Monday, April 25, 2016

Three years ago I was called as our ward YW camp director. I accepted, then added, "oh wait, I'm pregnant BTW. Due just before camp." So I didn't actually go, having a 2-week old and all. I'd also been pretty overwhelmed with the calling because I hadn't been to camp since I was about 15. I hardly remembered it, let alone knew what was going on these days. I'd also been called late - after leader meetings had already taken place so it felt uncomfortable to not know what I didn't know.

The following year was trek, so no camp. The next year, which was last spring, I was still serving as mia maid advisor and was released from the camp director calling and passed the baton on to a gal who was... yep. Pregnant! Hahaha. So she didn't go since she had a newborn by then. I did, however, attend as a tent mom. Our ward was pretty leaderless as all us tent moms were asked last minute when the others plans fell through, and that made it slightly more tricky for both us and the stake leaders. None of us moms had been to any planning meetings or had proper authority.

Yesterday at church I was extended the calling of being the ward camp director again. I'll be getting the baton BACK from the gal I gave it to, who has still never even been to camp herself. My calling comes late in the game, again. Some day I'd like to be there at the first meetings instead of playing catch-up.

I'm pretty excited though. First of all, I LOVED being there last year. I'd expressed interest in going again this year and asked for that week off of work already just in case. Months later not hearing anything I'd started thinking about alternate things to do that week. Back to plan a! Secondly, I'm glad for the redo opportunity at this calling that overwhelmed me so much before. Now I remember and have a better idea of camp itself and what goes on there. I'm excited to try to do my calling better than I did last time. (Activity days is another calling I feel like I sucked at, and know I could do MUCH better now that I own basic craft supplies, understand what the Faith in God program is, have a vehicle, know how to have a baby without going into hiding for 3 months, and have access to Pinterest ;-) )

My other calling continues as relief society activities committee member.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

More April Fun

 Brennan enjoys earning a little spending $ by working for Grandma and Grandpa. I'm just happy to see him having the opportunity to do some chores I can't provide for him.
She was SO sure that she would get a turn mowing the lawn next. And she was SO disappointed to be mistaken.

*Somebody* helped these monkeys get up there. I admit nothing.

I love this curly-haired kiddo

A webelo requirement involved the scout going on a 3 mile hike, and among things, completing a service project at or near the hike location. To accomplish this I arranged to hike and serve at Camp Alpine. Asher, Brennan, plus Clara and Willian Butler and I had a fun day doing that. One of the favorite parts was the obstacle course near the trail head.

Poor little tuckered out guy. He was a champ, struggling with the length but powering through.

Incidentally, this hike was one week after General Conference. That weekend Asher had slept, and slept, and slept. And had a fever on Sunday. But he went to school all week because he felt fine. Except he was super fatigued. He spent all week crashing early, stopping to take a "nap" outside between the busstop and our house, etc. The day after our hike he had bad ear pain, but was fine again Monday. Still, I took him to the Dr. because of the fatigue. He apparently has a bad ear infection causing it. Now I feel kind of bad to have pushed him to finish the hike. It was 3xs the Wolf required hike of 1 mile. Poor guy with legitimate tiredness issues. :-/  Well, he finished anyway.
 After a busy day of errands immediately after work and picking up the littles from the babysitter, we had to stop for a some lunch. 

A very Merry 11th Birthday to this guy! He had a stellar day, I do believe!



I enjoyed Asher's photobomb here. :-)

 Happy Birthday to these April kids!

I don't know if you can tell, but she completely dresses herself. ;-)

 Asher wouldn't join despite Brennan's 
invite for a sibling picture. 3 outa 4 ain't bad though, right?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

All About Them

Asher's such a fun kid. He is growing out his hair, while simultaneously feeling embarrassed about doing it. We need to figure out how to style it right - it looks positively unruly most of the time.

On St. Patrick's Day Asher realized his loose tooth was missing. He wouldn't let me pull it out before that, despite my warnings that this could happen. Amazingly, he found the tooth! We put it in a little bag and before it went under his pillow, it got lost. Yes, again. It may have even been found and lost another time at some point. So yeah, that was a couple weeks ago. Yesterday morning we were gathering for family prayer, so I was kneeling on the living room floor waiting and looking at Asher's cute face. Out of nowhere I wondered to myself "what ever happened to that tooth? I wonder if we'll ever come across it." Literally the second I finished that thought I noticed Brennan looking curiously at the floor next to me. Sitting not 5 inches away was the bag with Asher's tooth. I really don't think I'd seen it subconsiously or anthing either. The extra strange this is, this was the morning after having cleaned the living room THREE times the day before, including vacuuming. The floor was still basically clean, so where did the tooth appear from, and how did it get there? No one seems to know.

I won! I won! Several weeks ago we all waited for Brennan who was taking a while to join us for FHE. What was keeping was that he was creating this trophy which was awarded to yours truly. It's the "Artichoke Award" for eating the most artichoke at dinner that evening. Go me! ;-) 
Brennan cracks me up.

Another year, another pinewood derby. I took the boys to the workshop of Bro. Thomson again, who's a custom woodworker and a pinewood derby enthusiast. It's always great fun for the boys, and an AMAZING way to get the cars done because when it's scheduled, it actually happens. I think this is the first year that we weren't trying to quickly dry the last-minute painted cars hours before the derby too. ;-)

One day Brennan and Kieran came into my room, Kieran getting a shoulder ride from Brennan. He had his hands around Brennan's neck which, though they were both laughing, was also uncomfortable for Brennan. I suggested he should have Kieran put his hands on Brennan's forehead instead. This is what they got:

And quickly progressed to this:

They were having the time.of.their.lives!

Asher helped put on a great music program at school. It was joke-themed and very fun. There was one song about yodeling where a bunch of kids, including Asher, came to the front wearing their hats backwords and pretending to be punks, sang the yodel as "yo! yo! yo-del!" You could tell Asher was thrilled to be acting like a punk.

Found a frog the other day and Brennan bravely held it. In the end, when it never moved, even when Brennan accidentally dropped it, we thought it might be injured, or maybe just in paralyzing shock or something.

We have some kinetic sand, which the kids had out the other day. I've been finding bits of this multicolored sand everywhere. This dropping, left on the couch, had the littlest bit of pink mixed with the brown and looked exactly like a smiley face. Isn't that weird?

Ah, Kier-Bear. He can count to 13. Or 12. Definitely to 11, and then he says either 12 or 13 or both depending on the circumstance. He also goes on to hit a bunch of the teens, skipping one or two, if he's in the mood. He's such a good memorizer. Like Brennan, he learns songs and sequences really quickly.

After taking a break last Nov-Feb, the boys started up piano lessons again with new teachers. Brennan is seeing a lady in my ward who's husband recently passed away and is very talented on the piano. Asher see's her grandson, a high schooler also in the ward, for a discounted price. It's been a cool experience in a lot of ways. I like seeing their differences in what clicks with each of them, I like watching Asher learn from a teen, doing this for the first time. And I really, really find it interesting to see Brennan with his new teacher. Sis. Herrin learned within a minute of the first lesson that Brennan glances at the music, then looks down at his hands and just remembers it. He also likes to just pick things out by ear. Sis. Herrin has had Brennan working on his own composition, among other things. I think Brennan has a great ear for music, but his attention is what needs work. During the lessons, Sis Herrin will say something to Brennan or give him an instruction, then she'll quietly wait while he spends a minute distracted or playing out a tune he suddenly decided to try, then what he heard catches up and he gives his attention back to Sis. Herrin who picks up where they left off. 

What an interesting thing to behold. How often does Brennan get this kind of treatment, I wonder? He hears "Hey Brennan, pay attention" "Brennan, I'm talking to you" etc. etc. But I've gotten to watch what happens when someone gives him just a small time to finish his tangent-personal thoughts, then rejoin. And you know what, I'm pretty sure he's actually using that time simultaneously processing what the person said to him. When we demand he gives his attention in a way we recognize and answer right away, he's probably more likely to need things repeated because he didn't finish processing it to begin with.

The problem with an ADHD diagnosis is that is doesn't seem to really address what's going on. The more I watch Brennan and notice how he operates, the more I'm intrigued by it. He's a deep, deep thinker. At four years old he was asking me how Santa could be Resurrected if he lives forever already. The other kids haven't never wondered things like that. I get comments from Brennan's primary teachers ALL the time about his awesome questions and very deep answers. His therapist mentioned the idea of administering an IQ test for Brennan because often kids diagnosed with ADHD have high IQs. It's hard for me to see that as a possibility with Brennan though. Not that I don't think he's bright, but it's hard for me to connect high IQ to someone who struggles to achieve in school, who can't recall instructions, needs frequent reminders, and regularly acts impulsively. He isn't a big fan of reading, and performs under grade level on standardized tests other than reading. So I don't automatically think "High IQ" under those circumstances. And yet I also wonder, what would happen if Brennan could FINISH those inner thoughts that distract him? When allowed to, he shows great creativity and intricate ideas. I understand neither teachers, nor myself, nor the world in general can accommodate that very often though. There are certain expectations that when someone is listening they show it certain ways and respond under a certain time frame. It's hard to know how to best help Brennan achieve and be well prepared for life, but it sure is interesting to watch and wonder about him.

Just something I think about. But really, this was MY tangent when I actually just wanted to mention here how well the piano lessons are going and how fun it is to watch kids develop different talents and learning styles.

Aaaaaand, now that's it's jafter 3am, I think I'd better head for bed.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Visiting Idaho, part II

Playin' a little team Foosball. Brennan has gotten pretty good at it, actually.

All the Barry and Judi Stevenson grandchildren! First time for over 2 years at least.

I was planning to leave Saturday a.m. around 10:00, but when I found out that basically all the rest of the Stevenson family members would be arriving for a lunch birthday celebration of Grandpa Bud, I couldn't let myself leave just 2 hours before seeing everyone! I rearranged my plans and it was worth it. So nice see everyone and be a part of the family - in actuality - one last time. I still plan to take the kids and visit, probably at least once a year. But I'm acutely aware that it won't be the same. Eventually, it'll be longer that Brian and I are divorced than how long we were married for. I know time will change things. So I really appreciated getting to be a Stevenson and part of their reunion during this visit. I'm so glad to see some of the extended family again as some of them I likely won't ever again. It was a nice way to end our visit.

Happy Birthday, Grandpa Bud!

Cousins - Adam and Shay's 2nd daughter, Peter and Jill's oldest

Only missing a granddaughter-in-law (Jill), Grandfiance-in-law (Marrissa), and Brian. Not bad at all!

From the party, we headed for home. I decided the family in Boise was too far from home to stop overnight, but Shannon's was too far to drive after a late start, so we stayed in a hotel inbetween the two. It was Easter's Eve, but we made it work. Actually, it worked really well. I'd ordered a rollaway bed for the 5th person, but they also had this really long bench that Hollyn opted to sleep on. In the end, all the kids were cozily squeezed on one half of the room (Brennan strategically placed to break Kieran's fall if Kieran should fall out of bed, hee hee), and I had a full bed to myself. AND, I could hide by it to help the Easter Bunny out below the kids' sight.

As I expected, the younger three konked out right away. We'd arrived at 8:45, and 45 minutes later I'd checked us in, we'd had time to argue over who was sleeping where, the kids were in PJs,, in bed, lights out, and we all were laying silently. I laid there in bed at 9:30 incredulous by the quiet of a hotel room with 4 kids who'd just barely arrived after a long drive. And I waited for them to fall asleep.
After about 20 minutes I got up to check on the kids but Brennan was still awake. I tried doing some silent arranging since it was dark. But I worried about how to do anything that involved noise, and Brennan is someone who stays awake foreeeeever. I think he technically knows the situation now, but I still wanted to be sneaky anyway. *Luckily* Brennan wasn't feeling well. :-) He went into the bathroom to throwup and I seized the opportunity to frantically dump items out of plastic bags and cut open packages. Whew! Barely made it in time. Due to being unwell, Brennan fell asleep within minutes of getting back into bed and I was able to hide the eggs and get into bed by 10:00. :-)

With all the fun and traveling of the day before the kids hadn't really remembered or put much expectation into an Easter morning. So they were totally surprised and thrilled when they woke up  and found goodies and hidden eggs. At least for me, I think this was a particularly memorable Easter that stands out among the previous years. 

 Brennan got a book-on-CD of Tennis=Shoes Among the Nephites. I wasn't sure if he'd be excited or think it lame because he doesn't really care to read much when it doesn't involve graphics and/or isn't about middle school. Turns out it was the former. He requested to listen to it immediately on our drive, talked Grandma and Grandpa into playing it when he switched to their car at Shannon's, listens to it in bed, listens to it when doing homework... he just plays it over and over, sometimes starting at the beginning each time, like it's music. The novelty will wear off, but I think it's fun how much he loves having a book to listen to. He also got a rainbow loom he'd been wanting for a year or two now; Asher wanted a fedora hat and has been wearing it almost all the time since Easter. Apparently "everyone in school loves his hat". All of them received some church clothes/accessories, and some other thingys from Deseret as usual.

Out of chronological order, but this was stopping for dinner at Panera in Boise.

 We had to stop for a potty break, and Emigrant Springs Campground came up first. Right next to the restrooms was this mound of packed snow. Surprise snow play!

We enjoyed a wonderful and yummy Easter linner at Shannon and Bryan's, with Mom and Dad there too. It was fun to see their new house, and to celebrate Mom and Blake's birthdays at the same time. Unfortunately most of my visit was spent trying to halt a fraudulent spending spree through my Paypal account, but it was still a nice visit.

I had just Asher and Kieran for the last leg and we drove the straight 5 hours home with no getting out. One quick gas station stop but that was it - I thought I'd save a little $ by avoiding another restaurant meal so even though we got tired of the car, we just kept going. Got home, and I had to use the bathroom reaaaaally bad. I sent Asher to get our only house key from the Sparks and it turned out they weren't home. In fact, they were just leaving Portland! I started neighbor hopping just to use the bathroom before I could decide what to do about being locked out and not a single friend was home either! Eventually I used Safeway's bathroom, and decided to get us dinner at Burger King 2 blocks from our house while I waited for my manager to get home and unlock my house for me. Ah, the best of intentions, lol.