Monday, March 24, 2014

Life As We Know It

Life seems to pass by quickly at times, so I feel the need to document some of it.

Marissa has done some eventful things lately. She learned to do the monkey bars (and does them constantly now), she learned to ride a bike without training wheels (which took her less than 10 minutes to master--amazing!), and she stopped sucking her thumb... all in the same week. I am so proud of her for all of her accomplishments, but I'm especially happy about no more thumb sucking. I thought it was going to take a lot more than it did. She hurt her thumb somehow and had to have a band aid on it. The first night she could not sleep for hours because she was so used to having her thumb to suck. But after a few days, she just stopped, all on her own. No nagging or reminding, it was just time and she did it on her own. Love it. This is one of those times when having a bunch of kids is good because I just don't have as much time to focus on each person all the time, including the negative things like thumb sucking.

Erin stopped doing gymnastics in January and started doing Up With Kids, which is an acting/singing group. They will put on a play in April and she loves it. Probably mostly because she's with her best friend. She also did Battle of the Books this year and read all 20 books (it's a national list). They were put on different teams and competed against all the other fourth grade teams. Their team won. Then they got to compete against a team of teachers in front of the whole school and they won that too! She got a trophy and a book, and she was so proud. So was I! She loves reading. I wish I was more like her.

Alex has enjoyed doing different sports. He loved this season of Jr. Jazz Basketball and made some baskets during the games. It's fun to watch how much better second graders are compared to the first graders last year. They're getting pretty good. After that he wanted to try indoor soccer, which we are still doing. He definitely goes after the ball and gets lots of exercise each game. The last game I went to was great. They were tied 3-3 when the coach yelled, "There's only 20 seconds left, we just need one more point!" And so at the last second, someone passed the ball to Alex and he kicked it in the goal. It was pretty sweet, even if they don't actually keep score at these games.

Connor sure is a funny kid, without trying to be. He usually says something interesting in his prayers, which he still insists on saying at dinner every day. Sometimes he blesses us to not die, or that we won't do jobs, or that Jesus will come alive again. He usually does not bless the food, however. I guess blessing us to not die probably covers whatever we might eat. He has a great vocabulary and will just use different words that I didn't know he knew, like, "I'm basically done with my dinner." I wish I could remember all the funny things he says. The other day he said, "Mommy, let's play house. Let's pretend that you're the mom and I'm the kid and Hallie is the baby. And pretend your name is Laura but I just call you mom." That's when I told him I was going to do laundry, in the game of course. The other night I kissed him twice and he said, "Don't kiss me two times, only once or fwee times, because I'm fwee. It's like I'm FWEEE!" (as he waved his arms like he was free). He's also been so polite and good with asking nicely for things. Sometimes he asks for something and then says, "Wait, I forgot to say please!" 

Hallie is just so cute. Everything she does is cute or funny. Everyone just loves her. It's so nice to have a baby her age because she still wants to be near me and doesn't get mad at me about much. Okay, maybe if I don't let her climb into the car by herself she gets mad, but that's about it. About a month ago, she started saying, "Uh huh" for yes and "Uh uh" for no. It was so quiet and subtle, but so sweet. She has since dropped the "Uh huh" and now just says "Uh uh" or "No" for everything, whether she means yes or no. You'll ask her if she wants breakfast and she'll say, "No" while running to the kitchen so excited to eat. She also understands a lot and will say "Kay" after we ask her to do something. It's pretty cute. Since our kids, like every other kid in this country, are obsessed with the movie "Frozen", Hallie now actually sings (belts out), "Let it go, let it go!" Funny. She will also be starting her first official week of nursery in one week. That is a pretty big and exciting day for all involved, mostly me and Jared. We've been taking her there and staying with her for a couple of months so I know she will love it.

My baby turning 18 months is also weird for me because I've always been pregnant (or just about) by the time my kids went into nursery. Not this time. It's the first time I have felt like it would not be okay to have another baby at this point. Who knows what will happen in the future (since I always imagined I'd have 6 kids), but for now, it is nice to have my own non-pregnant/non-nursing body back and to get a full night's sleep. And you know, everything else that goes along with little babies.

So, I turned 38 in February. Yikes. It's better than the alternative, but still, it's pretty old. You know that also means it's my 20 year high school reunion? Yeah, I have absolutely no desire to go. I vowed to never go to another one after my 5 year reunion. Wasn't it awkward enough in high school? Why would I want to go through that again? Plus, I already get together with the friends I would want to see anyway (and Facebook stalked everyone else I would want to know about).

On my birthday, Jared made me compete in my first racquetball tournament. It was kind of fun, but I lost every game. I did another one this weekend and lost every game again. It was not that fun. Failure is rough. Cheryl did this one with me and did way better than me. She had more fun than I did and will want to do more tournaments. I think if I actually practiced every now and then, I would get better and not lose every game, but we'll see if I can get over the "being a failure" feelings enough to sign up again. I have been really struggling lately with feelings of failure. I had a series of failures beginning in January that all added up to basically a big setback for me. It was rough. I won't go into the details, but it makes me want to close myself off into my little cave to avoid rejection and failure. I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I do. It's something I need to work through, I suppose.

Jared got me my first smart phone for my birthday. It's nothing too fancy, but for me, this is a big step. It's nice to be able to take pictures and send them to people. And I'm starting to get used to the other perks of a smart phone. Welcome to like 5 years ago? The week after my birthday we went to St. George for my other present, the St. George Parade of Homes! There's probably nothing more in life that I like more than a good Parade of Homes. I dragged my whole family to three days worth. They were troopers, for the most part, even though they think it's really boring. We tried to break it up so that we'd see some in the morning, go back to the condo and swim or watch movies, then go to a few more that night. Cheryl and Lincoln came down and stayed one night, so that was fun. There were some really amazing and memorable homes. I loved it!

Jared just got a promotion at work, which is always exciting. People really like Jared and the contributions he is making at his job. This doesn't surprise me at all. I've always known what a genius he is and how he can (and will) fix anything, and who wouldn't like him? This promotion came at about the same time as his yearly raise so it is significant, for us anyway. I feel so blessed, and at the same time feel a greater responsibility to use our money in the right way for the right things. There was an excellent talk at stake conference today that basically talked about being in danger of becoming rich, and what that could do to us. Jared and I have been thinking about this a lot in the past year, about King Benjamin's counsel to give to the poor and what this really means. It is so easy to be stingy, or selfish, or think about all the other worldly things that our extra money could buy. Or to adjust your lifestyle so that there isn't any extra money anymore. I feel like it's human nature to want money and things, and I definitely feel this tendency. But I know that all that we have, everything, is from God and that we do need to use it wisely. It's definitely a balance to figure out needs vs. wants and I am constantly trying to master it.

One last (kind of) funny story. Last week, our heater stopped working. We were lucky it wasn't the middle of winter, but it was 64 degrees in our house, just a bit chilly. Jared went and fiddled with the furnace a bit before work, but we decided we should call the furnace guy. Since it is still under warranty, we would only have to pay the $75/hr. service charge. The guy took it apart and found pieces of a branch wedged in a tube that came from the intake tube from outside. He put it back together and it still didn't work. We started on the second hour when he took apart some more of the furnace and cleaned out some sawdust from another tube. When he put it back together, it still didn't work. He couldn't find anything else wrong, so he traced it outside where he saw a yellow, plastic bat sticking out of the intake tube! Apparently, my kids were using that as the perfect spot to store their weapons. In their defense, it was at the perfect height for them. And also, apparently, your furnace won't work if the air intake is blocked by a plastic bat. So, we paid $150 for the guy to take the bat out of the air intake. Sheesh! Lesson learned.

Monday, January 20, 2014

History of Glasses

I just got LASIK surgery last week. Wait... let me rephrase that in case you didn't catch it. After years and years of wearing glasses and contacts, not being able to see the clock at night, or while swimming, or to put on make-up... I FINALLY GOT LASIK SURGERY!!! I feel like one of my big life goals has been crossed off my list. I feel amazed that I can see the clock in the morning, that I don't have to take out my contacts because they're bugging me anymore, that I don't have to reach for my glasses every morning (even though I still do out of habit). It is amazing. AMAZING!! But before I go any further, here is a history of glasses, my history of glasses:

I've needed glasses for exactly 75% of my life (yes, I figured it out to the month). I got them when I was 9 (feel free to do the math to figure out how old I am), no more than a kid. And exactly how much of those glorious, carefree pre-glasses years I actually remember probably can't be known, but I'd say not a whole lot compared to the rest of my life. What I'm getting at here is that for almost as long as I can remember, I have needed glasses. And it's been a defining trait in who I am for, well, a long long time.

It began in third grade. I sat on the front row of the class, but it wasn't that close to the board because there was a table in front of me. My teacher would write the spelling words for the week on the board and we would copy them down to study them at home. She told anyone in the back of the class that couldn't see the words to come sit at the table while they copied them down. I couldn't see the words. But I was on the front row already and I was extremely shy, so usually I would just squint and do my best at making out the words. Sometimes I went up to the table, but most of the time it was way too embarrassing. It never dawned on me that glasses could fix this problem. I was 9 after all. Well, as it was, I went through at least half of that year copying the spelling words down wrong, studying them at home wrong and then getting them wrong on my test. That's probably why I still have to think twice when spelling certain words. It must have been so gradual that I didn't notice and neither did anyone else.

That summer, my mom religiously dragged all the kids to the eye doctor for our yearly eye exam. But this time, I needed glasses. The first kid in the family. One of the first kids in my class. I guess I was a little surprised that I even needed them. But then, all the missed spelling words and squinting in class made sense. I picked out a pair of gray plastic glasses that my mom claims were the most expensive ones in the shop (which I find very hard to believe judging by how ugly they were, but apparently in style then). A couple of weeks later, we went to pick them up. I still remember the drive home because I was amazed at everything I saw. Trees had individual leaves. Grass had little blades. And spelling words were probably going to have individual letters.

I wore that pair for two years. I can't find my elementary school pictures, but here's a shot of my first pair.
My next pair was pretty similar to the first, it being the 80's and all. I wore those in 6th and 7th grade. And also being the 80's, my bangs were a flower.
Then came time for me to try out contacts. Yeah, I'd done the whole glasses thing, the whole "being a nerd" thing, it was time. So I went and got fitted for my first pair of contacts. After a little bit of practice getting them in (all right, a lot) I got used to wearing them. They were really great, for the most part. They were soft contacts, but this was before disposables, so I only had one pair. And I don't think I even had a pair of glasses that I could wear when I wasn't wearing my contacts. I don't know if I didn't clean them well enough, if I wore them too long, if my eyes were really sensitive, or a combination of everything, but after only a few months of wearing them, I developed a corneal ulcer and it was painful. I ended up at the ophthalmologist who told me that it was good that we caught this when we did (or I could have gone blind--am I making this part up?), and that I could never wear contacts again. Big bummer! After a series of eye ointments and special drops, my eye healed and I begrudgingly resumed my relationship with glasses again, knowing that I could never wear contacts again.

This was actually something that I felt defined me, especially in those teenage years where my self confidence was shaky. I always thought that I was a nerd with glasses, and that boys wouldn't like me because I wore glasses. And that was something that might not ever change. I was always self-conscious about wearing glasses. But I couldn't go without them. I always had them with me. I remember sleeping outside in the summer in the back yard and holding my glasses in my hand all night so that I'd have them in the morning. I hated swimming because I couldn't wear my glasses in the pool. They were just a part of me. I guess you could say that glasses were my "El Guapo". Everyone has something they are self-conscious about, right? It could have been a bad case of acne, being too tall, struggling with weight, having a club foot, etc. Mine was glasses.

Oh, there is a funny story about my 8th grade self going to a follow up appointment with the ophthalmologist. I guess both my parents had something else going on that day, so they told me to take the city bus from my middle school to his down town office. I was a responsible kid so I was pretty sure I could handle this. I got on the bus fine, but then I fell asleep. When I woke up and saw the street sign, I panicked because I thought I had passed it. I was supposed to go to 400 S. and for some reason in my sleepy state I thought I was going to 4000 S. I got off at 2000 S. and walked 20 blocks in the wrong direction trying to find the office... alone, in a strange area of town, as a 13 year old girl, before cell phones! I finally found an office that let me use their phone to call my dad. So... not quite as responsible as ya thought, apparently.

This was by far my favorite school picture (I sure loved 8th grade). It makes me wonder why I didn't just take off my glasses in all the other pictures. But, I was never without my glasses... ever. It was part of me and it never even crossed my mind to take them off.
My next pair of glasses was one you couldn't miss. Not only was it bright white, but it filled up my whole face. I actually really liked this pair. I mean if I had to wear glasses it might as well be these beauties. But they were short lived. Part way through the 9th grade I was taking a nap on the couch and put my white glasses on the coffee table. Somehow they fell off and I think one of my brothers stepped on them, and that was it. You can't fix plastic glasses. Wow, those things are big.
So I needed yet another new pair of glasses. Evidently our insurance only covered one new pair a year, and I'd already gotten mine for the year. So I had to get the least expensive pair in the store:  the rose colored glasses. I really didn't like these (although comparing the white with the rose now, it makes them kind of look good). But back then they were just... the wrong style, and color and shape. I had to wear these for a year until I could get my next year's pair. This was my sophomore year of high school and I had a lot of those feelings of nerdiness that I blamed on my glasses. Oooh, I remember this shirt--shoulder pads.
By the time I got my next pair, wire glasses were in. They still filled up your face though. They were a blue pair, but pretty subtle blue. What I am remembering about this pair is that I got hit in the face with a volleyball or a basketball at various times and it bent my glasses way out of shape. I would always just bend them back as best I could, but as you can tell from this horrible 11th grade picture, they never did sit straight on my face. Somehow, I ended up going to several dances in high school, despite having uneven glasses and I'm wearing these in all the pictures. Cringe. I'm so glad I don't have to live through high school again.
There was also a time in high school when I even had my own pair of prescription sun glasses. Yikes.
I got a new pair my senior year that was a lot like the blue pair but brown and I wore those for a couple of years. However, if you thought my 11th grade school picture was bad, you haven't seen my 12th grade picture. And you won't. I can't even put it on here. I woke up with some red sty in my eye and still showed up for pictures... Anyway, here's graduation, 1994 in powder blue and, you guessed it, glasses.
I went away to college and wore a pair like this for the first three years. Pretty uneventful. I was used to wearing glasses and got good at telling the tragic story about my eye ulcer and not being able to wear contacts ever again.

I went on my mission wearing a wire pair like this and wore them the whole time with little incident. There was this one time though... I'm still not sure I fully understand the garbage situation in Argentina. In one area they filled grocery bags with garbage and threw them in ditches or in the canal. In another area they had people collecting garbage but not from cans. People still used grocery bags but put them in these wire baskets perched on posts. So like a mail box but for garbage. Anyway, I was walking along a street looking at something on the other side of the street, so my head was turned. When I turned back, I instantly rammed into on of these garbage baskets with my glasses--hard. I suppose it was my glasses that saved me from injuring my eye, but it was such a hard hit that I completely scratched one of the lenses. I wore them scratched for the rest of my mission (probably a good 8 months). But I wasn't fazed by it, you should have seen some of the clothes I wore. This is one of my mission pictures.
When I got back, it was almost 1999 and styles had changed (thank goodness for that). I knew I needed a new pair of glasses because #1) I'd had them for a long time, #2) they had a big scratch on them and #3) they were out of style. I went to an eye doctor who happened to be Chinese. He took me back for the exam and asked if I was planning to get new frames. Then he proceeded to tell me how out of style my glasses were, "You glasses are not modone, they are shaped like basketball, you need glasses shaped like football." Yes, I know. That is why I am here. But then he took me out into the shop where everyone could hear and told my mom the whole basketball vs. football shaped glasses, and how not modone (modern) they were. My mom kept asking what "modone" meant, so he kept repeating it pointing to my not modone glasses and I was seriously so embarrassed. Sheesh. I ended up with a nice wire rim oval shaped frame. I wore those for a few years. Oh, and those were cool because you could bend and twist them any way you wanted and they always bounced back to their original shape. Could've used those 8 years earlier.
A close up of my "modone" glasses.
Then, of course, there was this pair. I don't know how we got these (D.I. maybe, or TJ Maxx?), but I'm sure I was wearing my real pair underneath making the look that much better.
Around the time that I graduated from BYU, my mom approached me and told me she wanted to get LASIK surgery for me (I think because she thought I'd have a better chance of getting married if I didn't have glasses--or maybe I thought that). I had never really thought about it before because I'd told myself that glasses were my unfortunate fate that I must face for a lifetime. I went in for an evaluation and at that time they told me that it might work okay, but because my pupils were too big, I would probably see constant halos. Or something like that. It was enough to scare me off.

Miraculously, I started dating lots of different guys... even though I was wearing glasses. This was a point in my life that I gained more confidence in myself and realized that glasses didn't matter as much as I once thought (although I still didn't like them). After a couple years of this I finally met Jared and got engaged... all while wearing glasses. I know, Jared fell in love with me with my glasses. Weird. But, I'd always had it in the back of my mind that I never wanted to get married in glasses. If I had to wear contacts for one day, then so be it. I went back to the same ophthalmologist (who was like 80 at this point) to find out if I would be able to wear disposable contacts, since technology was better now. He cleared me and I began wearing disposable contacts. No glasses on my wedding day! A broken nose 2 weeks before, yes, but no glasses.
I moved to Florida and created a whole new identity for myself. Nobody knew about my life before and I could be whoever I wanted. I think everyone should get a start over every decade or so. Part of this new identity was no glasses. It was great! Contacts worked great for about 7 years and I wore them pretty much daily. But after a while, my eyes started rejecting contacts. I tried different pairs but everything seemed to bother my eyes. I started wearing glasses more and more. And at this point, I didn't feel like such a nerd wearing glasses anymore. I didn't feel like glasses defined me as much anymore because the contacts option was still there. I probably had three different styles of glasses while I was in Florida. I decided to go bold with my last pair, since I was a new person anyway. They were a modern dark pair.
When I moved to Utah, I hoped to get a new eye doctor who would give me a brand of contacts that wouldn't bother my eyes, but the same issues with contacts continued. I still wore them, just not as long and not on days I was going out. I wanted to do LASIK so badly at this point. I even called to get an evaluation two years ago but found out I was pregnant with Hallie soon after. And since you can't do LASIK while pregnant or nursing, it had to wait.

A year ago when I was building Marissa's bed, I was using my glasses as eye protection while cutting. One of the saws left lots of sawdust on my glasses and I wiped them off with my shirt thinking it would just wipe off like dust did. Instead, it scratched up my lenses really bad. No fixing that. But since I knew I wanted LASIK, I saw no point in getting a new pair of glasses, even if it was 11 months away. This was probably worse looking that the scratch I had on my mission, but you get used to it and nobody ever mentioned it. They probably just thought they looked dirty all the time.
Finally, I stopped nursing exactly 2 months before my evaluation for LASIK (that was a requirement). At that appointment I found out that contacts were causing an infection in my eyes and could cause another eye ulcer if I'd kept wearing them. Before this appointment I was really scared of going blind if I had the surgery. After I found this out, I realized that this was the only way I could solve my contacts and glasses problems, and then I wasn't scared of going blind anymore. It became more of a medical necessity at that point. That, and the doctor told me that no one had ever gone blind in the 10 years he had worked there. After 10 days of drops and no more contacts, the infection was cleared up and I was now a good candidate for LASIK. This picture was taken a long time ago, but since I hardly ever take pictures of myself, this is the best I could find of me with no glasses.
One of the weirest parts of having the surgery was when they told me to hand over my glasses because I wouldn't need them anymore. I was so reluctant, like I couldn't believe that I would never need them again. I always had my glasses. They were part of me and they took them away. The surgery was really fast, like 10 seconds in each eye. I was afraid that I would move my eye accidentally and mess everything up. Later I realized I should have been worried about sneezing or an earthquake starting at that moment. But nothing like that happened and it worked great. Big bonus:  I didn't go blind! It still amazes me that I can see. I am finally free from something that was so defining and sometimes demoralizing, even though it shouldn't have been. It really is a life changing event for me, which is how this entry became such a life history.

Thank you technology! Thank you Jared and my parents for helping to pay for it. I love my new eyes!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Christmas 2013

Here's the documentation of Christmas 2013. Jared's family had their Christmas party on the 14th and all 22 grandchildren were there. I think 17 of them are age 7 and under so it's pretty crazy with all those kids. I'm so glad that my kids have cousins their age to play with though. My parents got to come home for a week from their mission, since the Family History Center was closed in L.A. It was great to see them! We went to their house for Christmas Eve and I was the only one of their children there until Emily got home from work, which was really weird. We exchanged presents and then went home to open one present that night.
Okay, pretty obvious that they were new pajamas. I was excited to find matching pajamas for all three girls since their sizes are so varied.
Hallie immediately tried to put the pants on her head
 The girls (with Alex's face behind)
The boys (not sure why Connor is smiling so weird)
Hallie's pants wouldn't stay up. She's still so skinny!
But so cute. This is pretty much all I got as far as pictures for Hallie. She wasn't awake yet when the other kids opened their stockings and she was cranky the rest of the day. And I was so tired and had a headache mid-morning that I stopped taking pictures all together.
Like I said, we were up pretty late that night, which is lame because I had all the presents wrapped two days before. Setting everything up just took a while this year. I got Jared and myself bikes and a bike trailer. I had to go get them from the neighbor's garage, pump up the tires and wipe everything down since they were kind of dusty (they were used). I hid them in the living room until Jared went upstairs and "surprised" him in the morning. He had pretty much figured it out from all my clues though. We've been talking about getting bikes for a long time and I thought it would be a good time to get them for family bike rides. This is what half the room looked like after Santa came. Oh and you can see my new rug. I got a good deal a couple of months ago and I like it so much more than the old one.
My parents and Emily came over Christmas morning to watch the kids open gifts and have breakfast. We got to use our fancy dishes that we never use, so that was fun. Unfortunately, when I dished out the breakfast to my kids, they all just sat there looking at it. It was just a breakfast casserole that I thought people would like. Evidently I was wrong. At some point during breakfast I turned around and saw that Marissa had creeped over to her new easel and was writing a message that read:  i hate the brekfust. That was the point where I made her erase it and forced her to eat the breakfast that she hated, while trying not to laugh at her. Then after being forced to eat, she threw it all up (a response that she has demonstrated many times over my cooking). In case you were wondering, when a child throws up because they think the food is gross and not because they are actually sick, they are responsible for cleaning it up.
Here the kids are opening their first presents, before it got way too crazy. You can also see my present in the background. It's a new air compressor. Santa also got me three pneumatic guns. Yes, three. One is a finish nail gun, one is a brad gun and one is a staple gun. It was funny because I kept opening them and asking if it did staples too and Jared kept saying no, until the actual staple gun. They will come in handy with all the projects that I have planned. I'm excited to use them!
These first presents were kind of interesting. Marissa opened up an empty box with just a paper in it. Her exact words were, "What the?" The paper read "Too big to wrap, look in the closet" and then it had a picture of what the present was. It was a bean bag chair and she was so excited about it once she finally saw the real thing.
Erin's box was really heavy and big... and also a big disappointing. It was our old cd player/radio. We had ordered one for her but it didn't arrive until after Christmas. She was excited anyway.

Erin got everything she wanted:  new dry erase markers, mechanical pencils, a stamp set, wood masks to paint, books, new gloves, lip gloss, tights, new clothes, some hair stuff, a butterfly barbie and magnet earrings. She wanted magnet earrings forever. That was the main thing she wanted this year, and after wearing them for about 15 minutes, she was in big time pain from those dang things. They really pinched her ears. Oh well.
Oh yeah... and fake nails:)
Marissa got an easel and she loves it! Now she doesn't have to feel bad when Erin won't let her draw on hers. She also got the bean bag chair, maracas, clip on earrings (which also hurt but not as bad as the magnet ones in case you're wondering), new mittens, tights, a headband, new clothes, some markers, dry erase markers and chalk for her easel and a butterfly barbie with a barbie car.
Alex got a lot of what was on his list:  a new ukelele book, a small Lego set, new gloves, new socks (which he said were so tight compared to his old saggy ones), Skip-bo, a new tie and some clothes, books, remote control cars, walkie-talkies and Bop-it, which he mastered in like three days--like up to the expert level. His dream also came true of getting a gumball machine. I ended up giving it to all the kids and it is sure a hit. They ate all of them in three days. When I refilled it I taped the bottom shut so they couldn't just get the same coin they just put in and use it again. They also have to do their jobs before I let them have one. I like it for decor purposes because it just looks cool. I think I will put it in the boys' room eventually.
The boys shared these gifts since there were two in each. Jared had a lot of fun playing with the remote control cars until the batteries got too low. If you bump the other car the man flies off (so right up Jared's alley). He also played a lot of "Try to hit the kids with the car" and the kids loved that one too.
Connor got his Jake sword (which is now broken, how long has it been?), some new mittens, a new tie and some clothes, some glow in the dark stars, another sword, a dinosaur, a picture of him and Alex (awww-they're so cute together), some animal magnets, and a Spider man house which is way cooler than I thought it was going to be. It's got secret passage ways and stuff like that. That's always a pleasant surprise.

Hallie got some good presents too, like a new coat, new tights, a big stuffed dog that is super soft, some alphabet toys, a new puzzle and some stacking toys.

The kids also got the electric piano they wanted which is also cooler than I realized. You can record your song, including your singing and play it back in a little hand held thing with or without headphones. We also got Clue. I like my games and also the fact that I now have other people who like playing games with me (since Jared's not much of a game person).

After presents we went up to Jared's parents for dinner. Lots more chaos with so many of us (or maybe it just felt that way because I had a headache), but it was fun to see everyone again. It was a good Christmas, but I am so glad it is over! No matter how hard I try to not make it stressful, it always ends up being that way.

It was a good two week break off of school. We didn't really do any fun outings, but we had fun doing stuff, playing games and laying low at home. Sometimes I feel guilty for not going out and doing stuff with our kids, especially since we have the Pass of all Passes and a Thanksgiving Point Membership that would be so easy to use, but at the same time, staying home is a lot less hard than going anywhere. And I feel like they have fun playing with friends and each other here. Maybe I'm just a home body. Jared and I have been working on some projects at home:  framing the basement (we're on a one wall a week kind of schedule), painting walls and ceilings (me), and fixing the car (Jared--he took on a big fix it project of replacing a hard to get to fuel pump. Time for a new car in 2014!)

Other than that, we are looking forward to the new year, to new projects, and to new adventures. I especially welcome the new year because, for some reason, I've been writing 2014 since new year's last year. I'm ready for 2014 for real.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Jingle All the Way

I just got back from the Jingle Jam, the kids' Christmas concert at the school. I tell you, that school is way crowded! We got there earlier than usual, meaning they were still setting up the chairs, and we were still 2/3 of the way back in the gym. Everyone did a great job. It was cute and I was proud. But I also could not for the life of me find Alex in the crowd of 2nd graders! I tried to get out of him where he'd be standing before hand, but all I finally got was that he was closer to the food part of the cafeteria. But I literally looked and looked and could not find him! I was starting to imagine that in the time that we'd dropped him off 30 minutes before and the time of his performance, he had slipped on the wet floor hitting his head and fracturing his skull, and the only reason I didn't know about it was because I gave them my home phone number instead of my cell phone (yes, we still have a home phone, get over it), but the show had to go on. Or he was throwing up, a more likely scenario. But either way, he was not there. Jared and I finally saw him as he was walking away. He was in the very front pretty much off the stage near the cafeteria, being blocked by about 200 heads. Good grief!

Erin was in almost the exact spot, but she's a bit taller than him and I saw her walk in, so I was able to see about 1/2 of her head for most of the time. Marissa was also in the very front. Apparently, my kids are all the shortest (or close to the shortest) in their classes. They are also among the youngest (or in Alex's case, the youngest) in their classes. Translation:  they will always be on the front row in every performance from here on out, meaning I should have gotten there an hour early to be able to see them.

I've been lugging kids around with me for the past couple of weeks to run all sorts of errands and to go shopping. It is not my idea of fun, not would it be Connor's if you asked him. But we've gotten through. I am still not quite ready for Christmas, but I'm a lot closer than before. Last year I did way more online shopping, but for some reason a lot of the shopping this year has been in stores. Just a few more things to get and some stocking stuffers, then I'm done!

One of the places I had to go was to the orthodontist with Erin and Alex. Erin is getting her braces off (first phase) in February and Alex will get his on a couple of weeks after that. Alex's teeth are kind of a mess. There is no space in his mouth and he has an ectopic molar. Right now he has three permanent teeth in the space of four on the bottom. He will need to get three teeth pulled, get an appliance on the bottom to keep the space (until he's about 11?), get an expander on the top and then get braces on the four front teeth for his first phase. And he's only 7, just barely. I could not even understand everything the orthodontist was telling his assistant about the case, but it was extensive. He says it's not the worst case he's ever seen, but it's a pretty bad one. So here we go...

We managed to take some pictures of the kids in their new Christmas outfits. Erin was not happy about it. She did not want to wear it to church last week. But I got her to at least put it on for pictures.