Sunday, September 15

Summer's over!

We've had a busy bunch of weeks!  Mia started 3rd grade, and Anya and Bree started 1st on August 26th.

This monkey finally started preschool the week after that on Sept 3.  We're doing JoySchool with five other ladies in the ward on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We've really been looking forward to getting him out of the house and into a big group of buddies- it is already working wonders after just two weeks.  The days he goes, he is on cloud nine, he doesn't scream or hit anyone, uses the potty consistently, and is his usual, snuggly self.  We've missed this boy since the baby was born. 
 He really got the short end of the stick when I was dealing with homeschooling two Kindergarteners and a second grader and nursing an infant every three hours.  Aside from our little nighttime ritual, whatever attention he got he really had to fight for, I'm afraid.  Things are definitely looking up.

Zach scheduled his second vacation of the year to coincide with our anniversary, since they wouldn't give him Christmas or Thanksgiving. :b   After watching the unpredictable weather for days we decided spontaneously on the 4th to go camping, which made Kael miss his second day of preschool the next morning.  

Enlarged: Kaelicus weirdicus.

Declan's first camping trip
 Then that next afternoon we used our saved-up Labor Day vacation time from school and decided to go to the lake!  We spend about 20 minutes scrambling for swimming supplies and made the 45 minute drive.  It turned out really fun.

First time at the beach!
He sat splashing in his tube- happy as a clam the whole time.

Friday the 6th was the 11th wedding anniversary of Zach and I.   He surprised me with tickets to "O" at the Bellagio.  

And Thursday the 12th was the girls' first day of soccer.  

This pic made me laugh.  This was their reaction to me saying "Love each other!"  Ha- my corny kids.
Last but not least, Mia's birthday party was yesterday.  A few weeks ago I asked her what kind of party she wanted.  First she gave the standard answer "Chuck-E-Cheese."  I've tried to indulge their reasonable birthday fantasies, but Chuck-E has been done to death at our house and I'm sick of him.  So the next thing she said was "A snake party!!!"  I almost put Chuck-E's back on the table.But I'm glad I didn't.  I gave a Facebook shout-out to all my Vegas friends to see if there was anyone who knew anyone with snakes, and some friends from Zach's residency came through.  This gal is in their ward, and is a total snake lover.  She came with her husband and two girls, and was just so fun to have.  She was very informative, helpful, friendly, professional, and my favorite- affordable. ;D  They spent over a half an hour letting the kids play with snakes and ask questions.  I only full-body shivered three times.  The second was when they pulled this sucker out:

But it was worth it to get this girl smiling so big. Thanks to grandmas for contributing to the party expenses!

Wednesday, July 24

Moving Along

We've been to Utah every month for the last four months!  On our first trip I was venturing out of state on my own with five kids for the first time.  I'd been looking forward to it for a while, since I missed going up for Christmas. I'd also been a little anxious about driving up on my own with an infant.

When we moved to Vegas in the first place, I didn't dare drive down on my own with four kids!  I had my brother drive tandem with us.  Granted- I had a lot of packed boxes and luggage I needed help with once we arrived, and I'd never seen the apartment we were headed to.  But I think it takes a lot more to daunt me two years later.

We ended up fine.  The weather was nice, so I could nurse in the car while the kids watched a movie and ate their lunch.

 Dealing with the baby only added an hour to the drive.  That, and stopping to get a speeding ticket. :b  I'd been going down a hill and pointing out  Mount Timpanogos to Mia.  I didn't even notice how fast I had gotten until I noticed the lights behind me.  In my get-a-warning attempt I told the officer what I'd been up to.  He looked at the mountain closest to us and said "Actually, that's Mount Nebo."

 "Oh, is this big one Nebo?! I didn't know that." And here's where I really earned my ticket:  "I was actually pointing to the one off in the distance- isn't that Timp?"  DOH! Broke cardinal rule #1 of dealing with a police officer:  You know nothing, they know everything.

Four months later, I drove everyone up alone again without blinking an eye.  My peace of mind no doubt amplified by the fact that my dad had given us his much newer mini-van which wasn't going to overheat even in the 104 degree weather.  (Thanks, Dad!!)

It was perfect, and uneventful. We stopped to grab burgers and bathroom in Saint George, and at the Maverick in Fillmore where the kids played on the shaded playground and I sat in the air-conditioned car and fed the baby.  After that we went straight to Sandy without any stopping for cops.

During our visit I went to run an errand downtown and the kids all saw the Salt Lake Temple down the street.  We'd pointed it out from the freeway during our Utah visit the month before, and said we'd go there some day to look around.  Of course "someday" to them, meant the next time we saw it- regardless of the fact that I was the only adult in the car.  I told them we could drive around to see it up close, but we probably wouldn't get out.  I decided if I could find street parking near the entrance, I'd take them in.  There's a parking spot for every public destination that my side of the family, for good reason, jokingly refers to as "Dad's spot."  He gets the closest one every time.  It's uncanny.  Well, Dad's spot was open.  So we went in.

We went to the visitor's center.  While I fed the baby, Kael took his shoes off and took a lap around the foyer by the restrooms.  The girls all giggled and took off after him.  I wondered for a minute if I was in over my head and was just in denial.  Some sister missionaries walked toward them and effectively herded them toward me.  When I was done with the baby we actually had fun!

For the last six months or so, I've been acting the same way I have about every eight years.   I sense the end of an era and I get this premature nostalgia.  The last day of fifth grade, I knew that I was about to lose being able to plop down and read whatever I wanted, as long as I wanted. I was baptized and accountable for my actions... I knew I wasn't a little kid anymore.    
My sister, Megan, posted this photo of my sibs and me on Facebook and labeled it "Back in the day." 
 Ten years later I spent the last half of my senior year fretting how I'd never be in a place where I'd see so many of my amazing friends every single day once I left high school.  During the last trimester of my pregnancy with Mia, I knew nothing would be the same once I became a mother.  Every time the end of an era nears,  I get wistful and don't look forward to the next step because I'm sure I'll miss what I've enjoyed so much about the current one.   

I can't say I regret giving myself a few months to grieve every time I knew a life-change was coming.  I think it's just something I needed.  But this time around I'm not just trying to console myself with the hypothesis that the next change will be just as enjoyable.  I really believe it now... and it makes the change a little easier.

I was studying this picture of the kids and realized it is going to be just as reminiscent for them someday as Megan's is for me.  

Just since I took this about a week ago, Anya has lost both her front teeth.

Kael has stopped wearing diapers during the day, Declan has grown his second tooth, started speed-creeping and trying puffs.  I've made invitations for his first birthday, and Mia's impending baptism- both in November.

 Four months or so, and the baby era will be over.  This has been the hardest one by far.  The hardest, the worst, and undoubtedly, the best.

Wednesday, April 17

Little Consolation

I always want to express my feelings about my babies in words.  You know how sometimes your feelings are so big you need to get them out on paper?  Or sometimes you worry you'll forget, so you have to write it down while you still remember? I've found solace in writing about everything... except my babies.

Maybe I could have done it before I became a mother. Described what babies are like.  But my babies defy all metaphors and similes-- there truly is nothing like them... including themselves from one week to the next.  Which is the most tragic and the most wonderful thing about them.

It's hard not to feel twinges of grief while I'm kissing what I know are going to be the last of the baby toes Zach and I will ever create. But it's easy to feel joyful enough to laugh while I'm kissing them.  He's almost five months old now, this last baby.  The last "firsts" are starting.  Any day now he'll be able to sit up without me holding him.  He can grab things and pull them to his mouth.  In a few weeks he'll be eating food that I didn't make with my own body.

I find myself doing two kinds of tripping during night feedings.  One caused by whatever toys Kael left on my floor the day before, and the other caused by that unique hallucinogenic combination of exhaustion and darkness.  Before motherhood, I never knew hearing your baby grunt in the middle of the night could have the same effect as taking acid- (so I've heard.)  Once I remember where I put the baby last, I head toward the bassinet and it seems to be growing.  Or I head toward the little swing and it seems to shift places.  Once, when Zach was trying to get a full night's sleep in the guest room, and the baby was still little enough to lay in his dad's place in bed, I accidentally bonked him in the face when I reached for him and thought he was a blanket.  Luckily, the drugged feeling only lasts as long as it takes me to get to my water cup and get my blood pressure back to normal. Then I feel safe enough to pick him up and make my way to the nursing chair.

 I can't help but grin almost every time I feed him- remembering what a struggle it was for me to feed the girls.  I sit there appreciating how much easier it is to just pop a baby onto my breast than worrying about latching correctly to sore nipples while stifling a gasp as my toes curl.  How much easier to put the baby down and go back to sleep instead of handing him to his dad to supplement with a bottle while I pump for fifteen or twenty more minutes. No bottles to wash or pack in the diaper bag.  No expensive trips to the baby aisle for formula. If only I could go back in time and tell that thoughtless nurse to give me some lanolin instead of a bottle when I mentioned the pain that first night.

But I don't think about that long.  I spend the rest of the time watching the crazy-long eyelashes he inherited from his dad, fluttering and brushing against his chubby cheeks.  I rub his little coconut head and marvel at all the hair that none of my other babies came with.  Chuckle at how different feeding a baby is from getting fed myself: a let down is good, and food coming up is bad.  I sigh when I realize I only have two hours left to sleep the remaining four hours I need, and chastise myself for wanting to sleep through any of these last few hours.

I know I'll forget.  I forgot three times before. I've already forgotten exactly how it feels to be kicked from the inside.  I mourned the loss of that memory a few times before I was even done being reminded of it every hour.  I've almost forgotten the actual feel of a wobbly newborn lump in my hands.  I know I'll forget what it's like to look at my baby's cheeks while they're suckling, and feel his little hand smacking me on the chest and on my chin.  I'll rely on pictures, vague images I've tried to engrave on my brain, and holding other people's babies.

It's okay.  Soon I'll be distracted by learning how to raise adolescents.  I need to just enjoy this baby before he's gone- replaced by someone just as loveable- but gone, nonetheless.   Be grateful for the babies I have.  Be grateful for the babies I had. It's alright.

It's okay.

Saturday, January 26


I never thought growing up that it mattered which grocery store you went to.  I just followed my mom through our regular shops.  I remember I had favorite things about each one, but it had more to do with which toys were on display and whether or not they had cool lighting or bulk candy.

There's a WalMart 6 minutes up the road from our current house that sells Daisy sour cream for 11 cents per ounce, and Betty Crocker mac and cheese for 88 cents. There's a Smith's 8 minutes up the road that sells Daisy for 12 cents an ounce and their Betty's mac & cheese is 99 cents.  There's this understanding in America, that if you go to WalMart, you'll pay less, so we put up with longer lines, slightly crappier produce, a higher chance of getting a weird cashier, and... how to put it delicately.... WalMartians.

When we first moved in, I didn't know Smith's was up the road.  I went to our Neighborhood WalMart for a few months.  I figured I'd just have to deal with the people who swore on the phone while standing next to me in the aisles. The people who swore right next to me when they reached for something at the deli and apparently saw something that made them swear. The cashiers who started blankly into space while ringing up my zucchini as cucumber and squashing my tomatoes before I had a chance to bag them. I'd drive home wanting to swear. And when I turned into my neighborhood, it seemed like a ghetto.

I missed the entrance to WalMart one day and decided to keep driving up the street to see if there was anything interesting before the road ended in no-man's land. (We live really close to the edge of the city.) "Huh!  How 'bout that- I didn't know there was another store here!"  So I went to Smith's instead, squashing the twinge of guilt my wallet sent me by telling it "Just this once."

I got out of my car, noticed no one entering the store was wearing pajamas, and sighed a little wistfully knowing I wouldn't be back after this.  I saw the price tags I was expecting.  And the full dispenser of twisty ties with the produce bags. And the calm, sometimes even friendly demeanor of the people I was shopping with.  I went to check out and they opened a lane for me, explaining that it was against store policy to let more than two people be at a check out line. And my cashier was alert and cordial. And there was someone bagging my stuff!  And they asked if I wanted help out to my CAR! And when I got home, my neighborhood seemed pretty decent.

And you know what I've discovered since then?  Sales.  That 99 cent mac and cheese?  49 cents if you stock up on the right week. Manager Specials. Smith's has these nifty niches throughout the store with beautiful orange stickers on the items.  There are weeks when I don't buy anything that isn't marked down to at least half the original cost.  Today I went to buy Turmeric for some new Indian recipe, and after cringing as I tossed a $3.67 container of the stuff into my cart, I stumbled across an 86 cent one in the manager special area.  This happens ALL the TIME.  I haunt the marked down bread cart every time I go- and just often enough find a bounty of bakery wheat bread loaves for 79 cents.  I clean them out,do a happy dance, and pop them in the freezer when I get home, knowing that by the time we've used them all, there will have been another batch marked down.

Now that I'm familiar with the store, and stocked up well on everything, I'm paying less than I was as a WalMartian, even before I factor in the savings I get from Smith's fuel rewards.  I've been back to WalMart a handful of times since then, to pick up Site-to-Store things like furniture and electronics. But I'm a converted Smith'sonian.