Sunday, December 8, 2013

grateful thoughts

I knew this day was coming. My husband and I have now lived in this apartment longer than we've lived anywhere else together. (We didn't want to be here this long, but Heavenly Father has helped us change our attitudes.) I like figuring things out with dates. It's interesting how many times the same duration of time has been significant for us. Let me explain. As of yesterday we have lived here for two years and seven months. We had been married for two years and seven months when we became parents. We lived in that condo -- Shboogoo's first home -- for two years and seven months. She was two years and seven months old when Second Girl was born. My husband spent almost that long living on the opposite side of the world during his deployments, and there is almost that much space between Second Girl and Third Girl. They are just over two years and six months apart.

I feel grateful today:

For these memories, my husband, and our children. For the priesthood blessing he gave me last week when I had a very bad headache. For my Savior and His birth, death, and resurrection. For Christmas devotionals and songs that are about Him. That I can sing and play the piano and serve in that way. For ups along with the downs. For the lessons that I hope I have learned (and re-learn) while we've been here, and the qualities I hope I am developing. For friends. For the good that is online, including a blog post called Hope for Dark TimesFor my first Time Out For Women, and my sister's friend who told us we could attend it for free because of their scholarship. 
my sister, Hilary Weeks, and me at Time Out For Women
I'm grateful for what I have. I don't have some other woman's nice shoes, ability to decorate her home and do her hair well, or strong flat belly -- but I have First Girl, Second Girl, and Third Girl (I think their real names when I think about this). I was not in a good mood this morning, and I'm still going through a hard time. But I am so glad that Heavenly Father is patient with me. I am grateful that I felt an abundance of the Holy Spirit during church, that I remembered personal spiritual blessings from the past, that I have a ward family, and that all of this strengthened me today. I love this verse from the Book of Mormon:
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

L at four years old

Here's another update (finally). This time it's about Second Girl.

I think she's even cuter in this July 4th photo than in the June photos.
This gorgeous girl turned four back in June, so she's four years and five months old now. Daddy was at AT as usual during more than half of that month, so we had her party in July. The party was a success, but I don't feel like uploading those photos. We had it in the church's Primary room with a few of her friends and some extended family. The kids enjoyed playing musical chairs.

Her actual birthday was fun and simple. The first fun thing was our healthy breakfast banana-oat cookies that each had four dark chocolate chunks on top. I make the cookies often (based on this recipe and I replace the oats part with oats / cooked beans / unsweetened shredded coconut) but had not put those chunks on them before. L's cookie was the biggest and we put her "numbah foh" candle in it. I think we just relaxed and did what we needed to at home. Then we went to a park we hadn't been to before and played there for a long time. She and First Girl are such good friends. It seems like we went to my mom's house, maybe for dinner. The day ended with homemade frozen fruit bars and her for some reason falling asleep on the living room floor.

She makes me so happy. She's almost always the first kid up in the morning, and she comes to find me and give me a hug. From age three to age four she became good at drawing people and other things, and she learned how to write her nickname. She doesn't need help with anything when she uses the bathroom anymore, unless it's #2.

She has learned to love preschool, which she started on October 1st. We had to wait for an opening in the free one at the elementary school -- the school First Girl attended last year. I think the preschool friend L has mentioned the most is David B. (who also has a sibling attending the other school for dual immersion, so his mom picks up First Girl for me on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I pick up her daughter on Fridays). There are also three other kids from our ward in the afternoon preschool class with her. L loves the art projects, and telling me about the stations in the classroom and the snacks. The teachers said she is quiet and behaves well. She did very well on almost everything they tested her on a few weeks ago, like knowing letter sounds and which words rhyme.

We all love the songs she makes up. She has an imaginary song folder for her songs -- I'm not sure if this was her idea or her sister's. She'll say "this is a song that I have in my song folder." There was one about colors and there's one called "There's so many of me." Last December she said, "I like to say 'hey!' at the end of songs. But always they don't say 'hey.' But in my ones they say 'hey.'" A weird song she sang just last month included "It is the best thing you could never see: curly hair."

Her speaking voice is so cute, too, with kind of lisp. I wrote down (then typed up -- I guess you can say "wrote up" but you can't say "typed down," can you?) some of the funny, imaginative, and smart things she has said since the last time. This is only a few of many L sayings I've recorded. My sentences have curly brackets around them:

{There's our car.}
This is ours van.
Yeah, tug ['cause] it's white.

(After I sang part of a song from a kids' show I had removed from our Netflix queue, so it had come off our our TV.) We yoost have it on our tee-dee, but then it cummed off.

My food just fell on the floor and I picked it up.

{Your banana?}
Yeah, and my Craisins. It’s not really good to tell your parents that.

(As we walked home from the van after taking S to school, I saw our animal on top of the bush by our patio. She said something about giving the animal to S when she gets back.)

{Because it’s S’s?}
{You love her, don’t you.}
Yeah! I didn’t want to look when the doctor gave her the shot. I was gonna cry.
{Aww, that’s so sweet. You’re being like Jesus. You care about people’s feelings.}
Jesus knows everything. I don’t know everything.

A dog wouldn't want to eat that [gunk I cleaned off the stove].
{But sometimes dogs eat things that people think are yucky.}
Like Bwussel pouts like I don't like?
{I don't know, but some people like me like them.}
I think a dog would like pizza.
(After talking with her and S I figured out that she was thinking of the dog in the Stephen Cartwright 1-2-3 book.)

{Are you good at coloring?}
Yeah, because I’m cute.
{Does being cute make you good at coloring?}

When I said I needed to go poo, it was a joke.
{You're a joke.}
Oh, I know why i'm a joke. Because I love to eat artijokes!

You’re just a servant, not a pwincess. . . . [We wouldn’t break the bed] but if you jump on the bed you will, but for weal. . . . I’m pretending that I’m talluh. . . . they won’t bweak the bed, ‘cause they’re more magical -- the people that are fancy. And I have a fancy cat. . .. I have so many stuff. And my cat can talk. . . . Servant? May you please make muffins. 
{You mean waffles.}
Yeah. I forgot. I have a very silly queen. I am very silly. I get all mixed up.

Mommy, have you ever seen a baby butterfly?
{I don’t know if I have.}
I think I know why you haven’t seen one. They might not be on this earth.
{Butterflies are on Earth. You’ve seen them before.}
I know a other ansuh [answer] why you might not have seen ‘em. They might be kinda shy.

(While coloring the Daniel page and paper food from Primary.) So his mom said, ‘be very careful when you carry the food who are in dishes, because they're bweakable.’ . . . So that's what he was doing when he was cahweeing [carrying] some. But on the way he accidentally bwoke one teeny piece of the bowl. . . . If the whole dish bwakes, I'm gonna be weally mad. That's what the queen said. The queen is his mom. And he was wehwing [wearing] vewy pretty clothes. . . . If there's a problem that happened, he should tell his mom wight away.
{If something happened?}
Yeah, to the dishes, and the dwink. . . . If he dwopped the corn then his mom wouldn’t be weally mad, ‘cause it’s not in a dish, and it’s not a drink. It was only on the gwass. And he was gonna bwing his pet named Octo to the picnic.

The other pwincesses, they have black lipstick on . . . Someone fired their lipstick, so now it’s burned. . . Yeah, so that why it’s black. . . . I was so so pwitty that they didn’t wanna fire mine.
{You mean burn?}

I don’t like the way you are talking [in a British accent].
{Why not?}
It’s funny and I don’t like funny.
{But you’re doing it, too.}
No I am not.

Another day during AT -- we sent this to Daddy in a text message. These girls both love to stand on any big rock, and they usually do a little song and dance performance on the rock, too.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

it's for YOU.

Hearing these words from a holy man one week ago was undeniably an experience for me personally. But not for me only.

She had an urgent need to feel that she wasn’t alone—that God was aware of her and had not abandoned her. That bread—the very thing she wanted—was delivered to her by someone she barely knew, someone who had no knowledge of her need but who listened to the prompting of the Spirit and followed that prompting. It became an obvious sign to Tiffany that her Heavenly Father was aware of her needs and loved her enough to send help. He had responded to her cries for relief.
My dear sisters, your Heavenly Father loves you—each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there.
As we seek our Heavenly Father through fervent, sincere prayer and earnest, dedicated scripture study, our testimonies will become strong and deeply rooted. We will know of God’s love for us. We will understand that we do not ever walk alone. I promise you that you will one day stand aside and look at your difficult times, and you will realize that He was always there beside you. I know this to be true in the passing of my eternal companion . . .

I am incredibly grateful to know that Heavenly Father understands and loves me. He loves you, His child! I am very grateful for the influence and gift of the Holy Ghost. I invite you to watch and listen to prophets speak during General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints online, by clicking on this photo. I think you'll be inspired, no matter what religion you belong to.

P.S. You can read all of that talk from the annual women's meeting here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Girl at six and a half

This sweet, affectionate, smart, helpful, creative, good person is close to being seven years old! She has been six and a half since May. A few days later she lost her first tooth, and a few days after that she finished kindergarten. (It's funny how much longer the second loose tooth was loose compared to the first. The new tooth grew in behind it but the baby tooth was also there, until it finally fell out a week or two ago.) The photo below is of her in May. It's the one we have hanging up in our living room, too.

Before that, in April, I started teaching her piano lessons, and she has easily learned a few songs with chords in the left hand and the melody in the right hand. I'm using my old teacher's unique system. She likes the theory we do during lessons. Our only challenges are: 1) that sometimes I kind of get busy with other things and forget, so we have the lesson a day or two late. 2) that sometimes she doesn't want to try to play something that I'm telling her to play. She cries and says it's too hard. But she does it.

She and Second Girl have great imaginations. It seems like mostly the younger one goes along with the older one's ideas. They like to have First Girl pretend be the mom or the teacher. She is a little too bossy sometimes, though. One day in July they built a "road that leads to the man who knows everything" -- it's pictured below but the road was much longer.

They played a lot with Amy this summer, and swam with her once. They also started playing more with another neighbor, Nate. Sometimes both Amy and Nate were over at our place at the same time. Some of the things they liked to do together were to ride the bike, scooter, and trike on the sidewalk, or use the Marble Works or musical instrument toys or the iPad.

First Girl enjoyed helping me come up with things for our summer fun to-do list. I'm glad we made the list. We took the kids to see the outside of the house my family lived in from about age five to seven and a half, and we walked on that street a little. I showed them where Mommy and Daddy met, to see where my dad works, and to special libraries (in addition to some story times at another library -- not on the list). We watched Enchanted together, which they hadn't seen. Those are just a few examples. . . . Some of the things on the list we didn't do yet because they cost money and/or because I want him to be with us when we do them.

She started first grade a month ago. She likes eating lunch at school, and she loves the Spanish dual immersion program. She sings some of the cute Spanish songs to me. I love her voice (both speaking and singing). I'm looking forward to my meeting with both of the teachers, because she's such a good reader and the assignments and other papers I see she gets from the English teacher are easy. I don't know if she is considered gifted or just reads at a higher level. She is also good at writing, drawing, and explaining things. 
Yes, she wanted to wear the same shirt again. :)
I love that she likes to tell me things, and go on dates with me, and will still hold my hand. She hugs me when I pick her up from school. She likes to be near me and is interested in what I do on the computer, but she doesn't mind me going places without her. She is great at helping her younger sisters; often what they need is a comforting hug but in this picture she simply wanted to hug and kiss C.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

the two of us

Wow. It's the middle of September! I have never gone this long between posts, and I know my last two were short. Thanks for reading. Here is the first of some updates on our family.  

:: me ::
Mother's Day 2013

With two of my siblings on my mom's birthday -- I stole my friend's idea (she did it for her dad) by having people write my mom letters, and she said it was the best gift she has ever received. That makes me happy.
Hmm, what to say about myself. . . . I'm enjoying my life. The hours and the weeks go by pretty fast. Summer vacation was super fast but wonderful. I love being a stay-at-home mom and I am so grateful I get to spend a lot of time with these angels (we're working on them being angelic when we ask them to put their things away or do other things that they don't want to do). They make me smile and laugh often. I like that they have friends in the neighborhood that they play with often, too, and grandparents nearby to help us. I get a little bit of time to myself in the morning, at least enough to pray and read The Book of Mormon. I can also have alone time after the kids are in bed on most of the nights when my husband is working. It's nice that he's home by 9 or 10 p.m. usually. I like watching a show on Netflix with him, but I also like when we just talk.

Lately I have been exercising for 30-40 minutes some time before lunch, 4-6 days a week. It's usually closer to 6 days a week than 4, of running or HIIT cardio or both. In spite of that, I have a belly that sticks out. It's not my fault that I look pregnant, I guess -- it's because of my umbilical hernia and diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles). I am definitely not pregnant. There's probably some fat there but I don't know how much because of whatever weird stuff is happening underneath. I can grab a little fat on my inner thighs, but there isn't any anywhere else. Well, I found a lot of diastasis recti information on youtube, including exercises to heal it, so I'm doing them as part of my strength training 3 days a week. I have "before" pictures but not enough has changed to take "after" pictures. I am trying to eat even more like the Eat to Live weight loss plan, which includes fewer grains/starches and processed foods and more vegetables (especially cruciferous ones). And I am trying to be patient with my body even though it's been a while since I gave birth. The other day I talked to my midwife, who referred me to a doctor that I will meet with this Friday to get more information about getting laparascopic surgery to make my belly flatter like it used to be.

:: him ::

June 2013
September 2013
My cute husband is still working hard at his three jobs. He did not get the railroad job he wanted, and we don't know why they didn't even interview him. But he did basically get an offer for something different, a position we had sort of given up on because it had been so long. It's still taking a while but it might happen: he might be a highway patrol trooper! Apparently they are always doing the hiring process, so he is on the list or his file is in the stack or whatever, and when they need him they will call. First he had an interview -- actually, I think it was two. Then we turned in his packet for the background check in November. Yep, ten months ago. In February they told us that a lot of people had applied, so we would have to wait a few extra weeks. Then they actually did the background check, and an employee met with him in our home. On May 23rd they talked about why he wants to be a trooper, and they gave him a piece of paper that is a conditional offer of employment. He took a polygraph test, psychological evaluation (both of those the hardest things he has ever done), and a physical all in the week before leaving with his unit for Annual Training. Another three months have passed. . . . He doesn't want to continue forever with what he's doing, and he has hard days (with his depression) every once in a while probably more often than I realize, but the Lord is blessing us. My husband is in very good shape physically because he really wants to get a certain score on his next Army PT test. He works out early before his full time job and told me he likes that he's "a runner," which he hasn't been in a few years. 

Side note: he and I have never lived together this long before. Between his deployments we had almost three years together. But now he has been back for three years and four months.

:: us ::

This summer he decided that we needed to get away to relax without the kids for more than just a couple of hours. I agreed. So we went on an approximately 26-hour date and had a really great time. It was Friday to Saturday August 9th-10th. {Third Girl survived that time without breastfeeding (I was fine too), and was happy to continue when she saw me again. My goal is two years.} Since some of our little family had been sick back in April when it was our anniversary, and D and I never did much to celebrate, this was like a 4-months-late anniversary vacation. I'm not sure if we will take the whole family on a trip any time soon, which is okay. It will just be that much more exciting and special when we finally do, right? Anyway, here are some of the pictures from our big date! It was so nice to be in the hot tub and pool at night. This was also his first time in a tram, he thinks, and his first time rock climbing, which surprised me. I love being married to him.

It was  cold and gorgeous.
My view as I walked out of the lodge to start my morning run.

I overcame my fear on the ropes course. I walked on most of the areas.

Although this doesn't show any of the bikers, it was neat being at one of the Tour of Utah venues! I want a bike. . . . Also, we might have felt the need to return to our kids sooner if it were not for the road being closed in the afternoon. :)

(My hair flips out if I don't straighten it. And he's even better-looking than he seems in some photos.)

He had the day off for Labor Day so he and I did some good work on our home, with the kids helping, too. We rotated our rug so the couch covers the stains. And we switched bedrooms with the kids (this took more than one day, and a lot of it was done by Saturday night). It's much better! We haven't taken pictures yet, but not all of the items, wall decorations, etc. are in place. We have the smaller bedroom but it's nice that it has a bigger closet, and the three girls have more room to play in their room now.

We are still in a 2-bedroom apartment, even though at first we thought we would only stay for a year or so. We just signed a new lease, our fourth one, because we're waiting to hear about which city he will be working in. Anyway, these changes are good. We like the layout of the furniture better now; changing bedrooms helped it feel kind of like a new placeOne day soon after Labor Day he swept and straightened up the patio, I gave the toddler's seat (not quite a high chair) a bath and did three loads of laundry, etc. I still need to thoroughly clean the blinds. We got rid of junk including shirts I've had a long long time, and some toys and other kid things. I'm pretty sure that I have blogged before about the fact that it's hard for me to let go of stuff. I have gotten better with my husband's help. We know we made the right decision by not moving out yet. We had actually told the people at the leasing office that we planned to move out September 14th, but it wouldn't have been worth the stress and the other costs, since we would likely move again less than a year later. It's good to be able to still serve in this ward, where my husband has only taught Gospel Doctrine class a few times so far. I also have a fairly new calling.

Friday, July 5, 2013

video: toddler walking with a shopping cart

Today's goal is to put away lots of clean laundry. Believe it or not, I do have stuff I want to blog about. For now, enjoy this video I made last week. Everyone in the store thought C was so cute. She totally is.

Friday, May 31, 2013

friday evening haiku

kids color paper,
mommy grates vegetables, to
classical music.

by Manda, 5.31.13

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Easter weekend 2013

Besides some sickness in our family, mostly my husband, this was a really great Easter! We didn't dye any eggs and none of us felt like we were missing out (the kids didn't say anything about it). On Easter Sunday I felt the Spirit before, during and after church. I know my Savior lives and loves me and that I need Him.

The day before Easter I took the girls to our ward's Primary Easter party. I stayed for "Pin the Tail on the Rabbit" and the bunny hop sack races, and then I went for a lovely walk/run with Third Girl in our little stroller. The leaders gave the kids activity books and snacks that had Christian messages on them. The bag of pretzels says that the pretzel shape was designed to remind us of arms folded to pray; I'd never heard that before.

after the party

We have church at 9:00 this year, which is an early time for us. After we got home from church the kids were patient as I put their baskets together. We had told them at least the day before how it was going to be. I hid their baskets in the living room, and then my husband made First Girl's even more challenging to find. These dolls from Walgreens really are pretty cute, and were very cheap. We had been there buying some things we needed when the girls told me that they wanted these dolls. I made a few more trips to different Walgreens stores by myself to be able to buy the right kind and have them not be identical. Oh, they named them Tina and Rosette. I'm not positive which name goes with whose doll, because they switched.

I guess C could have had a new doll, too. We gave her some dried fruit and a few Easter things that we already had (to play with for a few minutes). In sandwich bags inside their tissue-paper-wrapped carrots the other two also had dried fruit -- I think just banana chips and prunes -- plus pecans, walnuts, almonds, and a little bit of dark chocolate candy. Even though my husband thinks I'm crazy for it, I'm happy to reuse my shredded green paper because I hate the Easter "grass" the stores sell. Especially the stuff that's not even green. 

Of course I made the kids pose for pictures, and the sun was too bright. But I couldn't wait until evening, which was good lighting last Easter, because I knew we wouldn't be home in the evening. I do like the pictures we got.

Soon after that we went over to my Mom's house. My poor husband slept in the spare bedroom most of the time we were there. We talked, had dinner, went for a lovely walk in her neighborhood, and watched a little of a Book of Mormon Stories DVD. I think the part we found showed Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. My family ended up doing the Twelve Days of Easter eggs as a family home evening another day.
My niece was crawling around a lot. I like how you can see on the deck the dirt that her brother had dumped out of the pot.
All of our kids have worn these bunny slippers.
(First Girl had a little owie on her chin.)


Edited to add this. Yep, they look a year older!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

March 2013 (besides Easter)

I love this. He does, too.

We had our Relief Society birthday dinner on March 5th. I really felt the Spirit when some ladies read true stories of trials women have endured. A member of our ward's new R.S. presidency taught us how to make these Easter decorations. She's been making them for years and when her kids were young she sold enough of them to buy her kids bunk beds! Before the dinner, she had made the eggs out of sugar. Then she had us put the frosting on, and use frosting to glue the parts inside the egg and the flower on top. When I got my kids from the nursery to go home, they wanted to make their own eggs, too, and they were happy that we got to take extra stuff home so they could. Shboogoo said we had to add our initials so we would know whose was whose.

On Saturday March 9th the girls and I went shopping at Whole Foods, and I just thought they were adorable. The little one was clapping, and then she enjoyed holding my wallet. We had not known that we would be able to see a huge wheel of cheese. My favorite part was that because of the kids' club they each got a free piece of fruit, so I got to eat some delicious organic red pear.

The next day, we went to my brother-in-law Aaron's new apartment. He had invited everyone over to see it, have dinner, and also celebrate my sister-in-law's tenth birthday. Aaron's girlfriend did a wonderful job decorating. Unfortunately my husband couldn't come because of drill. However, after that he was able to sit with me and hold my hand during a fireside while my mom watched the kids. The speaker, author Chris Williams, talked about his experiences and encouraged us to forgive and to "get busy serving others." He said so many inspiring things.
L with Papa. And you can see some of Aaron's 500+ DVD collection.

On St. Patrick's Day (Sunday this year) I made sure we all had some green on and we put a cheap green tablecloth on our dining room table. I had created a little sign for the holiday. It says "Not lucky -- BLESSED!" and our kids love it. Dinner that night was some steamed cabbage, fresh tomato, corned beef and potatoes, and a fried egg. That's what my husband and older kids ate, but not me, because I was doing a strict two-week anti-headache diet that Dr. Fuhrman wrote about in Eat to Live. By the way, my headache didn't completely go away, but I didn't have a more severe one during that time, either. I do think that certain foods can be problematic, and I might do the diet again. It's great that at least 90% of his patients who ate this way were headache-free after the first three months. I know headaches are complicated, though, and that I don't want to take drugs very often. I definitely felt better overall, and more energy, the day in the middle of March when I had my first chiropractic adjustment since I was pregnant in 2011, and an acupuncture treatment right after. It was my first experience with acupuncture. Anyway . . . St. Patrick's Day (and Easter window clings):

In March we started to buy some of the things on our "things to buy with our tax return" list, including good shoes and work pants for Dad. For me the most exciting thing (at least until we get a new mattress and a high-speed blender) was our new cameraIt's a Canon Powershot SX150. My husband and I looked online and Target was selling this point-and-shoot camera for more than half off! So the next morning, Saturday, he and L went and purchased the very last one at that store. It has a better zoom and everything than our nice camera that broke, but I haven't taken the time to learn about everything it can do.

I wasn't excited about the reason for the first photo I took with the new camera: our oldest got pink eye (conjunctivitis). None of our kids had ever had it, until C did a few months ago. Shboogoo's teacher noticed she was itching her eye a lot. We took her to the doctor the next morning, and started putting in prescription drops and Genteal preservative-free drops. She stayed home from school on that Friday, Monday and Tuesday (soon before spring break, but this stuff is really contagious).

Of course the middle child got pink eye a few days later, and after a while the youngest got it too (second time for her). The eye goop wasn't too bad; First Girl and Third Girl each had just one morning when they couldn't open their eyes. But then there was coughing, too. My husband's all better, but when I started the draft for this post I wrote "D sometimes coughs pretty bad after laughing." He only went to one church meeting on Easter. I'm grateful that I didn't get sick, besides having to blow my nose for two or three days. . . .

Another new thing we bought was a phone, because I needed a new one. This is the one I chose. The price was $0.99 plus a fee.

Near the end of March we celebrated my niece's first birthday and had a great time with my extended family and my sister's husband's. I liked their Strawberry Shortcake theme. It was sweet how the birthday girl started to hand little pieces of her cupcake to her brother, and he was cute pushing the clubhouse mop and bucket around.
birthday girl with Uncle Nick