Saturday, January 30, 2016

I Dreamed a Dream

Ah, this picture just never gets old.  It's funny every single time.
Last Saturday I mustered the energy to take the little kids, plus Bethany, to the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point.  
We all had a great time and the highlight is the water erosion table.  If I had unlimited space and resources, I would definitely want one of these.  The kids are so calm and happy and they can play forever.  
The fossil digging site is also great.  This museum has afforded my children so much pleasure over the years.  
Lately, it seems the big kids-- Clark, Bethany, and Elinor-- have been so busy with their different activities, many of which do not involve me.   Clark works his job at Papa Murphy's and is in the thick of robotics build season.  Bethany has orchestra, play rehearsals and activities with friends, and Elinor has been very busy with babysitting and FLL meetings and friends.  I admit that sometimes I miss the big kids being around more.  And that's from a homeschooler!  What would I feel like if they were gone at school all day and then gone to activities.  I know it's all part of them growing up and a natural, healthy separation.  I just miss them.
But it does allow me more time with just the little kids.  And I adore them.  Are they more laid back than the older kids were, or am I?  Don't answer that.  I probably already know the answer. 

As I've been thinking of all the time I've had with the Team Little Kids lately, I've been reminded of a dream I had shortly after Peter was born.  I've been meaning to record it, so I suppose since I keep thinking about it, now is the time.

Here's the background: Shortly after Peter was born I was feeling so torn between my older kids and my younger ones.  The little kids (mostly Peter and George) were taking so much of my focus and energy.   I was feeling bad that I wasn't focusing more on the big kids and their activities.  I couldn't be to every function.  I didn't know all the details of their lives.  Should I be doing more with them and not worry so much about the little ones?  Where should I put my focus?  I just felt torn.
I felt very blessed to have a dream in the midst of these concerns.  I love to interpret dreams (actually it's one of my gifts) but sometimes it can be wearisome to listen to someone else's dream.  Sorry, if I bore you with the details.
I dreamed we were in St. Louis, MO.  Probably for a robotics competition or something.  Abe wasn't there and neither were Faith and Cannon.  I'll tell you why I think that was soon.  We were all in the airport waiting to catch a flight home to Salt Lake City.  Bethany and Elinor asked if they could go walk around the airport.  I said they could.
Shortly thereafter they called for boarding for our flight.  Bethany and Elinor were nowhere around.  So I told Clark to take Peter and George and board the flight.  I would go find the girls and meet him on board.  I ran all over the airport and couldn't find them.  Frantically I ran back to our gate and got on the plane.  I couldn't send Clark home alone with the little boys-- that was too much responsibility.  So I had him get off the plane and wait for the girls.  I gave instructions to the attendants at the gate that when my girls showed up (as surely the would), to please help them get on the next available flight to Salt Lake City.  In my dream I was so frightened to be separated, but I realized that Clark, Bethany, and Elinor were smart kids and were totally capable of flying home alone.  I would be there to pick them up when they arrived in Salt Lake.  The little ones HAD to have me with them.  The older ones didn't have to have me there with them to function.
I woke up feeling at peace.  Feeling that my prayers had been answered.  I had done a good job raising responsible, level-headed children and it was okay, and even healthy for me to loosen the reins a little on the big kids and focus on my little ones.
I believe Abe wasn't there because he was back home working, which was what he needed to focus on.  Cannon and Faith weren't there because as middle children, they were really a factor in my dilemma.  They didn't need the independence of the older kids, but they weren't so needy as the little ones.
Over the past year and a half, as I have continued, at times, to worry about balancing the needs of such a wide age range of children, I have thought back to this dream.  I never want my older children to feel I am not concerned for them or unaware of their needs and desires.  It's just that I feel Heavenly Father blessed me with peace of mind to understand where my efforts will be most useful at this time of my family's development.   I try to talk with them as often as possible.  I try to value what is important to them.  I'm so proud of their accomplishments and I enjoy their senses of humor.  I am proud of their discipline to get their school work done and be where they need to be.   Perhaps the necessary separation between adolescents and parents is made slightly more painful by homeschooling.  You just get so used to one another's constant company.  I suppose it is a good sign that I'd like them around a little more.  

Welcome to the Club

You know how you hear a lot of people complain about something and you smugly sit by and think how glad you are that you aren't in that boat.

Confession:  This is how I have felt about orthodontics.

Thanks to my enormous mouth, I never had braces.  I guess on some level I have felt superior.  As if I had anything to do with it.  I know, it's ridiculous.  Clark and Bethany were never referred to an orthodontist.  They have close to perfect bites and their teeth line up just right.  I've said it's one of the greatest financial blessings of our lives that we haven't needed orthodontics.   I just sort of assumed it would last for all of the children.  Was that unreasonable?

At our most recent visit to the dentist, he suggested Elinor's bite wasn't quite right and maybe we should look into seeing an orthodontist.  It didn't seem that serious, so we've dragged our feet a bit.  This past week we finally made an appointment.  I asked how long of a "treatment" (that's the word they use) we were looking at.  Surely, not more than a year or 18 months-- I mean, look how straight her teeth are!

Yes, well, apparently it can take a while to correct an overbite as severe as her's.  To the tune of 2 1/2 years and $5,000!

WHAT??? How could I not know it was that bad???
Am I overreacting here?  Is this typical?  Should I shop around?  Does anyone have any horror stories they want to share?  See, now I'm in the club and I want to sit around an complain about it.  I don't feel smug anymore.  I am sufficiently humbled.
But I still think she is lovely just the way she is.

These Pants

I've been thinking about sharing these pants with you for a long time.  I kind of hate these pants.  But I mostly love them.  In fact, I have two pair of identical black stretchy pants.  I do not exaggerate when I tell you I have had them for 13 1/2 years.  I think I bought them at Target.  They are maternity pants.  The perfect maternity pants.  They are NOT stylish.  I don't like the material they are made of.  I cannot tolerate them in the summer because they don't breath at all.  But they fit.  Whether I be a few pounds lighter or a few pounds heavier,  it doesn't matter.  These black stretchy pants don't judge.  They love me anyway.  They don't wear out.  I can wear them before the baby and afterwards.  They are what you'd call a staple of my wardrobe when I'm expecting. 
AND... I am indeed expecting again.   I am about 14 weeks and I wear one of these two pairs of black stretchy pants everyday.  In the same way that Abe and I NEVER speak ill of our 2002 white Chrysler Town and Country mini-van, lest it retaliate and break down on us.  I will not speak ill of these most loyal and forgiving pants, lest they get a hole or tragically grow too small for me. 
If you see me wearing these pants anytime in the next 12 months-- as you surely will if you see me at all in that time-- feel free to ask me about my miracle black stretchy pants.  They would enjoy the attention and it will give me a chance to publicly thank them for their service.  

Happy Birthday, Abe

Last Wednesday was Abe's 41st birthday.  We decided to celebrate by taking the whole family out to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Italian Village.  We rarely go out to eat, and when we do, it's usually the dollar menu at some horrible fast food joint.  I hardly think that counts as going out to eat.  But anyway, we would like out children to know how to behave in a restaurant, so we thought this a worthy way to spend his birthday sheckles.
On the way there, I gave some friendly, and not so friendly reminders of expected behavior.  As you can imagine, we are a bit of a scene wherever we go, so I don't believe my fears were unfounded.
Perhaps I shouldn't have worried, because with the obvious exception of Peter, everyone was just lovely.  They were calm, polite, and grateful children.  Ten Points for us!
And although Peter was screechy, we tried really hard to keep him happy and quiet. 
We arrived just as the restaurant opened, so there was really only one other couple sitting near us most of the time. They kindly offered to take our picture and Abe shared the special occasion and the rarity of of us being out to eat together.
Can you imagine our surprise when it came time to pay our bill and someone had already mysteriously paid our entire bill and slipped away before we could possibly thank them?? 
It seriously made our day.  You hear of that happening, but to be the recipient brought tears to my eyes.  And it's not like a party of nine has a small bill!  Wow!  It was quite a birthday surprise.

We Can't Lose... Until We Do

A couple weeks ago Clark and Elinor were both involved with FIRST Lego League teams at a regional competition.  In what I can only say was poor planning on our part, they were involved with different teams.  Elinor joined a Team T.A.R.D.I.S-- an existing team that met conveniently near our house.  Only to find out shortly thereafter that Clark was helping to mentor another team-- Cyborg Squid Squad with a robotics buddy on his current FRC team.  So there you have it.  So much for family support and loyalty. 
Here is Elinor with part of her team and the coach and mentor.  There were two other team members who had a funeral and were unable to make it to the competition.  Elinor had mixed feeling about this FLL experience.  She felt they weren't as prepared as they could have been and she was okay that the season would likely come to an end after regionals.
But that wasn't to be.  The season wasn't over quite yet.  Out of about 40 teams, just a handful went on to the state competition and Elinor's team was one of them.  They won the judges' choice award-- probably because of the hardship of having half of their team bail at the last minute. 
I believe that in the same way that our family is cursed to always be a part of losing athletic teams, we are likewise blessed to be a part of winning robotics teams.  I don't know why we have been thus blessed.  It's our gift, I suppose.
And, of course, Clark's team was one of the few chosen as well.  They won for project.  The streak continued.
Today was the state competition down at Utah Valley University.  Lest I keep you in suspense, neither team won anything today.  Perhaps the streak is broken.  It was a good day, nonethless.
 T.A.R.D.I.S stands for Totally Awesome Robots Doing Ingenious Stuff.
I know I've mentioned it before, but I am a HUGE fan of FIRST Lego League.  I love the values it teaches.  I love kids looking for solutions to real world problems.  I love the team work.  I love the concept of mentors.  I love the fun atmosphere.  I hope that more of my children have an opportunity to be involved with the program. 
And here I pin all my hopes for future FLL glory--- Team Little Kids.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Day On the Slopes

We're not much of a skiing family, but we do love sledding.  A couple weeks back the gang and co. went sledding on our favorite hill near Monarch Meadows park.
They were out there for about three hours and having a marvelous time!
Faith and Emma.
Not only are the red hats stylish, but they are very warm.
It makes me happy that my little kids think all of these bigger kids are their siblings.
We've had more snow since this sledding trip and since tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I believe there are plans in the works for another outing.
George loves to play outside in the snow and I say as long as he continues to manage his own snow clothes, he can go out as often as he likes.
They came home to warm up with hot chocolate.  Unfortunately, the milk got scalded and it wasn't very tasty hot chocolate.
Can you tell who burned the milk?  

Too Much Family Excitement

The beautiful gal is Abe's youngest sister.  Since Christmas we've enjoyed getting to see her and her beautiful children much more than we have for many years.  The circumstances under which we are spending so much time together isn't very happy, as she is in the process of divorcing an abusive husband. It's been quite sad and scary at times.  In the last three weeks, Abe and other brothers have made a couple of trips up to Rexburg, Idaho where they were living, to help her to safety and to get moved.  She's amazing and we are so proud of her for doing such a hard thing and taking care of her children. 
Elinor and Bethany went up with Abe and Marjorie to help her pack up.  This is Annie, Elinor's older cousin (if you can believe that!) who came down from Spokane with her dad, Jesse and Grandpa Fox.  The packing up on Monday went well, and the plan was to head out in the different directions on Tuesday.  Sadly, Grandpa Fox (Abe's dad) suffered a stroke Monday evening.  He spent the next four and a half days in the hospital in Rexburg.  Fortunately, he will be okay and with some therapy, should return to full functioning within a few months.  We feel very grateful it wasn't worse, but while Abe and the girls and Marjorie did come home on Tuesday, Jesse, Annie and Grandpa's trip was extended much longer than planned. 
There's been so much going on in the Fox family over the past month, most of which hasn't been very good.  But one thing that has been wonderful is to see and feel the support of a loving family who are concerned for one another and happy to sacrifice their time to take care of each other. 
While they were gone, we watched Marjorie's two youngest, Brigham and Phoebe, at our house.  That a lot of little boys playing trains together.   I will admit, I definitely missed my big girls!  They are amazing helpers. 
Although Faith almost made up for their absence.  Faith was Phoebe's special friend and took such good care of her.  Quite the little mother.  We'll have the kids again for a couple of days this week, but I'll have a few more helpers around, so I think we'll be just fine.

Making Good on a Promise

Faith really works hard at her gymnastics and for about three years we have talked about going to a gymnastics meet at the University of Utah to see the Red Rocks.  They are one of the best gymnastics team in the country and Faith has really wanted to go see them.  Last year I promised her we'd go and then it didn't work out and there was grave disappointment.  
 When we realized their opening meet was against our very own BYU Cougars, I knew we HAD to go.  We took TRAX and made a night of it.  Of all crazy things, my aunt and cousin wound up sitting right in front of us.  We hadn't planned it at all.  Can you believe over 15,000 people went to a gymnastics meet?
Faith got this jacket she is wearing for Christmas and she has worn it just about every waking moment of since then.  That is good because it probably cost more than all the rest of her wardrobe combined.

It was pretty fun to have a night with Faith all to myself!