Sunday, March 30, 2014

My (C)hunk!

I didn't know it was possible for a person to look this cute. I am completely and totally in love with this chunky little guy.

Hank's Diorama

Based on all of the absurd and outrageous Valentine Boxes made by Hank's classmates ( 's mothers), I was nervous about how high the bar was set when Hank's teacher announced a habitat diorama assignment shared by all five second grade classes. Despite my limited artistic abilities, Hank and I worked really hard on his diorama (and I can honestly say that Hank did 90% of the work himself), complete with gummy worm "rattlesnakes" and gummy fruit slice "cacti", and I can report (only a little smugly) that his habitat was one of the best in his my opinion anyway.

The Farm

After living here for two-plus years, we decided it was finally time to bite the bullet and buy a family membership to Thanksgiving Point. Among other amenities, our pass allows us admission to the working farm where we can feed farm animals, ride ponies, and take a wagon ride. Earlier in the day I had asked Ben how he felt about riding horses (since he wasn't so keen on them during his hippotherapy experience) and he said, "Excited!" I was curious to see whether he understood the meaning of my question and how he would really react when I took Max, Ben, Joey, and Rocky to the farm with Mindy and her littlest girls that afternoon. Sure enough, the boys all loved riding the ponies! In fact, when his turn was over, Ben began sobbing so hard that I thought he had gotten hurt somehow and didn't realize until I questioned him that he was just sad that his ride was over. Luckily, with our membership, we can go back to the farm again anytime we want!

Sore Thumb

Las Vegas is a cRaZy place. Although I've visited there many times, I can never seem to get over the excess, the gluttony, the filth, and the worldliness that IS Las Vegas. Picture this: The strip is lined with massive hotels bejeweled with sparkling chandeliers, fountains, and floor-to-ceiling murals that contain shopping centers, restaurants, clubs, theaters, rollercoasters, and, of course, casinos inside. The casinos are bustling with flashing strobe lights from slot machines, game tables, and jumbotron TVs and wreak with cigarette smoke and the mingling of so many people dressed in their finest/scandal-iest. Though sunny, the sidewalks are packed with pedestrians in various stages of inebriation, pan-handlers dressed in bizarre costumes and holding tip jars, and benign-looking women passing out pornographic flyers and advertisements. Then picture me: pink cardigan-wearing, mother of five, stroller-pushing, straight from Utah conservative mom. I could not be more proud to say that I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb while I accompanied Aaron on his business trip to Sin City. Prior to our trip, I had been contemplating the visiting teaching message about reflecting the light of Christ and living in such a way as to be a match in a dark place, so I actually found it both amusing and complimentary every time a stranger would ask me (and I was asked often) if I needed help and whether I was lost. You would think that in such a blaringly loud, colorful, anything-goes place it would take major effort to stand out, but I seemed to draw attention everywhere I went...I'd like to think by radiating something different, something wholesome. At one point, I was in an elevator, returning to my hotel room, when a stranger asked Aaron and I where we were from. When we responded that we are from Utah, the stranger looked at us, me holding Rocky, and said, "shouldn't you have five kids in tow?" He laughed when I told him that Rocky IS number five and that we left our other four at home with grandma.

Since Aaron was occupied all day with his business conference, Rocky and I spent our time hanging out and exploring with Nana Z. We didn't venture very far or do anything especially exciting, but it was a treat to spend a little time with my mom.

I loved getting to spend some one-on-one time with Rocky and devote all of my attention to just one little boy, instead of dividing myself five ways.

One night I borrowed my Dad's ID badge so that I could join Aaron for a private concert featuring Journey! Partying with a bunch of middle-aged business men, listening to 70s rock music, was about as crazy as our trip got.

Hogle Zoo

When the sun peaked out a few weekends ago, we decided it was the perfect chance to use our Hogle Zoo season passes that Nana and Papa Z gave us for Christmas.Under the best of circumstances, taking the gang to the zoo is definitely an outing, but our trip was actually unexpectedly pleasant! Since the springtime isn't the peak season, we actually got to see the animals in the exhibits instead of cramming into the crowd packed with people and the weather was perfectly temperate instead of swelteringly hot. I really enjoyed watching Joey's expression and excitement and his connected the animals that we point out in his picture books with the real thing up close.

Right Hand Man (or kid)

Hank is so good-natured about helping me and helping his brothers that it's easy to forget that he is only seven.

Although I'm certain it would be easier and more efficient to do it myself, I have come to really enjoy and look forward to "cooking lessons" with my boys on Sunday afternoon. I love to have company in the kitchen and share my love for cooking and food.

When I'm in a hurry, Hank is always willing to hold and feed Rocky so I can get shoes tied, lunches made, or coats zipped.

I love this candid moment of Hank trying to teach Max how to tie his own shoes before church. 


Whenever I send Aaron to Walmart with a grocery list of just the essentials, he manages to slip in a few goodies that were NOT on the shopping list. This time, Aaron found an end of the season coat on clearance that was too cheap to pass up. I guess poor Max has become accustomed to getting Hank's hand-me-downs because when I showed Max this new coat, he asked, "whose was this?" and couldn't believe it when I told him that we bought a NEW coat just for him! No previous owner or anything. Max has worn that coat in the past few weeks with such pride....worth every cent of that $7 Walmart clearance coat!

Aside from his take-home outfit that he wore home from the hospital, this little sleeper is the first new outfit Rocky has ever worn. It seems almost wasteful to buy clothes when they will only get used once! The only reason we broke down and bought this new jammie is because this little rascal soiled his pants so badly while we were in the middle of grocery shopping that we had to strip him down right then and there and bought the first thing we could find off the rack. Rocky doesn't seem to care that he is the final recipient of hand-me-downs four times over.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Family Retreat

We happened to have a voucher for a free night at the Marriott that Aaron and I had already secretly booked for a family over-nighter this weekend, but when Hank brought home a flawless report card, we brilliantly decided to "reward" him with a sleepover at the hotel. We had no sooner broken the news to the boys before Max got busy packing. No need for socks and underwear, he brought the know, his blanky and pillow pet:

When we arrived at the hotel, the seven of us stuffed into a 100 square foot room, the boys cranky from hunger yet bouncing off the walls with energy, Aaron questioned the intelligence of our idea. Let's be honest, doing just about anything with five little boys is a lot of work, but taking them away from their environment, out of their routine, getting them all excited about swimming and playing, and then feeding them full of junk food and keeping them up late is basically a recipe for disaster.

We solved the hunger issue by ordering pizza and then Aaron took Hank, Max, and Joey for an evening swim while I hung back at the room with Rocky and Ben, who was adamant in his decision to play with his Legos and "go na-night" and wanted nothing to do with swimming.

After their swim session, we put on a movie and pigged out on junk food. With Hank and Max sharing a roll-away, Rocky tucked into his pack-and-play, Joey in a makeshift bed on the floor, and Ben plunking himself down in bed between Aaron and I, I was prepared for a rough night. Lo and behold, everyone slept great!

The next morning we feasted on donuts and then hit the pool early for another swimming session...and a magical moment ensued. Hank and Max splashed wildly for hours, cannon-balling off the side of the pool, blowing their pool noodles like spouts at each other, and doggie paddling in the perimeter of the pool. Joey clung to Aaron like a little...uh, Joey clings to a kangaroo, just happy to be along for the ride. Ben wasn't even slightly interested in the pool, but was pleased to find some disposable paper cups that he was able to count, sort, and stack. Rocky kept me company while I dipped my toes in the hot tub and soaked in the whole scene. For as encumbering as it can be to lug our family of seven around on our everyday comings and goings, what made that moment at the pool magical was that it felt...effortless. We shared an experience together, as a family, and it didn't feel like work. It didn't feel like a chore. It didn't feel like a job. It felt like fun! I needed that. I needed to be reminded that although taking care of these boys can often feel like a difficult task, my kids are really cool people. People that I really like to be with.

My Boyfriend

My favorite thing about Rocky right now is the way that he just stares at me like I am his entire world. He will lock his little blue eyes on mine and just study me with such interest and intensity until we both break out in giggles. I just love feeling his pure little spirit connecting through those bright little eyes.

Not the best photo, but this is how I find Rocky most often these finger hooked in his mouth.

Rocky isn't quite sitting up yet, but he can balance for a few minutes before he topples over.

I get a little nervous sometimes when the boys unintentionally play a little too rough with Rocky, but he seems to like being one of the boys--he loves it when they get right in his face to coo to him, rub noses together, or give him big bounces in the bouncer.

Spring Time

Some people mark the change of season from winter to spring by the appearance of early bulbs poking through the soil, the grass beginning to turn green again, or the first buds of leaves growing on the trees...I know its spring time when the ground softens enough for the boys to start digging. It's digging time! The temperature is only clearing 50, but the boys pull on their boots, grab their shovels, and start digging. I'm not going to switch to flip-flops just yet, but I do love spring's early taste of playing outdoors.