...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Totally Totem

 This week we have been all about totem poles.  Once upon a time a sweet little lady from my ward named Bertha gave me a box of fun kids stuff.  In it was a big book of totem pole pictures that you could cut out and glue together and color. 

I pulled those books out this week and the kids have gone crazy. 

It has been so much fun to watch them.  The book not only has pictures but it also has teaching sections about what each totem is supposed to represent or what it will protect our "tribe" from.

 So we have cut and colored and pasted and now we have a house full of awesome artwork that will also protect us from evil spirits and angry dead people and bears and all sorts of other things.

Logan was so proud of his totem that he hung it up in the living room instead of on his bedroom door like the other kids had done.  Well that idea took off like wildfire and now our living room has a beautiful Native American tribute and should be fairly ghost free as well.
We only had one minor mishap.  Bryce cut and pasted his totem together, but then he left it on the living room table all day so Ellie decided to help out and she colored it for him.  He wasn't very pleased, but hey, that's what happens when you leave your stuff out.

Who knew totem poles could be this much fun?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Running Water

Yesterday afternoon the kids and I went for a swim in our pool.  It was a very warm day and our pool was nice and cool (but not too cool, very refreshing and loads of fun!).

After we got out of the pool, the kids wanted to play on the swings.  Ellie got in the way of Parker's motion and got bonked onto her bum.  I scooped her up and we sat down on a lawn chair to recover.

Then, suddenly, warm liquid started to trickle down my leg.  At first I was surprised and vaguely embarrassed.  Then I looked down at Ellie.  She was smiling happily as she peed her little bladder out and it ran right out of her swim diaper and onto my lap and down my legs. 

From across the yard PJ yelled, "Mom, did Ellie just pee on you?"  Then all the kids laughed.  They thought it was the funniest thing ever.  I couldn't help but laugh too.

Then I took a shower.

Good times.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The girl and her dragonfly too

The other night the kids came rushing into the house begging me to come outside and see the barrage of dragonflies that was invading our yard.  There were hundreds of big blue bugs dive bombing the kids in graceful arcs.  Aubrey decided she wanted to catch one.  She was very determined and very patient and eventually she was successful.

 Why is it that some of the very best moments in life are often of very little value to anyone watching from the outside.  There is something so beautiful about children being happy just because there are insects and sunshine and air.  These perfect little snippets of time make all the whining and grumbling and fighting worth it because they remind me why I love being a mom, why I love spending day after day with these adorable people who are growing up way to fast if you ask me.  I'm grateful that these tiny pockets of peaceful perfection show up so often in life.

 Since the four oldest kids started school the end of July, Logan and Ellie and I have had the chance to pal around together.  We take walks and visit parks and just goof around at home a lot.  They would have me push them on our backyard swings all day if I had the arm strength (I have definitely beefed up my arm strength in the last three weeks).  It has been nice to able to have more one on one time with my two littlest sprites.  They are a lot of fun.
I also have to take just a moment to brag about my husband.  He started back to school last week (he teaches high school psychology/financial literacy).  He is also an assistant soccer coach for the high school so he spends several hours every day at practice and other hours arranging games and buses and doing paperwork for eligibility etc.  He is also still working his part time job and this next week he is starting a master's degree program through the University of Phoenix. 

He has a lot on his plate.  He comes home exhausted, and yet he ALWAYS takes time when he first gets home to make his kids feel special.  Often he wrestles with them which is their very favorite activity (except Bryce who is way too mature to wrestle with his dad, he prefers to cheer from the side lines).  He is the best dad, and I am grateful every day that I nabbed him.  Neither of us is perfect, but we are awfully happy together.

(This picture has nothing to do with anything, I just happen to love it!  Silly Aubs.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Help

This week I read "The Help" (I say that like I read a book every week, which often I do but I have been sorely lacking in the reading department lately).  I wanted to finish the book before I saw the movie (I pretty much ALWAYS do that...except with "Lord of the Rings" which I was never even remotely interested in until I saw the first movie and then I read all the books...except for the poetry bits -- YUCK!).

I loved this book, "The Help."  I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great story.

But what I loved most about it is that it got me thinking.  I love a book that makes me think.  I started thinking what would I have been like if I had lived in the South during this period?  Would I have been a woman to blindly follow societal norms and treat my help like dirt?  Would I have been willing to stand up for something I felt needed to be changed, or would I have even felt something needed to be changed?

I took a moment to explore my soul, and I am really not sure who I would have been.  I am a rule follower in general, although I don't mind pushing the limits if I feel it is necessary.  But would I have felt this was necessary?  Would I have even seen anything wrong with the prevalent ideology?  I just don't know.

And what about my life now?  Are there things in my life that parallel this story but are too "normal" to me to stand out at a problem?  What am I teaching my children by the actions I am taking or the things I am ignoring?  I think I have some good old fashioned soul searching to do.

Like I said, I love a book that makes me think. 

P.S. If you haven't read it yet, you REALLY should...and I hear the movie is great too!

Monday, August 15, 2011

12 down, forever to go

So this past weekend marked the 12th anniversary of the day I married my sweetheart.  I could soliloquize (a word I thought I invented but turns out I didn't...shoot!) all about my amazing husband and the incredible man that he is but then all you ladies would be jealous and I don't want to cause that so suffice it to say Josh is my soul mate.  He knows my heart and loves me because of/in spite of that and I adore him for that.  I can't imagine finding happiness without him by my side.  He means everything to me.

Sooooo, to celebrate a full dozen years together (can't wait to say it is a baker's dozen next year!) we decided a weekend with no kidlets would be in order -- just the way we started out twelve years ago.

We had the chance to stay at the Salt Lake Little America hotel for their "bed and breakfast" special and it was amazing! 
The room was gorgeous (and so was Josh). Rose petals on the bed, amazing view of the city, delicious bubble bath (I didn't taste it, but it did smell great), it was a very beautiful and very relaxing (and quiet) place to stay.
When we first got there, someone very noisily maneuvered a cart (or something) through the hall and bumped around a lot.  Josh laughed at me when I got up to go check it out before realizing I am not their mother and loud noises were not my concern for the evening. 

We drove to the Gateway to find a place to eat and landed in the California Pizza kitchen.  Neither one of us got pizza and now that I realize that I feel like we should have to go back and try again (maybe for that baker's dozen).  When the place has pizza in the name one of us should be required to order that.  Oh well, our pasta was great.  We got to do some very entertaining people watching on the Gateway plaza and then we spent a way too short hour perusing the books at Barnes and Noble (there is never enough time when I am in a bookstore...thankfully Josh is the same way).  We even walked through the "love" section in honor or our anniversary but we covered our eyes so we wouldn't see anything we would regret later.  Lastly, we plopped into our seats and watched the seven and a half-th Harry Potter movie (finally).  It was great.  We loved it.  Then we headed back to our hotel.

Sleeping in past 7:00 am was a decadent treat.  Our breakfast was delivered promptly at 8:30 am and there was enough food to feed six people but it was so good that we didn't mind sampling everything (although I felt a little guilty leaving so much uneaten). My favorite part was these adorable three inch tall glass ketchup bottles.  I just had to bring them home with me (yup, I am that lame...and no, I wasn't stealing, they don't refill them they just give new ones to everybody).

As an anniversary treat we bought a new bed set because our old one is stained along the face height sides with grease and muck and anything else that can stick to a child's face or hands.  We do try to keep things clean, but often it feels like a losing battle.  Anyway, Josh actually picked this set.  Once we got it on the bed the kids were so impressed that they monopolized the entire bed for the rest of the evening.  They have fought over who gets to make our bed every day since we brought the set home.  Here's hoping that continues.
It was great to spend time together, it was great to celebrate the most important day of our lives -- the start of everything incredible that has come since.  I would do anything be sure that I made that choice all over again.  I can't imagine life without Josh, and I really don't want to either.  Love you, tough guy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Twelve years and counting...(and still kissing)

Twelve years ago yesterday there was a tornado in down town Salt Lake City. 

I will never forget that because three days later, I married my best friend in the Salt Lake City temple and now he is stuck with me forever!

Let me tell you a little bit about it.

Josh and I met on a really horrible blind date and I secretly hoped to never see his smug little mug ever again.  Thankfully fate worked against me and with a little bit of help from a good friend he managed to woo me and win me over with his charms.

We were engaged three months after we actually started dating (four months after our first nasty date) and married four months after that.  (P.S. I do NOT recommend this sort of speed dating/marrying to anyone, you should date someone long enough to really know them, but at the same time when it's right, it's right).
The aforementioned tornado did a bunch of damage downtown and even to the temple grounds (including ripping up a very old and very beautiful olive tree), but thankfully three days later Josh and I drove to the temple together early in the morning to be sealed.  Unfortunately, I left my temple recommend at home (which it completely like me and is the reason Josh keeps my recommend in his wallet to this day) so half way to the temple we had to turn around and book it back to my house.  Josh is apparently distantly related to Mario Andretti because we still made it on time (just barely). 


So, amid tornado clean up and Temple Square Plaza construction, Josh and I made eternal promises  and smooched and happily enjoyed the most incredible moments we'd ever expereienced.  It was really a beautiful day.

 Of course, not everything could be perfect.  Life is just not like that.

I don't usually grow out my fingernails because they get in the way when I play the piano(guess I could have had them professionally done, but that didn't occur to me at the time...I grew up a bit of a Tom-boy).  I decided my wedding was an appropriate cause to let my nails grow so I didn't cut them for a few weeks.  Then, the night before we got hitched, I broke the nail on my left pinkie finger (it would have to be the left hand).  Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?  Thankfully, I had enough sense not to call the whole thing off over that.

After our morning temple sealing (which was amazing, I am so grateful for the temple and for incredible family and friends not to mention a fabulous temple sealer), we headed back to our apartment to change for my cousin's baptism which was scheduled for that afternoon since all the family was already in town.  It worked out perfectly.  We finished that in time to get back in our fancy duds for our reception that evening.

The first thing we did after the reception was head to the car wash because Josh simply could not stand to leave any of this glop on his car any longer than he had to.  I had sort of wanted to drive around town toting the remnants of the "Yahoo, now we're married" mess, but Josh was not interested and I was too goo-goo eyed at the time to mind letting him have his way (that has now been adjusted...somewhat).
Since then, our family has grown.  Bryce joined us ten months after we got married.  His birth was pretty crazy (not to mention three weeks before his due date so we weren't quite ready for it) and involved a c-section and some near death moments, but we got through it and everything turned out beautifully.

 Aubrey met up with us a couple years later so we had one boy and one girl and figured another kid or two and our family would be full.
 When Parker joined the picture we both felt strongly that our family might just turn out to be a little bit bigger than we had originally planned.  Sometimes God has things in mind for you that are not what you intended, but once you decide to trust Him and give it a shot you are ETERNALLY grateful that He didn't just go with your idea. 
 So for twelve years we've stuck together (you would never know we were mad at each other in this picture, it had been a rotten morning and I had even accidentally hit Josh with a hairbrush in my frustration...seriously, it was an accident...really honey!).
 One by one six little sprites have made the trek from Heaven to join our clan and our family would not be right without any one of them.
Despite the struggles and trials we have faced (and will continue to face) we are still meandering through this life hand in hand (except when I'm grumpy) and it is a beautiful thing to get to spend every day with your very best friend. 

Thanks, Josh, for making my life better than I ever imagined.  I thank God every day that He didn't listen when I wished to never ever see you again.  He knew I would need you and that you could make me happier than any other person on the planet.  It doesn't seem like saying enough, but I love you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Babies: a very nice way to start people

One of our little ones having a first bath (you win 47 bonus points if
you can guess which child this is).
 At the moment life seems to be flooded with babies (and what an adorable flood it is) and for once, I am not directly involved in the deluge (I have taken lots of teasing -- some nice, some not so much -- over the years about our river of little ones.  Six babies in 10 years will do that to you...but you develop a thick skin and a gigantic smile as well).

I have an adorable friend who just had a little girl after struggling for years with infertility.  It has been  incredible to watch that little family develop.

Also, the relief society president of our ward (who I get to work with, and I tell you, she is amazing) is expecting.  Since I see her a lot I get to watch first hand as she blooms.  She will be a wonderful mom.

I also have two sisters-in-law that are expecting.  Paula is percolating with baby #3, which is also her first boy.  We (her sisters-in-law) just threw a baby shower for her last week that was a lot of fun.  Heather and Jenny (my other two Whitmer bonus sisters) were in charge of the food, so we ate really well.  It is common knowledge that cooking is not my strong suit so I was assigned to prep fabulous shower games (I'm not sure that is my strong suit either, but I had to help somehow!).  Aubrey helped me with the games, which went well.  Aubs was thrilled to be able to attend the shower, even though she did get a bit bored with all the "grown up" chatter that she felt went on and on forever.  Poor kid.

Thankfully, Paula ended up with oodles of loot to prep for her little boy.  Since everything she and Brian own is pink and fluffy I think the baby is probably grateful for that too.  It will be fun to get to know him when he makes his entrance.

Also, Josh's brother and his wife are expecting.  This is their first and they are preparing for a sweet little girl. They live out of state so we don't get a close-up view of this princess's growth, but we still love her to pieces.  We will have the chance to celebrate this little one in a few weeks when mom and baby (still happily snuggled in mom's tummy) come to Utah for a shower.  It will be fun.

While I was never a person who enjoyed being pregnant (throwing up, heart burn, cramps, gestational diabetes and on and on...what's there to enjoy) I fell so deeply in love with every one of my little sprites from the moment they tickled my tummy that I can't help but smile when I see anyone prepping to plunge into parenthood.   

Being a mom is the BEST! 

This is the part where I would normally insert some snide comment about "except for poopy diapers or early morning feedings or too much laundry" but that is all part of the deal and the devotion to these tiny people that drives you to do those things time after time is built on all of those moments.

It is so much fun to welcome new people to the world.

(Here is a glimpse of a bit of the growth of our little family).





Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Super Summer Mash-Up

Josh has started coaching high school soccer all the way this week (their first game is today) and that makes me feel like the summer is really over.  The kids have settled back to life in school and now Josh has returned to his high school home away from home.

2011 has been a rough year (not just for my family, it seems to have been a trying year for a lot of people thus far) so it is nice to be able to sit back and remember some of the fabulous moments that speckle the year as well.  I have the greatest people in the world to spend my life with and good or bad that makes every day an incredible adventure. 
Me chowing down on chicken strips.  Don't you love those All-a-Dollar sun glasses?

Aubrey, Parker and Bryce loving life at Lagoon.

Even waiting in line can be fun with the right attitude.

This AWESOME bike showed up at an event Josh worked at Miller Motor Sports Park.  Can't you just see me cruising the neighborhood on that baby.  Don't you love it?  I love it!

Josh got to be a part of this sweet lady's baptism.

Isn't he adorable! (that was a rhetorical question....I think he's adorable)

G cannot be in a picture without making a face, here he is enjoying the beach at Mantua.

We forgot our swim wear but still had fun in the water.

Logan building stuff in the sand.

Aubrey ready for the first day of school (which started July 25).

Gavin developed a love for peeling skin this summer.  He was thrilled when anyone
got a sunburn or when his Dad's feet were peeling.  Strange (but adorable) duck.

We all had a wonderful summer together.  What a great way to spend life
(together I mean, not stuck in a cage).
Life is always loaded with struggles, that is just the way things are.  People always say that those trials are a way for God to show that he trusts us.  I believe that God cherishes each of us and gives us opportunities to grow and learn, but that doesn't mean I love to struggle.  Thankfully, God knows us well enough to give us what we need to help us through our problems.  Sometimes he boosts our strength so we can get through something or sometimes he sends us angels (usually in the form of other people).

Always, He litters our lives with spectacularly ordinary, but beautiful, moments that remind us of His love and devotion to us.  Through it all, His major work is to help us return home to Him, we just have to learn to love the ride.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fathers and Sons Camp Out

 Like I said before, the boys went on a fathers and sons camp out last weekend and they haven't stopped talking about it since.  They looooved being able to spend some time with their dad (although they report he got a bit grumpy when they were trying to help set up the tent...Josh says this is  not true and the boys are just trying to get him in trouble) (I have personal experience setting up this tent and can promise that I get grumpy when setting it up so whether it is true or not I don't blame him one bit!).
 However, the tent was successfully erected, the boys cooked hot dogs over our camp stove (no fires allowed...and good thing we sent the camp stove because several other families used it too). 

They then spent the evening playing with friends and their dad in piles of rocks and on rope swings and doing whatever other secret stuff boys do when they are on female less camping adventures.

We only had one tiny little hitch.  The stake graciously decided to make breakfast for everyone on Saturday morning so we didn't send breakfast.  The young man in charge of the meal did an amazing job of putting together a hearty potato dish loaded with peppers and spices and a little bit of egg.  Unfortunately, my boys won't eat that stuff (particularly the peppers) so Josh called me as he trundled home and I ran to Walmart for some donuts so they could have a special breakfast to finish off their weekend.  It all worked out.  (I hope the young man that cooked wasn't offended, it wasn't his fault).

They all had a wonderful time and it was really good for them to be able to chill were their dad for a whole weekend. 

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