Monday, August 13, 2018

Another Beginning

Today was the kids' first day back at school.
The summer passed way too fast, but it's kind of nice that they start back up as early as they do because they get 6-7 weeks of holidays throughout the year.
The boys had a great first day back.
Actually, they thought all the administrative stuff was pretty boring
and Wesley's class didn't go out for recess for some unknown reason
(don't get me started on the lack of recess here...I will give you an earful!).

But they like their teachers and they have friends in their classes and we're all set to have another great year.
Lincoln was, naturally, dreading this day.
He misses his brothers so much when they are at school.
But when we were school supply shopping we bought him some new paints (and we got new scissors for Maxwell), so soon after they had gone to school he was at the table, painting away his woes.

We spent most of the day preparing for our Back to School feast we had this evening.
I long for good dining accommodations outside because there is just something magical about eating outdoors,
but this year we settled to have the feast in the dining room.
I covered the dining table with brown paper and scattered new markers and colored pencils all over it and the boys LOVED drawing before and throughout dinner!
They each got to choose a favorite dish to have, so we enjoyed
baked potatoes with the fixin's (Talmage)
lemon broccoli and bowties (Wesley)
scrambled eggs (Lincoln)
multigrain rolls
and homemade root beer (flat, because apparently dry ice is not a thing in Memphis).
For dessert we enjoyed caramel truffle snickerdoodle Smart Cookies.
Smart Cookie used to be located just off the BYU Campus when Sam and I were students, so early on in our relationship we went on a date there.
It's had kind of a nostalgic feel ever since, and we even went back for my birthday a few years ago.
We made our own "smart cookies" for tonight to coincide with the school theme.
The boys had eaten themselves sick with their favorite foods, though, so they could each only handle a couple of bites before they stuffed their leftover dessert into bags and put them in the freezer!

They loved the new books they each got to open,
and we introduced this year's family theme:
Establish a house,
even a house of prayer,
a house of fasting,
a house of faith,
a house of learning,
a house of glory,
a house of order,
a house of God.

We plan to incorporate our theme into our goals and requests in our home throughout the year
to help our home be a holier place.
The celebration was relatively simple,
but the boys were happy, happy, happy about it all
so I felt much the same despite the less-than-beautiful display.

Here's to a new school year!

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Mess I Always Wished For

After the lousy day we had on Sunday,
Monday really wasn't an improvement.
That afternoon I called my sister, basically in tears.
Her oldest is about 2 weeks older than Talmage and she just had her 5th the day after Benson was born, so there are few people who can relate to the situation I'm in quite as well as she can!
The house was a disaster again, mud had been tracked in all over the rug, kids had been fighting, I was the meanest mom, I had just spent hours at Walmart with all 5 boys hunting down school supplies through the masses of people and disorganization, and I was laying on the floor in a cluttered playroom while holding a sleeping baby. Needless to say, I was struggling to find the joy in the craziness.
"How do you not go insane??" I asked her.
"I feel like I used to spend all my time cooking and cleaning and I was happy with that, but now I just spend all my time putting out fires!"
As usual, our conversation left me laughing at the frustrating moments of motherhood and I hung up feeling loads better.

On Wednesday I was in a much better mental state and I came across this post I had written a while back.
I appreciated reflecting on that friend and her family, and it reminded me of another sweet friend I had in Texas. Each time I would visit her house, it was filled with evidence of happy children playing in creative ways--from blanket forts to paper circus tickets strewn about.
Our kids were still very young at the time, and I remember hoping so wholeheartedly that they would one day play in the same kinds of ways.

Later that afternoon, I walked outside and found 2 boys sitting together on a piano bench, plastic cups littering the ground around them.
Talmage was dressed in a ninja costume and had created multiple contraptions to catch flies.
We had a large swarm of flies buzzing around the backyard, for some reason, and since "they're pests!" Talmage had taken it upon himself to get rid of a few.
He sat holding a paper strip he had taped to a plastic cup which dangled over a cowboy boot that had been filled with ripped up pieces of bread. When a fly would land on the bread, he would carefully lower the cup until he caught it inside and then he would squeeze through the cup to smash the fly and add it to his cup full of corpses.
Nearby, the "landscape bag" trap sat filled with mud, grass, and a piece of bread.
Many flies would buzz inside the bag, and then when a group had collected Talmage would hurriedly zip the bag shut and smash the flies trapped inside.

Altogether the backyard was a horrible mess,
but I smiled to myself
because it was the mess I always wished for.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

We're All in This Together

Here in Tennessee, I get comments just about every single time I go anywhere with all 5 boys.
People are so kind and encouraging
and while I get plenty of "You've got your hands full!"
I also get lots of "You're doing a great job!" "What a darling family!" and "You are so blessed!"

Yesterday was the designated day to drop off school supplies and meet the boys' teachers.
I forgot I had taken the stroller out of the back of the van at home,
so I paraded through the school holding Benson while the other 4 boys trailed along filling the hallway, stopping for drinks, running ahead, pausing behind, and making frequent exclamations.
I juggled everyone in the classrooms, trying to fill out forms and organize supplies while making sure Maxwell didn't pull all the books off the shelves and Benson was calm despite it being time to eat.

I walked into the cafeteria to check out the stations there and a school employee came running up to me, a big smile on her face.
"First of all, do you need help?" she asked. When I mentioned that we were okay she continued, "Would you like me to hold your baby over there while you take care of what you need to do?"
I thanked her but informed her that we were just about to head out.
"Aww...I almost got to hold you!" she cooed to Benson.

The boys stopped at the photo booth on our way out and then Benson squirted potty out the side of his diaper all over the floor and my foot.

I rummaged through my purse and pulled out the baby wipes, bending over to clean up the mess, and then we were on our way.
As we walked out the door, a couple of women were on their way in and they paused, visibly counting my kids and then commenting on the fact that they were all boys!
(Next question from many people: "Are you going to try again for a girl??")
The last woman I passed stood there with her eyes wide saying, "I just...You're...I can't...You just...5 kids...You must be supermom!"
I laughed and said, "You should see the state of my house right now!"
She said, "Who cares?? You have a smile on your face and none of your kids are crying!"

I laughed again and continued on my way, herding kids, changing a diaper, sending Talmage back into the school to grab a forgotten item, and finally making it home to make lunch and confront the mess of the morning.
Altogether, I felt like a frazzled mess.
But the encouragement from my fellow moms left me feeling uplifted and happier in my role,
despite the overall chaos and constant commotion.

Kindness from other moms leaves me feeling all the more determined to encourage others instead of being critical or passing judgment--even mentally.
We're all in this together, moms, right?!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Not My Favorite

Today wasn't my favorite.

Maxwell had a very nasty diaper situation at Church that got all over the place.
The boys were rough playing inside and knocked my new centerpiece off the table, breaking it.
Benson was fussy and wanted to be held when I needed to make dinner and Sam was gone.
Every room of the house was a disaster zone.
Somehow the boys ended up making "brown bubble solution" outside (brown=mud) instead of doing an uplifting Sabbath activity inside, which got them filthy (including Talmage's freshly dry-cleaned pants).
I came out from nursing Benson to find Lincoln hauling dirty rain boots filled with water from the bathroom to the bubble making station (and sloshing lots on the carpet).
Dinner burned.
My right leg hasn't been the same since my pregnancy with Benson and the pain in it flared up badly today.
I had so many interruptions that the rolls weren't finished until we had already finished eating dinner (they became a bedtime snack).
Sam wasn't feeling well.
Maxwell fell and got a scrape and goose egg on his forehead.
Various boys screamed, "OWWWWW!!!!!" all afternoon with about 20 injuries.
Lincoln started shrieking upstairs when he was supposed to be getting pajamas on. I found him stark naked and crying because "I tried to kick Wesley and I hurt my foot!"
I ate too many cookies trying to cope with it all.

I found a good multigrain roll recipe!
I was patient with the boys!
Testimonies at Church were beautiful!
My family loves me!
Boys in bowties are adorable!
The weather was relatively cool for this time of year!
And sleeping each night is a miraculous thing!

Here's to a better day tomorrow.

(Side note: I'm trying REALLY hard to get blogging again. I cherish the experiences I've been able to record in the past and I want to do more!)

Friday, August 3, 2018

Sick Birthday Boy

Today is Maxwell's 2nd birthday.
It's a good thing we celebrated with Sam's mom and sister last week when they were in town
(more on that later!)
because Maxwell has been sick and throwing up the past three days.

The poor boy has alternated between throwing up, seeming perfectly normal, and screaming with fury because I put juice in his sippy cup instead of leaving it in the juice pouch.
Yesterday morning I walked out of the master bathroom to find him lying on a blanket on the floor of our bedroom, fast asleep with a die he had been carrying around clutched tightly in his hand.
Somehow the sight of that little die in his chubby hand just broke my heart.
It only added to his innocence and helplessness.

So sorry your year has started out a bit rough, birthday boy.
Welcome to the terrific twos!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Story of the Velvet Ant

Talmage is a CRAZY bug catcher.
He always has been, from the time we went catching ladybugs when he was a year and a half old.
He has gotten to the point where he can easily catch house flies with his bare hands.
Tennessee has so many exotic-looking bugs, so the bug catching is constant here.

The other day I was making dinner when Wesley came into the house shouting,
"MOM!! We found a velvet ant!!! Just like at the Nature Center!"
Velvet ants are actually a type of ground wasp, nicknamed the "cow killer" because the sting is so painful--one of the top 5 most painful stings of all insects.
They are very distinct with red and black coloring, and a velvet-y covering all over their large ant-like bodies.
And, from what I remembered reading at the Nature Center, they're pretty rare in this area.

So I didn't bat an eye.

I smiled indulgently and widened my eyes while responding, "Oh, cooool!"
And then I went back to what I was doing, not really thinking a velvet ant was in our backyard.

Talmage, however, immediately responded.
"Wow, cool, I'm going to catch it!" he said excitedly, and then he dashed out the door.

Moments later he rushed into the kitchen, holding in his hand a partially sealed ziploc bag with, yes, a REAL velvet ant in it.
It was going nuts, crawling around frantically.
And then I started mentally going nuts.
Because my almost-2-year-old had been standing mere inches from it with bare feet poised to step on it.
(He was already traumatized by the incredibly painful black wasp sting he had gotten a couple of days before.)
And my 8-year-old had just caught it with his pocket knife and stuck it in a ziploc bag.

I took it out onto the back patio and began smashing it...and smashing it...and smashing it...
they have an incredibly strong exoskeleton and the thing just would not die!
Finally it was in pieces and I could relax a little and start looking up velvet ants.

Which led us to discover Coyote Peterson--such fascinating creature shows!
We were on the edges of our seats as we watched him let a velvet ant sting him (he was writhing on the ground...SO grateful it didn't get Maxwell or the other boys!).
Seriously, you ought to check it out.

My one regret from the whole thing is that I only got a picture of the velvet ant after I had smashed it to smithereens.
At least we have a couple of pictures of Talmage in action with a cicada!
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