Sunday, July 12, 2020

New Woods to Explore

Christian, Peter, and I went exploring in a new forest today.  On our run yesterday we discovered a forest we hadn't explored in years and decided we would try it today.  It was in the far back behind bicentennial park.  I'd been in it many years ago but had forgotten what it was like.  So fun!  They have easy to follow, color coded trails and they are well maintained but narrow so it feels very rustic and secluded, even though at one point, you're just across the fence from a golf course with loud, laughing men playing golf not 10 feet away.  We hiked for about a mile around in the woods and had a great time.  Then we biked over to the playground and I noticed that the play structure wasn't in the bright, hot sun for the first time in weeks.  I decided to take advantage of this and allow Peter his first experience on the play structure and slide.  He LOVED it.  He laughed heartily every time he went down.  I taught him how to crawl back up it and he did it again and again.  At first, I'd help him sit on the slide and go down on his bum.  However, at home, we've taught him to take the stairs feet first on his tummy, so after a few times of going down, before I had a chance to help him into a sitting position, he flopped down onto his belly and went down that way.  He loved that too.  So he was going down both ways and having a blast exploring all over this new place.  I love watching him discover new things and be so happy learning.  I tried to get a picture of him but I couldn't get far enough from him to take it without worrying he was going to tumble off an edge.  I asked Christian to hold him on his lap and slide, but Peter thought Christian was taking him off the slide and became hysterical.  He looks so upset in the picture, but I promise, he was having a great time.  I'm so happy that he's finally able to have some of these experiences that I've wanted so long for him to have.

Today I was having a martyr day - one of those days when I just feel put-upon by the world.  I just wanted nothing more than to sit and read a book but I felt like I was just running ragged doing all the things that needed doing around a house with 6 people.  I didn't say anything, but Christian came up to me and said, "Why are you stressed?"  I asked him how he knew I was stressed.  "I can just tell by the way you're moving and you sigh a lot when you're stressed."  He's amazingly perceptive.  I told him how I felt and he said, "What can I do to help?"  So sweet.  He cleaned up the messes he'd made that had me frustrated and took Peter for a while downstairs so I could get some things done.  I really appreciate that guy.  Such a great kid.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Kayaking in the Rain

We'd planned to go kayaking as a family today since several weeks ago.  Due to Benjamin's infected foot, he was unable to go, so Kelly stayed home with him and kept Peter too.  That allowed me to take Christian and Bella again.  It was a warm, sunny day when we left the house, but as we pulled up to the river 25 minutes later, we saw dark clouds roll in and heard thunder.  We were excited because that meant that everyone else would be going home and we'd have a nice, shady, empty river to kayak on.  It was wonderful.  We saw only a handful of people the entire time, were kept nice and cool by the rain, and we saw quite a lot of wildlife - mostly turtles and large crane-like birds.  Of course, the favorite part of any kayak trip to Proud Lake, is always the portage.  The fish were so plentiful today that it was like a carpet of fish under the water.  Amazing.  The only downside was on the way back from the lake, I took a wrong turn in a marshlands area and landed us in some nasty, smelly, silty, shallow water that took us 30 minutes to paddle out of.  So frustrating.  I'm definitely a city girl when it comes to navigating.  Put me in a new, unfamiliar city and I'll have conquered the public transportation system and figured out the lay of the land in a couple days.  Put me out on a waterway or a forest and I will take the wrong path more than half the time.  Luckily the kids are better wilderness navigators than I am and I had my iphone, so between the two, we found our way to the correct stream quickly once we managed to dig ourselves out of that silty mess.

When we got home, Peter was in the mood for water play too.  I would have placed him in the bathtub, but Kelly did this instead. Tiny bit of water and a couple toys and he was thrilled. As long as someone was there holding the tub from tipping over when Peter stood up on the side, it worked.  All my kids love water.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Our Own Waterpark

Every morning as Christian and I go running, we see tons and tons of people's sprinklers running.  Christian is always fascinated by the oscillations of the different types of mechanisms and, of course, during this crazy heat-wave, jealous that they have water waiting to be jumped in.  We have built-in sprinklers that come on according to schedule and go off according to schedule and never really bring the kind of joy that these other sprinklers do.  So, today when I went grocery shopping, I bought him some sprinklers.  A rainbird sprinkler - the kind that fires in a 180 degree arc and then swoops back - and a rainbow type sprinkler that slowly arches back and forth.  He was beside himself excited about them.  He declared it to be like Christmas.  With the weather in the 90s, it was the perfect day to try them out.  I took Peter outside too.  Although the cold water bursts freaked him out if they were too direct, when in my (or Kelly's) arms and partially shielded, he had fun too.  Then we also turned it way, way down and let him explore them.  He seemed to mostly enjoy them, but Christian was my target audience, and I was happy to see that they were everything he'd imagined.  I wish I could give them a pool like they've all been begging for, but I guess this is as close as it's going to get.  (No pictures of the rainbird sprinkler.  I was holding Peter during that time and didn't think to take pictures.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

11 Months Old

Our little guy turned 11 months old today.  He spent his day playing in the back yard, going to the playground, and playing endlessly with kitchen utensils and hotwheels cars (his favorite thing right now).  He is also really starting to show an interest in learning to walk.  He uses his little walker toy all over the house and he can cruise along walls, cabinets, and any furniture.  He had a homemade blueberry muffin for the first time today and loved it.  He's also an incredible mimic.  He constantly imitates faces and sounds the other kids make.  They get him to do some pretty funny stuff.  Today they had him blowing raspberries while squinting his eyes shut.

Only other news is that Benjamin's foot has taken a turn for the worse.  Just as we thought it was healed up and he started mowing lawns again, it split back open a couple days ago and last night I said to Kelly that it looked like an infection was building.  We tried disinfecting it, using neosporin and essential oils, but this morning is still looked that way and tonight his entire foot is swollen, red, and hot.  I'm taking him to the doctor in the morning.  I assume it's cellulitis and he'll need a round of antibiotics.  He doesn't have a fever, so that's reassuring, but the pain and swelling is really bothering him.  I feel so bad.  I so so so wish he'd worn shoes like I told him to.  All this could have been avoided.  I pray this heals soon.  He wants to come kayaking with us on Friday and go motorcycling with Kelly next week.  I sure hope he will be able to go.

As for me, I'm doing well, but I go through periods during the day when I'm feeling so down and frustrated by this current situation.  I hate how Covid has stolen my summer and I hate that I feel guilty about it!  Isn't that the dumbest thing?  I have mom guilt that my kids are having such a boring summer even though it's absolutely not my fault.  I just so want to give them fun experiences and wonderful memories and I feel like all we do is stay at home all day.  I just don't know what else to do.  Most everything is closed and what isn't requires a mask full time which absolutely kills the joy for me.  A mask in 90 degree weather?  No thank you.  I see my friends and family in Utah doing all sorts of wonderful, fun things - water parks, family parties, etc. etc. and I hate that we can't be a part of it.  But today I read a friend's blog who's in Texas and she's in the same boat as I am - stuck at home with bored kids and a canceled summer itinerary and I know I'm not alone in this.  It just often feels that way.  I'm trying to remember that I'm doing the best I can and one boring summer isn't going to ruin their childhood.  This will pass and I pray that next summer we can do better.

Monday, July 06, 2020

Finally, a haircut!

Benjamin finally agreed to go get a haircut today.  He looks so good!  I can't believe how fuzzy, curly his hair gets when it's long.  He was somewhat sad to get rid of all that hair, but I think he'll be much more comfortable now.  He most enjoys being able to see again without a hair tie holding it up.

I love how cute Christian is with Peter.  They get along so well.  Today he offered to watch him for me while I cooked dinner.  They played and laughed together in the backyard for 30 minutes.  Peter's favorite thing was watching Christian throw his shoes into the air.  Every time they landed he'd laugh hysterically.  A couple times he laughed so hard he fell over.  It was adorable.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Happy 4th of July!

Today was another hot, hot day, but we managed to have our BBQ, fireworks, and firefly catch anyway.  I'd bought several kinds of fireworks at the grocery store yesterday just on a rushed whim as I was checking out and, as a result, I bought things I didn't expect.  One was called "jalapeno popper."  I assumed it was a box of those little snaps firecrackers - the little gray paper bundles that make a loud pop when you throw them onto the ground.  However, when I got home and tried to open the box, I noticed a fuse on the top of it.  Turns out that whole box was one fire cracker.  I got several more smaller things called "flowers" that, when lit, spin and shoot sparks that change colors as it goes.  Those were the hit today.   The kids loved watching them spark and spin all over the patio.  The jalapeno popper was also pretty amazing, but surprisingly loud and big.  I'm not used to lighting fireworks and it was a bit startling.  I'll definitely have to buy more of those if I can find them, though.  The kids loved having more than just sparklers to play with - especially Benjamin. He got such a kick out of the spinning ones.  It was so nice to see him excited about doing something with us.  He could have played with those all night.  My kids are definitely growing up.

I prepared a really nice BBQ today too - hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, corn on the cob, watermelon, and broccoli salad.  In order to be able to get it all done in time, with cooking the burgers and hot dogs on the grill and whatnot, I started prepping early.  First I shucked corn.  Peter sat beside me and watched.  I explained what I was doing and when I'd shucked the first one, he started to screech and reach.  I handed him the corn so he could see what it looked like on the inside and I thought he'd investigate and throw it aside.  However, he put it in his mouth and discovered how delicious it was.  I never got it back.  He devoured the entire corn cob by himself.  It was impressive.  With only his 7 little teeth in the front, he took care of the whole thing.  He seemed delighted.

Tonight we let the kids stay up late to catch fire flies.  Christian especially loves doing that.  Benjamin didn't bother.  He went back inside after the fireworks.  Bella joined but was a little grossed out by actually having the bugs on her hands.  She caught a few and then just admired them in her jar.  Christian, however, was running all over the yard catching them, naming them, releasing them and starting over.  He had a wonderful time.  I love just looking out over the yards and seeing all the blinking lights everywhere.  I can't ever remember a year when there was such as abundance of fireflies as this year.  It was incredibly beautiful.  I love our summer evenings out catching them.  When the kids heard that there are no fireflies in Utah, they felt so sad for their cousins and vowed they could never live there.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

Bury Them Deep in the Earth

Today was another boring, montonous Covid day.  I kept feeling like I wanted to go somewhere, but there was no where to go.  It was over 90 degrees outside with a killer humidity level so outside things were unbearable.  All inside places are closed, other than the crazy, overcrowded grocery stores (due to the holiday tomorrow) so we were stuck.  I took Thea shopping in the early morning to beat the crowds and spent my time returning the last of the bottles/cans.  I was so happy to be done, but a bit dissapointed that I'd over estimated the amount I'd earn.  All total the bottle/can return yielded $550.  Not bad but since I'd banked on $700, it seemed disappointing.  Christian was shocked to hear I was disappointed by $550.  That seemed like a ton to him.  He reminded me that originally I'd expected to earn no more than $100-$200, so I should be thrilled with how things turned out.  That was a good point.  We definitely have enough money now to proceed to the next phase of our plan - purchase the supplies.

Other than that, mostly I played with Peter today.  He's getting into that really great age where he can interact and play and is just so incredibly cute.  I'm dying that I can't take him to more places and really let him learn and explore, but I'm trying to do the best I can at home.  He loves being outside.  He loves seeing everything and investigating and observing.  He would spend all day crawling around in the yard, eating pine cones and slapping at bugs.  I can't wait until he can walk and I can take him to the park and the woods and show him around there. Right now we go for stroller walks or I put him in the backpack carrier, but it'll be even better when he can walk on his own.

We also did our Come Follow Me study tonight.  We studied the chapters about the Anti-Nephi-Lehi people.  They buried their weapons deep in the earth and made a covenant with God to never use them again.  We decided to write something on a piece of paper that was keeping us from being closer to God and bury it deep in the earth in order to rid ourselves of that habit/thing.  We all wrote something and then went into the forest part of the back yard.  Christian dug a hole and we stood around it and shared what we'd written.  Benjamin refused to join us.  He'd been in a bad mood since he'd had trouble getting his new piano keyboard to work with his laptop.  He'd gotten so angry that he'd punched a hole in his desk, cutting his hand.  He'd also gritted his teeth so severely that he'd chipped one.  He generally hates family scripture study and almost always joins reluctantly, so with such a mood, he was downright surly.  He knew not coming out wasn't an option, so he laid in the hammock nearby as we shared what we'd written.  Kelly said he wanted to stop avoiding his journal and start writing more.  Christian said he wanted to bury the feeling that reading scriptures is hard and stop putting it off some mornings.  I thought that was interesting, because Christian is actually very consistent in his scripture study habit.  He reads most mornings.  I wrote something similar. I wrote "putting worldly things before prayer and scripture study."  I have a bad habit of saying "I'll pray/read my scriptures as soon as I ...."  Meaning, as soon as I clean the counter top, feed Peter, do the dishes, etc.  However, when that's done, there's another thing to do and another after that and then I forget to read/pray for several more hours.  So I end up only reading a few times/week at unideal times.  I'd like to do that differently.   Bella didn't want to share what she'd written and that was ok with me.  After everyone had thrown in their papers, we buried them and went back inside to talk about the importance of prayer and including the Lord in this process because just setting a goal like this and trying to do it all on your own is impossible.

I worry about Benjamin.  We got the marching band schedule today.  Not sure if they'll be able to meet or not, but the schedule had practices every Sunday.  As if he wasn't anti-church enough as it is.  Now he's going to be at the high school every Sunday and I have to take him.  I was very upset.  I'm so glad that marching band only lasts a few months and not the whole year.  I really hope that he doesn't like it and doesn't want to do it again.

No new pictures today, sadly.  I bought all the fixings for a BBQ and fireworks tomorrow, so hopefully I remember to take some pictures tomorrow!

Friday, July 03, 2020

He's 14!

Today was Benjamin's 14th birthday.  That is amazing to me that my little baby is now 14.  He normally wakes up about 10am, but today he was up at 6am.  He didn't want a birthday cake, just a bunch of white chocolate chip cookies.  I bought a bunch at Costco (his favorite kind) and piled them like a cake and put candles on it.  I remember when he was little we used to always have watermelon cubes piled like cake with candles in them!  Some things change, but still, he isn't a huge fan of birthday cake.  He munched on cookies the whole time he opened his presents.  He got black-out curtains (to allow him to sleep in more easily in the summer), new snorkel mask and swim shorts, a hydroflask water bottle, and a keyboard that hooks up with the computer for composing and editing music.  He was very pleased with his presents and then launched into 14 straight hours of video games and mindless streaming video content.  At 9pm I told him he needed to turn it off and he still asked for more time and gave more reasons why he needed it.

I love Benjamin very much.  I worry about him constantly as well.  I worry he has a screen addiction and it will take over his life down the road.  I worry that he's very socially self-isolated and doesn't seem to mind never seeing his friends for months on end.  I worry that he never prays, reads his scriptures, or shows any interest in anything religious.  On the other hand, I have seen him with his friends and they all seem really good together and seem to get along well.  I've also seen him work really hard and do an amazing job when the deadline requires it and he's able to forgo screens to get things done if it is required.  I've seen him give some wonderful family home evening lessons. So, I guess I'm hoping that all my worries are simply the kinds of worries that every mother has and that they're unfounded.  I'm hoping that all that intelligence, creativity, athletic ability, and grit that I see in him will come to the forefront as he matures and allow him to make something amazing happen and will help him to find a path that will bring him joy.  In the meantime, I will continue to drive him crazy with my attempts to teach and guide while he thinks he already knows everything and that I'm incredibly "thick" as he put it yesterday.

On the other end of the family spectrum, little Peter is also growing and learning so much.  Today Kelly handed him an entire banana, rather than cutting it up as I do, and I absolutely expected it to end poorly.  However, Peter loved that he had the whole thing to himself and happily ate away at it.   He tried to eat the peel about half the time, but we worked on that.  I was pretty proud of my little guy.  He and I spent a lot of time together today while the others were on the screens all day.  We went for a walk, a bike ride, we played in the yard, and read lots of books.  Yesterday I took him to the grocery store for the first time since March.  He's grown and changed so much!  He loved the store, never got fussy, and just loved looking around and taking it all in.  We looked at the fish tanks and played with the baby toys, and had a nice time out.  Normally I wouldn't have taken him into a store, but I had gotten so sick of Benjamin yesterday and his non-stop demanding and arguing about screen time (even after being on for several hours already) and I needed to get away.  The stores are pretty much the only things open, so I decided to do my grocery shopping a day early and just get out.  However, no one was willing to watch Peter, so I took him with me.  I'm really glad I did.  He was a great little shopping buddy.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Another Day on the River

After I spent 3 hours returning cans today (I'm almost done!), I convinced Bella to come kayaking.  Luckily Kelly and Benjamin were able to watch Peter so we didn't have to take him along.  It was a lot of fun for all of us, but Bella's emerging teenager was really showing.  She's become so conscious of what other people think of her that she's completely paralyzed in public situations.  We paddled happily along the river until we got to the portage.  There were lot of families and kids swimming and enjoying the deep water.  She became completely sullen and moody.  She sat like this the whole time while Christian swam around.  She hardly talked and never looked at me.  She eventually got into the water, but only stood in it, completely still.

 Finally we went back along the river and I found a nice, secluded swimming spot and she became herself again.  She and Christian found a string of seaweed, named it "Mr. Seaweed" and built it a home.   That was the Bella I know.  It was nice to see her happy.  We all had a good time and I'm so glad to have a kayak trailer and lakes/rivers so close by.

Same Old Same Old

Some days I get really tired of the monotony of our current life.  Every day feels like every other and I go a little crazy.  This weekend we've tried to break out of that a bit.  Kelly took Bella and Christian on a bike ride along the DTE energy trail.  Benjamin still hasn't been out of bed so he couldn't go and I had to stay home with Peter, but I was glad that they could go.  They had a great time and said it was a really fun trail.  I love that we have several fun outdoor things we can do with the kids - motorcycling, mountain biking, running, hiking, and kayaking.  I really would love to find somewhere we could go in July to break up the monotony a bit before our trip in August, but things are harder with Peter.  I don't want to disrupt his schedule too much.  He's finally doing a little better with his sleeping at night and I don't want to mess with it.  I'm glad we have a lot of places that are close that we can do as day trips.

Today Christian and I went on a hike in the forest at Rotary Park.  Bella didn't come.  She wanted to stay home and read.  Bella is reading a series called "Keeper of the Lost Cities" which has turned my formerly "There's too many words in that book" girl into a voracious reader.  These books are long but she reads for hours a day and is speeding through the series.  I put Peter in the front carrier and we explored trails we'd never been on before.  Whenever we got to a fork in the trail, we "chose the one less traveled by."  It made for a fun adventure.  Of course, before we could begin our adventure in the woods, we had to make a stop at the river for a cooling dip.  Christian plunged into that nasty, murky water fully clothed in long pants and long sleeved shirt.  (He'd worn those things in case of mosquitoes and poison ivy.)  I would never have done such a thing but my kids have never minded murky water and I've tried very hard never to be the "Ewww, don't touch that!" mom.  I love that they explore and discover.  He loved that he got to wear cold clothes for the rest of our hike. Christian happily sloshed around in his boots the whole rest of the time.  Peter enjoyed it too.  He was quiet and attentive to everything around him.  Only when he got tired did he start to babble to himself.  He does that whenever he's getting sleepy.

 Other things he loves/does:  If you say "corona,"  he'll cough.  It'd be a great trick to show everyone if only we could meet with other people! :)  He has started to make real word sounds when he babbles.  Most noticeably, "mama" and "dada" although he doesn't seem to have attached any meaning to those sounds yet.  He is really cruising around now.  He can walk all along the couch, over to the piano bench and the bean bag, all without getting on his knees.  He also walks around the table legs and around a ladder and then climbs the ladder and gets back down independently.  He LOVES the stairs, but I try to keep him off them as much as possible because they're always full of cat fur.  Mumbo's favorite spot to sleep is on the top step.  I hate it.  Peter really is getting so cute.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Beach? Sure, Why Not?

Today started out mundane - daily trip to the bottle return facility (it's going to take weeks to unload all these!!), piano lessons, school work, etc.  At 2:45, Christian asked if we could go to the beach.  He said he was in the mood to go swimming.  Normally I'd say no to the beach that late in the day, but we didn't have any other plans and I loved that he wanted to do something away from the screen.  So, we packed up as quickly as we could and drove to Island Lake Park.  We got there just before 4 and swam for an hour.  One hour doesn't seem like much but the weather was a bit cloudy and windy - just the low 70s - and so an hour was just perfect.  By the end of it, we were all shivering a bit and Peter was getting fussy, so we didn't mind leaving.  It was perfect.  We were home by 6 to have dinner and everyone had a great time.  I'm really glad we went.  Sadly, I didn't remember to take a single picture AGAIN! 

Peter is getting better and better at eating solids but his way of telling me he's done really leaves much to be desired.  I mentioned that if I'm spoon feeding him, he'll slap the spoon and send food flying.  If he's self feeding from his tray, he will just start swiping all the food to the floor.  Today I tried a couple new foods - pears, pinto beans - and he wasn't a fan.  So after he'd thrown them all to the floor, I tried some favorites - carrots, chicken, cheese.  He was on a destructive roll and swiped them to the floor without trying them.  Pretty soon the floor looked like this:

I gave up trying to feed him anything and just set him on the floor.  I hoped maybe he'd eat the food if it was on the floor since he eats everything else on the floor.  It actually kind of worked.  He immediately ate a few of the items and over the next 30 minutes, he ate about another half of them.  After that he'd crawled through so much of it, that I simply had to clean the rest up.  It's times like that (and only times like that) when I wish we had a dog to clean up these messes for me.

Redeeming Ourselves

After that failure of a kayaking trip on Saturday, I was dying to try again.  Only Christian felt the same way, however.  So I offered Bella $25 to baby sit Peter so Christian and I could go kayaking together.  It was the perfect kayaking trip.  One of my top three favorite ever.  It rained hard all morning so no one wanted to be out on the water, but by the time we got there at 11, the rain had stopped and it was a perfect, cloudy but warm summer day.  With only one kid, unloading and getting on the water took only minutes and we were off and having a blast in no time. 

We only saw two other boats on the water the entire time we were out there.  We saw a heron so close we could almost touch it.  We also saw tons of dragonflies and birds in a dance of death.  The dragon flies would swarm and flit over the water and the birds would swoop down and dive bomb them and then pull up fast and swoop away.  It was so fun to see all these birds and bugs flying all over around us.  A couple times a bird came so close to our heads that we could feel the rush of wind from their wings.   There were so many fish in the water too.  Some were very large.  We paddled all the way up to the portage and Christian wanted to go swimming a while up there before turning around and heading back to the car.  On the way back, he wanted a chance to try to paddle.  He found it harder than he thought and rammed us into the weeds more often than he wanted to and gave up. Next time I'll bring a paddle for him too and we can paddle together.  I think that'll be easier for him.

I absolutely love kayaking.  I love the peaceful sounds of the river, the fresh air, the exercise, the animals and nature so close and I love feeling like I'm right in the middle of it, but I'm not really interfering.  I'm just silently going by and admiring. I would have loved to stay many more hours but I had to get home to Bella and Peter.  She was having a hard time getting him to eat without slapping the spoon and was getting really frustrated with him.  He always tells you he's all done eating by slapping hard and suddenly at the spoon.  He's gotten food all over me at times, not to mention his tray, seat, floor, cupboards, and himself.  I'm currently doing a laundry load that includes 4 pairs of pants which were spoiled by Peter slapping his spoon and sending his food airborne.  She was texting me when I'd be home, so we rushed a bit.  I really wish Bella would have wanted to come along because I think she would have liked it.