Thursday, March 31, 2016

A birthday dream come true: a REAL Nascar race

When James found out there was going to be a Nascar race the weekend after T's birthday we knew that tickets to this event would be the PERFECT present to give him. We registered him for a free kid's club called Lefty's and I'm not kidding, he thinks he is a part of the most exclusive club in the country! We also lucked out and Talmage was chosen to be one of only 100 kids that got to meet three famous race car drivers and get their autograph. For T, that was as good as meeting royalty. And as if the day could possibly get better from there, T was also able to play in the Kid Zone for a couple of hours before watching a solid FIVE HOURS of car racing. without moving. or maybe breathing! He scored a whole swag bag full of gear and I let him splurge on a few new die cast cars after the race because as he said, "Mom, at the last minute Austin Dillon won and so I think I really need to get his car so that I can race him at home against my Kyle Busch car--you know, like a rematch!" The logic there was sound so I said what the heck, you might as well throw in a batman car while you're at it!  

James and T were supposed to go to the race together but at the last minute something came up at work so I took Talmage to Fontana while James manned the other kid's activities and got some work done. I know I'm an emotional person anyways, and this pregnancy has made me even more so, but as the black and white checkered flag waved and I saw T's eyes light up as the cars zoomed past the starting line I couldn't help but feel so deeply grateful to be at the race track, to be alive, to be hanging out with my oldest baby and carrying another and to be present enough to realize how much of a gift moments like this really are. OK, and I might have shed a tear or two! Am I the only one that gets emotional at the starting line? Probably. And that's alright!

These race drivers smiling and signing autographs and talking to my boy just about made his day, and mine. I'm always so impressed when people with so much talent are also kind and giving with their time. They didn't have to do this but because they did T felt like a star! Those autographs and his huge race poster are now proudly hung on the wall above his bed. 

All of the fun pictures above are from the Kid's Club. Talmage loved all of the activities (especially the hamster ball) but near the end he was getting concerned that we wouldn't see enough racing because, you know, the race started in like 2 1/2 hours and it hurt him to think he'd miss any of the preliminary fun! So many people worked so hard to make this place magical for kids, and it worked!  

T and that race track. See the empty seats? Yeah, we were that early!!!

T really wanted Kyle Busch to win, and for 149 1/2 laps of the 150 lap race he was in 1st place. And then wouldn't you believe it, straight out of the movie Cars, Kyle got a flat tire and came in 2nd to Austin Dillon on the VERY LAST TURN. It all happened so fast and yet it seemed like slow motion because I was so concerned that this would ruin T's whole race experience (I mean, look at that kid's sign!) But of course it didn't, that kid is Captain Sunshine! He loved the drama of it all and was so excited to get new cars from the top three and race them on his Hot Wheel track.

You can see this kid's focus on the back of his head! This was my view for FIVE WHOLE HOURS. Yes, T did not move from that spot for the whole race and most of the preliminaries. I knew he was really into it when popcorn, ice cream and cotton candy salesmen walked right by his face and he didn't flinch. I literally had to hand-feed him his lunch because he wouldn't take his eyes off the track. Mr. T is almost never still so this moment was one for the books (and maybe one I'd like to recreate!)

After the race James had a little more work to do so I picked up Ever Knight and we went to 7-11 for the BYOC (bring your own cup) event. A HUGE bowl of slurpee was like $1, how could we pass that up? T told Ever all about the race, Ever told T all about his baseball game and Easter egg hunt, and I told both of them to stop hogging the slurpee. I mean, I told them I love them! ;)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A leprechaun friend named Giggles McGhee

We've never had a leprechaun visit our home before but Talmage came home from school the day before St. Patty's holiday full of excitement about the leprechaun trap he was going to make to catch a real-life leprechaun that he knew would come visit that night. Gulp. So he worked all afternoon making the best darn trap a 7-year-old can muster (and with no help from his tired and pregnant mama) and that night in the middle of the living room the trap was carefully assembled and T warned his siblings that they were to go straight to bed so that our home's leprechaun would fall for his trick. It was about this time that I was praising said leprechaun because those kids went to sleep without so much as a peep!!! 

You would not believe it (I know James sure couldn't!), our very own leprechaun named Giggles McGhee DID show up in the middle of the night and although the trap didn't catch him for good, he decided to leave a little treat for the children and a teeny tiny note wishing them well. You know, magic like this is so short-lived and I'm glad that Giggles McGhee made my boys sparkle with glee that morning. I didn't get a picture of the trap laid out or the green glitter Giggles left all around, and although my friend Melissa and I had a wonderfully green picnic during baseball practice my evidence of that is lacking, but here are a few quick snap shots from the day:

Happy St. Patrick's Day. It sure was a good one!!!

Jedi Training

The day after T turned 7 we had our eyes set on Disneyland to celebrate that awesome boy of ours. Daddy didn't have to work and we had no sports games tying us to West LA so off we went, happy as ever to be visiting one of our favorite places. All Disney days are pretty magical, but I must admit that getting two miracle stand-by tickets for Jedi Training took this day right over the top! We've wanted to do Jedi Training for awhile but never got around to it and this day when we went to sign up they were already sold out FOR THE WHOLE DAY. Gosh, I was bummed. They put us on the standby list for the show starting in just a few minutes and as luck would have it two little friends didn't show up meaning there was room for my two little friends! The boys were SO over the top excited and it was so fun to watch them.  

Learning lightsaber skills from Jedi Masters in the Amphitheater. T has the purple saber, Ever has the green.

After learning some skills, each child was able to go one on one with Darth Vader. Ever was a little nervous (and I don't blame him, Darth Vader was like 7 foot tall) but both boys went up and fought him and it was just more ridiculously cute than words can say.

Both boys agreed that this was their very favorite part of Disneyland that day--and how could it not have been? Disney has a way of making everything over-the-top awesome.

Talmage had some birthday money from Aunt Ash and he knew just what he wanted--a red lightsaber. Choosing just the right one was difficult (who knew there were so many options?) but he finally decided the red retractable was his dream come true. As you can see Everett conned us into getting him a lightsaber as well, green just like Yoda. And if I'm being honest I'll tell you that I conned him into riding three new scary rides in exchange for said saber. Win/Win. The real win would be if those two Jedi would stop pegging their sisters with their lightsabers. 

And this tree! There was no way I could finish this post without including a picture of the most stunning part of my day. I couldn't get over how radiant this tree looked full of fuchsia blossoms. Spring is for sure my jam.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Birthday Interview: 7-year-old T Edition

On the eve of my biggest baby's 7th birthday the weatherman said that rain was on the menu for his big day. I thought little of it since El Nino has been rather disappointing in Southern California (and does anyone in LA actually believe the weather report ever because it is almost never right?) but sure enough, the heavens opened right as we were walking home from school and sheets of rain feel from the sky for hours. It's rather fitting actually. On his 5th and 6th birthdays, both celebrated during freezing weeks in NYC, the clouds parted and the sun shone brightly. We ran around that city celebrating that warmth and that boy. This year the week leading up to his 7th birthday was typical LA sunny in the 70's, and then came his birthday with hail and clouds and flooding galore. There's gotta be a deeper meaning in this, don't you think? That Talmage Scott is so spectacular, so one-of-a-kind, so starving for adventure that even Mother Nature celebrates him by new, fun and wild weather, regardless of where he's celebrating. We came home from school and decided that our afternoon birthday adventures would be replaced by treats and new toys and it was such a special time to share with our handsome and newly minted 7-year-old. Luckily the monsoon passed in time for a celebratory dinner at his restaurant of choice, Soup Plantation, and then it was home for oreo cake, oreo ice cream, and a family movie night. 

There are so many things to love about T, but something I deeply appreciate about him lately is how grateful he is for the things he is given. He never takes gifts for granted and he mentions how thankful he is over and over and over again. It makes giving him things SO much fun because I just know his reaction is going to be priceless. This year instead of big parties we are celebrating with fun experiences for the kids. We ended up getting Talmage tickets to a Nascar race at a track outside of Los Angeles and you should have heard his excitement (it actually makes me a little teary!) We gave him a Nascar hot wheel, a Nascar hat, tickets to the race and signed him up for a kid's club and an autograph session. The race is tomorrow (and I'm sure a post sometime after that) but I can't even describe how excited he is. He's pretty sure that the Nascar race will be the best day of his life, "Although Mom, it might be tied with my 7th birthday because it really was the greatest day EVER!" I love that birthday boy with all my heart and I seriously can't be more grateful that he's my biggest boy! 

Look Mom! Thumbs up because I'm 7!!!

What is your favorite...

Color: Yellow
Food: Macaroni and cheese, I mean, no, um, ice cream! Did you write ice cream? Yay!
Game: Baseball
Book: Ummm, Hardy Boys. 
Toy: My new Nerf gun I got. 
Treat: What do you mean treat, like candy? Oreos!
Song: The Killers, all of them.
Thing to learn about: Science, I mean the Solar System
Animal: Cheetah
TV show:  Can it be a movie? Star Wars!
Thing to wear: Hm, what's my favorite thing to wear? A t-shirt.
Holiday: Christmas...and my birthday.

What do you want to be when you grow up? An Inventor. I want to invent something that can go at the speed of light. I also want to be a famous Nascar driver. 
If someone was being mean to your brother or sister, what would you do? I would tell on them. Oh wait, just kidding. Ok, yes, I would tell on them.

Who is your best friend? Aiden.
What is something you want to learn to do this year? I want to learn how to do division better. I can do it, but I'm not super good at it yet. I do know one problem, four divided by two is two.

What is something that you are really good at? Um...I'm really good at, I'm really good at, hm, what am I good at? Doing math!
If you had a million dollars, what would you buy? A bunch of nerf guns.

If you were an animal, what would you be? A cheetah, because I like to run fast.
What do you want someone to invent? A nerf gun that wherever you say you want to aim it aims at and shoots perfectly at the target.

If you could have a magic power, what would it be? Running really fast like The Flash.
How many kids do you want to have when you grow up and get married? 23! (laughs) Because I want to be like, "Hey Henry, go take out the trash! Hey Maisen, go water the plants! Hey Aiden, go put the pillows on the couch! Hey Matthew, go decorate! Hey Maddie, go get the baby out of bed!" 

What kind of house would you like to live in: an igloo, a tree house, a castle, a cave, or our house? A tree house, a big one. 
Who is the prettiest girl in the whole world? My Mom.

Where do you want to go on your mission? Hm, Hawaii. I mean, no not Hawaii. Ukraine!
What's your favorite scripture story? Nephi builds the ship, and the brass plates of course.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Eating my words (and a snow cone)

The day before my Ever Knight was set to take a field trip to the LA Zoo I got an email from his teacher asking me if I'd like her to pre-order an adult ticket for me. Uhhhh....well.....I hadn't planned on going because didn't I just write about my new one field trip policy? But alas, she said she'd like me to go (and she also said I could bring Quinn as my plus one) so that is the very short version of how just a couple weeks after setting my field trip rules I am already eating my field trip words. Turns out they're terribly delicious!

Being at the Zoo with my youngest two (and a half) was such a delight. Ever had his map and set out to see the giraffe's and after seeing just about every other animal in the zoo (and back-tracking maybe five thousand times) we finally saw them! Quinn growled at them, as she did every other animal, and made all the preschoolers giggle themselves into a fit. We saw a black bear and monkeys and flamingos and an anteater, but Ever's favorite animal by far was Reggie the Alligator who came to the zoo in quite an interesting manner. Let's let Ever Knight tell us about that:

"So dere was dis guy and he wanted a pet so he went to da store and said, "Hmm...I don't want a dog, I don't want a cat. I know! I want an awigator!" So he bought one and named it Weggie. But den one day Weggie snapped at him and he thought, "Maybe this was not a good idea." So he took him to a pawk and put him in da lake. But do you think dat was vewy good? No! So someone called the zoo and they came and picked up Weggie. And you know what? Dat guy had to pay a wot of money for the mistake he made! So what we wearned here is dat awigators DO NOT make good pets!"

Ever's story-telling skills are top notch, and I admit I chuckled like a 7th grader every time he said Weggie! So, now that I've been to back-to-back field trips all bets are off. Maybe just plan on seeing many a field trip post in the future!

The benefit of having your Mom come on the field trip is when everyone else is getting on the bus you can sneak off for a snow cone and one last glance at the birds before jumping in the van for a smooth ride home. Lime and cherry for the win on that snow cone!

Ever's cute class and another pre-k class from his school.

Quinny was a blast to have along and as always loved to be hanging with the big kids. She's such an adventurer and I love to watch her explore.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Girls Weekend/ Boys Weekend

My Mom threw a baby shower for my sister-in-law Meghan and I had been planning for months to take a girls weekend to Sacramento to help her and also celebrate Meghan and my newest nephew-to-be. Then our house flooded, James' work revved up, baseball season started and both James and I were questioning how we were going to make it work. After a week of ups and downs, and at the very last second, Quinny and I ended up jumping on our scheduled flight and heading to Mema and Pepa's house. The flight was a nightmare with my busy baby and the uncertainty about whether or not I'd make it to the shower made me not quite as helpful, but I'd say the weekend was a total success! My Mom's shower skills are unmatched so it was a fabulous party, Meghan was spoiled rotten--as it should be, and I had the best time soaking up some almost alone time with my parents. Not to mention Quinny spent time with Papa and GG who let her put on every piece of costume jewelry they own, let her eat anything that looked delicious in their pantry and took her to see Great Papa in his new Memory Care facility. I think I love Sacramento more and more the older I get, and it all has to do with the most wonderful people who live there.

While Quinny and I had our girls weekend, the boys had a weekend with Dad filled with one adventure after another. James managed the pancake breakfast, fundraising booths, little league opening day and new-player parade like an all-star and even sent me picture updates along the way, knowing that it was killing me not to be celebrating the boys on their special Saturday. The baseball adventures were just the beginning of the excitement however, James also took them to see a movie, on nature walks, out to fun dinners and even better desserts. As he would recap each day with me on the phone at night it was perfectly clear that 1. James is the greatest Dad 2. Those boys weren't missing me at all and 3. Us girls might be slowing the boys down sometimes! I am so grateful that James made it possible for me to be away, it really was a fabulous weekend.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Slow Leak from Haides

For two weeks in February us little Wigs found ourselves calling a hotel on Wilshire home after an angry after-church note from a downstairs neighbor revealed a massive pipe leak in the kitchen. What she thought was soda spilled through the kitchen vent was actually dark sludge coming from the hot water valve en route to our dishwasher (and instead finding wide open spaces to explore in both of our walls, cabinets, floor, ceilings, etc). The restoration team was in our apartment early the next day letting me know that this little leak made a big name for himself and that we were to be displaced immediately for an unknown amount of time--probably about three days. Well, as is nearly always the case, three days turned into a week and then into two, and when we finally moved back into our apartment we still spent a few more days with workers coming in and out, re-installing appliances and cabinets and countertops and such. Just now, about a week after we moved back in, things seem to have settled down on the home front and I don't expect or fear that there will be a buzz on my door every time I turn around. Now I'm just expecting and fearing calls from the insurance companies. I think I'll take the construction workers back!

Our hotel was nice and there was a kitchen which was a MAJOR plus since Quinny still requires morning and evening bottles of warm milk. There was one sleeping room where all five of us rested our heads, but there was also a sitting room where James and I could work after the littles were in bed for the night. There was also a pool, and since February in Los Angeles is my BFF it was warm enough for the kids to swim a few times and feel like they were on a staycation. But the thing was we weren't on vacation, and trying to balance our normal busy schedules while being out of our normal atmosphere was jarring for the kids and exhausting for me. Every Friday a friend walks Talmage home and since I didn't want to mess up anyone's routine I would just drive back to our apartment and pick the kids up from carpool there. The first Friday I met T on the normal corner and as soon as he saw me he screamed in a shrill voice I didn't recognize, "WHERE WERE YOU?" and then melted into my arms in angry, anxious and relieved sobs. At first I was confused because he knows that Friday's are her pick-up days, but living in the hotel had him convinced that I wouldn't remember him, that I wouldn't be at home to meet him, and that I should have come to the school. Heart-breaking doesn't come close to describing my feelings in that moment. There were other hiccups along the way, forgotten jerseys and wrong shoes, no clean socks, no scissors or pencils for homework and no packed lunch, and even though these are all small things they feel awfully big to a couple of kids who lacked control. Luckily we made it through the two weeks and are oh-so-happy to be back home--and isn't that funny? We haven't been crazy about this apartment since the day we moved in, but kick us out for a couple of weeks and it still felt nice to be back.

This month has been a rough road for me. I'm usually such an open person but my wild pregnancy hormones and a string of bad luck has left me rather withdrawn and feeling ever so private. The stories I could tell about the last six weeks or so, they're something all right. This morning as I waited to attend traffic court for a parking ticket (a sad story for another day) my anxiety levels were so high that I found myself taking deep breaths, saying silent prayers and wishing I could retreat to my bedroom to hide under the covers. But then I heard that same voice that comes whenever life feels out of balance whisper to me, "Write your words." I grabbed my computer, desperate for some relief, and as simple stories flowed from my fingertips the sadness swept away from my soul. The stories I tell are not elaborate, sometimes they're not all that exciting and I'm aware that they're probably not all that unique--but they belong to my memory and I cherish each one.  Tonight as I sit here continuing to write I'm feeling grateful for that subtle whisper, for this blog, and for peace.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Toddler Trailblazer

A few weeks ago as I was chasing Quinn up and down staircases, circling wide halls around the outdoor courtyard, and trying to remind her to use her "super quiet feet" on the noisy gymnasium floor; all, mind you, while we were supposed to be worshipping in Sacrament Meeting; an amused onlooker from another ward said, "Your baby girl reminds me of a quote I once heard--Don't go where the path may lead, go where there is no path and leave a trail." I laughed and thought that might just be the most fitting quote for my little lady's life. She is fiercely independent and when she walks away from me at church or the park or in a busy mall she doesn't look back to make sure I am close and she is safe, she has the confidence in herself to keep on going where ever her heart may lead. This is both scary and beautiful, right?

It's been through watching Quinn walk away recently that caused me to analyze and get to know myself a little better. You see, for being such an independent little thang Quinny has shed a few tears lately when I drop her off at gym daycare. I really couldn't figure it out because she IS NOT a mama's girl in the slightest and when I come to pick her up an hour later she usually doesn't even want to come with me. But those tears at drop-off, darn those heart-braking tears at drop-off. It was about 20 minutes into my workout one day last week that I realized in a A-HA moment that Quinn is a leaver, not a leavee, a trait my baby girl certainly inherited from her Mama. Quinn and I both want to go on adventures and have the confidence and strength to say goodbye when we choose to do so, but heaven forbid someone try to leave us with a goodbye, we straight up become a puddle of tears on the floor. It's so interesting to learn more about yourself while learning more about your children, and also realizing that your children are the way they are because they are so much of you.

Today we went to the park and a man came up to my group of friends and asked, "Does anyone know who that little girl belongs to? She's been playing by herself for a long time." Of course the little girl was Quinn (I had been watching her like a hawk the whole time, no worries) and of course when I went to play with her so that man didn't think me a momma-slob Quinn quickly ran to the other side of the playground so she could continue her independent games. By contrast, when Daddy is around she cries and whines at his feet until he holds her the entire time...usually her head rests on his shoulder!

She loves to set up little action figure scenes on our TV stand and play with them. I'm always shocked at how big she's getting, how smart she is and how much she understands.

And no matter how girly I dress her, by the end of the day she's usually dirty-faced and wearing a hat.

Last week Quinn was playing a peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek hybrid with her brothers and went from giggling to screaming in two seconds when she hit her head on the window ledge. She came out of my bedroom and I literally screamed when I saw her because her eye was SO swollen. It's a miracle that it didn't split open, but as it was she's had quite the shiner ever since. Ten bucks says this girl visits the ER more than either of her big bros ever did (and that's saying something!!!)

Dropping off Ever at preschool is never complete unless Quinn can sit herself up and have breakfast with his friends. Luckily the kids are all sweet and his teachers are saints because they encourage her to be a part of his school experience. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this girl would go to preschool in a heartbeat if I let her!

Quinn is now a forward-facing baby girl! Right now all three little ones sit in the middle row because they like to be squished together, but when littlest sister comes the boys will be kicked to the back. How in the world am I old (or lucky) enough to have FOUR children!!!