Sunday, April 9, 2017

Happy Birthday Sammy!

On April 2, this little human turned two years old.  He gave up his pacifier the Sunday before his birthday, and spent the week asking first about his pacifiers, by name.  That they had names was a big sign that it was time to give them up.  There were just three of them.  Tiny pacifier, BIG pacifier (the one attached to a line to clip to his shirt), and other pacifier.  There were a couple of other pacifiers floating around, but they were never named.  When he was persuaded that the pacis weren't coming back, he started asking sad little questions like, "Too old for my fuzzy blanket, too? Too old for Froggie?" Two weeks later, pacifiers are hardly missed.  
 Against my wishes, Sammy started potty training at the same time he gave up his pacifier. Potty training wasn't even going to be on my radar until late summer.  When we got back from Utah, I tried to put him back in cloth diapers after two weeks in disposables, and he refused as often as he accepted a diaper change, so potty it is.  I keep fruit snacks around to use as potty treats.  This boy would walk through fire for "root nacks." He is currently using the potty during the day about 80% of the time.  I still try to talk him into diapers, but he asks to use the potty, even with diapers on. All of the kids are cheering for him and helping him.  He comes to ask for his root nack by saying, "Jared help me! Need root nack!"
 Sammy loves balls, transportation, ninja turtles, books, coloring, animals, and bike riding.  He is heavily influenced by his older siblings.  In fact, that list looks like a summary of all of their favorites.  He also loves playing with water.  This hasn't been great, since we have a septic system, and it has been raining constantly since October.  The amount of rain we are getting is abnormal even for Seattle. We had to get our septic system serviced a couple of weeks ago to take care of a clog that was making our toilets back up into the tubs when we flushed.  We got the clog because of the backup of water from the slow draining septic tank.  The water backlog was compounded by some child washing their hands in the downstairs sink, walking away with the water running hard, and leaving it that way for THREE HOURS before I noticed it.  I have to keep a close eye on Sammy to make sure he isn't playing in the sink.  He was probably not the culprit in the downstairs sink incident (he can't turn that one on by himself), but he does love to fill cups and dump them.  I'm rethinking my brilliant idea of replacing our sink faucets with ones that are easier for the kids to turn on for themselves.
 Speaking of messy habits, Sammy seems to be the idea man for a lot of trouble that he and B get in together.  For example, I was setting the table for dinner by putting out bowls of burrito toppings, and Sammy thought it would be fun to put all of the green onions in the cheese bowl.  B thought it would be fun to move some toppings around, too, and in the three minutes I was out of the room, they had dumped all of the burrito toppings in a huge pile in the center of the table.
Sammy likes to color on his hands with his markers.  Occasionally I find him with marker on his arms and face, as he has been assisted by B.  If Sammy finds a pen, pencil, crayon, or marker, and he doesn't immediately find a piece of paper to color, he will color on any available surface.  We will probably have to replace everything in our house by the time he is old enough to be reasoned with.
Fortunately for Sammy, he is adorable, and very cuddly.  He likes to bring me a blanket and a book after his nap, and sit with me for a while.  He is my baby, so I try to have time for this.  When I don't have time, he is happy to sit on the counter and assist me with cooking, and he loves riding in the car.  "We on the feeway, Mama?! See a BIG Ruck!"
 Sammy likes to sing.  His favorite songs are "The Wheels on the Bus," "I am a Child of God," and "Choose the Right."  When he woke up on his birthday, his siblings started singing "Happy Birthday."  He didn't know that one, so he said, "No, no! Sing 'Choose the Right'!"  So they did.  All three verses.  With gusto.
 Sammy likes learning about space, but he identifies every object in space as either "earsss" (earth) or "moon."  He has recently started repeating everything I say back to him as a question.  This is definitely a habit he picked up from me doing this to him to confirm that I am understanding him correctly.  This makes reading his favorite books take twice as long.  Not only do I have to read it, and have him repeat my words back as a question, he also has to identify features that are familiar on every page.  His current favorite book is "Little Blue Truck."  Which now goes like this: "'Quack,' said the duck." "The duck, Mommy? Say quack?" "Yes." "Duck is righthere (all one word)!" "Yes it is." "It is, Mommy? Duck is?" and so on.
Sammy shared his birthday this year with General Conference.  Our church holds this event twice a year.  We get 8-10 hours of broadcasted instruction and music from the leaders of our church, a living prophet and his apostles in four or five sessions on the first Saturday and Sunday of April.  In our house, this is a big event.  We make cinnamon rolls, and this time the kids each picked out a craft project to do during the session.  Eloise got a mug to paint, and B got a bird house to paint.  Jared got a science kit and built a battery operated car.  I got play dough for Sammy.  
 As soon as Eloise's mug was painted, she got out the play dough and played for the remaining seven hours of conference.  I have never bought play dough before, since I hate the mess, and I think it is a bother, but all of the kids have spent hours and hours with it, so we may be play dough people now.
 It was sunny all Sunday morning, and when we headed out between sessions for a bike ride in the woods, the rain started pouring.  It was sunny again by the time we got home.  It must be spring.  General Conference was wonderful.  All of the questions I came with were answered, and I felt inspired and uplifted.
 I attempted a tres leches cake that Cheyenne made for Victoria's second birthday six weeks ago.  Mine turned into a delicious disaster.  The frosting never really set up as Cheyenne assured me it would, so we ended up with what looked like a stack of pancakes floating in syrup with sprinkles on top.  Grandpa Michael, the Christensens, and the missionaries came for dinner and cake.
 I vote Sammy my child most likely to walk into a lake in order to get his siblings attention.  This has nearly happened on multiple occasions.  He will hang back to get our attention, then one of the kids will take off after him to bring him back, leading him to run in the opposite direction while looking back over his shoulder.  He has run into lots of things this way.
He does love to run.  Happy birthday, two year old!  Please don't ever get too old for fuzzy blankets and snuggles.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

March Part II

Jared couldn't seem to get his hands in a normal position for this portrait by the pool.  I said, "Do something normal, like putting your hands on your hips."  This is what I got.  I guess with me and Todd for parents, we can't expect any regular standard of normalcy.  
 All three kids advanced to the next level of swim lessons.  The pink ribbon is for the class they completed, and the rainbow one is for the class they are starting.  Jared is in the green class.
 The next day, while Jared and Eloise were at piano lessons, I took B and Sammy to the police station to look at police cars.  The police officer kindly gave us a full tour of the facility, making us very late to pick up the kids, but B and Sammy were in heaven.  When we ask B what he is going to be when he grows up, he promptly replies that he will be "a police," and drive a race car.  This may or may not have something to do with Officer Flynn, who lives across the street from us, and his mustang that he drives when he is off duty.
 B told me that he wouldn't drive the police car because he isn't old enough.  He kept his hands far from the steering wheel, just in case that would make it move.
 Sammy had no such reservations.  "I driving!" He announced.
 B has been asking to go back ever since.  He also wants to have a police car shaped birthday cake on his birthday.  November is just around the corner in his mind.
We had a field trip to the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle.  We have been learning about Christopher Columbus, and early advances in navigation.  It is great to have this throwback to old fashioned boat making at our disposal on Lake Union.  The center is free, which is an added bonus.

 The Center for Wooden Boats is all floating.  It has areas for learning to tie knots, figure out the depth of the lake, and, best of all, we could put on life jackets and climb in and out of many of the boats.
 We were there for story time aboard the historic tugboat Arthur Foss.  After the stories, we got to wander around the boat and explore.  This boat is part of the Northwest Maritime Museum.
 Photo that includes me taken by Benjamin.


 We had a really great time, and no one fell in the lake, which was a shock to me.  We did have a couple of close calls, but bringing a leash for Sammy was a good idea.
A week after I got back from Utah, Todd had to take a trip to California for work.  While he was gone, we went to a movie that he didn't want to see.
 We also went out for dinner.  When we were deciding what we wanted for dinner, B said, "Pasta and french fries."  Who knew that such a thing could actually be ordered at the Olive Garden? Gross.
 The kids got haircuts, including Eloise.  We cut her hair to the length of her growing out bangs.  It's a good look for her.
 For history we attempted to make chocolate out of cocoa powder, since we were learning about the Aztecs.  The Aztecs only ever drank chocolate, since bar chocolate wasn't invented until the mid 19th century, but we like our chocolate in bars.  Eloise and Alice liked the bitter dark chocolate we made.  None of the other kids cared for it.
 Eloise loves to draw.  She has been checking out library books about drawing animals, since animals are another big interest of hers.  She happened upon a book about how to draw Disney characters, and broadened her horizons.  I love Eloise's artwork.
 We took a walk one day at the Kenmore pier, near the air harbor where the seaplanes anchor. We saw a couple of seaplanes taking off.  Some of the kids were reluctant to get out in the sunshine, so I let them take turns taking pictures the whole time we were on the pier and in the park.  Some of them even got faces in them.
 Jared and Eloise's piano teacher, Sam, created a card game, and invited his students to come play the game on video in exchange for a free copy of the game.  Jared loves games, so I took him over to participate.  Jared's game ended abruptly, with much screaming, when all of the cards fell off the table.  A video replay showed Jared as the culprit, accidentally nudging the table cloth just enough so that it slid off the table.  It made for very dramatic video.  
The months have flown by this year.  I seems like we were just in Arizona celebrating the New Year, and all of a sudden we were getting ready for April, and one of our favorite events of the year: General Conference.

Friday, April 7, 2017

March: Utah again

Apparently the first bite of every apple tastes the best.  
 Cold and rainy, but not too bad for going to the park.
 B brought me this dress up dress giggling.  "Help me put this on, Mommy. It will be funny!"  Jared took one look at him and burst out laughing.  B kept catching Jared's eye for the next hour, and they would both crack up every time.  After a while B got cold and wanted his regular clothes again, but I think he achieved his objective with this look.
 B found directions for building an airplane out of a paper towel roll in a Highlights magazine, and asked me to help him make it.  This was a lot of work, but he was happy with the result.
 We challenged the Christensens to a snowball battle with snowballs we got for ourselves after loving Aunt Barbara and Uncle Boyd's snowballs so much.  We had to get our game faces on for the battle.
 My mom was hospitalized at the end of February with multiple organ failure (heart and kidney) and pneumonia.  Cheyenne flew out to be with her in the hospital, but Cheyenne's due date for her new baby (affectionately known as Baby Boom Boom) is approaching, so she had to go home two days after Mama Jill was released from the hospital.  We ran into each other at the airport.  I hated leaving most of the kids, but it was important for me and Sammy to be there for Grandma Jill.
 We all stayed in Anni and Ryan's house, which was a bit cramped, being a smallish apartment, but being in close proximity always seems to get us laughing.  This can only be good for Mama Jill's breathing, right?
 I was there to help get Mama Jill to her appointments, help her with all of the new medications, and, on her physical therapist's prescription, to wake her up from her daytime naps so that she could recover more quickly.
Don't worry.  We didn't miss free pancake day at IHOP.
 After a few days, I persuaded Mama Jill to run some errands and go out for a haircut.  I know a new haircut can go a long way to making a person feel human again after a long stay in the hospital.  Mama Jill was in the hospital for nine days.
 While she was sick, some furry little roommates moved in with my mom.  Ryan and I cleaned out her apartment to remove all traces of mice before she moved home.  We didn't want her recovering from pneumonia only to catch hantavirus.
 These boys.  They got along sometimes, but they are too close in age and too bad at communicating to get along for very long.  Things were better outside, but they were very competitive over toys and bikes.


 I found this little gem in my mom's apartment.  Without reading the labels, who can guess which one is me?


 Anni got the kids engaged in scripture reading every night by singing the scriptures and getting the kids to sing backup.  This was hilarious.  I'm not sure if it actually helped them to listen, but it did get them sitting still.
 After almost two weeks in Utah, we got Grandma Jill moved back to her own house.  She was nervous and overwhelmed about getting back into her life, since she had been so sick for such a long time.  Getting around with oxygen was a trial, and there are new restrictions on her diet.  When Grandma was safely set up at home, stocked with groceries, and had a few items that had been destroyed by mice replaced, we went out for junk food.
 Sammy was excited to help with some of Grandma's unpacking when we went back the next day.
 It was nearly 80 degrees and lovely that afternoon (Saint Patrick's Day), so I made barbecue chicken sandwiches on green bread, and we went to the park at the Ogden airport so that we could watch planes take off.  This was a hit.
 Jordanne drove down from Logan to visit that night.  She is in Rome now, going to graduate school, so I'm glad I got to see her for a couple of hours while I was in Utah.
 The next day we dropped by to check on Grandma Jill, then away to the airport so that Sammy and I could come home and restore order.  Actually Todd had things perfectly under control while I was gone, even if he did feel a little isolated being a stay at home parent.  He made a deal with the kids that if they would spend two hours outside every day, he would do their chores for them.  They did it almost every day, even though it was pouring rain almost every day.
Mama Jill is doing much better.  In the two weeks since I came home, she has gotten off of supplemental oxygen during the day, and she has gone back to work.  Things are looking up for her, and I am very happy to be home.