Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Thoughts on record-keeping

Lately I'm feeling a fire lit under me about record-keeping.  I really want to record all kinds of things.  Things like:
  • Day-to-day events in my home
  • Spiritual enlightenment (personal revelation)
  • My thoughts on different issues.  Everything from the "opt-in pornography petition" going around (which I think is admirable, but misguided btw) to common core to the protection of the family.
  • Family histories - my ancestors, my grandparents, my own short history thus far. The same goes for Marty's side of the family (thank goodness for Kris Anne).  I want them all in a big book that is kid friendly.  I want my kids to grow up surrounded by the goodness and wisdom and strength of their family members they won't be able to meet in this life, but might feel from time to time.
  • Notes from my scriptures.  I just finished transferring everything from my old set of scriptures to my new set, and I'm so thankful none of it's lost (like the time Marty lost his old scriptures).  But I'm sad for all the times I read a verse and know I had some revelatory breakthrough about it but didn't write it down and can't remember what it was.  
  • Really, really cool experiences.  When I think about all the opportunities I had throughout my schooling (all the way from elementary to college graduation), I am in awe at all the incredible things I was blessed to be a part of.  It would be just plain sad, in addition to being seriously ungrateful, if I were to carelessly lose the memories.  
  • Book reviews, and the best quotes out of the best books.  I love classic literature.  I love to read sentences wherein the author labored for who knows how long, and found the most precise word in the english language, and wrote that sentence with a high purpose.  When I go to a symphony I feel like the good energy of all that beautiful music is inside of me and it makes me want to be a better person.  I feel like reading good literature can be like that.  You read it, and it stays with you in an abstract way, but to record quotes, ideas, wisdom, etc., seems even more worthy.  And more permanent. 
  • I need to write more letters (the kind with a...what's it called?...a stamp) and thank you cards.
  • Lists.  And then keeping them and referring back to them.  Lists like this one, so they don't disappear in the chaos that is my 50-things-to-do-at-a-time brain.
  • Letters to my kids.
  • Scrapbooking.  Turning my blog into a book.  Heck, I'd even go for just printing off a few of my digital pictures from time to time.
I want to be deliberate in the things I record.  I owe it to my kids and Heavenly Father, and I certainly think I owe it to myself.  I'm smart.  When I work hard and practice, I'm articulate.  I love to write.  I've gotten seriously lazy though.  It is so much easier to hurry and blast out a thought, followed by an emoticon and a, "ya know what I mean?"  And I don't mean to justify anything with excuses, but it's really hard.  I know I can do hard things.  I know, I know, I know.  It sounds totally ridiculous and childish to say I'm stinking at something because "it's hard" but it really is.  I get defensive when I hear moms talk about their kids turning their brains to mush, or anything to that effect.  It doesn't have to be that way, and it shouldn't.  But the truth is, I worry I'm becoming part of that group that gives stay-at-home-moms a bad reputation.  Being a mom really is more easily suited to "sound-bite" type of information, like Facebook.  Little blips we can read between a baby (or multiple babies!) needing things. I'm not saying Facebook is the devil, by the way.  It's great.  We need a support network.  We need to be able to ask questions to a group and throw things out there to other adults when we feel like we need to be heard, but can't dedicate the next half-hour to rounding up kids and shoes and socks and coats and diaper bags in order for someone to hear it.  But what I'm saying is that I, personally, am sort of craving more than sound-bite information.  
But again, it really is hard.  I'm up by 5:30 or 6 to get dressed,  nurse a baby, get everyone breakfast, conduct a morning devotional, and get Brynn off by no later than 6:55  That's probably the most intense part of the day, but it doesn't calm down a whole lot after that.  I have a hard time sitting at the computer for more than 10 minutes or so.  Either someone needs me, or if no one needs me then I start to get antsy and figure I'd better hurry and get something "done" before someone needs me.  And reading an article can't usually count as getting something "done."  There is always nap/quiet time, but the odds of actually getting all four situated for more than a half hour or so are against me.  That half hour is non-negotiable (meaning kids can kiss their own owies and babies can cry in their cribs if they don't "feel" like napping) and it has to be dedicated to my scriptures.  Has. to. be.   I refuse attempt this whole parenting think on my own, and can't stay awake long enough to read them at night (what could possibly be making me so tired? Ha!).  
Today, besides writing this, I also organized my "books" on the computer.  I have three different "books" I write stuff in and format it a little like my scriptures because I'm super dorky like that.  Anyway, in order to accomplish that I put the babies down while the 2 older were at school and pre-k.  That gave me 45 minutes.  Camille woke up while I was writing this.  She was hungry and poopy.  I took a break to attend to her and snuggle for a bit.  I laid her down on a quilt to roll around without a diaper for a few minutes as she was a little rashy.  She didn't stay on the quilt long.  I took another break to set her up again with more toys and a diaper.  I sat in a puddle (don't judge, I'm great at disinfecting).  I took care of all that.  Came back to the blog.  Wrote for a few minutes.  Now Gabe is at the door knocking and ready to come out of his room, and Camille is crying to be held.  And I'm not done yet!  And it's time to pick up B&B, have lunch, and then it's homework and piano practice, and then running errands, and mostly likely neighborhood kids wanting to come over and play, and dinner and dishes, and our fun Christmas singing around the tree (more on that later) and our bedtime routines.  My time after the kids go down belongs to Marty.  No one will ever question I love my kids, but Marty is numero uno.  Or at least he should be.  We need time to talk without interruption or have fun or laugh together.  We are a couple of yellow personalities and we need time to be true to that.  I should be better at using the time I'm not with Marty after all the kids are down (he's a pretty busy guy).  I will try for that. But by the time 9:30 rolls around, I turn in to a pumpkin and forming a coherent thought is beyond me. 
That is why it is hard.  I need bigger blocks of time then a 10 minute reading or writing session, all the while glancing around to make sure Gabe hasn't emptied out the spice rack on the the carpet (not that he did that last week or anything).  But I'm not sure how to grasp those longer blocks.  Today was an exception.  It doesn't always work to put the babies down for the nap at 9:30 after taking Bryce to preschool.  But it felt really good.  Even though now that I look back at all I've written, I'm disappointed at how blabbery it is and I know that, at least for today, proof-reading is out of the question.  And usually if I get an un-interrupted hour I use it to mop.  
One last thing: all of this is NOT meant to be a complaint.  I have so many times throughout a week where I stop and look around and stand in awe, humbled and grateful, that I am exactly where I want to be in my life.  I can't believe how much I love my kids.  I can't believe how much I love mothering them.  I can't believe how much I love my home here in AZ.  I can't believe I was able to have these four so close together with no miscarriages and that they all came so healthy.  After all I go through on a day-to-day basis, I can't BELIEVE I want more, haha!  But I do someday.  I suppose I'm a glutton for punishment.  I know that if I wasn't really busy I'd shrivel up and die.  And I've always needed to be busy.  But remember that time in college I was enrolled in 18 credits (technically 20) and working and serving in four different leadership capacities and discovered the glory that is college social life?  Yeah, THAT was more conducive to recording my thoughts.  Because I could block out a period of time and I knew it would be there, even if it was 4 in the morning.  But with a sick family, I can say there have been probably three of four nights in the last two weeks that I wasn't up multiple times with a kid (sometimes all four) so I can't even count on that.  It's nuts.  And I love it.  And it's nuts.
Well, it's almost noon and time to get the big kids.  What am I trying to say?  I have a desire to be more informed, well-read, and articulate, but especially a desire to record it all.  It's really hard to do that.  But I can do hard things.  It's time to find a way to simply make it a bigger priority.  And to be more deliberate about it.  Since staying at home, I have not stopped learning.  I am the book-worm that I've always been.  But I need to be deliberate about it.  If I tackle an 1100 page Dickens novel, I should record something about it so that's not all lost.  If I read a bunch of articles about education and legislation, I want to record it and put it in my own words so that I can have an intelligent conversation about it.  I can't believe I am still writing, this is SO long.  And Camille is trying to eat paper.  And Gabe is yelling about food from his room, where I still have not gotten him from his nap.  And now the race continues!  But at least I recorded something, eh?

And guess what?  NO emoticons!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

more life according to my cheap phone

The super high-quality phone pics will be coming for another couple of months, as we won't be getting a new camera until Christmas.

During the fall, I like pumpkin-flavored-everything as much as the next person.  So these cookies made me purchase them and then of course I had to enable my mom also with a picture text of them.  Yes.

More silliness of Bryce.

Gabe got his flu shot and didn't cry a single tear!  Just scowled and grunted at the nurse and then shrugged it off.  Well, what was a proud mama to do?  Of course I bought him an ice cream cone!

I can't remember what the deal was with the day we took pillows and blankets out to the club house.  I only remember thinking that there was no way I was ever going to be able to salvage that terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day.  But we had SO much fun and it ended up being one of the best afternoons!  It was just a little bit cold outside so after playing around a little we snuggled up under the blankets (and my kids seriously know how to snuggle) and kept each other warm reading books.  Brynn read us some of her American Girl book and Bryce and I read through some of our library books.  Which feels good because it always makes me mad at myself when they are due back and we haven't read them yet.

Then Marty came home with a package we'd gotten in the mail from G&G O.  It was full of fun Halloween treats and matching new outfits!  There is nothing more exciting (and not just for kids) than a package in the mail.
And then...more snuggles to keep warm while enjoying yummy caramel apple suckers.  Afternoons like that are what I am going to spill tears over when they are gone.  Unlike days such as this one - where Gabe dumped a bunch of my spices on the carpet and my vacuum is broken and now my downstairs smells like curry and he destroyed a favorite tape and almost choked with the tape ribbon around his neck and Camille spewed all over the carpet (it's been a rough day for the carpet) and nobody napped.  How's that for a run-on? ;)  But just looking at these pictures makes me want to try harder to create these moments.  And now it's time for me to stop stressing about the kids going to college tomorrow.  It's not tomorrow.  Not even the next day.  Breathe, Johnson.
We've been riding bikes to preschool and it is a highlight of the day for all of us.  Apparently it was for me because looking over the pictures on my phone, it seems I took a picture of the kids about every time we did.
Sometimes Camille feels the need to clutch Gabe and hold on for dear life.

This was Camille's outfit that came in the fun Halloween package, so of course Grandma had to have a visual.

Halloween at preschool.:  Bryce was a vampire.  He's been saying forever he wanted to be Tin Man and a ghost.  So we decided he'd be Tin Man for the trunk-or-treat and a Ghost for school and Halloween.  I mentioned to him that morning that his vampire costume from last year fit and if he wanted to do that for preschool, then he could be three things, and wouldn't that be fun?  I didn't really care either way, but he latched on to the idea and so we made a last minute swap.  When he got to school his teacher asked what happened to being a ghost and he looked sooo disappointed.  It was a small thing, but some days are so full of small things like that.  It is so easy to do things wrong when you are a mom and are "on-duty" 24/7.  That day was chalk-full of them and absolutely nothing was going smoothly.  Another of those small mistakes was forgetting to swap Marty phones and none of the pictures were working out on my basic phone, so this is all I have of his preschool vampire parade.  C'est la vie.

I'll post more pics of Halloween later, but this was Halloween night with Baby Snow White very much ready for her crib.  Ahhhhh.  I could stare at that all night. And I can not BELIEVE how much she looks like my other babies!!

Another visual of the new outfit from Grandma.

One day before choir I was pressed for time and needed to get old music out and about 7 new pieces in each folder.  So I enlisted the kids and we brought out the good old assembly line that we came to know and love whenever we had to get anything done while I was pregnant.

She started sitting right around turning 6 months.  You can tell in these she's still a little wobbly.  She's happy though, I could tell for a while that she just really wanted to sit.

Camille had a small cold and one irritated eye, and I was worried about pink-eye.  Then the next day I had a red eye, so I took a picture thinking I would send it to my mom to see what she thought (none of my kids nor I have ever had pink-eye, so I'm clueless) but it went away.  So here are my dark green-ish eyes. :)

Gabe's new love are the look-and-find books.  These people know little boys because there are cars and balls on just about every page.  He still loves all books and I suppose we read anywhere from about 15-30 per day, and that doesn't include all the times he brings me books and I turn him down (sadly, I do have other responsibilities sometimes).

My first attempt at gnocchi, and feeling pretty proud that I finally forced a roux into submission.  Almost every roux I've ever attempted has hated me, but I'm pretty sure this one's gonna go tell his friends.

And she's a scooter!!!  It happened just about the same time she started sitting up.  Time to worry about small toys - she can (and does) get anywhere she wants to be.

Brynn's not excited at all about having a baby girl in the house.  If I leave her alone with Camille long enough, she'll end up with a make-over.

It's too bad that this picture didn't turn out, but if I at least explain what it was, then the memory is still there.  I'm pretty sure someday Bryce will marry his little bff across the street.  Her name is Taylor and they love each other to bits and pieces.  They have been besties since nursery, and have been holding hands ever since.  But their relationship is starting to blossom.  Taylor bats her eyes and Bryce wants to be the big strong protector.  Recently she was at our house when it was cold and Bryce said, "It's ok Taylor, I'll warm you up."  And while batting those lashes, she said, "How?"  And he came up behind her and started rubbing her arms like...well, like a husband, in fact. :)  Ok, in all honesty, we do NOT encourage the little kid girlfriend/boyfriend thing and have always said it's not allowed to be cute for our kids, so I suppose it's time to have a talk with him about not trying to be too friendly.  But it is just so darn cute the way they act like an old married couple sometimes!!  Oh, but the story behind this picture is that Taylor was sad about not having a horse to ride on at the park, so Bryce told her she could ride in back of him like a princess.  She did that for a while but still wanted her own, so Bryce caved and gave it to her.  Bryce does not cave.  They are so funny.

This was not staged. :)  Bryce has always had a hard time waking up in the morning or from naps, and occasionally this is what I come downstairs to.  Brynn reading to Bryce while he shakes off his sleepies.  Notice it's a Thomas book.  She is so good to him.

Carseat cleaning day.  All those carseats lined up on the counter struck me as funny, so here it is.

Ready for a cool-but-sunny-November-Arizona day at the park with cousins.  She and little Naomi spent the morning rolling around on the blanket together outside and it was so pleasant.

Still loving bath time.

This is a big mile stone for Bryce.  He has always had no interest whatsoever in holding a pencil, marker, crayon, paintbrush, or anything else.  Asking him to color is like asking someone to go get a root canal just for the fun of it. It is torture for him. He loves learning, reading (he is reading simple books on his own now!), and challenging stretching his brain - as long as it does not extend to writing in any form.  So I found this picture somewhere and asked what it was and he said he wanted to draw a picture of when he and Brynn grow up and get married. :)  So cute from Bryce on so many levels!

See?  And I didn't even include all of the bike trailer pics!  oooooh that little ball of pink!

That little Millie gets so much attention from her brothers during the day.  They both jump at the chance to put a toy in front of her.

Eventually Gabe takes the toy over, but you know.  He's learning.

First time in the exersaucer - I think it's a hit!

I have to do some serious self-motivating mind-talk to force myself into going grocery shopping on Saturday.  The stores are nuts on Saturday.  I hate it.  But if I don't do one big weekly trip, I end up there every other day snatching the essentials before the babies are too out of hand and going through the express lane with twice as many items as I should have (the week of Halloween I think they posted my picture behind the express lane counters with a declaration of "Do not let THIS woman in your lane - no matter how cute her babies are!  It's a trick!").  So last Saturday I came home from Walmart at around 10:30 to this:
That's Gabe, fast asleep in the hallway, next to an empty bag of chocolate chips.  Judging from the brown hand and face, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say he ATE. THEM.  Time for some more self-talk on how "worth it" it is to leave the kids and go shopping on Saturday.

November is why we live here.  It's that time again that the kids LIVE outside.  Even the Millie May enjoys being out there.  Although she gets very offended if everyone comes in and leaves her alone out there.

I still love finding Brynn's princess stuff around the house.  This is a dry erase board she's been carrying around with her wherever she goes.  I love her imagination.

So...I just posted this picture.  

Happiest baby ever.  I mean, wouldn't you be if you could spend an afternoon like this?
And no matter how much they maul her...
She just keeps on smiling.

See that one dimple just below her right eye?  Yuuuuummy baby girl.

What a way to end a blog post, eh?

Gabe's hoarding

Gabe makes me laugh.  He hoards stuff.  I guess that's the skill of a third child - he's just staking his claim.  Lately I've gotten such a kick out of him hoarding balls that I took a bunch of pictures of it.  Seems like a random thing to post so many pictures of when I haven't even blogged Halloween, but...moving on.

Gabe loves balls.  He doesn't say much, but "football" and "baseball" are among his most frequently used words.  I think I mentioned putting the basketball hoop in his room, and his excitement over it hasn't diminished.  It seems like anytime we set foot in his room there is another new ball in it.  I don't even know when he does this, and I think he may be "sneaking" them!

He's got all the sporty-type balls from outside.

And no matter how many times he shoots this big one...

He still gets angry when it doesn't go through the net.

He rounds up any toys that are mostly spherical, no matter how inappropriate they are as a projectile object.

Bryce went to a birthday party and came home with this little bouncy ball.  Later that night he was looking for it and I told him to check Gabe's room.  Yep.  Gabe had hoarded it right away.

These balls I mainly approve of.

I put a little stool in his room that he usually shoots from.  He makes the shot about a quarter of the time.  If he doesn't make it after 6 or 7 tries, he gets mad and moves the stool close enough to dunk it.  Then I usually move it back again.

And by the way, look at that skinny little guy!!  I told his pediatrician I was worried about him, but the doctor said even though he is low in percentile, he is still following his curve.  Where did all these tall and skinny babies come from??