Thursday, December 3, 2015

Two Birthdays

Hallie turned "fee" on Sept. 30th. Ever since then she says, "I'm bigga" (bigger) over and over again...  probably a good 30 times a day... to which I have to say (over and over again), "Yes, Hallie, you are bigger." She still says she is "happy birthday", something that started a year ago when she turned 2. In the last couple of months, Hallie has really gotten the hang of potty training, something which I am extremely grateful for. So no more pooping in her underwear, no more sloshing poop in the toilet--Hallie-luiah! My life has gotten better by a good 65% I would say. And amazingly, she has never wet the bed. That girl has some great bladder control.

I baked a chocolate cake in the morning and then went upstairs to take a shower while it was cooling. When I came downstairs, the cake had been completely cut up as you can see in the picture. I guess Hallie wanted to cut her own cake? Who knows why kids do the things they do? The point is that I had to turn the cake upside down and frost it the best I could, despite it being cut into pieces. It was a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cake with all the characters, fitting since she has watched the one episode we have about 100 times since last year.

Apparently, I was not very good at taking pictures that day. We hung out at the children's museum for a while and then my parents came over to give her some presents. She said she wanted clothes when they asked her so they gave her some cute things, including new underwear. She also got new underwear from me and now thinks that any time she changes her clothes (which is multiple times a day) she also needs a new pair of underwear. Since she loves Minnie Mouse, she got a Minnie dress up and a Minnie stuffed animal.

Hallie also loves to say the prayer. Whenever someone else gets asked to say it, she immediately says that she will say the prayer for dinner or for bed (whichever is the next one).  She also doesn't like to go to bed (just like her mom), so we always have Hallie and the baby up for a couple of hours after the other kids have gone to bed. Sweet Hallie is sure growing up! And we love her so much!

On Oct. 10th Alex turned 9. Since Alex is usually the first one up in the family, we made him turn off his alarm so we could bring him breakfast in bed.
Erin made this awesome card and homemade basketball for him. So creative!
Alex has a fun personality. He wanted a cheese cake this year... like a wedge of cheese made out of cake, not an actual cheese cake. I'm not sure if anyone remembers the racquetball racquet/fly swatter cake that I made for Jared a few years back. The one in which I declared that it wasn't my worst cake ever, to which Jared asked which one was worse than that one? That cake is infamously known as my worst cake ever... that is until this one.

This is what it was supposed to look like...
...and this is what it actually looked like.

All I could do was laugh about it. Since it was chocolate, all the dark crumbs came through like it was a piece of cheese dropped in the dirt. And all the holes we tried to put in it just made it look that much worse. It has been affectionately named "The Cheese Touch" cake and "The Pinterest Fail". Oh, and then there is the writing. It kind of looks like it says "Alex is 91. Alex was such a great sport about it and just thought it was funny. I love that he does things just to be funny or ironic, like wanting to be Santa Claus for Halloween.
Anyway, we rounded up whatever part of the gang of boys that was lurking around our house at the time and gave them each a piece of the Cheese Touch (it was delicious, in my defense)

He got a new basketball, a circuit making kit (something that Jared loves) and the second Harry Potter book. Alex just finished the first one and loved it.
Since it was a Saturday and since we weren't having a friend party for him this year, we went downtown for a family day. We spent hours at the Leonardo museum. We had never been there and it was so fun. They had tons of things to play with and build, as well as paint and create. The best part was that there was hardly anyone there. I feel like if we had that museum in our neighborhood, it would be packed all the time. Anyway, it was a really fun family day!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Head Above Water

Wow, life just keeps going faster and faster, and keeps getting busier and busier. I suppose having 6 children would explain this phenomenon. My kids love reading out of the blog books that I had printed several years ago and there is so much that I don't remember until they read it. I know there's so much going on right now that I will completely forget because I'm not documenting it. It's okay... I don't have to document everything, but I would like to remember some of what's going on right now. So here goes...

Wesley is such a great addition to our family. He is incredibly happy and has a giant smile ready for anyone he sees. We had to go back to the doctor every month for a while to get his blood tested (for his neutrophil levels) and now they are back to where they should be. Yay! We have been so blessed that he has not gotten sick at all since his hospital stay. He is growing and developing just as he should.

Wes has not been the best sleeper. He went through 3 weeks back in May when he slept for 6 hours at a time, and then he went back to waking up between 3-5 times a night. I think this is one reason why I've been so drained and exhausted. Every now and then he sleeps a little better (like only waking up once a night) and I always feel so much better the next day. So it gives me hope for him eventually sleeping through the night. Nothing lasts forever, so I know he will do it some day and that I will be able to feel better. Napping isn't much better for him. Some days he takes great naps, and other days he only sleeps for like 10 minutes at a time.

He also refuses to take a bottle. He was fine in the beginning, but since I was homebound with him for so long and also dealing with the PICC line antibiotics, it was just easier for me to nurse him. He doesn't know what to do with a bottle besides chew on it now. I started giving him baby food at 4 months so that I could have some freedom to leave him, if only for a short time. He does love most foods, which helps me see the end of the nursing tunnel (more food=less nursing). I always feel so much better when I'm not nursing. But I also know that this means I will no longer have a small baby, and that's very bittersweet.

He started sitting up well at 5 months and going from his tummy to sitting at around 5 1/2 months. Wesley was 6 months on Sept. 13. That week he started to scoot around (army crawl style) and get up on his hands and knees. This week he has really started crawling and getting into everything. Time to baby proof stuff again. He also cut his first tooth last week. This child is a big drooler (just like Alex and Marissa), and not just because of teething. His shirt is always wet from drool, but I know this will end too.

I try to enjoy the sweet moments nursing him, holding him and watching his milestones, but there is also so much other stuff going on that it makes it hard. And thinking about him being our last baby is both happy and sad. I want to remember the good stuff, but there's also a lot of trudging through the hard stuff that makes me want this phase to end (like sleeping through the night and getting my body back to myself). Anyway, I love this baby so much! His sweetness, his happy demeanor, his non-cuddly nature (like me), his cute laugh, his soft bald head and big blue eyes, his squishy thighs and so much more.
Such a sweet, happy boy!

Hallie has been quite the challenge for me lately. I've been getting flashbacks of how hard age three is with each kid (she'll be 3 next week). But, eventually they turn into happy, non-whiney kids so I know this phase will pass too. The kids going to school has been a big adjustment for her. The mornings are okay because she has Connor to play with, although most days they fight too. But after he goes to kindergarten, she doesn't know what to do with herself. I don't think she has ever had to play by herself before, and I of course don't know what to do with just one kid. So she follows me around everywhere I go. She's like my shadow, which would be perfectly fine if the shadow didn't yell at me all day... or poop in her underwear every other day.

Which leads me to my next point, potty training. What is strange is that she can go all night without wetting the bed, but has all sorts of accidents during the day. I bought a 140 count pack of suckers to motivate her to poop in the potty. She thinks that every time she pees in the potty that she gets one. Sometimes I try to hold fast to the sucker=poop rule, but most of the time I give in so that she stops yelling at me. It is not worth the battle... I guess what I'm saying is that my nerves are worth more than her rotting teeth. I know she'll get it soon and this phase of me sloshing poop out of underwear while gagging will barely be remembered. But I tell you, every time I find myself sloshing poop out of underwear I take a good look at what my life has become... parenting is not always pretty, people.

Most of the time she gets something in her head and won't let it go all day. Like one day she insisted that I take her to piano lessons. I tried all sorts of reasons why we couldn't go, like the fact that she doesn't have a teacher or that she is 2, but she continued to cry and yell about not getting to go. Hallie does love going places. It doesn't really matter where, but she needs to get out. I take her to the babysitting co-op often and I set up a weekly play date with her friend. I also take her with me to the store and she is usually good while we are out, but I feel like I have so much to do at home or need to give Wes a nap, that I can't always get out every day. I do feel bad that I always took my older kids to the park or different museums, but I don't do that with Hallie. Why? Shouldn't she get the same life that they did? She should. I just don't have quite the motivation or desire to do it anymore. Maybe it's partly because I feel like I should take all of them if I'm going to go somewhere fun so I wait until they're all home. Maybe it's because I'm too tired as a parent. Either way, I will try to start making an effort to do fun stuff with just her.

On Labor Day, we were at the park doing some old fashioned games for the Lehi Heritage day when she got a bean stuck in her nose. The game was to put the bean on your nose and drop it into the bottle. She heard "put a bean in your nose" and so she did. We couldn't get it out, and at her age she sucks in instead of blowing out when we tell her to blow her nose. My dad was smart enough to go talk to the police that were there and they called the EMT's (which were just a block away). The fire truck and ambulance came. They said they didn't have the right tools to get it out and that we'd probably have to go to an instacare, but then one of them came up with the idea to use the oxygen tube on reverse and suction the bean out. Thankfully, it worked and we saved the hassle of going to the doctor.

The bean in the nose incident. They gave her a stuffed animal that we call "Bean"

This was a temper tantrum right before the picture above (poor Hallie)

Connor started kindergarten this year. I wasn't sure this was so great at the very beginning because the first day I put him on the bus and he ended up going into the wrong class. Then he kept leaving things that I sent to school in his backpack. He has figured things out since then. He comes home every day singing a new song or reciting a rhyme he learned, so I suppose things are sinking in. He is the only kid to get on the afternoon bus at his stop, which is kind of weird. I never know if I have missed the bus or not since nobody else is ever waiting there. On the way home, he gets to walk home with all the big kids and does great. He is really growing up.

He just finished his first real season of soccer. It was cute to see him play. I know he'll love it as he gets older.

Connor has also been into hearing and repeating all the cute things he used to say when he was little. This is another reason why I should keep up this blog a little better, so I can remember all the cute things they say.
First day of Kindergarten

Marissa is loving piano. She also does great in school and loves the social aspect of it all. She did another season of soccer this year and did really well. She is not afraid to get in there and kick the ball. I think she liked being with friends and getting treats the most though.

She has been dying to do gymnastics and just started a month ago. She takes it with her best friend Aurora. I always think the progress is so slow at the beginning, but I know she is learning things and getting stronger. She definitely has a lot of fun doing it.

Hallie moved back into Marissa's room this summer when she transitioned from a crib to a toddler bed. For the most part, this arrangement works, although things are a bit more tight in the room than before. We put up a reading lamp and got her a clock to put on the top of her bed so she can easily read at night. She has been reading up a storm lately, which is great to see.

On another note, the permanent tooth finally grew in in the space left from the one she knocked out 5 years ago (when she was barely 2). I'm sure she will be getting braces some time in the next few years. All of the kids will at some point, I'm sure.

First day of 2nd grade

Alex is looking so much more grown up lately. One reason could be his hair. He had me cut it super short a few months ago, and then one day at the beginning of the summer, he came out of the bathroom with his hair in a faux-hawk and has worn it like that almost every day since. This cracks me up because I always suggested that he spike his hair or do something different with it (like on crazy hair day) and he never ever wanted to. And then one day he just decided to make the change. I also think it's funny because the faux-hawk kind of makes him look more rebellious in a way but he is still such a kind, sweet kid.

On Tuesday he had 3 more baby teeth pulled (for a total of 6!). When we went to the orthodontist and looked at his x-ray, the orthodontist said he didn't even know what he was going to do with this case yet. Because he had the ectopic molar removed and because of losing a baby tooth on that same side, his teeth have been sliding together making an impossibly small space for 3 permanent teeth to fit in. That's why the other 3 baby teeth were pulled, to get the permanent teeth in sooner, to have something to anchor to to push the back molar further back... anyway, it's a mess. I have faith in our orthodontist. Alex is so easy going about everything. No problems at all getting his teeth pulled.

That night, he did the pine wood derby. His car looked really awesome again. Alex had definite ideas of what he wanted it to look like. Jared designed the car to ride the rail and go really fast on the regulation track, but when we got there we found that it was not a regulation track. It was a plastic one with no rail. We were annoyed that the track was different. Anyway, Alex took 5th this time.

Alex had a really great soccer team this year. The field was huge compared to what he has done in the past. They won every game except their last one. Alex was a great runner and great on defense. It's so cool to see the skills develop as they get older. It makes for some really exciting games.

He still sets his alarm for 7:00 so he can wake up and eat, pack his lunch, do his homework, practice and still have plenty of time to play or just relax before he has to get on the bus at 8:45. Now that Marissa has an alarm clock she does the same thing. So funny. I love to see how independent they are about getting their homework and other things done by themselves. There's just not enough of me to go around so I think they are forced to be independent. The way I see it, I'm doing them a favor.

First day of 4th grade

 This was his Utah cake he made for school, and en example of the faux-hawk
Pine wood derby and his smile showing his missing teeth

Erin started 6th grade and is now ruling the school. She has a great teacher and is doing some really fun things this year in school. They had an assembly about reflections and she came home determined to enter in every category (except dance). So she's been working really hard on entering 6 different things. The deadline is next week. So far she has done 3D art, 2D art, wrote and illustrated a book, composed a piano piece and started a movie. She has an idea for photography as well. I really hope that she will win something this year.

Right before school started, she cut off 10 inches of hair and donated it. I think she looks so cute with her new haircut. She is so good at making up different hair styles as well. She loves to look pretty (and she is!)

Her activity this year, besides piano, is a Music Dance Theater class that she started at the Alpine Community Theater. It's once a week for an hour and a half and she does it with her best friend Emma. The first day the teachers couldn't remember their names. Emma wore stripes the first week and Erin did the next, so they kept switching their names that week. Yesterday, they dressed exactly the same to try to trick the teachers again. Funny girls. I'm excited to see what they learn this year. I think this is one of Erin's talents. It's definitely a challenge to try to find out what talents your kids might have and then to know how to help them develop them more.

I love this girl, Erin. She is very sensitive to other people's feelings. She always asks what's wrong and is someone I can now talk to about how stressful this parenting thing can get. I'm so grateful for her and for the other older kids. They are at such great ages.

First day of 6th grade

Jared came home from a work party one day with a first place trophy. It was for go carting (that was the team's party). I said, "Why am I not surprised that you won first place?" He said, "That's exactly what I told my team that you would say." We know each other so well. Jared just kind of wins at everything of this nature. He is very competitive, which helps, and also watches others to see how to do things right, then he makes changes and improves his own performance. This is why I am never surprised about him winning.

Racquetball season is in full swing. I have no doubts about him doing well again this year. Right now he is ranked 17th in the state.

There is quite a stir in our surrounding neighborhood about the new Family Search building that has been proposed to go in on the Thanksgiving Point driving range. We, of course, are ecstatic about Jared's work moving 3 blocks away (the plan is to consolidate the Salt Lake and Orem offices to a central location--one big reason why we moved where we did, the hope of this happening here). The problem is that the building is on the West of the tracks. Perfect for commuters, but not perfect for the homes trying to leave the neighborhood at rush hour. There are only 2 exit points and they get really congested with all the new offices already in place as well as the Front Runner letting off tons of commuters around 5:00-6:30. In other words, it's already bad, but putting the new building there will only make things worse. There was a big community meeting opposing the project. We hope that it will still happen. How great would it be to reduce Jared's commute by 2 hours a day? He could walk to work and come home for lunch. Very exciting.

The other exciting thing about his work lately is a thing called FH5. The is where the management has been focusing on the employee experience. They've been implementing some great things. The newest is that they are letting people work four 10's and have every Friday off. Jared decided to do nine 9's and get every other Friday off. He works an hour more a day, which is a small adjustment. Hopefully we will like this change.

I, Laura, have been trying to keep my head above water, probably since school started. In the summer I could leave my kids home and go to the gym literally 2 houses down (she converted her garage to a gym). Now all I have are the hard ones home with me all day. Sometimes it feels like I am in a circus and that I have to keep juggling a whole bunch of balls. Most of the time I can keep them all in the air, but without fail, a ball will drop and then another and another. I try to keep everything going, but then I forget something or fail one of my kids in some way. I was watching the movie that we made in 2008 called "My Life 24/7" where I showed how fast the dishes, laundry and messes piled up as well as dealing with 3 demanding children. When I watched it this time, it made me kind of sad. I am still dealing with 3 demanding children, plus have 3 others to keep up with. Not only that but my piles of laundry and dishes are even bigger than they were back then. It's just overwhelming.

Jared was telling one of his friends that he plays racquetball every Thursday night and they asked what his wife does. He said that I have my things too, like Bunco every month and another monthly GNO with the pin-up girls. He said, "You're happy with your life, right?"... I guess it was the wrong day to ask that. I mean, overall, yes, I am happy with my life. I always wanted 6 kids (and here they are), I have a great home, and friends and so many blessings... but... I clean up poop and pee multiple times a day, I get yelled at by an almost 3 year old all day, I have to give my body to a baby every hour or two, I have to break up fights and clean up messes, and watch things that I like get broken or dirty... I haven't gotten a full night's sleep in months and I hardly ever get anything that I want to do done... No, this is not the picture of a happy life. It's hard when this is all I do. If I can just get one thing done for myself, one small thing, then I feel like I've done something useful. People will say, but what you are doing is so good or so important, and I know. It just feels so... hard when I'm doing it.

It hit me one day when my friend with one baby posted a picture of her 8 month old who had pulled all the toilet paper off the roll. Just one baby with an empty TP roll and a pile of toilet paper on the floor. Not that that isn't annoying, because it certainly is. But, I had just scraped a pile of poop off my bathroom floor and sloshed poopie underwear in the toilet while my baby screamed and threw a whole container of baby food on the floor. The older kids had reduced a chocolate cake to crumbs and were taking handfuls of it, licking their hands and spreading the crumbs all over the downstairs, smashing it into my just cleaned carpet. Dishes were all over the table and counter, and books, toys, papers and random pieces of garbage were evenly distributed throughout the space. A gang of 7 boys had just run through the house raiding my pantry and leaving various new cups of water on the counter as they ran back outside. A glass jar had been broken, book pages had been torn out of book, nail polish had gotten on the walls, and I had dealt with 3 baby diaper blow-outs and 3 toddler accidents that day. And amidst all this, I let a ball or two drop. I notice that one or two of the kids has long nails with dirt underneath them, or I'll notice a buildup of earwax in someone's ear as I drop them off for school, or I'll realize that Connor hasn't done 20 minutes of reading a day all week and I'll have to lie on his homework about it, or I'll send my kids to piano without having done their theory (because they won't do it unless I remind them to), and who knows the last time any of us showered... and then it seems like all of the balls I was somehow keeping in the air are now on the ground, the poop-streaked, baby food slimed and cake crumbly floor. It's intense.

It won't last forever. The baby will start sleeping, I won't have to change diapers for the rest of my life, and heck, I may even get to go to the bathroom by myself some day. I may get to work on projects without putting my baby on the dirty garage floor. But that day is not today. And that's okay. There is plenty to be happy about. There is plenty to take in and enjoy.

I do love this family of mine!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Erin's Birthday and Camping

Erin turned 11 on June 18th. Eleven! She is growing up so fast and is such a wonderful girl. She has become very responsible and can be left with all the kids if we need to go somewhere. That is a game changer for us. We spent years having to worry about babysitters, and now we have Erin. It's amazing! She is so great with the baby and taking care of Hallie. She'll will often just make Hallie lunch or get her dressed without being asked. The other day I left for some reason and as I was leaving she asked if they could watch a movie. I told them to clean up a little and then they could. When I came home, everything was cleaned up really well. She said that she assigned everyone a job and set the timer for 15 minutes. If they weren't done by then, she would set it for 5 more minutes--but everyone was done after 15. They are obviously motivated by watching TV. I was impressed that Erin would do that on her own.

She got the now traditional birthday breakfast in bed, home made waffles, pears and juice.
Erin wanted roller blades for her birthday. They were sent to us a week before and she was dying to open them right away, so she got her present a bit early. On her actual birthday, she wanted to go to Classic Skating with the family. Looking back on that day, I was really stressed out. First off, Jared couldn't find his keys that morning so I hastily gave him mine so he wouldn't miss the train. Then I looked everywhere for Jared's and couldn't find them. I had to go and pick up some chicken that I had ordered before 9:30 that morning (and by "some" I mean 80 lbs.--yeah). I was panicking a bit. I asked to borrow my neighbor's car and as I was leaving, I reached in my bag and found the keys. Nice. For the rest of the day I was canning chicken. The first batch turned out fine, but the second one took over an hour and a half to get to the right pressure (it's supposed to take 10 min). I didn't know whether I should stop cooking it or continue trying to get it to pressure. It was taking forever! By the time Jared got home, it was super late and it still had to cook for an hour. Jared fixed the problem (just like he fixes everything for me!) and it finished cooking. He took the kids to the skate rink and I met them when the chicken finished.

Anyway, the point was I didn't make Erin's birthday that exciting. I did bring home a treat for her for babysitting and some new earrings for her birthday to make up for it. I think she had an okay day despite my frustration.

 These three had lots of fun!
 Gotta love skate rink carpet. Connor is pretty cautious about skating/trying new things.
And this is Jared making sure that he had a sufficient amount of fun himself. He stayed on for a long time and would have been able to go two more times if his hands and legs hadn't gotten so sore the first time he rode. It's so funny that he wanted to do that.
 This is to prove that Wesley was there. No proof that I was however...
Due to the chicken incident, there was no time to make a cake. Erin got to pick this one out from Harmon's on the way home.
Erin really is an amazing person. As she has gotten older, I feel like I have more fun with her. She has a great sense of humor and is a great actress. She can recite funny lines of movies and shows that she's only seen once. I don't know how she remembers them exactly right, but she has always had that talent. I love her creativity. Lately she has been working hard in the basement with her best friend Emma on their invention business. They draw out different ideas then pitch them to each other. There's even a patent on the wall. Now they are working on building a prototype for one of the inventions. I think it's a pet habitat/home? I don't know much about it except for the times when they come up asking for pvc pipe, a glue gun, a needle and thread, and other random items.

Erin is still doing great with piano. I love to see them get better and actually enjoy playing. Luckily, their teacher is really great. Since she has a waiting list, every student has to practice 6 days a week or they will get kicked out of the studio. I like it because they have to practice. Erin also really loves to read. Yesterday we went to the library and I told all of the kids to get a lot of books and fat books so that they would last longer. So far, Erin has read 2 1/2 of hers. That's not exactly going to last that long. But I love that she likes to read.

Here's just another example of Erin's creativity. We went on a little camping trip right before her birthday and she was the brains behind these little fairy houses made of moss, sticks, flowers and rocks.

And can someone tell me how I am just now hearing about these amazing campfire eclairs? We borrowed these dowels from my neighbor, then wrapped a crescent roll around one and cooked it over the fire. Once cooked, you add vanilla pudding with cool whip and put it inside. I even added chocolate frosting on mine. Umm, delicious! I liked them so much more than s'mores. I'm going to have to make me some dowels for future campouts.
 We went camping with Jared's brother Brian and his sister Rachel and their families. It was definitely a fun and relaxing time to get out of the heat and into nature. No technology or screens is always a needed break. Sure, we got poured on the first night. It was raining so hard that water started dripping through the rain fly as well as seeping through the bottom of the tent. There was a river flowing under the whole tent that made it feel like a water bed. The kids thought it was great until their stuff started getting wet. We lived. Come to think of it, I kind of always feel like I narrowly escape disaster/death every time I go camping. I still love it though.
We played four square and spike ball. Not sure if you can see this, but Marissa and Olivia were dressed just like twins. I kept mixing them up all day. Even though they are two years apart, they are exactly the same height. Marissa is a little on the short side:)
And here's the photographic (though very far from photogenic) evidence that I was indeed on this camping trip.