Sunday, July 2, 2017

Evening Play Time

When we moved to Oregon two years ago we decided it was time the children start sharing a room. And for the last two years we have had the benefit of listening to them play until they finally put themselves to bed. (I should note that we do an official bedtime routine, but after that they are free to stay up as long as they want so far as they stay upstairs and don't kill each other.) 

They aren't always as charitable towards each other as we would like, but by and large they are good friends. The games we hear played (via the baby monitor) are often completely endearing. In the last few months, they have started asking to be able to sleep in the guest room. Matthew is concerned about the habit, but hey, they aren't asking to sleep with us and they don't make a fuss when we actually have a guest to utilize the space. Often Boy Howdy will sleep here and Cheeks will eventually make her way to her own bed, but it always amuses me when I catch them sleeping side by side or with one on the floor.

We recently had Matthew's father for a visit and he mentioned that they will always remember these nights playing together. I certainly hope they do. I know I will.

P.S. A month or so ago, Boy Howdy was going through a phase of being particularly cruel to his sister. One night he was inviting her to have a sleep over in the lego (guest) room with him but she was rebuffing his efforts. She was trying to go to sleep in her own bed and didn't want to go along with his amusements. I went upstairs to check on them because both were sobbing. Cheeks because she just wanted to be left alone and Boy Howdy because she wouldn't listen to his invitation. Somehow amidst it all, I found myself sobbing as well. Crying that my boy was, for once, actually making an effort to be nice and his little heart was broken over his rejection. Oh how I hope they will always be close.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Reusable Grocery Bags

A LONG while ago I purchased these bulk commodities and instead of throwing away the sacks (the way most sane people do), I kept them in hopes of creating bags out of them. For months I worried that Pinterest had turned me into a hoarder with all their posts on up-cycling common place items instead of sending them to the landfill. Why was I keeping trash??? Thankfully I finally got around to remaking them into simple reusable grocery bags. I love them. I'm excited to try them out on my next trip. Let's see if they hold up as well as I hope!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer Crafts

In an effort to make three months of summer break manageable and enjoyable for all concerned, I created a tentative schedule for each weeks' activities. Each week contains a park day, a friend playdate day, a local outing and an out of town day. Monday is grocery shopping and laundry day, but to make it fun for the kids, it is also craft day.

The kids actually really look forward to craft day, and this week's project was bendable fishies. I tried to let the kids be in charge of their own fish as much as my Type A personality would allow. I wasn't perfect, but the eyes they cut out all on their own were just as precious and the concentration on their faces while accomplishing the task.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day 2017

Boy Howdy and Cheeks brought home the following from Primary today. I'm kind of in love with Boy Howdy's responses to Matthew's job (somehow it makes him sound as though his job is to play video games in the basement all day), his superpower (Matthew has recently mentioned his inability to throw up, though I'm not sure where the airplane came from), and who he loves more (poor Cheekies). We definitely had to capture these for the future.

Matthew would like it to be known that he likes being a dad.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Preschool Graduation

Today was preschool graduation. It was a fairly short program which included the kids sitting for circle time, singing songs and getting up one by one to share their career aspirations. (You can tell Boy Howdy is SUPER excited to be sitting in between two girls.)

I started getting choked up until the kids started singing and Boy Howdy just stood there like a lump. I know he knows the words. When Cheeks sings the songs at home, Boy Howdy often jumps in to correct her wording and motions. But, that day, for whatever reason, he opted to stand mute (kind of like the above picture). Cheeks made a little more effort.

When it was time for the kids to share their aspirations for the future, most kids (there are a lot of girls) said princess, butterfly, fireman. There were a lot of princesses. So when Boy Howdy got up and said "scientist," Matthew BEAMED with pride. Cheeks was the last to get up. Just two days before she randomly told someone at church she was going to be a doctor. I was so smug thinking my children would be the cool kids in class, so imagine my sorrow when she also claimed princess. I may have died a little.

I'm glad they had the opportunity to share a preschool class this year. It will likely be the last time they do. And I'm glad they had such lovely teachers. They always seemed genuinely entertained by the kids and I never worried that they weren't being well cared for by these two women.

Edit to add: I have been talking a lot to Boy Howdy about having to go to Kindergarten. This boy does much better when he has a clear understanding of what's coming next and has had adequate time to prepare his expectations. But with all the talk, I guess I failed to stress that between his last day of preschool and his first day of kindergarten is a three-month break called Summer. Tonight (Sunday) during family prayers, he prayed that he would enjoy Kindergarten in the morning, that he wouldn't be so scared and that there would be other kids his age, 5. He hasn't expressed his concerns to Matthew or me, but it has obviously been weighing on his mind. I love this boy. As intense as he can be at times, he still has such a tender little heart. By the way, he was beyond excited when we let him in on the beauty of summer vacation. Hooray!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cheeks is Her Own Little Person

Every day I am struck with the singularity of this little one's personality. The way she flits through life with her own special enthusiasm brings me almost constant joy and amusement. Eating is one such way she often shows her unique flair. Sandwiches are often completely dismantled with peanut butter and jelly scraped out with a finger before the forlorn bread is eventually consumed. Tacos are eaten one topping at a time. 

Breakfast is no exception. On one occasion she took to threading a kebab stick with her tootie fruities. A week later she decided to dump them out onto a napkin and lap them up one by one with her tongue. 

Part of me just wants her to eat her meals without her shenanigans, and parts of me revels in the creativity with which she approaches everything she does.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Cheeks Draws

Cheeks has finally broached the world of non-abstract expression. All of her artwork as yet has been abstract to the extreme. She loves arts and crafts, something her preschool teachers tell me, but it has always been seemingly haphazard work to the outward observer. I have been eagerly awaiting her first forays into recognizable drawings. This morning, I asked her to draw me. Her result was completely endearing. Hooray for cute faces with big eyes, fuzzy hair, thousands of fingers, and ears that hover around the chin area. I think I may have even gotten earrings and a necklace. Ooh la la.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Boy Howdy Turns 5

Oh, how this boy has my heart. He is an intense little boy. If he sets expectations that are then not met, he has the hardest of times recovering from his disappointment. But, when he is happy, he is pure exuberance. His thoughtfulness often amazes me, especially to those whom he loves dearly. He is so smart, is constantly thinking about life and how things work, and is so very curious. He LOVES to be silly, to cuddle and be just like his dad. I love this little boy so much! What joy and life lessons he gives me daily.

Boy Howdy has been planning his birthday since sometime last fall, maybe even before that. He started compiling his Amazon wishlist and looking on Pinterest for what kind of cake he wanted. At first it was chocolate. But then, after Matthew went off chocolate, he decided to change his choice to something in favor of his daddy. 

After several choices, he finally landed on strawberry lemonade cupcakes! Hooray pinterest for inspiring my child to pick something I had absolutely no hesitation making. He was also super particular about how he wanted his candy arranged. Funny boy.

I should say, that true to a child's natural inclination, he and his sister opted to eat only the candy and strawberry frosting, leaving the lemon cupcake (with lemon curd filling) to sit lonely in its wrapper. What tragedy.

On the day of his birthday (Memorial Day) we had hoped to go to our ward's barbecue and then out for a hike. Sadly, a bad cold got the better of all of us, so we tried to make the most of the day at home. Boy Howdy got a joke book, some super hero capes and masks, remote controlled bumper cars, the game Guess Who and a lego set and fold out fire truck car set thingy from either set of grandparents. Since we really couldn't go anywhere we did the best we could with playing with all his new toys, watching the LEGO Batman movie and indulging his every whim for the day. I think he had fun.

The next day, we took two of his friends to a local bounce house place. I brought cupcakes for everyone, and just as Boy Howdy and Cheeks had done the day before, every single child only wanted the top portion of their cupcake. Sigh.

I keep telling him to stop growing, but he refuses. Now that he's five, I'm afraid he is just too big to stay home with me every day. He is just going to have to go to kindergarten since he won't comply with my stay-little request. Oh cute boy. How I adore your little spirit.

Monday, May 22, 2017

I Heart the Coast

We as Oregonians don't go to the beach, we go to the coast. The ocean is really not even a factor of the day, except as lovely ambient noise, given it's FRIGID temperature. And really, the temperature, at least in May, doesn't merit anything but sweaters (except for children who never seem to care). But if it's sunny and at all warmish, we go. Everything about it does my heart and soul good. And what makes it even better are the dear women in my ward who agree to make it a fun playdate. The children play wonderfully together, the mamas chat and everyone gets a day out of the house. I am so glad it is only an hour away from us.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Great Garden Experiment 2017

This is the second year we've had a garden. Last year we learned a few things that we wanted to incorporate into our experiment for this year. Namely, we learned that tomatoes take up A LOT of space and basically need their own box. So I bought another box and we finally had a sunny day to plant. Yay to a second year of growing and reaping where we sowed!

This year we planted, snap peas, pumpkin, cucumber, corn, watermelon, tomatoes, and peppers. I picked a few things and let the kids pick three plants of their own choosing.

This year, as last year, I am grateful we have the means to provide for ourselves so that our garden is a fun experiment and not the means for eating for the summer and into the winter. I'm just not prepared for that work nor that stress. Let the Great Experiment Begin!!

Edit to add: Our watermelon and two-thirds of our peas have already passed on, so I had to replace them with a new watermelon plant and a cantaloupe.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cheeks is Clever

Today I had a doctor's appointment. A GYN appointment. Matthew was gone and my very kind visiting teacher agreed to watch my babies for me. I dropped them off just before 3 and planned to pick them up sometime before dinner. With food coming so shortly for them I ordered them VERY specifically not to inquire after snacks. They were not to ask, not to mention their hunger in ANY way. I allowed them the ability to accept proffered nourishment but not to ask.

When I arrived to pick them up, they had most definitely been eating, and probably had the whole time. When I asked my darling friend if they had asked for food, giving my firm instructions to the contrary, she chuckled and made mention that my daughter's question made much more sense now.

Apparently, some time after I dropped them off, Cheeks turned to her and asked, "Are you planning to offer us snacks?" My friend was taken aback by her wording and showed her the snack drawer to which Cheeks gladly helped herself. When I made my inquiry, it all became clear. Funny girl. She may not know her letters or numbers, but she is a first-rate problem solver. She got what she wanted while still, in her mind, obeying my orders. Heaven help us all.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Courtside Reunion - Chicago 2017

Every time I visit with these ladies I am always surprised at how much I love them. This trip, I was worried about how it was all going to go. Somehow I was unofficially designated to organize it, but it seemed no one wanted to be organized. Flights weren't being booked, people didn't want to commit to an itinerary. I wasn't sure if anyone would actually show up. It didn't help that after a series of setbacks no one was ready to pick me up from the airport and I was left to wait by myself for almost an hour. Not a big deal, but it didn't help my concerns for the weekend. But those were shortly laid to rest as soon as I saw these lovely ladies that do so much to fill my cup. We shopped, got pedicures, went running, saw a play, went out to eat (which included allowing our waitress to order our entire completely yummy meal for us), went on a boat tour of the city, got roped into a street performance which included people jumping over us, sped visited an art museum, went to church, saw my friend's son's baseball game and laughed and loved and renewed souls. I loved my trip and I love these women I have known for almost 20 years. Holy Smokes. 

Outside the Chicago Temple with Lins and Jen.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Disney World 2017

Disney World with a 3 and 4 year old was pretty awesome. They were still small enough that a stroller made sense, which meant a lot less whining about being tired, but they were old enough to be able to do the vast majority of rides Matthew and I wanted to do. We spent a solid amount of time in each park doing fun things, but also got to spend quality time in the pool and laying in bed.

Side note, the suite we stayed in had a bedroom and living room with pull out couch. The kids slept on the pull out couch which every night and morning brought renewed joy as we made the "magic happen" by setting it up and putting it back. Grandpa Marler assured the babes that they have a similar "magic couch" at their house that they can sleep on when they come to visit. Oooh and Aaah.

Back to the parks. Going at the beginning of May was wonderful. Much better than the July that usually accompanies Marler family vacations as it was a touch cooler and less crowded. But what was extra nice this trip was the unforeseen opportunity of doing fun alternative rides with the kids. We don't normally do the Buzz Lightyear ride, the 3-D Muppets show, the Bug's Life show, or countless other attractions at Disney World. Before babies, those didn't even cross our radar, but this time, we availed ourselves of them and we were happily surprised. The kids LOVED it. They often asked if what they were seeing was real and were awesome troopers through it all. 

The first day we got there, Boy Howdy kept saying, "Ooh weee, it's HOT!" And by Thursday, he started complaining that the Florida sun was just too bright! But by and large, the kids did wonderfully. For being 3 and 4, I could not have asked for better children.

Definitely a different experience than what Matthew and I are used to, but probably more fun because of it.

A few pictures:

 Cheeks' and Matthew's score on the Buzz Lightyear ride. I think he quadrupled my score, so we wanted to make sure we captured the honor.

Boy Howdy and I nestled happily in our car.

The children posing as pirates while we waited for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Mother Marler and Cheeks on the Winnie the Pooh ride.

Each day we picked a special treat. Cheeks has long been dreaming of cotton candy so we were happy we could make it finally come true.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Boy Howdy Loves his Friend

Boy Howdy will tell anyone his best friend is Charlotte. She is a sweet girl who's mom is a good friend of mine. Hopefully they will be in the same Kindergarten class this fall, because I am pretty sure it will help his attendance motivation 100 fold. Boy Howdy LOVES this girl. I don't know that he thinks of her romantically, but he loves to make cards for her and, the last time we went to the park, he made a whole box of of cards and flowers to give to her. This boy. And this card (he delivered it to her this evening with the cutest grin on his face through the whole exchange). Be still my heart. In case it's not obvious, the card is a picture of them holding hands under a blue sky holding balloons. I love it. I hope this bodes well for when he gets married.

A week later, Boy Howdy received a card from Charlotte. "Zachary is the Best". He certainly is. But her artwork far outshines his. Like not even on the same level. But the sentiment is the same, and I am glad that 1. She reciprocates his friendship and 2. She will hopefully be in Boy Howdy's class this fall. Oh cute friendships. I try not to think about the crushes I started having at this age. Eeek. I'm pretty sure I had marriage schemes already with the neighbor boy. We'll just hope that this affection is purely platonic . . . for the next 15 years!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Boy Howdy Prays

I don't know what other parent's experiences are with teaching their children to pray, but for us, it's been a bit rocky. Despite our best attempts, they have not caught on to the joy of talking to their Heavenly Father the way we had hoped. But . . . they are making good steps into meaningful prayer. Boy Howdy especially has grown so much in the past month. I love hearing his pleas in behalf of himself and his family. He is so thoughtful in how he prays for his loved ones. And what's better, is that he will often ask the spokesperson for a given prayer to remember specific things in their prayer - to help Cheeks feel better, or that his owies will not hurt anymore. Hearing their sweet voices addressing our Heavenly Father has warmed this mother's heart. I am not as hip to their growing up as I thought I would be, but I do love watching them grow and mature in their understanding of spiritual things.

We are still learning though. e.g. Today, during church, Boy Howdy asked what a testimony was. I explained that a testimony is a statement of what we believe. I mentioned that I believe in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. Boy Howdy said he believed in himself.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Boy Howdy Wants to Grow Up

This afternoon, the kids and I were cuddling on the couch. I was holding my little girl cutie face and her smile just intoxicated me. I can't imagine life without that little smile. I pulled her into my arms and told her that if I held on to her forever she wouldn't grow up. Boy Howdy didn't seem convinced of the idea. She has to grow up. She's going to turn 4 on her next birthday. "Nope, I told him, "if I don't let her go, then she'll stay little forever." Cheeks started squirming in my arms and Boy Howdy cheered his fate of being able to grow up, go to high school and someday be a dad (I'm still not positive that he knows of any other thing to be when he grows up and I am not about to disabuse him of it). Finally I let Cheeks go and caught the Boy in lieu of his sister. "Ha ha ha, now you can't grow up. You have to be my little boy forever," I told him. At first I'm pretty sure his cries were fake, but eventually they became very real. "But I want to go to high school!!" he wailed. With a little more convincing, I eventually let him go.

I signed Boy Howdy up for Kindergarten a few days ago, and while the experience wasn't emotional for me, it was surreal and has started me realizing just how little time I have left with them in this beautiful stage of life before everything changes forever. I'm not ready.

Cheeks sleeping at the bottom of her brother's bed. The night before, she was sleeping on the floor right next to it. I guess she loves him.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunshine Makes Everyone Happy

We have had an especially rainy, dreary winter. I know we've seen the sun in the last couple of months, but I honestly can't remember when. Thursday night I may have had a nervous breakdown PLEADING with Heavenly Father to see the sun. I've been so edgy lately with the children, I was hoping that the weather was mostly to blame, not just me being a jerk of a mother.
The next morning, Friday, started out gloomy but quickly changed to sun. I felt certain a loving Father took pity on his very emotionally fragile daughter. The sun was shining, Matthew caught an early flight home from his business trip to Michigan, we went to a park all together as a family to soak in the almost spring sun. To top it off, Matthew and I walked around downtown Salem in the early evening hours getting the most of the last remaining rays. Wonderful day!! Boy Howdy even got the rare special treat of wearing a short sleeve shirt and his sandals to the park. His cup truly runneth over.

Saturday was rainy, but this morning, we were blessed with more sunshine. We got to walk to church, and Boy Howdy was allowed ANOTHER short-sleeved shirt. He was so excited he even wanted to wear a tie. Now, the tie was about three years too short for him, but he was wearing any tie so we let it go. But it was just too entertaining not to take a picture for the future. (Especially with Cheeks and her funny little expressions)

Yay for milder temperatures, Yay for sunshine and Yay for not feeling quite so edgy.

Wonderful Stage

I know that I am blessed. Right now, at this stage in my motherhood, I am very blessed.
The babes are both in preschool two mornings a week and doesn't start until 9:30 which gives me a perfect amount of alone time without having to wake them up to get it.
They aren't yet at the extracurricular age so we don't spend time running from one activity to another.
They wake up sometime between 7 and 8 and then proceed to spend thirty minutes to an hour cuddling with me in bed while they drink their milk which Matthew has lovingly prepared for them and put on my bedside table. We often don't get out of bed until at least 8 or sometimes 9 in the morning.
They are playing more independently lately, leaving me time to tidy up and/or get other things accomplished.
We have passes to fun places around town and in Portland and the kids are good about not running off making outings much more enjoyable.
I can lie down or take a shower during the middle of the day without worrying that the children are going to run out in the street or tear apart my house.
We have no real schedule yet. We are active, but not busy and I am in love with that. I realize that in a few months when Boy Howdy starts kindergarten in the fall and the bus comes for him at 8:15 this list will basically disintegrate. So I have been relishing this very special time in my children's life for the last 6 months and will continue to do so until September when our lives change forever.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Boy Howdy's First Quilt

Boy Howdy and I were supposed to have a date to a place where children of all ages can go and create art. He was so excited (he's currently going through a very artistically creative period). But then we all got sick this week and I didn't think he was well enough to go out in public. So we stayed home. In the afternoon I showed Cheeks the fabric I bought her for her big-girl bed quilt I am going to make her. Boy Howdy looked genuinely heartbroken when I told him he couldn't help sew it. In a moment of inspiration, he and I went on a date to the basement for his first real sewing experience.
Boy Howdy picked out some material from my stash, cut, pinned, sewed, ironed and quilted his very first quilt - all square foot of it. This boy's enthusiasm was completely endearing and my mother heart melted as he exclaimed again and again that this was "the BEST DAY EVER!"

 I may not be very good at selfies. But my sweet boy is good at smiling!

He got bored with quilting after a couple of minutes, so he let me practice my free hand quilting. We put in his name and the date and some other random doo-dads. I'm curious to see what he thinks of this in twenty years.