Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter bow ties

Easter 2011 was one of the latest dates possible for an Easter Sunday, yet I still found myself up in the night finishing off the bow ties. I guess that it's part of the tradition! Ta da:
Eric was on call this weekend, and so I felt it a grand accomplishment to get the kids all decked out and off to church:
And here is the complete ensemble, when Eric joined us later:
 I told them that I would give them each five M&M's if I could take individual pictures of them. They eagerly took the bait.
(Michael is always winking at people, which is adorable. Really he is not trying to be adorable; he's pretending to be a pirate with an eye patch.)
(I literally chased this one down the street to try and catch a smile. He doesn't understand about candy bribes.)
(Max didn't get the M&M's either, poor guy.)

I laughed aloud once when I read this advice on someone's blog: "Stop doing family traditions that you hate." There are some of those, aren't there? There are traditions that I feel like I have to carry on even though they take more time and energy than they're worth. I didn't even give the kids Easter baskets this year or dye eggs (yikes!). But I can't give up Easter bow ties! Going to church in Easter bow ties makes the holiday memorable for me. I think that they enjoy it, too.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wisconsin, you are miserable and bizarre and wonderful

Despite the beginning of baseball season, the coming and going of spring break, and the optimism around town,
spring has not sprung in Wisconsin (at least not in the warm, springy, outdoor-park-going way that I want it to!). Thankfully, the peculiar city Wisconsin Dells is only a short drive away. The main strip, peppered with cement mega-statues (a flamingo, a carousel, a frog, a red high heel, and dozens more!), provides an entertaining excursion by itself.
And what could be more fun than staying overnight in a Coliseum-esque hotel?
You can even sleep under a wall mural of Neptune,
plus spend the next day in the indoor theme park 
and waterpark!
It turns out that running around in a pirate ship was just the getaway to forget the sub-spring temperatures. 
Good times.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Second Annual Rainy Day Regatta

Last year the boys and I had a fun-filled day using recycled and inexpensive craft materials to create some creek-worthy boats, which we sailed that evening. Since Eric was working today and the weather seemed appropriate, I thought it an excellent time to create our 2011 fleet.  

We began at about 8:30 a.m. and--barring a few minor interruptions--worked until 5:30 p.m. The boys sawed, sanded, glued, taped, and decorated with remarkable enthusiasm. Yes, I let my three-year-old use a hot glue gun (and Sharpies!). He was in crafting heaven. 
"Duck Tape Dreamer" and "Lucky Seven" were among the first several boats ready.
 Once we piled them in the wagon, we headed down to the creek,
which, unfortunately, was too low for sailing. The wind was whipping strongly enough that we could send the boats sailing across a neighborhood pond, however, so we set up there. Zachary launched the first raft:
And did those babies fly! It was thirty-eight degrees outside and windy, but we hardly noticed the cold for our excitement. The single casualty was my boat, which succumbed to a high wave on its maiden voyage. (I knew that I had gone heavy on the ballast!) The boys sympathized and tried to think of ways to retrieve it from the pond bottom, the cuties. Maybe we'll paddle out there in the summer and attempt a rescue.
Their more successful boats were across in the pond in a couple minutes, with Zachary's tandem syrup-bottle model setting the record for speed and Jacob's "Water Bottle Wonder" claiming the record for the greatest distance covered. Here's a victory shot:
Until Regatta 2012, then!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring, on the upswing

Last Friday I was overcome with a sudden, debilitating headache. I put baby Max in his crib and had the other kids playing Legos so that I could lie down. As the headache worsened, I began to hear a high-pitched sound, become extremely sensitive to light, and feel an intense pressure unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was in bad shape, and I became worried that I could even care for the boys. Holding my head, I rocked back and forth in bed and worried. 
     Then the doorbell rang. It was, of course, my visiting teacher. "Can I come in so that you can go see a doctor?" she asked. She came right in and stayed until Eric returned from work.* The experience was amazing--that she would come at the moment I needed help and that she would be willing to help--and yet it typifies what our family has experienced during the past three months.
Initially it was all about Max. I was taking him to multiple doctor's appointments each week (five one week!) and spending hours each day managing his pain and tending to his dressings. Keeping his wound "clean and dry" required about 20 diaper changes a day (which all needed to be weighed) and multiple dressing changes. And of course he wanted to be nursed or just held day and night. During this time the Relief Society sisters became our family's guardian angels. Someone was in our home helping on a daily basis for the first two weeks. Since then we've had help during every moment that we've needed it. The cleaning, the child care, the errand-running, the kind words, the prayers--it has all been so tender to us. I've observed service both from our family and friends closest to us and by those who literally introduced themselves at our doorstep. In all of them I see a light, an extension of our Heavenly Father's goodness. And I have been so grateful. These have been tearful weeks, but not for the normal reasons: instead of feeling overwhelmed with a new child, I have felt overcome with an ennobling sense of God's love.   

I feel like the beginning of spring also marked the beginning of our self-reliance in our new family situation. Instead of just getting by, we can even be great! Here are a few happy moments:
1. Jacob won first place in his den for pinewood derby. Studly!
2. I love reading to freshly-bathed boys at night! Here, Jacob reads to Michael, Zachary, and Max (on his lap). 
3. Both Eric's and my dad were able to come for Max's baby blessing, which we held in our home. The boys loved a few days with "the grandpas!" (Also, both Eric's and my moms were able to come out closer to when Max was born, but I don't have pictures! It was a hectic time and I forgot to record it well, but we loved having them just the same!)
4. During Max's blessing I feel like I could envision him as an adult. I have such dreams for him, our little darling.
5. The first "warm" day of spring (it was 43 degrees outside!) the older boys put their swimsuits on and filled up this sled with water. They wanted me to pour it on their heads from the deck, but it overturned when they moved it outside. Silly boys.
6. My sister Kim came and stayed for two weeks, and we soaked up every moment of it. It was so fun  getting around town (and getting things done around the house!) with her around.
7. This was great fun: they tied the rocket car to the police car and barreled down the hill, ramming into the fence only once before I made them put on helmets.
8. Jacob was home from sick for a few days with scarlet fever, the poor guy. I set up math and reading centers to do together, and we had fun playing "school."
9. Baseball season is starting! We've almost got an entire infield now.
10. When I have the energy, I run through a beautiful, wooded trail near our home. Tonight we took the boys on a walk there just as the sun was setting, and it was practically perfect. The walk was perfect. Eric is, the boys are. It all is.

*I ended up being sent from the clinic to the ER, where I had a CAT scan. The scan showed all of my sinuses filled or nearly filled with fluid (this condition is called pansinusitis, which is medical terminology for "awful"). The antibiotics/pain medications are managing it well, and I should be back in shape within the next week.