Thursday, January 22, 2015

Our Insta-Sort of Life

I had a good phone conversation with my friend Allyson the other day. Among all sorts of other woes we were discussing (solving?), we talked about blogging versus Instagram.

The pros of Instagram, is recording one photo with one simple blurb, rather than write a whole blog post about a particular photo or experience. Instagram captures little moments so succinctly and perfectly, and if you know me well, you know the little moments and things are my favorite parts of life.

But, I'm not a big Instagram-er either. I don't post photos usually more than once a week, and I'm not blogging a ton either, so I'm feeling a little pressed for recording my children's memories. Although, I have been photocopying the family update letters I write to my mother-in-law on a mission to put in my personal journal. I mean, heaven forbid I forget the day-to-day details of running a household of seven...

I mean, as though I want to forget that Luke has a foot issue that is leaving a orthopedic foot doctor "baffled" and him in constant pain. Or that Ellie was a little apprehensive about a new school teacher the first day of 3rd term. Or that Megan baked 150+ peanut butter bars last Saturday for a fundraiser (I think I forget to tell my MIL that part), and then a few hours later came down with a fever and sore throat. (We're hoping none of the PB bar customers caught the germs...) I don't want to forget that Drew had his first lesson on cheating when he dealt out our UNO game and he had all Wild Draw 4 and Draw 2 cards. So much for letting him deal when I'm busy finishing up a task in the next room. I don't want to forget Joshua's dirty knees from playing football outside every afternoon, although I do want to forget the dead grass that is tracked into my house every afternoon.

None of the above have any photos, but I think all could have made some type of Instagram post. But they didn't, and now they are nothing more than a passing sentence on this post.

But here's a few things that were captured in a sentence or less on an Instagram post...

Cookies at the bus stop. Once a month or so, I bake a gazillion cookies (side note: do you know I don't really like chocolate chip cookies?, but I LOVE the uncooked dough) and stand at the junior high and elementary school bus stop. (I did the high school bus stop once this year, but this day Megan had driven to school.)

I try to ignore the germs of a million hands inside the cookie container, and I try to look past the rude children that don't say thank you but instead say, "How many can we have?" I love the junior high kids that get off the bus a stop early to have a cookie, and I love a few of the junior high kids that think they're too cool to get excited about a cookie, but the suppressing of their smiles is awesome. I love most of all the look on my own kids' faces when they see me standing there with cookies. (I never tell them in advance.)
 I told Drew that he needed to practice the latest round of sight words for another day or two before returning it to school. He was obviously too anxious for the full size candy bar they get after passing the testing (I so disagree with the candy bar thing...) that he signed the paper himself. I am hoping this is the first and last time he forges my signature.

(In his defense, I really don't think he had a clue I was supposed to sign it, he just was signing his name and taking care of business himself.)

Somehow, we  have turned into NFL fans, and our last few Sunday afternoons have been spent cheering on the Green Bay Packers. Since before last year's Superbowl, my kids have also loved the Seahawks (but clearly 2nd to the Packers). Sunday's game was a major disappointment to my kids and even hours later I was feeling bummed for my boys.

My brother Casey is thrilled to hear we are sports fans now and the texts between him and I on Sunday made me chuckle. In reference to me still feeling disappointed 4 hours after the Packers loss he sent a text that summed up my life well, "hahahahahahahahahahah...This is almost as good as you now owning farm animals."

Yep. Farm animals and NFL fans. I'd never have predicted these parts of my life!

There's some more serious parts of life I'm gearing up to write about (maybe), but for now, this will suffice as a permanent tidbit of our life.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Parent. Sleep. Repeat.

If I end up in a mental hospital one of these days, I have no doubt it will be because of monotony. It will be because the same words come out of my mouth, and my body physically does the same things over and over again. It will be the result of days and weeks and months and years of repetition.

My words and actions will be similar to these:

Answering the question at least 6 times every afternoon, "What's for dinner?" I thought I once solved this by placing a little chalkboard on my kitchen counter. I instead found myself saying at least 6+ times, "Read the chalkboard." (If every individual could even just limit the question to only once, it would be easier on my mental state. But no one seems to remember they asked 10 or 20 minutes earlier and I'm repeating myself far more than 6 times.)

My body will be stuck into a permanent position of wiping off kitchen counters. It doesn't seem to matter how much older my children get, or how many kitchen tasks they can now assist with or do themselves. I feel like multiple times a day I am wiping off the kitchen counters.

I'm not sure my mouth will ever stop uttering the words "Make Good Choices" when saying goodbye to my children. They seem to naturally follow the words, "Goodbye. I love you." or any such variants such as, "I love you. Have a good day." or "Have fun. Love you." Even the little boy next door that I drive to kindergarten each day now chants, "Good choices" as soon as the word, "Make" comes out of my mouth each day as Drew and his friend hop out of the car at the kindergarten pull-up.

I think I will forever be in the notion of fixing the next meal, or the next snack. And if not actively making it, I'll likely be planning for it, or shopping for it, or cleaning up after it.

My hand will be stuck in the perpetual movement of signing my name. In this day of electronics, I feel like the need for my signature should be dying out. Yet it seems every afternoon, evening, and morning, I am met with a stack of papers that require my signature. Thank heaven, Mike had a stamp made of my signature for the office. I think he was getting scared tired of asking me (the president/owner) to sign papers for the business.

My brain will always be calculating exactly how many minutes a child read the previous night. I will never understand why it can't just be assumed my children continue to read every night as they have since toddlers. Reading isn't hard for us to do. Remembering every book read and the approximate time taken to read said books is.

I feel as though my car will always be on auto-pilot to some type of grocery store. Doesn't matter if it is Walmart, Dicks, or Costco. I'm quite certain a day doesn't pass without somebody needing something.

I'm not sure there will ever be a day that passes without me saying at least 10 times the phrases, "Close the door!" "Turn off the light!" "Put your shoes away!" "Close the fridge!" or the questions, "Have you practiced?" "Is your homework done?" "Is your room clean?" "Are your teeth brushed?"

(Speaking of teeth brushing. I dream of the day we don't have more toothpaste in the sinks than in all the toothpaste tubes combined.)

Best go now.
Drew has just requested a snack.
Oh the irony.

(This photo is completely unrelated. But the amount of nonsense photos I find on my i-pad and cell phone are sure to contribute to any questionable mental state of mind.)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Another Christmas Past

Ellie was the lucky finder of the quarter in the trifle on Christmas Eve. She spent all of Christmas Eve day announcing, "I just know I'm going to win the $5.00 bill tonight. I just know it." Not sure how much of it was clairvoyance versus sheer luck, but she was one happy girl.
(Apparently Megan was struggling with a little envy.)

One of my favorite days in December is "Christmas Sunday." The Sunday before Christmas always finds my children in new Christmas ties and dresses and of course a photo in front of the tree. I was as shocked as Megan's response was when she asked me that morning, "Did anyone get any new clothes to wear?"

No new clothes.
No photo.
Maybe ext year.

Each Christmas Eve day as I spend hours in the kitchn, I ask my children, "Do you really love this formal Christmas Eve dinner tradition?" They always ask with a resounding yes, and every year it continues. Apparently, it is lots of peoples' favorites. Not necessarily mine.
A few of the siblings may or may not have taken issue with the fact Drew was allowed to wear his new pajamas for dinner instead of the *required* best-dress.

Speaking of pajamas. The Pajama Fairy did much better in remembering her yearly responsibility of delivering pajamas on Christmas Eve morning than I did remembering new church clothes. And the traditional photo by the tree with stockings on Christmas Eve night was not forgotten.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions are the sibling gifts they give to each other. In late November, they draw names and each child buys a gift for another. It really is quite tender as a parent to see the excitement on the giver's face, every bit as much as the recipient's face. 
Drew was pretty excited to give Ellie some clothes for her American Girl doll clothes. His instructions to me before we purchased them were, "Just a pretty dress or something that probably will touch the doll's legs."
Joshua was pretty proud of the football necklace and Green Bay Packers chapstick he purchased for Megan. Megan's squeals of surprise and made the long waiting to give it to her worth it.

Joshua was beyond excited to get some football cards and a Pez dispenser from Ellie.
Fortunately, Luke purchased football cards for Drew too. It was a little tense there for a few minutes when Drew saw Joshua open his present up first.
Luke was pretty thrilled with his new socks from Megan, that make a "scene" when both legs are together. Quite over-priced really, for a pair of socks, but the giver and the receiver were both pretty excited about them. 

It was much easier than I had anticipated getting the kids to bed on Christmas Eve. Those two little boys were CONVINCED they could see Santa's sleigh in the distance and on one last panicked run into our room, one of them announced, "We have to go to sleep right now. Santa's on his way."

Christmas Day started earlier than usual. I think it was about 5am when the children first woke up. Santa leaves their stockings their bedroom doors, which was perfect to keep them entertained for a while before they ventured into wake us up. Mike wasn't happy to be woken so early, but it is Christmas after-all, and I think it was about 6:15am when we were taking this traditional photo on the stairs before heading down.

I always have the job of going downstairs first to check if Santa came, and to turn on the Christmas lights. Typically, I pose myself with the camera and attempt to capture all sorts of smiles and squeals with either the still camera or video camera. I'm no photographer anyway, and rarely do I ever get a decent photo. So this year, after taking this one photo,  I opted to just enjoy the smiles and squeals with my own eyes and my own memory instead.
Santa doesn't wrap presents at our house, he instead places the 3 gifts he gives to each child in these bags the children carefully set out the night before. There is typically a very small 4th gift sitting on top to tell which child and which bag go together. (The children claim to each have a specific bag, but sometimes Santa isn't very good at remembering.)

By the end of Christmas day, I did have a few slight regrets that I hadn't pulled the camera out more, so I grabbed who was nearby for one final capture of the day.

And that's how we'll remember Christmas Day 2014.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Things I Love/Don't Love About December This Year

1. I love my children's excitement each morning to run into the dining room and get a piece of candy from the Advent House.

 I do not love that often Megan and Luke don't get their candy until after school and by then it is gone...and then the 5 year old gets yelled at as the culprit, and he cries out of guilt.

2. I love the children's excitement each morning about finding the d*$# elf that my sister-in-law gifted us years ago.

 I do not love that Luke was so enthusiastic that the elf come back this year and promised he'd help make the magic happen. I think he's forgotten about that promise.

3. I love this ceramic nativity set that my children painted. I'm quite certain I will treasure it even more 15 years from now.

I don't love that Luke didn't paint anything. It wasn't so much that he was too cool for it, he was acquiescing to Drew's whiny complaints of not being able to paint it all by himself.

4. I love our Christmas Tree. It's a memory we'll always have.

I don't especially love our tree this year. It's big, over-sized and I let the kids decorate it. As such, the decorations are heavy in some areas, sparse in others.
(This section obviously screams 'Joshua did this part of the tree.')

5. I love that we have a big box of shortbread under the tree! I've always wanted to have something under the tree as a treat each evening. (We had a big tin of Quality Street under ours as a child.) And haven't done it because I always had a young child that would get into it at wrong times.

There's nothing I don't love about this tradition. Well, except for maybe the I-don't-really-need-a-cookie-every-day part.

6. I love our tradition of driving around finding our favorite houses with Christmas lights and the children taking turns doorbell ditching a little gift to them.

I don't love that every year someone gets car-sick and Mike says, "This happens every year. Why do we do this?" (He's not big on traditions. Or Christmas. Or all 7 of us in one car.)

7. I love the lights on my garland and Christmas tree. Especially in the evening, when it's dark and the lights shine out.

I don't love that no one but me seems to be able to unplug them when its time for bed.

8. I love the holiday baking day tradition with my mom and Melanie.

I don't love that I taste-tested one too many treats by the time we were finished.

9. I love dinner parties with some of our favorite friends.

I don't love that I didn't take a picture of the fun evening.

10. I love the Live Nativity that a local church puts on each year. Hardly anyone attends, and so it is very calm and quiet and seems a perfect portrayal of that first Christmas Night.

I don't love that this year WWIII ensued at our house right before we went. Which left me not having the nicest feelings towards 1-2  members of the family.

I love December.

I don't love the long to-do list it causes.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Just a Typical Sunday

Our Sunday afternoons are quite often slow-paced. But let me clarify what I mean by slow-paced... we have little (if anything) scheduled or planned. It doesn't mean everyone walks around in slow motion, or that our voices and tones are slower and more controlled.

It simply means, there isn't a lot of things that have to get done, and for some questionable reason, we all seem to end up for hours in the SAME ROOM!

Mike and I have tried to question our children for years, "What is so cool about Mom and Dad that you want/have to be right here with us?" They don't ever really give us an answer.

We don't have a huge house, but we have bedrooms children could go in, an upstairs "loft/family room" that children could play/entertain themselves in, and we even have a spare bedroom that is often used as a craft room/toy room/school room, etc.

But not on Sundays. For some reason on Sundays, everyone likes to gather in the same room, and as rosy and peachy as that sounds. It usually isn't. Mike lays on the couch, I sit in the chair with my feet up on the ottoman and the children fit themselves (and projects and toys) in there around us.

Lately, the attention is focused on the television screen for NFL football games. So NOT what I want my family to be doing on the Sabbath, but I have relaxed even more since THESE DAYS.

Except no one watches the game quietly. There's Hot Wheels being vrmmed somewhere in the room. Megan is trying to tell us story on top of story as well as random NFL facts that I DON'T CARE ABOUT. Luke is throwing a football to Joshua, Ellie is typically fitting in cartwheels whilst dodging Hot Wheels and footballs.

Someone always yells at Drew to stop making so much noise. Someone yells because they got hit (or near miss) with the football, someone yells at Megan to stop talking so much, someone yells at Ellie to go cartwheel where there is more space, and I too often yell at Mike, who is calmly and quietly laying on the couch and ask, "How do you SLEEP THROUGH IT ALL? It's NOT FAIR!"

On a recent Sunday, the football toss escalated into a chaotic, wild game of sibling football. Obviously knowing how these types of events escalate, I was quite happy when I looked over and saw that Joshua had ON HIS OWN ACCORD separated himself from the chaos and sat in the corner of the family room reading a book. I was so proud (and shocked) of his little move to avoid the inevitable trouble, that I Instagrammed this photo with this comment: "Once in a blue moon, while absolute chaos ensues with all the other children, one child will choose to separate themselves and make a better choice. #hemaybemyfavoriterightnow #sundaysarenotmyfavorite"

(bad, bad photo I know, but I've never claimed to be a photographer...I'm a memory recorder.)

He remained my favorite child for a while...

This particular Sunday evening, we had somewhere we needed to be. So amid this typical Sunday evening, we interrupted the children to get on their church clothes so we could have our annual tithing settlement with our bishop. (Personal, short, family meeting with the clergy of our ward.)

Mass chaos began again as children argued, negotiated, fought, etc. about the task at hand, but within a few moments everyone came back ready to go, only for us to realize we had forgotten it was 10 minutes later than we originally thought.

So...Megan scattered into the front room to practice her harp, and Joshua was told to quit throwing a football and to leave the family room we were all in.

Joshua obeyed.
Unbeknownst to us, he took a soft "globe" and decided to use it as a soccer ball and entertain himself in the hall by himself.

Just as our 10 extra minutes were up, and we were to walk out the door to leave, we heard a sound that we knew wasn't a good sound. We didn't know quite what it was until we saw that it was 200+ pieces of Candy Corn and a large, tall glass jar hitting the hard tile floor.

First we saw this:
And then I noticed this:
(shelf where the fall decoration once stood- it was a tall glass jar filled with lots of Candy Corn and fall decor)

We all followed the sound.

Mike said nothing except, "We've got to go to the church. Megan, be careful not to step in the glass." I stood there, not knowing whether to laugh or cry at the horrible mess scattered into the dining room, living room and hall. Joshua promptly burst into tears, I think most likely at the perplexity that NO ONE RAISED THEIR VOICE at him.

The sound of the crash and subsequent spilling candy and breaking glass was enough punishment for Joshua. He knew what he had done was wrong, there was no need to remind him. (Nice example that once in a while Mike and I do okay at parenting.)

The next morning at breakfast, Joshua expressed his surprise that nobody yelled at him when the decoration fell to the floor. Just as I was about to commend myself aloud to him and remind him that Mom and Dad are capable of having calm, controlled reactions, Joshua surmised,

"It was probably because the decoration was almost 'expired.' It's almost time for Christmas decorations anyway."

I wanted to argue with him about his surmising, but I'm trying to set an example of disagreeing and arguing less with each other. (A frequent big problem around here.)

So, I'll leave it for you to decide instead...

Mike and I remained calm, cool and collected because:

a. sometimes, simply put, we have pretty stellar parenting skills
b. likely we were too worn out and exhausted to care
c. if it's almost the end of a particular season we don't care if seasonal decorations get broken
d. a and b
e. all of the above

Hint, the answer isn't c or e.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I Miss This

I was just glancing back at old posts in an effort to find the specifics of an earlier blog post, and I found myself lost in past memories and write-ups of life around here. Despite other computer tabs open, anxiously awaiting my return to the task at hand, I couldn't help but "waste some time" reading and remembering.

I miss blogging frequently.

When I think about it, I feel mild anxiety about all that I haven't written on here.

But then again, sometimes I feel free that what I'm experiencing, thinking and feeling, isn't being written in my head while it happens. (I think that's when one knows they're a writer...when they are writing a sentence in their head while experiencing the event.)

I have a lot to write about, but I also have a lot to keep quiet about.

I know I can't go too long without writing, but I keep debating whether or not to just close off my blog to anyone but myself and write away to my hearts content.

We shall see.
For now, enjoy this little blurry glimpse of a recent family carnefel. This was Luke's game of "Who can reach the front door without touching any of the strings."
(And yes, for the record, I'd be mad if there was a picture of me in this position posted on the world wide web, but I'm optimistic Mike won't feel the same.)

This picture makes it look far more idyllic, peaceful, and kumbaya-ish than the carnefel really was. In reality, it was our first family carnefel in months, Mike and I really wanted to not follow through with it, somebody cried during it, correction, I think three people actually cried during it, Drew won his own drawing contest game that he was judging, Ellie's game was confusing to understand, and nobody got to the front door without touching the strings. (Actually, Mike claims he did but it wasn't worth arguing about.)

Those last few sentences sum up a few of our family's personalities perfectly.

The end.
I may or may not be back soon.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mornings With Drew

It crosses my mind at least once a day how quickly time passes, and how little time remaining I have with someone home with me during the day. I LOVE having Drew home with me each morning. Despite his too frequent pleas for a snack, his forgetfulness to do his jobs, or his "youngest child syndrome" antics, I absolutely adore the time he and I spend together doing all sorts of things each morning before he heads off to kindergarten after lunch.

The other day, while Drew sat at the counter eating the exact same lunch he eats every day (a half peanut butter sandwich, and either applesauce, apple slices or carrots), I stood across from him "chatting." He had my complete attention, and it was a moment I willed my mind to remember forever. So much so, that I decided to grab a paper and pencil and record Drew's answers to some of my questions.

Me: What is your favorite thing about school?
Drew: "Math. Wait, what is math?"

Me: What do you like best about mornings with mom?
Drew: "Playing games and I forgot what else."

Me: What are you going to be when you grow up?
Drew: "A football player"

Me: What does it feel like being 5 years old?
Drew: "You mean AND A HALF?"
Yes: What does it feel like being FIVE AND A HALF?
Drew: "The same as 5."

Me: If you could do anything you wanted right now, what would you do?
Drew: "I would cook 100 pieces of toast and eat them all."

I love mornings with Drew.
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