Wednesday, October 12, 2016

August Pictures

 My brother Tim and his cute wife Lauren were in Texas for the month of August in between semesters at BYU so we got to see them a couple times! They were such good sports to put up with my crazy kids who couldn't leave them alone.

 HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRIGGS!! 2 years old and as cute as can be. Bday was Aug. 12th.

I love these flowers that bloom up our walkway.

Kid Updates

I haven't written an update on each of the kids in a long time. Heck, I haven't really blogged in a long time, and I am sad about that. Life seems to be crazier than ever right now and it's hard to find time to do it. But after a really bad evening yesterday with Becca, she slept all night! So I woke up at 5:30 and wasn't able to go back to sleep. So I'm going to try to take a few minutes and record life these days.

Rebecca is 2 months old now. She is chunking up so nicely :). She is completely adored by everyone. I think the sweetest interaction is with Brigham. He loves her so much, and tries to talk to her and give her kisses often. He always says "I hold it! I hold it!" So I let him "hold" her on his lap and he's tired of it after about 2.5 seconds. My favorite thing is to just talk to her. Her pretty blue eyes just light up and she's so alert and happy and social. I totally teared up the other day when I was just so overwhelmed with love for this beautiful, perfect baby. She has been a challenging addition, but I love her so much I don't even understand it.

Brigham is 2 years old and still really not talking very well or very much. He uses a lot of grunting/mumbling noises and sound effects with a few real words thrown in there to communicate. He has had a really hard time since Becca was born and started throwing the worst tantrums. It could be because it also coincided with him turning 2 years old. Also his inability to communicate effectively contributes to his frustration I'm sure. But whatever the cause, he's been a challenge. He mostly picks on Kelsey and those two fight and scream like you wouldn't believe. They go back and forth between being best friends and worst enemies in the blink of an eye all day long. Their relationship is exhausting to say the least! I sometimes with they would just completely stay away from each other, but of course that's not going to happen. It's way too fun for them to pick on each other. But Briggs can become quite physical and violent. He hits and tackles people and throws things. But can also be the sweetest little boy you've ever seen. That's a 2 year old, I suppose. He is pretty obsessed with cars/trucks/trains/etc. and is rarely seen without one. He loves to hang out on the riding lawn mower and just sits on it all the time. He's also quite into balls and loves to just run around the yard kicking a ball. He is seriously the cutest and most handsome little guy. He's got a shaggy head full of hair that needs to be cut right now but he still looks so cute with his tan skin and brown eyes. He moved into a big boy bed about a month ago and has been doing really well. It was a seamless transition from his crib. He's also sharing a room with Kelsey now, which may or may not be a good idea. But so far it's working out really well. Tyler just likes to stay up late reading every night, so we had to change rooms around. There's just too big of an age gap for them to share a room. He is such a thick, solid, and heavy boy. He's an incredible eater and very independent. He will play by himself outside for so long, just riding his bike around or driving his cars in the bin of kinetic sand I leave out there for him.

Kelsey is 4 years old. She's learning to read and absolutely loves it. She's picking it up really quickly and feels like a big kid. She is in and out with joining us for homeschool, but she always surprises me with what she hears and remembers when I think she isn't listening. She's becoming more self sufficient and loves to make her own sandwiches at lunch and wash her own hair in the bath. I'm happy to let her do these things because it makes my life easier with every little thing my kids can do for themselves. She is such a sweet and loving girl, but almost to the point where it's way too much and I don't know what to do about it. Her love language is physical touch and she's always giving lots of hugs to everyone, and can often be very clingy to people. I feel bad because I know it's very innocent on her part; she just loves them and wants to show them. But I know it can be very annoying for people when she won't get off their lap or leave them alone. Mostly it bothers me as she's acting that way with boys in our CC community!! She is the biggest flirt I've ever seen and she's only 4! It is both hilarious and terrifying. She is somewhat of a picky eater and causes the most struggle at dinner. I've given up the fight and put her back in pull-ups at night time when Becca was born. Sometimes she would go a whole week without wetting the bed, but other times we couldn't go 2 nights in a row and I was so tired of washing sheets every day. I'm pretty bummed about that, but I've stopped trying to fight it and think that I can will her into not peeing at night! She is our most sneaky child. She tends to escape quickly and hide everywhere! Especially when it's time to clean, she is usually hiding under someone's bed or behind a door or something like that. It's pretty frustrating and I hope she breaks out of the habit quickly. With so many kids it's easy to sort of forget about them if you can't see them, and she has figured it out way too quickly and takes full advantage of it. So I'm trying to be more vigilant and demand that she stop sneaking off and hiding. Not a good habit to be into. I'm strongly considering putting her into speech therapy as she still struggles with the letters S and R, and has a few other funny habits that make it hard to understand her unless you're focusing really hard. She loves playing dolls and animals, doing crafts and reading books. She's growing up so quickly and I need to take more time to be with her individually.

Madison is 5 years old. She is still just a really easy, helpful middle child. She has such a gift for seeing things that need to be done and doing them without anyone asking her to. She's much more aware of situations, or people and their needs and just stepping into help. It's really quite amazing. She does particularly well with numbers and math, just like her dad. But she doesn't seem to be making much progress with reading. It's sort of plateaued and I try to not let it frustrate me. After daily requests I gave in and started giving her piano lessons. I think she feels like one of the big kids when she can say she has to do her piano practicing too. She is playing soccer this season for her first time and really loves it. Or at least she claims to. :) If you were to watch her on the field you probably wouldn't suspect it. She's very shy out there and is not a very fast runner compared to the other kids, but she still loves it and has a great time so I'm happy with that. Anything to keep her active and healthy is fine with me. She still loves dolls and takes care of all her babies so diligently. She is extremely nurturing and sometimes bossy :). Madi has such a silly side and loves to joke around and just be silly and funny. She is the one in our family that plays well with everyone (typical middle child I suppose) and is such a big helper for me with Briggs and Kelsey.

Brynlee is 7 years old. She recently started up lessons on the violin again and she's very happy about that. She loves her piano and violin and I never have to nag her about practicing, she just seems to genuinely enjoy it. She likes to make up songs on the piano too and is always asking me to transcribe them for her, which I still need to do. (I'm always putting her off and saying later, but still haven't done it.) She's also been doing dance the last few months but won't be doing it after this month. It's just too expensive for what it is and while I know she thinks it's fun to be in a class, I don't think that she cares that much about dance in particular. So hopefully we can find something else to suit us better. Bryn often gets overshadowed as she's sandwiched in between two kids who love the spotlight. But she is really a great kid! She is kind and generous and very helpful. She loves to talk to Becca and hold her when I'm busy. She is pretty shy in general, and often in her own world. She loves to craft and create, and is always writing stories. She has so much energy and moves quickly from one thing to the next, often leaving a mess in her path. She has found a cute friend at CC that she loves to be with and that makes me happy to see her having such a good time with another good little girl like herself.

Tyler is 9 years old. He is a reading maniac! He recently read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, and then immediately began the Harry Potter series, and he's currently on book 5. Sometimes it's a problem as I have to constantly ask him to put his book down to eat a meal with the family, do his schoolwork, go to bed, etc. Although truthfully I am very happy that this is the biggest problem we have with him. I'm so glad it't not a video game obsession or something like that. He is playing soccer also this season and really loves it. He's improving a lot and I'm so glad he loves it. He also spends a lot of time doing legos and drawing. He's also made a great friend at CC for which I'm grateful. I've been praying that we'll find him some good friends. Homeschooling is a great thing, and I know it's what's right for us, but it can also be very lonely. He just hasn't found a great friend in our ward unfortunately. Not too many kids to begin with and we live so far away from them all anyway. I would really love if we could find some good kids in our neighborhood. Ty's a great helper and loves to have big responsibilities. He helps with yard work a lot, working with his dad. He also helps keep the pool clean and does a great job with whatever we ask him to do. He still loves to tease his sisters to the point of tears, but overall he is a great kid. He went on a fun father/son outing to dinner and a movie the other day and had fun with Kenny.

I'm pretty blown away at the incredible, wonderful little people we have to raise. They have beautiful, pure spirits and teach me so much. I am so deep in the trenches that sometimes I forget about the outside world and feel like I've lost myself. But I know that a heavy investment in their early years will hopefully pay off in the end. It won't always be quite so intensive, and I feel God sustaining me from day to day. I feel so blessed to have a healthy body to be able to work and teach and serve my family. We have so much to be grateful for amidst all the challenges.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Rebecca's Birth

Rebecca is 5 weeks old today, and I'm just now sitting down to recount her birth. I don't know why I  think it's so important but I want to remember it, and I want her to be able to read it when she's older.
So backing up to August now, actually further. When Kenny left for his trip to Alaska at the end of July (Yes I need to blog about that too) I asked him to give me priesthood blessing before he left. I wasn't super concerned that the baby would come while he was gone, because I never have my babies early. But of course it was a possibility. So one night after the kids went to bed he gave me a blessing. Wow! I don't think I really realized how much anxiety I had about the baby coming. But I just started crying and felt such peace and relief that I would be able to handle yet another child in our already busy home. It gave me strength and reassurance to remember that Heavenly Father is keenly aware of my situation and my needs.

Now to August...she was due on the 4th, and my due date came and went. I was huge and very uncomfortable. Going past my due date this time wasn't nearly as awful as it was when I went over with Briggs. Probably because with Briggs, my mom and Sarah had come with the intent to help out after his birth. They had been there for about 12 days, and he decided to be born in the morning on the day they flew home. So that made me very upset. Thankfully I didn't have that pressure this time since my mom is just 1 hr. 20 min. away! :)

On Saturday night we watched TV after the kids were asleep. I noticed I had a few contractions about 15 minutes apart and told Kenny. He said that if I was in labor we should go on a walk and get things going. But I said that I would rather get some rest while I could and that if it was labor, then it would happen on its own. So we went to bed and I would sort of wake up to contractions and go back to sleep. But I finally got up around midnight and got in the shower. I blow-dryed my hair and packed some stuff in a bag for the hospital. I sat in my rocking chair and listened to soft music while the contractions came. I called my mom around 1 a.m. I think and told her I was in labor. She drove out to our house and we drove to the hospital. Kenny gave me a priesthood blessing before we left, which I'm, always very grateful for. I had a lot of peace throughout this whole experience and I attribute that to the countless prayers I'd said in the preceeding months, and the priesthood blessings I'd received from my husband. I was prepared for whatever and knew that everything would be fine. We got there around 3 a.m. and it took a little while to get checked in. I told Kenny on the way to the hospital that maybe this time I would just get an epidural. I hadn't planned on that, I had been preparing for another natural birth. But the pain always gets to me and makes me question my decision. So I said it would just be a lot easier this way. My contractions were getting pretty strong at this point and by the time we walked up to the labor and delivery unit, I was having to stop walking to breathe through them. The nurses were all pretty chill until they checked me and realized I was at an 8, and that it was my sixth baby. I asked if it was possible for me to get an epidural still, and she said it was too late.  I had gone there with the thought that soon all the pain would go away, and then I had to quickly change my mindset. Surprisingly I was still very calm about it, and just thought "Alright let's do this!"

They all started moving really quickly and called the doctor and got things ready. One thing I really hate about the hospital is how they have so many stupid procedures to go through. They have to give me an IV and get me all strapped up to the baby monitor and sit there asking me a hundred questions and having me sign papers, etc. while I wish they'd leave me the heck alone and just let me focus on having a baby! It didn't last long though. The doctor came in and introduced herself. I'd never met her before, but I really liked her. She was calm, confident, and helpful. This was my fourth natural birth, and I think I felt more in control of my thoughts this time than any other time. I had continually prayed for angels to attend me there and I really felt strengthened by that. I knew I had women on both sides of the veil praying for me and helping me. I knew my body was capable, and this time I stayed in check mentally, and was much more positive. I kept repeating the scripture in my mind, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me." Kenny was super helpful, too. He held my hand through it all and repeatedly told me I was doing such a great job and reminding me how strong I was. He loves when they have the baby monitor on me because he loves watching the chart as it rises and falls. I think it helps him feel more involved when he can get a visual of what's going on with my body haha. I don't know how long I pushed for, but it seemed a little longer than other babies. My mind sort of checks out sometimes while I'm pushing and it's like I'm not in my body. I don't know how to explain it, except that I have no memory of certain parts of it and I don't know how much time passes. Probably only like 1 second, but it's still weird to "come to" during those times. She was born at 4:20 a.m. just as perfect as can be. She had a full head of dark hair, and a good pair of lungs. There is just nothing like the euphoria of when they place that brand new baby in your arms. Once the cord stopped pulsing they let Kenny cut it. I put her skin to skin and started nursing her and she took to it immediately. Then they weighed her and we found out how very big she was! I was expecting in the 9 pound range like Briggs, but she was 10 pounds 5 ounces and 21 inches long! Such a perfect, big baby.

Here's an interesting thing with my kids' birth weights. The first 3 were in the 7 pound range, and have gone up a pound every time since then. So Madison was 7# 10 oz.. Kelsey was 8# 1 oz. Briggs was 9# 8 oz. and now Rebecca 10# 5 oz. I told Kenny we'd better stop because I don't think I could do an 11 pounder! Yikes. Once all the nurses and everyone left the room we finally got to decide on a name for her. We chose Rebecca Lindsay Weston.

Kenny went and got me some breakfast and chocolate milk--which is my victory drink after having a baby. :) He didn't stay too long because my mom had to get home since Kim's kids were at her house and Kim had flown out that night (of course! haha we know how to time things). So Tim had gone over to my parents house to be with kim's kids, so that mom could come out here to be with my kids haha. But they all had church duties so Kenny went home and my mom left. He brought the kids by that day to see their new baby sister. They were so excited to see her and hold her. It was just the sweetest thing. My heart was so full of love for my family. Such tender moments.

I was able to go home on Monday afternoon. We are so blessed to have her in our home and as a part of our family. Of course there's a lot of adjustments and challenges that come with a new baby. But it's all part of the journey. Learning to gracefully accept the good with the bad, the easy with the hard. They seem to always go hand in hand. Some of life's biggest lessons to be learned amidst childbearing/rearing. Mostly we are so grateful to God for entrusting another one of His beautiful spirit children to us. We are all "healthy, happy, and terrific".

going home! love these big kissable cheeks.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

More Visitors!

***I wrote this post like 6 weeks ago or something. I still never got the pictures, but I'm just going to post it and move on since I'm so behind.***

My computer is being too slow and dumb to load pictures, so I'm just going to have to write down what I want and add pictures later.

My cute sister-in-law Kerri, and her two darling girls Jane and Lyla flew all the way from Germany BY HERSELF. We were lucky enough to have her down here in Texas from the 12th-18th. On Wednesday, the 13th I drove into Houston and my mom babysat our kids while Kerri and I went to the temple together. We did initiatory work instead of  regular endowment session. I had a really neat experience while in the temple. During one of the names, I could feel my daughter's spirit so strong! Not as like a baby though. It was just her, but her spirit was mature and older and equal to mine. I knew she was right there with me, and it felt like those words in the blessing were just for me, and tears were just streaming down my face it was such a sweet and powerful experience. Not only me, but the temple worker who was there giving the blessing was also crying really hard and told me afterwards that she had just felt this really strong connection to the early saints and when they used to give each other blessings before they gave birth. It was so memorable and I was really grateful for that tender mercy. I'm getting so excited to hold and meet this sweet babe.

I went home later that afternoon so Brynlee could make it to her dance camp. I had signed her up long before. She had a fun time, and I love it because it's about 5 minutes from our house! :) I am thinking I want to sort of only give my kids two options of extra curricular activities. We have soccer fields and a little dance studio super close to our house so I'd like to just say you can pick one of those two things and then I don't have to drive all over the place. Anything and everything else is a half hour away. Anyways...they did a different dance style each night for 4 nights and she had a lot of fun. I wanted her to get a taste of each of them so she's sure of what she wants to do if I enroll her in anything.

Thursday the 14th, my mom and Kerri and Cami and their kids all came out here to our house! We got to celebrate sweet Lyla's first birthday! They all stayed the night and we had fun swimming and playing around the next day. They left in the afternoon. I was so glad I got to know Kerri a little bit better and now the kids will have real memories of playing with their Germany cousins instead of just google hangouts on Sundays :).

That evening we had been invited to go swimming with a couple families in our ward. The couple that invited us doesn't have any kids, and the other family that came has one little boy in nursery with Briggs. I felt bad that we severely dominated their pool, but it was fun to get to know them better. We're still trying to make friends and get to know people in this ward. Then we went home and put the kids to bed. A couple hours later my cousin Elise and her family arrived! They're on their way to Virginia for a family reunion and I was so glad they stopped here on the way. I haven't seen her in years! Our kids were getting along so well and it's only too bad we couldn't be with them longer. It was a short but sweet visit.

Madison is currently obsessed with becoming a police officer when she grows up. She and her cousin Sam really got into the movie Zootopia and each take one of the main characters and role play the movie out. My mom has been so nice to further indulge this fantasy with getting them police officer costumes. She can often be seen wearing her hat and badge around the house, even the pants too. The other day we got pulled over by a cop because he wanted to let me know one of my brake lights was out (which Kenny had told me a couple days before we just hadn't gotten around to getting it fixed). But Madi was very happy to see a real live police officer in action. Then this weekend we had another cop show up at our house looking for one of the daughters of the people that used to live in this house before us. I gave him the information I had and that was it. But as soon as Madi saw him she ran and got her hat and came back out to the door. He laughed when he saw her and complimented her on her "nice hat" haha. She was so pleased!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Aquarium, etc.

 This past Thursday I went to Houston again. My parents are out of town, but Kim and her kids are staying there right now. Cami came out and hung out too and we took the kids swimming. I stayed the night and the next day Kim and I took our kids to the Houston Aquarium. It was once again a little overpriced, but it was something to do out of the house and the kids really loved it. We had a fun time, and then went to Sonic for lunch afterwards. I came back that afternoon, since I needed to pick up Kenny and Ty that evening. We're obviously trying to soak up a bunch of cousin time while we can before the Bakers leave for Belgium. Caleb's there right now on a house-hunting trip.

 Eliza and Kelsey. They have somewhat of an intense love-hate relationship, but I was happy to catch them showing some love this time :).

The favorite part for everyone (except Madison of course) was touching all the sting rays. They're so slimy!!

A few extras:

 I'm pretty freaking huge this pregnancy. I've gained a lot of weight, and I'm also dealing with my hands and ankles/feet swelling a lot which is new to me. I've never had that in all my other pregnancies and I don't like it! I guess it's from all this heat and humidity.

 Went on a fun ice cream date with this cutie a while back.

 They love to color
Washing Cato in my shower

4th of July!!

This wasn't on the 4th of July, but I need to throw this in here. One day I went down to Houston and met my mom and Kim and kids at the Miller Outdoor Theater. They do a lot of free concerts/plays for children throughout the summer. This one was a bunch of youth musicians. It was awesome to see them all perform--they are so good! It was just under an hour long, so a good amount of time for the kids. Then we went over to the little picnic tables in the shade and ate our picnic lunch that we brought. We went back to Grandma's house afterwards and went swimming, of course. Then dinner and drove back home. A fun outing for the day!

Independence Day!!
That morning I dropped Kenny and Tyler off at the church, as they were leaving for the week on a campout. Kenny had to go for Young Mens, and a couple boys weren't able to go last minute so there was extra room, which meant Tyler got to go along! More on that later though. 

The Bakers had driven to our house the night before and spent the night. Monday morning we made a delicious breakfast of Texas shaped waffles with fresh berries and homemade coconut syrup. YUM! It was so good. Kim and Caleb were so fun to play kickball with all the kids outside in the blazing heat. We swam a lot off and on that day, and just hung out. I was really wishing Kenny were here at dinner time when I nearly ruined our awesome meal with my horrible grilling. But they were kind and wouldn't admit that the BBQ pork chops were under-cooked and the vegetable kebabs needed more time too. Agh! It was embarrassing. But oh well. We had a yummy American flag fruit pizza for dessert which was fun. Caleb gave a great little lesson on why we celebrate Independence Day, and told the story of George Washington crossing the Delaware River. Then they played some football while we waited for the sun to go down so we could do fireworks. We didn't have any big extravagant fireworks, but we had fun anyway. And plus our neighbors were putting on quite a show too, so we didn't miss out too bad. :) Once we were all sufficiently covered in mosquito bites and ran out of sparklers, we called it a night. What a great day we had, though. I am so proud to be an American, even if the near-future does look bleak. I am always so inspired by the founding of this great nation and what we stand (stood) for, and what we have accomplished because of the principles of freedom and good morals. May we ever fight to preserve that!

 Briggs was super scared of the fireworks (especially the loud ones). He kept crying and clinging to me and going inside the house. But he came back out for sparklers :).

June Fun with Cousins

This cute picture was from Father's Day, June 19th. We sure love this guy. I'm so glad he's the father of our children. They're all totally crazy about him, and he takes his roles very seriously, which I'm grateful for.

This is really random but every night we have 3 or 4 little lizards on our bathroom wall. It's sort of fun and weird entertainment for me and Kenny. As we brush our teeth we watch them catch and eat the bugs that come because they're attracted to the light. 

I bought some poster maps to hang in our school room. Kenny hates when I just put posters on the wall. He thinks it's tacky, so he quickly made some little frames for them. :) 
Now on to the fun part: COUSINS!!
We have been so lucky to have so much cousin time this summer, and it's not over yet! My sister, Kim, and her family are in the US for a little while in between Cambodia and Belgium. They have been travelling all around visiting family, and are ending up spending a lot more time here in Houston than they originally planned, as different things are getting delayed. We're not complaining at all! They had stayed with the Webbs in NM on their way down from Utah, and so they caravaned together down here. One day we had fun making tie-dye t-shirts! The kids all loved making them and wearing them and they look cute. We went to see the movie Finding Dory and most of them wore their shirts. It was a cute movie too. Thanks to us taking up two rows and lots of popcorn/candy, Briggs didn't leave the theater. He just wandered around and ate a lot, going back and forth between me and Grandma.

We spent a couple days in and out of Cami's house. Steph and I and our kids stayed at Cami's, while Kim and her family stayed with my parents. 
One time the kids put on a little art show for us. They all did their art work, and then we hung it up all down the hall and they each stood in front of their piece as the adults toured it and admired all of their talent ;). Cute kiddos.

It's really hot so of course we mostly just swim a lot!! Cami's neighborhood pool is way fun with slides, a kiddie pool area, and a splash pad. Plus the playground!

These 3 girl cousins all born within a couple months of each other. Millie, Kelsey, and Eliza.

 Grandma is so fun and is always playing with the kids

 Pizza dinner at the pool

Then we moved the party out here to our house for the weekend! We went to Gator Country one day. It's really close to our house, and one of the few things to do around here. It's run completely by rednecks and interns haha. But the kids loved it (all except for Madison. You will notice she is either not in the pictures, or she's plugging her nose and refusing to touch the animals. She didn't want to smell, see, or touch anything! It's so funny to me how different my kids can be.) They got to hold and pet different kinds of snakes, lizards, and alligators. It was pretty overpriced for what it was, but I'm glad we had the experience :).

On Saturday night Steph, Kim, and I decided to drive back to Houston and hear my dad speak at Stake Conference. He's the Stake President in Houston and we'd never really seen him in action! So once we got the approval from Kenny and Caleb, we left them in charge of all the kids and took off for a super fun night together. We got there in time to enjoy the whole adult session, then we all went out to eat at Chili's afterwards. Then of course stayed up late into the night talking. It was such a rare and unique opportunity for us to be together without any kids and we soaked up every bit of it. I sure love my parents and I'm so grateful for their righteous examples. The next morning we waited anxiously for the rest of our crew to arrive. This is the first time Kenny's had to get all the kids ready for church by himself, not only that but they also had to drive an hour and a half to come join us for the rest of Stake Conf. They all walked in literally as it was starting, and I tried not to be embarrassed at the state of my daughters' hair. But really it looked like none of them had even had a brush run through it haha! Not only that but they walked right up to the front two aisles where we had seats saved. It was a long 2 hour meeting with all those restless little ones who had just been in the car for so long. But we all survived :).

That night we all went over to Ben and Charlotte Allsop's for dinner. It is always so fun to get together with them. We stood around the piano and sang family songs, just like we always did growing up. It was even around the same piano because they're hanging onto my parents' baby grand piano since they don't have room for it in their apt. Brought back lots of great memories. I haven't had the privilege of singing with my family in years and I only wish the rest of my siblings could've been there too. These wonderful family relationships are what make life so sweet. I'm so blessed to have such a great family, and to have married into such a great family, too!