Sunday, January 27, 2013

Being Home

The morning we got back I took Madi (along with the other 3) into the dr. to get her checked out. She had been having bad pains the last 2 days, and I was pretty sure it was a urinary tract infection. After being there for over 2 hours (mostly waiting there for her to pee in the bag) we finally got it confirmed that she did have a UTI were able to take care of it with an antibiotic. She had her 2 year well-check this last Friday and they checked her urine again (oh my gosh that is such a big ordeal for her. After 1.5 hours we ended up going home with a cup, she proceeded to hold it for several more hours, confirming to me that she is ready and capable of potty training!) and anyway she's fine now. It was a traumatizing day for her with 3 shots, that stupid pee bag, and random throwing up (many times) later that day. We spent our Friday night taking the car seat apart to wash every part of it(it had throw up all over it) and doing laundry. Thankfully Kenny had Friday off so it was just me and her at the appt. this time, not everyone. That, on top of Tyler and Kelsey getting sick again sure ruined our weekend plans. We did nothing but take care of sick kids and run a few errands. But such is life. After getting no sleep last night, I kept Ty and Kels home from church today, and pray that everyone recovers quickly.

It's nice to be back and doing our little routines again. That includes playgroup in the church gym on Wednesday mornings where they love riding their bikes and scooters and playing with other kids, and gymnastics for Ty and Bryn on Thursday mornings. It gets old fast because we stay there for 2.5 hours, plus the hour of driving. But they really love it, so I guess it's worth it. We just bring a couple bags full of lots of stuff to keep everyone busy and happy, including some school work for Tyler.

Tyler is always wanting to feed Kelsey. I've been looking for things I can have him do that help him to feel more responsible and like he's really helping out. So one day I told him he could feed Kels while I put Madison down for a nap. When I was coming back up the stairs he said, "we're almost done!" I smiled, thinking about how nice and easy that was to be able to take care of two kids' needs by letting him help. Then I came in and saw this:

hahaha. I'm pretty sure she was wearing at least half of it! But he was so proud of himself, and she didn't mind a bit :).

The kids helping me grind wheat to make some homemade pizza dough. They ALWAYS have to watch the wheat, it's like watching the popcorn pop. They can't miss it. :)

It warmed up to about 40 degrees one day this last week so we enjoyed a nice long walk and played outside. It was a beautiful day.

Kelsey has also started walking!! She doesn't do too much yet. But it's so fun to have her walk back and forth between Kenny and I. I love love this stage. She is into everything, obsessed with the dishwasher and emptying out drawers and cupboards, and just loves exploring. She's also mastered the stairs and can go up and down. HUGE relief for me :). She says "uh-oh", "hi", and "wooOw" in a really cute way. I can't believe she'll be 11 months in a couple days.

Madison got her stats at her check up this week and she's in the 90th% for weight, 99% for height, and 90th% for head. She is just a big girl, and everyone thinks she's 3. Not just because she's big for her age, but because she talks like a 3 yr. old. She's very smart,

Brynlee and Tyler are doing well too and love whenever it snows. They enjoy (for the most part) doing school every day. I get really frustrated teaching Brynlee, because she doesn't seem to retain much of anything. She does have other strengths, but I think I'm just used to Ty.

Tyler's started piano lessons from me. He wanted to do violin, but Kenny wanted him to do the piano for the first year since we already have a piano, and as a way for him to prove that he's ready and willing to take on the responsibility of an instrument. That he actually will sit down for practicing, etc. I didn't think that was necessary, so we compromised at 6 months of piano, then he can do the violin if he still wants to play that. Sometimes I get overwhelmed because anything that gets added on for anyone in the family just means more from me. More and more and more from me. Trying to find a way to stay on top of things, and do it cheerfully. I second guess myself a lot with whether or not to homeschool, if it's the right thing for Tyler or not. We're still thinking/praying about it. But in the mean time, I am submitting his name into the lottery drawings for the 2 charter schools that we'll be living near once we move to our new house this summer.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


We go sledding often. It's the only fun winter activity that I can do with the kids (without Kenny). Tyler and Brynlee absolutely love it and ask to go every single day. If only Madison and Kelsey enjoyed it a little more. Maybe in a few years they'll all love it! The reason there are no pictures of Madi sledding, is because she has to go on my lap. The best trips are when we drive over and give Kelsey a bottle in the car. She falls asleep right there in her car seat and we can stay longer and have a lot more fun! :) I know that sounds like a bad, neglectful parent. But we're not very many feet away from her, and I check on her. A lot. So nobody freak out.

 Action shots!

My cute little eskimo, Madi, trying to get up that hill

The Flight Home

We flew home on Monday, Jan. 14th. My dad drove us down to the airport (they live about 2 hours from Houston) since he had to fly out early the next morning. When we were about 30 minutes away, my mom called to let me know that I had left my baby bjorn at her house!!! This was very bad news. But there was nothing to do about it, it just made things that much more complicated. Flying with 4 kids by myself is hard enough, but when I don't have a stroller, or baby carrier or anything, it makes it tricky. I can't put her down, I can't go to the bathroom, I can't get any rest because I will be holding her the whole time. I started praying even harder.
 One of the airport workers that checks your tickets and ID through security, immediately got replaced right after she got us through that part of the line. Whether her shift was up, or whatever, she came right over to me and offered to help me through security. She took all the kids jackets and backpacks off and got us all through without any problems. We even left a backpack there, and while sitting at our gate waiting to board, she walks up and hands it to me with a smile. She had come and found us! I'm sure we weren't difficult to spot. People stared a lot. But anyway I was beyond grateful to her for her kindness.
Another huge tender mercy was that on the first flight, before our layover in Seattle, the flight was miraculously only about half full!! That never happens to us. But we got 2 whole rows to ourselves. 6 seats, when we only take up 4. So that made Kelsey and Madison so happy to be able to move around a bit on that 4 hour flight. That was exactly what we needed.
The second flight was really late for us. We landed in Anchorage at 11:49 p.m., but it obviously felt like 3 a.m. to us since we were on Texas time. So all the kids slept the whole second flight. I got some cute shots of the girls. Sleeping on an airplane (as everyone knows) is so not comfortable. I got maybe 20 minutes of sleep the whole time (holding Kelsey), but I was glad they were able to get some rest.
Tyler sat across the aisle on the row next to us. Again, we were blessed to have him next to a very kind, older, motherly lady who didn't mind at all that Tyler was often sleeping on her arm, or crossing over into her seat. She was so kind.

That night wasn't easy, I'll be honest. But it was a whole lot easier than it could have been, and I was reminded of the goodness of people, and the goodness of God. That again, often it is through other people that our prayers are answered. That night renewed my desire to be in tune with the spirit so I can be able to be an answer to other people's prayers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wrapping Up TX

A few pictures from our last few weeks there.
Tyler a.k.a. The Hulk got his first black eye
Poor sick Bryn. She is a really good sick child though. She doesn't demand a lot and is happy to lay miserably on the couch and watch TV. 
Madison reading Clifford in the sunshine
We drove down to Houston for Tim's soccer tournament. The Juergens live in Houston and were able to came cheer with us and even hosted all of us overnight! It was so fun to spend more time with them and see their cute house.
Kelsey was pretty slow to warm up to everyone. But my dad definitely took the longest, probably since he was gone at work a lot. But after about 3 1/2-4 weeks she finally decided he was alright :). My dad said he's never had to work so hard for someone to like him in his whole life, but that it made it all the sweeter! By the time we left she would lay on his shoulder, let him feed her, etc. Good thing we stayed for 5 weeks!!
One day while Tyler went down to Houston with Grandma for more soccer games, I took the girls to the park. It was the most perfect weather. We brought a picnic and stayed for hours.

Oh it was so nice to soak up the sun! We had such a great time with my family and were grateful they put up with us for so long! I was also glad we got to spend some time with Tim before he leaves for his mission. He and Ty have such a close, special relationship and Tyler just really looks up to him. So it's great that they had some quality time together. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's about time I cover Christmas

You know those times when you go so long without blogging and have so much to cover, that it overwhelms you so you don't ever blog, and then it keeps getting worse because the more time that passes, the more you are neglecting to blog about, but you can't possibly blog about current events until you catch up on major things from the past, and then you end up with run on sentences the size of a children's book?

That's about where I'm at right now.

So for the sake of my sanity, I'm going to quickly do a written update of Christmas, and I'll do the whole picture thing when I make our family blog book. That's the only way I see us moving on :).
Backing up...
My brother Tim got his mission call shortly after we got to Lufkin, TX. He'll be serving in the France, Lyon mission and reports to the MTC on April 3rd. I am SOO excited for him! It is really neat because he was born there back when our family lived in France.  But we moved back to the states when he was like 6 or 7 months old, so he obviously doesn't remember anything. But it's so neat to add another sibling to the french speaking family members. :) You can bet us older girls are planning a trip with my parents to go pick him up April 2015! I am dying to get back to France! I told Kenny I am going regardless, but I would love if he would accompany me so I can share that part of my childhood with him :).

Christmas week
Wed. Dec. 19th: The family party began to arrive! The Webbs and Jerri (Jeff and Kerri) arrived late that night.
Thurs. Dec. 20th: Steph had this awesome idea to have our family record ourselves singing some of our favorite family songs. Singing is something we ALWAYS do whenever we get together, and have for as long as I can remember. It was a Christmas gift to my parents, but it really ended up being a gift for all of us. I love that CD so much and the memories associated with those songs. That morning Steph and Laura went to the recording studio and Steph did all the piano playing for our songs. The whole afternoon was spent at the studio doing some of the singing, including Steph, Laura, Kerri, and myself. That evening the Bakers arrived, and later that night the Juergens too! Now the only person missing was my husband. :(
Friday Dec. 21st: More recording!! A huge thanks to the husbands who watched all the children while the wives sang. That really took up the majority of the day. We played games and stayed up talking that night. Kenny got on a plane after work and flew through the night.
Saturday Dec. 22nd: Left early in the am to drive down to the Houston temple. That's where we finally met up with Kenny!! Oh boy we were so happy to be reunited as a family! I was worried Kelsey would not want to go to him, since 2 weeks is a long time in baby time. But she dove for him and laid her head on his shoulder. My heart swelled. We didn't have much time though, we quickly left our kids with the single kids (and Tim's girlfriend, Lauren) and went to the temple as my brother Tim received his endowments. It was super cool to have ALL of the married kids and their spouses in the temple with my parents. I love moments like that. After the session we all met at Pei Wei for a delicious lunch, then rushed over to get family pictures taken! Some of them even turned out surprisingly! :) There are 10 grandkids ages 5 and under, so it was funny. Afterwards we drove back to my parents' house in Lufkin and ordered pizza. Poor Kenny was exhausted from not sleeping on his flight, so I drove back, not trusting his mental awareness :). So he did get a little nap on the way home. I was just so glad to be with him. Let me add, we were all wearing matching outfits all day long! My mom gave all of us girls a matching dress as a Christmas gift, and we sure got a lot of looks throughout the day. Some lady at Pei Wei asked if we were a choir. haha. Whoever has that many little kids in a choir is absolutely nuts. However, she's not too far off because we sang a lot that weekend!
Sunday Dec. 23rd: Church went well, and our family sang during sacrament meeting. After church we had lunch and naps for the little ones, then went to the nursing home which my dad is the administrator of and sang for all the residents.  After that we went out and saw the awesome house my parents are buying.
Monday Dec. 24th: Went on a morning run with Kim, Caleb, and Andrew. The boys went and played basketball, and all the kids loved playing outside. It was really warm, sunny, and beautiful day! We had a big, lovely Christmas Eve dinner. The traditional ham, au gratin potatoes, rolls, salad, asparagus, and pretzel salad for dessert. The kids put on a great nativity show and we all had a lot of laughs watching them. My mom MADE all of us (25) matching pajama pants!! Cami won the contest of designing our family t-shirts this year and they are super cute! We opened the back door and the kids could hear santa's sleigh bells, so they knew it was time to hurry and go to sleep! We didn't have a single protest!! :) The adults stayed up and watched the movie, The Nativity Story, and really liked that. It was fun to play Santa and then go to bed :).
This year was a little interesting as Tyler was told by a friend the truth about Santa. So that was really sad for me to have him find out so very young. But he handled it really well and did a great job of not ruining it for any other child. I was proud of him for playing along so well, to the point where I wondered if he had forgotten, but he hadn't.
Tuesday, Dec. 25th: CHRISTMAS finally arrived! we spent literally hours opening presents and the feeling in the air was so awesome. I just love Christmas morning :). So many happy children. We enjoyed a rainstorm-turned-hailstorm outside and gray skies as we stayed cozy inside exchanging gifts. It was a wonderful day. All up until 2:30 p.m., when Kenny drove off, back to Houston to catch his flight home. How awful is that to leave on Christmas day?!! I was so sad. But it was about $500 cheaper to fly out that night, instead of the next day. It just was bad timing that he just started his new job so he has no time-off built up.
That night I finished reading Les Miserables, a few hours before we went and saw it opening day in the theatres!! My parents were kind enough to stay at the house and watch over the sleeping children (or most of them sleeping haha) so we could enjoy the show. It was so great and I wished Kenny could be there with us.
Wednesday Dec. 26th: That morning we all went to the TX Forestry Museum and had fun learning about the logging industry in east Texas :). Then home for lunch and naps. In the afternoon we found a bowling alley and had a great time bowling. It was funny because the prices were outrageous for such a low-class facility, so we paid for 1 hour instead of per game. It was quite a mad rush trying to make sure nobody wasted time in between turns!!
Thursday Dec. 27th: More people started getting sick. Andrew took his kids and my older kids to the zoo and they had such a good time. But when they got back, Brynlee said she was so tired and fell asleep on the couch. She woke up with a fever and was really sick for the next week. Tyler got it the next day, and then a few days later Madison got it, and then Kelsey. Almost every single person left sick, or got sick shortly after. Isn't that the story of most people's family gatherings?! It wasn't a stomach bug, but just a bad fever, aches, chills, and nasty colds. I took 2 garlic pills every morning and every night and was miraculously spared from getting sick. But the party started leaving, with the Juergens and Jerri leaving that day.
Friday Dec. 28th: Bakers, Webbs, and Laura left too. Back to just us, my parents, Tim, and Sarah. We kept things low key for a while, as we were all quarantined with this nasty sickness.

This is long enough for now. I'll try to finish later.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My Embarrassing iPad Tragedy

A few days before Thanksgiving, we bought an iPad. The fancy pants new one. We even got one of those heavy-duty military cases to put it in, protecting it from the kids of course. I wasn't too thrilled about getting one, because I'm just not into the "latest and greatest". That's just not me. I thought it was an expensive luxury, not a need. But it turned out we used it a lot more than I thought we would. It helped me entertain the little kids while Ty and Bryn took turns in gymnastics and soccer classes. It was a great tool at church, and just every day use. We took a lot of pictures and videos on it. I recorded Ty and Bryn during their last day of gymnastics class, when I realized I had no proof of them participating otherwise. We also bought some software to convert our DVD's, and then put a bunch of them on the iPad and I used it on the airplane while coming here. I also recorded my little brother Tim opening up his mission call!! (To the France, Lyon Mission!!!) We used it every day. About a week and a half before Christmas, my mom was giving everyone haircuts on a Saturday. I brought the iPad outside to take a picture, since it was the second haircut of Bryn and Madi's lives. And that's the last time I remember seeing or using it. I know at one point I set it down on the back bumper of the Sequoiah, since I was holding Kelsey. I could've sworn I brought it inside after that, but since we looked EVERYWHERE and it hasn't turned up, I can only assume that someone drove off with it still on the back bumper, and it fell off on the side of the road somewhere. It also rained a lot the following 2 days, so even if someone did find it, it would probably be ruined. $600+ down the drain. I was seriously sick about it.

I am convinced that the universe has a large black hole where everything goes. For some reason when I lose things, it's not just like a sticker or a hair clip. They're big things. Like the time I lost my wedding ring a few years ago. (Although that turned up after 7 months). Or right before I was going to Utah for my brother's wedding this past August, I mysteriously lost my wallet. No one tried charging my cards or anything, and it's never turned up. I quickly had to go renew my driver's license in order to be able to fly out 2 days later. I swear I never thought of myself as an air-head, but boy oh boy, having kids has made me lose my mind!! And my iPad.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Before Christmas

Well hello again blog. It's been a while. We are still here in Lufkin, Texas and I should really start catching up a little. The problem is we have (I'm sure), well over 1,000 pictures with everyone's cameras combined of pictures from Christmas. It's so hard to choose, but I know nobody cares about hundreds of pictures over a 3-day weekend :). Anyway, here's a few pictures from before Christmas.

Bubble baths in Grandma's tub!

We have all thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine!

We didn't do anything too noteworthy, just played outside as much as possible and enjoyed soaking up the sun! The kids definitely noticed a difference from AK. Tyler said, "Texas is so shiny!" And the first morning of being here we went outside and Madi said, "Mom it's so bwight outside!" Though still chilly, it's so nice to have a break from winter.