Monday, October 13, 2014

Megan and Drew

Though there is some definite musical talent with each of our children, the first and the last have a love for music that goes far beyond talent alone.

Megan and Drew will often be found in the piano room singing, playing the piano, playing the harp, conducting music, etc.

This little duet they did yesterday afternoon made me teary for so many reasons.

I don't think you have to be LDS and/or recognize the song to appreciate the tenderness of the singing. Megan will be less than thrilled that her singing has to be heard first, but Drew's part and then the duet part is too tender not to share.

And I know I'm biased, but seriously, take the almost two minutes of your day to enjoy it.

PS-And who can't love almost 13 year old Luke's enthusiasm for his little brother's performance at the end of the video?!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

16


I can remember the morning of October 12th, 1998 like it was yesterday. I was laying on the couch reading a Time magazine (was I ever really interested in that sort of thing?!?), and Mike sat in the office a few feet away working. I was wearing black leggings and a black and white striped t-shirt (the good old-fashioned baggy maternity type shirt) and as I got up to go to the bathroom, I questioned aloud, "Do you think this baby will ever really come?" (At my appointment the Friday before, the doctor had suggested I wouldn't make it through the weekend.)

My somewhat rhetorical question (Mike wasn't really listening to me anyway) ended up being a premonitory question, as my water broke just moments later and I suddenly went into a bout of denial that the baby really was coming, and told Mike it wasn't really a big deal, and we could just wait before doing anything about the issue at hand.

I remember every detail of the hours that followed but I'll spare you the details. And now, in what seems like the blink of an eye, sixteen years have passed since that Monday morning when I wondered if Megan would ever really come.

Sixteen years!!
Megan Eliza is 16!




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Brief Blurb

I have all sorts of blog post ideas written down on my writing list, but realistically, they just aren't getting written right now. Life has been very busy lately. A good busy, but busy. I have decided to take a much more active role within our company, and I have found myself capable of contributing some of my strengths to the business as a whole. There are some really exciting opportunities for me on the horizon, and I look forward to it. I am stretching myself beyond my comfort zone, and it feels good.

I also have found myself focused on my mornings with Drew. He wants to be outside playing most of the time with his friends, but I have made a very deliberate effort to really live each morning to the fullest with him. Next year he'll be in 1st grade all day. It is no longer a day I anxiously anticipate, as I always thought I would.

I'm also trying my hardest to be really, really present with my children after school. Some days it is hard. Too often five children talk to me at once, there is far too much homework cluttering our time, our kitchen table and our moods, and the fall weather is beckoning my children to be outside after school rather than working on their spreadsheets (chores/responsibilities). I'd be lying if I said that I never second guess my decision to let them be children first and foremost. But that's what I'm trying to do. There's still so much responsibility to teach them, chores for them to do, lessons they need to learn, homework that must get done, program guidelines they need to follow, etc. etc. etc.

But the stark realization that they are only young once rings through my head constantly, and that makes it easy to prioritize things far easier than it was, say, 3-5 years ago.

As a result of all of these things, some things (like writing) are getting a little neglected.
And that is OK.
(Repeat that three times in your head Tiffany. It is OK.)

As I've said before, I love Instagram for this very purpose. It provides a quick, snippet of a day or a moment and I'm hoping that years from now that simple photo and comment will be enough to recall a wonderful memory.

My life is full of so many moments worth remembering, and I'm realizing more and more I can't write essays about them all. Instead, I have found myself stopping what I am doing and basking in the moment with my child(ren). I've found myself looking in their eyes more, and letting distractions get in the way less. My children still make me crazier than crazy. But I shouldn't complain.

The messes, homework, scattered laundry, meal preparations, fingerprints, discarded socks, sand everywhere but the sandbox, garbage left in the car, cupboard doors left open, wet towels on the floor and hairdryers in the sink will not last forever.

This blurry photo is a prime example of what I'm trying to do more of...weeks ago Megan asked me to buy a few jars of baby food (some "okay" tasting ones, some disgusting ones"). I bought them and they've sat in the pantry since a couple weeks ago on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the children perched themselves up to the counter and begged Mike and me to administer the "tasting game."

It wasn't anything that memorable, but we all took turns laughing and it was a perfect example that a "nothing", really was an "everything." I love that I don't even have a decent photo to capture the memory...that isn't what it's about.



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Drew is FIVE and a HALF


A half birthday according to Drew...

"Aagh. I have to do homework? Well, it's my half birthday."
"Why are we having tacos for dinner? I should pick dinner. It's my half birthday."
"Can I not do my spreadsheet today? It's my half birthday."
"Luke! I get the first piece of cake. It's my half birthday."
"When are we eating the cake?" (repeated 3,473 times)


Monday, September 29, 2014

Life With Me Around

(Keswick Hall, VA--where my BFF and I stayed last week. More on it later...)

I returned home last night from having spent the last 6 days in Virginia and the Washington DC area. I vacationed alone with my BFF for the first part of the week, and then spent the last few days with my brother and his family in the DC area.

It was a glorious 6 days.

I've had the opportunity to travel without Mike or the children a fair amount the last year and a half, and I've done a little evaluating about the pros and cons of my absence. Though the children certainly don't jump up and down at the thought of me leaving, they do look forward to a little slower pace, a little less uptightness surrounding chores and schedules, and they enjoy the definite change in the routine.

Last night, after only being home about an hour, I was sitting at the kitchen table talking with Mike while Luke unloaded the dishwasher in the background. Out of the corner of my eye I observed him precariously balancing a glass dish sideways in the cupboard in a type of Tetris format. I snapped at him, as I also saw several other dishes in the same cupboard that didn't belong there.

Obviously a result of my absence for almost a week.

There were also no eggs, no cheese, no fresh fruit, and very empty fridge shelves. The result as Megan succinctly concluded, "Dad refused to go to the store." "The lack of food and the optimism that I'll grocery shop soon may have had something to do with the fact that just an hour after my return she said, "It's just sooo nice having you home."

On the flip side, the house was very clean (a couple of rooms were/are the exception). Which according to Luke was because, "All we did the whole week is Dad made us clean everything perfectly everyday." I was greeted last night with clean sheets on my bed (LOVE), and all homework was obviously completed and signed. (A pleasant contrast to the spring when I went to Europe and I returned home to find every single homework paper of Joshua's undone in a pile on my desk for me "to look through.") Overall, life at home didn't really skip a beat.

Mike and I are both pretty uptight parents, but in different ways. So in day-to-day life our children often don't get a break from crazy parents. I think they thrive well every once in a while to have a change of pace. I love that when I leave town, Mike and my children fully support me in my absence. Nobody minds that music doesn't get practiced quite as often, or that dirty socks lay in all the wrong places for who knows how long, or that nobody thinks to dust a piece of furniture.

Well, I kind of minded about the influx of dirty socks on the floor. But knowing the big, long list of things that DID get done, and all "the extras" Mike allowed seep into the week for the children makes me feel grateful that though they prefer life with me home, they know how to have a good time and survive just fine while I'm gone.

As Mike said last night, "I'm so glad you're back. I feel like I couldn't do my work well, or the home life well. It takes two of us." Mike and I make a pretty good team. I'm glad to be home. I have absolutely fallen in love with traveling and feel beyond blessed with the opportunities I have had to travel a fair amount, but there is truly "no place like home."

Dirty socks included.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Siblings

(A little Sunday afternoon balloon football game)

The other day, one of my children was telling a story about something a friend's family did, and as part of the explanation, the child explained that the friend was an only child.

The listening sibling said somewhat tenderly, "No brothers or sisters? That's sad."

It warmed my heart to think that one of my children would consider no siblings a "sad thing." I found myself noticing for the rest of the afternoon all the things that my children were doing with each other. 

Things like:
Luke took Drew on a horse ride.
Joshua and Drew were playing Hot Wheels.
Megan and Ellie were doing hair together.
Ellie and Joshua were on the trampoline.
Megan and Drew were singing a song.
Drew was sitting on Ellie's lap.

Yesterday morning, one of the children did their regular morning routine stuff a little out of order, and found themselves in a hurry to get showered and dressed. The change in this child's morning routine resulted in the bathroom being occupied when they were ready to get in the shower. The in-a-hurry-child stood at the bathroom door yelling at the sibling inside to hustle,and yelled further accusations that the occupant was probably sitting on the bathroom floor doing nothing. It resulted in yelling and anger from the in-the-bathroom child.

I kindly (it took great restraint) told the in-a-hurry-child they would need to go get in the other shower instead.

Within seconds of that suggestion, I heard screaming and crying from a third child. Wondering what in the world was happening, I hollered upstairs, "What happened?"

As the story goes, an innocent child was standing naked at the shower, literally ready to step in when the in-a-hurry-child pushed the naked sibling out of the way and took possession of the shower instead.

The in-a-hurry child was the same sibling, that a mere 36 hours previously had declared it to be "sad" that somebody would have no siblings. I'm not so sure (s)he felt that same way about the thought of not having any siblings on Wednesday morning.

In fact, I'm quite certain that on Wednesday morning none of the siblings in the Sowby Home would have agreed with the earlier pronouncement that being an only child was "sad."

Sometimes a houseful of siblings is not all it's cracked up to be.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Luke and Mike

Merely a coincidence that the two most recent blog posts are about Luke. Onto other children later...

On Instagram recently, a friend commented on a photo, "I wish I was one of your children, I'd like to see what trip I'd get to go on."

She was referring to the fact that Luke and Mike were in Seattle, WA at the NFL kick-off game with between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks .


Which I must explain...
In June 2013, we went on a family trip to California. We had an okay time, but for the most part, it was a nightmare.

A. NIGHTMARE.

More than once Mike and I looked at each other wondering what in the world we were doing, and I'm quite sure Mike swore on his life that he'd never go on a family vacation again.

With the combination of that less than stellar family vacation experience, and a high number of airline rewards points we have experimented with a new style of travel this year. In the winter, I took the two little boys to Disneyland, and we have been anticipating a trip to NYC this fall with our girls. One night in July, I started brainstorming about "trip ideas" for Luke and suddenly thought of a football game. His two favorite teams are the Packers and Seahawks, and so I looked at the schedules of each.

I could not believe my eyes that late Sunday night while laying in my bed, with my i-pad in my hand, when I saw that the Packers and the Seahawks were due to play each other on a THURSDAY night and in SEATTLE. (A much more desired destination than Wisconsin?) We had enough miles for free flights, and not knowing anything about typical NFL football ticket prices, it seemed like it was a trip worth making happen.

I take full credit for the idea, the booking, the accommodations, the preparation, the activity agenda, the printed directions, the instructions, the packing, etc. Mike gets full credit for paying for it.

Little did I know that when I bought the tickets, it was the NFL kick-off game. A pretty big deal in the world of NFL.

Megan is an avid football fan herself (this is just her 2nd season), but she is far more excited about an upcoming trip to NYC. She rallied the siblings around her for the big game and they watched it on tv, on slightly damp couches that had been professionally clean that day. (Our whole house was in complete disarray from the carpets being cleaned earlier in the day.)

The rest is pretty much history. Although I must make a disclaimer--that there are no spoiled children around here. These trips are no different than a family trip somewhere for the seven of us, and no trip would happen if we had to actually "pay" for the plane ticket. (We haven't "paid" for a plane ticket for a couple of years now...)
(I totally take credit for their plane seats being on the side that had a great view of Mount. St. Helen's volcano. Go me. (Sheer coincidence/luck.))
Anyway,
Back to Mike and Luke...

 (The view from their room. They're welcome. (Again...pure coincidence/luck.)

 (I loved visiting Seattle last September, and was so excited they got to see the Gum Wall that I had told them so much about.)

They spent a wonderful time together in Seattle last week. Luke wore his Packer's jersey to the game with his Seahawks t-shirt underneath. The day after the game, as they explored the city, Luke wore a Packers hat with a Seahawks shirt. Mike said he got humorous comments all day long from passers-by.


Mike loved it. And even though he did choke a little at the price of the trip, I know he is glad they went and I, we made it happen. Mike's comment to me the evening of their return?

"It was all so low-key. It was really nice, just being Luke and me. Even you there would have changed the dynamic drastically. We were both really laid-back, relaxed and had a great time."

Separately, Luke reported to me, "It was so fun just me and dad. I hope you know what I mean, but I'm even glad you weren't there."

Not quite sure exactly HOW to interpret either of those comments.

And that my friends is probably why full-seven-member-family-vacations are not really in our plans anymore.


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