Days 2017

Days 2017

Friday, June 28, 2013

Jackie's Summer Fun Challenge

Did I mention in my last post that June is one of my least favorite months?  Well, if you don't like something, change.  A couple of weeks ago I went to a fun Power of Moms Retreat hosted by my dear friend Elsje.  One of the main ideas I came away with was that I need to work on having more fun WITH my kids, not just providing fun FOR my kids.  A good example:  On Fridays I try to get out of the house and take the kids somewhere.  A couple of weeks ago I took them mini golfing, etc., at the Trafalga Fun Center since we have a pass.  They had a great time, I had a so-so time.  It was hot, crowded, and I was carrying a 20 lb baby in a Snugli for two hours while keeping an eye on the others.  There were some funny moments, like every time Macy swung the club, she had to do this little song and dance (A ONE and a TWO and a ONE TWO THREE!) and then she'd usually miss.  Anyway, I felt like a good mom getting them out of the house, especially since they had earned it by doing so good with their morning chores all week.  But, I didn't look forward to it, didn't reallly get to relax, and don't really want to go back anytime soon.  (Next time it can be Mark's turn.)  So, what can be done?  I want to be a fun mom and have fun, too--and not just count my weekend date, or eating (in general), or reading at the lunch table fun.  (Yes mom, in my own house, I set the rules.  Any comers are allowed to actually read at the breakfast table or the lunch table, but not the dinner table--that's reserved for eye contact.)

At that retreat, the instructor suggested thinking of some things that you used to really have fun doing as a kid.  I made a short list and was surprised at myself as it kept getting longer.

When I got home that afternoon, I asked my hubby to pitch the tent in the backyard.  Gratefully, he didn't even blink at that idea and with a little help from Leslie, it was soon up.   Would this scheme work? 

Growing up we had THE ugliest tent.  As in, it could have won an ugliest tent EVER award.  You probably won't even believe me, but it was colored like a faded circus tent, orange and yellow SCALLOPED AWNINGS and striped and all, with a dark green tarp floor.  Do we have any surviving pictures, Mom?  It was a huge, heavy canvas beast with aluminum poles that only mom knew how to put together.  We got it used, and I'm guessing it was from the seventies when orange and mustard yellow were kings.  Think of tupperware. 

Since we lived in Montana where the summers are a bit cooler, not many people use automatic sprinklers.  We got by fine with the hose or irrigation, even with our extensive yard.  This means that we could leave our tent up for weeks if we wanted to.  (And once it was up, it usually stayed up for weeks because we would forget about it, it would get soaked in a thunderstorm, and then we'd have to leave it out to dry.  Once it was dry, well, why take it down?)  I'm also now realizing that we probably always set it up in the back of the house because I was embarrassed at how ugly it was.  Sounds like me, even though maybe one old ditchrider probably drove past on our dirt road on any given day.  And the mailman.  Did I mention that it smelled bad?  That tent was so much fun. 

Almost as soon as Mark got the tent up, the kids decided they wanted to sleep in it, so it soon filled up with mats, sleeping bags and pillows.  I made a point of lounging around in it, (what?!?) just cuddling my baby and watching the kids be goofy jumping on all the bedding.  That night we played Pictionary in the tent with the whole family with our white board and dry erase markers.  It was hilarious.  And fun.  I later told Mark, I think it helped to be in the tent because then I wasn't looking around, noticing who forgot to put their shoes away, or the crumbs on the rug, or the ever present formula powder mess on my counter.  Or watching the clock to see if we were past bedtime or not.  The kids "slept" in the tent and Mark and the baby and I stayed in the house.

This week has also turned out to be surprisingly fun and filled with adult worthy culture.  Fun lesson two:  It's okay to take your kids to things that YOU want to do sometimes and expect fun to happen (as long as you don't set the bar too high.)  They might enjoy themselves.  Yesterday we went to the Round Up Days art show.  It was very small, but it was new and different and got us out of the house.  The kids were excellent and all chose their favorite piece.  Afterwards, it was hot and they didn't even want to go to a playground, so we just came home. 

This morning happened to be Leslie's Summer Band concert.  I sat in the nice stadium seating with the kids and the baby in his car seat (I even snuck him some applesauce).  Leslie did great and made me so grateful that she has chosen the flute instead of a horky clarinet.

 The kids loved the concert and applauded enthusiastically.  The boys were particularly excited to hear the Mission Impossible theme song by the low brass and the Batman theme song.  Then, we had a surprise treat and the Lehi High School Marching band came in and did a few numbers, drum rolls and all.  I love marching bands.  The intensity of it all always makes me tear up a little...don't know why...the drums maybe?  The power of the surround sound?  I don't know.  At least there weren't bagpipes, then I really would have been a mess.  Maybe it's genetic.  My Auntie Michiel cries when she takes off in an airplane...I suspect it's a similar thing.  I soaked it up and kept my emotions in check, although Cooper (who has a serious radar on me) gave me some searching looks.  Then I noticed that the kids were cracking each other up by pretending to be startled out of their seats every time the cymbals crashed.  What a riot.

When we got home and the boys were still trying to copy the Mission Impossible theme song (incorrectly since they hadn't really heard it before) I had a fun idea.  At our house, we love to listen to Pandora radio, loud and proud.  I've got a toddler station for Macy when she's emptying silverware, Leslie likes Taylor Swift, the boys love One Direction and used it this week outside while weeding, Mark likes Michael Buble when we have company, and I've even channeled my Grandma LaVonne and have recently started listening to opera--and liking it--especially when I'm cooking Italian things.  In fact, I turn it on purposely when I'm making Italian because it's just so much more fun to fling cheese on your pizza when Luciano's singing "La Donna Mobile".  Today I made a Mission Impossible station.  It was awesome and I would recommend it to all parents of rowdy boys.  It mostly played soundtracks from spy and adventure movies.  The boys were in their costumes running all over the house to the tune of Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars, and The Incredibles.  Imagination vibes were probably glowing out of the cracks of our house.

Then this afternoon we went to the free admission day at our local museum.  Also very fun.

So, I figure, if I count Cooper reading some Shel Silverstein poetry to me this morning, we had a pretty full week.  Fine arts, music, drama and literature.  Yes, with some video games thrown in there too.  (Hey, it was 100 degrees today.)  And last night we had pizza at our favorite splash park, and I spent some time lying on a messy picnic blanket looking at the sky.  Summer has arrived.

PS.  I guess my idea of fun doesn't involve carrying a camera around, or even a cell phone.  Sorry for the lack of visual interest.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

At last...

See, I'm not just a lame, bossy, grumpy mom ALL day long.   Who do you suppose made them this awesome hammock?  Of course, I did picture myself in it at least some of the summer.  It could happen...
 Well, Summer is here at last.  June is not one of my favorite months, mostly because it always seems really hard as a parent to adjust from school to suddenly having five kids home all day all the time with "nothing" to do unless I give them something to do.  So, "we" work all morning, and if they get it done, they play in the afternoon.  When I supposedly finally get to my chores.  I'm so popular!  They seem to need me all the time.  It finally feels like I really have five whole kids.  Hence, I am finally typing up this blog at 10 o'clock at night, when they are all asleep and my hubby is happily tucked into KSL news.  Luckily, we've also been hard at play.

Also, they eat all the time.  (One of my neighbors, with growing boys out for the summer, put a keyless entry on her pantry.  That takes guts.  And hungry neighbors... like my kids.)   
I haven't decided if it's a good thing or not that Boston can now scoop everyone's ice cream.

Cooper graduated from Kindy garten.  He was super cute, especially as I realized I hadn't given him the once-over before he went out the door.  Wearing long sleeves, shorts, flip flops, and I think he still had food on his face.  The flip flops were ditched before the end of the program, making him the only barefoot graduate.

One afternoon Boston needed something to do, so I made him take a whole bunch of pictures of Luke.  They both loved it.  PS.  Luke sits up on his own now, and it is pretty fun.
At last, Luke is evolving into a beefy baby.  LOVE the rolls on his doughy legs.  I'm pretty certain with his surgery recovery he has jumped into the next growth curve on the chart.
Speaking of surgery, Cooper had his bone graft surgery that we've been planning since he was born.  The drama was significantly decreased by the fact that his brother just had open heart surgery.  So, no big deal.  Mark took him and spent the night with him.  I stayed home.  I think he had an okay time and they kept him pretty comfy--he hasn't complained of pain once. 

The left side of his face was pretty swollen and has faded to bruises.  The doctors put a plastic "splint" over his whole set of top teeth to protect the graft, and he is only allowed soft foods and no regular utensils, no straws.  Good thing we've got plenty of baby spoons, toy spoons, measuring spoons, and plastic spoons.  Good thing he likes oatmeal!  In this picture you can also see where he is going to need a nose job for his collapsed nostril when he is a teenager and a little more grown into his face.

Did I mention, no baths or swimming?  Here you can see the swelling a bit.  His hip incision was all bandaged up and connected with a tube to a pain pack that automatically delivered medicine straight to the wound.  Nice for us, cumbersome for Cooper.  Especially the night that he sleep-walked and got it caught in the door and screamed his face off and had an accident before I could wake him up.

I've made kind of a summer goal for myself to have more Carpe Diem moments --Seize the Day!-- and just do the things that I've always meant to do as a mom or really want to do but keep putting off for no good reason.  My kids aren't getting any younger, and it's never going to be convenient to get out of the house and DO stuff, especially during the week when Mark is at work.

Anyway, not complaining, just pointing out that I'm very proud of myself for taking my kids to do anything fun because I'm a big wimp about that kind of thing.

Awesome thing number one was something I've wanted to do for years.  I drove my kids all the way up to Ogden and met up with my Grandpa Ebert Heagy and my brother Jake's family, down from Montana.  (I even multitasked the travelling, carefully coordinating this trip with the wedding dinner for my brother Duke in WVC that evening.)  We went to the Hill Air Force Base Museum and Grandpa served as our tour guide.  He was a pilot and an airplane mechanic with the Air National Guard for years.  I remembered going to this museum with him--I think just the two of us--when I was maybe a freshman in high school, and I wanted to do it again as an adult and so my kids could remember seeing the planes with their great grandpa.
Here is Grandpa Heagy with some of our crew in front of the "Grasshopper" (the dark gray plane with the yellow propeller parked on the ground).  This is the type of plane he learned how to fly on, when he was a teenager.

This is a picture of the type of plane that crashed with the Montana governor near Helena several years ago.  Grandpa was supposed to be on that flight, but had decided to stay home that day because my mom, a little girl at the time, was very sick.  There were no survivors.
That night was Duke and Natalie's wedding dinner, hosted by my parents.  Of course, the prime rib was the other guest of honor.  When the mike was passed around, I had another carpe diem moment.

I once read a thought by James E. Talmage that taught that true joy leaves no bitter aftertaste, and that when you think back on it, you will have a renewal of that same happiness.  Hopefully we left Duke and Natalie some of those moments this weekend.  I know I gathered a few.

Anyway, when I had my chance with the mike, I reminded the crowd that Duke, as a very nervous teenager, had sang at my wedding reception, and that I had been waiting....and waiting.... to return the favor.  And that I only had one song choice left.  Then I really had a great time hamming it up and blasting out my little number by Etta James.  You've heard of go big or go home?  No regrets baby.  I didn't really register anyone's reaction because I was nervous, but Mark said Duke was grinning like an idiot the whole time.  Mission accomplished.  For the record (and for my folks, who said the acoustics were difficult) here are the last minute lyrics:

"At last!  His love has come along.
Duke's lonely days are over.
And life is like a song!
At last!  My mom and dad can breathe.
Their fox caught more than feathers
When Duke laid eyes on Natalie.
Down by the Green River, Wyoming
Big D was all sad and alone.
He found a dream...right there on "Linkups"
He'd drive a thousand miles to her home!  (Every weekend, yeah yeah)
You smiled, ah, and then the spell was cast.
His bachelor days are over.
Duke's found a last!"
Wah wah wah wah....

What a gorgeous couple.  During their wedding I kept thinking how handsome my brother is--they both just glowed.
Darcy flew down solo to come to the wedding and to come play with her sisters.
Super cute.  Cousin power!  Wish Darcy's three boys could have been in this shot.  Luke loved his tie.  He thought it was yummy.  It was so drenched it was dripping drool.
I guess the tie was a little much.  But it was fun.
My mom's granddaughters.  With Rachel, holding reluctant Addy.  Poor Rach is about to pop and had bad contractions that night.
Darcy, Jake, Duke, Jackie, Brooke.  I think we're all laughing that Jake caught Dad's photoallergenic ability.  I'm wearing some serious wedges here, otherwise I'd be the shortest one.
Everyone's making a weird face here.  Sun too bright?
My tribe.  Loved the colors, Natalie.
That night, after they cut the cake, we zipped over to Park City where my parents had rented a vacation condo for all of us.  Grandpa likes to tuck the kids in with a little silly singing.
The next day, after a getaway breakfast to Kneaders and a few garage sales with my sistahs, we went for a few rides on the Gondolas.  My Dad was liberal with his water bottle, and my kids were trying to learn how not to touch it with their mouths.

The kids on top of the mountain.
At one point, after multiple gondola rides, the ride stopped completely while we were suspended mid air.  Jaxon, Macy and Cooper were a little concerned, and Dad and I didn't help much, asking them which seat they wanted to sleep on, and what we were going to eat, etc.  About five minutes later, when it started up again, Cooper jumped up, cheering, and hollered, "Good thing I prayed!"

Cooper and Jax try to identify some of the local wildlife.
One of the funniest moments of the trip was riding back from the gondolas in my dad's car with these three little ding dongs.  My Dad got this mischievous look on his face, put on some music and called attention to the upcoming song.  Jaxon, my brother Jake's eldest, age 6, perked right up.  "Yes!  This song is AWESOME!"  I was curious what kind of musical taste my tone deaf brother (and sister-in-law, sorry Rach, you have many other talents) had begat....

Remember that part in What About Bob?  "There are two kinds of people in this world.  Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't."  Jaxon does, decidedly and emphatically.  Enter "Sweet Caroline".  Cooper and Macy were straining to hear what Jaxon was so excited about during the verse.  He reassured all of us, "I don't really like this part.  It's boring.  But when it gets to the "Reaching out...touching me" (he stretches out his arm to the front of the car and makes a face like he's pulling someone onto the last chopper out of Vietnam) then it gets awesome."  It did.  It definitely did.  I wished I had a video camera to shoot Jaxon's top of the lungs rendition to save for HIS wedding reception.

After we had all recovered, Jaxon turns to Macy and Cooper.  "So, is that your favorite song now guys?"  Crickets.  Macy finally piped up, "Well, I like "We Will Rock You." 

Jaxon was undaunted, "What about you, Cooper, is that your favorite song?" 
"Can it be your second favorite song??"
Cooper placates.  "I guess you can say it is, if you want to."

Forgot to point out Luke's square face.  With jowls like that, he could eat you for breakfast.
PS.  For dinner last night I pulled a double whammy pioneer woman and cooked Dutch oven potatoes, sweet onions and bacon, IN my Dutch oven IN my sun oven.  Perfect.  Macy, however, was not impressed, and was still sitting at the table when everyone else had finished.  "Mom, I don't like onions."  I explained that they were sweet onions and not spicy and she probably wouldn't even notice them.  She ate a few more bites.  "You're right mom, they just taste like dirt, but I ate them anyway." 
A few minutes later, Mark stretched and commented what a yummy dinner we just had.  Macy contradicted him sweetly.  "What a yucky dinner we had...but I ate it ALL gone!"