Building Heaven on Earth

Building Heaven on Earth

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reading Log and my reading habits

I almost forgot. Here's the kids reading log. I thought it'd be easier to keep their log in one place. That way when we go to the library and they have reading programs, or all the ones the kids can do online, I can have an easy document to transfer the information instead of trying to remember it all, or trying to find where I've handwritten the information. I LOVE that my kids love to read!!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer time, and the livin' is easy

We are nearing the end of the first full week of Summer vacation. So far, so good. The boys exclaimed that this is the best summer ever. I'll take it.
One of the things I wanted to do with the boys this summer is to get them in a good exercise routine. We have a very safe neighborhood with almost no traffic where our street lies. There is a perfect block that isn't too big that the boys and I will jog. The boys track their laps. I snagged the below "Aerobic Activity Log" from an already made format on our Works Spreadsheet program. (I'm NOT good with works so there's some things that I deleted and just left there, etc. If I were smart it would look a bit different. But I'm just grateful I had something to work with!) This is how our morning goes:
We all sit down and stretch together. After stretching we eat breakfast and the boys brush their teeth and get ready to run. After running (oh and I just walk with Blake, if you were wondering) we go back inside. I then test Peter and Andrew on their sit-ups, push-ups, and toe reaches. I also time how long they can hold up their bodies with their palms on the high stools(I'm sure there's a real name for it but I just call it a body lift). The kids love trying to beat the previous day. It also allows us to talk about muscle groups, how to do a good stretch, how to push your body without overexerting, and how to make healthy and attainable goals.

If you'll notice Peter's sit ups and push ups went down by a lot. Each day I work a little harder and their technique. For example, kids do not naturally understand how to position their body for a push-up so I'm helping by holding their midsection and thereby taking a lot of their weight off the muscle that should be working. I'm hoping that by the end of the summer they will be able to have good form.
Beside our new work-out regimen, I've also been able to tag piano practicing on to the morning routine. It has been great and worked really well. Even today, when we had somewhere to be early this morning so the exercising it going to happen in the evening, they still sat down and did their piano. Blake will even "take a turn" which means he pounds the keys from low to high, high to low, black keys, white keys, and then he'll put a keyboard diagram on his keys and say his letters while playing his notes.
I've made a chart to help organize my week.

No I don't do everything perfect and I've changed things a bit. But since I've only four more weeks of pregnancy, if I didn't have ideas laid out for every day, I'd probably just lay on the couch all day long and yell at the kids periodically to stop fighting. This way, for example, the kids know that we go to the pool M W F so they don't bother me about it T and TH. I did make a journal jar that has journaling ideas for the kids. They take turns each day picking out a topic then write and draw whatever they want.
I decided to change how I do chores for the summer because it just works better for me to play the chores a bit by ear right now. Most days my energy has been pretty high so I can do a lot of things myself, then have the kids fill in the blanks.
I find it interesting that I feel less stressed about the house and find it easier to do chores with the kids home all the time. I think partly it has a lot to do with not being so alone all the time. Yesterday I let Peter go to his friends house. Within a half an hour I felt extremely bored and didn't want to do anything. I realized that I really really enjoy my kids being with me. I cheated and just took the other kids to his friends house and hung out with his friends my (my friend).
Do my kids have to go back to school after summer? Am I going to be singing a completely different tune in another week? We'll see.
So far, so good. Woah. Deja Vu.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Baby Shower

After having three sons there is something extra special and exciting preparing for a little girl. It has been great putting the boy clothes in storage. I've enjoyed taking out the stroller, bouncer, exer-saucer, etc, and washing all the fabric. I love feeling the kicks, hiccups and movement of this little angel. I feel so grateful that for the first time all of our baby things fit somewhere without taking up all walking space. I am really enjoying the three and a half year gap between this baby and the last. It will be a little easier to hold and enjoy this soon-to-be addition to my already incredible family.
That being said, it felt extra special to have a baby shower this last Saturday. But before I go into great detail let me give a special shout out to my sisters, Laura and Kari, as well as my cousin (in-law), Katie. They threw me a shower when we went to CA for Kari's wedding. It was so much fun and I felt so loved and so special. They really went out of their way to fit a celebration for me and my wee little one in the midst of an insane week- preparing for Kari's wedding. My Aunt Charlene, my cousin Megan, and my newest cousin-in-law Ritz, also surprised me with their beautiful gifts and overwhelming kindness. I was pretty nervous about having a BBQ party (which was so incredibly TASTY) because I haven't lived in CA for so long that most of my friends have moved out. But it was fun to be surrounded by familiar faces (including LOUD ROB) and just an overall atmosphere of friendship and kinship. It was just perfect.
So, :), this last weekend I had a baby shower hosted by my friends April and Camille. Being our first home and our first real feeling of permanency, I think it lends itself to feeling like these friends are an extension of my family. My home away from home, and it's pretty incredible.
I was so afraid of having a shower and not having anyone there. I've moved so many times that I've made a lot of acquaintances, but very few true friends. (Though, my true friends of old, you know who you are, and I'm grateful I had and still have you to call friends.) Here in Aubrey, though, I've realized that I have more friends than I know what to do with. It's a new and very incredible feeling. And they're all girls!
So we had plenty of people there, plenty of food, and plenty of presents. Most were church friends, but it was also cool to have PTA, Karate, and neighbors represented. The more people I meet outside of church the more I realize how many great people there are out in the world. I love finding those great people and having their spirits a part of my life.
The food- oh the food- all I can say is thank you. This prego-mom enjoys good food these days, and there was plenty to be had. Plus, good good beverages. Italian sodas. Count me spoiled.
And now it's time for the presents. OH MY LITTLE GIRL CLOTHES ARE ALMOST TOO MUCH FOR ME TO HANDLE! Friends were teasing me because I kept laying the clothes across my belly like I was trying it on. I also made dresses twirl, squealed at ruffles on bums, and giggled for joy. I was overwhelmed by so much cuteness. Loveliness. Beauty. Darling tiny things.
It was so emotionally exhausting to be surrounded by so many wonderful things.
Thank you my friends for spoiling me, making me feel special, and sharing in the excitement of a girl.
She is going to irrevocably change the dynamic of this family and I can't wait.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Here, there, everything

I have been wanting to blog but haven't had anything in particular to blog about. I've been pretty sick for the last month. Not pregnancy sick, just sick sick. I am sure, though, that being pregnant is what has caused everything to be never-ending. Usually I don't stay sick for very long.
This month has also been strange because of the crazy Texas weather. We had two icy storms come through. One last four days, and one just one day. All five of those days there was no school for the kids and no work for Randall. No work= no pay in this household. We did file our taxes and got our return so that will help fill in the gap. It would be nice to get a tax return and not already have it spoken for. Between filling in the gap and going to CA for my sister Kari's wedding next month, we will at least not be in any more trouble.
But man, money can sure be a downer. I am currently applying for Pregnancy Medicaid to help fill in the enormous gap between insurance and medical expenses. There is an enormous gap because I don't have any maternity coverage on my individual health insurance. We were so happy to get almost completely out of debt when we bought our house and got our government stipend. It's frustrating to possibly be right back where we've been throughout most of our marriage.
I have a home. I have a husband. I have three great kids. I have a beautiful child on it's way. I think I should be very happy and very grateful for everything. But, honestly, mostly I'm stressed out about money, nervous about taking care of my kids with a baby, nervous about taking care of my regular chores and duties as a stay-at-home Mom with a newborn, and just mostly scared about mu future.
I had pretty bad postpartum after Blake. I had it after the other two as well but it has been worse with each one. I feel like I'm starting to feel the way I did post-Blake and I don't even have a kid yet to blame it on. Sure, I could blame it on the pregnancy, the hormones, my negative attitude, the fact I've been perpetually sick for the last month, among other things. But does it really matter where the blame is? The problem is that every time I am asked if I'm excited about the baby I have to dig down pretty deep in order to respond, "YES!" And then when asked if I'm excited to be having a girl.... yikes. I don't know. I always thought I'd be really excited to have a girl, but I'm not. I'm worried. Too worried to enjoy things.
Piano is going well. I'm enjoying my students and like the money. Andrew is enjoying karate-which is good because it sucks up so much money I can't believe I'm even doing it. Peter is going to be starting soccer soon, which I am over-the-moon about. I can't wait. Poor Blake needs a life and I'm such a party pooper, he's not getting much of a life from me. But he seems happy and is as silly as ever so I don't know what to do on that front.
After almost a year we finally painted a wall. It's gorgeous.
I wish I knew how to fix me.
This next month is a function for the art program that I am in charge of organizing and running. Talk about feeling way over my head. I'm not going to be on the board next year. I just hope I can get through next month. The art teacher has even suggested canceling it, which makes me feel just awful. This last school year in general it's been difficult to find volunteers, so it's just been very hard to find anyone to help me out. And when you're in charge of doing something that you don't even know what you're doing... you definitely need help.
I've got a great new system to doing chores in the house and it's been working really well. I'm hoping to get the boys to be able to help out quite a bit around the house without much side-by-side help so that when the baby comes, the house won't fall into mass chaos.
Did I mention how cute and funny Blake is? Also, we have a cat and I love him. He is a great entertainer for the boys, which has also been especially nice since I've been sick.
One more thing. Last night Blake sneaked into my bed at who knows what time. But then, at another point in time, rolled off my bed, whacking the bridge of his nose on my nightstand and falling to the floor. He's got a pretty awesome red slash mark across his bridge but is otherwise ok.
And. Yah. Valentine I was sick so I was pretty lame. I did manage to clean the whole house, including the boys bedrooms, which I told them was their Valentine's gift from me to them.
I have the best sons in the world. They are so sweet and so amazing.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Proud of my kids

Though the past three days has been incredibly stressful to me, I'm very impressed by my children. First I'll give a shout out to Blake who is growing up so quickly, potty training like a pro. Accidents are becoming very few and far between.
Peter and Andrew wanted to be a part of the Science Fair this year. It's very hard to help a kindergartner and a 2nd grader do a science project. I guess I could have made it easier by doing more myself, but I really tried hard to have my kids do as much as possible. As a result, Andrew's project was a complete failure. I was initially a bit disappointed, but then I thought, "Why does he have to have a successful science project?" The kid thought up something he was interested in (volcanoes and lava) and ended up with a question, a hypothesis, an idea to test it, and well, a lot of ingested chocolate. He wanted to explore why volcano rocks have holes. We talked about maybe since the lava cools so quickly, when gas bubbles pop it'll cool before it fills in the gap. So he thought of something similar to lava- chocolate. We melted it then poured it into three cups. One went in the fridge, one in the freezer, and one on the counter. We ended up with no bubbles. So we talked about how the cooling may have a lot to do with the lava rock holes but that chocolate doesn't have gas like lava does. We tried blowing bubbles into the melted chocolate before cooling, but still no bubbles. Oh well. He learned a lot about lava and lava rock and also, more importantly, learned that it's a good thing to always ask questions.
Peter studied static electricity. He found an experiment online and pretty much used that. But it was just really good practice to try to critically think not just about what was happening but why it was happening and how it matters. He also got to cut up a box, which is one of his favorite things to do.
I am so proud that my kids were so excited to be little scientists. I'm proud of their questioning skills. I'm happy that they put up with my stressful attitude by the end of tonight and ended their preparations being very pleased with their efforts.
Hooray for children.
Now I need a nap for the next twenty hours.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lesson learned

Saturday afternoon I got a call from my old Bishop asking if I would be willing to sing Amazing Grace at a funeral today. I was excited to be able to say yes. I had never sung at a funeral before and was grateful to be asked. I found a beautiful version on Amazing Grace as done in the movie of the same title. It adds a chorus line which is very inspiring. After editing it down and switching out a stanza, working with my pianist Sunday, and my personal practicing (so glad I can play the piano and sing), I was feeling really good. I even was worrying a bit that the song would come off as showing off instead of being appropriate for the occasion. Yup, that confident.
And then the funeral began. I walked through the viewing right before. Peter was with me, home from school sick, and wanted to look. We then sat down and proceeded to listen to two beautiful speakers. I didn't know the old gentleman who had passed away. It was fun to smile with and laugh with these family members and friends as they reminisced over their loved one. After the eulogy finish, it was my turn. I decided to sing he first verse A Capella and was given the first note. I took a breath and began. I couldn't get past the words Amazing grace before I started getting choked up. I actually decided to pause for a second to compose myself before trudging forward. It didn't get much better. Looking out at all those people who I now felt connected to, feeling the spirit of love and unity, seeing the tears in their eyes- ah man. I was toast.
I really didn't think I would have that hard of a time singing at a funeral of someone I didn't know. But getting through that song was one of the most difficult things I have ever done (in the realm of singing). But boy did I learn my lesson quickly!
I got a lot of good feedback after the funeral. I even had one of the sons come up to me and tell me how much he appreciated my song and that he would always remember it. I wanted to apologize!
But I know, I know. I didn't sing off key. I didn't botch the words. I passed to those in the audience a feeling of love and tenderness, of grace and mercy. And those feelings of being overwhelmed were the exact feelings they were going through. Part of me wonders if it would have been as touching to them if I had sung flawlessly. Just part.
This was a good first-time experience for me. I either need to stand in the foyer until my turn next time, or just sing at enough funerals that I can better learn how to channel or control my emotions.
And in the end I feel what I said to this man's son. I was grateful to be able to share this important moment with them. So, thank you.