Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June, June, June--Birthday Month

First off, I just want to say that if you have the option to plan out when to have your kids, don't make them be born within two weeks of each other (unless, of course, you are going for a Guinness record and happen to have them all on one day. That would actually be cool). Other than the fact that it is easier to figure out how old everyone is because they're in increments of two and all turn at the same time, I see no other benefit to this strategy. My excuse, if it is one, is that none of our June births were initially intended to be in June. One took me 9 months to conceive and one was not exactly planned (definitely wanted, just sooner than expected). But complaining about it will not change the fact that from June 3rd to June 18th our family experiences 4 birthdays--and, to make it sound that much worse, Father's Day to boot.

I know I shouldn't bother worrying about birthdays so much, and I really do try to not go overboard, but the fact remains that June is a really stressful month for me. If I don't do anything for everyone's birthday, nobody will. This June has been one of the most stressful, but that's another possible post. I guess I just want everyone to feel special on their birthday and do something fun that they want to do. I'm not talking about having some all out birthday party, just go where they want to go and eat what they want to eat. How hard is that?

To start off, Jared's birthday was on the 3rd. I think I was bracing myself for the summer and the rest of the birthdays, so I really didn't do much for Jared. I know he went to work and bought donuts for his co-workers. I also remember taking 5 children to the grocery store that day, making BBQ pork ribs and cleaning the house. What I couldn't bring myself to do after shopping with the kids was buy Jared's present. He's got to know I can only do so much. So after dinner we went to Lowe's as a family and got him a router (so predictable--my parents were not surprised that it was a tool either). As we got home and started eating some cherry pie, my parents dropped by because they were in the neighborhood, and amidst everything that was going on at the time, we totally forgot to sing to him. I put a candle in his toast the next day to make up for it. This is the one picture we have of him on his birthday. We also had all of Jared's family over the next Sunday and that was kind his party.
Next up, Marissa turned 5 on the 6th. Five!!! For some reason I can't believe that she is actually five. Connor turning 3 and Erin turning 9--those I can believe, but Marissa can't possibly be 5. Ever since last year when Erin got to go to Build-a-Bear on her birthday, Marissa has been saying that's what she wanted to do on her birthday. She picked a pink Hello Kitty named Sparkle with a sparkly dress and a cell phone. I think it's so funny to see what kids pick when they get to make all the choices. Definitely things I would never choose. When they got home Erin got hers out and they played some sort of exclusive game involving just Build-a-Bear stuffed animals.
She wanted to go swimming so I braved the pool with all the kids by myself, along with my neighbor and her kids (oh, and about 50 other people in our neighborhood). I am constantly counting kids when I go to the pool! Marissa had been wearing the same swimsuit since her second birthday (I'm sure it just stretched as she grew). It was definitely time for a new one. This is one she got for her birthday.
We had pizza and crazy bread for dinner and then went to Trafalga where the kids rock climbed and rode on some fun rides. That night our neighbors came over to help us eat her cake. She wanted a Strawberry Shortcake cake so this is what it ended up like. I will admit that it actually looks better in this picture than it did in person. I was just excited that my food coloring concoction actually made the skin color look like skin color.
And there were no pictures of her blowing out candles or opening presents. That's all she got in the way of pictures this year. In addition to Sparkle the weird pink Hello Kitty, she also got a barbie and an art set. I think she had a good day.
Just a note about Marissa. For probably 9 months now she has wanted her own scripture and prayer at night after our family scriptures and prayer. This is something Jared started with her when she couldn't go to sleep, and now she kind of demands it. I will admit that sometimes I just want her to go to sleep, but I love that she is sensitive to the spiritual things. You can't say no to a child wanting to read scriptures and pray.

The next week was Connor's 3rd birthday.
 He said he wanted a "Fiderman" cake, which means Spiderman in Connor-ese. This cake didn't look any better in person either, but I think most people could tell is was supposed to be Fiderman. At least it wasn't my worst cake (that was Jared's infamous fly swatter cake of 2012).
In the morning, he dressed like a dinosaur...
...and in the day we went to the dinosaur museum where he played in the wet sand play area and the dry sand play area.
 We went to get some ice cream at Thanksgiving Point, since we were already there.
 They love the sitting on the bar stools.
And, oh yeah, I went to Lowe's to pick up some sand for the sand box that we'd built but was sitting sand-less. And when I say "some" I actually mean 700 pounds of sand! Yeah. I could barely move the cart let alone get it in my car. But according to my calculations, that is how much I would need to fill it up (and it's not even that big!). So the kids finally had sand to play with on his birthday. He got a whole bunch of sand toys, a giant tennis ball, a Spiderman glove thingy and another ball and mitt sort of toy. I'm sure I will read this in years from now and wonder what the heck those descriptions actually mean.
The sand box is a huge hit around here. It gets played with every single day by our kids and about 20 others. I love that there are seats, and I love it when they track sand inside... They are learning rule #1: go in through the garage, meaning they have to walk across the grass before they come inside. And also rule #2: no throwing/flicking/dumping sand. I'm glad we have it.
I don't have a picture of it fully closed, but here is a shot of one side closed when we were still building it. I still think it is such a clever design and I only wish I had been the one to think of it.
Lastly, Erin turned 9 on the 18th. She is growing so fast. She is no longer a kid, she's like a tween now. Weird. Her day ended up being really busy. We had swimming lessons for 4 kids, gymnastics for Erin, lots of playing and Activity Days at night. Alex also had a piano lesson and while I was running over to take him, Erin decorated her cake. She started with purple frosting, and when I came back I could hardly see any purple at all because of all the sprinkles she used. Always the artist.
Activity Days was a Daddy/Daughter Olympics so they had to dress as matching Olympians, racquetball players, of course.
These are her presents. One had slippers and Mad Libs, another had a Barbie color and make-up artist set and the last one had a huge box that she was dying to know the contents of since we got it several weeks ago. It was a hammock chair for her room. It is really comfortable and fun. I just may have to get a couple for me and Jared.
She had been planning a birthday party for over a month, all on her own. She made some invitations and goody bags from random things she found around her room and wrapped them in cute fabric. She only wanted to invite two friends, and in the end one of them couldn't come. Erin didn't want to invite anyone else (even though she gets invited to lots of girls' parties), so it just became a two person party. Sometimes it worries me that she relies so much on one friend, but it dawned on me the other day when there were six girls playing over here that she gets really stressed out when there are so many friends around. Marissa needs tons of friends, Erin only needs one really good one. Right now that friend is our neighbor, Emma.

So the party was a spa party and it was really easy and inexpensive to do, since we mostly just used things we already had. We set up her room as the spa with candles and relaxing spa music. I think the music was the best part for me. Even though I was the worker at the spa, I felt so relaxed afterwards too. They started with Satin Hands and then a foot bath with Listerine, Vinegar and water (thank you Pinterest). I served them ice cream during the foot bath and then used a pumice stone and gave them foot rubs. I also buffed their finger nails at this point.
After the foot bath we did pedicures and manicure (just painted nails).
Next up was the face masks with cucumbers on their eyes.
Then I put a little make-up on them. Such pretty girls! I also did their hair and gave back scratches. In the end I'm glad there were only two girls and that Emma is such a calm girl because it made it so fun and relaxing for everyone. Seriously, it was the perfect birthday party. Oh, except for the part about Marissa and Alex crying about not getting to stay up late or have a spa like Erin.
 Happy Birthday Family! I love you all!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Family Pictures (never a good idea)

Here's a little game I call:
"Guess Which Child was the Grumpiest on Family Picture Day?

It's tricky...

 Still not sure?
 Maybe these will help.

Suffice it to say that Connor won the prize. He was not happy at all and would do anything to not look at the camera/run away/cry. We did get some good pictures of the other kids and I photoshopped one family picture to make it acceptable for everyone. But don't think I won't be hanging some of Mr. Cranky Pants up. I will. We were kind of mad at the time, but a week has past and now it's kind of funny. It is impossible to get everyone cleaned, groomed, dressed, fed, napped and happy all at the same time. IMPOSSIBLE! Why would I even think it would be anything but what it was? Pictures are so stressful, but I felt like it was time to do another one since we've added to the family since our last ones. Phew! Now to get them on the walls.

Here's the best one of everyone. Just be nice and tell me you can't tell what was photoshopped. Here's a hint though, Connor was not touched. It's one of two that he was sort of smiling in. We'll take it!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bad Blogger Catch-up

I have been a bad blogger. I can probably just blame it on being busy with 5 little kids. Mostly, I am so tired at the end of the day that all I want to do it watch TV, or I fall asleep in front of the TV. Things have been happening around here and I'm going to try to recap some of them.

-Hallie broke her two bottom teeth at 7 months and has been leaving teeth marks on various items since, including making the first marks on Jared's new shoes (you read that right, Jared bought new shoes without me being there, which is a big event in itself).

-Marissa's fake tooth started getting loose about a month ago and she has had fun slipping it below her other teeth and freaking people out on the bench behind us in church. The dentist cemented it back in place this week and should be in for another year.

-We found out yesterday that Alex has an ectopic molar which means one of his molars is growing into another one and destroying its root. That will either resolve on its own or have to be pulled eventually. He also has two bottom permanent teeth in the space of three baby teeth that he's lost so he'll need to see an orthodontist pretty soon. There's always something new with Alex at the dentist. Also, he was playing a punching game with his friends (for some reason??) and one of his friends punched his front tooth out. It was loose so it wasn't a big deal, but it was kind of a funny way to lose it. He just lost his second top tooth on Saturday when he was slurping spaghetti.

-Erin has had a new adventure with her orthodontia. It seems like she's had an issue every appointment. First, one of her spacers fell out. Then when she got her expander in, one of the back bands broke. Because of this, they took out the expander completely (which they told us had to stay in for 9-12 months). Then when they put her top 4 braces on, one of them came off. And at her last appointment, her wire came out of the back bracket the day after. I've been slightly annoyed by the whole thing, but I'm going to trust that it'll work out fine in the end (besides, I've already paid for the whole first phase).

-Even though Connor doesn't have any issues with his teeth except a little tarter, he is included in this section because he screamed and screamed at the dentist this week. I was a little surprised because he'd had two appointments before where he never cried. He now joins the rest of 'em for having traumatic experiences at the dentist.

New Skills: 
-Hallie started crawling! She was 7 months and 1 week when she really started getting the hang of it. Now she is all over the place. She can crawl, but she never really got the hang of rolling over. Once she falls on her back, she is stuck (like a turtle on its shell). Funny how they are all so different. Just this week she started pulling herself up on things, but I don't think she can get down without falling on her head. I keep finding her standing up by the shelf, on the stairs, by the couch, etc.

-Connor is potty trained! I didn't think it would happen for a long time because he has been so stubborn about not sitting on the toilet (he saw a picture of Alex in the toilet as a baby and has been terrified of it ever since). I finally bought him his own little potty at Ikea hoping to get him excited. The first day he sat and sat but nothing happened. He said, "It's not working. It needs batteries." He finally got the hang of the little potty and, as disgusting as it is, has been using it for over a month now and dumping as much of the contents as he can into the big potty on his own. He pooped in the big potty for the first time yesterday. Exciting. Now we are trying to convince him he still needs a diaper at night, but for him it is all or nothing. It's a process, that's for sure. On a related topic, when I asked him if he needed to go potty, he told me to stop saying potty words--you know, like "potty".

-Erin must have learned some new skills at gymnastics because they are moving her up a level, although I am not entirely sure what they are. She has gotten a lot more flexible and loves it, so we'll keep doing it for the time being.

-At some point between I'd say November and February-ish, Alex learned how to says his "r's". I have no idea when he finally got it or how, but one day I noticed that he was saying them right. One less thing for me to worry about.

-Almost forgot. Hallie learned how to clap, surely a necessary life skill. She makes a great audience for the kids when they do hand stands and she claps for them.

Outdoor Projects:
-We planted a garden this year. We built three 4'x4' raised cedar boxes, planted some random stuff and hoped for the best. Amazingly, everything I planted has sprouted! I have no idea what I am doing, whether I planted the right things in the right place in the right quantity giving it the right amount of water. No idea. But I'm glad we got it going anyway.

-It was my dream to build the kids a play structure (no surprise there). I had been designing and redesigning it for over a year. But one day, in the spur of a moment, I decided I would buy a play set for them instead (okay, maybe not instead because I still want to build something in addition to this). We got a Lifetime swing set with 3 swings, a trapeze bar, monkey bars, a slide and a fire pole. All the kids, including the neighbor kids love it. There will often be 8-11 kids on it at one time and it gets used every day. It still puzzles me as to why kids love to swing so much, but they love it. I'm so glad I decided to buy it because we have it now as opposed to 4 months from now, even though my design was cooler. Our next door neighbors just got a trampoline (which is essentially part of our yard) so the kids have plenty to do out there.

-After we filled the garden boxes with dirt, all the kids wanted to do was play in the dirt (another thing that puzzles me. I mean, I don't like to play in the dirt). After a certain percentage of good soil got flipped out of the boxes, I made the declaration that I would build them a sandbox, for crying out loud. So we did. It's another one of Ana White's designs with a cover that folds up into seats. It's a pretty slick design, and will be that much better once we finally get some actual sand in it. Yes, even more to do in the back yard.

-We had some curbing added to all the beds around the house and it makes things look a lot better. We still have more landscaping and mulching to do, as well as pavers under our BBQ grill and a travertine path along the side of the house and rocks in the front, but it will come in due time (it just seems like everything we do takes forever.)

-Even though it isn't necessarily a project, it's outside and I love it. I've been wanting some hanging baskets for a long time but could never justify the price. I finally used a coupon and spent the big bucks on two baskets full of pink geraniums. I thought they would last a little while, but they have been blooming and re-blooming since I got them two months ago and I love them! Now if I could ever justify paying for some sort of seating on the porch I could enjoy them that much more. All in due time.

Other Happenings That I Have Not Been Able to Blog About:
-Erin finished 3rd grade

-Alex finished 1st grade

-Marissa finished preschool

-We spent Memorial Day weekend up at Jared's parents' house

-My parents got their mission call to Los Angeles, Family History Center

-My oldest nephew got his mission call to North Carolina

-My dad turned 70 and finally retired from his job (wohoo!)

-Marissa had a dance recital (this was around the time that I really started to lose it)

-We spend Mother's Day at my parents' house

-Jared's Aunt Christy got married (yay!)

-Hallie went to the doctor and was barely on the chart for weight (but for some reason they weighed her with her diaper and clothes on). No matter, I'll take it.

-I won a major award in the form of a bowling trophy (courtesy of DI, thanks to one of the pin-up girls, Jen)

-We went to the Tulip Festival (pretty!)

-I started going to a neighborhood Bunco group (fun times)

-We had spring break at some point in there, though I would be hard pressed to tell you a single thing we did, even looking at my calendar

-I started going to some Turbo Kick/Insanity classes at a local gym a few times a week at the crack of dawn (so not what I like to do--wake up early--but I can't think of any other way to fit in exercise)

-We listened to General Conference and bribed the kids with gum if they took notes (which they actually did--never underestimate the power of gum)

-I got some 6 month pictures of a very tired Hallie. She wasn't crying but she was a tough crowd, I tell you. There was only one smile, one.

-We celebrated Easter, and somewhere on this computer is a whole Easter post that I never finished. Somewhere on my camera is a whole lot of pictures that have not been uploaded since Easter. I cannot keep up, obviously!

-I have been helping a few people with some of their home designs and love it! I only wish I had the right programs to design with. It makes me excited to go to work some day... but that day is not right now. Will I ever get ahead of the game?

-Hallie stopped sucking her thumb somewhere along the line and ever since has been waking up about 3-5 times a night for about three months, and this was after sleeping through the night for a good four months. This may have something to do with my tiredness, impatience, being overwhelmed, etc. (yeah, yeah, yeah... I know what your thinking, but I am not pregnant). I still feel like I can function, but I'd probably be functioning better if I ever got a full, uninterrupted night's sleep.

And since it's past midnight and since I haven't uploaded my photos anyway, this is all there is.