29 June 2009

This and that

Summer is fun. I love getting out of our routine a bit (and equally love getting back into it when the time is right), and doing a little of this and a little of that. Here's what we've been doing lately...

Jeff had a concert last night with the Murray Symphony he's recently started playing with. It was really fun to enjoy music in the outdoors and the kids enjoyed the music from movies that they are familiar with. Jeff's loved playing with a group again (it's been since we were in college, 6 years ago!), and I'm sure they're thrilled to have such a good bass player! You can't really see him, but he's on the right, behind Larry, the other bassist.

Kids don't last through entire concerts, at least mine don't, so thanks to my awesome in-laws for coming and helping with them. They went for walks, listened to the river, played with their shadows, read books, and of course, played with sticks, a favorite in our family. The best part was that we could still hear the music through it all.

These kids love their Daddy. Jack was even carrying his backpack in a way that it was like he was carrying a "bass".

Alice's first concert. Despite the yawn, I think she liked it.

Jack had his final Kindergarten concert last week. Jane, Alice and I sat on the front row and Jack was so excited/distracted, I kept having to motion to him to watch his teacher! It was fun to hear these kids sing and recite poetry about the seasons. Jack's had a great experience this year and has made some really fun friends.

Cousin camps have been fun so far this summer. The kids are always thrilled to be together and we can hardly leave without confirming the next time we'll all be together. We lined all the kids up for a fun group shot. This is all 12 of my parents' grandkids. They've done pretty well, I have to say. Joanna was doing something hilarious to get all of these laughs. I probably should have gotten a shot of her too, because she's pretty cute herself.

We walked to the park and had a fun picnic (thanks Jo), and got to visit while the kids played all over the place.

I think this is one of my favorite photos. Vanessa always laughs at Jane's laugh, which is quite unique! This is them doing their "Jane laugh" together. My goodness, my kids are lucky to have such fun (not to mention beautiful) aunts!

We had our Rich family monthly get together last Saturday afternoon. Since it was the day before Father's Day, the kids prepared to sing some "Dad" songs for them. This isn't the greatest picture of the kids and Mimi and Papa, but I think sometimes pictures like this end up being the biggest treasures!

While the adults were visiting, some of the kids decided to put together a rock band. They performed (really) "Eye of the Tiger". Grant (far left) was the singer, while the other kids played guitar and bass, with Andrew (in the background) was on drums in all his beat-boxing glory. I discovered that all of a sudden, Grant can sing! He was adorably monotone for years, which I was a little sad to see is now gone, but probably better for him to have caught on!

My little angel sleeping in her swing, her napping location of choice.

We spent Thursday at Lagoon with the family. I couldn't believe I caught this picture of Jane and Papa on a moving carousel! Jane was one happy girl.

Jack and the cousins loved the bumper cars, just like me and my siblings growing up. They went on it again and again thanks to almost NO line! It's the only way to go to Lagoon... when it's not busy!

Although Jane had some frustrating moments on these cars, she still loved them! I think she'll get better as she gets a bit older. I was impressed all day at how adventurous Jane was. I never know what to expect from this girl. I knew she'd love most of the rides, but thought she'd be nervous about some as well. Nope. She was an animal and wanted to go on EVERYTHING! She laughed and giggled through the entire day!

I love going to Lagoon with my family because we all love to go on rides. It was apparent that we're getting older because near the end of the day, all the adults had hit our "done" point, while the kids were still going strong! At this point, we were ALL still going strong, even after everyone getting soaked (except me and Mimi of course, who so willingly offered to stay with the babies)!

The highlight of our week was attending the Oquirrh Mountain Temple openhouse. Jeff was able to work a morning shift at the temple, then we met him afterward so we could all go through together. I love this temple. I usually feel an attachment to things that I have a long-standing relationship with, but this was different. After driving past it so many times and finally being able to go in, I really feel like this is our temple. It is beautiful. If you get the chance, GO! Get online and get tickets, it's easy and you don't need to be a member to go inside before the dedication.

The kids were in "silly" mode at this point. I love the way Jane's looking at Jack in this. Aren't siblings such a blessing?

Stay tuned for more summer fun coming up!

15 June 2009

TWO trophies!

I love being a mom. And I'm loving having three to be mom to. Alice has been an awesome addition to our family. Jack and Jane continue to adore her every move; so much, in fact, that I beg them to give us a little space while I nurse her, or while she's trying to sleep. They can hardly keep their hands off her. I'd be lying if I said I didn't know how they feel. I LOVE to hold her and have her cuddle right into me. It's a whole new thing (at least in the last three years or so) to not have my hands free. I have eliminated so many things from my life since Alice arrived, you'd think I have nothing to do. I'm busy all day, yet my house continues to get dirtier, I keep forgetting important things (like Jack NOT having school on Friday, oops!) and dinners aren't even started until Jeff gets home.

Luckily, I am married to Superman. He's amazingly patient and on those days when he could totally come home and say, "what did you do all day?", he never has. Thank goodness! Some days I want to ask myself that question!

So, in addition to every-two-hour feedings, trying to squeeze a bath in, loads of PINK laundry, and my absolutely necessary power nap each day, here's a little of what we've been up to.

When Abbie was here, the kids played and played. Abbie kept them busy with projects for hours on end, and we all loved it. They were thrilled when it started to rain, so of course ran out to play. I LOVE the rain, and if I wasn't holding my babe, I would have been out there with them in a heartbeat. Jeff was out, although he was just trying to finish mowing the lawn, not necessarily trying to play in the rain. What a guy.

The kids were super-heroes for three days straight, with their own super names with individual powers and everything. Bad guys didn't stand a chance at my house.

Jack and Jeff decided last week they wanted to build a periscope. So, off to Lowe's they went and in no time, they were enjoying their new toy. I love when my boys get going on a project, and this one was super easy and hours of fun.

Papa (my dad) came to visit on his way home from work this week. The kids were thrilled, as always. When preparing to go to Provo to play with all the Rich cousins earlier in the week, Jane exclaimed, "Papa is my favorite cousin!". Although not quite clear on the definition of cousins, this shows how much she really just loves her Papa! We loved the visit, and I loved how immediately cozy Alice was with Papa.

She still has her hair! I worry every time we wash it that it will be gone, and it will eventually if she's anything like her siblings. For now, we're loving it! She really is as sweet as she looks.

Jack had his "Soaring Eagles" award ceremony this week at his school. The children were sent home with a list of 20 things they needed to be able to do 15 of. When he heard he could earn a trophy by completing it, he was all for it! He was thrilled to get to go on stage and receive his trophy. This is Jack with his friends as they were lining up.

And the sillier side of these cute kiddos...

About 45 minutes into the ceremony, they were only just finishing up the Kindergarten students, so we were happy when Jack said he wanted to go home as opposed to waiting for the other six grades to be named. It was like a high school graduation! He had his trophy and honestly didn't care about anything else.... much to our relief! He was happy, and that's all we cared about! Are we terrible? I was overwhelmed by how handsome I think this boy is. I can't get enough of those green eyes and perfect smile!

Jack's been finishing up his soccer season this week. He's loved playing on this team, and I have loved watching him. I've been happy with how the focus has remained on learning and having fun, as opposed to winning. I'll be sad when that emphasis changes because right now Jack is really enjoying himself, and it's not because they are winning! They have come a LONG way during this short season, thanks to an extremely patient coach. Hopefully, in the fall, he'll get the whole concept of moving FAST! We think he thinks too much, and then suddenly, the ball is gone! We get quite a kick out of it.

He was so excited to discover he gets a trophy from soccer too. His first two trophies in ONE week!

Jane and Phoenix are little soccer-watching buddies, although Phoenix wasn't too thrilled about his mom and me taking their picture! Hopefully next year, these two will be playing on their own team.

I've been feeling the pressure to finish up my second-to-last class before graduation, so a good deal of my time has been spent on the computer working on assignments and now studying for my mid-term. Taking classes with a family is certainly not the easiest way to get that diploma, but I'm determined to finish this up and feel like I haven't wasted the last 11 years of my life! I will feel a HUGE relief when I'm done and can spend my free time learning things I really want to learn about, rather than finishing up these last required classes that have nothing to do with my major. If all goes as planned, I'll be done in December. THAT will be something to celebrate!

01 June 2009

Clever blog post name.

We've had a great week back to reality. It was hard to let Jeff get back to work on Wednesday, but honestly, I was counting my blessings that he got as much time off as he did, so no complaints here! He was more than a Super Dad while he was home. He was running errands, doing dishes, laundry, floors, reading books, taking the kids on outings, and still squeezing in some basement time while allowing me to rest as much as possible. He prepared me pretty well to handle the three on my own. Plus, I've still had a lot of help from my fantastic moms, and even have my niece here staying for a few days, which has been GREAT!

I feel like this transition to three children has been smooth so far. Alice is an absolute angel. Even after rocking her several times a night, every night, I still adore her every move. I love watching her eyes roll back in her head as she goes to sleep. Or the subtle smiles she gives as she's waking up. Or, my favorite, her satisfied expression as she comes up after nursing with milk dripping from her lips. Irresistible. I really should catch that one on camera sometime.

I forgot last week to write much about her name, and have had a lot of questions as to what her middle name is. It took us a while to decide, as we wanted it to have some kind of tie to Thailand. Thanks to all our Thai friends (and cousins Rikker and Kao) for all of your suggestions. Although it wasn't the most astrologically correct name, we decided on Malee for a middle name. It means "Jasmine" in Thai, which we thought was nice and not too unusual for an American girl. With all these unique names people are coming up with nowdays, we probably could have chosen anything and it wouldn't have stood out amongst her peers! So, our little Alice Malee finally has her middle name!

We'd known that our baby was going to be "Alice" for a while now, but we didn't want to say it until she was born, for some reason. I've always liked the name, especially knowing it's my great-grandmother's name. It wasn't until we knew our friend, Alice, in Bangkok, that I really felt like I wanted that name for one of our children. I admired Alice from the first time I met her and anyone who knows her will tell you she's amazing. I've met few people who are as humble, generous, and loving as she is. If my Alice turns out to be anything like this Alice, she'll be a much better person than I'll ever be. I think everyone could use an Alice in their life! And, since I'll probably never live in the same state (or maybe country) as big Alice (she's probably five feet tall, really) I needed to create one to remind me of all I've learned from her. So, there's the story on our little Alice's name. Any questions?

I took the kids to my Grandparent's house this week so they could meet Alice. It's Grandpa Ottley's mother whose name is Alice, and I think he liked that. I wish I could have known my great grandmother, but I'm sure she must have been amazing to raise such an incredible son. My goodness, I love these people.

We celebrated my nephew BJ's fourth birthday this weekend. He's the first of the "triplets" to turn four. John (left) will turn four in July, and Jane in September. These three will be fun to watch grow up together so close in age. Who would have known there could be such dramatics from this smiling bunch though? So much fun, in not enough time!

Jack and Clark are just nine months apart and I love watching them together! They were doing incredibly in their first three-legged race, galloping down the yard in perfect unison. The following races were a little less successful, but they never lost their grins. Cousins are so great.

Meanwhile, the babes, Alice and Drew, were snoozing away. It's amazing how much they can grow in only three months! I don't expect Alice to be anywhere near this 18-pounder in only three months. He's a chunk, and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. He's also one of the best natured babies I've ever known. So sweet.

Drew even woke up while we were all gawking at them and just smiled as his mom started talking to him. Seeing these two together is getting me excited to add one more (from Joanna) in August. This will be our second set of "triplets", all just three months apart.

Jack wanted to make sure he got one with Alice as well. He is such a sweet brother.

Jane loves her Papa and who can blame her? My dad's incredible.

Something funny happens when you welcome a new baby into the family. The other kids suddenly seem HUGE. Has anyone else noticed this? Jane and Alice were laying together while I sang Jane her bedtime songs (which, I might add, have been the exact same two songs for at least six months), and I noticed their hands. When did Jane get to be gigantic? She used to be my baby!

I loved this picture of Jack with Alice smiling in her sleep. Jack loves to hold her, and Alice never hesitates before cuddling right into him. For all those who like to tease me that every picture of Jack is in his underpants... yes, you're right. Here he is again!

We discovered this week that Alice doesn't need to be tightly swaddled in order to sleep well. This is new to us, as Jane couldn't sleep a wink unless swaddled so tight that she couldn't move her arms. We did this until she was nine months old when she finally could sleep without it.

It's fun to see her sweet body while she's sleeping. Especially to see that she loves to sleep with her arms up over her head, just like Jack used to do. Another photo I need to get.

I said before that my niece, Abbie, is here for a few days. My sister, Joanna, let me borrow her, and she's been so fun to have around. She and Jack kept each other busy for hours and hours today as they created "research kits" together. We found an old box and they designed their laptops, blackberries, clipboards, and research journals all in their own styles. Abbie was especially thorough and made a table of contents in her journal, as well as making her laptop look as close to her dad's as possible. They even looked up Octopuses on the real computer (probably Jack's 10th time on that subject) and recorded some of their favorite facts. Did I say cousins are great?

Thank you for all the well-wishes from the last post! We feel so blessed to have so many people rooting for us as we start this new chapter for our family. Please keep in touch, all of you, and let us know if you've started your own blogs! We try to keep up with everyone's that we're aware of. We love to read about all the fun things you're up to, and find it inspiring to be surrounded by such exceptional people, all of you.

Lots of love from the Hillmans.