Sunday, March 29, 2020

Eighth Birthday in Isolation.

Another week at home. We actually got a ton of things done. I want it to be over. I miss people. But I finally hit a groove on about Day 12 of isolation, and I think we are getting into a better routine.

I started out with too many goals. My thoughts were--let's be as productive as possible now that we have all of this TIME. Also, I didn't want to slide too far out of our normal routine because my routine helps me keep my anxiety at bay.

But my goals were too ambitious, and they broke me at about Day 3.

Then came the slothful period, which led me back into antsy-ness.

Now, I feel like we are on a more relaxed schedule but still getting a lot done. And I'm trying to be more aware of when we can push through more and when we just need to call it good for the day.

In fact, the girls have even made a "No Yelling" chart to keep me on track.

A few weeks ago, I blew my top about something insignificant and decided it was time. Time for a no-yelling chart for Mom. I've been thinking about this for months, and every time I would lose my patience I knew it was time to do it. Then time would pass, and pride would get in the way and I would rationalize that I don't need a dumb chart.

Well I do need a chart. Especially if this isolation period is going to end positively.

So the girls made me this one. And I've gotten a star every single day. Go me!

The poster says "No Yelling Zone!
1. Breathe. 2. Count to ten 2 or 3 times and then the GOLDEN RULE.
the others days: peace sign peace sign peace sign peace sign."

I told the kids I won't yell, but I might throw someone out of the window. June thought I was being serious and solemnly told me that throwing a kid out the window "counts as a yell". So many restrictions!!!

Anyway, why am I talking about this? Boring. Who cares? On to the other boring stuff I am going to blog about.

The kids have been enjoying the doodling tutorials that Mo Willems has been posting. My kids LOOOOOOVEEEEE Mo Willems, and so that's been fun.

June's pigeon. I was impressed!

And other crafts.

The BIG news of the week is that it was June's birthday this week. The big 8! 8 is GREAT.

I normally make pancakes in the shape of the letters of the birthday kid's name. This week, I had already made a huge batch of pancakes a few days before, so I just grabbed some leftovers and used a pizza cutter to make her name. You could actually read it this year, as opposed to previous years.

I feel like with all of changes to our lives recently I forgot how we normally do birthdays. Luckily, Dan the Man saved the day and went out to the store the night before and bought June candy bars to make her candy bar poster (which I forgot to take a picture of). Attached to her poster was the first clue for a scavenger hunt in order to find her presents.

She received some pearl necklaces and pearl earrings from Grandma Kristi and Papa which go along with her baptism dress Grandma Kristi made for her.

Grandma Kristi also wrote a note to June. It was all about baptism and was very touching.

For birthdays this year, Dan and I want to focus on getting stuff for the kids' new bedrooms. We don't need ANY more toys. I kinda despise toys.

So June picked out this wall hanging because she's currently in a horse phase.

She also received a string of lights that you can also hang pictures on and a new bedspread. We will be painting her room soon and will post some pictures of the final result then.

Here she is sporting her new "It's Great to be 8" necklace Grandma Sandy sent her. This was during a piano lesson, and letmetellyou teaching a piano lesson on someone's birthday is like trying to contain confetti.

Dan also picked up a cookie cake at the store, which we added our own personal touches to.June wrote her name (or something close to it) in chocolate chips.

Also this week, we went on lots of walks. The kids like to try to walk on the sidewalk ledge, which works out better for some than others. Harris fell multiple times but refused to be deterred.

We also played in the backyard. We still don't have grass yet. It's pretty messy. But Dan and I showed the kids our soccer moves (read: none), so that we can continue the tradition of non-athleticism down to the next generation.

Dan and I have been playing a few rounds of speed when we get the chance, and he has been sorely bitter that I win every time. He won a game this week, and the solar system could not contain the sheer magnitude of his gloating face. Now I'm the one in the losing rut, but I tend not to care about such trivial, petty things.

Enjoy it, Dan. I'm coming for you.

For our Friday fun night, Dan insisted that we watch "Where the Red Fern Grows". The kids were NOT into it. It was my first time seeing it. I liked it, but Dan wanted everyone to really really love it. I think he was disappointed. But there's nothing like seeing a 12 year old singlehandedly lift his family out of poverty to give you a different attitude about family chores. So Saturday we cleaned. A lot. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. But the entire house was cleaned, and it felt amazing.

We also started another project I've been meaning to tackle FOREVER.

How long as the church been asking us to index names for temple work? Forever? Yes. If I am completely honest, I'm a family history flunkie. But I'm determined to change. So this week, my BFF Linz walked us through how to index. She's a pro. She's done over 4,000 names. I'm amazed.

Linz and I were reminiscing how 15 years ago our go-to fun activity was going to the outlets in Park City, Utah and spending all of the money we had and also all of the money we didn't have, and now our "fun" consists of Zoom meetings about indexing. We are 35, and we don't care who knows it!

Though I would still love going to the outlets more than anything. When do I get to do that again?

And for church today, the girls both wanted to wear brooches from my jewelry box.

We had a great Sacrament meeting. Both girls gave talks, Dan and I bore testimonies, and we watched "The Lifeline of Prayer" by President Faust. June fasted for her very first time and did pretty darn well. 

The End.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Let the Kids Play.

My kids have been playing all day.

I woke up late. We got piano done. Piano is a non-negotiable around here.

But everything else is extremely negotiable. Even meals.

If they're happy, I'm happy.

So since they've been happy playing, we haven't done anything else. I dread next week. I'm sure digital learning begins next week. AKA digital monster mommy time.

I must go to bed early tonight. And no reading the news before bed. Ever again! I read last night until 11 p.m., which is 2 a.m. Heather time. And then had bad dreams all night.

Because of the late bedtime, I didn't get up for my workout video this morning. It's just as well. The last time the kids watched me do my workout video, they kept asking why I was doing it wrong.

"Her leg is up much higher than yours, Mom." June said.

"I can't hear them breathing. Why can I hear you breathing, Mom?" Gwen said.

They are delightful children.

And Harris already struggles with nap time, and nap time has become nonexistent with all of the kids home. I found him in my bed last night, tuckered out after our freezing cold post-dinner walk around the block.

The End.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

More of the Same.

At the beginning of this period of isolation, I posted a bunch of goals. Like an annoying person. I love goals, but whenever I look back on my original goals, I am baffled by how much I thought I could accomplish in one day. I think there should be two goal-setting phases. Brain Dump Phase, where you write down everything you would like to get done, and Realistic Goals, which you set one week after trying to accomplish all your Brain Dump Phase Goals.

It's important for me to be productive. It's imperative to my mental health.

But while I don't want to squander this time at home by doing nothing; I also don't want to squander the quieter time of life we are experiencing right now by hurrying at our usual frantic speed. The slower pace, the ability to have Dan home with me. Those are special things I want to revel in.

Not that I want this to go on forever. I want the economy up and running. I want people healthy and happy and social. I don't like the fearful news articles, the cancellation of so many good things.

So anyway, we have been accomplishing a lot, but definitely not all of the goals I set.

I have been working with Gwen on her reading every day. I pulled out the old book I used to teach June how to read, and Gwen is flying through it.

It's extremely easy for me to be on my phone all day. I love news, I love snarky news comments on Twitter. I love talking, texting, etc. Yikes, I'm a millennial. 

So I shut my phone off for 36 hours this week and read and read and read and cleaned and played. I'm reading three books right now. I don't why. I normally can't rotate through multiple books. 

Here's one:

Very good, very sad, with funny moments.

Watched Mulan with the kids!

And we had a church meeting with all of my siblings and mom today. It was so nice. My mom was sent home from her mission due to COVID-19, which has been such a bummer.

Going on a walk with the fam! More later.

The End.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Coronavirus Goals and St. Patrick's Day.

Being cooped up ain't my thang. I'm a people person. And I'm a HUGE WORRIER, and one of my worst fears has been that when we would finally buy a house that it would be right before a recession.

Let's review:

Bought a house in January.
Recession forthcoming in March.

Ding Ding Ding!!!

But. I know that my situation is pretty darn good compared to most people out there. I can't imagine being a small business owner right now. And while I don't like being cooped up, I DO like that we don't have to be a million places right now. Those two things probably seem to contradict each other, but they live together inside of me. Alongside my insatiable hunger for Cadbury mini-eggs that comes this time each year.

A lot of people have been posting their schedules for their kids now that everyone is home for a couple of weeks. I like a schedule, but I've noticed that what really works for me is a checklist. There are some basic things that do happen consistently in the morning (like breakfast, for one) and then I pick from the list what needs to happen next based on moods, conflicts, nap schedules, weather, etc.

So with that thought coupled with my desire to not sit around and be worried and/or antsy, I hereby set forth a checklist of goals for the next couple of weeks.

(Sound the trumpet.)

Exercise everyday (me individually. My gym is closed so I will alternate between running and workout videos.)
Piano lessons everyday (with Gwen and June)
Books everyday, both aloud and individual SSR time
Tons of play time.
Walk/bike/something outside everyday. We have a great loop that we live on that accommodates this.
Schooley stuff--art, writing, science, etc. We aren't in one of the school districts where we are expected to do some stuff online during this break but I also like to do fun educational stuff with my kids. Because I'm a mother superior to other mothers. (I kid but there has been some of that going on via social media during this virus and it makes me giggle a little.)
And absolutely and without fail--a movie for the kids. So I can blog or read or cry. Or all three! Multi-tasking!

I am going to try to blog more often for some accountability of the aforementioned things. Lucky you!

Speaking of anxiety, last night I woke up in the middle of the night with the realization that today is St. Patrick's Day and that I should DO SOMETHING about it. Honestly, I just wanted to sweep it under the rug because my kids would never know. BUT. Sweep I did not. St. Patrick's Day OR my kitchen floor.

So after my run this morning (why yes--that was a casual reference to me completing one of my goals for the day), I tried to figure out how to make green pancakes when I am out of butter. Alas, I was saved when I realized when I made muffins last week I used--wait for it--GREEN WRAPPERS. How fortuitous.

They flipped their muffins upside down so you could see how GREEN the wrappers were.

After piano (check!!), June came down in her oh-so-practical green outfit for the occasion.

Like a little mermaid. 

And then the girls wanted to make one of those leprechaun trap things that all of the elementary schools do now but we didn't do growing up so I didn't know really what to do.

So they did it all by themselves. Just the way I like craft time.

I subscribe to a great site that sends a list of books to request from the library a month in advance of when you will need them. So I had this book about St. Patrick on hand and we read it. Very interesting! By Tomie DePaola. 

Setting up the trap:

I guess the idea was that the leprechaun would see the gold-colored candy, step up onto the stepping stool,  and jump up and grab a hold of the green beaded rope.

And then climb through this hole on the side of the box,

seeking this final piece of candy inside of the box.

And then would be TRAPPED. FOREVER.

Dan pointed out the obvious flaw in the trap (clearly the ONLY flaw) that the box was open on top and so he taped it down. Now it was totally foolproof.

And you know what? When we came back from retrieving our Walmart grocery pickup, that leprechaun had eaten the candy, escaped and made a mess. Which was hard not to confuse with just the general mess.

Needless to say, it's fun having Dan around to help with stuff like this. And just to be around. I like him. And I know he LOVES me because I'm the type of person who will just shout out headlines of news articles I'm reading from the other room and he's just expected to stop doing his work at any given time and respond to what I'm saying. Without warning.

He's the best.

His office doesn't have doors yet, which explains the barricade he set up in the doorway. He's definitely one of those emotionally distant fathers who doesn't want his children coming into his work space to scream and jump and play when he's in the middle of a conference call with billions of important people. He also doesn't want a baby to unplug the internet mid-project. Cold-hearted.

I feel like every working parent in America is about to be that guy who did the BBC interview with his kids playing in the background a few months ago.

And finally, we actually have been doing some bike riding. I'll write about this more another day, but we're getting better. Even me. The first day of going up a hill and pulling two kids in the trailer behind me, I had to stop and walk. With a bunch of neighbors watching me.

I love impressing people.

The End.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Happy Anniversary to Us!

Lots of happenings this week:

First off, let me take you back two months ago to when we first moved into this house. We didn't get the house we originally had wanted, but the same model was being built in a neighborhood not too far away. 

So we were excited about that and bought the house. And then discovered that the rooms didn't have lights. I cried.

There we were, brand new homeowners and Dan so excited to get the house for me that I wanted. And I was crying because it was no longer what I wanted. 

I'm kinda terrible sometimes.

But because Dan is awesome, we had some lights put in. Twelve in fact, spread out over three different rooms.

There's nothing my kids like more than having people over at our house. My humanoids act as though they have never talked to people before and ATTACK any unsuspecting visitor within 50 feet of our home and talk their ears off until they suck the social juices right out of them. Like conversational vampires or something.

Harris follows workers anywhere they go around our house. Don't believe me? We also had a radon mitigation guy here this week, and while he was up in our attic, Harris climbed to the top of his ladder and also tried to climb into the attic. The nice guy (Steve) had to yell down for me to come get my 2 year old from atop his ladder. Exciting times!

So Harris couldn't leave the electricians alone, and Gwen had this sudden urge come over her to play the piano incessantly. I'm sure they loved the sweet, languid tones of "Hot Cross Buns" on repeat. I know I did.

They originally said the job would take 8 hours, but somehow only took 5. I guess they were motivated to get some peace and quiet.

Next up: blinds! Though I'm growing more partial to this beautiful-box-against-the-window-so-that-people-can't-see-us-change-even-though-I'm-certain-NO-ONE-is-looking.

Toward the beginning of the week (when life was still normal), I took Harris to get a haircut, and we also went to the park.

Speaking of normal, I changed the kids' towels and took a picture of one of the clean towels only 12 hours later, and it already looked like this. 

Humanoids or animals?

Another normal thing for us? We forgot our anniversary.

We had talked about it a couple of weeks ago when doing our calendaring session and talked about getting a babysitter so that we could go to dinner, but alas, I couldn't secure one. Then halfway through the day of our actual anniversary, I realized what day it was and sent Dan a text. And he sent me one back in the middle of his meeting. With hearts. He's the best. True love! Happy 10 years!

And then life ceased to be normal because of coronavirus, and we are all home for the next couple of weeks trying to flatten the curve.

I was able to pick up a huge load of requests I had placed at the library right before everything shut down, so we do have lots of books and movies. We watched this childhood favorite for Friday Fun Night. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Man alive, that movie is LONG and WEIRD.

And today, we had church at home, and it was actually really great. I'm a people person and I will love getting back to regular church, but this was nice too. Dan and I agreed that everyone should dress up, and he received permission to administer the Sacrament to our small group.

And Gwen wore her lego glasses.

June asked if she could give a talk. It was a really good talk about being "fishers of men".

And then we watched a General Conference address from last session. Elder Bednar's "Watchful unto Prayer Continually" So edifying and has great visual aides for the kids (and adults). Poor Dan had it all ready to go and then it wouldn't work. But eventually it did, so we were okay.

Also today, we had a Come Follow Me lesson, played games, went for a walk and the parents took naps while the kids played. I didn't even mean to take a nap. It was one of those out of body experiences when your body says "you are sleeping now" and you just crash wherever you are.

It's a weird time right now, but I have felt very blessed and watched over. We are grateful for the knowledge we have. I'm grateful for President Nelson. He is amazing at outreach and bringing peace into our lives.

I have definitely learned that I haven't made food storage the priority I need to and am determined to do better.

Hope you are all doing okay too. If not, please reach out. I'm here for you.

The End.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Perfect Storm.

Last week, Dan went to Chicago four days, came home for fewer than 24 hours and then left on a Young Men's campout.

And June was sick.

And Gwen was sick.

And Harris was sick.

And Beck was sick.

True story.

But I was okay; I was cool. I was my usual chill self. Mwahahaha.

I have pondered how much I should share. I'm aware that many people do not enjoy barf and other-end stories, of which there have been plenty. But some of the experiences have just been too amazing to not record.

For example, the first night Dan was gone I let both girls sleep with me. This is a rare occurrence, as I'm one of those weirdos that enjoys restful slumber.

In the middle of the night, June woke up exclaiming that she was going to barf.

(I have to insert here that I'm really not a nurse type. Dan is. He will go to the store and buy you your favorite popsicles when you're sick. He'll stream your favorite show for you and bring you lots of blankets and check on you. I really am not like that. I don't want mess, and I don't want an interruption to my routine. Yes, I have a heartbeat. It's just very faint.)

So I told June to RUNNNNNNNNN to the bathroom and not to barf on my new bed.

The good news: she missed the bed.

The bad news: she didn't miss our brand new carpet.

The worse news: Beck was sick later that day, and he did not miss the bed. And so the week went, my beautiful new stuff getting Jolleyed up quicker than I could blink.

So there were a few days with everyone at home. We watched movies and read books. Luckily, there is always a lot of construction outside our front windows, so the kids really enjoy watching that.

Gwen felt better than everyone else quickly and was my helper the rest of the day she stayed home from school.

We also found the longest, pointiest egg of all time in one of our egg cartons, and we felt like that was a special moment to document.

I mean, we really know how to live around here.

One of the books we read was Berenstain Bears and the Excuse Note, where Sister Bear realizes the power of an excuse note to get out of P.E. and other activities, even beyond when she is healed from her injury. June took this to heart and tried to get out of going to school ever again. Right after we had read the book. It was very not smooth of her.

She tried negotiating with me. One month, then one week, then one day.

I reminded her that it was Dr. Seuss week at school and she was going to miss all of the fun. This
was not very smooth of me, because June hates missing stuff like that. I braced myself and prayed that she wouldn't ask the very question she did ask, which was "Which day is the day where I get to dress up like my favorite book character?"

"Well, that's today, and we had to miss it because you're sick," I replied. And then all heck broke loose. (That's right; I said HECK.)

You've never seen a 180 like that before. She went from begging to be unschooled for life to begging to be taken to school RIGHT THAT VERY INSTANT RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW RIGHT NOW YOU'RE SO MEAN MOM.

So I told her she could dress up like her book character around the house.

June received The Magic Treehouse books for Christmas, which she has since finished. Her favorite was #16 Hour of the Olympics, so she wore a toga the rest of the day.

We tried various styles.

And then it got kinda weird. This looks like when Ariel from The Little Mermaid tried to make her own dress.

By the way, we aren't huge Disney people, but we'll watch a movie. Dan DESPISES The Little Mermaid, however. He just can't stand it.

It was about this time of the week that Dan let me know he had just had the best dinner of this life (Hello--remember my meatloaf?) at Ditka's in Chicago, and I showed him where I had just had dinner.

Banana peel and all. Because I love playing the victim.

Today--you guessed it! We went to church.

We forgot to take our traditional fireplace photo, so this one will have to do.

And Dan wowed with another great lesson from Come Follow Me today.

The. End.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Chillin' to the MAX.

Our weekend plans were somewhat killed by Harris who woke up at 11 p.m. Friday night to throw up. Of course, being 2, he doesn't know how to get the job done. He tries to swallow it back down. It is disgusting.

And he also doesn't realize he's sick and runs around like a maniac and then loses his lunch again. Dan woke up with him at 11 and then I took over at 1 a.m. Which means I was in a different dimension. I don't do nights well. 

We had shown the kids the movie Homeward Bound the night before. And may I say--I'm highly critical of movies. I'm no fun to see movies with. I don't like much.

But I was touched by Homeward Bound. It almost made me want to adopt a pet. Almost. I even cried at the end. What is WRONG WITH ME.

So naturally, Harris wanted to watch Homeward Bound II late Friday night between ralphs. I complied.

It was awful. Sequels usually are.

Yes, that's an upchuck bowl. Harris didn't want to use it. He threw it at me sometimes. Having an unwanted barf bowl thrown at me made me stop to think and reflect on my life choices. 

I mean, why do I clean up so much poop, puke and general mess? 

Because I am Middle-Aged Mom. Here me roar. Here me snore. Hear me ignore . . . my kids' complaints. Hear me bore . . . my husband with the details of my phone call to the health insurance company. Hear me eat more . . . chocolate chips in the closet.

I hope that all fits on my tombstone.

Anyway, since neither Dan nor I slept much Friday night and Harris was still throwing up Saturday, we stayed home.

BUT. We got so much done around the house, and you know how that excites me. We organized the office. That sounds simple. It took hours. Dan took a load to the recycling center and a load to Goodwill. 

And then the icing on the fruitcake . . .we BUDGETED. 

For a long time. Two hours. I've always been the manager of the household finances, and it's a wonder we don't live in debtors' prison.  I'm terrible at it. And part of the problem is that I'm super old school and use the good ol' pen and paper and then mess up and cross things out and get frustrated and bust out all of the credit cards and buy 3,000 pounds of gummy worms.

So that's why it doesn't work.

So Dan took over. He made several excel spreadsheets (Dan LOVES excel. He waxes poetic about it more often than he writes me a love note. If only I came with gridlines. If only I could add large sums!!), and it was so beautiful. He helped me see what I was doing wrong (aka all of it) and how I could do better.

And then the best thing happened. We received a package from Aunt Heidi with some cute clothes Blythe has outgrown. And the girls were so happy.

And then we watched Cool Runnings. Another great movie. I cried again.

And later I found Gwen in bed like this.

And then Dan was a good sport and watched the new Jane Eyre with me. By new I mean the one made in 2011 and which I am just getting around to watching.

I love watching stuff like that with Dan because he is very open about his annoyances with the plot and characters. He asks questions like: Why is everyone crazy? Why does she like him when he's so stupid? Why is everything so dark? Why does no one laugh? Is anyone even happy? Why are we watching this?

And then we went to bed, at which point I almost bought a Jane Eyre shirt and a North and South shirt on my phone but then I remembered the new budget Dan set up. Only 3 hours later and I was already back in my debtors' prison mentality.

I'll wait until they go on sale.

It was a girls day at church today because Dan stayed home to take care of Harris, and Beck stayed home with them because he's not a very spiritual baby.

After church, I took the girls to an assisted living facility so that we could play the piano for some residents. I'm still teaching the girls every day and want them to get real comfortable with performing for people.

June jumped right up on that piano and played away. If she messed up, she would shout "RATS" and start after. It was hilarious. She sat down to color while I took my turn playing, but I knew it wouldn't last for long. I heard her get up and start talking up the crowd. The residents loved her. And she wanted to make notes for them. And then she would come to the piano and ask me how to spell things while I was playing. It was the most my brain has exercised since I used to watch Jeopardy and keep score with my sister. I love Jeopardy.

Here's June with her new friend, also named June.

And Gwen did NOT want to play. She told me all day she wasn't going to play anything. And I told her yes she would and they would love it. And then we got to the facility, and she sat on the couch and wouldn't budge. I had this small voice in me think: maybe I should tell her she doesn't have to play until she's comfortable. We plan to keep going back every month, so she can do it another month.

But another part of me told me that she needed to get over this now. And so I told her we couldn't leave until she played. And she didn't move. And then I told the residents she was scared and asked them to help her. And then a nurse offered a lollipop if she did it. So she did it, and then I couldn't get her OFF the piano. And then she told me she doesn't want to go every month--she wants to go every week.

Gwen showed June how to play a scale.

And June loved this lady and asked her why her hands look so different. The nice lady responded it's because she's old. And then June was silent, looked at her own hands and said, "I'm really young."

Yes, you are. 

Then June tried to tell the residents about her box top competition at school and how her class is in third class (no thanks to me--I buy generic). And the ladies thought she said Boscov's, which is a department store here. Which started the most confusing conversation that has ever happened. I had to intervene.

It was a great experience, and we can't wait to go back.

The End.