4th of July

Since Aaron had the day off, we decided to make a trip of it and go to Great Falls for the 4th of July and spend time with Eric, Amy and girls, and Quinn, Kasie, and kids. We enjoyed the parade– and it was not too hot this year– and then had a fun barbeque and a spectacular firework display! Before the parade started, there were people handing out free American Flags. Of course, we took them up on it!

Banana Splits for Ryan

On Facebook, I was invited to an event that I could not pass up. Banana Splits for Ryan. Basically, Ryan was a toddler with Downs Syndrome and also a congenital heart defect (CHD), and the heart defect was so bad that the doctors did all they could but were unable to repair it. The parents made the heart breaking decision to put a DNR order on him. People kept asking what they could do for the family, and the family’s response was to go and create a memory with their families and have a banana split for dinner– no chicken, no broccoli, no rice. Just a banana split.

I thought, “This is something I can do!” While I have never met Ryan, nor will I have a chance to meet him as he passed away last week, I did want to honor him and other CHD angels. So we had banana splits for dinner, and created a memory! And the kids thought it was the most wonderful thing– they could not believe their luck!

Benson, sadly, was asleep throughout the dinner. But he had mashed bananas for dinner a little bit later (Sorry, no pictures of him this time!)

Feel free to join us and hundreds of thousands others in creating a fun family memory with your family in honor of little baby Ryan! Just click on the link above and join in on the fun :-)

 

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!

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!

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!

Not suffering them to fight and quarrel…

Mosiah 4:14 from the Book of Mormon states: “And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.”

So, what’s a mom to do when two little boys are constantly fighting over the same toy? It’s an age old dilemma that most moms face, I imagine. And perhaps just about every other mom gets as tired of the fighting over the same toy as I do, especially when there are other similar (but different) toys available to play with, but is apparently NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Some days, I use a timer. Two or three minutes each, then trade. Charlie and Kade are actually pretty good at taking turns this way. And it usually results in tearless playing. This method, however, means I am tied to the kitchen where the timer is (on my stove, since I don’t have an egg timer at this moment) and is not always practical.

Some days, I just take the toy away completely. This does not make me a good candidate for the “Best Mother of the Year” when I do this. And it usually ends up with the boys both crying and screaming.

Some days I have to put one or the other in time-out for stealing the toy from the other boy, with a firm reminder that it is so-and-so’s turn to play with it. This also results in crying from the kid put in time-out, and it rarely truly resolves the issue, since the desire for that toy is still there.

There are some toys, I feel, that are better played with when there are more than one. They need to be nearly identical. By having two nearly identical toys, they are able to play along side of each other. While this is not practical in most situations, and I do not endorse buying two of every toy to prevent fighting since learning to share and to take turns is very important, this, I feel, is one of those situations where having two is a good idea.

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We inherited a cape from my Aunt Laura. It used to be my cousin Sterling’s, and my grandmother made it for him when he was 3. He’s 12 now. But Kade is 3. And Kade loves the cape. He thinks he is Super Why (which, arguably is one of the best kids cartoons on the face of this planet!). He will dig through our very deep and big toy box to find the cape. He tries to tie it on his own (never works, but he tries!) and he loves running and zooming around the house with the cape on. Possibly, this could be one of his favorite play items.

And Charlie wants to play with it too, almost always at the same time. He wants to be a superhero right along side Kade. Once I was able to have him wear a “Super Headband” and he was happy about it, but it was a temporary band-aide for a semi-permanent problem. If I try to tie Kade’s blanket around him, and then give Charlie the cape, temper tantrums arise.  Kade wanted nothing to do with the “Super Headband.” There is no winning this problem.

So, today, after tiring of their fighting and quarreling over who gets to use the cape, I resolved the issue. I made Charlie his own cape out of some spare fabric I had floating around in a box of scraps. There was just enough fabric to make it work. They sat and watched me sew it, fascinated with the process. It was a very quick project, and while not an image of perfection, it is a suitable cape for any little boy.

Charlie's CapeNow, Charlie can be “Super Beaners!” and Kade can be “Super Kaders” or “Super Why” or “Super Man” or “Super what-ever-else-he-wants-to-be”. And now they will stop fighting over the capes.

Yeah. Until Kade wants Charlie’s cape, and Charlie wants Kade’s cape, and they want the same one at the same time and the other sits crumpled on the floor. ::sigh::

But… I am trying.

*update*

Charlie spent the entire afternoon thrilled about being “Super Beaners”. And he apparently went to bed last night cuddling his cape (along with his harem of stuffed animals). WIN! It makes me happy when the things I do for them are truly appreciated.

A House of Learning

bookcover3 After some recommendations from a couple friends, I decided to start trying to teach Kade to read using this book. It claims to be able to teach “bright 3 year olds and average 4-5 year olds how to read in 100 easy, 20 minute long lessons.” Fascinating! Kade knows his letters, the sounds that most of them make, and so it seemed to be the most natural next step. I really wanted him to learn how to read phonetically, and not just memorize words. I understand that not everything is phonetic, but it is a start and comes in handy when being introduced to new words. And while memorization is a great technique, it just wasn’t the method I wanted to teach him. So, we’ve started. We’re two days into it so far. And he knows the “mmmmmmmmm” sound and the  “ssssssss” sound. Not that he didn’t know those already, but tomorrow, we start learning “aaaaaa” and then he will learn that “am” says “aaaammmmmm” and “sa” says “ssssaaaa”. The only thing he doesn’t seem to like is the writing section, which isn’t a vital part of the lessons. His attention span just isn’t quite long enough, and his hands aren’t steady enough. We’ll see how things continue to go! Since he knows his sounds already, things will go pretty fast, I think! He’ll be reading in no time. Writing– maybe not– but reading? You betcha!!! And once I put Charlie down for his nap, I’ll take 20 minutes a day to work with Kade before putting him down for his nap.

Meanwhiletoilet seat, Charlie has really started to express an interest in potty-training. He figured out how to “pee on demand” in the toilet on Saturday, which is a huge step, and he’s really excited about the prospect. You really should see the look on his face when he is successful! While I am not sure if I am really ready to go through this process right now–our life is currently about to be turned upside-down for the next few months–I also know that when they’re excited about it, it’s time. I don’t want to delay the process while he’s excited about it. And Kade is so encouraging! It’s sweet! He even sings the potty-cheer to Charlie, and gives him big hugs of encouragement when he goes potty successfully. Of course, then there are the chocolate chips as a reward ;)

So, we’re going through many learning processes right now with the kids. Should be fun!

A world of BOYS

I am beginning to see that I will be living in a world of barbarians. Sweet and loving barbarians, yes, but barbarians nonetheless. While not necessarily shocking, I was hoping to teach my little boys to be more civilized, more polite. It’s not working.

My boys laugh when they pass gas. They say “excuse me!”, but… They still think it’s hysterical. And they try to do it over and over again.

My boys think it’s funny to burp. Once again, they say “Excuse me!”, but… Kade can burp on demand. He’s only 3!

The tackling has begun. Kade and Charlie race around the house trying to “punch” each other. Between Aaron and the kids, rough housing is a normal, every day occurrence.

They all… ALL 3 of them… lick me!

Potty-humor has already shown a strong presence in our home– and Charlie is the worst at calling people and things “POOPY!” and will laugh while he is name calling for hours! And this is self-taught.

Kade has no shame in pulling down his pants and peeing outside. Anywhere. Even in our front yard. We’ve had to have many time-outs and discussions about this. Barbaric!

Charlie has recently begun taking lessons from Kade on how to shoot snot wads. GROSS.

Despite my constant objections, Aaron is already teaching them how to give wet-willies. TO ME! And he’s teaching them other “manly” things– like the “pull the finger” trick. ::sigh::

Kade is turning out to have the same tendencies as Aaron– he eats paper (toilet paper, cardboard, paper towels, white paper, newspaper…) he chews on straws, and can’t resist rubbing his feet on things.

Cars, trucks, and other “manly” toys are the mainstays in our house. Racing their trucks throughout the house has been something we continue to battle- the racing is for downstairs only! And they could race their big tonka trucks outside on the sidewalk for hours if I would let them.

They like to watch “Mighty Machine” videos of big construction vehicles.

I must resign myself to the fact that I am living in a world of boys. And that there is no escaping it.

Although, for the most part, I think I might be OK with it.

It could be better than princesses and baby dolls…  I think? Maybe?

Charlie’s Birthday Party… FINALLY

Over the last weekend of July, we had Charlie’s birthday party. We still can’t believe he’s two years old. He loves to draw, and he loves the color YELLOW. So… the theme for the party was yellow. I made him a yellow crayon cake, which he loved :) We had lemon flavored cotton candy. Yellow balloons. It was also a very warm day, and so we had a little swim party.

Charlie swimming

Kade eating cotton candy

The Crayon cake

charlie getting ready to dive into the cake

Having fun "sledding" in the pea gravel

We had a great time with our friends and family! It was fun to get to see everybody again!

Out of the mouths…

We had just sat down for dinner together tonight, and we were having Kade say the blessing on the food. Since he is still learning, often he needs prompting. But, he always seems to know just what he needs to pray for, despite it all…

“Dear Heabenly Fader, Thank thee for this day, please bless that Jesus will help me feel better, please bless that Jesus will help me feel better…”

Thank thee for the food,”

“Thank thee for the food,”

Please bless the food,”

“Please bless the food that it will go away,”

In the name of…”

“Jesus Christ, Amen!”

Apparently, he really didn’t want dinner tonight…

(and he didn’t… We had Sour Cream/Salsa Verde Chicken over rice, and corn. It was a little spicy for him. So we gave him just some rice and corn. And, amazingly, it DID go away…!)

 

Another story from tonight… We’ve decided that a Laissez Faire attitude for bed time was going to serve us better… As long as they stay in their room. It keeps me from being mad at them all evening, since they’ll go to be when they’re ready regardless. So, after I put them to bed, I just assumed there would be some playing. There always is. Many times, Kade will change his outfit, or pull all the clothes out of his drawers (he cleans them up, not me.) or pull down all the diapers from a shelf.

Tonight, I kept hearing giggling, laughing, and Kade yelling, “Fireworks! Fireworks!” I think I may have heard Charlie yelling his version of “fireworks” (I can’t even phonetically type it out! It’s strange, but decipherable  by me…) I imagined they were jumping on their beds like crazy, getting into something… So when I finally checked on them, knowing there was going to be some sort of tornado zone in their room…

Diapers everywhere. I guess the diapers were fireworks. They may have watched “A Bugs Life” too many times this week… (remember the “fireworks” scene at the end?)

 

My boys… Our boys… Gotta love them! Gotta love them!

The Ambulance Station

We have a couple of friends in our ward who are Paramedics. Last night we asked them if they’d be willing to show Kade and Charlie their ambulances, and they were delighted to oblige! So we called Beth (with her sons Alex and baby Josh) and sallied forth to their station. The boys, upon hearing that they were going to get to see “Amyunance” (in Charlie speak!) could hardly contain their excitement. They ran up to the ambulances once we got there and were allowed to explore to their heart’s content. They got to “drive” the ambulance and push all the buttons in the drivers seat, climb in the back and get into things… Cami and Jessica even let Kade and myself be hooked up to the heart monitor!

Their favorite activity at the station... Sweeping the floor!

Their favorite activity at the station… Sweeping the floor!

While the kids were pushing buttons, one of them accidentally flipped the button for the sirens. Now, Kade is terrified of loud noises. TERRIFIED. When Cami was in the process of turning on the ambulance so the lights would flash, the siren went off. Kade screamed. He was very scared, so I picked him up to comfort him, and once he was soothed I put him down. It was then that I discovered a *very* wet spot on my shirt… ::sigh:: Kade had wet himself. And while I had several changes of pants for Charlie, I had none for Kade… So he got to walk around in wet pants for the remainder of the morning. And I got to wear pee’d on clothes all morning…Charlie, the future paramedic?