Sunday, October 30, 2011

Football is almost over....for now.

A few weeks ago, we were at an away game for football.
We had come from the crowded soccer fields.
As Colin and I walked over to the field,
there was the most serene scene in front of us.
Colin said, "Look mom, our 2 favorite things,
church and football."
I had to admit,
it was beautiful.
It pleased me considerably to know that my son's heart is in the right place.

I didn't take a picture that day,
but Saturday was just as great.

I woke up with a serious need to get to the temple.
Ainsley was stirring.
Caleb was first due to a field.
I asked him if he would go with me early so I could spend a few minutes in the temple.
He agreed and quickly dressed.
He and the baby walked around the temple while they waited for me.

It seems like the temple is busier and busier.
The new Gilbert temple can't come fast enough for me.

We left there and headed to a rendezvous point with Dan.
I was hoping a good breakfast and a peaceful morning would ease the anxiety that accompanies game day.
It didn't,
but that's okay. The game was still fun.
I gave Ainsley to Dan for the morning game.
He looked a little panicked when she whimpered a bit for him.

This is the beautiful scene where we watched Caleb play.

And a picture of Dan.
He doesn't know beans about babies....at least he would have me believe that.
This ain't your first rodeo, bro.

I kept the little princess with me.
She is "Cheeze"ing with her cousin.

We headed to soccer.
Dan made another rendezvous point at soccer to catch the end of the girls games.
Reagan's team got annihilated.
Presley lost too.
0 for 3 in the morning games.

I tried to cheer Reagan up at half time.
She wasn't having it.

And then,
I did something.
It wasn't normal for me.
-I had words with the yeller coach.-
He wasn't pleased with me.
(At least the second half was quieter.)


About 1pm, we ended up on a road trip with Maryn, Colin and Ainsley.
Casa Grande.
I love road trips.


This would have been the perfect ending to our day.
We were on a lush field in the middle of the cool desert watching the Arizona sunset.
The game was close and our team won.
It doesn't get any better than that.

But that did not end our day.
We still had kids all over town.
Everyone had a party this weekend,
and all went different directions.
Corbin and Cade spent Friday night and Saturday with Grammie.
They had a blast.
Reagan had a party after her game.
Presley went to "Trunk or Treat" with her friend.
Caleb had a costume party.
Sydney had play practice all day.

Some were out.
Some were coming.
Some were going.

Dan and I were exhausted....with a few more hours to go.

We made our rounds,
and finally dropped the last bunch of friends home about 10pm.

At one point, I felt so tired, I just wished I could throw up and go to bed.
But I am not a fan of puking,
so I just went to bed.

Dan woke up sick.

This morning was busy trying to navigate the debris from the week.
We do not have shoes on shoe shelves,
or belts,
or socks.
8 am church.
No biggy right??

We we made it.
I was so happy to be there,
with everyone dressed,

but Dan was sick.

So we came home early.
And since, I have turned into Nazi-mom.

No fighting.
No mess-making.
No junk food.
No Talking (I like that one best).

And Dan is sick.

Erhggggg.

I made him some tea and soup,
but I am not happy about his choosing to get a respiratory sickness.
Today is Sunday.
If we don't button this day down,
next week will be hard.

My brother suggested changing his batteries.

It's okay.
He takes care of me all the time.
I can be nice to him today.

but tomorrow is out of the question....

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fuel

Ahhh.....what's new???

I am not really sure.
The days and nights all blur together.

Today I woke up pretty energetic.
Ainsley had snuggled her way into my bed again.
Reagan was burried at the foot under my comforter.
Cade was smooshed in right next to me.

I know at some point in the night I jumped up and ran into Maryn's room to make sure she was breathing.
(She is almost 2)

I can't remember if it was a good night or bad so I am calling it good.

I am living proof that zombie moms can, in fact, survive entirely on Gatorade.

Most mornings frighten me right out of my pants.
(That's why I don't bother wearing pants.)
Dan said to me this week, "Are you going to wear pants today?"
No.
"Ok then, how bout shorts?"
No.
"Skirt?"
No. And not a swim suit, wet suit or snow suit either.
He said, "Ok."
And we moved on.

I was thinking last night, as I drove around.
Are we too busy?
If I had been alone yesterday,
I would have driven kids to school at 8am.
Taken Cade to pre-school and noon.
Dropped Sydney at her class at 12:40pm.
Let the air conditioning guy in at 1pm.
Gone to the Preschool party from 1:15-3pm.
Picked Sydney up at 3:30pm
Made and fed dinner.
Taken kids to church for primary practice.
Dropped boys at football.
Dropped Sydney at play practice.
Picked up church kids.
Picked up football boys.
Picked up soccer girls.
Picked up Sydney.
Delivered fundraiser items.
Put everyone to bed.

But my mom was home and that was super helpful for the 8am drive to school, the air conditioner guy and the church kids.
($229.50 to get a new flux capacitor. I think that he made that up.)
And at the end of the night when the little boys wanted to curl up on the couch and watch a movie, Grandma sat through Captain America.

(The boys think she's cool because she watches super hero movies...and likes them.)
The girls hitched a ride to soccer.
(I love love that I live on a street with friends who come and go to all the same places we go. Kids hop in and out of cars all the time.)

I came and went from this house so very many times yesterday.
Somehow, the day was really good.
I spent time being a little social.
The kids took their turns in the front seat talking my ear off.
I even gave the littles a nap and read Cade a book.

Are we too busy?
I don't think so.
I love the time with the kids.
I almost feel selfish sometimes because I think this is the coolest job.
I get to hang out at practices,
and listen to all their stories.
They teach me new songs.
Game day is super awesome.

Right now,
Colin is finishing football.
He started cross country.
Next week, he begins wrestling.
Tonight he is on a scout camp out.
He has been one happy guy.
Our boys think bengay is the best invention ever.
Now they can play more, right through their pain.

2 more weeks of our crazy Fall activities,
and then it settles down a bit.
We lose football and the Play.
It's not really about what we lose or gain in activities.
We just like things to begin and end.
It feels really good to complete something and then move forward.

How do we manage?
I have learned to be extremely flexible.
And I have learned to love what the kids love.
Homework isn't even so bad.
The other day, I told the kids,
"Look, your only job is to learn new stuff. That's the best job ever (next to mine)."
They don't seem to complain about homework much.

The feeling in my heart and mind?
This is the best.

My fuel of choice?
Orange Gatorade with 21 grams of sugar



and
Ibuprofen.

Sleep? Not entirely necessary.

Thoughts? Completely random.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday

It's 4:47am.
Ainsley has been up since 3am.
That's fairly normal.
She is starring at me right now,
trying to smile and talk.
Reagan is asleep in my bed,
as well as Cade.
I wish I was sleeping.

It's been a long two weeks.
I take the break times to do my due diligence in driving.
During the normal course of our weeks,
I limit driving when possible,
but during breaks, I might drive across town every day for a camp or activity.
It's only 2 weeks, so no biggy.

Driving is my double edged sword.
On the one hand,
it's my favorite time to be with the kids.
I always have someone captive in the front seat and they tell me all about whatever is on their mind.
We listen to music.
When a new funky song comes on the radio,
Dan typically changes the station.
I stop him all the time and tell him, "I like that one."
He says I'm 'so mainstream.'
Sydney tells me I wouldn't sing along as much if I knew what the song was about.
Colin tells her not to ruin the music for us.
We like a good, catchy beat.
Lately, we like the songs with M&M rapping along,
except there are lots of holes in his music and I think it's because those are bad words,
so we make up our own words,
or we turn the station when it's ridiculously over-bleeped.

The other hand of driving is that it exhausts me.
Really.
And loading and unloading zaps all my energy.
My reserves are desperately low right now.
I have gone back to forgetting to eat,
which is bad if I don't want my hair to fall out again for the 9th time.

I had a lesson to teach yesterday at church.
It was about 10am when I felt shaky.
I am not a nervous person,
so I racked my zombie mind to try to pinpoint it.
Saturday had been busy.
It started early with Merit Badges,
and culminated with an unexpected night game of football in Casa Grande.
I don't remember really eating much.
On the way to church in the van,
we launched bananas back to whomever couldn't reach one on the counter before we left.
A banana is hardly enough.

I am usually a great early morning person,
but I admit that 8am church is rough after a long Saturday of games.
I notice that the chapel is a little low on attendance.
If I am having trouble,
and I like the early time,
how much harder must it be for the night-owls of the world?

Yesterday,
we made it.
It wasn't pretty.
But we were there.

I taught a lesson on the temple,
and that brought up a few tears.
I was too tired to be witty or funny.

Ainsley is almost asleep.
That means it's time for me to wake up a teenager and head to the gym.
Her "morning-ness" is coming along,
although sometimes it's like waking the monster from the Black Lagoon.

Last night,
I called all the big kids in.
It was about 7pm,
and it may as well have been 2am.
We talked about laundry and clean bedrooms.
I told them I was so tired.
Colin grabbed a notebook and they all decided this weeks chores.
We had a chat about grades and practice.
They know that I believe it's possible for them to get straight A's,
and I expect it,
Because intelligent children shouldn't perform lower than their best.
We all agreed that this house needs to be orderly,
or all the OCD combined will well up and eventually create a Chernobyl-like meltdown.
We can't have that.

(I just sneezed and it made Ainsley smile).

I hate to admit this,
but today must be laundry-mat day.
(I got behind.)

On second thought,
I might hold off on the gym.
I honestly don't know what time the teenager went to bed.
Her alarm sounded,
but she didn't move.
We might need a little later morning.
She has a huge test today.
I hope she is prepared.

To my amazing children:
You are doing so well.

Sydney....I read and pray just for you every day.

Colin....your humor is exhausting.

Caleb.....I spent most of my afternoons this break working on your eyes...and your bed....because I love you, and I need you functioning at 100%.

Reagan....your kickoffs are coming along nicely. If you really want to play spring tackle, I will let you. Colin and Caleb will teach you how to throw like a boy. Caleb will block for you. Use your awesome soccer skills for punts and kicks. And if you get the ball, run as fast as you can, because your dad will not handle you getting tackled.

Presley....when I am old, will you take care of me?

Corbin...In the car on the way home from church, I asked, "Does anyone know where my phone is?" You made everyone laugh when you replied, "I want to go to the store for a donut."

Cade....You are funny. I love your spunk. You also make a great "Potty-Word" Policeman.

Maryn....Please do not learn language from your brothers. "Butthead" is still a bad even when you say it in your sweet, little princess voice.

Ainsley...You bring peace to our house.

Dan....we are hungry. Please hurry home.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Arriven

This is him.




This is me.





We didn't have the opportunity to embarrass ourselves today afterall. We weren't just overly worn out from games. We were sick. So 5 of the kids went to church today, and Dan and I took turns dragging ourselves around taking care of the kids.



At the end of the day, I forget to remember how cute these kids are. They are each adorable and gifted. I love them more than sleep, (and everyone who knows me well, knows that is really a super lot of love.)



The other morning, we called the kids in for scripture. They came stumbling in like zombies. When one would enter the room, I would say, "Zombie #1 has arriven." I must have been in zombie mode too, because "arriven" isn't a word, but I thought it was. One by one, they all appeared. We were finally surrounded by all 9 little zombies. Yesterday, Corbin was saying it over and over, just like I said it that morning, trying to figure out which number is associated with which kid. He thinks that "arriven" is a word. It is now, son.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Saturday is a special day



So tired tonight.....
This is what we look like at the end of a really long day of games.
Saturdays are the best,
although I admit that I was anxious to start this day.
How on earth do we navigate 4 different games on 3 different fields all at different times with 8/9 kids?
Somehow we pulled it off.
I had a few 'moments.'
For example,
"Kids....respect the perimeter around mom's personal space."

We had 2 wins and 2 losses today.
The last few weeks we've walked away with 4/4 wins.
Oh well.

Next week is wrestling camp.
I am pretty excited to see how our boys enjoy it this time around.
They have become tremendously more competitive,
and seriously stronger.
I think they will do well.

My eyes are red and burning.
My throat is hurting,
and my voice is nearly gone.
The house is a disaster because we did yard work and played instead of scrubbing toilets.
I am gearing up for a 48 hour shift soon....and I will probably cry.

Tonight I am sitting her considering all of our activities and commitments.
I wonder if I am really doing what I am meant to be doing right now.
Mostly, I drive. And drive. And drive some more.
Everything we do requires a new pair of shoes.
I wonder what our kids will remember when they think back on their childhood.
I remember donuts, chores and Hee-Haw on Saturdays.
What will be stored in their "Saturday File" in their minds?

I hope the children remember all the good.
They are all blessed with many opportunities.
I don't mind the driving and time is takes see them enjoy their activities.
I love that they are beginning to have so much in common.

Well, Ainsley got a head start on us tonight and she has been snoozing an hour now.
Maybe tonight is the night,
and we will sleep a solid 8 hours...
Kind of doubt it.

Happy Saturday.
It was football and soccer and movies tonight.
Tomorrow will be frustrating,
but hopefully good.
If I am lucky,
I won't embarrass myself in front of everyone I know.
(I would have to be really lucky for that though :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Interruptions

I checked every website I could find searching out camps for the next two weeks.
I found a super great one.
Math Camp.
4 hours a day for 5 days.
$75.
That's $3.75 per hour.
So perfect.
And then, I even got the 12 year old to agree to it.
Reagan would have loved it too,
but it was only for Junior High kids.
The others settled on Tennis camp.
Even Corbin is old enough now.

So Colin got up bright and early yesterday morning and hitched a ride with his dad to Math camp.
He called me about 7:45am to tell me they didn't have enough participation and the camp would be cancelled.
Soooo disappointed.
At least he got 4 hours of math out of it,
and we get a full refund.
Colin ended up joining the others at tennis camp.

I tried to take the kids picture today when they were finished at tennis.
Caleb said, "No mom. People are going to think we don't ever play sports if you take a picture of us here."
hahaha
Who cares? I took the picture anyway.

Interruption....every time I sit down, Ainsley fidgets,
so I keep getting up to settle her.

Another interruption....Chinese Mother moment.

Speaking of which,
Colin got in the car after Math Camp yesterday.
He thought the camp was fun.
There were more mentors than students.
All the mentors were Chinese and one of the 3 students.
The other two 7th graders were in Geometry....2 classes higher than Pre-Algebra.
Colin said he isn't even sure how those kids are in Geometry to begin with.
I told him, "That's what summer school is for son. You'll find out this June."

Another interruption....

It's 10:39pm.
I should be asleep.
It's been a long day.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chinese mother

It's Sunday.
It was General Conference this weekend,
where we watch church on TV,
(except we don't have cable so we listen on iPhones and computers).

Regretfully,
we do not all gather like we used to.
The attention span of the littles is short.
The big kids are a hit-and-miss with their concentration.
I was just really happy to stay in my pajamas today.
(I moved on from my favorite old blue nightgown to Dan's fire shirts.
He recently said he ordered new uniform shirts.
I said, "Great....new jammies for me."
He didn't think that was funny.)

Anyway, until I fit in my old, out-of-style clothes,
I will continue wearing my pajamas all day.

I forgot what I was talking about.....
General Conference. Right.
So it's always a good, inspiring weekend.
Every six months we look at how we are measuring up and make little tweaks to our goals.

I love fall.
It's always an extremely motivating time for me.
Now that Ainsley is 7 whole weeks old,
and sleeping a little more during the dark hours,
I am ready to get back into my ambitions.

Sometimes,
I am pretty sure I am getting killed in most areas of my life.
For example, last week was a little horrendous with school.
Our first semester ended.
So much was required.

When little precious was 1 week old,
we went to "Intervention Conference" for one of the kids.
Usually, only parents go,
but I thought it would be a good idea to bring the student along.
(I wasn't in the mood to talk about the child.
If there was an issue,
that kid could be there to hear about it.)

It was a productive meeting.
As parents we understood a little more how we can help our student.
The student and the teachers worked up a plan for success.
We left the conference feeling regenerated.

It lasted about 1 minute until the student realized that the new plan did not include hanging out with friends that weekend instead of completing some missing assignments.

The student and I did not agree.

Of course, Dan stepped in as a mediator.
He explained the consequences in a way that encouraged the student to finish the work.
I did not come unglued.
We spent the weekend working.
It was a win-win.

And from that point forward,
the students in our house began the uphill climb to good grades.

I shut the house down.
Except for sports,
we are all grounded Mon-Thurs.
The weekends are play times....well most of the time.

The kids responded well.
Really,
they are as ambitious as I am.
They like getting good grades and excelling at sports.
I don't see the point of failing.

So what is on my mind today?
I told Dan this morning,
"My goal is to work on my Chinese mothering."
He said that I am already a Chinese mother.
I told him I could be a better Chinese mother.

It might take some extra effort considering that most Chinese mothers only have 2 kids,
and I have 9.

I think I can do it though.

If you don't know what I am talking about,
go here.

There are some things that Dan and I feel are vital that are not on this list.
I am more lenient with the creative arts, such as school plays.
(We have a kid that loves drama.
I am okay with it if she can keep her grades up.)

Because Dan and I lack musical training,
it is difficult to encourage it,
but I am learning.

We are also avid sports supporters.
Practice and training began with resistance,
but have become a really fun part of our lives.

Friday night,
everyone went to Corbin's wrestling practice.
He is so cute to watch.
Dan left early with most of the kids to watch the Reagan's soccer game.
We all met together for the second half.
Reagan scored 5 goals.....more on that later.
We came home,
had ice cream
and watched a movie.
It was such a great night.
Saturday was more soccer and football.

The kids are all doing well.
They are seeing the success and enjoying their activities.
I just want them to learn to give their best effort no matter what they are doing.
Becoming a concert violinist would be great,
but it's not meant for everyone.
Some would rather spend 3 hours everyday working on their sports and training,
or their writing,
or studying.

Tomorrow begins Fall Break.
It snuck up on me.
We had not planned to go anywhere because Ainsley is still really new.
When presented to the kids,
they all agreed that there is no way they would miss games for vacation right now.
When I asked if they want to sign up for some kind of camp,
they all got excited.
Sydney made the goal last week to ramp up her ACT testing skills and work on math.
Sounds grueling to some,
but we are all pretty happy around here.
We have 2 weeks to learn new skills
or work on some things that feel like weaknesses.
The concept of "No Homework" sounds heavenly to me.

What's my role here right now?
Be the best Chinese mother I can
while following the spirit,
and having fun doing it.

Chinese mothering...my way.

This is the cover of Colin's recent language assignment.
He was losing interest quick.
We brainstormed some ideas and came up with this.
This topic was intriguing.
He did really well on the assignment.


Of course we don't really believe in zombies,
although the CDC has this to say about the topic.

Colin could have written on the traditional topics:
"How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich."
Or
"How to Play Baseball."
But why not tap into the creative realm,
if you can pull it off.



And this is how the children spent Sunday General Conference.
Under the blankets in my dining room table and chairs.



It reminded me of a story in the Book of Mormon,

where the people gathered around to hear the good King Benjamin address them.

They pitched their tents with the doors towards the temple.

I hope our kids always remember to keep their focus on the things of God,

because I really believe when we do that,

everything else just falls into place.