Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Birthday

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I love this picture Tyler drew a few days ago. Which reminds me - I had the most brilliant idea. You know how kids want to keep all their artwork but we don't because there isn't enough room to store it all? Well why not scan them and keep a digital copy instead? Im going to start doing that.
Our day started with Dave and Spencer playing in the turkey bowl (in which all the men from church get together to play football) while I iced Brennan's birthday cake and cooked Martha Stewart's glazed sweet potatoes - yum!

This was Brennan's best birthday ever - ok, so he's only had 3 of them, but this year he got to have a regular cake with flour and eggs and everything.

We headed down to my parents' house after lunch. Levi got to meet his uncle Ben, who is home visiting from Berkeley.

Grandpa even got up early for the day's activities.

Ellen is knitting this gorgeous hooded sweater. She's almost done - just sewing it together now.

Of course there was plenty of game playing...But we had to send them outside so we could set the table.


Mom makes Thanksgiving dinner look easy. Everything was scruptious.

22 for dinner - that's one long table! Actually it's 4 tables put together.

Then on to Brennan's birthday. I didn't realize they were trick candles until they all lit up again. That was fun.
Brennan loves swords. These are reinforced foam, so he won't hurt his brothers too bad.

I love Jacob's face in this picture!

Awesome reversible cape and hat from grandma and grandpa. Batman on one side...

Spiderman on the other. It was such a fun day we had a hard time leaving. We got home around 10:30 with 4 out of 5 kids asleep in the car.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kindergarten Feast

I volunteered in Dallin's class yesterday for their Thanksgiving activities. First they broke up into groups; I did the Indian beed necklace station. Here's Dallin with his friend Preston. His awesome mom (my good friend Monica) picks Dallin up for school every morning. Thank-you!
Then they put on their pilgrim/Indian costumes and had a Thanksgiving feast (chicken legs, cornbread muffins and pumpkin pudding). I had such a fun time there. Whenever Dallin saw me he'd smile and wave, and he kept giving me hugs and kisses. I enjoyed watching him interact with his friends and getting to know all the kids in his class he talks about so much. I don't volunteer in his classroom like I did with Spencer and Tyler, so I'm glad I can do these special events instead.

Monday, November 23, 2009

11 years

We celebrated our 11th anniversary by taking a little trip down the coast. Our anniversary is actually next week, but with Thanksgiving and Brennan's birthday, it'll be a busy weekend. Plus this past Saturday was our stake temple day, and we decided to combine both trips. Dave took off work Friday, and we left right after getting the kids off to school and Brennan over to Kristen's house. First we stopped for lunch at Olive Garden and Christmas shopping at Toys R Us. My uncle recommend this great hotel in Ventura - it's literally right on the beach, and we had a great view from our balcony.
Of course Levi came along. He did great in the car, but he was pretty fussy the rest of the time. I think he has colic, because he's been crying more and more. I guess he doesn't just look like Dallin - he's got his personality too, since he was just like this as a baby. Oh boy!! We got there in time to watch the sun set, and then we ate dinner at a great restaurant on the pier. After dinner we drove to huge outlets in Camarillo - another great recommendation from my uncle. I could have spent hours there, but it was getting late and Levi was cranky, so we just went to a couple stores. We both got a pair of Rockport shoes. I'll have to plan another trip there when Levi's old enough to leave home and I'm back down to my prepregnancy size so I can do some serious shopping. Saturday morning after breakfast (an amazing buffet at the hotel that even had eggs benedict), we walked along the boardwalk enjoying the beautiful day and watching the surfers. Then we checked out of the hotel and drove an hour down to the L.A. temple. They had some young women babysitting at the apartments, so I joined Dave for sealings after his session. What a wonderful way to celebrate our anniversary.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sleeping through the night

Levi slept 8 hours last night. Woo-hoo! He went to bed at 8:30 and woke up at 4:30; he's well on his way to sleeping through the night, and I thought I'd share my baby sleeping tips. A friend from church is expecting her first baby, and she told me that in lieu of a gift, she'd like me to teach her how to get her baby to sleep at night. If you know someone who is struggling with this, feel free to pass this on to them.

I learned the hard way with Spencer. At 13 months of age, he was still waking up every night to come to bed with us, even though I'd stopped nursing him. I did everything wrong, and it was much harder to correct my mistakes at that age. Then I got the book Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep by Jodi A. Mindell; I highly recommend this book! It totally helped, but it took a long time. So when I had Tyler I followed the book's instructions starting at 6 weeks, and the difference was amazing. It was much easier with a newborn than with a big kid, standing and wailing in his crib.
The way to help babies sleep through the night is to teach them to put themselves to sleep. You do this by having a specific bedtime routine, and doing it the same way at the same time every night. For a newborn, this means one last feeding, diaper change and jammies, wrapping them up in a blanket, giving them a binky, and putting them in their bed awake (that is the first critical point). When I put Levi down he cries for a few minutes, but then he calms down and lies there wide awake for a few minutes before falling sleep. After I feed him during the night I put him right back in his bed (that is the next critical point). DO NOT keep them in your bed. Ever. Some moms out there feel it is so sweet to snuggle with their little baby all night, but it is a mistake and will cause major sleep problems down the road. Snuggle with them all day if you'd like, but not at night. Nighttime is for sleeping. You will be so much happier to snuggle with that baby in the morning after a good night's sleep:
Once your baby has had that initial sleep training, he will gradually sleep for longer stretches at night and wake up less often to eat. By the time he reaches approximately 12 lbs he will not need to eat during the night at all. You will start adding to the bedtime routine, such as brushing teeth, reading books, singing songs, saying prayers. This will help them settle down for bed and learn that going to sleep is the natural next step in the process. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you're consistent. And if someone else is putting them to bed, tell them to do the exact same routine. If you are on vacation or staying somewhere new, keep your routine the same as much as possible. In fact it's more important than ever because they need familiarity.

Once your baby is old enough to go all night without eating, usually around 2 months, it is imperative that you move him out of your room (third critical point). You can do it earlier if you want to, but I like to start out with a bassinet right next to my bed so I can just reach over to pick him up in the middle of the night. I find that babies often revert around 3 months or so and start waking up more often. This seems to be habit and has nothing to do with needing more nutrition. If this happens you can go to them, wrap them back up, give them the binky, say soothing words, then leave. If they continue to cry, close the door and let them cry. Since they have an established bedtime routine and know how to put themselves to sleep, they will quickly learn to do it again.

So what if you have done things all wrong and your baby is still waking up to eat way past 12 pounds? Don't worry - you can still train them. It will just take a little longer. Instead of crying for a few minutes, they may scream for an hour before sheer exhaustion overcomes them. Instead of taking a couple days of training it could take a week or two. But don't let that keep you from doing it. Putting it off only makes it harder. Some say, "I can't just let my baby cry!" It's not just letting them cry - it is teaching them an essential skill. You can check on them every 5 minutes to let them know you're still there. Just don't pick them up. Lay them back down, rub their tummy, give them their binky, say soothing things, like, "It's okay, mommy loves you, go to sleep." Then leave again. You may lose sleep in the short run, but it will be worth it for everyone in the long run. You just have to trust me.

If someone comes to me for help, it never fails that they are not doing one or more of my 3 critical points. Let us review:

1. Put baby to bed awake. Do not nurse/rock/hold them to sleep. If they fall asleep during that last feeding (as they often do when they're little), wake them back up before putting them to bed.
2. Put baby to sleep in his own bed after each feeding. Do not have him sleep with you in your bed.
3. Move baby's crib out of your room around 2 months. If you have limited space and you don't want them to wake up a sibling, you may need to get creative. Spencer slept in the laundry room when we lived with my parents. Dallin slept in the dining room when we lived in our condo.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Happy Veterans Day everyone! The kids were off school, and we had a lovely day. In the morning I took them to their doctor's office to get their H1N1 Flu vaccines. We were #500 on the waiting list, but when I took Levi in for his 1 month visit a couple days ago my doctor agreed we needed to get them immunized quickly to protect little Levi. By the way, he now weighs 10 lb 8 oz, and he's doing great.

For cub scouts today we went to the cemetery in town and helped pick up all the flags from the veterans' graves.

I brought all the boys with me, and they had a fun time running around, looking for flags.

It only took a few minutes, so then we walked around the rest of the cemetary, reading tombstones. A huge thank-you to all the veterans who have fought to preserve our freedoms!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Roller Hockey

I'm a bad mom when it comes to signing my kids up for stuff. Sometimes I hear other moms talking about all the things their kids are in and I feel like my boys are really missing out. The problem is that it complicates my life too much. They have performing arts club after school and cub scouts once a week, but Dave really wants them to be in sports also. Well we've tried several sports, but they kind of took over our life. Then half the time I had to drag them to practice because they just wanted to stay home and play with their brothers. Plus I have other children with me while I'm watching, bored to tears. Then a couple months ago we heard there was a roller hockey season starting. Spencer and his cousins have recently gotten into roller blading, so I thought it would be good. It has turned out to be so fun for us! Here are some of the things I like about it:
1. It's in the evening, so Dave can take him most of the time.
2. It's indoors, so we don't have to swelter or freeze while we're watching.
3. It's so exciting to watch!
4. It's once a week, combining the practice and the game into one night. There's an optional practice another night, so Dave's takes him to that too if he can.
5. The other boys love to go also b/c there's a big group of younger siblings running around, playing air hockey and hide and seek.
6. It's way less stressful than soccer - no banner, photos, team mom, snacks, coach gift, party - all the silly extra things that added stress to soccer. Everyone's just there to play.
7. Spencer loves it. Even though he's a beginner among well-seasoned players, he is improving quickly and having a fun time. And doesn't he look cute in all his gear?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


What a fun Halloween weekend! Let's start with last Thursday...

We took Levi down to meet his great-grandpa, who then told our kids stories from his Halloween days as a young boy. Apparently they never dressed up or got candy, but they did tip over their neighbors' outhouses for fun.

The boys all had their Halloween parties at school on Friday, and I went to Dallin's costume parade and party. I also made cookies for Spencer's party and popcorn for Tyler's.
The whole school sits outside in a huge circle, cheering, clapping and high-fiving all the kindergartners as they march around in their costumes. Then we went back to their classroom to eat pizza and decorate cookies - Brennan joined right in. I enjoyed visiting with the other moms and watching Dallin show off his new baby to everyone.
Oh, how Brennan adores his baby brother!
After school we decorated pumpkins. Dave cleaned out 2 of the pumpkins before the boys got home, which helped to move things along. Then Spencer and Tyler cleaned out the 3rd one together.
Spencer got the idea from Family Fun of using mini pumpkins for the eyes. It turned out really cute.We got the pattern for Tyler's pumpkin from the back of a cereal box. Dave got it started, but then Tyler did most of it.

We roasted the pumpkin seeds using a recipe Dave found on Allrecipes - it had sugar and pumpkin pie spices. Yum!

Tyler, Spencer and Dallin.

Don't they look great? I thought Tyler's looked especially cool all lit up.
Levi as a pea pod. He looks calm here, but he was pretty fussy all night - throughout the church party, every time we got in the car, and then while trick-or-treating. I ended up taking him home and missing pretty much the whole night. I guess he doesn't like Halloween yet.
Brennan has been telling everyone all month that he was going to be a pumpkin for Halloween. But just as we were about to put on his costume, he changed his mind. No big deal, since I didn't buy either one this year. It's nice having a huge bin of costumes to choose from. Dallin as a "ghost chef." I'm not sure how those 2 things go together, but he was sure excited about it.

Tyler as Harry Potter.

Spencer as a zombie. I wasn't thrilled with the idea, but at least there wasn't any blood. Doesn't he look scary? He loved it.

Saturday was a pretty low key day. I made pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, which were delicious. It's a good thing we started getting costumes ready nice and early, because it ended up taking awhile. First we went to the church Halloween party for dinner and games; we left early to go trick-or-treating around our neighborhood. Then I met back up with them at our next-door-neighbors' Halloween party. When we got home we watched Ghostbusters, handed out candy to late-comers, traded candy and drank hot apple cider.