Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Too long

Once again, it has been too long since my last post (I told you I wasn't good at journals, right?), So, this will be a quick summary, and I intend to follow up with some details and pictures.

So, the 20-24 of October was pretty average but we kept busy getting ready for Ruth and her kids to arrive. I knew that it would be hard to get out and do anything once I was a mother-to-seven-kids-under-7 for 5 whole days (actually Sam turned 7 a couple of months ago, but it sounds cooler to say 7-under-7), and we weren't sure how long they would be staying, so I tried to pack all of the errands/meetings/etc. into the week before.

So, that Thursday was crazy busy, and Ruth and her kids arrived on Friday. It was great to see them, and we enjoyed visiting with her. On Saturday we had a Super-Saturday activity in the morning. Ruth came to help me with the massive project I had signed up for, and we took the 6 younger kids and put them in the nursery. Sam and Nate did "manly" stuff - they went to the dump and Home Depot and mowed the lawn. Then we ran home and dumped off the kids and I drove Ruth to the airport (with no kids, because I was going straight to the church for meetings after I dropped her off). A whole hour to visit with my sister with no kids interrupting, it was great! Nate did a great job watching all 7 kids and putting them to bed while I went to a bunch of meetings (including our first trek council meeting, which was great) and chaperoned a Stake Halloween Dance.

On Sunday Nate had early meetings, so I knew that I was on my own getting everybody ready and off to church. Luckily we have late church this year (1:00 PM), so I had plenty of time. I started early and got the older 5 bathed while the babies napped. The girls got cute matching hairdos (I will post pics). We managed to get there EARLY and even survived Sacrament meeting! It helped that it was the Primary Program. Samuel and Isaac did a great job on their parts and sang the songs well. But, Isaac's friend Jaren stole the show. He was the cutest little sunbeam singing his heart out. He was so loud and funny. We were all laughing so hard. Our bishop's wife was sitting next to him and she couldn't keep a straight face.

The next three days went pretty well. We stayed home and I just tried to keep the mess from getting too out of control. We played with play dough, made cards for Ruth and Andrew, and got our Halloween costumes ready. On Tuesday night we went to the ward Trunk-or-Treat (actually our ward calls it the "Fall Festival" and the first hour is a carnival in the gym). Everybody had a good time, and the kids were very polite. They each got to eat one treat and we put the rest into a huge bowl (when you have 5 kids trick-or-treating you get way too much candy). On Tuesday Samuel only had a half-day of school, and I was watching Anna for most of the day, so I had 8-kids-under-8 underfoot. It was a L-O-N-G day. And a stinky day. In every sense of the word. But, as they all do, it came to an end and the next day was great. Ruth got home, I took my final (my-last-final-exam-of-my-undergraduate-career, that final). It is such a nice feeling to have it over and done. Actually, if I failed it then it isn't over and done, so here's hoping :)

That Friday was Halloween. As the room mother I was in charge of Samuel's school party. Nate had a meeting in the morning and was then home for the rest of the day, so he stayed home with the 4 youngest kids and Ruth and I took Isaac and Noah in for the Halloween parade and party. It turned out great - we had good treats and played bingo for prizes. The kids and the teacher thought that my meager attempt at decorating was cute and I left feeling like an okay room mother. Samuel said the kids all loved it. That night we did the normal trick-or-treating (with a little bit of extra fun - thanks Emma), and everybody had a good time. This year I told our kids that we weren't buying new costumes - we have plenty of dress-ups so there were options for all of them. The boys weren't entirely sold until I told them that if they wanted to they could choose 3 different costumes and wear one to the ward party, one to the school party, and one trick-or-treating. They thought that was great. So, Samuel was Picachu for the ward party (a hand-me-down from the neighbors), Stitch for school, and a Red Sox player for trick-or-treating (He came up with that about 15 minutes before we left, and he was so adorable in his jersey, baseball pants, and cap. He got more compliments on his costume than any of the other kids). Isaac was a prince for all three (Grace needed an escort), but he was the "knight-in-shining-armor" prince for the church and school parties and a blue and gold hand-me-down prince costume for trick-or-treating. Grace was a princess. She was beautiful. For trick-or-treating I put a little makeup on her. Nate wasn't mad, but I don't think that he was wild about it. She LOVED it. I love having a daughter! Jonas was a jack-o-lantern, but he only got dressed up for the church party (he slept through the rest). Ruth took pictures of the kids on Halloween night, as soon as she emails them to me I'll post them.

The next day, Saturday Nov. 1, was definitely the highlight. Nate and Samuel went to a Young Men service project in the morning and then we went on THE BIG DATE. Actually 4-dates-in-one. About a year ago I started craving The Melting Pot, which is a great fondue restaurant. We wanted to go, but it is expensive, so we thought we should go for something special. Once we survived the holidays and the baby being born we decided that we would go for Valentine's Day. We ended up spending Valentine's Day in the PICU of Massachusetts General Children's Hospital, and the next 2 months home with a baby who we were trying to shield from germs. Needless to say, that didn't happen. So, we decided to go for our anniversary in April. We had a Relief Society service project and Stake Priesthood meeting that weekend, so we moved it back a week. Then, on Sunday morning, we got a call from Nate's Mom telling us that his Grandma had just passed away. It was Spring Break that week, and we found an amazing deal on tickets, so we all went out to Idaho for the whole week for the funeral. We thought about going out there (there is a Melting Pot in Boise, and we would have free babysitting), but we ended up deciding to spend the weekend with family. After we got home we decided to go for my birthday the next month, but I also wanted some extra motivation to finish my degree, and I was SO close, so I told Nate that we couldn't go until I was done. I thought I could finish in 2 months. One month later I was called to be the Stake Young Women's President, and we both agreed that the degree would have to be put on the back burner for a while. Here it is November and I FINALLY finished. I had some extra incentive because my brilliant baby sister is graduating in December (just two-and-a-half-years after graduating from High School) and we are getting the same degree (BS in Psychology) from the same University (BYU) so I had to hurry and finish so that our diplomas would have the same date on them. (We'll try to forget about the fact that I am almost 9 years older than she is!). Anyway, I finally finished, and Ruth was available to babysit for FREE so we decided to go even before the score came back (worst case I have to retake the final). It was the best date EVER. We left the house after lunch, at about 1:30. We went to the temple and did sealings (which I think is so romantic, I love doing sealings and we only end up doing it about once a year, we usually just do a session). It was wonderful. Then we went to the Burlington Mall, which is my favorite mall. They have Nordstrom's, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, and great pretzels - what else could you need?! We found a great suit for Nate, a PERFECT Christmas dress for Grace, and we browsed through every store we wanted, for as long as we wanted. without worrying that the kids were going to break something. It was heaven. The best part was that we bought NOTHING (except the pretzels). No buyer's remorse. Although we found several things that we want to buy and will be shopping for deals on.

Then we went to The Melting Pot. Seriously, my favorite restaurant in the world. So romantic. So delicious. Great atmosphere. I hear the wine list is great, if you're into that, and they offered to make any of their specialty drinks non-alcoholic (which is rare out here). In honor of our 4 celebrations (Valentine's/Anniversary/Birthday/Graduation) we ordered all four courses (Cheese Fondue/Salad/Meat and Vegetable Fondue/Chocolate Fondue). It was all AMAZING. So good. And we had the best private booth - it was set up with a corner bench so that you could sit really close and the separating walls go all the way up to the ceiling so that you can't see anybody but your hot date (It sounds claustrophobic but it is not. Seriously great design.). The whole restaurant isn't like that, you can do groups there, but if you tell them that it is a special date (which Nate did when he made the reservation - good man) then you get a special romantic booth. It was perfect.

When we got home Ruth had the house all clean and the kids all sound asleep in their beds. It was heaven. We talked to her for a while, then we put on a movie (Ocean's 11 - we love it and hadn't watched it for a long time and they were playing some of the music from it at the restaurant). I lasted for about 20 minutes, and I don't think Nate finished it either. But, falling asleep together on the couch is a pretty great way to end a date (unless you aren't married, then I don't advise it - especially if you are at your parent's house and your Mom comes down and finds you that way - awkward - and embarrassing - not that I'm speaking from experience or anything).

So this post is way too long now, and that pretty much gets us up to date. Ruth left early Monday morning and today I voted (hooray!) and took the boys to the dentist (no cavities - hooray!). The rest of the week is packed with meetings and activities, but the countdown to guest time is on, so I've got to get to work. In exactly 5 weeks our first guest arrives and then we have non-stop company for 4.5 weeks. The peak is the week between Christmas and New Year's when we will have 20 people staying here. I am so excited, but I am also determined to have my house deep-cleaned and organized before that happens (you know those drawers and closets that need attention, and don't get me started on the basement). So, wish me luck. One of the weeks we will be in Michigan for Thanksgiving, so we really only have 4 weeks. I'll keep you posted. (Don't worry - I have a special notebook with my "project plan" - cue Nate's bemused laughter - now I just have to follow through!)

Sunday, October 26, 2008



This is my first link for a giveaway - but this lady makes darling stuff in Grace's size - and I would love to win her giveaway. Check it out!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thank you Grandma Cherie!

Can you believe that I am posting AGAIN today? I can't! But, our package from Grandma finally arrived and it was definitely worth waiting for. The kids were so excited to find the adorable Halloween shirts and baskets for collecting treats. We had to take some pictures.

I told them to "put their heads together" and this is what I got.

I'm not sure what Grace was contemplating so seriously.

He would smile at his brothers, but not at the camera. I should add a note about the pumpkins - they are each "posing" with their shirt from Grandma on (Jonas' shirt lights up - the ghost has flashing red lights), their treat basket from Grandma, and the pumpkin they picked out last week. You will note that Sam insisted on their pumpkins being appropriately sized, meaning that Mom and Dad's is the biggest, then Sam's, then Isaac's, then Grace's, then Jonas'. The kids all went along with this as though they would never have thought otherwise. As a result, Jonas ended up with a tiny little thing that would normally be destined for a centerpiece. But, he likes it :)

Grace was laughing at Sam jumping up and down behind me. She got the cute pants and hair bangles from Grandma as well (you can't really see the hair thing, so you will have to trust me that it is cute!)

Isaac was "drumming" his pumpkin. Isaac picked one of the ugliest pumpkins I have seen in a while. He loved that it had some red in it (orange and red are his favorite colors). It is bumpy and odd, but I hear that this type are great for cooking.

My Sam - being himself. Gotta love him. The bat on his shirt glows in the dark.

The audience!

I was just reminded by two insistent children that I forgot to post the picture of THEM at Sam's recital. They were a good little audience and they were very proud of their big brother.

Pink Lady

Much to her Father's chagrin, Grace loves pink. Head to toe. She was so excited to get her pink coat out yesterday ( it is getting cold and the windbreaker - also pink of course - just wasn't cutting it).

Some pics

Here is Samuel playing at his first recital! He is learning the Suzuki method, and he played his "Twinkle variations." All six of them - it is a long piece! But he did great. I was playing the piano accompaniment.

He takes lessons from a young woman in our ward, and her family put on a recital at their home with their children, some other families from the ward, and the students of their daughters. It was really neat, and the kids loved seeing all different instruments (piano, voilin, cello, harp, trumpet, bagpipe, and voice). The highlight was the "Petrie Family Song" - I wish we had video of that!

I have added two videos - I hope I did this right. The first is near the beginning, the second is the end with his little bow. Our camera isn't working great, sorry.

Samuel and the Marigold

There was once an adorable first-grader named Samuel. His class was learning about plants. They learned about all of the parts of a plant and how they grow. They each got a marigold seed to plant in a little paper cup. Samuel planted his seed in the black soil with care. He watered it and watched it begin to sprout.

The Friday before Mother's Day (2008) he brought it home in a pretty bag he had decorated and gave it to his Mother. He was so excited to show it to her that he just couldn't wait until Sunday. He tore the bag in his excitement and presented her with the tiny seedling. They placed it in the kitchen window and together they watered it and watched it grow.

Ever so slowly it grew taller. By mid-June it was about two-and-a-half inches tall. It was time to plant the flower garden behind the garage, and Mom and Samuel decided that this year it would be a marigold patch. They went to a local farm and purchased 17 small marigold plants, and plotted out 18 spots. Each spot was carefully prepared, and each plant was lovingly planted in the waiting earth. Samuel's little marigold looked quite pathetic. The other plants were bushy, strong, 8-inch tall monsters. Samuel's marigold was so tiny and skinny that when it was lightly watered it fell to the ground. Mother contemplated just tossing it into the woods to die - it looked pretty sad next to the others. But, together they decided to let the marigold have its day in the sun.

The marigold LOVED the sun. Soon it looked healthy and strong, though still very small. As the days and weeks past it started to grow taller, finally catching up with the other marigolds. However, while the other plants boasted beautiful blossoms of yellow, gold, and orange, Samuel's marigold still had no blossoms, or even buds. Each day Samuel would run outside to water his flowers and check for buds on his plant. Each day he found nothing.

By August his plant was twice as tall as any of the others. Mother began to question whether this was really a marigold at all! It was growing so tall, but not really becoming "bushy" and still had no signs of flowers. The leaf shape and color was so similar to the others that she thought that it must be a marigold, but wondered why it did not flower. Was something genetically wrong with it? Had they harmed it in planting it? Was it not getting enough ... something? Sun, check. Water, check. Good soil, check (at least as good as could be expected in New Hampshire). The other marigolds in the bed were thriving. Though still small and squatty compared to Samuel's growing giant, they had beautiful flowers aplenty.

Finally, in late September, after most of the flowers and vegetables in the gardens around the house had met their end, a single bloom was spotted. In excitement Samuel announced to the whole family that his marigold had finally produced a lovely yellow bloom. Everyone was "encouraged" to come examine and praise this remarkable achievement. As the days passed, and in spite of the colder nights, more blooms appeared and the plant continued to grow ever upwards. Mother and Father had never seen a marigold so large, which may have something to do with the fact that there has never been a marigold that has been so loved and prayed over by such an earnest young man. Now 7 and in second grade, Samuel continued to care for his special plant (although Mother began to neglect dead-heading the others in the plot as the gardening season came to an end).

Sunday, October 19, 2008 Mother decided that it was finally time to get a picture of the boy and his plant, before the frosts destroyed the beautiful flowers. So, here we present Samuel the toothless gardener and his special marigold. No longer a 2-inch weakling it has long since surpassed Samuel in height!

Notes: First, I wish that I was a good writer - I should have Nate write this into a storybook for the kids. He has a much better gift for that than I. Second, yesterday I reading the October Ensign, and specifically Elder Nelson's article on abortion. As I wrote this story I was thinking about the parallel - this tiny struggling plant truly seemed to have no shot at survival, and look at it now! (He tells the story of a mother who had German measles or something like that in her first trimester and was strongly urged by her doctors and family to abort what would surely be a very "damaged" baby. She decided not to, and gave birth to a wonderfully healthy baby who suffered total hearing loss but grew into a wonderfully accomplished woman.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

10/18 Update

I know, I can't believe it either, but I'm finally posting! (Sorry Martie and Rissa, I know that I promised to do this days ago!) So, while a number of deep thoughts have indeed passed through my mind over the last 12 days, at the moment I can't recall any of them, so I'll do a quick rundown (for posterity and any insomniacs out there).

Our visit with Uncle Van and Aunt Debbie was great - and they have inspired us to do a little more exploring here in New England (it is a little embarrassing when people who live in Idaho Falls have seen more of Maine than we have!) Nate had a quick trip to Chicago (good meetings and too much good food), and while he was gone I had a crazy long Thursday. Errands, getting ready for company, a leadership training meeting for all of the Young Women's Presidents in the Stake (which went well, but one of my counselors had to work and my secretary was out of town - although she made super-cute favors before she left - Thanks Becky! - but which left me talking for most of the meeting and my other counselor doing EVERYTHING behind the scenes - Thanks Dawnett!! You are amazing!!). If you know me this won't surprise you (I am NOT crafty/creative/etc.) but about 3 hours before the meeting I realized that we hadn't thought about a centerpiece. The previous Stake YW President was really creative and always did really cute things and as her counselor I never had to give it any thought. So, I started thinking about it, realized I didn't have anything particularly nice to use or time to pull it together, and emailed Dawnett to see if she would be stopping by her house and had anything that would work. She shows up (after a long day at work at a very busy job I might add) with a great autumn setup - cloths, straw, pumpkins, arrangements, etc. etc. etc. ... and more stuff for the refreshment table. I've got to tell you that there is NO WAY that I could do this calling alone. Every member of our Presidency adds so much and I just feel blessed to be a part of the team.

My sister-in-law Lora lives in Boston and met me at the church so that she could take the kids home and put them to bed while I was at the meeting (Thanks Lora!). She got a little lost on the way from the church to our house. Sam (7) got her most of the way there, but then they missed a crucial turn. He kept assuring her that she was going the right way (which she wasn't). Finally Isaac (4) said "this is not the way to my house!" Lora was pretty sure that he was right, but not completely convinced until she got to the dirt road ... Sam assured her that "we go on the dirt road all of the time" (nope, not true), but Lora knew that they were lost. Right about then she noticed that the gas light had turned on. Luckily, she was able to find the way to our house without running out of gas in the dark with four young kids.

After the meeting I went straight to the airport to pick up Nate's parents. It was so great to see them. We had a nice visit and then went to bed in preparation for a very early morning (we were getting up at 4:30 to get going in time to get Dad to his meeting in Braintree, MA. We made it down there in plenty of time (amazing, considering we had to get 8 people out the door and drive two cars right through Boston in the morning). After we dropped him off we went in search of Breakfast, which of course, meant McDonald's. I didn't know the area well, but, luckily, the GPS did. The first McD's we found had no play area - so we let the kids decide if we should go in and get food or try one more. They wanted to try one more time, so we headed off to the next closest one. We were rewarded for our patience by finding the coolest play area I have seen (outside of the Mecca of McDonald's play areas on International Drive in Orlando). They had a ball, including Jonas. They had a cute little area for little ones to crawl around and play, and since we pretty much had the place to ourselves he had free reign of the whole area. I would have taken pictures, but of course I forgot the camera (as usual).

After McDonald's we headed to Plimoth Plantation (located in the town of Plymouth but with the historical spelling). We learned about the early settlers and the Wampanoag tribe that inhabited the area when the Mayflower landed. It was very cool and informative, but not kid friendly. I am really glad that we went, but I think that we will try again when the kids are a little older. We drove into Plymouth for lunch at a great seafood place right on the water and then headed over to the Mayflower II. Mom, Lora, Samuel and Isaac toured the ship while I sat with the little ones while they slept. Then we picked up Dad and headed into Cambridge to pick up Lora's boyfriend. It was time for him to "meet the parents." I think that went well :) He is getting a PhD in particle physics at MIT so he took us on a little tour of some of the cool stuff on campus (we had some time to kill - Nate was flying into Logan at 7:30). We had a good time there and then loaded the kids up and I headed to the airport to pick Nate up. Lora and Teppo (he is from Finland) took Mom and Dad to see her office at HBS (they had a little trouble getting there - neither of them have cars or ever drive in the city, so while they knew how to easily walk there they didn't know how to navigate the one-way streets and bridges). We all got home around the same time and put the kids to bed and enjoyed some more nice conversation.

Saturday we went to Concord, MA. I should mention that this whole weekend the leaves were absolutely beautiful. This was the peak of the colors, and they were amazing. In Concord we toured the Orchard House (where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women - it was really neat, I enjoyed learning about her family), had lunch at a fun diner called Helen's, and toured the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery - which is beautiful - it is very large with winding paths and has crumbling old headstones alongside newer ones. Nate loves old cemeteries, and this one was full of interesting stuff. This is where Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson and many others are buried. There is a massive granite monument erected by a soldier from the Civil War in memory of the 3 brothers who went to war with him and didn't make it home. After the cemetery we went to Walden Pond. It was beautiful. We watched the sun set over the pond while we skipped rocks and enjoyed the reflection of the colorful trees in the water. There were people swimming, but it was pretty cold water (it is October after all). We visited the replica of his cottage there, and then we headed home for dinner.

Sunday we went to visit the Peterborough Branch (I had to go for their Branch Conference, so I took the whole family along. The timing worked better with their flight schedule, and I thought that the drive would be beautiful, which it was.) It was a great day, especially because our new Stake Camp Director was set apart - and I am very excited to get to work with her. The meetings went well and we had a nice "linger-longer" with the Branch afterward.

Nate's parents and Lora and Teppo left that night, and Monday Nate had no work and Samuel had no school (Columbus Day) so we made the most of it and ... cleaned the garage!! Boring, but it was so great to get it done. Then for family night we went to Lull Farm to visit the animals and pick out our pumpkins. It was a fun night.

Tuesday I did service in the temple laundry, which was a wonderful way to spend the day, and the rest of the week seemed to fly by. I had an eye infection for a few days, which was pretty painful and very inconvenient. I couldn't wear my contacts and my glasses have been mangled by the kids (they now only have one side) so I couldn't go to the gym for 3 days, which I missed. But, Friday I was fine and went back for a great class. Friday night was Samuel's Violin Recital. He did WONDERFUL. This was his first performance, and Nate and I have been speculating over whether he would be a "sweaty hands fumbles under pressure" or a "steps up and shines under pressure" kid - he is definitely the latter. I was very pleased with him. We had a great discussion on the way over about how when you have worked really hard and done all the preparation that you can then you can ask Heavenly Father for help and he will help you do your best. We said a prayer and he didn't even seem nervous after that. It was a fun recital and while the kids weren't perfect by any means they behaved pretty well.

Today I spent most of the day up at Zion's Camp in meetings with the YW Presidents and Camp Directors from all 9 Stakes who do Girl's Camp there. The meetings were productive, but VERY long. Nate kept all of the kids and made lots of progress on getting the yard cleaned up for winter. The leaves are falling now, and staying ahead of them is always an uphill battle.

The kids are all doing well. Sam has learned about choices and consequences this week. Isaac has become a backseat driver. He admonishes me often - "Mom, why did you go? The light was red. Red means STOP!" (I'm making legal right-turns I swear). Grace is sweet and her maturity (compared to the boys at 2-1/2) is astounding to me. She knows what she wants and she can be a little pushy if she doesn't get it. Jonas continues to be so sweet. He has a tooth (and likes to use it) says "Dada" and is spending lots of time working on standing up alone.

We are looking forward to a good week - especially because the Gough cousins are arriving this week Hip, Hip, Hooray!! And, we hear there is a package of Halloween surprises in the mail from Grandma Cherie - if the mailman would ever bring it to us :) now, if the boys could just decide what they will be for Halloween ...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Conference Weekend

I only have a minute, but wasn't Conference wonderful?! I do have to admit that due to Nate's half-marathon on Saturday we haven't watched those sessions yet - but, Sunday was great. We really enjoyed watching and spending a whole day together as a family. The highlight was really President Monson's talk at the end of the morning session. We had all been taking notes, doing the conference workbooks, etc. during the rest of the session, but for his talk we put everything else down, put the baby to bed and just sat together on the couch to "listen to a Prophet's voice." It was such a beautiful and inspiring message. I felt loved and encouraged and so GRATEFUL for a living prophet. At one point I said to Nate "we should watch this talk every day!" It just contained so many things that we need to remember! I wish every day was Conference.

But, today we are back to the grind. I hope that you all have a wonderful week, and for those of you here in New England - go outside! These colors won't last too much longer :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

This Week

While I'm at it I should post some updates about this week:

Last weekend's ward campout was cancelled due to rain. The kids were disappointed, but accepted it without too much fuss. We enjoyed a Friday evening at home, and a busy Saturday. We bought a trailer to pull behind my SUV for going to the dump, etc. (since we sold Nate's truck the week before, I already mentioned that, right?). Anyway, we got that and the wood to finish the new shelves in the storage room downstairs, and we got the house all cleaned for the open house that night.

I LOVE entertaining. I love how it forces me to clean more deeply, I love the excitement just before the first guests arrive - making sure everything is set out just right (although my kids were so nervous that nobody would come, they were looking out the window every 2 seconds). We ended up with a houseful. The entire main floor was literally PACKED with people - I was so glad that we could all show the Bischoff family how much we love them and will miss them - there were a number of conflicts that night, but so many people really made an effort to be there. It was great. Right after the party when the last guests had left, the kids were in bed, and the leftovers were put away we just sat and listened to the silence. It felt so empty and quiet. But, it had been loud enough and full enough that we just enjoyed the emptiness and each other. It was a great night.

The next day after church we went to a baptism for a boy in our ward. It was a great baptism - I love how the wards really gather together to celebrate these events. Most of us live far from family, so there is often no extended family present. But, the room is always packed - standing room only - with ward members showing support. Because it was Fast Sunday there were no refreshments - they said to come over to their house around 7 or 8 for treats. Now, by the end of the baptism it was 5 and everybody had a 20-45 minute ride home, then needed to make and eat dinner, and it was a school night, and had been a long day already, so you would think that not many people would go for refreshments (especially because their house is at least 20 minutes from most of the ward). But, you would be wrong. This is the Frischknecht family and they are well known for their desserts. They are GREAT cooks. As Vicki said, "when the Frischknechts are serving dessert you GO and you go EARLY." She isn't kidding. We got there at 7:10 thinking we would be among the early ones and they had already finished off the first trifle and all of the creme brulee's! Luckily - there was plenty more. She had made a "mormon" tiramisu that was AMAZING. I have always wanted to try it, but what with the espresso and liqueur, never did :) She said that you just get a good recipe, soak the cookies in milk, and use cocoa powder for the top. It was like cake in custard - really good custard (and cake and custard are two of my very favorite things). I am amazed that I only had one piece (ok, I helped Grace with hers, you know - a bite for you, a bite for me, a bite for you ....)

Anyway, it was great, but the kids got to bed late again (Sam was revelling in having had 2 parties in a row!) The next night we had friends over for FHE. Yes, we did it - I was so nervous about completing the Bishop's challenge of inviting a non-member family over for FHE, but we did it. We prayed for help, and it ended up being so easy. A couple of weeks ago Sam was looking at some copies of the Book of Mormon that the Elders left at our house and asked us to try to give away. He asked if he could give one to his friend Jonathan. Jonathan rides the bus with him and lives pretty close - just outside our neighborhood. I have talked to his Mom frequently, and the boys play at each other's houses frequently, but I had never met the father. I asked Sam if he thought that we should invite Jonathan's family for FHE. He was thrilled. I ran it by Nate really quick and hurried to make the phone call before I chickened out. She was excited and said that they had plans that Monday, but would love to come the next Monday. They have boys the same ages as Sam and Isaac and an older girl. I was worried that the girl would be bored, but she was so fun to talk to and seemed very comfortable. We played games and had treats. Nate and Jose seemed to get along well, and although we didn't talk religion we told them that we are Mormon and why we have Family Home Evening. They are Catholic, but don't go to church regularly or consider themselves religious. I told her that Sam would like to give Jonathan a Book of Mormon and she said that would be fine. Her only concern was that it would hurt Sam's feelings if Jonathan wasn't excited about it. I think that he will be fine. He hasn't given it to him yet because he wants to write in it first.

So, this made THREE parties in a row, three late bedtimes, and a very tired Sam on Tuesday morning. Tuesday was packed with errands and commitments - the kids and I left the house before 9 AM and other than running home to meet Sam's bus and pick him up we didn't get home until 8 PM. But, I got alot done, including Visiting Teaching (yes, it was the 30th - at least it got done :) Wednesday was a cleaning day, babysitting day, and Violin lesson. Sam is doing well and is ready for his first recital on the 17th. When he is focusing he sounds great - when he is not he sounds like a dying cat. I made the mistake of telling him that the other day. Now he gets great enjoyment out of playing out-of-tune and calling it the "dead cat song." Boys.

Thursday Nate's Uncle Van and Aunt Debbie arrived. Van is Linda's older brother. He is a dentist in Idaho Falls. Neither of them have ever been to New England, so they planned a visit to come see the fall colors. We spent an enjoyable evening with them and then Friday they drove up to Vermont. They are traveling around Vermont, Northern NH, and Maine, and will be back here on Monday evening. Tuesday and Wed they will visit sites in Mass. and they fly out Wednesday evening. Nate's parents arrive Thursday evening so they just miss each other!

Last night Sam and I attended the "Ice Cream Social" at his school. It is a fun fundraiser, and I volunteered at the cake walk for an hour. Then we enjoyed ice cream and came home to watch a movie with Dad (we also had 2 sweet friends with us - Annie and Eliza Gustafson. Their Dad, our Bishop, is out running the St. George marathon, and their older brother was playing with his band at the High School football game. They are such sweet girls - they were a great help with the kids and with dinner, and Sam and I enjoyed having them come to the Ice Cream Social with us. We thought that with all of us we would surely win something from the cake walk, but, alas, we did not.)

Today is Nate's half marathon in Hollis, and then trying to watch General Conference and get to the dump and other Saturday errands and jobs. I finished my last quiz for my course on Thursday and ordered my final exam. Nate is taking the day off on the 13th (Sam is out of school for Columbus Day) so I will take the test then. As long as I get a 62% on the final I will be the proud owner of a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. It will be great to have it done!

Ruth - the kids just left the FUNNIEST message on your answering machine for Noah's birthday today. Enjoy! And HAPPY FIFTH BIRTHDAY NOAH! WE LOVE YOU!


Yesterday I put a DVD into my laptop and for some reason I couldn't get it to play. This was annoying because it is a fairly new laptop and should be working well. So, I tried the old "turn it off, count to 30, turn it back on" trick, and, of course, it worked just great. Why does this work? I'm sure that there are sophisticated electronic explanations (my car is having a similar problem, every once in a while the overdrive gets into a funk, but if you turn the car off - wait a minute - and turn it back on it is fine, and the mechanics couldn't find anything wrong with it - so wierd).

So I was thinking about this as I was contemplating how THOROUGHLY EXHAUSTED I have been the last few days. The kids are not sleeping well, Jonas in particular - I think he is starting to get teeth - so, as a result, I am not sleeping well at all. Since Wednesday I have been just dragging, and I am finding myself grumpy and completely devoid of willpower. Yesterday all I wanted all day was to curl up in front of a fire with hot chocolate, a book, and my red velour blanket. Of course, I got none of that, but I didn't get much productive done while I was daydreaming about it all day. (I am also having a bit of a hard time adjusting to the low temperatures, if you know me you know that I am happiest at 90 degrees with lots of humidity. Florida is perfect for me - but it about killed Nate. I love the seasons, and the colors here are breathtaking right now, I just wish it could be beautiful and WARM at the same time :)

Back to sleep - I think that I am like my computer. If I don't get to completely power down every once in a while I start to forget how to function correctly. I obsess over silly things, I forget important things, and I just don't function at my peak.

So, while the rest of you girls probably have all sorts of fun planned for tonight while the men are off at the Priesthood session, these are my plans: Simple dinner for the kids (Nate is going to a "Bratwurst Fry" at the home of our Young Men's President before the session), early bedtime for all, including me, and curling up with that book.

I should tell you - "that book" is Breaking Dawn. I have already read the spoilers, and I didn't really plan on reading it anytime soon, I just don't have much time. But, I was at the library on Thursday and as I was checking out they said they had a book on hold for me. When I put my name on the list for it I think that I was number 382, so I thought that I would get it sometime next year - they must have more copies than I thought. So, now I have it, and I can't NOT read it, so I know what I'll be doing before and after conference tomorrow. Hopefully I can finish it by tomorrow night, because we have a busy week next week and the last thing I should be doing is reading. But, maybe tonight and tomorrow will be enough to "restart" me back into proper working order.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

50 Questions and Answers

I want to do a new post, and every day I have these thoughts about what would make a great post - until I sit down at a computer. Then I always feel like I have nothing interesting to say. So, I'm going to copy some of my friends and answer this 50 question thing.

Fifty Questions (and answers):
1. Do you like blue cheese? No
2. Have you ever smoked a cigarette? No
3. Do you own a gun? No - I am very against guns in the house. Unfortunately my husband is for it. We just had a discussion about this on Sunday. He reminded me that we are currently storing his brother's gun in our basement (I had forgotten about that, and now that I remember I am totally freaked out about it- I know it is in pieces and my kid's wouldn't be able to do anything with it, but still, it's a gun and I want it out - Russell, let me know when you will be picking it up :) Nate owns a gun, which is at his parent's house, and our compromise is that he can bring it here when he has a VERY secure safe that this kids could NEVER break into).
4. What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic? No Sonics out here (that I have seen), but I like their "ocean water" I don't know what flavors it has.
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointment? No. But I do get nervous before dentist appointments.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? Love them. But, only the cheap ones (the ones that are totally made of questionable things that I don't want to think about), and only over a campfire - or in Macaroni and Cheese.
7. Favorite Christmas Song? I love Christmas music. I like Oh, Holy Night, and I often sing Silent Night as a lullaby to my kids. I have a box of Christmas CDs that I get out before Thanksgiving. Playing it makes me so excited. I LOVE Christmas.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Water, Orange Juice (Mom, can you believe it!? Still without pulp though)
9. Can you do push-ups? On my knees. Being able to do real push-ups correctly is one of my major fitness goals. In High School I thought that I could do them, but after the fitness portion of Junior Miss I was informed by my Uncle David that I did them totally incorrectly.
10. What is your favorite movie? That's a tough one. I like movies that I have seen a million times, and Nate likes to always watch something new. I love The Princess Bride and You've Got Mail and The Sound of Music and Just Like Heaven and Return to Me. Those are all great for me to turn on while I'm folding laundry and I don't care if I miss half of it. My favorite scary movie is The Others - for so many reasons - but Nate won't watch scary movies more than once, and I don't like to watch them alone.
11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring. It is usually my ONLY piece of jewelry. I also love pearl earrings. They are so simple and sophisticated and beautiful and pure. I want to be pearl earrings.
12. Favorite hobby? Reading (someday I'll have time to read again), traveling, doing paperwork/financial statements/taxes. Seriously.
13. Do you work with people who idolize you? Samuel is definitely past that point, but the younger three absolutely. I spend a large amount of time "working" with my Presidency and the Stake Young Men's presidency, and I think (hope) that they all like me, but I don't think that anyone "idolizes" me.
14. Do you have ADD? My Mom is pretty convinced that we all do - and I think that just about anyone can identify aspects of their personality that fall somewhere on the spectrum of ADD. But, I don't think that I have it.
15. What’s one trait that you hate about yourself? Where to start? At the moment I don't like how I don't fight for what I want or need (or my family needs) because I am too afraid to "inconvenience" someone.
16. What’s your middle name? I don't have one. My maiden name (Harper) is now my middle name, which I love except that it sounds weird with Fisher.
17. Name three thoughts at this moment: My legs are sore, I need new workout shoes, I wonder if I can get the main floor cleaned before the baby wakes up.
18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday: An oil change for my Explorer, pizza and salad at Chuck-E-Cheese (right across the street from the oil change place - 1.5 hours with 3 kids under 5, we were NOT going to sit in that little waiting room!), and a scout leader shirt for Nate.
19. Current worry right now? Is it going to rain the entire weekend that my in-laws are here?
21. Current hate right now? (hey! Where was question #20?) Feeling uninformed when I don't read the news and feeling annoyed when I do.
22. Favorite place to be? Wherever Nate is.
23. How did you bring in the New Year? We went to a party at a friend's house, but I the kids and I were tired so we came home around 10:30 (Jonas was born 4 days later).
24. Where would you like to go? Everywhere. My list right now is: Italy, China, South Africa, Peru, Australia
25. Name three people who will complete this? Julie and Cheryl already did, does that count?
26. Whose answer do you want to read the most? Anyone.
27. What color shirt are you wearing? Navy Blue shirt from Oxford University.
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Yes, I think that my favorite is flannel, but I'll sleep on about anything. I LOVE to sleep :)
29. Can you whistle? Nope. Not at all.
30. Favorite color? I usually say blue and red. But, I like them all. I know it is trendy and unoriginal, but I am loving this brown and aqua thing.
31. Would you be a pirate? Nope.
32. What songs do you sing in the shower? I think in the shower. No singing.
33. Favorite girl’s name? Grace and Kate
34. Favorite boy’s name? Nate, Samuel, Isaac, Jonas (I like Nate better than Nathan and Samuel better than Sam.)
35. What’s in your pocket right now? No pockets. I don't usually put things in my pockets. Especially cell phones. I have had 3 bad experiences with putting cell phones in my pocket. It is now strictly forbidden.
36. Last thing that made you laugh? Last night there was a pretty funny line in the chapter I was reading for the class I am taking. I swear this professor has no editor. I showed it to Nate and he got a pretty good laugh out of it too.
37. Best bed sheets as a child? I think that I had Rainbow Brite - or Strawberry Shortcake? Mom?
38. Worst injury you’ve ever had? Nothing major - I have a scar on my knee from trying to show how well I could ride my bike with no feet or hands (feet on the handlebars, hands behind my head, tire hitting the curb, me hitting the pavement). No broken bones, only one sprained ankle.
39. What is your favorite snack? Nachos. (Not the ones with the fake cheese, real nachos)
40. Favorite thing to do on Sundays? Quiet time with my family. Puzzles.
41. Who is your loudest friend? Samuel.
42. How many dogs do you have? None. Never. (Sorry Isaac)
43. Does someone have a crush on you? Isaac. I wonder how long that will last? I don't think that Nate believes in "crushes"
45. What is your favorite book? (where was #44?) So many options. I don't know. I love the Princess Bride, I like anything by Dickens, I enjoy historical fiction. I love anything by Anita Stansfield (she writes LDS romantic fiction - not deep at all - but always a pleasant read. Her books are like comfort food to me.)
46. What is your favorite candy? My Mom's homemade chocolates. Mmmmmm. My mouth is watering.
47. What is your favorite sports team? Boston Red Sox. I LOVE baseball.
48. What song do you want played at your funeral? I don't know.
49. What were you doing 12 AM last night? Sleeping.
50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up this morning? Grace was crying because she had a nightmare and came to find us and got disoriented and went into the wrong room. I think that I was just hoping that she would go back to sleep. She did, but she woke Jonas up, so I fed him and put him back to bed (this was at 3am), then Isaac woke up - it was all downhill from there.

That took a lot longer than I thought it would. You should all answer these questions too- I can't wait to read yours!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Evening Update

I don't think that I have anything remarkable or insightful to say, but I do want to keep this blog fairly up-to-date, and Sunday evening is a good time for me to do it. The kids are in bed (Nate is actually asleep too- rare for him to fall asleep before me, but he isn't feeling great and took some cold medicine that wiped him out). I'm enjoying my "day of rest" and letting the house go until tomorrow, so I have time to write!

I had to look at the calendar to remember what we did this week - it seems like it flew by. I accomplished my goal of going to the gym every day (Monday through Friday), and I was sure sore by the end, but I feel great now and I'm excited to do it again this week. I have a great friend who is doing it with me which makes such a huge difference for me.

Sam went to his best friend Thayer's birthday part on Saturday - he has been looking forward to it for weeks. He got to ride the bus home with him and then they went (with a bunch of other kids) to play Laser Tag and other fun games. He had such a great time and keeps telling me that we need to go back so that he can show me all of the games (Thanks Tiina!).

Isaac and Grace had a great week together. They are really enjoying this new routine with Sam back in school all day. They play together so well and they are doing "Preschool" together. I agonized for months over where I wanted to send Isaac to school. There are some great programs around here, and I also have some wonderful friends who I did Preschool with last year for him. He loved it, but I just wasn't sure how well I would be able to teach Preschool with two younger kids trying to get in on the action. It is also hard because even though all of the families were in our ward we are really spread out, so most of them live about 30 minutes away. That made it hard because I didn't want to drop him off, drive all the way home and go all the way back so I ended up usually staying or just sitting in the car, and I didn't want to do that all winter with Jonas and Grace. Also, I just didn't feel like either of those options would really meet his needs. Isaac is very smart- he has a great memory and a quick mind, and he has already mastered the alphabet and sounding words out. He is good with numbers, and he loves stories and games. What he needs is one-on-one help with his fine motor skills and his pronunciation. He can't seem to master holding a pencil correctly, and his drawing and coloring is about the same as his sister (who is almost 2 years younger). So, we are practicing every day - he is writing his name pretty well now, and we are doing some informal speech therapy each day as well. He really loves it. I'll need to make sure that I arrange some play dates for him more often, but he loves doing his worksheets with me and reading to his sister. They both remind me every day that we need to do school and they sit up to the table together. It is so sweet, and I am loving this time with them. I was so worried about keeping him home, but I know that this is the best thing for him, and I am glad that I did. I think that I was worried that other people would judge me for not sending him, I don't know why.

This weekend I went down to "Time Out for Women" with a group of women from my Stake. Friday was crazy trying to get ready to leave and I was feeling bad about leaving Nate with all four kids because I knew that he had things that he needed to do on Saturday. I almost wished that I hadn't bought the ticket - but I had - so I wasn't going to waste it. Nate was so supportive and encouraged me to go and have fun and I really did. I enjoyed the music and the talks, and it was great to spend time with friends and make some new ones as well. Of course, I also left with a few goals (in no particular order):

1- Write handwritten letters more often
2- Do family service projects
3- Give compliments freely (5 "split-seconds" a day)
4- Stop comparing my worst to everyone else's best (a constant problem for me)
5- Tell my kids every day how much their Heavenly Father loves them

To be honest, I thought that the speakers were good, but I didn't feel "in need" of most of the stuff they talked about. Not that I'm doing things perfectly - not even close - but the focus was on having "joy" and I think that I do. I have challenges and frustrations, like anyone, but I fully recognize that I have been extremely blessed, and I love my life. I am doing what I choose to do. I have an amazing husband who supports me in every possible way, and wonderful kids who love me unconditionally and who teach me new things every day. I have a home to live in, a car to drive, food on my table, and clothes to wear (although I can't say that I like any of my clothes - I really need a personal shopper ... and a clothes budget :).

The first speaker was a counselor/therapist who talked mostly about improving your relationship and communication with your husband. He was great and said some neat things, but to be honest I don't have any problems communicating with Nate. He is a great listener, he lets me vent whenever I need to, and he doesn't get bored or annoyed when I don't want to follow his advice. He vents to me also and we usually feel the same way about things. I think that we have the best marriage in the world (and I hope that you all think that yours is the best!)

I cam home to a house that was even cleaner than I left it and kids who were happy and well cared for (and luckily starving - leaving a nursing baby for 24 hours and forgetting to take your pump is not a good idea). Somehow Nate had mowed the lawn, taken the trash to the dump, cleaned the garage, mopped the kitchen floor, and done 3 loads of laundry - all with the 4 kids underfoot. What can I say, he is a Super Dad.

We had great church meetings today, and this should be another good week, but even busier than last week. Sam and Isaac have set some new goals and we made new chore charts today- hopefully that will help them to be more successful at meeting their goals. We were able to confirm that the city league basketball doesn't play on Sundays (at least not in Sam's division, next year it looks like we won't be so lucky), so he is thrilled that he will get to play. That doesn't start for another month, but he wants to add that and go back to gymnastics so I told him that he has to show me a few weeks of being able to handle everything that he has already committed to before we can add more (but I do really want to get him back to the gym - he does so well and he really loves it).

We are looking forward to a big ward campout this weekend, Nate running a half marathon and having his aunt and uncle visit the next weekend (and General Conference), and his parents visiting the next weekend (and I may run the Tuft's Women's 10K in Boston on Columbus Day, I'm still deciding). After that my sister Ruth is coming to visit and is leaving her kids here while she and her husband go to a conference in Vegas for a week (7 kids for a week will be interesting - ages 9 months, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and barely 7 - but the cousins are SO excited to see each other. It will be great - as long as I don't have to go anywhere with all of them!)

Next month is also packed with Young Women's meetings - one big meeting with all of the YW Presidencies in the Stake, meeting with 3 new Presidencies to train them, our first trek council meeting, a dance, and then we start in on all of the YW in Excellence programs in November. It just never slows down but I love it, this is such a fun calling.

I just hope that sometime in the next month we get to go on a date. Our weekends have all been overscheduled, and the friends we used to trade babysitting with have moved away, so it has been a while. Hopefully we will figure that out - although we are working in the temple together on the 14th, which will be like a date. So, that will be nice. With Nate home most nights now it feels like we get a date every night when the kids are asleep. I'm getting so spoiled! He'll be done with this client (in Boston) next month, and then he'll go back to traveling every week instead of just once or twice a month. It will take some adjusting again, but luckily we'll have the holidays to break it up.

Sorry, this post is SOOOO long - I really should write more than once a week. If you held on this long you must really love us - we love you too! Have a good week!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

He Reached the Beach!

So, Nate's team finished at around 4:10 PM on Saturday. They did great - coming in ahead of their anticipated time, and only about 20 minutes slower than last year even though they had added some new (slower) runners (like Nate). The kids and I arrived to see them cross the finish line ... about 5 minutes after they crossed the finish line. Oh well. The kids hardly noticed. We had stopped at Zion's Camp to drop off firewood and water and attend the first part of the Stake Activity (Nate pointed out to me that the activity was actually right on the way to the finish line of his race, so I was able to do both - sort of). It was great to see him and the team he had run with, and the kids LOVED the beach. This is the closest ocean beach to our house (I have to say ocean, because I have the kids convinced that the lake beach right hear in town is just as good!) but we had never been there before. It was beautiful. Sam had wanted to pack the big beach bag, swim suits, etc. but I told him that we were not going to be swimming. Silly me, you would think I had never met my kids! Of course the boys jumped in about 2 seconds after they saw the waves crashing against the beach. At least they took off their shirts, socks, and shoes first. Grace was more hesitant- we took off our shoes to wade in, but even that was making her a little nervous. Then she saw that Aunt Lora was out with Nate and the boys (who were diving into the waves). She took off running to go get Aunt Lora and got bowled over by a wave. I had to run and grab her, so I ended up with soaked pants. I had originally intended to have Nate drop me off at Zion's Camp on the way home so that I could catch the end of the activity, but that idea pretty much ended with the soaking-wet-covered-with-sand-didn't-even-bring-a-towel pants. Oh well, we had fun, and it was nice to just go all the way home with Nate and spend the evening with him. He is still trying to talk me into doing it with him next year - it all sounds great except for the running part!

Today was a double-ward-conference day. Nashua 1st Ward at 9:00 and Merrimack (my home ward) at 1:00 (they both meet in the same building). So, I left for meetings at 8:30, after setting out clothes for the kiddos (didn't pack a diaper and treats bag, oops, sorry Nate - actually sorry kids who ended up at church with no baby wipes and nothing to amuse them, although he did grab some fruit snacks). The meetings went well, I accompanied musical numbers in both Sacrament Meetings with no big mistakes, held Presidency meetings during both Sunday school hours, had an AP/YW meeting (with lunch) during the hour break between meetings, and spoke in the second ward YW meeting. We are doing a slightly modified format with the ward conference meetings for the youth. We start out all combined and President Durham (the 1st Counselor in our Stake Presidency - he is over the youth programs) speaks to everyone. He always does a great job and the youth LOVE him. Then the young men split off into their quorums. The Stake YM Presidency is working with them on how to effectively conduct meetings, so they wanted them in smaller groups. So far I have had the young women all stay together, and we have done slightly different formats depending on which ward it is and what their needs are. Today I had my 1st Counselor and Secretary speak to the 1st ward, and my 2nd Counselor and I spoke to my ward. I wasn't sure if I wanted to speak in my own ward or not, so I let each of them chose their assignment and I took what was left. I think that it turned out well. They are all dynamic women, and the young women love them. They each bring such a unique and important spirit to our Presidency. I am blessed to know them and to call them my friends.

It has been a nice Sunday afternoon, and we are looking forward to what we hope will be a productive week. I am going to "Time Out for Women" in Springfield, MA on Friday and Saturday and Nate is going to be home with the kids. I haven't been to one before, but I am looking forward to it, and I am sharing a hotel room with two of my good friends (one is my 1st Counselor, and the other one is the previous Stake YW President, so hopefully we'll get alot of good ideas for future events/activities).

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Making Progress ... but painfully #3

Coming to you live from a strip mall parking lot in NH - recent updates to hour progress.

I just finished my second leg in the last hour. Lora is in the middle of her second leg. For me the second leg was better (better split time, more enjoyable), but some of our car has posted slower times. It could have something to do with starting the legs for our car just prior to 2AM and with getting only about 2 hours of sleep on a High School lawn. Interestingly, the High School was the wrong transition point and we actually had to back track to the previous transition area, but it worked out okay.
I'm still pretty wired from my leg, but I think I am going to crash pretty soon. Teppo has to finish his leg (after Lora) and then we have about 4 hours until our next (last) legs. My calves are a little tight and one of my arches feels like it's cramping, but all in all I feel pretty good and I would definitely like to do this event again.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Making Progress ... but different ... #2

So this will be a quick one. We are bedding down for the night on the lawn of Belmont High School in Belmont, NH. Our team has run nearly 100 miles and everyone is still feeling good. Our car starts running again in about 2-3 hours (around 2AM). We are making good time over our estimates, having gained nearly an hour; though some hard legs are coming up so we will see if that holds.
For dinner we ate at this place called Giovanni's in Meredith. The highlight, beyond eating after nearly 9 hours without a meal that included a run of 4-6 miles was the pianist who played, not at the same time, Chopin, Eric Clapton (he sang as well - not well), and Christmas music. Strange though it was, it was nice. Well, I've got to get to bed. More coming after the next leg.

Making Progress ... but different

So this is my first post, on my first blog, on my first time on the Internet ever (can you say "Troglodyte" or "Luddite"). Actually I have been on the Internet before and, in fact, I am posting this blog from the middle of the woods in Northern New Hampshire (yes, it's proper). How's that, "Mrs. and Bro. So-You-Think-I'm-Such-A-Troglodyte-and/or-Luddite"? (he said with great feeling)
So, why am I in the woods in NNH? Rachel alluded to it, but I will expand. I am in the bottom of the first third of a 200 mile road ... thing (to call it a race for our team would be generous). Our team of 12 is running 36 relay legs over around 30 hours. The first, other, car of 6 started this morning just before 10 AM. We are now waiting for the first runner from our car to finish her leg. I start running in about 2 hours and Lora runs after me.
It's been fun so far. We've been admiring some great scenery and I had a great hamburger at a roadside diner; but only after we had a lively discussion about the relative merits of protein vs. complex vs. simple carbs approximately 4-6 hours before running. It was decided that hamburger would be an appropriate choice, which is good because I was probably going to have the hamburger anyway.
It's time to go cheer our first runner. I will keep you posted as we progress.

Making progress

It has been so great to get "back in touch" with so many of you via the world of blogging! Why didn't I do this ages ago? Who knows. But, it's funny- lately I feel like there are so many things that we are finally getting done. I don't know why it is all happening at once, but Nate is making major progress on getting his dissertation done, I am almost done with my last class for my degree, we have made some big changes in living a healthier lifestyle, we are getting our house de-junked and re-organized, and we are making some good progress towards meeting some big short-term financial goals. I don't know, it doesn't look like much in type, but it feels good. It feels a little less like my days are spent treading water.

The baby's cold seems to be getting worse this week - when you have had a "cold" for 7 months it is all a matter of degrees, but the poor little thing is just not his usual chipper self, and his eyes and nose are much drippier than usual. As a result, I am hesitant to leave him tomorrow, so now I'm really not sure what to do about attending the stake activity. If Nate would be home to watch him that would be fine, but he is off on his race. These are the times when it feels like life would be so much easier if we lived close to family. We do have Nate's sister Lora an hour away, but she keeps a pretty busy schedule, and she is off running with him this weekend (come on Lora, why can't you just be lazy like me!). Last night he was trying to convince me that I should run on this relay team next year. It all sounds great except the running part, but maybe I should give it a try. I do really want to do the women's 10k in Boston in October... at least I do today. Half of the time I just feel like it is a silly idea. I really can't run, and I don't want to slow anybody down or do it alone. I know that there are some women in my ward who are planning to run/walk it - I just need to get serious about training with them. Also, now that I think about it that may be the same weekend that my in-laws are in town, and I would much rather take my mother-in-law sightseeing. We REALLY have to go tour the Louisa May Alcott's home in Concord this time - it is becoming quite the joke that every time she comes out we intend to go there, and never quite make it (we did make it once, but we missed the last tour by 10 minutes and couldn't go inside). So, we are definitely going next month (they are coming out for a quick visit for Nate's Dad to attend a dental conference in Boston).

Today I am watching a couple of extra kids, getting caught up on housework (yesterday was packed full and the house is showing the neglect), and hopefully finishing a book I have been reading about the handcart companies. I am getting so emotionally wrapped up in this Handcart Trek that we are planning for our youth. I just don't know how to strike that proper balance of helping them understand the sacrifices that were made and the sorrow and pain of that experience, while also helping them see the hand of God in it, and in their own lives so that the story becomes inspiring instead of depressing. But, I know for certain that this is the experience that our youth need to have this next year. I've been doing presentations about it at Stake Council, Bishop's meetings, Stake Youth Committee meetings, and AP/YW committee meetings and every time I talk about it I get chills. I just feel this huge excitement about how it will be and what it will mean in these kids' lives, and I also feel the crushing weight of responsibility. Luckily, in the next weeks the High Council is extending calls to the committee heads, which will allow Brother Newey (the Stake YM President) and I to shift some of that weight. That will be a big relief - maybe I won't lay awake at night worrying about it so much (this is still 10 months away - not a good sign that I'm already this stressed!)

This is becoming a really long post, but this is pretty much it for my journal right now, and it is my blog so I can write as long as I want, right? Feel free to stop reading anytime . . . still here? Okay, well I was thinking about that quote from one of the survivors of either the Willie or Martin Handcart company who said that He knew that God was with them because they became "acquainted with him in our extremities." Isn't it interesting how true that is for all of us. In the extremities of life - big blessings, big trials, pure joy, devastating sorrow - it is so easy for us to see the hand of God. In the more mundane lulls of everyday life we forget to look for his hand. I love something President Eyring has talked about - how he kept a journal where everyday he would write down some way that he saw the hand of the Lord in his life that day. I think that if we look for it we will always find it.

I have so much to be grateful for, and such a good life. It is sad that I have to keep reminding myself to focus on that and ignore the things that I just can't change right now. I am loving this stage of life right now with my adorable kiddos. Isaac is just continually cracking me up (although yesterday I was MORTIFIED when he slammed our shopping cart into a poor little employee at Walmart - needless to say he spent the rest of the trip in the cart) - I think that so far the first 6 months are my very favorite (I know many of you disagree but I think that newborns are just the greatest thing EVER), but those are followed closely by 4-years-old. They are old enough to express their feelings and needs clearly, and young enough to still think that you are perfect and that you know everything. They haven't been exposed to the outside world enough to pick up bad habits and language so all they know is what you have taught them (for better or for worse).

I never know how to end these posts. So. The End (for now).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

So much energy!

So, we ended up not taking the canoes back last night, Nate got home late and I doubt that either of the families are planning to canoe in the rain this week. So, we just had a regular lesson. Nate taught from Preach My Gospel on the principle of "patience." The lesson was fine, but the kids were so wiggly! Finally Nate showed all three of them how to lace their fingers together and hold their hands clasped in their laps. They did this so well until he finished the lesson, but as soon as they put their hands together their legs started swinging back and forth. It was so cute I giggled (not helping with the reverence- sorry Nate). They just COULDN'T sit still. They were trying, and they really did quite well, but they just have so much energy!

I wish I had that kind of energy! I am the opposite - if I could curl up on the couch all day I would (with my red blanket and a good book). Alas, I have things to do! Today was Sam's Open House, so I went in to meet his teacher, tour his classroom, and learn about the schedule and protocol for the year (a big THANK YOU to Susan for watching my younger three kids!). I really like his teacher, and I think that she will be good for him - she isn't going to put up with anything, which is great. The only bad thing is that I somehow ended up volunteering to be the room mother! I'm still not sure how that happened or how I will pull it off, but it will be good for me to be involved with his class. I just told him about it and he is thrilled. He is listing all of the things I need to do for the Halloween party (bingo, balloons, pinatas, homemade root beer, lots of chocolate, etc.).

Jonas is trying so hard to stand up and walk. I keep telling him to just be a baby, but he's not having it. Luckily, he is still so cuddly and sweet. He gives great big slobbery kisses, and drools all over my shoulder (I think that he is teething).

I have been trying to make some plans for Saturday. Nate is running in a relay marathon (called "Reach the Beach") and we are having a Stake Youth Activity up at Zion's Camp. I thought about taking the kids to the beach to see his team finish, but I'm a little daunted by the thought of taking all 4 kids to a very crowded beach by myself - especially with the rainy weather we have been having lately. Also, I really feel like I should be at the activity. It isn't that I don't think they can do it without me (they can), or that anyone would be bothered if I don't go (I already talked to my 1st Counselor and the Stake YM President about it, and they would be fine), but I just feel like that is where I am supposed to be. Sometimes I feel like this calling is taking over my life - I have NEVER put this much time, effort, time, prayer, time, thought, time and TIME into a calling before. But, it is already very rewarding, although I am still just stumbling along trying to figure everything out. We are in the midst of making some big decisions about our Handcart Trek next year as well as Girl's Camp (suggestions and input welcome!). I am always second guessing myself - "Is this inspiration, or is this what I think?" So, I just do the best I can and have faith that God will make it work. He always does. We have great youth and leaders in our Stake, and I have so much support and help. Even on the days when I am totally overwhelmed I know that the only problem is that I'M NOT DELEGATING ENOUGH. I need to have some faith in people and get a few of these things off my plate.

But, I can't delegate the Mom stuff, so off I go to the land of homework, violin practice, making dinner, etc. Nate is going to the temple with the youth tonight so we are on our own - he probably won't be home until 10:00 pm. I'm hoping to make that mound of clean laundry in the guest room dissapear by the time he gets home - wish me luck!

Monday, September 8, 2008

We miss Uncle Ben, and other updates

We were so lucky this summer to have Uncle Ben (Nate's younger brother) stay with us for 4 months! Granted, he worked a ton of hours, so we didn't get to spend as much time with him as we would have liked, but we LOVED having him here. He was great with the kids (as you can see, they all adore him), and Nate and I both really loved having him here. Unfortunately, we got into a pattern of really late nights staying up to talk, but how many times in life do you have those opportunities with your siblings (other than when you are young and don't appreciate them)?

Ben left on Friday to fly to Kyrgyzstan for a fall internship with the International Trade Commission (a division of the WTO). Isaac has spent the last few weeks begging to go with Ben to Kyrgyzstan. I don't think that most Mom's have to spend nearly this much time explaining to their 4-year-olds why they can't go to Kyrgyzstan (how many 4-year-olds have heard of Kyrgyzstan?) Luckily, Ben had to leave really early in the morning, and Isaac was pretty tired and just wanted to cuddle his Mom, which made him more content to be staying with me. I was a little worried that he would be trying to fit inside Ben's suitcase.

We did get an email this morning that Ben is safe and sound and settling into his apartment there. He will come back and visit us for a little while in December on his way home for Christmas, so that is good. Now if I can just make sure that his visit overlaps with my Sister Martha's . . . (don't worry, they are both well aware of my plans to match them up. No luck so far, but I'm not giving up!)

There isn't much to report from this weekend. We had a lovely Sabbath. The baby has a pretty bad cold, and Grace had a fever on Saturday, so Nate stayed home with them and let me go to church with the boys. I really enjoy those Sundays where I just get to go to my own ward (with my Stake calling that is happening less and less), so he didn't want to take that away from me, and he didn't have to teach today so it worked out nice (for me).

Unfortunately, I still didn't get to go to Relief Society. Isaac went in to go to the bathroom and in his rush he didn't get his pants down far enough and accidentally got them all wet. So, we had to leave early. He was not at all ashamed and was announcing to everyone in the hallway (this was between Sunday School and Relief Society) that we had to go home because he peed on his pants. Of course we had to go get Sam from class, which he was a little dissapointed about, but he was a good sport.

The missionaries came over for dinner, and we had delicious roast beef with potatoes and carrots and gravy, homemade wheat rolls (Nate even shaped them while I was at church, and he did a great job), jello that the boys made before church, and yummy cake and ice cream with warm cherry sauce (and I wonder why I can't lose weight . . .). Anyway, it was great, and then they taught us a nice lesson and we talked about how we can do a better job of sharing the gospel with our neighbors. Our Bishop has challenged us to invite a non-member family for FHE this month, so we are trying to decide who to invite. I'm not really great at these things, but we are committed to doing it! I'll let you know how it goes.

We had a nice evening working on puzzles (I love that Sam is old enough to do big puzzles with me now, and Isaac and Grace had their own little ones to work on). Nate and I tried to go to bed early, but that didn't work out very well. I ended up reading for quite a while and he was watching college football on the laptop. But, the kids all slept through the night and we have had a great morning so far.

Tonight for FHE we will be returning the canoes that Nate borrowed for the scout campout. This should be a good week- busy enough that we won't get bored, but a little time available for extra projects and some deep cleaning - just how I like it!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Samuel pics - part 5

Samuel on the first day of Kindergarten.
Samuel on the first day of First grade (with Dad)
Samuel on the first day of Second grade.

Samuel pics - part 4

Sam making rope at Nauvoo. If you come to our house he will proudly show you this rope he made - he is very proud of it!
Samuel jumping into leaves in our front yard. Sam never just jumps, he JUMPS (I love that his shoe flew off).
Samuel at his first gymnastics meet. He did fine on the rings, parallel bars, and high bar- but he was really amazing at his floor routine and vault (they don't do the pommel horse until they are older).
Sam on the "boogie board" in Kuna (they tie these up to bridges over the canal and ride the current). It was much to easy for Sam, so he immediately had to do some tricks - like no hands ...
... and backwards.

Samuel pics - part 3

Sam at ski lessons - I think that he is 4 in this picture.
Sam on Grandpa Kirk's boat. The boys sure love that boat (mostly because they love being with Grandma and Grandpa and their aunts and uncles).
Sam pulling a handcart at Winter Quarters (with two kids we don't know). What a cute little pioneer. He was strong too- she put a rock under the wheel to show how hard it was to pull over rocky terrain and they just pulled right over it!
Sam helping Grandma Cherie cook. He LOVES to cook (I'm not sure why he was wearing a swimsuit under his apron!)
Sam really, really, REALLY loves jeeps. Last summer when he found out that Nate's cousin Robby drives one he was so excited. Robby was so sweet to come pick up Sam and take him for a ride. It was the highlight of his summer!

Samuel pics - part 2

Such a cute little traveler. He still loves to fly.
Samuel has no fear. He never has. He'll climb on anything, and luckily he knows how to land when he falls!
This was Sam's first season of soccer - when he was 4. He has played every year. He has been a green "kermit," a red "eagle," red "fire," and a gray "shark."
Sam at Mount Rushmore. He and Nate spent quite a while lining up this shot. In black and white it really looks like his face is on the mountain.
Sam making big bubbles at Grandma Linda's house.

Samuel pics - part 1

Sam in the hospital modeling his awesome sunglasses and hat (for when he was under the lights to treat his jaundice). Unfortunately, I don't have very many good newborn pics of Sam - he was whisked away to the NICU, and the pics we took in there didn't turn out very well. Live and learn. You'll just have to trust me that he was ADORABLE!
This is on the day that he was released from the hospital. He is being held by his Grandma Linda. See - I was right - ADORABLE!
Sam crawling in one of our favorite parks in Tallahassee. He was such a fun little guy (still is).
Sam enjoying some bubbles. I love that grin.
Sam was a seasoned traveller. I don't think we have ever calculated exactly how many flights the poor kid has been on, but I know that he was over 100 by the time he turned 2. I think that this is when he was barely 2 and we were on our way to California for a conference (and mini-vacation).