Sunday, May 29, 2011

Joy School Graduation

Although I forgot to bring my camera, I wanted to mention Booker's graduation from Joy School. Our first experience with Joy School this year was a huge success. I can't wait to do it again with Ike. It really is a wonderful program and I think we lucked out with a FANTASTIC group of kids. Booker made some lifelong buddies and the best part is that they all live right in the neighborhood.

Awhile back, the mother of one of his Joy School friends told me that her son Dax had mentioned that he wishes that Booker lived closer. They literally live across the street and one house down from us! Aside from making some great friends, Booker has grown leaps and bounds because of the things he's learned in Joy School. Things that will prepare him to be a happy and confident little grade schooler.

He came home from his graduation party with a DVD of photos from the year. I can't tell you how many times we've watched that DVD since he got it. Thank you to all the amazing Joy School moms who made this such a great year!


The guys.

The gals.

Umbilical Hernia

Two of my best friends had babies just weeks after Asher was born. Even though they haven't met each other yet, I have a feeling that Asher, Felix and Elise are going to be good buddies. In fact, when Jen blogged about little Felix's webbed toes, I just knew that he and Asher were two peas in a pod. One defective little pod.

You see, what we thought was just a major outie belly button, is actually an umbilical hernia. It's usually harmless and should correct itself in a few years, but yowser! It's really weird looking.

So Elise, what are YOU hiding... a third nipple? A vestigial tail? Or are you as perfect and adorable as your pictures suggest? I think I need to meet you in person and decide for myself.



And it pertrudes even more when he cries.

Preschool Graduation

First day of preschool, August 2010.

Last day of preschool, May 2011.

Booker came home from his preschool graduation with a memory book and a journal and I wish I could scan every single page and put them on here. According to his memory book, when he started preschool in August he was 42.5 inches tall and 39 pounds heavy. He now measures 44.5 inches tall and 39 pounds heavy. One year, two inches, no weight gained. Sounds about right.

Throughout the year, his teacher Miss Amber asked him questions and recorded the answers. And while I plan on saving his memory book forever and ever and ever, I'm a little worried about what might become of those questions and answers. Booker insists on sleeping with his memory book at night like it's a stuffed animal. So for posterity's sake...

Why do you come to preschool?
Because I like the toys here.

What makes you feel happy inside?
Playing Star Wars.

If you could choose a new name for yourself, what would it be and why?
I like Booker.

Daddy always says...
"Go to sleep."

What happens at your house after you go to bed?
Mom and dad stay up and watch their show.

What do you want to do when you grow up?
I don't know.

What is your favorite food that your mom or dad makes you at home? How is it made?
Chicken... She cooks it and then she takes it out of the oven and we all eat it.

What makes someone beautiful?
Wearing a skirt.

Why is the sky blue?
Cause God chose that color. God chose it to be blue.

Why do we celebrate Christmas?
Cause when it's Christmas we celebrate it. We decorate up the tree.

How do shows end up on TV?
Cause you turn it on. You put on the name you want.

What is love?
Love means happy.

What does your dad do at work?
He works!

What does your mom do all day?
Work. Cleans up the house. That's all she does.

What do you know how to do that you can teach to others?

What would you do with $100?
Buy a big toy.

His journal is full of pictures he drew throughout the year of the major events in his life. Pictures like the one above titled, "This is where we went to... To Cairo then Turkey and then Tucson." Which is actually a pretty good depiction of what that trip felt like. And other pictures about when Dee Dee ate Bentley's chickens (Bentley is his friend), playing light sabers with Uncle Chris, when Asher was born, when Baba came to visit, camping and going in a cave with Dad, and that time when he went on a bear hunt and attacked the bear with a sword (?!?) You know, the big stuff.

Booker had a fabulous year with the most fabulous teacher a mom could ask for. I wish he could stay in preschool forever. Seriously. You can head on over to the boys' blog for some cute video footage of his class singing songs and performing a little play.



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Day in the Life..

A few years ago, one of my younger brothers asked me what exactly I did all day long as a stay at home mom. I wasn't sure how to answer and I guess I didn't answer to his satisfaction because he looked at me in semi-disgust and told me to just get a job already. He was 17 at the time and if he were to ask me again today, I would answer with a play by play of the day's events. Then I would ask him if he would babysit for me so I could go get a pedicure.

So here you go, a day in the life of Margaret...

6:00 am Nurses Asher. Rolls Asher over to Clark's side of the bed. Praises Clark for being a morning person.

7:30 Wakes up for the day.

7:35 Wanders downstairs, participates in family prayer, says goodbye to Clark.

7:38 Eats a bowl of cereal, wanders upstairs, gets dressed, makes bed, collects dirty diapers that have gathered in various places during the night. Grabs clothes for Booker and Asher. Ike's already dressed, I'm assuming he had an accident before I got up.

7:45 Makes sure everyone is dressed and fed. Empties out Ike's froggy potty downstairs and his Elmo potty upstairs. Tries to ignore the bomb of a mess that has gone off in the kitchen and family room.

8:00 Nurses Asher so he's got a full tummy at the gym.

8:10 Loads up the car. Doesn't forget: diapers, wipes, change of clothes for Asher, extra pair of undies and pants for Ike, headphones, water bottle, Ike's blankie and baby doll. Forgets: towel for the gym and sippy cups for the boys. Not a big deal.

8:20 Leaves for the gym.

8:40 Drops the boys off at the daycare.

9:00 Gets interrupted on the elliptical by a daycare worker. Asher is fussy.

9:10 Picks up boys from the daycare. Loads up car. Doesn't forget: to buckle Ike's buckles. Forgets: to hand him his baby doll and blankie before I start driving. Doh!

9:30 Arrives at Safeway. Asher is hysterical. Hops into passenger seat to nurse Asher while Booker and Ike watch The Last Unicorn in the backseat. Tries not to flash the gentleman who just parked next to me.

9:45 Enters Safeway with one sleepy little baby and two wild little boys. Shops with one carseat in cart, one 4 year old hanging off the cart (threatening to tip it over) and one 2 year old bolting down the aisles and out of sight.

10:25 Checks out with a full cart of groceries. Foolishly refuses help out to the car from the bag boy. Doesn't forget: milk, trash bags and bag of chips for Booker's preschool graduation tomorrow. Forgets: diapers for Asher. Dangit.

10:35 Loads up car and makes the quick drive over to Beyond Bread.

10:40 Enters Beyond Bread and orders a last meal of sorts (my six weeks of postpartum vacation are almost up and tomorrow it's back to diet and exercise). Grabs a to-go bag that includes Max's Muffaletta and a creme brulee. Doesn't forget: Diet Coke. Almost forgets: to get a gift card for Booker's teacher. Back to the car.

10:45 Tries to ignore cries of We're HUNGRY from the backseat.

11:00 Pulls into McDonald's drive through and orders two happy meals.

11:05 Pulls into a parking space to hand out food, open chocolate milks and happy meal toys.

11:30 Pulls into garage. Unbuckles Ike. Carries in Asher. Brings in groceries. Almost drops watermelon on garage floor. Drops a 12 pack of Coke Zero cans on the kitchen floor and watches as they scatter.

11:35 Asher is hysterical. Puts frozen stuff in the freezer. Leaves everything else on the counter.

11:38 Nurses Asher while trying to eat sandwich and read People magazine. Brushes an artichoke off Asher's forehead.

11:45 Burps Asher. Changes diaper. Gets sippy cup, blankie and baby doll for Ike. Carries unhappy Ike upstairs and puts him down for a nap. Doesn't forget: to lock the door so he can't get out of his room.

11:48 Returns downstairs to a fussy baby. Rocks baby, checks email, wastes time on Facebook.

12:00 Puts cold groceries away.

12:05 Helps Booker build a fort out of the couch cushions.

12:15 Puts on a quiet time movie for Booker. Sits down on the couch with Asher in one hand and People magazine in the other.

12:35 Rocks Asher to sleep. Puts baby in the swing. Back to couch.

12:45 Passes out on couch. Mumbles Mmmmmm Hmmmmm everytime Booker asks for a snack out of the pantry.

1:15 Wakes up to a crying baby, a pool of drool on the couch cushion and several Fruit by the Foot wrappers strewn about. Collects crying baby.

1:20 Changes diaper. Picks up a dozen Coke cans. Puts away remaining groceries.

1:30 Movie is over, time to clean up. Straps fussy Asher into baby backpack and starts to straighten up downstairs. Does dishes and picks up dirty clothes. Tries to sweep and mop with baby strapped to my front. Decides this is a bad idea after hitting Asher in the face with mop handle.

2:00 Sits down to start blog entry. Types with Asher in my lap.

2:25 Hears Ike yelling upstairs. Sends Booker up to unlock his door. Puts sleeping Asher in his swing. Changes Ike's stinky pull-up and puts on his swimsuit.

2:30 Puts on an episode of Scooby Doo. Finishes straightening up the downstairs.

3:00 Finally relents to going out to the pool with Booker and Ike. Doesn't forget: towels, phone, scriptures, People magazine, water bottle, sunglasses and baby monitor. Forgets: to put sunscreen on the boys. Shoot!

3:50 Notices pink shoulders. Convinces boys that they would rather jump on the trampoline than swim. Locks pool gate and heads inside.

3:55 Empties out trash, toys and t-ball gear from car in anticipation of trip to the car wash tomorrow morning.

4:00 Contemplates dinner. Admires sleeping baby. Back to the garage for more car de-junking.

4:15 Remembers the pink shoulders and tells the boys to come inside to eat some grapes.

4:17 Admires sleeping baby. Sleeping baby! Remembers that I haven't showered today.

4:20 Finally takes a shower.

4:30 Hops out of shower, throws on towel and runs around house to check on the boys and access the damage. Child #1 is in the toy room playing with puzzles. Child #2 is wandering around in his underwear, looking guilty with Oreo crumbs all over his face. Child #3 is blissfully sleeping in his swing.

4:35 Gets dressed, puts on makeup and blow dries hair.

5:00 Gets dinner started. Downloads some photos off my camera while water is boiling. Helps Booker with some letter worksheets.

5:20 Sits down to eat dinner.

5:30 Asher wakes up. Nurses Asher in the other room. Panics when I overhear Ike yelling that he is "cleaning up his pee pees." Puts Asher down and runs into the kitchen where Ike is spreading pee all over the island countertop with his hands. Watches as pee spills onto my niece's graduation announcement and onto the gift card I purchased earlier.

5:31 Strips Ike down and sends everyone upstairs to the bath.

5:35 Resumes nursing Asher upstairs. Bathes all three boys.

5:55 Gets everyone in their pajamas.

6:00 Helps organize toy room cleanup. Heads downstairs to cleanup after dinner. Grumbles that Clark has to work late tonight. Remembers that Clark wakes up early with Asher every single morning with no complaint.

6:45 Drops Booker and Ike off at friend's house. Heads over to the church for a temple recommend interview.

7:15 Picks boys up and heads home.

7:20 Puts bandaid on Ike's finger. Kisses him better. Helps with teeth brushing. Reads three bedtime stories. Turns lights out.

7:45 Retrieves creme brulee from the fridge. Heads back upstairss to watch Top Chef Masters. Admires sleeping baby still in his carseat. Anxiously awaits the sounds of the garage opening and closing.


So that was super long and pretty mundane. But there you have it. In twenty years when my kids are grown and gone, I'll long for these busy days full of sippy cups and snacks and swimming sessions. I'll miss the chaos. I'll miss the routine. Sometimes I feel like I'm just treading water and trying to stay afloat, waiting for the moment that Clark walks through the door. I need to work on slowing things down. I need to enjoy these moments with my boys a little more. And more than anything, I need to take this mothering job more seriously. Because those guys can't fire me even if they wanted to.

Phew. And now your reward for making it this far...

Milk drunk Asher.

Milk hungry Asher.

Give it a try- keep track of your day's events. You'll surprise yourself with how busy you can be "doing nothing." And if anything, you'll surprise your 17 year old brother.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy 1 Month!


Today marks Asher's one month birthday. Time sure flies when you're having fun... feeding, burping, rocking, changing, bathing and otherwise caring for a newborn. It seems like just yesterday that we brought him home and yet it also feels like he's been with us forever. It's hard to remember what life was like without him.

Since I was so terrible at recording some of these details with my other kids, here's a little run down of what Asher's been up to the first month of his life. Last week at his doctor's appointment, I learned that he's gained a pound since birth. He's in the 75th percentile for height, 50th for weight and only 25th for head size, which is weird because his head looks so huge to me. Speaking of heads, his pediatrician said that she has never seen a more beautifully round head. Well done, Asher!

People always want to know if you've got a "good" baby. Upon meeting your baby for the first time and seeing how disheveled and nasty and exhausted you look, they want to know if he's sleeping through the night yet. It's a dumb question, but everyone asks (including myself). While Asher might not be a one of those rare "good" babies who sleep through the night at two weeks, he's certainly no nightmare either.

He's definitely not sleeping through the night or any period of time longer than 4 hours, but at least he knows the difference between nighttime and daytime. He wakes up anywhere between 1-3 times a night to eat and usually likes to get up for the day bright and early around 6. A few nights ago we moved him into his own room because he spends a good 20 minutes after each feeding grunting and growling before falling back asleep. It was keeping us awake.

He has periods of fussiness during the day where nothing seems to console him. This might have something to do with the cherry coke zero that I insist on having everyday with lunch. I'm trying to negotiate with him on that one. Maybe once he stops waking up so often at night, I'll be able to give up my coke zero.

I'm just so pleased with how happy and healthy Asher has been. No NICU stay like Ike. No horrible diaper rash or eczema like Booker had. No projectile spitting up or major diaper blow outs. Other than being fussy every once in awhile, he's doing really well (knock on wood). And it seems like he's starting to settle into his "look," the one he'll have the rest of his life. Less scary newborn and more of just Asher.

As far as the transition from 2 to 3 kids goes, it's been hard but not quite as hard as I thought it would be. Of course, since Booker is still in school I have yet to take all three of them grocery shopping. I might change my story in a few weeks when summer starts. There have been times (usually in the car when Asher gets really quiet) when I am legitimately concerned that I've left one of them behind. It's only a fleeting feeling but it's unsettling. Getting three little bodies from point A to point B is harder than you think. I don't know how moms of 4+ do it.

I'm so glad Asher is here and a part of our family. He's such a joy. I love everything about him from his fuzzy little head down to his long little toes. I love seeing Booker and Ike interact with him. I'll never forget the hilariously tender moment when Ike looked down at Asher, patted his head and solemnly proclaimed, "She so fluffy."He is so fluffy and sweet and absolutely perfect. We love you Asher!


Some Phone Pics

I've been really awful about taking pictures of Asher lately. It's just so much easier to snap a couple of photos/videos on my phone and call it good. I Skyped with my dad yesterday and he mentioned that Asher is looking different. I forget that the rest of the world doesn't spend hours at a time with him in their arms. I promise to get my actual camera out more often. Until then...

Thank you for the awesome (reversible) pants, Jen! So cute.




Monday, May 9, 2011

The Great Kindergarten Debate: Our Decision

Wow. We got a lot of advice. Really, really good advice. Thank you for the comments, the emails, the phone calls. There were some pretty compelling arguments for both sides. What makes this so difficult is that there is no wrong answer, whatever we decide will be a "good" decision. I tallied it up and there seemed to be an equal number of those who were for Kindergarten and those against. Interesting. Again, thank you for all the advice. I think we are a little bit closer to reaching a decision.

If I put Booker in Kindergarten this year, I will feel anxious about it and personally responsible for any difficulties he has and he will have them. If I hold Booker back from Kindergarten this year, I will feel anxious about it and personally responsible for any difficulties he has in the future. As my wise Aunt Diane told me, "I've realized that I'm going to go through life with these three kids successes, failures, happiness and sufferings tied to my identity. That exhausts me. As I read all your reasons, what I really hear is that YOU are feeling anxious about his growing up. You can't stop that. He will grow up. You will feel anxious every step of the way."

Whatever we decide, Booker is going to grow up. He's going to be good at some things and not so good at other things. And that doesn't have that much to do with how old he is compared to his peers or how tall he is compared to his teammates. Some people loved being young for their grade, others hated it. There's just no telling what the future holds.

He meets the deadline to be in Kindergarten and he is supposed to be in Kindergarten. Plus, he's excited about it. Excited about school! That's awesome. It might seem weird to involve a 4-year-old in a big decision like this, but I just can't ignore his utter enthusiasm about starting school. Plus, I liked this argument from my online friend, Bridget. Holding kids back a year just so they can have an advantage over their classmates seems a little unfair to everyone else, doesn't it? That being said, I totally reserve the right to have him repeat Kindergarten if he's struggling with it.

In fact, that's what we're leaning towards. And it seems from your comments, that it's actually more common than I realized. Kids repeat Kindergarten more often than I knew. I'm breathing a sigh of relief. Perhaps this decision isn't as important as I initially thought. I can change my mind in the future if I need to.

I'm glad I petitioned for advice because I might not have otherwise heard about the new charter school that is opening up nearby. They offer half day Kindergarten and I'm trying to get Booker enrolled there. If he goes half day, he will be away from home about as often as he was for preschool/joy school but unlike preschool, this will be free. After a year of half day Kindergarten, I'll bring him back to our local elementary to do a year of full day. If he doesn't get into the charter school, I might consider having him just do two years of full day at our local elementary.

The disadvantage to enrolling him at the charter school is that he won't be with his church and neighborhood friends during this upcoming year and I'll have to drive him to school everyday. But on the bright side, he'll get to wear a cute little uniform! And on the bright side for my waistline, the school happens to be on the way to the gym, a place I need to be frequenting every day anyways. If it turns out that he's a Kindergarten prodigy, he can continue onto first grade no problem. But if I know my Booker, he could use that extra year to grow up a little bit. As I type this, he's in the other room passionately arguing with Ike about who's a bigger "Cheeto-head."

I better go intervene before things get violent between those two crazy Cheeto-heads. Thanks again for all the fabulous advice.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Great Kindergarten Debate

Photo by the lovely Cherise.

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile now but I've been distracted lately. Clark and I have a decision to make and we need advice. I'm begging for your advice. Please, please, please... tell us what to do!

Whether or not to start Booker in Kindergarten this year.

I'm so torn. I feel like this is the biggest decision I'll ever make. One that will affect him for the rest of his life. And I thought I had it figured it out, but now I'm not so sure.
You see, Booker will be turning five on August 9th. He meets the cut off to start Kindergarten this fall by just a few weeks. But does that mean he should?

Reasons to Start this Fall...
-He's dying to go to school and keeps talking about the day he turns five and can finally ride the school bus.
- He is aware that several of his friends will be starting Kindergarten and imagines he will be too.
- This year, he's done both preschool and Joy School. That means he's had some form of school every day except Fridays. This has worked out really well for us both. He needs the structure and the social interaction on a daily basis. I need the break from trying to keep him entertained. And l
et's be honest, I'm not prepared to offer him the same schedule of fun and educational activities on my own... I'm just not that kind of mother.
- I don't have anything else lined up for him school-wise next year. Does anyone have any recommendations or know of any openings at a local preschool?
- I was always young for my class (with a birthday at the end of October) and I did just fine.
- He's a tall kid and I'm not worried about him fitting in physically.
- Academically, I think he'll be alright. It's not like they learn much in Kindergarten anyways, right?
- Lastly, do I really want three kids at home with me for an entire year?

Reasons to hold him back...
- I wouldn't exactly call him an emotionally mature kid. I'm worried that he's not ready to hang with the other kids. Also, he still can't wipe his own bum but that might have more to do with my own neurotic cleanliness issues and less to do with his Kindergarten readiness.
- If we hold him back, he might fall at the top of his class next year (intellectually, socially, emotionally, etc) rather than the bottom. Is it better to be one of the older kids as opposed to the being the youngest?
- Once he starts school, that's it. There's no going back. I'm handing him over to someone else for the next 13 years. He'll have plenty of time to learn things at school, but how much time will he have to learn things here at home? Maybe I want this one year to keep him all to myself.
- It would be all day Kindergarten and the thought of being separated from Booker that long fills me with terrible anxiety. I wish there was a half day option.
- I'm not ready to let him go.

So there you have it. I realize that whatever we decide might not matter much in the long run anyways, but right now it feels so important. So please, friends and strangers alike- flood me with your advice, your own experiences, your thoughts. I'm especially interested to hear from those who have kids with August & September birthdays.

Also, I'm hoping to hear from moms and dads with kids currently at Estes Elementary. Am I right about the cut off dates and about full day Kindergarten? If we decide to enroll him this fall, what do we need to do? Obviously, we've never done this before and any guidance is appreciated.

Thank you, thank you!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Visit from the AmBABAssador

I said goodbye to my parents this morning. They are continuing on their Meet the Grandkids Tour of 2011, which started with Yuna up in Provo and will end with Amara in Prescott. I'm so glad my dad made it to Tucson to spend a couple of days with us. It was hard to see him go. For two weeks (TWO WEEKS!!!), I have been lucky enough to have someone staying with me and helping out. Between Clark, my sister, my mother-in-law and most recently my parents, I have had both good company and fabulous help since Asher was born.

But this morning, I bid farewell to my mom and dad and it sort of feels like I walked off a cliff. I am faced with the scary realization that I am a single pair of eyes, hands and boobs to three needy little bodies. Three needy little bodies that want peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Lego Star Wars and a nursing session all at the exact same time. This is it. No going back. Life marches on. I have to figure it out.

In the meantime, here are some photos from the last few days.

Ike enjoying some one on one time with Baba while Booker is at preschool. Asher is listening in. Shortly after this, he had his first diaper blow out... all over Baba.

Ever since we brought him home, Booker has been begging to take Asher to the zoo. Wish granted.


This might be our last trip to the zoo until the Fall. Even after a visit to the splash pad, it was miserably hot.

It was neat to have my dad around when the news FINALLY broke that he's been nominated to be the Ambassador to Kuwait. Even though this will be the third time my family has lived in Kuwait, I'm really excited. Kuwait was my second favorite post (right after London naturally). I have fond memories of playing on tanks and humvees when we were there in 1991. And I'll forever love Clark for actually agreeing to fly to Kuwait to meet my dad while we were dating back in 2004. What will this next tour hold? I have visions of my three boys playing on the beaches and adventures in sand duning. But don't tell Clark. After our last trip overseas, he wants our next vacation to be a nice, quiet cruise.

Baba brought gifts! Like Asher's first camel.


Ike insisted on many camel kisses.

Thanks to my dad, we now have a lifetime supply of Egyptian Revolution shirts straight from a vendor in Tahrir Square. I was giddy with excitement when I went through these shirts. You better believe I'll be forever reminding Booker, Ike and Asher that they were there (in person or in utero) and now they have the shirts to prove it. My favorite is the 25 January Tahrir Square Freedom Facebook shirt.

Thanks for the fun visit, Baba and Mama De! Have fun in Washington D.C. learning how to be Ambassadors and Ambassador Spouses. It won't be nearly as fun as hanging out with us. We miss you already!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Asher's Photoshoot

Tomorrow is Asher's two week birthday, which means I waited too long to do his pictures. Even at 10 days old, he wasn't a very cooperative subject. No curled up, acrobatic baby poses for me. Nope, Asher had mind of his own and I came away from the whole thing with a terrible migraine. But it's done and now I have a record of his sweet, fuzzy baby body which seems to be changing every day. Before I know it, his ears won't be hairy any more and I'll be longing for the day when I could nuzzle into them. I wish I could freeze time.

My personal favorites...







And since I'm not satisfied with the photo quality of the slideshow, here's a link to the originals.