Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Season

I love the holiday season. I never feel ready for it, but I really get into it. The kids are the perfect ages. They believe in Santa. Both Preston and Paige keep breaking out in random Christmas songs that they have learned at school. It's so cute. Paige especially loves music. She is obsessed with Taylor Swift. But, the other day, Preston started singing a Taylor Swift song. So funny.

Anyway, we decorated the tree a the beginning of the month. I laugh at myself because I bought this beautiful tree and decorations before I had kids. It is red and white and the ornaments are mostly glass and in the shape of candy. What was I thinking? Kids love candy! When they are toddlers, they don't get that the candy is not real. So Tyson is all over it. We quickly had to revamp our decorations and now only the top half of the tree is decorated.

I remember going downtown to see the lights as a kid. I had no concept of how hard it must have been for my parents, but I remember being in awe of those giant trees. We took the kids down this year and it was really their first time. Preston doesn't remember going when he was younger. We went out to eat at IHOP first, then headed downtown. I haven't been down there forever and didn't realize how many changes have taken place. The parking wasn't bad since we got there early, but Temple Square was packed! The kids didn't notice or care though, all they saw were the lights. They oohed and aaahed. Tyson kept saying "whoa!" and pointing at everything. Paige loved the pink lights, of course. Preston was more interested in the water features. I only took my point and shoot camera because I knew I wouldn't be able to set up my tripod. I turned off my flash and I'm impressed with the photos I got with that little camera.

Preston LOVES legos. I love what he makes with them. He is so creative. I don't know what is "normal" for a seven year old, but he seems to have a unique sense for building things. I would like to figure out how we can encourage his creativity. He came home from church a couple of weeks ago and decided to build a lego Jesus. Yeah, I don't know that any other kid would think of that. Here is what he came up with-

Preston's Lego Jesus.

Then, yesterday, he made this reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh. My favorite parts are the antlers and Santa's hat complete with the white ball on the end. Wow Preston!

And last of all for my post, here is my Tyson being his usual monkey self. He will hang from anything. Love that boy too.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tyson's baby book

I have been working hard on Tyson's baby book. I still have two more months to scrap, but I am getting close. I have made sure not to fulfill the prophecies of mothers everywhere that you don't take as many pictures of your kids as more come along. I have TONS of pictures of Tyson. I have also written about him every month so that he would have a record that is just as detailed as Preston and Paige. It didn't take much time to just jot things down in a notebook each month. But typing it into a document was a pain. I should have done that all along. I love digital scrapbooking. It fits right with my love for photography and photoshop because I can make it all myself, exactly how I want it. Then, I can upload my pages as full bleed images to Cherish Bound and get a beautiful, classy hard bound book. I can order a copy for me and one for him.

Here are some of the spreads from his book. It is already 100 pages. I kept it simple by using the same background for the whole book.

I just finished this spread for his measurements. I love seeing how much he has changed over 18 months. He is so adorable. I love my cute boy!

I am hoping to submit his book through by the end of the month!

If you want to learn more about digital scrapbooking, check out my sister Meg's awesome blog HERE!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Deer Widow Weekend

While Greg was off to galabant around in the mud an rain, I decided to make sure it was a fun weekend with the kids.

I started off the weekend by letting the kids sleep in my bed. I haven't done this before and thought it would be nice to have someone there. I worked on the computer for awhile and when I came in, I couldn't figure out how they were laying. I walked around the bed and felt a foot hanging out. I had to turn on a dim light in the bathroom to look and I laughed. I grabbed the camera and flashed a picture in the pitch dark. It didn't even phase them. I moved them back the right way and they actually slept really well.

I have been wanting to make a tinker toy set of sorts out of PVC pipes and elbows for awhile. I really want to make the water one where you attach sprinklers and fun things, but never got around to it this summer. While looking up ideas online, I found a pattern for marshmallow shooters. I have never seen these before which is surprising since I have served for years in the cub scout organization. They are so simple and cheap. Preston followed the blue print after I cut all the parts. He hadn't even shot a marshmallow and he wanted to reconfigure it and use his imagination. I love seeing that mind at work. We figured out the trick in loading the gun and the mini marshmallows blasted all the way across the basement.

Shooting at a target on the wall. We had to put it high enough that Tyson couldn't grab it.

Check out Paige's marshmallow bouncing off the wall at the top of the picture. And Tyson eagerly awaits its fall...

Tyson was more than willing to help "pick up" the ammunition that hit the floor. We kept telling him he was eating all our bullets!

That afternoon, we went over to Melissa Dahle's and watched How to Train Your Dragon. We had popcorn, pizza, and friends. What more could you ask for? The movie was so cute. I couldn't believe the animation. I will definitely be buying that one.

Sunday morning was a little crazy getting ready. We missed sacrament, but made it to the last two hours of church so I could play the piano in primary. We came home and had lunch and I put Tyson and Paige down for naps. I cuddled with Paige and dozed (one of my favorite things to do) then came upstairs to check on Preston. I was so groggy, but he wanted to make the other PVC stuff I bought. I bought 10 bigger pipes and a bunch of fittings. I wasn't sure what size to cut them. If they are too small, then you have to buy a ton of fittings which are where the expense is. I made a bunch of 1' and 2' pieces. Thankful for the PVC cutter and that I didn't have to use a hack saw. Here is my boy at work.

What a weekend. I love having time to play with my kids. As much as I would love to stay home with them all the time, I am grateful that we both appreciate our time together more because I'm gone two days a week. I'm a crafty person and always have some little project we make together. I hope they will remember these fun times.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Paige's new hair cut

Here is Paige's new do. We are twins.

Yesterday, Paige was playing with her friend Sophia. I let them get out the Halloween stuff. She saw the pumpkin pictures and asked if she could have them. Then she came up asking for tape. Then she came up asking for scissors for the tape. I didn't worry about the scissors because she uses them often. A bit later, Sophia came upstairs with her hand over the side of her hair. Paige came behind holding her hair and confessed "Mommy, sorry we cut our hair." While I was concerned about Paige, I was MUCH more worried about the neighbor girl. Her hair was much longer and she hacked a good 4 inches behind her ear along with her bangs. Paige cut part of her bangs completely off. Then took a chunk out on both sides of her hair. When I asked her why she did it, she explained.

"My hair was in my face. So I cut it." Not sure why it progressed to more. It must have gotten fun at that point. Still, it's hard not to laugh knowing she was trying to solve a problem. She just didn't choose the best solution. Luckily, Sophia's mom was cool about it and came over to show us Sophia's new hair.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Climber boy

It's in the genes. Greg and I were both monkeys as kids and now we have our own. Tyson latest ventures include climbing into his crib, climbing on the table, and now climbing up the swingset and going down the slide without any help. I have to wrap a rope around my table and chairs to keep him off. It didn't take him long to realize that the bar stools weren't roped and Greg found him on the island eating something. He is so much fun and I laugh at his eagerness to tackle new hurdles. One day, he made it up on the table and proceeded to dance a happy dance to rub it in that he made it. I love this little boy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oregon 2010

We had a reunion in Oregon this last week. I've just read Megan's post and love all the old pictures of "going home" that she pulled out. Mom always called it that because it was where she grew up. The trip was a lot of fun and not as difficult as I anticipated since I went solo with my three kids.

The trip brought out some unexpected feelings in me. It gave me new perspective on remembering my past. We went to Oregon every summer at least. Usually I stayed with a sister or two for a couple of weeks. I loved seeing my cousin Joanna. We spent hours playing in the ditch, walking the canal, or stomping down wheat to make a fort. I can still see Grandma cooking eggs on the stove for a big breakfast while we all sat around her small table. I can remember sunlight streaming in her windows and making rainbows all over her carpet. We played Husker Du a million times and tried to stack playing cards into houses on her floor. I can hear the creak of her old wooden steps and see the view of the farm from the attic window. All that is changed now.

Looking up the road to Grandma's house and land.

My cousin Joanna and her new baby "little Don".

I drove by her farm and my heart sunk. From the main road looking up, it still looks very similar to my childhood. The same land, same grove of trees hanging over the road. But as I approached, it was difficult to see the changes to the house and yard. I didn't want to look. I just want to remember it the way that it was. I guess I just never realized that those memories would stop being made. Going to Oregon was just something that we did every year. My grandpa died when I was around 17 years old. I don't even know the last time we had been there previous to that. I went up a couple years later for my cousin's wedding around 1994 or so. Then that was it. Grandma got alzheimer's and moved down here. I didn't return to Oregon until her funeral in 2005 and that was for one brief day in early December. I didn't keep in touch with my cousins very well. Facebook has helped us reconnect.

When mom told me about the reunion, I really wanted to go this time. I wanted to see this special place. It felt so good to drive those roads and to see the parts that are still the same. It seemed like FOREVER driving in "to town" when I was a child. In reality, it took about 10 minutes. I loved seeing my cousins and their children. I loved watching our children play together. Paige ran around all day with the "girl herd".

Loni and Tonya's place.

Aunt Carolyn's farm.

We had a great time visiting at Loni and Tonya's. Loni made the kids snow cones and they chowed them down. We spent all day Saturday at Aunt Carolyn's. All six of her kids were there, all five of Mom's girls, and Aunt Sharon with her daughter Shannon. I renewed friendships and learned more about lives that I hadn't really been a part of for fifteen years or more. The kids were great the whole time. I was up bright and early Sunday morning to drive home. I was surprised by how well my kids did on the drive home. We were eager to see Daddy and to hear about his weekend riding at the Fire on the Water event.

When I returned home, I found myself very emotional. There is something so peaceful about the countryside. I almost detested driving through our cramped city and longed for a little space to roam. I felt so connected to that place again. I don't want to forget that feeling. I don't ever want to forget Oregon and the memories growing up. I hope to return often with my children to watch them make their own special memories. As the week has progressed, I've sunk back into my daily routine and adjusted back to city life, but I loved my time in Vale.

The little trouble makers.

I love my cute boy!

Preston with his favorite cousin, Logan.

Paige playing with her cousins.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A 2-wheeler bike!

Paige can ride a 2-wheeler bike! We were out running errands on Saturday and on the way home she asked “Mommy, when we get home can we take my training wheels off and ride my bike?” I was a little surprised by her request, but told her we would. The last time we tried, she got upset real fast and begged to have the training wheels put back on. So, while Daddy went to the store, we set out to practice riding a bike. She got on it and started peddling. I ran beside her with my hand on her back. I let go a couple times and she swerved a little. The second attempt, I was able to completely let go and by number three she had it down. She was so proud of herself. Especially, because this meant she earned a new basket and a bell for her bike. The next day, I asked if she wanted to ride and she cheered so loud. I love it. I love seeing that excitement on her face and pride in her accomplishment. She learned to start on her own and is turning around in the street. I am so proud of my cute little girl.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Self indulgence is a good thing

That's right, it's a good thing. When I indulge, I am enjoying the little things in life. This is because I appreciate being able to. I am learning that many of the things worth getting in life require self discipline and self control. Indulgence is the opposite of these traits so why is it so good? Well, it depends on how you look at it and how you handle it. The two areas I have worked on controlling most in my life are food and money. It's funny how these two things are so related. Calories are like money- you want calories in to be less than calories out. Whereas with money, you want dollars in to be greater than dollars going out.

I first started “eating right” after I had Paige. I have never been really heavy, but the same principles apply regardless of where you are on the scale when you start. Jen introduced me to eat2get fit. You can find it here (and I can get you 2 weeks free). I learned what foods make up our diet and which are the good ones to eat. Over time, I started thinking about different combinations and made my own recipes. It was a tough change, but now it's so normal to me. I eat five times a day and all the meals on the website are interchangeable. I lost 19 inches in 9 weeks that year. Five inches came off my waist. At the age of 30, I weighed 15 lbs less than I did for most of my twenties and I felt great. I gained a little back but maintained a healthy weight. With my third baby, I was eager to kick it into gear again and this time I lost 20 lbs in about five months. It's amazing what you can do with some self discipline and a little time. I continue to eat this way and exercise even though I'm at the weight I want. I feel healthy and capable.

However, I need my indulgences to keep me going. This is where it gets fun. I get to choose my indulgence. I get to think about it carefully and decide where I'm going to splurge. And I deserve it because I have worked so hard every other day of the week. My usual indulgences are chocoloate- especially cadbury mini eggs. That's a once a day thing usually. My other is Oreos. They are harder to resist every time I open my pantry. The trick is that once I indulge, it's over. I have to jump back into discipline and keep myself from continuing. Last night, my treat was an apple from Rocky Mountain Candy co. Carmel dipped, then white chocolate, then Oreo. It was divine. So yeah, I'm a little obsessed with dessert, but that's because I give myself a reason to deserve it.

Before and After pics from August 2009 and January 2010. I have maintained my loss.

The other area, finance, is equally tough and requires attention. I remember looking into budgets, but never found a way to do it that worked for me. I found Dave Ramsey made the most sense and began a budget on paper and working his total money makeover. Then Jen introduced me to YNAB software. You can find it here (and get a free week trial). I absolutely love this budgeting software. I plan every penny that I'm going to spend at the beginning of every month.

What I love most about this guy's plan is that he recommends living on last months income. You save money in a buffer each month and figure out what you need for an entire month. When you hit that amount, you live on it for that month, and your paychecks that come in get forwarded to next month. So, on July 1, I have all the money in my account from my June paychecks available for my budget. The beauty of it is that my entire month's budget is sitting in my account at the first of the month with a FINITE dollar amount. I can budget every penny because I know exactly how much I have. No waiting for the next paycheck before I can buy groceries. I don't have to guess at what we'll make that month because it's already there. I also don't have to worry about bouncing a check or using any overdraft. I have a one month buffer. Seriously, it is the coolest thing and gives me a lot of peace of mind. Of course, it doesn't work without discipline. I have to stick to the numbers I choose. If I spend more somewhere, I have to sacrifice in other places.

The indulgence side comes from budgeting for indulgence. Yep, I get my blow money each month that I can spend on whatever I want- and I don't feel guilty for spending it. Not that I budget a huge amount. Also, we are better able to save using these methods so when it comes time to spend on something, we can get good quality and enjoy spending because we have saved for it.

Indulgence and self-discipline are opposites, but we need them both. The indulgence has to come with moderation or it can take over. Sadly when we let it take over, we are not happy. I am amazed by the feelings of confidence I have because of daily discipline. Many would say that they aren't motivated to eat right or budget. Well, motivation is emotional. We can't depend on our emotions to move us through temptations and struggles. We have to simply make a choice. Once you make that choice to eat better, exercise, or control your finances, you have to keep going. It's the same choices made EVERY DAY that lead to success. Then indulge a little, savor it, and get back on track. It can be hard, but so worth it.

What do you struggle with? What obstacles keep you from disciplining yourself? Have you felt the satisfaction I'm talking about? What success have you had?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thoughts on parenting

I generally only post about events that happen, but today I just wanted a place to share some thoughts.

Different events that have happened over the last few months have made me think about a few things. I've realized that the greatest joys in life come from our relationships with others, particularly our families. I haven't always gotten along perfectly with my family, but I like to think that we have good, respectful relationships. My relationships with my children are so special to me as well. They give me an opportunity to look at myself and examine what kind of example I am and how well I am teaching them.

I love the book Scream Free Parenting by Hal Runkel. The main premise of the book in stressful situations, we generally have an initial emotional reaction. The heat wells up within us and we REACT. These situations tend to come often and without warning when dealing with children. We say things like “don't make me mad” or we simply yell at them and try to force them into compliance through fear. I can sadly admit to yielding to the emotional reaction, hence the need for this book.

Anyway, the author teaches how to first control your emotional reaction and then respond to the situation. This is SO HARD. I have been practicing for months and I still fail. However, I have learned a great deal about my children and how they respond to me. For instance, I've found that when I react emotionally, my daughter in particular, reacts even more emotionally. The situation escalates and resolution is long, drawn out, and difficult. However, when I can calm myself first and respond in a normal tone, she often listens, obeys, and goes on her way. So how do you discipline if you don't yell? You let the consequences do the talking. One warning, then the consequence- usually a time-out (one minute per year for the age of the child) or taking away a toy or whatever. But YOU remain calm. It has been an interesting experiment to watch my children's reactions to my own calm. Unfortunately, it has been hard to maintain. But then, change can be difficult, especially when it is ingrained in you to react. But I believe people can change and that we can always be working on becoming better at something- especially relationships.

That brings me to the other part of the book that affected me. It was an exercise focused on the future. He asked the reader to picture their children in 10 years, 15 years, as adults. He walked through questions to help me think about the kind of relationships I want to have with them.

Wow. You mean my kids are going to grow up? There will come a time that I am the “mother-in-law”, “grandma”, and eventually “great-grandma”? Whoa. That seemed to far way to even think about. At the same time, it wasn't that hard to think about what I want. I want strong, confident, children who aren't afraid of the world. I'm not picky about whether or not they go to college, I just want them to be happy. I want them to know that I believe in them no matter what they want to do and that I believe they can achieve anything. They will always have my support and understanding. I want our relationship to be one of respect and understanding. Hopefully they will feel that they can talk to me about any concern that they have. I want to respect their marriages and boundaries, but still be involved in their lives. I will celebrate their successes with them and cry with them if they fail. I will encourage and uplift and let them always know how proud I am of them.

The interesting thing as I did that exercise was realizing how much of that I can do right now. That right now I have the power to decide how our relationships will be in the future. I pray for the strength and control to recognize that emotional reaction and to calm my anxiety. This book has opened my eyes and given me a new perspective on how I handle all situations that generate that reaction. I don't always know how to react, but I certainly do better when I am calm than when I am filled with the fire.

Has anyone else read this book? Have you thought about your relationships with your own children?

Monday, June 21, 2010

To blog or not to blog

I have mixed feelings about the whole blog thing. I am a social person. I love to talk to people and hear about there lives and tell them about mine. But blogging doesn't feel social to me. It feels like talking to the whole world and no one is listening. Who am I really doing it for? I deleted my blog awhile ago because of this and now I have undeleted it, but I remain undecided on how to proceed. I look at other people's blogs on occasion, but don't always comment. I enjoy "seeing" what is going on in your lives, but I miss "hearing" what is going on. It's like the blog takes the conversation out of our lives. While it is out there for all to see, I feel even more isolated. It's like if you know what's going on already, there's no need to talk. I don't know. I just don't know where to go from here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tyson is ONE!

Yep, that's right. I am actually posting on my blog again. I have been lazy, I admit it. But, my baby's first birthday can't go unrecognized. He is one year old today. Although yesterday was the day that brought all the memories because that was when I went into labor. Tyson was born at 12:45 a.m.

We celebrated last night with a little birthday party with grandparents. I chose a mickey mouse them, but was frustrated that I couldn't find birthday hats ANYWHERE. We settle for mickey mouse ears.

Tysee loved all his toys, especially the glow worm and the mail box. When we pushed on his worm, it lit up and so did his face. He smiled and giggled and looked at us and looked at it. He was amazed. When I gave him his mail box, he quickly figured out how to put the mail in the slot, then open the lid to pull it back out. He was so content playing with his toys that I hated to pull him away for cake.

Ahh, the cake. This was classic. Finally, my third baby really "got" it. It did take a minute to figure out. We sang to him and Preston blew out his candle. Then we put the little cake in reaching distance. He put his hand right on top and the icing stuck to it. He got this look of disgust and confusion because it was stuck to his hand and he couldn't get it off. He wiped it on the table, then looked at his hand. We put a little icing in his mouth and that set him off. His hands went back into the cake and finally made it to his mouth. He ended up getting chocolate cake all over his chair, his balloons, his face, his feet, the floor, everywhere. Preston and Paige were happy to help him eat his cake as well. We all enjoyed our usual cookies and cream ice cream cake.

He played with his toys until bedtime. It was a perfect one year birthday.