Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Son, The Scouting Over-Achiever

I have admitted before that I am not a fan of the Boy Scouts of America as they are associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have nothing against the BSA as an organization, my issue is simply that by default of being an active member of the LDS church, we as parents/families "sign up" for what I think should be an extra-curricular choice of time/money/commitment, etc.

Mike and I have the mind-set that we will support our children in scouting to the extent they wish to be involved. We hold no esteem to the achieving of specific scouting awards, as we feel strongly there are other avenues for boys (and girls for that matter) to reach the same end goals.

As such, we sent Luke off to scout camp the other week having no idea he would come home a scouting star! That kid of OURS earned the most merit badges in the whole camp (200+/- boys), and was one of two boys at the camp to swim a mile. Luke spent the afternoon he returned home researching requirements for future merit badges and wouldn't stop talking about the timeline towards earning longer term rewards.

As Mike and I have stated before, we will support Luke (and Joshua and Drew that will follow) to the extent to which they want to be involved in it. Which at this point with Luke, is translating into a whole lotta BSA talk. That boy is intense. He wears me out.


(As a favor to my dear husband, I'll refrain from my long blog post about how this FULL scout uniform came about. He has heard the story one too many times.)
(Think this picture is quite telling of how Mike spent his 36 hours as a father chaperone at scout camp...)

And that's all I'll say about scouting for today.
Lucky you!

Monday, July 28, 2014


If you know me very well at all, you know I am passionate about focusing on "the little things" in life. I am such a firm believer that those are the moments that will really matter in the grand scheme of things. I think it is for that reason that I have become such a lover of Instagram.

First I have to tell you, I fought joining Instagram for months and months and months. But I finally did a few months ago, and I love having quick, simple, (instant!) ways to preserve a moment or memory. I've carried a notebook with me for years, and I am always quickly writing a thought or a sentence in either that or my phone. But with the constant availability of cameras nowadays (phones), I snap even more photos than I would have a decade ago, and I end up with a million photos on my camera and often wonder why I had originally desired to capture that particular scene or moment.

So I love Instagram for that.
But, I don't love it because, I find myself with a particular way to capture exactly what I've used my blog for, for so many years that I find myself neglecting my blog more and more. Although, that being said--I have about 7 post "drafts" that I just haven't gotten around to finishing. So never fear, I will not stop writing. I have too much to say. (One of Megan's pet-peeves about my Instagram account-I write too much in my posts sometimes.)

But for today, I'll purge (some of) my Instagram photos into this nice little post, so they are recorded here too and add a few that didn't make it to Instagram.

Here's a glimpse of summer time at our house...

"enjoy the little things in life, for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things."

Finally got around to adding additional sand to our sandbox. I remember distinctly the day Mike built that sandbox! Drew was a newborn, and I was typing a much needed PTA email on the computer, while he laid at my feet with a bottle propped in his mouth with my foot!! (Yes, I can admit that!) I couldn't imagine the day he would actually be able to play in it. He and Joshua love that sandbox, even though it is too small. Mike doesn't love that sandbox because the sand always "disappears" and there are too many trucks in it. He did however oblige us all and take the boys to get some more sand for it. The boys (and Mike) obviously loved watching the loader load the sand into the trailer. Hooray for boys.

 I love that my boys wake up each day asking for "holdies". They too often squabble over my lap, but I've always told them that's why Heavenly Father gave me two legs. One for each of them.
 If there were a mother-of-the-year award for moments, I think my BFF and I would get it. Luke and Jacob decided to take our inflatable raft on this bike trailer Luke made to the local pond. It was all fine and dandy until it came time to bring it home and they couldn't get it deflated and folded up as small again, AND it was wet and heavy. Melanie and I came to the rescue and were lugging fishing poles, life jackets and who knows what else around the pond trail. Thank goodness for cell phones, and boo on the fact Luke didn't take enough drinks for them. We are nice mothers.

Apparently, one of my children (Ellie?) has a fascination with the clouds. I love that they appreciate beauty and nature, but man does it take up a lot of space on my Dropbox account. (Nature and selfie (not of me) photos are in large quantities on my phone.)
I love these two boys. I love that these two boys so frequently remind me about what is really important in life.
I've tried to make a few trips to the local swimming pool with my children. Luke likes to try all sorts of tricks off of the diving board. He is always disappointed when I don't quite capture them on film.
 Ellie is quite typically found on her hands doing cartwheels, on her head doing a head-stand. Or on the ground having accidentally back-flipped off the trampoline.

Some days I let Ellie talk me into doing funny face selfies. Not my favorite thing to do, but quite easy to say yes to.
Ellie did a nice little Instagram post on my account with this picture of the two of us. She hashtagged herself as #favoritechild, which is a family joke. Megan was not amused. For some reason she thinks that hashtag applies only to her.
The fact that we no longer have a need for a bike trailer for a child to ride in, Luke converted it to this "flatbed" trailer. It's actually come in handy. He helped move stuff from one office to the other during our recent office move, he's hauled chairs and a cooler to the local parade, and chairs to another activity we attended. Hooray for Luke's creations. Boo for anything left in his path that may be remodeled. Drew took the inaugural ride on it (with a helmet I might add), to Mike's office to show it off.
Why do children think any and every little scratch needs a band-aid? I actually don't care though if they want one and use one (or two or three), just don't leave the wrappers out for ME to clean up!!!
Yours Truly helped the scouts put up flags on the 4th of July. Our church leader (Bishop) was mightily impressed I was participating in a scouting event, but come on, it's flags, and I am one patriotic gal.
Our dutiful attendance at the local parade. Not sure how this became "a tradition". It's kind of a lame parade, but we always receive an invitation for a good seat, so we can't complain. The children love it, Mike tolerates it..
Seeing these three quietly eating popsicles while swinging one day screamed, "Idyllic childhood" to me. These are the type of moments I hope my children remember of their childhood.

As opposed to them remembering the night times when the boys got yelled at to settle down, and Drew always ends up having to "lay lith" Dad to settle each night." "Why do I always have to lay lith?" Drew whines, but I think he and Mike secretly love that it happens every night. I enjoy seeing my children innocently sleeping ... it makes me forget *most of* the difficult parts of the day.

Megan got her driving permit. Mike is teaching her to drive. She prefers it that way and I prefer it that way. I don't have the patience, calmness or peace of mind to help her with that. It's Mike's department all the way.

Mike suggested the kids send a postcard to themselves from the Grand Canyon. Joshua was beyond thrilled when we received it in the mail. He couldn't quite process how it happened, but his smile was contagious.
Megan has visions I do not. She saw this dusty old, yucky dresser and transformed it into a nice little "table" for our front entry way. I LOVE it. Most of all, I love that she could do something like that!
Mike took a hiatus from shaving. I LOVED it. It made him crazy, but I think he liked how many more kisses it earned him. It was a sad day for me when he shaved it, mostly because he temporarily (for about 2 minutes) left a mustache and tried to kiss me with it despite my screaming very loudly. I strongly dislike mustaches. The kids thought it was hilarious.
While Luke spent a week at scout camp. I spent the week feeding animals. Ugh. Not what I signed up for at all. But I love Luke and sometimes that translates into feeding HIS animals for the week. Thank goodness for Megan and Joshua (and Mike) they took turns helping out too.
These boys were a little more trouble than they were worth during our recent office move, but then I see this innocent little rest they were taking at the end of the long day and wonder what exactly they could ever possibly do wrong!?!
I've tried to make more of an effort to "say yes" more. One night it translated into me sitting on a backless metal bench for 2 hours in 90 degree temps while Luke participated in some BMX racing.
 Other times it translates into Ellie cooking. I don't know what happened to my photos of that.

"Delilah" the craft teacher still comes almost weekly. This time she gave them puppets to color/make and then disappeared into the piano room for some quiet time. Somehow, the children found her and she became the perfect audience for the puppet show. After too many minutes of puppetry, the children were excused, and yours truly enjoyed a nice little nap.
I "said yes" to ice cream during swimming lessons. Instead of dropping both boys off, and one waiting while the other has lessons (parents can't watch), I took each boy to Dairy Queen during the other's lesson. Joshua thought it was the best day ever, and I was once again reminded that it's the little things the children love the most!

That's probably enough pictures for now.
Summer is moving along nicely.
Some days it is kicking my bum, other days, I feel like I'm doing okay. It's a great balancing act.

Happy Summer!

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Non-Birthday

Birthdays are a BIG deal.
A HUGE deal.
The absolute best day of any person's year.
Who couldn't possibly feel that way about their birthday?


Every year as his birthday approaches I ask, "Anything you want for your birthday?"
His reply is always the same, "Nothing."
And then I purchase a bunch of "stuff" that he really doesn't care about, but politely opens and either consumes, wears or uses.

A couple of years ago I quit doing balloons for him. (A Sowby birthday tradition anyone else would be devastated to miss out on.)

Last year, I quit "trying" for him, and he chose a quiet day with activities of his own choosing.

This year. I got him NOTHING.
Not one single present.
Not even Hot Tamales. Or Werthers. Or Orange Slices. Or cashews. Or Cinnamon Bears.

He didn't even care.
And guess what?
I didn't really either.
(I thought I would, but I didn't.)

All he asked for this year was, "Good kids."
Which he didn't exactly get, if you consider Drew's behavior during dinner. Of course in front of our out-of-town cousin/dinner guest.

It was one of my favorite birthdays of his. So was last year.  Too bad it took me 17 years of marriage to figure that out. But alas I did...July 20th won't really be anything special around here anymore except for a dinner of his choosing (maybe), and ice cream pie (definitely).

Happy Birthday Mike.
This is how he feels about it for me.

 This is how he really feels about it.

Works for him.
But if he thinks this is the new norm for birthdays when October 22nd comes around, and it is time to celebrate ME, I won't be happy.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The grand Grand Canyon

During our recent trip, Mike and I woke up on Monday morning in Kanab, ready to drive somewhere! We had already decided that we wouldn't go "straight home", but we had misunderstood each other about what detour we would be taking. I was pleasantly surprised when Mike announced we were going to the Grand Canyon! I was so excited. I had started reading a book the night before titled, 'I am the Grand Canyon', and I was regretting I was "so close" but wouldn't be visiting. The children weren't exactly thrilled about adding more driving to our road-trip, but Mike gave them all some Dramamine (3 of the 5 get extremely car sick if we don't, and the other 2 get the medicine for good measure.)

The drive to the canyon was a beautiful, steep, peaceful drive. We saw so many different scenes, from the red rocks, to forests of pine trees, open fields, roaming buffalo, etc. It was a testament of God's creation, and I was (for the most part) able to ignore the "How much longer?" and "Are we there yet?" questions from the back seat once the drowsiness of the medicine wore off.

I'm saving my initial experience at the Grand Canyon for my personal was a spiritual and enlightening experience for me.

Luke's cell phone's screen is a photo of the Grand Canyon. It makes me smile every time that I see it. I love that my children appreciated the beauty of one of God's greatest masterpieces.

Drew was a the entire time we were at the canyon. I particularly didn't want him to go into the gift store with me when I went to purchase some postcards. Joshua on the other hand did go with me, and I let him pick out a Grand Canyon key chain. Somehow, Drew made it into the store with an older sibling and immediately started whining about wanting a silly toy telescope. Not even giving him the time of day, I purchased my items and exited. While we sat outside writing postcards, Drew went on and on about the silly telescope, and Luke politely asked if he could have a key chain too. I went in the shop to buy Luke a key chain, and on a whim decided I would buy the (pretty cheap) telescope for Drew and give it to him later as either a souvenir, a bribe, or a reward. (This family trip was beginning to wear we down in more ways than one.)

I sent Megan off in search of some ice cream as a treat (FYI-there is none to be found at the North Rim.), Joshua was trying to use the compass on his key chain, Luke was viewing his key chain, Ellie was quietly enjoying the surroundings, I was trying to get some remote cell phone service to look up my in-laws mission address, Drew was crying and whining about why he didn't get a key chain and why can't he get the telescope, and Mike was...

Let's see. I think Mike was off enjoying some beautiful views A.L.O.N.E.

Mike soon returned, as did Megan with the bad news there was no ice cream to be consumed, and everyone was mildly disappointed my promise of ice cream would not be fulfilled. Except for Drew, all he cared about was the telescope he so desperately wanted.

In a very weak parenting moment, and throwing all sane parenting lessons of entitlement and giving-into-tantrums out the window, I pulled that brown paper shop bag out of my purse turned around to Drew, shoved the bag against his chest and said, "Here! Have a telescope!"

I turned back around and began marching towards the car. Much to my dismay, I knew full well I had a 6 person entourage following me. Which really, what did you expect them to do? No words were needed, but my body language had just announced, "Our time at the Grand Canyon is over."

For about 15 seconds I heard no sound from Drew behind me and began silently praying thanks that toy telescope manufacturers exist in this world. Before my toy manufacture prayer of gratitude was over, without having to turn around, I heard Drew's silence stop and the tantrum start again, this time more passionately than before. Mike--the sane parent among us, was not going to reward Drew's behavior, and took away the desired telescope from Drew almost as quickly as I had handed it to him. In my heart I knew I should be thankful for a good, sane, deliberate co-parent, but all I could wish for in that moment, was why couldn't Mike make a bad parenting choice with me and shut our child up by giving him the damn telescope!

(Disclaimer: Drew is soooo not typically like this. I'm not sure what had gotten into him!?! Too many late nights? Too many hours on the road?) 

We loaded into the car, with a couple of brave children courageous enough to speak say, "Is there a chance we could eat before we begin the long drive again?" We pulled over to a nearby picnic area, pulled out our trusty cooler and sat in one of the most beautiful places we have ever "picnicked". Yet no one really spoke, no one enjoyed themselves, and no one basked in the beauty of our location.  
If you look at nothing else but where Megan chose to sit, you'll see why this photo speaks a thousand words.

Although I have chosen to share only the "negative parts" of our trip to the Grand Canyon, I know from hearing children speak of it since returning, that it remains one of their top highlights of our recent trip. We made some wonderful memories and had a fabulous time together, but the fact remains, I want to be able to remember the realness of our time together too. I don't want to look back and think traveling with five children in a car for hours was easy and blissful. It isn't and wasn't, but it is the difficult parenting moments, that make the good moments so much better.

The Grand Canyon was beautiful! I wish I could have spent more time in such a wonderful place. I wish I could have sat in a chair overlooking the canyon for hours with a journal in my hand, recording all of my thoughts and feelings. One day Mike and I will return to the Grand Canyon sans children.
(I had no idea Mike took this photo, until I saw it on my computer! Very fitting.)

Our journey home, took us via the Pipe Springs National Monument in Arizona. It was very, very hot, but a nice step back in time to the history of the American Indians and Mormon Pioneers trying to negotiate land, water and rights.

Hours after our ice cream search at the Grand Canyon, we rewarded our children with ice cream at a Indian Reservation gas station before beginning the long drive straight home. If you don't count the few times Joshua had to stop and pee, our non-fast visit to a fast food restaurant, we made it home with relatively few detours and stops.

It was a grand adventure I'm not sure we'll repeat anytime soon.

"Sometimes we become so focused on the finish line that we fail to find joy in the journey."
~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Joy (?) in the Journey

I don't enjoy road trips. They give me anxiety (real anxiety, not traveling with 5 children induced anxiety). However, I have to say, that I did very well on our recent trip to and from our family reunion in Flagstaff, AZ.

(Okay, if you forget the part on the way down that I yelled at Mike and he snapped back, "I think you're overdue for another dose of your travel medicine." Point well taken.)

Although driving to Flagstaff is absolutely do-able in a day, Mike and I decided to emphasize "joy in the journey" instead of "joy in a final destination", and we split the drive up. On the way down to Flagstaff, we stopped over-night in Kanab, UT. It's a charming little town, and I love the Holiday Inn hotel there. After a take-out dinner from the local Pizza Hut, some of the children and Mike swam. At one point, Mike and I left the hotel room with 5 fighting children and escaped downstairs to a lounge. We were fairly certain at one point that the sounds above us would get us removed from the hotel, but alas we stayed the night.

The bright spot of the hotel stay? Three queen beds in one hotel room!!!! Fabulous. Why don't more hotels have that option!?!

We left for Flagstaff the next morning with a stop at one of Mike's favorite places...Lake Powell.

We had anticipated grand tours of the Glen Canyon Dam, but only 2 tour spots were left, so we opted to do it upon our drive via again on Sunday afternoon. We enjoyed some snacks in the shade, beautiful views, but not each other. This was a tense time in our trip, but look how the photos (kind of) fool you all.

Our days in Flagstaff have already been recorded, so back on the road again for the ride home. Loading our car up at the hotel in Flagstaff was another tense time. I wondered why in the world I hadn't driven back to Phoenix with my Cousin Jennifer and caught a flight home from there instead of torture the car ride home. I wouldn't have done that to my dear Mike though, although he likely would have supported it. (He not only puts up with 5 children in the car, but a travel-anxiety wife too.)

(Ellie was with us, but I'm not that flexible to have secured a photo of her sleeping too!)

Mike was so proud of the miles per gallon he got our suburban up to a couple of times. I acted enthusiastic and excited for him, even though I really don't get too pumped about 13.7 mpg, 17.8 and no, not even 21.0. But I did secure a few "proof" photos for him of his proud suburban-owner moment.

As we drove through the Indian Reservation filled areas of Arizona, Mike and I got carried away in a conversation about Native Americans. Realizing I have never had those basic US History classes that he (and my children) had/have, Mike gave me some Indian history lessons. I fell in love with some of the history I heard, and upon arrival at the Glen Canyon Dam visitor's center a few hours later, bought myself a book I am thoroughly enjoying.

 Upon arrival at the Dam, we were all in need of some food, leg room, and bathroom. I went and secured tickets for the 3:30pm Dam Tour, declining to join  (due to aforementioned "needs") the 3:00pm one  that was being led away. At 3:20pm, we arrived at our Dam Tour meeting place, only to be told that essentially we were part of history at the Dam... Due to extreme temperatures, for the first time ever, the tour was being cancelled. I am NOT a tour type person, but Mike is, and he and the older two children were very, very disappointed. I was disappointed for them, and then disappointed for myself that if we hadn't have been so excited about getting to the DAM tour, we could have taken a different route home via the Grand Canyon instead.

We loaded disappointed and heavy-hearted children back into the suburban, and continued our journey home, via another night in Kanab.

Now, I have to interrupt myself to mention a little fact about (road) traveling with Mike...He isn't much about junk food and snacks....for the children. While he is up front chowing down Hot Tamales and guzzling Mountain Dew, the cooler offered grapes, apple slices, carrots, string cheese, etc. for the children. (I exxagerate slightly...they did have the occasional permission granted to also partake of some Hot Tamales.) Anyway, it turned into somewhat of a (not funny) joke that upon someone mentioning they were hungry for an actual meal, Mike would tell them there were plenty of snacks in the cooler. Luke especially tired of this overheard line, and complained and moaned the loudest about how desperately he needed a "real meal."

Our arrival in Kanab didn't come any too soon, and we rolled into that small town on Sunday evening hungry, tired and a little weary. We entered and exited the McDonalds in a single step (most disgusting, gross, dirty, fast food place I have ever seen!), and found ourselves at a charming little diner. We ordered a few plates for us to share, with the exception of Luke who was granted his own $8.95 hamburger. I know it's a blurry photo, but for the sake of what will always be a Sowby Family Trip Memory, we must preserve the remembrance of Luke not having a bite of his $8.95 hamburger. Instead he visited that little diner's restroom more times than he would have liked. We'll preserve Luke's dignity from here on out, but that $8.95 REAL MEAL he was finally granted ended up in a hotel garbage can the next morning.
Mike and I broke all our own rules of not swimming on the Sabbath day, and allowed the children that wanted to, to swim at the pool on Sunday night.
At the risk of losing our parenting license, I will refrain from sharing the story about Mike and me laying on the hotel bed. Him watching television, me reading, Megan in the joining room watching a different television. All of the sudden the hotel fire alarm rings. I went into a momentary state of panic that we are separated from our children and grabbed my purse and we headed out to the halls to evacuate with the other hotel guests. We saw Luke from a distance, and I relaxed slightly at the sight of him, and then tensed up to my maximum state when his response about the other three children was, "Oh, I don't know, I left them at the pool."

That night wasn't exactly one of the most stellar parenting nights in our experience. But we all lived to tell the tale, and I'm sure the hotel guest that put birthday candles on a birthday cake won't do it again anytime soon.

Wow! This post is long, and I've changed my mind about adding to it. Besides, the detour we took to the Grand Canyon the next morning complete with my mini-temper tantrum as I shoved a telescope against Drew's chest and marched off to the car, deserves a post of its own. Forget the grandeur of nature, and the beauty of the canyon, that little "telescope moment" remains the highlight of Mike's visit to the Grand Canyon a couple of weeks ago.

I promise.


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