Friday, November 14, 2008

Raelin's Birthday

Raelin's birthday was yesterday (the 13th) and she turned 5!! She's been so excited for her birthday. We gave her a calendar so she could cross off the days until the big day. As most of you know, I always have my kids choose what kind of birthday they want and I make a cake to follow their theme. Actually, usually the cake is all that there is to go with the theme, but this year Raelin decided on a Tyrannosaurus Rex birthday and Brice found a bunch of dinosaur stuff at the dollar store. I found some more dino stuff at other places and we had lots of decorations! It was so much fun!The cake was hard to make because she wanted cheesecake. That gave me very little room to work with and I don't usually frost cheesecakes, so we improvised. I used a bunch of different kinds of chips (chocolate, peanut butter, and white chocolate) and some mini M&M's to make a dinosaur head. I should have used all mini M&M's--it would have turned out better with smaller chocolate pieces, but you live and learn. At least it tasted good!

When Raelin and I were working on her birthday menu, I asked her what she wanted for dinner. She said, "Cereal. The kind that's little black balls that Tia likes." She meant Coco Puffs. I told her that she could have that for dinner but that I wasn't going to serve that for everyone because they would probably prefer something a little nicer. I asked her what she thought about a roast in the crock pot or something. She said, "Chicken." I said, "You want a chicken dish made in the crock pot?" She said, "No, I want to eat a chicken leg. A big, big, BIG chicken leg!" and held up her hands about a foot apart. I said, "Oh, you want a TURKEY leg," remembering the Thanksgiving we had when my dad plunked a big turkey leg on her plate to see what she'd do. (Her eyes got really big and she was so excited!) She replied, "Yeah, yeah, yeah!" So turkey and the rest of the traditional Thanksgiving fixin's it is. I just made the turkey and asked family that was coming to bring the rest, which sure made my life easier! Thanks, guys! We had a wonderful feast (all the food was REALLY good!) and Raelin was really happy with her turkey legs (yes, that's plural).
After dinner we tried to digest a little before attempting to squeeze in some cheesecake by opening presents. Raelin got some wonderful gifts and she has had a great time playing with them today. She was even given stewardship of Uncle Liam and Angel's kitty, Motors, until they have a place of their own (they're moving back to California)! Poor kitty hasn't gotten a moment's peace since she arrived. Here's Raelin's reaction to Motors being presented to her:
Raelin sure loves animals! I wonder where she gets that from...

Could it be from her daddy?
Or her mommy?Or maybe Tia and Toby? (their dog even made it to the party!)Or Uncle Jesse?
Okay, this will take forever to find all the pictures I'd need for this list, plus I don't have pictures of everyone's animals, so I'll just list the rest of Raelin's relatives who have animals: William and Angel have a dog and some cats, Aurora and JC have dogs and cats, Mimi and Papa have a dog and a snake, and even Melissa has convinced Wes (who hates animals) to let the kids have cats. My parents don't like animals really, but even they have a dog and horses. So, you see, she was destined to be surrounded by animals. My parents have a hard time understanding our animal mentality, but eventually they'll learn. I told my mom the other day that I was going to get a new dog for my graduation present in April and she punched my shoulder said, "Why don't you finish having KIDS first?" Sorry, Mom, we're just going to have animals. We love them and we will always have them around. And they make Raelin happy. She really wanted a puppy, but for now the stuffed one from Uncle Jesse will have to do. At any rate, Raelin's birthday was a TON of fun and thanks to everyone who contributed to dinner and who gave Raelin such wonderful and thoughtful gifts! And a big happy birthday to our five year old girl, Raelin!

Ryker's Wild Ride

So, Ryker's been ready to learn to ride a two wheeler for a while now, but Brice and I haven't had time to work with him on it. Yesterday, Brice took a few minutes to take off the training wheels and help him and he took off! He can balance pretty well, but not quite enough to steer well. So he crashes a LOT (but then again, he crashes a lot no matter what.) He's fallen enough times that he's starting to get scared, but he's so close! Today it took about 7 video attempts to get a good one because as soon as I'd let go, he'd petal about three feet and then stop. But here's one good one:
video

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Venting

Am I boring you all with my complaining yet? Well, here I go again. So I'm taking parenting classes and socialization classes and moral development classes, but really, nobody has much of anything practical to offer in the way of discipline for three year olds. One of my teachers was talking about authoritative parenting (the good parenting style) the other day and said that using induction (talking with your child and getting them to think and to figure out how their behavior makes others feel) is the best way to fix behavior, but that it is more like money in the bank and it pays off in the long run, while authoritarian parenting (the least damaging, not-good style that usually involves punitive measures such as spanking, punishing, and scolding) gets immediate results. So I asked, "What if I need a fix right now, today, can't wait, must fix this behavior before the child is 10? What does an authoritative parent do then?" My teacher totally skirted the issue!!! And it's not the first time I have asked this type of question and received the same type of response. SO FRUSTRATING! Especially since I really needed an immediate fix to the situation that occurred this weekend. We were at a gas station and the kids were playing on the grass. Suddenly, Ryker looked at me, smiled and hopped through the fence and bolted towards Bangerter Hwy! Me and my pregnant self ran, screaming at him to stop, to the fence and leaped over it (it was chest-high--yeah, I was REALLY sore for a day or two afterward) and chased down that naughty little boy, who, by this time had turned to see what kind of commotion he was able to cause and sat smiling angelically on the grass, clearly amused. I was clearly not amused and Ryker's backside found that out right quick! But tell me, those of you authoritative parents out there, what would you have done? Because according to all the parenting research out there, I just increased the chance that my son will be aggressive, dependent, passive, anxious, and conforming. I have a really hard time swallowing the idea that punishment is bad. I don't think that love is the only thing you need to raise good children. It's definitely a key component that you cannot do without, but I don't understand and no one can explain to me (even experts in the field at BYU) how you can set limits for your children without punishing. Not everything has a natural consequence! And I definitely don't want Ryker to learn the natural consequence of running into traffic! I don't think it works to just love them into wanting to be good. I've never seen it work. I could love that boy with all my little heart, but he would still want to test out his power and see what gets my goat; that's how kids are. And if nothing ruffles my feathers, he'll just keep trying until he finds something, or he will think that it's okay for him to be naughty because Mommy just loved him and distracted him and that was it. Another of my pet peeves is the distraction technique. Well, not the technique per se, but the idea that it should be the sole form of discipline for young children. I don't believe that distraction teaches anything; it just avoids the problem for the moment so you can readdress it again later. And then again. And again. And again. Until you finally DO something about it. So, for cryin out loud, what is the DO part of parenting that gets results that stick for today, tomorrow and ten years from now? I know this is a long rant and that most of you probably quit reading long ago (I don't blame you), but for those of you still reading, what do you do? What works? I really do think that the literature is flawed (and I hope to be a contributing factor in fixing that one day). I believe that there is a component to parenting called punishment and that it can be healthy, effective, associated with positive outcomes, done with love (not coercion), and that it can actually work to fix behavior now and in the future. I just don't know how to do it. Do you?Hard to believe that this innocent little boy could be the source of a near heart attack isn't it!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

74 days to go! Woohoo! --->

Or oh, NO! It depends on the day; or rather, the moment (I'm pregnant, remember?). I'm starting to get apprehensive about labor. Labor sucks. I guess I need to read more of the pain free childbirth philosophies and try to stay positive. I could just try to get there early enough to get an epidural, but my stubborn pride... Being tough is about the most fundamental aspect of my personality. Ever since I was a little kid I've had to be tough. That includes my first cavity when I could feel EVERYTHING, but didn't say a word (who knew you could ask for more Novocain?). It didn't help that the dentist was a family friend that had known me from the day I was born. I had a reputation to protect! It also includes the time I skinned my knee REALLY bad at school; so bad that it actually did make me cry, but I had to go hide to do it. And my childhood crowning achievement: I skinned my knee really bad (again. But the other knee this time; I know because I still have both of the scars) at my friend's house and writhed in pain in my seat the whole way home without shedding a tear. When we got home and my dad saw it in the light, he said, "Wow, that's really bad! I'm surprised you didn't cry!" That one comment made it all worth it. I'd do it 10 more times if it meant my dad would be impressed. You see how demented I am!? So, yeah. I'm a glutton for punishment. I'm not too prideful to take the epidural; just too prideful to take it unless I NEED it. Okay, enough complaining. Here's the pregnant belly picture:Okay, one more complaint. Can we say "farmer's tan?" Can you even call that a tan? More like white and off white. I don't think I'll ever be able to approach anything you could categorize as tan. No, wait, that's not my complaint. Here it is:

Why do I look so huge? I'm 29 and a half weeks along. I have several friends that are due right around the same time as I am and none of them look like this! I win hands down (or is it lose?). Somehow I'm still within the target range of weight gain (how that's possible is beyond me), but look at that baby gut! And it is the wiggliest thing ever. I wouldn't be surprised if the baby was born strong enough to crawl. I actually have a spot on my abdomen that feels bruised today! Joking aside, though, this pregnancy has been easier overall than the others were. I still have all the same ailments, just less frequently or less intense. Hopefully things continue to follow that pattern through till delivery. Only 10 weeks to go! Actually, if the pattern does continue, it will be more like 8 weeks... We'll see.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Halloween Festivities

My wonderful mom made costumes for the kids this year. When I was a kid, she made our costumes every year. I want to carry on the tradition because I just think homemade costumes make the holiday more of a production and kids like that. But this year, I was going to settle for store-bought ones because there was no way Brice or I were going to find the time to make anything. Then my mom offered to make them some costumes and saved the day! Raelin wanted to be a leopard and Ryker wanted to be a tiger (they each have a special stuffed animal of the animal they wanted to be--too bad they missed the photo shoot!). The costumes turned out amazing and the kids loved them!I did make myself a costume, but it was pretty simple. I didn't end up getting any pictures of it on my camera, but I know my family got pictures of it, so I'll post them when I get them. Brice found an old suit, some spurs, a perfect hat, and a gun holster for his costume and he looked great! I'll post pictures of him in his costume when I get them from the fam as well.

The night before Halloween, the kids and I went to BYU for their Halloween party and the kids had a great time there. They got to go fishing and throw balls inside (to knock over bottles and to hit a velcro target) and play in a bounce house. They had a costume parade and a little golf course.
I loved Raelin's golf technique: sit on the floor and push the ball through the hole with the club.

After the party, we had some time to kill before Brice could come pick us up, so we ate dinner at the Cougareat. I discovered that Raelin has a natural gift for using chopsticks! I didn't even tell her what to do; she just watched me for a second and she had it! We have been quite the spectacle for the last few years at Halloween. My parents come down to go trick or treating and Jordan, Gina and Toby, and William, Angel, and Liam also join us. This year we had the usual crew plus Uncle Jesse, but minus Uncle Toby and Uncle Jordan. And we also had Jesse and Gina's dogs. It's pretty funny to see all those grown ups traipsing around to take just three little kids trick or treating. At least most of us dress up, even the dogs!
Liam the dinosaur. He had a great ROAR!
I'll get some more pictures from Halloween night and post them when I do, but these are all the ones from my camera. Except! Oh! I almost forgot pumpkin carving! Usually we have a pumpkin carving party up at my parents house before Halloween, but with my mom working and us in school, we've just been too busy. So we carved pumpkins Halloween night.
I'm still working on figuring out this new kind of pumpkin carving--it's more like pumpkin sculpting. It's pretty fun, but time consuming and I don't get a whole lot of practice, seeing as pumpkin-carving season comes but once a year...This witch was a joint effort between my dad and William. Turned out pretty good, don't you think?
(Sorry, my camera takes pretty crummy pictures unless the lighting is perfect)

This one is Brice's.

And this one is Grammie's.

And this is a puppy carved by Raelin.

Once again, Ryker was way to tired to maintain control, especially around sharp objects, so he took a nap in preparation for trick or treating and carved (AKA stabbed) a pumpkin the next day.

Raelin's Special Day

Raelin's school has special days for each of the kids where they get to be first at things and they get to bring things from home for show-and-tell. Raelin's special day was last week and Ryker and I went and spent the day with her at school. She told the class about her guys (stuffed animals) that she had brought and she got to be the leader for a couple of activities. Ryker loves going to Raelin's school and he had a great time too. Raelin's teachers are so nice and they let Ryker participate with the class.
The class did some Halloween projects that day. They made pumpkins that puff up as they dry (some mixture of shaving cream, glue, and paint) and they made lanterns with pumpkin faces on them. The kids had a great time. Raelin has gotten some pretty great compliments from her teachers this week. They tell us that Raelin is a great friend. She plays with every kid in her class. She even tries to play with one little girl that won't really play with anyone else and even though that girl doesn't want to play, Raelin keeps trying. Raelin also plays a lot with a little girl that doesn't speak any English. They giggle and laugh together and I'm sure Raelin tries to speak her Spanish-babble to her. She told me she sings the songs she knows in Spanish to the other girl (she likes to sing Love One Another in Spanish). What a sweet kid! I love it! We've got to get working a bit more on the Spanish around here...

Halloween Crafts and the Crazy Tomato Plant

So, I feel really bad not being with my kids very much because of school. I miss them a lot. My first semester, I was only gone two days a week and I was usually able to get most of my homework done between classes. This semester I have class three days a week and they are pretty much back to back from 9:00 in the morning until almost 6:00 at night. And then I still have homework to do. So I really wanted to do some fun stuff with the kids for all the holidays coming up. Here are some of the Halloween things we did:

Rice Crispy Treat Monsters:

And sugar cookies:

What a happy kid!!

Ryker also helped with this project during the mixing, rolling, cutting, and tasting parts. But by the time frosting time came around he was just too tired. Poor kid has really suffered from our crazy schedule this semester. He gets woken up too early and his naps are all messed up. He gets to a point where he's just a complete mess. So he missed out on frosting the cookies, but he loved using the cookie cutters and rolling pin.

Now for the tomato plant. Look at this thing!

This first picture really doesn't do it justice, but you can see how it's encroaching on the walkway. In the spring when I was planting stuff, I had an extra little seedling that was going to die if I didn't find a place for it. I was out of room in the garden, but the flower bed had a little spot, so I just stuck it in the ground. The thing must have gotten the best little spot of ground because it grew and grew and GREW. It was probably at least six feet in diameter and was just an enormous tangled mass of green branches and leaves. When it started to freeze, Brice pulled it out of the ground because it was taking over the walkway and the tomatoes were dying from the frost anyway. I had Brice hold it up for a picture and you can see on his face how heavy this thing was!"Quick!! Take the picture already!!"

Our Future Pilot

So, a while back Ryker kept saying he was a bad guy. Raelin would get all frustrated and tell him he wasn't a bad guy and I have to admit that it irked me a bit too that he always wanted to be a bad guy. Then one day it occurred to me (thanks to all my child development classes) to ask him what he meant. So I said, "Ryker, what is a bad guy?" and he said, "A pilot that kills mean wolves." Well, okay then, go ahead and be a "bad guy" if that's what it means! So since then he talks a lot about being a pilot when he grows up. And he practices all the time in his "airplane":