Truman and Eliza’s First Trip to Six Flags

Last fall, we got Six Flags season passes, good through the end of 2017, for Hannah, Abe, Max, and myself. Every once in a while, season pass holders are allowed to bring a friend for free and that day came last week. So me and Max brought Eliza and Truman as our friends. All three kids were very excited to go. It was great motivation. They rarely have done their chores and homework so well as when they were told they could only go to Six Flags if they got it done. :) Here are Eliza, Max, and Truman near the entrance to the theme park. While Truman doesn’t look very happy in this or many other of the pictures, he really was very good and very happy throughout the day. He just doesn’t know how to fake a smile, thus when he is told to smile for a picture, it never comes off as natural.

The first ride we went on was the Tea Cups. Eliza was in a tea cup with me, Daddy, and Max and Truman were in the tea cup next door. All the kids loved it. We did the ride two or three times.

We next went on the Sombrero ride. Eliza opted out of this one. This gave me the opportunity to snap some good pictures of Truman and Max while on the ride. When he’s not posing, you can see the natural joy and excitement on Truman’s face.

We next visited the Carousel per Eliza’s request. She loved it.

Next, we headed to Bugs Bunny Boom Town, a collection of about a dozen kiddy rides all together in close proximity.

We rode the Marvin the Martian Space Ship ride. While in line for this line, we were standing by some kids who were soaking wet. They said they got wet on the Daffy Duck Bucket Blasters ride, and Truman insisted that we go there next.

Truman said the Daffy Duck Bucket Blasters was his favorite ride. Of course, I think at one point or another he said almost all the rides were his favorite.

The last ride I have a picture of is the Harley Quinn Spin Cycle. This was the only non-kiddy ride we did all day. Eliza wasn’t planning to ride it, but when we got to the front of the line with Max and Truman, she decided to go. And she loved it, as did Truman and Maxwell.

Not pictured, but on our way out of the park we also did the Bat Wings ride, which Eliza really liked. And we stopped by the giant play ground in Bugs Bunny Boom Town, and the kids loved that. After three or four hours the park started getting really crowded and the kids were getting really tired, so we headed for the exit. Overall, it was a great day.

North Rim Grand Canyon

It’s been forever. Life is hectic. I can’t fit in everything I’d like to do.

But… here’s a bit.

We went on a 10-day trip to Utah. It was hard. It was fun.

I was just going through pictures and was able to auto-merge these photos we took into a panoramic version. Cool, eh? You can even see the fire in the distance on the left side. If we would have gone to the south rim, that fire would have smoked the entire view (as it did in 2001-ish when we went there). So, I’m super glad we went to the North Rim.

north-rim-shrunk-panaroma

The end. For now…

The Little Red Hen

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Last week Jimmy mentioned that he was weary of the kids having the ‘Not I’ attitude…
which was a perfect lead-in idea to read The Little Red Hen for a Family Devotional.
Ah-ha… interesting how often we sound like the ones who didn’t want to help that hard-working little red hen.

Jimmy shared the scripture in Galatians & D&C about not being weary in doing good for others.
3x4 be not weary in well doing

I came across this parenting article which I quite liked for our family….

Posted on Thu, Aug 5, 2010
Parenting lessons from ‘The Little Red Hen’
By Annie Zirkel

red henIn the story The Little Red Hen, the overworked and under-supported Mama Hen spends all her time cooking and cleaning while the rest of her household naps the day away. Finally fed up after getting no help in tending some wheat seeds she eventually turns into flour and then a cake, she answers the question of ‘Who’s going to eat this cake?’ with, ‘Not any of you.’

Of course in the story, losing out on cake is just the trick needed to get her lazy, and now hungry, crew to start pitching in – presumably living cooperatively ever after.

Especially when children are young, this deceptively simple story has some wonderful lessons to offer including messages about working together, planning ahead, standing up for yourself, and the power of consequences.

But, not all of the morals of this story are for children. Many parents fall into the trap of doing most of the work while their children spend their time lounging around, playing and socializing, or focusing on their own pursuits. In fact this dynamic is one of the core power struggles in countless families – who’s responsible for the work and who’s responsible for the leisure.

When my children were little, we came up with a phrase that worked well to address this dilemma. We called it Fun & Done as in: Let’s have fun AND get things done, too. Play and clean up. Cook dinner and then relax for a little while.

Or better yet, have fun while getting the chores done. I used to read to my kids while they folded the laundry. And while the laundry didn’t exactly disappear, it was a nice way of balancing the need to move the day forward with the equally important goal of engaging in the only opportunity we would ever have to enjoy that particular day.

Creating a spirit of family cooperation is the critical element for setting up a scenario where everyone can get better at both having fun AND getting things done. Talking to children about what it takes to keep a household running smoothly is a good segue into getting them on board for pitching in. And of course being ready with those calm consequences is a good idea as well.

But the other obstacle to this approach comes from Mama Hen herself who has to shift her expectations and be open to getting less done, putting away her checklists and re-learning what her children (and maybe even her partner) already know – how to relax and enjoy the moment.

This can be harder than it sounds. I know many moms who admit that they feel better when they do it themselves because it gets done right. Then there are those who may do a heck of a lot of squawking about not liking this setup but don’t insist that their clan pitch in. And finally there are those who acknowledge that they just don’t get the whole “fun” thing. Maybe it’s because they have forgotten or maybe they have gotten so caught up in their “To Do” lists that they don’t know how to stop planning the fun and start participating in it.

So if you would like more cooperation for getting things done and more moments of personal fun, you may enjoy this “To Do” list to get you started:

1. Get the book “The Little Red Hen” and read it to your family.
2. Talk about family cooperation and the importance of everyone pitching in. (For older kids think regular booster discussions.)
3. Besides Fun & Done, consider some of these sayings to get the point across:
Many hands make light work. Work hard, play hard. ~ Nike slogan Life’s not all fun and games. (But there should be SOME fun!)
4. Practice the When/Then technique as in “WHEN you’ve cleaned your room, THEN you can go to a friend’s house.” Though be prepared for lapses and have those consequences ready. 5. Both with and without your family, put some FUN into your day as well. (All work and no play makes Red a dull Hen.)

Finding that balance is challenging and fairly unlikely to stay that way for any length of time. But “time” is the crucial word here. Because before you know it, your kids will be gone and you really will be eating that cake alone. Which is too bad because, like chores, cake is so much better (and definitely less fattening) when it is shared.

Annie Zirkel, LPC is a parenting consultant and workshop presenter based in Ann Arbor.
http://www.annarbor.com/entertainment/parenting/parenting-lessons-from-the-little-red-hen/

“This soup is a Gift from God”

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So … long time no blogging.
But… we’re back!

Quick important story.

We were healthy for so long.
and then it ended.
it ended the week jimmy had a week long meeting in oklahoma.
we had the 3 littlest with rsv & strep.
And I felt completely strengthened by earthly and spirit angels.
Amy Binns brought us treats or food almost every day and had us for tacos the night i took scotty to the e.r.
sister jorif helped so much with transportation and being a friend.
I knew that other angels were watching over us.
i felt their patience and strength.
blessings.

fast forward to this week.
i’ve had the worst flu in my life.
i don’t even think i’m exaggerating.
my fever raged from extreme chills to profuse sweating
and i had to take advil and tylenol every 3 hours.
if i waited 4, it was so intense.
those laser shooting pains in your muscles. ouch.
anyhoo… fever for 4 1/2 days.

and then hallelujah… the fever broke sunday night.
but then my cough changed from a dry cough…
to a deeper more productive cough with mucous.
it hurts. boo.

so now I am just trying to rest and be watchful that i don’t get pneumonia or something.
anyhoo…

shelly reeves in our ward texted and said she was bringing dinner.
and i thanked her and told her we were on the mend.
after all we hardly know her and I felt bad for her to spend time on us.
she said, “i guess nobody told you that I don’t take no for an answer. i’m bringing you dinner.”
alrighty then. I’ll gratefully accept.
and today, i was so grateful.
jimmy came home early yesterday but today he had a later meeting.
i didn’t get down for a rest until almost 3.
amy binns picked up the boys from school and took liza and max so i could rest.
bless her.
and shelly brought soup and biscuits at 5ish.

she told me that she had a dream about my mom a few days ago which was weird because she didn’t know my mom.
i told her I’m certain that it was because my mom prays so much for us to be watched over.
i know that her inspiration to bring us dinner and share that love came from my mother’s prayers.
my mom has the sweetest desires to be able to be with us and help us all which isn’t always feasible when we move so far away.
all sorts of tears going on when i was telling shelly this.

so we sat down to dinner and of course most of the kids didn’t like the idea of soup (really kids, do ya like anything?)
I told them that this soup was a gift from God and shared the story about the dream and my mom’s prayers and shelly following the Holy Ghost.
It’s really hard to talk when you’re crying and you can’t breathe because you already have some major coughing and tight airways going on.
so my voice was quiet. but the kids listened.

it isn’t always about the soup.
this was a great lesson for me about the power of prayer.
the importance of listening to and acting on promptings from the Holy Ghost.
And the ability a small act of kindness has to share God’s love with us.

p.s. the other kindness today was michele grow, my first counselor in primary, offered to pick up some natural immune boosters for me at the store. i knew it wasn’t exactly on her way, but i was so grateful. she brought cranberry and elderberry syrup and lobelia herb for coughs. plus, i had joked with her earlier that you couldn’t go to the vitamin shoppe without sneaking by Nothing bundt cakes since they were nearby. She brought a delicious raspberry white chocolate cake. So kind. There are good people in the world and I hope to be better by sharing God’s love with others through service.

Math Whiz

Truman’s teacher at school wanted us to have him tested for gifted and talented because she saw higher-order thinking processes in him.

“Higher order thinking (HOT) is thinking on a level that is higher than memorizing facts or telling something back to someone exactly the way it was told to you. HOT takes thinking to higher levels than restating the facts and requires students to do something with the facts — understand them, infer from them, connect them to other facts and concepts, categorize them, manipulate them, put them together in new or novel ways, and apply them as we seek new solutions to new problems.” [http://www.readingrockets.org/article/how-increase-higher-order-thinking]

Tru’s teacher helped me understand this with a simple example of her son.
There was a field fire and Ms. Holley commented to her son, “Wow. That is a really big fire.”
Son, “I wonder what happens to the earth worms in the fire.”
Ms. Holley had expected someone his age to respond with, “The firemen better come quick.” or something like that.

I’m still understanding what this means, but I think it’s super interesting. Sometimes Truman comes up with things that are fascinating to me. Things he calculates at his age. And questions he comes up with.

For example:

Telling Time
Last year – age 5 – Truman was waking up too early.
He came in and we told him he couldn’t watch tv until 7.
It was 6:37.
Within seconds he said, “That is in 23 minutes.”
I had this wild feeling that this was extraordinary for his age.
Probably because I have to think and process 60-37=23 to figure it out.
But his mind computes it so quickly, like it’s natural.

Days until birthday
Today Truman – age 6 – was begging me to buy a membership to Club Penguin.
I told him that if he wanted it, we could buy a 1-month membership on his birthday.
I told him since it’s February, his birthday is in 8 months.
5 minutes later, he came downstairs and said that his birthday was in 240 days.

I found this calculation on the internet because I wanted to see how close he was:
250 days

I asked him how he figured that out.
He said he counted on his fingers by 30s.
Way to think outside the box.
8 months x 30 days/month = 240

Anyhoo… I just wanted to note Truman’s way of thinking.
I wonder if many of his behavioral hard times are because he’s bored.
He doesn’t think or focus the way I do, so perhaps he needs different stimulus and education.

because i love you, i will …

tough love with my kiddos is hard for me. mostly i want to just have fun together.
but as a mother, i know that if i truly love my kids, i will teach them eternal truths.
these are often simple yet powerful lessons for them to learn (and me also!)

on extra challenging days or in extra trying moments, i have to remind myself that I must be unbending in teaching truths.
i have to tell myself (and the kids) over and over that because i love them, i will …
each kiddo is different. these are the latest…

h: because i love you, i will provide you service opportunities in the home.
a: because i love you, i will follow through on your education, homework, and school projects.
m: because i love you, i will insist you brush your teeth.
t: because i love you, i will not allow you to bite, hit, or kick me.
e: because i love you, i will teach you how to accomplish hard things.
s: because i love you, i will let you cry to sleep and learn to comfort yourself.

This last one, with Scotty, is the most poignant example this past week.
As a parent, I don’t always follow through on what is best, it’s true.
I sometimes choose to do what is easy in the moment because there are too many overwhelming things going on.
Giving Scotty a bottle to suck while falling asleep in his crib became one of those easy things.
He enjoys sucking as a calming technique… but he didn’t like a pacifier.
We used to let him cry it out and it would seriously be like an hour. over and over again.

I knew we needed to just buckle down and figure out a way to have him cry it out and not have it keep other kiddos (and parents!) awake. Hello… he’s like 15 months old.
I also knew that during our move wouldn’t be a good time because he is so sensitive to his environment.
So, after our apartment… after heading to San Antonio for Thanksgiving, we came home and let him get used to his room for a few days.

This past weekend, I was feeling strong and knew we needed to get rid of bottles for good. I was tired of having milky-stinky-blankies and jammies from his bottle. Tired of getting up in the middle of the night if he fussed.

so – the result… He cried for 37 minutes. Long and hard.
Jimmy wanted to get him at 31 minutes.
Six minutes later he was asleep.

Next nap day… cried it out.
Next night… 10 minutes of crying.
Either it was the magical time for this 15 month old or we should have done this a year ago.
We kept trying… just wasn’t working due to who knows what reasons

So now he cries briefly and then calms and then sleeps. And he doesn’t get up in the middle of the night.
Pamper him with a bottle in bed, and he wakes in the middle of the night needing to be pampered.
Toughen him up by crying it out, and he sleeps through the night.
All bottles have been thrown away. NO MORE BOTTLES … ever!
True Story.

So, the moral is… do what is right as a parent. Be Strong.
Remind yourself that because you love this child, you will teach appropriate living and eternal truths.

My wish is that I always knew what was the right path to take in parenting.
I’m so willing to be strong and teach truth. But knowing the HOW is hard in each specific situation.
(like what to do if one certain 6-year-old steals your $5 and buys spirit sticks at school and then lies about it!)
… What the most appropriate consequence is… what lesson God needs us and them to learn.
It’s tricky business – this parenting thing.

I realize this post shows a parenting weakness in me.
But I thought it was really important for me to note that following the promptings of the Holy Ghost with parenting will help us be strong to teach these behaviors and truths.

Let the Christmas Season begin!

2015 12 december
Moments… with the family decorating the tree. Eliza was most delighted to know we had a chimney for Santa to shimmy down this Christmas. Hannah was thrilled to have a mantle to hang stockings on. Scotty toddled around chasing a balloon and playing with the boys. It was mostly a happy time. [mostly… because, ya know… we have 6 kids and we are normal-ish and thus even the sweetest events have hard moments… just imagine loud with energetic kids, silly boys, and noise-weary-parents … with Christmas music in the background and you’ll have a snapshot.]

But look at how things turned out! So Cheerful and Christmasy. Our tree is slightly bare because I did toss some decorations in our move. But it is simple and personal.
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I love the LIGHT of Christmas.
The peace from Jesus Christ.
The JOY and cheer that abound.
The calm, quiet moments with family.

love it.

This week in pictures

light room

We love the duck pond by our apartment. It’s so lovely. It’s a great walk and a mellow family activity (well… as mellow as things get around which actually isn’t very mellow). But it’s a pleasant atmosphere.

Autumn leaves falling! It’s arrived. The weather is perfectly lovely. And we’re enjoying it since we know summer at 110° might be a hard season. We’ve had plenty of rain over the past month which I guess has been welcomed by the people of Dallas as they had a dry summer. I don’t love driving in the pouring rain on The President George Bush Turnpike (yes, that’s the name posted everywhere… so long!). My anxiety picks up after those long drives especially if kiddos are restless and fighting.

Our Utah home was supposed to close Last Monday but for some reason it was delayed … paperwork-smaperwork.
But everything closed properly and we received the $ from the sale. Wahoo!
The unfortunate thing is that I was disappointed that the buyers weren’t a darling little family who would add joys and laughter and friendship to Oak Crest. But perhaps the Spirit of our home and the love of neighbors will touch these men in a positive way. Oak Crest will be so quiet without our noisy family. The Lakes and Condies will have to carry on and make more noise to make up for us being gone… And seriously… I’m still so grateful for the quick sale of our home. What a blessing for our family. I guess there is good that comes of it all.

Let’s see – what else. Hannah is doing great at violin. She has been allowed out of seclusion (sounds horrible… but really she had private lessons to catch up to the rest of the class). She’s musically inclined and catches on fast. Love that! She did a fund-raiser for their end-of-school-year field trip.

Best school news of the week is that Hannah made the basketball team. She missed the first day of tryouts because we went to Houston for Patricia’s funeral. The 2nd and 3rd days she missed because she had the nasty stomach bug from me and scotty. The school secretary helped us get in touch with the coach who was willing to have her come Friday during Girl’s Athletics… and then allowed her to use the first few days of practice as her tryouts. Coach Lee let her know on Thursday that she was on the team. Wahoo. She likes many of the girls and a few girls from the ward are on the team.

Also this week, Abe joined the Chess Club at school. A new friend, Jake, is also on the chess club. Abe said he’s a nice kid who seems respectful (a rarity for 11-year-old boys apparently). He’s excited to be involved in something and make more friends. He has had some interesting introductions to many types of people. He met a boy who is an atheist and thus we’ve had many conversations about religions and sharing personal testimony about what you believe.

Max is enjoying having a friend Jackson from the ward who is in his grade. He was able to go play at his house. He was so excited to play some football. Though he jammed his finger which was quite a big deal to him. We told him it was a good experience for him to deal with that. Our friends the Binns have been so kind and welcoming and helpful. Liza thinks Annie is her only friend, though she is Truman’s age. I’m grateful for Amy who has answered all my annoying ‘new person’ questions. Plus, she is nice to sit by me in Relief Society.

Eliza asks all the time if she can play with a friend. It’s sad to tell her we don’t have any friends yet and maybe when we move into our home, we can meet some new people her age. But I am doing preschool with her at home. We use The Moffatt Girls downloads that are so cute. Eliza mostly loves to paint. But she practices her letters and especially her name. I was proud of myself for letting her use scissors. That’s a big deal around here! She also has loved having the Disney Channel in our apartment which is new for our family. The kids are into PJ-Masks and Miles. Liza always loves Sophia the First and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. She still gets on Youtube to find Peppa Pig though. haha. That peppa pig and her ice lollies and swim costumes.

Ok – I’ll stop with our daily random news. But as evidenced in the photos… isn’t it lovely here in Plano!

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Scotland’s life

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What 14-month old needs toys when he has a garbage can, a mop, perhaps a towel or sock. Not scotty! When he decides he’s content enough in his belly and his guts and emotions, he roams the house finding every day items to enjoy. He pushes the garbage can or laundry baskets around. He finds laundry, clean or dirty, and walks around with it on his head. He thinks he’s super funny. Baby giggles are the best!

Scotty is 14 months. He walked at about 13 months and actually is getting quite balanced. Not quite running, but is getting faster.

This kiddo shrieks and screams. we’ve got to work on sign language or real words more because if he wants something, he points and screams… even at church… or the library… or the store. He’s a tricky one. He’ll say many words but not consistently or understandably. Today he said ‘choc’ for hot chocolate. He also said ‘kit-kat’ that Max taught him. He says ‘nana’ for hannah for banana. He’ll say ‘daddy’ all silly. He says mama and will try to say most of the kids names when prompted. Speech is an area we need to focus on and perhaps that will help the shrieking tantrums.

Scotty has had a crazy hard time with his guts and poops. Way too much info. But it’s been hard. We had a stomach bug that ended with some nasty yeast diaper rash for a week. He only wanted dairy. Ugh. Looks like diet needs to be a focus as well. He used to be amazing at eating many things and now is super picky especially about fruits and veggies. He loves waffles, bananas, cheese, milk, apples, and rice. Yikes. Sounds like the B.R.A.T. diet. Oh – but he’ll eat wood chips at the park. Fiber anyone?

Scotty has done pretty well on our long drives to Rockwall this past month. He looks out the window. He likes when music is playing. He snuggles his blankie. We hand food back… though since I cleaned the van last Saturday (grrrrr…), I’ve been more careful about what I hand him… and am better about cleaning out his seat every day. Usually Truman sits by Scotty and helps him with snacks or toys. Eliza is a good helper on our drive home from dropping the kids off at school.

Scotty usually just takes one nap a day lately. Usually from 11-2. And then we get him up to go get the kids from school. He sleeps from about 8-7 at night. Though he’s still a stinker and sometimes gets up in the middle of the night. It’s hard to make him cry it out when we’re in an apartment that shares walls with so many others. He sleeps in a walk-in closet in our master bedroom hallway. The fan from the laundry room provides white noise for him. Our entire apartment is either tile or laminate wood so it echoes a lot. Hard to have quiet sleep time with so many loud siblings in the house.

Scotty loves daddy. Today Jimmy needed me to hold Scotty for a bit so he could have a restroom break. Scotty wailed and wailed. Really Scotty?! I love you too. Luckily he does have mom moments and occasionally – though rare – he’ll snuggle.

Anyhoo… Scotland is a delight in our family. He cheers up the kids when they are sad. He has been playing with Abe lately and especially enjoys pushing the buttons on his trumpet. His laugh is hearty and great. His hair is like Max’s… all stiff and grows forward. His eyes are more on the gray side (vs the previous blue) and will probably be hazel like all the other boys. I’m grateful for the cheer and innocence he brings into our home.

This included rambling thoughts about our life now. But since I hadn’t written anything about Scotty lately, I figured it was insightful for family history. Wink. and. smile.

a little about Truman

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Truman’s Kindergarten class has been preparing for the upcoming Thanksgiving Feast by making Native American and Pilgrim costumes. He even had a papoose. Interesting for a male native. But creative.

He also had to disguise a turkey. He chose to dress it up like a rainbow. He did very careful coloring… which is a big deal for Tru.

This week we went on a walk to the duck pond and park. The leaves have started to fall. Tru was hoping to be buried in leaves by his siblings. They got him mostly buried and he burst forth in delight.

This morning when I was combing Tru’s hair, he was making faces in the mirror. He showed me his bored face. He showed me his angry face. I asked him about his happy face and he said, “I don’t know how to do happy.” Insightful comment coming from Truman. I reminded him of a funny joke and he soon found his happy face. He can’t fake emotion. He only displays what he feels, I guess.

Truman has adjusted pretty well to all-day kindergarten here in Texas. The first few days he immediately fell asleep in the car after school got out at 3. It does make for a long day when we rise at 6, leave home at 7, arrive at 8… and then have school until 3, wait for Hannah to be done with basketball until 5 and then drive home to arrive at 6. We are moving in the next week or so and hopefully he’ll adjust to sleeping in. The kids only have 1 recess which is right before lunch so they have an intense day of learning and little play. It has been a change from Utah Kindergarten which is half day with 3 recesses.

Jimmy and I have been prayerful about what we can do to best help Truman meet his potential and function happily in his life. He is brilliant at Math and has such precision of speech and thoughts. He shares many insightful things with us in his tender moments. He is strong in so many ways.

In fact… yesterday we had him clean out under his bed. I asked him to move his bed back in place (it’s on wheels on a hard wood floor and is really slick to move). He said, “My bed is strong. And I am weak.” We had a great conversation about how Heavenly Father made him strong … physically and spiritually. I showed him that he could move his bed and then we talked about how we can be strong in doing what is right. There is such hope for Truman. We love him dearly and hope he can resolve and work through some of his specific life challenges with God’s love and strength.