Saturday, December 6, 2014

BATMAN(s)!!!

It is the privilege of the older siblings to dress up the younger. The big girls used to dress Ezra up like a Princess. Now he dresses up Annie like Batman! And so it continues...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A dream come true.

Dorothy drew a picture of a knight riding on a lion--two of Ezra's favorite things--and presented it to him. He is in awe that two such things could be brought together. He fell asleep with it in his hands last night, murmuring words like "knight," "big daddy lion," and "sword."

Then my dream came true
when the three youngest fell asleep while I read Nancy Drew to Dorothy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thankful.

I am so thankful for this little family of mine. Every little (and big!) person adds a different joy to the dynamic.

Thanksgiving evening, after Lucy and Ezra were in dreamland, Dorothy (our night owl) and I went down to the kitchen to nibble on leftovers. We got out turkey and mustard and sliced open some rolls. As we made sandwiches, we realized it was starting to snow. 

"Mama! Look! Isn't it beautiful? Can I bring my plate over here by the window so I can watch?" We turned off the kitchen light and the back deck light on. And there we sat in the peace of that evening, together. Munching on an abundance of good food going into our strong, healthy bodies, watching the snow spread its white blanket. 

These are the moments I treasure most. They are simple, quiet, and full of love. For these, I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Caught.

Marty and I try to pull off an at home date night on Friday nights--pending one of us doesn't fall asleep getting the kids down!

We sometimes like to get a treat to go along with the night, and I must admit I am a sucker for Ben and Jerry's.

After polishing off a pint, I put the empty container in the sink. Dorothy, whose legs are getting longer every day, is now tall enough she can peek over the counter into the sink. The next morning she looks at the empty ice cream pint and then at me. "Mom," she says, "did you and dad have a Romance night last night?" I guess our secret treats are not so secret! And I love that instead of a date it is our Romance. Viva la Romance Night!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

You said it.

Ezra is quickly becoming quite the dramatic little man--I'm sure having two big sisters has something to do with it.

Yesterday he was struggling to get his pants on. He was rolling around on the ground becoming more and more frustrated when he exclaimed, "this is HORRIBLE! It's the worst day EVER!!" I couldn't hold my laughter back on that one.

With his great love for Annie, he is also frequently talking about more babies. If you ask him how many more, he jumps up and exclaims, "I want more babies, and More Babies, and MORE BABIES!" We'll see if he is singing the same tune when she starts crawling and getting into his stuff. 

I love my little boy.



Monday, November 17, 2014

This girl.

She has my heart.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Roll Over.

Last night as we were eating dinner, Annie was on her blanket in the living room kicking around. She has been trying for weeks to roll over, but usually only makes it about halfway there.

We finished up our soup, and as I stood to clear my bowl i noticed Annie was trying harder than ever to roll. It was a great night where we were all home with no rush for the night, so we all gathered in a circle around our baby. We cheered and clapped and encouraged until she did it! On her first full day of being 3 months old, our Annie rolled over!

It was such a sweet family moment. I loved watching her siblings clap and cheer and kiss her after her accomplishment. It was a tender and joyful moment, even if it was something simple. I love this family of mine.



Friday, November 14, 2014

Adventure.

Monday was one of those days where things just went wrong. It was one of those chances to look at a situation and decide to see the good or to just focus on the bad. I went to bed that night feeling blessed and grateful for so many things. 

On the way home from a doctor's appointment and running errands, our van decided to die on the side of the road. It was lunchtime. I realized my cell phone was not in the diaper bag. I had all 4 kids with me and no way to contact anyone. As the car came to a stop and I put on the hazard lights, the first thing I told the kids was, "we need to pray." As a little girl my mother would drive me and my siblings across the Utah and Nevada desert to visit her parents every summer. There were no cell phones, hardly any other cars or places to seek help, and it was hot out there. On one trip we broke down several times and she always had us pray first thing. Within 10 minutes a patrol car would show up--it was miraculous, truly. So I remembered my mother, and we prayed.

I felt safe, but tears did well up in my eyes as I stood helpless on the side of the road, hoping for someone to stop. Thankfully, we were in a high traffic area and after 5 minutes or so a sweet old man stopped. He also had no cell phone but assured me he would find a way to get assistance to us.

A few minutes later brought a firefighter by. He let me use his cell phone to call the few numbers I knew off hand and to use directory assistance for those I did not. No one was answering. He stayed there with me and my children until a patrolman from the local college happened by. These two sweet men talked with my children, gave them stickers and badges and kept them all calm and happy. 

We finally had the city police for that area arrive. He told me we would have to tow the car because it was such a high traffic area we couldn't leave it. However, I still had no one to come get my kids and not all 5 of us could fit in his vehicle. He made another call, and yet another officer took time out of his day to help our family. I rode with Annie and Ezra in the back of the first officer's car--with a normal back seat. The two big girls went in the back of the second officer's car--a plastic, plexiglass, and barred cage! I wish I had my camera! The kids thought this day was getting better and better. 

After getting the van into the shop and gathering up all my children (and car seats!) from the two police cars, we still needed lunch. So we walked across the street to a restaurant. A RESTAURANT? Now my kids KNEW this day was awesome. They happily ate, so oblivious to what an emotional drain the day had been for me so far. I was so grateful to see them smiling and laughing and all SAFE. 

Another hour or two later, the van was fixed, the bill was paid, and we finally made it home. The amount of money was unexpected for sure, but we felt blessed we could cover it. Marty's calling exposes him to trials beyond what we can imagine, and if having to simplify Christmas a little more or eat from our food storage is all we need to do to recover, we feel incredibly blessed. 

The largest lesson I learned was of the faith of my children. I can see why the scriptures teach us to be more like them. They never once worried or felt scared. They completely trusted Heavenly Father, me, and all our earthly angels that day to take care of them. They were joyful even through the trial. 

I am grateful for our mountains to climb. I'm grateful that this mountain wasn't too big! And I am most grateful for the view once we get to the top.




Monday, November 3, 2014

Snapshot.

I love the little things that make up life right now. I took this picture today so I could remember the sweet clutter of tiny years. Library books, art, and plastic dinosaurs. These are the good things in life.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sweet Sunday.

A few things about today:

Dorothy looked at me this morning before I'd had a chance to get ready for church and said,  "mama, you're so pretty you don't even need to put any makeup on for church." So I didn't. And it felt great. It is usually the one day of the week I DO take the time for makeup, but I love to simplify. And my firstborn made me feel beautiful enough to feel like I can do without!

I received a new calling as Nursery Leader (all the children ages 18 months to 3 years). Although it means I get no break from kiddos, I am excited to be with these precious little ones. I am especially excited that I get my very own Ezzy boy in there for over another year! I think it will be a special time for us. 

The weather turned cold and it snowed today, so Marty got to stay home for the entire afternoon and evening with us instead of going back out to do home visits around the ward. Any extra time is such a treat and our home truly feels complete when we are all under the same roof. We made hot cocoa and popcorn, and snuggled as a family to watch the documentary "Babies." 

A day like this is good for the soul. Now we are ready for a crazy week ahead!



Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I'm anti baby costumes, so Annie just gets to be her sweet self.

Have fun, everyone!





Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"On my boat."

Almost every night when I move the kitchen chairs to sweep the floor, Ezra hops up to start an adventure. "I'm on my boat, mom! I'm a Pirate!" he will say to me. He then spends the next few minutes yelling things in a gruff voice and pretending that a storm is rocking his ship back and forth.

These are the moments that I never want to end. Oh, how I love this boy.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Paints.

It is an icky weather week here, so we've been pulling out our favorite indoor activities to get us through. All three of my oldest love when we pull out the watercolor paints. I have to give them a limit of paintings they can do so they won't tear through an entire pad of heavy weight paper in one sitting.
As we were cleaning up from our activity, I stopped to look at each of the children's paints. I paused a moment and laughed to myself because they were so telling about the personalities of my two big girls.
Dorothy is an absolute neat freak. Everything in her room has a place and is promptly returned to that place when she is done using it. She makes her bed first thing when she gets up in the morning. Her clothes always go directly into the hamper. She doesn't like to keep toys in her room to avoid clutter (she plays in her brother and sister's rooms instead). She is wound a bit tightly, as you can tell.

Lucy, on the other hand, only thinks to make her bed when asked. She loves to change her clothes a half dozen times per day and throw the (clean) old outfits on the floor in various spots. Her clothes hamper was removed because she kept dumping it out (amongst her discarded clean clothes) to use it as a toy--she now shares with mom and dad. She loves to play hard, but howls in torment when asked to pick up. She is a bit more of a free spirit. 
I love these two big girls of mine and the fact that they are so different. They help to balance each other out. They are best friends and worst enemies at various points in the day, helping each other to learn some of the hard lessons of life. 

They are beautiful, individual, daughters of God, and I am grateful to know them.




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Annie Love.

Ezra was, admittedly, not excited about a new baby joining our family. Especially since that baby was another GIRL. It was almost more than he could bear. He grumbled about that "bad baby" that everyone else seemed so happy about.

I was worried about the first time he came to meet her at the hospital. But he jumped right in, kissing her and asking to hold her. I worried again when she and I came home, thinking the novelty might wear off. However, as the weeks went on, he found his inner big brother. At church he shoves people back a bit who crowd to closely to "his" baby. He smothers her face with slobbery, boogery kisses. He sings her "twinkle twinkle" when she starts to cry.

My favorite moment came in the middle of the night. Ann is in with us, and usually by about 2am Ezra crawls in too. I always made myself a barrier between the two, but with Annie getting sturdier I haven't worried so much. They happened to end up next to each other the other night, and when I woke up around 3 I found my baby boy with his arms cuddled around my baby girl. They were snuggled up next to each other, comfortable and happy. I hope this sweet boy of mine always takes his big brother duties so seriously. Annie is a lucky girl.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October tradition.

On Monday we took our annual family hike around Walden Pond. It is always so beautiful this time of year. 
I loved the chance to move my body and get some fresh air. These windy fall days don't make Annie too happy to stay out long, but the tree coverage at the pond was perfect. 


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Club members only.

The other morning while I was making breakfast, my three big kids decided to make a club. They wanted a club where they would get together and tell each other stories. As they worked on a fort for their club in the living room with blankets and various pieces of furniture, Dorothy exclaimed, "we will call it the Tent Tales club! Because we tell each other tales in this tent!" 
True to their idea, they each went around and told a story. Ezra's was about a lion ( pretty much everything he talks about these days is:), Lucy's was about a huge pumpkin, and Dorothy's was about a giant. I loved hearing them giggle and cheer each other on. It's in these moments that the chaos of having 4 little ones ages 5 and under are worth it!





Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Got my hair did.

Can you see that look of concentration on Lucy's face? These girls don't mess around when it comes to doing hair!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Conference Weekend

We love conference weekend! We pick our favorite meals and treats to share, we rearrange the furniture to make viewing extra cozy, and we get to spend two full days together as a family. But Two full days together means there will be lots of highlights and not-so-highlights.

Highlights:

Elder Holland's talk and President Uchtdorf's talk from the Priesthood session were ones that hit our little hearts the hardest. 

Watching the children light up when they saw the Prophet on the screen. 

Hearing all the beautiful music.

Hearing Dorothy say, "quiet down everyone! I'm trying to listen to the Prophets!"

Not-so-Highlights:

Finding a huge pee puddle behind the music room couch because I forgot Ezra had stripped himself down naked.

One unnamed child throwing a block at another's head with the toys we hoped would keep them happily preoccupied.

Realizing Ezra had gotten extremely quiet and then realizing he had found a marker and graffitied himself, his rocking horse, a couch, and various walls. Luckily, it WAS washable--oh, the tender mercies!!


I think the funniest moment of the two days was when Ezra turned to me with a very grumpy face and said, "mom, I'm done with this DVD." It makes me laugh that he thinks anything we watch is a DVD. I think that was about the time he left the room to draw on walls and pee on the floor. 8 hours of conference is a lot for a 2 year old! At least he kept himself busy so we could finish watching.



It is always an uplifting weekend, even with pee puddles behind the couch! I can't wait to start reviewing and setting new goals and trying to see with new eyes.


I'm afraid to blink...

Because all my sweet babies will grow up if I do! I remember so vividly holding, singing to, and consoling Dorothy when she was an infant. Now she is playing mini mom and doing those things for little Annie. It is so bittersweet. 

I know there are things to look forward to at every phase, but I really like right now. Can we just freeze time for a little while? Pleeeeeease??

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

School snapshots.

After promptings and much prayer, we have decided to homeschool our children. Perhaps it will not be forever, but for right now I love this choice.

With Dorothy officially in Kindergarten this year, we have become much more regular in our school routine. I made sure to have most of the planning done before Annie's birth. Here are some snapshots of how we spend some of our school time together:
Talking about the five senses.
Working on sight words.
Utilizing workbooks--so mommy doesn't have to create everything!
Understanding where we live.
Enjoying the change in seasons.
Taking field trips.
Finding surprises in nature.
And playing!!

The first few weeks we hit some (fairly big) bumps in the road. Dorothy despised how we were doing phonics. We changed the when and how, and my big girl took off! I now find phonetically spelled notes left all around the house. I love being the audience for all this learning and growth!

Now I just hope we can keep this up!




Four babes.

It has been seven weeks since Annie girl arrived. Before her birth, I fretted as usual, about how I would be able to give enough of myself to all those children. And then I watch the miracle happen--again. Somehow you heart expands even further and you find ways to do even more in every hour. Multitasking is never an option. Breast feeding, reading books, and discussing why we don't hit each other--all at the same time? Welcome to my life. 

But I can honestly say that we are being blessed beyond what I had imagined. Sure there have been hard times--like Marty's first night back at mutual when we ALL cried. However, some really incredible routines and traditions are also taking place. Over the summer I would spend the last bit of each evening laying with each child individually and reading to him/her, sometimes until they were asleep. It was my way of giving them personal attention and showing my love before things would change with the baby. 

After a few days home from the hospital and back to the schedule of Marty gone most evenings for bedtime, it was apparent that separate bedtimes was no longer an option. Since there was no one in our bed anyway, I started having all the kids pile into our big bed for all the books to be read. We go from Ezra's choice of book up through Dorothy's, a chapter or two from each. And it makes me smile to see that they still tend to nod off in order: Ezra on my shoulder at the end of his reading, Lucy somewhere during Dorothy's choice, and Dorothy remains the only one still awake to get a minute to say goodnight by herself. After hugs and kisses and plans for a good next day, she shuffles off to her room. I put Annie down for a minute to move the other's to their beds, and the night is finally quiet and peaceful. 

Every baby makes me love all my babies even more. Oh, how grateful I am to be a mother. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Love--part 2

My heart just melts when I happen upon scenes like this:
A good book. Bodies snuggled close together. What is there not to love?

Love.

Love is...
A Zombie love note left on your pillow by your first-born babe. Good stuff.

Monday, September 8, 2014

New girl.

 It has been a few weeks now since Annie was born. I've had time to think about the whole experience and get to know this beautiful little angel better. Her whole labor and delivery was a very sweet experience for us. For this pregnancy, I switched to working with a midwife and had decided to try a fully natural labor. So when we went in for an ultrasound 2 days before my due date and were told that my fluid levels were getting too low and that they were going to induce me starting that evening, my heart sank. I cried a bit on the way home thinking that a natural labor may be out of the question, but I knew that getting our little girl safely here was the most important thing. We finished getting our hospital bags together, took the other children to Grandma's house, ate some dinner, and prepared to leave for the hospital. Marty gave me a blessing just before we left, and it was one of the most comforting blessings I have ever received. In it, I was told that Heavenly Father would still allow me to fulfill all that I desired for this experience of labor and delivery. I wasn't sure how that would play out, but I felt at peace.

 We checked in to the hospital, got settled in our room, they started me on some meds, and we spent a quiet night reading and sleeping as much as possible. It was actually wonderful to have one last peaceful evening with Marty to just talk, relax, and read before any real labor began.

 The next morning, I had barely progressed. The midwife thought it may even be a full day more before we were going to have this baby in our arms. So we decided to send Marty home to see the older children while they started me on a second medication. Marty's plan was to come back at dinner time. Well, the combination of the new medication and the morning exam started some regular contractions faster than anticipated. Within 2 hours I was having contractions 3 minutes apart, though still not very strong. By four hours later the contractions were less than 3 minutes apart and getting stronger. They declared me in full labor and took me off the meds, monitors, and let me start moving around the room to labor as I wished! I called Marty around lunch time to tell him he needed to get there sooner than later. When he was able to get back, around 2:15, I was having a hard time breathing through the contractions and said I needed to get in the tub. After a few contractions laying in the warm water, I threw up everything I had eaten that day. The nurses excitedly said that was great news and that they were going to call our midwife. For the next hour and a half I labored in the tub, holding Marty's hand, and having him give me ice chips and put cold cloths on my head. I had a string of really hard contractions and called the midwife over to tell her I wasn't sure how much more I could handle. She smiled and just said, "that is what you say when you are almost there. Let's check." Sure enough, I was a 9 1/2. They got me out of the tub and dried me off. The bed seemed miles away. Somehow I made it across the room, onto the bed, and was told to go ahead and push. It took me a few pushes to be able to focus through all the pain. But within about 15 minutes our sweet little girl was on my chest, and I could feel a little bit of Heaven still on her. The veil seemed so thin, and the experience was truly a sacred one for us as parents.
 We had never gone to the hospital without a name picked out before, but I just never felt sure about any of the names we talked about through the pregnancy. It was such a neat experience to look down into our baby girl's eyes and know who she was. "This is Ann," I said to Marty. He looked at her and said, "I think so too." I had been reading the biography of Thomas S. Monson, and his daughter is also named Ann. Though a simple name, it stuck with me. When I mentioned it to Marty, he reminded me that his mother's middle name is Ann. We decided to invert his mother's full name, and Shirley Ann became our little Ann Shirley. Yes, I also love Anne of Green Gables and will always love that she has the literary connection as well (minus the "e").
 We actually have already blessed our baby Ann, too. We decided to go ahead and do it while my mother could be here for it. Some of my favorite blessings were that her belief in Christ will be represented in everything she says and does. Also that she will bring people incredible joy, not just because she is a baby but because of her spirit. She truly is a remarkable little spirit. I love looking into her eyes. She has so much to share with me, I can tell. I will learn a lot from being her mother.
 Thank Heaven for this little girl.