Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas I: Crafting

I guess I bring the craziness upon myself, planning a family activity every night each day through the month of December, but I just want so badly to create special Christmas family memories that it's possible that I may over do it a teeny tiny bit. When I look back on my camera roll, I'm really amazed at how many activities and events that we've squeezed into the first three weeks of December. I've also realized (must be a slow-learner) that even when I plan, prepare, and facilitate a fun-filled activity with the most pure intentions of creating a memorable family moment, chances are high that there will still be fighting (over really important things like who gets to sit in which seat), there will still be fussing and crankiness (even though Aaron means well;) and I will still end up feeling fed up and exasperated by the whole experience. I've finally come to learn that, try as I may (and I do!), I can't make people have a good time, so I just have to go with it. Anyways, I hope in all of the craziness that is my attempt to build tradition the boys will remember all of the time we spent crafting, decorating, partying, and eating....together. 

Christmas I:  Crafting 

Though they be rough and tumble, these boys do enjoy a good craft. First, we made wreath ornaments for the boys to give to their school teachers and primary teachers using beads and pipe cleaners. This activity, using fine motor skills to thread the beads in a patterned sequence, was right up Ben's alley...he enjoyed the activity so much he didn't want to give his wreaths away:)

We dropped the ball on sending out birthday cards, but made up for it by making Christmas cards!

It's interesting how the boys' personalities emerged in their gingerbread house decorating. Hank raced through his decorating haphazardly but felt accomplished for finishing first. Max took his time and paid careful attention to detail but also wanted help to make sure the candied were placed just right. Ben began by sorting out each candy by color and then only applied red candies and was careful not to touch the frosting with his fingers. Joey was hysterical waiting for his house to be constructed--he needed to do the same thing everyone else was doing--but really was only interested in eating the candy, placing a few wet abc candies on his house. 

Do Not Try This At Home

If you ever want to get a really good workout, here is a sure-fire way to boost your heart rate and get an immediate adrenaline rush: just put on your workout clothes and head to the gym as usual (in this case the church building for a bi-weekly cardio class) and then frantically dial 9-1-1 and rush by ambulance to the hospital when you're four-year-old unintentionally pulls your baby to the floor, causing the baby to have a seizure and pass out. Instant calorie burn! Seriously, I think the stress of holding a non-breathing, convulsing baby in my arms may have shaved off a few years of my life. Rocky is pretty accustomed to rough play and gets pulled down, wrestled, and/or smothered about 5.2 million times per day, so it's a bit of a mystery how this ordinary chain of events produced such a scary result...I guess Rocky must have knocked his head right on the sweet spot and got knocked out. In any event, we were relieved when his CT came back clear. With a little pain-killer and a big nap this tough guy was good as new!

***Poor thing was M-A-D about getting immobilized in the ambulance, having an oxygen mask put on his face, and getting prodded at by weird doctors. I took this photo after he was finally given a tranquilizer so that he would cooperate with a CT scan.

Character Counts

Is it weird that when Hank brought home this Student of the Month award I may have shed a little tear? If there is one thing I value and appreciate, it's hard work, so I couldn't be more proud of Hank being recognized for his hard work and determination.

*in case you're keeping count, that's two Grover Student of the Month recipients this year! Way to go!

Teeth Tales

We've got teeth all over the place....teeth falling out, teeth growing in, teeth missing, baby teeth, big teeth, straight teeth, and crooked teeth (dang it!). 

The other day, Max was laying down resting after school. I just happened to walk by and glimpse two bottom teeth growing in. This would have been a cause to celebrate, except his baby teeth were still taking up residence in the same space...and not showing any signs of leaving anytime soon. My imagination immediately envisioned those permanent teeth growing in sideways from being crammed in there, so, poor Max, I threatened to have the dentist yank it out if he didn't wiggle the baby teeth free himself by the end of the day. I guess Max felt motivated by my threat because he started wiggling that tooth this way and that until it was least loose enough for Aaron to yank it out that night. I feel a little guilty that Max's first experience with losing a tooth was so traumatizing, but he'll thank me later when he has a beautiful, straight smile.

Then there is Rocky, who seems to be growing in teeth left and right...literally. He's got some teeth on the left, and some teeth on the right, but missing the one front and center! Soon enough this little smile will fill in, but I'm actually enjoying this quirky little grin right now.

Basketball Whiz

Is he handsome or what? Max was a superstar in his very first season of basketball. At one point during a game Max had scored so many baskets (7, I believe), that Coach Aaron implemented a rule whereby Max was required to pass three times before he was allowed to shoot, just to keep things even a bit. It does help that Max is a good six inches taller than the other kids;) It won't be long before the league gets intense and Max will have to step it up to be able to compete, so I'm just enjoying this little early phase now where my kid is a natural standout and he leaves every game feeling like an MVP. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Monkeys in My Bed

While Aaron was out of town, these little monkeys joined me for a slumber party in my bed. Even though they were bummed that Aaron left us for the weekend, our slumber-party tradition gives them something special to look forward to. Plus, how could I get scared with all these tough body guards surrounding me? As it turned out, I didn't have the most restful night (see Thanksgiving post below), but they actually slept like champs. 

Cousin Craziness

I guess because of geographic distance, range in ages (I'm the youngest by several years), and religious differences, I never developed any kind of a relationship with my cousins. From the looks of things on Facebook, which is the extent of my contact with extended family, it seems that I've missed out of getting to know some genuinely good people. Although it wasn't really within my control as a kid, I do regret not having that additional layer of family network and support. Anyways, I guess that's why I'm always a little surprised at how easily it seems my kids take to playing with their cousins. I hope they'll always enjoy getting together with their cousins and develop life-long friendships together.

Fun For All Ages

It's tricky to find an activity that appeals to toddlers and Nanas and Papas and every age in between. Bowling was a big hit for all! I'm not proud to say that I legitimately got beat by my four-year-old (next time I get to use the bumpers, too!), but it really was a treat for everyone to participate in a fun activity together.

Check out his score...Benny bowled 103! 

Giving Thanks

My mom and I make a pretty mean team in the kitchen. We actually had all of our dishes prepped and ready by mid-morning and then just relaxed until it was time for the big feast. The food this Thanksgiving was hands down the best thanksgiving meal to date. In fact, Papa Grover declared that the turkey was the best he's ever had! High praise! Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling my best and couldn't find the energy to participate in the cooking preparations as much as I would have liked, but there is no one more capable to leave in command than my mom. I'm so glad we got to share the occasion and the feast with some of our favorite people. The kids were in cousin heaven--the boys barely surfaced from playing in the basement long enough to drink some pop and eat a fresh roll and then ran back down for more rough housing. 

Just in case I hadn't fully appreciated my good fortune in life, family, and health, the Saturday after Thanksgiving our company returned home, Aaron had to handle some matters out of town, and I was left alone, just me, the five boys, and a whammy of a stomach flu! Lying on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night, clinging to dear life, sure has a way of humbling you real quick! Since that nightmarish episode, I'm definitely counting my strong body and good general health on my list of blessings. Speaking seriously though of blessings, my cup runneth over and my heart is full of gratitude for my blessings--the six men that comprise my whole world, and the crazy life we've built together. I am blessed indeed. Happy Thanksgiving!


Have you ever seen the movie, "Lilo and Stitch?" It's about this little part-teddy bear, part-Tasmanian devil creature, Stitch, that becomes adopted by a little girl named Lilo. Stitch is cute and lovable, but his curiousity and playfulness seem to keep getting him into mischief. Well, I'm pretty sure the character of Stitch was conceived, both in appearance and personality, based on my two-year-old, Joey. Joey is just the cutest little guy, but boy does he have a precocious, playful little personality! I often have to remind myself that Joey is only 2 because he has the vocabulary of an adult and the independence of a big kid. He can be feisty, but I love my sweet Joey Bear.

Edited: this awesome incident involving Joey and a bottle of red nail polish occurred just hours after I wrote this post. See what I mean? So mischievous, yet so stinking cute at the same time!

Straight 4s

Hank and Max both brought home straight 4s on their report cards so we decided to cash in their perfect grades for free donuts at Krispy Kreme and free tokens at Boondocks! I think this just might become a new tradition! Keep those 4s coming!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


The logical, reasonable side of my brain knew that when we received the results from Ben's audiology exam, confirming severe unilateral hearing loss, that I shouldn't feel upset because this isn't new information (the injury causing the hearing loss occurred four years ago). But the mommy side of my brain, which has clearly taken over all other higher thinking parts of my brain, just hurt for the little boy who already battles so many challenges. My stomach felt punched and the deck seemed stacked. I still haven't fully digested what this new diagnosis entails and how it will unfold in his continuing development, but it has made me look at Ben with an even deeper sense of pride and admiration. Ben just keeps trucking right along, completely and mercifully unaware of his own hardships. Yesterday he opened his "suitcase" and put on his own glasses and stated, without the least bit of self-pity or bitterness, "my glasses help my eyes to see." I pray everyday that his burdens will be made light, but I'm beginning to understand that this may be one of those instances when the Lord has chosen, instead of lightening the load, to strengthen Ben's part by blessing him with four loving, kind, and compassionate brothers.


When I signed Ben up for an Itty-Bitty Ball basketball class, I knew there were several different ways this class could turn out. I was prepared to have to hold his hand the entire class while he warmed up to the coaches and new surrounding. I was expecting to have to bribe him to participate with M&Ms. I was planning on him refusing to leave the security of a chair and his beloved Legos. But I was NOT prepared for him to forget all about me and run along and join all the other kids like it was no big deal, running, laughing, and having a great time! Half the time Ben preferred to roll on top of the ball on his tummy rather than shoot it in the basket...but it's ok because we didn't sign up for basketball to play basketball anyways! We signed up for basketball so that Ben could enjoy some physical activity, develop confidence in himself, gain more experience practicing his social skills, and because I wanted him to feel like he has his own "thing" that merits our support. The fact that he has a pretty solid little shot is just a bonus:)

Monday, November 24, 2014

First Steps

Most kids follow the standard developmental progression of milestones from crawling, to pulling up, to cruising, to finally walking. Rocky did the crawling and the pulling up, but he decided to throw in a little extra milestone into the progression: hopping. After anxiously watching Rocky find his balance we prepared to witness his first steps. Instead of putting one foot in front of the other, he bounced himself forward on two feet in a series of cute little bunny hops! What a funny boy! With the hopping only getting him so far, he's finally begun to take real steps! I'd probably feel a little woeful about my baby becoming a walker if it wasn't the cutest thing on earth to watch. 


Before we had kids, Aaron and I used to joke that with the orthodontic issues between our two families, chances were good our kids' teeth would grow in with the bottoms on the top and the tops on the bottom. Miraculously, our boys have lucked out with beautifully spaced, straight baby teeth...until now. Rocky's bottom two teeth popped up right on schedule around 11 months, but then right on Halloween Day, he cut his first upper tooth: a fang! No front teeth, just one little sharp fang in the corner. In the past few weeks, the fang has dropped into place nicely and the second upper tooth, the right front tooth, has also cut through, but he's still missing one front tooth! I'm only partially joking, given the genetics at play, about being concerned that his left fang and right center tooth ARE his two front teeth. I love this quirky little smile!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Bonanza

Prologue: Some friends of ours invited Aaron and I to an adult Halloween costume party. Now, I like to think of myself as a fun, semi-outgoing person, but I immediately felt anxiety about this event. Aaron and I are not Halloween people. We don't hang cobwebs and creepy spiders from our front porch, we don't enjoy spooking ourselves with haunted houses (I still have nightmares from the scariest movie I've ever watched--Jurassic Park), and just don't like the dark vibe of the holiday in general. Added to that, the thought of dressing up in a goofy costume goes against my firm personal rule about avoiding embarrassing situations at all costs. Misgivings aside, I really didn't want to disappoint our friends and I knew we'd take some heat if we didn't attend. And so we stewed about it and debated about it...what should have been a really fun thing became something that we agonized over: torn between the primal instinct to avoid foolish situations and the desire to reciprocate friendship. We dragged our feet long enough that the decision to skip the party was made by default. Sitting alone in front of the tv, while a killer party was raging next door, I realized that we'd had the perfect costumes all along and never even knew it! We could come as we are, dressed in our sweat pants and hoodies, and go as anti-socials! It'd fit us perfectly! This anecdote has absolutely nothing to do with tonight's trick-or-treating bonanza, but I thought it would provide insight into our attitude towards thank-you on the creepy/tacky decorations and foolish costumes, yes please on the candy!

The boys got warmed up for trick or treating at Nana Grover's ward party, our ward party, and Nana Grover's neighborhood trunk or treat. By the time the main event rolled around, we'd already amassed an impressive amount of candy and even the little guys were getting the hang of trick or treating. 

Halloween may not be my most favorite holiday, but I did love watching the magic and wonderment as the boys raced from house to house, like slipping down the rabbit hole, where for one day you CAN dress crazy, eat whatever you want, and stay out late. 

Can you tell which candy was Ben's favorite? If someone handed him anything other than an M&M, he'd decline and hand it back.

Grover Special

You know how when you go to In N Out there are just five things on the menu? Don't ask for a mushroom Swiss burger or a bacon guacamole burger because they don't have it. Nope, they just stick to what they know and focus on doing those few things really well. If you want gourmet you have to go somewhere else. Well, that's kind of how it is with Aaron as our pumpkin carver. You've got five basic carving options: round, triangle, square, diamond, and crescent if he's feeling really creative. Other people may be ripping off ideas from Pinterest or downloading templates on Google, but Aaron just likes to crank out the tried and true jack 'o lanterns. I'm not really in a position to complain since I deemed pumpkin carving a "dad job," and the boys seemed pretty pleased with their generic pumpkin faces, so I guess I'll just order up the Grover Special and be happy.