Sunday, October 23, 2016

Life lately

Disclaimer: I'm writing this post on my phone as John is out of town and has our computer. Sorry about any errors!

Last week John went to DC and right now he is in Vancouver, BC and while there are definitely down sides (lots!) of having him gone, there are a few upsides. 1) I get a lot done after the kids are in bed (I'll elaborate later) and 2) the service people have given our family has been amazing. My visiting teachers brought dinner (3 times!) because John was gone and Peter had his tonsils/adenoids removed. Then my amazing visiting teaching companion and her husband sat with us today during sacrament meeting which was perfect because I spent most of the meeting in the halls with one or both of the little boys and it was reassuring to know my older ones were in good hands and not doing somersaults in the pews!

Back to the night time productivity...I just took an online intro to hand lettering course(so fun!) and have been working on the projects I'm going to teach for our Ward's Super Saturday next month. I also started an Instagram account to record these things I make (@janice.creates) Having a creative outlet has been very fulfilling and I am enjoying the process of learning something new.

I also applied and was hired to do some freelance writing for a local publication. Ann Arbor Family Magazine. Turns out the editor who hired me is a member of the church too. One of the writing samples I sent her was an edited version of what I posted on this blog about our experience helping Syrian refugees in our area. I thought I had edited to remove the Mormon context/words, but I guess I forgot one because during our phone interview she said, "So you wrote "ward", what ward are you in?" Oops. I don't think that's why I was hired, she says it's because I wrote for another similar publication and really understand the target audience. That refers to the reviews I used to write for Washington Family Magazine back in Maryland. When I was making my resume to submit I looked up that magazine and my reviews are still available online! The first article she wants me to do is on refugees in our community and I'm contacting a local organization our church worked with. I watched a video on their website and once again was struck by the magnitude of their plight. I hope I can meet with some local refugee families and tell their stories.

Other than those two big projects I've been trying to figure out how to best understand and meet the needs of each of my children. This is a continuous process.  Lately bed time has been the craziest time and my least favorite part of the day. During church today I was thinking about it and praying for direction on what I can do differently to help bed time be better.  Then tonight when I was putting Peter down (one of the worst bedtime offenders) I had the thought (ie- inspiration!) to give him more autonomy. Instead of standing beside him as he gets his last drink, brushes his teeth, etc. I told him to do those things and I'd be right in to pray with him. It worked so well for him! He did those tasks alone without complaint and then we prayed and he sang with me as I left the room. It was the easiest Peter tuck in I've had in a long time!  (We won't dwell too long on Joanna's tuck in tonight which consisted of her crying in my bed for 30 minutes before zonking out with a baby lock on the door because she didn't want to go to bed and she did want more gummy bears (which she didn't earn). You win some, you loose some.)

That is entirely enough about me for one post! Now on to the rest of the family...

Scott is using walking as his main mode of transportation these days. He can stand himself up when he falls down and really gets to where he wants to go.  He knows where the sandbox in our courtyard is and usually makes a beeline for it when outside although he can be detoured by a good stick on the ground. Here's a peek at him getting around outside: (I'm not sure how to embed it from my phone so it's just a link for now)

Peter had his tonsils and adenoids removed a week ago from last Friday. I am glad we are getting past the recovery part of this. Surgery is hard and seeing your kid go through it is also hard. Wednesday Peter decided he no longer wanted to take liquid medicine and even resisted my trick of mixing it into ice cream. (Did he somehow know?!) I had the thought (inspiration again I tell you!) to try chewable Tylenol and that has saved the day. Yes, I have been calling them his "candy" but in this situation it is whatever works! He is slowly weaning off of medicine now.

These pictures were of surgery day, after Peter had some medicine to relax him before they took him back. That stuff was amazing. He went from not smiling or talking to laughing and playing in less than 10 minutes.

Yesterday was cold and windy and it reminded me that winter is coming and that made me a bit sad and slightly panicky. Long, cold Michigan winters are hard, especially with two little boys who love (and do so well with) daily time outside. Thinking of our indoor weather induced confinement that will surely come is daunting. But then today was a perfect fall day: sunny with highs in the upper 60s!  We took full advantage and went to Parker Mill for a walk after Scott's nap. The mill is actually open Sunday afternoons so we got to see inside and learn a little from the guides which we had never done before.

We also walked the trails and threw leaves in the river. An older couple was walking behind us for a while and when the kids stopped to spread corn meal from the mill around for the birds the wife came and talked to me. Turns out they had 5 kids, two girls then three boys, all in 7 years. She said watching our family brought back memories of when her kids were little. She was so kind. I always appreciate a kind word when I am out with the kids, those kind words mean a great deal to me and offset the less than supportive looks we also get.

I learned tonight that letting the kids roll down the hill in their church clothes probably wasn't the best idea. I'm going to try bleach on all their white shirts in the morning.

This week Joanna's neighborhood preschool went on a field trip to a park close by. We took the kids on a walk, ate a picnic lunch and threw sticks into the river.

They made a little line and marched themselves through the butterfly garden.

These stairs lead to the top of a tunnel slide. There was no keeping Scott off of that slide. As soon as he got off the bottom he was crawling to the top, cutting the line and going down again!

I love fall and the changing colors and crisp air!

And we'll end this crazy long post (remember John isn't around for me to talk to so I need some form of connection with the outside world:)) with a preview picture of Joanna in her Halloween costume. So far we have plans to have a Shiftry (it's a Pokémon, don't worry, i didn't know that either), a pioneer, a pug puppy (very specific!), a super hero or an elephant and possibly a lion (if it fits) in our family.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Preschool times

It is interesting how life changes with the ages of children at home.  With Isaac and Amy at school all day the main activities the little ones and I do at home are more likely to be play dough and puzzles rather than something more geared for the big kids.

Joanna attends a local Lutheran preschool on Wednesday Friday morning.  A few weeks after her school started a group of moms in the neighborhood organized a coop preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  After debating I decided (and the other moms graciously agreed) to have Joanna be part of the coop on Tuesdays.  The three days seems to be a good balance and mix, one day with her neighborhood buddies and two days of structured school away from home.

So now our daily schedule is something like this:
Monday: institute
Tuesday: Joanna coop preschool/ Mom and the boys library story time/ward Morning Out
Wednesday: Joanna St. Paul preschool/Mom and the boys play and grocery store
Thursday: help with English conversation group
Friday: Joanna St. Paul preschool/Mom and the boys play or errands

Another little boy from church goes to the same preschool so we have started carpooling.  His mom takes them in the morning and I pick up at 11:45.  It has worked quite well because Scott is usually napping during the morning drop off time.

With Joanna's preschool we went to an apple orchard this week and participated in the school fun run last week (where we got drenched as it started to rain at the end).

Scott loves apples but he has a hard time eating them unless someone takes a few bites out of it first.  He sure worked hard on this one!

All ready to run.

Can you spot Joanna and her friend Aubrielle running together? They did at least one whole lap holding hands.  She let me run a lap with her and then told me she didn't really need me to run with her.

After the fun run we stayed and played for the last 45 minutes of class.  Peter loved it and wants to go to Joanna's school again!

While the others were at school the little boys and I went on a hike in the woods one morning.  Scott was not interested in staying on the path.  I would try to hold his hand and have him walk but he would just veer off and try to get to the sticks and leaves along the path.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

He walks! (Or at least he tries to)

Here's a wobbly video of Scott from this evening when he decided that trying to walk would be fun.  We all thought so too.  If you don't get sea sick watching it I think you'll laugh.  (Video credit: Isaac Richardson)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy first birthday!

Today Scott turns one! Mostly it feels like the past year has passed quickly.  But it also seems like Scott can't possibly be one yet, he's still so little.  He has his check up tomorrow, I'll have to add his weight and height later.

Fun facts about Scott at one:
-He cruises around on everything, even grabbing ahold of his siblings clothes and walking around with them.  Sometimes he grabs my legs and walks circles around me.  He loves push toys or anything he can push and walk with.
-He climbs! He can go up stairs, this little play structure (both the slide and the stair sides)

-He learned how to go down stairs! A week or so ago I went to the Hands on Museum with the little boys and Scott loved the many stairs in the preschool room.  I kept saying to him, "turn around" when he was at the top and it started to stick.  Now we say it to him if needed and he turns himself around and goes down the stairs.  He likes to go up, then down, then up, then down.  We have taught the older kids to just walk behind him but not to touch him when he is on the stairs.
-Scott also respond to "get it out of your mouth" and will usually spit out whatever is in his mouth when I say that.  I say it when I can tell he is chewing on something he shouldn't.
-Scott would love nursery and enjoys going during institute and a conversation group I help with.  6 more months until nursery at church!

-Scott eats just about everything, I haven't done much baby food with him simply because of time. It is much more efficient to just give him what we eat, cut smaller and he does just fine with it. As of last Sunday he is weaned and drinks whole milk or soy milk from a sippy cup.
-He sleeps though the night and shares a room with Joanna and Amy.
-He gives "high 5s" and loves them! After doing high 5s, when we stop, he starts giving them to himself, which is similar to clapping, but a little more deliberate. 
-Scott loves to be outside and will cry if the door is closed before he can make it out. (Like when the big kids head to school, etc.)

Tonight we invited many in our courtyard to come join us for cupcakes to celebrate Scott's birthday.  It was so fun to see all of our neighbors there!  Scott took a little while to warm up to the cupcake, but then he ate it.  My neighbor Aya took pictures and I will update when she send them to me.
Our sweet Asian friends each gave Scott a present (even though I had stated no presents on the invitation.) (Fee Fee told me that in China the first birthday is a big deal!)  Aya's family gave Scott a Thomas the Tank Engine sippy cup, Sooah's family gave him a Target gift card and Sooah and her brother Gil each made a card for Scott, and Fee Fee and Chen Chen gave Scott a little stuffed panda bear (because they are from China!)  It was so sweet of them all. After eating cupcakes the kids had bike and running races around the courtyard.  I am really grateful for the great neighbors we have and I love seeing these little kids play together!
At Scott's party were people from the US, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Japan, and China.

One funny story: When we were handing out the invitations the other afternoon one mom asked me if Scott would get his own cupcake.  I said yes and she asked if it would be his first sugar.  Um, no. I told her that he hasn't had his own piece of cake before, so I guess that's it. Maybe the difference between a fifth child and a first since she only has one.  I would say I have been less worried about Scott's eating (ex: not worrying about giving him much pureed baby food). 

Kensington Metropark

At the beginning of the summer I made a list with the help of a Michigan travel book of places I wanted to take the kids to this summer.  Then we got into a routine and didn't end up taking many of the elaborate field trips I had listed.  I'm not sad about it, but as the last week of summer came I felt we at least needed to cross one more off the list and so off to Kensington we went.  It's about a half hour drive. Isaac had gone on a field trip in 1st grade there so he passed enthusiasm on to his siblings.

We went to the nature center first and after unbuckling the boys I was planning on getting the stroller out of the back of the car.  But when I walked around the car I was met by two large cranes who were after the cracker crumbs I had thrown out of Scott's car seat as I was getting him out.  The stroller was quickly forgotten and we ran to the nature center with the cranes hot on our heals.  They were not intimidated by humans at all!  I tried yelling loudly to scare them off but I think I mostly just scared the kids.  Oops.

Later as we went for a hike on the boardwalk we met the cranes again.  They actually blocked the way we needed to go to we jumped and screamed to get them to back up.  They began making loud squawking noises at us, but also started backing up.  We carried on until we reached a larger part of the boardwalk where we were able to scoot past them and run!  I'm sure we were not in danger, but it did get our hearts pumping!

We also visited the farm center and a play ground before heading home.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

First Days

The three oldest have begun a new year of school; we have a 3rd, 1st and preschooler.

One week in (well, two for Joanna but she only goes twice a week) and they all want to keep going so that's good.  I on the other hand am still adjusting to not being the main adult in their lives on a daily basis.  At the beginning of each school year I get renewed desires to move to a rural farm and raise my chickens and children on the land. Ha!

Lost summer pictures

Isaac went to Camp 911 and learned all about first aid.  A highlight was riding in a moving firetruck.

Our neighbors, the Wilson's, moved away.  I have learned a great deal watching them parent their who boys, Joseph and Andrew who has special needs.

We got new neighbors, the Otte's, and they are wonderful.  Their two boys, Jack and Tommy have became fast friends with our kids and their little girl and Scott will become friends as they get bigger.

Rode the blue bus to the Natural History Museum.

I made a flower garden out of a pallet I found beside the dumpster.  It was a fun project and I love the bright flowers the kids picked out.

Our dear friends the Saitos visited from San Francisco.  It was Emi's birthday so we got to have a mini birthday party with her too. 

Kenichi meeting Scott for the first time.

A hot day led us to go to the church and play with balls, make a gaga pit with tables, and shoot things across the gym with our homemade sling shot.

Hiking around Ford Lake.

HAving friends over for dinner and popsicles after.  Annie and Amy are two days apart.

Puddle jumping on a warm, rainy day.

Sunday walk at Gallup Park

Scott is a climber! He climbed himself up onto this toy in the courtyard.

We found this air hockey table at the dumpster and while it lacks the piece to actually blow air, we have a air puck and paddles and the kids have enjoyed playing with the table.  It makes it seem so official or something.