Thursday, February 28, 2008

"So how'd she end up with all the hair?"

The post title is a question we get often. Of course, we don't have an answer for it. Here are Maddie and Lana in pigtails:

I was practicing my flute today (am sadly out of practice) and Everett was covering his ears. This is a bad sign. I will be playing at a wedding reception on Saturday, and I really want it to be nice for my friend. At this point I'm a little nervous!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thinking Warm Thoughts

Today was cold and snowy, and beautifully sunny! If we didn't look outside it felt like summer in our house. I'm looking forward to some warmer weather and more outside playtime, so I thought I'd post these pictures.

Everett, summer 2005

Lana, Maddie, Everett, Gwyn, and Grandma, Summer 2007

I also found these of the children when they were about 5 months old:

So what resemblances do you see?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Today Everett and I had a discussion about what we should grow in our garden this year. I'm really looking forward to having a larger garden. Last year we just had lots of tomatoes and a couple of peppers. Everett and I have big plans for lots and lots of veggies.

So did anyone guess the translation of the post title yet? I think broccoli may be Gwyn's favorite veggie, and that's how she says it. I love, love, love it when Everett and Gwyn ask for more. Maddie said "I love you, broccoli." but she didn't eat it. (This reminds me of the first time Everett said "I love you." It was to a piece of cheese!!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Good News

My dad had another scan last week in order to determine whether or not the spots in his lungs had any growth. I am happy to say that at his meeting with the doctor today he was told that there was no growth. We try to be prepared for the worst at these times, so it was nice to have a good report. He will have another scan in three months. The cancer that he has is slow growing until all-of-a-sudden it just goes crazy, so they are keeping close tabs on it.

In the past when I heard of others who had cancer, I never knew what to say or do for them. I didn't understand what they were dealing with, and just how horrible it is. Since they often have great difficulty eating during treatment, food may not be the best thing to help with (though I'm sure anything would be appreciated). I think that moral support and encouragement can help more than just about anything else in many cases. Let them know that you care. Help with housework and yardwork could be a great support at times too. ___________________________________________________________________

I am out of banana chips and chocolate, and I am sheepish to admit that this was my main motivation for making cookies today. I also knew that Everett would love it. He had a lot of fun. (Note the peanut butter goatee.) Don't ask me how many I ate. I'm still working on that self-control issue!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sunday Activities

Today was ward conference at church. What I heard of the talks was really great, and Cary and I did a special musical number. It wasn't perfect, but it was nice to sing with Cary again. It seems that the only times I do something musical now are when I am asked. I'm always glad for the opportunity (and the reason) to play or sing--especially with my family.

Grandma and Grandpa came over for dinner, and you'd think the kids hadn't seen them in ages! They were laughing and jumping and squealing, just full of delight. There is a lot of love and excitement around here. (And face-poking, shoe removal, jumping on laps, and general child-abuse. Don't take this the wrong way: I mean abuse at the hands of children. Happily, the recipients of this treatment actually aren't bothered by it.)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Everett and Testimony

My mom comes over most Fridays to spend some time with the kids, help with baths, etc. This past Friday she was headed to visit Celina and the kids afterwards, and we decided that Everett could go with her. He was SO EXCITED!!!

It had been alternating between rain and sleet most of the day, and the skies were clear when they left, but not the roads. As the temperature dropped, the roads became really icy. At one point, mom pressed the brake and nothing happened. She prayed out loud that Heavenly Father would help her to be able to stop the car. They were able to stop and get the car off the road. Everett then prayed out loud: "Heavenly Father, I love you! Thank you for helping us." Mom decided to sit and wait until the roads were salted. Almost immediately afterwards, another vehicle passed them and crashed. Emergency crews arrived on the scene, including police, ambulance, tow truck, and a fire truck to block off the road.

Mom called Celina to tell her what had happened. They weren't very far away, so Celina was considering coming to get them. As she was sitting in her driveway praying as to whether or not she should venture out, a truck spun out of control on her street, and crashed into her neighbor's fence! (She said she really didn't need the answer to be that dramatic.)

They never made it to Uncle Jordan and Aunt Celina's house, so Everett was a little disappointed, but he got to be with his Grandma and made it home safely. He's such a sweetheart. I was thinking about him when he was away and realized what a good little helper he has become, and how he animates our house! (The animation isn't always positive, but is mostly a good kind.) He gets his sisters involved in lots of fun activities. He does a great job cleaning up the toys, and gets the girls down out of their booster seats for me 3-4 times a day. He will help with almost anything without complaint.

It is especially sweet to see how his testimony is growing.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Random Snapshots

Ahhh...toy rotation! I should start doing this regularly, maybe even daily! We had a sweet, happy, peaceful morning together today. This is our playroom. The kids from left to right are Lana, Gwyn, Everett, and Maddie. In case you're wondering, Maddie's outfit was chosen by her father.

Everett and Gwyn were good buddies. They were crawling
around the house in two lavender tubs, playing ball, etc.

Lana was really cute and she ate spaghetti with alfredo sauce!

Lana's hair is long enough now that I have to put it up every day to keep it out of
her face. When I'm fixing it, Maddie always wants me to do hers too. All I can
manage for Maddie is a tiny little ponytail right on top of her head.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What a great big brother!

Sometimes Everett has some great teaching moments with the girls. He was explaining to them at one point today: "You will grow up and you will turn into mamas--all of you." This stuff just cracks me up. He is too cute! He is becoming a wonderful big brother.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Counting Blessings

Well, now that the kids are in bed, I'll finish out my last post. This is probably going to be more of a post for me than anyone else.

I think this is the worst day Lana has had in over a year as far as her formula/Nutren goes. She ended the day having taken only 10.75 oz. She drank almost 8 oz. of juice on her own, but she is almost 300 calories shy of goal. I really hope that once she's feeling better, she picks up close to where we left off. On days like these, it really helps me to look back and think about how far we have come. This could be a long post!

In July of 2005 when she was about 4 months old, Lana finally completely refused to eat. She had gradually been showing more and more aversion. I never would have imagined that an infant would completely refuse to eat to the point of dehydration until I experienced it myself. We pushed through it and had her eating for a while, and then it happened again. I didn't want to go through the heartache again, and began feeding her in her sleep. I would wait until she was sleeping, gently pick her up, and she would suck in her sleep. We did this for six months. Needless to say, it was difficult. I had two other babies and a sweet little boy to care for. I had to be creative and stick to a tight scedule. But that's a long story in itself.

Near the end of those six months, she was ready to nap a lot less, and started to either not fall asleep or wake up when I tried to feed her. We had put off the inevitable struggle, but it was time to face it once again. I finally decided to try feeding her by syringe. At first I could only get her to take very small amounts, and it took a lot of distraction! I put on a Baby Einstein video and kept handing her toys and playing with her as I gave her about 3 mls at a time from the syringe. Gradually this became easier. We were also trying to get her eating baby food with her sisters, but she would only allow tiny amounts into her mouth. We kept trying, knowing that taste and texture experiences, no matter how small, would help her. If she allowed any food into her mouth, and especially if she swallowed it, we showered her with praise.

After a while, we got her to the point where she would drink some of her Nutren on her own from a straw. She would eat something one day (like half of a graham cracker) and we would get so excited! We would give her one the next day and she wouldn't want anything to do with it. Finally we tried cheese puffs--something she would eat consistently because they completely melt in her mouth and have a bolder flavor.

We have had a lot of ups and downs, in eating and weight. When she would get sick, she would almost invariably lose a whole pound--a pound that usually took a month or more to gain. At times she would actually drink her whole bottle by straw while at others she wouldn't drink any. Before this most recent crisis, I was particularly pleased with her efforts to overcome her gag reflex on her own. She is now chewing and swallowing small quantities of many foods. We went to McDonalds one day, and she was determined to eat some french fries. She would chew for a while, gag, and even throw up a little, but she kept working on it.

Through all of her difficulties, she has been a sweet and loving little girl. I remember one instance, when I was still getting up at 4AM to feed her in her sleep. Unfortunately, she woke up and I was attempting to feed her by syringe. It was not going well and I was starting to get really frustrated. Without warning, she gently put her little hand on my arm and gave me a sweet caress. It felt like a direct message from Heavenly Father. I immediately picked her up, crying, and just held her close. The feeding was over. I put her to bed and thanked Him for our sweet little girl.

There are times when I have wondered what it would have been like to have just Everett and Lana, or Everett and Maddie and Gwyn so that I could care for them better, but I wouldn't trade any of my children for anything. Through these trials that are "but a moment", they fill my heart with joy.

September '06

August '06

Lana September '06


So why am I posting at 5 PM when my children are all awake?

Because all four of them are emotional basket-cases right now. Sometimes my presence actually makes it even worse because then they all want me at once and expect me to help them. Right now they're dealing with it (sort of). I had to get away because I was becoming an emotional wreck along with them.

Lana has had a horrible day. Her first feeding was 1.5 ounces of torture, mostly for me. This last feeding was 4 ounces of torture. Usually I do not force her at all: though I am the once who puts the food in her mouth, she is the one that opens her mouth and swallows the food. She wouldn't have eaten anything at her feedings today if I wasn't very persistent. I actually held her nose at one point. Was this a mistake? Maybe. I sure hope not. Sometimes it is so hard to know what to do. It is scary when she is this averse because you don't know when it is going to end. Sometimes I wish I always had the right answer.

Hopefully I have something more positive to write tonight.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Best Toys

Why is it that the best toys are never meant to be toys at all? Hand the girls something with a lid they can put on and off, and they're as happy as can be. And I won't even go into the many merits of a cardboard box.

Of course, the best entertainment of all is a parent doing fun things. I had said that I need more exercise than dancing with my kids, but maybe not much. Between swinging them around, dancing, and being a horsie tonight, I'm pretty tired!

More of "What happens when you come to our house"

The following pictures were all taken in the last few days. Warning to visitors: It is recommended that you remain in an upright position, or this could happen to you.

Grandma is under there somewhere!

Our girls recruited the president of our Pittsburgh area church
congregations and his wife (who is their nursery leader) to be horsies.

Dogpile on Dada!

Often when Cary and I hug, we end up with a little person or two between us. Everett thinks it's really sweet when we hug. Yesterday he said "When I am big and I get married I will kiss someone on the lips." At what age does this actually turn into a gross-out for kids? The children also love it when we pick them up and Cary and I each kiss a cheek simultaneously.

Everett is really starting to think about his prayers, and the girls are learning to pray. At first, we would have them repeat what we said, but now they are starting to come up with some things on their own. It is so cute!!! I should really record it sometime. I love hearing their little voices say things like "bless" and "flam-il-ee". Lana sometimes says "Amen" before the prayer is over. They are also learning a lot of songs. Here are some of their favorites:

I Am a Child of God

Popcorn Popping

Once There was a Snowman

Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam

Friday, February 15, 2008

Better Late Than Never

Well, Cary got into a bit of trouble yesterday. It seems he planned on doing Valentine's Day a day late, but he neglected to inform me. (Sounds a little suspicious, doesn't it?) He has always been really good at doing sweet things for me, so all day long I was anticipating something. Today he took three of the children so that I could have some one-on-one time with Gwyn (and he could get my v-day gifts). Gwyn and I had a nice time coloring together. It is refreshing having just one at a time every now and then! It feels like everyone is in competition most of the time, for just about everything--toys, attention, etc. When there's just one, everything slows down and calms down. I can observe more of their individual personalities because they're relaxed and happy. Gwyn was calm and methodical. She was more interested in arranging the crayons than actually coloring with them.

Here are my goodies. ( The bag is filled with chocolate.)

And these are the Valentine Everett made this year. I couldn't post them yesterday because some of the recipients hadn't received them yet. (Yes, Cary wasn't the only one who was a little late.) Everett made mine with a lot of stickers, but after I presented him with his valentine, he decided to add even more stickers.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Dream

We are sitting at the table. I set out the food. Lana looks at me and smiles. She starts to eat. She is putting bite after bite into her mouth, chewing it, swallowing it as though she has been doing it for months. She finishes a whole dish of food and laughs her gleeful little laugh with a glint in her eye, as if to say "Look Mama, I can do this. I was only joking!" Then she wants more.

This is my dream--a dream we have been working for for nearly two years now. Right now we are actually at another crisis. It is hard to say what brought it on. Probably a combination of a number of factors: teething, illness, brief change in medication - who knows? It breaks my heart every time, seeing months of progress and precious ounces or even a pound or more of weight going down the tubes. I am so glad that I have Cary to hold me up at times like these. But I have faith that one day my dream will be realized and that my sweet little girl will want to eat, and even like it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Snow Fun

I have been hoping for one large and sticky snowfall this winter so that we could get out and build something with Everett. We finally got a few inches yesterday and today, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity (though I'm a bit under the weather and it felt so warm and cozy inside!). So Everett and I bundled up and headed for the back yard.

We started out building one snowman, but then we decided there should be a snowbaby. And in this house, you can't just have one baby, so we had to make three. Then we decided there had to be a snowmama and a snow boy too.

I know they look pretty lame without faces or arms, but I was getting cold!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Favorite Photos This Week

Maddie and Lana

These two were paused
in the middle of the couch gymnastics that
I never thought I would permit until we entered the winter blahs
with four active children!

Little Mister Pineapple-head

(We have a picture of each of us, except Cary, in this same pose.)


Everett had just come in from playing in the snow, and Gwyn promptly
put on his mittens and hat, and asked for help with the coat and boots.
She looked at the picture and said "Erett!"

Amy with the children

As soon as she comes in, the girls say "Coat". As soon as she is
seated and her coat is hung, if not before, she is covered in kids.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I'm feeling a bit out of control when it comes to my own health, so I'm making some serious goals at this point. I am at risk for becoming diabetic, among other things. My Grandad was, and my mother is hypoglycemic. I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with the girls. It was not fun (along with a lot of other un-fun things)! I want to be healthy and I know that the health of my family starts with me. Right now I feel like a sloth. Yes, I take care of the children and keep the house clean and organized, but that's about it.

Since I haven't been doing that well with self-control at home, I've decided that my self control must start at the grocery store! Cary is at least somewhat supportive of this whole idea. (I won't even list what he eats sometimes, but I can tell you it's not food.) We brainstormed together last night about what we could use as healthier replacements for our unhealthy snacks and stress foods. This is the list we came up with:

  • banana chips
  • trail mix
  • baby carrots
  • celery - blech!!!
  • baby spinach
  • grapes
  • cucumber
  • cherry tomatoes
Though a couple of these are unpalatable to one or the other of us, most of them will probably work. We are referring to a few of the above-listed items as "veggie cud". If any of you have any other suggestions, feel free to post them in the comments! We've also been having fruit for dessert most nights instead of some other sugary treat.

Exercise is another matter. I have never enjoyed exercise. I enjoy work. To me, exercise is a little like sunbathing. It doesn't accomplish anything useful. It is bo-ring, especially when you are by yourself. (Yes, it makes you healthier, but I think I would have a much easier time with it if I had to work in the fields or dig holes or something.) With that said, I do need more exercise than dancing with the kids. I'm just not sure what to do yet. I guess the ideal would be to get up early and go out by myself, but it's hard to get motivated for that, alone and sleepy. Anyone want to be my 6:45 AM walking buddy?

I'm going to hold myself accountable on this blog so that I have someone to report to. Here's to a healthy me!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Klutz Maneuvers

I walked into church today carrying one child and two heavy bags. Apparently I miscalculated when I tried to enter the pew, because I ended up flat on my face with one shoe about 5 feet away. Usually we try to arrive right on time, but today I was glad we were early so that only a few people witnessed this particular klutz maneuver! (And my motherly reflexes saved Lana from injury.)

At home today Cary was reading to the children in French and having them repeat the words. They were reading about toys, and came to "une poupée". Gwyn's repetition: "poopy?" Maybe she's not quite ready for French.

One of my recent favorites (in toddler English) is "bloke", which means "broken".

Thursday, February 7, 2008

When Angels Come to Stay

As I was mopping the floors today, I was thinking about the ways that motherhood has changed me (starting with my more efficient, and in part previously unnecessary cleaning methods). I decided to add these thoughts to the list of questions I already answered on motherhood.

Motherhood softened me. When I met Cary, my entire wardrobe consisted primarily of four colors: blue, black, khaki, and white. I added some green after that, but when Everett was born--prepare yourselves-- I bought a pink dress *gasp*. But the change went a lot deeper than that. Somehow it was not just okay to be soft: it felt good and right. I guess it felt like a quiet power.

I now mop walls, fridge, stove, dishwasher, and just about the whole bathroom every time I mop!

Being a mother has brought unconditional love to my heart. Even before the tiny beings are born, you love them. When they come and fill your life with messy diapers, lack of sleep, worry, and strain, you love them even more and feel joy in your stress. I feel like I began to have a better understanding of how our Heavenly Father loves us after I became a mother.

Now that it's gone, I recognize that I used to have a lot of time!

I eat more chocolate. (During particularly stressful days I have actually called Cary and asked him to stop for chocolate on his way home. He, being the wonderful husband that he is, actually gets it for me.)

I stay up later in a futile and exhausting attempt to add more hours to the day.

Everything in my house is now either locked, or placed at least three feet off the ground.

I have memorized a lot of Baby Einstein, Veggie Tales, and Disney movies.

To four small children, I am one of the most important and wonderful people in the world.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

More spinach please!

My kids actually like spinach! All four of them asked for more at dinner today, even after dessert. Woohoo! Everett now asks quite politely (sometimes after a little prompting), Lana speaks her own language, Gwyn says please, and Maddie says "Meese.... OK." I don't know where Maddie got that "m" sound, because she says almost anything else very clearly and accurately for her age--but we sure think it's cute! Here's a picture of Maddie from today:

11 Feb: I couldn't think of Lana's way of asking while I was making the original post, but have heard it since then. She either says "da de da da" and points, or says "Here Lana."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A post dedicated to my Dad

I remember a lot of things my dad said when my brothers and sister and I were kids. Right now I'm remembering one particular phrase that he repeated alot: "We're not allowed to have anything nice." This was usually said matter-of-factly, and with some resignation.

The following sequence of photos is an illustration of my dad's expression, played out in my home. Though the rest of our home has fared rather well in the year-and-a-half we've lived here, I already dread the many hours of work that will have to go into repairing Everett's room before we can sell our house when the time comes.

This is where the doorstopper used to be
before Everett stood on it:

This is where Everett's closet door used to be:

This is what can happen when the paint starts to crack at a seam right over a little boy's bed:

This is what can happen when you put a child in time out with a tambourine in his hand:

This is what can happen when you leave three children playing with stuffed animals together while you are bathing your fourth child. (This was after we had replaced the blinds that had already been destroyed.):

I don't know if you can see all the little dirty fingerprints, but they are the evidence of the vent being removed repeatedly by little hands. (To see my post about one particular event, click here.)

And last but not least, I don't know how or when these happened:

Monday, February 4, 2008

Farewell, and Welcome

On Sunday, January 27th, our beloved Prophet, President Hinckley passed away. He was 97 years old. I will miss President Hinckley, but the thought that he will once again be with his sweet wife gladdens my heart. I will always remember the way he spoke—so positive and encouraging. When I think of him, I think of gentle strength and a devoted energy.

President Hinckley

Today Thomas S. Monson was named as the new President of the Church. I have known him for as long as I can remember as a General Authority, and am looking forward to knowing him as a Prophet. When I was a child, his talks were the ones that held my attention most, as he told a lot of stories! I look forward to hearing him speak again in his new role.