Camp-out pics, lemonade stand, and Lydia struggles

On Saturday Abe, his dad, and Ammon returned from their campout. Abe said everyone had a great time, except that next time he will have to find a different site. Apparently the campground they were in is open pasture for cows, and there were enormous cow pies everywhere.

It was hard for him to find a spot to pitch his tent. In the morning, all of the little boys went around hunting for the goopiest, freshest cow pies and played with them. Gross!

But Abe was just happy to have pulled the activity off at all, seeing as he only announced it to the quorum five days ago. I think he’s planning on announcing next year’s campout this week so that everyone has more notice next time. ūüôā

Here are their pictures:

In the meantime, we were at home battling over the harp and everything else with Lydia. I have let her stay up late too often these past couple days because she has been absorbed in her crafts and hasn’t wanted to go to bed. She has been getting progressively more tired, and when Lydia is tired, she kind of sort of drives me absolutely crazy.

I had a great piano practice with Mary, though! She is uninterested in doing crafts herself, and therefore has been extremely well-rested.

Finally, after Abe came home and napped, Lydia agreed to do harp with her dad. He then fulfilled her summer-long daydream and helped her set up a lemonade stand.

Mary is apparently enamored with her dollar.

Then Abe went to pick up groceries. Thank goodness for online ordering! It has saved our lives these past few weeks.

While he was gone, I let the girls play with the neighbors even though they have lost their privileges. Their privileges have been lost since Tuesday, but since some of our neighbors arrived home from a trip today, I made an exception.

I regretted the decision soon after because Eli ran Mary over with his bike while she was dancing in the driveway, and then Lydia refused to come inside. I am not physically able to pick her up and drag her inside, so I was reduced to shouting from my window to both girls to come inside. Eventually, Mary managed to pull herself up off of the grass and come in, and Lydia followed a little after.

I lead them to their room only to discover that during nap time they had made the BIGGEST MESS OF THEIR LIVES. Now, one of the reasons they have lost their privileges is because they keep refusing to clean their messes, and my poor mom is killing herself cleaning up after them. When I saw their room, I completely lost it. The whole floor was covered, I could barely open the door, and there were toys and books EVERYWHERE.

I don’t mind that they make messes! That’s what kids do, but I DO mind when they make messes and expect us all (meaning, lately, my mom) to pick up after them. After I ordered them to pick it all up, I retreated to my room so I wouldn’t completely lose control. (They would probably say that I already lost control, but compared to all the things I wanted to say and do, what I actually did was pretty minimal.)

I stayed enraged for the rest of the night, and even when Abe gave me a massage (he is so amazing), I couldn’t seem to calm down. Maybe it’s pregnancy hormones? At any rate, I think the girls learned their lesson. It took them a loooooong time to clean everything up, and Mary was sobbing the whole time that she was tired and wanted to go to bed. They finally finished around 10pm, at which point they both fell asleep promptly.

You would hope that was the end of the long story, but no. At midnight, just when Abe and I had fallen asleep, Lydia came screaming deliriously into our room, removed her underwear, and peed and enormous amount of pee right next to our bed onto the carpet. In the four years since she potty trained, I can count on one hand the number of accidents she has had. This was so bizarre, and Abe and I were so confused about what was going on. I don’t think she was awake enough to know what she was doing, but it was quite the ending to quite the day with that child!


Father Son campout

On Friday Abe, his dad, and Ammon left for the Father Son campout that Abe organizes yearly for the Elder’s Quorum. I haven’t heard from them since they left in the late afternoon, but I hope they have a terrific time.

We had a great day here at home. Shauna, Abe’s cousin, is staying with us. The morning babysitters have cancelled for the past two days, so Shauna was so helpful in the morning. She put some KT tape on my back, helped with breakfast, and even helped with Lydia’s harp practice while I changed Ammon.

My mom helped with Mary’s piano, which was a great relief. After Lydia’s practice I always feel a little burned out–although she was pretty good yesterday with Shauna there.

While my mom and Mary did piano, Ammon and I came upstairs and to look out the window at Lydia, who was scootering around the cul-de-sac. We spent twenty minutes blowing kisses to her, shouting, “I love you!” and “Hi!! Bye!!” to her. She had the biggest smile on her face and blew¬†us kisses while shouting the same phrases back at us. It was a love fest.

I was grateful for the love fest, because right after she came in to practice reading. Reading is like harp practice for Lydia, only maybe even a little worse. She melts into a puddle on the floor every time she can’t figure something out. Usually, my patience for this is non-existent, but we had just had such a beautiful exchange that I was a LOT more patient, and she recovered a lot more quickly from her frustrations. That was a good lesson to me.

After reading and lunch, I put Ammon down for a nap and finished Lincoln in the Bardo. I loved it.

Then I spent the rest of the afternoon practicing granny squares. I have given up on knitting temporarily because I have no idea how to fix my mistakes. How in the world did I use to knit??? Did I never make any mistakes, or did I just know how to fix my mistakes? At any rate, until I find a great tutorial teaching me how to fix dropped stitches and inexplicable knots, I am sticking with crochet.

The girls played quietly by me while I crocheted the granny squares, and they immediately seized the finished products as blankets for their Little Critters.

In the evening Shauna came back, and she had bought us hat looms and yarn! We spent the rest of the evening loom knitting and chatting.

My mom went to help our friend, Jenny, pack for her move, and when she returned, she brought Jenny with her. Jenny and Shauna immediately hit it off. It was such a delight to hear them discuss everything from their cats to Dr. Who. I knew they would get along the minute Jenny stepped through the door. In the morning, Shauna had shown the kids pictures of her cats. (Ammon meowed at her phone the whole time.) One of the first thing Jenny did was whip out pictures of her cat to show us. It was so fun to witness such a confluence of souls.

goggles and handicrafts

Today was the kids’ last day of swimming lessons with the professionals. My mom, who has been taking them for the last two weeks, bought them goggles and swim caps to celebrate.

This evening Shauna came to visit! She sat with me for hours and talked and taught crochet.

Lydia has been crocheting and French spool knitting all day.
Abe showing us all how to boondoggle.

Joy jumps

On Wednesday Lydia learned how to crochet! She just announced that she loved crocheting, and after I got her started, she took off. It was such a different experience from the day last week when she first tried. She even taught her babysitter how. I was so impressed.

Also, my mom sat down to do harp practice with Lydia, and I learned so much from watching her. She basically whispered the whole time and gave Lydia lots of opportunities to exercise agency. There was no crying and Lydia got through all of her pieces. I tried to take mental notes.

After we put the kids down, Abe and I spent the rest of the evening discussing adoption. We feel really good about it. I had a surge of joy this morning knowing this is the last time I will ever be pregnant.

These are the pictures the babysitter took. It seems no matter how the girls dress in the morning, by the afternoon Lydia has changed into her China dress and Mary has changed into her bird dress.

Cow day

Today Grace, the babysitter, came to her afternoon shift dressed as a cow. She excitedly explained that today was dress-like-a-cow day at Chic Fil A, and that if you dress as a cow you get a free meal. She spent the rest of the afternoon helping the girls assemble cow costumes.

Abe came home SO excited about this. He made his cow costume out of black duck tape that he cut into cow spots. Ammon LOVED wearing his cow costume and spent the whole time in it moo-ing at everyone.

I should have made everyone turn around because I crocheted Lydia’s tail, knit Abe’s tail, and made a giant tassel for Mary’s tail. All of these tails, upon close inspection, were rather scraggly and clearly not well done, but I was SO proud of myself for making them. First of all, a week from last Saturday I did not even know how to crochet, and I just re-taught myself how to knit after a twelve year hiatus TODAY.

My dream of mastering the world of handicrafts is still out of reach. I have absolutely no talent for these arts…but I do have loads of enthusiasm! Maybe that plus practice will yield, if not mastery, then at least some level of competence in this lifetime. I am so, so grateful for this time I get to practice these skils.

Also, the girls were absolutely out of control with Grace today. It was sheer pain to hear them interact with each other and her. I gave into temptation and yelled at them from my chair a couple of times, and I was at my wits’ end by the time Grace went home. They lost their privileges for a week after today. Sometimes–a lot of times–I feel like I must have missed something in the parenting department because the behavior of my kids equals massive-mom-failure.

On the other hand, they played beautifully together while Grace was gone. I sat by the window and listened to them cooperate, giggle, and play for several hours beneath my window. They did make huge messes which they did not clean up, but there was at least one point during the day where they were not absolute terrors. I just wish they could be terrors just for me and spare their wonderful babysitters.

Resolves and Abe’s hard day

This morning my mom took the kids to their morning swim lesson, and they are making progress! I am really, really, REALLY hoping this summer they learn to swim.

While they were at swim lessons, I found this on Lydia’s bed:

She had tucked Puss in before she left for swimming. It warmed my heart to see evidence of her sweet childhood tenderness. On Sunday my heart broke for her when I discovered her sobbing quietly on the floor because I had taken away her privileges unjustly. It was a big misunderstanding, but we cuddled, I read her a personalized book my grandma had made about her, and we cuddled until she felt better. I hope she always knows she is treasured and loved. I spend way too much time correcting her ALL the time, so I am going to try to be better about that.

During Ammon’s nap the babysitters leave for two and a half hours. Today the girls and I spent the whole time together. We listened to¬†Charlotte’s Web while Lydia cross stitched and Mary…watched me do her crafts. I made her two pom-poms, one of which she is displaying below.

I also crocheted two flowers for the girls. Lydia made hers into a ring.

And here’s my new reading pile! I read the Terry Tempest Williams book in the morning and spent the rest of the day squinting at everything.

Finally, Abe had a really hard day at work. One of his deals had a complication that made his life very difficult, and then he came home, made dinner for everyone, got everyone ready for bed, and cleaned Mary’s poop. That’s right. Mary, almost age five, pooped in her pants, and Abe had to clean her up. (My mom helped clean the bathroom that had poo all over it.)

After FHE, Abe told me the idea of African adoption is sounding better and better. I think he might be tired of having me on bedrest too.

Lydia learns cross-stitch and bedrest inventory

Last night Abe and I were up until 1am sitting on our porch in the cool night air talking. The air was silky and cool, and I could smell the petunias by the porch while we chatted. We love how peaceful our cul-de-sac is.

This morning our kids disappointed us by waking up early, even though they went to bed late. That meant we had lots of time for pre-church grooming. I question the holiness of these activities, but I do get to bond with the kids while I do their nails and hair.

While Abe went to a meeting, I watched the kids in Ammon’s room. They were so clean and played so nicely together that I just had to take a picture. In moments like the ones below, I remember how lucky I am to have such fabulous children.

After naps, Lydia learned how to cross-stitch. One of my daydreams is to sew/embroider/knit/crochet/WHATEVER with my kids while we all listen peacefully to audiobooks and music. To this end, I have been trying to teach them various handicrafts. Cross-stitching seems to be the best so far for the girls.

In the evening, Abe colored with the girls. These are their creations. Abe contributed a LOT. “Mary’s” picture of the bed was created 100% by Abe while Mary played next to him.

Also, Lydia made this primitive tool today out of rock, a stick, and yarn. We have no idea what it is supposed to be.

Also, an inventory of sorts for this week of bedrest.

These are some of the books I read. I had to return Code Name Verity¬†and Gilead¬†before taking this picture, and since taking it I have read¬†Black Like Me¬†and finished¬†Joseph Smith: Rough¬†Stone Rolling.¬† That last one took me SIX AND A HALF YEARS to read. I am so exuberant to have finally finished it! (Now onto the Joseph Smith polygamy tomes…)
I also taught myself to crochet and made these two baby blankets. I am stricken with horror at the thought that any baby would unravel them and kill themselves with the yarn, so I am trying to figure out how to make the ends EXTRA EXTRA secure before I give them away.

I have also watched a million how-to YouTube videos on bento box lunches, crochet patterns, sewing patterns, felt balls, and twine how-to’s. I also have researched how to adopt children from Africa because I can not imagine undergoing pregnancy ever again.

Saturday breakfast and hike

This morning we got to spend with Liem and Phuong before they had to go to the airport to catch their flight. Abe made his signature Saturday breakfast: waffles, mixed berry compote, and veggie omelettes.

The wildflowers from Liem and Phuong! Currently i am looking at them on top of my dresser as I type. They are so pretty.

Before Liem and Phuong left, they gifted us their bear spray, which thankfully they did not have to use. Abe immediately had use for it! Not for a bear, of course, but to take hiking with the kids¬†in case they ran into a bear, or mountain lion, or whatever. This bear spray must have good vibes, because Abe didn’t have to use it either.

Lydia packed for the hike as if they were going on a road trip.
Abe was really happy to hike, in spite of the fact that he was up until 2am last night working.

Then Abe came home, fed the kids, put Ammon down for a nap (which he refused to take) and took a nap himself. The girls spent the afternoon playing outside with the neighbors.

As I blog, they are all out on errands. And I will get back to the glorious tasks for bedrest: reading, crocheting, and looking up YouTube tutorials.

Liem and Phuong visit

On Friday morning my mom dropped me off near the nail store at the mall, and the babysitter took the kids to the mall play place while my mom and I got matching pedicures. I can’t reach my toes, and since I sit here staring at them all day, I really enjoyed getting them done.

In the evening Liem and Phuong came to stay with us for a night. We had a great time visiting, and they brought us beautiful flowers they had picked in the Tetons earlier that morning. I stole some pictures of their hike from Phuong’s phone to post on the blog.

These are the gorgeous flowers they picked and brought us!

Lydia and I loved scrolling through their pictures and looking at all of the shots with Liem in his bear head.
We also enjoyed this picture of the moose next to their tent.

Also, Friday was my dear brother’s birthday!!! I can’t believe he’s thirty-two. And next week they find out the gender of their baby…I can’t wait!!

I also have pictures from earlier in the week that I am going to put here because I forget which days they match.

The girls on my bed while I read to them. We are reading Island of the Blue Dolphins.
Ammon being cute.
Ammon during scriptures and prayer before bed. He had been holding up his arms because Abe demonstrated how the prophet Abinidi “stretched forth his hand,” and Ammon imitated Abe. I caught the picture just as Ammon’s arms were coming down.

Nana turns 72!!!

Thursday was Nana’s birthday!! It seemed so appropriate that the night before her birthday, my mom let Mary have a “sleepover” on her bedroom floor. She is so kind, compassionate, and loving. When Abe and I are at our wits’ end (especially with Mary these days), my mom works magic, calms Mary down, and gives in to her craziest whims.

My mom embroidered that beautiful pillow she let Mary sleep on.

My mom is the unsung hero of the house. She is constantly serving everyone. She tidies, cleans, bandages ALL of the kids’ boo-boos, never loses her patience, waits on the kids non-stop, plays with Ammon, and provides a sanctuary for the girls, especially when they are bored, sad, or hurt. They know they can always go to her room and do fun activities, talk–and be listened to!!–, get stickers, read kids’ magazines, and play games.

When Mary is sad, she always cries for Nana. And Nana is the only one who can calm her down. Ammon called my mom “Mama” up until a couple weeks ago, and Lydia adores Nana, as evidenced in the pictures at the bottom of this post.

Sometimes people ask Abe if it is hard to live with his mother-in-law. He always responds that if they knew his mother-in-law, they would know it isn’t hard at all. If it weren’t for the kids’ tantrums and my yelling at the kids in response to their tantrums, we would have a perfectly peaceful, harmonious house.

In addition to doing all of that for us, my mom also works every day on her family history, goes to the temple a lot, exercises regularly, reads her scriptures for hours each morning, volunteers at the family history center, and visits one of her mentally ill visiting teachees¬†daily. She has friends innumerable who call her for comfort with their problems, and she always answers the phone and responds with love and kindness. She is currently in charge of emergency prep for our entire ward, and because she is so persistent and thorough, people are actually getting prepared. Oh, and she does all this with some pretty challenging health issues. She’s amazing.

It’s kind of hard living up to her wonderful example. In fact, I have stopped trying. I mean, my mom NEVER loses her temper, NEVER says unkind things, and NEVER is anything less than charitable and kind. It’s too far out of my league to attempt to follow in her footsteps, but I am so, so grateful she is my mom and leads the way for all of us, every day.

Mary slept through Nana’s birthday celebration. Maybe the excitement of the sleepover the night before did her in.