Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Jumping out of June

And just like that, June has come to a close. The mood at our has mostly been calm (that's a polished way of saying that we have been laaaazy.) Having made it through girl's camp, I feel like I'm slowly exhaling. Aside from Lottie's swim lessons, yw activities, Eliza's sewing and Henry's scouting activities, we don't have much going on and I LOVE it. When I see a blank day on my calendar, I smile. When I see multiple days in a row that are blank, I feel real joy! That's not to say we sit at home and do nothing, although sometimes this is what I need and crave; but I view those days as an empty canvas. I am free to design our day around our mood and indulge in a little spontaneity. Truth be told, I have been trying to cram in as much fun as possible. When it comes to reading, chores and all the other things responsible parents incorporate into their summer, I am failing. Maybe for July I will be better; but after many months of schedule following, appointment keeping, homework doing and all that other "important" stuff... I am allowing us to rebel a little. And it's been so nice. 

Karma, or whoever pulls the strings, found out about all the fun we've been having so when it came time for us to help clean the church; our family ended up being the only people who showed up; along with one other person. Two and half hours later... we were done and out the door. Lottie's job, and she really was so helpful, was to keep Forrest occupied in the nursery. Henry and Eliza proved themselves to be great helpers. I really appreciated their (mostly) good attitudes. 
There is no rhyme or reason to the pictures today. Mostly, I'm playing catch up.

I don't know why it still surprises me that whenever I ask Andrew to get Forrest ready for church, that he ends up wearing his lederhosen. I am not complaining because I think it's my most favorite thing in the world. Maybe I am exaggerating... then again, maybe I'm not. That little junge is adorable!

Long story short, Lottie was the only one who made it into swimming lessons. Aside from Forrest, she needed it the most so I'm grateful it worked out. Prior to her lessons, she was so nervous to put her face in the water. By day 2, she was doing this...
Recently we were reunited with Mark and Jen's family. They are here visiting from Alaska. It's always a treat when they are here. Henry, who is usually outnumbered by girls, is especially happy to have Scott and Tyler here to play with. We first caught up with them at Nana Marie's swimming pool. We had a pizza party that night as we celebrated Tyler's seventh birthday!

That day we pulled a "summer double feature" which means we were crazy and participated in two super fun activities. I use the word crazy because it mostly is. Kids need to relax and replenish their energy (read: Mom needs a nap!) or else things can quickly fall apart. Before meeting up for Tyler's party, we were invited by our friends to one of the neatest parties ever.

Check that slide out!

The cute Campbell twins had a birthday and we were lucky enough to be invited. The kids could have stayed all day. The endless supply of shaved ice, popcorn and cotton candy kept them going!

Forrest was clever as he found the most perfect place to put his shaved ice. 
Our parties aren't as cool as that, but we have really enjoyed outdoor movie nights. The movie screen and projector were loaned to us by kind friends and have inspired us to look into getting one of our own. I hope it happens sooner than later. We recently gathered to watch Zootopia with the Barretts, our neighbor Trish and the Whitesides who were here visiting from Grenada; where their Dad Josh is going to medical school.
Andrew was really torn that night. He had assumed that we'd be quietly watching the movie along with the kids. So when the adults continued to visit, he reluctantly left his viewing chair and joined in the conversation. Poor guy. He was really looking forward to watching the show. :)
Speaking of that cute Dad of ours, he really is the best. We recently celebrated him on Father's day. He is so devoted to our family. He loves our kids and wants to be with them when he has downtime. Henry especially loves one on one time. The other day, Andrew took Henry and Lottie fishing. Henry did his best to talk Lottie out of coming as he wanted Dad all to himself. Lottie still makes Andrew's eyes twinkle. She still has him tightly wrapped around her finger. Forrest is his shadow. Seeing them mow the lawn together, as an example, is so great. Parenting Eliza probably makes him most nervous as we are entering uncharted territory with her. We are both super proud of who she is becoming but we catch glimpses of our future teenager which makes us a little sad and a little scared (excited too, though!).

His example and devotion to our family is a great blessing in our lives. We are so thankful for the opportunities and daily essentials that he selflessly provides for us. As a stake high councilor, he keeps very busy. The kids observe him and I think, respect the time he spends trying to fulfill his responsibilities... At least that's what I tell myself is happening on those Sundays that I'm taking care of family business solo. I'm grateful for his testimony and think it's neat that people in our stake are getting to know him better.
After dinner on Father's day, my parents came up to our home where we launched water bottle rockets (see video below). This activity is an accurate representation of the Dad that he is. Andrew is innovative and always looking for a clever way to make a memory with his kids. We are the luckiest.
As for me, I feel so very lucky to have Kenny Mays as my Dad. I sure love him. The desire to want to make him proud of me continues to burn bright. I said this on instagram, so pardon the repetition. My Dad is many things. He is brilliant, articulate, witty and fun to be around. He is a spiritual giant without being obnoxious. I hope that makes sense. He is a great companion to my Mom. He honors and loves her. Of all the things he is, the attribute I try to emulate most is his ability to make people feel good about themselves. With complete sincerity, he will share kind observations with others. He builds people up with his friendly manner, remembers details from their lives, ask about those things that matter most and listens. This is why his students and family love him so. When I die, I hope that I am remembered as being someone who built others up. I do my best not to say unkind things about others and try to be genuine in my interactions. I'll probably be remembered as being a little obnoxious as well. I'm working on that part; so I appreciate your patience as I try to progress.

Happy Father's day to the men in my life. Our Bubba is loved and adored by all those who live here too. He was off on a fancy adventure so we didn't have the chance to celebrate him in person. He is never far from my thoughts because most days, as I find myself admiring the Dad that Andrew is, I think of Doug. He modeled Fatherhood so well for Andrew. He is who we have to thank! (And Nanna Teresa too, of course!)

Speaking of modeling behavior... I hope these boys of ours pick up on all these great qualities. One thing is for sure though; that love of nature, dirt and all things gross is clearly being passed on. Thirty worms later... these two boys had quite the collection!

I don't think I've ever paid tribute to my Heavenly Father on a Father's day post in the past, but feel prompted so I'm going to continue to type. I am thankful to know that I have a Father in Heaven. I believe that I lived with Him before I was sent to Earth. I believe that He was deliberate in detailing the plans of my life. I believe that He is aware of me and my family. I watched Finding Dory today with my kids (spoiler alert... don't keep reading if you haven't seen it) and was so touched by the way Charlie and Jenny faithfully lined up sea shell after sea shell; creating paths that each led back to their home for Dory to find. They were devoted and tireless in their effort to bring their lost child home. 

Like Dory (this analogy is a stretch, I'm sorry!), I am lost and fallen. But I know that God is patiently waiting for me to make my return home to Him. He has laid out a path for me to follow. If I can maintain my focus and not to be influenced by the distractions of the world, it is my great hope that I will return home to Him. There will be challenges and heart ache along the way. But there are also friends, helpers and reminders to help keep me on track. Of all the helps, I am most grateful for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Without Him, in keeping with my Dory analogy, I'd forever be lost in a dark and lonely ocean. It is Christ who leads the way and lights the path. (Oh boy, I think it's bedtime...just keep typing, just keeping typing...) The organization of the family is divine. And I am eternally thankful that I get to make this journey with them at my side. I really am going to bed now! 

Family videos:

So Much Lagoon

Rainy and cold or hot and dry... we've experienced both this summer while playing at Lagoon. We've gone with cousins, grandparents, just our little family and even on a date with just Andrew and me. Twice now, I've gone with my cute friend Maren. In return, our husbands will be cashing in on some child-free fishing outings. No matter the scenario, Lagoon has proven to be a great place for making memories this summer. We've had a lot of laughs, thrills and have yet to lose any kids while there! 

It isn't all sunshine and roses. As the kids morph into Lagoon veterans, they have developed strong opinions on what ride we should be doing and when we should be doing it. Most of the time, their desires are different. When they whine or protest the plan, I feel tempted to pack up and leave. Lottie, in particular, can be quite dramatic. I'm embellishing a little, forgive me: 

"But Mom! I don't want to do that really fun ride that made me smile so big last time because I need to do that other really fun ride first!" You would think by the look on her face (the other kids do this at times too) that I was telling her that we we were going to the dentist to have a cavity filled.

"No Mom! Not Puff that Magic Dragon! He is the worst!" 

Are you kidding me? And then there is Eliza who has graduated from kid land and wants to dedicate each minute to roller coasters while I'm keen on enjoying a small slice of time where we are all together. Last week, she was given permission to do a few rides with an older cousin, unsupervised. They were so good to check in at our designated places and time. It was surreal and broke my heart a little bit to see her take another step, away from me, toward independence. You're right, dear reader, I have no idea where Lottie's dramatic nature comes from! (*sheepishly raising my hand*) 

 We don't usually schedule a time to leave but rather wait until one of the kids begins to unravel. They know that one person or an ugly sibling conflict can spoil it for the whole crew, so they try to be team players. Sometimes the exhaustion proves to be the most powerful of adversaries. Despite their efforts, they can't fight how tired they are and the emotions take over. Other nights, we find the right balance and happy rhythm which enables us to stay until closing. I feel a mixture of surprise and concern (read: regret?) when I find myself pulling into the driveway with a car full of sleeping kids at 10:30 pm. 

I have taken loads of pictures but  managed to narrow it down to a few favorites.  

Lagoon in the rain!
The rain didn't last too long. 
The crowd level was small. 
Memories from this night include 
Eliza offering Henry her pink jacket. 
He was so grateful for Eliza as he warmed up in it. 

Also, Eliza and I rode Cannibal as it was raining.
The raindrops stung our face as we rode the ride!
It was a very weird thing!

Date night with Andrew!

We don't usually ride the roller coasters together 
because one of us is with the smaller children in kiddie land; 
while the other is riding coasters with Eliza. 
This was our chance to laugh and scream and whine 
about how old we feel together. 
It was quite the bonding experience. 
Also, we usually nix the kid's requests for food and treats due to the high cost
and amount of kids we have. 
But on our date night, we went all out...
Dole whips and a funnel cake for the win!

Nothing is sweeter than having a child thrilled to be riding "Bulgy the Whale" 

Forrest at Lagoon is about the cutest thing in my world.
When the kids are getting along and enjoying a ride together,
I feel validated in our decision to buy season passes. 

We've been to Lagoon one time with my parents.
It was a night of surprises as my Mom opted to ride the Log Flume
followed by my Dad's stunning decision to ride Wicked with Eliza.
I don't know which of my parent's surprised me more.

Going with Maren was a blast.
She hadn't been to Lagoon in 12 years! 
Watching the nostalgia hit her was the best. 
I'm excited to go with her again (and again!).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dancing Queen

When it comes to blogging, narrowing a batch of 1,000+ pictures (sliiiight exaggeration) that relate to a particular post down to 20 is a difficult task. That process is even more challenging when the subject of your post is Lottie in her dance costumes.

The combination of poofy skirts, bright colored sequins, ridiculous sized hair bows and shiny black shoes is too much. She is so cute; I can hardly stand it. Still, I was diligent and tireless as I perused my camera roll in search of my absolute favorites.
Baby Take a Bow
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

My experience at last year's concert opened my eyes to what it means to be a dance Mom. Eliza danced when she was younger but I don't remember the practices being as involved as Lottie's. Fortunately for us, last year, she was among the youngest dancers on stage. After their practice, we were excused. It was clear, however, that some of the older dancers would be at these rehearsals for 5+ hours. Yikes! 

Being involved in two dances this year meant we'd be there a little longer. It wasn't terrible. We were  prepared. However, that first evening rehearsal came the night after I returned home from girl's camp. Andrew was out of town on business which meant that Lottie's entire support team, her siblings, had to come as well. I was pretty tired myself as I still hadn't caught up on sleep. I didn't intend to turn this into a sob story. So forgive me...what I'm trying to say is that the hassle of it all was made worth it in the two minutes she was up on that stage.

The video I'm sharing was recorded at her dress rehearsal. She had a small slip up that night, but during her performance, she nailed it. We were so proud of her.  

It was so fun that she was able to share the stage with one of her best friends, Millie. They weren't in the same class this year, but hopefully next fall they will be. Both of their classes learned the same dance numbers which is why they were able to perform together. 
She was pretty patient with all of my picture requests. Flegal children get used to that one real quick.
Lottie, you are a star! We sure love you!