Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dallin Dishes

Dallin with is perfectly gorgeous black eye and his favorite treat--popsicles!
I feel guilt every time I think of this blog cause I am not doing a great job keeping up on it, but today Dallin was being...well, Dallin and I decided I better etch some memories in stone--or at least online. 

Dallin George (sometimes known as just George) is definitely advanced and I say this not to brag, but to commiserate with the other Mother's of not quite two-year-olds who also have advanced children who hit the 'terrible twos' months before their time. Lucky for him, he is flippin' adorable. Every Mom of an almost two year old boy knows about the CONSTANTLY moving little bodies. Just a quick recap of some his most recent exploits: There was the time he pitched a brand new tube of toothpaste into the toilet (the toilet had been fairly recently cleaned and I washed it off so what my family doesn't know can't hurt em right?), plastering ( think drowned-rat-style) his head with hair gel two minutes before we need to leave the house, eating a tube of his brother's mountain dew flavored chapstick (yuck!), rubbing his dad's deodorant under his eyes and lets not forget the time I found a thermometer jammed into the one electric outlet that didn't have a baby-proof cap! Some of his newest favorite tricks have been tasting something---thoughtfully chewing it into a warm mash of mess and then when you are unaware he holds out his hand and says cheerfully, "Here you go!" and deposits the mess of warm chewed up food into your trusting hand. He does it with such a sunny smile it's terribly hard to scold him. For all I know he thinks he has just saved us time chewing up the bit he wants to share with us.
No! We don't want your chewed up food....put it back!

I do recognize though that Dallin is simply trying to figure stuff out in the world so we are generally quite patient with him and I am willing to adapt to keep him safe. I have learned to simply put my makeup on with one foot firmly planted on the toilet lid so he can't play in the toilet (hmm...it's may explain why my right leg is so much more flexible).  and have figured out the lock feature on the dishwasher that even though it's a pain (says hold three seconds, but it's more like 10!) it has save me from a  lot of frustration as his dear little self is constantly happy to start the dishwasher...anytime for any occasion.

My favorite things about Dallin's stage right now is his talking. He of course has 'here you go!' down rather well. He also loves to say 'Hi!' and he says it so enthusiastically you would think he hadn't seen you for years. I love coming home from teaching class cause he runs in saying, "hi, hi, hi!" One thing that is endearing but sad too is that he has never said Mama---it's always been Mom. He enunciates the last 'm' really hard. MoM! So in the morning when he can hear someone moving about the house he will shout a cheery "hi!" through the door. If no one responds he begin to yell out, "Mom! Mom! Hi! Mom!" It's hilarious. The thing he is most famous for saying is 'Yeah' which in weeks recent has turned into 'Yep' (with again a strong enunciation on the 'p'.) I am thrilled and still surprised that he has not picked up on the word no. He certainly hears it enough, but I have NEVER (knock on wood) heard him say no. How did we get so lucky and am I praising the good Lord too soon? For now anyway, he is just this little cheerful positive man. Here is what a daily conversation like Dallin is like:
Mom: Are you ready for lunch?
Dallin: Yep!
Mom: Should we make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
Dallin: Yep!
Mom: All right!
Dallin: Ai Ite! (all right roughly translated)
Mom: Here you go!
Dallin: Ere go!
Mom: Is it tasty?
Dallin: Yep!

One of the other tricks he getting rather good at which hopefully will make potty training easier is announcing a 'poop'. Once when he felt like I hadn't heard him announce his accomplishment he stuck his hand down the back of his diaper and then came to me waving his hand yelling 'Poop! Poop!" Lovely.

He loves music and especially singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He can sing the one melody  of "Like a Diamond in the Sky" really well and often after we have settled him in bed we will hear him singing "Ike a da da in da hi" over and over...eventually he follows it with the song he has sang since he was a few months old which just a monotone "Aaaahhhhhh, aaaahhhhhhh" always at the same low pitch. He will be great at meditating some day!  "Ooohm....Ooohm...."
DG is so charming a friend of mine game him enough
money to buy his own trampoline! Geez.
His brothers are more thrilled than jealous. :) 

With such a big age gap you might wonder how the three boys all get along. Well according to Dallin there is no age gap. He throws his little body on top of his brothers when they are playing on the floor and gleefully wails on them with his little fists. I scold him and the boys say, "Oh Mom, it's doesn't hurt" (and they are laughing) so heaven knows someday I will get a call with "Olivia, your son Dallin has punched so and so several times in the stomach--he seems to think it's funny!" Preston and Eli adore Dallin and a common sentence they often repeat is, "Aww, he is so cute!" Dallin in turn adores his big brothers as long as they know their place (which is not too close to Mom when he is sitting on Mom's lap) and is always looking forward to following and tumbling around with them after school.

So there is a better picture of Dallin and his little self. I thought I better get it on here cause before I know it there will be another baby to write about. Yep...apparently Dallin put in birthday wish to be a Big Brother in time for Christmas (or actually shortly after). Any bets it's another boy? ;)

PS Just as I finished writing this I heard a tumble behind me and Dallin has rolled off the coffee table in the laundry basket, dumping my freshly folded laundry everywhere....that's what I get for blogging huh?

Just one of the big kids now....hanging out with big brother and cousins 'helping' design their pizzas!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Post Holiday Hangover

                            Happy 2014!
Me and friend (and amazing Artist) Diana Dominguez
 The holidays have just ended and I am looking at a normal school/workday in the morning and I just feel almost like I have been hit with a truck. Really? Do I really  have to go back to the norm? Ok, let me backtrack. I am super happy to have a friendly norm to go back to. I really am not complaining.  I love the holidays---love the lights, the creative gift ideas, the wrapping, the baking, the music, the general loving vibe...and this year for some reason it felt like all of that seasonal great stuff---on drugs! The break is almost over and I feel like I need a break to recover from the break---and really to reflect on all the gift I have been given. What a wonderful season! We are not a wealthy family, but this year felt so rich. First I have to back track to December 1st---where the best gift began to unfold.

Russell Family Fundraiser Photo
It was Sunday--a fast Sunday and near the beginning of sacrament I watched as one of the men in our congregation stood up (from his wheelchair) made his way to the front with his 17 year old son helping him up to the pulpit and he shared a testimony of gratitude, hope and love that touched me more than words can express. This man has bone cancer...a very aggressive form of it and I had watched in the past year as his weight dropped, his strength weakened and eventually he needed to use a wheelchair as he was too weak to make his way around. His wife has passed away four years earlier of MS and they still had their two youngest kids in high school. I have to admit something first. I had been avoiding this family a little since the cancer diagnosis. I am not proud of it, but every time I saw Brother Russell, I could see my own dad---with an identical weakening body and I wanted to cry every time I saw him. It was out of weakness and selfishness that I stayed away. I didn't want to be reminded so clearly of my dad's lost battle with cancer--it was still too close to home and the guilt of not being the kind of daughter I wish I had been for my dad, was there. As I listened to this man speak about his gratitude for his family, his love of the Savior and the atonement and his gratitude for his life, I felt spiritually nudged. It was as if a voice (probably my own dad) saying, "Olivia, you need to do something for this family, you need to move quickly." My heart was repentant and after sacrament meeting I went over to the family. I told Brother Russell how much I loved his testimony and was frustrated internally that the emotion I felt was all over my face and forming into tears. My voice was probably bizarrely emotional as asked if I could do a fundraiser for them. I didn't know if he would be receptive to the idea...so I babbled on, explaining that I have done fundraisers for people before and would really love to organize one for them. He warmly accepted with gratitude and I thanked him, and left before the tears could really fall. I didn't know then just how rough Brother Russell was going to have it in the following days. He managed to send me a picture of himself with his two youngest kids for my flyer and I got to work. It was the holiday season and I was concerned that I might not get a turnout if I did one big event on a weekend (as most people use those last few weekends preparing for the holidays) so I decided to donate two weeks worth of drop-ins and have a donation drop-off in all my fitness classes. It was late notice so I mainly advertised this fundraiser online with my students, facebook and through church. The first week left me anxious. By Friday we had only raised a little less than $200. I was disappointed and worried that we would not be able to raise a significant amount. The most I had ever raised in a fundraiser was a little over $800....and that was with much more notice and advertising! My goal for this family was to be able to raise at least $1000 before the left La Grande at the end of December (they were moving for his treatment and to be closer to family). As that first week was closing I felt like maybe I was being unrealistic with my goal of $1000. That first Friday night I felt prompted to post the amount and say that I felt we could more than double it in the next few days. I hesitated thinking, "Why would I write that? It's the weekend, how will I get donations during a weekend?" But nope---the prompting was persistent so I trusted it and posted that optimistic projection. Sunday, I announced in Relief Society about this fundraiser. I felt unsure if I should be pushing a fundraiser during church, but it felt right. I was tearful as I explained the situation and the fundraiser. By the end of the hour I had over $300 dollars to add to the total. I was stunned and elated. We had more than doubled the original figure.The next week I pushed hard again...creating a new approach with a $5 drive--asking people to donate at least $5. Something doable for most anyone. Then the donations started to come in. Most people wouldn't donate just $5 though. I collected from families with young kids that probably could barely afford the $50 donation they made. I collected from broke college students who loved to be able to give something. I also collected donations from a couple who decided they wanted to give a sizable donation rather than buy eachother Christmas presents. Most of the people did not know Jim Russell, but the love and compassion they felt for him and his family was amazing.
           Something I hadn't considered when I started this fundraiser was that it would go over the 17th...my birthday and the anniversary of my dad's passing. I felt a wave of not sadness so much, but solemnity, reflection and a weariness that day. I felt close to tears so many times as I felt the significance of being able to raise money for a dad fighting cancer during the 5 year anniversary of when my dad lost the battle with his. It was bitter-sweet---and much more sweet than bitter. That night of my birthday thought a lot about my dad---the many things I loved, admired and missed about him and suddenly I felt purged of any criticism and judgement of my dad that I had ever struggled with. I felt like I had finally made use of the atonement in this context of mourning and forgiving, and being forgiven. I felt so close to my dad that day. I knew his spirit was present and  I knew this all was a gift...my birthday present from my wonderful earthly dad and a loving Heavenly Father to heal as I served someone else' dad. BEST BIRTHDAY PRESENT EVER. I looked back and realize that every year since my dad has passed there has been something spiritually special that takes place on or around my birthday and I know we share that day in a special way. By the way the end total to the fundraiser was over $1200...it was amazing.

An eclectic fabulous group of friends!
So speaking of birthdays! My 30th birthday has come and gone. One of the women I met through my business, Melinda, shares the same birthday. She is a fabulous person. She, without being paid, subbed my Zumba classes for me out of the goodness of her heart while I took 6 weeks off to have Dallin. She is a saint. She REALLY wanted to have a joint birthday party. I cautiously agreed thinking how busy the month is already and how it might be hard to plan a party, but we eventually figured we would do a December 14th (it was a Saturday) afternoon  potluck style gathering. It was short notice but we got an awesome group of women together (mostly from our fitness classes) and had the most awesome birthday every! Our ages at the party ranged from 25 to 72 and my friend Heather from church (no one else was from my church) exclaimed, "You could write a book about the women who were there!" because we were such an eclectic group. We laughed so much that day (hilarious white elephant gifts all around)--and everyone seemed to have a great time. It was a great way to begin my time in my 30's. Love wonderful friends and the sister-hood that comes with that.

Oh at our party we did a craft---I realize probably all the other crafty people in the world  has probably made this craft, but this was the first year I tried it and I am in love with it--such a cool way to create home-art.Simply put, what it is is modge-podging a picture onto a canvas. The effect looks great and it's much cheaper even than framing a picture and I think looks pretty darn good. Here is one I made at home for our family. I had bought this print of Christ (we didn't have one in our house yet and we really wanted one). It was 11x14 and I knew a nice frame like it deserved would be spendy. The print alone was $40 (a big chunk to us) so I stupidly/bravely decided to put it on canvas. First I painted the canvas to look like wood (dark brown and black) then I modge podged the print in the center. It began to buckle and curve (the print) and I was so stressed that I had just ruined it! Luckily I was able to coax it flat with a hairdryer and constant stroking, but it was scary. Probably won't try it with a print again, but it turned out pretty good.  Liv and learn... ;) I did make several for Christmas presents for friends with their own family pictures or cool pictures and quotes. Awesome (inexpensive) gift.

This years' picture before shrunk down and made into magnets!
Finished Magnets--bad pic, they look clear in real life.
Speaking of making gifts---here is my other obsession. They are magnets made from those glass flat marble things you can get at the dollar store. I turn pictures into thumbnail prints and put them on a big collage on picasa and then I print out a big sheet of lots of tiny pictures (or funny quotes) then using E6000 glue I glue the picture to the glass and a magnet to the back. Quick, great gift. I gave a bunch of these out to my friends. They loved them. I don't think you can have too many refrigerator magnets...well I can't anyway.

The coolest home-made gift I made this year though I think is the one I made my mom for her birthday. I got the idea online (of course--just like all these others) and made it on Picasa...love that program! My mom loves it!  I am going to re-print it after my sister Lucia has her baby so it doesn't just say 'baby girl'. Not having an excess in money is good....we have to get creative.

Now Sugar, now corn syrup, now chocolate--dash away all!
My boys were supposed to bring a 'gift' for each of their classmates for Christmas (they each only have 10 kids in their classes). They really wanted to give their friends something 'cool' so we looked online and we found this cute candy-cane sled. I got the stuff at the dollar store and we spent a great evening taping together some VERY cool little Christmas sleds for all their classmates and even their teachers and principal. I'm sure the parents were just thrilled to see this little sugar laden vehicle. Haha!

Dear Santa....
Christmas itself was sweet. This was the year I introduced the boys to Christmas shopping. I asked them to take $15 of their own hard earned money to go buy Christmas presents. They were not too eager to take spend their money (they work really hard for it), but I insisted they would have fun once we got to the store. Once there we had so much fun. They would try ask the other to go away while they stowed each other's gifts under coats (Preston got Eli a coin organizer and Eli got Preston a Transformer he didn't yet own). They were so excited about the goldfish crackers (and container!) they bought Dallin and the little lunchbox and baby lunchables. The bought their dad some of what we call 'man-wash' which is any manly scented bodywash like by Old Spice or Axe. They each bought me a piece of jewelry...a necklace with an M on is (for Mom) from Preston and a charm bracelet with gardening tools on it from Eli. So adorable. They made me hide my face while the snatched them quickly from the $5 jewelry display and were grinning ear to ear hinting that I was going to love the beautiful gifts they had found for me. They were so excited to go home and wrap the gifts---teasing each other with hints about the present they had bought for the other. It was great! Christmas Eve we made a bizarre amount of sugar cookies. We delivered them to friends and Preston saved out four he decorated especially for Santa. He decorated three gingerbread men shaped cookies to look like Santa and one to look like a Santa Smurf (it was blue, but with a red hat). Here is the note he wrote to Santa....in case it's not clear enough this is what it says: " engoy three santa's and a santa smerf. I'm saree thers no chalkelit from Preston Eli. David convinced him maybe they could drizzle some chocolate syrup on a couple of the cookies and maybe Santa would like that. The boys were very pleased with this improvisation.

Apparently Santa was happy with his cookies cause the boys got to wake up to some lovely gifts under the tree. The best was the Radio Flyer wagon for Dallin. All the boys enjoyed playing with that. I spent the day gobbling up a book in between nursing a migraine (too many late nights during the 'break'!) and playing board games with the boys. Preston was enamored with his first piece of the electronic world (an Mp3 player) and Eli persuading all to play pick-up sticks and checkers with him. Dallin saw the unattended stocking and illustrated his quickness at grasping at great opportunities when they arrive---much to the chagrin of his older bother Preston:

Seizing the moment (and the chocolate!)

 Oh wow---that was a huge post. I am exhausted and dreading my alarm waking me up to teach my 6Am class. However, this was worth it. I am not going to edit it now, but I am going to post it anyway. I do notice the MANY typos and errors in my other posts, but you know what? I am not a perfectionist. I want to remember things and not have things look perfect. So I am sorry about the many annoying typos that I have yet to correct. I'm sorry. Please graciously overlook them. It reminds me of a cool post I just read:

 “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.

So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
Neil Gaiman

 To mistakes in 2014---both new and the same old typos over and over!