Friday, November 20, 2015

Home sweet House Paint

We've never been crazy about the outside of our house, but painting a house is a big and kinda pricey job (I am always boggled by the price of paint!) so we've put it off. Until now! After participating against his will in yet another Project Paintbrush Joe, where people come together to paint a house in one day, Joe was raring to paint our house! But then he was hunting two weekends in a row, then I had some crazy busy weekends, and then we found ourselves closing in on the end of November but still! Determination and a lucky few days of nice weather won out.
Our beginning. The paint scheme was fine... but dated. And the paint was old and chipping so it needed new paint anyway. We came up with THIS:

 Two people. Two weekends. Two coats of paint, and a wholes new house!
 We like it.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dresser refinish

A few weeks ago we took a weekend trip to Parker to visit Kari and Jonathan. Kari had been bitten by the furniture refinishing bug right about the time they moved because new furniture is crazy expensive and generally has no personality, but their new home was significantly larger and would need plenty of new furniture! So she purchased and sanded and painted to her heart's content but when the house was done the projects continued - it's just so much fun to breath new life into an old piece! So while we were visiting I sanded and painted right alongside her, and had SUCH a good time. We agreed that we were both sad and glad this hadn't been a mania when she was our next door neighbors - we would have been able to do much more together, having unlimited time to do such cool finishes! But we also agree that Pueblo has no market for selling beautiful refinished furniture, and we would have ignored the kids SO much it's probably a very good thing it didn't happen here!

So the weekend finished, and back home I had a new critical eye of my own furniture. Specifically I looked at a dresser from my bedroom that I had previously loved but had been banished to the guest room until I could figure out what to do with it. It was purchased from (of all the random places) K-Mart, about 6 or 7 years ago. It was on clearance for super cheap ($20 or $30),  made primarily of particle board, had wood-on-wood drawer slides, finished with a cherry gel stain and pretty outdated drawers pulls...

But MAN it was functional! It was the perfect height for my nightstand, the 3 drawers were spacious but the piece was small enough and light enough to be useful in almost any room... So I was loathe to get rid of it, but the very basic slides had begun sticking like mad where it just made ME mad. Joe and I went furniture shopping and bought a lovely new 8-drawer dresser (seen in a previous post) and I figured I was done forever with the K-Mart blue light special.

 Until! Until the trip to Kari's. I dragged that dresser back out, stripped the cherry stain off, restained the top, painted the body, and Joe found some metal ball-bearing slides to remove the unbearable stickiness! The dresser would be saved! As with any project there were snafus... Like the drawers slides were actually 1/8th inch too wide, so he had to router out a channel into each drawer. Like the outdated drawer pulls were also cheap and 2 of them broke during re-installation. Like the drawers no longer stuck from bad drawer slides but they stuck because I'd painted around the edge of the drawer front. So more tweaks later, some sanding and some shopping, the drawers glide like a dream and I replaced the pulls with knobs that are to die for! They remind me of sailor buttons.

The dresser is now back in my bedroom (though not as my nightstand)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I Pooky

Halloween is upon us again! I've been working away on a dragon creation for Patrick but was lucky enough to come up with inexpensive yet LOVELY costumes for the other kids, thanks to Goodwill and ebay. The dragon is coming along compliments of Pinterest... Pretty sure I'm never letting Patrick loose on Pinterest again! We've got a dragon head made from milk jugs and paper maché (with a complete tutorial) and some dragon wings (an apt anatomical part, since I'm "winging" it off a picture from an etsy listing).

Whew! My mom claims the kids will be ruined, thinking anyone can just whip out a costume on a whim, but I like to keep it real by throwing in those internet purchases and also making sure my costumes are less than perfect (see how I just pretended I mess up on purpose instead of diving through craftland on a wing and a prayer?).

 I must say, these days have brought out a bit of swagger in my step, though. The cooking time of year is upon us! And I have a jaw jam-packed with sweet teeth, so I've been mixing and baking to my heart's (and teeth's) delight. I always find it rewarding to accomplish multiple creative tasks in one day, and it's even better when one of those crafts can be eaten when the day is done. I've made Kentucky Darby pie, Kansas Dirt, Christmas Crack (my unofficial name for what is essentially Mormon drugs, I'm hooked), and other sundry treats. Treats are great but I love compliments more, so I make massive batches and send them with Joe to work, so I get the best of both worlds!

Ethan is getting in the Halloween spirit - he draped himself in his "white" blanket (it's light green) and walked in the room, announcing "I pooky!" Ahhhhh, you're a spooky ghost! We died laughing.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

What comes after tonight?

I had a meeting last night right at bedtime. Caroline was SO SAD that when I came home I did not come straight to her room to tuck her in. In my defense, we had just bought and brought home a new (new! from a store and everything!) dresser, which we had opened minutes before I had to go to that meeting - I hadn't had any time to properly admire it! I thought Caroline was asleep while I admired, but her crying told me otherwise. So I went in to soothe and console and she said "I just never want you to go away again!" Well, poor timing on her wish and I said, "I'll also be gone tomorrow night and Saturday you're going to have a babysitter." She perked up a bit and said, "Well I like having a babysitter so I don't mind if you go away then." Sooooo, you're saying a babysitter is just fine but your own dad is chopped liver, huh? How complimentary!
But then she questioned, "When are you going tonight?"
"I'm not going anywhere else tonight, I'm already home."
"No, I mean tonight, like tonight-morrow."
Bahahahahaha! That will be my new reference of time. Tonight-morrow.

And here's the dresser that cause so much anguish. We haven't rearranged the bedroom yet, so don't mind the cramped look of it all.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Early to rise

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise! It's probably one of the most commonly known precepts (there is bedtime every day, after all) yet maybe not the most followed. I, for instance, hate getting up early. When Patrick was very small he started getting up and staying up at 5 a.m., which he did until after Eli was born then finally settled down and slept tip 6:30, but it nearly killed me! I felt like I was ever after incredibly protective of my morning sleep, preciously guarding it, keeping it away from the prying eyes of children who don't have internal snooze buttons. I was ever grateful when the big kids were able tot ale care of Ethan in the morning, getting him a drink and helping him on the potty. The reason I needed my lie-ins was that I needed my late nights - I felt I needed a minimum of 2 hours (3 was even better) of my own time after the kids went to bed. The boys' bedtime is 8 but often they stay up talking or coming out to ask for something, so let's say the last time I would see a kid was 9:00 - I needed until 11:00 or even midnight to feel like I had completely decompressed from kids for the day. If you're up until midnight you are going to jealously guard those precious sleeping-in hours!

Then two things happened. The least important but most imminent was that summer was coming to a close and school starts at 8:00. I cannot sleep until 7:30 with that over my head. The most important thing was that I read an article from the Ensign, our church magazine, about that very precept: early to bed and early to rise. I don't need much help getting healthy, I already feel pretty smart, and I'm not the one who makes money for our family, so the blessings of the precept were about to fall on deaf ears (or blind eyes, since I was reading) but then the author promised that things that will seem so difficult to do otherwise will begin to be easy. I had a few immediate thoughts - clean house! read scriptures! scrapbook! So I decided to try it.

I set my alarm for 6, dutifully got up, read a few scriptures and went for a quick run around the neighborhood. I'd decided that morning cleaning was out of the question because a) cleaning is not a legitimate reason to get out of bed, and b) cleaning can be loud and if this was my alone time I didn't want to risk waking anybody. Well, only a few minutes after I got back kids were stirring and coming out of their rooms - how disappointing! Now I would be tired at night but had not accomplished the task of having my alone time. I tried 6 a.m. a few more times but I started falling asleep while reading, and I actually HATE running so I gave that up pretty quickly. Before the week was up I was back to 7:30.

Then one morning Joe forgot something in our bedroom before he left for work, and on his way out he kissed me goodbye. It woke me up and I felt pretty well-rested so I decided to get up. Joe leaves at 4:45. This was EARLY. I was not going to read, I was not going to go for even a quick run, but as I was lying in bed I had some ideas for a scrapbook layout. One of the things that is hard for me to find a great time for is scrapbooking - during the day it's busy with kids and meals and yard work and house projects; I need quiet and no interruptions as I work. After kids' bedtimes seems the best solution, but after a long day I am not interested in more time with the kids, even if it is just pictures of the kids. I want alone time in my headspace, too! So more often than not scrapbooking with Netflix on in the background became just plain ol' Netflix all evening. Not productive. But this morning I know the house would be perfectly quiet, my hobby would also be perfectly quiet, I was excited about it, and I would not fall asleep doing it. That morning the kids slept until 8 and I worked, uninterrupted, for 3 hours! Got so much accomplished!

I told Joe the next morning to wake me up again. He did, and I immediately headed to my craft area and began again. An the next day. And the next. I began setting my alarm for 5 just in case Joe forgot to wake me up (which he did one day, but I had gone to bed early the night before [exhausted from getting up at 5 the morning before] and I woke up on my own at 5:20). This was 2 weeks ago, and I have caught up my scrapbooks to RIGHT NOW. This is incredible! I am consistently behind 1-2 years, putting away pictures this summer that were taken last summer or even the summer before. I just kept plugging away figuring NEXT summer I would get around to THIS summer, and it would all get done eventually, but done NOW? It is obvious that the article on getting up early fulfilled its promise - I have been able to accomplish things that seem difficult (impossible, even!) by waking up early.

Other things have gotten easier, too. I don't clean early in the morning but I am finding it easier to keep my house clean. A huge shout-out again to "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," as I continue my tidying journey, but also I feel refreshed by the time the kids ARE up and I can happily and noisily put away those dishes, rather than groggily doling out breakfast and wishing the dishes would magically do themselves. I find it easier to deal with the kids - I have time to remind them of all those things I feel like they should remember already but of course they don't (get dressed before you play, make your bed, brush your teeth before we go) so I'm able to act, not re-act. It doesn't help me get things done, but it is lovely to see the sky lighten as the day comes on. Then at the end of the day, sure enough, I'm tired so I retire to my bed early, and it all begins again.

2 weeks isn't much. I look back at the many years of loving my morning sleep and worry I'll slip back into old habits. But I look at my accomplishments in just 2 weeks and feel very excited each day to get up and accomplish more, so perhaps I am more motivated than I am complacent (which, of itself, is an accomplishment).

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Testimony and self-help books

My mom and sister Elsha read and raved about "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo, so naturally I had to read it. My mom bought a copy for Kari, but I short-stopped it for 2 weeks and got nice and involved in the magic of cleaning my own home before I had to give it to the rightful owner. (But don't worry. I took notes).

2 days ago was fast and testimony meeting in church where the time is open and available to member who would like to bear their testimonies. I had some thought I wanted to share but there wasn't a spare moment, and you hate to be the person who makes sacrament meeting run long! I mean, unless you like overwrought mothers sending you eye-daggers and kids screaming in the background... but I don't, so I didn't stand up. Instead, I thought, I could share my thought on my blog.

The two things are connected! Hear me out.  The magic of tidying is that rather than getting rid of the small percentage of things you actively do not like or use, you take everything in a particular category and actively keep the things that bring you joy. The rest can go. Simple as that! You end up naturally and happily ridding yourself of 60-70% of your things, and loving the 30-40% you keep; since they are items you treasure, you will naturally take better care of them. Also, you have fewer things to take care of now, again making it easier to take care of them.

I have long loved de-junking. I have long-loved books on de-junking! It is inspiring to leave a space clean and decluttered (I am then usually inspired to mess it back up, like a clean kitchen is just crying for some cookies!). In spite of my love, my house is often a mess. There's just too much stuff, but taking out a few things at a time never got me on top of the stuff. I love this (she calls it the KonMari method) because it takes a healing approach to your home and its contents - don't wage war on your items; instead, choose the items that inspire you and bring joy. The rest is white noise and can be released - donated or lovingly thrown out, with a farewell of thanks for its hard work. While I was sitting in sacrament meeting, listening to testimonies, I realized that the gospel and my family are the most important things - they bring me joy! Sometimes my home clutters me up, though - all our projects mean saturdays at Lowe's rather than the lake. Cleaning rather than working puzzles together. There needs to be a happy medium, cleaning and projects do need to happen, but I am excited to find joy in my home so I can spend less time on my home, thus spending more time on my family the way I WANT to spend time with my family. Paring down the fluff so I can strengthen myself spiritually instead.

So read a good book today! Any good book. It's bound to give you a boost. If you read Marie Kondo, it may just give you a whole new view on your home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I wuff you too

Ethan is quiet the entertainer! He is ready and willing to provide information, and his bits of info mostly extend to "I'm two-an-a-haff!" and "I'm ti-owd" and "I want chocket miwk wif miwk" From those you can glean that he will soon be turning 3 (it's next month! My mind is boggled), he is a liar (he said "I'm ti-owd" at all hours of the day, including after waking up), and he enjoys himself some chocolate milk but recognizes that I will always cut the strength with more plain milk. He also adamantly expresses, "mom, I wuff you," to which the one and only response is "I love you, too." I can't simply say "I love you" or "you're a special guy" or "how about some chocolate milk with milk?" because he'll insist "no! I wuff you TOO!" until I get it right.

The kids love to tell knock-knock jokes, so Ethan tries to get in on the action. He declares (without taking a breath much less giving you time to participate in the joke, "knock knock! Who der! Moo cow!" And then busts up laughing. It's his take on the "interrupting cow" joke, I guess he really doesn't WANT to be interrupted! Good joke, buddy!

Yesterday he wanted a parrot. It took a lot of pointing on his part to help me understand he wanted a PEAR. A pear-ut.

 Trying to figure out selfies

 Exhausted after a long day at Swim Beach at the reservoir.



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sizzling summer

It's been too long to catch up, but not so long that I'm giving up on blogging! I still love to go back and read old blog posts so I suppose it's time to create new that can become old :)

Summer 2015 has been craziness!  First we went to Kansas City for a John Gustavson family reunion. We hit Legoland, the aquarium, the zoo, the girls did some shopping, the guys did some golfing, and we all did LOTS of hanging out with the kids and eating delicious food.

After Kansas we had a slew of grandkid visits. First I took all the kids down to Grand Junction to stay with my parents - the kids played with cousins and I blew through a Honey-Do List you would have to see to believe! Every day was some adventure - swimming, an indoor play place, tennis lessons, Perler beads, play-doh, outdoor parks, splash pads, fireworks, and again LOTS of hanging out and eating delicious food.

After Junction the big kids headed to Craig for a week with Joe's parents, while I took Ethan home with me. The big kids saw lots of wildlife, went to the local wave pool, waded in the river and caught crawdads, rode horses and saw sheep shearing, and toured a local fibers factory. I wasn't there, but I'm sure there was LOTS of hanging out and eating delicious food.

Back home we've had smaller adventures - swim lessons, splash parks, Children's Museum, Swim Beach at the reservoir, starting Patrick in Tiger Scouts, outdoor movies, the drive-in, and LOTS of hanging out and eating delicious food (often in the form of fast food, I'm a sucker!).

Just this past weekend we had another Colorado jaunt up to Broomfield to visit family at Joe's grandma's house - his sister had flown in with her family, so his parents drove over from Craig, and all the extended family nearby came for hugs and hello's. We took to kids to Peter Pan Park to run out some energy, but mostly we did LOTS of hanging out and ate delicious food (impossible to avoid at Eva's house).

Now for the photos dump, but just the highlights...

Kansas Highlights:
Tractors
Hallmark's Kaleidoscope kids creation area
Fire-something-or-ther museum. Way cool!
Kansas city zoo
Legoland
Aquarium
Lots of hanging out!

Grand Junction Highlights:
Fireworks
Splash parks
Perler beads
Cool parks

Pueblo Highlights:
Swimming at the PAC (Pueblo Athletic Club)
Drive-In (we saw Inside Out and Tomorrowland)
Swim Beach
City Park rides
LOTS of hanging out! Snazzy for church

 Broomfield Highlights:
Peter Pan Park
Climbing around at the park
LOTS of hanging out with lots of people we love! 4 Generations - Great-Grandma Eva, grandma and grandpa Jacobs, Joe and his sister Gina, and all the great-grandkids.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Brag and gag

Patrick's last day of first grade was today! So of course he brought home PILES of stuff, dumped papers all over the table and the floor, then ran outside to ride bikes yelling "freeeeeeedom!" Within his piles was his final report card - not grades yet, but a scale of Unsatisfactory, Partially Proficient, Proficient, and Advanced. So... time for his mom to brag while other people gag... he got Advanced in every single subject! We've got a smarty pants on our hands.

done-zo!

I am so incredibly pleased at how the craft space turned out! It may not look like much to you but that's because I didn't take any true "before" pictures of the avalanche of crap... I mean CRAFT... that I had a managed to pile into one corner. One corner was taking over the basement in a mish-mashed kind of way. The new space is exactly what I needed. What I needed, so you know, is a functional space with MILES of counter space to spread out my projects. Got it! What I needed was a PRETTY space so I would be more keen on putting things away where they belong to keep it pretty. Got it! What I needed was a controlled space so my overflowing baskets of things would be purposefully reduced to the items I love, need, and use frequently (ok, I still fudge on that a bit but it is lots more controlled than it was!). 

The cabinets, refinished by Yours Truly, was a big confidence-builder for me since it included me using a miter saw without adult supervision. When it comes to power tools, I am NOT an adult! So I wallpapered the front and back, mitered all the rails and stiles myself, liquid-nailed them on using clamps (again, no adult supervision!), caulked the edges inside and out to smooth everything together, and painted white enamel paint over the whole thing for a nice durable finish. Basically I wanted to climb to the top of a mountain (or drive, I am lazy) and shout "I am amazing!" The countertop, installed by Joe Truly, is also the countertop style we installed in out master bathroom. I love the coloring of it, and the price was great. Now I have a really wonderful place to craft and, when I'm not crafting, it is a lovely space in our basement.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sign of the times

Patrick was awarded the "Sparkly" award at school - their mascot is Sparky the yearling, so it was a cute play on words - but the award was for the Friendliest Kid in First Grade. WOW! He is a super-friendly kid, so it wasn't terribly surprising that he stood out for it, but out of the whole first grade? Yessss! The kids who received awards got their names personalized on street signs. Now... to figure out how to hang this bad-boy up...

Spring Fever

It has been quite the spring this year! Rainstorm after rainstorm after massive rainstorm, and the temperatures have been so cool I regret daily that I put away 90% of my winter clothes - I also decide daily that I'm too lazy to get under the bed and pull those winter clothes out. I'll just tough it out one more day, SURELY spring temperatures are just around the corner.... right?

Well, it's finally warmed up just in time for my kids to get spring fever! That is to say, a nasty fever during the first lovely days of spring.

Eli got a low-grade fever, never over 101, and effectively slept for 48 hours. There was a lovely stretch in there where he didn't leave him room for 27 hours - he watched one movie and got up twice to go to the bathroom, and HE SLEPT the other 25 hours! I expected him to sleep, he was sleepy in the womb, sleepy when he was a baby, and has always slept when he felt under the weather, but even this was taking it to a new level and I got worried enough I thought about dragging his sleeping body to Urgent Care! Short of that, calling the pediatrician about his sleeping body (which I also thought about and didn't do). In the end I decided the doctors might find that much sleep alarming and dig for a deeper meaning with bloodwork and tests, while I trusted my mom-gut to know that it's Eli's sick style to sleep and I should just leave him to it (checking up on him frequently, of course). Sure enough, he popped out of bed, fever gone, appetite back, and big smiles on his face. During those 27 hours of being Eli-less I paused to imagine life without Eli, and it just seemed LESS. Less fun. Less rowdy. Less noise. Less snuggling. I'm certainly glad it turned out to be nothing serious because I would be less than happy to lose our awesome Ooly-Kadooly!

Caroline got the fever and took the opposite approach - she went to bed with a touch of heat but by 11 p.m. her fever spiked to 105 (105! I took is 3 times because I couldn't believe it). I gave her ibuprofen and cooled her forehead with a wet washcloth and figured I would sit by her while she slept until her fever came down, but I stayed in there for an hour and she talked to me the whole time. Totally unable to sleep in the middle of the night with her insanely high fever! She was feverish the next evening too but it was gone by midnight, so her entire sick spell ran hot and burned itself out quickly.

So far so good on the other boys, they've avoided the fever and enjoyed the sunshine (although Patrick did NOT enjoy that he had to go to school while Eli got all those sick days at home. Pouting fits happened.) And that about brings us up to date on the kids!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

crafty crafty crafty

Well you know us, we're always good for a random project... Just recently I got fed up with my craft corner in our basement. It was overstuffed, ugly, and not very functional. Form follows function, and both were missing in a big way! So I drew up some plans to remove the existing wall shelf and install base cabinets with a countertop and then some upper cabinets and open shelves. It'll be awesome! First things first: make a mess.
Good! That's done
Second, patch the drywall where the thoughtful owners prior just hung the wall cabinets over a gaping hole in the drywall rather than patch it. Projects (not partying) are such sweet sorrow...
 Ok! Patch is on it's way. Third, obtain cabinets for free from a nice neighbor who is remodeling her kitchen. This step leads to further steps because people don't often get rid of beautiful installation-ready cabinets for free... These outdated re-faces cabinets needed some love.
Step four - the inevitable step- hit pinterest, then hit the hardware store! Headboard wallpaper, craft sticks, and high-bonding primer will whip these cabinets into shape in no time.
 So there you have the progress so far. A messy basement, some half-finished cabinet doors, and some big dreams. It's gonna be EPIC.




Thursday, May 14, 2015

Today's dose of humor

Eli was singing "the ants go marching" and he got to five and couldn't remember what the ants were supposed to do. I was making suggestions (anything I remember ants doing while marching while I was growing up) but he insisted those we NOT the words he had learned in preschool. Unable to find just the right lyrics he went on to six, where the "ants go marching six by six, the little one stops to play and jix." Jix,,Eli? Are you sure? "Yes, jix! It's a kind of dance!" Jix, Eli? Are you SURE you're sure?? "Yes, we learned that in preschool!" So he keeps singing along, going back to one, and when he gets back to five he remembered, "oh yeah! The ants go marching five by five the little one stops to play and JIVE! ...it's a kind of dance. We learned that in preschool." So, apparently, if you replace the first letter of any number with a "j" it is a dance, as they teach you in preschool.

Ethan and Avery were (#shockingnotshocking) NOT getting along today. I split them up and as Avery walked away she lectured Ethan, "you a bad baby!" I corrected her and said, "Ethan is not a bad baby," but as she kept walking she muttered under her breath, "Ethan not a good baby..."

Monday, May 11, 2015

Heartbreakers

The thing we will miss most about having the Phelps as our neighbors are having our kids be best friends.  And there's just no getting around that change, not really any silver lining of growth that I see, so we adults are feeling sad for that loss.

Apparently the kids are feeling it, too, and we will catch them at odd moments talking about the move. Joe drove around with Eli for a bit last night - my car battery had died so he was recharging it and driving around had to include a Loaf N' Jug stop for hot chocolate - and while they were cruising Eli was being very quiet and just looking out the window. Joe asked what he was thinking about, and he replied "I'm just thinking about Amelia moving." Just having a quiet moment to be serious about the big change :(

Today Caroline and Addilyn were eating their gourmet lunch of Ramen noodles and Caroline said, "I am sad I'm going to forget about you." AHH! My heart! That is the biggest thing we have felt sad about, that the kids are still so young they will barely remember, or not remember at all, that we shared these years together. Caroline is right! She probably WILL forget! Addilyn responded, "I don't like moving," to which Caroline suggested she come live with us! She has space in her room for another bed and they could share the room and live happily ever after. "But," Caroline admonished, "we need to ask your mom. She would be sad if she didn't know where you were." They both agreed.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thoughts on Departing Neighbors

Kari and Jonathan are moving. If you know me well, or are friends with Kari on Facebook, you probably already knew this. Delivering the basic information isn't what I'm here for, though, I'm here to delve into the deeper meaning of it all so that when I look back I can say, "what the heck was I thinking? And why did I type that? And look at those spelling errors in spite of autocorrect..."

So when the opportunity came up for Jonathan to take over as manager of the Parker store it was news, but not BIG news. Nope. The moment we decided to move to Pueblo we knew it would not be big news for either of our families to move AWAY from Pueblo - Kari and Jonathan had been hoping to relocate for some time already, and we have never planned on Pueblo as our Forever Town (if you can plan such a thing. We hear it often happens accidentally). We had big talks before Joe took the job here at the Target DC that we were moving here for us, it was good for OUR family, and anything above ad beyond that was icing on the cake. Live in the same town? Icing. Live in the same PART of town? Very thick, chocolate icing. Live RIGHT NEXT DOOR? A scoop of ice cream on top! But no matter what, we are here for us. And really, we will be anywhere for us, and know that as Joe works toward a promotion to Senior Group Leader he is most likely working toward relocation. And that's ok! The only thing that truly matters to me is that we will be together as a family... the rest is just icing!

Similarly for Kari and Jonathan, when they were deciding to put an offer on the house next door we had big talks that we wanted them to buy the house for them. They were already house-hunting, looking for extra bedrooms and a different layout and more recently built, and that house fit all the criteria PLUS was a bargain, plus (icing!) came with way cool neighbors, but it needed to be what was good for their family. We didn't want them to buy the house if it was going to be financial strain to then rent their old home, or if the new one needed mass renovations they couldn't afford, or if they really didn't WANT to live next to us, but in the end it worked out!

And we agreed from day one that it was temporary.

In order to make the most of our temporary situation we hung out basically at the exclusion of the rest of the world. We ate lunch together nearly every single day, cooked our Double Dinners twice a week, hosted parties together, stayed up late scrapbooking together, bought the trampoline that broke Caroline's arm together, and it was wonderful! Even the broken arm.

So while the current situation provided wonderful opportunities, I see opportunities on the horizon for growth. When we weren't close to family in Thornton I had very close friends who became my family - they supported me in big and small ways! I called them for and about everything! They were there at the drop of a hat! And although we have great friends here I have not taken full advantage and strengthened those friendships in the same way because I didn't HAVE to, I always had Kari. Now is an opportunity to grow relationships. Here, Kari was always happy (or at least willing) to watch my kids while I ran errands so that I didn't have to take them or do it when Joe was home. Now will be a time to rely on Joe more regularly for having my back when I've got things I need to get done, because heck knows I have seen the light and I am not grocery shopping with 4 kids ever again if I can help it.

The only growth that I will miss will be my kids growing up with their cousins, and there is no replacement for that. SAD. But in spite of their lack of everyday interaction we can assure their growth of friendship in years to come as we plan family reunions and cousin summertime stay-overs and holiday gatherings and random get-togethers because the Rockies tickets were on crazy sale. Plus, then there's the novelty of seeing those cousins we haven't seen in so long :)

I will always always ALWAYS be thankful for the time we were able to spend together in Pueblo. There will never be another situation like it, and I like to think we squeezed the most out of it! But just because something good is gone doesn't mean there aren't more good things to come... and I look forward to them, whatever they may be.

War of Words

Ethan and Avery, only 6 months apart, 2.5 and 2 years old respectively, love to hate each other. They get along really well about once a month, and that day is GLORIOUS and the angels sing and mothers rejoice! But every other day there is much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth and finally giving up and going home to separate the two.

Just recently these two stinkers have taken it up a notch from simple stealing-your-toy-and-running-away or pushing-you-off-the-chair-I-wanted and now they are ARGUING. It it both maddening and hilarious!

I was curling my hair one morning and I warned the kids not to touch the curling iron. Avery will repeat whatever you say to her as a command to Ethan (even if it is Avery that I'm lecturing) so she turned to Ethan and told him, "don't touch, it's warm!" Ethan heard a decidedly different phrase and argued back, "it's NOT a worm!" Every: "It's warm!" Ethan: "it's NOT a worm!" After I finished laughing I had to intervene and explain to them both (after which Avery had to repeat what I said as a command to Ethan) that they were both right, they just hadn't understood what the other person was saying.

Phew! Crisis averted. For 2 second. They immediately began fighting over the bathroom door; Ethan wanted it open and Avery wanted it closed. I told them both to stop it, so Avery lectured Ethan, "you stop it!" Ethan screamed back, "I NOT stupid!" (sounding like "stop-id"). Avery: "you stop it!" Ethan: "I NOT stop-id!"

If you don't laugh, you'll cry...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Been a while

Sadly, although I often skip posting to blog because I write things down in my journal and like to avoid redundancy, I have lost my journal! My 5-year journal that I was 2-1/4 years into!

I am guessing I lost it somewhere in my house, but that doesn't take away the fact that it is missing and A) may be actually be lost forever (it wouldn't be the first thing to completely disappear, yet magically never leave my house), and B) leaves me with no journal to write in until I find the lost journal, or break down and buy a new one. I don't like either of those options, they require either a full-scale cleaning and decluttering of my home, or else that I purchase a new one when I have very recently repurposed (and thus used up) TWO journals thinking I would not need them since hey! I have my handy-dandy 5-year journal!

So if you see a small blue pocket-book sized 5-year journal laying in a gutter near you, check the inside cover. If it is mine, I have handily written my name and address and it is on your conscience if you don't give it back.

Meanwhile, here are some kid tidbits:

Caroline was listening to music in the car while we were running errands and as an 80's classic that she has never heard came on she sank into her seat, sighed contentedly, and pronounced, "I LOVE this song!"

Ethan enjoys pickles, which is great, but he often asks for them at odd hours and is stubborn about it. Like wanting a pickle before breakfast. But anyway, I was going to serve cucumber slices with dinner so I brought the cucumber to the table and Ethan declared, "Oh no! It's a BIG pickle!"

After long baths, when fingers and toes have turned into prunes, Ethan does not enjoy the sensation of the wrinkles (gotta say I'm with him on that one). He calls it "shrinky" and shows anyone and everyone that "my hands are shrinky!" One day, for no apparent reason, he started getting upset, saying "my hands are shrinky! my hands are shrinky!" After a minute he stopped running around, held out his hands for inspection and sighed, "no. My hands not shrinky." Phew! Dodged THAT bullet, Ethan!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pull your dang pants down

Ethan has been potty trained for almost 9 months now and he will still not pull his pants down or up for himself! It really is obnoxious, because that simple skill would mean he didn't have to interrupt meals, he could play cars continuously downstairs without traipsing upstairs for my aid, and he could do his business by himself in the middle of the night rather than screaming me out of my REM cycle for my help. But no! Any time his pants (even sweatpants, for crying in a bucket!) need taken down or pulled up, it's mom to the rescue.

So this morning when I was dragged out of bed to his shrill demand, "needa go peepee!" I found he had already wet himself a touch while waiting for me. I pulled out some new underpants for him, but he refused to step into them! Wouldn't take his foot off the floor. I was so confused! Finally he let me in on a little subtlety of his own: "maybe I don't like them."

Oh, MAYBE, is it?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Broken No More!

Caroline got her cast of today and the results are in - she's fixed! Her perfectly-snapped-in-two arm is now mostly-perfectly growing back together. It's only mostly perfect because the bones didn't mend in a straight line - they healed at an oblique angle. You can't tell from the outside, but the x-ray gave me a start; I thought, "oh no! They'll have to re-break it and re-set it!" but the orthopedist assured me it was just fine, and as she grows the bones will straighten back out. So I relaxed and took her home to jump on the trampoline. Maybe she can re-break it herself ;)

On Sunday Caroline was sitting with her Primary class, as usual, and I was in the front of the Primary room, as usual. USUALLY I'll let her sit with me for a minute or two at some point, but this particular day I was conducting the meeting AND teaching sharing time, so she needed to stay with her teacher. She called something to me from her seat, but I couldn't hear. She called again, and again I couldn't hear. I walked over to her seat; "what did you say, sweetheart?" Caroline replied, "I said you're a bad mom."

Caroline, and all my kids for that matter, have a habit (probably inherited from their mother) of beating around the bush to ask for something. I distinctly remember as a kid watching my mom mix up a pitcher of Kool-Aid; I hovered near and said, "that Kool-Aid looks REALLY good." At that moment my brother walked by and said something sweet and gentle, like, "just ask her if you can have a drink, you idiot!" It was an eye-opener! I knew what I had been trying to ask for, and of course my mom had amazing telepathic mom-powers and SHE knew, too, but that other people could read into my oh-so-secret language of subtlety?!? Shocker! And now I see my kids doing it all the time (like the Seagull I mentioned). Patrick will see a brownie at Kari's house and say, "I really wish my mom would make brownies at our house." OI (Obvious Interpretation): May I have a brownie? Eli will see leftover pizza rolls and say, "Caroline asked to be excused..." OI: can I finish her dang pizza rolls? Kari and I have great chuckles over the myriad ways they come up with for asking a simple question. Perhaps they think they, too, possess incredible powers of subtlety and we, as moms, have incredible telepathic powers.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hidden messages

Ethan's toddler talk is still sometimes difficult for me to understand (though Joe does a great job translating for me) but that's to be expected when they're 2. What throws me for a loop is when Caroline speaks in riddles... you need a translation of a whole different sort.

Caroline: I have a seagull.

Translation: I want some gum.

Here's how I came to that (correct) conclusion: She had a quarter. Quarter have Eagles on them (a seagull). A quarter can buy gum at the store. She wanted to go to the store to buy gum because she wanted gum right then. I handed her a stick of gum from my purse and the whole interaction was finished.
Translation: What a weirdo.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Skiing 2015

Two years ago in January, Joe and I had a wonderful time visiting each set of grandparents, then taking a few days for ourselves in Steamboat Springs while his folks watched the kids. Last year in January, we had a wonderful time visiting each set of grandparents and taking Patrick along to Steamboat Springs to learn to ski (Joe learned to ski then, too).

This year in January, we had a wonderful visiting each set of grandparents, but this time switching it up and taking our personal days at Powderhorn ski resort near Grand Junction. It's where I learned to ski, and where I had a blast skiing with friends as I got older, so I just knew it would be fantastic to go with Joe and Patrick!

This year we decided to take Eli, too - I learned when I was 5, he can learn at age 5, too! We set the dates up with my parents (my mom was set to babysit Caroline and Ethan), and my dad surprised us by planning those days off work to come with us!

It really worked out wonderfully. We went up on Tuesday, renting skis on the mountain, and immediately took the boys up the EZ-Rider lift. We settled on my dad helping Patrick, Joe skiing along to hone his skills, and me taking Eli because he's the newest skier and I could handle holding him. Well, we should have taken Eli skiing starting at any other age because at 5 he was as terrible as you'd expect any beginner to be, but he was neither old enough to be patient while learning nor small enough for me to physically manhandle. He'd fall down and it would take all my mental strength to get him to calm down, and all my physical strength to heave him back up so that he could ski 10 feet and then do it again. It took forever to get down that one hill! And then we had to do it again! After two runs Eli was ready to call it quits for the day, possibly the rest of his life, but it was only lunchtime so instead we bolstered him up with some sandwiches, chips, and Oreos.

After lunch we headed to the new Magic Carpet lift, a rubbery moving sidewalk that only goes 50 feet up a gently sloping hill - I had passed it by at first, seeing it was full of ski school kids and instructors and thinking maybe it was limited to them. Well, limited or not, we were going to use it because there was no way we'd make it down the bunny hill all day! (Turns out it wasn't limited, I was just paranoid of breaking rules). Once Eli gained confidence on the Magic Carpet he was so excited about skiing! Kept telling me he didn't need my help and whatnot.

So for a final run of the day, brimming with new-skier confidence, we went back to the EZ-Rider lift... and it was a failure. Eli fell down again and again (to be expected), but when he refused to get back up after a pretty good biff we settled for taking off his skis and walking the rest of the way. No need to end on a sour note of tears and tantrums.

We skied again on Friday, but this time left Eli at home and headed for the main lifts on the mountain. Patrick just adores my dad so they were a team and stuck close together all day, skiing the EZ-Rider and Take-4 lift - all the way to the top! Patrick did very well, though he felt pretty mentally and physically exhausted by the time we got down so he only went to the top once. Since my dad stuck with Patrick, Joe and I were free to wander the slopes so we headed over to the West End lift - he had laughed at my description of it as "old, rickety, and very bouncy." When we got on the lift he laughed even harder because my description was so apt! We bounced at least 8 feet up and down and clung to the plyboard seats when the lift stopped for one reason or another. What an adventure! We took one run down and it was harder than anticipated - Joe had a heckofa time navigating his turns on the steep slopes! So our next run up, our last run of the day, we wanted to take the other blue run from the West end... only it doesn't return you to the main resort! It only goes back to the West End lift! So one way or another we were going to have to take that first run, the one Joe had such trouble making it down. We'd had good runs all day and that one had been by far the worst. He was super annoyed. But up the lift and down the run we went, and the second time was awesome! Knowing what was in store he steeled his resolve and cut into those turns and really killed it! We met back up with Patrick and dad to head home, and Joe said his best and worst runs of the day were both those runs down West End.

We had such a great time, all our January trips have been SO much fun, we will undoubtedly keep up the tradition as the years go by.



Friday, February 20, 2015

Pink hearts and pink casts for Valentine's Day

Caroline broke her arm - on Valentine's Day! Our ward had a formal dinner for just the adults, so we had lined up a babysitter and fed the kids an early dinner so we could go get ready. After eating, all our kids headed outside for a quick jump on the trampoline before we took them home, and almost immediately we heard Caroline cry and Eli ran in with the news that she fell off the trampoline. The trampoline, bought from Christmas and set up only last month, has a large safety net all around it, but what is safety to kids? Make something foolproof and you will always find a bigger fool. Instead of jumping safely within the confines of the net our kids try running around the outside of the net, on top of the pad-covered springs, while someone inside the tramp tries to catch them. Needless to say, we adults have lectured the kids more than once on how this is a BAD IDEA. So with Caroline crying we head out warming up our palms to spank her - but the look of her arm was enough to turn a spank into a large dose of kids' Advil, as much comfort as we could give, and a trip to the ER (Caroline crying all the while). I am no doctor, I get queasy at any sign of blood and have never had or seen a broken bone in my life, but in spite of my inexperience it was very obvious just by looking that she had broken her right arm. Sure enough, x-rays confirmed she broke both her bones, snapped in half like pencils. They set it in a splint and Joe brought home a much-calmed-down little lady and a load of ice cream from DQ.

Monday she got her cast, and since it's difficult to get any shirt over it and nearly impossible to fit it in long-sleeved, she prefers tank-tops. In February. Should be interesting with the snow storm on the way!

Ethan was so enamored of his sister, her cast, or the whole situation that he wanted one, too. I supplied an ace bandage in a pinch, and he wore it all day.

With her lovely pink cast on she is doing very well, no pain at all, and has really adapted quickly to doing everything with her left hand - eating, drawing, opening doors, etc. We will get the cast removed in 3 weeks and they'll x-ray her arm again to see if it's healed or it they need to re-cast (her arm will be reduced in size from atrophy, so if she still needs the support of a cast they would have to re-cast it anyway).