Tuesday, January 28, 2014

EmmaClaire turns 8 years old

EmmaClaire turned eight this past weekend and is super excited about getting baptized this coming weekend.  

This past year or so, she has had a fetish with horses.  Not My Little Ponies ( that's Kate's fetish), but real ponies and horses.  The fear she had of riding horses a few years ago has turned into pure love and excitement.  With Mima and Papa living close by now, the kids have enjoyed riding horses a lot more than usual, and EmmaClaire has been the child that begs for it the most.  I have loved watching her fears change into interest and confidence.  

So, not surprisingly, she wanted a pony birthday party.  Mima and Papa hosted the fun part at their house with three saddled horses and lots of brushes for the girls to comb the horses.  EmmaClaire invited six girls, five of which came. 

She love love loves her Papa!

After riding and brushing the horses, Papa drove up with the ranger and took the girls for a ride.

Then we headed back home and played Pin the tail on the Pony ( so original, I know), then had a horse piƱata, presents, and cupcakes.  It was a fun and memorable party for my sweet girl.

She didn't have any jobs to do all day, and got to choose the breakfast and dinner menu.  Walffles with berry syrup for breakfast, and out to eat at Chili's for dinner.  Other than her very own set of personalized scriptures, I'm pretty sure her favorite birthday gift was a stuffed animal pony.

As tradition, here's what we all loved about EmmaClaire;
Kate- she plays really nice with me
Andersen-she is a good school teacher, and I like playing school with her.
Abby- she's fun to play with, and she is nice and caring, and she's an awesome sister.
Mason- she's pure girl, she loves everything that a girly girl should love.
Taylor- she's always smily, happy, laughs, jolly.  She's super fun to be around.
Mom- she has a kind heart and is thoughtful and sensitive to others around her.
Dad- she stays focused on her jobs and tasks.  She's a good work and doesn't get distracted easily.

Happy birthday to our sweet, sweet EmmaClaire!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

We're living in absolute mess!

This past week and this coming week, the drywall guys are doing their job. . . Which means tons and tons of dust.  It's kind of gross, and no matter how I try to keep things cleaned up, there's always another layer of dust on everything and anything in our whole house.  The workers haven't done any work in my bedroom or closet.  This past weekend I put on some red flats that I hadn't worn in over a week.  The shoes were so full of dust, they looked like they hadn't been work in years.  A damp rag cleaned things up. . . But not for long.

Here's a few pieces of furniture that were dusted just 6 days ago.

Hopefully dry wall will finish up this week, then we can wipe everything down before paint, flooring, tile, and trim.  Then wipe everything down again.  Then again, as the dust continues to settle.  We're super excited about having the new space.  Very much looking forward to saying goodbye to the construction zone in our house!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Major Home Remodel

I have dreamed for 3 years about doing this home addition.  John started dreaming with me about 10 months ago, so we had a contractor come over and give us a general bid for the job.  Then we sat on the idea, mulled it over, changed and changed the plans ten times over, saved our pennies and planned our finances. . . Then we got pregnant with #7 and decided to jump on it and get it rolling, and hopefully finished before baby came.

So we're now living in a construction zone with constant dust, noise, workers in and out daily, lots of last minute decisions, questions, more changes to the plans, and lots of major messes. And I couldn't be more excited!  After a few failed attempts at cleaning the house (vacuuming, dusting, sweeping),  the kids were thrilled to hear me announce that no one has to do any cleaning till Spring Break in March.  It's just no use.  We're hoping to be finished by then.

So what are we doing?  The family room ceiling originally went up about 21 feet, all the way up to the ceiling of the second story.  We put a 10-foot ceiling over the family room, which will allow for a huge play/game room above it.  We added two big storage closets (which are sooooo needed in this house, where there are currently zero linen or storage closets.  Just doesn't work very well with a large family) and changed the small loft into another bedroom and full bathroom.  

Within the last two weeks, we have finished framing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and insulation.  What's left is drywall, then trim, then paint, then carpet, then more trim and last minute install of electrical, plumbing, etc.   we're hoping to finish up within the next 4 weeks.

Here's the family room.

Workers, framing the new ceiling over the family room.

Looking down into the family room from the upstairs loft.

New floor being laid for the big playroom ( according to Andersen and Kate), otherwise known as the new game room (according to My teenagers).

Looking from the stairs landing to what used to be a wall, which the workers knocked down. Lots of circular holes towards the ceiling ( on the wall adjacent to the master bedroom) allowed for insulation, I.e. noise barrier between the game room and my bedroom.

We decided to put a pocket door towards the top of the stairs at the entrance of the hallway that leads into the bedrooms so we have the option of closing it when young kids are going to sleep but older kids are playing in the game room.  It also will hopefully keep friends/ cousins away from playing in the bedrooms.

Looking into the loft, which is being morphed into a bedroom and bathroom. The tub was installed yesterday.  Progress!

In the hallway, we used to have upper cabinets with a desk and lower cabinets below.  For my family, it was the clutter collection pile, and the cupboard were so narrow that we could hardly store sheets and towels.  So we ripped them out and are building a double door closet with wide, deep shelves for bins, tubs, and lots of awesome stuff that just needs a place to call its own.  And because we didn't want to be wasteful, we installed the upper cabinets in the laundry room and plan to use the lower cabinets in the playroom below the media area.

Another storage closet for all the games, toys, and fun kid stuff that keeps our kids happy and entertained. This closet is in the corner of the game room.

Where is all the family room furniture?  In the living room, of course.  Makes for a fun game of hot lava, where the kids hop from couch to couch without touching the ground.

I'm pretty sure that Spring Break is going to bring some major Spring cleaning and home organization.  Can't wait!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The scales are tipped. ..

After a not-so-fun and emotionally and physically draining first trimester, I was a little more anxious about the 20 week ultrasound for our # 7 baby.  John and I went in last week and were so pleased to see a healthy, wiggly little baby, with no seen problems.  To me, it was an answer to prayer and another tender mercy from The Lord.

And we're having a boy!  With 3 of each gender, John and I really didn't have any preference. . . until  I held my sister in law's brand new baby boy last week.  Then it hit me that two other sisters had just had baby boys this past 5 months.  I couldn't be happier!

The kids were all dying to know the baby's gender when they got home from school.  I typed up the poem, Snakes and snails, and puppy dog tails, That's what little boys are made of. Then I cut it up into puzzle pieces, and put each puzzle piece into a white helium balloon.  The kids all took guesses, then we popped the balloons and put together the puzzle.  

Within minutes, the kids started asking about how the bedroom situation would change, who is sharing with who, who gets the empty bedroom. . . Then what to name the baby.  They were all excited.  We ended our night with a lot of blue candy and treats. It was a fun, memorable evening!

The best Christmas present EVER!

Ever since I became a mother, I have always desired happy children.  That's easy when they are younger, but has seemed to become more difficult as the kids have gotten older.  For my birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and any other "gift giving" event, my kids always ask me what I want for a present.  My response has always been the same;  all I want for my birthday (or fill in the blank) is happy, obedient children.  Then they usually always follow up with , "I know, but what do you really want?"  Occasionally, I've given answers like Chapstick, a foot rub, etc. . . But always, the kids get that answer, "happy, obedient children".

I remember my mom always saying the same thing and just thought she was being silly.  But now as a mom myself, that's the best gift anyone could ever give me.  

Taylor's Christmas gift was a single typed piece of paper in a single white envelope that brought a flood of tears and meant so much, more than any gift money could buy.  I'm lucky to have him as oldest son and am grateful for the example he sets for the others that follow.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lunch with Mason

 These past few years, I have tried to keep up the tradition of taking my school kids out to lunch once a month.  With as crazy as things get around here, I find it hard to get one on one time with my older kids, especially as their schedules fill up and get busy.  So I love getting them all to myself for all of 45 minutes during their lunch break once a month.  With Mason's birthday last week, we took advantage and hit Firehouse Subs for their free birthday lunch.

We talk about friends, school, sports, girls, his testimony, church activities, etc.  And I try to throw in lots and lots of compliments so he knows how much I love and appreciate him.

And check out those braces!  He got them put on within the past month, just before Christmas break.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Another teenager in the House

Mason turned 13 this weekend.  It's hard for me to believe my littles are all growing up into their own people, with their own interests and desires.  With Christmas just a week ago, John and I didn't know what to get for Mason.  And he's such an easy-going, east-to-please kind of guy, it's always hard to think of the perfect gift for him.

He has been wanting an ipod for a while.  John didn't love the idea of giving one of our children a temptation to check out of family interactions, to "plug in" to seclusion.  I agreed with him on that one.  But at the same time, I wanted to give Mason something teenage-ish, something he would think was cool and would be able to connect with his peers on. 

So we compromised, and decided to give him an ipod without earpods and an ihome for speakers.  That way, whatever he was listening to, we'd all be hearing around the house. Which would hopefully encourage a good choice of music as well.  So I purchased both and was super bugged about the price, which was much more than we'd usually spend on a birthday present.  Yea, we're kinda cheapskates.  But I'm OK with that.

Then I had a good idea.  I bought ipod and ihome, then offered it to Mason if he wanted to keep it, or he could take $100 instead (which was much less than what I paid) and could spend it however he wanted to.  He gladly took the $100, then started looking on craigslist for a used ipod and ihome.  After a while, he started saying that he really didn't need an ipod and thought he could still be a cool teenager without one, and that saving $100 was the best idea.  Awesome!

I'm impressed with Mason's reasoning.  He doesn't mind having used things, and he's not focused on name brands or "things", but more on people and relationships.  He is a homebody and seems to enjoy being home, just chillin' with the rest of us instead of hanging out with friends.  I like that.

To celebrate his birthday, Mason invited 7 friends (three of which were his dad, Taylor, and Andersen. . .so really 4 friends) to go to SE Arizona for an overnighter and hike Devil's Hole the following day.  They left yesterday afternoon, stopped for pizza for dinner, then stayed the night at my inlaws house.  This morning after getting up, they visited Grandpa Jim and watched the "shakers" shake all the pecans off the trees and worked with him for a while, then headed to Devil's Hole, a rock climbing place close by.  Parts of the course are quite challenging and scary at times.  Sounds like most of the boys did really well, with the exception of one who had a lot of fear and shed a few tears.  But all in all, they had fun and got home safely this afternoon.

Then tonight for a birthday dinner of his choice, we had lasagna, green salad, steamed broccoli and french bread with cheesecake for dessert. 

What we love about Mason:
John-I love how easy going Mason is.  He is so easy to please
Rebecca-I love how hand Mason is.  He likes to be helpful and fix things around the house.  He'll make an awesome handyman husband someday.
Taylor-Mason is my best friend.  I love how many memories we share together, and how I always have someone cool to hang out with.
Abby-I love Mason's sense of humor.  He makes me laugh.
EmmaClaire-Mason always shares with me and is really kind to me.
Andersen-Mason is nice to me, and sometimes teases me but not really bad.
Kate-I love Mason because he gives me gum and candy.

For the record, Mason measures 5 foot 3.5 inches and weighs 105 lbs. 

Love you Mase!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

Since the beginning of the school year, life has gotten quite crazy busy, and my journaling has taken the back seat.  Pregnancy threw me for a loop, and I have been in survival mode.  Feeling much better now.  And cheers to a new year, which always comes with reflection, ways to improve, and new goals.  One of mine this 2014 is to do a better job of  journaling our family activities, my motherly thoughts, and growth that takes place here at home.  Someday, I'll be grateful I took the time to write things down, even if it's a paragraph here and a sentence there, even if there are no pictures attached.

Since August, here are a few highlights and happenings: 
  • Taylor started highschool, after skipping 8th grade.  He has been challenged academically, for a first.  And he loves the social scene as well.  After the first month of school, I knew it was the right decision to have him skip a grade because he hadn't missed a day of coming home from school and, after me asking how his day was, saying "Mom, it was an awesome day" or "Mom, it couldn't have been better" or, "Mom, highschool totally rocks".  He loves it, and I love that he loves it.  Half way into the semester, he realized that he had some B's in a few classes and made a goal then and there that he would work as much as it took to get straight A's through all 4 years of highschool.  Being in all honor's classes, that's quite a goal.  Sure enough, he came home from school the last day before Christmas break and told me he had brought up all his B's to A's, and had gotten straight A's for the semester.  I'm glad he's being challenged. 
  • Andersen played soccer for the first time.  John and I think for a 6 year old, he has quite an athletic build with lots of muscle definition.. . .maybe he'll be our prized athlete!  So we were interested to see how he'd do in soccer.  When he kicked the ball, it went really far.  But he wasn't too agressive on the field, but would wait towards to back for the ball to come directly to him.  But he enjoyed playing on the team, especially since most of the boys were friends from our ward. 
  • Abby tried out and made the school musical, Aladin.  She didn't make a lead role but is happy to be involved and frequently comes home from practice singing for the rest of the evening. Love it!
  • Mason played organized football for the first time with the junior high team.  They lost every game but one, and tied one game, 0 to 0.  To say the least, it wasn't his favorite sport.  But he learned a lot and was a good team player.  Now onto basketball.
  • John was released from serving as Bishop's 2nd counselor, I was released as serving in the primary presidency, and we were both called to serve together as team teachers in primary for 8 year olds.  It's been a joy to serve together.  John is a super amazing teacher, and he knows how to be cool with the kids but also how to demand respect without being rough or mean.  I love learning from him.
  • I survived the first trimester of my pregnancy, which had a few complications that kept me all but bed-ridden.  The blood clots have become a lot smaller as the baby has grown.  I am scheduled for an ultrasound next week to make sure things are healthy and to find out gender. Almost 20 weeks, not quite into maternity clothes yet, but I'm getting quite limited with the clothes that fit.  I always call it the "awkard stage".   It's nice to be feeling better and to have more energy so I can keep up with my kids.
  • My brother Matt got married to Jessica Richardson in SLC.  We love her and are excited to get to know her better!  She's perfect for Matt.

We have  a lot to be thankful for.  And I have a lot of journaling to catch up on. Cheers to a new year!