Friday, December 5, 2014

Starring Olivia

Olivia had her music concert last night. She was honestly ADORABLE. My heart melted into a big fat puddle of goo. She knew every word, every action, and gave it her all. Bliss!
In other news, the Double B and I have discovered the most important thing to happen to us in recent days -- a little restaurant/ice cream joint named "Culver's." Think Dairy Queen, but better. Much, much better. And it's right in the triangle where we do most of our stuff, so I don't know how we missed it. It's like a little piece of happiness to celebrate two years of full on survival, Mid-west Style. We took the kids there last night to celebrate Liv's hard work. There was a lady there TALKING ON HER PHONE AT ABOUT THIS NOISE LEVEL.
Very interesting.
Yep! Two years! We made it two whole years.
So that's weird.
Benson and I have gotten a little more sleep the last two nights and so neither of us are looking for a step-stool to jump off of quite as much as we were. He only ate twice and I only had to get up with him five times total. Progress! As the Wonder Pet's once said "What's gonna work? TEAM WORK!" I miss the Wonder Pet's. Could be my favorite of the various children's programming I have ingested the last eleven years.
Let's do this, Benson. LET'S CONQUER SLEEP!
I think I am feeling the caps lock today. I love you, caps lock. You never let me down.
I just wanted to share these adorable, truly precious diary entries Olivia made on our airplane flight. She specifically asked for a little diary to document her feelings, and here they are. She won't mind that I shared. Prepare for your heart to melt. The end.

Dear Diary,
Tonight me and my family are going on an airplane to Utah. It's getting loud! Which means that me and my little sister Katelyn and my big brother KJ won't have school tomorrow. Which is pretty good because me and my brother don't like our schools. Because PE! Is boring!
Love, Olivia

Dear Diary,
I can not keep it a secret anymore. Ok, ok, ok I have to tell you that I have a crush on a cute boy named Ryan and he's my neighbor in my neighborhood. And I think he has a crush on me but if he does he doesn't want to show it!
Love, Olivia
PS Do not say what I just told you!

Dear Dairy,
We finally are flying. Everything is so teeny tiny. The lights are beautiful. I wish my Grandma and Grandpa were here!
Love, Olivia.

You're welcome, world! I have done you a great service bringing that girl to you.

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's The Hap-Happiest Season Of All

 One of the great joys of childhood -- throwing leaves into the air:
They're all gone now, of course. We're back into our fabulous six month winter here in KC! That's right, folks. Six months. Just try to tell me anything different!
Things are just trucking on, trucking on. I have been treading water since getting back from Utah trying to get back on top of things and trying to sneak in any little sleep I can (which is not very much. Moms of babies, unite!)
The older kids are doing great in school and continue to be a big help.
Here are KJ and Olivia reading Benson some jokes (jokes are the very air we breathe around these parts. I can not believe how many Olivia retains!): 
I'm sure he found them very amusing.
I held the Double B off until November 19th to put up the Christmas tree -- which was a pretty good effort on my part! I like the tree, and all, but there IS a little thing I like to call Thanksgiving. So we compromise and have a Christmas tree surrounded by Thanksgiving decorations. And that totally works for us!
The kids love, love, love to help their Daddy set it up. Here they are testing the star. I have weird children. 
You may be thinking to yourself "Self, why does Katelyn not appear to be wearing any pants?" And the answer to that would be, Katelyn simply does not stay dressed for any occasion. She is a serial nudist. We're just excited she embraces the need for underwear now! That took us years to accomplish that feat.
Thanksgiving came. I love Thanksgiving. It is really climbing up the ranks of Marie Favorite Holidays. The Double B took pity on my poor miserable soul and actually made MOST of the food for our feast! (Side story: I had tweaked my jaw on a Starburst I'd "borrowed" from the primary closet on Sunday and had been miserable ever since -- a jaw that throbbed and wouldn't shut right and a stellar headache. In my sleep deprived state of mind, I had diagnosed myself with many tragic diseases that obviously meant death was imminent, but I am getting better, so apparently I'm NOT dying and the Lord just feels super serious about the primary birthday treats. I shall never sneak a stray Starburst again! Okay, back to the story.) So that was super romantic, and he did a great job, too. He is so good at letting the kids help him in the kitchen, and Olivia loves nothing more then being his sous chef. This year she made the ham rolls! She did awesome. I had a great internal battle about whether to rearrange her placing of the ham rolls so it would look fancy, but then I decided to just let her do her thing. Presentation is pretty important, so this one was a nail biter for me! I'm glad I let her make it her own way of beautiful.
The Double B's favorite nephew and his cute family moved to Nebraska a few months ago, and they came down to spend the holiday with us. We were so glad they did! We had a marvelous time building Legos and laughing and eating. It is amazing what a difference it makes to have family on holidays. It just makes everything BETTER. We loved, loved having them! 
They have a little baby just a month younger then Benson, and they were cute together. This is hilarious -- while laying next to each other, Bens got a hold of little buddy's hand and just started chomping away on it! He loves to suck on things and chew, and apparently his friends hand was even better then his! Baby E totally didn't mind, too, which I thought was funny. It was just danged cute. 
I am so thankful we had them with us. It made all the difference in the world. The kids wanted to try Black Friday again, so I took them out for a couple hours Friday night, which they loved. They just want to be part of it, which I think is cute. Black Friday makes me really, really homesick for my Mom. I was probably feeling a longing for home more on Friday then on Thursday, ha ha! I am thankful that I have a great Mom and a great family to miss! 
Friday night I'd laid Benson on the ground to go grab a diaper after putting kids to bed, and when I came back up, he was on his tummy! I couldn't figure that out, since he hasn't seemed super close to rolling. But Katelyn was up and about in the kitchen, so I figure she had helped him. She was VERY sure she did NOT help him, so I just tucked that away to keep an eye out for and reminded myself not to leave him on the bed or anything anymore. Then, Saturday night, after games with the Tates, he rolled over during scriptures! Like he'd been doing it for ages and it was totally no big deal. He did it several more times, and it was so fun for all of us to see him do it and for the kids to cheer him on! I got a cute little video of it and lots of pictures of his second official rollover. What a guy.
Benson is giving me a run for my money. He went from being a pretty easy baby to a pretty hard baby -- not sure what flipped the switch. He is happy if he has your undivided attention, but is very fussy most of the time. He has also become a terrible sleeper. Last night I got about three hours of sleep total -- all deeply interrupted, a few minutes at a time -- and that is not uncommon. It's pretty much killing me. Ugh. He is doing a very, very convincing job of convincing me that he is our last child, ha ha! The Lord is going to have to intervene if He wants something different. Exhausting. My ability to cope is just way lower then normal. Waah! Poor Marie. I never knew I could feel such love and affection for sleep. So thank you, Benson. You have taught me to love the very idea of something I've never day dreamed about before! I've even dreamed a few times that I'm sleeping. In my dream.
I should be analyzed.
These are the moments where I really, really miss "Grandpa". If I don't get to live close to my parents again one day, I'm gonna be mad. But it sure would be convenient if we lived close to them now! :) Then I could just say "Gee, Dad, I think he just really needs you to work your magic on him!" Then I might drop the news "Be back in a week." Or something along those lines.
In conclusion, he's our baby boy so we love him even if he's a pill. He's a cutie and very squishy. At his four month check-up, he was 19 pounds and 26 inches! He is in the 97th percentile for weight, the 98th percentile for height, and the 99th percentile for his head, ha ha!
Katelyn has made it her life mission to fill my phone with selfies. I love them. All. Seems like there is a gem or two waiting for me every night!
Life is good. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Becoming Brave

I'm alive.
I get to keep my Beatles CD's after all! But still. They say a will is really important and stuff. So at least we know we've got the important things covered (for the next time I fly in an airplane and all).
The trip was a raging success. We had so much fun and a truly magical time at Dad B's 90th birthday party. We are both so thankful that we got to be there for that. It was magical.
Benson had his first Halloween. Cutest pumpkin ever. KJ was Percy Jackson, Olivia was an angel, and Katelyn was a kitty cat. Busy night trying to juggle two families, but fun.  
Basically the whole week was our little family trying to be two places at once. Sometimes we succeeded, sometimes we failed. Either way, we tried.
Katelyn took it upon herself to be Benson's right hand woman. She is getting so kind and sweet with him, and he truly finds her comforting. I love that. 
Sneaking in as many snuggles as we can get! 
I got to meet my beautiful niece, Bianca Marie * yes, she will get extra candy from me for the rest of her natural life! She is so beautiful, and it was so fun to bring the two tiny cousins together. Benson is about six weeks older and six times bigger. She is very feminine and petite, he is very masculine and big. 
One of my very favorites: 
I love this picture of my two Double B's and Grandpa. We are so lucky to have the parents we do. Even when we visit home, we don't really get enough time with them, but we love the time we do have and are thankful for it! 
My sweet boy turned 11. ELEVEN!!! I do not endorse this decision. I had a great time teasing him about having to stay ten, because he'd just get so worked up about it. I love this gentle soul. So. Much. He loved having his birthday with family in Utah! And late that night we drove down to Las Vegas and arrived home at 6:45 in the morning, central time. Phew! 
Flying was hard. I'm not going to pretend it wasn't. The flight to Utah was the smoothest ride the Double B says he has ever had. The ride back to Missouri was the roughest he's ever had. The turbulence was pretty intense and scared the poop out of me! Thankfully, I'd put another Xanax in my pocket and have never swallowed anything so fast, ha ha! I was so thankful for it, because it enabled me to help KJ, when before I took it I could not. Before that, it took everything in my power to not have a gigantic freak out. But it gave me clarity and I could then feel his tiny tears of fear dripping on my arm and could come back to myself -- we prayed, spoke the words to his favorite hymn "I Stand All Amazed," talked about our faith that the Lord could help us, and eventually were able to play a little Tetris... a game that will probably be in Heaven. I have talked it out with the Double B and I work it out a lot with myself, making sure it stays clear for what it was and doesn't build into something it wasn't. I WILL fly in an airplane again -- many times, in fact. As my brother Matt so wisely told me... you don't have to like everything you need to do.
I refuse to let the things I am afraid of stop me anymore.
But here is what is interesting. I have realized that I am getting less and less afraid.
I had some personal revelation on this trip, I guess you could say. I am learning something -- and that is that the Lord is a lot less interested in Marie being comfortable as in Marie becoming what I need to be. This transformation has been going on for years now -- and I guess will keep going for as long as it takes. As BB and I were talking on the couch the other night and I shared this discovery, he pointed out that really, it began in earnest when I became Young Women's president when I was 25. Which is true, really, that is the age when I took my weakness -- my fear and anxiety -- before the Lord and asked Him to help make my weak thing strong. He is doing it. He is working a mighty miracle in me. There has been great spiritual growth and nourishment, slow growth and fast growth. He seems to have been intent on throwing me far out -- completely out -- of my comfort zone and is helping me thrive here, out dangling on a branch. The tree is safe. But out here where the wind can blow me, I'm becoming something different. My mind is a different place. The things I was reliant on -- even the presence of my family -- was removed. My parents and siblings and friends states away and my husband working 60-plus hours a week and asleep when he's home. The two biggest terrors of my life, that I would do practically anything to avoid -- doctors and airplanes -- well, I won't avoid them now. I pretty much had a year of therapy growing Benson and then -- yep -- He put me on an airplane. Which I planned to avoid permanently. And I didn't die. It was hard, but it wasn't so terrible. I am overcoming my fears. And it is Him helping me do it. As soon as we landed, my first thought was "Lord, the glory is all yours" because I did not do that myself. The only credit I get for it is that I believed that He could get me through it. I'm not even afraid of tornadoes anymore, people! I am comfortable in my own skin. With my own company. I am gaining greater power to redirect my thoughts when my imagination goes wild. And I'm even reaching out and making ties here. That's right, folks. Even went to a little lunch get together today. I think maybe He thinks it's just time to move on and leave my debilitating fears behind me -- to become MORE -- and is rather forcefully helping me do that. I'm getting closer to becoming whole. HE IS MAKING MY WEAK THING STRONG. We're making progress. I don't think I knew what I was really asking when I said that prayer. I really don't. But I'm here.
When we woke up early Saturday afternoon in our own bed, the Double B looked at me and said "Thank you for being so brave."
I knew he meant it and that those words came from his heart. And I took those words into my heart. Because I was brave. And you know what? I've been brave for a long time.
And it feels pretty good.

Monday, October 27, 2014


 Before we begin, let's all just soak in this little pudding pop:
Now let's enjoy the whole show: 
I know. So delightful. So squishy. So edible, in the least creepy way possible.
Benson turned three months old yesterday. Can't believe how fast time races after the slog of pregnancy. Quite amazing. He grows like the cutest weed ever and charms everyone he sees, because he is super cute and also a very friendly little guy (unless he has an earache, of which he has had two. Two already. Mean.)! He started to laugh this week and will just knock your socks off with that one. He also is starting to get some arm control and is beginning to really like his fist. He's just a fun little guy. He makes us happy.
Here is a picture of Kate and Wandrew last week. I walked into the room and they had their arms around each others shoulders. And then she just lifted her arm and rested it on his head. It was so weird. They stayed that way for awhile, and I thought it was so funny. Odd people. This morning the Tates needed me to take their kids to school, and when they walked in the door Kate introduced Andrew at the top of her lungs "And this is my best friend, Wandrew!" Glad we have that little guy to play with. 
The Royals are playing in the World Series right now! It's way fun to be here for this. The whole city is so excited! And nervous, because it's now 3-2 for the Giants. I really want them to win. That would just be fun. I have decided the Royals are my team. Not that I follow sports, really, but everyone needs a baseball team so I've chosen mine. Even the Double B is cheering for them. It's a fun memory in the making for my kids. Our ward even had a watch party at the church for game 2! That was so fun.   
Everyone was cheering and sharing treats and the kids were running around like wild people. We didn't stay long, but it was a blast. I just couldn't NOT take my kids to a World Series party for their hometown team AT THE CHURCH! I mean, come on, people. Memories, right there. Those are the moments when I sincerely love the structure of a ward family.
We had parent teacher conference last week. The kids are doing well and we are so thankful that they have such amazing teachers in such a great school district. Katelyn is learning really well in preschool but it's a great prep for her, so I'm so happy she has it. She can almost spell her name! And is recognizing lots of letters. She gets very nervous at school, her teacher said. Tears up and freezes at new things and has a hard time joining in with the group sometimes. But she feels like Kate will work through that. Apparently Katelyn gets upset at the yelling and loud activities and noise, which is funny, because at our house, Katelyn IS the noise. Funny.
KJ has the PERFECT teacher for him. He was loving but really held KJ accountable, which I LOVED. He is a very gifted reader, but the problem is, he reads instead of doing his work or applying himself with anything that doesn't interest him as much as his book. I understand this because I DID this. Which is why I can't really divide today. His teacher really challenged him to rise above that, and I really appreciated it. KJ is such a missionary, it's amazing. When we went into the hallway to see his work on display, there was a poster he'd made all about him. And here is part of what he'd written:
So bold! I admire it so much. Kind of took me back! When I showed the Double B, his jaw dropped. I am such a sissy about sharing my beliefs, but not KJ. He is proud and unashamed, while being very respectful of others and what they believe. Love that kid. He is a great example for his Mom.
This is Olivia with her "No, David!" face. Silly girl:
Olivia is totally rocking it. Her teacher has been out for six weeks for maternity leave, and she has absolutely adored her substitute. They both raved about her. She got the highest marks, and they talked about how she is so quiet and respectful in class, but when they call on her she always knows the answer and is following what is going on, and they said she often cracks the class (and them) up with her responses. They said she is very witty and a very fun and expressive reader. I was proud of her efforts. She gave them both great big hugs at the end. Kind of melted my heart for them! She is a tender little spirit.
We are so happy to say both KJ and Olivia earned the "Principle's Award"! They were both thrilled and so are we. Well deserved, according to their teachers, and well deserved according to us, because we are their parents and therefore find them both gifted and magnificent. 
This week we are traveling home to Utah to celebrate Grandpa B's 90th birthday! We are very excited to see everyone and be there for such a wonderful celebration, but in a surprise move, we are flying instead of driving. It's probably really a blessing, because it will be such an easier travel time, especially with Benson, and miraculously, we got ridiculously cheap tickets and are flying our whole family for about $550. The trouble with this is I am terrified of flying. Legitimately very, very afraid of the very idea. So I've been sick -- like barf sick -- and fighting panic attacks for about a week now. Luckily, I had a doctors appointment already scheduled for last Friday, and Dr. Morris wrote me a prescription for Xanax to help me. I just really, really don't want to flip out in front of my kids. I need every tool in my tool belt. I'm thankful for a family willing to apply their faith and prayers to ours for my sake. It probably sounds really silly if you're unfamiliar with the whole irrational fear or panic experience. Both un-fun. I was kind of hoping to put off having to face this fear -- indefinitely, ha ha. I'm sure it will be a good experience. And if my spirit ends up leaving my body, I'd like Jon to have my Beatles CD's, Matt to have my George Bush autobiography, Nick and Sil to be burdened with all the cute tiny objects that I collect, and Trina, please go through my journals and preserve my reputation as an upstanding citizen. My parents should get my secret candy stash and everything else.
Should be good.
I am very special.
In closing, a few funny things.
I walked Kate up to the bus stop last week and gave her a hug and a kiss and said "I'll miss you when you're at school, Katee." She replied "You'll be okay, Mom. You can watch a tv show, or play with my toys, or go to Sonic again!" Ha ha. How nice of her to comfort me.
While at parent teacher, we were looking at a book Olivia made of the life cycle of the butterflies they watched from caterpillars. Hers was named "Butter the Butterfly." At the end of the book, KJ said "Wow, you must really miss Butter, Olivia." She answered "Kind of." KJ said with concern "I hope he's doing okay!" Olivia hmmed, saying matter-of-factly "Nah. He's probably dead." I laughed and laughed and laughed! She looked at me confused and said "What, Mom? The life cycle of a butterfly is very short!" Good to see she enjoyed it while it lasted. :)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Leaves Are Changing

It's amazing how adding just one more tiny human has thrown my regular scheduled "programming" for a loop. I miss blogging and don't want to miss out on documenting some super awesome stuff, like how yesterday after rehearsing for the primary program (I took home a magical pounding headache as my souvenir) for the two hours of primary, Katelyn was very disturbed at me the whole way home that I didn't let her go to her "fun class." She wanted to stay at church, since I'd cheated her! Now those are some good Sunbeam teachers. Then when we walked in, she didn't like the smell of dinner cooking in the house (smelled great to the rest of us!). She was practically paralyzed by the door, holding her nose, tears in her eyes, "It smells like SKUNK! I can't stand it!" Well. Thank you. Compliment accepted. She is blessed to have the world's most loving sister, and Olivia stepped in to save the day. She convinced her to give the house another smell, then went to work preparing a "lesson" to give to Katee, since she was so sad to have missed class. She drew a very impressive coloring sheet for Kate to color that went along with her lesson on "Jesus and the ten leopards." I could hear her giving the lesson on the couch as I finished up dinner. Olivia gave a very accurate telling and then even expounded "How would it make you feel if someone didn't say thank you? We need to say thank you to Jesus and to other people, don't we?" Super cute. I like the story of the ten leopards.
We had a happy conference weekend, all told. This is what Saturday looked like:
Sunday was pretty similar, but with more sleeping. Something about the Sunday afternoon session just knocks me out. I was disappointed, too, because I missed Elder Scott's talk, and I love Elder Scott. I woke up "DANGIT!!!" just in time to hear his last couple of lines. They sounded like good ones, too. Oh, well. I am thankful to live in a day and age where I can now re-listen and reread very easily. It was cool to have the different languages, too! I was a little sad we didn't get to hear more of their native tongue, though. That would have been cool. And a few weeks ago in Fast and Testimony meeting, we had someone visiting from Mexico, and obviously bore their testimony in Spanish. It was awesome how strong I felt the Spirit. It was probably my first experience with any association with the gift of tongues. I couldn't understand what he said, but I felt the truthfulness of his testimony. So that was cool. I'm kind of hoping in the future they'll give us a minute to hear a few minutes of their native language in conference. It was awesome. I heard a few talks that were so helpful to me and us personally.
Tiny Benson B is so fun to have around. Even though it's been four years since we've had a baby, it's been a happy and easy transition. He is a sweet little guy. Loves his Mom and makes sure we all know he needs lots of snuggles and Mommy time, but how can you resist when your tiny one fusses and then feels so much better when you pick him up and nuzzle him? You can't resist. Benson brings me great joy! I'm totally in love with him and his silly smile:
The Double B is particularly pleased because Benson's new hair is coming in and it's a light brown. He feels so victorious. It is cute, that is for sure. 
This is pretty much what my life looks like right now:
So many humans! They love to snuggle on my bed in the morning and have fun together. Pretty lucky.
KJ created this cool look for Bens and was so proud of it: 
He is still not over the thrill that he finally has a brother. He's pretty helpful. The true baby whisperer is Olivia. She hears a peep and goes running to the rescue. Katelyn is getting really good at entertaining Benson, too. He's even giving her some smiles, which she loves and works hard for. She'll just sit and talk and talk to him if I'm getting ready and he is fussing. Cute. 
Our friend Elyssa was baptized on Saturday! I was very honored because she asked me to give a talk on the Holy Ghost for her. The girls and I volunteered to make cookies for them to serve, and our idea was bigger then we thought. I felt like my own Mom when she makes cookies for the masses. We made double batches of chocolate chip, oatmeal, and peanut butter (the recipes I think I have mastered pretty darn well). Liv and Kate love to help in the kitchen, but it even wore them out and they didn't last through the second recipe! Here are my little bakers:
Here is my big boy and my little boy this morning: 
Handsome fellows.
The Double B got called as the assistant ward clerk. He is over the finances, and he was thrilled. It was kind of fun, because I was in ward council when he met with the high councilman over our ward, and we didn't get a chance to talk, so I found out what his new calling was when everyone else did -- in sacrament meeting. That one had definitely not crossed my mind. He's excited. His Dad was often the financial clerk and loved it, so I think it hits one of the father/son notes in his life.
I finished the Book of Mormon and so love that mighty work! I always feel of it's power and need the strength it gives. I started listening to the New Testament, which is where I am studying now, and wanted to try out listening and see if I like it... the Double B listens on the way to work and loves it. I am in Luke and have really enjoyed it so far. I am noticing different things then when I read it. It is so soothing to listen to the testimonies of the Savior. This time I've really noticed how much time the Lord spent healing those with mental illness. He is so compassionate and not condemning at all. My postpartum experience has brought out a lot of the anxieties that I have made such progress on, and has compounded them... not surprising and not my "fault", but something still for me to work on and not always easy to deal with. Things that would be stressful under a normal circumstance have seemed insurmountable to me. They are getting better, though, as I continue to work on myself with the Lord and have received a priesthood blessing that made such a difference. A leaning towards anxiety and depression is my "weakness" that I know the Lord will make strong. It's not a weakness as in I'm bad, or choose it like an act of disobedience, and it doesn't mean I myself am weak. It's just a weakness that makes me vulnerable, like tendonitis or something, one that I have dealt with since I was twelve years old. I don't feel bad about it and I'm not ashamed of it, and so appreciate Elder Holland and other leaders that are honest about their own struggles and accepting that these things exist. But it's not fun to deal with when it acts up, as so many people know. When I was 25, I took this issue before the Lord and removed the shame I felt about it within my self, and asked Him to fulfill His promise in The Book of Mormon "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Since that time we have worked hard together, and have made truly amazing progress! I'm so thankful for that. So I try not be discouraged by little steps back, especially when they are brought on by hormones or outside circumstances, and I try to be patient as I make my way back to more solid ground. I'm really thankful for family support even when they're far away and a husband that has stretched outside of himself to support me.
Life is awesome.
The end.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Evening Walk

 Look at this little buddy:
I mean, come on! Cutest thing we've ever seen? Let's just agree about that, shall we?
He started to really smile a few days ago, twice for me and then once for Livi that first day. Still hard work, but they are there! Then this morning at my Primary presidency meeting (Note: the Primary is smarter then I ever will be. Honestly. Just when you stop one leak in the boat another starts. It's like we're constantly bailing water. Sure do love my new councilors, Jada and Laurie, though. They are such great, great ladies!) I was sharing a scripture that really means a lot to me from the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 4, when I happened to glance down at Bens in my lap. As soon as he saw he had my attention, his whole entire little face lit up. Wild, happy smiles and goos. Just thrilled that I am his Mommy, apparently! It was filled with such love and made me feel so good! The whole scriptural thought went out the window so I could go ga-ga over him. Loved it!
While folding laundry when we got home, he needed a little break, and I got these beauties, too.
So fun.
Tonight the kids and I went on a walk together while Daddy slept. They had such a great, great time taking turns pushing their baby brother in his stroller. Pretty nice situation for me, I guess! They were very cautious, and even Kate the Great was a pretty successful pusher -- even pushing him up a little hill by herself! She kind of looked like a little ant, capable of carrying a big load.
While watching a jet overhead, Olivia said to me "Jets have always fascinated me. When I grow up, I want to be a birdwatcher. And a Mom. And also a home art teacher... I'm going to have a lot of responsibilities!"
About two-thirds of the way through our adventure Katelyn and I had fallen a little behind. She took my hand and said "Mommy, KJ and Livi are creeps. They never want to wait for us!"
I honestly don't know where she gets some of this stuff. Sure makes me laugh, though.
As we headed down the cul-de-sac to our house, Liv had skipped quite a ways in front of us, when suddenly a little animal jumped out of the grass at her feet! She jumped about ten feet in the air and squealed, her feet dancing around. It was a fairly good sized toad, just hanging out there at her feet. We all had such a good laugh. Would have scared me to death, too! Naturally, after finishing laughing, she ran the rest of the way home screaming her lungs out, Katelyn following, while KJ pushed Benson along.
Pretty great..

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Back To The Future

It's been an adventurous two months -- two of the best ever! And I realized that if I try to go back in history to cover every event, I will never, never, no never be able to get caught up, will become discouraged, will give up on the blog I have loved and nurtured for almost six years, and this family history -- the most valuable I feel I have submitted so far -- will not go forward. And that would just be sad! So we'll cover what we can, and what we can't, Benson will have to look through in his baby book. That's right, cute boy -- I'm talking about you! 
Oh my, how we love this little boy. He's been everything we could have hoped for and more!! He is really a good little guy, sweet tempered and getting to that point where you can tell when he's happy and is starting to give little smiles and it just melts your pea-pickin' heart. He is growing like WILD. We grow nothing but big kids -- that's the kind of crop we produce. Such cute little chub, and he is super tall. He is even developing little relationships with each of his siblings -- with KJ, he watches every move he makes in a serious study. With Olivia, he looks into her eyes with deep trust and adoration -- he knows she's got his back. With Kate the Great, it seems to be a mixture of excitement and wariness... which is well advised. Daddy and I are crazy about him and he fills my heart with joy and the feeling of "good things to come." And also -- only seven and a half weeks later -- the pregnancy and delivery doesn't even seem like it was so bad anymore. Ha ha.... it is truly amazing what the Lord does with our Mother Hearts! It was worth every single second, of course.
The Double B had FIVE WHOLE WEEKS OFF after tiny Benson B was born. The world's best paternity leave, offered to Costco managers. My gosh. It was so awesome. We both loved every single second, and darned if it really didn't create a bond between big Double B and little Double B. Those two are buds. Plus, look at Bens' chin. Squaring off, and see that little dimple forming in the middle? He even has his Dad's chin. Bazinga.
P.S. Sleep deprivation is awesome.
Katelyn is LOVING preschool. It's like a serious, passionate relationship. She LOVES it. And I LOVE that she loves it so much! She is growing with leaps and bounds, too. She surprises me so much every day with the grown-up things she is saying and the more mature way she is acting. So fun to see her blossom. She is a social creature and just needed the opportunity to spread her wings and be independent. I think that will be part of her M.O., though. She is the third child with a bang. I love to see that about her -- I guess because I can relate. She is carving her own path... vibrantly! Today I had to run to the bank after dropping off the kids at school, and she and Wandrew patiently waited in the back seat. She was pretty excited because I was going to the window and that meant she could get a sucker. Wandrew didn't want his, so she ended up with two -- an embarrassment of riches, really. She was concerned he would change his mind, so kept checking to make sure he was okay. "You want a lick, Wandrew?" When he said no, she patted him and goes "Suit yourself! Just let me know if you change your mind!"
Cracked. Me. Up.
Olivia continues to be the sweetest, most tender person on planet Earth. She is going through a very emotional phase right now. The first few weeks of school were hard for her to adjust to, and she found something to weep about every day. At least once, but usually twice! This was getting a little hard for me to be empathetic with until the Spirit spoke clearly to me late one night as I was checking on her that what she really NEEDS from me is to hold her, embrace her, love her, look into her eyes often, reassure her. I was thankful for that little teaching moment, because it has seemed to help her. The other night she came into me after being in bed for awhile, her eyes great big and filled with tears. I asked her what was wrong, and she said something along the lines of "I'm just feeling really discouraged, because I'm afraid that no matter how hard I try, my handwriting just keeps getting worse and worse!" Handwriting is a real struggle. Chin trembling. Tears spilling. It was so.... Olivia. I took both her hands in mine and told her how very proud and impressed I am, because I can't believe how much her handwriting has improved just since the start of second grade! (That's true, too.) I encouraged her to keep trying, and reminded her that improving in anything can be a slow, slow process (something I need to remember, too). Then I told her that by the fifth grade, if she keeps working, she will have such beautiful handwriting that people will say "Who in the world made those beautiful letters!?" She loved that. Sniff, sniff, kiss, kiss, off to bed. Not an unusual conversation in our house. 
KJ is growing up. Sigh. Besides basically becoming a giant (Seriously, watch out, Uncle Matt), he is going through all the growing pains of fifth grade. He has to try REALLY HARD not to complain about -- well, pretty everything -- and deals with reoccurring "phobias" as he calls them. That can really be a challenge, but he is working hard on them (most of the time), and we are working hard on patience with the growing process! He can be a huge help to Mom when he wants to be. One thing I am so proud of right now is that he is not giving up on himself in math -- his hardest thing. He keeps plucking and has done his homework every day! I know he can do it. He is also love, love, loving orchestra and is so excited to play the viola. I hope he will keep that enthusiasm, because I would really love to see him take off in something that is uniquely his. He is such a bright spot in my life. My little (big) buddy.
It's been hard for the Double B to get back into the grindstone of 55-60 hour weeks, but he is doing it like the champion he is. I love and appreciate him so much, and his great sacrifices for our family! That can't be easy. Last night we were talking about our fifteenth anniversary -- only two and a half years away -- wild! We want to go on a cruise, and we were talking about which side of the continent we should cruise from. And he actually said "Well, it'll be half way either way -- Florida or California." As in, acknowledging that you know what? We might still be here then. And it wouldn't be the end of the world. I felt so proud of him! Funny as it sounds, it was kind of a big step. I played it on the DL, though, because I'm super smooth like that.
My little dance and musical theater classes started again last week. It's fun to be back. It takes a lot of energy, and I DO NOT KNOW how elementary school teachers do it -- you are an amazing people, all of you -- but it's nice to be able to make a small contribution while using my slightly obscure talent! It's just enough to keep us swimming. I'm so thankful for the Lord for giving me that opportunity. I feel like I'm really improving over my first year already. I'm excited for the finished product and to see how we've improved. My kids love it, too, which is a huge blessing that they get to take the kinds of classes they want to take -- and I can provide them. And they don't sacrifice time with Mom, because I'm right there. Katelyn is even wanting to participate this year. But she doesn't think she needs to be in the class with her own age -- she thinks she's big enough to be in the big class. It's cute, because she honestly is trying. She keeps trying to get her feet into the different positions and saying "I can't quite get it! Can you help me, Mom!" She is also the Musical Theater mascot. The kids are having fun with her and she is right up there trying with them. When we sing the chorus to "The Wells Fargo Wagon" she holds out the last note of each line kind of like a hound dog. The kids love it, and I love it, because she has her arms thrown open wide and such a look of joy on her face. Love, love, love my kids. And I have felt a change occurring in me towards Kansas City. It is really, finally starting to feel like home. I drive out and about and it feels normal. I even am starting to feel a love for it... like a "home" love. That is such a relief. And honestly, a necessary thing. I still don't think we'll be here forever, but I want to LOVE it, either way. And if we ever do get to be closer to home, I want to be filled with fond memories of the place and the people whenever the day might come that we live somewhere else. It really is a great place.
A great place with rapidly changing leaves!
It became fall very quickly, and I am darned determined to enjoy this season and not just quiver in fear of the coming winter. Cold = Bad. But for now, here is autumn. So I'll live in autumn!
It is pretty beautiful!