Friday, September 30, 2011

"Squishy"

Squishy. That is what he is right now; one big ball of squish, which is what makes him so much fun to hold. Alongside Ashlee, Jacob has proven to be an excellent extra pair of arms. It's so convenient to have one of the kids hold Anthony for a few minutes at a time while I finish making a meal, finish a chore, or tend to one of the other children. Everyone loves holding him in the morning when he's at his best and they usually flock to my bedroom to do so. We will be enjoying the last few months of having an in-arms baby.


A Girl and her Accessories

There's no denying innate gender attributes when you see things like this. This girl knows how to accessorize! She even managed to make it down the stairs without stumbling... now that's class.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

4 Months

Today marks Anthony's four month birthday. Despite my intentions to keep him little, he is growing big, big, big. Perhaps all the snuggling and nursing are contributing factors. Who can blame me for wanting to keep this last baby in my arms... and bed? Yes, I take full responsibility for him not yet sleeping through the night. It's for purely selfish reasons, I admit. This is the first time I have not felt the pressure to sleep train before another baby comes, and I kind of like it.
See those thighs? I make straight cream. And on certain days probably chocolate milk. I can gauge the amount of sleep I get on my cravings for chocolate the next day. But there again, with a last baby, I'm not too concerned about losing weight. It seems to be coming off on its own just fine, never to be re-gained again! Running will help with that.
Life is good.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend

The weekend began with Ashlee's first craft faire. She's worked hard all year building inventory, and we were happy to find a good "beginner's" fair with a low vendor's fee and just the right turnout. She sold about 8 of her hats and came out ahead, as well as gained some good experience, so we counted it a success.




On Saturday afternoon my best friend from High School, Karen, and her new baby Des came by for a visit. We had our babies two weeks apart, and this was their first meeting. Des was such a snuggler and I wanted to hold him all day. Unfortunately their visit was short due to the fact that they had to make it up the hill in time for dinner. I was definitely sad to see them go.
They make such a cute little family. Clint and Karen have adapted to parenthood very well.
Rachel's new thing is to want to hold baby Anthony. She saw him lying on the floor the other day and became very frantic, wanting him in her arms immediately. She became frustrated when she couldn't pick him up and began circling him in a very unsettled way until I sat her on the couch and placed him in her lap. She gets this cute dazed look on her face when she is holding him. A mother in training.
Ashlee donated some of her unsold items from the craft fair to her siblings. Here's Anthony trying on his pumpkin hat before church this morning. With fall in the air, he'll be wearing it before too long!
We had some family over for Sunday dinner tonight. Jeff and Barbara's baby, Leah, got a first real laugh out of Anthony. It always amazes me how well babies and children relate to each other; very cute indeed!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jazz Troupe

This is the dance Ashlee has been working on in her Jazz Troupe class. She began in August, so they've composed this dance in less than two months; I have been amazed at their progress. Unfortunately she will be missing her first performance because it is on a Sunday, but they are scheduled to perform at a King's game during half-time in March, which we are very excited about. Her teacher, Wendy, is the one sitting in back on the stool with the black shirt.
video

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting Better

So I know it's early in the week, but so far things seem to be getting better. I definitely felt more balanced today. Tommy and Vera came over and gave us a Family Home Evening lesson last night, which was a God-send. Having them here eased my burden so much and gave me something to look forward to despite Forrest being gone. Vera held the baby during dinner, and afterward they helped with clean-up and getting the kids ready for bed. She does not yet have kids of her own, but when she does I can't wait to repay her.
We started our school day today with a timed writing assessment for both Ashlee and Jacob. For Jacob this was like pulling teeth at first, but getting started is always the hardest part and once he got into his story the rest was pretty smooth sailing. We have our first meeting with our new ST, Travis, tomorrow. Jacob's story was about a pair of magic shoes, and Ashlee's was a fictional autobiographical narrative about getting a new job.
For this girl, writing is not a problem. There's never a lack in the self-motivation department (sometimes an overabundance, but never a lack.)
In addition to our busy week, Ashlee is preparing for her first craft fair to be held this Saturday at Light of the Hills Church. Here she is pricing all of her items.
And what does a 3 year old do in the middle of school work? Play "mom and dad" on the kitchen floor (this is the name of her and Noah's little role-playing game.)
I went for a 3 mile run tonight; my first in four weeks. Afterward I had energy to come home and clean the house after the kids were in bed. With Forrest being gone as much as he is, I am learning to outsource. I have a friend from church coming to take the kids tomorrow afternoon (at least a couple of them) and Vera is coming over again tomorrow night. This is uncharted territory for me, but to anyone who has or will suffer from any kind of depression, postpartum or otherwise, my advice would be this; don't go it alone. Reaching out has not been easy for me, but I came to a place last week where I realized I could not do it alone. I was afraid to be by myself. In a world of friends, family, ward family, neighbors, and other moms who have walked a similar road, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to suffer in silence. Calling on people has eased my burden so much, brought me out of dark times, and literally carried me through as if by angels. God humbles us to rely on each other. He doesn't want us to think we are strong enough to do it all on our own, and He doesn't want to deny others the blessing of service. At least that is what I have learned and am still learning from this experience. I knew having two babies close together would be hard, but I didn't know how hard. I never knew I would come to a place where my own thoughts and emotions would fail me. I have been in a tumultuous time not knowing up from down. In the worst case, I have friends who say they have suffered for up to a year postpartum. I think sleep is a big factor, and with Anthony chunking out at the rate he is, he should be sleeping through the night very soon now (I know he is capable.) At four months old, we are a third of the way there anyways. Through all of this I am still so grateful for each of the six children I have been blessed with. I came across a quote in one of my books that I have taken up as my guiding principle this week: "Never doubt in darkness what God has revealed in the light." This too shall pass, and I'd like to be able to say we all made it through in one piece. One day at a time, I will make it back to the light.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cuteness

Here are some random cute shots from over the weekend:

Anthony is still in my bed, though we have used the co-sleeper a couple of times. I think he is most comfortable right by my side and that is how he sleeps the best. We went to bed at 10:00 last night and I didn't see the clock until 5:15a.m., so I think he did a 7 hour stretch.
Rachel is now wanting to sit at the table instead of in her highchair, and that is how she insisted on eating her cereal yesterday morning. I guess it's time for a booster.
Ashlee did Kaitlyn's hair when she got out of the bath last night. I love this cute little bun!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nat Ran, Ann Ran

Today Noah read his first book! I was a little weary starting Kindergarten with him not knowing his letters and phonics, but four weeks is all it took. Way to go Noah!
And on that note, let me take a moment to put in a plug for my new-found favorite Language Arts program- Learning Language Arts Through Literature.
The book is broken down into weekly lessons, all based on quality pieces of literature, that cover grammar, spelling, reading and writing in one fell swoop. So for example, we will begin on Monday by reading the selected literature (this week it was the story of David and Goliath.) Then, the remainder of the week's lessons will focus on spelling, phonics, grammar, mechanics, etc. based on that story. The reading selections are of superior quality and I absolutely love how the program is cohesive. I went a little overboard on language arts curriculum for Jacob this year, but I find that this program alone covers everything we need to know. I highly recommend it, and it goes from Kindergarten through grade 9. I am using it with both of the boys, but would probably be just as happy using it with Ashlee.

Lego Dreams

I PROMISE we're sending this one to the Lego magazine this time Jacob. I know it's been months of you asking me and countless pictures, but this is the one. I promise! (This boy has big dreams.)

Corn-Fed Boy

Cute little chunk asleep in his daddy's arms. Forrest was walking him around the living room while I made myself a quick dinner tonight and before long he was snoring his way to dreamland. Look at those thighs- he's our corn-fed boy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Family

Some random family pics from the last few days:

Daddy came home "early" tonight (7:30.) Anthony was happy to catch a moment with him before bed time.
I love this shot of all the boys.
Ashlee had him talkin' it up the other afternoon. He is really starting to coo, smile, and converse with people. I love this age and their blossoming personalities.
The girls enjoying some swinging time last Thursday night before the rain.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

All to Ourselves!

One of the perks about being homeschoolers- going to the water park and having the whole thing to ourselves!

At first we thought the water had been shut off for the season, but as Jacob began riding his scooter around he hit one of the sensors and suddenly the kids were basking in glory and showers of water!

This guy was happy...
Rachel had a lot of fun playing at the top of this slide. It was so nice without any other kids to contend with, and being that it wasn't that high off the ground Mom could relax a little.

I absolutely love the view from this park and could sit on that grassy hill all day.
The boys bringing their scooters added to the fun.



Sunday, September 4, 2011

Postpartum or Something Like It

So I hem-hawed around for the title of this post. Several thoughts ran through my mind, like "Not the Martyr Mom," "Taking a Real Sabbath," (to explain my absence from church today,) or "Dropping the Ball" (because I want to give up.) However, after much deliberation I have decided that what I am experiencing in terms of mental, spiritual, and emotional turmoil can be wrapped neatly into the package of postpartum something-rather, so that is what I am calling it.

On a happier note, Naomi lent us the use of her co-sleeper. I am anxious to see how it will work out. Ironically enough I spent the better part of yesterday setting it up, then didn't use it! Anthony slept right at my side last night, where he always is, nursing himself into oblivion. I'll be interested to see if he sleeps better or is more restless in the co-sleeper. Being that we do not have a crib for him, we don't really have any other options. I told Anthony that out of six kids he's lucky to get the spot next to Mama's bed. Thank you Naomi!
I was thinking I should get a mobile to attach to the side. He sure was content in there today while I folded laundry, and it would be nice for him to have something to look at.
I ended the day with an evening walk. This was Anthony's first time in the jogger stroller. I debated jogging, but thought I'd save that for when I can go alone. He started out happy...
... then fussed a little bit mid-walk. I knew if I kept walking he'd fall asleep, which he did.
I decided to stay home today and take a "true" Sabbath while Forrest took all of the kids (except Anthony) to church. Let's be honest, there is nothing restful about Sundays for a mother of six, and if my husband is going to be gone six days a week from sun up until sun down I am going to take a break when I can get it. Something has to give. I know this time is fleeting, and my struggles are but for a moment, but I still have to get through my day-to-day. So far I'm not doing so well. I feel worse off now than when I first had Anthony, and the thought occurred to me today that technically I am not even postpartum anymore- he's three months old! I feel like I am experiencing a backlash effect that began when Forrest took on crazy work hours and we started homeschooling.

In talking to friends, I have received advice across the board- keep running, stop running, put the kids back in school, focus on homeschool, clean the house, let the house go... it's all relative. I feel like every day I try something different, and nothing ever works for too long. It's kind of like the first trimester of pregnancy when one food will taste good for a while until you can't stomach it anymore and you have to switch things up. Or perhaps I should compare this time to transition in labor- when you think you can't take anymore and you want to quit and get off the bed? If I were a runner, I would be sprinting and burning out. I need to find my marathon pace, something I can maintain for a while.

Well-meaning people (my husband included) have suggested I just "let things go" and focus on the kids. But to be honest, I'm just not happy like that; less stressed maybe for a time, but not happy. I have to maintain certain things- exercise, a clean house, alone time- or we all suffer. After all, ain't Mama happy, ain't nobody happy!

After a failed attempt at an over-zealous list of to-dos yesterday with six kids in tow that ended in me throwing a block of cheese across the living room (embarrassing, but true) and running away to my mom's house to vent and take a nap, I've decided that something has to change. I can't keep hiding in corners of my house to cry. I love my kids, I asked for all of them, but don't ever let anyone tell you they are not a mound of work. I hope I never portray that facade.

I am grateful, but I am exhausted.

Here's to change.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

3 and 3

Well Anthony is 3 months old and it's our 3rd week of homeschooling. Time for a report.

We put together Ashlee's 3-D jello-o cell model earlier in the week, and here she is showing it off. We spent about a week studying the different parts of the cell (nucleus, mitochondria, ribosomes, etc.) then constructed a model using jell-o, fruit, and various candies to represent all of the organelles. I had her explain each one to me along with its function before she ate it. This was a fun project.
Noah and Kaitlyn have learned their entire alphabet, including letter recognition and sound. I had them work on three letters a day, and by the end of the second week we had the pantry door covered in the alphabet. Now they are ready for reading.
Today we were in the Sacramento area and I took the kids to McKinley park. My, what a beautiful place this was! We could've stayed all day. There was a pond with ducks, geese, turtles, and pigeons, a public pool, a nice wooden castle-like play structure, and a public library. There was also a beautiful rose garden, which we did not have time to visit.


Anthony is doing so well and turning into quite the chunk. He is starting to sleep 4-6 hours at night, which is nice. It's funny but for the first time I am not feeling the rush to get him to sleep through the night. I know it will happen, and with him being my last baby I just want to savor it! This has been the first time I haven't had another baby to anticipate, so rather than looking ahead to the next stage I find myself wishing I could slow things down. It's a strange place to be in, but it brings me contentment nonetheless. I feel good about closing this chapter in my life and look to the next with much anticipation. I feel so blessed every day to be home with my children and to have the opportunity to homeschool them.

I'll leave you with a couple of funnies from Noah:

The other morning we were sitting down at the table doing a language arts lesson together out of one of our new books, and I was struggling to find the shape cards. He sat patiently as I thumbed through the workbook, searching for the page with the cut-outs.

Me: "Just a minute Noah, Mommy can't find the shape cards."

Noah (hesitantly): "You're not a very good teacher because you can't find the cards. A teacher should know where the cards are."

Me (getting a little flustered): "Hmmm, where are the shape cards?"

Noah then sticks his head under the table and begins chanting in a taunting voice but with a smile on his face: "You're a bad teacher, you're a bad teacher."

Then today as we were driving, the boys were in the back seat talking about different languages. Jacob was saying how there was English, Spanish, French, etc. Noah asked me what language we spoke. I told him English. He responded, "Oh, I thought we just talked regular." I guess every child thinks their language is "regular." =)