Friday, November 20, 2015

Plethora o Pictures

Here are all those pictures I noticed on my phone that never made it onto the blog...  (Be warned, I'm kind of obsessed with the fall colors, so there are a lot of pictures of pretty trees.  Sorry if that's terribly boring for you...)

Looking out over our backyard, finally being able to see the hills behind us.  I loved the golden light we were enjoying at that moment...

Camille somehow got herself stuck under the moon chair.  She wasn't all that upset about it until I took her picture-- that made her furious.  As you can see!

Finally made it back to the temple after our move.  If you look closely, you can see a tiny crescent moon to the right of the temple.

Super cool model they have of the temple on display at the visitor's center.  I love that they even have the paintings in miniature!

Guess who fell asleep for the last two minutes of church?  She was so exhausted Craig managed to buckle her into her carrier without her waking up!
I found this old picture of me and Carla at the bridal shower she threw for me.  I can't believe how young we were...

I hate having to wake up a sleeping baby.  But at least then I get to take some pictures of how sweet she is!


I just love how she crinkled up her nose for this picture
I was really proud of myself for taking all kids hiking on a day when they were home from school (but Craig had to work).

Here we are at the mile marker.  I wanted some proof-- albeit blurry proof-- that Camille and I were there, too.

I loved that lone red tree.

And that one just changing stopped my heart!
Right after I took a picture of the chicken nap, Eileena pecked Kendra in the eye.  Two days later it happened again with a different chicken, so we have been lecturing Kendra on keeping her face further away from the chickens.  (Her eye is okay, though.)
I just loved this painting of apple blossoms on display at the Art Museum in Williamsburg.  I later found prints of it for sale, so apparently I wasn't the only one who admired it!

Selfie with two kids!  And with Camille pulling Colton's hair!

Dressing up as his favorite Pixar character!

This tree is in our front yard-- I had no idea it would be so beautiful when we bought the house!

The view from my bedroom window.
For some reason we could NOT get that beret on her head properly.  This was the best we could manage...

I kind of love this spacey "I need a nap so badly right now" look on her face...

That's Camille's real smile, though!

I believe this qualifies as "learned behavior."

Nothing like a car nap to really knock you out...

First time on the swings!

I got a coupon for free baby leggings and have been having fun with them!

For all you Arrested Development fans out there...  I give you: George Michael.

Camille snuggles up to Casey Cramer. 

Eating mommy's skirt at the playground
When we get a lazy Saturday morning, we like to enjoy it by snuggling with Daddy!

And then everyone joined in!

And now, as I keep going further back in my phone, I'm realizing that I never posted pictures from the kids' first day of school!  Or Halloween!  What kind of mommy blogger am I???????

So I guess we're not done yet.  But I think this is enough for one post.  Stay tuned...!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Gang's All Here

I figure it's about time I did an update on my kids.

The main reason for this is because of our big news around which is that Camille IS MOBILE!  Unlike all my other children, she didn't bother with army crawling at all.  Instead, she got really good at sitting herself upright (I'm pretty sure that Bentley couldn't do that until after he figured out how to crawl), and then she kept leaning all over the place to grab stuff.  And eventually that led to rocking on her hands and knees, and then finally crawling.  So that's exciting.  And, of course, now I have to be a lot more careful about what stuff she can get into.  And the door that opens to the basement steps MUST remain closed at all times.  So she's keeping me on my toes.  But in a happy way!

She also got two teeth at just about the same time last week.  It meant for lots of crying on her part.  In fact, she'd been so cranky that it was something of a relief when I saw that first tooth poking through her gums because I finally understood why my normally happy baby was such a wreck!  Unfortunately, I proceeded to try and run my fingers along her gums-- with my other kids, they found that soothing-- and this made her sob for a solid five minutes.  I felt terrible and will definitely not try that again.

We also did 9-month portraits of her today.  These are the two I ordered:

Laughing as I made her giraffe give her kisses.  You can barely see those bottom teeth here...

Colton is mostly working on talking.  He's got complete sentences going on now, and loves to repeat stuff back to me so he can learn new words.  My favorite is when we read The Paper Bag Princess together and he'll do all the dragon noises, complete with coughs when he runs out of fire, and snoring when he falls asleep.  It's awesome.  He's also been trying to count stuff, which none of my other kids have ever shown the slightest interest in doing.  So I just started filling out his MENSA application.  Of course.

Colton also continues to be a generally sweet, all-around fun little guy to have around.  I suspect this will disappear the moment he turns three, so I'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can.  He's starting to get more opinionated (about which story we read, or how fast I'm allowed to turn the pages), so I know the momentum is just beginning to build.  But for now, he'll still give me hugs on demand and try to make Camille smile every chance he gets.  And every time we get out of the car and I go to unbuckle him, he'll close his eyes and pretend to be asleep.  It melts my heart.
Playing with a big stick at soccer practice.  Of course.

I like how that rock behind him is the same blue as his eyes.

Ryder is still as wacky as ever.  I hope when he goes to kindergarten next year that his teacher will be able to reign him in a bit, because I seem to be having little success there.  But he's a fun sort of goofball and he loves to make people laugh.  A friend of mine once commented that Ryder had a certain joie de vivre about him, and that really is the best way of explaining him.

Also, any time he's bored, he tells me he's hungry.  Some day he'll need to learn to not eat out of sheer boredom...  Come to think of it, I still need to learn that lesson, too...
Killing time in the car

Squeezing into Camille's sweatshirt

Kendra is my little social butterfly these days, and I feel like I barely see her at all.  She is BEST FRIENDS with the girl across the street from us and they are always together.  They like to play outside with our chickens-- I found them the other day carefully stretched out on the trampoline with all the chickens between them having a chicken nap.  They're kind of weird, but they're happy and having fun, so I'm not complaining.  (They also rigged a bucket up to be a chicken swing, but apparently that wasn't a huge success amongst the hens.  Go figure.)

We had parent-teacher conferences with Kendra's and Bentley's teachers, and were not surprised to learn that Kendra is doing well in all her subjects (especially math, which made me happy because I suspected she was probably pretty good at math) and is super friendly to all the kids in her class.  She's my little peace maker, so that was also not a surprise.  But it was still nice to hear.

She also just lost one of her front teeth and now the other one is loose, too.  She's very excited about that!

And Bentley continues to be a fascinating study in extremes.  He is usually super helpful-- if I ask him to do something, he'll just pop up and do it.  Except when he's not.  And then he'll pitch a fit and be so ridiculous about the whole thing that I want to throw him.  (I don't, though.)  According to his teacher, he's doing great in school and made friends with some really good kids.  Except he constantly complains about how much he misses his friends in Manassas (even though we rarely saw those friends since one of them was being homeschooled and another moved to China).  But then when I asked if he wanted to go to Manassas on Saturday, he said No!  So I think we're dealing with some major "grass is always greener" issues...  Also, while I'm on the subject, he wants everything he sees, but then as soon as he has it, he's bored by it and wants the next thing.  I don't think this is too unusual in a kid, although I think he's a bit extreme this way.  I hope he'll grow out of it eventually, though, or else I fear for the girls he dates some day...

So yes, Bentley is at times a bit of a puzzlement.  But I think he's getting better at dealing with his (sometimes rather intense) emotions.  And the times when it's just him in the car with me, we usually have really interesting discussions, so that's pretty awesome.  It's awfully fun to genuinely enjoy your kids' company, especially since he'll put up with me raving about how amazing George Washington was!
Wearing an Angry Birds costume during scouts.  I'm not really sure why...?

So that's where we are these days!  As I was searching through the pictures on my phone I found a ton that never made it onto the blog, so I suspect I'll need to do a major picture post some time soon.  You have been warned!  Maybe then I can add in all the stuff I forgot to write here about these crazy kids of mine!

Ta ta for now!

That's my crew!  (Minus Camille, who was strapped to my chest)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Packing Woes

Okay, I just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows today (SO GOOD!!!  HOW ARE ALL THESE BOOKS STILL SO GOOD?!?!?!?!) so I should be able to start blogging again now.

For today, I thought I'd try to make you laugh to make up for my extended absences.  We'll see if I can pull that off...

So!  When Craig and I were dating, we went to Las Vegas for a long weekend.  My aunt and uncle live there, so we had a free place to stay (Thank you, Bruce and Leanne!) and we enjoyed touring the strip and seeing the Blue Man Group perform and continuing to get to know one another.  (I remember that after our drive back to Provo, we sat in the car still talking away a mile a minute and I thought to myself, I could marry this guy.)  The only real glitch in our trip was when we were getting ready to go to church with my uncle and his family ('cuz everyone goes to church when they're in Vegas, right?) and Craig discovered that he'd forgotten to pack his church shoes!  It wasn't a big deal-- he just wore his tennis shoes, and it looked kind of stupid.  No biggie.

Little did I know that this was setting a precedent for our married lives together.  As we began our married lives together, Craig would routinely forget to pack things like his toothbrush or his contact lens solution. 

And now, with each kid that we add to the mix, we just keep getting worse at it all.  So today, I'm proud to present you with a list of

Things We Have Forgotten to Pack

1)  On a trip to Hershey, we forgot all the kids' toothbrushes.  Oops.  We were only there for a few days, so we just didn't brush their teeth.  I was okay with that until my sister ran by trying to floss her own kids' teeth and it occurred to me that I might be a terrible mother.

2)  In New York, we somehow ended up with no shirts for Bentley.  Except the one he was wearing.  A trip to Wal-Mart was in order...

3)  Another trip to Las Vegas, Craig managed to not pack any underwear for himself.  None. At all.  My sister got to take him underwear shopping while I was at some other activity.  It's nice that Craig can bond with my sisters in weird ways like this....  And, I'm not sure I've ever seen my Dad laugh so hard.

4)  Our first Sunday going to church after Kendra was born, and we were all freaked out about having TWO KIDS at church, we showed up and realized we'd forgotten the diaper bag.  Big oops.

5)  We stayed at a Bed & Breakfast with Camille and forgot ALL OUR LUGGAGE.  This time the only thing we had was the diaper bag.  I guess we were lucky we had that...  Also, within ten seconds of realizing we hadn't brought our suitcases, a wasp landed on my bottom lip and stung me.  It swelled up to enormous proportions and I looked a Kardashian.  Our trip went from awesome to awful in 30 heartbreaking seconds.

I'm not sticking that lip out at all.  That's really what it looked like.
6)  I'm not sure I've ever remembered to pack flashlights any time we've gone camping.  It's annoying not having them.

7)  Craig once showed up for the father-son campout without his tent...  Fortunately the bishop had a spare.

8)  Last Sunday, we forgot to bring a binkie for Camille.  Five kids and we still make amateur mistakes like that...  (Fortunately our home teachers had given us Halloween treats for the kids, and included in that were Puffs for babies.  Those kept her happy the entire third hour.)

So anyway, when we went to Williamsburg, Craig didn't have time to pack, so he asked if I could do it for him.  I hedged a bit, saying that I was worried I wouldn't know all the stuff he needed me to bring-- like contact lenses and hair gel that I don't use.  He just laughed and said, "Well, I don't exactly have the best track record there, so you probably can't do worse than I've done!"

True dat. 

I didn't forget a thing.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Story of My Life

You guys.

I survived October!

I survived preschool.  I survived Halloween and the kids all had costumes (mostly thanks to Craig, as usual) and we all had fun and it was great.

And just when I was thinking I might start getting a few things done, I ran out of books from the library so I just picked up Harry Potter and started reading one of those again.  I started with Goblet of Fire, because I think the mystery within that book is amazing and now I'm working on Order of the Phoenix and (even though it's my least favorite in the series) I CANNOT PUT IT DOWN.  How many times have I read these books and they are still so good???

I'm in awe.

I did finally get some books from the library, too, but it's looking like they'll have to wait until I get through Deathly Hallows.

What's a girl to do?

I know I should be getting other stuff done.  But I don't really care. 

Harry Potter rocks.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Why I Haven't Blogged in a While...

Here are the things I've been doing this month:

1) I'm running Ryder's preschool.  I managed to form a coop preschool group in my new ward, and this is my month to be in charge.  Every time I do stuff like this I always feel like I'm doing everything wrong and stressing everybody (self included) out.  In this case, I'm pretty sure a big part of the problem is that while Ryder is 4-and-a-half years old and just missed the kindergarten cut-off by a couple months, all the other kids are only 3-and-a-half years old.  (Because most of the kids who are Ryder's age turned five two months before him and started kindergarten.)  It turns out that when you're trying to do crafts with a bunch of kids, a year makes a BIG difference in their fine motor skills!

Add to that moms that are occasionally late to pick up their kids (which makes me want to tear my hair out) and another mom asking if the foster kid she just took in could join up for a few weeks (my weeks, of course-- and our curriculum only has supplies for the number of kids we already specified) AND Camille crying any time I'm not holding her AND Ryder crying because...  honestly, I don't even know why Ryder was crying...  Because it was at our house?...  Anyway, it's all very exhausting.

I have many friends who have worked for various preschools.  Clearly, I am not cut out for this kind of work.  I tip my hat to you, friends who enjoyed working for a preschool.

2) We put Bentley and Kendra in the local soccer league.  And man, is soccer a pain.  I intentionally signed them both up for Tuesday practice, so we would have our other evenings free, but their playing fields are 20 minutes apart, so on days like yesterday when I had to take them both, it meant dropping Bentley off at practice, then Kendra, then turning around and picking up Bentley from his practice and immediately going to get Kendra.  We got dinner at a drive-through and headed home, and I figure we'd clocked 2.5 hours in the car.  And scouts had been cancelled, or it would have been a LOT longer!  Saturday mornings are fairly similar, although sometimes there's time to go home between the games, so that's nice at least.  Let's just say that when we had one crazy rainy week where everything was canceled, I did not cry about it.

3) We had a yard sale.  The whole thing was organized by our neighborhood, so that meant I could finally clear out some of our toys without having to put signs up all over the place.  (I actually had big plans to do this back in the spring, but the move and the kitchen remodel nixed my yard sale ideas.)  My sister Tracy happened to be here (see #4) and she was a HUGE help getting things all organized.  It took us two days to get all the toys laid out in the garage and all their pieces matched back together.  (Lots of people who stopped by commented on how impressive it was that we had all the parts for most of our toys.)  I was kind of stressing out about the whole thing the night before-- did we have stickers to mark prices? How should we lay it all out?-- when Craig very calmly reminded me that the only reason we were doing this was to get rid of stuff.  So the worst thing that could happen would be if we gave it all away for free.  So, basically, we couldn't fail.  This helped me immensely.  Craig is-- as always-- a very good match for me.

This was during the organizing stage.  I turned in a complete circle to get this panorama.

Craig and Camille just happened to be coordinated, so I had to document it.  So classy in red and grey!
The yard sale went well and I'm enjoying having a little more space in the house.  But I wouldn't call it a fun thing to do.  Fortunately, the last thing on this list was VERY fun....

4) Craig and I went to Williamsburg!
After we enjoyed his last conference so much, we were quick to sign up for another one, this time in Colonial Williamsburg.  It was a lot of work getting things as ready as possible before I left Tracy in charge of our rather numerous offspring-- I think I did six loads of laundry the day before we left!  And having that yard sale right beforehand definitely threw me off of my A-game.  Camille also made us very nervous about leaving her when she refused to let Tracy feed her solids the day Tracy arrived and wouldn't take a bottle the first time we tried, but after those initial scares, she calmed down and was great for Tracy, so she got left behind, too.  (But if she had decided not to eat, we figured we could meet up in the middle and pass her back to me, so she wouldn't have starved!)

It turned out to be three days with no kids for me!

We took off Tuesday morning, arriving in time to check into our hotel and grab some lunch before the first session of Craig's conference (where, he found out, lunch was served-- oops).  I took a quick nap (all that laundry wore me out) and then headed out to the Revolutionary City.
I was kind of in awe of just how big these oxen are-- see the guy behind them???  They're huge!!!

I made a big mistake by not buying a ticket for that first day.  I was trying to save money, but the next day I ended up just getting a pass that was good for the rest of the year, so it would have been smarter to have bought it right from the beginning.  Live and learn.  Without a pass, I only had access to the stores on the main street, and those were pretty fun to explore for a couple quick hours.

The next day I went whole hog, with my pass on a lanyard around my neck and running from place to place trying frantically to make it to everything I found interesting.  Lectures presented by George Washington!  Tours of the Governor's Palace!  A debate between Patrick Henry and James Madison!  For the next two days I crammed in as much as I possibly could, and mostly came away feeling like I REALLY needed to study my U.S. history a lot more.  (To that end, I just requested Washington: the Indispensable Man from the library-- squee!!!)

George Washington with some other people I don't know.  This guy was great-- and I loved that he'd been a history major with a minor in performance art.  I guess this was the right job for him!

So I kept busy.  In the evenings, Craig and I would go to dinner and even managed to see a couple movies (The Martian, and The Walk, where I learned that I have a total fear of heights.  I walked out of that movie a complete stress case...)  We also did one of the Ghost Tours that the town offers, which was fun.
Did I mention that the weather was absolutely PERFECT???  Check out that gorgeous October sky!

Friday, Craig's conference ended and we toured everything together.  I made sure he saw all the stuff that I thought was particularly interesting (like the Capitol Building and the jail).
Peaking out of the cell where Blackbeard's pirates were held until trial

And Craig managed to sign us up for a backstage tour of the fifes and drums, which was probably our favorite thing-- these kids get on a waiting list at the age of 8, and then when they're 10, if they're accepted, commit to spend the next EIGHT YEARS being part of the town's programs!!!  I can't imagine committing to anything like that, but especially not as a kid!  Wow...
Getting everyone riled up for the Battle of Yorktown!
Anyway, I ran myself ragged.  I had terrible shin splits by the end of it all (I guess flipflops aren't meant for walking 5+ miles a day in...), but I had a wonderful time.  This was kind of the opposite of our previous conference, where I was 8 months pregnant at a beach town in the winter and spent the entire time we were away either reading in bed or napping...

Tracy took great care of the kids while we were gone, as evidenced by the fact that they were all still alive AND very sad to see her go.  I think they were more sad for her leaving than when I left!

Tracy hiking with all the kids-- it's hard to take a selfie that includes six (wiggly) people!

She took the boys to Monticello, and then to UVA campus where Ryder recognized Thomas Jefferson and remembered that they'd gone to the place where he was buried!  So Tracy was a good babysitter AND a good tutor!

At Bentley's soccer game, before we had to take Tracy to the airport

So, to sum up, October has been crazy busy and crazy awesome.  And there's still 10 days left to go!