Monday, March 30, 2009

Boys will be boys will be boys....

After exercising class today I decided that I would borrow another little boy to play with Baker and keep him occupied while I clean house. But of course, I needed to shower. So I told the boys what they could and could not do while I took a brief break to take a shower. Who knew when I forgot to mention, get naked, soak yourself in the left over rain water and then play in the sandbox, that that is what they would think of doing first. Imagine my surprise when I heard giggling coming from outside my window?!!! Thinking they had simply gone outside while I took a shower (breaking all rules anyway) I looked out ready to give them my sternest stranger danger lecture. Laughter once again bubbled up (this time from me) as I realised what they had done. Two little bottoms covered in sand pointed in my direction said it all. Sorry Tina, for posting naked pics of your little guy, but I couldn't resist this brief moment of what can only be described as "boys will be boys" or "Baker and Nathan being Naughty and loving it"...take your pick!this is the two of them running away from me while I tried to get them to come in. What you don't see is that they are shivering because it was cold outside!!

I finally told them they had to come in because they were naughty. See the smiles. Yeah...Naughty is not such a bad thing in their mind...heaven help us over the next 4 years.Here they are getting clean and splashing water while they warm up...can't blame you. You probably have a smile right now. I did. And I'm off to clean it all up!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

In no particular's our life

So this is my brief catch up of what we have been doing lately. In no order since I'm too busy to care what layout this is Baker and his friend Nathan at the zoo. These two boys make my heart laugh since they are very creative at what mischief they get in to. The other day they both decided at the exact same moment to poop in their underwear...tell me that's not a coincidence.
There is a new baby at the zoo. A giraffe. The zoo keeper said 500 people turned out to see her be born. They birthed her right in the open pen. Can you imagine that sight? I be the angels were smiling. Griffith and Baker love the fishes at the hippo exhibit

here's Baker and Nathan climbing the all to the slide

and yet again playing in the hippo's mouth

Mardi Gras here we come!!!

Somehow...we though going to the downtown Mardi Gras parade would be fun. And it was, for the drunken masses that surrounded us. But we got through it. Katie got a bunch of beads, Baker cried through the whole thing, and we got to see some of the oddest floats (if you could call it that). But another St. Louis first down. We want to try and get to very parade at least once. So far my favorite seems to be St. Patty's day. Though we want to try and get to the Dogtown St. Patty's day one year. And I just found another one. The Barkus parade for kids at Mardi Gras. That one will be our next years goal.

I have gotten into making Bento lunches and really enjoy it. It has spilled over into making Bento meals as well. Note my fun egg penguins who are swimming in a sea of blue cottage cheese.

We decided on what traditions we want to do for Valentines day. They each get a bucket with silly string, candy and a book. Our silly string fight was loads of fun for everyone except Baker.
Even Griffith got into it. and Katie loved shooting it all over.

So we weren't really thinking one day, but we decided to take 13 kids to the Zoo. Yeah, I know...crazy huh? There are 4 babies not pictured here. Needless to say, we lost one (which Andy hunted down) and just kept herding them around. Can we say Polygamy!!! One man, three women and 13 kids. Oh boy!

This is what life would be like with triplets. I babysat them one day and I thought, oh wonder the Lord didn't answer that prayer to send all my kids at once. Regardless, they are all so cute I could just eat them up...Adam, Caleb and Griffith

Especially this one. His name is Caleb Boyce and I think looks more like my child than his twin brother...I think when they all turn 18 months, the nursery leader will run for the Ozark Mountains and never return...There will be 5 babies all entering at about the same time...heaven help us all!

Katie got very creative one day and made her very own castle for Hello Kitty. She really just wanted an excuse to use tape. But I am continually amazed at what she will fashion out of her mind.

Baker and Katie playing paint the rocks. I'm not sure why Baker thought this meant "lets get naked and paint ourselves..." but what do you do? Naked tighty whitey boys come from the Brimhall side. We went to World Bird Days and the kids all loved seeing birds and especially the pygmie owl which was only as large as my palm. Andy was at Spring training with all his brothers so this was a great way to pass the time.

Andy missed the annual St. Patty's day parade but this year, we had a great number of people come with us. It is always fun to see the balloons and get necklaces. Here is the yearly leprechaun photo. This guy is there every year and we love to get pics with him.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ode to Motherhood

As many of you know, Heather is away on "vacation." With the exception of a one week vacation when Katie was 1 1/2 Heather has never been by herself and away from the children for more than a night, if that. We decided that 6 1/2 years of exceptional mothering deserved a little break. So we arranged for her to go to Orlando for a week to visit her sister. In order to do this, it meant also arranging my schedule so that I could be a full-time stay at home father. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty good father. I do my best to stay extremely involved in my children's life. I cook them breakfast daily, I get up at night to take care of them, and I take advantage of some opportunities to connect with my children that unfortunately other males choose to miss. With that said, what I do pales in comparison to the constant sacrificing that my beautiful wife does on an hourly basis. So here are some highlights from our "Days with Daddy" with a few little lessons learned along the way.

Day #1:

When you are used to living with Sunshine it is hard to feel its absence. As many of you can attest to, having Heather in your life is like living next to the sun. She is full of warmth, compassion, energy, and enthusiasm. I love basking in her light. The only problem is, when she is away from me I have a very hard time functioning, actually as this week can demonstrate, I function fine I just don't enjoy what I am doing as much. I love having her nearby. She, like the sun, gives me, and my family, life. Sensing this, Heather went to the store the day before and bought little presents that would keep us entertained and provide us things to do. One thing you'll notice is that most of our highlights come from the little gifts that she left. Even when she isn't present she still is totally influencing our lives. Thank you Heather for being so thoughtful and caring.

The first day we drained our sorrows in ice cream from McDonald's, went to Katie's piano lessons, and after riding our scooters forever, ate pancakes and eggs for dinner.

Day #2:

After receiving a hint from Heather that the Easter Bunny would be making an appearance at the St. Louis Mills Mall I packed up the kids (my goal was to leave at 9:25, my actual departure time 9:42; it is amazing how much longer it takes to coordinate everything needed for three kids when you are on your own). Since we were running a little late I told Katie that we might miss the Easter Egg hunt and she said, "Don't worry Dad I'll take care of it." She then said the sweetest prayer to Heavenly Father that they could delay the Easter Egg Hunt for 10 minutes so we wouldn't miss all of the fun. What faith. You'll be happy to know that they had arranged it so that only 20 kids could go in at a time and you could only get 1 golden egg and two colored eggs. As a result we were still able to get some eggs. Unfortunately, even though I thought ahead to bring the camera I failed to grab it from the car. But believe me when I say the kids had a marvelous time. They each got a reward for finding a golden egg (a ride on the train and a Desperaux lunch box with a little stuff pet bunny rabbit) and talked about it all weekend long.

First Lesson Learned: Here is my first commentary on society. I was one of maybe two fathers there with their kids. The rest were very loving and very dedicated mothers. However, while I was registering my kids for the Easter Egg Hunt the staff worker commented on what a wonderful father I was for bringing all 3 of my beautiful kids to the event. Now, I love that woman for saying that, for recognizing my dedication, but I wonder how many of those mothers received similar comments. Unfortunatley, my guess is very few, if any. As a father I am easily applauded for anything that I do with my kids (which I don't mind, I soak up the compliments) and yet mothers rarely, if ever, get the same kind of recognition. Instead they get one of two things. Either silence (nobody acknowledges the wonderful work they do because it is assumed that they should be doing it) or they get dirty looks from those people who say in their stares, "why are you having more kids than you can handle." I wish that as a society we could be more vocal with our praise towards our amazing mothers. They are simply incredible in all that they do. Now I readily admit that I am not perfect at acknowledging Heather on a consistent basis and for that I need to change my ways, but please know Heather that I am simply amazed at how you can bring such love and enthusiasm to everything you do. You are my idol.

Next I decided to take them to my office since they never get to see my work. I had two phone calls that I had to make from my office and so we decided to have a picnic on campus. The kids were thrilled. They fished (unfortunately their Daddy is to cheap to spring for a real fishing pole so they had to settle for some weeds from the ground), Baker tried to tackle a renegade aligator that was trying to attack Griffith, and they tore my office apart. All in all it was a great day. To top it off we had homemade chicken parmesan (thanks G.G. for the fantastic recipe), baked potatoes, and freshly steamed green beans (which the kids thoroughly enjoyed).

Lesson #2: Rather than giving the kids something frozen I decided we should have a nice nutritious meal. So I made one of our favorite dishes (yes I made it, no "making it" doesn't mean I took Heather's pre-made meal and simply put it in the oven; I did it all on my own, although I did have to call Heather for a few "pointers"). As I was preparing this I was constantly pinning a button on my nose, secretly hoping that somebody would bust into the house and take a picture of me for the front cover of Father of the Year. Or that somebody would call me and invite me over for dinner (see Lesson #3) and I could say, "Oh, sorry. We are already having chicken parmesan, baked potatoes, and green beans. By the way, what are you having?" I wasn't really feeling that presumptious but I was proud of myself. It would have been so much easier to just throw something in the microwave. And yet, how many days out of the year does my beautiful wife do the exact same thing? Does she get phone calls and photographs? Does she get buttons pinned on her nose? Unfortunately not as often as she deserves. Again, I must do better.

Day #3:

On the third day (after opening kites for our daily present from Mommy) we decided to go to the park and fly our kites. So I throw the kids in the van, called Baker's good friend Nathan to see if I could take him with us (because his mom wasn't feeling great), and we headed to the park. Here is a little video of Katie in action. It was a perfect day for flying kites and playing at the park; the weather was beautiful and it was just windy enough that it wasn't uncomfortable but it was excellent for flying kites. After spending several hours at the park we went home took a little nap and geared up for our evening at the Magic House.

The only causality up until this point was poor little Griffith. He missed his mother so "insanely" that they had to admit him into a padded cell. Luckily, I was able to console him and he was released. His wardons were Katie and Baker. They thought it would be funny to build him a little house. My only concern about this entire week is that I would be enough for Griffith. He has such a special relationship with his mother (as do all of my children) that I wasn't sure that he would find me sufficient. Luckily I think this trip has allowed us to strengthen our relationship and he has done remarkably well.

Day #4:

On Saturday, I made the kids spend five hours at the church watching me play basketball. It was our Stake tournament and we had to win two games that morning to get us to the championship. Luckily for me, we have a very caring woman in our ward that was willing to make sure my kids didn't dive off the stage or do anything destructive while I played. At one point, about half way through the second game, I looked up on stage and here was this amazing woman watching about 12 kids. I couldn't believe how generous, and amazingly patient she was not only with my kids but with the other children that she was "supervising." I owe her a great deal and am very grateful that she was willing to let me play, although both my body, and her to some degree, was probably wishing that we lost that second game. If you are reading this, thank you Tina that was a very remarkable gift. After shopping and returning some long overdue items to the Library we went to a friends house to administer a blessing and then we went to another friends house for dinner. And according to Katie, "it was the best dinner I ever had" although I'm not sure what Mr. Randy did to his hot dogs that were any different than mine. But I digress.

That brings me to lesson #3. Whether I am left at home without Heather and the kids, or as in this case left home with the kids, I always get at least one, if not more, invitations to eat with somebody, either in the ward or from work, etc. I don't think I've ever had an occasion where this wasn't true. Ironically, Heather is left home alone, with the kids, much more often than I am, and she has rarely, if ever, received an invitation to dinner. This is another tribute to these amazing women. I think they take pity on me and do everything they can to make sure I am surviving and yet they realize how capable and incredible Heather is. As such everyone assumes that she doesn't "need the help." While I don't know this for sure, I am pretty sure that this social pattern is not unique to me. Just another interesting commentary on our assumptions about men and women in our society.

Day #5:

After a long day at church (I had the kids dressed and ready for an 8:00 meeting at church followed by our Ward Conference that consisted of an hour and a half sacrament meeting. Luckily I was only asked once by a woman from the stake to politely remove myself, or more specifically my crying child, from the meeting while she volunteered to watch my other children) we came home and relaxed. After much needed naps we built my hammock (another gift from my amazing wife) and enjoyed a beautiful Sunday afternoon. What could be better than this? The highlight was having my little boy fall asleep in my arms as we swayed in the wind. What a beautiful experience, it will be cherished for a very long time.

My final lesson learned is this: I got a very brief glimpse into what life would be like as a single parent and I realized how much I truly take for granted (see all of the previous lessons learned). This experience was no exception. As a single parent, what do you do when you want somebody to take a picture of you doing something cute with your kids? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other small and extremely bigs things like this that make it difficult to be a single parent. They all have my respect. It is not an easy life. One of my saving graces was Katie Pearl, both in this instance and throughout the week. While all of the kids did amazingly well she was especially helpful. In many ways she filled in for Heather, both physically and emotionally. It was interesting to watch how quickly Griffith started to gravitate to her for emotional support and comfort. She always has been, and continues to be, a wonderful big sister to these little gems. I have not doubt that she will easily step into a role that is equally valuable to her future family as Heather is in ours. She will be a powerful and strong mother in Zion (how couldn't she with the role model she has).

In short, although we have survived without "our sun" for several days, we can't wait to be back in her warm glowing light. Hopefully, however, when she does return we will give her the proper respect, admiration, and gratitude that she deserves.

First Recital

Here is a very short video clip from Griffith's first piano recital. We have him in a very advanced Baby Mozart program. The clip is short simply to wet the appetite. If you like what you see send me 19.95 and I can send you an hour long video of him playing this same song for a very long time.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

when I'm feeling blue...

so today was a sad day. I have been busy with the Ward Activities, sick and had sick kids. And I think I was just feeling low of everything. (You know, without anything in my bucket to give, but with a whole lot of dippers taking). Anyway, something happened with my next door neighbors. (don't ask...I'm trying not to gossip) A misunderstanding of sorts, which ended in the neighbor yelling and cursing at me in front of the neighborhood. I know, I know. I bet you thought everyone loves me. Well, guess what. It's not true. And while I shouldn't care, I do, deeply. And as luck would have it, this happened in front of my daughter. Luckily my husband had just taken Baker inside. But I am so sad. I, having no emotional energy left, just started to cry. Then I got angry. I lied on my bed for awhile sobbing my eyes out and trying to figure out how I was going to put on a happy face for the Ward Activity later tonight. I wanted to shout at the Heavens for letting us move here and having such rotten neighbors (mind you, not all) and why couldn't we move (I know, dramatic eh??). And then I started to go back into my grown up self and figure out how to fix this. And I'm not sure it can be. I do struggle with not liking people to be angry at me. I am trying constantly to think what would God do? And all I can come up with right now is that He would at least be proud that I care. That I am sad over this unfortunate misunderstanding. And that he blessed me with a fantastic husband who knew enough to leave me alone for awhile, simply take a kids on a walk, and later remind me that the neighbor is probably embarrassed about what happened. I know, I am lucky to have him as my partner. okay, I've stewed enough. Time to move on and get happy again. After all, I have a Ward Talent Show to get to. Thanks for letting me vent. Heather