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.

A Note

Here's a note I found upstairs last night. It was a conversation between Alex and Erin.

A- Stay up all night? Circle yes or no! Maby/sortufe
E- Can I sleep in your room? Circle yes or no
A- mabie. If I let you don't be loud or else. POW! PS. do you want to sleep in here? Circle yes or no (yes is circled)
E- YES!!! .....if it's o.k. and dad....i'll go ask them right now!! YAY!!
A- Well? Instead of sleeping in the circus tent... sleep on bed? If you want, if not I'll sleep by you or Marissa. Make sure to choose one! sssssssssh
E- I sortufe want to sleep in the circus tent. Not that I don't like your bed but tomorrow's going to be a fun day and it will just be better if I wake up in a circus tent! So thanks for your ofor but I want to sleep in the circus tent. and remember sshhhhhh :) ha ha! bye! bye!
A- Then I'm sleeping with one of you girls. Who do you think I should sleep with? But I have an idea. Mabie you could sleep in Connor's bed if you don't like that, don't sleep in the circus tent. By the way we could sleep in your room but I'll stick with mine.
E- I am going to sleep in the circus tent no mater what! So stop telling me not to! If you want somewone -misspelled (she wrote misspelled) to sleep in Connor's bed why don't you do it? Or you can sleep in front of the circus tent but you don't have to do it, it's just a sugustun -misspelled. And remember shhhhhh! :) ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! one more time!
A- Curse you! I'm going to move the circus tent out of my room if you sleep in there or I could just sleep with Connor. Marissa your not sleeping in that thing.

There is also an "I Luv ERin" on the paper written by Marissa

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holidays, here we go...

Wow. It's December. Wow. I am slowly, very slowly getting into the Christmas spirit--and not because I want to, because I don't want to be the lame mom who did nothing for the holidays.

Halloween was a bust, I seem to recall.

Thanksgiving was no better. My long standing strategy of waiting-to-get-invited-to-someone-else's-Thanksgiving-so-I-won't-ever-have-to-cook-up-a-turkey worked like a charm again this year. Jared's parents had us over and made a lovely meal. Unfortunately, I woke up with a bad stomach ache and could barely eat a thing. Then I laid on the couch for the rest of the night with a fever. Kind of a bummer of a day for me.

I felt better the next day so I headed straight to Kohl's to get a new vacuum that was on sale. The one I really wanted was gone (I can only assume I would have been knocked in the head with it and then trampled if I'd gone in when they opened, so it's probably for the best that I was too sick to go Thanksgiving night)--but the one I ended up getting is pretty sweet too, just like the deal I got. It's a Dyson and it really sucks.

I realized that Dec. 1st was creeping up on me (because that's when you should start your advent calendar, right?), so I had Jared drag the tree and the Christmas boxes from the basement. Maybe it's because we were fasting and 'cause we had freakin' 1:00 church, but neither of us were in any mood to do anything Christmas-y that day. I assured everyone that the next day would be a great time to decorate, like for FHE. But as it turns out, Monday's mood was even worse. We knew it would snow the next day so we took the very last moment we could to turn off the water to the sprinklers and bring in our grill and hoses. After that I'm pretty sure we sent the kids straight to bed. That sounds like the bad-mood version of us.

Tuesday did snow. A lot. It dumped snow. I went to get new tires on the van (last minute again?) and by the time I got home, I couldn't even get into the garage because I was slipping all over the place. I hate driving in snow! It's so stressful and makes me feel so tense. That just made my mood worse. We also got asked to speak on Sunday and I was not feeling it at all. So no Christmas, no advent calendar, no Elf on the Shelf, nothing!

Which brings me to my next point. What on earth made me think I would make a good Elf on the Shelf kind of parent? Especially this year. I can barely fulfill my duties as the tooth fairy, and that's being generous. My kids have waited days for their money. Hey, it's a lot to ask a parent to remember, that's all I'm saying. And now I've roped us into remembering to find a new and creative place for the Elf every single night until Christmas? When my advent calendar hangs limp and candy-less on Dec. 5th? Really.

The next day I felt like I had a really neat experience with prayer, where I asked for the oppressing feeling that I had to be lifted from me. That prayer was answered immediately and I have felt peace and happiness since. I prepared my talk a little, cleaned the house, did like five loads of laundry and then picked up a sick child from school. Her getting sick on Wednesday and not on Tuesday was another blessing because I couldn't even get up the little hill by my house the day before in the snow. There's no way I would have been able to pick her up, even with my new tires. That afternoon we finally decorated the tree and got in the mood a little bit more.

Today I took all the kids to the dentist where not one of them had a cavity. Yay! Not one of them cried either, until Connor got in the car and couldn't get his buckle over his coat. Then he cried half the way home because I did it for him. I also found out today that Hallie can not only get onto the table, which she does constantly now, but she can now get onto the kitchen counter by herself! Just when I stopped worrying about her falling down stairs, I now have to worry about her falling from twice her height. Ahh, parenting.

I asked the kids to write Christmas lists so I could get an idea of what they wanted. Before this Erin said she wanted magnet earrings and a couple of new dry erase markers since hers had dried up. That's it. Not much to work with here. She ended up with 18 things after writing the list, mostly small (like mechanical pencils and a notebook with a lock), but also a couple of crazy ones like a T.V. in her room or her own piano? Sometimes I wonder why I even ask.

Alex wrote a list with more than 30 things on it. For not knowing what to get this kid the last two years, he really showed up to bat this year. I had him rate everything with one, two or three stars so that I could figure out what he really wanted. Then, after I'd already gotten him a couple of things, today he decided he was asking for way too much, so he crossed out all but 9 things. Funny kid.

Marissa is tricky. She doesn't really play with toys that much and she hasn't really found her own niche or hobby yet. She wants everything that Erin wants, basically, but that really annoys Erin. (Besides, I can't afford two extra T.V.'s and pianos). So who knows what this kid will get this year.

You have no idea how hard it is to shop for the fifth baby in the family. There is nothing that she needs, and there is nothing that I see that I think, "I've always wanted to get this for one of my kids." Nothing. Maybe I'll get her a harness and some rope so she can rappel from the counter.

Every time I asked Connor what he wanted for Christmas, he would always say, "A picture of me and Alex." It's seriously the cutest thing that he loves Alex that much. He said it over and over again, and he wanted nothing else. Alex is such a nice brother to him. He is constantly helping him and showing compassion for him. Connor has it so good. The other day Connor had a really huge and really sad bathroom accident with the babysitter. We were almost home so we told them we'd take care of it (trust me, they weren't getting paid enough for that mess). When we got there, Alex was sitting on the bathroom counter talking to Connor and making sure that he was okay and wouldn't be alone till we got there. Who would think of that? He's so kind. It's no wonder he always says Alex is his favorite person in the family.  So I figured I better actually take a picture of the two of them so that I could give him what he wanted for Christmas. Here are a few that I took last Sunday before church.
Love these boys!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Because I Can't Ever Write a Short Post Without Spewing Out the Contents of my Brain

I don't think I've ever been able to sit through a primary program without crying. Today was ours and it was no exception. It was sweet and powerful to see and hear over 200 children up there. They had to sit on boards laid over the choir seats and down the ramp and into the first three rows of pews. They did a great job and I loved seeing my kids in the midst of all the others. The best part was when the kids sang the first part of "A Child's Prayer" and the teachers sang the second part. That touched me so much knowing that Heavenly Father really is there for all of His children and that He really does listen to our prayers. It also gave me the reminder of how precious my own children are and how I need to treasure them. Anyway, good program.

At the end of the meeting the Bishop got up and told us that our ward would be dividing again next week (it was just over a year ago that we divided the first time). This time around feels very different. It's much more bittersweet because I know so many more people in the new part of the neighborhood that most likely won't be in our ward. But our ward is busting at the seems and needs to be split, so I'm excited about that.

We had a really great Relief Society dinner this week. I'm on the RS activities committee so I always know what goes on behind the scenes. We had about 75 people there, which is the most we've ever had (and only one guy watching all the kids in the nursery--including all mine. Yikes!) I was supposed to make some neighborhood signs that we could put out on the day of the activities and it was a huge pain! They were 2'x3' (two sided) so they were pretty big, and I was trying all sorts of things so that I wouldn't have to waste money on vinyl. Con-tact paper didn't stick, so that was frustrating. I finally cut out the letters onto poster board with my Silhouette, spray painted the letters on, and then touched up some of the over spray. I think they look good from far away, which is where they are supposed to be seen from. But now I have to put a new ward name on them. Good grief.

Jared had the State Doubles racquetball tournament this week. He won second place in the A division for the second year in a row. I came to watch the final match. I get so nervous for him! And also, I'm pretty sure I am the bad luck charm because he usually loses when I come, but I also come when he's playing harder teams. Anyway, he has a lot of fun playing in the tournaments.

Erin and Alex had a piano recital a couple of weeks ago. They both did a great job and have gotten a lot better since they started a year ago. Their teacher was having a baby so they have a break from lessons until January. I have to say, even though I'm glad my kids are learning piano and like it (most of the time), it's so nice to not have to worry about practicing every day and going to lessons for a while. We're all enjoying the little break.

I joined a babysitting co-op just recently in the neighborhood. There are 10 shifts during the week (everyone has one set time) and then we each take a Friday night every 10 weeks. Everyone starts with 30 sticks and then you pay 1 stick per kid per half hour. I have the most kids, so if I left them all for a Friday night I could use up my sticks pretty fast, but mostly I use it during the week when I only have 2 or 3 kids. I like it so far. I figured I should take advantage of it before I don't need it anymore. Yes, there will come a time when I don't need a babysitter anymore. I am really close to being able to leave my kids home with Erin. I can see the babysitting light at the end of the tunnel. But for now, the co-op is handy.

We really do have a neat neighborhood. In the spring and summer someone started a produce co-op so that we could just go a few houses down and get fresh fruits and veggies. It was great! And then there's my next door neighbor who started building furniture and selling it. She is keeping pretty busy, too. She keeps wanting me to work with her and put some stuff I have done on her sight. I'm excited to do it, but also a little hesitant. I sometimes wonder if anyone will like my style and sometimes I can be a perfectionist, which gets in the way. I don't want to sell anything that's not perfect. I also have a hard time doing things with a baby around. But it's a dream of mine to do it with her. Someone, just kick me and make me do it already!!

The leaves are changing and it's starting to get cold. I am determined to finally get a better winter wardrobe this year. I'm really not excited about winter clothes, but I live in Utah so I really should resign myself to the fact that I need them. I even broke down and bought some boots. Two pairs, actually. And some sweaters and some skinny jeans. You read that right, folks. I am finally joining the 2010's.

I did a clean eating challenge in October. At first I thought it was just a "Hey, we're all going to eat better" kind of thing. Come to find out, my neighbor (different neighbor--the one who's also an instructor at the gym I go to) kept sending me all sorts of recipes, tips and motivation. And it cost $25, which I didn't know about at the start. But, it was waaay worth it. I lost 6 stubborn lbs. of baby weight and 3 1/2" off my waist. Okay, part of that amount was because I stopped nursing at the end of September, so it was kind of cheating. But I did feel good and only had two headaches the entire month. It was amazing how many treats kept coming my way though. I think four people brought us cookies, the kids kept bringing home candy from church and school and I even got a bag of chocolates on my car when I went to the temple. Seriously! I didn't even eat a single piece of candy at Bunco where they had three buckets full of candy on each table. It makes it so much harder to avoid those things when they are constantly around! And I don't know that I could live that way forever. But, every little change for the better makes a difference, I suppose.

Speaking of nursing, I am so relieved to finally be done! I feel like I have my body back and am free to go places without worrying about her. As much as it is hard to see the baby grow up, I have to say that the first year is always a little demanding and that once they hit a year, it's always a big relief. Now she is walking all over the place and doing all sorts of cute things. Part of the reason why I had to stop nursing when I did is because I really want to get Lasik on my eyes, and you can't even have your evaluation until you are done nursing for at least 2 months. But I need to find out if I am a candidate before the end of the year so that if I am, I can put money into our HSA for it and then do the surgery in January. That's my plan anyway. I hope I can do it and I hope I don't go blind.

In other news, our trusty van hit 100,000 miles recently, though I completely missed the moment. Dang it! Eventually we'll have to replace both of our cars that we're made last century (both '99's), but they've been great cars and even greater is the fact that we have no car payment.

And last but not least, Halloween. I was a huge Grinch this Halloween, if that's possible. We're lucky we got any pictures at all. I didn't want to go Trick-or-Treating with the kids, so Jared took them and I put the bowl of candy on the porch and watched a movie. Good times. As for costumes? I had everyone go down to the basement to find something in the dress-ups. Erin was a cow girl, so I had to buy her some new boots (which she will wear all winter anyway). Marissa was a fairy or a princess, I'm not sure. That would depend on if she found her wings or not. I did have to buy her a crown. Connor was a dinosaur. So cute. Hallie was the same thing that all of our girls have been when they were one, a lady bug. I guess it's good we kept it. Alex didn't want any of the costumes in the basement. Two days before he needed his costume, he told me he wanted to be the old man from Up. I thought it was a great idea, so I went to DI and found a bunch of stuff he could wear including a wig, the belt, the suit coat and I got a chair that we were going to make into the cane. I also went to another store to get the glasses. Seriously, it was such a great costume. They were supposed to dress up for their recital and he had it on, that is until 10 minutes before the recital started. As in, we were getting into the car when he told me that he didn't want to wear that costume! Errrr. His costume in the end was Batman, for the third year in a row. The one he didn't want to use. That's the last time I take time to figure out and buy stuff for a costume! They can wear a cardboard box next year. See? Grinch. Now on to some better holidays.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I've been meaning to write a bit about Connor. He says some pretty funny things, and I'm sure I don't remember even a small portion. He's such a particular kid too.

His favorite kind of "samwich" is peanut butter, nutella and jam. It has to be toasted and sometimes folded in half. 

For breakfast he has to open the cereal himself before you pour it, and after pouring the milk you have to pour "a little bit more and then a teeny bit more". You just have to do it his way.

He has been a bit confused about the meaning of "first" and "last". If he is the first to get his pajamas on he gets so excited and says,"I'm the last one with pajamas on!" And he always wants to race up the stairs and be the "last" one up.

His favorite books right now are the Bernstain Bears, The Bike Lesson and The Bear Scouts. You know, the ones where the dad is portrayed as really dumb and the kid is the super smart one? Not sure if that means anything to him or not...

He is quite the observer. Our neighbors got a trampoline last spring and he refused to even try it until recently. All the other kids would be on it and he'd just stand there and watch. For months. It is the same wherever we go. At Cornbellies all the kids were jumping and climbing on everything, and Connor watched a lot of the time.

He will always tell you what day it is, and you are usually wrong. One day it was Friday and he insisted that it was Saturday, then it was Opposite Day, then it was Sunday.

You know that joke where kids tell you to look under there and then make you say "underwear"? Yesterday Connor asked me to say underwear, then he laughed and said, "Ha ha, you said underwear."

Connor refused to say prayers for a long time, like over a year I would say. One day about a month or so ago, he decided he wanted to start saying prayers. So instead of him never saying any prayers, he all of a sudden insisted on saying all the prayers. Someone had to help him every time, until just recently when he started doing it by himself, and if it wasn't long enough, he would get mad that it was only a short one. The other day he said a cute one where he blessed the missionaries to be able to stay on their missions, and then he blessed them to be able to come to our house to get the pictures he drew for them.

We wrote letters and drew pictures for my parents and Sam and this was one of them. He's been drawing lots of jellyfish families lately.
I just asked him what he says that is funny, and he said, "Not anyfing funny, not any Spanish words eider."

Yesterday I said something nice to him and he looked at me at said, "Don't say any pretty words."

Connor has been going through the phase where he doesn't like to go to bed. Yes, I am calling it a phase in hopes that it won't last forever. I suppose we are just a bit tired as parents because we just don't want to fight him about it. Or Marissa for that matter. Remember that bed I made for her? She doesn't sleep in it. She either sleeps on our floor, the living room or Alex's floor. Again, too tired as parents to worry about it. Connor ends up sleeping in various random places. He's gone to sleep on the stairs many times. Only once has he fallen down when he rolled over.
 Then there are the other various places and ways that he sleeps.
There was the week that he wanted me to tie bandanas on his head like a hat. Like 5 of them.
And there have been many times when he just asked me to take a picture of him.
I do love Connor so much, even with his stubbornness and quirks.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Birthdays

Wow. It is amazing how time flies. Sweet Hallie turned one on Sept. 30th. I love how easy the first birthday is. I made a banana cake for her, but didn't have any frosting, so it was basically banana bread in a cake pan. Erin put a play banana on top. Classy.
 She got some new toys (Topples and Duplos) for her presents and everyone loved playing with them for days. This picture was when we had all four couches in the family room while our living room was under construction. I don't miss how crowded it was in there!
Since it was kind of a busy day, I didn't have time to do anything for dinner (pretty sure I was canning apple pie filling with my sister in law that day). We ended up going to Dickey's for dinner. They just put one in right by our house (yay for new restaurants... still waiting for the grocery store though). They have free soft serve ice cream there and Hallie couldn't get enough of it. I figure since her cake wasn't really messy, at least she got to get messy with the ice cream. Funny side note:  when Hallie was just a couple of months old, I went to Dickey's with the Pin-Up Girls. I was holding Hallie while eating my ice cream when the whole thing fell off the cone and onto her face! It was kind of funny. Maybe she just really likes their ice cream?
Here's a bit about Hallie at age one. She is great at standing and has taken some steps, but she is a little scared to actually walk on her own just yet. She's almost there. She is great on the stairs going up and down. That's a relief to me. I was always so worried about her falling down the stairs, and we had the bar stool on its side for months to keep her from going up the stairs. Now she's free to go where she wants safely. I stopped nursing her the day before her birthday and she's been doing great with a bottle. I would even go as far as to say that she is doing better with a bottle than she was with me. After I took her to the doctor last time and we discussed how skinny she was, I started pumping her full of Pediasure and sure enough, she actually did start to fatten up. She's still small, of course, but I don't get the same comments I got before (although that could be because she's more bundled up now and people can't see her skinniness). Jared and I both noticed some fat rolls starting to develop on her legs. I can squish them now!

She likes to feed herself, which makes trying to figure out what to feed her hard sometimes, but we'll get through this phase. She likes to be in the same room as people and cries whenever you get up and leave. She is still into everything, like the silverware from the dishwasher, toilet paper and the contents of all the lower cabinets in the house. She says "dada" and "da" for that. Whenever I ask her to say "mama" she always says "dada" and then laughs. You can tell that her little brain is working when she does stuff like that. She is a loveable, happy baby that we all adore! Such a blessing to have her in our family.

Alex turned 7 on October 10th. He was lucky because that day was the first day of fall break. No school! At about 9:00 the night before he finally told me what kind of cake he wanted, even though I'd been asking him for weeks. He said he wanted pizza for dinner and then a pizza cake for dessert. I borrowed a 14" cake pan from my neighbor to bake the "crust" and picked up a pizza box at the food court that day. The sauce was red frosting, the cheese was grated white chocolate, the pepperoni was fruit roll-ups, the sausage was Whoppers cut in half, the olives were black frosting and the green peppers were kiwis (not that the kids would actually eat a pizza with those toppings, but it would have looked kind of lame with just cheese). Here's how it turned out. It was sooo easy to make. Good choice Alex.
Alex wore this monster birthday hat that he got from school almost all day. For dinner, he asked for the "You are Special" plate and determined that he could eat wherever he wanted on his birthday. He took the plate with some pizza and sat at the bottom of the stairs on the floor.
Instead of a birthday party, I kind of convinced him to take a trip to the new Lego Store. It was pretty awesome. We spent a long time just looking at all the Lego creations they had on display. And then we got to put a bunch of different mini people together. I've always been kind of a sucker for Legos. I let him decide which set he wanted, and was hoping he would choose something from the City series because that's my favorite. He ended up with the cruise ship. It's pretty sweet, if I do say so myself. He worked on putting it together, with the help of some of his friends, for the rest of the day and finished that night. It was a big set too, I was impressed.
He got another Lego type set (Kre-os) from his friend next door and finished putting that together the next day. All the neighbor boys love playing with Legos or Tri-os. I love watching them play together! I feel so lucky to have a great group of friends for him within 3 houses. Just another confirmation of how the Lord was guiding us to this particular house.
Alex is still kind and gentle. His teacher at school says that he is really quiet, which I believe. He has a quiet personality, but he is not shy. There's a difference. And he will be sure to tell you that (you just may not hear him say it because he is so quiet). I asked him if second grade was too hard, too easy or just about right. He said, "It's just about right. Sometimes it's too easy and sometimes it's too hard." I asked what was hard about it. He replied, "Well, sometimes when I finish all my work really fast, it's just hard to wait for everyone else to get done with theirs." Haha. He is a smarty pants!

We were going to go to Cornbellies that night with his friends, but it was too rainy and cold, so we went the next day. We have season passes this year and it's so fun. We've gone several times and done some really fun things. Jared, Erin and I even got to do the mechanical bull riding. I've always wanted to do that. Fun! (camera battery died so there's no proof of it--lame.) We got to pick out some pumpkins as part of our season passes and this picture was the best I could do to show it. It is nearly impossible to get all the kids to look and smile at the same time, especially with this many.
Happy Birthday Hallie and Alex, and Happy Fall!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Daniels De-junk 2013

I think my life is a long series of distractions, at least my current life. I try to stick to one project, but somehow veer off to other ones leaving behind, well, just a lot of unfinished projects. And a bunch of messes. I'd like to blame everything on my kids, but I know that my projects and I are not innocent in this regard.

I had a goal last month (and frankly the month before too) to hang our family pictures. I got the big one on the wall but I hadn't hung any of the kids' yet. Sounds easy enough. But could I just hang them in regular frames? No. It had to turn into a project. I had to build frames, and paint them, and put a chevron pattern on them and distress them. This all took way longer than just "hanging pictures" would have. So once I finally got that all done and held them up against our cream colored walls in the living room, I realized that the room needed to be painted. Once again, not the most difficult thing. But wait, instead of just painting the whole room, I decided that now would be a good time to do the board and batten that I had planned on doing "someday" even before moving into this house. So I proceeded to do some drawing, measuring, buying wood, cutting and ripping some of the baseboards off (no turning back now). Really, that didn't take all that long. And just think how good the pictures would look in the living room after this was done. But when I went to paint the boards, my paint sprayer wouldn't work! Not even Jared has been able to fix it yet and that guy can fix anything, I tell you. So all this momentum I had was suddenly halted because of a broken paint sprayer. Ugh. (It really is hard to live without... I use it a lot!)

Here's a little preview of the frames I made.
So, after moping around about it for about a day and a half, I decided that I should probably go through the house and de-junk. That all makes sense, right? The pictures needed to be hung so now I am sitting in the hall at midnight surrounded by the contents of the linen closet (that's where I started). See how I get distracted? But, it needed to be done anyway. Don't get me wrong, I feel like I am always de-junking, getting rid of stuff and organizing. But this time I have been much more motivated to get rid of stuff, probably because I often feel over-run by stuff. We already have enough necessary stuff just living as a family of 7 (backpacks, shoes, towels, dishes, etc.) that I just wanted to get rid of anything that wasn't doing us any good. I have spent 6 days on it so far, and I am not done yet. This may sound like a lot of time, but mind you, I still have two and a half at home to take care of, and one of them keeps wanting to actually play with me.

I decided to make four bins labeled "Keep", "Donate", "Sell" and "Trash".  This helped so much because I could make a quick decision and toss an item into one of these. Once they were full I emptied them. I think I've gone to the trash 5 o 6 times and to the car more times with the donate bin. It's such a good feeling! Every time I finished a space, it's like I cleared a space in my head as well. This keeps me motivated. Things may not look that much different on the outside, but I know that everything is organized on the inside, and that is a good feeling.
I started at the top. First I did the linen closet (and so far, this is the only spot that has stayed completely clean). Sometimes after the kids have gone to bed I open it up and just admire it. Then I went through Marissa and Hallie's room. I took out most of the toys and I think Marissa is relieved to have less stuff in there. It will take her very little time to clean her room. In addition to throwing away some toys and games that had been through enough torture, and giving some things away, I decided to keep half the toys in storage so that when she gets sick of the ones she has, she can trade for these. But I only kept the ones I like and that are still good, or that I think Hallie will enjoy someday. Then I moved onto the boys' room. I had just organized it recently so this one didn't take too long, but now they are able to play with things and hopefully not feel too overwhelmed with cleaning up because everything has a place. I didn't worry about making things look too cute or exactly how I want things to look because I wanted to get through the whole house (sometimes I get bogged down with that). I did a little in the laundry room (all but one drawer and a pile of too small clothes) and organized the drawers and cabinets in the kids' bathroom. Then I moved onto our bedroom closet. I had kind of been dreading this one because it had been neglected for so long. I go through the kids' clothes all the time but I hardly ever go through mine. I decided to be very honest about my clothes and my current size and got rid of about 1/3 of my clothes. I only wear the ones I really like anyway. You have no idea how liberating that was. I also went through things that were on the floor (I found a clock that I'd been looking for for like a year and another glue gun, bringing the total to three). Then I went through all the bins on the shelves at the top of the closet (mission stuff, college stuff, pictures, keepsakes, etc.) Am I sounding like a hoarder? Sometimes I wonder. I now feel okay about the amount of stuff up there. It's like a breath of fresh air to look in the closet now. Ahh. Then I went through the master bedroom. Got rid of books, went through drawers, cleaned under the bed. I even made the bed. Turns out, Jared has very little stuff. I only had a small pile and box for him to go through. And he doesn't buy things, like hardly ever. So I feel lucky about that, except that it means it's my fault if there's too much stuff around.

The upstairs isn't perfect. I don't think it ever will be. I never got to Erin's room (because she wanted to be there) and there's always more clothes to go through, especially as the seasons are changing, but I feel good about it over all. Next I came downstairs to the main floor and cleaned the hall closet, the entry table and the living room. Hey, I also found the Dremmel kit that had mysteriously gone missing for months and the letter "D" that I'd also been wanting to hang up. Then on Saturday we all went down to the most dreaded space of all, the basement. My painting stuff was looking bad, so I don't blame the kids for the whole basement... but they had made a very elaborate contraption for the current and ongoing game they are playing that involved chairs, blankets, pillows, jump ropes, food storage, luggage, Easter eggs, Christmas and Halloween decorations, boxes and other random and unknown things down there that almost completely blocked the food storage room. I felt like a contortionist every time I needed something and had to get by there. So it was bad. Really bad. We got a lot done, but I still have more to do. This week I want to finish the basement, go through the family room, finish the drop zone and do the garage. Definitely doable after all that I've already done. And I'll be happy to take that trip to DI this week too. My trunk is getting pretty full.

THEN maybe the living room project will get done and our pictures will finally get hung.

Hopefully they won't be outdated by then.

P.S. I just finished the basement :-)

Friday, August 30, 2013

A New School Year

School has begun. Overall, this is good. But it sure is an adjustment. The house is a lot quieter, for the most part. Sometimes it's too quiet and I pace around the house not knowing exactly what to do. I am always braced for the next child that needs me. My time to myself really only lasts for about 15-20 minutes, if that. Hallie doesn't talk and she sleeps half the time. She's a good little one to have around. Connor is, well... he's three. Sometimes he's a happy, cooperative child. And then there's the rest of the time. Good grief! That child is really going through one lately (meaning the last 8 months). As an example, he has to open all the doors. He's like our butler, our unreasonable, irrational and whiny butler. Whenever there's a knock at the door he either runs for it or immediately starts crying because he wants to get the door. And he is always the last one out of the car because he's in the back corner, yet none of us can even go into the house because he insists on being the one to open the door to the house. So the whole family just stands there waiting for him. Ridiculous. But trust me, this situation is much better than, heaven forbid, one of us opening it and then listening to a 30 minute meltdown. He could have meltdowns about not getting to set the plates at the table, or not getting to hold the remote, or choose the movie, or say something to me that a sibling said, or pretty much anything. I hope most of this can be chalked up to being three. At least I have to tell myself that. Yes, all the other kids were just as irrational and volatile, and look at them now.

I was going to put the picture of Connor laying in the hall naked, asleep with his pajamas right next to him, but instead I'll post one where he's happy. Oh, a funny thing that Connor always says is, "Mommy, take a picture at me" and then he'll pose like this. I do love that cute kid, even if he is difficult sometimes.
Erin started fourth grade. When did that happen? It's like old enough for some kids to need deodorant, which incidentally, I explained to Erin all about B.O. the other day. She is loving it so far (school, not B.O.) Of course there hasn't been much homework yet, but she seems excited and ready to be there. Her teacher is Mrs. Bush and she loves Disneyland so everything in the class pretty much revolves around some Disney theme, which the kids love. I feel like there is a new level of maturity with her this year. She decided on her own that she wanted to take a shower every morning. She practices her piano willingly and does what she's asked around the house. And she loves reading. She probably does three times as much as school wants her to. All this while still going to Activity Days, taking piano lessons and increasing her time at gymnastics. And she still gets to play with her best friend, Emma (I was going to say friends, but it's really just her that she plays with). I am impressed with how much energy that girl has and I hope she can keep it up throughout the year. Oh, and I actually do miss her when she's gone. She has been a great help with Hallie and Connor this summer. I went somewhere with just those two and I didn't have anyone to buckle their car seats like I did all summer. Plus, she is just a fun girl that I can actually talk to and joke around with now that she's older.

Side note:  Before school started, Erin laid out her clothes for the first two weeks of school, in the order she would wear them, including shoes, hair styles and accessories. Most of them were monochromatic, but definitely her style. She does a good job putting things together. And also, how the heck did she end up with so many different pairs of shoes?

Side note #2:  She has a back pack, but it wasn't purple so she took this old ratty bag that she got in nursery on the first day. Funny kid.
Alex started second grade and wouldn't you know it, there's another Alex in his class again (the same one as last year). Luckily he is already used to everyone calling him Alex D. I am confident that Alex will do well in school again this year, but the first week he seemed so tired. I feel like it just took a lot out of him. He's been laying around the house not wanting to do anything I ask him to do (probably just side effects of being so obedient all day at school). From what I've seen of his teacher (Mrs. Park), I absolutely love her. When we did his reading assessment, she came out and told me that she thought Alex was a very empathetic child, just from the answers he gave. I completely agree! It's so nice to see his teacher recognize something good about him too. He is so kind to those around him, which makes him an especially great brother to Connor. I have always felt lucky to have him in our family and in the line-up where he is. Alex is still taking piano, but for some reason he has stopped liking to practice. This is frustrating, because he was so good at practicing before and I think he could be pretty good if he kept at it. He just has to make it to the end of October, then his teacher will have a baby and they'll have a two month break. I've been stressing a little about extracurricular activities this year. Erin wants to do everything and Alex only has piano. I finally realized that all he needs right now is to be able to play with his friends after school. I think he will be happy to just have down time (and I am happy with that too).
Marissa started kindergarten a week after the other kids and let me tell you, she loves it. She says her teacher, Mrs. Anderson, is really nice but kind of mean because she makes them line up. The bus driver is also kind of mean because he makes them sit down. I wonder what she says about me behind my back. I am way meaner than that. None of her preschool or neighborhood friends got her teacher, but I was not worried at all about it. This child makes friends everywhere she goes. She has several new friends now, but she can never seem to remember their names (or she just never bothers to ask). She rides the bus with the other kids in the morning and then comes home on the kindergarten bus in the middle of the day. The bus came to drop off kids really early the second day and I was still on my way there. Since she didn't have a parent there they made her get back on the bus. I had to track her down at another bus stop. She was okay, but she broke down in the car about it. Poor kid. I won't be making that mistake again! She is so ready for kindergarten, and I am very ready for her to go to. She gets a bit bored at home and ends up fighting with Connor a little too much. I'm sure she will do just fine at school.
 In line for the bus. And yes, the two kids standing next to her are also in kindergarten. Marissa's a little on the short side.

Hallie has been sick lately. She had a fever on and off for a few days, and slept a lot, but there were times in the day when she acted just fine and played just like normal. The fever went away yesterday, but today she has a mild rash. The worst part is that she is hardly eating, and she is so tiny to begin with. I am really starting to worry about it. Sometimes she refuses to even nurse. I have an appointment with the doctor so I hope we can figure things out and that it won't be anything too serious. Worrying comes with the territory as a mom, I guess. I remember how worried I was about Marissa's torticollis and her head being mis-shapen, and now she's fine. Anyway, other than being skinny, Hallie is doing everything that an almost 11 month old should do. She is standing, climbing, breaking teeth and getting into everything. She is a huge mess maker wherever she goes, and I know that's exactly as it should be. We've implemented the sideways bar stool at the bottom of the stairs to keep her from climbing them and then tumbling on down. It's actually perfect because the other kids can easily get over it but she can't (yet). I sure love that baby and everyone else does too. It's so nice to see my other kids care so much about her, trying to keep her safe or entertain her. She is well loved!

This is a classic Hallie face, the closed mouth smile (sweet and innocent)
One of the messes she just made.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer 2013, come and gone

Once again, here I am trying to sum up the last three months. Summer flew by! At the beginning I was braced and ready for it all. I spent a nice chunk of time on a summer job chart which lasted for about a week and a half, maybe less. It was a huge adjustment at first having all five home all of the time. I didn't really go very many places. But, that was almost always okay because of the many things to do at home in the back yard, playing with friends, riding bikes, and heck, they always had each other and a healthy dose of imagination to make any day fun. I love that about our kids. I suppose we finally got into a groove around July-ish. In fact, looking back on my year so far, I'd have to say that January-February and July-August were my best months (at least personally, and probably for the family too). I just enjoyed the laid back pace with no schedule. I enjoyed watching the kids have fun instead of hustling them around trying to do fun things. That being said, we still did some things.

And here you go:

Swimming lessons, all standing in order (not because I asked them to). Connor screamed the whole first day but did okay after that. Not sure how much any of them learned, but whatever.
We went to the Rodeo and had a great time. Hallie was so tired though and doesn't sleep in our arms, so that was not that fun. Oh hey, they're in order again.
We dressed like a cow for Cow Appreciation Day again. In order again (they really do it on their own). I made a toga out of the extra cow fabric I had and made Jared wear ears and spots this year. There was a picture, but due to an unfortunate and unsightly appearance of a double chin, the photo did not make the blog. And yes, I even made a little cow skirt for Hallie even though she didn't get a free meal. I am that crazy.
The day before this was 7-11, so we definitely got our free Slurpees. And a few days later there was a free day at the Museum of Natural History up in Salt Lake. I love free stuff! It was a lot of fun. Oh wait, except for Connor refusing to go to the bathroom once he saw the stalls, like over and over again! Stubborn kid.

Alex, Marissa and Connor were all signed up for the neighborhood soccer again, and Alex and Marissa actually played. Connor pretty much just wore his uniform, occasionally (remember the stubborn kid from the museum?)
They played on the swing set every day...
 ...they played in the hose and with chalk (sometimes at the same time)
They spent two days making an Otter Pop Stand at the beginning of the summer and begged to do it several times. Being the lazy Scrooge that I am, I did not want to do it. #1-I didn't want to sit out in the hot sun begging for money and #2-doesn't everyone already have otter pops in their freezer? Why would they buy ours? On the very last day of summer I finally gave in and let them do it. I was amazed that anyone even bought any, but at a quarter a piece they made over $7. Not too bad. Erin manned the station while the rest of the kids ran around the neighborhood spreading the word. The things they think are fun.
This one is actually from the last week of school when Erin had business day. They all had to come up with some business where everyone bought stuff using the fake money they'd been earning all year. Erin's was Selling Goo. This is a picture of the family making it the night before. It was such an awesome thing for girls and boys in third grade, and for us. It is way fun to play with. She sold out pretty quickly.
And then there was the Fourth of July. We went up to Jared's parents' the night before and got to sleep in their camper out back. It fit our family perfectly. Then the next day we got to ride on a float in the Perry parade. That's right, be in a parade, not just watch. My kids were thrilled. Jared's dad is running for mayor so he had all of the kids and grand kids that could be there ride along throwing candy. That's quite the posterity (and not everyone was there!) It was a fun time.
Wait... they are out of order! Connor, back in line.
Here they are after the parade watching a movie with some of the cousins. Cute kids!
When we got home that night the girls passed out on the couch and the boys were watching something. I just thought this shot was so funny how they ended up.
The highlight of my summer (and the year) is always the Parade of Homes. I look forward to it every year and enjoy every minute of it. I went to the Utah Valley Parade in June and the Salt Lake Valley Parade in August. Loved it! I get so inspired by design and decor. My favorite house was a 7500 sf home built specially for a family with 10 children, 7 of which were adopted from China and all had special needs. It was amazing to feel the spirit of the family in the home. After I got home, I looked them up and realized that the mom was one of my roommates in college (just for one semester right before my mission). She amazes me with all that she has done and is doing for all these special children. Check out their blog. Amazing!

Then there was our anniversary. Eleven years! My sister-in-law offered to watch our kids, but we didn't want to leave Hallie overnight, so we spent a whole day together just doing stuff without kids! That right there is enough of a celebration. I dragged Jared to the Parade of Homes and his idea was going to a water park. That was so much more fun without kids. We actually got to stand in line together instead of take turns watching kids. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids. It was just nice to hang out with Jared like we were teenagers for a change. We ate at two of my favorite restaurants (Blue Lemon and Zupas) and got a parking ticket (but we didn't have to pay for babysitting so it pretty much evens out). That night Jared surprised me with this two tiered wedding/anniversary cake. It was all one of my neighbor's ideas. She is a master cake decorator and wanted to pay us back for watching her kids once (not even that, they were asleep and we listened for them on the baby monitor). Anyway, this was how she showed her appreciation. It was delicious and amazing. Jared and I both agree that there is nothing I could (or should) cook or bake to pay her back. That is not my talent. Maybe I could just show up on her doorstep with a refinished dresser or something. Suffice it to say that we have the best neighbors and neighborhood ever. I feel so lucky to live among them! Oh, and back to our anniversary... I am so lucky to have Jared by my side. He is a loving, understanding, supportive, hard working, talented, fun and just an all around amazing person. I couldn't have asked for a better man for me!
One more thing about our anniversary. When I was in college, a couple of roommates and I would always love to play 10 year reunion. We would pretend that we hadn't seen each other in 10 years and then we would talk about all the things that had happened in that time. We would think up some really crazy scenarios about our lives and all the people in our ward. You know, who married who, who was a drug addict, who was bald, who had three sets of triplets. It was awesome. So I decided to play 11 year reunion with Jared (since we'd been married for 11 years). What would our life be like in 11 years? There were some fun things in there. It'll be interesting to see if anything that we said will actually happen.

Goodbye summer and hello school year/schedule/cold weather...