Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas

Christmas Eve we had the traditional carol singing and pizza eating at Nona and Papa's house. My boys were excited to open new jammies.



As we were trying to dress the babies, we thought they were so cute as they kept trying to nakedly escape. Just 19 months ago we were all pregnant with these toddlers.


And then we tried to take a cousins picture. One cousin was having a tired, emotional breakdown. The others headed that way as we tried to get them all to smile.

Note -- Andrew wanted to "hold a baby, too," so he grabbed 2 year old cousin Aaron around the neck.


Note -- Benny acting like Spiderman on his jammies.



Note -- James and Kate trying to escape, Phin trapped at the back, Aaron slowly losing breath.


Note -- Max smiling through it all.



Christmas morning, JB woke up at 6:43 to the sound of Benny snooping around the tree. We made him wait with the other boys until it was officially time to open presents.


Legos are always a hit for presents.



Andrew got a Turtle backpack and walkie-talkies.


James got his own water bottle, and tried to claim Andrew's new water bottle as his own, too.


And then he tried to unplug the tree.


We looked outside then, to see snow! A white Christmas.



Jamesey liked it, until he took off his mittens.


I think it was his first time in snow. He was too young last winter.

We have had a peaceful, really nice holiday time. I have had several days off work, to play with the boys, spend time with JB, craft, bake, mend, sew, read, watch shows and sleep in. I should do this more often.

December happenings

For a long time, December was quite warm. Our tree is the last to shed its leaves (I remember raking while big and pregnant with my two December babies in years past), so while we were waiting for our tree to finish, we raked other people's yards for service -- and to keep the kids busy.

Part of the process involves getting into the can to smush down the leaves. This moment below is at our neighbor's house.  Not long after this, Andrew realized he had lost part of the Lego Mini-Figure he brought with him. Tears ensued. And tears from Benny, because it was his mini-fig.


After Benny's birthday brought us more Lego Star Wars, I spotted this addition to one of our nativity sets. "And there were in that same country, stormtroopers...."


Max's 4th-grade classes were invited to be a part of the St Martin's Lantern Parade at This is the Place Heritage State Park. They came singing down the main way, holding their lanterns. I spotted President Dieter F. Uchtdorf there, too, as it was a German traditional evening.



While Max was with the classes getting ready at the top of the street, Benny and Andrew and I met St Nicholas.  Andrew had just found a stick ("light saber") and was carrying it around with him.



So on Instagram I had the caption, "When meeting Santa, speak loudly and carry a little stick."



A few days before Christmas, my mother-in-law helped me finally finish James's stocking.  Years ago when Max was a baby and we did his stocking, she said "We'll do red for your boys and green for your girls."

Ahem.

Anyway, I love love these stockings and these boys all in a row.


The morning before Christmas Eve, while I was at work, JB took the boys to the Grand America downtown to see the window displays and gingerbread houses.




When I came home, he took the older two to Braza Grill with a coupon. Theses boys they love the never-ending skewers full of meat.




Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Andrew is 4

The week before Christmas, my baby who was put in a stocking at the hospital, turned 4 years old.

On his birthday, it was my turn to host our neighborhood joy school. The night before, while Max was at scouts, Benny helped me make rush to make snowman cupcakes before bedtime. James tried to reach up to help, and Andrew climbed INTO the sink to try and swipe some frosting.  Just keeping it more real than the bloggers who simply post a beautiful picture of their culinary craftiness, like it ain't no thing.


Andrew had some next afternoon with his preschool buddies.....


...whom he loves with all his heart.



He requested McDonalds for dinner. Done.


The boys helped me make a dinosaur bedsheet and pillow case from material from Nona's nice fabric stash.


Then on Sunday, I -- in a fit of more culinary craftiness -- made him an alligator cake to celebrate after dinner at Nona and Papa's house. Very fitting for our Andrew-alligator.



Nona gave him a Star Wars Lego mini-fighter. After this picture, he leaped off the bar stool in his joy.


Benny the master-builder helped set it up.

It is now a display-only model, because Andrew kept leaving it places or losing pieces off the edges. At 4, he wants to be big, but is still kinda small.

Andrew is hilarious and frustrating sometimes, sweet and sassy, but always huggable. He would rather jump and climb than sit on the couch or his primary chair,, he screams loudly if he's not getting his way while playing with Benny (making us yell from upstairs at Benny), he can still fall asleep anywhere, and when I asked him if he wanted to move his bed back into James's room to sleep with him, he told me, "But then I wouldn't see da boys!"

He has big eyes and a big personality that refuses to get lost in the middle of the other boys. It's fun to take him just one-on-one somewhere, because he talks and talks finally without anyone talking over him.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas smiles

Despite James and Andrew's best efforts, I think we got a good family picture this year for the Christmas card. Andrew kept closing his eyes, and Jamesy kept throwing a fit.

And I, again, stressed over what as the one female around here should wear. I settled on pink to represent, and then we picked a black and white picture.

 
Many thanks to JB's sister Suzanne for taking the picture in our side yard, and for doing the best "Look up here! Look up here!" I have heard since The Three Amigos.
 




 
In the days before digital cameras, that last one would probably have been the one we were stuck with.
 
To quote Napoleon Dynamite,  "That's the one. That one is going to turn out real nice."
 
Merry Christmas from our family to yours!



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

James is 18 months

On Benny's birthday, we had another milestone. James is now 18 months old.

In our church, it means he can now go to nursery. In James's mind that would be a big NOPE. I tried it half-heartedly on Sunday, staying with him instead of the drop-and-run, because I know he is clingy to me and I know most of those kids will go to the Sr Nursery in just a few weeks. Then I'll try again.

I promise I'm not trying to keep him a baby. I mean, look at how grown up! He can climb up on things with his big-brother-bestie and his twin-cousin-bestie.


He likes to get into things he shouldn't. All. The. Time.  I don't think we've ever had a child test the child locks on cupboards like he does. So he empties the drawers he can reach.  We've also never had one who likes to color on walls or tables or himself or Mommy's white shirts. Andrew was bad, but Jamesy -- let's just say we talk about pens/pencils/crayons and FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY TAKE THAT AWAY FROM THE BABY!!



"Who, me?"

He's had another haircut recently, and is doing much better at eating. He had to have a weight check in the fall when he didn't gain much. Now he's 25 pounds 14 ounces and the doctor is pleased.

She also liked how many words he says, and that he runs (it's a milestone for her, a bit of a pain for us when he darts down the sidewalk and darts out onto the court during Jr Jazz basketball games).

He says "no no!" and shakes his finger. He says "huuuggg" as he head bonks you with his arms around your neck. He knows many body parts and can "ding dong" his own belly button on demand. He hums "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing," and "Horsey, Horsey, on Your Way."  I swear we should charge tickets.

James is a stinker about clothing though. He tries to take it all off. Thankfully we have hats that strap under his chin so he can't tear them off during walks and get cold.


He is becoming a screamer when he doesn't get his way, as evidenced below:

(more from our Christmas card photo shoot in an upcoming post)


He is also becoming a bad sleeper again, waking JB up early after I have left at 4 AM. I think it's these molars. Darn darn molars.

But he is smiley and sweet, and we are grateful for his healthy and normal development and progress. It's good to have four good boys.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Ben is seven

Benny has informed his classmates shyly that he does not want to be called "Benny-boy." I have experimented calling him Ben more often, but Benny just sticks.  Of course he's BENJAMIN!! when in trouble.

Which isn't tooooo often.....

Back to his birthday! He turned 7 earlier this week. A tall skinny energetic 7 who loves Legos and Pokemon.

We went to Wingers, where we gave him his present during dinner.



For our celebration Sunday dinner with the family the next day, I stayed up late attempting my first Pokemon-themed cake. It's a buttercream transfer method, where you pipe backwards onto a drawing on parchment paper, freeze it, then flip it onto the cake and say a prayer while peeling the parchment paper off.



Nice, right?

Benny is very cute with baby James. He is very competitive with Max. He is fair-minded with Andrew (meaning checking to make sure they get the same treatment). He is focused and task oriented. Jr Jazz has started again, and scrappy Benny-ball-game gets right in there. But besides sports, he really wishes I would allow him to play games more often on my phone.

He is growing up, but also tries to stay little, asking us to cut his pancakes and tie his shoes for him despite all our efforts at getting him some independence on these fronts.

He must always have a kiss goodnight and kisses goodbye on his cheek -- preferably more if he can rush back for more.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas with the Muppets

You guys....I met Santino Fontana and Elmo in person and they were soooo nice. Sometimes my reporter and mom worlds collide in such a nice way. 

My amazing little/big brother Joe and his also-amazing wife Susan hooked us up with four tickets to the high-demand Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert with Santino Fontana and the Seasame Street Muppets. We met them there yesterday morning.

My phone is full of these kinds of pictures, taken while waiting Sunday morning at the Conference Center before the broadcast began.

Their faces when Big Bird came out were so priceless. Especially because they had been waiting for so long for that part of the program, and had been fighting over the treats I had in my pocket. Equity-conscious Benny pouted for a while until the music began.

It was so so much fun. I am very grateful for the tickets, and my mother-in-law for watching clingy baby James, and for JB being such a good sport about missing it because he has busy Bishop tithing settlement duties this time of year.

I'm also grateful the folks in charge told me I could bring Andrew. Usually it's 8 and up only, this year they lowered it to 5 years old because of the Muppets...but I asked at the press event about a 4 year old, and they said sure.

I was sent to the press conference Friday morning for work. When my boss assigned me, I did a mental heel click and fist pump.  Here's the picture I took of the crew answering questions on the Conference Center stage:


Santino Fontana is best known these days as the voice of Hans on "Frozen."  My favorite part was when another reporter half-giggling told him he had a chocolate voice.  "Chocolate voice!" he said. "That's going to be the name of my next album."

We reporters were given specific guidelines about interviewing the Muppets: You interview the Muppet, not the puppeteer, and they are REAL, don't treat it otherwise. I had 20 minutes of tape by the end, and a 35 second story for the radio. But the rest is memories.

I have a sneaking suspicion that while the concert was supposed to be for the kids to have fun, the parents may have had more fun.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Authors and poets

I find gems on my iphone and computer sometimes, after the boys are given some practice time typing.  For instance, this poem by Benny:


I am a baller and I am getting  taller.
My name Is ben and I live In a
chicken hen.and I wrIte with a pen.
I am ben and I Like Ben Ten. 


And this poem by Max: 


My name is Max,
I hate to pay taxes, I love pizza, and I'd like to eat ya! I might love you, and I'd love to eat you to! You are so awesome, and I am a possum! I dance  karaoke and I like artichoke! My friends are cool, and I live In a pool! I like flip-flops and I also like otter pops! I have a brother named Ben, and he likes hens! I also have a brother named Andrew, and his nickname is drew! And finally James, loves his milky dreams! And Mom And Dad are rad!






Max likes practicing power point presentations with pictures and lots of exclamation points. And Benny hunt-and-pecked his way through this story, with plenty of "how do you spell __?" and in red font, no less:



Once upon a time there was a piece of pizza a hotdog a hamburger a pie and a lot of other types of foods. They all lived in one little hut. and they only had two beds at night they were all squished together the hamburger spilled ketchup on pizza,pizza throwed cheese at pie and everything went totally wild. then they all had to get in the tub. after they took their bath. they all went to bed. and they all got squished together again. in the morning they all went outside to play. and they all didn’t need lunch cuz they were lunch and they played some more in the high grasses. and pizza and hamburger played football touchdown! Yelled pizza meanwhile pie and macaroni played soccer and in the morning today was different they  then it was time for lunch so they eat them self’s and they all went to bed  cuz they were sick in the well if you know what I mean but today was different they didn’t go outside they stayed inside and did nothing the oldest thought they were sick but they were they did not tell zzzzzzzzzzz snored pizza I wish I could watch a show said hamburger maybe he was right I think I’m sick said pie the next day It was the same they didn’t play outside they stayed inside all day. now they were sick the oldest checked there temperature you guys have a fever they didn’t want to go to the doctor so they held an emergency meeting and hamburger said to hide. the next day he was looking for them but they were hiding they were hiding all day until  he found them he said It’s too Late to go to the doctor  so the next day It was the same but in a different spot and for two weeks It continued




But after the two weeks they were not sick anymore and they kept playing football and soccer in the tall grassy yard. Pizza and hamburger kept yelling touchdown! Pie and macaroni kept yelling goal! And now they play outside every day! And they never got sick Again. The next day they went on a trip to Los Angeles Cal/Serra they had to stop in Las Vegas they stopped at a hotel in Las Vegas when they got there they were sad that there was no yard but what about the pool said the oldest. They felt a little better they went inside to their room (cool!) Said pizza @@@@ hamburger fainted it had a king size bed a fridge full of candy and food! How about we go to the pool said the oldest yeah! They all shouted cow a Bunga they had so much Fun. They spent three hours swimming and after they ate they went inside wow! I didn‘t know there was A computer! They had to take turns Level 14! Said pizza I’m on level 21! Said hamburger everyone said there level they wanted to take a nap.



 

He says he's not done yet.  I see a lot of imagery here that pertains to his real life, in how the main characters interact and what they do.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Of forgiveness and gratitude

"Be a JOURNALIST!"

The words felt like a slap in the face, flung at me after I questioned our coverage of a controversial national story.

This was the second time a colleague said this to me in the newsroom surrounded by our peers.

This time I left for home nearly in tears.  I don't know why it hurt me so much.

Perhaps it's because for years, I have left my family in the middle of the night to "be a journalist."

Perhaps it's because I'm finding it harder and harder to stand up for my beliefs. To keep my ideals in this news business that is turning more yellow, more mean, more sensational.

Perhaps it's because I hate confrontation and having it come right to my face was too much for me to handle.

I stewed over it for a few days.

I thought of ways to give this colleague the cold shoulder. To be crisply polite only. To walk away when they are in the room.....to daydream of boiling them in oil.....

But then a thought came into my mind, about a weight, in a backpack, being carried around.

You see, the Sunday before this happened, I taught our primary the lesson in the manual about forgiveness. As outlined, I brought in a weight and explained that it represented hurt feelings, anger, or sadness we sometimes get from others' actions.  Then I put the weight in a backpack and had a little volunteer try to carry it around the room.

It's hard to do. And it's only you carrying the weight, not that other person, who may not even realize they hurt you.

I told the kids about forgiveness and letting go of that weight through Jesus Christ.

When all of this flooded into my mind -- I was standing at the stove in the kitchen -- I felt this big rush of realization. I needed to let this go.

And I need to let go of so many other things. Guilt that I'm not a good enough mother. Worries about my boys' future. An old depression that keeps resurfacing.

And the next day, this quote from President Henry B. Eyring's official Facebook page came through my feed:

"To find gratitude and generosity when you could reasonably find hurt and resentment will surprise you. It will be so surprising because you will see so much of the opposite: people who have much more than others yet who react with anger when one advantage is lost or with resentment when an added gift is denied."

I know the atonement of Jesus Christ is the ultimate  gift. He can take away my hurts, help me forgive others, and help me be forgiven for all my faults. 

Now to to put it to work.

#sharethegift

Monday, December 1, 2014

News and notes

JB put up outdoor Christmas lights at least a week ago. Hug, kiss, heel click! They even have a remote to push from inside.

In exchange, I agree to put the Christmas tree downstairs in the family room (by the boys' room), instead of in our living room on the main floor. The decorated tree makes the living room feel crowded.

Benny said, "Fine, I'll just come out right away and open all the presents then."
I said, "Nope."

We went to the zoo last Wednesday with my brother Joe, Susan and their sweet baby Kaylee. It was 60 degrees and a free day, and all of Utah came, too.

We were shoulder to shoulder and stroller to stroller.

But Andrew-alligator was sooo happy to see the crocodiles.


James didn't want to leave my arms for a picture of the boys in front of the crocodiles.


His face! He loves his momma. He's old enough for nursery on Sunday. I don't think he's going to want to leave my hip.

Thanksgiving dinner was relaxing and stress-free for our family. This is because my in-laws did the heavy lifting/baking/cooking/roasting. And the nice weather meant kids could play outside.

We did a thankful tree, with one word on a leaf.

Me: Sleep
JB: Peaceful moments
Max: cruises
Benny: hamburgers (I have a sneaking suspicion he couldn't think of his own so he borrowed one from Max)
Andrew: Legos
James: Mommy

On Saturday I took the boys to the library, then to the pet store in the same parking lot as we sometimes do.

Max and Benny begged me for a fish (see above note about crowded living room), then they wanted a bird (I clean up enough poo), and sulked at my answers.

But Andrew was estatic to see the aquarium of turtles: "Hi turtles!!!! It's me, Andrew!"

And we checked out the same Lego: Legends of Chima DVD that we had just returned. Just another copy so surely it was a different movie. Nope.

I worked all last week (even Thanksgiving morning and Black Friday morning), filling-in for the producer on vacation.

I had to be in at 3 AM, making me tired and grumpy and snappish from the less sleep and more stress. I yelled at a couple co-workers and yelled at my children and cried a few times.

It helped that I got good naps and was able to play outside with my boys, and watch some of  Holiday Inn and Meet Me in St Louis. Now all I need are White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life to feel like I'm really in the holiday mood.

And on Sunday we practiced the nativity with the primary. Such cute little angels and shepherds they will be this coming Saturday at the church party. And Benny is such a serious wiseman. It reset my attitude for the reason for the upcoming season.