Sunday, September 17, 2017

First Day of School - 2017

 As you may know, I have been nervous about school starting, mostly for Boy Howdy. Would he like it? Would he bemoan his fate Every Day the way he did with preschool. Would he cry? Would I cry? Would he be wasted by the end of each day? Those fears were laid to rest this week. The first day of school was all smiles all the way around. No one cried. I was actually surprised at how non-emotional I was given my tears at his kindergarten orientation at the beginning of the summer.

He did great the entire week. I brought him to school Tuesday, but the rest of the week he rode the bus. He was nervous not to have a seat belt (despite my assurances that the driver would surely be safe) but giddy at the very big kid idea of riding the big yellow school bus he has been eyeing for the last few years.

Thursday night he asked when he could get lunch at school. I told him we would get it sorted out so he could eat lunch the next day. I honestly don't think he was thinking his request would be so readily granted. I'm pretty sure I rendered him speechless with joy when I told him he could have lunch at school once a week.

The only emotions that came up were Tuesday as I went and picked him up from school and carried him all the way to the car wrapped in my arms as I smothered him with kisses. His emotion came later at bedtime when he could not stop inexplicably crying. He couldn't identify a reason but neither could he be consoled and kept promising me he wasn't tired. I disagreed.

But after that first day, he has woken up happy and on his own, practically ran to the bus stop each day and been more pleasant than usual to his sister. I won't kid myself that this will last forever but I will take it for as long as I can.

Cheeks was equally as excited to start her second year of preschool. I don't think she is remotely jealous that she doesn't get to go to kindergarten with Boy Howdy. She is excited to have her friend Q in her class this year with her and eager to have something to do with her time. The only problem with her was a bout of naughtiness on Thursday. She has not always been the most obedient of preschoolers, but Thursday was worse than normal, her teachers told me. I'm hoping it was due to a mixture of not getting as much sleep as she's used to now that Boy Howdy wakes up a bit earlier than usual, and she had my mother and father here this past week giving in to her every whim. Hopefully next week we can get into a good rhythm.

 A few joint pictures of the babes. The bottom two are them showing me their silliest of faces.

First day. And so it begins!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summer 2017 - As it Comes to a Close

As this summer starts to close around us and we prepare for school and schedules to start and life to change forever, I am happy with the memories of the summer. Apart from my trip to Michigan with Matthew, we haven't had any big plans to break up the months and yet, they have passed very pleasantly. So what have we done?

We picked strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches and cucumbers.
We went to the beach.
We did crafts and had friends over to play.
We played at my sister's house and stayed home.
We went to parks and rivers and splash pads and pools.
We went to OMSI, the Portland Children's Museum, the Zoo and the Gilbert House.

At the beginning of the summer I made a calendar scheduling out the summer. I was certain, that without it, the summer threatened to overwhelm me with days to somehow fill. With the exception of craft days on Mondays we have not kept to my plan at all, and yet, I have enjoyed this summer with my babies.

Cheeks Celebrates Her Birthday

This sweet little flibberty-gibbet is now a 4-year old. She is still so happy so much of the day. She is constantly walking on her toes and flitting around the house. The only time she is cross is when she has been asked to do something she doesn't want to do, which is generally cleaning or getting her hair brushed. 

She eats, walks, dresses, and loves in a way that is so particular to her own unique and quirky personality. I was thinking the other day about the love languages of my children. Cheeks' is most definitely touch. She is all kisses and hugs. And if she doesn't get her nightly tuck in complete with an extra hug and kiss (despite hopping out of bed as soon as I leave the room) she is totally undone until I come back and remedy the situation. 

I love this little girl. I am excited to have this year to have time with just her. I have no doubt we will use our time well.

 The morning of her birthday we made mini cupcakes, chocolate with peanut butter frosting, with her own cute style of decorating. Boy Howdy was systematic and consistent, Cheeks wanted variety and fun. The cupcakes we took to Buell County Park to share with her friends, but the cake was saved for after presents and dinner later. It was yummy.

Buell County Park is an out of the way park set on a little stream just 20 miles from our house. This was only our second time there, but I think we are hooked. 

Cheeks, I don't think, would have been so eager to leave the park had we not presents to open with daddy as soon as we got home. When I asked her the day before whether she wanted to open her presents in the morning or later on after Matthew got home, she opted to wait. She was perfectly serene about the whole matter, but Boy Howdy was BESIDE himself with anxiety about knowing what was in those boxes - his own gift to her was presented as soon as they woke up.

Still in her bathing suit as soon as we got home, she (along with unsolicited help from her brother) opened her presents. The scooter was a hit. I, myself, am also quite taken with it.

So there we have it. One boy ready to start kindergarten and eager to grow up and one little girl desperate to stay little for as long as possible. I am so thankful for them both.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Cheeks' Birthday Interview

What is your name? Cheeks Marler
How old are you? 4
What is your favorite thing to do? Play legos.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A mermaid. Aack child!!
What is your favorite food? Soup. This is true. Whenever I ask what we should have for dinner, Boy Howdy will say Mac and Cheese, but Cheeks will more than likely say soup.
Who do you like to spend time with? Ginny
What do you do really well? Sports. When pressed, because I wouldn't say sports are really her forte, she clarified with: Climbing.
What makes you laugh? Taking pictures of bottoms. Something she and her brother have recently started. They think they are hysterical.
What is the best time of the day? Birthdays!
What are you afraid of? Monsters ghosts.
Who is your best friend? Ginny
What do you like to do with your family? Watch shows and play Hi-ho Cherrios.
What do you love to learn about? Letters. This feels reminiscent of last year's potty training answer. She should be learning about her letters, but I am a bit dubious that they are where her passion lies.
Where do you like to go? Ginny's house
What is your favorite book? Lollopy Lew the Hare. Which is actually titled Digger and Lew.
What is your favorite show? True and the Rainbow Kingdom. Like her brother, this changes regularly.
What is your favorite movie? Snow White and Finding Nemo. I forgot we own Snow White so I thought she was making Snow White up. She's not. My bad.
If you had one wish what would it be? To be a mermaid. Oh heavens.
What is your favorite thing about turning 4? Going to preschool for one more time.
Is there anything else you'd like to add? The kind of movie I don't like is Monsters versus Aliens and . . . and . . . and . . . I don't know anything else.

My favorite part of doing this interview is that Cheeks would pause a lot to think through how she was going to answer. (It wasn't always apparent it was well thought out given some of her more enigmatic answers.) When I Iet her watch herself she kept trying to fill in her pauses, as if she were saying, "Come on, you can do it, This is your answer!" Hahaha.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Garden Experiment - Results

I feel as though this ear of corn is representative of how our garden fared this summer. So sad. It had so much promise, but out of our 6 sugar snap pea plants, only one survived and yielded a very small handful of peas. Our cucumber plant had one hopeful that shriveled along with the rest of the plant. Our cantelope, watermelon and red bell pepper plants yielded not a thing, our other pepper plant yielded two peppers of decent size and edibility. Our pumpkin plant wended its way through our yard and into our neighbors, but with all it's greenery we have only one pumpkin that I'm pretty sure is slowly getting eaten by the mice burrowing holes in our garden. And finally we have tomatoes. Last year, these plants were by far our most productive. This year, even they are struggling. We have a few, but we are still waiting to see if they will make it to ripeness.

Sigh. We've had  plenty of sun, vegetable food, compost, raised bed soil, water. I really thought we'd see more success. I don't know where we went wrong. Thankfully we are not subsisting on our harvest. We'll try again next year.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse 2017

When I think of the total solar eclipse, this is the image that I will always remember. The dark sky with white streams radiating from behind the moon. It truly was breathtaking, totally living up to the hype. I'm 100% positive that if I didn't live within the path of totality I would not have traveled for it. Now that I know just how awe-inspiring it is, I am far more likely to travel to see it the next time. Totally worth it.

We weren't sure what the roads were going to be like since we were being asked to prepare as if it were going to be a natural disaster, so Matthew worked from home on Eclipse day (Boy Howdy kept calling it an eclipment.) I'm so glad he did. It was a fun morning to spend together. For us, the moon started covering the sky just after 9am. 

The evening before we explained to the children that they needed to wear their eclipse glasses. They were very seriously warned that they might go blind if they didn't. 

Thankfully they took this advice to heart because they were very strict about putting them on anytime we checked on the moon's positioning from the very beginning. With a daughter that constantly takes off her 3-D glasses at a movie, I was very impressed with their diligence. Boy Howdy kept asking Cheeks if she wanted to go blind.

The first thing I noticed was just how yellowy dark it was getting. So eerie and surreal. At one point I told Boy Howdy that it was almost time for bed. "Aaah Mom!! Can't we just a few more minutes??!?" Poor boy. After a few minutes laughing at my own little joke, I reassured him that we had just barely had breakfast, he didn't have to go to bed anytime soon.

Within just a few seconds it went from dusk to complete darkness and the real show began. I was blown away. The neighborhood erupted in cheers. It was as though heaven were showing off in the most wondrous of ways. And then as soon as the sun peeked out just the tiniest of amounts we were once again bathed in morning sunshine. It was actually quite astonishing just how little sun is required to light the world. Such a lovely metaphor for the Christ as the Light of the World and letting our own light shine.

Thank you Heaven for putting on such a brilliant celestial show! Definitely the best of the my life to date!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Anniversary Trip

Matthew has to travel to Michigan for work every other month for a week. This year, his trip coincided with our 11-year anniversary. But this time he needed to stay for 10 days. My darling sister, Melissa, gave us 2-weeks of babysitting for Christmas and she and her family were kind enough to let us exercise our present so I could join him for 6 of his 10. 

First off, the babes were OVERJOYED to spend (as they called it) a couple weeks at Aunt Melissa's house. I tried repeatedly to explain that a couple weeks is 14 days and they would only be there for 6, but nothing would deter them or their enthusiasm.

Secondly, Matthew was working during the day giving me some much needed alone time to exercise or sleep or shower or wander around the city. I LOVED my alone time. But I also loved my time with my husband. We celebrated 11 blissful years together, we went to the movies in the middle of the day (never before have I seen a movie in such comfy conditions - they may have made me sleepy!), we spent a day tooling around lake shore towns, we visited my dear college friend, enjoyed time just the two of us, and ate lots of yummy food. 

Thirdly, I left early Wednesday morning, and by Sunday night I was still not missing my babies. I was thinking, I could do this alone thing all the time. Why do I have to go home? The next day I got on a flight still not sure I was ready to be a mom yet. My sweet niece Emmalee kindly brought my children home and put them to bed so I wouldn't have to go pick them up. When they ran into my room the next morning I was overcome with excitement to see them. I DO want to be a mom. I AM grateful to spend my days with them. And coming home, I was a kinder, happier mother.

A few days later, Matthew joined us and Friday we went to the pool as a family. They were so excited to go to the pool, but to have their dad with them too was just beyond joy for them. I love my little family, and I am so grateful to my sister and her family that made me remember just how much.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

10 Miles - Check

At the beginning of the year, I made a goal, one I felt inspired of Heavenly Father to set. The goal was to run 10 miles at one time. I hate running. I ran cross country and long-distance track my freshman year, not because I enjoyed it, but because I was bored for the first one and didn't have any friends for the second (we moved half way through my freshman year). 

During Track, I did make friends, and life became a little less dismal, but I LOST every single race that season. It is not super exciting to have people in the stands watching you lose for 8 laps. There's nowhere to hide. And for 8 laps I had people futily trying to encourage me. Those kind words may have been helpful for some, but for me, it just added to the discouragement. So after that season, except when it came to workout runs for soccer practice, I gave up running.

I ran a few more times in college, including one peer pressured 5K, and a few times later, but as much as I want to enjoy running, it has NEVER been my happy place.

Fast forward a lot of years and I notice weight going on and NOT coming off. We purchased a very little treadmill so I could walk. I never had any intention of running, I enjoy walking. But slowly, I began walking a little faster. And by the end of 2016 I was running a couple of miles very slowly. I still had a few pounds I wanted to lose (especially after a Christmas holiday of eating most of the desserts all by myself - Matthew's family isn't big on them) but I really really didn't want to diet. Blegh. 

So as I was making up my list of goals for the new year I felt like a 10 mile goal was a good one. Something that would definitely stretch me, but wouldn't kill me. Also, it felt like a healthier goal to focus on than losing weight.

I found a half marathon training schedule and adapted it so that it would take the year instead of 3 months. But by July I was getting BORED. So I decided to ramp the schedule and finish early - Saturday, July 29th.

I had been running solely on my treadmill, since it was the easiest to do with young children, but for my last 10-mile run I wanted to do it outside. I didn't want to ask anyone to do it with me because I am still REALLY slow but after mentioning it to two wonderful women, they wanted to crash my party. I am so glad they did. I'm pretty sure there is no way I would have run the entire way without them. They chatted while I huffed and puffed, they never made me feel less than for being so slow, and they never tried to cheer me on like those from my high school horror days. They are my angels and I am forever grateful the Spirit suggested I bring it up to them.

So now that I am done with my goal, my new goal for the rest of the year is to run 15 miles per week. You may be asking the question, do you enjoy running now? Do you think you'll ever do a half or full marathon? No and no. But . . . I do appreciate my body in a way I never did before. It can do hard things. Things it's NEVER done before, not even in my fit teenage years. I may be twice as slow as I was in high school, but I ran 5 times farther than I ever did in high school and that is a big accomplishment for me.

The other question you might be wanting to ask - have you lost any weight? A little. But no matter what the scale says, my body image has greatly improved, even if no one else notices. So did I enjoy running 10 miles? Nope, I almost died for 2 hours. It wasn't really fun at all. But was I right in thinking it was a healthier goal than just losing weight? ABSOLUTELY!! I am so thankful for the growth I have seen in myself. And I'm thankful my children see me putting my health as a priority.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Dreaded and Pretty Adorable Childhood "th"

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way my babies can't say "th". Every day I get "someping" instead of something, "free" instead of three, "fawder" instead of father and "muver" instead of mother, "moobie" instead of movie. And while we are on the subject of mispronunciation, I also LOVE that they say "winned" instead of won.

The poor grammar and mispronunciation. I already miss the day they when I their little voices get older. I guess the one solace is that after they figure out "th" at least I get a few years of poor spelling to look forward.

Wow, I really thought this would have been a longer post. But suffice it to say that despite the sass and whining, there is still so much to adore about this age.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Nichole Visits

This past week, my sister Nichole came to Oregon for a visit with her husband, son, step-daughter and grandson. She stayed with our sister in Dallas, Oregon and the kids and I got to play with them for the week while Matthew was gone. It was WONDERFUL. Absolutely wonderful.

We played at the park, went to the beach, hung out at Melissa's house, went to the zoo, had a big family Sunday dinner and had a sister's adventure. With Matthew gone, we had no reason to go home, so we had dinner almost every day at Melissa's. I gave the kids the choice every day to play with their cousins, to stay for dinner, or to go home and watch shows. By Friday I was kind of hoping they would choose the latter, but they ALWAYS chose their cousins. What a lovely way to spend a week.
Beach day and Zoo day

But the best, was our sisters' adventure! Tuesday, Matthew graciously came home after lunch so I could spend the afternoon and evening with my sisters. We met up in Portland and did the 4T trail which consisted of a 3-mile Trail (that went from the zoo to OHSU), the Tram (from OHSU to the bottom of the hill), the Trolley (taking us into downtown Portland for a very yummy Indian dinner), and the Train (from downtown back to the zoo).

We didn't start the hike portion of the adventure until 3:30 or so on a very warm day in Portland. It didn't help that the beginning of the trail was pretty steep uphill. Nichole was certain she was going to die at some point so she brought her ID to help the police alert her husband of her sudden demise. It became the joke of the day. Thankfully after the initial segment, the rest of the trail was mostly shaded and not as extreme. We talked, we laughed, we sweated a ton, and no one died! A perfect adventure for these sisters.

I ended the night EXHAUSTED but so thankful I have these three wonderful sisters whom I love and adore. I am sad Nichole doesn't live close by but I am grateful that her visit prompted such fun gatherings.

Thank you parents for being willing to bring so many children into this world. They mean everything to me.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer Crafts

None of the summer crafts I had planned were palatable to the children but they have picked out some entertaining ones of their own.

Snowman bowling pin cups.

Bug headbands.

Fireflies (complete with tea lights to make them glow)

I really loved watching them cut out their supplies and love on their crafts. They were by no means perfect, but they were their own and that was enough. I loved it.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

July 4th

Our 2017 Fourth of July started with the annual church breakfast complete with children's parade. Last year we didn't bring anything. This year at least we had Cheeks' car and Boy Howdy's balance bike. Boy Howdy did great, but Cheeks needed almost constant help with her car. One kind boy helped her a couple of times around the church and then she conned some other father to help her. Maybe next year she'll graduate to something more parade friendly. And perhaps her mother will stop being so lazy and decorate their rides. It was highly entertaining all the same.

Later on in the day, Matthew's brother and sister-in-law joined us for sparklers and a barbecue. It was the babes' first experience with anything firework related (at least at close range). They were excited - Matthew, less so.

We had to use grill to light the sparklers. Our lighter and matches were proving useless.

After the first 3 or 4 sparklers (we had lots) the children took to trying to let the rogue blackberry bushes on fire. Considering we were trying to get rid of them anyway, I did little to dissuade them from their purpose. Thankfully no brush fire was started.

Matthew is determined to buy the good stuff next year. And perhaps some year I can persuade Matthew to keep the kids out late enough to see the good fireworks (right now I am not prepared to keep them out until 11pm+).

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!