Monday, June 30, 2014

The Queen of the Crab Walk

1. Not surprisingly, I am not one of the strongest people at my crossfit gym. In fact, I am pretty used to coming pretty close to last/weakest/slowest on a regular basis there. I'm okay with it. All I really want is to go and get a good workout and feel like I'm making a little progress towards being strong and active for the foreseeable future.

But today....TODAY!

Today we did 6 solid minutes of crab walk and I discovered that I have a hidden talent for walking backwards on my hands and feet. I must have done more crab walk soccer in elementary school than I remember. I schooled those muscly individuals for the first time! And most likely for the last time, as well.

2. I didn't get a shower until 6 pm, but I did get the garage cleaned out, power washed the carport, power washed the slime trail from the sump pump runoff, cleaned out the pantry in search of the source of the never ending supply of fruit flies in the kitchen....and dozens of other little thingies that contributed to my powerful 6 pm stench.

3. With the purchase of the new van, has come the new budget. As one might imagine with a family of 8, the grocery bill is often the culprit of overspending. So in an effort to stick to my new budget, we decided that we wouldn't run in to get more butter and instead shook up our pint of heavy whipping cream to make enough butter to add to our mashed potatoes and butter our morning toast until our next grocery day.  As we took turns shaking up that cream, I had to laugh about the weird stuff we find ourselves doing during the course of the day.

4. While I was cooking dinner, I realized that Anna was sitting at the kitchen desk having a little conversation with herself and so I started listening in. I casually took a picture when I walked by. She often builds little families out of pencils or markers and, if left to herself for awhile, can come up with great sweeping dramas.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

PVC Perfection

Last year we made the giant slip n slide in the this year we decided to go for a SPRINKLER EXTRAORDINAIRE!

Just a few bucks worth of PVC pipe, a drill and a Pinterest tutorial (click here) and we were having good times!

The kids pulled it out the road and drove their bikes through it for the entire afternoon. I love it!

And as all good summer activities do, we wrapped it up with frozen sugar water.

A copy

A copy of my talk.....

Finding Spiritual Protection to be able to Endure

In his talk in the October General Conference, Elder Cook spoke about the prophet Jeremiah and his prophetic mission. Jeremiah was given the task of warning the people of Jerusulem about their impending destruction and imminent bondage.

Elder Cook said,

During the years before the destruction of Jerusalem,5 the messages the Lord gave to Jeremiah are haunting. He said:
“My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. …
“… They have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed … out … broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”6
Speaking of the calamities to come upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Lord lamented, “[For them] the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and [they] are not saved.”7
How sad that these people had failed to take full advantage of their lives. They had given over their spiritual freedom for things that had no value.

When I read this, I thought to myself. “I’m so glad my summer isn’t past! I’m so relieved that I still have time to harvest!”

We know from the scriptures that our time on earth is given to us to work out our salvation. We are given this very small mortal window to learn and to make our choices.
So….how do I learn to make choices that will allow me to preserve my spiritual freedom?

I tell you, sometimes I don’t know.

I do know that when I get confused and when there are voices all around me that clamor for my attention and I start to feel like I’m not sure who is speaking the truth, I am learning to turn always to the source of life and love.

I am learning to take a step back and refocus on the Savior.

Unlike the people of Jerusalem that did not listen to Jeremiah, Jesus sacrificed all other things in order to maintain his spiritual freedom. His consistently righteous choices allowed him to maintain absolute power over his ability to choose. His example is the one I want to follow. His life is the one I want to pattern mine after.

As I face my own choices I must ask myself…

“What did he say about how I should treat people?”

“What did he do when those around him had ideas that differed from his?”

“How did he treat those that did not live his teachings?”

“How did he find the strength to move forward in the face of frightening circumstances?”

“What did he say about love? And forgiveness? And compassion for others?”

When I search the scriptures for answers to these questions, I find:

Ephesians 4:32

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

John 15;12  12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

And then again in John 13;34-35
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
BY THIS!! It is by our love for others that those around us should hopefully be able to identify us as followers of Christ.
Because Jesus did these things, I too will
1) Offer my help and support
2)Listen and try to understand the feelings and circumstances of another
3)Share the truths of the gospel that have brought me clarity or peace
4)Offer prayers on their behalf
6)Be kind
7)Allow others to  change
8)Recognize when it is time for me to change
I am grateful for the scriptures and that we have some account of the Savior’s life. I am thankful to have a that place to look for guidance in my choices.

Another way I find spiritual protection is by remembering the times in my life when I felt the most sure of the Lord’s love for me and when I clearly recognized His had in the details of my life. These experiences have given me an anchor to hold on to when I am going through more uncertain or difficult times.

  • Psalms 77:11

  • 11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old
Deuteronomy 4:9 “Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life.”3
I’d like to share one of these times with you….
In February of 2007, my Dad was in the final stages of Early Onset Alzheimer’s. He was no longer able to speak or care for himself. He did not remember my mother or any of us kids. He was failing quickly and when my mom called me to tell me that he would probably pass away in the next day or two, I put a little Megan in her car seat and drove to Utah as quickly as I could, hoping to be able to say goodbye to my father. While I was driving across the country, my 6 siblings were making there way from as far away as Japan. We all arrived expecting to have a few moments with our father, most likely not aware that we were there even awake to see us. Instead, he opened his eyes and he seemed to wake up. For 3 days, he was able to walk and listen and most amazingly, he knew us. Each one of us had the opportunity to spend time alone with him. While my mother slept, I was able to feed him his lunch and then go on a short walk around the block with him. I told him all the things that I wanted him to know. I told him how thankful I was for the love that he gave me and that he was a great father. He stopped and put his hand on my face and he told me that he loved me too. He knew who I was and I was able to have that moment with him to remember.  Over the course of that 3 days, each one of my sibling was able to have a similar experience and soon we all left and returned to our homes.  As I drove back to Arkansas with my baby girl. I felt the Spirit so strongly and I knew that all of that was a gift from my Father in Heaven. He made it possible for us all to gather around our dad and communicate our love for him and feel his love for us. I will never forget such a merciful and kind thing was done for me and my family.
John 14:26
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”5

This is one of several experiences I turn to when I am feeling like a need a little lift or when I am going through less certain times.

But just like I can no longer depend upon my parents to feed and clothe me, walk side by side with me steer me through the path of my life, I cannot forever depend solely upon past memories of the Spirit to sustain me through the ever-increasing hardships of the future. I must build new memories. I must provide my present and future self with the strengthening experiences that give me confidence and faith in the love of my Heavenly Father.  And the love of my Brother for me.

How can I do this?

As I follow the example of the Savior when I am making my daily decisions, I am simultaneously building the memories that will help me to endure in the future. All that remains is to be aware and recognize the presence of the Divine in the minutia of the day.

Elder Eyring’s talk “O Remember, Remember”

When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. Let me tell you how that got started. I came home late from a Church assignment. It was after dark. My father-in-law, who lived near us, surprised me as I walked toward the front door of my house. He was carrying a load of pipes over his shoulder, walking very fast and dressed in his work clothes. I knew that he had been building a system to pump water from a stream below us up to our property.
He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”
I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christalways do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.

“I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.

”More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.”

When I was young, I was a journal keeper. I wrote all the way through my high school and college years, through my mission and into the first couple years of marriage. Now I keep a blog about our family and the little things we experience on a daily basis. I believe that what Elder Eyring says is true. I can see the the Lord in our lives when I take the time to notice Him there. I can also see that he is guiding us along bit by bit and as I look back over the years, I see that he is showing us He loves us and also showing us the way back to him.

Close with my testimony of the Savior.

The talk

1.I spoke in sacrament today. I was given a subject that really resonated with the things that have been rattling around in my brain lately, but then I was given a "reference talk" from the last General Conference that I just really didn't relate to. I knew what it was about and I didn't necessarily have any issues with the talk, I just didn't feel any connection to it at all. So that made me a little nervous. I, like most people, get a little nervous talking in front of people...and the only way I can usually do it is if I care about what I'm saying. So, I used a quote from the given talk and then I kind of went in the way my heart was pointing me. And to be totally fair, the bishopric member that gave me the assignment said to do exactly that. Which is pretty great.

2. My stomach was rumbling while I was sitting up there and it felt excessively loud. I kept thinking it would get picked up by the microphone.

3. The youth speaker in front of me finisher her talk with, "I'd like to bear my testimony that I know this church is through....I MEAN...true!"  Kind of funny.

4. Is there any better feeling than to sit down from speaking and know that you are DONE? It's pretty great.

5. Everly watched her first movie tonight. She actually laid down by me and watched it and laughed at the jokes and danced with the singing parts. It was pretty phenomenal. And it made me feel like we are turning a corner on my ability to participate and ENJOY family movie nights. WAHOO!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Master Builders

For the last several nights, Ethan and I have been working on the Ultimate Pirate Lego ship. I love that he wanted to do this with me. He made the main body and the wings and the cannon and the shields and the anchor and the captain and the crew. So...mostly everything. But he didn't bat an eye when I suggested a helicopter propeller and and back up captain with self-destruct button and hot-chocolate lever... which pretty accurately represents the day to day of raising a teenager.

I love this kid and when we aren't fighting, we really get along.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer bucket list: Bleach print shirts

Last year we did the crayon iron transfer shirts, and this year we decided on bleach prints. It was pretty simple and I LOVED the way they turned out. Although these were pretty much all me. Not a lot for the kids to do, so next year we'll try something a little more kid friendly. 

Each kiddo chose a silhouette off the computer then we pasted it to contact paper and cut out the image. 

We stuck the surrounding framework onto the shirt, sprayed a little bleach on the image area and sat them in the sun for 10 to 20 minutes. 

Ethan's was very cool and had a flame effect that only enhanced the manliness of his dragon.
Somehow I convinced him not to do double swords on the front of the shirt. Less is more, young Grasshoppah, less is more.

Mathew chose a ninja from his coding academy website. The coding ninja turned out very crisp and cool.

Laney's horse was all that she wished for!!!

Anna and Megan's flopped because I go nervous and gave theirs an extra spray of bleach. The bleach bled under the contact paper and made their's look like a blob-stallion and blob-dog.

We will try again!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Off the beaten path

We decided to go out to the Overland Park Arboretum today because...

Tuesdays are free.

Also, it is hot, but not as hot as it's going to be very, very soon. If we are going to check this sucker off our Summer Bucket List, we need to get 'er done. Today. 

(To be perfectly truthful, we didn't put this on the Summer Bucket list. But, I did leave about a foot and a half of space on the bottom so that when we do unplanned fun things, I can add it to the bottom and then check it off. Because that is the way my brain works. I need to have checklist credit!)

We called the McCauleys and we headed out there. 

We walked around the pond and saw the coy fish and then headed out toward the bird blind. Unfortunately, there were  wasps in the hut and the kids refused to go in. So, we headed out on the Bluff Loop Trail. The kids were having fun looking for hiking sticks and picking up some of the hundreds of snails sliming across the path. 

Soon we came upon a spot where the kids could repel down to a stream bed and skip rocks in a shallow riverbed.

Which of course turned into wading up the ankles...

And then the knees...

Which led to Mathew sinking into a mudding bank and losing a shoe.  Which I thought they would find pretty quickly on their own as I watch from up on the trail. Which didn't happen, so I found myself up to my knees in mud as well. 

We could not find that dang shoe!
Finally, Mathew and Ethan put their head together and said a prayer for help. I always worry that we won't find it and their faith will be dented. But, as usual, they found the shoe within minutes and I was reminded that I need to have more faith

I love those boys.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Out with the old....

1. We grew out of our car on January 14th, 2013. For almost 18 months we have been taking two cars whenever the entire family is going to the same place.  Admittedly, this only happens on Sundays and whenever we decide to go for ice cream. No biggie...

But then there are those trips to Arkansas and we started to feel a little ridiculous pulling up in two cars.

Then we realized that we would be driving separately down to Florida for our family vacation.

Good grief.

So after a brief consideration of renting a large enough vehicle so as to drive down together, we realized it was time to face the facts. WE NEED A CAR WITH 8 seats.

2. Goodbye Town and Country.

I will miss your fold down seats, your secret bins in the floor and your seat warmer that kept my buns warm in the winter.

I will miss that I knew that even after you claimed I had "zero" miles left till I was out of gas, I knew I really had 40 more to go till I was stranded on the side of the freeway.  Thanks, John Stossel.

I will not miss the weird smell that you acquired fair and square after hauling 6 kids everywhere with their tendency to stash unwanted food items in your pockets, cracks and crevices. It wasn't was them.

I will also not miss the your most recent habit of sending me constant reminders to "Service Tire System Soon"....yeah, well, I serviced the tire system and it cost me 100 bucks to be told that it would cost me 1000 bucks to get you to stop telling me to "Service Tire System Soon". Thanks for that.

And while we're on the subject, thanks a million for scratching my arm every time I got out of the car and too close to the loose, razor sharp Chrysler logo, jutting threateningly off the driver's side door.

Won't miss that.

3. Hello, Sienna!

We don't know each other yet. I don't know how to work anything but the gas, brake and steering wheel, but I think if I spend a little quality time with the instruction manual, I will get the hang of it all.

At the very least, I think I can find the windshield wipers and turn signal.

But honestly, even if I never manage to make a single phone call from the van or ever effectively use the GPS system....there are 8 seatbelts in that baby and that means that next time we go on a trip together, I get to sleep part of the way!!!

4. The kids love it. They love the room and the gadgets and the new car smell.

5. I love that I have approximately 3 weeks before I start wondering why there are fruit flies in my car.

Saved it!

Summer Bucket List #11:  Create a giant mud hole in the center of the lawn


Ethan can shoot the little girls under his legs.

So glad we saved the tarp from last year

Mathew brought me a lovely lunch.

Of beets, milk and 4 apricot fruit strips.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Mathew turns 11

For the first time in his young life, Mathew did not pick spaghetti and meatballs for his dinner.

M'boy is growing up!

And he requested pot roast with mashed potatoes and homemade rolls.

It seems a little dumb to me now, but I was trying to make an 11 out of two of the candles. It's a little hard to tell...seeing as they look exactly like all the other candles.

He asked for a funfetti cake, and he got a red, white and bluefetti cake. I know how you feel, Mat. My birthday is the day before Valentines. I got a lot of pink and red stuff. You are destined to have patriotic themed party favors from time to time.

Here he starts his method of blowing out the candles one by one. I personally appreciate the rubber frog being so attentive and Laney's ability to curl her tongue like that.

And this is the precise moment that he accidentally gets a little to close to a recently blown-out candle and gets a second degree burn on his chin. Ouchie.

Laney waits with a patiently curled tongue while Mark goes to see if Mathew can overcome the chin burn and blow out the last candle. 

He finds the strength!

And he is rewarded with very mysterious presents.

Notice the frosting blob Mathew has applied to the burn?

An eventful birthday all around. 

Happy Birthday, Mr. Mat.

I love you. Chin blister and all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A week

1. I tell you what.
That felt like a pretty long week. If I had to rate it, I might put it on my top ten of longest weeks to date.
Welllll....I wasn't HORrible. Maybe I'd put at number 13.  Everyday I dropped off the boys at Cub Camp at 8 am and picked them up at 4 pm.  While they were gone, we ladies would cram in crossfit, grocery shopping, ninja training, bead dolls, more bead dolls, more crossfit, making bread, pita, jam and banana muffins, sanding and re-staining the new kid table/chairs, mowing the lawn and making stepping stones a la PInterest.

Maybe I'll bump it up to 11.

2. I was mowing the lawn on Monday night (even though I knew I really should have been having FHE with my family) and when I turned the lawn mower around at the end of a stripe, I pulled a muscle in my lower back.  It made me feel old.

And I had to skip my class which then made me feel like I wanted to skip even more classes....not a good trend. So I made myself go in today and it was a beast, but I left feeling much looser and also pretty proud of myself. Which is one of the main reasons I go. I am excited to dust off that part of me that does hard things and faces fear of pain or physical exertion. (not counting giving birth to babies)....(wait...yes...let's count giving birth to babies.)

3. Weirdly enough, I am really digging these little bead dolls. They are fun to make. My kids lost interest awhile ago and I'm still creating little people and animals. I find it strangely therapeutic.

4. alsksssssssssssssccc

Ha! Fell asleep writing this post. Maybe it really was a long week.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day (to me)

1. Just kidding! Of course, Father's Day is for the fathers. But the fact is, I got to lay in my bed this morning and read my book for, like, and hour and a half. Now. I don't care what anybody says....that made me feel like the queen of the good things were comin my it was Maren's Day.

2. Mark arrived home from his trip to Arkansas at about 11 am. You would be amazed what can be done in the space of an hour when you have 6 kids (4 of them fairly capable of actually helping) and a GPS tracker on your husbands phone. Ethan cleared the countertops, Megan cleared the table and then started in on a Father's Day banner made from the never-ending roll of pink paper I got for free at the church about 8 years ago, Mathew tackled the living room and I got the Pork Barbacoa in the crockpot. From time to time I would check Mark's GPS whereabouts and call out, "WE'VE GOT 13 MINUTES! HURRY!!!"

At 11 he walked into a pretty clean house (ie. lower floor), dinner in the crockpot, a child in time out, and the rest of us out of breath. If I'd had just 10 more minutes, I would have changed out of my pajamas and possibly even put on some deodorant.  Ah well, one can't have everything. It's not Christmas, you know.

3. We were only 6 minutes late to church today. That's progress, folks.

4. The pork barbacoa was delicious. It's hard not to go overboard and make myself so full I'm physically ill. I had two of my own, made up another half in Everly's leftover tortilla cast off and threw my pride aside and ate Anna's old cold one right off her plate while I was rinsing the dishes.


5. Mark was the man of the hour and, as usual, has a way of making everyone smile when he is opening his cards. It's one of the things I love about him.

I can see him trying not to hulk out...he has a bit of claustrophobia.

Also. I think he is pretty darn cute.

Happy Father's Day, Mark. You definitely earned it!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Half Price Shakes

1. It was one of those days where you look at the clock and it's 1:30 in the afternoon and you realize that not only have you failed to feed your children the first two meals of the day, you still haven't put on a bra or brushed your teeth. On the bright side, I'm in the middle of a great book, "The Invention of Wings". This may or may not be the cause of my slackerness.

When left to "do their own thing"...markers are always involved. 
The hearth takes a beating, but it is nothing a magic eraser and a bath can't solve.

2. Maybe due to my earlier failure, I did actually make dinner tonight. Nothing fancy...just a little herb chicken, creamy garlic pasta and carrots with peas from the garden. But it's light-years beyond what we have had so far this week.....that would be: Monday: hot dogs, Tuesday: cornbread (really....just cornbread),
Wednesday: sub sandwiches, Thursday: hot dogs, and Friday:
cereal.  Not my best week of cooking ever. Also, not the last time that line up will make an appearance this summer. I'm a realist.

3. I am in love with the fact that all of my speaking children can quote 'Nacho Libre' extensively and seem to truly 'get' how hilarious that movie is. I must be doing something right.

"My life is gooood. Real gooood"

4. I have a pretty clean house right now because I bribed the kids with Sonic shakes (half price after 8 pm!)

5. Unfortunately, we took a 2 hour detour down Screaming-Sibling-Fight Avenue, took a left at Go-to-Your-Room Terrace, made a U-turn at You-Don't-Love-Me! Boulevard and got a moving violation for Don't-Call-Your-Sister-that-Name.

In the end, we talked it out, cried it out and worked it out. At 9:30, we decided what we need most for our healing process was to put it all behind us and go for the shakes. We had to wake up Laney (who had wisely given up and called it a night), and we managed to get all the way there and all the way back without any additional altercations.

Another winner of a day at the Hufford Hacienda.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ethan at 13

Ethan is getting tall.

He is officially 5'3'' and he is praying for one more inch.  I am 5' 4'' on a good day.

He is 13. A teenager. An aficionado of the eyeroll.

He plays the trumpet and he's pretty darn good. But he has no desires to join a jazz band or perform at the Solo and Ensemble Festival. He doesn't gravitate toward the limelight.

He has a knack for building things...zoob creations, 18th century ships out of cardboard, sewing thread and wooden skewers, highly detailed lego sculptures, cardboard Roman armor.

He is a gifted artist. He specializes in dragons and guys that fly on dragons. He can draw just about anything and it's pretty fun to watch. While he sketches, I keep thinking, "Where did he learn to do that?" It was just in him.

He is such a great brother...that's not to say he doesn't tease and pick on his siblings....but when he isn't, he really knows how to talk to the little ones and I get a glimpse of what he will be like as a father.

His favorite color is blue.

He loves shepherd's pie and cantaloupe and BLT's.

He loves a lot of shepherd's pie, an entire cantaloupe, and 2 BLT's with extra bacon. He definitely has turned the corner with his appetite. Don't even get me started on the amount of milk this boy can drink.

He knows how to apologize and he knows how to forgive. I think those to things are pretty big steps in successfully functioning in society.

During the last term of the school year, I finally resigned from my job as his Personal Assistant/Gopher/Homework Nagger. It was killing our relationship. He was put on notice that it was up to him to sink or swim. If he got all A's and B's, he would get a phone. If he failed a class, he would have to deal with the summer school, kicked off the track team, etc.  Well...he got a C in math, which disqualified him from getting a phone, but that kid got all A's in the rest of his classes and by dang! I was very proud of him! Truth be told, I was even proud of the C...because he earned that C on his own! I didn't have anything to do with it.

I do believe he is growing up.

Lake Olathe

1. I went to crossfit today despite the fact that I still feel like I got in a bar fight from Wednesdays class. I almost talked myself out of going, but honestly, I'm more afraid of returning from a long break than I am of whatever I will have to go through in any one session. I never again want to experience the soreness I went through those first couple of weeks.  So I showed. And the WOD was called "The Russ" in honor of Russ Christianson, who is a regular at the gym and is moving to Florida tomorrow morning.

The Russ:

400 meter run
25 pull ups
25 box jumps
25 toes to bar
400 meter run
50 double unders (100 singles)
50 wall balls
50 double unders (100 singles)
400 meter run
25 toes to bar
25 box jumps
25 pull ups
400 meter run

And if that isn't enough to make you want to strap the kiddies back in the van and head to the donut shop, when class was ready to start, it was just me and ....Russ. Yep.

Since Russ is a machine, I knew I was gonna be doing the last half of this WOD solo because he would complete it in about half my time. Luckily a couple ladies arrived late and saved me from the WOD of shame.

And yes...Russ completed it in 15 minutes and 10 seconds. I completed it in 26 minutes and 8 seconds. My only comfort is that 6 months ago it would have sent me to the hospital. :)

2. After a quick shower, we packed a lunch and spent the afternoon at Lake Olathe Beach.  It was a perfect day and the kids had the best time. They played until they didn't want to play no more.

Because we are who we are, we decided it would be best if we got our clothes wet and sandy before changing into swimwear. What's a trip to the beach without a pile of stinky, wet clothes languishing in the back of the van for a couple weeks?

Honestly, I really didn't care. It was fun to soak in the sun and let them be a total mess. We had food. We had towels, we had bathroom facilities, we had great company. It was wonderful.

We love hanging out with the Flynns.

3. We came home when everybody was sufficiently sun-baked and every possible crevice was sand encrusted. Everyone popped in the showers and tubs and we watched our Redbox movies.  'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' was a good one. I recommend.

4. We spent the rest of the evening covering the driveway in chalk masterpieces.

I think it was our best work to date.

5. We rounded out the day with cereal for dinner.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The thing about the firepit

I love firepits. I love the fancy ones made from landscaping stone (someday!). I love the ones you build with a couple rocks and a shovel, I love the 30 buck portable ones from Home Depot. 

Love it. 

Love everything about it!

Almost everything.

Mathew at 11

Mathew is turning 11 in under 2 weeks.

He has requested a replica of William Wallace's sword and a medieval shield for his birthday. And a digital camera (if that's not too much to ask)....and....maybe a shark's tooth necklace inlaid with mother of pearl?

You know....whatever.

He is a reader. And I mean, a READER. He devours books and he can read aloud with the best of them. Voices, inflection, enunciation...emotion even! He was born with it.

He is a watcher. I catch him watching me as I negotiate the parenting challenges that come my way and he seems to be taking my emotional temperature....ready to jump in and offer support in the form of a hug or a back rub. It's pretty great.

Many times I hear him organizing his siblings to say a big "Thank you, Mom!" in chorus.

His favorite color is clear. But he has a lot of blue stuff.

He loves to take baths. We can't seem to convince him to switch to showers despite the ick factor.

He started the tradition of asking each person, "How was your day? What was your favorite part?" around the table. He also loves games that involve naming as many foods as you can that start with each letter of the alphabet, or rhyming games or taking turns telling the person to your left one thing you love about them. He is the master of keeping dinner conversations going.

He loves video games.

He really truly madly deeply loves video games.

He has a natural ability with computers. He navigates easily and seems to know stuff that I don't....just the other day when I passed him my ipad so he could read a couple scripture verses during family scripture study, he quickly pulled up a little menu from the bottom of the screen and increased the display's brightness. I promise you I have been performing a 7 step process to do the same thing since....since I've owned the ipad. **head smack**

While cleaning out his room, I found 6 rotten bananas under his bed.

He plays the trombone.

His favorite meal is spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread. No canned corn, please.

He went to the library every chance he got to help the librarian re shelve books and help in any way he could. She was so appreciative that she sent him a letter and a gift card to Barnes and Noble.

He bears his testimony every single month and he does his best to get up there first.

He writes a comic called "One Crazy Pig"

He will join any and all clubs. Last year he was in Sunrunners, CSI Science club, Mathwings, BLAST, Special Chorus, SPLASH, and Band. He is mostly in it for the pizza parties at the end of the year.

If he accidentally finds one of my candy stashes, he will come tell me to move it because he doesn't trust himself.  Considering I have found many empty stashes in the last couple years, he's probably right.

He can quote movies with the best of them.

The other night we had a friendly game of Yahtzee after the other kids went to bed and he beat me...403 to 169.  Ouch.

He is a really fantastic person.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In utero

1. We started off the morning with a trip to the dentist for Laney. Which, frankly, sucks.
That girl can't catch a break in the teeth department. She grinds her teeth all night long, brushes and flosses faithfully and still ends up with at least 1 cavity every stinking time we go for checkups. I'm fairly certain the boys are lying to me about their brushing habits and they get off scott free. Not Laney. In fact, today she had one of her permanent molars drilled because, according to the dentist, there were some rogue cells trapped inside the tooth IN UTERO. You've got to be kidding me. This cavity got it's start before she did.

The only thing I can say is....I feel your pain, sugar. You inherited my mouth. And my hair.

I wish you inherited your freckles from me too, because they are so dang cute. I want those freckles. I hope someday you think about your teeth and your freckles and you consider it a reasonable trade off.

2. I only nursed Everly once today. It was brutal. I tried so hard to get her to go down for a nap in her crib instead of nursing to sleep by me in my bed. It took me about an hour and a half to admit defeat. Finally we just loaded up the car and drove downtown and she took her nap on the way.

This was during one of her quick breaks from screaming bloody murder...which made me feel like all that screaming was probably using up a lot of energy which caused me to seriously analyze the possibility that she might run out of energy and slip into a metabolic crisis which led me to actually consider the possibility that I may need to nurse her for the rest of her life. 

Tomorrow is another day.

3. After my face off with Everly, I was hoping to get out of my promise to take the kids to Science City and Kaleidoscope for the afternoon. It was already 2 pm when Ever and I called the cease fire and I was thinking they would see the wisdom in waiting to go another day so as to take full advantage of our time there.

I was wrong.

Here are the pictures to prove it.

Is there anything as cute as a baby laying on her tummy to color?
I think not.

4. Contrary to what is clearly stated on its website, Science City does not close at 9 pm. In fact, it closes at 5 pm...which was roughly 20 minutes after we arrived there. You will be proud of me when I tell you that for a couple seconds I considered freaking out on the attendant, but ultimately decided it would take too much time to lose my cool. That's 2 minutes on the freak out, 2 minutes on a dramatic storm-off, 3 minutes for the guilt to set in and 2 more minutes to humbly apologize to said attendant so as to not be a horrible example to my children. We opted to go get our science on for 20 whole minutes.

Which I am now thinking is about the perfect amount of time to spend at Science City.

Here we are approximately 5 feet inside the front door. 

5. I somehow convinced my kids to forgo our traditional stop off and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in the Crown Center to try out the bulk candy bins at the new HyVee.

They were skeptical and I told them that they should give it a chance. It will take me a long time to live that one down.

On the bright side, I did pick up some pretty tasty looking hamburger buns while we were there.