Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jesse is Growing Up

Here I am with Shan's baby and then trying to recreate the same pose with Jesse. As you can see, Jesse just isn't a little newborn these days. Don't these two pics just make you laugh?

And, he is finally getting a little chubby. He has always been off the charts on his height, but because his weight was only average for so long, he was kind of a skinny little fella for awhile. He still spits up like a champion, but something must be staying down now because he's recently become a lot more squeazable. He is such a pleasant little man to have. Seriously, not ever one ounce of trouble. Good boy Jesse.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Awful Dilemma

I'm in a bit of a pickle. A bit of a fix, you might say.

Oh, alright, the charade is up. I'm not in a fix. There is no pickle. I just have had . . . maybe . . . kind of . . . a little bit of . . . possibly boring-ish posts lately, and I thought that sounded like a fun way to start a post. I would then go on to tell you the full pickle details. You , in return, would eagerly give me your warmest and best advice. I don't even use those cool phrases in real life though, so you should have known the gig was up the minute you read "pickle."

I suppose, however, if one were to consider, it might not be too utterly difficult to discover some quandary about which they might beg a solution. Whether or not that dilemma could be made to sound interesting is quite another matter. I imagine it would help if it were more than simply about items or appointments. It would, no doubt, add greatly to the scenario to have it involve several individuals -- all of whom stood to be either greatly rejoiced or eternally offended by whatever decision was hinging upon me. It also would certainly excite more of a response if the case were such that one or more individuals were either greatly to be pitied, or perhaps better, despised by their hand in turning matters so very conflicting for me. Of course, at that point, it might no longer be able to be classified as a simple pickle -- which seems to denote a rather trivial dilemma.

Alas, I have no such delicious and gossip worthy situation to report or to plead an opinion on. I imagine that deciding whether or not to get rid of all of the lambs ear in my garden, or to sign Abe up for piano lessons this Summer won't cut it. Oh well, you are all more than welcome -- in fact, you are expressly invited to give me any advice on any topic or involving any terrible fix you could imagine. Go ahead. Let's see what you've got.

Flowers

Don't get all panicky about this new loooong layout. I'm just deciding what I think. It isn't necessarily here to stay (especially because it made the picture placement of older posts all wacky, and my little picture of Abe at the top of my blog looks to overwhelmed all lonely in white space). Besides, you know I don't dare to shake things up much, so . . . like I said . . . just seeing for a minute.

Anyway, there are likely (well, I mean surely) many things of beauty on this earth that I take for granted or neglect to notice. You know, sunsets maybe would be one. I mean pretty much every evening the sky is spectacular. When I took a painting class in 6th grade, I was always aware of sunsets -- mostly because I would look at them and think, "That is crazy! No one would ever think of painting that because it doesn't even look real!" Which of course caused me to marvel at how beautiful. Since, however, I shamefully admit to having noticed far fewer sunsets (except for maybe in Israel where we were always watching sunsets -- which, might partly explain why the lens prescription needed for my eyes doubled during that short four months).

Still, there is one beauty of nature that I never ever fail to notice. Flowers. And bless all of your little hearts who thought to bury your little tulip and daffodil bulbs clear last Fall. I love them! And if you are hoping that anyone even notices or cares that you went to the trouble, know that I do. I find myself looking at the flowers of every house I ever run or drive past. One house in particular that I drive past every day nearly takes my breath away. The house itself is a plain small gray rectangle of a house, but it has tulips of every color just packed all around it. It is seriously something that, I don't know, I guess that I honestly see as one of God's miracles. I love green and mountains, etc. But a flower -- what on earth!? Just a perfectly shaped brightly colored thing -- just real and growing? Amazing.

Once Mike and I went on a hike far off somewhere (I don't know where exactly -- we drove Mike's truck up a miserably bumpy road for almost an hour before even beginning our long hike). As we hiked back down we decided to walk over a hill that wasn't on the path but that lead in the same direction we were headed. As we reached the top and headed down the other side, our eyes met with thousands of red wild flowers. I never would have imagined that a flower growing all on its own off in the middle of nowhere could be so bold and pretty. Can wildflowers really do that? I constantly find myself wishing I could remember exactly when in the year that was so we could go find them again. It seems so quiet and strange to have something so gorgeous just happily growing and dieing all in its own loveliness with no one else there to see it.

Anyway, enough of that. I have a decidedly black thumb. Our yard will be a disaster for some time to come I imagine. My friend Kelly (whose Summer backyard would make even the very most indifferent to nature's beauties swoon) came over the other day out of sheer kindness to give me a little direction. Of course now that she is gone, my confidence is once again wavering. But she told me how I could actually move some little bushes I don't like, and even get rid of some other stuff to make room for things I do want. I was like, "Really?? Can I do that?" Still, she is going to meet me in a week or two at a nursery and help me get a few flowers. She is wise because she sees that I am overwhelmed, so my main goal for this Summer is just to get our front flower bed looking good (yikes, we'll see!!) and then to simply work on weeding the disastrous beds in the back.

Here is a picture of one year when I really had something going on in the flower department. It was in our WA home and truthfully, was laid out rather poorly with big things blocking smaller things and so forth, but I was quite in love with the fact that I'd had so many flowers actually grow!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Caught!

This morning, as I myself was doing a number of busy things, Goldie told me a very long tale. It was rather disjointed, possibly somewhat lacking in plot, and paused numerous times as she got distracted, arranged pretzels into the shape of a dog, and hummed. Still, at the end of this story (if indeed there was an end) Goldie said to me, "Mom, tell me that story."

Confused, I questioned, "What story?"

"The story I just told you," she responded.

"Ummm . . . I . . . uh . . ."

Had I been set up? I felt like it was a trap. I am going to inform my kids that they are not allowed to ever give me, "how good of a mother are you" tests. They will be required to blindly believe I am the best whether my actions and responses warrant such a belief or not.

And another thing. Just who does Jesse think he is trying to look more like a kid than a newborn?

Running and Me

". . . Running hurts, it always has. It teaches us that good things do not come easy. It teaches us that we are capable of more than what we think. It teaches us that hard work will be rewarded . . . Don't expect to learn those life lessons from jogging. Next time you suffer on the roads, suffer proudly. You just RAN!"

I saw this quote from an unknown author today on another blog and had to steal it. It made me smile and reminded me of many of the life metaphors I have discovered through my running. It also made me chuckle because non-runners may be unaware of this, but there is not much worse you can say to a "runner" than, "Hey, I saw you out jogging the other day." True your speed may have been no faster than a jog, but the word is painful -- it somehow implies laziness, ease, and lack of any real effort. It changes what you were doing from significant to pointless. Not that there is no value in someone going for a jog, mind you, it is just that when you think you are running, the word "jogging" is just depressing to hear.

When I was a Freshman in high school I tried out for, and didn't make, the volleyball team. I was crushed. To my limited ninth grade perspective, it seemed the end of the world. It was a horrible embarrassment. If you weren't going to be a cheerleader, then volleyball or soccer were the only other roads to potential coolness, and most of my friends had made the team.

The poor Cross Country coaches, on the other hand, were always trying to increase their numbers, and with no try outs necessary, were only too happy to grab onto those of us who had failed to make other more popular teams. So, despondent and disappointed, I fell back on running. I was good at running. While I didn't run more than the required distances through most of high school, it gave me confidence and involved me in something. I ended up getting the "Gold Watch Athlete of the Year" award at the end of my senior year. It was based on a number of things including number of times placing in state competitions. That maybe wasn't fair, since it is far more easy to place in state when you are participating in multiple individual events (cross country, then hurdles and the 400 during track season) than it is in one large team event like basketball. Still, running helped define me during those high school years and has been one of the few things I have managed to continue doing over the years. To this day, I count that initial volleyball disappointment one of the luckiest blessings of my life.

I have only run three marathons (spaced over ten years), but if you consider that during those same ten years I have also spent 45 months preparing each of these five for the world:





And if you then consider that those pregnancies have also meant countless months of nursing, waking up at nights, and simply trying to find care for them each and EVERY time I want to run, well, then that is fairly impressive.

I have a new goal in mind. It was Mike's idea initially because, while he can't be home as much as I'd like to make running opportunities for me, he is always very supportive. I want to run the Boston Marathon next Spring. Do you know how exciting that would be for me? There are over 20,000 runners. It is hard to explain the excitement in the air at any race, especially a marathon, but to run one that is kind of considered THEE marathon and to be able to have other runners around me the entire race and the roads lined with people for most of the 26.2 miles would be seriously such an amazing experience for me. I would love it. Still, I likely never would have considered it if it weren't for the fact that Mike's parent's are serving a mission in Boston. This would give us the perfect chance to visit them and give me the perfect opportunity to make something so big actually work.

The only catch is, I will need to qualify. I have beat the time necessary to qualify by a full ten minutes in the past, but times are only good for a year, and while I assume I can do it fine again, I've never had a "bad" marathon, and over 26 miles, even a 20 second slow down per mile could ruin my chances. Still, I am planning to run the Top of Utah Marathon this September in hopes that it will be sending me to Boston!



The difficulty, more than running the qualifying time, will be the training. It is frustrating to me because while some people have the time to run, but lack the motivation, I WANT to be running, but seldom have a great opportunity. Obviously I will simply have to make the opportunities, but it won't be easy. It will mean figuring how to go at 5:45 am when I am still up at night with a four month old -- a four month old that often ends up in bed with me during the night and who wakes up the minute I try to pull away from him. It will mean running at nights when the kids are down and Mike is finally home. I love love raising my kids, but those few precious hours from 8:00 pm on are my only time to be with Mike and relax, so giving up some of those hours isn't going to be easy. If I could just run at 7:00 each morning or drop the kids at school and run, it would be so simple for me, and I admit to feeling rather jealous of those who don't have to juggle so much to be able to get out. But I have chosen to have these loads of little people surrounding me. They are my responsibility and my most precious of all things.

So, here is to hoping and hoping my motivation and the fates will align to make this work. Heaven knows it won't be long before I feel that there is another little spirit looking down saying, "Hey, what about me!? I know you are stressed, but I am planning on being yours too." So, if I could just have this year to reclaim my body even just a little bit, to run two marathons in a year (one of them being such an exciting one), and to find the ways to train as hard as I'd like (I'm hoping for five days a week), I will feel so so grateful and blessed. I just want this really badly. I'm gearing up mentally because if I am serious, my training needs to start in May. The running itself isn't what I have to gear up for, it is finding the motivation to do it at very inconvenient and awkward times that I need to be able to handle. I love my kids more than anything in this universe other than Mike, but if I could just have this one me thing work out I will cry with happiness.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Penny talking about Megan, Ruby and Shannon

I thought Shan, Megan and Rhonda would enjoy this. Megan, she had been jabbering about you for some time. Of course when I tried to film her doing it she wasn't so much. Penny is cool because she says lots of real words mixed with gibberish . . . I think she just wants her sentences to sound longer and more sophisticated.

video

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Advertising for Amy

My sister Amy has found another niche for her photography skills. I think it all began when she first practiced pregnancy shots on my lovely Penny filled belly. She has always been our go to for newborn shots, but my nieces Ashley and Kristen were smart enough to begin enlisting her in the delivery room. Why didn't I think of that? They got some amazing pics of those first precious moments. And now anyone can! Blow it up big to read the deal. It is 550, but includes not only two photo shoots, but several blown up big prints, a slideshow AND the entire disc of shots. Not bad.
Also, I thought I'd show you bigger views of two off of the card. (Hmm, they aren't actually that much bigger. I stole them off your blog, Ash. Why are they so puny?) I love love Ashley's expression in that second one -- just that total shock and amazement that a real tiny person all your own suddenly exists in the world.

And, this pic has nothing to do with pregnancy. It is just a favorite of mine. It is one of the graduation shots she took of my nephew Thatcher. Doesn't it just look cool? She has pretty great deals on family photo shoots and stuff too, so pass the word along if you know anyone needing some photography.

Jesse and the Camera/Conference

Jesse is such a content and good little guy. If he didn't spit up more than all my other kids combined (which was already a lot), he would be completely perfect. He giggles and laughs quite readily, but I can't ever catch it on film. I can't even catch a smile on the camera because this is the effect the camera has on him:
It puts him in a total trance.

Sometimes I can almost catch a smile if I hold the camera way out to the side where he can't see it, but even then he won't generally be fooled for long.
But, who needs smiles when they can catch this face:
Lastly, here is the set up Abe arranged for their General Conference watching. They may be loud and not necessarily hear a thing that is said, but I think I have at least accomplished one thing. They genuinely love the idea of conference. They love gathering pictures to color and Legos and setting up a little station to spend the day at. Saturday was a HORRIBLE day with our kids. There was more crying and time outs than in the whole last year combined. (Mostly because they have been fighting so much with each other lately! I hate that. Help!). But, even amidst the drama no one wanted to miss conference. In fact one of Daisy's most tearful pleas to be spared a time out was that she'd miss some of conference.Oops, did I already say "lastly?" Well, really this little video is lastly, which has nothing particularly to do with anything. video

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Activia

I am such a nerd. This post is totally going to sound like a commercial -- but a commercial for what? Am I advertising Activia or my husband? It could be both, but Mike isn't for sale at present, so I guess it is for Activia.

Anyway! Awhile back I had an ulcer. I was quite miserable for a time. Before I knew what the problem was, I was trying to do whatever I could think of to narrow things down for my visit to the doctor (when you look up stomach pain there are roughly 100 trillion things it could be). I even started eating more yogurt -- in case my system was all out of whack (you know, good bacteria low, bad bacteria high) and what better yogurt to do that with than Activia since it promises all kinds of good bacteria and all kinds of digestive tract regulation.

So, I happily ate my little Activias every day and then found out it was an ulcer so I swallowed my 600 antibiotic pills a day (remember how I hate to swallow several pills in a row). Even though I now knew the cause of my pain, I kept eating Activias because I thought to my little self, "Self, all those antibiotics are going to wipe out all your good bacteria too, and then some other opportunistic bad bacteria will take up residence . . . unless of course you out smart the bad opportunists by continuing to dump loads of good "active cultures" in at the same time! Self, you are a genius."

But in the end, ulcer was gone and pain was gone and antibiotics were done and Activia was cast by the way side because really, who buys Activia? No one. Normal people buy Yoplait or, if they live in WA and frequent Winco, the cheap but tasty "Fit and Fruity" yogurts. "Fruit and Fitty"? Something.

Then, Friday night, I went out to eat with some of my old Israel roommates (hooray, girls, I loved it). I eat pretty much always, but apparently I don't generally find the time to sit and eat bread sticks and salad and grilled tasty meats for two plus hours because by the time I returned home I felt so miserable and bloated and uncomfortable that I hardly knew what to do with myself.

At some point, in the midst of my moanings, I began considering that I hadn't actually had these issues when I was faithfully consuming my Activia -- naturally I wondered if their promises about GI regulating and less bloating and the like could have actually been true. I wasn't sure, but at one point I groaned out something to Mike like, "Activia . . . never should have stopped . . . Activia." Now, you should know, that my Mike is the last person in the world to buy into any type of active cultures doing anyone any good, which is why I liked it all the more when Saturday afternoon he returned from running some errands and handed me this:
I can never even think of what to get him for his birthday, but he is so great at knowing any tiny little thing I like that might make me happy. I like him.

Oh, and side note, you know what else I like? I like having people you love. Tonight I am thinking specifically of people who have been a part of your life at some point and then moved on out of it. But it is such a happy thing to have all of these individuals out there in the world that just make you happy. Friday was a busy day full of those people. Not only did Mike and the kids have certain things planned, but some of our WA neighbors came to visit. Here are two of my all time favorite girls/YW/babysitters, Kierstin and McKayla, with my kids.
Then I got to go spend the evening with Sarah and Sarah (and sadly no Jill) -- my roommates from Israel 11 1/2 years ago. We haven't gotten together in 3 or so years, so it was such a happy thing to spend a few hours just talking and talking (and eating, as I mentioned). Driving home that night, and thinking about all the fun people I'd seen that day, I just felt so happy to think of how lucky we are to have relationships and associations and bonds with people from all the different phases of our lives. (We didn't take any pics Friday, but here I am with my three roommates and two home teachers at the Garden Tomb, and then with Sarah and Sarah somewhere in Sinai).

Friday, April 3, 2009

Handle This

All you out there who watch your Super Nanny or read your precious Love and Logic and the like, could you please tell me just how a mother is to respond appropriately to the following?

Abe: Mom, Goldie and I were playing with this balloon with Penny in her room, and she was just so happy, but Daisy came in and told us to get out, and when we said we were here first, she punched me!
Here Abe and Daisy are in happier times -- sharing a brownie. (That's why their faces are messy. My kids faces aren't just always messy . . . then again, maybe they are. The kind of mother whose kids punch each other is probably the kind of mother to never wash their faces).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Haunted Dryer?

I do more laundry than you can shake a stick at. Where did that come from -- more than you can shake a stick at? I don't know, but I like it. Anyway, loads and loads of laundry (no pun intended).

So, with all that laundry, I was more insulted than spooked when my dryer turned "haunted" the last few days. You see, I have a little switch on my dryer that you can turn to "signal on" or "signal off" -- you know, depending on whether or not you want to hear a really loud buzzing sound each time your laundry is dry. I do not want to hear that sound, so mine has always been set to off. But a few days ago, out of the blue, my dryer began ignoring my wishes and buzzing when it was done with its job. Why was this insulting? Well, because I felt like my dryer was suggesting that I am a slacker. Perhaps hinting that I ought to be up and folding a little more quickly. "Hey Lazy," the dryer seemed to taunt, "I've done my job of drying now get crackin' on your part. What, can't handle a few clothes to fold?" But I always do manage to get my laundry done at some point (see all those folded clothes on top). It isn't as if the laundry is a casserole that will burn if I don't take it out the minute it is done. It may get a bit wrinkly, but I've come to accept and love wrinkly so that doesn't matter so much, and I find it highly offensive that my dryer thinks that just because he dries the clothes he now has a say in when I do my part.

Then today, I checked that little knob again -- even though I've checked it a few times since the buzzing began, and lo and behold, it was turned to signal ON! SO now I am left to wonder if dryer ever was truly haunted and judgemental or if I have simply gone crazy . . . which sadly would not be a totally implausible option. You leave me alone, dryer!

P.S. Dear Dryer, Please do not get offended and quit drying my clothes. I really like how you do that.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Little Soldier

I mentioned the little army guy I keep vacuuming up? He was vacuumed up on three separate occasions. Each time the vacuum would do its little crackly sputter of "I don't like this type of thing" and spit him out. He is puny -- not the size of your normal army guy. He is actually only about 1/2 inch. Anyway, after the last close call, I put him safely (or so I thought) on a dresser upstairs. Next thing I know, I am downstairs and I step on something a little poky. Sure enough -- it is the young sniper again. He matches our carpet and it is a bit shaggy, so it really isn't a safe place for the soldier -- unless he is trying to hide from the enemy. The trouble is, contrary to what he might think, the enemy is not other small carpet dwellers who he must hide from. The enemy is a very loud large thing that sucks carpet hiders up and away. His only safety lies in being visible. I bring the fellow to Abe's direct attention -- mentioning just how close he has come to death and that Abe really ought to keep him somewhere safe and I think that is that since Abe is not one to be careless with his precious earthly posessions. But then today, I am doing laundry and I pull out our long lint filter thing only to find the brave little hero hidden in masses of lint! All I could say to the little guy is, "Are you serious!?" We have collected billions of toys by this stage of our kid's lives and many of the toys are very very small. What is going on with this little soldier that it is he, and he alone, having all these close calls? After this final lint episode I find myself feeling oddly protective of him and nervous that soon the hand of fate will neglect him just long enough for his number to be up.

And, in other news -- nice snack, Penny (that's right, she somehow managed to get her hands on a nice block of cheese).
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