Friday, October 31, 2014

Abe Saves Halloween 2014

Towards the end of last week the children started to get nervous.  Not only did we not have our Halloween costumes planned and ready, but there was serious dissension in the ranks about what our family theme would be.  Every day I would get a days-till-Halloween countdown from Elinor.  On T-minus 8 days, she was reaching near hysteria.

Let me say a word about our tradition of family themes for costumes.  I swear to you, we do not force anyone to do matchy-matchy anything.  They are welcome to raid the costume collection downstairs; it is extensive.  They can be whatever they want.  But it's tradition now and I don't think anybody wants to be left out.  The difficulty is in getting 9 people to agree on what we should be.  And we were really struggling this year. 

Should we be '50s with poodle skirts and greasers?  Bethany says yes.  Should we do a steam-punk theme?  Abe says yes.  Should all the children be animals and Abe and I the zookeepers?  I said yes.  Should we be the Addams Family?  What about all being fantasy characters?  All dress as foxes?  We just couldn't agree.  Many family dinners starting around Easter centered around what we should do for Halloween. 

In the end Abe called me from a costume store and declared we were going to be pirates, thanks to the inspiration from Clark's participation in The Pirates of Penzance.  Abe bought a few swords and eye-patches to fuel excitement and support from the little people of the house and it was a done deal.  Abe saved Halloween this year.
So Pirates it was!  With a lot of help in the costume department from our friend Andrea, we were able to outfit a lot of pirates for not a lot of doubloons.
Brandishing our swords.
Abe and I both had parrots.  Mine was just a little squawkier than his.
 And a lot cuter than his. 
I kind of think she is too pretty to be a pirate.
Having to wait all day for trick-or-treating is exhausting to Faith.  It seems like she gets the Halloween-blues around 4:00 pm every Halloween.  
 But finally the hour to commence the candy haul arrives.  Clark was home to pass out candy so Abe and I had the treat of taking the kids around together for a while.  We only had half of our children with us, so that counts as a date!
Meeting up with friends on the trick-or-treating route.
Elinor went around with girlfriends and we really didn't see her till it was all over.
But they were speedy and had 6.2 lbs of candy each to show for it.
We love our neighborhood for Halloween.  One family grills up hotdogs for everyone, another has hot homemade doughnuts.  This year was the addition of a truly spooky yard that joyfully freaked our pirates out.
When the little boys had had enough, Faith and Abe went out for a third round.  Because she obviously needed more candy. 
 I don't know, I think she has enough.
It's obscene.
Greedy and obscene.
And I don't plan to do a thing about it.

That's not entirely true.  I usually let them have at it--go hog wild on their candy for two or three days.  Then it is still their candy, but I regulate it and let them have it in smaller portions.  Usually, their good stuff is gone within a couple of weeks.
Clark had his friend Ben over to play Heroscape.
But his most important duty of the evening was quickly swinging the door open and frightening small children before giving them candy.  He performed his duty well.
George met up with his best buddy Lincoln.
Bethany spent the afternoon with her friend Raven and then the girls and moms met up for ice cream later in the evening.  I found the yummiest pumpkin shake I've had yet.  
Our family rule is no trick-or-treating after your thirteenth birthday.  
Boo---hiss---mean parents!
Yes, I've heard all that before, but that's how we do things.  Anyway, Bethany was having a hard time as this was her first year not going.  As it turned out, she discovered that Halloween is still fun to dress up and hang out with friends even without a pillowcase full of candy.  She went to another friend's home in our neighborhood to watch a movie after ice cream.
Bethany and Abe had a daddy-daughter murder mystery dinner for Young Women's this week.  Very fun for them.
This is Cannon going to his Halloween party for his theater class earlier this week.
Okay, now prepare yourself for my favorite picture of the season.  It's George and his neighborhood preschool class at their little Halloween party. 
It's almost painful to me how cute they are.
My Halloween hero!  Thank you, Abe, for saving the day.  And for winning a $25 gift card for a costume contest at work. 
Happy Halloween!

Jack-o-Lanterns 2014

Sunday afternoon found Abe and kids carving masses of pumpkins-- one for each member of the family.  I'd like to draw your attention to the top left "Picasso-esque" pumpkin that was carved by Clark.  I'm was so honored when he told me I was his inspiration for it.
I know there is a lot of work to be done to carve all those pumpkins, but I just do not want to help.  I like to say I'm allergic to pumpkins, which I'm probably not really, although the guts do make my hands sting.  But don't you think saying "I'm allergic" packs a lot more punch that just, "I just don't want to."
Elinor really stepped up this year and gutted 9 of the 10 pumpkins and carved 1 of them.  She was a pumpkin work-horse. Clark carved 4 and Abe carved 5.
It is very nice being married to a tradition-czar like Abe:)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

George and Peter

Mmm, Mmm, Mmm.  Oh, he is yummy.
After a rough start, he really had a much better week as it went on.  I think he didn't react very well to his immunizations last week and had fevers for several days.
I think he is looking a lot like Faith as a baby. 
George just loves to kiss and touch Peter.  I think Peter will have quite the immune system when George is done with him.
I apologize if any of my dear readers are offended by my next comment.  But I had to get a picture of this.  I call this "boob drunk".  It is the relaxed state and facial expression of a nursing baby when they've just eaten.  I love it.
Sorry.  Now for something a little more G-rated.  George drew a scorpion and was so proud of himself.  Then he drew wonderful stick figures with huge eyes, spikes for hair and no necks of all his friends and family.  But mostly, I love this picture because he's looking at the camera.  He has a hard time looking directly at the camera for most pictures.
In another one of my crazy mom ideas, I decided to take the gang, minus Clark, to the Stake 5K fun run this morning.  Bethany ran it.  Elinor scootered it.  Faith and Cannon took turns running and scootering.  I walked.  Peter slept in his stroller.  And George rode that tricycle the WHOLE way! 
At about 1/3 of the way through he was getting tired and I thought, "Uh-oh.  I've make an error in parenting judgement."  I wondered if he would be able to make it to the end without finding some sort of short cut, but he did!  And with relatively little complaining.  We were the last to make it in, but we made it.
In the interest of truth in reporting, I must tell you that this picture was posed after the fact.  Even so, it was quiet an accomplishment for both of them and I felt it should be documented.  I was a proud mommy.
Sweetie Pete-y
Sweetie Petie
Sweetie Petee
Oh bother, I don't know how to spell it.
Sweet Pete.  There, that works.

Pirates of Penzance

Even as I write this, Clark is the middle of his final performance of Pirates of Penzance with the Bluffdale City Arts Council.  Abe is there with a a few of the kids.  I went last night and this afternoon and it was absolutely delightful. 
To say it has been a good experience for him is an understatement.  He's loved it and we have seen a whole new side to Clark we didn't know existed.  And we've heard him singing. A LOT.  Not upstairs where we can see him, but rather downstairs in his cave.  It's so wonderful.
He was so expressive and he just came alive up on stage.  I don't know if I've ever seen him smile so much!
This was from the dress rehearsal before he let his hair go wild for the performances. 
I don't know how they found the leads for the play, but they were fantastic. Originally they were going to perform at a middle school, however because of scheduling problem they ended up at the local elementary school stage.  My only criticism of the production was that the venue was too small. 
One of the most interesting things for me to see in Clark was just how much he looked and acted like my younger brother Matt.  Clark and Matt haven't spent that much time together because Matt lives up near Portland, but holy smokes!  Talk about similar facial expressions and mannerisms.  It was almost a little freaky.  Am I watching my son or my brother at his same age?  Such fun to see.

Gardner Village 2014

Family night at Gardner village is an annual October tradition.  It was a beautiful night and we had a lovely time meandering the pathways throughout the quaint shops and finding all the witches.  Abe has worked the farmers market at Gardner village every Saturday since June and today was his last one for the season.  I think it was enjoyable for Abe to be there with his family and not talk to anybody about Winder Farms.  He's been gone a lot this summer and it is so nice to have him around more often.
Clark wasn't with us because he had a play rehearsal Monday night.  Cannon took the opportunity to make a move on Clark's girlfriend.
I had a similar picture of Clark posing with this little beauty a couple of years back, but I can't find it in my archives.  I think Clark must have forbade my posting it. Clark forbids my posting a lot of things.  It is sad to me.
These little stuffed animals are called "Beanie Boos".  I think they are in the same family as "Beanie Babies".  Anyway, there are a couple of toy stores at Gardner Village that  sell them and Faith has really gotten into collecting them.  She has convinced the boys that they are the greatest toys ever and they were all excited to spend their money to add to their collection.
  I thought the big American flag made of lovely background for a picture, but I miss Clark in the picture.  With a family this size and as the kids are getting older, it works out that we often have to divide and conquer.  There are so many people and activities that we're not all together as often as we were when the kids were younger.  That's natural and healthy, but it is more difficult to schedule family activities. 
Here I am giving a piano lesson to the witch.  Recently Cannon told me I would be good if I wasn't so "harsh" to my students.
Hmm.  I didn't realize expecting them to practice was so harsh.  I'll have to think about that.

This was a very eventful week for us.  Gardner Village on Monday.  And Meet the Mormons on Wednesday.  Abe has been taking Wednesdays off to have some family time and since everyone is home during the day we hit a matinee with Grandma and Grandpa Cannon.
 We loved it.  I thought it was so beautiful and uplifting.  And while it was the story of six Mormons and their families, it really was about good people with good values.  I highly recommend it to anyone-- Mormon or not. 
Then with Clark's play Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, it can only mean one thing for next week.  BORING.
No, actually, that won't be the case.  It's Halloween next week.  Which means that after two weeks of fun, fun, fun, we will seriously crash the first week of November. It may be a pretty rough adjustment back to regular, boring life.  Oh, well.  I guess we'll enjoy the fun until then. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

I May Be a Seasoned Mother

Some have suggested with so many children I am somewhat of a seasoned mother.  Tonight, I am here to tell you that I know nothing.

I have a two month old baby who I cannot figure out what to do with.  He is on absolutely no kind of regular feeding schedule.  I can't get him to nap in the daytime for more than about 15 minutes at a time.  That sweet new baby smell is constantly masked by his very stinky gas.  Stinky gas that is not comfortable for him either, so he's pretty fussy.  At night he will only sleep nestled right by me, which doesn't make for very restful sleep for me and doesn't do much for Abe and I having time together.  He is not happy to have anyone but Abe or I hold him.  What the heck am I doing?  Shouldn't I have this baby thing down by now?

Let me just say that I have a new appreciation for myself and all those constant years of having babies or being pregnant.  You see, I thought that when George was weaned, 3 years ago, and I started running and ran two half marathons and a full marathon, that I finally had a handle on life. I had matured.  How good that I had disciplined myself to wake up early.  I ran a tighter ship here at home with chores and had figured out how to balance home-time with extra-curricular activities.  With my new found self-mastery I could easily handle a calling at church.  I was so proud of myself for keeping up with my children's school work and teaching them to put first things first.  Oh, how wise I had become!


DOUBLE HA!  I hadn't matured! Self-mastery-- What a joke!

No, I just didn't have a baby anymore.  Babies are hard.  They are a lot of work.  Of course they are sweet and beautiful and bring a piece of heaven into a home.  But WOWSERS!  It is so hard to get anything done.  I'm so proud of myself for all those years straight of having a baby or being pregnant.  How did I do it? Nowadays I am having to remind myself that the lack of discipline in my diet, and days that I don't go walking, and the days when we don't get all our school work done are NOT because I am lazy and unorganized.  Rather I am almost constantly feeding and caring for a high-need baby.  I am consumed in keeping another human being alive and happy. 

Now, all babies are not equal.  Some upset the flow of the home more than others and Peter is probably average for one of my babies.  I know I've dealt with more challenging newborns, but, I'm feeling rather worn out.  My solace is that all of my young babies are very high maintenance, but then they seem to mellow into quite manageable toddlers and downright delightful preschoolers.  So, I am not discouraged past hope.  I know things will get better.  

Realizing just how powerful the "baby factor" is makes me feel like I want to apologize to my younger self.  Apologize for all the criticism I put on myself for not doing things better.  If I could go back I would tell my younger mother self what a fantastic job I was doing!  I'd congratulate myself for making a meal.  I'd compliment myself on the clean clothes everyone had to wear.  I'd point out how great it was that I did the dishes.   Way to go, Me!--being patient and reading that same story to the kids for the hundredth time.   I would reassure myself that the kids were going to turn out just fine and do the best I could, but to not worry so much.

Tonight I will try to imagine my future self, fifteen years down the road, talking to my present self.  "How wonderful that you taught the girls to do their own laundry.  Good job getting Clark to all of his play practices the last couple of weeks.  Way to go-- being patient with Faith while she learns to help make meals.  It was good of you to take the time to read and practice the piano with Cannon and Faith.  You took the time to snuggle with George at bedtime.  How good of you to prepare that lesson for church even though you were so tired.  You're doing a great job.  Don't worry, your children will all be responsible, faithful, kind adults starting families of their own."

As it is, babies are hard and I have a baby.  The day will come when I will function at a much higher level again.  The alarm will go off and I will easily rise and hit the pavement.  My dishes will be done before bed.  I'll check off lists of all the things we get done all day-- or better yet, I won't have to check things off of lists because I'll just be able to remember what to do without writing everything down.  Abe and I will go on real dates and talk in our regular voices in our own room.   

It will happen.  I feel a little better now.  Still tired, but better.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Boy and His Dad

Abe scored two tickets to the BYU game last night.  A friend offered them on Facebook and Abe quickly called and snatched them up.  Then came the question of who he should take with him.  We both agreed that it was about time Cannon had a night with his dad all to himself. 
I got one look at these pictures and I couldn't believe how old he looks.  Cannon told Abe, "This is probably the best thing you've ever done with me!"  He loved it and was so happy.  Cannon is such a cheerful little guy that the whole family was really happy for Cannon to get to be the one to go with Dad.  Lots of hugs and well wishes for him as we said goodbye. 

And since Abe and Cannon were off to have such a fun time, I decided to take the rest of the gang to the discount theater to see Maleficent.  We hadn't seen it and I was a little bit hesitant because I don't feel comfortable when stories are twisted so that evil is portrayed as good and vice versa.  However, I was very, very pleased with the movie.  It was excellent and we all enjoyed it and had good discussion on the way home.  Good post-movie discussion is what makes a good movie for me!
The little kids' family room fort that served as their sleeping quarters for a couple of nights. 
Peter's baby toes.  They are one of my favorite things in the world. 
 The latest generation of Little Kids' book club:)  This was our second meeting and we're missing a couple of kids, but we had a wonderful time discussing Caddie Woodlawn and playing games and eating turkey for our snack (it has to do with the book)I think this was our third time reading this one aloud, but it one of our favorites.  Do you like that spit up mark on my shoulder?  Yep, that's how I roll.  I cannot be slowed down by a bit of spit up.
Here is a picture of our first meeting of the year.  We read another favorite that is really funny and the kids loved, Little Pear.  It's about a five year old boy in China. 
I didn't do any kids' book clubs last year because I just felt I ought not to.  That was the right decision considering the pregnancy and new calling-- it would have been too much.  I couldn't help myself this year and we're back at it.  I missed doing it last year and I missed reading as much to the kids.  When I didn't have a scheduled book club it was too easy to skip our read aloud time.
Now the trick is to balance out reading books that are directed to the older kids with those for the younger.  We just finished reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow last week.  It was great fun and good for October.  Now we're onto a very sweet book I highly recommend called Wonder.
The main character in Little Pear is rather naughty and disobedient.  So we played "Mother, may I?"
We all pretty much agreed that "one giant step" isn't really fair if you can do the splits!
The kids made tanghurlers for their snack.  In the book they were fruit on a stick with a candied syrup.  We used bamboo skewers and sugar covered gummy fruits.  It worked.
Lois is a good friend of Faith's.  Her family lives down the street and Lois's older sister is good friends with Elinor.  I really like their mom and they homeschool.  AND THEY ARE MOVING!  Not terribly far away-- still in our same city, but far enough that parents would need to transport them to one another's houses rather than a quick independent scooter ride.
Having grown up in the military and having frequently been the one to move away, this shouldn't be such a big deal to me.  But it is.  It seriously bums me out when people move away.  Logically, I really do know it is nothing personal.  But it kind of feels like getting dumped.  I guess I'd rather be  the one moving away and doing the dumping.  I suppose it would not be in good taste to pray that their house closing falls through and they decide to stay?
Yeah, I didn't think so.