Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

Yes, this was a happy Easter, I suppose. Am I the only one that thinks it's kind of a weird holiday though? Not the part about Christ being Resurrected. That part I am so grateful for. Yes, we should remember His great sacrifice and gift to us. But the whole pagan part. The Easter Bunny? Seriously? I can pull off Santa and even the Tooth Fairy. Somewhat believable. But a rabbit, without opposable thumbs, who hides eggs? My kids have serious doubts about the Easter Bunny and frankly, I can't come up with enough ways or energy, for that matter, to make him live on. "Mommy?" said Erin when the 'Easter Bunny' left them each a basket and a new Sunday outfit, "Did you buy these clothes?"And then the dilemma: a. I tell her, "What? No, it was a rabbit who bought them and then carefully laid them out for you" or b. I tell her, "Yes. I did buy them. About two weeks ago", which is exactly what I said.

I don't want to crush any dreams here, I just want them to figure out on their own that their parents are actually the ones giving them gifts and hiding eggs in the back yard. That's just as fun, right? I thought maybe I had gotten to that point, until they rushed to the back window when we got home from church to see if the Easter Bunny had left any eggs. No, there weren't any. Hey, we have 9:00 church. We were lucky to get everyone bathed and dressed. But here they were expecting the magical bunny to deliver. Fine, I thought. So I dumped out the candy they got from last's weeks hunt as well as the same surely to be recognized eggs, sneaked out back and hid the eggs as my parental duty. They were happy with my, ahem, the Easter Bunny's efforts, but wondered why he had taken the eggs and candy that were already inside. Seriously, this is why I don't want to pretend anymore.

Here are the new outfits. Alex's vest was way too big and, of course, he refused to wear it. I should have bought both boys a 12 month size.
The girls.The boys.
We did manage to dye eggs this year, but not before today. This is another really great, fun family tradition that usually ends up being a lot less fun and way more frustrating than anything else. But we still do it. How can you not? This year, however, was much less painful than usual. I was only holding one crying baby and nobody dropped any eggs or spilled dye all over. We're growing up. The very artistic picture at the top is the result.

Like I said, last weekend we had a brunch and Easter egg hunt at our house. Everyone brought a dozen eggs, even the little babies, which was great for our older kids because they just shoved those little kids down as they hoarded all the eggs. It was pretty fun. Here they are.

It takes speed......and focus......and strategy......and... and... will someone just put me down for a nap already? He got the coveted golden egg though.That's more like it.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Here are some more pictures of Erin and Alex from our infamous picture day. I am posting them together because they are such good buddies. These two really do get along so well and always have. Wherever they go they have their best buddy to play with. When Alex was really little (about 18 months) he started getting scared in his room alone at night, so we put him on the floor in Erin's room and they've been inseparable ever since (although he has an actual bed now). For a long time they even slept on the same twin bed until he got his own bed. All the kids decided that they wanted to have a boy room and a girl room, which means that Erin and Alex will be separated, so we'll see how that goes. I think mostly they just want girl and boy decor, but other than that I think they would be perfectly happy sharing a room for a few more years.

They do so much together and have a lot of the same interests, aside from Erin's make-up phase and maybe her dance class. They both love to draw/color/paint/do art and they are both starting to get very interested in playing the piano. Whenever Erin learns a song, it's not too long before Alex has picked it out as well. His most recent is the 7th Article of Faith. They are constantly coming up with new, creative things to do like have Karate class, build forts, write their own books and make up new games. Erin, admittedly, is in charge, but for some reason Alex is cool with that. The world needs followers too, you know (speaking from experience, you can be a follower and still be a productive member of society). Alex is great with playing with Marissa too, but she is a bit of a bully sometimes. He is genuinely a kindhearted and gentle boy. I honestly can't think of a time when he and Erin have really fought. They laugh a lot and are always having fun. I hope that they will always have a close relationship as the years go by. They are both so lucky to have each other.
And yes, those shoes are way too small for Alex. He has a bit of a hard time transitioning up to bigger clothes. His favorite swimsuit, for example, is a 12 month size. 12 months! The only reason I didn't take it out of the swimsuit drawer is because I have another baby two kids younger than him who is that size. Really, he has other swimsuits but he doesn't like them to touch his knees. Believe me, I try with him, but he is set in his 12 month ways sometimes. I finally convinced him that he can only wear that suit in the backyard and not at any public pool or water park. Hopefully it'll take. Oh, and he does have bigger shoes too, but you know, these are kind of the favorite pair right now.

Friday, April 8, 2011


So lately I've been working of a few new projects. I've come to the realization that I have to be doing something. I have so many plans in my head that I dream about, I have a few in the garage ready to be taken on and there are also a couple in progress on most days. I'm not sure what percentage of my ideas get realized, but that's okay. At least my mind is still working and I'm not drooling in my soup (yet). I do get a bit distracted, I will say. For instance, while working on a kid table, I was also scheming up an extensively intricate play set for the kids outside... and less than a week later my thoughts had turned to rearranging the kids' rooms and building a loft bunk bed with a slide and playhouse underneath. Usually I draw up the plans and hand them to Jared to go build. Sometimes he just laughs at me, but sometimes our (okay, my) dreams come to fruition.

I do need to mention that I've been quite delayed in some of my projects due to the garage project that has been in the works for almost a year. I'm not sure why, but a lot of our projects last about a year (which is why we were a one bathroom family for so long). One day last year when I was approximately 8 months pregnant I got the hankering to, you know, get up on a ladder in the hot garage every day for a week and singlehandedly scrape the popcorn ceiling off (in my defense, it was falling of in some spots). After that we had a baby and things were stalled. Jared's dad helped us put up a nice, new textured ceiling, but the ceiling still needed to be painted, as well as the walls and floor. Every time I talked about doing this to my garage people just looked at me weird because, "It's just a garage." Yeah, I know. But I spend a lot of time in there and it really needed to be organized and the floor was really gross and the walls were half white and half powder blue (like that when we moved here). It took me for-ev-er to do the painting and organizing. And since there was so much stuff in there I had to move everything around every time I wanted to paint something new. The floor was done in three phases. But now that it is done, it looks fabulous. I take that back, I still have to do the trim and paint two doors, but other than that--fabulous.

I wish I had a before picture, but by the same token, it was so bad I didn't want to document it. FYI: no after pictures yet either due to a lost camera charger and there being a project in progress right now. Here's what is in our garage, and keep in mind, it is a one car garage and we live in Florida with no storage and no basement. A freezer, a table saw, a tool bench (yet to be finished), a 55 gallon water jug, 2 large propane tanks and 1 really large propane tank, all our camping supplies, our recycling, our vacuum, carpet cleaner, all my painting supplies and paint, in between clothes and shoes, holiday stuff, baby stuff, swimming stuff, sports stuff, spare wood, 3 kid bikes, 2 scooters, a single stroller, a double stroller, more tools, a ladder, winter clothes, some toys the kids aren't currently playing with, a couple of extra car seats and other various miscellaneous (but seemingly necessary) items--that are all now labeled and put in a spot. Yeah, so even though it's nice and painted and organized, there's still a lot of stuff in there. That's why I wanted it to be nice. Before it was just scary, not quite an episode of hoarders, but on the verge. You'd almost hear that music of doom every time you went out there. And forget trying to find something you needed. Now, after a year, this place is way better. The kids even ask to play in the garage and I let them. Anyway, because of everything I mentioned, Jared has limited me to two projects in the garage at a time. I'll be frank though, it's been tough limiting it to just two (remember how distracted I get?). But I think in all honesty, he's right. I do need a little reigning in.

I began refinishing some dining room chairs this week. I guess about a month ago I went to Habitat for Humanity and found a great new dining room table for $100. While I was waiting for someone to help me get it, the lady at the front of the store yelled, "Everything out front is now selling for a dollar!" Immediately the entire store of crazed shoppers swarmed out the front door, including me, to see what they could get their paws on. That's when I saw 5 matching dining chairs and one other really cool chair that I quickly claimed for 6 buckaroos. The next trick was trying to get them into my car without some other crazy taking them from me. That lady with the $1 couch was really eying my goods. Way worse than Black Friday! Seriously, she kept telling me how awesome that one chair of mine was. "Yeah I know, that's why I bought it," is what I told her. I managed to get a table that seats 8 and six chairs in the minivan despite what the guy loading me up kept trying to tell me. I may have had four car seats in the car, but I had no kids with me and it was going to work, dang it! The table is a little scratched up (partly due to the guy loading and partly because I got it at Habitat for Humanity). But the difference between this table and a new one is about 2 weeks in my house. We like to go for the "lived in" look. It's bigger and more my style than the old one we had.

Anyway, so that's what I've been spending some of my spare time doing and I think the chairs are looking good (I'll post pics when I'm done). Another things I've been doing in my spare time is practicing piano. I started taking piano lessons a few weeks ago and I am loving it! This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. It's a little tricky to work out babysitting every week. If I leave Alex and Marissa somewhere with their friends it's considered a play date; but if I leave Connor, it's more like babysitting. Hence, I feel guilty for dumping my kids on people. I always do. But, Connor is almost completely weened (wohoo!) and I truly feel like it is worth it and that this is the right time for me to be doing this.

Some people that know certain parts of my background assume I know how to play the piano and other people assume I don't. The truth is that I am somewhere in between. I have played the flute since I was 10, took AP Music Theory in high school and ended up getting a bachelor's degree in music at BYU. So you would think I should know how to play the piano. I even took four semesters of keyboard harmony (mostly just played chord progressions though). So yeah, I know music. That's the frustrating part. I know the notes, the keys, time signatures, dynamics, rhythm, composers. I do okay with sight singing and dictation and I love music theory. Love it. You give me a piece of music and I would love to analyze the heck out of it: tonic, sub-dominant, non-harmonic tones, inversions, voice-crossing, half cadences, modulations, diminished seventh chords--yeah, I really like it. So I can look at piano music and tell you how it is supposed to sound, but I have a really hard time playing it. I've been playing one note at a time on the flute for so long that I think it's really hard for my brain to process more than one line at a time.

I took piano lessons for a few years as a kid, but I never practiced. My mom would push me in the teacher's house and shut the door on my back just so I'd stay at my lesson. I never wanted to face my teacher when I knew I hadn't practiced. I remember sitting down at the piano at various times in my youth and I would play the few songs I knew, but I never really got better. After I graduated from BYU and was teaching flute lessons at a music school in Utah, I began taking lessons from one of my adult students who a piano teacher at the school. So it was a swap; free lessons for about a year. I loved it and practiced as much as I could. I was finally wrapping my brain around the piano and learned how to play scales with the right fingers, instead of just analyze them. I think I even did a recital. But then I moved to Florida, started Architecture school and now feel like I am back where I started: a right hand pianist who knows a handful of hymns and not much else. (No regrets about the Florida or the architecture, but it really is time to learn the piano.)

Every time there isn't a pianist in church or someone is needed to fill in to play, I wish deep in my soul that I could just sit down and play. So that is my goal, to be able to be qualified to have a Relief Society or Primary pianist calling. It kind of bothers me when people can play and get so annoyed that they always have to. I will not be that way. I really really wish I could. Oh, and not get so nervous. Even though I can play things at home, I get really nervous playing in church. It may not seem like it for some people, but for me this is a lofty goal. I don't anticipate it happening any time soon, but at least I'm starting.

The teacher I have is awesome. She moved into our stake about a year ago and has been playing for the stake choir. A while back I was playing my flute with her and the choir and casually asked if she taught piano. Turns out she has taught for over 20 years. She is truly a bright spot in my week. She is so encouraging and sunshiny, not that I need more actual sunshine here, but mentally, she is just what I need. Since I told her my lofty goal, she is assigning me one or two hymns and primary songs each week. And she even leads them and sings along so I can practice not stopping or getting so nervous. Now that's a good teacher. I've been doing some scales, chords, finger exercises and other classic pieces. Sometimes it's hard and frustrating, but most of the time I love sitting down and playing every day. It relaxes me and brings me joy and fulfillment. It distracts me from the pressures of having four little ones and the mess that accumulates daily. It fills our home with good music and gets our kids excited about playing too. Another funny thing is that Jared started practicing the same pieces that I've been assigned (although I think he's always been better at piano than me). Hey, we're getting two for the price of one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Marissa's New Addition

Here are some pictures of Marissa.

The following pictures remind me that Marissa always has someone to play with. It's hard for me to even remember a time when she was alone. She plays so well with Alex when Erin is at school and follows right along with whatever the other kids are playing. She has a lot of little friends too. She is such a fun girl. I am so glad that my kids get along so well together. They are seriously such a joy to watch.

Marissa is such a funny and unique child. She has her own way of doing things that just crack me up. Even the way she walks in unique. I can't describe it. She has become pretty particular about what she wears. One day she wanted me to pick something and everything I picked had something wrong with it. "No, that one's too small for me. No, that one doesn't have anything on it. No, that one is a T-shirt. No, that one is too big for me. No, that one is too ugly for me. No, that one is Connor's (referring to her purple stretch pants with the jeweled princess crown on it)." What she usually picks would be a bit of an embarrassment to me if I ever stopped to think about it. Not to mention the hair-do's that she pulls out as soon as she walks in the door and the missing tooth. Sometimes she looks a little too much like an orphan, but with her new addition, hopefully things will change.

That's right, Marissa got her new tooth! Here she is a couple of weeks before she got it. I loved the picture so I photoshopped a tooth in (although I left the other ones toothless).

This one is now hanging on our wall. A little less orphan-like, right? (aside from the fact that she is sitting on a trash can--she loved being Oscar the Grouch).Here's a picture of the girls with twin missing teeth back in December. They were like this for such a long time. It was kind of funny.Here's a shot of the new tooth, no Photoshop necessary. It's beautiful! It's a little more white than her actual teeth, but unless you are looking you'd never know the difference. The drawbacks of the tooth are that she has a little trouble saying the s sound, she can't chew gum or eat anything sticky, and that insurance didn't cover it. Ouch! But the benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks. First, she looks like a normal 2 year old again. Second, it is a space holder so her other teeth don't move into the gap. Third, and maybe most amazingly, it is helping her not suck her thumb! This was an unintended but very welcomed consequence of the new tooth. This girl has sucked her thumb almost constantly since she was a couple months old so I thought she'd be sucking till she was 10. Really, when she went to sleep, when she watched movies, in the car, in nursery, all the time. When I was at the dentist I happened to see a paper about thumb appliances that get your kid to stop sucking. Marissa's tooth is almost exactly the same thing as the thumb appliance because it hooks onto the back molars, has a wire behind the teeth and has another piece at the back where the thumb would go. I am so happy it is accomplishing more than one thing. She really has been doing well with not sucking. With the help of some Strawberry Shortcake band aids around her thumb to remind her, I think she will be thumb free soon. Who would have thought she'd stop sucking her thumb before she became potty trained?

Oh, I just thought of something else. She says she wants to be a dump truck when she grows up. Not the driver, the dump truck. This will work very well with Alex's future profession, I'm sure. He has dreamed of being a garbage man for a long time now, and not the smoking kind.

Anyway, we love this girl so much and are so grateful for all the fun and good things she brings to our family and to the world!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Connor Baby

Here are the pictures of Connor. I love them!

Look at this baby. Everybody around here just loves him. I'm glad we got these pictures too because there is very little photographic evidence of his existence, being the fourth child and all. A while back I wrote about how frustrating it was that he wasn't sleeping. Well, if there's one thing I've learned as a mother it's that all things pass, or will eventually pass. He is now taking at least one good nap a day and sometimes two. He is also doing well sleeping in his crib all night. Hallelujah! It's amazing how much better life is when the baby sleeps.

Not only that but he is about 500 times happier now that he can move around. He started army crawling at about 7 months and got good at real crawling at about 8 months. He started pulling himself up on everything at around 9 months and is close to standing on his own. Now he can get into almost anything he wants at that level. He follows the kids around and leaves his destructive trail behind. But, we are all way happier now that he can move.

He is a good eater and loves to eat whatever we are eating at the table as well as any leftover food he happens to find on the floor. He still likes to nurse but I'm doing my best to ween him so he does take a lot of formula bottles as well. I feel so much more free now that he isn't so dependent on me. I am ready to be done nursing, although I don't think he is. Every phase passes, right?

This kid has grown as many teeth as Erin has lost. Six to be exact. That may have been some of the reason for his crankiness and not sleeping. He got them one after another, the poor kid. Now I have a feeling he is trying to tell me something because he is constantly biting me or my clothes.

He knows how to give you five and loves playing peek-a-boo. He has a hearty laugh that I love to hear. He is always aware of what the other kids are doing and laughs at them. He recently learned how to clap too (I know, he's a genius). Like I said before, everybody loves him and because of that he gets a lot of attention, gets carried around by 6 and 7 year olds and always has someone to play with. Life is easier in so many ways because I can leave all the kids inside for a while so I can work on a project, paint something or do some yard work. I don't have to worry about him as much. I remember trying to do this when Erin and Alex were really little and I thought they were both asleep. I went out to mow the lawn and had to stop because Erin had gotten up and was wandering around the house alone. Ah, now look at the freedom I have. I can mow the lawn and know things will be okay inside.Anyway, I do love sweet little Connor. What a blessing to have him in our family!
FYI, we took pictures of our kids next to their age, but since they didn't have a 00 building, we let Connor have 01. He'll be one in June.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Meet Floyd, and Yuki...

...and Beauty.

In case you were unaware of our situation, no, we did not have a dishwasher for about 10 months. It died shortly before Connor was born. So yes, we've been hand washing dishes for that long. What are we crazy? There is an explanation as to why it dragged on so long. It's not that we couldn't go out and buy one or use our emergency fund. When our water heater went out, we had one within two days. I lasted less than 24 hours without a clothes dryer. But for some reason, I was okay with washing dishes for that long.

I'd say the real reason though is due to indecision. See, our current kitchen appliances, including our former dishwasher, are off white--almond, cream--whatever you want to call them. The rest of the appliances are fine, relatively new even (within 10 years--wait, that just made them sound old). But they don't sell appliances in that color anymore, nor do I think they should. (Okay, not entirely true. I've seen one or two, but I think most could agree that this color option is slightly out of date). So then, what new color scheme did we want to go with? I literally went back and forth between white, black and stainless steel so many times. Because once we choose this, the rest of the appliances will follow once we remodel our kitchen (which, in case you are wondering, will be in this century). I know everyone says that stainless steel gets tons of fingerprints on it, which was the drawback, along with it costing more, but I finally decided that it's the look that I like the most. Of course it was all up to me, Jared could care less--no, he actually couldn't care less.

So after all this time, tons of indecision and soul searching, and a tax return later we finally brought the newest member of our family home: Floyd. I love the sleek look and the hidden control panel. Yes, it does collect fingerprints and we have many fingers around that height. I've found that vinegar and water works well. Does anyone have a better suggestion? Oh, and you see our laminate counter sloping down? The guy who installed it broke the counter! Yeah, it was Jared. Can't be too mad about that now can we? Besides, it gets us closer to that new kitchen dream. This is the inside. It has an extra rack on top that has actually really come in handy for those little things and flat stuff. It cleans great and is so quiet, sometimes I'm not sure if it's even on. But then again, I'm used to my really old, loud one. The only problem is, we still have to load it. We are so grateful for Floyd.

Our next new addition is Yuki the tree. Our family room window faces west which, if you know anything about sun patterns and living in Florida, means that the afternoons are super hot on that side of the house. I basically pull the shade closed every afternoon and make a cave, but it's still so hot in that room especially. We did have a tree there before the hurricane took it out a few years back. We actually had four trees back there but it has been quite a wasteland for a long time. I decided that I couldn't take another summer here without getting a tree for shade. So we paid a pretty penny to get the biggest tree the nursery could give us.She is a Japonese Fern which is why her name is Yuki and she is very pretty. Unfortunately, I am retarded and told them to put it in the wrong spot, as Jared pointed out that night. It only shaded half of the window and as the summer sun gets higher in the sky it would shade even less. I felt like such an idiot! We were thinking about paying to have it moved, but then I decided to use that money toward getting another tree. They had two new Japonese Ferns so we picked the biggest one. The kids named her Beauty, which is probably good for her self image because she is admittedly lopsided. But, they assured us it would all get evened out over time and we now have excellent shade and will all throughout the year (as long as we don't kill them).You can see that Yuki has lost a lot of leaves, but it's just because of shedding leaves in the spring and growing new ones, so the nursery tells me. I like them. It was definitely worth all the money. Some day we might landscape our yard or something. Some day. Oh, here's a picture of our family room window around 4:00 pm. Look, Yuki is shading even less now that we're closer to summer. Ahh, shade. So much better!