21 January 2012


Since Christmas we’ve certainly kept busy.  Our anniversary was two days after Christmas – it’s funny how long 9 years sounds, but at the same time how it seems like it hasn’t been very long at all.  We decided to do something simple to celebrate this year, and maybe next year we’ll be able to do something a little bigger to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.  So we got a babysitter and went out to a nice dinner – we tried out an excellent Mediterranean restaurant that has been recommended to us – and saw a movie.  And Michael was so thoughtful and brought me some pretty flowers – gerber daisies are so pretty. 

Lijah has been working hard on learning to read, and just over the last few weeks he’s really gotten past needing help on most simple words.  It’s been fun to watch him as he transitions into being able to read a whole book without much help.

On New Year’s Eve we went to the Silva’s annual party and had lots of fun.  It was us, the Silvas, and Russells.  We enjoyed dinner and then the grown ups played some card games while all the little boys (our 5 boys, the Silvas’ 3 boys, and the Russell’s 1 little boy) all played kids games on the Wii.  At one point while we were playing, Camden walked in and said, “Excuse me, what are those cookies on the counter for?”  I got a good laugh from that little comment.  Before too long we did dessert, then the other kids went to sleep while our boys went down to the basement to watch a Scoobie Doo movie.  We talked, played some Wii sports games, and watched the ball drop on tv.  When it was time to go, we went downstairs expecting to find some, or all, of our boys asleep.  But instead we found all 5 of them wide awake (and quite upset that we didn’t allow them to stay and finish their movie, I might add).  Marina Russell sent me a few of the photos she took that night. 

On the Saturday before my birthday Michael threw me a party, which I loved.  The Chens, Flemings, Silvas, Lanes, Eardmans, and Anthony McClain were all here.  The kids played in the basement play room a lot, and the grown ups got to play some Catch Phrase before Michael brought out the birthday cake.  He surprised me with a homemade angel food cake, whipped cream, and berries (my favorite).  (And I was pleased to learn that angel food cake is fat free, which is an added bonus since I’ve been trying to eat healthy lately.)  And at the end of the party Sheila Fleming was asking me what we were going to do on Tuesday (the actual day of my birthday).  I told her that the party was mostly what we were doing to celebrate, and we didn’t have any specific plans for Tuesday, except I was supposed to work at the family history center that evening.  She said I had to do something on my 30th birthday, so she would come babysit while Michael and I went out on a date.  That was so thoughtful of her! 

my birthday cards from the boys
On January 10th I turned 30.  That morning I woke up to find that the boys had made 16 birthday cards that morning and taped them to the walls and furniture all over the house so I got to go searching for them when I came downstairs in the morning.  That sure was cute!  And Michael surprised me with a gift of songs from two CDs by Steven Sharp Nelson that are just beautiful – a Christmas CD and one with Sunday music – he is the cello player who plays with Michael’s favorite pianist, Jon Schmidt, and we’ve been able to see them in concert a couple times.  Anyway, that day was pretty busy with lots of errands to run and things to get done around the house, but that evening was fun.  I had arranged for a substitute for the family history center, and Michael and I ended up going out and having a really fun night.  We found a little hole in the wall Greek restaurant that was quite tasty, and used some free movie tickets that we had won to see the new Mission Impossible movie (which was much better than the previous sequels).  So that was fun to get to celebrate with a party and with a date night. 

The older boys each got to fill out a spotlight page for the new year in their primary classes at church.  I love to hear what answers the kids come up with for things like this:

And I’ve been plugging away at my goals for eating healthy and exercising.  I’m still keeping track of the nutritional info for all the foods I eat (I read that people who write down the foods they eat statistically loose twice as much weight as those who do not, just because they are more aware of exactly what, and how much, they are eating).  But I’ve been focusing a lot on having most of the calories that I eat each day be good, healthy foods and getting in plenty of protein – I’ve been eating a lot of oatmeal, spinach salads, hard boiled eggs, tuna, English muffins with eggs, pickles, Greek yogurt with blueberries added, and dinners with chicken.  Not that I only ever eat anything healthy – I try to leave “room” in my calorie allowance for snacks and/or something sweat each day so I don’t feel like I’m withholding everything I like from myself.  But it’s amazing to think about the kinds of things (and portion sizes) I used to eat all the time, and how I can be eating less and exercising more and not be hungry all the time – it’s really been interesting for me to learn about which healthy foods keep me feeling full longer.  And I haven’t missed a weekday or Saturday of exercising since I started.  So I’m feeling pretty good about it.  I’ve been using the Wii fit to weigh myself each morning (this picture was from a week or so ago, and shows when I went down from “overweight” in pink, into the healthy weight range in yellow).  It’s fun because I can’t really see a big change in my body yet, but on Sunday I wore a dress that’s always been snug on me, and it was noticeably less snug this time.  My goal right now is to get down to my pre-pregnancy weight that I was always at through college up until I started having kids.  (I’ll see how it goes, and maybe after that I’ll try to get a little lower, since that would still be a healthy weight for me, but for now the pre-pregnancy weight is the big goal).  To get to that point, I have just over 10 lbs to lose, which seems do-able (if I can keep going strong while I’m out of town).  Michael has commented a few times about being careful not to lose weight too quickly because I want to do it at a healthy rate.  Over the weekend I lost more than I normally do over a couple days, and Michael commented about that again, but I guess some of it can be attributed to normal weight fluctuations, because even thought I was eating healthy and exercising the following 3 days my weight went up again, before going back down today.  But I’ve figured out that that’s how it goes – sometimes it goes up a little for a day or two, but overall the curve is still going downward so I can see past those days.  But I calculated just to make sure, and since December 31st, when I started with my current goal for my daily calorie intake, I’ve lost an average of 2.5 lbs a week, so I think it’s going at a healthy rate.  Anyway, so far I’ve lost about 12 lbs total, so I’m feeling pretty good about it.  Kolby asked me this morning when I’m going to stop eating like this, and I told him I figure I won’t.  Although I’ll hopefully get to a point when I don’t need to constantly measure portions and calculate calories in order to maintain a healthy weight, I don’t think I’ll go back to snacking on unhealthy food and eating 2nds and 3rds all the time.   Anyway, sorry to write so much about this, but it’s been pretty exciting for me that this actually seems to be working – at some times in the past I wondered if changing some of my eating habits and a little exercise would really be enough to make a difference, or it if would require hours at the gym each day and not getting to eat anything that tastes good ever again – and I’m glad that that doesn’t seem to be the case.

I had to get in one more “Once a Month Cooking” day before we leave town (this way Michael won’t starve while he’s here alone, and we should have plenty left so I don’t have to cook for a while after we get back.  This time around I made lots of our favorites: fried rice and enchiladas.  And I tried a few new ones: Mom’s chicken (a recipe with chicken, onions, mushrooms, and Dijon in the sauce that my mom made growing up – I thought it would freeze well, and it did), crock pot salsa chicken, and chalupa.  We have tried out each of the new ones, and they each got a thumbs up from the whole family. 

The last week or so have been super busy with trying to get ready to go to San Diego and get everything else done with the kids and for my church callings.  We had the annual Mother-Daughter activity for Activity Days.  I planned several “minute to win it” games, which the girls seemed to enjoy, and Danielle made homemade caramel from scratch for caramel apples and found a list of questions for the girls and their moms to answer about each other.  The Mother-Daughter and Father-Daughter activities each year always take some extra planning and prep time, but I think it went over well. 

I’ve also met with the boys’ school teachers to talk about the school work they’ll be missing while we’re gone, so I know what topics to cover with them.  And I've picked up some math workbooks and some notebooks and started working on getting their school work for the trip organized.  I also picked up some new coloring books, construction paper notebooks, and some fun looking dry erase boards and dry erase crayons -- so hopefully they can keep busy on the plane rides.  And I’ve just finished teaching a series of classes at church on Sundays about a computer program called RootsMagic, for the second month in a row – the class went well, and it’s a topic that I enjoy teaching, but it’ll be nice not to have to get the whole family to church a half hour early each week to have time to set up the projector and laptop in the classroom.  Although we haven’t had much time recently to focus on house work, the boys have gotten all their clothes put away/hung up, and last night Michael replaced the broken rail on the stair banister while I screwed back in a wooden piece that had come loose on the floor in one of the doorways. 

We’ve also been thinking a lot about replacing the interior doors in the house – taking out the old, brown, hollow doors (some of which had holes in them before we moved into the house) and closet doors, and putting in new, white, 6-panelled doors.  Other than being extremely thorough in cleaning and de-cluttering before showing the house, our realtor’s biggest suggestion was to replace the interior doors, he says it makes a much bigger difference to buyers than you might think.  So we’ve been trying to decide if this is a job best done ourselves, or if it would be better to hire it out, since I’m going to be out of town for nearly 2 months, and Michael will need to be studying hard for his upcoming board exams on top of trying to spruce up the house because I return the end of March, and we are supposed to put the house on the market in April.  So, we’ve gotten one quote, and I need to call another contractor and get a second quote (hopefully less expensive than the first one).  We’ve also been talking to several friends who’ve done it themselves, and getting lots of suggestions.  So I guess we’ll get that second quote, then decide from there. 

I’m also planning a birthday party for next Saturday before we leave.  I was originally thinking we could have a party in San Diego for Lijah and one for Courtland, but decided that since this is the last time they will have a birthday before we move, I would do it before we leave so Lijah could have it with all his friends.  And I don’t usually combine the boys’ birthday parties, because with 5 brothers so close in age I feel like it’s nice for each of them to have a special party just for themselves.  But since we’re going to be gone so long and there was only 1 free Saturday when we weren’t busy before we leave, we’re going to have Lijah’s 7th and Courtland’s 3rd birthday party at the same time.  I just invited a couple kids Courtland’s age and their families, and I let Lijah invite 10 kids from church and school (although it’s not likely that they will all show up).  So, we’ll see how that goes.  It should be fun.

I’ve also been trying to figure out how to pack for 6 people for nearly 2 months, keeping in mind that we need warm-weather clothes for San Diego and all the winter gear for Mammoth, and attempting to take enough clothes for the kids that I won’t be forced to do laundry every other day for the entire trip, but also attempting not to pay for a ton of luggage.  At first I thought I’d just look around at Good Will or on craigslist and find some carry-on bags, but I wasn’t finding what I wanted.  I found some at Wal Mart that weren’t too expensive (except if you buy 5 of them it really adds up), plus they were just a bit smaller than normal carry-on bags, and a few inches can really make a difference when you’re packing things in so tight.  So I ended up e-mailing the people from church, and we were able to borrow 5 of those rectangular carry-on bags with the wheels and the extendable handles – I figured it’d be a lot easier for the kids to pull their bags in the airport, rather than having ones they’d have to carry.  I made a few trips to pick up the bags from people, then I returned the ones I bought at the store after we had borrowed enough, and I got a couple of back packs at Good Will for a couple dollars each, so each kid will have one on the plane too.  And I spent time going through all the bins of summer clothes down in the basement, then through the kids’ closets and drawers and got together all their clothes for the trip.  Since we’re mostly taking summer clothes, and then just a few long-sleeved things for if we spend a weekend or two in Mammoth, I’ve been able to pack mostly everything for the kids, and they still have what they need to wear until we leave.  As for the kids clothes, all I have left to pack for them is their tennis shoes and church shoes, their underwear, and Kolby’s and Lijah’s snow pants that they use at school.  And my plan is to have them each wear their winter coats and snow boots on the plane, so that’ll save a lot of space in the luggage too.  I think I will still need to pay to check either 1 or maybe 2 suitcases for all the other odds and ends we need to pack, but that’s a lot better than paying for suitcases for everyone.  Now I just need to get motivated to get the last few things crossed off my to-do list that need to be done before I go, and I’ll feel a little less overwhelmed about packing and preparing.  But I’m getting there – I was able to fit more into the boys’ carry-on bags than I thought I would, with a little space to spare, so that was good to get done last night. 

Oh, and I just thought I’d share this cute shot of the 3 youngest boys.  Now that Kolby and Lijah are in school all day, and Camden only has preschool 2 mornings a week, I often have the three boys with me when I go places.  What’s funny to me, though, is how many people see me with the three little ones and say, “You’ve got your hands full!”  If they only knew.  :)


Penelope said...

Tyce was reading over my shoulder while I read your post. As I was scrolling through the New Year's Eve pictures, he said, "That top one's not their kid." I assured him it was. Of course, I have to cut him some slack because I feel a little tentative saying that I think it's Isaac and, if I'm right, we've never seen Isaac in the flesh since he was a baby. Still, he does look like a Bradshaw.

Mel said...

WOW! you sure keep busy! way to go with all that cooking and your healthy eating and exercising goals as well! that is totally awesome! that time with your parents is going to be so much fun! glad you liked MI4 too! :)