Wednesday, October 28, 2015

One a Day, weeks 40 and 41

Playing football in the backyard, Joey and Allison

Love this smile!

Chasing light and color on the Nebo loop

Joey caught this little turtle while fishing in the river.  We let him go at the same spot a bit later.

Sarah loves crafting.

Crazy Hair Day at school, with two neighbor friends

After the game

Headed off to a Halloween Pumpkin Parade and Trick-or-Treating a week early.  Not pictured is Cami, who got ready and joined us soon after this was taken.  Harmony was thrilled to have two bumblebees in the family.

Love all of his cute expressions!

Halloween is in the air!

Sam, in the middle, spoke in Church on Sunday and is headed off to England on a mission this week.  He and Joey have been friends for almost a decade.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Quick Takes: Daddy Trip, Home Alone, and (Not) Doing All the Things Edition

1.  Daddy Trip Time.  

We love our family tradition of Daddy Trips, where my husband takes a large group of our kids somewhere far away while I stay home and enjoy the peace and quiet and wonder why I didn't appreciate how easy taking care of just three or four kids was back when that was all I had?

Last week, the trip was to Phoenix and included all the kids but Lillian, Joey, Allison, and Benji.  It was originally planned as a family trip, but then Lillian had to take the PSAT and had a retreat, Joey had two football games, and frankly, I didn't much want to have to drive two cars for 10+ hours with a new baby I'd need to stop and nurse every two hours.  So Daddy Trip it was.  Allison stayed home to earn work hours for an upcoming adventure -- she's going to come along on a trip with my husband and I to Hawaii.  She's been diligently working away to earn the 120 hours we required of her to pay for half of her plane ticket, and wanted to do some additional ones to have more spending money.

2.  Twelve Hours Driving

I find it ironic that I didn't go on the trip partly so I could avoid having to spend all day the car. Because, well, I ended up spending all day Friday in the car.  My husband was working in St. George, so to save him having to drive all the way home and then back down towards Arizona, I drove the 3.5 hours down there, met him at the long line for Costco gas (What is it with the St. George Costco?), transferred a few important items (my camera, Benjamin and his carseat; DH's clothes, etc.), switched my van for his car, gave him a kiss, a "good luck!" and headed back home.

So that's around 7 hours of driving, in theory.  But then you add on the two hours I spent driving kids back and forth to the high school and the orthodontist in the morning, and a much-loved scenic detour through the Nebo loop, and I was in the car pretty much from 7 in the morning until 8 at night.

But that Nebo loop?  Oh, it was so worth the extra time.

I think I'm putting this one on the wall.

3.  No More Braces.

And those hours spent at the orthodontist in the morning?  Worth it, too, especially for this kid, who refused to go on the Daddy Trip if he would have had to miss his appointment to get these braces off.

Michael may need a phase two later, but for now, we are just celebrating that for a time, we will only have four kids in the orthodontist's care.  Allison and Sarah have had expanders on since July and are likely getting braces on this very afternoon.  Neither is very excited.

4.  Home Alone with Nothing to Do.

Because Lillian had her retreat and Joey had a camping trip, Allison was home alone for about four hours on Friday afternoon.  It wasn't until she started texting me every. ten. minutes. that I realized she had never ever experienced that before.  Not only that, but it was her first time being left with the phone.


5.  Speaking of Home Alone

The constant texts reminded me of when Michael was about 9 and didn't want to go with me and the other kids around the neighborhood to deliver invitations to something or other.  I left him home with a phone and 5 minutes later, I got a call,

"How are you doing?"
"Just fine, Michael."
"Oh.  When are you coming home?"
"In about fifteen minutes or so."
"Ok.  Bye."

Five minutes later, I got another call.

"Mommy, you said you were just in the neighborhood but I looked down the street and didn't see you!"
"We are in the neighborhood, but we're not on our street.  We are over by the Macdonald's house"
"Oh.  How are you doing?"
"Just fine."
"Ok.  When are you coming home?"

And so on.  It can be extra lonely being all alone when you're from a big family.

6.  Why 21 months is a better spacing than 3.5 years

See, here's the thing.  With all my kids spaced so close, I never knew before what it was like to have discretionary time or energy (the space between my kids is 18 months, 18 months, 26 months, 7 minutes, 28 months, 21 months, 21 months, 21 months, and 3.5 years).  I was never caught up on even half of the things I wanted to do, but I didn't know what it felt like to be caught up either.  So I didn't know what I was missing.  This time around, I had a good chunk of time without a baby.  I mostly slept through the night, and while my thyroid disease meant I still often needed naps, I actually got things done once in a while.  And now, while I love, love, love Benjamin, I feel like I'm constantly behind.

It's that gap.  It threw me off and made me feel like I should actually be able to do all the things!

Last week, I made what I thought was a short list of things I wanted to do before my husband got home with most of the kids.  I figured I'd breeze through the list and then decide what else I wanted to get done.

I'm sure you know where this is going.  I didn't get even 70% of the list done.

Then again, getting things done is overrated.

One thing I DID get done was a short photo shoot with this squish, who somehow turned three months old last week.

Love him!  

7.  Fall Photography

The past two weeks have been a photographer's whirlwind for me.  I decided not to advertise or solicit pictures for fall (which, for me, just means posting a "Please contact me if you want fall pictures" on my Facebook page) since, well, see #6 above.  But somehow, I still ended up taking a bazillion pictures.  In the last two weeks, I took pictures of fifty adorable preschoolers, four families, one newborn, and one three month old (see #6 again).  I also went on two scenic drives for landscape photos.  It's been so much fun.

All was going so well until the 6-year-old fell down!  Luckily, no one was hurt.

My friend Aimee has the most adorable little girls . . .

who grow up into beautiful young women.  (She also has two cute boys)

Allison was so happy to go on the Nebo loop with me last Thursday.  Every time we drove around another curve, one of us would gasp and say, "look at that!"

Aspens are my favorite.

The tree on the left is looking at you.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Worth a Look

*  This. is. amazing.  Seriously, puts things in perspective -- a seven mile wide scale model of the solar system.   I don't know how to embed a vimeo video, but really, you HAVE to see this.

*  I LOVE the Piano Guys!

And one more, because you can never have enough good music.

* This is beautiful to my mother heart:  What are your plans? 
"I also have a hunch, ladies, that maybe you just need to hear someone say, I believe in you. You can do this. Don’t worry about what others expect of you, what they might think of you or say about you if you welcome another child into this world.I’ve been there, too – afraid, unsure, lonely, misunderstood.  I’ve heard the criticisms and condescension, and I’m here to tell you that every little tiny ounce of fear, every unkind word was worth enduring for these little ones!
If you are afraid of welcoming a child or another child into the world, for fear of it being too difficult, please hear me when I say that babies are not the difficult thing.It is the letting go of the plans we have for ourselves and the things that we think will make us happy, trusting firmly that the Father’s grace is sufficient for us – that is the difficult thing."

*  And this.  An Open Letter to My Children: You're Not That Great 

*  Oh, and this, too.  The Beauty of a W I D E family

*  My friend has started a business of selling cool Mormon-themed T-shirts.  Check it out here.  This design is really cool.  Can you see the faces?

Have a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Dietbet, Football, Conference, and Attention Edition

1.  I won my Dietbet last month!  I lost just enough to get back my $35, plus an extra $12.  I was sorely tempted to decide to take a break, but I know that without a deadline, I'm likely to find all kinds of excuses to put off the weight loss (Halloween, birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.).  So I signed up for another 4 week, 4% challenge as well as a 6 month 10% challenge.  The 10% one is interesting to me, as it breaks up the weight loss into month-long increments to help you stay on track.  I'm supposed to lose 3% the first month, 3% the second, 2% the third, and all 10% by the 5th month, with one more month of maintenance before the bet ends.

2.  We looked out the back window early last week to discover Joey teaching Cami how to play football.  It wasn't long before there was an audience cheering her on. She got sillier and sillier the more we watched.


3.  We loved watching and listening to General Conference this past weekend, and the kids loved their snacks and treats, of course.  Michael and Eliza brought down a whole slew of Legos to play with while they listened.

4.  Speaking of Conference, it was a wonderful soul-filling weekend with so much for me to ponder on.  My favorite talk, given this stage of my life, was Elder Holland's about motherhood.  I need to take a few days just to consider it all.

Bear, borne, carry, deliver. These are powerful, heartening messianic words. They convey help and hope for safe movement from where we are to where we need to be—but cannot get without assistance. These words also connote burden, struggle, and fatigue—words most appropriate in describing the mission of Him who, at unspeakable cost, lifts us up when we have fallen, carries us forward when strength is gone, delivers us safely home when safety seems far beyond our reach. . . But can you hear in this language another arena of human endeavor in which we use words like bear and borne, carry and lift, labor and deliver? As Jesus said to John while in the very act of Atonement, so He says to us all, “Behold thy mother!”6
Today I declare from this pulpit what has been said here before: that no love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child. When Isaiah, speaking messianically, wanted to convey Jehovah’s love, he invoked the image of a mother’s devotion. “Can a woman forget her sucking child?” he asks. How absurd, he implies, though not as absurd as thinking Christ will ever forget us.7

5.  My husband's been working like a madman this past week, with a bit of a crisis he's had to deal with.  So that just makes moments like these even more precious.

6.  Benji continues to be the center of attention around here.  We love him!

7.  Speaking of attention, I have a five-year-old who demands it constantly.  She's a bit challenging, as she has a very difficult time entertaining herself and so she is constantly following me around, expecting me to fill her up with activities and attention.  Last week, I was able to channel some of that desire for company by having her help me process and dehydrate the abundance of apples my mother-in-law gave me.  The surprising thing was that her help actually made things go faster!

Now, if she were only so enthusiastic and helpful about sweeping the floors, folding laundry, and doing the dishes . . .


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