Sunday, August 31, 2008

On My Own

Since Wednesday night I have been trying to play the role of mom and dad; something that I am not great at. I am pretty good at being mom until about 6 pm and then we are all ready for dad to come home. So what happens when dad is gone for several days and 6 pm roles around...a bit of craziness, stress, quick dinners, and early bedtimes.

Every year Birch relishes in planning, preparing, and going on his annual All-Brothers-Hike (it even has an acronym "ABH"). Each year the brothers try to out do themselves in cool gear, though I think Birch has lost that award for a few years now. This year he is the proud new owner of a plastic $2.00 pooper shovel. I'm sure his brothers were all drooling over his shovel and might have even tried to sneak it from his pack at night. They all hike in memory of their dad who was a true mountain man and passed away almost eight years ago.

Planning for the hike begins during the previous year's hike. Normally one of the brothers kind of takes charge with planning the hike after they all agree on a location. Then watch out...some years they have had t-shirts printed or special hymn books printed or vinyl lettering of their logo (yes, they have a logo) added to their nalgene bottles, but always you can count on an awesome DVD produced by Birch's talented brother, Kelly. These movies are right up there with Star Wars quality (or at least the Ditto family thinks they are). This year Birch got the idea of buying dry-wicking shirts and then having the logo embroidered on the shirt. He was like a little boy planning the whole gift out and couldn't wait to present them to his brothers. This year they will be missing Andrew as he is serving a mission in Mexico right now. They are backpacking in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho.
So how do I feel about this annual adventure? I used to dread it but I am learning to live with it and even try and be happier about its annual arrival. A couple of things have helped me with this paradigm shift--they no longer summit tall scary mountains where ice axes and crampons are needed and the last couple of years they have been able to go during the school year. The thought of losing my beloved Lover to a crevasse is more than I can bear the thought of, plus our life insurance company frowns upon such high adventure trips (you should have seen the smile on my face when the insurance agent told Birch that this policy did not allow such activities.). I figure once I am dead and Birch doesn't need a life insurance policy he is welcome to climb any mountain he wants.

Also, Birch has become very thoughtful over the years at doing secretive things prior to his departure to make his absence less painful for me. This year he left a sweet note sharing his love and also letting me know that he had arranged babysitters to come twice over the following four days. Plus he had flowers delivered one day and then last night he directed me to a gift that he had made--a cd of love songs. I love new music and just the thought that he had made it with me in mind made it extra special.

So how did the rest of us fare? We survived! Unfortunately several kids ended up getting Hand, Foot, Mouth disease so I wasn't able to take advantage of all the babysitting. We did have a fun movie party one night. I had been worried about handling six kids during church today (though Birch had asked a favorite family of ours to sit with us and help out) but since so many of the kids are sick we stayed home from church. Normally I really struggle at night with falling asleep on my own and getting scared but I've found that sleep deprivation does have one advantage--falling asleep isn't hard to do at all. Chloe still has just been getting up twice a night and I can handle that.

I'm not saying Birch wasn't missed; we are all counting down the hours until he arrives home today, but we did survive. Life is so much sweeter when you can share each day with your Lover.

I know Birch has been FLYING HIGH over the past several days but we are so excited to have him home today!
Birch flying high at Bumping Lake - August 2008 Scout Campout

Thursday, August 28, 2008

And the winner is...

Last week I entered a recipe contest with our local newspaper. What do you know...yesterday I flipped open the newspaper and saw this:
What did I win, you might ask? Hum...I think bragging rights. If anyone is wanting my autograph you know how to reach me. These muffins are really quite tasty if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to School...Back to Reality

Yesterday we dove into the 2008-2009 school year. Everyone was excited to put on their new school shirt, see their friends and meet their new teacher.
Alex is a cross walk guard this year and has been especially excited to start that new responsibility. Alex is a fifth grader, Tyler is in second grade, and Alysee is a first grader.
Here is a picture of the three mourners--Nate, Cooper, and Chloe. Nate and Coop kept asking when brothers and sister would be home all day long.
Nate is going to start his first year of preschool next week. He is excited and a little nervous.
Coop is a bit confused at where everyone disappeared to. He thinks going to school sounds great. Unfortunately, this morning it just occurred to me that Coop has "Hand, Foot, Mouth" disease. This would be our third time getting it over the past couple of years. He had a little sore on his lip yesterday and I thought nothing of it. Then this morning Dr. Ditto (that's me) noticed that he has several other sores in his mouth, toes, and hands. He is still pretty chipper despite the discomfort he must be in. I told Nate that he should try and not touch Cooper while he is sick. Bad mistake. I'm sure Nate is already fully exposed and now I have Coop running around the house trying to touch Nate and Nate hollering for Coop to stay away from him. If only it were possible to keep a sickness isolated to one child. I'm hoping somehow that Chloe will be spared.
Chloe's first time touching the grass; she didn't like it.
Not the cutest picture of Chloe but the outfit was just so cute on her. Not only was it Chloe's first time touching grass but it was also her first time wearing a sweater, socks, and hat. Chloe is smiling so much more and has really become quite the talker when in a good mood. I've noticed an increase in slobber this past week too (note: the slobber drip on her shirt). She is sleeping better at night. We've started giving her a bottle of formula around 10 pm and then she will normally sleep until around 2 am (twice she even slept until 4 am). Then she is usually up around 6 am and sometimes will go back to sleep after she nurses and other times she is up for several hours.

I used to collect quotes in my younger single years : ) A quote that I wrote down many years ago has been in my mind alot recently, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." Nice quote to have weighing in ones mind, I know. Anyway, I think the reason I have been thinking of this quote is because part of me is annoyed with myself over the things I did not get done this summer with the kids. Like all those cool lesson plans. I printed them all off, bought most of the suppplies, told the kids we were going to do them each day, and then -- WAM, BAM--the summer is over and I only did like three days of lessons. Or a book that I started reading to the kids during their daily quiettime. I said to the kids, "I'd like to read you this book that my mom read to me as a little kid." I read two days...the book is only 1/3 read.

So the school year starts will a bit of mixed emotions. I'm ready for it but at the same time I wish I had done better. I'm enjoying the quiet afternoons, cleaning up only a handfull of dishes after lunch, sweeping the floor only once a day, errands with only three kids...but I wonder if I could have done better. Sometimes it just feels like anything I try to do with all the kids is just hard and so I give up (or wait until Birch gets home).

Well, those handfull of dishes are awaiting me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another year older

August is just one party month at our house!!
Birch turned 35 years old this year. His birthday was on a Sunday which we both realized as you get older it isn't quiet as painful. Growing up, Saturday, was always my favorite day to have my birthday so then I didn't have to do my Saturday jobs.
Birch celebrated his special day by enjoying yummy food, opening a few gifts (his favorite was a book on hikes in his area), and then gobbling down turtle sunday waffle cones.
My 33rd birthday fell on a Tuesday this year. Alex surprised me with making lemon poppy seed muffins all by himself and Tyler made toast with peanut butter or jelly for me. They even set the table all nice. The cool fabric "Happy Birthday" sign behind us was hand-made by my very talented mother.
That night we all enjoyed Strawberry Shortcake together and then Birch and I went out to dinner with no kids. It was a wonderful way to finish off the day.
Alysee Grace is now a big six year old. Hard to believe that she will start First Grade tomorrow. Since the day Alysee was born at 5 pounds 8 oz. we knew we would love all each ounce of her. She is a ball of fire; a little bi-polar in temperament. She loves to sing and she loves to play school, church, Vacation Bible School, mom/dad, brother/sister--you name it. She has been wonderful at caring for Chloe when I've asked for her help. She enjoys candy, collecting rolly-pollies, sleeping in late (a rare quality at our house), craft projects and drawing, and riding her bike. The day before Alysee's birthday she had her first friend party. We finally learned our lesson and just had two girls over to help celebrate (Alex's first friend party consisted of 18 wild boys--what were we thinking?). The girls made and decorated foam hula dancers, made their own two layer birthday cakes, and then played a really fun game that Birch came up with--"Try and hit your brother with a water balloon." The girls all loved the challenge and Alex and Tyler were good sports about the game.
The night ended with a family trip to the local semi-professional baseball game. Alysee has ALWAYS wanted to try cotton candy. As a birthday treat she got her very own bag of sticky pink cotton candy. She loved the first three bites and then decided that it is actually quite a disgustingly sweet concoction. It was a great way to end the night!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Partyin' it up with the Dittos

One thing that I love about the Ditto extended family is how much everyone enjoys being together. Everyone makes such an effort to get together several times a year and support each other on life's events or just to have fun. The past four summers we have been able to have a Ditto Family Reunion at Lake Cavanaugh, just north of Seattle. My sister-in-law's family has allowed us to bring our group of 29 adults and children to bask in the sun and water. This year we didn't get to bask in the sun too much but there were still a lot of water activities that went on.

Stand back for an overload of pictures. Birch and I got our hands on an Kelly's (Birch's brother) awesome camera and we just couldn't take enough shots.

Tyler-7.5 years old
Tyler and Birch going tubing
Sara and Chloe enjoying a bit of relaxing time.
Nate-4 years old
Nate and Birch tubing
Nate and Birch on paddle boat. Nate's favorite thing to do was actually ride on the wave runner with Birch. Somehow we didn't get a picture of them together.
As you might have noticed, Nate has a very expressive face. Birch caught this photo when Nate was expressing his concern over the paddles floating away in the water.
Nate loved hot tubbing in his life jacket.
Cooper and Nate on the see-saw
Coop-2 years old
Grannie and Coop playing a game of football.
Chloe-6 weeks oldChloe and her cousin Hailey
Apparently Birch hasn't lost his touch; I was still asleep each morning when he and his brothers would attempt to sneak away from the 19 kids to go waterskiing.
Alysee-almost 6 years old
Alysee spent about seven hours a day in the hot tub--no kidding. She LOVED each minute in the tub and LOVED playing with all her cousins.
Alex-10 years old
Alex became quite proficient at playing Koob. Alex jumping off the dock.
Tubing Alex

Can't wait until the next Ditto gathering!

Chloe's Special Day

One of the things that we did while at Lake Cavanaugh was give Chloe a blessing. In our church a newborn is often given a special blessing by her daddy (if he is a priesthood holder) that then makes the baby's name "official" on the Church's records and even more special it is a time that the baby can receive special blessings for her/his life. Normally this would take place at church but because we were going to see so much family at our reunion we decided to give Chloe her blessing at the Lake.

Sunday morning, August 3rd we gathered the family together and had a special little service. We all sang "Here we are together" and then Grannie talked about the importance of "FAMILY." Birch shared a bit about the significance of Chloe's name and then all of Birch's brothers (minus Vaughn and Andrew) were able to be apart of the blessing.
Some of Chloe's cousins and siblings participating in Grannie's lesson about the importance of the "FAMILY" unit.

Ruth Wilcox Harvey was born in Cardston, Alberta on December 7, 1901. She is Chloe's Great Great Grandma. It was written in her obituary that “(Ruth was) an active member of the LDS Church and especially enjoyed the Relief Society and singing in the choir.” Birch's grandma, Rose Harvey remembers Ruth as "a strong woman, and always stood up for right and truth. She was dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ and taught her children well.” Sounds like a great name to live up to!!
Proud Parents
Daddy and daughter, Chloe
Brent, Birch, Kelly, and Logan all participated in the blessing.

I decided to get a different dress for Chloe to wear for her blessing than the one Alysee wore. I found this antique looking dress on ebay for $5.00. The price couldn't help but have the dress grow on me.

Here's a little photoshoot of Chloe:

Love this girl!
I'm hungry!
This dress is so darn long.
My super duper talented friend, Kim, did a little photoshoping to some of our favorite shots. Love this watercolor one!
Put your's hands up...
Are you coming to get me or not?
Beautiful baby- I made Chloe's bracelet special for this day.
I'm so tired!
Mom's always painting my cute little toesies.Strong neck
Mom's always kissing me!