Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Megan in 2nd Grade

I just came in from sitting outside on the back lawn with Drew while he was [secretly] eating a popsicle. Secretly, meaning I didn't want siblings and neighbors to see him eating it, because we don't have enough to share with the 8 or so kids out front.

Drew and I chatted about school, the fact he's excited for summer, and even more excited for first grade. He's most excited that first grade will mean, "I won't ever have to go to Dad's office in the morning when you have to go somewhere." (Tough life isn't it, occasionally spending an hour or two a week at an office with people who make you paper airplanes, give you treats, and let you harass them constantly with questions, statements, and suggestions.)

As Drew and I chatted about lunch in the school lunch room next year, he was confused for just a little bit about why Joshua wouldn't eat right after him, and I reminded him that next year, Joshua will be in 3rd grade, not 2nd anymore.

Which to make a long story short, made me think back to Ellie in 2nd grade, Luke in 2nd grade, and for a few seconds, I couldn't for the life of me remember who Megan had as a teacher in 2nd grade. Then I gasped, remembered, and became disappointed that I don't think anywhere in her personal history or mine, that we have the experience of her 2nd grade teacher recorded in detail.

It seemed only fitting to come inside and do it right now. After all, it was about this exact time of year, that one Friday evening,  I left 2 week old Joshua, and Luke and Ellie with our neighbor, and took Megan to the viewing of her 2nd grade teacher.

Yes. You read that right. It was a sad, sad day.

When the children returned to school in January 2007 after Christmas vacation, I happened to be there the morning, a principal and school counselor came in to Megan's 2nd grade classroom to tell the children that their "teacher was very sick" (cancer) and she would probably not be coming back to their class. It was sad. Second graders love their teachers.

Around the middle of April, Mrs Feil made it to the school to be in the class photo with them. The children were thrilled.
(Megan is middle row, middle child-purple striped shirt)

A week or so later, I remember sitting on the couch feeding newborn Joshua when the school called to tell me that Megan's teacher had passed away. They told me they wanted parents to know first, and parents to tell their children.

A few minutes later, Megan came home from school and I broke the news to her. It was sad. And hard.

But the viewing a few days later, proved to be even harder.

Megan and I arrived at the viewing as soon as it started. I didn't want her to have to wait in a long line. Megan bravely held my hand as we walked into the room, and we were greeted by her teacher's husband and two adult daughters. We introduced ourselves, I paid our condolences, and then Megan, in all of her 8 year old prowess, pulled out a folded piece of paper and handed it to Mr. Feil with an explanation, I have never forgotten. I remember it almost verbatim:

"Mrs Feil told me she knew I could reach more than 100 AR (reading) points by the end of the year. I think she would want to know, I have 105."

The last few words Megan spoke through tears, and then as she finished, she turned and buried her face into my tan linen skirt and sobbed.

Megan and I were two of the first guests at the viewing. When we first arrived, it was apparent that Mr Feil and his two daughters were well composed and dry-eyed. They had stayed that way until Megan began her little speech about her AR points.  While Megan continued to sob into my skirt, the three of us adults cried with her. Mr Feil reached down, hugged Megan and said, "I'm sure she is very proud."

I helped Megan say her final goodbye to her teacher, and we left.

It's a treasured memory, I'm glad I now have more permanently recorded.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Six Forever and Ever

Stating the obvious...I haven't blogged as regularly as I have in years past. But I didn't realize that I haven't even mentioned birthdays lately. In fact, I didn't even "review" the photos I took on Drew's birthday until last night, Joshua, Drew and I found ourselves scrolling through several weeks of photos. When I came to the ones of Drew's birthday, specifically of his birthday cake, he sighed, "My birthday was the best day ever. I loved it."

Drew's best day ever, and I hadn't permanently recorded it. Point taken.

A few things not to be forgotten about March 30th, 2015:

For months, Drew has taken to frequently calling Mike, "Mike Wazowski with One Eye." Additionally, as mentioned before, Drew has a unique love of stuffed animals. So when I saw this at a store several weeks before his birthday, I knew I needed to make the $5 purchase for Mike to gift to Drew.

Drew really only had one request for his birthday. BMX clothes. Wish/request granted.

The morning of Drew's birthday, I taught him the poem "When I am Six" by A.A. Milne. I adore hearing him recite it. Even weeks since his birthday, I hear him repeating it, and when he gets to the part, "Now I am six, I'm as clever as clever. I think I'll be six forever and ever" he gets a giant grin on his face and I wish in that moment time would freeze and there was a way to slow my baby's age. There isn't, so instead I smile and bask in the moment of his innocent childlike pride.

In the days leading up to Drew's birthday he couldn't decide what exactly he wanted to do; Something as a family, or a party with friends. Something with family AND a party with friends AND then go to a restaurant to eat dinner.  All seemed options to Drew, despite him being told repeatedly it was a party with friends, or something as a family.

Within just a few days before his birthday, Drew opted for a party. But then what type of party became an issue. (Because birthday parties have to have a theme???)

A football one or a Curious George one. I knew what I was hoping for, but I kept my mouth completely closed and let him choose. Finally he announced, "I want a George one." I was thrilled! As this is probably his last year to get away with a Curious George party, but he can have football ones for years to come.

(Sidenote: My children LOVE Curious George. Even Luke during one of his recent strep episodes laid on the couch watching hours of Curious George over a couple day period.)

We had big plans for a giant "Man in the Yellow Hat" to be printed with Mike's large printer for a "Pin the Hat" game. The morning of the party, the printer didn't work, but as I hung up the phone with Mike I saw hanging on our pantry door this portrait drawn by the birthday boy himself just days before.

I copied it and made extra hats and had our own personalized game. Which really, this little portrait attempt far exceeds any printed Google image I found.

(Too bad that at the party, Drew decided he didn't want to play this game after all.)

Drew had a fun party with a handful of his little friends. I didn't take photos, I enjoyed the moments instead. But I do kinda wish now that I had photos of them playing Curious George Character Chardes, Pass-the-Parcel, or Dance Like George.

I've always felt a sense of pride about my efforts each birthday to make home-made birthday cakes in the shapes, patterns and designs my children request. We've had a few good ones, intermixed with some truly terrible ones, but they have ALWAYS put a smile on my children's faces. (Well, except for the infamous Barney one I made when Megan was two and she looked at it completely straight-faced and asked, "What is that?") 

A couple days before Drew's birthday, Joshua and Drew were home sick from school. Joshua had been throwing up, and I had NO IDEA what or who was next for our family. (We had a bad 2-3 week  sick period around here.) I detest store bought cakes, especially for children's birthdays, with the exception of ice cream cakes, which I cheated and did for Ellie a day late last year after she'd spent her birthday in LA with Mike.

I mentioned a Dairy Queen cake to Drew and told him, perhaps we could go and see if they had a Curious George pattern they could make for him. Drew was soooo excited, that he requested we go right then and there. Which we did. Him in his pajamas, with a pale-sick face, (I'm a good mom like that.) and me feeling relief at the possibility of not having to make a birthday cake.

Lo and behold, there in the freezer of Dairy Queen was a Curious George cake made up, ready for sale. I think I felt such exhaustion at the previous few weeks of my life (remember post-surgery, two cases of strep, couple cases of stomach flu, etc.) I may or may not have started crying when I saw the perfect George cake staring back at me.

Drew loved it. I loved it. And I felt zero guilt the morning of his birthday not having a birthday cake to make.

We ended up the day as a family enjoying a picnic at a park.

According to the newly turned 6 year old, "It was the best day ever."

I loved Luke's sentiments on Drew's birthday when he exclaimed, "I love birthdays at our house. Even when it isn't mine. I just love birthdays."

I do too.

PS-I really should do a whole blog post about Megan's new vlogging hobby. She recorded a lot of great highlights of Drew's birthday, including Mike and me on a teeter-totter... Her vlogs will surely be treasures one day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Joshua's Special Day

I've relaxed a lot over the years, and the day of Joshua's baptism was proof. Because amid all the preparations for a baptism service, (us singing a musical number, a child giving a talk, change of underwear and towels, etc. etc.) , plus 40+ people converging at my house for dessert a few hours later, when I pulled out Joshua's white shirt from his closet and realized it was FILTHY,  I... actually laughed out loud. (I may actually have said "damn-it" first, but I did laugh out loud. I promise.)

My toilets were clean for guests to use in a few hours, my sliding glass door wiped free of finger prints, and the kitchen floor swept of debris. But Joshua's shirt, that he hasn't even worn for two weeks (didn't go to church last week due to General Conference), was neglectfully left in his closet with nary a thought about it until 20 minutes before he was due at the church.

Luke was dressed in a brand new suit at his baptism, and of course the girls in perfectly new and clean white dresses at theirs. But not the poor 4th child. He wore a white shirt a size too small.

But I was more relaxed, calm and pleasant than at any of the others, and that's what really matters.

Joshua's baptism service was simple and beautiful.

As Latter-day Saints (Mormons), we believe that baptism is done at eight years of age because it is the age of accountability; the age of discerning between right and wrong. Baptism at age 8, isn't so much the symbolic "washing away of sins" (children under 8 don't "sin") as it is making a promise to follow Jesus, and the first step to returning to live with God and Jesus again.

Four of my children have now been baptized, and for some naive reason, I think my children are going to be so overcome with the baptism ordinance and commitment they are making, that they will be committed to never again disobey, or do wrong. You'd think I of all people would remember children are NOT PERFECT, but instead I seemed shocked somehow when just hours after Joshua's baptism, Drew came into the house to tattle, "Joshua just called me an idiot." (An absolute no-no in our house!)

Four kids, four burst bubbles: baptism doesn't equal perfection.

I looked at Drew and smiled and suggested, "Why don't you go outside to Joshua and say, 'Congratulations. You've just made your first mistake.'" To which Mike piped up, "Perhaps you could offer to help him repent?"

Maybe you had to be there.
But it was funny.

Saturday was a good day. As our home and yard were filled with family and friends that love Joshua and our family, I couldn't help but smile. These days are fleeting, and when I came across these little children sitting out on the step eating ice cream, I couldn't help but wish time would freeze for just a few moments. Instead it keeps marching forward and before I know it, these photos of young children will be only a memory.

They are only young once.

(Damon, Elizabeth, Miles, Drew, Jonah, Joshua)

This photo was taken the next day. 
(Drew, Cousin Kate, Cousin Annie, and Joshua)

Life is good.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Pum

I keep thinking about all the things I should blog about but instead for now I'll share with you Drew's "pum" that he memorized. Not sure what is more darling, the way he says "pum" instead of "poem", or the actual video...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Permanent Records

From a fairly young age I have loved writing in a journal. I wrote my first journal entry when I was 4 years old in my green hardback journal. I wrote on and off for years growing up, and then when I was about 13, I wrote faithfully daily up until the day I got married. It's been spotty for the past 18 years, but lately, I've been rededicated to writing regularly in my personal journal. (There's just soooo much I don't want to forget about life in all of its ups and downs.)

Every so often I do my best to get my children to follow suit and write regularly in journals too. Ellie is the only one that does it on her own, and I LOVE IT!! Luke is asked to do it every so often, and it is probably one of his least favorite things to do. But like I told him a couple of weeks ago, when there was apparently "nothing to write about." "Just write about ANYTHING!You'll be happy you have recorded the daily stuff of your life."

He must have got the idea, because he proceeded to write about an incident that will likely be fun (for some?) to remember one day. Luke gave a brief synopsis of the event (he is required to do at least 6-8 sentences!), but instead of taking a photo of his version (privacy?), I'll share briefly my own version of it.

On a pleasant Sunday afternoon two weeks ago, Joshua walked into the house from playing in the backyard wearing only his underwear. Of course I was immediately alerted to something being wrong and I asked him what in the world he was doing, and WHERE. WERE. HIS. CLOTHES?!?

As I looked at the family room window to the trampoline, and listened to Joshua's version of the incident, it all fell into place. Luke, Joshua, Drew and a couple of neighbor boys were jumping on the trampoline, when Luke thought it would be funny to chain Joshua to the side of the trampoline and see if he could get himself free. Which Joshua was able to do...but he had to leave his clothes chained to the trampoline in order to gain freedom.

I didn't laugh (at the time). I went outside, yelled at Luke, sent the neighbor boys home, and instructed Joshua to go back and retrieve his clothes. Luke's defense was, he wouldn't have done it to anyone but his own brothers. Mike laid on the couch throughout the whole incident trying not to laugh.

Someone asked me the other day, why I don't write blog posts as much anymore. She complimented me on being funny and writing well in the past, and asked why I stopped. I didn't really have an answer, except to say, that maybe as my children get older, they do less funny things, or more accurately, they do things that are sorta funny/sorta questionable. Such as chaining a brother up to a trampoline and him having to strip down to his undies to get free. Perhaps good judgement would say to keep it in the personal journals only. But here we are. (Which really, now that I think about it...sharing the yellow snow incident a few years ago was questionable too.)

(Joshua drew a picture of the trampoline experience in his journal later that evening to go along with the above entry.)

It just so happened Drew chose the exact same thing to write and draw about that Sunday evening too.

And now I have a whole blog post about an incident I had no intention of recording. I was going to write about journals and how much I love Ellie's journals that she always invites me to read. (I'll give her privacy and won't take a photo of them.) I love how much she writes about herself. Love it! She'll surely treasure those written monologues one day.

Megan on the other hand, has discovered a new way to record her life.
Oh boy.
Megan's biggest fan is herself, and her newest hobby is perfect for her.
She can talk all she wants to a camera and nobody has to interrupt her to get a word in, or tell her to stop talking.
And she gets to edit the hours of her chatter to her greatest priority. It's quite a good hobby for a self-proclaimed narcissist. (insert winky face)

You can watch her introductory vlog here. (And if you really love it...there's more on YouTube!)

Now. Go record something permanent yourself!
You won't regret it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Good Mom

Social media has been making me crazy lately.


Because of all the declarations of, "You're such a good mom!" or "You're the best mom ever!" Last week it was because of leprechaun mischievousness, traps, treats, and green meals.

By these standards, it makes those of us who didn't do or wear anything "green" except grant permission to the 5 year old to go ahead and pinch me for refusing to conforming to the cliche-ness of the day, appear to be the opposite of "Good mom!" or "Fun mom!" or "Best mom ever!"

Today, I read a Facebook status of a friend leaving on a long(ish) trip with her husband. She hasn't left her children for 5 years, and she was lamenting how difficult it was to think about leaving, and the tears, etc. One commentor stated, "It's because you're an Awesome  Mom!" Though, I could relate to the tears and anxiety about leaving. Is that really what makes someone an awesome mom? I was much that way, until I've traveled more frequently in the last couple of years. And though I miss my children, I LOVE time alone with Mike. On our last trip alone? I didn't cry. I may or may not have even missed them a lot. My enjoyment in basking in the present, and realizing real life would return all to quickly, didn't even make me question once, whether or not I was an "awesome" mom.

There's lots of good moms out there! Nearly every mother I know is a good mom, whether or not they dye their milk green on March 17th or cry when they leave their children for a few days.

Reasons I AM a "good mom" in my own right:

I smiled when the 13 year old wrote his name in the dust on the furniture.

I picked up throw up chunks off the church carpet from my 5 year old. (more on that later)

I sat at the dining room table and talked with  my 16 year old, when I really, really wanted to go to bed.

I spent 20 minutes letting the 10 year old ask me question after question for a "Questionnaire Diary" just when I was about to pick up and read a new book.

I held a sad 7 year old on my lap, when I had 20 guests arriving in 30 minutes and food to finish preparing.

I am a good mom. I'm quite certain you are too.

But it likely has nothing to do with whether or not leprechauns came to your house last week, or if you picked up chunks of throw-up at church yesterday.

Rant over.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Crocodiles in Africa

Beginning a few months ago, Drew has had a fascination with Africa. For a good two weeks, he asked questions incessantly about Africa. "Why don't we ever go to Africa?" "Can we go to Africa this summer?" "Is it scary in Africa?" "Do they have cities in Africa?" "What?! People live in Africa?"

I'm quite certain Drew's love of Africa comes from his deep love for monkeys.

Drew's obsession with Africa has lifted over the last few weeks. Well until last Sunday that is. Since then it's been rekindled, but with a depressing twist to it.

Crocodiles eating animals and people.

Megan was in charge of our weekly Family Home Evening this last week. She pulled out an old (LDS) church video, titled, "Spiritual Crocodiles." Mike remembered seeing it during his youth. I, on the other hand had never seen it before. (Or perhaps I would have questioned the appropriateness of it for a child that loves Africa!?)

With genuine apology for the spoiler alert, the video shows an antelope being eaten by a crocodile, and then without showing it, the viewer realizes a man is also eaten by a crocodile.

The analogy is very good. I loved it...

For my older children.

But for Drew?

He didn't get the lessons of "temptation" or "avoiding bad things." Drew didn't comprehend mud-waters and traps being likened to sin and wrong-doing. All he could think about was crocodiles in AFRICA eating animals and people. In the short six and a half minute segment we watched of the video, Drew's romanticized fascination with Africa was tainted with crocodiles not only living in its waters, but eating its animals and people!

When the video ended, Drew sat on the couch trying hard not to cry. We cajoled him along in participating with our "hunt for crocodiles" activity Megan had arranged, and before long it seemed the video was forgotten.

Or so I thought.

The next morning, Drew enjoyed a very full bath alone. As usual I was nearby, but not close enough for Drew's liking. He exclaimed aloud to me, "Mom! You might want to come watch me be a crocodile." So I moved closer and observed a crocodile-like-child making his way through the tub water. Quickly, Drew arose from the water, and with a serious and sullen face voiced, "I am so glad I was not that animal that got eaten by a crocodile."

And with his announcement, Drew was finished being a pseudo crocodile in the water. He immediately wanted to get out of the tub. I was irritated he didn't stay in there very long for how full the water was, but the look on his face, though completely irrational, was enough for me to give in and allow gallons of warm, soapy water to be wasted.

His obsessive questions have ceased from being about Africa, and he is now completely obsessed about crocodiles and the danger they impose. ("And are there alligators in Africa too?")

I've decided to institute a new rule. Family Home Evening lessons and church video viewing now has to be approved by me.

PS-It's unfortunate that a couple of Drew's favorite people at our office happen to be the son and grandson of the "Spiritual Crocodiles" author. Usually my children love recognizing and reminding each other "that's so and so's"dad/grandpa. Except now for Drew. Right now, Drew can't believe someone's grandpa and dad would tell such a horrible story. (Even though Drew is mightily impressed that Jeff's grandpa has been to Africa and seen a crocodile. Never mind the fact that Drew's grandparents have been there too. Ho hum. )


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