Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hope Your Christmas was Merry

Scene:  Getting ready for bed Christmas Eve.

Me:  Buddy, if you don't cooperate, Santa isn't going to bring you any presents.

Buddy:  That's fine.  Because if he brings me coal, I'll use it to make a fire which will burn the house down and then I'll be on the Naughty List next year too.

Me:  Well, fine.  Perhaps you better stay on on his Good List.

* * *

Despite an outbreak of the cold virus and the stomach flu, Santa still came and we had a nice Christmas. Many more exciting details of Christmas vacation to come. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Birthday M!

Today is M's birthday.  She is 35, but still looks like she's in her 20s or even teens.  The world is a better place because she was born.  She has touched many lives and is a wonderful, wife, friend, and mother.  Me and the boys have come to realize that we couldn't function without her.  Despite having a nasty cold and spending her birthday in a hotel, we hope that it will be a good one.  We love you. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

M's Christmas Talk


This picture is courtesy of www.lds.org

Despite her arguments to the contrary, M is truly one of the greatest people I have ever known. I wonder many times why she decided to marry me. Amongst her many talents, one of her gifts is to write and deliver moving talks in Church. She spoke last Sunday on the topic of "Keeping Christ at the center of Christmas." Because she did such an amazing job, I think it should be shared. Here is the text of her talk:

Christmas

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year our family has had a lot going on. We have the usual family life responsibilities, our callings, work, and taking care of the kids, and the four of us all have birthdays within that one-month period. Plus this year we hosted my extended family for a big Thanksgiving feast. This year Noah got baptized, we’ve hosted out of town guests, we’ve gone out of town, we’ve had visits with both boys’ birthmoms, and we’ve hosted several parties.

I assume I’m not alone about being spread thin during December. With big families, music concerts, school finals, job responsibilities, travel plans, shopping, making cards, baking, ward parties to plan or attend, getting everyone to doctor because your deductible has been met, decorating, tithing settlements, and I KNOW everyone’s callings are busy at the end of the year… I could go on for hours listing all the things we NEED to do before Christmas. Yet most of them really have nothing to do with Christ.

In Elder Uchtdorf’s Christmas devotional this year, he compared the Christmas season to a game of Jenga. If one part of what we perceive as a piece to the perfect season gets misplaced, the whole holiday falls apart. But we must remember that the season is already perfect. We are celebrating Heavenly Father’s supreme gift to us, that of the birth of our Savior.

So how can we open our hearts to Christ during December? Rather than doing more traditions to invite the Christmas spirit, perhaps we should do fewer.

We can most effectively invite the spirit of Christmas by following the examples of those who saw the baby Jesus with their own eyes. I love the article in this month’s Ensign by Elder Patrick Kearon. He shares lessons we should learn from the shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and the wise men.

Elder Kearon says we must respond with haste, like the shepherds, whenever the spirit speaks to us. Thomas S. Monson said we must, “never, never, never postpone following a prompting.”

Simeon was promised he would not die until he saw Christ. He was prompted to go to the temple the day that Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to present him to the Lord at the temple. Elder Kearon says, we should follow the Holy Ghost so our lives can follow the path Heavenly Father has for us. Simeon was in the right place at the right time to receive the blessings the Lord had promised him.

Anna was a “prophetess” who spent a lot of her time in the temple as well. She also held the baby Jesus in the temple. We can follow her example of a lifetime of prayer and fasting and temple attendance.

The Wise Men knew the signs of Jesus’ coming, so when the saw the new star, they prepared their gifts and went to find Him. What gifts are we willing to give the Savior? Are we willing to give our will to Him and to go where He is?

I remember some wonderful Christmases from my childhood. We were a typical middle class family. We never went without, but my parents gifts to us were never extravagant. We had some fantastic traditions though. I remember riding the old train in the top floor of Meier and Frank downtown. I remember Peacock Lane. I remember Santa – in the flesh -- coming to visit to bring us each a small gift to my grandma’s house a week or so before Christmas. I remember my grandma’s cheeseball. And her mouth-watering delicious “snacks,” which was glorified Chex mix.

But the memories and traditions I really treasure was the service my family would provide to others. The two best things my parents exemplified was a life of hard work and daily service. I remember when it was time to bring gifts to the “giving tree” at school, the other kids would bring a gift each and I would bring a sack of presents to give away, all lovingly purchased by my mom. When I was really young I would look around and compare my sack of gifts and wonder why my mom bought so much. I learned over the years that she always gave so much. She always gives away her Christmas bonuses. Any money saved in her change jar was given away. All her spare time was given away too.

John A. Widstoe said, “How can we give to the Lord? What shall we give to him? Every kind word to our own, every help given them, is as a gift to God, whose chief concern is the welfare of his children. Every gentle deed to our neighbor, every kindness to the poor and suffering, is a gift to the Lord, before whom all mankind are equal. Every conformity to the Lord’s plan of salvation—and this is of first importance—is a direct gift to God, for thereby we fit ourselves more nearly for our divinely planned destiny…Do we stand ready to sacrifice for the cause of the Lord in the unpaid services of the Church? That is, are our time, talents, and means at the disposal of those who administer the Lord’s work? Great is the gift from such a hand.”

I have enjoyed this topic and the chance it’s given me to notice the wonderful giving going on around me. 135 Blessing Bags for the homeless, well over 300 children helped by Helping Hands in Sherwood this year, our ward’s Giving Tree, Blankets made for a women’s shelter, to name a few. Last year my brother and his in-laws dressed up like Santa Claus and his elves and hand delivered donated Christmas gifts to families on Christmas day. Have you heard about the anonymous donors paying off layaways at Kmarts around the country? According to a news article 100 layways have been paid off by donors at the Kmarts around the Portland area.

Yesterday Greg and I went to the temple with my parents and my brother and his wife to do sealings for some close relatives. I had never done that before. As we sat in the sealing room, I felt like there was nothing better I could be doing during the Christmas season than giving my relatives the gift of being sealed and all the rights of the gospel that go with that covenant. My grandma Hazel died two months ago and was the source of many of my happy childhood Christmas memories. While her death was too recent to do her temple work this time, it seemed so fitting to seal her parents and all her siblings together during the time of year that reminds me of her most.

For many of us we have spent a Christmas or two in less than ideal circumstances. No children, no spouse, no parents, no money, no home, no time.

I have spent the past few months thinking about the source of my own happiness. I have thought and studied and prayed about how to have joy even during hard times. I have come to know that the source of happiness and peace is the Savior. I know that if we use Him as our source of strength and give to others even when we feel we don’t have anything to give, we will be blessed with abundance.

3 Nephi 12:3 says, “Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come until me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

How do we come unto the Savior? Elder Holland says, “[Jesus] is saying to us, “Trust me, learn of me, do what I do. Then, when you walk where I am going,” He says, “we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have. If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness,” He promises. “I will give you answers to your prayers. I will give you rest to your souls.”

At Christmas-time we increase our focus on giving, love, family, peace, and Jesus Christ. For many of us we feel the Savior’s love more during December because of all we receive. The anonymous gift of cash or treats on the porch helps us feel that the Lord knows our struggles and loves us enough to inspire someone to reach out and help. But whether we feel the Lord’s love or not, his love is there. It is real. He loves us whether we seek his love. He loves us whether we see His love. He has atoned for us already whether we are ready to accept that gift or not. Jesus Christ does not withhold any of his gifts because we aren’t ready or willing. They are there all the time. We must give up our fears, doubts, and anger -- and when we do, we become aware of the love of God that was there all the time.

One of the most powerful stories of faith in the Book of Mormon is the story of the Brother of Jared. He trusted that the Lord in all his power could illuminate the stones to provide light for their barges. Jesus put forth his finger to light the stones and the brother of Jared was able to see him. Now, Jesus would have been there whether the brother of Jared had enough faith to see him or not. In other words, our faith or lack of faith doesn’t change the behavior of Jesus. But the brother of Jared’s faith – and our faith – allows us to see the miracles the Lord performs. Ether 3:9 says, “And the Lord said unto him; Because of thy faith thou has seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast.”

When Moses and the Israelites were in the wilderness the Lord sent fiery serpents to humble them. When the Israelites got bit Moses told them to look at a brass serpent on a pole. If they did, they would live. Alma 33:20 says, “But few understood the meaning of those things, and this because of the hardness of their hearts. But there were many who were so hardened that they would not look, therefore they perished. Now the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them.”

Like the Israelites, Jesus’ atonement has already bought us eternal life. All we must do is look to Him. John 3:14-15 says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

We can still feel the spirit of Christmas while suffering. In fact, your humility during hard times will bring you even closer to Him. Jesus Christ has already paid the price for your happiness. I know he has for me. Jesus Christ is there. If we learn more about him through scripture study, fasting, and prayer; seek Him out through worship at church and the temple; and focus our energies on service – His love will sink deep into our hearts. And no matter the ups and downs of life, we will always have peace and joy.

Jesus Christ knew his eternal destiny. He knew he would suffer and die for us, yet he didn’t waste his few mortal years worrying, but spent them serving those around him. During this Christmas-time we can ask, if Jesus were on the earth, what gifts would he give. Those are the gifts we can give.

In the year 2000 the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve published the “Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.” I love the final paragraph. It says, “We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”

This is also my testimony. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Surprise!

The family in front of the fire at the Great Wolf Lodge

Last year we surprised the kids and took them to the Great Wolf Lodge on Sambo's birthday. When Buddy and I were waiting in line for one of the waterslides, Buddy said, "If you ever want to surprise me again, do this."  I kept that in mind and decided to plan another surprise.  We went again on Sambo's birthday this year and invited my parents, G's parents who were in town for Buddy's baptism, and my brother and his family.  Obviously, it was a rip roarin' good time.

Buddy has been eating like a champ for a year hoping he'd grow tall enough to ride the biggest slide.  When the nurse measured him at 48 inches at his pediatrician check-up a few weeks ago he shouted, "YES!  I can ride the Tornado at Great Wolf Lodge!!!!!"  The nurse said he wasn't the first kid to be excited to arrive at 48 inches tall.

However, when the girl at the entrance at GWL measured him, he was probably 1/2 inch too short by their measuring stick.  Thank goodness the girl had mercy on him and gave him the "all clear."  I have never been so relieved and Buddy was completely overjoyed.  We never would have heard the end of the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth had she stuck to the sign's warning that they make "no exceptions" for not meeting height requirements.


Buddy spent the next two days riding slides without stopping.  The Lodge was practically empty since we were there on a Monday and Tuesday, which meant there was no waiting in any lines for the slides.  Which then meant Buddy climbed the steps repeatedly without stopping the entire time.  We all tried to estimate how many steps he climbed or how many slides he rid, but it was too many to count.  It was totally unreal how excited he was -- and his stamina for the climbing and the slides was mind-boggling.  (Literally.  We all got super dizzy trying to keep up with him.)  I probably did 25 slides with him and that was plenty.  G and his dad and my brother each probably did twice that each.  And my dad probably did 3 times that with him.  I really regret not putting a pedometer on him.  That kid is crazy, I tell you.

A few interesting experiences.  G had the whistle blown at him at least 10 times and I had it blown at me once.  Then one time Buddy was swimming in the wave pool and the lifeguard thought he was struggling in the water (he wasn't) and jumped in to rescue him.  The supervising lifeguard filled out an "incident report" about the whole ordeal.  Buddy was mortified and was really shaken up about it.  The lifeguards reassured him "they jump in after kids all the time."  Then the next day Buddy slipped while running and cracked his head on the ground pretty bad.  My brother did a check on him for a concussion and the lifeguards all gathered around with worried looks and ice packs.  He turned out to be fine, despite a pretty big lump and bruise.  By some miracle, they didn't write another incident report.  Thank goodness because I don't think Buddy would have recovered from the humiliation and I don't think I would have recovered from the anxiety of having such a crazy kid.

Sambo taking a little snooze.  

Sambo also had a ball.  He could only go on the smaller two slides, but he had fun doing those and playing in the wave pool and the kiddie area.  He loves playing in the water, so he was in heaven too.  And unlike his brother, he actually got tired and fell asleep at one point in G's arms.  And he didn't do anything to warrant any incident reports.

It was really fun being there with family and we decided that going with friends or family is the only way to go.  There is no way G and I could have kept up with Buddy alone.  As for me, I finally got up the courage to ride the Tornado with Buddy.  He had been begging me since last year and I finally sucked it up in exchange for him returning to the wave pool (the location of the embarrassing "save" from the lifeguard).  I was terrified, but I decided to go twice in a row to try to really overcome my fear.  It didn't work!  In fact, when we got done Buddy asked me, "Where you really crying, mom?"  No I wasn't, but almost.  I don't need to fall off cliffs in an inner-tube to give myself that rush everybody likes.  I have enough anxiety, stress, and adrenaline in my life.  Thank you very much.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Four!

My baby is Four!  Sambo hasn't been a baby in a long time, but I still pretend.

We celebrated at Great Wolf Lodge (more details coming).  We also threw him his first "friend" birthday party today.  He and his brother share the same friends, so it was especially fun.  We had an alien and rocket theme because he loves stuff that flies and is super into aliens.  I suggested we invite some "real" aliens and his eyes got especially big and he said, "That's feepy" (creepy).  He said the kids would all cry and would want to go home.  So we scrapped that idea.

The kids with their rockets.

Instead we encouraged the kids to be creative and build rockets out of craft supplies we provided.  The kids did such a great job, especially with G as our creative director.  G and I made a good party planning team.  I know how to handle kids and he knows how to help kids have a good time.  Next we hunted for hidden stars around the house.  The kid that won got a starburst.  And the kid that found the special "moon" got a starburst.  (Get it?  starburst?)  Then G showed the kids several youtube videos of real rocket launches and landings.  They were totally impressed.  I don't think Sambo broke his stare at the TV for a solid 10 minutes.  He was totally spellbound.  Next up was balloon rockets.  We filled balloons with some pinto beans, blew the balloons up slightly, taped some streamers to the bottom and we had us some rockets.  Then we burned a bit of energy with a few minutes of freeze dance.  It's our family's party trademark.  We play this at every kid party and I usually play it when I teach preschool.  It's so hilarious to watch a pack of kids cut some serious rug.  This year the song was the clean version of "E.T." by Katy Perry.  So awesome!





Then it was time for presents and then cupcakes.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, I abhor making fancy cakes and cupcakes.  Why I continue to make an effort is beyond me.  I'm pretty sure I will not be doing it again.  (Maybe making cupcakes is like giving birth, though.  By the time next year rolls around I will have forgotten the pain, agony, and sacrifice involved and I'll agree to do it again.  Please someone stop me before I agree to do it again!)  This year I attempted alien cupcakes.  I did a horrible job, although they still turned out cute, only because the design was awesome and not because of my handiwork.



Then it was pinata time.  Sambo has been wanting a birthday party with a pinata for a long time.  We got a star pinata because I wasn't on the ball enough to get a cooler alien one online.  Amazingly, no one got smacked in the face.  I thought for sure it would happen and was relieved it didn't.  The parents came just as we were finishing the pinata.  We still had a few more activities in reserve if we needed to fill time, including a paper airplane contest (we have the best spot to launch them from upstairs) and making a cratered moon out of paper plates and foil.  All in all, it was a super simple party but the kids were busy the whole time and G and I never lost control.  Sambo LOVES crafts, so we went heavy on the crafts.

Now for the part of the post where I brag about my totally awesome son.  Sambo is the type of kid that makes infertile women grieve.  He is a mother's dream.  Honestly, he is so easy to parent and is an absolute delight.  We love him so much!  G and I say he wakes up cuter every day.  His very best talent is being cute.  He is darling, he talks cute and he has cute interests.  

Sambo is very active and runs all around all the time, but he has a very easygoing personality.  He rides his bike amazingly well and is a whiz on his scooter.  He learned to swim this summer and if we were more on the ball as parents and took him swimming more through the winter, he would probably be really awesome by next summer.  His other major talent is the roundhouse he can do while perched in his carseat.  I feel really bad for Buddy, but Buddy has yet to learn to move his face away from the range of Sambo's foot.  The range on his kick is really impressive, though, so there is probably little Buddy can do to get away from him. 

Sambo spends his entire life trying to keep up with his very smart and very active older brother, and he does pretty well.  He gets worn out much quicker than Buddy, but he makes a valiant effort.  He loves to be treated like the "big kids" and he actually started hyperventilating at the gym this week when he realized he is old enough to be in the "big kid" room.  He begged his brother stay with him so they could play together in that room.  He was paralyzed by joy and wouldn't even walk into the room.  He just stood there and repeated over and over again, "I play with Yoah?  I play with my brother?  Me old enough?!!!!!" over and over again.

 Sambo with his new alien lego set. 

Sambo is very artistic and makes the best drawings and hangs them all over the house.  I love this part of motherhood.  I love having a gallery of kid drawings taped above my bed and handmade kid ornaments all over the Christmas tree.  A month or so ago Sambolegos amazingly well.  And his attention span is better than most children twice his age.  Last night he sat and quietly built legos with his birthmom for an hour and a half. He would sit and do "homework" with me on the couch all day if I had time to sit with him.

 Sambo playing legos with his birthmom.

He is very eager to please and cries really hard when he gets in trouble, especially in public.  When he is disciplined he fixes his behavior immediately.  He goes days without getting a timeout.  I can take him anywhere because he is the rare child that actually cooperates in the store, falls asleep in the car but wakes up happy, rarely gets cranky, and falls asleep every week during church so we don't have to bother to entertain him.  We often say that if he had come first (which remember, if he had not been placed for adoption, he would have been...) his parent(s) would have assumed they were the bomb.  He makes us feel like we are doing things right!  And trust me, that's a good feeling.  

Oh, how we love him.  It's not right to love somebody because they are good.  But we do.  And lucky for us, he also is lovable for about a million other reasons.  He is such a wonderful son.  I have no idea where life will take him, but I hope life treats him good and never sucks the simple joy from him.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Exhaustion -- Part 2

Photo not taken today.  I wish!  Taken a few weeks ago.  Should I be embarrassed about such awkward photos of myself on the Internet?  I'm not. 


I'm taking a much-earned break from all my hard work this week to update you on my "to do" list.  You would be so proud!  I have accomplished many items on my list.  Unfortunately, I thought of a bunch more critical items I should have listed, but don't worry, they got done too.  This happened mostly because of the fantastic help of friends and family.  G is a workhorse and has happily complied with the list, helping a ton.  One benefit of having hyper children is they are very good to help.  Buddy has always been a great worker and did a great job of vacuuming the garage and the car, cleaning his rooms and doing tons of other odds and ends jobs.  Sambo did his fair share too, including being cooperative while I was busy every day.  And then my friends. One friend watched Sambo today.  A friend went to the store to pick out Buddy's suit.  A friend came into my house and folded my laundry pile.  A friend sent an email offering support.  A friend got all of Buddy's supplies at the Scout store so he would be properly outfitted for his first Pack Meeting.  A friend took charge of typing and printing the program for Buddy's baptism.  And friends have offered to help make treats for the party after the baptism.  I HATE asking for help, and ABHOR taking help.  But my tasks this week were non-negotiable and there was no possible way to get everything done without losing my mind.  It's yet another lesson that I/you don't need to be a martyr.  People are willing to help.  They want to!  And the reason I know they want to help is because most of these acts of service were taken care of before I even had a chance to ask.  Our family has wonderful friends. 

And here's something else kind of funny concerning exhaustion.  G mentioned yesterday that he's literally never been so tired in all his life.  At first we assumed it was because we're busy and our weights class at the gym was particularly hard yesterday. But then we realized we've had turkey for dinner and lunch in one form or another since Thanksgiving.  I made a 26.6 pound turkey and we had a lot of leftovers.  Tryptophan is catching up to us apparently.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Exhaustion

Life is good, don't get me wrong.  But the past few weeks I've been run ragged.  This is always a busy time of year with the normal holiday activities.  Plus all four of us have birthdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Add in traveling for Christmas, a baptism, out of town guests, visits with both birthmoms, and a bunch of friend and relative birthdays during that same time frame -- and I'm tired.

Here's what I've accomplished already in the last week:
  • Getting the yard cleaned up for winter.
  • Buddy's birthday.
  • Cleaning the house from top to bottom.
  • Hosting 21 people for Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Cleaning house after Thanksgiving.
  • Zoo lights.
  • Pulling an all-nighter for Black Friday.  My first time!  So fun!
  • Cutting down and decorating our Christmas tree.
  • Date night with G to Breaking Dawn Part One.  LAME/GROSS.  (the movie, not the date)
Here's what I still need to accomplish in the next week/few weeks:
  • Fold about 10 loads of laundry sitting on my bedroom floor.
  • Clean the house from top to bottom to prepare for visitors this week.
  • Buddy's Baptism.
  • Make sure Buddy is relaxed about his baptism.
  • Pay the bills.
  • Plan and execute some sort of Baptism party.
  • Host grandparents.
  • Host Buddy's birthmom and her family.
  • Sambo's birthday.
  • Schedule a time to see Sambo's birthmom to celebrate his birthday.
  • Make a bunch of cakes/cupcakes for all the parties happening. 
  • Get hair cut.
  • Two days at Great Wolf Lodge.
  • Mail Christmas cards.
  • Buy presents.  (Most have been bought, thank heavens.)
  • Wrap Christmas presents.
  • Deliver packets our friends put together for the homeless.
  • Teach the kids about giving and service.  Find opportunities to give and serve.
  • Find Buddy a suit.
  • Get everybody to the doctor/eye doctor since we've met our deductible for the year.
  • Plan and execute a friend birthday party for Sambo.
  • Host a Christmas party with our friends.
  • Hire movers to move a piano to our house.
  • Get that piano repaired and tuned.
  • Find a piano teacher for Buddy.
  • Talk to our accountant.
  • Iron.  OR take G's clothes to the dry cleaners.  He officially has NO un-ironed white shirts.
  • Get life insurance before I turn 35 in a few weeks.
  • Do everything that needs to be done for my calling.
  • Schedule adoption trainings for 2012.
  • Plan something fun for G's birthday.
  • Get ready to go out of town for Christmas.
  • Update our adoption profile.
  • I'm sure I have to teach preschool somewhere soon too.
  • Get to the gym three times a week since all I do is celebrate people's birthdays.
  • Make sure all my friends who are sad are OK.
  • Take care of the kids.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Accountable (updated)

Well, he's gone and done it.  Buddy has officially aged to the wonderful age of 8.  It's so hard to believe he's gone from this:


To this:

Every parent says their kids grow too fast but... wow.  I didn't know how hard it would be to see my kids grow up. Not that the future isn't exciting and bright for him, but he's officially at the age of accountability and responsibility.  I had no idea the absolute terror I would feel about the "world" sucking all that is good out of him.  Unfortunately, he will experience sorrow, loneliness, worry, frustration, fear.  Nobody wants that for their child.  But when it's my child. My heart breaks knowing that life is hard for everyone, and my firstborn son will experience hard times too.  I love that my job is to teach, support, and help him.  Plus he's quick to forgive, capable, strong, and smart.  So between his own abilities and the strength of his many loved ones, he'll be OK.  But wow, that's a lot of pressure for a mom!  He deserves the very best life has to offer, but as I've been trying to teach him, life isn't "fair."  I want him to somehow know how to be happy despite hard times.  It's crazy to think he is now responsible for his own happiness. 

I had a feeling mothering would be hard -- because everyone tells you that.  But they also said sleepless nights and potty-training were what made it so hard.  Well, I'm going to publicly say that if that's what you consider "hard," you have easy kids.  Buddy worries me, confuses me, exhausts me, and makes me so incredibly happy all in the same day.  Nobody tells you that sort of stuff -- the rollercoaster your heart goes on when dealing with regular life.

I'll tell you one thing, my heart practically bursts on a daily basis because of his wonderful personality.  He loves deeply, is so patient, loves life, loves everybody, loves God, is curious, and is smart.  I'm so happy to be Buddy's mother.  I didn't know that parenting would be so much fun -- nobody tells you that either. 

I brought him Taco Bell at school for lunch today and enjoyed him whispering in my ear which girls he has a crush on and which girls have a crush on him.  He was the last kid still eating so I encouraged him to hurry and eat so he could go to recess.  He said, "That's OK.  I'm enjoying this more than I'd enjoy recess."  It's moments like that that I work for day-in and day-out with my kids.  And when they happen -- and with him they happen pretty often -- it's pure bliss.

Buddy is such a gift to our family.  But I had a distinct feeling this morning that he is a gift to a lot of families.  Two families call him son.  Those two families are celebrating his life today.  Real life started for those two families when he was born.  It's a lot of pressure for kids to be told they are "lucky" they were adopted, so I am going to try to never give him that responsibility to feel lucky.  But I do want him to know that he is very blessed and lucky to have so many people that love him. 

Not to mention, his wide circle of friends that love him.  When I was at the school today I enjoyed being proudly introduced to all his friends.  Plus all his friends from church, the neighborhood, and former classes that came and said hi to me too.  Nobody told me how awesome that part of parenting is either.  Becoming friends with your kids' friends -- so rewarding.  Then there was a friend of mine at the school who has taken an interest in him over the past year.  Nobody told me that would happen.  That my friends would care about my kids?  I've never felt so humble and thankful, as I was when I learned that one of my friends has prayed for my son.  She saw us having lunch and came to wish him a happy birthday.  She sat down next to him, told him she cared about him, that she had his baptism on her calendar and that she was giving him a challenge to bear his testimony at church after his baptism.  If he'd do it, she'd do it.  They both struggle with anxiety, so her love means a lot to him. 

I don't know what I did (wrong or right) to get this job of raising Buddy.  What a blessing.  I love him with all my heart!

*  Our Bishop just called to wish Buddy a happy birthday.  How cool is that?!

Also, I most definitely do NOT have my sister's or friends' talents for making cool birthday cakes.  I shouldn't even try.  Well, to be completely honest, I don't even try.  Buddy's birthday cake was an afterthought today.  I knew and planned the type of cake, but I didn't have a plan for how to execute it.  It turned out horrific at best.  Honestly, it was so ridiculous looking, I couldn't stop laughing and should have been totally ashamed of myself.  I apologized to Buddy for making it so ugly and he said, "If I was allowed to say 'shut up' I would right now.  The cake is fine."

I rest my case about his awesomeness.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Essays

 

Buddy is amazing in every way.  One of his very best talents is testing my abilities as a parent.  I have been trying to consistently do timeouts rather than supplementing with lectures, yelling, or worse.  But many of his behaviors that test me the most don't really fall into the "you've just earned a timeout" category.

I have found that if he gets a chance to explain himself, a lot of times he de-escalates.  Unfortunately, when I'm irritated I rarely have the patience to sit and listen to his feelings.  So along came a brilliant idea.  I could have him write essays to explain his behavior and what he could do better.

In the last 6 days, he's written 17 pages worth of essays.  He earns a page per infraction that I feel doesn't really warrant a timeout.  I make a list of topics I'd like him to cover in each essay.  He has to sit on his bed away from the rest of us and write.  If he gets off his bed, he gets another page.  These essays have become a highlight of my day.  I might share a few here on the blog because they are so amusing.  The interesting thing is how much I adore him after reading his essays.

Here's today's essay.  The topics were:  Why I shouldn't get out of my bed.  What happens when I don't get enough sleep?  Why mom doesn't like it.  And What I should do if I'm not tired.  He got out of bed three times last night before falling asleep, so he earned 3 pages.  I kept his punctuation, but fixed his spelling errors, which are getting fewer and further between which each essay!

Without further adieu:


"I have one essay to write and it will not be fun.  So I got out of bed and I don't remember what I was doing while I was out of my bed.  And when you don't get enough sleep you get really really really really cranky in the morning, middle of the day, and afternoon, and noonday.  And your parents don't like it right?  So you should go to sleep... right mom or dad?  And mom or dad doesn't like it because it sometimes wakes him or her up and she or him doesn't like that and she or him doesn't want to be cranky right mom or dad?  And also our parents don't allow it so they don't let you do it.

And if I am not tired I should lay down and rest, or try to go to sleep right mom or dad.  But I should never get up never... right?  And if I...Ever... Ever... Ever do that again I will be very very very very very very sorry and try not to do it again never... or never again in my life!  And make sure to discipline me so I will learn even though you don't like it when you have to discipline me.  I want to learn very very very badly.  So I want you to discipline me good.  And I don't want to get off of my bed but I can't sleep.  And getting off my bed is a very bad choice right?

Oh I forgot a couple of stuff.  So on getting out of my bed.  So it's because God doesn't like it either... right mom or dad?  And about the if I don't get enough sleep.  So your parents get cranky too because then you get mad and you get even more cranky right mom?  So about the why mom doesn't like it thing.  So she doesn't also like it because it is the rule to stay in bed.  Oh did i write that down already?  Oh well if I did because almost done and I am very happy about that...  And I mean it like a ton of times.  And if I get out of my bed again I will be very sorry."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Heaven Couldn't Be Better Than That

A couple weeks ago G and I took a little break from real life and spent a couple days in the Columbia River Gorge.  It was fantastic in every way.  We dropped the kids off early at my brother's house.  Once we were free, our first stop was a 4-hour scenic train ride around the Hood River valley.  The fall colors were at their peak and it was so much fun to sit in silence and look out the window at all the farms and trees.  We both fell asleep a few times, which at first we felt bad about, but actually that enhanced the experience.  Relaxing in every way!

 

Halfway through the train ride we stopped in a gorgeous rural farming town.  The town is known for it's apple and pear orchards and sits at the foot of Mt. Hood.  We bought lunch at the little grocery store and sat in the park and ate.  The sun was out, the air was warm, and the scenery could not have been more beautiful with the fall colors, and Mt. Hood in the background.

 G in front of his beloved Mt. Hood.

 Eating our picnic lunch.  We both agreed this picnic was a highlight of the weekend.  Reminded us of the pre-children era.

Me in a pear orchard. 

After our train ride, we drove to a big farm and walked around.  It was weird not having the kids because they would have loved it, but I'm not going to lie... it was really nice. We wandered around, picked out some cool gourds for my dining room table, ate a donut, and enjoyed the sunshine.

Next we returned to the city of Hood River and walked up and down the streets looking in all the shops.  G found Buddy his very first pair of skis (used) for his birthday!  We had dinner at a delicious pizza place and watched an a capella group perform.  We felt like we were back at BYU.

Our last stop of the night was our resting place, Skamania Lodge.  If you live around here, you must go.  Wow!  It was so relaxing.  They had a giant fire going in the main area of the hotel and a bonfire outside.  We sat in the outdoor hot tub.  We wandered around the hotel and noticed there wasn't a child in sight.  HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! 

The next morning we slept in, laid around, watched TV, and finally went to brunch at noon.  The main reason we even went to the Skamania Lodge is for the brunch.  And that's the main reason you should go too.  It was amazingly wonderful.  Delicious!  After brunch, we sat in the family room and looked out the windows at the rain and decided to take a little nap right there in the rocking chairs.  Since we were so exhausted from doing nothing all day, you know. 

We drove around a bit, then did some shopping and eventually returned home in the evening.  It was the perfect getaway because we were missing the kids by that point.  They were mildly happy to see us and after an hour of being back in their presence, we were exhausted again and ready for another weekend away.  Luckily it was bed time!

The kids survived without us, of course, in my brother and sis-in law's capable hands.  I think Jordan and Tahsha were a little worse for the wear, though.  When they told us about their weekend, they kept giving us the "They were great!" line, while giving us that "courtesy" laugh people do when they are feeling really awkward.  My parents joined my brother and everybody to take the kids to our ward's trunk-or-treat.  My dad said the kids had fun but after comparing my kids' energy level/behavior with the rest of the ward (and my ward has NO shortage of kids), he said, "Your kids had fun.  And your kids are not calm."

And this, everyone, is why me and G had so much fun on our weekend away.

That, and the fact that G is a wonderful friend and companion.  And as fun as it was to see some new things and eat great food and be without the kids, the very best part was just being with him.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pray for Snow (by G)


I have blogged before about the many realizations that I have had that I'm truly a father. Yesterday I had another one of those moments. The awesome thing about the stage in life that we are at with the kids is that my kids are old enough to start participating and enjoying that things in life that I do. I'm happy to report that the boys in the family now have season passes to Mt. Hood Meadows. It was a proud day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Destruction

It has been a gorgeous fall here in Oregon.  We have had spectacular sunrises three days in a row.*  The beauty of the blue skies this week and the vibrant fall colors and the crunchy leaves on the sidewalk have literally taken my breath away a few times.  This is why I'm a proud Oregonian!  I don't remember fall ever being so gorgeous before, though.  Normally I'm not a huge fan of this time of year, although I love the colors of the leaves.  I usually am too torn up about the cooler weather and school starting to appreciate the beauty of the trees. But I'm changing that because obviously I've been missing out. 

My boys have been playing outside a lot this week.  I am sitting here on the couch paying bills and watching them launch large outside toys off the slide in our backyard.  I've been thinking a lot lately about letting kids be kids, and in my case:  letting boys be boys.  I can guarantee people will get hurt and toys will get broken during this adventure.  Should I stop them?  I already yelled at them 15 minutes ago for breaking most of our Halloween decorations in the front yard in their quest to re-decorate for the 100th time. I hate ruined things and messes.  You have no idea how much I hate messes!  Anyone who knows me knows I like order.  But somehow I got creative kids and they can't be themselves if they are clean, tidy, and don't touch things.

And don't get me started on their incessant climbing.  We went to the pumpkin patch this week and I had to tell Buddy (almost 8 years old) 4 times in a matter of a few minutes to GET DOWN off of different things that weren't "safe" by my standards to be climbing on.  But then I'm not sure about my standards since I'm scared of heights.  The last straw was him climbing on the TOP of the play structure's monkey bars.   I told him to get down and threatened to leave since he wasn't listening.  But then I stopped myself.  It was a play structure, after all.  I pretended like I was reading my magazine to avoid all the horrified looks I got from all the parents the rest of the time we were there.

What's a mother like me to do?  Seriously!  Give me some advice here, please!  Should I allow them to break things and climb to unsafe heights, or should I continue to harp on them so they turn out like me?!  Or is there another solution I can't see here?

*  The sun rises late this week.  Don't worry I'm still not an early riser!  Come to think of it, I think this week is the first time I've ever seen a sunrise...  In my life.  No wonder I'm so impressed!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Day

 This picture has nothing to do with this post, but I love it.  This is at Buddy's "Fun Run" a few weeks ago.  Click on the picture to enlarge it so you can see both my boys.  Buddy ran 8 laps in 20 minutes and Sambo ran 9 laps in about 90 minutes.  It was in the 90's that day so they had an area just up the track from where they are where they could take drinks and get hosed off. 

Compared to Monday, today was a colossal FAIL.  Nothing bad happened, but all sorts of things and people bugged me.  But after evaluating what my basic problem was today, I realized something:  I forgot to pray this morning.  Things have been hectic around here with lots going on, and lots of friends in real crisis.  I've been trying to be all things to all people and mostly it's been working out OK.  Praying has been a requirement for making it through the day in one piece, though.  Take Monday for example.  It might have been one of the busiest days I've ever had (besides finals weeks at BYU of course).  I had a list of things to do so long my head started spinning four days in advance.  I got organized days in advance and starting checking things off my list.  By Sunday night I was overwhelmed by what still HAD to be done.  I prayed on Monday morning that the hours would move slowly and I'd get everything done.  I did get every single thing done besides going to the gym.  And I still had time to provide my daily service, read to Sambo, make homemade soup (which is a story in and of itself*), homemade rolls, and watch a little TV before bed.  It was one of those "loaves and fishes" (except in this case it was loaves and minutes) types of experiences.  

Today was the opposite.  I had a lot to do, but wanted to make time to spend a little time with the kids.  I budgeted my time so I could take them to the library and to the park.  Maybe it was because I only got five hours of sleep last night, but I'm pretty sure the day was long and hard and the kids were annoying, and I had no patience, and I only got three things (of 30) done on my "to-do" list -- all because I forgot to pray.  What a difference it makes!

 Squash Soup Mutiny

Here are a few of the things I did laugh or smile about today.  I have made three kinds of soup this week.  I'm not a fan (gasp!) of Fall, but soup makes it bearable.  Plus I had two different kinds of soup last night at enrichment.  So that makes FIVE soups in FOUR days.  That must be some sort of record.  *Do you want to hear more about the Monday night soup incident?  My kids are remarkable eaters.  I know Buddy was born that way (not Sambo, however).  I have zero tolerance for picky-ness and have never ever in my entire eight years of mothering served my children something special because they didn't like what I had made.  I'm a pretty decent dinner-maker and provide a huge variety of healthy meals.  My kids always eat, even if they complain a little.  I do not battle over food.  I always give them the choice of eating without drama and complaining, or sitting on their bed while the rest of us eat.  Neither has ever chosen to sit on their bed.  Well, Monday night I made butternut squash soup.  It's a recipe from my sister, that I really love and it's very similar to a zucchini soup recipe I made two weeks ago that we all really love.  Well, apparently these kids HATE squash.  I cannot even tell you the mutiny I had.  I already knew G hated the soup, but wow.  The kids were actually crying about it.  Not throwing a tantrum or complaining, but downright sobbing.  I gave them a few bites each and they both were gagging and heaving like I've never seen.  So, for the first time ever, I gave them some yogurt and some rolls and called it dinner.  I found it so incredibly funny, I am still laughing about it two days later.  And the best news, I got all the leftovers!

Here are two awesome dinner conversations from tonight:

Buddy:  These rolls are good.
Sambo:  Told you!
Buddy:  You never told me that, you're just trying to make conversation.

And...

Buddy:  MOM!!!!!!  Sambo just told me he wants to kill me with a knife!
Sambo:  No!  Not a real knife!


And here's a story G told me about our neighbors.  Our neighbors are amazing.  Some of the best people we've ever met.  Unfortunately, their house is on the market and I think that if their house sells I'll have to go on anti-depressants.  I love them and I want my kids to be close friends with their kids.  And I want their oldest daughter to be our permanent babysitter.  She turns 12 next week!  (And if I'm being honest, I want Buddy to marry their youngest daughter.)  Anyway, one son, Tyler is in Buddy's class.  Their homework was to write sentences using their spelling words.  One of the spelling words was "when."  Tyler wrote this:  "Don't you hate it when your butt crack itches?"

No can't you see why I'm devastated they are moving?  HILARIOUS kids!

Sambo decided today he wants a princess dress to dress-up in.  He asked me several times.  Finally, I had the idea to dress him up in the sundress I wear after swimming.  He thought he looked so pretty and then asked me to put a "silly band" (but what he meant was a rubberband

Pretty Princess

I was starving after the gym and was craving Burgerville today. I resisted and started driving home, the opposite direction from Burgerville.  The craving intensified and I couldn't handle it, so I had to wheel into the drive-thru of Burger King before I got home.  It totally hit the spot! 

Sambo feels bad for his brother that he gets to make crafts at preschool and gets prizes at speech.  So he started making Buddy special little crafts and surprising him when he gets home from school.  He thinks of them all on his own.  As you can imagine, Buddy loves it.  Last week Sambo cut up a bunch of papers and glued them all together to make a robot.  Yesterday while I was in the shower he found some straws, cut them all up and glued them on a paper like "thorns."  As a person with NO creativity or artistic inclinations, I am always so impressed!  And I was particularly relieved it was only straws he cut up and not something important!

"Thorns"

Today while at the park my kids were being really annoying.  Getting in the mud, hiding in the bushes by the road where middle school kids walk by, begging me to push them the entire time on the tire swing which is fine except Sambo wants to go slow and Buddy wants to go FAST.  Anyway, I was about to pull the plug on the outing and called to Buddy that we were leaving.  He said he wanted to do the monkey bars one more time.  As I called to him a few minutes later because he still hadn't come, I noticed him helping a slightly younger girl ease her way off the monkey bars.  She was stuck and a little afraid.  He was holding one of her feet, guiding and encouraging her.  As irritating as he can be, he impresses me so much.  He is good to the core. 

Now that I type all this out, I guess it wasn't that bad of a day after all.  (Especially now that the kids are asleep and G is finally home to do the dishes!)  The therapy of typing makes up for the fact that I should have been doing something more productive, I guess.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Normal Grind

Unfortunately, nothing exciting or 'blogworthy' has been happening around here.  Sometimes no news is good news, though, so I'm not complaining.

A few mildly interesting things:
  • Dear, dear, dear friends are getting placed with a baby through adoption this weekend, God willing. They have waited a very long time for this. Prayers go out to the birthmom that she will have strength and peace.
  • Another long-time friend just got placed with a toddler last weekend.  They adopted her through the state in a very long and heart-wrenching process.  It was a true miracle it worked out.  I am so happy for them!  They waited for her for so many years I lost track.  Their oldest daughter is 10, so it's been a loooong time.  
  • And speaking of adoption, I got sucked into watching and reading all the tributes to Steve Jobs today.  A friend on facebook said something like "all geniuses were adopted."  Amen to that!  Have you seen the commencement address he gave at Stanford?  Watch it!  A fascinating, brilliant, and wise man. 
  • We went to Coldstone tonight to celebrate our September "service challenge."  Each of us tried to do service every day and whoever did service the most days got the biggest ice cream.  Buddy won.  He took this challenge very seriously and did service almost every day.  He picked cotton candy ice cream (bright blue) with kit-kat.  I had to laugh at that combo!
  • We also took the kids to get the flu mist vaccine tonight.  This is the first time they've had it.  In the past they've always had the flu shot because they've both had "asthma" within the year.  They both have grown out of any asthma symptoms, which is really great.  No coughing/wheezing, no expensive meds, and no more flu shots!  Although Sambo is weird and actually told the nurse he wanted the shot instead of the mist.  (???)  She talked him out of it.
  • Speaking of flu shots, I got one a couple weeks ago and two days later came down with the nastiest virus I've had in awhile.  I'm still not feeling back to normal.  I carefully read the flu vaccine paperwork tonight (since I didn't read it when I got it.  does anyone?) and the paperwork says you can't get the flu from the flu shot.  However, the paperwork did say you could have all the flu "symptoms" from the shot.  I guess it's good news that I didn't in fact have the flu like I thought and wouldn't have died from my virus, considering I honestly thought I was on death's doorstep. 
  • And since I can't stop talking about the flu, I must make note that I have the world's best husband.  When I was on death's doorstep he stayed home from work to take the boys where they needed to go.  Actually, he also took Sambo into the office for a little while, which is something he swore he'd never do again (after he did it the last time).  He took the boys out one evening so I could moan in a silent house.  I never asked him to do it or expected it, but he's fabulous like that.  
  • While at the doctor tonight we weighed the boys and they both have gained 4 pounds since we had them weighed there, two months ago.  That's a lot!  Especially since the previous 8 months Sambo had only gained one pound.  I'm not really surprised, especially with Buddy because he eats like a horse.  He now officially eats more than I do, which is saying something considering I've never been a lightweight  myself.  The good news is, the boys are getting awesomely close to being big enough to be done with carseats/move to a booster seat.  Yay!  And that means if we ever get another baby we don't have to buy a mini van because everyone will fit in my Subaru.  Although we might still want one because we could never transport friends.  But that's a conversation for another day...
  • G threw a pair of underwear away tonight that he bought in 1994.  I cannot stop laughing about that.  I'm sorry if you don't think that's blogworthy because I do.
  • My favorite blogger stopped blogging last week and then changed her mind and started it up again today.  Fabulous news!
  • I am putting together a list of favorite books for a Relief Society class I'm teaching next week.  Please leave a comment with your favorites!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

More Insights From Buddy and Sambo

The best dinner Sambo's every had.  It just so happened to be the only time his father has cooked... in awhile.  But it made an impact.  

My kids have a strange interest in "juvi."  You know, juvenile detention.  I'm not sure how Buddy first learned about it, but he threatens Sambo from time to time that if he doesn't follow the laws of the land, he will have to go to juvi.  It's sinking in because yesterday Sambo was playing with his cars and I heard him talking about sending some to juvi for not driving nice. 

Additionally, tonight Buddy was trying to convince me that it's all my fault he gets in trouble so much because it's "my choice" to discipline him or not.  I used his interest in juvi to argue my point: that I have a responsibility to teach him to obey.  I have to follow through with consequences otherwise he'll never learn that rules must be obeyed.  A child can either be disciplined by their parents when they are young, or disciplined by the "system" when they are teenagers, and as a result sent to juvi.  I'm not sure if that's good parenting or not, but it made my point and he totally understood.

Are my kids the only kids interested in juvi?

* * *

I was going through some old papers and realized I had a form from Sambo's speech class that he was supposed to fill out with my help and give to G for Father's Day.  We worked on it and surprised daddy when he came home today.  I seriously had to stifle my laughter while I filled it out.  We all laughed until we cried when we read it together with daddy.  Out of the mouth of babes. 

To: Dad 
From: Sambo, age 3 1/2

My dad is as handsome as a: dog.
My dad smells like: poop.
My dad likes to: make dinner.
My dad makes the best: dinner ever me have.
When I am sick my dad:  helps take me to doctor.
When I am sad my dad:  helps me not cry.
I like my dad's: toes and feet.
I love my dad because: he is good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Growing Up

I am madly in love with this child.  He is such a huge blessing in my life especially with my high-strung personality.   He is the perfect compliment to me.  I just love him so much.  Since Buddy has been back to school, I've noticed how much Sambo has matured over the summer.  It's hard to tell when Buddy is around all the time because he's the one that does all the talking and pretty much runs the show.  I hate to phrase it like this, but Sambo lives very much in Buddy's shadow.  Not that Sambo minds.  Buddy has a HUGE personality and requires a lot more parenting than Sambo.  Sambo has the perfect personality to fit in wherever he is needed in this family.  He goes with the flow and as long as we treat him like a big boy, he is easy.  He is Buddy's right-hand man.  He is G's best friend.  And he is my comfort.  If only I could find joy in the simple things like he does. 

Sambo headed off for his first day of preschool today.  It's nothing fancy, just a fun co-op with a few friends.  Each mom takes turns teaching and the kids get to be together, play games and do all sorts of crafts.  To say he was ecstatic to be going to school "same as Yoah" (aka his brother), would be the understatement of the year.  He has literally never eaten breakfast so fast.  He was ready and milling around the house with his backpack on before I was ready.  Well, actually it was his brother's backpack from Kindergarten/1st grade because like I mentioned earlier, he wanted to be "same as Yoah."  So while I was upstairs getting ready, he packed his backpack all by himself with his water bottle and his graham cracker snack I had sitting out on the counter.  (I've been trying to teach Buddy to do that for two years!)  After I picked him up from preschool he informed me he loved having his Cheez-its for a snack "same as Yoah."  I said, "Cheez-its?  You took graham crackers."  And then he explained that he did indeed take the graham crackers that I packed, but he also packed himself a separate bag of Cheez-its.  For the record, his brother has NEVER thought to get himself a snack.  And even more interesting, he left no mess.  There were no crumbs, and the box was put back in the cupboard where it belongs.

Not only has Sambo matured emotionally, but he is talking a lot more.  And his reasoning skills have improved the most of all.  He still talks like a baby, so to hear him argue or reason things out like an almost 4-year old is surprising and if I'm being honest, totally adorable.  I'm sure this change has been gradual, but I really am noticing it now that I'm alone with him more.  I'm sure he learned a lot as Buddy's apprentice all summer too, since Buddy can pretty much talk anyone in or out of anything

Here are a few anecdotes to illustrate my point just from this morning:

We went to Safeway and Sambo spent the last half of our shopping trip trying to convince me that he needed to bring his pillow next time so he can get more comfortable in the cart.  The metal cart hurts his head and back when he tries to lay down.

He spent the two hours after preschool recounting the whole experience.  I could not believe the details he shared.  He shared nothing about what they learned, but what everyone ate for snack, and who got in trouble for what reasons.  (Just like his brother always does when he comes home...)

I heard a ruckus going on in his room and it sounded like he was getting into his dresser.  A few minutes later he came downstairs with new shorts on, and upon examination, new underwear too.  I asked him what was going on and he told me he peed his pants.  This is a very rare occurrence, but it does happen when he wants attention.  So I gave him a very stern "no" and put him timeout where he'd be getting NO attention.  Then I went upstairs to find his wet underwear.  Low and behold, his underwear and shorts were totally dry.  So I pulled him out of timeout to find out what was going on.  And he confessed that he just wanted to wear his Buzz Lightyear underwear, so he pretended to pee his pants.

He told me that when I'm a kid and he's the parent, he's going to go to his friend Connor's house anytime he wants.

Apparently at preschool a kid wrote on the couch with crayon (the teacher's son, luckily).  Well, Sambo got mad at me shortly after coming home and wrote on our couch.  I put him in timeout and when he came out I could tell he was really sorry.  Time passed, and after lunch I saw him taking a towel and trying to rub the crayon off.  I explained that crayon doesn't come off and he ruined the couch and I was really mad that he does stuff like that.  He batted his big brown eyes at me and said, "You said when making me yunch you not mad at me anymore."  Adorable. 

He pronounces toy "foy," so we were working on that today.  All of a sudden he covered his eyes and said, "No talk so loud at me!"  I must have been yelling in his face.  Poor thing!  But he was able to finally get the correct pronunciation!

And the best of all:  While we were at Safeway, a dad with a baby in a front carrier walked by and Sambo made reference to them.  I always try to convince him he's my baby, so I asked him, "Where's my baby?"  He said, "You not have one.  Heavenly Father say babies too expensive."  I literally laughed out loud there in the checkout line.  I asked him who taught him that, but he said nobody.  At first.  I asked him if daddy taught him that, and he meekly said, "Yes."

Daddy is busted.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Summit

The beginning of our hike.

This summer G had a meeting in Bend, so we all tagged along for the weekend.  Saturday after G's meeting we decided to visit Smith Rock, famous for it's gorgeous scenery and amazing rock climbing.  We planned to take a short little hike to look for mountain climbers.  We thought the boys would enjoy watching them.  It was hot -- around 90 degrees -- and there was signage at the entrance reminding hikers to pack water.  We weren't planning on really "hiking," but at the last minute I returned to the car to get a couple more water bottles so we'd each have one.  Boy am I glad I did!  As it was, we still had to seriously ration our water and could have used quite a bit more. 

Taking a water break

After we got started with our hike, we were enjoying ourselves so much we decided to complete a loop.  We knew it was just over 3 miles, but we didn't realize how hot and strenuous it would be.  The loop -- with plenty of stops for water and a break to wade in the river -- took us four hours.  The middle had steep switchbacks.  And the end was steep downhill with a dangerous cliff to the side, which really scared me.  I was really stressed making sure the boys stayed safe considering one of our boys walks on the wild side and the other one is only three years old.

But we made it safe and sound and we actually had a really great time.  It was a really fun bonding experience for our family.  There is something about working hard as a family that builds character and creates memories.  (I'm sounding suspiciously like my parents here.)
Another break.  Notice how red-faced and sweaty the boys are. 
  
I already knew this, but I enjoyed seeing how strong and brave our boys are.  Buddy was wearing flip flops because he forgot to pack his socks.  He didn't seem to mind.  And the kids had very little sleep the night before: going to bed at 10:30 and getting up at 6:30 with the sun in their eyes.  They had swam already that morning for two hours at the pool.  But as I've assumed for years: nothing exhausts Buddy.  In fact, not only did he not complain, but he actually begged us to go faster and any chance he got, he scurried up and down the rocks on the side of the trail like a little jackrabbit.  He took at least twice as many steps as the rest of us.  At one point Buddy was scrambling around (looking for rattlesnakes) and started to slide off the trail.  He slid a few feet and luckily his fall was arrested by a sagebrush.  It was actually pretty scary, especially since I had seen a similar story on the news earlier that week of a boy not quite so fortunate.

 The summit!  The famous "monkey face" rock in the to the left.

Buddy spent the entire time looking for wildlife.  At one point he caught a lizard which latched onto his finger and bit him.  We weren't sure if it was dangerous  or not, and it wasn't letting go on it's own, so we shouted for Buddy pull it off and drop it.  He was mad at us the rest of the time for making him lose his "pet" lizard. 

Sambo did fabulous as well.  He didn't complain either.  The closest he came to whining was informing us "This is a really bad idea!" or that he didn't "want to come here ever again!" anytime the walk would get especially steep.  But he is a trooper and made it the entire way without being carried.

One thing about this hike was how beautiful the rocks and scenery were all along the way.  It made the hike especially rewarding that around each switchback was another gorgeous view.

On the car ride home Buddy took a poll, asking by the show of hands, who was proud of themselves.  We all raised our hands.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Read This

I wish I was the kind of person that could write like this.  Please make reading this article a priority.  I'm really glad I ran across this today, especially since these are ideas that have been spinning around in my head for a couple of weeks now.  Profound. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Achieving Summer Goals

If you don't like bragging posts, don't read on.  We have very little to brag about -- and quite frankly, very little good news lately, so I'm going for the gusto with this post.  

My family is the coolest.  Seriously.  We met our reading goal of reading 10,000 pages this summer.  The official page count was:  10,283 pages between the three of us from June through August.  I hope you are as proud as we are! 

G is a speed reader and Buddy is an exceptional reader.  I've never been much of a reader, although I've always liked it alright.  Plus I have some weird thing where my eyes don't track properly so I read really slowly, which is annoying and in the past has been a turnoff to me reading anything long.  However, my sister and mom are always telling me about great books and Buddy is so enthusiastic... I decided I needed to rise to the good reading I was always encouraging Buddy to do.  In the last couple of years I've been reading as much as possible, but this summer we ramped it up to a whole new level.  It was so exciting to talk about our respective books with each other as a family and to choose reading over TV, housework, or even sleep.  I hope we've all officially established a life-long habit of reading good books. 


Our reward is going to a fun pizza place as a family to eat and play games.  That will be scheduled soon.  Plus we'll also take the kids to pick out a new book, which is a huge thrill for Buddy. 

Unfortunately, I'm the only one that kept track of the books I read.  Next year we'll be better about that.  Still, we covered a lot of ground between the three of us and can make all sorts of book recommendations now!  Here are the dets:

G won (surprise, surprise):
3943 pages read
Completed 10 books with 2 more in progress.

Buddy came in second:
3328 pages read
Completed 17 books with 2 more in progress.

I came in third:
3012 pages read
Completed 9 books with 3 more in progress.


And in case anyone cares, G also won our $20 prize for all three months for our other summer challenge.  (He bought Rockband 3, Rockband songs, and a laminator with his prize money.)  Him winning really makes me mad, so I'm never doing that contest with him again.  Although, I have to say focusing our time and energies this summer on exercise, service, scriptures, learning, reading, and work was a brilliant idea if I do say so myself.  It gave purpose to each day and and helped us focus on things that really matter to us as a family.  We hope to keep up the good habits we established as we start a new school year, particularly our habit of doing service every day for someone outside our family. 


Today the boys and I went to Oaks Park, an amusement park in Portland, to reward Buddy for good behavior, as part of a new discipline program we started.  We had such a good time.  Both kids are brave and LOVE the exhileration of adrenaline, so they both loved it.  The weather was perfect and the kids were having fun, so we stayed all day.  Buddy was a little too small to ride all the biggest rides and Sambo was a little too small to ride the big kid rides, but they still had fun.  Buddy was still able to ride some of the "intermediate" rides, like the Octopus, that old school ride with the cages, and his favorite, The Eruption.  The boys both loved the rollercoaster best.  Buddy is counting down the days now until he can he is tall enough to ride everything!

We got our pass to the amusement park for doing the summer reading program through the library.  The ride bracelet allowed the boys to rollerskate as well.  We only had 20 minutes to rollerskate before it closed, but they both had a lot of fun.  True to each boys personalities, Sambo cried and was unwilling to try after he fell down a few minutes into starting.  But once he regained his motivation, he did amazing, considering he was the smallest child I saw there.  And Buddy struggled to stay up, but never once stopped trying.  By the end of the 20 minutes he was dripping with sweat and was so sad the time was up.  It was absolutely hilarious watching them.  I couldn't stop laughing!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

We Should Be in a Marching Band

This has become the summer of parades.  As it turns out, we've been in three and watched one this summer -- all for different causes.

My dad suggested we register to walk the parade route for the Grand Floral Parade during the Rose Festival.  If we paid the entry fee (which benefited a center for grieving children), then walked the 4-mile parade route just ahead of the actual parade, we got reserved seats to watch the parade when we finished.  It was a great suggestion and we had a lot of fun doing it with my parents and my brother and his family.  I hope we do it again!

Darling cousins before our walk started.  

 Getting ready to walk the parade route.

 Here we are walking the parade route.  People line the streets early to stake out good spots for the parade so we had "spectators" the whole way.

 Watching the Grand Floral Parade after our walk.

Then in July Sambo's birthmother's mom invited us to walk with her in our town's parade.  She is the Oregon Mother of the Year, so she has been spending the year speaking to groups and making appearances to spread the word about the honor and dignity of motherhood.  G and Buddy sat in the crowd and waved as we walked by.  I walked with Sambo's birthmom and he got to ride in the car and wave at the crowd.  As you can imagine, I got lots of questions about our association with the Mother of the Year, but as you now, I'm always happy to talk adoption!


 Here Sambo is with his birth grandma, Oregon's 2011 mother of the year!

 Buddy and James after the parade holding their haul.  Buddy opted to "watch" the parade rather than participate so he could collect candy.  Smart kid!

This past week we joined a parade to kick off the county fair.  We walked with a few members of our adoption support group.  It's a fun tradition we started a few years ago and I hope we keep it up.  The parade route is short and it's fun to wear our adoption shirts and throw candy.  And then for participating, we get into the fair for free.  My mom joined us and we spent the entire day at the fair.  The weather was perfect, so we took our time wandering around, hanging out listening to music, looking at the animals, eating popcorn and snowcones, and getting free stickers and flyers from the various booths.  The ladies at the "right to life" booth got a HUGE kick out of our adoption shirts, to say the least.  I think we made those women's day/life.

 Me and the boys before the parade.  Notice the boys' sweet new adoption shirts.  Too bad you can't see mine.

 Here is our little group, minus my mom and the girl taking the picture. 

We also watched the 4th of July parade in my parents town.  I LOVE this parade, since I grew up going every year.  And we've gone every year that we've lived her since finishing at BYU (bless G's heart for being a good sport.)  However, after having watched the Grand Floral Parade a few weeks prior, my kids weren't as thrilled as me by the one-float-parade.  When the motorcycle cop finished the parade, Buddy shouted, "Yay!  The parade is about to start!"  We felt bad telling him, sorry, that was actually the end.

Here we are enjoying the parade.  My parents ward was the only "float" in the whole parade. 

G wanted me to point out that they always play "Louis, Louis" at parades.  Anyone know why that is?  Since we are now parade experts, we should know!