Monday, March 18, 2013

Our Week in Pictures

 Last Saturday (the 16th), Kenny and I took turns going on a "date" with one of the kids. I took Brynlee ice skating for her first time and boy was that an adventure haha. I was so sore the next day from holding her/catching her the whole time! But I was really proud of the progress she made in the short time we were there. At first she couldn't even let go of the wall with either hand and had absolutely zero balance. But by the end she would skate for a little ways without holding on to me or the wall! So I would call that a success :). Above picture, we got ice cream cones while waiting for the rink to open up to the public. Below: She skates!

Kenny and Tyler went and saw the movie, Escape From Planet Earth and got lunch. Here they are looking so handsome ready for church. Tyler loves that they match in their suits :)
FHE on Monday we talked about faith being like a seed, and planted some seeds. Kenny was working late that night so I didn't have any help and they were very quick movers. So I'm not even sure how many seeds are in each pot, or if some got negelcted entirely. I guess we'll see with time.
Don't know what day this was, but they built quite the intricate zoo for all of the animals, each kind with its own respective cage. The dinosaurs got their own cages, in the far corner of the room so as to not eat the others :)

This is how Ty and Bryn go on walks with us. They will not walk on the road, but prefer to climb over every snow pile on the side of the road and take every challenge/obstacle head on. It makes it entertaining for the little girls in the stroller, that's for sure.

These two are just such good buddies. I love their relationship. I'm so glad that they have each other to play with. Brynlee is sort of like the middle child in the sense that Kelsey isn't old enough to play with. So she can play really well with Tyler, and also with Madison. But every day when Madi is napping (and it usually overlaps with Kelsey's nap too) I kick these two outside to get somne fresh air and play, while I clean up the house from the crazy morning. While I am teaching the older two school and piano, the little girls are free to wreak havoc on the house. So Ty and Bryn get sent out to play while I clean up. Some days I'll go out with them for a few minutes too, but I think it's better when I'm not there. They have so much fun together, playing in the igloo and roaming around back behind the fence. It's just them and the big open world, and they feel like such grand explorers going through all those trees in the deep snow. In their minds it's a great adventure every day!

Like I said, these Bryn and Madi play very well together too. Usually dolls and animals. Here I think Brynlee is a horse :)
Messy eaters. Kelsey loves Mac and Cheese, and Madi enjoys girl scout cookies :)

I love how she loves books

We created our own "Spring Scene" with flowers, butterflies, flowers, rainbows, sunshine...all our favorite things about spring. Alaska doesn't really get spring. We are beginning "the break off" or "melt" right now, but we are excited and anxious for the snow and ice to melt.
Saturday morning we went on a fun family walk and tested out the new backpack carrier thing we got for Kelsey's b-day. I told Kenny I wanted to get one for all the hikes we will be going on this summer. So he found one in great condition at a pawn shop for less than half what it normally costs! I was so happy about it. It works great and Kelsey has never been so happy for so long outside with us!
Carrying Kelsey on his back and Madi on his front. :) The night before I was up in the middle of the night with Kelsey. I was carrying her back downstairs to bed with her in one arm and her bottle in the other. I slipped and fell and landed on my back pretty hard and bounced down several steps before stopping. Luckily Kels was fine and I wasn't hurt too bad, but my back has been hurting this weekend. That's why he's carrying all the kids.

It was pretty cold, but nice and sunny! We found lots of tracks that were fun for the kids to identify. Captain Kenny is the best guy to explore with. In the pictures above there are mice tracks on left and rabbits on the far right.

I ended up being gone alot this week; Wed. was YW, Thurs. was a YW Aux. training meeting, Fri. I babysat for a temple swap, and Sat. I went to a soccer game for one of the YW. Kenny got bedtime duty 3 nights in a row and was very helpful. I always know that the kids are in good hands and having a fun time at home whenever I have to leave. I appreciate his support so much.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rambling and Kid Updates (Very Long)

1. As I mentioned earlier, the days are getting warmer and the sun is coming out more and I have been seriously bitten by the SPRING CLEANING bug. Cleaning my oven, wiping down walls (rather having my children do it to contribute), going through closets, etc. Also, in preparation for downsizing we had a big CLEANSE of our game room for our FHE activity on Monday. The kids all helped and were totally okay with it. We gave them each a little bin and they got to keep their favorite toys, and then we also kept the basics (legos, blocks, playdoh, etc.) and got rid of the rest. We donated some to the nursery at church, gave a few more to a friend, and dropped the rest off at the Salvation Army today. It feels so good to not have so much STUFF. We had (and still have) way more than we need. It wasn't even decisions between wants vs. needs, it was between burdens vs. needs! So a purge is always good for the house and good for the soul :).

2. I made a new resolution this week that I will no longer be on my phone or computer for personal time so long as my kids are awake. No more blogging, facebook, instagram, or tv during the day when my kids are awake. I think there are WAY too many things that take us away from our families and our responsibilities and what we should be doing. I had an experience where my eyes were glued to my phone and one of my kids walked up and asked me a question and after I didn't respond, they walked away. I realized that I had just completely ignored my little girl and felt horrible. It wasn't the only incident, and I knew I needed to make a change. This has made a huge difference, and I feel good about it. Social media is unnecessary, and I only get one chance to raise my children. I don't want to waste my time away reading about what other people are doing with their lives. Who cares, really?

3. I finished our blog book again. I think this is so cool. I love having a tangible family record, with pictures included. The kids love flipping through these pages, too. It's always fun to look back. Reminds me of how quickly they change and how fast time flies.

4. Kenny and I took turns going to the temple this weekend, me on Fri. night and him Sat. morning. It was some much needed personal time where I could be alone with my thoughts for several hours. I spoke in church today (Sunday) and always appreciate meditative moments.

Updates on the kids:
Kelsey: This little girl is a ham! She pulls some funny, flirty faces and cracks me up! Every single time I sit down, whether on the couch or the floor, she will stop whatever she's doing and come and sit on my lap. This little girl loves me so much and that's one of my favorite things about babies. How their whole face lights up whenever mom comes in the room. She is always so happy to see me, and always so sad to see me go! She doesn't eat very well lately. She doesn't want real food or baby food, just a bottle. My guess is she's teething again. She's a great little walker, and communicates well for not talking or signing. When she's poopy, she comes over and hangs out by me until I figure it out. Every time. And she has done that for months. When she's thirsty, she goes and gets and empty sippy cup out of the cupboard and brings it to me. (I keep all the kids dishes low enough for them to reach, obviously.) When she's hungry she'll go to the pantry and get some of her baby food and bring it to me too. Very smart, and obviously the fourth child as she's used to having to figure things out for herself. :) She's into everything constantly and I always forget how busy 1 year olds are until I have another one reach that point. She keeps everyone alert.

Madison: This little girl can just be as sweet as can be! She is so happy when she wakes up and has the biggest smile. She sings a lot and just is so pleasant. Then I have the thought, "2 year olds are the best! i just love this stage!" And then all of the sudden something will make her mad and she will bite Brynlee and I think yep, that's a 2 year old for ya. She definitely has her stubborn moments. She is very nurturing and loving to her babies and toys. She has specific toys that she carries around all day and calls them "her friends". She dances with them, plays peek-a-boo with them, talks to them, reads, etc. It's super precious. She's a great helper and is usually the first to respond when I ask for help setting the table or cleaning up, she jumps right in. She often sings while she's on the toilet and it sounds just like "Boo" on Monsters, Inc. I love it.

Brynlee: Since Tyler has been doing piano every day with me, she's also requesting doing piano also. So I do sit down with her every day and we do about 5-10 min. of piano and she loves it. I don't push it, I don't really think 4 year olds should have to do an instrument, but she keeps asking, so I think it's great that she's anxious to learn.
Brynlee puts Madi down for a nap almost every day. It's so funny. I go down there with them and read a couple books, then Madi wants me to leave and have Brynlee stay with her for a little longer and then Bryn comes out and shuts the door, and Madi sleeps! It's so sweet, and honestly kind of helpful. She also runs to Kelsey when she's crying and says "Oh Kels don't cry, your big sister's here! It's okay Bryn's here!" I love it.
When she wants to do something that she knows she shouldn't, especially if I just barely and deliberately told her not to do she'll say "Mom, close your eyes!" Or she tells me, "When you walk away I'm going to...(fill in the blank with what I just told her not to do)." I appreciate her openness and forewarnings, but I'm not sure what to do about her way of thinking that she doesn't have to listen to me. She's just not very good at listening period, as today in primary I was told she's taken to doing somersaults off of her chair... you can bet we had a discussion when we got home from church.
While driving in the car she was watching out the window and said, "Look Mom! The sun is following us!"
In the parking lot there was some slushy water that had colors in it from the gas and she got so excited. "Mom! A rainbow is on the ground! It must have fallen out of the sky and landed right here!"
Started ballet class and didn't stop smiling the whole time. She was in little girl ballerina heaven! :)

Tyler:  Ty is still just a good, awesome kid that does what he's suposed to. He is very pure-hearted and continually surprises Kenny and I with his questions, his desire to do what's right, and his spiritual maturity. He bore his testimony all by himself last Sunday. He went up by himself and did a beautiful job, then sat down. I was so impressed. He remembers specific, thoughtful things in each of his prayers. He requests often that I sit down with him and listen as he reads the Book of Mormon. He just loves to do it. He helps out a lot, and does it very happily. I'm so lucky to have all my kids, but I love that he's my oldest as he helps set such a good example for the rest of the kids.

Some phone pictures

Tyler painted this picture then explained that it was me and Kenny watching a sunset with our arms around each other. Isn't that sweet?

Green eggs and ham for Dr. Seuss day

Cat in the Hat hats for Dr. Seuss day

Madison was in time out and crying, Kelsey walked over to her and gave her a hug. It was the cutest thing ever.

"just because" flowers from my sweetheart

First day of ballet--so excited!
dancing around the living with her friends

Spring cleaning

My beautiful baby


Kenny only worked a half-day on Friday and we definitely enjoyed having him home those extra hours. We had our friend David over to play, and they were all outside in the snow. Kenny looked out and said, "I bet I could go help them make something really cool." And indeed he did. We now have a big igloo in our backyard that can fit all the kids inside at once. They love it! They were great helpers, too.

Look at that teamwork!

The finished product :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Snow Removal

I think it's safe to say that Spring is right around the corner! The sun is coming out a little more, it's not dark for so many hours of the day, and it's been consistently in the 30's this week! We are very excited, to say the least. This last week I had a new rule that the kids weren't allowed to watch any tv or play any electronic games until they had played outside for at least an hour. It's been a wonderful rule :). It also means that the city has been trying to help the process along by removing a lot of snow. The kids had fun watching the really big trucks do all their work. Here's how it works..

These big trucks scrape it off the sides and push it into the middle of the road, one long line up the road.
 Then this other machine comes, sucks up all the snow and blows it out into this big truck. If you look carefully, you can see the yellow edge of it, and the snow pouring in from the top back there.

 Then they haul it off to the snow dumping sites. And voila! The main streets are all clear now, and the neighborhood streets are starting to melt. It gets all slushy in the day, then freezes again at night. But we are definitely making progress toward winter's end!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Iditarod 2013

Saturday, March 2, was the start of the Iditarod (the big dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome). We had such a fun time going out and watching it! It was such a beautiful, sunny day. Also very warm compared to last year!! Perfect to be out and about. The location we went to watch also had free lunch and hot chocolate, which was a double bonus! The nice mushers would even reach out and give all the kids high-5's as they rode past. The kids loved that! After that we headed into downtown and walked around to see all the Fur Rondy stuff going on. Then we went into the Anchorage Museum to kill some time, before walking back over to watch the Running of the Reindeer that didn't start till 4 p.m.. That ended up being a total flop because we couldn't see anything. Kelsey slept through it (on me) and Tyler got lost momentarily. The kids were totally worn out from all the walking we'd done during the day, so it was just really time to go home. But up until the very end we all had such a fun day! It was really great to get outside and not freeze to death (it was like 30-32 degrees!!)

Picnic in the snow: chili dogs, chips, cookies, hot chocolate.

Waiting with outstretched arms...

Reach! Reach! Got it :).

A random fur man. Madi is not so sure about him and wouldn't get any closer than that.

We finally made it home for baths, grocery shopping, dinner, Kelsey's birthday cake, scriptures, stories, and early BED!!! We were all quite worn out from the day, but what a great day it was :).

Kelsey's Birthday! 1 Year Old!!

My baby turned a year old this past week! I can't believe it's already been a year since she joined our family, that one crazy night. She is such a blessing and just so much fun to have around. She's a very easy going baby for the most part and loves to cuddle and snuggle, but then roams around the house very independently, too. A few things about her birthday led to her having a not-so-awesome birthday. But the good news is that she didn't (and doesn't) care one bit :). The other kids were a bit disappointed at the lack of decorations and the absence of gifts, but oh well. Since her birthday is on leap year, we decided to celebrate it on March 1st. Not for any particular reason, but we figured that we could push her into march since we have 3 others to celebrate in Feb. We ended up doing absolutely nothing that was for her, unfortunately. Brynlee had her first day of ballet class that morning, that afternoon I babysat 3 other girls. That night she got to come out to eat with just mom and dad while the other 3 kids went to a birthday party for a boy in our ward. We doubled with the Reeds and tried to get pizza from the Bear's Tooth, but the wait ended up being horribly long and finally they brought our food out after 8:30 p.m., (we were already half an hour late picking our other kids up) so we just told them to box it up and ate it in the car on the way back. Lame date, but fun to get to know the Reeds better. So we got home after 9 and had to hurry and put the kids to bed. So we pushed the whole cake and ice cream part of the evening to the next day, Saturday. Which also ended up being a crazy, busy day, but I'll blog about that later. For now, here's a few pictures of our sweet Kelsey Colleen. We can't imagine our family without her and her sweet, playful spirit. She makes us all laugh so much every day with her cuteness, and I just love watching the older kids interact with her. Kelsey you are so loved!!

Cheeser!! Please ignore the cake. We were in quite a hurry :)

Reading her favorite book, "The Alphabet Book". The best is when she sits in her teeny little chair and reads it like a big kid. She carries it around everywhere, chews on it, flips through it pointing at things and jibber-jabbering about what she sees. It's completely adorable.