Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Extravaganza!

This week was one giant overly-frosted sugar cookie. I have cavities from it.

No, seriously...I have cavities. First ones in my life. Like, 28 years of perfection, and then suddenly, BOOM! Four cavities all at once. I blame them on Kennedy, for changing my PH balance while she was occupying my body (it happens) but really? FOUR?!! I had my first two filled this Thursday, and I'll go in this Tuesday to get the next two done. I was a baby and had to hold the dental assistant's hand while they gave me the numbing shot, but after that it was quite enjoyable. I mean, when else can I lay back in a chair during the middle of the day and watch TV without anybody interrupting me? It was like a vacation. I'm just upset about my broken track record of perfection. Dang PH balance.

Before we get to the holiday events, I just need to mention the adorable little Kindergarten Program Bennett participated in on Friday. He wore a chicken hat (need I say more?!) and was one of the handful of children assigned an actual speaking part. His one line of script was practiced diligently over the last several weeks, and when it came time to deliver it he did so with great gusto and pride.

"Cheep, cheep, cheep the chickens say. They lay eggs all night and day!" 

It was like Shakespeare himself had written the words. This was followed by several songs about chickens and ducks and farmers doing hoe-downs, and we ate up every single moment of that wiggly little five-year-old shaking his plastic egg and waving to us at inappropriate moments. I am so happy we captured the entire performance on camera. We will cherish it always. Also, it will be a wonderful blackmailing tool when Bennett gets a little older.

The rest of the week was pink and red and sugar-frosted Valentine fun. Matt and I are incredibly romantic, and we both gave deeply thought-out gifts that demonstrated our unyielding love to one another. Matt got me a new iphone case. It is indestructible and has a picture of our three destructive children on the back of it. I love it! I gave Matt a morning of coyote hunting with his buddy on Valentine's Day. Doesn't get much more romantic than that.

The theme for Story Time this week was "Valentine's Day", so I did a lot with that. (Did I mention I help run the Story Time program for the City of Killdeer? I'll post something later...) For Bennett's Night Out with me this week we melted crayons into the shape of hearts and made valentines for his class. Thursday was his kindergarten class Valentine's Day party, and yesterday our family hosted a Valentine's Day Extravaganza where 29 fantastic friends (16 adults and 13 kids) filled our home.

Our party started accidentally a few weeks ago, when we realized we had signed up to feed the missionaries from our ward on Valentine's Day. We felt like it would be more fun if we invited another family over for dinner as well, and make an evening out of it. And then, as long as Family A was coming over, maybe we should just invite Family B as well. And maybe Family C. And what about couple D? And pretty soon the next thing you know, we had a rip-roaring all-out legitimate par-taaay on our hands and it couldn't have been funner! (quick side note: spell check didn't underline the word "funner" when I typed it just now. They must have given up on teaching people like me the correct use of comparative adjectives.)

So Matt made BBQ chicken and deep-fried breaded walleye fish that was soooo good. And I am not a fish person. I baked about three dozen sugar cookies in the shape of hearts, and made a bunch of different colors of frosting with sprinkles and icing bags and candy to go with it. We had some neighborhood kids over to help us decorate the house, filled a bunch of candy bowls with more sugary stuff, made sure the bathrooms were clean, and opened our doors to the friends and food and games that came rolling in. We had a cookie decorating contest for the kids, and the adults played Heads Up and Chubby Bunny (Matt threw up) while the littles watched Big Hero 6 in the basement and ate pink popcorn. It was a great big loud laid-back night, and I think we may make a tradition of it. We really do have some great friends here.

Now I am sugared out and we just had someone drop a cheesecake off at our door. Oh man. I don't think I can do it...on second though, it is a cheesecake...

Better alert my dentist.

 Kennedy has discovered the pure joy that eating solid foods can bring. She is a happy girl. Her official highchair arrives this week (I hope!)

 Patton Buddy at Story Time. This little boy is really coming into his own. He cracks us up.

 Story Time Buddies.

 Bennett's crayon valentines melting into hearts. He put them in little goody bags that said, "Have a colorful Valentine's Day!" I think a lot of the kids in his class tried to eat them...

This is one of the best pictures I could get of Bennett during his program from where I was sitting. That dang kid in the duck hat kept standing right in front of him every time I pulled my phone out. Also, that little girl he's standing next to is named Haley. They are best friends, and I have a plan to get them to marry and have two Haley Hargraves in the family. Bennett says he's cool with that, as long as they sleep in bunk beds.

 The Big Moment!

 Matt and Kennedy at Bennett's program.

 My wettest Valentine's kiss

 The cookie decorating contest

 Patton's cookie was very abstract. 

 Bennett's cookie is under all that frosting...somewhere...

 Bennett snuck into the garage today while everyone was napping after church and painted a cardboard box with my craft paints. Not a huge deal, but still breaking enough rules that he earned himself an early bedtime. This is Patton feeling awesome that he got some extra one-on-one puzzle time with us after Bennett was out of the picture.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Big Babies and Little Talks

Here we go! Three weeks in a row! And you should know that my writing of this post tonight is a complete symbol of my dedication to The Blog, as the tip of my middle finger on my right hand has completely split open from all this wonderful dry weather, and each time I push the backspace button, or the letters i, k, o, p, l, and the , and . buttons I feel like I am going to loose that finger altogether. In fact, it would be a welcome relief at this point.

This week we went to the doctors. Not for my finger (although maybe I should have mentioned it.) We went in for Kennedy's 6 month well baby check up, and Patton's 30 month weigh-in. What is a 30 month weigh-in, you ask? It is something doctors make you do if your child has been labeled "failure to thrive" due to significant scrawniness. And have you seen Patton? Scrawny. So each time Kennedy gets a check up, so does Patton. I have told the doctors (the ones in Texas, the ones in Oklahoma, and the one here who we actually really love) that Patton is just a little guy. He eats. He sleeps. He plays. And he comes from a long line of scrawny men. But they insist on the weigh-ins, just to be safe. As of now, Patton is still well below the weight of an average two-and-a-half year old, landing somewhere in the 6th percentile. But since he is healthy in every other way, we are good to go. I even had to break out the next size up of clothing for him this last week, so he is finally in a size 2T and some 3T! I think on the next visit I will just bring in a family picture.

Kennedy, on the other hand, is thriving. She is landing herself somewhere in the upper 80th percentile for both height and weight, which is downright chunky for our family. In fact, when the nurse saw us she said, "Oh my goodness! I can't believe she's nine months old already!"...she's not. But she is wearing 9-12 month clothing, and in some cases 12-18 month tops. When Kennedy has her clothes off she has such delicious rolls I just want to squeeze her and roll her around like a big ball of soft, white play dough. She is starting to eat solid foods now, too. So it can only get better from here. I have always secretly hoped that one day one of my children would play on a football team so I can paint my face and cheer in the stands. Maybe Kennedy will be the one to help me fulfill that dream :)

(As a quick side note, Bennett has always been right at the 50th percentile mark for height and weight. Interesting how different these little bodies are growing.)

Bennett had a good week at school and didn't get any notes sent home from the principal or start one food fight in the cafeteria (this is a serious milestone for us.) He did, however, decide to take his shirt off and wash it in the bathroom sink one day after lunch (why..?) His teacher gave him a sweatshirt to wear home. He also got his report card this week. On a scale of one to three, with three being the highest, Bennett scored all threes! Whoop-whoop! Wait, there was one two in there under "handwriting" which was probably lenient of his teacher considering he consistently writes like a doctor filling out prescriptions. We are super proud of him though, especially since one of those threes was next to, "Listens attentively and follows classroom rules". Yay Bennett!! Maybe he will make it to the first grade after all! Or maybe his teacher just forgot about that hole he poked in her table last week...

Matt had drill this weekend (he leaves from Friday night to Sunday afternoon one weekend a month to participate with the North Dakota National Guard), so the kids and I hung out with friends and played a little tennis at the rec center, then went out to pizza and shopping for Valentine's Day. It was on this day I discovered that my kids have exactly ZERO interest in tennis. Most people, actually, have zero interest in tennis. I picked a dying sport. But we still had a lot of fun running around the courts and throwing balls and playing "Mother May I?"

This morning we all woke up at our ridiculous crack-of-dawn hour to get to church, and were almost completely ready when I decided to look out the window for the first time. And what did I see? Ice. Lots, and lots of ice from all the snow melting, then freezing overnight. It was at that exact moment that my neighbor called and told me the highways were shut down, and the members of our ward coming from Killdeer would not be able to attend church. Why couldn't I have known about this before waking my kids up at an unholy hour?! So we spent the day watching Veggie Tales and the classic Annie (which is sooooo long!!) and attending Bennett's makeshift Primary in his room with his stuffed animals.

Bennett's little church was incredibly cute and complete with opening prayer, Singing Time lead by me, a sacrament of marshmallows (which we ate liberally) and talks by Patton and himself. Bennett actually gave a great talk about Jesus being tired and letting the little children come to Him anyway. It really made me think about the way I act with my own little children when I am tired, which has been often lately. (Kennedy is driving me up a wall!) Sleep is all-important around here, and when there isn't enough of it tempers tend to get shorter and voices tend to get louder. Usually when I hear the story of Jesus not turning the little children away I think about how He loved the children and how He loves me. But today I realized that I need to relate that story to my own life in a different way. How, even when I am tired (or busy, or impatient) I too, need to "suffer the little children" and treat them the way our Savior would--with love and kindness and patience. Most of the best lessons in life come when you least expect from a five-year-old using his hamper as a pulpit.

So there's our week in a nutshell. Matt is using his laptop right now to begin our tax-paying process (oh joy) so I will have to upload pictures later. Probably tomorrow. So until then, have a great week!

And maybe go learn how to play tennis.

 Bennett choking down the homemade macaroni and cheese I made. To his credit, he ate his five bites.

 So close to crawling!! I have such mixed emotions about this...

 Playing tennis...or should I say, eating apple slices and laying on the court...

 Tennis is soooo fun!!

 The cheer leading section

 Can we go home now?

 Still got it!

Finally! Something entertaining to do!

 Patton's turn

 Church with the stuffed animals. 

 Helping Patton give his talk on Joseph Smith. I love these stinkers

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Weekend Warriors

It is Sunday and our house is completely quiet.
Did you hear me? I said our house is completely quiet. That doesn't happen around here.

Sunday mornings are a mass of chaos--trying to bathe and dress three sleepy kids and two sleepy adults, stuffing crusts of toast into little mouths while planning hurried Primary lessons, and dashing to the car only to find we've forgotten somebody's shoes, and where are those dang shoes, anyway?! Church starts at 9:00am this year, which for us means we need to LEAVE the house at 8:00am. Partially because we live so far away, partially because Matt is in our family and you aren't "on time" unless you are sitting in your seat 15 minutes before the opening song.

Church is three hours long, where I serve as Primary Chorister (I lead the children's music) and Matt teaches the eight and nine year olds in the Valiant 8 class. It's fun to be in Primary together, and I especially enjoy having the power to make Matt perform "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" anytime I deem worthy. Bennett is in the CTR 6 class this year, and every time I look at him sitting on the second row I am shocked to realize that my baby is growing up! Most Sundays Bennett does fairly well with listening and participating, but some Sundays I fell like we would all benefit from a good long stretch away at some distant Military School. But he is five and wiggly and learning, so we will be patient. We. Will. Be. Patient.

Patton goes to Nursery each week with the other littles who are between the ages of 18 months and three. He is learning to love his time there and is always excited to bring me his scribbled coloring pages they make with titles such as "Jesus Loves Me!" on them. Kennedy is just as easy-going at church as she is everywhere else, and each week upon entering the chapel doors we forfeit parental ownership of her as she is passed from adoring family to adoring family to be hugged and cuddled. She loves the attention, and I love the freedom of my hands and arms to do other making silent threats at our other two children like a deranged mime. Our ward is large and loud with lots of little kids and big families and good friends and good feelings.

Once church is over we drive three exhausted humans home, who usually fall asleep in the car. And every week Matt and I look hopefully at each other and say, "Maybe we can get a nap in, too." And every week, as soon as we pull into the driveway, our three newly re-energized humans snap to and make it quite clear that we will not be taking a nap, but will in fact be coloring and playing board games and watching church related videos and making family dinners and Skyping friends and relatives and keeping in a constant state of business until it is bedtime, and we can all collapse into our beds and breath a sigh of relief...until we realize that it is Monday tomorrow, and that means school and work and the start of a whole new week.

And I love it.

Life is loud and busy and full of crazy schedules and quiet moments and time-outs and cuddles and badly-timed jokes from a five-year-old and an easily amused two-year-old who will always laugh at them. Today Patton wasn't feeling well though. So I stayed home with him and Kennedy while Matt took Bennett to church. And now there is quiet music playing while they both sleep, and I am writing this blog post in complete silence. And it's true what they say. Silence is golden.

This week was a typical week. Bennett went to school, Matt went to work, I stayed home and was the power behind the throne. The weather this week was BEAUTIFUL though, which is very a-typical for North Dakota in January. The sun was not only shinning but was even a little bit warm, and almost all of the snow melted. It was an awesome spring-like break right in the middle of the drudgery of winter and it gave me hope that there was, in fact, an end to this state of darkness (also known as the state of North Dakota).

Because of the great weather we spent a lot of time outside this week playing at the park and going on walks and getting ridiculously muddy doing so. I did a lot of laundry this week. I did even more laundry after our toilet got drastically clogged and a plumber had to come snake down twenty feet of pipe before finding the blockage. Who knows what it was down there. Kids are fun.

Friday night we went out to dinner and then ice skating with some friends. The Young Men and Young Women's groups were at the skating rink as well, and Bennett made more friends in a single hour than I could ever hope to find in a lifetime. He was skating with a different group of giggling teenagers each time I checked on him and he actually got pretty good at staying upright and skating (cautiously) around the rink by himself toward the end of the night. Patton went around a few times with Matt and me, but he has never been one for ice or forced activity, so he didn't last long. Kennedy was once again held and adored by numerous groups of young women and their adult leaders. She repaid their kindness by showering them with affectionate smiles and hugs. Kennedy is a fantastic hugger--like a baby monkey. We all had a great time and have the aching muscles and blisters to prove it.

Saturday morning we went over to the same ice skating friends' home for a delicious breakfast and then worked on sealing bags of dry milk and potato flakes for our food storage project (more on that later). Around noon our family called it quits and headed back into Dickinson for some swimming at the rec center with another group of friends. Bennett and Patton both did great swimming, and I dare say Bennett might be able to swim without a life jacket by the time he is seventeen. Patton improved greatly as well, moving all the way from "help-me-help-me-I-am-going-to-die!" to being willing to float in the water unassisted for several seconds at a time. I'm not sure what we did to our children to make them so afraid of the water, but they are getting over it...slowly...

By the time we were done swimming it was snowing and cold and back to (stupid) normal January weather, so we decided to welcome it back with a homemade hot chocolate and movie night. We invited yet another set of friends over to enjoy it with us, and we all had a good time watching the new Annie and spilling large amounts of popcorn and hot chocolate all over the floor of our basement.

And now it is Superbowl Sunday. And Patton is feeling better, and Matt and Bennett are home from church, and I think for the first time in a long time we are NOT going to have a Superbowl party. Well, at least not the kind where a lot of other people come over. We are going to have a family non-Superbowl party and eat all the good food (fried chicken and mashed potatoes and jalapeno poppers and brownies) and just not watch the game. Because we really don't care about anything besides the food anyway.

But trust me. If I were to bet on the game, I would be right.

She is just awesome!

Playing in the mud. I put this up on Instagram and everybody kept making comments like, "You are such a fun mom!" I told Matt I just had to laugh. I was definitely NOT a fun mom when this little stinker decided it would be a good idea to literally wallow in the mud. Like a pig. With all of his clothes on. But he had already done it so I decided to make the best of it and take a picture. And besides, look how happy he is. How can you say "No" to that face?

Fresh from the bath after playing outside and eating lunch on the trampoline.

Playing in the boxes our WeatherTech floor liners for our new van came in. In this weather we'll definitely need them!

Playing with Patton. These two have a good thing going :)

Ice skating, the "before" picture. 
(Bennett's pose...oh my...)

Ice skating, the "after" picture. Patton had such a good time!

Kennedy's ice skating experience. Not as exciting but just as fun.