(This post is a little photo barren. Most of our pictures were of kids posing with their passports, and I decided not to post those to the internet. Sorry.)

Linus is seven. All his dreams were fulfilled when he opened his electric train "like Uncle Kurt has." And... that was the only good day of his week. He's been pretty grouchy, staying home one day this week with a low fever and a headache, so I think he just hasn't been feeling well, without being full-on sick.  But today he was the only kid that did everything I asked the first time I asked, which was pretty awesome.

Ruby had her maturation program and junior high registration. We skipped out on the jr high registration and got lunch (since she won't be here for junior high next year), then ran back to the school for the maturation program. While we were getting lunch we saw the school secretary who thought we were skipping the maturation program. She laughed because after daughter three she skipped them and took whichever next daughter was in 5th or 6th grade to lunch for a much better talk, and I thought, yeah... WHY am I not doing that?! It made the maturation program that much more painful knowing the other option. But, Ruby and I did have a good time before that :).
Archie: When I grow up I'm going to be a good dad. 
Me: You are? 
Archie: Yeah.
Me: What are you going to do to be a good dad? 
Archie: Oh. When my wife goes to the temple, I'm going to go with her. 

Archie: I don't go to school yet; I'm too cool for school.
Herbie did all of the train set up to help Linus. He read all the instructions, unscrewed the battery case... so nice to have kids old enough to figure things out and help the younger ones (and be excited about it). The weather was warm this week (40s, one day in the 60s), which for Herbie was shorts weather. He and Moses also got out and threw the football around together, which they've both been missing and is good for them.

Moses has been noticeably nicer and more obedient, patient, etc. this week.  When I pointed this out and mentioned I thought it was because he was stilling feeling good from bearing his testimony on Sunday, he agreed and told me he wanted to do it again; he already has an idea for next testimony meeting.

Penelope has had a lot of friend time this week with a friend whose mother's in the hospital on bedrest with mono-mono twins. This friend is an oldest child and Penelope is used to ruling the roost with Archie so there have been a few heated debates about what to play next. To hurry things along, I just put on some Primary music, and before the first song is over, they've worked it out themselves.

Woo has been working on an ooTunes update (remember that?!?). I guess he finally realized it was never going to be perfect, just get the necessary updates out. He's had some people testing the beta and he's very close to releasing the real thing. Also, much to his shock and disbelief, we got all the passports in the mail this week. Now he can worry that we'll never get visas.

Oh yeah, and he had a work party at Brighton where he did a front flip off a cliff (not into powder), and jarred his neck. He has to turn his whole body to look at me--no more exchanging knowing looks on the sly.

And! On Saturday we met Mom and Dad at Chuck-a-rama for Linus and Moses' birthdays--guess we'd forgotten it's pretty fun for kids. All the slushies and ice creams covered in marshmallows you can eat (or your parents will let you eat), and a pizza dinner with Woo's family afterwards. We've eaten pretty much all we can handle.

Hope your week was great!


Amateur Face Paint, Purchases and Super Heroes

Linus spent a couple days this week smeared in face paint done by amateurs. Here's my 30 second old man for his Hundred Day party.

And here's the remains of his Dalmatian face for apparently his 101 Day party (schools these days and their parties... )

He also was really, really excited to get his new walkie-talkies in the mail. He's been saving up for these for months, and I purposely did not buy them for Christmas so he could buy them himself. He thinks the clips on the back are a pretty nifty feature; they can be worn like holsters.

Penelope also was due for a purchase, so she browsed the aisles in search of the perfect toy. She brought me this doll, "I think it's Elsa." I looked the doll over, saw that there was a button. Penelope's face lit up into the most beatific look of excitement and astonishment when the doll blared, "Let it Go." I knew I had to let her buy it, even though it's every parent's worst nightmare.

She hugged that doll so tight, and whenever anyone would walk by us in the store she would push the button with such a proud look on her face, as if she knew that anyone who heard the doll would immediately agree that she had found awesomest purchase in the whole place.

Penelope had a party of her own--the Super Hero party. She went as The Mopping Princess.

Archie is such a pleasant mother's companion. I couldn't ask for a more perfect youngest child. I go to the library and he types quietly on the computer next to me. I visit a neighbor, he pulls a car out of his pocket and drives it quietly up and down the coffee table leg. I work at home and he figures out his letters.

Of course sometimes he gets mad (like we all do)---"... AND I'm not inviting you to my mom party!"

I've been so pleased for Herbie to stop resisting and really get into Ralph Moody's Little Britches series (I think you would really like them, Earl, if you haven't already read them. Don't be put off by the name :). He's requested all of them and read the third one in three days. It seems like I have to remind him there are good books out there every winter, but this year I was especially vigilant because his back-to-school blessing mentioned the impact the good books he would read would have on him and his future family.
Herbie (after explaining to his younger siblings what constipation is): I know it sounds 
fun..., but it's not.

Ruby's still reading anything and everything. It's no problem getting her to read good books; she's interested in everything from George Washington Carver to E. Nesbit to The Giver. At parent teacher conferences we were happy to hear that she continues to work great with others, is kind to everyone (even those who are different or don't easily fit in), and a new one... is really great at setting high goals for herself and going above and beyond what is expected of her on projects.

Moses bore his testimony today, which was a fun surprise. It was an even better surprise when he stood up and said that he knew we should honor our parents and he thanked us for being so nice to him and teaching him to do his chores so he could know how to work when he's a dad.

Moses was terrified to ask the woman we visited today for a glass of water and wouldn't do it for several minutes, so this was an especially big deal for him, and he was on cloud nine for a long time after; he felt so good.

Woo did not go snowboarding at all this week. Because of proximity and work hour flexibility, he gets to be choosy about the snow and just doesn't go if it's not awesome. He went cross-country skiing a few times instead and enjoyed that.

Woo also bore his testimony today. Also about the temple. In short: his life is much happier and more enjoyable since he started going more frequently.

I felt great for most of this week (thank goodness!). I think we might all be out of our January funk. I just keep doing what I'm always doing: mothering, wifing, family history, writing, exercising, and occasionally (for an extra dose of fun) sketching.

That's all for our week. Hope yours was great!

Testimony Below:

A year or two after my mission I was sitting in a Relief Society lesson taught by my friend Karly. Karly had recently been through the temple a few months before and she said that since receiving her endowment she had noticed that her prayers were being answered more quickly and more easily.

When she said that I had memories of my prayers and their answers flash through my mind and the Holy Ghost told me that what she had said was also true for me, even though I had never realized it before.

I don't fully understand all the blessings of the temple, but I know my life is much more peaceful because of regular temple attendance than it otherwise would be, and I definitely know my Heavenly Father hears and answers my prayers. I also believe that the temple enhances the blessings of all the other commandments I manage to keep. And all of it is made possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

I love my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ and I know they live.


Tons and Tons of Thick, Fat Snow

Monday: Buses delayed 2 hours, but they should've just cancelled school. Or I should've just kept the kids home. Tons of kids weren't there and they just played on the computers and watched movies. For some reason, I was still thinking of the time we missed the bus on the super cold day and was determined to not miss it this time.

Woo got a ride to the ski resort; he wasn't sure the van could make it. But when his ride had to come home at noon, he took the van up anyway, where it got buried in the parking lot. This is where it pays to be a local... he easily found a ride home, but the van stayed the night.

Tuesday: School cancelled. We got off to a rough start. Something about the kids thinking it was a party day and me wanting the chores done. But after those were done, Herbie and Linus had a ball outside. Ruby and Moses built up a lego storm. Ruby and I made caramels. And Ruby made Archie some Harry Potter glasses.

I rode my exercise bike. Archie decided to retrieve some legos that had fallen by me, and he got those alright, but when he stood up, he either tripped or something... anyways, his cheek and my pedal collided. I felt really bad.
Woo: How'd you get that cut on your cheek, Archie? 
Archie: Oh. Mom kicked me.
Woo went snowboarding and came down with the car in the afternoon, where we successfully sent in our passport applications! The lady who helped us was much nicer, and there were still a few surprises, but nothing that a quick drive home and back and an extra $100 couldn't solve.

Then we went to eat at Kneaders to celebrate. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

And then Ruby and Woo drove back down to do baptisms with the Young Mens/Young Women and ate pizza afterwards.

Wednesday: Woo goes snowboarding. Old-timers were saying it was the best snow conditions of their lives. He took a clip of himself that he was initially embarrassed to show us because he was having so much fun he whooped and then "giggled like a school girl" (Woo's words) or "laughed like Mickey Mouse" (Herbie's words).

The kids had early day and I took Penelope to her Walking Report Card since her teacher is having surgery the week of parent teacher conferences. Penelope was so excited to show me what she is learning and her teacher says she's a delight, friends with everyone, exactly where she wants her, no concerns at all.

Moses and Ruby continue their lego creating ways. Herbie gets into Little Britches: Father and I were Ranchers. Linus draws 100 basketballs on a poster board for school.

Thursday: Woo goes snowboarding; he breaks his binding. He leaves the board at the shop, comes back for his wallet and takes Archie up for a little ski for Archie's Daddy Day.

Friday: Woo goes snowboarding. In an unrelated event, Penelope finds the scissors.

I get out Archie's hopper ball so he can "exercise" while I ride the exercise bike and he promptly falls off backwards, hitting the center of his back and the back of his head on the corner of the china cabinet. Ouch.

Saturday: We go for a family snowshoe. I'm tired and don't really want to go, but do anyway. Penelope and Archie's thrift store snowshoes don't work and I spend a lot of time helping them get them back on every few feet. Finally, we decide it would be easier to just let them walk so I carry the snowshoes to a spot I think we'll pass again on our way back. But, before that, we hiked into the lake bed. I chose a path different than everyone else's. One that looked less steep, not realizing (although, I should have) that it wasn't less steep; it just had a lot more bushes and dead grass hidden under the snow.

Above is a picture of me with one foot lost in a sink hole, deeper than I am tall, and the other stuck in the snow at the top. I abandoned the extra snowshoes and went home soon after that, where I made a super easy, yet surprisingly crowd-pleasing dinner: grilled cheese sandwiches and frozen berries.

Sunday: Marked everyone's height for the new year, and a delightful New Beginnings with Ruby for Young Womens.

That's it. Hope you all had a great week!


Setbacks and Snow

It's official. I've crowned January my least favorite month of the year. I guess I had to have one, now that Novembers aren't so bad for us anymore. The kids were better, but not completely. I assume that will come next week. One thing I've noticed about myself is that when the kids are the most crazy, I'm pretty calm, positive, etc. (for the most part). But once we get into weeks 3 or 4 and they start to get better, I crack up. I don't know if it's the length of time or if I just let my guard down when the kids ease up and suddenly I'm really, really tired.

We also had a string of setbacks of some type or another almost every day this week. One or two or three is usually no big deal, but by the time we got to Saturday and got all the kids chored and fed and shoveled feet of snow off the car and driveway and got everyone to the post office for passport applications, only to be snapped at and find they didn't like our document copies and drove everyone to the library to make new ones and drove everyone back to the post office where they still didn't cut it... well, that was about the time where Woo and I just wanted to crawl into a fetal position under some warm covers.

Luckily the day got better from there. Yes, someone brought over some homemade chocolates. And we did successfully get passport pictures taken, that's one thing checked off the list. And we found someone to live in our house while we're gone. That's good too.

There was A LOT of snow this week, which has been very pretty and fun to play in. Woo took both Linus and Moses snowboarding (separately) and they both had a ball. We've all gone sledding and done some shoveling. Most of the kids have spent time building snowforts.
Me: What's your favorite thing to do in the winter? 
Archie: Oh, shovel snow.
Herbie came home the night before his wax museum project was due and announced he hadn't done a thing. Maybe I'm a jerk, but I refuse to get stressed out and pour my heart and soul into saving someone from their own procrastination on a school project. So, he drew up a poster on the spot on someone he already knew quite a bit about and already had a costume for. And I think he was pretty happy with his choice and performance, which makes me doubly glad I just let him handle it.

Woo and Ruby went to an activity at someone's cabin and listened to some Stake leaders speak. Woo came home with stories of her raising her hand and trying to answer every single question. Some of them with (so-so) jokes and some seriously. It's fun to have a legitimate spy watching Ruby in this new situation and we laughed thinking about our silly daughter who is such a 12 year old. And at our 12 year old answering some silly questions.
Questioner (after many failed and leading attempts): Okay, say you help a family of four. How many people have you helped? 
Ruby: Four.
Questioner (looking for one specific answer): What do you need to have before you can help some one? 
Lots of kids with lots of answers
Questioner: No. No. No. 
Another kid: Charity. 
Questioner: No. 
Ruby (immediately after this, but raising her hand the whole time and not being called on because she'd already answered so many questions): Love.
Moses was great in Sacrament meeting today. He was the only one who could tell us what the talks were about--the whole talk. But the strain must have been the limit for his day. He broke down in Primary when his teacher asked him to switch seats and spent the rest of the meeting sobbing while the Primary President rubbed his back. And then he managed to stand up and say the closing prayer (which he'd previously agreed to) with absolutely no trouble at all.

Linus is the first of our kids ever to go snowboarding with Woo and not want to come home. They usually are done and ready to go after a few runs (or even one, in some cases :(. But, Linus didn't want to come home ever. He was loving it and being daring and doing great.

Penelope has been incredibly absentminded this week. She could not keep her mind on even the simplest task. I had to throw her snow clothes on her a couple times (after twenty minutes of reminding her to do it herself) so we wouldn't miss the bus. She usually has no problem getting ready for school.

That's all. Hope you had a great week!