I’ve Learned

  • The longer I go without blogging the worse the writer’s block gets.
  • I am suffering from extreme perfectionism.
  • After a couple years of not being able to pack without feeling nauseated or anxious, I have become a master packer!
  • Heath taught me a matrix style of gathering things to pack. I will be using that method again. I have a picture of it but I’ll have to get it later.
  • Going home packing is much easier! I eliminated bags left and right with my ultra stuffing and cramming.
  • As much fun as it was to get Tillie the cow from Tillamook, OR, I kind of wish we got an elk too. The elk signs are everywhere and they remind me of fun times with Heath on this trip.
  • This trip should be called the Hindsight Trip. Few things happened as we expected.
  • Café Rio has spread to Lynnwood, WA. It tasted marvelous. The employees were a little dense. They didn’t seem to understand or care that my experience with Café Rio goes all the way back to the original St. George, UT location. When they asked Heath if we wanted a punchcard they didn’t understand that there is no Café Rio in California and we don’t make it to Washington all that often! The food still tasted marvelous. Dumb employees, excellent food.
  • Once I tasted Costa Vida I liked it better than Café Rio. Over time my opinions have changed. Baja Fresh is the closest thing we have to this type of Cal Mex where we live. It’s good and all but just not the same. I have decided that it doesn’t matter. Costa Vida or Café Rio. Whatever is available it tastes like home. That Café Rio at the Alderwood Mall was the best thing I ate this whole trip.
  • The Original Wow Burger in somewhere with a W Oregon was pretty good too. Pretentious name but the food lived up to it. Of course it bumped my blood sugar up to the 400’s. You would think I didn’t even bolus for lunch. That bummed me out for a few hours.
  • Lately when I have been on “vacation” (if you can call mourning in Utah and preparing for a memorial service a vacation) I don’t bolus for anything. My blood sugars stay stable in a higher than they should be range but they’re stable and predictable. I do bolus for food on driving days because sitting in a car all day murders my blood sugar.
  • My kids are rockstars. I am so lucky they are mine! They are perfect the way they are. Man I love those kids!
  • The other night Gwen was getting a little out of control. She was excited to be with her cousins. It took a few reminders from Mom, Dad, and Grandma for her to calm down. After the cousins left Gwen apologized to Grandma for her behavior. Heath and I checked with each other later and found out neither one of us told her to do that. She came up with the idea all on her own. They can be taught!
  • I didn’t even know you guys were down there was my favorite compliment. A couple people said that when they found out the kids and I were chilling downstairs in Uncle Lindy’s clubhouse for 6 hours while Heath captured video of his mom’s family telling stories.
  • Well it’s a tie between that compliment and the one Uncle Lindy gave me about my blogging. He said he likes the unexpected point of view I use to tell my stories and he likes that when I write about religious things I do it in a very human way. The religious perspective in my mother in law’s family is varied so I was happy to hear that my religious experiences come out the way I expect them to. I’m not trying to convert anybody. Just trying to share my experiences.
  • Gavin found his soulmate in Heath’s uncle Charlie.
  • Everyone got a souvenir t-shirt but me. Hmm.
  • I can’t wait to get home. I miss my bed. I miss my house.
  • I almost forgot what my house looks like! Heath’s parents gave us a table that converts to an easel. The kids will use it as a craft table. Heath suggested we put it in the homework station, aka the upstairs hallway. When he said homework station I suddenly remembered how wide our hallways are!
  • Heath and I survived couples therapy beds in a beach house in Arch Cape. We’ve been able to share a bed since then but it’s not the same as being home. I can’t wait to sink into my own bed.
  • As much as I love the rain I sure hated it today. The rain was never heavy. More like eternal mist. Nearly impossible to drive in. I miss the drought in California! Just kidding. But I am looking forward to rediscovering my tan. The weather was really nice in Washington for much of the trip but my tan is fading fast.
  • There are many things I have learned in the last week and a half. This is just a preview of coming attractions. Or blog posts. At least I hope so. I have had many false starts. I have deleted all but one and that one may get deleted too. I think I need my own computer to blog on.

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to!

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Don’t you love those parental moments when you realize what an idiot you are? Today we celebrated Parker’s birthday. His birthday is not today. We have planned a very elaborate family reunion style birthday party for him this year. We thought we were doing the right thing by making a big deal out of his birthday on his actual birth day. So far in his 9 years of existence he has shared birthday celebrations with his brother. I always felt bad about that until this weekend. Now I realize what a fool I am!

The boys are two years and eleven days apart. July is usually birthday month around our house. Part of me thought that was unfair to Parker. So this year we were going to make a big deal out of Parker’s birthday by celebrating in a beach house in Oregon. Parker was and is very excited. Then Gavin had a birthday. Parker has been Mr. Jealous ever since.

In his little mind it is absolutely unfair that he has to wait an entire eleven days until his birthday. To add insult to injury, he has been told in no uncertain terms that he cannot play with Gavin’s birthday toys. Which makes those eleven days feel like eleventeen million years because Gavin got a Lego set.

To ease some of the anticipatory pressure and because we don’t want to keep track of Legos on our trip, we decided to celebrate Parker’s birthday early. Today could not come fast enough for Parker. He nearly exploded with excitement.

Gwen and I went shopping yesterday for a birthday present for Parker. She really wanted to go to the dollar store and get her brother a dinosaur. By the time we got to the store she changed her mind and insisted on a snake. Target only had dinosaurs in the bargain bins. Gwen was sure she wanted to buy him a snake. So after our shopping at Target was done we headed to the dollar store.

ponyShe found him the best snake for a dollar. It’s a bit of a magic trick. The snake is hooked up to a clear plastic earpiece via monofilament. Parker can hold the snake in his hand and with subtle movements it looks like he has become a snake charmer. Gwen was excited about it. I was too. But it’s Gwen so she had to buy herself something as well. I didn’t care. It was her money! She hooked herself up with a My Little Pony knockoff. This is the paper creation she made of her pony.

Gwen and I tried to be so sneaky. We put the snake in the bag from Target so Parker couldn’t see it. Then we quickly put it in a gift bag with tissue paper while Parker was still immersed in his movie. Gwen took the gift up to my room. Note to self: Wrap the dang gift before putting it in a gift bag!

The tissue paper looked a little weird when I went to bed last night. I asked Parker this morning if he peeked. Heath thought I was jumping to conclusions. He thought Gwen messed with it. Ah but mothers know! Parker had his telltale smirk and I knew he was a liar liar pants on fire! He was excited about the snake. Until it was time for his “real present.”

We gave Gavin a day at home for his birthday. We gave Parker a shopping trip to the Lego store for his birthday! That boy could not have been more excited about it. Gavin hates shopping. Parker loves it. At least when it’s for himself. So Heath took the boys out. They all got haircuts before shopping. Parker was given a budget at the Lego store. He could spend as much as Gavin’s Lego set cost. He came in four dollars under budget. Gavin spent his birthday money on a couple sets so everyone was happy. Heath said that Parker was beside himself with glee in that store.

Gavin spent the entire day yesterday making a comic book for Parker. I don’t think Gavin finished and I kind of don’t think Parker cares. He’s all about the stuff. The thought counts for nothing with him. Gwen made him the sweetest card last night. She said “I love you” in it which melted my heart. He dropped it on the floor to get to the snake. I found the abandoned card later partially kicked under my bed. That boy is all about the stuff!

I started this post saying we royally screwed up as parents. We should have gone out to Parker’s favorite restaurant for lunch. At lunch he was still on Cloud 9 and chattered on about how excited he was to have dinner at OTB. By the time we left for dinner Parker had melted down into a puddle of resentment. He would not forgive us for tearing him away from his toys. He claimed he didn’t have enough time to play with them anyway!

He glowered at the table. We told the waiter it was Parker’s happy birthday hoping the attention of wait staff singing to him later would cheer him up. But the waiter either didn’t hear or remember. Nobody came by to sing. Parker did perk up a little when his food came out.

Then we further ruined his life by stopping off at not one, but two stores, on the way home. Heath had this brilliant plan to pack a picnic lunch on our trip and we needed a cooler. Our last plug in cooler was left in Southern California with our totaled van after that inconvenient car accident a few years ago. Bed Bath & Beyond wasn’t hooking us up. Heath said he was able to shop quickly without four ducklings following him. It felt like an eternity to me though as I sat in the car with our ducklings while they annoyed each other.

Sport Chalet did hook us up. Sort of. They had a big thermal bag. We have plenty of ice packs. It should work for our purposes. It’s not like we’re trying to keep food cold for days. Just a couple hours. Parker was fine with showering first when we got home.

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So he could get back to his new Lego sets.

I think he’ll forgive us. It may be difficult to part with his toys on Monday. The beach should dim his memory. Especially since he will get new gifts from Grandma and Grandpa while we’re there. Then his cousins will fill in new memories for him when we move on from the beach house. He’ll be fine. The toys will patiently wait for his return.

Blessings through Service

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The other day I met with a friend at her house for visiting teaching. For those who may not know, visiting teaching is a program through my church. The women are assigned a companion and given a small list of women to teach each month.

It has been my experience that I get more from the people I am partnered with, as well as the people I visit, than the service I am providing. The Savior often asks us to serve each other, not for the blessings we provide, but for the blessings that come to us through service. That afternoon was no exception.

This month the visiting teaching assignments were changed. I was partnered with a lady I don’t know very well. Her husband is one of my favorite people but I don’t know Chris very well. One person we visit was on my route before. Vicki is one of my really good friends. Because we are friends it can be awkward to share a spiritual message. She pretty much told me she would rather get together and chat. It doesn’t have to be so formal. Since I had a new companion I decided to go back to formalities.

Just as I was loading up kids to go, I printed the monthly message. The kids ran off playing and the three of us women chatted. There was a lull in the conversation and my companion indicated it was time for the message. I touched the printed pages on my lap and admitted I barely skimmed it as I was racing out the door. I did see the question at the end and it struck me.

How can the advocacy of Jesus Christ inspire us to extend mercy and forgiveness to others?

Vicki immediately started sharing her thoughts. My pulse quickened. I will admit I have been struggling with things emotionally lately. It felt like some of the answers I had been seeking would be found in her thoughts. One of our kids walked in the room before she really said much. Chris needed to go and took that as a good breaking point. My boys sensed the natural break and came to my side wondering if it was time to go yet. They have fun at that house but they are outnumbered as boys.

I could not go yet. I needed to hear the rest of what Vicki was going to say. She got all the kids a drink of water and didn’t seem in any hurry to return to the interrupted conversation. I told my boys to play for another 5-10 minutes and to let their sister know that we would be leaving soon. As soon as Parker was a few feet away I told Vicki I had to hear what she was going to say.

We walked back to her family room and sat down. She talked about a friend she has mentioned before. This friend was abused as a child by her father. This friend is 41 years old and cannot forgive him. She wants to but can’t figure out how. I told Vicki that I have forgiven my dad. What kills me about the situation is the incredible guilt I have taken on for not reaching out to him – ever.

I told her how I felt like my forgiveness may not be complete without actually talking to him. It was a thought I had off and on but I wasn’t ready yet and I did nothing about it. Now it’s too late. Those words have got to be the most damning words ever put together. Too late. I feel like my world has crumbled into tiny crumb size pieces that have scattered everywhere. There is no way to fix it!

I don’t remember the order of the conversation. It was very short but very healing for me. I talked about how I started reading The Infinite Atonement a few months after my grandpa passed away. The book inspired me to be a better person. I finished the book after my dad passed away.

Because I was so conflicted and have worried about whether or not my forgiveness was complete – for years I have worried about this – I started reading The Miracle of Forgiveness. Again. For like the hundredth time I have started this book never to have finished it before. Now it’s a matter of principle that I finish it! I told Vicki that it’s not really what I was looking for. The book is full of very blunt warnings about sin. Overt sins. I feel like my sin was a sin of omission. I needed to do something but waited until it was too late. How can I even begin to be forgiven for that?

She told me what a lot of people have told me; that my dad should have contacted me. But I love her for quickly amending that I feel guilt for my role, whether or not I should. It’s how I feel. I love that she didn’t take it away from me. Then she talked about grace. She said that in the case of her friend, forgiveness will have to be a gift provided by the Savior. She cannot forgive her father on her own. Vicki told me that grace is a gift and I can ask for it in prayer.

I appreciated that little moment so much. It felt like I finally had a direction to go in. This morning I finally hit a chapter in The Miracle of Forgiveness that gave me hope. The book is difficult to read. Maybe I’m just wicked and the wicked take the truth hard! But I get to a point where I can’t read any more about how ugly sin is and I quit reading. But like I said, I will finish the book this time around. Even if it kills me. I’m almost to the end and I’m just waiting for the miracle of forgiveness to come in to play!

Well it did this morning. I read a beautiful chapter about forgiving others in order to be forgiven by God. Everything started to click in my mind. It’s hard to explain. I didn’t read anything I didn’t already know. It just was a chapter that finally sat peacefully on my mind. I thought about what Vicki had said about it being a gift. I prayed that I could be given that gift. That I could find a way to let go of everything and forgive myself. I realize that I can’t fix anything. All I can do is move forward from where I am right now. I just have felt stuck lately not knowing how to do that exactly.

Then I remembered something else Vicki told me. She told me about a speech Brad Wilcox gave on grace. He talked about how the Savior meets us where we are. He doesn’t expect us to get to a certain point first. I looked it up. Then printed it after reading it. It’s exactly what I needed to learn right now.

Something else Vicki said really stuck out. She said to be patient with myself because I am so early on in the grieving process. I don’t know why I thought I could be “all better” in about six weeks. That was a good reminder. It’s a process. The Lord knows my heart and He is patient. The crumbs of my shattered world are no longer so daunting to think about. Everything will be okay in the end.

What If Stories

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Here are the stories the kids wrote yesterday answering the question, what if.

Gwen:

What if princesses could play sports? Princesses just do girl stuff. What if that could change? They could do boy stuff. But why? Princesses tell me!

Gwen-the-CoachSnow-White-and-CinderellaAurora-and-Ariel

Left to right: Gwen the coach, Snow White playing soccer and Cinderella playing “baxsetball”, Aurora playing tennis and Ariel playing volleyball

 

 

 


Parker:

Guy 1: What if aliens invaded the earth?
Guy 2: Don’t ask that question! It’s already happening.
1: WHAT?!?! How is that happening! AHHHHH! Alien!
2: No, no, no, that’s my uncle!
1: Really? Well I guess I should be leaving.
2: NO! Please don’t!
1: Why?
2: Because, uh my family wants to meet you!
1: Gahh! No, I really need to go! I really want to –Ahh! Alien!
2: Stop being rude, that’s my baby brother!
1: Soo … you’re saying no aliens are – SWEET MOTHER OF NATURE! Is that your mom or something?
2: Nope!
1: Should we make a run for it?
2: Yep! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! AHHHHH!!!!

The end

Aliens-Invading

Gavin’s story titled 480:

What if you opened your bedroom door and nothing was there? You would close it and open it again. And you would find your bedroom the way it is supposed to be. Your bed where you left it. All your toys in your chest. You would shut the door behind you, but you would not help but wonder what would happen if you opened your door again.

You would probably open your door to get rid of your strong feeling of curiosity. When you opened your door you would find nothing there. You would close and open it, but still find dark, unfilled space. You would look behind you and your walls would glitch and disappear along with the ground.

Everything would be gone except your bedroom bedroom door and the spot you were standing on. Blue light would glitch and your door would disattach from the ground and fall off into the empty space. The door might glitch and the door would vanish from its frame.

You would bend your knees and take a leap towards the empty door frame. You feel a feeling of fear and curiosity that is simply undesirable. You’d hang from the cold door frame. You’d feel a strong feeling in your stomach that no preacher could describe. You’d fall into a hole of swirling gas and feel your body stretch before you. You would know this was the end.

The end of life. The end of delicious lasagna. The end of being a regular mortal human. You’d look at the door frame before you and know in your mind you could lose it all, or take the small chance of surviving.

Your legs would kick the door frame into the hole and your body would backflip away from the angry stormy hole. Your eyes would shut. Your body would feel the warmth of the explosion and the fiery gas as it touched your bare knees and arms. It would be the end.

You would see black. Pitch black. You would wake upon a hot beach with red clouds, sky, and sand. You would see a black ink cloud by the shore. Without thinking you would touch it. Memories of fire and anything hot you had experienced would come to mind. The last thing you would see would be an old man in old rags using a hand motion as if he were sending you away. Then you would wake up comfy in your bed. Then your mother would call you downstairs.

“Gavin, what have you been doing! Your door was locked and you have been up there for four weeks!”
“Uh,” you would say lost in thought.
“Why are you so red? Why are you so tall?”

And then you would say, well actually I can’t tell you that. So I have a question to ask you. What would you say?

To be continued …

480

The Peace of a Good Idea

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Every once in a while a perfect day comes along. There was minimal fighting. (I have to be honest!) The TV didn’t even get turned on until I started making dinner. Minimal fighting with no TV is kind of a big deal. The kids played happily together this morning while I mopped the floor. Parker played by himself while I read Anne of Green Gables out loud.

Gwen stumbled across the cartoon on PBS one morning. I told her I have all the books and that they were my favorite books to read when I was about Gavin’s age. She has been interested ever since. Parker wanted me to read Frindle out loud, which I did and it was fun. I love that book. When that book was finished Gwen asked for “the brother and sister book.” She remembered that Matthew and Marilla were brother and sister. I have been reading it quite quickly considering how often I stop to check comprehension. There are a lot of big flowery words in that book!

Gwen likes the story. She gets tired of it by the end of our hour of reading. It’s hard for her to understand. The fact that Gavin likes the book surprised me. Parker wants nothing to do with it and that’s fine. He just doesn’t get to mark two spaces in his library reading book. I think Gavin identifies with Anne and her wild imagination and spirited disposition. The two G’s will color quietly while I read. It’s been really fun. And a little hard for me to not pick up the book and read ahead. I LOVE these books!

After reading we had lunch and then headed out to the pool. I always just float around listening to the silly games the kids come up with. Today was extra nice because nobody fought. At all. That never happens! Everyone was excited about Gavin’s character game. There were so many funny lines but I can’t remember all of them. My favorite was:

Parker: I don’t want to play the game Gavin! I wanna play under Mom! I wanna play under Mom!
Gavin: Well that’s weird.

I had to laugh out loud at that one. What my innocent nearly 9 year old meant was that he wanted to swim underneath me while I floated. He’s pretty good at doing it without me feeling anything. Gavin not so much. Gwen just stuck her legs under me and basically tickled me which I did not enjoy.

The sun was shining. The water was warm thanks to our greenhouse bubble wrap cover. Life was good. It felt like we had been out long enough that I better grab snacks and reapply sunscreen if we were going to stay out much longer. That’s when utopia shattered. A bit of a tiff ensued while I was inside momentarily. It resulted in a kick to the face and an angry scream. Everyone was mad enough that pool time was over without me even having to call for a time out. So that was the imperfect moment of the day.

I considered making popcorn and putting a movie on for a quiet afternoon. Then the idea hit me. I would have the kids write stories. They were coming up with such imaginative stories in the pool. I figured I could reference that and ask them to write and illustrate a story. But my idea got better when I couldn’t get this post out of my head by TP Hogan, a fellow blogger I found during Writing 101. She talks about how her stories are inspired by answering the question What If?

The kids grabbed notebooks and pencils. I explained that I wanted them to write a story answering what if. What if a mermaid lived next door? (Gwen’s eyes lit up.) What if (Parker finished the sentence) aliens took over the world? What if you didn’t have a brother and sister? What if what if?

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They wrote for a solid 30 minutes. Okay, Gwen finished a little early. She’s only 6 so her writing attention span is limited. I thought it was cute that she had to bring Val down so she could spell princess. After 30 minutes I gave them each a fresh sheet of printer paper and told them to illustrate their story. Gavin continued to write. He wrote for almost another hour before scribbling out an illustration. The picture wasn’t required. I just figured Gwen and Parker would want to do that.

I just sat in a chair reading my book. The house was silent minus the quiet buzz of engaged minds for nearly two hours. I am not even kidding. We started at 3:30 and everyone was respectfully quiet, with the occasional whisper, until well after 5:00. That’s when they all took turns reading their stories and showing their pictures. The stories were really good too. I should post them. That was so much fun.

Then of course I made dinner. I made enchiladas all by myself and it was easy! I hate cooking and it feels like whenever I make anything technically all I end up doing is warming something up. It may look fancy like the broccoli stuffed chicken I heat up in the oven and the rice a roni I add water to and heat up basically.

Enchiladas seem like they should be hard. The hardest part was browning the meat. That was only hard because the meat was pre-seasoned so it was hard to tell when it was cooked since color wasn’t an indication. Heath won’t make fun of me out loud but he did say the next time we do enchiladas he will work with me on my rolling technique. Apparently I made the low carb version since I stuffed the taco sized tortillas with so much stuffing all I could do was fold them into little squares. There was no rolling! There were only ten little enchilada squares. But they were good.

It was such a peaceful day today. The kids can’t stop talking about the stories they wrote. I love good ideas!

Say What

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If you have never had the rare privilege of parenting a 5 or 6 year old girl, then you should read Junie B. Jones books. Those books are hilarious. They are so true to life. My favorite part of reading them to my own young daughter is that she will act out the scenes as I read them. If a character shrugs she shrugs. If someone makes a face or huffs or anything like that she does it too. Which tells me that the writing is descriptively clear and honest. Those books are too funny. Here are a few of Gwen’s latest Say Whats.

Gwen: This is the Pacific Ocean? What! Mom! This map says that this is the Pacific Ocean! Wow!

Gwen: My wings broke!
Heath: That’s what you get with cheap stuff.
Gwen: They aren’t cheap! They came from the dollar store!

Gwen: What’s your favorite word?
Heath pointing at me: Sexy!
Gwen: I can’t write that. I’ll just say love.

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One night we kept hearing this strange sound. I couldn’t tell if Gwen was crying or if it was a cat outside. Finally Gwen came downstairs.
Me: What’s wrong now?
Gwen: I thought you guys were dead!
Me: Why would you think that?
Gwen: Because you weren’t hearing me cry!
Me: We heard something but it sounded like a cat. Why are you crying?
Gwen: Because I’m thirsty.
Me: You remember where we keep the water right? In the faucet where it’s always been.
Heath: Rowwwr!
We teased her with cat sounds for a while. She was laughing but pretending to be upset. She got her drink and went back to bed. Every night it’s something with her. This night was pretty funny.

Gwen: Didn’t you wear that shirt yesterday?
Me: Yes, I wore this t-shirt to bed.
Gwen: Oh, I thought you stayed up all night blogging or something. That would be boring!

Gwen: Dad … scared … the soul … out of myself!

Evidence-of-Gwen

Gwen: What does an ego look like?

Gwen: I’m sorry I used the F word because I said fat. But I didn’t say it about anybody!

Gwen: I’m through with scared of Ghostbusters. I guess my shadow was just made to fly. Because Peter Pan’s was.
Then she jumped and hopped away.

When having the best time means doing nothing

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I can’t believe Gavin is 11 years old. His life has come at a normal pace and I have been fine with every age. The other two kids seem to be on some warp speed track to adulthood. Not my Gavin. Each year of his life has felt like 365 days. No more. No less. Until now.

In many ways I can believe he is 11 and about to start middle school. What I can’t believe is how tall he is, or how mature he is becoming. It kills me that he is at that awkward in between stage. He’s caught somewhere between being a child and not a child. I can see the ambivalence on his face. Should I play like a kid or be boring like an adult? Am I too old for this? But I’m too young for that! I guess I feel bad for him. This is a tough age.

Gavin has always been satisfied with less. It makes him hard to shop for. When we asked him what he wanted for his birthday he gave us a list. I was pretty impressed that there was a list. One thing he really wanted was a Lego set “that my siblings won’t play with.” The set he really wanted was one of the larger sets from The Lego Movie. The request to have no other hands building, playing with, or tearing apart the set was a fair one.

We got him the set. He could not be happier about it.

Lego-set

And because Gavin is a sweetheart, he let his brother and sister help him put the set together.

This is basically all we did yesterday to celebrate Gavin’s birthday. Since his birthday was on a Saturday and nothing else was going on, we decided there was no reason to wait for gifts. We gave Gavin his present while he ate breakfast. When he was done eating the three of them started building. They built and played all day. There were a couple of minor skirmishes but for the most part they were content all day.

In the past we have bought gifts in the name of our kids. They are little and don’t have jobs so we bought extra stuff and put their name on it. It feels like it’s time for that trend to pass. I told Gwen and Parker that they could spend their own money on a gift for Gavin or they could think of something else to do for him to make his birthday special.

Gwen has a talent for paper crafts. This girl doesn’t just draw pictures. She cuts things out and glues the pieces together. She has made some pretty cool things. I saved a very large girl she made out of paper. The girl was so big Gwen would actually clip one of her hair bows in the girl’s paper hair. She has also made a house with a paper flap as the front door. When you open it you see the family she drew inside. Cute stuff. For Gavin she made a paper Gavin and a paper Gwen with a paper dog. It was so cute. She also made him a card.

GavinGwendog

I should have scanned the “Super Heroes” yesterday. Super Gwen has lost a shoe and her hair is a little sparse. Super Gavin never did have any hair. Gwen said he was an old man! The dog is sticking his tongue out panting. Gwen is crazy.

With no prompting at all, Gwen made Gavin breakfast. She put a piece of bread in the toaster and spread peanut butter on it when it was toasted. She also gave him an orange and asked me to pour him some milk. It was the sweetest thing!

For lunch we went to 5 Guys. Originally we wanted to go there for dinner but it would interfere with fasting for Fast Sunday. A true fast is for two consecutive meals. We have found it easier for those fasting (I can’t) to fast for dinner and breakfast. Anyway, so we went for lunch.

Gavin loves 5 Guys and I think I understand why. Those burgers taste very homemade. Gavin loves his dad’s burgers more than anything else in the world. More than any other food in the world too. The burgers at 5 Guys are delicious and incredibly messy. Gavin loves that mushrooms are a burger topping choice. That’s his favorite part. I say no to the mushrooms but yes to the rest of the toppings.

Heath scooped some peanuts for our family to share. I have never paid attention to the peanuts before. Gavin hates French fries but he loves peanuts. Parker was a little grumpy and complained that the peanut smell was making him sick. Ugh! Someone is always annoyed by something when it comes to food in our family! Gwen and Gavin had fun shelling their peanuts despite Parker’s dirty looks.

Parker really didn’t want to go out at all. I’m not sure why. I guess because the spotlight wasn’t on him and he was crazy jealous. So he complained about the peanuts. Then our food was ready. Heath ordered fries for everybody to share. It’s not a typical burger chain where the fries are part of a combo meal. Parker accidentally dropped a couple fries on the floor. After that he was so grouchy he wouldn’t even eat the rest of his burger. He just sat and glared at everybody. Every few minutes he would growl “Is it time to go yet?” Fun times.

Gwen got a junior sized burger but it was still too much food for her. She ate about half of it. Parker had maybe three bites of his burger. Now I remember the biggest reason why we hardly ever go to 5 Guys – it’s not worth the money! The burgers cost about $7 each. The total bill for our family of five was a little over $50. For lunch. That two of our kids couldn’t (or wouldn’t) eat. *sigh* Gavin was happy though.

When we got home Heath fell asleep on the couch. I was so bored I went upstairs to read. I fell asleep too. Nice nap! The kids were content to build Legos. I was feeling bad that we didn’t do anything for Gavin’s birthday. It was the most boring Saturday ever! Heath pointed out that we scored as parents. He said that Gavin hates Saturdays because we always drag him all over town. All he wants to do is stay home and do his own thing.

Without realizing it we gave him the best birthday ever. He sat on the living room floor all day happy as could be doing pretty much nothing. That was all he ever wanted. He would have freaked out if we took him anywhere other than his favorite restaurant. Heath is right. Happy birthday Gavin! You got the birthday party of your dreams!

Gavin chose to have an ice cream cake. We picked up a cake from Cold Stone Creamery after lunch. The five of us stared into the freezer at all the choices. Gavin chose the most chocolaty cake available.

cake 

It was made of devil’s food cake with chocolate ice cream. It had the creamiest, richest chocolate frosting and chocolate sprinkles around the edge. Holy that was a lot of chocolate. I don’t really like chocolate but that was a good cake! Really good. Normally I don’t eat frosting. It’s too sweet. This frosting was incredible. I saved it for last! Oh wow it was good cake.

phone

Both of Gavin’s grandmas called to wish him a happy birthday and to tell him to check the mailbox. He loved talking to them. He needs a little more practice on the phone. The phone was never really over his ear so he kept asking my mom to repeat herself. I was trying to slide the phone in place. He didn’t seem to understand how it should all work. But he had a grin a mile wide. He loved all the love and attention on his special day.

I wish all my kids could stay 4 years old forever. They can’t. I’m not okay that Gavin is 11. Maybe if I don’t think about it everything will be fine. In the meantime I will just love him.

Smelling the Fireworks

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Our Independence Day was pretty fun. We spent some time in the pool. Heath says his ear hurts now. He spent the entire time swimming around shark style with his snorkeling set. I hope he doesn’t have swimmer’s ear because I am so sick of antibiotics!

The plans were to grill up a holiday feast. When Heath went out to start the grill he realized he was out of gas. So he cooked the tri tip in the oven and used the stovetop to boil the corn on the cob. In the morning Gwen and I made Jell-O with fruit. It was a tasty meal in spite of the spilled milk that was mostly my fault.

Earlier in the week we had a playdate with some friends. Abigail told us they were planning on parking in the church parking lot to watch fireworks from the county fair. She invited us to come. It sounded fun. That day she called to say the firework show would start at 9:45 and she understood if it was too late for us. I gave her an ambivalent maybe.

After swimming I decided I didn’t want to think of going anywhere else. After mopping up spilled milk before dinner even really started I definitely didn’t want to go anywhere! The kids only expect to do Pop-Its in our driveway. That means 4th of July celebrations for them.

When the sun set we went outside to do our driveway festivities. The kids kept handing me their used firecrackers so I could smell the used gunpowder. That’s my favorite smell! The firecrackers were simple cardboard shapes with a string to pull. They would pop and paper streamers would come out. And they smelled lovely.

As much as I didn’t want to go anywhere I started to change my mind. I asked the kids if they wanted to go see big fireworks. Two immediately said no. When we explained that it would be like seeing the fireworks at Disneyland two readily agreed while Parker maintained his no status. He had no reason for not wanting to go so we loaded everyone up. I think he’s too much like his mother and just doesn’t like doing things with a lot of strangers when he doesn’t know what to expect.

Apparently the trees in the church parking lot block too much of the view so we had to walk almost to the next intersection to watch from the street. The sidewalks were full of people. We found our friends and squished in. The kids were able to sit on the grass on a blanket. The sprinklers had been coming on all along that strip of grass. Everyone freaked out when Heath told the kids to put a blanket on the grass. Then people were impressed when they found out our blankets have plastic on one side and are meant for such conditions.

We didn’t have to wait too long before the show started. It was really fun watching the fireworks with so many people. Maybe not fun enough to make it an annual tradition. But definitely worth our while to have gone last night.

It reminded me of when I was a kid on the 4th of July. We would have breakfast at Magna Park. The Lions Club made a big pancake breakfast every year for the entire community. Then we would find a spot to watch the parade. After the parade we would either play at the park for a while or sometimes we would walk along Main Street. Then we went home to kill time until it was dark enough for fireworks. That was always my least favorite part of the holiday.

Some years we had our own firework show in our driveway. Sparklers and ground flowers and things like that. That was fun even though I hated sparklers. I was always afraid of the crackling sparks and was secretly relieved when we finally ran out of sparklers. They did smell good though.

If we didn’t stay home we would go back to the park to watch the big show there. We would find a spot of grass in between all the other families to lay down a blanket. We would lie there watching the show that went on almost straight above our heads. That’s what I thought of last night as we watched fireworks explode just above the horizon across the street from where we sat.

Abigail said that when she was a kid her family would climb out a window and watch the Fair’s fireworks from the roof. Then the trees got too big so now her family does what we did last night. Heath said that one year his family went to Stadium of Fire in Provo. I always heard it advertised but had never been. Maybe we’ll time our trip to Utah next year so we can go to the Stadium of Fire. That could be really fun.

We got home after 10:30 last night. The kids fell asleep really fast! They didn’t sleep until noon like I expected but we all slept in, which was nice. We’ve been enjoying Gavin’s happy birthday all day.

In God We Trust

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In God We Trust

This country was founded on religious freedoms. There is a lot of religious controversy right now. Too many people are trying to change the laws of morality by saying there is no God and He wouldn’t care anyway. I believe this nation’s founding fathers were divinely inspired. I believe God cares about the affairs of this nation.

While everyone has the right to worship how they choose, too many politicians have ignored the laws that govern the land. They have ignored the voice of the people as they change those laws to meet their own personal agenda. I believe that we have lost sight of who we are as a country in the name of tolerance.

I believe in God. I live my life according to that faith. That’s the wonderful part of being a United States citizen. I am so grateful for the blessings I enjoy here, particularly the blessing of worshipping God. On this fourth of July, I am grateful for the tremendous efforts others made to make this nation free. I am grateful to the men and women who fight so hard for freedom today.

The less we trust in God the less God entrusts to us.

Quiet Submission

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For all my “You’re fine! Shake it off!” parenting when one of my kids is sick, we ended up at the doctor’s office after all. I should know that if Parker is involved I should assume the worst. He is my son. I was always the one with all the medical issues as a kid. So is Parker. Two peas in a pod for sure.

Parker was fine all the way until about 3:00 this afternoon. Then he complained that he was cold and wrapped up in a blanket. He said his head hurt and he was dizzy. I checked his temperature. It was 102. That’s not fine. So I had to get on the phone.

Only our phones weren’t working. There was a busy signal. The TV stopped working too and the internet was down. Heath confirmed that there was an outage in our area for all three services. Awesome. At least I had a cell phone. By the time the appointment was made everything started working again. That was nice.

The doctor prescribed antibiotics. She left it up to me whether or not I wanted to pick it up today or leave it on file. She said if his hand showed signs of infection then we should use the antibiotics. As the meeting went on she changed her mind. We’re coming up on a holiday weekend which could limit my ability to pick up the prescription. Also we’re going out of town soon. If we just do the antibiotics now then the timing will all work out.

Parker is pretty bummed. It feels like he just finished a round of antibiotics for swimmer’s ear! We both hate remembering to take the medicine. It always takes ten days which gets really annoying after a while. Oral antibiotics aren’t as bad as the ear drops he had for swimmer’s ear. At least that.

Well, here we go again I guess. The doctor did say he can take antibiotics plus Benadryl plus Ibuprofen as needed. I figure if I pump that kid full of meds he should be back to normal in no time! He was very mellow today. It’s the mellow days that I realize I should be grateful when my kids are bouncing off the walls. That’s normal. Lying on the couch all day looking pale and pathetic is not.

Funny story about where my parenting comes from. My parents were the same way obviously. We needed to be bleeding or dying before anyone was concerned. My brother and I were recently reminiscing about this very thing.

I fell off my bike when I was about 7 years old. Gracefully fell on my face eating asphalt. I got up crying my eyes out. My brother was trying to see how bad the damage was. For some reason I kept turning around and around. Anyway, he grabbed me by the shoulders and looked at my bloody face. “Oh. Go show Mom.”

She had to take me to the hospital to get stitches. She was so embarrassed by my crying that she wore her sunglasses inside! She worked in the X-Ray department just down the hall from where we were and didn’t want to be recognized. As Tyson and I were retelling this story, my mom remembered her side of it. She said I was crying a lot. I asked, “Have you ever had stitches in your lip? It hurts!” Maybe you had to be there. That was a fun night of reminiscing.

That’s how I was raised. Nothing was a big deal until it was proven to be. We were tough as nails. That’s how I raise my kids now. They’re good kids. I just wish Parker didn’t have to be just like me. My Murphy’s Law kid. Poor guy. He should be fine soon though.

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