Thursday, August 27, 2015

New Phase of Life

Once upon a time, I remember having a conversation with my older sister Andrea. I was saying that being a mom of babies is hard. Not because babies are hard. Or that working and having babies was particularly hard. Or even that all those hard things--sleepless nights, mischievous disasters, teething, nursing, sicknesses---were hard. I mean, they weren't easy, but they weren't crushingly-I-can't-handle-this hard. But somehow, it was still hard. I was trying to explain my feelings to my sister. She instantly understood. 

Being a mom of really young kids is lonely. Even when you have lots of friends and family around. You don't want to mess up schedules. You don't want to be out too late. You have to be pretty on top of feeding schedules. Your life can't always bend to a social calendar. Even when you are trying to spend time with other young moms like yourself, who are doing the exact same thing. And then, your BABIES. You love them. You kiss them. You feel the biggest emotions of love for them. But...they don't have conversations with you--at least not conversations where you can have any sort of real outlet. 

My sister sagely said that it would get better in a couple of years. YEARS?!?! But I wanted to fix it right then! So, of course, you do what everyone else does. Find a few little outlets in church, plan a few girls night outs, have some playgroups---anything to try and feel like you are socializing amidst the constant clamor of noisy babies. 

I feel like I'm moving on from that. Not entirely, of course. Playgroup is still not some book club or philosophical discussion. It's still getting in a few sentences of conversation around lots of child care and sharing lessons. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, in a way, I guess. Not that this is something I ever wanted to get out of as fast as possible. It's not some major disaster I had to immediate alleviate. It was just a tugging, that was sometimes satiated better than others.

This year I started Joy School. Seeing Ruth act so grown up with her friends and seeing the kind of curriculum she can grasp--it is amazing. She starts Kindergarten next year. I will be dropping her off and coming home to...babies (so maybe this phase doesn't really ever end, haha?) and having pretty big conversations with her every day. 

I am also currently teaching a ton of piano lessons. I have been talking with moms back and forth all week long. And I'm in the primary presidency now. I spent an entire hour on Tuesday night having real conversations with people (again, over the heads of my children, heh). 

It might not make real logical sense in a printed format sort of a way, but I feel like I am moving away from those quiet, lonely first years of motherhood. Maybe it's because I've thrown caution to the wind and I call people up for playgroups and parties whenever I feel like it? Or maybe it really is that my little babies are starting to not all be little babies anymore. 

I makes me quite sad, actually. Today my day was full. Yesterday my day was full. And I'm talking, wake up and start running at 6am and have no breathing space until 10pm and can't even fit a quick trip to the store for milk, type of full days. Babies slow you down from that. You don't have daily activities with babies that you are running to and fro from. But this year, we do have quite a few activities and I feel invigorated and I am loving it so far. 

So thank you, to those sweet, sweet baby stages of motherhood infancy that were quiet and serene and all nestled in the beauty of home. Even if another baby comes along, I don't think it will ever quite be like that again. I'll have older kids to take to school. Activities to get them to. I will miss those days. Those days of loneliness that I personally grew from, but especially my heart grew from. My motherhood sprouted there.

I have to say though, boy am I excited for all these big learning stages ahead! I worried about financially investing in Joy School just in case I was not quite up to the task of enjoying those preschoolers. But if it keeps up like this--it's going to be a highlight of this stage of life, for sure! And hopefully I can learn to soak in those crazy twilight days of toddlerhood before we move on to kid-hood (thats totally a thing), and continue in this crazy motherhood growth experience. And, so I've heard, when other babies come along, those baby moments will be that much sweeter because of the knowledge of how quickly it goes. Not that we didn't always know that, but we'll have a big ol' kid around to remind us of just how quickly. 

Gosh I love my kids. And I am SOOO happy I get to stay home with them, through all of it.

Now, Joy School. The first month of lessons (twice a week for two hours) are all in finding joy in everything our bodies can do--the senses, the movement, etc. Today we sang songs, put together puzzles, colored self-portraits, did action poems, read books from the library list, and answered questions about our bodies. Luckily, I had a redhead, blonde, and myself to easily show personal differences, haha :). Ruth ATE UP the songs and the actions. Maybe we've lived around Latin culture long enough--but those hips sure know how to 'bend'! The girls were in heaven, and Will actually stayed really entertained as well. It was so much fun.

I have really big hopes for joy school. I felt really inspired from this blogger's post
I started reading her blog on a recommendation from my sister when I was struggling with Ruthie and some of her strong willed-ness(? ha!). Then I bought the blogger's parents' parenting books. Five of them. And read them all. While it didn't wave any magic wands and make me a perfect mother (I wish!) it did give me so many ideas and extra perspectives and I just have really enjoyed all of it. And ever since my sister shared a quote with me about children's values being cemented by the age of 8 (no clue which apostle, I'll get back to ya on that one) I've been extra careful and studying extra hard to see what I can do for my young children. This fit perfectly into some of the ideas I had floating around in my head. I don't come up with ideas like this. But luckily, other people do so I can use them! Also, my mom never did a 'preschool' per say, but we had lots of songs and activities that all of us can remember that helped cement values in our lives--and I am so thankful for that! Janeen Brady's Safety Kids (I can still sing several of those songs word for word), or Standin' Tall---I sing When You Have a Gratitude Attitude to my kids still. (which, by the way, Megan, or Kami, or mom, I need copies of those!!!) There were lots of other things too. So hopefully this can be a tradition for my family that they remember for the rest of their lives and help put their heart in the gospel forever. 
Ruth's pigtails! I die! Hahaahaa.
On an unrelated note:
A quick picture of Ruthie with my old doll. Sweetest thing ever. In an effort to distract Ruth from constantly bothering the REAL baby around our house, I pulled my old doll out of my cedar chest. Ruth is in love. Now Ruth, with this doll, Will, with Ruth's Corolle doll, and Molly with her new water baby doll from her birthday, have been traipsing around the house swaddling, changing, and patting their babies. I have been warned multiple times to be quiet because their babies are sleeping. The doctor kit is also an invaluable parenting tool, apparently. It's the sweetest to see them playing together. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Black Point Marina

First off, a few pictures from swimming around in our pool lately. 
Ruthie used her friend Liam's goggles the other day that have a cover for the nose. She was instantly in love (she ALWAYS holds her nose for everything) and after hearing her for several days, I caved and we got some. She loves them. So did Will, until he lost his somewhere deep in Matheson Hammock today. Oh well. 

It reminded me of this picture of Ruthie three years ago, haha!

Molly loves being in the water, but gets frustrated in our pool because there is no shallow end, and since she is too small for virtually every type of floaty (that she'd be willing to be contained in), she gets bored of the water. Then she roams about making general mischief. 
Like dunking this stroller in our pool. Twice. 
Super Ruthie! 

The Irvin's also have these really fun floaties. They had such a great time in them!
 We are living in the pool right now, or our air conditioning. For some reason I have this 'summer outdoor' bug and I am just dying to play outside. Biking, playing catch, parks, you name it. Then I walk outside and am instantly wet all over from sweat and I feel like my chest is weighed down from humidity, and I remember why we are only swimming right now. Haha. But STILL so much fun!

For some reason I FORGOT about the insane humid heat for a minute and decided to walk out on a marina with my friend Brooke and her kids the other day. It was insanely hot. So much so that we spent the entire time walking back congratulating each other that we were still walking (talk about heat stroke probably) and managing, since all six of our kids had long since melted and we were carrying/pulling three each. Huzzah. 

The whole reason we went is because the other day, while en route to Brooke's house, I saw crazy things on the road. At first I just saw one. It looked like a crab. A giant crab. I thought "That can't be right." and moved on. Only to see another one a block later. Then more. And more. It was crazy. For a second I thought maybe they were massive spiders, but even the banana spiders I've seen aren't quite THAT big. When I got to Brooke's house I asked her "Are there CRABS on old Cutler Bay highway?" Why, yes, yes there are. Miami is so WEIRD. Apparently it's mating season, so we went out on the marina to check it out. But I guess it is still a little early, because we didn't see very much. 
Crab holes. If you got up close you could see their crabby legs poking out. 
That's a hermit crab. Not what we were looking for. I think Brooke said we were looking for blue crabs. Now I can't even remember.
 This walk is DEFINITELY going to have to happen again---when it is twenty degrees cooler. It was GORGEOUS!

The little pathway you take out into the ocean.
Looking at puffer fish. They were actually pretty big!
Look at those poor, sweaty heads. 
If I can forget about the heat, that looks like HEAVEN.

Those white rocks are just so enchanting.

There were lots of fisherman, several of whom biked out with all sorts of gear. It was neat.
I said "Molly, say cheese!" and she gave me a nice little wave.
Such a different looking beach than the swimming ones.
SOOOO pretty! 
SOOO many fisherman!
This is my favorite. I love that little bike.
Brooke occupying all the kids while I snap scenery shots. Haha.

She picked out pants. I warned her it would be hot.
Waving at all the boats heading out for the day. 
At the beginning of the trail, this is what we were walking underneath. Banana spiders the size of my fist. No joke. I had to close my eyes and walk fast and duck down--even though they were ten feet above our heads. The trees lined either side and the webs went across the top, covering us neatly in spider webs. There were at least a hundred of them at the beginning of the trail. I hate banana spiders. But I also hate mosquitoes. Life is tough. 
That wonderful adventure ended in my gps and diaper bag with wallet being stolen. Which has been quite nightmarish, but we're getting through. Bank accounts have been changed, most of my cards have been replaced, etc. etc. Now I just need a drivers license and two more cards and we are good. Sigh. Why do I do things like that?!?! Also--why do we have one van door that doesn't consistently lock?!

On Monday I took my kids in for some quick pictures. At their milestones (newborn, 3 mo, 6 mo, 9 mo, 1 yr, 2 yr, etc.) I take them in and get one 8x10 for myself and 2 5x7s, one for each grandparent. I wait for a coupon and it's usually under ten bucks per kid. Since Ruthie turned four and Molly turned one (and I got one for Ruth at 2 1/2, so I got Will's as well) it was time for new ones! I have to say, it went AWESOME. 
I finally know exactly how to handle the picture situation, and have enough guts (or too little patience) with the photographers to just say exactly what I want. A horizontal 8x10 of them smiling big and close up on their face. Ruth first because she will smile and be done in 2 minutes. Then Will. Then we spend the rest of the time with the baby. And it went exactly like that. We tried and tried and tried with Molly--she was even so HAPPY and giggling and smiling away. But she is SOOO quick! We'd set her on the chair and she'd be standing up before my hand even moved. She'd laugh, but into her chest. The kids would get her to smile with a stuffed animal, but if we snapped it in time, the animal would be in the picture, but if the photographer waited, Molly would have moved her head in another direction. Kudos to the photographer--we were both breathing hard by the end! She was great! And I felt so happy about Ruth and Will's PERFECT pictures that happened in two minutes, I couldn't complain about Molly. I tried to get a couple on the doorstep, but they weren't having it. At least you can see Ruth and Molly's cute matching outfits.

And then it looked like this, so I stopped.
What else is new in my life besides those forty pictures you ask? Because you haven't scrolled down long enough? Well, I am the second counselor in the Primary presidency, of which I am the only native English speaker. Our first counselor is really great at both languages, but our secretary has a pretty strong accent and our president...she actually does a little better than I think she gives herself credit for, but we struggle a bit understanding each other. Also, because this is MIAMI, that one calling means that I am also now honorary primary pianist, Valiant 9 and Valiant 10 Sunday School teacher, assigned to ward council (our president doesn't have a vehicle) and....haahaahaaa. But it's going to be awesome. We had our first meeting tonight and it was so much fun. 
I LOVE the Latin culture, and grow to love it more and more. Our meeting consisted of focus, focus, and then PARTY WITH FOOD. Focus, focus, PARTY WITH FOOD. Haha--somehow I was always assigned juice (in theory) and I am left to wonder about their lack of faith in my cooking abilities. But then again, you won't see me throwing together empanadas anytime soon, so it's probably for the best. 
They also gave me a whole lecture on the Spanish mom culture. "We mother our kids, your kids, everybody's kids!" That was because Molly was sitting on the stool (that is put beside the mic to talk into it) and I was just letting her, and all three of them basically jumped up and the counselor turned to me "Are you a relaxed mama?" and I said "Probably about those kinds of things." she says "We no relaxed mamas, we run around all of the time making sure all the babies is ok." HAHA. 

I started Joy School this week with Ruthie, and I should probably break this into another post, but I'm waiting for Sterling to get home in ten minutes so I can go to bed, so I'm just going to run with it--kind of like this massive run-on sentence. Why Joy School? Mostly because I think Ruth will love it, and I want the opportunity to teach her, one on one, the really important values that we hold so dear in the gospel. I want those important values to be clear and bright right now, as a child, so she has them to build on and grow on for the rest of her life. Also, I always thought preschool would be a fun thing for little 4 year olds, but I am NOT ok with her being gone every single day, for several hours, like the preschools here. PreK 4 is a grade here. I have already been asked twice (school started Monday) about why Ruthie wasn't in school. Because I don't think she should be in a classroom that long! She should be playing and imagining and dressing up and not worrying about other kids and strict schedules. I think I want to raise my children this way because I was raised to believe that play time is important. I always remember my dad saying (he is the dean of education, so this comes with some background) that any advantage preschool gives a child scholastically is washed out by 2nd or 3rd grade and the only true indicator that has been found to show increased grades in children is invested, educated parents who spend time with the child at home. I am finding myself pondering more and more on the prophetic counsels given to us on rearing righteous children and I think Joy School is a great fit for Ruth and I. Lots of songs (we love!) and pre planned out (I love!) and focused time together (which I want!) and a little more engaging for Ruthie as she gets closer to Kindergarten.  We do have one other little girl in our ward who will be joining, which I think will be great and make it so fun for Ruthie!

I also picked up six new piano students this year. Making eleven (possibly twelve) total. I do not get a babysitter for this, but I charge pretty low, so I figure it all works out. The vast majority of them come as siblings, so the sibling not having a lesson plays with my kids and between that and nap time it works out pretty smoothly. But I'm hoping that continues with doubling the numbers. Tomorrow is my first afternoon with five students--wish me luck! 

And for everyone who asked--the gluten free has been going much better than I anticipated. Thanks to a new Aldi's right by our house, which has an AMAZING selection of normal-priced gluten-free foods. Including bread that Sterling will actually eat. Thank you, Aldi's. Sterling feels much, much better, and I'm finding that with him changing his diet, we actually don't have to change our diet here at the house as drastically as I first anticipated. We just found out that our good friends here have experience with gluten-free diets and they have some good tips and recipes, so we're chugging along. 

And we'll end this epistle. Good night!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Jet Plane

I feel like I left and came home on a jet plane--because it was such a quick trip! Sterling held down the fort with Ruth and Will (and our beloved Sister Kellogg, who I couldn't do without) while Molly and I flew to Utah so I could get all my continuing education credits at a BYU Dental Conference.

I haven't flown in forever and I have also never flown with children. I was a little nervous. Molly did ok. Not the greatest, not the worst. Actually, on the flights home she slept quite a bit, so that was awesome! 

We flew in late Thursday night, then I left at 5am to drive to Provo, the conference had a banquet so I was there until 9pm and then crashed at my cousin's house, only to be at the conference at 730am again. I got home around 730pm to Logan and saw my parents for an AMAZING meal of fresh garden food (namely, corn on the cob) and then we all went to bed.

Luckily, I stayed Sunday so I got to see my parents for a TEENSY bit before church (they both have meetings, argh) and then they dropped me off at my MILs and I got to see almost the whole fam there--that was so awesome!---before we left again at 430am. See? Jet trip.

Molly loves cupboards. Grandma said she'd empty out the cupboard beside this one and scoot her bum backwards until she was folded in half inside. Haha.

Nothing like Grandma's cupboards.
I was SOOO SOOO SOOO happy that Bridget and Cade drove over so I could see the twins!!! I held them in the NICU, but then we were sick at the end of our Utah trip and didn't get to see them again. They are getting so big and chubby! And it was so fun to see Bridget and Cade being mom and dad!

This was actually at the very beginning of our flights. She was all about the fries. Actually, the chicken pesto pita was also AMAZING.
On the airplane.

I do have to say though, the corn on the cob made the trip TOTALLY worth it! Hahaa. And the conference was amazing. Because it was an LDS conference, I got to hear a lot of family values emphasized within the realm of dentistry, and that always provides good take-home messages even if I'm not working right now. I also had to give myself a stern talking to when our pediatric dentist lectured for 2 1/2 hours and one point he kept coming back to was the 70% of all childhood caries (cavities) are interpromixal. Which means you have to floss to get that area cleaned. I am really bad for some reason about flossing my kids teeth. You'd think I'd know better, and I do, but now I REALLY do. Haha. I also was happy that I actually do have a lot of retained information floating around in my head, even if I'm not using it! ALSO--I missed my calling in life. I should have been a periodontist. I LOVED being a hygienist at a perio office WAY MORE than at a GP office and when I listened to the perio lecture I was SO EXCITED. I came home and told Sterling I wanted to go to dental school when he got out of med school. But not really, cause I want to get my master's in nutrition. Haha. Anyway. 
The other part I really liked about the conference was all of the networking and listening to people's AMAZING stories of how they got to where they are in life. Going to Poland to school, or living in Hawaii to pay off student debt (working for the gov), and I even meant a female dentist who works on the Blood Indian Reservation right outside of Cardston, AB! HOW CRAZY!?!?! I told her my whole family is from there and it was crazy to think about the stuff she sees in her office! Anyway.
Oh and the other part I really loved was all of the service opportunities that were emphasized. Through BYU they go annually to Tijuana, Guatemala, Asia, South Africa, South America, etc, and the photos and stories are SO amazing! I want to go on a medical mission with Sterling someday SO BAD! Also, also, I am a baby. I seriously could not even LOOK at some of the pictures of children in the third world countries. The stories of even the tiniest things made me tear up. It's a little ridiculous.

All in all, it was a great trip, if way too fast. I missed seeing everyone, but luckily we saw them so recently it wasn't quite as devastating. I love you all and miss you! Thanks to EVERYONE who helped get us around and watched kids and everything! 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Molly is ONE

I have no no no idea how this happened.
My baby is ONE?!?!
I feel like I should be celebrating, but I swear this creeped up on me and if I blink I can still see exactly how she looked at the hospital.

Oh Molly. You cried a lot. And screeched. And you are LOUD. But we wouldn't trade you for anything. I'd keep you just like this forever, if I could. 

She really is such a fun, fun baby right now. First off, WALKING. My first baby to walk before a year old. She took steps at 10 months, multiple steps in a row at the beginning of 11 months, and is  toddling about at exactly one year old.
She folds her arms before anyone else at the dinner table. Or at bedtime. Or at church. This is one of my absolute favorite things. Her little tiny arms wrapped up inside each other as if she knows exactly what is going on.
Molly has a huge sense of humor. She knows just how to push her sibling's buttons and you can tell by her big triumphant smile when she gets just what she wants from them. She also has this low, adorable chuckle when she is proud of herself. I can't get over it.
Molly screeches. In the upper octaves. It's quite a skill, actually. When Ruth and Will are singing along in the van, she joins right in and she doesn't hold back!
She is the belle of the ball. Everyone in the family adores her. Ruth and Will can hardly stand to be near her without touching her, cuddling her, squishing her, and kissing her. We all rub her head when we pass by. We all ask for her open-mouthed kisses and everyone works hard to get her to wave, clap, and laugh.

There is just nothing sweeter than our little miss Molly Fay. We love you to bits and pieces. To accommodate the med school life, we took the party to campus to enjoy the couple of hours break that Sterling had. Besides the 98 degrees and 100% humidity--it was such a great time!
Cupcake with a candle! Yay!
She wouldn't look at the camera because she was too busy watching Ruth and Will be ecstatic.

She loved it! She was so excited that she wasn't very interested in her next presents, oops. Haha!

I thought this would be awesome. Then I forgot batteries. But she liked it later that day!  

Sterling had some classmates walk by that stuck around to play with our kids for over an hour! They were so enchanted by Molly's walking and by our kids in general--so that was a lot of fun.
After playing in the heat all afternoon, we headed home and I took the kids for a quick swim in the pool. Definitely just what we needed. And Molly! She decided in the past few times we've gone that she is a mermaid and goes CRAZY in the water. Splashing, kicking, squealing, trying to jump out of my arms, it's hilarious! She thinks she can swim just like everyone else, haha. We need to figure out a floaty situation for that petite little thing, because I think it will be a LONG time before she fits a puddle jumper. She had a great time though, lucky birthday girl.
Chillaxin'. She ALWAYS sticks her one foot out like that. 
We got batteries! They thought it was the greatest toy ever.

Dancing to the music, haha.
I can't believe she's really one. She is the smartest, tiniest, greatest little person I know. Her laughs and her grins (most recently, this incredibly impish cheeser-smile) and her baby soft sweetness just keeps us falling in love with her over and over again. We love you to pieces, Molly! Happy first birthday!