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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fasting when you can't fast

Today being Fast Sunday (In the LDS church, we set aside the first Sunday of every month to fast for whatever needs we stand in need of), I've been thinking of fasting as I got ready for church. I realized that in the last six and a half years I have been married, I haven't been able to fast for over four and a half of them. That's over 2/3 of my marriage I've been unable to fast!

As we've been teaching Kessa why Daddy doesn't eat these mornings, we've simplified it to this: When you need something from Heavenly Father, you pray and ask for it. But sometimes you really need something. You need or want it so much that you're willing to do even more than a simple prayer to show Heavenly Father how much it means to you. That's what fasting does.

This powerful tool I have largely not utilized over the past 6 and a half years due to pregnancy and nursing. But several months ago, while explaining to Kessa why we fast, I realized that was silly. Heavenly Father made my body. He understands that during pregnancy and nursing, my body needs extra nutrients and cannot go as long without eating. He made me that way! I cannot believe that he would expect me to forego the blessings that come from fasting simply because I am also nourishing a child.

It got me thinking. If fasting is a way of sacrificing something in order to show God my greater desire for blessings, why couldn't I sacrifice something else?

So I have. For the last several months I start my fast with something different. I usually start by thinking, "What is it I really want right now that I could live without, but would be a sacrifice?" Sometimes it's a particular book I'm reading (especially if I'm at a climax). Sometimes it's sugar. Sometimes it's anything other than simple, mostly-bland-but-still-nutritious food. This approach is completely customizable to the person.

Now, the scriptures specifically talk about fasting from food and drink, so I am not suggesting that everyone deviate from that. When I am able to properly fast, I do. But I think too often I've thought of pregnancy and nursing or being sick as a "Get out of Fast Sunday Free" pass. I have rarely stopped to think of the blessings I am joyfully missing out of. So now during the times that I am not capable of a participating in a full fast, I believe that Heavenly Father accepts what I can do. I am satisfied with this work-around.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Something new

So, as most of you have realized, for the last year and a half, I've been writing my blog as a letter to BJ's sister, Jessa. She has been serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cambodia. Not wanting to miss a single detail, I sent her all the details. But as much as I love the details, I fear I may have lost much of my readership. Most people don't want to know the nitty gritty details of my life. Plus, I've just felt like it's time for my blog to take a different direction for awhile. So as soon as Jessa was done, I stopped blogging. Unsure what to write, I just stopped writing. For a month and a half.

So today starts something new. I'm not sure what it is yet, but I guess we'll find out together as it unfolds.

For today, I'll catch you up on all the missed kiddisms (with a few adult guest appearances)...

  • Kessa: do you know why I love Papa [Lovell] so much and why he loves me so much? Because he has that little thing [flashlight] that when you put it on my finger, it turns my finger red. 
  • Me: It would take me more than my whole life to travel to the sun.
    Kessa: But not the firemen. Because they are superfast!
  • Abby: I'm two and Kessa's five, so I'm old.
  • Kessa: When can I get my ears punished? (She meant pierced.)
  • Abby (age 2.5) spent a few minutes examining her mouth in the mirror. Then she told me, “This tooth! It fell out. I need to get my tooth pillow.” I laughed and asked, “Your tooth fell out and you need to put it in your tooth pillow?” She very seriously looked straight in my eyes and said, “I need money.”
  • Kessa: If we all like green like you do, then we'd all have magic in our eyes!
  • Kessa wearing her Elsa dress walks into my bedroom, alone, and starts saying very earnestly to herself, “Don't. Feel. Don't feel! Don't feel.”
  • Kessa: Abby, you have to sleep.
    Abby: I can't; my hands are full. 
  • Resa: So, I was thinking about this the other day. I'm going to be the one to go to all of my siblings' funerals. If we all live to be the age of… old. I'm going to go to all of them! BJ, you're not going to go to anyone's except maybe Nick's. But let's be honest. We're all going to go to Nick's.
  • Abby: Oh! Look! My shadow is happy!
  • Me: How do we earn points?
    Kessa: Wellllllll… that's a very good answer. 
  • BJ: I wouldn't get to wear my Transformer's dress.
  • Me: What do you want for lunch?
    Abby: peanut butter
    Me: Do you want it on toast?
    Abby: No
    Me: On bread?
    Abby: No
    Me: What do you want it on?
    Abby: I want peanut butter.
    Me: Ok. But what do you want to eat your peanut butter on?
    Abby: Because I don't like it.
    Me: You don't like peanut butter?
    Abby: No
    [30-second pause]
    Abby: I want peanut butter.
    Me: Do you just want to just eat it with a spoon?
    Abby: No. 
  • Abby, speaking to her stuffed monkey: Monkey Pearl Homer. Stop. Stop! STOP! Oh, Monkey… sorry. Do you want to cuddle? You need to stop yelling. Ohhhh. Do you need to change your diaper? Oh, is it owie? Sorry.
  • BJ, telling to story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf: Sheep just aren't all the interesting. They don't play games or tell jokes or make you pizza.
  • Abby: Let's go get oatmeal!
    BJ: Just a second, I'm kissing mommy.
    Abby: And hug! And tickle!
    [BJ tickles me.]
    Meanwhile, Abby: Sorry. Sorry, Mommy. Sorry. Sorry about that. 
  • Kessa found a camera and is going around taking pictures. She was taking one of Peter and I. "Don't smile so big, mom—your eyes are shutting." Hah!
  • BJ: Now that you’re getting your big teeth, you need to take care of them because you’ll never lose them.
    Kessa: Yes I will! I met a lady that was really, really old… (then she got distracted, but I think we can all see where this was going…)
  • Kessa's homework today [Nov 17] is to write numbers as high as she can. Try to get to at least 20.
    She did that easily.
    I asked if she could get higher.
    She said she could get to 100. I challenged her to do it.
    So she hid the paper from me and wrote by 10s up to 100. 😂
  • Kessa was coming up with words that start with N for homework. Without really thinking I told her to think of letters, colors, or animals. She asked what letter I was thinking of. And then I realized I had meant to say number. So I said, “Oh, that was silly. Letters aren't really words. I guess we could say N, but that's not a word.” She retorted, “But N starts with 'e'. Eh-n.”
  • We’re trying to keep the kids off screen time during the morning. This morning Abby had been asking to watch a show and I kept telling her, “In the afternoon.” At one point I was out on my computer and BJ was in the bedroom getting ready when Abby came out and told me to go talk to Daddy. When she wants something, she’s very insistent about it, so I decided to placate her and went in to talk to him. Next thing I know, she’s shutting my bedroom door—with her on the outside. Now, I can add two and two better than my two-year old, and just laughed, telling BJ what I suspected.

    I gave her a few minutes, then went back out to find her hiding behind the blue hand chair (not very effectively), on the iPad. I put my hands on my hips and said, “Abby, what are you doing?” She looked up, wide-eyed, and said, “Mommy, go talk to Daddy!” When I didn’t move, she grabbed the iPad, pulled it behind the chair and exclaimed, “Mommy! Go!”

    I admit, I left and let her watch. It was too hard to not laugh in front of her.

And since he can't talk, I'll just remind you all that this dude is awesome:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The basement!

Jessa ~

This blog feels weird. It's the last letter of your mission. That alone is weird. But... I still have two more Sundays before I see you. So it's not really the last letter. I feel kind of like I'm in limbo here. Which, I'm sure, is nothing compared to what you're dealing with. So for your sake, let's just forget we even talked about this and just go on as if it's just another normal week, shall we?

So, Mondays are pretty rough. BJ has a meeting at the office on Mondays, which means I can't take advantage of the normal work-from-home perks, like leaving sleeping kids while I take Kessa to and from school. On a normal day, that would mean I take Kessa to school at 12:30, come home and put Abby down for a nap, then wake her up around 3:15 to pick up Kessa from school. That's not horrible. Though she often sleeps till 4 or 5, so waking her up does make me cringe. Especially as she's a royal grump when she doesn't get enough sleep. But Mondays are early out, which means I'd have to wake her up at 2:15, giving Abby only an hour and a half nap. I have dreaded this many times, but have always managed to work around it somehow. This Monday I didn't have a way around it.

Then realized that because I am brilliant, I scheduled Visiting Teaching during nap time on Monday. Brilliant, I say. [sigh] I normally schedule during nap time so I don't have to drag all my kids to the visits and keep them happy and quiet for an hour and a half or so. Normally it works great. Not when BJ isn't home, though. I frantically thought through all of my neighbors, trying to figure out who could come to my house during all of nap time. The one person I thought of already had plans. And then it hit me. Chelsea! She wasn't a neighbor, but she's often told me that she's willing to help however I need her. So I asked her, and she agreed! Not only did I get to VT without kids, but I also got to pick up Kessa without waking up Abby. Awesome.

To top it off, we decided to make this a regular thing. She'll come watch the kids every Monday so I can pick up Kessa and maybe run some errands, and then I'll teach her how to cook some of my recipes. Win-win! Plus, then I'll get time to get to know Chelsea better, which makes this a win-win-win. Mondays suddenly just went from awful to awesome.

At stake council recently I suggested we make a Stake Facebook group. On Sunday our stake president asked me to come in on Tuesday "to counsel [them] on a Facebook group." The whole time I was getting ready, putting on a dress, makeup, doing my hair, etc., I just kept laughing to myself that I was getting all dressed up ... to talk about Facebook.

So I told you that BJ's been tutoring Resa on math, right? Well on Wednesday one of my counselors brought her 9th grade son over and BJ spent almost 2 hours tutoring him on math. (He's going to start tutoring him weekly, even!) Then that evening Resa brought her roommate over for dinner, and then BJ tutored them on their math. He seriously spent well over 3 hours teaching math that day. When I asked him how he felt about it that night he said something like, "Honestly, it doesn't feel like a big deal at all. Just another day." I'm telling you. If we ever do end up homeschooling (which I doubt we will), he would make a much better homeschooling parent than I would. :)

Wednesday night Damian and family showed up. Late Thursday morning Kim left for a girls weekend with her sisters and mom, so we had the kids all weekend while Damian worked hard. (Except when he watched the BYU game. But that led to him staying up late to mourn their loss (both the game and the quarterback broke his leg) so he got lots more done that night. It may have evened out, time-wise.) He worked hard while I tried to balance 7 kids. The thing is, overall, the kids were all really good. Sure, there were times that I had to remind them to clean up their messes or tell them to stop fighting, but overall, they were great. But just having so many kids needing me was exhausting. My days often went something like this: Feed Peter. Walk out of his room to Kessa yelling, "Mommy! Help!" Help Kessa. Hear fighting. Go break up the fight. See Abby waddling and saying, "I made a mess." Clean up her potty accident. Realize I only had 45 mins to get Kessa ready for school and make lunch. Make lunch. Do Kessa's hair while she eats lunch. Tell her to go get her shoes on while I scarf down my lunch. Tell Lexi to put Kolter to bed. Go with Kessa to find her shoes. Calm Abby down because she's crying that she wants to come to. Rush both girls to the car. Drop Kessa off at school. Come home and put Abby to bed. Ask Lexi, Parker and Taegen to clean up the toys. Take a 10 minute break. Field questions about dinner. Etc. etc. Each thing on its own is easy enough. But just one right after another is... exhausting.

But it was all worth it! Because the basement is 99% finished! Damian is having ankle surgery next week and will be out for a few months, so he had to get as much done as possible this week. All that's left is the built-in shelving, so he's going to build those at home and bring them down another time and install them. For now, I'm not too worried about it. I just won't decorate those or bring down BJ's nerdy books just yet.

Walk-in game closet!!!

General Conference was this weekend. Normally I refuse to do any projects on Conference Saturday. I want to focus on Conference and figure I can sacrifice two Saturdays a year to building up my spirituality. But... the ox was in the proverbial mire this year with the basement. I was already stressing about focusing with 7 kids, when the apples I wanted to can came on and Travis declared Friday and Saturday his best days to can them. So we turned on conference and BJ and the kids went upstairs to watch it.

Cute story: We made bowls with candy in them and labeled them with common General Conference topics. As the kids hear those words, they get to eat a piece of candy. It helps them want to listen.
Before the first talk was over, the "Jesus" bowl was empty.

Just in case anyone doubted that we are Christian.

Meanwhile Travis, Brenda, and I canned and Damian worked on the basement. Thank goodness for live streaming and smartphones so we could all watch/listen. I definitely missed much of it though. Sunday afternoon was the only session I got fully, and that only because we went up to your parents' (Kessa got beads instead of candy there and made a conference necklace). So I'm making a goal to watch/listen/read all of them very soon. Hold me to that, k?

But we did can 47 pints of applesauce and 26 quarts of apple pie filling! Mmmm.

As an update, Kessa is doing better about fire. Still not great, but better. Damian promised her he'd install the smoke alarm while she was at school if she would promise to stay calm about them. She's done pretty well. Having her cousins distracting her all the time was a *huge* blessing. Of course, their last night here the smoke detector in her room ran low on batteries and started chirping in the middle of the night. rackafrackamurmurmurmur. But... hopefully we're on the downhill stretch.

And totally random, did you ever do the Pizza Hut Book It! program? Make a reading goal, if you make it, get a coupon for a free personal pan pizza every month. Well, apparently they just opened it up for adult alumni! AWESOME! But BJ says he didn't do it, so maybe you didn't either?

  • BJ: Abby, if there is a fire, where should you go?
    Abby: Ummm… to the moon.
  • Kessa, as I played games on my phone: Mommy! You shouldn't play screen time in the morning!

  • Kessa: Taegen, let's play Duck, Duck, Goose. You touch my head until you say frog or goose.
  • BJ read Kessa a book tonight that included a grandpa fixing a kite.
    BJ: Some grandpas are good at fixing kites. What are your grandpas good at?
    Kessa: Well, I have two grandpas. Grandpa Homer is like a farmer because he knows how to ride horses and stuff. Grandpa Lovell, well, he doesn’t really have a job. He just likes to sit around and eat apples.”
Random pics:

Building domino "temples" was high on the list of Fun Things this weekend.

As was the Saturday between-sessions picnic at the park.

Peter has almost figured out rolling over. But he still gets his arm stuck underneath him. So he just sucks on his fingers when he gets to that point. 

Also, Peter is definitely our first thumb sucker.

One cold day, Kessa requested hot chocolate and toast for lunch. It was so reminiscent of my childhood that I couldn't say no. So I had some, too. They were just so cute and having fun together.

<3 Tianna and Co.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Alice the camel has... two thumbs.

Jessa ~

So, two weeks. Can I do it? Yes. Because I'm going to go into less detail or skip entirely the things you probably don't care about at all.

Kessa's school carnival! It was largely giant bounce houses/slides. At first Kessa was nervous, but excited, but after her first ride down a giant inflatable slide, she was hooked. Abby wasn't far behind. But, while fun for them, it was kind of lame for the adults. I mean, cute watching kids go down slides and having the time of their lives, but I can see it being really boring when they get older and just do everything themselves. At least the money went to support the school. I assume. I hope.

Did I tell you about Mini Mozarts? A friend of ours in the neighborhood is doing a 45-minute, once a week class for kids 3-6 (Abby technically doesn't make the deadline because it's 3 in December and she's 3 in January, but we decided to give it a shot and so far, so good). It's just a fun music/dance kind of class in her home. Way low key, but super fun. Like, a couple of weeks ago they made ice cream by putting the ingredients inside baggies inside a giant bag of ice, and dancing around to music to shake it into ice cream. Awesome? I think so. Abby keeps talking about going to her music class where she gets to run around! It's her first ever extracurricular activity! And... she doesn't even have any curricular activities!

We went to Hale last Saturday. Season tickets were definitely one of our better monetary decisions. I've already budgeted in a monthly amount to set aside to pay for them every year. This time was She Loves Me, which was kind of like the stage production of You've Got Mail. But instead of them working at a separate bookstores, they both worked at the same perfumery. Still adorable. And funny. Teresa babysat for us. It's a lot harder with a nursing baby, so we had to run home from the play, feed him, then go out to dinner. Thankfully she worked with us.

Speaking of Resa, she's been coming over a time or two a week for BJ to give her some math tutoring. She's figuring out her math better and BJ is loving relearning all of it. He says crazy insane things like, "Tianna! I'm so excited! I learned something new tonight! I now understand why they put dividing polynomials in the curriculum where they do! It makes total sense to me now!" And I just kind of stare at him and blink a few times.  Hahaha.

The girls had their dentist appts this week. Kessa has another tiny cavity (she is our daughter, for sure). And everyone was shocked and amazed that Abby happily let them take x-rays of her teeth. Apparently that's not common at all for 2-year olds. But she wants to do what Kessa does, so she was super excited about it.

Because I'm a little insane and don't have enough on my plate (did I tell you I got 4 new primary presidencies on the same day and had to train them right about the same time that I also put on our annual training dinner for all the presidencies? Which was right before baptisms? Yeah. So glad that's over. I still feel a little overwhelmed by it, though.) I volunteered to be Kessa's room mother. Which so far sounds like I get to organize parties and convince all the parents to help out. Woo!

A neighbor texted me last week and told me the following story:
[My kids] were all sitting at the table nicely eating cereal, I went to my room for maybe 5-7 minutes to dry my hair. When I came out the kitchen floor was covered in the remainder of the bag of cereal, every last banana from the large Costco bunch I bought yesterday was open and partially eaten and all of my pots and pans were out on the back lawn having been thrown from the balcony!
Soon after she declared that she needed a girls' night. So she and I and one other friend got together one night after kids went to bed and had a girls' night! It was kind of awesome. There's a new thrift store called Tags in American Fork that has a bakery in it. So we went, bought dessert, and sat in a thrift store for like 2 hours, just talking and eating sugar. Then we went home. And it was really great.

Really, I'm just super glad I have friends here that I can do girls' nights with.  I remember one time when we lived in Orem, BJ and I went out to dinner on a date. We sat next to a table of women, clearly on a girls' night. And I remember thinking, "I don't have anyone I could do that with. All of my girl friends have moved out of state. And I don't know anyone well enough in Orem to just set something like that up with." And I was really, really sad about it. Apparently I just take a long time to really bond with people or something? I don't know. But now I know several people I would eagerly jump on a chance to girls' night with. And now I appreciate it a lot more.

Kessa has lost her 3rd and 4th teeth! The 4th was today and I got to pull it! It has been reaaaally loose for awhile now, but she really wants to lose it at school (because they get this tooth treasure chest necklace thing to put it in), so she's been really careful about what she eats and not to touch it and stuff. But today after church she was snacking on goldfish and suddenly she started crying and pointing to her mouth, so I looked inside and saw the tooth was still there, but there was blood gushing all around it. I told her we'd have to pull it, so she climbed up on the bathroom counter while I got a washcloth all wet and cold, then I reached in and pulled it out. Not that there was much pulling to do. At all. It was like it was just being held in by the teeth on either side or something and I just slid it out. She was really brave and cool about the whole thing. She isn't even super upset about not loosing it at school, because she still has 16 more teeth to lose. Plenty of opportunity.

I'm not sure what the state of the basement was last I updated you, but we now have carpet! And a sink! And a shower! And a toilet! And outlet/lightswitch plates! And vent covers! And he passed the final inspection (by the skin of his teeth, I might add, because he hadn't finished a few things quite yet, but we assured the inspector that we trusted him). Basically all that's left is a shower door, caulking, hanging doors, stair handrail, shelves, shingles on the playroom, and paint touchups. At least, that's all I can think of offhand. He's coming down this week, though, to finish as much as he can, and then either way we're going to move in because he's getting ankle surgery and will be out for a few months. And I don't want to sit with an almost-finished basement and not move in because there are still a few paint touchups left. We can deal.  BJ has already moved his office in and will probably start working there this week.

Kessa is doing great on the piano. She learns songs quickly, but even better, BJ taught her how to sound out songs. So she has taught herself how to play "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam" and "I am a Child of God" and "Happy Birthday." I am super impressed. She's also loving school. We've had a minor setback in her confidence, though. When Damian was putting in smoke detectors, for various reasons they went off several times. The first several sent her booking it outside with a blanket over her head, sobbing because she just knew there was a fire and it terrified her. It's been almost two weeks and we're just barely getting to the point where she doesn't jump and cover her ears every time she hears a beep. Like the microwave timer. Or the alarm when the fridge door is left open. (She's actually pretty good about that now, actually.) But she's also really clingy to BJ and I. We'll be outside playing and I'll go in and give her the option to stay out and play, but she'll quickly follow after me saying, "I just want to be wherever you are." She won't do things by herself. Even going to the bathroom. She's slowly improving there as we give her more love and quality time, and assure her that we're still here for her and that we're still really close. It's not perfect, but we're definitely seeing progress. Poor thing.

Abby continues to be adorable. I had an older couple tell me at church today that they love sitting behind us because she just loves to stand backwards on the pew and smile at them (and everyone else). And you'll learn soon enough that her smile is utterly heart-melting.  I've started disallowing screen time until after her nap, which usually isn't somewhere between 3 and 5 pm. Which means she doesn't get screen time for most of the day. And often when she wakes up it's then dinner time and playing with  Daddy time and then bedtime and she doesn't get any all day! Which as translated to fewer pterodactyl tantrums. There are still a few, but much fewer and further between. Which makes her far more endearing to me. :D She's also taken to building temples all over the place. I think it started when our friends, Nick and Brad, came to visit and they stacked some blocks in a pyramid shape and she declared it to be a temple. Now she throws pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals into a pile and declares it a temple. It's adorable to hear things like, "I slept in a temple!"

Peter is still the best baby ever, even though the last few nights he's started waking up again. I'm chalking it up to a growth spurt and am praying that he gets over it quickly. He's almost figured out rolling over. Today he started on his back and got all the way to his stomach except he couldn't get his one arm out from  under him, so it made it look like he was hugging himself. And after a few minutes there, he just flopped himself back onto his back. The girls adore him, and he's often surrounded by blankets, toys, pillows, etc. Kessa was on the top of the world today in church when I let her hold him. And he is just incredibly handsome. Love.

  • Me: Where were you when you had your accident?
    Abby: I was doing something to have an accident.
  • Abby, about her water bottle, “That’s my pink oooooooone… for my own hand!” (referencing Brave, complete with Scottish accent)
  • Abby, singing: Alice the camel has two thumbs.
  • Kessa: This is a great season for apple pie because this is the season that pump…kins…
    [I picked up my phone to write that down]
    Kessa: Are you going to joke that?
  • Me: What are you going to choose?
    Kessa: Juice?!
    Me: Choose. Juice and choose kind of sound alike, don't they?
    Kessa: But that's what you said.
    Me: I asked what are you going to choose?
    Kessa: That's what you do in your mouth. Chews!

And... I think we're done for the night. G'night!
~ Tianna and Co.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Just kiddisms

Jessa ~

Ok, I lied. I don't have the catch up post ready yet. Tonight we did a 3rd Sunday dinner since it was birthday week and General Conference is the week after 4th Sunday, so we thought we'd spread out the family dinners. And we didn't get home until almost 9:30, then had to bedtime and now you're probably online and... I just don't have time to gather pictures and stories and such. Instead, I'm gonna give you all the kiddisms (with one adult appearance) I've collected over the last several weeks. It's everyone's favorite part of the blog anyway, let's be honest. :)
  • Kessa: "Mommy, we’re playing a new game. We’re playing house. And this is my new wand."
    Then she wandered off muttering, “Now where is that power button…”
  • Me: You're a silly goose. Are you a silly goose?
    Abby: No! I not a silly goose!
    Me: Are you a goof ball?
    Abby: Noooooo!!!
    Me: Then what are you?
    Abby: I a duhgoo!
    Me: You're a … duck goose?
    Abby: Nooo—Yes!!!
  • Kessa, whispering: Mommy, when I grow up, I want to be God.
    Me: You want to be God?
    Kessa, aloud: Yes. Because then I could fly!
  • Abby likes to ask, “Green or white?” all the time. I think because our ice cream options were, for a time, mint and vanilla so I'd ask her which she wanted by color. 
  • Me: I see the temple; I win!
    Kessa: I see the Draper temple; I win.

  • Me: Were you looking at the fan?
    Kessa: No I was not! I was looking at the fan aaaaaaaaand the singling [ceiling]. Aaaaaaaaand the lightbulb.
  • Abby says helicopter as “hello-copter”
  • BJ: What notes is it if I do duh, duh, duuuuh. duh, duh, duuuuh. duh, duh, duuuuh.
    Kessa: Two quarter notes and a half note.

    So smart!!!
  • Kessa: I had so much fun there. You have to go there. If I keep bugging you, that means you have to go there, right?
  • Me: And then we can say Audrey and Kessa snapped these beans.
    Kessa: Yeah! We can say “Me and me striped these kings!”
  • Damian: I tried not to talk to him just so I wouldn't be mean.
  • We were driving through North Salt Lake when we passed through that area smells strongly of sulpher when Abby pipes up and says, "Mommy! I smell poop?"
  • Kessa has been figuring out how to play I Am a Child of God on the piano by herself. I'm impressed!
  • Abby telling us about Brave: Mewida fell down. She fell off her black horse. She fell off her black horse and was sad. She wanted her mommy and daddy. Her mommy was sad. Mewida wanted her daddy. She wanted boys.
You're welcome. :D

~ Tianna

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Labor Day

Jessa ~

So, Labor Day is gonna get its own post. You've probably already heard most of this, but now you get to hear it all again a few weeks later. Deal. ;)

So, instead of the traditional camping, we did a stay-cation and camped at your parents house. Of course, BJ and the girls were the only ones who camped, but the girls loved it. We pitched a tent and put them in sleeping bags and everything. They even got rained on once. Peter and I, however, slept inside. And since he has been sleeping all night long for at least a month now (we're talking 10-12 hours), I ended up getting great sleep while we were there. Awesome.

We went up Friday night, got the tent set up and just had some casual fun. Saturday morning we got up and went up to Deer Creek reservoir to go boating. Bad timing. It was windy and rainy. But it was still good for fly boarding, which was, as you'd expect, the center of attention. I apparently didn't get any pictures there, though. Probably because I was busy holding a baby and girls all while cuddled under a blanket. :D

We left early because BJ had a work party in Herriman at his boss' house. Kessa has been counting down to it for at least a month. Literally. We've had a countdown chain hanging up in our kitchen that she faithfully cut every morning. No way we could miss it. It had a bounce house! (That's actually what she was counting down to. This house was super nice. Really large. Beautifully landscaped backyard. Trampoline. Swing set. And a rented bounce house. Abby didn't get much of a nap all day, so she was pretty cranky, but overall did decently well. Kessa was in heaven. She's all about making new friends and being a social butterfly lately. It was also fun meeting all of BJ's coworkers, finally. I've only ever met one before. (Well, and one more that didn't work there at the time, and as of the party still hadn't started working there, but had been hired to start the next week or so.)

This is most of BJ's coworkers and their families. I did get the memo about the matching shirts, but we got locked out of your parents' house and they were still up at the lake, so my shirt sat in our bedroom. BJ has his Day One shirt on, but he chose to wear his black one, which not many did.

Sunday was a busy church day. The girls stayed up with your family while BJ and I came down to our ward. He had to do tithing and I needed to deliver some stuff to 9 different primaries. Turns out, that takes most of my day to do, especially when I have to factor in feeding Peter. My church attendance ended up being a half hour of sacrament. But at least now I know I can do it!

Monday morning ended up being our most event-filled day. Which was appropriate as was the actual holiday. We had these really yummy waffles filled with crystalized sugar, but they had to take time to rise before they could cook, so we pulled out the nerf guns and had a war. We divided up into teams and went to town. Would you believe it's only my first ever nerf gun war at your house? It was actually really fun.  (Surprise, Tianna! Something everyone else loves is actually fun!) And I did a lot better than I thought I would do, considering my past experiences with Laser Tag. After 3-4 team battles we opened it up as a free for all. I did far worse on that. Hah!

Have you heard about the ALS ice bucket challenge? Basically, to raise awareness and funds for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), this challenge went viral. Someone challenges you and you have to either donate $100 or dump a bucket of ice water on your head and donate $10. Then you get to challenge 3 more people. It's seriously all over Facebook. I know a lot of people are really sick of it and/or think it's stupid, but I think it's a brilliant marketing ploy. Utilize the power of social media peer pressure. Yeah, it's been made into something fun, but doesn't fundraising often do that? Anyway, I got challenged a few weeks ago, but I'll blog that in another post. The next day, the neighbor girl challenged Kessa. And then her cousin challenged her, too. So we talked a lot about it, and she decided to do it. I think she mostly wanted to challenge other people.  Hah! But she also decided to donate $1 of her own money! [proud momma] It was really cute! She challenged Nick, Chelsea, and Grandma Homer.  I challenged Teresa, so she did her challenge that day, too. Videos when you get home.

Then during nap time I stayed home with the kids while everyone else went on a massive zip line and checked out Nick's tree house.

But, of course, the epic part of the day, as you've surely heard, was the First Annual Indoor International Mini Golf Tournament. While everything was getting set up, I was packing to go home. I actually hadn't planned on staying for it, but Kessa had helped Resa and Steven set their course up and wanted to play it. So we ended up staying and becoming The Press. We've got a bunch of videos that we hope to edit into a movie. It was pretty epic.

There were three courses: The first was up in your parents' bedroom/bathroom. You started up the stairs of the bathtub, hit it through an obstacle course of balloons taped to the ground and papers set up in a zig zag fashion, then up a cardboard box into the hole. The next was Shawn's. It started on the landing, then went down rain gutters on the stairs, shooting into the living room. Hole in One if you got it into the planter box that big fake tree is in. Otherwise you had to hit it through a few obstacles into a hole. The last hole was Nick and Chelsea's in the family room. You started by standing on the arm of the sofa and hitting it off the shelf that pulls down on that cabinet thing. It went down a piece of cardboard onto the coffee table, which had a perimeter of books set up around it, then down another board, around a corner, then up to the hole, which was cut out of a paper plate.

But that's not enough, oh no. Everyone dressed up and came up with names from whatever country they were from. It was hilarious. But I think my favorite part was when we were all gathered 'round Shawn's course on the stairs, when Aunt Cher and Grandma Goddard unexpectedly showed up. Next thing you know, Cher is dressed up and carrying Jax around as part of her costume and participating in the tournament. Awesome.

At the very end, Kessa won the entire tournament by popular vote and got an old trophy of one of the boys'. Some little league basketball trophy or something. She adores it. She carries it around and begged to take it to the cabin (I didn't let her because I'm a mean mother). She's even started to build her own mini golf course a time or two, but it always got cut short by other activities. Like dinner and such. 

Other random photos:

BJ and Abby hanging out on screens.

Teresa and Kessa having way more fun on screens.

Peter has started to smile! But it's really hard to get a good picture of it when he's on your lap.

One time I was looking for Kessa and found her out front wrapped up in the blanket, playing house. She was "sleeping."

And because Peter is just as awesome as his Daddy, he gets this outfit. Which is actually one of my favorites right now.

Overall, we think Labor Day Stay-cation is the winner. It was nice to still be able to do things at home when needed. It was nice to be able to sleep in the house with a newborn. And we still were able to do incredibly fun things and have yummy food and play lots of games. Win!

Island Park

Jessa ~

Wow. Lots to catch up. I'm gonna work backwards and blog by events, so you may get multiple posts tonight... if I have the time and energy. Or maybe multiple next week. We'll see.

So last week was Island Park! Several months ago we decided not to do Lake Powell again, a) because Abby is still not cautious enough and b) it was (we thought) during Kessa's first week of school. (Turns out, Kindergarten starts a week later than the rest of the school, so we would have been fine.) Where she's a creature of routine, we thought missing out on the first week where routine is set would be a bad thing. Of course, your parents decided not to go, either, so it worked out anyway. But we still wanted to have a family vacation this summer, so when the chance to go to the cabin opened up, we jumped on it. It would mean pulling Kessa out of her third week of school, but I was ok with that. It's only kindergarten. And their sight words this week were "a" and "go". Which she's known for months. No regrets here.

So, let's do a photo dump with some commentary, and then I'll fill in more commentary as I think of it at the end.

We (my family, plus Mitchell and Audrey) left Friday night after work, listened to kids scream for half the drive, arrived at my parents' house, and promptly put all the kids to bed. Whew! Never driving that again at bedtime if I can help it. There my nephew, Parker, hung three different "swings" on my parents' willow tree (the red dinosaur, Abby's favorite, was intended to be one of those toys at a park that's mounted in cement and you can rock back and forth. There was also a tire. But the tire horse was actually intended to be a swing). They were, clearly, a hit.

The kids also helped with canning. We picked and snapped and canned beans, and also made spaghetti sauce (with tomatoes and peppers from my own garden!)

They also helped eat the produce. The giant carrots were a win all around.

But who doesn't love some raw corn on the cob, right?

Then Sunday night we went up to the cabin! (Melanie and the boys, Reid and Redick, came up on Monday afternoon.) These pictures are all out of order, but I don't wanna take the time to fix it. So here we go.

Fishing (or rather, throwing an unhooked line from a kids' fishing pole), the canoe, and the river were all big hits.

Abbe always wanted to go in the river. Despite how incredibly cold it was.

Or just to reach down into it. Or... try at least.

At Big Springs. This smile is going to win Abby all sorts of beauty pageant awards, I'm sure of it. Oh my gosh. I'm in such big trouble. Also, Kessa's hair looked like homeless hair for most of the week. It was a vacation! Give us a break! Though, despite that, she still looks adorable here.

One day we went over to Harriman State Park for a hike one morning. We were a little concerned over what to do with Peter, because it wasn't a stroller-friendly hike and I didn't think to bring a wrap. In the end, we used a bed sheet to make a Peruvian-style wrap (but I wore it on my front instead of my back, because I didn't trust it at all. Plus I flipped my hair out and it was poking him in the face when he was on my back). This hike earned me my Rugged Momma merit badge. On top of making a wrap out of a bed sheet, I also managed to nurse him while hiking. That's right. I win at life.

The ladder was, unsurprisingly, a favorite. Last year the three littles (Abby and the twin boys) couldn't climb it and only started to even try on the last day. This year it drew all 5 kids (not Peter, obviously) like a magnet. Abby would get 2/3 up and then get scared and wouldn't go up or down without someone actually touching her. She did it a few times, but only when she was well rested and well fed. And surprisingly, no one fell off and died. (I had my doubts that streak would last, but we managed to make it through.)

The last day the men folk took all the kids (except Peter) to Mesa Falls while Melanie and I did all the cleaning. So much easier without kids underfoot. Again we have an example of Abby's winning smile.

There were several canoe rides. They all loved it.

We did a craft during one canoe ride when the littles were out and Kessa and Audrey were inside. We took a canvas, wrote their names with painters tape, put blobs of paint all over it, then let them have at it with a paint brush. It sounds all great and Pinterest-worthy, right? It... pretty much came out as several shades of brown. So we let it dry and one of these days I'll let Kessa finish. By putting blobs of one color of paint on, letting her paint with that. Then after it dries, doing another color. Live and learn, right?

Despite missing out on most of the activities, Peter was still there! He read a book with Daddy on the couch.

But mostly he slept or laid in his gym. Sometimes with more attention than he really wanted. Hah! But seriously, he is the best baby ever. Ever. I can't tell you how many times we (all the adults) just forgot he was there. And he'd have been laying in his gym at our feet for an hour. He's just so quiet and happy. And then he would nap a lot, too. He would sleep through us going in and out of the bedroom. He would sleep through the washer and dryer going. And holy cow, that washer can shake that entire room on its spin cycle. We turned it on one night just before we went to bed (Audrey got sick and threw up, so we had to wash the sheets) and I thought it was gonna shake me right out of my bed. But he slept through at least a half dozen loads.

And lest you think Abby is pure cuteness, she's also got a silly streak inside her, too. Her new discovery is that she can make her eyes look incredibly creepy. But she doesn't understand creepy yet. She just thinks it's funny. And it is. (Don't mind BJ's model-pose in the background. Bahahaha.)

Other non-picture events of the week:

We played several games. Not as many as the littles didn't take a morning and afternoon nap like they did last year. But we still got several. The Harris' rented 4 games from Board Game Revolution, so we played those. There was Mice and Mystics, which is an adventure game. So you're characters in a story and you basically act out all the challenges and read a story in between each one. The first two nights we played that at bedtime. We did one chapter each night, but they were long. While fun, we realized it could easily eat up our entire vacation, so we stopped after that. The craziest part was that we were playing humans that got turned into mice, then at the very end of the second night, when Audrey started to throw up, Mitchell found a mouse in the kitchen. Yipes! (A few nights later we saw it (we prayed it wasn't a different one) in our bedroom. The boys caught it and threw it in the river, though.) And if that night wasn't crazy enough, Kessa woke up at 6 am with a bloody nose that got all over her, two blankets, and the carpet in the loft. Yipes! And on Friday, both Kessa and Abby got low-grade fevers that made them very cuddly and unenergetic. But by evening they were both just fine and happy again.

Another rented game was Word on the Street, which is a simple word game that is fun. I wouldn't mind having it. And Scotland Yard, which is easy to learn, but very strategic. The strategy reminds me of chess, where you have to think 4+ turns ahead. It hurt my brain. But everyone else really liked it. And the fourth one was a kids game. It was along the lines of Sudoku, but with shapes and colors. And it gave you hints as to where they all went, each puzzle getting harder and harder. Kessa did surprisingly well at it. It's also on my wish list now.

And of course, we played a bunch of others like Dominion, Kingdom Builder, Small World, Stone Age, Rummikub, etc.

We made and froze several dinners before we went up. That was awesome. It meant we could just pull out dinner a day or two beforehand, then throw it in the oven. I also made 3 loaves of crusty bread and a chocolate zucchini cake that I froze and took up. Win! Several other meals we just took up bags of what we'd need. (Like one morning we had German Pancakes. I just measured out the flour and salt into baggies before we left, then it was just add milk and eggs.) It was awesome, because then we didn't have to take up bags of flour, rice, or spice jars. Just grab the baggie with the pre-measured stuff, dump, and throw away! It made packing food to come home way easier.

There's a new fire pit there. It was pretty cold most of the week, but Friday we went out and made s'mores. Unfortunately, that's when the girls were sick, so they weren't as into it. But still enjoyed it, I think.

They loved the player piano. It's really a shame it's broken, because we heard far more "THUD THUD THUDs" as they pumped the pedals than actual music, but it gave them a good workout and we got some music out of it.

Because Kessa missed school I insisted we still had school time. 2-3 times we did spelling lessons. One day BJ did piano lessons. Another day she did that shape/color game and I counted it as math. I've once again decided I have little interest in home schooling. She's great and loves to learn, and informal lessons she does great at. But formal lessons are hard because she just doesn't focus well, so a 15 minute lesson turns into an hour because I'm constantly having to draw her attention back. I don't have the patience for that. But I do have the patience to do informal lessons and less-frequent formal lessons.

We put all three toddlers in the cold room. We took one of the twin beds off the frame and risers and just put the box springs and mattress on the floor, then all three of them slept on it together. They did surprisingly well. Several times we went in to find Abby using one of the boys as a pillow, or totally cuddled up with one. Hah! Too bad a flash would likely have woken them up. I really wanted a picture. Alas.

Overall, it was a fantastic week. It was very low-key, the kids were great, friends were great. Lots of games, lots of sugar, and lots of good food. We couldn't ask for more. But it has gotten us thinking, what happens in 10-15 years when Nana and her siblings are all gone. Will the cabin last through subdividing one more generation? Will one family buy out the others? What happens if we don't have a cabin anymore?

The cabin is my kind of vacation. Turns out, I really prefer a vacation where I can just relax and spend time with my family. I don't need big outings, fun toys, etc. I'm happy with people, food, games, and a good view of nature. (I'm sure this doesn't surprise you at all.) Being right next to the river is great because it offers some low-key adventures (the canoe) that I don't have to participate in, but makes others happy. And there are lots of opportunities for hikes, which I actually enjoy.

All that together got BJ and I thinking about our future. We think someday we'd like to build/buy a cabin somewhere. Probably somewhere closer than Island Park so that we can go more than 1 or 2 weeks a year. Or maybe we'd have to go in on it with other people so it gets used more often. Or something. BJ even got online and started looking at listings up Heber Valley. Mostly just to get an idea of cost. We've talked about different locations we'd like. Though, realistically, it couldn't happen for another 10-15 years, probably. But I think we're really wanting to do it, if it's feasible. How fun! Look at us being all grown up... (weird!)

Anyway, that was our week at the cabin. Can't wait to go up there again!