Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Epitome of Life

It just occurred to me today how often I say the phrase "when you are a mom or dad" to answer my child as to the time frame of when they can do or have something.

Let me give you a few examples:

QUESTION:
  • "When can I have a dog?"
  • "When can you not cut my hair so I can have it long?"
  • "When can I stay up later?"
  • "When can I have more money?"
  • "When can I drink a whole pop can?"
  • "When can I chew gum whenever I want?"
  • "When can I have an Ipod?"
  • "When can I have an Iphone?"
  • "When can I have a cell phone?"
  • "When can I dye my hair?"
  • "When can I have an Ipod Shuffle?"
  • "When can I have a hamster?"
  • "When can I buy a motorcycle?"
  • "When can I have my own computer?"
  • "When can I have unlimited access to the internet?"
As you can see the list is long and deals much with desired purchases. This is a constant struggle for Birch and I to teach our kids how blessed they are but also to provide for them without making it seem like they get anything they ask for. Do you know what I mean? I want them to have the experience of going out to dinner or go to a sport camp or buy a new pair of shoes...but at the same time I don't want them to expect it or to not be grateful when they do get to do those type of things.

Anyway, my sister pointed out the other day that my kids are going to think that parenthood is such a sweet deal that they will all marry right out of high school just so they can get themselves a hamster and dye their hair pink.

Being a parent is hard.

My girls and me

Ami just sent Alysee some pink soft curlers. -- I used to always sleep in pink curlers. I remember most every Christmas Eve going to bed with pink curlers so I would wake up as the beauty queen of the house and look lovely for all those Christmas morning pictures. Alysee didn't love sleeping in them...but don't worry I told her when she is a mommy she doesn't have to.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Just can't get enough of...

S C O U T I N G !

Yes, another scouting entry. Yesterday the boys made some really cool American flags that passed of a requirement for their religious knot. I thought I would share the idea because it really was an easy project and they turned out really cute. This was another double wammy project as it will also end up being a Mother's Day gift.

All you need is:

-10 painters stir sticks
-red, blue, white paint
-sponge brush
-a star
-stain
-wood glue
-wire or jute
-sand paper
-access to a drill

First I glued all the painters stir sticks to the diagonal stick and broke (actually Birch sawed two shorter) sticks to the seven front stir sticks. Then the boys painted the strips and the blue section. The trick for this was only having one color of paint out at a time and then having the boys wash their sponge brushes in between colors so they weren't tempted to go crazy with the paint. The tape really helped keep the blue area crisp. Then we glued the star on. After they finished painting they sanded the flag real quick and then stained it. Then I tied the jute and/or wire through the holes that my awesome husband had drilled. I couldn't decide which way I wanted them to hang so Birch did half and half.

Wham Bam...one hour later just like that a super cheap craft (especially if you wear your scout shirt to the paint store and get all 66 needed stir sticks donated). The boys did a great job! Nate made one this afternoon with an extra kit I had and loved putting it together. GO USA!!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Go Towards The Light

This last week's pack meeting was extra special for Tyler and Alex. Tyler was awarded his wolf badge plus one gold arrow point and two silver arrow points. He also loaded on several belt loops. Way to go TJ!
Tyler pining on the Mother's Pin for the Wolf award. (side note: I don't own a belt so I didn't tuck in my shirt...I'm not pregnant...and I did go in and get my hair done the following day)

Alex earned the highest honor award possible for cub scout's -- the Arrow of Light. This is earned after you have completed many different things required for the Webelos award (which he got several months ago) plus other stuff.
Alex receiving his arrow of light pin. Way to go Alex!
Alex showing off his awards. The Scoutmaster did a really nice ceremony and painted up Alex and the two other boys with Indian paint to remind them of different qualities they show develop as scouters.

Since becoming involved in the scouting program a few years ago I have really gained an appreciation for the things that scouting teachings young boys. I've enjoyed being both Alex and Tyler's leader and have loved watching them develop new skills.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stand By Me

This is a video of street singers from around the world being recorded, overlayed and mixed with one another while singing the song "Stand By Me." After seeing this link on a friends blog I knew I had to share it. Not only do I love this song but I couldn't stop thinking about my little brother Luke who is serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Paris, France. Luke is one original kid and very talented. He is a lover of people, music, and originality. So this one's for you Lukey!!

Missin' you Luke!



Playing For Change | Song Around The World "Stand By Me" from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

Blessed Easter Day

Easter has come and gone but we still have fun memories of the day. The morning was quite rushed to get off to church on time but we did attempt a quick photoshoot of the kids. None turned out as real winners but at least we tried.
Easter Morning 2009

To make the day even more special Birch sang in church. The saddest thing, though...I missed it. Coop had to go potty so I took him to the bathroom. While I was helping him on the toilet Chloe threw her pacifier IN the toilet. I had to fish it out with my BARE hands and then attempt to sanitize it in the cold water (for some reason the water never gets warm) in the bathroom. By the time I was finished with this whole adventure the last speaker had finished talking and Birch had finished singing in the trio. I was so sad. Lots of people told me it was beautiful.
We had our good friends, the Cox's, over for dinner that afternoon. They brought a yummy turkey and we haf lots of other tasty additions. I made this cute bunny bread...it turned out to be a real hit with the kids. My mom used to always make fun stuff like this on holidays. After dinner the kids had a huge Easter Egg hunt in the backyard.
The biggest hit of the day was Oreo joining our family. It kind of disgusts me to even write it that way...maybe I should say we have a new creature that joined our backyard. I am so anti-pet that this was a HUGE decision for Birch and me. We have a few friends that have really talked up how easy of a pet rabbits are and how good a pet is for your kids to have. The kids have begged and begged for years to have a pet. Our answer has always been "no" (minus the few fish we have had over the years--I like them because they don't last longer than a month). I guess I started to think about when I was younger how I did like animals. I had a couple of gerbils and hamsters, toads, goat, turtle, and a dog. I'm not sure when that all changed but it has been a LONG time. My main reasons for not wanting a pet is the increase clean up that they require (the last thing I need is more poop to clean up) and human/pet touching (you know kissy the dog and then kissy the mommy--YUCK).

But here we are...a family with a pet; AND my kids think they have felt a bit of heaven in their lives. Oreo's home is on the outer skits of our property in the trees. He is in a wire cage so the poop just falls to the ground. The kids feed and water the bunny and each day get it out to exercise. They wash their hands when they enter the house and I'm hoping they are not kissing the bunny, though I've just realized that I haven't requested that. So far it hasn't been too painful.
This girl is delighted to have a pet.
Okay, now it is time to show off adorable Chloe. Excuse all the pictures but I just could decide which one to not post so you get them all. Chloe is a mini but totally proportionate for her height. In fact I forgot to mention that I took Chloe back for her follow-up blood work last week for being possibly anemic (which the doctor thought might be contributing to her small size). After two different lab offices tried AND failed to draw blood from my sweet little girl's arm I picked her up in my arms and said "that was enough. She is just fine. All the Dittos are shrimps so leave her alone." Well, maybe I said it a little nicer than that.
Chloe is really starting to get brave with her walking ability. I'm sure it will still be a couple of months but she is pulling herself up on everything.
Now it is time to brag about this precious dress Chloe is wearing. My super duper talented sister Emily is the seamstress. She and her husband are plugging through their last year of dental school and have run into a lack of loans. Emily is dripping with creativity has started sewing the cutest dresses to help the family's finances. You too can own an "EmiTree" one-of-the-kind dress. They run around $30 and you can request colors, etc... Notice the applique work on the front AND back. Just go to her blog and leave her a comment to request yours today (or you can email me for her address).
Chloe has the cutest little snort face.
Walking to daddy.

Happy Easter to all!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

When Momma's Away The Boys Shall Play

Tyler recently just came back from the trip of his life. We decided several years ago that we wanted to carry on Birch's family tradition of getting to go to Salt Lake City for General Conference the year you turn eight. Tyler had been looking forward to this trip for quite a while. When it was Alex's turn both Birch and I were able to go with him (we were there in conjunction with a surgery at Primary Children's); Tyler's trip turned out to be a Daddy/Son trip.
After flying into SLC the first stop was my brother's work site, lunch at a Mexican restaurant, and then off to Provo to spend the night with my sister Leah and her family. The kids (and dads) had a fabulous time making rockets. Tyler loved being chased after by his cousins!
Each day was filled with visiting grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, etc... Here Tyler is with his Great Grandma Gina and Rudy.
Birch's grandparents are currently serving a mission in SLC and ironically live next to my grandparents. Each grandparent had a special family meal where Birch and Tyler were able to catch up with long lost family. Above: Aunt Laurie, Zach, Birch, Tyler, Grandma Ditto, and Grandpa Ditto.
What a treat it is to have so much family when we come visit! Tyler loved seeing his cousin Sofia and his Uncle Matt and Aunt Jessica.
Tyler at the Conference Center.
Tyler and Birch on their way to conference.
A highlight of the trip for Tyler was his first ski experience. It was a gorgeous day and Birch says that Tyler caught on quite quickly. They both came home with quite a doozy of a sunburn.
Pizza slice Tyler.
video
Next it was off to Boondocks for some wild fun.
I rented the cheapest possible thing for Birch and Tyler while in SLC. When they went to pick up the car the salesman offered a free upgrade to a black convertible mustang. Tyler thought he was in HEAVEN!

Birch really enjoyed the time with just Tyler. Having a big family we are finding that we need to really schedule one-on-one time in order to make that happen. Tyler writes below that it was strange to be without his other siblings but that at the same time he really enjoyed the alone time. We missed them while we were partying it up in Spokane but I'm so glad that had such a wonderful time. I already put dibs on taking Alysee in a year and half.

The following is a write-up that Tyler did at school when he returned from his trip. He did a great job writing it and it gives full detail of his trip:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gotta Love This Kid

I've been working on cleaning up my desk of "special" things that I've accumulated over the past few weeks. I came across several things that I've saved from Alysee that were just too cute to recycle.

First: Character Sketch of her Mommy -- See why I have been feeling a little depressed about my blubberness...just like this picture I have been feeling a little "round" lately.
I always love to see what my kids think they know about me. Again, I have fooled me kids into thinking that my favorite food is salad.
Second: I love the words Alysee picked to describe herself...fits her to a "T."
Third: This is a random crumpled paper that I found in my room the other Sunday. Each Sunday afternoon when we come home from church Alysee goes straight for my room to play church. If you have a bit of patience and are good at reading phonetically you'll get a kick out of this document.

Alysee is one original girl! Love her!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Bravest Woman Ever

For Spring Break this year we celebrated the first few days at home with the older boys going to baseball camp, afternoons with friends, and then...mom was the bravest woman ever and drove the kids (minus Tyler) to Spokane for a few days. Birch and Tyler were off to Utah for General Conference.

To help understand the magnitude of this trip I should tell you that I have VERY little experience driving on the freeways, and I was scared to not have another adult in the car to throw the children food, switch DVDs, solve arguments, etc... I didn't decide until a day before that I was actually going to attempt this feat. I knew once I told the kids there would be no turning back. Well I did it!!! We left early in the morning on Thursday and got into Spokane early in the afternoon. The kids were super proud of me and Alex did a great job entertaining Chloe and feeding the kids snacks.

Once in Spokane I really hardly saw the kids. Each house we went to was FULL of cousins -- 20 in all (all under ten years old). We spent the following four days playing with our cousins, taking a bread making class from the Bosch store, "watching" General Conference (not too effective with that many kids around), eating great meals, celebrating Uncle Logan's 30th birthday, hitting some of my favorite bargain stores, and even a tad bit of relaxing.
Not a great picture of Alex but the only one I have. Alex loved hiking up Aunt Annie's backyard hill.
Coop was one busy boy -- here he is covered in homemade pizza sauce playing with cousin Avery.
Alysee just eats up her older cousin Malia. These girls, along with two other cousins, created a whole "show" for us adults to watch, including cup cakes for refreshments.
Nate was in heaven playing with his boy cousins that are close to his age. Watch out...they are WILD together!
Chloe loved getting to know her two cousins that she will soon be making dances up with as well. Haley (on the left) is just a month older than Chloe. This picture makes Chloe look bigger than Haley but in reality these two little girls have a corner on tiny-weenyness.

I was amazed how tiring it is driving. Staring at nothing for hours made my eyes tire. Since the kids were using the car's sound system to watch DVDs and I didn't have a front seat travel partner I found that I do have the capability to eat for just about three hours straight. Wow--what a talent! I'm so glad we went and were able to be apart of the Spokane fun...but Birch don't get any ideas. You still are the main trip driver of the family!!

I sure married into one wonderful family!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's Raining Forsythias

Usually it's not okay to steal...but I saw this idea in the JoAnn's sale flyer and I made an exception. This is the only pair of rain boots we own that are somewhat cute; just think of all the cute table creations you could come up with.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hot Rod Tyler

Tyler has had a couple of major accomplishments in the past couple of months.

#1 Tyler won our cub scout den pinewood derby. He and Alex spent a lot of time designing and creating their cars. Alex made a camouflage Humvee and Tyler made a sporty black and orange car. Alex had several good runs but Tyler was on FIRE. It was a pretty exciting night for him as he finished first place.

So a couple of weekends ago Tyler got to compete in the district pinewood derby. What an exciting morning it was for him! He finished third place in his district level. Way to go Tyler!!
Tyler's aunt Blayre was able to spend the morning with him at the races. It ended up being almost an all-day event and the younger kids were ready for naps so Blayre was Tyler's number one cheerleader.
Proud Tyler

While Tyler was competing in the district race I had the privileged of spending the weekend in Seattle at Time Out For Women. We spent Friday shopping at the outlets, eating yummy food, chatting, checking into our nice hotel, and then the evening we heard a couple of great speakers and some wonderful violin music by the famous Jenny Oaks Baker. Saturday I relished having my soul filled with great speakers and the most delicious meal at a Brazilian restaurant in downtown Seattle called Ipanema Grill. I enjoyed every minute of my weekend get-away.

#2 Tyler also made the 65 mileage club at school a couple of weeks ago. This means that he has run 65 miles during Thursday lunch recess since the beginning of the school year. On average he runs 3 miles each 25 minute recess. He earned his shirt and is quite proud to wear it around. Tyler's goal is to run 72+ miles by the end of the year. I don't think he will have a problem accomplishing that goal. I'm always in ah at people that love to run. Keep it up TJ!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

On Friday Birch, Chloe, Alex, and I headed to Seattle Children's Hospital for a little surgical procedure for Alex. Although Alex is a champ at surgeries now he certainly does not look forward to them and understandably still gets a good dose of butterflies.
Waiting to be called back for the surgical prep work.

You can tell that Chloe loved having the day with her daddy. She also learned two new tricks while we were in Seattle -- clapping and waving her hand "bye bye."

As I've mentioned in the past Alex's man made ear canal that was created for him in November 2007 is very narrow. His surgeon in Seattle felt like he had some scaring that was causing the restricted ear canal thus making his hearing almost non existent in that ear. The purpose of this surgery was to inject the scarring with Botox and as a side effect the scarring should shrink thus opening his ear canal and improving his hearing.

Alex was quite nervous as the anesthesiologist came to talk with him about the procedure but was reassured when she told him that I could go back with him while they were putting him to sleep. I have never had that experience before and now I was a little nervous myself too. I was glad that I got to be with him and help him feel a little more at ease as he drifted off to sleep.
Gotta do something fun while waiting to hear back from the doctor, right?

The procedure lasted about twenty minutes. Dr. Sie was able to dilate his ear canal using expander's and then inject the scarring, clean out his ear canal (dead skin cells and wax always block his ear canal because of its narrowness), and insert a sponge in his canal so we could continue to add some medicine to it as it all heals.
The post-op of the surgery was a little rough for Alex. In the past Alex hasn't done well with the normal kind of sleeping medicine so we have used something alternative to help him with the nausea he has experienced with the normal drug. Anyway, we decided that since this surgery was going to be so short we would just try the routine drug so that his recovery time would be shortened. Turns out that wasn't such a good idea. Alex spent the seven hours following his surgery throwing up in the hospital and car ride home. Not only was it so sad that he felt awful but it was also disheartening to him because we had planned to go out for some yummy food (he had been fasting a long time) and go do something fun in Seattle. In the end we just drove home and Alex was relieved to have his own couch to recover on.

The rest of the kids had a great day at school and playing with their friends. I'm not sure what we would do without being surrounded by such wonderful people. It's such a blessing to always have good friends to count on when we are in need. The adventure continues...