Happy Birthday, Herbie!

Herbie's been anticipating his birthday for weeks!  He was so excited, and had been talking about it for so long, I was a little bit worried that it would be anti-climatic for him. But, I think it really turned out to be everything he wanted it to be. He never even told me what he wanted as presents, until I thought to ask him a week before.  

I think that actually being 6 and the recognition are the things that he loves.  He told me everyone who remembered it was his birthday: both bus drivers (thanks to Ruby telling them the day before), his substitute teacher, being called down to the office for his card and pencil from the principal, being sung to in Primary, etc.  

Of course, he got to pick dinner and dessert; we sang to him several times, and I told him stories about himself before he fell asleep.  

It's been a great 6 years, Herbie!

little boy turning six birthday cake candle

Herbie's friend Baiden occasionally comes over and plays at our house.  Whenever he does, some mischief inevitably occurs.  Nothing serious, really, but more than if the kids were just playing alone.

Herbie: Can I go play at Baiden's house? 
Me: Yeah, maybe when you're 17! 
Herbie: Why? 
Me: Because if we were to let you go play at Baiden's house, you guys would end up doing things like flood their basement, or take someone's fireplace apart -- brick by brick. 
(I said this for Woo's benefit, since he actually did those things while out and about with his friend Greg at about Herbie's age). 
Herbie (shocked): I would never do that!  
(reconsidering) Except flood the basement. 
Me: Oh? Why? 
Herbie: Because then we would have a swimming pool!
Great minds think alike, I guess.

kids running on beach
Sometimes Moses has so much imagination:

Moses (crying and yelling in the stairwell): Mom! Herbie wants to vacuum me up!! 
Herbie, that will make it run out of batteries!! 
Herbie, why do you want to vacuum me up?? 
Herbie (very calm, apparently showing him the bottom of the vacuum): Moses, see this hole.   
You wouldn't even fit in it ...

And sometimes he doesn't:
Woo: Lie on your back and look at the clouds, Moses.  What do you see? 
Moses:  Nothing. 
Woo: What do the clouds look like? 
*long pause* 
Moses: Clouds.
boy and girl looking off cliff beach wind

Ruby's broken arm has not slowed her down at all.  She runs, jumps, does the monkey bars at the playground, plays soccer -- pretty much everything she did before (Except she says she can't vacuum -- I'm going to humor her for a week or so more on that one.)  We haven't allowed her to ride her bike or jump on the trampoline until we get the OK from the Doc on Monday, that it looks like it's healing correctly, and then I'm sure she'll be going full-force.  Woo thinks it's ironic that after all the snowboarding, bike riding (off jumps too), trampoline jumping, etc. she broke her arm falling out of the hammock.  

Which reminds me, whenever we're talking to someone about how it happened, and it comes out that Herbie was pushing Ruby in the hammock, she's always quick to add, "But, I forgive him!"

Linus has been bitten by the vacuuming bug.  For months, really, he'd pick up a stick or tube (anything even remotely resembling a vacuum) and trace it on the ground while making a buzzing sound, but this week I actually let him use our (very) lightweight vacuum.  He was ecstatic!  He could've run that thing all day, and he even figured out how to say it, "Bacuuuum!"  
"Beeaze, bacuuuum, Mom! Beeaze!"dad and toddler boy playing on beach
Penelope is very grabby, and is a bit more mobile and has a bit more reach, then we give her credit for. She's upended plates of food, cups of water, that we thought were safe.  The kids haven't been able to find things they were just playing with, only to find them in Penelope's tight little grip.  She's not yet old enough to get mad when anything is taken from her, so retrieval is still a simple matter.  

Tonight Linus and Penelope were sitting in my lap fighting over a book.  Well, Linus was fighting.  Penelope was just following the constant call to snatch.

baby girl smiling

Woo and I have started the kitchen.  I really wanted his help because I knew that he'd be much better at the precise cuts and measuring than I would be.  We got off to a bit of a rough start, but once he realized he was going to have to do most of the thinking, and I realized that I was going to have to calm down and do things at his pace, we've started to get stuff done.  The kitchen's a disaster again, but I'm just excited to be moving forward!

How was everyone's week?  Anyone have a birthday?  Anyone else have trouble seeing anything but clouds in the clouds?  I hope you all got to go outside and enjoy the spring weather!


Sometimes when I check on the kids at night,

I get a bit of a shock.

Do you think he misses his crib?

toddler out of bed


Guest Story: Between Bedtime and Sleep

This week's guest story comes from Karen. Karen is the mother of 6 lovely kiddos. Her degree is in Biology Teaching, and her kids do things like grow their own cabbage, start fires and boil vegetables in the backyard, and replicate music they've only heard when they sit down at the piano. Karen enjoys her time with them during the day, and then she enjoys putting them down to bed, so she can try to relax (some nights more successfully than others). Thank you, Karen!

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your golden hair!" I called.

My older sister, Christine, then hung her blanket down from the top bunk. Sure, it was bedtime, but who could resist playing Rapunzel?

Or making up stories based on Little House on the Prairie?

Or hanging upside down between the wall and the top bunk?

Or doing anything besides actually going to sleep?

Now that I have a bunch of little kids, I frown on such nighttime nonsense. But, as they say, what goes around comes around.

My kids' first bedtime escapade happened when my oldest was 4 and his little sister was 2. I came in to check on them before going to bed, when I discovered that they had taken all of their clothes out of the dresser and scattered them all over the place.

WHAT were they thinking?!?!?!

Since then, we have tried to have a sense of humor about it. If we see something really creative, we take a picture.

Trying out what being pregnant feels like.
girl sleeping pregnant

Pretending to be baby Moses.
girl sleeping in library basket

Drawing inventions until he dropped.
boy sleeping with paper and crayons

Playing princess (the sock is a fancy glove).
girl sleeping dressed up as princess

Sleeping in the same bed.
kids sleeping in same bed

Guarding her room.
little girl sleeping on floor by door

There are some things we can't show pictures of, like when they take all their clothes off and sleep au natural.

And one time, we found one of our daughters asleep with her mouth taped shut. I took a picture and then deleted it because it looked so scary.

Or sometimes, I'm so mad I can't think of taking a picture.

Like when the girls stayed up making mixtures of toothpaste, sanitizer, soap, and perfume, and put it in play dishes all over the place.

A few nights ago one of my girls excitedly shared a story from Little House on the Prairie with her sister, and I had to smile; my big sister probably told me that same story when I was a kid -- while we were supposed to be sleeping.

Do your kids play when they should be sleeping? Guilty of a past indiscretion yourself?

Read past guest stories here, and please consider submitting your own!


Before & Progress: Kitchen (Part 2)

Warning: There is not a single pretty picture in the following post. You are about to see the squalor in which we live.

The reason I split the kitchen up into two parts is because it is a large room, and I only showed you half of the room last time. Here are the befores from this other half of the room:
kitchen before wallpaper

Kind of confusing, I know. Sorry.

kitchen before paneling

And now ... it doesn't look much different, to be honest.

mudroom ikea expedite bikes hanging from ceiling

Since our front door opens up directly into the living room, and because I have a bunch of kids (and a husband) who need a specific place to drop things when they come in the door, I decided to convert the back part of the kitchen into a mudroom.

We're the only people you know with bikes hanging in their kitchen, aren't we?

tanker desk pedestal chair command center ikea expedit house plants

I also needed a command/sewing/craft center, and this seemed like the best place for it. (I have pretty plans for that desk and chair, don't worry!)

old folding chairs mudroom before

There's plenty of room back there for some seating. Right now I have some old folding chairs that I might repaint and recover, or I might replace it with a fun bench. We'll see.

ikea expedit mudroom shoes

The trusty Expedit is corralling our shoes and the kids' treasures for now. That door leads to a bathroom, btw. Which is perfect for when the kids need to come in for a quick pitstop or need a bath before they can enter the rest of the house.

Like I said, this is the room that we're currently working on, so we should be seeing lots more progress here pretty soon.

(See the kitchen now, and have you seen the other rooms in our old house?)



Question: Are Nerds Cool?

"Me!" and "I do!" have replaced "No" and "No way!" as Linus' favorite phrases. We can easily get him to do what we want by taking advantage of this.
Me: I need someone to throw this away. Linus, will you do it?
Linus: Me?!?!
Me: Yes.
Linus: Nah!!! (translation: OK!!!)

After he's already told me he doesn't want to do something:
Me: Ok, Linus. You can do it or Mom can do it.
Linus: I do!!! (And sprints off to do it.)

The nerd genes are over-expressed in this one:

toddler in goggles
We read about Alma and Amulek and the fire last night.
Ruby: I didn't even know they had fires back then!

And the cool genes are over-expressed in this one:

little girl in hulk hogan sweater
Moses: Mom! A bee stinged me on the ear really soft! It didn't even hurt!

Hmmm, are you sure that was a bee sting, Moses?

Moses sometimes likes to pretend he's selling us food at the park.
Moses: Dad, do you want a hot dog?!
Woo: Of course!

Moses runs over with a pinecone.
Woo pretends to eat it, drops it on the ground behind him.
Moses: Where is it?
Woo: I ate it!
Moses (incredulous look on his face): You ate a pinecone?!
Woo (acting shocked): You told me it was a hot dog!

Moses spent the rest of our time there periodically attempting to taste pinecones and wood chips.

Me: Do you guys see the rainbow?
Moses: Rainbow? Where's the rainbow?
Rainbow! RAINBOW!!!

Where's the rainbow?

My little Herbie's growing up:
Me: Look at you, Herbie -- carrying the vacuum up and down the stairs all by yourself!
Herbie (so proud): I know, Mom! And I can do basketball shoots and front flips!
I'm just love that carrying vacuums is even associated with those other two.


brothers nerds
I stepped up my running recently, so as not to embarrass myself too much at Ragnar (and to get serious about shedding that lingering 10 lbs).

One thing I've noticed about running around town (and I saw this on my mission too) is that the more people see you, the more they start to think that they know you. They'll smile and wave; leave a comment or two, and when you see them in other situations, they think of you as an old friend.

An added plus for socially awkward people, like myself.

When you have 5 kids, your safety standards will go out the window too.

mom carrying two kids on lowrider bicycle baby wearing
If Penelope can hear Woo's voice, she'll look all around and call, "Da da da!" It's kind of annoying when I'm trying to nurse her. She may like to call Woo the most, and she may like to wave at him the most, but she does not like him to hold her when she's mad/tired/hurt.

In those situations only Mom will do.

I don't know if you know this, but babies have gigantic heads.

baby sitting big head
We are now a 2 cell phone family, and one of them is ... an android.

Woo's working on a new app, and he got it for development. Since he's gotten it, Woo's been wishing his iPhone also had a kickstand, and wishing his iPhone was just a little bit bigger, and wishing that his iPhone vibrated a bit every time he touched the face of it ...

No really, he's been getting frustrated by all of those things. It's mine to use when he's done with it, and he's doing quite the sales job.

At the intersection of nerd and cool:

wheelie trials bike

Did everyone else have a good week?


Irrational Fears

boy crying on bike
Sometimes you just don't want to ride your bike because you ...

dad teaching crying boy to ride bike
"Don't want to be eaten by a bear!"


A Debilitating Fear of Thunder

kids playing in rain
We had a few thunderstorms this week, and Herbie's decided that loud noises scare him. As soon as he hears thunder, he immediately plugs his ears.

worried little boy plugging ears
It turns out that it's pretty tough to do a lot of things when both your hands are in your ears.

One night, soon after putting him to bed, I heard, "Mom! Mom!" I went to the door to talk to him, but it was pretty clear that he couldn't hear a word I said.

He was lying in bed sweating (faint rumble of thunder in the background), hands glued to his ears, eyes screwed shut, face grimacing ... I touched him.
"My nose itches."
I scratched it.
"My eye itches."
I scratched it.

He dismissed me.



One Time I Threw Up in the Sink ...

4th grade class picture, ten year old girl, 80s nostalgia
(Me, age 10)

There's been a request for me to write about the time I threw up in the sink.

I was probably 9 or 10, and this is what I remember: I needed to throw up, so I ran to the bathroom. The first thing I saw was the sink, and that's where everything came up.

Mom was upset that I hadn't thrown up in the toilet (which was right next to the sink). Why hadn't I run two feet farther to the toilet? I didn't know.

I remember it was a pain to clean up, but I don't remember actually doing it myself. I think Mom did.

Anyway, I've never thrown up in a sink again. I have done worse, though.

The first day back from school after cutting my finger off (5th grade), the painkiller I was taking didn't agree with me. I ran out the door of the classroom, flinging a, "I need to throw up!" out there, sprinted down the hall and around the corner, put both hands on the door to the bathroom, and shoved at the exact same time I erupted.

When I finally emerged from cleaning off my hands and arms, the janitor was in the hall mopping up. I felt bad.


Easter Edition: A Week Late

little girl hospital bed broken arm
Ruby broke her arm this week, falling off the hammock. She came in and cried for about a minute until Woo said, "You'll be ok, Ruby, kids break their arms all the time."

She was calm and composed all the hours they had to wait to get it set, and even started to think that her "snaky arm" was hilarious by the time they got to the hospital.
Me: Dad said you didn't cry very much and that you were very brave. Why is that? Did it not hurt?

Ruby: I knew that Jesus heals those who are true and who follow him.
little girl arm cast instagram
We have a neighbor who likes to anonymously leave gifts for the kids on holidays. Easter morning, Woo and I noticed a large, brightly colored package on the front porch. After a couple of hours of the kids not noticing anything:
Woo: Why don't you guys look outside?
Ruby (not moving): Why?
Herbie: Why, Dad?
Woo: Just look outside.
Moses (walked to window, looked out): Nothing.
Me: Go to the front door ... Why don't you guys go outside?
Herbie: I need to find my church shoes.
We could not get anyone to go outside.

After about 15 minutes, Moses thought he was ready to go outside. He ran to the back door, but I redirected him to the front door. He closed the door behind him, and didn't come back.
Woo: Can Moses be trusted with that out there alone? (We could see that it included lots of treats.)
Woo: Ruby, open the door and tell him to bring it in.
Ruby: Bring what in?
Woo: Just say, "Bring it in!"
Ruby (opening the door): Bring it in!
Moses: Bring what in?

Oh, THIS?!?!
They had finally seen it.
Herbie: Who brought it?
Me: It's a mystery.
Ruby: You know who brought it, who was it?
Me: I think I know ...
Woo: You guys could probably figure it out too, if you think about it.
Ruby: God?!
Moses was exceptionally obedient and kind for a few days:
Us: Why have you been so good Moses?
Moses: I'm trying to be like Jesus.
Exactly what we wanted to hear. I think we can consider ourselves done with him, right? Right??

baby girl instagram
Penelope is venturing into the world of sitting, and I'm pretty positive that she's saying, "ma ma ma ma mom" and "da da da da" at all the right times. She'll say "da da da da," and smile and wave, when Woo enters a room, and when he turns to leave, she'll say, "da da da."

baby girl sitting instagram
Linus seems to finally have made the attitude adjustment that talking is cool. He'll babble on and on when saying his own prayers, ending with a pretty clear, "Amen!" and throwing in a random "Dad'n" here and there. He's added about 10 words to his vocabulary in the last week or two --- moving past "No!" and "No way!" to "Pees, Mom!" and "I do it!"


Guest Story: William & the Secret Passage

Today's guest post comes from Emily, a stay-at-home mother of 4. In her past life, Emily enjoyed soccer, ultimate frisbee, fishing and camping. In her current life, she enjoys going to the beach, and rubbing the fact that she can any-ole-time-she-wants-to in our faces. She was kind enough to share this experience with her son, Will. Thanks, Emily!

We went to Disneyland on Friday afternoon. When we told William we were going he told me,
"I don't want to go to Disneyland!"
"Why not William? I thought you wanted to go."
"I don't want to go! I want our whole family to stay home."
I was so confused. What 4 year old doesn't want to go to Disneyland?

We met up with Clayton's cousin and his wife and kids. They have 3 boys and they were all in green T-shirts and so was William. So after our first ride on the Astro Orbiters, both Clayton and I assumed that one of the boys we saw had to be William.

But it wasn't. William was gone.

We were terrified. Everyone started looking, but he wasn't around the ride anywhere. I couldn't think very clearly, so I kept praying that William would stay where he was and that we could somehow be led to him. When I told a worker that he was gone, I had to ask Eliza what he was wearing because I just couldn't think clearly.

The worker started walking me towards the entrance of the park to report a missing child. As I made my way there, Nicole (Clayton's cousin's wife) came toward me holding William's hand. I was so relieved and gave William a big hug. He acted like it was no big deal. He took me to where he had been. He kept calling it a secret passage. It was a pathway in between some rocks that led around a small pond and then towards the Matterhorn.

Nicole said he was just standing there next to another worker. Apparently the worker had tried to talk to William, but William wouldn't answer him at all. "Because he was a stranger". So the worker just stood there with him until someone came. I am so grateful for that guy and that William was o.k.!

Nicole said that she and one of her sons had said a prayer, then just felt like they should go to the area where William was. I know that the Spirit could reach her better that me or Clayton because we were so worried. I'm very grateful we were all there together.

Long story, but so dramatic and scary. I think that's why William didn't want to go that day. I think he somehow felt something would be wrong. Just a hunch.

Next time we are bringing leashes!

Have you ever a lost a child? What did you do?

Read past guest stories here, and please consider submitting your own!


The Pledge of Witches

elementary school thanksgiving program
Ruby: I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation and invisible
witches for all!



Are All Those Yours?

couple with baby 70s
(Dad, Mom & Me --- weren't they cute?)

I remember Mom taking all four of us kids to BYU campus. We pulled up to visitor parking, and the parking attendant (a BYU student) asked Mom if she was baby sitting. He didn't believe that all those kids (and so old!) were hers.

I remember thinking he was weird and almost felt insulted (of course, we were her kids! Jerk!).

Mom had the opposite reaction.

That's the only specific memory I have, but it seems like this kind of thing was a fairly common occurrence.


Valley of Goblins

family hike, southern utah, camping with kids
(Woo considers this a family photo; that's his shadow waving in the corner)

After a camping-less, road trip-less summer last year (with me being pregnant and then on newborn duty), we headed off as soon as we could this year.

road trip with kids, happy toddler carseat
Linus illustrates the happy state we all were in to be on the road.

Penelope illustrates the cramped state of our car.

road trip with kids, camping with kids
We headed for Goblin Valley, where the temperatures are warm, and the hikes are a kids' (and adults'?) wonderland.

Just the parking lot alone, proved to be riveting.

Woo: I think this must be what heaven is like: backhoes, dump trucks -- dumping dirt, hoodoos, and ... kids.

The kids sprinted down the trail and scattered,

little boy, goblin valley, climbing on hoodoos, kids
climbing over, through,

toddler, goblin valley, hoodoos
and around the hoodoos.

little boy, goblin valley, sitting on hoodoos
And then Woo had to show off.

man jumping between hoodoos
After Goblin Valley, Woo took Ruby and Herbie on a slot canyon hike in Little Wild Horse Canyon.

little wild horse canyon, kids, slot canyon hike
The loop was a little over 8 miles, and they did it in about 4 hours.

kids in a slot canyon, little wild horse canyon
Woo only had to carry them each for a small bit (during a boring part).

little girl in a slot canyon, little wild horse canyon
While they were gone, the littles and I attempted to take a nap (no go, but we did get some nice quiet time).

Then we did a little hike of our own.

little boy holding rocks, hiking
Some fascinating rocks were collected, but proved difficult to carry for long distances.

toddler holding rocks, hiking
That didn't stop them from trying. Over and over again.

Miraculously, despite my kids choosing to hike in shoes like these, we didn't have any blisters.

bad shoes for hiking, blisters
And in spite of our imaginations occasionally getting away from us,
Moses: I thought Dad was super dead, Ruby! You thought he was really dead!
The only bandaid we used on the whole trip was for this unfortunate tear on our pass.

bandaid used as tape on tear
Of course, we had to stop at the DI in Price on the way home. For some reason, this DI always has treasures.
Woo: I don't want to get my hopes up, but ... the last time I was here, was my best DI trip ever!

family at DI, deseret industries, thrift store, price, utah, tail-gating
It definitely wasn't the best, but Woo did find a nice, fitted, grey suit, and I found this:

80s women's jumpsuit, thrift store
I'll be able to find somewhere to wear it, right?

toddler sleeping in carseat, road trip with kids
Linus finally got that nap he'd been fighting, on the way home.