Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Decisions, Updates, and an Afternoon Outing

 I have a really hard time making decisions. Seemingly simple things like, what kind of ice cream to buy, what to make for dinner, etc. can be really hard and take a long time!! It's not something I like about myself, I just don't know how to be so confident in knowing exactly what I want and what to do at every moment of life. There's a lot of big (for real big) life decisions we're having to make right now, and it's stressful. If it's not keeping me awake at night, they sneak into my crazy dreams, haunting me all day and night. I understand it's part of being an adult. And I know at some point I actually DO have to make a decision and go with it whole-heartedly. But sometimes I just wish somebody would just tell me exactly what to do and when. I'm pretty good at following directions, just not making decisions.

I haven't talked about the kids specifically for a while, so I'll do a quick update. You know, for family journaling.
Kelsey: She is so ready to potty train. Before she would just sit on the toilet fully clothed and yell "Moooom, come and wiiiiipe me!" (just like Madison does). But now she's actually taking off her pants and diaper and getting on the toilet. I never enjoy potty-training. But it looks like I need to bite the bullet because she really wants it. And heck, I want it to, I just dread the process of getting to no diapers :). I've never had the older child be potty trained before the next baby came. I've also never had one be 2 years old before the next one was born, so I'm very excited at the thought of only one in diapers.
Whenever I tell her, "Kels, you're so cute." She says, "No you're so cute!" And we go back and forth telling each other "No you're cute!" haha. It's a fun game. But now she ends it pretty quickly by saying, "We're ALL cute!" :) We took her crib down the week I left for Utah. Not because I was rushing to get her out of a crib, but because she was climbing out of it every night and getting on the bunk bed with her sisters. So we decided it was safer to just get rid of it and have her sleep there anyway. Obviously that's what she wanted. It's pretty cute because she is a snuggly little girl and will sleep right up close to (or on top of) whoever is on the bottom bunk with her. She is often playing "kitty" and crawls around the house "meow-ing". She likes to sit up at the table with us in the morning and she asks me for "school work". So I give her an old workbook to color in and she feels like a big kid.

Madison: Another milestone in the family, Madi has recently crossed over into not needing pull-ups at night anymore! I'm so excited about this! The only thing is she will wake up during the night crying because she needs to go potty and is just delirious and not fully awake. But I'm proud of her. She is very excited about a new baby, and often tells me how big my tummy is. She's entering a new phase of being very defiant. She's normally a very sweet-natured and easily-persuaded child. But lately she's decided she has a mind of her own and things should operate on her schedule and by her ideas. I recognize her desire and need to have a little more control in her life, because it's often over little things that she reacts so horribly about. So we're working on that. But she is very sweet and is concerned about what Heavenly Father thinks about her behavior. One time after she had thrown a big fit about sleeping with Brynlee's blanket instead of her own at nap time. She had finally calmed down and she said, "what is Jesus saying now?"
She's a big girl and is always just one size behind Brynlee. So she just inherited all of Bryn's 4T clothes, and Brynlee is now in 5. Now that's she's a little older and more capable of keeping up, her and Ty and Bryn make up quite the trio and have a lot of fun together.

Brynlee: Her love language is so apparent and strong I never have a hard time wondering what she needs. The way she expresses and needs love is through physical touch. She still snuggles right up next to me or puts my arm around her and lays on me when I'm reading books to everyone. She needs lots of hugs every day! :) Sometimes that's one good thing about having a dog, is she can go to him to snuggle when I'm busy or not available. But our dog is pretty stupid and not always nice, so it doesn't work as well as I would like it to. That was one of my reasons for getting a dog--but Jake is sort of a dork. Anyway.
For the longest time I struggled teaching Brynlee. Ty was always so easy and picked things up really quickly, and even enjoyed doing school stuff. But with Bryn and her very short attention span, I have had to learn a whole new approach. Everything needs to be very light, and in a game-form. I was often so frustrated with how much I tried and tried to teach the same things over and over for months, and seemed to be getting nowhere. But lately we seem to have somewhat of a break through and she is all of the sudden ready and interested. Before she wouldn't (or acted like she couldn't) read from a paper or book. But whenever I pulled out the bananagrams and we just made up words for her to sound out, it was a fun game and she could do it. We're finally making our way through our Bob books and other beginning readers and she's slowly but steadily progressing. I still am careful to not push too much on her. She has just a very carefree and flower-child spirit. She will make believe and play happily all day long. I just try to sneak in teaching things without being too formal. She's now doing piano also from me, and that is kept very short too :).
One funny thing about Bryn is that she is so small and skinny, but yet she is probably our heaviest walker. She just stomps around as if she weighed 3 times what she does. I can't figure out how one little girl can be so very loud! Lol
I helped her count her money in her piggy bank the other day and she said, "I have enough to buy a whole tractor!"

Tyler: He is one of my "big decisions" I talked about earlier. I don't know what to do with him next year. I was so certain I was going to put him in public school. But I go back and forth every day. Mostly because he doesn't want to go. He is practically begging me to not make him go. I think he would like it if he were there, because he loves other kids so much. But he's concerned that he won't have the time he wants to build Legos, and do his artwork, and play outside. Which is true...but I don't know. When it's the long, dark, winter days I am dying for him to have something more to do. And heaven knows we have long enough winters here in Alaska. But when the sun is out, like it is now, I just don't know if I'm ready to give up our freedom and be so tied down to a school's schedule. He is doing great though, and is not behind in anything so I know this is working for him. We'll see...
Some funny things Tyler said lately: He held something up and said "look Mom! This was made in China!" I said, yeah most things are made in China. He said, "Why? Is it because China is so awesome?!"
Kenny and I are immature and still think "your mom" jokes are funny. So we still say it to each other a lot, jokingly. The other day we were looking at an ad on craigslist and I said, "It sounds pretty sketchy." Kenny: "Your mom's pretty sketchy." Tyler: "It sounds like you guys are always comparing your parents." Hahaha.
Last one. Kelsey was jumping and almost fell off the couch and Tyler says "That was so scary I almost had a heart attack in my brain!"

Here's some pictures from an outing to our favorite Beluga Point yesterday. As soon as we round the corner and I can see the water and those gorgeous mountains I just instinctively take a deep breath. We love it there.

Looking for whales. Brynlee made all sorts of claims about all different varieties of whales :).

Sketching the mountains. He finished it in the car because it was so windy and cold.

This rock looked like a heart to me.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Recent Pictures

It has been so gorgeous and sunny lately it's hard to stay inside. Even though we're still in the 30's every day, it's so nice. Here's a few shots from the past week or so.

This was actually while I was gone last weekend

"Spring baseball" just isn't quite the same here.

 One day during the little girls' nap time, T & B helped me make some fresh, homemade, strawberry lemonade. Brynlee made the strawberry sauce part, Tyler squeezed all the juice out of the lemons because he has the biggest muscles. It was a delicious addition to our dinner that night.

 Attempting to fly a kite. There really wasn't much wind. And the snow in the field is still pretty deep, which makes for interesting running when your husband is wearing moccasins instead of boots. (When will he ever learn?)

 Saturday night I did sponge curlers in Brynlee's hair for the first time. Every single Saturday night when I was a little girl, my mom would put these curlers in all of the girls' hair (there's 6 girls in my family) while watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Good times :). I couldn't believe how much she loved it. She kept going back to look at herself in the mirror (with the curlers in) and saying how cute she looked. Ha! Her hair has stayed cute and curly even through today.
My cute Madi helping out with Sunday baking. I made the delicious Chicken Pillows from melskitchencafe and everybody loved them! It took a while to make, but it also made twice as much as we could eat. So we'll enjoy it twice this week.

 Feeding the ducks. Brynlee really likes to just run around to make them all start moving and flying. Tyler thinks it is so cruel and constantly pleads with her to stop. She won't be stopped.
They wish they had ice skates. But it doesn't stop them from running around on the ice skating rink.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I'm Back

Every year, all the women on my dad's side of the family (all the female descendants of my great-grandma Mynoa) meet together and hold a Legacy Conference. It's very similar to like a Time out for women, or BYU women's conference, etc. Except it's way more awesome because we're all related!! I don't usually get to go. In fact, I've only been once, back when Tyler was my only child.

But this year. I have really been needing a get-away. I needed a few days of space; time to think, re-focus, and fill up my ever-draining well. I needed to be missed, and I needed to miss my kids as well. This legacy conference would provide exactly that, plus the added bonus of being with my mom and sisters! So with Kenny's understanding and support, we found a way to get tickets, arrange for babysitters for 3 days, and prepared for me being gone.

They dropped me off at the airport on Wed. around 8 p.m., but I didn't fly out until 1:40 a.m. We just didn't want to keep the kids up too late. Got into SLC at 10 a.m. Thursday. We all stayed at Kim and Caleb's little apartment at Wymount. I have never heard her complain about living on the 3rd floor, or not having a dishwasher, or a washer and dryer, and she's pregnant with her third. Great example to me! During the day we ran some errands, and hung out. Kerri made us a yummy dinner, and we ate at hers and Jeff's even tinier apartment at Wymount. They just live across the parking lot from each other which is so fun. That night we went to the "Sacred Gifts" exhibit at BYU art museum. It was amazing. We rented the iPads and could listen to details about each of the paintings, or spiritual music, or interviews, etc. I really loved it. After that we girls drove to the airport to pick up Steph!! We of course stopped at The Malt Shoppe on our way back to get some delicious late-night shakes and fries. with fry sauce! I haven't had that stuff in years. We stayed up late talking, of course.

Friday morning the Legacy Conference started at 9 a.m. It is always held in my old church building in Orem which brings back fun memories. I took lots of notes and loved what was said. I loved hearing good ideas from lots of other mothers and enjoyed even more discussing everything afterwards with my mom and sisters. We snuck out for lunch at Cafe Rio. We always have a list of food places we want to hit up while in Utah. Went back for more Legacy until 4:30. Stopped at the distribution center to get some things. That night we ate dinner at Zupa's. We had planned to go to the dollar movie and see the Walter Mitty show, but they were sold out. So we went bowling instead at BYU and had a great time. Laura and Tom met up with us there and now we were finally all together! (All that were going to come anyway). Again we stayed up way too late talking! :)

Saturday was more legacy. Lunch at In 'n Out. More Legacy. Dinner at The Pizza Factory. From there we drove down to Spring City, UT to stay with my Grandpa Backus and Joyce. We watched the movie, The Saratov Approach and enjoyed that.

Sunday went to church with Grandparents, enjoyed the gorgeous weather and their animal neighbors. Joyce made a delicious lunch for us all, as usual. They are the best hosts and I always love going down to their house. We drove back up to Mapleton, UT and stopped at the Tobler's. (uncle greg and aunt sharon) Grant and Marci and their kids also came to join us. We enjoyed visiting and ice cream. Reminded me of when we lived there and we would all get together on Sunday evenings. I do miss Utah. We went back to Provo, and Kim put her kids to bed. Then a few of us went to visit with Shirley, our cousin. We always love chatting with her!
Tom, Laura, me, Steph, Kerri, Jane, Jeff, Grandma Joyce, Grandpa, Eliza, Kim
Mom, Samuel, Sarah, Caleb

Monday my mom, Sarah, and I had a lazy morning. I went on a nice walk up to the Provo temple (yes it's in walking distance). We went to the Cougar Eat and bought some of their yummy mint brownies to bring back to our families. Then we went shopping! Lots of great stores there. I got some maternity clothes. We quickly ate lunch at Kim's and headed up to Salt Lake. We didn't have much time, but still stopped at the Church History Museum. Lots of great paintings about women and their acts of charity. Inspiring stuff. Then we went to the airport and said goodbye. Always sad to leave, but I was really missing my babies and hunky husband back home. 7 hours later I was back in Anchorage. They got over a foot of snow while I was gone :(.

It was SO good to be there. To talk about so much with other women whom I love and admire, and who are "in the trenches" just like me. Or, who have been there, done that, and I can learn from their wisdom. I felt very rejuvenated and ready to be a good mom again. I came home to a mountain of laundry, children that hadn't been bathed the entire time I was gone, and dirty floors that hadn't been touched. But I didn't mind at all. It was comforting, in a way. I am needed here. This is my job, and I try very hard to do it well. No matter how menial and trivial my daily tasks are, I keep life running smoothly for those I love most, and I take pride in that. Sometimes I just need to be reminded.

That next night I was woken up 3 times by Kelsey (who is getting used to sharing a big girl bed), once by Madison (who just needed to go potty and didn't want to pee in her pull-up) and once by Brynlee (who had a bad dream and spent the rest of the night sharing my pillow). Yes, it's good to be home. :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sledding at Hatcher's Pass

Kenny sure got a good work out hauling kids up the hill!

Found this car recently burned at one of the pull-offs when we got out to take a picture. It still smelled like it was burning so it must have been very recent.

Saturday, March 8th we went out to Wasilla again to hang out with some friends--several of Kenny's old work buddies from URS. We met at the Stafford's and all had lunch together. There was a new family (Jeremy and Becky and 3 kids), they just moved here from Houston 2 weeks ago--I could really sympathize with them :). Another single guy (Ira) who recently moved here also from Houston. Tim was there, but Christina and their daughter were gone visiting family so he was alone too. It is so fun to get together with a bunch of great families whom we share a lot in common with. We've all moved around a lot, and most of us have lived in the same places too, because they all worked for the same company. We had a good BBQ lunch and chatted, then went up to Hatcher's Pass to go sledding. I have been there once in the summer, once in the fall, and now once in the winter. It is just gorgeous year-round! The mountain views are just stunning. It was pretty busy with lots of people on snow machines, skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. The hill was huge!! It took a long time to get up, and then you got lots of snow blown harshly in your face on the way down. But it was a beautiful sunny day. And despite Kelsey's complete inability to walk for more than few steps without falling with such deep snow, we still had a great time together! 

Towards the end we had an accident. Not as in a physical injury, but one daughter wet her pants. Then when we got home and I put the girls in the tub and went downstairs to clean up, when Kelsey poops in the tub!  Never a dull, or clean, moment with little kids! :)

It's a Boy!

Friday morning at 9:15 I had an ultrasound. The baby is growing great! Everything was looking perfect, and he's even measuring ahead, especially his head (which makes me a little nervous...). It makes me so happy and grateful to see a healthy baby growing inside and moving around non stop. Unfortunately he was a little uncooperative in getting the right pictures of his heart and face so I have to go back in a couple weeks for that. But we were especially excited to find out it was a boy! Not because we would have been unhappy with a girl, but because I knew how badly Tyler wanted a brother! Carmin was kind enough to watch them for us while Kenny and I went to the appt. Later that day Kenny picked up some cupcakes (I called and ordered). We brought them all around the table and had the cupcakes under a blanket. We had told them the frosting would tell them whether the baby was a boy or a girl. We recorded the whole thing, so I'll just let the video do the explaining of the very opposite reactions we got!

Hopefully that link will work. It was pretty fun! Brynlee has since decided that it won't be so bad after all. I think she and Tyler had just built up this competition on opposing sides and it was more that she lost (or was wrong in guessing) more than the fact that she's upset about a brother. Anyway, we are so excited!!

This was the picture I used on facebook and instagram to publicly announce it :)

That afternoon we went ice skating (indoor) at the Dimond Mall. Kelsey and I didn't get skates, but daddy helped the older 3 and it was hilarious! Tyler and Brynlee had improved a ton from the time we got there to when we left. Tyler especially looked like an old man hobbling around very quickly. I was laughing a lot just watching them all. We all had a fun time and hopefully they'll be able to continue to get better. Not many kids up here don't know how to ice skate, so we've got to get on board so they can have fun doing that in the long winters. I wished so bad I had my good camera, but a few lame phone pics will have to do.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

If it's going to be cold, we might as well have some fresh powder to play in. We were so happy to wake up to it still falling and a few inches on the ground. Brynlee was so anxious, I had to convince her to eat breakfast first. But a little after 8 a.m. she was bundling up and outside playing. The others soon followed. They stayed out there until about 10 when we came in to get ready for play group (but not without a cup of hot chocolate first). 
I love the heavy, thick flakes that fall gently and continuously.

 Tyler asked me if he could get paid for shoveling the driveway. Yes, please! I told him I would give him one dollar if he did a good job. Well he did the walkway and the driveway and it took him almost 2 hours! I was so impressed with his hard work and determination. I know that's heavy snow and his muscles were no doubt sore by the end. He even used the big shovel. So I surprised him with $2 and he was very pleased. He really did do a great job!

He works hard for his money :)