Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving and a hike

We had a yummy feast with our good friends and neighbors. We were particularly trying to make enough for leftovers for both families. In short, we made enough for 5 families to have leftovers too. We hardly even dented the mashed potatoes and had rolls coming out of our ears. No, these aren't complaints. I LOVE that we had so much food leftover, my stomach has been loving it all this past week. The only thing that made me sad was that with all the preparations for this 1 meal, it was all over in 10 minutes. But fun things always go by too fast. We had a few more families over for pie after dinner.


For Black Friday we went on this really awesome hike, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge at Mt. Tamalpais. We hiked 4.2 miles from the ranger station to Stinson Beach. It was BEAUTIFUL! My friend, Amy recommended it and I can see why she says it "has it all." We walked past lots of waterfalls, crossed lots of bridges, climbed over/under lots of huge redwoods and then walked through rolling/tree-less hills down to 6 foot high beach scrub and finally arrived at the sandy beach.

Eating leftover turkey sandwiches!


We left later than we planned and took longer to find parking and meet up with friends. We missed the first bus/shuttle back to our cars and ended up stranded at the beach in the dark with no way to get back to our cars. I guess the buses were running on their "Holiday Schedule" even though online they said it was normal. We did catch a bus, going the wrong way an hour after we thought we could and rode it all the way around to get to our cars; crossing our fingers the whole way that the parking lot, posted as "closed at sunset," didn't lock in any cars still there after dark.

What a crazy sight we were: 2 moms, 6 little kids sitting by the highway, alone on a bench in the middle of the freezing mountains after dark. I'm actually surprised no one stopped to see if we needed any help, I know I would've if I were driving past.

Luckily, the dads ran super fast from where the bus dropped us off to the parking lot 1/2 mile up and found our cars ticketed $48.50 but not locked in! Whew! 2.5 hours later the kids were asleep in bed and I was warm and cozy eating left over pie on the couch. Talk about thanks-giving. We were so grateful to have it all end so well.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Home for the Holiday

We're staying home this year for Thanksgiving. Chris and I asked each other every night for about 3 weeks, "So, what are we doing for Thanksgiving?" We kept asking it right up until Monday morning when we stayed mainly because we didn't plan to go and because of the scary snowy drive we would've had.

It was mainly my wish to stay. My life is crazy enough right now, adjusting to life away from home, living out of suitcases and a pack n' play sounded difficult. Life at home with Chris around more and fun hikes and outings sounded nice. The weather hasn't cooperated 100% but its doing a decent job. We've found fun things to do despite the rain and below freezing temperatures. Our goal was one fun thing a day and relaxing (as much as the kids let us) the rest of the time.

Monday - Bus ride to the train station, train ride to a nearby town and a walk Target to pick out Christmas presents for the cousin exchanges. Reverse it.

Tuesday - Chris to the golf course and the kids and I to visit friends and make home-made, soft, pretzels.

Wednesday - Walk to the post office to mail cousin gifts.

Thursday - Run 10K, Give thanks and EAT.

Friday - 3 mile hike north of the Bay.

Saturday - Take the family to the football game and set up the Christmas tree.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our Bed Saga

Once upon a time we ordered a bunk bed. Not just any old bunk bed. A super awesome, custom made, space saving, solidly built, GREAT price, toddler-sized bunk bed. We found it on Etsy.com, listed by a cute husband/wife furniture-making team. That was in January of 2010.

Then disaster struck this cute little team. Again, and again and again. We're talking shop fires, broken saws, broken vans, more broken vans, a move to living out a trailer with their 3(?) kids while they build a house in their spare time.

At least that is what they told us every time I wrote them a "hows it coming?" email. I updated them on our two moves, and Gwendolyn's arrival... hoping these milestones would give them a finish date to shoot for. Nope.

Then in August, I get an email from them out of the blue saying, "We're putting your bed together this week! We just need to confirm the color of the stain and allow a week to cure and then a week to ship."

As you can image, we were ecstatic. Charlie is just too big/strong/rough in the crib; he's just tearing it apart and climbing out, climbing up, climbing all over it like a jungle gym. He is SO ready to move to a big bed, and I'm SO ready to get Gwen out of the bassinet in our room to the crib in the kids room. We've been putting on hold making any new bedtime routine changes (and boy, do we need to!) until we get the bunk beds but we've been saying this for over 6 months! I could go on and on.

Now its the middle of November and we still haven't gotten the bed. I'm emailing them more often (once or twice a week) and finding out about more "disasters" like that crazy mid-east wind storm sweeping away their paint shop. The good news is they emailed us a picture of our stained headboards. So, I'm fairly confident we're not getting swindled (yes, we already paid for it). I like to support small family businesses, but this is getting ridiculous.

Hopefully in a week or two, I'll be doing another post of our totally awesome bunk beds all set up in the kids' room with a report on how wonderful our new bedtime routine is working and how Gwen sleeps through the whole night! AND, (while I'm dreaming) that Chris' adviser told him he could graduate in December without doing any more work and BYU offered us a job starting in the fall after we take a 3 month family vacation in Hawaii. Oh, and did I mention BYU's starting salary? $200,000 ... every 2 weeks.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Two things

Besides the fact that its obvious he fell asleep in mere seconds, there are two other things I like about this picture:

His shirt is on backwards. He wears it this way EVERY TIME. He says its because he likes the see the number. Like on a sport jersey? Maybe.

The books stranded around him. I love how much our kids love to read. They are usually very well entertained with a pile of books. The downside is we really wear out our books. Sometimes they're used as tunnels, projectiles or even skates. I try to teach how to respect them, but I also want them to be familiar and loved and have decided to not fight them every time with this. But then sometimes it gets really out of hand. I'm still learning the balance of book love I guess.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

All bundled up

Because evenings are hard, particularly Sunday Evenings, we've recently gone on late family walks. The kids are generally really content to be outside, on the move, away from the normal sights of the courtyard. With the cooler weather approaching, its fun to get all bundled up. "Nice and cozy" or "Nice and warm" as Alec and Charlie like to say. One of the boys usually sits in the hiking backpack on Chris' back and I push Gwen and the other boy in the stroller.

I enjoy the fresh air, quiet, dark night and "strapped-in-ness" of the kids. There is something so peaceful and calming about walking around at dusk, watching the world get dark.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Football Party

Last Saturday (oh sheesh, maybe its two or three Saturdays by now), Stanford had a big football game. Both Chris and I wanted to watch it, but somebody needed to be out watching the kids on the playground. So we compromised and watched the game on the laptop out on a blanket. Funny thing is once we did that the boys didn't want to play on the playground. They just wanted to watch the game with us on the blanket. It was pretty chilly so we bundled in sweatshirts and blankets and snacked on fishes and animal crackers. The video streaming on the laptop wasn't the best and sometimes it would stop. The boys would yell "Go!" and hit the blanket by the laptop. They were really entertained watching the game. After a few drives with the boys NOT losing interest in watching we decided to bring the party inside where it was warmer.


I really enjoy watching college football... but mainly just the teams I'm attached to - BYU and Stanford. I can sometimes care about UW or watching USC lose, or Utah. Its fun to have Stanford be so awesome, and for BYU to pick it up a bit.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Closure

I could write another few paragraphs about my frustrations with the kids from just the past 24 hours. I'm sorry to say that again (I bet some people might be getting tired of reading it!) but here comes the good part. I was just reading this motivational talk and I'll post my favorite parts. This may be too boring/personal for some people and I'm actually not certain why I'm putting it on here since I already wrote it down in my journal. I guess I'm just looking for closure to many of the "I'm going crazy" posts so the story-like flow of the blog can move onto more "fun and happy" posts.

----
Its good advice to SLOW DOWN a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experience adverse conditions. -- yes, I'm in adverse conditions.

Lets be honest; its rather easy to be busy....because they unnecessarily complicate their lives they often feel: INCREASED FRUSTRATION -- that is me, big time! -- diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning.

Forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best. --Its hard to decide what is a good thing and what is a better thing. It'll be hard to do but I'm sure others will agree that a perfectly clean house is a good thing; quality time with kids is better.

So What Are the Basics? We learn over and over again the importance of four key relationships: with our God, with our families, with our fellowman, and with ourselves.
----

I'm going to try and do one thing to focus on for each of those relationships.
  • Have more meaningful, heartfelt prayers at least morning and night.
  • Try to drop everything and just play with the kids for a hour or so each day (like from 10-noon or something)
  • Build friendships by having one-on-one time with other friends/families...like have someone over for dinner 2-3 times a month
  • "Take extra time to get to know myself better" I'm not exactly sure what this means or how to do it. If I had a hammock I'd schedule in some just-swing-and-think time...but I don't have a hammock, or an outdoor rocking chair, or a gorgeous view of the Puget Sound outside my front windows, like I did growing up.
And so with all that mushy stuff, I'll close my recent griping and move on to some fun stuff! By the way, I can't wait to see this again when I go home for Christmas in a month or so!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bike Rides

The bike Alec was borrowing from our good friends got swapped with a bigger bike they're letting us borrow. Result = Alec's in heaven. He loves going "zoomin" fast and can actually go long distances on it... like super long. A few weekends ago we went on a family bike ride that ended up being 9 miles! We rode under train tracks, over freeways and out to the Bay where we watched airplanes take off and land at the small local airport and ate cold pizza for lunch. Alec never complained once about it being long. Only right after we started for the return trip, I asked him to go faster and catch up to Daddy. He said, "I can't, my legs hurt." He soon got into a good rhythm and was happy the whole 4.5 mile journey home.

Charlie was SUCH a trooper smashed back in the trailer with Gwen in her car seat! I didn't think he'd fit or like it much even if we did manage to squeeze him in. Apparently, he's willing to put up with anything if it means a bike ride. He loved it. We only had to stop once and ask him to not touch Gwen's face or try and feed her pretzels.

Gwendolyn enjoyed most of it, especially the part where I stopped to feed her real quick so she'd stop crying. I can hardly believe how flexible I'm getting in feeding her whenever. I was such a clock watcher with Alec and sorta Charlie. It wouldn't be out of place to have heard me say, "No not yet, not for another 10 minutes!" Now, sometimes I feed her after just 1.5 hours. I'm not sure if I'm getting all soft because Gwen's a girl (totally fair, huh?) or if I'm just too crazy to keep track of hours.

Welp, someone is dropping the toilet lid down over and over again and I hear some metallic clangs and heavy thumps. I suppose I should go upstairs for the 4th time since putting the boys to bed and... what? I have no more threats left. No more options for consequences. Tomorrow I think I'll ask my friend Petros to change the door knob around so I can lock them in their room. Am I cruel?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Updated Note to Self

Thanks everyone for your comments, support, funny emails, treat bags and notes. It does help. All of it. So, Self, go ahead and write those negative posts every once in a while because you'll feel loved and eat yummy food and hear about how awesome you are.

Besides, I think I heard somewhere that crying actually does help you feel better. Even if nothing changes, you'll feel happier... after the headache goes away.

In case anyone wants to know, today wasn't necessarily any better but I almost feel as if I'm watching the chaos happen from the end of a longer tunnel lined with the motivational stickers of the phrases everyone has told me: hang in there, lets try, good days come back, good luck, maybe today will be better, you're an awesome mom, a real person, you can do it!

Thanks again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A few of my thoughts today...

I either have 1 too many kids or 1 too few bedrooms. I think its the bedrooms.

I have 0 safe places. It doesn't matter where I put my kids or what I take away they can always find out how to make a mess or destroy something.

Anybody mind if I tie a kid or two to their bed?

What about spanking? Is it illegal to bring it back?

I can choose between watching/refereeing/protecting/distracting/disciplining the kids or getting even 1 thing accomplished, like the dishes or a meal. They can't both happen without kids crying, getting hurt, or destroying the house. Forget about doing a fun project like sewing or decorating or organizing those just make the chaos twice as bad.

I really don't want to eat leftovers tonight, it wasn't even that good the day I made it.

I shouldn't pay attention to any "sleep experts". Putting my kids down early for a nap because they seem extra tired since they woke up early just makes them play for 2 hours before falling asleep on the floor right behind the door. Now they'll actually be taking a late nap, which is bad for the early bedtime suggested. Oh, and whats that? Don't wake up a sleeping child?

I remember when someone asked me a month ago how 3 kids was and I said, "oh, not bad! Its going just fine actually." Well, what I meant was, "oh, TODAY was not bad, it went just fine... but ask me again in a month and I'll tell you how hard it is and how much I cry in a day"

I usually try to stay really positive, but I just can't do it today. And man, writing this negative post didn't make me feel any better, in fact it only opened the flood gates. So, next time Self, don't even write one, just stick with the positive ones... even if it feels like a lie at the time, at least it won't make you cry.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Its about time

I finally cut Chris' hair. I was going to cut it a few months ago when I cut the boys' hair but then we had the idea for him to be Little John for Halloween. He decided he needed to keep the beard and shaggy hair for his costume. Any reason will do, right? Good thing I think he looks great with both long and short hair.

Its also about time for another Gwenyrs photo shoot. This time Charlie helped me out by taking the first picture and helping me get her to smile, eventually!

After all that, Charlie squeezes his way onto my lap too and spontaneously says, " I love you, Gwen" and gives her a sweet hug. Only it actually sounded like " I uhv oo den"and it was more of a mauling wrestling move than a hug. Either way, it was dang cute.

I wish moments like that could last forever. This one ended only seconds later when Charlie started crashing his hands on either sides of Gwen's head, like he was playing the cymbals.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

baby skin

Oooo, I love these little soft baby bodies!

A similar photo from almost 2 years ago of baby Charlie and 2 year old Alec...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November?

Is it really November? How come my kids are still running around in swim suits when the sprinklers go off in 80 degree weather? Oh, yeah, we live in California and its nice. So I thought a month ago was our last breath of Summer but looks like its having a hard time letting go. I don't mind.

Before you get too jealous, be advised that our weather is going to back to its Winter state next week with highs in the mid 60's. It may even sprinkle on Sunday and Thursday. :) I love living here.I'm not sure what Charlie was doing exactly. I can only guess he liked getting his hair wet in the puddle.

He even seemed to like the dirty water dripping down his face when he lifted his head up. Believe it or not, but below is a happy Charlie.

My sister told me she hasn't seen a recent picture of Gwendolyn on the blog. She's right! I left her happily doing tummy time while I went upstairs to put Charlie down for a nap and settle Alec in our bedroom for quiet time. Upon returning downstairs a few minutes later, I found Gwen fast asleep on her tummy. No crying or fussing.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween

Robin Hood, his mini-me sidekick, Little John, Maid Marian and her (wet)nurse made an appearance at our Halloween party. In fact, we saw them lots this weekend with all of the many parties we went to.

Carving Pumpkins... I can't believe we barely only finished one, this year. It seemed like Halloween came up really fast.


I'd add more details about how cute the kids were or how fun the parties were, but right now I'm just barely managing to keep it together. The boys are giving me a hard time. That's putting it mildly. I started to write a huge paragraph about all the bad things they're doing but that's not going to help anything, I really need to focus on the positives because I'm sure they're there if I look hard enough. Too bad I won't right now.