I'd rather just jump right back into my blogging without explaining why I wasn't writing. I may discuss that at a later date. Sufficeth to say, I've been busy! Since March the following has happened (more or less):
*Brandon's job running his own consulting company took off (The CXPro).
*The school year ended.
*We took a six week trip out West. We left on June 27th and got home on August 7th. Where did we go? Ha! The question is more like, where did we not go? The highlights are thusly:
- Traveled through Ohio, Michigan (stopped to see friends), Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin (stopped to see friends), Minnesota, South Dakota (Mt. Rushmore!), Wyoming, and Montana so we could get to Alberta!
- Alberta: my grandmother's funeral (my last grandparent to die. She very conveniently died three weeks before our big reunion. Knowing how much she loved reunions, we're guessing she timed it so none of us would have to choose between her funeral and the reunion --we could all just come for both) and our family reunion in Waterton. Typical awesome Alberta experience.
- Brandon's father got married in the Payson, UT temple.
- We spent a week in Utah; the girls went to girl's camp with their bestie.
- Spent a week in Idaho at my parent's house with my sister and her kids.
- Spent a week near Oakley, UT at our BFF's cabin. They have 7 kids, we have 7 kids, we've been friends since college... you see how this is.
- Spent a few days with my sister
- Spent four days with Brandon's mom and step-dad camping in southern UT
- Went home via Arizona (Grand Canyon!), New Mexico (family and Carlsbad Caverns), Texas (the Alamo and friends), Louisiana (New Orleans and friends), Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee (friends), Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and finally HOME.
It was long, it was epic. Brandon was able to work in Utah and be with us the whole time! We saw so many friends, so much family, and we fit in an impossible (yet, now possible!) amount of fun. We stayed at KOA campsites along the way and at every state boundary we took photos of us standing in front of the state signs. Instagram was my scrapbook of the adventure! We truly had a wonderful time. Here's a quick glimpse (such a small glimpse, really) of some of the highlights (not in any kind of order!):
August was unpacking (luckily we had a very clean house when we got home due to friends who had stayed at our house and neighbors who had watched over it. Funny story: the friends who stayed at our house live in Provo, UT. We were in the same ward together for 12 years, but the husband grew up here in PA --in the ward right next to ours. Actually, back when he was growing up, the boundaries were different and he actually grew up in the ward we are in right now. Anyway, he has family still here and so they all came out to visit --right when we would be in Utah! So we did a house swap thing. We stayed at their house for a few days and they stayed here at our house for almost 2 weeks. It was perfect! We were even able to see them briefly when they returned to Utah and that was awesome. And they had cleaned the house before they left so we arrived to perfection. Such great people!).
August was also the month of school preparation. The kids started earlier this year (August 31) and so we had lots to do. Dentist, doctors, orthodontists, school supplies, clothes, shoes, a day at the shore (Ocean City, NJ!), and coming to grips with the fact that I now have a high schooler!
Speaking of the high schooler, here's a run-down of the kids and what's going on in their lives right now. And a whole bunch of shameless bragging:
#1: She's 14 and a Freshman in high school! Holy Cow! She started early morning seminary (starts at 6:05AM), joined the Art club, Conspiracy Theories Club (they bust myths), DuPont kids (they raise funds to help kids at the DuPont Children's Hospital) and was just elected as Freshman Student Body Officer! Well, she's one of four (apparently their high school doesn't believe in President and VP and such; it's more communal, I guess). For the year she's taking Honors Geometry, Spanish, Art, Health, Seminar English, Seminar Biology, and Seminar African/Asian Studies (Honors is advanced; Seminar is almost AP). She received her Patriarchal Blessing last week, and she's just a good, good person. I'm really proud of who she is becoming!
#2: 12 years old and 7th grade! She's still in the gifted program and is also taking Geometry. She's doing Lateral Thinking and Shakespearean Theater as her modules this year. She's also hoping to add Mytopia in the Spring (a board game that she and other students invented last year and are hoping to perfect this year). She's looking forward to Drama Club and I have her learning hymns on the piano and voice lessons will start soon (just from me. Ha!). She's also started taking Spanish, and I'm hoping the girls will start conversing in Spanish soon. I may have to tell them it could be their secret language since I don't know Spanish... hmmm... She is the only Beehive at church and has taken to YW really well. She continues to read voraciously and argue her points with wit and logic! I don't think a day ever passes that I'm not amazed at how different she is from me and how much I love it. Her confidence is infectious.
#3: I am so proud of this boy. His Misphonia makes things really difficult sometimes, and he does not like change. However, I'm happy to say that being 11 and going to middle school has --so far --been really good for him! 6th grade has made him organized. He has to keep track of all his homework and different classes, and so he's staying on top of it. We even had a miracle --he started and finished an English project almost entirely on his own! He loves school and his friends; and he's hoping to try out for the football team this next summer. For the month of August, he went running every day in the morning, and even convinced his sisters to join him a few times, even though it was initially their idea. Ha! He dotes on the baby and continues to be really helpful around the house.
#4: 3rd grade! This kid is growing up too fast. He is becoming a very good reader and he starts cello lessons next week. He's so excited to play the cello, and I'm excited the school has a free lesson program so it's more affordable! He's anticipating the start of Mileage Club at the school again (they run during recess and every time they hit a mile, they get another foot charm for a necklace). His behavior has greatly improved. I largely think, though, that I have improved my behavior towards him, and that has helped the most. The very most. He adores the baby like #3 and begs to hold her whenever he can. One thing that has been good for him is that he is in charge of #5 when it comes to school --the bus stop, needing help, finding things, etc. --and he is being a great big brother!
#5: 1st grade --and it's just surreal. This kid! I swear, he's just too cute for words. And although we've entered a new phase of frustration (sassy-ness and tantrums), he's improving. He's reading a bit on his own, now, and he just loves math. He loves recess the most because he can climb the monkey bars and do, as he told me, his "exercises." I imagine he might be an athlete because of how much he loves the outdoors and playing all kinds of sports. I am going to try and start teaching him piano lessons next week (wish me luck!). The only bummer is that there are no kids his age close to us. He pals around with #3 and #4 and their friends, but it doesn't always work. Breaks my heart to see him sad.
#6: He's 3! He's potty-trained! He's home all day with me! Because he doesn't turn 4 years old until March, I've decided to keep him home with me this year. It's been nice having him to distract the baby when I need to get a few things accomplished, and his favorite things thus far are: cars, trains, Strawberry Shortcake, books, snacking, and then running around with his brothers. He adores them and tries to join in with all their fun whenever he can. One thing I adore about him is when we're driving around in the van, and I will hear him singing so sweetly and softly to the baby to help her be happy.
#7: She's pure joy personified. I'm not joking. Not only has she been a healing influence for me, but she has been so good for the older kids, too. She'll be 7 months tomorrow and she's just about crawling. I noticed a tooth starting to make it's way up, too (yay?), and she enjoys crackers and bananas. I'm still nursing and mostly co-sleeping with her, but it's all good. I'm too tired to move her to another room where I'll actually have to stand up and walk down the hallway. I mean, who has time for that?? ;) I know this time will pass very, very, very quickly, and so I'm trying to enjoy all the present moments she gives us. I think her favorite person in the world (besides her daddy and his new beard --I'll show photos!) is #1. It's only natural, seeing how she's my go-to babysitter and looks like me a little bit. Ha!
So, there you go. My days usually look like this:
MOTHER ALL THE KIDS! (they take up the majority of my time)
HOMEMAKE ALL THE HOUSE! (I gotta teach these kids to work, don't I?)
LOVE THE HUSBAND! (he's pretty awesome)
LOVE THE HUSBAND! (he's pretty awesome)
READ ALL THE BOOKS! (while also on social media)
READ ALL THE BOOKS! (while also on social media)
FULFILL ALL THE CALLINGS! (I play the piano and teach Cubscouts stuff)
Life is good. It's really hard sometimes, and I still have my bad days, but I am...what do you call it? ... I'm... happy. Truly. Which reminds me! I'll update you on my mental illness next time, but here's a teaser: I'm doing really well. Like, REALLY well. (Knock on wood!)