"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life;
to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived." ~Henry David Thoreau

Friday, January 25, 2013

Baptism Preview

Love how Hailey is still sporting the Ute tattoo on her cheek?  I do.

Tonight our ward did their Baptism Preview where all the kids eligible for baptism in the next year got to come and get introduced to what it means to be baptized into Christ's fold.  I am not one to have a child be baptized simply because they are eight years old (which is the age when it's done in our church).  I think a kid needs to be really ready and understand the covenant and commitment they are making.  I love that our ward does this so kids can gather and learn all about it.  Hailey turns eight in exactly one year and can be baptized after that.  But I fully expect her to learn and develop a real testimony of HER OWN before she can be baptized.  It needs to be HER decision and something that SHE is ready for.

Ethan was asked to give a talk and bear testimony of his own experience being baptized last year.  A few days ago I sat down with him to transcribe his words onto the computer.  I was blown away at what he had to say.  Ethan really does have a love for Jesus Christ.  It's nothing we have pushed on him or coerced him into feeling.  Honestly.  He has an old soul and we tease that when he was born, he was 70 years old.  This is his talk- 90% his words and 100% his ideas.  I only filled in the gaps to make it flow better.   He's a great kid and an excellent big brother.

My name is Ethan and I want to tell you about baptism and what it was like when I was baptized.

First off, getting baptized is a blessing and a responsibility.  It's a blessing because it's something the Lord has provided for us as a way to return to Heaven.  It's a responsibility because Jesus taught us it's the only way to enter into the Kingdom of God. 

When you're baptized, you take the name of Christ.  Just like I bear my grandfather's names and treat them with respect and honor them, when I was baptized, I agreed to represent Jesus Christ and honor His name.  I also committed to be a follower of Him.

When you're baptized, you feel clean inside your heart, mind, and body.  It's like having a fresh start in life and getting a second chance.  It's like coming down from a cloud of light, straight from Jesus Christ.  You'll feel so happy and won't have any bad feelings inside your heart.  It's like you have so much love for everyone, and you want them all to have the same wonderful feeling that comes with being baptized.  You'll want to help everyone come to know Jesus Christ. 

After you're baptized, you'll receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  When I was confirmed, I felt different inside.  I felt so happy and kind and my mind was clear.  Ever since then, I've had an easier time making choices.  I have help from the spirit.  Another great thing is that I have power over Satan.  He can't control my feelings because I have a shield of light protecting my soul.  I love the protection that the Holy Ghost gives to me.

I want to bear you my testimony about the truth of the gospel.  I know this church is true.  Baptism is important because it's a pathway back to our Heavenly parents.  They love us so much and want us to return to them.  I love my Savior.  He's my big brother, which is great because I'm the oldest in my family and don't have an earthly big brother to look up to.  But I look up to Christ because He's amazing.  I want to be just like Him.  And in His name, amen.

Kangaroo Zoo

Earlier this week we were so cabin crazy, so the next day I took Lauren out of school (she is on traditional calendar) and we went and played at Kangaroo Zoo.

This was the first time I'd been by myself with all five kids.  Cody is always there when we go, but I decided to try it on my own.  Not so bad!  Garrett is old enough to do a lot of stuff on his own, so he and Devin played a lot together on the smaller kids inflatables.  I brought my laptop to work on Girl Scout stuff and set up camp by the gate to make sure none of my kids escaped.  I splurged and let them get pizza for lunch and they played for about three hours!

By the way, I am so looking forward to their April break when they are off track.  Everything is expensive indoors.  Everything costs an arm and a leg when we go anywhere!  Warm weather activities are either cheap or free.  Hiking= free.  Parks= free. Swimming= free (only because we already paid for our annual Rec Center pass). Playing outside in general= free.  AAGGHH!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Utah Gymnastics Meet

Today is Hailey's birthday and she is SEVEN years old! I blinked and now she's a giant.

Tomorrow we are actually doing her family celebration because today was so busy, so it's like she gets to have a birthday all weekend long!  Tonight we had a girls' night out and went to the Utah Red Rocks gymnastics meet.  It was a four school meet between Southern Utah, West Virginia, Oregon, and Utah.  We didn;t get to ride the train there because it doesn't run on Saturdays, and the girls were pretty disappointed by that.  But we got there plenty early and got super good parking and were there in enough time to enjoy some of the pre-game activties.  There was a clown making animal balloons, the dance team and cheerleaders were running a kid booth with fun stuff, and the food lines were very short.  So we got food, found our seats, and watched the teams warm up.

I knew our Red Rocks were good, but until seeing them against three other teams at once, I didn't realize just HOW GOOD they are.  Amazing!!  The took first place in the meet and it was so fun seeing them do so.  Possibly my favorite part was seeing how the teams really encourage and uplift each other on the team.  Maybe I am just so used to watching football and seeing how guys interact with teammates, but girls are different.  As a girl was doing a routine in the floor, her teammates were there on the sidelines doing HER routine right along with her...as encouragement.  And when a girl would vault, the others would rush to the other end and smother her with hugs, almost before she had even landed!  And when a girl fell, (like one girl on Oregon who fell off a bar and face planted on the mat) and was sobbing before her routine was finished, her teammates rushed to hug and comfort and cry with her.  You just don't see that in football!

We had a blast being together!  Toward the end of the meet the dancers made their way over to our section to mingle with the fans and the girls wanted their picture taken with one of them.

I told Cody that even more than being at the event or activity on our girls' nights, I like the getting there part.  I love the car rides and the conversations and listening to their little jibber jabber about everything they think is important and cool in life.  These are the days!

Treehouse Museum

It's so nice to have another good friend family on the same track as us! On Friday we met th Ingles in Ogden at the Treehouse Museum. And oh my gosh, it was COLD!! It was busy and we had to park a ways away and on the walk to the building, my hands actually hurt. The air was just frigid. But as soon as we were inside and got situated, the big kids ran off and we didn't see much of them the entire time. That place is pretty amazing!

I hadn't been there in a long time and I got to thinking- the last time I was there was a couple days after miscarrying a baby a few years back. I saw the bench where I sat and secretly cried, thinking I would never be happy again.  I was on a fieldtrip with Ethan's class and I tried to pull myself together for the sake of people around me.  And here I was in the present day, surrounded by my FIVE beautiful and healthy children and a wonderful friend to visit with.  I'm happy.  Some days I feel so happy that I could burst and bits of sunshine would shoot out all around me.  Life isn't perfect, but it's full of joy.  Friday was a great reminder of that.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Polar Bear Club

In my opinion, people who do not have an insatiable need for recreational water are insane. No really, I think that.  Maybe it's because I think I was born in the hull (in which my amniotic sac hadn't ruptured when my mother gave birth to me, so I was in fact born swimming.) I know that's not true, but you would think so because I love water as much as I love air.  Maybe it's because where I am from, kids are swimming on their own at three and four years old because summers literally revolve 100% around water activities.  It's a survival mechanism in Houston where the summer temps are close to that of the sun and the humidity is so thick that it's like breathing water.  All I know is that I live for the water.  There's nothing like diving into a pool or a lake or a spring and going down a dozen feet and just suspending yourself- arms and legs extended and feeling completely weightless as you feel the cool wrap around your body.  And you think "This is what floating in air feels like."

And my kids live for it too.  Have I indoctrinated them?  Perhaps a little.  But Cody says it must be genetic and all from their maternal side.  Cody's one of those insane people that I was talking about.  He can take or leave the water and I don't think he yet understands how vital recreational water activities are to my survival and sanity.  After 12 years, maybe he is getting it a little bit anyway.

It's one of the reasons my heart broke in half when I learned our kids were going to year-round school.  Summer isn't summer in January or March or any other month of the year when the thermometer doesn't read 90+ degrees.  From the second the air is warm enough, we're swimming.  And we don't stop until they are kicking us out at the end of the season.  Most of our summer hours are spent in water or around water or talking about water or dreaming about water.  So you can see the dilemma with the kids having "summer break" in the dead of winter.  It's just not the same.  We don't make annual trips to Disneyland or Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon or any of the other touristy places in which many people spend their summer break.  We swim.

The kids have been on break for four days now and today, I said "screw it".  We're swimming.  And it took me about an hour to get everyone's winter gear ready and packed because it may be 80 degrees inside the pool area, but outside it's about 15.  By the time we packed back up in the van my hair had frost on it.  But the two hours we spent in the water was worth it and then some.

Lauren spent almost the entire time throwing diving sticks into the deep-end of the leisure pool and diving to get them.  I can't believe my tiny Chudda can swim like that.  No fear with any of them!  So far each kid has proven to love (and need) the water just as much as the one before with absolutely no hesitation; and I ask myself if it's something I've given to them, or is it really just innate?   Are they born with it?  The summer weeks spent in Texas probably help, no doubt.  It's nice to spend each day walking out the backdoor and stepping into the pool and not having anywhere to go for hours on end.

And so we will likely spend many of our afternoons for the next two weeks at the Rec Center, making lemonade out of bitterly cold lemons- good thing we are a family of polar bears!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Double Trouble With Skintimate

Third can in two weeks! You think I'd learn.

Tonight while bathing the little boys, I stepped out into our connecting master bedroom to fold some more laundry on our bed.  Don't worry...I was never more than ten feet away and the sound of giggles and splashes meant the boys were fine.  Until it got very quiet and I thought I should check on them.

"Oh NOOOOO you didn't do that again!!"  I shouted.  "That's the third can you've emptied in less than a month!!"

Devin bowed his head and said "I so sorry Mom."

"You are so naughty!  Both of you!!  Naughty little boys!!  Are you going to do this again?!"

Head still bowed down, "Yes."  Well thank you for being honest, Devin!

Then while running to grab my camera, I heard Devin saying with delight "Look!  There's soap on my penis!"  I walked back in to find Garrett licking the shaving gel from his leg.  What's wrong with these nasty little guys?  But oh....how they make me laugh!  They take baths in out big tub and again, I forgot and left my shower gel down low instead of putting it back up on the ledge when I was done with it.  When will I learn?   Then while getting the boys dressed for bed I said "Mmmmm, you smell just like Mommy's legs."  Cody heard that in the other room and told me it's a really weird thing to say.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

On Hating IKEA, But Loving Good Kids

Of course Lauren has to do a crossed eyed face.

Day two of kids being off track.  This is going to be a long three weeks.  Anyone who likes year round school is out of their flippin' mind, that's all I will say about that.  Finding things that we can ALL do when it's almost zero degrees outside is difficult.  And it makes things harder that Lauren is on a traditional school schedule so we really don't have a normal break.  Oh well.  I'm trying to make lemonade out of these bitterly cold lemons.

Lauren had ballet this morning but we "accidentally" missed it.  I wanted at least one morning to have nowhere to go or do...kind of like summer.  She hasn't missed a class all term so I didn't feel bad about it.  I needed to get a few things from IKEA so we headed out there a little before noon.  It's almost a thirty minute drive out there so I don't go often.  But on Tuesdays kids eat free so we went.  I have to admit something- I kind of hate IKEA.  And not for the normal reasons to hate a store.  I like the merchandise and it's a fun place for kids to explore.  But I hate how the store is laid out to make you go through the ENTIRE FREAKING THING just to buy a lamp.  It's set up like a labyrinth and even the elevators only go one way.  You find an elevator and you think "Finally!  A way out!"  But nope-  that elevator only goes up.  So you have to go through the entire upstairs to find one that goes down.  They are not dumb.  They want you to buy stuff so while finding your way out of the maze, you fill your basket with worthless stuff.

And what's with those carts?  I HATE the carts!  They have spherical wheels so turning them is a nightmare!  And every time I'm in IKEA I am overcome with feelings of morning sickness.  It's in my head, but there very first time I went there I was newly pregnant with Devin and I puked twice in the store bathrooms.  Just the smell of the place brings those feelings back.  I know hating IKEA is probably unAmerican, but that's okay.  It's a Swedish place.

When we pulled into the parking lot, I turned to the backseat and started my typical threats to the kids.  How they should behave, what's good and what's not, and what would happen if they behaved poorly.   And then something came out of me, I swear, by inspiration.  I told them about a points system that would earn them rewards or punishment.  In my mind I suddenly created something that grabbed their interest.  

I told them that everyone was starting with five points and that the goal was to still have five points when we arrived home that afternoon.  Every time they misbehaved or disobeyed, they lost a point.  As long as their points weren't at ZERO, they had the opportunity to earn a point back for improved bahavior or a helpful deed (running to catch a little brother etc).  When we got home, whoever had five points got a prize.  Any time I use the word "prize" it pricks their interest!  So during the whole excursion, they were actually on good behavior....constantly asking me if they still had all their points.  Who knew that a simple game would produce such good results?  When we got home their prize was a treat from the treat basket (where we keep all the Little Debbie snacks).  I am a genius!

Monday, January 14, 2013

First Day Off Track

The kids went off track today and will be home for the next three weeks. And today the thermometer read 7 degrees, so this is going to be a FANTASTIC break. Lots of cabin craziness is insured to happen!  My friend Debbie is in nursing school and the semester starts tomorrow.  Today she had some last minute school errands to run, so I told her to bring her oldest three kids over to play for the day because her kids are on the same track as ours.  We love having other five kid family friends!  I was happy to give Debbie a break and the kids had a blast playing together.  We're lucky that our kids get along fantastically!  It was a day of a lot of:
Dress up (or "costuming" as boys call it) and Nerf/light saber wars
A healthy lunch of Mac 'n Cheese with hotdogs

Little girl makeovers
Wii battles

Fruitloop necklace making
(Devin would rather eat a real bowl of Fruitloops)
Spiderman watching
And brownie cupcake making (FHE treat for tonight).  Unfortunately Garrett wasn't feeling well and spent all afternoon sleeping, so there's no pictures of him.  All together it was a really fun day for us!  I didn't get a lick of laundry done and the bathrooms really need cleaning, but playing is waaaaaay more important, right?