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!  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

First Day(s) Of School!

I'm always sad when it's time for school to start again. In many ways, I wish I could just keep my little chickens in my nest. They think that is the greatest idea! They wish they could be homeschooled like some of their friends, but I know myself -- and they would never learn how to divide and their principle teacher would be Walt Disney -- sounds like a recipe for disaster (though not to them)! I am thankful they go to a great school with teachers who care. That makes a big difference in this life.
KJ -- Fifth Grade. What the heck.
Olivia -- Second Grade. Stop, time!
Daddy took them to school for their first day, as Mommy was at home with Benson. It was his first time, and I think he enjoyed it.
 
Dear KJ,
I don't know how you got to this late great age, but here you are.
I want you to know how much I value your tender heart and your confidence in who you are. I love that you don't feel like you have to be like everyone else -- I hope you always keep that!
Often I wish I could stop time. I wish I could hold on to that precious little boy. But I would not stop you from becoming the great man you are destined to be.
So I guess I have to let you go to fifth grade.
Although I wish you would have just decided to go back to third, like I asked!
I love you so much,
Mom. 
Dear Olivia,
There is a good chance that you are one of the most darling spirits ever brought into this world. Your Dad and I have it on good authority that you are pretty magical!
I wish for you that you will always be able to hold on to your sense of wonder and imagination.
I wish for you that you will hold on to your heart that is three sizes too tall!
And I hope you reach your penmanship goals this year.
Second grade is very active in my memory. May it be that active in yours.
I love you so much,
Mom. 
Kate the Great started preschool this year! She gets to ride the bus and everything, four days a week. I was selfishly nervous about this, as she is the pea to my pod, but she is SO READY that I can be nothing but happy for her.
 
Dear Katee Jill,
I want to thank you for being my BFF the last four years. 
It's been great.
Thanks for being such a good hang-out buddy and always keeping things interesting!
I will miss you while you're off adventuring, and I know this is only the beginning of things to come. But right now I will take comfort knowing how much you love your Minnie backpack and riding the bunny bus.
You're the best.
I love you so much,
Mommy. 
Kate and her best good friend, Wandrew. They love riding the bus together. 
Honestly, thank heavens for Benson. He came at just the right time. I'm not ready to be a school empty-nester yet!
I love, love, love my kids.

Blessing Day

Benson received his baby blessing on the Double B's 34th birthday. What a special day, added to by being able to be surrounded by family when we least expected it!
Benson was given a beautiful blessing by his Dad. In the circle were the bishopric, led by Bishop Barnes, and Daddy, Grandpa, Uncle Tony, our dear friend Matt (who had to go way out of his way to arrange it, since he is in the bishopric in their new ward), and our home teacher and friend Evan. We pretty much felt like rock stars to have that support. 
Katelyn was happy to volunteer to be in every picture -- love it.  
We're so thankful to be part of a forever family. 
One of my favorite pictures of all time! I got this one on the sly, too. So I think I must have missed my calling as a professional photographer. Either way, such a sweet moment with my two Double B's. 
Becoming a Mom for the fourth time has changed my life forever, and I'm so thankful for that! I love being a Mom more then I've ever loved anything else, ever. Such a great joy to me. 
We love you, tiny Benson B! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

And Surprise! It's Grandma B!!!

The Double B's Mom called me on a Thursday and shocked my socks off by announcing that she and BB's siblings would be flying in to Kansas City the next night to surprise him for his birthday and be there for Benson's blessing! Shocked. Me. I told her he was going to absolutely die of shock and happiness, and he pretty much did! She explained the plane wouldn't be in until late, so I'd need to keep him occupied and unsuspecting until they arrived.
My parents had known about the plan, but I don't know how they kept it a secret, because I just about let the cat out of the bag all day. Knowing I'd need to do his birthday lunch, etc., that day, we went down to the Cheesecake Factory on the Plaza and I told him the Tate's were going to come over for a "Hand and Foot Tournament." I also told him I was really in the mood to play, so we were just going to keep playing and playing and playing into the night! He thought that sounded like a great plan. I knew, of course, he could never suspect anything because it was so far out of his realm of possibility.
We had a fun night with the Tate's, and after they left we just kept playing, and playing, and playing... an hour past when they were supposed to arrive, I got a text from his sister Megan saying they were lost. So I told him it was Bev and she needed some info, I headed downstairs and tried to figure out how to get them here. They'd accidently typed in WEST instead of EAST, so had gone the wrong direction and had to backtrack. I felt bad for them, but it was all worth it when there was a knock on the door.
It was after eleven o'clock at night, and being in a big city, we never get visitors that late and definitely don't open the door if we're not expecting someone. We all looked at each other and I could see the Double B trying to decide what to do. I told him something like maybe Bev forgot something and could see we were still awake because of the lights. So he went down and looked through the peep hole and froze. When he opened the door, his whole body was frozen. You could actually just sense his shock and energy by looking at his back, it was cool.
Their surprise WORKED. It worked big time! I think it took a year off of his life, but it was worth their every effort. He was so happy!
Grandma meeting Benson: 
We were so happy she was getting the chance to meet him -- we thought she wouldn't until we go to Utah for Dad's 90th birthday party in November. So this was so, so awesome! 
Aunt Megan: 
Aunt Sabrina and a sleepy Benson: 
The next day they wanted to see the sights since they were flying out Sunday night, so we had a busy day going to Liberty Jail, Far West, and Adam-Ondi-Ahman. Here are the girls snuggled in a tree down near the valley look out. The kids had so much fun with their aunts and uncle and grandparents! It was fun to drive behind the rental car that had BB and his family. You could tell they were having a great time with the waving arms, etc.. I loved that. 
Things got pretty hilarious playing Phase 10 after dinner at Red Robin. It was awesome! 
They were there for Benson's blessing on Sunday and then flew out that late afternoon. It was a great blessing to have them here. So thankful for their effort to come! It made my husband feel so, so loved and supported. It was awesome. 
 

Grandma And Grandpa Meet Benson

So the long awaited moment arrived! Benson got to meet his grandparents. We were so, so happy to have them here! I'll admit it, I am totally a Momma's girl. Plus, I'm a Daddy's girl. Basically, we lived so close to both of our parents our whole married life because we LIKE them. So being so far away during the pregnancy and delivery was hard for me. I could barely keep it together driving to the airport to pick them up! There wasn't enough room for all of us and them, too, in the Durango, so it was just Benson and I that went to pick them up (Katelyn found this very disturbing, as she has always been my buddy going to the airport to pick up Grandma and Grandpa)! The timing was perfect, by the time I'd parked and gotten Benson out and situated, I walked into the airport and coming down the hallway were my Mom and Dad. Happy moment! We gave hugs and then unveiled the star of the hour. They liked him:
And apparently found him very cute:
Grandpa and my boys (wasn't really that long ago that KJ was my tiny baby, but now he's my tiny giant, and Benson is the tiny baby!): 
The girls starting a rousing performance of "Let It Go" for Grandma. Let me tell you, it was rousing. I'm pretty sure Grandma got several showings while she was here, but that is what Grandma's are for -- to convince you that you are wonderful, and uniquely talented: 
It was just so comforting to have them here. They stayed for about a week and a half, so it wasn't rushed at all. So appreciate their sacrifice to be willing to do that! We loved every second. We just mostly stayed around the house and enjoyed each others company. It was great. 
They were such a big help. My Mom worked like crazy, cleaning the house, cooking, basically giving a million acts of service. And my poor Dad got roped into an accidental painting. We'd asked him to help us patch a few small holes in the walls, which somehow merged into a major painting project, and even a "saw into the wall" incident. Poor man! But we so appreciated his expertise. Oh, boy. He and the Double B spent two days straight painting, and then half of another day a few days later! That is not a fun way to spend a vacation, but we so appreciated it. Plus, I finally said goodbye to a paint color I have truly disliked for almost two years, and hello to a nice bright cream that is my new best friend. 
My parents are pretty much the best.
Benson checking out his Grandma: 
And totally sprawled out with Grandpa. Look at those little arms tossed above his head: 
I am so thankful for our time together with this new little baby that has joined our family. And I know they were so happy to be here. We are lucky to have each other!