10.26.2015

MR. LOOKY-HANSUM-LOOKING


Moses was Star of the Week in his class. As part of that his teacher made a little booklet for him full of notes from the rest of the class. There are some nice compliments in there, such as: You are the sweeted boy in the class, and You are nice to everwon. Moses likes to read through it whenever he has some free minutes.

But our favorite was this one:


Which we found even more amusing when read out loud in Woo's ESL accent (I haven't pinpointed an exact nationality, which is probably a good thing.) Then we called Moses Mr. Looky-Handsum-Looking a few times before we decided we better stop or Moses'd write a tell-all exposing his parents as jerks who read all his love notes out loud to the whole family, then taunted him about it. But darn it's a catchy name. And of course his mother thinks it rings true.

My visiting teacher HATES visiting teaching. She hates it so much, she'd rather watch Archie and Penelope once a month for three hours while Woo and I go to the temple, then make us a delicious lunch when we get back (complete with treats) and then let Woo get a 15 minute massage in her giant massage chair. We aren't complaining.


Once I figured out those first few names from the Bohemian birth register it became a snap. I combed through that thing finding aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins... the only problem was it became something like a video game that I couldn't stop. I spent a few nights up too late on the hunt for that last sibling in the family, which was not good for me. One morning Woo was also feeling under the weather and spent the day in bed with his laptop. It was like a siren song every time I had to walk into the room and past the bed.
Me: How come I don't get to lie in bed all day?? 
Woo: Cuz you're not the bread winner, Chels!
Herbie continues to hone his organizational skills. He has Nellpea and Archie helping him unload the dishwasher, Moses and Linus helping him clean his room... He's also learning how to do it in a kind and encouraging way.

For his Daddy Day this week he helped Woo fix an old computer. Herbie loved every second of it. He felt so important.


Another morning after staying up too late (Yes, I know... I've vowed to not let this happen again... Mistakes happen, okay... ) I directed the get-ready-for-school routine from the couch. Ruby was a super woman, helping kids as well as herself get everything in order.


I really had no idea that Ruby's middle name would be so appropriate, but being merciful is one of her strongest talents. Linus started crying the second I told him he had to clean up the pen he'd scribbled on the floor and Ruby immediately hopped up for a sponge to help him. She taught him how to do it and got him working hard, which was also a huge help to me, as I was trying to get dinner on the table.


The kids got to try on a ten minute version of their costumes for a party this week.
Moses (Darth Vader): This is good for school because then I can't pick my nose.
We were told that anticipation for Linus' costume in the kindergarten is already high after he told his class he was going to be "a cowboy riding a chicken."


Woo got us out for a picnic Saturday. I was envisioning a hike, but he had something else in mind. Somehow he loaded bikes for everyone, plus a trailer on the van. Driving up to the mountains was a white knuckle event (for him--I was quite comfortable in the passenger seat), but it was worth it to do a little mountain biking. Woo pulled Penelope and Archie in the trailer and I stayed with Linus, who actually walked most of the way to the picnic area. He did ride some single track.


Penelope had a dream that Archie was in her primary class and told Archie all about it. The only problem was Archie believed it was real and thought he'd being going to class with her today. He also thinks he's giving a talk in the Primary program in a few weeks. But he will be there sooner than expected. We're going to move him up a year early, since he misses the cutoff by only 4 days, and otherwise he'd be the only nursery kid in our ward.


Well, that's all I've got. Hope you've had a great week!


10.19.2015

BRYCE CANYON + US

CRUSTS, QUASARS AND LEAVES


We've had a lot go on the last two weeks. I'm not going to be able to even touch most of it. Notable non-everyday events were Bergen's baby blessing and our camping trip to Bryce (with pitstops in Orem) for fall break. Oh, and our twelfth wedding anniversary (which is a big thing, but we didn't do much).

Bergen's blessing was fun and good to see everyone. Here's the kids getting a closer look at the "rocks." And then those rocks all disappeared just a few minutes later.


Woo wanted to do something fun for fall break. I was ambivalent until we pulled up to the ranger station at Bryce. Then I started to think, "This might be one camping trip too many this year..." And, "This is going to be a loooong 72 hrs..." But I think I was just tired. I fell asleep before 9:30pm and other than waking just long enough to check my phone at 4:30am, I slept soundly until 7:00am.


Rain was in the forecast so we packed up early and drove to Woo's parents, where we put the kids in bed and went out to celebrate our anniversary. I think our only goal was to make it look like we'd done something exciting for the kids. We put on the two plastic fire helmets they'd all been eyeing and drove down the street. We ended up at the grocery store where Woo got a tub of moose tracks ice cream and some fancy tortilla chips (for salsa). I got some hot cinnamon flavored popcorn and a bag of snickers. Then we went back to Woo's parents to stuff ourselves silly. It was more satisfying than I expected to eat all the treats I wanted without being mobbed by kids.


Earlier in the week Archie wanted to nap with his backpack on. He was so cute curled up next to me with his blindfold covering his eyes and his little backpack over his shoulders. I tried to take a picture, but the light was too dim. Instead, I just stared at him all nap time thinking about how cute his was and how much I loved him. I thought, "This is one of the best moments of my life." And even though it doesn't seem like much of anything, it was true.

Another day Archie was in the kitchen with me getting a hug and crying about not wanting to eat his crust.
Penelope (running in from the dining room): Come here, Archie!
Linus (yelling from the table): We have a surprise for you! 
Archie runs to the table.
Linus: It's under that plate!
Archie (lifts up the plate, gasps in happiness): Oh! It's crust! 
Yes, the very same crust he wouldn't eat just seconds earlier, he happily scarfed down in seconds. Who knew Penelope and Linus were so smart?


We started home a bit late from Bergen's blessing. Kids were shouting and laughing in the van, and in general being crazy. Moses is usually one of the wiggliest and loudest.
Woo: Be quiet!
Moses: Yeah! Some people like ME are trying to go to sleep!
There's no way that was going to happen, but at least his heart was in the right place.

Penelope (staring at a group of teens in church): Mom, can I have braces for my birthday? 
And Woo made the mistake of calling her "buddy."
I'm not a buddy I'm a SWEETIE!!!
Ruby and Linus have been drawing a lot of floor plans lately. They draw a separate dream room for everyone. Theirs is always the biggest, with the largest circular window. There are a lot of slides in their houses and ladders to get into built in bunkbeds. Ruby always makes sure to draw cubbies or drawers or chests in which to place the most precious possessions of each kid. Linus made a mistake on one of his, but he thought quick, colored it purple and turned it into Dad's beanbag.

Also, Ruby's taken up lawn mowing too.

Herbie: Dad can I rake?
Woo: Sure
Herbie: Yes!! 
Then he organized all the other kids, made sure they had tools and they raked piles and moved leaves to the mulch pile while Woo and I laid in the hammock (too lazy to move so a branch wasn't covering Herbie's face).


While we were at Bryce, Woo gave a short astronomy lesson as soon as the stars came out. Ruby, Herbie and Moses bombarded him with questions about black holes and how we all would die if something went wrong with the sun. I heard the word quasar thrown out a few times, which I'm sure made everything clear to everyone. Linus, Penelope and Archie bombarded me. Penelope and Archie spent most of it arguing about whether there really was a horse (Pegasus) in the sky.


And here's a few extra pics of Penelope!


Well, that's about it. Hope you had a great week!

10.12.2015

OCTOBER 5, 2015: DAY IN THE LIFE


It's been five years or so since I've written one of these, but this morning I got up thinking it was time for another. I'm going to be outing myself here in many ways. It will be too much for some of you, but the way I see it--I'm raising kids here. I've got to be at the top of my game. As always these can run long and boring. Feel free to skip :).

5:50 am -- Alarm goes off. I rub my eyes, shine the light of my phone in my face for a few moments, then read the Book of Mormon (Alma 42-44) and pray.

2 -- Climb out of bed, get out weights, lift, put weights away.

3 -- Call Ruby, Herbie, Moses and Linus down to read scriptures (by themselves, in the same room). I started this last year when I noticed it helped our before-school routine go much smoother.

4 -- Everyone finally settles enough for Linus to offer a prayer and the rest of us to start reading. I read Alma 45-47, Linus looks at a Friend magazine or illustrated scriptures, since he can't actually read. I have no idea where Ruby, Herbie and Moses are reading until Herbie asks me who Northrup Sweet is, then Ezra Thayre (Doctrine and Covenants). Ruby wants to know who "was made a little lower than the angels... ?" But she knows; she just wants to say something.

5 -- Kids run upstairs to clean rooms, make beds and change clothes. I start some toast and unload the dishwasher. Archie and Penelope come down. Who knows where this started, but:
Penelope: I'm going on my mission to Arianna! 
Archie: I'm going to the boy states!
I made the mistake(??) of showing the kids some of Studio C's Captain Literally clips over the weekend since Ruby's recently added "literally" to her vocabulary. Linus comes down dressed as the Nuclear Ninja.


While kids eat and pack lunches, I load the dishwasher and start a load of laundry. Then kids do chores or work on homework or bounce around the living room shouting, "Balance restored!" Moses' "Balance restored!" is proclaimed the most authentic and I have to say I agree.


I sweep the floor and keep kids on task.

6 -- Kids get ready to leave and meet in the living room.

7 -- We repeat the scripture we're memorizing, except this week we're not actually doing a scripture. Instead we're doing a poem I found in an old conference talk of Elder Nelson's.
Stick to your task till it sticks to you;
Beginners are many, but enders are few.
Honor, power, place and praise
Will always come to the one who stays. 
Stick to your task till it sticks to you;
Bend at it, sweat at it, smile at it too;
For out of the bend and the sweat and the smile
Will come life's victories, after awhile.
8 -- Woo joins us for family prayer and a song. It's Ruby's turn to do both (Monday). She picks "Hot Cross Buns," which has inexplicably become a favorite of the kids since Tyson introduced them to it a few years ago. We go through periods of banning it because it's mind-numbingly boring for us parents. But it's been awhile since we last sang it and let it slide.

9 -- Ruby, Herbie, Moses and Linus leave for school. Monday is my heavy cleaning day after the disaster the house always ends up in after Sunday. I start in. Penelope and Archie make beds for dolls in the living room.

10 -- Quick break to drink olive oil (with my nose plugged and a glass of water handy to swish it down) and eat a bit of breakfast (a roll and some cottage cheese).

11 -- I buzz around the house, checking off tasks in my HomeRoutines app as I do them. Penelope and Archie follow me around doing the odd chores I request: throwing something away, fetching a vacuum attachment, carrying dirty clothes down to the laundry, then they run their own toy vacuums at my heels.

12 -- Change laundry.


13 -- Penelope and Archie leave me to play outside.

14 -- Empty, reload dishwasher (Always a back-up of dishes after Sunday too.)

15 -- Done! 12 tasks completed!

The house is still not as clean as I would like, but we're definitely turning a corner here into "cleaner" as the kids get older and I have more energy to get tasks done quicker. But I'm not going to spend all my time on it. I'm content to leave well enough alone.

So now??? In the last two weeks, since school started and I'm not dealing with broken appliances or mouse disasters, I've found I have a big hole in my day with nothing in it. I'm not quite sure what to do here, as I'd like to have something productive I can fall back on without having to figure out something new every day. I find it's too easy to get bored or waste time when I do that (and I'm only a fan of wasting time later on in the week.) The plan can always be discarded if something better comes up or a change of pace is needed. Some things I've tried so far: teaching Penelope to write her name, having kids color cards to deliver to neighbors, walks, working on my story ...   I could do repairs around the house ... I'm not committed to anything yet. Today I sit down and type this email.

16 -- Penelope comes in to change dresses.

17 -- Penelope leaves.

18 -- Penelope: Archie's stuck on the trampoline. I rescue Archie and kids play with toys in the house. I dispense hugs and discipline as necessary.

19 -- Penelope and Archie clean up and search for shoes.

20 -- Woo breaks from work to eat breakfast. He eats a salami sandwich, a stale granola bar I pulled out of the old 72 hr kits (don't ask me why) and a giant carrot.

21 -- We all walk to the bus stop to pick up Linus.

Woo: Did anyone say, "Nice haircut, Linus?"
Linus (laughing): They all did!
And someone on the bus said I'm not Linus!!
22 -- Lunch. PBJ and apples for the kids. Ham sandwich for me. Back to work for Woo.

23 -- Story Time. Linus picks his new library book: Courageous Captain America. Penelope picks Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy and Archie picks Curious George takes a Job. There are a few short interruptions to watch the garbage truck go by, look at some graffiti art on Woo's laptop, and debate over who called the ambulance to come pick up George.

24 -- Nap/Quiet Time. Linus works on his kindergarten homework and makes a card for his teacher. Penelope looks at stories and Archie naps (with the aid of a blindfold and me napping right next to him). Just before we settle down, Linus comes to me bawling.
Me: What's wrong? 
Linus: I did my homework wrong!!!
He'd written a two in the wrong place.

25 -- Archie and I wake up. Then Penelope shares some of her stories with Archie while I check my emails and texts, then read Titus 2-3 and Philemon. We're studying the New Testament in Sunday School, but I don't read the corresponding chapters each week. I just read the whole New Testament, a few chapters a day, over and over again, all year long.

26 -- Kids clean up their Quiet Time messes and run downstairs. The kids snack on pineapple. I snack on walnuts, dried tomatoes and cottage cheese, then walk out to the mail box. There's ads, the water bill and a notice that the Mercedes has been removed from our insurance.


27 -- I decide to make chicken pepper jack enchiladas for dinner. All three kids form a procession behind me into the basement to grab ingredients from the freezer.

28 -- Linus, Penelope and Archie run outside to play in the leaves. I change the laundry and unload the dishwasher. Then I start folding clothes. Except what I do is not really "folding." It's more separating into piles for each child. I leave it up to them how they want their clothes in their drawers, which 90% of the time is a giant mess, but they do occasionally fold them. I fold and put away mine and Woo's clothes.

29 -- I go outside to see the "sign" Linus and Penelope are constructing in the pasture and wait on the front porch for Ruby, Herbie and Moses to get home.

Ruby gets off the bus singing "Wayside School is Falling Down" at the top of her lungs and bouncing a soccer ball. Herbie and Moses shuffle home. Herbie says he's mad because PT conferences are coming up--where teachers say you're being bad (which has never happened to him).

Ruby makes a ham and cheese sandwich, Moses PBJ, and Herbie eats cottage cheese, then they run outside and play!

30 -- I start dinner.

31 -- Woo needs a hug. He can't get the files from our hard drive restored.

32 -- Ruby, Archie and Moses come in complaining that Herbie's being mean. I suggest playing in another part of the yard.

33 -- Ruby comes in to grab something and complain about Herbie again.
Me: I have a secret mission for you, Ruby. See what you can do to be Herbie's friend. 
Ruby (the tone of her voice immediately changes): I was thinking about that! 
Me: Great! See if you can be his best friend. 
Ruby: Well, Liney's already that... 
Me: Ok, shoot for second best. 
Ruby (running out the door): Ok!
34 -- Change the laundry (again) and call kids in for dinner chores. They've been having a "Halloween party" (brilliant, Ruby!).


35 -- Herbie blows bubbles from his soapy hands.


36 -- Kids are all seated, we're just waiting for Woo, when Archie hits Penelope over the head with his plate (plastic). That seems to be contained until I hear Archie bawling.
Me: Did you hit Archie now, Penelope? 
Penelope: No. 
Linus: I hit him cuz Penelope's in my club!
Great.

37 -- Woo joins us at the table and calls on Archie to pray. Archie mumbles something we can't hear, then doesn't want to pray again. Woo asks Ruby and Archie throws a giant tantrum because now he does want to pray. He won't go up to bed to calm down; he wants a hug. I hug him to the stairs and up to his bed. He comes down, gets another hug and is fine for the rest of the evening.
Woo (looking at his plate): Do you know what this meal reminds me of? 
Me: What? 
Woo: Having a baby.
Immediately after having Penelope, several kind neighbors brought over meals and I think every single one of them brought a giant batch of chicken enchiladas. We haven't eaten them much since.


38 -- Kids finish eating and put dishes in the sink. I put leftovers in the fridge.

39 -- Family Home Evening. We recently switched FHE to Sunday evenings, but after 4 sessions of conference we figured the kids were ready to get outside for a bike ride. We make up for it today with a General Conference quiz. The kids are not good at knowing who said what, but if we start a story someone told and ask where it's going, the oldest three all know and sometimes Linus.

40 -- We all go outside. Woo plays monster, swings kids around and plays soccer shootout. I sit on the porch with either Penelope or Moses or Archie depending on who's scared or hurt (feelings or otherwise).

41 -- Family scripture time.

We start with a hymn. We used to go through the hymn book in order and sing every hymn we knew, but Woo recently put his foot down. He made a list of the "good" hymns. It leaves all those painful and tuneless ones off, and for the most part I agree with the ones he's chosen. "Now Let Us Rejoice" is the only one we've disagreed on so far. (I love it.)

Woo gives Archie a second chance at a prayer and he does a better job.

We read ten verses. I supervise three kids (Herbie, Moses and Linus) in the reading (or repeating) of the first five, Woo takes the second five with Ruby, Penelope and Archie. We briefly discuss what we've read.

Then we all pray. Each of us says a prayer. Woo started this back when we only had two little kids who both wanted to pray every single chance they got, and it's just grown from there.

Recently, my family prayers have included a short section on each kid and Woo where I'm thankful for one or two good things they did that day. The kids love it and it helps grouchy kids head up to bed feeling better about themselves and their day.

We sing another song. It's Penelope's turn to pick and she picks "I'm a Child of God"-- her favorite.

42 -- Hugs, then kids leave to brush teeth and get ready for bed. I brush Penelope and Archie's teeth and put a diaper on Archie.

43 -- Woo and I go upstairs to settle everyone down and give hugs and kisses good night. Five days a week I also have a story night here (Archie doesn't start until he's 4), but tonight I'm off.

44 -- I take a few moments to write down blessings from the day in my notes. I check my email.

45 -- I read random scriptures or conference talks to wind down. (Yes, I read a lot of scriptures, but I'll tell you what ... I receive guidance and answers to my questions every day.)

46 -- My time. This rotates for me depending on the day of the week. Sunday I write my email and hang out with Woo. Tuesday-Thursday I work on my story. Friday night is date night (with Woo, duh), and Saturday I go to the temple or work on my lesson for Young Womens. On Mondays I do family history work.

Woo and I lie on the bed with our laptops. There's a few interruptions where he frees up my hard drive or I log him into the kids' 529 accounts, but mostly I decipher the Czech and old-fashioned Kurrent script of a register written by an 18th century priest in Citov, Bohemia. Isn't the internet wonderful?

Last month, I took my first four names to the temple and tonight I find the birthdate and father (haven't confirmed the mother's name yet) of Rosalie Profousov. I reserve all her temple work except sealings.

47 -- Shower.

48 -- I watch Woo thread a cord from his office, through the bathroom, into the bedroom, hang it over the bedroom door and plug it into a laptop. Hopefully, I don't clothes line myself on that in the morning.

10:30 pm -- Bed.

Looking back, I'd say this was a very typical day for me at this point in my life. Where will I be in the next five? Substituting laundry for shuttling? Hope you all had a great week!