Friday, September 1, 2017

best of Canada so far (in moments)



(I wrote down these few things on our 3rd day in Victoria -- hopefully there will be more to follow of the next 2 weeks of our trip! :)

* Sunday morning, Jordan took Ellie and Isaac for a walk, and I loved getting ready while the boys so happily played animal cards with each other in the bedrooms.

* Staying up late one evening, Jordan teaching Owen binary, Owen so proud to show me what he'd learned.

* Sitting in the grass at the park across the street from our airbnb house, taking turns reading with one of the kids at a time while the others played.

* Watching Porter play at the park with a little friend while the other kids ran laps

*Jordan's brilliant plan after our first afternoon, filled with grumbling, etc.  fighting/complaining/grumbling = 1 lap around the park. Phewph.

* Watching an older couple in the park doing this beautiful yoga/dance kind of exercise, the woman watching the man, following along, both of them so graceful, calm. I wanted to go join them, instead I tried my own version back in our kitchen, just for a minute.

* Sharing a hot fudge brownie sundae with Porter (so good, even worth ice cream sharing which I don't love to do!)

* Landon sitting in the middle of a dozen baby goats, just sitting and sitting, then one goat cuddling right up onto his lap. And watching Porter combing the goats hair, encouraging Ellie to not be worried and come on in.

* Letting Landon reach into the pond at Beacon Hill park for a treasured Canadian dime

* The super nice cashiers at the grocery store who were so patient and kind when my credit cards weren't working. And the man behind me completely patient and encouraging, "good luck! I hope you can get that worked out!"

* A surprise afternoon adventure. We picked up subway and looked for a park to picnic, ended up in a beautiful forest, then after a lovely walk, ended up on the other side at a shore where the kids came alive running and splashing in the water.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Starting track (from early this summer)



Yesterday I took the kids for their first day of track with Logan's rec club.

Something about the long day, the afternoon fits/fatigue, the new environment (which for me means overly anxious and for the kids means lets run around and be wild and free and explore), the missing naps, the emergency bathroom needs... it was all kind of a disaster and I was just super crazy and frazzled by the end of the two hours.  But, the highlights were:

1. I was too upset to dive into what would have been a typical "Well, what do you think? Was it awesome? Did you love it?" So, the kids kind of on their own just brought out the good parts. And I think if I'd jumped in with all that, they may have just said "eh."  So it was a really happy surprise to see them decide for themselves what they really thought, and to be able to find the good parts without my help!

2. We invited a friend of Ellie's to take Owen's place (since his broken arm meant he couldn't run this season) and she was so super cheerful and excited to be there that Ellie caught on to her enthusiasm. (And having a friend along probably helped temper my evenings's frustration, though I wondered if she might have been thinking something like 'Wow, Ellie I didn't know your mom was so mean!'

So we made it through, and with those two highlights even decided to try to figure out how to make it work instead of just giving up.

And tonight was better!

We had lots of snow today (one week till summer break!) so they moved inside and everybody was just a little more contained which made me feel much better.  I had back-up plans in case of falling apart children,  and I had Landon's sweet prayer from last night in my mind all through the day "Please help Mom feel calm and relaxed..."

The kids were doing so well I even invited Jen to come over and join us with her boys to run around and play for a bit.

So, we survived. And we (I) didn't quit after the first day. And on we go with a fun new activity for these kiddos to try out!


**Update, now that track has long been over. The kids did awesome. There were some tears along the way... I think this was the first time for Ellie when she really pushed as hard as she could at something like this. Once she realized that it was okay to feel so tired/spent/exhausted, and even that she was supposed to feel like that, then she was able to do really great. She still reminds me every once in a while that she did not like track, but I think she also felt pretty proud of herself. Landon was amazing at the track meet - he'd finished all the events he'd signed up for and given his best, and then when friends asked him to do the 1 mile (the hardest event) at the end, he just did it. I loved watching these guys working so hard and doing so well.  Also, reading this now I was reminded of how this was happening during the last weeks of school when life is just hectic, and Jordan was in London for work so I'm not surprised looking back that I felt so frazzled! :)


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Trombone!



Landon brought his new instrument home yesterday and it was a great celebration at our house! He met us over at the park after school (where Owen was having soccer practice), and was so excited to show us, so he buzzed into the mouthpiece and put his trombone together and put on a little concert-of-first-day-playing-noises for us (and the other park visitors/neighbors). Landon was so great about letting all the other kids in the family try it out, and taught them what to do. Later in the evening, we had a marching band through the house that ended in the basement with Owen doings special claps, and Porter on the metal mixing bowl drum. And it was just such a joyful noise!  I went downstairs to congratulate the performers and Porter asked "Want to join in?!" Such fun. Owen finished his morning jobs before school today in record time so that he could try out the trombone, or even just listen to Landon practice. (And asked last night about saving up to buy his own!) What a fun intro to this new experience for Landon!

Progress!


Our wonderful home teacher brought over his trailer on Monday, and we enlisted the help of our kiddos after school to bring all the boards up from our basement - and now they're gone, hooray! We've had this crazy pile of boards and drywall down there ever since we took the closet out, and hadn't made any progress downstairs since then. But finally getting all of that out, we're feeling again like we can move forward. (Also, we just committed to hosting one of Jordan's coworkers for a week in November, so now we have a deadline to get things done!)

Yesterday Jordan and I talked through again what we want to do -- this feels like the hardest part - just making decisions! We still aren't sure, but maybe a little closer? Hopefully we'll keep things moving along. (If not, we'll go with the back up plan (approved by Ellie and Owen) to paint in between all the 2 x 4's a different rainbow color in each rectangle... so pretty much we have some good motivation to decide on something :)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Reading (not so) Lately



All Moms go to Heaven - This was a cute collection of stories about motherhood by Dean Hughes. It was fun to read, and had several little stories that I stopped to share with Jordan.

Magnolia Story - I loved this! I'd only ever watched fixer upper once or twice, but reading this I just loved those two! So many fun, real life stories from two just very likable people!

Call the Midwife - We read this for bookgroup and I really liked it. The story I remember most was a woman with something like 25 children... who was just completely happy in her role, and almost a queen of her little (full!) home.

Getting to Yum - Hmm.. I can't remember the details of this, but seeing the title again I have a vague thought of 'good ideas' and also a vague feeling of 'things that won't work for me'... Sometimes when one of my kids does something really well, or one of my parenting tricks works so great, I think 'wow! I've got the answer!' Except that with five children I know that isn't actually true because what worked so perfectly for one is a complete flop for another... So I think maybe this book was one of those kinds of books, great if your child happens to be the child who will try broccoli 12 times and then learn to love it... (or maybe I'm remembering completely wrong and this was actually really great!)

Love Warrior - I almost burned down our house reading this book!  Porter had stood on a stool stirring the dinner on the stove, and set down a spatula too close to the burner before going on to play. I was sitting in the next room (about 8 feet away) with tears streaming down my face reading this, completely oblivious, until finally the smell of smoke registered and I went to find the spatula on fire almost reaching over the the items next to it on the counter. I couldn't recommend this book because of the language and paragraphs/pages that I had to skip over. But - I was so glad I read it. It was amazing to see this woman, whose life history was as different from mine as could possibly be (eating disorders, alcoholism, promiscuity, abortion...) and yet, the truths she was learning through her own completely different experiences were still true for me, and important and real and necessary.

The War that Saved my Life - I had this on my list of books to read for a year or more, and (if I remember right, it's been a while!) it was sweet and tender, as a girl and an older woman were kind of thrown together and each helped the other so well.

Counting by 7s - Another book group pick, and one that I really liked. I loved how this sweet girl had all of these in-her-head coping strategies and after a tragedy and as she rebuilds her life, she starts to find ways to cope through the help and support and love of other people too.

Falling Free - Shannan Martin has been one of my favorite bloggers for a long time. I've loved reading her blog and learning from her unique perspectives and  this was great too. My favorite was her story of a loving sacrifice given at the jail where her husband works, as the men saved up their rations and joined together all their little sweet cakes and candy bars -- all the best things they could come up with -- to celebrate a friend. And even where her thoughts or ideas are different from mine, I still loved reading about how hard she works to live what she believes.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Back to school



Well, here we are getting back in to the school time life. Porter and Isaac and I had a happy morning yesterday with all our normal morning things, plus a bikeride to the library, some piano playing time, and a mini dance party which Isaac really loved, and then a lunch date with Jordan. It takes some getting used to, these new changes! I loved focusing on these little boys, but our house was also a little quiet without all the kids.  I'm especially missing Owen as he's starting a full day now for the first time - with Portuguese too! As we talked about school yesterday, Owen said something like "I wish I didn't have to go all day, because I just miss all that time with our family!" (me too, little buddy!)

Ellie and Landon both had some little issues with their new classes and I was so proud of them for how well they handled them. Ellie and I went on a bikeride last week to the school to see the new class lists posted. I wasn't worried at all about which class Ellie would be in, because she had made so many good friends over the last two years that I was confident that she'd have friends in whichever class. We got to the school and she found her class and started to cry -- all of her closest friends were together in the other class. We got home with more tears, and then she asked if she could write a letter to the principal to ask if she could change classes or have a friend moved into her class (with a complete list of all of her friends included :)  And she did, all on her own (and even added 'If not, I can still make lots of new friends'). The principal gave a very thoughtful response, and though she was disappointed with no switch, she was ready to be brave and give it a try. Yay Ellie!

Landon had his first day of Middle School (!!!) yesterday, and after his first few classes he got to a class on his schedule and the teacher told him he wasn't on her list and sent him to go find a new schedule. He worked through it all like no big deal and got his new schedule and classes all on his own - yay for handling last minute changes so well! We got to hear all about his day while we ate rootbeer floats last night, and it was so fun to hear all the details (which is pretty unusual for Landon!)

(One funny story -- Landon was doing an activity in an assembly and got some tootsie rolls as a prize. He ate one and then realized he'd lost (and lost!) a tooth!)

Time to work out our new schedules and routines and jobs and kid swaps and volunteering and work schedule and all the things... Here we go!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

so long sweet summer



(Our summer of suitcases :) Once we were halfway to our destination when I panicked and asked Jordan "did you get the right suitcase?" because we still had a halfway unpacked suitcase at home from our previous trip!)


We've finished the last summer to-do's. The boys all have fresh haircuts. We're home from back-to-school nights, and four out of five kids are in bed. Clothes are laid out for the first day of school in the morning,  lunches are made,  and here we go!

It has been a full summer. Really wonderful and just really full. And I think all of the things that I wanted to have happen really did. So, on we go to another new adventure!

2017 Summer highlights:

Travels:
* A trip to London for Jordan through the end of school and beginning of summer break
* Our big trip to Canada-  2 1/2 weeks in Victoria, first with just our family and then with all of Jordan's siblings.
* Lots of trips to Provo- A few orthodontist appointments with overnight stays + the whole family. One appointment day with just a drive there and back with me and Landon, my braces off (at long, long last, with 6-8 weeks turning into 9 months!) A periodontist laser treatment, and a few days camping out at our condo for fourth of July celebrations and condo work.
* A Peterson family reunion in Morgan
* A Brady family reunion in American Fork

(Our own) School time: 
* Reading Wonder with Landon
* And reading Ramona and her mother with Ellie, and all the yellow Sam books with Owen
* finishing the code.org course 2
* Porter started his UPSTART online preschool
* Little mini lessons and activities on all sorts of things (emotions, how binary works, art projects, computer science basics...)
* I started a blue jean quilt and have had each of the kids helping with it - cutting out and stacking squares, pressing the foot pedal on the sewing machine, or guiding the fabric while I press the pedal :)

Lessons and such:
* Ellie and I taught an art class through June for some of the neighborhood kids.
* Continuing teaching Landon and Ellie piano
* A few evenings of a mini book group with Ellie's friends
* Landon and Ellie ran track
* Landon finished cub scouts,  earned his Arrow of Light, and moved on to boy scouts
* Tennis lessons for Landon and Ellie at Elkridge Park (with our same tennis friends from last year's lessons!)
* Landon loved his month of Harry Potter Camp with potions and magical creatures and chocolate frogs... and even Isaac learned how to cast spells (with any long pointed thing and a "kew!" sound :)
* Ellie went to a few days through the summer of Portuguese camp, practicing Portuguese and also brought home some new recipes we've practiced again

And lots of other things: 

* A bit of a pitiful garden, but fresh tomatoes! and 2 sunflowers! :)
* Celebrating Jordan, Isaac, and Landon's birthday's (and Porter's in a few days too!)
* Owen broke his arm just before school and spent the summer in 2 splints, 3 casts, and now a brace
* Bike rides
* Running again (yay!) and then not running anymore :(
* Porter learned to ride a pedal bike
* Isaac learned to walk
* Ellie biked up all the hills from Lee's with no help on her new gear bike
* Fourth of July celebrations  and fireworks
* Family Brazilian dinners
* The kids learned to make their own lunches each day
* A little (little) house progress with a few walls painted and some new light fixtures
* LostMyName is now Wonderbly :) and work is continuing on happily for Jordan
* We watched the solar eclipse
* Jordan has been teaching the young men at church, and I've been teaching Owen's class.
* Porter has loved playing magna tiles and building great castles and other great things
* Kiddos playing with friends, swinging on our swings, scootering around, playing games...
* Movie nights, bike adventures, jobs and cleaning, Isaac naptimes, reading books, whoosh.

Mostly, my goal for this summer was to treasure up these kiddos. And sometimes that was hard with five little ones all having such different needs! But oh, what a lot of wonderful things we've done and happy memories we've made (which hopefully I can write down so they won't all be forgotten! :) And I feel really grateful tonight for all the time I've gotten to have with these little (and even not so little anymore) ones that I love so much.