Sunday, May 19, 2013

To The Mothers

Mother's Day was last weekend.  It is one of my favorite holidays, and I will never understand why every mother on the planet doesn't love it and bask in it. Now, I do understand that maybe they may not have the greatest relationship with their own mother, or maybe they feel guilty that they aren't a perfect mother, or maybe they have lost their mother, and that is why they don't love it. However.... I feel like I work dang hard at my job, and I take a lot of abuse with my job title. So, for that reason, I feel like I deserve Mother's Day, and I deserve to be on the receiving end at least one day a year (aren't I the greatest example of humility you've ever known?!). It also helps that I have an amazing mother as well as mother-in-law to celebrate with. So, there's my take. My kids totally owe me because of every single thing I do for them (ummm, hello? Never ending laundry, and cooking dinner every night, just to name a few), and my husband totally owes me because I got sick and fat 5 times so I could birth our children ;)
Anyway, like I said, the day was wonderful. An amazing breakfast, showered with darling-made-by-little-hands-gifts, some new earrings, gift card for a mani/pedi, church with the fam (I even fit into a dress that I hadn't worn in about 5 years because it fit and actually looked okay! And, received lots of compliments, always a boost to the self-esteem ;) where I was able to listen to amazing and uplifting talks, and at the end, had the young men of our ward serve pie to all of the women. It was a great day.
 My favorite part of the day every year is always, always when I am awakened by little voices and little bodies climbing into my bed, wishing me a Happy Mother's Day. It is the best ever.

After church, we took some cheesy pictures in our backyard, and then I got sit with my feet up until it was time to go and visit our own mother's. We took them their gifts (I got them a big flower pot for their front porch and filled it with flowers. Turned out cute!) and told them how much we loved them. We ate at Andy's parents for dinner, and just had a nice, relaxing, enjoyable evening. Lovely, lovely day. And the best part was, I didn't have to change a single diaper.
Now, onto more important things. This here mother of mine is simply the best. All I learned about mothering came from her, so I am pretty much an expert (tee hee). My mom is the most selfless, helpful, giving, wonderful, fun, spontaneous, thoughtful, person I know. I have a lot of stories I could share about why she exemplifies all of these desirable qualities, but I will just share one.
About 4 years ago, I was going through some hard things. I had just been diagnosed with my autoimmune disease, and was having some other health problems that eventually led to the finding of my pituitary tumor. I was on medication that made me sick, tired, grumpy, and just a joy to be around, I assure you. I was tired of my life, tired of having all of these responsibilities, tired of having to take care of my family when I could barely take care of myself. I was a mess. My mom knew this, and she really stepped up. She asked me what she could do, what exactly would help me the most. I didn't really know, so she devised a plan and said that she would come over one day a week and help me with whatever I needed her to do. If it was cleaning, she would clean. If it was cooking, she would cook. If it was organizing, she would organize. And she did that, for about 4 or 5 months until I moved to Virginia. She came over every week and helped me with anything, and everything in between. She brought me dinner so many times or invited us to dinner at her house, that I can't even count that high. She was a lifesaver to me at a time that was crucial. I remember those days with dread, but with such a fondness for my mother and the fiercest feeling of love and appreciation. She truly puts others before herself, and I love her dearly for it. For her selfless, helping hands and heart. Happy Mother's Day to you mom.
Now, here is my wonderful mother-in-law. She is one talented lady, and I appreciate so much all of the things she does for me and my family. She is so giving of her time to my children and family. For the past year, she has been giving Laylah sewing lessons once a week. She brings us dinner when I'm sick. She has sleepovers with my kids in the summer. She bakes my kids amazing birthday cakes. She helps my husband see my point of view (haha). She is generous with her time, and I am grateful that I married a man with a wonderful mom. happy Mother's Day to you, Diane!
Aren't I lucky? I have so many wonderful things to celebrate on Mother's Day, and that is why I love it so. Being a mother has reminded me to slow down and remember the little things in life. My children have taught me many things, but here are some that I remember most vividly: 
From Laylah, I learned to remember to enjoy the small things, like the thrill of getting invited to my first birthday party. When she was just two years old, a girl in our neighborhood invited her to a princess party. I remember her excitement of dressing up, and walking up to that big front door all by herself, and turning around to wave goodbye to me with the biggest grin I've ever seen. She came home full of stories about the fun games that were played, and bursting with happiness from the little goody bag she received. It made my mother heart happy to see her so happy.
From Jonah, I learned to relax and take everything in. He was the sweetest, most easy-going toddler I have ever met. He just enjoyed life, and never got upset about anything. Whenever he got into trouble, I could never stay mad at him because of his sweet little smile and sparkling green eyes. The way he followed Laylah around and wanted to copy everything she did made my young mother heart just melt.
From Daphne, I learned to remember my love of singing. From the time she could talk, Daphne has loved to sing. She always wanted me to sing her a bedtime song, and around the age of 2, she became obsessed with the Barbie movies. She would sing those songs from the movies day and night. I loved to spy on her and watch her play with her Barbie's and make them dance and twirl and sing. I can still hear her sweet little high-pitched voice, asking me if she could watch Barbie and the Diamond Castle just one more time. Her sweet little voice made my mother heart swell.
From Baron, I learned to remember my love of reading. That little boy could read all day long and be perfectly happy. He would bring me a stack of books so high that he could hardly see over the top, set them on the couch, sit up next to them, and pat the couch on his other side and ask me to read him his books. He has most of his favorites memorized and now he "reads" them to Magnus. His love of reading filled my mother heart with pride.
From Magnus, I have learned (finally) the art of patience. It's sad to think it has taken me all these years and 5 kids to learn that one, but it's true (and I am still far from mastering the art, but I have greatly improved :). This little caboose of mine gets into any and all kinds of trouble that he possibly can. I am so thankful to finally have a softer voice and a slower to anger mind that reminds me to count to 10 before I do something I will regret. From climbing, disappearing, breaking things, hurting himself, making messes, and getting into any and all dangerous situations, I am thankful that my mother heart has softened and not expected too much of these little beings that are entrusted to me.
I love being a mom, and amid all of the exhausting, worrisome, troubling, and just plain hard times that come along with motherhood, I am thankful for all that I have learned. I wouldn't have learned or appreciated these things otherwise, than as I do as seen through the eyes of my child. And although there are things I most definitely will not miss when my kids grow up and are gone (and nothing you say will convince me otherwise....ahem, laundry and messes. I just can't believe I will miss everything when my kids are grown), I will miss the small and simple things. I will miss their big hearts, and quiet wonder. I will miss their easy forgiveness, and their sweet hugs. Yes, there is definitely something amazing about being a mother.
Happy Mother's Day to you!

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Cortisone Shot + A Half-Marathon

Well, we did it! Hours upon hours of training, and over 230 miles of running in preparation. I completed my first half-marathon! I am still feeling very happy and accomplished, and what a feeling.
But, let me back up to the day before the race...
Andy has had back problems for years (Yes, I know. We make quite a pair with our back issues) and after trying just about everything, his doctor finally recommended a cortisone shot to try and avoid full on surgery. So, Andy set it up, not really realizing that the day after his same-day-surgery was our half-marathon. By the time we figured it out, it was too late to change it, so we just hoped for the best.
My mom and sister Rachel (who came up with her kids from Vegas to cheer us on. Love her!) took care of our kids from about 1 PM on. They picked them up from school and they slept over at my mom's so we could be free to concentrate on Andy's hospital visit and getting ready for our race. So sweet, I love them!
We got to the hospital and got Andy all checked in. He got to wear a sexy hospital gown that was waaaaay too small.
He told his doctor what he was planning on doing bright and early the next morning and his doctor told him it was okay, and to take it easy while running, but that he should take a week off of exercise afterwards. He also mentioned that if Andy had a reaction to the shot, he probably wouldn't be able to run.
Greeeeeeaaaaat. This is where we just hoped for the best.
After he was settled, they came and got him (after a very long wait) and took him back for "surgery". It only took about 15 minutes, and then he was back in recovery, cracking jokes like his usual self. He said he felt good, so they let us go shortly after that. He was a little woozy, but overall, he said he felt okay.
We headed to Simply Sushi for our pre-race carb load. We met my brother (who was also running with us) and his wife there. Between the four of us, we downed probably 12 whole rolls and about 12 pieces of nigiri. On top of that, we had soup and edamame. It was soooo yummy, and I'm not going to lie, it felt awesome to be able to eat as much as I wanted to after all of these months of strict calorie counting. I felt a little sick afterwards, but not for long.
 We headed down to pick up our race packets after we ate, and it got us really hyped up just being in that atmosphere. We went home after that and got all ready to be up bright and early. We turned in around 11 PM with plans to be up at 5 AM. Andy was still feeling great, so that helped me to relax. Strangely enough, we both awoke around 4 AM and chatted excitedly for a half hour. I dozed off for a bit after that, and then we were up at 5 to get ready.
We had a light breakfast (greek yogurt and a banana for me, a power bar and banana for Andy) and headed down to Thanksgiving Point. When we arrived, we met up with my 2 brothers, Doug and Nate, and also my sister, Kaylie. I just have to say.... my sister is amazing. She started a new job a month ago at Kneaders, and she has to be to work at 5 AM every morning because she is one of the bakers of all those delicious pastries they have. They wouldn't let her off for the race unless she came in from 3 AM-6 AM and got started on all of the baking for the day. Seriously.... she was up at 2, worked for 3 hours, and then came and ran her first half-marathon. She is amazing.
We all took a last minute potty-break, and then lined up together at the starting line.
I felt much less nervous than I thought I would. I think it was because of all of my awesome siblings, because I just felt so much support. Andy is a pretty fast runner, so he got a little closer to the front than the rest of us.
When the gun went off, we walked with the huge crowd to the starting line, and as soon as we crossed, I turned on my moniter so I could keep track of my time, heart rate, etc. My siblings and I stayed together for a bit, and then Nate and I slowly pulled ahead. We found a good pace, and just ran. The first couple miles are always the hardest, so after we hit mile marker 3, I was feeling awesome. I was also pleasantly surprised to see how fast we were going. We stayed right on a 10 minute mile. My goal was to complete in under 2 1/2 hours, and at this pace, we would do that easily. I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom again, but I didn't want to lose my groove, so I told myself that I could hold it until at least mile marker 6. However, my running buddy (Nate) had to go, so he stopped and said he would catch-up. I ran the next 2 miles alone. It was easily my favorite part of the race, not because I was alone, but because miles 4 and 5 are run through the tulip gardens, and it was breathtakingly beautiful (which can be a problem when you're already breathless from running, haha ;). I also started to get a little choked up because this is where I had my bridal pictures taken almost exactly 11 years before. I ran through the arches and almost lost it. Whenever I do hard things, I get emotional, and this was no exception. I was glad to have my ipod and lost myself in my music and just ran.
Around mile 5.5, Nate caught back up and at mile 6, I finally took a break and had a drink and used the restroom. Nate was kind enough to wait for me. I am so glad he did, it was so nice to have his company, and I don't think I could have ever caught back up to him. We took off again and I felt like I was on auto-pilot. This particular course is run through the golf course and there are a ton of hills. It is one of the most hilly courses in Utah. It was a bit of a challenge, and I was glad to have trained on a lot of hills. When we hit mile marker 8, I was still feeling awesome.
The hardest part for me came at miles 9-11. My legs and knees were starting to hurt, but I still felt okay. My stomach felt a little sloshy too, so I decided not to stop for any more drink breaks. The longest I had run up until that point was 10 miles, so after that, realizing I only had 3 miles to go, I knew I could do it, and what an amazing feeling.
Around mile 11 1/2, Nate and I saw Andy. He was running really slow and said that around mile 8 his back started hurting a lot, so he had been taking it easy. We ran together for a bit, and at mile marker 12, Nate took off. After that, I passed Andy, feeling torn about staying with him or trying to get my best possible time. He told me to go, so I did. I ran that last mile as fast as I could. When I saw my dad waiting a ways before the finish line, I felt so happy. I yelled, "Daddy!" and waved as I passed him. I sprinted up the last little bit to the finish line and after I crossed, I threw my hands into the air! YES! I was finished :) My official time was 2 hours 14 minutes 33 seconds.
I saw my mom, sisters, and kids cheering and waiting. Such a feeling. It was fabulous. All of my kids had these silly grins on their faces and gave me the best hugs. Andy came in shorty after me at 2 hours 16 min.
Me and him and Nate headed over to the recovery zone, turned in our time chips, and picked up our medals. We went and grabbed some chocolate milk, ice cream sandwiches, bagels and cream cheese, and whatever else was being offered. It tasted heavenly.
We waited for Doug and Kaylie to finish. They came in at about 2 hours 35 minutes, I didn't see their exact times. And of course, we took a bunch of photos with everyone.

 I love this girl. Training buddies forever.
 The Fabulous Five
My parents so generously took all 25 of us out to breakfast afterwards. I had stuffed french toast and bacon and didn't feel one bit guilty. Mostly because my heart rate moniter was telling me that I had burned 2100 calories during my run :)
We headed home after that, took off our running shoes, and I laid on the floor for about 45 minutes and didn't move, not even when Sadie (my dog) and Magnus started climbing all over me.
I felt well enough later that day to do a little shopping with my mom and Rachel. I even found these bad boys for an amazing deal for Andy so we can get ready for our next race....
Because there will definitely be a next race :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Thirty-Three Birthdays Come And Gone

Andy turned 33 a couple weeks ago. He is not a huge fan of his birthday. At least, he says he isn't. I can never tell if he is telling the truth about that or not....
But, I love birthdays, so I try to do enough without going too over the top because then he complains that I did too much. Anyway.
The kids woke him up with a Happy Birthday song. Magnus had crept into bed with Andy while I was making breakfast, so he was snuggling when the kids came in to sing. He got super excited while they were singing, had a huge grin on his face, and after they finished, he yelled, "It's my birthday?!?" So funny.
The kids made him this awesome poster. I made him an awesome breakfast. It was his favorite, waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, bacon, orange juice, and chocolate milk.
 We had a very laid back, relaxing day. Andy's birthday fell on a Friday, so while the 4 older kids were at school, we went to lunch. We got his birthday present (New sunglasses. He never lets me get him anything cool. That's why Santa always goes so over the top ;) and later that day, he took an uninterrupted nap, which he claims was one of the best parts of the day.
I made him his favorite dinner of pot roast, potatoes, carrots, gravy, rolls, and spinach casserole with raspberry lemonade. Afterwards, we had his favorite cake that his mom used to make him for every birthday.... lemon jello cake.
I hope it was a good day for him. He wanted to go to a movie after the kids went to bed, but he was tired (Really? How? He got to take a nap that day!) so we rented one instead.
I felt like I wanted to do a little surprise for him, so I had planned a get together with some of our friends. I also wanted to be able to celebrate with the kids on his actual birthday, so I planned it for the next evening. I casually suggested we go to Outback for dinner (which is his favorite) because we hadn't really done anything very exciting on his birthday. So, we went to a late dinner (I had everyone meeting there at 7:30) and he was really surprised to see 10 of our friends there waiting for us! It was a very fun dinner, and afterwards we went bowling which was hilarious. I have not laughed so much in a very long time. The only bad part of the evening is that I was having too much fun to even think about taking a single picture. Oh well, it will have to last in our memories :)
Happy Birthday, Stud. I sure love you a lot.

Baron's Angry Birds Party

Baron wanted an Angry Birds Birthday party, and we had a blast! Thanks to Pinterest, I was able to find a lot of fun ideas for decorations, goody bags, and games. Ohhhh, what did we ever do without Pinterest?!
Anyway, I found these invites on etsy. I purchased them, approved them, and printed them all on the same day.
I couldn't find big enough envelopes, so I used mailer envelopes, and put some colorful candy in with it.
I made this pinata out of a balloon and paper mache. It was time consuming, but very easy. I though it turned out great!
For the color scheme, I just used the colors of the birds (and pigs). Red, blue, yellow, and green. Very colorful and festive looking.
On the menu was mini pizza's (english muffins, pizza sauce, mozzerella, and mini pepperoni's. Super easy, in fact, Laylah made them and I baked them), strawberries, punch, cups of dirt with worms (oreos and gummies.... because birds eat worms, right?!), and chocolate cupcakes.

 I had a few activities for the party. We played Pin The Tail on the Angry Bird, Find The Golden Egg, had our faces painted with angry birds, broke open the King Pig pinata, and also had a real, life-size angry birds game.
 These are the birds for our life-size game.
 We also opened gifts and ate our yummy food.

 He found the Golden Egg!
 My sister Suzanne came and helped me with the face-painting.

 We sang Happy Birthday to the birthday boy.
 Bear received some very fun gifts.
 I was surprised how long my pinata held up. But once someone broke a hole in it, it was history.

 Pin the tail on the Angry Bird!
 And now for the hit of the party.... life size Angry Birds! It was so much fun. Andy made the slingshot, and we used moving boxes and kickball balls with bird faces on them for the rest.

 The party favors were my favorite. Plush Red Angry Birds with 2 golden eggs that had angry bird tattoos inside. They were also filled up with the pinata candy. I attached a note that said, "Thanks for crashing my party!"
 It turned out to be such a fun party, and the boys all had a blast.
And of course, the trampoline was a favorite with everyone while we waited for parents to come pick up their little angry bird boys.
Happy #5 Bear!
Sources and Ideas:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Happy Happy Birthday To You From Me!

Well, Baron had a birthday and he turned 5 years old. The older my younger kids get, the weirder it seems that I am old enough to have all of these little children, who actually aren't so little anymore, and I wonder when their real mom is going to come in and take over, and tell me that I did a good job babysitting for the last 10 years...
So yes! Baron's 5th birthday. It was great, and so much fun because he was so very excited about it and looked forward to it for months. We started out the day with his breakfast of choice: crepes, strawberries, hashbrowns, sausage, and chocolate milk. He got to open one gift (A tin of Pokemon Cards.... he was so excited) and then we had to quickly get ready for the day because we had a baptism and baby blessing to go to. I was worried that Bear might be a bit put out by having to spend part of his birthday this way, but he got to see all of his cousins and play with them, so he was A-O-K with it.

We had plans to go see The Crood's together as a family before his family birthday party, but we got home too late, so we didn't have time (Don't worry, I finally took him.... just yesterday, in fact! He gives the movie two thumbs up!). We had his birthday dinner (chicken roll-ups with gravy, broccoli, apples, salad and lemonade.)
We decorated for a par-tay, and waited for grandparents to arrive. Baron was very lucky, because this is the first birthday ever of one of my kids where every single grandparent was present (well, the ones that are alive, that is :) Andy's grandparents live out of town, but they were here visiting for the family baptism and blessing, so they were able to come to the party!


 He received so many fun things. Andy and I gave him a red razor scooter, some new clothes and flip flops, a wii game, and a kite. He got some Skylanders from Gma Claudia and Papa Bry, A book and money from Gma and Gpa Collette, new clothes from Great Gma Darlene, and money from Great Gma Marge, Great Gma Roth, and Great Gma and Gpa Collette. He also got some cards with money from aunts and uncles.
 He chose chocloate cake with chocolate frosting, decorated in strawberries. I found trick candles for his cake, which I have never used for any of my kids before. My Grandma Darlene used to put them on our cakes all the time when I was growing up, and I have such great memories of trying to blow out my candles over and over again. It definitely threw Bear for a loop as he tried to blow the candles out again and again. My Grandma Darlene just started laughing as she realized what they were. Good times :)

 Bear and Great Gma Marge (my mom's mom)
 Bear with Great Gma and Gpa Collette (Andy's dad's parents)
 Bear with Great Gma Darlene (my dad's mom)
 Bear and Great Gma Roth (Andy's mom's mom)
 Bear and Gma and Gpa Collette
 Bear with Papa Bry and Gma Claudia
 Bear is so lucky to have so many people that love him so much!
 Lucky boy indeed
 The Monday after his birthday, he got to celebrate at school. He brought donut holes for snack time and airheads for the kids to take home. His teacher is so cute, and she made him a hat and certificate, and he got to be the special helper at school and have everyone sing to him. She also made him a mini birthday cake frosted in his favorite color. Fun day.
Also, later that day I was cleaning out my armoire and happened to find another gift that I had bought for Bear, and totally forgotten about. I gave it to him, and he was soooo excited. He has wanted a zip-over-the-face-hoodie ever since Jonah got one for Christmas. Pretty cute. All in all, I think I could say that Bear had a wonderful #5.

Bear at 5
Ohhhh, my Bear. What can I say about this boy? He is such a sweet little (big) guy. He is the size of an average 7 or 8 year old. He weighed 55 pounds at his 5 year appointment and he was 50 inches tall. He has recently started wearing a boys meduim or a 7/8. The doctor told me that he is on track to be about 6'6'' tall when he is an adult. He and Jonah almost wear the same size and they are almost 4 years apart. He is at least a head taller than every other kid that he plays in soccer. The point is, he is a big boy.
Bear has really loved preschool this year. He loves to learn, and he is following in his daddy's footsteps and is already really good at math. He can do basic subtraction and addition. He loves to be read to, and is starting to read small words on his own. He brought home a worksheet with about ten 3 and 4 letter words and I was so surprised that he could read them all with a little bit of sounding out the letters. He knows all of his letters and what sounds they make. He loves art and coloring, and has become quite the little artist. He has a box full of all of his art projects, and he likes to plaster them all over the fridge.
Baron loves to play with friends. He wants to have a friend over or be at a friend's house all the time. He has lots of great friends in preschool and in his primary class. He gets along great with just about anyone, boys and girls alike. 
Baron loves to play any sort of electronic. He loves computer games, the wii, Leapsters, Jonah's DS, my iphone, tablets, app games, anything and everything. He would play video games all day long if I let him. Luckily, he is okay with the time limit I set and when his time is up for the day, he turns it off easily, and doesn't ask to play again. He loves movies and cartoons and likes to watch them in the morning. He also loves to ride his bike and scooter, play outside on the tramp, with his siblings, or at the park. He loves to wrestle with his dad. He never quite knows when to quit either, he will never give up until he feels like he won. He loves to play board games, and asks often if I will play Checkers or Battleship with him. He has enjoyed soccer much more this year than he did last year. He has become more athletic and doesn't complain so much about being tired when he runs. Jonah is his idol and he loves anything and everything that Jonah does. He is pretty brave, which is a big change for him in recent months. He used to be scared of everything: the dark, bugs, swinging high on a swing, being left alone in a room, etc. But lately, nothing seems to bother him, and he will do just about anything. This was great while we were at Disneyland because he was big enough to go on all the rides, and he did. We took him on every ride, and he loved it all.
One of Baron's biggest faults is that he loves to tease. He will tease Magnus to the point of tears. I know he doesn't do it to be mean, he really does just think that he is being funny. Besides that, he is a wonderful big brother and is so sweet and loving to Magnus. He helps him and plays with him and hugs him when he is sad. It makes my heart happy to see those two little buddies play together.
Another funny thing about Bear is his signature pout. If he asks to do something and I say no, he immedietly drops his shoulders, hangs his head as low as it will go, and sticks out his bottom lip so far that he could practically trip on it. It is hysterical, and he has done it since he was about a year old. It just seems funnier now because he really is too big to be pouting like that. I pretty much ignore it, or tease him a little about it when he does it. He usually laughs after that, so it's not as bad as it used to be.
I just love this Baron boy so much. He is so happy and funny, and I love that I get to spend my days with him. I can hardly believe that he, as my fourth child, is starting kindergarten this fall. It will be so strange to take him to school each morning with his 3 older siblings. Even though he is a big boy, he just seems too little to be going to school every day. I love you so much Bear. Happy 5th Birthday, and thanks for choosing me.