Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Life is Complete...

...I have a Bumbo.
I wanted one last baby but never got one. Of course, a baby can survive without one--my other three did. But they looked so cool and they were on sale at Target, so I got one. Turns out, they are really cool. Connor is at the perfect age to start using it and he loves it. He just sits there for like half an hour in it. Good job to whoever came up with it. So unless they invent some amazing new must-have baby item, I cannot think of anything else I would ever possibly need or want having to do with babies that I don't already have.

Thinking about the rest of my life, I would say that it is pretty complete. I have two smart and beautiful girls, two brilliant and adorable boys, two low-maintenance cats, two hard earned bachelors degrees, two mostly functional cars, an incredible and loving husband, a single family home and now, a Bumbo. What more could I possibly want--except maybe a new kitchen, or to fit into my regular clothes again?

Honestly, I feel very happy in my life right now and so grateful for all that I have been blessed with. I love being home with my kids and am so glad that Jared works hard so that I can. Also, things are good because I am no longer going to school! All I do now is take Erin to school and take care of kids at home. I don't have to worry about making babysitting arrangements 2 or 3 times a week (ugh) or pulling all-nighters (double ugh) anymore. This makes having a fourth child easier and quite enjoyable.

I would also say that the fourth is better for me in other ways. For instance, going to the grocery store is actually easier now. Sure, I look ridiculous holding one kid while three others trail behind me holding hands and yes, I get lots of comments like "Are they all yours?" or "Wow, you've got your hands full". I do have to use the extra long mom cart with the double bench seat attachment while in the store. But, here's the good part, when the baby starts crying, I just hand him to Erin on the bench and finish my shopping. Problem solved. It's amazing how something as simple as one child being old enough to hold another without dropping them on their head makes such a difference.

Also, I remember when Marissa was a newborn. I not only had to buckle her in, but Erin didn't know how to do hers up and Alex all out refused to get in his seat. If you want to know how to break a sweat, try wrangling an almost 2 year old into his seat in the middle of summer. Daily frustration. But now, things are much easier. Erin and Alex both buckle their own seat belts and Marissa gets right in and even knows how to do up the top. Just pop the baby in and we're off. See, life is easier.

Maybe it's just that I'm getting more used to the whole mothering thing. I've been diapering, bathing, reading to and shooing around kids for 6 years now. It's my life. Sometimes Jared and I look at each other and wonder how this all happened. I mean, we are doing things with our family that we did with our families years ago, only now we are the parents. Are we the only ones who think this is weird?

Do you ever think back on your life at different periods and think, "those were the days"? Like high school, or all the fun crazy times back in college with roommates. Those were definitely the days. Or when we were newlyweds and were free to come and go as we pleased. Looking back on my mission, now that was a great time (hard, but great). As fabulous as those times were, I can't think of anything else I would want to be doing right now than this. I'm pretty sure I will look back on the point in my life when my kids were all little and say the same thing, "those were the days."

No, my life isn't perfect, but it's pretty dang good. And hey, I've got a Bumbo.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer Summary

We have survived the summer of 2010! When I say survive I am referring to the heat/humidity. For me, at least, I try to spend as much time as possible inside to avoid the all too common pressure headaches. The kids can't stay out there that long either unless they are in the pool or the sprinklers. So yes, we survived (even if park season isn't for a couple of months). School starts on Monday.

I will try to recap some of the highlights this summer. The best event, of course, was having Connor two months ago. And along with that, I am no longer pregnant! He is such a blessing to have. He has evened out our family and seems to fit right in. He takes almost all his naps in the swing which is in the living room. Kids are constantly running around, banging on the piano, making noise and bonking him with things, which he usually blissfully sleeps through (I guess the fourth child has no choice). A while back I wrote about how I thought he was colicky, but it seems that whenever I write something the opposite happens. He really is a calm baby and has done great sleeping and eating. He has even slept through the night three times in the past week (great, now that I wrote that the opposite will happen). He gets passed around almost everywhere we go, including at home, and usually doesn't seem fazed by it. He is really starting to smile and even laugh a little. How I love this child!One last thing about Connor... two days ago he discovered his thumb. I thought we were in the clear because Marissa started sucking way earlier than him, but no. We just may have two thumb-suckers in the family--and it's the same thumb too (no belly button yet though). Every time I turn around he is sucking it. I woke up to him sucking it this morning. (By writing this I am hoping the opposite will happen.) At least he can soothe himself--I guess there are worse things.Erin and Alex had two sessions of swimming lessons. The first was right before the baby was born and the second just finished. Our city offers one session for free so we took advantage. There were 6 kids in each class but there were a few days with only two and a couple when they were all alone. Talk about personal attention. We even went when it was raining--we are die-hards. This is something the kids just love, especially Erin, so there was no skipping out on the swimming. Poor Marissa. She wanted to have swimming lessons too, but is too little for the group classes. She insisted on wearing her goggles and swimsuit most days. Next summer kid.Jared and I celebrated our 8th anniversary and decided to take a last minute weekend away. We left the three older kids with our friends and drove to New Smryna Beach, which is a small town 4 1/2 hours north of here. We got to stop at the temple, do some boogie boarding at the beach, take a nap, go to a hilarious play and just hang out together. The baby was so good the whole time too so it really felt like a weekend away without kids. We found out that newborns sleep a lot more, and complain and throw up in the car a lot less than older kids. We stayed in a great Bed and Breakfast which was a beautiful 100 year old house right on the water. Somehow they convinced us to stay in the biggest room complete with a whirlpool tub, king size bed, private balcony and a kitchen stocked with ice cream. The breakfasts were fabulous too. I am definitely a fan of Bed and Breakfasts now and a fan of going away every year. Next year's odd so it's Jared's turn.Erin says the best part about this summer has been playing with friends. She's had fun sleepovers, play dates and her birthday party which never made it on the blog due to the fact that it was 4 days after I had a baby (what was I thinking?). We made a butterfly cake, played in the sprinklers/slip-n-slide/pool and had a few friends over. Easy, but still, what was I thinking? Oh yeah, she's the child who would remember how mean her parents were for not letting her have a party for the rest of her life.
Another great highlight for me has been dinners. I have been so spoiled. One of my good friends told me she wanted to make me some dinners for a baby gift, and do all our grocery shopping for the month of June. I thought she would give me maybe 3 or 4 meals, but she showed up with 17 homemade meals and a summer's worth of homemade bread, rolls, muffins, waffles, pancakes and cookies! She is amazing and I'm so lucky to have her as a friend. Definitely one of the best gifts I've been given. Also, I think she might be a better cook than me because my kids ate just about everything. Now, they are almost all gone :( My plan is to make a bunch of those meals once a month and freeze them; that's about how often I feel like cooking. Man, what a great summer of hardly any cooking!

Last random highlight is having the kids I do. All three of the older kids play really well together, but especially Erin and Alex. They are inseparable. They want to be together at quiet time, they do their jobs together, they read together and they play all sorts of imaginative games together. If Alex ever goes to a friend's house and Erin doesn't get to Erin is sooo bored, especially if the other kids are asleep. Alex, however, doesn't seem to mind if she's gone because he is good playing alone or with Marissa. He is such a great link in the family. It always amazes me how much fun they have together. They really are lucky to have each other, and so am I! Happy Summer.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What's in a Name?

#88 on the list was Decorate a Bedroom, so I decided to make their names and hang them up in their rooms. I took some scrapbook paper that I had, as well as some I had to buy, and glued them onto a big piece of foam board left over from architecture school. Then I cut them into 9x9 inch squares (note: I hate cutting foam board, so some of the edges aren't perfect). One of my friends has a Cricut so I had her cut out the letters and I Mod Podged them on. I haven't really worked much with Mod Podge, so I messed up a few squares, all on Connor's name. I ended up having to redo half of his name and then they still weren't exactly how I wanted them. But I also realize that it doesn't really matter and that they will probably all get ruined by the kids eventually anyway. For now though, I think they are cute.

The blue room needs to be repainted since they peeled the wallpaper border off. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do, so two-toned jagged edges it is for now.(Close-ups)
Marissa sleeps in the blue room too, but I thought it was overkill to have three names in one room, and she will probably sleep in this room eventually, and I thought it matched better. As I was doing her name I wondered why I gave her such a long name. Too late now.Right now the yellow room is the playroom, but Connor will be in here when he starts sleeping in the crib.You see how Marissa is climbing on top of the dresser part of the crib? She loves to jump from there into the crib and was doing it over and over again. I often hear her say, "Mommy, do you want to see me jwump?" off of anything (yes, she says it jwump). Even if I say no she still jumps. After a bunch of jwumps into the crib, she decided to jump onto the floor from there and she landed on Connor's head! Luckily she didn't hit him with her feet, but her body tumbled on top of him. Crazy kid! She is definitely the most daring of any of the kids at that age (so far anyway).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Project Desk

This is our new desk in action. Here the story (there's always a story).One of my dilemmas for about a year has been where to put our computers. Like technology, our computer history is constantly evolving. When we first got married Jared put together a computer and then we assembled a honkin' computer desk. This desk has been in every one of the bedrooms and the family room over the years, but it has always gotten moved around as more kids showed up. Remember this?After the beloved desktop computer died and we both had new laptops, we realized that the giant desk made for one giant computer wasn't cutting it anymore, not to mention the fact that we no longer had space for it. So I Craigslisted it last year and haven't had a real place for laptops since. The printer found a home on the changing table and we'd been using the laptops on our dining room table, but it was always bothersome to have to move them every time we wanted to eat there. And then you had to deal with the cords. Those blasted cords! Trying to sweep and mop around them was so annoying. Something had to be done...

Step One: Move the piano from the dining room to the living room. Amazing! I love it there so much better. It's now more of a centerpiece than just something shoved in the dining room. The kids put on piano concerts and we can actually have piano accompaniment for FHE now.
Step Two: Put a make-shift desk where we want the computers to go and try to find a desk for two laptops and our printer. Since I had something pretty specific in mind, I couldn't find exactly what I wanted. So plan B, I designed one that we could build.

You can see the table acting as the desk in the background. And yes, we let our kids ride bikes inside. Marissa is getting really good on this little bike. She can keep up with the other kids riding around the block. Amazing!
Step Three: Plan to buy wood and start the project on Saturday (a month ago). Plan B, spot an old dresser in our neighborhood that someone put out for bulk pickup on Friday night and decide that we could re-purpose it. After we got home that night I asked Jared to go measure it and come to find out it was the exact height, width and depth of the desk I had designed, and it was made of some pretty decent wood. I normally don't make a habit of picking up other people's junk, but I honestly feel like it was a blessing to find this, mostly because we have been trying to save money for a trip to Utah and shouldn't be spending it on a computer desk. We sneaked out at 1:00 in the morning and loaded it in the van. The next day we unloaded it and all the drawers ended up right by our front door, thanks to our kids.Here's the rest of the 12 drawer dresser.
Step Four: Demo. Jared gutted the inside and I bought wood for the shelves. That was the first Saturday. Step Five: Build the shelves. (Sorry, no pics) That took up Saturday number two.

Step Six: The finishing touches--wood putty, sand and paint. This was Saturday number three. And there you have it. I don't know if I made this sound like it was easy, because it did take a lot of time and effort. I know they can redo a whole kitchen in like two days on TV, but we don't work that fast. What possessed me to attempt this project with a newborn and three small kids and in the middle of July in Florida is beyond me. It was so hot working on this in our garage! Whenever I am out in the humidity I get horrible headaches. Curse the headaches!!! This is the worst thing about living in Florida for me. So having bad headaches three weeks in a row wasn't fun, but I wanted the desk and what the hey, we seem to always have some project in the works. Step Seven: Bring it in, put computers, mail center, printer and baskets on it and enjoy. This is the perfect size for the computers we have--small enough that it doesn't take up too much space yet big enough for us to both have our own space (his and hers) and no more moving computers every day. It is in a central location in our home so we can monitor what the kids are doing on the computers and I can keep an eye on the kids when I'm writing long, drawn out blog entries like this one. I already had the paint and the baskets so the only expense was buying the wood and some supplies. And possibly the best part, no more cords on the floor! Simple pleasures. Dilemma resolved--I love it!Now for some cool chairs... anyone up for some dumpster diving?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Connor's Newborn Pics

A friend of ours is an aspiring photographer and asked if she could take newborn pictures of Connor. Can't refuse that offer. I think she did a great job! This is him at 6 1/2 weeks. He is getting to be a quite a solid kid. He is wearing 6 month old clothes and has already gone through a package of size 2 diapers (though I found half a pack of size ones yesterday, so I'm squeezing him into them and hoping for the best). He probably won't qualify as a newborn for too much longer. Erin and her friend play with him like he is a doll. There is something so sweet about the connection between him and the other kids when they hold him. He is starting to smile and I've taken pictures of a few of them, but he wasn't too smiley for this photo shoot. Tough crowd! But he's still cute. We sure love this adorable little baby!

Look how chunky he looks in this one. Future football player.
I love his bright blue eyes in this one.
Chewing on his arm. One my favorites.The basket--that he was a bit big for.
Precious.Serious.The heart--so creative.I only wish I had cut my nails before this. And I had just come from playing volleyball so I didn't have my wedding ring on. Don't get the wrong idea though, this was probably my first attempt at exercise this calendar year.