Monday, June 7, 2010

If three doesn't kill you . . .

I have been told that if having three kids doesn’t kill you then having four will. It was really the transitions to one and two that were tough for me, and currently it is number one and number two, namely Caleb and Cara that continue to make life crazy. Andy and Ali are a breeze. I really don’t think my life is much harder with Andy and Ali than it would be with just Caleb and Cara. One thing I have found with four kids is that I almost never get all of the laundry done in one day. I used to do all laundry on Mondays, but now I do it all on Monday but I have a bonus load or two on Fridays too.

When I see other people walking around in a store or on another outing with four little kids I look at them and think they must be insane. How could they possibly go with one adult and four kids six and under to the store? But somehow it seems like no problem when it is me. Caleb pushes an extra cart so that we have room for food (which in a way makes it better than when I go with just Andy and Ali.) This strategy also keeps him from running around. I may not look like I have things under control. (Like to the people waiting in line while we were trying to pick a movie at Red Box today. It was Cara’s turn to pick and none of the movies she wanted were in that particular box. Caleb was trying to talk her into letting him pick as the line got longer and longer and then of course there was the fight about who was going to get the movie out of the vending machine.) BUT usually I feel like I have things under control.

There is one major exception to my feeling of control and order and that is CHURCH. I feel like a crazy person at church. This is really mean to Josh, but I love to sit in the mothers room during Sacrament Meeting, and I need to anyway so that Ali is content for both hours of primary. Sacrament meeting is madness. We have simplified. We don’t bring treats or any activity beyond paper and pencils. That has helped allot, but the kids are still loud and crazy. Andy’s anxiety about nursery has made matters worse and it is a constant battle in primary with Caleb. He wants to follow me around rather than sit with his class. This week we dropped Andy off at nursery and Josh went to teach his primary class. After about 10 minutes I was getting ready to go up to teach sharing time. Caleb came to the back of the primary room as they brought Andy in, he wouldn’t stop crying. I asked Caleb to hold Andy and he banged his head against the wall. I must have had a look of terror on my face because the nursery leader promptly took Andy from Caleb without saying a word and we didn’t see Andy again. Oh the irony, Caleb and Cara both went to nursery perfectly. Now that Josh and I are both busy both hours Andy is freaking out.

With the exception of Church, Andy is the perfect kid. He just exists. He follows the other kids around and is almost always happy. He loves to dance and play basketball. Yesterday Josh was channel surfing at my parents and he came across a basketball game. Andy started screaming and clapping and laughing. He was so happy to watch the playoffs. He isn’t just a ball kid, he is a basketball kid. Easily, his favorite toy is the basketball hoop. Tonight I had the garbage can out and he was trying to shoot hoops from his high chair with his food. Andy has changed my world. He is the baby that made me want to have another one right away and he is the toddler that is making having four little kids manageable.

I don’t think Cara can be called “Sweet Caroline” any more. She has entered a very difficult stage. She scrams, cries, and complains. She has turned into the kind of girly girl that I have always bragged she wasn’t. She plays with her cute girlfriends out in the cul-de-sac and they have a great time being girly together. She went to her friend Taylor’s fourth birthday party last week. They wore dancing outfits and Taylor’s mom gave them darling tutu’s and fairy wings. They did make-up and fingernails; they made bracelets, and put glitter in their hair. The three of them came to the door after the party and informed me that they had come for me to take their picture.

Caleb continues to be my challenge. I pray that Heavenly Father will help me to teach him how to control his body and to respect people. I took him to a counselor last month to see if we could get some professional guidance. We came to no conclusion except that I am going to have to exercise super human parenting skills to guide him. He has so much energy that needs to be channeled. I am hopeful that the more involved he becomes extra curricularly as he gets older the better off we will all be. I have wondered if he has a sleep disorder because more often than not it takes him hours to fall asleep. I believe that is partially responsible for his mood swings and possibly also for his bedwetting. When I have mentioned this to my pediatrician he blows me off, but we don’t have insurance that would cover any testing so I am not sure I want to go to the expense of finding out if my hypothesis is right anyway. We seem to be on a good system this summer. He has certain jobs he has to do every day and he earns points for each job. He has to do the jobs before he can play outside, get on the computer or play video games, but if he does them without resisting he gets more points. When he gets to 100 points we will go swimming. We could potentially go swimming every week.

Ali is just a little joy. We all love her so much. She is the model “Baby Wise” baby. She eats at 8:00, 10:30, 1:00, 4:00, 7:00 and 10:00. She sleeps though the night. She almost never cries. She knows I will feed her with out her crying and after she eats she enjoys her awake time. When she starts to fuss I bundle her up and put her in her crib for a nap. How easy is that? She really is about that easy. Breast-feeding has been going much better for me this time than before. I think there are two major reasons why I don’t hate it as bad. First, she doesn’t bite. Andy and Cara were both biters. Second, I give her a bottle for her 1:00 feeding and for her 7:00 feeding. That is a nice brake for me. She is passed around and held by people of all sizes. The primary kids race to me after church to get her. She is a great sport about it all. She is the perfect baby so I will just enjoy that while it lasts. At her two-month well child visit she was 11 lbs. 3 oz. in the 50%. Here she is giving Grandpa Arnold one of her sweet smiles.

2400 Miles

I can’t seem to get caught up from vacationing over Memorial Day weekend. We went on an incredibly spontaneous road trip, and I feel like I have an endless list of things to do to catch up. Our yard looks terrible, and it appears as if we will not be planting a garden this year. I seem to be buried in laundry and housework, and last week I felt like I was constantly doing church work. I have hardly been taking time to check my email although I have been looking forward to blogging about this trip.

Josh’s Grandpa has been declining in health very quickly. Over the past six months Josh and I have both felt a strong desire and responsibility to take the kids to see him. (We haven’t seen him since before Andy was born.) He is confined to a nursing home in Plentywood, Montana, which is 14+ hours of driving time from here without stops. There is no easy way to do that trip! Grandpa Arnold became ill last month and we were scared that he might pass away without our taking the trip so on Monday the 31st we decided that if Josh’s big real estate deal closed (so we had a little extra money) we would leave on Thursday. Wednesday it closed and we left on Thursday morning. The thing that made this crazy 2400 mile road trip possible was the use of our friends motor home. It only took one road trip in an RV to convince me that is the only way to go.

We drove from 9 AM to midnight on Thursday to arrive in Plentywood, Montana at Grandma Betty’s house. Josh's brother Gabe came along and helped out with the driving and enjoyed the trip with us. The kids were so excited to ride in the motor home.

Josh had an air card which allowed him to work and be on the internet using cell phone signal.

We watched movies and relaxed. (Caleb is pro at watching movies.)

We took naps (Andy and Gabe taking a little rest.) And we relaxed like we would have never been able to do in a car.

Grandma Betty and Grandma Sharon (Josh’s mom) were both up waiting for us. It was wonderful to be together. Josh's sister, Sara, moved to Plentywood last fall to help Grandma and Grandpa, and we haven't seen her since Christmas. It was great to spend time with her as well. Our time in Plentywood was worth the drive. When we asked Caleb his favorite part of the trip that was it. Here is the whole gang.

Grandpa was able to visit with us both days. He has a heart melting smile, and he would light up when the kids would give him hugs. I loved being with him. Here are the boys with him.

Ali's middle name is Sophia which is Grandma Betty's real first name. (She is also named after her Grandma.) Betty loved all of the kids but she especially seemed to enjoy holding her little name sake.

Saturday afternoon we headed South to Great Falls, South Dakota where we went to church on Sunday morning and then to Mt. Rushmore. My big regret for the trip is that in our haste I didn't research Mt. Rushmore at all. I thought it was something that you just drive to, snap a picture, and keep driving. I only scheduled about an hour to be there, but I learned that the Black Hills are beautiful and there are a lot of touristy things to do. Like sit on the lap of Abraham Lincoln.

I wish that we would have had a day or two scheduled so that we could have really taken time to soak it all in. Mt. Rushmore itself was awesome. It was smaller than I thought, but somehow better.

Sunday night we stopped in Denver and spent the night with my dear cousen, Emily and her family. The kids had a great time together and we adults enjoyed our visit too.

The last destination on our road trip was Arches National Park. Where we hiked Delicate Arch. It is just one of those things a person needs to do. It was beautiful.

The kids might look a little scared in this picture. They were hanging on to each other for dear life.

I was a little nerve wracked myself with small children and very steep rock cliffs.

This was what we have been calling a bucket list trip. We did and saw some things that many people only ever dream about. Most importantly we spent some quality time with Grandma Betty and Grandpa Arnold. We are so blessed.