Friday, September 30, 2016

Busy Times

We started the boys in soccer this year, after taking a break last year. Alec is trying out the Academy soccer where he has 2, 1/2 hour practices a week and then maybe some tournaments in the spring.  His practices start at 6:00 and don't get over until after 7:30, so its a late night (bedtime starts at 7:00) but Chris usually takes him and tries to get some exercise in himself, while I put the rest of the kids to bed at home. I wasn't looking forward to Chris leaving for a work conference for a few days since that meant busy, late nights with all the stuff the kids are involved with.  Turns out the kids are old enough to be fairly self entertained with a big grassy field to run around in. 

I love how much my kids love playing with each other. They can be pretty loud and crazy and I'll often get looks or even comments like, "Are they always like this?" (Especially busy, crazy little Freddy) and sometimes I wish they would just SIT STILL like some kids and just play quietly on a phone, or sit quietly and eat a snack. But I just try and remember that their playful, creative, energetic, physically-coordinated little bodies will be such an asset to them later in life. At least that's what I tell myself ...

This has been a busy week with a friend who used to live in our Branch needing a place to stay for a week.  I really feel for her to be in such hard circumstances so I wanted to help and offered our home up. We are grateful to have a spacious and easily accommodating home and I promised to share it.  So between an extra house guest, hosting a lot of the Young Single Adult Family Home Evenings on Sunday, helping friends out with watching their kids for them or giving them rides places, another friend asking to live with us for a bit,  and Chris being gone, then him going all day to Nashville for another cancer check-up, and then my own doctors appointment in Birmingham to see the fertility doctors about using some of the sperm we banked with them before Chris' second fight with cancer. ... it has been busy and I felt near to bursting.  I really really feel good when I can be of service, and useful, but I got to a point where I told my exercising buddy and good friend, 'I just want a break from helping people.'  I kind of felt bad for saying it, but I think I needed to take a few days to find my center again.  I've been reading through my Mom's old journal and digitizing it by typing it out and she also struggled with knowing her limits. I guess its hereditary. I'm grateful for prayers, scriptures, and good books and TV shows to immerse myself in and get a break.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Art in the Park

I forget how we found out about this, but one Saturday they had this Art Festival at the biggest park in town. I think this was the second year they did it and we all thought it was TONS of fun. My only complaint is the heat. Boy was it hot and muggy that day. They had all these tents set up with volunteers to let the kids DO all kinds of Art:  music (with instruments of all kinds), karaoke, dance - even a dance-off competition, drama with dress ups, poetry and language with word blocks, clay, painting, drawing, beading, string art. It was all free and it was all awesome. 

I only planned to stay for an hour or so, but we stayed the whole time.. through lunch time even though we didn't pack a lunch.  I was really pleased to see my kids enjoy trying so many new things and also I was glad that they worked hard in the morning to get their Saturday jobs done so they could come with me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Retail Therapy?

So my parents TOTALLY surprised Chris and I with some extra money in our bank account in the guise of reimbursing us for a group meal we paid for during the reunion. It was really quite clever of them and completely generous. Apparently they're trying to keep things even between all us kids and came to the conclusion that they needed to give Chris and I some money to level the playing field. We hadn't even noticed it was un-level! But I guess my Grandpa Hardy did something similar for them when they were a young family and really wanted to do keep the tradition for their own kids one day. Aren't they the best??! the very best?! I've had So. Much. Fun. thinking about what we could do with the extra money. After LOTS of dreaming and deliberating and talking, we decided to save 1/2 and spend 1/2 on things we've been dreaming of for a long time: a grill, some outdoor furniture, and a few pieces of indoor furniture. I shopped online almost constantly for weeks and watched for sales and ended up being able to get a headboard for our bed, and two bedside tables and a media/console/table for the TV in the living room.  Every time I see them I think in the back of my mind, "Thanks mom! Thanks Dad!" There is definitely something to be said for retail therapy!

 To be honest, though, it was interesting how much retail therapy is a SHORT fix. Even the very DAY after putting together the latest addition and no matter how excited I was when I set it up, I still had such mopey feelings about regular life. Even though for the first time in my life I have a beautiful headboard on by bed, the kids still fight, I still lose my patience, the house still gets REALLY messy, Freddy still needs me to change his diapers, meals still have to be made, eaten and cleaned up, going to the gym still feels like a monumental decision, my clothes still fit tighter than I would like, kids still have homework, yada yada yada, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.  And then I just get mad at myself for being so mopey about regular stuff! I mean, come on, its not like Chris' cancer is back and he's fighting for his life again. Its not like I'm 8 months pregnant sleeping in a hospital chair for weeks on end dealing with fleas in some random apartment, or 1 week postpartum passing a kidney stone while standing next to Chris' hospital bed holding his hand through the 10th attempt at getting an IV to stay in him.  Why is it so hard to be content in the face of normal problems?

I never got any amazing answer, but the past week or two things have gotten better. I've noticed a difference in me doing two things. I replaced my frequent internet checks during transition moments (either to facebook, or online browsing) with reading a snipit or part of an article out of the Ensign or having a designated scripture study, and I hung a HUGE banner up in my kitchen that says, "Live Joyfully, Live Happily, Live Enthusiastically. God does not dwell in gloom and melancholy but in light and love." (it was something Chris made a year ago for one of my Relief Society lessons from President Benson manual). And on the bad days I try to tell myself, if all I accomplish today is choosing happiness then that's good enough... that's a productive day.  And its funny because when I choose to try out a positive outlook, I end up being really productive and that just makes me feel even happier. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

MSU Rugby Game

Some of the Young Single Adult guys in our branch play on State's Rugby team. Chris loves all sports and especially loves to cheer on people he knows. They play on the fields that are kind of close to our house so we decided to use this as chance to hop the back fence and check out all the construction work thats been going on back there for a long while now. They're building a road (and a side walk / bike path eventually) that will be the main southern entrance to campus. It will pass right along our back fence. I'm glad for the 30 feet of forest/trees/brush on our side of the property that will maintain our privacy and I'm really looking forward to easy, bike-able and run-able access to campus and other streets. 

It was sooo hot that day so the mile to a mile and a half walk was pretty brutal on the kids. We were glad to arrive but wished for more shade and water.  It was fun to be so close to the action right there on the sidelines and it was fun to cheer our friends on... even though we lost. (Funny thing was that after the game Chris started chatting with one of the other player's dads on the sidelines at the end of the game. By some communication error which we can't really understand, the guy came away with the idea that Chris PLAYED rugby at BYU.. and knowing that BYU has a really good rugby team, he encouraged his son to look Chris up and email him...which the son did and even went so far as to ask Chris to be a coach for the MSU team. HAHAHA.. totally awesome)

We decided that I would leave early and run back home to get the car and then drive and pick up everyone at the Rugby fields when the game ended. Charlie wanted to come with me so we half walked half ran home. Charlie made a quick detour to try and feed the horses some grass. Cute kid.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


Ugh. I thought we were good from the first-month-of-school sicknesses when Freddy and Gwen had a little cold (which for Freddy turned into an ear infection) and the boys each took a turn staying home from school with a tummy ache. Some friends from church had lice at the beginning of summer, I checked my kids... nothing! Then more friends got it at the beginning of the school year, I checked my kids... nothing! Whew! Then two days after our big Open House craziness Charlie came down from being tucked in bed and said his head itched, I checked and found some bugs. AHHHH!!!! I felt like a huge boulder had being dropped in my stomach. I'm not old enough to have kids with lice. I don't know what I'm doing! Chris went out to get some lice shampoo and I checked the rest of the kids who were awake (nothing). I buzzed Charlie's head and treated it with the shampoo and sent him to bed to deal with the rest in the morning. 

Just to be safe, we kept all the kids home from school and treated and checked them. I found 2 bugs on Freddy and maybe? some nits on Alec and Gwen?  I spent the rest of the day trying not to collapse in despair and started the giant task of sanitizing the house. I never thought I would hate the big spaces in our house, but when you feel like there could be little bugs all over anything that could have come in contact with the kids heads (which when you have a 2 year old who likes to bury his head and blanket into EVERYTHING.. is EVERYWHERE)... the big house becomes a nightmare, not a dream. Exhibit A:

 Chris had more meetings that night and the next day was set to leave for the weekend to go help with Mormon Helping Hands the massive flood victims in Baton Rouge Louisiana.  So it felt like I had to deal with everything on my own. It was rough. I let the kids watch TV all day in an attempt to separate the 'possibly contaminated rooms' from the 'just cleaned rooms'. 

The silver lining in all this was how much I actually enjoyed Freddy's hair cut. It wasn't immediate. I missed his cute long hair, but Gwen kept calling him Andrew because he looks like my sister's boy of the same name and for some reason that was funny enough to be endearing and uplifting.  I shared the story on the Slack App that my family uses for communicated and file sharing. Tiff wanted a picture so I asked Freddy to smile for the camera:

His post-nap-on-the-floor-since-he's-been-watching-tv-all-day response was, 'No, Mommy! I watching a moo-mie!"

Blessedly, I think we must have caught it quick because there wasn't hardly anything in most of the kids heads and Chris and I didn't get it. It only took a few weeks, but I think I'm finally done with all the lice laundry.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Fun with friends

While Chris was gone, I took the kids to the lake to have one last hurrah before it closed for the summer and Lauren moved away with her cute boys.  I really needed some time to vent and chat with some girl friends and to do something fun with the kids... two birds, one stone.. its so efficient and that makes me so happy! Before we left, I let the kids have Buy Day and they purchased some snorkeling masks for less than $.50 each at the dollar store -  and they actually worked! The kids played with them allll afternoon. Best $1.50 I ever spent. We also got cheetoh puffs and candy corns. Like I said, I was needing some comfort. 

I watched my friend's son again and loved how well he and Freddy got along.. despite being almost 2 years older. They even took naps together in the same room. Cutest Super Hero's ever. Benny let Freddy borrow the batman mask and cape and it feels like he hasn't taken it off for two weeks.