The Cutest Blog on the Block

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

Gingerbread Men - Christmas Break

 We decorated gingerbread men.
Glenn and Porter are in the background working on our puzzle.
Stafford made this cookie to look like Glenn.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Trying New Traditions

I bought our family a puzzle that would remind us of an event of this past year.

The idea is to work on it as a family.

Teamwork and bonding.

We brought it out today and so far it has been my favorite event of this vacation.

There was always a different collection of family members at the table - just coming and going when they felt like it.

The plan is to finish it, modge-podge it, write the names of the contributors on it and frame it - possibly frame it with a picture of us at Disneyland.

We'll see.

We have a long way to go.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Snow Art

A guy down the road makes a new sculpture or two every time it snows.  
These were taken a few days after they were made and the sun had been working on them, but they were still in pretty good shape, despite having melted some.
 Same mailbox.  Different snow storm.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Temple Square

This year we went to Temple Square with Glenn's sister LaDonna, her husband Royce,  daughter Kate, son Blaine, and Blaine's girlfriend Carly.  Royce led the group.  He used to live in Salt Lake and so he knows a lot about the area and whatever he doesn't know, I'm quite certain, he makes up.  Porter was a very close second and seldom was more than three inches away from Royce.  The rest of us fell in line. Though it was crowded it brought the Christmas spirit.

We only lost Royce and Porter once, but they were together and once Warrick turned right instead of left - big mistake.  I noticed he was missing after my head count ended at 3 instead of 4 and we found him quickly.

The evening wasn't too cold and Royce and LaDonna provided lots of laughs and great company.

Warrick (8)
Stafford (5) 

Porter (10) stuck to Uncle Royce's side like glue.
When we couldn't find one, we'd look for the other.
They are quite the pair.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Facing Cancer

I came to visit my parents today.  I left my family up in the snow and with a little tug at my heart, I drove south.

As I got outside my mom's house and prepared to go in, I was scared.  I was afraid to see my mom.  I was afraid that she would look sick.  Even as a grown child I don't want to be reminded that life is fragile and that my parents aren't invincible.

When I saw my mom, I was relieved.  She had a hat on and some fake hair framing her face.  The hair was the same color as my mom's natural hair and I imagined it was her hair.

Later when she was adjusting her wig, she asked if I wanted to see her bald head.


She understood.

I went with her to get her bone marrow shot.  This is the one that helps her bones, but at the same time makes them ache from her toes to her teeth.  I saw her eyes water slightly as they poked her.  But the entire day she was filled with cheer, chatting with the receptionist, the lady next to her, and to me.  She made jokes.  She was light.  She was grateful.  She told me of the man she met last week.  He was in his forties and had been in an accident and was paralyzed.  She told him that he gave her hope and courage.  She told him that if he can go through what he has gone through, that she can conquer her mountain.

I found myself holding back tears.  I felt sadness that she had to go through this - that anyone had to.  I looked around the white communal room that we were in.  There were other bald people.  Mothers. Fathers.  Brothers.  Sisters.  Friends.  Sitting.  Receiving chemo.  Hoping.  Returning smiles.  And that is when my heart began to complain.  I fought to keep anger out. All of these people -  victims to an awful disease.  All these people being brave and trying to get better.

I have witnessed people being kind to my parents.  People have been kind to me.  My emotions have been closer to the surface than they have been in the past and I'm filled with gratitude for the littlest of gestures.  And I wonder if there is suffering so that people can experience the goodness of other people's hearts.  I wonder.

I'll be visiting my mom and dad for a few days.  Mom is feeling well now, but says that usually three days after her chemo, she gets sick.  Really sick.  I'm bracing myself to see her that way.  Once again, I'm scared.  I'm scared because I don't know how I'll react.  She says she can't focus well during her "chemo flu"; she can just lay there.  But I'm here and I'm hoping to be company to both her and my dad.  I'm hoping to bring companionship - even if it is quiet and simply just being present.  Because sometimes doing nothing is enough.

She is resting now.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Family Christmas Party

This year on Christian's birthday we hosted the Small Family Christmas Party.  Glenn's parents joined us, Blaine, Eric and Natalie and Madison.  We had dinner, sang carols and opened white elephant gifts.
For one of our white elephant gifts, we carefully slit open the plastic wrap of a box of chocolates and took a bite out of every one.  We put it back in the plastic so it looked new.  We all watched Eric open the box.  It took awhile for him to realize what he was looking at.  He just stared and then said, "What the...?"

We now have a teenager in the house!

Once again it is my time to indulge myself and pick all the positive things about Christian and air it.
Christian's fudge cake
  • Christian is kind through and through.
  • He is willing to help 90% of the time.  (After having 4 boys, I realize that is a virtue.)
  • He is always willing to cheer up a brother or play with them - sometimes before I even ask, if he see's I'm stressed and one of the boys is being difficult, he'll intervene and jump in and help.  To this I'm very grateful!
  • He is creative.
  • He is smart.  (He tested into the gifted and talented program.  The funny story is that he has had a bit of a difficult transition to having 6 classes instead of the couple in elementary school.  He has learned the hard way that you really have to turn in your work.  Well, there was a test that they gave to see who would get in the top 10% of the school.  Christian made it in and to surprise the kids, they called them into a classroom to break the news.  The kids were trying to guess why they were in there.  One girl said, "Maybe it's because we all have A's."  Christian quickly ruled that one out by saying, "Um, I have 5 C's."  So while he is smart, he's working on follow through.  Second semester he has greatly improved his grades to all A's and one B.)
  • He started tackle football this year and loved it.  It was great fun to watch and I found myself actually becoming a football fan.  His coach said if every player played with the heart and enthusiasm that Christian had that they wouldn't lose a game.  The other kids had had one more year of tackle football than Christian had, but before long, he became the starting line backer.
  • He plays trombone in the band.  For their band concert the trombone section decided it would be cool if the boys had matching bow-ties and the girls matching bows.  They were going to go to the mall together and buy them, but someone said that would be like a date.  So instead a girl in their section made them all matching bow-ties/bows.  They were the envy of the 7th grade band.
  • He is a thinker.
  • He has a kind smile.
  • His church teachers often stop me or Glenn to tell us what a neat kid he is.
  • He is easy to talk to.
  • He is thoughtful.
  • His sense of humor is developing into something really enjoyable.
  • He will try anything.  If we suggest any sport or lesson, he'll try it.  He'll try it whether or not he has a friend involved.  
  • He is grateful and appreciative.
  • He is responsible.
  • He is great company.
  • He is friendly.
  • He tried jujitsu and kick boxing this summer.  His coaches pulled me aside and told me how much potential he had.  They said not only was he very quick on his feet, but he was so coachable.  They said if they told him to do something, he'd do it.  Not sure if MMA is the direction we're hoping his future is going, but it was a nice compliment anyway.
  • His six grade teachers told me that Christian was their favorite to teach because of his enthusiasm.
  • And to finish off Christian's time on the pedestal, I must mention that the "maddest kid in 6th grade" picked on Christian.  We told the principal and teacher.  They did nothing.  We finally told Christian to do what he needed to to protect himself.  Well, he did.  They got in a fight and that kid didn't know what hit him.  We're so proud of Christian.  The other kid was suspended, but not Christian because the principal knew Christian had simply had enough.
  • He is a big Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fan.  For his birthday, we took him and a friend to dinner and to the opening night of The Hobbit.
  • I'm so glad Christian was born!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Happened the Last Several Months?

The answer is that I'm not really sure.  We've been busy doing something, but I have failed to document it and so I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed with all the catching up I'd like to do.  So I think a summary will suffice for now.

In the order I thought of it.

During fall break in early October, I took my boys down to St. George.  We spent time with my mom before she started chemo.  It was a very fun weekend.  I think we all just had a bit more gratitude in our hearts and didn't take one moment for granted.  I helped my mom read about her treatments and tried to get her geared up.  It was an emotional time.  Her cancer hadn't spread through the tissue or lymph nodes, but she happened to have the dreaded HER2 type.  This is an aggressive type that used to be a death sentence.  Thankfully now there is a relatively new drug that targets it quite well.  For this I'm so grateful - what a gift scientists gave when developing the drug Herceptin!  Even though there are no signs of cancer in her body, the protocol is to do 6 rounds of chemo.  This was hard to swallow.  We had hoped to avoid chemo and it's hard to put yourself through something like that when it seems like only a precaution.  Well after much talking, praying and study, Mom decided to follow the doctors orders and got her first dose of chemo the three days after we left.  It was scary, but an act of faith.

The day after she started chemo, I went with Glenn, his co-worker Mike and Mike's wife to Paris.  It was the first time I have left all of my kids for this long, even though it really wasn't that long.  We had such a great time.  Mike and Karen knew Paris really well and were great travel buddies.  Pictures and stories to come.

Another highlight was that Porter's football team, that Glenn coached, won the Superbowl.  The boys were so proud of themselves.

Then shortly after that, my phone started having problems and my computer too.  I was pretty unconnected to the world.  It was kind of nice.

Warrick tried basketball for the first time.  Glenn was the assistant coach and it turns out that Warrick really enjoyed playing.  They don't keep score, but the boys sit on the side lines and count points and even differentiate between 2 and 3 point shots. Both coaches couldn't make it to the final game so both wives took over.  Fiasco is a strong word, but lets just say we didn't know what we were doing.

My nephew, Eric, got engaged.  It's fun to have him close by and to watch things progress.

My mom started on her second chemo round.  The first one was rough, but the second one seemed to go much better.  It is hard to know exactly what is going on when I'm not there to see it.  That's hard. She will have her third round the day before Thanksgiving.

Warrick was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I no longer work with the Young Women of our ward.  I now work with Activity Days girls ages 8-11. I miss the older girls, but I'm excited to play with the younger ones.  I teach the girls that are Porter and Warrick's ages.  I feel like a fly on the wall as I get to know the girls that I've heard about.

I don't know what prompted it, but the boys draped a blanket over the basement entrance at the bottom of our stairs and made a door out of couch cushions at the top of the stairs.  As I saw these preparation I reminded them that duct tape can't be used on walls - hard lesson learned.  They instead enlisted the help of the multi-functional bungee cord.  After they got the infrastructure, they started one by one coming upstairs and heading back down with their arms full of supplies like blankets, pillows, chairs and toys.  Soon they announced that they had created a Man Cave.  The cat and I were not allowed down.  Because we are girls.  This was hard for the cat to accept.  She kept trying to sneak down.  They found a way to cat proof it.  I on the other hand have enjoyed it.  Since they don't want me down there, they are more than willing to run down there and get me anything I might need from the storage room.

This is the door to the "Man Cave".

We went as a family to a BYU Jazz for Kids Concert.  It was fun and it seemed to impress the kids since shortly after they created a jazz station on Pandora that they decided to play in the Man Cave anytime they were down there.  The problem with this is that the station that they found plays only soft jazz.  Think Kenny G.  It is slightly painful, but I'm glad they are expanding their horizons.

Quite often they disappear downstairs.  I have not been down there in over a week.  I hear meetings called to order, I hear the saxophone scales of Kenny G (or the like) and I hear reminders that I'm not allowed.  It is bonding for them, I suppose.

Another transformation that happened while I was away from this blog is that I finally appreciate Halloween.  For the longest time I had a hard time spending money on a costume that would be worn for one night.  (Even though they do get worn throughout the year at times.)  And then it just seemed like a pointless holiday with no purpose but to fill all the kids with junk.  But something happened on this Halloween day.  It started with the bus driver...
I guess I just appreciated the effort people went to for no real reason.  Well, I guess there is a reason - simply for fun. I appreciated the parents and teachers who took the time to dress up - just for fun.  And so I sat back and enjoyed walking around with my kids to collect candy and while it seemed a bit frivolous, I enjoyed it all.  And I appreciated the creativity I saw.  So much creativity and effort! (While I appreciate the effort they give, I don't conform to it - at least not yet.  My new rule is that you can be anything as long as it's easy.) And I appreciated seeing my neighbor riding his horse while he was dressed as the headless horseman.  Stafford couldn't get his mind around the fact that the guy riding the horse didn't have a head.  There is something about hearing horse hooves coming toward you in the dark of night that make the night perfectly fun.

The bus stop. 

Stafford added his own widows peak by shaping his hair in a spike on his forehead.

Christian, Porter and Seth R.

It's now been several more weeks since I wrote the above post.  I now have my own computer instead of borrowing Glenn's while he is at work.  This will help, I think, with the continued documentation of our lives.  I feel badly that there are some cool pictures that were missed like the wall of snow the kids at the bus stop erected in the middle of the road so the bus would run over it or the mini pillow case that Christian sewed on his own.  (He learned in Home Ec. how to thread a sewing machine, went downstairs, found my sewing machine deep in the storage room, set it up in his room and when I went to check on him at bed time, he was sewing and turned to me with delight and said, "I made a pocket!")

Thanksgiving was a beautiful day with Glenn's parents and our niece Madison, from BYU.

The snow has hit and I have parked my van and moved into the truck after only  making it half way up the road in my van before having to abandon it for the day.  It stayed at the side of the road until our truck could tow it out.  Have I ever mentioned that I'm a truck person?  Love it!  Another addition that is making the winter more bearable is that we have a snow blower.  I smile every time I use it or get into the truck and easily drive up our hill.  Life is good.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Warrick's Birthday Party

We had the party the day after Porter's.
I wasn't sure if I was ready,
but I decided that it couldn't be worse.
 There was a fraction of the kids and half of them were girls.
Things went smoothly and the decorate your own cake was a hit.
Happy Birthday Dear Warrick!

Friday, October 4, 2013

A nightmare of a frat party involving 9 year old boys .

I had a dream that Porter was in a class with a bunch of boys that were all friends.  Even though we have a rule that we only invite as many friends to parties as the child is old, in the dream we decide to invite 12 of the boys in his class.  What's two more people, right?  Well as the dream went on and as the party plans got underway, we realized that we had forgotten two boys.  Shoot.  We decided to invite them.  We didn't want feelings to get hurt.  The dream continues as we drive around town passing out invites and see another boy in his class that we had overlooked.  So, what do we do?  A normal person would say, "Well, I can't invite the world."  But a crazy person would say, just like I did in my dream, "What's one more?"  So you have 14 kids, plus an additional kid in the class that found out about the party and said to Porter, "Are you going to invite me?"  Porter said to him that he had already invited too many people.  So in this horrible dream of mine, both Porter and I felt bad for him. So we shrugged our shoulders and said, "What's one more?"  So at this point we have 15 9-10 year old boys coming to the party plus 4 of my own boys.  Now add to this horrible dream that the night I have this party planned is the night that my husband has school.  So I would be carrying out this plan alone with all of these boys - 19 to be exact.  At one point I thought that I should probably enlist the help of my mother-in-law or a friend, but being the person I am, I decided that I don't want to bother anyone with my predicaments.  I rationalized that I have taught in classrooms with many more children and taught dance for years.  I am usually good with classroom management so I carried on with the plan.  It is obvious now that I wasn't thinking clearly - no one thinks clearly when they are dreaming, right?

I must note that I was thinking clearly enough to dress to impress with my maxi skirt and my new jean shirt.  At least I had that going for me.

Soon the boys started flooding in.  There were games to be played and energy to be burned, but somewhere between the deafening roar that I couldn't even talk over and everyone smashing their cake in their own face, I realize that I had lost all control.  At this point, it would have been nice to wake up, but there was no mercy for me; the dream went on.  I tried to remedy the situation.  Play a fun game or two, but I was out numbered.  The simple words of "mob mentality" and "wild animals" kept going through my head. At one point, I took my dear 9 year old aside and told him to calm down.  That caused the birthday boy to cry if he wants to and he removed himself from the party and went outside and after I had gathered everyone together he still said he wasn't ready to come in.  So, feeling panicked and alone, I sent them all out to join him.  That actually remedied the situation and they all began playing.

Luckily the dream took a turn for the better when Glenn arrived home from school and things calmed a bit.  (My maxi skirt must not have sent the message of authority.)  Glenn and I had a small pow wow while they opened presents in compete chaos, but at least they were contained in one room.  That's when we reached for our Netflix dvds.  We thought National Treasure would be a good movie - not too babyish.  Turns out it had a huge crack down it.  Our only other option was Mighty Ducks 2.  Despite being made in 1994, it turned out to be a winner and after breaking a pinata (where no one got hurt) and the movie, I feel things ended pretty well.  I was alive.  All the children made it out alive - which became the prayer of my heart during the night.  Our house was a disaster, but it was still standing.  Things could have been worse.

This is the point that you would imagine that I woke up.  But as you have probably guessed, this dream was not a dream at all.  It was my life.  It was an event that spurred many internal reflections on whether or not our family is going to do birthday parties.  Ever again.  Yes, if my children wonder what happened to birthday festivities in the Small Home, I will tell them of that night, that dark, dark night when I thought I could handle a million little boys all on my own.  How I will always remember that night!

At the height of crazy, someone locked the back door.  It wasn't me, I swear, though I wish I would have thought of it.  Instead of letting the animals in, I made up a new game, stare at the animals in the cage and take pictures.  I called it Zoo. At a loss for what to do next, I just stood there and stared right back at them.  Then I became thankful to have the picture.  Proof.  At least when they found my dead body, they would have a clue of what might have happened just prior to the tragedy.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Warrick Turns 8

This kid is sweet to the core.  He is thoughtful, deep and smart.  Super smart.  He thinks about things a lot, loves to learn and is easy to teach.  He catches onto concepts quite easily.

He is the first of our boys that is not color blind.  When he was a toddler, his older brothers were often found asking him if something was a certain color or not.

He makes me laugh.  He is funny, but not in a "that was a funny thing to say for a kid" but in a "that was funny to say, I don't care who you are" sort of way.  He has a great laugh that makes me smile.

He is obedient.  If I ask the boys to do something.  He does it and does his best to keep doing it.  Like I asked them to not get a new cup every time they wanted a sip of water, but to use the same cup for awhile.  He started picking out a cup and putting it in a special place so he would always know where it was.

He is responsible and can be trusted.  If he says he won't or if he says he will then I don't worry about it anymore.

He is grateful, loving and as cliche' as it sounds, a joy to have around.

He is mellow and stable with his emotions.  When things don't go as planned, he handles it well.  No fits, but occasionally his hazel eyes (that are magical to me) will fill with tears and they will quietly fall down his cheeks.

He is tough too.  He has taken spills that would keep most kids down, but Warrick pops right up and keeps going.  He will often have bruises all over and doesn't even know where they came from.

He started practicing football with Porter's team this year and was able to hold his own.  He is fast and if he gets knocked down by the older kids, he shakes it off.

He is talented in art and loves to create.  He has just started the piano and is doing well.
I found a picture of Christ with a little brown haired boy.  I showed it to Warrick and said it reminded me of him because the boy looked like him. I wanted him to identify with the boy who was sitting with Christ. Usually when a boy in a picture has the same color of hair then the kids think they look alike.  Not the case with Warrick.  He looked at the picture and said, with no animation - think Napoleon Dynamite, "That looks nothing like me.  What do you think I look like?"

Christian tip-toed up behind Warrick.  It startled Warrick when he realized that Christian was there.
Christian said, "Did I just scare the crap out of you?"
Warrick hesitated.  "No, just a little pee."

Warrick is so fun to be around.  He has a calming spirit and is someone I'd choose to hang out with even if he wasn't my son.  I can't wait to see the person he turns into one day.