Saturday, December 20, 2014

Finalizing things here before we head to Maryland.

Last week was a doozy.  This week was better.  Mike got his grades from the semester.  He got straight A's!  I'm gonna brag for a second too.  His teacher sent out an email saying that he was disappointed in some of the final results and that Mike and three other students did the best and then he posted Mike's answers for the rest of the class to see how he expected their answers to be in the future.  It's actually quite funny because Mike told me multiple times while he worked on the final that he really wasn't giving good answers he didn't think he would do very well on the final.  He has been so helpful this week.  I volunteered at Eli's class party last Friday and Isaac's this Friday.  I was able to get Christmas shopping done and and take Piper to a four hour long doctor's appointment all because Mike was home.  It's been so nice. He has been working for our business every day, all day and I have been working off and on, mostly helping with the sanding, staining, and shipping.  I have had things to do for my calling and baking for a cookie exchange at scouts, and other random things that needed to be done.  

On Monday I baked a bunch of sugar cookies and we invited just a few friends over for a hot chocolate bar and cookie decorating party.  Let me just say, I am the worst cookie maker ever.  Seriously.  My cookies looked like biscuits.  I've never been a great baker.   

Last Friday we read  one of our Christmas books called Bear Stays Up and then we let the boys sleep near the Christmas tree.  They thought it was a great idea but none of them slept well that night.  Piper thought she was going to get to sleep down with them and was disappointed when I made her say goodnight and sleep in her bed.  

As mentioned, Mike has been working hard on nativities, silhouettes, and temples this week.  The Manti temple took him about 12 or 15 hours.  I just gave him feedback--helped him decide what things to include in the temple and then I helped stain it.  The Idaho Falls temple took about 8 hours.  I helped with the clean up and it wasn't too bad and then stained that one as well.  My job was the easy one.  Thankfully, now that the temples are done, when someone orders that temple again, we won't have to put in that many hours, just the hours of cutting and then the clean up.

Today the boys had two basketball games.  Last week they had three and it consumed our entire day.  Today we had one early in the morning and then later in the day.  Both boys won their games and both boys made improvements.  Will got some good rebounds and even stole the ball once and he was super proud of himself.  All the coaches and parents cheered for him and he was so happy.  Then after the game the coach told the kids that Will was by far the best defender of the day and made a big deal about Will's performance.  He felt so happy and I really was so grateful that everyone cheered for him and made him feel good, especially since the last thing he said to me before he walked into the gym was, "Now you get to see how bad I am at this, Mom."  It makes me sad that he feels so self-conscience about it.  I told him that he just needs to have confidence and do his best and he did so I think it was a pretty successful experience for him.  He only got to play about three minutes last week and this week they kept him in for an entire quarter so that is good.  Isaac also made a lot of improvements.  Last week he was kind of stiff and uncertain but this week he got right in there and blocked and rebounded and dribbled.  He's doing better and better.  I think for their second games ever in their entire life, they are doing great.  After the games they went right back outside to practice some more.  Mike spent a good hour out in the cold with them practicing drills and they all came in happy and ready for hot chocolate.  They really love playing basketball.

Tonight we were supposed to have our Christ-Centered Christmas dinner.  We invited two families but then they all got sick!  We are sick too (Eli and I are sick at least) so it ended up being better for me to not have to stress about making this special night happen.  I am disappointed that it isn't going to happen now but we bought them presents and we will take them their presents to church tomorrow.  It is my favorite of our Christmas traditions so again, I'm disappointed but also, I'm relieved to not have to stress about it.

We are packing up and heading to Maryland on Monday.  I am so looking forward to spending the holidays with Mike's family.  I need a break from all the stress of this past month and I'm just excited to spend time with the family and rest.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Post Script

Since writing my last post the Secret Santa fun has continued.  Today Mike found a paper with four of the same coupons typed on them.  They said,

Use this coupon to make Dad do 30 minutes of your chores.
From, Your Secret Santa

We laughed about this one this morning.  I love how he is dishing out service opportunities for other people.  I have been thinking about chores I want Mike to do, two hours of chores no less!

This morning I had my first opportunity to use one when Piper pooped in her bath this morning.  Eeww!  He generously put on gloves and bleached the tub.  I could get used to this.

(He actually offered to clean it up before I jokingly told him I was going to use one of my coupons for this nasty chore.  He's a good one, that husband of mine)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Secret Santa

With all the craziness that is going on right now with our schedules (business, basketball, callings, finals, etc.) I have been working hard on trying to keep our lives balanced and make sure that the things that matter most are still happening.  We have done a Christmas book tradition for a few years now.  We read a book at night (usually wrapped under the tree) and then do a fun activity to go along with the book.  Some times the activities involve time and some times they are quick, easy things to do.  This year I have to make some adjustments to our tradition.  I didn't wrap the books this year and we don't read one book a night.  We also don't do an activity with each book.  But we have chosen some we think will still allow us to have fun and help us have the Spirit of Christmas in our home.

One activity that Will really wanted to do was the Secret Santa.  Last year we just chose names and then went to the store and bought small gifts for the person we had (with a five dollar limit).  This year we chose early so we could do service throughout the week.  On Saturday we will take our five dollars each and purchase a little gift to end our week of Secret Santa fun!  

It has been so much fun and brought me so much joy this week.  It's been a very emotional draining week with some setbacks we have been experiencing and created a lot of doubts in my mind as to whether we should continue doing this business.  That sounds so silly, being only the first week that we have opened our etsy store.  It seems like we are giving up too quickly (we aren't giving up yet) but the truth is we don't NEED this business.  It isn't our livelihood.  It is something we hoped to help us pay for missions mainly.  Anyway, while I've been discouraged about the business these cute little Secret Santas have been sneaking about the house bring cheer and joy on every corner.  

I think Eli is my favorite one.  He has Will.  He is an awesome Santa (perhaps not the best Secret Santa).  He is trying to be super sneaky but really he isn't very good at it.  He is, however, an awesome Santa!  He has made Will's bed, left him candy, drawn him pictures, and left coupons.  His picture was so adorable.  He drew Will on a throne with a caption that read:  "Will is the best prince ever.  He should be kind."  That is not spelled as he spelled it but it was so cute and thoughtful.  His coupons are pretty awesome too.  He left one for a free pass on cleaning his room and another coupon that was just free.  He said, "He won't know how to use it because he doesn't know who his Santa is."  Ha, ha.  We laughed and laughed.  My favorite of his custom coupons is the one that can be used for one free night of quiet.  Will gets so annoyed when he is trying to read his book at night and Eli keeps talking and talking to him so Eli is generously giving him a free night of not having to listen to him talk!  Will completely knows it is Eli but has been playing along.  He says, "Man, my Secret Santa is the best!"  

Mike found a baggie on his pillow last night from his Secret Santa that had a marshmallow, graham cracker, and chocolate.  It said, "We need S'more people like you in the world!"  Eli and Isaac have found some cool wooden BYU decorations on their pillows and coupons for extra minecraft playing time as well as treats left in backpacks.  

Piper is mostly left out of the fun because she doesn't really understand what is happening.  She just likes people to let her get in the bathtub and take a bath or read her books.  She has one of her brothers so Mike and I are helping her with her Secret Santa tasks.  

The other night I went upstairs to look for a library book.  I looked in all the rooms and then realized that Will was not in his bed or any of the rooms.  We were wondering what happened to him and I went into my room and heard a rustle in my closet.  I asked him why he was in my closet and not in bed.  He started crying, explaining that he was folding laundry and putting it away when he heard me come upstairs.  He hid in the closet for fifteen or twenty minutes waiting for me to go back downstairs but then I found him and now I knew who my Secret Santa was!  He was so disappointed.  He told me he prayed that I would forget who my Secret Santa was, and did I think that was possible?  I told him I though anything was possible.  The remainder of the week he has been asking, "Mom, do you know who your Santa is?"  I always tell him "no" and he either believes me or is trying to pretend he believes that I really have forgotten.  

Last night was pretty awesome.  We went to bed around midnight (finals and the business have made for late nights around here) and woke up at 6:50 AM this morning.  Under our door was a note (copied exactly as it was written):

Dear Adrianne,

Do you know how much love you?  You amazing person I have ever met, and you always will be.

I know that you have been feeling crestfallen about the business but you shouldn't be.  You are the best man (woman) for the job and no one and I mean no one could even try to.

Love your secret santa.

I am not sure that I could even put into words how touched I was by his sweet note.  I am not sure when he typed it up but I'm fairly certain he woke up sometime in the middle of the night, turned on the computer, typed up the note, printed it off, turned off the computer and slid it under my door before going back to sleep.  

I am so thankful for my sweet, thoughtful children.  I am grateful that we didn't decide we were too busy to keep some of these traditions.  Will's note was exactly what I needed to lift my spirits.  I will glue it into my journal today and always be so grateful for my wonderful boys.    

Friday, December 05, 2014

This week

My goodness he has such a red beard.  It doesn't look quite this red in person but it is so much fun!  I mean, who has a red beard?  I'm not looking forward to our boys growing facial hair.  Mike used to grow them when he was a teenager and he even had a trimming kit, which is just so weird and gross to me...we probably wouldn't have dated if we knew each other in high school.  Ha, ha.  As an adult, it looks good though.  It has actually taken me a little while to be ok with a beard.  I still am uncertain if I like it better or not.  The red however, is cool to me!  And now we are back to my sentence about the boys growing facial hair.  While it will be weird and I won't be nice like Mike's mom and buy them a trimming kit (because I won't want to encourage the hair growth, of course!), it is kind of exciting to see what color their beards will be. 
 This week the boys have ditched their fort from last week and instead, have been making paper airplanes and having contests to see who can fly theirs the furthest.  I've been finding them all over the house.

In other news, this business thing might be more than I anticipated.  It is taking up so much time and while it is fun and exciting, it involves a lot.  It will be so interesting to see what happens with it.  I wonder if we will get a lot of orders or if we will just have a few here and there. One thing I've thought about this week is just the challenge to be open to the spirit to know when I need to put the sandpaper down and go read with one of the boys or when I need to stop staining something so I can go practice basketball drills with the boys.  This business really needs to be secondary to all that I do.  I need to know when it's ok to make the boys do the dishes for me and help more around the house so I have more time and when I need to spend more of my time doing laundry and such.  It's going to be a challenge but I hope I can get into a good groove before too long.  

Another thing I've thought about this week is just how grateful I am to have talents.  This business has made me feel insecure at times.  Learning the process and the programs has been a challenge for me and at times I've felt pretty dumb.  I've wondered if I'd have much to contribute.  But I am learning how to do it all and hopefully soon I will be able to do it on my own.  In the meantime, I am really pleased with the way our products are turning out.  I never imagined we would do something like this.  It's weird that we took this risk and that we are able to do it!  Also, I'm proud of myself for using my art skills to make a pretty cool wooden nativity.  I drew it!  Not only did I draw it but it looks so cool cut out.  I've had to stage things for photos for our shop and really draw on what I learned in the classes I took.  I have a long ways to go before I feel confident in my photography skills but I'm happy with what I've been able to do this week.  

Tonight we have a ward Nativity activity and then I'm really looking forward to coming home and resting and just chillin' with the hubs once the kids are in bed.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Piperleigh on her second birthday

Piper is two!  It's pretty wonderful that she has been a part of our family that long, and hard to believe.  Some days when I hold her at nap time or bedtime I feel so close to Laila.  Not in the sense that I feel Laila near, though maybe that is what I'm feeling, but rather, I just can't help but think of her as well.  I hold Piper and this overwhelming love for her fills my entire soul and I think of her sister and I cry because I love them both so much.  I worried when I got pregnant with Piper about my feelings and how I would make sense of them all after losing Laila.  I kept my feelings pretty quiet from everyone, not even announcing my pregnancy with Piper until 30 weeks.  It was all just so confusing and painful and I needed my privacy.  I worried about Piper, that she was coming at a time when my heart was so tender and broken.  Maybe she would have black hair like her sister and I wouldn't be able to see them separately.  It was such a tender mercy that she was born bald, and now has red hair.  I worried that I would withhold some of my love from Piper because I was afraid to love another baby girl again.  I sobbed when I found out I was having a girl again.  I cried out of fear, pain, and happiness.  I wanted another baby girl to love but also, I was scared to love another baby girl.  A part of me wished she was a boy so I could make a clear distinction and separation between her and her sister.  Sometimes I get confused, even now, when I hold Piper and I almost immediately think of Laila.  In a way it is sweet--Piper definitely keeps her sister close to my heart and mind.  In another way, it makes me worry that Piper will think I don't love her fully and that instead of just holding her and loving her I am wishing I could hold Laila.  But it isn't that at all.  I love them both so much and I think in a way missing Laila only makes me love Piper more.  I know it does, actually.  Holding her and kissing her and brushing her hair and reading her books just means so much to me.  I am a much softer mom than I ever was with the boys.  Piper has been a healing balm for our family.  She has given the boys a sister to love.  They still love Laila but they love having a sister to protect and play with.  She is very spoiled.  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Decking the Halls

I'm never in a huge hurry to get the decorations up but I'm always happy once they all get up.  This year Will was so excited about putting up the tree.  He got started putting the tree up all by himself and was disappointed when I told him it was too late to decorate and he would have to wait until the next morning.  It is fun to see him getting so festive and excited.  Last year Piper was very interested in the tree and pulled down quite a few decorations but this time she is obsessed.  It is pretty obnoxious and I have to keep a pretty close eye on her.  This though, was precious:
 She is looking at the decoration of Laila (the one pictured later in the post).  She grabbed it and said, "It's my sister!"  And then she carried it around the house for the remainder of the night.

I've gotten up all the decorations I think I will worry about this year.  I need to find a good place for our Nativity but besides that, it's all up.
I cut that deer head out.  It was smaller than my sister wanted so I kept it and I'll cut out a bigger one for her.
 We have two trees.  One is our Christ-Centered tree and it just makes me so happy.  It isn't decorated perfectly by any means--I'm sure it needs ribbon or something like that--but I love it.  A large portion of the decorations on that tree remind me of Laila or the families we choose each year for our Christ-Centered Christmas Dinner.  It brings back such wonderful memories for me so I love it.

This could probably use some greenery or something...

 Our other Christmas tree is just a fun, whimsical one.  The boys love to decorate this tree.  It mostly has an animal/dinosaur theme to it.  Every year at least one of them chooses a dinosaur.  I've tried to suggest other things like a robot or a basketball or something but they usually go with a dog, bird, or dinosaur.  It's a fun tree and they love it.  We put colored lights on it because colored lights are much more fun.

I'm glad the decorations are up, especially since we are leaving town for Christmas and won't have as much time to enjoy them!

Friday, November 28, 2014


The boys have been working on a fort with the neighbor boys for a week now.  They built a small one last week and it took them the entire day to figure out how to do it.  Since then they have been tweaking and expanding.  Now that they understand how to make it work they have gotten better and better.  The two little boys--Eli and Jake run to the forest behind the house and collect fallen branches and then drag them back to the older boys.  Once the fort was built they all ran inside and drug blankets outside.  It has provided hours of fun for them.  I have to try and ignore the urge to be frustrated by the clean blankets being drug across the muddy grass and collecting sticks and leaves that then get drug back in the house at the end of the day.  It is quite the chore to wash them and fold them all again but I really believe in boys being boys.  I love that they can use their imaginations to create and build and have fun outside.  And then I also believe in them cleaning up the mess they made as will be cool when they are old enough to do the laundry by themselves.  :)

This picture is funny.  Isaac came home with a black eye at the beginning of the week after he run into a pole at school.  That very night he also lost his tooth that was turning grey (his teeth don't ever want to fall out!).  We teased him that it looked like he had gotten in a boxing match with his black eye and missing tooth!

This Thanksgiving was a memorable one.  I wrote about how I have been feeling anxious and stressed lately and I was thinking a few weeks ago about Thanksgiving coming up.  I knew that Mike would be right in the middle of his projects and papers because he only had two days of classes once he went back after Thanksgiving break.  I also knew that this year it would just be our family and Mike wouldn't get out of class until Thanksgiving.  After thinking about ways I could make less stress in my life I decided that making a Thanksgiving meal for just us really didn't need to happen.  I was surprised to find that Mike was totally on board and so we decided that instead of one stressful day of cooking and eating and then cleaning all the mess up, we would ask the boys what foods they really wanted this Thanksgiving and I would make them throughout the week and then on Thanksgiving day we would go to a buffet and a movie.  

The boys were really excited about our plan.  Will brought home an origami Thanksgiving book and folded all these cute foods to put in a basket for our table.  Isaac made the drumsticks at school and included them in Will's Thanksgiving basket.  I thought it was cute that they were getting all festive and making decorations.  
Throughout the week we had devilled eggs, turkey and mashed potatoes (the boys requested fake ones--made my life easier even if it isn't as good as real ones!), green bean casserole, slush, and pie.  This way we could still enjoy the normal Thanksgiving foods but I wouldn't have to stress about making a big meal all at once, just something each day.
On Wednesday the boys worked on their fort with their friends while Mike did his normal long day at school.  We ran some errands and Will and I made a pie.  That night we watched a movie and the next morning I caught this picture of the kids all sitting on the couch together.
Thursday was a good day.  Mike and I got to sleep in and then we just did stuff around the house.  Mike worked on the room he is building in the garage to make the machine for our business quieter.  It is currently too loud and for my sanity and the sanity of the neighbors we need something to make it quieter.
After Piper's nap we headed to the movies.  There were only two other families there so Piper got to walk around and climb up and down the stairs.  We didn't eat lunch because we were going to go to dinner right after.  We bought some popcorn and enjoyed the movie.  After the movie we drove to Golden Corral.  We hardly ever go there but the boys love it.  Isaac loves to get hot wings and Will likes the pizza.  They all like the cotton candy and there is always something that someone will like.  Upon arriving we discovered that we were thirty minutes late!  We got there at 5:30 and they had stopped letting people in at 5:00.  The boys were so disappointed.  They were skipping and laughing on the way in and upon realizing that they couldn't eat there their faces were crestfallen.  They walked back to the van with shoulders sagging and eyes welling up with tears.  They said, "What are we going to eat now?"  Mike and I tried to think fast and decided that it could be fun to drive to Walmart and let the boys choose anything they wanted to eat.  They seemed to be ok with that idea when they realized they could get donuts or hot wings or really, anything.  When we got to the Walmart parking lot we gasped at the amount of cars.  The entire parking lot was filled and cars were parking into the parking lots across the road.  It was ridiculous.  Honestly, nothing is worth that to me! The boys by this time were hungry and discouraged.  I remembered that I had bought cheap pizzas for them earlier in the week and they were in the freezer.  I also had chicken strips and left over ice cream as well as the pie Will helped me make.  So we drove home and ate a Thanksgiving meal of frozen pizza, chicken strips, pie, and ice cream.

I was pretty pleased at the boys and their attitudes.  They were clearly disappointed.  They had been looking forward to eating at Golden Corral all week.  Mike had even mentioned a couple of times during the day that he was really looking forward to going out to eat this year.  I was looking forward to not having to cook all day followed by cleaning up the mess.  We were all pretty disappointed when we discovered we were 30 minutes late!  Yet, the boys never said anything ungrateful to us.  They never blamed us for not getting there in time.  They didn't throw a fit or act unkind.  I was grateful for Mike and his effort to help us find a solution without having a bad attitude and even helping us make jokes about it.  I was totally impressed by the resilience of the boys.  Each time they were disappointed but it didn't last long and they were able to quickly overcome their disappointment and make the best of the night.  I really believe that if they can continue to have that kind of attitude throughout their lives, they will be successful.  The ability to bounce back and enjoy what they have is such a valuable quality.

At the beginning of the month I had to give a lesson in RS about living gratitude.  I did a lot of pondering, reading, and praying to give the lesson.  It was such a good way to start the month and focus on gratitude.  I shared this quote in my lesson,
  "Said one well-known author: “Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend . . . when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”
I feel like our experience brought this quote to life in a small but real way.  I am grateful to be able to teach the boys that life can throw disappointing experiences at us but we can still find goodness in our circumstances.  The thing I learned most this month about gratitude is that even when we are lacking things we can still find so much in what we have to be grateful for.  We may not have had a good homemade meal, or even a hot one that someone else cooked for us, but at least we got to go to a movie, have pie, and be together!

I imagine when the boys are older they will say, "Remember that year when we had cheap pizza and chicken strips for Thanksgiving dinner?"  Hopefully they can also remember how earlier in the day their dad showed them how to use a staple gun and played minecraft with them.  I hope Will remembers making pumpkin pie with me the day before and how we took them to the movies and put up the tree.  

Later that evening there was a knock on the door and we opened it to find a sweet, generous woman in our ward standing at our doorstep with a bag of turkey and a pie!  It was such a thoughtful gesture and I am so thankful for her wanting to give what she had so our Thanksgiving dinner wasn't quite so lame.

I am thankful.