Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Catch-All and Therapy

This post is a catch-all for any events or activities that have transpired since Peter was born and school starting that I haven't gotten to on the blog yet. Items will be listed in no particular order because I'm tired and my nerves are more than a little frayed today.  Which leads me to my next reason for blogging late at night when the baby is asleep, as I should be.  Therapy.  It was one of those days today.  I don't care to go into details, as it would further stress my fragile state of mind, but suffice it to say, my oldest and youngest children have both moved me to tears more than once in the last week.  Writing is cathartic for me and I do need to relax before I go to bed.
George is getting to do something that none of his brothers or sisters have done.  He's going to school!  Well, not exactly, but he is doing a little neighborhood preschool/playgroup some moms in the neighborhood organized.  They meet Tuesdays and Thursdays for an hour and a half and do a few little field trips over the year.  So far, he likes it and I've remembered to take him and pick him up every day!  Small miracles!  No, that's not exactly true, he sometimes walks home with a neighbor, so I suppose I can't even take that much credit.  With seven families participating, it's not too much of a commitment to host at our house every few weeks.
Okay, this next one is big news!  Bethany auditioned to move up to the highest level of the  preparatory orchestras with Lyceum Orchestra program.  There are four preparatory orchestras before the top Philharmonic Orchestra-- which you cannot possibly get into unless you are at least ninth grade (she is in eighth).  She has worked very hard the last year and improved so much in technique and sound quality and we really hoped she would make it into Symphonic Strings.  AND SHE DID!  She was worried after her audition because she said it all went well, except the sight-reading portion-- never her strong suit.  Fortunately, we didn't have a long wait because one of the proctors came out immediately and told her she'd made it!  Oh, joy!
We called up our friends, the Butterfields, the night of the BYU/Texas game a little while back and begged seats on their couch to watch.  They kindly hosted us for a game that was so exciting to watch, it actually had Abe rolling on the ground at times.  Those were the time he wasn't being a very attentive father and helping with a somewhat fussy Peter.
Sometimes Cannon talks and sings too much.  He has yet to learn the virtue of silence.  And Faith has a hard time sitting still and is constantly doing handstand and headstands and back bends and cartwheels.  But how can I express my joy when we saw them walking home from church hand in hand.  Oh, my heart!  It is too much.  They are best friends and they make me happy.  And neither of them have moved me to tears anytime in the recent or distant past.
The girls have been working on a project.  I think Elinor is using a pocket knife to whittle her stick.  It could be one of my paring knives.  I hope it's a pocket knife, but I suspect otherwise.
Bethany wrapping a handle on her handmade bow.
Nice form, Faith.  I'm not sure why making bow and arrows required bringing so much greenery into the garage.  We've never really prided ourselves on our neat and tidy garage.  I'm slowly coming to peace with the fact that that likely will not change anytime soon.
 Here are the final result, including homemade quivers full of arrow.  Talk about resourceful-- the quivers are made from cereal boxes covered in cut-off sleeves of old shirts.  The arrows and taped together bamboo BBQ skewers with twine covered tips.  Such artists!
Tragically Elinor's bow broke moments before this picture, but she has since created a new one.
This past Sunday was our Primary program in Sacrament meeting.  After heading up the Primary program for four years as Primary president, I can't tell you what a treat it is to get to just sit and enjoy it.  We invited Dad and Bev to come down and enjoy it with us and I finally got a really good picture of the Peters, minus my brother in Virginia.  Someday I will get all three of them together.
And speaking of my Dad, he took the girls on a boating/fishing expedition yesterday.  They left empty handed, but enjoyed being out on the boat-- even if they did have to leave the house at 5:30 AM.  Although, perhaps it wasn't so bad for them to get up so early.  Bethany and Elinor, in their exuberance for the new school year, have been setting alarms and getting up at 6:00 to start on their school work.
Who are these children?  I swear, I couldn't get myself out of bed for an 8:00 class in college! 
While the ladies were away, it was just mommy and the boys.  You know your family is getting large when half your children are gone and your family is still markedly bigger than an average family.  Exciting times!  Well, I'm just going to say it-- was handsome boy-children I have!
George, when running towards the ball in soccer-- arms stretched out behind him, mouth open yelling a war cry.  Do you suppose he is trying to intimidate the other 3 and 4 year olds?
Soccer can be dangerous and a hit to the mouth took him out of the game for a bit.
He really was happiest sitting in the shade of his dad "taking a rest".  He takes a lot of rests because as he said, "I'm just really hot!"  That being said, when he plays he shows markedly more aggression (in a good way) than any other Fox child to date.  Maybe as the season progresses and temperatures cool he will play more.  It's not that the coach tells him to take breaks.  Rather, although this coach is super nice and encouraging to the boys, he seems to have trouble keeping enough players on the field.  They all want to take rests.  Preschool soccer is funny to watch, but the real entertainment is watching the parents trying to get their kids to get out on the field and pay any attention to the ball.  I recall Cannon doing air-bending at this age and just wanting to talk to the coaches and referees.
Clark won't like me for this, but if not this, then something else.  Here was my biggest laugh of the week.  In a grammar exercise he had to capitalize a movie title.  Translation:  "Fella Ship a da Ring (Cajun Style)"  or Fellowship of the Ring.
It was almost as funny today, when listening to a Disney channel on Pandora, and "Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo" came on. The lady is singing a whole string of non-sensical words, and he said, "That poor old woman can't speak English.  She is trying to speak English, but she can't do it."  Funny guy.

Clark, if you read this post, please don't be mad at me.  Someday your posterity will thank me.

Here's to a calmer day tomorrow.   Did I mention I can't even soothe myself with chocolate?  It upsets Peter's tummy and we try not to do anything that upsets Peter.  You'd think I could handle babies crying better after all this experience, but I think I've gotten worse and have a very low tolerance for a crying Peter.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

One Month and Counting

Peter was one month old on Thursday.  Unfortunately he was a wee-bit fussy that day, thus dampening our celebration.  Fortunately on Friday and today he's been just lovely.  That's how it goes-- someday are smooth sailing and others not so much. 
I suppose it is stating the obvious to say how much we love and are enjoying him.  He was born into a family with a LOT going on, but the great thing with a new baby is you are forced to slow down and take care of the baby.  The baby must be fed, the baby must be changed.  It draws independence out of those who are quite capable of taking care of themselves, but are accustomed to having things done for them.  It is an adjustment for everyone and some handle those adjustments more easily than others.  But it is good for everyone.
Peter is a pretty good sleeper at night and when he takes good naps during the day he is quite calm when awake.  It's been a little while since we had a baby and while some parts are like riding a bike-- you don't forget-- other parts I could use a refresher course on.  Like when they are hungry verses tired.  I think we might be settling a little bit into a routine.  *knock on wood*
Peter's favorite sleeping position.
It was no easy thing to get Peter here.  I had two miscarriages and then a difficult (for me) pregnancy.  But I would easily do it all over again to have him in our family.  I has been a challenging month with a new baby and starting school and fall activities.  I keep reminding myself that it is okay to be stretched and uncomfortable at times.  I'm pretty sure I've felt overwhelmed after every single one of my babies, but overtime we've all grown and developed skills to handle our load.  Heavenly Father wants these children to come to earth to get bodies and progress.  This is his plan.  He provides us with what we need to care for them.   A good friend recently shared this quote by C.S. Lewis,
  "Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work."

I could not agree more
And here's one more that reminds me what a blessing it is to be a mother.  Neil A. Anderson said,
"Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling.  It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in.  It is what God gave you time for."

Why Do I Do This To Myself?

Why do I do this?  I am not referring to our choice to homeschool or have a large family.  Although,those could reasonably be questioned this week.  No, I am asking the question: Despite my better judgement, why do I keep signing children up for soccer? 
Not serious soccer, mind you.  No, this is a month and a half, $40 commitment on a low pressure team, but still, it's soccer.  And in case I haven't mentioned it before, I don't really like watching my kids play soccer because... how can I say this without hurting anyone's feelings... we stink at soccer.  We lack killer, agressive instinct.  I blame Abe.  In little kids soccer the children move in an amoeba form up and down the field.  The action is happening in the center of the blob.  My children are consistently on the periphery of the blob.  Once they are old enough to play actual positions, they are, without exception, defenders.  
So back to the question, Why do I sign them up?  Here are a few possible explanations.

1.  They beg for it.  As I've said before, they all like soccer in theory.  Being a part of a team, matching uniforms, treats after the game.  It lures them in.  The excitement of the first game is quickly overshadowed by the reality of running up and down the field for 40 minutes in either freezing wind or burning heat.  Then they are the first to volunteer to sit out when the coach asks who needs a break.  It was not 10 minutes into the game when George left the game, came to me and said, "Is this real-life soccer?  Maybe I don't really like soccer."  This could be a long month and a half.
2.  We homeschool.  We do enough wierd things that set them apart from their peers.  Believe it or not, it is not my intention to deny them all normal American childhood experiences.  I think it is good for them to have some of the same rites of passage as many of their friends.

3.  Abe and I both played on little league soccer teams when we were kids.  We probably stunk too.  I know I did-- I was a defender for sure!  Interestingly, we were both on teams called "The Red Devils".  Abe felt bad about the name.  I think I came up with the name. 
4.  The older kids, with the exception of Clark, have all gotten to play soccer.  I don't want the younger kids to feel that Mom and Dad ran out of steam with the younger kids.  That will most likely be true to one degree or another, and the kids will probably by better off for it, but I shall do my best to fight against nature anyway.
 5.  I forget over time just how much I don't enjoy spending my Saturday mornings at the soccer field.  Perhaps that is why we only do soccer about every other year.  We do it one year-- I swear it off the next year--- another year passes--- the kids beg and I succumb.  Maybe if we signed up every year we would be more skilled and then I'd like it better. Hmm.
6.  Although I complain, perhaps, secretly, I like spending my Saturday mornings at the soccer field.  I must like getting out of the house and getting to sit outside enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.  That is, when it's not freezing cold or burning hot. 
7.  It is crazy, ridiculous, insane, ludicrous, and foolish that a mother with a newborn baby would sign three children up for soccer (games are all at the same location).  Add to it the fact that Abe works every Saturday mornings and is not available to help at all.  So I am left to my lonesome to manage the schedules, uniform parts, cleats and shin guards, treats, blankets and folding chairs.  But let me tell you about the Saturday morning alternative.  We stay at home while I sit on the couch nursing the baby, asking in my "patient mom" voice for help cleaning up the house, while kids watch cartoons, and the mess piles up and slowly morph into "evil mom".   At least on a school day, the kids have school work to keep them busy.  As it turns out, I schedule more activities for my children when I have a new baby, because I don't trust my ability to manage home life as well.  I am not able to organize us to go do active, fun things on our own.  I find I need to utilize other sources for our activities for a little while.  Consequently, I dropped Clark and Bethany for Stake flag football at 8:30, sent Elinor with a carpool to volleyball at 10:00 and sat for three hours while Faith, Cannon, and George had their first games this morning.
8.  And the last possible reason I keep doing this to myself... Get ready for it... Everybody else is doing it!  Yeah, I'm not above a little following the crowd from time to time.
Don't tell my kids.

---I would like to say that Faith showed a little more aggression in today's game than I expected.  She even played as a forward for a little while.  Perhaps there is hope.

---And Cannon showed quite a bit of hustle.  So if soccer doesn't work out, perhaps he has a future in track and field.

---I don't have much positive to report about George's first day...  Well, he was really cute.  Oh, here's something to report about George's team.  A while back Cannon had a girl on his team who had the most obnoxious soccer dad on the planet.  He yelled "advice" to his less than talented daughter all season.  He was intense-- behaving like grown men at a college football game.  Heaven help me, his son is now on George's team. 


Monday, September 1, 2014

In Other News...

My Dad took the boys (minus Peter) fishing all day on Saturday.  Sadly, they had no luck catching fish-- except for one that Cannon caught but had to be thrown back in because of it's size.  I'm sorry for their sakes that their was no success with the fish, but I'm pleased with the day because Grandpa's boat didn't capsize, no one fell overboard, and there were no stinky fish to clean and cook.  All of the adventure and none of the mess.
Abe is "Headache Man!"  Bethany got this beauty mask as a little gift from girls camp.  It is a plastic mask with little gel- like beads. The idea is to chill it and then put it over your eyes to reduce puffiness or swelling.  But Abe got one look at it and bought it off of Bethany to be used as a headache treatment-- as opposed to just a cool wet rag on his forehead. 
We started school last week-- I know it may seem a little crazy with the new baby, but to have everyone busy working on school work is easier to manage than no focused activities.  Cannon and Faith were so excited for Friday because that was the day to get out their Lego Story Starter Kit they got for their technology class.  There is software to go along with it to publish stories of their creations.
Ninja Cannon is a fierce fighter. 

Here is something fun.  Faith's latest gymnastics achievement-- her round-off back-tuck.  She's been working on this for many months, but it hasn't involved the bodily trauma learning her aerial did.
Yee-haw!  Giddy-up horsies! (Cannon and Faith are the horsies).
Not such a clear picture, but I had to post it.  Abe took Elinor and Faith with him to work today at Soldier Hollow for a Sheep Dog Championship.  I had a pretty good night's sleep, so I was feeling adventurous myself.  I took Clark Bethany, Cannon, George, and Peter to Thanksgiving Point to the Dinosaur Museum.  I figured if things got rough with Peter, Clark and Bethany would be able to handle the little boys. 
  I'm not sure why this made me so happy, but I loved watching Clark and Bethany enjoying themselves with the same exhibits that entertained them so much as little kids.  They worked together to build a magnetized dinosaur skeleton puzzle and they had fun working at the water erosion table building a dam. 
  Clark looked at the exhibits he hadn't been to for a few years and said, "Everything is smaller than I remember it."  Yes, well, you are quite a bit bigger than you were then. 
 I suppose it was just nice to have a little flash back in my mind to yesteryear when I was more capable of meeting all of their needs.  These teenagers--they've done gone and grown up on me! I suppose having another baby won't keep anybody else from growing up.
Oh, curse you, postpartum emotions!!!!!! Can anybody hand me a tissue?

Okay, onto something that could make me cry, but for a different reason.  Elinor called me from the Sheep Dog show she was at with Abe and Faith.  And I quote, "Mom, um, they have dogs here you can adopt and... no, don't say anything yet... and they are already fixed, so they can't have puppies."

My response:  Elinor, is this a real phone call?  Are you actually asking me for a dog?  Where is Dad?  Is he there?  Did he tell you to call me?  Let me talk to Dad.

Me:  Abe, did you tell Elinor to call me and ask for a dog?  Why would you do that?  You don't want a dog!  Why must I be the one to say no.  Please go inform her that there will be no dog, because you said so.

Later that day, Bethany says to me, "Mom, I don't want this to happen and it would be super sad, but if you died, I know we could get Dad to agree to let us get a dog."
Yes, Bethany, you probably could. 
I'm telling you, this mothering thing takes some pretty thick skin. 
When the boys were fishing on Saturday, Bethany worked a farmer's market with Abe, so I was left with these two beauties.  I took them to my new favorite place to eat-- Pizzeria Limone.  I don't know that they were very impressed, but after three weeks of being pretty home bound I was ready for a change of scenery.  
And speaking of three weeks-- Look who is three weeks old today!! We are enjoying him so much, but we do have a wee little problem.  He hates his car seat-- sad, sad, heart-breaking, lip-quivering crying.  What are we to do?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Forced to Resurface

One of the great things about having a baby is you have a really good reason/excuse to check out of life for a while.  Not like a drug-induced-coma-check-out, but like you have no responsibilities or obligations to anyone.  Don't feel up to going somewhere?  Don't go!  You're kind of a crazy person if you do jump right back into life.  Aren't you supposed to be home resting, keeping your baby away from crowds and germs?  Your clothes don't fit?  Just keep wearing your maternity clothes and pajamas-- after all, you just gave birth.  You don't feel like cooking?  Don't-- have your husband pick up some take-out on his way home from work.  You need to rest and recover.  Your baby was up four times during the night?  Just sleep when he sleeps during the day.

Isn't this pretty much what those dreadful pregnancy/parenting magazines tout?  And I'll tell you what, it is great advice for the first week home or longer for a first time mom with no other children at home.  When you have six other children ages 4-15, that is just not going to work.  Let me address the problems with such a postpartum plan of attack.

----"Don't feel like going somewhere?  Don't go!"-- for the first week this is a very reasonable approach.  For the first week you can camp out in your room, banishing everyone, refusing phone calls or visits.  But just because your world-- mentally and physically-- has been turned upside down does not mean your children's lives have ceased.  You decided to have another baby and believe me, the children have sacrificed for the family quite a bit already-- they lived with you for nine months of pregnancy (not pretty).  The children do not want to hibernate for a month.  They still have activities they need rides to.  It is best if your husband still has a job when you resurface, so he most likely is not available to taxi the teenagers around.  So, everybody, load up in the van, it's time to go.

----"Don't have any clothes that fit?  Wear your pajamas."  Once again, all bets are off for the first week, but after that you really must get dressed.  Teenagers prefer that their mother wear clothes when going to the store and when their friends come over.  If it calls for a quick trip into Kohl's to find some shirts that fit, so be it.  I am a big proponent of nursing, but I can understand that on some level it might be embarrassing for a 15 year old boy to witness his mother nursing a baby for hours a day.  Blame society.  Nevertheless, let's not exacerbate the embarrassment with ill fitting black stretchy pants.  And perhaps comb your hair and throw on a little makeup for good measure.

----"Don't feel like cooking?  Call for take-out."  If you are so blessed to live by many good people who will kindly feed you and your army for a week, then graciously accept their generosity and enjoy the feasts.  It is, however, unreasonable to hope that it will continue long term.  Take-out  is yummy, but pricey for a family of 8.  A Little Caesar's pizza here and there can help out in a pinch, but good, quality, sit-down family dinner is the grease that makes the family roll.  You can't go more than a couple of weeks without cooking real food before things start to deteriorate fast.  And you can't (or at least we can't) eat out for long before it really pinches that pocket book.  So, you can have older kids help out with food for little ones for a little while, and every man for himself works for a little while, but if you want happy children-- FEED THEM.
----"Your baby was up four times during the night?  Sleep when he sleeps".  This is fantastic advice for a first time mother.  But it's really not that great for even the first week with every subsequent child.  A house with six children is loud.  Not necessarily loud with fighting, just loud with doors opening and closing, toilets flushing, cupboards and dishes, children playing, movies, video games.  And mother nerves are seriously frayed with a new baby and sleep can be elusive in the best conditions.  Yeah, you're probably not going to sleep during the day unless everyone goes to friends' homes.  Not a bad a idea I might add.  However, farming 6 kids out is considerably harder than farming a couple here or there.  No, I think praying for sleep at night is the best bet.

The good news is also the bad news.  Eventually the baby will sleep through the night and the sleep deprivation will end.  But then you won't get to snuggle that soft, warm little bundle in the quiet of the night.  Eventually, they will settle into a more reasonable pattern of nursing, but then you won't have the reason to just sit and stare at them for hours on end.  Eventually you won't change 15 diapers a day, but you won't get to kiss his little feet and rub his little froggy legs.  Eventually the hormonal surges will calm down, but then you won't be so easily overcome and moved to tears just thinking about the blessing from heaven you are beholding.  

Lagoon 2014

Abe took the kids to his work's Lagoon Day the Saturday after Peter's birth.

HALLELUJAH!!!

You know I love and enjoy my peeps as much or more than the next mom, but I was happy for some quiet time to snuggle my baby and catch up on some sleep.
I'm posting pics for family history's sake, but since I wasn't there I don't have a lot of commentary to share.
My loves.
George wanted to be brave and go on the haunted house ride with his daddy.
In the morning they split up and went on their own age appropriate rides, but they did some all together in the afternoon.
Mmm... overpriced amusement park ice cream.  Dad is so much nicer than mom.
 
 And someone has that Dad wrapped around her little finger.  I recently told him he is spoiling Faith.  Do you know how he responded?
"Yeah, I know."
You know you are getting older when the train ride is the best attraction in the whole park.

Our good friends, the Glenns were also at Lagoon on Saturday, so our kiddos had fun going on rides with friends and siblings.

At this point Abe was my hero-- taking all the kids to Lagoon, leaving me alone for a whole day with my baby.  Then on Sunday he took them all really early to Stake Conference so they could get seats because Elder Bednar was there.  And as if that wasn't enough--- he took them all away on Monday for several hours to Seven Peaks Water Park (he had gotten free tickets).

There are no words.  That is real love.  Love for his children and love for me.  Someone should write a song about that kind of love.
They came home exhausted and I felt that they had had sufficient fun to last for the next few weeks, since I will not be overseeing any fun for a while.
Best friend brothers.
And Clark, Bethany, and Elinor, you three can tease and torment one another all you want... I can see that you quite like each other as well!  No use arguing otherwise:)