Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ammon's Birthday

 This little munchkin is ONE!

We had lots of family over to celebrate. I was so happy to have my parents and brothers here to join us!

Strawberry picking with grandma and uncles

No toy can compare to an empty cereal box or a roll of toilet paper
 Some of my favorite things about Ammon:

  • He is so happy! He has such a contagious exuberance for life. A pile of stuffed animals, laundry, or even an air mattress make him laugh as he pounces on it. 
  • He loves ordinary objects. The recycling and Tupperware drawers hold wealth of interesting objects far superior to toys. He likes to take things out and put them back in.
  • He loves to pretend to talk on the phone. And he'll use anything as a phone. Books, diapers, cups, remotes... if it can fit in his hand it can be a phone. 

 Quin was pretty impressed by my parent's moving truck. He said to my mom "I'm so proud of you for driving the yellow monster truck."

 He has really enjoyed having fun uncles to play with. Trevor showed him the "beep beep I'm a sheep" video and Quin sings it as he jumps on the trampoline.
Quin's love for all things Moana has grown. He likes to "dress up" as Maui. Which is to say he chooses the shirt and shorts on the top in his dresser and calls them a Maui costume. He often takes his fish hook with him to the store and park.

Monster truck ride at the mall in Albany

When Michael went on a business trip to Portand we thought it would be a good idea to go visit him at the hotel. My cousins watched the kids so I could go to the temple and then we took the kids to Red Robin. Quin was really tired and had a rough night. At one point he fell out of his chair and landed on his head. I took him out to the atrium to cry so we wouldn't bother the other eaters. He wailed for a few minutes and then suddenly stopped and calmly said "I'm all done." and got off my lap and we walked back into the restaurant. He was having a hard time falling asleep so we took them to walk around the temple to wear him out. He was really impressed.

 But after getting back to the hotel he still wouldn't sleep until after 10 PM. The next day we set off for the Gilbert house to meet Rachel and Jennifer and the cousins. Quin was so tired he screamed more than he played. But Ammon had a pretty good time.
Quin was pretty grumpy at the Gilbert house but he loved this ice cream toy
Playing at the Gilbert house

Helping with the flooring and the Dodge Grandparents'

Everyone has been loving all the grandma time. Ammon lights up when he sees her and reaches out to be held 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Happy Hiking and Cute Kids

We enjoyed a nice visit from Nathan, Valerie, Meryl, and Camille. I love how clean the house gets when you're expecting company. I organized the garage, pantry, kid's closets. My house looked amazing! Well, relatively.... compared to how it usually looked. I was so busy tidying random areas that they wouldn't see I forgot basic hospitality things, like clean towels and extra toilet paper in the bathrooms. Realized it after they left. Sorry guys :( I'll do better next time you visit!
They had dinner with us, played with the kids, and then we played our favorite board game, Splendor. The next morning I took them to McDowell Creek Falls. I had been there for the first time last Monday when Michael took me there on a date.
It was a great hike! A little cold and I didn't dress the kids warmly enough, but everyone survived. Quin walked for about half of the hike! I think it might have been that he was afraid to get back in the carrier on Nathan's back.

Quin was confused by my dad's identical twin brother and his wife, who could pass as my mom's twin. He was really nervous around them at first. During dinner Quin leaned over to me and whispered "is that grandma?" After they left he referred to them as "grandpa and Valerie."

Here's the latest in Cuteville: 
Ammon loves being outside. If I take him out when he's grumpy it quickly cheers him up. Despite his love of the outdoors, he hates hats. He can whip one off his head .5 seconds after I've carefully laid it there. He also removes the hats and glasses other people are wearing if they let him get close enough to their face.
It makes him really excited to see dogs and he will crawl towards them to try to pet.
He loves doors and often pushes them back and forth. He also really likes driving cars around. He "drives" everything around actually; books, helicopters, space ships, burp rags... He pushes everything across the floor as if it was a car. He likes to push scooters around outside. It's pretty funny to watch his one-knee crawl as he zooms across the patio.
He likes to dance. Even if the only music is Quin playing the drums, he bends his knees in a springy, bouncy dance.

A new favorite trick he learned is holding a phone up to his ear and babbling. It's so cute and I want to take a video but he usually does it with my phone, which is where the camera is. He also sometimes uses other non-phone toys as phones, such as toy cutlery.
He came up with the funniest pose. He holds his arm outstretched in front of him with his fingers closed together (if his hand is empty or it's even funnier when he's holding a toy) as if to say "BEHOLD!" But what he usually says is "mgab." He does this several times a day!
I'm pretty sure he said his first word on Friday. He reached up and gave me a big hug, patted me on the shoulder, and said "mama."

Quin really wanted Ammon to snuggle with and sleep next to him tonight. He was so disappointed when we said "no." Pretty soon they'll share a room but right now they enjoy each other's company so much I don't think they would ever sleep.
When Quin wants to play with us he hands out a monster truck to each person in the room. Our current favorite movie is Moana and favorite song is "You're Welcome" (as I'm sure is true with many households). Quin likes to do a haka imitation. It's more like an aggressive patty cake dance, but he really gets into it and chants made up Hawaiian sounding words.

A Glimpse into Clinical Depression/Worst Birthday out of 25

I wasn't sure if I should make this public, but I think it's important to share the sad with the happy. Since this blog is sort of like a journal, I am including an entry about my birthday. It was a really rough day, after a rough week, after a rough year. I feel like this is the worst part of my life. I want to talk to someone about it but don't want to call because I don't want to ruin someone's day by whining about my life. Also, when I'm depressed I'm irrational and I don't think anyone would care to hear about my dumb life. Even if they said they wanted to before. It's easier to write about it anyway. So I'll just put it out there and communicate my feelings this way. If you care and want to hear, then here it is!

Despite many kind wishes of happy birthday, it was one of my saddest days so far. I don't think I've ever had suicidal thoughts on my birthday before, so it seemed ironic to celebrate my life when I felt like I wanted to die. (Do not panic, counseling and psychiatrist appointments are scheduled). It wasn't all bad. There were definitely highs and lows.
Friday I took the boys to the junior strawberry festival parade, intending to walk in it with our church. However, Quin was too slow and too upset to walk, so we watched the parade instead. Ammon was really impressed by the marching band. He flailed his arms and legs excitedly when they passed.

Saturday we went out for sushi and then to the Strawberry Festival carnival. Ammon really likes sushi apparently! He made an enormous mess.

Quin was so cute at the restaurant. After Michael and I both said "water for me" Quin chimed in "water for me". When she brought the food we both said thank you and then Quin gave an enthusiastic "thanks!" The kids were both really well behaved at the restaurant. I was so proud of them!
The carnival was crowded, noisy, and expensive. The stroller didn't roll well on the gravel and kept getting stuck. We ended up carrying both kids and pushing the diaper bag in the stroller. Michael and I both got to ride on a carnival ride with Quin. Michael and Quin waited in line for about half an hour to get one one ride that lasted 5 minutes. Quin wanted a balloon sword that was $5 and would pop within a few hours of abuse at home. So we left the carnival in full tantrum mode and I silently resolved never to go to Disneyland (I've never been, never will go). We calmed Quin down by offering to stop at the dollar store to look for a sword. We found a spiderman glow stick that did the trick and then went to grocery outlet and saved so much money! And spent so much money! We got important yard-related items like a shovel and pruning sheers.

On Sunday Quin went to church as "Steve Rogers" with his Captain America suit under his church clothes. I butchered it on the organ and it was hard not to burst into tears up there on the bench. However, after church I was happy because I felt like I had done a really good job of teaching the 7 year olds. I asked them how old they thought I was turning today and got really hilarious answers: 39, 1, 19 no 20! then finally I got 26 and said close enough! 
Michael came home and was super tired from going to bishopric meeting at 6:30 AM. I felt really frustrated with his over-tired parenting and the false illusion of "help" that having him home was offering and finally just told him to go to bed because he was driving me crazy. And then I had to change the second diaper blow out of the day and take care of unhappy, needy kids while I was tired. Then I recalled how badly I played on the organ at church, and I started to feel really depressed and worthless again. Eventually Michael came down and it seemed like he was trying to "mourn with those who mourn" to help me feel comforted but it just stressed me out that he was taking my depressed mood so personally. He asked me a few times "what's wrong?" Even though I know he's sincerely trying to help, I hate that question. I don't really know how to answer it. What's wrong? There's nothing actually wrong on the outside other than tiny everyday grievances that I over-react to. What's wrong is my brain is broken. It's ruining my life from the inside. This past week it has felt like there is a fountain of sad inside that keeps springing up.

He offered to make me a cake but I told him I didn't want one anymore, then went upstairs and cried until I fell asleep. When I woke up I felt better and asked him to make the cake after all. He made cake and waffles, during which time I played with the boys outside as Ammon got increasingly crabby. I did find little purple pansies touched with yellow gold growing in one corner of the garden old and they cheered me up. It reminded me how much I loved flowers when I was a little girl. I identified and picked them everywhere I went. Even the neighbors gardens, much to my mom's chagrin.
And my garden is thriving! My thumb isn't so black after all. I always feel so grateful to my plants for growing in spite of me as the gardener.  I was delighted to find some volunteer tomatoes from our previous tenant's gardening.

I went for a walk by myself after the kids were in bed and found a beautiful pink envelop in the mailbox. My parent's birthday card arrived at the exact perfect moment!
On my walk I saw the most beautiful rose that really cheered me up.

And look at this blooming blackberry bush by the path behind my house!
When I got home I was feeling much better. Michael and I talked and he got me to laugh. We are looking forward to going on more dates when my parents move here. Then Mike packed up and left for Portland. He'll be gone on a business trip for a week.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Spring Happenings

I took Quin to an Easter Egg hunt and carnival at a church on D Street. Michael stayed home with sick Ammon.  It was the maiden voyage of my new cargo bike. Quin was already kind of grumpy before we left. I had a hard time getting him dressed. 
At the carnival Quin got a black sword balloon and he looked at some Pygmy goats and baby chicks. 
He really enjoyed the bounce house and had a hard time coming out when his turn was over. 

He missed the Easter egg hunt for his age group because he was having a tantrum about leaving the bounce house. Then he decided to look at the chicks and goats some more and I wasn't going to fight him. 

He got to ride a pony but he got pretty impatient and consequently disregulated during the 20 minute wait in line. So he just screamed the entire 30 second ride. I made him do it and I held his hand and stayed close to him. He spoke positively about the experience once it was over but I'm not sure if forcing him to ride the pony was the right thing. 

At the end they let kids who missed their age group join in the last egg hunt. I hurriedly brought Quin over there but he just stood at the start line and cried while the other kids hunted for eggs. Some kind adults took pity on him and gave him a handful of eggs when the hunt was over. 

I'm sorry for all the times I disappointed you mom, by having tears and tantrums at events that were supposed to make me happy. I wonder how often we do this sort of thing to Heavenly Father. Dragging our feet, complaining about the wait, and then crying because what he has provided isn't "good enough" as if we even deserved it in the first place. 

Easter morning at our house was a more pleasant experience. I got these "resurrection eggs" that have symbols of parts of the Easter story that kids can look at while you read the bible story. For example, there is a chalice for the part about the sacrament. 
Easter family photo
It has gotten to the point/Quin is old enough where we need to actually decide what family traditions we want for holidays. When I was growing up my siblings and I hid Easter egg clues that lead to a hidden basket. I decided to take it up a notch by having the clue be a scripture that needed to be deciphered. One of the clues was Luke 5:24 "But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house." The egg was hidden on the couch :) It was great showing our kids to look in the scriptures for answers.
 It took Ammon 30 seconds to demolish this creme egg.

 Quin got a toy tool set and Ammon got some duplo construction vehicles to add to our growing collection.

Quin used his new hammer as a prop for a Fix it Felix Jr costume
I love Easter!

On Earth Day the boys and I walked in the "Procession of Species" parade. People dress up as animals and march in a parade downtown. Quin was in the wrong parade with him superman costume on, but I guess Superman is a different species.
Then we split a gyro at a Greek restaurant.
And then shared a cup of gelato at an Italian cafe. Quin was really happy to sit In the loft above the cafe.
Then we walked to the park. We didn't realize that the March for science gathering was happening there. I have never seen so many kids on a playground! On the way we met a giant Lego guy. 

We had a great day! I'm looking forward to these kinds of outings with my parents when they move back.

We had about 4,000 weeks of rain and when the sun finally emerged we had a lot of fun outside. Quin enjoys the push mower.

The library had special a May 4th event. Quin was really impressed by Chewbacca and Dark Nader.

I took the kids to "pet day" at OSU. It was basically a dog fest with some exhibits of reptiles and a petting zoo. I was really excited to take Quin to the petting zoo. He has been asking to go to the zoo for some time. When we first walked in to the reptile exhibit in the vet school he saw this skeleton.

He was so interested in the skeleton he didn't want to look at anything else.
He didn't want to touch any of the reptiles. I made him touch the tortoise because IT'S A TORTOISE you've gotta touch it! I was impressed even though Quin wasn't. He did like the giant bullfrog I guess.
They had a room full of animal skeletons at the vet school. Quin was so intrigued! He kept pointing at them and asking me questions and trying to touch them. There were skeletons of a horse, cow, llama, goat, chicken, duck, cat, beaver.... the list goes on!
Cow skeleton
They also had brains and hearts in jars to look at. He was most impressed by a plastic model of a chicken bisection. He kept asking me what the plastic organs were as he took it apart and I guess I need to brush up on my chicken anatomy, because I was struggling! I did my best drawing from my experience gutting chickens as a kid and my knowledge of the human body. I don't think he's ever been so fascinated by anything in his life than that room of skeletons. At home the next day he even drew bones on himself to make himself a skeleton while I wasn't watching:
He was really proud of himself and exclaimed "I colored the bones!"
Anyway, back at pet day, I talked him into leaving the skeleton room so we could see the live animals at the petting zoo. We had to wait 20 minutes for the petting zoo to re-open. While we waited we got to watch a vet student do "surgery" on a stuffed animal.
Quin giving his stuffed elephant a shot
She used tweezers to pull a jolly rancher out of a hole in the elephant's ear and then sutured it up and put a band aid on it. Then we got to take it home! :)
Quin also tried fake fishing. He was really good at reeling in the fishing line. That was all he wanted to do. He didn't want to bother getting the fish on the magnetic hook first.
We finally got in to the petting zoo! I was so excited! I tried to get him to hold a bunny on his lap but he didn't want anything to do with that. He looked at the miniature ponies from a distance and then ran the opposite direction into a field. So the petting zoo was a bust. You never can tell with kids.

So those are the fun things we've done. Here is the cute stuff I have seen them do:

Likes to bang toys together and on stuff.
Favorite toy is an orange prescription bottle that has popcorn seeds in it.
Favorite song is "Midnight City" by M83. I play it in the car when he is fussy and it works like magic to calm him down. Usually.
He loves the dishwasher. He makes a b-line for it whenever it is open and starts unloading it; whether or not it's clean.
He really likes popsicles in spite of the coldness. He is eating all kinds of solid food. Tonight he had some salmon.
New favorite TV show is PJ masks. A bit obnoxious to me, but there are far worse kids shows out there.
Favorite song is "If I Had You" by Adam Lambert.
Refers to techno music as "exercise music"
Made up a song about "old McDonald had a cookie" with a "yum yum here and a yum yum there"
When there are a lot of something he says that there are 40. I showed him the pellets in the pellet stove and he exclaimed "there's 40 pellets!" There were more than 40.
When I went to pick him up from his friend Wesley's house he apparently had a really good time because when he saw me he said "uuuh... no" with the perfect inflection.
Has been expressing himself through his wardrobe lately and only wants to wear a superhero costume with blue rain boots.
His favorite superman costume was dirty, so he said he was "naked superman."

Quin doesn't take naps very often. The only places he naps are the car seat and this red chair when he's watching TV. He sleeps in really awkward positions.

Recently I read "the little red hen" to Quin for the first time. It was one of my favorite books when I was learning how to read. After reading it he wanted to bake a yellow cake, so we did. He helped a lot! He cut the stick of butter in half, poured in the ingredients I measured, and of course, helped me eat it. This is his happy face:
On our way to the car from Ben and Amanda's house Quin tripped on a scooter and fell down a concrete step. It was a pretty fantastic fall. He screamed until he was buckled in and then calmly asked "what is that?" Pointing to his skinned knee. I told him it was a skinned knee just like the letter d in Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. When we got home I put band aids on him and read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. He was delighted to be like patched up "f" and kept saying "I'm patched up Quin!" He really likes his band aids and points them out often. Books are awesome!!!
I got really frustrated and started crying one afternoon when the boys were sick and Ammon wouldn't let me put him down or sleep (turns out he had an ear infection). Quin came and sat by me and said "it's okay momma." and gave me a big hug. While he was hugging me he said "I'll give you a hug if you want." Then he told me to take a calm breath. At that moment I could see why this strategy that I often employ doesn't always work for Quin. I was really frustrated and did not want to take a calm breath. I asked him to show me how because I forgot. He modeled it for me. I copied him and actually did feel a little better, although I still wasn't sure if I would make it to bedtime. I was so impressed by his empathy. He also sometimes gives Ammon hugs when he is crying. If he doesn't give him a hug he'll say something like "the baby is sad." Even today when he saw me crying he said in a concerned voice "are you happy momma?" When I said "no I feel sad" he replied "help momma feel better."
I've really been struggling lately with depression. I've had it since I was a teenager and this is the lowest I've felt in a long time. I think it was triggered by being in a new area and not feeling like I have made strong connections and having to do 11+ hour parenting shifts with Michael's long commute. It's probably my fault that I don't have friends. We've been staying home a lot with the boys being sick, basically since February, with small intervals of being healthy. My parents are in the process of buying a house just East of Lebanon and I'm so excited to have their companionship and support.
On the bright side, we have callings in our ward! Michael is the Second Counselor in the Bishopric and I'm the ward pianist/organist and I accepted the assignment of assistant ward camp director for young womens camp. I'm still learning the ropes on the organ so I've just play the piano in sacrament meeting for now. I  tried to bring the kids with me to practice the organ during the week, but that didn't work. They took turns crying and it was hard to keep Quin from banging on the piano while I was across the room at the organ. Somehow I need to get over to the church more without the kids.

It's been tricky juggling the kids at church since we're both on the stand, but we're lucky that there are a lot of really nice people who step in to watch the kids for us. The first Sunday Jon and Susan came and we were really happy to have them there to take care of the kids. Apparently they had a rough time. Quin colored all over the back of the pew with dry erase marker and Ammon splashed in the sacrament tray. Afterwards Susan said "we're bad at this!" I think they are good at it because they stayed calm and handled the situation well.

This blog post is way too long. I need to stop. Thank you for reading!