Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gangs Back Together

How's that face for an opener?

Cousins Kaitlyn, Brynn, Scott and Tyler are visiting from Alaska! We haven't seen this crew since Christmas time, so we were all pretty excited when Nana Marie invited us over to swim with them last week!
It made my heart happy to see the kids pick up where they left off. Brynn's attention was fixed on Forrest as she LOVES babies. Mia likewise loves him; which is a giant win for me! When those two are around, he is doted on. Henry's the lone boy ranger most of the time so it was especially great watching him play Ninja Spies with Scott later in the day. They had walkie talkies, spy clothes, code words, etc... I'm pleased to say, however, that Ninja dress ups aren't they only thing they'll wear. They are very open minded and imaginative.
 
These two love to make each other laugh! What better way than this? I'm jumping ahead. After swimming, we had the cousins over for pizza, train rides and play time with our bunnies. Cousin Sara especially loves our bunnies... like big time. She named one baby Taco. :)
Lottie and Tyler have been playing great together too. It's been fun to see this friendship grow.
Don't worry. Forrest had "companions" on the train ride too.
Later in the evening, the group split as Eliza and the older girls went to the Chamberlain's for a sleepover. Eliza loved staying up until, wait for it, midnight (I mean, can you even believe it! She stayed up sooooo late!!)! She was so excited to tell me about it. Breakfast included pancakes AND bacon. Lucky girl.

We ended up with Scott and Tyler at our house! While Andrew put the finishing touches on the tent situation, we had a dance party. Nothing fights a little homesickness like a dance party.

Sunday we celebrated this cute kid's birthday:
And a few days later, we did the nature walk by Nana Marie's house. It was a great little activity that involved much needed shade.
Lunchtime and popsicles at Nana's came next. It was a great day and we look forward to the fun days ahead. Am I right, Lottie?

"Right, Mom!"

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Saturday night musings

Summer love

(Written Saturday, June 20)

Thanks to the kindness of friends and family, our week was packed with trips to the swimming pool. With that being said, Sunday will soon be upon us and I find myself concerned about what my children will end up wearing  to church. You see, my laundry room has been overtaken by an endless pile of wet towels and bathing suits. When I consider how severely I have neglected the piles of play clothes, I'd say it's a small miracle that my kids were able to find a pair of clean underwear to put on after their evening shower. 

Another small miracle: I finally remembered to replenish our supply of swim diapers today. Those swim diapers were that one item on my grocery list that I kept forgetting. Up until today, I was finding leftover swim diapers in miscellaneous closets, in my (shockingly huge) pile of unmatched socks and other completely random locations. I kept getting lucky when I'd remember that I needed one for Forrest as I readied us for a trip to the pool. This week really gave me the practice I needed to perfect the art of hauling four kids to the pool. Maybe I'm a huge wimp, but I find the process a little overwhelming and sometimes struggle with saying "Yes, let's go!".

Don't be so surprised, but Andrew has been on the road for work again. I feel a mix of achievement and self pity as I consider the things I handle on my own. Please don't misinterpret that statement as discounting everything Andrew does for our family, but lately I feel that I am sailing this ship solo. I feel myself wearing thin (I wish that was a literal statement!) as an excess of impatience and discouragement sets in. In these moments, I recognize that I'm not being my best Mom self which makes me feel worse. As I continue to adjust to this new chapter in our life, I'm referring to Andrew's travel schedule, I am trying to simplify our schedule and carve out time to be an individual. Here's what makes me feel a little more sane.

1. Make sure we have family prayer and talk time with Andrew when he's out of town. The kids still like him to sing them a song when he's on the road. It's pretty sweet watching this happen.

2. Be content at home. It's okay if the kids aren't having play dates or outings everyday. I have a good friend whose family thrives on daily outings and I really understand why that time away from home strengthens and benefits them. For us, I do well when we have downtime. When I watch the kids play with one another; whether it's upstairs messing with legos, wreaking havoc in the basement or exploring in the backyard, I feel real satisfaction. There isn't constant harmony, but I really feel grateful for the occasional doses of peace and laughter. For example, my kitchen turned into a train depot this week. I was happy to sacrifice that prime space as I watched that activity link the four kids together. Forrest was especially delighted to have the trains set up in that space.
 
3. When Andrew is home, be social. Go on a walk with a friend. Visit. Vent. Laugh. It's the best form of therapy. After a tough day, I received an invite to go to a late night movie (proving that I've hit old lady zone, I confess it was a 9:30 pm showing.) I was tempted to decline because I was so, so tired but I didn't. Thank goodness because I'm so glad I went. Andrew took care of bedtime and I escaped with my friends for a great night!
(And for the record, I'm the official DUFF of this group! Love them.)

4. Utilize babysitters and ask family for help. Thanks to Dave Ramsey, we have a cash envelope set aside to fund babysitters. I protect these funds as the extra help is both needed and appreciated when I find myself in a bind. The week of Lottie's dance recital, I found myself in such a place. With the neighbor girls on trek,I asked my Mom to watch my kids while I shuttled Lottie back and forth to a dance practice for her recital. I respect my Mom's free time. It wasn't an easy thing to do, even though she is awesome, but ended up asking her anyway. The prospect of taking all the kids to that particular event made me want to curl up into a ball and cry. Most of the time, I'll tackle the challenge. I signed up for these kids. I can do this, but that week I felt less than ambitious. It was my opportunity to film Lottie's performance and to do so without Forrest there, was so great. I'm so thankful that agreed to help me out. Thanks again, Mom.

Asking for help includes asking the kids.
 
5. Date night... make sure there's enough money in that envelope to cover date night. We cycle through phases where we are making each other a priority and other times when we are overcome by life's great distractions (read: kids). Date nights make us both happy and gives me something to look forward to on a mundane Tuesday.   

6. Count thy blessings. This is the most simple and probably the most important. Cherish my babies. Be grateful that I get to stay home and care for them (I am!). The days of fish cracker crumbs, smudged finger prints on glass and piles of sand being tracked into the kitchen are limited. They won't always want me the way do now and I'm pretty sure that will break my heart.  

Swimming pool snapshots:
Until next time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How much is that doggy in the window?

Kids are full of surprises; some are delightful and others are downright scary. Fortunately, Lottie surprised us with total commitment, enthusiasm and bravery at her dance recital. Having recently watched her sob her way through the Mothers day songs when our Primary sang in Sacrament meeting to crying at the beginning of her preschool program, I was nervous as I wondered how she'd handle the giant stage, large crowd and bright lights associated with her upcoming performance.
Something clicked, it must have, during the preschool program because she was a different child. Maybe there was something special in those tap shoes of hers because she handled her practices well and was darling to watch during her performance. It made my heart sing watching her on stage.
I only took 100 million photos to document the occasion.
There were nine dancers who performed in this same dance number, but these are the girls that she practiced with each week. She did both tumbling and tap dance this year. U
Papa and Nana Marie were so kind to come and cheer her on. Watching them react to her on stage was almost as fun as watching her perform. It made her feel very special.
The best part of that poofy skirt was when she'd turn to the side, wiggle her hips while singing the words:
"The one with the waggily tail..."
Lottie loved wearing make-up. 
She thought that primping process was very fun. 
The puppy is also hers to keep.
Too cute, Miss Lottie.
Untili next year.