Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fall Break Stay-cation

Our school district does short summers so that we can have longer breaks when the weather is beautiful.  Mariah had 2.5 weeks off of school for fall break!  It was amazing.  We had us a wonderful little stay-cation and spent many hours outside.
You can't have a fall break without visiting a pumpkin patch.  Schnepf Farms is rated one of the best in the nation.  Rides, shows, zip-lines, bounce pads, hayrides, giant slides etc.  The kids had a ball!  Benson ended up crashing in the stroller without a peep so we weren't forced to leave for naps.  We ended up spending as many hours here than we did at Knott's Berry Farm.  
It was all fun and games until we attempted the four acre corn maze.  I figured it was MUCH smaller than the 10 acre so that must mean it's for kids.  Well we all discovered that 4 is still a large area.  We got lost big time.  Just mom and four little frustrated kids.  We even cut through the corn several times and couldn't find our way.  After FOREVER, we made it out THE ENTRANCE!  All that walking and we were at the beginning?  I'm done with corn mazes!
A good friend of mine hooked us up with free tickets to the zoo.  It even happened to have a Lego exhibit going on at the time and Zach had heard about it and had been begging to go.  This Lego lover was in awe at what they could build.  I think he's picked a new career.
Emerson, Brie, Mariah, Zach
I'm not a huge fan of the zoo myself.  Animals just lay there, often in the back corner, and do nothing.  However, my kids love it and Benson was no exception.  He went crazy when he spotted the animals.  You see a face like this and somehow it becomes pure joy for me to go to the zoo.  I guess that's what they call 'living life through a child's eyes'.  
The low light and failed attempt was the reptile museum.  Adam got tickets from work and the kids hated it!  An hour drive each way and we were there 30 minutes.  When we arrived and they saw that a 5 foot crocodile wasn't in a cage and people were holding the snakes they went nuts.  After that they wouldn't even look at the ones behind glass.  It offered no security!  We did get to see babies crocodiles as they hatched though, which was pretty cool.  Clay was the only one who was brave enough to feed the turtles...from outside the fence...I don't think his arm could get any longer.  He kept his distance!  What happened to my kids?  Not that long ago these kids were willing to pet a giant snake and now they cry if it's caged!
My favorite activity of the week was the Intel Mile Fun Run we did. It was super hero themed with capes and all.  
Mariah and Zach ran the whole way and even "trained" for it by running 20 laps in the backyard several nights (aka .1 mile) lol.  One of the kids was more positive about the run than the other.  See if you can guess which from the picture (with a good zoom that face is epic).
Zach seriously did so great and was so optimistic even though you could tell he was tired.  He kept on running and saying "I've got this".  Mariah made me hold her hand and said she felt like she was going to die and that her side hurt!!!  One is more drama than the other.  Once they got their metals and got to jump in bounce houses though, life was good. 
A few other activities were an outdoor movie at the park with popcorn and friends, Little Rembrandt class where they built sculptures out of colored sugar cubes and glitter glue, and Messy Play class with pumpkin goos and fall smells.

The boys had preschool a few days that Mariah was off so with extra car seats and less kids, I picked up one of her besties, Peyton, and went to play with just the girls...and the little brother who doesn't compete for attention enough to bother her.  Of course of all the things to do, she picked play games at the Soda Shop.  Seriously, this girl loves her soda...and her poses.
Speaking of extra kids, sometimes people think 4 is the new 10.  All the time people comment on how they grew up with 10 siblings, or 8 or whatever and so they get how crazy my life is.  Um 10!  I'm pretty sure adding 6 more kids, S-I-X makes a big difference and my life isn't even comparable to that.  But these days, at least not around other LDS people, it looks just as insane.  However, it's not that bad.  You can multi-task.  Like when 3 of my 4 kids had wellness checkups at the same time.  Line em up and get er done (while Clay goes nuts running around, pushing buttons, and turning off lights again and again and again.  Maybe that's why people think my life looks so crazy.  Get rid of the three year old and the storm would fade).
Dr. to Zach: Zach are you happy and healthy?
Zach: Yep!
Dr: Does anything hurt?
Zach: Yep!
Dr: What?
Zach: Shots!
The last thing worth mentioning was General Conference, which was the start of our break.  Conference (as well as any sacrament meeting) generally feels like a waste of time.  More of an act of obedience than a spiritual experience.  Thank goodness for the Ensign.  There were however, two experiences that made it all worth it; Mariah took notes for the first time without any prompting from us and it melted my heart!  She was focused and listening and engaged.
Then toward the end of conference when all had gone down the drain after 8 hours in one weekend Clay was quietly coloring on the couch by me and all the other kids had disappeared while Adam watched in the office to try and stay focused.
Clay looks up and says: What's that guys name?
Me:Elder Schmutz (which is a terrible last name by the way)
Clay: Oh, he's nice to me
Me: Why is he nice?
Clay: Because he just gave me a temperature
Me: What's a temperature
Clay: You know when you get sick you have a temperature.  It's when you're warm
It brought tears to my eyes.  Somehow the Spirit reached out to him and he felt God's love through His chosen servants.  Clayton went right on coloring and was unaffected but I needed that more than him.  I needed to feel like my bad attempts sometimes reach them and it was a moment that I will never forget and that he will probably never remember.  But I believe the "temperature" wasn't for him anyway.  It was for me.
It was a wonderful fall break.  Now bring on Halloween and birthdays!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Weekend Getaway

Sometimes mom's just need to run away...even if it's only for one night.  9 of my girl friends and I caught early morning flights to LA, spent one night and flew home late the next day.  A quick trip but who knew how rejuvenating it would be?!  We rented a commercial vehicle so we could all travel together and then shopped our little hearts out.
We head to the Fashion District in run-down, sketchy LA and seriously shopped until the stores kicked us out for closing.  Nothing beats bartering in Spanish for killer deals and street tacos.  Everyone thought I was crazy when I bought tacos..."So dirty! Aren't you going to get sick?" and then they saw my tacos and heard the price and next thing I know, all 9 were in line.  My 18 months in Central America made me afraid of nothing!  Someday I'm sure I'll regret it.
My favorite find was this $7 skirt.  I bought two and several of the others bought them as well.  Most of us are in the same ward.  I may match 4 friends one of these Sundays but we'll just laugh and get a picture if that happens.  Oh and the shirt was only $10.  Woot.  I'm itching to get back now that I know where everyone found their good deals.
After we shopped we headed to one of the ladies time shares.  It was one packed elevator but how else do you get 10 people in a selfie!
We ate, we laughed, we chatted, and we empathized with each others struggles.  I came home very grateful for the blessings I have (and the husband who took work off so that I could go!).  The best part was no one asked me to get them something to eat, no one told me there was a stinky diaper, no one fought, no one screamed for mom, and no one woke me up-- the downside is I realized my kids have ruined me and I woke up FAR earlier than I should have!!!
The next day we went to Downtown Disney for more shopping.  I bought nothing.  After the prices in "Northern Mexico" no way was I paying the prices for Disney.  But it was 70 something degrees outside and I had adult conversation so no complains whatsoever!
It went too fast and suddenly we found ourselves back in the airport.  This picture seriously cracks me up with everyone on their phones...but it's not as lame as it looks.  We didn't ignore each other.  I didn't take a single picture the whole time.  Really only 2 people did.  While we waited for our plane those with pics, text everyone and we all pulled out our phones to look.  Someone noticed the humor and took a picture.  Oh and ignore my bad posture :/
After we all booked the trip, they announced the dates for the ward camp out and it turned out to be the same week.  My rock star husband didn't let that scare him and he took ALL FOUR KIDS CAMPING by himself.  The kids loved it but Adam's nights sleep wasn't as uninterrupted as mine :)
When I got home I asked what their favorite part was--
Mariah: the zip line
Clayton: the fish (there's a hatchery near by)

Adam doesn't worry about getting a good picture as much as mom does
Zach: peeing on the trees (I don't have a picture of that one, wink wink)
And Benson can't talk but I'm sure if he could, being held most the time by the young women in the ward would top he list.
Once again with the awesome pictures from Dad.  However, I still had to post this one because it's my kids to the "T".  Mariah always striking a pose and Clay trying to copy,
There ya have it.  Our weekends away.  Mine was certainly better than Adam's.  Real life hit quick though when the first words out of my mouth upon seeing them were "go to time out for 5 minutes".  Yep, woke up to a whole lot of fighting.  Then Benson who wakes up asking for "mamma" every single day was asking for "dadda"!  How quickly I was replaced!!!  #worthit

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Joyful Mother of Children

Two nights ago I finished a book called "A Joyful Mother of Children" by Linda Eyre who raised 9 kids.  After reading I felt motivated to try a little harder and woke up with ambition.  We took Mariah to the bus stop and I let the kids play at the park afterwards until we were hot and thirsty.  When we got home the keypad on the garage wasn't working.  With no other way to get in the house and many failed attempts at different methods, I realized we were locked out!  Adam wasn't going to be able to come home until he finished his meeting so I broke out the water table to try and help the kids stay cool.  Benson was soaked in minutes and next thing I know he's headed for the sand box.  What a mess!

 I hadn't eaten breakfast yet and was running out of patience with whiny boys who just wanted inside one of which had to use the bathroom and the rocks weren't going to do!  By the time Adam got home with a key it had been 2.5 hours since the bus left...Sweaty kids meant time for a bath.  In the 2 seconds that Benson had his diaper off he chose to pee on my carpets, which we had just professionally cleaned days before.  Fast forward a bit to making muffins when Clayton smeared batter all over his hair and the kitchen that had been cleaned shortly before.  Oh and remember, we had just bathed!?  My point is, on a day for new goals all I needed was a do-over!!!  Nothing had gone as planned and motherhood was all but JOYFUL!  However, as I looked back at pictures, I was reminded that along with all the chaos, we do have a lot of fun together.  I may not be as calm as I would like and I have a lot of things I want to do better but overall, I do love these kiddos and I'm pretty sure they think I'm doing a better job than I do in raising my tribe.

Clayton started joy-school a few weeks back and the Olympics were in full swing when it was my turn to teach.  We held our own mini Olympics and had a blast.  I even tried my hand at some Brazilian cheese balls and a traditional desert.  Sooooo yummy!  We played balloon tennis and volleyball, walked on balance beams, and had a long jump.  All the kids were so proud of themselves when they received their metals!

I took the boys to a Little Rembrandt class where they got to paint with an eye dropper.  Both Zach and Clay love crafts.  No better outing then for them to get messy and for me to not clean it!

Benson is my first baby that I would say is truly a water baby.  He loves blowing bubbles and he LOVES jumping off (which is more like falling off since he can't jump) the side of the pool for you to catch him.  We are still plenty warm to swim but with him getting more and more adventurous we find ourselves going less and less.  It's just too hard to keep an eye on the other non-swimmers when he is all over the place and fearless about going under.  After a few minutes in the floaty, he wants out!!!  Next year better be easier!
Zach starts preschool next week so while Clayton is gone we've been taking the opportunity to have time together just the two of us, plus Benson who does't count because he doesn't interrupt :).
We even went on a date to The Soda Shop where he got a giant sugar cookie and Shark Attack Soda, gummy sharks included and all!
And lastly, the boys started a multi-sports class through the city and while peeking through the window one day I noticed that they were holding hands while they listened to instructions.  Melt my heart!  At that moment I forgot all the fighting and bickering they do and was truly full of joy.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Liquid Stitches

It's a given that when a baby is learning to walk and climb that you will end up with a couple of good falls.  The other day at a friends Benson fell off a little kids chair onto the floor.  When I picked him up my friend immediately noticed he had split his cheek completely open and insisted that he needed stitches. I thought she was a little crazy since it was such a small cut but when it didn't stop bleeding I decided to head back to the urgent care.  Remember I was just there for an unnecessary trip for Clay's hurt knee.
While at the urgent care I contact Adam and he said to walk out and first have an inactive member of our ward, who is an emergency room PA, check it out.  Adam had just been assigned to be his home teacher and the night before had their first visit.  Said it was the best home teaching visit he had ever had.  The part member family was super open with him and the wife even expressed that she wanted to be baptized but had a couple concerns.  Adam was able to begin building a good relationship and talked a bit about some of their struggles.  Just before he left, Adam mentioned they can call for anything, including home repairs and such.  The other guy then likewise offered if we ever had any medical issues or questions to let him know.  Not sure he thought we would take him up on it 12 hours later but alas, I, a complete stranger was calling for his help.  Lucky for us, he was home and said I could bring Benson right over.  He said the cut definitely needed attention and wouldn't close on its own well but that we could get away with gluing it shut since it's less painful and less scarring.  If I trusted him, he even had some glue upstairs and could do it right in his home.  Absolutely!!!  Benson was screaming like crazy while I held him down and it was getting washed out but outside of that it was super easy and over quickly!  Plus, I love free!
What an immediate blessing of home teaching.  Not to mention, furthered our opportunity to connect with this particular family.  However, I'm not going so far as to say, Benson cutting and bruising his cheek was a blessing ;)


This story in part, starts months ago.  Our ward split several months back and with that split we lost a member of our bishopbric.  Lucky me, Adam was inserted to fill the void.  Yipee!  I can handle the busy weeknights, I can handle the long Sundays.  What I can't handle is sacrament meeting with four littles (mostly the two littlest) by myself.  I almost didn't sustain him ;)  By the end of the meeting, I wished I hadn't.  Adam was called and walked to the stand.  Literally minutes later Benson starts crying.  Come to think of it, I think you can count on one hand the number of sacrament meetings that child has made it through without needing taken out, and I have a pretty good noise tolerance!  It may have something to do with the 12:00 meeting schedule we had (aka nap time) and the now 2:00 meeting schedule.  A crying baby and a husband on the stand means I haul 4 kids into the foyer where I assumed we would have our weekly sacrament meetings from now on.  Luckily, that only happens if you don't live in a really, really great ward.  As soon as he cried I immediately had a teenage boy jump up from his pew to come sit with the other kids.  What a blessing, or so I thought.  5 minutes after being in the foyer with Benson, the mother of said teenage boy comes out with a berserk Zach.  He's screaming like crazy and the blood oozing from his mouth onto his hands makes me understand why.  Apparently a 14 year old boy thinks entertaining kids in sacrament and keeping them reverent is the same thing.  Clay and Zach had smacked heads and Zach hit his tooth pretty hard.  Fast forward a few more minutes when Clay comes out needing to use the bathroom.  Forget needing Adam, I need an army to keep up with my zoo every week.  Thank heavens for Mariah huh?  Maybe 6 is the golden age???  Needless to say, Adam's new assignment was looking slightly overwhelming.  In fact he leaned over to the bishop and said "this is going well".  Ya think?  Gratefully, it is a great ward of people who are willing to serve.  Since that first Sunday, there has been a young single sister who has sat by me every. single. week.  And an older couple in the ward takes Clayton every. single. week.  Both express that they love it; that it helps them feel needed and more a part.  Both of them are angels in my book and building mansions in heaven for their giant hearts.
The story continues.  The next day Zach and Mariah are so excited that Zach has a loose tooth!  At age four?  I look and, oh boy, that's not the first tooth that should come out but it is the one he banged.  He said it had been hurting since.  I consulted Dr. Google and it said it would probably tighten in a few days and it did.  Phew.
No we get to last Saturday.  Zach ran into the granite counter top and banged his teeth again.  He almost immediately had a blood blister on his lip and a few hours later complained that his tooth was wiggly and hurt.  No problem.  We've done this before and it just takes a few days.  A few days pass and still wont chew with the tooth, cries when you brush it and it looks like it's turning gray.  I guess it's time to make a dentist appointment.
Today (Thursday) I went to the dentist with 3 kids in tow.  It's a quick visit, no worries...that's until x-rays came back.  The gums are infected, the tooth is fractured in several pieces above the gums and needs to come out.  The other front tooth is loose too and may also need to come out.  That one we may be able to wait on and hope it takes care of itself.  Now of all my kids, the one that I'm least happy to see in the chair and hear "pull the tooth" is Zach.  He's got so many fears and doesn't get over bad experiences. (Don't even get me started on dogs.  He says if we ever get a dog he is naming it "hate" because that's what he will want to call it.  Lol.)  He was happy and cheerful until he realized it was coming out and then melted down.  My heart burst for the little guy.

The dentist assured him that it wouldn't hurt and that they would numb it and give him laughing gas.  No consolation at all to Zach.  After 10 minutes the gas seemed to have taken no effect.  In fact he says "laughing gas doesn't make you laugh at all.  It just makes it hard to breath but it does make you feel like you are floating".  Floating to Zach isn't fun though, it's just scary!  Regardless, he was numb and so we crossed our fingers and went for it anyway.  It was completely pain free and he did great all things considered.  The little tooth is in the dentist's hand below.  Unfortunatley, they couldn't get all the pieces out and were worried about digging around too much to damage the adult tooth and causing trauma.  We are hoping the rest work their way out on their own and if not, we ended on a good note (Zach realized it really wasn't bad at all and he even got a prize) and when we go back in a couple weeks to check the other tooth we will see if it needs more work.  1.5 hours later and we get to go home.  PS, it's pretty silly when a four year old discovers what a numb mouth and cheek feel like.

While examining the x-rays and trying to remove the tooth the dentist asked if he had possibly knocked this same tooth loose before.  Yep.  In sacrament meeting.  I explained the story and he said the shape was not normal and damage had been done.  This second time just really did it in.  The removal was more complicated because the tooth was probably partially fractured and then spread from the first hit and then this.  Not sure if we would have cause more damage to have left it unnoticed or not but even Zach was very happy this afternoon to be pain free for the first time in several days.  When we brushed his teeth he said "will it hurt to brush the hole?"  Mariah: "Nope!  I've been brushing holes for a year now!"  Zach is going to be brushing them for a few :(  In fact if that other front tooth comes out, he will be sure to master the "All I want for Christmas" song since he will be wishing for his two front teeth for a long time.  Bye bye to biting into an apple but all's well that ends well.  Plus, I still think he's pretty cute and everyone is excited for a visit from the Tooth Fairy.  Bedtime has never been easier!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Goodbye Summer

We just finished summer vacation in Arizona which can only mean "fun in the  sun  indoors".  Don't get me wrong, we've spent plenty of time at pools and splash pads but I also quickly realized, 3 non-swimmers at a pool is all but relaxing.  We try to find lots of ways to entertain ourselves and keep cool at the same time.  Especially since Benson hasn't quite warmed up to the idea of water and never seems to last long.

So what DO you do in the hot, hot summer? Why, take selfies of course!
And play dress ups!  P.S. Benson loves masks and will leave them on for up to 30 minutes at a time!  He never tires of putting things on his head.

With all the boy dress ups we own you wouldn't think you'd see this at our house.  He could't stop laughing at how funny it was.  Future blackmail!
We also found some "kids in the kitchen" cooking classes that are FREE.  Zach loves them!  He got to make a rice cake kitty the first class and was so happy to use a knife!
Perhaps the biggest hit, and most expensive, is Krazy Air Trampoline Park.  Even Benson is completely entertained.  Until he got stuck in the foam pit and couldn't figure out how to crawl out.  I think I made him even more upset when I waited to rescue him until after I took a picture.

 All that being said, we may be done with tramps for awhile.  Clay was jumping in the backyard (in 100 plus degrees I might add, how could that be any fun?) when he injured his knee.  After not taking a single step for 24 hours, buckling in pain, and being up half the night, I decided to take him in for x-rays.  Afterall, having two kids that can't walk and need carried made for way too exhausting of a day for this momma.  Especially when the three year old thought I was his slave and would get him anything and move him anywhere at the snap of a finger.
Dr: So tell me what happened?
Me: Well, he was jumping on the trampoline but that's all I really know.  I didn't see it and all three of my kids are giving me a different story, each blaming someone else.
If you ask Clay, Zach did it on purpose, if you ask Mariah, he crashed his head into the wall somehow hurting his knee and not his head, and Zach says he was jumping when he fell all the way off the tramp that has a net.  Did you just roll your eyes too?
Of course the x-rays came back completely clean and we got a really expensive ice pack and ace bandage out of the deal.  That being said, having him in a cast would have killed me!  Can you imagine me taking care of a non-walker for weeks!  The doctor said maybe it was torn and if he wasn't waking in 2 days to bring him back for more testing. 20 minutes after getting home guess who started hobbling around!  Really, you couldn't try to do that before we wasted all our money!!!  He continued to limp for several days but is back to 100% and crazy.
He's mocking me with that face!
Sometimes the heat will wipe you out and all you really do is want a nap.  That's if you are over the age of 30 that is.  The littles in this house never want to nap and always want to bother the person who does.
 Wake up and play with me already!
Our very favorite thing to do, rain or shine, is play with friends.  They love kids yoga on youtube that tell stories as you go.  I love watching them try and chatting with my girl friends without being bothered.
For Clayton, boredom brings trouble.  I scrub more crayon off walls each month with him than the other two did their whole lives...combined!  You would think that would mean we keep things out of reach but somehow he just finds mischief.  Including in the form of nail polish.  Truth be told, he did a pretty decent job!
 For Zach, Chuck E Cheese is heaven on earth.
 Or building with anything he finds in the recycle bin.  I can't count how many times he's exclaimed, "you threw this away!" as he holds up some random garbage. Next thing you know he's disappeared for an hour as he tries to make treasures out of junk.
For Mariah it's the used book store at the library and then coming home and playing library all day. Not sure she reads all the books we buy but she does use them.  That counts right?
 And for Benson, it's climbing on and off the windowsill time and time again.
 Although it's not always fun in the sun, we learn to entertain ourselves and create plenty of memories.  I hope that they think summers are as magical as I always did. With only 8 weeks off of school here, they go by quick.  Here Mariah is on her first day of first grade.  Adam took the picture.  Next year I'll make sure to not trust him with the job.  I would have noticed the hair in the face.  The picture he took with her bestie, Peyton, is even worse.  My daughter looked like a drunk!  She had a great first week with Mrs. Jensen and discovered there were several friends from school and church in her class.  First grade is certainly a lot different than kindergarten.  There was no nerves and all excitement...for her and me!  She was ready to be back.  She gets that part from her dad.