Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How you know your 2 year old is obsessed with Star Wars

(We can't remember if we've ever had a kid with this level of obsession.  It's super fun.)

1. He knows pretty much every character by sight.  ("Lukewalker", "Bohba Fett", "Soda", "Pincess Yeia," he says them all so adorably.  I could go on and on.)

2.  He watches YouTube clips on Star wars before nap time and bedtime for 2 months straight.  No comment on whether watching Obi Wan slice Darth Maul in half before sending a 2 year old to bed is awesome parenting or not.

3.  He was to play StarWars with his Dad EVERY DAY.  MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY.  (Poor Ryan said one day "if I have to play fight one more time, I'm going to lose my mind."  But then he did.  And he still has his mind, so phew.)

4.  His favorite shirts are his "soda shirt" or his "star fars one".

5.  He freaks out every time a babysitter comes over...unless she brings her family's entire star wars guys collections and then he's COMPLETELY fine.

6.  He asks every time he gets in the car, "I bring my guys, mom?" referring to the Star Wars chess set bought for Gabe years ago.  (It's so great.  There are tons of them and easily portable and pretty durable.)  He also asks for a baggie in which to tote them"so they no get yost, wight, Mom?" and makes sure "you zip it up, wight, Mom?"

7.  Many meltdowns are averted by discussing his Star Wars guys.  He may be irrational but at least he's distractible!

8. He notices EVERY product placement advertisement for Star Wars and has since he was REALLY little.  He wasn't 2 years old, when we passed a twinkie box or something and he said "Dat BB8, wight, Mom?"

9.  He says to his dad: "Dad, I wanna be Sith."
Dad: "You want to be a Sith?"
Levi:  "yeah, a Sith."
Dad: "Why do you want to be a Sith??"
Levi: "because there's power in the Dark Side."
(Well, okay then.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Quick Quote

Seth: "I'm working on a piano composition."

Teacher: "What's it like?" 

Seth: "It kind of has a lot of rests..."

Thursday, June 30, 2016

End of school year recap

Just trying to keep things semi up to date and I find I really enjoy adding little details in these recaps that I'd miss if I just relied on Instagram as a record keeper.

May was just really really crazy as every single sport coincided for about 3 weeks.  I felt like I had a soccer game or track meet (middle school, JV or varsity) every day of the week. Working out carpools and getting to the majority of the stuff (especially with a 2 year old in tow) was nuts.  But actually my favorite.  I love this part of parenting.  Not the part where Levi, EVERY SINGLE TIME, would squat in a little ball on the ground (because it was the most difficult for me to get a hold of) and refuse to move, especially when he knew we were in a hurry to get to the next event.  

But I do love watching their sports.  Jane has a great coach and a great group of girls with whom she plays.  They win about half the time, but it's a positive environment and the coach is really understanding about other sports and no Sunday play.  She also ran distance on the track team and did some long jump.  She's fast and placed 5th in districts in the mile and improved her time by 30 seconds over the season, ending with a 6:11 PR.

Gabe was the star 2 miler again this year.  He'd had a stress fracture in the off season (luckily) and was ready to train in time for the season.  He is good at the mile but really shines in the 3200.  He had some lofty goals (as always) and was able to attain most of them.  He easily made it to the regional meet.  He had to place 3rd to make it to state and since he'd placed 3rd at the district meet, I was nervous.  It was an exciting, fast race and in the last lap he raced the top 3 guys and ended up in 3rd with a PR of 9:28.  He ended up going to state and had a dissappointing race (finished 11th, with a pretty slow time) but everyone really reinforced that going to state as a sophomore is awesome.  You get the nerves out of the way and have 2 more years to really figure out how to race at that level.  We love his coaches and teammates and are so proud of him.

Emma pole vaulted again this year.  She is on the JV squad and sometimes feels frustrated with her progress.  She doesn't spend a ton of time training outside of the season, which is probably why there's not huge changes, but she worked hard during the season.  She loves her coach and teammates and hopefully learned some stuff to help her next year.
My big kids had a busy end of school, with a  few AP tests and some projects.  They are pretty good students (not perfect or 4.0 by any means) but enough where I don't get too involved.  I figure they know the kind of students they need to be to get into hard colleges (aka BYU) and they can choose to do the work if they want to.  

Jane worked hard this year in her advanced classes and got better grades every semester.  She especially worked hard in her challenging math class and just barely missed the 94% required for an A, but we were impressed with how she learned to be successful in that class.

Seth does well at school, has friends and a sweet teacher.  He indicated that he wanted to go back to "Neuro" and when I asked him why, he said he thought maybe it could help him concentrate better again.  I think it just means that ADD will make the focus and organization that school requires a little bit of a challenge.  He finished elementary school this year and will head to the middle school, which is always a little scary, with each kid.  Liberty Lake has been a great place for him.

Faith ended up loving her teacher, Mrs. Boni, though that wasn't how she felt at the beginning of the year.  Mrs. Boni had high standards and I think it was a little bit stressful as Faith watched others have trouble reaching those standards.  Faith is really good at school and was often assigned to help struggling kids.  She had good friends and learned a lot.

There's always the cutest fundraiser at the end of the school year, where the kids run and count their laps.  Faith was hardcore trying to have the most laps in her class (she succeeded of course) and someone with a older brother named Levi, brought this for Levi to wear while he cheered the kids on.

I got rear ended by a 16 year old boy at the end of May.  It was a pain in the neck to get all the instuance stuff figured out, but it was all covered.  I got a sweet high end rental vehicle and was sad to give it up, but the Pilot looked so shiny and new after all the body work they did, that it was okay in the end.

We saw Newsies as a family...used Grandma's Christmas money for those tickets.  It was fun to go as a family, but I don't think we were bowled over.  I think good seats make a difference!  And the story was hard for the younger ones to follow.  The dancing was good and Emma was in love with the cute boys, so it was a worthwhile family activity in the end.

We've done a little Mom and Me playgroup with some friends. I like it because it kind of forces me to do organized activities with Levi.  I was in charge of May's activities and decided to go visit the big cat zoo we have here in Liberty Lake.  It's a rescue facility and kind of small and sad, but we had a good tour guide and it was a fun way to spend an hour.

The boys went on a father-son camp out, which was a struggle due to 400 activities on Friday and Saturday.  Ryan missed Gabe's regional mile race in order to get out to the camp out with Seth and Levi before dinner.  They had a good time with friends and dads but about 2am Ryan showed up at home.  He said Levi was a ridiculous tent sleeper, and spent the whole night thinking the snoring Dads were actually bears: "Dad, I scarred. A bears out dere, Dad?" So Ryan packed up and headed home.

Our ward and stake got reorganized in the last two months.  We lost about 1/4 of our ward and then a few stakes.  Ryan and I kept our callings (Primary 1st Counselor and Scoutmaster/YM 1st Counselor) but the smaller YM/YW has been an adjustment for everyone.  Our stake lost 2 wards and got a new presidency (Uncle Kevin is the first counselor) and we got to sit in for the setting apart.  It was a really near, confirming experience for all of us.

We had a crazy hot spring.  We were even swimming in early May! But, as is Spokane's tradition, the last day of school was rainy and freezing and kind of put a damper on festivities.  Seth's end of school tunnel was indoor and the outdoor party was soggy, but I wanted to include some pictures.

and PROM:  Emma went to Mormon Prom with a guy she didn't know super well, but said it was the most fun dance she's been to.  She got to go with her friends Cassey and Alexis and their dates and of course she looked gorgeous.

Mothers Day:  Always lovely because everyone works hard cooking and we get to do my favorite Sunday things, which includes walks around pretty gardens.

Jane had her 13th birthday.  We celebrated on the day with food and lunch out with dad and fruit pizza and presents.  She had a birthday breakfast party a few weeks later with friends.  We did a pancake bar (they loved my homemade pancakes!) and some silly party games.  She has THE NICEST group of girls her age.

While Gabe was running regionals, Ryan and I had a little alone overnight getaway in Seattle (because we have kids old enough to stay home!!) We did a fun run, yummy breakfast and some fun Seattle sightseeing, before we headed to the stadium to watch our boy run.

This is already too long and super boring, and I'm sure I missed stuff, but it's better than nothing, right?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Parenting Teenagers

NEWFLASH: parenting teenagers is different than parenting little kids! This is probably so obvious, but for the sake of journaling, I thought I'd write about my feelings about it.

I've been doing it for a few years, but I feel like the last little bit (older teenagers, 3 at a time) has really changed how mothering feels for me.  It's harder, I think, but probably only because I'm a routine person.  I spent(10-15) years learning how to parent little ones and now I have to learn something new.

Parenting big kids is so much more cerebral I think.  It's less physical (pick up the kids, wipe their noses, buckle the carseat, watch them at the park) and more mental (thinking through interactions,  deciding on consequences, stifling urges to control, etc.) I will never understand people who say they need outside work so their brains don't turn to mush.  Mothering requires so much hard mental work for me, especially now. 

I feel like with little kids it was clear:  they need to be respectful, they need sleep, they need to eat good food, they need to learn, they need to get out and do interesting things, they need to learn to contribute.  I felt like I was really good at setting up systems and being consistent so that those needs were met.  Not that I was perfect, but I felt like I kinda knew what I was supposed to do.

With teenagers, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M SUPPOSED TO DO.  Here are some questions with which I wrestle (and, in the end, usually have different answers for different kids):
  • do I care if his hair is long? 
  • how much input do I have on modesty?
  • should I make them redo this crappily done job or just let it go?
  • is a curfew really important?
  • How much do I check and give consequences for grades?
  • how much do I push getting a job, an eagle scout, an extra curricular activity?
  • how much do I require them to be with the family?
  • should 15-17 year olds be allowed to take road trips?
  • how do I manage those #$@* cell phones?
  • how do I handle poor driving?
  • do I set limits on the sports they play?
I am not a helicopter parent by any means but I'm also very rigid in my head on how I want my kids to be, so I'm constantly trying to balance those two competing characteristics. I want to be involved enough but I don't want to force them to conform to my very narrow ideas.  I'm learning that I feel most frustrated when I make who they are and their behavior some sort of reflection on me and my parenting, so I'm trying to notice when that DUMB way of looking at things is driving my interactions with them.

Going along with that:  you kind of can't make them do stuff anymore.  You can't make them be nice to someone, you can't make them get a job, you can't make them care about how the house looks, you can't make them be reverent at church.  You can have consequences (but should you for all of these things?? Who even knows...) but you can't actually MAKE them do stuff.  I have REALLY good kids and  they really want to be good people, and so more and more, I'm learning that they respond best when I teach a principle first and then talk about applications.  For example, we were concerned about cell phone use and so we taught a family home evening about temperance.  As we concluded the lesson, we talked about our new plan to keep phones on the main level of the house (and to try it for a month and get feedback) and they were really good about it.

Another thing: they see you for who you really are.  My kids are respectful, but they call me on stuff. They will tell me if I'm seeming hypocritical, or unfair, or unreasonable.  It's a little hard for a slight perfectionist.  I'm trying to listen and evaluate and respond in a way that invites them to keep being honest with me.  It's hard.

There are lots of good things!  I can see them becoming adults (and I like it!)  All those years of wondering and now I can see glimpses.  Also, they are very funny and interesting.  I love when things are quiet and we can start talking and I really enjoy the conversations.  I appreciate especially the extra responsibilities you can give teenagers: trips to the grocery store, childcare, help with cooking, around the house projects, help on trips.  I like their friends.  I like that they are better at some things than I am, and they teach me: sewing with Emma, running with Gabe.  

I really really love them and really really know I lucked out.  I hope I can figure this stage out okay.  In the end, I feel Heavenly Father prompting me when I need it the most, and I'm relying on His help to not fail.  What a refining challenge this job is!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Quick Quote

Levi is "SO NA-NOYED" basically any time he doesn't get what he wants. 
I had no idea our family was so annoying, until Levi came around and informed us.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kitchen renovation post

When we moved into this house 9.5 years ago, I didn't love the kitchen.  I didn't love the how brown and warm it was.  I didn't love the backsplash and after a year or two I began to LOATHE the tile.  (WHY DO PEOPLE EVER PUT TILE IN KITCHENS??? The clean up is so impossible.) But you don't buy a new house and redo anything, so I lived with it.  I love how the kitchen is set up and how big it is.  I made lots of yummy food in this kitchen.

Ryan finally got tired of the difficult, easily broken tile and we decided that after almost 10 years, we could justify a surface, kitchen renovation.  We wanted clean, cool surfaces...leaning toward a modern look, while staying true to the house's craftsman design. 

We decided to tear down the upper level of the bar.  I've liked it...it hides mess, and makes a great serving surface, but we thought it would be more modern if it was one level, and really liked the idea of having some bar seating (especially since we have filled our table and have issues when we have guests over.) I love the blue barstools, which add color, and we have loved having some close-to-the-kitchen hanging out space.

We decided to have the cabinets painted...it's much cheaper than new cabinets, and honestly what we had was quality.  It was way more expensive than we thought, but the company had come recommended.  It was AMAZING how it lightened up the entire house.  We chose brushed gold, modern pulls/hardware and they add a fun touch.


We decided to do two-toned paint and different countertops.  We did white paint on the wall cabinets, with a gray, almost cement looking quartz countertop.  The island is kind of opposite, with a gray paint on the cabinets and a white speckled quartz countertop.  I can't even tell you the joy of not digging out red pepper seeds from tiled grout.  Our kitchen probably stays cleaner because it's so easy to wipe down.

I wanted a very minimal, yet interesting, backsplash.  I chose a white medium hexagon with a very light gray grout and it is one of my favorite parts of the kitchen.

Another of my favorite things is my new sink.  It's HUGE.  You can have an entire meal's worth of dishes in there and you can't even see them.  It honestly makes my life feel less chaotic, because I can't see dishes in my sink! And the wiping right into the sink instead of over a weird border lip thing?  Heaven. We picked a brass, modern faucet (to replace the CONSTANTLY breaking one that came with the house.)

We made a few changes to the dining room, replacing the not so cute chandelier with this beaut and doing some restyling to my green hutch.

As far as extra decor goes, we've decided to keep it simple.  A few plants, blue barstools and a pretty light green faux roman shade seems to be enough to add color, but keep the calm, quiet feeling I was going for in my new kitchen.  Thanks for checking it out.  (Honestly, you realize how talented home decor photographers are when you try to do it yourself.  Not quite the crisp, well lit, kid free photos I've seen on pinterest, but oh well!)