We have a way of noticing when people do something for a while with energy. I can NOT think of a word to say that, but here's what I mean: If a child seems to eat a lot more on a particular day or at a particular meal we say "You're an eating machine!" or if someone is dancing and dancing and dancing we'll say "You're a dancing machine!" or they power through 500 pages of a thick book and they are called a "reading machine."
Lily received a Build-A-Bear kit for her birthday 2 months ago which we have brought out whenever Tyra and I get out our knitting for her to work by us. It's tricky and Mom is not adept at tying knots and helping tiny fingers with a plastic needle sewing the front and back of the bear's fur together. Lily usually can handle it for around 10 minutes before needing a break for the day. But today she was clingy and needed to be on my lap and instead of reading stories I decided to see if we couldn't finish sewing up that bear. She stayed with it through well over 30 minutes. Tyra came by checking up on Lil's progress every now and then and finally towards the end she exclaimed "Wow, Lily! You're a sewing machine!"
Tyra never seemed excited about doing a birthday party with friends this year, so we decided not to have one. She was excited, however, to get to choose a restaurant for dinner. She chose Chinese, the buffete in Rockville with a sushi bar too. This place keeps us all happy. Tom and I mostly get the sushi. Tyra mostly eats the Lo Mein (her favorite) and Thomas went to town on the General Tsao's chicken and Beth picks around at some french fries and fried rice. She'd take one bite of most anything we offer her, say "Yum" before she'd really chewed, then say no thanks to another bite of it. But Lily was the best. She ate the mussels out of the shells, the baby octopus, the squid, etc.
Back home, I had made some cream puffs per Tyra's request. She was so sweet and encouraging when they kept getting flatter and flatter as they cooled. She told me how they were great, and she loved the chocolate pudding center and the whip cream center, etc. But she couldn't resist calling them "cream flats" instead of cream puffs. We all enjoyed that.
We played some of the games I remember enjoying when I was about Tyra's age, but that at her friend parties she has been too worried about how they'd go to want to try them. We played the Flour Game where you put a cup of flour on a plate and place an item on the top of it (an M&M would be better than the penny I used since I remembered that from my day.) Then you take turns making single cuts, top to bottom, until it the item falls, and the person who made it fall has to get it out with no hands. We also played the Candy Bar Game: A hershey's bar is placed in a baking pan with 2 socks and 1 or 2 butter knives. Then you roll a die and if you get a 6 you get to put on the socks and try to open the candy bar and cut off a piece and eat it before someone else rolls a 6. I don't know how Tom managed, but he ate almost all of it. He always has been good at games :)
Two weeks after Halloween, our children still have candy. In this phase of candy consumption, most on the "good" candy is gone, so the "bad" candy is slowly being consumed out of a sense of duty. Last year we resolved this by requiring each child to throw away one piece of candy each time they ate one piece of candy. This unfortunately requires a lot of policing and reminding, and I did not feel up to the task this year.
DISLAIMER: I must say the the following was performed without the supervision of my wife (she was babysitting for a friend this evening). While she may like the results, she often doesn't condone my methods.
So how to get rid of the candy? This year I came up with a bold new idea. I asked Su to buy a bunch of the good candy that was cheap after Halloween. Here was the deal: no one got to partake of the new candy, until they relinquished their rights to their Halloween candy and turned it all in to the authorities (me). Of course, Tyra and Thomas mocked my plan and declared they would never give in, even after I ate five Reeses in a row. Lily was convinced that she would do whatever Tyra was doing.
That left Beth. That poor girl's candy supply had suffered the most from parental and sibling raiding already. So she correctly determined that it was a win for her. She declared that she would turn in her candy, even as Tyra was proclaiming, "Don't give in Beth! It is just a trick! You will lose all of your candy!" Instead of chewing old bubble gum and sucking on Smarties, Beth was now feasting on an assortment of chocolate bars.
"Would you like another Reeses Beth? How about a Three Musketeers? You can have as many as you want on the day you turn in your candy." So Beth feasted and feasted. Yes, I know this isn't great, but I was hoping this was only a one day affair. Within a half an hour, the cracks started to appear. Tyra approached me and asked, "Can I trade some of my candy for the good stuff?" "No." "But I have some good candy that I don't want to lose!" "Then eat it now, and then turn in your bucket." Beth came up and asked for another Reeses, which I happily provided. "Dad! You're killing me!", Tyra proclaimed.
At this point, Tyra and Thomas each sat down with their buckets and started eating. At first they enjoyed it, but by the tenth piece of candy they were each slowing down. Thomas said, "Dad, I don't want to eat all my candy right now." "Then don't.", I replied. "But I don't want you to eat it all." "Then don't give it to me." "But I want some of the new candy." So again I reminded him of the deal, and told him to decide which candy was better, his candy or my candy. "Your candy.", he muttered under his breath. He ate a couple pieces more and then said, "Fine. I give up. Here's my candy.", and dumped the remainder of his candy into my bag. After eating a Reeses or two, I asked him if he wanted any more. "No. I feel sick.", he replied.
Tyra was dying. Reeses were one of her favorites and everyone was "enjoying" them except for her. She knew the end was near. She had a couple more choice pieces and then turned in her candy. She also ate 2-3 Reeses and then "hit the wall". Yes, we were all close to a sugar coma at this point. Lily came in and couldn't believe that her heroine had caved. She was prepared for a long drawn out engagement. "I thought you weren't turning in you candy!", she scolded Tyra. Tyra responded with a shrug. "OK, then I am turning in my candy.", Lily declared. Since Lily didn't eat any of her candy before turning it in, she enjoyed eating the new candy bars much more than her siblings.
Game over! No more private stashes of candy. No more endless sucking of lolipops, jolly ranchers, lifesavers, etc. Just four kids sick from eating candy.
Like most parents, I enjoy secretly raiding my children's Halloween candy each night after they have gone to sleep. You just take a little here and a little there. They don't seem to notice if you take things slow. You are just helping them, right? They don't need that much sugar, right?
Well, a couple of days after Halloween, after the parent's supply of candy had run out, I went hunting. I pulled out Thomas' Halloween bucket and noticed a folded piece of paper on top. "What this?", I thought, slowly unfolding the paper. I was a little surprised to see an itemized list of the contents of the bucket, which looked as if it had been updated and re-inventoried each day after minor candy consumption.
I showed it to Susan and we had a good laugh. She had already seen it. Twice. Neither of us dared take anything. I wonder if that would have worked on my mom?
I could write the letter K. I walked all the way home from the lake. I unlocked the back door. I washed my hair in the shower. I rolled my tape on the first try.
After Lily said "Tell Dad that" for the 5th (at least) time today I told her we better write down all the things she'd done for the first time today. We decided to write it here rather than just on a piece of paper that will get lost.
For Joyschool I took the 4 kids over to Greenbelt National Park for a nature hike, as our new unit is on the Joy of the Earth. We had a fantastic time, even with my fire not really starting (I only brought a glossy magazine insert for paper which mostly just turned to ash without making much of a flame, and the wood was still pretty damp from all the rain we've been getting lately) and the kids were darling. They loved looking through their nature viewers we'd made on Monday at any thing someone would point out as particularly interesting. We saw some neat fungi, ferns with spores on the back, mushrooms, bugs, a worm, etc. Anyway, I was cutting it pretty close to time to return home in time for the boys to be picked up at noon when another lady by our van told me that my front tire looked pretty flat. Sure enough. I contemplated for about 5 seconds the merits of changing it to the spare on my own, confident that I could yet equally confident that it would not be quick or easy. Then I happily remembered that this was Tom's day to stay around the house and help me out in any way that popped into my head. Um, I mean, it was his school day, and it was possible that he would be home.
He got there in less time than it took me to get the kids out of the van and start swinging them on the swingset nearby. He had brought the bike pump and told me to load the kids in while he pumped it up. And a minute after that we were driving back home in plenty of time to meet up with the other moms. As I was driving off I looked at Tom and called out the window "You're cuter than the triple A guy would be!" which sparked Beth to say "I just love Dad" with an emotional sigh, "I just love how he pumps up the tire so fast." then Lily added "I love Dad because he's the best Dad in the whole world!" with a similar emotional not-quite sighing voice. He is loved. And needed. And we DO try to let him get his dissertation done when he's home, but he IS a lot cuter than a AAA guy!
I do not enjoy competition. I like to win, but I don't like in any way to have a lot of people look at me or fuss about me because I won, so I don't gravitate towards competitive things. Kind of like the opposite of my sweet hubby. (I can't believe I just called Tom that. I would never call him "my sweet hubby" to his face. It's just a computer thing. Sort of like calling him a DH. It's maybe slightly better but also slightly less well-known, and if you have to explain the whole "Dear Husband" meaning for your shortcut, it's soon not worth it. But DH is still better than sweet hubby. The main thing I call him is Tom.) So, Tom is pretty competitive. Since he's not really competitive with me I can say he's the good kind, the kind that gets him up at 6:00 am just to try to beat another person at racquetball. And now that he's started running he's very much trying to improve as quickly as possible in speed and distance, and is very aware of how fast others run--others he talks to who run, Olympians, etc., not actual other runners around the lake. I have been running off and on since a teen and I never even sat down to figure out what a good speed was in a 5k. I've just run for the fun of it, and often for the exercise of it. Which brings me to why at 36, though I've been running all this time, I have just now completed my first* race.
I don't like pain, and the pain of pushing yourself to your absolute limit just to see how fast you are has never appealed to me. But somewhere in the beginning of this year with starting up running as a geezer I started reading up on running to avoid injuries, mostly, and along the way I got interested in things like form, pacing, heart rate numbers, etc. Also, having a treadmill really put the numbers into running. Suddenly I wasn't just running a preplanned, in my head route, I was looking at hundredth miles tick past, speed, incline, pace, time elapsed,etc., and it became natural to try to improve in terms of numbers. Now when I say "try to improve" I don't mean I've ever really gotten serious, and I'm still doing well to run 3x/week, I haven't come close to starting an actual training regimen with hills or speed work. But I like the idea which is new for me.
And to my race. I had just posted about the perimeter trail run on Monday and was getting mentally ready to start trail running more when Tom came home from racquetball on Tues. morning and told me that Vecna, the company where his racquetball buddy works, was hosting a 5K run that Saturday, and that he thought I should run it. I decided to try to do a not-quite-my-best at the lake that day to see what my race pace should be. I ended up running it in just under 27 minutes which was encouraging to me because I always just run a 10 minute mile for around an hour. I thought I'd take off a day then run again easier on Thurs. and then do the race Sat. morning. That was not taking into account the fact that I didn't really warm up or cool down after my practice race and my legs were KILLING me the rest of the week. Really beating me up, with every step! So I didn't run at all anymore. And I left Saturday to decide itself by way of how rainy it would be. Ended up just incredibly super duper humid. Too bad I was too self-conscious to wear the ultra-light running shorts Tom had bought me and I went with my thick cotton yoga capris. It was the first time I've run where I could feel the weight of them.
At the race was Vecna's owner and founder Debbie who did Joyschool with me and Thomas. I hate her. She was wearing her 4th baby who was just 2 months old and looking like a total model girl. She's really nice, but I sure hated her when I realized she was not wearing a number to do the 2.4 mile walk, but that she was going to run. She's awesome. I'm sad they had to move to Boston to start up another Vecna site. Anyway, the run was all official with clips for our shoes to track our time. I started out running by Dana Bearman and her daughter Emma, Debbie Theobold and Allison Watson, but knew I didn't want to just be chatting like I had been in the Watermelon Run with Dad this summer. So I soon just went a little bit ahead of them to not be listening to Debbie chat with her sister (yes, SHE could chat, I had no breath for it, see why I have to hate her!) and figuring that they'd just pass me later. Surprisingly they didn't, I don't think any of them were taking it very seriously. As for me, I was going for my best under the sore-legs, haven't-trained circumstances. My favorite part of the run was seeing my sweet family surprise me at the half-way point at Lake Artemesia. That gave me a little boost. I enjoyed the run, and my only regret was that I didn't stay focused very well, there were many times that I realized I was not even thinking about my running, but was off in la-la land and probably not running as fast as I should, and then I hadn't realized that they were moving the starting rug (that clocks your time in the shoe clip) up closer, because that whole area was around many curves so I couldn't visually see the right time to put in the final kick. So I ended up cranking it up way too late and I missed my practice time by 20 minutes. So it took me 27:21 which is a pace of 8:49. I have to be happy. It was better than I'd've guessed a week earlier, if you'd asked, yet gives me plenty of chances to get PR's in pretty much every 5K I run for the next couple years! For the record I was 59th out of 102 and 2nd female in the 30-39 age group. When I talked to my mom after she'd talked to Tom she said "congratulations on winning!" and I told her how it really was she said "Leave it to Tom to figure out how you're a winner!" (I guess he'd said I was first in my age group or something, which is true if you mean women 35-39!!)
Ever since my run in California where I got semi-lost in the canyons near our apt in La Jolla I have wanted to try running trails again. Of course you always hear that asphalt is the worst thing to run on (besides sidewalks, but who runs on sidewalks? Where there is sidewalk, there is road) but I've been happy to get off my treadmill and run around the asphalted every .2 miles marked 1.35 mile track around Lake Artemesia. And I do love that run, it's beautiful. It just requires going around 5 times to get in an hour of run time. So I finally searched this morning for running trails in College Park area and was so happy to see that Greenbelt Park has a trail that goes around it's entire perimeter, not just the little 1 mile trails we usually do as a family. I was unsure how much time it would take to run 5.3 miles of true trail stuff, but it was just under an hour like my lake runs, so that's good news. I didn't see anyone on the trail the whole way around but I felt very safe. I almost ran into a deer, or at least it felt like it, since the deer only moved about 10 feet away when I came running up, and then it just kept staring at me. It was beautiful. The trail was so fun to run, and now I know why in Chi Running it says that trail running is the best for working on your form, especially to learn how to pick up your feet instead of pushing off with them. I've been running the Middle School track last week during Joyschool and my calves were getting tight, and staying tight after running. They feel better now after my trail run than they did before I started. Amazing. Something so kid-like in bobbing around over roots and rocks and stuff. Much more fun to run. At least for now, it's something new, and I like it. So if you want a fun run leave your kids with me and go take an hour at the perimeter trail, you'll love it!
What a beautiful peacemaker is my Lillian Regina Severina Draper! She has been my cheerleader for 5 years now, and I'm not sure I'd be here today if it weren't for her. Even before she could talk very much she could see Mommy crying when things got hard with her little baby sister (for example one of those days when all 4 kids from Baby Beth to 6 year old Tyra all had the flu and ear infections at the same time and Mom might have just sat down for a minute with the baby crying in her arms and started to cry herself,) and Lily not yet 2 would come up and give me loves and smiles to cheer me up. And when Thomas started Kindergarten and I would bike around with them in the trailer behind me and the going up Pontiac would get tough Lily would say "Keep going Momma! You can do it!" Then there was the encouragement when Lily was potty training and anytime she would see me in the bathroom she'd be really proud of me doing my business "Good job Mommy! I hear your peepee!"
Lately Lily's encouragement comes in ways she can find to help Momma. She is constantly asking "Are you so glad I made my bed and Beth's bed this morning so you don't have to?" or "Doesn't it make you so happy that I stirred the dinner together so well for you?" etc., and I must say, it's the sweetest little voice in that positive tone that does indeed make me so happy. She has been a natural optimist from the start. I never tire of hearing her talking to herself, Beth, or even me "It's okay, it doesn't have to be perfect." or "We just try our best, so it's okay." And tons of other such comments. She's better than my cd's I bought a few years ago to help me with my own internal speaking that is not exactly optimistic!
And now Lily is 5. I am so glad that she missed the cutoff date for Kindergarten and that I get to have her with Beth and me for one more year. So for her (last minute, I'm afraid) birthday party she invited Anya from down the street, Harper from primary, Camille a family friend, and Josh and Kamari from Joyschool. We just played "Dance and Freeze" a game Lily loves to play, made sugar cookies, played with the parachute, played "I had a little doggie", and hit the Dora piñata. I had a lot of fun decorating my first 3 layer cake and was super happy with how it turned out, considering I used real butter instead of shortening in the frosting and the bottom layer completely fell apart as I was positioning it on the foil. Anne asked for the frosting recipe and it was 1 lb powd. sugar, 1/2 cup barely soft butter, 1 tsp vanilla, just under 1/3 c milk (take some out at this point for roses as they need the stiffest consistency) then add the rest of the 1/3 c milk to make it best for spreading and writing and borders. You may need up to 1 1/2 tbsp more milk.
What a perfect day for the zoo. When we invited Dorey and Lily to Lily's birthday party Joy said they couldn't make it, but suggested we do our long-awaited, oft-spoken of trip to the National Zoo on Friday to at least let them get together. Starting out, Joy has been my friend since Jr. High Chorus. We both wore the most hideous homemade black-and-white gingham jumpers as we gave concerts back then. We stayed in touch when I moved from Utah to California by way of countless "notes" sent as letters with lots of song lyrics written in the margins. When I went to BYU we hung out all freshman year when she and our other friend (third of the Larryetta, Curlyetta, and Moetta trio) moved into Heritage Halls with me. We did a lot of stupid but fun things until her missionary became a returned missionary and came home and whisked her away from us. We forgive him, though we missed her. From there we stayed in touch sporadically, with a few visits during said RM's training in DC, to us visiting them in California. But then I got an Christmas card that said that not only had Joy had their 3rd child within days of my having my 4th child, but that she was now living 45 minutes away in VA. Well, after getting that card I was quite sure we'd be seeing each other quite often. Instead we've seen each other quite regularly, as in once each year ☺ But I've got to say, it is so fun to have my girls love her girls just as much as I've loved Joy. They are very sweet and amazingly enough, all 4 girls seem able to get along quite well. Within minutes of saying goodbye at the end of our time together at the zoo my Lily said "I miss Dorey and Lily, I wish they lived by us." Here are a bunch of pictures of our trip, from the metro trip on (riding the metro is a good 25% of the fun.) Oh, and all the animal pictures are for our animal booklet, it's actually the first time I've take animal pictures as opposed to kid pictures which may or may not include animals at the zoo.
I don't know how I didn't ever know that there is a whole amazing world under my number keys. I was trying to write a comment on my sister's blog and really wished I could put in musical notes to make it obvious that the quote was from a song, you know, like this ♪ or ♫. The smarty-pants sent me to this link I'm still amazed that it's that easy! Now to find out how well it actually shows up in different programs. Thanks Lis!
I have never liked bedtime. The sweet ritual of bath, story, prayers, and a goodnight kiss is sooo not the whole story. First of all yelling at kids to "Listen to the scriptures!" as the wiggle and poke each other can get us off to a bad start. Add to that the fact that I NEVER seem to get bedtime started in advance enough to get 4 baths in, so there's guilt that the poor filthy kids have to settle with a quick wipe down of the stickiest parts, mostly hands and faces. Then there's how we have to make sure we get the right toothpaste on the right brushes. Often there's the putting away all the dress-up clothes and accessories so I can walk injury-free in the middle of the night when someone needs me. Then pajamas, but wait, first Beth needs cream for her itchy skin. Then we determine if there's even time for a story. Finally after everyone is tucked in there is the final hugs which require constant reminders of my threat to not give a hug the next night if I get stuck in a neck-hold (? what do I mean?) while hugging them (they love to hold me so tight I can't get back up from leaning over, trying to get the longest hug they can.)
Beth said "I can't see anything. And that's going to make me have nightbears. The bear will be grabbing at me, and roaring at me, and wiggling at me! And I'll be so scared!" Well, it's really fun now that TnT are old enough to get the cute stuff that Beth and Lily say. Tyra just loved that "nightbears" comment of Beth's, she couldn't stop giggling!
So after the lights are out, and I'm sitting by the crib or Lily's bed I do a few yoga spine-lengthening stretches (okay, I try to de-slump for a minute.) I feel relaxed. Then, because there hasn't been any noise or movement for a little while I quietly get up to leave. That's when "I'm hungry" "I want to sleep with Sharky" "I need to go to the bathroom" and especially "I'm really, really, thirsty" seems to crop up. I just love that. Then after I do finally get done with LnE I still have TnT who have been reading during this time, mostly. Now if there is a more likely time for Tyra to get upset about something Thomas does or says it is right at bedtime. And it there is a moment that Thomas is going to mention that he doesn't want to grow up and that he's scared or worried of anything (we won't list the things, as they are a little more personal in nature than "nightbears") it is at this time. Though I like the individual moments with any one of the kids, they are usually interrupting each other (for example Thomas may be read to talk about Heavenly Father while Tyra is howling about her outrage over something he said earlier, and Beth is up for the 3rd time to go to the bathroom and needs a wipe cuz it's #2. Then no one's getting quality time, and no one's really getting much closer to sleep! I still have visions of no cribs or bunk beds or children sleeping on the floor. No just 4 twin beds in 3 or 4 bedrooms. And I go from sitting at the foot of one bed to the next as I hear the joys and sorrows of each child's day, help them settle into sleep and prepare them for the next morning. But when Tom is gone (or when he's home but on the phone or doing his dissertation anyway,) it's just not the way things usually go. You know, I just love bedtime, don't you?
p.s. I was starting this when Tom was gone, things are looking up a bit now that we're in our school-days routine. And really there is something so sweet about those snuggle kids. I sure do love them!
Hurrah! Our Joyschool is officially running, as today was day one of week two and everyone is still on board to do it, and the kids are still happy. Last year I really wanted to do Joyschool with Lily, but could not find enough people to do it (one other mom wanted to do it IF we could find at least one other mom to do it with us, which we couldn't, so we didn't.) I kept thinking that I should just go ahead and do it with Lily anyway, since I had all the curriculum from when I did it with Thomas 4 years earlier. But I didn't. I really LOVE Joyschool, and I knew Lily would LOVE it, but I didn't. And if that surprises you, then you have obviously never been around me or even heard of me before reading this post. I just couldn't make myself pull a lesson together for my darling girl. So last spring I VOWED that I was doing Joyschool this fall, no matter what, and I talked to and emailed all the mom's in my ward and the surrounding wards looking for anyone who'd like to join. Not one person wanted to do it who lived close enough or had kids the right age. So I was planning on doing it solo with LnE when I came home from California. Then I got an email from someone I didn't know from the ward who shares our building. She wanted to do it with me. We started some plans, then she decided on doing just Monday together (it's supposed to be a 2x/wk program) Either way I was excited because I knew that even just having a "reckoning" on Mondays would help keep me on track and doing the lessons more than having no one but my sweet too-forgiving daughters to be accountable to. At the last minute another mom who'd wanted to do it but was worried she lived too far away decided to do it with us. And now after a LOT of back-and-forth about how and when everything would work we are all up and running. I taught the first 2 weeks, and the kids seemed to really enjoy the lessons and activities and songs and playing together. And I feel like the mom I always meant to be :) I'm just not sure why I always need someone else to get me to that point. But I'm glad I have someone.
Side note about the cookies. Lily said she thought Beth's "gingerbread"man looked like an alien with alien eyes. I quickly said that Beth had done a great job and it looked nice. To stop Lily from protesting and continuing, possibly hurting Beth's feelings I quickly shushed her by whispering in her ear that her's looked so perfect. She smiled big and became very magnanimous toward Beth saying "You made a perfect alien Beth! It's a really perfect alien with eyes like that." Luckily Beth was happy with that and said "Yes! Mine is a Alien!"
What a great time T,T, L, and E had with their cousins this summer! I wasn't sure what to expect with all the forced (for them) get togethers, as their track record is spotty at best. But wow was I pleasantly surprised! They seemed to enjoy every single chance they had to play with cousins wherever we went. My photos from the summer are in various locations and will take a while to get all together here, but I'll just keep uploading them here as I get them. So if you're a cousin or relative who cares you may want to check back to this post. But here's what we have from the last week or so of our California vacation.
Beth and Carson while camping in the Sequoias Beth and Seth, unusually clean for the camping trip. Beth, Abby, Lil, and Kate the morning after their sleepover. Carson (sporting his ice pack), Noah, T n T in the K'Nex. Luke and Tyra waiting for BBQ at Ron and Annie's. T, E, Kyla, and L waiting for the BBQ.
I loved watching my girls play with cars and firetrucks and whatnot with their cousins, I'd been a little worried before we came out that it might be tough for them to play, but they had lot's of fun. When we had all the kids in Anne's van it was a chaos to defy all chaos. But I never got any good footage of the crazyness. But here's a bit of the kids rockin' out to Anne's tunes.
Hi guys, in case you forgot, this blog is for me, and so rather than work on making my old drafts correct for the moment, I'm going to try to get their pictures added in and just post. The only things I'll add here are that Tyra recited the preamble to the constitution (thanks to Tom encouraging her to memorize it, thanks to Tom's uncle Terry encouraging all his relatives to memorize it.) Also Thomas recited the names of all the presidents in order, so that's what the pictures are when they are standing next to "George Washington." We also have pictures of wheelbarrow and 3-legged races, which don't include TnT as they refused. But they did join in our little parade singing She's A Grand Old Flag. Lily and Beth enjoyed the races and other American games. In the middle picture, holding the flag, is my counselor, Rebekah Barnes, who came to Thomas' baptism with her family. Unfortunately that was because she was in Provo to start BYU. Yes, I currently have no counselors, but am just glad that the summer workers --husband's selling security systems or pest control-- were willing and able to stand in for me all summer long and did a great job. Yesterday was Flag Day, and the day of our Primary's Patriotic Picnic. As you will see as I begin to blog the last while to catch up from when our modem broke down, things have been pretty hectic with the end of school and many other great activities. I was feeling like the quarterly Activity Day was the last thing to prepare for before I really got down to packing and getting ready for California. (Really I had thought about Father's Day in passing here and there, but never really clamped it down in my to-do part of my brain. So it wasn't until hours after the activity that I realized I needed to get moving for Father's Day prep!)
I guess this summer was just bound to be fantastic. We even had a great time in Maryland for the week and a half before we left. We had our great friends the Pullins' come to visit and catch up on the many years since they left our ward. And I had a fun time taking the kids to Wheaton Regional Park, many closer smaller parks, the Old Maryland Farm, and the Maryland Science Center. Here are the pictures of the Maryland Science Center and our weekend with Brandt and Lori Pullins:
I've got a couple of catch up posts started but I keep getting so overwhelmed with the billions of things to write about that happened since June 1. So I'll just wait till later and write a quick note saying how much we have all been enjoying our summer in So. Cal. We have not had more than a half-day of down time at home, but it has been a great thing, since we've been visiting family and friends along with doing things like Sea World, the Beach, and Children's museums. My steam is definitely waning, and I feel like I used to feel at midnight by 9pm. But then I can wake up before Tom goes to work and go run in the canyon that's less than a mile away. Even now I'm super tired and want to get in a trip to Sea World before Anne & Co. get here tomorrow around noon. So I'll do pictures later.
No, I didn't fall off my treadmill literally, but I sure fell off the wagon, which was my treadmill running, when I got a bad cold a few weeks ago. I was so very surprised when I finally tried to do a regular run again 1 1/2 weeks later how incredibly out of shape I felt! I had read in my running books that when you take off time for whatever reason, injury, sickness, etc., you need to allow yourself double the time you take off to get back up to the same running fitness level. That sounded so weird to me when I had read it. But boy has it rung true as I've had to run shorter distances and work my way back up!
Funny thing is, when I read this in the books I thought immediately of my piano playing days, back when I was practicing up to 3 hours/day. I certainly felt a noticeable difference in my fingers if I ever missed 2 days in a row. Well, we are borrowing Tom's cousin's digital piano and when I sat down to play it for the first time once the kids were in bed I was so happy to be able to play and play with no one listening (partly because of the noise I make, partly because of the mistakes I make) that I ended up playing for over 1 1/2 hours. I was not surprised to feel how out of shape my hands and fingers were in playing well and smoothly, but it did surprise me to feel they were actually sore like muscles will be when worked more than usual.
Since I'd just had this experience on the piano right before the experience on the treadmill, I found myself contemplating the "falling of the wagon" idea and wondering what other things people have felt this phenomenon with. I have 2 sisters-in-law (well, one of them is a nothing-to-me :) --love you Ang!) who took years and years of ballet. I can easily imagine that being something that you would feel the difference between just a few days of not practicing vs. being really off the wagon for a while. Then I thought about another sister of mine and wondered if baking daily as she does creates a fine-tuned feeling that could be lost after a long period of no baking :) So my question to you, my readers, is this: What is something that you have done to such a degree as to feel the difference in fine-tuning when you stop for a short break and then it's even worse when you take a longer break from it?
My last thought, and why I'm actually putting these thoughts in a post is that in reading over the conference issue of the Ensign I've been reading the talks (3 in a row there) on testimonies and feeling the Holy Ghost. It made me think of times I've definitely been "practicing" more, and hence could feel the immediate effects of a short break: When I was in my senior year at BYU I was taking advantage of the Sunday School Scripture Study at Six am to get myself up and going each morning before my student teaching. I'll never forget the one day I missed it for sleeping in. I was walking across the busy campus and when someone cut me off abruptly where I was walking only to move very slowly in front of me I felt such an irritation that it caught me off guard. At that time, being in regular practice, I was certainly used to such occasions (which of course are plentiful for a chronically late procrastinator on a large busy campus) and my usual, unthinking response was always a calm and peace. It took me a minute or two to realize that I hadn't read my scriptures and had a good prayer to ask for the spirit for the day. When you're fine-tuned every little adjustment is noticed. I'm sad to report that I've had such a long break from this level of fitness that it almost seems impossible. Comparing spiritual fitness to the truly physical counterparts can help me believe in it, even when it feels like I'm not sure that regular prayer and scripture study can bring me that level of peace and calm. I just have to compare my attempts at spiritual fitness to pre-treadmill attempts to physical fitness, and pre-digital piano scattered attempts at practicing my music, for they both did not avail physical fitness, nor musical fitness. And with that I need to go get fit in more ways than my treadmill can offer (though it is a great place for thought and meditation.)
Well, we went out in the neighborhood to try to pick as many mulberries as we could, Lily and Beth picking all ours and hearing they were easy to grow, and hard to kill. When we started out, we could tell it was going to rain. When we got on the move, Thomas boosted ahead -- just to make a wrong turn and have us yell to him for about 20 seconds until he turned around. Then it started to rain -- make that pour. There was very little mulberry trees. The first tree had good, low branches and tons of good, ripe berries. But with the next trees, well we weren't so lucky. They either had lots of berries way up high, or had few berries. In one place Lily asked if we could eat 'those' berries. They were wild strawberries which we found out later that they were wood strawberries. We picked as many as we could without getting into poison ivy -- which was about 4 or5. At one point it was raining so hard that we would get drenched if we didn't find shelter -- quick. Luckily Tyra found a long skinny slide that hid us from the rain. The kids were interested when they saw a stream that on a regular day there was no water, but now water was fighting fiercely to get downstream. Thomas started saying "I want to go home -- no, I want to be at home already!" When the question of going to Pops Park or not these were the answers: Tyra "Lets go to the park!" Thomas "No! I want to go home!" Lily "I want to go to Pops Park!". We ended up going to the park to try to pick more mulberries. Half of the time Tyra, Lily and Beth were diving into the mulberry bush to pick berries, the other half they huddled underneath the three-way slide to show how many berries they picked. Once we got home we were thoroughly drenched and exhausted, but be had tons of berries. It filled up half a big ziplock bag! ~Tyra D.
So, 10 years of living here and I'm finally eating the fruit off my trees! I guess because early on when our neighbor was walking through our backyard showing us poison ivy and other things she pointed to a tree and said "oh, those are terrible, they're so hard to kill and they make a mess." So I never paid them much attention until Tyra came home from her field trip (they walked over to Greenbelt National Park) where a ranger had them eat mulberries off the trees. As she was describing them I said hey! I've been looking at these berries every time I'm on the treadmill, come see if those are they. She said they were. I was still scared to eat them though, it's just not worth getting poisoned, if there's a look-alike or something. Luckily at baseball the same day (yesterday) Tyra was telling me she saw a mulberry tree and just as I was saying, are you sure? look at the leaves, are they the same, don't just look at the fruit, all worried to let her just start eating them one of the dads on the bleachers reached up and picked a handful and popped them in his mouth. Unfortunately I couldn't encourage my girls to pick them still because they were in dresses ready to take off to a baptism. Beth's jumper was ruined with the juices (well, we'll see what oxiclean can do.) Anyway, then today I finally started eating them at the playground when a mother said "I used to eat them all the time when I was little." I was surprised at how good they were. I have spent a pretty penny to get raspberries and blackberries at the store, and these were just as tasty IMO. They aren't sour, just sweet and good. So now I'm wondering, what other free-growing things are there out there I should be eating? I remember working with a girl from Idaho who said she used to sit in the back of her dad's truck and jump out to cut wild asparagus growing on the side of the road for their dinner. All I remember as a kid eating from wild plants were the desert weeds that grew in the cracks of the sidewalk and road and the little "fruits" were tiny round green things we called cheesies. Anyone know what those were? Anyone know of any other yummy wild things to look out for? And don't say mushrooms, I'd never dare try, though we get those often too!
How did we live without the internet? I've already found mulberry recipes, and satisfied myself that though there are many mulberry hybrids, there are no poisonous look-alikes. ALSO: here's a link to the cheesies I was talking about.
Somewhere a long time ago I managed to get signed up for the American Family Association's Action Alerts. They only come into my yahoo account, which is mostly junk, but they usually manage to catch my attention as something I find important. What they do is email you when there is something that you can do to help to make a difference in preserving family values. For example they'll automatically set you up to email your representative or congressman or whoever is appropriate when bills are being voted on regarding religion, gay rights, pornography, and other things like that. So it's easy to email or call or whatever with your own voice saying "please don't take the words "under God" from this or that plaque, or whatever. My favorite part, besides it being so easy, it that they also email you to tell you the results. Sometimes they say "we're still boycotting proctor and gamble, they will not listen" but very often they include a letter from the corporation saying "thank you for your input, we will make a change for our customers"etc., or mention what happened with a bill that was being voted on. So you know how things went. I just went to their website for the link and it's a bit messy, but all you have to do is click on the part that is for the action alerts on the right hand side. Not every issue is one I feel the need to be a part of, but it's such an easy way to make a difference.
We drove our 6 hours down to Winston-Salem to visit with Janine and Brian (okay, mostly Cora, but them too.) This time we got to visit with Rob and Angela (okay, mostly Ellie and our first visit with Elijah), and even Mike came out early so he could be in on the sibling reunion. It was so fun and crazy. I didn't take many pictures, and I'll have to get a copy of this picture that has everyone together at the pretty more-like-a-campground-than-a-park park where we had a picnic. One of my favorite things (besides holding my darling neice and nephew) were watching my girls play so much and so well with Ellie. Last summer it seemed to be a little harder for them to interact, being younger. This time they were all up on the social skills, and another thing I liked, Ellie was not going to get pushed around by my sweet little Beth. So often I have to feel bad for, and stick up for other little kids Beth's playing with because she's a little tough. But Ellie is faster and could run away with a toy that was being "discussed" when necessary. So the main thing I had to feel bad about was Saturday morning when Beth woke up at her usual 6:50 am and I said "Do you want to come into our bed?" She said no and quietly went out the door, closing it behind herself. I assumed she'd go down to the toyroom and play since that's what she'd usually do other times we visited. About an hour later I heard her open the door and announce "That's my family" to Ellie who was standing behind her. "How cute" I thought, they're already playing together. Little did I suspect that Beth had made a beeline to Rob and Angela's room, opening the door and announcing "It's wake up time!" and refusing to leave until Rob got up and put a show on for her. Ellie woke up soon afterwards and then I believe it was the two of them kept going in and out of Janine and Brian's room to check on Cora. So, while I enjoyed my extra hour of sleep, the pleasure was short lived when I realized what it had cost the rest of the adults in the house, especially those with nursing babies! So this picture of Janine was just to show the ever-amazing sister-in-law. I used to always be amazed at how well she could take care of all my kids, but somehow thought "maybe it'll be different when she has her own." Here's proof to the contrary, she's holding Cora while helping all her other neices and nephews with the marble racing set. She has the best teaching tone of anyone I know besides my husband, and my dad. Strong similarity there around kids.
And this picture on the awesome couch that can always fit one more, includes cousin Molly who always takes a little time out from her own crazy schedule to come visit when we come down. She's great and great fun. By the way Molly thanks so much for lending us the digital piano, it is PERFECT, I absolutely LOVE the peace and quiet, and the kids love not being told to get off the piano all the time. Tom's got it set up with 2 headphones so they can still play together, or Tom can come and listen while I'm practicing at 10pm and still not bothering the kids. So thanks again!
Anyway, that was last week, but a million years ago! Rob and Ang are in Georgia, Mikey is off on a YA trip and J & B are in Mexico for the summer. We're just having a fun weekend which I'll post about later.
What a difference we noticed between the winter concert and this spring concert! Tyra did play first, and we were all there in time to see her. Then Tom raced out while the next group was coming up so that we didn't have to feel bad about Lily, Beth, and Thomas all making whiny noises while the other parents were trying to listen to their own kids. It sure made it enjoyable for me to just sit and watch! It seems the titles don't come through anywhere, though I label them, so here are the names of the songs: Rumble in the Jungle, Old MacDonald had a Band, and Let's Go Band. Very fun to have Tyra playing Let's Go Band already, and it sounds more melodic like the way I remember it from all the school games when she's just practicing at home.
Are always doing cool things you think you should be doing but are afraid to try? Well, sometimes those people are failing in just the ways you're afraid you might, but at least they tried!
About a month ago Tyra came home and told me that Ms. Bastio was going to get some shad eggs for the kids to help hatch in their classroom, and then to be released into the Anacostia River. When I heard this I thought, "What a great teacher [and she is], I would never tackle such a project as a teacher! It sounds intimidating and possibly complicated to set up and do." Well, Tyra was very excited about it, and told me about them each day. Apparently the eggs were clear while alive, but if they died they became cloudy-white. The students used pipettes to remove the dead eggs from the large tank. One morning while I was in the classroom I asked her if I could look into the huge barrel and running water hose contraption in the back of the room. Ms Bastio came over with me and said under her breath "I'm so afraid they're all dead or dying, we can't see anything hatching yet!" Then that afternoon Tyra came home and told me all about how she was the first one to see the tiny fish swimming that had been there all along. She said she had to look through the water to see them, not just on top as everyone else had been. After that Ms. Bastio used a flashlight and everyone was able to see them. I'm sure Tyra's discovery eased Ms. Bastio's mind, and it made Tyra happy too.
So I was getting all excited for Tyra's fieldtrip where they would release the shads into the river and thinking what a great thing that she's in school and doing these kinds of things. As soon as she came home from school I expected her to be bursting with the news. I was very surprised and somewhat confused when she said "It was okay, only a few kids got to help dump them into the river. We couldn't really see anything." Then I remembered what is NOT so great about doing things in school: you have such a large group that even fun things are filled with long lines and long waiting times, and it's impossible for everyone to have a front-seat view. That's what I chalked her lack of enthusiasm up to. But a few days later when I was talking to Ms. Bastio she confided in me that the Science teacher had put the fish into some container and put it in the back of her minivan to drive down to the river and a short way from the school the container spilled all over her minivan floor! So she drove back to the school and filled up the container with water and continued on to meet with the class at the riverbank! No wonder Tyra couldn't see anything! There was nothing to see! I like to think there were a few fish saved, as per the article in the Gazette, but even if not, they've done the project once now, and like all the programs at BHES, it'll get better every year as they learn from past mistakes!
As for me, I'm just thinking how I need to stop thinking like a perfectionist, i.e. "I won't do it if I can't do it perfectly." The fun is in the learning and the perfection comes from try, try, trying again!
The concert started at 7pm. So I left tee ball and Thomas' baseball practices early with the kids to make it on time. Unfortunately potty training kids can't time everything perfectly, and we ended up walking into the multi-purpose room at 7:04pm, just in time to hear the last 30 seconds of Tyra's German song. Apparently the fourth grade did their individual song very first. You better bet I'll be at the flute concert tomorrow night before 7:00! Luckily she still had 3 songs to sing with all 3 grades at the end and she did a great job. I have such fond memories of singing parts in Chorus in Jr. High, I'm really glad she gets to do it already.
I am finally starting to feel the fruit of my efforts in trying to wrangle information from the kids about their day at school. Somewhere in autumn I started demanding that they tell me 3 Things about their day before they could go on to eating a snack or playing. For a LONG time it was pretty much like pulling 3 teeth each, each afternoon. There were definitely days when I thought that whatever I was trying to accomplish was actually happening in reverse: the kids seemed more irritated with me than before. But today I was tired and sick and about to take a nap as Tom had just come home early for that purpose, so when the kids walked in the door and I said "Do you want to tell me your tres cosas first, Thomas?" If he'd balked even a little I would've left it to Tom and hit the hay. (We don't really have hay mattresses, for the record.) But Thomas looked up with those bright brown eyes and came really close to me and whispered "Christian wrote a note that said 'I love Jasmin. I love Jasmin' over and over. Everyone loves Jasmin except me and the other girls." Now THAT would never have come out before the instigation of the 3 Things! Next he told me that he'd had lunch with Ms. Lewis (the special ed teacher) and that she really liked the blondie he gave her. At this point my little devious boy said "Does that count for one?" He does this because sometimes he'll say just "I had P.E." and I'll ask him what he did. Originally he'd be silent or say he didn't know so I'd tell him it didn't count for one unless he told me more. But now he's gotten it down that he can get one thing in by making sure that the first part "counts". See his last one was that he and the other boy eating lunch with Ms. Lewis too were wondering about how to make peanut butter and they got the recipe off the internet, at which point he pulled out his copy from his backpack. These 3 Cosas were not any different than any other day (sometimes they are much more exciting or funny) but I had a real sweet moment standing there, feeling so tired yet here was my un-talkative son sharing anecdotes about his day, with a smile on his face. Ah. Then Tom said protectively, "To bed! Put in the earplugs! Get some sleep!" but I wanted to ask Tyra. She was in the bathroom, and is now old enough to need her privacy. But I asked her through the door and she cracked it enough to talk to me, like she couldn't wait to tell me her 3 Cosas too. First of all she said that in PE they learned that when it was time to serve then everyone moves down the line "Oh, you know how to rotate now?" After a nod she continued. And Ms. Carty kept telling us all the last few weeks to NOT GO UNDER THE NET, NEVER GO UNDER THE NET. Then today she told us to GO UNDER THE NET! After we got 6 points she told us to switch sides! (Tyra often tells of what the teachers do/say that surprise her. Thomas, not so much. Many times she'll say "Ms. Bastio was so crazy today...[she got up on the desks acting like a tornado, etc]) I love the school system. I think it would be hard to teach Tyra all the correct skills for volleyball without the other kids to play with her to enjoy her skills at the end! Ok, and Tyra's other things were that they sang all their songs but the German one twice in chorus in preparation for their concert tomorrow night. and that Ms. Bastio said she's going to get fat from all the blondies Tyra brought her today with her card. See last week was teacher appreciation week and the teachers wrote up their favorites to help kids decide what to give her for a gift. For treats she said butterscotch and coconut, and since our new favorite family treat is blondies with butterscotch chips and coconut I decided to make her up a plate to go with a card from Tyra, and thought that this week would be better than last week, since maybe she'd feel all overwhelmed by too many gifts at once during teacher appreciation week. Same reason that if I send ANY birthday cards at all, they are always belated. Thoughtful me :)
Back to 3 Cosas. I hit the hay feeling rotten sick and tired in my head, but happy healthy in my heart :) My kids can tell me about their day. I understand that many kids do this voluntarily from their first day home from kindergarten, but for me, I am thrilled with the success finally. And I've even noticed a few times lately that when I say "How was your day?" instead of "Are you ready to tell me your 3 things?" that both Tyra and Thomas can actually answer, without prompting, beyond saying "Good"!
p.s. isn't Tom the best for coming home early for me to sleep? I never did that often before, but I really don't want to be sick when we go visit all his siblings in NC this weekend!
I keep wanting to blog about the things Thomas does that surprise and impress me. But as I started thinking about this blog I realized that sometime I need to take the time to talk about the things Thomas does that don't surprise, though they still impress, me. Things like how quick he is to show his dimples in a smile. How much he loves a joke. How he immediately helps someone he sees in need. How reliable he is in completing any task he's given. And how very sweetly he plays with and helps his little sisters. So there's a bit of it. But as we know, any of these things (the smile, the help, the completing a task) are held in check until one very important matter is cleared up for him: WHAT EXACTLY HE SHOULD DO. It is very difficult for him to just figure out by watching others or by "faking it" for the first little while until he gets the hang of something.
So tonight was International Night where Ms. Anwar's 2nd grade class sang a long song in Bangladeshi. I had heard from Thomas and Ms. Anwar a couple of times how he wasn't practicing the song with the rest of the class. When I noticed the words at home I tried to find the music online to practice with him, to no avail. But when I finally told him he had to sing through the whole song for me, even if he made mistakes, before he could play on his computer he finally did it for me. After that he began practicing with the kids. Ms. Anwar, who has been so VERY good for Thomas, never told him he had to sing but gave him a maraca to play to still be part of the group. Apparently other kids wanted to try to and it shaped the whole song, but Tyra was proud of Thomas because he got to do the final 3 drum beats at the end. So, why was I so proud of Thomas? Well, he was up in front of a huge audience staying very focused in a boiling, noisy room, doing his best. He even sang a little.
If I ever figure out what to do with the 115meg video clip I'll add it!
This year I hemmed and hawed forever undecided (me, wishy, washy?) about what to do for preschool for Lily. My thoughts are that she learns structure enough at Primary to serve her for Kindergarten, and she learns her basics at home enough to prepare her. What preschool has that Lily lacks is a largish group of children close to her age that meet regularly enough to learn important social skills. So though I wasn't wishy washy about wanting to do Joyschool with her, I only had one other mom-friend willing to do it with me so we both decided not to bother. Then a seasoned mom of 5 told me how much she liked the preschool program at the HS because the students just love the preschool age kids. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that paying over $1000 to give Lily a regular meeting time to get the right socialization seems wrong to me when I'm staying home! So the $40 for the whole year to cover snacks was certainly a bonus. But my favorite part was that it was from 12-3pm, the perfect time when we'd be done with morning activities (playgroup, farm, park, etc) and Beth had to take a nap anyway. It was PERFECT. And it was a big plus that the teacher's teacher, Ms. Bret is a very warm mother herself, very understanding and capable, though she didn't teach the kids herself. She also didn't seem very upset if we needed to be gone for family outings, and I didn't have to feel like I wasting a lot of money when we missed. So now that Beth is no longer taking naps and is 3 I told Ms. Bret to look for Lily AND Beth for next year. (But I'm still in search of mothers who want to do Joyschool also.) Here are a few shots of Lily the one day I remembered my camera. For the first half of the year she would sling to my hand and arm at drop off time, but there was always a high school student to help her to her station to start off. As a matter of fact, those students gave Lily much more enthusiastic welcomes than Thomas ever got at his regular preschool. They all knew her name so quickly, I was impressed. Anyway, often her papers and drawings she brought home would have "I miss you Mommy" written in by a student/teacher for her because she said she was missing me. But whenever I showed up to pick her up she looked quite happy, often riding a ticycle or scooter around the room with a smile. She also loved wheeling her little back pack Grandma Linda gave her. She was so proud of the fact that this year she too had to tell me three things about her day, just like Tyra and Thomas do. And she loved making me wait to see her papers until we got home so she could surprise me and tell me about them. Now we'll have to finish up the book of her first year of preschool papers.
Tom bought me a treadmill from Costco and on January 1st Mikey who had just come into town, helped him put it together in our sunroom. I was certain I would use it, but I had no idea how much I would LOVE it! I love seeing the readout of how many minutes, miles, calories, etc I've been doing. I love that I can just get on and read a book while I walk along at 3-4 miles/hour. I LOVE the most that I can exercise whenever I feel like it (almost) I don't have to wait for Tom to be home to babysit, or the weather to be warm enough or cool enough, or for it to be light enough (especially the first and last reasons! Even if I feel like running at night when Tom's home, I don't really want to go run in the dark at 9:30pm, but I'm often on the treadmill at that great time!)
Okay, so I wanted the treadmill to start exercising and especially to lose weight. Well, I'm not losing tons of weight, but I'm AMAZED at the other side effects I've experienced. #1 I feel SOOO much better emotionally #2 My blood sugars are soooo much more stable (what I've noticed is that if I fast or if I eat a lot, or if I eat junk I don't crash or feel crummy.) #2a I have a slightly stronger desire to eat healthily before and after running. #3 I feel so STRONG to be able to really run fast OR far #4 I feel like "my old self" who used to always walk and run. #5 A body in motion tends to remain in motion, I get more done in my day #5a Even if I DON'T get anything else done in the day beyond the regular care and feeding of children, if I exercise I still feel like I've accomplished something
So there you have it. The best part is that my dad is training to run a marathon, and my friend Joy just ran a 1/2 marathon. After talking to them I thought, hey, maybe I can run further than the 5k I have always stopped at. And sure enough I can! It's exciting to be able to run longer or faster, and after reading a lot of running books I am determined to only work on one or the other to save my 35 year old knees and prevent any other injuries. I'm sure you'll hear more than you want of running, but hey, at least it's not talk of kids throwing up (I just finished posting about our vomitous vacation in Florida, see earlier post)
I'll do the whole birthday post later, but I just wanted to get this up. Beth is our child who enjoys the spotlight the most. While she was sweetly looking at her cake with her chin in her hands I took a picture, then when interrupted and told to look up she looked grumpy, then when everyone laughed at her expression she just kept going, laughing in between each face she pulled. Of course these weren't even the best one's, since I was waiting for a flash to charge and messing with the zoom, but she loves to put on a show!
I just want to say how glad I am for the Berwyn Heights Boys and Girls Club. We have Tyra in softball and soccer, Thomas in machine-pitch baseball, and Lily should start tee ball soon. I might be changing my tune further down the season, but so far it is just so nice! The coaches are super patient and just in it for their kids to learn the basics and have fun. Then the weather is just better and better every day. So even though without the tee-ball yet our schedule is 1- 1 1/2 hours every evening Tues-Fri and Sat am, it is so good for me to have something force me to take the kids outside to play for that long every day. Thomas was running around, playing with kids from his school tonight while Tyra played, and yesterday Tyra and a boy in her class chatted and played tag games with Lily and Beth and a new little friend they met. I have yet to meet any "kindred spirit" parents, but everyone's nice enough to chat with, and I'm glad for the socialization for the family. I do wish Tom could be there with us, to be extra eyes (it's hard to watch 3 running kids and pay attention to the one playing the game) and also just to enjoy it with us, but we're glad he's got his nose to the grindstone, and with what seems an eternal "one more program" he'll be done with this computing part of his dissertation :) Then we can all play ball as a family. (Lily and Beth are so cute with their tiny little mitts, catching the ball thrown from like a foot away and getting all excited.) I'll post pictures in this entry if I manage to take some soon.
I think it's mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging to have children be born close together (even under 2 years.) But I also think it's well worth it, and I am now (have been for a year) reaping the benefits, which are 2 best little friends with everything in common. Watching Lily and Beth do their thing together all day is a joy, a true joy. I should grab my camera more often, but here are some videos where, after they did what they were doing for a really long time I finally decided to get the camera. In the next video you see some of Grandma Linda's awesome hats she gave the kids, and the hoppy toys from Adam, Nancy, and the cousins.
We have a great PTA (no, I don't do anything in it but show up to the fun things) and they have annual skate nights at the local rink. It's really a fun time for everyone, but just a little difficult since all 4 kids need a fully-devoted parent for the night. Lily and Beth are so cute in the smallest available size skates. I am AMAZED how Thomas will go for it, since he skated for his summer camp last summer and got over the huge hurdle of it being an unknown thing. And Tyra was awesome. It was so hard for her to stay up and she hated having other kids keep leapfrogging around her on the wall, and even when she landed really hard, enough to cry, she kept trying and trying. I was so proud of her for not quitting.
This year may have been our first spring break when we actually went away to vacation as a family. With all his work traveling Tom has become a Marriott rewards member and he got a call last year sometime inviting us to stay in one of their vacation ownership resorts for free if we would just listen to the 2 hour presentation about said resorts (time-shares.) He said sure and at some point we decided to do Orlando in spring. We didn't know them how incredibly swamped Tom would be, trying to finish up his dissertation for the spring graduation. Leading up to March 9 Tom was spending very VERY long days at work (getting home between 9 and 10) so we the rest of the family were SO glad for the chance this preplanned vacation was giving us to see Tom. To start things off, Thomas threw up all night the Thursday before we were supposed to go. He recovered on the BRAT diet the next day and all was well as we started driving south on Sunday. Then in the hotel we stopped at in Savannah, Tom was sick all night freezing under a mountain of blankets. He recovered on the rest of our drive to Orlando. I took the kids swimming in the nifty beach pool while Tom slept. Then Lily was sick. The next day she recovered while we drove around in a little 4-person-pedaling car-thingy (I'm pretty sure that's what they're called, anyway!) The timeshare property was the perfect place to vacation for sick people, because just being in the 2 bedroom apartment overlooking a little (fake) island was "fun" enough. We still kept talking to my brother Ben who works for Disney about possibly getting Disneyworld tickets, but when Thomas vomitted that night we decided it was a good thing we hadn't bought our tickets in advance I we had meant to. Next day was Tyra's turn to be sick and she hung on longer, losing it at various places around the resort. But I will say, she still managed to do some great paddling on the paddle boats. Miniature golf was probably the only outing where everyone was just not having fun by the end. Good part, of course was just going back to the room and letting the kids play in the big hot tub while Tyra slept.
Maybe it's just because I never got sick, but I think that we had a surprisingly good time, all things considered. The best part was that we got to stop by and see cousin Cora on our way home, but's that's food for another post...
Tyra had her first concert in January. She started playing the flute in the middle of September. Most schools in our area don't start playing instruments until 5th grade, but ours is a music and technology magnet so the kids get to start a year earlier. It's always so amazing to me to see my kids learning new things, especially when I'm not the one teaching them. It feels like magic! I have absolutely loved listening to Tyra practice while I'm making dinner.
My sister Lisa (younger by 4 years) came to America for the last half of January. We got to see them as they arrived then again as they left (they went to Utah and California in between.) The most exciting part was getting to see our new nephew and cousin, Aaron Levi. He was so sweet with us all! He reminded me of my Grandpa often when he would do a little half-smile like he was sort of indulging me in my antics trying to get him to smile and laugh. He's like a wise little man. I loved that he would actually come to me and snuggle into my shoulder. The kids loved him too, especially Elizabeth. Grandma Lee had taught Tyra to knit and then taught Evie when she was out in Utah, so the cousins thought they were quite stylin' in their matching knit shrugs. Lily and Beth were delighted to have David and Evie to themselves when TnT went to school, and they followed them around all day long. As for seeing Lisa again, well, it's always bitter-sweet, since I end up spending too many thoughts on the "what if..." imagining her living nearby. I am so jealous of people who live close to family. Ever since our first gathering as sisters with kids I've dreamed of living on the same block as Anne and Lisa. Sure, we would probably bug each other and end up hurting each others' feelings, but we'd also laugh together, play together, talk endlessly, and help and support each other. Good thing for the phone, as it is.
This is about the cutest face I've ever seen on one of my kids crafts! Grandma Linda spent hours with my craft-loving girls making these gingerbread men and more. They sure are lucky to have such a great grandma! (Uh, that's wonderful grandma, not great-grandma!!) So Uncle Mikey came on New Years Eve, and my Mom went home on New Years morning. Uncle Mikey continues to be a favorite with the kids. He ended up babysitting a bunch as I ran this and that errand, and never had the slightest problem. The kids just love him. He sat in the back of the minivan the entire drive down to NC to see Janine and Brian's baby Cora be blessed. He's the mellowest, nicest guy! This picture is in NC when Lily didn't want to fall asleep in her bed so Mikey let her come give him a hug and sit by him and she fell asleep on him like that. Cora the beautiful sweet baby had a great blessing day. She didn't cry at all during Brian's prayer, and she looked so cute in her hand-crocheted dress. Grandma Linda bought the girls some very fancy dresses for the occasion so we tried a family photo, though most of the kids weren't in the mood. And the star of the show, CORA. Here seen on the plasma car with Janine. I was so happy to finally get to know the little person behind all the cooing I've heard on the phone. She refused to look at me most of the time, but was happy to let me hold her, so I held her out and kissed her sweet bald head. My favorite moments with her was when I got to change her diaper and when I was done she finally looked at me and started talking and talking. She has a very advanced vocabulary for a 2 1/2 month old! All sorts of vowels and consonants in there!
After our Christmas party on Saturday night our table was covered with treats that friends had left behind for us. On Sunday I told Thomas he could eat anything on the table since he'd eaten his good food. He said ANYthing? and then proceeded to "eat" the box of ziploc baggies:) Mr Literal reminds me of his uncle Micah as a kid quite often!!--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Elizabeth is going through the telephone stage where anything can be a phone, and she loves to pick up things and say "hello" with them up to her ear. What really cracks us up is when she puts both hands over both ears and runs around saying "hello! hello!" really loud. She's interrupted Family Home Evening and even family prayer that way. It's imPOSSible not to bust out laughing!!
Lillian was happy to take a bath in the middle of the day last Saturday. She refused to put any clothes on afterwards and so danced au natural all day long. She ate and played, and watched her shows as comfortable as a completely innocent girl could. She didn't even get embarrassed when KC and Emily came over for a visit. But when Tom started to open the bathroom door at bedtime Lily, seated on the toilet, pushed the door shut screeching "Dad! I need my PRIVACY!"