Monday, November 21, 2016

Fall break 2016

Yikes! Thanksgiving is in a few days. It would make me happy if I finish blogging about Halloween before then. Before that happens, here's a look back at this year's fall break.

A favorite tradition of ours is going to Black Island Farms. My brilliant friend arranged a "field trip" for a group of our friends. The timing was great because I was able to check Eliza and Henry out of school a half hour early so they could come. In a few {short} years, I don't think visiting Black Island Farms will matter as much to my oldest so I really cherish activities like this that all four of the kids can enjoy together. We also loved spending time with some of the most darling little people we know! My friends have darling babies.

It was a beautiful day. Because we had so many small children, we were taken to a section of smaller sized pumpkins to choose from. I don't think the children minded.
I really like this picture. 
That ray of light shinning down on my kids makes me especially happy.

After finding our pumpkins and delivering them to the car,
we explored the rest of the farm.
The kids enjoyed the train, slides, pig races and other activities. 

Here's a video of our day:

The next day, we met a three of my friends from high school at the Dinosaur Park.
We underestimated how cold it was going to be so we ended up inside for awhile.
When it warmed up, we headed outside to play at the park, eat lunch and walk around the park. 

Forrest and Ada really hit it off. 
Ada's Mom, Laura, became one of my best friends in the 7th grade.
She was a bridesmaid at my wedding.
Laura and I plan to outlive our husbands and retire to the same nursing home.
Together we will spend our days visiting in our rocking chairs while we harass her cousin, Taylor.
It's going to be swell. 

After the Dino Park, our friends came back to our house where we enjoyed doughnuts and more visiting.

Fall break likewise translates to, "The Hunt" for Dad and Henry. 
I wasn't as emotional sending off Henry as I was last year. 
But I still had a little lump in my throat when they drove away.
Henry was so excited.
To contrast that emotion, Forrest was DEVASTATED when he realized where they were going without him.
It broke my heart. He was so sad to be left behind. 
We admittedly had a low key weekend back home but it was what I needed. 
I like having adventures but I definitely benefit from having time at home to catch up on ordinary tasks 
and to decompress. 

Lucky for Lottie and Forrest,
they have an older sister who knows how to put the "extra" into the "ordinary."
They were delighted when she decided that she was going to treat them to a tea party. 
These gestures make me most happy. 

As for the boys, they had a wonderful weekend with our Bubba at the cabin. Andrew was successful in his pursuit of a deer. Henry had another up close and personal anatomy lesson as they gutted it. He had some lovely splatters of blood on his coat when he got home. Oh, I am sorry. Did I just trigger your gag reflex? I apologize. If it makes you feel better, I triggered mine too. I didn't grow up in a hunting family so you could say I am still adapting. Andrew gave away much of his meat to families who were thankful to have it. He dehydrated and smoked much of what he brought home to our family. So yes, hunting served a valuable purpose. Andrew isn't one to hunt for sport, meaning he won't shoot and kill animals just for pleasure. But he does find satisfaction in "providing" for his family. Also, I know he loves the bonding time with his Dad and now Henry. In case you were wondering...

The kids had "spirit" week recently. Things got "crazy" on crazy hair day...
Just kidding.
Their hair looked pretty normal to me.
But it was Lottie's first time going to school with straight hair;
which seemed crazy to her. 
Pajama day and read-a-thon day

Next up, Halloween!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sunshine Lottie turns Six!

Dearest Lottie,

A few weeks ago, on October 18th to be exact, you turned six years old!! You were diligent in your daily request to hear how the countdown to your big day was progressing! It was hard not to smile whenever I'd catch a wave of your adorable anticipation. Whenever I would fuel your excitement, your big brown eyes would grow even bigger as a quiet squeal of delight would escape from your lips!


You have been on my mind so much lately. I feel like Kindergarten offers a parent the opportunity to see their child in a new light. These observations have come as I've spent time volunteering in your classroom, received your first report card and from the daily anecdotes you share about what made you happy or sad at school. You look forward to school every day. On Wednesday, you only attend school for two hours because it's half day. I know. Wednesday is kind of an odd choice for assigning an early day, but I am used to it now. It makes you sad because you don't get to go to recess on those early days. And man, you love recess.

You love to play on the monkey bars. It makes you so happy when you have my full attention while playing on them. You are well liked by your friends. The social challenges you face are different than Eliza and Henry. While I have worried about them feeling left out at recess for years, my concern with you is that you will be inclusive to other children as you seem to make friends easily. As I have heard reports from your teacher, as well as experiences straight from you, I am very proud of the friend you are to others. I hope that you will continue to reach out to those who are sad and will continue to invite people to play with you.

You are likewise enthusiastic about homework. The older kids are quick to remind us that your homework is "fun and easy." The often say how "lucky" you are when comparing their pile of homework with yours. Even so, I appreciate that you don't complain. Watching you learn to read has been one of the most satisfying and thrilling milestones for me to experience. Forgive me for being dramatic, but it's such a miracle to see it all come together. That's what I love about parenting. Even though I watched Eliza and Henry become great readers, it doesn't take away the joy I feel seeing you accomplish the same thing. And just so you know, I love spending that time with you.

You are a social butterfly. When it comes to requesting play dates, you are the most persistent and most determined of all my children. It is important to you to know what we are going to do each day. You used to phrase the question like this, "Mom, what's something fun that we are going to do today?" It doesn't matter if you had spent the previous day or hour with friends... you are always looking forward to your next social fix or adventure. You don't like to hear the word, "No." You have a fire and a fight in you that I admire. It also makes me laugh. I am sure that as this trait develops when you are a teenager, it will terrify me. For now, I get a kick out of your sassy nature (most of the time).

You still want to cuddle with me. Last Sunday at Church, you spent most of Sacrament meeting on my lap. I was having a hard day and it was therapeutic for me to simply hold you. I would give you a squeeze every now and then; just because. Thank you for loving on me.

Another special Lottie trait that amazes me is your MEMORY! When we can't find something, the joke/legit suggestion, is to "Ask Lottie." Eliza misplaced one of her shoes. She and I spent a good part of our morning looking for it before school today and were not successful. Just now, Eliza came down to resume her search. She said to me, "I had the thought to ask Lottie if she knew where it was and she said that she thought she had seen it in the downstairs closet (this is an obscure location, for sure)." SURE ENOUGH, Eliza found her missing shoe in that spot. I wish I had other specific examples to share, but believe me; it happens all the time. We are grateful for your crazy skill because it's both helpful and hilarious.

Every night I sing a song to you and your siblings individually before you go to bed. Usually, the requests change. For you, Lottie, you always want me to sing you the "sunshine song." This is our special song. At the end of the song, we change the words to, "Please don't take my Lottie/Mommy away..." I say, "Lottie." You say, "Mommy." As we sing, I play with your curls and stare at your sweet face. Your big brown eyes melt me. Daddy and I love your laugh, your sense of humor and sunshine personality.

Tonight was your night to say family prayer. I challenged you to think of three things to thank Heavenly Father for. You came up with a great big list. The last thing you thanked him for was our bookshelf. :) Another funny thing you said today was when Eliza walked out the door to go to her piano lesson.

"Eliza has left the building. I repeat: Eliza has left the building." I am not sure you where you picked up that one, but it made me laugh. A few weeks ago, I was grumpy. I was stewing about something in the kitchen. You leaned over to Dad and said to him, "Somebody needs a nap!" (meaning, Mom!)

One thing that scares me is that every now and then, you cry in your sleep. It is the most heartbreaking and pitiful of sounds. I climb up to your top bunk and try my best to console you. You are always crying for me. "Mom!! Mommy! Come back! I need you, Mom!" What's scary is that your eyes are open. You are looking at me. I am touching your face and holding you and singing to you and you don't see me. I hate it. It's so heartbreaking. I can't wake you up really either. In the morning, you have no memory of this. Thankfully, your crying wakes up Eliza so that you don't have to stay stuck in that nightmare by yourself. Usually, if I sing you a few primary songs, you settle down. Some nights it takes awhile though. I hope you grow out of this soon, for your sake, sweet girl.

Lottie, you are the sunshine of our home. You make us laugh all the time. I love that you still want to be by me so much. I hope I can show you everyday that I think you are so special. You deserve so much love and happiness. I forgot to mention, sorry, that you still love dance. Watching you tap dance is such a treat! Soccer is another one of your mad skills. Where did that coordination and aggression come from? You are so amazing to watch! You scored so many goals this past season. It was an exciting thing to see.

I LOVE YOU, darling Lottie; more than I can express.

As for what you did on your sixth birthday, here is a recap:

For breakfast you requested grits, hash and eggs. After that it was off to school. I came to the tail end of Kindergarten to watch you pass out your birthday treat and hear your teacher read the nice birthday wishes from your friends. After that, we picked up Forrest and went to lunch at McDonalds.

You were excited about playing in the play place. That afternoon a few friends came over for your birthday party. We went to Kangaroo Zoo and had the best time. I loved watching you enjoy your special day!

Your darling party guests:

The party room:

Your birthday presents:

And one more with a fun photo bomb from Henry:

Here's a video from her party:

Monday, November 7, 2016

Seasons Change

 Dear Mother's everywhere,

As your children grow up, they will become busy. An obvious side effect of their growing schedule is that the chaos of your life will likewise increase. To my peers who have children in junior high and high school, you might be giggling at my naivety as you are more aware of the obligations that await our family in a few more years. Even so, I have felt a permanent change of pace. When the shift began, I was in denial that we had hit a new "normal" at our house. I eased my concern by assuring myself that it was a phase.

"It won't last long... swim lessons will come and go. Then... things will return back to normal." Ha! Waiting in the wings was soccer season. After that, it would be Halloween time, end of quarter school projects, the next round of dentist appointments! And so on and so forth.

I am not complaining. Many of our "to-do's" are activities we signed up for. Not only that, we spend money to participate in said activities. It humorous, borderline ludicrous according to Andrew, that we pay money to increase the craziness of our lives! There are days when Andrew's dream of moving "off grid" and raising cows, or some other herd of smelly livestock, kind of appeals to me. Those moments are, however, fleeting; much to his dismay. Sorry, babe.

Our life is full. And as I scroll through my never ending camera roll, I see that it is full of good things. As I often justify to my friends, or anyone who happens to listen to me rant that day, I don't think that any of my children are over-scheduled. It just so happens that I have four kids who are each involved in worthwhile endeavors. But I repeat... I am not complaining. I just felt the need to acknowledge that we have stepped into a new chapter of our story. And it is exciting, fun, stressful at times, and tiring.

Today's photos illustrate some of the great outings that October afforded us. But first, I want to share evidence of my effort in making sure our family has downtime together. An example of this would be taking the time to go on a family bike ride. Feeling spontaneous, on this particular day, we walked over to the field that night and watched a team of older kids play competition level soccer.

New to the instagram world,
Eliza will often ask me to take photos of her. 
That's like offering me a donut.
I will never say "No" to either of those things.  

Trying to make the most of the mild Autumn weather, I am sending my kids to the backyard as often as possible to mess around in the sandbox, ride bikes and enjoy a few hours of unstructured, outdoor play. 

Be free, young Fleglets! 

Last week, Henry had a pile of homework waiting for him, but when two friends invited him over to play, I told him to go for it. Having added violin to his life, his free time is dwindling.

(Squeezing in violin practice, before heading off to soccer.)

If he didn't love violin, I would be concerned. So, I am trying to be especially thoughtful of him as I see his new obligations impacting him most.
Forrest playing "hide and seek" in the hamper 
and Lottie crawling into my bed wearing her Halloween costume,
are both "ordinary" moments that feel more special now
 as I've seen my bigger kids get bigger.
 It's the little things! Am I right? 

A few "noteworthy" outings included attending a field trip with Henry, going to the Treehouse Museum, attending Beauty and the Beast at Hale Theatre and making a return trip to Frightmares with the kids.  

Henry was so happy when I signed up to attend his field trip to the American West Heritage Center. He opted to ride with me and my friends instead of the bus. I loved that he wanted to be with me. We had a great time as we entered a Pioneer state of mind that day. He participated in different activities that helped demonstrate what life was like for our Pioneer ancestors.

Nanna Teresa was so kind to treat our family to see Beauty and the Beast. We love Hale theater so much. Beauty and the Beast was magical. It was fun to spend the morning at the show and then going to Nanna's house for crepes and cousin time. 
 It was also the beginning of Conference weekend. It was a cozy, happy set up. I love our family.

 The Tree house museum have a visiting exhibit called, 
"Step into China." 
They were kind enough to invite the families of the dual immersion schools to come for a free family night. 
It made me happy that it was an evening all four of the kids could enjoy together. 
I took many, many pictures. 
I make no apologies. 
This isn't instagram, so I don't have to!

The highlight of the night was when the three younger kids
were selected to be a part of the play.
Henry had one of the leading roles.
They each did an amazing job! 

Eliza had been hoping that she'd get chosen for the play. 
She was sad for a minute, I think, when she wasn't.
I made her feel better by telling her that she has my vote for President.

I am glad we made a return visit to Frightmares. It's sad to think our passes are no longer valid. Lagoon is now closed for the year. But! I feel like we definitely got our money's worth. We went to Lagoon a lot this summer!

And finally, here's a sweet shot of my boys.

This one might be one of my all time favorites.

...until next time.