Monday, December 17, 2012

Advent Week Two-ish

Dec 9th: Open a Family Gift (legos)
              Read The Legend of the Candy Cane

Dec 10th: Make gingerbread houses
                 Read Santaclaustrophobia

Dec 11th: Make treats
                 Read My Penguin Osbert

Dec 12th: Draw names for sibling gift exchange
                 Read Texas Night Before Christmas

Dec 13th: Make Neighbor Gifts (um, dear neighbors, this was a crazy week and it never happened.                                      
                 We still love you I promise!)
                 Read Silent Night Holy Night*

Dec 14th: Snowball Fight!
                 Read The Christmas Candle

Dec 15th: Shopping for sibling gifts
                 Read I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day*
                 -a couple of years back when I linked this book I also linked to a video of this story
                  being told at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Performance.  You can see
                  that HERE.  If you haven't seen it, you should watch it!

Dec 16th: Open Family Gift (Disney storybooks)
                 Read A Christmas Dress for Ellen*

Dec 17th: Special Family Outing (Ryan Shupe and The Rubberband Christmas concert-such a blast!)
                 Read Mr Finnegan's Giving Chest

*Again, these are the ones that always make me cry
I have linked each book so you can see what it is as some of these books have titles that are the same as other books.  I linked to amazon out of convenience.  Some of them are listed there at ridiculous prices, so if you are interested in tracking them down, obviously look around!  The Legend of the Candy Cane I linked to a different site because the one listed on amazon is the "newly illustrated" version.  The story is the same but I really don't like how cartoony it is now, especially since the illustration in the version we have is one of my favorite things about it.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Advent and Christmas Stories, week one

I have tried a couple of times in the past to post the Christmas stories we read each night.  Or rather that we try to read each night.  You know how December is, some nights the story just doesn't fit in with the rest of the crazy so we end up reading two the next night.

This year I also needed something to keep the Christmas countdown fun instead of just crazy, and something that directly gave us family time each night.  I hate being pulled so many directions this time of year!  While there are some things we have needed to work around (school performances, etc), it has been nice to have things to look forward to with the family each night.  Not to mention that it has been great to be able to decline other things for the sake of "we have family plans".  I may do that more often with life after this month ends!

I am all for simple; ribbon, clothes pins and some cute envelopes.

Since I pulled ideas from other friends doing their own advent calendars, I thought I would share ours.  But it will have to be one week(ish) at a time and after the fact due to my children getting older and internet savvy and reading this blog now.  Still adjusting to that.

One other twist we have added to our month of holiday fun is opening a family gift each Sunday.  We usually do a handful of family gifts on Christmas-games, movies, books-that often get lost in the fray or even just kind of set aside for later after the excitement of each child's gifts settles a little.  Last year  the amazing Becky mentioned her idea to avoid that same issue of gift overload on Christmas day.  Instead of waiting until Christmas they did a family gift each Sunday in December.  (if you are not familiar with Becky you should be-she is amazing and brilliant and so awesome!)
We have adopted this idea as well and so far are loving it!  I am especially loving that it encourages us to spend more time together on Sunday afternoons and evenings instead of the kids wandering off to their own corners of the house and doing their own thing.

Dec 1st - Write Letters to Santa
                Read Mooseltoe

Dec 2nd - Open a Family Gift (our new Christmas Story for this year, The Christmas Train*)
                 Read  new Christmas Book

Dec 3rd - Make Snowball (a favorite family treat)
                Read Christopher Pop-In-Kins (Elf on the Shelf creeps me out, but this one I can do!)

Dec 4th - Hot Cocoa Bar
                Read The Christmas Stocking Story

Dec 5th - Eat Candy Canes (this was a busy night)
                Read Christmas Oranges*

Dec 6th - Go Out for Ice Cream
                Read How Murray Saved Christmas

Dec 7th - Christmas Movie Night
                Read Josie's Gift*

Dec 8th - Visit Santa
                Read The Polar Express

(you will see some stories with *, these are the ones that make me cry. Just to warn you, if you happen to be a boob like me.)


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A whole lot

Of catching up to do.
A couple of giveaways.
And some reviews.
Workouts and running plans.
A big birthday.
Sam adventures.
Holiday stuff too.

Not all right this minute.

But after a serious hiatus I am hoping to jump back on the blogging bandwagon.

I find myself desperately craving family time lately, being with just hubby and the kids.  So much stuff keeps getting in the way!  Not that we don't have a great time with friends, on double dates, and hanging with extended family, but life keeps flying by at warp speed and I'm missing just *being*.  So instead of chronicling life lately, I've just been soaking up the minutes that I do get.  It's been good.
More story time, more playing with littles, more good stuff.  I feel like I'm kind of staring to find a balance again between the must do's and want to do's. It's a good feeling.

That was all brought back around after a couple of weeks of making time for one on one with kids and hubby, and ending with a grand finale of a hospitalized kid.  You know there's never a dull moment here!

Good things to come.  Stay tuned.

And yes, even though it was six weeks ago, Halloween will show up too.

Happy Tuesday.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Head's Up

I have totally fallen off the face of the blogosphere...apparently that ninth kid finally pushed me over that threshold of being able to juggle things as well as I used to.  Or something like that.

But I felt it my duty to inform you of the following:

Just because your 2yr old is obsessed with Blue's Clues and he is oblivious to anything else going on when that fabulous blue dog is within sight does not mean that the Blue's Clues method (turn it on when you need him occupied for a minute) is foolproof.

Case in point-The Blue's Clues method failed me this morning when I attempted to pee without company.  In slightly over 100 seconds my very inquisitive toddler managed to climb on to the counter, insert the tea kettle in the microwave, and send it for a spin.  In a feat of irony, he didn't just hit cook, he managed to cook the thing on the beverage setting.  I don't think I even knew our microwave had a beverage setting.

Microwaves do not like tea kettles.

(Don't worry honey, the microwave still works.  And the kettle handle only caught fire a little bit so the melting is minimal and it will still work just fine as well.)

(Oh, and just to clarify, no we don't drink tea, we just use the kettle for boiling water.  We are big into hot cocoa.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Overheard from the kitchen this morning...
"Guess who is going to run for president one day?  This girl!!"
"And guess who is going to vote for you?  This guy!  Wait, can you make cereal and candy cost less?"
"Uh, no.  I couldn't do that."
"Oh.  Darn it."

I have some very tender feelings about results of last night, from the national to local results.

Who I voted for in any of those elections isn't the point.  Whether my candidates all won, all lost, or a combination of both is also not the point.

The most striking thing to me is the division.  So many races so close to a 50% division, being decided by a very small (relatively) number of people.
I hope and pray that our leaders, from our small towns to our great nation, can look to this and realize that they have serious work to do.  It reminds me of when I ask children to help choose dinner and one says "pizza!" and the other screams "tacos!", while neither one is willing to take a few seconds to sit down and talk and realize that while those may be their first choices, both of them-and the rest of the family-would be thrilled with chicken.  As parents we teach even our young toddlers how to compromise and cooperate, I don't find it a far stretch that the same should be expected of those elected to lead the greatest country on earth.

That goes for us as citizens as well.  We have some serious work to do.
I have been shocked by the hate spewed from both sides of the aisle over the past few months.  How sad it is to see the name calling and the accusations, the blatant lies and fear mongering, the immature choices of "mature" adults.  

As I explain to my children this morning the results of the elections we have so closely watched, I will again remind them of the conversation we had in depth on Monday night.  Just like at school we respect our teachers even if we don't necessarily like them, we expect them to be respectful of all of those elected to lead-both those we voted for and those we didn't.  Name calling, gloating and complaining will get us no where.  Compromise and cooperation, learning from mistakes, being willing to admit when we are wrong, and moving forward with faith are the recipe for success-in all aspects of life.

And when it comes down to it, the most important things in life for my family will be what we do in our house, not what happens in the white house.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Very Literal End to Fall Break

We did go out and do something fun yesterday.
We went to the Children's Discovery Garden at Thanksgiving Point and played for a couple of hours.  It was a beautiful day, the kids were great to each other (mostly), and we had a fabulous time.

The kids thoroughly enjoyed the maze

Sam couldn't get enough of the fish

Even Emily was happy to be there

 After starting the day fabulously-sleeping in a little, spending the later part of the morning and early afternoon at the gardens,  the kids still weren't quite done enjoying their day off.

Malia, Alaina and Jacob wanted to go get ice cream.  We are blessed to live in an amazing town where there are plenty of paved trails to carry them safely from our house to the cute little ice cream shop, so off they went.
We have an extra cell phone line for the time being, so I sent them with the phone, just in case, and expected them home in a couple of hours, just in time for dinner and family night.

All was well, they texted me to let me know when they had arrived, and included this fabulous picture.

Melts a mama's heart to see them sharing.
(and loving that they shared to conserve funds for another trip on another day!)

Then came the "we're on our way home" text so I knew when to expect them.

As I glanced up at the clock some time later I figured they should be home within a few minutes.

Which is about when the phone began to ring.

Alaina was in a panic that Malia had crashed and was bleeding "a ton from her mouth and nose!", and toward the end of her panicked reply to my "hello?" she threw in "and I think her arm is broken!".
As I tried to nail down just where they were, I couldn't get anything more out of her than "a few minutes from home" and the fact that they weren't in the neighborhood yet but still out on the path.

Thankfully Aaron had just returned home from work, I could hear an adult there in the background and Malia was calm enough to talk to me.  After sending Aaron off to retrieve her and confirming that she had crashed on her own and not been hit by a car or something (and offering up thanks that she was wearing her helmet), I hung up and waited for details from Aaron.

The other two returned home just a few minutes later and I got the call from Aaron that they were headed off to urgent care with a possible wrist fracture and maybe a broken nose.   Whether her tire hit something or the front of her bike turned or what, we have no idea.  She's not quite sure.  All she knows is that she looked back to make sure that Alaina and Jacob weren't far behind her and next thing she knew she was on the ground bleeding.

The good news is that the wrist is just a sprain, nothing broken.  Not so great news is that the nose is broken.  She's got some pretty good swelling between her nose and her eye, and the color is coming in nicely there.

I am so glad that they have paths to ride on instead of the street, and that we live in such a wonderful place that two different people stopped to see what they can do to help before Aaron got there.

I am also glad that we got some great laughs out of this thing...
Apparently right after it happened Alaina caught up to her and realized that she was pretty hurt.  From what Malia told us, Alaina jumped off her bike, told Jacob to ride home and get us (before she remembered they had a phone) and ran around Malia a couple of times yelling "what do we remember about first aid?  What do we remember about first aid?!"  Upon seeing how much Malia was bleeding from her face she resorted to "You're losing too much blood!  You need to swallow it so you keep enough blood in your body!"
Ah, good intentions.  Maybe we need to review some basic first aid with a couple of our kids.  


Monday, October 15, 2012


Wow, I really didn't mean to leave that post sitting here for nearly a month!  Whoops.
Good intentions, road to hell, you know how it goes.
Except I'm not and haven't been on the road to hell.  I hope.

I blog constantly, but it's all in my head.  I never seem to make the time to sit down for 30 seconds and spit it out.  I suppose I could use my phone, but even with-and in some cases, because of-autocorrect, I sound like I'm completely illiterate and never passed the second grade.

Thus the random brain dump of weeks worth of thoughts.  The first installment anyway.

Today is the last day of fall break.  I have loved it.  Only 6ish weeks till Thanksgiving break.  Yes, I am counting.
We did not go to Southern California like 90% of Utah did.

Bummer because we always love it there and I would not argue with a couple of days at the beach right now, but we would have missed one of the most amazingly beautiful weeks of Fall that I have ever seen.  It has been so beautiful here!

A phone picture doesn't even come close to doing this justice.  Maybe clicking on it to see it full size will help, but still can't even touch how awesome it looked in person. The color has been breathtaking, the temperature perfect, and the snow is sprinkled across the tops of the mountains now.  I'm not thrilled for snow, but it sure looks pretty.

Aaron has started a new position at work and is doing some traveling now.  It's not as hard as it would have been a couple of years ago before I was used to him being gone all the time for school, but I am grateful that he doesn't travel constantly.  Two weeks in the past month he's been gone, and it looks like there will be one or two more trips in the next month, but then we are clear till January.  It's been interesting timing; I'm watching a couple of friends' marriages fall apart right now.  They've known it was coming for some time, but it still stinks for them obviously.  I am so glad that when my husband is gone I miss him dearly instead of being relieved that I don't have him home.  So glad that he wants to call and text a number of times a day and he misses me too.  I am so very grateful for our relationship.  Life could be so different.

Next up, the 4's.
I never blogged about Charlotte's 4th birthday a couple of months ago.  I should do that.
She is the cutest 4yr old.

So much fun!
But wow, that 4yrs flew.
Not as much as the past 14 though.

Malia turned 14 last week.  Thankfully that hasn't made me feel old, just a little floored at how quickly it's gone.  I am still taller than she is.  By like a quarter of an inch.  I may get away with that for about two more weeks.  My child is about to pass me up.  Wow.  But hey, we can share some clothes which is a little scary and yet awesome.
Emily hit 4 months already too.

Now THAT flew.  Mostly.
I would be lying if I said it *all* flew because she totally had a personality flip just after she hit 3 months and decided to quit sleeping too.  Why?  Why Emily, Why??  I discussed it with our pediatrician at her 4 month check up.  He speculated personality change as well, until we got a little more in detail and I mentioned the back arching.  He mentioned that it could be silent reflux.  Huh.  Hadn't thought of that because there wasn't any spitting up.  We discussed meds, which I'm not a fan of unless they really are necessary, so we thought we'd try a couple of other things first to see if it made a difference.
She got her first chiropractic adjustment

(which she loved)
I have to admit it scared me a little to take her in for that, I wasn't sure how it was going to work on a tiny body, but it was awesome.  Everything was done on my dr's lap and with an adjustor, and she was all smiles the whole time.  We've seen improvement since then.
I have my happy baby back most of the time.

And no more random screaming in pain.
We also decided to tweak my diet even though the fact that she was fine for the first two months of life indicated that it wasn't likely to be a diet related issue.  No dairy, tomatoes or chocolate (trigger foods for other kids of mine) for a week.  Between that and the chiro visit I had my happy baby back.  Then I went off the deep end and added all three foods back in at the same time.  I know.  Not wise.  We started seeing some changes again and this week I noticed that she was pretty unhappy and was spitting up.  I'm going to cut dairy again and see how that goes.  I have a feeling that may be the issue.  Of course now that I think that I can only come up with meal ideas that involve dairy.  I've done it before, I can do it again, right?  "It's all a matter of willpower!"

And as for the 4th daughter, she turns 11 in two weeks.  (no I have no idea what is up with her hair in that picture above)  She has talked about running some longer races with me next year.  You'd better believe I'm excited about that possibility!  Now to walk the fine line of being supportive and encouraging without pushing her too far.

I actually had the following conversation with one of my boys the other morning:
"I want you to be positive today.  I want everything that comes out of your mouth to be positive and happy."
"Well, that's probably not going to happen!  See look, it's already not happening!"

Way too much negativity in the world!  Especially with politics right now.  I've started avoiding fb because of it.  Even the people who fall on the same side as I do have become annoying.  In some cases I'm a little embarrassed that we are supporting some of the same candidates because of their in your face behavior.   It brings this to mind:

Yep.  The best part of the politics on facebook have been these little gems.

On the flip side I have been able to have some in depth discussions with friends who sit on the opposite side of the political spectrum from me.  How nice to be able to do that and have it all stay respectful and civil!  I have some great friends.  Even if they are a little politically confused.

My 12yr old son just came to me concerned that one of his toes does not sit straight.  Good thing he noticed that after 12 years.  It cracks me up to see when kids notice things and what things they notice and are concerned about.

And I hear Emily calling me so it is time for me to get up and go.  On to enjoy this last day of Fall break despite the head cold from H-E-double hockey sticks that hit me like a ton of bricks last night.  Hopefully it's just a cold.  No matter what it is I'm going to pretend it's not happening and take the kids out to do something fun today.

Enjoy your Monday!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Journey Back, the next installment

I've been working my hiney off.  Literally.
Last update wasn't too long after I had Emily, but I have been better at taking pictures unlike last time.  And yes, I'm including those here.

How goes the attempt to get my body back after baby 9?

Not too bad.
Actually, I'm going to toot my horn a little ("toot!"), it's going pretty darn well.

I picked running back up at 3 weeks postpartum, and at 6 weeks after the official clearance from the doc, I jumped back in with P90x.  Ah, Tony Horton, the Michael Scott of the workout world.  Love it!

I p90x-ed faithfully for the first five weeks of the schedule, along with running, but then when the opportunity to do that half marathon popped up I pushed Tony Horton aside so my legs weren't quite so spent and I wasn't quite as tired.
That worked out pretty well, and after being lazy nice to my body to recover from the race (and the stomach flu that hit me the night after...hello?!  we did the stomach flu last month!  not fair!), I'm ready to be back to hanging with Tony 6 days a week.  That means two-a-days on my running days again, but as long as the body holds up I'm ok with that.
Uh, starting next week of course.

I am within a few pounds of my official pre-pregnancy weight, and only one pound from my "I'm ok with weighing this because it's what I weighed back in the day" weight.  I gained 35 during this pregnancy (yes, even with all the running.  dang.).  My hope was to hit that "back in the day" weight by my birthday at the end of October, so I'm thrilled with the progress I've made!  I've NEVER been able to do that so quickly!  Of course I've never worked this hard on getting back in shape so soon after having a baby.  Last time around I didn't see the weight I'm currently at until Sam was almost 6 months old, and then I rebounded back up another 5 pounds and held on to that till he was 9 months old.  I'm hoping to not do that whole rebound back up thing again this time.  I'm working to find the right balance of eating enough to fuel workouts appropriately, but not eating too much.  It's tricky sometimes.  I realized two weeks ago that I wasn't eating quite enough-I was dragging a little through workouts and feeling more tired in general, so I've been trying to up my intake a bit more and focus on good foods instead of just getting enough calories from whatever I might grab when I'm hungry.  I've maintained the same number on the scale for two weeks and been feeling better during and after my workouts so I think I'm finding a good balance, and now that my energy is back up I can bump up the intensity of the workouts a little more I hope.  We'll see.

It will be interesting to see if my body will hold on to these last few pounds until I finish nursing (as it usually does), or if I really will be able to get them off in the near future.  Making sure that I am able to exclusively breastfeed Emily is priority number one for me, so if the pounds stick around for a while I can deal with that.  Most of my clothes fit again (even if it isn't quite the way I prefer them to), so if I stay here for the next 9ish (or more) months I'll be ok.   And even if I do put a couple back on-and with fall baking and the holidays coming up, that is probably the most likely scenario-well, so be it.  I'd rather not get too strung out about that number on the scale.  My preferred route is to keep up on workouts and make sure that treats get shared with all the kids so I don't eat too many by myself.

And now (....drumroll....) all that blabbing from above in picture form.
No, I didn't bother to edit these except for the merging.  Sorry, I'm photoshop illiterate so I used some online thing.  Close enough.


Nice to see a big change over the past little while.  These pictures are good for me to see when I feel like I'm not making much progress.   And can you tell when I'm due to see my chiropractor?  yikes!
Yes, the pictures are getting further apart.  There isn't so much change going on over a week anymore so the pictures are now out to four weeks.  Emily is 16 weeks old now (where the heck did that time go?!), so I'll take another pic in two weeks, and keep up in four week increments for a roughly once a month picture till I hit the one year mark.  I'm interested to see how it compares to last time around.  And I'm anxious to get my abs back.  I feel like they held up pretty well and that I've got a decent start, but on nights like tonight where I'm all bloated and just....blah, I have to remind myself to be patient, that I'll be back there soon enough.  Time to tighten and tone!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Treating my kids like strangers

There's been some head butting going on at our house lately.
Kids are having some cranky moments.  It's bound to happen I suppose, especially with this many people and this many different personalities all under one roof and breathing the same air.   Throw whole tween/teen thing into the mix (hormones anyone?), and the fun things that come with the rest of the age spread, and the crazy of preschooler, toddler and baby, and obviously there are going to be some disagreements along the way.

Most of the time we make them work it out on their own, and almost every time it is within minutes that we find the affected parties have gone from worst enemies back to best buds.
But man, the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth before they get back to being bff's again is just not pleasant.
I find myself frequently pointing out that they would never treat their friends that way.  They would never treat complete strangers the way they treat each other sometimes.

I understand why; this is the safe place.  Family is where you know you will always be loved no matter what you do or say.  Home is where you can let your guard down, let your insecurities out, vent your frustrations...and I'm glad that it is that way.  I'm glad that they feel like we can talk about things and hash things out no matter what they are.  I hope that they always feel like home is that safe place.  Obviously I'd prefer there be a little less hashing of each other along the way, but it seems par for the course with siblings for the most part.

Well, despite the fact that I feel like I'm usually pretty good with the kids, fairly patient with whatever issues they may happen to come up with, I've found that my patience is wearing a little thin lately.  I'm sure it's due partly to the back-to-school changes and having to make sure everyone is out the door on time every day, in bed on time every night, getting the assigned reading/spelling/math/etc homework done each night and the process of keeping easily distracted kids focused on said homework,  and keeping all those dang papers in order!  And the emails now too.  (While email is my preferred line of communication, middle school teachers times 16 (8 for each kid), plus 4 grade school kids, plus papers coming home can be a tad bit overwhelming some days!)  There are many mornings I get up and really miss homeschooling.
(Also there are 161 school days left till next summer vacation, but who's counting?)

But now I've found that I'm getting snippy with the kids.  I hate it when I do that.

So I issued myself a challenge.
Treat my kids like strangers.  Or anyone else really.
Would I snap at someone else for doing what my kid just did?  Would I let that choice get to me if it was a stranger who made it and not one of my kids?  Would I lose patience while helping with homework if it was some other kid sitting here and not one of mine?  Hmm...the answer is almost always no.  Interesting food for thought.

Of course taking into account the fact that it is my job as their parent to guide them and teach them and correct them whereas that is not my responsibility with some random person I don't know, I've still realized that I could be doing better as their mom.  I could be more patient, I could correct more gently, I could speak more kindly.

I did great yesterday.  I did pretty darn good today until that universal witching hour of roughly 6pm when it all came crashing down like it does so many nights.  Tomorrow evening I hope to do much better than I did tonight.

For now I'll reflect on where I went wrong and what I can do to fix it.  Then I will go look at my sleeping little angels, and (hopefully) sleeping not-so-little angels and remind myself of how much I love them and why I want to do better tomorrow.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Adventure Thursday

Summer was awesome this year, despite being a little crazy with new baby, older kids actually having a life now, things like that.
But not wanting it to just go by wasted, we started Adventure Thursdays.  And since I was too busy enjoying Summer (and eating up every minute with a newborn before she turned into the chunky little wild woman that she already is) to blog any of it, you get to see it now.  Plus this way when next Summer rolls around I can see what we did and use it for a jumping point for ideas for new adventures.

For the first rewind, ZigZag.

I mentioned ZigZag when I finally got around to running it back in the Spring.  I had been dying to get hubby and the kids up there since that day and we finally got around to it in July.

Adventure mode with the whole fam means I have Emily wrapped up

And Aaron gets Sam in the backpack.

Everyone else gets to burn off their energy.

They are troopers and I love it!

It's really a pretty short little hike, but a tad steep for little legs in a couple of spots.  Still, check out Charli who at this point was actually running.  Love.

Highlights on the way up were this pile of sticks that the kids were sure was an eagle nest,

and a pile of bones. Bones always stir up excitement, especially when you've been to the museum the week before and you have a couple of boys.  These provided a good ten minutes of conjecture on exactly which type of dinosaur they may have come from.

Lincoln was thrilled when he made it to the top.

And the view from the top is awesome.
The other side of our city
(those are houses on the left side.  really.)

If you look far enough  you get Utah Lake over the hills

Our side of of the city and the fields that surround us

This would be the "mid-valley" field and the spot where they are building the new middle school.

And look at the back side of this hill-trails galore!

I did some running through there last year and can't wait to really get back down in there to explore again next year.  It's like a whole new world back in those little valleys.

No traipsing through the wilderness would be complete without a bazooka

Or a lightsaber.

The one drawback on timing this little excursion was the heat.  100ish degrees means plenty of red faces at the end, a sweaty baby
(Malia really was with us, she wanted to take this picture)

And sweaty mom and dad from carrying the babies.

Nothing a round of popsicles couldn't fix.