Thursday, July 31, 2014

It begins...

It's time to finish the basement. And so I will take photos of this castle because I know I will never get it put back together if I don't have a little help.

And just for fun....a few "before" photos: 

Mark's future guitar haven:

I plan on stealing a corner or two for my sewing table and instruments....

The future family room/media center:

Soon to be a food storage room!

And the best part....the under the stairs play room for the littles. Complete with small door and window.

***Photos provided by Mathew Photography Incorporated.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Power wash and front squats

1. Crossfit started with front squats today. My goodness, I really hate those. Part of the reason I keep going there and struggling though all the crazy things they have us do is that I really can't face what it feels like to "go back" after a long break. The first class after our Florida vacation nearly did me in. And then there was the next day, when all my leg muscles seized up and I actually forget how to walk like a normal person.

The front squats are killing me.

Also, here was the winner quote from the week...delivered by a fellow that is not a trainer, but likes to pretend he is one, therefore generally strolling about offering unsolicited advice. He walks by as I am doing (my favorite!) a front squat and says, "Don't look down at the ground."
Me: "Okay...where should I be looking?"
Him: "Look at Shannon. She's looking great. She ought to be inspiration for you."
Me: "You are an idiot."

Oh, how I wish I had said that last part out loud.

2. Everly is almost ready to forgive me for weaning her. Each day is getting a little better. Last night she only cried a little at about 2 and again at 5, but she didn't eat in the night and she seemed to be fine. So that was almost 10 hours of fasting. We can manage that.

She also laid down by me for the first time for a nap without screaming for milk. I think she is starting to forget...which simultaneously makes me want to do a backflip for joy and makes me incredibly sad.

Also, while I'm on the subject...I would just like to send it out there that I think it's really crappy that it hurts so much to stop nursing. Just when your baby needs more love and more physical reassurance, the very idea of someone coming close enough for a hug makes me do involuntary karate moves.

Combine that with tender stitches on my thumb and thigh muscles on fire and it doesn't make for a very snuggly mom.

3. We are power washing the fence so as to restain it.

It is taking forever.

4. Mathew and Ethan bartered for a late-night Harry Potter movie night after the girls went to bed. The deal was that they had to refrain from fighting all day. And the did! Until they didn't.....

Nothing like pelting your brother with pinecones and apples while he tries to power wash the fence, causing him to turn the power washer on the perpetrator, that one then tries to jump the fence, at which time the other one pushes him off, leading to  possible ER-worthy injuries....all while I look on in disbelief.

And still they were shocked that they lost their movie night. They begged and pleaded and whipped out every weapon in the kid arsenal.

Puppy dog eyes,
Promises to do better
"We'll make you an offer you can't refuse"
"Everyone deserves a second chance"
"We did so well all day!"
"We were just joking around!"
"We will super-clean the entire main floor."

No dice.
Tomorrow is another day. We shall see if they can pull it off. That means they will have to refrain from fighting during an hour alone while I do childcare at Crossfit, registration at 2 different schools and grocery shopping.

That's a tall order.

5. Tonight as I tried desperately to get Anna to fold her arms for bedtime prayers, she simply would not listen because she was too busy showing off her one-armed push ups while hanging out of her bed. I won't deny that they were pretty top notch.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Family Home Evening at it's finest

I looked out the window and what did I see?

Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!

Spring has brought me such a nice surprise....

Popcorn popping right before my eyes.

I can take an armful and make a treat...

A popcorn ball that would smell so sweet...

It wasn't really so...

But it seemed to me...

Popcorn popping on the apricot tree! YAY!!!!


How about.....

"Roll your hands, roll your hands,
as swifly, as swiftly, as swift can be..."

"Then fold your arms like me, like me,
Then fold your arms like me."

(As long as you are relatively quiet, we will accept a face-down version of folding your arms.)

Now, let's wrap this up and have the treat!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Weaning and Rejection

1. Mark is camping with the boys. Did you know that boy scouts are supposed to go camping EVERY SINGLE MONTH? It was news to me. And gives me yet another reason why I am so glad I'm a girl and will never (say it again, Sister!), never, ever be called as scoutmaster.

So we ladies are home alone tonight and that means that we forgot to eat dinner and we painted our toenails and we had an ice cream cone. Also, the house is pretty clean and the sheets are freshly washed.

2. I pressure washed the dyson filters. I am pretty excited about trying them out once they're dry.


Excited about vacuum filters.

Not joking.

3. I am attempting to wean Everly. It is so so so so hard. She is older than the other kids were and therefore is fully aware of how much she loves to nurse, where to find it, how to ask for it, and how to throw a monumental fit (or a heartbreaking cry) when she doesn't get it.  It doesn't help that I have trained her to only take naps or go to bed at night after nursing. Also, when I need to talk on the phone, or we forget to bring a snack and I'm worried that she has gone too long without food, or when we are watching a movie (at home or the theater), or when I just don't know what else to do.

You can see why this is going to be a tough week.

But I just put her to bed and I haven't nursed her since this morning.

THAT is a record.

It took her all of 30 seconds to fall asleep because she didn't take a nap...because I didn't nurse her.

Also a record.

4. I have promised Megan a game of Phase 10 after I get the other girls to sleep. I try very hard not to promise anyone anything, but this one should be fun. If I can stay awake, I enjoy having alone time with her. She has a quick sense of humor and she has the ability to beat me at the game.

5. I'd rather get beat than pretend to lose.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

There and back again.

In the past 24 hours I have:

1. Assisted one of my children with bathroom ...ahem...difficulties.

2. Saved a crawdad's life. He was left for dead by a lawn care fellow that didn't appreciate him hitching a ride in his truck. We took an emergency trip out to Heritage Lake.

3. Watched a lightning bug fly around my living room. Not surprisingly, he seemed fairly attracted to the big, glowy television.

4. Sliced my hand open on a broken glass. Headed to Urgent Care for 5 stitches. Other the the painful alcohol swab....a pretty peaceful way to spend an hour.

5. Came in a smashing 7 DOLLARS under budget for groceries!!! I was a price-matching beast.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bread and weather

1. I made bagels for the first time today. It was thrilling!

I never thought of making something like that, although it really isn't that hard. In fact besides the time factor, it's really pretty easy. You just have to have the time to participate in the process for a few hours. And now that Ever is becoming a little more independent, I have the time. Also, I'm trying to do what I can to keep the kids fed and me out of the grocery store until Thursday. As long as we don't run out of butter or flour, we should make it.

2. The weather is cool and lovely today. It' s 70 degrees and a heavenly breeze is blowing through the house. In days past, I would have thought to myself that God is changing the weather for me because he knows how high the electric bill is and want to help my budget out.

Maybe that's true....or maybe it's just a cool day. Either way, it's nice and I'm grateful.

3. The garden is in full swing. Carrots, beets, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, onions, and garlic all coming at the same time. I think there must be something spiritual about cultivating all of that life. It's such a deep-down satisfying feeling. It's a lot like the feeling I get from baking or certain aspects of parenting. It feels like creation. If this is even a part of what God feels like when He creates, I can see why we would want to be like Him and do what He does.

4. Laney is in that phase right before she starts reading with fluency. It's tough going. If she is in the mood, she reads pretty well. If she is tired or distracted, she refuses to try and claims not to be able to read even the simplest of words. I am trying to get her to read 3 books a day with me...two repeated from earlier reading and one new one. If we can just get to where she recognizes more words on sight, she will start cruisin through it.

5. I think I've read too many post-apocalyptic novels. As I'm enjoying the fantastic weather, I keep thinking to myself, "Wow. I am sure going to miss this when our ecosystem finally collapses and we are living underground in order to escape the radiation poisoning."

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Thinking about it

Spiritually speaking, I am searching.

Searching for that feeling of confidence in my belief system that I used to feel. 

Granted, I wasn't actually sure what I believed. Just that I really believed it.

And then I wasn't so sure. 

So now I find myself swimming a bit....trying to grab on to something, take a good hard look at it and figure out if it's solid. 

I read a lot. And I listen a lot. And then I mull it over.

Here are a few intriguing thoughts I've come across lately:

1. "Flunking Sainthood" by Jan Riess :  She quotes Rabbi Heschel in her book, speaking about the purpose of observing the Sabbath.

"He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil.  He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life.  He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand the the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man."

2. I am really loving that whole book. We think alike, Jana Reiss and I. So it's been a really good read. She tries to read and live a different spiritual practice each month and see what she gains from the experience. Interesting. And inspiring. Makes me feel like stepping back into a few spiritual practices of our own with more commitment. 

3. Today in sacrament meeting, Brother McCauley spoke about the burden of discipleship and something he said really made me think. He said that Judas' worst mistake wasn't betraying the Savior. It was that he failed to repent for it. Peter denied Jesus three times but went on to repent and become a pillar of strength and example of a true believer. What if Judas had repented too?  hmmm....

4. Another interesting thought from "Flunking Sainthood"...the relationship between repetitive housework and prayer. 

"Even though it's hard for me to see the spiritual value in menial household chores, there's something deeply Christian about them.  In a brilliant book about the theology of housekeeping, Margaret Kim Peterson says that it's precisely the never-ending nature of household tasks such as cooking that makes them "so akin to the providential work of God."  Every day , every person in the household needs to be fed -- again.  We feed them with the knowledge that tomorrow morning, they will wake up hungry and we'll have to repeat the whole cycle.
Peterson says that our constant round of housework and God's initial act of creation have something in common: both are about bringing order form chaos."

"Cooking is allegedly the perfect hand-occupant during times of prayer because of its repetitive nature; the fact that I've made corn chowder so many times before means that I know the recipe by heart and can focus instead on God."

5. Despite missing that feeling of solidarity from my childhood, I do feel stronger that ever before. Inch by inch I am discovering which teachings ring true to me and help me to feel closer to God. It is slow going, but I feel like it's worth doing. And at least I feel like the few things I have claimed for my own have been honestly won. I hope to find more. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Florida trip...driving home day 2

All good things must come to and end.

It helps when the end of that good thing is followed by two solid days in the car with kids who WANT TO GO HOME RIGHT NOW.

Kinda helps ya move on.

There are a few things I will miss about Florida/the hotel/vacationing:

1. How magical is it to go to lunch and come home to a clean room? So magical.
2. I will miss the hotel crib with special powers.
3. The INSANE water pressure in our shower. Honestly. It was like a power washer. Not even sure I needed soap.
4. Living in my swimming suit. I am so over my 2-shirt rut I am in. I need to get some t-shirts that don't require a Downeast Outfitters wonder tee underneath. Enough with the layers! It's freaking hot.
5. Even though I had to pay a dollar per load, I always love washing clothes in laundromats because I get to wash it all and dry it all at once.
6. I loved finding seashells with my kids. We were united in a common goal of finding little treasures together. I was surprised how much Ethan loved it and how good he was at it.
7. For the first time in my life, I forgot to put on makeup for several days in a row. What was the point? Why do my hair? I'm just going to go jump in the ocean anyway. Skip it!
8. Flip flops are so great.

And a few things I'm happy to leave behind:

1. My hair is not meant for the ultra humid climates. I have a perpetual fuzz halo.

2. I miss feeling hungry. Like....ever. Vacation eating is the worst. Especially with kids. If I never see another nugget, it will be too soon.

3. Kids fighting over whose turn it is to push the elevator buttons. Every single time.

4. I don't actually like sleeping on the ninth floor of anything. What if we were to have a natural disaster? A hurricane? A tsunami? That's a lot of kids to get down a lot of floors.

5. The sand...while silky fine and soft, was pretty hard to get off. It was absolutely positively everywhere. Even in the pretzels.

6. I won't miss wondering if any of my kids would be stung by a jellyfish or bit by a shark that day. Maybe stabbed by a sting ray?

7. I need a kitchen. And some ingredients. And silverware. And ice.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Florida trip...Drive home day 1

We woke up with the task of packing everything up and packing it all into the two shovels, 4 shell nets, a beach umbrella and 2 boogie boards. The second I opened my eyes I knew we were already we decided we better just go to the beach.

The June grass was gone! It was clear and gorgeous and the perfect beach day. Instead of leaving at 6 am (which we typically try to do) we decided to pack everything but a set of dry clothes and shampoo. We didn't have to check out until 11, so we got down to the beach by 7:30 and stayed until we absolutely couldn't stay any longer.

The waves were awesome!

The sky was overcast...which worked out nicely. We ran out of sunscreen yesterday.

There were dolphins playing about 100 feet from where we were swimming. Anna was the first to spot one and said quietly to herself, "huh. I just saw a dolphin." I wasn't even sure that she knew that dolphins really existed outside of jewelry and stuffed animals. When Laney finally saw one, the look on her face was one of those "this was totally worth it" moments.

We had a perfect morning.

Everly did what she does best...pile sand on her chunky little thigh.

Laney search for more shells and had a couple run-ins with the high tide. Besides the dolphin sighting, she was the most ready to head back to Kansas.

Mathew and I had fun game of Ocean Net Ball. If you fail to catch the ball, eventually it will come back to you on the waves. Very fun.

Megan got some good runs in on the boogie board.

Ethan was determined to catch a fish....and he finally did!

After many attempts at building a castle...promptly smashed by Everzilla...we realized we need to think bigger. We need a huge sea turtle.

Mark took all the pictures we wished we had taken all week, rode some waves and made the best seashell find of all. I even found a little sand dollar! 

It was the perfect ending.

And now we DRIVE.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Florida 4

1. The June grass didn't go away. We woke up to still-green water and I was bummed. I was feeling a little down and not really sure how to entertain 6 kids... some of them closer to teens and others closer to toddlers. Nobody wanted to go get in the water, so Mark planned out the day and we headed out. We had breakfast and then went to play mini-golf. The little kids only lasted about 5 holes before they started melting and Anna's cheeks were beet red. Mark and Ethan stuck it out and finished all 18 holes while I sat in the van with the other kids and the A/C. A bit of a  total bust...but a valiant effort.

This was the best photo I could get of all the kids. Just imagine what the rest were like!

2. Mark took the boys and went on the Sea Screamer. It was really fast speedboat that takes you up and down the coast line so you can see dolphins jumping in the wake. They said it was very cool. They saw the dolphins, blue crabs, had a water fight and got to drive the boat.

3. While the boys were gone, I took the girls out to a surf shop to get necklaces and souvenirs. The found many inexpensive sprarkly, dolphiny, shell encrusted things. We considered buying a big shell to put on the shelf, but we decided we would rather find a big jar to keep are rather large collection of little itty bitty shells.

4. We were all tired and hot so we went back to the rooms and we watched the History Channel while the kids watched a Disney show geared toward the 10-14 yr old demographic.

5. We walked over to Island Pizza for dinner and then back to get our swimsuits on. There was a "dive-in movie" at the pool at 8:00 pm and the kids were determined to see the whole thing. I was determined to spend as much time as possible in the hot tub. I definitely missed hot tubs during my 54 months of pregnancy.

It was our last night and we determined to make the most of it. We have had such a fun time together and we're so glad we came. Now to start saving for the next vacation....should only take us about 4 years!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Florida 3

1. Oh the schlepping! I have met my schlepping quota for the summer. The "June Grass" (green slimy algae) is still here today and so we packed up the kids and went down the coast a bit to St. Andrew's state park in search of clearer waters. We found refuge in a cove that was clear and shallow. It was perfect for swimming and the little ones loved it, but there were no waves and very few shells.

We lugged our bags to the shore, but Megan and Laney were griping about the smell of the sea grass and I was getting frustrated and Mark was feeling irritated and we were "this close" to ditching the whole thing and spending the day in the rooms watching cable. Then we ventured over the dunes and found the cove. All was right with the world and the girls were thrilled. Except....we needed to pack up all the c..r..a..p..and get it to the other side.

Once we got everything to where we wanted it to be, we settled in for a couple hours of swimming and playing in the sand. Everly tried out one of the girls' floaties so she could walk around on her own in the water. She is changing so much. I am just seeing the last few glimpses of babyness and she is becoming a kid very quickly.

As we were lugging everything back to the van, we had to carry Anna and Laney because the boardwalk was super hot and they forgot their shoes. It was a little nutso. Mark had Anna and the beach umbrella, I had Ever and the towels and the beach bag, Mat had Laney on his back, Meg carried the sand pails and the floaties, Ethan handled the boogie boards.....and as we passed a couple that looked like they were about retirement age, we all had to laugh at what a spectacle we were. Someday! Someday it will be just Mark and I and a couple pairs of googles.

And we will miss the kids.

2. Me and Laney and Everly built some pretty respectable sand castles decorated with little shells we found in the sand all around us.

3.  The firefighters that work in the station next door to our house called today and said that they have Daphne there. The fence was damaged in a storm last night and she got out. Luckily we have the best neighbors ever and Tom called his daughter to go get her and find Tootsie and they will stay in their backyard during the day until we get back and fix the fence.

4. We grabbed Chick-fil-a for lunch and now Mark and Everly are sleeping and the kids are watching tv and taking a break.

I love it.

I have no idea what we are going to do with the rest of our time here....

I have no problem with that.

I am now going to see if I can sneak a rootbeer without any of the kids catching me.

5. For dinner we ended up driving out to Pier Park, a big outdoor mall type place. We saw a big bungee jumping thing and Mathew, Megan and Laney wanted to try it. So while they waited in line, I got some rice and chicken teriyaki to feed to Everly. She needs something that isn't fried. I'm tired of trying to dissect chicken fingers in order to get at something that she can eat. So we sat on the sidelines and watched the kids jump with various levels of gusto and whoever was hungry came and had a few bites. In the end, I ended up feeding everybody with 7 bucks worth of Japanese food.

We made up for it with 35 bucks worth of ice cream.

I think I may be bringing home an extra 5 lbs as a souvenir.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Florida vacation...beach day 2

1. We were wiped out this morning. I was up watching the waves roll in and the little girls were snoozing away.

We weren't in any hurry to go anywhere so we let them sleep as long as they were willing.

2. We headed down to the beach for a couple hours and they all enjoyed shell hunting and boogie boarding. I hopped in the water for awhile and thanks to Mark's thoughtful purchase of a snorkeling mask, I was having a great time in the water. I never quite learned how to swim without plugging my nose with one hand. My kids are amused at this fact, since I am such a freak about them learning how to swim properly.

3. We got cleaned up and went to see "How to Train Your Dragon 2" down at the pier. It was pretty good! It also checks off one of our last Summer Bucket List items. The value of this cannot be understated. Also, we smuggled in our movie treats which is a time honored Hufford tradition and always makes me feel quite satisfied with myself.

4. We went back down to the beach, but the sea weed factor has bumped WAY up. The kids (Megan) were pretty grossed out by it, so we went back to the pool and had a good swim. We ordered a few pina coladas and enjoyed the warm water.

5. We ordered food at one of the poolside grills and ate while we watched Madagascar 3 in the pool chairs. The kids watched the movie while they swam in the pool....poor babies! We dragged up to our room and crashed. Everly...actually went to bed in her crib without being nursed into submission first. It was the fastest bedtime routine we have ever had. And we only had to drive 16 hours to get it.