08 March 2017

Trixie: Eighteen Months

Things I want to remember about Trixie at this age:

  • She has a lot of teeth, especially compared to what Felix was like at this age.
  • She loves to give cuddles. But she also loves to pull hair, pinch, and tackle (if she can).
  • She loves to give kisses.
  • She started walking at about 15 months old, our latest so far.
  • She comes running when she hears somebody filling the tub.
  • She's obsessed with oral hygiene and would happily stand at the sink "brushing" her teeth for upwards of 15 minutes. (Her version of brushing her teeth is putting her toothbrush under the running water, then sucking the water out.)
  • She likes to get cloths out from under the kitchen sink and wipe up non-existent messes from the kitchen floor.
  • She is still allergic to dairy. (So much sadness about this. Please outgrow it, Trixie!)
  • She loves to go outside. She gets really upset when people go outside without her. And she gets upset when people come in from being outside because she wanted to be outside too.
  • She puts on any clothes she can find, often in ways they are not meant to be worn.
  • She loves nursery and the babysitter's house.
  • She is a wonderful eater and is rarely picky. Sometimes she eats as much as or more than her brothers in a meal.
  • She signs: "more," "eat," "thank you," "all done," and "milk."
  • She adores anything with fur.
  • She lost all her words when we were dealing with chronic ear infections a few months ago. She still has a bit of a speech delay, but she's coming along. She says:
    • go
    • hi
    • krrrr (a sound effect for an airplane)
    • zzzzz (a sound effect when she is zipping or unzipping something, or when she wants you to do those things)
    • Ma
    • Da
    • more
    • milk
    • uh-oh
    • ow
    • dog
    • up
  • As we dealt with the ear infections she's had after getting tubes, she loved getting drops in her ears. Thankfully, we haven't had to do drops for at least a month, but it was so cute how she would willingly lie down and giggle as the drops went in.
  • Her eyes are very light blue, and I believe they will stay that way.
  • I frequently say she is my favorite kid right now because, "She sleeps the most and argues the least."
  • She loves to bring us books to read to her, but she only sticks around for about one page before she leaves to do something else.
  • She is my least independent child (so far) and is generally not interested in playing by herself. She frequently wants to sit in my lap.
  • When we tell her we are going to go somewhere she hurries to sit on the stairs and sticks one foot in the air waiting for somebody to put her shoes and socks on.
  • When we want her to come join our family, we can usually all sing a song together, and she will come running to join us. Sometimes she is eager to participate in the fun; other times she is just curious.
  • She loves to wave her arms around "conducting" music when people are singing. I believe this is because I am the ward choir director and Eric leads the music in sacrament meeting. "People are singing? Well, I believe somebody ought to be flailing their arms about!"
  • If anyone is playing the piano, she must join in, preferably by sitting on the player's lap, not merely pushing on the keys she can reach while standing on the floor.
Last week Eric told her it was time for bed, and she took off running to hide from him in our closet. She even shut the door behind herself.

Also last week near the bus stop one day while we were waiting for Ike's bus to arrive, I recruited Felix to help me put back rocks that children had kicked out of the neighbors' side-yard. It's clear the bus-waiters frequently kick the rocks out of the side yard. The next time we went on a walk, Trixie spent a solid 10-15 minutes putting rocks back.

Trixie really has no understanding that another baby is coming to join our family soon. She is generally not that interested in babies, but I've been trying to encourage her to play with her dolls a bit more, or at least cuddle her dolls occasionally. It will certainly be an adjustment when the new baby arrives, but Trixie is so sweet that I'm sure she'll love her new sibling, even if that love isn't necessarily instantaneous.

02 March 2017

Ike is Six! (and a quarter)

I am rather behind on Ike's birthday post. He turned six in December. I worked on his birthday, but his babysitter sent me this picture of him with the birthday crown he got at school.
We told Ike he wasn't having a friends party this year since he had one last year. But actually, he had a surprise party. I took him to the dollar store for various items we needed (and to let him shop for his brother and sister's Christmas gifts), and then we went to Little Ceasar's for a couple of pizzas. He was totally clueless and didn't notice that I got two pizzas instead of the usual one.

When we got home, Eric had readied the house and the handful of guests. I had invited all the kids via texts to their moms and specifically asked them not to tell their kids about the surprise party until it was time to head over to our house. When Ike and I came in, the friends jumped out and yelled, "Surprise!" Ike said, "What are you guys doing here?" I explained they were there for his party, and he said, apologetically to his friends, "I'm not having a friends party this year." Once we explained the concept of a surprise party, he was a happy boy.

At six years old Ike is a good student who enjoys kindergarten. Usually when I ask him how school was, he tells me, "Great." He loves to play with friends, and he adores his baby sister, sometimes too much.

Ike is a good eater and rarely complains anymore about dinner, even if it's something he doesn't really like. He is usually a good helper, and he's capable of doing lots of jobs around the house.

Although Ike can read, I definitely wouldn't classify reading as a hobby. He basically only reads when I tell him to do so. He enjoys being read to, and we have read a few chapter books this past year.

Shortly after turning six Ike lost his first tooth, something he'd been eagerly anticipating for a few months. He lost his second tooth about a week later.
A post shared by Sherry (@containyourexcitement) on

In addition to playing with friends, Ike loves to have battles with his army guys and to play outside when the weather is nice. He is looking forward to soccer starting again in the spring. 

I love this oldest kid of mine. We're in a good groove right now where he is easy to get along with and generally a really good boy. I am really enjoying it and hoping we stay in this good-natured phase for a while.

09 January 2017

Felix Funnies

That four-year-old of mine has been saying some funny things lately. Here are a few:

~~~

While I was getting ready for work one day and he was whining about going to the sitter's I asked him if he could remember what my job was.

Me: I'm a genealogist. Can you say that?
Felix: No, I can't. It's not a real job, mom.

At least a week later, while reading to both boys, after not discussing this in any way:
Felix: Wait, Mom, stop. I have to tell you something. Genealogist is not a real job, Mom.

~~~

One day when he had a stomach bug:
Me: Felix, come inside so you can have some lunch.
Felix: I'm not eating lunch today. I'm fascinating.

~~~
A photo posted by Sherry (@containyourexcitement) on



~~~

When he is angry with me:
Felix: You're grounded, Mom.
Me: What am I grounded from?
Felix: You're grounded from making dinner.
I then explained this is actually not a punishment for me.


~~~


When Eric made peas to go along with dinner one night:
Felix: You're fired from making peas for dinner, Dad!

~~~

Felix is not a picky eater, but lately he complains about whatever we are having for any meal. I could feed him a bowl of cotton candy, and he'd find a reason to complain about it. Each night at dinner we do "good, bad, and helping" where we tell something good about our day, something bad about our day, and what act of service we did that day. Many days with Felix go like this:
Felix: My bad thing is we're having this for dinner, and I just didn't want this. My good thing is it's very delicious.

~~~
A photo posted by Sherry (@containyourexcitement) on


~~~

I read Matilda by Roald Dahl to the boys. It starts with an explanation that most parents think their kids are pretty great, even if they aren't. I stopped to explain some of the wording to my boys, and Felix said:
Felix: Just like we think Baby is the best baby in the world, even though she scratches and pulls hair?

~~~

I'm having a baby in June, and Felix loves to tell people we are having two babies. He means that when our new baby arrives we will have Trixie (the current baby) plus the new baby, but it always comes off like we are having twins. Then I have some quick 'splaining to do.

31 December 2016

2016 Books

I set this to publish automatically and forgot to add my top ten percent of 2016's books to this list. So, for those who didn't read it on the day of publication, you get a bit extra. I read 35 books, 20 fiction and 15 non-fiction. Rounding up, that gives me four books for my best of 2016:

  1. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  2. A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of WWII by Adam Makos
  3. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
  4. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Three of four are non-fiction. This should point me toward more non-fiction for 2017, but I'm sure I'll steer right back to fluff over and over thinking that I'll enjoy it more than I will. (Not that all fiction is fluff, but I frequently seek out an easy read or something fun to listen to and then rarely enjoy those as much as the non-fiction stuff.)


January:
1. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger - A great way to start my reading for this year. The plot and characters are so likeable, even if a bit far-fetched. The writing is excellent.

2. A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of WWII by Adam Makos* - This was just a really good story. I started it right around the time I quit commuting so much to work (August 2015), so it took me ages to get through it because I lost my time to listen to audiobooks. The time it took me to finish doesn't reflect the quality of the book at all. It's very solid writing, and just a really good story.

3. Columbine by Dave Cullen - A really well-written read about the shooting. I couldn't stop telling Eric about it.

February:
4. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson - Such an enjoyable read. I had many laugh-out-loud moments, and I dog-eared lots of pages to read to Eric (and my brother when we were traveling to Texas together).

5. One Plus One by JoJo Moyes - My first read by this author. I found it entertaining, and I'll probably return to her when I'm looking for some fluff reading.

6. Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - I read this one in 2012 and then recommended it for my book group for this year. I enjoyed it immensely again, but apparently some of the groupies found it a little boring.

March:
7. The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare* - Listened to this one for book group and liked it as well as I did when I listened to it in 2013.

April:
8. Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai* - Listened to this one for book group too. I didn't know it was written in verse until after I finished it. That certainly explains the narrator's reading style, which I actually enjoyed.

9. Sarah Bishop by Scott O'Dell - Decent historical fiction. Nothing spectacular, but not bad.

10. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han* - Decent YA fiction. I really liked the main character, but her best friend and her older sister were really unlikable. I liked the writing and the plot, on the whole, though.

11. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella* - This was my first Sophie Kinsella book, and while I get the appeal of her writing (it is very funny), there were a lot of things about this book that rubbed me the wrong way, mostly the fact that the parents are portrayed as total idiots. I far prefer my YA lit with parents who are not total buffoons.

May:
12. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie - I enjoyed it. I'd like to read it to my kids one day.

13. The Martian by Andy Weir - I expected to really like this book, and I did. The main character is brilliant, the plot is constantly engaging, and it was funny too.

June:
14. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky* - I do not get the hype of this book.

15. My Story by Elizabeth Smart* - A story worth reading, despite the lousy writing.

16. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and Elizabeth Sherrill - I've read this book half a dozen times at least. It's such a good one. I read it this time for book group. I'm sad I'll miss the discussion.

July:
17. I'm A Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away by Bill Bryson* - Eh. Not Bryson's best. Nonetheless, an enjoyable book to listen to in fits and starts.

18. The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, and Much More by Bruce Feiler* - We institutded "a good thing and a bad thing" at family dinner. I liked that this book is full of ideas, but he doesn't have an agenda of the "right" way to raise a family.

August:
19. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi* - Easily one of the best books I've read in years. It was so thought-provoking and moving.

20. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley - I enjoyed this when I audiobooked it a few years ago, but I liked it even better this time around with a paper copy.

21. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys* -  I appreciated this book for telling about a different side of WWII than what we often hear (Eastern European refugees fleeing Stalin into Germany very late in the war), but I didn't love the narrative style or the characters. Still a good one to listen to.

22. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan - Definitely an interesting and quick read. I found it fascinating, but it's not one that I'll necessarily talk everyone's ear off about.

23. Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay - There is some good stuff in this book, but the delivery is obnoxiously repetitive and condescending.

24. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann - I did this with Ike. Sometimes it was really hard (for everyone), but we managed to finish it right before his kindergarten testing. If I decide to teach my others to read (and I really don't know at this stage if I will) then I'll use this book again.

25. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell* - This book was so delightfully entertaining. It was a great mix of history, the author's modern day travels and commentary as she did her research, and terrific quotes from historical figures. We sure don't give the French enough credit for their role in the American Revolution. It's shameful.

26. Follow the River by James Alexander Thom - I wanted to quit my life so I could just read this book and do nothing else. Alas, I have a family and a job, so it took me six days to get through it. This was a book group read; otherwise, I doubt I ever would have picked it up.

September:
27. The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier - I'm glad it was short because it was really dark. The great writing doesn't make up for the darkness for me.

28. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson - I just cannot get behind this author, even though she is really popular. I found this book even more grating than Edenbrooke.

29. Life Itself by Roger Ebert* - Okay, I technically didn't finish this one. It was okay, but not engaging enough for me to finish it. I may have gotten through it if it were half as long.

October:
30. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder - Read this one aloud with the boys, and it was so great to read together.

31. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White - Another great read-aloud with my boys. Felix had a bit of a hard time listening, but Ike was fully engaged and always wanted me to read more. I had read it as a child but liked it far better as an adult.

32. Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper by Geoffrey Gray* - This is a really interesting mystery, but I didn't love the author's telling of it. I probably should have just read about it on Wikipedia and called it good.

November:
33. Cinder by Marissa Meyer* - I liked it well enough to want to read the next one.

34. The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs* - I was looking for some fluff to listen to, and this served adequately.

December:
35. Matilda by Roald Dahl - I read this to my boys. It was over Felix's head, but Ike really enjoyed it. I felt like I had to edit out some of the violence and harsh language (stupid, hate, shut up), so that made it a little less enjoyable for me even though it was one of my favorites as a child.

*Denotes audiobooks.

29 December 2016

2016 - In Review

I love to review my year. Over the years I've adapted the cut and paste form I used to fill out since some of it was redundant or just not really applicable to me. I'm sure it will continue to morph over time.

Places in 2016:
Noteworthy things for 2016 (in no particular order):
  • Eric started a graduate program related to his field of teaching, so he will get a raise when this is over!
  • Trixie was released from her supplemental oxygen and nasal cannula in February. Then in July her cardiologist said we didn't need to see him for a year.
  • Trixie got tubes in December after four ear infections in less than three months.
  • Trixie said "mama" before "dada." Then her ear infections caused her to go basically mute. Then when her words came back "mama" was first on the list.
  • I survived two weeks of Eric being away at summer camp.
  • My dad survived his heart stopping for an extended period of time (about 10 minutes). (A perfect stranger performed CPR until the paramedics arrived, zapped him with the paddles a few times, then hustled him to a hospital. He was unconscious for about 18 hours and then needed a few weeks of treatment, but his survival was quite miraculous.)
  • I taught Ike to read.
  • I read a few chapter books to both boys: Little House in the Big Woods, Charlotte's Web, and Matilda
  • Ike started Kindergarten.
  • Ike learned to ride a two-wheeler with only the assistance of neighborhood children, no adults!
  • Felix started preschool.
  • I coached Ike in soccer.
  • I had a very successful year in work and came really close to beating Eric in the gross earnings race.
  • I got pregnant and am having baby #4 in June 2017.
  • Eric finished the basement.
Birthdays:

A Reflection On 2016 Goals:
  • I kept Trixie healthy during cold and flu and RSV season in 2016. I was very concerned about her because of her heart defect, but all was well!
  • I did not resume bread-making for our family. I don't even think I did it more than once or twice. But I was pretty good about meal planning and cooking.
  • I read all the books for book group!
  • I did not get around to hosting a meal at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Primary Children's Hospital, and I feel immense guilt about that.
Goals for 2017:
  • Physically, focus on getting steps in each day. That 10,000 step mark is pretty distant for me, especially when I can't go on walks outside. Even hitting half that is a pretty physical day for me. I just want to continue to be conscientious about moving my body and not being sedentary.
  • Finish my Personal Progress. It's something my bishop encouraged us to do this year, and I have worked on it in fits and starts.
  • Submit some writings for publication in genealogy literature.

24 October 2016

Fall Happenings

In the last two years my blogging has dwindled to only highlight birthdays and vacations. I'd love to make promises about more devoted writing time or more frequent postings, but I have no intention of doing either.

Here are a few pictures and blurbs about what we've been up to this fall, though.

On Eric's birthday we hiked to Donut Falls. It was a nice hike for our little family. Afterwards we went to an Indian restaurant. And we both were so happy that we can take our kids to actual restaurants to eat actual food without having to deal with them acting like horrible people.


I coached Ike's soccer team this year. My brother aptly calls soccer for this age group "Swarm Ball." It was a neat experience, and I'll probably do it again at some point. I loved spending extra time with Ike. I sometimes felt annoyed with parents who shouted at their kids opposite instructions of what I was giving them, or who wanted to give me pointers on coaching. Folks, I have never played soccer except in elementary school P.E. I only signed up to coach because I got a few emails saying our team still really needed an assistant coach. If all you other parents think you can do a better job, then by all means, please do. Otherwise, the appropriate thing to do is say, "Thanks for coaching this soccer team." Also, I think there was an attitude of, "Oh, I'm too busy to coach." Which, okay, I get it. But who isn't busy? We're all busy. It's the American thing to be doing too many things. If it were just the kids, I'd be all about doing this more often.

At this age level the teams do not play with referees, instead the coaches and parents referee the game. We don't really call handballs unless the kid straight-up picks up the ball with his/her hands, and we don't keep score (officially). I loved it when my fellow ref (usually a coach, but sometimes a parent) had the same attitude about this whole thing that I had. (My attitude was, "This is a game, and my kid is five.") Those games were the most fun for me. I never once reffed with another female. Some men treated me like I was stupid. These games were the least fun for me.

Sometimes this boy was constantly in the action, but as the season wore on he was more likely to hang out of the swarm and see if he could head off an opponent who had taken off with the ball.

It looks like I'm chewing this kid out, but I promise I'm not. His parents had come down hard on him during half time, and he came back very upset. I was telling him that he was doing a great job. (He was one of our better players, and one of my favorite kids.) About three minutes after this was taken, he got nailed in the face with a soccer ball and hardly shed a tear.

Being around Ike and watching him interact with a bunch of boys his age was such a fun experience. I really do love this little boy, and I'm glad we got to do this together. I'm also pleased to report that even if I had not been his coach, I think my boy would have been one of the better behaved and least annoying children on the team. And I'm grateful for that. I feel bad for the parents with annoying kids. (Not even going to try to pussyfoot around that. There were definitely some obnoxious kids on my team.)

We didn't manage to get a big group together for our annual Pumpkin Cruise down by the ropes course on the Provo River. Instead, we hired a sitter for Trixie and just took the boys. We didn't bother with jack-o-lanterns for our boat and just went on our own. There was a big logjam, and we had to portage around that. Felix found that experience really distressing for some reason and kept insisting that we just turn around and go home. But everyone really loved the lights. This was one of those rare occasions when Eric didn't want to do something, and I had to encourage him that it would be worth it. When it was all over he agreed and was glad we got it together to go.
Also, how long until my boys are bigger and stronger than me, and they can be the ones to help Eric with carrying the canoe to the river and getting it on and off the car?