Sunday, July 02, 2017

scarlett in real life

scarlett, the wackiest, funniest, loudest introvert i know, turned 10 this week. when we get to public social settings, she's rather quiet but when you get her home, it's like a verbal damn has burst. 
scarlett received the "promise of gwinnett" award twice this year because she "is a hardworker and a friend to all". if sandy beck taught me anything and i want to instill anything in my own kids, it is to be a hardworker and a friend to all. scarlett was born at just the right time in our family. she is so capable and helpful. she's sandwiched between two loose cannons and she is the calming force. she has always been reagan's closest friend and champion. she is not afraid to defend him and explain autism to those who may not understand his behaviors. it's not easy for her, so we've had many chats about her important role in our family. her closeness to reagan is a blessing and a burden. she is wise beyond her years and possesses a deep seated empathy for others. i find that i try to compensate for disappointment and lost opportunity via gifts and surprises more readily for her than the other children. plus, she has similar tastes to me and i love dressing her in things i like. she never met and mismatched pattern that she didn't love, like me.

scarlett loves science, greek myths, historical books, saying, "did you know..." commentary all day long, and silly barbie and project mc2 shows on netflix. i wish i knew more about technology because i would love to help her learn to code a website or build more things out of spare parts like she learned about at invention camp or develop a machine that can find the remote when the babies have lost it again. i feel most 6th graders have more technological knowledge than i do. scarlett loves all the star wars movies, even the terrible ones and just completed all the the lord of the rings movies with thomas. she has developed a crush on legolas(who hasn't?) and asks really great mythological questions. she is a nerd. 

my favorite thing about her is her sense of humor. she has mastered comedic timing and sarcasm. she gets wit. i couldn't be prouder. 

her hair is all the way down to her waist but she still cries each time i brush it out for her. she has the world's most sensitive head. she just started the braces process and it's included and lot of excessive saliva slurpy talking, food stuck in weird places that requires me to poke it out with a toothpick and questionable breath. i keep trying to convince her this will all be worth it.

we had a big party for her at the local bowling alley/laser tag/bumper car/arcade place. everyone had a great time but the food was terrible. i'll let you know when i find a venue that pleases kid's and mom's palate. the jury is out on that one.

that's not me, that my friend lindsay.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

just imagine how much cooler i'll be in summer!

a quick remainder of may/most of june breakdown breakdown:

on memorial day, i ran the local 5k. i ordered this tank for special running occasions. people either had no idea what it meant or high fived me and quoted rocky 4. it wasn't terribly warm, but it was super humid. like running in a dorm group shower. i ran alone, but i saw a person who i hardly know at all but always gives me the stink eye. she may just have stinky eyes, but i feel disapproval. she must somehow detect that i was a junior high nerd who wore clothes from wal-mart, which always makes you a target for stink eyes. perhaps i'm reading too much into it, but i channeled that anxiety into speed and i made sure that i finished 35 seconds ahead of her. childhood baggage for the win.

after the race, i met up with the family and some fun families from our church at the city memorial day parade. 

poor athena blythe was under the weather.

i did not practice safe skin practices and got sunburned.

most of june has been rainy, but we've hit up the pool as much as we can.

post pool-itis. hersch has given up naps and bedtime is now a fight so i do welcome his post pool drop anywhere nap. i just need the space from him. he's cute but difficult when he's over tired. 

this photo our bucolic surroundings is part of our local trail that we've been visiting 3 times a week. it's lovely and if' we go around 9am, not too terriblly hot and humid. a good portion of the trail is shaded, and there are plenty of dogs to shout at and turtles basking in the sun.
hersch insists on sitting in his stroller like this and often wears his paw patrol pajamas for a 24 hour bender. fleece jammies in june is heaven, i always say. 

some native georgia woodland creature:

thomas and i are still doing our best to have regular-ish date nights. when we moved to atlanta almost 3 years ago, i was angry at the universe and miserably pregnant. every time i turned on the radio, it was either tom petty, REM or drivin' and cryin'. now that i'm happy again, i'm attempting to be a drivin' and cryin' fan since they are a local phenomenon. there was a local, outdoor free show and they advertised multiple food trucks! i was sold on trying out this event! we arrived and the food truck lines were ridiculously long and several had already shut down because they had run out of food. we waited forever in the final food line and got 4 overpriced miniature doughnuts. i do not favor doughnuts but i was so hungry i shoveled them in my mouth. by then the concert was nearly over and we were able to listen to only a few songs. we were so hungry that after the show we drove around until we could find another open restaurant. the only thing available was a terrible frontera tex-mex and choked down subpar food late at night. eating terrible food late at night was much more fun when i was a teenager. i enjoyed thomas' company, nonetheless.

my hair looks amazing in this girls picture. take note, posterity. i fail at so many things, but when my hair looks like a lion's mane, i know i can go on to the next day. 

i have attempted several low-key summer crafts. first was melted crayon crayons. other unphotographed projects include, terrible marshmallow and toothpick creations, painted paper mache animals, pipe cleaner and beads jewelry. easy easy.

the only picture i got of the paper mache animals. athena blythe and her blue dinosaur, chewdo. 

scarlett attended invention camp. they made all sorts of cool things out of garbage and machine parts. my favorite thing she made was an electric circuit made out of old clock parts. 

 hersch is messy and gross every day. he's ruined all his clothes and looks like an unloved ragamuffin most days. today at church he had a MAJOR blow out while i was holding him. it was during the passing of the sacrament and i had real live POOP on my hands. gives new meaning to taking the sacrament with unclean hands. i made a mad dash out of the chapel and gave him a quick scrub down with a million baby wipes. luckily, in my bag, i had some dirty clothes that i had neglected to remove from my bag from a previous messy encounter this week. tender mercies indeed. 

we took a family trip to the movies to see cars 3. i hear it was great. i could only hear it from the hallway. hersch loved that water fountain though.

 scarlett just started the long and winding road to straight teeth. this is the aftermath of a recent appliance check up. 

this is how herschel will die. pushing chairs around to various high surfaces searching for candy.

the end

Sunday, June 18, 2017

words can be turds or gems

“Words are powerful forces of nature. they are destruction. they are nourishment. they are flesh. they are water. they are flowers and bone.

they burn. they cleanse. they erase. they etch. 

they can either leave you feeling homeless or brimming with home.” 
― Sanober Khan

on the last day of school, we had a little get together with friends. i just wanted a party-like atmosphere on the last day. i invited two different families and i planned various activities, procured and filled a pinata and we made homemade pizzas. each child was able to pick from an assortment of toppings and build what type of pizza pleased them. i'm not the best or most creative party planner but i was hoping that just getting together would be entertainment enough for the kids. some of our guests were great, really great. they were gracious, they were excited to be there, they were willing to try new things. some of our other guests were not quite as pleasant to have in our home. they complained about the guest list, they complained about the activities, they complained about the food, they were rude to their mom, they were rude to me. i tried my best to make everything go well, but some people just don't know how to do anything but see the negative. the unpleasant guests soon left and our delightful guests remained and we finished the party with the pinata. however, that evening, as i was reflecting upon the day's events, i realized how deeply the negative words from our guests had affected me. i was really sad! despite the good guests, i spent the evening wondering why i even bothered having people over if i couldn't put together a good party. the critical comments and attitude made me feel terrible! i was mad at myself for even trying. we haven't invited anyone over since.

contrast that to last week when we took our daily walk at the local park. normally, we go as early as possible to beat the heat but today's schedule only allowed for us to go around noon. we ran our errands and then packed a lunch for the park. we played a bit and then continued on the loop around the lake. besides the heat, this route was a bit longer than our regular walk. we started off strong but about halfway in, this went downhill. everyone was complaining, i was pushing herschel in the stroller with one arm and dragging athena blythe behind me with the other arm. we were all sweating bullets and i was questioning my sanity. one of my summer goals is healthy eating and daily exercise for the whole family and all of that was sounding pretty stupid and impossible at this moment. we trudged along only because we had to finish the trail in order to get back to our car. as we rounded the lake, an older asian woman and her husband were sitting on a park bench. in very broken english, she stopped me and asked me, "these all you babies?" i'm asked that question quite often because 4 children is the new 8 children and many people are incredulous that i could have so many in this day and age. i replied, "yep, they're all mine!" i was anticipating more incredulity but instead she stood up and threw her arms in the air and shouted, "hurray, hurray, hurray!" it took me so off guard that i could hardly choke out a garbled, "thank you!" as we continued on. i was fighting back tears because of how GOOD her words made me feel. my entire perspective and temper of this walk changed in an instance. her positive cheer enlivened me! i could feel myself smiling! my stride was lengthening! i was able to encourage the children and not nag the children! up until this point i had been saying to unmotivated athena blythe, "hurry up! keep up!" and athena blythe kept dragging along. after, i started saying "come on, you can do it!" and she started saying, "i can do it! i'm AM doing it!" everthing had improved because of kind words. we finished the walk. it was still hard. we still had to walk up a big hill in 90 degree heat. but i was no longer daunted by the process. i knew that we could keep working on our family summer fitness goals and that one hard day wasn't going to be the end for us.

i've reflected on these two experiences a lot in the subsequent weeks. as a result of the first experience, we've talked a lot as a family about how using our manners even if we are in a situation that we don't like. we talked about making sure our hosts feels good about their efforts because it is not easy to be the host. we talked about saying kind things and being everyone's friend, even people we do not know very well. we talked about choking down food that is served to us, even if we know we don't like it. we can always complain at home later. as a result of the second experience, we've also talked about saying nice things when they occur to us and to never suppress a kind thought, that that thought may change the course of someone's day. we've talked about how hard experiences can be changed simply by how we view them and we can improve things for others if we have a good attitude.

in short, i will try and invite people over and continue to plan activities and try hard and while i can't control other people's kids, i can control my own.

the end. 

Sunday, June 04, 2017

a tale of two commencements

beware the ides of may! the ides of may is the chaos surrounding every hour of every day of the entire month of may. i was scrambling to complete any and every task that i didn't want to attempt to do with all the kids around this summer. plus, scarlett class had a party activity every day for the last 3 weeks of school. the class decided the day before what the activity would consist of and then parents were dispatched that night with the task of retrieving items to make said activity happen. i kinda hated hated it. i'm pro party, but anti party every single day and parents make it happen. 

athena blythe had her pre-k commencement first. when i showed up, i had already been 3 different places running errands and hersch was spent. plus, when i walked in the door, athena blythe was crying her heart out about falling off the slide 20 minutes prior. it was very unusual behavior for her as she is my child who doesn't get hurt. i think she was overwhelmed by all the activity and parents coming and hoopla of her class party and all that. 
so before everything even started i was already wrestling a emotionally needy herschel and a horribly distraught athena blythe. during this physical and emotional battle in front of the entirety of athena blythe's class, i knocked over my chair and flashed everyone present. they're all probably wondering where i got such great, long white bike shorts. 

athena blythe was awarded the most likely to become a veterinarian award, because she was always finding bugs and creatures in the classroom and playground to keep as pets. she even got to take home the class pet worms.  
mrs. adams and mrs. williams were an answer to prayers for what athena blythe needed this school year. i had prayed as to whether to keep her at this preschool or to move her to one closer to our new house and i felt strongly that she should remain there to get the attention she needed. she is precocious and often unmanageable and too smart for her own good, but they loved her and handled her well. 

a succession of unpleasant faces:

and one nice one:

 after the pageantry and punctiliousness of the pre-k graduation, hersch and athena blythe decided to fight over their plate of graduation goodies and flung it in the air, showering all of us with potato chips, juice boxes and sundry baked goods. i then swept up the mess and swept out with my delinquent children, slapping another child's parting gift from the teacher our of herschel's hands as we went. i then went and cried in my car. i don't cry often about childhood tomfoolery or onerous shenanigans, but i had reached my extremity that day. 

fortunately, i was better emotionally and physically prepared for reagan's 5th grade commencement, though i would add one critique that it would be nice to not have the trays and trays of cupcakes on display right in front of a toddler. or one of the PTA moms guarding the table could have had mercy on me and just given one to him. how long must i suffer? 

i also got a touch emotional during reagan's graduation. they played that super cheesy, "like an eagle i will race above the clouds" song and i sang along. i then clapped loudly for each and every single kid because so many other adults were just sitting like loser lumps. i do not understand that isolationist behavior. don't all kids need encouragement? yes! can all parents come to day time activities? no! let's help each other out!

appropriate dress is an ongoing conflict between reagan and me. i pleaded with reagan to wear dress clothes but i noticed he had sneaked on a favorite green t-shirt under his tie and button up. haha, no big deal i thought. he think's he's outsmarted me!

it wasn't until we walked to the car and he stripped off his button up and revealed that his t-shirt was just the tip of the undercover outfit iceberg. 

reagan had worn a pair of his favorite adidas three stripe sweatpants underneath his dress pants. it was only 80 degrees that day. i don't know how he survived it. 

by time we got home he was completely disrobed and had divested himself of his undesirable dress clothes.

the final day of school, they do a 5th grade hall walk. thomas was able to come and i gave the stink eye to all the "adults" using terrible language in the school hallway. then i sang at the top of my lungs a made up song that i knew reagan wouldn't like me to sing has he paraded down the hall with his class. maybe i won't be such an awkward and mortifying parent when reagan is in middle school. 

the end

Sunday, May 21, 2017

may day may day week 1

1. i had my yearly hair cut and color.  i always promise myself i won't do that to myself anymore and have regular follicle maintenance but yet again, i dip my toes into the overgrown pond of polygamist stringy, dry untrimmed hair. 

it only took from 10-4. my follow up appointment is already scheduled. 

2. athena blythe had her end of school program honoring veterans. someday i will have a DSLR so that i can better capture these moments, but take a gander at this fantastic, yet slightly blurry shot of athena letting is all hang out. according to her teacher, she has two levels: on and off. this is on.

i'm coming to terms with the fact that i will be buying new clothes for my kids every 3 months. i bought this knee length dress in december. not exactly knee length anymore. 

3. a nice weather action shot: painting bargain bin leftover easter egg crafts on the back deck with hersch's personal plunger. 

5. the girls started swim lessons at the local swim club. they both want to join the swim team next year so were trying out this club to see if we can be physically ready in time. i love it because i get to hold a wriggly, fate tempting toddler for 40 minutes inside of a sweaty, humid indoor pool facility. wah wah. 

6. mother's day. i'm coming to terms with what i want mother's day to be for me. maybe someday there will be a day when i can completely kick back and do nothing and be served and waited upon hand and foot. i wish i could do that now, because i absolutely DREAM of that, but i can't sit back and watch when there are things to be done. perhaps this will give me martyr status to lord over my children someday. one more step in the direction of marie barone, i guess. thomas cooked dinner and got me bouquets PLURAL of flowers, and i took a great nap on the couch while the kids watched a terrible disney movie around me. i read a wonderful quote from a blogger of 3 special needs children whom i greatly admire for her honesty and sensibility and resilience and faith. she summed up my mother's day thought's perfectly. "mother's day is to celebrate women who labor in all sorts of impossible situations." and most days feel impossible. lots of good, but so much hard and messy and overdramatic. 

the best part of mother's day was watching reagan pass the sacrament for the first time. though reagan turned 12 in march, he had been resistant to passing the sacrament. i don't know why. passing the sacrament has been something that we've talked him doing for years, but when presented with the task, he was pretty adamant that he was NOT going to do it. our young men's presidency and bishop were very supportive and the bishop lent us some sacrament trays so that we could practice at home. finally, we told reagan that it was his time. thomas passed with him and guided him through the steps and made sure he felt confident in what he should do. thomas was proud and excited and it was such a blessing to watch them work together to serve the ward. i cried. A LOT. then reagan cried  A LOT because he couldn't go and sing with the primary kids. reagan may be the first kid in the history of the universe to balk a leaving primary for the young men's organization. nothing can be easy, can it?

and as good as it gets mother's day photos.