Monday, September 30, 2013

Back to School 2013

I'm not going to lie.  By the time summer break was coming to an end, I was really ready to send the kids back to school.  Don't get me wrong, our summer break was great.  We had a lot of fun even though we didn't do something amazing every week.  But by the end, the kids (Maddie and Ian) had had enough of each other and I had had more than enough of their constant bickering/fighting.  So, when the first day of school came I felt like this:
This mom's kids seem to be sad about going to back to school, but not mine!  They were pretty excited.  Just not quite as excited as me. 
Alayna started preschool going to the same teacher Ian had when he was 3.  She goes twice a week for three hours each time.  I love her teacher and her little school.  I think their curriculum is fabulous and I expect Alayna will learn a lot this year.  I'm sure you're wondering how she is liking it.  I'd say she feels so-so about it.  Part of her loves to be a big girl who wears a back pack and goes to school, but she's also a real mama's girl and would love to be with me every minute of every day.  Plus, she has to follow rules at school and she's very determined to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it.  So she's got some adjusting to do, but I'm sure she'll do just fine.  In fact I know she's already improved over these past 5 weeks of being there.  Having her in school has given me the opportunity to volunteer at the older kids' school which I haven't really been able to do before now.

Maddie is in fourth grade now, which at her school equals big man on campus.  (Our elementary schools are K-4.)  One of her teachers from last year moved up to teach fourth grade this year and she was really hoping to be in that class, but she was disappointed on that one.  She's not too upset over it though.  She really likes her teacher and I just had a parent-teacher conference with her teacher who thinks "Maddie is just fantastic!"  A direct quote. Maddie is not a morning person so each day is met with grumbling about getting up and going to school, but all in all she likes it.  Soon she'll start volunteering in the library once a week and singing in the school choir as well.

Ian is rocking and rolling in first grade.  He also seems to like his teacher and he's made friends with the kids in his class, so school is going great for him too.  Last week I helped in his class doing reading with small groups of students.  Here I'll brag for a moment: Ian is so far ahead of the other kids in reading.  Even in his group made up of the top readers in class, he was obviously the strongest.  He is just quite a smarty pants so I'm interested to see how his teacher plans to keep him challenged throughout the year.  Ian is anxiously looking forward to his 7th birthday in just two weeks. :)   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Alayna at 2 1/2

You know that feeling when your kids are off doing something for long enough that you know you  should be worried about what they're doing?  A part of you is really enjoying the momentary calm before the inevitable storm.  I can blame it on being a bit under the weather or even just regular Sunday evening laziness.  The fact is, I knew I should have checked on Alayna when she was upstairs being quiet for so long.  When she finally came down I was hoping for the best, i.e. a poopy diaper.  (She often retreats upstairs for a little privacy to do her business.)  This is what we got instead:

This picture is worth 1,000 words, but I'm going to write a bunch anyway.  I might as well make a little record of this girl right now.
Coloring is one of Alayna's favorite activities.  The trouble is her rebellion against the "paper only" rule.  I suppose I can see how there could be some confusion since white boards are ok to color on and so are the laminated checklists Maddie and Ian have.  But I don't think my make up looks like markers.  She's gotten up close and personal with my make up too, so I'm confident she knows the difference.
Like I said, I think she's rebelling.  What can I say?  I have another child intent on thinking for herself.  Aside from her love of coloring, lately she's been loving watching Dumbo on Netflix.  She calls it the baby elephant movie.  Though she's not usually captivated by any show for more than about 30 minutes.  She is such a loving little sister!  It's so fun to hear her giggling and chasing and playing with Madeleine and Ian.  It cracked me up yesterday that after I scolded her for doing something naughty (probably coloring on something inappropriate) she cried for Ian to be the one to comfort her.  Just adorable.  She has a good little friend she plays with once a week or so and the two of them just giggle with excitement when they first get together.  She can sing I Am a Child of God beautifully as well as a few other songs.  She's really good at acting excited about anything if you phrase it just right.  For instance, I was changing her and getting ready to put her to bed and excitedly said, "Guess what we're going to do next?"  Her eyes get wide and she takes a big excited breath in waiting for me to tell her what's coming.  And tonight she was tired enough that I think she really was excited for bedtime.  Oh, and she loves p.j.'s.  She'd rather be in pajamas than anything else.  She calls 'em puhjays.  I mistakenly asked her to take her clothes off for the bath when she was actually in p.j.'s.  Don't worry, she corrected me immediately.  Definitely not letting that slide.  Much like her sister, she loves clothes.  Picking clothes, changing clothes, dress-up clothes, etc.  On laundry day, her pile is always the largest thanks to her fascination with clothes and being able to dress herself.
Anyway, I know these are mostly phases she'll soon grow out of so I wanted to get it down.  She's hilarious and she sure keeps us smiling. :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Girls' Bedroom

I dropped the ball on having a before picture of our girls' bedroom, but take it from me, it was nothing all.  Though I had made cute matching bedding (pictured here and here), once it was on their beds in our house, I never really loved it.  Maddie's bed was black wrought iron with a tall headboard and footboad so her bedding was obscured.  The same is true with Alayna's bedding in our black crib that was fine for Ian, but not right for Alayna.  Besides, Alayna never slept a wink in that crib.  Oh well.  So the time came that I was ready for our baby to move into a big bed and rather than do a toddler bed that she would soon grow out of, we opted for a twin and then I could do the room all cute.  So I did!
I was envisioning upholstered headboards and found this tutorial to give me some guidance.  I found the fabric for super cheap, so between that, the batting, the wood and nailhead trim kit, I think I made these two headboards for less than $50. I love how they turned out!

This picture is a bit closer up on the trim.  The little bookshelves are $4 spice racks from Ikea.  (Idea found on Pinterest.)  Our Ikea in Houston doesn't sell them, but lucky for me I have a very sweet sister in Arizona who was willing to get some for me from her Ikea and bring them to me.  Thanks, Mag!

Their dresser before.  A craigslist special.  I didn't do much to it, just changed the knobs.  It's a lovely piece of furniture that didn't need much.  Or maybe what it did need was stuff I wasn't willing to do.  Either way, it's perfect for them.  Look at all those drawers!

The picture frames with wire was something I either saw on Pinterest or at a friend's baby shower.  Probably both.  The mirror was a gift from another sweet sister (Olivia).  It used to be gold, which wouldn't have matched so I sprayed it silver.  I'm not totally thrilled with how it turned out but it evidently doesn't bother me enough to do anything about it since it's up on the wall.  I'd like to put hooks on the wall below the mirror.  That will happen someday, when I find just the right thing.
Here's the vanity before.  I was over the moon about this vanity!  It was exactly what I was looking for: attractive, functional, well made and not too pricey.  Also from craigslist.  It's probably an antique that I really shouldn't have painted it, but I did anyway.  And I love it!
Sorry there's not a closer shot.  Getting handles for it was a bit of a nightmare.  The holes are spaced oddly so there was pretty much one place I found online to buy the pulls from.  Then I ordered wrong.  The wrong pulls were delivered to my neighbor by mistake but they had already sent a replacement order to me.  So I ended up with 8 pulls that don't work for this.  Eventually I found the ones pictured here and I think they are a perfect fit.  Luckily since there were very few options.  I also found the stool on craigslist.  For $10!  I am still planning to recover the cushion since leopard print doesn't really go.  Olivia is to be thanked for the curtains too.  After I texted her a picture of the decorative pillows she said she had some fabric that would go well.  She was right!  

Another look at the beds, one last time.  I'm dreaming up some projects for 2013.  (Maybe in 2014 I'll blog about them.)

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Recap/Happy Holidays!

Where has the year gone??  I am regretting that I haven't kept notes on our doings on this much-neglected blog.  But since I am not giving up entirely for the year, I'll try my best for an informative but not too wordy recap of the highlights from 2012.

Alayna- Turned 2 in July.  She is one sweet and sassy little girl.  She is a very articulate speaker and we almost can't get enough of what she has to say.  Just tonight while we were reading scriptures she's listening then saying, "what's beseech mean?"  and "what's advocateth?"  In her cute 2 year-old voice it's just unbearably sweet.  We realize we have had enough of her voice for one day though when it's after 10 pm and she is still talking to/yelling at her sister keeping her awake.  We're still finessing bedtime, as you can imagine.  She is my constant sidekick at the gym, grocery store, etc. while the older two are at school.  She has lots of little buddies in the nursery at church including two kids who we have a weekly playgroup with.  She loves her baby dolls and is a very loving little "mommy."

Ian- Turned 6 in October.  With his Fall birthday, he is one of the oldest kids in his Kindergarten class.  You may recall that he did a Kindergarten program last year during his Pre-K year so although he has a handle on the curriculum for the most part, he really enjoys being at school.  He loves the atmosphere of being around friends and getting to do lots of brain-stimulating activities.  His favorite class is art, but I think he enjoys all the specials (art, PE, music, computer) almost the same amount.  In September, he started piano lessons and soccer.  He and Madeleine were on the same team and they both did fantastic.  Ian is really fast and he seemed to pick up the rules pretty quick.  He's also progressing well in piano.  He played Honey Bee and Jolly Old St. Nicholas at his first recital earlier this month.  He loves Super Mario Bros. on the Wii and anything Ninjago.

Madeleine- Turned 8 in May and was baptized in June.  (You only have to go back one blog post for that full story:)  This girl is rocking and rolling in 3rd grade.  We lucked out with her teachers because they assign very little homework.  She is expected to do the majority of her work in school including big projects, which makes me a little anxious, but she is doing really well and loving school.  Especially because two of her friends from church are in her class at school.  Pretty remarkable since there are 9 or 10 third grade classes.  Again, she was great in soccer.  The teams had kids from Kindergarten through 3rd grade so she was the oldest on her team and the tallest.  She'd like to do more soccer in the future but she's really hoping to play basketball next.  Althetics seem to come naturally for her so it will be interesting to see if she decides there's one sport she just loves.  Santa brought pogo sticks and she has already mastered that.  Even jumping with no hands!  Since turning 8 she gets to go twice a month to Activity Days with the girls her age at church.  She's doing really, really well at piano.  She's got a great ear and figured out how to play quite a few Christmas songs.    

Spencer- Working as a project manager at ExxonMobil.  He's really enjoying work and is constantly learning and growing.  He is also working on a second master's degree, this time in construction management.  Thankfully he's working on it slowly (one night a week, online) so he still has time for the family.  It will take a while to complete but he loves what he's learning about and feels like this degree will be a great addition to his professional skills.  He keeps fit doing Insanity workouts, which are awesome.  About once a month he plays the bass with a bluegrass band.  At church he is the choir director.

Rachel- Same old, same old.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.  I remember at the end of last year predicting more projects around the house and it turns out I was sort of right.  I redecorated the girls' bedroom, including making lovely headboards and refinshing a vanity.  Painted a bathroom too.  Not much, but honestly, running a household and caring for this family is one big ongoing project, right?!  I'm still an avid gym go-er so I can get some exercise and some me time all at once.  Spencer and I both sang in our stake choir's Christmas program.  That has become one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season.  I am still overseeing the nursery at church.  A job that has become much simpler since since our ward split about 6 months ago.

Additional highlights:
- A trip to San Diego at the end of April.  We got to see my sister Angela and her family, a few friends from LA at Disneyland, Curtis and Amy and their kids and Drew.  This really deserves a post of its own.
-Coldplay live at the Toyota Center.
-Two  camping trips.  One in the heat of late Spring (maybe this should be a lowlight) and one in early November (highlight).
-Spending a day and a half in San Antonio with my sister Erika and her family.
-Madeleine's baptism, complete with a visit from Grandpa Gus and Grandma Sandi.
-My sister Maggie and her family stayed with us in October.  NASA, Children's Museum, family time.  Sister time seeing Gotye in concert.
-Thanksgiving with another sister!  Olivia and Ben came down from Billings with her kids and stayed for a week.  Indoor Schlitterbahn, Museum of Natural Science, and NASA again.  Also great Texas BBQ (Rudy's) and Tex-Mex (Pappasito's).
-A couple running events for me.  A mud run one weekend and a nighttime 5k the next.

We love you all and hope you forgive us for not sending a tangible Christmas card.  We are so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and for the Christmas season to celebrate His birth.  Striving to be like Him and live His teachings brings us immeasurable peace and happiness. We are also so very grateful for all the amazing people in our lives. We are truly blessed!  We wish you all a wonderful 2013!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

8 years old and a baptism

Our oldest child is 8 years old.  Time goes by so fast!  Will that ever stop being so crazy to me?  Back in May, Madeleine turned 8.  She had been looking forward to it for a couple reasons.  One was that she was very eager to be baptized.  The other, and maybe what she was most excited for, was that we were letting her get her ears pierced this year.  She got them pierced as a baby but she kept pulling them out so we eventually quit putting them back in.  Then for the past couple years I thought about doing it as part of her birthday gifts, but each of those times it was decided that she had gotten plenty of gifts and didn't need another one.  So this was her lucky year.  And she has not been disappointed.  She counted down the days till she was able to change into different earrings and she still can't wait to wear some dangly ones. 

As you can see, I attempted a barbie cake.  It tasted good, I can say that for certain.  But if Alayna ever wants one in the future I hope I can learn from this experience what I need to do differently to make it a bit prettier.  Madeleine loved it though and since it was delicious it must have been a success.  Don't judge a book by its cover, or something like that, right?

June 16th was the big baptism day.  Her actual birthday fell the day after our ward's regular day for baptizing the kids turning 8, so she got to wait almost a month.  It worked out great though since it made it easier for a family members to come without missing work, etc.
We are so pround of her!  It feels like we are in a different stage of parenthood now that our oldest has been baptized.  Like the issues we are dealing with now and in the years to come are much different (and do I dare say more difficult?) than the things we struggled with when our kids were little.  It's almost like we can't claim to be young parents anymore though I definitely still feel young.  Our kids are older so we must be too, right?  Spencer is 35 now so I guess now we're mid-30's parents.  I don't know.  Just rambling...
Moving on.  My dad came from Mesa.  Thanks, Dad!  It was fun to spend the weekend with him. 
And Spencer's mom came from Oregon.  She stayed for a week and the kids were in heaven!  Truthfully, we all were!  We loved having her here and we really appreciated that she was here with us even though she may have wanted to rush off to see Holly and Mark's newest little one who was born during her stay with us.  Don't worry, she went to be with them when she left Texas.  We're hoping we can figure out a way to get Paul and Sandi to retire wherever we live.  Maybe we need to convince Spencer's siblings and their families to move here too.  It's pretty nice here, guys...come on...who's in??

Monday, July 16, 2012

Blogging again

I'm breaking my blog silence.  It's been long enough, right?  Not that it was intentional.  We had some technical difficulties (broken computer) that was the start of my blog neglect.  Then I got my iPhone.  Do you have one?  Does it make you feel like you almost never need to sit down at the computer ever again??  Well, that's how it is with me.  But no more.  I really like documenting what's going on with us this way so I am vowing to get back into it.

For starters, here are a couple pictures from Madeleine's and Ian's performance in The Sound of Music.  The YMCA has a Performing Arts program that put this on.  For a couple months they went to rehearsal 3 times a week to prepare for the show in May.  They had a good time, but I think they were ready for it to be over.  Three rehearsals a week got to be a lot.  It was for me, too.  I'm glad they got a taste of doing a play.  I'll be interested to see if they have any desire to do that sort of thing as they get older.

Madeleine had two roles: Sister Margaretta (obviously in this picture) and Romy, a made-up Von Trapp daughter who is just younger than Liesl.  They had to create parts to fit the children in the performance.  I think there were 12 or 13 Von Trapp children instead of the usual 7. :)
Ian played Kurt.  He was adorable.  We were originally just going to put Madeleine in the play.  As we discussed it more and more she was leaning toward not doing it at all (which would have been fine) but then Ian asked if he could do it.  He was adamant that he wanted to do it, so Madeleine came around and decided to do it too.

Here's what I liked about it: It got them involved in something cultural and exposed to a wonderful musical.  I love The Sound of Music!  We liked them being busy.  At times I hated how busy we were, but in general it was good for them to be out doing something productive than at home trying to watch too much tv.  Ian is very outgoing and comfortable in most settings, but this challenged Madeleine by getting her out of her comfort zone and they both were able to make new friends.  And the director had lots of good things to say about them.  You always think your kids are pretty great, but it's nice to hear it from an outside source from time to time.

What I didn't like as much was that the performance ended up being a glorified rehearsal.  The director was out on stage some and giving lines a lot.  But I completely understand.  There was one adult in charge, the director.  She had a couple teenage assistants and one mom who was very helpful (not me) and all the children in the play were under 12 years old.  A tough job, I'm sure.  Anyway, overall it was a good experience.

Keep this little blog on your radar because you know after six months not blogging, I've got loads to come!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

These kids...

  • Alayna is a bit of a thief.  At our gym, the kids get a numbered sticker on their back when their parents check them in.  My sweet baby makes her way around the other kids swiping stickers as she goes.  If one of the children tries to get away from her, she boldly persists till she's accomplished her goal.  The attendants in the kid's club fondly refer to her as "Swiper."

  • Madeleine and Ian helped themselves to some stickers we had stashed away and were putting them on themselves, empty soda bottles, etc.  Ian had one on the front of his shoulder and Alayna reeeaaalllly wanted it.  Her method at first was to tug on his sleeve with all her might, which is sayin' something.  The girl's got some strength.  But Ian is strong too and was able to shake her off.  So what did she do next?  She turned the tugging into hugging and when she was near enough, that sticker became hers.

  • I was in my room "working" on the computer while the kids played in the backyard.  I heard what could have been crying, but I'm not the mom that goes running out at that sound so I kept working.  Soon I heard Ian come in, snoop around in the kitchen, grab a snack and then he slowly made his way to my room.  I think he was supposed to be "rushing" to tell me Madeleine was hurt.  Good thing it wasn't serious because that message was not delivered with much urgency today.