Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Natalie the 4 Year Old

True or False: We got Natalie's eyebrows waxed and colored for her birthday. 
Answer: False
But those stickers sure look awesome don't they?
Natalie's birthday was also the first day of school. We had done a little celebrating as a family on Saturday night with Natalie's choice of movie (Chicken Run) and choice of treats (M&Ms and chocolate ice cream). Since the kids wake up around 6, we ended up having plenty of time to open presents in the morning before walking to school. Emmy was helpful as always. 
Natalie, Emmy, and I had a fun little day together that included spending some birthday money at Toys R Us and a Happy Meal lunch. She also got to go play at her friend Jane's house in the afternoon. Once Nate was home from work, we had dinner and moved on to the cake and ice cream. Does Natalie love Hello Kitty? No. Did she request a Hello Kitty cake? No. I just thought it was a doable cake, so I chose it for her. :)
I might be "done" with the whole birthday cake thing. It's certainly not my strong point, as evidenced here, but mostly, we just don't get all that excited about cake. Here's my idea: sit down with each kid before their birthday and show them a ton of dessert ideas and pictures from the internet and they choose one for us to try on their birthday.
All day I wanted a nice little picture of Natalie with her hair done and her face clean. But that's not my Natalie. This is.
What else about our Natalie?
  • Still completely and totally attached to her pink blanket. I have to do some thinking on this one...I am trying to decide how to continue to handle her love for it. Same with the thumb sucking.
  • She is a really good eater for the most part. Her favorite snacks are string cheese, grape tomatoes, bananas and nutella, yogurt and granola, carrots with ranch, and milk. 
  • Although Jansen was the early reader, I see Natalie possibly being the bookworm. She loves to make up the words to her books, have them read to her, or just look at the pictures.
  • I am so lucky to have such an imaginative child. She plays incredibly well on her own. I rarely have her ask me to play with her. She loves Littlest Pet Shops and other small animals.
  • She plays very messy though. Lots of nests, piles, scraps of paper, etc. 
  • She loves to be outside. She asks all the time to go camping, and loves to hike, bird watch, and get dirty. 
  • She wakes up between 6 and 6:30 and usually comes semi-running out of her room yelling Emmy's name...who is our early riser.
  • She can be emotional and sensitive. She responds so well to positive words and needs hugs a lot. Hugs calm her down the quickest when she is upset.
  • She loves to stuff odds and ends from around the house in envelopes and tells me who to send them to. I should probably really send them. Who wouldn't love a screw, a bead, a gum wrapper, and a bobby pin?
  • She can get really annoyed with Emmy, but she is also so sweet with her. Oftentimes when we get in the car to run an errand, Natalie will bring a sippy a cup of water for Emmy, all on her own.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We Went to School

First off, I wanted to record something Jansen said at the meet and greet last Friday. We found his classroom and had introduced ourselves to his teacher, Ms. Roach. Jansen was looking all around the classroom, and after spotting a word wall he said to me, "One of my favorite words is up there!"
Ms. Roach overheard and asked, "Oh? Which one?"
"Destroy," Jansen answered.
She said, "Oh yeah, we try not to do a lot of that huh."
I just laughed and hopefully she will find out quickly that he is not going to be a destructive first grader.

School doesn't start until 9:00 this year, so we had PLENTY of time to get ready and get going this morning. 
I just love wondering what little thoughts are going through his head when he poses. I know he has a specific idea in mind, like, I bet this will make me look really strong.
We gathered kids and moms along the way and made our trek to school. Very hot day.

My favorite moment from the first day of school: I'm getting ready to leave and Jansen is lined up and waiting patiently at the dot assigned to his teacher. As I start to walk away he says, "Mom, I'll share!"
"Ok!" I yelled back. And then I realized I had no idea what he was referring to. "Share what???" I asked.
"My crayons! I'll share my crayons!" he called back to me.
Oh how that tugged at my heart strings. Such a sweet thing to say.
He looks a little nervous here, but at this point he said he was actually pretty excited. Thank goodness.

All the moms and stroller bound monkeys.
In the last few weeks, each time I have thought about Jansen going to first grade, my stomach has done a flip. Having to pack him a lunch REALLY weirded me out and made me sad. He's supposed to be eating a sandwich on his blue plate at the counter watching Wild Kratts with me! It's been hard. And at the same time, I feel good about things. It's going to be a fun year.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Campout and Calling

A few weeks ago Nate went on a 5-day backpacking trip with the scouts. When asked by someone in the ward about his favorite campout of the year, he gave this answer: 

No campout can rival the 5-day High Adventure campout out in King's Canyon National Park, on Aug 1-6, 2011.  How can you forget carrying a pack weighing a third to half your body weight over 21 miles and about 5000 feet elevation gain?  That alone accounts for a grueling, man-building experience!!!  But try adding in unbelievably beautiful mountains, fishing and swimming in ice-cold but crystal-clear alpine lakes, slinging rocks, capture-the-flag, hearty meals, plenty of flatulence, sleeping in lean-to shelters, swatting mosquitoes, getting fried by the sun, campfire devotionals, a testimony meeting at the base of a majestic cliff and pristine lake, and much more.  It was definitely a trip that none of the boys or leaders will ever forget.  





Nate hates when I do things like this, but I want to document my feelings and life right now, so he'll have to get over it! :) 

Nate is currently the Young Men's president in our ward. I had no idea what an intense calling this would be. He is gone every Sunday morning for meetings (which means I get me and 3 kids ready for and to 9 o clock church by myself). He is gone, on average, for a couple hours after church each Sunday. Tuesday nights are activity night. There is a campout almost every month. There's youth conference, presidency meetings, scout trainings...I could go on and on. 

More than any other time in my life, I have struggled with the amount of time this calling has required. There are moments I have been mad and bitter. Times when I tell him it's just too much. I've cried. But we find balance, and we find great joy in this calling as well.

I am so grateful for a faithful and devoted husband. Bottom line is this: we are blessed when we serve. Life is less complicated, and there is more happiness when we serve. He completely and totally fulfills his role as father and husband first, and then gives every bit that is left to those young men. He had to submit something for a yearbook about his calling and I wanted to have it on my blog. Here it is:

What is your favorite thing about your calling?  As Young Men's President, I get the sacred privilege of being around the Young Men.  Why is that a privilege?  Because I get to see them grow in their testimonies and in their relationship with the Savior.  I get to see new deacons get ordained and start their lifelong journey of Priesthood service.  I get to see the Priests lead the other young men by example and then eventually get ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood.  I get to help guide them in Scouts as they venture out and learn outdoor skills, career possibilities, and serve their community.  I get to play Capture the Flag with them.  I get to take many of them to the temple for their very first time as they perform baptisms for the dead, and see them sit there and take in the special Spirit that is in the temple.  I get to see them help each other through very strenuous challenges like carrying full-gear packs over huge mountain passes.  I even get the special blessing to see an occasional young man get baptized and join our quorums as a new convert, and see how the other young men take him in as if they had known each other forever.  The list goes on and on.  There really isn't a way to briefly state why I love my calling, but anyone who has served the Young Men (or Young Women) of the Church knows that these are indeed very special children of Heavenly Father, and just being with them and feeling their strength and being part of their growth is a huge blessing.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mommy in the Making

I came into Natalie's room during her "quiet time" one afternoon and found her baby all tucked in.

Then I found her, sound asleep here. Baby gets the nice soft bed, she took the floor. Looks to me like this one has the makings of a great mom. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Modern Day Noah's Ark

Apparently there was a flood. I don't think there was a lot of damage. I'm usually pretty good about checking cnn.com, msnbc.com, foxnews.com, etc and not a one of them gave a heads up about the event. But Natalie knew, and she was prepared. Anything of value in our home was loaded on her ark, and I didn't even  end up having to report anything to our insurance agency. Thank goodness for my astute little soon-to-be-4 year old.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Walking!

Emmy ended her 11th month of life with a bang. She started taking some steps a few weeks ago, and now she's really walking. 
video

video
She has 7 teeth...and she likes to dig them into my shoulder and BITE. It's not a real bite yet, but it hurts still the same! Emmy is not a big eater. It works best for us if I just give her bits and pieces of things throughout the day. Her best meal is probably breakfast. Thankfully she has learned to suck through a straw and smoothies are a favorite or hers. She also enjoys milk soaked pieces of cereal like Life and Crispix.
I finally got rid of that early morning bottle I was feeding her. Now I give her one when she first wakes up (usually about 6:15) and I lay her on the pillow next to me so I can rest for 10 more minutes. After that, it's me and her, together, all day. She's my sidekick and my appendage. She is fascinated with birds in the sky, loves cats and dogs and baby dolls, and the sandbox is her very favorite place to be.
 She is definitely starting to have preferences and is letting us know what she wants with pointing, sounds, leaning, etc. No words yet besides "mama."
 Never in a million years would I have thought to use a stool this way. Emmy loves to sit in it like this. I guess it's just the thing to do when you are 11 months.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lunch with Dad

The drive from our house to Nellis AFB is a little depressing. There's a Wal-Mart I won't go into alone, a few MEGA ADULT SUPERSTORES!, many people walking down the street who are really down on their luck (and many homeless), etc. But it still brightens our afternoon once we get on base and get to have lunch with Nate. It's just peanut butter sandwiches, and we often sit outside in the hot sun, but we love to do it.
Before we met up for lunch I went to the commissary, which is basically just a supermarket that is on a military base. I had never been there before, and I had heard from friends I was missing out. They have great prices there. I bought some potato chips because a peanut butter sandwich becomes a grand and delicious meal to me if I add some Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream chips to it. 

There's that beautiful blue sky again!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cruise with Me, Baby (in the voice of Gwyneth Paltrow)

There's nothing wrong with letting your hair down every once awhile.
Hopping in the car to go cruisin'.
Letting baby sister take the wheel for a minute.
Pick up a friend or two along the way.
Blast some tunes.
And hang your head out the window.
By the way, hanging your head out the window reminds me of three things.

1. A home video I made about 15 years ago mimicking Alanis Morissette in her music video Ironic. I hung my head wildly out the window for most of it.

2. In high school, a friend and I had a contest to see who could keep her head out the window the longest. We were on the freeway. And it was sleeting. What a rush.

3. My cousin Scotty used to have longer hair than he does now. He was once hanging his head out the window a wee bit, and I rolled the window up enough to trap some of his hair in the window. He was stuck, and I was left with no choice but to accelerate and then brake. Accelerate, and then brake. I don't why I did such a cruel thing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

If You Can't Take the Heat...

...then go play in the gym at the church.
In Ohio we would often go play at the church in the dead of winter to get out of the house and to let the kids run their crazies out. In Las Vegas, we go in the dead of summer. It's the perfect thing to do on a killer hot day. Kids + big open area + their friends = a little time for moms to chat as well! 



The other thing to do if you can't take the heat is swim of course. This is Jansen and Natalie with Paisley who will be in Natalie's preschool class this fall. My kids still won't put their heads under the water, but they are getting better and better at swimming.
One afternoon Jansen just spent a lot time rolled up in towels by the side of the pool.


I do love those blue skies. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Growing While They Sleep

Sleep.

The definition has certainly changed since I became a mom. I feel like, for the most part, I don't really do it. I just kind of spent the night in this half awake state and take Natalie to the bathroom, check on someone coughing, rub a back for a few minutes, put a blanket back on, turn on a hall light, listen to see if Emmy will put herself back to sleep, adjust the thermostat, etc. I remember when I was a kid I could walk into my mom's room at any time of night and say her name once and she would answer back. I didn't have to wake her. I can understand that now. 

I was laughing at a Tempurpedic commercial I saw. They boasted that you would not even feel the movement of your spouse as they get out of bed in the morning. Oh please. If only my biggest worry of being woken up was from Nate rolling out of bed in the morning.

Apparently these guys grow when they are sleeping because they just keep getting bigger and bigger.


This one at a particularly fast rate.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Last Week

Nate left for scout camp last Monday night and just a few hours later, Kami arrived to help me survive the week without him. I felt so so lucky that she was able to come. A week without Dad can be disastrous. We started the week off strong by doing 30 Day Shred, but did not finish strong. Things got in the way...like movies and food. Jansen loves to do the workout video. I have been trying to exercise more, and when I do, he almost always joins me. He actually did an entire workout by himself the other day, just for fun.

I was horrible about taking pictures. Here are a couple I got. You'd be hard pressed to find a better shopping buddy than Kami, and we didn't let a few children stop us from hitting the stores. This is what shopping with kids is like...NIGHTMARE. I do not like.
I love me some Ross, but I cannot walk into that place without feeling like I have stolen something, even though I just barely passed through the front doors. Those security guards stand there and greet you and give you the eye, and suddenly I am wondering if I somehow have something in my purse that I didn't buy.
The week flew by. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy

It's one of those days when I feel really happy. I'm a little surprised at my good mood considering Kami left this morning after visiting for a few days, and Nate has been gone since Monday and won't be home till tomorrow night. I'm also a little surprised I feel this way because I woke up soooo nauseous from all the popcorn, licorice, Yorks, and Reese's I ate last night. (We watched Soul Surfer which was a really good movie.) And it's 5000 degrees here, always. 

And maybe my cheerfulness is simply because I crossed a few things off the to do list, and I don't have to make dinner tonight. I could just be happy because that there's still candy left from last night and I have some cute new earrings. But really, I think my high spirits are a result of my all around wonderful life. I love my kids more than they'll ever know, I miss my husband like crazy and am completely in love with him, and I have other family and friends that have me thanking my lucky stars every day. 

I'm trying to take 20 extra seconds in my day and do something with Emmy's hair. She's even sporting some piggies in the last picture. Here are some shots of us girls the past few days:






Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Before You Die

Just passing on a little something Emmy said you need to add to your bucket list.
Suck all the fruit and juice off a mango seed.