Sunday, September 28, 2014

I am an Aunt! Again

I have had the only children on my side of the family for seven years.  SEVEN YEARS PEOPLE!  So you can imagine my excitement when Courtney and Jules announced that they were pregnant.  Not only was Courtney going to have the first non-Nielsen grandbaby, but she was going to deliver in St. George, TWO HOURS FROM MY HOUSE!  Not even caps lock can express my excitement.

I just wanted to be there so bad.  I wanted to meet my nephew and help Courtney adjust to the crazy role that is motherhood.  But she was due like a week after school started.  And I have four kids.  And my husband runs his own company so there isn't really a lot of "time off".  It was seeming more and more like a pipe dream.

But then Courtney went overdue by a week.  And in my anxiousness, Jon told me that I was going to go.  He was going to handle the kids.  I knew that if I asked, Jon would have taken the kids, but it was really hard for me to put that burden on him, knowing how crazy his schedule was.  But he just made it work.

I left Sunday after church.  I planned rides and friends for my kids on Monday and Tuesday morning so Jon could work until lunch.  Then he could work from home during nap time.  Then after school things were up to him.

I didn't plan on being there for the actual birth but when I got to St. George, Courtney was in happy epidural land and everyone was just sitting around watching TV.  So I joined them.  A few hours later they finally got her set up to deliver.  The doctor asked her to give a light push.  He literally stopped her halfway through the light push because the baby was already out.  It was amazing.

And oh my goodness he is amazing.  He looks so much like Courtney to me.  I got to spend the next two days helping to share as much knowledge about little babies as I could.  He made my little baby at home seem like not so much a little baby anymore.

While I was gone, there was a huge rainstorm that washed out a big section of the freeway between Vegas and me.  I had to take the long way through the Valley of Fire to get home but it wasn't too crazy of a trip.  I am so glad I was there.  I am so glad to be an Aunt again!

Jude is One

Oh my sweet baby Jude.  You may not be overly impressed with the effort I put into celebrating your first birthday.  But what I lack in decor and time, I make up for in my obsession with you.

You didn't even use your birthday as an excuse to take a break from your daily chore of emptying dishes onto the floor.  That is the kind of dedicated baby you are.  

You love to play outside with your brothers and sister.  It sometimes ends in tears (they are kind of rough) and it always ends in a very dirty little guy but you look so awesome crawling after them.

You have become a little wary about food.  You are willing to give things a try but a lot of things end up spit back out into my hand.  But you love steamed baby carrots, almost all soups, yogurt, and almost everything eaten by other people.  There is nothing that gets you crawling faster than someone eating something.  You are always up for a bite.
 The second thing that gets you crawling is loud noises.  The vacuum sends you reeling at an unprecedented pace.  When you spent the morning with my friend Leslee, she said you crawled like a speed demon when her big Mastiff dogs came into the room.  Of course from your view they probably looked like small horses.
 You have big beautiful grey/brown eyes.  They are very expressive and very curious.
 You are extremely good at baby sign language and you know a lot of words.  But when frustrated, you would much rather just scream at us.  Your dolphin pitch, as it has come to be known is both adorable and ear splitting.
 And the way you scrunch your nose when you smile?  I can't get enough of it.

 Whenever you are expecting something, like mom to finally give you that milk bottle, you pant like a puppy and it is the best thing ever.
 You also play a mean game of fetch.

 You sleep through the night almost all of the time now.  It is amazing for everyone.  You also go down for naps and sleep with very little fanfare.
 You LOVE stories in the rocking chair.  You always squeal in joy when I sit you in there and go reaching through the books.  But, you don't love my entire board book selection.  When I pick a non-favorite, you bat it out of my hand and reach down to pull out one you really want.  We have read five little ladybugs many many times.
You are such a happy little guy, unless someone wants to change your diaper.  You were so unreasonable that you sat in a poopy diaper for a long old time when the poor babysitter couldn't get you to hold still long enough to get it off.  

Every lady in church is in love with you.  You stare at them behind us until they catch your eye.  Then you give them your killer scrunch nose smile.  I frequently turn around to find half the ladies in the back of the church making faces at you.  

 You are also a big fan of frosting. The cake you could do without.  But the frosting... mmmmm.
 Jude, I am so glad to be your mom.
 Asher, knock it off.
 But seriously Jude, so glad to be your mom.  I love you buddy.

Rhode turns Six!

We had a lot of fun with Rhode's sixth birthday this year.  This was his first big birthday party with friends and I think he had a lot of fun.  

In the past, I have had plans to throw him birthday parties with friends, but there was a good while there that he didn't really have any little boy friends his age.  Scarlet had made a lot of friends through preschool and dance that we had started spending time with. But none of them had boys Rhode's age.  It wasn't really until this last year in preschool and now in kindergarten that he suddenly has this great group of friends.

I grouponed a birthday party package at Bounce U.  It was an okay deal.  The kids got to bounce for an hour with their special cosmo lighting.  My kids called it disco party lights.  All the guests got glow sticks and Rhode got a glowing sticker that said "I'm the Birthday Boy".  They jumped very happily the whole time.

Then we headed for the party room.  Rhode requested a color cake so I made his name out of fondant and he designed the rest.  

 Look at his tongue in this picture... that is from Jon for sure.  Mine is short and fat.  Sorry, weird side tangent.
 He also requested a tye dye cake.  Now this is easy enough to make on your own but he requested it from the Cake Boss store bought box.  It saved me a few steps so I went for it.  It was surprisingly tasty.  (I bought the frosting too.. don't tell anyone)
Rhode got some fun lego sets from his friends and from his Grammy.  He also got some money that he is putting towards a ticket to Legoland.  

 And the party guests, Brandon & Deonna Egbert, Harry Ongbongan, Ian, Calvin and Frankie Shrout, Blake Taylor.
Rhode said it was the best day ever.  But then the next day at school when his teacher asked him about his birthday, he said we did nothing.  When I asked him later about it, he said he just forgot.  Well buddy, it is now blogged.  Which means you will remember it forever.  Ha!

First Day of School

And then it was the first day of school.  Both of my kids are attending Discovery Charter School.  It is located less than ten minutes from my house.  I have made it from my front door to the front of the school in four minutes before.  The location is great for us.  They also run on a four day week so we have every Friday off.  I love this.  They are project based and do a lot of interactive stuff.  Sometimes I jokingly refer to it as our "hippie commune school" because they are pretty lax about everything, but it was a great fit for us this year.

Scarlet is in 2nd grade.  Her main teacher is Ms. Rivera but she spends a lot of her day with Ms. Madsen in the higher reading and math class.  

Scarlet loves school.  She comes home and talks my ear off telling me everything that happened that day.  She says almost every day, "Mom, this was the best day ever!"  She has a great computer teacher who has taught the kids how to make and edit movies.  Scarlet loves coming up with scripts and making the costumes.  She has raided the fabric closet multiple times.  

She is insisting on keeping her hair long this year, which I'm not against as long as she is willing to brush it frequently and doesn't scream at me every time I do her hair.  So far, it is going pretty well.  She is a big fan of the swept back bun.

And my little man is off to kindergarten this year.  It seems like a long time coming and way too soon all at the same time.  He is in afternoon kindergarten with Ms. Ayala.

Rhode also loves school, but he gets really miffed with his classmates and their bad behavior.  I get the full report of who got in trouble everyday.  Whenever I stop by to ask his teacher how he is doing, she says, "He is perfect.  No, seriously, perfect.  He just needs to keep being his perfect self."  I'll take it.

Rhode also gives me long afterschool reports on the day.  Last week, after the long report, he stopped talking suddenly and his face got sad.  He said, "But mom, there is something I need to tell you that is going to make you mad.."  I got pretty nervous wondering what he was going to confess.  He said, "Mom, my teacher, Ms. Ayala.... drinks tea."

I tried really hard not to laugh.  His face was so full of concern that I was going to be mad at his beloved teacher.  We had a good talk about how tea was not bad, we just don't drink it.  We don't do some things, but just because others do them, it doesn't make them bad people.  He seemed so relieved!  I love this guy and his sweet heart.


My family loves to go on bike rides... in theory.  It has been several years of getting to a point where we can ride together as a family.  None of my children have been natural pedalers, nor were they the kids who kicked off their training wheels and went zooming down the street.  We come by our bike ability a little less naturally and a lot more timidly.

So we occasionally pile the bikes in the back of dad's truck and head out to sunset park.  We usually slowly make it around one loop, in the meantime someone falls, someone breaks down because they are tired, someone gets frustrated because his sister is going fast, someone gets nervous and stops pedaling everytime we reach a curve... etc.  It takes a while.  

But this was the magical day.  The weather was perfect.  The bikes all had air in the tires.  And our two bike riders were riding like champions.  A perfect evening.

(P.S.  I am aware that my children aren't wearing helmets.  They own them. I promise.  But truthfully we never make it more than five slow feet without stopping usually and so I forgot them.  I will do better)

Jude rode in the sling with me on the first lap.  This was much easier to do when he was smaller.  My little fatty doesn't like being constrained nearly as much.  But as long as I never stopped pedaling he was happy.

 Scarlet is still the fastest of the crowd.  I think she crashed once but it didn't phase her at all.
Asher rode with dad on the first loop.  On the second loop I took pictures while Jon handled both babies.  Jude didn't love this so much.

Rhode was the star of the hour.  It was like he finally realized he did know how to ride a bike.  It was magical for everyone, but especially him.

Then we rode up to the top of the pavillion and rested.

Jude found the perfect drinking fountain, just his size!

It was meant for dogs of course...

We finished the ride with Jude in the basket.  It was his favorite way to ride.

One of those great family evenings.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

And the rest of the summer...

We did a few trips here and there, as has been documented, but then we had all this time in between that was just summer.  Especially August.  There was a lot of summer in August.  So here's what we did in absolutely nonsensical order.

I scored this sweet gig as a Mystery Shopper.  We spent all summer trying tasty treats, watching movies in the theater with concessions, dining out and having a blast all on the company's dime.

It was amazing.  The two non-kid included highlights were lunch at the Neiman Marcus Cafe with Leslee Rosenlof (my fish tacos were amazing, but nothing compared to the popover with strawberry butter)

and my ultra fancy dinner with Zannie Seguin at Tao.  The food was TO DIE FOR.  I ordered the Chilean Sea Bass under high recommendation (not a typical order for me) and it was the best fish I have ever eaten.  By the time dessert came around, we were bursting at the seams.  But the bread pudding and fortune cookie were so good, it was worth feeling like a taxidermied squirrel for an evening.  The fortune cookie was soft and filled with vanilla and chocolate mousse.  Then there was the enormous pile of fresh fruit to go with it.  Ah-mazing.  Such a fun night out.

My friend Alyssa and I came up with a summer calendar to keep our kids busy and to help motivate them to get things done.  I give myself credit, but in all reality she put the whole thing together and gave me the info so we could follow it too.  The kids earned tickets to attend different activities.  They earned tickets by putting dishes away after meals, doing their jobs, working in their school workbooks, reading, etc.  Then they could spend the tickets for activities.  It usually went pretty well.  We even had it set up so if one of the kids didn't earn their tickets, they stayed home with one of us while the other took the kids on the activity.  They must have been convinced we would do it though because I don't think anyone came up short.  There were a few last minute desperate ticket earnings but they all made it through.  We went to different library activities, splash parks, 

went swimming at different pools, and even went to the Children's museum.

We got to go to a library magician show and Rhode got called up to be the assistant.  He did a really good job.  He was wearing a thumb sucking glove to remind him not to suck his thumb.  The magician kept asking him if he had hurt his thumb and Rhode just ignored the questions.  It was pretty funny to watch. 

We signed up for two summer reading programs this year.  Our regular library has a great childrens section but their reading program is pretty lame.  For every five books you read, you get a free book.  But the book are either old donated books or library rejects that never get checked out.  We found a few "okay" ones but it was a pretty slim crowd.  For finishing the club, you get a gold medal.  But at the Henderson library district, you get prizes along the way (which included toys or even coupons for free treats at good stores) and in the end you get to pick out a brand new book and you get a free ticket to the Shark Reef.  Not only that, but they had an Adult summer reading list so I got a free drink at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and won a summer prize package in their drawing.  Totally worth the extra drive.

Jude got all kinds of big this summer.   I think of things all the time that I want to say about him on my blog so I don't forget it, but I am sure I am going to forget most of them anyway.  He crawls all over the house looking for someone to play with. I put the baby gate on the stairs up for like a day but with so many little kids it was such a pain getting everyone over it.  So we just taught Jude to crawl up the stairs.  Actually, it was mostly Scarlet who taught him.  But he is really good at it.   He has taken a few tumbles but carpeted stairs make that pretty surviveable.  Now he just barks at the top for someone to come help him get down.  He gives the best smiles when we finally come fetch him.

Jude still loves food but he would much prefer feeding himself.  I have even given up trying to feed him things like yogurt.  He is only interested if I'm willing to hand over the bowl and spoon.  Messy?  Yes.  But hey, what is child rearing if not a large stream of messes?

This baby is so good at baby sign language.  I had only been showing him some signs off and on for a few days when all of a sudden he was staring me right in the eye while clearly signing to me.  I've never seen anything like it.  He has days when he loves to sign and days when he loves to scream but he definitely knows what he wants.  He knows "more", "eat", "milk" and "all done."

I have also been trying to wean him for a while now but he was not taking a bottle very well.  He decided formula was a definite no so I started to do a little whole milk every now and again.  Jude was only kind of interested.  After one very long night where I realized I just wasn't making enough milk to keep him full, I warmed the milk in his bottle out of desperation (I always give my babies cold bottles).  He devoured it.  And in three days, he was weaned.  All he wanted was warm milk.  Babies...

Jude hates to get his diaper changed but he will do anything you want if you are willing to sing Old Macdonald.  He loves that song.  It has saved me from many escaping poopy bottom crawl away attempts.

He is a beast at church.  A beast.  Through all of sacrament meeting, he wiggles and crawls and screams and fights everyone and everything.  We start at 9 a.m. which is right about when he takes his first nap.  But he won't sleep for me.  He won't even pretend to settle down when I am holding him.  I teach Gospel Doctrine second hour and Jon was gone for several weeks in a row.  My friend Karleen would take him during second hour for me.  He usually left me unhappy but she would somehow get him to sleep and return him to me happy as a clam.

One Sunday while Jon was gone, Karleen was sitting in the row directly behind me.  He fought me all through the meeting.  As soon as the prayer was over, I stood up and handed him to Karleen so I could gather kids and stuff.  He wrapped his arms around her neck, laid his head on her ample bosoms and was out cold before she left the room.

Asher has almost decided to stop hurting Jude.  It has been awhile since he has randomly bit him.  But I kept catching him holding onto Jude's upper arm.  I couldn't figure out what he was doing.  Finally I realized he was picking at Jude's rash.  He has a keratin buildup on his arm so basically an ongoing rash on one arm all the time.  Asher likes to pick at it for him.  He does it almost absent mindedly.  Just sucking his finger and picking at his brother's arm.  I have almost put a stop to it...

Asher turned three this summer and the switch from two to three was distinct and dramatic.  I have heard that kids go through a hormone switch at three that is similar to their teenage years.  Well that would make a lot of sense in his case.  All of a sudden, life is hard and there are a lot of tears involved.  Asher loves to watch shows.  It makes him easy to take on car rides because that is where most of our show watching happens.  He is never very happy to get out of the car, but he would get over it quickly.  But just about a week after his birthday, I took him out of the car crying and screaming because I had turned off the show.  He then cried for the next 20 minutes in the house.  20 minutes!  And there have been many more instances of this nature.  He had to leave nursery today because he cried for 15 minutes straight for no apparent reason.

On the plus side, he is oh my goodness cute and says the funniest things all day long.  He has picked up really funny phrases like, "Speaking of Scarlet, where is she?" when nobody has been talking at all.  He is terrible at doing chores and usually pouts through all of the ones I do make him complete.  But he loves to be in the backyard and spent many hours out there, even in the hot sun.

He was a little nervous about swimming this summer.  Not the no-fear attitude we had to save him from last summer, but he still loved jumping in the pool.  He got to take swimming lessons and be in the preschool class.  It was a little difficult to get him to attend some days, but I don't back down easily.  One time they had lined up out of the pool to jump in to their teacher.  Asher was standing behind a kid who was a head taller than him.  Out of nowhere, he reached around and gave the kid a big hug and kissed him on the back.  You could tell the kid was totally weirded out.  I came over and extracted him from his line friend.

His two favorite shows are Leapfrog and Power Rangers.  Thanks to the former, he knows all of his letters and their sounds.  Thanks to the latter, he really likes punching people.

I don't seem to have any other pictures of Rhode from this summer...  Maybe that's because Rhode is so cool about everything.  Even though Scarlet decided this was the summer of tormenting her younger brother, Rhode was such a sweetie almost all the time.  He shares a room with Jude and I catch him playing with him in his crib all of the time.  He is so agreeable about everything. The only thing that occasionally brings out his unreasonable side is asking him to clean his room.  He finds the task impossible to do alone.  There has been multiple times when he has chosen to spend an entire morning in his room while we do fun things without him because he won't pick up the 10 items on the floor.  When he finally gets to the task, it usually takes about 10 minutes to finish.  He then remembers sheepishly that it makes a lot more sense to just clean the room the first time.  But it is a lesson he has had to learn quite a few times this summer.

Rhode loves having friends over and going to friend's houses.  He is a good friend too.  Scarlet can usually be heard bossing around whomever is over but Rhode always seems to want to go with the flow.  He has been reading all summer and started chapter books.  He loves Captain Underpants and My Weird School.

I learned an important thing about my daughter, Scarlet this year.  She has an amazingly creative mind and loves to use it to create and decorate.  She is also the messiest person in our family.  Not only does she leave a wake of items everywhere she walks, she also cannot see an empty room without coming up with an elaborate fort plan.  She has turned her bedroom with Asher into what we refer to as the "Hobo Tent Village" or "Occupy Wall Street".  My summer was filled with cushionless couches, empty blanket bins, toyless toy boxes, and missing mom items from all over house.  My house was also filled with tea parties, picnics, restaurants, amazing games of pretend, and lots of sister and brother play time.

I miss her while she is at school... but it is nice to still be able to see my carpet every evening.

Scarlet spent the summer reading millions of fairy books along with Junie B. Jones, Ivy & Bean, Judy Moody, and a few other more creative titles.  She is a really fast reader and would stay up all night if I let her.  

Sometimes the days were long, sometimes we drove each other to the near reaches of insanity, but it was really a fantastic summer.