Apr 7, 2014

A Hair-y Situation

I hate cutting hair.
(I hate hair)
So I generally put it off.
For months.
But when it's long enough to French braid, it's long enough.
Sure, I could take them all to the barber, but the last time I did that it cost me $80 and they got the same crappy haircut I could have given them.  
So, the bathtub it is... 
Two of the boys before:

And all of the boys (plus cousin and Grandma) after:
Much fun was had by...

Apr 5, 2014

Gray-Gray is FOUR

My sweet little Gray-Gray is growing up!  He was lucky enough to have Grandma W, Aunty Beth, Aunty Steph, and cousins Spence and Anna in town to help him celebrate his fourth birthday.

But first, he got to celebrate with his preschool class and got this awesome crown:

(Guess who was supposed to bring the class snack to preschool that day? Me.
Guess who forgot? Me. Totally out of the running for the Mother of the Year award--again.)

Oh his actual birthday, we had a party down at the pool with above named relatives, and our friends the L and T's.
Sweet cousin Anna
Gray picked this cake from Costco all by himself.
I was just thrilled I didn't have to make an "Olaf" cake.

Gray with Emily T.
(Gray loves Emily T. almost as much as he loves her little brother "Dabid")

Gray got some cool presents and had a great time.

A few things about Gray-Gray:

*He loves me the most and alternately bestows his love on other members of the family depending on what bribes they offer him. I.E. "Gray, I'll give you this piece of gum if you say I'm your favorite brother...!!!"

*Gray loves gum.

*He has the worst potty mouth of any of the boys (at the same age).  I blame having three older brothers.  He throws out "stupid" ("dupid") and "dumb" when he wants attention and usually gets it from his shocked older brothers. I try to act upset, and usually tell him to use nicer words, but with his little speech impediment it's just adorable. Oh, and he also curses you to go in "da hot laba" when he's really mad at you.

*Gray likes to play puppies.  Gray also wants to be a puppy when he grows up.

*Gray likes crepes and demands them for dinner all.the.time.

*He has a very sweet little giggle and gazes adoringly up at you and says "I love you very much!"

*When he is pretend hungry he pretend eats my ear.  He bites it just hard enough to make himself giggle but not hard enough to make me yelp.  Sometimes he walks up behind Doug and bites him on the bottom and we all laugh.  Except Doug.

*He loves riding on Daddy's back in the swimming pool and isn't afraid to do tricks.
Nice form Gray!!
*Gray is just an all-around awesome kid and we love him!

(See this post for some adorable baby pictures.  Too tired to copy and paste them tonight.)

Mar 21, 2014

Words of Wisdom

This is another post about my mom. Sorry. I'm not a very fun blogger these days. Sucks to be you! But I promise this will be the last post about death for awhile! (maybe.)

My mom died at 12:18 a.m. on March 21st, 2013.  We thought maybe she held out for 18 minutes because she wanted to die on the first day of spring.  (Sometimes you try to find solace and meaning in the meaningless when terrible things happen.)  Unfortunately, the first day of Spring last year came early.  It was March 20th.  Some weird calendar anomaly. She missed it by 18 minutes.

Also, I want to note that she did not die with a smile on her face, nor did she make a rainbow appear over her house the day she died. It was just a normal, stupid, ugly, cold, gray, Utah winter day. (Months before she died, I demanded she make a rainbow appear for me since she subjected me to the depressing song "I'll Build You a Rainbow" multiple times throughout my childhood. Alas, no rainbow.)

Her death was not pretty. It wasn't quick. It wasn't painless. It wasn't quiet or peaceful.  It wasn't easy on her. Or us. And it wasn't (at least for me) a spiritual experience.  It was just terrible. The days leading up to it?  Pretty terrible too.  Everything that came after?  Terrible.  I'm just going to go ahead and emphasize again that it sucked and we don't even say "suck" in our family.  (Okay, fine.  I do.)

FORTUNATELY, when I think of my mom, I don't (usually) think of her death.  Fortunately, I have many more pleasant things to remember her by.  Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the 'words of wisdom' she left implanted in my brain.  These are a few of her common sayings that come readily to mind:

"Everything looks brighter in the morning."
I spent many nights as a kid curled up in her bed crying my eyes out about the injustices of the world.  She would listen patiently, try to get me to calm down, and remind me that everything always looks brighter in the morning.  She was (usually) right.

"Waste not, want not"
Her parents lived through the depression and she absorbed their thrifty habits and fear of debt.  I remember her cleaning out jars of food with a spatula so as not to waste a drop.  She told us how her dad would add a little bit of water to the ketchup bottle to get all of it out.  And I don't think she ever threw away a butter wrapper (on the rare occasions we had real butter) without first scraping it off with a butter knife.  (Oh, and she always ate her sandwich crusts.  Gross.)

Okay, this one doesn't actually fit into the "Words of Wisdom" category. I just heard it A LOT.  But I could never take her seriously, because she was always half-laughing while chastising me!  P.S.  My sister Jenny started calling her Fae in High School--I was just following her example.

"It takes two to fight"
She said this to me each and every time I tattled on Jenny. So I probably heard it 10,000 times.

"The cure for despair is action!"
She got this one from Dr. Laura, and repeated it to me often when I was a teenager. I firmly believe that SOMETIMES, the cure for despair is a nap.  Just my opinion though...

"I love you the most!"
When I was little she'd hold her fingers close together and say "I love you this much!" while slowly spreading them out until her arms were outstretched.  Then she'd give me a hug and let me know that she would always, ALWAYS love me the most.

"Say three nice things!!!"
My mom was a huge proponent of healthy self-esteem.  If she ever caught you insulting someone, she demanded you immediately say three nice things about the person "to repair the damage to their psyche".  (Brandon always avoided this consequence by muttering insults to me just under her hearing level.  She was pretty deaf...!)  She was such a great person.

{It makes me think of what I repeat to my kids:
"Quit being obnoxious!"
"Stop wrestling!"
"Quit being annoying!!!"
Is this what I want them to hear when they think of me?  Absolutely not. Clearly, I have some work to do if I'm going to live up to her standard. }

I know there are a bunch more of her sayings that I'm forgetting, but these are some of the classics.
And there are things she didn't have to say that I just knew about her.  She had great faith and loved her Savior.  She was constantly serving people. And she loved, LOVED her kids and grandkids and husband more than anything.

Love you Mommy!  You're my idol and I miss you every day!
I need to go say three nice things to my boys now.

Mar 17, 2014

Book Review: Montmorency by Eleanor Updale

Back in 2012, Max got a recommendation from our librarian to check out a book called "Montmorency" by Eleanor Updale.  It was the first in a series and he read it and loved it.  

Max loved it so much he convinced Doug to read it, Doug loved it and told me to read it.  
We were all hooked.  
We subsequently checked out the next three books in the series only to discover Book 4, "Montmorency's Revenge" ended in a major cliff-hanger, and (horror!) there was no fifth book.  In desperation, I wrote this e-mail:

Hello Ms. Updale!
My husband, 10-year-old son and I recently discovered and read your Montmorency series.  We're big fans and after the cliff-hanger at the end of book four, went straight to the Internet to find out when book 5 will be published.  Please tell me there will be a book 5?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?  You can't leave Montmorency...(edited to prevent spoilers)!  How about a short story?  A novella?  A single chapter?  A blog post?  We'll take anything we can get!!!

Emily Warner and Maxwell 

Amazingly, SHE WROTE BACK and let me know she was having problems with the publisher but was working on getting book five out!

A few weeks ago, we heard from her again--this time with exciting news!!

Well, at last it’s out.  The fifth Montmorency book, Montmorency Returns is now available to buy as an ebook or as a paperback, but only from Amazon.  The good news is that the paperback has better paper and better print than any of the previous editions, and all the previous books are available in a similar format, so it is possible to buy the whole series in a matching edition.
Thank you so much for your patience.  The delay in publication has been as annoying for me as it was for you, and I do hope that your love of Montmorency has not gone off the boil in the meantime.
You can buy the ebook here,
And the paperback here:
I’d be really grateful if you could spread the word about the new book.  You can find out more about it on my website www.eleanorupdale.com
Very best wishes,
Eleanor Updale
I love that there are authors out there who take the time to connect with their fans! I went straight to Amazon and am now the proud owner of the complete series in a matching set. I love matching sets!  

If you're looking for a fun adventure set in England, this is the series for you.  Although Max read these when he was 10, I would probably recommend them for 12+.  But you can read them first and be the judge of whether you want your (younger) kids to read them.  I remember them being very clean, but it's been a few years.

Here's a description from the author's website:
Montmorency is set between 1875 and 1880. This is the story of a small-time crook whose life is transformed after an accident that nearly kills him. An ambitious doctor (Robert Farcett) takes on the task of rebuilding his body, and shows him off at meetings of a scientific society. At those meetings, Montmorency learns about the new underground network of sewers under London. In prison, he plans a new life, stealing things all over London, and getting away through the smelly underground passageways. When he is released, he takes on two identities: Scarper in the Dark underground world, and Montmorency in high society. The book is all about his struggle to prevent each of his identities spoiling everything for the other.


Feb 5, 2014

Lots of Love

My e-mail in-box is out of control. It's constantly full of junk and spam and stuff I think I'll get to later.  It desperately needs to be cleaned out--but, since I have slight hoarder tendencies, I have a hard time throwing things away.  Even virtual things.
(What if I need that 20%-off-at-Michaels coupon for a craft I'm going to start next month but not complete until October 2017?!?! WHAT IF???)

Tonight I opened g-mail to see yet another ad from Old Navy.  Didn't I just get one, like, yesterday???
I typed "Old Navy" into my search box, checked "select all" and deleted 20 Old Navy e-mails.  Safe to say I wont need any of those in the future. I did it again and again until they were all gone.  I thought of what else might be eating up my allotment of Cloud and searched for Target.com.  I clicked "select all" but noticed one of the e-mails wasn't from Target.  It was from my mom.  I clicked it open.

It was my mom responding to a blog post written just before I left Japan. (Somewhere in the post I had mentioned my excessive use of Target.com while overseas.)  We went back and forth talking about my family and my excitement and anxiety surrounding coming back to The States. She praised my writing. She said she was excited to see me again. She reassured me. And she chided me for bagging on my family in the blog post.  ;)

I could hear her voice saying the words. It was like she was still here.
Just on the other end of an e-mail.  Just separated by a plane ride.
She signed the e-mails the same way she always did:
"Lots of Love, Mom xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo"
{One of her Aunties signed letters "Lots of Love" so my mom did too.}

I wonder how many e-mails I have from her?  I want to check.  But I can't check.
Not yet.  Cause then I'll have to read 'em.  And I'm not ready to read 'em.

But it's nice to remember they're there.  With all those x's and o's.
Some things are worth keeping.

Lots of Love Mommy!  Lots and lots and lots of love!

P.S.  This is the post she was responding too--if you're curious:  http://actegratuit.blogspot.com/2011/05/my-head-and-my-heart-all-over-place.html

Jan 15, 2014

For Aunt Jenny...

Because she's not on Instagram. #LinkyPie

Evil Minion for Halloween 
"Helping" Mommy 

Max happy to be home from 6th grade camp
Sammy reading "You Are My Sunshine"

Date with Mom and Dad

Sunday Nap
Best Christmas Present
Trying to become a thumb sucker
Meeting Santa
Blessing Day
Aunt Laura loves Linc

Midnight antics
Add caption 

Christmas Eve

Dec 31, 2013

Questions for My Mom

Every day I think of something I want to ask my mom.  Every single day.  Sometimes the questions are specific to what I'm doing.  A lot of times they're totally random.  And for just a moment, I have a pang of regret that I didn't ask when I had the chance.  But then, usually, I force myself to think of something else and move on with my day.

I've decided to start writing some of my questions down.  I don't know why.  These aren't even memories of her...just things I wish I knew.  And frankly, I can probably get some of the answers from my dad or her siblings.  None-the-less, I wish I could ask HER.

Sometimes, if I do dwell on thoughts of my mom, I'll have a dream about her that night.  And then it's as if I get to spend a little more time with her.  It's hard to wake up from those dreams.

(Starting November 22, 2013)

  • What did your mom (Joann) do again?  She was a nurse or training to be a nurse?  Did she work after your mom and dad got married?
  • Can you come for Thanksgiving?
  • Can't you please just make the Peanut Butter Pies for me this year?
  • What did you do when I (the youngest) went to preschool?  What did you do with your time during the day?  How did your life change?
  • How did you, a night person, manage to get out of bed before all of us and make a hot breakfast every day?  
  • Did you buy/use red or white wheat for your whole wheat bread?
  • Where is your chicken noodle soup recipe?
  • How did you manage our household so well?  With the exception of the "Art Room" (alternately known as the junk room), it was always pretty darn clean, plus you cooked great healthy meals, plus you clipped coupons, plus you hardly ever yelled.  How did you do it?!?  Why can't I be more like you?!?!?!?
  • How did you handle the laundry?  (I remember she would occasionally "go on-strike" if we were throwing too many clean clothes in the hamper--and then we'd have to do our own laundry for a few weeks--but generally she took care of it all.  I do remember I had to fold the wash-cloths when I was very little.)
  • Where did you hide the Christmas presents???  (I never found them!)
  • How did you determine a Christmas budget for kid gifts?
  • What was the best Christmas gift you ever got?
  • What was your favorite Christmas?
  • How did you keep track of kid presents and who was getting what?  Did you worry about giving the kids equal numbers?  Did we count our gifts like my kids do?  (I do remember there were occasionally gifts that got lost and those I got for my birthday (in February) or if they were really lost, for Easter--like the brass doll cradle! :)
  • Why didn't you decorate for Christmas the last few years?!?
That's all I have written down, but I'm sure in the coming days and weeks, I'll have another long list.

This year I bought a small fake Christmas tree and decorated it with all the angel ornaments I own in honor of my Mom.  She collected angels and would have loved it.  (A lot of the ornaments were given to me by my sweet mother-in-law so it reminds me of her too and what an angel SHE is.)  

My favorite new ornament is from Gray's preschool teacher.  It's a photograph of him standing with his hands steepled.  He's cut out and pasted in between two giant foam wings covered in silver glitter with a gold pipe-cleaner halo on top.  The first thing I thought when I saw it was how much my mom would have loved it and that she probably would have stolen it to hang in her house.  

If she were still alive, I would have made an angel of every single one of her grandkids and forced her to get a tree to display all 25--all looking angelic with white foam wings.  (I sure wish she could have met my little angel #25!)  She used to joke when one of the grandkids was being naughty that their halo was slipping a little bit.  Gray's little pipe-cleaner is slipping a LOT.  That would have made her laugh. 

Anyway, the holidays have been hard, and New Year's Eve and Valentines Day wont be any better.  However, I'm grateful for all the happy memories I do have and that I got to have her for 35 years.  I'm grateful for the questions I do have answers to.  
Enough of that though--I promise my next post will be filled with cute pictures of Baby! 

Let me just end with this: if you have any questions for your parent(s), why don't you just go ahead and pick up the phone already!  You wont regret it.  :)  
Happy holidays!!!
Meeting Baby Gray when we visited from Japan

On her (second) wedding day

Meeting Baby Gabe

Swimming with Baby Max at her condo in Springville

Cape Cod with Gabey-Baby--When she visited us in Rhode Island

Grandma Fae LOVED giving babies a bath--Happy Baby Sammy