Friday, December 4, 2009

How to raise compassionate children

Actually, I have no idea how to raise compassionate children. My kids are naturally compassionate. For example, here is a typical response from each of my children while I'm violently heaving in the bathroom:

Garrett: Are you ok, Mom? Is there anything I should do?

Hannah: Can I get you something Mom? Some water or a wet washcloth?

Kevin: Are you done throwing up yet? (with a whine) You still didn't fix my transformer!

Of course, it is usually only Kevin home when I'm heaving, so I get SOOO much sympathy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lots o' pictures

Just want to catch up a little in between my vomiting spells. Here are some pictures and a little bit of writing.

A beautiful day in October, we went to the park and then walked down to the neighborhood retention pond (actually John took the kids while I took a nap, but then I joined them later and helped take pictures).

We took a (very) quick trip to Ohio to visit John's Mom, unfortunately, our battery died right after we took this picture. We had a great visit and enjoyed beautiful weather.

We got tickets to the Notre Dame vs. Boston College game, and our whole family went and enjoyed the festivities. It was cold, drizzly, and pretty miserable, but ND won and it was an exciting game!

For Halloween Garrett was Huck Finn, Hannah was half angel/half devil (very appropriate for her quickly changing moods) and Kevin was a red Ninja Storm Power Ranger.

Our friend Sarah came over with her family, and we had so much fun catching up with them, and Garrett especially loved playing with little A. I think he would be just as happy with a new little sister as he would with a little brother.

Kevin had his 4th birthday. He was looking forward to it for a long time, and I don't think he was disappointed. He got a lot of presents, and he asked for a "HUGE" cake so I just put it in a sheet cake pan.

Hannah was in a kid's production of "Annie" and she had a total blast. She loved being on stage, acting, and especially singing. She did really well.

Once again, John and Garrett outshone the competition at the pinewood derby. This time, they put battery-operated headlights in it, with a toggle switch to turn it off and on. John taught Garrett all about electricity, relays, and switches, and I'm not really sure what else. The car did not race very well, unfortunately, but you can see his peers thought it was pretty amazing to look at.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Here we go again!

We’re expecting again! This time, I feel more confidence in announcing it since I heard the heartbeat yesterday, and morning sickness is really kicking my rear. I don’t know if you all know this, but I am OLD. 37. And feeling every long year of it. I can’t count how many times I’ve been laying on my bed (or the couch, or the back of the van, or the floor) moaning and wondering what the heck we were thinking. Can I handle this?

This is my first pregnancy that I truly have “morning” sickness (all the others I had “evening” sickness the worst). I fight back the nausea all morning and constantly am ready to race to the toilet. The morning used to be my time to run errands, get things done like laundry and cleaning. Now it is my time to eat a little and lie down a lot. This baby does not like meat. Or sweets. But loves citrus (I’ve never been a huge fan, but now I’m sucking down grapefruits like a fiend) and sugar snap peas. John is so happy that this baby might turn out to be a vegetarian like him. I haven’t found anything that I like to eat in the morning yet. I’ve tried cereal, oatmeal, eggs, toast, nothing is good. Grapefruit is the best thing to have, but obviously does not fill my constantly starving stomach. Any ideas?

Here are a few pictures of some fun things we’ve done over the last month or so. First is when John and I went downtown Chicago for the jazz festival on our anniversary. It was a lot of fun but there were plenty of times I smelled sweet smoke if you know what I mean.

My niece Ashleigh is on the BYU soccer team and they had a game at Northwestern so we went and the kids had a blast cheering and they felt famous when they got to go on the field with a player. Ashleigh also sneaked them onto the team bus when they went out to eat after the game. The kids were in heaven.

We went on an architectural boat tour of downtown Chicago on a beautiful September afternoon. It was TOTALLY worth the $17 per person. So fun. Here is Denise with Hannah and Kevin.

We went to the Shedd Aquarium, which was NOT worth the $25 per person, but still a pretty fun way to spend the morning. Kevin refused to get in this picture because by the end of our time there, he was so cranky and contrary he only wanted to go home.

Monday, September 14, 2009

We love imaginary friends!

By John

Kevin loves playing and has a very active imagination. A few weeks ago he mentioned he had a friend named “Speedy”; his first such imaginary friend. When we asked Kevin more about this new friend but he was pretty vague. He doesn’t really “play” with his imaginary friend but just talks about his presence when he goes on adventures to the Bat Cave, (the formal living room), or to outer space to get the bad guys. On Sunday Kevin came home with a couple of crafts made in his primary class. He had three big hearts; one for Hannah, one for Garrett, and the last one for himself. Kevin’s heart said “Jesus loves Kevin and Jared loves Jesus.”

As parents we were perplexed by the meaning of the heart, since the writing was clearly his teacher's. We inquired of Kevin if he got the wrong heart…no it’s his, we asked if he meant to tell the teacher Garrett (thinking how much Kevin loves his big brother)…no it’s Jared. We also know there aren’t any boys named Jared in his class.

Then we asked the obvious next question “who is Jared?”

Kevin with a straight and serious face responded “Oh, Jared lives next door to Speedy.”

We all busted up laughing. Kevin didn’t know why Garrett, Hannah, Lajuana, and I were laughing about. Gaining composure Lajuana and I tried to gain a greater understanding of Jared. Turns out that Speedy is 6 years old and Jared lives next door to Speedy and he is 13, they both live far away.

After a while Kevin was tired of talking about Jared and so we left it alone but the whole time Garrett kept saying “but who is Jared?” I could tell Kevin wanted to go and play so I told Garrett, “Obviously, Jared lives next to Speedy!”

A few minutes passed and I turned to Lajuana and we both wondered what his teacher thought. Did she think Jared was real; Kevin talked about him so seriously I think he could have pulled it off? Something we’ll ask before class next Sunday; can’t wait to hear the answer!

Friday, August 7, 2009

OK, so I caved

So I gave in. Finally. I read the Twilight books. There were many reasons why I did NOT want to read them:
1. They sounded so ridiculous.
2. I have an unreasonable fear of vampires. Yes, I know they are not real, but really—sucking blood? Ick.
3. They sounded SOOO ridiculous.
4. My unreasonable fear began as a child, when my brother (not even ME) had a nightmare about my mom turning into a vampire. Just his description was enough to send me into a downward spiral of checking my closets and sleeping with the blankets rolled up around my neck (as if THAT would stop the bloodsuckers) well into my teenage years. Pay no attention to the fact that I still roll the blankets up by my neck. It’s just a habit. Really.
5. The story just sounded so amazingly ridiculous.
6. Vampires are SCARY!
Ok, so that is really just two reasons repeated 3 times, but aren’t they good enough?

There is ONE reason why I decided to read them. When we were thinking of baby names, I told my family we were thinking of Isabella for a girl and my cute sister-in-law looked at me conspiratorially and said “Oh, because of Twilight!” I about had a heart attack. I didn’t know anything but the basics of the book and I didn’t know any names. So I decided if there is going to be a whole slew of Mormon Isabella’s, then I should read up about her.

I must say, I went into the books with very low expectations. They were better than I thought, but still not great. And I decided I don’t much like the name Isabella any more. She was a real idiot. Seriously--pushing and pushing her boyfriend to do dangerous things, curling up in a ball and giving up on her own life out on the mountains when he broke up with her (and how can she be so clueless and to not understand why they should be apart), oh just so many things she did and said that made me cringe. But, overall, the books were somewhat fluffily entertaining and have been keeping me busy for the last few weeks. John kind of rolled his eyes at me, and assumed I’ve turned into one of those obsessed fans. Not so. I understand (kind of) the appeal and the craze among teenagers. Who didn’t wish for a gorgeous boy to be so totally obsessed AND in love with you that he put your happiness and virtue before his own desires and (ick) appetites? And to have another boy worship you enough to just be a friend because that's all you'll let him be? But the basics of the story still turn me off: vampires? She WANTS to become a vampire and sulks when Edward won't bite her? Can’t comprehend that. Sorry “Bella”. No one in my family will be named after you.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Reunion Time

We had a great reunion in St. George, UT--fishing, hiking, boating, swimming, and more swimming. Here are some pictures:
Hannah with cousin Melissa

On the boat and tubing


Emerald pools hike in Zion's canyon. As a proud Mom, I have to say Kevin hiked the whole thing himself (a little over 3 miles total) and didn't complain until the end of the ascent, then again at the end of the descent. Hannah became good buddies with cousin Josh and they stuck together and explored the pools together.

I broke my toe, and I'd like to say it was while I was doing something exotic like hiking or tubing down the Virgin river, but I broke it on the pullout bed I was sleeping on. Lame, I know.

Hannah hijacked the digital camera and took over 100 pictures of her cousins and various knick-knacks in my Mom's house. Some of them turned out pretty good.
Cousin Mary (Aaron's youngest)

Cousin Sophie (Trejo's middle)

My Mom--looking good with her new hair (it came in curly after radiation)

These are some of the funny face pictures she took:

Juanita (Trejo's youngest)

Jethro (Aaron's middle)

Orion (Trejo's oldest and quite the ham)

Hannah finally handed off the camera to her cousin Eliza and she took this funny face:

My Hannah is quite the character!

There are lots of pictures I don't have yet, but we did a lot more fun things like tie dye t-shirts, tube on the Virgin River, break a pinata, and we should be getting pictures of Garrett's backpacking trip sometime. But let's be honest, I probably won't be posting again about it, so just imagine them in your mind.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Halt the congratulations

John has been at home for the last week without us, I'm still in St. George with the kids. On Sunday, I started cramping and then bleeding pretty profusely. I was extremely depressed and sobbing off and on all day. My Mom had 10 children with no miscarriages, my sisters and I have 13 kids between us with no miscarriages, my aunts and maternal grandmother with almost 20 kids between them have never had a miscarriage. The thought never even crossed my mind as a possibility until I started bleeding, and even then I still was hopeful that it would all be ok. My biggest problem was that I didn't know what to do, or even if it WAS a miscarriage. On Sunday evening, my brother gave me a blessing, and though it was very special to me, it is very difficult to convey the impressions and feelings I had during and after the blessing. Mostly the feeling was "this is not the time yet for a baby" and "you'll be ok." It confirmed to me (more than a medical test) that it was indeed a miscarriage. That night I prayed and cried and prayed some more, pondered the reasons for this experience, and mourned a little. Monday morning, I woke up feeling emotionally cleansed and ready to face the future. My family has been great and supportive, they have taken care of my kids while I recover my strength. If you have to have a medical problem away from home, with your family is the place to be!

On Tuesday evening, I decided to go to the hospital so they could do a blood test to confirm that my hormone levels were going down, and to do an ultrasound to make sure the worst is over so I could be cleared to travel. The doctors and nurses were so funny, because they were trying to cushion the blow that I had lost the baby, but I already knew that. Finally the doctor asked "How hopeful are you that this pregnancy is still viable?" and I said "I know the baby is gone, I just want to know when I can go home." That sped things up considerably. Everything is progressing normally and I should be able to begin traveling home whenever I want. John is going to fly out to SLC on Saturday and help me drive home. He was trying to get me to fly home while he drove the kids home, but I thought that was a little silly. I'm feeling pretty good, just really tired and crampy. I'm so grateful I haven't had any emotional issues since Sunday, though there have been times I want to curl up in my bed and not face my family: that's pretty standard on a family vacation though :).

Next week I'll post some great pictures from our vacation. I would appreciate your prayers for our continued blessings and our safe return home. I know John has been beside himself during this time away from us, and I can't wait to get back to him!

Friday, June 26, 2009

One in the oven

Its official…Lajuana is expecting! We just found out and we are all very excited! She’ll be due in February. Many of our friends can relate to our internal struggle with knowing when you’re done having more kids. Lajuana and I fasted and prayed a lot to know and at different times we both had conflicting thoughts. However, we both knew that we wanted one more. At the same time we were comfortable with no kids in diapers, we’re getting older, fears about the birth (just look back at the interesting birth stories of our kids), busy life schedules, and I’m super busy in school. In short we had a lot of things holding us back. Then after thinking about it more and more we realized that we needed hope and faith. The great examples of our many friends have provided us with true inspirational stories of lives lived by faith and the subsequent abundance of blessings. So with some hope and faith our fears are set aside and we are really excited to have another one join our family!

I have found that most people (outside of Utah) think having more than 2 kids is a large family! When I tell people I have 3 kids I’m amazed at their reaction like we’re single handedly repopulating the earth. I wonder what they’ll say when I tell them we’ll have 4 kids. So far we’ve only announced the news to family and some friends and neighbors that happen to be in ear shot. Here are some funny comments so far:

“So when are you guys ever going to stop having kids?”
“At this rate your kids are going to be in college before you finish”
“Are you trying to get a TV program…only a few more to beat out that woman with 18”
(A funny one from my Mom) “That’ll make 12 grandkids now…no more after that one cause I can’t have 13”
“At this rate you’ll still be having kids when you’re a grandfather”

So what funny or crazy things have you heard people say about your growing family size????

Not sure if we are going to find out early if it’s a boy or girl…but if we do find out we’ll let you know. Thanks for all of your love, support, and examples. I’m sure Lajuana will have more postings to add later.


Friday, June 19, 2009

More Visits, More Fun

We had a fabulous visit with Karin and family. It was a lot of fun reacquainting ourselves, especially the kids (for whom 2 years is a lifetime). We had a sleepover every night, Hannah was in heaven having so many girls in the house, and John was so happy to have someone to play games with. They bought us Settlers of Catan and we’ve been playing it non-stop ever since. Garrett and Z. played whenever the adults were not. Hannah and A. are just two peas in a pod. They holed up in Hannah’s room most of the time, playing with Polly pockets and putting on “make up” that Aunt Denise gave her for her birthday. Kevin tagged along with whatever the big boys were doing. Karin’s daughter B. (3 ½) was busy getting into everything, especially food they got from Trader Joe’s. Her favorite phrase is “Awwwww, WHY?” which she said every time we took things away from her or got her down off the table or made her stop climbing the outside of the stairs. Their littlest, L. was the belle of the ball for sure. Her feet were rarely allowed to touch the ground because Hannah and Garrett wanted to constantly carry her around (even though she can walk like an expert).

I got to introduce Karin to a friend of mine who has become very active in supporting natural childbirth, especially VBACs. She is in the process of becoming a doula. They had met through some VBAC websites, and realized they both knew me. Sarah came over and it was great to listen to them and share experiences and wisdom (even though Jared rolled his eyes at us a few times over his book while we sat there gabbing for 2 hours). It was almost like we were sitting outside the Villa once again; letting the kids run wild while we vented, supported each other’s opinions, and learned about each other.

We went to a kite festival, where there were also a lot of carnival type rides and a climbing wall.

We went to the Field Museum, where we saw "Sue" the dinosaur, real treasure from a pirate ship (no pictures allowed), played dress up in a forest, built towers with blocks, and played musical instruments from around the world.

We went to a living history museum, where the kids dressed up once again, this time as pioneers, and we saw a little bit about how frontier life was back in the day. We also went down to our river walk and walked around a little. But the path is often RIGHT NEXT to the water and we were all afraid of our crazy sleep-deprived children falling into the water. So we didn't stay too long.

I know Karin would be nice and forget to tell all the mistakes I made: like when we went to the kite festival, I took us to the wrong parking lot and we had to walk a million miles across a field. The day after they had traveled thousands of miles to come and see us. Welcome to Illinois! Walk a mile with your baby, toddlers, and all the diaper bag supplies you can carry to get to the fun!

And how I planned for us to go to the Field museum on Wednesday because it's free that day. Then finding out they changed the free days to one Monday a month in the summer, which happened to be the day before I found out. So we decided to still go, but they had to pay LOTS of $$ to get us in (prices are seriously outrageous, that's why I so frugally prepared to go on the free day). I am such an idiot. But now I've worked out the mistakes, so you can come back any time Karin, really. It will be better. And any other friends who come visit will benefit from the mistakes I made. I'm much wiser now.

Really! Come and visit us!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

April showers bring May visitors

We have had a plethora of visitors this month. Luckily, we have also had some really fabulous spring weather too. We had our very dear friends visit from Kansas City for 5 days, then the next week had John’s Mom, sister, and two nieces come for 4 days. It has been a whirlwind of happy children, cooking for large groups, being tourist-y, playing games, and enjoying each other’s company. Celebrating Hannah’s birthday was also thrown into the mix somehow. We are now preparing for and looking forward to Karin and family coming to visit! I thought I’d better get some pictures and posting up before they come or I would have too much to write about.

Juli made Hannah's cake for her birthday, and Hannah had very definite ideas about what she wanted. She even drew a picture of exactly how she wanted it to look. Juli made her dreams come true with this cake. And Hannah had so much fun helping and watching. She was also SOOOO happy that her best friends could be here for her birthday. Especially since this was her year for just a family party.

We went to Navy Pier with John's family and had such a great time. The weather was PERFECT: sunny but not too hot. The crowds were a little daunting, but not unbearable. We went on the huge ferris wheel, and we made Garrett go with us even though he is deathly afraid of heights. There were a few times when I thought he might lose his lunch, but he made it through and was even smiling at one point.

We also went on a few other rides, and let the kids play in the water fountain so they got soaking wet before we went home.

Now the kids are looking forward to another visit from very dear friends. Maybe I can use another visitor as motivation for them to clean their rooms!