30 March 2009

Jeff turns 31!

Our big event this week was Jeff's birthday! My goodness, some days I feel like we are getting so old! But honestly, has 31 ever looked so good?

Jeff's not really one who's big into presents, so we decided to make Jeff a super-duper candy birthday card. Jack totally got into it and was SO anxious to be by my side for every step. He even designed the front cover! (that's a bird, by the way)

I was hoping he'd add a little to the inside as well, as I'm definitely not a creative person, but by that point, he'd decided he'd contributed enough. This was a fun and simple way to do something for Jeff on his special day, and if you know my husband, you probably know that food makes him happy. Although, you certainly wouldn't know that by looking at him!

We also enjoyed meeting him for a birthday lunch downtown, which ended with us all going home after for naps, seeing as Jeff has been feeling pretty sick all week. But hey, naps? Sounds like a good day to me!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of either of our birthday dinners with Jason (Jeff's twin brother) and his family. Why is it I don't get pictures with the people we see most often? Note to self: get some of those.

Our whole week really was quite nice, except for the snow almost every day. Weather here is so unpredictable this time of year, so we're trying to enjoy what days we actually can enjoy leaving the house.

Jane and I spent some time at a baby shower for my cousin on Saturday. It's not too uncommon for her to fall asleep in the car during a longer drive, but I always feel bad with these built-in carseats because there's nowhere for her to lay her head during the journey. She works it out okay in the end. I couldn't help but get a picture of her. Goodness, she's sweet.

Saturday ended up being one of the only good afternoons for getting out all week. I made everyone go outside to keep me company while I planted the pansies Jeff bought last weekend. I haven't the least idea what I'm doing in a garden, but can I really make it worse? Jeff gave our garage a much needed makeover, and the kids rode bikes and smashed rocks with some neighbor girls. What could be more fun? We ended our productive afternoon by making the most of this dang wind. We took the kite to the school and flew it as high as it would go.

I took so many pictures while we were out. When we do things like flying a kite, I can't help but ask myself why we don't do it more often. Flying a kite is such a simple pleasure. It's such a small thing, yet brings 100 times more smiles than any of those fancy toys kids think they want. On a windy day, why would you need anything else?

Jack was so thrilled to show Jane how to do it. (And Jeff and I were thrilled the wind was just right to take it up as soon as we let it go. Although I was prepared to do the "up, kite up!" routine that got Frog and Toad's kite flying so well. Anyone else Frog and Toad fans?)

They got pretty good at taking turns by the end, but maybe two kites wouldn't be a bad idea.

They were so enthralled with it. And notice Jane's sweater mis-buttoned. I love it.

Jeff and I were happy we didn't need to run with it to get it up, but I guess that's half the fun!

I love the look on her face. Joy.

And, of course, they wanted to fly it home. I love Jack in the background.

What a GREAT way to end the day! What kinds of activities do you have in your "simple pleasures" category? What are you looking forward to most this summer?

And one last random picture from this morning...

After getting the kids ready for church, and then letting them play while Jeff and I tried to get ready, they called us in the see their pirate ship. Jack was quite proud of his "sail" (notice the blanket spread over the ladder, bottom right), and Jane and Jack had each come up with a way to make a canon for the top of the ship. Jack's is a vacuum attachment (that thing has done WAY more things than just keep our carpets clean), and Jane's was a spool of wrapping ribbon that apparently doubles as a telescope.

I LOVE hearing them giggle and play together. No sound could make me happier.

23 March 2009

Goodbye, training wheels!

Lately, I'm feeling like a blog slacker. I am terrible to take pictures of what we're doing, and currently, my life just seems pretty uneventful. Don't get me wrong, sometimes uneventful is what I would prefer. That usually means that things are running pretty smoothly in our home, and generally they are. What a blessing it is to live a very ordinary life! It just doesn't make a blog very exciting! So, this one is for people who must love us a LOT to want to read about our "ho-hum" little Utah lives that right now seem quite nice.

Probably our biggest event this week was relieving one of my biggest sources of "mom-guilt" that I accrued while living in Thailand. That would be... Jack not having a good place to ride his bike. Since we've been here, any day that didn't have snow on the ground, he's been out riding. Finally, we had a week where it was sunny, warm, and we could take those training wheels off and let him go. He learned SO quickly, and we had a blast outside together helping him! (Notice Jane in full winter gear. She's just now figuring out that even though we're in Utah, she doesn't ALWAYS need her coat, mittens, and hat, because occasionally it's not necessary!)

I have a very vivid memory of my mom taking me out and teaching me to ride my sister's banana-seat bicycle when I was about Jack's age. After telling Jack that story, he really wanted me to run along side him. I did for a bit, but being 32 weeks pregnant, my body was not agreeing with it for long! Luckily, Jeff was super-dad and stepped right in. He even wanted a turn of his own.

Since Jack has become so independent on his bike (and the weather's been so beautiful), we've been out every day of the week for as long as we possibly can. It's been fantastic. I even got a small start on the yard work while the kids rode all over with the neighborhood gang. I loved it.

We had a fantastic weekend spent with family and close friends. My parents were nice enough to take the kids for the evening and let Jeff and I enjoy a night out. It was wonderful to spend the evening with my best friend and enjoy uninterrupted conversation. We didn't have to talk 90 mph to finish before we forgot what we were talking about!

I loved spending time with my nieces and nephews the next morning (which of course, I didn't get pictures of because I'm a slacker), but I LOVED holding my newest nephew Drew and kissing him as much as he'd allow. That's the good thing about six-week-olds, they don't have much say in the matter. He made me really baby-hungry, so good thing I've got one on the way!

We spent the afternoon at our good friend's home, the Heatons. When we left for Thailand, they lived just the next block over and we spent hours together visiting, letting the kids play, and they fed us a lot of delicious Italian food. It was a little weird to come back and not have them close by anymore. We finally worked our way down to Orem (only about ten minutes from my parent's house) and went to visit.

The kids had a blast playing with their four boys in their neighborhood playground, and with all their fun toys. Jack was in awe with how many remote-controlled toys they have! This one was a spider, and made Jane quite nervous at first.

Jack and Jane rode around for a LONG time on their little motorbike. Jack was feeling pretty tough, and Jane was just loving the ride. I could watch them play and laugh together like that all day.

Next time, maybe I'll get a picture of everyone together? I told you... slacker.

Today we had one of our Bangkok friends come to visit with his mother. It was fun to see Wyatt and catch up on his life and happenings. Since he left Thailand, he spent another semester abroad in China, and is now just looking for work (and according to his mom, he's also looking for a wife!). Of course, no picture of Wyatt who was busily stringing bead after bead on some string for Jane's necklace, but I thought this was a good one of Jack with his mom, Sally, who was helping him crochet a bracelet for me. Jack sure takes to Grandmothers! Who can blame him, he sure loves his own!

We (by we, I mean Jeff, because all I really am doing at this point is trying to make it so he doesn't need to do anything but the basement!) continue to progress on the basement. Jeff's slowed down a bit, as he isn't finding duct work to be nearly as intriguing or as fast moving as the framing. But, he's almost done now, and is looking forward to starting the wiring this week. Isn't he awesome?

I've really been enjoying feeling like we're in a routine at our house. I love filling each day with something different. I love having enough activities to keep us happy and busy, yet time enough to be flexible when need be. I am also loving being pregnant. I guess I should have expected this pregnancy to be different than the others since I'm a bit older and each pregnancy takes its toll. I've hurt a little more with this one, but because of that, I feel extremely aware of this baby. My other pregnancies were a BREEZE and besides my babies moving inside of me and the usual excitement and anticipation, I didn't feel even all that aware of being pregnant (or at least that's how I remember it!). I already feel really close to this little girl inside of me. I love talking with Jack and Jane about their sister and having them talk to her and give her kisses goodnight. Jane loves to lay on my tummy and feel her kick her own tummy. How could I not love having my two girls so close? To say the least, we are VERY excited about her arrival in less than two months. We aren't ready, but we are excited. I know I say this a lot, but honestly... life is good.

15 March 2009

Very helpful

My super-husband finished framing our basement last Saturday, yay! He did it in less than three weeks and it looks awesome. We are SO excited. I was also excited to have him take a little time off this week so I could have him do some upstairs repairs I've been waiting on. (While Jeff never fails to rise above and beyond my expectations with home-repair, I continue to get worse and worse at it because I just end up saving that kind of thing for him, knowing his perfectionist self will do a MUCH better and faster job than impatient ol' me. Very similar to my outlook on computer issues. It's a cycle I do NOT recommend starting!)

We bought some new faucets to try and refresh our bathrooms to a less rental-looking state. Jeff decided to not waste our post-bedtime time together and do it while the kids were still awake. Brave man, he is. This is what I found.

I couldn't have replaced the faucets with an instructional DVD and all the time in the world. Here he is doing it in no time with two very curious helpers. Can you even find him?

And, here's a little bonus of Jane after making her self extra beautiful with my make-up. She felt so darn pretty I couldn't possibly wash it off, so it remained until it rubbed itself off on who-knows-how-many things throughout the day.

Pardon the poor pictures. Until just a few minutes ago, I was unaware of where the new place I picked for the camera was, so these were taken with my phone. Thank you, Jeff, and your very un-pregnant mind that remembers things like that.

10 March 2009

Too fast

Jack started back to school today. Unlike me, he felt extremely ready. I started really feeling it yesterday when we had some nice, quiet time in our home while Jane napped and Jeff was at Choir practice. We pulled out a deck of cards and I taught him how to play "war" (he clobbered me). We proceeded to read the comics together on the couch, which is a favorite Sunday activity in our home. It's fun to see which ones Jack thinks will be cool (spiderman), and the ones that actually get him laughing out loud (this week, Family Circus, did you see it?). I started feeling like I wanted MORE time with my boy, when in reality, I'll have two to three hours less each day, once again.

I started remembering the week he turned four. It was a big week for a mother. Jack started school, then had his fourth birthday the next day. I was SO excited for him to go to school, something he'd been talking about for at least a year. He had already done a trial day, and we both felt very confident he would have a fantastic experience and meet many friends.

I rode the bus with him in the morning, although I got the impression I was cramping his style more than he wished. The next day (his birthday), I took in cupcakes that he could share with his friends. It hit me that night that my boy was growing up too fast. Even though Jack had been been in bed for hours already, as I lay in bed, I couldn't stop thinking about the day's events. I let myself remember when Jack first joined our family and how absolutely welcome that change was. I loved his big, bald, softball-shaped head, his ever-increasing chub, and as he got older, how he would hold onto Jeff's ears as he traveled on his Daddy's shoulders.

I couldn't help myself. I sneaked out of my bed, and slipped myself into Jack's, just to look at him. He was, and still is, just too perfect. In his sleep, he cuddled right into me and I got to hold my big baby boy once more before accepting that he has to grow up sometime. I still haven't accepted it completely. As much as I love watching his personality develop, his independence increase, and his experience with the influence of the outside world, there will always be a part of me that wants him all to myself. His poor future wife, who's going to have to deal with a mother-in-law who has tendencies to pull her boy in closer, rather than let go.

Knowing that I was going to have to share him once again with school, I felt I needed some extra time together again last night. This time I crawled (or whatever would be not graceful in my very pregnant state) into bed with him while he was awake so we could have a little chat. It was fun to lay with him and talk about our day, something we used to do nightly, but has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle of the last few months. We talked about the baby and how fun it will be to care for her together. He asked me if I was comfortable on his pillow (how nice is that?), and we discussed the latest books he is listening to. We listened a little more to his current book and he recited the funny parts. I tell you, this boy has my heart. He's a little crazy, very independent, and gives me a heart attack whenever he acts surprised that I don't want him playing with Daddy's BIG tools, but I love him. So, why is it so hard to let him go?

To you experienced mothers, is it ALWAYS going to feel this way? All it was this time was him going back on track. I dropped him off across the street, for heaven's sake! What is going to happen to me when he leaves for college? Or a mission? Or, honestly, when he gets married? Does it get easier to just let him keep growing up?

So, you'd think I was sending him off to boarding school or something, wouldn't you? I tend to go about my business and don't feel too emotional about things, but once I take a step back, I can hardly contain my emotions. Poor Jack is going to have to deal with me for years to come.

I can't even imagine what it will be like when my Jane is ready to date! Can anything prepare a mother for that?

03 March 2009

My kids

So, I love my kids. And by my kids, I also mean my sister's kids. Because honestly, the more time we all spend together (since we're now so close to one another) the more the lines between cousins and siblings seems to fade. I love having my nieces and nephews over to play, or sitting with my darling sisters (sisters-in-law included) and visiting while the little ones run around and happily pull out every toy out of each sorted bin in the house. Of course, there are more sorted bins in my sisters' houses than mine, but I do have a few.

This last week could be titled a cousin marathon. We spent almost everyday with one cousin or another. One day even going from my sister's house in Draper up to my Aunt Fay's home in Layton where I got to visit with MY cousins, aunts, and grandma while those cousins played. (Jack informed me that this day was just like Disneyland. We got to go right from one fun thing to another!) What would my cousins' kids and my kids even be... second cousins? First cousins, once removed? Who knows? The point is, they sure enjoyed being together.

So, here's where my regret comes in... I have been terrible at taking pictures. Did I get burned out in Bangkok since I never left home without my camera? It was more in fear that I'd miss something I'd never see again, and I probably did. But, I don't remember what I missed because I don't have a picture of it to remind me. So, maybe ignorance really is bliss?

I DID have my camera on Thursday when I stole Vanessa's two boys for the day, while she filled her time with all kinds of productive things. Most importantly, spending time adoring her three week old baby, Drew. And that boy is worth every bit of adoring.

So, I got to take Clark and John home with me to be my numbers three and four for the day. We played at home, played at our favorite park (who could resist the sunshine?), and played outside with the neighbor kids on everything we own that has wheels, which unfortunately isn't much.

John and Jane loved sitting together in the van, and requested I take a picture of them being happy and holding hands. John was loving that he was "in charge" of the soccer ball on the way to the park. (Are built-in car seats the best or what?)

Unfortunately, after all that anticipation Johnny never quite made it to play soccer at the park since he fell asleep in the car five minutes before we pulled in. He had a nice two hour nap while the other kids played and played, and woke up happy (this kid is always happy) as we loaded ourselves back in the car to head home. Luckily, cousins also distract from missed opportunities so he didn't even complain about not playing on the very cool toys.

It was still cool, but did you notice that gorgeous sky?

Jack and Clark loved our simple picnic and gobbled up their sandwiches and crackers so they could enjoy the main event... gummy worms. It WAS a special day!

Jane would have stayed on these swings forever and was happy as a clam.

Another exciting thing from the week was having Jack home from school. He gets two weeks off (year around school) and I am loving having him home. I signed both the kids up for swim class at a local indoor pool and they've been loving them. (I discovered that my lens was all foggy, hence the blurry picture)

They go MWF mornings for their 40 minute class. The best part is, even though they're in different levels, they can have their classes in the same pool at the same time! Yay! One trip, two lessons, and I get to watch them both without having to worry about entertaining (or containing) anyone. It's a great system.

Jane has found a friend in her class, and it's hilarious to watch them together. He's a bit more hesitant, but she doesn't hold back. Whenever they all sit along the wall, she squeezes herself in so she can sit beside him. She encouragingly pats him on the back just before he jumps in, and I overheard her inviting him on her "adventure" today, which I'm afraid might mean to venture past their set boundaries. She's had to sit on the side by herself twice for swimming too far. She has no fear, but is still learning she has to listen to the teacher, so I think this is good for her.

I love seeing my kids all dressed up in Sunday attire, but I have to admit, my favorite is seeing them in their swimsuits. Do you just want to gobble Jane up, or what?

And look at this kid's muscles! How handsome is he?

Jack and Jane are always FREEZING when they get out of the pool. Luckily, they think it's hilarious to chatter their teeth and laugh at each other's purple lips. This is them showing me just how freezing they are before they jump in the shower.

It's been a good week, although quite exhausting! I decided we'll take it a little slower this week and just enjoy NOT having too much of a schedule while Jack's out of school. Do I really have to send him back? Sometimes I know exactly how my kids feel when they have something they don't want to share. In my case, it's my Jack I don't want to share!

I'll leave you with two things: A) a picture of Jane with her friend, Lilly, at our ward talent show on Saturday night. This little Lilly is so independent and has been key to Jane being able to separate from us each Sunday as she goes to her own little primary class. Thank goodness for good friends! Notice the nutritious refreshments. Jane was in heaven.

and B) a video of Jack performing "Allegro" for the talent show. He was really hesitant to do it at first, but he did a GREAT job. More than anything, I'm realizing the reason I keep teaching Jack violin. It's not because he loves it, because, let's be honest, what child loves to practice every day? It's because he is SO proud of himself when he does it. He realizes it's a lot of work, and performing is such a great opportunity for him to succeed and feel pleased with all that he's done. Every day is an accomplishment when we get our practicing in and have fun doing it. I'm so proud of him for keeping it up. Enjoy!