Friday, April 18, 2014

Lephrechauns!

We didn't have leprechauns when I was little... sometimes I think the holiday expectations and traditions go a little overboard these days, but I will admit I get a huge kick out of the leprechaun visits we've had over the last few years. They are too funny! The leprechauns always pee green in our toilets, leaving nasty green footprints on the toilet seats. They write funny notes on the pictures. But they're not all naughty; they're also nice enough to always leave a box of Lucky Charms for us to eat at breakfast... a real treat!

This year our leprechauns got extra feisty and left green dots on each of the children's noses... even on Baby Charlton's cute nose! When I discovered the leprechaun paint on their sweet faces, I immediately took pictures, but when I saw how Juliette's was smothered all over, I got very side- tracked with worry, and failed to get picture of Isabella's green nose. Oops! I was just really concerned about it getting all over the bedding and things. I also worried about Liam having to go to school with a green nose, seeing how paint doesn't always come off too easily. But I shouldn't have worried because the next morning, Liam wouldn't let me even try to wash it off. He was so excited to show his friends at school and he's been dreaming up traps for next year ever since.

During homeschool that day, I had Isabella write a paragraph about St. Patrick's Day, and I got a kick out of her little summary. By the way, I don't know what she's talking about when she said the moms make the kids clean up all the leprechaun messes. I guarantee I did most, if not all, the cleaning. But I think she's on to something! Next year, the kids have complete clean-up duty! St. Patrick's Day just got even cooler.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Having a Good Time at Great Wolf Lodge

It was all Will's very spontaneous idea to take the kids to Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor resort with an awesome swimming park located just an hour or so away from our house. We've only ever heard rave reviews of this place, and it didn't disappoint! We wanted the kids to earn this trip, though, so we decided that whenever we caught them doing something good, we'd put a piece of candy in a large vase; and then once the vase was full, we'd go. It was really great for me to verbalize and reward all the good things going on around here. I notice how wonderful they are all the time, but I don't always think to comment on it, so this was fun! It definitely upped the positive vibes in our home when every little good deed was getting rewarded.

The kids were SO excited to go. Like hyper, crazy excited. I took some pics of them with my phone that morning in all of their excitement, but haven't figured out how to be organized about my phone pictures, and I'm too lazy to go find them.

Speaking of pictures, I didn't take a ton of pictures of our trip because my arms were pretty full. The first day we were there, the place was swarming with people. It made me a little nervous and stressed trying to keep tabs on everybody, but by the second day we were there, I felt like we were more comfortable with our surroundings and had found our groove.

Isabella surprised me and went on every single slide... I went down the scariest one with her after she'd already gone with Will, and I was scared for her sake! I kept screaming for her to hold on tight. She's such a tiny thing. I was worried she was going to lose her grip and go flying! Plus I'm a screamer anyway. haha. She didn't make a peep, although she did have a look of terror on her face at some points in that ride.

Liam had a wonderful time playing in all the pools, but he had no interest in going on any of the slides, even though he's been on bigger water slides before. It was kind of bothering Will and me because we wanted him to have as much fun as possible, so we kept encouraging him to try some slides out. At one point, when Liam was out of ear shot, I told Will that I thought he was being stubborn just for the sake of being stubborn. Will agreed, and so he had another little talk with Liam about how it's great to be stubborn in some ways... like being stubborn about choosing the right and following Jesus, but that being stubborn can be a bad thing, too, and that he shouldn't be stubborn about trying new things. We got a kick out of Liam's response to this little pep talk...

"Does Heavenly Father want me to go down the water slide?" he asked Will.

Will: "Uhhh, not necessarily. But Heavenly Father does want you to have a good time here."

"I am having a good time!" he said in a "how-many-times-do-I-have-to-tell-you voice." :)

And that was the end of that. We no longer pressured him to go on the slides because clearly he was having fun.

Juliette was Miss Outgoing, as usual. She kept going up to strangers and loving on their babies. It was cute, but also a little stressful to keep up with! Charlton seemed to like the water, too, and did a good deal of napping despite the chaos. I really feel like we made some wonderful memories on this trip. Juliette, especially, keeps talking about the fun we had there. Maybe we'll make it a post-Valentines Day tradition for our sweet munchkins.  I also loved hitting up the nearby factory outlets for some bargain shopping... we should make a tradition of that, too!

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Friday, April 11, 2014

XOXO

For such a "little" holiday, Valentines Day sure gets worked in our family. Will had another great year at the flower shops. It's always extremely tiring for him and his staff, but we're so thankful for this holiday and the business it brings.

 On "Valentines Eve" I took our design center employees a lasagna dinner and enjoyed being with my handsome Valentine for about an hour. I then came home, put the kids to bed and stayed up late finishing up the kids' Valentines. Valentines cards have become--for better or worse-- a Pinterest affair, so they were time consuming, but fun, especially since I rarely craft with my kids. It's definitely worth the effort since the kids enjoy it so much. They love Valentines Day and I'm always amazed at how excited they get.

Other  festivities included a super adorable party at Jen's with our homeschool friends, and I also got to visit Liam's Kindergarten party. So much fun all around!

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

I've Got You, Babe.

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I took some "official" (but not that official) 3-month pics of Charlton, pretty spontaneously one afternoon while the kids were watching a movie. And then Isabella was kind enough to take some of me and Charlie... I used to be more shy about getting in front of the camera, but now I'm all about jumping in when I can! Otherwise I'm going to be the invisible mother on this blog. Hopefully they will feel my presence regardless of how frequently I'm featured, but still!

Some things to remember about Charlton at 3 months old:

* He can put himself to sleep. I swaddle him up good, sing him a little bedtime song, get up close to his sweet face, tell him how much I love him and that it's time to go "night, night," and usually that's all it takes. When he was younger, there were a few times that he slept the whole night through, but I've yet to see that happen again! Oh well. I just bring him into bed with me and enjoy the snuggles all night long. He even still sleeps on my chest and it's the most blissful thing in the world.

* Like all of his siblings, he has zero interest in a binky or a bottle.

* He loves to be bounced and we get the best giggles out of him.

* He has a high-pitched scratchy voice that is to die for.

* We still can't tell what color his eyes are yet, but whatever non-color they are, man are they gorgeous!

* He does a lot of arm flapping.

* We think he has eczema, poor baby.

* Chub Chub and Char Char are some regular nicknames. Also, Juliette pronounces his name Charlie-ton, and it's super cute.

* He spits up all. the. time. Isabella and I are his favorite targets (probably something to do with the fact we hold him the most), and so whenever he spits up on Will or someone else (in our family), we can't help but high five each other and laugh. We think it's so funny! So yeah, we're going through wipes at record-speed, and I've never been so grateful for my fake hardwood floors. :)

* In general, I think Charlton has a really easy going, calm temperament, but he seems to have sensitive skin and a sensitive tummy, which makes for some fussy spells.

* He does great with tummy time and is just the best, most talented little baby ever. haha, jk. We do think he's quite perfect, though.

* Last but not least, Charlton makes me want to write song lyrics and take pictures all day, none of which I have much time for, but you better believe there's a lullaby in the making for this sweet baby of mine.

Indescribable Joy

Grabbed my camera and enjoyed a quiet minute of watching Charlton content as can be in his crib (he is about three months here). He was just hanging out, kicking his chubby feet against the railings. In a priesthood blessing that Will gave me before Charlton was born, the blessing said something about how this baby would bring me indescribable joy. I don't think a day has gone by since his birth that I haven't thought about how true that blessing was. Indescribable joy puts my feelings into words pretty perfectly. I am a broken record, but I must say it again, I love him.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Charlton at Three Months

This boy has stolen my heart completely. I love being a mom so much. Too much. He makes me want to have ten more babies! Don't worry, I won't do that. But eeek. The sweetness.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Chinese New Year Mormon Prom

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In January, Will pulled me aside at church and said that President Jensen wanted to meet with us. I figured Will was getting released from his calling as an early-morning seminary teacher and might be getting a new calling of some sort. Whatever it was he wanted to talk to us about, I was pretty sure it had nothing at all to do with me and felt fairly at ease. Sure, Will might get a more time intensive calling, but me? There was no way. I'd just had a baby 8 weeks ago for heaven's sake.

President Jensen is my good friend Stacy's husband, and she took notice as we followed her husband toward the stake presidency's office. As I walked past her she mouthed, "What are you going in there for?"

I shrugged. "Do you know?" I mouthed back suspiciously.

She didn't.

When I say I'd just had a baby--baby number four at that, I mean to say that I had a somewhat fussy, high-maintenance baby. Because of this, I couldn't sit in the chair that was offered me, so I  danced him around the room as we made small talk.

"I bet you're wondering why you're in here," he eventually said.

Suddenly I was nervous.

"I actually feel kind of guilty asking you to do this," he went on, noting the bouncing baby and looking at me. "And this isn't a calling--more an assignment, so you can say no...

"Marie, we were wondering if you'd head up Mormon Prom..."

Now for any other creative person, this might sound fun and exciting, but directed at the girl who stresses out every time she has to host anything, it kind of sounded like my worst nightmare. Sure, I have a bit of an artistic eye and I like to decorate my house, but I wouldn't say I'm good at it. I'm just persistent and a bit of a perfectionist and go at a really slow pace when it comes to home improvement; if I can't do it right, I don't want to do it at all. And I almost always get it wrong before I get it right.

And one other stumbling block-- I don't like to be in charge! I'm capable of being in charge, but I'd much rather be someone else's worker bee. So there's that.

As I was getting ready to say, "Can I think about it?" to President Jensen, Will starting raving about what an awesome job I'd do at it and was just being all Mr. Enthusiastic, so I went with it. I didn't want to disappoint anyone, especially my sweet husband who seemed to have so much confidence in my abilities, so I gave a shaky yes. But for the next two weeks I started dreaming about Mormon Prom and panicking. I'd find myself getting on my knees at random times during the day asking Heavenly Father if he really wanted me to do this because I just didn't think it was humanly possible for me with a brand-new baby, homeschooling Isabella, and just my day-to-day crazy life full of interruptions. I couldn't wrap my head around it.

I whined a lot to Will and then he said something that became a turning point for me, which ultimately was probably an answer to my prayers.

"Marie, I will support you if you decide to back out, but if you decide to do this, I will support you too, and I think you might even enjoy yourself."

Enjoy? This felt like a big, fat, stressful burden. There was nothing to be enjoyed. As I mulled over it a little more, I kept thinking about what Will said about enjoying it and decided that I was going to do this and I was going to have a positive attitude about it. From that point on, things started looking up. I made a goal to do at least one Mormon Prom-related task every single day, and I was amazed how how things started to come together. A huge comfort and blessing came in the form of my next-door neighbor. She is a wedding consultant and loves to do this sort of thing and assured me she would help me. And boy to did she ever! She hooked us up with so many lanterns and lights and table cloths, and she was just a good resource for me to fire questions at since she throws events like this all the time. I adore Trista! All along the way there were people to help point me in the right direction. Sarah Wrigley--the huge talent behind last year's Mormon Prom-- was an enormous help to me as I asked her questions; she also helped me realize that this could be fun! In fact, as I contacted each person on my committee, they each expressed excitement for the opportunity to get to do this, and it was really eye-opening and humbling to me. Made me more eager and willing in my attitude.

So yes, my committee was top of the line. Most of the people on it I'd never met before. I mostly went with names that were recommended to me. And I tell you what, Mormons in general are a hard-working, dependable people! Even though I'd never met any of them, I trusted that they'd follow through with their different assignments, and boy did they ever.

Brother Johnson designed and built a pagoda! Jenae Henrichson made a Chinese dragon. Absolutely unbelievable. We had gorgeous tables, a wishing tree, food (both delicious and beautifully displayed), Chinese banners and signs. And those are just some of things that went into it. There was also tons of unexpected help along the way... people just popping their head into the gym and offering their help. An army of a clean up team came and helped take down the event. We were literally cleaned up and out of the building in just over an hour.

So, in the end, I had the most rewarding and meaningful experience. I learned once again that Heavenly Father hears prayers and supports us in the things we worry about. He enables us to do things we don't think are possible. I also learned that a good attitude changes everything. And I learned that a little faith goes a long way. Most of all, I learned that when it comes to an opportunity to serve others, the answer is probably YES.

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