Sunday, November 29, 2009

He's Baaaack!!!!

After a long, long wait, Fred the elf has finally returned. Really, my kids ask all the time (all during the year), when Fred will be back. I kept telling them that he would probably show up around the 1st of December, but after a less than reverent sacrament meeting today, (Where both Shawn and I had to take kids out multiple times), I came home and put in a call to Santa to see if by any chance he could sent Fred a little earlier. And thanks to Santa's Christmas magic, all of a sudden Fred was here. Amelia and Megan were so excited, they were running and jumping all around. It's a good thing, because I need Fred's eyes to make sure we all stay on the nice list this year. (Plus I can hear my girls talking to Fred right now and telling him what they want for Christmas.) More info here


I am thankful for a lot of things. Most of all, my family and the chance to be with most of them for the holiday, but as we were driving back from St. George this year and we were approaching Beaver, I couldn't help but remember the trauma from last year's drive home. So, I am also very thankful that we arrived home safely -without any damage to the car.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Positive Reinforcement

Before, I get into my next little segment, let me just begin by saying that I love being a mother. I do. However, it is really hard. It is a thankless and exhausting job that I usually feel like I am not doing particularly well no matter how hard I try or work at it. I get lots of "You hate me", or "you are a meanie!", and whining and complaining and so forth. And I am the first to admit that dividing my time 5 ways has been a struggle. Most of the time I feel like I am barely holding it all together (or that I'm not at all.) However, every once in awhile one of the kids surprises me. Like when I was pulling all of the papers and things out of Jonas' backpack and found this book that he had made at school about dragons and magic and stuff. I opened it and found this dedication at the front:

(Sorry for the poor photo quality - it says, "to Mom and Dad for putting the magic in my life")

Well...maybe I'm doing OK after all. (And I don't mean to say that I don't ever get positive reinforcement in this role, because I do. Listening to my kids play and laugh or seeing their faces light up when they see me, their sweet hugs and sweet words make it all worth it. But getting a little extra doesn't hurt.)
Also, we are always working to teach our children to be good people, and often worry (based on their behavior) that we are failing miserably, but in this book, I got a little glimpse that maybe some of it has sunk in after all. Jonas wrote a "code of behavior". It says, "I want to be my best by being kind to other people, doing my best work, listening" (Oh, maybe there is hope!!!! If only being kind to other people could also include his sisters.) He also wrote: "1. Don't underestimate self, 2. Be proud of your work, 3. Stand up for others" Really, if Jonas could follow this code of behavior all the time, I would think he was doing a pretty good job.
Nothing like a little positive reinforcement to make me realize how blessed I am. I am so grateful to be a mom to these wonderful kids.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Mall Hijacking

So, I was at the mall today (which thankfully is a relatively rare event). And as is usually the case when trying to reach a destination in the mall, I put my head down and moved as quickly as I could (with a stroller and a 3 year old) and tried to keep from making eye contact with any of the kiosk workers who might try to sell me something. But, at the end of my necessary errand, while carrying the baby and a shopping bag while still pushing the stroller, my defenses were down and I was caught.
The lady lured Duffy in with promises of giving her princess hair. (Of course, it didn't help that she was still dressed in her leotard and sparkly tutu from ballet.) Fine, sure, why not. So with her fancy curling iron, she gets to work. I'm sure that when she found out I had 3 girls all with lots of hair, she had found her target consumer audience. I nodded through all of her fancy talk about negative ion technology, beautiful, shiny curls, no heat damage, blah, blah blah. I'm bouncing a crying baby, trying to be nice. Meanwhile, Duffy is smiling and admiring her fancy hair in the big pink mirror the lady handed her. She starts telling me how much money I can save on salon visits by doing the hair myself. (Uh...this would only be true if there actually were salon visits. Hello, they are 8 and under. I don't even go to the salon.) Anyway, I tell her thank you and I will have to think about it. So she offers me her 30% employee discount. Then she tries to draw me in by throwing in a $75 bottle of hair serum - for free. (Now at least I'm starting to be slightly interested in her offer.) Then she starts whispering to me about how it's a little more complicated but she can make it look like the last person who bought a whole set, just added mine on as an extra - for a great 2 for 1 deal. Okay, isn't this getting to be just a little dishonest? But mostly I'm just thinking how grateful I am that my livelihood does not depend on me being able to make a sale from a kiosk in the mall. (No offense to anyone whose livelihood does depend on just such a sale - but for me it would be miserable.) In the end, I escaped the hijacking, without making a purchase - relatively unscathed even. (I am considering it - just like I said I would - just not very seriously. I can probably never get back to that great deal again, after all.) I lost a bit of my valuable time, but Duffy did still end up with her beautiful princess hair.

I'll let you know if the curls actually last for 2 whole days even after they've been combed. But the price is going to have to come down a bit before I actually consider buying it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An Early Christmas Present

As a general rule, I don't like to get ahead of myself on holidays. No Christmas before Thanksgiving and so on. But for quite some time now, we have been suffering with a very slow computer. I have loved my iMac, but I've had it for 6 or 7 years, and we had maxed out the memory and who knows what else. So with the touch of every button, we have played the waiting game - never knowing just how long it would take for the computer to actually respond to the command. And too many commands at once or too many open windows would shut the whole thing down. We've been talking about a new computer for months, and something must have nudged Shawn a little. (He may have finally lost patience with the computer.) He decided we needed to go computer shopping, and once he makes that sort of decision, it's time to act, and so here we are with our early Christmas present - the new computer.It is of course, a new iMac, but the screen is huge. When I asked Shawn why I needed a screen this big, he just looked at me like I was nuts. Why wouldn't I need a screen this big? I was afraid the computer would overwhelm the space on my desk, but now that it's here I don't mind it.
The keyboard is much smaller and since everything is wireless, with no extra speakers, I actually have more desk space than I used to!

It's kind of like David and Goliath (only we like both David and Goliath in this story.) And I guess that now I can see what the kids are working on from clear across the room. Two iMacs - one for the kids and one for me (and Shawn). I think we're all happy with this, but I can't get the kids to stop playing with photobooth on my new computer!

7 Months Old

This post is about 2 weeks over due, since Peter turned 7 months on Halloween, but here it is. I can't believe this little guy is already this big. I can't believe how fast it has gone. He is such a sweet baby for the most part. He cries when he is hungry (you would think his heart is broken the way he cries if I decide to change his diaper before feeding him) and when he is left alone in a room. He just likes to have people around him I guess.
At 7 months, he sits up very well. He is very smiley and social. He refuses to take a bottle, and has decided he hates all baby food. He gags and chokes on whatever it is I try to get him to eat if it comes in a baby food container. It's getting pretty tough to feed him appropriate foods. He seems pretty interested in whatever we eat, but I don't really know if he's ready for pizza - although he seems to like the taste. Sleeping hasn't been going so great, but there has been some major improvement and I have hope again that we will all survive.
His first tooth just broke through 2 nights ago. I'm sad to see his sweet little toothless grin disappear, because it will never be the same, but I am still loving watching his personality emerge and I can't imagine our family with out him.


Everyone slept. All night. In their own beds. Now I have to take Megan to McDonalds, but it was worth the bribe just to get a little sleep.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Update #2

That's it!!!!  I'm moving out - at least for the nights.  Either that or giving away a couple of kids.  The 3 and under crowd are not earning their keep around here.  It's never good when you need a nap before 7 in the morning.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sleep Update

For those of you who may be wondering how my night went, (see previous post) here is the update:  The baby slept all night.  (He woke up at 5:15, but as long as there is a 5 as the first number on the clock, I count it as morning.  Plus, I can just feed him and then he'll sleep for another hour or two.) But Megan.  Oh Megan.  Apparently my mere presence in the house puts her in some sot of hypnotic haze and she needs to seek me out.  (I can just here the thoughts in her little brain.  Must be with Mom...  Must be with Mom.... Must always be with Mom...Not really much different from her daytime thoughts - hold me, hold me, hold me...)  But still, she only got up once, and that is a huge improvement.  I just need to think my positive thoughts a little more strongly, I guess.  I have to admit that when Amelia asked me if I was going to sleep at the hotel every night, I was tempted to say yes, just so they would think I wasn't here and stay in their beds all night.  Here's hoping for more good nights.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


This is not my bed, but it is where I have slept - alone- for the past two nights.  Why? you might ask.  Well, because for the past several weeks, sleep has been rather sparse for some of us around here.  Most nights, I get up 2 or 3 or 4 times with Peter. Then I also get up 2 or 3 times with Megan, most often having to take her back down to her bed and sit patiently by until she falls asleep again. (Because I know there is no chance of me sleeping at all if she climbs into my bed.) Add on to this the occasional night where Amelia also gets up to go to the bathroom and starts crying because she doesn't want to go into the dark bathroom alone.  And Samantha waking up and crying because her teeth (recent dental work) or her legs hurt. And then sometimes the dog starts barking to go out or to come back in, which necessitates a rapid response so he doesn't wake up anyone who might still be asleep at that particular moment. And so it has been going for night after night, after night for weeks and weeks. Some days I feel like I can barely see straight and I find myself just dreading the nights because I am so desperate to sleep but am not hopeful that I will be able to do so. This has also led to an almost constant headache, continual loss of coping skills, and apparently to my being a less than perfect mother and wife.  (Go figure.)  
Now I know that I need to let Peter "cry it out" at night, but he is usually so sweet and pleasant during the day that I just can't bring myself to be mean to him like that.  But it turns out that I'm married to a pretty great guy, who came home on Thursday and told me that he had booked me a room for Friday and Saturday night so I could get a little sleep. (In Shawn's defense, he is perfectly willing to get up with kids at night but he just doesn't wake up.  And usually by the time that I get him to wake up enough to be of use, I'm awake enough myself that it defeats the purpose, and then often, whichever child he may go to try and help, will scream until I show up anyway.)  So anyway, I was feeling very guilty about leaving him with the kids while I went off to sleep. (But not guilty enough to stay home.)  He said he would take care of the whole crying it out thing with Peter and I could be sleeping soundly somewhere else.  So off I went.  
What do you know, but apparently all it takes to get all of my kids to sleep through the night is to get me out of the house. Both nights, no one got up.  No one. Seriously?  Even the baby slept until 5:30!  He managed, by sheer will alone to get all of the kids to stay in their beds asleep all night.  (Sheer will is also how I believe my brother Rob has managed to keep all of his hair when all of my other brothers are losing theirs - but that is another, unrelated topic.) Apparently my power of positive thinking is not nearly as strong as Shawn's.  I guess I better work on that. And now that I have tasted of the sweetness that is a good night's sleep, I am pretty sure I don't want to go back to that getting up 7 or 8 times a night - ever again.  Wish me luck, I'm off to bed for a glorious, sleep filled night.  (See me being positive?)  They will all sleep tonight.  They will all sleep tonight... They will all sleep tonight....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Raking Leaves

It's that time of year again, when many, many (but of course, not all) leaves fall to the ground. There are 9, yes 9 large, mature trees in my front yard, which I really love during the spring and summer months (except the pears - I don't love those- ever).  But come fall, all of those trees drop a lot of leaves and then it is time to rake.  Of course, I expect my kids to help in this little endeavor. This morning, when the task was presented to them, you would have thought we told them we would be hanging them from the trees by their fingernails.  There was a lot of crying and yelling and even some hitting, I think, because of the fear that someone might end up doing more work than someone else. Seriously, it was ridiculous.  However, I did not give in because, as I tell my kids all the time, I expect them to do hard things and, what do you know?  They survived.  I don't quite know what Samantha planned to accomplish with a shovel, but at least she was out there "attempting" to help.  And Jonas was actually quite useful.Once they remembered the fun of jumping in a leaf pile and burying each other, they realized it wasn't so bad.  Here's Samantha in the pile.
Can you find 3 Stringhams in the leaves?  (Clearly I was doing most of the work at this point, since they were all in the leaves.)
I had to convince them that the leaf pile could only get bigger if they actually helped me rake up the leaves.
Finally, Duffy got brave enough to join in, so here's 4 kids buried in the leaves.  You have to look pretty closely to find Samantha and Jonas.
Too bad there are still some leaves in the trees that are just waiting for the lawn to be clear again.  I am still so grateful for these beautiful fall days!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fall Fun

We have been enjoying this beautiful fall weather. I am finding it hard to stay inside, since I know its only a matter of time before it will be too cold for me to want to venture out at all. So, when our friends, the Dunfords, invited us to join them at Sugarhouse Park we jumped at the chance. The girls all enjoyed playing on the playground and feeding the ducks and geese.
(Anyone know what I have to do on my camera to get rid of the blue hue that all of my photos seem to have lately?) Never mind, I think I found it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I am finding humor in the fact that Shawn, as Young Mens President will be attending Standards Night tonight, and then will leave to go play with his band at Liquid Joe's (a bar). He's calling it missionary work, I call it funny.  Anyway, I have tickets if anyone wants to go and hear them play at 9:00 tonight.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Disneyland Miracle

Warning: Long post

Now, there are a couple of reasons why I call this post the Disneyland miracle. First of all, Shawn has always been anti- Disneyland.  I really didn't think we would ever go.  It's not his sort of vacation.  (Of course, I use that term very loosely because going anywhere in the car with 5 children really isn't a vacation no matter how you look at it.) But anyway, no matter how many times it was brought up I knew it was something he didn't want to do.  Then one day, out of the blue, he said, "I've got a couple of days where I don't have anything scheduled.  We should go to Disneyland."  What??!! This is his very busy season at work, and he has sometimes gone for days without seeing the kids because of his schedule.  I think he decided this would be a good way to spend a little time with the family.  Believe me, I wasn't going to argue with him.  So next, we asked the Boydens if they wanted to go with us, because they are always fun to do things with and I knew my kids would enjoy going with them. Plus, there was a pretty good chance they could pull it off on short notice.  Then we also invited Rob and Michelle thinking there was no way they would come on such short notice.  (I clearly underestimated Rob's hatred of all things Halloween.  He was more than happy to leave costumes and trick-or-treating behind. I'm pretty sure if it were a different time of year he might not have been so willing.)  We also invited Matt and Anne and Jake, hoping they could come but on short notice what can you expect?  So with the Boydens, Marshes and us, we had 18 people heading to Disney land. (Sadly, our camera was out of battery for the big group photo, so you'll have to check with Katie or Michelle for that shot.) The next reason for the miracle, is that my kids whine and complain so much about how long they are in the car just driving to St. George we thought we could never make it all the way to Anaheim alive.  They surprised me.  They were great travelers, both coming and going!  (And no vomiting even -which tends to happen altogether too often on long car rides with some of my kids.) And thirdly, we all had a great time.  And that was a miracle in and of itself.We all found rides that we loved. The teacupsThe Maliboomer. Rob, Rob, Shawn and Samantha loved this one but Jonas and I didn't like it so much.All of the kids liked these sit in a vehicle, go up in the air and fly around rides - even Megan.And of course, who doesn't love Splash Mountain?My personal favorite was the California Screamer. Rob, Shawn and I rode this repeatedly and loved it every time.  I have always loved rollercoasters.Of course, a lot of these rides wouldn't have been possible if not for the willingness of Katie, Josh and Michelle to take care of our kids while we rode.  So thank you to all of you.  (It was great to be there with other people so we all could have fun.  Although, I think the Stringham family tended to slow everyone else down  - so we apologize, but thanks anyway for all the help!)
There were lots of character pictures...
 The girls with Tinkerbell:
The boys with Pluto:
Peter was fascinated with Dale's nose and everytime he touched it, Dale reached up and touched his nose too. He didn't quite know what to make of it, but it was cute to watch.When Shawn and Michelle took the girls to wait in line to meet princesses, I expected a lot of photos like this:
But why wasn't I surprised to see these photos of Shawn and the princesses?I always thought he liked Belle, but he's smiling pretty big there standing next to Cinderella.        
Our kids are not the most resilient, and later in day 2 they started melting down a bit. (As seen by this photo of Jonas.)  
There were lots of tears from Megan and a full on smack- fest between Jonas and Samantha that we didn't capture on film. There just wasn't enough magic in the kingdom to keep everyone happy, so we took off for the beach. (I'm pretty sure this was also because Shawn couldn't stand the thought of being that close to the ocean and not going there.  Deep down, he was really meant to be a surf bum.  Too bad he has a family to support.)
The Boydens joined us, and the kids were thrilled.  They loved playing in the sand and the waves.  Lauren and Amelia both got soaked.  Shawn bought a boogie board and Lauren especially enjoyed using it. (My deepest apologies to Lindsey, who did not want to go to the beach and wanted to stay at Disneyland.  I probably owe her some donuts for ruining her day.  But we still had fun.)

After the beach, we put our tired kids to bed at the hotel and then Shawn and I returned to the park with the Boydens for a few last rides and to say goodbye to the Magic Kingdom before we had to leave in the morning.All in all, we had a great time and we're glad we went ahead and did it despite our reservations. Thanks Marshes and Boydens for joining us in our adventure! Now did someone mention Hawaii for next Halloween?


Since we made different plans this year for Halloween, there was no trick-or-treating and I thought we were off the hook for costumes, but it turned out that there was still at least one party for each of the kids to attend.  Megan was a witch for her ballet party.
Peter only got dressed up because I love this little spider costume and figured if he didn't wear it now, we might never use it again.  All the kids since Samantha have worn this as babies.

And somehow, though Amelia dressed up as 2 different things for both a ballet party and a primary party, I didn't get any other pictures.  (What kind of a mother am I?!) She was a green dinosaur for one and I can't remember what else.  Jonas was a graduate, and Samantha was Alice in Wonderland.  And again, no photos.  Ah well.  We still have memories.  So here are the pictures from Halloween Day.For the most part since we spent the day at Disneyland and at the beach with some of our favorite people, I'd have to say we didn't miss out on too much. (Except, there are no little candy bars for me to steal from my kids' stash - and I definitely am missing that!) More on Disneyland in the next post.