Monday, September 29, 2014

Turning 11

I may have talked about this before, but when Anne Marie was a baby, she was sooo easy and content.
I would usually know when nap time should be over, but she would never wake up crying. I would always have to go up to her room just to find her laying there, happily staring up at the ceiling.
I have since learned that her personality gives her an ability and a desire to be alone. She recharges by having time to herself.

At the time, I thought it was my good parenting and Babywise. Babywise helped with a schedule, but her content nature is all her. 
It's an enlightening day when you finally realize that your children are born exactly who they should be;)

Anne Marie was my smallest child and my earliest. I delivered her 3 weeks early and she was 8 lbs. The nurses were all commenting on what a good size she was, but we couldn't believe how little she seemed compared to her siblings. Everyone else was close to or over the 9lb mark. So she felt teensy;)

That was 11 years ago. 

Since then she has still stayed on the petite size, but wonderful things come in small packages. She is still easily content and just a sweet, wonderful girl to be around. 

She also likes to be in charge and she frets when she isn't. It will be a great tool for being a mother some day. But right now I hope she can relax and just worry about the things that she is actually in charge of. 

She also shares a love of all things Beatles with her sister Kate, our other easily content child. Beatles music is relatively mellow, just like them. 

In staying with love of all things Beatles, she wanted a strawberry fields cake. I did my best to accommodate.

 Anne Marie is lucky to have a cousin who is only a few weeks younger than her. They are good friends and we love living near her now.

 Oh, and all things Doctor Who. That is a family thing. We all love the Doctor.

10 things we love about Anne Marie

1. As I have mentioned, she is so easily content. Sometimes I have to really drag out of her what SHE actually wants because she is so willing to let other people have their way. We are working on balance between the two things, but to not be instantly fussy when you don't get what you want is a gift.

2.She consistently tries to do what's right. Progress not perfection is my personal motto and I share it frequently with my kids. Heavenly Father does not expect us to be perfect, he expects us to try and give it our best, and Anne Marie lives up to this.

3. She is a fantastic soccer player. I have this on the list because it is so fun to see her love something so much and be good at it. And it is wonderful as a parent to see your children excel at things they enjoy.

4. She is the best big sister to Henry and Nora. Whenever she is gone, they both tell us, "Its no fun without Anne Marie here." They love to play with her and she is so kind and patient with them.

5. She is so creative. You could hand her empty toilet paper rolls, some pipe cleaner and markers and some blank paper and she would have a farm and 8 different animals created within an hour. I love that about her. And I feel bad because that is NOT one of my talents so I don't share in the fun hardly ever. So I just try and provide the materials and get out of her way:)

6. When she is needing a hug or some love she will just come over and plop herself on me. I like that she does that. Not everyone can voice what it is they need, and so when she feels like that she is comfortable enough and confident enough in my love for her to just let me know some other way.

7. She is such a pre-teen! It's awesome. I love hearing the drama of the day and the way she talks with her friends. She is different from Kate and Julia this way and I am enjoying that they are all their own person. The one thing that unites them is that they are all nice girls, even if they view school and life different sometimes.

8. She is always thinking of other people. Again, like with number 1, we are working on balance. But it is amazing to watch how genuinely concerned she is with how other people are doing, what they need, how they are feeling.

9. She is starting to find her voice, like, her actually singing voice and it is beautiful! Again, it is just wonderful and fills me with joy as a parent to see my children discover things about themselves. It is lovely.

10. Anne Marie wants to be with her family. She loves us AND likes us. What more could I ask for?

It is a privilege to be Anne Marie's mom. I feel so blessed to be able to raise her, that Heavenly Father trusted me with this most precious child.

Happy Birthday Anne Marie!!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why I still make my teenagers' lunches

Every day I make 7 sandwiches. 2 for Charlie because he has swim practice after school.

I set the sandwiches out and then the kids can grab the side choices that they want. We put it in the lunch boxes or brown paper sacks and off they go to school.

I don't really love it. But I no longer hate it.

I use to dread waking up in the morning and having to make lunches for school. In fact it use to make me feel very grumpy.

As long as they are in elementary school I have made their lunch. As they got older, I began to find reasons why I didn't have to help them as much.

And then this year my attitude has changed.

I imagine there are a lot of parents who feel that it is important for kids to make their own lunches/breakfasts. Maybe to teach them independence, or that other people aren't there to serve them, or whatever reasons they may have. And a lot of kids have to because their parents have to leave for work.

But this is not about other people's children. This is not a judgement about what other families do. This is about my family.

And I make their lunches.

My kids are all good students. Kate and Julia have straight A's. They go to early morning seminary. They are both in AP classes.  Kate has a job, is Key Club treasurer, Laurel Class President and takes piano lessons. Julia is in FBLA, the school play, takes voice lessons, is Assistant Chamber Choir Treasurer. The list goes on and on.

Charlie is on swim team and is working toward his Eagle scout award. Anne Marie takes piano lessons and plays on the soccer team. They both get good grades.

The point is, they know how to manage their lives and they are capable enough to make their own lunches.

But do you realize how busy the above items makes them? Kate was up til 2:30 doing homework for one of her 4 AP classes and she works after school today. Anne Marie has soccer til 7 on Mondays and Wednesdays and games on Saturdays. Charlie swims every day after school and has scouts on Wednesday nights. Julia has play practice every week.

So if I, as their mother, who does not have to work, can ease their burden in any way, then I can get my hiney out of bed early enough to make them breakfast and get their lunches ready. I am not coddling them, or enabling them for future slackery. I am serving them and helping them because I love them.

They will grow up and go to college and get married and I seriously doubt they will be too paralyzed to go to work or finish their homework simply because I made their lunches.

I have taught them to do their laundry, clean bathrooms, help out. But yes, I do their laundry for them til they are 12 and even after that when they need the help.

I have taught my kids some of the basics of cooking but I still make dinner most of the time.

They are only in our homes for a short time. We need to teach them the basics of taking care of themselves and managing their lives. But isn't it also important to teach them that we can be selfless and serve others without any thought of being given something in return?

So that is why I make their lunches. I can't do their homework for them, or deal with kids at school for them, or accomplish things on their behalf. But I can serve them. And hopefully they will learn as much, or hopefully more,from that as they will from being taught household chores.

Friday, September 12, 2014

When you can't sleep

Jeff and I have had some things are our collective married mind lately. Nothing serious, but just decisions that need to be made about buying a house, staying in the country or moving closer to town.

We have talked round and round about it. We have a couple of options, one of which I can't talk about  because it involves other people and no final decisions have been made. 

But after a lot of discussion we felt like we had decided what direction we wanted to go. 

And then we couldn't sleep. 

Midnight came and went and still no sleep for either of us. Most likely because once our minds were pretty made up, all that it would mean kept circulating in our heads-possibilities, logistics and such.

Finally at 12:30 we decided sleep was not coming and so we went on a drive and get cookies. From McDonalds.
I know, I know. But there is not much open in a town like Ellensburg past midnight

So we got our cookies, and drove around for a while. Long enough to feel settled and able to go home and sleep. 

But it was fun while it lasted.

At 8:30 last night I could have easily fallen asleep, I was so tired. But I had to get kids to bed. Why is it, even when we are so tired, that pressing matters keep our minds buzzing? I don't know the answer but I do know I am grateful to have someone that I am happy to stay up all night with:)

Life continues to be an adventure.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Nora turns 6

First of all, I will be really excited when we get our camera fixed. My phone just does not take the same quality and speed of photos.  But, at least I have it, right? 

So in July, a day came that I can hardly believe. And I will say that for every birthday for the rest of her life.
Nora turned 6. 
I don't know how to describe how that makes me feel. I look at her and I still see the tiny baby wrapped in a pink blanket six years ago.
So it is hard to fathom how six years could have gone by so quickly, so delightfully, full of so much joy and blond hair bouncing and belly laughs. 

I have written before about Nora joining our family here. She was meant to be in our family.
Every day is so fun with her and I know we all love her to death and can't imagine our lives without her.

I think being the youngest child would have some definite perks. While yes, mommy and daddy are a little more tired than when Kate was 6, we are also more patient and know that a lot of things aren't that big of a deal. 
And she has 5 older siblings who adore her. The girls dote on her more than the boys. Charlie likes to argue with her. It's hilarious. I am always asking him why a 12 year old boy would argue with his 6 year old sister. He has no answer for me. It just is.
Nora and Henry are best buds. They are only 22 months apart so they don't remember life without each other.

Anne Marie is the fun, creative older sister who also goes RUNNING to comfort whenever Nora makes the slightest inclination that she is hurt or bothered in any way. 

And then Kate and Julia are the other mothers to her. Old enough to remember her as a tiny baby, to have changed her diaper and enamored by her. Even if they do think she is a bit spoiled;) 

See? Lucky little girl.

But she makes it so easy to love her. She smiles and laughs easily. She is so grateful for anything you do for her. She apologizes easily to others and she loves to help and seems to be very good at helping others feel happy. 

And it is so fun to give her presents!

This was the year for a Frozen party. She loves the movie as does every other girl in the world. So you would think finding Frozen themed party decor would be easy, right? No way. We had to hunt. But we succeeded and she was a happy little girl.

I love my family. And I am grateful daily for each and every one of my children. It is a privilege and a joy to be their mother. 

10 reasons we love Nora

1. She loves to snuggle. She will ask me to read to her and snuggle on my bed at night. How can I say no? I can't.
2. She is sweet and kind but when she gets mad she finds somewhere deep down that comes exploding out. It doesn't happen very often, but woo hee is it something!
3. Her siblings are her best friends. She loves spending time with all of them.
4. She will help whenever I ask. They all do at this age, but I still love it for as long as it lasts.
5. She seems to innately know when someone needs her to rub their arm or tell them she loves them, or if we need a hug. It's pretty adorable.
6. She will try almost anything I make for dinner. Since we have been vegan it's a little tougher for her, but she really does try.
7. Her smile is infectious. It lights up a room and her dimples need to be kissed!
8. She has always been easy to put to bed. She never went through the phase of coming out a million times. 95 percent of the time, when I put her to bed, she stays there.
9. She tells the truth. Its not easy for her all the time, but she wants to do the right thing.
10. She simply has us all wrapped around her finger. Especially me, I admit. There is something about her that makes a person warm and fuzzy on the inside when you are around her. It's one of her gifts. And it's a good one.

Happy Birthday darling Nora!

Friday, September 5, 2014

We have a young man in our house

This last March, (Yes, I am REALLY behind), my darling first son, the one who could not be in my presence without being smothered with kisses, the one who had more energy and determination than any child I have ever known, turned 12.

He has grown up so much. In fact, he didn't want presents, just money so that he could buy whatever he wanted. Not surprisingly, he was very generous with his birthday money and with the money he had earned from his paper route. "I'll buy pizza for everyone Mom." "If we go to the store, I will buy everyone candy."

It's usually food he offers;) But I have a theory about people who are generous with their money-they always have it. They get what they give. And it's true with Charlie, he always seems to have money.

In April, instead of going to the San Juan Islands with his 6th grade class, he chose to spend 2 days camping with his dad. So Jeff took off from work and they headed out, just the two of them.

Charlie is a remarkable boy. He has an ability to memorize entire bits from Jim Gaffigan and Brian Regan. He never loses anything. Seriously. He always knows where everything he owns is. And he is not messy. His room has always been the easiest to clean. He had a girl at school ask him to be boyfriend/girlfriend with him. He told her that he liked her but that he couldn't date til he was 16. She said, "Well, your parents don't have to know." And he let her know that we weren't the only reason he wouldn't do it. And then he came home and told me, cuz he tells me everything.

 He also really hates swearing. Like, really, really hates it. At the beginning of last year, some kids asked him to sit with them at lunch. He liked them, but they swore a lot. He asked them not to. They tried, but couldn't seem to do it. So he went and sat somewhere else. And when one of them came to ask him why he wasn't sitting with them, he told them honestly, "You swear too much."

I was amazed  that he was confident enough, as a brand new sixth grader, to tell a 7th grade boy the truth like that. And he didn't give a second thought to it.

He is working towards his Eagle Scout award. I forget how far he is, cuz I was never a scout, but he is right on course. We are really proud of him for it and grateful that he is so focused and truly loves doing the right thing.

Charlie is also amazing to his sisters. He has his very normal older brother moments, but even those are mild. And if anyone else were to say or do anything rude to one of his sisters? He would not hesitate to defend them. Kate and Charlie especially have a bond. Maybe it's because she is the oldest so the distance is far enough that she CAN tell him what to do. But he will let her kiss him and hug him and half the time I am telling those two to calm down;)

He is simply an awesome, good, kind, righteous young man who loves his family and who is a supreme goofball. But how else could anyone survive in this family without a bit of quirkiness:

We love you Charlie!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Organize lovely-A bulletin board for our crazy, beautiful life.

That is a name of one of my Pinterest boards. I call it organize lovely because other than functioning better, organizing should allow your space to be lovely. Right? Organized=Lovely. The end.

So this last year with 6 children in school, I found that I always had a pile of papers that had to be signed, looked at, returned, what have you. It was annoying. Especially because I hate piles and clutter. But alas it was never ending.

So this summer, when those papers weren't coming home, I happily looked at the clean counter and thought, "Never more. I will not have piles of papers!"

So I had to come up with a solution.

In our entry way we have this adorable little desk. It had snazzy little mirrors above it, creating a nice decorated little space that did absolutely nothing but look good.

We never sat there except for the occasional playing school, and it was just a constant hot spot where people unloaded papers and odds and ends. I don't have a picture of it. Which is sad, cuz when clean it was cute. But again, without function or purpose.

I knew that it would be a perfect command center if I could find just the right way to organize it while still making it lovely enough to be one of the first things people see when they come in our home.

And since my budget was, as always, about 20 bucks I searched around until I found this handy little tutorial for a bulletin board using foam insulation board instead of cork board. You can buy a huge piece that weighs about a pound at Lowes or Home Depot for 8 dollars. You can cut it yourself with a utility knife, or you can nicely ask the guy helping you to do it. Your choice. I chose getting help:)

I chose a size of 40 inches wide and 45 inches high. It fit the area and gave me plenty of space to organize our lives.

I then chose a piece of fabric that was sturdy enough to recover when a thumb tack was removed, without being too heavy to actually push through the fabric. Make sense?

From there I just followed her instructions and it turned out great.

I also love the look of nail heads/upholstery tacks but I like not spending very much money. So I bought a package each of silver and white tacks and spent the good part of an hour tacking them around the entire perimeter.

I found awesome mini clothes pins and gold clothes pins at Walmart and hot glued them to the fabric.

                                        Dollar buckets from Target always come in handy.

I bought a great desk sized calendar for the whole family's activities, which even with just about one per person, it really adds up! Now we can all check the calendar and see whats what. 

It makes me happy every time I sit there. It's kind of become my space and it seems everyone innately knows not to put ANYTHING on that desk because I have not had to remind anyone-I think my "reminders" are what they are really afraid of. ;) 

Also, I love birds. Sorry. I do. And though it has nothing to do with this post, I possess a high number of bird type decor in my house. It's been that way for years now. I've been thinking about branching out into other creatures, maybe a fox or two, but I just can't seem to do it. 

And I believe that as a reward for my love of feathered friends, a mama robin decided to build her nest on one of the beams of our front porch.

The babies have grown up and gone now, but we felt honored that a little piece of our home made her feel safe to have her babies.

Also, did you know that a robin will totally abandon her nest when you open your front door? She will fly off to the safety and distance of the front lawn and leave her eggs undefended, screeching at you the whole time, but from afar.

I was surprised by that. If I was a mama bird and someone came near my nest? Well, lets just say there would be no long distance screeching.

It's nice to be back by the way. I forgot how much I loved to blog. And oh, there is so much to tell and play "catch up" with. See you soon.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Starting Over

This last year was good and wonderful, but also rough and difficult. Aren't most years like that?

We moved and with that came making new friends, dealing with new things and coming together as a family.

Experiencing last year makes us all excited for this year to start, to feel fresh and new and bright with new opportunities.

Being mindful of that, Jeff and I talked a  lot about happiness, where it comes from, how to keep happiness flowing in our lives. And the answer we came up with is gratitude. Being grateful, despite our circumstances, despite our challenges, brings a light into our lives that helps crowd out the dark and illuminate our paths.

I read a talk by Elder Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the title jumped out at me since Jeff and I had been talking about this very thing:  Grateful in Any Circumstance

And we decided to make it this year's Family Theme for the new school year. I presented it at last night's back to school feast. Which was pizza, cuz we are obsessed with it lately. And our treat was apple juice with dinner since we have cut treats to only once a week. Usually.

As a family we watched part of Pres. Uchtdorf's talk and then we talked about gratitude, how we get out of life what we expect. Everyone shared things they are grateful for and we made a plan to discuss, every night at dinner, what we were grateful for that day. 

Then each child received one of these for their locker, and we hung one up on the bulletin board. (That I made! and will post about later)
(That picture of Jeff and I was taken at our luncheon right after we got married in the Seattle Temple. Yes, I know we look like babies. *sigh*)

Then of course after our talk about gratitude, we were blessed with a seriously amazing, full double rainbow. 
It gave me a little thrill to see it. 

Then this morning came, all too soon. Good bye to summer, hello to routine and quiet days and a clean house;)

First day of school pictures are a must. But I refuse to have them hold a sign. I don't know why. 
AndI am not a bit biased when I say that my children are the most beautiful on the planet. 

 Side note, Henry has the HARDEST time just smiling for a photo. He always has to look silly. But this one made the cut cuz Jeff had just told him to smile like he would at a girl he wanted to kiss. Girls are still icky apparently.

  This last one was silly just for Henry. It was the only way I could get him to smile, sort of, for the first.

 This year is going to be good. Jeff has a part time job teaching at the local University so extra money will make things easier. We are all choosing to be grateful, which means there is always a silver lining. I have learned how to manage the depression that was pretty debilitating this last year, hence my lack of posts and the topic for a future post-which means its easier to get out of bed. And life in general is just fantastic. Not perfect by any means, but fantastic.

And I have learned, that just as with decorating, life does not have to be perfect to be beautiful!

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