Monday, October 31, 2011

My Hero-Pet Shop Edition

Ella likes those Littlest Pet Shop things. She loves them. Almost every bath time Ella dumps the entire bucket in with her. (the other times- she fills her bath with dollies and mermaids)





































Ella also really likes it when someone is willing to sit on the floor in a heap of Pet Shops and play with her. My method of doing this is to lay on my side, hold the Pet Shop in a floppy hand and mumble minimal responses with my eyes mostly shut. Sometimes Ella screams, "stop sleeping!" and then I mumble "I'm not, I'm just resting my eyes." I say that because that's what my Mother said to me. Mother of the Year, I know.

Scott on the other hand is a Pet Shop pro. He names them, he comes up with riveting story lines, he uses the bucket as a "house", he gets into it and most importantly, he doesn't fall asleep in the middle of Ella's questions like, "Hi I'm monkey, want to be friends?"

So the other morning Scott was working on clearing our slow draining bath tub, when I heard him shouting my name. I ran in there to find him standing in the shower holding up this.....




























We busted up laughing.

Then I carried it around the house to show all the kids. None of them needed an explanation at all, to find the, slimy-hair strangled pet shop, just as hilarious as I did.

But the best part.

Just as I was bolting from the bathroom-slime covered-hair-petshop-nuse, in hand, Scott yelled out, "save that little pet, it's Ella's baby piggy!"

My hero.

Ella's too.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Feet First

This morning Scott got up at 5am to shower and head out. I always wake up when he gets out of bed and today, I just couldn't go back to sleep. All the stresses of the upcoming weekend were chasing away my ability to rest.

I was stressed about a return I need to make before Halloween,(not going to make it). I was stressed about cotton candy (we have to make more than I ever have before this weekend). I was stressed about all the bits and pieces of costumes, I was stressed about the 7 events going on this Saturday and how I cant possibly make it to all of them and I was stressed about Kaden's English grade that was a 98 on Wednesday and a 76 on Thursday (what the heck!?).

I knew all of this before I went to bed last night but my brain was fried and it all didn't seem to matter as much as it does now. I don't get that. But, since this is where I write, record and remember the "good stuff" I have to say that last night before bed, I had the best time with my older 3.

We had gathered on the couch to read scriptures together and I only got through about 3 verses when one of the kids asked an unrelated but important question, so I set down the book to answer. this led on to one of the funnest conversations I have had lately with them. We laughed, we discussed, we learned.

My legs were stretched out and my feet were up on the coffee table. (Which we like to call the scripture table because we don't drink coffee of course) Kaden's feet were next to mine and I pushed our feet together and pointed out that he is only a centimeter away from catching me. Then I took the pen I was holding and scribbled a note on the top of his foot, then Brylee's, then Branson's. After that, Kaden wrote a reply on mine.























It was a simple, tender mercy that I needed. And it may have been the first time that I didn't really mind the random question thing, in the middle of scriptures.

Now, I will take that faded note on the top of my foot and face the stress.

Feet first.

(I know Kaden has dirt under his toenail and my polish is as old as the hills....dont judge)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Opinions Needed

Ella and I spent one whole hour last night raiding the costume buckets. She tried on everything that was even remotely near her size. (multiple times, I might add) Anna suggested I take her picture and let her see, so now we just need to choose.

We might need to hold a televised debate, run t.v. ads, send out a few mailers and put up some giant campaign posters on the side of the road to come up with a fair winner.

The Red Robin...




























The Dancer...



























The Puppy



























The Witch...



























The Cheerleader...




























Supergirl...



























The Blue Fairy...




























Dumbo...





























So go ahead, this is a democracy, cast your vote in this serious matter and let your voice be heard!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Toe Popping Good

Another weekend highlight for me was Saturday evening. Kaden had a football game and my parents came out to watch him. I was so excited when my mom phoned and told me that she and my Dad would be there. It is so rare almost non-existent to have both my parents to myself. They have ten children and 15 grandchildren so you get the idea.

Scott was the only coach at the game so my parents and I pitched our lawn chairs near the end zone and I let the other three kids run off to play. My parents passed Cali back and forth and I watched my dad pull gently on Cali's little baby toes. My Dad is not a hugger Dad or a kisser Dad or a hand holder Dad or a put his arm around your shoulder, Dad or a "I love you" Dad.

He's a toe popper Dad.






















With every gentle tug on her toes I could feel him saying, "I sure love you little Cali" and consequently Cali's Mom felt loved too.


After the game which they lost, (again), we had dinner at Denny's, kids eat free on Saturday nights and the place is usually near empty. My kids all crowded in to get a seat by my Dad. He kept them entertained with picture riddles scribbled on their menus with crayon and by the end, the kids were laughing so hard a few of them nearly lost their free pancakes.

It was a noisy, messy, bathroom break filled meal but I had so much fun. The kids had so much fun. And I am pretty sure Mom and Dad had fun too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

So Can I

I have so much to record. I wanted to do it yesterday but really, you should have seen the size of my laundry pile. I was doing laundry from the wee hours of the morning until after 10pm last night. The laundry combined with the thrust back into school made for some seriously sour attitudes, (mostly mine) and one epic fight between my boys. That one breaks my small heart. Those two get along great but when they don't, watch out.

Monday was so full of contention (and laundry) around here that after I stayed up too late folding and hanging, I stayed up reading my new, "Daughters in my Kingdom" book, searching for answers. It is an amazing book packed full of inspiration and guidance from women who have gone before.

They did hard things, those girls.

But despite the yukkyness of yesterday we had a wonderful, awesome weekend. We spent Friday up at one of my favorite Arizona spots on the lake. It was a piece of Heaven, I tell you. The weather was amazing and Scott was able to work a half day and come with us.



























The kids spent most of the day cruising around on their own, in the paddle boat. They must have felt like Christopher Columbus looking out into the big lake, that from small eyes is as big as the ocean. The only "parental stipulation" we gave them was to wear life jackets and stay inside the buoy. There was adventure to be had and they did. They laid on their bellies in the mud, they splashed in the water, they built sand castles and they shot bow and arrows like Robin Hood himself.






















We saw a bald eagle that I was super excited about and Kaden stepped on a jumping cactus while out on an excursion to one of the banks. He came back and told me he had used a scout knot to hold the boat in place while he tried to pick the barbs out of his foot. I liked that, cause really, how many times does a kid get to actually use a scout knot and feel like a real life, Bear Grills.

Our friends left a bit early but we stayed late into the night. We put everyone on the paddle boat while the sun went down and I had quite possibly one of my happiest moments ever, there on the lake with my family.





















But this moment was pretty good too.






















Scott and I cleaned up and packed up in the pitch black dark and came within 5 feet of getting sprayed by a skunk. That would have stunk, to put it mildly.





















The next day we sat together and watched our kids sing in the Primary Program. Be still my heart, I love the primary program.

Later that night thanks to a double booking that the bishop had, Scott and I were able to attend a fireside that one of my heroes spoke at. Sister Julie B. Beck.
 









I felt like Mary, siting at the knees of the Savior trying to soak up every bit of knowledge and inspiration available. She is amazing, a true disciple of the Lord and I was so very thankful to have been there.

Little did I know how trying the next day would be. It was a hard one, full of contention, like I said. One of my kids had a complete meltdown and there were a few other things that all added up to a very trying day for me. When Scott finally got home at 8pm, I was still in the kitchen, still directing homework and still cleaning up, with a baby on my hip. I looked at Scott completely spent and exasperated and said,

"I feel like I am rowing a boat, while someone stands at the bow pushing me backward, like I am hiking up the mountain against a strong wind"

Over dramatic, maybe, but I was feeling weighed down, lost, forgotten and most of all like a failure to my family. I had not handled the days stresses well, to say the least.

This morning I picked up my, "Daughters in my Kingdom" book again and read this from President Heber J. Grant:

"I believe when we determine within our hearts that by and with the blessings of God we will accomplish a certain labor; God gives us the ability to accomplish that labor- but when we lay down, when we become discouraged, when we look at the top of the mountain and say it is impossible to climb to the summit, while we never make an effort-it will never be accomplished."

I missed the mark yesterday. I became discouraged and thought that for sure, the summit could not be reached. But today is a new day and I think I will take those sweet lakeside memories, those inspired words from an inspired woman and borrow some faith from those amazing women from my book and do better.






















They did hard things, those girls.

So can I.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Good Stuff

Yesterday I was awakened by my little Ella. She crawled in bed next to me in the early morning hours and found the spot closest to my side to squish herself.  I just laid there feeling the soft, plump skin on her face, thinking I must be the luckiest lady in the world to have this little beauty as my alarm clock.
After my shower I headed for the kitchen surprised at how quiet the house still was. The boys were both sprawled out on the couch and I watched them while they started to stir and blink open their sleepy eyes. I leaned over Branson, kissed his cheek and whispered a few secrets into his ear.

I sat next to Kaden and rubbed his bare back and shoulders while he stretched. When I went back into my room again, Brylee had wondered in and climbed in under my covers. I climbed in with her and wrapped my arms around her middle. She reached back for me and with her eyes still closed she whispered, "love you Mom."

Cali was babbling in the room next door, so I went in to enjoy my favorite part of the day with her. The morning time when the babies cheeks are still warm, when their face lights up when they see you come in, when they are still jamied and blerry eyed, when their little wisps of hair are poking out all crazy, is the best moment of the entire day. I love that. I sang her my made up "are you awake, birthday cake" song that seems to come out a little different each time and I scooped her up to take her over for our morning rocking chair feast.

The morning was good. Of course the chaos of the day came rushing in moments later, the peace never lasts long-but man, I love slow mornings when there is no rush to do anything but hug and snuggle and look into the smashed face, bed hair-eyes of my 5. Most days we are in a rush and instead of waking the kids up with a hug, I turn on the lights and shout, "time to get up, breakfast is ready." But not today, today I was there, feeling their hearts beat against mine, listening to them, loving them, enjoying this one morning while they are still all mine.

Later we went to my Mom's to visit and Branson and Ella and I spent a good hour laying on our backs on the trampoline. The sky was a crystal blue with out even so much as a speck of cloud. We played the listening game where you close your eyes and be perfectly still and just listen. I told them to say out loud the sounds they heard. In a few seconds Branson said, "airplane" then I said, "birds" then Ella said, "wolfez". And then we busted up laughing.

After that we spent the afternoon swimming at my aunts house. The kids played so happy and good together and spent most of the time building something-or-other on the waterfall with all the pool toys. My cousin Collin kept Ella entertained...





(this is the face Kaden makes every time I take pictures latley, after he saw it he said, "I look dumb", thats what you get kid, thats what you get!)


and I got to catch up with my Mom, my aunt and my cousin. It was a great way to spend the afternoon. We stopped for slushies on the way home and then I had a good phone discussion with my brother Josh. He's such a good new daddy and I could feel his love for his new little "Pepper Jack" while we talked.

After that, Anna and I took our places on the sidewalk, holding our babies while we shouted, "car!" every five minutes while our pack of kids rode bikes. We also finalized our lake plans for today and I am so thankful for such a fabulous neighbor.

I am also so thankful for October break that gave me my kids back for a few days. My house may be a disaster and my laundry may be piled up but it can wait a few more days, while I finish playing.


























Am I right or am I right?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I am a Visionary

So far we have had a good, relaxing-get the house as messy as humanly possible-October break. We kicked it off Sunday with a Carmel apple making session.

So, you know when you have lovely visions of a beautiful family activity, wherin you are wearing a cute motherly apron, your hair is swept back in a lose ponytail, you are speaking in your best sweet voice and your children are giggling, enjoying and getting along like the Duggar kids, all the while making a heavenly childhood memory of a quiet Sunday evening full of family togetherness and bliss.

Well that was the exact vision I had on Saturday night while I picked out granny smith apples from the produce section, found Popsicle sticks in the craft isle and the melting Carmel in the seasonal baking goods.

But no, that is not quite how it went down. I mean, I really will have to stretch up high on my tippytoes to see the good in this one. First of all, Branson was mad as a hornet over some injustice from earlier. Then the little boogers would not listen to my instructions and things started to get frantic. Then Kaden complained that the chocolate layer was white and not brown and by the end, the kids had smeared so much melted chocolate on their faces that I scooted them all outside and made them wash off in the hose.





























Oh yes I did.

So family bliss, no-but a memory for the kids...? Yeah I guess, whatever.

Monday was better. Friends galore, Popsicle stick houses, a raft built by me and Branson and a lot of mousetrap.

Then today we had a blast at open gym.





































And we had a good laugh at these pictures of Cali stuffed inside a pumpkin.






























She was a good sport, bless her heart. We still have some good plans left for the rest of the week and you better believe I still have visions. Good ones, where the kids are happy and cooperative and thrilled that they get to spend the week together. Little cheeks getting sun kissed and mud getting squished between bare toes plus make believe and hours of outside play.

The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps -
we must step up the stairs. ~Vance Havner


Even if sometimes we fall right back down them with nothing to show for the effort, except a kitchen covered in melted carmel.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Worth It

Yesterday was like this....
Sometime super early, before anyone should ever be up on a Saturday, Scott and Kaden left for football. In the effort to get out the door, all the other children were awakened.

I started in with the breakfast, the dressing, the cleaning. Scott and Kaden came in, had their food- then Scott showered and put on his suit. By 10:00 he was off to go conduct at baptisms. I was left with a house full of chaos. Branson wanted to do an"experiment" of course. Kaden wanted on the computer. (I always stall on this one, even when he has rightfully earned some time.) Brylee already had friends coming in and out and I still had breakfast to clean up. I couldn't get to it because Branson was in constant need of help with his "experiment".

(Mom, I need a knife, mom I need wool, do we have wool? Mom, I need sand- can I dig a hole in the yard?)

I grabbed the phone and suggested that Branson call up his friend from school and invite him over for the day. In 20 minutes said friend was on our doorstep and Branson was, at last, occupied. The girls had gone across the street to play and I got busy. I cleaned and showered and folded. I finished just in time to have the group of friends come back our way, and pull out Mouse Trap, nail polish and the coloring stuff. Branson and his friend had decided to wash the car, so the hose, the washcloths and the buckets had been strewn out across the front, along with the usual mix of bikes, helmets, ramps and skateboards.

I followed Cali around feeding her and saving her life every few seconds then Scott came home and loaded up Branson and his friend to go to Costco. He called me half way through and said that, the friend was lost. I spent the next ten minutes picturing myself calling his mother to report that we had lost her kid. The kid was found, they had a "feast" of Costco samples, as Branson reported and by the time they arrived back with a truck full of goods, a huge pack of kids had convened in the t.v. room. Every game in my game cupboard was out, along with piles of candy that the neighbor kids had brought over. Scott and I stepped over the stuff and the people while we put away the groceries.

In the meantime of all this- Ella had gone back to the neighbors house and my neighbor Anna sent me this...




























with the message..Nail polish face paint.

Fun.

At 5 we sent all the friends, except Bransons home and we all loaded up and went to Kaden's football game. We had 6 kids, all the football stuff, one stroller, one baby dolly, 2 bikes and the red car.

Now, Kaden's poor football team has lost every single game this season. Every single one. But last night, the clouds of defeat parted and the heavenly choirs of victory- sang down upon them and they won! Kaden scored 3 touchdowns and had an interception. Boy, did he need that. And I did too, it was so fun to watch.




























Straight from the football game, Scott took the 3 big kids plus the friend to our neighbors haunted house and I drove Cali and Ella through a drive threw- because it was 7:30 and no one had eaten. When I got home the- haunted house kids, were in the street having a water fight with all the neighbors and it took me 20 minutes to round up my kids and get them all inside. Branson's friend was picked up and the kids were busy pigging out on the drive-threw fodder. I put the baby to bed and Scott and I were just about to leave, to run one last errand when Brylee started to cry.

Her stomach was hurting and a few minutes later she got up from the couch and barfed all over the kitchen.

NEVER in all my days have I seen so much vomit. I will give a graphic and grotesque description of the scene.

The girl had just eaten a full apple from the apple bopping contest at the haunted house. Then she ate an entire Arby's roast beef sandwich. Are you following? This was the context of what came splattering out all over the kitchen floor and filled the sink. It took me a half hour on my knees, with the assistance of Scott, who was standing by, holding a garbage bag open, to clean up the mess. I am telling you, the lower cupboards had to be scrubbed because of the far reaching magnificence, of the projection.

Have mercy on my soul. It was bad.

A full roll of paper towels, half a bottle of disinfectant and a kitchen trash bag later and the place was fit for human life again.

Still, Scott and I headed to the store, got what we needed, tucked all the sleeping kids in and collapsed.

We were both up again by 5:30. Scott has early meetings and it just takes me an awful long time to get the 6 of us ready to be at church by 8am. I was so dang tired.

But.

Tomorrow starts October break. I am thrilled. A lot of our friends are back in school this week which means there is a chance my kids will be forced into spending at least some of their days off, with me and I plan to make the most of it. Bike rides, park visits, crafts and cooking days.  Hopefully, we'll make it to the lake to dig for worms and tadpoles and up to my aunts to go swimming. Maybe we'll hit a Pumpkin Patch and if the weather lets us- we'll hike. (Oh glory be-please let us hike)  Of course we'll get up when we feel like it, (which if left to the kids might be 6am) and we'll stay up late. The best, most fantastic part of October break is that we'll have NO HOMEWORK. That's right, NO HOMEWORK, which I swear is the root of all evil. Can't stand the stuff.

And I will still be so dang tired.

But that's ok because I'll have my kiddos home and that is a tired- that is always worth it.





























Huge piles of splattered barf and all.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Defining the Gray Space

I am learning something new as a Mother. I am learning that there is this weird space between teenager and kid, that has no definition and no rhyme or reason. It's a gray area. It's a space in the time of your kids life, that you as a Mom are not really sure what to do with. One minute, I look at Kaden and see my little toe headed baby. The next, I see armpit hair and a jaw line. One day he is building a lego man the next he's writing a paper on the Mesopotamian Hebrews. I find myself feeling thrilled one minute at the new things he is learning, doing and experiencing and horrified the next, by his growing up.
This weird space, it's called twelve.

He's almost there. I can hardly believe it. And lately, Kaden, is all I think about.

I wonder what he's not telling me about school, about friends, about (deep breath)... girls. Does he think about them, does he talk to them, does he even care? I worry about his grades, his uncanny ability to let his brilliant mind wonder into a million far off places, I worry about his sports, his scouts and his clothes, that he is constantly growing out of.

Last Saturday night, Scott and I stayed up late into the night, having a very grown-up discussion with Kaden. I could see that Scott's tender words and even a few of mine were being directed and given to us from Heaven. Whispered into our ears just when we needed them. It was a hard talk for me to have with my first little baby,  but it was so good. We finished with a prayer, I held kaden's hand on his right and Scott held his shoulder from the left. It was a Kaden sandwich. I only wish that I could have him sandwiched like that, all of the time.

But I cant.

Except today.

I kept him home- a little hookie never killed anyone and I needed him to myself for a change. Today- it was my turn to be the "peer pressure". It was my turn to be the teacher, it was my turn to be the friend, sitting across from him at the lunch table. Today, it was my turn to be the coach, the scout leader, the bus driver. Today he was all mine and I was all his. Today, I am made the gray area a little more full of color.

He may be stuck for now in this strange space of-not a kid, not a teenager- and I may not have all the cures for things that I used to, but I do have a heart that is bursting full of devotion for this handsome kid and if there is anything I know how to do, it's love. We stopped by school to turn in two papers then we picked up some Jamba-juice a, "Mom and Kaden tradition." After that we had lunch and then we browsed at Kaden's favorite browsing place...The book store.



He was looking at a palm reading book




























I though the book he picked was highly ironic...


We better get started.



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Life Saving by Grandma

I had the most beautiful morning. I got up super early so that I could be showered and ready before it was time to get everyone else up. After the school kids were dropped off, I packed up the little girls and took them over to grandmas house. After that, I drove straight into the heart of Mesa and picked up Scott's Grandma. She was wearing her white dress and was embarrassed that she still needed a few minutes to finish getting her "stockings" on. I sat in her familiar blue living room, while I waited and then we were off to the temple.

It's been awhile since I 've been able to be at the temple. I have a baby that feels she can only consume food if the food is being offered by her Mother. For everyone else she gags, screams and refuses to eat. So you can imagine that leaving her is not something I really do. But I was desperate. I miss the temple and I needed to go.

It was just a bonus that I got to go with Grandma. I had her all to myself for 2 whole hours. Grandma Mag has a knack for making me feel like I am a good mother, that my kids are absolute angels and that I am the single most talented writer on the planet. She always tells me something sweet that one of my kids said to her or a story about how she showed all her friends one of the things I have written.  I really cant say just how much I love her.



After our session we talked for a bit in the celestial room and then she asked me if I needed more time or if I was ready to go. I told her I was ready but what I really wanted to do, was rest my head on her shoulder and stay right there talking in hushed whispers for the rest of the day.

I took her home and walked her up to the door, she gave me a hug and when I drove away, I thought that I must be doing alright, certainly if Grandma Mag thinks so, then it must be true.

It was a good thing that the morning was so peaceful and calming because it just may have saved the lives of my older three, who did this to the bathroom....
























It's whip cream and strawberries....in case you were wondering.