Friday, December 21, 2012

I Can't Believe This Is My Life


I'm a mother of THREE BOYS.  I'll write the whole story later, but for now, enjoy a picture of our big boys meeting their baby brother for the first time.  Our newest baby boy was born Friday, December 14th and we brought him home Sunday.  His arrival in the midst of national tragedy and mourning reminds me that God is good and miracles still happen.  So many people have called and emailed and texted to tell me (with tears in their eyes) that his arrival has been the only good thing to happen lately.  

It's true.  Raising children and keeping them safe and feeling loved is so incredibly overwhelming.  Nobody has any good news.  It's always more pain and suffering all the time.  And just when we had just about lost all hope, he came.  We got a Christmas miracle for the third time.  I've been trying to hold him as much as possible and enjoy this holiday season for what it is -- a celebration of the first Christmas miracle, Jesus' Birth.  I've been trying to chase away worry and doubt about the future with feelings of peace.  Because I have truly never been this happy in my entire life.  I wish I could bottle this joy up and keep him little forever.  This is such a good life I have.  I'm so thankful. 

Merry Christmas everyone!  We will share lots more details later. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Music Lover


If you read this blog you already know that G is a huge music lover.  He owns more tapes, CD's and songs on iTunes than any other person I know.

Well it turns out, we've groomed Buddy into a music lover as well.  He's always listened to a lot of music since he was a baby, but lately it's become an obsession.  He wanted a radio and an iPod for his birthday.  We got him a cheap clock radio with an iPod jack for his birthday.  G has an old iPod, so we let him borrow that.  He now no longer wants to spend any time with the family.  He loves to sit on his bed and read books or build legos and listen to music.  He is so his father's son!

It's really funny because G and I listen to all sorts of music too and are totally "up" on what's cool and what's not.  We are pretty open-minded to music and listen to quite a variety.  But we must have a tween in the works because he does not appreciate most of "our" music.  I keep wondering when my music became lame.  ?????
  • We put Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" on his playlist and he asked for it to be taken off.  He does not like "old fashioned music" from when we were kids.
  • He can spot an alternative song from the 90's immediately and he does not enjoy it.  I guess it's a right of passage -- being disgusted by music from your parents' generation.  I've tried in vain to get him to appreciate U2, REM, Nirvana, and Cranberries to no avail.   
  • G and I like some country -- mostly some of the more popular stuff like Taylor Swift, Zac Brown, Carrie Underwood, and Brad Paisley.  Buddy does not, and informed me he wishes country "was never invented."  And asked me why whenever he's riding in the car, I keep my finger near the button for the country station.
  • He also hates Christmas music except for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Carol of the Bells."
  • He said making him listen to soft rock (which I don't listen to) would be the worst punishment in the world.
  •  He keeps a running list of songs he would like added to his playlist.  And is willing to use his own funds to pay for them.  Lucky for him, his father and mother already have all the popular songs on their playlists.
  • On our roadtrip a few weeks ago we were listening to Les Miserables to get us ready for the movie coming out soon.  (G is also reading the book.)  After a few hours of listening to the soundtrack/listening to Buddy complain, Buddy asked, "Do we have anything else to listen to besides Lame-Miserables?"  We thought that was pretty clever.  Even if he has turned into a smart-a$$.  
  • For some reason iTunes classified Josh Groban as "Pop."  This put him into a tailspin and really freaked him out.  He did not stop talking about this atrocity until we threatened to ground him from his radio if he brought it up again.
  •  G made some classical and church music playlists that he has not yet listened to.  He would rather listen to nothing than listen to classical while doing his homework. This surprises us considering how much he enjoys playing classical music on the piano.  We're hoping he comes around on this issue.  
  • Buddy frequently asks me to help him look up information online about different bands.  He wanted to know how old One Direction and The Wanted are.  In doing some research, we ran across a song by the Wanted that I had never heard before.  He quickly recognized it from "Ice Age 4."  I doubted that could be true, so we looked further into it.  Turns out, he was right.  He heard a song once six months ago and remembered it.  Would you agree that's pretty impressive?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nine Years


Our oldest turned nine a couple weeks ago.  He is such a great kid.  We love him so, so much.  He has given us a ton of parenting experience and really challenged our patience, stamina, and creativity as parents.  But he's got so much charisma and charm, so every day and every experience has been more than worth it.  I can't imagine or even remember life pre-Buddy. 

He wants a pet desperately.  This is his friend's lizard, Spike.  Spike lives in Utah and right before our visit at Thanksgiving he turned up missing.  He was missing for over a week.  Buddy prayed he's be found and he was!  He was SO happy to see him during our visit. 

A bit blurry, but this is his normal craziness.  Turning his eyelids inside out and picking his nose.  No biggie.

Buddy has so many talents it's actually unfair!  Here are a few:
  • He is an amazing and loyal friend.  Everybody loves him.  But what's even better, in my opinion, is that he loves everybody.  He treats everyone well:  from his grandparents to babies, from his brother to his friends' parents, from his piano teacher to the crossing guards at school.  He compliments freely and is so kind.  Apparently he told one of the crossing guards today that he is sorry she has to stand out in the cold and rain every morning.  Now mind you, we drive to school so he has never once used her assistance crossing the street.  But he noticed her out there and felt sorry for her and told her so.
  • He has the patience of Job.  He puts up with his brother (who can be rather annoying).  If I'm being fair, he also puts up with me and my crankiness and impatience.  Thank goodness for his patience because I have none!  He knows that about me, but he still likes me.
  • He is still an avid reader.  His great example has rubbed off on his brother, who will also be an avid reader, I'm sure. 
  • His piano teacher tells him every week she wishes she had 10 piano students just like him.  She also told him that he has learned more in 11 months than most kids do in a few years.  He is a very hard worker and practices diligently every single day.  
  • He is an excellent communicator.  He says just what he means and isn't afraid to share his feelings.  He also writes really well and has been writing some really imaginative and detailed stories lately.
  • He draws well.  He especially loves to draw dinosaurs.
  • He is great at science and easily memorizes and remembers facts about animals in particular.  Pretty much every subject at school comes easily.  He has been learning a lot about geography and is fascinated by countries lately.  And he started learning basic geometry at school and keeps using different geometry phrases or concepts in regular conversation.  Yesterday he told me he loves me like a ray
  • He has a very quick wit and says funny things daily.  Hourly actually.  
  • He has a strict moral compass and keeps us all in line.  He doesn't allow bad words, or any inappropriate-anything in our home or in his life. 
  • He loves music and knows lyrics and artists to a ton of music.  He is so much like his father in that way. 
  • He knows how to engage a baby and keep their attention for hours.  All the young cousins love him.  All the babies at church love him.
  • His incredible good looks.  I'm not kidding we are in serious trouble about this.

We broke down and got him the Lego set he really, really wanted for his Birthday.  He also got a nasty gummy snake, a book from Sambo, and a radio with an iPod connector for his room.  He has not stopped borrowing our iPods since. 

Buddy has grown up so much lately.  He has been wanting more privacy.  He loves to sit in his room and listen to music.  It's so strange to see this happening because he's never been one to want to be alone.  He has also been trying really hard to overcome some of his weaknesses.  He does not give up and is really wants to be his best self.  He has been working really hard on learning to be responsible and has surprised us recently with how mature he is getting.  We never thought the day would come when he would remember what day it is.  But it's happening!  He has also been trying to manage his anxiety and has done such a good job lately.  We are really proud of how he does not give up.  It's really awesome being the parent of an older child.  


We had a party with his friends to celebrate his birthday.  He wanted to watch a movie and play a few games, have pizza and ice cream sundaes.  He made his friend list and agreed his brother could also invite two friends.  Then he chose his movie.  The trouble was, the movie he chose was PG-13 and he knew one of his friends can't watch PG-13 movies.  So after wringing his hands about how to handle it, he decided to choose another movie.  He didn't make a big deal about it, or even try to justify to his friend that the PG-13 movie is totally "appropriate."  He respected his friend and made a decision that would make everyone feel comfortable.  I was really proud, especially because I'm not sure I would have been as sensitive as he was.


So at the party we played a balloon game, ate donuts off a string, played a couple other simple games, and watched "Jumanji."  We had 12 boys in total, including my two.  They were so fun and funny but boy howdy were they loud and there was quite a bit of rough-housing going on.  I'm totally fine with rough-housing -- but the noise volume. Oh man alive.  I'm not even kidding.  Next time I have a party with boys I'm wearing earplugs.  My ears were still ringing the next day.  But they had fun, and that was the point. 

All the boys eating pizza.  


We're halfway to raising Buddy to adulthood.  That is so crazy!!!!  A year ago I was super sad about how fast he was growing up, but now that he's dabbling in independence, I am starting to get really excited about his future.  (Having a built-in babysitter!  YES!!!!!)  He was the WORLD'S most hyper toddler. I never thought we'd survive that stage (that stretched on for 7 years).  But I can see all that energy being put to great use lately and it's just so exciting.  He really does have a bright future.  I am so thankful he is my boy.  I am so lucky. 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Polar Express


My parents took us and my brother's family on the Polar Express to the North Pole for a Christmas present.  They planned everything and we just showed up which was so nice!  Plus my parents had gift bags full of treats for all of us to enjoy on the ride.  I'm not sure who had more fun, me, or the kids!  I would highly recommend this activity.  It put me right into the Christmas spirit. The only thing that would have made it better was to have my sister and her family with us. 



We took a 90-minute train ride and the entire experience was just like the book.  They even read the book on the train and my dad had brought a copy, so we could read along.  At the halfway point, they slowed the train as we passed through the North Pole so we could see Santa waving and so we could see his reindeer grazing.  As we rode by Santa, Buddy said, "I sure feel sorry for that poor guy standing out there in the cold and rain."  Ironically, we had just finished reading the book -- the entire point being that we have to keep believing.  I literally couldn't stop laughing for awhile.  As excited as Buddy was to be having this experience, he couldn't get past the logic (per usual).


All the cousins love Buddy.  I love this picture.  

In addition, the conductor punched their golden tickets, elves walked the aisles of the train, they passed out hot chocolate and a cookie.  Santa visited with each child and gave them a magic bell.  It was really cool. 

Another highlight was when Sambo told the Elf he wanted a "ballerina" and Legos for Christmas.  We all laughed and laughed and teased him a little.  (Don't worry, he knows we love him and accept him, and support him no matter what he likes.)  When I started asking questions (because if Santa is going to learn about the ballerina, Santa better deliver) we felt sort of sheepish when we realized he  had actually said "Battle Arena."


Even Buddy sat on Santa's lap! 

Then after the train ride we went to dinner.  After dinner G went to the counter and tried to buy two gourmet donuts.  But the cashier gave them to him for FREE.  Are you kidding me?  I love donuts and a free donut is just about the best thing ever. And it turns out the donut was the best I've ever had in my life.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Adoption Month

PLEASE watch this video.  It's only a minute long. 

I can't let "National Adoption Month" wrap up without a comment or two.  We have had a great adoption month at our house.  Some highlights:  I presented a class and helped organize our annual adoption conference at the beginning of the month.

I had a fun lunch visit with Sambo's birthmom and family earlier this month as well.  We had a great talk over lunch about how we have all achieved the "best possible outcome" (her husband's words) through this adoption experience.  I couldn't have said it better and felt so proud and so thankful that they feel that way too.  We just love our little baby boy (our 5-year old baby) so much and what an honor to know they love us too.  We're planning another visit/birthday party for Sambo in the next few days.  Every time we see her my heart nearly bursts.  Sambo came from a wonderful soul.  He is just like her all the way from their big sparkly brown eyes to their joy from simple things.


Last week we were in Utah for Thanksgiving and had the great privilege of hanging out with Buddy's birthmom twice.  We happened to be there on his and her birthdays, so we had a party for each of them.  Several months ago when Buddy learned we'd be in Utah on his birthday, he suggested we go to the dinosaur museum with his birthmom for his birthday.  I offered to text her to line it up, but he suggested he call her right then to ask her about it.  He had never called her before, so imagine her surprise to get a call from him asking her to hang out with him on his birthday.  I love that he is now old enough to call the shots in his open adoption.


So that's what we did.  We went to the museum then had lunch.  Her sister and nephews came too.  Buddy and his birth-cousins are so much alike, it's just mind blowing.  I have a strong feeling they will be lifelong friends and probably roommates at BYU one day.  I seriously have never seen him so blissfully happy as he was talking to his little friend about dinosaurs and animals and all things science-related.


A few days later was her birthday, so her wonderful husband organized a birthday party for the two of them at their new house.  All of her siblings, their children, her parents, and a friend, all came to see us.  Plus this time G's parents and two sisters came too to meet everyone.  We've had parties like this with them several other times, but they keep getting better.  Buddy is his very best self.  He's confident and funny and walks around like he owns the place.  His birth family worships the ground he walks on.  And he feels the same way about them.  He is gracious, and shows off, and asks for what he wants without shame, and says what he feels.  They treat him like gold.  Truly, it's the way all children should be treated.

Notice the cake!

Apparently while at their house, Buddy asked his birthmom why her daughter didn't have a picture of HIM in her room.  I was not aware of this until i got a text about it today.  A picture text of a picture of him now in her room.  The point is, Buddy feels so confident in his role in their life that he can ask anything.  Just as his birthmom doesn't want to be forgotten in our home, he doesn't want to be forgotten in theirs.  Yet most adoptees do not have that reassurance that they were/are wanted, thought about and prayed for.  I am so glad both my boys know.  And when in doubt, they feel comfortable asking. 

I had a friend say it this way:  there is my side of the family, my husband's side of the family, and each child's side of the family.  That's exactly what this is and it's really great.  Just more people to love and be loved by.

I just typed 5 different sentences trying to articulate how awesome this is, and there really are no words.  None of us could have predicted this.  When we met Buddy's birthmom more than 9 years ago, we weren't allowed to tell her which suburb we lived in or what our last names were.  My how things have changed.  These open adoptions are the greatest blessing of my life.  G and I keep saying, "Can you believe this is our life?  All this love for our children.  We didn't know love like this existed."  Buddy's birthgrandma commented on a facebook picture of our visit and articulated it the best, "Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles."  That's what our relationship is. 

I am so thankful and happy to have two wonderful birthmoms in my life.  My two brave partners in motherhood. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Give Thanks

 Click to Enlarge

I'm not much for visiting teaching.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I don't really like going, and I always hope I have visiting teachers that won't come visit me.  But I've been having a few experiences lately that are slowly but surely converting me to how wonderful it can be.

Today my visiting teachers came.  I'm not the type that really needs anything and I'd never ask for help, even if I did.  But in recent years I've had various visiting teachers that think outside the box to help make my life easier or better.  My previous visiting teachers took a serious interest in my kids.  They both were extremely influential in helping Noah get ready for baptism and feel comfortable in Primary.

Right now one is a talented graphic designer.  The other is a talented baker.  They both use their skills professionally.  The baker brings me treats all the time.  And today the graphic designer showed up with the supplies to make a "Give Thanks" banner for my mantle.  She suggested we sit around the table and assemble it together.  So that's what we did.  And before she left she hung it up for me and we all stood there and admired it.  The whole experience felt good. 

Yesterday when I was running I was thinking about how much I have to be grateful for.  I think I'm a naturally grateful (and blessed) person, so I don't wait around until this time of year to reflect.  But still, as I was running along the sidewalk by Buddy's school, enjoying the beautiful weather... leaves on the ground, colorful trees all around, flowers and shrubs still in bloom, it made me really pause.  I live in a beautiful world, I have a healthy body, I have a loving and hilarious family, I have a testimony of Jesus Christ.  I have everything.

I'm not going to lie, it helps that my kids have been easy lately.  G has a great job and he works hard to provide for our family.  We all have good health.  I have friends that are supportive and like me even when I'm lame.  We live in a particularly beautiful part of the world.  Our house is warm and safe.  I have had experiences all through my life, but especially lately that have revealed God's hand in my life.  We have a temple nearby.  We have birthmothers that continue to give love and support over and over again.  We have plenty of food.  We have health insurance.  We have the Internet.  We have access to excellent education.  I have a comfy bed.  Our cars run well.

These things all make life easy and require me to sacrifice very little.  It's easy to give thanks when I have abundance in all areas of my life.  But I've been learning that even if I didn't have some of those thins, or any of those things, I can still be happy.  Happiness -- and gratitude -- can't be dependent on things that can easily come and go.  I control my happiness!  It's such a new way of looking at my life.  Especially because I can tell you that I'm a lot happier now than when we were so poor we couldn't afford food or heat.  Or when I broke my foot and couldn't exercise for months.  Or when we didn't have kids.  Or when I didn't have close friends.

It's so much easier to be happy when you have it all.  But I want to be the kind of person that is happy no matter what I have.  The kind of person who receives all I need from the atonement of Jesus Christ.  It seems so cliche, really, but it works.  And I also think it's fitting that we celebrate Christmas a few weeks after Thanksgiving.  So we can give thanks for all we have, and rest in Him for everything we don't have.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween-8 Days Late

I can't let the Halloween season get too far gone without posting some pictures.  My kids LOVE Halloween.  I'm not such a fan myself (besides the candy), but since they love it, I make an effort and go with the flow.  Buddy loves it more than Christmas, so that's saying something.

This year the kids carved their own pumpkins.  We figured Buddy was old enough to do his own, since neither G or I really enjoy it.  But then Sambo wants to do whatever his brother does, so he did his own too.  We used patterns we found online.  We were really impressed Buddy could manage. But we were REALLY amazed at Sambo's fine motor skills.  His hands were made to create, I'll tell you what.  We helped him ever so slightly, but mostly he did it himself.

Then since me and G were just sitting around and we had extra pumpkins on hand, we decided to carve some too.  Talk about ironic. 

From left:  Buddy (age 8)-Skeleton, Sambo (age 4)-Bat, M-Grim "Creeper" (this name annoyed the crap out of Buddy), G-Spider

This year Buddy was a grim reaper at school.  And for trick-or-treating he was a zombie.  He made his costume and did his makeup himself.

Sambo had the idea of being a bad guy from Tron Legacy.  We researched costumes online but they weren't very cool.  So after some discussions and a brilliant suggestion by Sambo, we decided glow sticks attached to black clothes would be awesome.  We bought a ton of glow sticks and before going to Buddy's school Halloween party, we hot-glued them to his outfit.  G had warned me hot glue was NOT going to work, but I refused to listen.  Before we even got out of the car at school the glow sticks had all fallen off.  It was really sad and Sambo was extremely disappointed. But it was  good learning experience to trust my husband, and that we would need better adhesive for trick-or-treating.

So we headed back to the store and bought a million more glow sticks and used packing tape instead to attach them.  He looked SO awesome.  We got several compliments out trick-or-treating that it was the coolest costume of the night.

And the best part:  no rain.  It poured all day, but cleared up for the big night out.  This is the 8th year in a row (that I've been keeping track) we've had dry weather on Halloween. And it was warm too. 

 Are these kids awesome, or what?!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Never A Dull Moment

If you read my blog you know I HATE creatures and that includes any and all critters which includes any and all pets (sorry).  But most of all, I hate snakes and mice.  I am absolutely terrified of them.  While looking in the silverware drawer the other day I saw some small brown matter.  There were only a few of them, but I panicked.  I sent G to the computer to google "mouse droppings" and paced around the kitchen while he investigated.  Sure enough, we had mice/mouse.

I can't even express the panic that set it.  Luckily it was a Saturday so G could help me.  But unfortunately, it was a Saturday so we couldn't call an exterminator that minute.  I immediately began washing and sanitizing.  Over the next few days I scrubbed every square inch of my kitchen and washed every single dish.  We only found a small number of droppings in two drawers, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.  I couldn't think about anything else until I was sure there were no more.

That Tuesday we paid a guy an obscene dollar amount to come set traps and bait stations.  (My peace of mind is worth a lot.)  After he left, I had Sambo in the garage using the shop vac to clean up debris and leaves that had blown in.  All of a sudden, Sambo came running in the house telling me there was a dead mouse on the shop vac.  So it was confirmed -- we have mice!  I was both disturbed and relieved that maybe our rogue mouse was dead.  Apparently he died on his own and not because of the exterminator, which just figures.  Since then we haven't seen anything.  But the exterminator will be back to check things out in a few weeks to be sure.

It's a little surprising we haven't ever had mice in the house before, considering our two houses have both backed to a field.  I'm hoping it never happens again. 

* * *

Here are a few recent conversations with the kids.  

Buddy suggested a "section for fat people" in the Costco food court. He doesn't like that the benches are so deep from the tables there at the food court.  After looking around and noticing most everybody was obese, he made this suggestion.  (I know this is rude -- and we told him so -- but is he not right????!)

Sambo calls homeless people "cavemen."  He has made the mistake now three times.  Last winter we did a service project with several friends making kits to hand out to the homeless.  Now that the weather has turned rainy, he keeps asking me when we're going to pass out bags to the cavemen again.  When I told him we'll be doing it soon, he suggested we give them a house "because that's what they really need."

Buddy spent a few years talking about "juvi" all the time.  "I have to sit in my carseat otherwise I'm going to juvi."  Now that he's grown out of that phase, Sambo is saying stuff like that.  Is it just my kids?  Or are all 5-year olds talking about juvenile detention?

Sambo is now insisting we call him by different names.  It was "Cracker" last week.  But if you called him "Cracker Jack" he got mad.  Just Cracker.  This week it's "Bob the Builder."  He doesn't even watch or like Bob the Builder.  ???? This child insists on controlling the family and will do anything to accomplish that goal.  At least this one isn't too disruptive.

We are still hoping to adopt and have had some serious ups and downs related to adoption lately.  The kids have been praying constantly for a baby.  Sambo's prayer at dinner the other night was especially cute. "Please bless that your daughter makes a baby to give to us."

I love Presidential Election time.  I love the debates, the drama of people sharing their political beliefs on facebook, watching the coverage on CNN while at the gym.  I just love it all.  I might feel differently if we lived in a state that was undecided, but Oregon decided their president 4 years ago.  But I still enjoy all the drama.  It's like a current events soap opera -- which combine all my favorite things.  In fact, Buddy came home from school with Time for Kids lately. I guess his class reads it and he enjoys it so much he actually reads them and saves them.  His teacher knows he likes them, so she gave him a couple random magazines she had leftover from this summer.  I couldn't be more thrilled.

Sambo enjoys looking at "Where's Waldo" books but he calls it "Where's Weirdo." And he's not saying that to be funny. 

Buddy's school has called three times in less than two weeks because he's gotten hurt at recess.  I asked the lady to please tell me my child isn't the only one that gets hurt every day at recess.  She nervously laughed and basically said "He is an active one, that's for sure."  But she tried to smooth things over to say she just adores him because he's always so grateful for her icepacks and he always thanks her profusely for patching him up.  An important note:  Buddy has told me all the rules they have at recess, so the fact he STILL gets hurt baffles me. 

Buddy told me I was "skinny for my age."  Nicest compliment I've ever received.

On the way to school this morning Sambo was telling Buddy he likes the part of the Madagascar movie when the "chickmunk" chased the "walking shark" into the hot lava.  Buddy corrected him, "It's not a chipmunk.  It's an aye-aye which is similar to a marsupial, lemur, and monkey."  I was extremely amused by this since I've never even heard of that animal.  Note:  It took me 10 minutes of googling to figure out how to spell it. And I'm really glad I don't live in Madagascar because that thing is CREEPY and having that thing come into my house would do me in. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Christmas List

Last week the Lego store at the mall hosted a really fun event.  They had an outline of the USA on the floor and kids or adults could make a U.S. landmark to add to the grid.  Sambo made a spaceship and Buddy made a river with a salmon. I wish I would have gone back at the end of the 3-day event to see the final product.  It was really cool already when we were there at the beginning.

For the past 9 months or so, every time Sambo sees something at a store he CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT, I tell him to "put it on your Christmas list."  It's sort of unfortunate that both of the boys have birthdays near Christmas because the poor children have to wait all year for anything.  Unfortunately, Sambo doesn't know how to write and I'm not usually really listening when he talks incessantly about what he wants while we're shopping. 

Well today he confronted me.  He asked me where his Christmas list was.  I told him I lost it.  But he totally called me out and accused me of not writing anything down.  So I had him grab a piece of paper and we started the list.

After telling him that he is asking for too many Lego sets for Christmas (18 to be exact) -- and that Santa will think he's greedy -- he informed me, "You don't control Santa.  He can do whatever he wants."  

Here is what is on the list so far.  Knowing him, I'm sure there will be MUCH more added in the coming days. Unfortunately this doesn't really give me much to work with, considering I'm not buying him 95% of what's on this list.

Sambo's Christmas List:
  • Camera
  • Remote-Control Train
  • Hello Kitty Mini Fridge
  • Slushee Maker
  • Dad's Remote Control Car
  • Gun
  • Circle Gum
  • Kid Computer
  • A Real Ipod
  • And we narrowed the Lego list to: Batcave, Speeda Demon, Republic Striker-Class Starfighter, Ultra Sonic Radar
While he and I were looking through the Lego catalog, I noticed Buddy had written me a note on the Ninjago page of the catalog that said, "No Ninjago's, OK mom!"  He has been wanting a Ninjago Lego boat for months and has even tried saving for it.  He said if he couldn't save up enough he wanted it for his birthday, which is in a couple of weeks.  But at the Lego store last week he saw other things he apparently likes better, so he told me about them. I kept telling him, you are sure you don't still want the boat?  You've wanted the boat forever!  Apparently he didn't trust I understood.  Hence the note in the catalog. 

Related:  We will be doing a lot of talking about giving this holiday season so my kids understand the true meaning of the holiday.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Is It Just Me?

....Because I find these pictures hilarious!  G just recently found these and emailed them to me.  I can't stop laughing.

G, age 3 (we assume)

G and me before we even got engaged.  Hanging out at his house in Reno.  This was 15 years ago!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Zoo Trip

Thursday was the last sunny day of the year, so I decided to do a little outing with the boys after school.  I suggested either a pumpkin patch or the zoo.  We went to the zoo less than two weeks ago, but Buddy loves it so he strongly voted for that option.  So that's what we did.  Not surprisingly, nobody was there.  Nobody was there the other week we went either.  In fact, nobody is ever there when we go late in the afternoon.  It's so nice because we can stand around for as long as the kids want to watch the animals without being rushed by other kids that want to get up close too.  The animals must know when the crowds are light because they were all out and very active.  Buddy was so excited to be there.  He was frantic -- like it was the first time he had ever been to the zoo.  He looooooooves animals. 

We hung out in the otter and beaver area for about 40 minutes. First, Buddy realized that the river otter was willing to play with him, so for ten minutes he ran back and forth as fast as he could racing the otter.  When Buddy would stop running the otter would stop swimming.  It was interesting because sometimes the otter would show off and do a flip and Buddy would win.  Other times the otter would swim quickly and beat Buddy.  Sambo thought this was hilarious (and actually thanked God for helping Buddy think of this fun 'game' when he said his prayers later that night).  A few people wandering through the exhibit stopped to watch.  I couldn't tell if they were amused or perplexed over this kid running back and forth in front of the glass.  

Sidenote:  G is really mad I don't have a smart phone so I could have recorded this game.  It's true, it probably would have went viral like the video of the lion trying to attack a baby through the glass at this same zoo. 

While we were in that area, Buddy struck up a conversation with a 65-ish year old man there by himself.  After their conversation droned on for awhile, I texted G telling him I really hope Buddy gets married and has kids someday so he doesn't have to go to the zoo by himself to talk to random kids about animals.  Buddy and the man discussed beavers then frogs for 30 minutes.  It was slightly creepy, but I was standing there the whole time, so I wasn't really worried.  It was more awkward, I guess you'd say.  After we finally ditched him, we ran into him again at the monkeys and even Buddy mentioned he was tired of talking to him, which is saying something.  I had no idea Buddy ever could tire of talking about animals.

While in the monkeys we watched a male and female monkey hugging and kissing each other.  Buddy was convinced they were mating.  I told him they weren't, but he couldn't be convinced.  Later that night when Sambo was telling daddy about this he kept saying how "cute it is when monkeys mate."  I asked him if he knew what that meant.  He said yes, it's when they have babies.  Fortunately/unfortunately my kids know way to much about this topic, thanks to their interest in the life cycle of animals.

Slightly related:  Whenever we go to the bats exhibit I have to stand just outside because I'm terrified of them.  As the kids were walking out to rejoin me Buddy said, "I don't know why you are scared of bats. They are actually really cute.  Haven't you ever been on a romantic date with dad, or your high school boyfriend, what's his name, R***?  And didn't you see birds flying around in the night sky? Well those are actually bats and not birds."

The one complaint I have about the zoo is they make the railings too high for little kids to see over, so my kids always climb up to see.  As Buddy was climbing over the fence to the bear habitat which had a bear wandering around 15 feet from the railing Buddy said, "I'm really glad they tame these black bears."

Monday, October 8, 2012


Another craptastic week/month.  But there were a few good things from the past few days:

  • Glorious fall weather.  We've had temps in the mid-70's for a few weeks and it's been so nice.  I put my face in the sun every afternoon and I think that vitamin D has seriously prevented the loony bin.
  • How much joy Halloween decorations bring my boys.  They LOVE everything about Halloween and have taken great care to make our front porch the scariest on the street.
  • The candy bouquet that appeared on my porch today.  (thank you)
  • Speaking of candy.  The large amounts of candy, caffeine, hamburgers, and pizza I've consumed in the past few weeks.  
  • Weight loss despite all the crap I've been eating.  Unfortunately, stress is the only way I lose weight, but I'll take it, I guess.
  • Our dinner conversations with the boys.  So, so funny.
  • General Conference weekend.  It couldn't have come at a better time.  Wearing my pajamas all weekend, snuggling on the couch with my family, and listening to uplifting messages from inspired leaders.  Honestly, what could be better?
  • Tickets to see The Killers in a few weeks.
  • And this is probably a really bad habit, but I've been taking epic naps every Monday after dropping Buddy off to school.  Maybe it's the Monday nap that's prevented the loony bin actually.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I was born with zero creativity.  I imagine all kids are creative (besides me), but mine are especially so.  They both are "out of the box" thinkers.  I'm amazed at what they come up with on a daily basis.  Yesterday they rigged up a "water slide" in our backyard.  They've dug a 7-foot deep hole in the field behind our house and play all sorts of games out there.   

Every day Sambo usually works on some sort of "surprise" project for Buddy while Buddy is at school.  The surprises range from "look at how I did my hair today! Isn't it cool?" to a new rock to a castle out of blocks waiting on the living room floor at home.  He is super into making masks too and frequently surprises Buddy with a new one.

 Castle Surprise

 Bird Mask Surprise.  (He made this entirely by himself.)

The Tron Legacy Mask Surprise.

Sambo checked out a book from the library with all sorts crafts.  The boys love it so much we've renewed it 3 times.  Sambo saw one in there with colored water, so we rounded up some Mexican Coke bottles that we just so happened to have lying around.  We filled them with colorful water and lined them up in the kitchen window like a rainbow.  The picture below does NOT do them justice.  They are so pretty!

And I can't leave out Buddy, since he comes up with cool and crazy stuff all the time too.  He made a "Gaboon Viper" for his Raingutter Regatta boat for Scouts last week.  He designed it and besides some of the basecoat painting, did it just how he wanted it.  He also has been drawing a lot the past few months and has quite a collection of dinosaur drawings.  My friend, who is a real artist, mailed him some sketch pads a few weeks ago and he's been filling them up quickly.

Today I picked Sambo up from preschool. The teacher let me know they learned about "mice" today.  She said the kids worked on making a "mouse house."  We both laughed when she told me most of the kids made a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  But she said, "It was really funny because Sambo actually made a computer instead of a house.  He was very intent on working on it and really wants to finish it at home."  As I got in the car, it came to me.  He made a computer because he was instructed to make a mouse house.  Get it?  Computer?  Mouse?  I asked him to show me his computer he was working on.  Sure enough, in the middle of his "laptop," was a trackpad (or mousepad). 

My kids are so awesome.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 Reading Challenge

Just like last year, we did a reading challenge this summer.  Our goal was to read 10,000 combined pages in three months.  For some reason it was harder this year, but we finished just in time for a big night out as a family.  For our reward, we went to pizza, bowling, and played some arcade games.  We hadn't taken Sambo bowling before and it's been a good long while since Buddy has been.  The boys were in absolute heaven.  This is one reason I love boys.  They are so easy to please! 

The bowling was really fun.  I was the big winner with a whopping score of 85.  G had to play with his left hand "because his shoulder hurt" (from an injury roller skating with the boys a few weeks ago).  One time Sambo knocked down a bunch of pins and shouted "home run!"  I think he must have heard "strike" and assumed home run would apply to a good frame.  It was pretty funny. 

We also did the other challenge each June, July, and August that we did last summer.  We had a contest between us to see who could do the most service, exercise, reading, scriptures, "special time" with kids, and work.  In June Buddy won $20, and of course, G won the $20 in July and August.  He won every time last year and my theory is he only has to worry about himself and not the kids...
In case anyone is curious, here is a list of the books we read.  I didn't write down G's books, so he'll have to post his own in the comments.  Have you read anything good lately?  If so, let me know!

G read:  3482 pages

M read:  3176 pages
"Eat to Live" (enjoyed)
"Ramona and her Mother" (read to the kids-love this series)
"Heaven is Here" (LOVE and highly recommend)
"All There Is" (ok)
"Ramona Forever" (read to the kids)
"Forgotten Garden" (love this book)
"Power of Positive Parenting" (practical tips for dealing with frustrating kid behaviors)
"Blue Castle" (lesser known book by L.M. Montgomery)
"Drop Dead Healthy" (hilarious-highly recommend)
"Bossy Pants" (hilarious)
In progress:
Book of Mormon
"To the Rescue: Biography of Thomas S. Monson" (soooo inspiring)
"Ramona the Brave" (reading to kids)
"Crossing to Safety"
"James and the Giant Peach (reading to Sambo)

 Buddy read:  3300 pages
"Seven Day Magic"
"The Heini Prize"
"Cryptid Hunters"
"Magical Mrs. Plum"
"Death of Silas Winterbottom"
"Aunt Severe and the Dragon"
"Fablehaven #5"
"Guardians of Ga'hoole #1"
"Storm Runners Eruption"
"Magic Treehouse #1" (read to Sambo)
"Strange Case of Origami Yoda"
"Farmer Boy"
In Progress:
Doctrine & Covenants
"Origami Yoda #2"

Sambo read:  134 pages
"Bob Books 1-14"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Our Second Born

Sambo Starting Preschool 

Today is Sambo's first day of preschool.  We are doing a co-op preschool with curriculum ordered off the Internet with several friends.  I love doing this because I love being really involved in my kids' preschool.  He has been so excited to go to "school," but he's mostly excited to play with his friends and wear his backpack.    

Buddy has such a big personality that I feel like most people don't really know Sambo like we do.  Most people think he's a holy terror, which might be true.  I honestly can't decide on that one.  But he is such a perfect compliment to my personality that he rarely rattles me.  I think he's hilarious and awesome in every way.  I'm so glad he isn't in school yet every day because I sincerely enjoy having him with me.
Sambo is very creative and loves doing "crafts."  Yesterday he made this mask and breastplate out of paper plates.  He is Sam Flynn from Tron Legacy, in case you couldn't tell.  The costume is taped to his face and shirt too which is so cute, I think.

Here are some things that make him extra special.  Consequently, these might be the reasons he stresses people out.  (???)
  • He is a hypochondriac.  He LOVES being sick, getting shots, and gets genuinely jealous when other people are hurt or sick.  I finally hid our bandaids yesterday because as much as I beg and plead, he won't stop getting into them.  He is inconsolable if he thinks he has an injury or an illness and you don't address it. 
  • He takes bossy to a whole new level.  He spends his entire life correcting other kids and making sure everyone follows my rules.  Obviously I don't mind.  But other people do...
  • He also takes attention-seeking to a whole new level.  Anyone that knows him already knows, this, though.  
  • Sam is really interested in heaven and has had plenty of "good ideas" to figure out where heaven really is.  He has spent considerable time thinking this through.  A few ideas he has come up with:  "Close my eyes and pretend I'm dying.  Then when I get to heaven, I'll open my eyes and see Jesus."  Or "Get some binoculars for Christmas so I can see all the way to heaven where Jesus is." I hate disappointing my kids, but I had to explain why neither of these ideas would work. 
  • He has a foul mouth.  No, he has not gotten over this phase.  (At least I hope it's a phase.)
  • He is totally and completely obsessed with his older brother.  He brags about Buddy to all his friends, he tells the haircut lady he wants his haircut spiky like Buddy's, he tries to learn how to do everything Buddy can do, and he prepares for Buddy's return from school with "surprises" most days.  Some of the surprises have included a new frog caught in the yard, a piece of gum, a funny story, a note, or a "craft" he's worked on throughout the day.  As a result of his obsession, he can do pretty much anything Buddy can do, which is saying something considering there is a 4-year space between them.  Sambo was jealous that Buddy is allowed to swim in the "deep end" at the pool, so he taught himself to swim.  He was jealous that Buddy can read "chapter books" so he begged to learn to read.  All his friends are Buddy's friends.  He can build Lego's just as well as Buddy.  We thank our lucky stars every day that Buddy was born patient because he has no privacy.
  • Whenever Sambo writes his name on something, he always writes that he's 4 because he hates that people mistake him for being younger.  They do this because he's small and he has a speech delay.  Also, he can NOT wait to be 5 in a few months.
  • He does not mind having a speech delay.  He is totally happy with who he is.  He is confident and content with his life.  If he feels like doing something he does it, if not, he doesn't.  I LOVE this quality about him and it's the main reason he makes me feel at ease.   We always say that Sambo is "happy to be here." 
  • Sambo has only cleaned his room once that I can remember.  He usually cons someone else into doing it for him.  (Never me.  I refuse.)  He's been holding out for two solid weeks and finally conned a babysitter into cleaning it for him this weekend.  
  • Yesterday morning I was driving out of the driveway and noticed Sambo's UPSTAIRS window screen was off and was laying on the lower roof and his window was open about 18 inches.  Now, I don't ever open my kids' windows -- even a crack -- because I'm paranoid about all those stories I hear on the news about another child falling from their window onto the ground.  Sambo was in the car with me, so I asked him about it.  He explained that he opened the window so he could see the neighborhood kids getting on the bus better.  Our windows are big and extremely heavy, so I was surprised he could even get it open.  I'm sure all of you reading are alarmed by this story.  Interestingly enough, I wasn't surprised or really all that worried.  My kids are both very curious.  But Sambo does not engage in risky behaviors, so I'm confident he would never have stepped out onto the roof.  But still, we had to have a frank discussion about why opening the window and removing the screen were terribly dangerous.  (This is our fire escape route as required by us by DHS, otherwise I would have already locked or glued that window shut permanently, fyi.)
  • He is painfully responsible.  I am too, so this quality endears me to him too.  He knows all the rules, where everything in this house goes, the day-to-day routines, and makes sure they are followed.  He doesn't always listen and he is quite mischievous, but in things that matter, he is totally trustworthy.  He doesn't wander off, he does what he says he'll do, and I don't feel like I have to micro-manage him (Like others in this house.  But I'm not naming name(s).)  Interestingly enough, when somebody else is babysitting him, he is not responsible at all.  Does anyone have any insights into this?  
He's my little baby and the more he squirms and tries to get away from me, the more I feel like hugging and kissing him.  He is such a delight.  I just love him so much!  I just hope I don't smother him to death with all my loves cause I just might if I don't watch myself...