Sunday, January 28, 2018

Nathan is 6 and Eliza is 4!

We are in the birthday half of the year (a birthday a month from October to March, pretty much) and my kids are growing so fast.

Nathan is doing really well in school. He is so smart and learning to read and loves math. He's bored in school and I know this because his teacher asked me if he has a medical problem because he asks to use the bathroom 4 times an hour during class. He loved when I substitute at his school and get to pop in and see him in class. He likes to ride his bike and scooter and if he's not doing that he's playing on his DS. He loves to do good and be good. He lives to follow the rules and I just love that about him. I really do have such good kids.

That said, Eliza is my wild card. She is also good, but man is she something else. She will tell you like it is, no matter what. Her vocabulary far exceeds her four years. She loves baby Matthew more than anything and loves to carry him around and hold him. She is still obsessed with unicorns and her "night nights". She gets her feelings hurt easily, but forgives just as easily. She is trying so hard to learn to read and I'm trying so hard to teach her. With 6 kids it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. But there is something very rewarding about being her preschool teacher. She has learned to write her name and I love seeing her proudly writing her name and knowing I taught her that! She wrote her aunt a letter today and she was able to sound out some of the words herself. She is so smart and we just love having her in our family.

I am wanting to get the kids involved in some extracurricular activities but I hate having places to be. I feel guilty about this and keep saying tomorrow I'll look into it, but honestly it never happens because mostly I hate trying to find shoes for everyone to leave the house.

So we mostly go to school, hang out, and play.

We rented a cotton candy machine and invited Eliza's friends over for her birthday party. On her actual birthday I took all my kids to the mall in El Centro to ride the train and carasoul. This is small town living at its worst... driving an hour for that thrill! Still makes me laugh. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Foster Care is really hard.

So just wanted to write some of my thoughts and get them out of my head and out into the internet. We have been foster parents for two years now. It is crazy how much has happened in the last two years.  Both of our other kids who were with us for a short time are doing wonderfully with their families. I wish I could fast forward two years from now and see what happens with our little man.
      Here's some things that really suck about being a foster parent:
          My voice feeling like the least important, even though I feel like this baby is a literal part of me. I have fed him every 4 hours, around the clock, for the last 4.5  months. I have bathed him every night, soothed every cry, changed every diaper, and kissed his little cheeks more times than necessary. But when we sit in court I am not even part of either team. I sit in the back. All of these people who have done their obligatory monthly visits, and many who have never even met the baby, tell the judge their case. And in an apparent afterthought when everyone else has spoken their part, I am asked, "Does placement have anything to add?" "Placement"... not even foster mother or mom. And I just feel like I'm not an important voice in the process, when I feel like I should be one of the most important voices.
      There are also super annoying things that have to be done, like he's outgrowing the bassinet and so it's time to move him to the crib. Only, in the back of my head I really don't want to set up the crib, because there are 2 ICPC's in process (family out of state) that can take him any time, and I think it will just be so hard to take that crib back down. So we put him the pack and play and he's been doing great in it. And then I was informed today that he can't sleep in a pack and play and needs to be in an actual crib. And I don't know why, I guess it's just knowing we can lose him anytime that makes me really not want to set it all up. And I know you go into foster care knowing this is the goal. Reunification is always the plan, always the goal, and if things happen to stop that, then it is not really a "good" thing. Someone is losing their child, even if we're gaining one. The whole thing is lose/lose and that just sucks. So yeah, the fact that it's against the rules for him to be in a pack and play is annoying. And then there's a million other little things, like staking down the swing set, and having a fire extinguisher on each floor and stuff that we should probably have/do anyway, but just annoying to be held to such a ridiculously high standard.
          I also hate how long this process can be dragged out. Technically his parents should only have 6 months since he's under 3. But his parents are doing just enough that I'm sure the judge will give them more time. Because they're not doing enough to get him back yet, but maybe they'll get there? I honestly don't know, which is terrifying. I sincerely do hope the best for his parents, but I can't fight the feeling that this baby is meant to be with our family. So it's an emotionally tricky place to be in. And all we can do is take it one day at a time and hold on for the ride.
         In the meantime, he is the cutest, sweetest, best baby in the world. He's been sleeping really long stretches at night, taking good naps, eating more, and when he is awake he's generally content and peaceful. He falls asleep without being rocked or patted. He is just a dream. He is also extremely loved all the time. Eliza and Nora are always hovering around him, "helping" me hold him/feed him. Nathan has loved having him in his room. And all of this just melts my heart, but also wracks it with guilt thinking about how they will feel when he goes somewhere else.

Friday, December 29, 2017

December Recap

We started off December with our Stake's Night In Bethlehem. It was such a peaceful, beautiful night.We had fun dressing up and playing the part of a "Bethlehemite" family. Matthew is in this picture, just hidden behind Nora.  And I just have to say that Aaron is the best husband ever. I really try not to post too publicly and often about how amazing he is, because who wants to hear all that? But really, he is such a good sport. He not exactly thrilled with the idea of being a Roman soldier, but his exact words, "Honey, if you want me to do it, I'll do it with a smile on my face." and here is proof of that. Gosh I love that man. It was also just a crazy hectic day so he ended up setting up the entire booth that I signed up for, and also going back and taking it all down and putting it all away. I just look at this picture and feel so much love for this man of mine and family of ours.
This was my view for 5 glorious, freezing days. We rented a cabin in Pine, AZ and just enjoyed the cold, and time together with nothing to do and nowhere to go. It was just perfect. Exactly what I needed. We also drove a little further north and went through a magic portal to the North Pole, so that was pretty cool too. We had so much.
         My quick review of the North Pole Experience in Flagstaff... it was magical and fantastic, but I'd probably give it B instead of an A+. I think there is definitely room for improvement, but the kids had a great time. And in Eliza's 3 year old mind, there is no doubt that Santa is real and we absolutely went to the north pole. My other kids weren't quite so convinced, but said it was super fun anyway. Here's my criticisms ... To start off, you "go through" this portal which they make a big deal out of, driving the car back and forth and lights going crazy and chanting magic phrases, etc. But then you pull up, and it's kind of underwhelming. There's nothing outside, besides some icicle lights and a few lights on the trees, but if you go during the day, it looks like you've pulled up to an old military compound (surprise, because you have!). However, there's then a beautiful ornate door and once you knock and enter it is absolutely stunningly amazing inside. I just wish they had some decorations on the outside. And places to take pictures and stuff. So once you're inside you're brought through several rooms. All of which are decorated so awesomely. I'd upload some pictures, but that brings me to my next complaint. There was not much time for pictures inside. You are rushed from room to room without any time to really linger and look and take pictures. Aaron said this is good for the kids benefit. They'd probably lose interest if it was any longer, but I think 15 minutes per room would have been better. Especially the room with Mrs. Claus and the hot chocolate. They only give you a tiny, tiny amount of hot chocolate, but even still my youngest did not have time to finish her hot chocolate before we were ushered to the next room. Try explaining to a 3 year old she has to throw away her hot chocolate before going to the next room. Yeah that wasn't my favorite part. I felt like we had plenty of time with Santa though, so that was good. And he was the best santa ever. He was so kind and took plenty of time to talk to the kids and they all got a bear. Then you leave and you're back outside, where there is nothing to look or do but wait for the bus. This is where I really wish there was another little decorated place to just hang out and look around, or even some nice christmas trees outside to take pictures near or something. There was a bonfire we were all huddled around. And then probably the biggest problem we dealt with the whole time was that the exit and getting back on the bus was not very well organized. I just assumed there would be room on the bus for everyone since we had all stayed as a group from the beginning. So I wasn't stressing about getting a good place in the line forming, and kept my babies warm by the fire. But then people from the next group came out and cut the line and got on the bus. No one said anything to them and we were left in the cold to wait for the next bus. So that was pretty irritating. I wish that was handled better. But there was also a moment when my 1 year old hugged her bear sooo incredibly happily and cutely I couldn't hold back the tears and just felt so fortunate to be in such an awesome place. I asked my kids what they would rate it on a scale of 1-10. Eliza said 9, Nathan said 10, Olivia said 5 or 6 and Abigail said 7 or 8. So the bigger kids were not very impressed. Olivia said that the activities in the rooms weren't very fun, she wished she had more time to do other stuff in the rooms, and she was disappointed in the amount of hot chocolate she got. Abigail said it was fun but she also felt like she was too big for it. She said it's more for little kids. So there ya have it... my two oldest girls aren't so little anymore. I would highly recommend this place for the under 5 crowd. But I really think any age can enjoy it. And even though Olivia and Abigail both rated it lower, they were all smiles the entire time.
          Then we spent a couple of days in Mesa. We did a birthday party for Nathan at Urban Jungle which was a huge hit. We went to the temple with Emily. We had a yummy dinner a family nativity at Grandpa Opie's.

I wish she had her super cute Christmas outfit on for this picture, but it is still adorable. I love her smile and am slightly embarrassed that she did this but it makes me laugh.

Then we came home for Christmas. It was so nice to just have a very relaxing, laid back Christmas, after all the craziness that led up to December 25th. Spending the day with no where to go, and no obligations is a wonderful feeling. We missed family and I always cry when we're not in NJ on Christmas because I just miss everyone so much. And that longing is heavier when we're alone, but it is still a nice way to spend the day. Especially for the kids who got to spend all day just playing with their new toys and riding their new bikes/scooters.

Now we have one last trip for the month. We are heading up to Mesa for New Years. We'll leave tomorrow and come home Monday. I'm tired already but I'm excited.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Capturing moments

I hung some mistletoe in the archway leading to the kitchen. I explained the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe to the kids. A few days later Nathan was standing under the mistletoe. Just kind of standing there. I was pretty distracted, cooking dinner, cleaning, crying babies, etc. Then he kind of quietly says, "Mommy... I'm under the mistletoe." And I realized he wanted me to come kiss him. I ran over and covered him in kisses and he laughed then ran off. This sweet boy of mine is turning 6 soon. How quickly these moments are going to be gone forever.

Another cute kissing story... Since Nora has been old enough to hold on my hip (6 months??) I constantly cover her cheeks in kisses while holding her. And whenever Daddy is leaving for work and she happens to be in my arms we both kiss her cheeks at the same time. It is clear she just adores this. And now it's progressed into her puckering her little lips to get a kiss from Aaron, then turns to me for a kiss, then back to Aaron, and on and on it goes.

Life can be hectic and busy. But I find if I stop and appreciate these seemingly small moments, it all feels so happy and wonderful. It's easy to miss, through all the screaming and messes, but they are there. And appreciating them is really the only way I stay sane.

Also this girl is such a gift. Just a bit about her personality. She is 1.5 so she has her moments of toddler-ness, but overall she is really just such a gift. For example, I have this garland you can kind of see behind her head. It has these little red berries she desperately wanted to pick off when we first put it up. I took her hands and told her no. She tried again so I held her on my lap and explained, kind of sternly do not touch. She screamed and cried and threw a big old fit for about 3 minutes. Then she got distracted by a sibling trying to comfort her. And ever since, she will walk up to the berries, point at them and say, "No!". If only my children could all be this obedient! It is a sad state of affairs when the 1 year old is setting the example. She is also always the first to fold her arms for prayer. She does beg for fruit snacks multiple times a day, and today she got into a bag of rice and dumped almost the entire thing all over the pantry floor... but she is a gift! I am trying so hard not to screw her up. She just has the sweetest personality and I absolutely adore her.Though it was just a few days ago she smacked Eliza in the head with a See and Say and gave her a black eye. But just look at that face! She is definitely entering the phase of testing boundaries and seeing what she can get away with. But she seems to be a fast learner so I'm not too worried.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Abigail's Baptism

First of all I'm happy to report that I have gotten more sleep the last few nights. Thanks to a great husband and an increasingly healthy baby. I am feeling much better than I did for my last post!

Now onto Abigail's baptism. We went up to Mesa for Abigail to be baptized with her cousin Brandon. It was such an awesome day. We had such a great time with family and the spirit was just amazing all day. It really was a beautiful day. Abigail told me, "Mom getting baptized is really excited and I was so excited the whole time and just felt really excited, but then when I actually got baptized it was just so calm. That's how I know I felt the Holy Ghost. I just felt peace." She is a wise 8 year old and I absolutely adore her. She is funny and spunky and desires nothing more than to please those she loves. She is our peacemaker and I'm so grateful for her in our lives. She loves to make people laugh and she loves to help. She is beautiful inside and out. I am so grateful to be her mom.

I bore my testimony about repentance and how each time we take the sacrament it is like the chance to be baptized again. That night when putting the kids to bed Nathan told me that today he learned when he grows up and gets baptized he's not worried about making mistakes because when he takes the sacrament it is just like getting baptized. I was so grateful that he was paying attention.

I'll add some pictures later hopefully. But it was just great.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Bordering on dangerous levels of exhaustion

The baby has been sick since Thanksgiving. We went to the doctor yesterday and were told he has a cold. To just do all the stuff a mom of 6 kids already knows to do (humidifier, baby vicks, saline, booger sucker etc). I was really hoping for some medication to make this stop. I haven't slept more than 2 hours at a time since Wednesday night. I am writing this to document for my future self. To see how long I can truly go without sleep. I am exhausted, but happy and fulfilled. But what I wouldn't give for a full night of uninterrupted sleep.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

I love these girls

For Thanksgiving we went up to Mesa to visit Aaron's family. I found matching outfits at Old Navy and went a little nuts. But I love it. With 6 kids it's almost impossible to get a good picture of everyone. So I'm posting this awesome picture I got of my oldest and youngest girls. It just makes my heart swell looking at it. 
       Olivia is such an awesome, smart, beautiful person. She loves to be helpful. Watching her enter this stage of adolescence kind of breaks my heart a little, and every time she wants to do something little "kiddish" it just makes me happy. She still hates the feeling of anything slightly uncomfortable, and cried for 20 minutes over me making her wear this outfit. And another fit was thrown over that cute little clip in her hair, because it wouldn't stay exactly where she wanted. Hopefully as she grows she'll continue to learn to control those emotions.
       Nora is officially 18 months old! She is a joy. She loves her binky, and to read books, and to play with her older siblings. When she's unhappy she has this awful squawk that makes at you. Just the other day Olivia was laughing at her dancing and every time Olivia laughed, Nora would stop dancing and yell at her. Ridiculous child. But for the most part she is very easy going and easy to please. She has about 10-15 words that I understand and maybe 5-10 that most people would understand. She also loves shoes. She played so well with her cousin Summer this weekend. It was fun to watch them together.