute...and hard.

So of course the kids are a big source of my busy life.  Sometimes I struggle to pause and savor the moment.  I have a running joke with a friend about losing my keys.  Whenever they are missing, I send her a text about it.  She guesses where they will turn up, and then I report the hiding place.  During the latest episode she offered some advice: SLOW DOWN. Yeah, I know! I did take the little kids to the park the other day and captured one moment in time that made me really happy.  Doesn't she look like bliss personified?

Garry is the workhorse of the family.  He does everything--working and cooking and clean-up and bedtime and playing and grocery shopping and the finances and all things IT for our household (and sometimes our friends).  I really don't know what I'd do without him, which is why my recurring dream that I'll be a young widow is freaking me out.

I am mostly doing better in the mental health department.  It's a nice change for everyone!  I'm figuring out what I like and who I like and how to be a friend and a mom and a wife again and how to balance my responsibilities.  I know that my challenges are not unique. Everyone is busy with their own stuff, and everyone experiences heartache, and everyone has good days and bad days, and most members of my church feel the same joys and stresses I do related to their testimonies and callings.  It's all good.  I love my life and my family and where we live and what I'm doing.  It's just BUSY.  And I need new glasses. I might get some red ones. Aren't theses picture funny?

So my house is a mess and my laundry is never done and I eat too much chocolate and I don't follow up on all the good thoughts I have and feel perpetually behind in everything I do.  I rarely blog anymore, and that makes me sad for a number of reasons.  I miss it, and I miss you, my online friends.  So here I am, saying hello.  I'm not sure when I'll be back, but I'll be thinking of you.  And my to-do list.

Sunny Day

The planets aligned and our family had a terrific day.  The kids were out of school (the elementary school had a teacher work day...although we didn't realize that the middle school was in session and Zach missed math--oops), Garry had the day off (rollover PTO from 2012), and the weather was fantastic.  We spent the morning at Fox Run Park and had a great time.  As I was playing soccer with Zach, I realized I need to run outside as much as he does.  Despite skipping the gym this morning, I had a good workout chasing kids and balls.  I even had to stretch my legs when I got home.  Haha.

We started on the playground and grassy field, then hiked around the park to see the ponds and trees.  The kids were anxious to walk out on the frozen ponds, but we enforced a safety precaution and kept them on the muddy banks.  They were mostly content to throw heavy things and skip pine cones on the ice.

When we got home, Lexi was asked to play at a friend's house.  The boys played in the backyard for several hours with their friends.  Garry and Kate napped, and I spent some time preparing my Young Women lesson for Sunday and blogging.  The older boys are enjoying a "late night" at another friend's house, and Garry is bringing Red Robin take-out for the two of us to eat. I anticipate a quiet evening at home.  How nice is that?

pass it on!

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