Friday, February 27, 2009

Just hit "undo"

Have you ever wondered about the layers of your choices?

What path would your life be on now if you had done something differently?
Would you be happier?
Would life be less complicated or easier somehow?
Would your life be largely the same?

There is a game on the computer I like to play. If you have Windows Vista, you may have it on your computer as well. Mahjong Titans is a solitaire game in which you pair up layered tiles. Sometimes there are is only one option or pair available. Sometimes you have to choose between three of the same tile: which two should you pair up, thus leaving one behind? If you make the wrong choice, you may be left unable to complete all the pairs. To a lesser degree, if you make the wrong choice you could end up with less points in the end. And thus I have come to wonder: will the sum of my choices enable me to complete my life a "winner"? Will the manner in which I have chosen to layer my choices lead me with more or less "points" in the end?

Of course when playing Mahjong Titans, if you reach the end and you are unable to complete the matches because of previous poor choices, it gives you the option to hit the "undo" button as many times as you would like. With each click of the "undo" button, your choice is undone and you get to make a new one, thus leading the game to a different conclusion. I think back on my life thus far and wonder when I would've been better off if I could hit the "undo" button and make a different choice. When should have I made a different choice for my children, my husband; our future? Would my choices really have been so different that my life now would not look the same? What if we had kept that car instead of sold it? What if we had not moved and just stayed put? What if I had kept my mouth closed that one time? What if...what if...what if...

It is so much easier to look back and think of how things could have been, than to look to the future with the resolve to make things better. The truth is, we make millions of decisions every single day that affect tomorrow. Even if I had an "undo" button, where would I start? How would I know which choices to "undo"? Would the going back to "undo" ever end?

I am very satisfied and happy with my life. It is more wonderful and joyous than I could have ever imagined. Heavenly Father has blessed me with a husband that is perfect for me. He has blessed me with children that are amazing and given me more love for them than I could have thought possible. He has given me a solid roof over my head and things that make my life more enjoyable and easy and fun, just because He loves His children and wants us to be happy. And, of course, life being is more worrisome, painful, difficult and maddening than I could have ever thought possible. Life, too often, if just plain HARD!

I have come to the conclusion that I am glad there is no "undo" button. My choices are made. I don't have to wonder about them endlessly because, hey, there is nothing I can do about them now! I have all the freedom in the world to make new and different choices from here on out if that is what I think is right. Life is making decisions. Our decisions define who we are and what we will become. How nice of Heavenly Father to give us a fresh new day every 24 hours; a fresh new start at becoming who we want to be and making our lives what we want of them! We hold all the power...even without an omnipotent "undo" button!

"Life's journey is not traveled on a freeway devoid of
obstacles, pitfalls, and snares. Rather, it is a pathway marked by forks and
turnings. Decisions are constantly before us. To make them wisely, courage is
needed: the courage to say, 'No,' the courage to say, 'Yes.' Decisions do
determine destiny.
"The call for courage comes constantly to each of us. It
has ever been so, and so shall it ever be."
-President Thomas S. Monson, May 2004

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Look Mom!"

"Brighton is a little, little penguin!"
The little girls think it is adorable when he rolls over and think he looks like a little penguin sliding on his tummy. :) He IS awfully cute!! (waaaay cuter than a penguin, as cute as penguins are)

Gotta love the matter what it looks like!

Look at the new storage I gained by re-purposing the armoir!! And making a trip to Wal-mart for more storage can never have too many storage tubs!! :) Woohoo!! Brighton is excited too!! :) He loves some good, quality organization!
I have now gained all power and control over kid's activities and a lot of their toys: you have to ask mom to get something out for you and then you can't get anything new out until the previous activity/toy is put all away! The top part is full of educational activities and games and supplies (math manipulative's, experiment supplies, etc) and puzzles...oh, and the prize bucket (yes, it's the prize bucket even though it is and always has been a tub...more info on it later.) The lower part is mostly toys (a tub for frogs, one for lizards, one for water creatures, one for snakes, one for mammals, etc) It's great because I used to have a lot of these things on my book cases crammed in with all the books which made it hard to keep the books clean and put where they belong. The activities and things were also largely in plastic bags and old yogurt and Smart Balance tubs. The new system is MUCH cleaner and easier to use! And my book shelves are so much nicer to look at now! A few months ago, I used my embossing label maker to label the book shelves so everyone knows exactly where books can be found and where they need to be put back (labels like "sciences, history, board books, early readers, etc.) It has worked really well and our books are being both better utilized and better taken care of. Woohoo!!

Faux Finish Failure

This is the armoire before (well...mostly before. Obviously I already started on the base color of sagey green) my attempt at faux finishing. My thoughts before: "it's pretty straight forward, how could I mess it up?" My thoughts after: "I am going to need a LOT of sandpaper to fix it..."

And just for the record, in the picture the armoire before looks pretty person it was pretty dingy and dirty and dull looking...thus the desire for the faux finish.
The attempt was a crackled, weathered effect. Yeah....not so much. Again...must. buy. sandpaper.

This one spot turned out "okay"....there were a few other spots that were "okay"....but I am going to either sand it down a lot to achieve the "weathered" look...or I may just put a whole new coat of crackle finish stuff on it (much thicker this time....I see now that is the key) and do a new top coat to crackle.

This is the armoire after. Does it look better than it did? For the most is much lighter and cleaner and nicer looking. Did I achieve the look I was going for? Heck no. Was it worth possibly burning my trachea from the faux finish fumes? YES! :) Good, solid learning experiences are always worth a small scar or two on ye ol' trachea...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunday night marshmellowey fun!

Who doesn't love roasted marshmallows??? :)

We all stayed home from church on Sunday with the majority of the family sick and a few with fevers. Sebastian did a great job of getting a nice, warm fire going in the family room for us to all cuddle up and watch Extreme Make Over: Home Edition (which we often watch on Sunday, it's not part of our religion. :) Just a thoughtful, family, feel-good show to watch together...minus the ads (we LOVE the DVR!) of course!) I bought some large marshmallows earlier in the week so that, when the time was right, we could enjoy roasting them together over a hot fire. Last night, the time was right. :)
This is Fiona (one of the people with a fever) and Sequoia. Sequoia did not eat any toasted 'mellows. :) It probably would've glued her little jaws shut...probably not the best idea. Though her barking is irritating........

This is Scarlett and Haven as they are roasting their marshmallows (with my help, of course!) We have a couple of sturdy, long roasters so no one had to get to close to the fire, except the mom who was helping to make sure their marshmallows weren't burnt to a crisp and smashed into a burning log.... The older kids did have the obligatory flaming 'mellows that no one wanted to eat (they were placed on the "public's" marshmallow plate...the plate designated by the older kids for the "public" to freely partake of...we, the "public" were not too interested, but thanks anyway) but over all it was a good roasting experience. Yum. My favorite way to eat a marshmallow is still to pull it between your fingers like taffy until it is the consistency of taffy...changes the flavor and tastes yummier. Not that marshmallows aren't yummy to begin with. Actually, I think my favorite is to let them get THAT is yummy!! Luckily, marshmallows are way to rich and sugary to eat more than a couple at a time!

(all photos taken by Sebastian)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's Totatlly And Completely Official!

Brighton totally and completely rolled over for the first time!!! Woohoo for him!! :) I was washing some dishes in the kitchen while he was doing a little baby work out on his baby gym. After awhile, his squawks and squeals sounded more muffled than usual so I walked over to see what he was up to....
And there he was....on his tummy!!! :) Only one of his arms made it up to a good position, as you can he was sort of face planting with only one arm to hold himself up with...thus the muffled sounds. :) What a sweety pie!
Scarlett just came over from her perch in the kitchen (she was watching some Papa's cookies cool...) and asked about the above picture of Brighton. I told her he had rolled over all by himself and she sucked in all the air in the room with her amazement! :) She had a big, chocolaty grin (she has enjoyed a few freshly baked Papa's cookies already....those of you from my childhood will probably remember the cookies my Dad made...) and asked if the picture was a "show". She was very bummed that it was not a recording. She immediately looked downtrodden and said "aw, man! I wish it was a show!" I to, had the same regret...I should've video recorded the monumental moment rather than capturing it in stills...alas the wisdom of a 3 year-old!

*Gratuitous Picture of Baby Chubbiness*

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Life as usual

Fiona, Haven, Scarlett and Brighton. Brighton is absolutely adored by all of his big brothers and sisters. The girls, being girls, are the most hands on with him...asking to hold him all the time, cooing at him, "petting" his head, giving hin kissies and so forth. What a lucky guy! :)
This is Haven saying "oh, I love you so much, baby!"

This is Brighton, who is 4 months old, sitting in the high chair at the table for the first time! He thought it was fun. He is still a few months away from eating solid foods, but it is fun to have hin with us at the table now...well, it's nice to have both hands free and still have him at the table with us!! He's been sitting on Dave's lap, usually, at dinner. He's starting more and more to grab for things and play with actual toys...too cute! :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday night puzzle fun!

This was me (with Scarlett, who had been to bed and up again) towards the end of the night...close to hour 4 with the puzzle...can you tell what I'm thinking? (hint: A. W. D. Y.?)
Part of the puzzle. We started about 5:30-6:00ish after a brisk family walk. I set out some good snackage (toast and air popped pop corn) and hot cocoa. It was a hard puzzle...we didn't finish. :) We got all the sides and top and bottom together, and chunks here and there...but it was tough! We put it away in chunks so that, should we choose to tackle it again, we would be ahead of the game!! :)

About an hour or so into the puzzle, it was bedtime for the little girlies. Fiona came into the room and the little girls got into bed and I read a few chapters from the Little House on the Prairie series (we are currently reading book #4, On The Banks Of Plum Creek). After reading, Scarlett and Haven were mostly and almost asleep. HA! Fiona came out of the room with me and we went back to the puzzle. Elijah realized that Scarlett was not asleep. Of his own accord, he went in to read Scarlett a book, to help her go back to sleep. What a great big brother! So he took care of her awhile (see below picture...I am still working on uploading pictures in their proper order!) and read her a few books. Then Fiona decided to spell him and read a few books herself so that Elijah could come out to the puzzle for a little while...again, all of her own accord! What a sweet sister! When Scarlett did not fall asleep after she was read to, Elijah went back in and they decided to turn on the music for her. The music came on, Fiona and Elijah started dancing around the freshly cleaned room (a freshly cleaned room is apparently, as history has proved time and again, WAY too appealing and irresistible and dancing MUST take place....) so, of course, Scarlett and the freshly awakened Haven needed to join in the fun. They danced around together giggling, the four of them. Several games of "duck, duck, goose" (played like "toilet, toilet...flush!" and some other Star Wars variations that have escaped me...) were played happily and cheerily. Are my children the only ones that get along exceptionally well after bedtime? It's like some magic love is in the air and everyone just plays so nicely! Not that they don't during the day...but it seems eerily consistent after bedtime. So, as you may have noticed, the parental units did nothing to prevent or stop this massive sibling funnness. With Monday being a holiday, I did not mind this late night bonding and glee. :) And yes, Haven and Scarlett both came out to join us again at the table. :) It was a very fun night. The only way it could've been improved was if we had actually finished the puzzle...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Romantic Winter Wonderland

Happy Valentines Day! This morning we woke up to one of my favorite winter scenes: frost and snow covering all the trees and grasses and just about every surface it could stick to! So gorgeous! The kids and I thouroughly enjoyed it as we drove to the church this morning for
a primary activity. The world felt very calm, quiet and majestic.

The sun is out and the frost is gone now, but we enjoyed it while it lasted! I am so grateful for a thoughtful Heavenly Father who so sweetly made the world for our enjoyment! Waking up to a white winter wonderland is just one of the many, many ways He shows us every day His great love and concern for us! I hope, on this day of love, you feel loved! Remember to show those around you your love and appreciation for them! :)

Sweet, willing helper

Ever since she was just a wobbly little toddler, Scarlett has loved to help. Quite frequently, she follows me around and wants to be doing all the things I do; switch laundry, do the dishes, fold clothes, wash the counter...pretty much any task or chore I am involved in. She is already an excellent little cleaner!! Here she is helping to wash the windows her Daddy worked so hard at installing last fall!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hard to miss at 14,000 feet!

*Gratuitous Baby Photo*
This is the picture of my view of the baby while he's doing his baby work out on the good ol' baby gym. This is, of course, the best view in the whole house. :)

The above picture is the view right outside the dining room/kitchen window from my computer desk.

When we were looking for a house to buy here (and before I had ever been to Colorado Springs), it seemed to me that almost every house listed boasted of a view of Pikes Peak. I wondered how a city so large could accommodate so many houses with perfect views of Pikes Peak. Then I visited Colorado Springs and realized a couple of different things: there are a lot of hills in this town, which gives people a lot of great views, and it is really hard not to have a view of a mountain that towers 8,000 feet above the city (our elevation here is about 6,000 feet) and it's again, hard to miss!! :) But, our house does happen to be able to boast a picture perfect view of the Peak out of all the front windows and the side windows. In fact, I think the boy's room has the best view! The above pictures were taken from the living room. It is majestic to look out at...particularly when there is snow. We have not visited Pikes Peak yet, but hope to this summer!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What a guy!

Dave is such a sweet Daddy and thoughtful, helpful hubby!! :) I hurt my back last week, and he has jumped in there and helped out tons. He did NUMEROUS loads of laundry last week (it was so cute to hear him say that he needed to go and switch the laundry!! Words I've never heard him utter before, but have longed to hear....) and even scrubbed our toilet!!! We both had a chuckle about that as we figured out it was probably the first time in our whole marriage that he has scrubbed a toilet! Not that he is not a helpful guy when I am not injured...he is! :) Don't get the wrong impression...he does a mean load of dishes and can whip up egg tortillas in a pinch and get the giggles rolling faster than a toad can whistle Dixie!
Tonight I had to run to the store with a few of the older kids and Brighton to get some Valentines for their Cottage School class parties tomorrow. We planned on going earlier in the day, but Haven woke up with a fever and was sick all day so we couldn't drag the poor sweety pie to Wal-mart. I had to go to the chiropractor the minute Dave got home from work and then we chowed down on dinner when I got home, so it was already pretty late when we finally headed out to the store. And, Wal-mart being the time vortex that it is, it was even later when we finally got home! Poor Brighton was wet through (yes, I am such a neglectful mom!) but I had so much to do and help the kids get done in preparation for tomorrow, that I didn't have time to bathe the cutie muffin. Dave, being the great guy he is, was the one who got to get him all clean and watch him kick at the water tonight. He is very competent; he even put baby lotion on Brighton. :) Awwww. What a lucky gal I am!

Dead Dino Cake....YUM!

The annual Cub scout Blue and Gold banquet was held the other night. In this ward, they have a tradition of having a cake contest every year. The boys and Dave decided to do a dino dig site cake. It turned out really cool (and super yummy). These are the pictures of before we went...once we got there they added 3 little guys with shovels and buckets who were was way, I mean cool...very manly and scoutish and....well...dirty. They won the award for "dirtiest cake" (in scouts everyone is a winner of something...there is no "main" winner...except in the pinewood derby, of course.) The dirt was crushed up Oreo's. And can I just say here and now that crushed up Oreos are sooooooo heavenly and yummy....better than intact Oreos, in my opinion. I felt tempted to buy a bag of them today at the store for the sole purpose of crushing....wah ha ha!! (insert evil laugh/tone here....)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

First day in undies!!! Woohoo!

Scarlett has been potty-learning for a few weeks now. Luckily we had about 5 billion pull-ups left over from the one day that Haven needed them when she was learning to use the toilet. Sebastian, Elijah and Fiona were all a similar experience to Haven...about one day of "accidents" or needing pull-ups and then they were off to the land of toilet using and undie wearing with no hitches. Scarlett has been another story! She has been afraid of using the toilet for about a year (she is 3.4) now so we bought her a little potty (also a first for our family). She sat on it once and then refused to use it. Then one day about a week or so ago, I suggested she try it out (like I had been doing a zillion times before that) and she actually said "yes!" Thus started the pull-up usage. She basically used them as diapers most days...but she was still using the potty for a day and then (dun dun!) the big toilet with a potty seat on it! We bought her some undies last week and got them washed for her and today she wanted to try them out. I reminded her when she put them on that she couldn't urinate in them...she needed to be sure to have all her urine go in the toilet. She said "if I urinate in them, it would be all wet and go all over!" Yes, she understands that concept!! :) She so far has gone to the bathroom about 4 times in the last hour since putting them on! Yay for Scarlett!!! (and yay for her parents!! Now we only have one in diapers!)

Herbal tea drop-out

I want nothing more than to sit here all quaint at my computer; the chill Colorado air outside; a warm, decorative tea cup nestled in my hand. I have several lovely tea cups. One, in particular, is very nice looking and elegant with a matching saucer that Dave bought me. I want to be able to take the edge off the chill by slowly sipping from this cup and rest it on it's saucer in between sips. The one thing stopping me from this cozy scene: I HATE herbal tea!! I have tried for YEARS to make myself like it...I have tried many different flavors. My last ditch effort was yesterday when I tried some vanilla honey chamomile tea. Blech!! All herbal teas taste the same; like dead leaves boiled in water. I don't think there is anyway to hide this taste. I have tried milk and sugar, honey and lemon...yesterday I even tried flavored syrup and it ended up tasting like dead leaves boiled in water with artificial Irish Cream flavoring!!! I really, really wanted to like it. I sat down at my computer, cold winds howling out the window, and tried to sip and sip and sip before I just couldn't take it any longer!!!! I dumped the whole cup out in the sink, totally deflated. I can't drink cup after cup of hot cocoa! I do prepare my cocoa with less cocoa and more water so that it turns out a water-down version of hot cocoa for less calories, but still....herbal tea is so healthy and has almost no calories and, yeah know....makes you feel all quaint and cozy and calm and sophisticated when you drink it!! At least that is the effect I have seen in numerous Meg Ryan films. And, although she betrayed me by having extensive plastic surgery done, Meg would never steer me wrong about something as sacred as herbal tea. She seems to drink a lot of it, so it must be good. And the stores seem to sell a lot of it, so it must be good. I have even personally visited the Celestial Seasonings factory up near Boulder and they make TONS of herbal teas every day, so it must be good. My taste buds must be messed up. The fact remains, though, that I have a cupboard full of herbal teas and a very lovely matching tea cup and saucer......does anyone have any suggestions for success? What do you drink that's warm and comforting but doesn't have tons of empty calories....but tastes good?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The "new" almost done kitchen!

We found these cabinets on Craigslist. They were up in Longmont (almost a 3 hour drive from here). VERY good deal. Some guy had hired a guy to build him cutom cabinets and then the cabinet builder just left and took off 3/4 of the way through the job...sad for the guy who hired him...very happy for us who got such a steal!! Added to that huge blessing is the fact that our home teacher/friend from church is a custom cabinet maker!! He has very graciously helped us to install the cabinets and help us along the way. We still need to stain and seal the cabinet doors and build and then stain and seal the drawer fronts. We also have to refinish the floor (we had to patch in new hardwood floor where the old island was) and remove the popcorn ceiling (since it is only on half of the ceiling now...the old dining room had it but the kitchen did not) and refinish the ceiling. And then there will be a bunch of other smaller finishing touch type of cabinet hardware and putting up tile behind the stove and the sink. But we are so happy with it all already! We've almost tripled the amount of cabinet space we had and doubled teh counter space! Opening up the kitchen has made the whole living room/kitchen area feel so much lighter and brighter and more open and welcoming...and so much funner to cook in!! And we have really enjoyed actually being able to sit together at the table for meals (before the kids sat at teh counter and we sat at the table without the leaf...there was no room for the leaf). :)

FINALLY...some kitchen photos

These are, hopefully obviously, the "before" pictures.

Three girls "conducting" Star Wars

I think this was Christmas afternoon. I heard a whole lot of "dun dun dun dun" coming from the girls room and this is what I saw!! Way too sweet!! Everyone is just a little too into Star Wars around here! Frequently during the day, the little girls will turn on the Weird Al Star Wars songs to listen to in their room while they are playing. :) I have made a rule, however, that you can't listen to the Weird Al songs while falling asleep....they're not bad or anything...just doesn't seem right for little, innocent girlies to fall asleep with Weird Al in their heads....

Loopy Cutie Pie

Brighton can get very loopy when he's tired! He was just eating his hands, giggling for no apparent reason! Way too adorable!! He is such a sweet, fun, happy baby! He'll be 4 months old this weekend! It goes by so fast.....

Monday, February 2, 2009

Master "Chef" with his "Sous Chef"

Sebastian has started cooking. He has been asking me to let him cook for a long time now...and now I am finally "letting" him. He is really good at it. Today he and Elijah made egg omlets and egg tortillas for themselves and all the other kids (which was super nice since no one else wanted what I had for lunch...left over fajitas from dinner last night).
This is the first time that Elijah helped. We do need to branch out from eggs, though. It is nice we can buy a ton of them from Sam's Club, but people need to eat more than eggs every day for lunch. :)

more kids' fun with learning...

A year or so ago I was pleasantly surprised when, after hours and hours of quiet play up in their room, the boys gave me a tour of the museum they had created in their room...all with k-nex. They had exhibits and information and even provided me with the fake money I needed to pay my admittance!
I think this one was my favorite...complete with fake foliage and everything!

Sebastian giving the tour. This was an Australopithecus, if I remember correctly. Very accurate. :) Haven was a pioneer girl, by the way...