Charlies 5th Birthday party

Charlie has turned 5! Along with celebrating his birthday we had another fun surprise. My Brother and his wife had their 3rd baby. Not only did Charlie and Everley share a due date but now the share the same birthday and same doctor that delivered them. Everley Caroline Matthews born July 13,2012. She is 6 lbs. 4oz, 18.5 inches long. Charlie was a bit bigger – 6 lbs. 13 oz. Charlie has been fascinated with spiders. I am not talking about Spider Man or the Amazing Spider Man – but real spiders that crawl around on the ground. We have book after book from the library. So Charlie wanted a spider themed party. Amaree first had the kids play like they were spiders and grabbing their prey out of the web, spinning them around and then “biting them”, then of course eating them.

We had the kids play pin the insect on the spiders web. Not sure if they enjoyed the coloring of the insect more or the pinning it on the web more.

    

Next we took an idea from Kades teacher from last year. We took Oreo cookies and twisted them in half, had the kids put red licorice for legs, and put small semi-sweet chocolate eye balls on the top after putting the other side of the cookie back on.

             

Next we had the kids hit the pi̱ata that Amaree had made Рit was called Arachnious-Charlious! the kids loved hitting it. Especially since there was candy in it.

For lunch we used the same idea with the Oreos and made little PB and jam sandwiches with pretzel legs.  By this time the lids were so overlaoded with candy that they did not eat much.

Finally we brought out the cake and had Charlie blow out the candles. It seemed like 2 hours was too much time but it was just enough to get all this done. We are grateful that everyone came over to help us celebrate Charlies birthday!  Here is to 5 wonderful years with the Beaners!

 

The MOTHER of ALL updates!

Okay… so we’ve been slacking. BIG time. What can we say, other than we’ll do better? SO… I am just going to try to update as thoroughly and quickly for our sakes. You can choose to read it or not, as it will most likely be a long entry, but it is what it is. A year and a half or more, condensed into one entry. I imagine there will be a couple of expansions on a few topics, but those will follow later.

I will just start with January 2011 and go forward from there, month by month as I remember it (I may actually start liking Timeline on FB after all!!!)

2011

January

- Olivia turns 1
-The never-ending winter continues
-Aaron and I turn 31
-I finish Bill’s quilt made out of Cindy’s old shirts

 

February

-We took a quick trip to SLC as a family and spent time with Aaron’s dad and “Special” Eric Olsen

-My Grandparents and Aunt Kathy and Uncle Bob were in a car accident. My grandmother suffered very serious injuries
-Kade gets glasses. They last a week before they’re broken.
-Aaron becomes a certified EMT First Responder Ambulance and begins working part time for the Toole County Ambulance as a “Hobby”
-I slid off the road into a ditch, but we survived without nary a scratch. I did manage to break the CV joint, however…

March

-My Grandpa unexpectedly passed away, so the kids, Sharon Alfrey and I take an impromptu trip to Mesa for his funeral. While it was a sad reason to go down, it was wonderful to see all of my family and introduce them to Olivia. I also got to meet my brother’s wife Holly and their baby, Rockwell. We went to the Phoenix Zoo with Clarissa West, and got to see my Grandma, who was still in the hospital. She was not doing well.
-I do a sourdough display for our stake’s Emergency Preparedness Festival. It was fun doing all that baking!

April

-My Grandma joined my Grandpa 23 days after he passed away. This time I leave the boys in Shelby and Livvy and I fly to Arizona for her funeral. I go to the Easter Pageant at the Mesa Temple, something my Grandparents helped to start so many years ago.
-Kade turns 5. He requests a Volcano cake for the third year running!
-Olivia is absolutely obsessed with the boy’s underwear. She is frequently found with 10 or more pair around her arms and legs.

May

-We have fun with our bird feeder and are able to watch many different types of birds stop on their migratory routes.
-Kade learned how to ride his bike without training wheels
-Livvy’s hair is long enough for pig-tails

June

-We discover that we’re pregnant with baby-the-last! And have miscarriage fears. Thankfully, there was no miscarriage.
-We celebrate 6 years of happily wedded bliss
-Clarissa Layton West and her little guy came to visit
-A school bus full of kids gets toppled over by the wind. Aaron is able to help out transporting kids to the local hospital.
-I made aprons for the kiddos
-I tried making Dandelion Jelly– interesting!
-Aaron installs flashing lights on the Neon for the Ambulance.
-Aaron buys a grill!
-A deer visits our yard.

July

-Solomon and his buds and Natalie and Emma Boelter come and visit!
-I start baking for the Farmers Market
-I enter several things into the fair, and win Rookie of the Year :)
-We buy Ladybugs to help eat all the aphids. That was fun!
-Charlie turns 4 years old!

August

-I make Applebutter for the first time. And dilly beans. And dill pickles.
-Kade starts Kindergarten!
-We went camping
-Vacation in Seattle– and driving, OMSI, swimming, vomiting (Livvy only,) family reunion (walking the beach, gutting crabs, armory museum, fortress exploring), Exploring Port Townsend, Ferry, Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Aquarium, Pike’s Market, a cruise, Monorail, EMP, traffic up hill in Seattle, Woodland Zoo, another family reunion, meeting friends, mansion living, good food, Silverwood today, camping tomorrow … full vacation!
-I try my very first Bountiful Baskets! And I start to train to open a new site in Shelby

September

-Olivia is obsessed with the Muppet’s Mahna-Mahna. We watch it on YouTube what seems like a million times!
-A lot of canning– peaches, apple sauce, and lots of jams and jellies
-I wrap up baking for Farmer’s Market
-Aaron is gone at Rooseville for a week
-A quick trip to SLC for the sealing of Eric and Trena Olsen, as well as an unexpected date night to see the UT symphony and MoTab!
-A Jogging/Bike stroller is added to the family’s accumulation of strollers.
-Half-way through pregnancy

October

-Canned tomatoes from our garden
-We eat all of the tiny tiny carrots from our garden for dinner in one meal. But they were good!
-Kade and Charlie are “Thing 1″ and “Thing 2″ for Halloween. Olivia is the 3rd child to be a dragon for a halloween party early in the month. THEN, she is Cindy-Lou Who. Aaron is “Dr. Seuss” (we aimed for the Grinch… but that didn’t work out so well) and I was Daisy-Head Mayzie!
-Bountiful Baskets site secured
-Aaron gets his yearly “Raise”
-Have 21 week Ultrasound, some concerns by the tech. Tech was concerned that she wasn’t getting a good view of baby’s heart

November

-Diagnosed with “Marginal Insertion of Umbilical cord” and get to schedule another Ultrasound. Dr. not concerned about heart.
-7 years of knowing Aaron!
-Aaron goes to San Fransisco for a week for work, and gets to try REAL ramen.
-Olivia becomes absolutely OBSESSED with “Harrold and the Purple Crayon”
-Bountiful Baskets starts in Shelby with a BANG!
-I make a “TURKEY” shaped pumpkin pie for the branch Thanksgiving feast!
-WE BUY A NEW-TO-US CAR! And it’s not a Subruban… An EVEN BIGGER Ford Excursion. VERY comfortable!
-Buy a Christmas Tree
-We buy a citrus juicer, to help get through the inexpensive boxes of citrus suddenly available because of Bountiful Baskets! HEAVENLY
-Homemade Bagels for the first time. WHY DID WE WAIT THIS LONG?

December

-Have second ultrasound for Baby-the-last, and everything looks OK. Tech spends a little more time on the heart again, but baby isn’t moving and cooperating, so he is unable to get a good view. BUT things look OK from his and our Doc’s stand point.
-We make Tangerine-Lime-Pineapple sauce with our abundance of fruits, and don’t feel guilty about it!
-Olivia moves to a big bed and out of the crib!
-Our first Christmas here at home alone. We are invited to a Christmas Eve party and a Christmas party by friends in the branch. Great Christmas!
-Learn that my parents WILL come for the birth of their last grandchild from us at the end of January! EXCITED!
-We make our own Meyer Lemon and Orange extract! Funness!

2012

January

-Olivia turns 2
-The seal on our toilet breaks, water floods the bathroom.
-Lots of Braxton Hicks with this pregnancy the last few weeks
-We get a new Dyson!
-My parents come from Kentucky to help with the kids while we go have Baby!
-Aaron and I both turn 32
-Benson Crain Shepherd is born on January 30th. And we discover that he has a Congenital Heart Defect called “Tetralogy of Fallot” and is quickly life-flighted to SLC’s Primary Children’s Medical Center. Aaron goes with him, while I remain in the hospital recovering from my c-section (more details later!)
-My parents are a HUGE blessing to have here, as I leave for SLC a day after I am released from the Hospital.

February

-Benson has a balloon valvuloplasy in his Pulmonary valve, giving him a little time to get bigger.
-I spend two weeks in SLC with Benson, and Aaron returns to Shelby to take care of the kids. The members of our branch were SUPER-HEROS with all of the help they so freely offered and gave.
-We remove the feeding tube for Benson, as he nurses for the first time.
-We are grateful for the love, prayers, help, and money that flowed in from everywhere to help for Benson
-Kids and dad do really well while I’m gone, but we’re all happy to have our family back together finally. Kids are THRILLED to meet their new baby brother!
-Get our first call from school. Some girls were teasing Kade, and he was terrified and crying.

March

-Benson keeps getting sick. I suspect he contracts the whooping cough, as he has violent coughing spells that last a minute or two, and he turns blue (scary!) but he never coughs at the doctors so we never do receive a diagnosis. However, when he starts coughing hard enough to throw-up, it’s a ticket to the hospital. Of course, then he stops coughing as much and we have a calm night at the hospital.
-WE GET THE INTERNET AT HOME!
-Weekly trips to GF for cardiology appointments
-Aaron leaves for a 5 day business trip.
-We schedule Benson’s heart repair for 2 1/2 months, much sooner than the 4-6 months we were initially told. While worried, we are also very relieved. His coughing really has us scared.
-UK wins the NCAA Basketball championship!

April

-Kade turns 6! We get him a nice, big bike, which he promptly declares he hates. (And continues to say that until he figures out how to stop on it.)
-We leave for 3 weeks in SLC as a family for Benson’s heart repair on April 11th and get to spend time with Aaron’s dad. We’re grateful to have a place to stay.
-Benson is admitted a day early as a precaution after his sedated echo when they discover his blood oxygen level drops to 40% after a coughing fit.
-Surgery goes well, and Benson suddenly looks like a pink baby, but has a complication from surgery– Chylothorax. No breastmilk for 4-6 weeks.
-We try to find fun things for the kids to do while we’re in SLC. Airforce Museum, Ikea, and a few other activities. Lots of parks.
-Aaron and I work to find ways to spin my milk and remove the fat for Benson
-Benson is out of the hospital in a record 7 days. We stay home, and Aaron works a little while he is in SLC, which will allow us to go to KY for Christmas!
-We go home!

May

-We order a half-case of lemons and make lemonade concentrate. Next year, at least one whole box, if not two!
-We figure out how to spin my milk at home for the last few days after I ran out of the frozen spun milk from SLC.
-Life returns to normal.
-Benson is weaned off of the bottle and resumes nursing with only one little hiccup! GLAD to be done with the milk-man, aka pump.
-Aaron works a LOT this month between the Ambulance and problems at the ports.
-Kade finishes his first year of school. Next year, we’ll have two in school.

June

-Aaron and I make strawberry jam together. FUN!
-Boys start Swim Team. Hoping they actually learn how to swim this year!
-Kade loses his first tooth!
-Charlie learns how to ride a two-wheeler bike!
-We buy our VERY FIRST COMPUTER as a married couple. It’s nice to have something work so fast!
-7th anniversary!
-Benson gets his first hair-cut
-I french-braid Olivia’s hair into twin braids. It looks great!
-I start cross-country baking with my Sister in Law Holly and we make Blueberry cream cheese braids
-I buy a bike!
-Kade goes to Summer Camp. Charlie was supposed to go too, but they said he was too young and wouldn’t let him go.
-We go camping at our favorite site and bump into our old ward as they’re having their ward campout. LOTS of fun!
-We FINALLY have Kade’s birthday party and I make his 4th volcano cake.
-Kids play on slip-and-slide and in the mud during an impromptu cook-out with friends

Congratulations if you made it all the way through!!! There will be a couple of detailed posts coming later, particularly about Benson! And hopefully we can keep this up better this time!

Recipe – “Thai” Dyed Hawaiian Pizza

-          Preheat oven to 500 degrees (heat pizza stone if available)

-          Use a refrigerated crust or the following crust (homemade is better)

  • 1 C       warm water
  • 1 T        instant yeast
  • 2 T        Sugar
  • ½ t       Salt
  • 2 T        oil
  • 2 ½ C   Flour (more if needed)
  • Put Yeast in water to dissolve. Mix all other ingredients together then add water/yeast mixture until dough is no longer sticky, adding flour as needed. Knead 6 minutes by mixer on lower setting or 8-10 minutes by hand, until the dough passes a windowpane test. Put in an oiled bowl, cover, and let dough rest.

-          Sauce

  • 1/3 C    sweet chili sauce
  • ½ t       basil
  • ¼ t       garlic powder (OR fresh garlic minced to taste)
  • ¼ t       powered ginger or ½ t of fresh ginger
  • 1 ½ T    tomato sauce
  • Simmer on low while assembling the toppings. The longer it simmers the better the taste.

-          Toppings

  • ½ C      EACH – mango, pineapple, mandarin oranges, green and red peppers, roma tomatoes
  • ¼ C      EACH – chopped red onions, jalapeños
  • 2 C       Mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ C      Feta cheese
  • 1 C       grilled chicken or ham

 

Roll crust out on some parchment and cornmeal. Spread sauce and add toppings to likening then top with the mixture of cheese. Slide a cold baking sheet under the parchment paper and use it to slide the pizza on to the pre-heated stone in the oven (CRITICAL – that the baking sheet or stone is pre-heated to 500 degrees.) Bake for 12-15 minutes or until crust and cheese is golden brown. For an added touch put some olive oil in a dish with Italian seasonings and bush the outside of the pizza before you put it in the oven and once half way through the baking time. Pull out and let site for 5 minutes –then cut and serve.

This is by far the best pizza we have ever made. Our 3 kids love it – minus the jalapeños, but mom and dad like those.

Engineer in the making

So on Saturday Charlie and Kade decided to try their hand at engineering. Instead of making detailed plans and blue prints, building models and testing weight limits, getting the right building permits – they just built it!

As you can see there are of course limits to this bridge.

1) wieght

2) weather

3) slippage with plastic on plastic

Of course it worked just fine for Kade to cross. So Charlie wanted a turn and proceed across. About half way Charlie realized that this was not a good idea. Unfortunately the plastic parts already had started to slip and down Charlie went smacking his head on the white corner of the shoe holder. This resulted in one of Newton’s laws of motions and a trip to the ER.

He did beat his brother Kade on the number of stitches – 7. Kade had 5 the last time we went to the ER.

“Camping”

We promised the boys that we would go camping this weekend, only to have it rain and get really cold… SO, we put the tent up in their room and roasted mini-marshmallows before bed. That was good enough for the boys (AND we got to sleep in our comfy bed instead of an uncomfortable sleeping bag on the ground… And avoided the bugs, the hassle of cleaning up, fighting with them to go to bed… It was great!)

Roasting mini-marshmallows on a toothpick over a tea-light….

The art of roasting a mini-marshmallow…

Livvy Lou, eating mini-marshmallows with Dad

Sleeping in a sleeping bag, in a tent, in their room

Who needs a tent outside, when it will fit inside?

It’s been a long time…

Since we have moved back up to Shelby, our internet access has been very limited. As in, once a month, when we go down to Great Falls. That being the case, updating the blog has been rather difficult, especially since we typically keep so busy when we are down in Great Falls. Not much we can do about it, but I miss being able to share stories of the kids and record them for myself…

  1. The boys did swim lessons this summer (of which I never did get pictures of the official lessons… Bummer!) They really loved the swimming as well as their teachers, but I was rather disappointed that the teachers started them off with “backpacks” (in other words, flotation devices), especially since they were one-on-one with the teachers. This resulted in an over-dependence on the backpacks, and never learning how to swim. Next year, there will be no backpacks. Because I know they could have learned how to swim if they had never been introduced to the backpacks. Oh well. It was fun anyway. We walked most mornings to the pool (I think it was probably between 1/2 a mile to a mile…?) and the boys had the route memorized, ala Dora. “Cemetary, Big hill, Swimming pool! Say it with me…” It was very cute to hear them quote it, and fun to reinforce the directions. Olivia did lessons the first session (we did 2 session, a total of 4 weeks) but mostly just tolerated the water, although she never did cry.
  2. I’ve done a lot of canning jams over the past few weeks. A friend at church  gave me some Nanking Cherries (they are “bush cherries”, about the size of a larger blueberry, and somewhat tart) and so I attempted to make some jelly out of them. It never set, so we had cherry syrup. I also made some rhubarb jam. Then, I found out a neighbor had some Nanking Cherries that he didn’t want, so I made some more jelly, and three batches of jam, getting some good recipes from his wife.The jam was a little time consuming, since I had to pit the cherries and that took forever, but man alive, is that jam amazing!!! I am looking forward to canning some pears and probably some more peaches this year. We won’t be doing apricot jam this year however… We still have an overabundance of the apricot jam left from last year!!! :) However, this same neighbor has some plums growing and has promised me I could have some, and I am looking forward to canning some plum jam and making plum tarts.
  3. We have a little tomato garden growing… 10 plants in all. Now that we’ve actually had a little warm weather, they’ve really taken off. We will probably harvest the first of many, many tomatoes when we get home on Sunday. Our garden also consists of two pathetic little green pepper plants that are hanging in there but refuse to die, and some cilantro, a few garlic plants that we started from garlic that was starting to sprout, and perhaps some parsely and some chives (two or three of each of those plants… tiny and pathetic, but growing…) We planted a lot more than that, but alas, that’s all we got this year. Oh, and the house came equipped with rhubarb, asparagus, an apple tree (that is taking quite a beating from my boys who are ever anxious to partake of its fruit!!!), and a couple of small raspberry bushes. It’s been fun to eat the rhubarb, raspberries, and asparagus, and we are anxious for the small-ish apples to ripen.
  4. I have had a lot of fun baking breads. I’ve got a great Sour Dough starter, and Aaron bought me “The Bread Bakers Apprentice” and I have had a lot of fun reading and experimenting. I have a lot to learn about artisean bread baking (yeah, I WISH my bread looked this good!), and have already cracked the inside glass window of our oven (oops… always put a towel over the window if you plan on steaming in the oven…) but turning out bread that crackles and crunches and is holey and wonderful… SO worth it! Even if a loaf takes two days or so to get prepared to bake… patience pays off in the end!
  5. Olivia just started crawling this week. She’s a couple of weeks behind her brothers at this point, but she still managed to start crawling while still 6 months old. She’s our tiny little squirt, at perhaps not much more than 13 lbs at 7 month, and so it’s adorable to watch her crawl. She doesn’t look like she should be able to. She gets this huge grin on her face every time she does, though… She’s so proud of herself.

Speaking of Olivia… She has been such a great joy in our lives. She has been such an enjoyable baby– smiley all the time, pleasant, easy to predict and to put down to bed, not picky when it comes to food, calm… Heavenly Father knew I needed a calming presence in my life with my two energetic boys.  She adores her brothers (especially Charlie) and they adore her in return (again, especially Charlie, but Kade also.) She always has a happy smile when she sees them. They have been nothing short of amazing with her, taking care of her, sharing their pancakes with her, helping her eat all her cheerios, helping me with her diapers, playing with her, demonstrating crawling… Nothing makes a mom (and dad) prouder than to watch the older kids take such good care of their little sister. She’s been a wonderful addition to our family.

I have had some challenges with the boys, especially Kade, and some attitude problems, and checked out a couple of parenting books from the library. I hated losing my temper so much, especially since Kade was learning to be just as angry at me, and I needed some help. Here are the books I started reading. Not through either of them yet, but they both hit home and have helped already… “How to talk to your kids so they will listen, and listen to your kids so they will talk” and “Raising Good Children”. I have especially liked the “Raising Good Children” so far, as it goes through different “morality” stages that each kid will go through. Once I understood that 4 IS a difficult age, similar to 2, and understood a little better how to tackle his behavior, and what to expect from him, my life–and his– has become a lot better. I also started doing something I should have been doing for a long time… Singing to the kids at bed time. We sing all day long, but our bed-time routine has never had much “room” for singing. I thought it was time for a change. I have so many good memories of my parents singing to me at bed time. So, every night now I sing three songs– two of their choosing, in the “style” they want (silly, fast, like a goat, you name it…), tell them a scripture story, and then sing ” Angel Lullaby”, which my parents often sang for us as kids. It has helped the kids stay in bed SO much better… I should have started this tradition a long time ago.

Anyway, I will try to get some pictures up a little later tomorrow. It’s my bed time now!

Cynthia L. “Cindy” (Dobb) Matthews

Cynthia L. “Cindy” (Dobb) Matthews, 61, an assistant professor at the University of Great Falls who was active in her church and the community, died of breast cancer Thursday at her home.
Visitation is 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Croxford Funeral Home and Crematory. Her funeral is 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1401 9th St. N.W., with visitation an hour prior to the service time at the church. Burial is noon Thursday at Sunset Memorial Cemetery near Butte.
Born March 2, 1949, in Butte, Mont., to William Henry Dobb and Wyona Louise (McCracken) Dobb, Cindy surrendered her mortal body to death on Thursday, May 27, 2010, at her home in Great Falls, following a courageous seven-year battle with cancer.
Cindy graduated from Butte High before moving to Rexburg, Idaho, in 1967. She attended Ricks College, earning an associate degree in sociology. She then moved to Provo, Utah, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from BYU in 1971. With degree in hand, Cindy moved to Glendive, Mont., where she accepted a position as a juvenile probation officer with the Department of Institutions.
Early in 1978, Cindy accepted a new position in Kalispell, where she met William B. Matthews, and after a lengthy courtship of eight months, they were married in the Cardston Alberta LDS temple Jan. 20, 1979.
In January 1979, Cindy and William moved to Great Falls, Mont., where Cindy obtained her master’s degree from the then-College of Great Falls. After the birth of their third child, Cindy resigned her position with the Department of Institutions and devoted the next nine years to raising their three children.
In 1990, Cindy accepted a position as an adjunct professor in the criminal justice program at the College of Great Falls, and after eight years she was promoted to associate, then assistant professor at the University of Great Falls. Cindy began working on her doctorate degree at Montana State University-Bozeman, but after her diagnosis of breast cancer and subsequent treatment, she was forced to choose between completing her dissertation and being a teacher to the students at UGF. As in the past, Cindy chose to help others with whatever time she had remaining. She gave up her quest for the advanced degree and devoted herself to the students at the University of Great Falls. This devotion was recognized in the spring of 2009, when Cindy was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Great Falls.
Throughout her adult life, Cindy was active in many community and church activities, including many years in Cub, Boy and Girl Scout programs. Cindy spent several years working in the “In School Scout” program at Longfellow and Whittier elementary schools. Additionally, Cindy spent many years on the Gore Hill County Water District Board of Directors. Cindy served her church as a primary teacher and leader, seminary and relief society teacher, and blazer day camp director.
Preceding her in death were her father and mother; and a grandchild, Maddie.
She is survived by her husband, William B. Matthews; their three children, Aaron (Amaree) Matthews of Shelby, Mont., Jenny W. Matthews of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Eric (Amy) Matthews of Great Falls; grandchildren Kade, Charlie and Olivia in Shelby, Hunter and Wyona in Fairbanks, and Rylie in Great Falls; and a brother, William Dobb, and a sister, Kathleen (Dobb) Stevens, both of Butte. Cindy accepted as part of her family the Brandon and Erica Schlecht family of Rexburg, Idaho, and the Quinn and Kasie Boehme family of Great Falls.

Best part of my job

This past week I was scheduled to bring the computers back up to Chief Mountain Port of Entry.  As I arrived Glacier National Park was still closed so I could not get in. Just so happened to be the 100th birthday of the park.I had to wait for a officer to come up and open the gate. For those who do not know – Chief Mountain POE is in Glacier National Park and goes up into Waterton AB. On a nice clear day you can see both Waterton National Park and Glacier. It really is the best part of my job. After 2 long days working on the computers I left the POE and headed back. It was 2 and I had not eaten my lunch that Amaree packed for me. I stopped about 3 miles down the road. Since the road was still closed I knew that there was not going to be any traffic. I got out my lunch and ate it. Sun was shining down on the snow capped mountains. It was about 63 degrees. PERFECT WEATHER!!! Not a man made noise around me. When I say the best part of my job I really mean it. After lunch I took out the camera and got this picture. Thought I would share it with you. HAPPY SPRING from a 100 year old National Park!

 

FINALLY

Well after months of work and waiting for a phone call. I finally received it this morning. I am on my way to becoming a federal employee. So long to contract work! Good bye to not knowing where we would live in 6 months. Hello steady work that I love to do. Hello to staying put for a while.

SMILES all around!

New Office look

SO I got a hankering to build something. really what I wanted was a shelf above my monitors. This was to enable me to put my CPU above the desk and give me room on my desk to roll out new computers or to (heaven forbid) fix a broken computer. Since the family cannot visit my office I thought I would put some pictures up so they can see my handy work :-)

Moving Day, coming right up!

The day is soon approaching. FINALLY! After 4 1/2 months of being separated, our family is moving BACK up to Shelby this Saturday. While there is still some uncertainty about Aaron’s job, things are looking up. And we’re tired of being apart. We have found a nice little house to rent, and are super excited to be back up with the friends we have made in Shelby. Aaron is excited to actually start eating food again (no, Aaron, cheese and crackers do NOT count as food!), and I’m excited to toss the kids off when he gets home when I’ve had a bad day. I am looking forward to having my own kitchen where I know where everything is. We are excited to read and play games in the evening once the kids are down for the night (we won’t have any live TV, just DVDs, and we won’t have the internet for a while, until our Condo sells) and to have friends over for dinner and games. We are both thrilled about being able to live out of a dresser instead of boxes, of having a place for everything, and just to be in our own space together again. We are excited to be in a ward where we are actually members of the congregation instead of extended visitors, to have callings, and to be able to contribute.

We also want to publicly thank the L family for allowing Aaron to rent a room in your house. I know you’ll never read this, but we’re grateful.  Also, thank you to Aaron’s parents for letting us tear apart your home. I am sure you’re looking forward to some peace and quite again :)

4 more days!

(btw– this does mean that in 4 days I will not be able to blog very often, nor will I be on facebook)

Somebody’s sleeping in MY bed!

I was trying to capture a smile with our camera. This is pretty close.

Charlie has some one-on-one time with his sister before Kade got up from his nap. It was sweet to hear him talk to her :) Whenever she’s cooing, the boys always ask me what she’s saying. I always tell them she’s saying just how much she loves her brothers. She does. But they sure adore her too!

We went to put Olivia to bed last night and were surprised to find this:

 

Yes, there IS a pacifier in Kermits mouth.

Kade had put his “baby” to bed. Olivia’s bed. Aaron and I could not stop laughing and had to take a picture of it! This actually isn’t too uncommon. They both have been insisting that I swaddle their respecive stuffed animals– Kade has me swaddle Kermit (he actually was “nursing” Kermit the other day, despite my reminders that only MOMMIES make mommy juice!) and Charlie has me swaddle his bear. But this WAS the first time we found a pacifier in a stuffed animals’s mouth!

No Bite Nail Polish and thumb sucking

It’s official. I bought the “No-Bite” fingernail polish to help wean Kade from thumb sucking. It was an instant success. And, Kade was VERY good humored about it! He would stick the tip of his thumb in his mouth, get a huge grin on his face, and say “Bleck! Yuck! Bleck!” The best part was that it was just a joke to him.

And he no longer sucks his thumb. I give THAT a two-thumbs up!

Spit-up Diaries

Each of my kids have been so different as babies. It’s shocking, I know. Really, it IS quite amazing how different they are– how each of the pregnancies were different, how each of them as babies have been different. All of them enjoyable, but all of them different.

For instance, each of my babies have been completely different when it comes to spit-up. Now, in this case, I do have a preference. None. That would have been Charlie. Kade spit-up until he was 15 months old. No joke. It wasn’t tons of spit-up at once, but it was pretty consistant until about the time Charlie was born. And, Kade was (and still kind of is) a non-stop drooler. He’s finally starting to stop drooling, although it still happens. Now, Olivia has been yet another completely different story. She doesn’t spit-up all the time. And most times it’s not much spit up. But on occasion, she has projectile spit-up, and in mass quantities. She spits-up while I’m feeding her, changing her, talking to her. This usually results in at least a change of clothing, both for her and for me, and sometimes results in a shower for the both of us. Yesterday I had finished nursing and burping her and was talking with her, holding her at arms length so I could really watch her, when out it came. It flew over a foot and a half. All over my shirt. Just as we were getting ready to leave. I wiped up as much as possible but left with the wet shirt. (It is Montana, which means I knew it would be dry before I got to where I was going. Gotta love that about dry air, I guess! Quick evaporation!) She also is an occasional drooler. (Now, with the whole  projectile thing… does that mean that she’s got an abnormally strong diaphragm? She must be a future singer!!!)

But, look at her. How can you not help loving her when she’s so adorable, even if she projectile spit-ups! While I have yet to capture it on camera, she’s starting to get really smiley. And she has an adorable smile! She’s also starting to “communicate” a lot more, and the boys are always asking me what she’s saying. I usually tell them that she’s saying how much she loves her brothers. Because, she does! (She is currently 7 1/2 weeks old)

This is a typical “Elvis Smirk” that Olivia does. I love it.

Like I mentioned in the previous post, Kade is always, always trying to kiss her. While in this picture Olivia is screaming, it’s not because of the kissing, I swear! She decided she was tired. She’s very tolerant of the kiss monster of a brother.

The boys have taken to pretending they’re babies. They lie down on Liv’s blankets and try to swaddle themselves, and pretend to cry. It was all I could do to get them to smile instead of pretend-cry in this picture.

Well, I love these kids. While it is sometimes quite stressful, they are mostly sweet and wonderful kids :)

Some Frequently Asked Questions. And Their Answers.

With a newborn, and especially with two very young older brothers, I am asked the same questions quite frequently. And they are good questions, with even better answers. These two are the ones I get the most:

Is Olivia a good baby? Does she sleep well?

Yes, and yes. As I suspected when I was pregnant with her, she has been a very mellow, very good baby. She really only cries under three circumstances– she’s hungry, she’s tired, or she’s in her car seat. It’s true. She’s a generally very happy baby.

Right after I feed her, if I lay her down on her back on the floor she will coo and talk and smile and kick and wiggle very happily for a good 15 minutes. She loves to be held, though, and when those 15 minutes are up she really doesn’t like much else. As for sleeping, she’s been amazing. My boys never went longer than 3 hours or so at night between feedings until they were weaned. Probably just as much my fault as theirs, but still. Never longer than that. They would go right back to sleep afterwards, but I woke up exhausted for a long time. Not so Olivia. For the past few weeks, she’s been going to sleep around 9-9:30 p.m., and most nights wakes up at 4:00 a.m. to eat, and then is back up again at 7-7:30 a.m. to eat. I am waking up rested. With a newborn! (She’s 7 weeks now) She then goes back down about an hour later until about 11-11:30. I feed her, and about an hour and a half later she’s down again for another long stretch. She generally is up around 3:00 or 4:00, I feed her again, and then she’s up off and on until she goes down for the night, with some power feeding (cluster feeding) going on with some short catnaps in between. It’s been awesome! And she’s learning already how to self-soothe and get herself to sleep. Seriously. The. best. baby. ever!

How to the boys like her?

Like her? No. They LOVE her. ADORE her. Kade, especially. He can’t stop kissing her. He can’t resist! He is totally and completely enamored. Charlie, too, but not nearly as bad. Case in point– during Sacrament Meeting yesterday, the boys had a hard time staying sitting… They kept trying to get into the eisleway where Olivia was dozing in her carseat, to give her a kiss. Kade tries to kiss her as often as he can– when I’m feeding her, when she’s sleeping, when she’s on the floor or the couch, when we’re holding her, when he’s supposed to be eating dinner… He’ll steal as many kisses from her as he can. It’s very sweet.

As I said, Kade seems to be especially attached and protective of Olivia. Saturday, we were in the car, heading home after running a few errands. Olivia just woke up and was screaming because she was hungry. I tried to get her to take the pacifier (a funny thing in and of itself… she doesn’t seem to like them much, gagging on them and whatnot…) to calm her down, but she wouldn’t take it. Since I knew there was nothing more I could do until we got home, I just let her scream. But then, suddenly, it stopped. I turned around, and saw Kade, holding in her pacifier, stroking her head, and telling her, “shhhh, shhhhh… You’re alright baby. You’ll be just fine…” Heart meltingly sweet.

He also often comes up to her and says, in the sweetest, most tender voice, “Oh, she’s so small!” or “She’s SO cute!” “She’s so sweet!”

So far, this having three kids hasn’t been too bad! Now, we just need to get back up to Shelby so we can be together as an entire family, and so daddy can spoil his baby girl and his two baby boys and his wife ;) And, as far as we can tell, that will be in 2 weeks. 2 WEEKS! Hurray!

Hoar Frost, Valentines, and a Cute Dress

Hoar Frost

This year has been an incredible year for hoar frost. Freezing Fog. I love hoar frost. It’s gorgeous and fragile.  While Marissa was here a month ago, she took some beautiful pictures of the hoar frost that greeted her. See them here: Missy’s Hoar Frost. Aaron also took some lovely pictures of hoar frost on one of his daily long drives north. What I love is how directional and beautiful they are. Manna was described as looking like hoar frost in Exodus, and white hair is called “Hoar Hair” in Isaiah. Here are a couple more of the pictures that Aaron took one exceptionally frosty morning:

Valentines Day

Our dear friend Beth invited us over to decorate valentines day cookies last Wednesday. We had a blast! Especially Kade and Charlie, who could not keep their fingers out of the frosting or their mouths! It was a welcomed reprieve after being at home for a couple of days without getting out. Olivia slept the entire time, and the boys had a great time playing with Alex, Allen, Conner, baby Josh, and each other. I had a great time socializing with my friends Beth and Carissa. We will miss this crowd once we move!

Cute Dress

And finally, some recent pictures of Olivia. She has been such a fun addition to our family. The boys absolutely adore her and are constantly trying to kiss her, no matter what she is doing, whether it be sleeping, eating, or just hanging out. Kade is especially attached to her, which I think is really sweet.

She is a great baby– a good sleeper, at least at night. Several nights in a row, she’s only awakened to eat once, and the other nights it’s only twice, the second feeding being around 5:00 a.m. Then she goes back to sleep. It’s wonderful. She just started smiling on Sunday, valentines day (funny, eh?), and has started cooing and squealing. It’s so precious!

 She is always furrowing her eyebrows like this, like she’s concentrating really hard, trying to take everything in. Her eyes look like they will be like her dad and her brother’s eyes… bright, deep blue. LOVE it!

And girls are just SO fun to dress. I mean, c’mon! Boys clothese are never THIS adorable!

Charlie – 2 and 1/2 pictures

So we are pretty late in getting Charlie’s 2 1/2 pictures. Sears had their GREAT sale – $7.99 and NO sitting fee. We love it. So the result is a HAM of a Charlie being good for yet another picture being taken. He had alot of fun and I was grateful that I was able to be there this time. You really cannot see where kade took a pair of scissors to Charlie’s head AGAIN!

Marissa’s visit

First of all, would you believe that we actually went the ENTIRE time Marissa was here without getting a picture of her with any of us, until this morning right before I took her to the airport, and even then, it was only of her and me, I having just rolled out of bed… ::sigh:: PATHETIC. And she has the picture, so I can’t even post it!

We had a wonderful time with Aunt Missy here. She was such a HUGE help for me, letting me sleep in until 8:00 or 8:30, or even 9:00 one morning. She played with the boys, making awesome train tracks, building garages and big buildings out of blocks, taking them out to play in the snow, reading books to them, taking them to Safari Land,  teaching them how to talk while plugging their noses (it’s ALL about the pee-ew stinky plant!!!)… SHe also helped me send a package to Aaron for his upcoming birthday. Although I probably would have survived last week, she made last week much more pleasant for me. Marissa also helped with dishes, baths, scripture study, holding baby Olivia, putting the kids down for naps and down to bed… I really was spoiled to have her here, at the expense of her family, who went without their mom and their wife for a week. Missy– we really do “Missy” you a lot already. I want you back! Can you come?

While she was here, she also took some pictures of our family and newborn pictures of Olivia. While I direct you to her photography site, Marissa Noe Photography, she said I could post a few up on my blog for your viewing pleasure :) I am really excited to have these pictures of my growing family!

Another woman in bed with my husband…

Having a little girl has been a new experience for us in the Matthews household. Aaron doesn’t quite know what to do with himself– he goes shopping for something and comes back with a cart full of baby girl clothes (only a slight exaggeration) … To be fair, he does throw in some consolation prizes for the boys… But he never went and bought clothes for them “just because”… He’s been tempted to go back on our agreement of no babies in bed with us, because Olivia is SUCH a cuddler… and I am finding another woman in bed with my husband. I feel cheated! Of course, all of this behavior is also rather endearing and adorable, and I love to see him with his little baby girl.

But then, there was LAST NIGHT. I had fed, and fed, and FED, and changed, and changed, and CHANGED Olivia from about 6:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m… with just 20 minutes or so in between feedings. (These “power feedings” or cluster feedings are actually pretty nice, because she does actually sleep through the night with the occasional feeding every few hours) And she was still fussy, but obviously tired. So, I handed her off to Aaron, who was in bed waiting for me to finish feeding Olivia AGAIN. She was lying on her back, and fussing, so Aaron put his hand under her, turned her on her side, and snuggled with her. INSTANTANEOUSLY, this is what happened:   (taken with my cellphone… quality is not the best…): All I am saying is that we had BETTER be moving to Shelby REAL quick, because if I can’t get my baby girl to sleep, I know who can!

Jeffery R. Holland

One of my FAVORITE General Authorities of the Church is Jeffery R. Holland. I love to listen to him speak. I finally found 2 of my most favorite talks from Elder Holland to new mission presidents. You can download them then burn them. The audio is not the best however I hope you find as much joy in them as I have.

Atonement –

Doctrine –

Let me know what you think :-)

Blast from the Past

As Amaree and Olivia were coming home yesterday I remembered that I have seen a picture of myself holding my sister after she was born. Well it was about 3 months after but still. The chair is still at my parents house. So I arranged to have the chair upstairs when they came home. After getting the kids used to baby we had them sit in the same chair and hold their baby sister.

Here is my picture – then my kids holding their sister -

Olivia Esther Matthews

After 9 months – and a wonderful day – Olivia has joined our little growing family. Since this was a “planned” C-section – it made it alittle easier. I was ready – :-)

But of course our Doctor would not even let me NEAR the open area. Owell thats life. i did get to watch. After the past couple of C-Sections that were NOT planned this was a welcomed relief. If I recall all we talked about was computer support help from Dell and how our Doctor will call me from now on :-) olivia joined our family at 10:05 am on Saturday jan 9th 2010. our Doctor came in on her day off and even when she was not all call. WE LOVE YOU DOCTOR LEE! Mom did great and is recovering fine – We hope to have them both home tomorrow – of course that is after Amaree makes going number 2 her number 1 priority.

PROMISED PICTURES -

In case you cannnot read her shirt -

Christmas at our house

So another year has come and gone. It was nice to have the family together. We are missing Jenny and her family – and wish them all the best up in Alaska. We had our family with Grandpa and Grandma, Eric and Amy with Rylie (and baby unknown), Quinn and Kasie with Weston (and baby unknown). yes that is right all 3 women are expecting :-) what a fun Christmas.

IMG_2197 (Small)

This is a picture of our Nativity that as a family we sanded, painted, and fired a LONG time ago. The Kids loved it and telling them the story of Baby Jesus has been fun. They are learning alot.

 

 

 

 

IMG_2217 (Small)

This is Rylie. She has fallen in love with Charlie’s little “bear”. Thank goodness that Charlie was “willing” with a little prodding from us to let her play with his bear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2207 (Small)

Weston and Grandma – Weston is growing like a weed and is walking like a pro. Willing and able to full function in playing with the rest of the crew. He enjoyed opening his gifts with Grandma and with his mom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2229 (Small)

Kade of course is really getting into the opening gifts. He understand so much more this year. I know that we only have acouple more before I have to find creative ways to hide his gifts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_2244 (Small)

Charlie as well has taken up the idea of gifts. Kade was this age last year. Kade has taught Charlie all he needs to know about opening the gifts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course this year was our 5th Christmas together. In fact 5 years ago Amaree left Christmas eve and flew to Kentcky. That night was the first night that we said out loud “I love you”. So I thought it should be an extra special night for her. 5 years ago she made me 3 neckties. I loved it. So this year I got her something to hang around her neck. Now I know that a necktie was out of style for a woman, however I know something that is always in style -

necklace

There was one more thing that never really goes out of style at our house and that is food. (it may go bad but not out of style.)  She has been looking at a Kitchen-Aid – she never told me the size she was looking for but I figured that I would find one and just get it for her. I know that size really matters to women so I went with the biggest I could find (within my price range) It just happened to be the biggest one they make. So her eyes really grew wide when she unwraped this.

kitchenaid

 

We do wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Sledding

IMG_2186smallIMG_2182smalljpg Here are the promised pictures of the boys sledding. We had a great time again with the sled today. It felt colder today than yesterday, though. I don’t think it was actually colder, there was just a wind, so I didn’t want to stay out as long.

Watching the boys play with this sled makes me want to get them one to play with when we get back to Great Falls. Kade sure enjoys pulling Charlie around!

Snow Day

Aaron did not have to go into work until noon and so we spent the morning playing outside as a family. Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I have missed being together and having time to play like this! It was a blast. We all got bundled up and went to play outside in the snow, even me with my new snow boots! (I feel like a real Montanan now!) Yes, they may be cheap, ugly “Wal-Mart special” boots, but I no longer get snow in my shoes and socks. And my feet were significantly warmer. And after 5 years of living in Montana, it’s about time! my snow bootsSo, as I said, we all bundled up. Kade and Charlie had on the whole winter garb- boots, snow suits, gloves.They stayed warm as they played in, fell in, and ate the snow. snowball

snow angel

snow or snot

charlie happy to be outside

charlie eating snow

charlie exploring

I’ll even throw in a teaser picture of what I look like in profile with a winter coat (that I can barely zip up right now) being 8 1/2 months pregnant. 34 1/2 weeks. Needless to say, the coat is VERY tight around my belly. The coat hides the pregnancy a little, but the baby seems to hide better! She’s all inside, and boy, can I feel it! (I seriously STILL get glares from people sometimes when I park in the “For Expectant Mothers only” parking spots, especially when I have my coat zipped up… Yes, I may look fat, and I am a bit overweight, but I promise I am pregnant! AND almost due!)

charlie exploring with mom

The cabin we are in is small, but very cute. We have enjoyed staying here, and think it would be a great place for a little romantic get-away sometime. However, it isn’t particularly conducive for a family of four staying for a week– i.e. there is only a very small fridge, a typical “hotel” sized one, a very small sink, and nowhere to store food. We survive. We even invested in a deep freezer! (Ok, so we brought it!)

our cabinour freezer After Aaron went into work, we ate lunch, and took a nap, I took the boys out again to romp in the snow. The owners of this cute little establishment are a younger couple who have two daughters, and the mother let us borrow their sled! She left it on our porch for when we would play later. Once I let those boys out the door so I could get myself bundled up, Kade knew EXACTLY what that sled was for, drug it off the porch, and immediately started pulling Charlie around. It was adorable. When they play together well, which is most of the time, they really play together well. I didn’t get any pictures of that today, but I will try tomorrow, as I anticipate more snow games in our future.  I then took turns with Kade in pulling the sled. Charlie thought it was a blast to be pulled around, and Kade and Charlie enjoyed being pulled around together as well. We explored quite a it of the property around the cabins, even discovering a little fire-pit. It was great fun!

After play time was over, we came back inside and watched some TV while I cooked our dinner in the toaster oven we brought. Aaron worked late, so I gave the boys a shower, attempted to put them to bed, and waited for Aaron.

We have SO enjoyed being up here with Aaron, spending time with him. It feels like such a treat to spend time with my husband, and the boys with their daddy. I can’t wait until it becomes the norm again!

Oh, btw, my husband died. This is the last picture he took before Charlie stabbed him with the stick!stab youre dead*no, Aaron is not really dead. But we loved this picture!

*and on a funny but irrelevant note, Kade has all but stopped calling Charlie “Charlie”. It is now “Charles”. I only call Charlie “Charles” when he’s in trouble, but Kade picked up on it, that that was his real name. Hysterical!

Work Related Vacation?

We are on our first Work Related Vacation or WRV – see if you can keep up with the acronyms. Aaron was chosen to travel to Eureka MT to help bring a new Border Patrol Station online. The cleanest place he was told was a little place outside of Eureka called Grave Creek Cabins. After booking a cabin we talked it over and decided that we could bring Amaree and the kids up for a WRV. After a wonderful community concert where Amaree sang some songs in Shelby we stayed the night at a members house and started traveling over to Eureka. The cabin is a little 20 foot by 20 foot. no bigger then a larger hotel room. Once Aaron got home from his first day on the build we ate some dinner and had our first family home evening in over 8 weeks. It was good to be together as a family. Amaree had the best idea about building Gingerbread houses. So each of us built a house for the kids then let them decorate them.

Gingerbread house

Here are the two houses. Amaree did a great job with making a “normal” house. I was unable to get the roof to stay up so settled with a “western” themed house. After putting them together we sat the kids on our laps and had them start putting candy on the houses. However that is not what happened. Can you guess? Since we do not have candy in our house often the kids saw an opportunity and exploited us. one piece on the house. TWO in the mouth. One peice in on the house. One piece on the house to cover it in frosting and then in the mouth. This was not going well – at least for the parents. Kids loved it. Anyway here are some other pictures.

Does this piece go on the house or in my mouth? Finishing touchs little wonder of the world

We’re glad we have a week together as a family, even if Aaron is still working during the day. It’s already been fun to hear the peals of laughter that only happen when daddy is playing with them.