Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Swimming lessons

Annabelle is on the far right in the blue swim suit
 After the first day of swim lessons (you remember...the Annabelle break down and nightmare!), the rest of the week went much, much smoother. Annabelle got the Polly Pocket doll she earned for swimming with her teacher for two minutes that first day, and each night we'd put Polly away and in the morning before lessons, I'd remind her that if she wanted to play with Polly again today, she had to stay with her class and do what her teacher wanted her to do, and cheerfully. And she did. We didn't have any more problems. I think that first day it was so bad because it was kind of a fear of the unknown: new teacher, never taken lessons before, she knows the water can be scary and dangerous especially for little ones her size. Once she tried it out and saw it wasn't too bad and that she was safe, she was able to relax and have fun.
 Since Jane got in the water with all her street clothes on the first day, I decided she might as well wear her swim suit too since I had a really hard time keeping her out. She played on the steps while the kids had their 40 minute swim lessons each day, and I stood right by her. She was SO happy just walking on the steps! On the last day of swim lessons, I got in trouble. Apparently little Jane is not allowed to be in the pool unless she's taking swim lessons(which makes sense...if all the other moms let their little ones in as well it would be very distracting). So out she came. She threw a fit and tried to get back in a few times but then she was fine...and it was the last day anyway.
 Charles and Elisabeth did amazingly well. They both can swim under water for a short distance, and do the breast stroke for a short distance. On the last day, Elisabeth jumped off the diving board and swam to the edge of the pool without a life jacket and without any assistance from the lifeguard. And then she did it again and again. Charles will swim just fine if he knows he's in an area of the pool where he can touch, but if they're in the deep end, he tends to freak out a little and wants the teacher to be right with him. Annabelle learned to float on her back for a moment unassisted, and on her tummy. She also learned how to swim with a life jacket on which is such a relief!



Friday, July 27, 2012

Broken swamp cooler and 96 degrees



Scott and I had a wonderful time Wednesday night on our anniversary date. Here is a picture of us outside the temple that Scott took on his phone.

Unfortunately, when we came home, the babysitter told us the swamp cooler in the ceiling was leaking. She put a bowl underneath to catch the water which I was thankful for. Scott went up to have a look(he can usually fix the swamp cooler when it has problems) but couldn't figure it out. The following morning I called the plumbers and had them come over and diagnose the problem. It turns out it's been having leaking problems for awhile because they asked about some paint/wall covering that was bubbled up near the swamp cooler and wanted to know how long that had been there. I told them it was there when we moved in 5 years ago. Yikes! To think it's had a problem for that long! Everything in the swamp cooler was rusted, a piece had fallen down in the night, and there is some roof damage. Needless to say, this will be a very expensive fix. And we're not sure exactly when we're going to get it fixed. We'll probably do some of the repairs now but wait a while to get a new swamp cooler or central air installed. And this of course had to happen during one of our hottest weeks. It's supposed to be 96 and 97 for several days and then cool down a little to the lower 90's. Ugh. But how spoiled are we? I mean really, it wasn't too long ago that central air wasn't even available. And can you imagine living in places like Arizona without any central air? Whew! This experience is making me very grateful for some of our modern technologies and it makes me grateful that we have a finished basement where we can go to keep a little cooler. But it also reminds me that there is a difference between 'needs' and 'wants' and central air is one of those things that we could go on through life without(though sometimes we may trick ourselves to believe otherwise). I'm looking forward to our trip to the Seattle area this summer where we can cool down for awhile :).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marriage


Tomorrow is our nine year wedding anniversary. Nine years! Wow, that's one year short of a decade! I know that's not much in comparison to some, but I think we're off to a great start! We've got hot date plans: Mexican dinner out with just the two of us, sealings at the temple(this is something we've done every year on our anniversary and I love that we get to listen to and be reminded of the promises we made with each other and the Lord those many years ago) and then I think we might pick up some frozen yogurt on the way home, put the kids to bed and play a game or watch a movie while we eat our treat. It sounds like a dream! I can't wait til' tomorrow night!

Last week Scott asked if it felt like it had been nine years. When I think back to all that's happened in these nine years-- 2 bachelor's degrees, a masters degree, 5 moves, a house, 5 children-- it does feel like we've been married forever.  And I'm glad because I honestly wouldn't have it any other way and can't possibly imagine being any happier. I feel very blessed to have been able to catch Scott's eye. I was only 19 when we were engaged(20 when we got married), which now, looking back, seems a little young and scary. But we both prayed about it, we did some serious thinking, we went to the temple with questions in mind, sought out and listened to the counsel of our parents, and we both felt good and peaceful about taking that next step. From things that I saw during our months of dating, I knew he had the most important qualities: he loved the Lord(this says SO much about his character: honest, loving, faithful, service oriented, etc), he loved me, and he was a hard worker.

As individuals and as a couple, we've grown a lot over these 9 years. A lot of that growth happened because we went through different stages of life together: poor college students, having children while we both still continued on with our education,  getting through a masters degree, worrying about our parents health(cancer, kidney stones, high blood pressure and old age), buying our first home and managing finances with our rapidly growing family, me being really sick with each pregnancy and more.

When we were first married we lived in a tiny, 300 square foot studio apartment. There was one room, a tiny kitchen and a tiny bathroom that could only fit a narrow shower.  We decided to get pregnant only a couple of months after being married which we were fortunate to have happen right away, but I got really sick. I threw up several times a day, every day, for months. We were both going to school full time at BYU and working part time. We would come home around 530 at night, I would go straight to our bed and fall asleep. Scott would make us dinner, wake me up to eat, and then I'd promptly lay back down, feeling miserable and try to go back to sleep. Scott would clean up and then take his book bag in the bathroom and do his homework on the seat of the toilet so he wouldn't disturb me because we learned through experience that if I woke up when I wasn't ready, I would throw up even more and have a hard time getting back to sleep again. We did that for months. Even though it was a hard for both of us, I look back on that time with a deep feeling of love, appreciation, and adoration for my dear, sweet husband.  And then we did that again four more times, but at least we were no longer in a studio apartment. With each pregnancy, Scott always took over household responsibilities(getting breakfast and dinner for the family, cleaning, bathing kids etc) on top of his work, which is a lot. Each one of the challenging experiences we went through together, provided an opportunity for growth as individuals and as a couple. I'm grateful for all our experiences because once endured well, they brought us closer as a couple and made us stronger people.

Here are a few things I've learned about marriage so far, both from experience and from things I've read(I majored in Marriage Family and Human Development, so I read some on this): A good marriage takes work. A good marriage will have both partners consciously making sacrifices for their spouse. In a good marriage, you'll always be thinking about and considering the welfare of your spouse over yourself. In a good marriage, you make time for each other: make time to talk, to listen, to go on dates(preferably every week). In a good marriage you're respectful, loving and kind, even after years of living together and being familiar with one another and knowing each others strengths and weaknesses.

When my 20 year old niece came to visit from Mexico for a couple of weeks, she said to me one day, "You and Scott have a very happy marriage. You always talk nice to each other." What she said was interesting to me and when you consider the examples portrayed through media, which shapes our culture, what she saw between me and Scott was very different. We're not sarcastic and rude, we don't try to one up each other or say mean things with humor. Not only do we love each other, but we like each other and we're faithful and devoted to one another. Scott and I are best friends and I am so grateful to have him and look forward to spending an eternity together.

Here are a few pictures of us nine years ago, from when we were on our honeymoon (these are different than the ones I put up last year). 


Ireland

Beach in South Carolina where we stayed for a week before leaving for Europe

London

Kissing in a phone booth in London. I've always wanted to do that!

On the Eiffle Tower in France

On a train in Italy

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bribery

This morning was a bit hectic. The kids got up at 630(Why!? Why can't they sleep in a little during the summer when we let them stay up later!?), I made green smoothies, cleaned up, Scott went off to work, I made granola, while it cooked I did Zumba in my kitchen with my MP3 player, I got dressed and ready and asked the kids to hurry and do the same, though I had them get in their swimsuits. I woke up Nora(it was about 930am now) and fed and changed her, we got in the van, I did my visiting teaching with a friend(something we do in our church to develop friendships and serve one another) then we rushed off to swim lessons that start at 1030. Oh and as we left my friends house we realized Jane no longer was wearing shoes. Jane has a shoe fetish. She absolutely loves shoes, she loves new shoes and loves to try on all different shoes, but we also have a really hard time keeping any one pair on her for an extended period of time. I had just bought these new sandles for her on Saturday so I hoped they would turn up. We did a quick search in the van and in our friends house but still couldn't find them. We had to go.

We arrived at the outdoor pool just as they were starting. Did I mention this was their first day of swim lessons? I put shoeless Jane and baby Nora in the double stroller and we literally ran over to get the kids in their classes. Charles and Elisabeth are in the same level for swim lessons so they went over to their teacher together. Annabelle is in the 'white' class which basically means you can't swim and you don't really like the water. Well, her 20 year old male teacher was about to find out just how much she didn't like the water...and him!

The nice thing about doing swim lessons at this pool is that you can sign up for a week at a time, swimming 40 minutes every day and they have all the levels going at the same time so that all of my kids that are in lessons can swim at the same time. Before we got to the pool I warned the kids that if they didn't stay on task and do what their teacher asked, that I wouldn't sign them up for the following week. After being in the water for one minute, I looked over at Annabelle who was standing near her teacher and the three other kids in her class, about knee deep in water, bawling! By this point, I had let Jane out of the stroller because she was being so loud and whiny, begging to get out, that I was afraid she'd get Nora crying as well. So I told Jane to follow me, and together we walked over to where Annabelle was crying. Annabelle climbed out of the water and came to me.
 "Mom! I don't want to swim! I hate swim lessons! I don't want to go with him! I don't like him!"
Oh great, I thought. Now my incentive of 'next week swim lessons' was no longer valid for four-year-old Annabelle because she apparently didn't want to do it anyway. But I also had already paid for these lessons and I really wanted her to get some practice and get comfortable with the water. So I told her to hold on a minute while I went and got Nora who I had left in the stroller near a wall that I could see. Annabelle cried harder and was gripping my leg, pulling me down so that I could not move. Jane was now also knee deep in the water, in her clothes, and her shorts and underwear were soaked. I bent down so I could speak with Annabelle a little better.
"Annabelle, I'm just going to get Nora because she's over there by herself...." I was broken off by Annabelle's cries. "Annabelle," I continued, trying to get her to be quiet so she could hear me. "Annabelle, if you get back in the water then I will bring Nora over here and we'll stay close by. If you don't, then I'm going to leave." She let go and walked over to the water, still crying and sat down on the first step. I called Jane who came to me looking as if she'd wet herself but really it was pool water, and we walked over and got Nora.

Now I had the stroller with Nora inside and wet Jane beside me and we walked back to Annabelle who was still crying and looking very pitiful sitting there in the water, following us with her eyes. I asked Jane to stay with the stroller and I walked back to Annabelle. All the other kids in her class were smiling and having fun playing on Taylor(their teacher). Taylor came over a couple of times with the other kids and tried to get her to come with them but she continued to cry and turn away from them and would hold me or would get out of the water completely.

"Annabelle, can you go down one more step?" I asked. She cried harder. I needed a new tactic.  "Annabelle, remember that Cinderella doll with the broken arm that you have? If you go in the water and go with Taylor and the class and do what he says then we can go buy you a new one today." She went down another step. I'm pretty sure all the other parents were staring at us rather than watching their own kids. "Annabelle, can you please stop crying?" She continued to cry. "Annabelle, I'd like you to go down another step so you can get into the water a little more. It's not deep. It's really shallow. You'll be fine. Taylor wants you to come over with them. See how much fun they're having? And you have to smile and be happy, otherwise, no doll."
"I don't want to! I don't like him! I don't want to go with him! He makes me go in where the water is deeper!"
"Annabelle, he won't let you get hurt. I promise. Annabelle, don't you trust me? I promise he'll take care of you. He's really nice." She continued to cry. I was wearing shorts so I got in to my knees and held her hands. Together we walked around for a minute and got her a little more comfortable in the water. She even let go of my  hands, walked around, while smiling, and dunked her head in the water on her own but she wouldn't go near her class. Jane was in the water now as well, sitting on the top step which was submerged in water, so she was soaked. Oh well, I thought; next time I'll bring her a swim suit as well. I got Annabelle to put her hands on the steps and kick her feet. At this point, Nora started to cry from in the stroller. Annabelle got out and followed me over to Nora. I picked up Nora and she stopped crying. I bent down to talk to Annabelle again. Jane continued to play on the steps.
"Annabelle, go back in please." She did. And she walked around the water some more, while smiling. But still wouldn't go near her teacher. I waved her over and she came back.

"Annabelle, there is only ten more minutes. Remember, if you want the doll you have to go with Taylor and the class." Annabelle got in, walked over to where her class was playing again, looked over at me and smiled, and then walked back to me. "No, Annabelle, you have to stay."
"But they didn't even let me play." She whined. "Annabelle, they will let you, but you left so fast. You need to go back in there and go right up to Taylor, okay?" I looked at the clock. "Annabelle, there are only two minutes left in class now, and I'm not going to get you the doll unless you go with him for both of those two minutes and you need to go right now." She turned around, walked back into the water and over to Taylor and joined in the game while smiling and laughing with another girl and having a good time. And so she went with her class for the last two minutes. And now she gets a doll. I don't usually bribe, but sometimes, for some children, it seems to help.

That was a frustrating forty minutes, but really, she did progress a lot during that lesson. At the beginning she didn't even want to get in and by the end she was walking the whole shallow end of the pool, putting her head in the water, kicking her legs on the steps, and finally, she went over to her teacher with her class and did what they were doing. The good news is that her next class couldn't possibly get any worse, right? So there's no where to go but up...it has to get better :). I hope.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Vacation

 The kids are out of school for summer break. In a few weeks I'll have two children who are in school all day! That's crazy! Time goes by so fast!

Some days the kids all play really well together(like in the picture above; they made chicken outfits and then choreographed a number to the chicken dance song; literally hours of enjoyment!) and other days I sound like a broken record with how many times I have to ask children to stop teasing one another and making siblings cry/whine/screech etc...we have a lot of girls in our home so there can be A LOT of that going on and shrill cries and screams can wear on a persons nerves! Like mine! lol :)! The other day baby Nora was crying off and on which is normal for a baby, then Annabelle comes up and complains that, "Elisabeth keeps crying and she won't stop and it's really annoying!" and in the middle of this Annabelle bursts into tears. Really?! I had to chuckle because it just seemed so funny at the moment. I decided that they both needed more sleep. Summer is hard because the days are longer so the kids want to stay up later, and I sometimes allow it, but then their bodies are still programmed to wake up at the same time in the morning so we end up with a bunch of tired, cranky and impatient children.
 The kids like to lay around in the morning and read books. My blog books are favorites.



 Summer means less schedule-ness(I'm making that a word) which means I have more time to fix the girls hair and mine as well. We've been experimenting with different hair do's. This is one I've done on the girls for awhile now but couldn't ever do it on myself. I can now! It's a side french braid into a bun. And the french braid is dutch(or inside out) because I can only do that kind on myself for some reason. I need to train my fingers to do it the other way on me. Maybe some day.
 
 Jane even insists I do her hair every morning even though she really doesn't have much going on. But she is developing a few curls in the back so I comb and scrunch those with water and some hair styling coconut oil.
 We also have been doing a lot more nail painting this summer. Notice the matching turquoise nail polish? I rarely paint my nails but have decided to do it more this summer since we have time and since it seems to help me with my awful finger nail-biting habit. I've been trying to quit for years!

 And since I'm not giving up my exercise routine while the kids are out for the summer, the kids, many times, like to join in with me. Here we are doing crunches. Even Jane got in on it and was copying the kids saying, "29, 30...". She is so stinkin' cute! We all think she is pretty hilarious. Yay for summer break! Next week the three oldest kids start swim lessons.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Piano Guys

 One of Elisabeth's birthday presents from Scott was two tickets to see The Piano Guys in concert: the amazing pianist Jon Schmidt (Elisabeth adores him) and the cellist Steven Sharp Nelson. The concert was this past weekend so Scott and Elisabeth had a fun daddy-daughter evening! They started out with dinner at Sweet Tomatoes and ended with the concert. They met up with a good friend, Ben and his kids Sara and Evan, both of which also play the piano.
 Scott got lawn seats because they were cheaper, but he says next time he'll pay the extra and get regular seats because his bum was sore :). This sold out concert was a couple hours long and they loved every minute of it! They're doing another local concert in September and which we're hoping to see. You can check out there music and videos here(if you scroll down to the bottom, you can watch some of their music videos; our favorite is 'Love Story meets Viva La Vida'; or you can search it on youtube) Seriously, amazing!



Friday, July 13, 2012

Family, fires and the Fourth

 We were so happy to have Scott's mom and my mom over for an extended weekend. The kids soaked up their time with their grandmothers and Scott and I did too!
 Every Monday, a family in our ward who own a pool, invite neighbors over to swim. We love that the do this and usually try to go; sometimes we all go and other times, either Scott or I will take the oldest three while the other stays home with the youngest two.





 I love my swim attire! I wear knee length board shorts and a loose swim shirt which is SO comfortable.


 Both my mom and Angela were able to come with us to the pool. My mom stayed with Nora in the shade. Angela took most of the pictures here from the pool.

Early Tuesday morning, the day before the fourth, Scott, both grandmothers, Elisabeth, Charles, Annabelle and Jane went down to Provo for the annual hot air balloon show. This is something Scott does every year with the kids...sometimes I go, and sometimes I stay home, usually depending on the age/stage of our youngest child. This year, Nora and I slept in! They all had a nice time and afterward got donuts from Krispy Kreme :).



 Tuesday afternoon on the way to bring my mom to the airport, we stopped off at a place we'd heard about called City Cakes. They specialize in gluten free and vegan cakes and goodies. Mom and I tried several things: we shared a bowl of macaroni and cheese made from cashews and roasted red bell peppers, we shared a slice of vegan lemon coconut cake, a vegan snickerdoodle and a vegan sugar cookie. They were all delicious! I asked how they got the cake to rise and she said they use 1 Tbsp ground flax seed to three tablespoons water for one egg. So cool! I went home and made a vegan lemon coconut cake myself! Here's the picture of the one I made. It was so yummy! Though it didn't rise as high as normal cakes and it was so moist it didn't hold together well after I took it out of the pan and I had to pat it back together, but then it was fine :). I'll have to experiment a little more. But seriously, SO yummy! And I made it whole wheat and used sucanat instead of refined sugar in the cake. Sweet! Oh except the frosting was made with powdered sugar...I still need to experiment with that.
 We've had a really dry and hot summer here in Utah, no rain in a long time, and because of that, we've had several big fires as well. On my way home from the airport, I saw this:  tons of smoke coming up from the mountains near Alpine, Utah. Many prayers were answered about a day and a half later when the good Lord sent down rains all day long.
 And here are a few pictures from the fourth. Angela left back for North Carolina that morning. In the afternoon we met some friends at the splash park for lunch and then in the evening we met up with one of Scott's old BYU roommates, Curtis, and his family for dinner. We hadn't seen them in years and it was so fun to catch up and meet all their cute kids. We did a few fireworks at their house and then came home and did a few more.


Happy Fourth of July! We feel so blessed to live in such a great country and to enjoy so many freedoms!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nora's two month stats





 Nora had her eight week check up last week, when she was closer to ten weeks old. Our babies get chubby during the first 6 months and then they taper off and slim down which you'll see in her stats. Everything looked good. She got 6 vaccines which were no fun. Later that afternoon she got feverish and fussy and threw up once. It only lasted a few hours which I'm grateful for. Here are her stats:

Weight: 11 lb 10 oz -61%
Height: 23 inches - 66%
*Nora loves it when I sing, "Just to see you smile", a song by Tim McGraw. In these pictures she's trying to sing along with me.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Elisabeth's ears pierced

 A couple of years ago Elisabeth told me she didn't ever want to get her ears pierced. 'Wonderful!' I thought. But that tune changed this past year and she's been begging to have them done since school started last summer. I told her she could make that decision once she turned eight. A couple of days after her birthday we had a girls outing with Granny and Grandma: first went to Claire's for the piercing, then to Cafe Rio for lunch and a frozen yogurt place for dessert.

I warned Elisabeth before hand that it would hurt for a minute, maybe similar to a bee sting. After ward she said to me, "Mom, that hurt WAY worse than a bee sting." But she didn't cry! Her eyes welled up with tears, but she held them in and was very brave.

I took the picture above as the lady was doing the very first piercing. I didn't notice until I went back and looked through these pictures, but doesn't it look like Elisabeth is holding on for dear life?! :) We asked her if she wanted to hold one of our hands but she said no. 

She choose some cute little blue flowers

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rainbow Cake


I get quite a few hits on this website on my cake posts, so I thought I'd give a few extra tips for making this cake. The nice thing is that it doesn't require any fancy cake decorating skills because I made all the toppers from construction paper. I made the triangles for the banner and the circles the week before, using rainbow colored construction paper, and some white printer paper. For the banner, I folded the construction paper in half and cut the triangles along the folded edge so that they could open up and then I stuck some floss in the folds with a little rubber cement.
 

 I also taped the backside of the banner triangles so that the grease from the cake wouldn't soak through and make it look ugly. Once the cake was frosted, I dabbed a little frosting on the backs of the triangles(the sides with the tape) and then stuck it on the cake and loosely tied the ends of the floss together. For the circles on top of the cake, I used rubber cement and toothpicks for the shorter ones in front and rubber cement and kabob sticks for the taller ones, though I cut off a couple of inches on the kabob sticks so they weren't super long.
 They day before the party I baked the cakes. I used two white cake box mixes(I personally like Pilsbury, but Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines are great too), and I used 4 eggs whites instead of three whole eggs in order to get more vibrant colors of cake. I then divided the cake mixes among 6 bowls, about a cup and a half in each bowl and then put a color of the rainbow in each bowl. I use either the Wilton cake colors and dip a toothpick inside and dip that in my batter, or the Cake Boss colors that squeeze from a small bottle. Both work great, have really nice colors and don't make your frosting runny.
 I have several 9 inch cake pans and I greased three pans at a time with Pam spray that has flour, baked three at 350 degrees(be sure to decrease cooking times with these thinner cakes; peek at them after 10-15 minutes. When the top doesn't jiggle when nudged and toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, it's done), let them cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, flipped them onto a cooling rack and then baked the next three.
 They baked pretty even. There was only one cake that I had cut off a bit from the top to make it a little more even for stacking. Cut any you think need it, though if it's just a little uneven, frosting will usually fill that in and do the trick perfectly. Be sure to put a good amount of frosting between each layer of cake(probably about 1/4 inch thick) and then once the entire cake is stacked, I like to do a crumb coat where you put a thin layer of frosting on and some of the crumbs are showing, refrigerate it and then do a thicker layer. Once the cake was all frosted I  let the cake sit out(don't need to refrigerate unless your house is really hot) and the next morning, the day of the party, I added the decorations.




 Beautiful rainbow!!!! You'll hear lots of 'ooo's' and 'ahhhhs' when you cut into the cake!