Friday, May 22, 2020

The Everyday

I wish I could say that my insomnia was getting better,
but that would definitely not be the case.
I am usually hesitant to do anything but lay in bed or on the couch because I don't want to entirely give up on the notion of sleep,
but today trying to sleep just got too frustrating.
So instead I'm doing a big blog catch-up.
Enjoy this photo dump from the past few weeks.

The birds keep me company in the early morning hours. Every day, around 4:30 or 5:00, there are a couple of very loud birds that start chirping constantly right outside the window. One of them sounds very much like a car alarm. Seeing the beautiful cardinals, blue birds, robins, and other birds flying around the trees around our house is one of my favorite things! But I must say, I'm not quite so appreciative at 4:30 in the morning.

I got a popsicle maker and we've been having fun trying out some different kinds of homemade popsicles.

It has been such a cold, rainy Spring! I'm just starting to stop wearing long-sleeved shirts, which is a big change from last year. The rain and our sad backyard situation have created such a quagmire that instead we have been enjoying a lot of driveway time with basketball, scootering and biking, sidewalk chalk, a water balloon fight, and more.

On other days, the backyard is dry enough to enjoy it, dirt patches and all.
We have a line-up of rubber boots outside to help with the constant mud, and Benson has learned to be pretty diligent about putting boots on when he goes out to play. One morning I woke up and all the boys were already playing outside. Benson tromping around in his pjs and rubber boots was just about more than I could handle.

And then someone accidentally shut him outside. "Moooommmm!"

Did you know Panera has bagel Tuesdays? It's only $6.99 for 13 of their enormous, delicious bagels! One morning we picked some up and headed over to the soccer fields near our house to have a breakfast picnic and let Wesley mess around with his boomerang. The boys were looking rather ragtag, but watching them run around the big fields together was a breath of fresh air. We miss the playgrounds!

Another day, we went to a park on the other side of town to walk around the lake. We skipped rocks, blew dandelions, and watched turtles. Talmage found a small dead turtle floating in the water (poor tender-hearted Lincoln was heartbroken!). The boys used a stick to pull it up onto the grass and put it in a small divet in the ground and covered it with leaves and sticks to make it a burial mound.

I've been pretty hit-and-miss with school, depending on what I feel up to each day. The boys do their math and assigned reading pretty much every day, but science, history, and supplementary activities like music and art are often skipped over. Even with my lack of consistency, we've managed to do some pretty cool learning activities.
Lincoln made this Civil War diorama after reading a biography about Clara Barton (see the Red Cross tent?). He had SO much fun doing this and was so pleased with the outcome.

We made an orange into an olive oil lamp, and we were all pretty fascinated by it.

The most intriguing project we've done so far is mummifying a chicken as part of our unit on the ancient Egyptians. The Story of the World is seriously the coolest history curriculum! I can't thank my sister enough for recommending it. We cleaned this raw chicken with rubbing alcohol and we keep it covered in a mixture of salt, baking soda, and baking powder, swapping out the mixture every so often when it becomes wet. Gradually it is drawing all the moisture out of the chicken and after 6 weeks it will supposedly be mummified, after which we will wrap it in cloth strips (and then dispose of it because even if it's truly mummified I just can't handle having a chicken mummy in the house for long). Talmage named him "King Cluck" after "King Tut," and it has been quite the fascinating process.

Some of the books I've assigned the boys that they've enjoyed:
-Swiss Family Robinson (the original version--Talmage and Wesley)
-The Secret Garden (Talmage)
-Farmer Boy (Lincoln)
-Clara Barton (Lincoln)
-Winnie-the-Pooh (the original version--Lincoln)
-Ginger Pye (Wesley)
-Time Cat (Wesley)
-Our Town (Talmage)
-The Story of My Life (Helen Keller's autobiography--Talmage)
-Snow Treasure (Wesley)


Most Saturdays we try to go on a family bike ride. We finally ordered our bike rack for our car, and we are so excited about it! Unfortunately, it was backordered until July but in the meantime we load the bikes inside our old minivan and load the kids into the other and Sam and I both drive to a path. There are so many beautiful bike paths around Memphis and exploring them together is one of our favorite things to do.

Sam ministers to a widow in our ward, and it was her birthday. We picked up some take-out to take her dinner and the boys made her cards. When she came to the door, the boys were all hanging out the windows of the car shouting "Happy Birthday" and going ballistic. How could you not be cheered by the sight of all these faces? :)

Costumes are probably the most-played-with toys at our house. I love seeing the boys' creativity in their play together. They had some game going on recently in which Wesley was a wizard and my wearable blanket made the perfect wizard robe for him!

When we were driving away from the doctor's office after our ultrasound, I was SQUEALING with delight over the family of geese we saw crossing the road in front of us. There was a mom, a dad, and SIX little goslings waddling along--how perfect is that?? The picture quality was poor from the car, but if you look closely there are two little goslings hiding behind two others for a total of six. It was the perfect follow-up to our appointment to see our sixth little one.

I told Sam that he didn't need to cook me a nice dinner for Mother's Day. Cereal is one of my favorite meals anyway, the boys all love it, and I know it's always a big sacrifice for him to spend hours in the kitchen making dinner. He took me at my word, but he made it a very special cereal-filled day. I walked out of the bedroom in the morning to see about a dozen boxes of different fun cereals (including a bunch of sugar cereals we never buy) on the table along with a beautiful bouquet of roses. We ate cereal for all three meals! He cut a bunch of hearts out of paper, and he and the boys wrote me notes on all of them and hid them around the house for me to find. And he gave me the softest minky blanket that I was just sure would cure my insomnia. Too bad I was wrong, but at least it provides a lot of comfort during the long nighttime hours!

Benson and I spend a lot of time in his room as he does puzzles. All my kids have just LOVED puzzles at this age!

I finally made a get-along jar to use when the kids are fighting. It is filled with slips of paper with scripture references on them about love. The idea is that when an argument breaks out, I tell both boys to draw out a slip of paper, look up the scripture, and explain how they can apply it to the current situation. The idea is to
1) teach instead of scold
2) familiarize them with important scriptures about love and charity, and
3) diffuse tempers through distraction.
But surprisingly, after so much time being stuck home together, the boys have started getting along really well and we haven't used the jar yet. I keep finding cute scenes like this. There are occasional disagreements too, but they have been less frequent than I thought.

They are still exploding with creativity. Talmage LOVES inventing and is constantly cutting, taping, stapling, and creating new things to entertain his brothers. He made these paper bunny slippers for Wesley one day.
 Lately the big thing has been a card collecting game he invented called "Dead Moon." He has invented dozens of characters and made cards for them. Then he hides the cards around the house and sends Wesley, Lincoln, and Maxwell off to find them, in an attempt to make the distribution of the cards fair. There are real rules, points, and abilities involved with the game, so Wesley and Lincoln have actually spent hours playing it together. There were also a couple of days when Benson's room was covered with an enormous set-up of castles (using Benson's wooden castle blocks), catapults (which they made a year and a half ago with my dad while visiting Utah), action figures, scenery drawn on paper, and other invented props. They had so much fun battling with each other's set up and launching the catapults. Blanket forts covered a couple of rooms for a day or two as well.

I love laying in the hammock, reading stories to Maxwell and Benson.

Sometimes we get the quarantine blues, too. This picture of Benson pretty much sums it up.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

IT'S A GIRL!!!


Baby #6 is a GIRL, and we are so shocked and excited!!
I made my mind up long ago that if we decided to have another baby, it would be because we wanted 6 kids, not because we were "trying for a girl."
And I had been mentally preparing myself for months to be excited about having another boy, even though it could very well mean I would never have a daughter.
Heading to the ultrasound, I fully expected it to be a boy, and I was 100% happy with that.
I guess I was so fully prepared to have another boy that when the image showed up on the screen I automatically thought I saw boy parts (although when I watched the video over again it is clear that it's a girl!), so when the ultrasound tech said, "Guess what?" I said, "6 boys!" to which she replied, "No, dear...it is 5000% a girl."
Sam and I both started laughing and I was totally in shock for the remainder of the appointment.
We feel like first time parents again--how do we prepare for a girl??
I am itching to go shopping and my brain is going a million miles a minute imagining the fun, girly experiences we will have together as a mother and daughter.
I have LOVED having my boys just as much, but this just opens the door to additional wonderful experiences that I had assumed would never be a part of my mothering.

After we picked up the boys from my friend's house, we told them the news in the car.
Their reactions illustrate so many aspects of their personalities!
Talmage was shocked and ecstatic (he has wanted a sister for a long time and I think he never felt like our family was quite complete without a girl--when we got home he hugged me for about a solid minute).
Wesley was preoccupied by something else he was doing and was just quietly happy, mellow, and unsurprised (when we got home he contentedly said, "I'm so glad we're having another baby...and that it's a girl").
Lincoln seemed happy enough but claimed he wasn't excited and later that evening he prayed that they wouldn't trip over the baby when she was born. And, "At least now you'll have someone that's your gender to play with!" cracks me up every time.
Maxwell was in the spaced-out zone he always gets into when he is eating fruit leather and hid his face when we started gushing at him, although he has been wanting the baby to be a sister.
Benson had seen a rooster and was thus crowing realistically during the entire video besides his enthusiastic, "YEAH!!"
Oh, how I love these boys!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Benson at Age 2


First off, when did my 2-year-old morph into a Kindergartner?
He looks so grown-up in these pictures, and that makes me happy and sad simultaneously.


A few tidbits to remember about Benson at age 2:

-He gives the best compliments! He is genuinely thrilled when his family members do a cool trick or show kindness and will gush in the most enthusiastic way, "Good JOB, Maxwell!!!" (or whoever he is directing his enthusiasm toward).

-He is somehow naturally super polite. He says "please," "thank you," "sorry," etc. very regularly without being prompted and almost always remembers to ask nicely for what he wants. And if I cough or sneeze he will turn around in concern and ask, "Okay, Mom? Okay?"


-He loves to sing and can sing multiple Primary songs all the way through. Sometimes he even does a hilarious fake vibrato. He loves music and dancing so much and if he is sad turning on music can almost always cheer him up.

-He LOVES construction vehicles, bubbles, playing with water, being outside, going on bike rides, reading books, doing puzzles, and doing whatever his brothers are doing. My mom sent him a bubble blower for his birthday and you can see his enthusiasm for it in some of these pictures! That is true joy, right there.


-Speaking of being sad, he finally emerged from his super-sad, crying for several hours per day phase and he is now one of the most cheerful little people I can imagine. He loves life and has such enthusiasm for little things.

-He makes very realistic animal sounds that crack us up.

-I often call him "Bensy-boy," so he has taken to adding "-boy" after everyone else's names as well when addressing them. It's so cute I don't bother correcting him when he calls me, "Mommy-boy."


-He is basically potty training himself--crazy because potty training has not been the smoothest process in the world in our family thus far! Although I have been reluctant to start potty training yet, he has taken it upon himself and will frequently tell me he needs to go potty and then do it with no trouble whatsoever. The other day I was having a rough morning from a pregnancy standpoint and I was laying down, half-asleep, when Maxwell burst into the playroom where I was laying down and said, "Come see what's on the toilet!!!" Benson had told me he needed to go potty, but I just sleepily said, "Okay, just go in your diaper." Well, judging from Benson's report, Maxwell's report, and the disaster that awaited me in the bathroom, Benson had started to make a messy diaper, then took off his clothes and diaper and climbed up on the toilet and finished the job there. So crazy! Hopefully this means it will be smooth sailing when I finally actually take the plunge...which should probably be soon.


-If he hits or otherwise hurts someone, he gets extremely sad and remorseful. The other day he hit Maxwell hard in the head with a wooden toy elephant, and Maxwell started sobbing in pain. Benson almost immediately started sobbing with guilt and remorse, so then I had two screaming boys to comfort--it's difficult to discipline Benson when he is already so sad about what he did! This is a typical scenario at our house.

-If you ask him to do something to help, his typical response is "Okay! I will!!" He loves helping.

-He is CRAZY about baby anything and starts making the goofiest little squeaky noises of adoration when he sees a baby animal or human. If it is on the computer, he will even try to take the baby out of the computer to hold it himself. I can't wait to see his response to our new baby this Fall!


-He and Maxwell have the cutest relationship and love playing together and hugging each other all the time. They just adore each other. Yesterday we went on a bike ride and the two of them were in the bike trailer cuddled up, hugging each other, for a good chunk of time. They also bicker and squabble, but they are definitely best buds.

-He is still a mega-Daddy's boy, but he tolerates me, too when Daddy is not around. I love his cuddles, his kisses, and his dimples that appear when he smiles his biggest!


Happy 2 years, Bensy-boy!
You are surely adored!
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