Days 2015

Days 2015

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Headlock Mode

Sundays are funny.  I feel like we've had things pretty easy around here--blessings come from Mark being in the Bishopric and dedicating so much time away from home to serving others.  Getting five kids ready for church, and then sitting through church, highlights some predictable patterns.

Leslie--is well behaved and helpful as usual. Sits primly and likes to use her own tiny hymnbook.  Today the two of us sang a duet in sacrament meeting.  It was fun and she did great, although she claims she was nervous.  She didn't look it.

Boston--a bit headstrong, as usual.  Plays in his jammies until the last minute, comes down for lunch (we have afternoon church because we share a building with three other wards, even though it is only two blocks away) with his church clothes on but no tie, squirms when I do his top button and claims that I am pinching him, gets his tie, knots up his own shoes--the only ones with laces since he does velcro during the week, packs contraband into the diaper bag--this week it was a toy car, is excited to go to Primary and runs into the building.  He loves being the first of the family into the chapel and picking out where our family will sit.  Totally pesky during the most reverent part of the meeting, usually poking and teasing Cooper or trying to kiss the baby every five seconds.  ALWAYS thinks he is dying of thirst or hunger.  After the sacrament he is usually pretty good, sitting quietly and drawing in a notebook or lately, folding endless paper airplanes that he brings home to fly.  Today he only had to sit on the couch when we got home for three minutes--one minute for each time I had to say his name during sacrament meeting.

Cooper--Cooper and Sundays don't mix.  He is such a good kid the rest of the week, even through Sunday morning, but from about 12 o'clock on he is so ON one and wound up to the max; totally opposite from his usual behavior.  I call it his headlock mode (because I feel like I need to have him in a headlock all during sacrament meeting to get him to be still.)  Today we were sitting directly opposite from Mark on the stand and he could see what was going on with our son, the congregation clown.  When we got home, he asked me, "What was up with Cooper today?", and pantomined turning around, standing on the seat and gleefully waving at everyone behind us with both hands.  I laughed and told him he was like that every week.  Cooper was pretty quiet, drawing for the second half of the meeting, but definitely had some couch time when we got home as well, and has been fine the rest of the day.

Macy--likes getting dressed up but NOT getting her hair brushed, sits nicely snuggled up to Leslie, sometimes looking at a book of scripture pictures or coloring.  She doesn't even need snacks or toys to keep her in check although she sometimes forgets to whisper and occasionally likes to put both feet on the pew in front of us, usually to block and trip the boys trying to squirm past.  Last week she got a minute on the couch for doing that, and this week she announced before church that she would not be putting her feet in the way.  She kept her word.

Luke--sometimes he sleeps in his carseat but lately he has been awake during sacrament meeting and I have to take him out in the hall when he fusses.  This makes it hard to keep my other boys in a headlock, so I have to throw myself on the mercies of our neighboring churchgoers who may have to come sit in my place.  I am often tempted to pinch Luke so that I don't have to be the one shushing my other four.  One baby out in the hall is a luxury.  The downside is that my arms are always so limp by the time I get home from holding baby (and wrestling kids) for three hours straight.  Today I was so tired I fell asleep at 5 o'clock while Luke was downstairs watching the kids play after church.  This should not have happened because Luke actually slept through the night last night for the first time and I should have been bouncing off the walls with energy.  I guess I had to prove to myself that Sunday is a day of rest?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Park Avenue Irregulars: Spring Break Part 2

Camping is a challenge for me, as I imagine it is for most moms with little kids.  1. It seems like SOO much work for so little fun.  However, it feels great to do something out of the ordinary and the kids remember it for the rest of their lives.  I was excited to try to camp two nights instead of our standard one, because mathematically, this is a bit more fun for the same amount of packing.  Our plans were thwarted, as you will soon see, but we totally could have done it, and for that I am proud of myself.  2.  I am a terrible sleeper in the best of conditions, so sleeping in a tent on a squeaky, leaky air mattress alongside six other people (not to mention all the loud people with loud dogs and loud vehicles in the campsite that is WAY too close to mine--this is Utah, not Montana--and those horrible birds that start making a racket an hour before the sun comes up) about does me in.  Luckily, I played the baby card and Mark folded down the seats in the Dodge Yak and built me a lovely, quiet nest on a non-squeaky, leaky foam mattress built for one mom and one angelic baby.  Mark slept in the tent with the rowdies.  I still slept awful, but I did sleep, even with one feeding by flashlight lantern and hot-water thermos in the night for Luke.  (I know, he's old enough to sleep through the night, but his weight gain is awesome right now, making up for lost time, so I'm not pushing him to do so just yet.)  We woke up feeling fine--I was up before the tent folk and even had time to read my scriptures.  Things were looking up.  When the tent folk emerged, they beat a path to my door to tell me the bad news:  Mom!  Boston has strep!

Sigh.  I called his pediatrician (don't laugh, but I keep using them partly because I've memorized their phone number) but they said it was their policy not to call in a prescription without a positive lab test until not one, but two people in the family had already tested positive.  Dang bureaucracy.  I tried to remember what the refund policy was on my hot shower campsite (that I had yet to make use of), and prepared for packing up.
However, when I emerged from the Yak, Boston was tearing around the campsite with Cooper, laughing and acting totally normal.  He said that nothing hurt and that he felt fine, although apparently he had been crying about having a headache and a sore throat in the night.  I tried taking his temperature with the thermometer I had packed (this gives away the fact that we were not totally surprised by the turn of events) but it was still too cold for its little computer to think.  Deciding that it was impossible to have strep throat without a sore throat, we gleefully left the tent up, poured the Motrin down Boston's throat in case he really did have a fever, and hauled the kids to nearby Arches Natl. Park, one of our favorite destinations.

The weather was GORGEOUS, probably to make up for the day before.  We tried a hike that we hadn't gone on before, the Park Avenue trail, about a mile long one way.  It was way fun, pretty easy, and even had several echo places where Cooper and I yelled "Rise and shout!  The Cougars are Out!"  (Oops, guess we should have done, "Where's the Beef?")  Best of all, the trail was at the bottom of the landscape on nice, flat, slickrock, not skirting the edges of cliffs like the Delicate Arch trail that about scared me to death with all these crazy children a couple of years ago.


We had a lovely picnic near Courthouse Rock.

Then we stopped at Sand Dune Arch for the kids' reward.  That's their favorite place at Arches.  The shoes came off and the feet got buried.  Mark, Luke and I lounged on the picnic blanket and pretended we were at the beach while the kids dug in for about an hour and a half.


Leslie shows her tough stuff.
I had hoped to do one more hike after our respite at Sand Dune, but when we climbed back in the Yak, Boston looked a bit droopy.  I thought, well, a two mile hike might do that to ya, but then I noticed that the other kids were fine.  Sure enough, he started to look worse by the minute and burst into tears that his head and stomach hurt.  We decided that we'd already had a great vacation, the campsite could just keep our reservation money for the 2nd night, and we high-tailed it out of there, stopping for Pizza Hut on the way home instead of our planned hot dogs and smores. 
I slept great.

PS.  Apparently you can have strep throat without a sore throat.  My fridge is full of pink stuff, but at least we snuck in an awesome spring break vacation.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mud Goblins: Spring Break Part 1

After spending last summer as a beached whale, and all winter as a germophobe with a newborn and an electric pump, I was SO ready for a vacation with my best friends.  Leslie obligingly tested positive for strep throat the day before we left, so she was good to go.  We decided to tackle Goblin Valley (southern Utah) since Mark and I had never been and we had heard that it is great with kids.  For camping we opted for reservations at Green River State Park (right on the edge of town with showers and hot water, near a very convenient laundromat, as you will soon see).

We were off like a herd of turtles on Tuesday morning with a good weather forecast, only 30% chance of rain and a high of 70.  Mark had been insisting all morning that there was NO POSSIBLE WAY everything was going to fit in our Dodge Yak (see previous post), and as usual, I ignored him because I think he just misses his Tahoe with the pod on top, and of course, everything fit.  Silly man, we didn't even bring a stroller or a high chair or anything like that.  He still claims that this was the tightest squeeze yet, with Leslie in the front seat perched and buckled atop a doubled-up foam mattress.  Luke was fabulous in the car and I patted myself on the back for having Mark get me a nice thermos to pack his hot bottle water in. 

Goblin Valley was awesome.
Happy children, blue skies.

Leslie, Cooper and Macy.  It was a bit tricky to get everyone to stay together.

Everyone but our youngest two had their BYU regalia on at some point of the trip.  There were tons of other Utah county folk down with their families for spring break.

Cooper was a bit of a mountain goat and we had to get after him for hopping from stone to stone; they are taller than they look here.  In this picture you can see the west edge of the valley where everyone parks.  We were not too far from the parking lot at this point.

I wish Mark was in this picture, too.  Boston and Cooper are off on the left, then Macy, Luke and I, and Leslie.  This was really a perfect time to take Luke hiking because he loves being outside and he's not too heavy for me to pack around for hours. 

See that stuff up in the top right corner?  That's called foreshadowing.
Captain Boston
 So, after about an hour of exploring and playing around on the hoodoos, I thought it would be cool to hike across the valley to the cliff wall on the far side.  Taking a very winding route, we were excited to make it all the way across.  Mark guesses it was about half to 3/4 mile across, tending to the longer mileage because we wound so much.  As we got to the cliff face, it started to sprinkle a bit.  No big deal, at least it was warmish, and we needed a little rest anyway.  The kids were mostly concerned about the close crashing thunder and flashes of lightning.  I told them they didn't need to worry about the lightning because we were down at the bottom of a valley.


This cool formation was the crevice in the cliff wall we were aiming at.  We thought it would be fun to hunker down here for a minute and get out of the rain and thunder.  Luke and I fit on the seat next to Leslie.  Mark talked to the kids about this beautiful creation and we started to sing the hymn "How Great Thou Art" together.  It was a lovely, serene moment and I thought, isn't it nice that the Lord is letting us make such beautiful memories together.  How nice.  Now I think He may have been chuckling a bit at this point. You can see the top of the rock starting to get wet.

This is a bit better shot of the formations above where we were sitting.  I did not yet notice the vertical lines directly above and between Leslie and Mark while I took this picture.  About two minutes later, we would find out that those lines were not rain drops. 

About halfway through, "How Great Thou Art", one of the kids let out a squeal.  I turned and saw this thick rivulet of mud running inside of our little shelter and pouring down our backs.  We tried to adjust seating, only to notice three or four MORE streams of mud converging on our little "shelter".  Mark and I looked at each other and started to laugh.  Macy and Cooper started to cry, and Boston started to "moan".  (He later declared that he was not crying, just moaning.)  Mark told the kids that we'd better hurry back to our van through the storm and they plunged out into the deluge as soon as I had turned Luke around facing me in his pouch.  I was glad that he had a hood on so that I could mostly protect his little face, but his poor chunky legs had about 3 inches of exposure, so I tried to alternate keeping his hands warm and his legs warm.  The rain was mixed with icy snips of sleet. 

I had heard about rain in the desert and flash floods, but I had never seen one in person.  Luckily we were not in a place (like a slot canyon where we had planned to go next) where the water would have gotten deep enough to be dangerous, but it was still amazing to watch the transformation.  I probably would have appreciated it slightly more had I not been up to my ankles in it and trying to keep from slipping the mud, and jumping over the wide shallow creeks while negotiating the crazy terrain with three crying children, a bewildered teenager and a mystified, cold and wet but angelic baby.  Good thing I remembered to bring my intrepid husband.  The whole scene reminded me of an old western my family likes called "Westward the Women", where the Chinese cook and his boss keep slipping full body into the mud looking for the grave of Jim Quakenbush during a storm.  That part is hilarious but I always thought that the mud wouldn't have been that bad.  Well, now I know I was wrong.  That valley was one giant mud pit, it was JUST like the movie, and we had to cross it or die.  Well, not die, but I think the kids thought they were gonna die, especially with the thunderbolts chasing them the whole way.

About halfway through the kids stopped crying (I had been pointing out that Luke wasn't crying, and he was the baby!) and started listening to Mark who was telling them that it was going to be okay, that our family can do hard things.  We do TOUGH STUFF around here!  Macy later pointed out that we just always have to keep trying.  Who knew that this would be the binding, memorable family lesson moment that we would take away from our trip?

And now we have the proof of survival.  The man who snapped these "We are the Champion" shots for us declared that these would be going on our Christmas card this year.  We'll see.
You can see how wet we are in this picture--check out the light gray where Luke was buckled vs. the dark gray of my sweater.  No one else had a dry spot on them to compare.  I think Luke's face are red mostly from rubbing against my wet shirt than from the cold.   He had just barely started crying about a minute away from the stairs to the parking lot.  Check out Macy's wet hands--she kept crying and insisting that she didn't know how to put her hands in her pockets.  Boston has already fully recovered from the trauma in this shot.  After we removed wet jackets and muddy shoes and loaded into the car, tucking the kids into our dry blankets and bedding, he said, "That was FUN!" 

This is a great shot because you can tell how very muddy the valley got and also how far we came through the storm.  We think that we were hiding in the crevice either directly above Leslie's head or the one just to the right of Mark's head, and we looped to the right to get back because some of the hills were way to slippery to try to climb over, especially with a baby in a pouch.  A large family posed for a picture next, coming up just after us, and they were way muddier than we were, with mud slimed into almost everyone's hair.  I guess they also tried to take shelter and got plastered.

The rain soon stopped and Green River was dry and warm, so we bid those tricky Goblins adieu for this year and loaded all of our wet clothing into a jumbo washer at the local laundromat.  I did pack extra clothes--just not extra jackets and we knew we would want them that evening when it cooled off.  The shoes were a problem.  I didn't want to run that much mud through the wash and I was worried they wouldn't get dry anyway.  Amazingly, I had somehow packed a dozen WalMart bags intending to use them for diaper disposal, and we were soon clad in some pretty funny looking socks.  We had a lovely barbecue dinner in the park and the kids played on the playground.  All the kids fell right to sleep that night.  We Days are resilient.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Giggles Magoo

It's fun to be the baby.