We Storm the School

This is the year I've had in my sights--the year I have 5 kids in elementary school. It's also the best week of the school year. Everyday is an early out day and the kids are home at 2--plenty of time to play and unwind and do whatever needs to be done for school.

Ruby is paying much more attention to her hair and clothes this year. I think she might even be in style (But what do I know anymore? :). We also, by some miracle, got a few pictures of her with a real smile. And then she probably punched us immediately afterwards. Or tried to.

Herbie was the only kid who wanted to go on a mountain bike ride after school. Moses and Ruby wanted to do their homework instead. It took about 5 minutes and they missed out on the cool caterpillar and time with Dad.

Moses has made many attempts at combing his hair in the past week. I have to assume he's going to get better from the only line in anyone's back-to-school Father's Blessing that made me giggle: I bless you to continue to be handsome and good-looking. And that you won't let it go to your head.

Moses: Who made up our last name? 
Blank looks. Um...
Moses: Was it Cain or Abel?
I guess those are the two most likely options...

Linus proudly told me he ate all his lunch the first day back, but a couple days later he told me he didn't like lunch because he ate too slow. He was excited to be only taking half a bagel and half an apple. Hopefully, I don't get any calls from the school like I did when Herbie was in 1st grade, complaining about insufficient lunches.

I took Penelope and Archie shopping for school supplies the first day back (Penelope starts next week).

They sang a duet on the drive. (Go ahead and make up your own tune. They did.)
Nellpea: The flowers are pretty. And the sky is blue. Jesus made the sky.
Archie: And the cement exploded in the fire. And the jet crashed inside the house. 
They ended with a finale of:
Nellpea: Come on. Come on. Come on, jet.
Archie: Helicopter.  Helicopter.  Helicopter.  Helicopter.  Helicopter.  Helicopter.
Penelope has afternoon kindergarten (something I've been praying for so Penelope and Archie could still play mornings). She had her kindergarten assessment this week, and had the most successful showing of any of our kids so far. She answered every question correctly and counted to 100--even after interruptions from other teachers. I remember Herbie paused at 56 and his teacher said, "Okay, that's good."

I'm happy considering I wasn't even sure she knew all her letters, and we do nothing to prepare kids for kindergarten (other than the counterintuitive things I wholeheartedly believe are the best preparation).

Archie took our leaving pretty calmly. He knows he's going to be spending half the day without any other kids. Woo did take him to the park for a Daddy Day, but apparently right before Nellpea and I snuck up on them at the park after our return, he'd sat by Woo and said, "Let's go home. I miss Mom."

Woo started something new at work where he's using AI to help him catalog photos. It makes him laugh occasionally and he's stayed up late a few nights because, "This is fun!" Much more fun than sleep.

Once again, Costco is selling those gigantic stuffed teddy bears that we're incredibly lucky only 2 of our kids have seen.
Woo: I'm telling you, nothing tells a kid you love them like one of those bears.
I'd hug them and the bears.
Last year he said, "What is it about those bears that makes you feel like you're a bad parent if you don't buy one?" And then we laughed at the thought of stuffing six of them in our car, and where we would put them in the house (we'd have to get rid of the kids' beds.) Anyways, we're under no illusions as to the kind of parents we are. We didn't buy one.

But Woo is tempted, sorely tempted. I think it's just my complaint of "NO SPACE!" that's stopping him.

I spent two mornings sifting through all the kids stuff upstairs and dejunking. Apparently, our last crib mattress makes a great punching bag (until it fits in the currently full garbage can).

And we snuck in a visit with Grandma and Bruce at Discovery Park.

Hope your week was great!


Extra Pictures

Uinta for One, Uinta for All

Woo threw in a surprise, last minute trip to the Uintas before school starts. And that's when I realized my no-toil-nor-labor-fear testimony from the week before was actually just for me (Okay, let's be honest. They've all been for me.)

Of course, Christine dropped everything and joined us. If it hadn't been for her last experience, I'd have said she'd walk through fire to get to the Uintas.

Every time we go, we learn a few things to make our trip easier. I was luckily armed with Lyndy's cookie s'mores idea, which made serving s'mores to a giant bunch of impatient kids 2,000% easier and 300% tastier. (I also bought some more exotic cookies I thought would be fun to try, but somehow those got eaten long before any marshmallows were ever roasted.)

And when I saw Christine pull out her paper bowls which she immediately burned after meals I thought: Why have I ever packed in dishes that I also have to wash? WHY???

Ruby was still sick when we left, but she was a trooper, hauling her load in without complaint. She did complain of a headache when we got there, and had to lie down in the tent as soon as we got it up. But after about 1/2 hour, she was out again and fine for the rest of the stay.

Oh yeah, and Ruby and I had an accidental latrine encounter, which Ruby thought was hilarious, because maybe it was. But the best thing she said was several minutes later after sitting in silence when she asked, "Mom, did you ever see your mom's bum?"

Herbie was the only kid who wanted to hike up the rock mountain next to our camp (everyone else was busy playing Rangers Apprentice), and he was rewarded with a bunch of pictures and unhampered time alone with adults.

Moses caught this little frog I found on the way to Mohawk. There were actually two, but Moses was the only kid who caught one. He attributed it to his quick snake-catching skills, which impressed his cousin Isaac when he heard: You catch snakes?! Moses (reddening and looking away): Yeah.

He wanted to keep it as a pet, but we had him release it.

Linus was the crankiest kid there. He had a giant meltdown the second afternoon. I can't remember what for, or how it was resolved. The first evening fishing was really windy and he hooked himself while casting about 17 times. Luckily, 15 of those were into his thick jacket and 1 was into his pants. Only 1 got him in the finger.

Nellpea sat right down in the smoke coming off the fire and started to complain about it.
Moses: It's because you're a girl--smoke follows beauty, Nellpea.
Nellpea (not flattered at all): I'm NOT pretty right now! Because I'm wearing NOT a dress!

While packing up to go, I passed Archie kneeling in the dirt, his arms folded. He was praying to find his hat. We looked for a few minutes, but it was Archie's hat--it could've been anywhere, he couldn't remember anything about where he'd lost it. We hiked home (hitting rain and sleet about halfway through and downpour by the end), drove home, unpacked, put kids to bed, slept, woke up, etc. Woo walked out the door, on his way to work, and called out my name. There was Archie's hat, lying on the grass.

Woo slept poorly the first night, waking up every hour. He woke up early our first morning and took Herbie, Moses and Linus fishing. Woo caught one fish while they were there, and it was the only fish anyone caught the whole trip. Which was a good thing because somehow no one had packed tinfoil. Woo resorted to roasting it over the fire with a stick. We didn't get a picture (too dark), but he was pretty proud of his survival skills.

I seem to have discovered the secret to sleeping well while camping, for me at least. I just have to sleep on my belly. It's padded enough and comfortable enough that I don't notice what's under me. It was all that side-sleeping I'd started during pregnancy that was making me miserable in a tent.

Well, that's it. Hope everyone has a good start to school (if you're going)!


Boogers, Swords and Underpants

I was woken one night by Archie screaming my name. I jumped out of bed, through the living room, up the stairs, and to his room. I placed my hand on his back, but he wasn't awake. It's then that I realized I'd gone through all that for a whistle booger of Woo's that sounded a lot like Archie screaming "Mom!" from a distance.

The front screen door has been Archie's nemesis all summer. The handle's just a little too high for him, and he has to get someone else to open it for him. I remember one time watching him run after all the older kids, who were running through the front door. It slammed shut before he could get there, and he dissolved into tears, because now he was separated from them forever, trapped outside.

But not anymore. He opened the door himself this week. He was very excited, calling each of us to come watch him, bouncing around the living room and saying things like, "Now I can be a dad!"

Oh also, this giant sword... it's Archie's. He'd sleep with it if he could. He threw in the tub for his bath before I could get there, and he calls it his "Lamanite sword!"

Linus asked me something--I can't remember what--but it led to me telling him how babies are made. His immediate reaction was a look of disbelief, followed by a "that's DISgusting!!" Then he spent the next hour, at least, thinking about the mechanics and kept coming back to me with some pretty hilarious questions that I'm not going to write here, but all showing that his mind was trying to figure out how he could still make a baby, but in the least disgusting way possible.

Archie took his little stool apart. I handed it to Ruby to puzzle back together and then got the wood glue. Linus was super excited for the glue, he even pulled on a rag t-shirt and sat carefully at the outside table in anticipation. But the glue bottle was all clogged up and we were on our way out the door, so I put it away and said we'd do it another day. Linus threw a tantrum with a lot of yelling and stomping up and down. I left him outside, but after a while he threw open the back door to yell, "WE DIDN'T EVEN SAY A PRAYER!" Before slamming the door and stomping off. When that didn't move me, he ran and took apart the stool again so he could say a prayer and glue it, but we still had to leave, so he hasn't gotten to pray over his wood glue yet.

Here's Linus helping Archie during morning scriptures by reading the sacrament prayers and having Archie repeat after him.

Ruby was getting over her cold, but then she was invited to a birthday party in town. Since we were down there, we spent the day running errands. It was a long day, and when it was over she was back to square one. So here we are today... Ruby's getting over her cold...

While we were in town Herbie got a new (to him) bike that he is very excited about (well, it is red--seemingly the most important attribute to him). He's spent the last day or so with the tools, placing the water bottle holder where he wants it, trying to work on the front tire, etc. The day we ran errands, everyone wanted dinner about ten minutes before we got home (always a stressful situation for me), but Herbie was awesome to help with the burgers on the grill and the other kids shucked the corn, and we were good to go.

Herbie was giving me a rough time the evening Woo was down to work. I said something about the way he treats his mother and sisters is an indicator of how he'll treat his wife, but I said it in such a way that it made all the kids laugh. Herbie immediately lost his attitude, but Moses, boy, I think he told me he loved me every 10 minutes the next day and gave me about a million hugs.

Herbie found us a few blueberries!

Moses was super emotional, sensitive, easily irritated, etc. I took him aside to tell him something was wrong; I didn't think he was getting enough sleep, but I asked him to pray for a solution so he could feel better and left him alone in his room. He came out about 10 seconds later to tell me he knew what it was. He had stolen something from Woo's office and was playing with it at night. He gave it back, got some hugs, told Woo he was sorry, and went upstairs to help a frustrated Penelope clean her room.

Penelope has done a lot of baby talking lately. I think part of it is her dealing with the excitement of going to kindergarten. She also lost tooth number two and acquired a new leopard print vest, which is also pink and also sparkly and also fuzzy. Pretty much a dream come true.

Woo has been trying to ride his bike everyday recently. As always, when you're trying to get back in shape the universe is against it. His seat broke on one bike, so he switched to another, but now he's super saddle sore with additional pains. The last ride (Friday) was one of the worst he's ever been on, something about eating a ton of salsa and fruit and not getting enough sleep and feeling incredibly sick and gross the whole ride.

Oh and then, I placed a tray of watermelon on the bed for him to eat while he worked, and he forgot about it and rolled over in it.

Hope you enjoy your last week(s) of summer!