Sunday, May 28, 2017

Slices of May

Here are some random pictures I have taken lately. 

Roo and Rabbit had a piano recital.  They both played beautifully.  


Here's Frog deep in imagination-land.  The game involves his beloved rocking moose, as well as a bunch of stuffed animals and a small plastic penguin. 


Fidget spinners!  The fad toy of 2017!  I love them.  So do my kids.  Roo got the first one in our family, as a reward from her piano teacher.  We need a bunch more.  


I know this is totally a first world problem, but ever since we moved here we have had fridge space issues.  We bought this fridge in 2002 when we were a family of three and just moving into a new house.  It cost $400 new and we could barely afford it.  A move or two later, it became our second fridge in the garage, and that was so helpful.  When we got here, it was the only fridge we had, and we said,"we need to go buy another, bigger fridge and put this one back in the garage!"  But there's always something else to spend our money on, so here we are, two years later, still trying to stuff all our food into this thing.  Usually we succeed.  And I feel very blessed to have a fridge stuffed with food. 


Turns out Frog is rather good at sweeping.  


There was an end-of-year sports recognition ceremony.  Here's Bean with his football team.  


And finally, I leave you with one of about two dozen photos I have of the Rabbit practicing her cross eyes with my phone camera on selfie mode.  


You're welcome.  

Strawberry Picking

Here are pictures from this year's strawberry picking trip.  The berries were suffering from too much rain and damp, so we had to really hunt to find good fruit.  We still managed to get over 20 pounds of berries in about an hour. 

We had nice cool, cloudy weather, and as always, we just loved being out there.  Strawberry fields are my favorite.  It was peaceful and quiet, with twittering birds in the trees around us and the delightful snicking noise strawberries make when you pop them off the plant.  (And is there anything cuter than a little boy in overalls?  In a strawberry field?)









Nope. Nothing cuter. 

Two and a Half

We have now passed the two and a half year mark with these crazy twins of ours.  I have to say, they have been more and more fun lately.  They are still extremely hard, especially when they are sick and they don't sleep well.  I am slowly getting less overwhelmed though, and I am grateful for that. 

The cuteness, people!  I don't know how to convey to you the level of extreme adorableness these two little bugs are at.  Pictures can give you a vague idea, but they are a poor two-dimensional substitute.  Also, these two little critters are extremely difficult to photograph.  Looking through, I am realizing I don't have very many good pictures of them lately.  I will have to work on that. 





 They love to look at books and "write" with pencils.  They will sit for a long time very focused with a pencil in hand making small marks on a piece of paper.  Especially Twig. 

We have had a little bit of hair cutting in the last week when older kids have left scissors out.   Twig cut off a piece of Leaf's hair and then another time Leaf cut Twig's.  Luckily, it was just small sections in the back, not very noticeable.  In the future I am sure I will not be so lucky.  Keep those scissors put away, kids! 

They can unlock and open doors now, and the doorknob cover I put on the front door didn't work-- they just took it off.  I need to get a more high-tech version.  Meanwhile, we have to be very vigilant about doors. 

They love my bathroom and wreak a lot of havoc there.  The toothbrush drawer and the hairbrush drawer are constant targets.

More and more they play cute little games with stuffed animals or plastic figures.  It's so adorable to watch. 

I love to listen to them talk to each other too.  I can only understand part of what they're saying, but they seem to understand each other perfectly. 

They do fight a lot.  It makes me so sad when they hit or bite each other. 

They get way too much screen time because when they're sitting in front of a movie they are not destroying the house or putting themselves in danger, so if we're trying to get things done or I'm leaving them home with the older kids we usually put a movie on for them.  They have probably watched Milo and Otis 500 times.  They also love Nemo and Moana.  We are trying to reduce their screen time down to the recommended 1-2 hours a day.  I think that will get easier as they get older and are more able to play in a way that is not necessarily destructive or dangerous. 

They love to play outside, except that Twig is terrified of bugs (like Roo when she was tiny.)  It's so cute to see them toddling about in the backyard. 

They have the entire family wrapped around their chubby little fingers and they know it.  We sure love our little twinses! 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

My Facebook feed today has been full of tributes to mothers, pictures of happy mothers with happy children, inspiring and eloquent quotes about motherhood, acknowledgements of those for whom Mother's Day is hard or not ideal, and a few expressions of disillusionment over expectation versus reality on Mother's Day.  

Where I'm at right now, I absolutely love Mother's Day.  It brings me lots of warm fuzzies.  I was fortunate enough to be loved and reared by one of the most amazing women on the planet, and she's still alive so I can call her and thank her today, so that aspect of Mother's Day is and has always been great for me.  I'm also blessed with a mother in law who has been wonderful to me above and beyond the call of duty and whom I am fortunate enough to count as a friend.  She's still only a phone call away too, so that's a blessing.   I am very aware that not all have these blessings, so I appreciate them.
Then there's the other aspect of Mother's Day-- ME as a mother.

My first few years of motherhood, I somehow had this idea that Mother's Day was going to be absolutely awesome.  It was the day to celebrate me and all my sacrifices for the family.  It would be my day off, my day to be pampered.  I would lay in bed and they would bring me delicious food and sweet homemade cards.  Then they would all go clean the house and play harmoniously together the rest of the day while I read books and ate chocolates.  It would be the pinnacle of my mothering experience.

Well, it wasn't.  Anything but, in fact.  On Mother's Day, kids tend to behave worse than usual.  They are eager to please, but when they're little there's not much they can do, and their needs don't just go away because it's Mother's Day.  So they're excited and they want to make you happy, which means they want your attention.  Then they get overstimulated and melt down.

For those first few years, Mother's Day was a huge letdown at best, and at worst it was utterly awful.  Even when the Badger cooked yummy things for me.

One year Bean elbowed Fish in the nose right before the Primary children got up to sing to their mothers in Sacrament Meeting.  There was screaming and blood everywhere.  I rushed out with Fish, and missed the singing that I had so been looking forward to.  I felt so let down.

After a couple years I dropped all expectations for Mother's Day.  If I just planned on it being another day in the trenches, with all the usual screaming and vomit and filthy socks, then I wouldn't be disappointed.  I would also appreciate each little thing they tried to do for me.

That helped a lot.  Some Mother's Days were good, some were a mess, but I didn't get worked up over it.

And those little things... they were small at first.  So small.  But they have increased each year.  It keeps getting better and better, friends.  Here I am now with both older kids and younger kids.  The older kids treated me like gold today.  The younger kids were their usual challenging selves, with a few cute crayon drawings thrown in.  It's just going to keep getting better for me.  Someday Mother's Day may end up being exactly like I first imagined it.

This morning the Rabbit made me the most delicious breakfast burritos.  Eggs, sausage, hash browns, cheese, and salsa wrapped up in a tortilla and served on a tray with a bowl of fresh strawberries and blueberries.  It was amazing.



A couple hours later Fish brought me "second breakfast:" a mountain of scrambled eggs with ham, smothered in melted cheese.  And lots of crispy, buttery toast.  Scrumptioius.  I was still full, so I shared it around and many of us were able to enjoy it.

Let me tell you what, my kids are getting to be amazing cooks.  That is one thing the Badger and I are doing right.

There were also several wonderful homemade cards and crafts.  Lots of hugs and sticky kisses.  And sweet singing from my four Primary-aged kids during Sacrament Meeting.  Oh, and chocolate.

There was also fighting, name calling, angry outbursts, disobedience, and a full-on wrestling match with a small squirmy child duing church.  These children are a work in progress.

I am a work in progress.

That is okay.  That is as it should be.  That is part of the plan.

So I would just like to say to all the young mothers out there... you are doing a wonderful job.  Don't expect them to appreciate it now.  They will eventually though.  The parent paychecks will come, and they will be all the sweeter for the challenges you have faced.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

May Pictures

I'm going through the pictures I've taken recently, and I'm going to throw a few on my blog.

The twins were invited to their first-ever birthday party.



They loved it once they figured out what a birthday party was.  Beforehand they had no clue, so they weren't excited.  I was glad to see them excited to see their friend, the birthday girl, when we pulled up in front of her house.  It's so cute to see them developing friendships.   

I'm grateful for good families we've met here that have great kids that are such good friends to my kids.  My little kids have such cute little friends right now.  I always imagine my kids growing up together with their little nursery friends and think how great it's going to be, and then we always move.  Maybe this time we'll stay put and I'll get to see Frog and Hayden and Matthew with their dates at their senior prom, Leaf and Twig with Kenzie and Hailey and Hannah and Molly at girls' camp, etc.  

My friend Jen has twin girls that are just four months older than mine, and they were at the party today.  It cracks me up talking to Jen, because she is adamant that my twins are identical and that her twins are not.  To me, her twins look identical, but she is just so sure that they look totally different from each other, just like I'm sure that mine look totally different.  I get comments on my twins and whether or not they're identical all the time, but it's really funny to me to have a fellow twin mom be so sure that my twins are identical when they look so different to me.  

Identical or not, they're cute.  Especially when they're asleep.  


Yesterday we went on a homeschool field trip to a nearby nature trail.  The Rabbit complained about going, but when we got there she loved it.  I told them to grab their nature journals, and when we got there they decided to go a nature scavenger hunt that's in there.  They got so into it, and they were so excited when they found everything on the list (we hunted and hunted for a feather and finally found one!)  I really like those nature journals (from the Good and the Beautiful.)


After that I needed to stop by Aldi.  I had all six kids with me because of the field trip and I'd forgotten how hard that is.  It was like having a herd of goats in the store.  I don't usually have to take more than one or two kids to the grocery store with me.  I have the luxury of being able to leave most of the kids home most of the time, and I'm grateful for that.  So many years I hauled all the kids with me everywhere all the time, it sure is a nice change.  

The twins get left home a lot, actually.  They are so used to me leaving and them staying that when I'm leaving they run to the door, ask for a hug and a kiss, then say "bye!" and slam the door behind me.  It kind of makes me sad, because they're not with me all the time like the older kids were.  But with two of them, that would just be too much.  

Here is a picture of Bean reciting Caedmon's Hymn in Old English at Plumfield's end-of-school-year concert.  Plumfield has transformed this boy of mine and I am so, so, so grateful.  


Also at the concert Bean and three others sang "Lida Rose."  Sorry, no picture.  That meant so much to me.  When Bean was very small his favorite movie was The Music Man and we watched it hundreds of times.  The barbershop quartet is one of my favorite things about that movie, so Bean doing barbershop was just priceless to me.  

I have been trying to get back into bread baking lately.  For months, I have not been doing it at all.  It was just one more thing to deal with.  Buying store bread gets so expensive though, so I'm making an effort.  It's so, so yummy, as well as cheaper and healthier.  


The twins are obsessed with toothbrushes.  I don't know whose those are in this picture.  I just know they aren't mine because I keep mine carefully out of reach.  The other members of the family would do well to follow suit.


They also liked the leis we picked up at a friend's graduation party.  Graduations are kind of freaking me out this year because these kids are not much older than Bean.  Three more years and I will start launching my little birdies.  I can't hardly imagine it.  


Here's a picnic under the trampoline on a beautiful day in May.  The Rabbit was the instigator, of course.  She loves to put things together.  She is always planning something, from a fancy meal to a neighborhood talent show.  


So many good and beautiful things in my life right now!  I am so grateful.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

May

What a quiet morning I have had here.  The Badger took the middle kids camping last night, and the house is so different with just two toddlers and a teenager.

Said teenager and I indulged in Pizza Hut pizza last night.  I love Pizza Hut oh so very much, but yeah, it's bad for you.  Really bad.  So, a rare treat.  Bean was feeling bad because Plumfield had their Prom last night.  In a school as small as Plumfield, the whole high school goes, and it's a big deal.  Bean didn't think he wanted to go, since he's not old enough to date (though he could have gone stag) and since he doesn't have any good friends at school.  All these weeks leading up to it he kept hearing about it and saying "yeah, yeah, whatever."  Then when it was actually occurring he realized that he regretted not being there.  I remember feeling like that, so I tried to make the evening a little bit fun for him as compensation.  Pizza Hut was having a special for 50% off when you ordered online, so we got two pizzas for $15.  Oh man, the way their crust is so crispy on the bottom...

The world outside is so magically, gloriously, achingly beautiful right now.  Everything is so green and vibrant and alive.  I love May.  I'm still not sure how it got to be May so fast, but I am always happy for it to arrive.

I went out last night and worked on yard stuff.  Someone gave us an electric hedge trimmer and I decided to give it a try.  I had so much fun with it.  I felt like a child with a new toy.  We have some majorly overgrown boxwood bushes on the side of our house and I went at them.  They are transformed.  Then I did the top of the yew bush under the living room window, the one that always has to be kept nice and flat.  I have trimmed it by hand in the past, and it was so amazing to just wave this buzzy thing across it a couple times and be done.  I thought of my great great grandfather Stephen, who was a professional gardener in England, and I could imagine him saying, "boy, if I'd only had one of those... do you know how many hours I spent trimming bushes by hand?"  Electric hedge trimmers are my new BFF.

This morning I went out and weeded in front.  No one's invented an electric weeder yet, so I pull them out by hand, one at a time.  I find it soothing and enjoyable though, at least in small doses.

I also picked up a Bountiful Basket this morning.  Lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which make me very happy.  Maybe that will make up for Pizza Hut.

Well, my noisy crew of campers has arrived, so I will go and help them unload.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Messes

As I rush about my life on my way from one essential task to the next, the thought flits through my head: "this house is such a mess!"  I've mentioned before: surely this must be the low point in my housekeeping career. 

Each one of my children has their own special way of contributing to the clutter and chaos in the main areas of the house; we're not even going to talk about their bedrooms.  

Bean and Fish strew shoes, yucky socks, jackets, backpacks, crumpled school papers, and dirty dishes in their wake. 

Roo and Rabbit are responsible for the bobby pins, hair ties, craft project debris, library books, and Legos I find everywhere.  They also make things in the kitchen and leave out the dishes and ingredients they used. 

Peanut and Frog scatter toys.  They play with blocks or dollhouse or magna tiles or train tracks and within a few minutes manage to get them evenly dispersed throughout every part of the house.  There'll be blocks in my bed, under the couch, on the stairs, and on the kitchen counters.  They also track in mud, dribble crumbs, and leave (wet, muddy) clothes, shoes, and socks all over.  Oh, and scratch "Z" for Zorro into the wood finish of every door upstairs. 

And then there's the twins. 

Where do I even begin with the twins? 

The twins think it is their job to take any area of the house that is neatly put away and strew the contents as far and wide as they can.  My kitchen towel drawer, the pantry cupboard, the bookshelf, and the shoe bench are some of their favorite places to ravage.  Then there's the fact that they get their food and drink everywhere.  There are crumbs and dribbly bits every time they eat or drink, and often they will take their entire bowl of food and hurl it and it will spatter impressive distances over walls and floor.  There's a reason why we call them "Earthquake" and "Tornado." 

And then there's those special times they manage to get their hands on something you don't want everywhere and get it Everywhere... I remember one time they climbed on the kitchen counter and found an open tub of hummus.  They dipped their hands in it and rubbed gobs of it all over themselves and all over everything around them, and then they decided to go upstairs, leaving a trail of hummus behind them.  Hummus handprints all the way up the stairs... it still makes me giggle when I think about it.

So, I fight this battle on many fronts.  It's no wonder I look like I'm losing most of the time.  When I can marshal the troops, it's amazing and encouraging how fast it can get clean.  And then it's terrifying and discouraging how fast it gets messed up again. 

Eventually, though, it will all go away.  In five years, it will be a lot better, and in ten years, my house will be unrecognizable from what it is right now.  Then I might have a young mother come over and say "oh, I wish my house could be as clean and nice as yours" and I will laugh maniacally.